Emergent

I guess I should start this with a health and doings report, like that Elizabethan woman’s diary.  I bought it (It’s something something, the diary of an Elizabethan gentlewoman) because I was working the Shakespeare times, and I wanted a sense for how people lived day to day.  In a less individualistic time there are very few autobiographies and those might not be representative.  So I bought this book.  And then I read half of it in disbelief and skimmed the rest.

I can’t remember who the woman was. (I have different “tapes” for the different time periods and universes I work in.  (DVDs I should say and even that outdated, but I think of them as tapes, which shows my age.)  When I’m not working in them, I remember nothing, except fuzzy details.  Before I dive back in, I do a skim and reacquaint myself, and then I have names, dates, details at my fingertips.  Part of what disturbed me, back when the thyroid was very bad is that the skim wouldn’t stick.  Never mind, that’s getting better, though not back to normal.) Anyway, whoever the woman is, she lost something like two husbands and three sons to treason, was in danger herself, but most of her diary is the same entry “Prayed, wrought.”

Most of my life is about the same, except I’m not so good about praying.

Anyway, the health — after that extended preamble — and this itself is a preamble to my real point, but since this is a blog and not an editorial, I sort of assume you mugs want to know.  Because you’re family.

I said when I fell it was just my body being my body and I was vaguely annoyed at being dragged to emergency.  I was right.  Yes, there were several anomalies caught in the hours right after the sincope, (sp?) but it didn’t last.  Everything smoothed out, and when I went to my pcp on Wednesday for a follow up and to book the MRI everything was text book.  I now have an appointment with the cardiologist for the week before Christmas, which rather baffles me, since the conclusion of every exam done is that my heart is perhaps too normal.

Then again, this is not my first rodeo.  When I said “this is just my body, being my body” I as talking from a deep experience of something weird happening and then going to doctors’ offices to be told “you’ll never die from this.”  All sorts of specialists, from heart to blood have told me “Well, we don’t know what happened, but your xyz is so normal/on the good end of the curve, you’ll never die from this.”  Let’s call them appointments to confirm my immortality.  I’ll never die from any of these things.

And yet my body throws weird wobblies, before it rights itself.  The thing is it rights itself.  You have to understand, through my childhood, being born too premature and then catching everything, and with the auto-immune ever present (I mentioned to my husband that I wonder if I would be the same person if my eczema throughout all of my childhood didn’t present on the face (eyelids, and around the mouth.  Also my neck.)  I was a not-ugly child and I naturally like people, but having them recoil from you as if you were a horror-show freak (which is what I looked like) pushed me to both introversion and suspicion of others) anyway — no one could have predicted I would live.  And no one fully understands how.  So “It’s just my body being my body” will have to cover a lot of this.

I’m now waiting on results from the MRI.  The good news is I have a brain, which you guys will laugh at, but the thing is, given the early birth, several episodes of low blood ox because asthma and other stuff, and at least to major concussions mean I thought my brain as a shriveled little thing the size of a walnut.  BUT we have to wait to know more.  Of course I hope the delay means it’s nothing much, but that didn’t apply to the growth in my uterus, the biopsy also done around this time.  It’s just Christmas being Christmas and people being on vacation.  So.  We wait. But we really don’t expect anything earth-shattering.  This is just one of those things.  Partly they feel given the horror that is my auto-immune (Though between the thyroid and the prednisone — which damn it  made me gain weight I can’t afford to gain — This is the first time my arms are sore-free in… 15 years?) they want to check for stuff like MS, which I have no symptoms of.

Meanwhile I have new glasses and this was the first time, and I mean FIRST including the first pair of glasses I had, that I put them on and went “Oh,” in sheer relief.  That double vision up and down which I was not conscious of, until the exams forced me to notice it, must really have been wearing.  I felt like my eye muscles unclenched for the first time in probably a year.  The upshot is I can see the screen, which had become a matter of guesswork, and I don’t feel exhausted after writing for an hour.  So that’s the good news.

After this extended prologue, let’s get into “emergent.”

This morning I was thinking how, except for minor details, my brother and I divided our genetic inheritance according to the two families we “come from.”  Alvarim takes after mom’s family and has heart trouble hyper tension and the other physical issues of the family, including early baldness.  Mom’s family has other stuff like paranoia and epilepsy, and bi-polar.  (He might or might not have the last — treated — as mom does.  We don’t delve deeply on that stuff on the phone.)  And I take after dad’s side.  I’m darker too, as they are, (following the idea that Marques comes from a word meaning Moor, though I doubt they actually were.  The genealogical poking I’ve done points at Sephardic Jews.  Of course, the appearance is much the same.) And I have low blood pressure, low heart rate, a tendency to hypotension, and stomach trouble, and the endemic depression of that family line.

The exception seems to be the way our minds work.  My brother is smarter than I, and certainly conventionally smarter than I.  He had an eidetic memory once, when mine was only ever “near eidetic” and he could muster an understanding of fields I couldn’t attempt.  OTOH my brain moves by “erratic brilliance” like mom’s side.  He’s way smarter than I, but he’s predictable.  I’m not.  I will be dumb as rocks until suddenly a blinding insight hits, and then I will outpace experts in some field I’ve just been poking at.

It’s not quantifiable or predictable, which makes it difficult for employers.  It is however okay for someone who works for herself in a pseudo-artistic field.  And sometimes it serves me very well by wielding up something a regular brain could not have come up with in years of patient and sane plodding.

I was thinking of this this morning, and from my erratic mind I jumped to the culture and what is happening in the world.

I follow Richard Fernandez on facebook.  If I never did anything else on facebook, that would be worth it.  He is not just an enormously smart man, but one whose head makes sense to me.  There are people I can tell are very smart, and even right, but my mind can’t bend the way theirs does, and I have to get to the same place by different routes.  He’s not one of those.  He will think of things I never thought of, and then I read it and go “Oh, I should have seen.”

Lately he’s been on a …. not a tear, a mental pathway about black swans and the meaning of what is going on in the world right now, and whether it means a rejection of the progressive project.

I think it does, though not consciously.  People haven’t thought things through yet.  They just know what they know, and what their gut tells them is that all this stuff that’s been pushed on us from above is wrong.  Just wrong.  IOW the pendulum swings and having swung…

It remains to be seen whether they throw the baby out with the bathwater, or if they take bathwater and baby and make something so new, so different that none of us thought about it before.  I’m starting to get a feeling that’s it.

Part of what Richard has been saying is that you can’t predict “emergent.”  The black swan will fly suddenly, when you least expect it.

You can predict emergent even less if you’ve blinded yourself by taking over news and replacing real reporting with “narrative.”  You’re not getting what you need to to predict what is happening.

Thing is, none of us are, because you need to read the western press by ignoring the type and reading the lacunae between the lines to get even a sense of what is really there.  In a way the reporters, taught in schools pushing Marxist theory, aren’t even SEEING what’s really there.  They never remove the narrative glasses to see the world or attempt to see the world at it is.

And yet, Marx is dead.  Marx was always a cult, and cults only withstand so many rounds of disconfirmation before they fall apart (read When Prophecy Fails.)  Though on the way there, the proselytizing fervor becomes greater, as we saw after the fall of the USSR.

And yet, Marx is still dead.  And we as a culture (which means much longer than individuals) will deal with it over the next few decades maybe even to the end of this century and past the end of my life (immortal or not, I’m fairly sure I don’t last anohter 80 years.)

What emerges next we don’t know, and our information organs having been corrupted by Marxism, can’t help.  All we can do is work towards a better future.

Which brings me to a comment on one of Richard’s FB posts in which a man, I presume well intentioned, wailed that we need to figure out what we’re going to do when automation replaces 90% of the jobs.

I gave a snippy reply, because I’m still me, and you guys know my opinion (if not look back through posts.  Yes, I probably should label them, but if you use the search string “With folded hands” you’ll get hits.) I don’t think automation can or will replace 90% of the jobs AS WE KNOW THEM NOW.  Sorry, left, you can’t blame the unemployment on automation.  It didn’t advance that much in 8 years.

But beyond that, automation can’t replace 90% — or really much — of the jobs as we will know them, as they EMERGE in the new world.

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me about the left is what I’d call “Sh*t sentimentality” and a crazy desire for the past.  Growing up, they made me read jobs about how bad some jobs were: cleaning lady, assembly line, miner, server.  BUT now they’re wailing that those jobs will vanish.

There are two keys to this: first, they are truly contemptuous of their fellow men.  The modern leftist is not a worker, nor a man of the people, he is an intellectual, someone who did very well in the indoctrination factories we call schools.  This encourages him to think anyone who doesn’t think like him is stupid, but more importantly, it encourages him to think anyone who doesn’t do well and mind-and-pen tasks is stupid.  I know.  I would have succumbed to that temptation if I hadn’t grown up in a village, where there weren’t enough people to insulate me from contact with people in manual professions who, sure, thought I was nuts reading as much as I did, but who could think faster and better than I in non-intellectual/abstract subjects.

