Shoot The Black Dog

It’s very easy to become depressed.

It is particularly easy for me to become depressed because I have battled the black dog as long as I can remember.

The way to fight the black dog is to realize that he lies.  It’s very difficult to do it because the black dog is perfectly logical.  He presents things to you in an inevitable way.  But reality is neither logic nor inevitable.

No, that is not true.  Reality is logic.  It’s just not the sort of logic that fits into human minds very easily.  There is always some factor we didn’t calculate, something we didn’t think of.  And not all surprises are bad.  And sometimes surprises will be good.

Part of this, guys, is this more than any other era in history, we are surrounded by narrative (played, watched, listened to, read) and that we’ve been trained to look for foreshadowing, we make the error of treating reality as a story.  This means we can read trends and we tend to extrapolate them way into the future and assume they’re inevitable.

For good or ill, history has the ability to surprise us even now.

Most of the surprises we remember are bad, of course, but that’s because that also is a trick of the black dog.

I remember the late seventies.  yes, I was very young, but the smart money was either on mutual, assured decision or on the Soviets winning and taking over the entire world.  Our leadership was feckless.  The figures and facts coming out of the USSR were wonderful.  Obviously they were going to take over the world.  Bomb shelters were huge.  People were talking about going back to the land to be safe.

Then there was Reagan, and we found the USSR was a Potemkin village.  All of it.  And then the wall collapsed…

And it’s not the first time.  I read enough about WWII to find that by the lights of even the people in the free nations, all of them believers in eugenics and superior races, we didn’t have a chance.  And we entered late.  And the Germans had a well honed war machine, and… And our leadership frankly sucked, and our president had for years been engaged in driving our economy into the ground to gratify his crazy vision of life and economy.

But there are other instances, in more recent history, some good and some back.  Hey, anyone remember when George W Bush was going to be the “education president?” And then the towers fell.

Look, I know looking at a field in which the unindicted felon is the safest candidate on one side and the  socialist con artist the best poling one on the other, it’s easy to give up.  It’s easy to write our obituary.

I have a friend who despairs of the breeding rate of the various productivities/iqs.  This has nothing to do with race, but characteristics that inform success in the modern world are inherited from parent to child.  Did you know you can predict how late someone will procreate based on their IQ?  The higher the IQ, the later they’ll reproduce and the fewer children they’ll have.  There are exceptions, sure, but not that much.

What my friend forgets is that it can change.  It’s hard to recognize the Germans of late middle age in 19th century Germans.

Nothing is static.  The future is not written in stone.

Presidents often don’t govern as they promise or threaten to, or even as we’re afraid they will.  The world is vast and other things influence how a president works out than the president himself.

Things look bad.  I’m not going to deny that.  But it is very important to remember there’s a wide world out there.  Even very bad man’s plans can be thwarted.

We might get lucky yet.  And we might have the sort of luck that doesn’t seem like luck at all, but is, in the end.  Sometimes ills come for better.

I’d like to tell you exactly the things that can happen that can save our *sses, but of course I can’t.  In 1979 if I’d told anyone that the Berlin Wall would fall in  10 years, [yes, I did have 20, yes I can actually add ten.  It was late and the fingers had their own way, though.] would they believe me?  And if in 99 I’d tell anyone we’d be dealing with Marxists all through our structure of power?  They also wouldn’t believe me.

The world is not just more complex than we imagine.  It’s more complex than we can imagine.  It’s fairly easy for us to figure out our own lives, the consequences of our own actions.

But when you start computing a whole world? A whole civilization?  Black swans are inevitable.

Remember “necessarily skyrocket energy costs Barry?” Who’d imagine oil prices would plummet on his watch.  Certainly not him.

The black dog tells you that there is no escape.  The black dog tells you that trends are inevitable, inescapable, and it seems so logical.

The black dog is not all knowing.  It lies.

The black dog’s hope is that you give it up.  that you stop fighting.  That you stop caring, that you give up hope, that you think your life is in vain.

There’s always hope, and there’s always the possibility for things going very very wrong.  Liberty is a balance between those who want to seize power at all costs and those who fight them.  There are no guarantees.  but that means there are no guarantees either way.  No one can promise us we’ll win, but we can’t be sure of defeat either.

The black dog knows no better than you do.  Shoot him and go on with your life.

 

 

479 responses to “Shoot The Black Dog

    • Would someone please explain c4c? Is this a way of shouting “Hear, Hear”, or “Shame”?

      • iI is shorthand for “commenting in order to get the comments sent to my e-mail box.” It frequently turns into lists of aircraft or ships, chemical formulas, firearms designations, and other such silliness. And the occasional game of Battleship.

      • YellowShapedBox

        Means “comment for comments”, so users can subscribe to the whole thread before they have anything in particular to say. That’s why you always see it toward the top.

        Aaand I haven’t even read so much as Footfall. But fervent welcome to this blog regardless!

        • He’s been here much longer than you, Yellow!

        • You really should read Footfall. It’s very interesting.

          Also Lucifer’s Hammer, as long as you firmly remember that it was written in the ’70s. Otherwise there’s a bit of unexpected culture shock there, but it also serves as a strong reminder of how much things have changed in both race relations and international relations.

          • ut it also serves as a strong reminder of how much things have changed in both race relations and international relations.

            and so apropos of Mrs. Hoyt’s essay!

          • I listened to Lucifer’s Hammer on audio and it was amazing.

            • I’ve read everything by NIven and Pournelle (and the occasional Steve Barnes, when is another Dream Park novel coming out?) I have re-read “Lucifer’s Hammer” more times than I care to admit. 😀

              • Dream Park? That would be good, but I’d prefer another Heorot book.

              • I’m going to get them in audio. First because I can listen to them while working around the house (I bore easily) and second because anything in paper with Pournelle on the cover disappears with my kids or their friends. It’s about as hard to keep off their mitts as Heinlein!

        • Your welcome is a bit belated, but your failure to read Lucifer’s Hammer is an act of masochism.

          • I consider it a handbook as much as a novel. 😀
            Dr. Pournelle, if you should happen to read this, there is something I’ve always wanted to ask you.
            There was a movie years ago entitled “Deep Impact” in which there were scenes lifted directly from “Lucifer’s Hammer” (the surfers scene and a few others. Were you ever officially involved or credited for that?
            Inquiring minds want to know! 😀

            P.S. – Thank you for autographing all my books so many years ago!

      • It’s Comment for Comments, a way to subscribe to the comment stream on WordPress. Around here it … devolves. Often.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        c4c means “Comment for Comments”.

        People are wanting to receive new comments via email so they make a comment so that they can click on the “Notify me of new comments via email”. 🙂

      • BTW, we’re talking about you on Goodreads. 0:)

      • Comment for comments. It’s a way to post something without actually saying something so you can tick the ticky box for response to the Post.

  1. Swans come in all colors and never for your convenience.

  2. How else,in a quantum fractal universe? I take heart that communism might be inevitable but the market always is.

  3. I recall someone once asking, “Would anyone have imagined that the biggest medical discovery of 1896 would be made by a physicist, trying to do something he knew should be impossible?”

  4. c4c

  5. In 1979 if I’d told anyone that the Berlin Wall would fall in 20 years, would they believe me?

    Possibly – if you had suggested that it would fall as a result of the advances from the other side?

  6. And if in 99 I’d tell anyone we’d be dealing with Marxists all through our structure of power?

    Anyone familiar with the trends in education, particularly at the elite universities and law schools, might have.

    • About to say, some of us realized that by 1979.

      • About that time I recall hearing time the parents of a young man who had sent him to a school ‘with an excellent reputation’ bemoan the discovery that his favorite teacher, a history teacher, was thoroughly enamored by the China … not in a historical sense, but Communist China of the time.

        It was not untypical.

        • I’ve been doing a gradual review of national histories, especially during the 1960s and 1970s, and as I go through African nations during the era of European decolonization, I find the bloody handprints of revolutionary Marxism all over the place. They aren’t particularly well hidden, either. Somehow, I don’t think an honest history of Marxist revolutionary movements in the mid 20th century is among the more popular subjects in the academic curriculum.

          • Somehow, I don’t think an honest history of Marxist revolutionary movements in the mid 20th century is among the more popular subjects in the academic curriculum.

            Nope, not really. Too messy. It might cause someone to question the assertion that the United States is the root of all evil.

          • When I was at the University of Arizona in the late ’00s, the only history professors that weren’t far left were the ones teaching Soviet/Modern Russian and Modern Chinese history.

            I can’t tell you how annoying it was to hear Bush-bashing, no-war-for-oil quips in History of the Roman Republic.

  7. The black dog tells you that there is no escape. The black dog tells you that trends are inevitable, inescapable, and it seems so logical.

    The black dog may be logical, and he will wrap himself in truths. Still, like that other undesirable character of old, he is a liar of the highest caliber. There is the quality to him of a sales man who leads you down a series of statements with which you find agreements. You know somewhere there is a fault in that line, but each segment, each move, seems flawless.

