Many years ago, in a library sale, I came across a booklet of … well, science fiction scenarios.  From the context — not being absolutely stupid — I could get that it had been commissioned before the election in 80, and had probably been distributed for free by the Democratic party.  I am afraid to look it up, first because it’s the sort of quest that could take me something like three years (and be lots of fun, but no work would happen) and second because I’d hate to see which ones of my colleagues lent themselves to that rather preposterous effort.  Fortunately I lost the book in one of our many, many moves since then, so I don’t have to know.

Now, when I bought it, I was thirty, just about, but younger than that in craft, as I hadn’t started seriously thinking about world building and scenarios of world building till 22 or so, and I wasn’t yet… fully immersed in American culture.  For instance, how preposterous the scenarios were didn’t hit me at all.  (Yes, I used to be an innocent.  I actually thought anthologies about the coming Ice Age or about how we needed to disarm had no ulterior motives.  Probably self defense.  It allowed me to enjoy some art and literature, while, if I’d been fully conscious of its intent, I’d have thrown it across the room.  More on that later.)

So I read it and re-read it, admiring the extrapolation and trying to figure out how to do this in my own writing.  (Rest easy, I know better now.)

They really were preposterous scenarios. For instance the one where Reagan had gone elected went (Natch) into this scenario of endless war and of American soldiers sent home in sealed caskets which, if the grieving mothers dared open them showed corpses killed by a weapon beyond our comprehension.  (Which makes perfect sense, because you know, the USSR was so much more advan– Oh, wait, no, it was complete and unadulterated BS.)

Some of the scenarios I liked.  At this time I had virtually no political sophistication, and though I’d started reading Reason had no clue what “libertarianism” was.  And yet, instinctively I liked the scenario that I THINK was called “The center cannot hold.”

I think, so help me Bog, I was supposed to recoil from it.  Partly because it also started with Reagan’ s election.  But then DC and all the great cities get nuked, and the US devolves to a regional-centered organization.  First, this scenario was about as likely as feathers on a horse — because there was no invasion from outside following on the destruction of our centers of political organization — and second I think the picture the author was striving for was something out of mad max, or something.  Instead, what I saw was small, decentralized, and less regulation.  I saw thriving small centers of civilization.  I saw more individual freedom.  I ignored the rest.

Again, this scenario (All of them, really) was completely impractical, not to say impossible.  There is no way — no way at all — that kind of destruction would have led to regionally centered anything.  Yeah, I know a lot of dreams on the right and left start that way, but right now, the way we are, it’s more likely that widespread famine and invasion, and the other horsemen of the apocalypse would follow.

So it is funny that these days, looking at this great fractured polity of ours I keep thinking “The Center Cannot Hold” and it evokes both Yeats great mythical poem, and the scenario above, which means I end up dissolving in giggle fits at the unlikelihood of the scenario and missing the … ominous thoughts that the line should provoke.

And there are omens enough in the line.  And for a long time, I’ve been listening to that poem at the back of my mind as I read the news or think over some recent event.

Because if there is something that describes our current days it is exactly “The center cannot hold.”  And yea, anyone who trolls twitter can agree that

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

And yet, just like the future scenario that was supposed to scare me spitless and make me not vote for Reagan (I didn’t, of course.  I was only an exchange student.  I did, however, work for his campaign) I look at this shattering and I listen to the ominous lines rolling in the back of my mind, and then I start grinning.

I’m not a nihilist.  I don’t smile at the end of the world.

But what is very important to remember is that his is not the end of the world.  It’s the end of a world.  (And if any of you ever read Ray Bradbury’s Almost The End of the World, that was closer to what is happening  in terms of major movements, than any apocalyptic scenarios.  Oh, not in WHAT happened, but in the metaphor of it.) However, behind that dying world, around it, beneath it, over it, unsuspected, unseen by the glitterati and the gatekeepers, another world is being born.

Okay, so our major cities didn’t get hit, thanks be to all divinities, since I think the result would be chaos and destruction.   Also, because I have friends in almost every large US city.

But the center is losing its grip anyway.  Mostly in culture.  But that culture is starting to influence politics, which is why there is this appearance of total chaos and the establishment (both sides) aren’t having it all their own ways.  Granted, the left still gets more compliance than the right.  It’s the nature of the beast and also part of how the culture fractured.

Which bring us to why we do have this impression everything is fracturing, and the “center cannot hold.”

This is a scenario not one of those big brains came up with.  Not a big stain on them, mind, since even after the computer revolution was well under way, even as Amazon was starting to take the pillars out from under the pillars of the publishing push model (the model according to which you could only find in the bookstore shelves, not what you might want to read but the books that the publishers had thought worth it to “push” onto the distributors.), most of the people whose job it was to foretell the future were saying that Amazon was maybe like one large brick and mortar shop, and it would make no difference.

As for ebooks, we got the whole thing about how books are a tactile and scent experience.  (Yes, I know some of you agree, but for the love of teardrops, I can’t see it.) And how ebooks would never displace “Real books” (listen, sonny, the scroll is here to stay and the printing press is a fad.  Shut up and copy.)

Blogs?  Some unwashed people in their pajamas. Not like those newspapers with layers and layers of fact checkers.  You know, the newspapers who were wrong so many times they’re bleeding money faster than they can plug it.  The newspapers no one under fifty really subscribes to anymore.  THOSE newspapers.

And the TV stations… Yes, yes, Dan Rather.  Fake but accurate.  Or something.

And then there’s the universities.  Oh, they’re holding on.  But the competition is coming up fast.  And I think they’re the next industry to truly get overwhelmed by catastrophic change.

Now, before we start dancing around the witch with the farmhouse planted on her snout, let’s be clear: none of these systems are dead yet.  It is a mistake to underestimate the enemy, particularly the wounded enemy.

There are still people — I know some of them — for whom the mainstream media is still the main means of information.  These are smart, thoughtful people, but they believe the weirdest things.  And that same media can do as much damage by ignoring stories as by beating the drum wrongly.  Benghazi, for instance.  It should be a shock and a horror, particularly the way that government officials lied to us and said it was all about a video.  But the media has refused to report on it.

And if you’re looking at that stuff, at the power still left in the mainstream institutions, you might get desperate.  You might think it’s all lost.

Except that the reason you feel that way is… that things are getting better.

Yes, I know that’s paradoxical.  But here’s the thing — cast your mind back to the time before we had internet — there were rumbles that, say, during Clinton’s time, the militias weren’t the big bad problem he painted it as, and there are more holes in the stories of incidents during that administration than there are — to paraphrase Heinlein — bastards in an European royal line.

BUT the point is you couldn’t know.  There wasn’t a web.  There wasn’t reporting first person what was happening.

In those days, the barrage would have held and we STILL WOULD THINK that Benghazi was the result of a bad video on youtube (only there wouldn’t be youtube.)  We would have no idea — as weird as this is — that there was anything wrong with Fast and Furious.  We’d just think that guns were being sold from the US down there.

In fact, you could say the reason their cunning plans keep misfiring is that they still control the media and therefore think they control everything.

Like publishers with the “paper books are coming back” fetish, most of the rest of the gatekeepers everywhere from publishing, to education, to politics are stuck in that place where they control all the means of communication, all the media, all the education and of course all government.  Because politics comes from culture.

They are so focused on the traditional way they don’t see that things have changed.

And so they miss one important thing.  We no longer feel alone.  We’re as disorganized as cats.  We’re as fractured as shattered glass, but we know we’re not alone.  And we know that the facade they have built — probably not as a big conspiracy; probably just because they all want to advance the “progressive” future-that’s-supposed-to-be so badly — is broken.

And that’s enough.  It’s enough for us to start talking about alternate solutions, to start building alternate structures, to network, to create, to keep our jobs even when we speak out.

Look, it only looks like everything is falling apart because the false consensus has been broken.  But at the same time that break is what allows us to build under, to build around, to build over.

One thing we know is that the structures they’ve taken over are no longer in contact with reality at any level.  Yeah, things look scary out there, and I’m not going to lie to you, they are scary, particularly on the international level.

Because the so called consensus was unchecked by dissenting voices, it has spun well away from reality.

But the new tech has given us a means of correcting that.  It might be almost too late.  And unless we have a miracle, there’s going to be the devil to pay for this.

Still, the correction is already in progress.  Their way is passing.  Our way is just starting out.

Funny how believers in dialectical systems didn’t see that coming.

Work.  Create.  Build under, build around, build over.  It’s all going to come apart more before some sort of sense can be made of this mess.  But the sense that’s coming, the ah spirit of the age embodied in its technology is moving away from big organizations and towards the individual.

And the individual?  That we’re fine with.

In the end we win, they lose.

Be not afraid.