And the second is that the left, thinking they’re smarter, think they have an obligation to “look after” the less intellectually fortunate.  Which is why they are all bent out of shape about these sh*t jobs disappearing.  I mean, yeah, they suck, but how can the left/bureaucrats come up with new jobs to replace the lost ones?  How will they look after the unemployed?  And how can we not care that technology is killing jobs????  How can we not want to beef up the welfare state to look after these poor people too stupid to do anything else?  We’re monsters, I tell you, monsters.

Their anguish is real, even if truly bizarre.  It is a result of their personality type and their education, and it would be unkind to laugh.  You also have to have a heart of stone not to laugh like an hyena.

The thing is the government/bureaucrats/intellectuals have never created jobs.  Humans are clever apes, even those who aren’t into juggling abstract concepts (some are cleverer than those who do juggle abstract concepts.  You can get lost in the pretty pictures in your head.)  We’ve survived changing environments before, even environments WE changed.  We survived the discovery of fire, we’ve survived metal weapons (will no one think of the plight of the flint chippers?  They didn’t even have an all-wise government to tell them what to do next or give them mammoth-meat welfare.)  We’ve survived the industrial revolution and the replacement of jobs, wholesale.

My bet is on humans.  We’ll continue to survive.  We do not need wise bureaucrats to look after 90% of us or hold our hands in the transition.  We ask only one thing of those who think they need to invent the future: LET GO.  Remove your “caring hands” from the throat of the future.  You’re killing it.  Leave it alone and it will emerge, on its own.

And it might very well be better than anything you can imagine.  Sure, it can be worse too, though by and large, human civilization can be defined as “things get better for the common man” despite some truly horrible interludes.

Let go.  Things might come out better or worse.  The only thing I can promise you is that they’ll be weirder than you can imagine.  Which is the point.

No one made you the gods of humanity, and now I think about it our antropomorphic gods were continuously surprised by us, too.

Let go your fear, your anxiety, your sense of superiority over the common man.  Let people be and do in their own self-interest.

We’ll be all right.

285 responses to “Emergent

  1. my heart is perhaps too normal

    Hah!

  2. I once saw an online calculator that predicted how likely your job was to be taken over by automation. No surprise, the more creative your field is, the less able it is to be taken over by automation. And even then, there are sub-fields—candy factories have a lot of automation now, but they still have workers making milleflore-style candies, checking packaging, hand-wrapping shaped chocolates, and the like. There’s only so much automation can do, and it’s usually the boring jobs it takes over.

    On that note, my occasional job, which used to be full-time, didn’t even exist at the turn of this century. So it’s hardly surprising that it’s not something I ever expected I’d do. (Post-production at a photography studio, principally color-correction and photoshop cleanup.)

    • I worked in a chocolate factory for a while. Several large machines but even then, some candies still required you to sit there and make the special marks on top by hand with your finger or a fork or whatever as it moved along the belt. Another specialty candy pretty much required all the machines AND all the workers to gather round and help out. The whole place shut down other production because this one was so labor intensive. And just seeing how even automated packaging machines could go so very wrong, QA always needs bodies.

    • hand-wrapping shaped chocolates

      You mean like…

    • Even with something like cleaning – sure you can get robots to vacuum, and maybe also wash floors soon and so on, but I still don’t see the need for a human to oversee, at the very least, to disappear soon. Because with cleaning you need to eyeball the place which is to be cleaned. It’s not going to be messy the same way every day. One day there will perhaps be fingerprints on the glass doors, the next day not. One day the men’s rooms walls near the urinal have to be washed on that spot but not near it, the next day everywhere. One day somebody has been bleeding in the toilet, which will require different type of cleaning than usually.

      And so on. It’s simple, boring, and pretty repetitive, but you still need to be able to evaluate and think. It will take a while yet before we get robots capable of that.

      • With agriculture, the answer to details requiring judgement is basically “nuke it from orbit.”

        So rather than replacing a human with judgment by having a robot who also exercises judgement, you’d replace human judgment with just short of sanding and repainting the place every time someone hits the “bathroom is dirty” button.

        In the natural course, that happens because it becomes so incredibly cheap to do all that extra work with a machine that the outcome is reasonable; say, making corn into silage (chop the entire plant up) vs hand-harvesting and then selling grazing rights. Eventually, you get machines that can get the ripe ears off the corn and then chop up the immature ears, stalk, etc., but it’s not the immediate thing that comes.

      • Those capabilities (or similar enough that could be adapted) exist. They’re just not economical for a low-cost job like cleaning house.

  3. we need to figure out what we’re going to do when automation replaces 90% of the jobs.

    We’ll do what we’ve always done: muddle through somehow.

    • I love how none of the automation ever will require service or maintenance.

      • We’ll just automate the service and maintenance of the automation : – )

        • That way lies Skynet…

        • It’s at this point that I’m reminded of an old Broom-Hilda comic I clipped and saved (and, unfortunately, lost) years ago:

          Panel 1: Irwin the troll is standing in a narrow pit. Broom-Hilda asks, “Whatcha doin’, Irwin?”

          Panel 2: Irwin responds, “I’m digging a hole to get the dirt to fill that hole, which I dug to get the dirt to fill *that* hole, which…” We see a line of pits going off into the distance.

          Panel 3: Broom-Hilda says, “You’re crazy!” Irwin responds, “You’re just jealous because I have a steady job!”

      • *chuckle* Had that discussion about electrifying on what, rail I think it was? Argument was, electric motors would be better than diesel or what not, because they needed less fuel/maintenance… Can’t remember the whole thing, but as I recall, the arguer did not quite get how electric motors worked, either.

        Things are simpler when you understand only a teeny little bit of them.

        • Everything is simpler when it’s magic.

        • When I was in high school, I wanted to develop a very simple electric-motor frame — using, say, 1/2″ copper piping and cloth for the body — almost a four-person motorized bicycle — with the idea that anything more substantial would require a HUGE motor and LOTS of batteries.

          I was trying to work out an elaborate shock absorber system, because I realized that such a structure wouldn’t have a prayer in an accident with a *real* car.

          After Graduate School, I spent some time working for a company that sells parts for electric car conversion. The motors were HUGE — the size of engines, actually — and they were having trouble figuring out how to cool the beasts. The batteries typically filled up the trunk of the car.

          So, yeah: unless you have any inkling about what goes on into designing something like this (one of my goals was to design a relatively simple system that could be repaired easily), it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it’s simple…

          (And since I never gathered any physical parts to put together this experiment, to this day I have no idea what *horrors* in design and engineering I would have encountered. The first one, most likely, would have been “The motor(s) I want to use are *way* too small.”)

          • Years and years ago, when the GM EV1 was the new hotness, PM or someone similar did an interview with Burt Rutan about the design.
            If I remember correctly, his take was that GM should have stuck a small motor in there to help charge up the batteries.

            • And then, after they discontinued it, someone made a movie about “Who Killed the Electric Car?” which of course blamed the oil companies, but really, the EV1 killed the electric car. I read an article by a FAN of the thing, who said that he had to baby it to get close to the claimed range of 90 miles. No one wants a car that can only do 90 miles on a charge.

              • I don’t know the brand or model, but I heard from a guy at a hilly utility who told of a neighbor who had an electric car – and how the passengers had to get out for it to go up the hill to the neighbor’s home.

                It gets . . . I don’t know. Why are electric cars supposed to be the wave of the future? Is it like the attraction of railroads? I’m not against them, nor am I against hybrids, which really sound like a good idea on paper. Yet the hybrid move initially came from the idea that they’d be ideal fleet vehicles, particularly trucks. The idea of hybrid trucks was that you could plug in tool without having to carry around a separate generator, with more available amps than an inverter. Yet I don’t know anyone who went with hybrid trucks, or if they’re still available.

                Ironically, we do have cheap electric cars for running about the suburbs. They’re called golf carts, and they are very popular for that purpose.

              • Had a bunch of friends discussing electric vehicles and wondering why they weren’t so popular here in Canada. I explained to them that until you could get a vehicle that would be able to get at least 300 km (180 miles) on a single charge in the middle of winter, they would go nowhere. All of them paused and agreed with me. You see they understand how batteries work, or don’t, in the subzero temperatures we get for about half the year. Modern photographers have to worry about this when walking around outside a lot.
                Currently the “best” electric vehicle on the market here is the Kia Soul EV (or something like that) with a “range” of 150 km. Even after all the subsidies it’s still about $3,000 more then the IC version.

                • This is part of why the hybrid engine is ideal. The internal combustion motor generator can be configured to run at optimum rpm for fuel consumption and minimal emissions, while the electric system can shift the power draw upon the generator and/or batteries as needed, with excess generation used for charging batteries.

                  This should greatly increase range and ease of charging while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The problem is that it does not present itself as “zero” in those categories, largely because the electricity is produced on site instead of at some distant “invisible” power plant.

                  Lacking the virtue signalling cachet of the pure electric motor it is a case of the perfect being enemy of the good.

                  History indicates that such hybrid systems would enjoy significant refinement and improvements over the years, achieving the desired results through an incorrect method, which would be a bad thing.

