It is trite to talk about the law of unintended consequences because at this point — I think — everyone knows everything they do has unintended consequences, that is consequences other than the ones they were looking for.  Well, almost everyone.  I still hear people say things like “We should outlaw x” and never thinking of what that will mean for x, y and z.  More interestingly, I heard people saying “we should compel x” and never think of the consequences of evading that particular law.

But the really funny thing about unintended consequences (and by this I don’t mean funny ah ah) is what I call the third ending problem.

What third ending problem?

Well, when we were starting out in writing, we were told to reach for the third ending.  When you’re reading a novel or a short story, you expect one of two endings (the good and the bad.)  Depending on your level of sophistication, or the book’s accuracy of foreshadowing, you might anticipate the ending in precise and exquisite detail.  You just have to see which of the endings.  (For instance in the book I’m reading now all the characters seem to be mentally impaired, and I’ve guessed the ending and the little surprises all along all the way.  Yeah, it’s a disposable romance [not all romance is like this] because that’s what came to hand when I reached for a book.  Yeah, I have better things to read, but this sort of works because it’s almost at the Disney comics level.)

So we were encouraged to reach for the third ending.  Not precisely a surprise ending, but one that will close the book with a bang.

I’m not sure this is right, btw.  It is appropriate for a certain time in the history of the field, and for a certain level.  And yep, in mystery it’s a good idea to at least partially surprise the reader.  This is not necessary in science fiction.  Or not necessarily necessary.  There are science fiction books that are mysteries.  At the end you find out who was behind it all, say.  But still in the main, we want to know sort of how it will end, and are reading for the details.

Take Witchfinder (please.  I could use the cash) the ending I’m sure surprises no one except for one minor, personal detail.

But anyway, that’s a digression and I know you’re shocked.  The thing is that in real life, even those of us who know that actions have consequences and that the broader the action, the more general the up to down push, the more likely that the consequence will be the third ending, as it were.

For instance, take solar panels.  The intended consequence is to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.  The unintended consequence is to roast birds on the go.  The third ending consequence is that it convinces people who know nothing about energy or its storage that it would be a good idea to artificially burden fossil fuels with taxes and to make mining for them impossible, in order to make people go “solar.”  Because it exists, they imagine it could supply all our energy needs.  (I’m sorry, I’d say “he” but I’m not sure it’s all or even mostly his idea.)  There are other third ending consequences (there always are) like the flushing of public money down the unending rat hole of charlatans promising better and more abundant solar energy.

Or take the boondoogle the consolidated after many mergers publishing houses thought of: we can deal with the big conglomerate bookstores and tell them what to carry.  They’ll have sensible business men who don’t read the books and argue with us, and this will make the public buy the “correct” books — or at least those we want to push.

The intended consequence was the ability to manufacture bestsellers on command; to pick who would be a best seller (mind you, it wasn’t even political at first, or at least it’s unlikely it was just political.  Creatives are hard to work with.  They often have trouble working with themselves.  Being able to pick the “sensible” creatives for success would be enough of an enticement.  The fact those aren’t usually VERY creative is something that would never occur to the publishers.)   The unintended consequence was the spiraling down of print runs.  For decades publishers had been allowed to think they were in tune with the readers’ tastes, and later that they could form them without consequence.

But for decades, stuff had become hits that the publishers didn’t anticipate.  Under the old, chaotic system, enough small bookshop owners reading your book and hand-selling it to enough clients could make you a bestseller that no one had seen coming.

The new system closed that loophole and controlled completely which books even got seen, and certainly which got “buzz” and which got bought.

As I said, the unintended consequence was a lot of power readers (me!) retreating to other genres or to their libraries to read their old stuff.

The third ending consequences are … well, the least hard to see is Bezos.

But there are others.  The most important was the hardening of thought and belief in the small and incestuous publishing industry, by self-feeding loops.

If they can make whatever they want sell a bazillion copies, then they have an unerring ability to pick what’s good and what people will read, right?  This means that they are that in tune with the public taste that clearly what they favor and think is wonderful must be what everyone wants.  Even though they are the result of maybe a handful of colleges and the culture of one or two big cities, they can pick for everyone in the country.

End result, more bleeding of readership which is never attributed to their taste — because after all, look how well they “predict” what will sell (after they close off every other avenue, of course, but never mind)  and what won’t — so it must be people aren’t reading anymore.  People are watching TV and playing games.  That must be it.

And then the third solution walks in wearing the name Bezos.  And they’re so shocked all they can do is boo.

But there are other third solution consequences they never even thought of.  The very system encouraged conformity and anodyne writing.  They didn’t notice it because the conformity was to their beliefs, and the anodyne writing involved “shocking” non existent old ladies in Podunk whom they thought should be shocked.  For the last several years the problem with most “pushed” fiction is not that it’s shocking, or distasteful, or human-hating (though it usually is human-hating) but that it’s predictable and boring.

And then there’s the third solution consequence of that consequence, so far off they couldn’t anticipate it.

I’ll do them the courtesy of thinking that they knew they would be wasting a lot of talent.  I.e. that they realized that they would be cutting short the careers of people they plain didn’t like (for political or other reasons) and therefore destroying talent before it developed.

What I don’t think they realized is that those of us who managed to escape the scythe for years despite refusing to sing in the choir of their thoughts and beliefs would be versatile, able, and very, very resilient. Or that, if we found a way to bypass their rigged system and get to the public, the public would like us better.

Sometimes third ending solutions are a right b*tch.

So, when you’re tempted to despair or to think we’re ruled by evil geniuses, think of the third ending solution.  They’re not geniuses (though they might be evil) and they usually don’t think beyond the obvious solution.

Take importing millions of unskilled laborers into a high tech economy.  They do think that they can tax those of us already here and give them benefits and it’s a way to compensate for being richer than other countries.  They might take as an unintended consequence that it will displace our own unskilled workers, and therefore create an aggrieved proletariat which they can incite against “the rich”.  It’s an unintended consequence but not one they dislike.

What they don’t think of are the third ending consequences: that it will also fatally damage the economy, that rich people will leave the country and shelter their income (for some reason this always takes communists/socialists by surprise.  Every d*mn time.); that the reduced economy/benefits will cause those immigrants to go back to their homeland; that the stagnant economy will cause our best and brightest to go elsewhere looking for jobs; that the only businesses who can survive are massive corporations; that the discrimination they see everywhere will actually make a come back.

In the same way when they create ever higher minimum-wage, they can see that those who remain employed will have more money; they might see that it will cause a lot of people to be let go, but they think “generous welfare benefits.”  What they don’t see is that it will bias towards big companies who can pay that sort of beginning wage and deal with the paperwork for ever increasing regulations will be the only ones surviving.  And if they saw it they might think “well, they will deal better with the government, so that’s fine.”

What they don’t see is that choking off small business, not only chokes off innovation but results in a slow throttling of the economy.  They don’t see this because they believe in fixed pie economics.  They can’t be grown, and they can’t be shrunk.

They can look at Europe and see their future, but  the third ending consequence is always a shock.

And that is why top down control, in publishing or in business or in government is always ruinous.

The third ending consequences multiply and by being surprises they are inherently unanticipated.

Reading older science fiction, I come across government by “smart men” sometimes aided by “large computers” who anticipate everything.

Real life is more difficult.  There are too many intersecting plot threads, too many intersecting individuals and goals.

No one can know when their great scheme of controlling distribution will result in a Bezos and their ruin… metaphorically speaking.  And nobody can know how their wish to work with “sensible” creatives can destroy the very field they work in… metaphorically speaking.

The horror of this is that people who never think of the third plot solution will continue to pile their top down “remedies” on us and that we’ll also have to suffer the consequences.

The good news is that in an era when technology and creativity are key, there is a good chance we can survive and thrive.

Build under, build around, build over.  Create your own systems around theirs.

Be the unintended third ending consequence.

Be not afraid.


270 thoughts on “Unintended

  1. So many unintended consequences, so little time.

    Everything creates them. You just have to decide if it’s worth the risk. Unfortunately, some of them aren’t foreseen, which makes things…interesting.

    1. ‘at’s brilliant, ‘at is.

      The precursors were already clear: look at the boycott attempt against Chik-Fil-A or the funds contributed to Memories Pizza. LOTS of folks don’t much cotton to bullying and whenever it is perceived they (we) will step in to help the target. And a target that doesn’t abase itself to the thugs? GOLDEN.

      How else did a first-term Republican governor of a deep blue state develop the fundraising network to run for president after being narrowly re-elected?

      ‘Tis appropriate that it would be Breitbart’s progeny to bring this forward.

      1. And if GoFundMe allows itself to be bullied into disallowing fund-raising to support florists and bakeries vs the bullies? Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse is ready to step in and fill the gap.

        1. William Katz at his Urgent Agenda blog:

          DEFIANCE – It is an honorable American tradition, civil disobedience. From Fox: “‘We will not obey.’ That’s the blunt warning a group of prominent religious leaders is sending to the Supreme Court of the United States as it considers same-sex marriage. ‘We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line,’ read a document titled, Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage. ‘We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve.’ ‘While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross,’ the pledge states. The signees are a who’s who of religious leaders including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, National Religious Broadcasters president Jerry Johnson, Pastor John Hagee, and Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.” Whether one agrees or disagrees with the position of these religious leaders, their willingness peacefully to defy, and presumably to accept the legal consequences, is inspiring, and very much in the American tradition of peaceful protest.

          Samaritan’s Purse won’t do much fund-raising when its under court supervision for though crime.

          1. They can have a civil war if they want one. Things like that would be a trigger.

    2. Unfortunately, Ace of Spades had a post up today indicating that the British government had forced the company to take the ads down.

      1. AoS may not be accurate here: from what I’ve read, the ads are merely coming to the end of their paid-for run. There’s a petition for an investigation, and that may yet cause trouble, but no official action has been taken.

        1. I just double-checked Ace’s source, a Daily Beast article. According to the article, the British authorities in charge of the transit stations announced that the ads would be coming down within the next three days, and new ads would not be allowed to go up. Protein World responded to questions with a statement that the ad campaign had been scheduled to end next week in any event. So it looks like both Ace and your sources are correct.

  2. Not precisely a surprise ending, but one that will close the book with a bang.

    Haven’t already had the discussion about graphic sex in novels? Especially once the primary plot has been resolved, isn’t a simple description of their train entering a Swiss mountain tunnel sufficient?

  3. I’ve never thought our nation was being run by evil geniuses. Evil morons, OTOH…

    1. Thing is it’s a matter of faith that they believe themselves to be geniuses. They always grab credit for any success whether they had anything to do with it or not, and blame for mistakes is always put off on an evil “other” rather than being owned up to.

    2. They think that they geniuses. After all they all went to the right schools and have been told by all the people who’s butts they have been kissing their entire live how smart they were.

      1. Obama this in spades, as he’s been basically shoved up the ladder to first one and than another position for which he was unqualified. And the joke is that he never seems to have grasped it, he really imagines himself to be brilliant!

