The Green Man of Socialism

I’ve set myself an amusement for the holiday season.  You see, I have a bad habit.  If I’m not at the computer, writing, I have to be reading something.  If I’m not, I get the shakes, and things get blurry, and next thing you know, I’m flopping around on the sofa yelling “The book, Watson, the book.”

The problem is that looking for something to read often takes more time than reading whatever the heck it is.  And that I’m looking for a specific type of book, preferably short and not so absorbing it’s going to keep me from finishing way overdue books.

Which is why I tend to get on binges — usually mystery — of finding an author who is innocuous and reading everything he or she has.  Only I’m trying to keep it cheap.

Also, I’ll be honest, since my brother sent me the list of SF/F books we owned or read at some point, I’ve been riled at how few of them I remember.  I used to have a near-eidetic memory but concussion and other health issues have dented that.  I can now start reading a book and only realize in the middle that I read it before.  Saves on books, sure, but it’s very annoying, particularly when I realize it’s a book that dented the wall.

My memory is better now, part of the whole thyroid adjustment thing, and I thought “What if I find these books and re-read them?”

Now, this has some issues, as some of the books aren’t available at any price, some are available at crazy prices (I am not going to pay 4.50 for a badly formatted fifty year old A. E. Van Vogt to which the agent didn’t even bother to find a generic cover, but has a picture of Van Vogt on the cover.  That foretells of horrors I don’t want to deal with inside.) Some are available from Gutenberg, and I’ll have to transfer (soon.) And some are available but… well, let’s say I’m returning Three Go Back, because someone missed the “just scan the pages and put it up.”  They seem to have decided they should put up the PICTURE of the scan instead of running it through ACR.  My eyes are NOT that good, and also what the heck?

Anyway, the first one that sort of fell in the category “I can read this and it doesn’t make my eyes twist” was The Green Man of Graypeck by Festus Pragnell (which I hope to Bob is a pen name).

Wow.  Holy unadulterated pulp, Batman.

However, if we must — I come to praise pulp, not to bury it.

There is one very good thing about the unadulterated pulp.  It has a punchy and immediate beginning, and it keeps the action rolling along on a steam roller.  That’s something most of us practitioners of a slightly (ah!) more nuanced art could learn.

Now the world building is … not bad, but rather a collection of stereotypes, and I finally found that one “the women are decorative, and treated as baggage” sf.  I haven’t looked at when this was published, but mind you there is more to it than that, since the world has several more or less primitive civilizations, in which the women are “inferior” beings, by lack of body strength, as most women were in uncivilized societies.

OTOH the collection of stereotypes is no worse than the ones we get in most novels now, just a different KIND, and at least to me they were refreshingly novel.

The fun part of this though is seeing that people still felt a need to justify writing novels about a future that never existed, by bringing in some “relevant” “lesson.”

The story is that a man is catapulted into another universe, a very small universe in atoms of our world (go with it.) Given this you expect the almost Tarzan feel of a completely different world (though why some of the people would be humanoid at all… never mind.)

BUT this makes no sense at all when he explains that the collapse of civilization came about because they didn’t listen to Aige Geewells (spelled something like that) about scientific governance.  And unless I’m missremembering  there’s also a bit about eugenics, which at any rate is implied in the “Status” of the “races” in that world, because eugenics is an old (and crazy) obsession of the left.

Anyway, this is stuck in, where it makes absolutely no sense, and is only about three paragraphs.  I remember, when I was a little older (if I read this before, I’d have been very young and not seen the incongruity) just skipping such paragraphs.

I don’t remember when that became impossible, but I think I figured out why.

Look, this books worldbuilding is offensive to my principles at several levels, from the worldbuilding with Superior and Inferior races, assumptions about how women will act, etc.  OTOH it is not offensive, because it’s such a different world, the society is so different, and it’s very clearly “Tarzan of the Apes” in Space.  (With perhaps a dash of the Odyssey.)

Also, I don’t know how to put this, but it comes across as almost innocent.  The writer clearly believed in this load of bull.   There is sort of an internal consistency to how the world is organized that tells you he didn’t even think about it, so he either believed it, or thought his audience would without thought.  And that makes it more bearable, as does the rip roaring non-stop plot.  Why?  Because it keeps you reading.  You can ignore any truckload of carp, provided the story isn’t boring.

Now am I going to say this is the quality of science fiction I’d like to see?  Oh, heck no.  For one, I suspect the idea for the story was disproven before it started. Though it was a fun way to get someone to a completely different world.

On the other hand, I also realized why I read these back to back as a kid, even the ones that made me roll my eyes and go “oh, this is so stupid” or “Bud, your politics reek.”  They caught you.  They did their job first and preached at you second.  (And sometimes incoherently, improbably, and in a few paragraphs.) Which I’m cool with.

So, should you read it?  If you wish.  It’s on Amazon.  It’s readable.  Do I recommend you pattern your writing on it?  Uh… no.

But you might want to look at how he sets up a beginning with a man accused of his brother’s murder, then drags you through a plot that doesn’t stop.  Take that and do a bit of better worldbuilding and fewer crazy assumptions (though for his time these might very well have been state of the art assumptions) and you might have a winner.

After all, cringingly strange world building and all, these pulp novels sold and publishing was a money-making business. Mostly because the books were fun to read, and people read them for fun and not out of a sense of obligation.

Perhaps that’s something we should contemplate more often.

Reading a ludic enterprise, not a moral one.  One shouldn’t be ashamed of reading (or writing) in a fun way.

205 responses to “The Green Man of Socialism

  1. The main problem with “scientific governance” has been that it tends to lean rather more heavily on the governance than the science. Inevitably the science seems to support what the governors would have asked for had they been offered a wish list.

    • Or they just ignore the science when it doesn’t tell them what they want. Science says there’s no evidence for the Biblical account of Creation? Clearly that must be taught to all children, and any who still believe in the Bible should be mocked and laughed at. Science says there’s no evidence for the chi acupuncturists claim to manipulate or that homeopathy does anything at all? Eh, we need to respect differences in cultures, we’ll keep subsidizing it as long as its licensed (i.e. the practitioners keep paying the government to certify them).

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Scientific governance is the magical thinking that supposes that the techniques of ‘scientific management’ are applicable to government.

    • Amazing, isn’t it?

    • Science isn’t any more rational than any other human endeavor; this is the essential conceit of the “enlightened” in this sadly beknighted era, and it is fundamentally wrong.

      “Scientists” are accorded the respect that used to be due the priesthood, and for just about as much rational reason. When you get down to it, all too much “science” is so much sophistry and flim-flam, warped out of recognition and reason in the name of whatever bug-bear the so-called “scientist” wanted to feed. And, given how much trouble they’re having reproducing so much basic scientific experiments that we’ve relied on for years, the big question might be “Do we really know what the hell we think we do?”.

      The sad fact is that “science” has become an institution subject to just as much irrational belief as any other religion, and the misuse and abuse of the scientific method shows that with regards to all too many basic assumptions in our society.

