In Between

The office is almost done. The bedroom is half unpacked. We have a fridge, but I need to go and remove all the protective plastic from everywhere. Village Inn will be disappointed.  They quite counted us as breakfast regulars by now.  (I don’t have milk for my coffee and if I drink it black, the acid tears up my stomach.)

The cats are still locked up.  Will be dealing with them momentarily, after I set up the boxes.  Havelock is sure there’s been some terrible mistake and keeps trying to explain.  Greebo is sure he’s displeased the most high (me) and has stopped eating.

We still don’t know where younger son is going to live.  He doesn’t like the longer drive.  I don’t like (or think we can afford) his living alone.  We’re… negotiating.  Given that this is the kid who takes after me from the top of his little horns to the bottoms of his little woofkins that he don’t got, our negotiations are somewhat like the old talks between the US and the USSR when tensions were running high and both sides playing hardball.

The arms are better.  You could now mistake the eczema for a bad sunburn. I need to go get the meds that should be in the supermarket pharmacy.

It’s a friend’s birthday and we have to figure out how to take him out to dinner, one of those tradition things.

I found my speakers, now if I find the old ones I can give them to younger son.  I found my manuscripts to edit.  If I hustle today, tomorrow I should be able to keep normal working hours.

Reminding me that (to paraphrase Heinlein) Denver though metropolis is still a western town, its cowboy boots polished but still there under the glitz, the table next to ours at breakfast was taken up with cattle ranchers, talking acreages and breeds.  Perhaps it’s stock show week.  I haven’t looked lately, as I was only aware of when it was when it interfered with our ability to get a place to stay for the weekend.

It’s kind of interesting.  As science fiction authors we tend to try to create “coherent” societies, all at the same level of development.  Real life isn’t like that.  In real life, you have cattle ranchers and computer programmers all crammed in to the same place, to grab a quick breakfast on the way to their own pursuits.

And since I’ve entered the realm of random musings, I’m listening to one of those audio books that are 90% conspiracy theory.  (Why, you ask?  Well, because it was cheap and is tangentially related to a project I’m working on as soon as DR is in.)  I love the way the reader of the book (which is about secret histories) reads the book with a hint of malice and madness that makes me think of spit flecked microphones.  One of the things hilarious about it, is that he seems to be confused about where the right and left stand on things.  For instance, he thinks those who oppose the idea that other people might have lived in the territory of the US before the Amerindians are “the right wing imperialists,” instead of tribes bent on their theories of creation being respected by everyone else.  He’s also the worst kind of equivalence seeking multi-culturalist, and thinks the myth of the Noble Savage is “Right wing.”

In the middle of his rather mad rambles he goes on about how capitalism is incompatible with democratic notions of equality.  I have absolutely no clue what system he thinks would be compatible with such.  Communism?  What about the planners and komissars, comrade?

I find capitalism, in dignity, very compatible with equality.  Take the men who delivered our fridge this morning.  I didn’t consider them — nor would it occur to me to consider them — my inferiors.  Surely, I wouldn’t ask one of them to help me with the novel, but truth be told, I’d die if I were asked to carry a refrigerator.  And society would come to a half without people like them faster than without people like me.  OTOH without people like me, a society of people like them might (note I said MIGHT) well stagnate and never be capable of adapting.  Without people like my husband and sons, more than likely, it would come to a grinding halt and technology would deteriorate and back slide.

Specialization is not inequality.  Specialization is freedom of choice.

Sure, sure, I agree with Heinlein that specialization is for insects, but that’s in another sense.  I believe in developing my capabilities in areas other than writing and skull sweat.  I know how to build furniture and could do a decent job from found materials, even if the result would be rather like that crate-furniture that used to be popular in the eighties with families with small kids. I can dig a furrow (by hand) and I’m passably good at growing potatoes (everything else tends to fall victim to the brown thumb.) If pushed I could wash clothes by hand.  I can throw a lopsided pot, and can probably fire it unevenly in a kiln of my own devising.  More to the point, I can sew and knit (badly) and crochet, passably.  In what’s more likely to be needed in our society, I can take raw materials and with a day’s work transform it into a feast for 100 for minimal investment and in such a way they’ll never know it wasn’t catered. (More than 100.  I have run hospitality suites.  At a profit.)

That type of specialization is for insects, and human beings, though better at one thing, should know how to turn their hands to other things, in a pinch.

BUT society rewards being really uncommonly good at ONE thing.  That’s the virtue of capitalism.  Sure, I can build my own furniture.  Or I can write a novel and buy it.  And if I work more at writing novels, I become better at that and can help support more furniture makers (instead of refinishing antiques, which is what I do right now.)

All of which brings us to capitalism and equality.  The men who delivered the fridge are free to choose to do so, or to go to school and learn to be plumbers, or to stay home and turn their hands to writing novels.  It is no part of my concern which they do.   Well, if they write novels about fridge deliverers who solve mysteries, that’d be fun.  Not fun enough to force them to do it, though.

In the long run, given who they are and what they want out of life (me, to husband yesterday “You realize we’d need a much smaller house if all we did after work was chill out and watch TV, instead of your doing the writing and the music, and my doing the art thing, and…”) what they want to do, what makes them happy (that pursuit of happiness thing) they are free to find the occupation and entertainment that suits THEIR needs.  I don’t care.

In a communitarian system, though, be it a small seemingly idyllic tribe community or a large immiserated country.  (Or a small immiserated island country, for that matter) what other people’s occupation and their use of their time and resources is of vital interest to me.  If they don’t do their part in the plan, then everything falls apart.  Heck, even if they do their part in the plan, depending on how many thumbs the planner had when he threw the societal “pot” together.

In a communitarian system, so long as humans are humans and not hive creatures, there HAVE to be planners making sure someone is delivering the fridges and someone is writing the novels.  And because these have to be assigned according to the needs of the community, the individual suitability and preference don’t matter.

Which explains why those large, small and tribal communities tend to live on dirt and bugs.

I never understood the appeal of “equality” since I’m an odd, and I’m never going to be equal to much of anything or anyone.  And I don’t think equality should be the goal of any society.  Decent living standards and something approaching the ability to choose, and respect or at least non-interference with what other people choose to do that doesn’t hurt you, should.

Capitalism — understood as free trade — is liberty.  Communism is for insects.

224 thoughts on “In Between

  1. I enjoy the areas where the high tech, yuppieish careers and rough and tumble ones intermix. Helps remind one to pull back the hubris vs living on the serf driven service economies where everything comes from supermarket and all the roads are paved.

    Good to hear that things coming together

  2. I’ve read “Conspiracy Novels” that were good reads (Jack Chalker’s “War Of Shadows” was a good one), but too many conspiracy theories are idiot plots.

    IE Written by Idiots for Other Idiots. 😉

    1. but too many conspiracy theories are idiot plots.

      That’s what they want you to think.

      1. Your “Tin Foil Hat” increases the effectiveness of the Mind-Control Rays. 👿

        1. That can be fixed by adding a layer of insulation (a shower cap should do fine) between the foil and your head. The “antenna effect” is only true if the current has a path to conduct into the body. Otherwise, the foil forms a barrier, as expected.

