Upside Down

*I started this post about 24h ago, and then life pulled me away, and I got home too late to write.  I tried to finish it last night, but got lost in the weeds.  This morning I started discussing it with son over breakfast, and I THINK I figured out what the stops would be for people born and raised here, and what I have to address.  So, once more, with feeling.*

After the last week — sweet slithering mother of soycakes and tofu, that was SOME week — I was in a private group, where one of my friends said that our problem right now is not left against right; it’s not political correctness against free thinkers; it’s not even SJWs against Libertarians.  No.  It is the elites against everyone else and, of course, vice versa.

He said we’re in the middle of a great populist spasm.

This is true… ish.

What I mean is, I know the idea we have in our minds of a populist revolution.  But that is not … exactly what we’re facing.  It’s possible that a lot of the so called populist spasms of the past weren’t that, precisely, either, because these spasms seem to work out with incredibly regularity at moments similar to what we’re facing now.

Because of movies and books, and the inevitable Marxist gloss on anything created/taught in the last century, a lot of us think a revolution comes about when the pressure on the people being oppressed is so strong that they rise come against the oppressor, and assert the will of the people.

This is not jut crazy, it is fricking delusional.  Like most ideas Marx had and disseminated to gullible minds, it would have benefited a little bit from JUST a little exposure to the real world.

If this were the case, the Soviet Union would not have lasted, and Cuba and for that matter North Korea would be a thing of history.  As would be Venezuela for that matter.  And before you tell me “no, because those are populist movements” think very carefully, because otherwise I’ll send you to the corner without books to contemplate your sins.  This is precisely what the left thinks, that those governments are populist and “the will of the people” and that’s why no matter how horrible the suffering they haven’t been overturned.

This is not how this works.  This  is not how any of this works.

Revolution happens not when things are at their direst and when the boot of the oppressor is solidly on the neck of the people, but when conditions ease up, when things are better, when the boot lifts enough to allow movement.

Sure, the wheat harvest in France (rolls eyes.)  Pull the other one, it plays the Marseillaise.  The revolution happened not because people were starving, however bad things were momentarily, but because  things were changing really fast, and the reformist, soft leader (wanna compare him to his grandfather) was viewed as weak.

The same can be said of just about any revolution.  Horrible tyrants don’t get toppled.  Their softer, kinder successors do.

It’s enough to make you despair of the human race.  But that’s when you have to lift the hood of history and take a good look at the engine beneath.

I’m not a materialist.  Most of you know that.  But it is important not to forget the material (which bizarrely Marx by and large did, so inspired was he by his prophecy of class struggle and revolution) in your examination of human history.

Man might not be an ape, but it’s not an angel, either.  Somewhere between, there is a creature that dreams and projects, superimposed on the body of a tinkering ape.

If man craved that fruit of the tree of knowledge, it was probably because humans have a really hard time with paradise.  No matter how nice the Savannah, how plentiful the food, there would be some Odd ape who went “What if we could?” And then he made some sparks and started fire and–

The problem is this: humans crave leadership but proper leadership requires that the leader know what the heck is going on.  Leaders work, if they’re carefully trained to lead (one of the reasons Heinlein advocated breeding and raising rulers, or at least jokingly advocated it) and in our complex technocratic society, more so, but what if what they’re learning actually renders them more unfit to lead, because they can’t see conditions as they are right now?

Louis XVI paid the price of the being a leader trained for an agrarian, feudal society who was in fact installed over an industrial, fluid (in relation to the past) society.  The revolution of France was not started nor spawned by the people, the poorest of the poor who were suffering, but by the bourgeois who instigated it, because they had no place, no role, no traditional expectations.  They had to create their own place and the old order was in the way.

The same could be said for the American revolution, though that’s complicated by things like “distance” and the US still being largely rural.  Our war to adapt to the industrial revolution, our equivalent of France’s thirsty Madame la Guillotine was the civil war.  It adapted our form of government to a more centralized one, in tune with the times we were entering: times of centralized production, of vast industrial scales, and yes, of mass production, of standardized sizes and types of product.  All of this needed centralized decisions, highways, possibly at times federal grants for truly big projects in terms of energy supply or mass communication.  The road to get there was strewn with corpses and soaked in blood.

We are in such a period now.  People underestimate how big a change extremely cheap data storage and processing and communication at a distance have made.

No, mass production for some things is not going away, any more than agriculture went away.  But it is going to shrink, products are going to become more customizable.  And one size fits all government will be almost impossible, the further we get into that change.

I’ve talked about this, and the necessity to build under, build around, build over to take the weight of the structures that aren’t working.

But it wasn’t until this weekend and the conversations about last week that I GOT it.  It’s not just government.  If it were just government, it would be easy.  But the same stick hitting politics is hitting EVERYTHING from Hollywood to your local grocery store.  A lot of it is still being done the way it was ten years ago, sure, but that is probably incompetent, delusional, and quite likely hurting the business.

I know the establishment of publishing is mostly running around with its head in a sack, insisting it’s still night.  Their extended modified hangouts when from “Amazon is just a bookstore” to “Ebooks are inconvenient and the readers are expensive, it will never catch on” to “Ebooks are a thing of the past” (!) to now “those puny little indies aren’t threatening us, it must be people are reading less.  Red staters are so teh dumb.”

But they’re not alone.  The leadership of CHURCHES seems out of touch with their parishioners.  Do not even get me started on the corporate leaders, either, as they have no clue how to change  to fit where we are now, much less where we’re going.

This means that the leaders appear incompetent.  Really incompetent.  Crowds smell fear, like any wild animal.  The other things crowds do is notice failure, and the collapse and insanity of the press makes it hard for them to hide it.

Eight years ago people were sensing something was wrong.  Hiring Obama was part of this.  He was the dream-boat of the Marxists and everyone had been educated to believe Marxism (even when they weren’t told the name) was the way of the future.  I mean, it’s right there on the tin “progressive.”  It must be progress.  He had the education, he didn’t have experience in government but the media burned its last shreds of credibility to convince everyone he was a deep thinker.

Only, like managers being hired now on impeccable credentials, he was trained to administer the government of the thirties, at most.  Not the chaotic economy and intricate specializations of the oughts.

More and more people are failing like he did — by the book — and being declared successes, btw, by the similarly indoctrinated, while leaving the thing they were leading and administered in pieces behind them.

It is not their fault in a way.  Modern society requires training, but the training they’re being given, besides being infected with Marxist fantasies (this is similar to what held Catholic countries back from the industrial revolution.  All their training was religious, so it was hard to see past the ideal to the pragmatic) the techniques they’re being taught are fifty to a hundred years out of date.

Even people graduated now are already wrong, and about to become more wrong, because change keeps coming.

If you look around in the fields you know, the feeling is always that the worst possible bozos are in charge.

This is not true.  It’s easier to adapt when you don’t carry the responsibility for others, and for picking the right change for others.

But what it means in practical fact is that it’s fueling a vast tide of “populism”.  We can see that the people who are supposedly smarter and in charge really don’t get US much less the changes in what is happening around them.  They’re not taking things in account, they’re lost.  They don’t know what to do.

Let’s hope this tide is not a blood tide, though it will be, in some places, at some times.  It always is.  Man is a fighting ape.

But if you are a manager, or have the ear of one, think through things.  How everything is affected, what is likely to come next.  Then try to influence things to keep stuff going, with minimal shocks.

Because the confused and shell-shocked elites have started fighting back.  This is most obvious after the elections, and in politics, but it’s happening at all levels.  And because they don’t know why things are failing, they’re starting to get paranoid. There’s going to be a lot of deplatforming and politics of destruction ahead.  And that leads very easily to politics of physical destruction.

Be prepared.  Think about the future as well as you can.  This is difficult, on account of the future hasn’t happened yet, and there’s things you’ll not take in account and things that will go wrong.  Sure.  But you’re plenty smart enough to keep a step or two ahead of destructive change.  Most of us are.

Most industries/institutions/polities won’t get this.  You must try to save what you can from the wreckage, but be aware, too, that we’re about to go upside down.

Be ready for it.  Be prepared.  Don’t lose your way.  We’re going to need all the people who can think through this, plus some, to avoid a blood letting that will make the French Revolution or the American Civil war look like tea with the parish ladies.

Keep your head, keep your sanity.  Be not afraid.

283 thoughts on “Upside Down

  1. Revolutions arise not when the Emperor has no clothes but when the Emperor is perceived as having no clothes.

    Successful revolutions happen when the Emperor actually doesn’t have a fig leaf.

    1. I would say that successful revolutions are the ones that overthrew the unsuccessful revolutions that themselves overthrew the Emperor.

    1. Gravity, in their world, is no longer constant at 32 ft per second per second and they’re incapable of processing the change. Of course they’re scared. Like Al Gore calling to correct* the editors of the Washington Post, their world’s been turned upside down.


      1. On the other hand, always shooting at static targets makes you less ready to pot that jackass that’s running sprints and zig-zagging.

  2. Signs of the times, my friends.
    History has a bad habit of repeating itself. Of course, this group knows far more history than the average schlub. It means we can see it coming.

        1. Oh yes, especially if I raise my voice because someone is texting under the desk. Amazing, the acoustics in my classroom.

          Oh. Not what you meant? Sorry.

        2. One thing that stuck with me as a kid was a line from Dinotopia where they described how their culture chronicles history as a helix.

          “Time moves on, but history repeats itself.”

      1. The only reason for that saying is that too many people actively forget how the history went the last time. There’s a reason why our favorite poem ends with
        “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!”

    1. One of my favorite opening ‘quotes’ from Andromeda went something to the effect of “Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. Those who fail to learn history correctly? – why they are just doomed.”

      1. I didn’t like that episode but I loved that quote. Andromeda, at least for the first couple of seasons, was very underrated.

  3. The American Revolution was more a “War By Local Authorities Against A Distant Authority who didn’t listen to the Local Authorities” than the French Revolution which was about “Replacing The Central Authority by a New Central Authority”.

      1. And the Local Authorities had been handling matters for years before the “Central Authority” decided to “but into matters”.

      2. Upper and Lower Canada rebellions against the Cliques. Much was changed once the United Kingdom sent over a proper administrator to oversee the issues and suggest changes (Lord Durham). They managed to avoid a second revolutionary war in North America. 🙂

  4. While I mostly agree, I’ll also point out the swift downfall of Nicolae Ceaușescu. That’s something of a special case, though. Ceaușescu was likely more tyrannical than his predecessor. However, the leadership of Russia was not. I think the willingness of people and elements of the Romanian government to remove him came from the fact they knew the Russians were unlikely to intervene.

    1. Also, a preference cascade. Once people realized they weren’t alone in hating the regime, but that pretty much everybody else other than the regime’s stool pigeons did… Then you end up with a “metastable state” in which a comparatively trivial incident can be the spark that sets the revolution off. (In the case of Rumania, IIRC it was the arrest of an ethnic Hungarian pastor named Laszlo Tökes. )

      1. That was the big difference – as long as the communications were controlled and the people kept separate, they wouldn’t realize how much discontent there was.

        The usual political suspects here in the US would be cowed by the negative press coverage. The press would downplay any criticisms of what Obama had managed to accomplish and vilify anyone who said things weren’t wonderful.

        Progressive ascension depends on all criticisms being silenced. Lofty goals are praised, but the actual results NEVER really matter, and bad results are simply ignored. And the media used to enforce that with an iron orthodoxy. Like in the old TV series “The Outer Limits”, they controlled what we saw and heard.

        Then the internet arrived… and their gatekeeping ability was slowly negated. Now they’re going ‘Wha’ happened?’ like someone who got hit by a truck when they were protesting on the freeway. They don’t control the narrative any more… and as long as there’s other ways to get the info out, they won’t again.

      2. According to the little bits of information I’ve got on Ceausescu’s fall, a preference cascade is pretty much what happened.

        Apparently he gave a public address about some demonstrations in one of the outlying cities (Timisoara). This was pretty normal. Something that was also typically normal at these events was the stage managed cheering and applause. But this time, the people didn’t cheer. Once people realized that no one else was cheering, the revolution went into full swing.

