The Cold Slap of Reality

Caligula, while Emperor, commemorated a whole lot of “victories” which he decided he had achieved because cheese and also radioactive penguins.  Or rather because he knew the Roman people were a war-like and proud people and needed victories and triumphs.

The most notorious of these were victories overNeptune which consisted of having the mighty Roman legions collect sea shells.  BUT there were also “victories” over the Germans and Britain.

One wonders what exactly was going on through Roman minds at the time.  Perhaps younger Romans were all enthused and the older people were going “what the actual flan?”

BUT we’re not here to discuss reincarnation ;), we’re here to discuss what you’re told, even with the mighty apparatus of state propaganda and a castrati press behind it, and what you see with your lying eyes.

Recently in a private group, someone from abroad asked about American economy and if it really is improving as all the papers abroad report.  The answers surprised even me.

I mean, I know from my limited sphere that even those who are doing well have made sacrifices and — at a guess — have come down about two levels in lifestyle since 2008.  But it was a gradual step, so I didn’t expect most people to have noticed.  And when the trade offs are things like “no vacation” it’s not a serious step down.  I mean, most of the people we know are better off than us, so looking at their lifestyles I see the difference, but I didn’t even know if they did.

Of course my friends in artistic professions and feeding what can be called the discretionary spending part of the economy have noticed.  I have.  Though weirdly the big difference is that income goes even more in bursts.  Judging by self this is because people TRY to be good, but then really need something to read on a really crappy day, and end up reading/buying an entire series they’ve been putting off in three days, flat.  Other than that, our income might have gone up.  As a dear friend keeps telling me, recessions/depressions are good for writers’ income.  People need to be able to escape, even if to their imagination.

What I find fascinating though, is that these people, from varying income levels and all over the country (with a smattering of abroad) saw it, as I did.  The dingying of every day life, the precariousness of economic “security”.  The friends who lose jobs and then find a succession of them, none of which lasts.  The sky-rocketing energy (particularly in a city fed by a coal plant.)  The compromises: we won’t go out this month, we’ll celebrate all birthdays with a dinner in the middle month.  That sort of thing.

Everyone sees it, everyone is uneasy.  This despite the playing with numbers, the endless propaganda shoved down our throats.

And I should have figured it out, too, because even the press has stopped shouting “Summer of recovery.”  And I’ve heard total strangers laugh about the unemployment, GDP or inflation numbers in super market lines.  And it is that sort of horse laugh people only do when they know it’s totally ridiculous and everyone agrees with them.

I’m starting to believe the only people fooled are the administration, the president, and those who work for them.  After all no one tells Caligula that stealing a few seashells is not a victory.  Would you doubt the existence of mighty Neptune, you heathen?  Or the might of the Emperor?

And thus they spin ever further from reality and bring us ridiculousness like the idea that a climate conference is a “strong rebuke” to head choppers.

But it’s not working.  I mean, they’re keeping the lid somewhat on.  Most of the people on the street probably don’t know how disastrous our foreign policy REALLY is, or how it’s done nothing but set up the chess board for world war three.  But even they have that feeling on the back of the neck, the prickling that says something wicked this way comes.

Because here’s the thing: no matter how much you curate the narrative.  No matter how much you proclaim and twist and make it all make sense in this parallel world where “progressive” (they’re actually only progressive for the 1930s.  Since then they’ve all been shown wrong.  “Regressive” would make more sense) theory works, reality doesn’t care.  The gods of the copybook headings aren’t moved by pretty words.  And most of the seriously indoctrinated people in our society only learn to spin words and create “narrative.”  And not in an honest way, like novelists.

Yesterday younger son, who has been on a tear against the Berniacs in his age group, said “I despair for my age group; we’ve been so indoctrinated” and I laughed and told him so was mine.  It usually lasts till your early thirties and then it implodes unless you’re a case of arrested development, still living with mommy and daddy.

And he said “How does it implode?”  And I said “Reality.  The cold fish of reality slaps you across the face, and you realize what works, what doesn’t, and how ruinous these nice-sounding policies are.”

That in the end is it.  The triumph is amusing, and hey, gathering seashells never hurt anyone.

But in the end, the sea is still there and will still rage.  In the end, the real enemies, domestic and foreign, are still there, too, ready to spring.

An administration whose primary function is to dispense Soma is ultimately an enemy within, lulling us until the trap springs shut.  But the thing is at this point they’re the ones taking the soma.  Heck, they’re bogarting the soma.

The rest of us are wide awake.

Which is why in the end we win, they lose.

The question is, do they maintain the shell of narrative long enough so the explosion will be truly spectacular and that the gods of the copybook headings return in fire and blood?  Or do they lose enough grip that it goes down not with a bang but with a whimper.

I know which one I prefer.  Build under, build over, build around, so when their rotten structure collapses we’re ready.

But the choice is not only ours.

Stay awake.


418 thoughts on “The Cold Slap of Reality

  1. One comment I made just today — “College administrators have a great scam going on. They keep raising their prices, but not increasing the value of their product accordingly.” And yet, everyone* still seems to be buying their product.

    So, I have a question for the Huns and Hoydens. What would you recommend to a young person who has understood how overvalued college is right now, yet truly does need a college education for his/her chosen career? (As opposed to those who only “need” a degree to put on their résumé because HR departments are lazy.)

    I won’t need that information for decades, but at some point I’ll probably have kids, who will someday be teens about to finish high school. So I’d like to be prepared.

    * … well, almost everyone. But the first cracks have JUST begun to show in the wall. It’s too early yet to see what the cracks are spelling, but I can already tell you what it’s going to be: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.”

    1. That which cannot go on forever, won’t.

      That said, I have this droll mental image now of Hillary passing a new tax on the right of married men to sleep with their wives. Apparently Caligula would have been too nuts even by 0bama/Shillary standards (if perhaps just barely).

    2. I’d like to say that in a few decades time, the current higher education system will have collapsed, and something affordable will have taken its place. However, we can’t count on that. So: take the first two years of coursework at a community college, where prices haven’t got quite so out of hand. Also, take tests for college credit. Those two strategies can go far.

      1. Just remembered this: There’s a thing now called Work Ready. Work Ready is a certification program where participants are given a test and certified based on their results. The purpose of the test is to determine whether they have the basic skills necessary for joining the workforce. The test isn’t hard; anyone with a 5th Grade education should be able to pass it.

        A couple of interesting things about this:

        1. That the test exists at all. Not all that long ago, a high school diploma was considered certification that the holder was work ready. That employers want their own certification system says much.

        2. That anyone with a 5th Grade education should be able to pass it. Over a century ago in the US, it wasn’t unusual for someone to go to work after elementary school. They often had to drop out to help support the family.

        With Work Ready, there’s a legitimate question of the value of a High School Diploma. But some places aren’t Work Ready and still look to the diploma, and you can forget about going to college unless you have a high school diploma in hand. But when a college degree no longer becomes evidence that a potential employee can to the work, how long until there’s another version of Work Ready that addresses entry level ability in other jobs?

        When that happens, what will be the use of an Ivy League diploma? The important thing will be to know the information.

        1. The use of the Ivy League diploma will be what it has been: a key to a network of contacts those without it don’t have.

        2. > it wasn’t unusual for someone to go
          > to work after elementary school.

          And why not? I made it to the third grade, then every year after that was spent going over the third grade again with minor variations. That was across multiple school systems in several states.

          As for a high school diploma… about the only way you can *not* get a diploma is by absenteeism; I didn’t bother to go back to class the day after I was old enough that the truant officers wouldn’t find me and drag me back. And in all the decades since, NOBODY has ever asked about a diploma, because it’s just an attendance certificate and not having one is so rare it’s not worth checking for.

        3. When Laura Ingalls dropped out of school to marry, her teacher was surprised; he would have graduated her if he had known, because she was ready, he had just been waiting for the end of the school year and a whole bunchy of them.

          That is, graduated from eighth grade.

          1. It’s been a few years since I read the books, but I thought she taught for a while before she got married. And got her teacher’s license at 16 rather than 18 (or possibly 14 rather than 16).

            1. That, too. Taught school before she graduated at 8th grade.

              And she was in fact certified before she turned 16. She observed to her parents after the fact that the man who gave the test hadn’t asked.

            2. You are correct; Laura taught school in _These Happy Golden Years_, and there was some irregularity about her certificate. If I recall correctly, her examiner apologetically took off a number of points, explaining that he couldn’t give her a second-class certificate on her first examination.

              (Checks) She was offered a job as a schoolteacher at the end of _Little Town on the Prairie_ after doing very well at a school exhibition, conditional on obtaining a certificate. She was a couple months short of the minimum age (16), and informed her employer so, but he pointed out there was no need to tell anyone unless asked, and she wasn’t asked by the examiner. She started work at the beginning of _These Happy Golden Years._ And yes, I found the section (also in _These Happy Golden Years_) where her schoolteacher apologized for not graduating her in the spring when she was ready because he wanted to graduate the whole class together and not everyone was ready. But it was high school.

        4. More than one employer I interviewed with issued a skill test at the interview, to make sure I really could do the job I was applying for, despite the degree on my wall. That was the direct result of having hired people from expensive schools who managed to get out without actually learning anything.

    3. If they are going after anything other than a STEM degree all I can say is “bless their hearts,” and I mean that in the truest Southern sense.
      Even STEM is padded with half or better liberal arts courses designed to keep professors in those disciplines off the dole.
      My advice, rack up as many of those filler credits as possible in an inexpensive community college, just make sure the credits will transfer to the institution where you finish your STEM degree. Get a BS in your discipline of choice and get a job. Let your employer pay for any graduate training or degree you decide you need. And that decision comes much easier after a few years out in the field.
      One more thing, treat school like a full time job. I managed to finish a dual major in Industrial and Systems Engineering in 2.5 years when most were taking five by maxing my credits and never taking the summer off. I did bring better part of a year’s community college credits to the table so it’s not quite as impressive as it sounds though.
      Down the road I fully expect the current US university system to crash and burn, and the destruction will come from within that system itself as it struggles to kill off the inevitable rise of on-line computerized degree programs that ultimately will spell its demise. Should have already happened, but I’m guessing another five to ten years before it really gets nasty.

      1. And don’t go Ivy League even for STEM. Be careful about borrowing money. PErhaps do not go to school if you cannot get a scholarship.

          1. Actually, my best friend’s son got a scholarship to Norfolk State University (a Historically Black College) because he is white. In fact, he is known all across campus as ‘White Mike’. Isn’t Michael the second most common men’s name, after Mohammed?

          2. Even National Merit and SMART?

            I am very possibly overly conservative when it comes to spending one’s own or borrowed money on such things.

            1. Even National Merit and SMART.

              That is unless you find a position such as Donald Campbell relates.

              The Daughter had been sought out by the second university in town — a formally black school with very strong STEM programs. Unfortunately they lacked the bio-chem major she desired.

            2. National Merit, I know, favors the melenin heavy. When I looked at the requirements. My brother had to score 2 points higher on the ACT than I did. I don’t remember if the next group down was equal with me or below by 2 points. But the numbers in the columns went down by 2s to a minumum of 26. (It’s been a while, it might have been 24.) White Male 32 on the ACT in 1997. White Woman, 30 on the ACT in 1997. For the same supposedly MERIT based scholarship. I asked why, and actually got an honest answer: The federal government says we have to do it this way.

              1. I don’t remember if ‘Black’ was the second line or third line. The chart was arranged in Male/Female columns. Hispanic was the bottom line I remember, but don’t remember enough from nearly 20 years ago to remember if it was THE bottom line.

            3. The National Merit Scholarship Competition itself is (as of very recently anyway) merit driven. It’s all based on PSAT and SAT scores (ACT doesn’t count), though to make Finalist the school also has to submit additional paperwork on courses taken, extracurriculars, etc. Tons of Asian kids and homeschooled kids make the list every year. However, they themselves don’t give out much in terms of scholarships. Most of that comes from the colleges themselves, who may (or may not) take other factors into account. Several universities give full tuition scholarships to the first so-many NMS Finalists to apply and be admitted. Some also give scholarships to cover room & board.

              The same organization also has separate scholarship programs for Hispanic and black students, which (obviously) require said student to be appropriately melanin-endowed.

              1. I won one of them back in 1979; Was told my parents made too much money to actually get cash.

              2. Actually, when I was a finalist in ’98 the two tests that mattered were the PSAT/NMSQT and the ACT. SAT wasn’t even looked at for that one. It may have changed, but that’s what it was for me. Other scholarships looked at the SAT but not that one.

          3. ROTC. Service academies. Webb Institute of Naval Architecture. And that’s all I can think of off the top of my head available to white males. Possibly all of them that are.

          4. Two of our three, the sisters, were unable to qualify for any useful scholarships, in part due to not being an acceptable color. (There might have been a double whammy, as they’re Irish-Chinese.) Both finished with BA degrees, and no student debt at all. Both are working full-time in fields unrelated to their degrees.

            Their brother, after blowing off college as not so useful for him after one quarter at a community college, just went to work. He currently runs computing services for a growing tech company in Sillicon Valley.

            The kids can be all right; it’s just a lot of hard work.

      2. In my state’s colleges and universities, they are mostly just not hiring humanities people (except adjuncts), and not replacing tenured positions (except in STEM).

        At the community college where my friend teaches, all the academic subjects except math and science are in the process of being folded into a college along with the law enforcement degrees. So there’s going to be the School of STEM: the School of Nursing and Health Professions; and the School of Liberal Arts, Business, and Public Service.

    4. First step is to get as many credits as possible through AP, Community College and CLEP* tests. Only take the minimum number of college courses from actual college, and check carefully to be sure the courses are offered in consistent timely manner (e.g., not getting caught needing a course offered only every third year.)

      Maximize college benefit by selecting colleges/departments which have demonstrated record of excelling at student placement and/or offer superb internship placement. Certes, some colleges offer “old boy networking” benefits, but those tend to be schools with high attendance costs.

      Keep in mind that there likely are significant impending changes in collegiate structure, and that all plans such as these are subject to expiration dates.

      *’College Level Examination Program – CLEP: A plan that enables students to earn college credit for introductory-level courses by achieving satisfactory scores on subject-specific tests.

      1. First step is to get as many credits as possible through AP, Community College and CLEP* tests.

        Be careful about CLEPs. Some graduate programs do not want to accept them/ They want students to have not only the knowledge of the material, but the experience of taking a class in the subject as well

          1. North Carolina presently treats it as all part of an integrated system of higher learning system, requiring that the state universities accept the credits from the community colleges.

              1. The University of Arizona used to partner with Pima Community College, not sure if that’s true anymore as my 200 level Abnormal Psych course from Pima didn’t apply to my Psych minor at UofA (where Ab Psych is a 300 level course).

                Not sure if it ever applied to ASU and the valley community colleges.

              2. The same in some other states. That said, I know of one that ran into accreditation problems with a particular course of study, and students were scrambling to transfer. Another, a private college, risked losing all accreditation. According to some who worked there, there were some significant issues.

              3. The best thing you can do in that case is to check whether the community college has an “articulation agreement” with your target four-year institution. This document would specify which CC courses are considered equivalent to another course at the four-year. Transferring those credits is a piece of cake, because there’s already a framework in place.

                In fact, my local CC has an even stronger articulation agreement with some other local schools. Pass [course of study] with [this GPA or better] at the CC, and you are automatically admitted to [other school] in [their equivalent program] as a junior.

              4. In CT community college courses are all accepted by the state’s 4 year colleges, and I think most even by the state university. At least for accounting, a quite common progression is to get the AS at the community level ($2K a semester), then the BS at the colleges (around $5K a semester), and then do the MS at UConn, Post, or elsewhere while also taking the CPA exams.

                Two of our community colleges have “middle colleges” which are the last two years of high school with most of the classes taken out in the college so that the kids get dual credit and usually graduate high school with at least 20 or 30 college credits, free to parents. One girl at our local middle college got her high school diploma and her AS degree at the same time. My younger child is going there, 11th grade, and will be getting at least 9 credits next semester.

          2. CU, here in Colorado, is even worse. About 30 years ago, I was thinking of getting an MS. At that time (and perhaps still), CU Boulder only offered the requisite courses during the day, because we all know that anyone gainfully employed will be able to take all the time off they need for courses.

            CU Denver offered night classes in those courses. However, one of my coworkers was a professor at CU Boulder, who told me that I would not be awarded a Master’s degree unless I took the courses at the Boulder campus, because I’d have to defend my thesis at Boulder, and the professors were very territorial.

            1. Fie, fie upon anybody suggesting professors are very territorial! It is just that CU Denver was obviously not up to the standards and criteria required … such standards and criteria entailing a fundamental knowledge of how to properly buss to CU Boulder butts.