          • Electric motors are pretty compact nowadays, far more so than the equivalent internal combustion engine. They are also far simpler to build and maintain with much less that can go wrong with them. Also, the amount of resources spent on designing and improving electric motors is minuscule to what has been spent on internal combustion engines so I expect much more room for improvement.

            Pretty much in all ways, the electric motor is superior to internal combustion engines except it’s for the simplicity and capacity of it’s ‘fuel’ system. Until they can come up with batteries or some other system that is as effective and easy to use as a tank of gas, electric cars will remain a niche product.

        • Ah yes – the fun discussions of how long an extension cord it would take to run an electric airplan…

          • I always love that the electicity the electric car advocates talk about is 1/4 or less of what my local power utility charges.

            Of course, even I could buy it at that rate, the local power grid is ancient and undersized, the our lights flicker when the neighor’s air conditioner cycles. A 200 amp load would probably brown out most of the street.

            • Let me guess: You and your neighbor share the same transformer. Some utilities do that. We don’t do that much anymore, because we’ve had 10 Kva transformers trip under the load of one house. 15 and 25 Kva are common per house for us now.

              The reason your lights blink because your neighbor’s AC cycles is likely because manufacturers no longer put the starting capacitors on the motors like they once did. I specified a “hard start” kit for our central heating and cooling for that reason, and also because I suspect (no evidence) that it might lengthen the life of the motor. As a result, our lights don’t blink when it comes on.

              That said, most residential services aren’t built to handle charging electric cars, at least not rapid charging. For that matter, most aren’t built to handle on-demand electric water heaters, either.

              At some point cost trumps efficiency. You can buy a lot of fuel for the cost difference of some of these systems.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Obviously that’ll be done by robots. 👿

    • Muddling through is pretty much America’s primary talent; for every great disaster we’ve been predicted to endure, we somehow manage to get out from under the “X” every damn time. It’s like fate and historical circumstance are Wiley Coyote, and we’re the Roadrunner.

      Up until lately, I was pretty sure we’d run out of luck, and finally pissed off the Gods of the Copybook Headings beyond repair. After Trump won the election, I’m kinda sitting here in a state of shock, going “Those tricksy bastards… Coyote seems to be in charge of our fate…”.

      Remains to be seen what happens, but the entertainment value is gonna be “Yuuuuuuuge…”. I’m already liking Trump, just for the damage he’s doing to the self-important self-esteemed classes. I mean, Mattis for SECDEF? LOL… The five-sided Puzzle Palace isn’t gonna know what hit it. Granted, the bureaucracy may manage to swamp Mr. Mattis, but… I’m gonna give him good odds of success. It’ll be fun to watch, no matter what.

      Trump’s administration will be entertaining, if nothing else. Final outcome, of course, will be for history to judge, but I actually think we might have one to look at, in years to come.

      As to the “replace workers with automation” thing–They’ve been promising us automation for a lot of things that haven’t managed to quite materialize, just yet. Construction, for one–I see a great market for augmentation, but when you get down to it, the vast majority of what you do on a construction site requires people, no matter how many machines you throw at it. We’re a hell of a long ways off from producing a robot that can do finish carpentry.

      What I think is going to happen is that there’s going to be a huge shift away from things that basically require human automatons, like assembly-line work, and towards work that requires a thinking, creative human being. To use the finish carpentry example, robots aren’t likely to develop to the point where they can assess and work with the esthetics of wood grain, and “making things look right” anytime soon. If there’s art involved, as opposed to engineering and science, there will always be a place for the polyvalent human being. Which is, as of yet, the most adaptable thing on the planet. Whatever happens, there will be dislocations, but there will also be adaptations. You may well see the disappearance of jobs like sous chef, as robots come along that can do the work of prep, but the chef himself will always be there, in the center of the kitchen. At least, for the good stuff…

      • The jobs truly at risk are as you say the low skilled repetitive and entry level tasks. And the threat of their replacement by automation is only exacerbated by the current movement by the progressive left wing intellectuals demanding an unrealistic minimum wage. A government can dictate the minimum an employer may pay those they hire. What it cannot do is prevent that employer from replacing a human job with automation or eliminating three entry level jobs and replacing them with a single task performed by a much more skilled and well paid worker.

        • low skilled repetitive… what the ivory tower idiots fail to realize is that their own favoured fields also have entry-level jobs. What’s lower-paid than a minimum wage job? An internship, of course. But they’ll work for free when they can’t work for a job.

          And just when they think paperwork is eternal, along comes nolo’s software packages for filling in legal forms instead of using entry level or higher lawyers, and Amazon’s KDP to bypass all the low-level and high-level jobs in publishing…

        • > unrealistic minimum wage

          Which nicely complements the unrealistic educational credentials.

          “Sorry, just a Ph.D in Fast Food Service won’t get you on second shift at Burgers-R-Us. How much postdoc work have you done?”

        • What it cannot do is prevent that employer from replacing a human job with automation …

          I’m sure they CAN prevent that with a sufficiently ill-considered law. But then that employer will go out of business, and the politicians never WILL get those $15-an-hour jobs they were promising their constituents.

          • Or by use of regulatory authority– family friend’s son just barely squeeked by with a spa they started with a new imported machine, because the FDA was trying to decide if it should be classified as a medical device and thus have to be certified as effective in addition to “not harmful.”

      • Trump in general appalls me (not, however, within orders of magnitude of how much H appalls me), but I’ll give him this: he makes all the right heads explode. Very entertaining.

        • I’ve gotten the only thing I was expecting from Trump, namely that.

        • Well his cabinet choices are pretty interesting. So far, three generals? I don’t get the impression he’s selected a bunch of ‘yes men’. On the other hand I doubt Trump will have much reluctance in firing anyone who doesn’t meet his expectations. An idea for a reality show perhaps?

      • richardmcenroe

        Frankly, I do’t think Loki, Anansi, Coyote, Pan and Puck on a drinking binge could have pulled this one off. This election smells like one of Zeus or Odin’s more elaborate jests. Hopefully not one of their darker ones.

      • I do merchandising for one of my day jobs. There are people in the field who act like mindless automatons and there are those who treat reading a planogram like reading music. The ones who act like automatons burn out. The ones who treat it like art are in higher demand that anybody outside of the field would believe.

  4. First off, get well. As well as you can. Prayers being said.

    Second, driving into work this A.M., kept thinking about Berkeley, where we lived for a year and near for the last 30 years. This is the place where a) they are wetting their natural-fiber pants over climate change because Science! while b) shopping for probiotics and organic kale at Whole Foods while on the way to get their chakras adjusted and pick up a few more crystals. The government-funded science that shows that vaccines are, on the whole, a very good thing is hopelessly corrupt – but the government-funded science that shows we are all going to drown in boiling water as we choke to death on CO2 is pure as the driven snow. All those people who sell heavily subsidized solar panels and Teslas are the Good Guys! One can easily multiply examples.

    I don’t know if cognitive dissonance is a strong enough term for this. On a more analytic and historical note, once Hegel had done away with the Law of Noncontradiction and introduced Enlightenment as the only means to philosophical progress – well, you get Marx, and people not even as smart as Marx getting enlightened about all sorts of stuff – and not sweating that it makes no sense whatsoever. And then wanting to save the rest of us (or kill us – same thing.) as you point out.

    • “I don’t know if cognitive dissonance is a strong enough term for this.”

      I think the term you’re looking for is “insanity.”

    • These poor snowflakes have been sold The Big Idea, the Solution To All Problems, the Panacea For The Ages and they stand holding it, uncomprehending that this $3 stuffed bear they spent $24 to win at the Ring Toss booth is not going to make their lives better.

      Hillary was the Most. Qualified. Evah! person to run for president, and Trump was least. qualified. evah. The nation’s demographic shift guar-an-teed unending Democratic control for ever. They’ve been fed so much manure that they cannot believe there is no pony. And they have never before been told that sometimes you lose.

      No wonder they’re reacting like three-year-olds.

  5. Until my father’s generation, all my ancestors were farmers, loggers, or miners. That is except for the ones who were following the reindeer herds around northern Scandinavia. 90% of those jobs have already disappeared.

    I’ve done various skilled and semi-skilled jobs in the industrial economy: Machinist, Aircraft Mechanic, Truck Driver. I am not defined by those jobs. Nor am I defined by other things I’ve done: Mr. Mom in Germany, Derelict Skydiver, University Student. I expect I’ll find productive things to do after I “retire” in a few years.

    • I’ve done many things in my life, and hopefully will do a few more. I’m still the same guy.

      However, I’ve known a number of people to whom their job was such a large part of their lives that, for all practical purposes, it was their *identity.*

      • On the useful game of “List 10 things you are”, profession or job are usually in that list of 10. Usually in the middle, rarely #1, 2, or 10. If military, their rank is in there- unless they’re military doctors. But yes, for the most part, people’s jobs are interwoven into their identities.

      • I had a bit of an identity crisis when I quit to raise my family. And I was used to taking criticism. But geophysicist to housewife was a big step down in the world’s eyes, and I had internalized those values.

