Optimism and Despair

Some time ago some people did a study and decided that people who were mildly depressed had a better grip on their circumstances and chances than those who were optimistic.

Note two things there, the first being MILDLY depressed and the second being THEIR chances and circumstances.  I.e. when you are evaluating your own life, you are, arguably, in possession of more facts than people looking in from the outside.  You know your spouse, children, whoever is around your immediate surroundings, and therefore can relate to what they are likely to do.

I’m often accused of wild optimism in this blog, something I find ALMOST bitterly funny, since a) I’m a depressive by nature (possibly by brain wiring since it runs in my paternal family) and the best, most stable of my states is “mildly depressed.”  When I fall off the horse and become profoundly depressed it’s a whole different ball of wax.  b) I am not telling you there will be pie in the sky by and by, only that we have a long struggle ahead to get this country back on the path of liberty and that since the enemies of individual freedom took a 100 years to bury us, we have to give it as least a good fifty years and work steadily at it without attempting to burn it down after twenty or so, because we didn’t yet get everything we want and our liberty pony TM has hoof rot.

I will confess right up front my bias in this.  I think Americans — natural born Americans, who have never experienced the upheavals the rest of the world has been through — delight in imagining doom is to come upon them any minute.  I’ve seen it on TV and in papers since I moved here. “Economic crash coming any minute” seems to be a thread in our news, a thread that comes up again and again and again.  (And before you say we’re in an economic crash now — not even.  We’re in the economic doldrums.  It is, I think, an unacknowledged depression and pretty severe, but let’s be real, okay?  The structure hasn’t disappeared, children aren’t scrounging for food in garbage bins.  There’s still food on the shelves, and all of us (well, all of me, she says ruefully) could afford to be somewhat leaner.  Now part of what is insulating us is that we have a great wealth of both capital and people.  there’s a great deal of ruin in a country, and more in this one than in the average one.

Because my book to listen to while unpacking is Expanded Universe (A little creepy, really.  Is there any corner of my brain the man didn’t burrow into?  I don’t remember reading this book, it’s not in my regular re-reading rotation and I first read it when I came to the US, so how is it possible that the style and the ideas… are way too close for comfort? But I’m not guilty, yer honor.  I maintain we simply share the same writing bandwidth.  Whatever is beaming the books to the brains of receptive writers has aimed the same beam at both of us.  And I’m not crazy.  Well, not more so than your average writer.) And I got to listen to that same “doom, gloom, the end is coming soon” in quite a few essays.  Now the man had a good reason for it, because he lived through the transition to the atomic bomb, but still…

I think honestly that the idea of a total collapse is an American tall tale, a campfire scary-comforting story, of the sort you tell yourself to appreciate the light of the fire and the warmth of your tent more.  I think it’s all “the world economy will collapse and then the jackalopes will eat us.”

I could be wrong.  I’ve named the circumstances in which I could go wrong.  Major disasters, major attacks on most of the country, that could change our civilization beyond repair, though the amount of damage that would make us regress to early stone age is unbelievable.

But what if the rest of the world goes that way?  The rest of the world will go that way.  Partly because of their own choices, because socialism seemed like such a bright idea.  Partly because of our choices, because socialism is rendering us unable to give them the assistance we have, in keeping the little cocoon of their illusions going.

So, if the world collapses, won’t we? Well, no.  See aftermath of World War II.  We managed.  We muddled along.  We did all right.

But that is not the main point of this essay.  Yesterday I understood the reason so many of you think I’m optimistic, when someone said our trajectory would be exactly the same as Venezuela.

Look, I rolled my eyes so hard SOMEONE needs to find them before the cats play with them.

Americans in a way were ripe to fall for the multiculti lie, i.e. “all cultures are alike, except ours is uniquely bad.”  Not your fault in many ways.  the size of the country, our relative strength, the fact we’re innovators, makes travel abroad more of a luxury and less of a vital interest for most people.  And when most people do travel it is to meet with peers abroad, or to England, which is a whole country of peers.

Comparing our issues to Venezuela is Laugh-Snort inducing to anyone who knows the two countries.  Yes, yes, richest country, blah, blah, blah.

Where it breaks down is the culture.  Like most Latin countries the Venezuelan society is sharply divided between rich and poor and the rich are far more ostentatious than ours, and the poor are UNIMAGINABLY poor, by American standards.  But it goes way beyond that.  If you think we have race problems, you haven’t looked at theirs.  It tangled up their revolution which was not at all like the US one.  Beyond that there is… not so much a culture of manana but this “inexactness” that is a curse of Latin cultures (I’d like to know why, and suspect it came with the moors.  I mean the Romans were fricking engineers and legalistic to the hilt, both of which require exactness.) I joke I spent most of my teen years standing on street corners — reading sf books — because in Portugal “we’ll meet at three” could mean four. Or five. Or six or, in extreme circumstances, seven.  Because I’m an Odd and neurotic I suffered from a fear of being late, so I would manage to be there an hour early and…

There are other cultural quirks, too, some of them cataloged by Heinlein in Tramp Royale.  You CAN work for your money, in a Latin Country, but you’re not supposed to let them see you work.  That class thing.  At the top of the class structure is “old money” who never worked a day for their money and never will.  And that’s the image people aspire to project.

If you don’t see the differences between that and the American cultural mythos; if you don’t understand how they’d lead to very different types of collapse, you might want to ease up on the “doom, gloom, the end is coming soon.”  Because you’re not in possession of all the factors.

Look, I’m not saying it will be easy or simple.  I’m not saying some areas won’t have the devil’s own time.  (You know the areas.  Most of them are having a hell of time now.) I’m not saying that anything will be handed to us.

We’re heading into rough times, when we’ll have to fight hand over hand to keep our freedoms and claw back a little more. BUT if we resist the fatal tendency to give up and burn it all down in a gigantic temper tantrum, we MIGHT yet bring this through.  Our children might not live in freedom, but our grandchildren might.

If this is wild optimism, let it be so.

Sursum Corda.  We’ll get ‘er done.


279 responses to “Optimism and Despair

  1. First Poke!

  2. … people who were mildly depressed had a better grip on their circumstances and chances than those who were optimistic.

    Sigh. I find this mildly depressing.

    • I’d be interested in how they measured both– were they doing the “absolutely nothing bad will happen so I don’t need to prepare for it” meaning of optimistic, the “only if you were the last man on earth/so you’re saying there’s a chance?” optimism, or the “there is always hope” optimism?

      I know that some of my relatives consider me depressing, because I prepare. I’ve got a medical kit in my purse, I’ve got a sewing kit in the car, I have a multitool in my alternate purse with the alternate diaper bag, I’ve got allergy meds in ALL of those places (husband has allergies, and if turned into a paste they’re good for emergency bite treatment), I know AND APPLY tactics in day to day life….

      But when stuff goes bad, I deal with it, and I can because I’ve got that bit of control. Remove that “I prepared at least a bit” and I’m depressive.

      • “I know AND APPLY tactics in day to day life…” What kind of tactics and were can I learn them preferably starting with Wikipedia as I an not allowed to wander the internet.

        • If you have a good used bookstore (or military surplus store) handy, go puruse their section of US Military training manuals.

          Pretty sure that’s where Fox got at least some of those tactics.

          • Look for an older BSA handbook, preferably Eagle Scout and preferably pre-1950.

            • Actually, the 1956 Scout Handbook is very good. Even the modern one is not bad. Just not as much information as the older ones, with more touchy-feeley.

          • Some of the unclassified are available free in PDF from the government. That’s where I got a copy of the rigger’s manual to learn new knots.

        • I don’t do wikipedia.

          Check your library for any basic “how not to be a victim” book– “The gift of fear” is probably your best bet.

          Mine is mostly based off of 1) years of actually listening in the Navy when they’d tell us ways that people were targeted and taken out, and 2) waaaaaay too much RPG thinking.

          Know what’s going on around you, don’t be extremely predicable (ie, driving the exact same route every day, at the same time, taking walks in the exact same order, or even parking in the same spot every day), have an idea of what other people are doing and notice if it’s something odd. Identify good routes for attack and escape; have an idea of what is normal for your area, especially if it looks like it was changed and someone tried to make it look the same for no apparent reason.

          • Feather Blade

            driving the exact same route every day

            I confess, I don’t understand this one. If someone is out to get you, and they (presumably) know where you live and where you work… why would they not hit you at one of the endpoints, rather than while you’re in control of a ton of steel with an accelerator pedal?

            • Because at the end points, you are more likely to be paying a lot of attention– plus it’s under specific control. Your house is under YOUR control, your work is under their control.

              That one intersection where you have to turn and it always takes two bloody lights before you can get through? Nobody is in control there to keep, say, a guy with a bag that happens to have a short sledge in it from sitting there.

              When you’re heading out or heading in, you’re doing something; when you’re just driving… well, how many people here can give details about what happened during their drive yesterday? Unless there was something really odd?
              It’s not unusual to arrive at work, or home, and have zero memory of what you did on the trip.

              • “It’s not unusual to arrive at work, or home, and have zero memory of what you did on the trip. ” Especially when your commute home starts at midnight. I’m pretty sure I stop at the stoplights when they’re red on my commute, but half the time, I’m in the next town thinking “Was the last light red or green?”. not remembering going through the town with traffic lights at all. I’m pretty sure I stop at them for one pretty good reason. My entire route home, all 42 miles, is a speed trap. And police are out looking for drunk drivers between midnight and 0100. And any time I’ve been stopped it’s been for a light out. I didn’t even know non-operating license plate lights was an equipment violation.

                • yep, that’s how they got my son coming home at 3 in the morning, in a truck he’d just bought, but not registered in his name yet, full of trash in the bed, with what “just happened” to be an “empty” beer can on top, which he refused to take a breathalyzer test so they hauled him off to the hospital for a blood test, which, the more I think about it now, I’m not sure whether he passed or failed, but nonetheless he got charged with a DUI, so did he get convicted or end up pleading guilty, because, otherwise, why/how did he get his license suspended, which he was supposed to turn in after court but since he was going to pick up his brother’s friend’s wife’s daughter he didn’t so, just in case something happened on the way, which, of course, it did, got stopped again, he’d have something to show them and hope it wouldn’t show up in the system yet as being suspended, which it didn’t, but then since it was out of county – but not out of state, even though the county name was/is the name of a state – he thought it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t pay it or show up for court there – yea, right – and then he winds up getting caught in a roadblock after all, so…..yea, all over a non-operating license plate light

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  non-operating license plate lights was an equipment violation

                  Off topic, but this reminds me of an episode of “Adam 12” I saw a few years back.