      2. Note on CLEP, make sure to only take those tests that are objectively scored. I signed up, paid, and took two CLEP tests and scored in the high 90s on the multiple choice portion. My university added essay portions for both on which I got a bright red F with no explanation. And who graded the essays you might wonder? Why, the departments that desperately needed folks like me to actually register for their courses so they wouldn’t have to let professors go.
        Always figured being unable to claim those credits cost me an extra three months in school. The job I took when I graduated started at $20k a year. When the alumni association calls looking for a donation I always tell them that I think $100 is only fair, and as soon as the $5k the school cost me has been earned back I’ll start donating. Sadly, I sometimes have to do the math for them so they can figure out their first donation comes fifty years after I graduated.

      3. When I went to college, I paid $68 to take the CLEP tests and tested out of the required first year classes. I was a First Time in College student taking second year classes. Then I got pregnant with my daughter and dropped out of the next year as I didn’t have the energy to work full-time, parent, and go to school part time.

    5. What would you recommend to a young person who has understood how overvalued college is right now, yet truly does need a college education for his/her chosen career?

      Save money ahead of time and avoid going into debt for an undergraduate degree.

      If attending a state school do not assume that a four year degree can be obtained in any given four year period. (One of the two universities in town announced with great fanfare that they were now offering several degree programs that could be obtained in only four years.)

      Do careful research before choosing a school of higher learning, there are some excellent schools with high standards of academics that have good graduation records.

      1. Do careful research before choosing a school of higher learning, there are some excellent schools with high standards of academics that have good graduation records.

        Note of the issue of transfer from smaller colleges to larger ones. It might indicate problems or it might mean they went to the smaller college first to get their core before transferring and concentrating on a major.

        Another wrinkle is that some colleges excel in different programs, and not necessarily those that bill themselves as primarily a certain type of college. Sometimes this is passed along by word-of-mouth of those in specific professions.

        1. Yes, William and Mary had an outstanding Physics department because they were given the nearby synchrocyclotron NASA had used as SREL (Space Radiation Effects Laboratory). It eventually morphed into the current Jefferson Labs managed by a consortium of Southern Universities and DOE. They also cheated by having ‘visiting professors’ that actually worked at Langley Research Center, a NASA center in nearby Hampton.

          1. I used to work at Jlab. That was some morph. But second William and Mary, especially as you could intern at Jlab. It’s a great bunch of people working there.

      2. As you said that you have several years to -plan for this, look at possibly moving to states where the State college / univ are well-regarded in the chosen field so that you are paying in-state rates, and may have access to dual-credit HS / Coll classes. ( and perhaps do some _quality_ predictive / interest analysis testing for the child(ren) ahead of time too )

        Another possible way in (at least in Indiana) is to work for IU of the associated IU Health system hospitals, even if in a service / janitorial position, as this can qualify the workers’ kids for free / reduced cost tuition in the IU system.

        Otherwise get out your crystal ball and try to predict what kind of weed-out system your child’s potential employers might use to avoid hiring “special snowflakes” and plan how to beat that.

    6. Robin, I just wrote a long post and then took it out again. For now, I refer you to a pretty good post by Michael Konrad over on the American Thinker site today. Where college level education is now, and where it might be headed.

      For later, I will eventually get this blog of mine set up and explore it further from the POV of a parent with college age children today. (Made the note in my “post seeds” folder just this morning.)

      But realize that whatever anyone thinks today, it is going to change enormously in two decades, and in ways we cannot imagine.

    7. By the time the need becomes relevant, the game is going to be completely different. At least in STEM and especially engineering. MIT, for instance had put their entire course load online, and there are other course out there. If you pay a fee you can get certification for some of those courses and MIT has a fast track to masters in transportation because they can’t get enough grad students to fill the need.

    8. STEM! STEM! STEM! And get as many credits from lower cost sources as possible. And even if some do not transfer, go full-goose-bozo for mathematics. EVERYTHING depends on mathematics and a sound base there will serve anything. Or at least anything worth a damn. If the major is “undeclared” it is wrong. Make it mathematics – it can be changed to science or engineering easily from there. BUT, if possible, learn mathematics from a scientist or engineer, not a mathematician. You (they) want to know learn how to *USE* the tool, not worship it.

      1. Weirdly both kids carry their father’s love of math at a gene level, apparently. Older son was in bio major but took math and chem for FUN. (Ended up with a bs in chem just because he loved it so much, while taking his major in biology.) He’d go into calc III classes and “it’s all engineers and me.” 😛
        He’d like time to play with number theory. This has to be genetic, as I carried on the bulk of the education and I can’t TEACH math, not even what I know (up through calc I) because Portuguese systems of notation were so different when I learned them.

      2. When I attended in the 70’s. The Math department offered a course ‘applied mathematics’ every other year. They didn’t like to offer the course, but the Physics department threatened to teach the course if they refused to.

      3. On the STEM note (STEM, STEM, STEM, STEM! STEMETY STEM!! STEMITY STEM!!!) (Quiet you lot!! Bloody Vikings.) do not be tempted to add a Humanities “Honors Program” to your already huge plle of non STEM work – I almost did this, averring at the last possible moment, and so from the outside I watched the massive piles of additional writing assignments basically drown classmates who had signed on.

        Nobody in the work world will ever care one whit that you did an honors humanity thingee alongside your STEM degree – all that extra work is worth precisely nothing. There’s already gobs and gobs of non-STEM requirements you will have to satisfy – treat it all as the fluffy nonsense that can crash your GPA, nothing more.

        OK, if it floats your boat, go for it, but know that you are signing up for extra work that is solely for your own enjoyment no matter what the “couselors” say.

        Oh, that raises one more: At least in STEM jobs, in my experience no one in the commercial world will ever ask for your GPA. The only place anyone asked for mine was the military, I understand government jobs like the State Department do too, and of course grad school does, but in my career here in SIlicon Valley mine never once mattered. Do the best you can, but don’t stress about your GPA.

        1. At least in STEM jobs, in my experience no one in the commercial world will ever ask for your GPA.

          I’ve seen it done, but usually only for an intern or for the first job after you graduate. It may become more important now that many businesses won’t do more than verify your dates of employment because of liability issues.

      4. Math was always a problem for me. I never quite got over the resentment of it, from when teachers would assign mass loads of it as punishment.

        Later as we got into algebra I got in trouble for asking for examples of what factoring polynomials was good for. I wound up expelled from school over that. (“being a wiseass” + “not showing up for detention”)

        Several decades later I was chatting about this with a co-worker who was a mathematician. He said, “you expected it to be useful. Math isn’t about useful. What you were expecting was Operations Research.” Which turned out to be the wholly non-obvious name for “math that’s useful for something.”

    9. Simple. If you need college for a given career track, go to college. If not, look into tech school. Except these days they call colleges universities, and tech schools colleges. Maybe that’s for the snobs that look down at blue collars. Whatever.

      The point is if you’re going to college, don’t waste time in college. Period. If you have time to party hardy, or protest, or anything else that’s not actually study, then what are you doing there except wasting time and money?

      It’s interesting that there’s a lot of push back now against some study tracks. My eldest has noticed that all the arts students get the same question: “And what will you do with that degree?”

    10. STEM is so valuable not because it has increased in value, but because every other college program has lost value. The others have been heavily ruined by low rigor and socialist donkeyshit. Folks educated in STEM are less willing to accept students so corrupted as being legitimately educated. STEM programs have at least mostly retained their rigor.

      The value of STEM is limited by individual ability and by restrictions on economic freedom. When the economy is restrained, those of marginal ability, especially in the soft skills which STEM doesn’t train, will have a harder time making or finding work.

      The current STEM fad comes from how badly the humanities have lost in terms of ROI. Folks pushing it in media and university bureaucracy think they can push any student through it and get good results.

    11. Trade school, if they have any inclination toward such a skill at all. Or better yet, apprenticeship followed by continuing education.

      Plumbers and mechanics have yet to be successfully outsourced.

      1. I know a few years back we were supposed to have a shortage of welders and machinists.

          1. When they announced the closing of our workplace, the welders were the only ones not in the least concerned. Of the ones staying to the end, I heard one plan to use the bonus (3 month’s pay over 4 months time) as a bit of paid vacation and look for work after taking the family somewhere.

            Back during the Katrina/Rita migration, a radio station had a welder call in and say if he found work, he’d be staying in Texas, and within minutes the station got 6 offers for jobs for him.

        1. We do have a shortage. Also of boiler operators/stationary engineers. But because they don’t require degrees, human resources departments, staffed with people who’ve, by golly darn it, have worked hard for their degrees, loathe paying skilled tradesmen decent, wages, especially if it’s more then they make. Because a degree isn’t required…

          I earned more per hour, part time, at a big box store then companies pay skilled machinists in our area. And they wonder why there’s a shortage.

          I’ve had lots of overtime over the last few years because of how hard it is to fill boiler operator positions with qualified people.

          1. how do people learn to do those jobs? Something they were trained in the service? Certificate at a Comm. college? OJT?

            1. Yes to all of the above. All boiler plants used to have power plant helpers- apprentices to learn the job who were tasked with all the dirty jobs. Now, almost no plant has apprentices. Everyone wants someone else to do the training, so they can poach the them once trained. Partially because most plants are natural gas, and run cleaner and more reliably then solid fuel and #6 oil, lessening the need for the helpers.

              Where unionized, unions control the training and qualifications for a lot of these jobs. NYS doesn’t license electricians, but to become a lineman or a high voltage electrician, the really high paying electrician jobs, you’re pretty much going to have to join the IBEW and go through their training program. There are some independent contractors, but they’re few and far between.

              1. It has been a while since I read on any of this, but as I recollect, it used to be that joining the IBEW essentially required a relative who is a member of the IBEW.

                Now, things change, and maybe I am commingling memories of Heinlein Juveniles, so that may be not presently the case.

            2. The Apprentice School is a 4-year vocational institute created and operated by Newport News Shipbuilding. Apparently, it is the best way for them to have a steady supply of people that can put what naval architects draw into a working reality.

          2. > I earned more per hour, part time, at a big
            > box store then companies pay skilled
            > machinists in our area.

            Same here. And I could go home clean.

            Some years ago I was looking through the want ads and noticed that newbie secretarial jobs were paying more than offers for an electrical engineer with ten years’ experience.

            Something is *wrong* in the job market…

          1. As in the layers of bricks, not the modern social club that used to be associated with some layers of bricks but hasn’t been for a while.

            1. There’s also a shortage of Masons, modern social club or ancient fraternal order or secret masters of the world, whichever description you prefer. But then, there’s a shortage of members for all of the social organizations that bind people together. But causes of that and effects of that are a whole other category of discussion.

      2. No. 2 Son wants to be a blacksmith; so he found himself someone to apprentice to as a Sophmore in high school. He’s planning on avoiding college like the plague, and I have no problem with that.

      3. So very true. Had electrical work done last year, and the electrician was commenting on how his company was struggling to fill the open positions.

    12. As much as I hate to say this, because I’m not fond of the things, look into Edx and the MOOCs, the free or less-expensive on-line courses from MIT and some other serious schools. Then look at non-Ivy, academically serious colleges, public and private.

      In addition to STEM, look at accounting. If someone really wants to study history or one of the other liberal arts, do it as a minor and get a more vocational course as the major. Yes, it hurts to say that, but if you learn the bones of how to do research and what to read for, you can learn an awful lot from the Teaching Company/ Great Courses and reading on your own.

        1. The problem of that is what I was told by my adviser as a senior. Choice: Psychology 101 or a supplemental Physics course. His response was: Take Psychology. Anything you missed in Physics, you will be able to pick up later. You will never bother with Psychology after College.

      1. my cousin is a big proponent of two year accounting degrees from community college. He got one and now is a C(something)O of an indian casino company.
        one day before a meeting his underlings were bragging about which prestigious places they got their degrees from and he told them “I got a two year from Bay Community College and you all work for me, now shut up and lets get this meeting started”

      2. Given the fashion trends in collegiate History … definitely study on your own. To get a passing grade almost anywhere but Hillsdale, Patrick Henry, Grove or one or two others you would have to swallow and regurgitate such large amounts of twaddle that your intellectual digestive system would be permanently compromised.

        1. Unless you luck out like I did and get first the ancient old school liberal who got her doctorate when Ike was president, then an online course for the Civil War period, and a Communist-loathing immigrant from the former Eastern Bloc. Do NOT count onbeing so lucky.

        2. Studying on your own has perils, too. You have to make sure the authors of the books you read know which end is up. That’s not always evident. Then you have to make sure you widely read primary sources, when available. This is easier now, but this also could be spun: Period legal documents like wills and deeds not that much; period newspapers, very much so.

          The worse, though, is your own bias, especially when you encounter contrary information. Been there, done that, and it can and will rise up to bite you.

          I don’t know the answer other than to chase down footnotes and bibliographies. There’s whoppers in both history texts and general history books. In history, it’s find to like how an author presents the information, but never assume the author is the final authority on the subject.

          1. That’s why I suggested getting the bones at a college, so you get some of the historiography (although I noticed that latest Great Courses wishbook has a historiography course). You learn who leaned which way and why, and you can go from there.

            I’d like to say a word of defense for intellectually honest progressive faculty, because such creatures do exist although they seem to be growing rarer. I’ve worked with them. In class, they played it absolutely straight, shooting down the worst excesses from both sides of the historical line. Graduate seminar and office discussions were different, but these folks, for all their political follies, did their best to teach the straight scoop. One of them recommended Jonah Goldberg’s _Liberal Fascism_ to me as one of the best summaries of Progressive ties to fascism that she’d come across. The Progressive Era is her specialty.

            1. While it’s common for bias to be ideological and political, it’s also other things. The bias that assumed the account of Caligula turning a Roman temple into his front porch was invented by his foes proved false when archaeologists discovered he’d done precisely that. My bias was assuming an account of iron smelting in a certain location during the Civil War had to be a mistake, since there obviously were no iron deposits. Then I literally stumbled over a chunk of hematite. So it goes.

              The most recent example was the kid’s history text that mentioned Nancy Hart and treated the incident with the British soldiers as a myth. The 20th Century road crew that found the soldiers remains would have been surprised at that.

      1. 1. Only 50% of stem graduates get jobs in their fields. Some stem areas require a masters to get a real job, cough biology…

        2. Look at the drop out / completion rate of the college. Some schools are dropout factories.

        3. Look at the job placement stats for graduates of the major.

        4. Pick the major, then the school.

        5. Check out the rating of the school as a party school.

        6. In California, my cousins kids got a AA in high school. Special program.

        7. If you can take community college classes in high school, do. They are easier than Ap classes, and get you more credit. Basically double the credit.

        7. Take classes online. Often easier and cheaper.

        8. community colleges can save you money, enable you to get into a better school. The challenge is to avoid being trapped there.

        9. Pick a major that can’t be easily outsourced.

        10. Look at age descrimination in your field.

        11. If going into premed, look at # of graduates that get accepted into medical school.

        12. Look for value of a school. What is the real cost and expected salaries. ROI.

        9. Pick a major and just finish it. Do not change majors.

        8. Pick a good school district for k-12. Who your kids associates makes a huge difference.

        1. On point 5: Yes! Ours panned one I suggested because it had become a party college. Wasn’t aware of that.

          On 7. Eh. Our’s AP counted the full course amount. From their college experience, the AP work was harder. That said, my wife and I regarded it as a wake-up call. More than once ours has called the AP teachers name and said “Thank you!”

          Part of the issue is that High School is not taught as it once was. AP was really what was expected for standard classes when my wife and I were in high school. When we heard why the AP class was hard, we sort of went “And?”

        2. Where practical, pick a major that entails a certification test (e.g., CPA exam, MCAT) and check the school’s pass rate on that. Such exams should, as much as possible, be independently and objectively scored. Do NOT attend a school where the desired major has a low pass rate.

          Consider declaring yourself an undocumented alien and demand in-state tuition in any state where this is supported and there is a public university offering your major.

          Some majors are just inherently useful, as they train you to use your mind in effective and productive manner. Even if you don’t work in that major the training may well prove useful; look for such degrees.

          Emphasize “transferable skills” whenever possible, and especially look for opportunities to devise such transfers. For example, Major League baseball teams are investing heavily in people trained in finance, statistics and analysis to help then determine which players merit investing $150 million in.

        3. 2. Look at the drop out / completion rate of the college. Some schools are dropout factories.

          According to the administration of my university, the high enrollment freshman and sophomore courses pay for the low enrollment junior, senior, and grad courses, so high attrition between second and third year is (at the moment) a feature, not a bug.