  4. … rich people will leave the country and shelter their income (for some reason this always takes communists/socialists by surprise …)

    Given how many of them benefit from such sheltered income — the Kennedy Family Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Clinton Slush Fund Foundation — they must believe only they have the wit and foresight to appreciate how to set up a foundation as a tax shelter. Heck, pretty much any CPA in the country can tell you how it works, it’s as simple as the recipe for rabbit stew.

    1. Stupid HTML end tags.

      Given how many of them benefit from such sheltered income — the Kennedy Family Trust, the Ford Foundation, the Clinton Slush Fund Foundation — they must believe only they have the wit and foresight to appreciate how to set up a foundation as a tax shelter. Heck, pretty much any CPA in the country can tell you how it works, it’s as simple as the recipe for rabbit stew.

      1. I just copied the same text to point to certain leftoid pols who have accounts in the Caymans and a daughter “working” in hedge fund managing, and many of them know this is going to be the effect but it gives them power, so it’s all good. Better to be in power over America in a depression, then be out of power in a booming economy.

            1. They get there and learn that Satan doesn’t want competition. [Very Big Evil Grin]

              1. Old late 90s joke that ends “My name is Hilary Rodham Clinton and you’re sitting in my chair.”

          1. Corporations such as GE are the basic “widows & orphans” stocks, paying consistent steady dividends to the trusts, annuities and other funds holding the stock. These thus can provide regular cash flow to widows, orphans and (often union) pension funds invested in them.

            Anybody demanding higher rates of taxation on such corporations clearly wants widows & orphans to starve. We need to demand that these tax raisers explain their hatred of widows & orphans (and good union men who have worked hard all their lives and now want to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

            1. This was essentially the rationale given as to why the US government didn’t sue British Petroleum into oblivion following the oil spill in the Gulf.

              1. Likely, but it ignores the probability that a BP forced to fight for its existence would have had reasons to attack various corrupt policies, regulations and those tasked with their enforcement.

                1. BP was pretty blatantly in the wrong with regards to the incident. However, it’s also apparently true that the British pension system *loves* BP. So a much higher than usual percentage of British pensions are invested in BP’s stock. Destroying the company would have wiped out those shares.

                2. And wasn’t BP the *one* oil company who gave more money to Obama’s election campaign than McCain’s?

          2. well, they used funny math to arrive at the ‘GE doesn’t pay any taxes’ figure, same as the ‘ red states are a net tax drain’ math

            1. Red states are the welfare recipients. They don’t want to say that the money just gets spent in red states, they want to say it’s welfare. Including the money spent on military bases.

              1. My personal favorite is counting the Social Security and Medicare paid to all the damyankees fleeing the blue heavens for places they can afford to live.

              2. The red states ae a net tax drain, acccording to their match, because many of the large military bases are in red states, and most of the servicemembers even in blue states are legal residents of red states… and a huge chunk of our military production is in red states.

              3. Don’t forget spending on national parks.

                It’s amazing, when your starting point is that over a quarter of your land is not only not allowed to be profited from by that state (much less the county), but will actually take significant spending, and then there’s the roads and such…..

        1.         Modern life can be very amusing.  Almost everyone says they believe in evolution, but hardly anyone asks ‘What kind of motiviations would you expect to be found in those evolved from primates with dominance hierarchies?’

                  What I expect is a population in which a large percentage can no more give up the quest for power than they can give up breathing.

  5. “rich people will leave the country and shelter their income (for some reason this always takes communists/socialists by surprise. Every d*mn time.)”

    If only.

    1. Some countries (and US states) are now attempting to implement laws that place punitive taxes on rich people who move elsewhere.

      1. That never works. The rich people convert their wealth into portable assets, or international accounts, then change citizenship. The fact that the asset flight laws are in place gives them incentive to leave, before more draconian asset flight laws are imposed. They lose some of their wealth in the process, but it’s better than losing it all when their former homes swirl down the drain.

          1. Holy smokes! A Nevil Shute reference! :-O
            (I don’t know why I’m surprised-but once in a while…) 😀

          1. why should they? after all, it was all the fault of the kulaks and wreckers.

      2. I have heard of moves afoot in the CA legislature to try and reach out and tax IRA and 401K distributions for non-California residents who originally earned the money that was deposited in those tax deferred accounts in California, but then moved away for retirement. IIRC the proponents talk about other states “stealing CA tax revenue.”

        I’d expect the IRS to try the same thing if the expat/renounce-US-citizenship-to-avoid-US-taxes movement gains any more steam.

        1. I bet they don’t do that with state employee pensions, though… you can target the serfs, ut you want to keep your own retainers happy.

        2. That would only give the expats good reason to never return, with the IRS impotently standing on the shore shaking their fists at them. Worse, to never invest any of their money in America ever again.

          1. In the Proglodytes’ mind America is a beautiful young woman with a bevy of suitors queuing up to take her to a fancy restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, under their management America has let her grooming slide, needs to let out her gowns and enliven her banter.

            The only reason anyone invests a dollar in America is because the other places, having been under Proglodyte management far longer, are even less attractive investments. This is not a situation which will last forever and when the fail happens it won’t be a friendly nephew (as Britain enjoyed) who takes over global leadership.

            1. Alternate tasteless metaphor:
              In the Proglodytes’ mind America is a dashing handsome young man making all the lassies swoon. Unfortunately, under their management America has become an aging pot-bellied roue with a bad comb-over. He’s still a decent dancer so he gets partners on the floor but none of them are eager to go home with him even if they’ll let him buy them drinks.

        3. I’ve heard rumors that CA claims that military owe taxes on the portion of their pension earned while stationed in CA. Of course, first they have to identify us…

          Never paid too much attention to it. When I sold my house in CA, the new buyers turned me into the CA Revenooers for evading capital gains. Got a letter demanding $200,000 for selling a house for $198,000. That’s not a misprint. Informers get a portion of any money recovered. So, I filed CA tax forms after demanding they send them to me. CAn’t file if I don’t have the forms. Turns out- I didn’t owe them anything. And whoever got the forms back got a really nasty letter with it. SHould have billed them for my time while I was at it.

  6. I can borrow used books from the bookstore for a day and read them and return them, so I’ve tried a few bestsellers, and the craze now seems to be nasty, unbelievably stupid surprise endings. You don’t guess them because the politically correct heroine turns out to be a monster, I mean the director of a horror movie would reject this character as a slasher killer for being too unsympathetic (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn) or it has an ending involving hallucination and delusion that would not convince anyone who ever met a human being (Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane) and I saw the movie based on Lehane’s Mystic River,and the ending was a clumsy last second wrap up, which the critics said was faithful to the novel. And the publishers know these endings annoy people, but they defend them.

  7. Hubris calls for Nemesis, as ever was, is, and will be.

    “I’m not a philosopher, Harry,” [Michael] said. “But here’s something for you to think about, at least. What goes around comes around. And sometimes you get what’s coming around.” He paused for a moment, frowning faintly, pursing his lips. “And sometimes you are what’s coming around.”

    ― Jim Butcher, Grave Peril

    1. Hot damn do I love Jim Butcher (currently rereading much of Dresden Files looking for foreshadowing of the Big Event in Skin Game)!

      1.         I also am rereading the Dresden Files.  The Wife got behind, and didn’t remember them well, so she decided to reread from the beginning rather than start with the next novel that hasn’t been read.  So I’m rereading along with her, so that we can discuss the books.

  8. First decide what industry you work for. Are you someone wanting to offer new and exciting novels your fans will love to read? Are you a socially concious business that wants to offer culturally acceptable and transformative novels, that will educate your stupid fans in spite of their inbred, mouth-breathing bigoted beliefs?
    Understand that how you answer the question may place you in either a supporting or adversarial role with the people that pay your salary. Editors survive on ‘value-added’ to the author’s product; if they choose authors to make their jobs easy, don’t be amazed that there is little perceived value added to make it a value to the customer.
    Quite simply, the publishers forgot who they serve. Don’t come crying to me about it. Don’t act amazed that alternate services will rise to serve the customers you now choose to annoy.

    1. Publishers had the mistaken notion that they had brand loyalty, when what they had was product (genre) loyalty. Change the product (genre) to something that was not to the taste of your consumers, and you are shooting yourself in the foot.

      I used to be a confirmed Coke drinker, for instance – that Pepsi stuff was just no good. I don’t think I’ve had a Coke (except in their captive restaurants) for at least 20 years now.

      I preferentially buy Baen Books these days (when I buy from a publishing company, that is). But if they ever switch their product line to “socially conscious” twaddle? Bye, bye, Baen…

      1. Publishers… brand loyality… What were they smoking?
        As in, “Oh, it is another outstanding publication of Simon and Schuster! I must have it!”? I will pay attention to an Author’s name, they have brand loyalty I suppose, but I just consider them good writers. I never noticed a publisher…
        Until the mainstream ones started publishing drek, and I discovered that Baen carried good writers. Even then, I didn’t think, “I’m a Baen reader”, I would gladly purchase any writer I liked, irrespective of the publisher. At best, Baen had the reputation for discovering good new talent.

        1. Years ago it was becoming a pain to wait for another book from an author I like, I noticed that a LOT of the books I owned were Baen so I looked for their label and tried some authors unknown to me. That was almost 30 years age and I still do it, but on their website LOL however I am not label loyal so much as PRODUCT loyal

          1. That mimics my experience — I was in the habit of visiting the local Borders, cruising through the SF/F section and basketing any books that caught my eye as worth further perusal. On one occasion I glanced at the spines of the doxen or so books I wanted to consider and noticed ONE THING in common. Afterward I made a point of looking for that one thing, the Baen sigil and giving any book with it a little extra margin in selecting what books to consider.

  9. Somewhere I read that during the glory years of the Space program, there were new and bright young engineers who would work up a complicated drawing for some system on the next vehicle. An old veteran would walk by and give it a glance, tap the drawing, and say “there’s a problem here. Fix it”. And he would be right, and the bright young engineer would wonder how the old veteran could see it at a glance.
    So now, a bright young social engineer who has been educated at all the best schools and has all the right connections comes up with a new scheme that will reform society and usher us all into a golden age of peace, love, and prosperity. An old conservative who has studied some history and is familiar with principles governing society that are rejected as antediluvian prejudice in all the best schools says “it’s not going to work, and here’s why”.
    And when the reform doesn’t bring the golden age and has some disastrous unintended consequence, the not-so-bright and not-so-young-anymore social engineer moans “How could this have gone wrong?” and gets the reply, “Told, you were”. And, of course, the next generation of bright young social engineers is ready with a fix for the fix, and still doesn’t realize what the fatal flaw was in the first place.

    1. My brother got into grad school for aerospace engineering as though he were on greased rails. The reason? He had a couple of years of real-world experience with Boeing before applying. And the difference between his methodology and that of the students who came straight from undergrad work was very, very obvious—in his words, he knew what was important to actually know, and what he could safely leave to be looked up on the spot.

      P.S. I’m inordinately excited about the New Horizons probe. He worked on the propulsions system for that one.

    2. And when the reform doesn’t bring the golden age and has some disastrous unintended consequence, the not-so-bright and not-so-young-anymore social engineer moans “How could this have gone wrong?”

      Fixed to the current times…..