                  For those who never saw the TV Show, “Adam 12” followed two LA(?) policemen on their patrol.

                  In this episode, the policemen were assigned an old patrol car (as in it needed to be worked on).

                  Several times they had to return to “base” as it was giving them trouble.

                  Well, they have just pulled over a driver because the driver’s tail-lights weren’t working.

                  After they decide to “just warn him”, he points out that the tail-lights on their patrol car were out.

                  So they have to return to the repair shop. 😀

            • That’s before things like knowing that someone always takes the back route out of base, and that they’ll stop to check if they see a bicyclist that is laying on the side of the road, and that there’s a spot across the road where you could hide an elephant and not be spotted until you nab them.

            • This is why I don’t like to give a lot of details, by the way– I don’t want to give anybody IDEAS, so I have to go through my memories of TruTV type crime shows for things that have already happened, rather than scenarios we worked out or were tested on. (Form teams. Work out scenarios. Test them on each other. The failure rate is terrifyingly low.)

            • Feather Blade, I an echo what Fox is saying. I notice stuff on my block/neighborhood and especially at work (rural area, limited “not us” traffic). Between here and there? I tend to recall other cars, but I’m still mentally getting over a wreck last fall and tend to be twitchy-in-a-good-way when I drive the route.

          • Might be that this could be a useful example. He uses the Cooper Color code. Google it (most of the rest of this to Camo Neko, I know Foxfier knows the Cooper Colors and suchlike). I know ammoland had a decent write up on it a while back, but if I link it, this will go in moderation, and I am also lazy.

            This situation is a dark parking lot, late, in New Orleans (“Nawlins” to natives). You’re in your car. A woman steps out in front of you as you are pulling out, motioning you to stop…

            A snip:

            “A lot of people bumble around here in Condition White–totally oblivious to what’s going on around them and who is present. This is how victims happen, and no doubt, my two new friends were hoping that this was my state of mind. But they misjudged this time. I’ve been around the block a few times, and I know in particular what goes on in this neighborhood after dark sometimes. I’m not frightened off or dissuaded from coming here, but I do pay attention and take basic precautions, including driving the short distance between my house and this bar instead of just walking it like I’d have done in daylight. I also look at everyone around me and casually assess them, and that’s how I came to see these two.”

            On the book, Gavin DeBecker (guy that wrote the gift of fear) has plenty of good points in there but he’s quite anti-gun, as well. It’s something to keep in mind- along with the fact that this anti-gun fellow is protected by armed guards. The vast majority of the rest of us aren’t. Unless those “armed guards” are friends and family, and if they are, it’d be a good idea to support them effectively.

            Good self defense courses will teach you about awareness in daily life, too. The training is worthwhile, and if you can get it, do so.

            • I figure his anti-gun bias is so painfully irrational that anybody who doesn’t already share it will catch on quickly that it’s a hole in his thinking— and the ones that do share it really, really need the mental adjustments he offers.

              It might even work for the “my gun is a magic I-win button” folks, to start thinking about the gun as a tool.

        • Oh, and don’t be afraid to do something that might look stupid when you have “a bad feeling” and there isn’t actually any harm done by humoring it.

          I avoided being run over by a probably high idiot just three days ago, that way; they were illegally dumping trash on a route I walk, although I only figured that out about twenty minutes later, since I noticed them paying waaaaaay too much attention to me and turned a corner a block early… and decided I wouldn’t be walking on the road, I’d be walking on the far side of cars. And call my husband on the cellphone.
          The idiot still swerved within a few feet of me, close enough to kick and probably would have gone closer if I hadn’t been in the relatively small space between cars.
          From the way the vehicle was still swerving two blocks later when it ran the stop sign and jumped into traffic, I sure wouldn’t trust the “he’s just trying to scare you” effect to prevent harm.

          • It’s been a few years, so I don’t remember the details, in one of the classes they had us take before going overseas the instructors taught about how a USG employee in Pakistan several years ago was killed by terrorists because he did the exact same thing every day. He was an easy target. The other part of the story is that they initially tried to target someone else, but he was too hard to pin down. He would leave at different times, and while he was under observation, would look out his front door, circle his car, go back in, and such, as if he was looking for something.

            He actually was looking for a rat or other rodent that was chewing on something, rather than a terrorist. OK, not much difference between rodent at terrorist, but he wasn’t looking for the human kind, at least not intentionally.

          • Oh, and don’t be afraid to do something that might look stupid when you have “a bad feeling” and there isn’t actually any harm done by humoring it.

            THIS. This cannot be overstated.

            This saved me from a car accident once. I was driving along the highway, and glanced over at the car to my right, who was going the same speed as me. I saw that the driver was a young man, and that he was driving, not with two hands on the wheel, but with one hand draped over the TOP of the wheel, so that his wrist was the only part in contact with the steering wheel. I formed a snap judgment, “This guy is a careless driver, and I don’t want to be in his blind spot,” and took my foot off the gas pedal to drop back some 2-3 car lengths.

            About 1/4 mile later, it turned out that there was some construction work going on, and the lane to my right was ending (big barrier with prominent sign closing off the lane). I saw Mr. Careless Driver’s car go right up to the sign, then whip over into the lane to his left (the lane I was in). Did he check his blind spot before pulling that maneuver? I don’t think so: I think he noticed the big barrier and prominent sign in just enough time to get out of the way — but that if I had still been on his left (remember, we were both going the same speed), he would have crashed right into me.

            • Reality Observer

              I don’t care that the light is green, or the cross street has a stop or yield sign; I always look both ways on approaching an intersection. Saved me three times from a T-bone. Always running the “scan” front, rear, and whichever side mirrors are applicable. And once got chewed out at a County required “defensive driving” session when asked “how far should you look ahead.” I don’t recall the “right” answer, because I said “as far as you can see.” Still do. (That has saved not my life, but a heck of a lot of time, especially on freeways…)

              • I remain deeply confused by your instructor complaining — are you also the one who got yelled at for saying to check your mirrors every three seconds? Because I’m pretty sure both of those came standard in the driving instruction I received.

                • Reality Observer

                  I don’t remember answering the “scanning” question – or being annoyed by whatever standard they set for that – so that was probably OK. The other was supposedly some “y” distance for “x” speed.

                  And all I got was hammered by the instructor, which didn’t bother me in the least. Stupid County requirement to “certify” employees to use County vehicles – yeah, right, only the big shots ever got to do that. No test at the end, you just had to sit through the session (while the real work piled up…).

                  (Remember, though, I’m in the SW deserts – where “as far as you can see” is quite a ways…)

                  • Must’ve been somebody else.

                    I suppose that’s a point. Scanning as far as you can see still doesn’t seem like a bad idea but I suppose I can see a case for paying closer attention to things that are, er, closer. We’ve got hills and curves and “as far as you can see” is generally limited well shy of the horizon, here.

                  • I think that when I took defensive driving back in the ’80s (to be able to drive motor pool cars) they told us to scan 12 seconds ahead. Everything was seconds–2 second following distance (for cars, in good weather), 12 second scanning, so the speed was already factored in. Count the seconds between the time that the vehicle ahead of you passes an object and your front bumper gets to it; it should be at least two seconds.

          • And I guess I should have been paying more attention as I was walking across the space between the grocery store and the parking lot; I mean, I saw the big truck in the parking lot aisle at the what do you call it, the “active alley” end, meaning where I was, sort of, except I wasn’t in front of an aisle, but it was at the space, on the parking lot side, between it and the store, but I guess I either figured I’d make it across or she’d see me – that was the dumb part, I guess – because either she pulled out really quick or I was really slow because before I’d hardly gotten any ways much across the space there she was right on me, so much so that I believe if I hadn’t seen her then and moved out of her way, I would have been run over

        • Have you ever heard the saying, “walk softly, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet”?

          More useful is to assume everyone you meet follows that advice (obviously not the “walk softly” part) and be thinking about how to avoid the second part. In short, be a hard target. The vast majority of crimes are committed against “targets of opportunity”, avoid being one.

    • OTOH, I’m going “See? See?”

    • As Minnie Bannister used to say, “We’ll all be murdered in our beds!”

    • It’s the power of negative thinking.
      If you always expect the worst, all your surprises will be pleasant ones.

    • so i should translate this to mean that my assessment of “I suck and will never get anywhere” is correct?

  3. Frank Ch. Eigler

    “[…] “old money” who never worked a day for their money and never will. And that’s the image people aspire to project. If you don’t see the differences between that and the American cultural mythos[…]”

    I believe the concern is that there is no longer a single American cultural mythos. Sure, there’s the “work is proper and good” one that we hope is in sufficient majority. But there’s also the “everyone wins a prize” and the “you are owed $stuff for free” and the “you’re oppressed by rich whitey” mythos that comes from schools & popular media. That’s not harmless, and it’s not an insignificant minority.

    • I have to offer a correction. Those are cultural mythoi that are present in America. They are NOT American cultural mythoi.

      Which is why we have to continue to push the (only) American cultural mythos, because we’re slipping further and further towards having a land that is called America, but isn’t truly America.

      • I have to agree with Robin here. The American (USAIAN?) mythos is the ideal of the founding Fathers that all are created equal (albeit there is some severe cognitive dissonance in the practice). Their effective goal was equality of opportunity. They knew that chance played a part, but they felt that effort and determination would win out.

        The “you are oppressed by and they owe you” mythos is straight out of the communist manifesto. It comes not from an acknowledgement of equality but of implied intrinsic inequality. They’re saying “you poor disadvantaged proles will never succeed so we enlightened ones will help you”.

        Sadly as Mr Eigler points out that can do spirit and sheer guts that culminated in the greatest generation America has been tossed out the window for this elitist twaddle.

        • ”How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
          And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a
          Forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence
          impoverished, in squalor
          Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”

          Sometimes the right questions come from the most unexpected quarters … or, in this instance, tenners.

  4. BobtheRegisterredFool

    The gloom I grew up around was mostly the influence of one man. He had seen some rough times, and had some ugly experiences. He didn’t tell me about his own worst experiences; he did talk about other things, but only what he could joke about. He was very into joking.

