Winter IS coming

I’m not stealing this from a series I neither read or watch.  I am echoing it from many discussions recently in which the phrase is used like a short code for “things are gonna get rough.”

Yesterday I was at village inn (don’t judge me.  Our very rare violation of no-carbs, no-sweets is in the minor form of no sugar apple pie about once every two months.  On Wednesday, of course.  Which is how I realized it was Wednesday.  Sorry I didn’t do MGC guys.  Things are still confusing.) and a group of women I’d say ten years older than I, (but I’m bad at judging so probably my age) were discussing how bad things have been going over the last eight years.  (It wasn’t said, but I got a strong feeling they’re voting for Hillary anyway.)  And then they said “We need to get used to this.  It’s the new normal.”

There was in their words a feel of “we’ve lived so well so long” and of the Marxist fallacy that making us poorer makes the rest of the world richer, and being decent people they accept their fate with resignation, because, really, would you want to be responsible for starving children in Africa?

Only the starving children in Africa are the victims of their own (mostly socialist, though there’s a few tribal nationalists) corruptocrats, and our own (mostly socialist, though there’s also tribal nationalists of various stripes) corruptocrats making us poor won’t make them rich or even better off.  Arguably the stuff the first world sends them is already responsible for economic malformations that makes their best and brightest work for NGOs as chauffeurs instead of working in something useful to their country.

And as for “the new normal,” the advantage of being half a century old is that I’ve seen this movie before, and the laugh lines aren’t any funnier the second time around.

My own host parents who were Democrats (generational democrats.  We still have them) were sure that the malaise wasn’t Carter’s fault and that Carter’s heart was pure.  He meant the best.  Reagan was going to plunge us in a war.  As for the economy, I mean, do what?  It was the way it was going, all over the world.  The new normal. (They eventually voted for Reagan in no small part because there might have been a campaigning mole in their house… ahem.)

It’s funny how Reagan made the economy work again, and suddenly we were all doing better.  Well enough to last through a Democrat and a Democrat light, two terms each.

But people get used to the slide down.  As I’ve said before, sliding down is easy.  If it’s gradual enough, we resent the first few cuts, then sort of get used to it.  After a while we start viewing it as virtuous to make do with less, to become “frugal” and proficient in things we never needed to do before.  There is a pride in that, of course, and people should be proud of their survival skills. In Portugal where delivered bread had been a thing for years, people were very proud of making their own bread during a bakers’ strike.  I’m still proud of them.  Better than bitching and moaning and doing without.

However, learning to do new things, getting used to going down easy and coping is the slow slide down. You can go a long way that way, and not sparkle rebellion.  People are amazingly good at adapting.  They forget there was ever anything different.  Or if not forget it existed, they forget how nice it was.  They find excuses.  “we’re more self-sufficient now” or “we’re running out of raw materials” and “overpopulation.” (the later two were very popular in the seventies.)  I suspect the new one is (rolls eyes) “climate change.”  Like massive overpopulation this imaginary animal can be blamed for everything those in power want to do, and because it’s nebulous (how over must overpopulation be before it counts.  Last I heard we could all live snugly in a state (not one of the big ones) at NYC densities.  And people live in NYC on purpose.) it can be described as anything needed at the time.  I mean the latest thing I heard blamed on “climate change” was unemployment.  Yeah.

The thing is that the slide down easy has worked for other countries in large measure because of the US.  In many ways the US is the economic pillar holding up the world.  We’ve all heard when the US sneezes the rest of the world gets pneumonia.  Having lived through 99.9% of the seventies abroad, I’m here to tell you it’s true, very true.

But what happens when the pillar gets socialist termites?  What happens when snaity goes mad?  What happens when the salt of the Earth loses it flavor?

You know what happens.  And all of us, at the back of our head are feeling it.  Hence, the sentence “Winter is coming” cropping up everywhere, despite the summers of recovery (six? Seven?  How many now) and the cooked numbers, and GDP reports that would make the former soviet union proud (they never managed that much misinformation even with a captive press, while ours are captive on purpose, presstitutes who will spread their leggy lies for anyone with sufficient lefty credentials.  Heinlein was right.  You can’t imprison a free man.  But if you get inside a man’s head, he’s already not free.  You need no force to coerce him. Just sweeter journalistic gigs, more money, and the happiness of knowing they’re “the good people.”)

But winter is coming.  Partly because we’ve lived so well so long.  Because through the Reagan years and the years that followed people were told how much better off they’d have been if Jimmah had got a second term, if we had stayed the course.  He only needed some time for his policies to work, see.  And Reagan destroyed it, which is why by the time we got to GWB things were failing and and and…

So we’re trying to cure the ills of socialism with more socialism.  And we know where that ends.  And because of who we are in the world, we’re taking the world with us.

Winter is coming.

Things to remember:

Winter is not endless – it might seem so, and this time it might outlast me, and most of you, but it is not endless.  In the depths of winter, work towards spring.  In any way you can, keep building, keep the idea of freedom alive.

Winter is not total – Again, I don’t believe in total collapses.  Can they happen?  Oh, sure.  Like ice ages happen.  There are ways.  We could get hit with a nuke, or a lot of nukes, all over the world, which could, as Heinlein pointed out decades ago, catapult us to the stone age in most places.  BUT barring that, collapse is just uncomfortable, annoying, restrictive, with occasional bouts of violence (less occasional if your area is particularly… ah… vibrantly endowed with people who have been taught the man is hiding the ‘stash.)  And because America is starting much higher than the rest of the world, collapse here no matter how bad will be better than anywhere else in the world, unless you’re very very very rich in the rest of the world.

Winter is not dead – Our government might be doing its best to encase us in a coat of snow, but beneath the snow growth and activity continue, ready to explode when the environment allows it.  This is why after the ice ages more or less the same plants came back.

So. Continue working.  Stay true to what true liberty is.  Remember that what these people are doing in curing socialism with socialism is no part of America.  It is an European thing, where both sides of the “political spectrum” are socialist.  (In the ROJIVYV, their colour stops at red. You can have any color you want provided it’s pink, red or crimson.) Remember the constitution even when honored in the breach.  Remember we are the fruits of a radical experiment, and in radical experiments there are set backs.  Work.  Believe. Create. Form community.  Teach your children well.

In the end we win, they lose, winter or no winter, but that’s no reason to be unprepared when winter is coming.


238 thoughts on “Winter IS coming

  1. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    The winter always comes, on the back of stupid people who don’t trust anybody, need total control and are unable to keep things going. Don’t let “what if” become the enemy of “lets do it.”

  2. Like a lot of things, socialist thinking is unevenly distributed. In the US, it’s thick as flies on the coasts, much less thick in flyover territory. So what would happen if something like a small (nowhere near Hamner-Brown class) and mostly disintegrating comet hit on an ocean or at several points in the ocean, and perhaps some spots in Asia, but mostly left the land alone? If the tsunamis took out the coasts, what would the center do? There’s a novel or five in there somewhere, but I’m not the guy to write it.

    We may not need a comet. Socialism can’t thrive without network TV, and universities. People are watching network TV less, and I smell both a collapsing bubble and furious backlash in the university realm. Carol and I haven’t watched network TV in years, and an awful lot of other people are cutting that particular cord too. A rebirth of vo-tech education could kneecap the current obsession with college degrees. The working class knows who hates them.

    Freedom always sneaks in through the cracks. The good news is that there are a lot of cracks these days.

    1. See Mike Rowe, Or me, for that matter, for the vo-tech thing and the maker movement. Along with people like the YouTube machinists.

      1. Yes, you. And me. There are a lot of Mike Rowes out in rural America, and my family was thick with them. I have a BA in English, but I also have a 13 X 36 engine lathe and know how to use it. Makers, yeah. Skilled craftsmen (and women) earn a great deal more than your average Grievance Studies graduate. The finish carpentry in this house (including my 12′ high library wall, soon to be someone else’s, sigh) did not come cheap.

        1. Yep. I pound a keyboard for a living, but I know what to do with a soldering iron and small tools. I’m learning what to do with an impact wrench. (Owning a classic Mercedes and not paying someone else kilobucks to keep it on the road will do that for you.) I can swing a hammer and not break my wrist, and the rest can be learned. And if it comes down to it, I’m willing to do those things for a living.