    But if you do surrender to the feelings of hopelessness and despair and stop fighting the black dog has won.

    • YellowShapedBox

      See, that was where Steyn was very clear, five years ago: keep fighting. I think he’s pretty much given that up, now, if Donald Trump is our only hope. I think, scholar of history that he is, he’s thinking that while American values are doomed to death, at least there’ll be some kind of vigorous world power that isn’t Islam, and hoping for a last-minute dice throw where, with luck, some portion of the map winds up like Ptolemaic Egypt after Trump’s egosplosion.

      Note from your past, Steyn: Screw the state. Let’s do it ourselves.

      Harry Tuttle for Citizen, 2016! And whoever winds up as president can stick that in their ear.

    • It’s not so much he lies, but he’s adept at telling only the useful part of the truth.

      Why lie when you can misdirect?

  8. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I wrestle with the black dog enough that I think it would be funny to call it my muse.

    I spent years making gloomy plans based on the expectation that I would continue failing at a personal task that I having been mostly unsuccessful doing. Less than two months ago I got advice on improving and was ready to take it. My thinking now is world’s different.

    • Catticus Finch

      As a fellow owner of a black dog (and I don’t mean my border collie), I can say that it certainly has been my muse over the years – at least when it isn’t growling insidious lies into my ears. I found that the trick was to take ownership of the dog and keep it on a leash at all times.

      On good days, it walks at heel. On bad days, even when it lunges ahead, I still control the leash.

      I wish you all the luck as a black-dog owner. It’s hard having a pet that you can’t let run around at the dog park.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I’m weird. The black dog chews on me for a while every so often, but then I get bored with it and go start something new that I never seem to finish.

      I’ve actually gotten better at finishing things, lately, though. I may actually be able to start a side business after I get my workarounds to not having a proper workspace straightened out.

  9. The black dog is primarily caused by hypothyroidism, which is probably the most ignored problem in medicine today. Body can’t entirely utilize what you eat, so brain doesn’t get enough energy, so brain runs at half-speed, so you get fog and depression. It’s that simple.

    I sound like a broken record on this, but ALWAYS with ANY chronic condition, thyroid should be the FIRST thing you look at, not the last resort. A full test panel and a hormone-replacement specialist, NOT a TSH test and a G.P. (unless they have considerable experience at treating symptoms, not just treating test results).

    • I’m sure this is true for some people but not the majority. It is true you should check a person’s bodily health before you check mental health.

    • I was in much better health when my depression was its worst in my 20s.

      • I had depression from childhood until my early 40s, when I found out it was caused by the antihistamines I’d been on most of my life.

        Funny, I got off those and the allergy symptoms vanished too… I’d like to have those decades back.

        Yeah, I get depressed every now and then. That’s natural. But it goes away, unlike the endless black fog before.

        • The Other Sean

          Maybe you’re the one I heard the antihistamine thing from. I stopped taking Claritin and within a couple days my energy levels were back to normal human levels. I do get some allergy symptoms, but so far the infrequent bit of sniffling has been a small price to pay for not feeling constantly depressed.

          • There are a few others out there spreading the word. We’re probably all pretty far off one end of the drug-reactions scale, but it’s easy enough to test for yourself; just get off the pills for a week, then take one and see if you notice anything. For me, it only took an hour or so to feel the effects again.

      • Yes, exactly. Same here.

    • Er… a) I’m being treated. b) it’s not primarily caused by hypothyroidism. It is in some cases, but not always. It is a genuine mind thing. Actually the depression under hypo is completely different. You just feel blah.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        My thyroid probably isn’t entirely healthy.

        I’ve also had untreated allergies take the wind out of my sales.

      • According to the founder of AA (and experience) Niacin seems to be a specific vitamin against depression. 500 Mg when life seems to be a black dog. The standard (flush generating) version seems better than the modified.

    • I probably have a low level version, meaning doctors keep telling me I don’t have that problem because the most common test does not show it, but most of my symptoms would fit. I haven’t been able to get that full test panel, or a specialist to look into this so far. Planning to use some of the inheritance money for that at some point, but I still keep hoping I might be able to get that test, and a specialist to look into this, through the company health care. Not damn likely though.

      And what has helped with the SAD – my most obvious big problem – has been D3, rather large doses during the winter, but I also use some iodine, K2 and fish oil.

      And I’m still rather pissed for listening to doctors for years even after I thought that D3 might help, we were advised until just a couple of years ago here that no, you get enough from food etc, no need to take it as pills, and whoo, it’s very dangerous if you overdose (which, by the current recommendation, I am actually doing now, but the recommendation is very low…) so best to avoid.

      But it works better than the SSRIs the doctors kept writing for me (when it was not therapy… which does not exactly work when the root problem is winter blues) without the side effects those medications give you.

      I still get depression symptoms pretty easily, and especially during the winters I do have to be careful about things I entertain myself with etc (a lot of pessimistic stuff is not healthy, they can push me into a downward spiral) but I have not descended to the lower levels since I started self medicating with those vitamins, so looks like at least part of my problem really was vitamin deficiency.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        When my doctor told me I needed to take Vitamin D supplements, I told her that I would make sure I got it in my diet. She informed me that it wouldn’t help if I didn’t get enough sun during the day (because we don’t actually get Vitamin D in our food, we get the precursor to it, which requires sunlight to transform it into the actual vitamin), so now I’m taking the D3 2000IU supplement.

        • Yes. And this far north there is not enough sunlight at least half of the year. But we are still getting told that if you eat healthy you don’t really need any vitamins in pills. Add the fact that we have also been told to avoid sunlight because skin cancer risk during the summers…

          Can perhaps also explain the somewhat morose character Finns tend to have a reputation for. 🙂

          • … we are still getting told that if you eat healthy you don’t really need any vitamins in pills

            “How can you know you’re eating healthily?”
            “You don’t need any vitamins in pills. No True Scotsman needs any vitamins in pills.”

            The schools really need to go back to teaching basic logic.

        • Birthday girl

          ” … we don’t actually get Vitamin D in our food, we get the precursor to it, which requires sunlight to transform it into the actual vitamin … ”

          Wha …. this is new to me. And makes all the difference in the world … thank you so much, Wayne!

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Sure thing. Glad my doctor could help. 🙂

            • The other thing to know is that middle-aged humans are not as good at processing Vitamin D, and middle-aged women or any-aged dark-skinned persons are even less good. (Apparently we’re supposed to be getting the good seats in the porch area of the cave, where we can sun ourselves more.)

              Also, it is difficult to overdose on Vitamin D without eating pills in mass quantities like snack chips… for months and months.

      • Which is why you should be able to walk into a pharmacy and order and pay for diagnostic tests out of pocket. But the gatekeepers say you won’t know what to do with the information, and won’t allow it…

        • [rude noise]

          We are this ][ close to a phone app that can process a blood strip as well as monitoring blood oxygen, pressure and pulse rate — and keeping a long-term record of that data to establish an individual baseline — and the FDA is warning the app designers against “medical devices.”

          Meanwhile, pressure from interest groups requires insurance policies cover acupuncture, aroma therapy, homeopathic therapies and birth control pills for nuns sworn to celibacy.

          • Just how does a homeopath clean the equipment without making the mix ‘stronger’?

          • NYS, home of many chiropractic colleges, requires chiropractic coverage in insurance policies. It’s not possible to find out how much of your insurance dollar goes to quack practices. It’s a closely held secret.

            Bringing up chiropracty probably opens up a can of worms…

            • Having had long-term back spasms I am very fond of my chiropractor, whom I credit for my ability to walk upright.

              That said, there is a wealth of chiropractors whom I would not go near for all the tea in Turkey and I don’t need my insurance to cover it. Chiropracty has much about it that attracts [people with atypical ideas], a tendency likely exacerbated by the field’s general exclusion from “proper” medicine.

              Sorta like the way Trump and Sanders have ascended the political realm.

              • It’s probably useful in correcting musculoskeletal problems, especially those originating in the back – we still aren’t fully adapted to walking upright, and the underlying structure of the vertebrates isn’t the best foundation. But it goes off the rails when people start thinking that anything from depression to Chron’s can be treated by cracking the back and some message.

                • Now wait, I’ll agree some kinds of massage can cure some kinds of depression although generally you don’t go to a chiropractor for those.

                • Although the “depression” caused from chronic pain ought not be underestimated. Since the pain usually also interferes with deep sleep, thus adding the mental distress caused by sleep deprivation.

                  Ask me how I know? Most recently from wrestling the black dog*. Literally, she’s a 70lb labrador tank

                  It is a mind thing, but it’s a mind thing sure, but it’s a perfectly reasonable mind thing reacting to being unable to properly move, sleep, sit, work without the constant mental distraction of pain. Bet you dollars to donuts as Mrs. Hoyt’s post-surgical overall physical well-being increases, a good bit of the depression will ease up, too.

