The Great Divorce

This is not a blog about writing. This will only sound like a blog about writing at the beginning.

Here’s the thing: fiction is not real. I know, I know, this was my exam in my last year of Theory of Literature, and I spun a whole lot of cr*p on fiction being the reality and the reality we think we know just the shadows on Plato’s cave wall. Sue me. I’m good at spinning fiction after all, and that’s what the teacher wanted to read, and I could serve it up. (The second question about the use of punctuation in a poem was more worrisome, since I missed the classes on the use of punctuation in every language I learned. That’s my story. So I had to ace the first.)

That was a piece of fiction, yes, but it served the essential purpose of fiction: to cut reality into a logical fragment of action-reaction the reader can understand (in this case the action being I flattered the teacher and the reaction being I got the degree.)

Seriously now, in real life any event has way more than an origin. Those of you who are war gamers know that. Those of you who are historians, too.

On my shelves sit several books entitled “the causes of WWI” or words to that effect. They agree on say 80% of material, but the rest will be different, and the chain of sequence will be different.

Yes, some of this is for the same reason I wove the nonsense about Plato. You need an original thought for a thesis, so you extrude one no matter how unlikely.

But the other is because in the real world complex events – not even wars, but things like “why did this meeting happen at this time” – involving several people can be interpreted from several angles. It’s a big like a puzzle. Was it the shooting of the archduke? Was it the theory of war the colleges had been teaching? Was it the machine gun? Was it a million other big and small events: the lack of access to a warm port; Germany’s ascendant industrialism; the family politics of England. Etc. etc. There is no definitive answer, no clear chain of events.

Fiction is satisfying because it presents you with a clear chain of events. If the horse hadn’t thrown a shoe, the battle would have been won. Or, if the tyrant hadn’t ordered the arrest of the revolutionary, then everything would have gone smoother. Or—

Humans like clear chain of events. It’s entirely possible that it is what led to our ascent to primacy as a species (after grass. Everything in this world is designed for the comfort and convenience of grass.) But the events we’re supposed to chain in a sequence are simpler chains. They usually involve an individual.

It’s sort of like they say our brain is rigged to relate to maybe 100 people and civilization and population growth have outstripped our ability to connect? Also, we tend to think people we see routinely, even on television, (not me. I don’t see television routinely) are friends, so people overestimate the size of their circle? Like that.

Our brain is supposed to be able to chain action reaction on a simple scale: Ogg went hunting tiger alone, Ogg got digested. Bad idea, don’t be Ogg.

Our simplest stories, which formed the base of learning in pre-literate society, run along those lines. The moral is clear, the story short (sagas served a different purpose, usually the binding of a human tribe together or the impressing of the neighbors) and the chain of action clear.

I was born into a very old culture. Some of the stories I learned were Roman and probably come from older cultures than that. Like the one with the mother asking the goddess to grant her boys the greatest boon possible. She struck them both dead. Grim people, the Romans. But what it meant is that you have to be sure what you ask for is clear to the other part. And the chain of action/reaction is clear.

That is the root of our fiction. Well, that and the sagas. Those fit the way our brain works. Because our brains, let’s face it, were designed for things other than the world we created with them. Even the sagas have simple chains of causation.

Even the Illiad. … “the son of Peleus was furious, and his heart within his shaggy breast was divided whether to draw his sword, push the others aside, and kill the son of Atreus, or to restrain himself and check his anger.”

The beginning of the chain of events that ends in grim classic fashion.

And that – THAT – is how our brain works. It’s also why we tend to get frustrated with grey goo fiction where you pull the strings and nothing happens.

But this is not a blog about writing.

We’re living in a world saturated with fiction. Novels, games, movies, tv-series. It could be reasonably argued that the common person, in the day to day, has never had more fictional narratives pushed at them. We’re fed stories from the moment we’re born.

But, you say, wasn’t it always like that? Grannies told stories, didn’t they?

Sure, grannies taught them. But grannies had limited time, and so did kids. Read sometime about 5 year old colonial kids minding the cows.

We have more leisure than any other humans at any other time. And we have more fiction.

This in itself is not bad, and you won’t hear me complain. I labor in that vine.

To an extent, even novels aren’t that bad. They allow a chaining of events that has more than one source. Well, the best ones hint at it, sometime. For all the complaints about Heinlein he did that.

But our favored sort of fiction, the action/reaction is in control of the hero. We want a minimal of elephants falling from the ceiling. And that’s what good writers give us. Successful writers.

This is not a blog about writing.

This is a blog about the human brain, about its preference for simple stories, about having its stories fed back to it in the form it prefers.

This is a blog about how it’s important for us to check ourselves. I consume as much fiction as anyone else. Maybe more. So I have to check myself. Particularly when an idea sounds seductive.

Lately there has been talk about “how long America has” and about “America having an amicable divorce.”

I’m told the talk is on both sides of the fence. I have been sick/busy lately (getting much better, thank you, and finally reading and writing. I think for several reasons – not just one cause – my brain has been shutting down from the top down, and it’s now recovering from the bottom up. Eh.) and haven’t checked lefty blogs. But I’ve seen this on the right.

“Amicable divorce” for a country the size of ours.

What a pleasant dream. No more engaging in the culture war, nor trying to change the political equation which, yes, is down stream from the culture. What an alluring wonderful dream.

In a country the size of ours.

The fight over the assets alone would turn hot in a New York minute. The division of people by belief? How do you even accomplish that? How many of you are in politically mixed marriages or have kids or parents who don’t agree with you and who, for some reason, can’t be moved away from you? How many of you work in an industry/are trained in a skill in a field where most of your colleagues, let alone your boss, is to the left of Lenin?

How can grown people, humans who are otherwise smart, talk about this, as though it were even an option, something on the table?

I know they’re thinking the USSR broke up into multiple nations without major blood shed (so far. Nations collapsing/empires collapsing is something that involves decades. Never mind.)

But that was an ersatz empire formed of ancient nations/entities. It was a conglomeration of tribes. When pressure comes, humans return to their basic tribal affiliation (which is why Europe is going to get very ugly in the next few decades.)

The US isn’t tribal. The Marxists (I first typed this Marxissss. We should start hissing it back at them as they hiss other words ending in ist at us – mostly mistakenly. Only we won’t be mistaken) have managed to convince some of the more begnited that they’re a tribe, but even they aren’t, and when pressure comes they’ll fall apart.

We’re a nation of belief, and our division lines are along belief lines. Individual versus group; state power versus individual action; free association versus regimentation; distributed benefits versus earning your way.

There are shadings to beliefs. There are shadings to tribes, too, but people can believe they belong even when fractionally related. It’s harder with beliefs.

Into how many groupings do you break this country? How do you make people move? What happens when they don’t want to?

Could it happen? Peacefully? It could be argued it’s happening. People tend to move where they feel safe and can thrive. Hence the benighted being left in control of the wrecked cities.

BUT such a natural process, to happen peacefully (and peaceful is relative. There will be incidents) will happen over centuries. It’s not over night. This is not a story. This is not a made-for-tv movie. There is no Kobayashi Maru trick that hands us the keys to a safe “divorce.”

When dealing with millions of people and a nation the size of a continent, fast isn’t peaceful and peaceful is glacial.

Because it’s not a story.

In the stories we’re steeped in from childhood the chain of events has to be clear to be satisfying. In the real world, when dealing with more than 10 people, chains of events and decisions get muddled. Dealing with millions, you have a chaotic system and those are dicey to maneuver.

I was puzzled how anyone could even suggest that. Intelligent people.

I’m used to the left side of the isle coming up with this stuff, at least in their fringe elements. They also thought they could levitate the Denver Mint. But… rational people? Rational people who know history?

And then I looked from the other side. It’s a wonderful dream. And our culture is fraught right now. It’s fraught because we’re fighting back. So there is a “war in heaven” or at least a war in haven, from our hobbies to our work place, to our very families.

It would be easier, it would be oh, so appealing, to be able to say “depart from us in peace. You do your thing, we do ours.”

Unfortunately that’s fiction. That’s not something we can cram into the lifetimes we have allotted in reality.

In reality the best we can do is to continue the dirty, tiring, slogging fight in the cultural trenches.

Remember the left screams loudest and gets more unhinged when they’re losing. When they’re winning they can pass for reasonable. And remember we conceded this fight before, and that’s how we got here. We conceded it because we thought culture didn’t matter, only political decisions did. We were wrong.

Now we must fight to take culture back: inch by inch, hobby by hobby, profession by profession, discipline by discipline.

I doubt we’ll finish in our time, though we might get lucky. It might flip suddenly. But it won’t flip cleanly. It won’t flip without a fight.

You can choose to fight mano-a-mano with words and thoughts, or you can have your divorce. But it won’t be amicable, it won’t be easy or fast, and people like me will probably end up with nowhere to go. Heck, most people will. After unimaginable devastation most of us will end up without a homeland of the heart.

Or we can stay together and fight for our culture. The only way out is through.

In the end, we win, they lose. But we must keep fighting.

Be not afraid.

 

340 responses to “The Great Divorce

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I think part of the “Amicable Divorce” thing comes from a wish that we could just “walk away” and live far from “those people”.

    It could be argued that mankind spread across Earth because of “I hate Ogg so I’m taking my followers far away from him and his followers”.

    For that matter, while we talk about America being settled by people “driven away”, there’s a strong element of “I don’t like those people so I’ll move to America away from them”.

    So while I agree that an “Amicable Divorce” isn’t possible (and hope the non-Amicable Divorce is not necessary), I understand the dream.

    So where’s my FTL drive, I want to move elsewhere. [Smile]

    • Oh, I’m okay with colonization away from Earth. Faster, please.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Where are those Space Dragons to give us a lift? [Wink]

        • In both series they appear they’re hostile.

          • My main recollection of Space Dragons involves having cats throw nukes at them. I guess there are others out there though.

            • oh. I meant MY series. In one they just appeared (Shifters) and the other series is to be written yet.

              • Ah, haven’t read that one yet, just finished A Few Good Men last night, I’ll put that on the list after the first two Darkship books (I never seem to manage to read series in order).

                • LOL So far I’ve made each book stand alone. Through Fire is through, though you’ll miss some nuances if you haven’t read others. Which reminds me, I have some people to kill.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Just don’t destroy Earth. [Wink]

                    • “No intention of” still leaves room for happy accidents.
                      Just saying….

                      😛

                    • I think bidding is already closed on which locations you want astroided/nuked/ earthquaked/surprise volcanoed for this month, but Sarah may be opening up voting again (feed the kitty, get your “favorite” city or town red-shirted).

                    • From what I remember, if I nuke Las Vegas and Seattle, I might get to hook up with Ally Sheedy… so I know what I’d target.

                    • Dude! Sheedy is, like, almost 55 years old! She has a daughter nearly as old as she was when that movie was made!

                    • Sheedy is, like, almost 55 years old!

                      So? I hit 50 this year. I’m not going to be chasing after someone who’s still in high school.

                      Besides, I needed a punch line to add to the clip talking about lobbing nukes at Las Vegas and Seattle. Maybe I went for the easy one, but that’s why I buy books instead of write them. 😉

          • Patrick Chester

            “…the kind that eats the sun every thirty days. It’s a nuisance, but what can you expect from reptiles?”

  2. I’d like an amicable divorce myself, although I am fortunate to live in a deeply conservative part of Texas, so it doesn’t hit me regularly on a personal level.
    But there are so-called intellectuals, media personalities, and politicians that I wish to never hear anything from again. Best I can do at present is to economically boycott their TV shows, musical performances, books, movies and political campaigns.

  3. I hear you on the ridiculousness of the notion of such a divorce being amicable.

    I grew up in California, land of fruits and nuts. And splitting the state into less unwieldy parts has been a topic of discussion for at least three-quarters of a century, due to vast differences of outlook on numerous fronts.

