Nine Miles of Two Strand – Dave Freer

 Nine Miles of Two Strand – Dave Freer

Nine miles of two-strand topped with barbed wire
laid by the father for the son.
Good shelter down there on the valley floor,
down by where the sweet stream run.
Now they might give me compensation…
That’s not what I’m chasing. I was a rich man before yesterday.
Now all I have got is a cheque and a pickup truck.
I left my farm on the freeway.

Jethro Tull, Farm on the Freeway 1987


I’ve got a pig’s head in fridge.


Honestly, it keeps the milk fresh.


And how does it do this?


Well, by stopping me opening the fridge and looking at it, and knowing I have brawn to make.  Pigs are famous, or infamous, for the potential to use everything but the squeal. And I’m thinking of recording that and selling it our Social Justice Warriors in the church of the perpetually outraged. It’s almost indistinguishable in pitch, although the expert might detect an absence of the usual whine in shrillness.

A few years back when we came to Australia, I decided to go full loony and see if we could become largely self-sufficient. I was driven to this by the noblest of green and ecological motives: the fact that I was broke, and food imported to the island – I live on a remote island out in the middle of the Bass Strait, between mainland Australia and Tasmania – isn’t cheap. Emigration had been expensive, and something, somewhere had to be cut.  I’ve always hunted and fished and grown veg…

I learned a great deal about producing your own food (as opposed to just adding to it) and relying on what you catch to feed you. First and foremost, you can get thin pretty quickly.  Secondly harvesting from a supermarket is a lot easier than harvesting from the wild or the garden. Thirdly, there is always some free-loader who adds nothing, willing to ‘help’ you eat it. Fourthly – that delicious home grown veggie – tastes that way because it’s flavored with a lot of sweat.  Trust me on this, it is better when that’s someone else’s sweat.

All too many first world (and a fair number of the rest) have a fairly nebulous idea about where things come from – and not just food and drink.  Electricity just comes out of wall sockets. Light just comes out of globes. And water is spontaneously generated in the pipe that leads to the faucet.

We take these things for granted. They are, the way air is. Like air, we never think much about it until our wind-pipe is blocked and there isn’t any coming in to our lungs.  And when we go to the supermarket, and there is no meat in the chiller, or no veggies on the racks, why, we think we’re in Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

It may be that the government has decided to ‘help’ by setting the prices.  Or that the supply chain that stops cities running out of food in about a day and half is interrupted… or that people have gone full panic that it may, or some politically cushioned-from-his-own-idiocy moron has decided that farmers are irrelevant, easily substituted widgets. That well-run farms and gardens are not important.

The simple truth is when those goods from the primary producer aren’t there, it’s SHTF time for probably 80% of the first world, or more.

Which led to this:


When suddenly Britain had to feed itself in WW2 and there were not enough men to work the land. Heaven alone knows what they’d do now. Funnily I don’t see the latest generation of feminists embracing this eagerly, even if it real equality.

I’m actually less apocalyptic than most on this – I’ve been to Harare (and seen the ‘no parking, fine 300 000 000 dollars’ sign). Robert Mugabe and his cronies had destroyed agriculture in what was the bread-basket of Africa, exporting huge amount of food. Leaving politics and race out of it: he made the easy-to-make error – farmers are widgets, with no skills and no real value. We can take farms at gunpoint and give them – principally to our wealthy urban dwelling cronies (who, trust me on this, are as westernized and used to water coming out of a tap and electricity out of a socket as any urban American) and ‘landless peasants’ – mostly urban slum dwellers. The farms with the best houses and most cattle went to the former, the land which took ten acres to the cow, to the latter.  But all would be well, because actual farming was easy, something an idiot could thrive doing.  Yeah right. In this ‘Comrade Bob’ is indistinguishable from any latte sipping ‘liberal’ in New York City, or indeed a large part of the population of any large city, isolated from reality. It’s not skin color that makes stupid or ignorant.

Of course it’s not just farming that this holds true for. It’s primary production of any sort, be it fish or coal, or oil or electricity or even water. Or even fiction…

Here’s the thing – humans have been primary producers long before we learned to be anything else. Because, no matter how good a derivatives trader or school administrator you are, if there’s no food, no water, no shelter to live in, the only derivative is death and the only schooling is in how to die.  People learn to be primary producers. Or leave. Or die. And people can live on very, very little. You wouldn’t want to. Most of the ‘rights’ you hear shouted about come out of abundance. Being a woman in a society where people starve, means laws and ‘rights’ go to the wall pretty fast. But people do live through it.

The first world hasn’t seen much of a Mugabe problem. Indeed, food from elsewhere, money from elsewhere, kept the people of Zimbabwe alive, even if at a fraction of the quality of life they’d had before.  There have been a few trends running in Western world for the last few centuries – firstly farms have got bigger and farming much more efficient. Our crops, our crops our fertilizers our pest control got more effective (whether this is all good is a whole different argument). Secondly our supply chains have got vastly more efficient. Wheat from Egypt kept Ancient Rome alive – wheat from America kept a large part of the world alive.  Thirdly… this meant huge numbers of people left the land and moved to the cities. Odd though this may seem to me now, life was better and fuller for a lot of those doing this. They fed the labor needs of industry, which in turn fed back manufactured goods – from tractors to plastic piping that made a farmer’s life easier and more efficient.

Which all sounds terribly hunky-dory (that’s a dory with six-pack) until you look at the details, the ways things spin out. Firstly a lot of people resist change. If we leapt into the unknown – be that the big bad city or that green river with the logs with teeth – without caution, the human race would have had a very short, temporary visit of one generation, if that.  Cities grew out of very small villages, and moving to them had to sound good and be confirmed by returnees splashing the wealth, and flashing the finery… or nothing short of starvation, and not even always that could have induced the move.  For millennia cities have been painted as ‘better’, which was sometimes true.

Secondly: well what you need to survive and thrive in a crowded urban environment is quite different to what you need in a rural one, and even that was a pale shadow of what you needed as a colonist on a frontier. (And yes, humans are a colonist species. Not white humans, all humans. We colonize new environments. Otherwise we’d all be in a little valley in Africa. Many plants and animals do colonize.  It’s natural, normal biology. Get over it.)  Selective pressure over thousands and thousands of generations made us good at being colonists, good at being primary producers (of game, of wild food).  Take that selective pressure away, favor things like ‘must obey well’, ‘must not think for him/herself, but do what authority tells him/her to do’, ‘must not think too far ahead, because that gets you shortened by a head’… and these become selected for traits.

Of course you don’t select for one set of traits for millennia to have them disappear, just because you’re selecting for something different. Firstly some of those frontier/colonist traits are still useful – the independent thinking and adaptability work well – so long as that’s not ALL of the city dwellers.  And secondly, well crossbreeding humans throws up throwbacks, as much as it does in any other animal.

Those throwbacks, or part-throwbacks, are full of traits that would do real well thriving off the land or sea, but less well in the city.  They cope (sometimes) but when they get back to the life they fit at… well maybe it’s the soul-ular level rather than cellular one… they don’t just thrive. It’s like you’ve been dealing with sleep-walker who just woke up.

That was me.  I came alive when I went diving, got into the bush as a kid. I was lucky in that I could. Being too aware of noise or movement was no longer a dis-advantage.  Back in civilization I was trouble looking for a place to happen. Once I got out into the wild places I was, often as not, in trouble. But I wasn’t the pure and unrefined cause of it.  Actually, sometimes I was even fixing it.

And slipping back to my hunter-gatherer ancestry I was… at ease with myself. Hard work… was no chore. This was mine, but I was part of it. Stalking I can feel the land breathe with me. In the sea – I know its strength, its uncertainty, and that you cannot fight it, just use that strength.  With a spear… or a spade, or a saw, in my hand I am a man, and comfortable with it. Give me a storm and wild night, and the salt spray sheeting in… you bring me alive.  Give me a city street, and I am not. A dog and an empty hillside where I am bent against the bitter wind and trying to keep my rifle dry… that’s almost enough space for me. Cubicles and neon, may be warmer, more comfortable and better paid… but I’m a rich man out there.

It’s not for everyone, but it IS for some of us. And the land, and those hard and dangerous tasks need us. Like writers, we are not widgets. Some of us do a much better job of it.

And yet… especially among the young, that old myth persists. The city is better. The city is cool. The city is where you belong.

For some of them it is. Good. I don’t want or have to be there. I am glad they do it.

But for some of us it isn’t.

I wrote CHANGELING’S ISLAND for those who need the sea and sky and the open land. For the primary producers, without whom the cities die. Because we need them out here. And they need it just as badly. I write adventure stories, in which men and women are heroes.  This book is that first It’s a love song for the sea, the land and the men and women who love it Of magic and pragmatism. Of honor and a love for the land.

changeling island

The book comes out on the 5th. If you pre-order it’s $6.49. After that it’s over S10.


“They forgot they told us what this old land was for.
Grow two tons the acre, boy, between the stones.”


361 responses to “Nine Miles of Two Strand – Dave Freer

  1. Using just-so stories about evolution to denigrate your cultural bugaboos is not convincing.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      And why should Dave (or us) care what you “think”? 👿

      • I think we do. Whatever Hyrosen disagrees with must be good. He’s like an inverse compass…

        • SheSellsSeashells

          I remember I once had an actual productive cultural/political discussion with a liberal. The fact that it was in 2004 saddens me.

          • ironbear055

            “I remember I once had an actual productive cultural/political discussion with a liberal. The fact that it was in 2004 saddens me.”

            You’ve had one more recently than I have.

            Although… 2006 was the last time I met one online that could even pretend to be rational.

    • Oh look, hyrosen has returned to grace us with his oh-so-superior opinions. Tell me, sir, do you enjoy making an ass out of yourself and does it come naturally or do you have to work at it?

    • *sniff* *sniff*
      Did I forget to flush?

      • The Other Sean

        Something does stink around hear, but I don’t think it was the ox. Something related to a bull, found in a certain early comment, might be responsible for the… aroma.

      • No, it smells much more like bantha poodoo to me.

    • Except, as anyone who bothered to read a history of urbanization would know, he’s not wrong.
      Projection is a terrible thing, hyrosen. I recommend therapy.

      • “‘must obey well’…become selected for traits”

        So histories of urbanization tell you that complex human behaviors like obedience to authority are a result of evolutionary selection? Interesting! But here’s what really happened:

        In hunter-gatherer societies, there was no room for experimentation. If you did not hunt well that day, if you did not find your berries and grubs and mushrooms, you and your family could starve. If your spear and your snare were made wrong, you and your family would starve. If you messed around with delivery in childbirth, the baby would die. In such an environment, it was vital that you learned what to do and learned to do it correctly, as your parents taught you and as their parents taught them. To stray from the path was literally to die.

        But people, being people, disobeyed and died anyway. Fortunately, selection pressure helped those humans who felt that they were being constantly watched by supernatural beings who would punish them for wrong behavior. It also helped those who had developed the parallel senses of humor and shame, so that the fear of being embarrassed and mocked could keep them in line.

        When settled agriculture began, things became even worse. Now, not only could mistakes doom you, but you might not even know that you had made a mistake for months. Strict obedience and rule following became more vital than ever, and the institutions to punish deviance flourished.

        It was only with the advent of cities, where experimentation without deadly effect became possible because activity could now focus on other things besides providing basic needs, that modernity could finally be achieved. But because evolution had selected for obedience and for shame, the “farmer” mindset would periodically triumph, burning and rampaging against those they deemed disobedient to their gods.

        And this, O my Best Beloved, is what is the matter with Kansas.

        • Umm…you do know that there’s no evidence whatsoever for your silly claims here, right?

          • Of course. Just as there’s no evidence that people evolved to obey authority after they stopped being farmers. These are just-so stories, catering to the political beliefs of their tellers and listeners. Invoking evolution and selection wraps the stories in a veneer of scientism, trying to give them an authority they don’t have.

            • I’m surprised you used the term “scientism,” since that’s almost entirely a trait of the left, to couch their dogmas in pseudo-scientific jargon in the hope of convincing listeners that those dogmas are more than just their unsupported opinions. So you’re admitting that your oh-so-long post above was just you blowing smoke, eh?

              • Yes, completely blowing smoke.

                Science is how we prevent ourselves from believing these little made-up self-justifying stories. But it’s hard, because we so want to believe. It doesn’t help to have the evolutionary psychology people running around spouting the same sort of nonsense without doing any actual work in biology and evolution.

                If you don’t believe my story about how farming evolutionarily selected for blind obedience, you shouldn’t believe Dave Freer when he says city-dwelling did the same.

                • Well, you’ve got one thing right. We shouldn’t believe you. As to believing Dave Freer, he made it pretty clear that what he posted was his beliefs. If you want rigorous scientific investigation, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

                • Hyrosen the difference between my ‘stories’ and yours is mine actually are internally logically consistent. Yours come under ‘if I buy kipper it will not rain’ logic. My background is in biology, I spent a year providing my Prof with the material for his opus on speciation in Island populations among the Cichlids of Lake Malawi. Your grasp appears to derive itself from Lamark. ‘There were cities (spontaneously, because no one invented or changed anything before. In fact they didn’t even move because the food wasn’t exactly the same outside of the couple of square miles they lived in. Then suddenly, there were cities (which the rigid traditional unchanging rote followers couldn’t build because that would have needed change.) and because there were cities into which food magically appeared in abundance people were suddenly able to think.’ Hyrosen – which is just laughable wishful thinking.