      My own thinking is that once you get past a certain point of complexity, the whole edifice becomes very, very shaky indeed. Some things are easily reproduced and verified; some are easily refuted. But, at a level where things are becoming very subtle, and the numbers very small and prone to the researcher putting a thumb on the scales…? Yeah.

      Anyone with a smattering of background in space history will recall the Dean Drive “fiasco” of the 1950s-1960s; now we have what appears to be a working EM drive being tested by NASA. Something which all concerned agreed was clearly “impossible”. Whether or not Dean was a charlatan is a good question; it’s also irrelevant to the discussion about science. What is relevant? The way the institutions behaved, when presented with Dean. And, now that we have an EM drive that appears to work, albeit apparently on different principles…? What’s next? Cold fusion being discovered to actually exist?

      You want to gauge the nature of science, as a faith? Observe the manner in which the “conventional wisdom” dealt with the men who came up with the initial ideas of continental drift and the great floods of the inter-mountain west. Both parties were vilified and nearly run out of their respective fields, and yet… A generation later, both of them were seen as geniuses. And, the next guy to come along questioning any of the now-written-in-stone ideas are going to get as much abuse as they did, when the ideology of science actually argues that they should be questioned and re-thought. Sadly, the “authorities” are all too often invested in the status quo, and so we see them acting as ideological gate-keepers in a lot of research areas.

      Science, as an institution, does not deserve anywhere near as much faith as we put in its various and sundry pronouncements. Unfortunately, for all too many, it has become as much a religion as any other–To the detriment of all concerned.

      • “Science advances one funeral at a time.” Max Planck.

        IMAO AGW is the current Phlogiston. Except I doubt many people had a financial stake in Phlogiston being correct.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Nit, that was “The Green Man of Graypec” but Pragnell Festus was his real name.

    http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/pragnell_festus

    Note, “Worlds in an Atom” was an old theme of science fiction and that sort of “world view” was sadly common in some older SF.

    • That whole “Worlds in an Atom” concept worked much better when we held onto the “solar systemic” model of atomic particles. Quantum mechanics sorta kinda ruined that meme.

        • Quantum mechanics ruins everything. Especially my plans for Friday night in college. STUPID quantum homework… and we will not mention the new age lovies who think using the word “quantum” makes their vaporings scientific. I loathe them the most, I think.

      • I remember thinking that…it was such a cool idea.

        And then yeah, Quantum Mechanics borked it…

      • Or when PTerry and Douglas Adams played with the trope.

      • OTOH, If string theory is correct, then particles have extra dimensions connected inside them, Three of them woven and closed together to make a pocket universe?

      • the solar system model of the atom isn’t true? Ouch. I haven’t studied Quantum Mechanics, how does it explain atomic structure?

        • yeah, I only found this out when my kids hit that portion of the curriculum.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I vaguely remember the model that replace the solar system model but won’t want to try to put it into words here…

            And what I remember may have been replaced. 😀

            • I think it was a “dense cloud” when the kids were studying.

              • It’s the dense cloud of probable locations of particles, at least as of last year when I subbed. And there’s a different way of drawing elements and shells, using little dots for each possible bond and then stacking the elements a bit like bristle-blocks. That took me a few minutes to sort out.

                • the dense cloud of probable locations of particles …

                  Or, in layperson’s language, “We know it’s got to be around here someplace.”

                  • It appears that electrons go from one point to another without necessarily going through the space between.

                    • If you adopt the perspective of a Simultaneous Universe, there is no “space between” nor does a particle “travel” because Time (or rather, sequentiality) is an illusion. A particle merely occupies a selection of intersections of Space/Time and any movement is as illusory as the “motion” created by flipping through 24 still pictures per second.

                      This is why Quantum Mechanics requires an ability to envision Time as merely one dimension (or perhaps several – I don’t know; most of what I’ve managed to achieve in adopting this perspective owes to Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians) and is so difficult for the human mind to conceive.

                    • That’s part of it. A Quantum is a discrete unit. You can’t have half a quantum.

                  • Terry Sanders

                    In one of the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company’s shorts, Professor N. O. Howe explained it this way:

                    No, electrons do not orbit the nucleus. They sort of–hang around it. Like teenagers at a mall. Except that more energy makes the electrons move further away, whereas more money makes teenagers do the opposite…(fades into confused mumble)

                • And the *shapes* of the dense clouds change depending on the tier of excitement that the electrons are in. Some of them are like double teardrops; some like tourus clouds (my autocorrupt does not like me today and does not understand the concept of a donut.) They are very rarely in spherical clouds.

                  Side story: my college chemistry professor tried to get me to change my major to chemistry. “But I’m struggling to get a C,” quoth I. He shrugged and said this was the harder basic chemistry class. “I’ve broken six test tubes in the lab,” I protested. (No two the same way, either. I had a weird skill.) “But you didn’t break anything *expensive*,” was his reply.

        • The little electrons and protons and neutrons? The ones we envision as little balls?

          They can also be envisioned as waves.

          The fundamental problem is that at the level, all our notions of space and time and motion and extension fall apart. C.S. Lewis once described the particles as moving — or rather functioning, you couldn’t really say it was motion — and he had a notion of it.

        • Regions where electrons might be at certain energy levels was the model we were taught in the late 1970s. Our professor took the attitude that while wrong, the solar system model “worked” if it helped us grasp things like valiance and photon emission. But clearly remember he used the example of some experiment where it looked like an electron was going back and forth through the center of the atom.

      • A 1950s story by James Blish (“Nor Iron Bars,” in his collection Galactic Cluster) explores the atom-as-solar system idea in the context of quantum mechanics.

      • Quantum mechanics is getting even more complicated with potential new particles being studied.

        • I once read in Analog that a collider experiment hinted at the existence of constituent particles of quarks. I immediately submitted the following:

          It seems that matter’s ‘smallest parts’
          Have smaller bits inside ’em.
          Who would have thought that tiny Quarks
          Would have the room to hide ’em?

          Will physicists, with all their smarts
          (This is not meant to slight ’em)
          Continue finding smaller sparks
          so on ad infinitum?

          It was not accepted for publication . . .

    • Come to think of it, the “worlds in an Atom” viewpoint isn’t all that much different from the “world inside a mitochondrion” viewpoint that Madeleine L’Engle had in A Wind in the Door.

    • The “Worlds in an Atom” view still shows up from time to time. I remember a DC Comics story over a decade ago in which the Justice League was shrunk down to a ridiculously small size (much easier to do when Ray Palmer is a part of your team, of course) to deal with some kid’s terminal health issues. The story ended up being a moralizing environmental story since the cause of the kid’s problems was a microscopic community of sentient beings (yes, they no doubt had their own culture…) living in the kid’s brain. And what the beings were trying to do in order to advance their civilization was causing the kid’s health issues.

  3. What? Reading for pleasure? Heresy!

  4. Before TV, the pulps were a huge part of mass entertainment. Radios weren’t cheap, and not everyone had one. Movies were a one-shot thing then: You paid your money and you saw your flick. Once. Magazines could be read more than once. Conventional fiction was often literary and didn’t appeal to a mass audience. The pulps did, especially among young men living in boarding houses and doing boring and perhaps dangerous jobs for little pay. They weren’t great, but they were cheap, they weren’t boring, and they were better than staring at the wall.