    I think the immigration that formed this nation erased a lot of the preceding sense of history. I think this makes the horrible things in our own history stand out more. I suspect that sitting with friends quietly discussing how horrible the future may be is a way of coping with the history, and the contrast with the official writ, whatever that writ is.

    Long term, the question is whether the youngsters have picked up the American instincts through culture, or if they only have ideology to navigate by. Nobody knows.

  5. You need to factor into your projection that the US is led by malevolent actors actively trying to destroy the foundations and structure of Western society.

    • And that the people of the US have a long and proud tradition of ignoring their “leaders” benevolent and wise dictats, determining through observation the actual state of reality, and working under and around ‘betters’-imposed roadblocks to accomplish what needs doing.

      And don’t assume the indoctrination efforts of the past decades have been all that successful. Kids know how to present as what they need to in order to pass, and reserve their inner thoughts to themselves. Sure, some internalize whatever they are taught, but a lot do not.

      • Young people have been voting for Democrats for decades, which leads to recurring predictions of the GOP’s demise. What those predictions fail to take into account is that those young people grow up, get jobs, start families, see how much the government takes out of their paychecks, and start voting Republican. The same thing with immigrants, which is why the Democrats can never allow immigration reform.

        • Why young Democrats become middle-aged Republicans.

          Reality gets you in the end.

          • kenashimame

            No. 2 son only had to have two paychecks before shifting from leaning (small L) libertarian to actually being a (small L) libertarian.

        • The Other Sean

          Except many of those young people aren’t getting jobs these days, or at least not good, steady ones. Between the tax and regulatory environment stunting job growth, the “study what you like” push at college resulting in unqualified graduates with crushing debt burdens, the state of public secondary education for those who’ve not gone to college, and cultural factors in certain geo-socio-economic groups, many young adults are not getting the job experience. OMG, they may become Demonrats for life!

          • I think another major factor is that the self-esteem generation is still trying to follow their passion – a major theme behind Sanders’ run was college students upset that they can’t get paid doing what they want to do. Eventually most of them will get desperate enough to take any paying gig even if it isn’t Chief Puppetry Officer at an organic GMO-free shade-grown carbon-neutral NGO. Then the process of becoming a Republican, AKA growing up, begins.

          • The other thing that can seriously change folk is children. Realizing you are utterly responsible for another human life can be a game changer. But again the youngest of the generations is delaying that precisely because they don’t have the income to have a home etc due to a limited need for lefthanded modernist basket weavers this week (or year, or century). I think the tendency to out of wedlock children is a bad sign as it means folks AREN’T taking that responsibility seriousaly and thats an ill omen indeed.

    • yeah? EVERY country in the world is right now. The US is still better than most. Good enough to annoy all the others. There is time to turn the ship around. Do it.

      • Sure. Just have to shoot the pirates out of the wheelhouse first, because they ain’t leaving because you ask nicely. Never have. Never will.

  6. I spent most of my teen years standing on street corners

    Not an image I need.

  7. Expanded Universe is a distillation of Heinlein’s thoughts and thus represents the skeletal structure for his worldbuilding — even had you never read it before it would feel familiar, because you have seen so many of those components used in his novels and stories.

  8. sanfordbegley

    I think, Icould be wrong, that our cultural mythos is Horatio Alger. Luck and Pluck will allow you to rise in the world. Well it was, the youngsters seem to think that beimng more easily offended than thou will allow you to rise in the world

    • Those youngsters are just mimicing the same Boomer idiots I had as teachers, and from what I hear they are mimicking the teacher types that did everything they could to avoid fighting the Nazis.

      Don’t mistake “loud” for “truly numerous,” and remember that we’re all learning the tactic of saying things so they’ll be listened to– so when you’re actually fighting the users, you’ll phrase it by their rules, even if you don’t believe it a bit, because they can’t fight it as well.

    • You’re being fooled by a very small, EXTREMELY vocal minority and the fact that all youngsters mimic the accepted social mode of the society. Don’t give up on the kids yet.

      • Back in the late-Sixties, if you believed the press coverage, all the kids were protestin’ the War and celebrating a Summer of Love.

        Except actual demographic analysis reveals that a majority served in the military without protest and stayed on ther jobs rather than going to Woodstock.

        Even now, if you believe the MSM the TEA Party protests were misanthropic fests of a few racists while the Wall Street Occupiers were the voice of the oppressed masses, yearning to be free.

        Objects in the Media’s Mirror may be smaller than they appear.

        • “Objects in the Media’s Mirror may be smaller than they appear.”

          And it’s one of those distorting fun house mirrors, as well.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        I am cautiously proud of my Kid, who has a good head on her shoulders and seems to come by her opinions rationally instead of “this is what my parents say”. Then again, I wound up accidentally giving her a capitalism-vs-communism rundown at the tender age of, um, four, so she’s not necessarily a representative sample.

  9. And I’m not crazy. Well, not more so than your average writer.

    We just expect more crazy from you… why settle for average?

  10. Wild optimism would be “everything will be fine! We don’ gotta do anything!” It would be like hoping for a king to come and make it all better. Now Ted Cruz was my candidate, and I liked most of what he said he’d do, but I never for a moment thought it would be easy. It would be.. wildly unlikely for things to just turn out in our favor. Without a good bit of blood sweat and tears spent to make it so, it won’t ever be.

    The things we want for ourselves and our children *will* have opposition, even if conservative fervor sweeps the nation tomorrow. Circumstances won’t always, or even often, be in our favor. There will be setbacks. Some will stumble. Some will fall.

    Pick yourselves back up. Wipe off the blood, set your hand to the plow, and get back to work. Have a beer at the end of the day. Laugh a little with friends. Hug your spouse, play with your kids. Get up again the next day and do it all over again. But have a goal in mind.

    No, not “rule the world.” None of us really want the headache. The big goal is individual liberty, and justice- not social, racial, or anything else- for all. The little goals are local. Get the county to spend a little less. Maybe don’t let the councilmen send money to this silly cause or that- pave the roads, pay the policemen, keep the ambulances running. Pay attention to what your elected servants do. Make sure they represent *you,* if you voted for them. Work to get better ones in office if they start to lose sight of what they ought to be doing.

    It’s not wild optimism to say “things could be worse.” We’re not Venezuela. We’re not Greece. We’re not even England (and a part of me wants to add, “we’re not left handed,” but some of us are, Princess Bride references aside). Some things *will* get worse before they get better. That’s not optimistic at all.

    The good part is were Americans. We can do this. Sure, we have our missteps here and there. But that’s part of being American. You can fail. And try again. We’re adaptable, intelligent, and cussed stubborn, the lot of us. Don’t let your head get stuck on “doom. DOOM, I tell you!” It’s not just a classic fps from Id software, it’s a trap. It’s a fantasy that ain’t gonna happen.

    Work hard, recreate with verve, sleep the sleep of the just. We’ll get through this. It won’t be easy- but it *will* be worthwhile. The things that really matter always are- difficult, but worth it, in the end.

    • Tornado season. Everyone knows that there will be tornadoes in North America every year between late February and November. Everyone knows that certain parts of the US (and Canada) are more likely to have one. So those of us living in that area know what to expect, prepare as best we can, prepare to help out if one hits near us, and still make plans for outdoor activities and trips. Yeah, we’ll get twitchy on still, humid afternoons when the western sky turns greenish blue-black, but we won’t panic. Not until we discover that “that f($^#&* twister hit my favorite BBQ place!” But that’s not panic, that’s just p-ssed.

      • It floods every year in NY. Although where it’s going to flood is pure guesswork. A few years back working for a national big box , we talked the plumbing department head into ordering a large number of sump pumps, ahead of time, for just that reason. Bean counters at HQ cancelled the order. Reason? Well, it flooded last year where we were, but we don’t want to be stuck with an over inventory of pumps. WE explained that while it may not flood HERE, exactly, it will flood somewhere nearby, and if WE have the pumps, we can transfer them faster then the manufacturer can get them to where they’re needed. 3 days after receiving a huge shipment, we put them all on a truck to travel 90 miles to the store in the town that had the flooding. Where they all sold in one day.

        Today, computerized inventory systems do not allow that, and bean counters won’t override them. Just in time inventory means surge demand shortages.

        Planning for disaster requires inventory. Inventory costs. Lowest prices don’t correlate with largest in stock items. If you’ve been paying attention, you will have noted over the last few years that end of season sales have less merchandise each year. Especially for big ticket low profit margin items.

        • And of course the politicians call it “price gouging” if the pricing mechanism is used to help supply meet demand.

    • Without a good bit of blood sweat and tears spent to make it so, it won’t ever be.

      Our opponents have a tactical advantage over us — they aren’t trying to build, just to control what others build. They’re like the rectum in the old joke about the body parts’ argument over which should be in charge.

      Our efforts are contra-entropic: it takes about all we can do to construct and maintain a civilization based on inalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Our opponents, OTOH, are parasitic; they’re barnacles on our ship of state. They don’t worry about it all collapsing, just so long as they fall last.

      This is not to say that we just cannae do it, we dinnae have the power. Just that it requires all the power we can muster to keep pushing forward through the much they’ve spread about.

      • Dang! Really clever (for certain low values of clever) argument hung in moderation because I overlooked the two-link minimum.

        I don’ do nothin’ moderate.

      • *chuckle* Our opponents as barnacles on the ship of state? Well Prince RES, that shoe fits. I’ll just set the metaphor blender over here, now…

        The thing that strikes me is, they’re not any more monolithic than we are. There’s the young democrats, many of who grow up to flip political sides when more than a quarter of their paycheck starts disappearing down the greedy, gargantuan maw of government. The zombie metal fans, headbanging and nodding to the beat of “freeee stuuuuuff, maaaaaan.” The “all my friends say so” folks who just don’t think about it, they’ve got soccer practice and groceries to get and bills to pay, and diapers to change. The snotty kind that do it for the status, a step up from “my friends” libs, who really do hold, oh, *many* wholly contradictory ideas in their heads at the same time. Then the ones who aren’t just useful idiots, ones who have gone completely through the ideology and come out the other side as amoral opportunists, using the trappings of politics to secure temporal power and physical rewards (now say that with a Scottish accent, laddie). Our own Ambulatory Mollusc’s reason for his itchy feet revealed, what with such new neighbors moving in. Darn it, there goes the metaphorical blender again…

        The ones at the end aren’t up for grabs, they aren’t democrats, liberals, progressives, or socialists (really) they’re just there for the power. The others? Those are the hearts and minds we can reach. Those are people not too different from us, caring people with jobs and families and, well, stuff to do that’s quite often a lot better than worrying over politics all the time.

