The Finger of Blame

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m getting really tired of the crazy.

I mean, look, I’m aware that none of my characters is exactly sane.  I am aware that none of my worlds is exactly rational.  That’s because reality isn’t.

But when my countrymen take a plunge into crazyville, I start getting worried.  Oh, no, I’m not worried the country will be set on fire.  Also, I’m not worried that — in compliance with the dictates of some Hollywood celebrities — there will be a revolution.  Let’s face it, if Hollywood celebrities succeed in getting some kind of action it will be twitter action, and #revolutionnow is about as far as it will go, which will have as much effect as #bringbackourgirls, and count for exactly nothing.

No, I’m worried about our international image and also, to be honest about our more ignorant, backwards, incapable of thought co-citizens — in other words, those indoctrinated in the most prestigious universities in the country — because both foreigners and glitteratti seem to be blissfully unaware of a) reality b) that they’ve been spun and c) about the SIZE of our magnificent beast of a country.

And both of them might be led by the displays of… idiocy to believe that we’re weak and it’s a great time to attack.  In both cases they’ll end up hurt.  And I’m afraid of what that will do to the rest of us, too.  I mean it’s not just that we might pull something from laughing so hard.  It’s also that foreigners, specially if they attack by stealth or terrorism, will get casualties.  And the innocent and misguided among us might unleash that same backlash they’re convinced is coming and which, as far as I can tell, there is no chance of as of right now.  OTOH if they do something sufficiently heinous to unleash it, our society will never be the same.

So, I’m here to offer some perspective:

1- our country is fricking enormous.  NO ONE in Europe gets just how big, and neither does, apparently, our coastal elite.

Yeah, sure, some people have been called “racist” names, and there have been “racist” spray paint incidents…

This is me, rolling my eyes so hard that the cats are chasing them through the floor.

Holy insanity, batman.  Is it not written “The assholes, you shall always have with you?”  I can tell you there have always been “racist” incidents somewhere in this great country.  Because, yeah, not all of our co-citizens or even the marvelously diverse foreigners living among us, legally or not, are angels of virtue.  In fact, few are.

There have always been assholes shouting things at people who look different, and depending on the neighborhood, trust me, the “different” can be any color of the rainbow, up to and including blond.

Being, depending on what I’ve dyed my hair that month and how straight it is, a sort of racial chameleon, I have been called every racial thing in the book over the last 30 years.  I was also once called a sodomite and followed two blocks by a crazy preacher ranting at us, while walking in snow with my friend Charles.  (I’m going to assume it was because, its being friggen cold, I was wearing an irish cap and a shapeless leather coat.  It was however an amazing experience.  I guess I seemed effeminate… I wonder why.  Anyway, this was 24 years ago.)

Mostly it’s bravado and stupidity.  Ninety nine percent of assholes just want to feel powerful by screaming at people they think will take it.  If they take it further, this is why we have a second amendment.  Curiously, according to our constitution you have the right of self-defense, regardless of skin color, national origin or whomever you like to sleep with.

And the level of crazy and asshole is, as far as I can tell, the same as it’s always been.  There are three hundred million of us, guys.  A few hundred name calling incidents, or spray painted nonsense?  Background noise.

Sane people stay out of crazy neighborhoods, shrug their shoulders at the fricking crazy, and are ready to defend themselves when things go pear shaped.  Now, same as it’s always been, world without end.

And for the idiots following along abroad: yeah, we’re always this crazy, this is nothing new. And crazy as we are, we can whup your butt with both our hands and most our missiles tied behind our back by insane ROEs.  Also, at our crazier, our incidence of “asshole” is far lower than yours.  No, seriously, you can present a good face to those who don’t read your native language papers, or listen in on conversations in your countries.  Here we call those people “naive.”  But when it comes to “racist, sexist, homophobic” the only difference is that our press portrays us as badly as possibly, while yours tries to present your best face to the world.  From all I’ve seen, you’re worse than all but our very craziest enclaves, so shut up and stop convincing our crazies you’re all that.  You keep that up, we’ll ship them to you.

2- No, this is not all Trump’s fault.  Yes, some of the craziness, mostly in the Republican primaries, where he did things like accuse Cruz’s father of time-traveling-presidential-assassination sort of pervaded the campaign season with teh crazy cakes and brought teh insane out of the woodwork.

But the insane has always been in the woodwork, and in time of neurotic fears, they come to the fore.  So, the fault is more of the campaign itself than of Trump.

He has done his best to try to calm those fears, but since the other side is whipping them to a frenzy (mostly because that’s all they got.  What else but terror could cause anyone to vote for a proven corrupt incompetent like Hillary Clinton?) he really can’t do much.

And when people are cataloguing every incident of assholery and ascribing it to him, one wishes to know if they ascribed to Obama — who btw did fan the flames with stuff like “if I had a son” and “police acting stupidly” — “polar bear hunting” and the racial riots in various large cities during his presidency.

If they didn’t, then I really don’t want to hear it about Trump.

3- I don’t want to hear it about Trump.  No, seriously, I don’t want to hear it about Trump.  I neither worship him nor loathe him, and am giving him enough space to shows what he will do, an event that’s still two months away.  So far his preliminary moves are what I’d expect of a New York Liberal semi-mugged by reality.

His talks, his appointments, all boil down to “socially tolerant/economically conservative” and if that is how he intends to govern, I’ll be okay with it.  As okay as I ever am with ANYONE in power.

And for the love of heaven, stop jumping when the media says “frog.” Wasn’t their bias on display through the campaign.  Even if they report that he said he’s going to fry all gays in oil, or get top security clearances for his numerous progeny, give it twenty four hours.  Both of those have pretty much been disproven in less than that.

Right or left, we’ll have plenty to complain about him.  No, seriously.  Washington has so much power, and he’s so far from a constitutionalist, we’ll have plenty to complain.  But particularly if you’re on the right/liberty side, CHECK THE FRICKING PRIMARY SOURCES BEFORE JUMPING.  The mainstream media is not only not your friend, it is your sworn enemy, and I’d think you’d have learned that through the campaign.

4- If you’re tempted to join the protests, or if you’re abroad watching our protests and wondering if the whole country is about to erupt…  Rolls eyes.

Like most of the leftist “movements” there are good indications this is astroturf.  Just like Occupy Wall Street, these people are given tons of press, here and abroad, but they are a tiny minority, in mostly extremely liberal cities (where it’s easiest to recruit them.)

Also, there is credible information about their being hired hands, recruited through Craigslist.  This is all the more credible since a ton of the OWS was.

So if you’re going to join in, I have two things to recommend:

a) Think of what you expect to get.  I mean in terms of reaction.  You should by now be aware that you are a minority.  Maybe not a “tiny minority” but a minority.  So, let’s suppose you manage to abolish our restraints against majority tyranny.  Tell me what you expect to happen.  Use words, employ logic.  If what you come up with is not “I will never have a say in our governance again” you must come from a world in which the sky is green cheese.

b) make sure you get union rates, because half the people around you are getting them.

5- Look, whether we want it or not — and us, the libertarians, have mixed feelings, as we do in any tense situation, since we tend to be odd man/woman/dragon out — what this election has proven is that the left can’t enforce COMPLIANCE.  They can enforce SILENCE.  But silence, when the price of speaking is real danger to your job, your standing in the world and your character, only means most people are hating them in silence, and will strike at the first opportunity.

I’m very worried that their reaction to this is more shouting “shut up”.  They’ve learned nothing and forgotten nothing, and if this keeps up, they’ll court backlash.  OTOH they are, right now, mostly venting, and I say we give them some space, until they can stop screaming and start thinking.

And to the right too, take a deep breath and give it some space. Yes, I know what the last week has been like.  It’s been a week of years, and everyone is emotionally tired and caught between laughter and rage, and still very worried about the creature that is now the president elect.

We’re mostly relieved we didn’t elect the one the media dotes on.  BUT we have to remember the media doesn’t dote on him.  And so, they’ll try to whip up the panic and the trouble.

Ignore them.  Someone quoted the Arab proverb “the dogs bark, but the caravan passes.”  Keep that in mind, even when the dogs are little insane chihuahuas who will not SHUT UP.  It’s all noise and fury signifying nothing.

Go back to your places or work and your places of leisure, live normally. Even political nuts, like us, need a time off now and then. Enjoy a slight respite from being on the edge of seat.  Adrenaline is invigorating.  And deadly.  Take a deep breath. Our worries start again, soon enough.  For now, read a book, write a book, have a party, have some time with those you love.

Soon and very soon there will be real reasons for worry, and an economic crisis, and unless I’m very mistaken, (pray G-d I’m mistaken, please) a world war.

Enjoy the summer respite before winter comes.

And be not afraid.


433 thoughts on “The Finger of Blame

  1. I’m getting really tired of the crazy

    So am I. I don’t know which is crazier, the crazies, or those that expect us to take them seriously.

      1. Yes, of course the crazies want us to take them seriously. It has also become apparent that so does much of the academia, the intelligentsia, the media and the Democratic Party.

        I guess that it can be argued that all of those I just mentioned have now drunk the kool-aid and can be counted as part of the crazies. I perceive most of them as dabblers, fellow travelers, taken dupes and con men who have themselves been conned.

      1. I told The Spouse that I am waiting for an exasperated responsible supervising adult not to dignify them with a polite argument or explanation, but to simply tell them flatly, ‘Oh grow up!’

          1. The CBS morning show occasionally makes rebellious noises, and they made another today. The newswomen refused to be shocked by Ivanka’s company pointing out that she wore one of their bracelet models on TV, and didn’t think it was a conflict of interest. They kept saying, “I don’t see the problem. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.”

            Of course, all celebrities and newspeople at a national level are expected to publicize their fashion providers, and often are either allowed to borrow outfits for free or buy them for a discount. All fashion merchants are expected to wear some of their own stuff and publicize it.

            1. posted different articles; one noting how the media destroyed itself over Trump, the other lambasting Milo Yiannapolous. It was interesting.
              This is part of the reason why I read the Daily Mail. They’ll post both sides for the most part – appeal to everyone. Though they do also do lots of coverage of Islamic creep into Europe so…

  2. Experience has convinced me that if you worry about the good opinion of strangers you will end up tying yourself in knots.

    And frankly, given what some of the International Community’s citizens deem respectable, I will opt for eccentricity any day and twice on Tuesday.

    After all, prior to the American Declaration, No colony had ever broken from the parent stem in the history of the world.

    1. I am OK with the International Community thinking we’re generally good guys but unpredictable when provoked, slow to anger but terrible in wrath, and that they should generally trod carefully and stay on our good side.

      The danger is when they start thinking we’re the crazy dangerous guy who likes to play with molotov cocktails in his yard, that they decide should be preemptively removed for neighborhood safety.

    2. The international community, after all, originally wanted Obama, because he was so much like them. And then they found out he wasn’t interested in protecting them from Russia. Boy, weren’t they surprised….

    3. Appreciate the first two paragraphs, but that last one? Little weak on history.

      Three examples off the top of my head, Carthage, Syracuse and the Ottoman empire (which began, under slightly mysterious circumstances as an outpost/offshoot of the Seljuk state).

      What sets us apart is not that we were the first escaped colony, but that we weren’t a state based on ethnicity/tribe, or on the personal authority of some ruler/ruling family.

      1. The line to which you objected was a quote, an Easter Egg for the cognoscenti. Said by Franklin in 1776, so take up your disagreement with him. At the time he would have said it we were a state (well, thirteen colonies) defined by ethnicity (English, albeit without the full rights of the English) and the personal authority of a ruler (some German named George, aigh-aigh-aigh as I recall.)

        The three examples you cite all seem to be instances where the colony was set adrift by the parent.

        1. The third conquered the remnants of the parent after it went into decline, details.

          Even then we were multiethnic. I personally grew up in an area plagued by unfortunate Dutch legacies, but again details.

          But, and here is where you run into problems, after the separation we didn’t define our nation in either of those ways.

          1. after the separation we didn’t define our nation in either of those ways

            Acknowledged — but at the time Franklin made the statement nobody had any real idea what the consequences would be, much less how the former colonies would organize themselves.

            Talk about your flying leaps into the abyss!

  3. …which will have as much effect as #bringbackourgirls, and count for exactly nothing.

    Or worse than nothing, because having done so you may fail to follow up and see that anything of substance is carried out as the public attention and will shifts having assuaged itself with the symbolic thing.

    1. As with gender, race, and so on. It boggles the mind that basic logic, wherein we learn that the symbol is not the thing seems to have been neglected in their education. They always tells us how educated, how smart, how intelligent they are… Yet their arguments fail the simplest logical tests.

      Yes, I know we are not solely creatures of logic either. But c’mon, folks. It’s like we live in completely different worlds here.

      1. It boggles the mind that basic logic, wherein we learn that the symbol is not the thing seems to have been neglected in their education

        It wasn’t neglected; it’s seldom offered at all.

        It’s not an easy subject to teach when folks want to learn, and with a class where most of them won’t, and the teacher probably won’t understand it either, basic formal logic is an obvious subject to drop.

        Which sucks, it would’ve helped me a lot in math.

        1. The undergrad IT program at Auburn University Montgomery required a Logic course. One of the most useful ones in the syllabus. Several years later, they dropped it. When I spoke to the department head, he agreed it was stupid, but Auburn Main Campus had never required it and forced him to eliminate it.

      2. Heck, they actually go out of their way these days to teach the opposite. We’re dealing with people who think bad words create wrongthink and inanimate objects create violence.

        They probably believe Donald Trump made them set fire to downtown Portland. They couldn’t help it. They were triggered.

        1. I recall with fury the damage a substitute teacher did over a week. She taught the kids that it was acceptable to cry at the slightest feelung of hurt. The regular teacher came back from a severe bout of flu and the students were throwing crying fits at the drop of a ‘no.’ I was not the only parent who angrily wanted answers. The substitute couldn’t be stripped of her qualifications but the school had decided she would never be allowed to teach in that school again.

          I was not surprised when Queensland voted for Pauline Hanson as a similar version of voting for Trump. She isn’t PM but her party getting so much influence seems to have shaken the two major ones.