        That wasn’t all, but that was pretty much the event that indicated he and his wife were doomed.

  5. yup, it’s not so much “da eleets are teh bad” as “the elites clearly have lost the plot and are just pretending they know what they are doing”. People may grumble under smug technocrats, but as long as they are at least perceived as basically delivering the goods, grumbling is where it stays. Once that is no longer the case…

    1. If you are overbearing but still get people work, hope, creature comforts etc people cut a ton of slack. Being overbearing and seeing no progress breeds resentment, especially when you hold yourself as better than your underlings. I joke that Management’s job is to protect engineering from meetings, so you can do the work. Todays model is that management sees itself as superior and inserts itself into the nitty gritty while forcing absurd requirements on the team. No wonder resentment breeds.

      1. I hate meetings. Glad I’m not the lead any longer and expected to go to production ones any longer. That’s 3 a week now. Our place seems to be full of satraps and everyone is overly protective of theirs.
        At work, I am quite behind (Gee, two people used to do this job, they made everything slower to do, and I am the only one doing it. Shocker) getting worse by me missing two days now because Kidney Stones (!@#$%@!!!1!11!). Yet I must go to certain company meetings, some taking an hour or more, for bloody nonsense, at least 3 times, often 4 and 5 times a month. So far the worst was mandatory drug awareness training that had them bus the workers to the highschool across town.
        I managed to never learn the load time for the bus until moments before that time, and had pumping issues that could not be left when that load time actually came. I got so much more done while everyone else was gone.
        Safety Stand Downs are nonsense as well. But, because someone in Stainless welding got injured by a faulty process I’ll never see, I gotta stop for an hour and 20 minutes and let you tell me your going to fix it?
        because of that meeting they complained I didn’t get something loaded in time to air ship. Too bad. You stopped me.
        Others I cannot skip out on, or I have to take almost as long to do an online test. Two of those last two weeks.
        Sorry, I have an off the pain meds hangover and I get on a rant.

        1. I keep toying with the idea of requesting psychiatric accomodation from team meetings…. (See, they make me cry. Pretty much every time. Which distresses me, my coworkers, and my team leads. Pretty much every time.)

          Haven’t had the guts to follow through yet. Just glad the current temp assignment doesn’t involve many.

          1. Make them get you a dog. Dogs are fun at work. Train him to lick people’s hands under the table in meetings, and beg for scraps.

        2. 99% of the time, I do not like meetings. At all. The worst are held by a certain state agency. My supervisor went with me to the last one I attended. After one presentation, I told him “Now you see why I don’t go to these things.”

          Some safety meetings are worse than others, though I remind myself not everyone has been to over thirty years worth, and might not have never heard this information before. At the last one, I’d taken a chair and had my eyes closed, and when the lecturer (who I know) walked past and made the comment that it was a good time to nap, I said “I tried, but someone kept talking.”

          Drugs in the workplace presentations are annual mandatory events. Usually I’m tempted to put a soft drink bottle in a paper bag, wad it around the neck, and sit there drinking it during the meeting.

          1. Ma has a story that when I was very, very young she had me out in a stroller on a rather cool day, with bottle wrapped in a paper bag as insulation. And the cop who lived nearby did a double-take at the sight.

    2. I’m a law school grad who was a consular officer for almost five years. The day after the travel stay executive order was signed, a DHS spokesperson said that the ban barred green card holders, so I delved into the Immigration and Nationality Act to check whether that was really so.
      In the definitions section of the INA, it says that LPRs (i.e., green card holders) are not treated as needing “admission” per the INA as long as they still have their LPR status. Thus an LPR from one of the seven countries shouldn’t be stopped at the border under the executive order as long as they’d done nothing to jeopardize their status. A publicly-posted version of the DHS border agent manual from a few years ago indicates that LPRs are not treated as “arriving aliens” once their identity as LPRs is established; if not “aliens,” then they aren’t considered either “immigrants” or “non-immigrants” for purposes of entry into the USA. You can check all this out yourself.
      You know who didn’t check this? All the DHS bureaucrats, the White House counsel, the DOJ, the media, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (check out how they conflate “immigrants” with LPRs in the opinion). What exactly are we paying all those people for if a SAHM mom can find this information in between homeschooling her five children? Are they just wasting all their time at meetings?
      The “elite” deserve to fear for their livelihoods if this is the caliber of their intellects.

      1. You know who didn’t check this? All the DHS bureaucrats,

        Oh, they checked it. The Deep State knew what the EO was supposed to do but they made damn sure they interpreted it in the most obnoxious way possible to demonstrate they run the country and the President serves at their pleasure.

        1. Yes, and they had good practice at it during the last government shutdown, when the Obama machine directed the entire Federal apparatus to zealously make the shutdown as painful as possible to as many people as they could reach (including things like, ‘you’re not allowed to look at that scenic vista because the National Park is closed’).

          The administrators will not televise the Dirt People’s revolution. They will, however, interrupt any and all regular business in order to make certain that you know how gallantly they are resisting the Usurper In Chief.

          1. It would reassure me no end to learn that President Trump had required all of his cabinet and staff to view Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister before accepting their positions.

            [There are two official replies to the Minister’s correspondence.]
            Jim Hacker: What’s the difference?
            Bernard: Well, “under consideration” means “we’ve lost the file”; “under active consideration” means “we’re trying to find it”.

            1. Further reminder of the important verities:

              It is important that we barbarians be held down.

      2. In case you’re wondering who the “immigrants” are that would have been affected, there are people who enter the USA on “immigrant visas.” Upon admission, they become LPRs, but before they are “immigrants.”
        For purposes other than “admission,” LPRs are also considered “immigrants.”

    3. The thing is most elites NEVER have the plot or know what they are doing. Oh,when their faction is scrabbling into control, and aren’t really a social elite yet, maybe. But the first generation that feels it holds its place in the sun by right? Always a bunch of maladjusted twits.

  6. I’ve been reviewing the Weimar hyperinflation in order to teach it, and it struck me this time around that what the hyperinflation really erased, besides cash assets, was trust in the future. WWI played a role, but the combination of WWI plus two years of no one knowing what was happening, or why (at least not at first and in the macro-economic sense) shattered the faith a lot of Germans, Austrians, and even Hungarians had in the future. Why not throw in with the NSDAP, or the Communists, since the old, steady way had so terribly failed the very people who had built it, the solid (in all senses) respectable Burgher?

    Do we think of Germany, Austria, and Hungary today as being on the leading edge of technological and other kinds of innovation? Not really, although the Germans remain masters of taking something and applying it in fascinating ways, especially to machinery or high-precision components for things.

    1. Hungary is on the leading edge of dealing with uncontrolled Syrian emigration into Europe; however, even there they’ve recycled ideas (fences, camps, border guards) from the days when Communists and Nazis held sway.

    2. Back in the Carter years I made a collection of Wiemar currency from mid-1919 to April 1923, trying to find the largest bill available dated in each month. These ran from a very nice 100 Mark note in 1919 to a poorly-printed, one color of ink, on colored paper, 20 Trillion Mark note in April 1923, in the month of the Wiemar collapse.
      The extent of the governments’ failure, and the instability it caused is shown in the effect currency collapse had on the stabilizing middle + upper middle class households. I read that in 1910, a successful surgeon would have owned a 10-12 room house in the city, had a couple of servants, and 100,000 Marks in the bank or in investments.
      In 1923, 100,000 Marks would not buy a loaf of bread. (though German and foreign silver + gold coins still circulated without particular loss of value)
      The destruction of the confidence in government of those people who had most “played the game by the rules” the established Burghers, opened the door to the communists, socialists, radicals and extreme and destructive policies, which, almost without exception, tried to focus blame for the current set of problems on some “others”, made to be outsiders who could be safely blamed and punished, as if that could correct the problems.
      Our Progressives still seek someone to “other” and blame for their failings.

    3. “Do we think of Germany… today as being on the leading edge of technological and other kinds of innovation?”–TXRed

      Yes, if the technology one is most familiar with is machine tools.

      Technological innovation occurs on many fronts. That which is the most fashionable “leading edge of technological… innovation” changes over time. Once it was machine tools. Later, aviation then computers. Later still, microchips then gene manipulation. From where I sit, digital microelectronics appears to be the reigning fashion of “leading edge technolog(y)” but biotech is the up-and-coming fashion.

  7. “No-one at the bridge” by Rush comes to mind:

    Crying back to consciousness
    The coldness grips my skin
    The sky is pitching violently
    Drawn by shrieking winds
    Seaspray blurs my vision
    Waves roll by so fast
    Save my ship of freedom
    I’m lashed helpless to the mast

    Remembering when first I held
    The wheel in my own hands
    I took the helm so eagerly
    And sailed for distant lands
    But now the sea’s too heavy
    And I just…I just don’t understand
    Why must my crew desert me?
    When I need…I need a guiding hand…

    Call out for direction
    And there’s no one there to steer
    Shout out for salvation
    But there’s no one there to hear
    Cry out supplication
    For the maelstrom is near
    Scream out desperation
    But no one cares to hear

  8. Definitely true in Corp world. We keep getting folks preaching business school ideals but no one following any procedure, no care as to whether product is right, just whether metrics are right.

    1. The terrible outcome from the misapplication of Total Quality Management. The core concept is “Kaizen,” continuous gradual improvement. But to tell if you were improving you needed to measure things, and in order to measure how much of each input was needed to make the improvement you had to measure all of the inputs.

      Unfortunately, what can’t be measured is the dedication of managers to Kaizen. Most that I ran across were annoyed at the time for the training (both their time and the time of their staff) and paid it lip service for as long as top management insisted on it. But their individual bottom line was that meeting metrics were what they got raises for, so the metrics, rather than the process or overall improvement, were their goal. When top management stopped paying attention to the program because the ongoing cost of training (including time off needed for it) was interfering with them making THEIR metrics (usually financial) then TQM bit the dust. But all of the metrics survived, becoming an end in themselves.

      1. Yep. Especially when they insist on metrics that assume precognition on our part as to problems. Spend too much time pushing paper rather than fixing the reason we need to push the paper.

        1. Reminds me of a bug that showed up many years ago. I had just got the bug report when I was called into the manager’s office. He demanded to know when the bug would be fixed. I told him that I would not know until I had found the bug and designed a fix. He demanded again to know how long, I told him I did not know. Rinse and repeat for about an hour. Finally I told him that it would take an hour plus however much longer this meeting ran than it would have before he called me into the meeting. Eventually he let me go. The bug was fixed about an hour later.

          1. That’s one of the things I hate about trying to estimate how long it would take for me to complete task X. Sometimes it’s easy to estimate — I’ve done something similar before, I know exactly where in the source code I need to go, so I’m sure I’ll get it done in that amount of time.

            Then there’s the stuff that I’m not so sure about…sometimes I think “Oh, that will be easy!” and it takes me a week; other times, I think “Eek, that’s going to be hard! I’d better schedule a day, and maybe even expect a week!” and be done in an hour….

            1. The lead was off one day and after the third call asking when something was going to be finished I replied “Never, if I gotta stop and answer the phone every few minutes.”
              That got through their heads, and the left me to it.
              Not that getting it done quicly mattered. The product sat on our property over the weekend because the warehouse had no open doors to offload that trailer because stupidly there is 0 [zero, zip, none, nada] warehousing at our facility . . . half goes south side of Marinette, and my stuff and that labeled as my old company goes north of Menominee.
              This is really great when it is a “Protect From Freezing” product that sits in an uninsulated trailer all weekend during a cold snap.
              New management has been walking around going “WTF?”

              1. People who fail to understand the underlying principles of a thing are merely practicing magic: If I add this to that then Profit will result.

                It is easy to quantify the cost of warehouse space on site, difficult to quantify the benefit. Just because something is difficult to quantify does not mean it is irrelevant or non-existent.