          1. I am ever amazed at how easy it is to do and learn new things if you just have a decent teacher and some time to practice.
            (i.e. driving a skip steer, making applesauce, canning at home, chainmailing, gardening.)
            Of course, growing up with a family that believed that you can do anything also helps.

            1. I never got a “you can do anything” statement, or encouragement, or any such in my family. I just lived with a father who could do darn near anything already.

              1. Well, yeah, that’s basically what I grew up with. It wasn’t touchy feelie, “You can do anything!” statements as much as it was the expectation that you did what you were told, even if you’d never done it before.
                A Dad who could do darn near anything just reinforced the message.

                1. Yep – my parents had a go at all kinds of things; landscape gardening, furniture repair/building/upholstery, home renovation (to include laying floors and installing drywall, auto repair … “all this stuff,” my parents kept saying, “Is not that hard. Read up on it, have the right tools, practice … consult with experts. DIY rules…”

                2. The distinction between “You can do anything” and “There’s no reason you can’t do that” tends to escape many folk, especially those with a Leftward bias.

                3. That should help. My parents were pretty good parents in many ways, but one thing I am still sometimes somewhat angry with them, after all these decades, is that they both were impatient – too impatient to teach and too impatient to let me learn anything by making mistakes, usually every time I tried to do something at home when I was a kid it would end in a few moments with my mother sighing and then taking over. And my father’s garage was pretty much forbidden territory for me until I was in my late teens and he did finally teach me something, how to get cars ready for a paint job, so then I did sand them and so on. But I never learned how to paint them. I asked him, but he never had the time.

                  I have learned more than a few things on my own after I moved out, but I still wish they would have been willing to teach me what they could do. Both were people who could do lots, mother was a professional seamstress and a good gardener and father could fix and build almost anything, his garage mostly did body work but he fixed engines too, and he was a pretty good carpenter and painter, had been working with ship engines for years and so on. I’d be in many ways much better off if they would have been willing to teach me at least some rudiments of what they could do.

                  And yes, to some extent this also made me somewhat insecure when it comes to any kind of building or handcrafts, for years I thought I could not do anything right unless I got it right the first time, when I didn’t I tended to give up.

              2. I think part of it was the time you (and I) grew up. Dad was always out working on the cars during the weekend and he had his little helper tagging along. Mom would usually pick up furniture from the neighbors/relatives/good will during the summer and we’d all get to sand then stain or paint. My youngest niece still uses one of the dressers my sister and I sanded and painted over 30 years ago 🙂

                Even basic plumbing and things like that. Part of it was budget. Why pay someone money you need to feed growing kids when you can do it yourself.

                But we also had lots and lots of space. With so many people living in urban areas it’s a lot easier to take your car in for an oil change or pick up cheap furniture.

                Before my job situation changed I was looking at getting an acreage and going back to doing a lot of those things (plus gardening). Now I’m looking at an apartment for at least the next year or longer. Depends on how some of my side projects shape up and the current consulting job go.

                1. …it’s a lot easier to take your car in for an oil change

                  Especially when the gum’mint imposes strict rules for disposal of the old oil.

                    1. I agree on both points. I’ve been telling people for some time that the older I get, the more willing I am to pay people to do things for me, and some things are just more hassle than I want to get into. That didn’t stop me from replacing my bathroom sink over Memorial Day weekend, though.

                      I did have to use a bit more plumber’s putty to stop leaks than I thought was appropriate, but who’s going to complain?

                  1. The good news here is that most auto parts stores will take the old oil in for recycling. Wish they did that for other fluids, like, say, used radiator coolant…

                    And for oil changes, a vacuum extractor is the cat’s ass. Stick a hose down the dipstick, pump for a bit, all the old oil is sucked out of the engine and into a container for convenient disposal. If the filter is on the top of the engine, even better. I can change the oil in my diesel in 20 minutes without ever getting under it.

                2. On my last car, I did the first oil change myself, because man. Ran car for a bit to warm up oil. Tried to go under car – couldn’t fit fat self under car. Put front end up on ramps to get clearance and scooted underneath. After some contortions, was able to reach oil filter. Burned arm on exhaust manifold. Wrapped arm in shop towels. Put oil filter wrench on filter and cracked the seal. Discovered, with faceful of hot oil, that oil filter (situated at @ 30o downslope) did not get fully scavenged of oil upon engine shutdown.

                  All subsequent oil changes were performed by professionals.

                  And if I ever win 12.6 million FRNs in the Powerball lottery, I’m going to go to Korea, hunt down the engineer who designed that oil system and punch him in the nose. Of course he’ll probably know Tae Kwan Do or any of a dozen other Korean words and kick my ass, but oh well . . .

                    1. Just go to Walmart.
                      They usually don’t have the right bulb in stock, but for I think it’s ten bucks, they’ll take off the bumper and grill to put the dang thing in. And they’re not doing it while sitting on a cold driveway. 😀

                    2. But getting your hands and the belt to get the old one out and the new one in is a royal PITA, especially on a Dodge Intrepid with the big police engine in it…….
                      I have the skinned knuckles and fingers to prove it.

                    3. Oh, the headlight bulb was a snap, literally. Just snap out the lamp base and switch out the module, then snap back in.

                      Of course, the replacement lamp lasted about 15 minutes. Seems that if you use bare hands to replace the HID lamp, you leave fingerprint oil on the lamp and it burns out really quickly. Subsequent headlight replacements were done using light cotton gloves; no problems.

                      The taillights were a PITA, Had to pull off the entire light assembly to get to the lamp sockets. Eventually ended up getting a set of replacement taillight assemblies from a local You-Pull auto salvage yard (really cool – get your parts cheap and do a dry run on the removal of necessary item at the same time), relamping them, and swapping them out as a unit when required.

                  1. Two observations about your comment:

                    First, the average Asian person will likely know just as much of any martial art that you know, so that isn’t likely to be a problem (portrayals in anime notwithstanding…)

                    Second, though, you might want to reconsider taking out your frustrations on the engineer. There’s a good chance that the engineer is just as angry about the situation as you are, and was required to do it by his manager.

                    Third, you may even want to reconsider taking out your frustrations on the manager. There’s even the possibility that bureaucrats are requiring such things, to make it difficult for non-mechanics to work on them, in the name of safety, or smog control, or even “we have to do this so that the mechanics have work”, or some other such nonsense…

                    In which case, if you can ever go to Korea to punch an engineer in the nose, just be prepared to come back with a posse that will want to beat up on some bureaucrat somewhere…

                    1. It was a *joke* son.

                      While in high school, after a six-week intro course, I knew more Tae Kwan Do than my Korean buddy Duk Soo Kim. He was a total nerd.

                      And the engine for the Kia Sephia was built by Mazda in Japan.

            2. I’ve been teaching myself canning via books and Internet. THIS IS NOT SCARY AT ALL NOPE. The tomatoes haven’t killed anybody yet, the jam is damn good, and We Don’t Talk About The Pickles. I’m having a lovely time staggering my way into a decent vegetable garden, though (now if only Smalldog would stop trying to poach the broccoli).

              1. Tomatoes and Jams are good prospects for beginner canning, because they don’t require pressure canners. I’m not talking about the pickles, (REALLY!), but pickles are also good beginner canning. The low pH of the tomatoes and pickles, and the high sugar content of the jam will prevent growth of the few things that require higher than boiling water temperature to kill.

                1. Since I’ve never done canning myself, I want to make sure I understand what you’re saying.

                  1) Some bacteria / amoebae / things require higher than 100°C temperatures to kill.

                  2) If you’re canning tomatoes or other acidic things, the low pH will suppress the things that need >100°C temperatures.

                  3) If you’re canning jams, the high sugar concentration will tend to kill the things that need >100°C temperatures (presumably because they’ll lose water from their cells through osmosis, killing them).

                  4) If you’re canning something that is neither acidic enough nor sugary enough to kill those things, you need to use temperatures greater than 100°C, or your canned food will go bad.

                  5) A pressure canner uses pressure to raise the boiling point of water, so you can hit ???°C (where ??? is some number greater than 100), which is sufficient to kill those things.