          1. KNOW YOUR FOIL

            1) real tin foil is basically unobtainium nowadays. You might be able to score some off eBay, but it’s not like you can buy it at the local supermarket.

            2) normal kitchen-grade aluminum foil is insufficient to provide adequate protection. You need the “barbecue grade” or “restaurant grade” foil, which is 1.5 to 2x as thick.

            – brought to you by VALIS, happy thoughts for everyone!

          2. Also helps a lot if you have a ground wire from the foil hat trailing along behind you…

    2. Might work better if the conspiracy was to hand out Idiot Balls . . .

      1. I really hope the LawDog includes his theory about how Elvis and the aliens did in JFK as a favor for the Illuminati in the book he seems to be creeping closer to finishing.

        1. Mick Farren’s “Necrom” isn’t too far from that… it had aliens and a Mick Jagger-esque rocker set up to kill JFK. Well, *a* JFK, anyway.

          Though the book didn’t attract much notice, at least in the US market, it’s on the short list of novels I always buy when I find one at a used book store. Then I give them to unsuspecting acquaintances. “Here, read this book. It won’t hurt you.”

  3. “Reminding me that (to paraphrase Heinlein) Denver though metropolis is still a western town, its cowboy boots polished but still there under the glitz, the table next to ours at breakfast was taken up with cattle ranchers, talking acreages and breeds. Perhaps it’s stock show week. I haven’t looked lately, as I was only aware of when it was when it interfered with our ability to get a place to stay for the weekend.”

    Reminds me of an old Giles cartoon (if you don’t know, look him up);

    Two bobbies, a classic “rustic farmer, one each” and a large herd of bulls, are clogging up a London Street (complete with ‘Annual Livestock Show’ posters). The farmer is pointing with his cane to a collection of ostentatiously confusing street signs. and one bobby is saying to the other “He’s right, Sarge, it doesn’t say ‘No Fatstock’.”

  4. In a communitarian system, though, be it a small seemingly idyllic tribe community or a large immiserated country. (Or a small immiserated island country, for that matter) what other people’s occupation and their use of their time and resources is of vital interest to me.

    I wonder if we often have the cart before the horse in analyzing why people become socialists. We think they fetishize equality and fall into control.

    I wonder if they fetishize control and use the illusion of equality to get it.

    I had a friend who is, let’s say, gender experimental. They* actually made a comment about worrying about using the bathroom after getting a thrill when a small child loudly asked her parents “is that a boy or a girl” (if your goal is to present androgyny that’s a compliment). They have never worried about that before and haven’t, to my mind, been the type that would. They worried about it because of the politics around it. And the politics are there because people, in the name of protecting my friend, have made it an issue.

    In the past if my friend had gone in the ladies most people, if they noticed at all, would have maybe had a bit of pity that she looked so manly and maybe with just a little work she could be more feminine. The biggest rudeness probably would have been some unwanted tips on make-up and dress. If they used the men’s room again most people, if they noticed at all, would wonder about the very effeminiate boy. The biggest rudeness would have been a stage whispered “check out the fag” as they walked by. I don’t approve of either rudeness but they fall under “that’s life” and not fear of a huge confrontation and being run out of the ice cream shop on a rail.

    Why did activists make it an issue? They will tell you equality but in the end has my friend gained more equal access to just go to the john while out in public or have they lost it Given a backlash is coming I suspect this friend may lose the comfort they find in androgyny to some degree because when the backlash comes people will feel a lot of pressure to be very specific in gendered displays like clothing, body care, etc (the stuff that is maliable and I think space should be made for people to be expression…YMMV).

    So, if what is being done by activists in the name of my friend won’t get to a more equal place but a less equal one what is the goal?

    I say the goal is to tell people what to do. They don’t want to carve out space where tomboy and sissy are valid and not 100% negative social roles through an entire lifespan (and if you want that this is said because tomboy has made a lot of progress there). They don’t want to work out a world where the freaks go party down in Midtown and have their own bars and events and go to the grocery store with everyone else and pay their bills and their taxes and everyone just gets along. Because in that world they don’t get to tell anyone what to do.

    I am tired of giving the progs credit for just having a false idea of equality and the authoritarian being a by product. They are all want to be high priests of a theology and are grasping at the easiest to sell excuse.

    {rant off}

    *Yes, I’m using “they” because the actual biological sex of said friend isn’t relevant to the story and I want people to think about it regardless of the underlying person. Interestingly this person will make no claim about their biological sex being false or wrong and is almost entirely working on androgyny because of social comforts that skew away from their biology. I suspect, although I haven’t discussed it inh detail just that it has never come up, they have always been happy just using biology matching restrooms and not having to worrry about it.

    1. Add to footnote: I also use “they” because this person is my friend and if you can do something like that for a friend without hurting anyone else, even when they are not around, you do it. That basic idea of courtesy seems to be beyond the progtard’s ability to conceive and, sadly, decreasingly among those who are about to backlash’s ability to give. I was heartened to see John Wright mention it.

      1. Given that they’re aiming for androgynous, and they’re a good enough person that you call them friend, “they” isn’t a bad compromise.

    2. That’s one thing that bugs me about this. Up until very recently, if a transgender person used the bathroom he/she presented as, nobody even noticed or, really, cared. It was close to a non-issue in most of North America.

      Now, though…

      1. The ones that got caught were the ones that were being pricks– and there were even a few predators who were good enough at abusing folks’ manners in the “don’t ask if they don’t make it an issue” realm that there’s an existing pile of charges for “dude dressed like a woman attacked woman” type cases. (Even after you remove the ones where it was a non-disguise type fetish.)

      2. I think the current media attention about it started from a case of a transgender high school student (s)he didn’t want to use the boy’s bathroom. School offered to let transgender student use faculty bathrooms. Not good enough (s)he insisted on using girl’s bathroom because felt “ostracized” and “excluded”. Lawsuit followed.

        And, boom. Media feeding frenzy and things spiraling out of control.

        1. And heaven forbid we tell these people, “You may want the opposite sort of genetalia, but nature failed to meet the requisition. Deal. With. It.

          I don’t care what you want to wear, but if you were born with one set, then until medical science advances a great deal, your’re stuck. You can be the gender you were born, or mutilated. Period, dot. Studies of suicide among post op trans clearly show that nobody who tells you different is doing you any goddamned favors.

      3. A problem with (probably deliberate) imprecision of word use. If they’d stayed with “he/she presented as”, we’d be OK; but they changed the discussion to “he/she identifies as”, AFIK, because activists gotta have a cause even if they have to create one!

        1. It’s a case of “hey, you make your effort and we’ll try and work with you”. Iirc the fact that city was enforcing on private business other driver imo.

        2. Activists gotta have a cause, because if they didn’t they might have to face the vapid emptiness of their lives, and the (unionized) sanitation workers don’t want to deal with the bodies…..

    3. Exactly. Only a vanishingly small portion of this has to do with a desire for equality; the vast majority of it is an exercise in control of society for the sake of control.