        What’s it going to take to pull off the blinders and allow them to see? To see the flaws of *both* parties, not just the dhimmicrats. I’m hoping the answer isn’t nuclear war or loss of cities. More likely it’s a long game. Like Sarah says, teach the children well. But be a good example, too, I would argue.

        That’s self discipline and a good moral code. I don’t much care if it comes from religion- any religion- or not. Maybe teach a little history when we get the chance- yes, our nation *really was* founded as a republic, not a democracy.

        One last thing I will add -our opponents *did* build- in education, in bureaucracies, in the media… But their flaws are showing. The things they’ve touched, they’re rotting from the inside (lookin’ at you, Gawker Media). Given enough time, barnacles will build upon each other, too. Best we get out the chisels, patch up the leaks, and tighten up the rigging while we can. A storm comes. We shall meet it on our feet, we Odds, we Americans. That’s what we do.

    • I have one problem with that; why would we want the roads paved?

      • Only some of them. There are spots in Tennessee and Georgia where, if it rains a bit, the red clay will swallow whole cars with nary a burp. Also, the gals in the family have this peculiar predilection for wearing high heels. High heels and dirt don’t mix too well.

        • Pave’s easier to plow if you need to get EMS-type things through. For some reason HumVee Ambulances have yet to catch on, at least around here. And I happen to like paved runways for jets and some prop-planes.

          • I don’t know, I would kind of like to try plowing a paved drive some time, but have never had a problem plowing my gravel driveway. Even if I do have to watch it the first couple snows, until it freezes up good and solid, otherwise if I’m not careful I will be plowing some of my gravel off. The county certainly plows plenty of gravel roads here locally without any noticeable problem.

            On the other hand I totally agree with you on the runways.

      • The Other Sean

        Because driving through clouds of dust gets old fast – and not sinking into the road after it rains is nice.

        • If you aren’t outrunning the dust, you’re driving too slow. And rock generally keeps one from sinking out of sight.

      • Wrong question. The proper question is: with what should we want our roads paved?

        Some like turf, others opt for gravel, many prefer macadam. I vote for the skulls of our enemies.

  11. One of the reasons I enjoy coming here is your awareness that, while things are bad, they can still recover and get better. I live in California, and I’m not ready to give up on it. Why would I want to give up on the country, which is in better shape than my home state?

    One of my other frequent hang-out blogs is Ace of Spades HQ. And as much as I enjoy the posts and a lot of the comments, the constant drum beat from the ‘Burn it Down’ types that frequently post there drives me nuts.

  12. Just a comment about culture:

    Unfortunately, we’ve long had those in the US who gravitate toward a class system. It goes back at least as far as the Revolutionary War, and maybe before, It’s milder that other places, maybe because the typical American response involves the person that invoked it and the horse he rode it on. It’s still there, though, and the very ones “eat up with it” tend to be the ones who think they can dictate their will on others.

    So it was, when I showed someone a reproduction of a 19th Century map, I was asked “What are you doing with it?” Not quite the right class, you know. Not surprisingly, the rest involved in that undertaking said “To your tents, Israel,” and left that clique with it. And the clique never figured out why it folded

    They never do.

    • In fairness, this nation was founded as a republic rather than a democracy because certain of the Founders (and boy, are we foundering now!) recognized that “the will of the people” and “the madness of crowds” were often indistinguishable. Their solution was a system designed to put persons of demonstrated prudence and judgement at the controls … and (attempt) to install governors to prevent the few imprudent officials driving us into the ditch.

      It is remarkable that the system has held together for so long with so little in the way of maintenance and repair and we have several states demonstrating that there is value in the old system in spite of the damage done over the last century. Reclamation is rough work, but rebuilding from the ashes up only works for the phoenix, and he’s as common as unicorns.

    • I have a nagging suspicion 90% of the BID crowd spent the last eight years drinking beer and watching The Apprentice, and didn’t do squat in the last two elections.

      • A.B. Prosper

        The reason some of the BID crowd aren’t doing politics is that a few years ago they went big time for the Teas Party or on the Left Occupy Wall Street and nothing useful came of it.

        They tend to see the system as run by the unelected bureaucrats, untouchable judges the deep state and the monied interests and no longer feel anything can be changed except by collapse and/or force.

        Also there are a lot of people who want very different things in do not belong in the same polity whatsoever. The political system here is very complex and downright chaotic and there are many ideological opinions with little middle ground

        Thus there is no good solution but as Claire Wolfe wrote 20 years ago

        “It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.”

        So people let it ride.

  13. I’m not crazy either, although if Stavros George Zolnerovich doesn’t quit rolling his eyes and acting like he knows it all, I may have some nasty Slavic spirit strangle him. I can see why his older siblings get impatient with the kid.

    • You’d be a PITA if you had a moniker like that hung you, to.

      • He should be glad no one decided to give him an Asian Indian name, since that’s where mom’s originally from. “Your original heritage” and all that . . . stuff.

  14. Well, I don’t think you’re “wildly” optimistic. Just optimistic. 🙂

    Where I think these analogous comparisons fall apart is in the implication that the US is a monoculture, at least, anywhere near as much as Venezuela. I agree that we’re nowhere near their level yet.

    The American “cultural mythos” is on life support and the Left has already made the funeral arrangements. Our culture has changed on several levels, structurally, intentionally by the Left. And this problem isn’t going to go away in the next election cycle, the next decade, or even the next half century – because the Borg Left never sleeps. It’s baked into the ideological cake. The only thing that will make it stop is an actual collapse. Can you imagine the Leftist agitators and their masters suddenly waking up one day and realizing they got it all wrong and even taking a timeout nap? I see very little evidence to support the idea that any sort of American cultural mythos is dominant anymore.

    The argument that Americans don’t know despair or true doom and gloom is also not very persuasive. Within living memory you have the Depression and Dustbowl days, survivors of which (I know from my own family who weathered it all) grew up with tales of their elders regarding the disaster and carnage of the Civil War and its aftermath. Nor does this view account for the abject squalor I’ve personally witnessed Americans living in in the Rural South or some major American cities.

    All of that said, I’m not even mildly depressed about it. As much as I despise the phrase – It Is What It Is. While I don’t support the idea of burning it down (and I don’t think most people who talk about things burning down do), it’s going to burn anyway on this trajectory. Some people want to try and prevent it; some people just want to let it.

    Anyway, thanks for being a continuing source of optimism for me to slake my parched outlook.

    • “The argument that Americans don’t know despair or true doom and gloom is also not very persuasive. Within living memory you have the Depression and Dustbowl days, survivors of which (I know from my own family who weathered it all) grew up with tales of their elders regarding the disaster and carnage of the Civil War and its aftermath. Nor does this view account for the abject squalor I’ve personally witnessed Americans living in in the Rural South or some major American cities.”

      But that’s just proving Sarah’s point. You think the aftermath of the Civil War was bad? Look at what the Thirty Years War left behind. The fall of the Roman Empire wiped out centuries of accumulated wealth. Compared to that the Great Depression was a mild correction. And of course today’s tensions don’t hold a candle to what we saw in the 1960’s, much less the 1850’s.

      It’s not going to burn down. At least not most of it. A few parts will seize up and catch fire – in some cases literally – but the overwhelming number of people don’t want to see them and theirs burn, so the fires will be quickly contained and extinguished. Most people can figure out what the need and how to get it, even if they would prefer that the Big Man handle all that icky thinking for them.

      • “But that’s just proving Sarah’s point. You think the aftermath of the Civil War was bad? Look at what the Thirty Years War left behind. The fall of the Roman Empire wiped out centuries of accumulated wealth. Compared to that the Great Depression was a mild correction. And of course today’s tensions don’t hold a candle to what we saw in the 1960’s, much less the 1850’s.”

        I don’t think comparisons to Ancient Rome are valid here. One-upsmanship on suffering doesn’t invalidate the previous example. A large part of our current domestic and cultural problems stem from the Civil War.

        My point was simply to illustrate how many Americans alive today are well-acquainted with real suffering, and I think the examples I provided are strong. I think it runs contrary to Sarah’s point.

        Are our tensions today less than even the 60s? I’m not convinced. We’ve been having extremely large, violent, and destructive riots for years now (OWS, BLM, and now Anti-Trump. But this time they are condoned, aided and abetted by their political leaders and elected officials.

        It’s not going to burn? The residents of Ferguson and the Leftist agitators who struck that match might beg to differ.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Yeah, they are trying put section 8 housing in the majority of places that they are currently unable to burn. Yeah, Trump or Clinton may do the prep work pushing gun control through the supreme court. It is not clear that escalating it to that point will work out in their favor. It is not clear that the rest of us won’t be able to shut things back down quickly once they escalate to that breaking point.

          The idjits stand a good chance of not having the fighting power, and Russia is less plausible as a way to supply the deficit than the USSR was.

          I’m not saying it’ll be nothing, I’m saying a lot of the possibilities are indeterminate.

          • “I’m not saying it’ll be nothing, I’m saying a lot of the possibilities are indeterminate.”

            Agreed. There is no reliable way to predict exactly what will happen, which is why people who say for certain that it’s not going to burn aren’t exactly looking at things from a historical perspective.

            I personally hope it’s not going to burn, but when I look at the literal (not to mention figurative) fires of domestic unrest in the US and Europe today, it’s hard to disbelieve my lyin’ eyes.

            • It’s not going to burn. Not all over. And Detroit has been burning how long? How much do you notice it?
              Look, I AM looking at it from historical perspective. Most of the “it’s going to burn” are looking at it from a SCIENCE FICTION perspective.

              • “It’s not going to burn. Not all over. And Detroit has been burning how long? How much do you notice it? Look, I AM looking at it from historical perspective. Most of the “it’s going to burn” are looking at it from a SCIENCE FICTION perspective.”

                I don’t think most people who fear it burning are looking at it any differently than you are here. Talk of burning is both metaphorical and literal. At least from what I’ve seen when you drill down into most “burning” arguments.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  History and science fiction do not have the same narratives about what happens after ‘it burns’.

                  Historically, we know a lot about slave revolts, and certain kinds of revolutions. Check out Crane Brinton’s Anatomy of Revolution.