      3. It’s like we live in completely different worlds here.

        THIS, sadly, I fear this is the case. Would explain why it is when we try to communicate we find ourselves at cross purposes. It reminds me of the old observation of the USA and England being two countries separated by the same language.

  4. Agree completely, Sarah. As I said over on KKRs blog – I went to bed Tuesday night not knowing who had won; the son told me the next morning. Because the world and the nation was not going to end on Wednesday, even if we ended up with an enabled would-be tyrant. (Trump, I don’t know whether he is a would-be or not – but he is not going to be enabled in any such endeavor. That is a very important point.)

    Dusted off the “Trump contingency plan,” instead of the “Hillary contingency plan.” Ammo is somewhat lower on the priority list. As is more range time (which is a good thing, actually – while I enjoy it quite a bit, the arthritis is getting further into the hands these days). Many other things are actually at about the same place, like trying again to get rid of the morons and pigs at a more local and State level.

      1. Yeah, that’s on my list of “things to do more” this year.

        My wife decided she needed a concealed carry pistol, so we wound up buying two for her to evaluate. A M&P Shield and a Glock 43. Whatever she doesn’t want we’ll either sell or ship off to Oldest Daughter.

        But for that to happen we need to put more boolets through it.

        1. we’ll either sell or ship off to Oldest Daughter.

          Had Proglodytes had their way, you would be required to perform a background check on eldest daughter.

    1. Less range time but oddly more food…we’ve had rioters shutting down roads here already. Although I doubt they will move soon to looting I do want to be able to minimize leaving the house.

      1. Smart. We’ve had wildfires on my route this week, not rioters. My home plan is much the same.

        Fortunately for me, the “always have a food plan” was imprinted early. Can’t say whether it is 3rd generation Depression era habits, or if my family has always been this way (kicked out of three countries before settling here, I think, so it is possible)…

        1. Mine was implanted mostly by a CT winter that had the roads closed and stores closed multiple times (pretty much TH-FR every week) in the month of January.

          That’s what people who laugh at preppers don’t get. In general I’m not worried about a government takeover or nuclear war, although I do worry about riots given I’m ITP as is most of the local gov’t dependent population, but weather and other natural disasters.

          I’ve even seen Atlanta shutdown for days three times in the six years I’ve been here by ice and snow (damn global warming).

          1. Just because I can avoid grocery shopping for anything but half & half for the tea and salad fixings for weeks, and can produce tasty meals for as many as necessary without having to run to the store, doesn’t mean I have emergency rations. Nor does the ability to feed the neighbors without power and city water, so that they can shovel us out / clear the downed trees / patch the houses. That’s just a well-stocked pantry! And the less physical labour I can do, the more important the ability to feed and coffee people who will work for food is!

  5. Of all the trumped up accusations about Trump, getting his kids security clearances is just about the most trumped up (puns irrelevant).

    Back in the ’80s, I had a clearance. Care to guess why?

    It wasn’t because I was handling nuclear codes or secret negotiations.

    It was because I was in the same room as classified data, and they were afraid I might see something accidentally!

    So, does anyone think the Trump kids might, just maybe, be exposed similarly?

    Getting a clearance means I got educated on just what happens to someone who exposes secure information. Every year I was reminded and signed papers stating that it was a crime to divulge classified information to people not cleared for it. The penalties started with prison time and led up to execution.

    And, just because I had the clearance, didn’t mean I could see all the classified information I wanted. That, also, was a crime.

    Having the kids cleared means that if they see something, they will know not to talk about it, and what happens if they do. Unlike a certain recent candidate for President, they’ll have no excuse.

    Frankly, servergate was the absolute dealbreaker for me. You can’t hold a clearance and think any of that was okay. It’s simply irrational to think it was ignorance.

    Now, the powers that be are making a big deal out of it? Heck, I’d demand his whole family get cleared–just to be safe. Now there’s no excuse for nonsense with classified information.

      1. Sorry–I didn’t mean to criticize any part of your quite reasonable post.

        I’ve just been listening to the stories of pearl clutching over the clearances, and was fed up with the implied shadiness of the operation–like it was a special privilege, when in reality clearances are a pain!

        Because of the things I signed, if I ever said anything, I’d be prosecuted (and justly so). To this day, the few classified things I knew I’ve happily forgotten (and are mostly obsolete, anyhow). I won’t even tell you the nature of what I’ve forgotten, because–it’s classified!

        But somehow, in the media, clearances are a power grab by treasonous hell spawn.

        Next thing you know, they’ll say they should have just set up a secret server and not said a word…yeah, that’d work.

        If your cats are appearing nervous, it’s probably because they can sense my eyes rolling from half a continent away…

          1. Perhaps Trump needs to announce he is establishing a server in an upstairs bath at the White House, to be employed for exchanging emails with his family so that discussions about yoga lessons, wedding plans, bar mitzvahs and the like can be carried out without undue public scrutiny.

            1. BTW:

              Next thing you know, they’ll say they should have just set up a secret server and not said a word…yeah, that’d work.

              My apologies for failing to acknowledge your ownership of the comparison. I was so focused on beating my joke into submission that I plumb forgot to recognize your prior claim.

              It has been nagging at my conscience (Hey! I have a conscience! It’s a time-share that was previously owned by a little old lady who only took it to church on Sundays, but I get to use it during the week, so long as I keep the sinnage down.) all afternoon and evening, running errands, enjoying family time and hoping the accumulation of comments here would not be too o’erwhelming.

              1. No harm done. Great minds think alike?

                Well, in your case maybe. My mine isn’t so much great as grated and spread on something vaguely resembling spaghetti…

                All this talk of clearances reminds me of something Tom Clancy said happened when he was writing “The Hunt For Red October”. He was never in the Navy, and used publicly available sources for all his ideas. He did have access to a group of submariners who would review his drafts.

                One day, he got a call from one of them who was greatly distressed over what he assumed was the use of classified material in the manuscript. Clancy, being a patriot, said he’d be happy to remove the classified reference, just tell him what to cut.

                At which point the submariner replied, “I can’t do that, Dumbass! It’s classified!”

                Turns out the item was the “Crazy Ivan” turn used by Soviet submarines, in case anyone was curious.

                1. Hitchcock had similar problems with the content of the bottles in the cellar in Notorious. As Hitchcock told it the government contacted him wanting to know how he had initally come upon the idea to have pitchblende (uranium) for the content of the bottles in the cellar. He answered that a familiarity with current science publications. I believe that he had offered to change it, as it was only a MacGuffin.

          2. It sounded to me like the people most enfrothed with the “clearance for the Trump adult kids” story had never had any acquaintance with any actual person hold any level of clearance. The theme seemed to be that once you obtain said clearance, you have immediate access to all classified information anywhere, plus nuclear launch codes and the control app for Predator drones on your iPhone.

            Sorry folks, that’s not how it works. The clearance process is basically a giant background check, which is the entry requirement for later determinations as to whether you personally have a need to know some classified chunk of information.

            That’s why the people who have been through the process and then been read in to various small segregated chunks of classified information had such a problem with The Dowager Empresses gross thoughtless criminal mishandling of huge swaths of classified information. And not just with the email server stuff – Hillary required her frikking uncleared foreign national housekeeper to wander in to her private SCIF in her DC condo and collect highly classified materials, and then take out of there to an unsecured location for Hillary’s convenience.

            As someone who has had passing interaction with various levels of SCIF, I was totally astonished with this news. At the level her personal SCIF was likely running, it probably should have been operated under at least a two-person rule, which, the last time I was read those rules, has no foreign national housekeeper exception.

            But when Trump thought it would be a good thing to run security clearance checks to keep himself and his adult children out of trouble in case they were ever were exposed to anything classified – Red Alert: Abuse Of Power!!!

            And the press can’t figure out why they are so looked down upon.

            1. It is kind of like a restaurant sanitation process … in which case Hillary’s set-up would have been graded at best D, with roaches and mouse droppings along all the baseboards.

            2. Given the Sturm and drang of the media and their general knowledge as shown by Clinton I figured it was anything from a courtesy check (just in case type stuff) to a “here is the training. We have done the diligence but it gives no access and is only liability”

            3. Yes, the hideous carelessness with which the Dowager Queen of Chappaqua and her staff handled classified was just horrifying to me, I had a secret clearance for my time in the Air Force. Can’t think why – as the only real reason for a broadcaster having one was that in the event of a base closing precipitously, the local AFRTS outlet would be a key player. And for some reason, the host nation sensitivity list was classified, IIRC. I only handled classified for about two years – as a video librarian at a military production unit where we sometimes did classified briefs and training materiel, and so of course, the scripts and the video footage were classified.
              But if I had been as careless with the stuff as the Dowager Queen was – I’d still be in a cell in Leavenworth. And I’ve been retired from the military (but not working) for twenty years.

            4. My military specialty was one of the electronic warfare MOS’s, and I also had a clearance. A rather high one, in fact. I’ve seen codewords and suchlike tossed around in news coverage of Hillary’s e-mail scandal that would have gotten me tossed into Leavenworth for a spell should I have uttered them aloud, in public. And don’t get me started on Sandy Berger actually stealing (!) TS/SI documents from a SCIF and destroying them, to cover the Clintons’ collective ass from the 9/11 Commission . . . AND GETTING AWAY WITH IT.

              So I fully expected Hillary would skate on the e-mail thing. What I didn’t quite expect is that she’d have the FBI Director acting as her defense counsel.

              More recently, in civilian life, I’ve handled confidential financial information including tax records, and in my current employment with my state’s social-services agency private health records. There’s also some really stiff penalties for unauthorized disclosure of that information (the feds are really fond of that “up to ten years in prison and $10,000 fine” thing).

              And then you look at the IRS scandal and people like Lois Lerner . . .

              What never fails to amaze me is how many of our citizens – including about 95% of the media – are perfectly OK with double standards of conduct and justice. Somehow the notion that some people should be above the law because they’re “good” or because they “mean well” has taken root in the fabric of our nation, and I’m not sure how we’re going to fix that. Or, I should say, how we’re going to fix that without things turning into a Matt Bracken novel.

              1. That was my concern with Hillary. She would have surrounded herself with other scofflaws, and it would have been open season on Christian conservatives.

              2. So I fully expected Hillary would skate on the e-mail thing. What I didn’t quite expect is that she’d have the FBI Director acting as her defense counsel.

                I’m still thinking he made the right call– sending it over to the Justice Department would’ve just gotten it dumped. Quietly.

                Laying the entire, infuriating case out …and then saying no responsible person would send it to the prosecutor (possible but unstated: THIS prosecutor, at THIS time)?
                It got all over the news. Without anybody having to leak sensitive information, or do something they knew would let her get free.

                1. That is why as much as the FBI director’s getting pilloried from both sides I actually think he’s trying to do the right thing. He can’t do too much hastily – thats going to get him suicided for sure – but what he was able to get out… Woah.

                2. One of my siblings has actually listened to and read Comey a good bit, and has a decent instinct for people. His take is that Comey is deeply principled and ethical… but he approaches those things as a spook. Like lawyers, programmers, writers, doctors, and some other specialties, intelligence work profoundly alters one’s way of looking at the world. While the words he uses to express his principles may be the same, what he and we mean by them may be very, very different. The example my brother gave was privacy: the intelligence community lives under constant surveillance, so your bosses and politicians knowing everything you do is their baseline. It makes it difficult for them to understand the objections that everyone else has to the growing surveillance state. Still, Comey seems to be doing his best for the country from within that… skewed… paradigm.

          3. For a time I worked for the Military Payroll department in the Denver area.

            While I don’t remember if I had an official “security clearance”, they did do a background check on me.

            On the other hand, I’ve always felt that anything I “learned” about a person (due to what I might have found on the computers I programmed) was nothing to be repeated.

            1. I’ve always felt that anything I “learned” about a person … was nothing to be repeated.

              An appalling number of people have proven to not share that attitude.

              The death penalty is probably excessive for idle gossipers, but surgical removal of tongues has a certain appeal. For that matter, pouring molten lead … nyah, some knickers would undoubtedly get knotted over the “cruel and unusual punishment” thing. Didn’t used t be cruel or at all unusual … ‘scuse me, there’re some kids I need to run offa my lawn.

            2. I know how you feel. I was hired by a police department as a ‘non-confidential’ staff assistant, and the PD did a complete background check all the way to the AFB I was born on. That was for a ‘non security clearance’ position. And I still don’t tell my family and friends about lots of what I saw.

              If I did a thousandth of what the Scream Queen did, I would never had my low-wage job dealing with really weird people.

              (The ‘non-confidential’ rating meant that the city could save a whole $1.50 per hour on me. I saw the same things as a ‘confidential’ assistant, did the same work, have to keep my mouth shut over the same stuff for like, forever, but didn’t get the munificent monetary benefits.)

            3. Almost ten years ago a friend worked in a computer store. One day he was moving files from a customer’s old machine to their new one and noticed that the hard drive was filled with kiddie porn. So he reported it to his supervisor.

              So far he has been deposed three times – once on videotape – gone to court twice, and had the county prosecutor frothing with wrath when he wasn’t available instantly for whatever inane questions they had. (he’s a OTR truck driver nowadays).

              Going on ten years now and it’s *still* causing him grief.

              Last time he got called into court he told them he no longer remembered anything about the incident, maybe they should get hold of his former supervisor, since it was her problem anyway. He figures if they haven’t managed to build a case by now, the scumbag is probably going to walk in the end.

              I’m still somewhat agog that the prosecutors are so incompetent *and* tenacious they’re still pursuing a case a decade old…

              1. I suspect that you’re also seeing a defense delaying tactic hoping for exactly that outcome.

                1. This sounds more likely.

                  Remember that under the Constitution, every defendant has a right to a speedy trial. If it takes ten years for a case to go to trial due to prosecution foot dragging, then that would be grounds for appeal. Prosecutors want to try and avoid that, particularly with something volatile like kiddy-porn (if nothing else, it would make the perfect weapon with which to attack the DA during the next election). The defense attorney, on the other hand, has no reason to hurry things up if his or her client is okay with that.

              2. Your friend was involved in that trial concerning one of the DragonCon Founders (the delay of which is why the others owners couldn’t get rid of him for well over a decade).

            4. Believe me, if you had had a formal clearance, you’d know, and you’d know what level you held. You’d also have signed a document.