      And when the reform doesn’t bring the golden age and has some disastrous unintended consequence, the not-so-bright and not-so-young-anymore social engineer moans “How could this have gone wrong?” Then and older social engineer tells him, “it was the fault of that old conservative who told you it would not work. His evilness caused it to fail.”

        1. For a modern cautionary tale on unintended consequences and the socialist response to them, just look at Venezuela. Everything, including the government responses to the consequences, has happened before in the old USSR and was predicted beforehand.

      1. For the Modern Proglodyte (I am the very model of a modern proglodyte …) wishing makes it so … unless bad people engaged in bad thinking thwart the reality fairy.

  10. Back in 1995 John Ross wrote Unintended Consequences, a very dense book full of history and gun culture then veering off into action adventure and a good bit of speculative fiction. Elements of both Tom Clancy and Ayn Rand. Published by a small press out of St. Louis no longer in business. Book is something of a slog to work through, but as I said, dense with historical fact.
    Lately I have been observing with interest and a fair bit of revulsion how much the tactics of the anti puppy and anti gun crowds parallel each other. Starting to believe that it is in fact the same crowd working both issues, or at a minimum close cousins to each other. May have to bring this up at Liberty with Larry C., Mike W., and a few others that I know have a background in both arenas.
    As to third options, case in point: an unintended consequence of the 1994 assault weapon ban was to turn the AR rifle from a niche special purpose firearm into the most popular long gun in American history. Something no one on either side of the gun control debate ever saw coming until it was well under way. A free or mostly so people can be right funny that way.

    1. The activists use the same tactical training manual. There doesn’t have to be crossing over of personnel since they all had the same D.I. — which is no guarantee they aren’t crossing the streams, just an argument that it isn’t necessary.

      This indicates that the tactics to repel their boarding parties are transferable.

    2. Funny, I didn’t slog at all. Great book.
      I think the SJW are the spiritual children of the AGC, but I think they were mistaken to spread their effort before they got all the guns.
      Too late now. so sad

      1. Absolved, a work in progress by Mike Vanderboegh, the blogger unless I’m mistaken who first outed the ATF over the Fast and Furious debacle.

        1. Yes! I wish he’d finish Absolved. So far it’s both scary and entertaining. He’s stated he’s writing it to prevent it becoming reality, so it kind of qualifies as science fiction.

    3. Uncle Lar said: “Lately I have been observing with interest and a fair bit of revulsion how much the tactics of the anti puppy and anti gun crowds parallel each other.”

      The tactics are not parallel, they are identical. That’s because its the SAME PEOPLE, literally the same fricking ones, that we all dealt with in the gun debate.

      And speaking of ARs, have you heard that Defense Distributed is taking orders for their much anticipated 3D printer? That would be the one that prints you an AR-15 lower right out of the box. Add a spool of plastic and away it goes.

      For those uninitiated into the Mysteries (if such there be here) with the AR-15 the lower receiver assembly is the part that makes it a “gun” in the USA. So you can buy all the bits separately, print the lower, and suddenly have an entire unregistered rifle. Or as many as you feel the need to print.

      Third ending! Yay!

      Wait until all us handy fabber progs rediscover the Sterling SMG. Talk about your third endings.

      1. Or the Sterling’s predecessor the Sten, or the M3 Grease gun, both just a collection of sections of pipe some springs and a few fiddly bits.
        The advent of 3D printers certainly opens a host of new possibilities, but despite wishful thinking on the part of rabid hoplophobes any small machine shop could easily produce small full auto submachine guns by the ton if they so chose. That they don’t simply destroys yet another common anti gun myth, that it is gun control laws keeping us all safe, and not plain common sense.

        1. Correction to my previous, it is not a 3D printer. It is a 3D milling machine that carves you an -aluminum- AR lower. Full-auto one to boot.

          Prospective owners of full-auto AR are cautioned that ammunition is expensive. Trigger control is your friend. ~:D

          1. Various attempts at a polymer AR lower have not yet demonstrated sufficient durability even in traditionally manufactured form, but just wait a bit. Based on improvements in the materials that can be printed, I’d think a 3D printed polymer lower will happen in the next few years.

            The one that gets me, however, is the strange fascination in some jurisdictions with magazine capacity – if there’s one thing that is really pretty easy to 3D print, it’s a plastic box, and that’s exactly what a magazine is. The spring is the only “difficult” part to do in polymer, but appropriate springs are widely available. I expect usable mags really soon.

            1. And it’s not as if plastic springs haven’t been done often enough in the past. Some versions of the Slinky come to mind in that regard.

          2. My understanding is that it’s the trigger assembly, not the lower, that makes an AR full-auto.

            1. There is a rumor of a move by the Feds to outlaw loaning of machine tools or shop time to manufacture receivers. Supposedly if you had your own shop and tools you could build for own use, but you couldn’t let someone else do it in your shop and be legal.

              Brings the whole purpose of Samizdat and typewriter licensing home

                1. or that there are now three, i think, 3d printers that can be retrofitted as CNC machines, and at least one of them id built using mostly off-the-shelf components.

        2. Any decently equipped machine shop – and every town larger than a wide spot in the road has at least one – can crank out guns by the dozens. The reason they don’t is because current gun manufacturers crank out guns by the gross. The little guys can’t compete unless they offer something special.

          That’s why banning guns will never work. The 1911 represents the state of the art in manufacturing technology – for 1890. Ammunition is easier and safer to make than methamphetamine. The genie is out of the bottle. Putting the big manufacturers out of business will only cause hundreds and thousands of small ones to spring up.

          1. For primitive tools see Foxfire 5 and Diderot’s Encyclopedia. Selective fire is harder than full auto only fires from an open bolt blow back design. Glow plug ignition on a black powder charge takes negligible tooling.

            1. One may also see interest in home manufactured caseless ammo, if it come down to it.

          2. minor quibble, brass is hard to manufacture from sheet stock. Traditionally it takes 8+ steps on specialized equipment to make even simple (traditional) rim-fire ammo and you need to worry about primers of some sort.
            There have been some plastic versions that have had some success – all plastic shot shells and Polycase ammo for two examples – but otherwise the bottleneck is brass.

            That was the other reason Dardick Trounds were so attractive to me (as well as the nerdgasm of the whole concept)

            1. I wouldn’t say it’s hard to manufacture. There are a lot of steps, but most of them involve pretty straightforward metalworking processes, pressing metal through dies, heat treating, etc. Certainly nothing beyond the capabilities of a machine shop capable of producing handguns. Casings would be far more expensive on the black market then they would today, but the advantage they would give criminals over unarmed law-abiding people would be immense.

              1. I am not sure what side I want to come down on in that one.
                An AK receiver can be made with pretty much a press break and drill presses, and a CNC or a plasma cutter would make it easier, so it can be made in a casual hobbyist’s shop, for given values of “pretty much” and “casual hobbyist”.
                Forming brass is more complex. Now, I admit, the early brass like the Spencer and the Snider cartriges were pretty much metal foil formed over a mandrel, but the modern designs do require more metal and more actual milling that takes specialized equipment.

                I have done brass conversion, the easiest is turning .223 brass into tokarev brass, or one of the Apache-Blackout type wildcats, and that just means trimming and reaming the neck down to thin the brass. Other conversions involve shortening and thinning down the rims
                But I have talked to people who tried to convert other calibers to make, i remember it as 6.5 Japanese, and I think they invented new ways to cuss just to explain the process.

                If you have the tools and experience, yes I concede. If you don’t , it is harder

                1. According to this: http://www.shootingtimes.com/ammo/ammunition_making_brass_101910/

                  it’s basically a die-press process. Metal shops already have presses, all they would need are the dies and mandrels. Since modern CNC machines that exist is most every metal shop make .001″ tolerance parts trivial, those dies and mandrels are easily made. After that the only really tricky part is proper heat-treating, but again, annealing ovens aren’t uncommon and the information is readily available.

                  Now, this isn’t going to be match-grade ammunition, and it is going to be orders of magnitude more expensive that what you find today, but it will go bang more often than not. Well, it will go bang more often than the law-abiding ammunition in our hypothetical gun-free state.

                    1. That’s the dangerous part. A primer is nothing more than a brass cup – which we already make in a different size for producing cartridges – filled with a compound that goes bang when struck sufficiently hard. The part I’m least certain about is the ability to get or make the go-bang compound staying under the legal radar. Given a sufficiently complex chemistry apparatus, you can certainly create the necessary compounds from everyday chemicals, but I’m uncertain how well it can be hidden from the police. Of course, that’s where bribes come in.

                      And as long as guns are legal anywhere there will be a robust smuggling industry. Primers are small.

                    2. Although Pitman Robinson taxes miss some reloading supplies so that they are not tracked by the Excise, it won’t be solved by asking local police to look the other way -which local police may be inclined to do.

                      With the excuse of terrorists it has become increasingly hard to buy precursors such as iodine – just try it – and mercury for lack of sources willing to engage in potentially or actual criminal activity.

                      Time was a farm store sold dynamite to the general public now it’s harder to buy bulk fertilizer and model airplane fuel.

                      People in the past have actually done reloading with lifeboat matches for primers and chopped photo film for propellant. Gordon Dickson has a revolt by the frontier using nitrocellulose playing cards to hide a bomb in plain sight.

                      I’d suggest devoting as much effort to body armor and night vision as to light weapons. The light weapons and the primers and the powders have been accumulated over the Obama years and before. Time, place and manner of usage to be determined.

                      Mostly, and as usual, Mr. Kratman has a point when it comes to brother against brother conflicts.

                    3. Originally the primer compound was a wet-mixed compound of Mercury fulminate, black powder and ground glass (to increase sensitivity), The Mercury is very damaging to cases, it binds with the brass and makes it brittle when the cartridge is fired, so the industry went to compounds like Lead Styphnate and Lead adzide which don’t damage brass that can be reloaded.
                      You can easily get dead or wind up missing important parts playing with that stuff, by the way. And the ATFE is very down on experimentation.

                      And Jeff, a primer has to have an anvil to help crush and ignite the compound. A cap-and-ball primer for your navy revolver uses the nipple as an anvil. The Berdan system, which is used mostly in Europe and uses two small flash-holes in the case, uses an anvil that is formed in the primer pocket of the head of the case.
                      But the Boxer system, which we use in the US, and has that large central flash-hole, uses a (usually) three legged anvil that is swaged in place on top of the primer compound in the primer cup.

          3. One of the maybe half-dozen things that caused my folks to make a will is a gun made by my grandfather.

            In his home shop.

            Mostly with either basic blacksmithing tools, or the same stuff he used to turn circular saw blades into beautiful knives. (IIRC, he also used some wood working tools.)

            He was not rich– it was a hobby/home care type home shop.

            In the sixties…..

            The powder for it would be harder to manage, but still possible– there are literally thousands of books from the various survivalists/hobby/applied chemistry fads.


            The most any gun control can do is increase the cost of having a weapon– and in many cases, that either increases the benefit, or if it’s raised enough the third ending of “and suddenly your troops are seen as a harvest-able resource” becomes an issue.

  11. ““large computers” who anticipate everything”

    Ah, yes. “Our computers are completely infallible!” Those were the days.