    It’s never going to happen. There is far too much at stake, and by that I mean water. The massive transfer of water from the north to the south isn’t going to stop barring some totally unforeseen upheaval, political or natural. And while people may dream of the state of Jefferson, I don’t expect to see it.

    • Similarly, how old is the State of Superior movement in Michigan to separate the UP and the LP? I remember bumper stickers from the 70s. I suspect it was old even then. It was probably stronger before the Mackinac Bridge was build meaning the 40+ years I remember are the weaker portion.

      Yet the territory given to Michigan as a concession for giving up claims on Toledo remains part of the state to this day.

    • I am curious. California already imports water from other states. How would it splitting prevent a similar situation between North and South as already happens between California and more easternly states?

      • Because the deal that moves water from north to south inside CA was one negotiated and enforced internally at the state level, back when LA was a sleepy farming community with a LA county population (in 1900) of 170,000.

        Breaking up CA would require renegotiating that agreement now that the LA County population is over 10 million. I imagine under a new agreement it would cost them a lot more for the water.

        • I don’t think it would. LA has existing and rather senior water rights, rights that transcend state boundaries. If California split, LA – and the Central Valley – would still have claim to all the acre-feet they currently get from up north. What would change is that the north, cut off from the vile political culture down south, might actually start more water projects making more water available for use.

          • You think that the political culture of the south is responsible for the state’s current issues? I’ll note – as I’ve often done before – that pretty much all of the statewide offices in California are filled by people from the north.

          • “Senior water rights” are an artifact of the current state constitution. You can BET they’d be re-negotiated in a split situation.

            • Doubtful. Where I am, in Idaho, the senior rights holders are the Tribes, by treaty with the federal government, according to our Water Master.
              You want messy law, you want Western Water laws.
              Negotiated, no. Fought over with deadly weapons again? In a heartbeat.

              • Sara the Red

                And in this day and age, vicious lawsuits as well. Pretty much every feud in the little Wyoming valley I live in can be traced back to water rights. (Well, and someone’s spouse sleeping with someone else’s spouse, but so many people have married/divorced/remarried/divorced/remarried their original partners it’s almost incestuous…)

            • But I’d be willing to put $$ down that each new state would put prior appropriation in as the water law, which means you have the same quirks. Plus now teh Fed would be in when the new states are negotiating their Interstate Water Compacts, and that would really muck things up. I suspect, after the trillions of dollars in legal fees and dust both settled, we’d see a very, very similar water-law and supply system to what currently exists. (Just imagine how much the lawyers would charge for renegotiating the Colorado River Compact alone! *evil yet beatific smile, because I want to sell the popcorn and beer*)

            • No, senority of water rights is a fundamental legal principle throughout the west. It has nothing to do with state constitutions.

              • *raises eyebrow*

                Actually I was say that water rights and the seniority thereof is a fundamental can of worms/powder keg throughout the west. It is, has always been, and will be for the forseeable future, a hot-button issue that has been fought over both legally and physically. If you look at the laws, lawsuits and countersuits, and legal judgments of such cases throughout the west; you will not have a clearcut consensus on anything except that water is wet.

            • I doubt it.

              One of the things I studied extensively in law school was water law.

              The really old rights in California – the ones that predate the early twentieth century – are *vested property rights*. While they can be curtailed in times of shortage, they can’t be removed without compensation as a taking.

          • really, they wouldn’t, as they would have to negotiate with the new state for water rights. Or, the new state would just stop maintaining the aqueduct about a hundred meters short of the Kern county line.

    • California is a construct of the way it was settled – first south to north by the Spanish then from the port of San Francisco eastward by the 49ers during the gold rush. That left the urban centers of LA and SF, and later grew the urban chunk of Sacramento driven by the state bureaucracy, as the gorillas in the room for the rest of the state as far as vote counts – the non-urban areas just get swamped and ignored.

      Balkanizing CA by slicing off the urban centers that dominate statewide politics is the dream of the places that are not urban centers, but doing so would shatter the water bargain that allowed the growth of the state. The state water system moves a lot of water from the Sierras westward to the central CA coastal cities, and more importantly it moves incredibly vastly more water from the major Northern CA river watersheds that feed the Sacramento River delta southwards to Los Angeles. Statewide politics will never accommodate changing that bargain, so it will never happen.

      The northern and southern coastal urban centers have a huge incentive to not let it get anything close to that – they already know how hard it would be to secure 700 miles of rural canals, isolated pumping stations, and vulnerable surface pipelines, without which LA would shrivel up and blow away.

      Now if cheap power made it so that the coastal urban centers could get desalinated seawater in quantity cheaper than what it costs to keep the canals going, it might be possible. Maybe fusion could do that.

      But even then I’d bet it would not be an amicable divorce – there’s too much invested in the current power structure.

      • Feather Blade

        doing so would shatter the water bargain that allowed the growth of the state.

        And wouldn’t that be a shame. /sarc

        I can’t bring myself to care about California’s water problems. You build in a desert, what do you expect to happen?

        And now some celebrity who shall remain nameless has brought up the asinine idea of diverting the Columbia River to California…

        • Well, if LA wants to pay what a willing seller up in the soggy northwest wants for the water rights, plus pay to do the engineering and construction, plus pay for all the right-of-way leases along the route, and for all the environmental studies and challenges, why not?

          Note however that it might be easier in the end to dodge the pipeline route over into NV and join up with the Colorado river canals rather than face off with the greenie NIMBYs here in CA.

          My advice to the folks at the intake end up in OR: Charge A Lot.

          And again, maybe the marginal cost of fresh water will end up driving a tech advance to power desalination plants local to demand along the CA coast.

          • And again, maybe the marginal cost of fresh water will end up driving a tech advance to power desalination plants local to demand along the CA coast.

            The greenie NIMBY’s will then whine about the poor little fishies and other sea life…

            • They already are.

              • yes, which explains recent avocado and almond prices. Nothing is more depressing than driving north on the 5 and seeing grove after grove of dead almond/orange/avocado trees.

        • “the asinine idea of diverting the Columbia River to California…”

          It already is, it goes directly from Astoria down the coast to the Bay area. If they would just clean all the pollutants out of the reservoir it is stored in it would be drinkable.

          • Seawater can be cut with fresh water to be drinkable at roughly a 50-50 ratio. (Apparently that’s a trick you can use to extend your drinking water when wrecked at sea.) Cut it with fresh water and sell it as an “electrolyte drink”.

  4. How can grown people, humans who are otherwise smart, talk about this, as though it were even an option, something on the table?

    Because we read too much sci-fi growing up?

    No, seriously, how much classic sci-fi has an element of that American tradition of abandoning the decadent culture and founding that shinning city on the hill but on the next hill over. It is as least as old as early Heinlein (too many to mention), as young as Allen Steele (the first two Coyote novels as a minimum), as Cold War as Hogan (Voyage from Yesteryear), and as cyberpunk as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (Red Star, Winter Orbit in Mirrorshades).

    And that’s just off the top of my head.

    That being said, those are over the hill and far away stories so Paul’s FTL joke is appropro.

    Perhaps we need Bill Whittle’s alternative space program as our still long but slightly shorter peaceful path to divorce with them getting the house and us getting the planets?

    • Yes, of course, and as going off to colonize I’m all for it and it’s doable after some — mumble — technical issues. BUT separating the land/people/assets we have? Oy. Henry VIII’s Great Matter is nothing to it.

      • The Other Sean

        Nah, just send the left to colonize the surface of the sun. Problem solved. 🙂

        • Or Venus…Kornbluth may have turned out to be a visionary.

          • It’ll be hard but I’m willing to stay behind while they go off to Antarctica so they can be safe from the global warming.

          • I understand floating cloud cities would be habitatable on Venus. Unfortunately, progressives would want light rail linking them.

            • William O. B'Livion

              Nah. Cable cars (where the cable is overhead).

              • I would require almost-magic (or anti-grav and materials we don’t have) for any length but damn you, William, that’s an image I’d like to do.

                • Can you provide a pointer? I thought existing lighter than air tech could get above the cloud cover.

                • Try it with mono-molecular filament, the kind we would make if we had gravity-free manufacturing.

                  • Assuming your cities are quasi-stable, have the main cable stationary (load bearing) and let smaller cables/electricity do the movement. Now, the cable can be permanently affixed at one city, and allowed to ‘tension’ by a wheel and a large counterweight that dangles under the city. Some concern that if the cable drops enough then the counterweight would be exposed to the sulfuric acid rains, so there is some distance limitations, also cable is one way when in use.

                    • Is there a reason for not having two cables, to allow two-way service?

                    • “Assuming your cities are quasi-stable”

                      Thats quite the assumption. Take two balloons, tie a string between them, then put a weight on the string. On the other hand, it would solve the mass transit problem. People could walk from one city to another after the inaugural run.

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              Nah. Spend a few hundred years reducing the carbon content of the atmosphere and starting the planet’s rotation. Much more worthwhile in the long run. Of course, *how* you do that is the big question.

              Me, I would cover Venus in swamps with genetically-engineered dinosaurs. Because I’m a traditionalist.

              • I’m sure there’s some bacteria somewhere on Earth that would be perfectly suited for starting the process of fixing Venus’ atmosphere. We just need to get some nice spores and dump them there, the wider the variety the better.

                Getting the rotation going would be more work. It’d probably be nice to add a proper size moon for the advantages of tides, too . . .

                • Venus has a severe shortage of hydrogen. That could be solved: there is nearby source. The trouble is, that source breathes fire at you.

              • We could get the SJW colonies to run really fast at the equator to get the rotation going in the right direction.

                On a serious note, why bother with direction of rotation to colonize?

                • Christopher M. Chupik

                  Day-night cycle, for one. But I have heard the suggestion of taking the excess carbon from Venus and building a planet-circling ring to provide an artificial day-night.

                  • Why does it matter which direction it rotates? As long as it rotates you would have both day and night. If you are really concerned about it rotating the wrong direction, I guess you could design Venusian clocks to run backwards. 🙂

                • “On a serious note, why bother with direction of rotation to colonize?”
                  A venus day is almost an earth year long. SJW colonists would spend a lot of time in the dark. They should feel right at home.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Of course, the question is “how do you convince them to do so”. [Evil Grin]

          • Tell them 97% of scientists agree, Mars IS the place to raise a kid.

            Or are you some sort of science denier?

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Susan, I want them to settle the Sun so we can settle Mars. [Wink]

              • Oh sure give them dibs on the powerplant that runs the entire universe…..

                All the solar energy they could possibly want while we stay behind to deal with peak oil.

                🙂

              • The Other Sean

                Though I fear we may hear many complaints from them about Solar Warming. 🙂

            • The Other Sean

              I’m pretty sure somebody already told them “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise a kid. In fact, it’s cold as hell.”

              • “And there’s no one there to raise them, if you didn’t?”

                Where’s Willis?! I want bouncers!

              • I know!! If we send enough people to Mars, then that would change the total mass, which would change he orbit, bringing them closer to the Sun and Ta Da! Warmer climate!1!11!!11!!! If we wanted to speed it up we could make all the immigrants take hair spray and giant bottles of freon to jump-start man-made global warming…..

                • The Other Sean

                  We could also try cometary bombardment to add one of the most potent greenhouse gasses: water vapor.

                • If we send enough people to Mars, then that would change the total mass

                  If we send the Marines, maybe we can make Mars tip over like we’re doing with Guam.

                  • If we send the Marines, maybe we can make Mars tip over like we’re doing with Guam.

                    Yeah and if we send enough people to Venus and have them shift to one side we can solve the rotation problem!

                    • Don’t suggest either one of those things too loudly.

                      About 10-12 years ago, there was an article in one of the Lefty magazines warning of the deadly dangers of mining the moon, because we would quickly remove enough lunar material to destabilize it’s orbit and destroy the earth with tidal waves / earthquakes / etc. /headdesk

                      When I get back home, I’ll see if I can find the filk I wrote, with Leslie Fish’s review (since I borrowed the tune to “Hope Eyrie”) and encouragement, pointing out how ignorant they were.