                1. our problems are a result of once being owned by a Holdings company, not a manufacturing company. They had no real clue how to actually run manufacturing at the upper levels of Corporate. The recent merger (b.s. it was a takeover we needed) has us being integrated into a manufacturing company. Maybe some of this will get fixed. Though I shall not hold breath awaiting it.
                  Oh, and the warehousing we have on premises is leased to another company (that makes most of the goods I deal with) or was unused until recently and is cold storage for now (until December any rain went inside, and the material handler had to chase out the wildlife) and as old as our place is (same location over 100 years) all expansion seems to be manufacturing ability without thought to even lean process or finished goods storage. Then some bright bulb decided to build a new place across town, and use that for all warehousing and shipping, with little thought to getting it to and fro.

                  1. The most recent former owner of my company (we make embedded computer boards and software) had no manufacturing experience; he did government contracts with his other company. His idea of product development was:
                    1. Define a product
                    2. Advertise it
                    3. If there’s enough interest, staff up and design and build it.

                    The current owner acquired the company quite inexpensively.

                2. “Just because something is difficult to quantify does not mean it is irrelevant or non-existent.”–RES

                  Quantification is a tool that Western culture has put to powerful use. However, its very success tends to give rise to that mental blind spot you described, RES. We Westerners easily fall into the trap of assuming that what cannot be objectively measured does not exist. (The In Search of Excellence guys were pointing that out back in the 1980s. The problem remains.)

              2. Someone once sent me a mail-order cheese plate. It was sent in the middle of a Sacramento summer (90º-100º in general, for the uninitiated) in a non-refrigerated truck, and the transit took a couple of days.

                I took pictures, though they weren’t asked for. She got a refund. I got the little cheese board that came with it.

                Pity. I like cheese.

                1. had a well packed cooler take a scenic route to me once, and set on the porch in the Texas August Sun. By the time I got home, the dry ice was totally gone, and the interior felt like it was about 75 (very cool compared to the 100+ it was outside) but the frozen goods inside were still just frozen.

            2. Worst it’s when someone who hasn’t a clue assumes it’s easy and it’s Not Easy (if it’s not outright impossible). Yet the very same person will come up with something they worry is utterly impossible, but want to be sure… and it’s a one-liner of a change.

              Though I must admit my favorite was “Can me make a version of $THING that does $FUNCTION?” “You haven’t read $THING’s new manual for the new version.” “Uh..?” “It already does $FUNCTION.” “Really?!”

              1. My college girlfriend gave me a FORTRAN MAN t-shirt.
                She’s long gone but I still have the shirt.

      2. My bottom line rule, emprically derived from many, many years of TQM stuff in the semiconductor world, is: If you measure and incentivize something, it will improve. Measure improvements implemented, and you get improvements. Measure quality cycles, you get more quality cycles. Measure TQM meetings held, and you get more meetings.

        And if the company says It’s measuring quality, even to the point of collecting the metrics, but people get raises and bonuses based on actually doing stuff (coding code, making customers happy, cutting costs, sucking up to the boss), that that’s what will get done. At most, the quality stuff will be done just enough to avoid penalties.

        The reason Kaizen worked so well in heavy manufacturing was that it tapped into the line workers “don’t they see doing it this way is driving me nuts?” on an assembly line – getting something changed to make the assemblers life easier was a self-incentive thing. For cubeland workers, there’s less of the “do it exactly this way” that’s typical of, say, an auto assembler’s job, so while the concept can certainly work, it’s a lot less self-incentivizing. WHich means external incentives play a dominant role.

        Mostly, I’ve seen the rollout incentives get peoiple interested, and then the pressure to do actual job stuff eventually overwhelms the TQM stuff and it gets quietly put back in the drawer until next time.

        1. If you measure and incentivize something, it will improve.

          That was the thesis underlying the Moneyball philosophy: management was evaluating according to the wrong statistics. Batting average was only important as a component of getting on base, for example. By identifying those elements which most accurately trended toward success it was possible for teams to exploit market inefficiencies and prosper.

    2. In Accounting we term this “measuring inputs” rather than measuring outputs. To pick one example, we evaluate efforts to improve education by looking at the money spent in resources, buildings, teacher and administrative salaries as if “kids learning” was an automatic consequence of those inputs.

      You can only feed a hog a certain amount at a time; doubling the daily food provision will not double the rate of growth.

      1. We get the fun of effectively “we want you to replace this window” then pull it out and find the whole wall rotting out. Then because we can’t hit our estimated time on other job we get dinged. Plus have to spend half time in discussion

          1. Oh, and I should add: Sales should *never* be told what engineers are doing. I had to work overtime for several months because Sales decided to tell customers that we were re-vamping our system, and thus committed the developers to a much tighter deadline than we were originally planning on.

            While I can understand some things being emergencies, new features (and even worse — the re-engineering of old features) shouldn’t be considered emergencies.

            (Besides: I’d rather that new features be a surprise to the current customer base!)

            1. Several years ago, I worked for Montgomery Ward and we had this “next day delivery” thing going on.

              In an upper management meeting somebody in Marketing got this “bright” idea: “Same Day Delivery”.

              Well, somebody else said “sounds interest, see if it is possible”.

              Later somebody realized that people in Marketing were working on the “Same Day Delivery” Marketing campaign but they had not checked to see if it was possible or to find out what “programming changes” were needed.

              Fortunately, the Marketing campaign was stopped before it became public. 😉

            2. Sales should *never* be told what engineers are doing.

              Dilbert is a documentary. I’ve had people tell me “Dilbert isn’t funny.” and I reply thus. It’s not “funny ha-ha” it’s, “Yeah, been there.”

              1. No kidding! Scott Adams is great and spot-on on corporate hijinks with engineers.

            3. “Oh, and I should add: Sales should *never* be told what engineers are doing.”–Alpheus

              In turn, Sales has a folk wisdom of their own, “Sometimes you just have to shoot the engineers and ship the product.”

            4. In the early 1980s, I worked for NBI. We (engineers) were told not to discuss anything technical in the cafeteria after two engineers discussed some proof-of-concept article, probably a high-resolution (for the time) color display they’d read about, and some salesperson guaranteed it to a prospective customer.

        1. I get the “Why is this late?” when it was scheduled for completion in one day and it was a two day process, plus it cannot start on the promised day due to other late work, plus that late work was stopped to rush something else that is a ‘big deal’ so now it is even later. Plus the scheduler has twice in the last few weeks “forgot” to put a work order in or finalize it, and when the customer calls, prints it out, back dated, and after the Lead and I have left for the day delivers it to the Lead’s desk. Lead’s boss (mine too): “Look, it’s over a month late!”
          me: “Hmmm. looking at YESTERDAY”S schedule I printed out, it was not on there, nor this one from last week, nor this one from a month ago. Sounds like it’s not my problem. I’ll get to it in a bit.”
          If everything is an emergency, then nothing is an emergency.

          1. > which I printed out

            Ooohh, yes. I used to print schedules, important memoranda, and my email subject screen every day, stamp them with a big chrome data stamp, punch holes, and put them in three ring binders.

            I got lectured for “wasting printer resources”… but several useless middle managers learned about Binder Guy the hard way.

            Late projects? Missed meetings? Working on the wrong project?
            Not by *my* records.

            When you have rabid office politics, and the other side controls the scheduling and email servers, paper rules.

            1. So do offsite backups of your mailbox and document folders. Someone will have to explain in some way, and judges tend to look dimly on obviously purged archives.

          2. One of my co-workers bought a sign that said “Do you want us to rush the rush job that we’re rushing now, or rush the rush job that we were rushing before the rush job that we’re rushing now, or rush the rush job that you want us to rush?”

            It’s still hanging up, though thankfully the workflow has been designed better than it was then.

            1. I have said “I stopped what I was doing, to stop what I was doing to stop what I am doing to go back to the first thing I stopped” or what ever version is needed.
              I have product still in the lines instead of cleaned out as it was an emergency but we were going to need more ASAP. A month and more later, it is still clogging up the works.
              I even have another work order for that product for an additional 17,600 pounds in drums, but it’s not an emergency yet.

              1. And all those times I’ve heard, “We need this Tuesday!” And six month later, “We finally got around to installing it and…” discovered they got exactly what they ordered but not the magic thingie they wished for – but did NOT order.

                1. Related: “Our boards have a one-year warranty. We need to charge for this repair, because we sold you this board five years ago.”

                  “But it’s been sitting on the shelf since then! We only just installed it!”

                1. yep.
                  Today, I was at work 6 hours. I got 4 gallons filled, labeled, and boxes labeled. Mad Rush on one of those gallons, mind.
                  They finally got the tape needed to ship it legally (4G packaging, it matters. D.O.T.) but when Lead went to get it. “Too heavy to carry!” (our ridiculously low allowable max lift weight is 35 pounds?) so lead told someone to get it to us by fork and decided they want to be that stupid, he wasn’t cutting it open and digging out a roll until it showed up at our building.
                  I doubt the box of tape weighs 35 pounds.
                  And my schedule is changed again. New emergency and I don’t even have the product or the work order. But a coworker has returned (Shattered his clavicle!), so we are up to 2 day shift workers in the other dept, so one might at least label a ton of jugs, and make boxes for that 4G packing (This doesn’t need 4G, we just use the system as it is, sorta, a liquid. It freezes at the ultra cold temp of 70 degrees F). Maybe, just maybe, he will fill some as well. Not much room to work by me.

  9. [E]veryone had been educated to believe Marxism (even when they weren’t told the name) was the way of the future.

    Everyone had been educated to believe Marxism (especially when they weren’t told the name) was the way of the future.

    Fixed that for you.

  10. In regards to the bit about places like the USSR and Venezuela being populist….

    I took a political science course in college in the ’90s (I was poor and I needed the money liberal ed requirement). One of the things that was taught as political doctrine was that the term populist refers to groups that were more left than liberals in the same way that libertarian refers to groups more right than conservatives on the left-right spectrum. It’s the same theory that gave the political compass site the idea to put their upper-left “Authoritarian left” quadrant opposite the lower right “libertarian right”.

    If you use the leftist political science terminology of populist ‘authoritarian left’ being government managing all aspects of the people’s lives, then those countries are run by populist governments. This may be why you hear that term bandied about that way in some sectors.

    The course was mostly useless, but it did give me some train-wreck (horrifying, but you can’t look away) insight into how the left-side of the spectrum misdefines things.

    1. Just more evidence that the Pournelle Chart is the superior political graphing system (and is why I called my politics “Third Quadrant” forever).

  11. It’s easier to adapt when you don’t carry the responsibility for others, and for picking the right change for others.

    There is an old observation that applies: “Nobody ever gets fired for managing by the book.”

    People get fired for poor results, which can happen for those managing by the book (are almost certain, for all the other guys are managing by the same book.) But what really guarantees their firing is trying something new which doesn’t work.

    It may not work because it was crazy, it may have been a great concept which did not work because the people relied upon to implement it thought it was crazy. It may not have worked because there was a full moon and the manager didn’t sacrifice a chicken — it doesn’t matter why it didn’t work. “Why” is only asked of those who managed “by the book.”

    When they work, such new ideas are quickly adoopted copied by competitors who don’t actually understand the ideas, employ them incorrectly and, when they fail, declare that the first manager was just lucky, the idea is and was nuts.

    The people in any generation, in any society who are able to recognize and adapt to change are few. People whose success has been achieved by doing “A” are — because of that success — very reluctant to try “B”, much less “Q,” “R,” “S,” or “T.” This creates opportunities for those who are able to respond effectively to the changes … but it is as likely to make them hated as popular.

    1. It’s interesting looking at Apple in the first decade of this century. They became dominant rather quickly because they shifted to making the rules.

      Other companies may have had better products, or better interfaces, or whatever, but as long as Apple was the one making the rules, everyone else played catch-up. (I think they still are, but it’s not as huge a disconnect as it was in, say 2008.)

  12. [T]he confused and shell-shocked elites have started fighting back.

    Like a person trying to get a candy bar from a machine, the less success they experience the more desperately they will pull the handle, punch the buttons, smack the machine until ultimately they topple the machine atop themselves.

    At no point will they entertain the possibility they have not responded effectively.