418 thoughts on “Shattered

        1. Thanks for the share. That was not written by me; but I remember Ondoy (Ketsana to the rest of the world); remember watching the waters, thinking that morning “Oh it’ll rise a bit higher than the usual mid-waist, and reach our front porch.” When it did reach our front porch and started lapping into the porch, we still didn’t worry much; perhaps it’d come in and wet the floor so we moved things off the floor and onto the table, piled things along the side of the stair. We became alarmed when suddenly the water began to rise quickly. Fortunately there was a lot of us, we had lots of canned goods, and one of the things I’d sent up first were things we could eat out of, drink and water in bottles, along with the cooked food. We spent the morning evacuating books up to the second floor, and we had a lot! I had to swim against a current to free the birds I was raising – cockatiels, African lovebirds, budgies. A number had already drowned. We watched a female lovebird cling to the wall despite the horrible wind and rain; we like to think she survived.
          But we were lucky. There was plenty of food, and if we ate carefully we could’ve been fine for a week or two, but I was afraid if we had to flee up onto the roof, or if that refuge was flooded over or we were swept away. I had two small children, one a baby; my mother was old.

      1. Poke him a few times, I’m sure he’ll revert to script. He just can’t help it.

          1. Check the timestamps on his posts. Notice how his very first post on the thread was a reply to you, rather than to the subject of the post? And how now that he’s got the subject of spiders stuck in his head, he introduces it everywhere, even when it’s completely irrelevant? (E.g., his response to Brad Torgerson at 18:21:33, where spiders hadn’t been mentioned at all until he introduced them?)

            Yeah, definitely an obsessed personality, and one who appears to have your Internet name on Google Alerts. Neither one is 100% proof of Clampsitude, but the circumstantial evidence is piling up.

  1. >There are still people — I know some of them — for whom the mainstream media is still the main means of information.

    I know some of those. And they also have an unshakeable belief that those media are somehow held accountable for accuracy by some government “them.”

    It’s sort of like finding out your neurosurgeon believes that mood swings are caused by a small demon living in your belly. He might be a *great* neurosurgeon… but if those lines in his head are wrong, you can’t trust the rest…

    1. It’s sort of like finding out your neurosurgeon believes that mood swings are caused by a small demon living in your belly. He might be a *great* neurosurgeon… but if those lines in his head are wrong, you can’t trust the rest…

      You know, if you consider gut bacteria to be a small demon living your belly, that may in fact explain some mood swings. 🙂

      1. Illness is caused by small demons, too small to see, but they can be killed or driven off through the profligate use of blessed soap and holy water, which must of course be boiled during the blessing, and by boiling of dressings and instruments.

        Dr. Pournelle had his transplanted Earth mercs use this revelation to rope in the local priesthood to teach sanitation on Tran.

        1. Q. How do you make holy water? A. You boil the hell out of it.

          BTW, no one invaded in the aforementioned story because obviously Reagan was the one who had nuked America’s big cities.

          1. The first time I heard that joke the Spouse and I were in Philadelphia. We were walking to an restaurant in little Italy. We were less than half a block away when a little old lady sitting in a folding lawn chair on the front stoop of a row house leaned over the railing and, with all seriousness, asked us, ‘How do you make holy water?’ She pause a moment for effect, and then finished with obvious great glee. She was still chuckling to herself as we walked on.

    1. Oh, golly, so do I. I try to be an optimist, but it’s darn hard to do it in this world.

      When you have people attacking your beliefs from all sides, you kind of want to just hide out until it is all over.

      1. In truth, I’m watching from afar. I frequently go months without seeing anyone except family. We’re remote enough, I could run around naked all day and only upset the wildlife.

        1. That sounds like heaven to my wife!
          (Not the running around naked, but the thought of being somewhere so remote. But that probably wouldn’t be good for the kids developing social skills.)

          1. Avoids someone teaching them socialist skills, though. I’m unconvinced a room full of children under the thumb of state agents all day, taught to “sit down and shut up” for 7 hours, teaches them any social skills. Or that the unsupervised mob of them teaches any good ones. My G-kids could get more interaction optimally, but were kind of picky.

            It’s pretty well established that home schooled kids have better interpersonal skills. Search on “homeschool socialization.”

            Ya’ll come visit if you want to check it out. Land is cheap here in northern Maine. Dirt poor is the new rich, considering the way things are going.

            1. Thanks for the invitation but it’s too damn cold there! Also it’s also too close to NY and MA.

              1. We are having a spill over problem. The coast is infested.

                Mainer’s have a pretty hard-core idea of mind-ya-binness though, so the push back is pretty firm.

                As of tomorrow Maine is a Constitutional carry state.

                It’s a dry cold. ;o)

  2. Years ago I worked with a middle aged man who was raised in the hills of West Virginia. I mean BACK in the hills. The sort of a small community that rested in a hollow between unfarmable hills. With a dirt track that took over an hour to negotiate with a big truck with lots of ground clearance to reach a paved county road where you could start to drive at a reasonable speed to civilization. They sent their children to town to live with relatives to go to school because the track was impassible in the winter. They made and did for themselves remarkably well. But their views on the outside world were remarkable. I scoffed at something in the newspaper and he said in all seriousness – “By God if it wasn’t true they couldn’t print it!”
    He’d heard that all his life and really believed it. The casual way I replied – “Yeah, the printing presses just seize up and grind to a halt if you try to tell a lie.” – Horrified him. I watched thirty years of belief crumble on his face. Nobody had ever pointed out the obvious to him.
    He still grasped for some stability… “But, somebody would sue them.” He reasoned.
    “Go ahead,” I invited. “There are a thousand lawyers in town who want your business.”
    It’s rough watching somebody become an adult.
    I’d add… Almost every time he said something tremendously stupid it was preceded with – “By God -” That was supposed to end any question of truth as much as owning a printing press.

    1. Well over a century ago, a neighbor had a ghost. It showed up when they returned from the funeral, opened the door, and found her deceased husband’s chair rocking. No one was in the room.

      Soon the rocking chair gained some local notoriety. They’d move out all items except the chair, sprinkle flower around it, close the door, and soon would hear it rocking. They’d open the door, the chair would be rocking, and no tracks would be in the flour.

      A great uncle, convinced that someone was trying to scare the woman, did a little ghost busting with rifle in hand. He stayed in the room, alone, with the rocking chair, as the family and a reporter stayed in an adjacent one. My great uncle dozed off, and when he woke, he could just see enough by the coals on the hearth to tell the chair was rocking.

      Investigating, he found the chair warm and, looking around, what appeared to be a rope hanging down from the pole rafters (the room had no ceiling). He pulled on it, and there was an ungodly scream and the thing started clawing and biting. He flung it to the floor just as the door burst open, and in the light they brought they saw the old man’s cat go racing out.

      That was the ghost. The cat liked to sit in the man’s lap as he rocked, and, after the man died, would get in the chair. When someone came into the room, it would jump straight up to the pole rafters, and, as everyone was looking at the chair, made its exit.

      “I’ll suppose you’ll tell everyone it was a cat,” my great uncle said to the reporter.

      “I’ll do no such thing,” said the reporter.

      “Why? It was all a cat?”

      And the reporter said “Everyone wants to read about a ghost. Nobody wants to read about an old cat.”

      We haven’t put much stock in the news since.

            1. Why the cat didn’t want to be caught in the chair is probably a cat thing. The jump wasn’t difficult. I wrote “rafters” but it was actually pole joists running from the base of the rafters, atop the walls. This would likely have been no more than 8 feet from the floor, and maybe about 6 from the bottom of the chair. That’s not a big leap for a cat.

                1. I don’t want to give ours ideas, since it eyes ceiling fan chains, but it easily clears four feet without straining. One day I fear we’ll hear a noise and it will have tried it.

                  1. I had to look up how high cats can jump. Just because it’s an oft-told family story doesn’t mean stuff doesn’t get garbled or exaggerated. Had never thought about it before, but started wondering.

                    It turns out a cat can jump from five to six times its body length. I don’t have an measure of our cat’s body length, but it’s pretty large, and at 15 to 16 inches should be able to jump 6′ 3″ to 8′.

                    FWIW, I once saw a panicked house cat leap from a floor to the top of a door, and perch there.

        1. It’s one of those “animals grieve too” stories. Not the same genre as the ghost story but I would think equally capable of getting eyes on a newspaper, especially when mixed with a potential ghost story. That reporter sounds not only remarkably dishonest but remarkably stupid about what might interest his readers.

  3. Something something about dinosaurs taking a long time to know that they’re dead, and their titanic death throes.

    We may win, they may lose, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.
    After all, we’ve just witnessed on a small scale how they react to a loss of power. If they react that way to Hugo nominations, how are they going to react to their world falling apart?

    1. One thing to remember about Progs: they are all cowards. The hysterics around the Hugos were so extreme precisely because the stakes were so small. They knew with an absolute certainty that none of us would actually resort to violence over a SF award, so they felt free to fling all kinds of rhetorical poo our way. When rhetorical poo has a real chance of being answered with bullets there is much less poo. See Progressive’s attitude toward islamists.

      1. I think you’re being overly optimistic.
        I would credit a hatred of Western Civilization as the reason Leftists treat Islam with kid gloves.
        Think about it, they have one of the more insular communities of modern times, where transgressing against the taboo-of-the-day is enough to cost them their family, their friends, they’re reputations, and their livelihoods.
        Standing up to that would take more bravery than risking a bullet.
        Not to mention, even worms turn when trod upon. The cornered rat can be deadly.

        1. They treat both Communism and Islam with kid gloves. They hate Western Civilization or love mass-murdering totalitarians. (That’s an inclusive or.)