                • too complicated
                  send cows
                  bovipogenic global warming

            • In the last 100 years, not one single child has died on Mars!

        • Well, the outer layers, at least, per Baxter.

      • So, would we possibly be better taking some of the energy and money we spend on the political fight and fun the idea Bill Whittle floated after the 2012 election of building an alternate space program? And can we get proven NASA designs for it via FOIA?

        I’m not saying all the energy we’re putting into the political fight and none of the energy we’re putting in the cultural fight (which is more important than the political one) but some of the political energy JIC?

        Hell, for that matter would an alternate space program with success be part of the cultural fight showing what you can do without government?

        I certainly would feel better about it than I have the political fight in years.

        • I am working on (read researching for) a series of juveniles to at least inspire that. The problem is right now we have several “can’t get there from here” which are not just a mater of throwing money at it. And so for now we must fight for the culture, in order to win time to go elsewhere eventually. Note, even Bill is fighting for the culture.

    • William O. B'Livion

      If you colonize somewhere else they, or their ideas will follow.

      You can’t run away from human nature.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        But as long as there’s somewhere to go, you can get some breathing room.

        Freedom flourishes on frontiers.

      • Boone’s rule: if you can see the next fella’s smoke, move on.

        • Lazarus Long’s rule:
          “When a place gets crowded enough to require [identification cards], social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere.” – Robert Anson Heinlein

          At least, I think that was Lazarus Long. I have it as one of my email signature quotes, along with Heinlein’s ignoring history quote, Eric Flint’s sociopathic corporations quote, and CJ Cherryh: “English is a marvelous edged weapon if you know how to wield it.”

          • Well, it’s certainly in the copy of The Notebooks of Lazarus Long that I keep by my bed.

  5. Reality: The little lies we tell ourselves to make it through the day.
    Mostly, our problem is with naming things. “No-Fault” divorce. Tell that to the little 4 year old whose life has been made a living h*ll. The reason may be legitimate; however, the consequences are far from faultless. But, that is overall the failing of our apparently too affluent society. Why take the burdensome responsibility of a productive member of society, when the State is Mother, the State is Father. You are an exceptional special butterfly, raised on a strict diet of unicorn farts; be a victim, it is easy.
    Freedom is hard, freedom is painful, freedom requires effort. How much simpler to ‘wish’ we could just have a nice civil separation and go our different ways, and most importantly, there be no consequences of our actions. After all, that is really what stops us from shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. If we shout fire, we are responsible for the consequences.

    • Professor Badness

      That’s a very good way of putting it. Thank You for sharing.
      And I can easily see who would be the “4 year old” in the American populace.

    • One of the sad things about the energy spent pro and against gay marriage is that that’s the tiniest of sideshows, and matters only because of the mistake of ceding what should be largely private contracts to a one-size-fits-all legislature which meddles and politicizes private matters. Gays quite reasonably want to get the benefits in Social Security (partly a welfare program based on paternalistic 1930s ideas of family), taxes, and benefits. None of which would exist if it hadn’t been built into the welfare state’s laws.

      No, the real issue with marriage laws has been sentimental warpage that results in most places and most courts defaulting to awarding custody and house to Mom, expenses to Dad. The MRM and Red Pill guys are correct in seeing that this lets mothers who want More get out of a marriage and destroy a family by ejecting the Dad while keeping his money. From “what’s best for the children” (a justifiable role of judges) to “men don’t matter and they’re usually abusive. But they should pay.”

      I’ll write more about this on my real machine. We don’t need civil war, we need freedom — the meddlers, in the name of Good, stop individuals from doing things that would improve their lives; only a state-approved school, state-approved house, etc etc. The parasites have their hooks into everything, and less and less can be done without some committee’s approval. In planning, where you once had zoning to prevent noxious uses from harming others, you now have a widespread belief that every project should be subject to approval from a political process. Almost every big city now has corrupt and politiczed development approvals processes that make housing enormously more expensive.

      The guy shot in the back while running from the cops recently had been jailed for failing to pay child support, which is set based on his suposed income. He lost that job because he was jailed, but of course the amount he was expected to pay was not changed.

      • Once the government provides tax breaks or benifits for ‘marriage’, they have to own up to a definition. Personally, I would suggest we do away with the benifits and tax breaks and eliminate the need for a State definition. There are always unintended consequences, like seniors shacking up instead of marriage because marriage reduces their SS benifit; laws forcing people to cater events they find offensive on moral grounds; wreaking historic structures to comply with the ADA… zoning commisions.
        Who ever let the Feds get involved in the first place? What happened to limited government?

        • Yep. Have a national registry, or whatever. But yep. At the very least do what Portugal did (granted, after a civil war) and separate civil and religious authorities. I.e. ministers can’t perform weddings that are legal and legal weddings are not religious. (This is why we have two wedding anniversaries one in July and one in December.)

        • William O. B'Livion

          It’s not just tax issues.

          Historically the problem was (and still is) inheritance.

          • The author of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” died without a will. He and his girlfriend never married. Too bourgeoisie. She is now suing his surviving relatives who inherited every Krona.

        • Eliminate the income tax in favor of a consumption tax. That eliminates much of the basis for the various tax breaks, loopholes and penalties that accrue because we try to favor certain social arrangements — favoritism which then entitles our meddling in such arrangements.

      • “We don’t need civil war, we need freedom — the meddlers, in the name of Good, stop individuals from doing things that would improve their lives; only a state-approved school, state-approved house, etc etc. ”

        And exactly where, and when, in all of recorded history have you ever seen freedom wrested from the hand of a tyrant WITHOUT a war?

        • We still have elections. An awakened population and a party with an agenda to dial back the bureaucratic state and defund the ptogressives in academia and government could change things without war. Though not without rioting and violence by those whose rice bowl was threatened.

          • Sure we do. Elections riddled with fraud, to elect politicians who won’t represent us, to preside over unelected bureaucrats they have no control over even if they wanted it.

            • I’m not disagreeing with you. But when the debt-financed pseudoprosperity evaporates, the people will more likely see who stole the future and spent it on their friends. Then a “mind your own business and watch the accounting” party can sweep.

            • William O. B'Livion

              The fraud here (outside of Chicago and a few other big cities) relatively minor, and could be overcome with a big ass searchlight.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Spain after Franco’s death. Franco’s will turned over power to King Juan Carlos I and King Juan Carlos I restored Spain to a constitutional monarchy.

          From what I’ve read, Franco knew what Juan Carlos would do after his death.

          • Pinochet, the only South American dictator that is hated by the Left, also voluntarily turned over power. In his case, it was the result of an election. I still have some very vague memories of hearing about the election in the news, and the accusations of government vote fraud.

            And then the results were announced, and Pinochet voluntarily agreed to step down when he lost.

        • The Other Sean

          Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus gave back his power willingly enough. More recently, several states in east and central Europe saw tyrants toppled with little bloodshed, let alone war, during the 1989-1992 period.

          • George Washington also voluntarily relinquished power and History tells us that he was called a tyrant by many of his contemporaries.

            For that matter, George W Bush voluntarily yielded the reins of reigning and his tyrannical inclinations were on all the network newscasts.

        • The Velvet Revolution.

          • Which was an interesting story, as was the Hungarian shift. [deleted loooong bit about Habsburgs, looking West instead of East, and so on] And the split between the Czechs and Slovaks was also, Odd. Apparently your average Czech and Slovak-on-the-street are still miffed about it. because the politicos pushed it through without asking people. Or so I was told by the Czechs I chatted with.

          • Only if you disregard the 40 years of Cold War that surrounded it. And also the example of what was happening next door in Romania and Yugoslavia.

        • East Berlin, November 9, 1989.

      • If gays were truly interested in the tax benefits, they would have been satisfied with civil unions, eventually pressing for a federal equivalent. No, the gaystapo – by no means a majority of homosexuals, but the most vocal and motivated – is driven by a deep hatred for “normal” society, especially Christianity. They want to rub the noses of Christians in their lifestyle precisely because it will hurt and offend the Christians.

        I think society has an interest in stabilizing relationships to reduce sexual competition, streamlining inheritance, and encouraging pair-bonding. It also has an interest in encouraging the family structure that will best develop the next generation of citizens. That’s why I think there should be a three tier system. First is marriage, a purely religious structure with no legal aspects at all. Anyone can marry anything else, and anyone can refuse to participate in a marriage. Want to marry a rutabaga? Have at it, just don’t expect the Catholic priest to officiate. Next comes civil unions. This is a legal status that may – but doesn’t have to – coincide with marriage. The spouses (and there are only two, see the bit above about pair bonding and sexual competition) are essentially next of kin and share property, including the tax burden that comes with it, but that burden is reduced compared to single status. It is rather easy to dissolve, with the major issues being the disbursement of joint property. Finally, there’s the parental union, which provides higher tax benefits, but is only open to couples with minor children and is substantially harder to dissolve – basically only abuse and adultery.

        I’m telling you, I could fix a lot of problems if I were only given carte blanc for a couple of months. I would probably go down in history as “the Terrible” but I’m OK with that.

        • Bleach your hair white, style it into a widow’s peak and call yourself Draco. Promise to enact a draconian policy. Pick the right time to run and you are easily elected. Then insist that the Congress and Supreme Court have no business impeding your enactment of important laws that are for the good of the country.

          Attack all critics and even mild demurrers as racist bigot sexists who are trying to deny the American people the benefits you were elected to provide. Insist that all opposition make public all of their tax returns since 1986 and document fully all items in order that the public be aware of what kind of people are blocking your working of the public will.

          Make sure all news editors appreciate the reasons their tax returns are being audited. Promote important artists and writers to cabinet posts and Arts & Rights councils, awarding large grants to those found to be especially deserving.

          Make sure all corporations understand that your family members are available to sit on their corporate boards and keep them advised of pending policy decisions.

          Explain to the public that while some are calling for you to terminate all citizens over sixty and harvest their organs for transplant you recognize that is a policy too extreme and will accept a termination age no lower than seventy-two, with organs to be harvested gradually in order to avoid flooding the market.

        • You’re right. A dictator like Napoleon could clear away the cruft of layer-upon-layer of poorly coordinated, antiquated laws and impose a reform overriding all the special interests. Good luck if you are the one!

          Your proposal is pretty sensible and looks a lot like what I propose: a variety of contracts to support the different goals of couples. See: http://jebkinnison.com/2014/05/14/view-marriage-as-a-private-contract/
          and http://jebkinnison.com/2014/04/26/marriage-contracts-give-people-more-legal-options/

          As for the militant gays, we may be discussing them soon if Sarah gets my guest post up. I can tell you that civil unions were not very satisfactory, because I was in one in California from 2000 to 2005. While California tried to make it effectively the same, the huge number of places where marriage is encoded in law — and the Federal lack of recognition — meant it was different and confusing. Even in CA it took years, and every year the state would send us a letter telling us how our relationship contract had changed as the Legislature tinkered; this is the same uncomfortable feeling straight couples have when legislators meddle with their marriage rights. Meanwhile, it meant nothing in most states, and hospitals could still refuse to allow visits and decisions without recourse. When CA allowed gay marriage, doing income taxes was a nightmare since California required a joint return while the Feds would not allow one, so you had to do a dummy Federal return as if you were allowed to file jointly as well as your actual federal separate returns for filing.

          A clear distinction between civil unions and religious or whatever marriage nationwide might have worked, but it was never possible to get most states or a post-DOMA federal government to act on such a reform, which would have removed a lot of problems for everyone.

          • I’m not surprised that civil unions were fraught with problems and continuously changed, that’s how innovation works in a democracy. That’s also why a large number of people are truly conservative.

            Now if the pro-gay-marriage folks had pointed out the problems with civil unions and been receptive to suggestions short of completely redefining marriage – an overloaded term with strong emotional ties in a large portion of the population – I think they would have found far less resistance. Instead they decided to declare themselves the inheritors of Martin Luther King, Jr. and traditional marriage the modern-day Jim Crow and smear any opposition as homophobic. I frankly don’t have much interest it making life easier for such people.