    1. Today’s liberal elite was the generation raised on the notion that the 1960s era race riots and Vietnam War protests were an effective way to accomplish social change. Hence the praise for BLM, Occupy, and Code Pink etc. and “the Police are pigs” in Congress Rebelling against “the Man” doesn’t works well when you are “the Man”.

      1. I think there’s another element at work, though. All the hooraw about the Russians distracts from the basic fact that the Democrat establishment stole the nomination from Sanders. Maybe without their shenanigans Hillary would have gotten the nomination anyway, but as matters stand it sure LOOKS like the insiders quashed the pick of the rank and file.

        That should scare the bejabbers out of thr Democrat establishment. And the more oxygen they pump into anti-Trump protests, the less likely it is that the Democrat voters,will,tax,them with their idiocy in 2020.

        1. Keep in mind that Bernie was* not a member of the Democrat Party, only joining for the obvious purpose of hijacking the presidential primary for the publicity. Fixing the campaign doesn’t seem such an outrageous response from the party loyalists.

          *nor is he now, having used the party like a cheap hooker**

          **probably an insult to low-cost hookers***, for which I apologise.

          ***by the by, I noticed an article about the March 8 general women’s strike includes the fact the organizers are calling for “sex workers” to join the strike. Bet their pimps managers are gonna love that

          1. Wednesday, March 8 is the day feminuts called a “general women’s strike”. How clever. That’s not the females’ most popular shopping day of the week. Not the most popular day for getting their nails and hair done either.

            Let’s see ’em pick another day.

            Let’s also see if females can keep their mouths on strike for 24 hours.

  13. Don’t make me have to explain why this is relevant.

    Tucker Carlson Induces Cognitive Dissonance in Bill Nye the Science Guy over Climate Change
    Here is the best (and weirdest) example of cognitive dissonance you will ever see. The set-up is that Bill Nye, an engineer by training, and a proponent of science, is defending climate science on Tucker’s show.


    Nye could plainly see, thanks to Tucker’s simple question, that his belief in science was just a belief, because he didn’t actually know the science. When your self-image and ego get annihilated on live television, you can’t simply admit you have been ridiculous all along. Your brain can’t let you do that to yourself. So instead, it concocts weird hallucinations to force-glue your observations into some sort of semi-coherent movie in which you are not totally and thoroughly wrong. That semi-coherent movie will look like a form of insanity to observers.

    Look for Nye to go totally mental in the last minute of the clip, changing the topic to political leaks for no apparent reason. That’s your tell. His brain just sort of broke right in front of you.


    We are experiencing Cognitive Dissonance on a societal global level. People in the Western capitals (Washington, Brussels, Paris, Berlin), in the Communist Bloc (China, Russia), in the Middle East (Iran, Saudi Arabia) and everywhere else are finding their understanding of reality is inadequate and their only possible reaction is to force reality back into the mold they’ve constructed for it. Or, at least, force everybody to act as if reality is in that comfortable same mold.

      1. For science entertainment, I preferred ‘Beakman’. Less serious and less full of himself. His politics didn’t seem to enter into the show, from what I recall.

        1. I remember Beakman. Much preferred that show over Nye’s. More fun, more science, and less preachy. I know the “comic” strip version which it was based on was still around years after the fact.

  14. The leadership of CHURCHES seems out of touch with their parishioners.

    THIS. I’ve recently moved and (for various reasons) am confined to churches within walking distance. I’ve tried one RC, which was … meh. Stymied by snow and ice last weekend in my attempt to try another, so that’s on the agenda this weekend. Not sure if my last church was better, but it was familiar, and now that I’m back to shopping after 10+ years somewhere else, I’m a much more selective. If nothing else, there’s a Greek Orthodox church that’s closer to me than any of the RC, so I may give that a try as well.

    1. I’ve been off churches since I was a kid. Not religion, just churches. I’m not the only one, they’re empty these days. Around here they make ’em into bars, something that skeeves me out pretty bad.

      1. Yep, I’ve got my Bible and various theological books, so that may be the way to go. Not that I’m expecting answers from the churches, but pointers in the right direction would be nice. Heck, I keep seeing commercials for an evangelical worship service from a neighboring state — that might work too.

        1. My rule of thumb: any church called “(location) Bible Church” is worth a shot. It may disappoint me, but I’m far more likely to get people who preach what the Bible actually says, including the unpopular parts, at a church with that name than at a church named “(location) (Major Denomination) Church” or “Nth (Major Denomination) Church of (location)”.

          1. If you consider the Bible to be an authority, you have implicitly accepted the authority of the Church whose men wrote the Christian Scriptures and put the Bible together–the Catholic Church.

            1. Sarah has asked that we not discuss/argue about religion in her comments. I’d be happy to discuss this with you over email; contact me at (my first name) dot (my last name) courtesy of Google’s email service, and we can discuss it there.

        2. That’s assuming you’re looking for churches on the Protestant side of things. I skimmed past your first post too fast, and just now noticed that you mentioned both RC and Greek Orthodox, so if you’re on that side of the fence then the advice I just posted may not work as well for you.

          1. Raised RC, but since we now have a commie pope (!) I’m certainly willing to widen my horizons.

            1. If you try “(location) Bible Church”, you may find some anti-Catholic sentiment there, though how much will greatly vary from church to church. But that may not lead to a very comfortable place of worship for you, depending. I’d still advise trying those, because there are some REALLY spectacularly good ones (if you’re in the Houston, TX area, there are two churches I can recommend whole-heartedly, for example).

              But you may want something more familiar, in which case an Anglican church would be far more likely to appeal to you. See my response to librarygryffon below: both the AMIA and ACNA networks are filled with churches that put the Bible first and politics last, and those would probably be your best bet.

          2. what has worked for us is “unpopular/untrendy saint” or “unpopular/untrendy doctrine” church. Not so much now, though. Even All Saints Churches have been taken over by liberation theology.

      2. There’s a rise on house churchs. And if the ones in my (newish) home town don’t start straightening up their act, My husband and I may wind up starting one.

    2. Nothing seems to stamp out faith quite as thoroughly as a bishop who hasn’t peeked out from under his mitre since 1950.

      1. Sometimes a mark I eyeball on the church corkboard is better. Can be very illuminating on the politics favored by the church majority.

        1. Sometimes; ours just has official stuff, and the things that the local activist probably souldn’t be putting up but still does and people are too polite to do anything about it.

          Weekly rosary, though, and regular well attented rosaries for the country, with ones for our soldiers every military related holiday….

    3. I hadn’t been in church for years (raised Roman Catholic . . . atheist, so, well, not a high priority) then was back for a mass with a baptism about 6 or 7 years ago, and was “What the ?” Mom explained they had changed a few things. I mean I’d been to and in a few weddings, but except for some stupid sermons here and there, not much change, but the daily liturgy? egad.
      When I saw the Catholic Church in Stephenville had a Latin Mass, I considered going as brain bleach from that christening.

      1. I grew up Catholic, with a mother who had converted from mid church protestantism (no bells & smells, but no presbyterians either), and an essentially lapsed father, who would mutter about people who left early right after receiving communion, but had no problems being so late we’d missed the first reading. Which is a problem which it’s the local cathedral and you’re in the choir. At least we didn’t process and sang from the organ loft.

        Then we moved to Ireland, and the combination of hypocrisy and really, really bad music, as well as attending university, and I ended up with the Anglicans if only because I got to sing the greatest music, including Byrd’s masses and I love the language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

        Now I’m back in the states, and have been moderately active in my local Episcopal church, though we’ve had problems since our last pastor retired (the man was touched by the Holy Spirit, rather spoils you when looking for a replacement). I’ve only been going about once a month lately because of illness, and when I was there this week the 10:15 service had about half the bodies I’d have expected. It will be interesting to see what happens at Easter.

        Our parish has been good about not pushing politics on anyone, and even the diocese doesn’t seem too bad. but I’m starting to have some real issues with the denomination. Never mind we ordained a gay bishop. We ordained a gay bishop who left his wife for a guy. As at least one person suggested, the more important question was would we have ordained a straight bishop who had walked out on his wife for another woman? If the answer was no, why was it suddenly ok if the abandonment was for a person of the opposite sex from the one abandoned?

        1. If you want an Anglican church that actually puts the Bible above politics, I can personally recommend one or two in the area around Chicago. Or look for any church affiliated with the Anglican Mission in America, or with the Anglican Communion in North America. (AMIA or ACNA). Both are groups that said “The Episcopalians are putting politics on the altar and shoving theology out the back door, and we won’t be part of that any longer,” and split away from the Episcopal church. AMIA put themselves under the authority of the archbishop of Rwanda, whereas ACNA is under an American archbishop. Both groups are a pretty good bet: if you find a church affiliated with either one, you’ll stand a good chance of getting a good, Bible-believing priest and bishop.

          Now, you’ve said that your local parish and diocese have been pretty good so far, so I don’t imagine you’re looking to jump ship just yet. But since the Episcopal Church USA seems to be in the full throes of the “roll hard left before dying” thing that Sarah has mentioned several times, I would be surprised if your local parish was left alone for longer than a few years, maybe a decade. If/when they do start shoving politics in your face, then I’d recommend looking a church from either the ACNA or AMIA networks. That, I think, will be your best bet for finding a church that puts the Bible first and foremost.

            1. I said “above politics”, not “above tradition”. Insults like “Bibolator”, that are irrelevant to what I said in the comment being replied to, are not helpful; please refrain from such in the future, and instead produce an actual argument. Like what you did with your other comment about implicitly accepting the authority of the Council of Nicea. That comment was helpful; this one was not.

              1. also, it is grammatically wrong. It is Bibliolator. FYI.
                And yeah, not just blue on blue, but — really? Guys we have Christians of multiple denominations, Jews and Pagans. if we start fighting about religion, I’ll have to stop this blog and come back there. And NOBODY wants that.

    4. Gods, this brings back memories. When I was young my folks spent a LOT of time trying to find a church witha minster who didn’t make Father mutter under his breath. The problem was that Father was the adopted son of a Methodist minister with a genuine Calling. Kind of a high bar. The church they eventually settled on (and sent me to Sunday School at, which was a total waste of my time) had an OK minister.

      They also hosted a guest minister one Christmas who preached one of the best sermons I have ever heard, on the patience and faith of Joseph. Really wish he’d been the regular.

      1. a guest minister one Christmas who preached one of the best sermons I have ever heard

        Sounds like the kinda minister who makes the church elders uncomfortable.

      2. There’s been some lovely meditations on Joseph the last several years– I rather like the older traditions, but it’s a rich vein.
        (“Older” as in first handful of centuries.)

      3. I’ve noticed that our congregation seems to have about halved over the last few years, though that is as much because of the disaster of a replacement we got for Father Chuck. She interviewed well, but as one member of the vestry put it, when you’ve caught your pastor intentionally lying to you about something…… We lost quite a few members over that, and our organist/choir person, many of whom (though not all) have come back since she left. We’re two years or so into a three year plan with a priest appointed by the diocese while we figure out what’s going to happen. The other thing is that yes, we are very much an aging congregation. There are only maybe half the number of kids that I remember from when my girls were young enough that I could dragoon them into coming. I was sick over Christmas so I didn’t get to see how we handled the Christmas pageant.

        At least we have a decent hymnal. The dreck that the local RC parish used to use had me in hysterics one day, pointing out one hymn to my mother and asking her if she thought the bishop had really read all the words before he gave it his imprimitur. Because even with the changes in the 20th Century, and my theological knowledge being basically medieval/early reformation era, I can spot heresy when I read it.

  15. Sarah said: “But it wasn’t until this weekend and the conversations about last week that I GOT it. It’s not just government. If it were just government, it would be easy. But the same stick hitting politics is hitting EVERYTHING from Hollywood to your local grocery store. A lot of it is still being done the way it was ten years ago, sure, but that is probably incompetent, delusional, and quite likely hurting the business.”

    We were talking about this the other day at Mad Genius. Twinkies! 150 year old company, huge success, driven into destruction in 2014 by immense losses. Millions of dollars. Failed business model, stick a fork in it.