                  In fiction, what happens tends to follow a template heavily influenced by Marx. Evil government, plucky young rebels, revolution, happily ever after. It doesn’t cover that civil wars are uncertain things, or how one holds onto power afterwords. Historically, some very nasty people have won civil wars, and managed to hold on to power throughout the following civil wars.

                  The soviets didn’t need a plausible or true explanation. They were not in the revolution business, they were in the invasion-under-the-cover-of-revolutionary-civil-war business. Their need was for gullible fools useful for disguising their activities as internally motivated.

                  • eh, it tends to be more on the American Revolution lines. Notice that it seldom rewrites society that much.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      It’s possible I may be reading far too much into the fact that the stuff often isn’t written by people with Kratman’s background in use of force.

                      Maybe I’m oversampling popcorn books, and maybe I shouldn’t count video games.

                      Yeah, there are a fair amount of old good government -> newer evil government -> plot and characters -> reversion to old good government.

                      I still say there are an awful lot of stories which, say, jump from rag tag band of freaks to entirely new government.

                      The soviets really did promote a bunch of very stupid ideas about revolutions. Like the theory of immiseration. That if you actively made things worse for people, they would hate the government and let you take over. This is the intellectual justification for random bombings in marketplaces.

        • “I think the examples I provided are strong.”

          They really aren’t. At least not compared to historical events. They only seem bad because the US has had a rather charmed history. You’re obviously missing the point, not refuting it.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Occupy Wallstreet was an attempt to astroturf The Revolution. It failed, because people are happy, hate mass murder, aren’t stupid, and have better things to do.

            Black Lives Matter is also mostly contrived rent-a-mob. They aren’t a zit on the ass of the racist vigilante mobs of a hundred years ago that they otherwise closely resemble. Tulsa in 1921 was thirty to three hundred dead. Elaine, Arkansas in 1919 had a massacre with a hundred dead. I’m not familiar with the details of the Saint Louis race riots. Obama may have popularized white supremacism more than Wilson, but he is much less effective at the direct action end.

            As for the last, that was purely incited by the Mexican flag. If we do to the Mexican flag what was done to the Confederate, the Mexican flag will be forced to quit, and we will no longer have political violence. 🙂

            • OWS also failed because someone thought that somehow we wouldn’t notice the job ads on Craigslist, even thought the major news services were not reporting on them.

            • Bob, Black Lives Matter is what you call the tip of the iceberg; for anyone who cares to look, incited / condoned / normalized racial violence is both common and systematically underreported by both the media and law enforcement in urban areas of this country. It’s been going on for a while, and has really exploded the last 8 years. See this book, White Girl Bleed A Lot, and Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry, just chock full of examples fully documented with videos.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                The insane racist thinking behind #BLM was too virulent to have been isolated. It wasn’t likely that such never bled into otherwise pure killings for wealth, status, thrills, and large organized criminal activities.

                The big #BLM set piece protests such as Ferguson and Baltimore couldn’t afford any killings, or else their political utility would’ve been heavily or entirely compromised.

                That said, since Obama played such a significant role also in promoting the individual killings, I think I must retract my statement about Obama being less effective at direct action.

          • “They really aren’t. At least not compared to historical events. They only seem bad because the US has had a rather charmed history. You’re obviously missing the point, not refuting it.”

            The point was that Americans don’t know suffering. I pointed out rather obvious examples of Americans I’ve personally known and observed who have. Have all Americans? There is plenty of documentary and historical evidence evidence to prove this to the point of it being common knowledge.

            Let’s agree to disagree.

            • Edit to my previous, “Have all Americans?” I intended to answer “No, but enough have.”

            • “The point was that Americans don’t know suffering.”

              No, it wasn’t. Re-read and try again.

              • “No, it wasn’t. Re-read and try again.”

                Re-read, no need to try again, or repeat myself.

                As I already said: let’s agree to disagree and move on.

                • There is no agree to disagree, you missed the point. The author of the piece in question has said so herself. This is not a matter of opinion. You. Are. Wrong.

                  • “There is no agree to disagree, you missed the point. The author of the piece in question has said so herself. This is not a matter of opinion. You. Are. Wrong.”

                    The author made a claim (The US hasn’t experienced the cultural upheavals the rest of the world has) that I think is countered by well-known historical examples. I stated those examples. In addition to that which has happened in living memory (The Civil Rights movement and the Great Depression), we’re still dealing with the lingering effects of slavery, which no first world country practiced later than the US.

                    And so your responses have been simple contrarianism and obstinance and the remarkable assertion that the US had a “charmed history”. The fact alone that hundreds of thousands of human beings were legally enslaved in this country should rubbish such a claim.

                    Ultimately, it wasn’t even a major point of contention, so you can continue on if you’d like, but I’m done.

          • The dispossessed in the grapes of wrath had a pickup. I rest my age, yer honor.

        • It ought be noted that there is ample evidence of coordination of effort between Liberal professors and rioters (for example) and government bureaucrats and activist groups (notably the EPA funding suits against themselves to force the EPA to take actions for which they lacked legislative authority.)

          The biggest distinction between present unrest and prior eras might be the diminution of public adherence to such concepts as Honor and Integrity.

          • We have done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth,
            We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung,
            And the measure of our torment is the measure of our youth.
            God help us, for we knew the worst too young!

          • “It ought be noted that there is ample evidence of coordination of effort between Liberal professors and rioters (for example) and government bureaucrats and activist groups (notably the EPA funding suits against themselves to force the EPA to take actions for which they lacked legislative authority.)”

            The extent and brazenness of collusion show the depth of the rot. I often hear that this is a tiny minority. Accepting this debatable conclusion, so what? This tiny minority is imposing its will at all levels of our society.

            I see signs that today’s madness may have awakened a sleeping giant, but I fear the giant that’s been rampaging across the countryside is bigger.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Extent and brazenness?

              1. Look at Steve Renfroe. People let the Democrats get away with blatant political murders, because they wanted to believe that Lincoln was a Tyrant.
              2. Woodrow Wilson. I don’t know what story his supporters told themselves, but he killed a hundred people in one massacre, and pretty much stamped out the German language in America. (Yes Dr. Loss, except for the Pennsylvania Dutchmen.)
              3. FDR. Packing the supreme court was very brazen. As for widespread, it doesn’t get much more widespread.

              • Ever wonder how Jim Crow came about?

                How The Only Coup D’Etat In U.S. History Unfolded
                Southern Democrats lost their grip on power in North Carolina in 1894 and plotted to wrest control from the biracial Republican Party in 1898 elections. They campaigned on a platform of white supremacy and protecting their women from black men.

                As the Nov. 8, 1898, vote approached, whites in Wilmington mobilized. They held supremacist rallies and parades and organized militias of “Red Shirts” to intimidate blacks from voting. The statewide election restored Democrats to power, and two days later, the white supremacists descended on Wilmington’s City Hall.

                Their leader, Col. Alfred Moore Waddell, had publicly threatened in a pre-election speech to “choke the current of the Cape Fear River” with black bodies, according to a 2006 report chronicling the events by the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission. After the coup, Waddell was elected mayor of Wilmington.

                North Carolina Democrats began passing a flurry of Jim Crow laws in 1899, and new voting restrictions further disenfranchised blacks through a poll tax and literacy test.

                Note the URL source: NPR

                Unless Google has tweaked their algorithms again, search on “Wilmington Race Riot of 1898”

                Or check Wiki:

                Between 1890 and 1910, ten of the eleven former Confederate states, starting with Mississippi, passed new constitutions or amendments that effectively disenfranchised most blacks and tens of thousands of poor whites through a combination of poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests, and residency and record-keeping requirements. Grandfather clauses temporarily permitted some illiterate whites to vote but gave no relief to most blacks.
                The cumulative effect in North Carolina meant that black voters were completely eliminated from voter rolls during the period from 1896–1904. The growth of their thriving middle class was slowed. In North Carolina and other Southern states, there were also the effects of invisibility: “[W]ithin a decade of disfranchisement, the white supremacy campaign had erased the image of the black middle class from the minds of white North Carolinians.”

                Or heck, look into the history of the Democrats’ militant arm, the Ku Klux Klan. Swapping white hoods for black lives does not alter the methodology.

                Look into the record of the Wilson administration.

                To think things now are bad requires an ignorance of History I cannot drink enough to achieve.

              • “Extent and brazenness?”

                I hope you don’t think I’m making an argument that worse things haven’t happened in the past. It was actually in my opening comment. I’m not making any argument about equivalencies here.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  I listed three examples that I thought might match or exceed what you mentioned in extent and brazenness.

                  • No worries, I just wanted to make sure you knew where I was coming from. I was getting the feeling from yours and RES’s comment that perhaps I was giving the wrong impression. 🙂

                  • No worries, I just wanted to clarify my point since I was getting the feeling of giving the wrong impression. Thanks.

  15. Americans tell tales of impending civilizational collapse for the same reason Germans told grim stories about what happened to kids who wandered into the woods and the Dutch told about collapsing dikes: as a lesson to children on the need for constant alertness against certain dangers.

    By always preparing for imminent economic catastrophe Americans help preclude such events and help reduce their duration. It is the nature of economies that they cycle through booms and busts. Government efforts to interfere with such cycles merely increase the amplitudes by slowing the frequency — and exacerbate the harm because the greater intervals allow the unwary to imagine the sine will never again recurve.

    Apply the logic of urban legendry to the question of America’s obsession with TEOTWAWKI and its import should become clear.

    • “Hey, Y2K happened and pretty much nothing happened! It wasn’t any big deal!”

      Yeah, because an awful lot of people made damn sure it wasn’t a big deal. And if some of that patched ancient code lives on in 2049, some patches will have to be undone to avoid a Y2.5K “bug.” But… people will work on that and then.. almost nothing will happen. Again.

      • Frank Ch. Eigler

        perhaps we can call that a “self-cancelling prophecy”

        • That’s how they’re supposed to work!

          Okay, not all of them. Not the “This is Fate” style, Greek or Norse or probably various ones I’m not familiar with, and not the ones to establish credentials as a prophet. But there are warning ones, too, of the form “Bad things will happen if you keep on this way,” and those you can head off.