            • No, but consider the people I was talking to today on AIM who are very upset at the activists but feel like they’re being punished for the activists’ actions.
              And personally I think it should be marriage, or else it will drain straight unions (look at France.) But you know my views.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                I feel sorry for the innocent gays.

                But emotionally, I feel that if they don’t want to be “punished for the actions of the activists”, then they should be out there “kicking the activists”.

                Of course, I realize this is unfair but after reading an idiot trying to tell me that GoFundMe dropping a project to help a baker play a “fine” is God telling us that “Gay Marriage Is OK” has gotten me pissed off.

                • Except there is a difference between say Muslims (it’s a faith and involves a certain activity) or political believers and people who just want to live their lives the way they are, and quietly, and meanwhile there are idiots out there screaming in their name. As a Latin woman, I feel their pain.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Intellectually, I quite agree. Emotionally, is another matter. [Sad Smile]

                • I confess I am not noticing a whole lot of “Not In My Name” type protests — although that may owe something to the Scheiß Sturm experienced by the hoteliers who made the mistake of treating ted Cruz as other than an enemy of the state.

                  As for that idiot claiming “GoFundMe dropping a project … is God telling us [ANYthing]”” I am left wondering when GoFundMe became not only a church but a divine oracle.

              • That’s why I make a clear distinction between gays and the gaystapo. Being gay doesn’t make you an asshole, and there are more than a few straights who love putting on the brown shirt with a fabulous armband.

            • “Now if the pro-gay-marriage folks had pointed out the problems with civil unions and been receptive to suggestions short of completely redefining marriage …”

                      Words can be redefined, they’re in World 2.  Physical reality isn’t quite so easily changed, it’s in World 1.

                      There is a large amount of evidence that human society requires an institution linking a man and a woman in a binding, long term relationship.  There is almost as much evidence that this institution must be recognized as distinct and different from relationships involving two men or two women.  If there is any evidence that a society can survive for any length of time with relationships between same-sex couples recognized as identical to the opposite sex relationship of marriage, I am not aware of it.

              • Nah, in ancient Greece they were considered superior. And they survived.
                You know, there’s also no evidence showing that “marriage” between a man and a woman survives when reproduction is on demand only or on wish only and either part can end said contract at a word.
                Reality — the reproduction thing — is already changed fundamentally (yes, I know there are slip ups but they are statistically irrelevant, particularly since a lot of those are on demand) and we’re in complete terra incognita.
                Are there dragons here? Undoubtedly. But the genii can’t be put back in the bottle, and so we must forge ahead into the unknown.

                •         That wasn’t what I asked, Sarah.  In Greece, to the best of my knowledge, a relationship between a man and a man was NOT regarded as a marriage.  A marriage was regarded as a fundamentally different thing than a homosexual union.

                          “Redefining” marriage to say that a relationship between a man and man, or a woman and a woman, is the same as a marriage, is not something which on the evidence is possible of accomplishment, anymore than “redefining” a dog’s tail as a leg will make it possible for the dog to walk on it.

                          We must indeed forge ahead into the unknown.  But the evidence is that relationships between two people of the same sex are fundamentally differ from marriage.  Pretending otherwise will harm everyone.

                  • You’ve made a dog’s breakfast of an argument there, lacking sufficient content as is necessary for rebuttal. Assertions without support are merely opinions and rely on the perceived perspicacity of those presenting them, which is a problem for you.

              • Jeff Gauch

                There’s also no evidence that a society can survive any length of time with heavier-than-air flight. That’s no argument for shutting down Boeing.

                Look, gay marriage isn’t going to have any effect on straight marriage and procreation. If homosexuals aren’t permitted to marry their preferred partners, they’ll just stay unmarried, with the adverse social effects we see in every population with low marriage rates. The only way to get gays back into the breeding pool would be to force them, make children the only source of end-of-life care and impose legal sanction on homosexuals. That last part is deeply immoral and will earn you a spot on a lamppost right next to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

                • I thought the gay marriage thing was on the “Stuff Not To Talk About Because The Fights Are Boring And Painful” list?

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    That’s what I thought but Sarah didn’t say anything this time. [Frown]

                    • Same-sex marriage is a diversion from the real problem of a culture which no longer values and seeks to preserve opposite-sex marriage. To cite Holy Writ:

                      Caesar Rodney: [a brawl has broken out] Stop it! Stop it! This is the Congress! Stop it I say! The enemy’s out there!
                      John Dickinson: No, Mr Rodney, the enemy is here!
                      Caesar Rodney: No! I say he’s out there! England! England closing in, cutting off our air! There’s no time!
                      [suddenly very weak]
                      Caesar Rodney: No air…

                      Rather than quarrel over the trunk we ought acknowledge the elephant in the room. The institution of marriage has survived far greater insult than gaiety, and is threatened now by its own rotting core than by parasitical appendage.

                    • Sarah decided to give it ONE bite. meh.

                    • It was kinda an outside intrusion, and I can see why folks responded… but if we can all remember to inform folks that the horse has been beaten to death and we’re all sick of it, it’ll take care of that problem. ^.^

                  • I need to add it to the list, but yes, it is.

                • The issue of Same Sex marriage is a sideshow, a three-card Monte game on the cultural Midway while the real show — the destruction of marriage as an institution for acculturating young barbarians — is going on in the main ring.

                  HT Dr. Helen for pointing to this Suzanne Venker column:
                  Why men won’t marry you
                  Where have all the husbands gone?

                  That’s a question Peter Lloyd tackles in a series in London’s Daily Mail about Britain’s marriage rate, which is at its lowest level since 1895. “The state of matrimony is not just ailing. It is dying out faster than a mobile phone battery,” Lloyd writes. “For an army of women, Mr. Right is simply not there, no matter how hard they look for him.”

                  Things are no better this side of the Atlantic. [SNIP]

                  In the span of just a few decades, America has demoted men from respected providers and protectors of the family to superfluous buffoons. Today’s sitcoms and commercials routinely paint a portrait of the idiot husband whose wife is smarter and more capable than he.

                  There was a time when wives respected their husbands. There was a time when wives took care of their husbands as they expected their husbands to take care of them.

                  Or perhaps therein lies the rub. If women no longer expect or even want men to “take care of” them — since women can do everything men can do and better, thank you very much, feminism — perhaps the flipside is the assumption that women don’t need to take care of husbands, either. And if no one’s taking care of anyone, why the hell marry?

                  For women, the reason is obvious: kids. Eventually most women decide they want children, no matter how long they put it off to focus on their careers. So they often nab the best guy they can find, usually the one with whom they’re currently sleeping, and convince him to get married.

                  If the man refuses, we call him, as Smith notes, a “commitment phobe.” But is that fair? Perhaps these men know all too well that women initiate the vast majority of divorces — anywhere from 65-90 percent, depending on demographics. And when they do, they take the kids with them and hang hubby out to dry with the help of a court system that’s heavily stacked in their favor. In the past, Mom got the kids because she was home with them doing the thankless, unpaid, mountainous work associated with that role. Today, neither parent is home, so there’s no reason the default custodial parent should be Mom.

                  So remind me, why would a man marry today?

                  • Today’s sitcoms and commercials routinely paint a portrait of the idiot husband whose wife is smarter and more capable than he.

                    Don’t forget that unless she’s the main character, and has a Properly Feminist Lifestyle (lots of business success, few if any children) she’ll be one of the dumbest female characters, too.

                    Meanwhile, the cads will only be dumb when it makes a sympathetic female ‘win’.

                    That said, I notice the article makes the standard confusion between some (men/women) and all (men/women). Really doesn’t help those of us who didn’t fit the supposedly majority program, and probably depresses the number who are willing to admit that they’re of the traditional “mutual care” inclination. Kind of like the “half of all marriages end in divorce” claim– when you look at census surveys of what anniversary first marriages reach, it doesn’t drop below 50%, except for one instance.
                    40th anniversary, and then only for women. (Men are several percentage points higher on the marriage reaching anniversaries, since they tend to be the one that dies first.)

                    Nothing quite like being told that you’re so rare as to practically not exist. 😦

                •         Completely nonsensical.  You are ass/u/ming that there is such a thing as “gay marriage”, that “redefining” marriage as something that can occur between any two people, regardless of gender, will make it true.

                          But, as I pointed out, the evidence is that this can NOT be done.  So far as I can determine, many cultures accepted long-term relationships between people of the same sex, but none of them thought it was a marriage.  This suggests that the nature of marriage is such that it can only take place between a man and a woman.  And given that apparently ALL the cultures that recognized long-term, open relationships between same-sex couples insisted that those weren’t marriages, it strongly suggests that calling such relationships “marriage” will not make them marriages.

                          If this is correct, then the question that follows naturally is ‘What will actually happen when the impossible is attempted?’  It won’t be that gays will be married to “their preferred [same-sex] partners”, because those relationships won’t be marriage.  Given that attempting the impossible usually has bad results for those who attempt it, this should be thought about very carefully.  Because even if pretend marriages have no effect on actual marriages, that doesn’t mean they will won’t have effects elsewhere.

                          As for your assumption that I would wish to force gays to marry and have children, I too would regard that as deeply immoral.  But I didn’t suggest that they do so.

  6. “It would be easier, it would be oh, so appealing, to be able to say “depart from us in peace. You do your thing, we do ours.””
    —————————–

    Also, there’s no longer anywhere to depart *to*. A few centuries ago, the malcontents could pack up and move (either voluntarily or by force) and relocate to a sparsely settled area. That’s no longer an option.

  7. William O. B'Livion

    What a pleasant dream. No more engaging in the culture war, nor trying to change the political equation which, yes, is down stream from the culture. What an alluring wonderful dream.

    What would make one think they’d leave “us” alone afterwards?

    Their goal isn’t to live how *they* want, it’s to make *US* live how they want.

    I know they’re thinking the USSR broke up into multiple nations without major blood shed (so far. Nations collapsing/empires collapsing is something that involves decades. Never mind.)

    What do you define as “major”? Because there’s been a lot of it so far (Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea/Ukraine &&etc.)

    • That is what I mean. There was no blood shed INITIALLY (well, not that hit the news here) but this is not a done and over thing. It takes decades.

      • Chechnya’s been pretty brutal. A lot of that is likely because it was a part of Russia proper, as opposed to being one of the outlying states (as opposed to, say Ukraine, which had been a part of Russia for centuries, but was considered a “separate” republic under the system established by the USSR).

        Georgia and Ukraine less so, to date. Putin’s also had some things to say about Khazakstan that seem to have gone largely unnoticed. And the Baltics are definitely getting worried.

        • Poland is getting worried.

          And I think while the Georgian war took a shorter time than in Chechnya, the Georgians involved in the fighting there, and the Ukrainians involved right now against Russian troops in spite of Bez Rubashki Tsar’s denials and the imaginary “cease fires” that Secretary Kerry believes in, would say it was/is plenty bad enough.

          • Right. I forgot that Poland had been directly threatened. The Baltics have been in the news more recently, though, so I focused on that.

            I’d also be slightly worried if I were Romania. But the focus so far has been on the areas more traditionally dominated by Russia.

            • Sara the Red

              I do wonder how Romania feels about it all. Their “transition” when the USSR broke up was far from bloodless. I lived there for 18 months in 2001-02, and in two of the three cities I lived in you could still see the bullet holes in the buildings downtown. As in, lots and lots and lots of bullet holes. One woman–my age–I spoke to remembered spending that Christmas pretty much lying on the floor in her home city, on account of the fact that if you raised your head too high it was likely to be blown off by a stray bullet. And then, of course, they have Moldova just off their northern border, and so far as anyone can tell, Moldova never got the news that the USSR no longer exists. (Or rather, they are still in deep, deep denial about it.)