                  Is that correct? And what temperature does a pressure canner let you reach? 120°C? 150°C? 200°C?

                  1. I don’t actually know how high a temp a pressure canner CAN get you to, but when I was researching this topic last year, I found that certain microorganisms require 270F (132 C) to be certain to kill them.

                    Note: A high enough salt content will also prevent bacteria growth. I don’t know how high, but there ARE some things that have a high enough content to allow standard canning.

                  2. This is all correct. Here’s a good resource:


                    When canning tomatoes, it’s recommended to add a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice to increase acidity. Not all tomatoes are acidic enough. This is just added insurance.

                    Low acid foods absolutely have to be pressure canned for safety, or frozen. The canning temperature must reach 240° – 250° F/116° – 122° C for X amount of time to kill botulism bacteria. That’s the main nasty, and a fatal one. Some have tried doing this in a standard oven, which of course doesn’t work because the interior of the jars still doesn’t get hot enough. Even then, there’s some foods can’t can’t be safely home canned due to problems of the interior reaching the required temperatures.

                    Canning does put a lot of heat in a home. It’s not recommended, but we mostly can outside on a propane fish cooker burner. This takes more diligence than on the stove, since even a breeze will cool the canner. We have a weighted canner which I prefer because it doesn’t have to be calibrated like a dial model, and listen to the sounds of boiling and how fast the weight jiggles. It takes adjusting the gas feed a good bit to maintain the right temperature. You can tell when the temperature isn’t constant because the contents will leak.

                    Canning is my job at home. Tend to read while parked in a chair beside the propane tank

                    If you have a glass range top, you can’t use a pressure canner on it. That’s because the bottoms are slightly convex, and will not heat properly.

                    Our procedure is to can, allow to cool for an hour, then I bring in the canner – which is still hot enough to burn you, BTW, like hot coffee – open the lid, and set the jars out on an folded, old, thick, towel on the counter top. Then I cover the jars with a couple of other old towels. This allows them to slowly cool overnight. They are usually so hot that they’re still a bit warm in the morning. Naturally, a jar lifter is practically a must for this part.

                    It’s really not hard. You just have to pay attention to what you’re doing and follow instructions exactly. Canners also come with instructions, and address things like how much water to put in them for full and partial loads, as well as canning temperatures and times.

                    BTW, I always make sure the emergency relief valve is pointed away from everyone, just in case.

                    1. Note that the botulinum bacteria are actually killed below 100 C. However, it creates spores which can survive that temperature, and will grow into a colony of the bacteria after canning.

                      Incidentally, this is the reason one should not feed an infant honey – the spores survive even in such a high-sugar environment, and, while even a toddler’s digestive system is well able to kill them, the infant’s system is undeveloped enough that it can grow before being digested.

      2. Heck, there’s a new Bishop who’s making his own staff. Hit my news feed because he likened it to a Jedi getting his lightsaber.

    2. There have been several books like this. I remember one as far back as the Seventies. Ringo’s done it several times.

      The hard one would be a convincing story where we work it out *without* killing off large portions of the drone population…

  3. “We could get hit with a nuke, or a lot of nukes, all over the world, which could, as Heinlein pointed out decades ago, catapult us to the stone age in most places. BUT barring that, collapse is just uncomfortable, annoying, restrictive, with occasional bouts of violence (less occasional if your area is particularly… ah… vibrantly endowed with people who have been taught the man is hiding the ‘stash.) And because America is starting much higher than the rest of the world, collapse here no matter how bad will be better than anywhere else in the world, unless you’re very very very rich in the rest of the world.”
    Hirsoshima is prove that nukes can be rebuilt from. Detroit is prove of what happens under Socialism. Along with a bunch of other ruins including most American cities where Socialism became the norm.

    1. And if you are a grasshopper, find an ant colony or two who value your music, and would be willing to support you. Don’t expect the world at large to care.

    2. There’s a reason I named my post-apocalyptic story “Grasshoppers”.

  4. A bad time personally to be reading this. I had just completed a quick refresher on Bloody Bill Anderson, then happened to see where a Huff n Puff contributor called anti-Trump violence “logical.” You’d think no one remembers Bleeding Kansas or much of any US history. This. Is. Not. Good. Yes, James T. Kirk diction is required to say that.

    Now top it off with nearly a decade of a depression that no one dares call it such, and frankly here I don’t see it improving at all. Not in my lifetime, and maybe never. Yeah, I think it’s the new normal, too, and think it stinks worse than eau de dead skunk. The current political situation, sans Huff n Puss commentators, hasn’t helped, either. Yeah, I know it’s probably a contrary view here. It’s still what I think and what I feel. And no, it’s not a nice place to be. It’s still where I’m at.

    1. Exactly – Kansas bled, and bled, Texas had practically a whole mini-civil war going on, Virginia split in two …

      I have been especially appalled, reading accounts of the Trump rally in San Jose; it seems that the authorities deliberately steered those departing the rally into the thug element, and then just sat back and watched it happen. This is the second step – the first being after a period of being deliberately “othered” by the ruling classes. You’re the “other” – you deserve whatever happens to you. I guess the third step is laws deliberately weaponised against the other, and the fourth step must involve closed box cars and gulags.

      1. And yet Kansas eventually stopped bleeding, and now its practically synonymous with “nothing ever happens here.” Texas has pulled itself together and is now an economic powerhouse. And Virginia…well, it’s starting to rival Illinois for number of governors under indictment, but it has at least enjoyed a fair amount of material prosperity.

        Point is, despite how bleak things can look at time, they can eventually get better.

        1. Virginia… Well, the (R) Governor was an ‘ethics’ breech that was stupid, but probably legal. Our current one has been shady since the first Clinton administration. Personally, I blame Northern Virginia. Once it became a tax-shelter for people in Maryland, the waves of locusts socialists moved in, creating havoc wherever they land.
          West Virginia seems to finally be coming to their senses and figuring it our.

          1. Maybe the rest of Virginia should also secede and become East Virginia or South Virginia. 🙂

              1. your problem is an infestation of government bureaucrats in the Northern Virginia area. Imposing relocation of various to their logical geographic constituencies (as some have proposed) would go a long way to clearing up your state’s bureauczema and allow it to recover its natural vigor.

                Put the EPA in West Virginia, the Dept. of Energy in Oklahoma, park the Bureau of Land Management near Yellowstone (right atop the caldera strikes me as suitably warm for them) and the Department of Education in Hell (Michigan, that is) and your problems will clear up faster than you can say Clearasil.

                1. Hey, now, Yellowstone is doing a darned good job at assisting people in their Darwin Awards this year, but is that really kind to the poor features? They’ve been working hard! Maybe Mt. St. Helens would like to try the BLM.

                  Living right near the park we get all the park news, often as headlines. I knew Yellowstone was deadly, but no remains! That’s impressive beyond just deadly. We get up there often enough I gave that one to the kids to reinforce stay on the walk.

                  1. Not that I advocate reading non-SF works by anybody other than our esteamed hostess, but if you live near Yellowstone you might really enjoy the Joe Pickett stories by CJ Box. Jow is a Wyoming game warden with an attitude problem — he thinks the laws apply equally to all. One of the mysteries, Free Fire, is set in Yellowstone, In this story the identity of the murderer is known from the beginning but because “the crimes were committed in a thin sliver of land with zero residents and overlapping jurisdiction, the so-called free-fire zone. [The perpetrator] has taken advantage of an obscure loophole in the law: neither the state nor the federal government can try him for his crime.”

                    All the novels are good and I recommend reading your way up to Free Fire, lest you miss some of the elements that Box has built over the series.

                    1. Thanks, RES, I will look them up. We are, in fact, close enough to Yellowstone to consider it a day-trip, though we usually make it a three-day. Such a gorgeous place.
                      Where we live we are, due to a quirk of geography, sheltered from the historical outflows, but a couple miles away are lava fields that flowed from Craters of the Moon a couple thousand years ago, another feature of the Yellowstone hotspot and quite due for eruption as well (which is why, of course, the INL is located there, because what more sensible place to put a nuclear research facility could one find? /sarc). A Yellowstone hotspot eruption is an excellent reason to keep several years of stored food on hand, but our particular niche in the rocks here is all much older sedimentary deposits.
                      The nightmare apocalypse scenario is something like Cascadia Subduction, San Andreas, New Madrid, and Yellowstone decide to have a group event. One of the TEOTWAWKI writers should do that. Yellowstone could be the trigger that loosens the faults just enough . . .