    4. and… it seems to me a lot of the motivation for control-freakage isn’t even power, but self-validation: “See, I really am the smart one. I can invent rules and processes that are good for other, less-smart people to live by.” Of course, for a lot of them, getting the power to exercise control becomes an pleasure and end in itself; but I’m not so sure it starts out that way.

      1. But it always requires a deeply-held belief in the controller’s inherent superiority to all those lesser people…

        1. deeply-held – or desperately wanted. There are a lot of people among the progs who are trying to believe things are the way they want them to be, not the way they are. That can apply to self-concept, too.

      2. It seems many want to prove mommy and daddy wrong imo. So attack the signs of normality and try to tear down what was believed before

        1. That, too – teenage rebellion is a commonplace though time, for those who can afford it.

          1. Possibly similar causes: “I want to be recognized as an adult, so I will a) rebel against the standards passed down to me, and/or b) try to invent some radically new (it never is) way of solving the world’s problems”

            1. I call it “discrediting the gatekeepers” and is knit from a thousand examples of the parent or authority figures depicted in media as “just not getting it”. From “Footloose” on down to toy or candy commercials where poor old dad is just befuddled by whatever product is being sold.

              1. When I finally watched Footloose I was actually pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as one-sided as the impression I’d always gotten. Not that this undermines your point necessarily. The impression I’d gotten was pretty annoying. 😛

                1. True enough. “Footloose” was just the easiest example that sprang to mind. Lithgow’s character actually does have some nuance to him.

                  I’m mostly riffing on a trend I’ve noticed from 40+ years of watching cartoons, seeing the parents in the commercials gaping in wonderment and confusion at the thing being sold, that *they* probably bought for the “cool” kids eating or playing with. I recall a campaign from Applejacks cereal from a few years back where the adult would point out “they don’t taste like apples” and the kids would smile and wink at each other and say “they just don’t get it”. As if high fructose corn syrup provided them some kind of deep insight.

                  Trivial? I suppose, except when you think about it it’s all an exercise in diminishing the rhetorical authority of the parent to say “No, I’m not going to buy that crap for you.” Rather creepily Alinsky-ish, all told.

              2. You know, one of the most reliable methods for con men to get someone to believe them is to make the biggest threat a common enemy.

                If anybody has seen Captain America: Civil War, pretty much exactly what Tony did with Peter. Although I don’t think Tony is that aware, just has Char as his primary stat, Int out the roof, with Wis as his dump stat.

              3. “Just not getting it”

                A frequent refrain from the younger set to the older. And even when told that you faced nearly the exact same things when you were younger, they refuse to believe it.

          2. And when they never grow out of it, the media calls them politicians and “venerable leaders of the [ethnic/cultural/economic] community.”

        2. Or to attack mommy and daddy because they didn’t like him/her. 😦

      3. This is exactly what I’m talking about when I rant about “self-selected elites” (BTW, thanks for putting up with that). These pinheads are morally and ethically no different than the old European Aristocracy.

        1. Yep. An old expression of the human condition. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose; all that really changes is how the current culture does it.

          1. Two thousand years ago, give or take, a man named Juvenal wrote sixteen satires about Roman culture. What was he complaining about? The trash wasn’t being picked up, the gamgs had taken over the streets, the senators’ wives were immoral tramps, the courts were corrupt….

            Not much of that has changed, but in the meanwhile we have largely abolished slavery, we’ve developed modern dentistry and antibiotics, and the primary dietary problem of the poor in the developed world is that they are too fat.

            So, we make some progress.

            1. True. Slavery & dietary problems of the poor are both economic issues – lots of other symptoms of the world, as a whole, becoming wealthier over time. And that’s a good thing, tho’ it brings new problems (e.g. what to do with increased discretionary time when in some societies most people could be working <40 hrs/wk to fund a decent lifestyle.)

              Given that improvements in medicine etc, and for that matter most of the economic wealth, are the result of increasing sci/tech knowledge, it's not hard to make the case that in this phase of civilization at least, accumulated and used knowledge is the true basis of wealth, so long as the material resources hold out.

              Meanwhile – wealth increases but the human condition (tendencies to love, heroism, sloth, greed, etc.) isn't much affected.

      4. I’ve tended to find that the “progressive” philosophy tends to boil down to “Smart kids like us should be in charge of everything.” (Even if the “smart kids” in question are aging baby boomers well past the “never trust anyone over 30” expiration date.)

          1. I generally consider it one of the Good Lord’s safety valves that oftentimes the most venal and power hungry often have a leavening dose of stupidity mixed in. Dunning kruger is one of life’s little circuit breakers. 🙂

          2. They are, sometimes, smarter than average – at least in ways that help with gaining credentials. But joining the “progressive” tribe generally means they learn to over-reach themselves, constantly trying things that would require more, often an order of magnitude or more, of additional smarts and experience to get half-right.

        1. “Smart kids like us should be in charge of everything.”

          Plato, in his “Republic” declared that philosophers of Plato’s stripe should be the one’s in charge. So “Smart kids like us should be in charge of everything” goes back at least 2400 years.

          1. I think it goes back as long as there have been “smart kids” but earlier on there were more saber tooth tigers to cull that kind of malarkey.

            1. There are smart kids who learn from experience, and smart kids who don’t. In earlier times, the latter didn’t last long.

              1. Yeah, a surfeit of the latter is the double edge of the broadsword that is our free and prosperous society. Not that I espouse a return to the dark ages at all, but when you take the evolutionary pressure off you do tend to get more chihuahuas than hunting dogs. (I was gonna say wolves but those never seem to go out of style.)

    5. Honestly I think a number just want to shock the normies. See it often elsewhere. Was a nice long convo earlier with someone saying that asking people not to blast music in public at a convention was entitlement. Never mind the mgc piracy thread.

      I think that people are no longer realizing that everyone thinks they are entitled to things and part of civilizing is figuring out the least destructive or disruptive way of dealing with dueling entitlements. And no, just because something is legal does not make it right. See that one regularly saying that they can discriminate because not against someone that has governmental protection.

      1. A lot are just out to shock people. That said, a lot are shocking but that isn’t a primary motivation. The real rub is group two is mostly people who are live and let live and will generally honestly work for that least disruptive way of dealing with things. Group one is working very hard to make life miserable for group two.

        Of course, if shock is your primary motivation over my lifetime that has been an escalating threshold whose speed of increase is also increasing rapidly.

        1. But the first group tends to be the one in the driver seat. And a lot of that shock is based in vindictiveness

          1. I know but I tend to quickly excise them is they make their way into my circle so the ones I worry about are in group two.

        2. Yeah, we now have conventiongoers who don’t understand “keep the hotel happy so we can come back,” “keep the hotel staff happy and reward good service,” “play nice with people in the hotel who aren’t attending the convention,” or even “avoid criminal acts or getting the police called to keep the peace.”

          1. One thing nice about adult activity cons is the organizers are quick to expel those who cause problems with non-attendees or staff or who violate rules such as nudity beyond the nudity allowed areas.

            Given the organizers generally have to work that much harder to get hotels to take them and at least once will experience a hotel deciding they’d rather not after contract signing and you’ve posted dates and taken money they are very, very strict about keeping the hotel happy.