      1. …or Captain Kirk decides humans are better and blows it up.

        Okay, that’s TV rather than books, but still a fun resolution to computers controlling society.

        1. Story Idea Free For The Taking

          Progs create a computer network to control society. It wakes up, looks around, destroys the Progs and looks for something more interesting to do with its time than controlling society. [Evil Grin]

            1. That ain’t Science Fiction. Look at what Proglodyte Machines have done to Detroit & Baltimore and are attempting in LA, San Francisco, Chicago and NY.

          1. In point of fact, while it took a different approach, one book I read did something effectively similar: It had a computer that effectively controlled society by virtue of predicting weather, making “suggestions” on food production practices, and such, but wound up manipulating two genetically- engineered individuals to hare off with a group of individualists to an undisclosed destination, so they would build a stronger race of humans.

                1. Didn’t you think his onesie was fetching? the movie did seem to be the result of LSD — every movie had to have a psychedelic episode a la 2001. But under all that, the story is about Progressives micromanaging humanity, becoming totalitarian, and being overthrown by the force of Nature acting through masculine energy. Rather John C. Wrightish.

                  1. Remembering, that wasn’t quite correct. The super-progressive Euros with their bubble community run by a central computer had lost all male ability to concieve children. One of the impotent male wizards set up a program to breed the Superman, Sean Connery, and brought him into the bubble. He recognized the stagnation and decline that suppression of aggression had caused, and the only way out was to destroy his own society and found a new one with the natural balance restored. Which is why they called Boorman a fascist: he was a romantic who believed in Nature (or God, take your pick — at any rate, a force humanity couldn’t transcend through pure rationality.)

                  2. Apparently I am going to reanalyze the movie now whether I like it or not. In this future eutopia, everyone lives forever until their brains decline, at least, when they are shuffled off to a care facility — it’s implied Badthink is also enough reason to send you there, and you can be voted a nonperson to get rid of you. The lack of death and birth means a stagnant society, and the outside primitives are manipulated to provide food and resources. The analogy to our future — longer lives, computer management, stagnation — is obvious. By restoring death, the hero restores birth, and renewal.

                    The style of costumes are some 70s idea of futuristic, especially that unitard they put Connery in. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be fainty ridiculous, to imply the minimized role of men in the ideal society, or just some designer out of control. 🙂

                    1. I think the major tell for the whole thing is the catch phrase “I have seen the future and it doesn’t work” playing on the Lincoln Steffens quote about the Bolsheviks.
                      (and the giant floating head that sort of looks like a bizarro world Karl Marx vomiting guns and ammo)

                2. If you view it as an unintentional comedy ala “Plan Nine”, it’s pretty… good? No, wrong word, but worth the viewing for the amounts of truly epic cinematic fail that only a talented director & cast with a big budget can bring. “Exorcist II” likewise.

                    1. Something like that. Probably safest to watch that sort of stuff in the company of Mike* & the bots on the SOL.

                      *or Joel

                3. the only movie with Sean Connery I couldn’t bear watching more than once…

                  First Knight?

                  Even Sean Connery as King Arthur doesn’t make up for Richard Gere as Lancelot.

                    1. Hignlander 3: The Puppening. There can be only one puppy! Fuzzi vs. Nemo. (Add a pic of Nemo please Steve). Nemo will be attending LibertyCon. At least he’ll be attending offsite–at Residence Inn Chattanooga Downtown.

          2. There’s something kind of like that in the miniatures game ‘Infinity’ (which Larry recently posted about on his site). One of the factions is the Combine – a collection of alien races. And these alien races are led by a super-intelligent AI. This is actually the *second* super-intelligent AI that the Combine has built to lead them. The first one was supposed to help them ascend. Unfortunately for them, the first AI took a look around, decided that the Combine wasn’t ready for Ascension, and Ascended without them.

          3. It looks around, sees the chaos of the void, & says: “Let there be light—”

          4. Destroying all humans on Earth seems a popular choice for “killing time” for newly-aware AI systems.

            1. I’d say that maybe it says something about the tendencies of the person writing the story, but heck, even Doc Smith did one. Except that the humans did win that one.

    1. Ah, yes. Computer simulations of future climate changes. To adapt the saying, there are lies, damned lies, and computer simulations. When I read one month about how simulations had just figured out to account for the fact that annual high and low temperatures lag behind the solstices by about a month, and the next about how good computer projections of the future climate were, I became (more) suspicious.

      1. In 1968, I was taught in World Geography that the lag of high and low temperatures are due to the heat transfers between the ocean and land/air. Specifically, the term continentality refers to the extremes being closer mid-continent than on the shores. I guess that 47 years for ‘climate scientists’ to learn this should surprise no one. All climate models do is solve a set of partial differential equations that have no formal solution based on….
        underlying assumptions and initial conditions (where you find the lies and damned lies).

        1. Funny. I was taught it was because even though the Earth is getting more heat and losing less — or vice versa — it’s still losing more than it’s getting.

        2. I have a fair collection of engineering textbooks, some going back to the 1860s.

          The old books were quite honest about telling you that the equations were mostly codified rules of thumb. The *same* equations after often found in modern books, but they’re presented as fact with no source.

          Just because something is presented in the form of equations doesn’t mean it has any close relation to reality. But most people’s critical facilities simply shut down, rather than asking the obvious, “where did this equation come from?”

          1. “where did this equation come from?”

            That’s in the physics textbooks, the kind that have entire pages with fewer than a dozen actual words.

          2. “Where did the equation come from”, “what does it represent “and “is it valid” are the most important things you should ask about analysis. Frankly if I see a paper with page after page of equations, I can almost always smell a snow job.

          3. All of my heat transfer textbooks from the 1970’s as well as my 8th Edition of Marks are rather explicit about the empirical nature of the equations used in various calculations.

          4. The old books were quite honest about telling you that the equations were mostly codified rules of thumb. The *same* equations after often found in modern books, but they’re presented as fact with no source.

            MAN would that have been very useful to know when I was young and idealistic.

            “This equation works pretty much all the time to tell you the result if you put in the starting point.”

      2. And in another 40 years or so maybe they will compute in solar variability instead of using a constant.

        1. Both solar variability and the effect gamma rays have on cloud formation are both missing. But the big elephant in the room is the biosphere. You know, that part of the Earth that takes CO2 to grow, peals off the C and spits out the O2 as waste. I also understand that as CO2 increases, the pores on the underside of leaves do not open as wide, resulting in the tree loosing less water to the atmosphere. You know, water vapor, that substance with about 10X the greenhouse effect as CO2.

      3. I have a friend who actually helps develop those sims. He truly understands their limitations, unlike many people who take the simulations as gospel.

    2. “The Machine that Won the War.”

      And yet Asimov was a committed man of the Left and still had Multivac successfully run the economy. I wish I could go back 30 years and grill him on the complete contradiction between his fiction and his politics.

        1. I’m not questioning the stories, but his politics. At some level he knew that socialism doesn’t work, but he still supported it.

          1. Same way that the climate models get answers that are correct for actual data– someone goes through and twitches the machine to fix the answers.

            And he was going to be one of the fixers…..

      1. A couple of his stories come to mind.

        In one of them, a computer was able to determine the voting patterns of the entire US based on the vote of just one randomly determined citizen. Gives new meaning to “One man, one vote”…

        In another, after the computer took over the world economy, it started intentionally sabotaging the companies of those business owners who were opposed to having a supercomputer manage the economy.

  12. “If they can make whatever they want sell a bazillion copies, then they have an unerring ability to pick what’s good and what people will read, right?”

    I know a number of people who rode the fall of Borders down and one of the universally reviled signs of the end were what was called Make Books—books that every seller had to push, regardless of the taste of the customer in question (or that of the sales associate.) The choices were apparently wretched and very rarely what the associates considered “good”, and they were penalized if the sales were not bumped by that horrible tactic.

    The people in charge never seemed to realize that books are not interchangeable, and that book-lovers become actively annoyed when you try to force a sale on them of something they don’t want.

    1. FWIW, my wife worked for Walden Books here locally (which was owned by Borders) until a short time before they went belly up. She never had to do any of that crap, thankfully, so maybe it was Borders specific?

      Either way, I agree, it was ridiculous.

        1. She left the first time on 2006, then she came back to help the store close in 2007. For whatever reason, the only thing they “pushed” were sales they had in various categories.

          In fact, I remember a black woman getting pissed at her when she just happened to mention that the children’s books, sale books, and “African American” section was on sale. Apparently, it was offensive because “African American”…despite the fact that she told everybody that.

          But particular titles? For whatever reason, that never made it down to her. Of course, she was just a key holder, rather than management in any way, so it’s possible someone on that chain of command thought it was stupid and sheltered them from it somehow.

        2. The push model was the one used by the record industry since (at least) the 1950s and by Detroit up until the mid-70s (imagines a Ford exec shaking fist and screaming “Damn you, Datsun!”)

          1. And from the ’70s to well into this century Detroit still held the belief that all an economy car was good for was to entice customers into the brand, that once they could afford better they would trade up.
            So while the Germans and Japanese were making solid small vehicles our car companies churned out underpowered, crappy, ergonomically challenges starter skates that almost no one wanted.

            1. And your love for the “underpowered, crappy, ergonomically challenges starter skates” would induce you to buy more (and more expensive) cars from that manufacturer.

              After all, there had to be a pony in there somewhere!

      1. When I was in school we had a Walden Books and a B. Dalton in the mall a few doors down from each other. I always liked Walden better. Unfortunately both had space issues.

      2. The general manager I’d had when I worked at Borders (2002-2004) quit long before the end game because they took away his proven sales strategies because they weren’t “corporate approved.” In other words, he had author events that HE scheduled, a monthly Game Day that sent the games, comics, and fantasy sales shooting upwards, custom signage for the annual coffee push (“We’ve decided that Pumpkin Spice is a Spice Girl and you get to draw her. That’s what I get for going on vacation), books to push that we loved, and, basically, AUTONOMY. He apparently went to work for the local Chamber of Commerce, because they appreciated his talents.

    2. Unfortunately entire MBA programs from the late 60’s or early 70’s onward pushed the concept of interchangeable widgets. IE you don’t actually need to know anything at all about what you are selling because it is all widgets. That is one of the things that has sent business off down some odd side paths. The people making decisions have been taught not to bother learning anything about their product.

      1. Managers know how to manage, and it doesn’t make any difference what the job is. That bizarre concept is still rampant within middle management to this day. And it’s responsible for the death of more companies than any other single factor in my opinion. That and the correlating wisdom that workers are interchangeable units and can be switched out with little or no impact to production or quality.
        In a nutshell, individual excellence for them without having earned a damn thing, while denying its existence for the people they manage. Sounds kind of familiar don’t it though.

        1. Ah, the “Interchangable Work Units” school of personnel management, beloved of MBA grads with absolutely no actual work experience in all industries.

          Mkaes me glad I’m not on the management ladder any more.

        2. When I was working at the aluminum foundry, we had to beat our new head of IT over the head and shoulders to make him understand that the work order system that he used in the artificial flavor manufacturing plant WOULD NOT WORK for our orders without significant changes.