                    2. I’ve been meaning to take the children up that way to the paternal side ancestral stomping grounds.

                      Though I’ve been informed by cousins that the old family ranch is now a dude ranch/B&B.

                2. The Dept of Ed should just be abolished and dismantled. No need to inflict it upon the good citizens of Hell…….

          2. I read up on the (R) Virginia ethics thing back when it was in the news. IIRC, my takeaway from it all was that Virginia’s gifting laws were sufficiently loose that the Feds had to get involved because otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to charge him with anything.

            1. Yeah – “Accepting gifts while Republican” is only criminalized in the NE and Pacific states so far, but give them time (and a few more elections.)

        2. Problem is that bleeding stopped only after much greater aggressions. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better (if it does). Civilization falls gradually then all at once

        3. You know what the financial advisors say: Past results is not an indicator of future performance. The partisans had a place to go – I had looked up Bloody Bill Anderson after a reference in True Grit (yeah, I got drawn into the novel), and after it hit me the outlaw situation post Civil War was similar to medieval post war goings on in Europe. But the key thing is they had a place to go. A lot of Eastern partisans/Guerrillas might have gotten a pardon, but were still subject to civil courts, and headed to new territory.

          Where would such go today?

          I’m depressed about the entire situation. I fear a nation intact in name but horribly balkanized into violent factions. And when you look at past means of handling such activities, it doesn’t look good at all.

      2. I’m not really surprised about San Jose. I lived there for 25 years and the rot is deep. Chicago style machine politics with better weather. They used to be able to fund everything with the proceeds from Silicon Valley, but after the dot-com-bomb, the jobs went north and things went south. I got out in 2003 and expect it to be a warm day in Fimbulwinter before I ever set foot in that area again.

        In our corner of Deepest Oregon, we have our problems (those thinking the South never forgot/never stopped fighting the Civil War could just as well be referring to the Modoc Indian War), but if the feces hit the Fedders at the coast, I think we’ll get by. The closest we get to coastal “civilization” is near Labor Day, when the Burning Man types pass to and fro. Spend that money, but leave already. The Great Cascadia Earthquake will cause problems, but we try to be prepared. The Great Portlandia Blowup, may not be a problem for us.

    2. Now top it off with nearly a decade of a depression that no one dares call it such…

      I’ve been calling it the the Great Dempression, to give credit where it’s due, but I don’t have a Major Newspaper column.

        1. The endless summers of no recovery except in the media.

          The job market this year looks really bad. I only check it about once a month now but even things that are supposed to be in demand (IT Security) don’t seem to be there. Usually by this time of the year I’ve had at least 10 recruiters contact me and this year I think the count is at 4 and none of those were jobs I was willing to seriously consider.

          1. The hoops employers must jump through in order to advertise for new hires are not conducive to paying the kind of wages dictated by a $15 MW. By the time you’ve added in benefits and taxes for the privilege of giving somebody a chance to earn a living the actual cost per hour of unskilled labor approaches $25 — happily, the way the government is hollowing out the dollar that expense is not so bad as once it was.

        2. I suspect that it is a Summer of Recovery, but the administration surreptitiously expanded the Never-Summer Range of the Rockies to cover the entire country.

  5. It was interesting (in the not-really-Chinese sense…) a few years ago when the Burmese pony had a siezure (the fit hit the shan) and $HOUSEMATE who had spent all his life in the upper middle class or borderline upper class had to deal with making do. Having been if not lower class, at least very low middle class through childhood, I had a fair amount of coping mechanisms/strategies that helped – some. A lot was still “What can we abandon?” and out went most of the dining out, out went the cable TV, out went shiny new vehicles, out went most of the conventions I had been attending, etc. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” wasn’t a matter of (martial) wartime rationing. Things, for us, have gotten slightly better. Not enough that new vehicles are considered, and TV is history (every once in a while I go someplace that has TV… and discover that most of the programs annoy me at least as much as the commercials) though cable is back – now as ‘net connectivity, and dining out is less uncommon. And I can even afford the very occasional bottle of good scotch.

    It’s very interesting listening to radio made in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Not just the WWII themed tunes and programs, even well after WWII the promo spots that “Freedom is something we must all work at” and notes the fragility if it left unexcercised.

    When (since when Winter comes, we [USA] will be busy stoking our own furnace – not everyone or anyone else’s) Europe, etc. doesn’t get help (monetary aid, military protection, whatever else) from the US, everyone will see – painfully – that socialism is cargo cult economics/organization. No matter how well you arrange the sticks, it’s not really a radio antenna, etc.

    Sure, Winter is coming. And we can deal with Winter. The real question is not can we survive Winter. We can. It is… can the rest of the world deal with us getting cabin fever[1]?

    [1] When I lived & worked in central/northern WI there was a two week period of -40 F (and C) nights with highs never going above 0 F. Lead-acid powered machinery that was never supposed to leave a loading dock was brought “inside” just to keep the batteries warm enough to work – on the somewhat heated dock. You really get to wondering why you’re doing things when the machinery is giving up. The first break when the high was above 0 F at all (+1 F counts!) was almost as good as Spring for the relief it brought. [Yes, I know, the Canadians are laughing. Still.. Winter goes too far too long and Things Happen.]

    1. Yeah, things have gotten slightly better. Instead of a broken-down 1989 Bronco II, I now drive a 2008 Mercedes diesel SUV with 157K miles on it and have a 1983 380SL for fun. We go to a couple of cons and a few renfaires every year. We eat out once a week or so, on average. We did manage to keep the house payments going, and will pay that off in another couple of years.

      But my earning power has been cut in half, likely permanently. The last gig I worked for my old consulting company employer was the first week of November 2008. That company collapsed, owing me $44K. I was effectively unemployed, getting by on the occasional consulting gig, until I was able to land a tech support job locally. I’m very slowly digging my way out of debt.

      If this is the new normal, then we’re all going to have to buckle down again, like we did in the 1940s, and dig our way back out of it. It starts with stringing up every left-wing politician we can.

      And if what we’ve had the past couple of years was just an Indian summer, then we’re really, really in trouble…

    2. I did the -40 thing myself, in Thunder Bay Ontario. Even Canadians blink and nod respectfully when I tell them this 🙂 (And fun fact…you can leave the temperature scale off. -40 C is the same as -40 F)

      Block heaters. All the local cars had engine block heaters, and all the parking lots had outlets (before electric cars!) That is my personal standard for Too Damn Cold. If the local parking lot has outlets, I am not living there. (But given how the sun has been acting up, we might all want to think about block heaters…)

      Gaah. I am remembering how it was so cold my eyes would water and my eyelashes freeze together. Moms would send the little kids off to school with their scarves knotted *behind* them so they wouldn’t fall off, and there was a regular duty rota for the older kids to untie the younger ones in the morning. (Also they had so much insulation in the coats the little dears literally could not bend. My mom made me walk with my little sister because if she fell, she couldn’t get up again.) Good times, good times…

      1. When I was working for the post office (I’m feeling better now…) the full-time/union folks complained about the part timers using spaces in the general parking lot. This was visible from the dock, so generally had someone watching things or at least apt to notice. The part timers were told to park out of sight, behind the service garage. But that was also the executive or such parking area and the outside back wall of the garage was wired with outlets. My car had a block heater, and the cold snap happened after the “you guys have to park out there” thing. So, I got banished to parking in the ideal spot for a nice easy start.

    3. Yeah.

      Them as knows how to get by with less will come through the Winter better off than the coddled and lazy.

  6. Ten years ago, when I started at my job in the maintenance department of a small university, we had nine full time staff and three seasonal workers for the summer months (when we are busiest.). This summer we have seven total. During the same period our department has taken on new responsibilities. We have had a freeze on raises for the past eight of those years and our insurance has grown in price to the point where my take home pay is less than when I started. If this is a recovery, where do I sign up for the recession?