    The Forbes article here:

    Long story short, some guy bought it, and is looking to scoop a $2 billion dollar profit. SAME PRODUCT. The Hostess Twinkie.

    Could Hostess have done that -before- they went bankrupt? Yes. He did nothing they couldn’t have done, and were probably told to do. But they didn’t. They went under rather than change. Billions of dollars, thousands of jobs.

    Likewise, modern socialism as practiced by ALL THE MAJOR PARTIES. Don’t even start with me on Republican vs. DemocRat, or CPC/LPC/NDP in Canada. There’s no practical difference except in how they arrange the deck chairs. The ship is steaming the same way.

    Example. Minimum wage. What party is going to run on eliminating the minimum wage laws? Nobody, right? What’s happening with minimum wage right now? Today, Wendy’s announced they are going big on those ordering kiosk things in their restaurants. Why? So they can fire cashiers. McDonalds, same thing but sooner. They have to fire people. Right now. Minimum wage.

    What next? Ordering on your phone. The restaurant saves the $5K for the kiosk if you use your own hardware. Plus they can fire the guy who cleans the glass every ten minutes.

    Okay, but now what next? Grocery store. That’s a warehouse they let you walk through. How much do they save if you order on your phone and a robot pushes the groceries out a little door in the front? They save a -bundle-, that’s how much.

    Retail. How many people are in your Barnes & Noble these days? 4-5? In a couple more years, that’s going to be down to zero. The franchise owner will be sitting there making sure nobody wrecks the place, as a glorified security guard. You will make your choices by phone and receive your goods from a slot at the front.

    That’s what minimum wage is going to make happen.

    Can a cashier at McDonalds retrain as a software engineer, to program robots?

    Now, let’s talk about health care. Who is going to pay for your hospital stay after your cashier job gets zeroed out?

    Now let’s talk about social welfare, justice and the civilized society. When -nobody- in Sunrise County Idaho has a job, because Agriglomerate is running all the farms with robot tractors and robot pig barns, who will be paying taxes? Are the cops going to come when you call 911? Fire department? Animal control? How about if the creek rises and washes out the highway? Is Agriglomerate going to pay for all that stuff?

    Who pays for that stuff in India? Oh right, they don’t HAVE that stuff. Ain’t no 911 to call.

    And what are we arguing about in government circles these days? Guys using the girl’s bathroom, and importing millions more untrained foreigners. If you don’t like either of those two things, you are an enemy of the people.

    1. Don’t even start with me on Republican vs. DemocRat

      They do have a small difference
      DemoncRat – Socialism NOW!
      Republican – Socialism in small increments

      1. The -only- reason I vote Conservative is the Liberals are off-the-chart worse, and the NDP are Aardvark. Not even on the same planet.

        That is not much of a recommendation. Literally, they are less poisonous than the alternative. Death by carbon monoxide instead of hydrogen sulfide.

        1. I am not looking forward to the next couple elections. Ontario politics stink worse than month old lutefisk. Federal politics right now is a crap shoot at the best of times. Damned if I vote, thrice damned if I don’t

      1. Yep. And now Hostess is distributed through the retailer’s networks and stocked by the retailers, instead of Hostess’s own distribution network and stockers.

      2. I think it was a transportation union that did Hostess in, but I’m not sure. I just remember thinking “Dude, if the Teamsters are telling you there is no more blood in that stone, there Is. No. More. Blood.” Instead, just like the unions we say in action when we lived in Ireland in the ’70s and ’80s, union management didn’t seem to care if the company really didn’t have the money, they were going to get it or nobody was. The end result was invariably Nobody. Which just proves the old chestnut about repeating the same thing over and over expecting different results.

        Which is why I am almost pathologically anti-union.

        1. I grew up in West Virginia and am well aware of how badly the mine owners treated the miners.

          I am also aware of how badly the UMW treated the miners, especially those bold enough to challenge the ethics of the union bosses.

          1. I know that at one point the unions were necessary. Sadly today, the union bosses seem to treat the union members the same or worse than the employers do.

            The hospital from which I was pink slipped had just started unionizing after over 100 years. Up to that point every time a union had showed up the employees had shown them the door. Now with changes in management to folks who only look at the bottom line, (especially their personal bottom lines) and not the employees or even the patients, I completely understand why the nurses and security unionized (with more to follow). If I was a nurse I’d have voted for the union too. Doesn’t mean I have to like them though. 🙂

        2. As they currently exist, yeah.
          I do think a lot of issues would be fixed if it was changed to single workplace– although figuring out if that means “single employer” (Corporate owned Safeway, the 5 McD’s owned by Joe and Jane) or “single location” (Safeway on 123 4th St) would work better might be a mess.

          I just know the current “everybody that works in a grocery store” thing is … well, follows right along behind the “everything transport related” union like the Teamsters. It’s an abusive monopoly that hurts the workers and everybody else.

        3. I think it was the teamsters who absorbed the union that the bakers, etc. were in. Been a bad time for unions. Many states changed to Right To Work, and mismanagement by the leaders caused many a merger in unions as well as industry. The union here for the shipyard is now the Boilermakers.
          Been quite anti-union myself. Dad was a member of and on the local board of the UAW. Then had the temerity to become a foreman. Aside from that, the union sucked at getting anything (until the economy got worse, then they went on strike enough to make leaving the area pay for the company) but did keep requesting higher dues.
          Many unions were “getting” more and more from companies and running their own pensions, and the companies were glad to fob that off on them (Public Worker Unions are also doing this). But, they poorly ran those pensions, and many retirees are seeing their benes cut, getting as little as 1/4 what was promised, or even for some what they once got. I recall some place that almost 3/4 of all the workers needed to die within a few years of retiring for the pensions to be even close to solvent and a couple of the plans unions ran.

    2. Could Hostess have done that -before- they went bankrupt? Yes. He did nothing they couldn’t have done, and were probably told to do. But they didn’t. They went under rather than change. Billions of dollars, thousands of jobs.

      I disagree, and the reasons why, given in the article, has a bearing on the topic. They acquired a brand that was a name, buildings, and equipment. No pensions. No existing inventory. No union contracts. That’s a lot of baggage. The company might not have been able to afford to do the things necessary to become a money-maker. For instance, the article immediately criticizes the distribution model, but toward the end we see why: A product life of 25 days. Moving to a different model required R&D to make a product with a long enough shelf life to go to warehouse distribution.

      Could the previous owners have done this? Sure. But it would have cost money that they might not have been able to scratch up. It sounds like the previous owners were effectively boxed in to the old way of doing things by debt that only accumulated. And when the company could have afforded to change how it did business, the technology might not have been available. Even changing the recipe for Twinkies would have caused an uproar had the product still been on the shelves.

      My point? It’s possible to get trapped in the old way of doing thing, even when you know better, by circumstances beyond your control. That’s very likely what happened here, and is happening now with other companies – including publishing.

      1. Also, legal structures are designed to trap businesses in 1930-1950 ways of doing things. Most of the progressive regulations proposed from minimum wage increases to Obamacare are designed to create further legal barriers to doing it new ways.

        1. My admittedly vague recollection is that Hostess was trapped in unmanageable union contracts.

          That may have simply been an excuse, it may have been a final straw. There is little doubt that union negotiators seem convinced that increasing the blood drawn will not seriously injure their prey.

          1. The bankruptcy did occur after failing to get union concessions which the union was told failure to get would mean bankruptcy.

            The union they got all surprised and complained about the greed of management choosing to go bankrupt.

            1. Yet one more demonstration of Management selfishness and heartless disregard for the plight of the working man.

            2. IIRC, the Bakers Union refused to allow contract renegotiations. The Teamsters Union, on the other hand, was stating quite publicly to the Bakers Union that if the renegotiation didn’t take place, then the company was going to go under.

                1. Teamsters make their livelihood from transaction of goods. They are thus more sensitive to market forces.

        2. oh, yes, they’re fighting very hard against the future. This always happens. this never works. the more they fight the greater the possibility of blood to one’s ankles before this is done.

    3. Can a cashier at McDonalds retrain as a software engineer, to program robots?

      The jobs he or she would have retrained for are being filled by H1b hires here, or an Indian national in India. The fustercluck we saw at Disney a few years ago is the wave of the future if the PTB have their way.

    4. Thing is, this is going on, to some degree, all the time. At least since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (and the Lesties are STILL trying to undo that, drat them). The current mess can be traced almost directly to the Statist impulse that took over both Parties after WWII. The Regulatory State makes it harder for established businesses to adapt, amd the log jam is breaking up now.

    5. “What party is going to run on (political issue for which there is no existing large constituency in favor)? Nobody, right?”–thephantom182

      Right, nobody.

      First build the constituency. Then the politicians will come around.

  16. One of the best books I ever read about dealing with change was not “Who Moved My Cheese?” but “If it Ain’t Broke…Break It!: And Other Unconventional Wisdom for a Changing Business World.” It’s a business book from the early 90s that was popular among those of us who had joined the Cult of Total Quality Management. The basic idea was that change was happening and that even if your processes were not broken today, they were going to break before too long. So look at your processes as if they were already broken, and design a process that didn’t have single points of failure and legacy stuff that didn’t really matter anymore. (Of course, you needed metrics to ensure you weren’t breaking it worse yourself. See above for one of the pitfalls of metrics.)

    1. MCI had their own way of implementing the “If it ain’t broke, break it” philosophy. They’d pick a department and start starving it. Eventually, some stuff just didn’t get done. When things reached the point that IMPORTANT stuff wasn’t getting done in a timely manner they would increase the budget and unfreeze hiring in that group to allow it to expand to where the important stuff got done in a timely manner, but not enough for the department or group to get fat. It was stressful when your group was under the gun, but it always resulted in simplified processes and elimination of things like the creation of reports that used to serve a purpose but that nobody needed any more.

      1. This is the whole thing about tax cuts. You can’t reform government. You have to starve it.

        Governments of course are wise to this, and respond to a tax shortfall by cutting police and fire -first-.

        At some point it will be worth it to let them do that, and keep winding the screws tighter. I figure that point is probably coming pretty soon. They are taking more than half our total income now, and looking for more.

        Imagine what you could do if they only took a third!

        1. For a case study in how well that doesn’t work, see California after Prop. 13.

          The only way to fix government is to fix it. Indirect means don’t work; you have to hold the politicians responsible, and carefully pay attention to what they’re doing with their left hand while the right one is making those funny finger-signs at you…

          1. Must disagree. The only time government shrinks or gives up a power is if they lose in a war, or if they can’t afford to keep it. I prefer peace and quiet, that lets the war option out. Starving them is the only alternative.

            Next question, do you starve them fast or slow? I vote slow, and steady. 5% reduction in funds every year for 40 years would be about right.

            But that’s really hard, and nobody gets a free Cadillac out of it. That’s why these things usually fester until there’s a war.

            The Regan tax cuts were a great start, but of course they were a ruse. To really reduce government, you’d do a Regan tax cut every five years. Forever.

            1. My point is that the tax cuts are indirect, and as such, do not work. They are the “lazy electorate’s” solution, because the underlying problem of out-of-control politicians is left intact.

              You want to fix the problem? You have to go after the politicians directly, and confront them for what they are doing wrong as individuals.

              Going after the problem via cutting taxes is like trying to housetrain your dog by beating it every time the cat uses the litterbox…

              Am I saying that the average politician is less trainable than your dog? Yeah–The majority I’ve met are completely outclassed by most of the Border Collies I know.

              1. Then you had best be prepared to advocate a program of making regular demonstrations that the law doesn’t make them bulletproof and they had best leave the productive citizenry alone. Because otherwise, they are going to do exactly as they please and rig the law accordingly. That is the reason Jefferson was advocating some form of violent revolution every 20 years.

                Humans will continue to do something until discouraged with punishment that exceeds the rewards of doing it. Right now, things are rigged so that the pain of having freedom exceeds its’ rewards.

          2. Prop 13 cut property taxes, sure, which allowed people to not get kicked out of their fully paid off homes because they could not pay their property taxes, but it also funneled all property tax revenues statewide into Sacramento, and mandated redistribution, based not on measurable stuff like population or economic contribution, but instead on unicorns and rainbows, for great fairness.