          1. Watching a recent John Stossel special on censorship I was struck by an idea while watching the segment on Islam, free speech and violence done against those who have drawn the cartoons depicting an image of Mohammed. Told it to The Spouse, noting that it would never be aired. Every time someone like Chris Matthews starts going off on ‘Are you insane…’ of someone who might draw a such a cartoon, one should calmly ask, ‘Why is it insane?’ Then ask, ‘Why should such bullying behavior be tolerated in a free society?’ and ‘Why should anyone who would do such a thing be placated ?’

        2. I think that Yale’s Center for the study of Islamic Law is appeasement on the hoof. There is no center for the study of Jewish, Christian or Buddhist Law.

        3. Uh-uh. It’s shear cowardice. Look at the reaction in California after Proposition 8. Protesters went after the Morons. They did not go after the black churches who were just as vocal. Maybe because you don’t want to cross the sisters. Those purses give a new meaning to the term “Bible belt.”

              1. I didn’t even read that right. I suspect stupid autocorrect. (I did one almost as bad, with sexual connotations, yesterday on FB. Fortunately I caught it before hitting enter.)

                1. Somebody on the Bar typo’d a few weeks back and wrote Mormons instead of Muslims. Given the statements involved…. awkward!

            1. I think “Morons” is a typo. [Wink]

              In any case, I’d rather get a bunch of Mormons mad at me than a bunch of Black Ladies.

          1. A point of personal priviledge: Not everyone knows what all the proposition numbers mean. If you are going to use a proposition number, then please at least give a one sentance description of what it was. (I looked it up, although what I saw did not have a referance to “Morons”.)

              1. I had wondered, but it could have been Morons, although it does not seem to be your style to use ad-hominem.

                  1. That is a story of totalitarians from the middle of last century. Some say that this time they have started with the unborn … and are presently progressing to the dying and ill.

                    1. And given the election patterns the last few rounds, if they went after the morons before they stopped holding elections, they’d be eliminating their voter base and be out of power pretty quickly.

                1. Well, as those who comment here are Huns, the seething cauldron of ne’er-do-wells who comment at Ace of Spades HQ call themselves the Moron Horde, so we could go that ret-conning route . . .

      2. There’s a funny, long term thing happening here- the American Left is refusing to take up the sword. One result of the Marx infused Sixties is that the Left now demonizes the Military, Law Enforcement, and self defense. The long term, historical result of refusing to take a direct, active part in the use of force by those in power is that you will eventually lose power.

        1. Part of their problem is that they see the military & police as agents of the establishment *and* they refuse to see themselves as the establishment.

        2. Should they get their way in things, that attitude will only make the purge of the revolutionaries by the ensuing strongman quicker. The purge never fails, and is never spoken of, much less anticipated, by the believers.

          1. Don’t forget, the rise of the Strongman is part of a longer process:
            -Long established government falls, usually as a result of collapse brought about from a total war.
            -Weak new government rises
            -Potential strongman promises return to power, free unicorns, and the rest

      3. Hmm… I wouldn’t say cowards. I’m sure there’s a certain number who are. They seem most like teenage drama queens with no real sense that erm, reality is real. The other people, particular other people who are very different from them and believe other things, are quite real either.


      1. So is the suggestion that it be made a punishable crime to challenge global warming. Or the whole campus culture thing where we see the (shrinking) free speech zones and trigger warnings.

        1. Yes, yes there are. I believe the proper clinical treatment is KILL IT WITH FIRE. Though some doctors recommend nuking it from orbit. They say it’s the only way to be sure.

            1. Then we should put it on our to do list. The cosmos is a dangerous place. One needs to be prepared. I’d like to have the ability to tell any potential conquerors to buzz off in no uncertain terms.

      2. The whole “Feel the bern” slogan just makes me giggle. There are creams for that, you know?

          1. “I can feel a thing I cannot touch and touch a thing I cannot feel. The first is sad and sorry, the second is your heart.”

            (James Thurber, The 13 Clocks. It makes if not sense, at least intelligible nonsense, in context.)

            1. Thurber proved that you don’t even have to be in the same space and time to tickle someone else’s funny bone.

  4. Because the so called consensus was unchecked by dissenting voices, it has spun well away from reality.

    Interestingly, it wasn’t that the “consensus” promoters were unable to hear the dissenting voices, nor that they were forbidden to listen to them. It was a choice made by those on the Left to ignore the dissenting voices. They committed a fundamentally religious error, the error that promotes dogma in the teeth of stubbornly contrary reality. When the facts contradicted their theory, they discarded the facts and anathematized anyone who dared to speak of them.

    Sir Karl Popper would tell us that that choice — the decision to reject factual evidence that falsifies one’s cherished conviction — transforms one’s conviction into an article of faith. But the Left doesn’t listen to him any more either.

      1. Scientific research will take decades to catch up to where it should have been. Meanwhile the lives lost to things we can fix but aren’t allowed to, like malnutrition or malaria, can never be replaced.

      2. Combine that with the sheer sloppiness, non-ideologically-based fabrications, and poor statistical understanding, and it helps explain why in several fields attempts to replicate past studies and experiments have been trending at under 50% success. Psych and pharma are perhaps the best known examples, but they’re not the only ones.

              1. Wait ’till the weekend – we’re supposed to drop into the 60s. The monarch butterflies are passing through in clouds, which seems to be a pretty good warning.

                1. We don’t use the fireplace until it hits the low ’50s. Fireplace is secondary heating. We have electric heating and A/C.

  5. As I was fetching myself some cold, fizzy caffeine from the dispensomat before my Latin quiz last night, I passed by a classroom from which I heard the professor ranting loudly “…and I won’t let some guy in his pajamas…”. Didn’t hang around to hear what, specifically, he was ranting about, because Latin quiz was more important.

    But, yeah, the pajamas thing is still out there.

    1. Pajamas are certainly out there. Being worn in public, even! Yes, I am turning into an old coot. What is the Latin for “Vacate immediately the grassy expanse of my domicile”?

      1. If you are an old-enough coot, “guy in pajamas” conjures up the image of a guy in black pajamas “Ho Chi Minh” sandals and an AK-47. (Generic description of a Viet Cong for you younger coots.)

        1. I remember that one. Temporal proximity means the one that first came to mind was a glasses-wearing wimp with a large mug of cocoa, though.

        2. I too remember the left’s adulation of guys in black pajamas.
          Terrorist in black pajamas murdering peasants = good.
          Blogger expressing libertarian opinions = evil.

      2. We used to live on the edge of one of the universities in our city, before our house was taken for expansion.

        The Daughter and I would regularly see this one young lady wearing pjs and bunny slippers, carrying a stuffed book bag and a travel mug walking down the street. After a while the novelty of seeing her wore off, but we still often wondered about her. When The Daughter started to attend the university she found out the young lady was in the Classics department.

        1. My Euro undergrad profs would have thrown this “lady” (or her male colleagues in dirty pool shoes and torn T-shirts) out of the classroom with an admonition not to come back except dressed in a more acceptable fashion. In fact, they’d have been lucky not to be arrested for vagrancy 😉

          1. She was a grad student. I had enjoyed imagining what it must have been like on the first day for frosh who had her for a TA.

            1. In Sarah’s Darkship series there was no dress code for the mechanics/engineers. As long as her bunny slippers didn’t get caught in any of the machines I’m sure no one would care. How hard is it to find clothes to wear? Clean clothes is another and more choreful matter. Doing laundry is a pain. However you bathe and eat, so also dress. This student must have been dressed by her mom when she was younger. I’m shocked that she wasn’t reprimanded about it.

            2. When I was a grad student, I knew a couple of fellow grad students who dressed that way as well. There were a couple of times I thought of doing it myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

              In my case, I chalked it up to eccentricities of mathematicians….

              1. Er. MY MATHEMATICIAN when I got him, hadn’t updated his wardrobe since his senior year in high school. In the seventies. he simply hadn’t noticed that he dressed funny compared to other people. Good thing he was adorable.

      3. What is the Latin for “Vacate immediately the grassy expanse of my domicile”?

        How many Romans?

        Probably something along the lines of “ite statim ab campo herbarum meae domus”, but it really works better if you have at least three sentences so that you can apply Ovid’s patented student-annoying poetry blender (Ovid’s answer to “will it blend” regarding Latin? “Ita.”).

        1. The traditional prefix is ‘damned kids’, so it would be plural. Is the gender of ‘human child’ the same as that of ‘young goat’?

      4. The sound of a pump shotgun chambering a (rock salt) round. The Romans would have understood and appreciated it.

      5. I can’t manage the Latin requested above. So I’ll offer the following for your amusement:

        “Macdonaldus senex qui fundum habet
        E I E I O!”


        with apologies to Sandra Boynton

        1. Et in agro testudinem habuit
          E I E I O!
          Cum “nert nert” ubi
          Cum “nert nert” ibi
          Ubi “nert”, ibi “nert”, Ubi, ibi “nert nert”
          Senex Mcadonald testudinem habuit
          E I E I O.

      6. Don’t speak Latin, but a semi-automatic .30-06 pointed at their head tends to get the message across right quick no matter what their language of choice might be.