        Right now, a lot of the low workforce participation problem is draining its retirement savings, waiting for Social Security to kick in.

        Could be “interesting” with the Baby Boomers as destitute retirees, while the younger generation struggles to get out from under college loans while under employed.

        NOT the emergent situation I want to see. But then it’s in process, so hardly a Black Swan. But the psychological effects and the cultural adjustments may be. Fewer kids, more death panels? Or will senior nursing be the hot new profession?

  6. Yep. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next.

  7. we’ve survived metal weapons (will no one think of the plight of the flint chippers?

    And flint was replaced by copper. Ever try to put an edge on copper? I can just hear the arguments when the first copper came in to a village where folks were used to flint tools:

    “You have to be kidding me, Bill. Yeah, it’s pretty and all, but just look at the edge on my flint knife – you can’t get anything close on that new copper crap. Bertrand over there had to work three times as hard and took twice as long to slice up a goat with his new copper knife. It’s more like a slightly sharp small club!”

    “Sure, Erhardt, but the smith can make five of these copper knives from bar in the time it takes you to flake one flint one! That means lots more people have something to cut with. And look at this copper chisel – it will chip stone!”

    “But think it through Bill; we’re one of the main trading centers for the next village up in the hills, which has the best flint from the mountains to the sea – what will we do for trade if no one wants flint anymore? And what about the flint chippers? And my brother’s boy Gerhardt just apprenticed as a flint arrowhead binder. We have to get ahead of this! Maybe the Clan Chief can do something.”

    That’s not going to happen – I was in the market two weeks ago at Rivertown where the Clan Chief lives, and copper tools were all over the place. He’s got his cut, and he’s all in on copper.”

    “Well, maybe we can get the Earth-Priest to say copper offends the Earth-Gods, or at least restrict it’s use to just a few people with the right bloodlines, or somesuch. We have to do something!”

    • Might there be copper in them thar hills? Jobs in prospecting/mining for copper and the infrastructure needed to support same might more than supplant the flint procurement and knapping industry, And wouldn’t the binding of arrowheads be pretty much the same process regardless of whether those arrowheads were made of stone or metal?

      But your point is made: Folk can be stubbornly resistant to a change in their circumstances.

      • And then some smart-ass plays around with combining copper and tin – all of a sudden, you need a big expansion in your merchant marine to make the long voyage up to Britain…

        (You also need to beef up your Marines, to travel to that exotic land, meet exotic people that like to paint themselves blue – and kill them.)

    • And no sooner did copper become a thing, than some meddling character found that throwing a bit of a special dirt into the melt resulted in a much tougher more edge holding metal. Let’s call it bronze.
      And years later, in the mystic east, either China or the Indian subcontinent, an even more enterprising bloke came up with something they called iron. A sword made from it would cut right through that fancy bronze one of yours.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        IIRC an iron sword wasn’t as good as a bronze sword (a steel sword was another matter) but bronze swords were more expensive than iron swords.

        So it wasn’t that iron swords were better than bronze swords, it was a matter that you could arm more of your people with iron swords than you could arm them with bronze swords.

        Of course, if you got your hands on a steel sword, people would call it a “magic sword”. 😉

        • Or “Damscus Steel”.

        • Then they found out that iron from some locations was different, harder, held an edge. Since it was worth more, and you had to import it raising the price even more, smart blademakers started welding an edge of the hard stuff onto a soft cheap doesn’t-shatter iron core – so they could make enough good knives and swords for all the local nobles, not just one or two.

        • Terry Sanders

          Bronze is also heavier. A lighter sword is a better sword.

        • Of course, if you got your hands on a steel sword, people would call it a “magic sword”.

          Ex Caliburn?

    • But the flint-knappers are still out there… and that reminds me; the Discretionary Spending Fund now contains enough to purchase the services of one.

      Up on eBay there are people who will knap anything you want, for what looks like absurdly low prices. Sure, I could carry a stainless steel folder that looks like a prop from a manga comic, with laser-etched deaths-heads and LED eyes that light up… or I could have a nice fixed blade that will laugh at metal detectors.

      • My university offers a flint-knapping class. For obvious reasons, they sat outside with taps spread on the ground to practice their class work.

        • I’d love to learn how to do that. Might come in handy in a pinch. There’s also the case where a guy undergoing heart surgery presented his surgeon with knapped scalpels. The edge was keener than steel.

          Could the problem with stone vs metal have been one of durability instead of skill. There was one site where archeologists determined a look-out sat. They did so by the pattern of fragments left over from knapping. They figure that he was making or sharpening points while on watch. There was also an Ice Age kill where archeologists found indications they had to sharpen their stone blades while processing the carcass.

        • I would think that class would be more appropriate for a trade school.

    • Putting an edge on copper isn’t too bad. It’s keeping the edge that’s the problem.

  8. As for all those leftists believing they have to “take care” of those unfortunate multitudes that can’t swallow the whole leftist doctrine of craziness, here’s my political philosophy, boiled down into three easy-to-understand precepts:

    1) I’m not bothering anybody.
    2) It’s none of your business.
    3) Leave me alone!

  9. Quite a few years ago, I flew across the country to see my oldest friend for her fiftieth birthday. She lived in western Massachusetts, and while I was there she took me on a tour of used bookstores. One of them had something more than an entire wall of literary criticism, and roughly one-third was Marxist and one-third was Freudian. And I felt a kind of vertigo or nausea, and I said to myself, “Don’t these people realize that their two theories of human behavior have been scientifically obsolete for decades?”

    My own brain seems to do something almost diametrically opposite from yours. I rarely have flashes of inspiration (the last was when I was running an RPG set in the Discworld, and I woke up and thought, “Oh, the murder victim will come back as a zombie and interfere with the investigation!”); my thinking is very step by step, going by exhaustive logical analysis of the available information. And yet it routinely lands me in places that most people don’t agree with and may not understand.

    My wife just told me about getting e-mail from her university administration asking what they could do to help students cope with the emotional stress of elections—things like therapy dogs. I said, “They need to hold regular political debates where students are exposed to different belief systems, so they’ll be desensitized and it won’t be traumatic for them.” Really, one of the underrated benefits of being a libertarian is that you get a lifetime of people confidently asserting things that sound wrong or crazy to you, and it stops freaking you out so much.

    • You are absolutely right on the debates.

      • Pointing and screeching is not “debate”…

      • A wise man once said that suppressing dissent was more dangerous for the suppressors. Shouting down the badthink people is a cheap thrill, and they get to pretend that they actually won an argument, and are winning the culture war. It isn’t.

      • But, but, but … if you decide to expose your student to actual debate they might embrace incorrect ideas.

        There is even greater challenges if you propose to teach students to debate. That would require teaching your students to collect, evaluate and utilize information for themselves. Then they might not need you anymore.

    • “A tour of used bookstores. One of them had something more than an entire wall of literary criticism, and roughly one-third was Marxist and one-third was Freudian. And I felt a kind of vertigo or nausea, and I said to myself, ‘Don’t these people realize that their two theories of human behavior have been scientifically obsolete for decades?'”

      Perhaps they do. After all, one of the features of USED bookstores is that they contain things that people no longer want. Console yourself with the thought that the reason these things are sitting in the bookstore is that the people who owned them realized they were irrelevant garbage.

      (Yeah, I know, I lived in Western Mass for a while too, so I know it’s not likely, but sometimes you just have to grasp at the straws).

    • Man, I wanna be in on your Discworld RPG ^_^

      • Thank you! The premise was that King Verence decided that if Ankh-Morpork had a Watch then Lancre should have a Watch too, and assigned Shawn Ogg to recruit one. It was a mini-campaign, only six sessions, but I had fun running it. Comedy is trickier to pull off in an rpg than action/adventure, so I was happy that it worked.

        Steve Jackson Games has a new Discworld book coming out for their GURPS system any day now, and I’m eager to get my copy.

  10. “will no one think of the plight of the flint chippers? They didn’t even have an all-wise government to tell them what to do next or give them mammoth-meat welfare.”

    My teacher called it “flint knapping” when I learned it while studying to be an anthropologist. *grin* Don’t know if that’s what it’s really called, or if my teacher was just giving it his own name for it, but it’s harder than you might think! I’m rather glad we don’t have to do that to get a sharp edge these days.

    The rest of those improvements, yeah, they’re good too. *chuckle*

    • It is knapping. At least, that’s what the nice instructor told me…

      What I’m suddenly wondering, prompted on this thread, is just how much of the disruption we now know surrounded the end of the Stone Age was due to metals coming in, and bringing the concomitant economic dislocations with them. Was Gobekli Tepi abandoned because the stone-based economy collapsed? What about all the signs we’re finding of widespread dislocations taking place across Europe, like the recent battle-site finding?

      I really need to do some reading, and look at the dating again. I’m starting to wonder if all that might not have been due to the whole “technology change” coming in, with the early Bronze Age. Economic historians usually don’t go back that far, but I wonder if the whole thing might not have been due the disruptions in the trade networks, which we know spread across much of Eurasia. If people no longer wanted the flints, but instead wanted copper and tin from somewhere else…? Disruption.