            This removal of local revenues to the state had a massive and ongoing impact on CA politics.

            Add to that the power of the public sector unions in CA and you have what’s going on here now – complete and utter concentration of all power in a single party state political structure.

            And all those D-constituencies are still always bitching about Prop 13 – even though property taxes self adjust (i.e. the property tax valuation resets to the sales price) whenever anyone sells their house – so when the retiree in Palo Alto who bought their 1,800 sq ft tract house for $30K back in the 1960s sells it for $1.8 million, the new owner pays property taxes on a $1.8m basis.

          3. Prop. 13 fixed the problem it was intended to address and did so beautifully. If you knew post-WWII California legislative history then you’d know that the problem of property taxes escalating out of control due to inflation had been a concern since the 1950s. Pig Government interest groups had stymied efforts to craft a solution time after time.

            There’s plenty of evidence that had Prop. 13 not passed in 1978 that the Democrats in the statehouse and the legislature would have stayed the course they were on of ever-increasing spending binging. For example, shortly before the election in which Prop. 13 passed, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (a carpetbagger from Texas, btw) publicly stated that the Democrat majority in the legislature would accept a rejection of Prop. 13 as a sign by the voters that they were OK with higher taxes and state spending. Yep, the Democrats holding power in California were sometimes that arrogant.

      2. That works where you don’t have unions to obstruct any reductions in force.

        Careful observers will note there are only two business models which seem able to thrive with unions active: professional sports and government bureaucracies.

        1. And governments can shuffle paper around to create the illusion of the numbers being right in addition to simply demanding an increase in tax revenue. While sports are propped up by massive illegal betting rings and, in my opinion, the careful rigging of game outcomes.

    2. look at your processes as if they were already broken, and design a process

      Attended a seminar by one of our vendors a few weeks ago, and they talked about this principle. The slide deck was loaded with examples of “old process [X touch points]” and “new process [2-3 touch points].” The biggest thing (for me) was that the new process enables the operators to learn, as errors go straight back to them instead of to another team.

      At a corporate meeting a few days later, I pointed out that we needed to follow the vendor’s example and overhaul our own processes. Sure they work, but we need to look at how to make them better (more efficient, less complex).

      Of course, those of us who are old hands at the company can’t be involved in the analysis because we’re too close, we’ll be the ones nattering about how we’ve always done things this way …

      1. The caveat there is that you need to marry the old and the new. Right now we are dealing with a whole chunk of new processes put together by people with no knowledge of product history. Thus they have promised things they cannot and all sorts of other disruption. Meanwhile the folks in the cubes fighting the stupid get ignored.

        1. We’ve recently hired (over the past 12-18mos) someone who used to work for one of our vendors, so he knows what we need to do and has observed the processes of our competitors in the filed, so he might be in a good place to help us streamline things.

      2. The conceptualization that there is a “process” is often the bane of finding a solution in the first place.

        Every time I’ve seen one of these cases where they try to ossify solutions into an “improved process”, what they’re really trying to do is short-circuit and disable the things that are really working, like empowered managers and employees. All too often, what you find is that once you try copying the “process”, what you should have been copying is the institutional culture, and the empowerment of the employees. I’ve watched this happen at a local industrial supply place we used to frequent here in town–They were a big regional player, family-owned, and the family got tired of the work. So, they sold out to the big national chain that was their only competitor in town, the one who couldn’t quite match the quality of service or ability to “get shit done” for the customers. What’s happened since the buy-out is a case study in how to lose customers and market-share, as what has happened instead of them taking over the old companies market share is that another strong regional competitor came in, and is eating their lunch.

        And, it all boils down to that whole concept that there is some magical “process”, enshrined in the employee handbooks and SOPs. Where I could call our rep, before, tell him what we needed, and they’d get it? Now, I’m passed off to regional sales managers, buyers, and people who don’t understand what the hell I need, or care to bother getting back to me. That company is now off my phone’s call list, and blocked, because all I was getting was a bunch of cold sales calls from them, and no real service.

        The attempt to turn everything into a “process” is often what kills these companies–They’re mistaking the journey for the destination, which while being a delightful way to do a vacation, it’s clearly not what you want when your business has things to do.

  17. Here’s a news flash, y’all:

    These stupid *#&*() have never known what the hell they were doing.


    What we’re experiencing here isn’t a “crisis of the elites not being able to cope”, it’s a crisis of the elites no longer being able to pull the wool over our eyes as effectively as they could in the past.

    I disagree vehemently with Sarah; this current situation is not “the world spinning out of control, past the span of the old managerial elite…”, what it is is that they are no longer able to effectively convince us that the Emperor has clothes on.

    Think back on it: When have these people ever really been effectively managing things? Name one damn time, and I’ll happily point out that the only thing they were managing was the perception they were managing things. Whether you’re talking WWII, the Korean War, or Vietnam, the old elites were incompetent managers, and that’s just talking the military realm that I’m most familiar with the history. I dare say you can find supporting evidence for my thesis just about anywhere you bother to look however.

    What’s changed is that the ability to bullshit the public is evaporating. One of the key indicators for me that Obama was going to be a disaster was his unopposed move of the Census department to be placed directly under the White House, giving him effective control of what statistics got released, and how they were collected. Like as not, some diligent digging will find you hundreds of occasions over his administration where the data was massaged in order to provide you with the false perception that his policies were working. Look at the chicanery they pulled with the unemployment statistics, where the rate of unemployment dropped, yet the workforce participation rate dropped exponentially further.

    No, the root of today’s problems does not lie in the inability of the elites to cope with the management of things, it lies in their reduced ability to gaslight the rest of us. And, that’s what’s causing problems all through the civilization–Europe, for example? They can only keep up this facade that the immigration situation isn’t a major civilizational crisis for a bit longer, and then the whole scheme is going to blow up in their faces as the problems become undeniable on the face of things. At which point, the lying liars are going to be in a world of trouble, because they won’t be able to paper over the cracks any more.

    1. One stat that has been bogus for decades is the employment/unemployment stats. The only figures they publish are the employed and those looking for employment. Once your unemployment benefits run out and you actively stop looking for work you aren’t counted for the published numbers.

      This was something taught to me in a micro/macro economics course in college back in the late 90’s. In order to get a true sense of how many people are working you have to look at the whole picture. The numbers are there (U6 or something along those lines), just not trumpeted in the media. Isn’t it funny how labour stats seemed to trumpet how well the economy was doing under Obama? Even with the “revised” stats that were published a few weeks to a month after the “rosy” ones were?

  18. The churches … arrrrrggghhh the churches! I was reading our diocesan newspaper and having feelings similar to what you’re saying here. I joined the church in 1993, and was admittedly politically clueless, but I do not remember the preaching/teaching being overtly political outside of a few basic moral issues. Over the last 10 years or so, it has become more and more political, to the point that an asshole priest drove my spouse out of the church (at least this local church) by preaching that if we did not support a particular piece of legislation, we could not call ourselves Christians. He was promoting not just basic moral issues, but a particular piece of U.S. congressional legislation. I am still astonished and I hope he burns a long long time for driving my spouse away, whom I had labored and prayed over long and hard to get into the faith. I am just hoping that the small poor farmland parish we will soon be moving to has more common sense.

    1. “He was promoting not just basic moral issues, but a particular piece of U.S. congressional legislation.”

      Being played out on a grand scale with the Pope these days. Very spiritual, I’m sure.

      Lest we be puffed up, protestant Canadians are directed to view the state of the United Church of Canada, in these times essentially the religious arm of the NDP. Note that the NDP is essentially agnostic-leaning-toward-atheist, and consider what that means for a church. They’re trying to do it regardless. This is a congregation that decides issues of church philosophy by voting on it. As with most things in Canada, the rural vote gets easily crushed by Toronto.

      My home church from when I was a kid is more than half Korean immigrants these days. They’re the only ones in town under the age of 75 who still go.

      Then there’s the Anglicans, their wreckage makes me wince whenever I see it.

      Therefore I stay home of a Sunday. There are some things upon which one simply cannot compromise. Bankruptcy applies to religious institutions too. Hint to any who run churches: if you’re renting the facilities to Yoga, Karate and Tai Chi classes to make the electric bill, you are going the wrong direction. Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism are your competition, and they do not seem to be having any problems keeping their temples filled these days.

      1. Too examples of the UCC. There is (was) a congregation in Westhill (far east of Toronto) where the “ordained” minister proudly avowed her atheism and removed The Lord’s Prayer from the service. Half the congregation left at that knell. The UCC is trying to remove her with limited success.

        Hometown, one of my old school friends is a member of one of the UCC’s in the town and they downplay severely their connection to the UCC, while the other congregation is full on moonbat NDP, BDS, and any other leftist cause. One church is growing the other is slowly dying off (in the case of my hometown, literally). Lot of the old churches there are starting to board up.

        1. The funny thing about this is that I have a feeling that if the pastor was an atheist who insisted that she remained Christian because it fills a hole in our consciousness, and that religion helps us grow closer to each other and provide moral guidance, I personally would see the case of keeping her on as a pastor — she at least understands that there’s value in the religion she’s preaching.

          Instead, she’s out-and-out *opposing* the teachings of her denomination. It boggles my mind that her denomination can’t simply remove her for apostasy. If you don’t believe the teachings of your denomination — and don’t even believe in the value of those teachings — why are you insisting that you ought to be pastor? And why does UCC have such difficulty removing someone who doesn’t conform, even a little bit, to their teachings?

    2. I wonder if a letter containing the characters “501(3)(c)” might have an impact on a church endorsing legislation…

      1. That only happens if the legislation is a “conservative” one.

        Black Churches have definitely been involved in political activity but either nobody complains to the IRS or the IRS ignores the complaints (and of course said Black Churches generally support Democratic Party).

        1. But it’s the “progressives” that want to cling to the outmoded methods of the 1930’s and such, and the “conservatives” that wish to try something different. My, word, maybe the claim that they switched sides is true, in this case!

      2. As the others have mentioned, that only applies one direction. When you’re endorsing what the demoncraps want, it’s open mike night. Sigh ….

  19. The American Revolution is an unusual case in that Britain tried to tighten the screws after letting the colonies do pretty much their own thing. Until that point colonists on the frontier were often at odds with those on the coast. That changed, thanks to North and George III. It quickly went from “Are we not Englishmen?” to “Are we not Americans?

    Yes, there was economic mobility after the Tories pulled out. Someone I can’t recall wrote that he had seen one of the newly rich who, before the war, would have cleaned his boots. Yet the divisions cut across economic levels.

    The causes of the US Civil War is a forbidden topic and I won’t go there. It’s non-controversial to point out that there was industrialization throughout the US long before the Civil War, and can be shown in just three words: the cotton gin. The difference was that each region went with their economic strength. The North had plenty of resources for making steel, and the South for agriculture. This means that while both industrialization and manpower played a role in the outcome of the war, it doesn’t necessarily hold the war was a response to changes in the Industrial Revolution. And, as this does get into the forbidden topic, I will leave off with that.

    As to churches . . . sore point with me of late. It’s so common for those in the pulpit to blame those in the pews . . . Must not rant; must not rant. Lately I’ve taken to calling the Southern Baptist Convention, of which our church is a member, the Scallywag Baptist Convention: A wholly owned subsidiary of Lifeway. Christian clergy regardless of denomination should look at their hands, just to remind themselves they don’t have nail prints.

  20. Brianna Wu, who is running for Congress, appears to have read but not understand The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. She thinks big corporations can occupy Luna and destroy Earth by dropping rocks on Terra, causing nuclear explosions. Therefore she is seriously concerned about SpaceX plans to travel there. See the Twitterings at:

    Democrat Running For Congress Thinks You Can Destroy Earth By Dropping A Rock From The Moon

    Let the mockery of Brianna Wu, super genius, commence.

    1. I ain’t got anything in my kit that can defuse that level of stupidity. We’re talking stupidity so dense that it makes black holes look harmless.