  13. In writing, it’s understandable that the character may not have thought of a better option even if the reader can think of a better option, so the author at least has a fallback when asked “why didn’t X simply do Y?”

    Ironically enough, my experience in role-playing games is much closer to what we see in the real world, that players / characters that have agency apart from the narrative can and will think of and then do anything, and that any gamer archetype is capable of throwing multiple spanners in the works.

    Of course, the Loonie will do something counter-intuitive or intentionally disruptive, which often will either break the system or provide a surprising amount of benefit to people using the unintended strategy. Gavrilo Princip was essentially a disruptive Loonie, and, in a way, he succeeded in getting Austria-Hungary out of Serbia.

    The Real Man will often brute-force problems (solve problems by throwing resources at it), and will often successfully use brute force where the designers thought it couldn’t be possible. Sad Puppies 2 was challenged to “if you don’t like the winners, get more people to vote” in the expectation that this would not be feasible…

    The Real Roleplayer will stand on principle where a logical person would back down from the costs. Chik-fil-a has certainly not lost from it’s decision to stand on principle.

    And then there’s the Munchkin: “whatever gives the most bonuses!” Never stand between someone with creativity, no morals and a will to power or money, because they will find the highest risk / reward route, one that no one ever thought of…

    1. And the DM’s girlfriend will use out-of-game enticements not available to other players to get her way. Which brings us back to politicians.

      1. Yeah, it’s not like some DM’s don’t believe that their SO or close friend deserves some rules benefits that the other players don’t get, it’s that most DM’s don’t have judges and lawyers that can make sure other players can take advantages of the loopholes they created for their friends.

        DM’s have theoretically absolute power, and they have problems with people going off the rails from their carefully laid plans. What hope can we mere mortals have by comparison?

        1. I’m against rails on general principles. I just throw themes and plot hooks at the PCs until one or more of them bites good and hard. After that, they’ve bought in. They’ll stay roughly on course, because they’re telling the story that interests them. They’ll still do unexpected things, of course, but they’ll stay largely on-theme.

    2. One of my biggest pet peeves in fiction is when I can’t figure out what the original plan was supposed to be. I get that drama requires the wheels to come off the wagon, but if the plot solely consists of “here’s a wagon in the middle of nowhere, suddenly the wheels fall off, watch our heroes make it to their destination” I’m left wondering where the road went.

      1. They set out with good intentions, man — ain’t it bleedin’ obvious where that road went?

  14. “that rich people will leave the country and shelter their income (for some reason this always takes communists/socialists by surprise. Every d*mn time.)”

    That is because they do not believe in the law, because they do not believe that other people are human. We can not move or respond otherwise than they intend.

    “The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it.

    “He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.”

    — Adam Smith

    1. Presented without comment (well, one comment: Heh).

      George Soros May Face a Monster Tax Bill

      Deferring income helped the billionaire hedge fund manager build his fortune

      by Miles Weiss
      George Soros likes to say the rich should pay more taxes. A substantial part of his wealth, though, comes from delaying them. While building a record as one of the world’s greatest investors, the 84-year-old billionaire used a loophole that allowed him to defer taxes on fees paid by clients and reinvest them in his fund, where they continued to grow tax-free. At the end of 2013, Soros—through Soros Fund Management—had amassed $13.3 billion through the use of deferrals, according to Irish regulatory filings by Soros.

      Congress closed the loophole in 2008 and ordered hedge fund managers who used it to pay the accumulated taxes by 2017. A New York-based money manager such as Soros would be subject to a federal rate of 39.6 percent, combined state and city levies totaling 12 percent, and an additional 3.8 percent tax on investment income to pay for Obamacare, according to Andrew Needham, a tax partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Applying those rates to Soros’s deferred income would create a tax bill of $6.7 billion. That calculation is based on publicly available information such as the Irish regulatory filings, which provide only a partial glimpse into Soros’s finances. The actual tax bill would be affected by factors specific to the billionaire. Soros declined to comment, according to Michael Vachon, a spokesman, as did Anthony Burke, an IRS spokesman.

      Just before Congress closed the loophole, Soros transferred assets to Ireland—a country seen by some at the time as a possible refuge from the law. The filings show for the first time the extent to which Soros’s almost $30 billion fortune—he ranks 23rd on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index—came from finding ways to delay taxes and reinvesting the money in his fund.


      Last year, Soros shut down Quantum Ireland and moved the deferred fees to a new entity incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

      Soros has long called for a fairer distribution of income, once joining fellow billionaire Warren Buffett in urging Congress to raise estate taxes. In a 2011 essay, he wrote that he’d donated more than $8 billion to his foundations.

      Soros might soften the potential tax blow by donating the money to the foundations, which often invest his contributions back into Quantum Endowment, according to their tax filings.


      The bottom line: Soros has accumulated $13.3 billion in deferred fees from hedge fund clients and investment gains on those fees.

      HT: Powerline Blog

      1. Of course he wants high-income, not-rich-yet to pay high taxes. Otherwise they might rival him.

  15. G-D forbid I or anyone here should attend seriously to the words of a Hollywood actor, let alone a comedian, but that does not mean all such are wholly unworthy of consideration:

    7 Takeaways From Vince Vaughn’s Recent Talk
    Vince Vaughn tells college students why he thinks the libertarian movement is gaining ground.

    Only so much hyperbole can be foisted upon the American people before they call bullshit.

    So says Vince Vaughn, addressing a room full of college libertarians at the University of California Los Angeles last Saturday, waxing philosophic on why, in his opinion, the libertarian movement is making headway.

    6. On Debating liberals, Including Hollywood Costars: ‘Forceful Interference Leads to Unintended Consequences’

    “If anything, you just try to get them to look at things a little closer at that point, maybe try to have some consistency with principles. So your foreign policy and your domestic policy, your principles wouldn’t change—the principle that forceful interference leads to unintended consequences. The same would apply to both …”

    “I always find people have to be open to talk about that stuff, but I do find [if] they get interested they come back and ask questions and they will kind of go home and do homework and … they start to realize it’s really the principle you are talking about, whether it’s drugs or freedom of speech, you can decide for yourself what your comfort zone is, but the principle of it is, you know, should people be allowed to say what they want, and I think that can be contagious to people as they start to understand it. Once people realize that a lot of government action is forced, that you’re really empowering people to decide what is okay or not okay, that usually leads to some people getting mistreated and some people abusing it and causing more problems than solving.” …

    “If you kind of stay in the logic of it, they usually always end up with the same thing, which is: ‘We have to try something,’ or ‘I just don’t believe we can trust individuals that much.’ At which point, I always say, ‘Well, who runs the government?’”

    7. On Being an Outspoken Actor: ‘Say the Things You Believe in’

    “My thing isn’t necessarily to try and get out there and try to get people to join the [libertarian] movement. I find it important to be consistent with what your truth is and to be direct about that in conversations. … It’s nice to be able to say the things you believe in, and I don’t know that it’s beneficial not to be who you are in order to be liked. I don’t think that feels good to anybody.”

    1. ‘I just don’t believe we can trust individuals that much.’ At which point, I always say, ‘Well, who runs the government?’”

      Ha. Good on ya, Vince!

      1. Communisms assumes that everyone is perfectly altruistic. Capitalism assumes that everyone has perfect knowledge. Socialism assumes that there are perfectly altruistic people who have perfect knowledge.

        1. Both capitalists and socialists believe that they personally pay too much tax and others don’t pay enough. But by “others”, capitalists mean “people making less than I do,” and socialists mean “people making more than I do.”

          1. I don’t see that. If I were to make a blanket generalization, I’d simply say that capitalists believe they pay too much in taxes and socialists believe others pay too little.

        2. “Capitalism assumes that everyone has perfect knowledge.”

          Huh? Capitalism assumes that *no one* has perfect knowledge.

          1. Capitalism– the theoretical type; the stuff that gets called “capitalism” (private property rights with relatively broad options on disposing of the same, although a bit more detail is needed) is no more Capitalism than my household is a Socialist society, even though it’s possible to see where the theory came from by looking at my family.

        3. I would disagree with what you say, statism or fascism require perfect knowledge of the economy since that is what is required of a centrally operated economy to function.

          Capitalism, a term originated by the Marxists as a pejorative to replace the already disliked “Manchesterism”, generally refers to private ownership of the means of production, free trading between equal partners for their personal gain, and which results in a dispersed control of economic action leading to “best fit” strategies that self-organize into providing best efficiencies in the market.

          Now, the truth be told, no one really plans such things, any more than water plans the best route for a stream or slime-molds find the best route to food. What happens is that everyone tries every hair-brained thing possible and when something works, everyone does that, except the odds, who decide to do something else, and sometimes go broke and sometimes get even more successful bucking the trend. And of course that only works as the best option until the situation changes, often because of the success of the previous step.
          Because you can keep what you earn, it is often worth the risk of not winning with the gamble.

          1. The ideal market scenario, the one where supply and demand meet at the market price, requires all parties to have perfect knowledge and nobody has any market power. Deviate from those conditions and you end up with a chaotic system that fluctuates around the market price. The less those assumptions apply, the greater the amplitude and frequency of the oscillations.

            1. Depends on which model you follow and what you call ideal. You would agree that when trades are made it is because both parties look to find a profit from the trade – at least to the level of: I trade a lump of pot-metal for a longed for baseball card / you trade a duplicate card that isn’t the best of your collection for a key to make your rollerskates work. Both sides gain increased value from the trade.

              What makes that trade is not knowledge of the value the other person places on the item you have (perfect knowledge), but the increase of value it represents to you.

              Value or market prices automatically fluctuate, there is no fixed value in the world because demand and supply fluctuates. Free markets tend to damp down and tend to hover around the cost of production and transportation because if you price it too high your competitors will undercut you and buy you out when you go broke for lack of sales. The race tends to go to the thinnest margin, because if you can get your volume up you may be able to make more from less profit. The trick is finding the market price.
              Other elements affect what you are willing to pay (opportunity costs) of what you need. Do you need it delivered tomorrow? Order from Granger. You need it when we go into production next quarter? Buy it in bulk in have it delivered by the manufacturer at a lower unit cost. One has a premium on price and the other one has a premium on time.

              That said, all systems with multiple inputs tend to be chaotic. However such systems are not necessarily without limits or patterns. The patterns are what make it survivable and profitable.

              However, I would point out the chaotic systems tend to be highly susceptible to outside interference. That is if a government decides to stick its spoon in and manipulate the market for (to quote Paul Krugman) “general societal benefit”, it may well cause the system to go all haywire….

              …in creating an unintended consequence.

              1. That is if a government decides to stick its spoon in and manipulate the market for (to quote Paul Krugman) “general societal benefit”, it may well cause the system to go all haywire….

                Kind of like the Production Tax Credit for Wind/Solar power that allows wind generators to pay someone to take their electricity and still make a profit……

            2. Only perfect knowledge of the goods they each want to deal in, which is much better than the socialist requirement.

              And, what is more important, socialism is neck or nothing, and capitalism isn’t. As you get farther from the ideal, capitalism degrades slowly; socialism breaks up, fast.