    A number of my readers have told me my fiction was pulpish, only better. That’s because I learned from the pulps, or rather the “best of the pulps” story collections, which I could get at the local bookstore for 60c in the 1960s. One doesn’t have to slavishly replicate the pulps today to discern what they delivered to their audience and then do the same thing only to modern writing standards. What would I call such fiction? The Human Wave.

    • See, I thought that “the only reason I devoured these was lack of other entertainment” but no. I devoured them because they catch and pull.

    • I wrote a multipart series on the pulps back in 2010 that came out of reading the original 1930s/1940s magazines, which I’d bought on eBay or downloaded from Usenet. Not all of it was SFF, and it was fascinating to see how broad the magazine categories were. For those interested, google “The Pulps Reconsidered.”

    • Radios weren’t cheap

      Not only that, they cost money to operate — assuming there was electric service where you lived. I know that in England the people living in rented rooms were often depicted in film having to put coins in a meter to pay for utilities before consuming them, but I don’t know how widespread the practice was. I vaguely recall silent movie gags in which the boarder attached a string to the coin in order to fish it out after tripping the meter.

      • Or they used batteries, plural. The older might have an A battery (filaments), a B battery (high voltage supply), and a C battery (grid bias). A surprisingly simple solution eliminates the C battery in circuit design, and the A battery was likely not terribly expensive, but that B battery was probably something to be carefully conserved.

        • For a long time batteries were cheaper than power transformers on the manufacturing side because, indeed, consumers paid for the batteries, not the manufacturer. B batteries were expensive and fairly short lived, especially if they had to drive a loudspeaker. It was hard design problem until “AC/DC” designs became mainstream in the 1940s and made power transformers unnecessary. (Some folks call those “series string” radios because the filaments of the tubes were in series, with voltage drops calculated to add up to the US power line standard 117V.)

      • You might have a meter if you lived in a city and had electricity and all that. Otherwise, radios ran off batteries. Batteries were expensive, and most radios took several different sizes of them.

        The “Junior Experimenter” books I had in the 1960s had most of their projects based on “B” cells, which were unobtainium even then. I’ve never even seen an “A” battery, though if it followed the B-C-D sizing, would have been huge…

        • In the late ’50s, my aunt (Mom’s kid sister) had a portable tube radio. If childhood memory serves, the B battery was about 6 to 8″ long, maybe about 90V. (Recalling an old IEEE Spectrum article, the portable transistor radio came out in about 1957. They were quite common by the early-mid ’60s.)

          I wonder if those were the same books I devoured in the library. One project was a Geiger counter, but you had to hit a pushbutton several times to build up enough voltage to energize the tube. Don’t recall any titles, but the Dewey Decimal number was 621.384. I ended up as an EE, so something took. Never built a Geiger counter, though.

          • I built the Geiger counter, or at least tried to, in 1963. The book was The Boys’ Second Book of Radio and Electronics, by Alfred Morgan, from 1957. I was 11 and didn’t have the skill, though my uncle had a Geiger tube in his junkpile and I gave it a good shot for something stitched together on a piece of scrap lumber. That was a common circuit at the time, and I actually built it several years ago (admittedly with a few tweaks) and it worked. The high voltage (which was about 800-900V) came from sending pulses through an output transformer hooked up backwards, rectifying the pulses with a spark gap. I used a 1N4007 instead of the spark gap and got a better charge on a couple of modern .1 mF caps in parallel.

            Those were actually pretty good books, and now go for $50-$1000 on used book sites. I got my copies at garage sales in the 1980s.

        • Need to talk to my parents. Both their families had radios prior to grid power, which means batteries. During the Great Depression, my father’s family put the Model A on blocks and used it sparingly, and my mother’s family were tenant farmers with no car at all. Yet they both had radio. This has me wondering about battery cost and life span.

          I’ll have to dig it up, but somewhere around here I have some period bulletins on building crystal sets, the idea being that those who couldn’t afford a tube set could make a cheap one. These used a minimum store-bought parts.

          This has me wanting to try a foxhole radio, using a blued hacksaw blade in place of the blued razor blade. Probably won’t, though.

      • A professor who was doing research in Ireland in the 70’s described coin-operated electric in rental properties, both his own and those of people he was visiting. Ireland’s not England, but it does offer some evidence for the practice.

        • A short story I had to read in high school English had a British woman who committed suicide by renting a room, putting money into the gas meter, and then extinguishing the pilot light. I remember the story mostly because of the fact that the story explicitly mentioned her paying money for the gas.

          • Common theme of the era. There are stories of would-be suicides thwarted by the lack of money to get the gas.

      • My wife had to do that in one of her apartments in Scotland when she was serving a mission there. It may have been just for gas to heat water for the shower, though. (I can’t remember the details; I seem to remember that she and her companion had to put pound coins in the meter before taking a shower…)

      • Pay as you go electricity is making a big splash in the US now. There were various schemes going back to the coin operated devices, but the most common now is to pay with credit or debit card. When the money runs out, the meter cuts off.

    • My grandmother told me stories of her father bringing home the first radio on the mountain. She and her siblings took turns on the hand-cranked generator to charge the battery during the day so the family could listen at night, which was the only time they could get a clear signal. The radio didn’t have a speaker, just an earpiece. Her father would tune in the radio, then put the earpiece in a mixing bowl in the middle of the kitchen table which let everyone hear as long as they were quiet.

    • Yup – an inexpensive and renewable entertainment resource for those who just wanted a bit of fun and escapism in an otherwise dull and relatively boring life. Sneak some interesting bits of information or philosophy in if you must — but for Dog’s sake – make it interesting!

      • The railroad pulps from the 30s and early 40s did this: There were railroad tech infodumps in the stories, and standalone nonfiction articles too. The story action never got far from the tracks, and if I recall correctly the infodumps served the plot well and managed to teach the readers something at the same time.

    • The video game “This War of Mine” depicts the struggles of a group of individuals living together attempting to survive while trapped in a modern city under siege (I’ve heard that the game was inspired by the real-life Siege of Sarajevo). One of the important elements in the game is keeping your people from going nuts out of boredom. As such, a chair and a book is a very literal lifesaver (cigarettes and coffee are also important, since you almost always have at least one person who’s addicted to one or the other).

      A sub-plot in one episode of MASH revolved around a novel that one of the members of the base had received. It got passed around the base as everyone took their turn reading it. The only problem was that the finale was missing, so the episode ended with Hawkeye and the others calling the writer long-distance to find out how the novel ended.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        IIRC, they had first attempted to work out “who done it” before they contracted the author.

      • I remember that episode. The title of the book was “The Rooster Crowed at Midnight” and the author couldn’t remember the ending, either.

      • whats funny to me about watching MASH is the antiquated comms system compared with even the setup we had when *I* was in…

        • What was funny to me about the show was that they had Radar reading an Avengers comic from 1969* in a show made in (IIRC) 1978 but set in 1952 … based on a 1970 movie adapting a 1968 novel.