              Incidentally, I’m astonished that the Obama children have not had formal briefings on classified material; probably they have, and nobody asked. Mrs. Obama almost certainly has had the standard briefing.

              Clearance isn’t proof of need to know, and some information is so compartmented that it’s very existence is classified at an “eyes only” level; back in the 60’s there were topics whose code names were classified, but whose content wasn’t at all classified, it was openly published data — but what was Top Secret was that this data, known to all, had implications for weapons design. The “secret” is now pretty well known, but I am being cagey because I’m not sure it was ever formally declassified and I haven’t time to find out.

              On another topic, it is indeed a big country. I have a map I can post into Word documents, but apparently not here.

              1. You mean if you were in a (well known) position to know nuke launch times you wouldn’t announce the time even if it had been guessed before

                1. Part of the reason that I sometimes spend more time saying “this is totally not from any sort of classified source” in ever more elaborate ways is because I think it’s something that somebody could think I did get access to, legally or illegally, in part by exploiting my clearance– or that it’s something that I figure is true because of things I knew from things I had access to because of the clearance.

                  1. Yep. Regardless of whether or not I have clearance I get basic training yearly. Plus a decade of dealing with hippa

                  2. Used to have a friend who’d been a nuclear sub tech and used the GI Bill to get his college degree credentialing what he already knew. It used to drive him bonkers to be unable to correct teacher errors because …

                    1. There’s a hilarious episode of Stargate: Atlantis where Rodney goes to a conference where someone is going to announce a new technology breakthrough, only to discover that the “new” technology is based on work that Rodney performed and can’t talk about because it’s classified.

                2. You mean, if I say it is five minutes between pushing the button and missiles launching, nobody is going to believe it, but if … oh, say, a former SecState were to say that it would be assumed (s)he knew what (s)he was taking about?

                  It has been my observation that Democrat Secretaries of State rarely know what they’re talking about.

              2. Yep. Clearance is not approval – it is an assurance (hopefully) that whatever you come across by accident will not be immediately sold or leaked.

                Doesn’t always work – one wonders how many “inside sources” at the FBI, DOJ, and so on are janitors…

                1. Oh, gads, from the audits of failure to *follow* basic security, even when they know there’s a big inspection going on?

                  I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

            5. If you were working for military and they did a background check, you had a clearance.

              It’s not like they walk up to you and hand you a paper that says “grats, you got a Secret!”

              1. No, you got a briefing, so you knew what you couldn’t be around, and a lot of documents to sign saying that you were bound for life.

          4. And the longest lasting effect of mine is that all of my relatives and in-laws and a few friends are entitled to government paid identity theft protection because all of the current administration had the same attitude towards info protection as the Secretary of State.

            Trump’s family members SHOULD get vetted; the only reason Obama’s didn’t is that they knew what they’d find.

            1. I think I got the “looks culpable” ink, but that’s just a guess. All lies, of course, as all know I am very irresponsible. He’s not my dog, he didn’t bite you and besides, you kicked him first.

        1. … somehow, in the media, clearances are a power grab by treasonous hell spawn.

          Given the degree to which the Media wines and dines off leaks of classified information …

          Apparently President Trump is not to breakfast, lunch or dine with family, or if he does so is to eschew any talk about his day.

          1. One of my family members has a job like that.

            Nobody asks that family member about work because the only answer they get is “How about those Dodgers?”

            My brother, being the persistent sort, tried to get this family member to say something different. The result? “How about those Broncos?”

            1. My Dad served on a variety of DoD advisory boards (such as the Defense Science Board, among others) over the years, each of which required…. [um… I can’t retrieve the details from my alleged memory…]. oh just call it mega-clearance.

              After some trips for these boards, his only response when we asked how it went was “How about that Babylonian Tupperware?”

              When I was a High School senior, I got a phone call from my then-girlfriend’s father, who was a big-time Beverly Hills lawyer. He wanted to know why “the FBI”—it was actually a DoD security contractor—was asking questions about me. I knew that my Dad’s clearance was being renewed, so I handed him the phone and said “this call is for you!” Yes, they really were checking *my* background for my Dad’s clearance. And “just happened” to get a read on one more level of acquaintance while they were at it. Fun times…

              1. I remember my dad’s position and clearance required him to live on-base. Family moved from a really nice 5 bedroom house with big yard, basement, whole works to gov-issued duplex shoebox. No more off-base friends for us. 10 years after he retired was when us kids found out the reason for the move was for the security level. Still don’t know what he did, what he got awards for, etc. Maybe about 2023 I can re-petition the AF for info.

              2. Hahaha! Rhys told me that the army peeps doing his clearance looked like they wanted to cry when they asked him if I had ever been involved with any personae of foreign governments. “She’s an Ambassador’s daughter, I think she’s met and spoken to two of their Presidents, and other politicians.”

                It got sorted out but I do understand. XD

                1. The USA was particularly silly in the 1960s and 1970s. Apparently the security people thought that communism was something that could be passed along like a contact disease…

                  Apparently, being stone ignorant of the enemy was far preferable to having a working understanding of why their system was broken.

                  (why yes, I can still quote sections of “A Communist Manifesto” from memory. And I thought Reagan was a bit pink around the edges…)

                  1. Yeah, definitely silly to think that someone is less likely to give something away, inadvertent or not, to someone whom they have ties of love and loyalty to outside the bounds of government; or that people who have a good reason to be around you couldn’t be a problem.

              3. Heh. Shortly after my parents were married, my father came home to inform my mother there was a chance that two young men in suits might be dropping by. My mother’s uncle–a mechanical engineer–did some kind of still-unknown work for the DoD after WW2, and so the family had regularly been checked up on by the FBI over the years. It had been awhile, though, as her uncle was now retired and had been for some time. So her initial reaction was “The FBI?? Did you do something to alarm them?? Did Uncle Jake go back to work and no one told me??”

                However, as it turned out, he was actually talking about the LDS missionaries. (Mom was a member when my parents married, Dad was not and had–prior to this–been very adamant that he was NOT INTERESTED. So much so, that the idea it might be the missionaries and not the FBI never even occurred to her…)

                But yeah. He had super-ultra-clearance of some kind, and so the *entire* family got vetted on a regular basis. And even now–although I’m sure some of it has since been officially de-classified–none of us has any idea what Uncle Jake did during those years. He’s never spoken of it and likely never will, and that’s fine and sensible.

            2. I told my husband that if I couldn’t know that was fine and I wasn’t going to pitch a fit. I did need to know though ‘how long are you going to be gone roughly, so I can adjust and plan around that for grocery shopping?’ overestimating was also good.

          2. My sister observed that when she went to school in the DC area, if someone told you that they worked for the government, it meant the job was out of bounds for discussion.

            Fortunately meant I didn’t have to explain it to her once.

    1. I heard about the kids thing, and figured he wanted them included in his circle of advisors. Who he picks for that is up to him, and the ones we’ve seen so far seem to be fairly level-headed.

      So I shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

      1. I don’t like him, I don’t like his adult kids, but if he wants them cleared so they don’t mishandle information, great. Except for Barron, ten is too young to be dragged into adult stuff.

        1. I have a ten-year-old, of the scary-smart self-motivated variety. If I had classified information in my house, *I* would insist that boy get read the riot act or whatever it takes to scare the . . . well, actually, he really doesn’t scare either.
          Anyway, there should ought to be a version of “This is what classified means” for the ten-year-old, because while young Mr. Trump is probably not as scary-smart as my boy, he’s still ten, and tens are generally curious, and slippery little beggars, and I bet he’ll see plenty of stuff he shouldn’t ought to.

          1. You know, I hadn’t thought of that. Marsh as presidential son….
            At eight he hacked into the school system with the laudable intent of improving his brother’s grades in French. If we hadn’t twigged in time, and stopped him (though he understood he couldn’t do it, he STILL doesn’t think he was wrong.)
            A president’s son like that is terrifying.

          2. The thing to recognize about such ten-year-olds is that it is judgement, not intellect, which they lack. They can generally comprehend anything you can explain, so you need to explain things carefully.

          3. Holly, my father was an AF project manager and dealt with many and varied ‘interesting’ things. Once a year he called all of us kids into the master bedroom and did the security routine.

            Basically, it was, “Don’t touch my briefcase, my uniform, any papers you may see, don’t come past the door to my room and keep your mouth shut if you hear anything interesting or you won’t be sitting down till next year.”

            And then there was the gun talk, which was, “This is my gun. Touch it and I’ll use it on you.”

            Sounds harsh, but it kept us curious monkeys from screwing with his stuff, and from getting him sent to prison. And other than the harsh talk, he was a really good dad, who we never crossed…

      2. I’ve slept since last week, a few hours at least, but I recall a Trump announcement of his transition team including his family, by name, as well as the usual suspects. If he is to ask them for opinions – and they are people I assume that he trusts – they would need the clearance to hear the questions, or see the personnel materials of those being considered for Cabinet-level positions.
        I though noting of the announcement, but then I am not a progressive grievance-hound.

    2. Of all the trumped up accusations about Trump, getting his kids security clearances is just about the most trumped up (puns irrelevant).

      My response: #ClearedLikeHillarysMaid.

    3. You don’t even really need to have held a security clearance to understand why that server was such a bad idea. At the least it was a blatant attempt to dodge the FOIA. Add to that a server that (based on the fact it was hacked multiple times) was not properly secured for even general use.

      In no way does her running a private server look good even without adding classified information to the mix. Also, as a government employee she would have had to have taken a yearly class on information security and proper handling of information.

    4. And, just because I had the clearance, didn’t mean I could see all the classified information I wanted. That, also, was a crime.

      In the movies you see something being classified “need to know” as some special thing. All classified information is “need to know.” You have to have both the relevant clearance and a need to know the information to be able to do your job in order to have access.

      1. Oooh! I think I found where that stupid thing came from, too– apparently the President technically doesn’t have a clearance at all, and some of the documents talk about it as him having “need to know” clearance.

        Since that is the easiest to find and most common thing that folks will run into for anything with security clearance, it kind of got turned inside out.

    5. When I heard that, I scratched my head and wondered why they *wouldn’t* do so for all the immediate family as a matter of course. It’s like they’re expecting Trump to give up his family ties or something.

    6. At least he’s asking for them to be cleared. Unlike some one else currently in the wh. He couldn’t pass a simple confidential security clearance. And don’t get me started on the pieces of s**t that he surrounded himself with.
      (Current TS/SCI here)

  6. RE: the size of the US

    A few years ago, I decided to do a quick comparison of the size of Europe versus the size of the US. I calculated the straight line distance between London and Moscow (i.e. a much longer version of that march that to date has swallowed two full European armies), and then I calculated the straight line distance between Los Angeles and New York (and incidentally noticed that the United States is tilted in a way that’s much more NW/SE than I’d realized). My rough estimate determined that the LA to New York distance was roughly 150% of the distance from London to Moscow.

    I was surprised when I realized that.

    The moral of that, I suppose, is that if we ever get invaded, the invaders had better hope that they make it across the Great Plains before winter sets in, or their entire army will freeze to death.

    On another note (related to population size as opposed to geographical size) –

    Occasionally when people discuss online trolls, I’ll note that the US has a population of roughly 300 million. If you assume, for the sake of argument, that 1% of the population is made up of sociopaths (and I don’t know whether that number is accurate or not), then that means that there are 300,000 sociopaths in the US. And people honestly expect that they’re going to persuade all of these sociopaths from going nuts in an anonymous environment?

      1. The event that prompted me to measure the distances mentioned above was a conversation about game conventions. I was having a “spirited discussion” online with some individuals about the merits of having a small British game company come to Gen-Con to hawk its wares. The Europeans on that forum all thought that attending a couple of European conventions (Salute and Essen, iirc) was more than adequate. So I pulled up the Gen-Con attendance numbers, and then went looking for the attendance numbers for the Salute and Essen conventions.

        Apparently they don’t publish them.

        I will note, however, that the game company in question later announced that it would be attending the next Gen-Con.


      2. I cannot find a youtube presentation of it, but I recommend Tom Stoppard’s NEWFOUNDLAND, an entr’acte inserted into his DIRTY LINEN (okay, when I write it out that way it sounds nasty.) It has been described thusly:

        In the middle of Dirty Linen, Stoppard manufactures a recess that allows the introduction of New-Found-Land, a monologue disguised as a meeting of two other MPs to consider an American’s application for British citizenship. The monologue is a long, fantastic verbal tour of America that is at once a hilarious send-up of Walt Whitman, a compendium of American patriotic myths and literary cliches, and a breathtaking comic rhapsody.

        It is a fabulous pastiche of what the educated Brit’s comprehension of America is, and marvelously compresses the scale and scope of this nation in both space and time. For those who admire Stoppard it can be found in the collection The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays, $9.99 on kindle, $14.19 in paperback.

        The oddness of America is that our Press defames us while in other countries the Press pastes a rosy veneer over all flaws. Both pictures are false.

          1. Oh, thank you for the reminder of pleasant memories.

            That was one of the books I frequently ‘borrowed’ from Daddy’s book shelves. I do wonder what became of it … I know I don’t have it.

      3. You saw that a lot in the aftermath of Katrina where Europeans tut-tutted about a major US city being reduced to third-world standards. For a few weeks (longer in areas that were effectively depopulated after the evacuees realized how much better it was elsewhere). After gettting hit by a hurricane the size of freaking GERMANY!

        1. Yeah, talked to a nice lady from France and she was all “France is soooo big..” And then I compared France to the state I live in, Florida. Try travelling from Key West to Pensacola, now that’s a long-arsed trip, with very little scenic relief. Sure, we’re skinny, but looooong!

        2. One evening, while working late, someone stopped by with his brother-in-law, a real London Bobby. The Bobby went on and on about the “tornado” he’d just experienced. We didn’t have the heart to tell him it was just an average thunderstorm, and we just had normal thunderstorm related outages.

    1. I think I recall that the American sociopath rate might be 3% of men, and 1% of women. But I’m not sure whether I got that from DSM standards, or from Grossman’s combat statistics.

      1. That might be right. I think I remember seeing a 3% number floated at one point. But I don’t remember where, or the context.