          But he still wants to lower the attrition rates….

          1. The teachers I talked with when completing my Accounting BS acknowledged that the first Intermediate Accounting course was designed to weed out those with no chance of ever passing the CPA exams, saving them the cost of wasting their (and the department’s) time and diverting them into departments which were more suited to their talents. [Pause, briefly, to expunge snarkish suggested departments.]

            Such is the luxury afforded departments in relatively high demand. It is tempting to credit the integrity of the department, but it was an integrity they could afford.

          2. The qualifier in grad school has the same purpose; they take on a lot of grad students to use as TAs, and then expel half for flunking it. Or so a grad student told me once.

            Mind you, she never got her degree and would have wasted a lot fewer years if she had flunked it.

    13. Half the cost is room and board. If at all possible, your kids should go to a college close enough to commute to from home. Compare costs. Two years at a state college, not community college because the bigger unis try really hard to not accept the credits from there, then if it’s really necessary, two years at a “Big Name” university.

      If in a major that presumes grad school to get a job, then do all four years as cheaply as possible, then apply to the BNS for grad school.

      With STEM degrees this is sometimes not possible. But look into a year locally to pick up all the english, history, language, arts, and the beginning math classes.

      1. That and the health insurance requirements: “All students must have ACA comptaible health insurance! Oh, you can’t get it through your parents? Buy it through the university! It’s only a third again the cost of tuition!”

    14. Speaking as someone who’s currently in college (well, technically, grad school)…
      I’ll echo everyone else here. AP tests are truly wonderful things. Take as many as possible in high school. Skip any International Baccalaureate program–it’s overrated. Community college is also viable.
      As to picking a college, go with whatever’s cheapest and least crazy–do your research.
      Speaking from recent experience, the stupid within the liberal arts is primarily in the English, Identity-Group studies, Foreign Language, and Sociology departments. History, Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics are toss-ups.
      Now, while at college: check a professor’s CV before you take a course with them. If the research is crazy, so is the prof.

      1. Speaking from recent experience, the stupid within the liberal arts is primarily in the English, Identity-Group studies, Foreign Language, and Sociology departments. History, Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics are toss-ups.

        Sounds like some things never change. Back in the day the science and engineering departments looked askance at the English department, and the English department returned the favor.

        Our history and political science professors were all level headed. Not sure about the others.

        On checking the professors first: The worst course I had was taught by an alcoholic professor. The college let him go the year after I graduated.

    15. Robin, I would submit that college never had the value that propaganda placed on it. University serves to indoctrinate its students in the fantasy, which indoctrination will last only until graduates actually go to work in their field. Then the cold slap of Sarah’s reality carp across the face. There is this strange concept in pedagogy that knowing how to teach is more important than knowing WHAT to teach. I would advise young people approaching college age to garner skills — to seek training in a trade while still in high school. Then, if there is a desire to seek advanced schooling, it might actually have some value. See Mike Rowe for further reading.

    16. If you don’t mind being surrounded by Mormons while attending the #1 stone-cold sober school in the nation, Brigham Young University is still a very good deal. Tuition right now is $5,000 — $2,500 if you’re a member of the church. I attended from ’06 to ’10 and graduated with zero student debt (scholarship + working all 8 semesters. Lots of on- and off-campus work opportunities).

    17. You will want to make sure the career you want really requires a degree. You might be surprised. I am an Engineer working primarily in horizontal construction (roads, bridges, air fields, etc) with the occasional vertical construction. I started working where I am now as a Engineering Technician (materials testing and inspection work) in the summers while still going to college. By the time I finished college I had enough experience on the job that I could have gotten the starting engineering position even with out my degree.

      There is a limit how far one can advance where I am with out a degree, or more correctly with out a Professional Engineer’s License but you now need a degree to take the test for that. But that is only needed for management. If, like me, you prefer field work then it is superfluous.

      1. This.

        There’s an old Analog editorial titled, Credentials. I think it was by Schmitz. In it, he mentions a faculty meeting where the topic of discussion was, “Should we require a PhD degree for this position, or can we get by with a Master’s?” His suggestion of, “How about we hire someone who looks like they can get the job done?” was not treated seriously.

        I have an engineering degree, but I’m effectively self-taught as a programmer, which is how I make my living. One of the better programmers I’ve worked with was also self-taught, and had a degree in French.

        If you want to go that route, starting at smaller companies is likely to be more productive. Large companies, in my experience, tend to have a greater emphasis on paper credentials as opposed to accomplishments.

        1. Small companies often tend to offer broader experience, not being able to afford the convenience of clearly segregated employment categories, nor having people interested in fighting for turf. Anybody willing to put shoulder to boulder is welcome and it can be surprisingly useful to know how your contributions interact with others’ — e.g., “Oh, if that’s what you need, we can just tweak it here, like so, and it saves us both several days fiddling about.”

    18. Whar do people do no matter how well things are going? Eat, live somewhere, get themselves healed, entertain themselves.

      So you figure out a trade that services these endeavors. Farming is hard and risky and requires owning land. Fixing tractors is much better. Food disribution is low pay, but the people who keep the freezers working isn’t. Building trades have niches where the pay is good and there is no slack time. Elevator mechanics get paid well and always are working.

      There are some endeavors that benefit from slow times.

      And never underestimate the value that a two parent family gives to a young man or women. It is increasingly rare and the stability is valuable. In my shop we have a 23 yr old fathering a 35 yr old.

      1. famously ignored by the present President when he whinged about ATM machines costing the occasional Teller position, while ignoring the people who design, build, and service the machine … and last I looked there were few tellers working at 3am sunday who lost their positions to an ATM.

      2. In my shop we have a 23 yr old fathering a 35 yr old.

        You’ve got Marty McFly working for you?

        But seriously, yes, the statistics on outcomes of single parenting are impressive… and frightening. I’m not at all surprised to hear that a 35 year old from a single-parent home would be less mature than a 23 year old who grew up with both a mother and a father.

    19. One other piece of advice: if you’re looking to make college more affordable, think about Title IX. Due to Title IX, there are a lot of women’s athletic scholarships that go unclaimed because (a) the colleges must offer athletic scholarships for women “proportional” to the number of women at the school (usually meaning there must be more women’s scholarships than men’s) and (b) women as a group just aren’t as interested in athletics as men.

      Thus, if you have a daughter, consider teaching her to play golf; even a moderately good woman golfer can claim a scholarship. If you have a son, consider teaching him how to play golf in a dress.

      1. Part of this is also a factor of how they define athletics. Programs which require significant amounts of athletic ability from women participants, such as cheerleading or dance, are not counted as ‘sports’ even though the discipline, gymnastics and teamwork required are significant (especially compared to such sports as golf or tennis.)

    20. Get a job as a janitor, groundskeeper, or secretary at any university that has a “take classes for cheap!” option for university staff, and has the degree you want to eventually earn. Take the allowed 6 credits (or whatever) per semester Once you’ve done your core credits, actually enroll in the University and hammer out your discipline specific credits in the last two years.

    21. There are still good colleges out there striving to give students a real education. Mostly small, religious colleges. Do the legwork and find the one that best fits each kid. You have quite a few options for liberal arts / Great Books, but there are growing numbers starting to offer STEM degrees, too. Oldest is at one of these.
      Interestingly, they also try to keep costs down and the one my kid attends does accept transfer credits from cc, CLEP, etc.

  2. And I’ve heard total strangers laugh about the unemployment, GDP or inflation numbers in super market lines. And it is that sort of horse laugh people only do when they know it’s totally ridiculous and everyone agrees with them.


    Noticed this for the last few years, from almost all kinds of people representing all types of socio-economic backgrounds. A few true believers may still be out there in public, but they aren’t speaking up to defend things as they are — not when the subject comes to the cost of groceries at payment time.

  3. We live in an era when the economy is so complicated that measures of it are highly unreliable. This problem becomes even greater when you look at the various levels and subsidies involved.

    At the highest levels I doubt anything disturbs their economics; indeed, it seems likely that bad times for the country equate to better times for the elite, as there are fewer people competing for the caviar and fewer of the bourgeoisie taking resort vacations, cluttering the Caribbean with the nouveau riche. Staff are less likely to demand raises and more prone to appreciating a steady position, too.

    I also doubt many government bureaucrats and high elected officials are suffering, as their jobs usually include very generous perqs and benefits. Housing in the D.C. market is likely seen as a secure long-term investment.

    At the bottom rung we see the government crowing about ever larger numbers of recipients of Welfare and government benefits, as if that were a good thing. (Of course, for those making their living redistributing other people’s money, it is a very good thing.) We get fed statistics about the unemployment rate being down markedly, statistics which ignore the distinction that achieving this by reducing the numerator is not quite the same thing as doing it be reducing the denominator.

    Meanwhile, the Middle Class, the entrepreneurs, the strivers, are getting a boot in the teeth, their efforts to climb the economic ladder by creating wealth rather than redistributing it, are being stomped on by government regulations designed to preserve the status quo, to defend the societal values of the privileged, those people who value scenic vistas above affordable housing.

    The gaslighting of America continues, and will do so for as long as there are Democrats in power.

    1. My family’s standard of living shot WAY up in the 1980’s. But I’ve met folks since who had public sector jobs who thought the 1980’s were a terrible time and that the 1970’s were great. The 1970’s I knew had the family in a hastily converted pole building and some interesting ‘plumbing’ (ever used a gas-fired toilet? Yes, it was bad as you probably think). History might not repeat itself, but I sure hate the way some of it rhymes.

      1. Yeah, certain songs on the 70’s stations sound like they they could be current hits. “Love Freeze” by First Choice. “Bad Luck” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

      2. A gas-fired toilet? How does that even work? All the toilets I’ve ever seen used no energy except for water pressure: as long as the tank was above the bowl, it could flush. And if (for some reason) there was no water main available to refill the bowl automatically, you could still refill the bowl from other sources. What part of that system would require energy from gas?

              1. Nah, “composting” is too advanced for the former USSR. When I was over there (Georgia 2012), we just had squatty potties, cheap-as-dirt toilet paper (with texture similar to dirt too) and old tin water buckets. Outside of the city, the sewage was collected in big concrete cisterns and not treated at all, as far as I could tell.

            1. I heard that one of the best tricks we pulled on the Soviets at the end of WWII, is that they got all the German toilets. Apparently, in Germany, toilets have a ‘shelf’ so you can examine the stool before flushing. The shelf sits above the conventional water line.

              1. I can confirm that, having spent a year in Germany during which I lived in an older building. I can also confirm that the stool is usually… reluctant to leave the “shelf”. And if your building ALSO has low water pressure (say, insufficient to actually dislodge the sticky mess), well, you tend to learn to hold it until you can go use a toilet in a different building.

                WHY would anyone do that?

                1. WHY would anyone do that?

                  $HOUSEMATE has a Mercedes (actually, two – both bought used. One for daily use, and an older Summer car convertible for fun… when it can be driven….) and thus often will be working on a Mercedes. The designs are not simple, no. Often $HOUSEMATE will return from whatever the last operation was (or be taking a mid-operation break) and sum up the weirdness with “Germans, go fig.” And then describe some weirdness that makes little immediate sense – often not much later sense, either, even after having heard the alleged explanation.

        1. Our Dear Hostess Sarah has it right. It was a device meant for places without a steady water supply (which we did have) or a proper sewage system (which we did not have[1]). The gadget was called a “Destroilet” and that’s just what it did. Lift the lid, do the job, close the lid and for 10-15 minutes a fierce gas flame turned the material into ash and smoke. And you did not wish to be downwind during the burn. Immediate re-use of the device was.. not for the timid – or the sane.[2]

          [1] What about greywater, you ask? Well, since we had poured concrete and gravel over ‘grassland’ and cut down some trees, we made up for it some by creating a small wetland. Legal? Hardly. Workable in small scale? Yup.

          [2] Sister summed things up with, “I was potty trained on a fire-breathing dragon!”

    1. Never forget, we outnumber them. They fear us and that is a very good thing. On that note I’ll leave with this very applicable quote:
      “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? […] The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!” —Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

      1. Solhenitsyn was, unfortunately, wrong.

        There’s never any shortage of thugs and enforcers. And had anyone stood up to them, 100% of the population would have been arrested, not 25%.

        Look at what happened to all the villages and towns in Ukraine that Stalin decided were collaborationist…

        See also, “Warsaw Uprising”

          1. “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s easy to forget your objective was to drain the swamp.”

            Dying for your cause is one thing. Uselessly dying to accomplish nothing at all is another.

        1. But we have 300 million firearms in the hands of 80 million gun owners. We have access to unfiltered information through various electronic means.
          And most important, we have a large body of citizens who still know history, and are damned if we will allow our precious country to roll down that slippery slope into tyranny.
          We are USAians to borrow from Sarah’s theme. We do not cower in the shadows like subjects of some European despot. We fight back. As another noted fictional character once remarked, “we aim to misbehave!”
          It’s become common in certain circles to mock this attitude. They will say, “oh, you’re going to stand up to the most powerful military in the world, are you?” These folks have no concept of asymmetrical warfare as practiced in Iraq, Afganistan, earlier in Viet Nam, the Philippines, and elsewhere. And it would be American boys and girls in uniform directed to enforce what would most certainly be illegal orders.
          This sort of battle is a terrible thing and I truly hope it never comes to our shores, for the sake of my grand children more than myself, but any student of history knows that we are never far from revolution. All it takes is the right tipping point.

          1. odd how we could in no way defeat the Iraqi army, the Viet Cong, or any other “quagmire” according to some people, yet that same army is supposed to run roughshod over the most armed and creative society on the planet.
            IF (big, big IF) the military obeyed such an order and didn’t fracture immediately, it would make the insurgency in those other places look like child’s play.

  4. I have to wonder if the Clintons are our Julian family.

    Add in Obama and all his friends and BBC cold remake “I Claudius” which was all the rage when I was in high school. I wonder if that had anything to do with the Conservative turnover that led to the Reagan Administration.

  5. Since I work for an institution of true believers,in a city of the true believers and in the state of true believers, it’s hard not to get Stockholm syndrome. I don’t know if we are not the crazy’s.

    1. This is something I’ve often wondered. Think your thoughts out. Look them over very carefully.

      You’ll find some of them are rooted in emotion.

      You’ll find that some of them are rooted in analysis and predictions. Find the falsifiable predictions.

      Understand the thinking and sentiment of your foes. Identify their matches to your predictions. Pay attention, and see which predictions are correct.

      Some things turn out to have only one correct answer. Sometimes both you and your enemy are wrong.

      Know yourself and know your enemies.

        1. I write my lesson plans at home so coworkers won’t hear me muttering curses at the textbook. OK, not always curses, but uncharitable words about slant, bias, and lousy interpretation and presentation.

          1. My wife likes to watch educational shows and documentaries. Unfortunately, she doesn’t want me in the same room when she does so… apparently my expositions on how the shows are slanted or just plain wrong disturb her enjoyment.

            1. The thing that bugs me about those shows is just how shallow they are. Pick an idea or topic, then spend an hour exploring it and it’s ramifications. Of course, doing that might undermine the Progressive Narrative.

              1. My problem with recent documentaries is the sheer number of them that feel the need to personalize and dramatize the subject. I don’t need a nature show that feels like a remake of Milo and Otis. I don’t need to see actors portraying gladiators, prostitutes, and bankers and their families when I’m watching a documentary on Vesuvius and Pompeii.

                I was thrilled with a recent documentary on the discovery of Homo Naledi because it didn’t feel the need to have actors showing us “a day in the life of.”

                1. I’m annoyed with “documentaries” that show “stock footage from sword & sandal movies” instead of accurate re-enactments of historical warfare.

                  IE Romans on horseback fighting Celts. [Frown]

  6. “The cold fish of reality slaps you across the face.”

    Would that fish be a carp, by any chance?

  7. We’ve also been seeing a reduction of sales at conventions, although I can’t be sure about online book sales since we shut down our Amazon Marketplace sales in April. (We were having trouble with people buying reading copies, nitpicking the description to find a nick or ding we’d missed so they could say it was “not as described,” then giving us a negative when we insisted that the book be returned in order to get their refund, on the grounds that the book “wasn’t worth” returning). I relisted some Hallmark ornaments last week, since they used to always be good sellers during the holidays, but we haven’t had a single sale yet. If something doesn’t happens soon, I’m going to have to watch our pro-merchant account renewal very closely so that the forty-dollar mistake doesn’t turn into an eighty-dollar one. OTOH, I am getting some sales off and on from my KDP books and short stories.