          The time stream, it roils!

          *I think that was the issue date. I might have recalled the wrong cover but I am positive it was a John Buscema cover from that period.

          • well, *any* avengers comic would have been an anachronism….

            • I agree — but if the prop master was making the effort to supply a “vintage” comic, why not get one of the proper vintage? Did a producer look at the cost of a Korean-era Captain America Human Torch comic and say, “Whoa! Too expensive! Howabout we split the difference between that and a new comic?”

              Or was that just a subtle acknowledgement that they were really discussing the Vietnam War?

              Otherwise, if you’re accepting an anachronism, why expend the effort to get an old comic, but just not old enough?

              • I’be read that that show was made in an era before series-bibles were a thing, so script writers didn’t necessarily bother with things like “continuity” between episodes.

          • Radar was the master of anachronism. There’s a show where he is obviously doing a John Wayne impersonation. The problem is that he was quoting the movie “McLintock!” which was released in 1963.

  5. “Reading a ludic enterprise, not a moral one. One shouldn’t be ashamed of reading (or writing) in a fun way.”

    Absolutely not!

    A friend, several years ago, was in a PhD program in one of the Humanities. He told me that he survived when he understood, faster than other males who did no survive, that everything…repeat, everything…is political. Everything.

    So, as one might argue that writing is political, so is reading. And if one is not reading the politically approved tomes and is one is not appropriately engaged, enraged, or educated, then one should be ashamed. If not, others will take it as their mission to see that you are.

    • And we will take it as our mission to not only not be ashamed, but to scorn and belittle those who try to make us so for the crime of thinking differently.

  6. Christopher M. Chupik

    Or, as Leigh Brackett called it, a “dark trade in heroes”. And that’s a trade worth learning.

    • I shall have to remember that.

      • Excellent turn of phrase. Love it.

      • “Space opera, as every reader doubtless knows, is a pejorative term often applied to a story that has an element of adventure. Over the decades, brilliant and talented new writers appear, receiving great acclaim, and each and every one of them can be expected to write at least one article stating flatly that the day of space opera is over and done, thank goodness, and that henceforth these crude tales of interplanetary nonsense will be replaced by whatever type of story that writer happens to favor — closet dramas, psychological dramas, sex dramas, etc., but by God important dramas, containing nothing but Big Thinks. Ten years late, the writer in question may or may not still be around, but the space opera can be found right where it always was, sturdily driving its dark trade in heroes.”

    • Wonderful turn of phrase!

  7. Just watched a 1938 serial movie based off of a pulp book series. It was… interesting.

  8. Ludic…. nice, I am going to have to use that. Undirected playfulness. Guessing it’s related to “ludicrous”…..

    *goes to look*

    Oooh, only sort of; the former is from the word for “sport” (as in playing) and the latter in “stage play.”

  9. The whole superior/inferior culture thing could be fun to play with, if you twist it a little. Say, the “inferior” culture acknowledges the superiority of the new arrivals’ ideas, and rushes to adopt them – and then improves on them, at which point the “superior” culture goes, “Hmm, should we be happy or upset?” and Events Ensue.

    • A related-but-different concept can be found in Christoper Anvil’s Pandora’s Planet stories, which were collected a while back as “Pandora’s Legions”.

    • Say, the “inferior” culture acknowledges the superiority of the new arrivals’ ideas, and rushes to adopt them – and then improves on them …

      According to the history professed among the NC Cherokee, that is exactly what happened to them when they met “White man culture.” Their social development was at a level especially well-suited to adapting the farming economy practiced by the newcomers and they readily adapted it to their own uses. They adapted them so well that they were exceeding White accomplishments which proved a major stoker of jealousy and provoked the animosity of the White settlers, as expressed by Georgia Crackers and Mr. A. Jackson.

      • I have often thought that the tribes that best survived and adapted were those who had something of a society and level of tech pretty close to that of the 18th-19th century “persons of pallor” – those tribes already practicing agriculture and with fixed permanent abodes, herding domesticated sheep, goats and cattle, practicing weaving and pottery, metal-smithing; the Cherokee and the Pueblo tribes, the Mandan (if they hadn’t been wiped out by epidemics), the Delaware and some of the eastern US tribes, YMMV.

      • In the year of 1818, Georgia militia units attacked a Creek town in a reprisal raid. A US Army officer went absolutely ape, demanding the arrest of the officer in command. This got into a rather heated matter. The officer was arrested, released, arrested again, broke out of jail, and went to Cuba.

        The Georgia Militia officer was Captain Obed Wright. The enraged US Army Officer was General Andrew Jackson. General Jackson had also adopted an Indian boy named Lyncoya, a survivor of a battle during the Creek War.

        This glosses over a tale and a half. While I’m no fan of Jackson, it’s a popular misconception that he removed the Cherokee or had some sort of axe to grind. Andrew Jackson was out of office in 1837. The Trail of Tears happened in 1838. And while the Cherokees were accomplished farmers, there was more level land in Georgia south of the Fall Line. What prompted the removal of the Cherokee was gold, with two attempted land grabs by the State of Georgia, and eventually culminating with the Treaty of New Echota in 1835. That’s the treaty, agreed to by the Cherokee and ratified in the US Senate by one vote, that removed them west.

        We can get into all sorts of things here: The Cherokee argued that only one faction, not representative of the whole, approved the treaty and lobbied the Senate hard. There was enough doubts that it came down to that one vote. Georgia, who in 1802 ceded claims west of the Chattahoochee to the US Government in exchange for removal of the Indians, felt conned because the Federal government seemed not to be keen in following through on it’s end of the bargain. It’s not well known that, during the War of 1812, the Federal government didn’t seem too concerned about defending the Georgia frontier and the state took it upon itself. The whole incident in 1818 happened after a raid on the old frontier and the Federal government ignored pleas for help. FWIW, in 1818 Jackson was in Spanish Florida fighting the Seminoles who had been raiding into Georgia.

        A good many Cherokee refused to abide by the treaty. After years and several warnings, they were evicted by force. The government actually delayed the eviction due to a drought and unusually hot weather, because this meant travel would be harder and there wouldn’t be enough water. Problem was, worse weather hit during the Trail of Tears, and the government wasn’t prepared to deal with it.

        In other words, it was one big mess.

        There’s two conflicting accounts about the removal. One is that the Indians saw Georgians burn their property as soon as they left, and another is that they saw them move into their cabins before they were out of sight. Favor the second, but have no evidence which one is true. Maybe both, depending on location.

        • There’s a historical site, the Vann House, that was built by a Cherokee businessman whose family never dreamed they’d get kicked out. I know a couple of the descendants (properly registered and with a genealogy along with the last name) and damned if the guy (who is an operatic tenor in high demand due to his height) is not obviously a relative.

          BTW, he will sometimes perform with Lamplighters in the Bay Area and he’s on several of their CDs.

        • This is the first time I’ve heard some of these details.