      2. The problem with those numbers is that they generally under-count “well adjusted” sociopaths. The sort of guys who get up every day and go to work and love (to their extent) their kids and wives and etc., and never ever have a problem that exhibits their special traits.

        Also some folks I know who’ve been in a few gun fights…don’t have a high opinion of Grossman.

        1. If it was DSM numbers, it probably was including the ones able to function in society. 2% times 330 million is six and a half million, four and a half over the two million prison population. We don’t carry out very many executions, so if that 3% were violent sociopaths we would see more evidence.

          1. How are they going to identify the ones that can function in society if they’re not breaking down?

            They’re at the point where the tests they make for having a “tendency” towards it includes freaking ability to be professional.

            1. That’s…what the hell. They’re qualifying the ability to control your emotions and behave like a freaking grownup in a professional environment as a sign of sociopathy?!?!

              I think that may just be the most terrifying thing I’ve ever read.

              1. Remember that “there are way more sociopaths/psychopaths/crazies than you think” article from a while back, written by the doctor who was genuinely crazycakes, immature as heck or lying (took a relative on a hiking trip in a place with an ongoing deadly disease outbreak) who used his own brain images as a “control” and discovered it scanned the same as the standard meaning psychos they were looking at?

                That’s the definition that the “X% of surgeons are psycho” stories came from.
                Which is rather duh, since part of their special definition was ability to harm someone for their own good, which you kinda gotta do as a surgeon.

                1. I shall always be thankful that my surgeons were quite able to slice me open and cut me up. Even more so that they waited until I was under anesthesia to do so.

              2. Oh, they also classify not having an even mood, as in sometimes you’re happy, sometimes you’re not as bi-polar. Having grown up with a bi-polar mom, they are full of sh&t and also medicating people for “having emotions.”

                1. Definitely. There is a huge difference between actual bi-polar, being the hemispheres of the brain not talking well or at all to each other, and having feelings.

                  America, land of the chemically controlled.

                  1. It’s really very simple; they plan to classify as many of their opponents as crazy as possible; makes it easier to take away various rights, such as gun ownership. After all, it only takes one diagnosis per household to confiscate from everyone in it.

                  2. That’s not what bipolar is. Its a lack and/or excess of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. the two sides of the brain communicate fine.

                    1. Believe me, I am aware on both counts. its like they are actively working to have every human being classified as having one disorder or another (or in many cases, multiple)

      3. I’m not up on this week’s definition of “sociopath”, but I’d put the number of seriously messed up women I’ve known as about 10x that of men…

        Women seem to be better at hiding it to the casual observer, but the crazy leaks out over repeated exposure.

        1. Dangerous-crazy women tend to be perfectly aware that you’re another human with feelings.

          Kind of like how a torturer is aware where the nerves are…..

        2. According to the stats I’ve seen, you’d be correct: schizophrenia ratio is 1M:10F, and similarly skewed for some other disorders.

          Same in dogs, which can have a similar (and definitely inherited) disorder. Way more nutty females than males (with the caveat that males neutered before puberty are mentally females, and have a higher rate of such issues than do intact males).

          In my observation that spectrum tends to be hormone-related in both dogs and humans, and females have more-variable hormones, thus more opportunity to be nuts. Also why symptoms tend to become recognised at puberty.

          1. There are likely a great many factors. For example, guys don’t seem especially able to recognize sociopathy from bog standard female behaviour, especially when the female is sexually attractive. Females tend to gleefully undertake domestication of the male and thus tend to cull the truly non-adaptable.

            1. Survival of the species, I suppose. Although I still remain shocked/appalled at how many otherwise apparently-sane males I know invariably go for the crazy women as potential mates, even when it’s painfully clear (to me, anyway) that she’s going to make them miserable. I think you must be right about the sexually attractive part, but it still boggles my mind. 😀

              1. There is an old saying to the effect of sex with crazy chicks being the greatest (sorry – cannot remember phrasing.)

                Which may also be why there are old sayings about there being more to life than sex.

    2. > The moral of that, I suppose, is that if we ever get invaded, the
      > invaders had better hope that they make it across the Great
      > Plains before winter sets in, or their entire army will freeze to death.

      Being that this is America, I can assure you that they *might* get past the coastal cities, but they will not *freeze* to death on the great plains.

        1. probably have more guns

          No probably about it. Gun owners in the US outnumber the combined numbers of every military and government paramilitary organization in the world by better than three to one.

        1. Running a gun in the cold weather sucks, so IDK about gleefully, but yeah, with the sort of malice that starts off “you got me out of a nice warm house in the middle of this kind of weather…”

          1. “For this I’m baking my brains in the Texas Panhandle sun in August? Load faster, d*mnit, now I’m pissed! Passing range marker 200 yards.”

      1. It’s even been tried. The Utah War, 1857-1858. No, the Army didn’t freeze to death, but it did spend a hungry winter in Wyoming, several hundred miles short of its destination,

      2. Being that this is America, I can assure you that they *might* get past the coastal cities

        “Sheldon, Canada is not going to invade California.”
        “Really? You think those hippies in Washington and Oregon can stop them?”

      3. They’d better pick a route that doesn’t involve any mountain passes, too, or there’s no way they’ll make it.

        Those things take serious work to keep open at the best of times. Just ONE rogue road crew and an invading army is screwed– so basically anything on the west of the Cascades is out for an invasion location.

        My grand total knowledge of the eastern mountains is that they’re not the same, so IDK about them.

        1. Plenty of traps in the eastern mountains. They may not be tall, but the passes in and out are just as easily defended. See John Ringo’s Aldenata series for some good sci-fi play in the Appalachians. Otherwise, some good Civil War history. Fighting in Tennessee was vicious to say the least, made more-so by the terrain.

          And the whole Hatfield-McCoy feud was full of ambushing on various trails and passes.

          Lots of places where 1 man with a .50cal rifle can effectively stall large units.

          1. And the whole Hatfield-McCoy feud was full of ambushing on various trails and passes.

            That actually comes close to the biggest difference my lack of education includes– the passes back east are that old. They may* have been improved, but they’re natural passes.

            Most of ours…aren’t. They make use of the ridges between mountains, but they also MADE new paths when those crevices didn’t work out. In some cases they’ve done a really good job of fixing it up, but I was probably ten before I realized that roads didn’t naturally follow a whole lot of cliff faces, those cliffs had been created to make a path for the road.

            Now that I think about it, part of the issue might be the kind of rock– I’ve heard some builders back east talk about how a lot of our rock is “rotten” compared to what they’re use to building on and around. They’re use to it either being dirt, or sound stone, not boulders the size of houses.

            * almost definitely, even by the standards I think in terms of

            1. Don’t know how much is natural passes between Chattanooga and Manchester, but there’s places that are cuts – and have falling rocks. Three lanes, and I try to stay in the middle at times, just in case.

              That’s another example of different perspective. I’d heard about the Monteagle grade until I dreaded my first trip. But going through it didn’t seem so bad. Yes, there’s runaway truck ramps, but I’ve driven steeper where the ground is supposed to be flat. Just it wasn’t as long, so if a truck got up speed, there was a hill ahead to help slow it.

                1. Only if you have to use them . . .
                  Well, there’s one southbound on the Interstate around Monteagle that’s on the left and looks like it ends right before the top of the hill. The northbound lane is on the other side.

                  I know a woman who, taking her turn driving while her husband napped, decided, while descending a mountain, to put their car in neutral and coast.

                  They did make it down in one piece. They needed break pads, but they made it. Maybe it helped her husband is a preacher.

        2. Tallest Eastern Mountain is Mt. Mitchell, 6,684 feet above sea level.

          Or, as they say out west: a low pass.

        3. You’ve got the Cascades, Rockies, Sierra Nevadas, and more. The Western US is essentially one big mountain range after another.

          And if you want to avoid the mountain ranges, then you have to go through the deserts. While those are navigable, you’d better bring your own water. For that matter, sometimes just crossing from one mountain range to another requires passing through a desert. For instance, I would almost (key word) feel sorry for any invader that came down out of a mountain range into St. George, Utah, in the middle of summer.

      4. Hah. And depending on *where* they’re trying to cross, not only will they have heavily armed locals, but also lots and lots of pretty much empty land…

        Interesting historical note: I recently learned that there was a POW camp not far from where I live during WW2. For the most part, the POWs and the locals got along great (especially when it was the Italian POWs–they did have a little trouble with the German ones), and there was precisely ONE escape attempt the entire time the camp was operating. And they found the two escapees in the nearest (nearby being, oh, forty or fifty miles away) town, having given up and decided to just take a breather on the local rodeo ground benches and wait for someone to take them back.

        They didn’t need heavy guards. It was hundreds upon thousands of miles of what was, essentially, still wilderness (and still is, to a large degree). There was nowhere for them to go and no way to survive to the other side.

    3. As I point out below: the US Civil War was fought over a front as wide as the Eastern Front of WW2 (a bit less than the maximum but as big or bigger than most of the war) and fought over a depth equal to more than half that of the Eastern Front.

    4. I have a (semi) personal example of exactly how much foreigners underestimate the size of the United States.

      One of my friends is half Japanese and several years ago some members of that half of the family were visiting her in Tucson from the little rural community they come from in Honshu. They decided to make a day trip up to the Grand Canyon, which they thought was amazing; so they asked my friend if they should visit Niagara Falls the next day…

      1. During an online conversation, I once had to explain to someone from Japan that the US had more than one time zone. He was having a hard time grasping why just stating a time for people to meet up online wasn’t enough information.

          1. India also has only one time zone. The country spans two international timezones so they just split the difference and are 30 minutes off from everyone else.

            1. That one zone also does not observe Daylight Saving Time. After the recent shift, my teleconferences that included people from India shifted from 9:30 AM to 8:30 AM…. and I am NOT a morning person. I can be awake then, I can be in the office, even, but coherently communicating? No.

              1. Most of the world doesn’t use DST. Most of the West does. And the Middle East. And there are a handful of countries in the Southern Hemisphere that do. But outside of the Middle East, the only country in Asia that observes it is Mongolia (which is unexpected, imo…).

                Here in the US, Arizona doesn’t use it, either.

          2. I’d be perfectly happy with Greenwich Mean Time. I’d even settle for getting rid of Daylight Savings Time.

            “We must have Daylight Savings Time! If we don’t, our children will have to go to school in the dark!”

            “So, they’re going to come home in the dark then. But that’s okay?”

            1. And under modern pedagogical methods, they will remain in the dark while in school and a good while afterward.

            2. “We must have Daylight Savings Time! If we don’t, our children will have to go to school in the dark!”

              Grew up in a very northern part of Washington. In a valley. School bus came about an hour and a half before school started, drop-off was 45 minutes to an hour after it ended. Which meant we left home before the sun was up, and came back after it was below the horizon.

              They STILL used that freaking line on us!

              (It’s less than a mile to the school house, cross country, but there’s a river down the middle of the valley, and lots of little side-roads that had to be covered. Happiest day of high school was when I was able to drive us to school, instead of riding the bus.)

            3. I didn’t see the point when one winter we had maybe 4 hours of daylight and was still going to school. I think my dislike for DST dates from then.

              Setting up schedules for ingame raids we used UST. It seemed to work better in translating local time.

      2. I did a day trip to the Canyon from Phoenix a little while ago, so roughly 8 hours from Tucson. Used to live there. The monsoon season is pretty impressive.

      3. Do New Yorkers (city variety) count as foreigners for purposes of this discussion?

        Because my first agent called me one day and said, “I’m going to be in Dallas tomorrow, want to get together for lunch?”

        I live in Austin.

        1. Boston Washington corridor is arguably another planet.
          Well… Maybe a dwarf planet. Smaller than Ceres anyway.

        2. Honestly? No offense to our urban folk, but city people in general. A great many simply do not understand distance or population density. They do not believe one traffic light towns really exist, or school systems so small that teachers know parents and maybe have even grown up with them, or that it’s not unusual to have large four-legged predators prowling around. Nor do they understand that you and your neighbors are the emergency services.

          1. Going out to Albuquerque with The Daughter we drove I-40, with a few side trips along the way for interest. A front had dropped by the time we were returning and the weather along I-40 was expected to be hazardous, so we shifted our route north. This route took us across the Oklahoma panhandle passing through high plains territory largely marked by abandoned farms, with two large prairie grass reserves and a inland salt marsh.

            A while later in an online discussion claiming over-population in the US I posted a description of the drive. A person from a metropolitan center in California posted the assertion that the empty land was simply being held prior to its development into a shopping mall. I concluded that such must have been the largest plot of unoccupied land they had ever seen, and they were sadly unable to imagine what they did not know.

            1. The thing is, I can’t even think of where that would be in most CA metro areas… there are huge open spaces here. Sure, most of them are mountains…

          2. Heck, even in allegedly urban areas in the West (like Denver), there’s problems with bears breaking into people’s houses… (Urban bears, heh.) And there were a number of times when my younger siblings were still in school, after the parents had moved to Denver, they had to be kept in at recess, on account of cougar tracks being found in the playground…

            Also hilarious is trying to explain a moose to someone who’s never actually seen one. No one ever manages to grasp the sheer size of those things until they actually HAVE seen one (or, more likely, it’s legs, as they are frantically trying to avoid hitting it on a mountain highway…)

            But yeah, I recall visiting my best friend in Cali and looking out her back window–she lives in the mountains outside San Jose, so it’s sort of rural–and blinking in astonishment at the incredibly tiny deer. I’m used to deer the size of a small horse…

            1. I heard rumour that NBC was considering a TV sitcom about Urbane Bears living in suburbia. Poppa Bear is a cartoonist for the New Yorker, Momma Bear writes SF/F novels …

        3. I actually used to get a form of this when I was on my mission. I’m from California. My mission was spent largely in eastern Washington state.

          Now eastern Washington is a largely rural area, with a few big urban areas (primarily Spokane, and the Tri-Cities). And yet people *still* wondered if I knew acquaintances of theirs who lived in California.

          1. I got some of this when I came back from Mombasa. People would say, “Oh, my brother’s friend was in the Peace Corps in Abidjan, you must have met him,” and I would explain that Africa is rather a large continent and that Abidjan and Mombasa are separated by three thousand miles.

            I expect that when Napoleon brought what was left of his army back from Moscow, at least one of the survivors was told, “Oh, my Oncle Phillipe has a store in Odessa, you could have stayed with him.”