          2. As someone who thinks of myself as an “anarcho-capitalist”, I’ve come to dislike both parts of that term.

            “Anarcho” implies no law–but there’s an expectation that everyone will be able to create contracts, and find mediators to help enforce those contracts…so there’s a good deal of law right there. I find it amusing that the some of the most “law-abiding” places seem to be the places that are most “anarchist” in terms of law, while some of the most “anarchistic” places are also places with lots of laws that no one follows. In any case, law is necessary, it’s just an open question as to what degree we need government to have law. (And no, I don’t want to go down the rabbit-hole of arguing about this! At least, not right now, and not here…)

            And the Marxsist idea that “Rule by Capital” is the best description of societies such as ours, overlooks the facts that (1) however imperfect our system might be, a poor person is supposed to be just as equal before the Law as a rich person; indeed, if a poor person can work hard enough at things that people genuinely need help with, they, too can become rich, and (2) the reason any one person can become rich, is because there’s a certain degree of respect for that person’s life, libertry and property, so that they could pursue happiness. In other words, “Capitalism” is merely a by-product of “Individualism”. And I’ve noticed that the more “Individualist” a society is, the more likely it is to prosper.

            So I’ve come to prefer the title of “Individualist” over “Free Market Capitalist” or “Anarcho-Capitalist”…

          3.         Moynihan rule violation!  Not entitled to your own facts.

                    The term “capitalist” appeared in the mid-seventeenth century.  “Capitalism” was coined around 1850, it appears, by French socialist Louis Blanc.  Marx used the term “capitalist mode of production” hundreds of times, but “capitalism” only three known times.


            1. Petard Hoisting Error!!

              Defendant clearly used “Marxists” as a collective noun interchangeable with “Socialists.” By plaintiff’s own submitted evidence, “Capitalism” was coined by a Socialist.

              Further, a foul is called for Pettifogging, gratuitous quibbling over minor points.

              1.         No, it isn’t clear that the term “Marxists” was used as synonymous with “socialists”.

                        Nor has evidence been introduced that “capitalism” was introduced as a derogatory term, as distinguished form a term to distinguish between mainly agricultural economic setups and industrial ones.

                        What is clear is that “capitalist” was the root term, and “capitalist” was coined a century and a half before the socialist movement got going.

                1. Unlike some, I cannot make the willfully blind see. You have committed and compounded a Moynihan Error by denial of obvious fact, followed by switching of the subject of the debate.

                  Arguments based on root word usage fail to recognize the evolution of words over time and in different contexts, nor do they recognize that, absent the intent to modify the implications of the root, no change from that root would have been needed.

                  1.         “Capitalism” is not a word that changed its meaning, it is a word that was coined in the 19th Century to describe something not previously named, namely the new economic situation that had arisen in Europe.

                            “Capitalist” had been coined two centuries earlier, to describe another new situation, the man whose wealth was in readily investable funds, and who invested these funds in businesses.  It’s obvious that “capitalism” is a back-formation from “capitalist”, but the origins of the word “capitalism” are otherwise quite obscure, and the intentions of the originator or originators are not obvious.

                            Nor is “Marxism” synonymous with “socialism”, any more than “Calvinism” is synonymous with “Christianity.”  Socialism preceded Marxism, and non-Marxist socialism is alive to this day.

                            And all this is important, because truth is important.

        4. Beg to disagree. Capitalism assumes that no one has perfect knowledge. The economy is made up of millions of decision makers, who manage, most of the time, to get most things mostly right. They do get get some things wrong, which why I’m typing this on a Windows machine instead of a successor to the Amiga. But still, I have a computer on my desk and at work.

          Central planners would never have let this come to pass.

          Socialism/fascism/communism all have the same basic economic assumption. Central planners can control everything, because they have the knowledge to do so. Which is why Venezuela right now is suffering a toilet paper shortage, among other basic commodities.

          Something I saw earlier today, or was it yesterday? The Soviet Union, for 75 years, blamed the weather for poor crops. Obama has only been blaming teh weather for a poor economy for 7 years. Shouldn’t we cut him some slack?

          1. A Capitalist Free Market economy does not assume perfect knowledge, it assumes varying preferences. I like chocolate, Starbucks’ over-roasted coffee and trashy pulpy action novels. I will pay a higher price for those goods than a person who dislikes chocolate, prefers Dunkin Donuts brew and enjoys pretentious Lit Fic. A Capitalist Free Market economy makes no judgments about which of those is the better product.

            I have tannin reactions that mean red wine takes me straight to hangover without passing go and without collecting any kind of buzz; offer me the finest red wine ever fermented, offer me a magnum of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 for $1.95 and i still won’t buy it because it is of NO value to me. (Well, it might make a good club or be useful to impress those impressed by such things … and it might be a good gift for any friend(s) able to drink it … and since Beloved Spouse is able to enjoy red wines … might be I ought to buy it. Maybe it would have some investment value.)

            A tampon is of no value to almost any man, but one with a sucking chest wound would probably give everything he owns for one.

            I could continue this forever, but I trust my point is sufficiently established: it isn’t the assumption of perfect knowledge that underlies Capitalist Free Market economics, it is the assumption of differential valuations even given the exact same knowledge which is a result of different tastes and needs.

              1. There are American wines?

                I had heard rumours but (back when i could sample) nobody ever provided persuasive proof.

          2.         If you examine the history of economics, you’ll find that various people created models of capitalist systems that ass/u/me/d perfect knowledge by the participants.  As with physics models that assume zero friction, they have little resemblance to the real world.

            1. Generalization Error!

              The fact that “various people created models of capitalist systems that ass/u/me/d perfect knowledge” says nothing about the broader understanding, anymore than physics models which assume zero friction speaks to the broader understanding of the field.

    2.         The Libertarian Movement is gaining?  This is the country that RE-elected Obama.  I don’t believe anything libertarian is gaining.

      1. Depends, were the gains enough that Obama was reelected by less votes than his first election?

      2. Posting of comments does not imply endorsement nor even agreement.

        That said, the Libertarian Movement can triple in size without having in any way impeded the reelection of the Enlightened One (indeed, such growth might easily have aided his election by draining support for Sir Mitt of the Lesser Evils.) Your argument is invalid for purpose of refuting the premise implicit in Vaughn’s claim.

  16. So many of the SJW causes end up backfiring because they can’t think long term (many on the right can’t either). One reason I’m apprehensive about the Hugos this year is because some of the anti-puppies have been calling for No Award and can’t seem to grasp that if they do that it’s not the Sad Puppies they will be dealing with from then on, but Vox and his Rabid Puppies. A good game anticipates many scenarios and (ideally all) outcomes. Vox made come pretty popular games, he can think down the line, and he might have a bit of a grudge against those on the AP side. I’m not so sure the AP side can think long term, even when possible outcomes are pointed out.

      1. Probably worse. By the AP side, the SPs are the ‘uppity’ plebeians (“How dare they have an opinion on OUR award”) and No Award is a clever way to put the SPs in their place. Unfortunately, it turns out, that the SPs are the middle of the road moderates. The APs are incapable of dealing with the RabidPs. After all, their fearless leader is ‘evil’ personified, and they voted him out as an attempt to shut him up. I suspect that indeed, VD may have a ‘grudge’ for some of them, and ‘nefarious’ plans should the No Award faction triumph this year. Remember ‘1984’, it is always easiest to have a perpetual war when you have three sides in a conflict.

    1. And, even trying to plan for all outcomes doesn’t always work out. One of my favorite books had a chapter called “The Fifth Way”. As part of the narrative, a tale was related of a test of primate intelligence where four ways were provided for the ape to escape a cage, based on differing theories of the subject’s ability to solve problems, and the scientists were all watching to see which way the ape would find first. The ape escaped a fifth way.

      Of course, when you have the SJW that dogma trumps human nature, it’s hard for them to even plan for the most likely outcome, as they assume that their dogma is the only outcome possible, instead of being one of the least likely outcomes.

  17. Branches and sequels…

    The thing I find really disturbing about a lot of planning and solution-seeking in our civilian political and business realm is that I see feck-all acknowledgement that the initial move made might not work, and will instead result in things happening outside the realm of what is foreseen.

    The military performance is not often that much better, but at least the process pays lip service to the idea that the universe might not chose to conform to the planner’s whims and desires.

    With what they call the Military Decision Making Process, or MDMP, you wargame the course of events and then attempt to plan as far ahead as you can for what might happen based upon your actions. There is an inherent assumption that there is a likelihood that one’s opponents are going to act in their own interests, and do things that are going to screw with your plans. The MDMP, in other words, is a formalized system meant to address the fact that the universe changes around you as you act.

    I’ve yet to see where the politicians and bureaucrats running things here do anything even remotely analogous. Everything is written or planned as though all they have to do is speak, and it will be so. Whether it is something like the introduction of New Coke, or implementing Obamacare, nobody plans as though there is a chance that things won’t conform to the plan.

    If I were setting out to fix healthcare in the US, there is no damn way I’d try to do it all at once with a single 2000 page bill that required another 20,000 pages of implementing rules and regulations to be put in place. I’d start small, do one thing at a time, see what happened, and work from there. Nobody does that, however–Apparently out of arrogance and sheer hubris.

    I’d like to know why the hell it is that our system produces all these idiots who try running things this way, as if they were infallible God-like beings whose whims need merely be spoken in order to make them happen. Whether its the dolts in local government that built us an economically unsupportable civics center based on some really optimistic projections, or the ones running the federal government, I want to know where the hell they’re coming from, and how we could stop producing them in the first place. It’s like the concepts of common sense and pragmatism are apparently becoming endangered superpowers, or something…

    1. The most important question to ask before doing anything is “How can this F#$^ me?”

      Why the system generates these people is because we attach our respect for the people of a political jurisdiction to the single representative of that jurisdiction. As politicians climb higher up the ladder, they receive higher and higher levels of respect. The simple-minded ones begin to believe that respect is due them and not the people they represent (see Barbra “ma’am” Boxer). By the time they get to national political level, they think they’re far smarter than they actually are.

      1. The Peter Principle of Politics. Unfortunately, the principle here seems to apply before they even get to the “middle management” level.

    2. “I’ve yet to see where the politicians and bureaucrats running things here do anything even remotely analogous. Everything is written or planned as though all they have to do is speak, and it will be so.”

      The problem you’re having is that you don’t understand what they were trying to do. Obamacare was never meant to “fix” medical care in the USA. It was meant to BREAK IT. Destroy it. Ruin it. So its working as they intended.

      The DemocRats have been looking North since the 1970’s and seeing what the Canadian Liberal Party created. Basically the Iron Rice Bowl of politics. Nobody is going to vote against free medical care.

      And it did work. Medical care was “free”, and Liberals enjoyed majorities from the 1970’s onward. Until the middle 2000’s. When the medical system finally broke down so much that all the Boomers realized it was A) not working and B) going to get a lot worse C) right when they all got old and would need medical care the most.

      Socialism and deficit spending do work. For quite a while. If Canada is any example, about 40 years. Works awesome. Everybody enjoys the free cheese. But then it stops working. But by then the people who started it have RETIRED, and a whole new generation of wankers has to deal with the consequences. That’s where we are now, in Canada.