    2. Perhaps such an expert on violence in computer games can game out a plausible scenario for this to happen in Kerbal Space Program. Unfortunately, the program’s creators paid too much attention to accuracy in orbital mechanics to make it easy.
      Roughly, It takes just as much fuel to get something from the moon to the earth as it does to get something from the earth to the moon. Even if you are playing in sandbox mode without constraints on money and would rather spectacularly blow up male pilots than do anything else.

    3. Ox read RES comment many times now.
      Ox try to figure out how BW can conclude thus.
      Ox fear if he turn brain down that far, he never wake up again.
      Yes, flinging rocks from moon to earth won’t do earth good.
      The costs involved won’t benefit anyone else.
      That book? It was the only handy effective weapon in a desperate time.
      Lesson: Don’t stupidly cause desperate times.
      Conclusion: Do NOT vote for BW.

      1. I don’t see why he should be given any slack just for using the “Don’t hit me, I’m a girl!” excuse.

      2. Possibly, but would a man make so misguided an argument? Frankly, I don’t think even Judge Posner s such a moron.

          1. 1. No thanks, you can keep him.

            2. I was not aware of Arthur Chu being a man. I suppose he is male, and possibly even of the hominid family, but that is as far as I am willing to go absent stronger evidence than any presented heretofore.

    4. No, she wrote that rocks dropped from the Moon have the kinetic energy equivalent of nuclear bombs. Which is true. (Well, she actually wrote that such rocks have 100x the power of nuclear bombs, which is wrong, but her basic idea is right.)

      1. Without lunar surface launch equipment that has to be hauled all the way up there and built first, and then used to propel them with considerable force in just the right direction to kill off their orbital velocity and get them to fall all the way to earth, the moon rocks are going to rest comfortably in peace.

        1. Not to mention the fact that Earth would have a few days to launch countermeasures.

        2. I think she overestimates the level of self-sufficiency attainable by Luna. Rocking the Earth is likely to have deleterious effect upon the umbilical cord that Luna will long need for survival.

          She takes some small element of Right (the tactical importance of the orbitals) and makes a spectacular Left Turn to go very very Wrong.

          1. “I think she overestimates the level of self-sufficiency attainable by Luna.”

            Yes, in any future that we know enough to plan for, at least. By the time you have the tech so advanced you can make a robust self-sufficient settlement on Luna, very likely various other tech will have advanced to change the tradeoffs in importantly relevant ways.

            “Sir, we have received a message from our old Lunar power facility, ‘Bwahahahaha, with my advanced totally self-sufficient settlement on Luna I shall deliver rocky destruction to the Earth until you surrender to my POWAH.'”

            “And you didn’t have a plan for this?”

            “No, sir, we can’t plan for everything.”

            “Not even a cliche like this?”

            “No, sir, no, please don’t look at me like that, sir.”

            “Is this some sort of meta-joke about second-level idiot plots?”

            “Sir. Please, sir.”

            “Hmm, actually, weren’t we transparently lampshading how all of our relevant ordinary security preparations had been stupidly set aside Totally For Valid Reasons, Totally I say, for what would have been at least two pages of annoyingly contrived exposition if this was an annoyingly contrived story and we were UNREALISTICALLY IDIOTIC?”


            “OK. If we divert some of the coherent entrainment stream from the Mercury-launched grid, how many milliseconds will it take for us to remodel the old Lunar launch facility as a thin film of slag under a spectacular burst of plasma?”

            1. Afterthought: That little dialog, as written, takes for granted the worldview implicit in e.g. Vinge _Marooned In Realtime_ that of course it’s natural to head toward tech where per-capita energy flow would make Zeus desperately jealous, but upon reflection I realize that’s not everyone’s worldview, so maybe I should have preceded the last remark with something like…

              “OK, I’m as much of a fan of interstellar exploration as anyone, but delaying Vespa, um, what is is it, Vespa…”

              “Um, you mean this afternoon? Megavespa 1522, you mean? What are you getting at, sir?”

              “Megavespa 1522, yes, delaying Megavespa 1522’s initial boost schedule by a few milliseconds just isn’t that big a deal. […]”

          2. Been a few decades since I have read TMiaHM, but if my memory serves me correctly. Part of the rebellion by the Lunies was that Earth was draining their resources and they were looking at cannibalistic famines in the very near future. So in their case rocking the earth was a dire and last ditch effort in order to get their “demands” and lives safely looked after.

            *throws TMiaHM onto the growing reading pile*

    5. Is it that fake female who claims to speak for women science fiction writers?

        1. But if she doesn’t speak for Women Of SF there is the danger y’all might speak for yourselves, and then what becomes of Ms Wu?

    6. Back in 2006, I wrote this in response to some academic moron saying that mining the moon was a Bad Thing because it would quickly remove enough mass to alter the moon’s orbit resulting in various catastrophes. I wrote it to the tune of Leslie Fish’s Hope Eyrie, with her blessing.

      Hope’s Weary
      TTTO: Hope Eyrie, by Leslie Fish

      Kids grow old
      And brains grow cold
      And dumb we never can doubt.
      Hard cold facts
      just won’t go away.
      No matter how much we hope and pray,
      All too soon, the truth comes out!

      And the lumber has landed!
      Tell these idiots that
      We’re going to smack them with a baseball bat!

      For Moons are large,
      And men are small,
      And even our largest machines
      Can’t move enough Lunar rocks and soil
      To shift the Moon in its’ orbital coil
      And cause the tides to change.


      But we who know
      the weight of the throw,
      the mass that our rockets can hurl
      Can only smile and roll our eyes
      at the babbling oddballs who theorize
      and keep us chained to our world!


      We know well what the old owl tells,
      If you can’t talk sense then hush,
      But those who deal in newsprint and ink
      So very rarely stop to think,
      “Does the smell test pass this slush?”


      For we who try to turn idiocy’s tide,
      There’s just one thing to thank,
      The clue by four is but metaphor,
      and no new trees have to die therefore,
      Just our hair pulled with a yank!

      Let the lumber keep landing
      until these idiots see
      We’re going to space because it’s the place to be!

  21. It has been observed on occasion that those churches that most closely follow the prevailing liberal orthodoxy are suffering from a decline in membership, while the more doctrinally conservative denominations are doing better and even growing. It’s a variant of the “Hard Left Turn and Die” that our hostess has observed.
    As far as clergy is concerned, it’s my personal suspicion that few things are more effective at killing religious belief than theological seminary.

    1. Not so much as hard left turn and die, as losing focus of their mission. Currently, the SBC is showing a lot of this. SBC churches are losing members, so their emphasis is on gaining new ones. Given the Great Commission, that’s a very fine goal. Except the SBC is concentrating on things that don’t amount to a hill of beans, both with the Gospel and with people, and are throwing current members under the bus. Since my father has had his medical issues, starting with his bypasses some years ago, I haven’t heard or seen much from Baptists. I have from Methodists and Roman Catholics, though, and that says a great deal.

      Anyway, over a couple of decades ago I heard comments that Lifeway was trying to appeal to more than Baptists, which is like Arby’s opening vegetarian restaurants. Maybe. Or maybe it was the impression from the literature, which hasn’t been great in a long time. Either way, I can’t help but think the panic isn’t as much over the unsaved as thinking literature sales are down. Hope I’m wrong. Won’t be surprised if I’m not.

  22. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and the following notion might be what’s been going on for the past few decades.
    There are four types of people in any society: the educated and credentialed, the educated and uncredentialed, the uneducated and uncredentialed, and the uneducated and credentialed.
    For awhile, most of the people running things were in the first group; however, they usually made some effort to police for the fourth group, and would bring in members of the second on a semi-regular basis. As a result, group three was quiescent, and happy to let group one run things.
    Unfortunately, sometime between 1900 and 1950, group one decided to ally with group four, and did their level best to cast out group three. What’s happening right now, arguably, is group three’s revenge.

    1. And group three doesn’t need to be educated as such to know things ain’t right. While I do comprehend the response of “Well, why don’t you do it then” to nattering critics, that’s not the case when the diagnoses is genuine.

      As an example, unless you are a mechanic or mechanical engineer, chances are you are going to design/repair an automatic transmission. But you can almost certainly still tell if one is not operating correctly, even if you can’t pin down the exact diagnosis.

      More and more, there has been a general sense of “something ain’t right.” And the treatment for some time has been, “Let’s try more of what we know from experience doesn’t work. Maybe we just need more!” And the hole just gets deeper.

    2. Oh, also, sorry. Group one did their level best to cast out group two, not group three. Group three was already out.
      We’re seeing the revenge of group two

  23. A show I sometimes listen to hit on the topic in relation to churches today– he basically ripped activist churches a new one because they’re supposed to be making people who will go out and do good stuff, not making people do good stuff.

    Two interesting articles at the link, one pointing out that the Catholic groups pulling this stuff are basically mainline protestant groups, with similar attendance, while more…well, Catholic groups tend to be growing.

    1. I have one kid in First Communion classes and a second in the pre-show (as a side note, those classes could not be more ill-designed for my information junkie, and I taught him MYSELF for half of the year last year.) One mom of an older kid wondered how to keep him (and his friends) engaged, and I replied that she needed to challenge him. Seriously, make it hard on them, but the meaningful kind of hard.

      My kids would be helping with a food kitchen right now if they didn’t have minimum age limits. (And I get that—you shouldn’t have to have adult minders for kids. But I wouldn’t mind if the age limit were a bit lower than 12 or 13.) I want to put them in service early, not because of some weird idea that it’s necessary to graduate but because it’s easier to understand that faith is important if you have concrete examples in front of you…

  24. I’m entering corporate hell because I AM a manager, if a low level one, and I’m seeing bullshit all the way up. We’ve gone from “this job should be fun and educational” to “This is a mission. We’re changing the world and you’re either on board or should start looking for somewhere else to work”. The first hint I had was a quiz that got sent around a month or so ago where the first question was “What is our goal?” and the correct answer was not “to make money”.

    Oh, they still want to make money but they’re going about it in such a way that I’m concerned how much we’re losing in a growing market. I’m certain we’ve way overspent on acquisitions and marketing.

    Having to be on board with the mission tells me a few things; they’ve bought into the screechy sjw bullshit, raises are not forthcoming anytime soon, there will be loyalty tests for promotions, we’re going to be closing low performing stores in growing markets.

    I’m influencing where I can but I can see the hard roll to the left coming and I’m going to have to jump off before somebody purchases what should be a lucrative company and rescues it. I just hope I can hold on to be jumping to a new ship, not trying to swim in panic.

    1. Management and even the BoD might want to be all “social justicy is more important than making money”, but I can pretty much guarantee that the stock holders want money and if Managment/BoD forgets that that can enjoy their SJW creds while watching stock prices fall, and I just hope you can indeed find a new ship in time which understands that the goal of any organization is to make money, and SJW crap is a at best to be a sideline, not the other way round.

      1. This is why whenever Leftists attack corporations for being all about greed I am wont to point out that stocks and corporate bonds constitute the bulk of pension assets — “widows & orphans funds” — and then demand to know why those attacking corporations “want widows and orphans to starve.”

  25. Re Venezuela: The present regime was established as, and to a certain extent still is, populist. From 1958 to 1998, Venezuela was run by its social and economic elite: the (mainly) white upper crust. There was a deal between the two dominant political parties (“Puntofijsmo”). They competed and debated, but the it was always someone from that sector that was in charge, and that sector’s interests always got taken care of first.

    When the oil boom was roaring in the 70s and 80s, there was lots of money to spread around, and everyone got some of the action. The country developed a lot of dumb spending habits, at the personal and national levels. (Upper-class Venezuelan shoppers were a running joke in Miami: they’d come in and order six of everything. Meanwhile, the government was selling gasoline for almost nothing, and handing out lots of grants and subsidies.)

    Then came the oil bust of the 90s, and the government had to cut back. The lower class took the brunt of this, and didn’t like it. The IMF and “neo-liberalism” (i.e. capitalism) got the blame.