          • *uses a combat knife to carve NO FATE into the picnic table

            • The Other Sean

              Is this before or after wandering across a field of geothermal features, spray painting rock formations, and putting a bison calf in your vehicle? 😛

      • Friends of mine made a ton of money upgrading all that COBOL code behind all the business applications to make sure it could handle four-digit years. Enough to retire and do the Full-Time-RVing thing for many years until it paled, then buy a big ol’ house outside Austin, Texas. All of it funded by COBOL work at consultant rates in the late 90’s.

        And yeah, the fix there was very straightforward, and vastly well publicized, enough so everyone knew they needed to hire my friend to do the fix on their systems.

        When a coding black swan hits, we won’t be that lucky, and based on the code I’ve seen in the last 15 years, and the lack of unexpected error handling capability therein, that one will be pretty bad.

        • I do wonder how much “big” systems could benefit from some embedded system philosophy: It has to work, even if it fails stupidly, that should either fail in a very obvious way, or “reboot” into a start-up state so things can go on. But I recall fighting like mad to get 1 (count it, ONE) lousy byte for something… and getting asked why I didn’t just allocate another meg or three. Because the hardware had a grand total of 64 bytes to use – and that was simply unimaginable, so it just couldn’t actually be the case, now could it?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Nod, the Big Thing about the Y2K thing was that everybody involved in actual coding and program design knew about the potential problems years before it became an “Issue To Be Fixed”.

          The “Problem” was that non Data Processing Management weren’t “worried” until the last minute.

          Y2K was a “foreseen” problem, the dangerous problems are ones that are harder to foresee.

          Oh, I found the “Y2K Scares” by the News Media to be badly overblown.

        • A friend of mine made a fair living fixing medical billing software in the early 1980s. Back then hospitals were just starting to go computerized, usually with mainframes or superminis, with vertical-market “solutions” that were based on custom(ized) software packages.

          The specific problem he made a business out of addressing, which none of the “solution providers” seemed interested in providing a solution for, concerned recording the age of the patient. The hospitals often realized there were problems when their software kept insisting on sending senior citizens to neonatal specialists and pediatricians.

          Some software wrapped the age field over at 100, which made sense on various systems that didn’t use 8-bit bytes or ASCII. So you’d get someone who was 101 and the computer would insist that they were 01 years old.

          Like Roedy said, “There are a lot of people over 100, and most of them are in hospitals.”

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            A few years ago, I saw some apartment ads for $100-$200 per month rents.

            Since I knew what I was paying and saw that those apartments were “high-class” ones, it was obvious that the “ad software” couldn’t handle 4-digit monthly rents. 👿 👿 👿 👿

            • Reality Observer

              If we ever have real hyper-inflation – just about every POS system in the country will just plain crash. Good thing I have a wheelbarrow…

          • Back in the early 1980s, I worked for an organization that collected statistics for the entire American paper industry, including production by individual machine. The machines are big — I mean, as large as a city block — and remain in production a long time. The data base had been created years earlier, with a two-digit field to store the year a machine first came on line. As the eighties progressed, the programs that used the data base could no longer distinguish between brand new machines and machines that had been in use for a century.

      • The Interesting thing about American History is that TEOTWAWKI has always been an everyday occurrence. We believe in the future and both celebrate and castigate it as it unfolds before us.

        A future containing unlimited possibilities requires free enterprise. The top down, planned, perfect socialist future is based upon perfecting the now by disallowing invention and creative destruction. We must revitalize constitutional federalism and slay the leviathan regulatory state.

      • And yet, the headline of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune read “January 1, 1900” on Y2K day. Maybe as a practical joke, but still . . .

        • For the Red Star Tribune, it could as easily have been wishful thinking.

        • Sorry, Banner, not headline. But I ‘spect you know what I meant.

        • Interestingly I remember reading that most of the Y2K problems manifested not on January 1st of 2000 but February 29th (because 1900 was not a leap year). I’ll admit to being somewhat skeptical of those stories, given that I’m not sure why the old coders would have inserted “00” leap-year rules into their code since the whole reason Y2K existed was they assumed no one would still be using it when 2000 rolled around. Regardless, though, I’ve always liked the idea for the theme that the obvious flashy problem may not be the place where you get into serious trouble…

      • Randy Wilde

        Y2K hasn’t happened yet. Since a K in computers is 1024, Y2K will be in 2048.

      • “Hey, Y2K happened and pretty much nothing happened! It wasn’t any big deal!”

        Yeah, because an awful lot of people made damn sure it wasn’t a big deal.

        And also because by December, 1999, it was lousy with rumors and opportunism to the point of panic in some circles. The coding issue was legitimate. No question. But by December, 1999, at least one plug-in surge suppressor company had slapped “Y2K Ready” on the box. Some software companies decided to sunset older versions, such as one bundled package we used, rather than certify it was Y2K ready. No problem there, but vendors seized on this to push massive hardware and software sales for products that didn’t give two cents about the date. Such as one who finally admitted what wasn’t Y2K certified was the older terminal program bundled with one version of the software.

        It got so bad that we had one third party who was anxious that vehicles wouldn’t work on January 1, 2000, because of vehicle electronic ignition systems, even though the date wasn’t an issue in them. Was irritated and worse mood than usual when that one came up, but kept it to “We’ll drive tractors.” From that point I’d say “We don’t discuss that for security issues” or something like that.

        We all had to work that night, just in case. Looked at each other a few hours, lights stayed on, we checked some equipment and software, and went home.

        The legitimate Y2K concerns were an issue, and it would have been a horrible mess if code wasn’t patched. But a lot of what people associate when they say Y2K didn’t happen comes from things they thought were Y2K problems but never were to begin with. Like that Y2K ready surge suppressor.

        • “It got so bad that we had one third party who was anxious that vehicles wouldn’t work on January 1, 2000, because of vehicle electronic ignition systems, even though the date wasn’t an issue in them.”

          They were worried that when they started the car it would think that it was 1900 and disappear in a poof of logic because cars hadn’t been invented yet.

          • I think because I am, but my car thinks not, therefore it is not?

            Sigh – I miss Howard Schoenfeld, even though his politics were asinine.

          • This is why I ❤ you guys.

          • It might have been as late as the 1980’s, but at least as late as the 1970’s I read one comment that at least in the horse-and-buggy days the horse had an idea of self-preservation and thus if the driver fell asleep the intelligence level didn’t drop all the way to zero.

  16. Aye, it took time to get from “We choose to go to the moon, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” to “We can’t do that”/”You didn’t build that.”

    Speaking of Princess Bride references, this quotation seems to sum up the America I heard about in my childhood (and want back, dadgummit!): Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.

    Yeah, a country full of recalcitrant stubborn cusses who won’t take “impossible” for an answer. Maybe it is, maybe it ain’t, but even attempting the truly impossible can get useful results. Not the expected ones, but still useful. And every once in a while some stubborn cuss out-stubborns nature or whatever (as we mis-understood it) and gives forth a hearty, “So there!” And then, suddenly, it was obvious all along.

  17. During the depression when things got really tight the adult males went to work for the CCC or took off on the bum while the wives and kids went to live with cousins on the family farm. There are precious few family farms left today, certainly far too few to support and feed a massive urban population.
    And too, so much of what we consume on a daily basis originates off shore. Let that influx of goods halt and we’ll see immediate shortages of the strangest things. At least until Americans recreate the infrastructure to make those products locally.
    Stone age regression, not likely.
    Massive changes to individual lifestyles, most certainly.
    Whether for better or worse is the burning question.

    • kenashimame

      It wasn’t just Adult males; it was often older adolescent males and even females who would take to the road to relieve the burden of providing for them off their parents.

    • On entering each small Southern town, my Dad would ask the local Law if he could sleep in the cells for chores, and if anybody else needed some work done before he left town. That’s how you survived, on the bum at age 13. Neither a problem for the Man nor meat for the jungle.

      He told me of a meeting encounter with an older black man on a narrow puncheon log walkway. The elder stepped off into the sucking mud with a cheerful “Good morning sah!”. Fourth generation warfare at its finest.

      Truth or teaching tale, that was my quantum of White Privilege.

  18. > Partly because of their own choices, because
    > socialism seemed like such a bright idea.

    Partly because “government by popularity contest” inevitably becomes a race to the bottom as the enfranchised realize they can vote themselves bread and circuses.

  19. Re Venezuela/Latin world and their class divisions, as I was reading today’s epistle it struck me that the basic attitude of all of us ‘Murkins is kinda sorta similar of the upper classes in other places, except we don’t mind being seen working. Eric Flint’s 1632-verse explores this in a time travel venue, with the downtimers observing that the uptimer Americans all carried themselves like the nobility.

    So if there were a collapse in the modern US, say due to a SMOD-jr event hitting North America or somesuch, I’d expect something of a diaspora among the survivors who didn’t want to deal with the chaos, and all of those haughty loud Americans would have to slot in somewhere when some landed in these class-sensitive places. Would they slot in as minor-upper-class, or into the mostly non-existent middle class but without the required deference to their local “betters”, or what?

    Maybe those here who are expats now or know expats in latin countries, or those like Sarah with family contacts there can chime in on this, but I wonder if the locals would very much like the change that a flood of rich crazy Americans would impose on their sandboxes.

  20. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Ding dong the Gawker’s dead. The Gawker’s dead. The wicked Gawker is dead!

    • Free-range Oyster

      You know, this would be the time for some liberty-minded folks with deep-ish pockets to take Glenn Reynolds’s advice and buy up some of Gawker’s brands and rebuild them. Yeah, the company is crap, but some of those brands started out good, and most of them have serious name-recognition. Unfortunately, while I know people who know people for most things, something on that scale is outside the finances of anyone in my network.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I wonder if Moe Lane could still be persuaded to help rebuild such an organization.

        • Free-range Oyster

          I don’t think his lifestyle would allow for running such an outfit, but I’d hire Moe in a heartbeat to write for one. If he could handle it, I’d love to put him as managing editor over an RPG division*. He’s good people, and I’m pretty sure he’d love the chance to get paid regularly to geek out in public. I mean his articles for PJM have been good, if a little shallow due to the general audience target, but I’ve seen a little of what he can do when he really digs his teeth in, and it’s excellent.

          * Reviewing or producing

    • New development in the case?

      • Gawker files for bankruptcy
        The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing came just minutes after Florida Judge Pamela Campbell said Hogan could start slapping liens on Gawker’s property as part of his effort to secure his $140 million jury verdict against the company.