            1. That said, my father-in-law, once sent to help with a factory in South America, heard a familiar voice in a restaurant, and found someone he knew from the same area.

              1. Whilst living in SoCal, I went to Arizona on business, decided to let the dogs out down on the river, and ran into someone I’d known in Montana — 30 years before.

                I was getting gas in Three Forks MT when the fellow at the next pump says to me, “You bought that truck in California, didn’t you.” I allowed how that was so, and he said, “I built that rack. It’s a movie studio rack; that’s why it’s so tall.” (Perhaps more amazing is that the rack had stayed with the truck through 25 years and 7 owners.)

                Sometimes the world is microscopic, even by European standards.

          2. Where at in Cali? If you were off of the coast, it’s not a bad bet that you might know someone who lives there– and folks who are on the coast move around enough that it’s still possible.

            One of my high school teachers/family friends happened to be down near Bakersfield (where we have cousins, on my dad’s side) and ran into a decent guy in the pub…who turned out to be my mom’s nephew from Oregon.
            And, of course, when they were up in Oregon, about a hundred miles from mom’s home town, they ran into… one of dad’s cousins that’s my age, we were kids together before my family moved up to Washington.

            I don’t know about the movement patterns for those who are on the coast, though, my husband keeps running into folks he knew but that’s because he grew up Navy, not because of San Diego.

            1. LA County.

              And note that the people who were asking if I knew someone were *not* bothering to check whether their friend and I were from the same part of the state.

              1. Eeeeh, that DOES go up to Edwards, and in some cases it might’ve been just something to get you talking about where you’re from, but oy.

            2. My dentist in SoCal was named Baumgartner. Asked him if he was related to the Montana Baumgartners… turns out he’s my mom’s sister’s husband’s sister’s husband’s shirttail cousin.

        4. One of my New Yorker college friends thought it was cool that I had grown up so close to Disneyland and probably had been able to go all the time. I grew up just outside of Denver.

          1. “oh you’re in Australia! (name) is going to Sydney/Melbourne! Yiu should meet up!”

            Cue explanation of distance of North Queensland from those places. If that doesn’t sink in I try explaining that Townsville is tropical whereas the south states have four seasons. Sometimes that works.

      4. Not even all Americans appreciate how big the country is. One of my Dad’s favorite work stories was some contractors came in from the east coast and decided to drive to Colorado (from Eastern Nebraska) for the weekend. They were advised against it since Denver is a good 10 hour drive and they didn’t believe it until the drove it.

        Poor bastards. East I-80 in Nebraska is NOT scenic. (Trust me, I’ve made that drive 8 times this year!)

          1. It’s probably just that I’ve done it 8 times in the last year. (Would have been more but I canceled one trip because I didn’t feel like driving). Though it really gives you a much better appreciation for the early settlers that did it in covered wagons.

      5. First Japanese nationals I encountered was an exchange tour that came through my high school. They didn’t have that problem, but they’d started out back East (NYC? Boston? Can’t remember now.)

        One that I got to know fairly well, confided to me that Tojo was indeed mad…

        1. One of their problems in China was that they never managed to change their tactics enough to cope with its size.

        2. In defense to Tojo, he did expect the USA to strike for a cease-fire once Pearl Harbor et-al happened, as that would be sensible on our part. Yamamoto tried to tell him, thus the “A gun behind every blade of grass” comment, but Tojo and the rest of the ruling staff didn’t believe Yamamoto. Quick, surgical strikes, that’ll cow them, yes? Err, no.

          At least Hitler expected a fight-to-the-knife. He just overestimated vastly how thick the Russian neck that he was trying to slit. And how evil and ruthless a thug Stalin was, and how willing he was to spend troops like kopeks..

          1. Problem with that thinking is that the US had already ordered more capitol ships (i.e. battleships and aircraft carriers) than the Japanese had in their entire navy. So even if by some lucky chance the Japanese had managed to sink our aircraft carriers at Pearl Harbor along with the battleships, by 1944 we would have had enough brand new carriers and battleships to deal with the Japanese.

            And this was a budget appropriations item, so this was something that should have been showing up in the regular intelligence reports that the Japanese were receiving.

          2. The American Expeditionary Force caused considerable confusion to the Germans (as well as the French and English) by their refusal to concede a “hopeless position” (see: Argonne Forest) and thus holding on to achieve victory.

            French and British forces inclination to fall back when an objective was deemed “out of reach” did not endear themselves to the members of the 77th Division, 308th Battalion, whose flanks were exposed by the retreat of their allies.

            In Europe, Whittlesey served with the 77th Division, 308th Battalion, Headquarters Company. He was involved in defensive endeavors, first behind the British front and later in the Luneville Defensive Sector. Beginning in August 1918, Whittlesey’s Division entered real combat in the Vesle, Aisne, Argonne and Meuse offensives. Whittlesey gained world-wide recognition in October 1918 when the companies of his battalion, which were part of a campaign against the Germans in the Argonne Forest, were cut off for several days without adequate supplies of food or ammunition. Though it was often blamed on Whittlesey’s own overzealousness and inexperience, the troops of the 308th were left vulnerable to being surrounded by the enemy. Their own successful advance, and the inability of the Allied troops on the flanks to advance, had left them in such a position.

            On October 2nd, when the companies Whittlesey’s battalion and other units assigned to the 308th Infantry were first surrounded, they numbered 463 men. Parts of other units including some men of the 307th Infantry under the command of Nelson Holderman joined the main group bringing the total trapped to about 550. By October 7th, when Whittlesey’s troops were rescued, they had been reduced to 194, alive and unwounded. While the 308th Infantry was cut off in the ‘Pocket’, a hill between Charleveaux Brook and the old Roman road and railroad in that sector, they were subjected constantly to machine gun and trench mortar attacks by well-supplied German troops. In addition, the trapped men suffered from what is now called “friendly fire”. The runner chain from the ‘Pocket’ to Headquarters had been broken and the only means of communication was by use of homing pigeons. Unfortunately, one of the pigeons brought somewhat inaccurate coordinates back to headquarters. After much additional suffering, the last pigeon, Cher Ami, was used on October 4th to stop this friendly barrage.

            Air support played a key role in the incident as well. The 50th Aero Squadron, A.E.F., would eventually locate the Lost Battalion, accomplished history’s first air-drop by delivering supplies to the surounded men on October 6, 1918. The 50th flew 15 missions that day, but due to an error in the coordinates stemming back to the carrier pigeon messages, only a fraction of the supplies reached the trapped men.

            The 50th’s D.H.4 #2 that made that first historic air-drop — flown by Lt. Harold E. Goettler with observer Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley — was shot down on their second mission later that day by German ground fire near Binarville, France. Both Goettler and Bleckley were killed, and were posthumously awarded Medals of Honor, accounting for 2 of the total of 4 Medals of Honor awarded to Air Force men in WWI. Later, an air-drop team from the 50th spotted the Battalion’s correct position, and they were rescued on October 7th.

            Early on October 7th, before the relieving Allied troops arrived, the German Commanding Officer who surrounded the Americans sent a letter to Whittlesey by an American prisoner requesting his battalion’s surrender. Whittlesey and George McMurtry, his second- in-command, refused to acknowledge this request and even pulled in the white panels used to signal Allied planes for fear the Germans would mistake them for surrender flags. It was widely reported in the American press that Whittlesey had responded “Go to Hell!” immediately upon reading the letter. He later denied having made the statement, suggesting that no reply was necessary.

            See: Major Charles White Whittlesey

            1. “Gifted Amateurs” was how one German officer described them.

              Major Whittlesey was so traumatized by losing so many of his men that after the war he took a walk, off an ocean liner, in the middle of the Atlantic. Sad, that such a valiant man could not evade his demons.

          3. The Japanese government, and in particular, the Japanese Army, had a bad case of Narrative which led them to ignore advice from people who had actually met and lived among the foreigners whose actions they were blithely predicting.

            Had Japan not attacked Pearl and involved the USA, they would still have had to deal with the British. That’s an alternate history worthy of exploration right there…

      6. See Niagara Falls tomorrow? Great Idea! Let me just check available flight times …

        You want to see the Great Smoky Mountains the next day? I can probably route your return trip through Charlotte with a puddle-jumper to Knoxville?

    5. >across the Great Plains

      A young Dwight Eisenhower was part of a convoy moving from the east coast to the west coast around WWI. It took something like three months to make it.

      Almost all roads were dirt (mud in rain), few had signs (the locals all knew where they went) and there were few maps (see preceding). He recounted the story of that trip when he signed the Interstate Highway System bills.

      1. Not really related, but…

        That for some reason reminds me of a story involving a battle that was wargamed out by the Army during the lead-up to World War 2. Eisenhower was apparently the commander on one side, and Patton was one of the unit commanders on the other. Ike woke up one morning during the mock battle, and was shocked to discover that Patton had seemingly teleported his unit to the area that his side was supposed to capture (a hill), behind Ike’s lines.

        Ike protested to the judges, and they ultimately sided with him. Patton was forced to return to his own lines.

        Later, everyone found out what had happened. During the night, Patton had taken his unit around Ike’s lines. The gas needed for the trip had been paid for out of Patton’s own pocket. His men managed to make the trip by morning (though there was apparently at least one traffic accident), and secure the position. Ike apparently hadn’t properly secured his rear area, so the first he found out about it was when Patton turned up on the hill.

      2. Patton was his XO on that little jaunt. It had a lot to do with his recommendations for armored supply tactics.

      3. My grandmother signed up to “caravan” with another young mother whose husband was in training at the same place in Texas my grandfather was at, for WWII. Only two women was a bit small for the time, but it was alright… if they could both drive… turned out the other gal couldn’t….

        Anyways, they had an epic trip up to the top of California because many of the “bridges” were two thick planks on each side of the gap. You’d push one set across, drive over, carry the ones on that side back, then drag the planks back to your own side.
        In at least one case, someone hadn’t bothered to carry the second set across the gap, so the “bridge” had all four planks on the far side of the road…..

      4. Until they started numbering highways, you didn’t’ have a map for a roadtrip. You would have a very fat guidebook that described the paths from A to B by landmarks — and blazing. Competing organizations would litter the roadside with their posts and blazes.

    6. Re: relative sizes – when I was visiting a friend in Boston, I made her roommates goggle at my casual references to driving from the ocean to the mountains in a day (was living in Oregon at the time). Out East, you can drive through as many States in the same distance as you can drive through *counties* in the West. Worse when it comes to Europe, of course; there it’s Nations.

      This also applies to economics. One of my friend’s roommates was about to graduate from college with a Sociology degree, and asked me what I thought an entry-level sociologist would make working for Oregon. I SWAGged $26 K (had recently been in negotiation for an entry level State job myself) and she was aghast. Couldn’t imagine making a life on that salary. Yet this compensation, which to her was barely above poverty-level in Boston, would have assured her a solid middle-class (if not upper so) status to her in Oregon at the time. This was, of course, before the Californication of Oregon went into full swing.

    7. As the old saw goes, 100 years in America is a long time, while 100 miles in Europe is a long distance.
      When talking to my European and UK friends, I make sure to use driving time instead of driving distance. Drives the point a whole lot better.

    8. According to Google, the driving distance between New York and LA is about the same as the distance between Lisbon and Moscow, with a much smaller culture shift between the two endpoints.

    9. Heh. Every conversation I had whilst living in Romania where they asked me where I was from came around to trying to explain the size of the US. At that time, the family was living in Denver, so I claimed that as ‘home.’ Invariably, I would be asked “Is that close to New York City? Or Los Angeles?” and I would have to explain that, no, from Denver to LA or NYC would be like from here (ie, where we were in Romania) to Paris or something like that. Their eyes always got very big and the responses were always somewhat stunned. That was my first realization that non-Americans hadn’t got a clue just how big the US really was.

      And then, returning to university when I got back and interacting with various foreign students, it was pretty much the same thing. Even the ones from China–arguably just as impressively huge–were amazed. (I finally realized that this was because, while China IS very large, they did not have the ability to do something like just drive across it for the fun of it.) Many of them had eager plans for a coast-to-coast road trip before they returned home, just so they could convey the sheer size, the different landscapes (which some thought even cooler than the size of it all) and all the other neat stuff to the folks back home.

  7. Well, “socially tolerant/economically conservative” will be something new. I would think anger and rage for a week would be enough, but if they are getting paid for it, well at least they are working at something.
    I’m hoping we are in what Instapundit calls a preference cascade. People are realizing that the crazy offended screamers are in the minority, and most people, like themselves, aren’t really offended by occasional lapses of good manners, especially in private.

  8. A few hundred name calling incidents, or spray painted nonsense? Background noise.

    The wonder of MSM attention, eh? A couple dozen “Pro-Choice” protesters make the nightly newscasts and front pages in tightly focused pictures so they appear a mass, while a hundred thousand Marchers For Life get ignored or dismissed as a “fringe” group. Or, to belabor the obvious, compare and contrast the coverage of the TEA Party rallies with the OWS Camp-Ins. The MSM power to normalize the outré and be outraged by the normal was on full display there.

    Remember: Movements in the Media may be larger (or smaller) than they appear. Seek independent confirmation from trusted sources, and check your sources regularly. Except me. Me you can always trust.

    1. Remember back in 1995 the howls of outrage when Parks officials estimated that the “Million Man March” was less than half the target number? The MSM really played it up as a significant event in American History, but 14 years later when the Tea party folks assembled considerably more than a million folks in DC, it was a total non-event by a bunch of racist hicks?

      1. Welllll … when the TEA Party folks assembled they didn’t leave a mountain of trash in their wake, so does it really count?

        1. Ah! They didn’t leave any work for the unionized city trash collectors to do!

          That’s what the problem was!

  9. We get two months near vacation while we wait to have more than hype to work off of.

  10. Actually, I am reading a book: I’m halfway through Through Fire, and so far I’m liking it. It reads like a collaboration between Robert Heinlein and Victor Hugo, if Heinlein had gotten that time machine working. It’s a funny thing how one turns for respite from the scary real world to a scary imagined future, isn’t it?