    Along came Chavez, a magnetic speaker, visibly not-white, proposing to kick over all the crony apple carts of the elite. He tapped into the enormous anger and resentment of the Venezuelan lower classes (his voters), and the frustration of many political reformists (his henchmen).

    He over-reached, and almost was overthrown in 2002, but the opposition blew the opportunity by proposing to turn back the clock (like the French Bourbons who had learned nothing and forgotten nothing). He used the oil bonanza of the 00s to extend his popular support, and with that support gutted the constitutional restraints (which he had written!).

    By 2012, his spell had faded; he barely won re-election, and then died. he regime is propped up by its nominal “democratic legitimacy”, and by the feckless opposition, which seems to have little to offer except return to de facto “Puntofijsmo”. For a significant segment of Venezuelans, that’s repulsive. For them, all the operational calamities of the post-Chavez regime are outweighed by their visceral antipathy to the old order.

    Thus popuism remains a prop of the regime.

  26. One of the frightening things about Venezuela is that the political opposition to the party in power is ALSO socialist.

    That’s bang-your-head-against-the-wall stupid.

    1. One could argue that is at least partially true here.

      I think the moment I started to give disenchanted with American conservatism can be traced to a nominally positive thing. Limbaugh loves to say the natural yearning of the human soul is for freedom.

      I have watched too many people too many places in too many times (through reading history for the past and reading the news for the present) clearly choose order over freedom (not safety, but order which are not the same beast) too often to believe that freedom is the natural human desire or at least not a universally overriding one.

      1. Actually, we want both. And frankly, you can’t have freedom *without* order. “Freedom” without order lasts exactly as long as it takes for the strongest bully to finish beating up his last rival. And a lot of people lose their freedom–and most everything else–long before that.

        The reason libertarianism has never gotten any traction to speak of is that most people know they wouldn’t win a true free-for-all (literal or metaphorical), and couldn’t trust whoever did. They know their freedom depends on a certain amount of order. This makes them suckers for the Guy With All the Answers, yes. But it doesn’t make them willing slaves.

        1. Perhaps I need a better word for order. It is easy to default to safety but that isn’t right.

          “Without the risk of failure” is the concept but I need a word for that.

      2. I would guess you and Limbaugh are using “freedom” differently– or those you’ve seen choose against “freedom” are operating under a different set of beliefs about the facts of the matter.

        Time for one of my favorite Sheen videos. 😀

        1. Oh good — the video didn’t show up in my email feed, so I wasn’t sure whether you were referencing the Bishop or Charlie.

        2. It is probably my cynicism but I think Limbaugh and I are using the same meaning or close relatives: the ability to choose and to work to achieve a goal without artificial restraint or restriction.

          I think many, many people think of freedom as license, the ability to do as they please without consequence. In pursuit of license they are willing to give up freedom. Gay marriage and wedding cakes are a perfect example. The demand for license to celebrate gay unions on the same terms as heterosexual unions historically without facing that some people will decline to participate.

          In terms of Bishop Sheen Limbaugh and I agree with his union but most people seem to engage only “Freedom From” (what I call license) to the degree that they will choose the illusion of license over the reality of freedom.

          1. An awful lot of consequences are other people– and man-made restrictions come from other people exercising their ability to choose and work to achieve a goal.

            We totally agree on the liberty =/= license thing, though; I suspect the issue there is that…well, to steal from Sheen, they’re trying to draw five-sided triangles and short-necked girrafes. And just like Charley Sheen, it doesn’t work. Not only do they not have a five-sided triangle, they don’t have a triangle at all….

            The probem is how do we figure out which things are five-sided triangles, and which are conflicts with other folks’ freedom; a lot of people mistake the first for the second.

            Even systems that have a way to work that out (as Fulton Sheen’s does) then have to deal with what to do about conflicting routes to the goal, or conflicting goals….

  27. I loved this article, and I think it’s on point, but I don’t understand how “extremely cheap data storage and processing and communication at a distance” push structural changes in society. Hoping for some elaboration on that.

    1. Think. Instant communication across the world. News. blogs. indie books. Just-in time manufacturing.
      It’s easy not to correlate all this, but stuff like “Summer of recovery” would have SOLD because all papers pushed it, 20 years ago. People would go “it’s lousy in my area, but maybe the rest of the country…” But we all have friends ALL over the country now. Even without news blogs, there would be cracks.
      But then consider the possibility of having data workers in another part of the country, or another country which are much cheaper. Consider in my field, established companies competing with authors themselves. Consider that movie tech is getting close enough for indies to compete seriously with big budget. Consider manufacturing that can hinge on fewer machines and only one person managing them. Etc. We’re on the cusp of major changes.

      1. Agreed, major changes are afoot. Obstacles to production and information are coming down. The most interesting phenomena, to me, are the secondary effects. Like the election of Donald Trump. The ‘summer of recovery’ example captures it; the news distribution system is flattening and democratizing, now the networks can’t control the zeitgeist. Donald Trump gets elected in spite of them. At some point we get to the logical extreme in which everybody knows everything about everybody else, instantly. Still, we are not machines, but limited by the size of our own brains, and so information will be filtered one way another. The news that gets attention is whatever is the most outrageous. Which leads to paid protesters and Berkeley riots. I hope this all works out for the good, somehow.

      2. About 2 years ago now, I was sitting in LAX waiting for the last flight back to Dallas when American Airlines announced that they had to cancel the flight “because bad weather prevented the plane from taking off.” They fly the same plane back and forth, basically all day, every 4 hours.

        If the flight is cancelled due to bad weather, that’s outside the airline’s control, so they weren’t going to have to pay to put up 150+ people in LA overnight.

        Within 60 seconds, a dozen people had pulled out smart phones, pulled up weather services showing that there had been no bad weather in Dallas that day, and told the airline representative he was a flat out liar. Then some of us reminded American that they could be social media “stars” in seconds, and with the help of, the paperwork for a dozen lawsuits could be filed in hours.

        American paid up. 5 years before, they’d have gotten away with it.

        1. So one secondary effect might be stated: “In the Future, everyone must either tell the truth all the time OR be extremely tech savvy.” I read somewhere, and I’m paraphrasing from memory, that good leaders also need to be good liars. It’s a related skill. So leadership will get harder as time goes on.

      3. This is also a pain in the posterior for the AGW folks who rant “Warmest {month} ever!!1!1” and You think “Well, it was a bit cooler than normal here, normal where the rest of my family is, damned cold at the inlaw’s place in Japan, and those I know in the southern hemisphere are complaining summer is just not showing up for them this year and the English folk I know are asking ‘WTF? Has all the heat gone away?’ and the Russian folk are saying, ‘A bit chilly, but I’ve felt worse’ so thall the heat must be in the part of Austria that the one guy you know going ‘Where’s the Snow?’ lives”
        conclusion? They’re lying.

    2. Are you familiar with military strategy? I don’t mean deeply– I’m not!– but vaguely?

      A whole lot of it involves controling information; don’t let the guy you’re fighting know that you’re doing something until it’s too late. Easy communication stops that.

      Or think about old movies– would they work if everyone had a cellphone? Much less a smartphone and could go “oh, I see, these symptoms match up with _____.”

    3. Oooh! Easy, short way to say it–
      those two things make it so that “going to the office” can be at your own house, realistically.

      Which means that office-workers don’t have to be near cities. And they can move from one company to another without moving.

      1. and that’s just a part of it. Think book buying market, because I know it best, but I’m sure it’s the same with other things from clothing to appliances (remember the year everyone was wearing orange? What about all the eco-friendly washing machines that don’t wash?) In the late 90s, early 2000s book publishers had found a way to control what was bought. In a market where you have to guess what to publish and anticipate what people might want to read in two years, this was a great boon. The way they controlled what sold well, middling and badly (but still enough to make their nut) was by what was distributed where. This was push-marketing. If you had a hundred copies of any given book in a big market, it would sell. Even if it sucked. Well, it would sell more than your middling book, which only had ten copies, hidden away on a shelf somewhere. And they’d both outsell the book that had two copies and might be misshelved or not shelved at all.
        Those numbers in turn then bolstered the idea that whatever they bought and whatever direction they went in, it would make them money. Because what else were people going to buy? This is how cozies and space opera, once market leaders in their genres were declared to be “unsaleable.”
        And then came indie and Amazon.
        Only not in that order.
        Now, no matter where I am unless reception is REALLY sucky, I can buy whatever suits my fancy that moment, and have it to read in minutes.
        HOW does the push model hold on in the face of that? There are no big markets, no small markets, no way to hide the books you despise or push the ones you think “educate” the public. Fortunes are being made, not in traditional publishing. And yet, traditional publishing, by and large, holds on to their model of doing things, even as it sinks.

        1. remember the year everyone was wearing orange

          *shudder* The one I remember is when absoultely EVERYTHING in the store that was comfort-wear was either a puke green, ugly brownish orange or… I think it was a nasty blue? I can’t remember, the third was the least offensive so it was always gone first.

          I suspect there’s been a resurgance in sports type shoes that aren’t hideous, too…

  28. Anybody else think of “The Posidon Adventure” after reading this essay? Getting out and leading others to safety will require a paradigm shift.

  29. Reblogged this on and commented:
    This is really very insightful. Even the comments section is good (rather than the usual drivel).

    BLUF: “The same can be said of just about any revolution. Horrible tyrants don’t get toppled. Their softer, kinder successors do.”

  30. related: papers, articles, journals, links:

    Ashby’s Law.

    “An Economic Geography of the United States: From Commutes to Megaregions”

    “The Rebirth of the City-State”

    The Megacity Economy: How Seven Types of Global Cities Stack Up

    Single family offices and multiple family offices = more than $1 trillion+ in assets under management in the in US, alone.

    Click to access The_Global_State_of_Family_Offices.pdf

    “Complexity Rising: From Human Beings to Human Civilization, a Complexity Profile”

    Expect More Conflict Between Cities and States

    US separatist movements

    My ‘eotwawki’ reading list:
    Part Two: My ‘EOTWAWKI’ Reading List.

    “Our World is Ruled by Psychopaths. Part Two.”

    “Complexity Economics: A Different Framework for Economic Thought”

  31. In 2006 I put in writing observations and problem solutions, relative to the churches, with which I had been struggling since a visit to Sathya Sai Baba in 1971 and with Sathya Sai Baba in 1972. I called it To Religion Parks From Religion Wars. It is not copyrighted. FWIW, it is here:

    Over the next day or two I intend to revisit that solution and add reasons, such as tax code, for municipalities and cities to give it consideration.

  32. Revolution happens not when things are at their direst and when the boot of the oppressor is solidly on the neck of the people, but when conditions ease up, when things are better, when the boot lifts enough to allow movement.

    The history of Russia bears this out.

    I was reading up a little on Czar Alexander I (the one who fought against Napoleon), and then ended up also reading a bit about his successors up through the unfortunate Nicholas. And there was a very definite pattern. It went something like this.

    Russia would get a Czar that recognized that Russia needed to change in order to adapt to the modern world and catch up to the rest of Europe. So the new Czar would attempt to liberalize things, and make life better for people who weren’t nobles. Unfortunately, what invariably happened was that citizens would get unhappy about what they viewed as the slow pace of change. So they’d turn to assassination and try to kill the Czar. And eventually, since there’s always more revolutionaries in a country as big as Russia, someone would manage to kill him.

    So the reform-minded Czar is dead. Long live the new Czar.

    Problem was, the new Czar would always examine the circumstances of his predecessor’s death, and decide that maybe letting the lower classes have enough freedom to kill the Czar was a bad idea. So they’d undo most of the work that the previous reform-minded Czar had accomplished.

    Then *that* Czar would eventually die (in non-violent circumstances), and a new Czar would rise to power. This Czar would recognize that Russia needed to change in order to adapt to the modern world and catch up to the rest of Europe…

  33. Reblogged this on The ShieldWall Network and commented:
    “Be ready for it. Be prepared. Don’t lose your way. We’re going to need all the people who can think through this, plus some, to avoid a blood letting that will make the French Revolution or the American Civil war look like tea with the parish ladies.”

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