                  In practice it looks like our high protein diet (you know, meat and fish) boosted brain-size, and the ability to out-think animal defenses and contrive new ways to catch that protein helped the species to colonize new environments which meant learning and adapting as they traveled. Traveling, adapting, and surviving in small bottleneck populations gave us modern Homo sap. Genetic drift may or may not be removing those traits. It does make them less essential – ergo in your environment you survive. In a robust or historical environment you would not.

                  I give you as a case in point the 17th century shipwrecked sailors on the coast of South Africa – mostly city men, trained into service on the ship. The wrecks often had survivors. Very few of those ever reached the settlements. It’s a verdant, productive, food rich coast. The black tribes were rare and not much interested in the coastline at that time (they were cattle herders, and the coastal nomads (Khoi khoi) moved in widely dispersed groups. Most starved or died of thirst, (and the water supply along the east coast is plentiful), and the shellfish alone would feed you easily. Or they died of heat – it’s subtropical. Yet resourceful men – inevitably with backgrounds from the countryside, did manage, and did explore far and wide, without much at all… except their heads and forethought.

                  Anyway I thought you ‘progressives’ were dead set on telling us you were the evolutionary apogee? And of course the cities you populate and dominate are the best places in the world (at least to you) So you should be delighted that you’re being selected for and surviving well in them. Yes, without the small towns and countryside, you’d all die, PDQ (and the opposite isn’t true.) but for your environment you are a success. Celebrate. And hope that Ark C continues to have people to keep you alive.

                • Science is how we prevent ourselves from believing these little made-up self-justifying stories.

                  Like the story that human activity is causing global warming climate change and we’re all going to die?

          • It’s even worse than that: “You have to make a spear exactly as before, otherwise you will die!!!!111!!11!!” How in the world do you get that spear in the first place, if you don’t experiment with rock chipping and lashings, and perhaps even a little bit of rope-making?

            Experimentation comes about for two reasons: the first, because of a certain amount of plenty, where you can sit around chipping at an unusually sharp rock, making it even sharper, because both the last hunt and the last gathered harvest was more successful than expected, so there’s a little bit of time just doing whatever.

            The second, because there’s a certain amount of desperation. Your sister is having a very difficult birth, and the last time you saw something like this, the woman died, because the baby was coming out backward…perhaps, if you do this one thing just like this, which you didn’t do before, your sister might die…but she’s dying anyway…and sometimes, just sometimes, your sister lives, holding a living child in her arms.

            The notion that you need exact obedience in the conditions you describe are faulty at best, and disingenuous at worst.

            However, having listened to a podcast on the French Revolution (well, half-listened, while working on computer stuff; I’m certain I missed a lot!) it isn’t difficult to imagine how genes that encourage “uppity-ness” can…disappear…while those genes that encourage “keep your head low, be as openly obedient as possible and, if disobedience is necessary, be discrete about it” can…if not flourish…at least not disappear nearly as fast. And these rates of change are the essence–indeed, the very definition–of biological evolution.

        • Using just-so stories about evolution to denigrate your cultural bugaboos is not convincing.

        • To refute just one of your paragraphs:

          In hunter-gatherer societies, there was no room for experimentation. If you did not hunt well that day, if you did not find your berries and grubs and mushrooms, you and your family could starve. If your spear and your snare were made wrong, you and your family would starve. If you messed around with delivery in childbirth, the baby would die. In such an environment, it was vital that you learned what to do and learned to do it correctly, as your parents taught you and as their parents taught them. To stray from the path was literally to die.

          And the hunter who first tied a shard of rock to the tip of his spear, or the gatherer to her digging stick, rather than using just the fire-hardened tip of a sharpened wooden branch found out that it worked much better at killing or digging up things, and thus was a net benefit to the tribe. And the one(s) who learned out how to fashion that shard to the best shape for the need even more so. And the women who figured out the combinations of herbs that would help other women in childbirth increased the birth rate, etc., etc., etc.

          No room for experimentation, my @$$. So understand why I take the rest of your ‘reasoning’ with a grain pound of salt.

          • But that hunter was only improving his hunting…making sure he better supplied his tribe. It wasn’t like he was sitting in his hut at the tribal village decreeing that the deer had feelings or philosophizing. It’s only that top piece of Mazlow that matters. And we seem to see quite often that if you stray from the path of the city elders you were cast out from the tribe and made to learn the hard way how to survive.

          • William Newman

            Yes, no room for experimentation for hunter-gatherers seems like a trollishly weird claim, or a desperation move like a dysfunctionally lonely person seeking attention at a Shakespeare fan club by arguing that the plays are obviously forgeries because they was printed with movable type and movable type totally didn’t exist at the time the plays were written. (Ahem, *supposedly* written. Wake up, sheeple!) It also seems dysfunctionally meta (or at least, only functional if one desperately wants attention and doesn’t suffer from the usual human preference for positive attention) to open with a criticism of just-so stories before advancing an agenda by spinning one’s own trippy stories about what *really* went down.

            People who’ve looked at existing primitive nonagricultural societies commonly claim the tendency is to work fewer hours. Despite the fact that 20th and 21st century social science is overendowed with fabulists, and despite the hazards in extrapolating from modern remnants to typical early conditions, I think that’s likely true. Population can easily be limited by the lean season in bad years and by other disasters, and without technology for piling up a surplus, there may be no good way to address the problem by working dawn to dusk in the good times.

            Primitive groups tend to sharply limited by some things — e.g., low population density is a big obstacle to developing and maintaining highly specialized skills and trades and technologies that depend on them. But inability to experiment doesn’t seem to be one of the sharp limits.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              LeBlanc’s Constant Battles.

              He claimed two or three relevant methodological flaws. 1) Giving subjects rides, thereby cutting down their transportation time, and recording the modified time. 2) Counting food processing as social or recreational because people talk while doing it.

              Third may not be relevant. Females in a society are related to population growth. Modern hunter gatherer societies may not be typical for food and land needs, because a lot of women marry out, reducing population pressures.

        • “It was only with the advent of cities, where experimentation without deadly effect became possible because activity could now focus on other things besides providing basic needs, that modernity could finally be achieved.”

          Actually, no. The fact of the matter is that the cities had just as much scrabbling for basic needs as the countryside did, or have you forgotten the standard leftist talking points about the evils of the Industrial Age. The West had moved past subsistence agriculture long before urbanization really kicked in. Cities produce ideas because they bring the idea people together and allow them to bounce off each other.

          “But because evolution had selected for obedience and for shame, the “farmer” mindset would periodically triumph, burning and rampaging against those they deemed disobedient to their gods.”

          And observe, once more, the Leftist in his natural behavior, denigrating those who keep him alive. But he must do so, for he knows, in his subconscious, that they could get along very well without him, while the converse is obviously untrue.

          So, tell me, hyrosen, what do you intend to do with these kulaks?

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Of course, the “traditional” barbarians who destroyed civilizations weren’t farmers but were horse-riding/chariot-using herders.

            • Who to this day will argue that they are morally superior to the farming cultures (like Somalia and Ethiopia, as described by Ayan Hirsi Ali and others, or Arabs and Iranians, or the Comanche and the Pueblo peoples . . .)

            • Well, depends upon which civilization wrecking barbarians you are talking about. The Vikings were farmers, and they pretty much wrecked western Europe that was just beginning to recover from the fall of Rome.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                The Vikings were primarily raiders (ie hit & run thieves) and while they may have done some damage, they weren’t IIRC as bad as the land-based groups like the Saxons.

                On the other hand, when they came as conquerors into places like Russia and what is now Normandy (named for the Northmen who conquered it), they generally either improved what was there or adapted to what was there.

                Of course, while I don’t excuse the Vikings for their raids, I think they got a more infamous reputation because they attacked monasteries and the monks were the people who wrote down most of the history of the Viking raids.

                • I believe there was a lot more trading and farming involved in Viking society than there was raiding and pillaging. Not to give short shrift to some good ol’ raiding pillaging… sigh… good times… 🙂

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Well IIRC “Viking” was not the name of a people but the name of a “profession”.

                    A Viking was a Norseman who went “raiding”.

                    A Norseman Trader wasn’t a Viking. 😀

                    • The Other Sean

                      There’s been a lot of discussion over the years that the difference between seaborne raiders and traders often depended on how well-defended coastal towns were.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Well, I don’t know.

                      The “classic” dragon-headed Viking ship wasn’t the best cargo ship that the Norsemen used.

                      It was good at getting men ashore and away quickly before any reaction forces reached the scene of the attack but wasn’t really a cargo ship.

                      Now the Longboat (which is the classic Viking ship) was also the warship of the Norse people.

                      The Knarr was the usual merchant ship built by the Norsemen.


                      Now, a given Viking crew might decide that a certain port was too heavily protected for raiding, but would more likely come back in a Knarr in order to trade there.

                  • The Norse women usually owned the house and farm, so Norse men needed capital to impress the family. Trading, raiding, and mercenary work were all ways for young men to earn capital.

                    Married men usually organized the expeditions, though, which allowed them to have the best share. Continuing to bring in capital was helpful in getting along with the wife.

                    • FeatherBlade

                      I think the most amusing assertion I’ve heard about going a-Viking, was that the men did it because the women controlled everything at home, and they just wanted to get away for a while. ^_^

                • A lot of the Norse went Viking to settle new lands, and they took over land in Eastern England, Normandy, and Sicily.

        • What’s the Matter with Kansas? It’s Tommy Franks asking the wrong questions to come us with the wrong answers.

          • I saw the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? when C-Span Books ran one of his speeches from the promotional tour for said book. It was not necessarily that he asked wrong questions. (Whatever, he would never have understood the answers.) He could not understand why people from Kansas did not think like the people he knew and why they did not fully embrace getting all the ‘help’ they could from the government.

        • Try not to let biases make you stupider than you have to be, Hyrosen. Especially when you pontificate about what you know nothing whatsoever about. “It was only with the advent of cities, where experimentation without deadly effect became possible.”
          (shakes head) You dumb bunny – Following your non-logic, humans stayed in the same place ate the same foods… and died out. If people did not relentlessly experiment there would be NO CITIES. To get there required experimentation. You must work in publishing, in NYC. No one else could have as little functional logic.
          Secondly, life in the wild is unpredictable. It’s not NYC where the electricity is there, and you call and complain if it isn’t, the food is in the supermarket every single day. In the wild… even the GOOD bits, tomorrow is totally unpredictable. The locusts may come and eat everything tomorrow. Then you eat locusts, and move. Today is feast, there is more game than you can kill, you experiment at ways getting the fattest. Tomorrow is famine, and you have loads of time to figure what to change or try. Traditional hunter-gatherers are masters of innovation – and unlike you, I have hunted with them, speak some of their language, and tried to learn And if you don’t you die. Well except in NYC where you go to the supermarket. And if something goes wrong – you in particular because you have no ability to think logically or laterally – will squall for someone to help.

        • You’ve never actually seen a real farm, have you? Or anything more rural than a cultivated resort.

          • This. I doubt if he’s ever experienced any of what he tells us is how things are done. They are how he imagine they are, viewed through the lens of hatred and a strong prism of inadequacy. He desperately invents these delusions: it’s that or admit his own lack of worth.

            • It’s worse that that- he is spouting things he read but doesn’t really understand. Much of it being self-congratulatory pop pap meant to re-assure pampered, Leftist urbanites that they are really the bestist and smartist, unlike those flyover country jesus dweebs.

              Hy reminds me of a 12 year old gamer trying to argue with Jeremy Clarkson about the virtues of a particular automobile.

            • So rather than admit it he flaunts it. *shakes head* I think the biblical term is ‘fool’.

        • That was truly hilarious. You should get the Margaret Mead Prize of Anthropology for those insights.

    • You know, it’s like he’s not even trying anymore.


      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Last week and the week before Freer shut down our rose scented companion for being boring. Freer isn’t revisiting Puppies this week, the ever so intelligent one isn’t bright enough to find that the Hugo results were leaked the day after nominations closed, so he resorts to whining about what little he can contrive here.

        • Can we complain to management about this? We should demand a better class of troll!

          He was at least deliciously ridiculous for a while last week, gave me a couple of good belly laughs. But this? This is sad.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Troll Management, Inc. is able to get any professional Trolls to come here.

            So the only Trolls that come here are amateurs (and not very good ones). 😈

          • I’m sorry. We don’t get many good trolls, because you guys bat them behind the fridge, where they rot and become like Hyrosen.

        • He’s about to get shut down here, too. I rarely ban anyone, but he’s achieving clamps level of nothing but noise and hot ill-scented air.

        • Besides I’m 90% sure he’s being paid for this, and much as I hate to spare Mr. Soros his money, I hate to see it go to Rosey Posey.

          • Without meaning to offend, Sarah, I’m not sure I follow your reasoning on this. I mean, I’ve seen what appeared to be paid trolls before this on other sites, and they all seemed to have a flavour that this one lacks.

            Actually, a primer on spotting paid trolls might be something interesting, if one could find such…

            • Just his continuing madness in posting on everything, with total lack of understanding. Either someone is paying him, or he’s like a bird hitting his head on glass. Either way a kindness to put a stop to the sad spectacle, no?

              • Mostly, his posts have become tl;dr. I want my trolls to be short, pithy and funny.
                On the other hand, I encourage Mr hyrosen to actively encourage his friends and like-minded associates to move to the biggest most dense urban cities possible. I understand Europe is lovely in the spring, and love Americans to move to their great cities.