              • Ceausescu was reportedly a horrible ruler. He wasn’t just repressive, he also had some very bad ideas. For instance, during the ’80s there was a massive problem finding space for orphans in Romania’s orphanages due to Ceausescu’s policies. Think “reverse Chinese one-child policy”.

                The immediate trigger for Ceausescu’s fall was a rally. In 1989, while the other Soviet puppets were replacing their governments, it looked as if Ceausescu might hold on. But a political misstep caused him to call for a political rally in December of that year. Rallies were typically a staged event for him. But ironically, at this rally apparently no one cheered. He grew flustered… and the writing was immediately obvious on the wall to everyone. As you noted, there was lots of shooting before everything was done. And it’s generally believed that in lots of cases, both sides of the firefights were “on the same side”. The suspicions that existed under Ceausescu meant that neither side could trust the other. But despite that, I suspect that most Romanians were glad with the trade-off. Some shooting, yes. But Ceausescu was gone. He was that bad.

                My understanding is that Ceausescu’s immediate replacements were rebranded communists. But I believe the current leadership is democratic.

              • Romania and Hungary are nervous, because after Ukraine . . . They are also eyeing each other because of Transylvania. Too much history in that area for it to be a comfortable place just now.

                • From what I’ve heard, the Hungarian government is moving in a more authoritarian direction. And voluntarily moving back toward a Russian orbit. Could just be the news media spouting off about things that they have no real understanding of. But if it’s true, it’s cause for concern.

                  • Putin has made public statements about how certain nations need to understand whose sphere of influence they properly fall under…

                    • Yup. And according to the old Russian paranoia, every European country bordering Russia’s pre-1991 borders belongs within the Russian sphere of influence. The former Soviet republics in particular are expected to understand that it’s their duty to join the Commonwealth of Independent States.

                      And if they don’t, well…

                      The conspiracy theories floating around right now generally state that the Ukraine is *very* lucky that it was a Malaysian Airlines flight that got shot down. And not an Aeroflot flight that was supposedly scheduled to fly over a different town with the same name.

                      Are the theories true? Who can say? But can, say, Poland afford to assume that the theories *aren’t* true?

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      And who can those countries trust to aid them if they decide otherwise? Obama?

                    • Sure. Didn’t Obama say “If you like your nation, you can keep your nation”?

                    • But can, say, Poland afford to assume that the theories *aren’t* true?

                      Now that is a question that answers itself – what Poland can afford is “Hello, USA? Can we order some more F-16s, and some of those new F-35s, please, and oh, did we tell you we built this new base, now conveniently empty, that coincidentally would comfortably accomodate a US Army Armored Brigade?”

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Will Obama come through for Poland?

                    • I believe that Poland has offered space for bases. The US considered replacing German bases, which the Germans complained about with new ones in Poland. Then Germany raised a fuss at the thought of the loss of the income generated though our presence.

                    • Speaking of which, insert various snarky comments that I’ve seen today regarding the Japanese PM’s visit to the US, and continued assurances of US support toward the defense of Japan.

                    • Since FlyingMike posted his comment at the same time I did…

                      There are currently US troops in the Baltics. My understanding is that this is a recent development. I don’t know if there are currently any plans to move US troops into Poland, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it has at least been discussed for the exact same reasons.

                      Oh, and I’ve yet to see anything that convinces me that the F-35 isn’t a piece of junk…

                  • Perhaps the operating theory is “better to be a live puppet”?

                    • I think it has to do more with what Russia prefers in a government versus what Europe prefers. Assuming the stories about a more authoritarian Hungarian government are true, then they’re likely to catch less flak in the Russian camp than they are in the EU camp.

                  • I suspect the Hungarian shift is 1) nationalistic and 2) anti-EU more than pro-Russian. And Putin is predictable, as are the Russians. Right now the US is, um, a little too flexible and variable for our allies comfort. (Yeah, that’s the polite way to phrase it.)

                    • Fair enough.

                      And yes, I understand your polite phrasing all too well. I *really* hope we get someone better in the White House in 2017 (and not someone like, say, Warren…).

          • Poland is right to be worried. After all, over the last three centuries, they haven’t had a country for more than half of that time.

            • Ironically, Poland, as constituted today, is more “former Germany” than “former Russia”. Stalin pushed the borders westward following the end of World War 2. Doesn’t change the fact that the primary threat to Polish independence at the moment comes from Stalin’s figurative heir.

        • The blood shed has been started, and I doubt that we have any idea of the real casualty numbers. They range from a known 20 in a single incident in Georgia to possible thousands in the Ukraine with no sign of stopping.

      • William O. B'Livion

        It’s the hit the news here thing.

        Officially the USSR dissolved in December of 1991. The USSR had sent troops into Grozny (and gotten chased out) in November 1991.

        Shooting started in 1992.

        • Well, there was apparently a fair amount of shooting in Nov. 1991, but to be fair, the fellow that rolled into Grozny in a manner that makes clear that he thought it was an administrative movement to a house of ill repute was a total and absolute moron.

    • Yep, if this nation is a marriage between Left and Right, it’s an abusive one. The Left CANNOT let us go our own way because our way would make clear the lie beneath their philosophy.

      Look at the world today: Any flavor of leftist has someplace they can go, from social democracy Canada, Britain, Scandinavia, etc.; fascist China, to full-on communist North Korea. Any one of those countries would accept the political coup of taking in Americans, and would probably treat the immigrants better than the native population – at least at first. But the Democrats aren’t lining up to get the poor and disadvantaged into these “advanced” countries of “opportunity,” they’re trying to implement the same policies here. Because the last 30 years have shown that socialism doesn’t work, and the more socialist the system, the poorer it does. Eliminate the comparison and you eliminate any argument against putting the Good Men in charge.

      • But Jeff, the reason why the socialist policies in those other countries don’t work is because the greedy US is monopolizing all of the wealth! If they could just properly socialize the US, then the entire world would enjoy Utopia!

        • Pulleth the other one, for I do faith believe that it is adorned with a multitude of bells.

  8. Amicable divorce? Would it look like the partition of India, when they tried to make separate countries for Hindus and Muslims and 14 million people had to move all of a sudden and there was all kinds of violence and killing, ensuring that India and Pakistan would be enemies and spend years at war? I think “amicable divorce” was the idea behind that one too.

    • And “East Pakistan” told the rest of Pakistan that they could go take a long walk off of a short pier.

      We now refer to that region as “Bangladesh”.

    • Look at how many Tories ended up being run out of this country.

  9. Here’s the thing: fiction is not real,

    Gahhhhhhhhh! HOW DARE YOU!!!!!

    OF COURSE fiction is real!!! How else can we have Anthroprogenic Global Winter Global Warming Climate Change? How else can we oppose the War on Women, Campus Rape, White Police Gunning Down Our Black Youths, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Islamophobia, Homophobia, Vaginophobia, Bureaucraphobia and all the other evils of which our Enlightened Leaders and Mainstream Media warn us?

    The problem is that Reality is not Fiction. THIS MUST NO LONGER BE PERMITTED!

    (Checks to make sure the check box has been checked. Wonders briefly how many boxes could a check box check if a check box could check box?)

  10. …and the smile on the face of the tiger…

  11. One of the points I keep making with people is that the stories we tell each other and ourselves are the things that shape our behavior. Humans are natural mimics–It’s what we do, and how we learn oh-so-very-much of our behavior. I’m sure that some things are probably at least somewhat based in our genes and cells, but I have to wonder at how many times I’ve found myself unconsciously resorting to behavioral scripts in unfamiliar situations, ones I’ve seen played out before me by parents, peers, and yes, fiction.

    If I hadn’t encountered the ideas about citizenship and duty that are wound up in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers when I did, my life would have been very different. That’s just one example, a relatively minor one, in the grand scheme.

    Stories have consequences, out in the real world. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that people pattern themselves and their behavior on them. That’s why they exist, and why the idea that Terry Pratchett has about “Narrative Causality” resonates so strongly. It is, indeed, a thing. A very real thing.

    If you doubt, consider the many ways that the “Slender Man” meme wormed its way into the collective consciousness. It started out as an amusing little horror story, over on Something Awful back in 2009.

    In 2014, two 12 year-old girls tried killing a classmate in order to become avatars of what they took to be a real entity. Stabbed their victim 19 times, and if not for purest fortune in the form of a passing bicyclist that found her when she crawled out of the woods, would have killed her.

    Harmless stories.

    What you tell as a tale today may make itself real, tomorrow. As a spinner of tales, you bear a certain responsibility. How much of the nihilism in our society today stems from the fictions we swim in, in our collective cultural sea? J.D. Salinger wrote Catcher in the Rye for adults, but we used it in education, as an example of “literature”. Care to trace the effect of that, through society?

    Protestations that we storytellers make, that it’s not our fault what others do with our ideas? Are they really that valid? Do we bear no responsibility for the eventual fact of someone putting our ideations into effect? Say that those 12 year-old girls never encountered the Slender Man meme: Would they have used something else as an excuse, or was that mind-seed something uniquely capable of forcing itself into the real world through them?

    Stop and think about this, for a moment: Why are the fights about Sad Puppies so vicious? Why did the SJW types seek to capture the Hugo process and co-opt it, in the first place? And, conversely, why is our reaction to what they’ve been doing for years so visceral?

    To a very great degree, the mindspace surrounding the storyteller is cultural high ground. If you own it, you shape absolutely everything about society.

    What, do you suppose, is more influential: The tales we absorb from our mothers, in the cradle, or the social programming that they try to lay down elsewhere? Why are so many “children’s” fairy tales able to be interpreted as cautionary tales? All that “around the campfire” crap is cultural programming. And, we’re the ones who do it.

    The Jesuits had it right: “Give me a boy until he is seven, and I will give you the man”.

    My belief is that if you give me the storytellers, I’ll give you the culture.

    • I’m not saying stories don’t matter. This is why I fight. I was raised IN Heinlein books. BUT stories still can’t be wished wholesale into truth and truth tends to be unholy complicated by “everyone who doesn’t live behind my eyes.”

      • Hmm Must have been a hardcover.

      • Oh, I know you aren’t, Sarah. I didn’t mean it to come out that way, as a criticism of what you’re saying here–I was more trying to get across a reinforcement for why it’s important.

        Stories can’t be wished into reality, but they are a hell of a lot more influential than many are willing to acknowledge. Care to imagine a world where Harriet Beecher Stowe didn’t write Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Would that world’s history include the Civil War, as ours fought it?

        How many people model their behavior and conduct on archetypes they encountered only in fiction? Care to guess how many movie scenes I saw reenacted in front of me, as I monitored what the young men and women I had under me tried to turn themselves into leaders, as I put them into those positions? Or, how many times I watched them pull behavioral scripts I’d given them by example, through my own conduct? You’d be amazed at the ratio–Depending on the person, it was usually around 50-50, with some reaching as high as around 80-20, in favor of copying stuff they could only have seen in movies. The leadership scenes from Platoon, for example? I must have seen those played out in reality a couple of dozen times, right down to body language, tone of voice, and mannerisms. If you watch for it, that kind of thing is positively spooky.

        Storytellers are creators and communicators of culture. Control what they say, and the number of people hearing them, and you’re a long way towards controlling the direction a society is going to go. That’s why Gramsci and all the other communist agitators put so much emphasis on capturing the “soft” sources of this stuff, and making sure they got control of the gatekeepers.

        • “Care to imagine a world where Harriet Beecher Stowe didn’t write Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Would that world’s history include the Civil War, as ours fought it?”

          Yes. I can not imagine a world in which the lack of that novel led to a different resolution of the issue.

          • Different resolution? Unlikely. Slavery was going to go away, no matter what. Precisely how we achieved that resolution, however?

            The Civil War as we fought it? Almost inconceivable, to tell the truth. For one thing, the timeline of the run-up to the war would have changed immeasurably. The amount of animosity on both sides that was stirred up by that book is inconceivable to us, today. Lincoln might well have not been elected, absent the furor it created. Lincoln himself reputedly acknowledged that fact when he met the author.