    1. We (school where I work) got hit by the oil not-crash this year. Most people, once we got over the shock, approached the situation with ” OK, here’s some ideas, Boss, and here’s what $DEPARTMENT has worked out that we can cut without causing pain for the students.” We rolled up our sleeves and got creative. Enrollment is steady despite the not-crash and not-recovery, and the sense is if we can dig in and weather this storm, we’ll be better off and more prepared for the next blow. It’s not going to be fun, but we’ll make it.

      1. A typical Texas response to an oil bust. Happened before, will happen again.

      2. As opposed to the continuous “the sky is falling” news stories I get to see. And the tax commission trying to defraud people

      3. Some schools might have to lay off an Assistant Dean of Student Living or a couple Hurt Feelz Counselors.

        Or trade in a tenured professors for two adjuncts to be named later.

        1. YOU go tell Sister Mary of Our Lady of the Iron Ruler that’s she’s been made redundant. I’ll be out on the other side of the track bleachers counting cows.

    2. The local economy hasn’t been doing all that great for decades. Manufacturing helped, but that’s practically gone, and there’s nothing to take its place. For a time things looked up during the housing bubble as people wanted to move to the country, but we knew that was bursting when subdivision houses built on speculation went unsold.

      Now there’s nothing. With the current economic conditions, there won’t be anything. They may be nothing if things ever do improve.

      This is why people move away. And I really can’t blame them.

      1. I’ve been amazed at the ability of California elites to chase jobs and businesses away. Manufacturing was Just Too Dangerous, but now they’re focusing on agriculture. (See Victor Davis Hanson’s columns.) I feel sorry for the people afflicted by the boneheaded policies there. I just hope they do something about it before we get Caracas Norte in California.

        1. They’ve been focused on the agriculture for a while now – at least as far back as the ’90s.

          And as it turns out, it’s not strictly an internal thing, either. You see, back in the ’90s, the Feds passed a bill that undid a lot of the Central Valley water projects in California. Said bill was, it turns out, introduced by one of the senators from New Jersey.

          I’m not sure why the Feds would feel a need to gut the Central Valley (one of the greatest farming areas in the country – when it has water). But that’s the way it is.

          1. I’m not sure why the Feds would feel a need to gut the Central Valley (one of the greatest farming areas in the country – when it has water). But that’s the way it is.

            Because, like almost ALL of the so called “elites”, they think all food comes from the supermarket. Damn near all of them have no clue what it takes to produce food/fiber.

    3. But I’ll bet there are more diversity coordinators then there were ten years ago, with higher salaries, and each with their own helpers.

      Maintenance and operations are always the fist areas bean counters cut. After all, you don’t required college degrees, so how hard could the job be? My federal agency has been downgrading all of the boiler operator positions for just that reason. (I’m grandfathered in.) The last opening we had took 6 months to fill, and required a bonus to get the new hire on board. A bonus worth more then the amount of the higher pay grade. So for the 3 years of the bonus, he technically makes more then me. A great way to keep existing staff happy….

      Experienced skilled workers. especially those in 24/7 positions where you can’t just up and leave at the end of a shift if your relief doesn’t show up, are getting harder and harder to find.

      1. Yes. A few years ago we had our accreditation audit and one of the areas in which we were told we needed improvement was the diversity of our administrative positions. Several positions were created specifically so that “diverse” persons could be hired to fill them. Whatever they do–other than “being diverse”–it isn’t anything that needed to be done prior to the audit. And while I don’t know for certain, I can be pretty sure that these positions make more money than I do.

        1. They give your enterprise strength — “Our diversity is our strength.”

          Surely you are NOT against strength?

          Mucking foron doesn’t know why so many of us came here, does he? It wasn’t to be diverse, it was to be American. You’d think he, of all folk, would understand that the fasces are only strong when they’re bundled by a common idea.

          1. Yes, but diversity only matters when everyone believes the same thing. That’s why we’re supposed to hate Justice Clarence Thomas! How can we be diverse, when we’re arguing among ourselves? Particularly when our arguments generally defend the freedom to be different?

  7. I admire your optimism, but the Roman Empire did fall and the dark ages did happen. If the US and the Western world fall, there will be a long period of death and destruction, an expanding Greater Caliphate, and who knows what will come after that. Now is the time to turn back the barbarians or hop into a time machine to see what the world is like in a thousand years. As you said, be prepared.

    1. The Western Roman Empire that finally fell was hardly very Roman or really much of an Empire by that time – the remaining rulers were huddled up in the naval base at Ravenna (after the capitol had been in Mediolanum (now Milan) for hundreds of years, not Rome), and go look up a map of what little of the western “Empire” remained by that time and you’d agree it was “not much.” The end was after the long, long slide that Sarah discusses, and that’s the point here.

      1. And in contrast, the Eastern Empire didn’t “fall” until a thousand years later, when the musselmen came calling, after their own slide.

      1. They were ‘dark” in the same way the Hadean in geology was ‘dark’, meaning obscured rather than evil. They were named at a time where the records of that era were rather sparse. (Grain of salt, explanation came from a historian I trust, but he could have been in error.)

        1. Nope, you got it. The other reason was when the division of history was done, the people doing it assumed that anything between the Renaissance and the Romans was terrible, horrible, corrupt, inferior, and barbaric (or yes), and so compared to the light of the Romans and their own time, the period between 475 and 1300 was DARK. And then we started finding new stuff in the old archives, and archaeologists got involved, and we now call the Period-Formerly-Known-As-the-Dark-Ages Late Antiquity, from 400 or so to 900 or so, and then the Middle Ages kicks in.

      1. You know, phonetically, in a not-Russian accent, that just might be it!!!

          1. ROY G BIV, ROY G BIV,
            That’s the color Quaddie that the spectrum gives!
            Red, orange, yellow,
            Green and blue,
            Indigo, violet, all for you….

            1. One of my favorite Bujold scenes ever. I love Madame Minchenko.

              Falling Free is underrated IMO, and I still collapse into giggles with “This is Leo Graf’s gasoline.”

              1. “…if anyone steals it, he will break all their arms.”

                I gave a copy of Falling Free to a metallurgical/welding engineer that agreed to give me job reference.

  8. Just last night my brother-in-law and I were talking about how a slow slip-slide can catch you by surprise. It was in reference to the slow decline of an elderly cat, but I noted that it’s also applicable to finances too: a sudden crisis like losing your job, you notice. You immediately make adjustments to live in reduced circumstances and work on improving them. But when it’s just the buying power of your income that’s eroding away, you may not notice because it just seems like the tight spots are coming more frequently, and then you discover you’ve used up all your savings and are getting in debt, and are trying to figure out how the heck it got so bad without you noticing.

    1. Yeah. We’re pretty well off (RedQuarters is paid for) but there was still an outbreak of Happy Dancing when we found that you can get milk for $2/gal cheaper at Braums than either Wal-World or Ye Regional Grocery Emporium. That erased three years of inflation right quick, at least where non-frozen milk is concerned. We shall not discuss the price of ice cream, since Sarah likes to keep the place PG-13.

      1. I miss Braums…One of the (many) reasons I want to move back South…

        1. I thought Braum’s was pretty good the couple times I’ve stopped at them while traversing the southwest. There are a slew of other regional chains (Village Inn, Runza’s, Pizza Ranch, etc.) plus a few national chains (Hardee’s, Denny’s) that are just not found in greater Cincinnati. One of the joys of travelling for me is the culinary difference of trying out those places along with interesting local restaurants.

            1. Where is there a Denny’s? I know if you go 50-100 miles out from Cincinnati toward Columbus, Indy, etc. you’ll find one but I can’t think of anything closer than that.

              1. Hmm… I know I’ve seen a sign, but the search I did earlier was misleading, showing several results that weren’t exact matches. So I went to their website. It looks like the only one around is in Walton, KY. Which is very close to me, but I’m going to guess not so close to you.

                  1. Oh, yeah, they are, but the question was whether there were still any in the Greater Cincinnati area. I’m not sure the one that I found quite qualifies.