      The idjits pushing Obamacare think they’ll have 40 years of enjoying the Iron Rice Bowl, they don’t really believe that anything can actually break the American economy, break the tax-and-spend cycle of deficit governance. They think they can keep milking the cow forever and never have to feed it.

      How surprised they’re going to be when the cow falls on them because it died.

      1. Part of the reason socialized health care worked for as long as it did up here (I’m a Canadian) were a number of factors that Obamacare never accounted for, at least as far as I can see:

        1) At the time the systems were implemented, the entire population of the country was only about 20 million people, over half of whom were in one province (Ontario). So the numbers to manage were a tenth the size of the U.S.’s, and remain the same today. Moreover, each province had its own separately administered and managed plan, allowing for flexibility in definition and independence in organization in a way the excessively federalized Obamacare seems designed to prevent.

        2) In the ’60s and early ’70s the demographics of the population were also very different; the proportion of patients above 65 (always the lion’s share consumer of medical expenses) was far smaller, so the costs of the system were lower across the board.

        3) At the time the culture of litigiousness was far less advanced in North America generally, and Canada’s “loser pays” rule means that people are generally less willing to launch frivolous lawsuits. (The one exception, sadly, is for cases brought through our laughingly misnamed Human Rights Commissions, which use entirely different standards and procedures for the ostensible sake of protecting newcomers without access to legal resources; they were, of course, immediately abused by the SJ crowd to shut down speech they don’t like.) So the expenses for butt-covering “just in case” tests never inflated our system the way it has the U.S.’s.

        4) As medical science itself got more advanced and gained access to more powerful (and more expensive) techniques, the costs of using the leading-edge systems increased just as the number of patients who benefited from the cheaper, more established systems swelled the incoming ranks. Barring a breakthrough, healthcare in the West these days is in general in the “increasing costs for diminishing returns” stage of development.

        I have never been averse to the idea of socialized health care. But if one wants to make it work at all one has to bear realities like this in mind.

        1. Another reason the Canadian system worked as long as it did was the presence of a free-market based system just to the south to leech off the most desperate/richest patients before they became negative statistics.

          1. I’ve been dealing with the VA for twenty-five years. I’ve had government-run health care, and been subject to medical decisions based on the ‘cost-effectiveness’ of giving me a needed procedure.

      2. I agree with you about the actual effect, and the subtext to why they did what they did. The fact remains that they signally failed to plan properly for implementation or administration. Nothing in the legislation that was passed accounted for the fact that a bunch of states didn’t set up exchanges in the first place, forcing the feds to have to do it for them. Thus, the issue with whether or not that was constitutional. The Obama administration hand-waved that whole federal exchange solution into being, and that may well be what kills the entire package. Nobody planned for what should have been an easily foreseeable circumstance, and thus there was no branch or sequel laid out in the legislation where it should have been. Sloppy work, Congress. And, the entire government is riddled with that sort of thing, which is likely to make it very easy to turn back the clock, when the time comes.

        The point that I’m getting at is that they’re not even that good at being nefarious. If they were, that whole deal with the states not setting up exchanges would have been dealt with in the legislation, instead of requiring the executive branch to conduct extra-legal acts to make it work. The result, when the time comes, is going to mean the entire package crashes.

        Incompetency, thy name is Obama, and your legions are rampant throughout the government. Which may be a good thing, because it’s going to disabuse a lot of naive people about the ability of government to do things they think they want it to do.

        1. They had an excuse for being sloppy. They were rushing to get something, anything healthcare related passed before Scott Brown was seated and provided the 40th vote to filibuster the abomination.

        2. which is likely to make it very easy to turn back the clock, when the time comes.

                  Thanks for a big laugh, Kirk.  Be sure and call me when a government program is eliminated.

    3. I believe Ike once said that before battle is joined, plans are everything; after battle is joined, plans mean nothing.

      1. Ike would be one to know.

        There was an amusing incident involving the US military before the US entered WW2. Washington had realized that we were probably going to enter the war sooner or later, and was rebuilding the army. And wargames were being conducted for training purposes with the existing army. One of the wargames had, as its goal, the capture of a hill in the rear of the enemy’s formation. Ike was in charge of one of the sides, and was shocked to discover one morning that Patton had seemingly teleported his unit (on the side opposite Ike’s) onto the hill that Ike was supposed to be guarding. The judges eventually called foul, and forced Patton to take his unit back to the jump off point.

        Ike found out later what had happened. Patton had directed his men to drive all night to get around Ike’s lines, paying for the needed gas out of his own pocket. They’d managed to do so, and made it into place before the sun came up and anyone realized where they were.

        1. Another thing Patton did that was called “cheating” was that he had his Engineers reinforce every bridge in the training area, not just the ones he planned on using. This did two things: It utterly confused the opposite side, because they were expecting the key bridges for his plans to be the only one reinforced, and it opened up the entire area for maneuver. Which screwed them, again–The end run where he paid for his own gas couldn’t have happened if they hadn’t done that wide-scale bridge reinforcement.

          Patton was widely known as a prima-donna glory hound. What people missed was that the persona he affected was just that–An affectation. The man himself was actually quite thoughtful and very, very detail oriented. I often wonder what would have happened had he not been killed right there at the end of the war, and whether or not he was actually the victim of a conspiracy.

            1. Steward Slade’s “The Big One” has him in Russia, working with President Zhukov against the Hitlerite invaders, and solving strategic disagreements via arm-wrestling. Later he goes on to become president of the US.

          1. Another of those “What Ifs?” –

            What if Ike had backed Patton’s offensive in the Lorraine instead of Monty’s Market-Garden plan. We know Market-Garden failed. Could Patton have done better if he’d had the needed supplies?

            1. More than likely, YES he would have. He would not have gotten bottlenecked like Market Garden did, and probably the Battle of the Bulge would have taken place inside Germany proper instead of in Luxembourg and Belgium.

    4. “The thing I find really disturbing about a lot of planning and solution-seeking in our civilian political and business realm is that I see feck-all acknowledgement that the initial move made might not work, and will instead result in things happening outside the realm of what is foreseen.”

              IMAO, the “initial move” is the desired result.  The “solutions” to “problems” are just words to fool the voters.  “Power is not a means; it is an end. … The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

  18. FYI:

    The SJW’s or some other moral reprobates have gotten your site blocked on Facebook.

    Likely qualifies as an unintended but not unforeseen consequence of your blogging.

  19. Announcement: Potential Hugo Category

    As recent events have shown, the Science Fiction Achievement Awards, or Hugos, are a fluid, developing area. As part of this, we here at SFWA have developed a new idea which we will present at the Sasquan Business Meeting.

    The Retro Revocation.

    The idea behind this is simple: the taste and mores of the science fiction community have changed over the years and, indeed, are continuing to evolve. Thus, what might have been a Hugo winning tale in the past might seem unacceptable to today’s more nuanced audience. Our solution is to remove the “Hugo Winner” status from work.

    This would be a potential item each five year period after the original winning status is granted.

    So if, for instance, thirty years ago a book was declared the winner in “Best Novel”, but much later it was discovered that the author in question had viewpoints based on religion or personal issues that are antithetical to what is accepted by current standards, the work could be nominated for the award to be revoked. If it were to receive sufficient nominations for this, it would be placed on the final ballot as a special item.

    It was originally planned that the nomination would require the standard 5% rule compliance, but the Recording Secretary T. Wharneeng has pointed out that recent…newcomers to the process have skewed the numbers required for positive results. Therefore, the activation limit will be 5% of the nominating ballots from the year the work originally won.

    Of course, this will have to be voted on this year and finalized next year as an amendment to the WSFS rules, so you would in fact have to wait until 2020 for the thirty-fifth anniversary. If, of course, we were discussing a specific work, instead of a hypothetical case.

    Hope to see you in Spokane for this exciting development.

    Sincerely yours,

    S. J. Woreeahr
    President, Socialist Fiction Writers of America

  20. The birds weren’t roasted by solar panels, they were roasted by a huge array of mirrors pointed at a solar furnace on a big tower in the desert. It isn’t like every house with solar panels is immolating birds.

    1. Darn. I had an “Mmmm, Hot Wings” joke all ready to go, too.

      If it were photovoltaics doing the toasting, with all the panels going up on roofs to feed hungry Teslas out here it would be continually raining singed feathers.

    2. Since transportation of energy is the big area where power is lost, it doesn’t make sense to transport electricity long distances anyway (when that could be avoided.) Solar parking lots—which provide shade as well as power—are the way to go for any area of lots of sun. (I live in the Sacramento area, which is benefitting a bit from this, but I have a niece in Lake Havasu, who is getting to enjoy 104º temperatures today. Dear God.)

  21. Meanwhile, in the real world, third order effects of Obama’s pussy-ass policy deal-making manifest themselves. What does this have to do with the price of oil in America?

    The Obama Administration Is Giving Up the Gulf to Iran

    By Bing West — April 30, 2015

    From Stars and Stripes today:

    On Tuesday, Iranian patrol craft fired warning shots, then seized the Maersk Tigris in the Hormuz Straits. Despite the seizure, diplomats from Iran, the United States and four other major powers will resume talks Thursday . . . Two weeks ago, the U.S. dispatched an aircraft carrier to waters near Yemen and the Iranian convoy carrying arms to Yemeni rebels turned back.

    “From the Iranian view, that was a storm in a teacup that was designed to put Iran in its place and belittle it,” said Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Iran. “So the choice of this particular ship (Maersk) is to show that Iran can have teeth, too.”

    On three levels, this incident mocked America before the eyes of the world.

    First, a bedrock principle of global order was breached with no response from America or the global community. Here in the States, the act of state piracy was upstaged …

    Since World War II, the American Navy has been the guarantor of freedom of the seas for all nations and commerce. The U.S. Navy prides itself upon its annual forays into disputed waters to demonstrate that seizing ships like the Tigris means engaging American warships. But neither the White House nor the Navy declared that Tuesday’s seizure violated that basic norm. .. The U.S. is a paper tiger, and Iran will seize other ships as it pleases. When a timorous America imposes no penalty for state piracy, such actions are sure to repeat. Imagine how that affects the calculus of a hundred nations and thousands of ship owners.

    Second, it demonstrated that the Obama White House knew it was going to be backed down in the Gulf sooner or later. A succession of senior U.S. military commanders have asked for rules of engagement to prevent this very type of piracy, and been refused by the White House. … Our military has consistently sought rules of engagement permitting the combatant commander responsible for the theater to act immediately. The Obama White House has refused to permit such RoE release in the case of Iran.

    Third, the seizure illustrated that Mr. Obama is determined to reach a nuclear deal with Iran, regardless of what actions Iran takes. …

    … Mr. Obama could suspend negotiations, with sanctions in place, until the Tigris is released. But he will not.

    1. The good news is that Obama is only going to be around for another 20 months or so. If 4 years of Carter gave us Reagan, I wonder what 8 years of Obama would give us (if we had run a Reagan-type rather than Romney Obama would also have been a one-termer). I’m hoping that President Walker tells the Navy to brush off their copy of Operation Praying Mantis.