                  (*And ironically, you’ll find her picture under the definition of “cheerful” in the dictionary. I’ve never know a happier dog. So let’s not shoot her. Even if she does chew up library books 🙂

              • SheSellsSeashells

                Heh. I like essential oils *because I like things that smell good*. I run into similar problems with “people who are practicing the aromatherapeutic arts” (actual quote). Argh.

            • Modern chiropractic isn’t what it was in, oh, the 80s.

              A lot of the practitioners are still really into BS theories… but so are normal doctors. *shrug*

              • A lot of the practitioners are still really into BS theories… but so are normal doctors. *shrug*

                BS theories? Like the Food Pyramid, or that eggs cause high cholesterol, salt is bad for you …

                • Or everyone can lose weight by eating less, more healthily, and exercising?

                  Or that the ultrasound is going to be more accurate than the natural family planning practitioner who can tell you what night insemination, if not fertilization happened?

                  Or “there’s no such thing as chronic pain”?

                  • Or: your biggest problem is your weight. While I’m struggling with depression and wanting a consult on my meds to see if I need a new mix I’m given the names of counselors who specialize obesity issues.

          • Implantable glucose sensors have been around for quite a while. Some of the insulin pumps use them.

            There’s no reason a sensor and RFID couldn’t relay data to a smartphone in realtime and let you adjust your diet or take a shot as needed. But they’ve run into opposition from, among other things, the companies that make test strips, who have a lot of lobbyist clout.

            The British National Health system is looking at implantables that can talk to a smartphone despite resistance from the industry; they’re strapped for cash, and the implants would pay for themselves quickly, and then there would be downstream benefits from better monitoring of swings during the day… and of the people who won’t use the meters at all.

            “We have the technology.” But a lot of people have a vested interest in strips, meters, and diabetic care.

            • For certain values of have. Couple years ago now, we found out that large numbers of those insulin pumps were wifi enabled and had passwords like “password” hard coded into them. Because no one could remember different passwords. And as for changing them…… Because no one ever would have a motive to be able to kill a diabetic with an insulin overdose programmed via wifi….
              Until some major security overhauls happen, no one but no one should be allowing Internet of Things into their lives.

              • The Other Sean

                Internet of Things can be fine so long as it is neither safety critical nor liable to cause a breach of privacy. At this time, security on all manner of devices largely sucks. Certainly avoid medical implants that are wi-fi enabled. They can’t get security right on telecomm equipment going into the sensitive government facilities; would you want it in your body? [shudder]

              • There’s also the issue of secure environments. This is actually a discussion being had on certain secure networks. One of the reasons I still buy dead tree books, other than I’m old fashioned and tactile, is because I am not allowed to take my Kindle into the building where I work. No portable electronic devices. But how will that guidance change with not just wearable but implantable devices, ones that are necessary for life and health, such as insulin pumps? Will certain people just not be able to work in a SCIF?

              • Agreed!!! I will NOT buy a car made after 2010 for that very reason until the disconnect the Bluetooth from the engine control system.

                Why do you need internet connectivity for your fridge, A/C, dishwasher, stove, microwave, HW heater, and washer/dryer? A total waste of computer chips.

                • You need internet connectivity for your devices so that gov’t busybodies can decide what temperature your thermostat is set at, and make sure that you are washing in cold etc. Basically so that they can make the choices for you and you can’t ignore them. Golden for them. They get to make decisions with no consequences for them.

  10. My depression was managed by anti depressants and therapy.

    • Hasn’t reached that level.

      • Jonathon Winters realized the best treatment for his Manic Depression/BiPolar/ whatever new name they give it was to know you had it, take advantage of it when happy, know when not that it was part of things and not do anything stupid when feeling that way (well, unless that thing made folks laugh and throw money your way, which goes a long way to helping get rid of it for a time) , then feel so much better knowing you had none of the side effects all the treatments.

        • Mostly I get depression, but I manage it by knowing it’s not real. And it’s okay anyway, I’m not depressed right now except about politics.

          • that’ll drive one nuts with it lately. Seen one Hillary sticker, one each Sanders sign and sticker, and a Trump sticker all in the last 48 hours that make you want to slap folks for being overly stupid. humanity is too damned depressing.
            But the RP for Prez sign down the road finally got pulled down. they are trying to sell the place (for very little compared to the area but not worth the $ as it is falling apart and RIGHT next to the rail road track.
            like less than 40 feet close)

          • Does it count as depression if only a looney wouldn’t be saddened or otherwise upset by the turn of events?

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Events & situations can be depressing but Depression is an extreme reaction to such events & situations. 😦

          • Did Ted’s win last night help????

        • I’ve long thought that the only thing* worse than depression would be the realization that the only reason I had for not being depressed was the medication I was taking.

          *For certain values of “only thing.” Having been stuck on the loo because a back spasm hit whilst I was reaching for me trou, I am depressingly confident there are things worse.

  11. The Other Sean

    Two weeks ago, I realized I was feeling depressed, and had been more-or-less for months. I remembered somebody here mentioning stopping Claritin and feeling better. I tried that and while I’ve had to deal with some sniffles since, but within a couple days I was waking up feeling reasonably refreshed and semi-energetic, eager to get out of bed and face the world. Previously, I’d felt like staying under the covers all day or going back to sleep. I thought I’d mention it at as an example of depression having an unexpected and simple cause. If you can’t find a simple cause in a short while, go see a doctor, and perhaps the doctor can help resolve it, be it through new meds, adjusting existing meds, dietary changes, whatever.

  12. > anyone remember when George W Bush was going to be the “education president?”

    That was Clinton, not Bush. We found it hilariously funny here in Arkansas; Clinton was massively backed by school PAC money in his campaigns for governor, and one of his first actions when he first got that office was to support the dismantling of the “advanced placement” and “gifted children” programs, which the teacher PACs hated.

    Clinton was elected, then replaced with Frank White. White supported a state teacher certification program that boiled down to having teachers pass the GED high school equivalency tests. This provoked monkey-poo-flinging outrage, which redoubled when one teacher committed suicide over it. Clinton got support from the teacher’s union when he vowed to eliminate the teacher testing. He got re-elected, and actually followed through with his promise…

    Later when the national media reported he was using “The Education President” as part of his Presidential platform, we mostly stood around and said things like “say what?!” Even the wholly pro-Clinton local newspapers made a few comments…

    • No, Bush also came out saying that.

      • One of the things most people across the political spectrum seem to agree upon is the need to fix education. What they do not agree upon is what that fix should be.

        • The best way to fix something is get government the heck out of it.

          • I am a believer that the higher up and farther away the government body is from the location, the less it should have to do with education.

            • I am a believer that the higher up and farther away the government body is from the location, the less it should have to do.

            • I’ve been on a school board – even the local school board is suspect as hell. Seems like only progressives run for school board positions most of the time. They make it miserable for a non-progressive.

              • The Other Sean

                That’s not true at all. Sometimes you get a social conservative school board that decides biology textbooks need a disclaimer added to them because they teach evolution, or that creationism (or intelligent design) need equal time with evolution in biology class. These school boards typically last only one or two terms before the combination of litigation and election brings about their downfall.

                Progressives get stay in power and cause more diffuse and widespread harm over a longer period. Hence they are more dangerous.

                • Well, it is true in my school district, perhaps not yours.

                  • The Other Sean

                    My local school board and my local township government generally runs moderate-to-conservative. It tends to be dominated by the GOPe but gets the occasional libertarianesque Republican or even more rarely a not-totally-left-wing Democrat.

                    OTOH, I have friends and relatives with kids in, or teaching in, SJW-dominated districts, and some friends and acquaintances that’ve had kids in Creationist-controlled districts. The latter seems to happen mostly in less-populous areas; the former can be anywhere but seem most prevalent in urban and suburban regions.

        • And I can see why. It seems so unfair that an innocent kindergartener should be sent to a terrible school, then forced to bear the consequences of that lousy education for the rest of his life. It feels like there ought to be SOMETHING we can do for this kid.

          Unfortunately, I’m not sure that education can be fixed, at least not at the Federal or really even the state level. If a community values education, they’ll make sure that the schools are at least acceptable. If a community doesn’t, and sees the schools as primarily a free babysitting service and an easy jobs program for potential teachers, then I doubt anyone coming in from the outside trying to “save” them will succeed.

          • Probably the most effective and least intrusive fix to that issue is a decent school voucher system that allows parents some control over where their children attend. It was tried fairly extensively in D.C. and by all reports quite successfully, which is why the Obama administration directed the program be cancelled. Apparently did not fit with the progressive mandate of top down control, also was not well thought of by the teachers’ unions.

            • Which is where the Department of Education could be useful to our ends. Simply state that any federal grants will only go to those districts that have voucher programs. Any parent who lives in a district without vouchers can register to receive their share of federal education dollars as a federal voucher.

              • And HUD grants can only go to jurisdictions that don’t have rent control.