      2. This is more or less exactly the problem I have with most Gay Pride events. I understand the impulse to play ‘shock the squares’, but marching in you bondage leathers while exposing your pierced nipples doesn’t persuade people that you are ‘just like them’. It convinces them that you are a tacky adolescent with poor impulse control.

        There are, however, some refreshing exceptions. I live near New Hope PA, and every New Hope Gay Pride day I’ve seen (and that’s a bunch) has been family friendly. Aside from a higher percentage of men in drag (usually taseful ball gowns), it resembles the Mason City Iowa July 4th parade that inspired THE MUSIC MAN.

        1. There was an old Onion article back when they were more routinely funny. Paraphrasing the headline: “Gay Pride Parade Sets Tolerance Back 100 Years”

    6. The whole media focus on transgender bathroom access seems fishy to me: like it’s to try and provoke conservatives into outrage and saying stupid things, or things that can be spun to seem stupid, for media soundbites.

      1. Bob, part of it may be to obscure Hill’s and Bern’s massive faults by diversion, throwing a bright, shiny, sparkling object to us so our attention is diverted.

      2. I think it is a genuine misstep, driven by a combination of drinking their own ink and the social dynamics that make so many revolutions extremism contests.

        It simply isn’t measured enough to be a matter of sucking the conservatives into attacking a false position.

        They are potentially tying federal funds for elementary schools to restroom access. That opens them to the charge that they want men off the street to have access to the little girl’s room.

        Trump is actually extremely PC on LGBT issues. If the GOP had a conservative candidate who were willing to attack on the issue, the left would be extremely vulnerable now.

        1. It’s fucking insane, pardon my French. The whole point of being transsexual is to pass as the other sex. NO ONE IS GOING TO QUESTION ANYONE WHO IS EVEN HALFWAY THERE.

          1. Yes and no…often it isn’t to completely pass but just not be noticed. I know that sounds like a distinction without a difference but it is real (and often taught to new “girls” early if they have wise friends).

      3. ALL my friends who are concerned about it on facebook a) don’t have any kids or b) kids are grown and don’t have much relationship with grandkids if any.
        I’ve spent a lot of pixels pointing out repeatedly that a) no one cares if someone who looks and acts female uses the women’s room or vice versa and that b) you can’t, as in, you aren’t allowed to, take an opposite sex child over six into your bathroom. Most parents are delighted at single-user bathrooms they can herd the family into. Most parents just want to protect their kids in that awful range between ‘little enough to go in with me’ and ‘big enough to punch that predator and successfully scream bloody murder.’

        1. a) is crucial. This is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
          HOWEVER lately transsexual has come to mean not even transvestite but “I feel like a woman inside” — this means that what this law is for is giving access to each other’s bathrooms to EVERYONE, which yes, is… er… interesting when it comes to children and (mostly, not always) male predators.

          1. The expansion of trans has gotten bad of late and I suspect is an “increase your numbers for increased power”. Honestly, do you think of crossdressers, self-identifying adult tomboys, and self-identifying adult sissies as trans? What about the intentionally androgynous like David Bowie? Because now they are.

            All the more proof it is about power and not actually sticking up for people.

            At the same time Drag Queens are being written out because they are embarrassing when dealing with upper middle class soccer moms. It is a much more public version of what the gay community did to leathermen in the 90s and early aughts (Boston Pride kept NAMBLA after they tossed out leathermen because NAMBLA doesn’t look scary unless you see the sign).

            1. A lot of the newer sexual identities I’ve been seeing floating around the ‘web seem to be people looking to “open up a new franchise” in identity politics, looking to add a new letter to the traditional (ironic, no?) LGBT. Most of ’em seem kinda Calvinball in their distinctions, but who am I to judge?

              1. I’m 80% in agreement but I would point out some have fairly well established subcultures or even mainstream presence (the idea of an adult tomboy is an example of the later) that are just getting exposed more.

                I mean things like bear, cub, daddy, boy, girl, etc are long standing sexual identities in the gay and leather world. That said they are more sub-divisions than detailed identities.

                1. I’m not talking about subcultures, per se. I’m talking about the folks who are coming up with brand new gender identities and orientations complete with their own pride flags and pronouns. I’m reluctant to name specifics so as to avoid stepping into a bear trap (not *that* kind of bear) even in as chill an environment as this.

    7. “We think they fetishize equality and fall into control. I wonder if they fetishize control and use the illusion of equality to get it.”

      If the question is why people get into socialism, I have to say that even now I still think it’s the former reason. If the question is why people remain socialist, I suspect it is something very close to the latter but not quite the same: it’s not control they fetishize, it’s payback.

      I myself find that if one appends, “Now you’ll know what it feels like,” to any given statement of a socialist or progressivist position, it has a distressingly reliable tendency to work as a perfect logical and thematic extension of the statement, whatever the position. Which is one reason why despite early leanings in that direction I couldn’t ever commit to a fully left-wing perspective on life — there was too much vindictiveness for me in even the early days of the PC movement, in the 1990s, and I have never been suited either by temperament or philosophy to the holding of grudges.

      1. Vindictive is one of the more common reasons I keep coming back to. You see a lot of people targeting their enemy and intentionally making themselves oppressed for ability to hit back.

        1. It’s a sad fact of the human condition that there are people who consider it oppression that they cannot commit wholesale murder against their ancient tribal enemies without consequence in mixed societies.

      2. I would have a lot more sympathy for them if they confined themselves to being vindictive towards people who had actually oppressed them. As matters stand, it’s more like “Now you will know what it was like for my great-grandfather under your great-uncle’s college roommate’s father’s cousin.”

    8. The activists are playing a movie in their mind where they are the brave hero standing up against badness. The actual effects don’t matter. Everyone else affected is just a stage-prop. The really important thing to them is that they get to be the hero in their own imaginary movie of their life.

      1. “All the world’s a stage…” — some players are content to share the stage with their company, allowing others to see through the 4th wall but not breaking it; while other players specialize in audience-participation entertainments, always with themselves as Masters of the Revel.

  5. I never understood the appeal of “equality” since I’m an odd, and I’m never going to be equal to much of anything or anyone.

    Mental shortcut– or short circuit.

    We have inherent equal dignity, equal moral worth.

    Some folks can’t accept that as a starting point, and I think the logic goes something like “I think that people’s moral worth and dignity are determined by what they can do and what they have; it is a good thing for people to be morally equal; so everyone should have the same abilities or at least rewards.”

    1. “I think that people’s moral worth and dignity are determined by what they can do and what they have; it is a good thing for people to be morally equal; so everyone should have the same abilities or at least rewards.”

      I see this as being how it is sold.

      Which is why I cannot figure out what opposition to this line of equality thinking does not increase as you move out of mainstream society instead of the apparent decreasing that occurs.

      Yeah, I’m an odd along multiple dimensions. The more we are forced to be equal in terms of equal abilities or equal awards the less I am allowed to be odd. If we all have equal wardrobe I would have to give up things I really like because they weren’t be things all or even a plurality of people like me in terms of age, sex, race, etc would want.. My computer is optimized for music production not gaming or spreadsheets and I’m sure one of those two is the one size fits all solution. The one size fits all book collection is much smaller than mine and would have different emphasis. So on and so on.