            Remove the passions stirred up by Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and it’s entirely possible that we would have muddled through to the late 19th Century without actually going to war over slavery. At that point, the real-world consequences of slavery would probably have reached a crescendo that virtually guaranteed a voluntary end to the institution. As an example, Great Britain would have probably used the excuse of slavery to end trade with the South, after the Suez enabled easy access to India and Egyptian cotton. That probable sequence of events alone would have meant the economic basis for slavery as an institution being eliminated. Without international trade, the South goes bankrupt, and it’s not too likely that the North would have taken up the slack, either.

            Of course, arguing an historical counter-factual is always going to be difficult, but there are other examples of story-telling intruding into reality. Pearl S. Buck and all the other missionaries in China were key influence factors in why FDR chose to apply the economic pressure he did to Japan during the 1930s, which resulted in the way WWII worked itself out. Without the steel and oil embargoes we applied, mostly because of the pressure from the various missionary groups in China and their publicity efforts, Japan would have been very unlikely to chance war with the US.

        • The Godfather saga was a myth — but it became the model for countless inner-city gangs. You want to see what the gangs were really like, watch Little Caesar, Public Enemy and (the original) Scarface, movies starring people who had grown up with the gangsters they portrayed on the screen, made for an audience that lived with those gangsters all about them.

          Ever wonder why so many gangbangers shoot their handguns sideways? That’s how they see it done on TV.

          Why have the terms “cowboy” and “John Wayne” become sneers in the mouths of those deriding a certain American way of addressing the world? (Yippee-ki-yay, Mr Falcone.)

          The Art of Politics, in large degree, consists of seizing upon and selling to the country a vision (e.g., a myth, a fiction) of what America is. That is why Reagan is revered to this day by conservatives and why the Obama presidency is following the path of LBJ and is ending in the fire.

          • “Ever wonder why so many gangbangers shoot their handguns sideways?”

            I served with a guy who grew up with friends in those circles, I asked him about the sideways thing and he said (I’m paraphrasing) it was because the objective of the exercise was to be seen shooting, not to actually kill the other guy. Killing the other guy would start a full-on gang war, and nobody wanted that, so everything was done to degrade accuracy as much as possible.

            I still don’t really understand why they just – I don’t know – NOT SHOOT AT EACH OTHER.

            • For the same reason the peacock has that stupid tail: signalling.

              • Yeah, I know. If only our species had developed a less violent and more precise method of transmitting information. Maybe a modulated series of pressure changes transmitted through the air, or a series of shapes etched or imprinted on a surface?

                • The thing about signalling is that it has to cost something, or it doesn’t signal. Talk, infamously, is cheap.

                  • In January 1950, American Secretary of State Dean Acheson said that the United States had a vital “defensive perimeter,” a line that the Soviets could never cross without threatening America’s core national security interests. In the Pacific, Acheson said, that line ran from the Aleutian Islands off Alaska to Japan, through the Ryukyu Islands between Japan and Taiwan, and south to the Philippines. Conspicuously left outside the American “defensive perimeter”: Korea.

                    That talk proved very expensive.

                    Chamberlin’s talk with Hitler in Munich, 1938, proved pretty expensive in the end.

                • “Maybe a modulated series of pressure changes transmitted through the air,”

                  A 1911 being rapid fired produces a modulated series of pressure changes transmitted through the air. While admittedly violent, it tends to precisely transmit the information that the sender of the signal is unhappy with the receiver.

              • Ah. so eloquent. Thank you Mary.

            • Because it’s all for the look

    • Consider how juries now expect complex forensic evidence of the most open and shut cases — and how little idea of the cost and time required to gather such evidence.

      Consider also the apparent fact that our newspapers and TV news churn out more narrative than fact six days a week and twice on Sunday.

      Further, I submit to you that Ayn Rand’s philosophy has reached far more people through Spiderman than through anything she wrote.

      We don’t live in the Real World, we interpret the Real World through fictional glasses.

  12. Professor Badness

    The only “amicable” divorces I have known was between people who had simply fallen out of love and were more like strangers that lived in the same house.
    (An example would be a young couple that were separated by deployment, and simply grew apart.)
    That is not how the left and right feel about each other. This would be about as bad as any knock down, drag out fight that any divorce has seen.
    You think it’s bad when a couple fights over the kids/house/car/retirement?
    Yeah, this would be one of those murder/suicides you hear about; where one or the other had simply gotten tired of being “screwed over” and took matters in their own hands.
    Not pretty, and far from “amicable”.

    • This is going be the kind of divorce where one party KNOWS it can’t support itself without the other. Ugly as it gets.

      • William O. B'Livion

        No, they don’t know that.

        What they know is “we” are either wrong or evil and we must be changed.

      • Professor Badness

        So, who’s going to be paying the alimony?
        The right would say “nobody” and the left would say “the right”.

    • Have you ever read about the battles and compromises that went into uniting the original thirteen colonies? For example, states which had repaid most of their war debt didn’t see why they should also pay off their more impecunious neighbors while states which felt they had borne the brunt of the battle weren’t happy about their buddies not chipping in to pay the butcher’s bill.

      Now take a look at the actual national debt for all branches of government. Who’s going to pay those pensions? Who’s going to have to accept how much write-down of the payments they’ve been promised.

      A Great Divorce would eradicate the only thing we have in hand for resolving those issues: time.

  13. Something the “divide the spoils of divorce” folks don’t seem to get is that THEY live in places (for the most part) that aren’t self sufficent… (at least the “THEY” that are SJW/CHORFS)
    To get food, energy, fuels, and even WATER, they need the places that are colored “Conservative” on their maps…
    At my place, with enough gasoline to run the generator a few hours a day, I’m pretty self contained… The well is reliable, there’s a two acre vegatible garden, enough pasture for a few steers, and lots of wild game from turkey to elk…
    Might be tight the first year… but after the third harvest I’d be supplying the local farmer’s market with my surplus

    • Whereas it’s commonly understood that any major city is anywhere from three days to no more than two weeks away from food riots upon failure of the distribution systems.
      Deep down the liberals know that they cannot survive without the rest of us and that fact does in some part explain the terrible resentment they always manage to demonstrate against us.

      • Cities as a whole are. Wise people in cities maintain provisions for unseen circumstances.

        How well they’d hold out against looters is an open question but there are people smart enough to plan.

      • Sara the Red

        One of my fondest dreams is to reform our badly broken food/agriculture distribution system…

        • How is is badly broken? Food production is one of those things that – for now – is extremely location sensitive, yet I can right now go to the supermarket and pick up all kinds of food that doesn’t grow anywhere near me (and in the case of stockyards, I never want it near me. 30 miles downwind of Greely, CO was close enough). Stretch my time horizon by a week or so and the internet can get me pretty much anything anyone eats. We do no have significant hunger, much less the widespread famine that in the historic norm of the Agricultural Age.

          • California produces 95% of the brocoli in this country at 5.4 gallons a head. Also 95% of almonds, each of which takes a 1.1 gallon of water, the crop consumes as much water anually as LA does in three. I could go on, California is a major food producer. (See Mother Jones, or any number of other sources)

            California’s ongoing drought is going to effect availability and cost of food for us all.

            • Cost, yes. Availability, not so much. One of the reasons California is a major food producer is the combination of fertile soil and reliable water. If those conditions aren’t met production will move elsewhere, certainly at a higher cost. We don’t need to eat food that is grown in the US.

              • Trees take time to become productive. Years.

                The US is one of the major crop producers in the world. The quality of soil and generally consistent climate have made this possible. (Along with a great deal of hard work and ingenuity.) For all the fuss, the stability of the government has helped as well — although the government does seem to want to find as many new and interesting ways to add challenges to a farmer’s life.

      • Funny how the party running the major cities is the party which fought to uphold slavery. Odd coincidence, that. It is almost as if they don’t have any idea how to establish a self-supporting free polity.

  14. “Into how many groupings do you break this country? How do you make people move? What happens when they don’t want to?”

    Neighborhood franchises like Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong from Snowcrash. You joins your franchise and you gets your passport.

  15. “Why we fight.” I can tell you the part of the Progressives’ push that makes me most angry — the rewriting of history to dishonor those who came before us and suffered to bring us freedom and enlightenment.

    In the Sad Puppies – Hugo case, it is the cadre of leftist progressives (GRRM tells us not to use SJW, though we all know what that means) that parrot memes about racism, sexism, etc. in SF before the arrival of Correct Thinking when they came of age. A failure to educate yourself in history and unwillingness to understand and empathize with those who in the last saw further ahead and made the world safe for the likes of you.

    Extend this more broadly to disrespect for those who had to struggle with difficult choices in the past, like Truman’s decision to use the nukes on Japan. Or the disdain for the military generally, and the discounting of science and rational thought in favor of “correct” science (that which supports their goals) and censorship of that which might not.

    “We have always been at war with Eastasia.” And until the control of schools and institutions is returned to the people who pay for them directly, we always will be.

    • A generation that doesn’t know history has no past. And no future. – RAH

      • Speaking of knowing history, a tangential question spurred by your analysis of OWS as an attempt to start a socialist revolution here like the one you lived through in Portugal and media sources such as Salon which talk about Baltimore being an uprising and burning and looting legitimate actions.

        Do you think there is an effort to create a socialist revolution again here? Is this, in their minds, that moment that only remember from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

        • Notice that the situation in Baltimore has spun out of hand so badly that even Obama has said the rioters should be treated as criminals.

          The near proximity of Baltimore to Camp David and the D of C is wholly irrelevant.

          • What I’m finding more interesting is “mainstream” leftist websites publishing stories justifying political violence.

            That is a real worry for me. As soon as we have a political death with someone roughly mainstream on the left (that includes MSNBC, Salon, etc) saying “yeah, violence is wrong but in this case I think the killing was justified” all bets are off. It’s pretty rare for the breaking of the seal on political violence being acceptable resulting in a one time thing.

            • They’ve been saying that for decades. It hasn’t helped. But it hasn’t destroyed society yet.

  16. To the point of stories becoming reality, had not RAH written Starship Troopers, there is no possible way I’d have enlisted in the USMC, a major, if not the most important, decision in the coute of my life.

    • It’s kind of a shock how many of us this is true for. Not so much since the movie, but before the movie came out? I lose track of how many people I knew in the services who had that little book somewhere in their office or wall locker. There’s a damn good reason it was on all the reading lists, back in the day.

      • Heh. I enlisted in 1978, long before that horrible doubleplusungood stinking pile of a movie. It came out in ’97.

      • I only wish Starship Troopers would be made into a movie… Doogie Howser, S.S. is a fun little monster hunting flick, but that’s it.

        Now the book… I don’t know how many paperbacks I’ve lent and never got back over the years. It was also the first ebook I ever bought.

    • Word dat. Seventy-five-cent paperback and a six-pack of Miller and the next thing I know some rude SOB in a funny hat is right up in my face screaming like a sumbitch…

      • Heh. I was entirely sober when I was undergoing the enlistment gauntlet, but was drunk as a typical man can get before and while on the plane to San Diego and the lovely recruit depot. Fortunately, there was a several hour “layover” in the bus at the airport before we got there, so I was able to merely wobble, not stagger, onto the yellow footprints.

    • You can add me to the list…nine years in RAH’s service, which is admittedly my family’s traditional service and they influenced that choice more than he did.

      And I gave away many copies of Starship Troopers and a handful of Expanded Universe.

      On a tangent I have a nephew turning five so figure it was time to start buying the juveniles only to find most are out of print, at least as mass market paper.

  17. *course*, not “coute,” of course. 🙂

  18. > “Amicable divorce” for a country the size of ours.

    That has already happened, though it wasn’t all that amicable at the time.

    The southern part of British America became not-British America, and the northern part is now known as Canada.