    However, what I’m really noticing is how retailers are trying to hide inflation by monkeying with product sizes. Frex, most companies no longer sell ice cream in an actual half-gallon, but a weird size that looks similar to the old packaging, but has only about three-eights or five-sixteenths of a gallon (Prairie Farms is an exception, and their advertising makes a point that they still sell true half-gallon and gallon packages). The 16-ounce package of frozen vegetables for 99 cents is now only 12 ounces.

    My first thought is that they think we’re too stupid to notice that the packages are shrinking, and will assume we must be overeating instead. But after a talk with my brother-in-law, I’m wondering if there’s some crony-capitalism collusion going on to keep the actual level of inflation off the consumer price index.

    1. Size alteration is an old practice. I don’t think it’s meant to be truly deceptive, as most packages are quite clearly labeled. But it is difficult to move people to a new price point; and frankly, the way to market to poor people is to offer lesser amounts of stuff for cheaper. A lot of companies are starting to offer their Third World and Second World packaging techniques to their First World customers.

      1. Frequently, “deceptive” comes across pretty clearly. Witness the convenience stores that sell you a bottle of milk for $1.69. And then one day you notice the bottle is slimmer than expected. The price hasn’t changed, but your pint of milk now contains 14 ounces.

        No deception. The number is right there at the bottom of the bottle. Just get out your reading glasses…

        1. And the grocery store that does “X for $Y” counting on people being trained by convenience stores that they must buy X amount to get things at the pricing, even if they do not need really need to do so. And often picking odd numbers (other than 5) to complicate division.

    2. Weird. I stopped selling my books on Amazon (used books, not mine, exactly, but the overage of what I buy after I read it) because of similar things, including the guy who said the book was thrashed when he got it (impossible) and when I asked for a picture, he disappeared.
      We ended up donating piles and piles of books to Goodwill. Most of them classics (Gutenberg has them now) or reference for things I’ve decided I’m not writing anything in. (French and Russian revolutions. I’d slit my wrists, and I like my wrists unslit.)

      1. Having beta’d Through Fire I can say with confidence that you know way damn more about the French revolution than any human should. As for Russian, ewwwwww!

        1. Yeah. I had the idea of doing a series of time travel novels set in it, and I owned hundreds of books on it. And then I realized I can’t. I just can’t. TF was hard enough. Writing the real thing? I’d slit my wrists in a warm bath.

          1. Just reading about it is bad enough. And every year the research turns up even worse things, in greater numbers. I really start to wonder what the Slavs ever did to tick G-d off so much. First the Mongols, then the Germans, the Turks, the Golden Horde/Crimean Tatars, and the Soviets, Nazi Germany, and Soviets again as chasers. (Although, given what the Russian Imperial army was doing in and to Galicia and Poland during WWI . . . yeech.)

            1. Robert Gellately’s “Lenin, Stalin, Hitler” was a book I couldn’t put down, was insanely glad tobe done with, and described attitudes and actions so horrific I felt physically I’ll for a bit. What all those progressive totalitarians did was to horrid for words. Let us keep them from gaining more power here.

                1. I only partly read Chung and Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story. I decided the additional knowledge wasn’t worth the additional cost. As it was, I found it life changing. So what if foreign dictator x is killing booksellers? Who cares how many socialists they kill, if they manage to kill just one future Mao?

      2. That’s why I’ve been very hesitant about putting any books up on Amazon in hopes of drumming up sales and getting that last negative (from the guy who complained that the covers of a reading copy hardcover were “soft,” whatever that meant, and that the book was “destroyed”) to go below the level of visibility. The last thing I need is to re-attract that bozo or another like him who expects to be able to use the threat of bad feedback to get me to knuckle under and give him his money back without the book being returned.

        Maybe I should’ve asked for a photo from the guy who claimed his book was “destroyed.” These days, with camera smartphones, it’s no huge imposition. But at this point it’s hindsight, and I need to concentrate on getting the ball rolling again on sales so I can get enough positive feedbacks to get that last negative pushed out of sight.

        1. If you don’t mind me intruding, are there any suggestions you have for getting the ball rolling at all? I gave up on bookselling some time ago, but I have an Amazon Handmade account and am trying hard to kickstart it. Love making the stuff, but the market has fallen out of craft shows, and even Renaissance faires seem to be taking a beating.

      1. I am older that dirt. I still remember when a pound of coffee was really a pound not anywhere from 10.5 to 12 ounces.

        1. One request we get for charitable donations is for a 1lb box of chocolates.

          It’s a trick to track one down.

      2. When I was a kid, tuna was in 8 oz. cans. Don’t know where you’re getting 5 oz. cans from; the ones I buy are 6 oz. But I’m buying store brand from a store with high quality items- Wegmans. Oh- the 6 oz. is a recent change. It was 6.5 oz. just a few months back. Price per can is the same….

        1. Food Lion. StarKist Solid White. UPC P49630FP.4
          I have too many black olives (2.25oz) when I mix them. Probably the olive company will start making their cans smaller too.

      3. Oh, and if you buy chips, wander the chip aisle and compare bags sizes. A number of companies are not offering the “NEW” 1 lb. bag, with 1 lb. of chips. Eventually, companies resize their offerings. Like when someone in marketing realizes that an11 oz. bag as the largest size really doesn’t sell that well, and that 11 oz. bag was once 16 oz.

      4. OJ is now sold in 59 oz containers. Ice Cream is sold in 1.5 qt. size. I find this annoying. I’d pay whatever the producer needed to charge if the size stayed the same. This has also occurred in cereal.

        1. We recently discovered the frozen chopped spinach we have been buying in 10 oz. boxes is now only available in 9 oz. box.

          Pretty much all the recipes we have that call for such spinach call for the 10 oz. quantity. (Perhaps this is all a ploy by Big Cookbook to justify revision and reselling all cookbooks?)

          Happily, our favorite frozen chopped spinach recipe simply calls for heating it with # quantity of garlic, so following the old recipe makes it even more garlicky!

      5. Starkist lost a class action this year n is offering $40 or the equivalent in tuna if you register as having bought their tuna in the last few yrs.

    3. The Thanksgiving fruitcake at Redquarters was half the size of the ones from 15 years ago. We compared the tins. Still tasty, but served far fewer people than the old “regular” size.

    4. I’ve made a habit of always checking the “price per measurement” section of price tags in the supermarket. That little bit of info can’t be fooled when the container volume changes.

      As for pretending inflation doesn’t exist –

      The government has artificially kept the interest rates at 0% since Obama entered office. This makes it easier to pay the interest on the national debt, and it also encourages people to invest in the stock market. Since there’s no interest rate, sticking money in savings or bonds is a loser’s game. This leaves the stock market as the only place to invest, which drives stock prices higher.

      Rumors are circulating that Janet Yellen, the head of the Federal Reserve, is planning on reintroducing interest rates. Purely by coincidence, I’m sure, those interest rates will kick in just in time for the upcoming presidential elections…

      1. Let me guess, interest rates will go up for 1Q 2016, the economy will tank as all the capital misallocated by ZIRP moves around, then the Fed will lower rates for 3Q so the economy will pick back up just in time for the election.

      2. John Crudele, NY Post business [] columnist, has been writing for some time about whistleblowers at the Commerce Department claiming that Census data used for calculation of employment and household income is seriously tainted because census takers have been simply manufacturing data.

        Back in 2012 a whistleblower told the Census Bureau about a massive fraud coming out of its Philadelphia region.

        One of the guys who was supposed to be going door-to-door surveying people in the Washington, DC, area about their employment situation was faking the responses.

        As it turned out, that guy — Julius Buckmon — was falsifying loads of responses. In fact, the number was said to be more than 100 a month for the Current Population Survey (CPS), which is turned into the nation’s unemployment rate.

        The word is that Buckmon had been doing this for at least five years before he was caught and that his actions were known to some insiders. How high up this scandal went, even Buckmon didn’t know.

        Buckmon, whom I interviewed before he went into hiding, said higher-ups encouraged him to cheat.

        One other trick, recently cited:

        Of the [reported third-quarter growth of] 1.5 percent, 0.45 of a percentage point came from increased health care spending. In other words, mandatory ObamaCare payments caused about one-third of the third-quarter GDP growth.

        As for the Census data games,

        Readers already know I’ve been conducting my own lengthy probe of Census. I’ve found that extremely important economic data have been compromised and that nobody seems to know how Census is spending its $3 billion-plus annual budget.

        My probe led to an investigation of Census by the Commerce Department’s inspector general, Todd Zinser, who recently was forced out of that job. It also led to a half-hearted probe by the Oversight Committee in 2014, when it was run by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

        Issa’s committee complained that its investigation of Census had been “obstructed” by the Commerce Department, which has authority over Census. Nobody looked into the alleged obstruction or who might have ordered it.

        Check for columns found at nypost[DOT]com/tag/census-bureau/

        1. Recipe for made-up statistics: Staff each census office with temporary employees. Set arbitrary goals for the office, while also setting arbitrary limits on the number of census-takers they’re allowed to hire.

          I worked the 2010 census: first as a recruiter, then as a census-taker for folks who hadn’t responded. The supervisors were way overworked: no paid overtime allowed for them, and not enough time in an 8-hour day to do their jobs. They ended up doing hours of unpaid (and unrecorded) overtime—and not always supervising as much as needed. The office in a neighboring district had a similar problem to what the Post reported in Philadelphia: couple of folks had too much work and not enough time and uncooperative interviewees, and resorted to inventing data.

    5. “But after a talk with my brother-in-law, I’m wondering if there’s some crony-capitalism collusion going on to keep the actual level of inflation off the consumer price index.”

      No need; food and fuel are already excluded as being “too volatile”. So the inflation rate isn’t being calculated on necessities.

      1. If they actually cared about presenting real numbers, they’d use a rolling average over the past twelve months to smooth out those volatile (and seasonally-priced) items like gas and fuel. Since they don’t do so, well…

        If A, then B.
        Not B.
        Therefore, not A.

    6. Its not relevant to books, but Ive had similar experience selling stuff on Etsy. My very first sale was shanghaied by the buyer doing the same thing to little resin box I had made and refused to send it back even after complaining about it. Needless to say, I haven’t tried to sell anything else on Etsy. She made the mistake of writing a similar email to me that was intended for another Etsy seller, thereby revealing what a scammer she was. And I couldnt do anything.

      If nothing else, you’ve given me a heads up on what happens in Amazon. I had been looking at self-publishing. I am still researching it, but now I know the loopholes people will go through to get something for nothing.

  8. Soma? Perhaps. Though I have said that while many know of phenobarbital and pentobarbital, that from simple observation the most abused drug in the world must be cenosensital. (It works better spoken, yes). And it’s (at best) frowned upon to administer the needed treatment: a stiff dose of dopeslappamine.

    [I’ve had pain management nurses respond to that bit with, “I am so stealing that.” I fully and heartily encourage(d) such. Fwiw, I have fortunate to not have had to deal with pain meds beyond a couple shots of toradol* some years back – also, it’s amazing how happy nursing staff gets when you reply to the offer of morphine with, “Let’s save that for those who really need it.” and aren’t screaming which would indicate you do indeed need it.]

    * Yes, I was _so_ disappointed it wasn’t TAURadol and was only a painkiller. Sometimes Objective Reality can be quite the dull place.

    1. You have to be careful how you play with pain meds. Too little, and you retard your own recovery. Too much, and you have a hard time coming off ’em. And then you get fun stuff like fast vs. slow metabolizing, or “X stuff doesn’t hardly work on me, but Y stuff knocks me out with a ridiculously tiny dose.”

      1. Yeah, I know it was recently found (or recognized) that there are roughly three groups of people when it comes to codeine. Some have the textbook reaction, some are hit fast and hard, and some slow and low. And far as I know, there is no predictor beyond experience. I’ve had it prescribed a couple times as a “take this stuff if you need it” after $SOMETHING_NASTY and have fortunately never needed it. And I do not have a high pain tolerance.

            1. That’s me and vicodin. Leaves me in too much pain to sleep but too loopy and queasy to do anything to take my mind off how much pain I’m in.

              Anything with oxy is debatable too, helps some, but really, advil works just as well, often better. I was off the percocets less than 2 days after shoulder surgery this year and only took a few over the next month right before bed. I’ve also found over the years that it’s really hard to convince ER guys that you’d rather just have a tylenol 3 than oxy or hydrocodone for when you need something stronger than just OTCs.

              1. BTDT for the Tylenol 3 thing. Dentist said Lortabs after each of several extractions I’ve had due to laziness when younger, but they make me sick (as in vomiting, not just feeling queasy), so each time I had to remind him that me and Lortabs just Do Not Play Nicely(tm).

                (It’s not that he’s an idiot, mind you. There’s just a lot of traffic at his office, as the prices are fairly reasonable.)

          1. *Free associates*
            “Just so you know, this me NOT on drugs.”
            #Look of ‘Oh no.. we might (have to) give him _what_?’#

            “I’m going draw some blood.”
            ‘I suggest a red pen. [pause] I suppose you’ve heard that a lot, huh?’
            “Actually, that was the first time.”

            “How do you think of these things?”
            ‘How does anyone NOT?’

      2. Works with anesthetics too. I pretty much metabolize everything they’ve used on me (probably 20 times since 2006; pancreatitis drain changes, mostly) quickly. I wake up fast and alert.

        1. Yay! We can start a post-op lunchbag club!

          Anesthesiologists hate it when you ask them when the anesthesia’s going to start working, because you’re bored and want something to read. Nurses really hate it when you wake up hungry after surgery, get up, and go looking for your coat and a snack. And surgeons and dentists really hate it when you tell them beforehand that they need to give you twice as much novocaine and then work fast… and then they find out that you weren’t exaggerating. I’ve got it in both my medical and dental records now, though, so they can look it up and not just hear it from me.

          OTOH, it is much better to let medical folks know that you do this stuff fast, rather than suffer in silence.

          On the gripping hand, sometimes drug sensitivities change with age, diet, etc. Obviously it would be embarrassing to brag on your metabolism and then have your anesthesia accidentally kill you, so it probably works best for medical personnel to give a normal dose first.

          1. Hi, I’m Sabrina and I metabolize novocaine like nobody’s business…
            (“Hi Sabrina!”)
            My dentists have been blessedly rational. Once we figured out they would pretty much have to have a novocaine *drip* going for the longer procedures, we figured out a way to keep me sedated. Normal novocaine shot, THEN constant, low level nitrous. Pricy, but so, so worth it. No more sempaphoring around the drill cable I CAN FEEL THAT AND IT HURTS

          2. Well, it was true as of a year ago when I had my neck surgery (2 level fusion); hopefully it will still be true next Friday when I go back because one level didn’t fuse completely.

  9. People need to be able to escape, even if to their imagination.

    And Baen and Amazon are doing well. And I find myself listening to old time radio shows when reading isn’t an option (housecleaning, etc.) which is interesting as… supposedly the only “luxury” good whose sales went up through the Great Depression was: the radio.

    1. My daughter and I are escaping to old TV shows ourselves – Fawlty Towers is this weeks’ fave. I’m trying to see if WKRP Cincinnati is available streaming for free on any of our services.
      And then there is always Northern Exposure – which gave us the marvelous idea for Luna City.
      We sampled the first couple of episodes of Man in the High Castle … and it was good, incredibly good … but in the current atmosphere, too grim-dark to want to wallow in for long.

  10. The Saudi’s have helped our economy more by trying to bankrupt competition that Obama has in all his claims.

    It is bad when Pravda is probably the most unbiased news organization, but the incestuous relationship between politicians an media is causing the daily news to be deformed or stillborn.

    “Core Inflation” – don’t count things like energy costs or the price of beef. Yes! Everyone buys a new car or new home every year. A good way to peg inflation not.

    “Unemployment” – where ‘discouraged unemployed’ are not counted, because, hey, when the job market is so bad that they no longer need to apply, why should they count? Perhaps we should count them because they are unemployed?

    Fed Interest Rate – Really helping all those Senior Citizens that saved all their life and hoped to live of their savings and interest when they retired. How much interest have Seniors earned while Obama was president? Little to nothing.

    Overpriced college tuition, where everyone is majoring in queer studies. I don’t deny we need a few academics in queer studies, but what actually are the job prospects except as a professor teaching queer studies? (Oh, and I don’t mean to pick on queers, woman’s studies, black studies, multicultural studies, maternal studies… pretty much any major that ends in ‘studies’.)

    We really don’t know how bad (or good) things are, as no one in their proper mind would believe any statistic the Government is pushing. I’ve recently been selected as part of the Census Bureau’s statistical study of ‘domestic violence and police brutality’. I first question exactly why we need this study, but fear not, I am confident I will be classed an ‘outlier’. Have I encountered the police in the last 6 months? Well yes, the local parole officer came by asking for directions. He was very nice and polite. I gave him directions. This will probably be spun up to threatening banging on my door and illegal search and seizure. (After all, remember who the Census Bureau works for.)