      • Kirk, try the first chapters of B. Cunliffe’s _By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean_. He outlines some of the big picture things that happened, as best we can tell, during the transition from late Stone Age – Copper Age – Bronze Age. He has a bibliographic essay instead of a true bibliography (darn him to heck) but you can get a sense of what monographs are out there that he’s drawing from.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        A little-known Bronze Age tribe tried their hand at training war goats, and put an edge on their horns for more effective headbutting. They had to start them young for optimum trainability, leading of course to the world’s first kid knapping.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Knapping is the proper word.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knapping

    • It is knapping. I was just flying by the seat of the pants as usual, and didn’t get the right word. Eh.

    • scott2harrison

      Oddly enough, for a really sharp edge (such as needed for a microtome) the last I heard, they were still using freshly broken glass which is related to flint knapping.

    • It’s kind of like “spear thrower” vs “atlatl” or “holy water thrower” vs “aspergillum.”

      Not quite jargon, but you usually end up having to explain it if folks don’t already know what you’re talking about. (And most of them will be D&D players.)

  11. But beyond that, automation can’t replace 90% — or really much — of the jobs as we will know them, as they EMERGE in the new world.

    Since the original Luddites faced the industrial revolution to the modern Luddites now facing the technological revolution we have had people wringing their hands moaning that whatever% of jobs (usually highly exaggerated numbers) will be lost. The job ‘pie’ is no more a fixed thing than the economic ‘pie’.

    Yes, with change we loose certain jobs*, but other jobs will be created. People have done it before, look to history. Two hundred and fifty years ago the great majority of people in any society were farmers. Two hundred years ago if you wanted to travel across land you did so on foot or by animal power. (I doubt that very few at the time could have imagined a world where this was not the case.) The world not only survived the changes brought by the industrial revolution where it occurred, but flourished.

    * Frankly, I suspect most of us are quiet happy to live in a time and place where night soil carriers no longer have employment, but plumber do.

    • Yep. Steamships meant the replacement large numbers of highly trained sailors were replaced by low skilled stokers… who were then out of work when ships started using oil instead. And of course, the rise of the jet airliner meant that fleets of passenger ships were no longer needed for intercontinental travel.
      And let’s not mention the economic disruption caused by shifting from clean, organic whale oil to petroleum. Think of all the poor whalers put out of work!

    • And even the Luddites were not complaining about technology per se, just the latest scale-up of technology that made their skills no longer as profitable. First came the spinning jenny. That made more thread and lowered the cost to the weavers, who could weave more and have a higher income, so that was fine. Power looms were not so fine, because they meant that the brief window of financial improvement for the hand-loom weavers had closed. At the same time there were other protests because of grain prices and complaints about not using the moral “just price” of tradition.

  12. >I thought my brain as a shriveled little thing the size of a walnut<

    Aha! The Beautiful (but Evil) Space Princess, Latin nomenclature Sarahsaurus Rex (Hoytasaurus Regina?)

    It was explained to me once when I wondered on-line how the genes for my excessive near-sightedness could have survived through the hunter-gatherer period of humanity's cultural development since someone with vision as bad as mine would regularly run the risk of running off the edge of a cliff while on, say, a saber-toothed mammoth hunt. It was pointed out that someone had to sit back at the campfire knapping the flint spear- and arrowheads the hunters were using, and while the hunters were away . . .

    Also that terrific vision is not required to sneak up on roots and tubers.

    Makes sense to me.

    • For what it’s worth, if your vision isn’t corrected, your brain kind of “works around” it– I lost my glasses at one point for nearly a month, and while I did not get detail at a distance, I did get adapted to being able to see better than when I just take off my glasses.

  13. It’s not so much a question of what we’re going to do when automation replaces 90% of the jobs we have now. It’s what jobs are going to be around when 90% of the jobs we have now have either been automated, displaced (buggy whips, anyone?), or become no longer something supported by consumers (pet rocks?).

    Yes, I would say that in terms of employment numbers, 90% of current jobs can be automated, even with current technology (or modifications that don’t require any real breakthroughs), but for the majority of those, the entry cost is too high. Yet one day it will not be.

    However, as was also mentioned, we don’t know what jobs will even exist by the time that happens, and they will probably take longer, and cost more to automate.

    The problem is generally that, as automation progresses, those with low ability to adapt or learn, will struggle to find things they can do, and that will be a problem that needs to be addressed.

    • Doubtless at some point a clever accountant will figure out a new way for a business to keep track of the cost attributable to each automaton. This clever gimmick will take the accounting world by storm. In a generation or two, it will be indistinguishable from paying wages to robots and we’ll be right back where we started, except that Bender Bending Rodriguez will be marching along with snowflakes demanding an increase in the minimum wage.

      • I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here, but I don’t think that changing accounting practices is going to change the cost to the business for using automation. Nor do I think that a bottle capping machine (to take an easy example from my head) is going to be agitating for increased bennies.

    • Not if you remove the fricking regulations that keep people-jobs from being created. Seriously. The baristas and their equivalent we will always have with us. People touch. I’d have been perfectly happy to split my earnings in two (still would be) with someone who came in and did the housekeeping portion of my job. She could even bring kids. I love kids. But I can’t do that, and the paperwork on both sides make that undoable. So there is some nice woman with two kids taking welfare or doing without as a stay at home mom, and there’s me trying to do everything and being held back by the number of hours in the day and making myself ill.

      • You’ve hit on one of the hardest things to automate, though, with housekeeping. There are literally thousands of jobs out there that could be done completely unsupervised, but are not currently done because the cost of entry is too high to justify it.

        “Barista” is actually a relatively skilled job, if you think about it. Keeping the orders straight is fairly demanding mentally, especially when they are busy. But that’s one that could be automated any time someone gets pissed off one too many times because the barista insulted them, probably without even realizing it.

        There’s a big difference between “could” and “is currently cost-effective”. I am pretty sure that even housekeeping could be automated almost completely, but the cost would be insane.

        Plus, yes, there will always be jobs where people WANT to interact with a human, and not a machine.

        • Feather Blade

          Automated housekeeping tends to run into the “Roomba in a house with incontinent pets” problem.

        • Don’t forget that Barista was a very, very rare job in the USA 20-30 years ago.

          • I point out to people that when I was young- if a woman got her nails done at all, it was at the beauty shop by the beautician, not at a nail salon. And it had to be some sort of really special occasion to have them done. Seems to me that today that an enormous amount of money is spent getting nails done. To my mind, a completely useless activity and waste of money, time, and effort, but to many women a necessary weekly stop.

            OTOH, my father in 1960 had a standing weekly appointment at the barber shop 2 doors down from the store he managed. I get my hair cut 4 or 5 times a year, when the following coincide- 1. I have money in my pocket (barbers don’t take credit cards) 2. I’m passing by the barber shop and it’s open 3. I have time to stop. It’s still a great place to catch up on local gossip.

            • Just try to be a professional women with nails that aren’t ‘well-kept”. You can do them for your self but it’s more convenient if you have the money to get them done. They are as essential to a woman who works in a on office as a good suit is to a man. More actually, because men can go to work in some offices in a button down shirt and dockers. A woman won’t get a front office job, receptionist or executive secretary, if she doesn’t have a manicure. A business woman is judged first on her appearance. How does she look? How does she sound? I don’t mean thin. I mean does she neat and well-groomed? A good manicure is as essential to a business woman as a good shave is to a man. It’s easier to give yourself a good shave than it is to dye your own hair or paint your own nails. I grew up in New York City (60’s–90’s) where many corporate headquarters were located.

              Sorry to beat a dead horse or to take the topic too seriously, but I lived it when I was younger.

              • I think that manicures have gone the way that so many other things have gone – they were once primarily for the well-to-do, and only done as a “splurge” for the less wealthy, but have become a staple as costs have come down and availability has gone up.

              • I have no idea how many jobs did not go to me because of wrongly-fitted clothing. I had no idea how they looked until I got a job at a photography studio and ended up in a lot of test shots—it turns out that if you’re built on a tall scale, but you’re not buying clothes scaled that way, even short sleeves don’t work, because the shoulder seam is too short. And when you’re a broke college student, shopping for nice clothes on a strict budget, you don’t have access to clothing on a tall scale.

                Lots of really nice clothing at thrift stores and discount stores. But even most upscale stores don’t stock Tall sizes for women. And at that point in time, online catalogs weren’t at the really usable point.

                The worst part is that it’s totally unconscious at that point. “Doesn’t look right” is a subtle thing, and looking like you’re starting to grow out of your clothing (or that it shrunk in the wash) makes you look badly-dressed, no matter if the color and cut are otherwise flattering.

                Manicures? Hah. At least at the photography studio, “brutally short” was a viable option. I can’t stand long nails. I need my hands for too many things where they’d get in the way.

      • I used to have a one-man business. I noted how much time I spent doing non-profitable work, so I thought about hiring someone to clean up and answer the phone.