    1. Last week I was joking that I should read something light and uplifting, like Warhammer 40K.

        1. No shit. The first season of Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans was outright light and uplifting compared to following the events of this campaign season. This a show that starts off showing the teenaged main character standing in blood pooling from people he has killed.

      1. LOL! I’m currently reading “Designing Vacuum Tube Amplifiers and Related Topics”. Now that you’ve said it, by comparison it DOES seem light and uplifting… and a little amplifying (if you’ll excuse the lame joke), after the last few weeks.

        1. I’ve got a 20watt bass amp in the works myself- just need a few more parts to get it going.

  11. …when the price of speaking is real danger to your job…

    We came close with GrubHub’s CEO and founder Matt Maloney … and the back fire is now burning him.

    Maloney has posted on the GrubHub site claiming he did not ask anyone to resign if they voted for Trump — which is technically true — but read the full original email for yourself:

    I’m still trying to reconcile my own worldview with the overwhelming message that was delivered last night. Clearly there are a lot of people angry and scared as the antithesis of every modern presidential candidate won and will be our next president.

    While demeaning, insulting and ridiculing minorities, immigrants and the physically/mentally disabled worked for Mr. Trump, I want to be clear that this behavior – and these views, have no place at Grubhub. Had he worked here, many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination.

    We have worked for years cultivating a culture of support and inclusiveness. I firmly believe that we must bring together different perspectives to continue innovating – including all genders, races, ethnicities and sexual, cultural or ideological preferences. We are better, faster and stronger together.

    Further I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can. As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States.

    If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team. I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what’s right is worth it.

    1. Did anyone tell him that they objected to the pro-immigrant xenophilia demonstrated by Trump’s actions?

    2. As long as he remains CEO I will not patronize restaurants that use GrubHub. I don’t use the service but many of my lunch places do use it. I am letting them know it costs my business.

      1. I’m still putting together the figures for some of mine, but the process has begun. Because I did use them. A lot. And would have continued.

    3. Yeah, their deflection attempt kind of failed. Especially when they posted a copy of the e-mail, thinking that saying “we didn’t ask Trump voters to resign” makes it all okay.

    4. I wonder if anyone responded to him by pointing out the inconsistency of claiming that he wants to bring together “all … ideological preferences” while excluding the ideological preference he doesn’t like.

      1. Not just tech — IT security. Hopefully their name will go on the government’s “Do Not Use” list.

            1. I believe that only applies to a Democrat president. Given the number of people declaring “Trump is not my president” it may only apply when you accept/acknowledge him as president.

              Surely it cannot apply to a president elected by a popular minority through the corrupt rigged Electoral College?

                1. I believe there may be laws against such harassment.

                  In some areas I would not be confident of getting a jury to convict on a charge of lynching when those people voluntarily stuck their heads in those nooses and jumped off those branches.

                  You never can tell what them wild-ass Progressives will do; are you aware that many of them fake “hate” assaults on themselves?

  12. We had a demonstration in Colorado Springs Sunday evening. Not a riot, the Springs being the Springs, they just marched up the sidewalk with signs shouting, then marched down the sidewalk with signs shouting.

      1. I don’t think it was in your region, but yesterday I read an article (at Washington Examiner, IIRC, but cannot locate it now) about the EPA having drilled a well to “prove” fracking was contaminating ground water, and before long there was a distinct noxious smell and sludge in the local water systems … found to be attributable to the EPA’s having done an improper job of drilling their well and contaminating the water of others.

        Apparently they failed to install proper filters and contaminated the well with biological wastes.

        Shocking, I know.

          1. I don’t know if this was the basis for the story I read; the version I read isn’t turning up where I’ve sought for it to be. 😦

            “Close the books” on the fracking contaminates ground water myth
            POSTED AT 8:31 PM ON NOVEMBER 12, 2016 BY JAZZ SHAW

            In some of the biggest news which will not come as “news” to anyone who follows the industry, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality concluded a two year study this week into reports of ground water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming. There had been reports of “foul smelling water” in two test wells drilled by the EPA near one of the many drilling sites in the gas field half a decade ago. The initial EPA report which was ready to blame fracking for the contamination immediately came under heavy criticism in the scientific community and was never released. Still the Wyoming DEQ went ahead with this extensive investigation. Their conclusion? There was no contamination of the ground water from the drilling sites and the EPA most likely caused the problem themselves. (Associated Press)

            A final state report released Thursday on foul-smelling well water in Wyoming contradicts an EPA report from five years ago that ignited a national backlash when it suggested hydraulic fracturing was the cause of the contamination.

            Bacteria were more likely to blame for the problem in Pavillion than the oil and gas drilling process known as fracking, officials with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality said after a two-year study that was hailed by fracking advocates.

            “Today’s announcement from the Wyoming DEQ doesn’t just close the case on Pavillion, it’s a knockout blow for activists who have tried to use Pavillion as a key talking point for their ban-fracking agenda,” said Randy Hildreth, Colorado director of Energy in Depth, an advocacy arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

            The AP story really doesn’t go into the level of detail we need to fully grasp what a debacle this is for the EPA. To get those sorts of facts you’ll want to see the analysis – complete with photos – over at Energy Indepth. Since the contaminants found in the test wells didn’t match anything going into the ground at the fracking site, the DEQ finally sent a camera down into the wells. What do you suppose they found? First of all, the EPA well was drilled in a defective fashion. The artificial materials in the well almost certainly came from the drilling process when the EPA dug the wells.

            Second, the junk they allowed in there clogged the screens down at the base of the well. This allowed stagnant, standing water to build up at the bottom and it became infested with bacteria and biological agents. (As happens with any stagnant pools of water.) The bacterial infestation was what was causing the smell. The origin of the problem the EPA has been complaining about since 2011 was almost certainly caused by… you guessed it… the EPA
            — — —
            Use embedded link to go to Hot Air and RTWT. Nice additional links embedded in the story.

        1. Ugh.

          Fire them all for gross incompetence, and see if anyone notices that they’re gone.

          … I mean, I’m sure that there’s a function for the agency, like taking environmental quality surveys before a building goes up, so they know what “pollution” for a given area actually looks like…. And clean air, clean water and clean soil are good things, but…

  13. “1. our country is fricking enormous. NO ONE in Europe gets just how big, and neither does, apparently, our coastal elite.”
    You’re very right, people who live on the East Coast generally don’t get it. I live in California, and I can tell you stories. One woman from New York was visiting San Diego for a week and wanted to see Catalina, San Francisco and Yosemite as well as our local attractions. Had to explain to her that going from San Diego to San Francisco was like going from New York to Atlanta. I’ve been to some 37 states, most everything except the Northeast and Alaska. Flying from one coast to the other doesn’t count. It’s the equivalent of the transporter. That old New Yorker cartoon map is really true.
    And if you want to really make someone go “Hmmm” ask them what the 3rd most populous country in the world is. Sarah, you might even see their “shocked face.”

    1. It would sure open their eyes if they ever made a road trip across the US. I’ve driven to every part of the US except for Hawaii, Alaska, and New England.

      Being originally from West Texas, I still measure driving distances in hours instead of miles……

      1. Living in LA County, I measure distances by time instead of miles instead. But I suspect I do so for a very different reason.


        1. We measure distance by time in Idaho as well.

          Stepson lives in Liberia. We had a rather interesting conversation a few nights ago when I told him that for me to visit his aunt in NYC is like him going to Uganda. We’ve done it: drove for five days each way, but it’s not something you do casually.

          I’m not sure anyone but Canadians really can grok how big the USA is without coming here, since some of our own don’t get it. I mean, it’s an eleven hour drive if I wanted to go visit Bearcat, and we live in the same state.

          1. There was a little paragraph in my 5th grade geography book that state the following:
            Amarillo is closer to Chicago than it is to Brownsville, Brownsville is closer to Mexico City than it is to Amarillo. Texarkana is closer to Tallahassee than it is to El Paso, El Paso is closer to Los Angeles than it is to Texarkana.

            1. And Austin is closer to Berkeley than it is to the rest of Texas… but that’s social studies, not geography.

              1. How are you determining “closer”? Based upon Google Earth I’m showing an Amarillo-Austin straight line distance of about 415 miles, while Topeka and Cheyenne are at about 430 and 440.

          2. The Aussies would- Oz is also pretty huge, and it also can be hard to grok the scale even for us Yanks.

            1. …and emptier than the maps would suggest. Australia is in fact one of the more highly urbanized countries, with the bulk of its population in a half-dozen major cities.

            1. There is a scene early on in Quigley Down Under in which Matthew Quigley asks if the ranch is far off and is informed “We’ve been on it three days now.”

              Does that sorta convey the scale?

                1. In Silver Streak there is a scene (unavailable) where the protagonist (Wilder) catches a ride into town from a rancher, only to discover she is flying a small plane as the most practical means of getting about.

        2. We used time in preference to distance all the time when I was growing up in L.A. County.

          The time to travel most any given route depended greatly on the day of the week and time of day.

      2. As to driving, much of mine was done riding in the back of my parents’ vehicles. My wife points out that travel by car or even train is a very different experience rather than just getting on and off a plane. For folks who think Route 66 is a quaint tune with inexplicable lyrics, I recommend the old TV show of the same name. Also the TV series The Fugitive. Relics from when Hollywood had writers and directors more geographically literate about this country of ours.

        1. I recall an ep of Rt 66 which was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off of 66–they went to Astoria OR, at the mouth of the Columbia River. To help crew a fishing boat (needed money, they did).

        2. A friend took a cross-country train trip via Amtrak. It was not at all like what he had expected, particularly the nearly-continuous PA system cranked to “11” which he figured was causing permanent hearing loss.

          He also noted that most of the passengers were angry, either from being deafened by the PA system, or from being foreigners upset that the train didn’t operate like the ones they were used to back home.

          1. Idiots in DC keep imagining that Amtrak can run East-West or in Flyover Country the same way it does in the BosWash corridor.

            I actually wouldn’t mind, were it only their money they’re spending.

          2. My wife took a transcontinental train trip back in the 80’s. She said there was a remarkable difference in the attitude of Amtrak’s personnel for the worse once the trains left the Chicago (she was heading west).

      3. In places in the Appalachians, hours not miles is pretty darned useful, too. I’ve spent ten hours to go a bit less than two hundred miles as the crow flies. Coal country has some “interesting” routes if you’re driving a commercial truck all over and back again.

        1. Did a trip to West (by golly) Virginia and slept the night in Kanawah State Park just outside of Charleston. Next morning, needed a bigger tent in a rush . . . GPS Walmart.
          5 miles, and 7 miles.
          click 5 mile one for directions. 11 mile ride. The 7 miles was near 14 but in the wrong direction for me. about 25 minutes it took too because the roads are slow speed and very twisty

        2. The distance from my house to my folks’ house is 125 miles.

          in BC times, that was about five hours of driving. (Before Children.)

          It’s something like 30 miles to the nearest McD’s. And 70 minutes.

      4. I’ve crossed country several times. Telling people there are interstate exits onto dirt roads in the west gets me the “You’re kidding” looks. But they’re there. This last trip through Kansas coming back from Colorado I started estimating about how many very expensive tax subsidized windmills I saw. I got to well over a thousand. Less then 10% were turning, and I don’t think any one of the multi-megawatt turbines was turning fast enough to power a single household appliance.Also I was reminded by seeing them that there are oil wells in Kansas, a lot of them. Pumping 24/7/365. You can see them from the interstate as you drive along. A lot more consistent then the wind turbines.

        I’ve also told people if they’re travelling out west if they see a sign that says “Last gas for X miles”, check their tank and make sure they have enough gas to X miles. Because the sign isn’t kidding. Back when we were younger my wife and thought we’d take a U.S. route rather then the interstate to our destination in order to get some different scenery. Exited off the interstate, and the X was several miles longer then I’d ever gone between fill-ups. We got back on the interstate. A 5 gallon gas container would have been enough extra, but we didn’t have one…

        1. Telling people there are interstate exits onto dirt roads in the west gets me the “You’re kidding” looks.

          Heh. When I was writing “Big Blue” I had difficulty finding a road long enough, straight enough, and wide enough to let a C-130 land and take off again in the general area of where I had things happening. And it was so marginal that I had to make a point of just how good my pilot was.

        2. I’ve crossed country several times. Telling people there are interstate exits onto dirt roads in the west gets me the “You’re kidding” looks.

          A while back, a good-sized chunk of the family (including my parents, some of my siblings, and their wives) were heading back to SoCal from out of state. My brother’s car had a sudden blowout. His car was in front of everyone else, so he told us which exit he was closest to.

          The car I was in was next in line, so to speak (but there was a lot of distance between all of us), so we looked for the exit. And we found the exit, but couldn’t find any sign of him. Finally we gave up, let everyone know that we couldn’t find him, and started driving down the highway.

          And then, several miles further down the highway, we found an exit with the EXACT SAME NAME. And my brother.

          1. Arkansas DOT is fond of putting up “EXIT ONLY” signs on the freeway. Nobody knows what they mean.

            They’re not some kind of strange bidirectional ramp; they work just like ordinary off-ramps.

            They don’t mean “LANE ENDS” because sometimes the lane keeps going.

            They don’t mean “you can get off but there’s no way back on” because about half of them cross an intersection and turn back into an on-ramp.

            The signs don’t show up in the ARDOT driving manual where it shows all the different road signs.


        3. Heck, that concept was one of the starting points for the Adelsverein Trilogy! After we came back from living in Europe for almost eleven years. I got assigned to Hill AFB in Utah. We went to visit my parents in northern San Diego County for a couple of weeks, then hit the I-15 north (in a station wagon borrowed from my parents, as my own car hadn’t been delivered yet.) Driving north of a little town called Beaver – there was a sign that the next gas station was about fifty miles away. I thought about how my European neighbors in Greece and Spain would have absolutely freaked at that. We went all over Europe – camped in the summer, saw the sights everywhere – and I don’t think I was ever more than about three miles from a gas station, unless it was in the southern part of Spain called Extremadura. Came over a hill in the Great Basin area, and there was nothing in sight man-made save for the highway and the powerlines. No castle ruins on the hilltop, no little village crumbling away on another. No sheepfolds, or dry-stone enclosures … just nothing but empty country and the sky.
          I thought about how terribly empty the west would have seemed to some 19th century immigrant, stumbling off the boat from Southhampton or Hamburg … and looking at the Great Plains ,,, Utah, the basin of the Rockies … all that emptiness.
          And of course, it is still pretty empty, And perhaps only Russians are able to wrap their heads around that.