          1. Well, first they discovered that a shorter cartridge would feed better in semi-autos, which gave birth to the 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester. The original military loads were more or less identical to the military .30-06 loads, so it worked out okay.

            Then in the 60s the military got this crazy idea that “shooting to wound” was better than “shooting to kill” as it would take 2 or 3 guys to drag a wounded guy off the battlefield and thus take them out of the fight too, or some such nonesense. And that’s how we would up with the 5.56x45mm NATO/.223 Remington.

            But all that aside, this is what my initial comment was referencing:

            1. [And that’s how we would up with the 5.56x45mm NATO/.223 Remington.] And some REMF refused to issue cleaning kits to the troops in the field. And the soldiers and Marines were trained with M14s and given M16s briefly at the end of training (Full Metal Jacket accurate on that point). And said REMFs knew the AR15 system needed clean burning propellant, so they ordered the filthiest burning ammo available. And when the military had to order clean burning ammo, said ammo mysteriously turned out to have pressure far, far beyond that required (Forgotten Weapons blog has an interview with someone who dealt with this at the time.) There was so much that looks like blatant sabotage in that program. The Australians, New Zealanders and British SAS adopted the M16, trained the squaddies with it, issued cleaning kits, and bought high quality clean burning ammo, and they had no complaints. Ditto the Navy SEALs, who didn’t even order M16s, but rather bought full auto AR15s on the commercial market, that didn’t even have chrome barrels or forward assist, and had no problems.

              1. There was also a few documented instances where the military ordered mil-spec ammo which used a certain process to treat the brass for field conditions and got civilian ammo which hadn’t been.

          2. Smaller rounds mean infantry can hump more of them; alternatively the infantry can carry more toys.

            1. Didn’t it also have something to do with expecting infantry engagements to mostly occur at closer range, so that semi-auto firing small rounds would be more useful than single-shot firing larger rounds at long distances?

              1. It came out of a study of hit percentages from WWII and Korea. It turns out that most rounds fired by infantry are essentially unaimed, used to keep the other guy’s head down. Thus, the more rounds you could fit onto the rifle, the better. That’s why the M-1 with the 8 round clip was replaced with the M-14 and the 20 round magazine, which was in turn replaced by the M-16 and it’s 30 round magazine.

                1. Actually, as I understand, this goes back even further, to the experiences of both Wehrmacht and Red Army soldiers with submachine guns vs. rifles in close-quarters urban combat. The first attempt to combine the advantages of both, the German StG 44 (Sturmgewehr 44 — actually “assault rifle” is a literal translation of “Sturmgewehr”) came too late in the war and was too finicky to make much of a difference (thank G-d), but one Mikhail Kalashnikov ruggedized and adapted the design (to get something that even the typical Red Army recruit could handle) — leading to the (in)famous AK-47.

                  1. The two are related. Fully automatic assault rifles are much better at putting out covering fire, but that means they burn through ammunition at a horrific rate. The smaller rounds mean that more of them can be carried, which makes fully automatic weapons more feasible. That’s why the AK-74 went with a 5.54mm round. On the other hand, having a large number of rounds on hand tends to encourage “spray and pray” which is why later M-16 variants replaced full automatic with bursts.

          3. Powder improved.
            The .308 is pretty equivalent to the old .30-06. But in a smaller cartridge.

            Of course, the same improvement can let you really heat up a .30-06. Some of those competition handloads are something else. But they burn out barrels pretty quick. The military doesn’t approve of that.

            1. Not to mention the increased recoil; it’s hard enough to train recruits not to flinch as is.

            1. My daughter wants a shotgun for her Christmas/birthday present. We shopped for one recently, and the second-most important criteria (after considering cost and solid feel of the weapon itself) was that it had to make an absolutely intimidating sound upon being racked back.
              Buy my books, people — so that I can afford to buy my daughter her Best Christmas/Birthday Present Evah!

              1. Any decent gunsmith should be able to adjust the stock for “length of pull.” For most people it’s not as important as it is for the trapshooters, but a shotgun that properly fits (“mounts”, in trapgun-speak) is a-verra-nahss.

                And if she wants a recoil pad… I’m a big guy, but I have tender shoulders any more, and I’ve been fitting Sorbothane pads to my shooters lately.

              2. Sounds like you’re looking for a pump. What gauge?

                BTW, I’m not a big fan of loading the magazine and then operating the action to chamber a shell. You end up with one less in the shotguh, unless you slip one into the magazine right then.

                  1. Browning SA 22, if you can find one, is pretty good, too. Learned on my grandfathers, oh, some *mumble* years ago.

                    Really, any good manufacturer and .22 calibre rifle is a good way to go. Move up to .223 when you get money. Have a decent pump for home defense. A good handgun to get you to your shotgun/rifle. Oh, and some good training is never amiss…

                    Actually, as a hobby, shooting tends to eat money and time like chocolate cake at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Pretty fun, though. *grin*

      7. 1. Build a fence.
        2. Post the original Latin of ‘Friends come through the gate, enemies come over the walls.’
        3. When your blood twin and milk brother jumps the fence, cut off his head.

        1. I do not. Latin codes the grammar with the spelling of words. My understanding is that Google translate will at most give you the correct word, but not the correct form.

          The only one of those that seems to be the correct word is ‘mea’, meaning ‘my’ or ‘mine’.

          inferno = hell
          tondere = a form of a verb meaning cut
          adepto= a form of a verb meaning to gain, get or inherit

          off is the original English, untranslated. I haven’t the sense to explain the grammar part, even if I remembered.

  6. On e-books. . . .

    Once upon a time, at the dawn of the Christian era, someone invented the codex. Pagans didn’t like it. Christians did. On the order of, you dig up a library, and 90+% of the Christian works are codices, and 90+% of the pagan works are still scrolls.

    I have heard historians say it helped with the triumph of Christianity, which is certainly no more absurb that the vast disparity.

    1. I read an article just last week from something claiming to be the International Business times, crowing that the Kindle/ereader was a flop. The reasoning in the article went along the lines of “There’s this one retailer (some store in the UK, apparently), and they aren’t selling kindles anymore because people don’t buy a new kindle like they buy new smartphones/whatever every year (cue me looking at my smartphone, which is 3 years old, and my ipad, which is going on 4 years and going ‘???’), therefore the ereader is a flop and print is making a comeback!”

      Logic. They failed utterly at it. Seriously, ONE retailer? In a relatively small geographical market location? And they didn’t even touch on actual ebook sales–it was just about the device itself and how it’s an utter failure because…people don’t buy a new one every year? (Because…people totally buy a new version of a book they’ve read every year, right?)

      Well, I came away with one thing at least: I won’t be taking any kind of business advice from the ‘International Business Times’, that’s for certain…

      Here’s a link to the article in all its stupidity:

      1. I know that now with streaming it’s different, but that’s like saying that video sales/rentals are done as sales of players had reached market saturation, while ignoring sales & rentals of the disks (or tapes, earlier). Wow.

      2. Add to that that, if so, Amazon is probably very happy as their profit likely comes from the books and videos, not from the Kindle.

          1. I suspect that Amazon doesn’t care that I haven’t purchased a Kindle because I’ve purchased plenty of Kindle eBooks. [Smile]

            Note, have to get back to reading the latest David Weber book that I purchased from the Kindle store. [Wink]

            1. What worries me is that this article writer–who supposedly knows a Thing or Two about business–seems to somehow fail to realize that basic principle…

            2. Better than sold: the brilliant man gave the razors to the troops in the war, donated them by the thousands. By the time they came home, they were used to using his product, and most of them still had the razor.

      3. That’s because Amazon doesn’t have to use planned obsolescence to make their money — they’re making the money off the sales of the e-books, not the readers.

        If my current Kindle lasts a hundred years and I never need to buy a new one, Amazon will still make far more money off me every year than Apple does from periodic iPhone replacements.

        1. I will confess that I sipped tentatively at the “Amazon is evil” kool-aid, before the Nook’s planned obsolescence pissed me off so badly that I switched over regardless. Then I discovered KU and it was allllllll good.

        2. ^ This, so much. I have spent *way* more money in the last five years on ebooks than I had on print books in probably the preceding two decades. Because suddenly, they were a.) affordable, by and large, and b.) I could actually find things I liked.

          And yeah, Apple must hate me. I don’t do the ‘planned obsolescence’ thing. I’ll make that iPad last for a *decade* or more, if I can. (And I think I can, if I pay attention to when they declare they will no longer ‘support’ my version, and stop updating it at that point…)

          1. I Love Amazon! They sell everything! (that’s legal) I had my wedding registry there. They are a godsend to those of us who don’t drive. You get your stuff direct to your door with better efficiency than the Post Awful. You can access vendors that aren’t available to average consumer. You save a bunch of money if you buy your plastic cutlery by the 1000. Their Amazon Prime is the best thing! Their free shipping has encouraged Walmart to start a similar program.

            I live in a big city(over a 2500,000 people) and near to one of the largest cities in the country, so I can only imagine how useful Amazon must be to someone who lives in a rural area.