              • I see your point. I’m not sure I agree (I found his posts last week to be an excellent example of “give them a mic and step back”), but your house, your rules.

                Hope you’re feeling somewhat better from the weekend, eh?

              • The Other Sean

                If somebody is paying him, they’re surely not getting their money’s worth.

              • I’ve known a few people who most definitely were NOT paid trolls who merely drank the kool-aid so much that they sounded like them. And once again, they were OIPs (Otherwise Intelligent Persons). I just don’t know what happens to cause that.

                • What do you call a Veyron with my grandmother behind the wheel? A slow car.

                  Some people have plenty of intellectual horsepower, but for various reasons they’re afraid to actually use it in certain situations.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Experience, pattern matching, and lots of samples are passive methods. Actively, use technical means to trace the posting, and old fashioned detective work to figure out what they do for a living. Most aren’t worth an active investigation.

              Obvious case: A sales offer for br@nd n@ame med1c1ne.

              Our current boring gentleman has a long history here. Most of the active posters figure his claims are mostly worth nothing. He doesn’t seem to care about what he says, or change it if he is shown strong evidence he needs to go back to the drawing board. Thus, he probably isn’t visiting a hostile place in order to better himself. Money, madness, or incitement by the community he really calls home are among the remaining plausible explanations.

              1. He is being paid because of Sarah’s involvement in national politics. Hence the Soros bit. Sarah posts at Instapundit, which might’ve helped raise her profile to that point.
              2. He has some personal or financial ties to New York publishing. He seems to have come in the migration of white supremacist trolls from File 770. He also seems to have been very keyed on to the Puppy Wars matter. Outright paying him for this service seems bad value for money, but Official Puppy Opinion is not that New York Publishing is making sound financial decisions.
              3. He may be ill.
              4. Perhaps those he calls companions incite him to come over here and shout, then he goes back and talks about how brave he was.

              If he was purely ill, I would not have expected the link to the sewage treatment plant, especially not so quickly. Unless he has a background with New York City water treatment. This suggests he does have a mind, if not one of the highest grade. Which would support the argument that he speaks falsehood with malice and deliberation.

            • If troll post were food, Hy’s are a bit like the public school lunch of over-fried breaded fish*, boiled veggies, and congealed cheese grits.
              Bland, bland, bland. Hy take the standard leftwing taking points, and really brings the extra boring, with extra servings of smug, self-satisfied solipsism.
              What happened to the Left? Where’s the snap and bite of a Hunter Thompson?

              *the one fried in stale oil that isn’t really hot enough, where the whole thing has the chewy consistency of leather.

              • The Other Sean

                Most of the modern left are too busy cowering in their safe spaces to venture forth onto the internet. So in addition to some mighty fine folks we get the leftist dregs that are left over. 🙂

              • Your public school served cheese grits on fish day? Wow. We got flabby tepid suspiciously raw french fried potatoes on fish day.

                • The word ‘cheese’ implies they had flavor. The yellowish clot of lukewarm blandness had nothing of the sort… much like Hy.

                  • Cafeterias have ruined people on trying more good food and adventurous new tastes than anything else. The only thing worse than “It’s different so I don’t like it” is “Oh, $Deity, I had that in the cafeteria once, never again!”

                    • My first exposure to grits and catfish was courtesy of my Uncle Sam – Army basic training at Fort Lost in the Woods in the State of Misery (Ft. Leonard Wood, MO). What Army cooks did to those staples was a crime against nature and turned me off of them for almost two decades ’til I went to visit some friends in Kentucky. There I discovered that done right those delicacies were pretty darn tasty.

            • They seem to have a flavour, Matthew? Why would you try one?

          • I don’t think so. I tracked him down when he first started showing up here and he has a well paying day job in Manhattan. It was in Trad publishing, so maybe he doesn’t have it anymore and I’m not going to bother to check. I think he’s a friend of TNH and PNH which is NOT a good recommendation.

            • That… explains much

            • Oh. One of the “beautiful people.” Spits.

              • My folks made some trip a good while back and on the return route passed through some well-known resort town (which, of course, I cannot recall just now…). Pa remarked, “It was full of the Beautiful People, so we got the hell out of there.”

            • Which explains his remarks about cities–he’s trying to justify his decision to live in Manhattan.

            • I’m a computer programmer, and have worked at nothing but that for over thirty years. I don’t have any connections to the publishing industry and have never met the Haydens or anyone else in the business, apart from hearing people speak at conventions. (I do have a lifetime subscription to Locus.)

              I got interested in the puppy kerfuffle, found this stuff, and am now a bit addicted to addressing “wrong on the internet”.

              You may continue to believe that I’m lying and/or a paid shill. I suppose that’s more comforting than believing that someone genuinely thinks you’re wrong, even when you don’t like or respect that person.

              • The Other Sean

                But that’s just the type of background a paid shill would fabricate, trying to seem authentic.

              • (Dryly) If you’re a programmer, then you are single-handedly the largest provider of programming employment in the USA. It must take legions of people to fix the mess you’ve generated – you’re the guy who tried to tell me that the financial implications of pleasing 24% of the audience was far far more important than pleasing 76%. You got quite hysterical about it. Logic and systematic progression is essential to good programming – you have neither skill – as we have demonstrated over and over. I sympathize with those who have to clean up your mess.

                • It’s more likely that “Reason’s white knight” ::tips fedora towards Hyyosen:: writes codes of conduct than actual code…

                • He does remind me of someone I once had to follow and clean up his messes in software. Made a bundle on that job.

              • Frankly, I am disinclined to trust the internet insights of someone with an avatar who has the same smirk as Mr. Morden on Babylon-5. But that’s just me.

                • Why? I mean, he just wants to know what you want…

                • Now, Celia, they can’t help the smirk. And very useful it is. I think it is because leftism is still considered a positional good, so the further left they are, the more they sport the smirk feeling like they’re above the rest of us.
                  Useful? Oh, h*lls, yes, in the late seventies in Portugal you could identify communist party members by the smirk alone. You knew whom to stay away from…

                • Anonymous Coward

                  If he asks anyone what they want, just remember to quote Vir.

              • Randy Wilde

                and am now a bit addicted to addressing “wrong on the internet”

                If you find something wrong everywhere you go… maybe it’s you.

                • It’s one thing to go around correcting objective facts which are wrong. It’s another thing entirely to insist that another person’s values are somehow wrong, something which cannot be objectively determined. I’ve never seen Hy make the distinction. I don’t think I’ve seen him even correct anyone’s facts. He just drops in, claims our values are wrong, states a tangentially related ‘fact’ or his own values as evidence, and repeats.

      • I find him very trying.

      • He’s Clamps with better grammar.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      So the de facto white supremacist hasn’t blinded himself, and can see things we cannot. Real things even.

      I am a fool. Tell me, O wise one. How does it serve your trolling agenda to bitch about relatively sound history and prehistory in someone’s ad copy? Do you think Kale comes from the produce section? Do you even know where wastewater for your residence is treated?

      • Trolling agenda: Duty Calls – Someone is _wrong_ on the internet.

        Kale: I wish it would go back where it came from.

        Wastewater: North River Wastewater Treatment Plant

        • Recognizing your shortcomings is the first step in overcoming them. Perhaps you’ll be right about something some day.

        • Something wrong on the internet? Oh, most certainly. Your talents would be best spent trying to clean out /pol/…

        • Trolling agenda, yeah, but you are chasing a tail that belongs to you, because you are the one who is wrong . . . Making your own work at the expense of boredom to others.

        • I have read that individuals have differing sensitivities in their taste buds and sense of smell, which may account to some people’s preferences and dislikes in food. The human is no more a ‘one flavor satisfies all’ being than a ‘one size fits all’ or ‘one style pleases all’ being.

          Julia Child, on hearing that President George H. W. Bush did not like broccoli, pronounced that he must never have had it properly cooked. I may not carry the culinary authority of a Child, but I believe that, regarding Kale, you may not ever have had it at its best. Kale is generally best once touched by a frost. The Tuscan variety can be quiet nice in soup or sauteed in olive oil with garlic.

          But as far as I am concerned if you don’t like Kale you don’t certainly have to eat it. (It leaves more available for the rest of us who do enjoy it.)

          • There’s a specific genetic difference between people who like broccoli and kale (and related brassica vegetables) and people who don’t. Personally, I like them, but I know people who don’t. My only problem with Bush 41 in regards to broccoli was why he felt he had to wait until he was President to tell Barbara not to serve it.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Chuckle Chuckle

              My Mom didn’t learn for years (after us kids grew up) that Dad didn’t like some of the foods she wanted us kids to eat.

              He didn’t want us kids to “use his dislike” to get out of eating certain foods.

              Note, my sister dislikes some of the same foods Dad disliked in spite of Dad not saying a word against them. 😀

    • If you don’t get what the purpose of a story might be there must be nothing to get! If it is not what you see the need for it must not be needed!

      When did you ascend to the center of the universe?

      • In some ways, it’s refreshing to see the pampered pigs dropping their pretensions of caring for the other, lower animals on the farm.

    • Hyrosen, you could only live in a city. And heaven help you if a tiny obstacle stood in your way… like a copy of a John Wright book between saving your kid (you claim to have one) from certain death, and the battery on your cell phone was dead. I mean you wouldn’t be able to call the police, the fire service, etc etc. to do something Joe Sixpack could do in to two seconds with minimal effort, let alone scream for help on the internet for a pogrom to cleanse the contamination.

      I predicted about the launch of this book on MGC ” I daresay our puppy kickers who have displayed over and over that ideology is more important than integrity to them, will be doing their best to hurt on principle, to put up fake reviews and generally to bad-mouth something they haven’t read. That is their normal behavior,”

      Dead on cue, there is Hyrosen. Unable to see the consequences beyond his own immediate gratification, deliberately and willfully destroying the genre he professes to enjoy, and out to damage and attack authors unread to please little friends, able to believe 24% bigger and more important than 76% (because they’re his 24%) and that NYC is representative of the world. Oh and he has a big hatey hate fro John C. Wright, which makes logic irrelevant. He is typical example of the camp-follower puppy-kicker, with no logic and no integrity.

      As for ‘just so’ stories: Kipling sold more copies of that, and helped to do more for Western civilization than all of your ‘darlings’ put together. If I have 1/100 of the impact or the sales I’d be very happy.

      • Your statement “Take that selective pressure away… and these become selected for traits.” is an evolutionary just-so story with no basis in fact or science.

        I have no opinion about your book because I have not read it.

        “you could only live in a city”

        No doubt. People grow specialized, and after enough time, we fit our niches and our niches fit us. I do reject your implicit notion that people who can only live in cities are of lesser value than people who are farmers, or whatever other noble manual labor profession you have in mind. Perhaps you have fallen for communist propaganda?

        This carries the same unattractive whiff of apocalyptic thinking that accompanied the Y2K problem, the notion that some event will tear down society and allow the world to be reshaped to conform to the ideals of the dreamers, demonstrating to everyone how right they always were.

        • Well, as history shows, civilizations never ever collapse. Why, just head over to the Roman Empire, or look at the thriving colonies of the British! Ponder the current triumphs of the Spanish and Portuguese empires, or the vital ongoing work of the German Empire.

          Seriously though, within the past century, we have seen the following major cities turned to rubble: London, Birmingham, Berlin, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Warsaw, Manila, Antwerp. That we would have two massive total wars was unthinkable in 1913 and before.
          Go back just a few short decades, and the USA was pretty much trashed from the Civil War.

        • I should also note that farmers who owned their own land tended to at least not starve during the Depression–or at any other time when societal mechanisms went into complete meltdown.
          And frankly, Hyrosen, in terms of value to society–rather than as human beings–farmers are more valuable than you or I.

          • I have lived rural enough to know people who grew up on farms during the Great Depression and still farm. They all said that the Great Depression was just newspaper stories to them as children except for when relatives’ children came to live with them, and that wasn’t all that uncommon back then anyway, especially if someone had died. Farming was different then, though: their families used horses and seem to have had very few off-farm inputs required–mostly neighbor teen boys to swap around at harvest time.

          • And how did they do in the Dust Bowls? And how will farmers fare in present and future droughts when your favorite collapse scenario turns off the irrigation water supplies?

            Oh, and I thought you people here don’t believe in “value to society” as a concept, except in so far as what other people are willing to trade you, because that’s communist or something. I’m paid for what I do; that’s my value.

            • Here, Hyrosen, have some salve–that strawman your punching’s got to be mighty hard on the hands.

              The fact is, you blithering twit, that most of us DO believe in value to society. We just don’t think the government should be the one to define it. (Observe, again, the Leftist in his natural behavior, proclaiming that if you think the the government shouldn’t do something you think it shouldn’t be done.) Further, your lack of understanding of how farming actually works would be laughable, were it not for the fact that clueless urbanites like yourself are the ones in charge of making national policy.

              • Notice how Hy tends to make a minor quibble, often one that doesn’t actually negate what you said, and treat it as rebutting your entire argument? The fact that “farmers who owned their own land tend not to starve” is not incompatible with “some farmers suffered and had to move during the Dust Bowl”, there’s no mention of anyone starving. This also ignores the larger point that when farmers are having trouble getting food, generally everyone else has the same problem. Any drought that’s going to cause farmers to starve is likely to cause a lot of non-farmers to starve as well. Compare and contrast the Dust Bowl and the Holodomor.