                • The Other Sean

                  Nice ideas, but if there was the political will and support to play that level of hardball, don’t you think the entire departments could just be eliminated?

          • Unfortunately, I’m not sure that education can be fixed …

            It can be fixed, but the problem is we don’t like the cure.

            12 Kids In The World Got Perfect Calculus Scores, Including This 17-Year-Old American
            Seventeen-year-old Cedrick Argueta recently learned he’s one of twelve youngsters in the world to have earned perfect scores on the Advanced Placement AB Calculus exam. His entire calculus class, from Abraham Lincoln High inside Los Angeles Unified School District, passed the notoriously challenging test.

            “While I think talent is a big part of doing well, hard work definitely trumps that,” the senior told local TV news station KTLA-5, noting that he and his classmates spent two to three hours a night studying for the exam in the weeks leading to it.

            Lincoln High has only three white students and is approximately three-quarters Hispanic, according to federal data, and 85 percent of its students are eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch, a proxy for low family income.
            [Emphasis added.]

          • “a community values education, they’ll make sure that the schools are at least acceptable.”

            Thomas Sowell had an interesting column about this very topic (actually, he’s probably written books about it), and two things stuck in my mind.

            First, when his family moved from the South to Harlem, his parents were determined than Thomas would have all the advantages possible. Looking around the neighborhood, they homed in on a slightly older boy (9-10), who mentored Thomas … by introducing him to the library. Any other family could have pursed the same path (the library wasn’t that far away), but they didn’t see the value.

            Second, he talked about people who’ve escaped the ghetto and how they try to pass along that success to siblings/cousins, etc. Yet, more often than not, no matter how much effort they put into passing the success along, the recipients would head back to what they valued: the ghetto lifestyle.

            Big takeaway is that old saying: you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

            • That doesn’t quite jibe with what I recall Sowell writing in his autobiography, but the point is valid all the same.

              Although I find I prefer the alternate (Dorothy Parker, IIRC) version of that adage: You can lead a whore to Culture but you can’t make her think.

      • And one thing I will give Bush a great deal of credit for is shifting gears after the towers fell. Whatever the other problems with the man (and I have my list, believe me), he at least was willing to notice the changing facts on the ground and recognize that what he WANTED to do as president wasn’t going to be what the country needed him to focus on.

    • Waitwaitwait. Back up. The teachers were upset that they would have to pass the GED test?

      • They were told there’d be no math.

        • especially the math teachers.

          • Once upon a long time ago time I ran a math tutoring service. My clientele was largely college students taking college algebra. Almost invariably, the students with the greatest difficulty were those majoring in elementary education. More than once I thought, “These people hate math. How are they possibly doing to do a good job of teaching it?”

            • My dad says Algebra is the a massive waste of time. All those classes he took in school (and he loves math) and he has never used a bit of algebra in his life.
              He taught himself Calculus and Trig, but he gets downright nasty when talking about algebra.

              • I use algebra all the time. Just don’t call it that. So do a lot of other people, many without even realizing it. OTOH, calculus doesn’t come into play when I need to solve things. But it is nice to know some.

                • The Other Sean

                  Algebra, trigonometry, and statistics have all been far more useful to me personally and professionally than calculus. I use them more intensely and more often.

              • I guess he just ignores all the Algebra that’s involved in Calculus?

      • Knowing what I know about the GEDs I am not sure it would form my benchmark.

        The Daughter was home educated. She choose to take the GEDs to help in obtaining documentation that institutions of higher learning would accept. Afterwards she related how she got a perfect score on the Social Studies section: ‘I choose the most politically correct answer. After that I went back and read the selections, and, you know, the answers did not necessarily relate to the material at all.’

      • You should have seen the hissy fit Texas teachers back in the mid 1980’s threw when they had to take and pass a test that was about 8th grade level. The democrat governor/legislature soon removed it.

        Too many of them failed it.

        • In AL in the 90s, they put in a “teacher competency exam” that an 8th grader should have been able to pass…. The passing rate at the Historically Black Colleges was 50% or less. In one case not one graduate was able to pass it.

          The non HBCs had passing rates of 93% plus. So naturally, the test was thrown out as “raaaaacist”.

          • Keep in mind that it is more important for a Black child to have a Black teacher as a role model and inspiration than to be able to read, write or do calculations. Through this process they learn that Black people can succeed — if the standards are sufficiently low and the pressure on guilt-ridden White liberals sufficiently high.

            • “Keep in mind that it is more important for a Black child to have a Black teacher as a role model”

              But, oddly, it’s never considered important for a boy to have a male teacher as a role model.

              • scott2harrison

                Of course it is considered, but who cares? After all they are boys and thus should be grateful that they are allowed in school at all.

      • In order to Home School in NC one member of the household must hold a college diploma. I do not know what strictures apply in Arkansas, but ponder that a moment: home-schooling requires college degree, teachers in public schools can’t be required to pass a GED.

        Granted, they have a college diploma (BS Ed) but that doesn’t mean they can pass a GED. Y’know, there are studies demonstrating people coming out of college more ignorant than when they entered …

        • Oh, they must have changed it. I remember the wording at some point being a high school diploma or equivalent for the person doing the teaching… because my mother didn’t have one, having moved on to attend a university without doing her senior year of high school. (In an unusually sensible moment for bureaucrats, they decided that her bachelor’s degree would suffice.)

          • In an unusually sensible moment for bureaucrats …

            That is a frequently used euphemism meaning “realized they were in a battle they could not win and that continuance of it would result in disastrous losses.”

            Bureaucrats are never sensible, but they are very adept at protecting their power. Do not confuse the two activities.

            • I know a couple who will actually rules lawyer to get the right result– the problem isn’t the job, it’s the individuals. Those who want power will go for it; those who just want a pay check will go the easy way, which usually ends up helping the power-hungry. Those who want to do a good job, and the right thing… not as many.

          • The person serving as the teacher had to have a high school diploma.

            I found it amusing that, although yearly testing was required, the state of North Carolina did not require that home educated students meet particular standards. I suspected that there was the fear that if the students of home educators had to meet set standards someone might get cleaver and take their public system to court when their students failed to meet the same standards.

        • –I feel I should assure you that her degree was not in education.

        • It’s a tacit admission that the two activities have different goals. If you’re going to homeschool you need to have a clue but to public school you only need to be able to repeat the propaganda.

        • Granted, they have a college diploma (BS Ed)

          That is just too good…

        • In general, the GED test is far more challenging to pass than most high school curricula of today.

          • and passing mom’s “approval” was considerably more difficult than either. “What do you mean you don’t know who Socrates was? Dan, we’re raising mentally deficient children. He’s only ten. We’ll replace him. No one will know the difference.” (Took me years to figure out they took these threats seriously.)

      • For most teachers I’ve had, I’m not sure they could do that. Back when I was in high school we had a history teacher saying the French and Indian war was between the French and the Indians.

        • Daughtorial Unit got in trouble for contradicting Second Grade teacher’s statement that “Snakes don’t have spines.”

          The fact that D.U. knew (and teacher didn’t) what “vertebrate” meant was less helpful than you might think.

          • I had a seventh grade science teacher tell me the earth was surrounded by a vacuum of air. Remember that one nearly 40 years later.

          • When I met with The Daughter’s teacher it did not matter when I explained that snakes did in fact have skeletons and that they would see a lovely example of one when they went to the zoo next week. All she really cared about was that she was the teacher and an eight year old had had the audacity to contradict her.

      • > upset that they would have to pass the GED test?

        Perzackitly. It was offensive, degrading, racist… you name it. And if I remember right, it wasn’t the full GED.

  13. Reality Observer

    Okay, lady – one of us needs to get a tinfoil hat. Stop those mind rays!

    I have a novel on the planned list. After about eight or nine other novels. So what happened this morning? Up at ONE AM, writing the Afterword for that novel, that came up full blown somehow when I was supposed to be sleeping. An excerpt. If this isn’t from your head, I want to know who is responsible – the old man needs his regular sleep cycle back.
    *****
    But – but – before sympathetic readers feel moved to send me the toll-free suicide hotline number, and before the less sympathetic throw this book against the wall (or at least scratch me off of their list of authors to read) – I have to tell you that this is not the end. I do believe that this house will eventually succumb to the rot that is the fate of all human institutions, despite our strenous attempts to shore up the walls, to patch the leaking roof, to replace the cracking glass. The tyrants and the corrupt will once again, as they have so many times before, clear away the ruins and build their palaces, they will once again fill them with their stolen finery and staff them with their enslaved servants.
    They build those palaces, though, on the foundation that was already there. They can do nothing else; that foundation is the very concrete that is encoded in the genes of humanity – and, despite the assertions of “Progressive” geneticists, I do not believe that this foundation can ever be altered. That foundation, that concrete of human nature, has one odd characteristic; it hides within it a flame. The only real Eternal Flame – the stubborn, unquenchable desire of the individual to be free of the obligation to support those that they find unworthy of eating the fruits of their labors. Even as the tyrant thinks he has finally quenched the last embers of that flame, it is still smoldering down under the coals that seem to be cold. It will once again find its way into the walls of his palace; it will creep along the beams over his magnificent Audience Chamber; it will puff tiny bits of smoke to swirl around the hanging banners of the free men that he thought conquered for all time – smoke that will be ignored among the fragrant steams rising from the banquets at which he and his sycophants gorge, trying to satisfy their insatiable gluttony.
    “One day, one day…” – that flame will once again ignite in its full, furious glory, and will burn down the palace; the tyrant will rush about, trying to save some bits of his stolen opulence, but will eventually die as the Eternal Flame consumes him and all of his works.