            2. It’s still around, but it’s not the same Hardee’s. When my wife and I got married, there were so many guests that we only got one piece of cake each and a sip of punch. Our first real meal as man and wife came later, when we stopped at a Hardee’s and both got a chicken sandwich. For years I wanted to do that on our anniversary. And now today’s Hardee’s doesn’t even carry that same sandwich.

            3. Hardees did have a lot of places close up before it was merged with Carl’s Jr. Some places have one or the other, some have both.

              1. Yes, but what happened in the Cincinnati area was that there were several Hardees locations when I moved into the area *mumble* years ago, and no Carl’s Jr. stores…. and then a few years later every one of those Hardees locations closed. Fuddruckers departed. The Fazoli’s presence in the Cincinnati area declined to one location in northern Kentucky.Friendly’s had come and gone by the time I moved here. Quiznos came and went while I’ve been living here.

                I don’t know if native Cincinnatians have tastes or lifeways that don’t mesh well with those chains, or if local chains offer too much competition, or what, but if you look at the location maps for a number of regional/national chain websites you’ll see a clear space around Cincinnati. I just find it…. weird.

                1. I’ve tasted your Skyline Chili — native Cincinnatians indeed have tastes or lifeways that don’t mesh well with those chains or most of America’s.

                  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

                  1. (Sticks tongue out at RES) – You come back here and eat some White Castle* hamburgers and say that, mister!

                    * White Castle being one thing that I have had direct proof is very much not only an acquired taste, but also an acquired resistance. When I drove a van for a hotel, picking up overnighting airline crews, once in a while a local native would convince their co-workers to try White Castle. Invariably, at least one of them would be cursing their crewmate when they came down to go back to the airport in the morning.

                  2. You poor man – I hope you’ve recovered.

                    Cincinnati chili is definitely an acquired taste – one I’ve failed to acquire. Cincinnati-style pizza isn’t much better (I don’t care for the crust, and they use provolone instead of proper mozzarella). OTOH, the Montgomery Inn offers awesome BBQ, and there are a few places that serve up decent New York style (or even Chicago style) pizza. Also, the ice cream from both Aglamesis Brothers and the ubiquitous Graeter’s is top notch.

                  3. The chain may be native to Cincinnati, but the chili is the creation of the founder of Skyline, who was Lebanese. They and the Sicilians put cinnamon in meat dishes. NOT to my taste. For Chili – I use the Wick Fowlers boxed, individually bagged, spice mix when I am too lazy to roast my own spices.


                2. I’ll have to agree with the weirdness of it.

                  Another one is Shoneys. There used to be one within 10 miles of my house, now the nearest one is Louisville. 80 miles away.

                  As for the tastes, I guess that mixing Greek and German groups just makes the taste go sideways.

                  1. I’d forgotten Shoney’s – like Friendly’s it was one of the places gone before I arrived, but I had friends point out one they used to go to.

                    Most other places I’m familiar with, Greeks restaurateurs opened up diners and a few gyro places. Here, they mostly opened up chili parlors. I have no clue why.

                    As to the Germans, there’s a good bit of German food, but alas no restaurants left that serve rouladen! The nearest place I can find that is the Rathskeller in Indianapolis. In fact, everyplace else (in four darn states), I’ve ever had rouladen, or even knew of that served rouladen, has since closed.

              2. Beloved Spouse & I took the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Philthadelphia to Harrisburg yesterday, planning on coming down the Shenandoah Valley rather than traverse the running sore that is the Baltimore/Washington section of I-95 and were surprised to find, among the Turnpike’s licensed vendors, a Roy Rogers location.

                We thought Hardee’s had long ago bought all of those! Either they’ve spun off the franchise or the ‘pike’s contracts required that particular location to remain Roy’s.

                1. The Pennsylvania Turnpike tends to have some variety in what chain/franchise places are in each service plaza, even after most were rebuilt into the current food court configurations. Given that a person can spend much of a day on it, eating a couple meals along the way, variety is appreciated.

                2. I have a map to fill for riding my motorcycle, but there are several states, I really see no need to spend scads of time in. And others if I do places I will not go near. The line starts at Penn, and goes Northeast.
                  I’ve nipped Virginia on a West Virginny trip. so wont need to venture to that area of I95, and my bike trips normally avoid slab roads.

                  1. I allow as I was shocked that Valley Forge to Pittsburgh on the Penn Turnpike sets you back over forty bucks.

                    Not that I need extra reasons to eschew Pittsburgh.

        2. Yes. It is a very nice thing to have come upon when I moved down here. Milks about same as wally world but better imo

          1. That could be nice for shopping for fresh foods, but not so nice for resisting various frozen treats.

            1. If you stay in the outside lane (fresh milk, bread, produce) you are OK. Once you go into the inside lanes, doooooooom.

  9. ” … while ours are captive on purpose, presstitutes who will spread their leggy lies for anyone with sufficient lefty credentials. ”

    See, word pictures like this are part of why I stand in awe of you, Sarah, and love your writing. Wicked/clever little names and phrases … and it’s, what, like your 4th language – wonderful!

    1. There’s a famous quote about British journalism that also applies across the pond:

      You cannot hope
      to bribe or twist,
      thank God! the
      British journalist.

      But seeing what
      the man will do
      unbribed, there’s
      no occasion to.

  10. “You can go a long way that way, and not sparkle rebellion.”

    Is this when we rebel against those sparkly vampires in DC?

    I think a lot of the problem is seeing our children and grandchildren caught in a tar pit of debt and poor job prospects. We didn’t see it coming until it was institutionalized. Like Jeff above, I see a backlash against the university system. I jut don’t see the youngsters blaming the government that claimed to be helping them get that necessary piece of paper, and mostly just allowed the universities to jack up their tuition and leave the bulked up financial burden–slightly delayed–on the naive youngsters backs.

    It’s depressing, even when it doesn’t touch one personally.

      1. If the sparkle is just a phase during incineration, then that’s not a bad thing.

        1. New movie (short) when ‘Hillary met Cthulhu’? Mostly showing scenes of an ancient eldritch horror fleeing in terror? (Cthulhu, not Hillary)

          1. It would be an interesting Call of Cthulhu session if Cthulhu failed a SAN check.

    1. Exactly correct.
      What we’ve seen a lot (with 2nd kid in college this fall) is people getting mad at the universities but never thinking that the fed govt has anything to do with the crazily rising costs. And the most popular “solution” seems to be “free college.” 😒

      1. It’s also a good example of the classic “smash and power-grab”: some power-hungry bureaucrat, politician, or crony capitalist will complain — sometimes rightly, but more often not — that the Free Market isn’t working right, and *they* have a solution! The solution sometimes has something to do with the alleged problem, sometimes it does not, but it puts more power into the hands of the bureaucrats, and it breaks something. Thus, a cycle is started: the power-monger can now complain that the Free Market is still broken, and we need Yet Another Government Solution…until Government has complete control over the issue.

        The “solution” to education — “free” college — is the culmination of this process. Once our friendly government power-mongers are giving out free college, they have complete control over college — who gets it, who gets left behind, what gets taught, and what gets ignored…

  11. There’s going to be some interesting economic times this summer if, as I hope, the UK votes to Brexit. I’m not sure what all the repercussions are going to be, but Brexit is going to scare the ever living shit out the the statists and their financial enablers. That’s going to lead to panic which is always fun to observe in others

    1. The way the Eurocrats have been going this week, I suspect they may discover that the night after the Brexit vote results are announced, something goes “bang” or “thud” in the Chunnel and the Brits happily returning to being a fair-weather ferry boat ride away. Followed by major changes to Britain’s immigration and deportation policies.

      1. I’m pretty sure they would not need energetics to deal with the Chunnel – if it comes to that they can just disable some pumps and open some valves.

        And the continentals should note that the Chunnel works in both directions: If the Brits wanted to make sure of their security while refraining from anything destructive, they could just push a reinforced “immigration control” perimeter through and out the other side, purely as an aid to their neighbors to the south. And possible in light of the crown’s historic claims to the northern France. Who can say.