  7. I actually thought anthologies about the coming Ice Age or about how we needed to disarm had no ulterior motives.

    Not all stories about an Ice Age descending are horrid progressive pablum. See Fallen Angels by Niven, Pournelle, and Flynn for a counter-example – and a fun take on fandom. I think its even better fan-centric tale than Bimbos of the Death Sun or Night of the Living Trekkies.

    1. Sadly, the one plot element of Fallen Angels that doesn’t seem eerily prescient is their depiction of fandom defying the PC police and intrusive government. Turns out there are a lot of fans who are perfectly happy to put on armbands and jackboots.

      1. That could merely be because the government and its organs haven’t been responsible for any large-scale, organized anti-fan oppression yet. But even the Progressive “Trufen” will likely be seen as sufficiently deviant that a truly oppressive regime would be cracking down on them, too.

      2. Nahhh, just word-swap “Sad Puppies” for “fans” in any given scene and it still works just fine. Because can you see any of the SP’s putting on the armbands and jackboots?

  8. The center isn’t suppose to hold if you’re doing a double envelopment, but that’s probably not applicable (from military history class).

  9. Funny how believers in dialectical systems didn’t see that coming.

    One of the best things I’ve read in a while and yet also one of the most frigthening observations.

  10. Yes, yes, Dan Rather. Fake but accurate. Or something.

    With the help of Hollywood’s dream factory, this is being resurrected and revised. And this time out they aren’t even admitting it was fake.

    Instead they are now insisting that no one proved it to be a fake, and that the story was the work of the vast right wing conspiracy who created a personal smear campaign to destroy truth and justice. (But you won’t see them add ‘the American way’ anymore because that is appealing to the idea of national exceptionalism.)

    I’ll grant you the part about a smear campaign, but on whose part they will not agree.

    Anyway, I suspect that the movie is not going to prove a box office smash. They won’t understand why the public isn’t buying it either.

    1. Ah, yes – the media/entertainment complex attempting to rewrite history through a well-financed movie that will have all the establishment critics moistening their under drawers in ecstasy … while regular movie goers avoid in droves.

      1. It’s the sort of thing that even the choir won’t attend. So who do they imagine is the audience?

    2. Instead they are now insisting that no one proved it to be a fake …

      See my 11:26 AM comment below, which I intended to be a reply to yours but clicked in the wrong “Reply” box.

    3. Soon to be cratering in empty theaters across the US.

      You know, I wonder if stuff like this is following the line of those star-studded adventure flicks in the past few years that depend on huge mainland China box office to make up for the fat that few American moviegoers really want to watch Sly Stallone for two hours anymore: While many in the US could have enough passing knowledge from the event to recall that Dan Rather and Mary Mapes were just partisan hacks who got caught running a election-year slander campaign based on a pure and unadulterated forgery, moviegoers in China would likely not, so with the big star names this revisionist movie might do just fine over there.

    4. I’m certain many others here remember what I am about to relate.

      Way back then, I was lurking on Baen’s Bar. The Bar has a sub-forum called politics, where we could fight it out, so long as we weren’t buttheads about it. I’d stopped watching CBS by then, so I first heard about it there, when all the typewriter nerds were geeking out over typewriters.

      The gist of it was that typewriters inherently have a limited selection of fonts, the documents showed clear signs of certain types of fonts, and these fonts were fairly rare in typewriters on the market. I think one of them mentioned a really high end typewriter as a possibility, but not one likely to be found in a NG office.

      There was also a lot of stuff about spacing and formatting, what is easy or automatic for a word processor, and hard or pointless on a typewriter. I think I first heard about kerning in that conversation. (I’d forgotten all about that concept until looking it up again just now.)

      Then the veterans piled on. The language wasn’t terribly consistent with the way one would expect such things to be written. There was comparison with some of the stuff that had come out regarding Kerry’s service record. Apparently some of Kerry’s stuff was, with faint praise, utterly damning to service eyes, and mostly unnoticeable to laymen.

  11. Oh yeah, Hollywood? You say no one proved it to be a fake? I got your proof right here:

    Look at that GIF, then tell me to my face that the documents haven’t been proven to be fake. And yes, Hollywood, I know you’re going to tell me that to my face anyway, because you’re just that brazen in your lying ways. But when you do, I’m going to laugh in your face, and call everyone I know. “Hey everyone, come look at this idiot who still thinks it hasn’t been proven to be fake! I mean, look at this GIF that this idiot thinks isn’t proof! Whadda maroon!”

    1. Not to mention there are plenty of us old enough to remember what typewritten things looked like and that’s not it. I’m computerizing my Mom’s recipe box (and thanks to what I’ve learned here will turn it into a Kindle book) and was reminded again that typewritten has a definite signature which that document does not have. Just looking at it I can tell it was printed.

      1. Oh yeah. I (mis)spent my youth repairing typewriters. And even on Selectrics there are subtle differences in the spacing, etc, because of alignment problems or wear. And in 73… My guess is that they would have been using the typebar kind of typewriter which is much worse. That’s clearly not typewritten.

        1. Manual(non-electric) typewriters are members of the typewriter family. My father’s Hebrew typewriter had keys that had to be pounded. It took me 6 months to learn to type gently.

            1. Old Remington #5 I think it was. Beastly heavy black thing, long stroke. Had to pound the living crap out of it to get a solid strike. I still have some old typewriter ribbon & white-out strips in the workshop somewhere, I think… Why no, I’m not a packrat! *grin*

        2. I’m so old that I owned a 1971 electric typewriter(high school graduation gift)- and believe me, the typeface was nothing like that on the document that Rather tried to pass on.

          Oh, how I hated what the MSM tried to do to get Kerry elected. Especially because his three purple hearts were given for basically getting a skinned knee, and then the pussy had to go home.

          My father-in-law had 7 Purple Hearts – Korea and Vietnam, and never, ever thought of using them as a reason to get out of the military.

          He despised Kerry. We all despised Kerry.

      2. I’m not quite old enough to have been in administration during the time in the TANG involved, but I do know very well what documents kept in official Air Force files looked like a decade or so later. There was this little notation in the upper right-hand corner for all official documents kept and filed; the file number (yes, the military is absolutely anal-retentive about official file plans) of the file folder that the doc goes into, the date and the initials of the clerk filing it, I suspect that since military administrative protocols change not nor altereth ever, that the TANG likely used the same formula.
        And the represented documents did not have that little formula. So, yes … I was always pretty certain that the famous 60 Minutes TANG memo was a fraud, even without the famous throbbing GIF.

        1. As I recall, Rather’s letters were on 8.5″x11″ standard bond paper, and the AF I was in then used 8×10.5″. I presume the TANG used what the rest of the AF did.

      3. I remember using Dad’s typewriter; he had two and I remember he bought them in East Berlin. They’re what I learned to type on and my fingers would always slip between the gaps of the keys. The backs of my fingers were scraped and bloody while learning to hit the keys hard enough to make an imprint.

        I learned to hate the multiple key jam when you typed too fast too.

        Dad had a rhythm when he would type and it was one of the ways I could tell he’d come home; because then he’d be working on something at our dining room table.

      4. I’m so used to looking at print that my eyes passed right over it; then I read your comment and my eyes latch on the superscripted “th.” No way; yeah, we learned to do superscripts on typewriters for our term papers, but the type size didn’t change. No way somebody had one fancy enough to change type sizes (maybe they existed in 1973), but in an Air National Guard unit in 1973–ain’t no way. They could have at least used American Typewriter font or something.

    1. Just self-righteous and conscienceless. The man told a slanderous lie, got caught, got humiliated, got fired, got trounced in court. There’s no reason to recant now; they can’t do anything more to him and someone like Robert Redford might keep him in Ripple money if he sticks to his story.

    2. Long ago (early-mid 80s) I caught part of a TV program; Dan Rather interviewing various celebrities about violence on TV. Things were going swimmingly as he managed to get the sound bites he wanted, until he got to Gene Simmons of KISS.

      That was during one of KISS’ down times, and Simmons looked really bad; aging, bloated, scraggly, sitting there listening to Blather go on. And then it was Simmons’ turn, and he sat up in his chair, got his shit together, and laid out an object lesson on the difference between posturing in front of a camera and being one of the gods of rock and roll.

      Ol’ Gene whumped Blather pretty good, asking why he had to sit through murder, arson, and rape just to find out what the weather was going to be next week, and that if there were any performers promoting violence, they were the ones doing the TV news.

      That clip is surely on YouTube somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find it.

  12. Our Esteemed Hostess, I regret to say that you are an optomist. My belief is that we lose horribly, they are utterly destroyed and then we “stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools”. If we are unlucky, it will be our kids that this happens to.

      1. Indeed. We forget that the wheels seemed to be coming off very quickly back in the ’70s. Racial strife, radical revolutionaries, Watergate, Vietnam, the Population Bomb, nuclear war. And yet we came through that.

            1. Looming Ice Ages my come with Looming Ice… glaciers on the move can be pretty darn intimidating. I mean I’m not as tough as a mountain and look what those bally glaciers did to the MOUNTAINS. 😉

              1. If you go by the accounts of what happened to some hamlets and villages in the Alps in the 1700s, “March of the Glaciers” would be a disaster flick, not a cute nature film.