          I don’t know how many times I’ve heard more details about things like this, though, that cast doubt on the entire “Americans committed genocide against the Indians” claim I’ve been exposed to through my whole life…

          • Many of the “Americans committed genocide against the Indians” claims ignore that frequently such “genocidal” acts were at the behest, encouragement, or incitement of other, rival tribes. Apparently the concept of allying with an other power to direct their fire on one’s enemies was not too sophisticated a concept for American Indians to grasp.

            • Exxxxacctly … many of the tribes looked at those strange pale-face people with more advanced tech as possible allies in warfare against their traditional enemies. Which explains how the Tonkawa put their allegiance with the Texians against the Comanche, and the Crows and Pawnee with Americans against the Sioux … our little Red Brothers were every bit as cynical about politics as they could be.

              • They also like to ignore that pretty much every tribe had the concept of enslaving other tribes well established.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  For that matter, many of the “tribes” weren’t united peoples.

                  Americans (or Europeans) might think they had a treaty with a given tribe but what they had (at best) was an agreement with a small group of “chiefs” who could not speak for the entire tribe.

                  This made things “interesting” when members of that tribe did something that “violated” the treaty. 😦

                  Moderns talk about all the treaties that the US violated but ignore that from the point of view of people back then the Indians also violated the treaties. 😦

                  • Yep – the German Verein in the Texas Hill Country signed a peace treaty with the Penateka Comanche in the late 1840s … which was carefully negotiated, signed, sealed and taken to heart by both parties to it. To this day, I am told that descendants of both parties to that treaty are bound to offer hospitality to each other, to the extent of hospitality in their own homes.

                    Alas – there were about another dozen tribal divisions among the Comanche, who were NOT signatories to that peace treaty and were in no way bound to it … and so warfare continued in the Hill Country, after a about fifteen years or so.

    • well, this is more the culture is GENETICALLY inferior. I mean some cultures are better than others, but…

      • Well, I have genetically inferior castes in the new books, or at least so the species involved thinks . . . There is a difference in intelligence between the uppermost and lowermost castes, but between those things start getting fuzzy. The humans just try to follow the caste rules, or at least keep from breaking them too badly.

        • There is a difference in intelligence between the uppermost and lowermost castes …

          An interesting possibility, there, to explore the difference between intelligence, wisdom and knowledge. Being vastly more intelligent is less useful when you are incapable of effectively validating facts and premises. Stipulating that your average Theoretical Physicist is demonstrably more intelligent that your average Plumber, the plumber’s knowledge likely has greater practical application.

          Wisdom is expressed in the greater likelihood of the plumber understanding why this is so while the physicist grouses in the faculty lounge about being unappreciated in a society that claims to value knowledge.

      • And, some populations seem to have what amounts to a genetic predisposition towards expressing the same cultural traits over time spans measured in generations.

        I really, really want to believe in the ideas of unlimited free will, and humanity being able to simply rewrite culture and behavior by simply thinking and talking about it. Unfortunately, my observations of the world around me, and the history I’ve studied militate against that happy fantasy.

        I note the odd way that the same things seem to just keep happening to the same people, and I wonder what the hell is actually upstream of that. Witness the Russian propensity towards authoritarian strongman government, and wonder at the way that Vladimir Putin has been edging his way towards a recreation of the Romanovs. Or, how the Chinese Communist Party has gradually morphed into the new Manchu Dynasty, complete with hordes of nobles and a bunch of other baggage that supposedly was left behind in the long ago. Another case? The American popular fascination with the British Royal Family. I mean, seriously… WTF? Didn’t we fight a revolution to get rid of them, and now there are hordes of American citizens who are just fascinated by the hoopla and trappings, and who ache to receive a knighthood at Westminster…

        I’m not sure that all human behavior is heritable, or that we’re biological automatons doomed to a predestined future outlined in our genes, but… There’s damn sure something going on here, with regards to culture stemming from something besides a bunch of poorly-transmitted learned behavioral patterns. Denial of this factor in dealing with decisions about human beings seems to me to be more than a bit delusional.

        Interesting thing I learned recently: Ne’er do well kid of family acquaintances has recently just gotten himself put in prison for the last batch of criminal acts he committed. Now, up until lately, I thought this young man was an actual scion of the family, based on his looks. Actual point of fact? Fifth-generation felon, adopted into the family as an infant. I’d thought he was a “bad seed” example, but it was more of a “cuckoo” situation. They got his adoption records unsealed because of the nature of the offenses against a juvenile female member of the family. You’ll be as shocked as I was to find out that that there was a lengthy history of that crap in his biological family, going back at least two generations in the documentation.

        I’m a pragmatist; if I observe something that goes against the accepted conventional wisdom, I start asking whether or not the accepted conventional wisdom actually has any real wisdom behind it. I’ve been told for so long that this crap is all learned behavior, and that there is no basis for the “traditional view on culture” that I have had a hard time changing my mind on the issues surrounding this. I’ve now reached the point where I’m pretty sure that the conventional wisdom is in error, and that all those nice touchy-feely types who tried telling me that all “us people” are the same under the skin were full of shit. Observational experience refutes that shiny lie, and while I’m still not willing to lump everyone into a group with their stereotypes, I’m also not at all surprised when a young Somali Muslim male decides to start killing the Kafir with a car and some knives, either.

        We really want to think that we are who we are based on ourselves; the idea that we are instead the expression of a bunch of biologically directed influences and drives is anathema, because that calls into question this whole fantasy of “free will” that we as individuals want to keep going. I’m afraid that while there is (hopefully…) free will, there is also this whole other set of things going on that vary from genetic traits to the micro-biomes in our guts. Humans are not discrete organisms, I’m afraid; we’re actually the expression of a bunch of things that we’re only partially aware of, and the pinnacle of our achievement, our supposed sentience, is likely the result of an unholy stew of subtle influences and causative factors we’re only dimly aware of even existing.

        I think it’s about damn time we acknowledge this set of facts, and deal with it. Cultural traits being the result of genetic or epigenetic factors are not signs of superiority in the sense of “I’m one of nature’s noblemen”, they are simply signs of adaptations to different sets of local environmental factors; American blacks may indeed not be well-adapted to the educational techniques that work really well with Ashkenazic Jews. That doesn’t mean that they’re less human, or that the Ashkenazic Jew is a superior creature–What it means is that there is limited value to continuing to try to smash a square peg into a triangular hole, and perhaps we ought to start trying to figure out what educational techniques would work better for young black Americans. We’re all different, and our backgrounds in both culture and the biological factors that make us what we are need to be taken into account when policies or decisions are made dealing with the various groups and sub-cultures making up our society. Denial of these factors is rank foolishness, and I think that we badly need to separate out the “value judgment” part of the question, and start asking what actually works.

        • Jared Diamond tip-toed up to it in _Guns, Germs, and Steel_ and then stopped. You could see where he was going, but he slammed on the brakes, probably because he didn’t want to be burned in effigy by the Right Sort.

          • Diamond was being an optimist if he thought they weren’t going to burn him in effigy anyway. I’ve encountered plenty of excoriations of Diamond by various academics and general leftist types, more or less for disagreeing with the Progressive group-think du jour.