    I really only know anecdotal data, for the local area. Victor Davis Hanson writes about the Central California farmlands, and it seems very depressed. Texas is apparently doing fine. I have no trust in the media telling the truth. I have no trust in the government telling the truth. What a sorry and sad state of affairs.

    1. Something to keep in mind is that not all economic sectors are impacted equally. Government is a growth industry, so naturally anyone in government isn’t going to experience what someone in manufacturing is going through.

      1. My extended family’s young ones live in Northern Virginia. An absolute boom town for Government spending. Possibly why I don’t hear a lot of bad things about economically suffering, just bad things about I-95.

    2. (Oh, and I don’t mean to pick on queers, woman’s studies, black studies, multicultural studies, maternal studies… pretty much any major that ends in ‘studies’.)
      Hey, go ahead and pick on them, go as far to prick them, because they do not bleed. What run thru their veins is not red white and blue, they are stone.

      1. If that is a complaint, I don’t understand it. If it is a joke I don’t understand it. If it is a supporting comment I don’t understand it. Are there different words you can formulate into the same reply?

    3. A few comments: California is analogous to a natural-resource-rich country, bringing in vast sums by mining high tech and Hollywood world dominance, and buying off clients and voters with welfare and subsidies. Which means glittering capitals and depressed, ignored hinterlands, and a ruling class which truly cares about the wealthy coastal Ds that keep them in power but pretends to care about the poor.

      I’m kind of the Man in the High Castle, insulated myself from the economic struggle but observing how hard it has become. The US was once known for its dynamic economy and robust employment. Even in the mid-80s when I was in the software job market, it was easy to simply demonstrate what you could do and get a good job with all but the most glamorous companies even without paper credentials.

      As the tendrils of HR and government labor regulations have slowly strangled manager’s freedom of choice, the US has become, more European — inflexible, status-oriented, and rigid, so that only small companies can still move quickly. Meanwhile, the burdens of compliance fall more heavily on small companies, who if they want to stay legal are required to hire more and more bureaucrats. This has encouraged the growth of the noncommittal Uber jobs and underground economy — more and more people make a living in piecework and off-the-books activities. This makes economic statistics even more suspect, and of course they were designed for full-time, stable employment.

      The next book will be about this sclerosis.

      1. Oh do I have lot on this. The employment of people is TOTALLY dysfunctional. It doesn’t help that corporations treat people as expendable and if you are over fifty and laid off, you might as well consider yourself disabled. For your entertainment here’s the 14th in my ongoing set of job stuff aggregations.
        It’s not fun out here. A lot of talent is just going to waste and a lot of people are REALLY frustrated.

        1. Not yet over 50, but once my job moves and the workplace closes, I will be very very close to 50. That is why I am going to follow my job to the hinterlands of Wisconsin. 50 and unemployed has little appeal, and the places I am rather sure I could get work have nearly as little (commute to Dallas? no thanks). But I can move to north of “The Frozen Tundra” and live near scads of family, maybe get some acreage abutting state land or a nice little place in town close to the Green Bay/Lake Michigan.

          1. I’m 54 and back in school after my librarian position was downsized from under me. I do not recommend librarian for anyone unless you also have a lot of IT. So I’m switching to accounting. Yes, it will take at least another year and a half to get the CPA, but I figure I can sell myself as entry level, but will look experienced for clients. (And entry level pays pretty much what I was making when my last job disappeared.) That should also be about the time my youngest finishes high school, so we’ll be able to pick up and move anyplace there’s a job if the economy here in southeastern Connecticut hasn’t picked up. Sadly, I’m not counting on it doing so.

              1. Thanks. I can use all the luck and good wishes out there.

                I’ve redone my resume to remove the word library as much as possible, and someone suggested I should refer to myself as the Department manager rather than the Medical Librarian, although that was my title. I swear, people see the word librarian and even when they deal with research librarians and corporate librarians daily, all they think of is their elementary school or public children’s librarian, and don’t read past the job title to see that I ran a department, developed and managed over $120K of non-salary budget, etc., etc.

                As it is now, when people ask about the transition, I point out that librarians take data, arrange it, and present it in the format their patrons need, whether it’s shelving systems, bibliographies, curated collections, whatever. Accountants take data, arrange it and present it in the format their clients need; same job, just a different classification scheme with a little basic math thrown in.

                1. My Boss removed anything that could imply my age from my resume when he went over it for me. Even though it is the same company (I didn’t have to apply like they said, but they still demanded a resume) he said never put anything that can imply your age on the thing (mine was year graduated).

                    1. on the other end of things, I knew a kid who by 21 had had well over 15 jobs.
                      Comically, he only ever quit one, to join the Navy, and got booted from the Boot Camp when he blew out his knee, then came back to the job he quit and got fired again.
                      He kept telling us about places he worked that were so much better than working where we were … “Why’re you not still there, then?”
                      “They, um, fired me”

                    2. I strongly recommend networking; find out when and where your local CPA Association meets and greets and make a point of attending. These are people who can provide that most valuable of professional commodities, a reference. They can also be handy for scoring the entry level positions that don’t require a CPA but will help you qualify, and the opportunity to maintain and develop Excel and Access skills, such as pivot tables and data filtering & sifting.

                      Grab any internship or similar opportunity to create people who can say, “Oh, sure – I worked with #. Great person to work with; pleasant, hard-working and thorough. Completely professional in every way.”

                      Those are also people who can tip you to openings, review your resume and warn you of potential hazards (e.g., Uhhh, you sure you want to work for that partnership?”)

        2. It’s not fun out here. A lot of talent is just going to waste and a lot of people are REALLY frustrated.

          I had no idea. It is almost like the economy limits the rate at which additional people with STEM degrees can be employed. /sarcasm

          I have come to greatly dislike labor law, business regulation in general, and Obama’s rape of the economy.

          1. But of course companies like Disney must import more H1Bs because they can’t find any qualified applicants.

            Hello, President Trump.

        3. Ah, Capitol One conveniently ‘downsized’ their workforce when my Brother was in his early 50’s. That way, they don’t have to pay retirement.
          I keep complaining at my Father who actually has a Capitol One credit card.

          1. Which is one reason why you should discount any kind of pension or retirement beyond 401(k) contributions when comparing compensation packages. Promises are easy to make and much harder to fulfill. I’d rather have the cash in hand today.

    4. “Unemployment” – where ‘discouraged unemployed’ are not counted, because, hey, when the job market is so bad that they no longer need to apply, why should they count? Perhaps we should count them because they are unemployed?

      Ignoring this group on the rolls actually makes a certain amount of sense when the economy is good. After all, you don’t want to count home makers as “unemployed”. And a lot of home makers will get annoyed at anyone who tells them that they “don’t work”. But when the economy is a mess like it is right now, and we have ever greater numbers of people who are unable to find work within a year, then the number does need to be tracked.

        1. My daughter and I pretty much gave up on anything but self-employment a good few years ago. Between a military pension and VA disability, my writing and the Tiny Publishing Bidness, we are in a better economic position then a couple of years ago … but still – I am not entirely certain that we would be accounted for in any government employment figures.
          For all of that – we’re pretty darned busy, most days.

      1. The U-6 number is fine, we just have to be aware that there is always going to be a certain percentage of people who are “unemployed”. But that doesn’t allow bureaucrats and journalists to manipulate the statistics to suit their political ends.

          1. No, the U-6 counts as unemployed those people – students, homemakers, early retirees, etc. – who would not choose to get a job under normal circumstances, so it will never go to zero. Indeed, economists recognize that there in “structural unemployment” – the U-3 number will not fall below about 4-5% just due to churn in the workforce – using U-6just makes the structural unemployment number larger. But you can compare numbers just fine, and since the U-6 number doesn’t have the statistical voodoo of “those looking for work”, it is much more accurate.

              1. The number of statistics isn’t surprising, any statistical analysis necessarily destroys information, so you need multiple statistics to get a complete picture, it’s the choice to use the statistic most subject to error and bias as the headliner that is the real problem.

      2. Easy solution: have the homemakers list their employment as “homemaker”. Then you know they aren’t making money, but can tell that they are not out of work and/or indigent.

        1. You assume a basic honesty that may be lacking in sufficiently large populations to throw off statistics.

        2. What about a homemaker with a day care for friends, a boutique muffin delivery, a medical transcription service and a budding writing career on the side?

          People tend to not easily fall into discretely defined categories.

          Stupid people; the government will soon put halt to that.

    5. I work at a theme park/movie location in Southern Arizona. The business was depressed for a while, but has picked back up some. Especially our banquet and group sales; I believe this is because businesses, and individuals, are adjusting to “the new normal.”

      Though our group sales people did recently lose a big sale from a local mining company that thought that having a big shindig right before laying off a group of people might be bad optics.

    6. My dad was ranting about how “glad” he was gas was low so they didn’t “need” a COLA from SS this year. Yes, lack of high gas prices was the excuse to not give an increase in Cost Of Living… Ironic as a few years ago, when Gas was pushing $4 (higher elsewhere) they said higher food and gas prices were no reason to give a COLA … so, low gas, high food prices? You don’t need no COLA …High gas High food prices? That’s certainly no reason to give a COLA. Got it?

        1. Presented without additional comment:

          VA spends millions promoting Obamacare, little cutting wait times
          By Sarah Westwood • 11/24/15
          Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs spent millions of taxpayer dollars promoting the Affordable Care Act to veterans who didn’t even need the coverage, but have dedicated relatively few resources to helping veterans on the agency’s long waiting list get access to their benefits, internal documents show.

          The VA spent $6.125 million on brochures, letters and posters in an outreach campaign for Obamacare that ended last year, according to internal reports obtained by the Washington Examiner.

          Scott Davis, a program specialist at the Atlanta VA enrollment center, said the VA likely spent much more than that on the Obamacare promotion campaign, given that the Atlanta enrollment center hired at least 40 additional staffers to push the health care legislation.

          Records indicate the VA also spent money on Google advertisements, Spanish-language promotional materials and videos in an effort to spread the word about Obamacare.

          However, veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system are not subject to penalties imposed on the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act and thus didn’t need to change anything about their coverage to comply with the legislation.

          “If a veteran is already enrolled, what else do you need to tell them?” Davis said, noting the VA “used every form of communication” to contact veterans about Obamacare between 2013 and 2014.

          An August document indicates the VA sent 2.8 million Affordable Care Act “buddy” letters in Aug. 2013. Two years later, in August of this year, the VA sent just 10,000 letters warning combat veterans that their eligibility for health care benefits was about to expire.

          As of the end of August, the VA had a backlog of more than 822,000 pending health care applications from veterans seeking to be enrolled in the VA system. According to internal records, nearly 650,000 of those applications had been set to “pending” because the veterans did not provide proper verification of their income — something that is not actually required of combat veterans.

          The other 173,000 applications were thrown into the pending pile because veterans did not submit their discharge papers as proof of their military service, although veterans were never told they needed to do so. Internal emails suggest the VA’s reasons for refusing to tell veterans about the need to turn in their discharge papers were politically motivated.

          Davis questioned why the massive backlog of pending applications has sparked a limited push to mail letters to veterans, but the Obamacare promotional campaign warranted a major, multi-media blitz.

          What’s worse, veterans are being asked to correct mistakes on their applications that were not their fault in the first place.

          “This is all intentionally done to create artificial barriers for veterans to get access to health care,” Davis said.


          1. Va story.
            My Dad had a hip replaced. The other is now really bad, and an orthopedic surgeon said “It feels like it is bone on bone.” but his diagnosis was countermanded . . . by a Physicians Assistant.
            So, he has to go through things again to hopefully not get some snot-nose decide that maybe he “just needs to take the pill” because quality of life is over rated.
            I’m surprised the PA is still breathing.

            1. Odd how infrequently such people decide that the quality of their life is over rated.

              While a PA may not possess the medical knowledge to make such determinations, assuredly a PA may possess the bureaucratic authority — which clearly communicates which is trumps.

    7. ” Perhaps we should count them because they are unemployed?”

      the problem is — if they aren’t applying for jobs, how do we know they are unemployed? There must be some people who wouldn’t take a job on a silver platter and yet claim they would to cover up that they are perfectly happy with whatever means of support they have found.

  11. “Most of the people on the street probably don’t know how disastrous our foreign policy REALLY is, or how it’s done nothing but set up the chess board for world war three.”

    The problem with that assessment is that it’s not just the people on the street who don’t realize how bad our foreign policy really is-our “leaders” are playing checkers,while the rest of the players are playing chess.

      1. I still think it’s going to be a crash and burn,rather than a slow implosion-too much geopolitical BS going on,and the college kids are acting like whiny two year olds,protesting the most absurd things-I think 90% or more of the current college age group are nothing more than the product of K-12 leftist indoctrination,which only gets worse in our institutions of higher learning.
        These morons believe they will never have to hear an opinion that they do not agree with,that they will always be able to demand a “safe space”,and that they deserve to be paid top dollar when they have no job skills whatsoever.
        Bernie and Pocahontas urge them on-and our “leaders” are as my brother says-“dumber than a bag of hammers”
        Hopefully those with more intelligence end up being the new leaders-rather than some sociopath ascending to power.

        1. The geopolitical situation is bad, but it isn’t dire. The US faces no credible existential threats in the immigrate future – ISIS is too weak to do more than irritating pinpricks, while Russia and China have no interstate in provoking a war with a major nuclear power. What we are seeing around the world is the vermin grabbing what they can while the kitchen lights are off.

          Russia and China both have severe fundamental economic problems, their adventurism can be thwarted by standing up to them combined with mid-level economic war. ISIS just needs the crap bombed out of it, perhaps with security guarantees for an autonomous, if not independent, region – including a no-fly zone.

          1. No,we need to take ISIS out-then get out,and leave the rest of the middle east alone-the reason ISIS and the rest of the Amnerica hating extremists hate America is due our meddling in the region.
            Establishing a no-fly zone would require U.S. military presence in the region-the U.S. has been there far to long.
            As for no credible threat-what do you think importing hundreds of thousands of people from third world religious fundamentalist/extremist tribal cultures who have no intention of assimilating into American culture is?
            Take a trip to the Detroit suburbs for a view of the future.

            1. No. They hate America because of who we ARE. You can’t avoid that. But I am sort of the opinion we leave, develop our oil. Wall everything but Israel in. Let them figure it out or eat each other.

              1. I lost a lot of friends in Iraq and Afghanistan,my son-in- law still has some issues from Iraq,but he’s doing 100 times better now compared to 2007 when he got out of the Army.
                I agree-we need to get out,and let them go back to fighting each other.
                I get that they hate us because of who we are-part of that is because they’re indoctrinated by the Imams,but they also hate us because U.S. bombs/troops/drone strikes killed their cousin,uncle,brother,sister,mother,father.

                  1. All it takes to make them hate us is a magazine with scantily clad women. They go into high order hate when they see Burt Reynolds or Scott Brown in Cosmopolitan. Then along comes Internet porn… Apocalyptic-level hate.
                    Then someone has a draw Mohammed contest or names their teddy bear Mohammed.
                    The restrictions on our culture to relieve their hate are unacceptable to free western society. Either they change, or we kill them. There is no other choice.

                1. Yeah, but they hated us before we were there. Look, if you take them at their word, they hate us because of the Crusades.

                  Nothing we could have done would make them hate us less – it’s them, not us. Remember, we frigging won in Iraq, then walked away and once again left the people who had signed on to our side dangle in the wind at the mercy of the Iranians.

                  I would shift the anti-ISIS air strikes to B-52 arclight raids, arm the crap out of the Kurds and give the finger to the Turks, offer VA benefits to any US citizen one who goes and fights with the Syrian resistance for a year, run US SF ops across the region with very liberal ROE using up to Ranger batallion raids, and offer a bounty to the Iraqi army on any ISIS fighters they kill. No straight infantry needed.

                  1. Part of it is because their religion promises them MATERIAL domain over the world. They don’t have that. We do. We are the great satan, because clearly we stole their inheritance.

                  2. You’re right. They say they hate us because of the Crusades. And the United States didn’t come into existence until well after the Crusades were over. They hate us because- WE’RE US. We’re not them. And even worse, we’re successful. So we must have stolen from them, not worked hard. And so on and so forth…

                    1. They cannot reconcile one item of faith, that everything that happens is the Will of Allah, with the observation that the West, and the US as a superpower in particular, have worldwide domination and unthinkable material wealth, while they have sand and goats.