          1. I’m not interested in doing the math, but I would venture a guess that we have national parks (in the lower 48) bigger than a great many European countries.

            Welllll … lessee what Google turns up…

            Yellowstone: 3,468 square miles
            Death Valley: 5,270 square miles


            37) Slovenia: 7,827 square miles
            38) Cyprus:3,571 square miles
            39) Luxembourg: 998 square miles
            40) Andorra: 181 square miles
            41) Malta: 122 square miles
            42) Liechtenstein: 62 square miles

            Okay – but take a look at Alaska, which holds 7 of our ten largest parks.

            Hmmmm … let’s look at protected areas/monuments in the US:

            As of 2015, the 25,800 protected areas covered 499,800 sq mi, or 14 percent of the land area of the United States. This is also one-tenth of the protected land area of the world. The U.S. also had a total of 787 National Marine Protected Areas, covering an additional 490,893 sq mi, or 12 percent of the total marine area of the United States.
            Wiki: Protected_areas_of_the_United_States

            1) Russia: 6,592,771 square miles
            2) Turkey: 302,535 square miles
            3) Ukraine: 233,090 square miles
            4) France: 211,209 square miles
            5) Spain: 194,897 square miles
            6) Sweden: 173,732 square miles
            7) Germany: 137,846 square miles
            8) Finland: 130,674 square miles
            9) Norway:125,182 square miles
            10) Poland: 120,728 square miles

            So, we’ve “banked” more idle land than the second through fifth sixth largest nations in Europe combined?

            1. Protected US lands are equivalent to about the the second and third largest European countries combined. The “marine areas” are largely if not entirely water – I’m not totally clear if small islands and adjacent coastal areas are included in that count.

              1. Yeah – I wasn’t sure whether, say, Germany’s square miles included lakes, although Lake Constance (Bodensee) only occupies 220 square miles (surface area; volume is 12 cubic miles), slightly smaller than the least of the Great Lakes, Erie (9,910 square miles, s.a., 116 cubic miles).

        4. Not quite that, but I do know that if you take an exit from I-90 around Sioux Falls (easternmost exit, as I recall) and go north, the paved road ends rather abruptly – just not immediately. Another road/street in the area is nice across town and to the airport. Go the other way and… well, it has signs it had been paved, once upon a time.

      5. A friend’s wife is from a Carribean country smaller than the county they live in now. He had to make a trip from Tennessee to Arizona to go to a tech school; she decided to go along.

        They drove. He said that as they entered the third day still headed west, she was nearing a state of shock… she had traveled all over the US and Canada by airplane, but all she saw were airports and cities. It had never really sunk in that there was a lot of space in between the urban hamster hills.

        1. I’ve read tales of the Westward Migrants, travelling twenty mile on a good day, and how they would see those Western mountains ahead of their wagons and never getting closer, day after day after day.

          That’s when I go to my knees and give thanks to Him above that I was born in an era of relatively fast travel.

          People who fret over the time for a round trip to Mars need to look at the standard travel times were 300 years ago, or look at how long many of those whaling ships were out of port.

          1. There was a whole generation that watched the change from animal-drawn wagons and steam trains to supersonic aircraft.

            There were people who were old enough to remember when the Wright brothers made their first flight in 1903, who watched the moon landing in 1969.

            Alvin Toffler wrote a book called “Future Shock” in 1970. It seems quaint today, but the rate of progress throughout the 20th century was a historical anomaly. If you look at chemistry, physics, engineering, medicine… what happened before 1900 is just a blip. Politically… kings, empires, and serfdom, the basic social structure of most of human history, have been replaced by (theoretically, anyway) governments by the populace.

            The 20th century was a step change; there is no time in recorded history that so much happened so fast.

            And even if it were all to vanish tomorrow, our junk cars and gum wrappers litter the moon, we’ve left tire tracks all over Mars, and Voyager 1 is 135 A.U. out, heading more or less toward Ophiuchus.

              1. I’ve wondered that the boffins of WWII would have thought about a time traveler. Say, a motorcyclist from the early 21st century, who didn’t survive the experience.

                The corpse wouldn’t necessarily be white, and he might have the kind of body art normally seen in freak shows. And everything he brought with him – the motorcycle, his clothing, odd pieces of electronic equipment – is marked as being made in Japan or other parts of Asia.

                I could see them getting a pretty scary picture of their future…

                1. The 1960 or so Hugo or Nebula collection had a foreword pointing out just how utterly fantastic a device from 1960 would seem in 1930. And I had one grandmother, born in 1913, who grew up with fetching wood and water for cooking and bathing… and eventually traveled by jet.

                2. Make him half Samoan or similar, so combined with the “made in Japan” and “made in China” stuff he looked like he’s a giant Japanese guy. (yeah, a group of military pilots would have someone that’s familiar with the population of Hawaii, but as long as he didn’t have any tattoos that pointed that way the other suggestions might keep them from making the connection)

                  Do modern bikes have electronic brains like cars do?

              2. A goodly portion of that leap was simply development of the internal combustion engine or, if you insist on extending it to the Saturn V, to mastering the chemistry of energy generation.

        1. My muse sent me, as is her wont, the following tidbit:

          The highway sings a thrilling song of rubber, oil, and gas;
          A siren song that calls to many a young lad or lass.

          I have yet to work it up, but it’s still on the to-do list.

    2. Let’s see, six or seven billion across maybe two hundred countries. China is a billion and a third, and India a billion, IIRC. That’d leave four to five billion across over a hundred nations and six and a half continents. Antarctica and Australia are pretty simple. Australia has 25 million (which was my guess, but I had probably seen the numbers recently), and Antarctica many fewer. So pretty much the same, across four and half continents. Excepting Russia (the Asian half of which is pretty empty) and North America, the remainder is split up into a lot of small bits. The USA has a large chunk of North America, and Canada has a significant low pop. due to cold factor. So it makes sense that America’s third of a billion might be up in the rankings.

    3. And they might even be more shocked by the numbers:
      China, 2016 approximately 1,379,880,000
      India, 2016 approximately 1,330,780,000
      USA, 2016 approximately 323,993,000.

      1. Some numbers are more reliable than others.

        In spite of rules to the contrary, the US Census contains considerable fudge factor.

        1. I used to think they were pretty accurate, until I learned that they’d moved from a true count to “sampling.”

          Interestingly, different Federal agencies use different numbers for US population. They don’t trust the census either, I guess.

          1. I know that sampling was discussed, but I thought they had stuck with counting, although some people always said the count was off. (I almost have a dog in this fight since I was an enumerator (the person that came by your house) in the 2000 census. We went by every house then in the blocks that I worked.

            1. The ‘undercounting’ adjustments would be applied on top of the numbers you got.

              They were very open about how they were trying to include illegals, after all, and it’s not like that nice Miss Lopez is going to say “yes, I’ve got 15 people living in this three bedroom apartment.”

          2. As I understand it, the numbers used for Congressional representation have to be actual counts. Article I Section 2 of the Constitution states that the “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” I can’t recall if the actual count requirement comes from constitutional interpretation, or compliance with law(s) set by Congress pursuant to the Constitution.

            1. The US Census Bureau generates two broad classes of population numbers. There’s the enumeration, i.e. head count, used for Congressional apportionment every 10 years and there are several estimates generated from the enumeration with different means to estimate the uncounted population and the effects of population change over the course of the decade.

              1. About those estimates:

                Have seen some that were seriously off, then realized what had happened: Those were counties that had gotten prisons during that period, which made it look like they had a population boom, and they made their estimates accordingly.

                Was also not impressed by the hardware fiasco during the last census. The US Census Bureau spent a large amount of money developing a handheld system that was notorious for being buggy. Meanwhile, there were companies that already made such handhelds: They were for meter reading in all types of utilities, and some would customize their units. And those units worked.

                1. NY Post business columnist John Crudele has been reporting for several years about whistle-blower reports coming his way about Census fudging the number for employment. Apparently some workers (most notably in Philadelphia, PA, have had trouble making their weekly interview quotas and were instructed by their supervisors to just “fill out” enough forms to reach quota. Shortfalls have run 15 – 20% on a routine basis.

                  Similar shenanigans have been reported at something like 80% of regional census offices.

                  I first started reading Crudele back during the Clinton Administration when he was doing some very interesting reporting on stock market rigging by Treasury, using options (and financially endowed “friends” >coughGolmanSachscough< to prop up the market when a collapse seemed imminent. Scroll down his archive to a Census article, then click the "Census" tag at the bottom for related items, or just read your way through as time allows.

                    1. Directly, it does absolutely nothing to the Electoral College. That misconduct was part of ongoing employment data gather by the Census Bureau, not the decadal enumeration Constitutionally required for representation purposes. It may cause some inaccuracy in some employment numbers, and may cause one to wonder if misconduct occurred during the census proper. However, the decadal census relies far more upon the forms completed by the citizenry than upon weekly field interviews.

    4. The aphorism I ran across a number of years ago is, “In the United States, two hundred years is a long time. In Europe, two hundred miles is a long way.”

  14. Sarah, I ran this by you a while ago before it was finished, but now I think it’s ready for some review and critique. Would you mind if I post it here (it’s longish) or if I sent it to you for review first? For everyone else, here’s the set-up:

    I was posting to a forum a while ago, trying my best not to get drawn into the perpetual flame wars of the Trumpenfaithful vs. the NeverTrumpers. One of the Trumpers called us (the NeverTrumpers) “leaderless malcontents” after Ted Cruz endorsed Trump, which I took to heart. Yes, I glory in not being led, but thinking and deciding for myself. And malcontent? Damned straight! If you’re not malcontented with the choice in front of you today, there’s something WRONG with you!

    Then I had this idea:

    ‘You know, that may be the beginning of a way to revitalize the conservative movement. There are many malcontented people in the country today, but who feel they have no place to go that represents them. If we can present our philosophy to them, separate from the label “conservative” which both the Dems and the GOP have fairly successfully painted as distasteful, we may be able to grow up a new cohort of liberty-minded individualists. The “malcontents” I’m talking about are those quiet people (of all races and ethnicities, not just those we’ve previously thought of as fruitful ground for conservatives) who feel that there’s no one and no group who represents their beliefs, desires, and hopes for the future. They are the ones we need to find and welcome. It bears some thinking about.

    ‘I’m saying, let’s get back to our original principles. Let’s drop all the political terminology, the dogma we’ve acquired over the years, and try to engage the people looking for something to believe in, some way out of the malaise the left has imposed on the country. Let’s try to build a positive spirit of individualism, of ability, of responsibility for our rights and those of others. Let’s give those people something to believe in, not just railing at those who try to hold them back.’

    I’ve started writing up a statement of belief, something of a foundational document for this concept. As I said at the beginning, this document is ready for critique, and I’d like to present it to the folks here with our padrona’s permission.

  15. ‘If they take it further, this is why we have a second amendment.’

    I had to chuckle here. The inimitable Mr. Correia gave a very nice seminar on the 2nd Amend on his site the other day. Well worth the read. 🙂

  16. b) make sure you get union rates, because half the people around you are getting them.

    You know, this pay period has been kinda tight and the wife thought of going to one anyway…

    As for the country being big here is an example of size for those not cognizant of it.

    The largest ground theater of WWII was the Eastern front. It’s widest was roughly St. Petersburg to Volgograd. That is 960 miles. At its deepest was Berlin to Moscow. That is 1000 miles.

    The major theaters of the US Civil War at their widest was Richmond to Kansas City (a roughly same latitude proxy for the Mississippi River). That is 935 miles. The deepest was roughly Indianapolis (same longitude proxy to Gettysburg) to Pensacola, FL. That is 650 miles.

    The vastness of the Eastern Front, covering the European portion of Russia, is less than twice the size of the area in the US the Civil War was fought over.

    The US is over 99% the area of China and over 95% the area of Canada. We are the third most populous nation on the planet (although the gap between us and number two is over a factor of 4).

    1. The US is over 99% the area of China and over 95% the area of Canada.

      Yeah, but …

      Just wanted an excuse to put that on.

        1. But honestly, would you want to share Mother Russia with Lena, let alone “only” Canada?

            1. I remember a story in Analog about “All the Beer on Mars” from the late 80s/early 90s (the astronauts on the first Mars mission had taken to making their own although that was just background to them thinking they discovered widespread life on Mars).

    2. Somewhere I saw some figures of Canadian population vs. their distance from their southern border.

      Canada is just a narrow strip, population-wise. It’s sort of like Russia; it looks big on the map, but most of it is uninhabitable.

      1. But remember: over 90% of our populace lives within a mere hundred miles of the longest undefended border in the world! If we wanted to, we could SWAMP your petty little border posts!

        …of course that would require a motivation strong enough to overcome our kneejerk obsequiousness and our dislike of any activity more athletic than hockey. Hell, just buy us all free Tim Horton’s donuts for life; cheapest Danegeld in history, man.

        1. A friend went through the Berlin Wall several times, back when the Deutsche Democratic Republic still existed.

          He said the modern TSA/CBP harassment at the border is far worse than the Communist goons at Checkpoint Charlie.

          1. Agreed.
            I served in Berlin between 80 and 83. They had geat Ice Cream in East Berlin for some reason or another, but Check Point Charlie was a “Pain In The A$$.”

            I quit flying commercial about 10 years ago because of the TSA if I had to make a trip that took less than 5 hours via automobile.

            I never was “groped” by the VOLPO’s or Soviets like I was by the “Security Theater” TSA. “F”-um where they breath!

        2. *echo-y voice* You made a mistake… in thinking the border posts were there for our protection, rather than yours….

          Slightly more serious: that dang border is pretty dang nasty about defending itself rather effectively, at least in our area.

          1. East of the Rockies its more or less just a line on a map, with the occasional crossing post. There’s usually only a short stretch of fence to either side of the border posts, more to keep the honest honest if the post is closed than as a serious deterrent.