  19. c4c

  20. Joe Miller (@joethefatman1)

    I don’t want the divorce, I want sanity. Unfortunately.
    I hope and try to work for the best outcome by raising the girls right and do what little I can to change things and then I plan for the worst.

    Now where did I bury that ammo…

    • Professor Badness

      Puts me in mind of the couple where one of them has gone bats**t crazy, and the other is just trying to hold the family together.
      It’s never pretty, and always leads to a long, hard road; either therapy and medications or the dissolving of the marriage.
      *Sad.*

  21. A division of nationhold property would be … difficult, given that the map doesn’t separate easily. Sure, there are some regional areas that are very red or very blue but the real disparity in political cultures comes from the differences between the cultures of urban, suburban and rural.

    Look at the many ways cities express resentment of those who live in the suburbs, with their own local government, but work in the city. For several years now there have been warnings (search “stanley kurtz spreading the wealth” or try this article: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/354734/regionalism-obamas-quiet-anti-suburban-revolution-stanley-kurtz ).

    Look at the red/blue map of the US and this division is obvious. In New York, Washington, Oregon and California there are blue areas in the rural sections. Upstate NY has been economically depressed for decades in large part because NY City voters impose excessive regulatory and tax burdens, such as the ban on the fracking that has created an economic boon in neighboring Pennsylvania counties.

    Look at Nevada where Vegas drives the politics. Even the reddest states have their “Berkely of the East”, “Berkely of the South” and “Berkely of the Mid-West” where Proglodyte enclaves reign.

    There ain’t no dividing line for this community’s property. We’re going to have to stick this marriage out and fight for our rights — just as every marriage lasting longer than a hangover requires.

  22. The fight over the assets alone would turn hot in a New York minute. The division of people by belief? How do you even accomplish that?

    Um, the Indian sub-continent circa 1948 anyone?

  23. Powerline points to a part of the problem fomenting the separation of Americans today:

    Ahmed Amin is a Somali immigrant working with wayward Somalis in the program, one of whom is Abdullah Yusuf. Here McEnroe provides Amin’s perspective:

    Amin sees Yusuf and his generation as “the hybrids.” Some, he said, have embraced the life of an American teen. Others remain suspicious of what can still seem a strange culture.

    “I work in a school where there are kids who have not bought into America,” Amin said. “It’s almost as if you have to sell them the idea that there is a good life that America affords you. We have to implore them. I read where one of the defendants said he was through with America and wanted to burn his ID. Well, if you don’t have the role models, that’s what can happen.

    “These are the kids trying to figure it out,” Amin continued. “The ‘right’ question to start asking is not just about being a Somali-American and embracing this country and democracy. It’s ‘What does it mean to be a Somali-Muslim-American?’ ”
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/04/the-somali-muddle-once-more-once-2.php

    By allowing the Proglodytes’ unrebutted attacks on what it means to be America we are ensuring a contentious home life for the nation. We will eventually be forced to fight them, the only questions are when and with what weapons.

  24. On my shelves sit several books entitled “the causes of WWI” or words to that effect.

    Our esteemed hostess then mentions a number of the facts various historians are known to cite.

    There is no definitive answer, no clear chain of events.

    This is because all of that mentioned and more contributed.

    Was there a single thread if removed, one incident or player if changed, that would have made a war in the European theater around that time period preventable? The one where humans settled on the European land mass would be the most certain.

    • > WWI … no clear chain of events

      Sure there was. Wilhelm II, who felt he wasn’t getting enough respect from his peers, and decided to get some in the traditional way. (see also: Franco-Prussian War)

      Archduke Ferdinand didn’t have anything to do with it. Economic pressures didn’t have anything to do with it. Neither did the Bilderbergs, Roosevelts, or Rosicrucians. Willy II wanted a nice war, so he told his staff “make it so.”

      And while his successor with the odd moustache gets all the notice, it was Wilhelm II who changed the course of history forever – his armies weakened the Russian Empire and his support of Lenin put the Communists in control of the world’s largest nation, just to start with. And then the Great Influenza, World War II, Mutually Assured Destruction and the Cold War, which spun off general-purpose computers, microelectronics, and networked computing…

      Only Alexander the Great even comes close to Wilhelm II’s bootprint on history, and it took centuries before it made enough difference to notice. Wilhelm’s effect…

      Consider the life of Winston Spencer Churchill born in 1874. Who saw Newtonian physics replaced with quantum mechanics, who was a grown man when the first manned aircraft flew, and lived to see the first manned spaceflight and the first probes sent to Venus. Who saw the advancement from mechanical calculators to modern computing. Who went from candles and gaslight, to lighting his home with an electric grid fed by atomic reactors.

      And who made all that happen? Freidrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht von Prussia, that’s who. And why did Wilhelm do it? Because he was a sorry little git. Who, by the way, was never held to account for his actions, and died old and wealthy.

      • Not entirely accurate.

        Yes, Wilhelm played a huge role in what happened. Absent his malign influence, some things might not have played out in the precise way that they did.

        The other hand holds some contradictory points, however. Wilhelm was not quite an absolute monarch, though he liked to play one. Staring at the abyss, he did try to back away from it, only to have his General Staff refuse him. He’d wanted to divert the mobilization towards France to the East, where it was felt that there was a real threat due to the Russian mobilization that started before the Germans began theirs.

        In other words, Wilhelm was an idiot, but he wasn’t alone, and there were other factors in play. The Germans had a very unfortunate taste for militarism, and even the Socialists and Communists in Germany wanted war at the beginning. Wilhelm was, in the final analysis, really just the figurative tip of the iceberg. German culture, at that point in time, was horribly jingoistic and militarist. The Germans loved what their Willy was doing, tweaking the noses of the other great powers, thinking that Germany had been denied its righteous due.

        In other words, if you want to stop WWI, you need to remove more than one idiot. Nicholas II would be another one, along with nine-tenths of the people who were really running the whole of Europe. I think you’re forgetting just how enthusiastic all of the Europeans were, from top to bottom, for what they all assumed would be a short war of maneuver.

      • ” Because he was a sorry little git. Who, by the way, was never held to account for his actions, and died old and wealthy.”

        Opinions vary on that one:

        “This is the State above the Law.
        The State exists for the State alone.”
        [This is a gland at the back of the jaw,
        And an answering lump by the collar-bone.],
        Some die shouting in gas or fire;
        Some die silent, by shell and shot.
        Some die desperate, caught on the wire;
        Some die suddenly. This will not.

        “Regis suprema voluntas Lex”
        [It will follow the regular course of–throats.]
        Some die pinned by the broken decks,
        Some die sobbing between the boats.
        Some die eloquent, pressed to death
        By the sliding trench, as their friends can hear.
        Some die wholly in half a breath.
        Some–give trouble for half a year.

        “There is neither Evil nor Good in life
        Except as the needs of the State ordain.”
        [Since it is rather too late for the knife,
        All we can do is to mask the pain.]
        Some die saintly in faith and hope–
        One died thus in a prison-yard–
        Some die broken by rape or the rope;
        Some die easily. This dies hard.

        “I will dash to pieces who bar my way.
        Woe to the traitor! Woe to the weak!”
        [Let him write what he wishes to say.
        It tires him out if he tries to speak.]
        Some die quietly. Some abound
        In loud self-pity. Others spread
        Bad morale through the cots around…
        This is a type that is better dead.

        “The war was forced on me by my foes.
        All that I sought was the right to live.”
        [Don’t be afraid of a triple dose;
        The pain will neutralize all we give.
        Here are the needles. See that he dies
        While the effects of the drug endure….
        What is the question he asks with his eyes?
        Oh Yes, All-Highest, to God, be sure.]

      • After a large amount of research, I say it comes down to this:

        Germany’s government decided to strike for “Worldpower” by around 1905. Further, it decided that war with Russia was inevitable, because Teutons or Slavs must rule. But Britain’s decision to build dreadnoughts convinced Germany it had to have them too. Which also meant that the Kiel Canal had to be expanded to handle the new ships before the war started. Also, Wilhelm had to be manipulated, because he had attacks of good sense when war drew near. Plans for war were thus deferred.

        Meanwhile, Germany’s inept diplomacy angered and frightened Britain, France, and Russia without weakening them. Further, the German domestic situation was fragile, because the Socialists hated the idea of war. It allies, Italy and Austria-Hungary, were both treacherous and weak (and Italy hated Austria-Hungary anyway). But Austria-Hungary was having problems with both Serbia and Russia, and by the end of 1912 was eager to attack. And Germany’s Socialists both feared and hated Imperial Russia.

        So the solution decided on by middle 1912 was to get a war going between Austria-Hungary and Russia, but not until after the Kiel Canal widening was finished. Germany would then step in to protect its ally. The Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, managed to convince himself that Britain could be persuaded to stay neutral.

        In early 1914 Chief of Staff von Moltke the very-much-lesser told Gottlieb von Jagow, the German Foreign Minister to start a war soon, because in two or three years Germany wouldn’t be able to beat the French-Russian alliance quickly. The Foreign Minister replied that the Kaiser would never agree. Then came the assassination of the Archduke, a good friend of Wilhelm. Wilhelm saw red, and the Chancellor and Foreign Minister convinced him that Germany had to allow Austria-Hungary to launch the Third Balkan War, ‘but don’t worry, boss, we’ll get Russia to back down.’ The Chancellor then bundled Wilhelm off on his annual Norwegian yachting holiday. Austria-Hungary presented its ultimatum to Serbia, and the German Foreign Ministry sabotaged Wilhelm’s quite sincere late-July peace efforts. Russia was manipulated into declaring mobilization, and that was enough to get Wilhelm to sign off on the war. But Britain declined Germany’s offer to stay neutral until Germany was ready to turn it into a puppet state. Thus the World War began.

  25. OMG. I only have a few seconds here, and haven’t read through the discussion, but I want to remind everyone of an obscure event back in ’48 that shouldn’t be so obscure: The India-Pakistan partition. Remember? One million dead. At least. That’s the conservative figure. And that was with a clear, ‘easy,’ well-defined religious division. Yikes.

    • Everybody else in the world: Sir, can’t we do this a little more slowly, we fear many people will die.
      Gandhi: No. Now.

      • And yet the Left touts him as the greatest peacemaker of all time.

      •         Moynihan Rule violation!  Not allowed to make up your own facts!

                India was split up by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, a Muslim who wasn’t going to live in a country where he was an untouchable.  Gandhi was opposed to partition.

        • Slight modification: Jinnah, who was a less pious Muslim than Amy Winehouse was a pious Jew (he loved, for example, good Scotch and Lady Mountbatten – in the physical sense), wasn’t going to live in a country where he wasn’t Maximum Leader. So he went into the Defender of Holy Islam act and broke off his own kingdom. The world has been bleeding at the crack ever since.

  26. Just got to Alternate View in the June ANALOG. Kooistra says this is his last, and as he will not be associated with ANALOG, henceforth and hereinafter he will righteously smite SJWs ambushing his friends.

  27. Some of the following is fictional:
    I purchased my copy of C. S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” in a bookstore in Jerusalem in May of 1975. My at-the-time spouse instantly assumed I was planning on divorcing her. I wasn’t, at the time, but since she was so insistent on it, I finally did.
    (Fiction part: it was March, not May)

  28. One thing is our tribes are our states. I’m sure its not the same as European tribalism, my trip to Estonia amazed me for how much neigh ors could hate each other, but we really do recognize states as different people. Texans, New Yorkers, Californians are just the best known, every state looks at its neighbors like they’re nuts. In our history these differences were tolerated and the nation formed of consensus. Now the states are still what they are, but they are smothered by a federal org that tries to smother differences and homogenize very different people. The great divorce could be as simple as a return to federalism or as terrible as a tear in the Union. Either way, our tribes are as they have always been, our neighbors and our states.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      I’m afraid that I disagree.

      Maybe for Texans, their state is their tribe but for people in other states their state isn’t that important.

      I’ve lived in several states besides Illinois (where I grew up and am now living) and I never “felt” a difference between living in Illinois and (for example) living in Indiana.