                      As Sarah notes, they are promised material ownership of everything if they just Follow The Rules – not if they Follow The Rules and Are Good Enough People, they just need to Follow the Rules.

                      It cannot possibly be that the Will of Allah is that the European and US infidels have wealth and power over the world.

                      Thus some have concluded that A) the West, and in particular the US, is somehow cheating the True Will of Allah*, and B) they are obviously not Following The Rules hard enough.

                      * Which thought raises some amazing theological questions if followed to the logical conclusion.

                  3. One simple rule which we would do well to follow is “support your friends, confront your enemies.” Being “even-handed” wins you nothing in that political arena (except to make both sides despise you.)

                    Given time (generations) and consistency, we can pry our allies from despotism by consistent pressure. Anything else will just convince everybody we are more dangerous as ally than as foe.

                  4. “they hate us because of the Crusades.”

                    Well, why shouldn’t they? There they were, innocently murdering and raping and robbing and enslaving the innocent, and someone had to go and fight back.

                    1. Bernard Lewis in his book “What Went Wrong” talks about this issue.

                      Part of his theme is that Muslims saw themselves as “part of God’s chosen religion intended to rule the world”.

                      Yet, this “second rate Religion” of Christianity was in charge of much of the World.

                      There was a time when Muslims in the Middle East could tell themselves that there was a time when Christendom fear them.

                      Then Christendom started intruding on their lands and they couldn’t stop Christians from doing so.

                      Their view of themselves (as Muslims) couldn’t stand the idea that Christendom was so much more powerful than them.

                      My thoughts follow.

                      Prior to the timeframe of WW2, the Muslims knew that if they “acted up” too much, Christendom would slap them down.

                      After WW2, Western Civilization lost faith in themselves (and their religion) and decided that non-Europeans had valid reasons to “act up” against them.

                      The Muslims now see us and our Religion as weak and think that if they can get back to the True Islam that they must have lost then Allah will give them victory against the non-Muslims.

                2. They have hated us since their inception. They have hated everything we stand for /from the time of Mohamed/. And they WILL try and take everything we have if we leave them alone. I didn’t have family friends go over there militarily… I was there personally, myself. My husband was there personally, himself, but I’m not speaking for him or the things he saw. I’m speaking for the things I, myself, saw.

                  The believe their destiny is to conquer this world. THIS one. In its entirety. Including the US since it has come into being. Let them fight amongst themselves? You’re assuming that’s all they ever did. History shows otherwise. Any time they got organized they tried to take over everyone around them. Consistently. Throughout History. ISIS tactics go back to the foundation of their religion, and which group by what name was trying to take over, behead, and mutilate whom has changed. The fundamental tactics haven’t. In nearly 2000 years.

                  They hated us before we laid a finger on them. They hated us because we have claimed a future. A good and prosperous future, one that their own holy book says belongs to them and tells them will belong to them if they just smash, behead, and destroy enough of the unbelievers.

                  Source: They, themselves. In so many words. This is something they proudly proclaim. That they have the right to take prosperity away from them through our wickedness and now they will punish us. (again, a translated direct quote.)

                  Nearly 2000 years of historical consistency does not leave me particularly confident they’ll just go fight only amongst themselves now.

                  1. Did you notice the first part of my comment where I said the current crop of jihadists/extremists/psychopaths must be extirpated first?
                    Ever time in history that that the followers of the pedophile “prophet” get out of control,invade other countries and attempt to establish a foothold on their global caliphate-a western power/country/group of countries does enough head chopping of their own to send the remaining musloids back to the middle east,where they fight among themselves for a few centuries-until the next psychopathic/sociopathic”caliph” comes along and whips the “true believers” into a frenzy for infidel blood-and the whole thing starts over again.
                    The psycho segment -the part that kills infidels,not the part that performs genital mutilations and subjugates women while they have sex with little boys and goats-never accepts defeat-they have a memory like an extremely jealous ex-ergo-they still call non-musloids crusaders.
                    Extirpate the current out of control groups,and there will not be enough jihadists to have anywhere near the effect that ISIS,Boko-Haram,AQ,AQAP, et-al currently enjoy.
                    It will take them several generations to resupply them selves with morons willing to yell allahu akbar before blowing themselves and as many innocents as possible up on their way to meet their 72 virgins,and enough little boys,camels and goats to molest,and women to subjugate.
                    Yes,American bombs,drone strikes,missile strikes,M-134 mini-gun attacks,special forces attacks,and snipes with .50 caliber Barrett M-107’s, assorted .300 Winchester magnum and Lapua .338 rifles making heads explode do in fact make them hate us even more.
                    As does CIA supported regime change-evil POS dictators in Muslim countries at least kept the attacks on infidels down to a minimum.

                    1. And my point, which you seem to have steadfastly missed, is that ISIS, Boko Haram, and their ilk are business as usual for the entire Muslim world (to the point that talking about kidnapping people, murdering them, and dumping the bodies in the desert is considered casual ‘what I did between seismic surveys’ in Libya). Jordan is the ONLY exception I know of and that’s because the king doesn’t let people get away with things, which is part of why the last two kings of Jordan have been assassinated (that and the fact they by and large leave Israel alone.)

                      Wipe out Isis and it’ll take MAYBE a year to replace it. Maybe. Arresting over 40k terrorists and killing similar numbers didn’t really dent Al Quiada’s numbers. You know what did? When the people started noticing that OUR people AIMED and THEIRS deliberately didn’t.

                      I was there. You weren’t. “Attacking them makes them hate us more” is like saying “adding soap to water makes it more wet, don’t add soap to it” when you’re getting sprayed with a firehose. At that point ‘more wet’ is completely irrelevant. The solution is to either turn off or divert the firehose. To carry the analogy further. Leaving them to fight amongst themselves wuld be like turning on a fire hose full bore and letting it do whatever it wants. Which means you’re going to get more than soaked if you’re in range. You’re probably going tog et bludgeoned to death. And with modern tech? “In Range” of Islamic Terrorism is anywhere on planet Earth.

                      The only way to turn off the firehose is to convince them that they actually CAN change their culture. And not just the Arab and Persian cultures. The MUSLIM culture. Because the terrorists aren’t just Arab and Persian. They’re dozens of kinds of African as well. They’re from the Asian Steppes. They’re from the Philipines. They’re from dozens of countries the world around. Yes, we need to shoot every terrorist who pops his head up where we can see it, but we need to show their women, who teach the children, that they don’t have to sit there and take it, and that they can leave. We’re talking a multi-generational requirement in which ‘leave them alone’ is guaranteed to destroy all the effort, all the blood, and all the deaths that ‘wipe out the terrorists’ caused. It’s guaranteed to make it all worthless. They did that to us once. Our current president did that to us once. Not again.

                    2. No,I didn’t miss any of your point.
                      You missed my point-the Muslim culture is not going to change-it hasn’t changed for centuries-and it ain’t going to change now because “the west” attempts to empower their women.
                      They need to be contained to where they are-the middle east,west Africa,part of west Asia-what doesn’t not need to happen is to spread the cancer that is Islam anywhere else on the planet.

                    3. Extirpate them.
                      Yes,there are hundreds of thousands of them in various countries-if all the fighting age men are gone,they will not pose a problem for at least 50 years or so.
                      So,yes,leaving them alone will contain them-after their fighting abilities are gone because there are no more psycho men left of fighting age,and the majority of the modern weapons are taken from them,so all they are left with are a few random A-K’s-the few that remain will not pose a problem to anyone,as they will be too busy trying to survive.
                      maybe in 50 years,some sociopathic Imam will get the young guys all torqued up,and then a few of them will blow themselves up in their quest for a global caliphate-and to meet their 72 virgins-but it would be a very few.

                    4. Please explain how ‘kill them all’ when you’re talking about between 10 and possibly as high as 50% of the population of entire nations does not contradict the ‘killing them is what makes them hate us so we should leave them alone so they won’t hate us as much.’

                    5. 1) I stated that killing muslims is the only reason they hate the west.
                      2) the number of jihadists is nowhere near 50% of the population of any muslim country.

                    6. Might want to check your history or actually go to a muslim country before you try and make point 2. Entire TRIBES (literal tribes, clan relationships) signed up for Al Qaeda. I don’t know what the percentage is. Why? Because the Jihadists aren’t radicals. They’re run of the mill every day muslims when it comes to muslim countries. Kidnap someone, murder them, dump the body in the desert? Business as usual to be discussed casually along with vacation plans and family time when you go to the next project with that oil company drilling over there. Why are they upset? Wimps.

                      As for point 1. 1400 years of invading their neighbors. Going to THEM not the other way around. Quit painting them as the innocent victims in this.

                    7. That should have read killing muslims is NOT the only reason they hate the west-that’s how I typed it-no idea why the word not did not show up in my comment.

                    8. 1) I stated that killing muslims is the only reason they hate the west.

                      The only reason? I hardly think so. The toxic cultural sludge our entertainment industry dumps on them, destabilizing their societies is certainly one, and the obscene license we grant our women is undoubtedly another, taunting their young men and encouraging willfulness in their girls is another.

                    9. That was a mistake-should have read that killing muslims was NOT the only reason they hate the west-no idea how the word not ended up disappearing-I wrote “is not the only reason”-go back and read my other comments-and yu will se that I never stated that killing muslims was the only reason they hate the west.

                    10. How do you propose to ‘extirpate’ ISIS et ala? You act like there’s a few thousand of them. Rather than HUNDREDS of thousands of them scattered all over the world.

                    11. You’re backing yourself into a corner: We can change the fundamental culture that is the problem. or we can wipe it from the face of the earth. Anything else is a stop gap and the delay isn’t measured in centuries. It’s measured in years.

                    12. You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean… I also don’t think (and you have not demonstrated) that you have any even vague comprehension of how that would have to work, nor how your stated goal of ditching the whole region would interact with a culture that holds grudges for centuries. (clue: ‘Eye for an Eye and a tooth for a tooth’ was backing things off by around five orders of magnitude.) Also clue: This isn’t just the Arabs and the Persians. Every other Muslim culture has the exact same problem.

                    13. The muslim cultures in the middle east were holding grudges against other muslim tribes in the region long before there was any U.S. intervention in the region.
                      Take out the psychos who are supplying the cannon fodder jihadists for ISIS,AQ,et-al and the rest go back to fighting with neighboring tribes.

                    14. 1400 years of history strongly suggests otherwise. They’ve been trying to conquer anyone they come in contact with since the days of Mohamed. Read the accounts of Byzantium. Read the accounts of the southern Russias (Yes, prior to the mid 1500s there were multiple Russias.) Read the accounts of the Muslim conquests of a good chunk of the Iberian peninsula that were stopped by the Francs (the first people who pushed back against them and not only stopped them but won.) The result? The first crusade and the Spanish REconquesta. Look into the nasty things the Ottomans were doing in Romania. Research the history of Africa as they pushed across that continent over the past several centuries. Do they fight amongst themselves? Yes. It hasn’t stopped them from trying to conquer their neighbors consistently and constantly since their inception.

                    15. Yes,the muslims are and have been trying to establish a “global caliphate”
                      Killing off the jihadists will lead to them only fighting in their own countries/neighboring countries for at least the next 50 years-maybe longer.

                    16. The women teach the children — and do the stuff themselves — because they support it. You can not expect to “teach” them as if they were merely ignorant.

                      Some may be redeemable. As may some of the men be.

                    17. Except, Mary, I’ve seen it happen. With my own eyes. By ones and twos. The light goes on that there ARE other ways, and that those ways work. It’s glacially slow. quite possibly tectonically slow, but I’ve seen those lights go on behind miserable eyes. I’ve seen women leave Islam when they realized they had the choice to do so. Again, it’s a slow process. Which is why I said it would be a multi-generational solution, and No, I don’t know if it’ll actually happen in any kind of quantity.

                      As for the women who do these things I know better than you what women do and what children as young as six do. “Here kid $50 to throw this grenade at the American. $100 if you kill them.” A woman walking down the road with a severed head in each hand.

                      And you know what terrified them the most? Us. They close their borders because we were living proof that their false god was false. That they didn’t have to live that way, that their way could NOT inherit the earth.

                    18. You’ve seen it happen with SOME women. For all you know, you could have seen it with SOME men. That was what I observed.

                  2. “The believe their destiny is to conquer this world.”

                    So if we move off world they’ll leave us alone?

                    (How do you pray to Mecca when you’re on an extraterrestrial or extra-solar colony?)

                    1. How do you pray to Mecca when you’re on an extraterrestrial or extra-solar colony?

                      More than one SciFi book has solved that problem by pointing out that, at the distances involved, merely facing Earth necessarily means facing Mecca.

                    2. With the rotation of the galaxy, planet, and much more, that’s not much of a solution.

                      Especially since there is an official ruling that once you have determined the qibla direction, it’s not supposed to change.

                    3. OTOH, some iman or other issued a fatwa that said that going to Mars was haram on the grounds it was — ta-da! — dangerous.

                    4. Well IIRC, plenty of people thought that the project in question was poorly planned and would be suicide for the people going to Mars via that project.

                      So while I don’t think much of the average Iman, in that case he had a valid point. [Wink]

              2. There was an hysterical reaction among some movie reviewers to “World War Z” because the Israelis wall themselves in and the rest of the MIddle East do eat each other.

            2. No. There you’re dead wrong. The reason that America-hating extremists in Moslem regions had America is due to Islam and the doctrine and dogma of the Quran. No other reason.


              1. The fact that their uncle,cousin,aunt,brother sister,children,parents-or the entire family’s wedding party were killed in a U.S. drone strike,or by a “smart” bomb,or hit with 1,000 rounds from an M-134 mini-gun has no effect on their hatred of the U.S.?

                1. I’d say that it would make their hatred greater but they may have very well hated the US before hand.

                  Sorry, you are thinking that the *only* reason Muslims hate the US is the actions against Muslims in the Middle East.

                  The rest of us are saying that their religion gives them reasons to hate the US even if the US “left them alone”.

                  1. Their “religion” is not a religion-it’s a political ideolgy that demands they kill all infidels who refuse to convert to Islam,or pay them protection money.
                    They hate everyone who isn’t a follower of their pedophile prophet.
                    Killing a bunch of them just makes it worse.

                    1. too bad the religion encourages them to do more. tis like whack-a-mole. the ONLY thing that satisfies the ‘religion” is the total submission and subjugation of the rest of the world. They rant (with help from our idjit leftoids) about the flipping Crusades, which were a response to their invasion of the holy lands. They don’t need an excuse to be “radical” because the nut-job who formed their creed was whack-job number one.

                    2. In Tom Kratman’s Caliphate which features an America where it’s basically illegal to be Muslim (among other things), an American is visiting that time’s South Africa (which is much different from the one of today) and sees an Islamic house of worship. He wonders about it and his guide tells him that any time an Islamic preacher starts “ranting” about “Holy War”, the South Africans unleash the Zulus onto him & his followers. Apparently (in story) the South Africans have little problem with Muslims. [Very Big Evil Grin]

                    3. I picked up Caliphate when it was for free… and read it in a few hours a couple of weeks ago. Not so much for the mil-adventure … but for the totally horrifying way that Germany … devolved. No better term to use, really. The Germans in the narrative welcomed in their conquerors, made every possible excuse for them, damned every voice that said “Erm … hold on, not a good way to go,” and in the end, made for themselves an Islamic-ruled, slave-hell on earth.
                      Internet commentors keep using The Camp of the Saints in talking about the current influx of refugees these days. I keep looking at the news reports and thinking of Caliphate.

                  1. ISIS,Al-Queda,Boko-Haram AQAP et-al need to be extirpated first-then the U.S. needs to get out of the region.
                    No more of this horsepucky of dropping leaflets 45 minutes prior to bombing oil trucks-extirpate every one these extremist groups,then the rest of the population can go back to the Sunni-vs-Shia,and tribe -vs-tribe warfare that’s been going on in the region for centuries.

            3. Leaving is just going to result in another ISIS in a handful of years. They don’t hate us because of our meddling, they hate us because we constantly show up their religion. Fixing the problem in the Middle East is a project on part with fixing Germany and Japan and is going to require a similar level effort.

              Importing hundreds of thousands into a population of hundreds of millions is no threat, and even if the immigrants have no intention of assimilating, their children and grandchildren are another story.

              1. Jeff, they hate us because their religion commands them to hate all non-believers. When your faith divides the whole world into the House of Peace (Islam) and the House of War (everyone else), not even Douglas MacArthur is going to make a dent.

                It’s also designed to be immune to Reformation or amendment by later revelation. Bottom line: outside a couple of minor sects (who are considered non-Islamic by both Sunni AND Shia), any Muslim who isn’t practicing jihad against the infidel whether open or covert isn’t actually practicing Islam as revealed in the Koran. I know; I read the thing, and in proper order; that’s when I learned about abrogation.