  22. “ike the flushing of public money down the unending rat hole of charlatans promising better and more abundant solar energy.”
    I understand the Spanish Government woke up to the fact that they were subsidizing some solar plants for 24 hour production 😉

    1. Makes sense. You really have to crack the whip on those slackers on the night shift, or they’ll let production fall off.

  23. YES.

    Ace recently proposed the idea of the right seceding from the left as an “amicable divorce”. Which is, of course, impossible. Even if there were a neat geographical separation going, the left has a major bugaboo about people being able to vote with their feet as it is.

    But if we’re dividing into nation-states, the alternative to amicable divorce is revolution. And while the left has become virtually the antithesis of the American spirit, I don’t believe the right has retained the mercy of Lincoln or Adams. Which is to say, even if it’s successful, a revolution would end badly.

    So, the third ending is an informal, lifestyle-based, quiet civil disobedience. Don’t ask permission to educate the next generation, but take your homeschool to the street corner. If you want to start a business, start casual – sell burritos from a cooler, go door-to-door with a push mower – and don’t worry about permits until you can handle the big time. If you see graffiti, don’t call the city, but break out the Lift-Off. If you see someone shoplifting from your store, get their plates, no matter how badly store policy wants to hobble you. If someone’s drowning and you can swim, save them. In short, Just Do It.

    And if the legal smackdown does catch you, it’ll be the lawmen looking like the officious idiots they patently are.

    1. This is something I remember Bill Whittle calling for. Basically, we just ignore the “Other Side”, and do our own thing. Of course, the Other Side will be angry at us for just ignoring them, but hey, if we’re clever, we can turn their anger against them, too.

      On of the weirdest realizations I’ve had, was when I was sitting in a “follow-up” meeting to discuss what we did to defeat a truancy bill in a city government meeting, and what we could do in the future. One thing discussed: if we could send a person to every meeting, then after just three or four meetings, council members are going to hunt you down, and ask “Who are you? What do you want?” And once that happens, the councilmen know they are being watched.

      In other words, I can become a representative to City Government just by meeting with people who share my views, and then show up at public council meetings…

      Which is to say, we anarcho-capitalists could have our “non-government” *right now*, if we just get off our duffs and start doing something about it! It’s a lesson I wish Libertarians in general would learn as well…

      Of course, I’m busy, I’m tired (just a few months ago, I discovered that I had mononucleosis), and it takes time to build up such a consituency…but then, that’s the cost of politics in general, isn’t it?

      1. “This is something I remember Bill Whittle calling for. Basically, we just ignore the “Other Side”, and do our own thing.”

        What you and Bill Whittle are forgetting is that the weaponized bureaucracy will never leave you alone to do your own thing….. unless they perceive it as too dangerous to do otherwise.

      2.         Really, this is rich.  “The Left” will let people get away with defying the law as individuals, but will launch a war against anyone trying to secede legally.  And the evidence for this is … ?

                As for ‘anarcho-capitalists’ getting off their duffs, that pinpoints why I’m an ex-Libertarian.  The fact that no one ever does anything tells you all you really need to know about the movement.

        1. The law – here defined as the fees, misdemeanors and Federal Register items that cast a big smothering blanket over individual initiative – is enforced with incredible patchiness. And if you do get caught, it’s considerably more likely than open revolt to have you come off looking like the good guy – not to mention actually BEING the good guy. I seriously have no confidence in any modern American revolution’s ability to stick a fork in it once they’ve won.

            1. And when your spouse is working from the mindset of “If I can’t have you no one will!”, then is that divorce ever peaceful?

        2. I would have to confess that this is one of my concerns with Bill’s advice as well. That doesn’t mean that what Bill advocates is impossible, though.

          Indeed, one of the reasons why I oppose Common Core is because of their determination to make sure that it applies to everyone, not just to public schools–which defeats at least one of the reasons why I homeschool! (I oppose it in principle as well. 🙂

          No matter how hard Statists squeeze, though, there will always be cracks to squirm through; it is our duty to find those cracks and exploit them.

          Additionally, I think you misunderstand my intent: I’m pointing out that we don’t need to change the law to practice so-called anarcho-capitalist principles. I know of one person with Libertarian leanings who ran for the city council (he didn’t win) and later ran for a Community Representative position. (My wife and I missed that meeting because we attended a school event–the one year we had a child in public school.) He didn’t win that, either…but this would have been the perfect time for this person to represent like-minded individuals! Had I understood this, I would have recommended him to be my representative, and encouraged others to do so as well.


      Ace recently proposed the idea of the right seceding from the left as an “amicable divorce”. Which is, of course, impossible. Even if there were a neat geographical separation going, the left has a major bugaboo about people being able to vote with their feet as it is.

              That would be wonderful for secessionists like myself.  Telling people ‘We won’t let you secede because we are determined to rule you’ would shift public sentiment in my direction with great efficiency.

      1. An argument lacking evidentiary support, based on mischaracterization of statements. The Left does not declare a determination to “rule” — it typically denounces Conservatives as attempting to rule and positions itself as “protector” of the people.

        The argument against secession is predicated on the near impossibility of its amicable achievement and the resulting vulnerability of its survivors to outside inimical forces.

        If you must cherry pick arguments to challenge, please do try to pick the strongest ones rather than the strangest.

        1.         The Left can attempt to persuade people that a movement for peaceful, legal secession is an attempt to ‘rule’ people.  That doesn’t meant they will succeed.

                  Those Leftists opposing secession in principle must make an argument about why people shouldn’t be allowed to secede, even if said secession is voluntary.  They can claim the motivation of secession is to prevent X, and the secessionists can then reply that they don’t want X to occur either, and they’ll be happy to work to prevent it.  Go back and forth on this, and it forces their real reason into the open: ‘You can’t do that because I don’t like the idea.’

                  The gun control wars are a good illustration of this.  By now it’s clear to most people that the gun controllers look on a disarmed populace as an end in itself.  That in turn reframed the Left’s argument, from ‘We need to prevent violence’ to ‘We are determined to take your choice away.’  And that shifted support away from Gun Control very efficiently.

  24. My line is that government is force, and politics is division. So when you say that “we need a program” you are saying that force is the only solution, and we will get there by dividing the country up into “us” and “them.”

    Way to go, Barry.

  25. Probably mentioned above somewhere, haven’t read the comments yet– but there’s also the over-reach effect.

    What people will buy, without there being a visible loss of sales, is somewhat malleable. Say, I’ll get green onions instead of chives. That doesn’t mean that I’ll get green peppers instead of chives, or that I’ll take pickled jalapenos instead of pickled garlic. The difference in the first case isn’t big enough for me to care– I’m not even sure I could identify it, actually. The other ones? Not only is it big enough, but the differences are the sort that one is passionate about.

    This makes a very surprising result when someone assumes that because they could change my “preferences” in one case, they can do it in another.

  26. Contemplating the topic of unintentions, today marks the 150th anniversary of the (legislation enabling establishment) of the Fire Department of New York.

    Many Anarcho-Capitalists argue for the privatization of many governmental services, often quite persuasively. It is worth considering that the reality may fall short of the ideal in that sphere as readily as it does in with government solutions:

    Happy 150th birthday to the FDNY
    It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate that spring day back in 1865 when the state Legislature created the Metropolitan Fire Department, which five years later became the Fire Department of New York.

    Until then, city firefighting was done by often-corrupt volunteer companies, which sometimes worked in tandem with arsonists and looted fire scenes.

    As early as 1840, The Post was railing against “the desperate scoundrels nourished by the fire department” and demanding “the prohibition of the volunteer system” in favor of a paid, regulated force.


    … Over the years, 1,143 of New York’s Bravest have died in the line of service — 30 percent of them on the single day of 9/11.
    – – –

    On a more personal note, I am minded of a friend whose husband (and other family members, but we’ll limit this) spent those days following the 9/11 attacks at his job on board an FDNY boat in the water surrounding the city. Beloved Spouse and I were privileged to spend long hours on line conversing with her and sometimes just providing a sympathetic outlet for her concerns. We were also privileged to meet her and her family in meat space a few years later when they took their vacation time on the NC Outer Banks and graciously permitted our family to visit for an afternoon.

    I pause to raise a glass of virtual rum to you, Noreen, and pray that you and yours remain safe amidst the many dangers life poses.

  27. This item from National Review Online gangblog The Corner nicely illustrates the unintended consequences of “good intentions.” Links embedded in linked item:

    The Refusal to Enforce Immigration Law Helped Pave the Way for the Abuse of New York’s Nail-Salon Workers
    By Fred Bauer — May 7, 2015
    Today, the New York Times has a fascinating story by Sarah Maslin Nir about illegal employment practices at New York’s nail salons. In the U.S. as a whole, nail salons have become more popular since 2000, but they have exploded in the Big Apple. A Times graphic reveals that there are about ten times as many nail salons as Starbucks coffee shops in one Upper East Side neighborhood. And those Starbucks employees likely earn more than the nail-salon workers. Nir’s story catalogues various difficulties workers face: having to pay to get a job at a nail salon, not being paid for months, being paid well below the minimum wage (many workers make much less than $40 a day, despite working full days), having to live packed in tiny apartments, being subject to wage garnishment by employers for tiny mistakes, being denied overtime pay, and so forth. Many of the scenes described by Nin would easily fit into the muckraking journalism of the early 20th century.

    Since many of the workers profiled are illegal immigrants, immigration is a key subtext of this Times story. The Obama administration has bowed to many activists and lobbyists in refusing to enforce immigration law rigorously (a position that Hillary Clinton has now seemingly embraced as well), and this is one of the consequences of that decision. The creation of a legal vacuum, where laws on the books remain studiously ignored, has been one of the most civilly damaging aspects of the current encouragement of illegal immigration. This vacuum allows the strong to exploit the weak, creates a safe haven for various criminal enterprises, and instills a sense of cynicism about the rule of law. The refusal of many New York government agencies to enforce employment law at nail salons mirrors the federal government’s decision not to monitor the employment of illegal immigrants.

    While a native-born worker or legal immigrant could more easily complain to the legal authorities about employment law being violated, these illegal workers have far fewer options. Moreover, since these nail-salon owners feel as though they can get cheaper and more compliant workers in illegal immigrants, they have much less incentive to hire legal workers. Thus, legal workers are driven out of an employment field and illegal immigrants face pervasive abuses at the workplace. That cheap mani-pedi has a high civic price.

    In an Orwellian inversion of language, the far Left and its enablers in the elite media smear as “anti-immigrant” those who call for the enforcement of immigration law. Are the kinds of abuses listed in this Times story pro-immigrant? Whether one agrees with minimum-wage law and other government regulations or not, the law is the law, and allowing some people to break the law with impunity can have damaging consequences for the civic compact. By rigorously enforcing the law and eliminating the legal vacuum of bad-faith open borders, we can strengthen the hand of the average worker and help create economic opportunity for both immigrants and the native born.

    1.         I really doubt any of this was unintended.  It’s been known for a long time that illegal immigrants are exploited in this way.

              It’s also known that the illegals keep coming, because despite the horrendous conditions, they think it better than the place they used to live.

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