                  1. An alpine/nordic version of Mowgli’s “letting in the jungle”? That’s still my favorite story from the Jungle Books. Gives me chills. (No pun intended, and only a little achieved)

                1. I now have a mental image of glaciers advancing and madly cavorting to ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King.’ I am not sure what to do with this image.

        1. I remember the ’70s. Wage and price controls. Whip Inflation Now ! Patterns for window quilts. Interminable lines at gas pumps. Jimmy Cater giving us a fireside chat about putting on sweaters, accepting that our best days were behind us and admonitions to always turn off the lights when you leave a room. Disco. Polyester leisure suits. Great times.

              1. The first I can recall is the seemingly endless Watergate hearings – on all three networks. And then Pres. Nixon resigning.. and my father recording the historic event on reel to reel audiotape. Not symbolism, it was simply what was available.

            1. The two earliest I remember were Operation Frequent Wind, and Carter triumphantly returning from giving away the Panama Canal.

                  1. I have told it before.

                    I was a precocious child who came from a politically active family. At five I held a one child march for African American Civil Rights through my neighborhood. When Momma passed I found the sign I had made for that march among her belongings. (I was peeved with my parents for not going down south to join the Freedom Ride or the voter registrations drives. I didn’t understand that they had other responsibilities, like work and me.)

                    Single incident? I was vaguely aware of the beginnings of the cold war in Europe, but not the specifics. Then the speech that President Kennedy gave informing the nation in late October of 1962 interrupted something I was watching on TV. So, as a result, my first specifically dateable political memory is Cuban Missile Crisis.

                  2. Same here, though the Exxon-Valdez oil spill stands out more vividly in my memory.

                    Neither of them hold a candle to Operation Desert Storm, which terrified me as a child.

                    1. I recently re-read Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett. blink, blink, blink. Oh, yes, that was set at the same time as Operation Desert Storm.

                  1. 1968? That year was strange. The USS Pueblo was seized by the North Koreans. Then the Tet Offensive started, the U.S. Embassy in Saigon was attacked, and then came the news of the My Lai massacre. Howard University is shut down by students protesting the ROTC. President Johnson decides not to seek re-election. MLK is assassinated. Colombia University is shut down after student protesters seize the administration building. In Cantonsville, Ohio the draft office is attacked and selective service records napalmed. RFK is assassinated. In Cleveland black militants shoot it out with the police. There were riots in Chicago at the DNC convention.

                  2. Sigh … mine was the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was all the talk of us who walked to grade school together. We discussed it solemnly among ourselves, and agreed that we ought to walk in small groups to school, since if the commies wanted to kill us all, likely they wouldn’t waste bombs or ammunition on tiny groups of children.

            2. Unfortunately, mine is the assassination of JFK. First non-violent political event was the televised 1964 party conventions. Only remember they were on. First clear national election memory was 1968.

                1. Though what really struck me was the next day, I was reading the paper which mentioned that 99% of the East Berliners who went through the wall had, when they decided to go to bed, had trudged back to East Berlin. They had beds there and knew they could always return.

              1. The Daughter and I were staying in a hotel on the edge of the Norfolk navel base that day. We had gotten in late and were planning to sleep in a bit. We were woken by the steady drone of planes taking off one after another. When we looked we saw one of those spy planes with the mushroom array on it’s back right at our eye level on its climb into the sky. Altogether a strange day.

          1. Not to mention mortgage interest rates that were above 15%. The 70s and half of the 80s were tough for a lot of people, and even though Reagan was elected, it took years to recover from Nixon, Ford and Carter.

            Don’t ever forget that it was a Republican who instituted wage and price controls! You can’t trust either party.

            1. Republicans were different then. I keep trying to tell people “they’re not rinos, so much as they’re holdovers from the time when socialism was scientific and inevitable.”

                  1. Less bomb threats being called into schools nowadays, which is a good thing since law enforcement don’t allow themselves to think “I know this is some kid getting out of a test.” I know a guy who made explosives (nitrogen tri-iodine) in his dorm room and I don’t think he got written up for it. (OK, that was the ’80s. Hint: If it’s damp, it’s safe; dry–very sensitive.)

                    Oh, streaking; that persisted into the ’80s, somewhat.

                    1. For us it was someone pulling the fire alarm when there was a test. Our town was small enough at the time that the cops knew the voices of all the trouble makers.

                    2. I read that streaking came to a sudden end once TV programs started cutting away from the streaker immediately.

                      One cannot help to think there might be a parallel to current school shootings.

                    3. If we’re going to talk about infringing upon rights to solve mass shootings, I prefer abrogating the First Amendment over the Second. Both are morally repugnant, but curtailing free speech might actually work.

                  2. Things were crazier and political divisions were very different. Both dems and repubs had liberal and conservative wings. JFK would be a republican and Nelson Rockefeller would be a democrat.

              1. No, the people who are rejecting the idea that socialism is scientific and inevitable are the true RINOs. We believe in nearly none of the party’s actions (and therefore what it truly stands for campaign platforms not withstanding) but support it anyway…out of habit (we’ve always done so), out of fear (vote Republican or $DEMOCRAT), or out of hope (we can one day replace those holdovers).

                However, until I see the GOP actually reduce government, like they failed to do when having all the elective branches, I will consider the Boenhers the real Republicans and the conservative and libertarians the RINOs.

                1. We are in the midst of transforming the GOP. Remember that the first Progressive President was a Republican (Teddy Roosevelt). Hoover was also pretty Progressive, FDR’s first campaign was focused on Hoover’s irresponsible spending. After FDR the GOP decided that Progressivism was the wave of the future, they were just focused on protecting the rich from the demagogues. Until Goldwater. That was the wing of the party Bush Senior belonged to, he was picked to unify the Progressive wing with Reagan’s conservative wing. But since Reagan the Prog wing has been dominant, with limited electoral success. Now the Tea Party is pushing the Prog wing out of power, actually winning elections, and that’s discomfiting to people who have known how politics works. There are now enough conservatives in the House to not only force Boehner out, but to complicate replacing him. The conservatives have had enough of Prog wing “leadership” and the Progs are afraid that conservatives might actually do something, which would demonstrate how useless Prog Republicans are.

                  1. On the other hand, Harding was no Progressive, and Coolidge was virulently opposed to Leftism in any form. And old T. R. was so incensed upon finding out that Taft was not a Progressive that he ginned up the Bull Moose Party to kick him out of the White House – and so put Wilson in.

                    Progressives vs. Sane People was a battle fought within both parties back in those days. Unfortunately, the Sanes lost both halves of the double-header.

                    1. Mostly due to the cult of FDR. If someone with an understanding of economics had managed to get on the radio and explain how all of the New Deal programs were actually making things worse the middle of the 20th century would have looked a lot different.

                    1. Yes, that’s why we’re in the process of changing the GOP. We are by no means done yet. It took decades to push the GOP into the progressive nightmare that gave us Nixon, it’s going to take more than 3 election cycles to reverse the process. The thing the “governing wing” desires above anything else is for people like you and I to go home. They know that the monstrosities the Dems will throw up (yes, that’s intended) will force us back into supporting the GOP as they see it.

                      Read it, weep, and then vote the dumbass out.

                  2. I’m not disagreeing but I think a huge part of the problem is we’ve considered the Progs as the outsiders and us as the insiders. The reality is the GOP is much more a Prog party in terms of actual policy implemented (at least at the Federal level but a lot of states as well) than a conservative, libertarian, or classical liberal one.

                    Failure to accept that we are, in fact, the insurgents and thus engaging in voting default GOP instead of primarying every Prog every round and demanding actual results for voting for the Progs has given the Progs cover way too long.

                    1. I have no illusions about my position vis a vis the GOP, but you need to vote for the most conservative (viable, no third party) candidate on the ballot, both primary and general. Yes that means sometimes voting for a Prog, but a GOP Prog is preferable to a Democrat Prog. A GOP Speaker has to listen to the conservative wing (ask Boehner), while Pelosi is just going to laugh at the Freedom Caucus. We are going to have Progressive Republicans with us for a couple of generations, at least until we can thoroughly discredit Progressivism, and that means we will have to throw them a sop from time to time – welcome to politics – but if we keep at it, we will eventually be dealing with them from a position of power, rather than gumming up their march toward socialism.

          2. Not to mention the wallpaper. I’ve seen TV shows and movies from that era. *shudder*

            1. I became quite the expert at applying wallpaper. It was easier to get the landlord let me change the wallpaper than to get her to agree to let me paint.

                1. I like wallpaper, but not necessarily wallpaper of the 1970. Examples I recall from the time:

                  A brilliant reflective silver covered with huge shiny swirls of bright orange, yellow and white.

                  A similarly shiny back ground, but burgundy, with an embossed flocked design that brought to mind of an imagined Victorian brothel.

                  One that had as a background texture and color what appeared to be dried-out yellow mustard.

                  In honor of the Bi-Centenial, an enormous plaid in red and blue on white with a slick finish.