        Wrong. It swiftly became apparent that I couldn’t hire just one person; I’d have to hire a second one to do the paperwork overhead for the first one…

    • or become no longer something supported by consumers (pet rocks?).

      Now THAT was something that needed gubmint regulation… just look at all the feral rocks nowadays. It’s worse than rabbits in Australia.

  14. I wonder if the election of DJT will prove to be the “Gods of the Copybook Headings limp up to explain it once more” moment.
    Hoping so. Because I really am not looking forward to the alternative terror and slaughter.

    • One of Kipling’s great poems.

      • The unofficial anthem of this blog.

        • The official one is John Williams’ Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back, but you can’t really sing along to it. It’s more of a humming, nodding your head kind of anthem, really.

          • Wait, in 36 years no one has written (good) lyrics?

            • You can do the macarena to it….

            • The committee responsible for those lyrics keeps trying to go rogue and replace the official anthem with “Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Way.” Which action can usually only be dissuaded by the vigorous use of whips. Which then encourages someone at the next committee meeting to use the earlier whipping as a justification for the change, which leads to more whipping, and so on and so forth.
              Hence, no. No good lyrics yet.

          • BAH Imperial March … A cheap copy of Holst’s Mars movement of “The Planets”.

        • Gods of the Copybook Headings and Recessional are two of my favorites. 😉

        • And the official anthem is what, High Hopes?

          • Huns. Does that sound like people who will tolerate anything official?

            As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
            I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
            Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
            And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

            We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
            That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
            But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
            So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

            We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
            Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
            But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
            That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

            With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
            They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
            They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
            So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

            When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
            They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
            But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
            And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

            On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
            (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
            Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
            And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

            In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
            By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
            But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
            And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

            Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
            And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
            That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
            And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

            As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
            There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
            That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
            And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

            And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
            When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
            As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
            The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

  15. At last summer’s WorldCon, we watched a panel headed by Patrick Nelson Hayden (the Baen editor was on it also, or we wouldn’t have gone), and the topic came up where the future was going, and PNH said, almost sotto voce, “Affluent Communism.” I almost called out, “Like Venezuela?”, but managed to restrain myself.

  16. I wonder if the typical Marxist doesn’t have some unconscious synergy in how he looks at the working class and the jobs they do – to wit, “Those are hideous jobs beneath real people, so hurry up and do them for us so we can live our elevated lives!” The Star Trek episode “The Cloudminders” comes to my mind as a great illustration. From this point of view, five menial jobs taken by a machine is a bad thing in large part because it obviously requires skilled people to design, build, and maintain that machine – and that’s obviously brain power used by people who are far more accomplished than the do-nothing busybody Marxist. It makes him feel bad about himself to see people achieve while he can only sit and whine and make pointless demands, and this reminder of his essential uselessness is intolerable.

    Only after the menial jobs are lost will they be retconned into “artisan craft” that took old-fashioned skill and human effort. Expect paeans to the “lost human face” of sandwich artistry and short-order cooking. The formerly-faceless drones of a soulless corporation will only become noble workers after this argle-bargle has put them out of work entirely.

    • I suspect the Romantic Marxists, some of them, have that take, The rest are still nodding along with William Blake and decrying the “dark, Satanic mills” that forever ruined the life of the rural farmers who lived in cooperative harmony with eachother, and so on and so forth. The idealistic Marxists I’ve crossed paths with (as opposed to the academics who Marx) can’t tell the skilled trades from ditch diggers (which actually has an art to it if you are doing irrigation ditches), and are still complaining that the working class is so blinded by the bourgouis cultural hegemony that they don’t recognize that they are a class for themselves and so should be rising up and taking back the fruits of their labor and demanding full government support.

      • I get so tired of hearing, “you’re voting against your own self-interest!” They don’t seem to realize (or perhaps they just don’t care) that they’re insulting our intelligence with this claim, and that we clearly recognize the insult.

        • It’s only because they ***know*** so much better than we do what our best interests are.

        • The thing that puzzles me is why voting against your own self-interest is supposed to be a bad thing. I mean, I suppose that the average university educated leftist would be deeply insulted if you told them “You’re voting for your own self-interest” (or “for the interest of your class”) and would feel the urge to say, “No, I’m better than that!” But when working class people think the same way, it’s terrible. . . .

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            *Tugs forelock*

            Squire, I think they may have a racist antipathy for the ways of my people.

        • If they bloody cut down on taxes and red tape – especially red tape – there is a chance I would get out of such “demeaning” jobs like cleaning because I have had several ideas for things which might bring some profit, only in the end I have never dared to try any because none are certain, or even half certain, and if I tried to see if something would work I would be spending half of the time dealing with the red tape (and I’m not good with that even when I’m in top form, the things they ask in those papers aren’t logical even half of the time, and the alternatives when it’s check the box, what are you supposed to do when none of the offered alternatives fit your situation? – and besides it requires being able to concentrate well and think, and you’d have to do it also in winter when I don’t concentrate or think well), and besides in this country you can’t have a personal bankruptcy so if I took a loan for the attempt with personal backing and it failed… there are people here who are still paying for their small businesses which failed in the early 90’s, and will continue to do so until they die, and unable to try anything new due to that – and some of them won’t work for anybody else for the reason that if they did most of their pay would go towards paying those debts, and they would still never be able to pay them off, not in their lifetime. So they stay on government dole.

          Which all combined make the idea of attempting something risky, and downright scary, compared to working for somebody else. Cleaning or paper routes bring certain money.

          And then our appointed rulers wonder how they might increase entrepreneurship in this country because especially the young will rather stay on unemployment benefits and other government aid for half their lives than try to start their own businesses…

          • Bureaucrats are, generally, the persons least capable of understanding entrepreneurship.

            • Yes. And it has been “protect the employees” to the point hardly anybody wants to be the employer, unless you are already well off enough that you can start by buying an already prosperous firm.

          • Kiti, you need to get to the US somehow. For all our problems, we’re much friendlier to small businesses and startups than that.

      • What most of the socialists utterly failed to understand was that people flocked to the “dark, satanic mills” because they were better than the conditions where they came from…

        • That’s why they are the Romantic socialists/Marxists and are considered to be akin to that sweet, slightly dim maiden auntie who makes lovely sweaters and bakes luscious treats at the holidays and who everyone loves but usually ignores.

          • …who everyone loves but usually ignores.

            For good reason.

            There is much I like about William Morris. His attempts at portrait painting (I am not surprised that only one easel painting survives) and his politics are not included.

  17. “The thing is the government/bureaucrats/intellectuals have never created jobs.”
    Sarah darling girl, how can you say that? Oh wait, you simply misspoke. What you meant to say was “useful jobs.” After all, the measure of a bureaucrat’s kingdom is still measured by two items, budget and headcount.
    At this very moment in time countless job holders are in mortal terror over the likelihood that their jobs will no longer exist shortly. A great many of those at the EPA I suspect.

  18. I have several left-leaning friends who are hyperventilating about Amazon’s experiment in a fully automated grocery store. Currently, I’m still at the facepalm-and-bite-my-tongue stage, because they are lefties of the well meaning variety…I just haven’t got the spare energy to try and argue them into sense right now.

    Several of those same friends are ALSO hyperventilating because of the Trump’s recent appointments, usually citing “but–but–no experience! doesn’t agree with the current agenda!” While I am pretty sure some of those appointments may have been made more for pissing off the status quo than anything else, with others I am going “Hmmm. That might be interesting.”

    (My favorite so far has been the “How DARE Trump appoint that woman to be over education when she hasn’t got an education degree/any experience with education, OMG!!!” and I’m standing there going “You say that like it’s a bad thing…”)

    • I’d think the proper response to, “doesn’t agree with the current agenda!” would be, “Kinda the point…”

      • Yeah, I know, right? But in their worldview “doesn’t agree” automatically equates to “going to shove thousands of poor people out on the street and make them STARVE and OMG THE HUMANITY” (in that particular case, the fact that Ben Carson has been appointed over govt housing. He thinks it’s a crock and promotes racism, the way it’s done, and has said so in the past–so of course that means he’s going to pull it all down and make all those poor people homeless. And also, he’s a neurosurgeon, which means he can’t possibly run a government housing program… (to be fair, that’s not an impossibility–I’ve known some very smart people who are dumb as a box of hammers in anything but their given area…but generally speaking, I’m pretty sure he can figure it out. ) ::eyeroll::

        • Another salient point is that he’s the first HUD secretary who has actually lived in public housing.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I understand that it is a big mortgage bank with a huge budget, and a lot of corruption and issues.

          Carson a) has a primary skillset of cutting people open and b) arguably campaigned as a scam. I can build a couple of cases that it is a good choice, and a case that it is a good choice for Trump getting his snout in the trough.

          I dunno, at this point everything is hype.

        • Oh my gosh, I saw what I think was an awesome trolling that got swallowed whole– a picture of Ben Carson with a quote pointing out that science might be propaganda, then of that star fad guy who’s the current Bill Nye doing the “make a funny face because it’s an argument” thing, with the claim that Carson had been selected for the DoE.

          I think it’s trolling because of the DoE/HUD mistake, and because what’s his face is so notoriously bad about getting facts correct.