    • Reality Observer

      Oh, by the way, the chapter in that book with the Mormon Battalion is running around loose right now. I can’t get anything else done until that is tied down into a Word document. Again – who’s doing this?

      • The Other Sean

        Have you considered sending in the cavalry to keep it under control?

        • Reality Observer

          Well, you’re not here… I can hear the hoof beats. They are not helping. This is going to be a hyper-caffeinated day, and the wife will wonder why the dinner is late…

          • Next time you get a breathing space, make a triple batch of your favorite casserole type thing that uses precooked ingrediants, freeze two of them for those days. I do a layered Mexican thing with cheese, enchillada sauce, browned ground beef, pinto beans, and corn tortillas. Throw it in the oven program to go on two hours before dinner.

            Homeschool tricks. There will always be those days.

            • Reality Observer

              Well, my kids are a mite older – I run up the menus a week (or more) in advance, and they make their social plans around “what’s for dinner.”

              Anyway, I can’t claim prescience, but I had scheduled spaghetti, meatballs, and bread sticks tonight. Sauce was already made up (I have to make it in big batches, so it goes two meals), meatballs already made up (just thaw and throw in the muffin pan). Bread sticks, though, took longer than normal, probably because I was getting rather foggy by the time to make the dough came (one AM remember…)

              Then got distracted by the Caucus news, and didn’t quite finish the chapter. But – apropos of that, while the black dog didn’t get shot, he DID get a good kick in the rump tonight. So a bit more cheer here in Mudville tomorrow. (Literally – Sarah’s snowstorm took a swipe here on its way by, but of course turned to heavy rain down here in the valley.)

      • Not me. I’m dealing with insane reptiles (edits) and Peter the Great’s alter ego. That’s enough to keep me busy.

    • Dear Observer, when you finish said book, inform me so that I may buy a copy immediately. That is an inspirational paragraph that could leave Tom Paine himself squirming with envy. The novel ought to kick copious @$$.

      • Reality Observer

        On the shoulders of giants…

        That is by Tom Paine – as filtered through our own Sarah (and others).

    • toll-free suicide hotline number

      I have it on Highest Authority that suicide is NOT toll-free, and any hotline telling you otherwise is probably a straight line to someplace very hot indeed.

    • From IHTFP Hack Gallery (MIT):

      Study on the effect of tinfoil hats on blocking mind control satellites:

      Location: The internet
      Date: “Published” Feb. 17, 2005
      Perpetrators: CSAIL graduate students

      In February 2005, some CSAIL graduate students “Published” a paper on the effect of tinfoil hats on blocking mind control satellites. They measured the attenuation of radio signals as a function of frequency and determined that certain frequencies which are reserved for government use are actually amplified by the tinfoil hats. Clearly the government must have started the tinfoil hat craze so it could more effectively spy on its citizens.

      A full account of this experiment can be found:

      http://web.archive.org/web/20100708230258/http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/

      • Wayne Blackburn

        BA-HAHAH… …you will stop reading this comment. You will not reply. You know there is no such thing as mind control. Be happy. The government is your friend

        … uh, wait. What was I saying again?

      • So, metal siding is the way to go?

      • I thought the computer was my friend…

      • The problem is that they weren’t using tinfoil, they were using aluminum foil. Tin foil blocks the rays, aluminum foil amplifies them. Ever wonder why you can’t find tin foil on the shelves anymore?

      • Heh, heh, heh…

        Real *tin* foil works fine when you can get it. But most people don’t know the difference between tin foil and aluminum foil even though it says “aluminum” right there on the box. (probably the same people who call a Diet Sprite a “coke”…) (and have you tried to buy real tin foil? Rotsa ruck)

        Aluminum foil *can* be made to work, but you have to crumple it to get some corner-reflector effect, and then layer it. At 1mm to 2mm nominal spacing, it takes about 30mm of BBQ-grade heavy duty aluminum foil to equal ordinary .002” tin foil. Except you’d look like a complete tool wandering around in an aluminum foil crash helmet…

        • “and have you tried to buy real tin foil?”

          You can buy it, but it sure ain’t cheap. It’s in the Sigma-Aldrich catalog.

          It might be better to buy an ingot from Amazon and roll it yourself.

      • richardmcenroe

        Neither tin nor aluminum foil is heavy enough to stop the rays. You need to take a good solid piece of aluminum foil, pound it into the shape of a Spanish morion, and clip on a length of wire to hang down and ground it. Metal roofing works well also, which is why Texas is largely immune to the rays outside Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin.

  14. The story is written, the future is set in stone. We win in the end because the Author has said so — but we go pretty damned far down before the end (because — doesn’t a good author always take his characters into the depths, in order that their salvation be all the more pleasing?)

    As for that black dog — like any dog it requires a firm hand, consistent discipline and regular exercise. You know you will have to pick up after it, so go prepared for the tasks.

    Live by sound principles, die well — that’s all a life demands. Give not heed to the words of tempters and remember: you’re in the world from which nobody gets out alive.

  15. My preferred treatment for depression used to be slam dancing and the occasional fist fight.

    Maybe it’s time to go back to basics. I just worrying I’m reaching that point where it isn’t too too bright to do the former.

    • Anonymous Coward

      Go to a Sanders rally and have at it. I’m sure knocking a few Young Socialists about will improve your outlook on life.

      • Except half the fun of slam dancing is other people are being just as rough…won’t the Sanders flowers crumble and go, “why are you hurting me?”

        Although the look on their faces when I say, “Because it’s fun,” might be worth it. 🙂

        • Anonymous Coward

          Answer #1 : “I’m trying to knock some sense into you.”
          Answer #2 : “I’m teaching you the difference between a micro-aggression and a full-on aggression. Shall I repeat the lesson ?”

      • Perhaps better to knock a few Young Socialists up. It would appear that their gene pool could do with an injection of a bit of libertarian DNA.

  16. Yes, the Black Dog lies, and Black Swans could happen at any given moment. But things ARE bad, and I don’t think they are going to get any better any time soon.

    I hope I’m wrong, that some unexpected turn will oust the Marxists from power. I just don’t think it’s going to happen without a whole lot of bloodshed — and perhaps not even then.

    Nonetheless, I will fight, and I will continue to hope I am wrong.

    • Nonetheless, I will fight …

      It is only when you have ceased to fight for your principles that you can be sure you are wrong (as opposed to: when you realize you are wrong, stop fighting.)

      There is inside me a part which prays constantly, asking blessing for those souls who died before battle was won, for the 300, for the defenders at Poitiers, Roland sounding his olifant at Roncesvalles, American colonials at Valley Forge, at the Paoli Massacre, and those granted “Tarleton’s Quarter” at Waxhaw, thousands of British soldiers fallen retreating before Bonaparte’s columns, the many Allied lives – soldiers & La Résistance & civilians alike – spent in the Second World War and on up to those who defended in Benghazi. We have narratives to tell us these sacrifices are not in vain, but what boots that to the fallen?

      Until you know the answer to that question you cannot bring the black dog to heel.

      • That we, who live, continue the fight so there is at least one candle always burning against the night.

        • Actually, I was reading a Russian theologian and began to wonder, based on something he said almost as an aside, if the trigger for the end times is when the last Christian dies.

          • Except the most straightfoward reading of Revelation suggests that there would be Christians alive to see the end of the world.

            Who’s the theologian, I’d love to see his logic. (Is the work in English or Russian?)

            • In English and as I said it was an aside and not something I should blame on him.

              The book is Remember Thy First Love: The Three Stages of the Spiritual Life in the Theology of Elder Sophrony Archimandrite Zacharias (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0980020727/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).

              On page 18:

              We should add, however, that our faith is not simply an inner matter; it always reflects the times we live in as Christians. The Fathers of the fourth century – a time of great flowering for the Church – repeatedly said that the Christians of the last times would neither have the stength to endure ascetic hardship nor be albe to perform the godly works of the Fathers of old. But they added that those who would succeed in simply keeping the faith would be more greatly glorified in heaven than those Fathers who had worked miracles and even raised the dead to life. In other words, it is the privilege of our time to preserve the fulness of our faith, and this requires a greater measure grade than that by which our Fathers raised the dead. The Lord Himself asked, ‘When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the eart?’ His words reflect the same thing: if faith be found among men at His Second Coming, this will be something very great indeed. We see that God judges us with respect to the generation in which we live. Father Sophrony would say that we are all leaves on the same tree of humanity and nothing can separate us from the life of this tree. So if our time is characterised by a general falling away from the faith of our Fathers, our success in preserving it will be the more sublime because of the apostasy surrounding us.