                  1. “I like wallpaper, but not necessarily wallpaper of the 1970. Examples I recall from the time:
                    A brilliant reflective silver covered with huge shiny swirls of bright orange, yellow and white.” — make it tones of bright blue and green, and that was my childhood (from 7 to 18) bedroom wallpaper. Yes….

                  2. We got our current Victorian (1890) cheaper because some idiot had covered three of the main rooms with “grass wallpaper”. So ugly. It does not age well. Removed it from one room, have half removed it from the other, and the last… sigh. Covered with books. Will probably have to remove it when we move.

                    1. Yeah, we had that in our library in our Manitou Springs victorian. Didn’t dare remove it (you have NO idea. I mean, that house!)
                      So we applied lincrusta over it.

              1. That orange color was referred to as Tangerine. If your place was decorated during this period your carpets were old gold, tangerine or avocado. And, of course, they were deep shag carpets.

                The first apartment The Spouse and I had after we married had avocado carpet. Our cat Clytemnestra (called Clyde) would bring crickets in to teach her two kittens (Imp and Puddleglum) to hunt.

                1. The cat would bring crickets in to teach the kittens to hunt? That’s deep shag. My mom finally replaced her gold, moderate shag with something low and lavenderish around ten years or so ago.

                    1. I almost, aaalllllmost “stole” one that someone had removed as part of a renovation and had set out on the curb (or kerb). All the parts seemed to be in working order, it had no hard water stains, and the design and color weren’t too bad. Alas, the lid of the tank had been dropped and a corner broken off, and they had not included the missing chunk. If the tank lid had been intact, I’d have lugged that porcelain prize home and used it to replace the chronically-clogged lo-flow abomination then lurking in the lavatory.

      2. It’s not the dissent that scares me, it is the fact that they won’t go quietly and that once the rest of us see them as the existential threat/treasonous scum that they are and/or just stop paying the 49% to leave us alone, there will be blood in the streets. Too much of it fratricidal damage to our own.

        1. Scott, it won’t be easy, but in the end we win. You’re missing an important point — they are so demmed INCOMPETENT. Also, they’re mostly elderly and kiddies. Remember the anti-war protests ten years ago? What was the oxygen tank rate per capita.

          1. They are very competent at one thing: killing (have been since that trouble in France about 220 years ago)…that we will probably have to beat them at that some point in the future is bothersome.

            1. No, the current crop is competent at getting other people to kill for them. Not realizing those other people WILL turn on them. Most of them are unarmed and don’t see the problem of them being unarmed and hiring dangerous people to keep (theoretically) dangerous people away from them. If they hire the WRONG dangerous people (and inevitably they will) they won’t be able to save themselves.

          2. I remember asking some teens with anti-Iraq War shirts why they never protested anything Saddam dead. Dumb looks and dead silence.

      3. And then there were the good old bad old days of the teens and twenties when anarchists were throwing bombs and Pres. Wilson had his four-minute men and tame informers….

        La plus ca change…

  13. I was just browsing and see that SciPhi Journal is in financial trouble. I’ve read some issues and enjoyed them, so if you’re a fan you might want to swing by and donate or subscribe. One of the things that I find discouraging about the state of SFF today, is that so many of the short story publishing venues are incredibly tilted toward the left these days, so it would be nice to keep some other option alive.

    My critique group seems to be drifting every further in the leftist direction. Sigh. The big problem seems to be the themes of the stories. And I’m starting to wonder if I just should stop bringing the stories that are important to me, because I’m not sure I trust them to give critiques that are lined up with the audience I’d like to appeal to. I believe in a moral system, for example. A lot of the left doesn’t. I’ve often been the only person pointing out that a character is a liar and a thief, for example. People look at me blankly, not understanding the problem. To my taste, it’s okay to have liars and thieves for characters, but they should at least be *aware* that there’s a moral dimension to their choices, if not actively changing to be better. Or they can even have a personal moral system that emphasizes honor in some other way. But no. Not necessary, apparently.

    That sort of thing makes me worry more about the state of the culture than some of the other big events I see. If people no longer see lying and thievery as a problem, *I* think we’re in trouble.

    1. There’s this thing where characters are supposed to be flawed, so they play up the flaws for drama.

      Of course, if you try to make a character perfect, you may end up with E*****S T******A.

    2. “That sort of thing makes me worry more about the state of the culture than some of the other big events I see. If people no longer see lying and thievery as a problem, *I* think we’re in trouble.”

      This!!! Popular entertainment is full of them. I can’t watch it.
      The heroes are all bank robbers, sneak thieves and rogue cops, not to mention the serial killers and monster love interests.
      I don’t get it. What exactly is the plan there? No behavior is prohibited by any code, moral or legal, until all are? Or is it just a reflection of the morals of TPTB and not really intentional.

      Maybe I expect too much in looking for sense to it. Maybe it’s just destroy, destroy.

        1. Destruction is fun. And large numbers of people will have to recant much of our lives if it’s not edgy and cool.

        2. I think that is a big part of it. I attended a nationally known workshop and I think most of the other participants found my writing insufficiently edgy. They think that morality and struggling with moral decisions is boring and uncool. Too parent-like or something. They want to be “transgressive”. Snort. They imagine that they are being different and creative and I find their themes cookie cutter and predictable. One workshopper brought an urban fantasy in which the parents and the superhero were a stroke by stroke metaphor for how whites are guilty of causing terrorism by…bad parenting or something.

            1. Yep…although my current superhero fix has three unread books left for me. And I never thought I’d like superhero prose fiction.

          1. The next real literary “rebels” in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “Oh how banal.” To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows.

            ― David Foster Wallace

      1. An acquaintance, who has taken up watching Gotham, was bemoaning the foreknowledge of Edward Nygma’s destiny. He was sweet, if awkward, and only meant well. He was so poorly treated by others. Why did he have to be turned into a villain?

        This made me think. I can understand vengeance as a motivation. Most of us have desired seeing someone who has hurt us, or someone we love, get their karmic comeuppance. Still, much of pop culture seems to have gone beyond understanding and sympathy for a painful past to excusing acting out because of it.

      2. The heroes are all bank robbers, sneak thieves and rogue cops, not to mention the serial killers and monster love interests.

        Actually, they aren’t even heroes usually. They are main characters or protagonists but not heroes.

        There are shows that feature such characters are heroes (“A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life:”) and I’ll freely admit I watch them. Of the three shows I’ve recently watched or have been watching on Netflix two center on heroic sneak thieves and bank robbers: Burn Notice and Leverage.

        However, in each at least some of the characters are less than enchanted with some of their choices and options. Nate, in Leverage having spent most of his life trying to catch thieves only briefly accepts he is one of the good guys leading the band of noble thieves. By season four he is pointing out having to focus on the bad in people to con them, even in the interests of the right thing, is corrosive to the soul.

        The third show, Criminal Minds is about (mostly) non-rouge cops trying to understand evil to fight it. Again, the show puts a great deal of emphasis on how being that close to evil and trying to understand it is corrosive to the soul (and in real life Mandy Patinkin left the show because the subject matter was disturbing him too much).

        Thinking about the first two, however, I don’t think they fit what you’re talking about. They seem more a modern cut of Robin Hood with the “thieves fighting for good” and an ultimate respect for legitimate authority (both emphasize not killing the bad guys but scaring them straight and often insuring the police are able at arrest and try them).

        What I cannot understand is the appeal of shows such as Breaking Bad or Dexter which are about reprehensible people doing reprehensible things with, at most, the briefest of nods to a moral framework. It frightens me not that Nate Ford leading a team of grifters and thieves has moderate success on TV but that Walter whatshisname not only have a more financially successful run but is held up as a model of what good TV should be.

        1. Note up front: I have not watched Breaking Bad, nor do I plan to. However, I read a very compelling essay during the show’s run on what the author viewed as the show’s serious moral component. The protagonist does bad things, and those things have consequences. He even pointed out that the character’s descent into evil was triggered by his rejecting help out of pride, and how he had key decision points where he could have chosen differently and prevented the suffering and evil that followed. Like I said, I don’t intend to watch it – I’ve no taste for tragedy, and I see it in plenty around me – but I do admire the daring of showing that choices have consequences, and that men are free to choose. And when did that become daring? *sad bemusement*

          1. I watched some early episodes and they had an attraction similar to Macbeth, the downfall of a man due to a fatal flaw. However, the Scottish play shows us the story in about two hours not five years.

            I actually work at a simpler level: watching a TV regularly (or binge watching on Netflix) is inviting the characters into your home an hour a week for an extended period.

            Charming con artists who are doing so to steal back from con artists doing it out of greed are people who might make me watch my wallet (they might feel the need to stay in practice) but aren’t people who revolt me and can be entertaining (YMMV).

            People driven by their basest selves to behave in the basest way possible aren’t very entertaining and often make me retch.

          2. This. Breaking Bad is intensely moral precisely because it shows the consequences of immoral decisions. The whole show is one giant train wreck with Walter White at the center of it, and EVERYTHING he cares about is destroyed as a result of his own bad decisions. Even, in the end, everything he gains from becoming a drug lord.

            Besides, no matter your opinion of the show, you have to admit that Brian Cranston’s reading of Ozymandias is the best one, bar none:

              1. Wasn’t it obvious from the beginning that bad deeds lead to bad ends no matter the motivation? If you do something good for the wrong reason it’s still a good deed.