                Which brings up the major point that outright famines tend to be the result of either war or government policy aggravating food shortages.

                • I should also note that farmers who owned their own land tended to at least not starve during the Depression

                  Insert scene from John Ford’s film adaptation of the Grapes of Wrath:
                  Agent: The fact of the matter, Muley, after what them dusters done to the land, the tenant system don’t work no more. You don’t even break even, much less show a profit. Why, one man and a tractor can handle twelve or fourteen of these places. You just pay him a wage and take all the crop.
                  Muley: Yeah, but uh, we couldn’t do on any less than what our share is now. Why, the children ain’t gettin’ enough to eat as it is, and they’re so ragged. We’d be ashamed if everybody else’s children wasn’t the same way.
                  Agent: I can’t help that. All I know is, I got my orders. They told me to tell you to get off, and that’s what I’m tellin’ ya.
                  Muley: You mean get off of my own land?
                  Agent: Now don’t go to blamin’ me! It ain’t my fault.
                  Muley’s son: Who’s fault is it?
                  Agent: You know who owns the land. The Shawnee Land and Cattle Company.
                  Muley: And who’s the Shawnee Land and Cattle Company
                  Agent: It ain’t nobody. It’s a company.
                  Muley’s son: They got a President, ain’t they? They got somebody who knows what a shotgun’s for, ain’t they?
                  Agent: Oh son, it ain’t his fault, because the bank tells him what to do.
                  Muley’s son: All right, where’s the bank?
                  Agent: Tulsa. What’s the use of pickin’ on him? He ain’t nothin’ but the manager. And he’s half-crazy hisself tryin’ to keep up with his orders from the East.
                  Muley: Then who do we shoot?
                  Agent: Brother, I don’t know. If I did, I’d tell ya. I just don’t know who’s to blame.

                  … his orders from the East.

                  From the East — that’d be New York, wouldn’t it? Too big to fail, whether or not they want to be.

              • Has the troll lost his flavor? His Clamp’s level obsession I think justifies banning him, unless you guys are having fun.

                • Ban ‘im with extreme prejudice, for all of me. I’ve been just skipping past his posts, and the posts of people responding to him. He doesn’t even rise to the level of quality of a forum weasel for purposes of being worth snacking on, for my tastes.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  I thought you had already said that you would ban him. [Puzzled Smile]

                  So yes, Ban Him.

                  • I tend to give it a long time, but he’s got on my last nerve.

                  • How fascinating. If I’d looked, he’d have been banned earlier. His IP changes EVERY TIME. 😛

                    • Really? How uncivil.

                    • well, it’s an issue, unless you have some reason for it, as herbn seems to, and explain it to me. Often variable Ip is a trick to avoid being banned.

                    • Which is evidence in favor of the paid troll theory.

                    • Indeed. Most non-paid trolls don’t bother.

                    • “Often variable Ip is a trick to avoid being banned.”

                      *blinks* Uh… okay.

                      Back when I used to be into worrying about that sort of thing, I always used it as a means of foiling tracking. I just thought that an IP randomizer something that the hackishly inclined did as a matter of course. Kind of like having an industrial strength firewall, anti-virus, and being able to bounce off of remote servers.


                      I’ll have to remember not to use a randomizer here then if I get back to where I’m concerned with that sort of stuff again. (Not out of the realm of probability these days with online privacy concerns.)

                    • ironbear: not a big deal if you don’t act like a bellend, as I’m too lazy to check.
                      OR if you tell me beforehand.
                      It’s just something I’ve learned on this blog. And no, not sure why, but variable ip almost always tracks to “crazy troll.”

                    • Oh, and my kids used to use all sorts of proxies for privacy. Then found out most of them are Federal government owned and operated 😀

                    • That’s just odd – some kind of proxy server?

                    • ironbear: not a big deal if you don’t act like a bellend, as I’m too lazy to check.
                      OR if you tell me beforehand.
                      It’s just something I’ve learned on this blog. And no, not sure why, but variable ip almost always tracks to ‘crazy troll.'”
                      – ATH

                      *flips hand negligently* Meh. I’m not even gonna contest that. I haven’t blogged nor managed a forum in so long that I wouldn’t even pretend to know these days.

                      Heh. When I was an admin at ‘Rotica and ‘Rendo, we used to get together and brainstorm with the sysadmins to come up with ways to make the lives of some of our more entertaining banees a living hell when they tried to use IP randomizing to get around the ban hammer. 🙂

                      My favorite was to just get one of our more hackishly inclined members from the Hardware and Technical forum to track them back as far as possible and then drop their details on the ‘kitties over at Sacrificial with a “Free snacks!” sign on ’em.

                      Great for dealing with them individually, but it didn’t do much for pruning them out as a species.

                    • I was not meaning to be dismissive when I posted ‘Really? How uncivil.’ Rather I hoped to be arch. Is there an appropriate emoji to flag arch?

                      I am not often in favor of banning, choosing rather to let people choose to ignore idiocy or not for themselves, but after a stream of illogical, inconsistent, ignorant and irrational statements I can say he has inspired irritation sufficient to be a candidate for the hammer — particularly when accompanied by a flag such as ever shifting IPs.

                • I’m having fun, if for no other reason than “let the idiots keep talking” is good strategy.

              • I recommend a reading of The Last Centurion as a therapy for that shortfall.

            • They PAY you for what you do? Good grief. Whatever for? You have demonstrably negative value to any enterprise. You can’t manage elementary logic. You somehow imagine that hunter-gatherers and farmers – did not innovate, until by Hyrosen’s magic spontaneous generation suddenly, suddenly there were cities out of nothing. One moment caves the next magically cities – in which the non-innovation genetic and cultural capacity just abruptly was there, a la Lamark instantly. You know I’ve come across a lot of people who have neither a grasp of history nor logic, and live in bubble convinced they’re ‘brilliant’ before – but you take it to whole new level. Math that grade three kids understand is too hard for you. Yes most kids in the third grade know 24 is less than 76. You couldn’t figure it out. Value? All you ever do is regurgitate the loonier left wing garbage – and you express that so poorly that it is easy for anyone to shred.

              Hyrosen if you and all of the puppy kickers because of your ENORMOUS value to society were popped onto Ark B – because you’re so valuable… would the world notice? Would society be any worse off?

            • <i.And how did they do in the Dust Bowls? And how will farmers fare in present and future droughts when your favorite collapse scenario turns off the irrigation water supplies?

              It’s obvious you know nothing about dry farming. My maternal grandfather was an accomplished dryland farmer who rarely failed to make a cotton/grain/peanut crop. He also kept cattle (dairy and beef), hogs, and chickens so there was always food in the event his crops failed that year. He never was rich, but had enough money to raise 16 kids on that 400 acres he farmed for over 60 years.

              He never irrigated. That part of Glasscock County never had good groundwater for irrigation.

                “The Dust Bowl forced tens of thousands of families to abandon their farms.”

                • One of the causes of the Dust Bowl was the application of inappropriate farming methods for the area.

                  • FeatherBlade

                    And land speculators who lived in the cities and didn’t manage their farmland appropriately (or at all).

                • He and quite a few more stuck it out and not only survived, but thrived because they used appropriate farming techniques to make a living. It was not easy though

                • The lesson is that the disaster for which you are prepared may not be the disaster that occurs. The further lesson is that spending a significant portion of your life making such preparations may be a colossal waste of time. You can still see old and faded fallout shelter signs in New York City neighborhoods, for example.

                  If the preparations are something you would want to be doing anyway, that’s fine, but otherwise you risk turning into Ted Kaczynski lite.

                  • And fallout shelters are no longer relevant – why? OK, I can maybe see why in NYC; fallout shelters are less than ideal. Against the immediate effects of nuclear weapons (blast, radiation, thermal), fallout shelters provide minimal protection, but if ‘they’ nuked McGuire AFB in Joisey or used a dirty bomb it might come in awfully handy to have one close by.

                    • oh, because the cold war is over and we’re all singing kumbaya. Yes, Hyrosen REALLY is that puerile.

                    • They’re also handy as tornado shelters; generally, you see both signs together in DC.

                      A risk management process (which is what disaster preparedness is) is an important thing to have. Different people can reasonably come up with different risks; what’s important is going through the process.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      John Ringo talked in Last Centurion about “problems” with disaster planning.

                      Plan to use buses to get people out of disaster areas, but when the disaster happens, no drivers are available, etc. 😉

                    • The state of Texas recently discovered that even if you have sufficient buses and drivers in the face of a hurricane it is not enough when you have limited roadways to higher ground.

                • Minor point. Most of those who abandoned their farms were 1) commercial farmers “suitcase farmers” who plowed for wheat but had a job elsewhere and were farming for extra income or to raise the value of land before selling it and 2) share-croppers and tenant farmers or renters. And that was in part because of how the AAA and other New Deal relief acts made payments.

            • Oh, and I thought you people here don’t believe in “value to society” as a concept, except in so far as what other people are willing to trade you, because that’s communist or something. I’m paid for what I do; that’s my value.

              “The stupid… it burns.”

              The fact that Hy can’t see the contradiction inherent in these two sentences, placed right next to each other, is as scathing an indictment of the level of thought he’s putting in to this as anything else he’s said.

              It’s a trifle outdated, but there’s still a place for the old ‘heirarchy of needs’, of which physiological needs (such as food) form the base and more intellectual needs tend to form the top. Pointing out that without food, people will starve, and as such the food production network (including farmers) is more important to society than, say, the New York publishing industry shouldn’t be controversial.

              • I think that for Hyrosen, this picture is not satire–it’s reality.

              • There are many professions society tends to dismiss which are essential.

                By this time what I am about to relate Daddy was a top partner in one of the top five international law firms, few achieve this level, and he was paid accordingly. If you are to judge his value by his pay you would conclude that he was very important to society, although certainly not anywhere near as important as a solid lead off pitcher in the major leagues.

                Anyway, after several Christmas days in a row needing to call in a plumber, Daddy pronounced that plumbers were more important to society than he was. Still, he understood that ultimately if the plumbing doesn’t work the world will all turn to shit.

                • As someone descended from a plumber, I can empathize with this on some level, even as I see the logical flaw which leads you to underestimate your father. While international law and entertainment (baseball) are likely less essential than sanitation to the functioning of human society, it’s likely your father’s work on international law impacted a lot more people indirectly than my grandfather’s plumbing business, by many orders of magnitude. Likewise, the number of people willing to pay to sit in the stadium and watch baseball over a season is probably far more than the number of people a plumber can reasonably service in that period.

                  I’ve seen a trend in stories involving superheroes (or people with superpowers) performing mundane work. Yes, Superman would be really handy on a construction site, flying girders into place and welding them with his heat-vision. But there are a lot of cranes, and a lot of welders, and only a handful of Kryptonians in the DC universe, and it’s much easier to build a crane or train a welder then find another Kryptonian (and hope he’s a boy scout). Further, there are a lot of construction sites, and a lot of other places where a Kryptonian would be handy. One of the reasons it makes sense in stories to have people with superpowers function as emergency response workers (or, similarly, crime fighters) are that emergencies are places where you don’t have time to seek another option. A net is probably a lot cheaper than Superman for saving a falling construction worker, but unless the net is already there, it’s not an option.

                  To get back to our original example, a superpowered plumber could possibly be able to fix the plumbing of as many people as watch baseball games during a season, but his time would likely be worth at least as much as the baseball players no matter what he was doing.

                  • Do not underestimate your grandfather’s work. My mother’s father, a doctor, argued that modern sanitation, indoor plumbing, may be the single greatest health advance mankind has ever made. Your grandfather may have worked on the plumbing on a limited number of places. By keeping the up the sanitation in those places he reduced the number of sources of infection. That reduction had a positive effect far beyond those who directly received his services.

                    • Every time I fix someone’s toilet by lifting the tank lid and jiggling the rod so the flapper closes, I silently thank my grandfather. He was a good man, and for more reasons than just his work as a plumber.

                      As I think about it, there are two contrasting views I see common among the economically illiterate that I generally feel compelled to correct. One is, as you point out, not understanding the value and taking for granted of all those small, seemingly insignificant links in the systems of modern society, like plumbers and farmers. The other is not understanding the value brought to the table by those that work on a large scale and get paid commensurately, like biglaw lawyers and baseball players.

                      I had a really good teacher one year of elementary school, rated one of the best in a top-performing large public school system. He had switched to become a teacher from a higher-paying job. At a recent high-school reunion (most of us going to the same high school), a bunch of us got together and talked about how much of an impact he had, and we all agreed how much we learned from him. Somebody of a more liberal bent would take this as an excuse to say how valuable he was and how he and all teachers deserve the amount of money that a baseball player or other such ‘undeserving’ person would make. But, logically, I have to do the math: we were a pretty good group to begin with, and our peers at the reunion were doing about as well as we were (with merely good teachers). He had perhaps 30 classes over the course of his career, so taught perhaps 900 students. There are more than 3 million teachers in the US, so his story is also not quite indicative.

                    • It’s really hard to estimate the value of individual good teachers, though. You looked around and saw your peers at the same success level, but you were considering only one teacher amongst (Really, Firefox? Yes, it’s a real word, and it’s spelled correctly) dozens that you had while going to school, so the overall effect was necessarily small. You also have to factor in the parents and their motivation of their children. Could be that if all your teachers had been as good, the average for your class would have been much higher.