              By the most straight forward interpretation are you refering to the Rapturing of the Church or something else? If the former does it require that there being living Raptured or can it be fulfilled by the opening of the graves alone?

              • Neither Catholics nor the Orthodox believe in the Rapture, per se (as taught by mostly 19th century US theologians). The usual idea is that Christ shows up and the Christians go out to meet Him (as one would go out to meet the Emperor on a visit or on a rescue expedition), everybody else sees Christ in glory with His saints and angels, evil is immediately defeated at the same time (because that’s what the Emperor does when he rescues a city), and then the General Resurrection and Judgment occur immediately thereafter.

                It’s a crowded schedule!

                • So yeah, the general idea is that the tribulations have been in force ever since Christ’s Ascension, some times are just worse than others, and the last bit is just going to be the worst bit. Trying to count the number of tribulations by waves of persecution was a popular discussion in St. Augustine’s time, and there have been quite a few more since then! 🙂

                • Yeah, it’s funny how such a narrow interpretation (in terms of communions that embrace it) has because the pop culture view of the end times.

            • YellowShapedBox

              That certainly is more concurrent with everything else people go through in the Bible, at the very least.

    • One ray of good news, Cruz has won Iowa. Practically it doesn’t mean much, at most Cruz gets 1 delegate more than Trump and 2 more than Rubio, but it’s a YUUUUGE moral victory.

  17. Seriously. We need Sarah advising the next President.

    • Pffft. Standing behind him and providing the occasional “What are you thinking?” accompanied by a smack in the head would suffice.

    • Things go right that may not be necessary.
      Things go wrong and it would guarantee our dear authoress a midnight trip to one of those camps the government denies having. I do hear Gitmo is quite pleasant if a bit hot and humid.

    • Given the probably choices is there a way to have no President for 4 years. It can’t be worse than Hillary, Sanders, or Trump (or Jeb! for that matter…we don’t need a royal family) can it?

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Hasn’t anyone ever cautioned you NOT to taunt fate?

      • YellowShapedBox

        There’s always a chance Deez Nuts could win New Hampshire in the general election, if it comes down to Trump. Free State Project’s nearly complete, you know. I’m in.

      • Choosing the lesser evil is getting easier every day; not even Sanders could be this destructive:

        I can confirm that the FoxNews report, which lacks any specifics about exactly what was compromised, is accurate. And what was actually in those Top Secret emails found on Hillary’s “unclassified” personal bathroom server was colossally damaging to our national security and has put lives at risk.

        Discussions with Intelligence Community officials have revealed that Ms. Clinton’s “unclassified” emails included Holy Grail items of American espionage such as the true names of Central Intelligence Agency intelligence officers serving overseas under cover. Worse, some of those exposed are serving under non-official cover. NOCs (see this for an explanation of their important role in espionage) are the pointy end of the CIA spear and they are always at risk of exposure – which is what Ms. Clinton’s emails have done.
        http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/02/how-secret-is-it-8.php

        or rather, even if Sanders or Trump is so destructive as that, we wouldn’t have knowingly elevated such a corrupt personage to the chief executiveship. Obama, bad as he’s been, at least offered some degree of plausible deniability hope for change.

        The fable about transporting scorpions comes to mind.

        • Well, this just showed up to give Trump a boost:

          http://m.govexec.com/management/2016/01/25-feds-would-consider-leaving-their-jobs-if-trump-becomes-president/125549/?oref=ge-iphone-interstitial-continue

          Donald Trump leads the Republican field among federal employees, but many still say they would never work for him.

          One in four federal workers would consider leaving their jobs if Trump were elected president, according to a new survey conducted by the Government Business Council, Government Executive Media Group’s research arm. About 14 percent of respondents said they would definitely consider leaving federal service under President Trump, while an additional 11 percent said they might. The findings indicate those leaving government would come from agencies’ top ranks, as a majority of respondents were in General Schedule positions GS-13 and higher.

          Couple that with a GOP Congress that passes a bill forbidding those empty positions be filled and they’d have achieved a goal of conservatives for decades.

          Of course, I suspect most are like the liberal who were going to move to Canada if Bush got re-elected.

  18. I find that the size of my personal black dog (which, thank you G-d, rarely exceeds that of a beagle puppy) and the volume of its bark is closely dependent upon factors in immediate personal and family life rather than events in the Wider World. One can safely assume said Wider World will suck far more often than not, as our hostess observed, but when your pack is contented, that counts for much more. Right now even the prospect of a Trump-Sanders race can’t bring me down; my Lovely Daughter (TM) has finally broken up with her completely inappropriate (and I flatter him) boyfriend! Now she can focus on her show, which opens in a month! If anyone out there will be in the NYC area March 3-6 and wants to see a live, funny and rude romantic comedy for only $15, ask me… (Oh, and Your Royal Space Highness, if they ever come east, your two Boyts are welcome to check her out anytime!)

  19. To be honest, most of my family hasn’t had to deal with the black dog in any appreciable way. Being of PA Dutch stock, when things get (or even just look to get) very bad we tend to get very stubborn rather than depressed. To paraphrase Adam Savage, “I reject your future, and substitute my own!”

  20. This is why I only have blinding white dogs. And I have a lot of them.

    But fersure, I understand how this works. I got badly depressed after our investors took over my publishing company in 2001, fired my business partner, and soon made the whole thing implode. It took me a (very) bad year or two to figure out what I was missing: a way to gripe. I wanted to jump up on a high mountain crag and tell those bastards what-for. That would have been problematic for a number of reasons; I’ve worked hard all my life to be polite, upbeat, and even-tempered, and murderous fury is out of character for me. What I did instead was open a Word document and let my deeper, angrier mind loose to say whatever it wanted to say. It said a lot. None of it was, um, charitable. A significant amount of it involved certain actions taken with a length of black iron pipe. Writing it took a great deal of energy. When I was done, I closed the file and deleted it. The next day I did the very same thing.

    After a week of this I started to come out of it. So if the Black Dog is lifting his leg on your life, turn around and yell at the top of your keyboard. Nobody else needs to read your words. Do it until your anger and grief is spent.

    I also recommend buying Stan Rogers’ MP3 of “The Mary Ellen Carter” and playing it (loud) every morning to get your blood pumping. Sing along at the top of your lungs with this stanza:

    “And you to whom adversity has dealt a final blow,
    With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go,
    Turn to, and put out all your strength, of arm and heart and brain,
    And like the Mary Ellen Carter, RISE AGAIN!!”

    • Another Stan fan! I was a big Stan Rogers fan back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, and was terribly saddened when he died in a plane crash.

      • That was a huge loss to music generally, and to folk/filk in particular. The man was amazing.

        • You! I knew that character’s name wasn’t made up of whole cloth. Never mind, it’s never going to see the light of day. (He appeared last night.) Note to self: check names against blogs frequented.

          Jeff Duntemann, weird name. Well, doesn’t ring a bell. Okay, mister, you wanna be Jeff, have at it. Argh. Can’t trust the subconcious. Grr. Can’t believe I did that!

          Real Jeff, you weren’t in the Army were you?

          • No, but given my father’s temperament, sometimes it felt like it. I was in high school ROTC, but that’s as close as got.

            “Duntemann” is a rare name. I think there’s only ten or twelve people in the US carrying that name now, and half of them are kids. I miss the ones that are gone now. A lot

            I have sometimes mined my high school and college yearbooks for surnames, some of which were weird enough for aliens, like Czuchra. I don’t think I ever used both first and last names of a real person, though.

            • Totally not on purpose, which is weird. Obviously my subconscious likes your name. I even spelled Duntemann right, which I wouldn’t have if I’d meant to. Well, it’s just for my own entertainment because I’m not doing the necessary research to write it right. (If you’d been in the Army, like my character is, I’d be going tin-foil-hat shopping, I think!)

              I’m in the same boat with only a handful of people with both my married name and my maiden name. Though the married name side is increasing, so that’s kind of cool. My father-in-law’s generation was the first one that had last names, and he picked his own. There are fourteen in my kids’ generation, twelve have his name, and seven of them are boys.

              • The name you want is “Frank.” Army, solid muscle, fearless, passionate, analytical, marksman, with a mild limp but absolutely deadly hand-to-hand. You could probably outrun him, and if it ever came to that, well, you had *better.*

        • The Other Sean

          “Barrett’s Privateers” is a classic, IMHO.

    • Add me to the fan list. And yeah, I have that song on my “favorites” list.

  21. Depression ALWAYS lies. That’s its weakness: once you look carefully at what it’s saying, there is always a lie. And if it lies about one thing, it is lying about everything else.

    It is going to be work – some days much more than others – digging myself out. But I’m not afraid of work; only of bleak hopelessness.