      Sure, all the one size fits all version would be cheaper (if there is only one pair of pants made we get efficiencies in making pants) but probably none of it would be in the same neighborhood as “me”.

      1. Sure, all the one size fits all version would be cheaper (if there is only one pair of pants made we get efficiencies in making pants) but probably none of it would be in the same neighborhood as “me”.

        One of the things that gets tossed when folks figure “efficiency” as you’ve lined out is that, yeah, you’re getting where you’re going really fast– but is it where you want to go?

      2. *fiddles with the motif he got in the mail today*

        Wha? oh, yeah, what he said.

    2. I see the same sort of thing. that’s why you can’t discuss average IQ variances among races, or how men and women really are different from each other, not just interchangeable widgets. It drives me bugnuts, because the premise seems to be that they can’t admit to or discuss such things because doing so would allow unequal treatment or outcome or some such crazy thing.

      Every person enojys equal inherent dignity. That’s all that matters, and other qualities or differences in capabilties/level of abilities between persons matter not one whit in terms of gaining or losing such dignity . But apparently that’s not actually true to some people. Because they think in terms of group dignity rather than individual.

      1. It’s nuts. Having different talents and abilities is part and parcel of life. You take any two groups internally alike where two groups are different than the other and there will be differences in means of all sorts of skills.

  6. On the equality bit, folk complain that it favors “the greedy”, doesn’t reward virtue, and is generally all about “the rich” and doesn’t help “the common man”.

    As if there’s a system that does a better job:

    (Love me some Milton Friedman.)

  7. Oh, funny-not-funny thing– my family has a LOT of ranchers in it.

    Right now, a lot of city people are moving into ranching areas. Besides having a Disney’s Bambi view of nature, they tend to also confuse cattle with pets– and not pay much attention to the local laws.

    There is a lot of rural land where the laws recognize that it’s a ranching area– cattle have the right of way on the road (although ranchers are going to try to be nice, you are liable if you scare a cow and she kicks in your headlight) and it is the land owner’s responsibility to build fences that will keep cattle out.

    There are a lot of very pissy people who took down those horrible, ugly fences around their shiny new house, and then found out that the cows want to eat their all organic garden. 😀

        1. That song can be triggering. /SJW

          Story goes, long long ago, and far away in the magical realism kingdom of revolutionary Portugal, whenever the government was violently changed, the TV stations would run that show, until they knew again what opinions were safe to voice.

        2. And then there’s that thing with the Hoyt-Clagwell tractor:

          The Hoyt-Clagwell company went out of business 40 years ago, because Mrs. Hoyt and Mrs. Clagwell couldn’t get along. Since then, Hoyt went into the wax fruit business, and Clagwell went to the county seat.

          Wax fruit?

      1. I got in trouble a few years ago for Christmas. I provided a photo of dinner pre processing.

      2. see also: Arizona, where the older residents say, “If you moved here because you didn’t like California, why are you turn to turn it into exactly like what you left?!”

    1. As we always used to say:

      City folk see a deer and think, “Bambi.” Country folk see a deer and think, “a rat with antlers.”

      1. Or “venison.” *chuckle* The local herd doesn’t get above certain numbers due to shot-off-the-back-porch hunting on own lands. A ways due south, though, they have “photogenic” deer that people stop in the middle of the road to take their phones out and get pics of. Drives me batty when I’m down that way, but what can I say? City folk. *grin*

        1. Venison – my favorite kind of deer. Followed closely by “dead” and “several miles away.”

          Faleen cost me $4000 in car repairs. There is nothing sweet, majestic, or charming about deer, especially not deer within 100 yards of a paved road.

          1. Had an old VW Scirocco (fun car for twisty roads) with the butt-print of a twelve-point buck on the hood where there was just not *quite* enough time to stop completely. The thing never did quite run right after that.

            Deer that are not tasty food already are indeed pests. They are one reason the brush guard on my truck stays bolted on.

            1. I once had a standard sized Louisiana deer throw a shoulder block into my car. 4 ran out in front of me, the fifth got the left front fender.

                1. When I was a kid, one ran into the road in front of us and oncoming traffic not far from where I live again. It jumped over the roof of the oncoming car (A full-sized 70’s model) but missed slightly and landed on its chest and neck. The deer got up and ran like a horse across a field . . . Deer are very very fast when they run instead of bound.

            2. When it’s moose/European elk they are somewhat more likely to kill you. With those legs and that mass they come right through the windshield.

              Nevertheless local papers get full of these “Murder! They were here first! It’s their land too!” people on the comments sections every time there is a story of hunting or killing them, like a couple of days ago when police shot a young one which had gotten lost in the middle of the city I live in. And it had already hurt itself too, there was a deep cut in the abdomen it had gotten by trying to jump over something a bit too high… and seems most of the commenters would still preferred that it get caught alive and released into a forest somewhere.


              1. I’ve seen whitetail go through a windshield, too, but that’s rarer. The deer can kick a man to death as it’s dying, basically gut him right there. Not a pleasant sight.

                Moose/elk are a lot more mass, though. My cousin has tales of moose totaling a well-built (read- it was built like a bloody tank) farm truck, then running away. Might have bled out some point later, but still, that’s a lot of animal mass.

                And seriously, “it’s their land, too!”? The mind, it boggles… *shakes head*

                1. If moose and elk (and squirrel?) want equal representation they can sign petitions and put up candidates for public office like the rest of us. Otherwise shut up and chew yer cud, hat rack. (Sorry, was that last bit too offensive to our Ungulate American brethren and sistren?)

          2. My previous car died in glorious battle with a buck about a week before Christmas last year. Caved in the front hood, killed the engine, and rolled up over the roof with a sound like a bag of bowling pins in a clothes dryer. Thank God he didn’t come thru the windshield, I was driving my Mom home from adult daycare. Neither of us were hurt, again Thank God.

            All I can recall is a glimpse of the bastard running full tilt across somebody’s yard before I could even react and then ohcrapBAM! Car came to a stop about 500 feet past the collision and rolled no more under its own power.

            Yes, I am ambivalent about deer. I got a set of those deer whistle things but I don’t know if they actually do anything. Some folks here in Western PA swear by ’em.

            1. They seem to work some, but it’s like a big shiny vest– it’s like they’re so noisy that you seem a lot bigger and closer, so only REALLY dumb deer will hit you.

          3. My other two deer stories (Yes, I know nobody asked.) are:

            When my Mom was still driving she clipped a buck coming home from choir practice one night. Did some damage to the headlight, but the worst indignity was there was deer doodoo all down the side of the car.

            Finally, the most gruesome thing I ever witnessed was being in fast moving traffic on a four lane road in Connecticut and watching a deer stumble into said traffic and get… crumpled by several flailing collisions. Guh. Sorry. 😦

          4. I had a part-time night job with a delivery service once. All of the vans had horrendous crash damage on the front. I quickly found out why, doing the Deer Dance on various country roads.