                Islam is either going to disappear, or be quarantined and pruned back every couple of generations.

                1. People are above all rationalizing animals. They can and will interpret plain language to suit their needs, just look at the debate over the Second Amendment here. The problem isn’t as bad as you think – if a stong majority of the 1 billion Muslims were at war with us, we’d know – the key is to change Arab and Persian culture so that they will prune the violent jihadis before they grow to be a significant problem. I think Persian culture is the logical place to start, historically they’ve been more western oriented and the current religious extremism is a rather new overlay.

              2. “Importing hundreds of thousands into a population of hundreds of millions is no threat, and even if the immigrants have no intention of assimilating, their children and grandchildren are another story.”

                The probem is the children and grandchildren do not assimilate either-look at Dearborn Michigan,Hamtramck Michigan for examples.

        2. The college students protesting are a tiny minority. The biggest problem I’m seeing with college students is varieties of crazy libertarianism, including but not limited to voluntarianism.

          1. Maybe a minority-but they are controlling the narrative-in Ohio there’s one heck of a lot more far left-leaning college kids than libertarians.
            I’ve got nieces and nephews in Kent State,Ohio State,Ohio University,Case Western,and Cleveland State,been to all of the above in the past couple months.
            Maybe the students in Colorado got sick of the marxists/leftists?

      2. I heard a guy from USC’s School of International Relations speak last week. His comment regarding Obama’s foreign policy was that the guy has no grand vision, and was instead content to “muddle through” everything that happens on his watch. That doesn’t mean that Obama isn’t motivated by his anti-colonialism ideas. But it means that Obama is reacting to pretty much everything that happens. And at least some of his actions have been spur of the moment decisions in order to placate the base back home when he knows that they’ll be disappointed with a domestic decision.

  12. Look at the price of food, it’s nearly tripled in the last seven years. And every time someone tells me how good it is, I ask them why have prices doubled and tripled if there is no inflation?
    Why are more people out of work than ever before, if there is no unemployment?
    Why are sales down every year, over the year before, if people are spending money?
    And how can they be so stupid as to not believe what is actually going on in front of their face?

    I am amazed by how many formerly liberal friends over the last seven years are now siding with me on economic issues and are rebuking the left. They’re starting to see how more than half of their income is going to taxes, to pay for people who sit on their butts and only get off them to commit crime.

    It isn’t going to be pretty when things come to a head, and that is going to happen, I just hope it happen soon, because the sooner it does, the less messy it will be.

    As for our President, I think it’s safe to say he has suffered a psychotic break from reality. It’s blatantly obvious that he is no longer living in the real world. I’ll be surprised at this point if he makes it to the end of his term and doesn’t end up in a hospital first. He’s gone completely around the bend.

    1. “Conspiracy Idea”.

      He’s already gone completely insane but his handlers and the News Media are covering it up. [Very Big Evil Grin]

      1. I hope you are wrong, but I’m very afraid you are correct. He already had a narcissist personality, and now that even Democrats are criticizing him, his skin isn’t thick enough to take much of a beating.

        1. It is entirely plausible that he is no more crazy today than he was when he was elected. You’ve heard my theories about that.

          If he is entirely sane, I have no idea what sanity is.

          As for conspiracy at the beginning, it isn’t needed if there is a common set of blindspots.

          Look at some of these people who seem to think that someone can expect a long and healthy life taking PCP for jollies.

            1. All I could find relating to that was the old news about Valeria Jarrett and Iran, as well as the gays at his old church being murdered.

      2. He wouldn’t be the first President that that’s happened too. I think that a good case could be made that that happened to Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

  13. I comment infrequently and primarily lurk since the blog communities I visit most often have the topic of the day well in hand.

    Since the issue of job training/education weighs so heavy on young people, I’ll reiterate some of what was mentioned already. STEM remains valuable, since it is linked to concrete objectives. If you can handle the math, and the prospect of crunching numbers does not fill you with dread, it’s a good option.

    Some of us can’t handle STEM level math, even if we are good with words. Supporting jobs in welding and machining, building trades and other technical school training are probably the best value in education today. In my opinion, we ought to pare down some of the fluffier high school electives to give every high school graduate a handle on one of these fields, even if the student never plans on using the skill. It’s very handy to have a fallback option. Bills need to be paid, after all.

  14. Speaking of apprenticeships, the military has some nifty things going on as far as credentialing people. Of course you have your rate or MOS, but there are also opportunities to get personal training or financial planning certifications, mostly just by documenting the collateral duty stuff you do. Depends on rate and collateral duties what is available. As far as main rates, though, the Seabee rates in the Navy are easily transferable as civilian trades: electrician, equipment operator, utilityman (plumber), constructionman. Hull technician would be another good one. Me, I am in no way mechanically inclined, which is why I am not a nuke.

    1. Indeed. Navy manuals for welding, machining and the like can be downloaded for free. I spent my enlisted time as one of the Army’s galley slaves. Still useful, but not as lucrative later.

  15. I work for a university, and I am amazed at the faculty’s ability to disconnect the reality that they see and touch every day from the “official” reality. The objective fact is that the Obama years have been the worst economic times that this school has seen since its founding in the 1920s. We have not have a raise in 8 years, staff is being cut, benefits are being cut, the ratio of adjunct faculty (who don’t get bupkis for benefits) to full time faculty is the highest it’s ever been, and tenure is being awarded at the lowest rate ever.

    Despite all of the evidence which is around them constantly, their greatest fear seems to be that a Republican might win the 2016 presidential election and end the wonderful era of prosperity that Obama ushered in.

    1. Aye, that sounds like academia. And that as they bemoan the lack of tenured positions for their pet grad students and talk about grad student unions and why they’re not getting good grad students at [U] because of the lack of benefits offered and if the state would quit cutting funding and tuition hikes are too high and . . . I do agree with the problem of the administrator:faculty ratio, though. But how much of that was self inflicted with the rise of hyphenated-studies and calls for “special support and outreach to previously underserved communities?”

  16. “I also doubt many government bureaucrats and high elected officials are suffering, as their jobs usually include very generous perqs and benefits. ”

    Civil service federal jobs currently pay on average almost double private sector equivalent work.

  17. Gosh. Wonder how “younger son” managed to be an un-Bernie! I also loved the bit, a while back, about older son tumbling to the fact the media lies: girls just want to be space princesses.

  18. Presented as a stand alone entry without additional comment:

    Yale med school dean answers student demands for ‘anti-oppressive curricular reform’
    Dave Huber – Assistant Editor •November 28, 2015

    Yale School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern recently addressed the demands of 98 medical students, leading him to “propos[e] several new measures to improve the School’s diversity.”

    He recommended a Chief Diversity Officer for the med school, and will ask the college’s Curriculum Committee “to assess teaching related to health disparities and social justice issues, as well as support University training of medical school administrators to better recognize and combat racism and bias.”

    The 98 students had submitted a letter to the dean back on November 16 which included six demands and 35 “sub demands.”

    They include a call for an “anti-oppressive” curriculum, and “diversification of the faculty and student bodies and a new means of reporting biases to the school’s administration.”

    The Yale Daily News reports:

    Alpern said the subjection of certain students at the medical school to microaggressions and other negative behavior was “intolerable for them” and “unacceptable to everyone at Yale School of Medicine.” He also referenced last week’s message from University President Peter Salovey to the Yale community entitled “Toward a Better Yale,” adding that the school of medicine “wholeheartedly supports the president’s commitment to building a better, more diverse, and more inclusive Yale.”

    In addressing the issue of faculty diversity at the medical school, Alpern said that despite the administration’s commitment to diversifying the faculty, efforts toward this have not been as successful as hoped.

    “The medical school administration has long recognized the need to expand the diversity of the School’s faculty, but while their commitment to this aim has been great, success at recruiting a more diverse faculty has not,” Alpern wrote in the email.

    Alpern added that he was “committed to an institutional process” through which the (med) school’s curriculum would be examined — to determine whether it “adequately addresses issues of structural racism and health inequity.”

    Hey, wouldn’t you want to see a doctor who took classes that were “anti-oppressive” in nature … instead of concentrating on things like anatomy, physiology etc. ?

      1. Make sure it’s in a heavily urban area… ;D

        I worked as a unit secretary for the Burn Trauma unit at Norfolk General 20+ years ago, and was there when we had to lock down the place because we had a patient injured in a gang shootout admitted and there were ‘concerns’ that the other side might want to finish him off since the other guy died.

    1. teaching related to health disparities

      Does this mean that they want the school to teach students about the varying affects of medicines based on human genotype?

      Oh, wait, that would be racist….

  19. I remember back in high school (graduated 1973) one of things oft talked about was that if only Western leaders had read what Hitler wrote- and believed him. They would have stopped him long before total war erupted. And now I look at what imams, ayatollahs, now a self proclaimed caliph, and other major muslim religious leaders write and say, and see all the people I went to HS with who turned out liberal ignoring all of it. After all, how in this day and age could they possibly be serious? I mean, how could someone in this day and age possibly believe that the 12th imam is going to arise from a well somewhere? Isn’t that laughable? What they don’t understand is- muslims aren’t laughing. They believe it. They believe oral polio vaccine is a plot by the West to destroy muslim fertility. The thoroughly debunked Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian work of disinformation, is a constant best seller in sharialand, and is considered an important piece of knowledge. Mein Kampf in Arabic is also a best seller. Now, I’ve read it. Along with Das Kapital, The Blue Book of the John Birch Society, The Communist Manifesto, and others, to learn about crazies. They’re reading Mein Kampf as a lesson and guide. Sharialand is full of conspiracy theory believers, of all kinds of conspiracies.

    We’re in a generation war. In all actuality, just another phase of a war that has been going on since Mohammed himself. But with modern travel, modern communications, and modern weapons, they’re able to project the war beyond their own borders. A single jihadist, largely due to advances in western culture, can do much more damage now then one could in 1550. In 1550, a lone jihadist wouldn’t have been able to wander freely through Paris looking for a target. And a suicide belt wouldn’t have been nearly as deadly, assuming one could get it to explode to begin with.

  20. So, I have an honest question because I agree with the good folks on here advocating STEM fields as one of the last, albeit dwindling, bastions of intelligence on university campuses. What about people who cannot compete in the STEM fields? I found out only a couple years ago, well into my adult life, that I had dysnumeria (something that was not even a consideration when I was in elementary school). I struggle to balance a checkbook or compute the tip at a restaurant. I had wanted to study genetics when I was in college, but I couldn’t pass the first calculus course and I nearly flunked the introductory chemistry course (although in my defense, I had to test into the intro chem course, so getting a seat in the class meant that I had already demonstrated a certain proficiency).

    Now, I am studying for my Masters in history with the hope of going on to get my PhD. I am passionate about history – finding history as it truly was, not how the postmodernist PC crowd would like it to be. However, I am well aware that outside of becoming a professor, my degrees will be less than worthless (I still have student debt despite being awarded a pretty sweet grad assistantship).

    But me in a STEM field? That would have been an unmitigated disaster. And technical schools? Many of those now cost far more than they will yield. So what happens to people like me? What happens to the people who try and fail and cannot meet the intellectual demands of a STEM program?

    1. What happens to the people who try and fail and cannot meet the intellectual demands of a STEM program?

      Probably pretty much the same thing as happens to somebody who gets a PhD in History and doesn’t swear fealty to the present fashions of historical revisionism.

      Note, however, the number of people recommending considering being a welder, plumber, electrician or the like, and consider that those trades can yield to contracting. Check out The Millionaire Next Door and keep in mind Mr. Micawber’s advice:

      “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
      Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

      1. “Probably pretty much the same thing as happens to somebody who gets a PhD in History and doesn’t swear fealty to the present fashions of historical revisionism.”

        Truth be told, this part I can handle. I have been fortunate in that while studying for both my majors (Classics and History) and for my post-bacc cert and now for my Masters, I have encountered professors who, while we might disagree, respect my opinion. Some of it might be because I have zero interest in backing down in a debate, but much of it is because I have been fortunate to have worked with truly intellectual people who recognize that the point of an education is not to create right-think clones. As for the ones who I will meet who want to play politics? I worked for the state of California and all of the insanity that such a job entails. Bring it.

        My concern as I follow my present path is actually the students who are now acting like little tyrants trying – and succeeding – to censor their professors, their peers, the admins, the janitor cleaning up the puke puddles from the little crybabies, whoever. I will be the first to say that the universities have brought it upon themselves, but it is a shame to see we are coming to such a chaotic point in academic history. I intend to hang in there and see how everything will look when I have finished with my PhD. Who knows, perhaps the pendulum will have swung the other way.

        1. I have great hopes that you can find a niche in academia where you can be a voice reaching out to the choir. Indeed, some Left-Wingers (e.g., Cornell West of Princeton — see: powerlineblog[DOT]com/archives/2015/11/a-princeton-postscript.php) are dedicated to academic freedom and we can hope their voices get heard.

          Two items today, first as noted by Glenn Reynolds (himself, along with the members of the Vo# Conspiracy standing in evidence that there is room in academia for disparate voices) noted this:

          OKLAHOMA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University! “If you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.”

          Second, the always informative John McWhorter writing today in the Wall Street Journal:

          Closed Minds on Campus
          Today’s student protesters start with valuable observations, writes John H. McWhorter, but then they drift into a mistaken idea of what a university—and even a society—should be
          By JOHN H. MCWHORTER
          Updated Nov. 27, 2015 9:29 a.m. ET

          From the aggrieved pitch of recent student protests against racism, the naive observer might be surprised that we are now 50 years past the 1960s. Today’s protesters have not endured the open hostility and dismissal that James Meredith did as the first African-American student at Ole Miss in 1962, when white students turned their backs on him in the cafeteria and bounced a basketball in the room over his at all hours of the night. As a black college student in the early 1980s, my experience felt different enough from his that it never occurred to me to characterize my school, Rutgers University, as a “racist campus.”

          Of course, it was part of a racist America, and so I encountered discrimination here and there. The girl at the open-mic night who opened with “What do you call 150 black people at the bottom of the ocean? A good start!” The German teacher who told me I was in the wrong class the second I walked in and openly despised me for the rest of the semester. The frat boys yelling “Zebra!” as I passed with a white girl I dated.

          But I was too busy with the other 99.7% of my life to really focus on such things—maybe being an introverted geek was part of it? Under the current campus Zeitgeist, I was nevertheless behind the curve. The new idea is that even occasionally stubbing your toe on racism renders a university a grievously “unsafe space” and justifies students calling for the ouster of a lecturer who calls for reasoned discussion (Yale) and even of a dean stepping down in shame for an awkwardly worded email (Claremont McKenna).

          It’s true that the civil-rights victories of the 1960s left a lot of work to do. We should not expect a black Yale student to shrug it off if a fraternity member says a party is for “white girls only,” as has been alleged. Campus police must conquer any leaning toward treating students of color like potential criminals. There is also a strong case for removing the name and face of Woodrow Wilson from Princeton’s campus, as protesters there have demanded. When I think of Wilson, I always think of him declaring that the nakedly racist 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation” was “history written with lightning” and evicting black leaders from the Oval Office for deigning to express their grievances uncompromisingly.

          However, something is off about today’s student protests. The protesters may start with valuable observations, but then they drift into a mistaken idea of what a university—and even a society—should be.

          Nowhere is this clearer than in the now-standard demand that all members of the university community attend a new battery of tutoring on the nature and power of racism. The demand at Yale is for “mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff,” plus orientation programs that “explore diversity and inclusion.” The University of Missouri protesters want a “comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units, faculty, staff, and administration.”

          The problem is that the university campus is already one of the most exquisitely racially sensitized contexts a human being will ever encounter in America—a place where, for example, comedians such as Chris Rock have stopped performing because audiences are so P.C. In what way exactly will further workshops, teach-ins and classes on “racial sensitivity” create real change? Many students have already gone through these types of programs (as I mentioned in a short piece I wrote for the European edition of Politico last week), but the call for more of them suggests their insufficiency in the eyes of the protesters.

          Since the 1980s, anyone familiar with the college campus scene knows that in private moments, undergraduates of all colors tend to wryly dismiss the “diversity” workshops they had to attend at the start of freshman year as hollow exercises. No one on record has created a program or method on “racial sensitivity” that would do a better job and transform minds in a new way. “Racial awareness training”—the words resonate. But these programs are now eons old. More of these programs would be like thinking a car will run better with more gasoline.

          RTWT – if the linked version is hidden behind the WSJ paywall, pick an idiosyncratic phrase and Google for it; that ought turn up a free version of the essay.