                    • It’s really hard to estimate the value of individual good teachers, though. You looked around and saw your peers at the same success level, but you were considering only one teacher amongst (Really, Firefox? Yes, it’s a real word, and it’s spelled correctly) dozens that you had while going to school, so the overall effect was necessarily small. You also have to factor in the parents and their motivation of their children. Could be that if all your teachers had been as good, the average for your class would have been much higher.

                      But there are tens of millions of students, and only a handful of really good teachers. And how do you identify both the good teachers and choose the lucky students that get them as teachers? Do you assign them to the gifted few, where the education might be more advantageous for society, or do you choose to try to save a few of the poorer students, who might benefit more personally from having a good instructor (as you point out, with involved parents the gifted students are likely to succeed regardless of who teaches them). More importantly, it’s the Super-Construction Worker problem all over again; perhaps the best teachers should be teaching other teachers how to teach better? Where’s the best place for a skilled agricultural expert: an individual farm, where he might double the yield with careful attention, or an agricultural college, where his knowledge might improve the yield of all farmers by 1%?

                    • Er, it only seemed to me that you were saying that the teacher you perceived as being a very good teacher had a negligibly higher contribution to your education than any of the other teachers, and I was pointing out that this was only due to the fact that he was but one of many, so it’s not surprising that his excellence was not able to affect the overall result by a great amount. I wasn’t really addressing the issue of what form the contribution of a superman should take. Sorry if it seemed that way.

                    • ironbear055

                      “Where’s the best place for a skilled agricultural expert: an individual farm, where he might double the yield with careful attention, or an agricultural college, where his knowledge might improve the yield of all farmers by 1%?” – Civilis

                      Obviously, the best place for him is wherever the skilled agricultural expert decides that he/she wants to work. Duh.

                    • So far as the government is concerned, you are correct.
                      The academics need to do a cost/benefit analysis, but should also not have the coercive power.

                  • Speaking of plumbers and their value. A surgeon had a plumbing problem on the week end. He called a plumber, who discovered the problem was simple and fixed it in about 15 minutes. He presented the doctor a bill for $ 200. The surgeon went ballistic. ” Why that’s $ 800 an hour! I’m a surgeon and I don’t make that much! ” The plumber replied,
                    ” Yeah, I didn’t either when I was a surgeon. “

                  • a superpowered plumber could possibly be able to fix the plumbing of as many people as watch baseball games during a season

                    A sudden gust of wind, a red blur, sudden “Ka-Whoosh” and disappearance of that awful stench — we’ve been saved by … the Flush!

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                You are gifting him with the presumption he is being honest. If he is only a little intelligent, he may simply be producing lies that aren’t transparent to him. If his goal is making it appear that there is native opposition to the masters of the hounds, a lie that would only fool him 10% of the time may be sufficient. In his eyes. You don’t need very plausible lies if your audience for them is willing to do the needed work believing them.

                If the man claimed that ontogeny recapitulated phrenology, how many puppy kickers would purport to believe it because they are leftists who fear being shunned by the left. He may not be aware that there are higher intellectual standards that people can meet.

              • Any statement from Hyr that begins with or contains the phrase “I thought” is presumptively an assertion contrary to fact.

              • After seeing several comments about the value of lawyers, plumbers, and teachers, I think I would add this: no matter what station in life, we’re simultaneously highly influential and highly useless. We never know what our words and deeds will do for others, for good or ill; likewise, if I were to suddenly die, chances are, between support networks and replacement employees, my roles can be filled without me.

                It’s tempting to talk about pay as a substitute for value, but it is not: it’s merely a signal that gives an approximate ratio between how many people need that particular service, and how many people are willing to do it. There are millions of teachers, and many who want to become teachers, hence teachers aren’t paid that much. On the other hand, hardly anyone wants to be a lawyer, so lawyers don’t get paid that much.

                (To further complicate issues, sometimes the reason why so few people are plumbers, is because those few want to go through the crap we call licensing, unions and apprentices–in other words, the scarcity is artificial, and has little to do with ability to do the work.)

                Acting and sports-playing is weird, though: everyone wants to be an actor and an athlete, and it’s relatively easy to find both…but there’s a certain tiny percentage of either that’s good enough for entertainment purposes to pay, and it seems that when we find such people, we want to pay them a lot. I don’t think it’s strictly a talent issue, though, because popularity seems to be a big factor. If I can convince hundreds of millions of people to give me a penny, I’ll be a millionaire! And the most successful actors and athletes are people who have convinced millions to give them pennies, probably by giving out a few pennies worth of entertainment now and again…

                • ironbear055

                  “hence teachers aren’t paid that much.”

                  I keep seeing this stated as a truism, and yet when I go to various school websites across the country and download their PDF files and look, the numbers I see listed for salaries don’t bear out the “not paid that much” aphorism.

            • What POSSIBLE relevance does that question have to the statement that 60guilders made? His point was that many farmers were hardly even inconvenienced by the Depression, because they were farmers.

              The Dust Bowl causing a lot of farmers to lose their livelihoods, while temporally related to the Depression, is irrelevant, because the Depression was not the cause of their trouble. There was a long-term DROUGHT. If such a drought had hit farmers in any OTHER region, many of THEM would have lost their livelihoods as well.

              Farmers in non-drought-ravaged locations were able to grow enough food for their families, and most used part of their farm’s production to purchase things that they couldn’t make for themselves. My father lived on such a farm. Much of his family’s income came from selling the cream from the milk their cows gave. Dad said he never had to worry about being told not to drink too much of the milk, but it was all skim milk (except for some buttermilk, I believe – I’m sure they made their own butter). They didn’t have a shortage of meat, they made their own molasses, and the supplemented their food with a little wild foraging. They didn’t have much money, but they made out pretty well, considering the time.

        • It may have been a minor word choice error, but the principle is valid. If selective pressure which was slowly removing a particular trait is removed, that trait will rebound, because the carriers of that trait will no longer die in as great numbers.

          This is a plain and simple breeding principle, with no recourse to evolutionary processes necessary.

        • The people I admire are bigger than their niches.

  2. Fourthly – that delicious home grown veggie – tastes that way because it’s flavored with a lot of sweat. Trust me on this, it is better when that’s someone else’s sweat.

    I mentioned to my sister –what if we had a garden; it would be good for the kids, etc. She didn’t mention sweat; she mentioned backaches in her adamant opposition and lack of nostalgia.

    • I worked as a mother’s helper on a farm in Eastern Tennessee one summer. It proved a challenge to someone who had grown up in the suburbs and city of Philadelphia.

      Some of the work had not been so bad. My primary job was to supervise the two boys, one turned 10 that summer and the other would be 12 in the fall. It had been rather fun harvesting the wild plums in their dense shady thickets, although the bugs had been a bit of a problem. Then I recall the sauna the old farmhouse kitchen turned into when we were putting up wild plum cheese. I don’t believe I have ever have been as intensely hot, not even when I spent a time working as a cook in a restaurant.

      Nostalgia? There is a little, but it is tempered by reality.

  3. And is brawn the same as souse (which isn’t sausage, but something else that I don’t think makes it off the farm nowadays)?

    • Oh, go to southeastern PA sometime. You can most certainly buy souse.

      • My gut rebelled and left me a vegetarian, but I still fondly recall a number meat based foods for which there is no substitute. One of those being another southeastern Pennsylvania item: Habbersatt’s Scrapple (I am partial to that brand).

        Scrapple is a pork sausage and corn meal mush mixture which is put up in a loaf shape. Sliced and pan fried it forms a crisp outer shell. It has a savory taste which goes very well as part of a breakfast along side eggs and spiced apple rings.

        • Souse, scrapple, chow chow, pickled peppers, shoo-fly pie, dandelion leaves over boiled potatoes and wilted with a hot bacon dressing…memories of childhood…

          • My childhood food memories are eclectic. Daddy was a Philadelphian, born of Philadelphians. Momma’s father was the son of New York Russian Jewish immigrants (first and second generations) and her mother was of the finest of southern lineages. My food memories are all over the place, from picnics New York style potato salad, slices Jersey beefsteak tomato and grilled kosher hot dogs, to southern summer vegetable suppers with tomato rice. I was pretty young still when Momma decided to work her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

            But one funny thing. It was Daddy, the Philadelphian, and not Momma, who made grits. I really loved his ‘pigs in blankets’ — slow cooked grits sprinkled with crisp crumbled bacon.

            • My dad was from Philadelphia, but he ran away from home and spent his high school years on a farm near a small town in upstate New York. He was captain of the 7-man football team (I said it was a small town), and said that on Friday nights, they’d go “downtown” and see who’d rented the hotel room.

              Mom was from Liverpool, England. Since Dad didn’t do much more than grilling, most of my childhood food memories are of British food, as well as whatever she acquired from recipe shows (I have her mimeographed recipes from “Mile High Menu Theater”), newspaper food columns, and women’s magazines.

        • Similar to those, but localized to the Cincinnati, OH area, is Goetta, which is pork and beef sausage, onions, and steel cut (or pinhead) oats, cooked together and either formed into a large loaf or into a chub, like sausage. Mmmm…

          • Is Goetta the German immigrant’s answer to Haggis?

            • I dunno. The origins of it might include the unappetizing bits, the same way that original scrapple (so I understand) or head cheese do, but the way it’s made now, it’s just a sausage meatloaf that uses oats instead of bread.

    • I think it is pan fried brains in gravy. At least that is what I was told once. It and head-cheese are things I cannot get past my lips.

  4. Are we as far from the land as we think? I was rather startled at how readily we adapted to keeping chickens, and how cool most of our suburban neighbors were with it.

    • I have no issue with my neighbor keeping goats, as long as he cleans out the straw regularly enough the wind doesn’t carry the smell.

      I have no issue with neighbors having chickens… but if one of the cute little chicks turns out to be a loud rooster, we’re going to have a neighborly chat on the need for recipes for coq au vin.

      • We do have a loud rooster, but the one person he bothers the most is me … the neighbor on one side has four extremely loud basset hounds, and the neighbor on the other is elderly, and her bedroom is on the far side of the house. Everyone else seems to be rather nostalgically fond of the sound of Larry-Bird at a distance. And we keep them sweet with regular supplies of fresh eggs, since we can’t possibly eat the girls’ daily output.

        • It was always the snakes in the chicken coop that bothered me. That and being told to just grab their neck and pull if a broody hen was setting on the nest.

          • Your chickens were too well fed if there were snakes in the coop. 🙂

            • Yep. I watched a bunch of hens kill and eat a small rattlesnake one day when I was still in high school. They were hell on mice too.

              • descended from t-rex and velociraptors

                • Are you sure? I mean, that the velociraptors weren’t the mild-mannered cousins?

                  Add me to the list of folks who can attest to chickens eating snakes.

                  • We all should be glad they are smaller than pigs. Just imagine if Chickens were pushing the half ton range!

                    • Pigs are by far the smarter.

                      From what I remember of chickens the only farm animal dumber was the domestic turkey. So, while a giant chicken might be mean as all cuss, it would, at least, still be stupid.

                    • I have an intense dislike of live chickens. Also, I’m allergic to feathers. Otherwise I’d keep chickens, as I grew up with them. But yes. They are terrifyingly stupid. (And even so we had pet chickens, including the one grandma brought me as an egg and let emerge in my hand one fine Spring morning. I was highly disappointed it turned from sweet yellow fluffy to mean brown rooster, but he was still my pet.)

                • The Other Sean

                  Or at least sharing common ancestors with them.

    • Celia. Many of us are not. 🙂 And this is good.

    • ironbear055

      It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in suburbs or semi-rural suburbs. When I was growing up in Oak Cliff, we had a number of neighbors (in the lived within a half mile sense of neighbor) who had chickens and ducks. A couple who had bigger yards had horses or ponies. Several had goats… usually pygmies, but even a couple of full sized. A number of people kept guinea hens, and a few of the more upper middle class along Hampton Rd. near Stevens Park had peafowl for living lawn ornaments.

      As late as 1998, a number of the Mexican families in my area of Oak Cliff had chickens.

      I take it that in general, that has changed a lot in intervening decades?

      • FeatherBlade

        Depends. Single house lot sizes in (small) cities have gotten smaller (the better to increase developer profits) and houses have gotten larger, so there’s less room for animals and gardening. There can also be city ordinances prohibiting agricultural animals within city limits, and limiting the number of animals allowed to reside on a single lot.

        That last has been changing a bit in recent years, because of the interest in keeping chickens in the backyard.

        • ironbear055

          Makes sense. Last time I lived in Dallas, I had to get friends in Ennis to board my two Aussies for me as all of the apartment complexes had 25 pound or less size limits on pets.

          Weya last saw twenty-five pounds as a 9 week old puppy. He hit eighty average by the time he was physically mature at a year and a half.

          • Likely something in that – I lived in a lovely 1,000-square foot house built in the 1930s in a Utah suburb, which had a huge yard – narrow but deep, with a shed out back which had originally been intended for chickens, a good-sized vegetable patch, and a number of fruit trees. I currently live in a suburban house of about the same size, on a lot about the same width, but only about a a third the depth.

  5. Working tobacco motivated me to finish high school and get a college degree.If I never have to be around the 600-pound piggies when one boar gets a tooth stuck in the pipe fence he was chewing on, and becomes utterly enraged, I’ll be a happy, happy woman.