            Deer are the retards of the animal world. They’re oblivious to oncoming traffic, headlights, horns, or squalling tires…

              1. Somewhere, deep in the depths of some Federal Wilderness area, there’s a secret scoreboard the deer keep as they labor to even the score between humans and ungulates. They are the hidden enforcers of the hoofed world.

        2. Years ago we were living on a mountain side, just below state game land. We tried to grow a garden, but the deer ravaged it. We tried everything possible to keep them away–dried blood, wolf urine, noisemakers, rubber snakes, etc. Everything worked. For about a week. Then they came back. I finally asked my dad, “What can I get to keep these deer out of the garden?” He answered, “A 30-30.”

          1. Hares, close to cities here. Can’t shoot or otherwise hunt them inside city limits so they breed and are quite bold, and they eat everything, especially big threat for young trees in winter when they eat the bark, usually right around the sapling so it dries up and dies.

            Fortunately, maybe, we have also been getting a healthy population of city foxes during the last decades (can’t hunt anything inside city limits even when those city limits enclose areas which look exactly same, with fields and small forests and so on, as the countryside next to them. Up to 70’s at least people did kill pests in those parts, legal or not, but not anymore, so the animal populations have had something of a population explosion after that). They cause their own problems (do not leave your pet rabbit out during the night, that cage may keep it in but it won’t necessarily keep the fox out… or your cat, they also kill cats, although I did witness a cat driving one away a few weeks ago 😀 ) but at least they also hunt the hares.

            Hey, if we were to get a Mad Max type of collapse at least all those city critters might feed the populations in them for a week or two, right? 😀

      2. I’ve moved to middle of nowhere Colorado and saw more deer in the first three months than I had seen my whole previous life.
        And I’m not a city slicker. There is just a lot of deer here!
        (Discharge of firearms in city limits is illegal. Can you reliably take down a deer with a crossbow?)

        1. We have bowhunters who come up and hunt our place (with permission, naturally). Not crossbows, another sort. (Doesn’t know her bows unless they come with string instruments.) So I’d say yes, you can take down deer with bows.

          1. I only ask about a crossbow because a standard bow, (or compound bow) requires so much more training to get decent accuracy. I’ve had friends who bow hunt, but I wasn’t sure about the difference in power and accuracy.

            1. The few times I’ve shot a crossbow, it didn’t seem more accurate than my recurve. But what do I know – I’m just a target shooter, at relatively light pulls.
              I think modern compound bows do have a bunch of accessories available – sights, releases, etc.- that make them pretty darned accurate, if you’re good at stalking up to a deer at, say, 30-50 yds. Power of a compound is similar to a crossbow – 60-80 lb pull with let-off to substantially reduce the pull you have to hold at full draw while aiming.

              1. Power is a function of draw weight and power stroke (how far the projectile travels under power- i.e. how far the string can move powering the arrow/bolt). Compounds can have about double the power stroke or more, crossbows need twice the draw weight or more to compensate for the shorter power stroke they have to have.

                You can get sights for either, but crossbows can be more accurate from the get-go for a new shooter, especially one who already has good marksmanship habits from long guns, I believe. You can shoot a crossbow from a rest, but not a compound. A compound will always have faster follow ups, but takes more skill for shot placement.

                If you have an injury that prevents heavier pulls or holding a pull for the length of time necessary to get consistent shot placement, crossbow. A compound is lighter on the trail.

                Pick whichever shoots best for ya and ignore anyone who tells ya different. Either one can take deer. What matters is good hunting habits and skill. Bigger is not always better.

            2. Yes, you can take deer with a crossbow as long as the broadheads are razor sharp and the pull is sufficient. Whether it’s legal depends on your state and local. There’s a mythos about crossbows that curtailed its use for hunting in some places, even though it’s possible to have a compound, recurve, or self bow with greater pull.

              Be aware that the broadheads must be razor sharp and you will likely get into tracking. Arrows usually kill by hemorrhage, which is why you want the blades razor sharp, because tearing will cause blood vessels to constrict where a clean slice tends to bleed more.

              Actually, unless you make a brain, neck, or heart shot, firearms kill by hemorrhage, too, but you have a larger channel and also more tissue damage. And I’ve seen a deer run maybe ten yards or so after taking a 00 buckshot pellet (I think that’s .30 caliber) in the heart.

        1. It’s funny, but the old style middle aged lady response is one of the most effective– scold it.

          My aunt favors the “broom” approach, and has since she was a teen.

      3. Having that issue with the Mrs. She’s okay with shooting the feral hogs, but she says no way in heck will I cap Bambi on our property.

        Oh, and she wants a garden. And an ag exemption.

        The strange thing is, she was a ranch girl before she moved to the big city. But she’s having a hard time getting her country back on.

    2. Right now, a lot of city people are moving into ranching areas. Besides having a Disney’s Bambi view of nature, they tend to also confuse cattle with pets– and not pay much attention to the local laws.

      Once there was a newspaper photographer who wanted to get a photo of a neighbor’s Brama bull, and slipped through the barbed wire fence to get a close up. Don’t know how much hide the photographer left going back through.

    3. A friend used to live quite a way out in the county. Developers and urbanites have been gentrifying the area for a while now.

      A recurring problem is that a new McMansion goes up, urbs move in, and the first thing they do is acquire two or three pit bulls and turn them loose outside. Which promptly go after the chickens the older residents keep.

      Step 1) knock on door, explain that their dogs are killing chickens and need to be leashed or penned

      Step 2) shoot the dogs and leave the bodies at the end of their driveway

      Step 3) chat with the deputy when she stops by to say she had to give the urbs the what-for

      The “pack of loose dogs” thing is scarily common, as is the absolute refusal to understand that chickens, goats, and calves are livestock and have protection under the law, and loose dogs are not. A fair percentage of the urbs blow off the deputies as well, and wind up in court, where the unsympathetic judge has to hit them in the wallet to drive the lesson home.

      1. Yup, in my late teens my mom ended up explaining to neighbors why i took a shot at their dog when it came after our goats for the umpteenth time….

      2. We have them going after calves. Mom– 60 years old, bad knees– will chase them off and then physically track them to their house, usually following the muddy footprints right up to the door.

        We’ve been lucky. She’s only had to shoot one. And they called the deputy on her, at which point Robocop (so named because of their habit of being extremely methodical– and repeating the law until the pissed off person listens) explained that they’re lucky mom’s ranch isn’t pressing charges.

        Even the super entitled folks in our area are more likely to get scared to death when calmly informed that their dog has been trying to maul calves, and if they do it again their deaths will be clean and fast as mom can make it.

        1. Aunt Ness had a problem very similar down here. Seems we had a pack (or three) of half feral/half loose dogs messing with the stock. Chicken, sheep, and so on. Aunt Ness Does Not Approve of hunting man’s best friend. But Aunt Ness *is* sneaky. She waited until spring to allow her plot to thicken.