        • By this theory, I should be a brawling sot or, the way the old matrons whispered once, something worse. Since I’m not, genetics only go so far. The reason is the nurture aspect: family, knowing the tendency for both, overrode it through training. This was in the form of family stories and training that reinforced things like temperance, compassion, and just stopping a moment to think.

          The thing is that culture can take on a life of it’s own. A good example was during the period of first contact between Indians and Europeans. It wasn’t unusual, at least in the English colonies, for an Indian to receive a European education. The unfortunate tendency, though, was there would come a point where the Indian often had to make a choice of either forsaking “white” ways or living not completely accepted in “white” society. Many chose to go back to their traditional culture rather than be ostracized by their families. The problem wasn’t genetic, it was cultural pressure.

          This sort of cultural thing can take on a life of its own. That’s a huge elephant in the room, especially where poor choices are not only dismissed, but encouraged as “diversity.” But culture is learned behavior, not genetics. Even hopelessness may be learned behavior, if one experiment is to be believed. And culture is self-perpetuating.

          The Russians preferring czars? That’s cultural. China preferring the Manchu way? Cultural as well. And for all the way some Americans fawn over Britain’s royal family, we have a strong strain in our cultures that says “You and the horse you rode in on” to czars, emperors, and kings.

          The important thing, then, is the transmission of culture, something that’s anathema today. And I’m suspicious that opposition to the transmission of traditional American values is done with best interests at heart. At least, the best interests of the groups they claim to want to help.

          • >the way some Americans fawn over Britain’s royal family<

            Or the way my Scandihoovian Grands gushed about the visits of the Kings of Norway and Sweden, respectively, when they came to the U.S. on state visits. I think USAians are A-OK with royalty so long as after they come and see, they *go home*.

          • Actually, I believe that scientists think personality about 50% genetic.

            The rest? Heaven knows! They SAY “it’s environmental,” but they haven’t pinned anything down. Who knows? Free will maybe. (I have actually seen one scientist say that free will can’t exist because you can’t have a science of something with free will.)

            • I have one great uncle who was lost to the family when he was a baby.
              His brothers and he were all left wing of some form (one about full commie, got black listed and unable to work for years. Like many listed, a conservative got him working again), and all had many of the same tastes, mannerisms, and were artistic (the three oldest worked as animators, He as a photographer. The older ones as hobbies did painting, sculpting, music, and one, rodeo riding Broncs and Bulls!, okay he was a bit crazier, the younger did some painting, and music, billiards, hanging out with some of the pros, and loves sport cars . . . look there’s that crazy coming out again)

        • And, some populations seem to have what amounts to a genetic predisposition towards expressing the same cultural traits over time spans measured in generations.

          That sounds more like human traits influencing culture– that’s “different,” not “inferior.”
          Especially when you figure in that areas change culture– so the Russians are going to tend to fatalistic depression, both because of genetics and because of the light issues.
          The Irish are going to be strongly inclined to drink, and to a sort of maniac depression, the English to a sort of stoic “suck it up” depression, and the Scottish to causing depression in others. 😀 (Country names used to indicate a genetic group that’s very common in the areas. The English, Scottish and Irish types of depression are all different than the Russian one, and I can’t really express how, I just see it in what coping tactics work.)

          • Any more information about those different types of depression? Links, etc. It’s a subject of interest.

            • Sadly, no– I just know it’s at best EXPLOSIVELY bad if you try to help someone with what I think of as the “Puddleglum” or English type depression tendencies with stuff that works on the Irish/”kill it and laugh” type depression, or the one that I associate with my Scottish relatives which you really really need to pretend you don’t notice is even there, and then there’s the Russian/dark humor kind….

              And none of these are limited to those groups, and it’s more like a continuum, I just have noticed they show up more in one than the other.

              In proper psychology situations, they’d probably be focused on finding the type of treatment that works for the person (if they’re any good) and a good psychologist (be they doctor or priest) will know enough about human nature to notice the classifications, even if they don’t use the same descriptions.

              • Good heavens — how can we standardize treatments if that’s true?

                • Come on, you know the answer to that– classify those for whom the one-size-fits-few treatment fails as “unresponsive,” pile a bunch of requirements that sometimes help some of the groups (but can actually hurt the rest, and are at the very least annoying) and when all else fails, claim they’re not following their treatment.

        • The American popular fascination with the British Royal Family. I mean, seriously… WTF? Didn’t we fight a revolution to get rid of them, and now there are hordes of American citizens who are just fascinated by the hoopla and trappings, and who ache to receive a knighthood at Westminster…

          One can find a thing romantic without wanting to be subject to its abuses.

          More bluntly: No, we didn’t fight a revolution to get rid of the British Royals. We fought a revolution because the government of Britain was failing to abide by their obligations and was making unjust demands, so we would not be subject to those injustices.
          The current batch of royals includes a decent number who seem to live their obligations, and that is well worth admiring. Especially when it doesn’t cost anything. 😀

          • No, we didn’t fight a revolution to get rid of the British Royals.

            We fought that Revolution to get rid of a British Parliament which wouldn’t let us join.

            The American popular fascination with the British Royal Family likely has more to do with popular press shoving them down our throats than any intrinsic interest in the Windsors.

            Further, it represents a curiosity possessed by a small but visible fraction of society, somewhere (at a guess) between the fan bases of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, and likely corresponds to my enjoyment of Christmas decorations and festiveness without ever wanting to trade in my menorah.

        • I see no reason why we can’t assume that we’re influenced in part because of our culture, and our genetics…but at the end of the day, each one of us has to come to terms with our genetics and our culture, process what we see, and then make decisions on our own what to do.

          So while we can’t necessarily escape culture and genetics, we nonetheless have a certain amount of wiggle-room as well.

          You have raised a question about whether we should be teaching American blacks the same way as Ashkenazic Jews. I would propose that the answer is simply: it depends on the individual. We’ve assumed for too long that what works for one person works for everyone, and that every person should — and must! — progress at the same pace through their life. Rather than insist that everyone have a “common core” of education, we should instead teach individual at the pace that they want to learn.

          I’ve never understood why you’d want to hold back a 1st grader who didn’t learn how to read sufficiently, but can do math well, or a 2nd-grader who’s ahead of reading, but is terrible at math — why force the kids to repeat what they do well, for the sake of what they are struggling in? But this is *precisely* what happens when we insist on putting kids in “grades” according to their age!

          • But, but, but Prussian model! Standardized education! Efficiency~!

            • The Prussian model, which is designed to produce good little factory drones for jobs that don’t exist anymore- even in China they use automation.

    • Japan.

      The Russo-Japanese War was a big shockwave, because it showed beyond a doubt that a non-European country that adopted European stuff could kick the tail of a European country that didn’t.

      • Interesting footnote to that –

        A month or two ago, I read a short bit on the Japanese racial superiority stuff that they got involved in during the lead-up to World War 2. The gist of it was that the Japanese success due to Westernizing led some Japanese to assert that the Japanese and Europeans were superior to the other races. The Europeans largely ignored this (I’ll let others argue over why). That thinking then bumped into some other ideas popular in Japan during the inter-War period, and morphed into the vile philosophy that was encountered during World War 2.