            1. Well, I crossed into Canada and didn’t see a fence or border post!

              Of course, I was on a boy scout canoe camping trip in Northern Wisconsin in the “back country” along the border. 😉

              Note, this was sometime before 1972 as I hadn’t graduated from High School. 😀

              1. Ouch!

                That canoe trip was out of Ely, Minnesota so it was Northern Minnesota not Wisconsin. :embarrassed:

              2. Generally speaking, you won’t see any fence or border post if there’s not a road there – and the fences I saw only extended perhaps a few hundred feet to either side of the crossing post. The Glacier-Waterton backcountry crossing station is one of the exceptions.

        3. That piddling 36M people wouldn’t even double our illegal immigrant population. Heck, we accommodate nearly that many of you in Myrtle Beach every winter.

          1. And most of them already speak something resembling English. It is certainly closer to English than what those fools in England claim is English at least 🙂

            1. What?! Everyone knows French comes first in Canada! Disdain to the Anglophone oppressors!

              I picked up a fresh box of Remington ammunition the other day. The package was bilingual. Practically every retail package seems to be nowadays… but I was moderately astonished to see the text was English/French, not English/Spanish.

        4. Danegeld… Taking it literally, that means you’re paying money to geld the Danes. Cutting their balls off so they won’t f*ck you raw. (Sorry…it’s late and I’ve been drinking.) History and language are so…rough…sometimes.

  17. And unless you go looking, and turn over the right electronic rocks, you don’t see what is going on in Europe. Yes, we have our crazies and whiners. They’ve got stuff that makes 99% of the angry college kids look as ferocious as my cat at feeding time.

    1. Unless I am mistaken (and under Obama’s DOJ guidelines we may have caught up on this European innovation), while our ghettos are bad, they are nothing like the banlieues where French police will not go. Nor are the rape cultures on our college campuses anything like those in Rotherham (where police averted their gazes from British Asians who did not have yellow flesh, epicanthic folds or even amusing Indian-English accents) not Stockholm (where attending music festivals has recently become more exciting than anticipated) nor several German cities, such as Cologne and Hamburg, where the Chancellor advises young women to go in groups and maintain an arm length’s distance from “certain” men.

      1. We don’t have nightly car-b-cues (yet), and we don’t have entire cities that are no-go day or night for female locals (yet). Or vacation towns that are being abandoned by tourists because 250 “youths” in the downtown area. And we as of yet don’t have the federal government ordering police not to report crimes where the alleged perpetrator doesn’t make it to court (Gatestone Institute guess based on local non-governmental sources is that the German assault/petty crime/sexual assault rate is at least 1/4 more than official reports nationally, probably even higher in some districts.)

    2. One reason explains a lot of that, in two ways.

      One, anybody might fight back, effectively. (We haz guns.)
      Two, sometimes they do. Both the law-abiding, and other criminals; since the violent are disproportionately likely to be killed (guns vs muscle-based weapons mean that rival criminals are more likely to kill each other rather than just fight, especially since a victim is less likely to be able to effectively fight back) their violent career ends relatively quickly. It doesn’t have to be a very high rate of the habitually violent to reduce the violence rate.

  18. “socially tolerant/economically conservative”

    That actually sounds pretty good to me. Although, I would have to add Pro-Liberty and Small Government into the mix. Arguably, Small Government is part and parcel to the other three (particularly economically conservative), but I know too many people who would take up that argument to leave it unsaid.

  19. Stuart the Viking @1:56:

    I am a proponent of Limited rather than Small Government. A small government that interferes in important things would be pretty bad. A government that does a lot of defending us from foreign invasion (Limited) not so much. Just something to think about.

    1. Ah very well. Usually I use “Small Government staying out of the lives of the people”, but that’s just too many words to type over and over again.

      Other than wording, I think we pretty much agree.

      1. We’ve had some folks of late (deliberately?) misunderstanding the basic phrasing “small gov’t” in standard use, where it means “of limited scope.”

        Dictatorships are quite small, after all…. checks and balances take up a lot of personnel.

  20. No, I’m worried about our international image and also, to be honest about our more ignorant, backwards, incapable of thought co-citizens — in other words, those indoctrinated in the most prestigious universities in the country — because both foreigners and glitteratti seem to be blissfully unaware of a) reality b) that they’ve been spun and c) about the SIZE of our magnificent beast of a country.

    Country, hell, our cities.

    I’ve got to pick up a relative for Thanksgiving, in a city where there’s been riots.

    So I went and checked places they’ve been rioting, and if they could reasonably interfere. No, not unless they’re going to be walking a lot further than they have been. (And deal with airport security, which does NOT have idiot mayors going “oh, no, no, hands off.”)

    1. No mayor or local PD would ever let any rioting anywhere near their airport. The downtown area glass smashing only hurts small businesses and individuals; allowing damage to a major airport impacts major local money, and the local pols would definitely feel local money’s response come the next fundraising season. They’d phone up the governor and call out the National Guard before they let that happen.

      If you ever see the international airport involved in ‘civil disturbances’ you can be confident that a full scale rebellion is underway.

      1. Portland let the Thanksgiving time rioters shut down the port, and block access to the airport, a year or three back.

        I believe that involved the Teamsters, but still.

  21. I’m no fan of Trump, but anything that makes Progressives completely freak out is a Good Thing in my book, so I’ve been enjoying the past few days and look forward to the next four years. Though if the latest attack from CNN is any guide I may be disappointed.

    According to the most reliable source of James Earl Jones’ voice on cable, Mike Pence is himself ensnared in an email scaldal after having the temerity to criticise Her Loserness. It seems that some fellow in Indiana asked to see some of the governor’s emails. His office dutifully sent them along, but omitted a white paper that was an attachment to one of the emails, claiming that the white paper was protected by attorney-client privilege. This guy has now sued to get a copy of the paper. That’s it, that’s the scandal. The emails and white paper exist, to my knowledge they are still housed on government servers, and no classified information was mishandled. Totally the same as what the racists have accused the First Woman President of doing.

  22. My main concern with Trump is that I really have no idea what to expect. I’ve looked through his new website and it’s the usual vague stuff that politicians always spew. Even the stuff that sounds good could end up being horrible if done the wrong way.

    My biggest fear is that the Republicans will piss away the next 2 years and do lots of stupid shit which will let the Dems will start making up for some of their loses.

    1. Oh, I think the Republicans are already hard at work.

      Remember, the Republican Party, by and large, hates Trump’s guts. They just hated Hillary worse.

        1. Three of them are.

          It’s not clear yet whether the rest of the Republican congresscritters are prepared to go that far, though.

        2. Yeah, one of them an idjit from Houston; he’s already been informed that I can drive down to work for his primary opponent if he makes it necessary.

    2. Especially considering that the Republicans could do a lot of damage to the Progressive cause without riling up many people. Eliminating baseline budgeting so that the Progs can’t say the Republicans are cutting spending even when more money gets shoveled into the bureaucracy, shortening the CBO forcast horizon so that most of the advertised spending cuts can’t be pushed to the out years where they never materialize, and requiring all changes to the CFR must be approved by Congress would make it much harder for government to grow “naturally” and it would be very hard to work up a lot of popular opposition.

      1. If they can just stick to putting some hurt on ‘progressive’ causes it’s all to the good. It’ll depend on if they remember they are vertebrate and have the spine to stand in the face of a media that will be accusing them of making Grandma eat cat food for every spending cut. Hell, they won’t even have to do anything for the media to do that.

        I’d love to see over the next 4 years the Left’s claims that the ‘science is settled’ on global warming bite them in the ass. It’s even an easy strategy. Since the science is settled there isn’t any point in funding further research! Imagining the looks on their faces at that statement. . .I admit to getting a bit of the giggles 🙂

    1. Yep, we have such a serious race problem that they need to manufacture events! Like that gay guy saying Whole Foods of all places wouldn’t make his wedding cake.

  23. Americans! Know thy world– countries listed alphabetically, followed by things to compare them to for size.
    Afghanistan is almost the size of Texas. Albania is about the size of Hawaii. Algeria is not quite four times bigger than Texas. Andorra is the size of Huntsville, Alabama. Angola is about three times the size of California. Antigua and Barbuda is slightly smaller than Huntsville, Alabama. Argentina is one-third the size of the United States. Armenia is slightly bigger than Massachusetts. Australia is approximately the size of the United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). Austria is slightly smaller than Maine. Azerbaijan is slightly larger than South Carolina.

    1. Part 2, M-Z.
      Macedonia is slightly larger than Vermont. Madagascar is twice the size of Arizona. Malawi is about the size of Pennsylvania. Malaysia is almost twice the size of Wisconsin. Maldives is about the size of Little Rock, Arkansas. Mali is four-fifths the size of Alaska. Malta: the five Maltese islands (Malta, Gozo, Comino, Comminotto, and Filflawith), have a combined area slightly larger than Athens, Georgia. The Marshall Islands comprise an area slightly larger than Washington, DC. Mauritania is more than one and a half times the size of Texas.
      Mauritius is slightly smaller than Jacksonville, Florida. Mexico is about one-seventh larger than Alaska. Micronesia, Federated States of, is slightly larger than Austin, Texas. Moldova is slightly larger than Maryland. Monaco is about the size of Florence, Kansas. Mongolia is slightly smaller than Alaska. Montenegro is roughly the size of Connecticut. Morocco is about one-tenth larger than California. Mozambique is almost twice the size of California. Myanmar (Burma) is slightly smaller than Texas.

      1. Historical European comparison:

        Seventy two or seventy three years ago, the absolute monster plane run was London to Berlin. The bombing raids were an integral part of the effort, but they chewed up planes, crews, resources, escort craft…

        The distance was five hundred and eighty miles.

        Or about sixty miles less than the distance from Boise to Denver.

        Folks in the Bos-Was corridor are used to a constant stream of dense population centers, so they sometimes think that the 320 million people must live in not that much space. Out here in the west (I’m a Gem Stater), there’s what some wag termed “Miles and miles of miles and miles.”

        Some also tend to forget the natural, industrial, personnel and economic resources the middle of the North American continent really has on tap.

        1. Hehe, I had to miss two big family trips because my preggers doctor got pissy at the idea of my being literal hours from a phone or reception, let alone any kind of help. And that is on a fairly major route.

        2. Good gracious, that makes at least three of us here. I’m in the part that picks SLC over Boise to go shopping as nearest Big City, what region are you in?

        3. “Miles and miles of miles and miles.”

          I no longer recall if I saw it in some cartoon or read of it in some old magazine (Reader’s Digest, perhaps?) that on some western highway in Nowhere, Middle Of someone had put up a sign: [MONOTONOUS, AIN’T IT?].

        1. I’m sure there’ll be lots of real things Trump does that you could criticize, but HOLY CRAP, are they trying to destroy their own credibility before he’s even sworn in?

          1. I think an unacknowledged factor in the recent election is that nowadays a significant portion of the population doesn’t give a damn what the mass media is telling them.

            see also: “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”

            1. Exactly this. They put themselves so firmly in the Obama/Hillary camp – and everyone paying attention can see it. Think of all the lies – black lives matter, every sort of hoax hate crime, about keeping your doctor and Benghazi was caused by an internet video. Of course very few believe the major establishment media outlets.

          2. Can you destroy what you no longer have? Seems kind of like losing your virginity for the fifteenth time.

            Of course, every time they pull one of those shenanigans they imagine they’ve gotten away with it.

            1. losing your virginity for the fifteenth time

              Okay, my mind went in a completely different direction on seeing that.

              In comic books one power some people have is regeneration, to the point where they will regrow severed limbs. In many ways that would be an awesome ability to have, but there is a downside that, perhaps, gets overlooked a lot.

              Consider the issue of women with that ability.
              And sex.

              1. Been covered (but with vampires, not superheroes). I think it was in Crossed by J.F. Lewis. (It was in one of his vampire books).

                Hmm, Groundhog’s Day from a high school virgin’s perspective on the day she loses her virginity?

              2. Consider the dilemma of the devout orthodox Jewish man. “Rebbe, I realize this may be an unusual question, but does this mohel offer a bulk discount?”

                1. There was a series about a group of immortal who almost immediately healed any damage to themselves.

                  One of the immortals was a woman who was virgin when she became one.

                  It was very painful for any man who had sex with her because her maiden-head tried to heal with him still inside her. 😦

                  Note, it wasn’t exactly pleasant for her as well.

                  1. Not to undercut the, uh, drama here but depending on the configuration perhaps one could with patience stretch out the tissue rather than tearing. Assuming of course that it is possible to modify her physical state at all in terms of strength, flexibility, etc. ….

        2. At least, so far, the press isn’t behaving toward Trump in the manner of a two year old who is outside the closed bathroom door seeking mother.

          There are some things I do not want to know…nor do I think I have the right to know.

          1. Of course, the media treatment of Republicans in general will continue to contribute to Trump’s success.

            These are my middle fingers….. pressing buttons in the voting booth.

    1. A hostile media seems less likely to temper recklessness than an adversarial one. With a hostile media a politician is likely to assume that whatever is done will be opposed, and whatever is achieved will be denigrated, unreported or both.

      Sort of the way we respond to SJW trolling.

      An adversarial media will be tough but fair, forcing the administration to be at the top of its game, developing and communicating strong reasons for its actions and policies. It would give credit where earned without sliding into the oleaginous obsequiousness we would have seen in a Hillary Administration.

      Heh – I joked to Beloved Spouse last night that although it would be beneath his status, Newt Gingrich would make an extremely entertaining press secretary.

      1. We’ve been living that for the last 8 years from the other side of the coin. A fawning media vs an adversarial one. Adversarial is fine but in Republicans’ case we have a hateful media that looks for any and every excuse, mistake, or intentional way show them in the worst possible way.

  24. If you are not already reading the Woodpile Report you should be!
    “Rain on the horizon, Virginia Freeman – Half the country was willing to elect a professional grifter at best and a felon at worst. A sizable number of them hate you on a visceral level and see you as the number one problem with the world. A generation of people who have grown up seeing the government as an economic vending machine are seething right now and we are foolish to think Newton’s Third Law is not applicable in politics. We didn’t poke the Leviathan, we kicked it squarely in the nuts and it’s insanity not to expect a more virulent, vile and violent version of statism to take root and begin planning for the future. Use this gift wisely and don’t fall back into complacency.”

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