  22. My mother was convinced the world was going to end before she ever had children.
    Then Reagan was elected. Then she met my dad.
    Now, she’s a grandma and more optimistic about the future than I am.

    • Madam, would you be looking for a writers’ group? There might be one in the future within “passable” distance.

      • Why yes, I would be. Shall I email this evening?

        • yeah, though it will be in a few months, when we move.

        • Wha?!? You can email evenings? What other portions of the day can be emailed, and how does one go about attaching them? Are these something one can purchase or are they merely limited to donations/gifts?

          I have heard of people living on borrowed time but had no idea this was available through email.

          • If you CC said email, can you generate more hours in a day?

          • Dibs on mornings. I never have any, being that I wake up last night and start from there!

            • Dang, sounds like my last flying job. “What day is it?”
              “Tomorrow.”
              “Thanks.” Made perfect sense, since we’d been flying since 1600 and it was 0530 with a stand-by possible call waiting back at our home base.

            • Ah yes, the old “it can’t be tomorrow, I haven’t slept yet.” I do not miss it.

              • I recall finally arriving dead tired in New York city at 10 am having left Tokyo at 10 am of the same day.

          • There’s a whole restaurant chain that’s built it’s model around the concept (In here, it’s always Friday). Pretty sure they take the days from the end of the universe, which is where I would be swiping my from. By that time, hopefully the concept of evenings is less important and they won’t be missed.

  23. “I have a friend who despairs of the breeding rate of the various productivities/iqs.”

    Some choose celibacy. Others have it thrust upon us.

    • how true

    • Quibble.

      Nigh anyone, to a very very large fraction of 100%, can get laid, if they so desire. No matter how unattractive one may think that they are. There exist people in this world who would have relations with anything, believe me. I have met a few. No, you don’t want to meet them either.

      Celibacy is almost always a choice (desert island, etc). Sometimes it is a *good* choice. Forming a physical relationship with precisely the wrong sort of person is worse than celibacy. Much. Worse.

  24. Semi-tagent: story with a black dog.

    So, a blonde woman’s duck is sick and she heads to the vet. Just as she sits the duck down on the exam table it keels over. The vet puts on a stethoscope and listens to the duck’s chest.

    “Ma’am, your duck is dead,” he tells her.

    “But aren’t you going to run any tests or do any exams to be sure. Maybe he’s in a coma,” she says.

    The vet shakes his head, leaves the room, and comes back in with a black Labrador retriever (I told you there was a black dog in this story). The dog puts its front paws on the exam table and stands up. It licks the duck and then drops back to the floor and shakes its head at the vet.

    The vet leaves with the dog and brings a Siamese cat when he returns. He sits the cat on the exam table and the cat stiffs the duck from bill to webbed feet. The cats sits back regally and shakes its head at the vet. The vet picks up the cat and leaves.

    The vet comes back in and says, “Your duck is clearly dead.” He hands the blonde woman a bill for $550.

    “It costs five-hundred and fifty dollars to tell me my duck is dead,” says the blonde.

    “If you’d believed me when I told you your duck was dead it would have been five dollars. However, the requrested lab work and cat scan cost five hundred and fifty,” he replied.

  25. Good luck with your black dog. I don’t have one, and don’t really grok what it’s like. In this case, I happily embrace my ignorance.

    That said, I am a pessimist who believes in the power of negative thinking. Plan for the worst case, then all your surprises are pleasant ones.
    Even worse. I’m a Calvinist. The Total Depravity of man and predestination are both baked in.
    😉 I’m afraid I must disregard your well-meant advice, and continue to preach that doom descends upon us. Which is part of fighting against it.

  26. I’ve been fighting the black dog most of my life. It isn’t fun and sometimes I get tired but to give up fighting is not acceptable.

  27. Data point: I know two MIT grads who got married – and have 11 children. At a party at their house once, my wife and I were probably the least formally educated couple there – we only have 2 undergrad degrees and a masters between us – and, at 5, had the fewest kids. It was great fun! Adults were outnumbered by kids something like 4-5 to 1.

    Based solely on level of discussion and education, I’d bet the average IQ level of the room was considerably higher than average. The good news: sometimes, exceptions to the general trend can be spectacular.

    • I wanted to have 11 kids. HOWEVER body wouldn’t cooperate. I’ve already started campaigning with kids to have at least 12 each… 😉

    • On the serious side, I think this is a new trend. And maybe we should encourage it by giving copies of The Marching Morons to the most promising students.

      • Now THAT sounds like an idea.

        • Best to have your kids 1. while your parents are alive (if possible), 2.when you are at your healthiest, 3. when you are most energetic. 4.Having kids when you’re 40+ is more high risk.

          • re: Point #3

            I was in the check-out at the grocery yesterday when I realized why all — all — the women’s magazines had cover blurbs touting ways to Get More Energy!

    • I think that the IQ thing might be an illusion of how the statistics are gathered– and a flaw in the tests.

      Unless they tested people at the same point, and then traced to see how many offspring they had, they’d have to be using up-to-date testing. A flaw in many tests is that you have to be using the stuff regularly to do well– so it would artificially inflate the IQs of academics (who at least recently tend to be liberal, which tends to lower the average number of kids, especially if they’re the DINK as a lifestyle sort) while lowering other groups– and that’s before the issue of “what person with a lot of kids is going to take the TIME to go in for a study?”

  28. Cultivate a sense of the absurd, and the black dog leaves you alone.

    That’s how I got through the mid-1980s, when the Army was so f**ked up that a small group of Honduran refugees could have gone through us like a knife into fish guts.

    Also, turns out that while we were really, really ate up with the stupid at the time, that doesn’t really matter when everyone else is ten times worse. The Soviets turned out to be unable to even manage the simple trick of getting clean, potable water to their troops, let alone feed them properly, or get them effective medical care. So, the reality was that, despite internal appearances, we were still way ahead in the game.

    These things go in cycles, and the only real problem is when the cycles don’t coincide. The Eastern Roman Empire fell, mostly because they’d been hit by plague, religious instability, and a bunch of other crap before the Moslems ever showed up. Had the cycles been off a few decades, and Islam got to go up against the Eastern Empire and the Persians at their usual levels? Yeah, we’d have them as a footnote sect in the history books, not the major one they are today. So, unless everything breaks the wrong way, there will be a renewal.

    Evidence for this? The libertine Georgians were followed by the staid, far more conservative Victorians, and that happened in large part due to the excesses. The pendulum swings one way, and then back the other. Today’s stupidities will force a counterreaction, and you can already start to see the backswing coming, off in the distance.

    Key thing is, don’t be in its path.

    • The Other Sean

      And in the final drive on Constantinople, the Byzantine Emperor wasn’t able to pay an expert artillerist who offered his services. He and his cannon ended up working for the Turks instead.

    • Victor Belenko was probably the most famous Soviet who defected for that very reason.

      His autobiography (“MIG Pilot”) is worth reading, if only for his description of his CIA handlers refusing to butt heads with the Department of Motor Vehicles…

    • When you’re sitting on two pair it can be difficult to convince yourself that the other guy still betting has only a busted flush.

    • “Cultivate a sense of the absurd, and the black dog leaves you alone. ”

      For some people, maybe.

  29. richardmcenroe

    Thing is, I just hate living in the second third of an exciting novel. That’s when things always go to shit.

  30. I’ve been told that it is not normal for a 10/11 year old to contemplate standing in the middle of a busy street. For me it was. I’ve never seen much value in my life, that’s probably why I have very few friends. If you don’t even like yourself, how can you expect anyone else to like you?

    I’ve learned the hard way not to hide it. If I say anything I am whining. If I don’t I’m sullen, moping, moody. So I try to keep to myself. Every once in a while I forget and try to interact – it’s never long before a voice in the back of my mind tells me that “they” don’t care.

    Sorry, don’t mean to be “down”, it’s something I’ve had more than a little experience with. Some days I’m okay, and can deal with the world, other’s I have to fight to do more than get dressed and drag myself to work.

    • “You should interact with people more!”
      “I tried. They don’t like me!
      “Well, then try harder!”

      Sound familiar?

    • Oy, yes! The old Ovid saw, “If you would be loved, be loveable.” True dat, but how do you get to loveable when you’re an introverted, absent-minded, anti-social klutz, who makes a bull in a china shop look like a model of the social graces?

      One trick is to remember, that the whole bare-is-back-without-brother-behind-it / sisterhood bonding thing is for those people who are (or don’t find it hard to be) loveable.

      Fortunately for folks like us, friendship isn’t about us, it’s about that Thing that the human beans are friends about (And why SJWs ruin it for us more than anyone, and why they’ve been such a poxy plague on fandom)

      Find your gatherings (IRL and virtual) ’round those things that light your fires, that you like learning about and doing.