        • The following assertions are based on vague recollections from articles read a decade or more ago and stored in the “Interesting But Don’t Actually Give A Damn” file:

          A major part of the Pacific problem was the result of Teddy Roosevelt’s brokerage of the peace concluding the Russo-Japanese War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. According to some historians TR not only acted (covertly) as Japan’s agent, he conveyed to the Japanese the impression that the United States didn’t really give a crap what Japan did in the Pacific and thought it would be appropriate for them to take on the “White Man’s Burden” of “policing” all the little brown peoples of the Pacific Rim.

          Sources forgotten. Interesting “sort of” support can be found at http://www.russojapanesewar.com/TR.html

          • IIRC the US effectively didn’t give a darn so long as the “Open Door” policy in China was maintained. ISTR that Japanese colonialism in Korea and on Formosa raised no real complaints.

        • The change in Japanese behavior between the Russo-Japanese War and WW2 was pretty striking.

          One example: At the beginning of that time span, the Japanese Red Cross organization (in part due to overt support by the Empress) had grown to be the largest in the world, with over a million members. The organization’s handling of Russian POWs garnered quite a bit of favorable attention from the West in general, aided by its hosting volunteer nurses and medical staff from the United States, France, Germany and Great Britain.

          Between the end of WW1 and the mid 1930s, things had turned around, mostly intentionally, by active intent from various quarters such as the Japanese Army. As shown in the Philippine, Singapore and Chinese campaigns.

          Cultures can change, sometimes very quickly.

          • Another bit from the Russo-Japanese War –

            Apparently the “better to die than surrender!” philosophy got its start because the Japanese leadership came to the conclusion that too many Japanese soldiers had surrendered during the RJW. So a push was made to make surrender shameful, and instead they ended up with kamikaze pilots and banzai charges (the latter were typically only done when it was acknowledged by the local leadership that there was no way to win).

        • Or even more the Japanese. The Japanese can see better than the Americans because their eyes are dark, not like the blue American eyes. In fact, so much better that they don’t need radar!

          This actually helped our side because we had the better radar as a consequence.

          • After the war, we found that the Japanese were helped by a) training to fight at night and b) huge night binoculars.

  10. Some old, old stuff to read (cheap on Kindle) between writing. Rider Haggard tales of Africa way back when. Easy to read and put down and pick up again. E. P. Oppenheim, particularly “The Great Impersonation” one of my favorite re-reads. A lot of his work is set between WWI and WWII. Makes a nice change from today, lots of differences but plus la change or however that is spelled. History is so cyclical!

  11. Kind of reminds me of “The Girl in the Golden Atom” only the entire world existed in an atom on his gold wedding band. It too rolled along nicely, built a world of stereotypes, and laughable science, then took itself way too seriously as it tried to preach a warped version of Manifest Destiny, at least that’s what it sounded like to me. I never did finish it.

  12. totally off topic: What do you think of Gen. Mattis for SecDef?

    • *incoherent chanting about Marines*

    • Apparently WP trapped my Duffelblog link. Ah, well.

      It described how the Secret Service was particularly wary about a man who had a plan to kill everyone he meets in Trump Tower.

      😛

    • From all reports I have heard, James Mattis is a mensch.

      It is no wonder he was out of place in the prior administration.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Main issue is that there is apparently a law requiring a certain amount of time between leaving service and taking such a position. This can be changed, but it potentially undermines civilian control of the military.

      Not an ideal situation, but I do not have a compelling case for anyone else.

      • An exception was made for Marshall. So this won’t be the first time.

        • Two items.

          The Congress is reportedly already writing up the waiver and it should pass without problem.

          At The Corner, Shannen W. Coffin makes a surprisingly strong case that this statute constitutes an impermissible encroachment on the Executive’s authority to choose his own advisers. The Senate could refuse to confirm a specific appointment but lacks the authority to exclude any person or class a priori:

          This statutory limitation on the president’s power to appoint officers of his choosing is almost certainly unconstitutional. The constitution vests the President with the sole authority to nominate executive officers of his choosing. The only constitutional limitation is the incompatability clause – which prevents a member of Congress from serving in any “Office of the United States.”

          Congress has no role in deciding whom the president can nominate. Congress does have a role in the appointment of those officers, but that is limited to the Senate’s “advise and consent” role. In both the nomination and appointment process, the ultimate power lies with the President. Congress cannot limit who the president chooses to appoint as an executive officer. The Senate can withhold consent, but that is as far as they can go in preventing the president’s appointment.

          While the fireworks of a constitutional squabble would be entertaining, I suspect the first item mitigates the second.

    • Mattis is a superior general officer, and the sort of man we need more of, in the military and civilian life.

      However, huge ‘effing comma, I’m not sure that he’s the guy I’d put in charge of the funny five-sided puzzle palace. That job requires a deft hand with the bureaucracy, and an ability to function within an atmosphere very much like the one dramatized in the old “Yes, Minister…” TV series. I’m not sure Mattis is that guy, and I suspect that he’s not going to do as well as everyone hopes he will.

      I hate to have to go here, but because there isn’t an analogous case elsewhere in recent history that people are likely to “get”, but Mattis for SECDEF is a lot like what the Germans did when they put Ernst Udet in charge of Luftwaffe equipment procurement after Meyer killed himself in that plane crash. Yeah, Udet was an aviation hero and pioneer, but the man was horribly mis-cast as “the guy in charge of production and procurement”, and a large part of the reason the Luftwaffe went down to defeat the way it did was due to what Udet did in that job. The jobs are just not analogous in terms of skill sets or personality traits.

      Mattis is a great, probably inspired, combat general. As the guy to clean and run the Augean stables of the Pentagon? I think they’re going to kill him, and wind up with a huge mess on their hands

      That said, I don’t have any candidates for that job that I can think of. Whoever it is, he’s got a truly thankless task ahead of him, trying to clean up after the mess of the last 8 years.

      • I think he may have success exactly because he doesn’t seem to play games– at least, nobody I’ve heard of has attributed any Stupid Officer Tricks to him.

        He seems to actually mean the stuff like standing duty on Christmas because he doesn’t have a family, rather than doing it for show.

        There are a lot of scum-sucking SOBs…well, everywhere, as we both know, but there are a lot of folks who just need someone to inspire them to be better, and be fairly sure that being better won’t be opening themselves up to a punch in the gut.

        • The bureaucracy has been rolling men like Mattis for generations; it’s what they do. Men of honor do not do well in the sort of environment we’ve allowed to fester around the Pentagon.

          Mattis may succeed in fixing a lot of things; I wish him luck.

          What I fear is that he’s going to break his heart trying, and the bastards endemic to that place are going to win. Seen it happen all too many times, and I’ve learned to be very careful in predicting success for men like Mattis.

          The Pentagon has bred a very resilient breed of cockaroach; I fear Mattis is going to end like Tony Montana, holed up in an office somewhere in the “E” ring, having lost his mind.

          • If his first order as SecDef is to order an air strike on the Pentagon, progress at cleaning up DOD may be more rapid.