        Initial bankruptcy filings show that the website has between 200 and 1,000 creditors, $50 million to $100 million in assets, and $100 million to $500 million in liabilities.


        Ziff Davis, owner of PC Mag, has already put in a bid for between $90 million and $100 million to buy Gawker, according to a source. Proceeds from any sale of Gawker would be put into escrow pending the site’s appeal of the Hogan verdict, the source said.

        If Gawker wins the appeal it will recoup the sale money, otherwise the funds will be handed over to Hogan.

        Gawker’s largest creditor is the WWE champ, followed by the law firm Morrison Cohen LLP, to which it owes $115,000 in legal fees.

  21. Sara, I think your “gradual decline” scenario assumes transfer payments – welfare and retirement – will continue to be made. What happens if they’re not? In the olden days, families would take care of each other (Granny minded the toddlers while working-age kids and adults did chores or labor – think The Waltons). But in huge swaths of this nation today, the entire family from Granny on down has no savings, no larder, it is completely dependent on Other People’s Money. If EBT quit working, I fear looters would clean out Wal-Mart and three days later, hungry people would start eyeing their neighbors, then the suburbs, then rural America where everybody has a gun and knows how to use it. You don’t share my fear so I ask you: where did my reasoning go wrong?

    • Those mobs of looters don’t maintain cohesion well when travel is involved, especially travel on foot. They can be expected to primarily turn on themselves before they spread very far.

      The real threat are those who use the cover of the chaos to establish their own fiefdoms within the host society.

      • And anything that happens won’t be everywhere at once – look at Libya, in the middle of the ongoing Hillary-chaos, the ex-capital still is better off than out in the boonies. Somalia-bad is the mental model, but even there, look at the two rump states that have sprung up on the north coast of Somalia – even in a place where the central government failed completely, everywhere is not Mogadishu.

        One of the open source intel blogs I read (NightWatch) notes today that “…collapse [of governmental authority] is centripetal and recovery is centrifugal.” “Collapse is always center-seeking, centripetal. Anti-government movements seek to supplant the government in its center of power. Thus instability starts on a periphery and moves inward towards the center.”

        “Recovery always moves outward from the center towards the periphery. A healthy government seeks to recover the territory it ceded when it was weak. Movement is from the center to the peripheries. It is centrifugal.”

    • I think you’re missing the fraud angle.

      Just because someone swears left right and sideways that they fit whatever is required to get the money doesn’t mean it is so; heck, look at notoriously honest Japan and notice how often they find out that Granny is still getting money years after she died, usually because they went to give the new Eldest Member of the Community an award. 😀

      • You’d be hard put to find the evidence today, but they actually did an inventory (census) of old people just for that reason, after a few well publicized cases. Turns out the Japanese really probably don’t live longer then us on the average.

        It’s actually a good idea to not believe any government statistics outside of British descended nations. And now, not even them. For example, U.S. unemployment stats. Unemployment going down while number of employed is going down is counterfactual…

        • We just need to kill the U-3 number, or at least relegate it to a double-lettered appendix in the employment report.

          • well, it *was* an appendix until they needed to show how low unemployment was under clinton…

    • Sigh. No, it doesn’t, at least not at current levels. Don’t underestimate the ability of people to adapt. Payments in Portugal are down to half what they were, and I bet you they’re poorer than Americans. No revolt, no looters. Oh, sure, they’ll burn their neighborhoods, here, they always do. BUT that’s it. Remember dependent and taught dependence means no real revolt, just a massive temper tantrum.
      Eyeing the suburbs then Rural America? Gosh, do you think they can plan? Or walk/drive more than maybe a few blocks? You people are projecting yourselves.
      What they’ll do is what they’re doing in Venezuela. Cry for the cameras and demand more money.

  22. We’ve sold a lot of copies of “Patriots,” by James Wesley, Rawles (his spelling, with comma) so when one of the sequels, events happening simultaneously with the other novels in series, came in I decided to read it. The advertising says it’s about a total economic collapse that leaves at least half of the US population dead. But about 2/3 of the way through, narrator casually mentions the influenza pandemic that killed most of the population of the US East coast states. I gather he found a total back to near stone-age economic collapse unconvincing, and so tossed the killer flu in.

  23. Christopher M. Chupik

    “I think it’s all “the world economy will collapse and then the jackalopes will eat us.”

    Jackalopes. I should have known.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Hey! Jackalopes are Good Eatings!

      (When you can find them.) 👿

      • Don’t bother with chupacabra, though. Not unless you like meat that’s stringy and with an ammonia aftertaste.

        • That’s why you brine it in lemon juice (to neutralize the ammonia) overnight then soak it in several changes of water (to draw out the resulting salts). After that is it pretty good BBQ’ed.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Sadly, jackalopes were hunted to extinction by owners of roadside attractions.

        • The Other Sean

          While they’re extinct in the wild, I think they’re secretly bred in captivity by some of those roadside attraction owners. What else could explain their fresh stock of stuffed jacakalopes? 😉

  24. I think “The Collapse” is already upon us. The last beautiful, fine, pre-collapse day is far in the distant past. Yet despair not, the end isn’t “nigh”, put your signs away, the sky is decidedly not falling. Our collapse is more akin to a giant blob of chilled molasses than a dropped glass on the kitchen tile. If something doesn’t change America, the nation, will get there eventually, but my guess would be that nobody yet born will live to see the ultimate end. Perhaps, our grand-children’s grand-children will see it. Perhaps it is further away than even that.

    The good news? Such a slow thing can surely be turned around. America, as a nation has proven itself to be very resilient. We have a lot to be optimistic about.

    The BAD news? Trump? Clinton? Really America? THAT is who you come up with? The two major parties are rotting from the inside while the people are easily distracted by which bathroom a small percent of a percent of Americans are using, and waiting for the Federal government to come tell us all how to feel about it.

    Yep, we have a lot to be pessimistic about also.

    • Oh, this is just us getting drunk because the rate of progress scares us. the last two elections and the next one is America slamming cheap jello shots. We’ll get better. BUT DAMN the hangover is gonna hurt.

      • The pre-hangover hurts already. Maybe I should get together with Steve Green to drunk blog election night.

        • I am already expecting, and even hoping, to work election night if for no other reason than it will reduce the likelihood of excessive ethanol intake. I can do without “talking to Ralph on the big white phone” and headaches so nasty that individual long-wave photons make an infernal racket.

    • Riddle me this: how can two candidates with the highest unfavourability ratings be the two prime candidates?

      • It is (in part) a consequence of a highly divided electorate. It is highly improbable that any standard bearers for either party would have unfavorables under 35% and very likely they would have been in excess of 40%.

        Is it likely that Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders Joe Biden would have significantly better favorability scores? Is there anybody (Rick Perry? Scott Walker? John Kasich?) on the Right that wouldn’t have been smeared by the Democrats and MSM (But I Repeat Myself)? The remarkable thing is that all their efforts to make Hillary look like a silk purse have achieved no greater likability.

        • Joe Biden would been a strong candidate.

          • Well, yes, with the media covering for his gaffes he campaigns well – he’s a very personable dude, and debates well (see the VP debate agains Ryan), but per his long time Senate colleagues he would basically be a real life President Chauncey Gardiner.

            • … with the media covering for his gaffes he campaigns well – he’s a very personable dude, and debates well

              His debating ability being greatly enhanced by the absence of any sort of fact-checking by the media.

              … he would basically be a real life President Chauncey Gardiner

              That looks an appalling improvement over the two party nominations we do have. [Move “appalling” to whichever portion of the sentence suits your perception]

              • The Other Sean

                I’d say using “appalling” as a modifier before several words in that sentence would be appropriate. [sigh]

        • The Dems had a lock in for the Dowager Empress all along. Bernie is irrelevant.

          On the R side the issue is more the impact of those negatives on the decision by other candidates to stay in the race – the YUUUGE field of competitors split the votes of the owners of those negatives, while the non-negative trad-R voters, added to the R-side Trump fanboys, gave him in the win over and over again with only a plurality in most states. The opinionators kept saying over and over that majority in each primary didn’t vote for The Donald, but the R-side party structure didn’t issue any “get the heck out” directives until far too late (I’m betting they finally told Jeb to exit stage left or else to get him to leave in spite of his pile o’ fundraising, and even when Cruz was their only hope, they could not hold enough party discipline to get Boehner to shut up).

          And now that they’ve squandered those other-than-Trump majorities in all those states, they get to deal with The Donald with all those delegates. As long as they don;t pull a Whig out of their hat and kill the party at eth convention, they have a chance to ride this out. I must say it could not happen to a more deserving bunch.

          But then comes the general election, and Trump was never the strongest of the bunch up against The Dowager Empress of Chappaqua. Hopefully he can pull it off and preserve us from two or more Hillary supreme court appointments.

          I believe the Republic is strong enough to survive either Trump or The Cursing Lamp Thrower, but how bloody that survival will be, and how “interesting” the interval ahead, is very different depending on who wins in 5 months time.

          • After the election I will likely be giving St. Jude a lot of business, even more than I do now.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            In fairness to the moderate Republicans, the obvious grounds to exclude Trump would be that anyone who voted for Obama, much less gave him money, is unfit for public office. That would’ve hurt the chances of picking up Obama voters, which even I thought was important at the time.

            • To get Trump to lose fair and square was the objective, not to block him by a trick of the rules.

              If the R hierarchy had exercised some discipline and made cuts, whittling down to, say, two or three non-Donald candidates early on (early here being after maybe the second debate), one would have been able to grab the ring and knock Trump out. Even if they just limited the debate roster to the top four by votes for the third and later debates, that might have done it.

              But they couldn’t do that and keep JEB! in the race, and as a result they got Trump.

              • The GOP establishment’s decision to back Jeb Bush will be remembered as one of the most important and stupid blunders ever made by a political group.

        • Vakko was off at a “Mythical Garden” for a while this weekend. He told visitors he was there representing the 2016 US election as “No matter who you vote for, you’re going to get,” and here is where he’d point to his… equinity… “a horse’s rear end.” Nobody disputed the statement.

      • Welcome to the exciting community of those obsessed by voting methods.