    I really enjoy the pots of fresh herbs I’m growing, and look forward to fighting the birds for mulberries off the tree to make pie, but I’m not up for a garden this year, much less self-sufficiency. Biology is messy, stinky, and milk goat (or cows) have to be tended every day (or twice a day), no matter whether you want a vacation or not. And chickens… chickens taught me that revenge is a dish best served steaming hot, with a side of garlic bread. (Pressure cookers help on stringy old hens.)

    I admire your stamina and fortitude, and have no wish to imitate it.

    • Chickens is what drove me out of the country and into the city, so I can commiserate.

      I could handle rocking (younger, rather uncaring of physical labor…). I could handle corn borer. I could handle fencing, and frantic, last-minute harvest time when the weather starts to turn foul too early. I could handle the flooding… Seriously, how does an 8 degree slope forty foot above the creek line get to flood? I could handle the early mornings and late nights…

      But for some reason those dang birds gave me the itchy feet. Now I’ll not say as I don’t grow a little tomatoes, peppers, taters, and suchlike on my little patch, but that’s just simples. But chickens these days come from the market, and savory bacon from the butcher downtown. *grin* Someone else’s sweat indeed.

      Now I just need to keep finding people to foist some of these veggies off on…

      • Farming only comes in two seasons: Too Much, and Not Enough.

        Thus was canning invented, and I’ll be happy as a cat in a sunbeam if I can stay far away from steam burns and the nasty slices from broken glass. Although, I do miss the smell of the smoke house…

        But I will very happily pay for someone else’s sweat labor!

        • SheSellsSeashells

          My child is a tomato addict, and thus we have three garden seasons at my house: Hands Off the Tomatos; OK, You May Have a Tomato; and Please For the Love of God Eat the Tomatoes.

          • The younger of the two boys I cared for as a mother’s helper insisted on growing cucumbers, and he planted his entire packet. In due time he thinned them, but it was a very good season for cukes, and they more than thrived. But so did everyone else’s, so …

            I suggest you forgot a fourth season: Is There ANYONE ANYWHERE Left We Can Unload These Damned Things Upon?

            • In Tennessee one year, I remarked to my shift before it began that I understood it was zucchini season. As I’d sprained my wrist in a nasty fall on concrete the prior spring, I’d been unable to plant anything this year. My car doors, I elaborated, were unlocked, and would remain so for the next two days. Just so they knew. Ahem. On to the morning news!

              Several of the kids from the suburbs and several from the ghetto looked very confused. The kids who had grown up riding tractors explained with much giggling, as they headed off to their shifts.

              I was expecting the zucchini. I wasn’t expecting the extra bags of cucumbers, and tomatoes, but hey, free veggies! Even better, after having it explained to them, a bunch of the city kids started gleefully swapping stuff in the parking lot with the country kids. Officially, of course, I knew nothing, saw nothing, and certainly never sent certain parties out the door on an extra break to make sure the coon dog puppies in the back of the truck were checked on frequently and given plenty of water before going home to a new owner.

              • Three teachers have large gardens. The work-room ranneth over.

                A parent cans. You want pickles in spears, slices, spicy, sweet, dill, or “mystery secret recipe?”

              • I keep telling people I’m open to zucchini on the front porch, but they never GET it.

                • Once again I find that I regret you live so far away…

                  • Me too – I’ve tried and tried and tried again, but I just can’t grow f**ling in South Texas. Everyone can grow zucchini, but somehow my garden is cursed.

                    On the other hand – yes, beans; pole beans.

                • You live in an odd neighborhood. Around these parts, you lock your car doors so no one sneaks a crate of zucchini into the back seat.

              • sabrinachase

                Zucchini pickles cover a multitude of sins. The recipe I have is a bit labor-intensive but SO good.

                My parents inflicted my childhood with a huge garden of various weird vegetables. We were eating bok choi and kohlrabi before it was cool. One year my father decided we were going to do four full rows of string beans. it was…a very good year for beans. We literally could not pick them fast enough to freeze. Good beans, but still there comes a time when you really have had enough string beans.

                • I have a zucchini pickle recipe that involves Turmeric. Weird, but TASTY, yellow pickles (yes, I know zucchini are green. Turmeric colors EVERYTHING).

                • madame, check your email.

                • “but still there comes a time when you really have had enough string beans.”

                  Fifty. Five gallon buckets. Of string beans. I was, I think, four. I think this is what soured me on beans so early, such that it took twenty years for me to reacquire the taste even a little bit.

                  • Maybe. I remember the time we were eating spaghetti sauce from the bumper harvest more than two years after it, but never lost my taste for it.

                    Then, most of that got turned into sauce. (And the green ones at frost into mincemeat.)

                • I’ve not grown zucchini in years, but somewhere I still have my mother’s recipe for zucchini bars. Surprisingly tasty.

                  • A priest, a rabbi and an imam walk into a zucchini bar. They dump three bushel baskets on the piano and flee.

                • Come summer I shall have to remember to ask for recipes…

            • When we moved into our first home, I finally had space for a garden.

              Planted something like a dozen zucchini plants. They all survived. We had plenty to eat. At every meal, later in the summer. Took off for a week of camping, came back to zucchini the size of small baseball bats. Some not so small. And we’d picked every edible-sized fruit off those plants the day before we left.

              After a while it was “if that parked car’s door isn’t locked, it must mean they’d like some zucchini”.

              My wife does, however, have a killer zucchini pie that you cannot tell isn’t apple, so we learned more that summer than “don’t plant so many zucchini next time”.

              • I have learned the method of shredding zuchinni and vacuum sealing it, then stacking it in the freezer. While it’s certainly um, underappreciated while abundant, it’s quite lovely in midwinter.

                • We found that shredded zucchini, ziplock-sealed and stuffed into a new pair of boots, then parked in the freezer overnight was a quick way to break in the new boots. And the zucchini was still good for later use in the kitchen.

            • CACS, Garrison Keillor once said the people in Lake Woebegone always locked their cars…to keep anyone from leaving a bag of tomatoes or zucchinis in them. He also said you know you have too many zucchinis when you start making Zucchini Daiquiris.

              • Regarding Keillor, he may have said as much about tomatoes and zucchinis maybe. As I recall, according to Keillor, fresh sweet corn was never to be refused.

            • SheSellsSeashells

              Fortunately, Season Three is shortly followed by Mommy Is Bored and Will Start Canning Now (have learned that purple tomatoes make the best spaghetti sauce in the known universe, if only I can duplicate my off-the-cuff recipe this year.) SQUASH, we have trouble unloading. Peas and tomatoes stay safely at home in one form or another, and we’ll see what happens with the melons this year…(I am a crafter-type person, and in the garden this seems to translate into a distressing habit of going OOOOOH NEW SEEDS!!! without wondering if the seeds make something we’d *like to eat*.)

          • My dad had a large garden, so his seasons were, OK, You (neighbors) Can Have a Couple of Tomatoes, PLEASE, Somebody Come Get Some Tomatoes!, and “OK, This Weekend We’re Canning Tomatoes, Next Weekend, Tomato Juice, and the Weekend After, Tomato Sauce”.

            Other crops had similar seasons. Except potatoes. Then, there was, “Peas and New Potatoes!”, “Dig a Hill Every Couple of Days”, and “Harvest ALL the Potatoes! (Pickup truck bed half full)”.

            • SheSellsSeashells

              One of the simultaneous best and worst of my childhood memories is when the medium-time farmer up the road called us in a panic because a hailstorm was coming in over his Silver Queen fields. My parents and I worked our tails off until the (small) hailstones got too thick, went home with a truck bed full of corn, and continued to work our tails off until the wee hours of the night getting it shucked, boiled and frozen. But it was so very, very tasty…. 🙂

        • Lord bless my folks, I don’t think I ever saw “Not Enough” but twice. Nowadays we have the back pantry, which has some of the long-storage stuff, the front pantry, which has the regular use stuff (like canned tomatoes, which I use in everything), the fresh stuff on the kitchen counter, and the basement… where fermented juices are stored for company. *chuckle*

          Canning season is what youngsters are for. They have to learn those lessons the hard way, too! At least, so I was told, many a year ago. *grin*

    • I think tobacco has motivated a many a person to dig in and do their math homework one more night.

  6. Whenever people play “what if” games about the end of civilization and talk about the guns they are going to loot, my stock answer is to find the biggest, meanest group I can and tell them, “If you keep me alive you can have hot showers.”

    • Tell their women that, and you’ll be feted, anointed, and have servants and apprentices impressed upon you to do your bidding!

      I turned down good jobs in the bush, after discovering just how deeply and truly addicted to hot running water I am. It’s not that I can’t live without it; it’s that I have no wish to do so ever again.

      • ironbear055

        “I turned down good jobs in the bush, after discovering just how deeply and truly addicted to hot running water I am.”

        *enthusiastic nod* Civilization is a place with hot and cold running water, flush toilets, and pizza delivery.

      • I don’t drink, smoke, chew, or use drugs. I don’t gamble or cheat on my wife. I don’t even speed.

        But I *will* run the water heater cold twice a day…

    • Sara the Red

      Yep. Hot water is the #1 reason I’m not interested in becoming 100% live-off-the-land type, no matter how much it appeals to romantic sensibilities.

      I’m not opposed to having a garden/food animals to supplement (especially as I live in the arse-end of nowhere, and the food supply chain to the stores is…problematic in both cost and the fact that the 9-month winters can and often do shut down the interstate). And, if worse comes to worse, I do then have the basic skills for survival (though i’d best get better at saving seed…)

      But hot water…if civilization ended I would indeed give great honor to the one who could provide running hot water. ^_^ (In a pinch, a very large pot, a cup, and heated water will do, but…)

      That’s not a bad idea. Perhaps I’ll find that same group and say “…and I know how to make soap!” 😀

      • Wasn’t that in The Postman? Something like: …it was the women….

        • Sara the Red

          I think it was. I only read it the once, though, because it got very, very, very weird at the end. (One of the few cases where I kinda sorta prefer the film to the book. Heresy, I know, but…)

          • As I recall, it got weird, a bit, then it started making sense again at the end. The novella sort of “popped” better to me than the novel; it had a little more snap in it I guess I would say.

          • ironbear055

            @Sara the Red

            *nod* I actually preferred the movie to the novel.

            I think the novel would have been better as a straight post-apocalypse after the fall if he had just left out all of the genetically engineered supermen crap. The movie was more intrinsically satisfying in that the main character and the supporting characters solved the problem themselves without needing supermen to bail them out against the other supermen.

            Plus, with his sort of deadpan delivery, Kevin Costalot is well suited to movies and roles like that where over emoting would be a detriment to the character.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          Yeah, IIRC the engineered supersoldier who came out of retirement to save everybody’s bacon did so because the women just Looked at him. A lot.

      • The Other Sean

        Outside of an EOTWAWKI situation, hot water for showering and washing should be practical. The main constraints are water, fuel (or sun in some cases), and waste water disposal. Since the first two are basically required to survive in the long run, it is proper waste water disposal that’s the sticking point. A decent dry well could be sufficient solution there. For the rest, if you’ve got them solved, a simple foot pump or battery-powered pump can get water flowing through a shower head well enough.

        • Another method is to take a fair sized coil of plastic water pipe/hose and build a very large compost pile around it.

          • In Africa, a copper pipe is used instead, and a small firebox is built to have the fire inside the coils. Much more efficient on stop / start than compost, and removes the wait time for the heat to soak up, as well as the issue of cooling the thermal source.

            • Here’s an interesting thought: could the heat generated by compost be used as a low grade power source, maybe with a thermocouple or stirling engine?

              • Sure it could. but the amount of material and tinkering required to get it running and keep it running are going to make it seriously impractical.

                • I think you could make it practical, but it would require industrial levels of compost.

                  • One of the neighbors of the family I worked for as a mother’s helper were an extended family that held six farms in the area. They kept dairy cattle. They had dug huge cuts in the side of several sizable hills which they would fill in turns with the cleanings from the barns. After a couple years they would dig the oldest one out to use as fertilizer. I would guess it counted as small scale industry…

              • IIRc it’s been used to heat the water for hot water radiators

              • It was the original way to heat greenhouses.

        • Or, alternatively, use the waste water for something else. Like irrigation.

          • The Other Sean

            The waste water from showering/bathing is likely to have at least some small amounts of human fecal matter in it. Probably not a major problem, but I’d avoid irrigating food plants with it.

            • Wouldn’t that be part of the reason one would wash the food plants beforehand, or could solve via drip irrigation?
              (Serious question, this is something I know little about)

              • The Other Sean

                I confess to ignorance. I know a lot more about the plumbing than I do about the plants, and I only know the plumbing because I’ve looked into both cabins and compact camper plans over the years.

              • The long answer is in this month’s issue of Backwoods Home Magazine; if you’re interested or want it for research, I recommend buying the issue and reading the full thing.

                The short answer is: E coli doesn’t travel on its own very far outside of a digestive system, unless it’s in running water. Therefore, if the water is used in an underground irrigation system, there’s no way for it to travel from the roots up to the fruit/vegetable. However, if it’s used aboveground, you need to be very, very careful of splashes and splatters. This is a mitigated on food plants that are washed & cooked beforehand, and a severe issue on low-to-ground vegetables and greens that are eaten raw. (Especially salad greens, explaining why organically-fertilized spinach seems to be a common contaminated plant.)