  12. Mostly OT, but some folks had expressed interest in the latest Oyster Clan business venture, a clothing line that my lovely wife and sister have been thrilled with and started selling. Inventory arrived Monday evening, and it’s all been photographed, recorded, and was posted in an online pop-up sale last night. For those who use the book of faces, you can find the group for their sales here. Those who are in the Utah Valley area are welcome to arrange with them to try stuff on in person, and anyone is welcome to ask any questions about fit, proportions, fabric, etc. If you’re not on FB, shoot me an email and I’ll get you in touch with them to figure out a better channel.
    We’re hoping this does primary-source-of-income well, but even if it just turns enough profit to get us out of debt a little more quickly we’ll be satisfied. Heck, just finding clothes my wife is happy and comfortable in has been worth it.

    1. Thanks! Is there a password (so to speak) that I need to be admitted to the group?

  13. Off topic, but Mrs. Hoyt, I want to thank for the recommendation of the Little World of Don Camillo. I enjoyed reading it, especially Don Camillo’s conversations with Jesus.

  14. Don’t forget Obamacare. A major drag to the economy, increase the stress on already stressed people, keep small companies limited to no more than 49 employees working, or part time workers NTE 29 hours/week. And the medical device tax… make healthcare cheaper by taxing it?

      1. oh, IDK. some of it was designed to fail to enable easier phasing towards an Canukistani style NHS by some smart but power hungry bastages.

        1. The problem is that it’s failing too quickly. People remember the old system fondly and that makes the argument that you shouldn’t entrust fixing the system to the idiots who broke it compelling.

        1. Chuckle Chuckle

          I’ve just finished reading a Chris Nuttall story (to help get it ready for publication).

          Among other things, Chris’s Main Character needed to “Get Back To The Future”.

          IE She had been “pushed” about a thousand years into the past. 😀

  15. “Arguably the stuff the first world sends them is already responsible for economic malformations that makes their best and brightest work for NGOs as chauffeurs instead of working in something useful to their country.”

    Yep, seen it; seeing it.

    1. Growing up the best job path in the Northeast for majority of people is joining the gov. Good pay, able to retire, etc. And they still scream when only a 2% cola

      1. heh,
        “No Cola this year, because things didn’t increase enough”
        “Gas is too high!”
        “Gas prices are not considered a cost of living”
        (next year)
        “No Cola this year, because even though many thing increased in cost, gas has gotten so cheap.”
        “Hey! You said gas didn’t count!”
        “Gas counts when we decide it counts”

        1. For those in the real world. Saying more the teachers complaining over only 2% when I’m lucky to get a pen with company logo on it

          1. sounds like the above was also given to my new coworkers here the past several, but I’ve gotten the 2.1%, 2.3%, and 2.2% these last 3 raises (they sorta “forgot” about it one year).

            1. I am sitting here remembering the olden days, pre-Reagan, when there where something like sixteen tax brackets, so that a 2.5% raise could push you into a higher bracket resulting in lower net pay.

              Ah, good times, good times.

              1. I had that happen, and I wasn’t making a whole lot more than minimum wage. My employer was upset when I balked at working overtime. Because with more than a few hours of overtime, my check was smaller.

                At the time I thought they were treating me like an idiot, pointing at the gross number and telling me no, I was making more money. Since then I’ve worked for sizeable companies whose accounting departments seemed to have problems distinguishing between “gross” and “net.”

                The surprise isn’t that some companies go under, it’s that they last as long as they do.

                Well, the Fed can’t balance its books, I guess it’s unreasonable to expect businesses to be able to…

                1. I’m pretty sure that means that they were applying the tax brackets incorrectly, as the higher rate is only supposed to be applied to the amount over the dividing line, not the entire gross amount.

                  1. It was something that I used to regularly hear about. I don’t know whether it affected the April tax receipts. But I’ve heard plenty of stories about withholding being increased (due to a pay raise) to the point where people had less take home pay in their paychecks.

                    1. I heard it, too. That was when I was working for not much more than minimum, too. But I’ve never seen it actually demonstrated by comparing two paystubs.

                  2. It has to do with the withholding being adjusted for the higher pay rate (as Junior suspected.) Mostly it means you get a bigger tax refund* because they withheld (made interim tax payments) more money than they should have by applying the tables for the higher bracket.

                    The withholding tables are calculated to assume you’re earning at that level throughout the year and will act to “protect” you against having to make an additional tax payment when you file.

                    *Bigger refund = made a larger interest free loan to the government.

              2. Heck, it almost happened to me during Clinton, but that might have been State taxes. I got two raises and never noticed the increase in take-home as it held at the usual level

              3. “You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime
                Is that all you get for your money?”

                From the great sage Billy Joel.

  16. This is probably why I’m trying to get out of my current job at 🔥REDACTED🔥 and move on to where I can either make things or support the makers of things. I get views of our economic condition up close and personal every day at work. Without a sea change we have messy, uncomfortable times truly ahead.

  17. Winter is not total – Again, I don’t believe in total collapses. Can they happen?

    Actually, a coworker and I are trying to figure out what the “black swan probability distribution” looks like. We’d like to add it to the normal distribution that simulates the regular market to improve some of our tools. The insight he had yesterday was we don’t have enough data to model just economic black swans but what if we included all black swans in calculating the distribution: ice ages, earthquakes, the Yellowstone volcano going, SMOD impacts, etc.

    So I am very interested in how often total collapses happen these days.

    1. “…ice ages, earthquakes, the Yellowstone volcano going, SMOD impacts, etc.”

      First contact, alien invasion, major plague (in future restrospect, due to increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance and so on), random assassination of an archduke, butterfly flapping its wings in China, breakthrough technology that makes SSTO dirt cheap…

      Random thoughts, but going back to the original point: what happens if you could *zap!* transport 1 cm cubed of water out of a puddle? The rest of the puddle rushes in, right? I think that’s how total collapses don’t happen. If that makes any sense.

      Seriously oppressive, brutal kleptocrats? I guaran-dang-tee you there’s massive black market stuff going on, for *toilet paper* if nothing else. Tsunami? Someone’s going to help, and somebody else is going to try and make a profit- media, if nobody else. It doesn’t change the fact that the bad things are happening… But things could be worse, otherwise. Human beings are stubborn.

      In a way, the slow slide is worse. You get used to getting on with less. Catastrophe you can weather and build back up from. You can get used to making do, you can even make a virtue of it (as some wise person said recently).

      Have we ever seen a total collapse? In the large scale, I’d say no, but smaller than that, the city fathers of Carthage might have a point to make, as would the Armenian Christians. I don’t think we’re going to get to that point. At least, I hope we don’t get anywhere near that point. If there are localized collapses (Chicago…), but most of the rest of the country muddles through, we’ll be okay.

      That’s the thing, though. Localized collapses mean local factors weigh much heavier than they would on the grand scale. That means a… whole lot more variables. That’s tougher math than my tiny brain wants to comprehend. Actually, I think my math brain took one look, put on its hat and coat, hung up the “CLOSED” sign, and went out for a beer.

      I wish you luck with the modeling. Those edge-of-the-bell-curve events can be slippery. Getting the precision necessary to make accurate predictions has got to be tough.

      1. First contact, alien invasion, major plague (in future restrospect, due to increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance and so on), random assassination of an archduke, butterfly flapping its wings in China, breakthrough technology that makes SSTO dirt cheap…

        Plague is a good one to add. We need items we can assign data points to.

        Believe it or not but while we see the “random assassination of an archduke” as this huge thing political assassination at the time was not rare (and has not been historically). It took the confluence of several Austria-Hungarian ministers having been embarrassed for being too soft in previous crises, the German military’s knowledge that every passing year made the war with France and Russia (seen as inevitable) much less likely to go Germany’s way, and, most of all, the fact that the dead archduke was a personal favorite of the Kaiser. The others existed at other times but the Kaiser wasn’t about to allow general war. He was willing to risk it over a dead friend.

      2. I wish you luck with the modeling. Those edge-of-the-bell-curve events can be slippery. Getting the precision necessary to make accurate predictions has got to be tough.

        Exactly…the market is a normal distribution until Lehman Brothers collapses. We don’t have enough market black swans to build a distribution so we are thinking about a total black swan distribution that would then be added to the observed market normal.

  18. It’s posts like this that force me to get over my homesickness and be grateful that I now live in an area that is a) fairly well removed from the Liberal East Coast and b) used to weathering economic hardships. That said, I’m still not looking forward to Winter.