    • Here we see an example of the “Heads I win, Tails you lose” philosophy of governance oft advocated by Sir Humphrey Appleby, as expressed by Cass Sunstein:

      Confirmation Bias
      By Ramesh Ponnuru — December 9, 2016

      Cass Sunstein argues that the Senate should reject nominees who don’t favor the mission of the agencies they are to lead. He writes that

      the Senate is entitled to insist that the head of a cabinet-level department is committed to the legislative judgments that underlie the existence of that department.

      Sure, it’s fine if nominees want to reduce both regulatory and enforcement activity. But it’s not fine for an EPA nominee to wish the EPA didn’t exist. Under the Constitution, the central obligation of the executive branch is “to take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

      Sunstein goes on to claim that proving their commitment to their agencies will be a special challenge for Scott Pruitt (EPA) and Andy Puzder (Labor). I don’t think Sunstein is right about either one of them, but here I want to focus on the logic of his test.

      You can be committed to executing the laws faithfully while also thinking that the laws should be different, and working to change them. It’s also possible for a senator to disagree with the legislative judgments that underlie the existence of a department, and I see no reason such a senator should feel obligated to act on that legislative judgment rather than his own views. If a senator thought that creating the Department of Education was a mistake and favored legislation to end it, why would it be wrong for that senator to vote to confirm a nominee who agrees with him? If I were a senator, I would be inclined to vote against any nominee who wasn’t at least open to the possibility that it was a mistake to create the Department of Education.

      • I suspect it’s a rare law that includes a requirement to expand the reach of a department’s regulatory oversight in an aggressive manner. And the legislative judgements underlying law include a lot of backroom verbal discussions, so are not entirely reachable.
        Department heads should be committed to faithful execution of the laws under their administrative purview. In some cases, they must also be committed to the execution of judgements and related agreements relating to their departments. Nothing requires that they should not seek ways to do the least Congress required of them, with the greatest efficiency, while seeking to inform Congress of needed changes to law.

    • funny, they didn’t hyperventilate over all the order pickers who lost their jobs when Aamzon automated their warehouses…

      And yeah, they somehow thought that $15/hr minimum wage wouldn’t mean a bunch of jobs got automated…. (see: McDonalds switching to kiosk ordering in areas with the higher minimum wage)

      • The thing these minimum wage agitators forget is this: No matter what, the business owner absolutely must get whatever value you mandate as minimum wage out of his employees–They have to make him at least a significant multiple of their hourly wage, in order for him to stay in business. So, mandate the $15.00 minimum wage, and the real effect is that the business owner is going to have to extract that much more value out of each employee at that sum. Which means, simply, that higher-value jobs are going to have to choke out the former low-wage jobs. Which further means, in plain terms, that the $15.00 an hour cooks and counter staff are going to be replaced by machinery, which is kept operational by a lot fewer $15.00 an hour technicians working on the equipment…

        All they’ve really accomplished is destroying the jobs for those kids who didn’t pay attention in school with many fewer jobs for the kids who did.

        I’m not sure this is a net social gain for society; more of those kids who failed to engage in their schooling are going to be sitting idle, and we all know what work is found for idle hands, and who does so.

        • And in a warm body democracy (which is where we are) the first thing those hands will find to do is pull voting levers that dispense funds from the public treasury.

          In other words, you’re going to get away from this idea that everyone, even the non-contributing, deserves a say in government, or there’s going to be a great crash as the leeches overwhelm the host.

          Trump probably represents our last chance to prepare.

        • Interestingly enough, I have heard from a Seattle business owner that he did have to lay off people after the minimum wage increase. Because —

          Their reaction was not, “Oooo, more money,” but “Ooo — I need fewer hours.” When they couldn’t get him to assign fewer hours, they called in sick.

          Ended up laying off a lot of part timers and hiring a few more full-timers.

          • That’s purblind stupid on their part. Good night, did they not understand that prices were going to go up?

            • No, no, it’s very intelligent on their part. Because Seattle offers lots of low-income assistance, and if you make too much, you lose the public assistance bennies. Then you have to work harder all the time in order to get the same stuff that your slacker buddies get for free while they put in a couple hours here and there.

              So if they prioritize free time and lack of financial stress over dignity, self respect, and desire to get ahead in life, then getting more money is a bad deal. Unintended consequences bites hard when you expect people to all have the same motivations as you want them to.

              • It also offers more time available for off-the-books work, often far more lucrative than their official, taxable paycheck.

              • “No, no, it’s very intelligent on their part. Because Seattle offers lots of low-income assistance, and if you make too much, you lose the public assistance bennies.”

                (Facepalm) Sorry. Forgot that there are places where it seems like the powers that be want to keep other people from progressing on a steady path.

                • Yeah. I get caught by this trap often enough. If someone’s making what seems an insanely idiotic choice to me, they’ll have their own reasons it makes sense to them… and sometimes I’m the fool who doesn’t understand. Sometime they’re the fool that doesn’t understand, but until I know their motivation, there’s no way I can persuade them to change their thinking.

              • Well, if that was the case, the owner was unaware of it. One would think that at least one would have asked because he could not afford the increased wages.

    • I was listening to the Boulder radio station that’s affiliated with Pacifica Network this morning (they have a bluegrass show I sometimes listen to on Saturday mornings) and found out that Trump’s cabinet picks mean that we’re going to have “government of Exxon, byExxon, and for Exxon” and that it’s a “hinge moment” for both the US and the planet of a magnitude that may never have been reached before.

  19. You are destined to trip over your pet tiger and land head first in your giant Koi pond. That is your fated death. So avoid pet tigers and giant indoor koi ponds.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Story goes that one Pope was told that he’d live to say Mass in Jerusalem.

      He died after saying Mass in a church named Jerusalem. 😉

    • So that means that Sarah should also avoid KOI (Standing for Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana) hardware stores with ponds on property, just in case they have a cat named tiger that she tries to pet.

      🙂

      • Doesn’t even need to be named Tiger, some cat colors are called that. So she’d better avoid any of those places if they have a striped cat or similar. Besides, what if it’s a dog named Tiger? 😀

  20. “What emerges next we don’t know, and our information organs having been corrupted by Marxism, can’t help. All we can do is work towards a better future.”

    This is actually a great curse for libertarians — particularly anarcho-capitalists — because when someone says “we need to get rid of public schools/garbage collection/police/judges/air traffic control/space exploration/utilities/water/sewage/etc” the inevitable question is “What will you replace it with?” and the libertarian-minded must, of necessity, say “I don’t know”, because *no one* can know what will emerge when the Free Market is unleashed to address a problem.

    And people don’t like the uncertainty that comes with not knowing how these needs will be met.

    Incidentally, this is also why I fear Revolutions in general. When you overthrow a government — unless the people are liberty minded, which they seldom are — something more tyrannical, more fierce, typically emerges from the ashes of what you just overthrew.

    I’d much rather change a little thing, and if it convinces people that liberty works, then change something else, otherwise roll back to what it was before…and teach as many people about the virtues of liberty, and the vices of collectivism, in the meantime.

    • To some extent what ‘replaces’ garbage/trash collection is what existed in rural areas before regular collection. Take your load of trash down to the end of some road and dump it. Where everyone else has also dumped their trash.

      • Burning it has also been a popular option.

        • That’s true. I had forgotten that back in the day many (most?) homes near my grandparent’s home in Santa Monica, CA, had a small back yard furnace thing (can’t remember the actual name) where they burned burnable trash. Back before the AQMD was created.

        • we have private trash collection in CO. It works fine.

        • At least in my neck of the woods, burning it still goes on. Albeit under the radar. Not officially sanctioned by the state. That and open burning requiring a permit. I open burn once or twice a year to get rid of cardboard and paper backlog. And some brush. haven’t yet bothered getting that required permit.

          • Boss at work in Really Flat State had a burn barrel. With strict instructions not to put anything pressurized in the garbage (no spray cans). Not certain he had a permit but that didn’t bother people in that county too much. A lot of “our ancestors burned trash in the Old Country, our parents burned trash, so we’re going to burn trash.”

            • My father used to burn the waste oil from oil changes (his garage was technically a body shop, and a paint one, but he took pretty much everything, especially from old customers, and he did a lot of oil changing) he did on cars in a barrel on the yard of the garage until it got banned. After he’d still sometimes do it, just at night, that time of the year when it does get dark here at night. The smoke can be pretty noticeable. 😀

        • OTOH, you can’t get a proper heat in a mere backyard incinerator, often, so you end up with pollutants in the smoke.

          Externalities. Always fun to wrestle to the earth.

      • When I was a kid, we paid a guy who came by and collected the trash, His bill was cheaper than the City fees added to bills for said collections in town, and he had less restrictions (and this was in the ’80s, so less than now i.e. I have no recycling, but a 3 bag limit, not to exceed a certain weight iirc 35 pounds), because there was another company that was trying to come into the area.

        • The city used to pick up trash twice a week. If you could drag it to the curb, they’d throw it in the truck. If it was to heavy to lift, the truck with the big grabber arm would come by for it.