          1. Oops! I blanked on the name of professor Volokh and used a place saver — Vo# Conspiracy — meaning to look it up before posting.

            Time for this one to go bed!

          2. Thanks for those links – it’s always refreshing to be reminded that there are still pockets of sanity on university campuses. What works in my favor is that, unlike many of my fellow students, I would prefer to get on with a small private college. The pay isn’t as good and the position isn’t prestigious, but those colleges are usually (please note the choice of “usually” and not of “always”) more interested in developing well-rounded students capable of nuanced reasoning.

        2. I was going to suggest classics and language as having at least something real at their heart. I took languages (multiple) because I have the same problem you do, and it wasn’t diagnosed till I was in my thirties.
          Here’s the thing: both my kids have it too, but do great in math. If you know what it is, there are tricks and exercises to cope with you. Since you’re way younger than I am, you might want to find them (there should be sites on line) and give them a try. The ones I taught the kids, I taught myself — way too late.

          1. You have dysnumeria? Huh, I learn something new every day. Out of curiosity, do you also struggle with the actual concept of numbers? As in, does the very idea of how a 2 and another 2 should become a 4 seem like a nonsensical abomination? It makes as much sense to me as saying green + chair = carburetor. Learning basic arithmetic was an unholy nightmare.

            I’m currently in my thirties and I feel as though it’s a bit late for me, but I would like to at least not be a complete imbecile any time numbers appear. I’ll have to go and google for tricks and exercises because everything that I initially read about the disorder made it sound as though there was nothing to be done except wallow in a lifetime of numerical ineptitude. Besides which, should I have children, I would like to be able to confront this potential problem so that they don’t find themselves limited by something fixable.

            Thank you!

            1. No. You obviously have it far more severely than I. I actually love higher math concepts, the kind that is all … feeling and images. BUT 452 and 254 are the SAME NUMBER to me. When doing long calculations, multiplying and dividing can easily be confused. The result I end with can be… interesting. That is fun when measuring for carpentry, too. I’ve come to just draw a shape on newsprint then cut from that.
              It’s a brain defect that — weirdly — affects brains pre-disposed to math (genetically), so yes, work arounds are good, so the kids don’t have to deal with it. And then you might find they’re actually mathematical geniuses, much to your shock.
              (Btw, I DO understand what you mean about 2+2 = 4 making NO SENSE. I mean, I can see where your head is in that. It’s a failure of abstraction. I think younger kid had this issue, but he seems to have got past it.)

    2. Have you looked at History Associates or Historical Research Associates? They do historical research for governments and private companies. You can start with an MA if you have some good research skills. If you know a little GIS (putting data on maps) you have a big leg up.

      1. I had honestly never heard of Historical Research Associates. That gives me something to go look up and consider. Thanks!

  21. My dad, an electrical engineer, has been laid off once a year for the last 7. This last time, he was off for 6 months. He’s got a good reputation in the industry and people come looking for him when they know he’s available and healthy. It’s the “healthy” bit that’s getting trickier.

    My mom, 1 semester shy of being a kindergarten teacher, was a corporate sales trainer for years. Laid off about 5 years ago and hasn’t had any luck finding new work so has decided she’ll teach the grandkids.

    My husband and I have been steadily, if not necessarily well, employed for the last 4 years. My parents are on us to buy a house but when my dad makes more in a week than we make in a month combined, it’s really hard to explain just how very broke we are in any way that makes sense. We currently owe more in student loan debt than my parents paid for their first house. Having looked through the paperwork, we’re within spitting distance of what they paid for their second.

    Hearing a lot of “Well, you should have done this” and “You should have done that” doesn’t help when we’re looking around and saying “Yeah, but what do we do NOW?” The phrase “Get a better job” is met with manic laughter, occasionally followed by tears and drinking.

    Do we talk about this everyday? Of course not! Hey! Things are getting better! We can buy groceries and we’re not on the verge of being homeless anymore. For now. And if one of us loses our job, we’re dead in the water. There is no backup.

    There is, however, writing. I can play with my imaginary friends some days and sometimes my stories make a little money. Sometimes enough to pay for a new heater for my car (February this year, $850, all from Amazon) and sometimes it’s just enough to cover the gas to get to work (last month) but it’s there and it’s a relief to have it coming in.

    1. ““Yeah, but what do we do NOW?” The phrase “Get a better job” is met with manic laughter, occasionally followed by tears and drinking.”

      Preach it! Let me buy you a round – name your poison but it had better not be top shelf because I’m living on a stipend and loans. *grins and reaches for the cheap tequila because after a couple shots, who cares about the quality* But seriously, I know the feeling. I’m not even sure how I would change things for the better. I lament that I’m not intellectually capable of pursuing the STEM fields, but two of my friends have civil engineering degrees and both have been through the revolving door or unemployment several times. My sister has a biology degree and is currently miserable as a high school teacher paying off a whopping amount of student debt (apparently, programs for Masters of Education do not offer assistantships and they are expensive as all get out).

      Now is just a difficult time to be trying to get on one’s feet (and by “now” I mean “darned near the last decade”).

      Congrats on earning at least some supplementary income on your writing. At least you’ve found a way to make your imaginary friends pull their weight around the house. Mine just take up residence, drink all the milk and don’t shut up when I’m reading. I would like to be a writer, but alas, I am ungifted in the creative writing area, so I just write for my own enjoyment.

      1. There is no such thing as ungifted in writing, or at least not more so than I. Get yourself a library copy of Dwight Swain Techniques of the Selling writer, and start making the little stories pay their way 😉

        1. I just went and requested it through interlibrary loan. I know what I’ll be reading over my Christmas break. 🙂 I’ve tried for the past five years to get my short stories publishes in a pro (or semi-pro) magazine with no luck and I’m about willing to try anything short of making a Faustian bargain. *whistles with complete innocence while scuffing the pentagram off the floor*

          Thanks again!

          1. Having once donned the makeup and attire to present the appearance of him who resides way below (and I don’t mean that tentacle-faced kid, either) I found it rather astonishing how willing people were to sign a somewhat singed contract.

          2. I tried to write for 10 years. Then I bought this book, I confess, because it was on library loan, and I had a “free x size box of books” and a hole in it. I waited till I’d read everything else to read this. The first time I opened it, I was like “oh, shoot, I know that. yeah, I know that too.” And then it was “wait, what?” I still re-read it every few years. The first story I wrote after reading that book sold, and almost every story I’ve written since has sold. AND then it repeated the trick for my kids and my husband. So. Fingers crossed. Good luck.

            1. On the whole “oh, shoot, I know that. yeah, I know that too.” thing: sometimes it is what you know that isn’t so that matters more than what you don’t know.

              Alternatively, just because you know every letter in the alphabet doesn’t mean you can read. It is all a matter of putting together the things you know.

            2. The one that did it for me was ‘how to write science fiction and fantasy’ by Orson Scott Card. (I may have the title a little messed up). But my ah-ha moment was the chapter on the MICE bit.
              I loaned that book out to someone years ago (Mauser maybe?) wish I could remember who.

        2. Dwight was a good friend, and his book is one of the few “How to write” books I’d ever recommend. Jack Woodford wrote books for writers that are worth reading; not politically correct, and some godawful stuff, but he’s seen the elephant.

      2. That’s how it starts, you know. You start writing because you want to read a story nobody else is writing and you keep doing it until you get the feeling somebody else might want to read it, too.

        And tell me about how much a Masters of Education costs. My husband has one. We both have retail jobs.

        And I don’t drink tequila…without salt and lime. Shooting it out your nose when drinking it straight kinda kills the taste for it. I prefer wine, cheap and sweet and probably very bad for me. Especially since, when I start to drink, I start to look at places to learn welding. My husband, the bastard, reminds me about why I’m not allowed near the frying oil or sharp knives and I have another glass.

        1. Oh retail jobs. I am very sorry. I know they pay the bills, but they’re definitely the sort of job where you spend a lot of your day looking around thinking, “And I owe [i]how[/i] much in student loans for this?”

          I am currently out of limes, but I do have a cheap bottle of chianti and a bottle of cabernet sauvignon that I opened for Thanksgiving and they aren’t going to drink themselves (although they seem to be trying – every time I walk by, more of it is gone).

          1. If it’s any consolation, I’m very, very good at my job and my boss seems to know that. It doesn’t console me any but if it helps you, I’m willing to share.
            Your cabernet can join my pink moscato and I will lift a glass to the quietly desperate. At least this one does not require mouth to mouth resuscitation, only to be killed by the cure.

        2. Try Portuguese wine. It’s cheap and quite nice. Verde, any variety of verde is very sweet. Maybe I should come up with a bottle, and we can drink while I tell you we’re never going to find a house…

  22. Historically, story tellers have thrived in economic hard time; literary writers have not done so well. It certainly has worked that way for me over fifty years. And now I’m doing fine.

    Few places give an education. They sell credentials. Understanding that is important.

    The Kahn academy teaches math through calculus as well as any University, and you can buy “Calculus Made East” on line as a supplementary text. With background in calculus — which can be acquired with hard work and meticulous working the lesson problems even though you understand the concepts; you must do the work also — with background in calculus you are ready for Feynman’s lectures on physics. They ar e available on ;line as well as his textbooks. There is no better way to learn physics that from Dick Feynman. None.

    With Feynman and calculus you are ready to go buy a credential; you will get A’s. Other subjects are available the same way; these I happen to know about.

    Remember the goal is no longer to go to university for an education: it is to go buy a credential; with proper preparation you graduate in top 10% of your class, which is always interesting to employment recruiters.

    It’s hard work, but in fact you save time and money; and much of the best really is available free on line. You have to buy your credential in this equal opportunity world which is equal opportunity only to those with the credentials; but education need not cost much.

    Some of the greatest lectures in history pof Western Civilization are also free on line; Much of George Mosse is available. Once again it is for education, not a credential; buying credentials is a different process.

    Give up the notion that education is the business of the schools of “higher education:; they sold out that long ago along with their intellectual independence. Now they sell credentials. You need them; shop wisely.

    You also need education. That takes work. Fortunately it is mostly free. Start with Kahn for calculus, supplemented with Calculus Made Easy; then tackle Feynman, which will be hard work but rewarding. Do the same in pother subjects you need to learn for your chosen profession.

    If by some chance you are interested in mine, find the forty — fifth? — year old RAND document, Hermann Kahn’s Techniques of Systems Analysis. I guarantee you’ll need calculus for that, too. Won’t get you a credential but understanding what Herman is saying will teach you to do the job. You can then shop for a credential.

    Story tellers do well in hard economic times. Literary writers generally do not.

    1. Jerry, somewhere in “A Step Farther Out you said that the time was coming that just about anything that can be known will be instantly available. That time is now, but so many people don’t really understand the full implications of that. I can’t count the number of times where somebody says, I don’t know anything about whatever when whatever is a google search and wiki away. There’s also the fact that well facts can be checked. It’s harder to push the global warming hypothesis simply because so much data is there to find immediately if you care to look. Which is why the skeptics are so effective and how they became skeptics in the first place. When you find issues with weather station placement and get smeared for it the defenders of global warming have not covered themselves with glory.

    2. In the 70’s my professor’s advice was: If there is any book you want to buy, it is ‘The Feynman Lectures on Physics’. It was a bit pricey in the old days, but his clarity of presentation are second to none.

    3. This is my plan when we’re all moved, the kids are out of the house, and I can then learn for learning. I also intend to go back to Latin and Greek.
      My kids started asking for “Great Courses” in STEM for Christmas in their early teens. I viewed this as a good sign. We trade places we found free lectures like people trade baseball cards.
      It’s a great time to love learning. You have a banquet in front of you.
      At my age I don’t anticipate needing a credential, and though I LOVE teaching in college, I hate the mountains of paperwork that — more and more — come with the job. Compliance for this and assurance for that… No. I think I won’t need credentials, even if it made mom happy if I went back and got my doctorate. (One year to go when I jumped across the ocean and got married.)
      OTOH right now — RIGHT NOW — other than finding a house to buy, I’m concentrating on getting well enough to hit writing-speed again. Because you are right, and I’ve seen it. Story tellers do well in hard times.

      1. Wasn’t talking about you and self education. I meant the kids. They need credentials. Universities sell them But know that most of the classes until you get well into upper division are taught by grad students or adjuncts, and a good percentage of the grad students don’t speak English well and some not at all.

        You need the credential — an A or at worst B in the class, but you aren’t going to learn it from the chap teaching it — although you WILL learn what is mandated by one or another authority, and it’s worth knowing what is required. Maybe knowing it is worthless for understanding, but you better know it.
        Case in point, my friend is an adjunct at several junior colleges (yeah I know) and she’s on Napoleon at the Congress of Vienna. She’ll get to the Franco Prussian War but just barely, with almost no time to the collapse of the Second Republic or the English voting reforms; then on to WWI. When she did the Reformation there was little on the Peace of Westphalia, possibly nothing. and nothing on the counter reformation. This is because the course content is mandated, and she has no choice. Anyone getting through her courses — mostly education majors — officially know what happened in Europe between Medieval times and the present, although will never learn that there were two Turkish sieges of Vienna, and what a near thing the 1528-29 campaign was. Lepanto is mentioned, but thought trivial. The Turks were weak or had a bad day or something, and anyway…

        Ah well. Which illustrates my point. You must buy the credential. For an education you look to other sources. But anyone expecting employment in this age of equal opportunity that by court order excludes any IQ test as part of employment process had better by damn have the credentials or they won’t have a chance.

        Since they are all universally worthless as education it makes sense to shop for them.

        Then go read Fletcher Pratt’s Battles That Changed History, and read Chesterton’s Lepanto. Don John of Austria is shouting to the ships!

        1. … most of the classes until you get well into upper division are taught by grad students or adjuncts

          This was my realization when Daughtorial Unit was planning her assault on the Ivory Tower; coming from a home school which employed the Clifford Russell Theory of Pedagical Instruction (You want to know about something? Go ahead.) she took her G.E.D. (aced the Social Studies portion by always selecting the most politically correct answer) and went to Community College. We realized that the teachers at Community College were probably more knowledgeable than the grad students at the local university, often having worked in the particular fields in which they were providing instruction. We also figured the fellow students were likely far more serious about learning what was being taught than your average college frosh/soph was prone to be.

          Worked out well for her, and when she transferred to the university the more mature students and advanced courses being taught by professors proved no challenge.

        2. It sort of feels like the important stuff is being omitted. Of course the people coming up with the curriculum probably wanted it omitted. Things like the Reformation, the Thirty Years War and the Treaty of Westphalia that was a result led straight into the enlightenment and the greater tolerance of religion. Which led to the thinking that created the US. But some people think that the US somehow came out of thin air.

      2. Sarah, assuming you could get a college to hire someone of your philosophical bent, I figure you might make it through your third class of special snowflakes before the rest of us read about an instructor running amok with a meat cleaver shouting something about “I got your microaggression right here!” 😎

          1. How long ago? From what I’m seeing, the graph describing how bad they are has approached vertical in the last 7 years.

  23. I’ve thought of it as “the gradual crappification of things” – a couple of businesses I liked and patronized have closed. No idea if it’s (a) increasing restrictions on small business that makes it less attractive to own one, (b) people not spending money on things other than what can be obtained cheaply at big-box stores (well, cheaply, until that thing breaks less than a year after you bought it), or (c) possibly people just getting tired of scrabbling and barely making payroll and deciding it’s time to close up shop.

    It makes me sad. And it makes me worried: are we going to see a future where it’s only the necessities that are available? Already you hear some people militating against various Enjoyable Holidays because of multiple reasons. Or the idea of buying socks and underwear for gifts for your loved ones – needed, certainly, but not very festive.

    We’ve seen (locally, I mean) costs go up – water, electricity, health insurance, food. My pay has remained flat, has been so for the past 10 years. No raises, there’s no money. We’re being set up, I think, to accept even more “doing more with less” – reduction in the workforce and the long-timers who stay on being asked to do more work for no pay. And there are increasing government mandates on our work that means we just do more work, anyway, without it being made official.

    I try to remain hopeful but I look at the here and now and it just kind of stinks. And I’m not sure it’s going to get better this side of the Veil, and I don’t like feeling like I will have to wait for the Afterlife for things to be better.

  24. HEY, BOYS AND GIRLS! Get ready NOW for the EIGHTH ANNUAL TOUR of The Summer Of Recovery! Tickets go on sale January 2, 2016 at our website http://WWW.SUMMEROFRECOVERY.COM, or call us at 1-800-IMAFOOL
    Tickets are only $300, and we’ll let you know if they are coming to a VENUE NEAR YOU!!

Comments are closed.