      Oh and check out all the Miss Manners and the like books from the library. You want the old-fashioned manners ones that are about learned rote responses to specific social situations. Those yaps who want us to be “authentic” and “spontaneous” are prescribing disaster. Plus, if you doggedly show willing in the social skills you can master, you’re more likely to be forgiven by those friends who already appreciate your knowledge/willingness to learn/enthusiasm about the Thing they love when/if you screw up on other social fronts.

      HTH & Godspeed.

      • That’s part of the reason I try to stay on the side. I figure if I stay quiet, I won’t say or do the wrong thing and then people will at least tolerate me.

        • “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
          Abraham Lincoln

          • In some cases, better to stay quiet and suspect no one likes you than to start talking and have those suspicions confirmed. ** yeah, I’ve had it happen.**

      • Those yaps who want us to be “authentic” and “spontaneous” are prescribing disaster.

        Heh. Don’t make me be authentic. They wouldn’t like me when I am authentic. People’s noses would be popped, shins would be barked and dump trucks of horse manure would be deployed.

      • Feather Blade

        This.

        I bet there would be a lot less identification of “autism spectrum” kids for the schools to medicate if we were still giving people scripts for social interaction.

      • It works– if you allow for multiple meanings of “loved.”

        Switch it to “as you would be loved, be lovable.”

        The folks that I didn’t get along with in school? I still don’t get along with them. The things they’d ask of me, which would cost me greatly, are of no account to them– and the things they value, I don’t. That’s a recipe for everybody to be hurt.

        My sister– a lot of people– try to figure out what other people want, and give it to them, expecting to get what they want in return…and never figure out that the person they’re giving to doesn’t even realize that they want something different.

  31. I’m actually a little surprised that the Black Dog has not been around this year. *taps wood* It could be that I am just too dang overwhelmed with stuff to notice him. Every time I start feeling pulled down, I push though getting more school stuff done, or edits for the next book come in, or I make myself work on the current WIP (Colplatschki 9) because I don’t have time for the usual January funk. It could also be that the black dog bit so hard in mid-December that he’s taking time off to recover. *shrug* I don’t miss him.

    • I’m only getting it when I think of politics, to be honest.

      • I give myself to ten minutes to skim the headlines, twice a day. Then I ignore the bleats. I’ve got a month until my primary, so I can afford to be selective for a while longer yet. And I can’t afford to put my fist through the screen. Reading the news from Europe is bad enough.

        • Remember that the Almeida (and Silva!) clans are all over the world. I spend a lot of time worrying.

          • Yep. And then I sigh, whisper a prayer, and go back to doing what I can for the kids at the school. Because I don’t think “Please, Sir, make it all better tomorrow” would be answered, and “Please, Sir, make it all go away,” is one of those things one probably oughtn’t pray.

            • He tends to have a rather direct mind, so I’d never ask the last.

            • Say instead, “Please, Sir, let it all not be in vain. Let all the little things I do and try make a *difference.* Have mercy on those who’ve lost their way, they know not what they do. Let me do what I can, even if it sucks. Even if its hard, dangerous, or terrifying.

              “Watch over my friends and family, yes, even those ones, despite what I might mutter when I’m feeling cross. Give them strength when they feel weak. Comfort the hurt, soothe the pained. Watch over the innocent. Punish the wicked.

              “And if the cost is great, may the eventual victory be all the sweeter. Keep us humble in our triumphs, and hopeful in our sorrows. Always, always let us be hopeful.”

              Hope is in the exact opposite direction of depression.

  32. Christopher M. Chupik

    Remember that it was inevitable that Reagan would start WW3. That it was inevitable that Bush would throw all the Democrats in FEMA death camps. That the Permanent Democratic Majority was inevitable.

    And then remember that nothing is more unpredictable than politics.

    • That was one of those things I never quite understood: why everyone was supposed to be terrified about Reagan and “the BOMB” (scare quotes intentional.) I must have been in the wrong social circles. We were worried about farm foreclosures and the Japanese buying up all the good stuff at bargain prices because of the state’s horrendous death tax.

    • There was also a point where the Papist Irish and Italians were going to out breed the real Americans and put us under the thumb of Rome.

    • The Internment Camp lists come around periodically. One of them even listed GPS locations. Since one was near me, I looked up all twenty-odd locations on Google Earth.

      I found: a “former military base” that’s now a county airport, (and I’ve been there) a “WWI internment camp” that’s a cornfield (unless it’s a Secret Underground Lair…) (I’ve driven past it, anyway), a mall, a used-car lot, and other Seriously Worrying Locations.

      Ah, well. When the blue helmeted thugs pile out of the black helicopters, I’ll tell their leader the idiot with the buck teeth is standing on a prize Elizabeth M. Hewitt…

    • I recall hearing a tune on some WiPR/NPR show in the very early 1980s, ‘Pass the Lord and Praise the Ammunition’ about Reagan(ites). Looking back at how things went, it’s amusing in the “What were they smoking?” sort of way. [‘They’ meaning the writer(s) of the tune.]

  33. Two who got out of life alive? I can only think of one. Someone more knowledgeable help please.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      The Christ of course and Enoch.

      Enoch was said to have “walked with God: and he was no more; for God took him”.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enoch_(ancestor_of_Noah)

      • I think Enoch and Elijah. After all, the Christ did die. But not permanently.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I forgot about Elijah. 🙂

          • In fact, Elijah is still believed to be walking the Earth, hitting every sedar service in one night for his glass of wine.

            What did that poor man do to deserve that much Manischewitz?

            • A. Manischewitz isn’t that bad. B. There are kosher wine snobs. There’s fancy schmancy kosher wine available.

              He has more dignity than Santa Claus. SAC doesn’t track Elijah. Betcha he’s got the ultimate in stealth gear and no reindeer needed.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              I read a story about Death coming for a Jewish housewife during the preparations for Passover and she insisted that she couldn’t go until after Passover.

              Death was forced to wait while she got things ready for Passover.

              During the sedar, Elijah gave Death a very disapproving look and IIRC Death felt he had to leave.

              Don’t remember if Death was able leave with the Housewife after Passover, but the moral was that Death never again attempted to come for any Jewish Housewife during the preparations for or during Passover. [Very Big Grin]

        • That He did die is a big part of the point. That He got over it is most of the rest.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Elijah could be considered a third.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah

      • Depending on if you consider Mary’s assumption after “falling asleep” to be the same as death or not, there’s that, too. (Assuming one accepts the assumption. :D)

        So let’s just go with “very, very rare”? 😀

    • Terry Sanders

      I suspect the reference is to Enoch and Elijah.

      Elijah’s non-lethal exit is based on eyewitness testimony. In Enoch’s case, it’s a bit more ambivalent: “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”

      There was one more fellow who left the game alive, but he died first. 🙂

  34. Thank you for this.

  35. BobtheRegisterredFool

    60% of Iowa Dem. votes in at DD, and 10k voters. Trump would win the vote if he had run as a Democrat.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      That percent is of precincts reporting. At 80% it is still under 10k votes cast. Trump is in second or third place, at 80% reporting, and had a minimum of 30K votes cast for him in the Republican caucus. Trump might have been able to win Iowa if he had run as a Democrat.

      • With 99% of precincts reporting, it is Cruz 28%, Trump 24%, Rubio 23%.
        http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/02/after-iowa-its-a-three-man-race.php

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          An encouraging sign. However, don’t put your faith in princes, and never fall in love with a politician. We’ve got to remember the important thing in life; hitting each other with inflated bladders.

          Some say that out of sensitivity for Muslims, Jews, and Hindus, we should only use a sheep’s bladder. I am an American, and I find range maggots culturally offensive.

          • YellowShapedBox

            Harry Tuttle for Citizen! That was, and is, the bottom line politically. With the potential for a pro-Tuttle president, so much the better.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Also compare Democratic totals with Carson, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush.

          Okay, sure, maybe Iowa is leaning Republican. Sure, that level of participation isn’t going to be what the general election would be like.

          • It might be. I try to be optimistic.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              I think I’m in error about how many Democrats voted. Apparently AP and Iowa Dems are feuding over the 130k to 170k range. Which suggests that the 10K number I had is way wrong.

              If it were correct, and representative of future participation, Donald Trump and maybe even Jeb Bush would have done better to go after the Democratic nomination.

              If it were correct and not representative, it would have been a clear sign of troubles for the Democrats.

    • Hilary won all six coin flips.

  36. ook, I know looking at a field in which the unindicted felon is the safest candidate on one side and the socialist con artist the best poling one on the other, it’s easy to give up.

    Neva give up. Neva surrender.
    *straightens funky colored jumpsuit*

  37. One of the things I’ve vowed to do this year, whenever I get into one of my seriously black moods (not depression – I know what causes it), is to wait it out and never do anything when influenced by that outlook on life. So far, a day or three later, the world looks like an entirely different place, and the things I was contemplating doing (mostly sending blazing e-mails to certain people I work under) look entirely too rash. The problems haven’t gone away, but solutions suggest themselves, after a day or three of having nightmares about them.

  38. Needed to see this post right now.