            • In an alternate universe, where the 9-11 hijackers got their plane to the Pentagon as well….

              • Patrick Chester

                Uh, the hijackers did get to the Pentagon. There was a big hole in its side.

                • I suspect the Marines and Air Force can do a better job destroying the Pentagon than mere terrorists. It’ll just be another example of a government-induced controlled burn.

                  • Which would make it most interesting to re-read an article from old magazine (not which one, nor what year, but I know I have it somewhere) about the building of the pentagon and how it was to be “proof against bombs.” But that was decades ago, and some things do indeed change over time.

                    • …not _sure_ which one…

                    • I recall hearing that the Twin Towers were built to withstand an impact from the largest plane of the day when they were first designed.

                      …and then someone built a bigger plane….

                    • The World Trade Center towers did withstand direct hits from airplanes. It was largely the resultant fires which brought them down, fires which would likely have been unable to do so had they not changed rules to bar asbestos cladding of structural beams halfway through the construction.

                    • At the time of the attack the Pentagon was undergoing structural upgrades to enhance resistance to “events.” Happily(?) the side hit on 9/11 was the side which had recently completed those improvements.

                      I suspect the other four sides have all been rebuilt more robustly since then, and the damage mitigation on the side hit went beyond mere repair.

                    • In Richard Rhodes The Making of the Atomic Bomb, the “bomb-proof” nature of the Pentagon* was alluded to. Mostly, after the Trinity test, by “there goes that idea”. FWIW, his Dark Sun is a fascinating take on the H-bomb and the several aftermaths of the Manhattan Project.

                      * My fingers kept wanting to type “pentacle”. 🙂

                    • Christopher M. Chupik

                      In the Magic Universe, the Pentagon is called the Pentacle.

                    • Pentacle?


                      I thought it hight Pentangle!

                • Oh, yeah… shows how good my memory is.

                  Fine, in an alternate universe where their plane put a Pentagon-sized hole in the ground, rather than just a plane-sized hole in the Pentagon.

                • I think she did a “think in shorthand and smudge it” for the Let’s Roll plane that the passengers were able to stop.

              • c taylor (earth 0)

                In my home timeline the terrorists on the plane to the pentagon DID hit their target. The only one that didn’t was the one likely headed to the capitol. Great… now I’ve got to figure out what else is different here. Do we have Quisp cereal in this timeline? How do y’all spell the lastname author of the Vernstain Bear’s books here?

              • c taylor (earth 1)

                In my timeline the hijackers of the pentagon-bound plane did hit their target! Only the one headed to the capitol building was stopped (by passengers). Great… now I have to figure out where I am today. How do y’all spell the name of the author of the Wernstein Bears books here?

              • c taylor (Earth alpha)

                In my home timeline the 911 plane headed to the pentagon DID hit it. Only the one headed to the capitol was stopped. Great now I have to figure out where I am this morning. How do y’all spell the name of the Wernstain Bears here?

              • c taylor (earth one)

                In my home timeline the terrorists got the Pentagon on 9/11 too. The only plane that didn’t hit its target was the one headed to the capitol. Great… now I have to figure out where I am today. How do y’all spell the Vernstain Bears book titles in this timeline?

              • c taylor (earth prime)

                In my home timeline, the pentagon did get hit by a plane on 9-11. Only the one headed to the capitol was stopped. Great, now I have to figure out where I am today. How do you spell the author’s name of the Vernstain Bears kids books in this timeline?

              • c taylor (earth prime)

                In my home timeline the pentagon was hit by an airliner on 9-11. Only the one headed to the capitol was stopped. Great, now I have to figure out where I am today. How do they spell the name of the Vernstain Bears children’s books in y’all’s timeline?

          • They’re gonna need a bigger maze…

  13. “You can ignore any truckload of carp, provided the story isn’t boring.”

    Which explains why I keep watching Westworld. And am about to drop The Walking Dead entirely.

  14. Just pondering — you have seen Lester Dent’s pulp fiction plot? http://www.paper-dragon.com/1939/dent.html

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I think I’ve seen at least part of it before, but thanks for the link, this is a good time for me.

  15. Hey all, over at MGC there’s a notice that Sarah’s gone to the ER with what might/might not be serious. Kind thoughts and prayers would not be amiss. https://madgeniusclub.com/2016/12/02/announcement/

  16. Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

    IDK, to me pulp looks like something made in the wrong medium. Which probably was one of the reasons why it withered when one, then another medium more fitting for that style (first comics, then animation) became more mass-production friendly.

  17. I have the same reading compulsion but I use Kindle and download free stuff, makes it easier to stop in the middle of a bad book if I don’t feel obligated to “get my money’s worth.” Amazon helpfully tells me if I already read the book so I don’t buy duplicates.

    Some of your readers are aspiring authors themselves. Want to read free books? I’ll send you mine, free, no obligation to critique, respond or even acknowledge. If they stink, go ahead and throw them at the wall (softcover – no damage to repair). Seriously, one compulsive reader to another. What address?

  18. No one yet seems to have pointed out the The Green Man of Greypec was originally published in the 1930s (possibly revised for book publication in 1950s). As 1930s stf goes, it does not sound all that bad …

  19. Prayers for Sarah.

  20. Update on Sarah 1700 Fri CST: She’s being kept overnight in the hospital for observation. (I hope they give her a laptop or a pad and pen, otherwise she may end up writing chapters on the sheets, curtains, walls, slow moving medical students . . .)

    • ‘es got the Holy Hand Grenade of Parris Island

    • I really, really need this for the inside of a desk drawer (where the boss and the students can’t see it.)

    • I dig. Mattis is exactly the right choice, for a crapton of reasons.

      • Just going off the reaction of the whiners, I’d say “Reason Enough”.

        The more I think of all the wrong people Trump could have come up with, I think he has someone feeding him what are possibly the best choices, and he is, for the most part choosing those (or some of their “best” are not so much, but still better’n I feared).

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I say there is room for a nuanced view that reads both this, and Dan’s linked piece at national review.

          http://www.redstate.com/streiff/2016/12/02/mattis/

          I’m not sure Trump is being fed these nominees. He may actually be making competent executive decisions. I dunno.

          We shall see.

          • Well, fed or not, they are better than I expected. I’ll take ’em.

          • Imagine if Christy had remained in charge of the transition team.

            Pence knows Washington and he knows what it requires to be a competent executive. Putting him in charge of the pre-screening is further evidence of Trump’s executive competence.

          • Figuring out someone that’s good to listen to is a competent executive decision. 😀

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              This is true.

              • When you think about his predecessor and the Democrat alternative, the competency bar is set awfully low.

                • That was/is one of my worries. He has made scads of money, so must know something of running things, and at times has shown he can make good executive decisions, then again, I know also he has done some very questionable things, and used the cover of their legality to screw over many others, or had things go to pot like his University.
                  Which one were we going to get? Which one will remain?
                  If he keeps his mind on the fact We The People are the stock holders who will fire his CEO ass early from an already temporary position, we might do okay, but I think we are going to need to ride him even harder than GWB at times.