    I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ve seen what happens when people can’t get luxury items* or non-essential goods*. It is not pretty. And these are well-off, well-“educated” (use of quote marks is deliberate) people. Corporate execs, soccer moms, etc. It was not pretty. Heck, it got downright scary a handful of times. Between that and what you see on the news every Black Friday, the thought of even a “soft” collapse is enough to keep me up at night, to say nothing of the possibility (very real, I think) of the US eventually going full-on Venezuela.

    All I can say at this point is batten down the hatches and buy plenty of lead. Storm’s coming.

    *And yes, deli customers, if there are other alternatives available, your preferred brand/flavor of gourmet ham/turkey or fat-free cheese most definitely qualifies as a luxury item. And if you “starve to death” because we don’t have any in stock, that’ll be because of your own stubbornness, not me being “evil” and “heartless.”

  19. First time posting. I’ve been reading Sarah and her posters for years. Even sharing them. I felt it was time to speak up. Thank you Sarah, you give me hope, and so do all you commenters.

  20. Sometimes a plant needs to be pruned back to nearly-nothing in order for it to experience new growth when Spring returns.

    It helps when proper fertilizer has been applied. A generation of teens are learning to sing the story of Hamilton and America’s Founding. Put out stories providing the minerals and elements to promote strong growth. Sure, a layer of cow manure will also promote growth, but that which is grown in that lacks structural strength and is prone to bern-out.

    1. Er, should have read “Bolton” instead of Ramsey. Dang it, ruined the joke. 😛

  21. The model I see is Venezuela. What happened there?

    There was a semi-corrupt, mediocre democracy. It was displaced by a much more corrupt and truly incompetent leftist regime, which nonetheless stayed in power because they had so much oil money they could patch up the worst failures, they had a clever demagogue fronting, and a lot of people still hated on the old regime.

    This has allowed the regime to run the country completely into the ground. No one thing has ever broken badly enough to discredit them. Even now, with mass starvation imminent, they have a firm grip on power.

    What’s going to happen here? We have a semi-corrupt, mediocre democracy. Our effective rulers have no Chavez, and no class anger, but they have as committed allies the entire media-academic complex. There are no wads of oil money, but there is a very functional and productive industrial economy. The people who do real work keep it all going.

    Our rulers, entrenched in the Deep State and the judiciary, covered by the academy-media, will run this country into the ground. Eventually, everything will be broken. It will be like the Spaniard’s mule. With enough abuse and neglect, it will die. Law-enforcement? The police are giving up, and many are already corrupted by politics. The military is going the same way. (Someday, not too far off, one of the branches of service will be so accommodating to homosexuals that it will become first predominantly, then exclusively gay.) Taxes and destructive “environmental” policies are grinding down the economy. Our culture is vulgarized, and there is active promotion of perversion on a grand scale. The birth rate for people who work and are chaste drops steadily, relative to the birth rate for criminals, sluts, parasites, and lunatics (over 40% bastardy rate).

    But the media-academic complex will mask the problems (and the causes of them) until everything breaks. Like Venezuela.

          1. THIS. There’s a reason 90% of the US is not Latin America, and that remaining 10% still has pockets of “Up yours and leave me alone” inside it. We don’t have a history of Men on White Horses, or a caste system (not all of South America, but some large swaths), or the ooooolllddd Roman/Carthaginian?/Native “rule of men trumps rule of law because the Man is the law” tradition. Among other things.

      1. You misunderstand. Our culture is different, our political and class and economic configurations are different from Venezuela. The parallel I see is that both countries have come under the control of a ruling group with wrong and destructive beliefs. In both cases, that group entrenched itself in power so that its damage went/goes effectively unremarked.

        Chavismo had oil money and Chavez’ charisma to sustain their control. Until now, when they cling to it by mere incumbency – because they finally ruined enough things.

        (BTW, I reject the suggestion that the present situation is “their usual pattern”. The last 15 years have no precedent in Venezuelan history, AFAICT. At no previous time did the country have so much resource revenue, nor did any previous ruler use television broadcasts to establish a personal grip on the masses.)

        Our rulers have very different resources. But as in Venezuela they have achieved effective permanent power (even more than there), while they destroy the fabric of the country. Nothing will shake them until it all falls down from general rot. And not even then, if the fall is slow enough.

  22. Got mildly irritated by a thread elsewhere about pronoun preference.

    Proposed protocol: As a courtesy, it will be referred to as it or thing until it is made clear that it identifies as a person.

  23. Why do I think of Narnia: Always winter and never Christmas. Even they knew that winter couldn’t last forever. No matter how much the White Witch tried to make it so, for the equal benefit of everyone.

    1. I’m still torn between Game of Thrones being a conscious perversion of Lewis and Tolkien on their weak points, or if it is really more Warhammer stripped of humor and self-awareness and then tuned towards “normal” people.
      No desire to watch or read, the basic exposure so far is enough to sicken me; that’s before the Rob Long review that basically complained it had any visible magic/fantasy elements at all because 90% of the time there was nothing.

      1. Based on some things I read in the distant past, I’m pretty confident that the intention is the former. Martin’s trying to add “realism” by making the monsters the constant victors.

        Of course, arguments about realism typically overlook Tolkien’s view that you even if you win, you still can’t fully go home again. That was his point with the Raising of the Shire, which was cut from the movies, of course. Though Jackson did include a rather good speech by Sam to Frodo that more or less made the same point.

        1. The “I do not understand and don’t seem to have even paid a tiny bit of attention to the source material, but let me make it more realistic based on really shallow stereotypes” method?

          1. THIS. Ms. Fox, get out of my head. Or at least, don’t break the chandelier, and stop tracking mud on the floor. Oh, and don’t let the kid touch that cat. It bites.

      2. While reading A Game of Thrones came to the conclusion it was Dallas with swords and sorcery, and never did finish it. Many people like it and more power to them, but I just didn’t care for it.

        1. Nod, when it started, I thought it would be about the “War Against The Ancient Foe Beyond The Wall”.

          Instead, I got a poor imitation of Dallas. 😦

        2. Over on fanfiction dot net, the favorite story pages I follow tend to be choked by Ice and Fire fics. (Right now, they are very low, at about one in ten.) This tells me that it hooks people in, and leaves them wanting what they aren’t getting.

  24. Apropos of nothing in particular and completely OT for this post, but I was preordering Shepherd’s Crown, and I realized that many of the Huns’ political positions were stated by Sir Pterrywith admiral brevity and insight:

    Nae king!
    Nae quin!
    Nae laird!
    Nae master!
    We willna’ be fooled again!

    [[in tears tonight, because this is the last time I get to take a trip with him to the disc]]

    1. I was listening to one of his books on disc one night and wound up laughing so hard I drove a company van 4-wheels-off Interstate 40 at about 0300 one morning. I got pretty sideways at 80mph, steering blind through tears of laughter.

      pterry opened up his mind and showed us what lived there. And a little bit of him will now always be part of me. And a chunk of Western civilization, for that matter.

      Moist looked at the rising ladle, and in the flood of relief various awkward observations scrambled to be heard.

      I’ve been in this job less than a week. The man I really depend on has run away screaming. I’m going to be exposed as a criminal. That’s a sheep’s head…

      And–thank you for the thought, Aimsbury–it’s wearing sunglasses.

      1. Some things are not to be played while driving, PTerry foremost among them. Although abridged, Tony Robinson (Black Adder‘s Baldrick) reads performs the tales in a matter highly unsuitable for safe driving.

        There are a few other writer/reader combinations nearly so risky: David Tenant’s How To Train Your Dragon performances, Lenny Henry’s performance of Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, Michael Bond’s reading of Paddington. The BBC offers “radio theatre” productions of the Black Adder programmes which allow you to enjoy the writing without the distractions of actors hilariously mugging..

        ALL should bear a warning label: Do Not Consume While Driving!

        1. I must and do follow certain rules while driving. 1. Do not talk. 2. Do not listen. 3. Do not think.

        2. Driving and power tools… I only recently discovered Tom Holt, Jasper Fforde, and Christopher Moore.

          I think all three of them must have been dropped on their heads when they were babies, or something…

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