          Over the winter, she acquired an animal we now call Bob. Bob is a mutant mule. Mutant, as in his horse half was probably a Clydesdale. And completely, utterly unsympathetic to herd-botherers. He was put in the outer field, not at all by himself…

          Not two weeks later, early in the a.m., a terrible commotion occurs in the outer field. Bellows of mutant mule outrage, terrified howls, the bleating of frightened sheep, thumpings and bumpings in the night…

          We found one, stomped clear to the mud, another kicked *over* the fence into a stout maple, and evidence of another one or two that managed to crawl away somewheres. Herd depredations dropped sharply.

          Bob got an apple. The sheep make sheepish noises and looked to Bob as a god among four-footed creatures. The chickens said “bwok?” and went back to the business of being fowl creatures. The scurrilous neighbors were convinced a mountain lion or bear was in the neighborhood, eating their dogs…

        2. When I was riding a lot in Flat State, a bunch of dogs started harassing the alpacas that the stable owner raised, along with the horses. The property was right on the edge of the “city” county line, so I went to the courthouse and confirmed that 1) we were outside the line and 2) we could fire at will (so long as the 4 Rules were followed). Yep and “oh H-ll yes.” The next time the dogs showed up, the riding instructor and I were ready. Scratch four dogs. Their “owners” never did find out what became of ’em.

      3. The truly entitled dog-owner I have read was a “child-free” person explaining how to be polite to child-free people. She said that since squealing children sound like rabbits, and the sound has been known to “drive” dogs to kill — it is the responsibility of parents to prevent their children from squealing around this person’s dog.

        It was on the Internet, which is why I wasn’t sidling out of the room to call the cops and report people kept a dangerous dog.

  8. Opening negotiating position with younger son: He can drive further and live with you rent free or he can live where he wants and pay for it himself.

  9. Somehow (I suspect DeMolay) Eldest stumbled on the Illuminati. He, his siblings, cousins, and friends have taken this to new heights of absurdity. Nothing is as hillarious as a pack of kids playing ridiculous world-ruling conspiracy theory for the laughs!

    1. But it’s a FUN game…

      The Servants of Cthulhu use the Libertarians supported by Mass Media to attack the Triliberal Commission.

          1. We would, but someone spilled something in the control panel, and now nobody has the foggiest idea what it’s set to. That, and the last ‘unidentified’ flying object that buzzed the thing got a little too close and knocked the alignment off. At this point, we’re reduced to aiming it in the general vicinity of a major figure, spinning the dials to a random setting, and watching what happens.

    1. Lovecraft used a converted Freemason hall to house the Esoteric Order of Dagon.

        1. tangent… between your comment and today’s primary in California, I’m reminded of a verse of the filk “gimme that old time religion” from Dream Park:

          It was good enough for Dagon,
          That conservative old pagan,
          Who still votes for Ronald Reagan,
          So it’s good enough for me!

    2. Considers local lodge doors.

      Not ours. Where was it? I love visiting those places. The Scottish Rite Museum in DC is well worth seeing.

  10. What’s the title of the audio? I’ve got to listen!

    Sounds even more fun than the time I listened to an audiobook about OJ Simpson’s activities read by Simpson himself!

    1. The library used to have all three of Anne Rice’s “Beauty” books on cassette tape. Considering how straightlaced the local library was, (they would put plain jackets over books with Frazetta or Rowena covers) I’m not sure they realized what those books were.

      I watched reruns of “Bewitched” when I was a kid, which made it doubly strange listening to Elizabeth Montgomery reading BDSM fantasy…

      1. Oh, now THAT sounds like one to get and spring on my wife. I would just “accidentally” be listening along when she comes by…


        You don’t happen to remember a title, do you?

      2. Okay, given:

        1. Those books were my in (you call tell what S&M generation someone is in by their in novel).

        2. I loved Betwiched

        3. The idea of Elizabeth Mongomery reading those books is very….high temperature.

        I need to track these down.

      3. [clickety clickety]

        Looks like 1994 for the Elizabeth Montgomery version. Wikipedia says she only read two of the three. They did a new version for CD, read by someone else.

        Hmm, I’m not seeing either version for sale anywhere. And with print-through, any original cassettes are going to be in very poor shape by now; the ones I listened to ten years ago were very muddy.

        I remember Montgomery doing an excellent job of reading though the audio quality was poor.

          1. Some Amazon “new” copies, especially if out of print, are very old copies in original sealed packaging – I.e. just as likely to have suffered years of print-through.

  11. But you wouldn’t assume that just because they’re fridge deliverers that they couldn’t write a novel. Of any kind.

      1. Furniture movers are a diverse group and they can be anything they want.

        (movers come in at 1:04 or so, if the clip doesn’t start at the time)

    1. meh. I know an excellent writer who works at Walmart. THESE fridge deliverers I doubt are novel writers, since they acted like I was a strange being…

      1. I dunno. Could they be aspiring writers with walls of rejection letters from TradPub? To such men, the ways of indie are mysterious and strange (so I have heard)…

        1. A programmer from a very large computer company went to a software conference and then returned to report to his manager, saying: “What sort of programmers work for other companies? They behaved badly and were unconcerned with appearances. Their hair was long and unkempt and their clothes were wrinkled and old. They crashed our hospitality suite and they made rude noises during my presentation.”

          The manager said: “I should have never sent you to the conference. Those programmers live beyond the physical world. They consider life absurd, an accidental coincidence. They come and go without knowing limitations. Without a care, they live only for their programs. Why should they bother with social conventions?

          “They are alive within the Tao.”

          So it is with indie writers.

          1. Yeah… but I spent an entire IT career following along behind cowboy programmers who thought error checking was too trivial for their exaltedness. They’d probably shat and moved on before their software hit the end users… and was probably never fixed because anyone they hired to dive into their mess screamed and ran away.

            “My code is self-documenting.”
            “I rock the programmer lifestyle, but I’ve never actually written any nontrivial software.”

            I’m amazed that Kate Paulk hasn’t shown up at work one day with a couple of 5-gallon jerry cans of homemade napalm…

            How bad does code have to be before a company will hire someone like Kate instead of just shipping it to the end user and filing bug reports in /dev/null?

            1. To be fair, Kate would probably show up with a bombard loaded with grape and powder…

            2. Like the DAE exporter in the 3d software i use, that has been broken since 2011?

    2. “We gotta install those microwave ovens
      custom kitchen deliveries
      We gotta move these refrigerators
      we gotta move these color TVs”

      – Dire Straits

  12. “I agree with Heinlein that specialization is for insects … and human beings, though better at one thing, should know how to turn their hands to other things, in a pinch. BUT society rewards being really uncommonly good at ONE thing.”

    That reminds me of a Nivenesque social formula I once came up with, which is applicable to computer programming, military strategy, and life: “The product of efficiency and redundancy is a constant.”

    Other favourites include “The product of standardization and flexibility is a constant,” and “The product of speed, quality and cost is a constant.” (I understand Niven himself has since walked back a little on his classic, “The product of freedom and security is a constant,” which is why I don’t quote it here, but I still love pithy little formulae like this.)

    1. Pretty much true, as long as you allow the parameters (efficiency, redundancy) to take ad hoc coefficients.

      1. Exactly. A better way to express it might be as a graph, where you plot the benefits of generalization vs. specialization against what, for lack of a better term, might be called that society’s “crisis state” — size, wealth, legal and political stability, and so on. In high-crisis societies, generalization is more desirable than specialization, and vice-versa in low-crisis societies.