              • FeatherBlade

                “Yes” to the first, “hmmm… Good question” to the second.

    • That was a real morale booster for me at AIT (Advance Individual Training) at Ft. Lee; we had showers in the field because that, too, is a quartermaster function. Then I got send to a chemical unit–a heavy decon unit; guess what was on their five-ton trucks–water heaters and pumps; with a hose, a tank, a small tent, and pallet to stand on. Ta-da, showers. Then we changed commanders and about that time showers were no longer an auxiliary function (from a change in doctrine, I gather). Turns out that if you leave a five gallon can of water in the sun out on a mild day, it’s okay to give yourself a bird-bath.

      And yes, I did laugh at those people in New York City who discovered what I was taught at age 5 or 6; if you dump 3-4 gallons of water into the toilet bowl, it flushes. I have no idea why no one on cruise ships which have lost power has figured that out yet (or maybe they are the ones who just shrug when the reporters ask how it was). Fill your tubs up, people, before the storm hits.

  7. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    Buy this book, it’s really good. As for producers over takers and fakers, there are real problems coming.

  8. Some of the best meat on the hog is found in the head.
    I would say the archtypical example of hunter gatherers would be most of the American Indian tribes. Who according to that most eminent scholar hyrosen never managed to develop a culture, religion, or any art of note as they were too busy scratching out a bare existence.
    On the other hand, such a life, or farming for that matter, means work from sun to sun seven days a week. For many, working a ten hour day, with only a half day on Saturday, and all of Sunday off, was a glorious relief. Particularly in that other people would give you all the food you could eat in exchange for a few paltry coins. And for a few more they would even cook it for you. Life was good, and easy.

  9. This is part of the disturbing trend of ‘teaching how to look up’. Instead of having students able to multiply and divide we simply give them calculators. Instead of memorization and the ability to derive equations from first principles we spoon feed it. And what happens when the systems they use to look things up fails. Civilization is a fragile thing. It took one power station failing to send the east coast into blackout.

    As to the importance of cities, they are useful for service economies where you need to meet face to face to trade. And would often grow up around the areas where trade already happened or where manufacturing drew many people. But with today’s cities, the centralization of services and fact that many there do not plan ahead (Look at the wailing after Sandy when they didn’t have 3 days of food stored for a hurricane predicted far in advance) and cannot get food or water unless an entire economic ecosystem supports them. In civilization as we have it now, they can be benefits as opposed to true rural life, but they higher ones standard is, the further the fall.

    • Someone posted an algebra problem on a car forum where I participated. The form was simple, A/B, but the numerator had a couple of parentheses and so did the denominator. Those of us who could work with pencil and paper got one answer; the calculator people got a different, very wrong, answer. One of the older guys was about to have surgery for an aneurysm. I told him I hoped his anesthetist was not doing the chemical formula calculations with a calculator. If the doctor was, then I would miss him greatly and would send flowers.

      • A few days ago I saw folks insisting that:
        1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 x 0 + 1 = ?
        had an answer of 5, rather than 1.

        • Dangit, I just got that one wrong. Ox slow tonight. They were insisting it was 1, rather than 5.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Whew! I wondered why I wasn’t getting the correct answer. 😉

            • Simple problem of not knowing how to or being careful when reading. They were thinking of it as it came in the line which, I believe, would be expressed as: ((1 + 1+ 1+ 1+ 1) x 0) + 1.

              It has been too long since I played with numbers. I used to enjoy it. Why did I stop? There are just too many fun things to do and not enough time. Sigh.

    • I read E.E. Smith’s “Spacehounds of IPC” when quite young, and when the protagonist was stranded on a planet and had to repair his spaceship starting from digging for ore to make the tools to make the parts I thought, “hey, cool, I’d like to know how to do that.”

      I still can’t build a spaceship, but I could do a fair job of re-creating an industrial base up to about a century ago, using only what’s in my own head. With my reference library I could make it up to post-WWII, but books are cheating…

      It wasn’t until I had been an adult for a while that I realized that most people only know *one* thing, and have zero interest in learning more.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I read Swiss Family Robinson, it became my favorite book, and had a similar obsession for a time. Spacehounds is a great book.

        • *nod* “My Side of the Mountain” did that for me as a kid. Even gave me an interest in falconry that I never really followed up on.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            At the time SFR was my favorite book, Jean George was my favorite author. Even thought I was an environmentalist and wanted to be around animals for a while. (I am about as opposed to environmentalism as a person can be. )

            • *nod again* And yup:

              “Even thought I was an environmentalist and wanted to be around animals for a while. (I am about as opposed to environmentalism as a person can be. )”

              I grew up reading Guns Magazine and Guns and Ammo and Shooting Times in the ’60s and ’70s. So I’m a Conservationist dammit, and a naturalist – not an “environmentalist”. (The “dammit” suffix is important. *grin*)

              The two are not the same thing: conservationists actually care about the environment and wildlife management, as well as maintaining wild areas and wildlife populations. As far as I can tell, going back to when I was a callow youth in my twenties, “environmentalists” mostly care about virtue signalling to other environmentalists and activists, and don’t even know much (if anything) about wildlife and the environment.

              Sorry if I’m ranting to the choir here. It’s one of those things that trips my buttons, considering that I’ve been a hunter and a conservationist all my life. I’ve worked around animals all my life.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                I’ve read enough George to know she was into environmentalism also, and maybe even leftwing message fiction. That realization is part of why I ended up so opposed to environmentalism. I might’ve ended up a conservationist, except that the outdoors isn’t emotionally important to me. I’d have happily stuck to my interests of machinery and human activity. The green heel on the throat of the economy has bought my lasting emotional investment.

                We do have other conservationists here. I would be unsurprised if their regard for ‘environmentally sound’ wildlife and land management policy matches my regard for ‘environmentally sound’ industrial policy.

                • ironbear055

                  Ugh. Sorry for the delay. It’s grooming and bathing day for the Aussies here at Casa ‘Bear, so after a couple and a half hours or more, we’re all three groomed, brushed, shampooed, and conditioned. Although I think I may need another trip through the rinse cycle now…

                  Yeah. I don’t think I ever read anything other than My Side by her (her?) so I know very little about the author beyond that one book.

                  I’ll be honest: I ended up opposed to environmentalism as a direct result of exposure to the environmentalists that I’ve known in IRL, mostly in my twenties. Any philosophy that has and attracts those people and people like them is worth opposing, in my book.

                  I’m not sure that the outdoors is really important to me so much. I enjoy hunting and fishing. I can take hiking and camping or leave it, and I’d prefer to leave it. I know that I prefer rural/semi-rural environments to urban ones, and I prefer animals to the vast majority of people I’ve known.

                  For one, most animals I’ve known have had more intelligence, better personalities, and better hygiene. I’ll take wildlife over people most days of the week.

                  But I don’t, repeat do not, ever romanticize nature, animals, or wildlife. I’ve had both of them try to kill me on too many occasions for me to harbor any romantic illusions about them.

                  • “I’ll be honest: I ended up opposed to environmentalism as a direct result of exposure to the environmentalists that I’ve known in IRL, mostly in my twenties.”

                    (Nods) Ask me about the time when I stayed at a youth hostel with a passel of Greenpeace trainees.
                    For now, suffice it to say that one of the other guys there, now a hardcore Sanderista, said flatly that he’d never donate to Greenpeace again.

              • I’m an environmental historian and a conservationist, NOT an environmentalist. In part because of all that I’ve read and studied, and because I have zip patience for starry eyed “save the whales, GMO will corrupt your genes, Bambi is a person too” do-gooders. And after working for a spray pilot and looking up the MSDS stuff for approved “organic” pesticides, oh heck no, give me 2,4-D and Stinger (TM). They’re less of a problem and less hazardous than is some of the “organic” approved stuff.

                • ironbear055

                  Bambi will breed and eat himself out of habitat and starve to death in droves in deer yards in winter if left to his own cute little devices. And he and his kin taste awfully good on a plate next to the mashed potatoes and gravy, too.

                  Nature is awful pretty. It’s just not always very pretty. And she’s a royal and callous bitch, too.

                  • Quite, but there is now a but.

                    According to the Cornell Deer Study the population of white-tailed deer in the eastern United States has gone from half a million in the early 1900s to over 20 million and is still rising. Cornell reports that where there is adequate forage the population can double in two to three years. But recently predators other than man have entered the picture in the east, the coyote. According to a Penn State study even with the coyote, the deer are population is continuing to increase in many areas.

                    • Free-range Oyster

                      Sounds like a problem with a very tasty solution.

                    • ironbear055

                      *nod* Cougar have made a major comeback in the west and southwest also. And jaguar have even been spotted in southern New Mexico and Arizona for the first time in years, as well as down in the Big Thicket area.

                      So the deer will get some predation in addition to hunting pressure.

                      But if they have good forage, such as crops, they’ll out breed the ability of cougar and coyotes to cull them fast enough. And in urban and suburban areas, they get to be major pests: no hunting and no predators means they can breed unrestricted, and they’ll get into parks, yards, and gardens. (It’s turned into a major issue in some cities in the NE, and in the Great Lakes areas.)

                      That’s why I roll my eyes at the enviroweenies pissing and moaning about the poor wildlife. Wildlife adapts real well to human habitation.

                      They’ve even found cougar denning in Boulder and in Denver in parks and under freeways.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      During the time I lived in the Denver area, I heard about cougar and bear sighting there.

                      Every time I heard those enviroweenies whining against the “safety concerns” people had, I hoped one of the kids of the enviroweenies would get eaten by a cougar or bear. 😈

                    • This is what I have been predicting with crocodiles in Australia for some years now. They WILL spread into the urban areas (just as foxes have in the UK) And suddenly, suddenly when they start eating urban dwellers dogs and cats, and then children… suddenly suddenly they’ll get killed and be a problem. But while they’re not in those cities, no problem. You country folk are just environmental barbarians to kill them.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      There was a documentary on the Komodo Dragon where the narrator was concerned about one of them attacking his film crew.

                      However, the narrator deplored the attitude of the locals who weren’t concerned about the “endangered status” of the Komodo dragon because the Komodo dragon had been known to attack humans.

                      IE The narrator was concerned only about a Komodo dragon attacking him not about a Komodo dragon attacking the locals. 😦

                    • ironbear055

                      “During the time I lived in the Denver area, I heard about cougar and bear sighting there.” – Drak


                      “This is what I have been predicting with crocodiles in Australia for some years now. They WILL spread into the urban areas (just as foxes have in the UK) And suddenly, suddenly when they start eating urban dwellers dogs and cats, and then children…” – davefreer

                      I have read articles where they’ve been found living in urban areas in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Don’t have them handy, but a Google search should turn them up if you’re interested – try “urban cougar (or mountain lion) California and Colorado”, or similar, and that should do it.

                      Dave: likewise, look up alligator attacks in Florida, sometimes. It has happened, here.

                      The southern/gulf coast alligator used to be endangered in the southern U.S. No more: it’s made a major comeback, and it’s adapted real well to waterways in urban areas. There’s been a few incidents of joggers having their dogs grabbed while jogging along waterways in Miami, and IIRC, they’ve even lost a few joggers that way.

                      And they pulled a seventeen foot ‘gator out of the Trinity River south of Dallas, not long back. 🙂

                      The Florida Crocodile has made a comeback as well, I believe.

                    • Oh, heck – when I was in college (Cal State Northridge for upper division) I had one of those ecology classes – I think it was a science requirement – and I went and did a small research project about so-called wild animals wandering into suburbia, This was about 1970 or so. The upshot of it was – after a number of telephone calls (Oh my children, this is how you did research before the internet!!) I wound up talking to a guy in (I think! Bureau of Wildlife Management) who kept saying that he didn’t really know about all that — but kept telling me about all these circumstances of so-called wild animals showing up unexpectedly in suburbia. Like cougars – which I could well believe, since one of our neighbor boys found a pair of cougar footprints in Big Tujunga Wash in about 1970. He carefully excavated the footprint from the mud and brought it to my father, on the lid of a supermarket coffee can. Yeah, cougar. And huge. It covered the top of the coffee can,

                    • And slowly, you’ll find attitudes changing. There’s nothing like ‘in my back yard’ to do that. Foxes for example had huge amount of urban sympathy twenty years back. The urban dwellers had no chickens to be ravaged. Suddenly you have them in town ripping open bins and they’re ‘a menace’ – and then climbing into houses and biting kids… yes, urban dwellers are distinctly less in love with foxes now. And their ‘control’ is as bad fox-hunting ever was. – foxes are trapped and driven into the country and dumped. Local farmers and wildlife take a hit, most of the foxes die of starvation.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      A while back I saw this news story about some place in California that had a rat problem.

                      Nice neighborhood but rats were coming into it from somewhere.

                      One of the animal control people was talking to a woman of that neighborhood about getting rid of them.

                      He commented that while it wasn’t “very environmentally correct”, he suggested rat poison.

                      The woman basically replied that she was all for environmental correctness but she really hated rats. (IE kill them with rat poison.) 😈 😈

                      Of course, rats aren’t considered “cute”. 😈 😈

                    • ironbear055

                      @ kind of collectively to CeliaHayes, ‘Drak, and Dave:

                      I’m not really surprised by any of this, growing up in Oak Cliff, which was suburban but at least semi-rural in places in the 60s and 70s. We had coyotes, foxes, raccoons, possum, and skunks, and even the occasional bobcat right in town by where we lived when I was a kid. It wasn’t that unusual to see deer at the edges of Duncanville and Desoto, either.