          A few years ago our trash bill went up 50%, they issued one small trash can, and they only pick up trash once a week. Everything must fit in the can.

          An immediate side effect of this was bags of trash appearing all over the place, and old tires, and furniture dumped here and there, giving the whole town a scungy look.

          I guess the next step is to auction the trash pickup off to a private company, which will double the rates to pay for its monopoly…

          • Ah, gotta love the anti-monopoly gov’t that feels no one should have a monopoly . . .
            except them and their buddies providing “services” like trash pick-up, cable tv, that they then overcharge you for and then cut just what it is they provide.

      • I remember those days, Then the county said it was a no-no, and everyone made their own midden. Fun for target practice.

    • Marx actually said the same thing. That’s why he insisted on calling his ideas “scientific socialism”: To distinguish himself from the French blokes like Saint-Simon and Fourier and Comte who drew up detailed blueprints for the Better World of the Future, whom he called “utopian socialists.” Of course, instead, he had a detailed blueprint for the revolutionary process, based amazingly closely on the French Revolution, which wasn’t an improvement.

      • In recent reading on Philadelphia in the spring and summer of 1776 I came to the conclusion that Thomas Paine was a utopian socialist before the term was minted.

        (Of course, Paine display a profound dislike of any form of established governance: social, political or religious. Further, coherence was not something he suffered from an excess of, all in all a miserable human being.)

    • This. If you can’t foresee at least one thing “to replace it with” that would likely work as well as what you’re replacing, then don’t make a change large enough that its failure would either harm many or be hard to undo. Similarly, if you can see the replacement and evaluate its risk, it’s probably inherently not a large change.

  21. “…think they have an obligation to “look after” the less intellectually fortunate” — how can you convince yourself you’re of the nobility, if you don’t act with noblesse oblige?

    • “…think they have an obligation to “look after” the less intellectually fortunate” — how can you convince yourself you’re of the nobility, if you don’t act with noblesse oblige?

      Two observations, here… In my life experiences, I’ve often had occasion to note how often those people who regard themselves as “intellectually fortunate” are often the biggest idiots in the room, and are the ones who demonstrate the least common sense.

      And, I can about guarantee you that any of these leading lights who regard themselves in that particular matter putting themselves forward as potential leaders in any sort of situation, crisis or otherwise, are almost guaranteed to munge things up beyond repair or recognition.

      Along with that goes observation two… These self-anointed “intellectual elites” are often the one ones least likely to actually demonstrate any sort of “noblesse oblige”, mainly because they really don’t possess a whit of nobility, whether granted that by birth or nature.

      By rights, I probably ought to consider myself one of these people. I’ve got the IQ score, and the matching set of brains; what I lack is the arrogance and the blindness to the inadequacies attendant to the merely intellectual. Put me in with the hoi polloi, please–I’d rather be with the hedgehogs of the world than the foxes.

      • Agreed. I was once informed I was one of 15 intellectuals in a small city. My first urge was to run away and hide under my bed. I’m not an intellectual – I just read anything that comes my way, or that comes close enough for me to jump out and grab before it can escape.

        • The term intellectual carries too much baggage. I, too, would wish to run away and hide under my bed — but possessing enough wit to see that the space there is too limited for my girth I shall settle to simply avoid such people as would accuse me of it.

          • On further consideration there is another and far more important reason not to hide under a bed. I don’t think it would prove a comfortable place for reading.

        • Intellectual? Could be worse; they could be callin’ you high-brow.


          “Your best girlfriend, she might be a highbrow, she changes clothes 3 times a day”

  22. Just to be on the safe side, continue to stay away from Facebook.

    Posner is a moron.

  23. Most of the people who are writing stories about how ‘the robots are about to destroy all the jobs’ seem to be completely ignorant that automation has been going on for a couple of centuries. (This lack of historical perspective also frequently encompasses the business and technology media) I have a series of posts on this topic, starting here: Attack of the Job-Killing Robots:

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/54252.html

    • And if automation was the only factor involved, you might have a point. It isn’t. For example, there’s no open frontier where you can go make a new life for yourself as long as you have the will and skill to kill off the current residents. You can debate the morality of that approach until you’re blue; cold hard fact says that was an option that was politically and technically available when the spinning jenny and powered loom displaced the weavers, or the Scottish Highlands went from labor intensive farming to less intensive herding (see Highland Clearances); that isn’t available now.

      • There was no open frontier after 1900, but there emerged a whole series of labor-reducing technologies (automated assembly equipment, punched card equipment and mainframe computers, numerically-controlled machine tools, dial telephones, automatic elevators, “talking pictures” and recorded music displacing local orchestras, etc etc) but without leading to permanent high unemployment as was predicted by many. For a good overview of historical concerns about technological unemployment, see Amy Sue Bix’s book ‘Inventing Ourselves Out of Jobs?’, from which I excerpted in this post:

        http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/54256.html

        Maybe ‘it’s different this time’, but the productivity statistics do not show any sharp upward break in the labor productivity numbers.

        • And right after that, we had two world wars (not to mention the 1918 flu and the Holodomor), which ate up that labor surplus something wonderful (or dreadful). Again, your one dimensional analysis fails.

          • No. It had nothing to do with that. Look, I’m with you on it would be better to have a frontier, but that has nothing to do with this. Even since WWII things have changed drastically without legions of unemployed.

            • “Even since WWII things have changed drastically without legions of unemployed.”

              What suggests this? Because we have such a wonderful labor participation rate? We have been masking the disappearance of jobs quite well by raising the barriers to entry by age, requiring extended adolescence in college, and paying people not to work via welfare and Social Security and mandatory retirement ages. We’ve successfully papered over (literally) the cracks by expanding the money supply, but the end is in sight.

        • productivity statistics do not show any sharp upward break in the labor productivity numbers

          Fallacy issue here — productivity is a leveraged number, similar in effect to the Laffer Curve for taxation. One man hour at X is equivalent to 10 man hours at X/10. Which does not refute your assertion, merely demonstrates that the evidence offered is not conclusive.

          We might further consider how increased productivity affects demand for the good produced, thus affecting ROI.

          A somewhat more subtle consequence is that the increased productivity tended to mean it was no longer necessary for two parents in a household to earn income, freeing one of them to be more directly involved in child-rearing activities and in participating in “social” work: offering aid and assistance to relatives, friends, and neighbors which would accrue social capital to call upon when needed.

          We ought not fall into the error of only valuing such worl as produces income; there is also that which reduces expenses.

          • “A somewhat more subtle consequence is that the increased productivity tended to mean it was no longer necessary for two parents in a household to earn income, freeing one of them to be more directly involved in child-rearing activities and in participating in “social” work: offering aid and assistance to relatives, friends, and neighbors which would accrue social capital to call upon when needed.”

            Although in the pre-industrial era, in a traditional farming and/or home-industry environment, the distinction between domestic work and economic work was not always sharp. Spinning yarn both for sale and for domestic use could be combined with child care. The farm wife on a large property would likely be cooking for family and for hired hands in a single batch.

            • It has been my impression that the Farm Wife’s “Butter ‘N’ Egg” money often provided the working capital, the liquidity, for the operation. Furthermore, where I live a half-hour East of Winston-Salem the foklore about R. J. Reynolds is that he was in the habit of selling his crop, repaying his loans and drinking the remainder; it wasn’t until his wife accompanied him to town one year and convinced him to invest the remainder in other than liquor that his industriousness truly paid off.*

              Perhaps others here, more familiar with the academic trends, can tell us whether any serious** research into the economics of family farms has ever been pursued?

              *Official RJR history likely does not include this version of events

              **e.g., non-Marxist

        • That is true. Far, far fewer people were employed in automotive assembly when Henry Ford’s moving assembly line style automation replaced the old craftsman carriage-maker style automotive assembly. Why, today practically no one works in automotive manufacture. Not to mention automotive related businesses like car sales, car repair, etc. Or automobile-enabled occupations like modern farming, otr trucking, food trucks, pizza delivery, suburban anything…

  24. While the main focus of automation is it’s impact on ‘low’ skill jobs, AI systems will impact many jobs now perceived as safe. A year or so ago I read an article that many stock market fund managers will be replaced by specialized AI systems. I imagine that as AIs become more and more sophisticated a lot of ‘creative’ jobs could disappear.

    Lol, imagine what’ll happen if they can create an effective software writing AI that can then upgrade it’s own software ad infinitum.

    • The automation of high-skill jobs is not really new. The labor content of computer programming, for example, has been tremendously reduced (for any given project) by the introduction of compilers, packaged software, source management tools, etc. In engineering, the amount of engineering labor and draftsman (mid-skilled) labor required for any given project has been reduced by CAD systems, analytics software, etc. In the entertainment world, computer animation systems have displaced human frame-by-frame animators. The local orchestras replaced by recorded and broadcast music and by the ‘talkies’ were surely comprised of skilled musicians.

  25. Yes. We’ve been friends since 2011. I he maxed out?

  26. He’s doing some of his best analysis work in facebook posts.