      In addition, “downstate Illinoisans” don’t have much in common with Chicagoans or even those living in the Chicago suburbs.

      As Sarah mentioned above, so-called Red States have Blue Areas and so-called Blue States have Red Areas.

      IIRC Illinois is considered a “Blue State” but much of that is because of Blue Chicago.

      Why should I “follow” Illinois (because of Chicago) into the “Blue” US?

      What parts of Illinois would belong to the “Red” US and what parts of Illinois would belong to the “Blue” US?

    • For the representatives at the Second Continental Congress their countries were their states.

      Today I live in the Piedmont of North Carolina in a city where it is very unusual to meet a couple where they both come from the state, no less the county. People are much more mobile, and our alliances to states more tied to the institutions of higher learning we attended or the sports teams we follow.

      Anyway, I hold that North Carolina is schizoid — we had both Jesse Helms and John Edwards serving as our Senators simultaneously, both elected by generous pluralities.

    • I have no loyalty to Georgia. The closest might be to Texas (where I’ve lived three times) or Wyoming (where I grew up).

      If push came to shove in terms of modern US institutions my tribe would have to be the Navy and more broadly the armed forces. I doubt I’m alone and that’s a source of worry.

  29. Sarah, you think that you are fighting a wrongheaded adversary when in reality you are fighting a disease that has severely handicapped more than half the nation. Persuasion will not work because these poor souls have lost their capacity for self reliance and self respect. The intensity of the mental habits that bind them to entitlement need has rendered them into societal parasites, and there is no cure. They will continue to suck the blood out of the productive until the host is dead.

  30. “I know they’re thinking the USSR broke up into multiple nations without major blood shed”

    Eh, not major bloodshed for USSR. What was practically bloodless by their standards would be considered a bloodbath on the streets of America.

  31.         Thank you for the essay, Sarah.  I will attempt to put it to bad use.  For I am one of those who support secession.

            The most important thing here, imo, is that we think about this issue in radically different ways.  I am convinced that the U.S. is a ‘progressive’ country, that the voters know what they’re doing (in the immediate run), and that the reason the U.S. has the kind of government it possesses is because that’s the kind of society the majority wish to live in.  All talk of ‘restoring federalism’, ‘limited government’, ‘freedom’, etc. is simply pointless.  The voters want bigger government.  They will get it.  The only question is how long it will take.

            I see no reason to believe the present trend will change short of a cataclysm that kills tens of millions.  And should such evil occur, I have no confidence that the country on the other side of it would feature anything like limited government.

            As a matter of fact and real existence, the only way I see myself living in the kind of country I want to live in is by carving a new country out of this present one.  I don’t know if peaceful, legal secession will be possible.  But I do believe that working for such a ‘divorce’ is the only pathway that might lead where I wish to go.

  32. ” I don’t know if peaceful, legal secession will be possible. ”

    Short answer, No.

    Secession might be possible, and should be legal according to the constitution, but not according to precedent. So peaceful secession? Nope it ain’t going to happen peacefully.

    •         Moynihan rule violation, not allowed to make up your own facts.

              There was never a ‘clean’ separation contemplated in India.  The Muslims and Hindus disagreed about where the boundary should be drawn years before the separation took place, and everyone knew that there would be large numbers of Muslims left in India.

              And religious differences were stirred up long before Britain agreed to Indepenence.  India had never been a single country, and religious and regional warfare were part of the sub-Continent’s history.

              There was no reason to believe the Partition would be peaceful or easy.

    •         ‘What is freely asserted may be freely denied.’  Or in modern terms: there’s no reason to take assertions without evidence seriously.

      • Oddly, when the partition of 1948 was first broached, the splitting of India/Pakistan was not what first came to my mind … but the one that did has proven even less peaceful.

        •         And of course, before the partition, Jews and Muslims lived in peace, right?

          • Yes.

            Although in this case the “before” must refer to an era 50 to 100 years before.

            •         Yeah, they lived in peace with each other during the period the Raj had them under control.  Before the British, the were enemies who killed each other freely.  Imperialists leave, they went back to doing what they’d been doing.

                      None of which has anything to do with the situation in the U.S.

              •         OOPS, somehow I still thought you were talking about India, not Palestine.

                        Yeah, when the Jews were a small minority, and the Muslims were firmly in control and levying the infidel tax on them, then yes, they lived at peace.  The moment the Jews tried to assert equality, the trouble started, and the Muslims began attacking the Jews.

                        This has no relevance to the present-day U.S. that I can see.  And all evidence I’m aware of is that the present situation is building up to Civil War II, with “progressives” forcing their preference onto conservatives, and conservatives increasingly inclined to resist violently.  Divorce is the only thing I see stopping that.

                        But while divorce doesn’t mean the divorced must hate each other, and try to harm each other, it does mean the end of the Union.  That’s what a divorce is.  And there, I think, is the real objection.  A separation into a liberal and a conservative country would mean that the conservatives wouldn’t be Americans any more.  The emotional pain of that prospect leads the conservative side to tell themselves they can somehow turn a fundamentally “progressive” country into a conservative one.

                        They are wrong.  The choice is between an America where the “progressives” dominate everything, and a conservative country that won’t be the United States of America.

                • Ah, reading in email I missed your correction. Still nonsense and a misrepresentation of historical fact. The Palestinians (as the Jewish settler were then known) did not pay the jizyah, and the trouble did not start with Jewish assertion of equality.

                  Moynihan error. Not even the anti-Zionist “Jews for Justice in the Middle East” support your assertion.

                  As for relevance to present day America, none was claimed.

                  As for your argument that “separation into a liberal and a conservative country would mean that the conservatives wouldn’t be Americans any more” — in what cow pasture did you discover that? Assertions without support do not comprise arguments which require respect or rebuff.

                • Nonsense, it would mean that the leftists wouldn’t be Americans any more. Only sane route. After all, they don’t want to Americans but citizens of the world.

              • saintonge,
                You need to brush up on your reading comprehension skillz. My reference was clearly not to the partioning of India/Pakistan but to that other 1948 partitioning I had referenced.

  33. Don’t forget that there are people who consider the bloodshed a *feature* of the whole idea.

    •         And the people who prefer a violent breakup to a peaceful one are?  And your reasons for believing they’d get their way are?

      • If I cite Louis Farrakhan will you demand I support the argument? His trail is too lengthy and too tedious to trawl through for the arguments.

        •         I’ll take your word for it that Farrakhan wants the United States to break up because he thinks the breakup would be violent.

                  Now, why should I take his expectation seriously?

          • snelson134

            Maybe because he is determined to have a violent break up, he is eager to kill you and everyone like you in the process, and the only way you will stop him is to kill him first.

            Just as Hitler was determined to kill the Jews, was eager to be about it, and was only going to be stopped by being killed. One thing we should have learned from that is to take evil at it’s word, and act first.

            •         You’re assuming that desire equals capacity.  That is the assumption I’m questioning.  I know of no reason to believe Calypso Louis could pull it off.

                      Trotsky wanted to do all sorts of things that he never accomplished, after all.

      • Would public statements from Vladimir Putin and Ayatollah Khamenei suffice to establish their preferences for blood and suffering?

        •         Same answer: why should I believe their projections about a division of the U.S. necessarily being violent?

                  Oh, btw, what makes you think worse violence can be avoided by staying together?

          • Foul: Goalpost Shifting! Also, penalty for Straw Man Thrashing!

            I did not express any belief about whether “worse violence can be avoided by staying together” and your original demand merely required recognition that some people do indeed “prefer a violent breakup to a peaceful one“.

      • As RES has implied, a plethora of quotes can be found.

        As to believing they would “get their way”, what does that have to do with the statement you were replying to?

        •         If someone wants something they can’t achieve, then there’s not a lot of reason to concern yourself with them.

          • Foul: Goalpost Shifting!

            Your original request for identification of “the people who prefer a violent breakup to a peaceful one” did not entail assessment of their likelihood for success, nor whether their goals are achievable. Some people simply start fires because they like to see things burn.

        • Irrelevant to the question. Their capability to do something has no bearing on the question of whether they wish it or not.

          I you wish to declare your belief that their wishes are nothing to worry about because they have no ability to make them happen, then make that statement separately, don’t use it as an answer to a question regarding the existence of people holding that opinion.

  34. This is a blog about how it’s important for us to check ourselves. I consume as much fiction as anyone else. Maybe more. So I have to check myself. Particularly when an idea sounds seductive.

    • In X-Files, there was a poster with a picture of a movie type UFO and the words: “I WANT TO BELIEVE.”

      As I grow older, I’m slowly recognizing that the implied “but……” for that image is not actually present in everyone, and seldom in levels that I thought was normal from my closest of family and friends.

      •         Yes, the desire to believe tends to make fools of people.  Including us.  What we want to believe is that it’s possible to turn the United States around, continue to be one country, and not have that one country be “progressive.”  But over a century of experience says that the country becomes ever more “progressive”, that “Cthulhu swims slowly, but he only swims to the left.”

                I believe the future of the U.S. can best be summarized as ‘the Obama wing of the Democratic Party ends up with everything they want, it just takes them longer than they thought it would.’  If so, the only choices I believe possible are: 1) Live in that country; 2) Establish a separate country; 3) Civil War II.  Concerning that last, the situation would be like Kratman’s Caliphate: something called the United States would exist, but it would not be the country we want to live in.

                If forced to choose, which of the alternatives do you take?  I’ve picked 2, and work to make it real.  Those who claim the choice can be avoided are, imao, just wrong, and de facto choosing 1.

        • snelson134

          And I choose 3, because 1 is slavery to the Left, and 2 will never happen because the Left will never accept anything less than #1 without violence.

          Term of art taught me by a former SAC MSgt: “Least awful option.” It’s used in nuclear war planning, where there are NO good options, only the least awful one.

        • Yes, the desire to believe tends to make fools of people. Including us.

          You totally missed the point. To the degree of flanderizing the human experience.

        • But over a century of experience says that the country becomes ever more “progressive”, that “Cthulhu swims slowly, but he only swims to the left.

          ROFLOL. You believe the Ministry of Truth swill?

          Here’s three progressive programs that are one with the snows of yesteryear:
          1. Involuntary eugenic sterilization
          2. Prohibition
          3. Segregation

          The Left’s strategy is to rewrite history to disown them. We know better.

          •         All three of those things became unpopular on the Left before they were repealed.  Roosevelt, e.g., ran on a platform of repealing Prohibition, with Hoover supporting its retention.  Ending segregation and racial discrimination became Left wing causes in the early 20th Century at the latest, as you’ll learn if you check out the history of Communism.  The Left seems to have rejected eugenics during the 1920s and thirties as well.

                    Meanwhile, under Republicans and Democrats, the scope of government in the U.S. grew.  It is still growing.  I see no prospect that this course will reverse, as the majority of the voters and the general population support said growth.

        • Ah, well, if it is merely a matter of what you believe I have no interest in engaging you in a religious argument and you’ve demonstrated no discernible persuasive capacity, so that’s it, isn’t it?

  35. Going to add something about the great divorce. Near as I can figure, all my ancestors here on the North American continent prior to the Revolution were either kicked out of where they were, of left for religious reasons. For the most part, more or less peaceful, though the involuntary transportees might disagree. Until 1776 or so. Kick a whole bunch of people out, or have them leave because you make life uncomfortable for them, and then tell them, BTW, we’re going to continue ruling over you and make your life less pleasant, well, the Revolution is the result. All my Irish ancestors who came here did so around the time of the potato famine. Fleeing hardship for a dream of a better life. I have but two ancestors who came over entirely voluntarily, from England in the late 1800’s, to help start up an American subsidiary for their company. From family stories, they intended to return, but decided they liked it here, and didn’t.

    Pretty much all Americans are descended from rabblerousers and malcontents. That we’ve surived as a nation as long as we have is really quite remarkable, considering the raw material we started with.