                Why in the world would you need a 5 season TV show to teach this?

                1. Because…

                  …watching Walt take out the nazis with the oscillating machine gun in the trunk of his car was soooooo worth it.

              2. Hey Free-range Oyster, can you get in touch with me? I haven’t seen Toad for a week, and I expect he’s going to be in and out for a while, given his current circumstances. My email is joseph [dot] vasicek [at] gmail [dot] com.

          1. JAG always seemed like “Tailhook: the Series” to me.

            NCIS is okay and I’ve watched plenty here and there but it didn’t grab me. Now that I tend to watch TV via Netflex it isn’t interesting enough to get a grab.

            I’ve tried the first episode of White Collar which was intentionally built to cash in on the Burn Notice audience. I suspect it will be the next show in the queue once we’re done with Leverage.

      3. Leverage is an interesting take on that theme. The heroes are ex-bad-guys doing good in bad ways. It should all be on Netflix by now.

        1. Having watched the whole thing, my advice is to stop after Season 4. The finale there has the story come full circle (ish) and Season 5 was, well, bad.

          Not sure what happened, but the villains went from mobsters and conmen, to Walmart. Full SJW treatment, and I have no idea why.

          1. Walmart: The source of half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great country.

          2. That description reminds me a bit of the evolution of Law & Order (and all the various Law & Order: Insert Subtitle Here variants). The first few seasons had the heroes going after actual villains; eventually they all reached the point of, “How do we blame this on the Republican?”

            1. My husband and I watch a fair bit of the modern mystery shows like, oh, what was the one with the pseudo-psychic… The Mentalist. Castle. That sort of thing,

              And there’s this game you play called “spot the guilty party” which you can do by the half-way point by identifying:
              +++guilty points for: white, male, Christian, corporate. Republican
              +++red herring points for female, gay, black, prog activist

              But you have to watch for subtle clues that they’ve found a “new” villain point (gamers, tea-partiers, say) or a new “hasta be innocent” point like, oh… some new social or physical handicap.

              Good fun…

              1. The Oyster Wife and I watched Castle for a while, and I remember it being less obvious than most. Oh some of the big ones I saw coming a mile away of course. Terrorists? Going to be a rogue military frame job. But better than most. Some of it was surprisingly good given Hollyweird’s proclivities; the scene with Beckett, Esposito, and the sniper rifle is a great example. It’s a decent scene, nothing super amazing, but the fact that a major studio actually scripted and aired that shocked me. We stopped watching after the *SPOILERS* romantic tension was resolved *SPOILERS* because it seemed to lose most of its energy and appeal without that. I’ve heard it recovered, but I’ve had too many other things to do to bother experimenting.

          3. I just finished Season 4.

            It wasn’t always conmen and mobsters up to this point. There was plenty of “corporations are evil” and season 4 seemed to have a lot of “finance types are evil”. That’s just the zeitgeist today.

            As for the full SJW that seems to be a TV pattern: do interesting programming that builds an audience and then throw it away with a final, ratings killing, season of propaganda. Ellen is a classic example but it goes all the way back to the last couple of seasons of Quincey: ME and probably earlier. Glee had more SJW up front and still suicided that way.

            1. At least in S1-4 the villains were actually, well, *villainous*. They were exceptions to the rule (and acknowledged as such by Nate). The S5 ones were seen as “they’re evil, which is the normal practice of corps”. The writing was also far, far weaker.

    3. Yes, but characters who are liars and thieves are so much more complex and layered than those who are trying to do the right thing. 😛

      1. Hehe. How did you guess? Though I think there may be a few Bernie fans too. Actually there’s one person who’s Christian and I don’t know what her politics are, but it’s possible that she’d vote for a Republican. The rest of them would be appalled. Just two days ago New Hampshire came up in discussion and a couple of people started saying what a horrid place it was, to my great surprise. Turns out that it’s because it’s insufficiently liberal 🙂

        1. New England is more politically heterodox than many realize. For hundreds of years, those states have often been a source for radical movements, unconventional politicians, creators of new parties, mavericks in existing parties, and a variety of independently-minded sorts. Its not all like Boston and eastern CT.

    4. Or you can have fun yanking their chain. My story about a dinosaur paleontologist dropping by a honky-tonk got a very rapid rejection from a magazine that usually takes months.

  14. The vast majority of US universities as they operate now are not sustainable enterprises: somewhere between puppy mills and Ponzi schemes.

    There will always be room for “super league” institutions like an MIT or a Caltech, including with tenure and the works. In the “merely” first-tier institutions, things will change. In the second tier, change will be brutal.

    You cannot go on forever charging the price of two luxury cars annually for a glorified high school in a country club setting, then spend the money hiring more unproductive bureaucratic drones that will find ways to dilute the actual educational content even further. At some point, the house of cards collapses. Technological innovation is merely accelerating the process.

    1. Yup. When a college’s big thing is talking about the climbing walls, gyms, and other entertainments instead of the rigor of the curriculum, well, Mene, Mene . . .

      1. The few quarters when I was actually a full time student at the university (while working a full time job), I had free access to the wonderful university’s recreation center and its awesome climbing wall, swimming pool, etc. Of course, I was too busy to actually use it then. When I was only part-time, I had enough time, but didn’t want to spend $100 per month for access.

      2. That’s the hook for the mental lightweights. I was surprised when we had to go on a “tour” of a college. The tourguide was very good and diplomatic. When one of the prospective asked why freshmen were required to live on campus, he gave this double-talk about the “college experience.” And my wife and I, and, it turns out, ours, picked up that it was because many of the first year students go nuts.

        As it turns out, a nephew going to college on the GI bill is less than impressed with some of his fellow students, and ours has stories about utter stupidity. The upshot is that some people would be better off not going to college in the first place, and the colleges would, too.

    2. I was amused by the occupyBernie’s latest hactivist nonsense about taking money from the hated rich for the purpose of free education.
      Like we don’t have enough unemployable grads manning the Starbucks counters as it is!

      1. It’s not about getting people educated, it’s about keeping reliable Progressives employed.

      2. Well, how long before robot welders are joined by robot truck drivers? You gotta do something to make a living even if it’s teach history. (Hat tip to my one Military Science instructor who said he was starving trying that.)

  15. The best argument againt E Books, or keeping every book on Kindle, is, let me quote the last page of a novel I have on my desk and haven’t shelved in the store yet, “!!!!Any BOOK Accepted as Cash!!!!

    1. The last time I tried to get rid of books at a used bookstore, they didn’t pay cash for them but only gave “trade credits”.

      IE They got my books for free if they didn’t have any used books that I wanted.

      Of course, it was so much easier to move my collection of eBooks to my new apartment than it would have been to move 300 or so dead tree books. [Evil Grin]

    2. If one assumes that at least some e-book readers and/or tablets would be functioning, Hugh Farnham would likely accept any non-DRM e-book as cash. In fact, he might put a premium on non-DRM e-books, as he could distribute them more easily to his various customers.

      1. Lead-free solder, used almost everywhere now, means that it’s unlikely consumer electronic devices will still function after a couple of decades.

  16. Pingback: An Optimistic Take
        1. “For the shield and the sword and the pipes of Pan
          Are birthrights sold to a usurer.
          But I am the last lone highwayman
          And I am the last adventurer.”
          Leslie Charteris _The Saint and the Last Hero_

    1. Isn’t the belief that the other side has their act together, know what they are doing kind, and able to overcome differences towards a common goal kind of optimistic in a strange, twisted way?

  17. So what I see you saying is that the gummint/media/academia complex is pretty certain they have things under control, but we know better and expect the little kid declaring The Emperor is naked, yo! and the slight puff from the butterfly’s wing to knock out the fragile key prop holding them up.

    Well, clearly the Left is getting anxious and ruffled and concerned, and as we say, the lefties are them what hate and so don’t have guns like WE have, so let’s ruffle them some more, make odd comments to keep them off-balance, etc. and so on.

  18. Some years ago — okay, four decades — I read a Moorcock novel set in a far-future Europe that had collapsed to something like a Medieval level of culture (maybe it was a Melnibone novel?). The quasi-feudel society was led by an aristocracy that was insane. Not eccentric, insane. The aristocrats wore masks to conceal their madness, or because of their madness.
    I think that the best way to handle the would-be American aristocrats of the Left is to treat them as though they are mad. Avoid them, if you can. Hide your thoughts from them, always. It is impossible to have so little that they will not covet it or seek to destroy it.
    Were are talking about people who believe you should be publicly shamed, ostracized, fired from your job, and perhaps imprisoned if you say that a man wearing a dress is still a man.

    1. The History of the Runestaff, well, technically that’s the four Hawkmoon books together ( The Jewel In The Skull, The Mad God’s Amulet, The Sword Of The Dawn, and The Runestaff). I haven’t read any of his stuff in quite a while, I think I’ll go look those up again, thank you.

      1. Is all of his stuff tragic and/or morally grey goo? I read all the Elric books in my teens and early twenties and I loved his writing style, but I can’t get into the content of that series any more.

Comments are closed.