  25. I joke I spent most of my teen years standing on street corners — reading sf books — because in Portugal “we’ll meet at three” could mean four. Or five. Or six or, in extreme circumstances, seven. Because I’m an Odd and neurotic I suffered from a fear of being late, so I would manage to be there an hour early and…

    When I was a trainee in Finland with a group of trainees from many other countries, including the lovely Claudia from Brazil, we has “Claudia time” which was an hour ahead of the time for everyone else because we were sick of waiting in Helsinki railway station for an hour for her to show up. Essentially we all agreed that we told everyone else we were meeting at 7 but told Claudia it was 6.

    It worked wonderfully until the day that Claudia showed up on time and wonder where the **** everyone else was for an hour

    • kenashimame

      If you’ve ever played in the Society for Creative Anachronisms, or one of it’s spinoffs, you’ll be familiar with MST: Medieval Standard Time. Any event will begin no sooner than half an hour after it’s posted start time.

    • My wife makes it to work on time, usually. But being on time for anything else was a big problem for her. It caused a fair amount of “marital dysfunction” early in our marriage.

      It finally came down to time to leave to go on vacation. I’d loaded my luggage in the car the night before. She got up about ten minutes before we were supposed to leave. I tapped on the bathroom door and told her I was leaving on time. She said, “you won’t go without me!”

      Nine minutes later I drove off without her. When I returned a week later she had been through the entire cycle of anger, tears, etc. And, for the most part, she has been on time ever since.

    • Mormon standard time. Ten minutes after the hour.

    • My community consists of two towns, and for some reason, the people from one town, but not the other, are consistently 10 minutes late. Not the same people over the years, either. We refer to it as (Insert name of town) Standard Time, 10 minutes behind the rest of the world. I suspect there are a lot of areas where this is more common then not.

      Being a somewhat rural community, the kids often refer to it as being 10 years behind the rest of the world, but that’s another story.

  26. I’m reminded of the news headlines in Disney films: “Catastrophe Beckons, as Crisis Looms”.

    I might not have gotten that exactly, but it’s a headline that always works. 😉

    • It helps if you keep in mind that the MSM is in the business of selling “newspapers” and, short of “JAPAN SURRENDERS” you don’t sell as many papers with good news as with bad.

      There was a good marketing reason for Gawker to focus on the types of items it did. Headlines are the Media’s way of pushing you to demand: Tell us more!

      There’s also money to be made selling a saviour, especially one who promises to strengthen the market for their product.

  27. Reality Observer

    I’m mildly depressive – so I’m generally happier than most people these days. Because I don’t EXPECT so much.

    In 2008, I looked at the situation – and knew we were in for a rough next four years (more or less rough, depending).

    In 2012, I looked at it again – and figure the same thing.

    In 2016, same, same…

    In 2020? We could have the reincarnated ghost of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson – and we’re still going to be in for a rough next four years.

    But – it is not irreversible. No, like Sarah, I don’t think I’m going to see it reversed myself. It is almost certainly going to get worse before it gets any better at all. How far, I don’t know, but I have speculations.

    Humans are humans, though. Foolish, cruel, frequently both at the same time. But also innovative and stubborn and generous and glorious… Learn something about history, and you realize that there are cycles. Learn quite a bit about history, and you realize that every cycle is different – and the “up” cycles nearly always have a higher “peak” than their predecessors.

    (E.g., all too many people have this thing about comparing the US to the peak of the Roman Republic. Around here, I don’t think I need to explain just what a nasty place the Republic was for the typical “citizen” – or that it was still a far, far better place than, say, Egypt under the “great” Pharaohs.)

    • It’s like reading Peruvian activists extolling the glories of Inca socialism. Sure, if you were among the ruling elite, male, and healthy and young. I’m not so certain the other tribal groups though being conquered and folded into a state where someone from outside marched in and claimed the right to everything you owned in exchange for giving you what you needed, even if it might keep you from starving, maybe, in theory, was so hot. (Not saying Pizarro and those who came after him were so great, either.)

      • Then, there was that whole “Everything is owned by the dead…” thing.

        The Inca were probably due for an epic collapse in a few years, anyway, even if the Conquistador types hadn’t shown up. The economic insanity of the whole thing was bound to catch up with them–It was just that the plagues and the Spanish showed up first.

  28. Since reading this post yesterday morning, something has been bothering me. Epiphany struck in the night, and I realized what it is:

    Idiots doing study Sarah mentions in first paragraph are idiots, and have confused “cause” with “effect”.

    See, the thing is not that depressives have a more realistic view of the world and their place in it, it is instead that having a more realistic view of the world and your place in it leads to mild depression.

    Follow-on corollary being that most optimists and other such-like delusionals are happier precisely because they fail to comprehend reality and their role therein.

    As the opening line to Kipling’s “If” goes, when properly paraphrased by the cynical…

    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs…”
    , then you’ve probably failed to properly apprehend the gravity of the situation you’re in, while everyone else has a very good idea of how thoroughly f****d you really are.

    Of course, this doesn’t take into account how often it is that such situations are often only fixed by the blithely optimistic types who dive in and deal with things, only to shudder with horror after the fact and they’ve been correctly informed about the insane risks they were taking. There’s this story I’ve been told about a fertilizer factory fire that was put out by a passing volunteer firefighter, who thought that everyone running away from the building were simply craven. When the department chief showed up, and chewed his ass, the retroactive horror at what he’d done nearly resulted in said junior firefighter passing out…

    • TINS: down south of here, some repair work was being done in a grain elevator that involved a grinder and other potentially spark-throwing stuff. Now keep in mind, grain dust is very prone to going “BOOMMM!!” when sparks are around. Also, this place has a natural-gas powered heater and grain drier.

      Assistant manager (friend of mine) was walking through and workman calls, “Hey, come take a look at this!” The man pointed to tiny blue flames dancing along a crack in the cement floor. “Ain’t that neat!” He thought it was just the coolest thing. My associate managed not to run screaming in terror. Instead he said, “Dang, you’re right, that is pretty neat. Tell you what, why don’t y’all knock off for a while, since it’s already [time].” Workmen go one way, associate goes straight to the office, tells everyone to knock off for the next little while and go away but do NOT turn any switches on or off, calls the gas company and the fire department, and gets out of the building. Once everything had been turned off, vented, and the problem solved, he sat in his truck and shook for about half an hour.

      • Grain elevator explosions used to be common enough that most civil and mechanical engineering textbooks devoted an entire section to the subject. Sawmills sometimes had similar problems.

        • Was taught in Navy “A” school in 1973 that dust explosions were more common then oil and gas explosions. Was the section on air compressors, which create ideal conditions for either.

        • Still do, the sawmill fifteen miles down the road exploded last year, and I recall being in grade school and my dad coming home from the mill one day early, after having watched a guy burned to death after opening a door and introducing oxygen to a smoldering sawdust fire.

      • As Winston Churchill said “Nothing in life is quite as exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”
        That even counts for dodging metaphorical bullets. 😉

  29. Currently enjoying re-reading A Few Good Men and looking forward to rereading Through Fire, so I get worried when I hear about health problems here – I would like to see a regular stream of steadily improving books appearing on Baen for decades. As an SF writer you have unusual resources – both your own intelligence and knowledge and your ability to draw on professional contacts and knowledgeable fans. Have you considered applying these to improving your diet and exercise? Even if this didn’t improve your writing by improving your health, recent personal experience of being essentially an athlete in training might inform your books.

    • Turns out it’s a bit more than diet and exercise, which I’ve been minding for years. It seems to be hypothyroidism of an unusual kind. We’re working on it.

  30. BobtheRegisterredFool

    The end is nigh. I am regularly constipated.


  31. This life isn’t everything; and the USA has been an unusual oasis of safety for believers. That may be changing; but it’s all good…

    Hebrews 10:32-39 (ESV)

    But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,

    “Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
    but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
    my soul has no pleasure in him.”

    But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

  32. BobtheRegisterredFool

    In fairness, there may be more than one person named Omar Mateen.

    • Anonymous Coward

      Oh yeah … Omar Mateen the Mennonite.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Otherwise that he still had the those ‘trust of law enforcement’ sounding licenses after allegedly making terroristic threats sounds quite damning.

        • Yeah, I guess in FL your Guard Card is not endangered until after the third FBI investigation is opened on you.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            allegedly making terroristic threats

            The last I heard, the shooter was under investigation for contacts with terrorist groups not for making terrorist threats.

            I wonder what kind of harassment lawsuits would have been filed against the FBI if he was denied a firearms license just because he was under suspicion.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool



              This guy apparently was working for a Homeland Security contractor. I once heard that Nation of Islam had gotten an airport security contract in the Bay area. (IIRC, my source is one that has issues, which gives me reservations about how accurate that claim is.) Which might make Orlando the same order of stupidity.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Unfortunately, the more I learn about him, the more I think there was a massive screw-up caused by PC nonsense.

                In a sane world, he’d been fired or worse.

                • Nonsense — in a “sane” world we would not have to impose PC values in order to rebut Islamophobia, Transphobia, Homophobia and the like. It is only because we inhabit an insane world that such PC restrictions must be imposed.

            • “I wonder what kind of harassment lawsuits would have been filed against the FBI if he was denied a firearms license just because he was under suspicion.”

              Uh, isn’t that exactly what the D party is actively pushing for with the “no guns if you’re on the no fly list” bill? Except you don’t even have to be suspected of anything to be on that list?

              • It would certainly be a convenient way for terrorists to check whether they’re on the No-Fly list. “What? I cant get approval to buy a gun? Lousy damn country!”

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            To be charitable, if revoking the card could alert someone to an investigation, one might hold off if one wanted to investigate in the future.

            That said the only way someone will believe it wasn’t PC run amok is if they are PC, or if they are very precise and analytical, and have reviewed all the evidence. Most of said evidence is likely to be closely held by the government, either to avoid further compromising counter-terrorism or for CYA.

    • The Other Sean

      Just remember, guns don’t kill people, Islamic terrorists kill people.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I’m honestly torn between a denial it was terrorism that parodies #BlackLivesMatter, and one that claims it was kinky sex, and that law enforcement involvement was purely homophobic.

  33. You realise you are making the case FOR banning mass (as opposed to individual, closely vetted) immigration from Latin countries even if we can get the problem that EVERY public institution is wired against assimilation fixed, yes? As well as the case that said fix isn’t happening any time soon?

    Because cultural capital?

    You are weirdly making D. Trump appealing (on the immigration axis) which thus far none of my pro-Trump friends have managed (I’m still a Never Dilma)