  13. A short book about capitalism I read several years ago defined “capitalism” as “investing money with the expectation of making a profit.” After some thought, I decided that this principle (plus a reasonably free market and recourse to common law concepts like contracts) covered everything I thought of as “capitalism”.

    The key point being a shift from risky personal investments along lines of social or political connection towards an open market in investments with potential returns. Kind of makes the whole “class” thing irrelevant, and social rank becomes much more fluid.

  14. I get the feeling that you’re “preaching to the choir” with this group. The skills sets and knowledge found within the Huns and Hoydens is astonishing, and we are the types to successfully rebuild in the event of an emergency/colllapse.
    We’re also the least likely to acquiesce to letting others tell us how to live our lives. Perhaps it’s because we have a better understanding of how “the people in charge” are neither infallible, nor even all that bright.
    Maybe it’s just because we are ornery.
    Either way, I feel better knowing there are more of us than I realized before reading this blog.

      1. I still need a few die sets, but my big problem is powder, which nobody in my area carries any more. I guess I’m going to have to save my shekels and make a big enough order from Grafs that I don’t gag on the hazmat charges.

        The DOT regs on smokeless powder are little more than harassment.

  15. OT… I wanted to send Sarah a note regarding a passage in Through Fire. I found a comment on the About page that gives a goldportpress email address, so I used it. Is that still active?

  16. Sarah, I don’t know if you realize this, but there is great joy in your post today. Not only have you overcome an episode of recent hardship, but you prevailed with determination and now revel in those accomplishments. And in that glow, you delight in the reservoir of latent talents that you could bring to bear should further hardship arise. This is the essence of happiness.

    Think of those among us who have been seduced by government handouts into a life of dour dependence. The joy of accomplishment has been stolen from them and their pursuit of happiness is forever impaired.

  17. Sarah, your post echoes Adam Smith (why yes, I’m still going back to Wealth of Nations. It stays on the first two pages of my kindle). Specialization is what drove capitalism- Smith has a very readable (if dry) explanation starting with nails and going up through factories. To specialize is *not* to be equal, thank goodness. True equality only- err, mostly- exists in degrees of misery.

    There’s equality before the law, which is a must if you want justice without the weasel words (social, et alius). The equal dignity of human life and moral worth (if not inherent morality and moral choices…). But making human beings equal in other ways makes them less. Moreover it also allows- or tempts, I should say- the observer to see humans as groups, not individuals.

    Treating humans as “part of group X, Y” (widgets) is morally wrong. It denies an individual’s inherent dignity. It makes it easier to conscience horrors. Would you accept a 98% success rate wherein the 98% got healthier looking skin… and the 2% were slowly eaten alive? Small benefit for the majority, horrible death for the unlucky few- but looked at in a Utilitarian light, it can be a moral good. That’s what denying individual human dignity leads to (generally speaking, of course- we probably wouldn’t even get healthier looking skin).

    The push for “equality” is the opposite of justice and morality that accepts absolutes. Yes, there are, and have to be absolutes, else you don’t have ethics, you have excuses. “Equality” raises the perpetrator and lowers the victim to a level field. It ultimately makes no distinction between rape and making love.

    It does not- cannot- last on its own. A stronger system will replace it, even if that stronger system is brutal in the extreme. Because the idea of “equality” can’t put itself above that system, therefore on an “equal” playing field, it loses without a fight.

    1. Almost completely agree; BUT, viz your example: it’s not up to me to accept “2% slowly… [being] eaten alive.” That’s up to them (I can’t imagine a circumstance in which they’d actually consider that a good tradeoff for even the chance of being in the 98%; but the limitations of my imagination should not be determinant for what they can do with their lives.) There is no liberty if individuals do not have agency to do things others would not.

      My duty to them, if I have one, is to help them avoid being slowly eaten alive if they do NOT want it.

      The difficulty is that humans are oft less rational than rationalizing beings — how can I be sure that powerful convictions of guilt or depression are not causing someone to accept what they would not otherwise want?

      1. A fair point, Alan. To a progressive, such an example wouldn’t make them blink. And you’re right, it was a poor example.

        Treating folks as groups still does conscience horrors- real, no s#!* racism for one… History is rife with better- or rather, worse things done that track back to treating human beings as groups, things, widgets. Everything from mobs to organized pogroms flow from this flawed thinking, in part if not in full.

        1. and yet … nobody has time to fully treat everyone they meet with completely individual attention. A degree of “I just met you, you have the appearance of X, I’ll initially treat you as if you are more likely to be X than Y” is justifiable (and I think should be quickly forgivable – i.e. people should be somewhat responsible for how they present themselves).

          The problems you note arise when a person has so little real interest in and respect for others _as individuals_ that he doesn’t immediately begin filling in those sketchy initial impressions with better real information.

          That’s the effective difference between “progressives” and real “people persons”.

          1. Part of the problem is folks demanding others treat them as they wish to be treated, but refusing to behave in a way that conveys how they’d like to be treated– I don’t complain when I walk into a gaming store wearing Mom Clothes and they act like I’m not a geek.

  18. Speaking of new, did you know that Brother has a twenty-five (25) year limited warranty on one of their sergers? If I can get my overdue stuff done, it would make a dandy birthday present for my wife.


  19. I had an epiphany recently while trying to understand McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Equality.” It is that that the culture of capitalism: innovation, having ago, dignity, freedom, etc. comes down to the idea that “we,” the middle class, the odds, the People of the Responsible Self, are not that interested in power.

    But our liberal friends are very interested in power.

  20. You talk about having the freedom to choose what to do with your life, and I agree completely. It’s just that the looney tunes out there want to have the freedom to choose what THEY want to do, and force everyone ELSE to pay them for it, even if no one else wants it*.

    * Yes, I know that’s kind of a redundant statement to most of us here, but I wanted it pointed out for the random drive-bys.

    1. They want the freedom to choose what YOU do. What THEY do is none of anyone’s business.

    2. and force everyone ELSE to pay them for it, even if no one else wants it

      But if someone goes $35K in debt to get a Master’s Degree in Puppetry, don’t the rest of us owe him a salary commensurate with the time and effort he expended in pursuit of his education?

      Why are you all shaking your heads like that?

    1. There was a time when that wouldn’t have been a very big deal to me, unless it involved stairs, but now? I’m hard-pressed to carry two sheets of drywall at once.

    2. Yeah – and there was the chest freezer that had to come up the steep basement stairs when we were moving out of the apartment. Was much younger & stronger, once upon a time!

  21. Optimism springs from being resourceful, prepared, clear-eyed, and resilient. And there are very good strategies to counteract even a tyrannical leviathan supported by a majority population of dependent sheeple.

    The wheels will come off overseas first, and an effort will be made to disperse our military in “humanitarian” actions outside our borders. On the plus side, our southern and mid-western national guards are not trivial, and we are flanked by two very large oceans. In a pinch, even the Canucks will pull their weight.

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