                      It stopped being “cute” and went to “outrageous” and “something must be done!” when coyotes and foxes and the occasional bobcat moved into the more urban suburbs in Farmer’s Branch, Addison, and Carrolton in the 80s, however – and started taking people’s dog substitutes* off of porches and out of yards. 🙂

                      * Dog substitute: pomeranian, poodle, pekinese, peekapoo, mini-pin, or any other dust mop or rat with legs that people get instead of getting a real dog.

                      Yes, I’m prejudiced: I have real dogs, so what. I’ve also had Papillions. We just didn’t let the Paps out unattended in coyote country to be snacks for the local varmints. At night, the Papillions went out with one of the heelers riding herd and a human with a varmint rifle keeping an eye open. So did the cats.

                      I’m not that worried about it out here now. Weya’s killed coyotes solo, and gone toe to toe with a bobcat and the ‘cat blinked and ran. Woody is 70lb of Aussie, and he’s shaping up the same way. Both of them watch the Papillion and the Sheltie, and they’re real protective.

                      We never had cougar that I know of, but they are starting to come back in the Texarkana area. I do know that we have bobcat in town: I’ve seen tracks.

                      ** Papillions and Shelties are small dogs that think they’re a big dog, so they’re A-ok. 🙂

                    • Yeah, I’m a big dog man myself, but I have been won over by few BIG Heart little dogs. 🙂

                    • Cough!

                      Growing up my best friend was my poodle. I had a proper poodle, the kind that was initially bred for use as a companion when hunting water fowl. He was a large standard, weighing in at some 95 lbs. without being a bit over weight. He was what is sometimes referred to as being ‘gentleman sized’.

                    • “Yeah, I’m a big dog man myself, but I have been won over by few BIG Heart little dogs.:-)” – Dave

                      *grin* It’s why I love Shelties and Papillions – they think they’re Border Collies in a ten pound package. 🙂

                      Pomeranians, too: every Pom I’ve ever had thought that he or she was a Tibetan Mastiff that was unfairly shrunk by the Universe. Ditto for Rat Terriers. (We used to keep Rat Ts as barn dogs to help the barn cats keep the rodent population down.)

                      You can probably see a trend here: none of these are little nervous yappy dogs. They’re all pretty even tempered high energy dogs, albeit a bit small.

                    • ironbear055

                      “He was a large standard, weighing in at some 95 lbs. without being a bit over weight.”

                      Well, yeah, but Standard Poodles are dogs, not dog substitutes. My statement stands. ;]p~

                    • This is why our bag limits are so high in my state. If you hunt every season, including the holiday season, you can bag up to 8 per year. (Only 2 can be antlered.) We’d come close to hitting the state’s capacity before the ‘eating us out of house and home and cattle forage and all farm land’ stages.

                    • I was aware that the Wild Turkey have been successfully reestablished in the Blue Ridge of NC. This problem is new to me. This morning The Spouse sent me the following editorial from yesterday’s The NY Post:

                      It’s not quite Hitchcock’s “The Birds” over in Bergen County, NJ — but the township of Teaneck is besieged by wild turkeys.
                      The fowl have attacked residents, stopped traffic and, in one bizarre incident, crashed through a kitchen window.

                      “All of a sudden, it went straight through the window — we were covered in glass,” said mom Courtney Lopchinsky. “The turkey . . . kept flapping its wings, throwing mud and water everywhere.”

                      The town health officer has fielded more than a dozen avian-menace calls so far this year — often about packs of gobblers. Worse, it’s now mating season, so Tom Turkeys are extra-aggressive.

                      Yet local officials are helpless: The birds are a protected species — so even county animal-control officers aren’t allowed to capture, let alone kill, the pests. They have to call in the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.

                      The best Bergen County Humane Enforcement can do is donate 20 air horns so residents can scare off the turkeys.

                      Other officials say it’s fine to blast them with a garden hose. Beware — that’ll prompt animal-rights nuts to scream “Bull Conner!”

                      At this week’s town meeting, animal-control officer Vincent Ascolese even told residents, “We have to coexist as best as possible.”

                      Their only other choices, it seems, are to go vigilante (breaking the law to score an early Thanksgiving dinner) or huddle indoors with a bottle of … Wild Turkey.

                      I’d say that there is evidence that it is time to step back on the protections status and start considering the what the season and bag limits should be.

                    • FeatherBlade

                      There are plenty of spare wolves out here in the west. (Which is probably on reason the coyote population in the east is increasing – chased out by a bigger predator. )

                      I think there’s a case to be made for relocating the ones that have left Yellowstone, and putting them in the backyards of the people who voted to have them reintroduced to the ecosystem.

                • “Bambi is a person too.” Response: “And a damned tasty one!”

      • Yep. I’ll admit I know about metallurgy, but would be a bit of trial and error. But physical books at least shall exist as opposed to electronics which may disappear in a flash

      • You might find this interesting:

        From the site: “The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that enables fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts.”

  10. Spending my formative years on a farm in central MN and reading Jack London and Robert Service by flashlight under the covers at night, I had the dream of grabbing my pick, axe, shovel, and saw and heading to the howling wilderness of Alaska to carve out my own little empire. Then we moved to the Twin Cities and my folks divorced, and I became too citified. A decade-and-a-half later, I was in AK working as the mechanic on a fire-fighting helicopter and went to the homestead of the camp fire chief who had done just what I had envisioned. (OK, so his saw was a chainsaw. He wasn’t a complete dunce.) Hats off to him and his family, but not for me by choice. With my background I *could* if I had to, but I druther not.

    • We moved to central MN two years ago, bought 40 acres and last November moved into our new house (which should be finished inside in another two or tree years).

      The buildable part of the property is 40-60 year ago logged-over popple, so we had some clearing to do before we could build, or access the building site, for that matter.

      I have a completely new perspective on the old stories of people moving out from the cities to clear, build and farm a 40-acre homestead. And we had chainsaws, a bobcat and the loan of a small excavator; not just some axes, a crosscut saw, a brace of oxen, and back-breaking labor.

      • But think of the character you’re building! Have you thought about documenting your travails and sharing with the public through something like Backwoods Home magazine?

        • One of my favorite magazines, along with The Backwoodsman.
          I still have my collection of very old Mother Earth News, they were very hippy-ish (?) but had great practical information, it was the spiritual predecessor to the aforementioned mags.

      • Oh boy – I regularly have ‘I love machinery’ moments :-).

        • Ox have “D’OH! Moment” this morning. Working on installing new satellite radio in car (replacing the one stolen by a pair of Arschlocher just before Christmas – hopefully useless to them, radio ID is now flagged as STOLEN: DO NOT ENABLE) but where it’ll be generally out of sight. This is not a Standard Arrangement so the guide is not particularly helpful. Realize a need to measure things. In looking supplies over, realize 90% of the work has been done, just hadn’t thought of it as it was for a ‘normal’ install. D’OH! But.. life got a lot simpler. Or will. Still have that irksome 10% to deal with. But even slapdash install means 1940’s music (or 50’s or Old Time Radio Shows) and not yet more NPR election coverage.

          Hey, machinery did much work already. Ox life easier. Is good thing.

      • Ah, Popple/Poplar/Quaking Aspen. Clear cut it, plow the earth, and a few weeks later have to clear out the switches.
        about it’s only two good uses are shade, and paper pulp.

        • Which is why we like the Brush Wolf bobcat attachment so very much here. (I really do need to replace the bobcat’s failing fuel pump before the upcoming Chlorophyll Onslaught commences up here.)

          This is so very different to southern and central California hill country.

      • My sympathy’s, I spent 5 years clearing 5 acres of PNW old growth stumps from 100 years ago. 8-10 ft radius solid well seasoned fir took a month to burn each stump but I built a farm with 6000 sq ft deer-proof garden and 3 acres of fenced pasture. Of course I grew up on a very poor dairy farm and knew hard work, even as the poorest kids in school we ate because we knew where the food was.
        Innovation and experimentation are humanities great gifts, civilization arose from the surplus that farmers produced when hunter gatherers learned how to farm. And even hunter bands had specialists and artisans and history and bards and visions. The cities are fragile artifacts, civilizations disintegrate, change is constant and the sight of the elk bedded in the pasture is magnificent. For this I’ll gladly give up smog noise and the stress of the daily idiots

      • Ours isn’t particularly wooded over (we do have a pile of cedars to get rid of.) and just culling down last year’s dead grass so we can plant the orchard with a hand tool is enough to make us very much appreciate things like lawn mowers (and resolve to get ours fixed.)

    • Ugh, I hate to admit it, but moving out somewhere and hacking a living from the land would probably do me a world of good. But I’d hate it. I’d rather be a part-time farmer who supplements his food supply, not one who does it all.

      • Wayne -that is the best of all possible worlds 🙂 You can do the bits that you enjoy at least somewhat.

        • Indeed. Mt step-grandfather was a general contractor but had a 100 acre homestead that he hobby farmed. In addition to small numbers of livestock and the “garden” he had 3 very large greenhouses in which he raised tomatoes. He made a very tidy supplement to his income selling them to local restaurants and farmer’s markets.
          I spent my summers there working the farm and at various construction sites, so I can completely relate to the love/hate of farming (I can say the same for the construction/maintenance trades, though they have been my life-long career.)

  11. I used to have “EOTWAWKI and I’ll survive off the land” dreams. Then I started studying the history of this region. The environment will win. Period. No one has managed to build a stable, long-term lifeway here that did not require frequent relocation, because of the climate and topography. Yes, I could survive for a while, yes, I have some homestead-able knowledge and rusty skills, but I’m too domesticated to want to live in an off-grid cabin tucked into a canyon.

    • 7 minutes from the first episode of the first series of James Burke’s Connections

      Do you know?

      • Yes. I imprinted on that when it first aired. I giggle a little whenever I hear or sing “O Fortuna” because I see images from the original Connections.

      • Great show! The following “Connections 2” wasn’t as good.

        • Burke’s The Day the Universe Changed was also excellent.

          If Connections3 had been the first one of his series I doubt that I would ever have watched any of the others.

  12. General Announcement: Anyone who was waiting for the kindle edition, if you follow Dave’s link, it’s now available for pre-order, too!

  13. Just ran across this; it seemed appropriate to the discussion.

    “Ha! Try being a farmer’s wife at a symphony fund raiser. People expect me to pull canning jars out of my purse. I usually tell people I’m also a chemist and can blow them to kingdom come with ingredients off the buffet table. What can I say – I’m wicked.”

    • Um… isn’t “farmer’s wife” a full-time occupation? Generally concerning the education and training of the farmers-to-be, the keeping of the books, the raising of the truck garden, the keeping of the vaccination records, the innoculating and medicating of the quarantined animals, the keeper of appointments….

      I figure it’s like the response “I homestead.” Sure, they’re a “stay-at-home” person. For values of working at home that’d run me into the ground…

      • Even with modern appliances, it’s not a soft option.

      • You better believe it! My grandmother was vital to the success of their farm and construction business.

      • Maybe; maybe not; some farmer’s wives are nurses or teachers or social workers; and some run the vegetable business and the prawn business and help take of the farmer’s parents–and keep the books and in the off season help a relative who paints houses and still find time to help decorate for special events at church (and basically could work me into the ground) and cut the grass.

  14. Question for Dave: were there supposed to be images, or at least one image, in the post? This part of the post looked to me like there was supposed to be an image or video there:

    The simple truth is when those goods from the primary producer aren’t there, it’s SHTF time for probably 80% of the first world, or more.

    Which led to this:

    (empty paragraph where I wonder if an image should have gone)

    When suddenly Britain had to feed itself in WW2 and there were not enough men to work the land. Heaven alone knows what they’d do now. Funnily I don’t see the latest generation of feminists embracing this eagerly, even if it real equality.

    I checked the HTML source and there weren’t any img tags, so it’s not a case of “my Internet connection failed to load the image”. And the other empty paragraphs, talking about the pig’s head in the fridge, were clearly beats for humorous effect. But the above quote didn’t feel like a beat, it felt like something (maybe a picture) got omitted by accident.

    As for your primary point: the “throwback” effect you mention is probably responsible for many of the people who participate in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Renaissance Festivals, and so on. People who deliberately go and learn old ways of creating (thing) by hand, whether that’s swords, baskets, food, houses, or many other things. The kinds of people who keep civilization alive when the SHTF, whether it’s a global disaster as in Ringo’s There Will Be Dragons series, or a local disaster like a hurricane knocking out power and transportation for weeks.

    Actually, Katrina is a good illustration of your point. After Katrina, the city-dwellers who never learned to do for themselves (note that that’s not ALL city dwellers, as I was recently reminded when I mentioned Katrina in an earlier discussion) had serious problems. Whereas the “help each other out and rebuild for ourselves rather than waiting for Help From Outside™” folks in Mississippi, etc., managed the rebuilding just fine. They still had problems aplenty, but they solved those problems, and ended up FAR better off than most people in New Orleans.

  15. “cheque”???

    Wait, Jethro Tull is an English band??? I was all set to give Dave Freer grief about that until I looked at their website.

    (Both my kids play the flute, BTW; probably because their mother did.)

  16. I blogged on this when it came out on Baen in January, but I just posted the review on Amazon (which you can find here: )

    and I also revised and expanded my blog post, which you can find here: