Yesterday someone asked about my post “upside down” and why cheap data processing and storing and communication would affect our social structure.

What I answered with was an example from my field and I’m going to repeat it here, and then we’re going to explore some other things.

My field is,  of course, the area I know best how this worked.

If I am to believe memoirs, the field was fully taken over by the left in the forties.  This would explain the rather gratuitous (and quite mind-twistingly bizarre) occasional political-diatribe paragraphs in things like Agatha Christie.

I once read a biography of a post WWII publisher, and it was obvious as the author of the bio was talking about “socially conscious publishing” or some such rot that it was when “we’ll publish what is good for you and you’ll like it.”

And people did.  I mean, by and large.  After all, what else was there?  Even the classics had to be re-bought and the same houses published them and they cost money.  And besides, you know, these books were getting very good reviews in the newspapers, were bought to make movies from, and precisely who wanted to go against the tide of what everyone knew was the best current literature?

The blanket of left-coverage and of presenting left ideas as sane was fairly pervasive.  It extended to the press, academia, publishing, art and any kind of mass communications.  The result was that the overton window made communism simply a fast and extreme way of pushing what EVERYONE KNEW were good ideas.  Ideas like central planning, or “progressive” education that minimized love of country and trust in technocratic, multinational elites (“our best men.”) and an idea of social life that ditched all traditional restraint, and an equality of the sexes that seemed to maximize women’s utility as corporate gears.

This “dream” was being busily sold in the science fiction of the period, too.  At some point a few years ago, an older colleague reminded me of it when she said in the future we were all supposed to be eating at state owned cafeterias, weren’t we?  In fact, from such books as I remember (Heinlein only glanced off it) all of family life had been off loaded to “public” functions, which if you’ve ever read The Communist Manifesto was right up there.  The individual had to become an indistinguishable/genderless cog of the all pervasive state.  It was this efficiency that allowed the planned economy to outstrip all of this disorganized capitalism.  And we knew this for sure because soviet press told us how the Happy People of Brutopia er the Soviet Union had no poverty and no unemployment, and hell, we saw them all happy at May Day parades.  It was just that they had used brutal methods to achieve that paradise too quickly, and we were going to do it slowly, with brainwashing, I mean social engineering, so that when that perfect future arrived where the state was your mother and your father, and you were used to the greater glory of the state while being made perfectly happy and taken care of, (from YOU according to your ability and to YOU according to your needs, which the perfect, benevolent state knew, anyway) you’d greet it with joy.  After all it was perfectly logical and all your sources of information told you so.

Perhaps I saw this more clearly because I grew up in Europe, where they took less care to disguise what they were doing.  Everyone KNEW the future was socialist.  Everyone knew that was the best thing.  And everyone knew the US was a failed, rump experiment in individualism which succeeded only in fostering the inequalities and decadence of Rome, and which, like Rome, would be swallowed up any day now.

It became obvious when I first came to America that both major parties believed this too.  It was just a difference in how fast they wanted to get there.  Which is why Ronald Reagan was a shock to their system.  Even previous Republican presidents had ASSUMED it was a matter of speed, not of destination.

And Reagan was where the blanket thrown over everyone’s minds started to unravel.  Not as fast as it should, mind.  I mean in any rational plot, in any novel written about this, the revelation of how spectacularly unpleasant, poor and just ridiculous (300 baby shoes was the same as 300 shoes of assorted sizes to supply the population) the USSR was would have put paid to the idea that communism was better.  In any world with a modicum of decency “communist” would be a greater insult than nazi, because one killed over a hundred million and the other only seven? twelve million?  Mind you both are mind bogglingly awful and both should be insults because they’re both short hand to “power hungry mass murderer” but communist is orders of magnitude worse.  (And no, as my younger self tried to exculpate this nonsense “at least the communists had good intentions” doesn’t wash it.  The Nazis did too.  By their lights. According to the best scientific theory of the time.  Don’t believe me?  Read the Green Man from Greypeck, where the man laments that eugenics weren’t followed and so the race isn’t fit to survive.  And this btw was based on ideas from H. G. Wells.  And the author was not a communist, or a Nazi, just a middle class Englishman.  (In case you wonder, yes, it used to be worse.  Which is the whole point of this essay.  Mostly.))

Societies don’t work that way.  The people who’d long marched to the top of all mass communications weren’t about to roll over and admit they’d devoted their lives to a lie.  (We’re still seeing the rump action of this contingent in politics.  McCain for instance, is typical of the “of course the all-pervasive state is better, but we have to herd the peasants there slowly.”  So is Vichy Mitchy.)  So we slowly, after frantic re-grouping, got the narrative that socialism and communism aren’t all bad.  It’s just that the wrong people were in charge.  And after all, Russia, such a backward country to try this in.  The fact the ridiculous ideology only “took” in backward countries is an interesting narrative.  Hungary, if I remember, rivaled Germany and Austria, for culture and art, and hey, look at what communism did to half of Germany.  Even the other half, plunged deep in socialism, like all of Europe, is better off.  But hey, it is only a matter of “the right people” and America will do this better because it’s such a wealthy country.

Anyway, so the narrative persisted, and still persists in every possible quarter.

But here’s the thing.  I’m not sure what we’ll call the beginning of the unraveling was all Reagan. Sure it was him when he arranged the breakup of the Bell system.  When I was in the states in 80/81, calling the next city a couple of times cost $50.  I know, because I had a boyfriend in the next city and didn’t realize the charges, so I had to reimburse my host parents.  This meant friendships over say fifty miles were difficult, unless you were willing to write each other letters everyday.

Everyone lamenting the decline of letter writing reminds me a bit of ladies my grandmother’s age lamenting the demise of long skirts.  Sure, they were lovely for dressing up on occasion, but anyone who’s worn costume knows how difficult it makes everyday life: climbing a bus, going to the bathroom, going up stairs, etc.  Sure, fun every once in a while — like letters — but cumbersome to live with.

Four years later, my husband courted me by phone, with a call every week, and yeah, okay, it cost a few hundred dollars, but it was not as prohibitive as four years before.  Not by a long shot.  Like a ten times larger long shot.

I’ve come to the conclusion that 1984 was written at the only time it could be written, and the only time it could work was that time with a small increase in tech.

Very pervasive, intrusive regimes require being able to not just see everything, but also to control everything people see.

The real world of 1984 would be different.  There would always be black market tech to make it look you were perfectly innocent, and there would be underground markets (many) and there would be underground news sources too.  There always were. BUT in terms of what was acceptable behavior, and what people thought was sane, 1984 was about right, so long as they controlled all forms of communication.

Let’s remember that part of what brought down the soviet union was… typewriters.  Just the ability to make fast copies of something and disseminate it widely opened cracks in the totalitarian information they were being fed.

By the mid eighties when I came over, not only was phone way cheaper, but fax machines were all the rage.  When I had an honest job, office workers would fax each other cartoons and jokes.  We also talked a lot across offices.  I remember it seemed magical to me to talk to my counterpart at our company’s branch in Columbus Ohio and ask how the weather was.  Wow, instant information across the country, and no intermediates.  Wow.

Since then it’s been a break neck race in… ah, disintermediation of information and getting out of central gatekeepers.  And from information to politics and the arts.

The thing is, most people aren’t even aware of changing their political opinions, for the reason most people never think about politics.  I do, but that’s because I was bitten by politics when I was a wee little girl, and I carry the scars.

Most people aren’t aware of their opinion changing.  It’s more that when we all got all our info from daily news, we’d have been subjected to a barrage of news telling us how successful and wonderful Obama was and how prosperous the country.  And we’d have believe it.  Even the WSJ joined in the chorus through the first summer of recovery at least.  Probably because they thought the chorus was, of course, going to be successful and they didn’t want to sound crazy.

But it never took.  Even eight years ago, right after the election, it never took. They managed to sell their shiny package of Obama with talk of women fainting and how smart he was, but that was it.  People could talk to aunt Mimmi in Miami and uncle Hank in Cleveland and they knew that they too were struggling.  So it never took.  In moments “Summer of recovery” became a joke.

Two thousand and twelve was a triumph of fraud plus putting a cone of silence on the Republican candidate.  As uninspiring/soft as Romney was, a lot of us knew by then that we needed anyone but Obama.  But things like the massive rally in Denver where more than ten times the people in the stadium were turned away and every road in CO was stopped up with people trying to get to the rally were cone-of-silenced.

Also for the smarter people, the ones who of course, still trusted gatekeepers (it takes more than smarts to go against pervasive narrative.  It takes being an odd.  The people who want to fit in and be popular, the “nice kids” even when adults, just buy what seems to be “everyone says”) there was a narrative that the measures Obama had taken were JUST about to pay off.  This made perfect sense to those (mal) educated in our institutions, because the measures Obama had taken had been sold to them as “sensible” and “logical.”

Unfortunately the media didn’t realize they were blowing their last powder charge.  Well, unfortunately for them, but good for the nation.

By the time 16 came around, they redoubled their efforts.  In a way they had to, because the harp–  Hillary is such a d*mn uninspiring candidate.  Though at least the democrats in charge understood she was saner than crazy uncle Bernie, a Jewish man in his sixties who declared himself a “National Socialist” without a qualm.

But because they knew they had a problem on their hands, they pushed the least likely to win Republican candidate possible, and didn’t cone of silence him.  D*mn it all, the things he said were so stupid and repulsive.  Surely the people would laugh at him.

And then election night came.  You had to have a heart of stone not to laugh like an hyena.

I’ve seen this before.  I’ve been watching it slo-mo in publishing over the last ten years or so from “We control all the books you get to see, and the least repulsive/political will sell the most, but don’t worry, because we’re starting to take over even romance.”  and “The lower sales are just the result of people reading less, but look, they still love our soft porn, feminist romances!  Look how they sell!”  Or “They still love our social justice fantasies/mysteries/science fiction, look how they sell.”

They sold because they were the only thing available.  The dogs might hate the food, but if the alternative was starving, they’d make an attempt.  (And, btw, for some of us games and movies aren’t an option.  Hell, for a lot of us, we still need print even if we game and watch movies.)

But the communications/data revolution progressed.  BTW we are a fairly unusual country.  The same tech is available other countries, but it didn’t go into the same channels.  I think it’s because, bad as we are, we are less socialist than even other Western countries.  People trust “the proper authorities” less.

My mother says Portugal badly needs news blogs.  And it does.  But if there is something like instapundit there, I haven’t seen it. Which is in itself interesting, since in the seventies there were all sorts of unauthorized radio stations, which you’d think were more work.

I know newspapers are struggling because I have friends who work in journalism.  Or used to.  Or are riding that puppy to the ground in a race between the industry’s bankruptcy and retirement age.

I have my ideas about traditional publishing.  I think one house in my field will survive.  And no cookies for which house.  BUT I also think even that is going to get really fraught.  Because I won’t lie to you, with no promo except my efforts on this blog, Witchfinder made me double the money my traditional books make me.  Now, that’s at me getting 75% of the take, of course, but still.  No effort.  No publicity.  And money does speak loudly.

Almost every indie I know who is professional and puts out at least two books a year, without interruption, is making a living.  When I was in their position, I was making maybe 10k a year and, depending on the vagaries of payments, sometimes 5k, which was good for kid’s shoes and one or two vacations, but not a material input.

Right now the money is in indie.  But more importantly, indie is giving the lie to the things we were told by the blanket control of the gatekeepers.  Turns out that no, space opera isn’t dead.  In fact it’s pushed by some indies as a “get rich quick” scheme.  Turns out mil sf isn’t dead (something Baen had proven, but the blanket-media never mentioned Baen) turns out cozies aren’t dead (the very SILLY Dipped, Stripped and Dead has made me, on re-release more than I made in royalties from it.)

Turns out they lied to us.  Which is what cheap communications and data has been telling us for years.  As someone put it in comments “hottest summer ever” is hard to sell when friends and acquaintances around the world are talking about how late and cold spring was.  And how summer is just meh.

Most people don’t think about politics, or the veracity of gatekeepers, and the Gell-Man amnesia (where you know the media is up its own behind on something you know personally then believe it on other things) is a thing.

But there is this Portuguese proverb “Soft water and hard stone, if the water hits long enough it will make a hole.”  The soft water started as a drip, drip, drip.  The number of occasions the gatekeepers were wrong, or bizarrely wrong, accumulated.  There followed a running flow through the hole, and right now it’s a torrent.

How long did it take for “fake news” to be turned around?

And why did they think they could pull it off?  Because they’ve got away with it for so long. Because it had to work.  It had to.

Just like publishing houses, feeding off the remnants of people who need to be “real” writers are getting them really cheap, and doing nothing for them, because it’s always worked.

I hope they enjoy the glut, because this going on is not the way to bet.  And I hope the media enjoys the few “fake news” it can get in, because not only is that not the way to bet, but it loses them credibility the more they try.

Selling socialism as paradise only works when you control all the means of pushing it at people, from education to mass reporting.

The blanket only works while it’s all pervasive, because even those that see the holes won’t say anything.  After all, everyone knows the world is dark, and warm and smells vaguely of sweat.

Once the blanket is pulled off, you can’t get it on again, because people run in all directions, to all of the known world.

(I wish Sweden luck with their denial of rape-by-refugee, and their newly discovered agreement with China that their citizens forays on the internet must be limited so they don’t hear of such shocking things.  People have cell phones.  Right now they might be afraid to voice unpopular opinions, but the drip drip drip has begun.  It has begun EVERYWHERE.)

Sure the world outside the blanket is confusing, and some of our brethren will willingly crawl back to be smothered.  But they’re, increasingly, a minority.

They’ll never blanket us again.  And the future isn’t with them.

432 thoughts on “Blanketed

  1. I was bitten by politics when I was a wee little girl, and I carry the scars.

    It is a viral infection and for some re-exposure to certain ideas causes the immune system to flare up.

      1. A poultice of lead, charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter works, but the side effects are rather severe.

        1. The new nitro-drugs are more effective, but not as suited to home-remedy type treatment.

  2. The thing is, if the “people in charge” could actually admit that they were capable of getting it wrong and stopped denying the obvious, they might not experience this level of backlash.
    As Nixon learned in the 1970s, the Catholic Church learned in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and Clinton learned in 2016, the cover-up is always more deleterious to the cause than the crime.

      1. Nonsnse. Nixon got it in the neck because he foolishly believed that he could get away with the kind of thing that Democrats did routinely. And the Dmocrats got him because they never forgave him for defeating Helen Gahagan Douglas (who, romantic Lefty mamories aside, was a rather nasty Stalinist bitch). Watergate and the coverup were an excuse, and (frankly) not anvery convincing one.

        But don’t male Nizon out to be a hero of the Right. He was a RINO on everything but opposing Communism, and the Democrats had only openly abandoned that very recently.

        1. But don’t male Nizon out to be a hero of the Right.

          Not sure whether typo or some interesting new variant of “mansplaining”.

          1. Douglas was a lefty, but not a Stalinist. Robert Heinlein knew and admired her. (There’s a person in Take Back Your Government who can’t be anyone else, and RAH was deeply involved in California Democrat politics at the time.) In that book, he talks about how to spot Communists, whom he had already learned to despise; I doubt that he would have been deceived by any crypto-Communist.

            As to Nixon: it’s true that everything he or his henchmen did had been done before. But no one before him had done all of it.

            Incidentally: his election in 1968 was viewed by some elements of the Left with extreme horror. W. H. Von Dreele, the long-time resident doggerelist of National Review, wrote a verse in which a distraught liberal contemplates various forms of suicide.

        2. I agree the Dems were out to get Nixon, especially after he picked up the pieces after the trainwreck that Johnson left in 1968, but I disagree with it being inevitable. If Nixon would have done something along the lines of what Reagan did when Iran-Contra hit, disavowing those miscreants and hanging them out in the wind, the Plumbers would have gone to jail and Nixon would have served out his second term. And the Oval Office tapes would have only come out after everyone was safely out of office like the JFK and Johnson tapes did. Unless they were unfortunately mass-erased on the way to the national archives.
          The only reason the Watergate investigation went anywhere was because of NIxon’s reflexive loyalty to the Plumbers and the resulting coverup.

          1. Nixon would have served out his second term

            And South Vietnam would not have fallen.

            And Jimmy Carter probably would not have been President (although it might have been a different Democrat).

            1. And the 1974 off-year elections would not have increased the Dems’ House majority* above the two-thirds mark, delivered 61 seats in the Senate.

              Which would have avoided many bad decisions and prevented the investment of such “characters” as Henry Waxman, Chris Dodd and Paul Simon (the latter two who would eventually become Senators.)

              *291 – 144

              1. It should be noted that Carter had no, nada, none, zero Supreme Court nominations for which Praise The Lord.

                It ought also be noted that absent Carter there likely is NOT a Department of Indoctrination MisEducation.

        3. Even old liberal film critic Pauline Kael admitted she laughed herself sick when Helen Gahagan came onscreen trying to play Haggard’s She Who Must Be Obeyed.

    1. The “people in charge” are the least able to admit such tom-foolery. Once you admit to a capacity for error all actions become suspect and the lose of confidence turns you into Hamlet.

      See: Matthew 19:24

      1. See also Victor Davis Hanson:

        Is the American Elite Really Elite?
        The public no longer believes that privilege and influence should be predicated on titles, brands, and buzz.
        By Victor Davis Hanson — March 2, 2017

        Establishment furor over the six-week-old Trump administration is growing.

        Outraged New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently compared Trump’s victory to disasters in American history that killed and wounded thousands such as the Pearl Harbor surprise bombing and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

        The New Republic — based on no evidence — theorized that Trump could well be mentally unstable due to the effects of neurosyphilis.

        Talk of removing the new president through impeachment, or opposing everything he does (the progressive “Resistance”), is commonplace. Some op-ed writers and pundits abroad have openly hoped for his violent death.

        Trump is in a virtual war with the mainstream global media, the entrenched so-called deep state, the Democratic-party establishment, progressive activists, and many in the Republican party as well.

        The sometimes undisciplined and loud Trump is certainly not a member of the familiar ruling cadre, which dismisses him as a crude and know-nothing upstart who should never have been elected president. (Had Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and served a full term, a member of either the Bush or Clinton families would have been president for 24 years of a 32-year span.)

        But who, exactly, makes up these disgruntled elite classes?
        [END EXCERPT]

        1. If there was such as thing as being a traitor to Jewishness, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman ought to to qualify since he seems to love to support anti-Israeli politicians; and tear down anyone supporting fair and equal treatment of Jews like Trump does. As for his comparing Trump’s victory to Pearl Harbor, Harold Friedman would probably disown his son.

          Leave it to The New Republic to make an egregious diagnosis. DJT having neurosyphilis? I can’t imagine Trump having any disease that could be easily cured, much less an STD. He can afford the best medical care on the planet and I’m sure he avails himself of it. Trump on script comes across as reasoned and logical. Trump off script comes across as a grasshopper, jumping from one idea to the next and not finishing what he started saying. In my experience with children and adults, that sort of staccato verbalization almost always occurs in extremely intelligent people whose stream of thought is too fast for their mouths to keep up with. By the time they get halfway through what they’re saying, their minds are already on the next topic. But that never occurred to The New Republic article authors, did it?

          1. [T]hat never occurred to The New Republic article authors, did it?

            Where would they have gotten any familiarity with extremely intelligent people? They hung with the “A” students, those who excelled at giving the expected answers. They despised the “C” students, especially those who realized that grades meant squat in the real world and therefore complied with the irrational tyrants of the schoolroom only enough to get by with minimal effort.

            1. “A” students can be intelligent. Sometimes giving the expected answer is the least effort course.

          2. That “extremely intelligent” or at least very high IQ has occurred to me too. He gives the impression of somebody who has a hard time of getting people, and was perhaps not completely socialized as a child because he didn’t have enough similar individuals around him but was almost like a member of somewhat different species, both traits said to be somewhat typical to high IQ individuals. Also the jumping speech.

            1. Trump is plenty socialized. He has the power of schmooze, and uses it at will.. But as a top executive, he can use his native, preferred speech styling whenever he wants. It is the job of people working for him to keep up.

              (And deploying this in a way enjoyable to listeners is also a sort of alpha dominance tool. It feels very clubby and friendly to be expected to be smart enough and insiderish enough to keep up. )

          1. Despite all the many warts it has displayed over the past couple years, National Review remains somewhat heterodox in its conservatism. In recent months even some of their former NeverTrumpers have come around, at least partially. So I think VDH will be fine. It isn’t the conformist echo chamber that The New Republic is.

            1. There is also the consideration that NRO “created” VDH. He was an insignificant professor until they started posting him in the aftermath of 9/11. They have an interest in accommodating him just as he has an interest in accommodating them.

              It is more than a trifle convenient for them to present the appearance of heterodoxy around a basic principle.

          2. Isn’t VDH one of those people Williamsin and his clown car comrades want to die off and purge “pure” conservatism of the populist taint?

  3. the smarter people, the ones who of course, still trusted gatekeepers

    They were recognized as smart because they had been most adroit at accepting the gatekeepers’ version of reality. First Rule of School: always give the expected answer.

    Teacher don’t want the right answer, Teacher wants the answer on the grading sheet.

    Finch: When they want brilliant thinking
    From employees
    Twimble: That is no concern of mine.
    Finch: Suppose a man of genius
    Makes suggestions?
    Twimble: Watch that genius get suggested to resign.

    1. The correct answer. Yeah. Ran into that as an instructor. One of the test questions was “What is latent heat of evaporation?” 4 answers. And one of them was “The amount of heat needed to turn one pound of liquid into one pound of vapor.” The correct answer sheet answer was “The amount of heat needed to turn one pound of water into one pound of steam.” The actual correct answer is the first one, the second in a subset of the correct answer. When I pointed out to the powers that be that the first answer was actually the correct one, I was labeled as a troublemaker and told I was wrong. Because we were teaching steam plants not general engineering, so water into steam was correct. And the test was designed by EXPERTS, specialists in education, and who was I to disagree with EXPERTS? So a student who actually knew more was penalized… Except when I graded. No computer grading at the time. I counted either one as correct. Don’t know if others did the same, never asked.

  4. This has been a long time coming, but hot damn, we’re here and need to adjust to it. We’re more masters of our own info environment than ever I thought I’d live to see. Let us make the most of it.

  5. As $HOUSEMATE puts it, the nature of cheap communications has a very simple result, summed up as (pardon): “The internet is the most powerful bullshit detector ever built.

    Even if Mr. Rather might keep trying to deny it.

      1. True, but you have to watch out for the high rate of false positives. What looks like BS, smells like BS, tastes like BS, may actually be the fertilizer you’re looking for.

  6. And why did they think they could pull it off? Because they’ve got away with it for so long. Because it had to work. It had to.

    Ever see a dysfunctional couple, one where the dominant partner had thoroughly gaslighted the subordinate? Ever see the dominant
    s reactions when the subordinate starts breaking out of the spell, starts not responding as expected to stimuli?

    Probably not in real life — at least, not recognizably — but in movies and TV. But it happens all around us, as kids grow out from under parental influence. The only ways to prevent it are for parents to a) recognize it as inevitable and relinquish the dominance or b) forever infantilize their kids.

    1. You can give your kids all the pieces they need, and a plan, to have successful lives. That doesn’t mean they’ll follow the directions, or use all the pieces, or succeed. Sometimes you have to let them go and watch them fall flat on their faces, multiple times. Nobody ever said being a parent was going to be easy, or painless.

  7. Having paid attention to communication costs from a wee age (family spread out all over North America), I can attest to the cheapness of the modern era. People currently here in Canada are moaning and complaining about high mobile phone costs from the Big Three Telco’s. Data being the big cost. I was at one point paying over $100 a month for phone and data. I have managed to shop around and get a deal now that’s costing me half that.

    Remember “All circuits are busy. Please try your call again later” you would get trying to call family on Christmas holidays? How about timing your long distance phone calls to the cheapest time of the day or week. Business phones having long distance dialing locked out to the lower levels and management needing a legitimate reason why they needed it unlocked for them.

    Now, I am carrying on a long distance relationship through text, e-mail, occassional phone call, and other social media. And it’s NOT COSTING ME EXTRA!

    I can reach out to people across the world with a video program if I wanted to (and have). Less than 30 years ago calling internationally was a nightmare. Now not so much.

    I am not even going to start talking data storage, processing, and what not that I have personally experienced (4 types of typewriters at home). I love this brave new world that hath such wonders in it!

    1. Aye, as recently as the 1990’s if I wanted to communicate to another continent my choices were 1) pay a lot for international telephone service 2) write a letter or 3) high-frequency radio – if conditions were right, if I had the right equipment, and if I had licensing.

      Now? Well, I’m typing here, aren’t I? Or I can go to Skype, or a bunch of other similar services for essentially ‘free’.

      1. In regards to point 3.), strangest “phone call” I ever made is in the summer of 89. Based in Nicosia for peacekeeping and they had a shortwave set up that had to be booked WEEKS in advance, and then chosen by lottery. They would try to time the call to match the recipient time zone. Radio operator would call one of their contacts back in the world, Tell them where to call and the phone number. They would then call collect, explain to the party at the end of the phone proper radio protocol, and then switch the receiving set into a phone cradle. That was a cheap voice setup, limited to ten minutes a person, and only 5 lucky sods got to do it a day. My mom and brothers were tickled pink about the whole thing.

        1. This was essentially my job at two different Army posts. Ham radio audio links in a telephone connection. Both SE Asia to West coast an Europe to East coast. The MARS system supplied voice and teletype links to soldiers by cooperating with amateur-radio volunteers.

        2. The air mail envelopes I remember from the 60s (when Dad was on ships off the coast of Viet Nam doing bombardments) had diagonal red and blue stripes printed around the edge, resulting in red, white, and blue diagonal stripes. There were airmail pads that consisted of onionskin, and the Post Awful sold special air mail stamps.

          On later cruises, we were the high tech family. Dad had picked up a couple of small reel-to-reel tape recorders, so we could actually HEAR each other.

          1. Onionskin paper. That’s what I was thinking off when I wrote rice paper. Stuff looked kind of like erasable bond – was much more familiar with that.

        3. Meanwhile, come 200#, my brother is babysitting some SEALS and has set up their phone equipment– and the guy in charge tells him to test it.

          So my mom is riding along a ridge in Washington State, following a bunch of cows, and gets an odd number on her cellphone….


        4. Sometimes there were way around “the system”. When I was a young naval officer in the early 70’s, I was stationed at Navsta Rota, Spain. At the same time, my twin brother was turning circles on the USS Kitty Hawk on Yankee Station. Rota’s naval communication station (which had worldwide comm capability) had a nice little service: you could go to their offices and send a Western Union night letter (25 words? Not sure now) for $4. The comm station collected the money and sent the telegram to the Naval Communications station in Washington, DC, where it was put into the Western Union system.

          So one day I decided to send one of these Night Letters to my brother on the Kitty Hawk. I filled out the form and handed it and $4 over to the petty officer on duty. He looked at it and said, “I can’t charge you for this”. “Why not”, says I. He said, “Because it isn’t going through Western Union, we will send it directly to the ship”. “Cool, says I” and told him to go ahead. Free telegrams! Worked like a champ. Except it went as official traffic and my telegrams to him went to his department’s office along with all the other offical message traffic – and vice versa for his responses to me. So we would go up to our department office and scroll through all the message traffic, initializing each message as read, including the ones to and from each of us. Along with every other officer who had to read and initialize the messages! We did at least try to use good military terminology…”UNODIR, get me the Sansui reverb amp in Yokuska…” (UNODIR – unless otherwise directed…)

            1. I had trouble understanding “The Purloined Letter” by Poe because as a kid I’d never heard of that.

          1. I’d forgotten. Never used one, but can close my eyes and see it. A sheet with sort of box-type corners that folded into the back of the envelope, right? And the envelopes had diagonal red hashes around the front edge and a sort of light blueish tint?

            Just remembered receiving a Western Union Mailgram. I looked it up to see it I mis-remembered, but yep, there was such a thing. By the date, I received mine soon after it was put into operation. It was novel enough that a family friend sent it to me for my birthday. The noteworthy thing is that is the closest I’ve come to seeing an honest to goodness telegram. Even then they were practically a thing of the past.

            1. I have a good few of those – from older relatives who wrote to me when I was stationed overseas. Very thin blue paper, folded up and flaps turned over and glued – yes, formed the letter and envelope all in one.

          2. Sheesh. Am I allowed to feel old for the next 10 minutes?
            8 inch floppy disks.
            8 track tapes.
            Party-lines on telephones.
            Comic books for 5 cents.
            Paperbacks for under a dollar.

            1. I have, so help me, a box of 8-inch floppies… still in the plastic/shrink-wrap. And my first exposure to Fats Domino (and also Black Sabbath…) was on 8-track. Only experienced party line for a few weeks – we moved and had one of the local telco’s last party lines as they upgraded things, it seems.

              1. Records, 33 1/3, 45, and 78s. Reel-to-reel tape recorders for sermons. 8-tracks with those plexiglass displays with the hole in the middle where you could examine a tape but not remove it. Party lines well into the 1980s. Remembered those warnings on answering machines “Not for use on party lines.” 8″ floppies were uptown compared to punch cards and cassette storage that was essentially a modem hooked to a tape recorder. Have seen 6-Cent Coca-Cola machines,and remember when we had 15 cents for break – 10 cents for soft drink and a nickel for a pack of crackers.

                Also remember cigarette vending machines. They eventually had “Not for sale to minors” stickers, but the things never did check ID . . .

                1. Had at least one record player that had a 16 rpm option for “talking books.” ‘Kansas City Standard’ for computer cassette tape. And I saw at least one cigarette vending machine well into the 1980’s.

            2. I wonder about those nickel comic books, as I remember the shock of them going from a dime to twelve cents, and am fairly confident they were a dime as far back as the Forties. Of course, in the Forties a comic book provided seventy-two pages of story and by the early Sixties they were down to about twenty.

      2. Hmm. It’s never occurred to me to ask the location of the pasture where the ox is based. I guess I just kind of assume that everyone on this site, with a few exceptions, is somewhere in the Denver-metro area, just dropping by for coffee and arguments at our favorite hangout.

        1. It’s virtual Denver, with no air pollution, lots of parking, no traffic jams, enormous swaths of greenspace, and plenty of water for the minion pool, water garden, and other sections of HunQuarters. And the snow never falls on paved surfaces unless you weren’t planning on using them anyway that day.

        2. I would say Georgia, but I’m a truck driver. Five weeks out of six, draw a line from Oshkosh to Laredo, cut out the map east of it, hang it on the wall, and toss a dart.

        3. I did live in the greater Denver metro area for several years. I had no acquaintance with our hostesses’ work at that time, though. Now I’m back near my hometown.

          1. I grew up in Loveland but didn’t learn about Sarah’s books until we’d moved out of state twice.

        4. The place has non-Euclidean architecture. So we are somewhere nearby if you use the right door.

          Don’t blame me if the wrong door lands you somewhere with blue foliage.

            1. It’s definitely not that wardrobe over there. That one is more like a door into winter (and never Christmas!).

              1. My parent’s cat is currently whining at Mom to please turn that yucky snow off, thank you very much, and turn the sunlight back on so the cat can get back to napping on the patio. She finds it most annoying that the humans are not responding to this polite request and may have to take more drastic action soon.

                1. Our cat Imp loved being under a big old pine that stood a few yards away from our front porch. Whenever we had had a snow he would go out the door across the porch and stand there a moment in disgust. He then would gingerly leave the porch to check what the footing would be. If there was a cap of ice and he didn’t sink it wasn’t so bad. If he sank down to his tummy he let us know we were unappreciated for letting such an indignity happen.

            2. Up the winding stair to the seventh floor, and take the door with the roses in full bloom.

              Remember that the door rotate with seasons.

              1. There does seem to be an appalling abundance of people who ought know the taste of Skyline Chili.

                1. Or at least Cincinnati style chili in general. I like both Skyline and Gold Star, but I’ve been told that Dixie Chili is better, even though I have yet to get there, and Mount Washington chili is definitely good. Empress chili, on the other hand, was not a good experience for me.

        5. Upstate NY here. Never been further west than Mississippi. 🙂

          (I’ve also never knowingly shared a continent with the friend who introduced me. Geography is weird.)

          1. I had never crossed the Mississippi River when we took The Youngest Brother-In-Law down to New Orleans when he started at Tulane. The Spouse indulgently made sure we crossed over Mississippi while there.

            1. And here I’ve crossed it many times, but then visiting folks in the Twin Cities it just happens. It did take a bit to realize (when younger) that while the MN-WI border fairly far south is the Mississippi, just east of the Cities it’s the St. Croix. I have not, however, gone far enough north to where I could step or jump across the Mississippi.

              1. I have in subsequent years been west of the Mississippi several times, including a road trip to Albuquerque during which The Daughter aptly dubbed the southern Great Plains ‘miles and miles of miles and miles.’

        6. We are all over the North America and on a few other continents as well.

          The Piedmont of NC here.

        7. New Hampshire, The Granite State.
          Probably fitting as half the people I know think I have rocks in my head while the other half think I am a Rock.
          Formerly from Upstate New York, but thankfully I managed to escape.

              1. For several years, the only time I heard of Danville was when my mother would talk about the orders she was processing from some customer there (she worked in a G.E. Lamp division warehouse, processing orders to be filled by the guys who worked out in the warehouse proper). I also never understood what she meant when she talked about her Target orders until many years later, when I first learned that Target was a store chain.

                Why yes, I WAS very unaware of much of the world outside a 20 mile radius when I was growing up, why do you ask?

                1. I was “a little better off” in that area.

                  My parents had moved to Danville just before I was born (Mom was pregnant with me) so I grew up knowing that a trip to their parents meant a “long ride in the car”.

                  Oh, Mom’s parents lived in the Terre Haute Indiana area and Dad’s parents lived in Vincennes Indiana. 😉

                  1. My overall development seemed to be behind everyone else. I had been to California (stopping at several tourist points along the way, such as the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, and a couple more), Florida, Niagara Falls, Gatlinburg, Mammoth Cave, some resort in South Carolina that I can’t remember the name of, and several locations in rural Kentucky that I never even learned the names of. But they were just points to me. We went to them on vacation, but I really never appreciated the scope of where I had been until much later.

      3. I recall a major kerfuffle at Relatively Large Semiconductor Company (now gone) back in the 90’s when someone was making very long (hours long) intercontinental phone calls from Silicon Valley back to India several times a week using the phone in someone else’s cube in the Engineering area. First they accosted the cube inmate, who said “I’m not even here at that hour,” which answer was supported by the ID-badge swipe records; then they went through that badge system data to try and see who was still on site at the time of the calls, but there were too many employees who exited through the front lobby, or tailgated out the side doors without running their badge through the reader, to generate a short enough suspect list; then they had the security folks try to sneak around and catch the phone caller in the act, which didn’t work. This comedy continued for several weeks until the word leaked sufficiently throughout the company, and the phone caller vanished. If I recall correctly the bill was in the thousands.

        Compare and contrast to now, where even setting aside VOIP via the internet, one can buy international plans covering just about everywhere quite cheaply.

        1. A smarter employer would call the number back.

          “Hello, Mrs. Chatterji? This is Human Resources at XXX Corp, and we’re trying to verify some information in Rajesh’s file. What? Well, whose number is this? Do you know someone working in America? Who? Oh. I’m sorry to have bothered you…”

          1. HR was (stereotypically) not that smart, but there were plenty of bright Indian engineers and managers that could have likely called in some favors from various cousins working at the Indian phone company, but as a rule they turned out to be disinclined to get a fellow countryman in trouble.

        2. In 1989 I went to Hamburg Germany to give a talk at a Digital Equipment Users Society (DECUS) meeting. I dutifull called my wife for a (timed) 3 minutes every other day for ~10 minutes. I was charged 195 Deutchesmark ~$110 US. I ended up eating that probably 10% plus of what I earned in a week as a senior software engineer. This fall my younger daughter went to Melbourne Australia for a 7 week term. We talked for ~10-15 minutes most days via Skype or similar (facebook messenger). Total cost $0 using local wifi on her cell. I wish governments luck (NOT) controlling information in a world like that :-).

        3. Unless they caught it quickly, the bill was probably in the several thousands or more. I worked with a guy from India in the 90s, and he told me that calling home was nearly $2 a minute.

          1. In the unlabeled collection of some Canadian singer-comedian I once happened across was a tune that I presume was about a member of the British royal family or at least someone from a very well-to-do family, studying in Canada (early-mid 1970’s?). It begins:

            Dear Mama, Dear Papa,
            I am writing, because it’s awfully expensive to phone.
            I can hardly begin it, at two bucks a minute,
            Before I hear daddy groan.

            1. Some had a tradition of calling themselves person to person when they arrived at their destination. Not being there they couldn’t accept the call, of course, and were not charged. That there was a person to person call conveyed the message “Hey, I got here okay.”

        4. Yeah, now at work I routinely video conference with people on the other side of the world. It’s still odd to look over their shoulder and see sunlight outside when it’s the middle of the night here or vice-versa.

    2. Remember “All circuits are busy. Please try your call again later”

      Green Acres is the place to be.
      Farm livin’ is the life for me.
      Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
      Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

      Anybody ever notice we’ve never seen Mr. Haney and Bill Clinton in the same room?

      1. > all circuits are busy

        I get that on the cell phone about once a month, usually between 1600 and 2100 during rush hour.

      2. And the phone up on the pole as the wires wouldn’t reach to the house, in the show. When the family moved from one place to another in 1979 the big outdoor TV antenna came along, as did the rotator assembly. But the cabling wasn’t long enough and for a few days the control box was up on a ladder, protected from rain by plastic sheeting. Adjusting was either very trial and error, or a two person operation. There was much relief a few days later with more control cable.

        1. When the family moved from one place to another in 1979 the big outdoor TV antenna came along, as did the rotator assembly.

          When we moved into a house in the country back, oh, I would have been in fifth grade so this would have been in 73 or 74, my stepfather put up a Yagi antenna for TV above the back patio with a rotator. Later, he put a 70′ tower up next to the house. Did the TV antenna get put up there? Nope. That was for his ham radio gear. 😉

          1. I knew one ham who put up a tower, rotator, antenna, and left it purposely unconnected for a while, moving the antenna from the time to time. The idea was to get the neighbors used to it without it being possible for any interference to be from it.

    3. I can remember in the 1970s having to take a roll of quarters down to the phone room and wait for a payphone to become available before I could call home from college.

      When I was on the submarine, we were provided with either 3 or 5, I can’t remember, message forms to give to our families, girlfriends, etc., to use while we were on patrol. Each one let them send a message of 100 characters or thereabouts. We had no way of communicating back.

      1. Familygrams were 40 words in my day. I got a 42 word one once. Squadron added the two words, so it wasn’t truncated. My wife got a call wanting to know who Sam was and what relationship I had with Sam so they could send out a personal for to the CO so he could break the news to me. So in the middle of the familygram it said “Sam, the cat, died.” Without “the cat” I’d have not gotten the familygram.

      2. Interrail trip in Europe during the early 80’s. I visited Wales and decided to call home. I didn’t have enough money to pay the call myself, but hey, mom would be happy to take a collect call to have news of me.

        One of those nice red phone booths you now see mostly only in pictures. I spoke good enough English to have no problems with the operator, up to the point when she needed to know where I was.

        Betws-y-coed. I spoke English, not Welsh. And I couldn’t spell in English all that well.

        So much for that idea.

  8. today, getting a call at 2am is cause for panic (wo got hurt, who died?), but back in the day, 2am phone call was you sister calling you just to say hi.

    1. Huh. I would say it was the other way round.

      Back in the day, if the phone rang in our house after 9:00 /10:00 pm, it was an emergency. Exception being for the folks out west who forgot the 2 or 3 hour time difference. People didn’t just ring someone up that late, it wasn’t civilized. (At least that is what I was told adnausem by Mom when my friends called after 9:00)

      Today the phone is like as not to ring at 10:30 and it be family or friends just checking in. (and now I’m thinking that Mom was right. I’m looking for my pillow and blanket around then and the phone ringing spooks me.)

      1. nah.. you call when the is an emergency, so at 2am, when most people are in bed, and you get a call……..
        back in the day, their were regular phone rates, and cheeper rates at night (for long distance), so a call back then, at 2 am was when people could afford to sit and chat

        1. That’s the way it was in my family.

          Well, still is for that matter. 😉

      2. (At least that is what I was told adnausem by Mom when my friends called after 9:00)

        Momma had the same opinion. Must have read the same parenting training manual.

        Momma was farmed out to a grandfather when her parents were serving in the Navy during WWII. He lived in a house with a party line. She still operated under the rule: Never ever say anything on the phone that you didn’t mind being broadcast to the world. This, it turns out, may not be such a bad rule for the days of the cell phone.

          1. They may not mind if I hear what they are saying, but I have grown mighty tired of it.

  9. I was kind of lucky in this regard. My dad was a newspaper reporter and editor for 32 years, so I learned very early that if you had actual knowledge of the events in some reported story, the story was invariably inaccurate. It wasn’t a big jump to realizing that none of the stories were particularly accurate. Couple that with the innate PA Dutch stubbornness and skepticism and I got into the habit very early of not believing anything I was told without corroborating evidence (and only believing about half of what I said without similar evidence, which I think is the sort of self-reflection we all need).

    1. Ma worked nights at a hospital for some years. Many was the time Something Happened, but it failed to make the paper. Funny how if a drunk hits the traffic light pole it’s big news in a small town… unless said drunk is the mayor’s son. And that was but one example.

      1. True, but what you couldn’t find out in the paper would be told in the barber shop. And let us not forget the time dishonored technique of putting someone on a prayer list, with all the juicy details of why.

        1. Didn’t get to either of those to any degree. But there was one hardware (and other things) store in town [not my current town] that made the claim, “If we haven’t got it, you don’t need it.” and they were almost right. This was the actual ‘news’ exchange in town. It has been such that there is a strange result. The store closed several years ago now, but the building is still there, mostly unused, but a few hours each weekday morning some old timers still gather there to chat about various things.

          1. But there was one hardware (and other things) store in town [not my current town] that made the claim, “If we haven’t got it, you don’t need it.” and they were almost right.

            That’s funny, because there is an auto salvage yard in the area that runs a radio ad where the imaginary competition makes the claim, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it”, and the ad consists of the narrator talking about the store in between clips of a supposed conversation between the other store and a customer, who is eventually told that he doesn’t need the part he asked for, “because we can’t find it”.

    2. so I learned very early that if you had actual knowledge of the events in some reported story, the story was invariably inaccurate.

      Gell Mann Amnesia: the tendency some people have of seeing a story in the news of which they have personal knowledge is invariably inaccurate but the next story, of which they don’t have personal knowledge, the assume is accurate.

              1. Yeah Bill Nye can be compared to horse parts, but not the ones that go “neigh”.

          1. Why yes! For some things his mental aquity is neigh on knee high to a grasshopper’s.

      1. The thing is, the level of inaccuracy varies– from “gads, these added-for-color details are just painfully wrong” to “gee, spot the gaping holes where they left out important details that totally change things” through “They got all their information from activists against something related” and “that’s not even wrong, it’s just off the wall.”

        If people consider it a source of information, rather than holy script and delivered knowledge, it can work just fine. Especially if you start to get a feel for how different techniques twist things– obvious stuff like activist sites about things you know fairly well, that you don’t agree with, trying to figure out where they’re accurate, are a good start.

    1. Most people don’t think about politics, or the veracity of gatekeepers

      The cats are out from under the blanket, and good luck getting them back. Not sure where I read this, but someone mentioned how Trump’s address to Congress had the MSM by the short hairs because they had to broadcast it without any filters.

      For people who only get their information from MSM (tv, radio, newspaper), that speech was a revelation. Trump sounded normal, sane and presidential; he was hitting all of the normal buttons that people are used to (school, crime, jobs) with his own twist and he didn’t sound crazy.

      For some people, that’s enough to tear off the blanket completely; for others, that night eroded the fabric of the blanket. It might still be there, but is a bit thinner.

    2. I’m not sure about government-sanctioned force, but I think they’re already trying to do so by other means. In the mass communication services, under the guise of “fighting racism” or “cleaning up offensive remarks.” What else is censorship on Twitter and FaceBook really intended to do, but to slow the spread of anti-establishment news and memes and sentiment? Yes, alternatives are emerging, but the network effect may tend to depress adoption, or merely result in them becoming a means of preaching to the choir, so to speak, as those not already against the establishment remain in the current leading services.

      And most of the education part of the establishment is trying to stay the course and suppress dissent, but they’re starting to get a bit more pushback than before.

      1. Perhaps, but “build over, under, around” is also happening. As Twitter increasingly self-edits itself perhaps into irrelevance or self-parody, stands ready to take in those cast out or fed up. The blanket is porous.

        1. I’ve got two concerns with the alternatives that are being created. One is that, as I say, unless a critical mass migrates to the alternative and it becomes a “new standard” then network effect will leave the “old standard” in place with most of the moderates/undecided/mushy middle still there and receiving input/influence only from the Left. The second is that the establishment and Left activists will find a way to silence the alternatives. Boycott threats against advertisers, discriminatory regulations (or application of them, anyhow), etc. This doesn’t mean that I think alternatives shouldn’t be created or that they’re not potentially valuable, but rather that in and of themselves they’re not a silver bullet.

      2. Let’s ask Milo, or the Trump supporters beaten up by hired thugs, whether force is being deployed, shall we?

        1. Fake news, and besides, it’s okay to use force to protect against Hate Speech and besides, they were askin’ for it.

        1. Like this? “Obama’s goal is to oust Trump from the presidency either by forcing his resignation or through his impeachment, a family friend tells” (google for “Obama-confidante-Valerie-Jarrett-moves-Kaloroma-home”)

          Myself, I thought that fit the definition of treason (“the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government“), considering that Trump has been legitimately elected to the office of President and is outr head of government, but what do I know?

          1. There is a small, but slowly increasing, group of Americans who believe that the actions we’re seeing from the left should be watched very closely and checked against the legal definition of treason, and if found to meet the definition charges should be brought swiftly.

            1. The Democrats have certainly gone well past the point of sedition, especially with this nonsensical Russian witch-hunt. I mean, JEFF SESSIONS as a Russian agent? Chto yebat?

              1. I have observed politics in the US since Nixon/McGovern and cannot recall a time when Democrats’ attacks on Republicans had to be credible or even rational. It simply doesn’t matter, the MSM will chase their rabbits for them even when the rabbits look like Bugs.

          2. Er, he is aware that Trump resigning/being impeached won’t make Hillary or any other Democrat president, right? It goes Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Orrin Hatch, then all of the cabinet members (currently Trump’s nominees).

            I know Sally Kohn is somewhat vague on this point, but I would have thought that our “constitutional law professor” ex-president would understand it.

            1. Note to Democrats: the last time a president was impeached . . . he served out his term.

              1. You’d think they’d remember that, given that both of the impeached presidents were Democrats…then again, there’s nothing Democrats like discussing less than their own history.

                (Joking aside, though, I really don’t mind people using “impeached” as a shorthand for “impeached by the house, convicted by the Senate, and removed from office.” The whole thing is a bit of a mouthful.)

            2. What is this “Constitution” that you speak of so lovingly? I don’t know where you get your *facts*, but everyone *knows* that Obama or Hillary would take over if Trump was forced out of office. /sarc

            3. No more or less plausible than any other plan they seem to be trying. Plus it means we have 4 years of coasting vs trying to avoid the jersey barrier

            4. Hillary Clinton made some fairly bizarre comments about Constitutional law over the years. Either she’s completely ignorant of the contents of the document or chooses to ignore it.

              I’d imagine most of her party is in a similar boat.

            5. Rumor over in Ace’s comments section is that now that Sessions has been hit, either Mattis or Pence is next on the list.

              Hopefully Sessions’s announcement that he’s recusing himself won’t have any long-term negative repercussions.

              1. I’m kind of hoping Sessions finds a big pile of dirt on some of the conspiracy kooks. But I then I also want the announcement to be done in 1970’s TV ad style:
                Sessions presents…

              2. Pence. it was all over the radio news this morning. He used his private email as governor of Indiana AND he met once with a Russian government employee………

                1. Thing is, I think what we’re seeing is the law of diminishing returns. Flynn got the axe because A. he had extensive contacts with Russia, B. was also not entirely truthful with the rest of the team, and C. got little to no backing from the rest of the team, because he did not have a good reputation in circles where he should have.
                  Sessions, OTOH–this recusal is as much as the Democrats are getting. The contacts were well within Sessions’ normal purview, and coming from the party of “it depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is, the accusations of perjury ring mighty hollow.
                  This thing about Pence is a literal nothingburger.

                  1. The recusal is also good for building trust– in Catholic circles, it’d be called avoiding causing scandal; basically, don’t set people up to think poorly of you in serious matters, even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, unless there’s a very good reason.

                    It doesn’t hurt anything (that I know of) for him to go “Sure, it would be bad if the accusation was false, so I’ll pretend it is false while anybody’s doing an investigation”– and it makes the jerks look bad next time they refuse to distance themselves when they ARE guilty. 😀

            6. Seriously, I’m starting to wonder if Trump’s picks aren’t at least half to build himself a brier patch, at least from where the conservative side stands.
              “Oh, Br’er bear, please don’t impeach president Trump and throw us in the brier patch!!”

          3. Not disagreeing with you in general, but the US has a rather stricter definition of treason, probably due to the fact that the founders were all guilty of treason against the crown. Not that I view these actions materially different then treason.

            1. Actually treason law in the constitution does not have to do with the founder’s treason against the crown. It is word for word from the english statues. They are as they are because of the treason involved with the struggles between the crown and parliament.

            2. Actually, the US reverted back, pretty much, to the medieval English definition of treason. Henry VIII cranked the definition much larger.

    3. They’ll try finesse until there aren’t enough left to rebel to the application of force.

    4. I’m thinking the most effective way to do that would be to turn off the Internet.

      Which would cause so many other problems that …well, only a Leftist would try it.

      1. No, they won’t turn it off. But they will censor and throttle it. Scott Adams is running into that problem with Twitter.

  10. “They sold because they were the only thing available.”
    Up until about ten years ago every two bit strip mall had a small storefront advertising Used Books. It wasn’t ever that people stopped reading, they just quit reading the new crap being forced on them.
    Then came two developments, books in electronic format with easy to use readers to display them, and a clear inexpensive path to self publication. I still remember the time when indie and vanity were for the most part synonymous. Vestiges of that still hang on today, though becoming thinner by the year as quality writers increasingly decide to stop being treated as serfs and peons and take control of their work.

    1. A used book store is the only bookstore in my city. Of 160,000 people.

      Drives me bonkers (I miss Borders—or what Borders used to be before it was run into the ground by the idiots in charge), but that’s where it’s gone.

      1. Loved that place. The one in Metaire was two stories.
        Right at the time they forced me to get an Amazon account to order books from them was when the downhill . . . slide is, too, mild, plummet started. Music got harder to deal with, the store floor model changed, monthly it seemed, and then, and then and then . . .

        1. I had some friends who stayed with them as the true slide began (though there were definite signs before.) It was a case of the folks in charge not understanding that a bookstore is not a grocery store, and that they cannot scale nationally.

    2. In my experience used book stores were a sign of healthy cultural life and poor real estate values in a community. They were usually not in the best locations and/or the best-kept buildings. If they were on the main drag, you were probably in a recession.

  11. part of what brought down the soviet union was… typewriter

    I would have thought the Photocopier more than the Typewriter.

    1. Typewriter, and not photocopier as such, but there were small smugglable mimeograph type machines.

      I once knew a fellow who always wore long sleeved shirts, no matter the weather. That was to keep others at ease. It seems the Chinese Communist government really disliked that he made shortwave radios that worked.

    2. Before photocopiers were commonly available. Mimeograph machines, but those were very tightly controlled, bulky, and needed special chemicals.
      As I recall you had to have a license for a typewriter, but illegal ones, especially those small travel models, weren’t all that hard to smuggle in and ribbons were the main consumable and those could be reinked. And of course carbon paper so you could generate half a dozen copies at a throw.

      1. Typewriters also had the virtue of being cheap enough to discard/destroy if heat starting coming down. Plus, because they were present in all bureaucratic centers they could be used without rousing much suspicion, much the same way as office workers clicking away from an “inappropriate for work” tab.

        People also have largely forgotten how fast a competent typist could be.

    3. Photocopiers wre expensive and often had logs. The history of Samizdat is fascinating, and so far as I know it is still being largely ignored in publishing. But it’s out there on the ‘net. Take an afternoon and poke around; neat stuff.

      1. In the Soviet bloc, every photocopier was kept in a locked room. The local political officer had the key. If one wanted to make copies, one had to submit a form to the commissar listing the document to be copied and how many copies to be made. The commissar was held responsible if any extra copies were made.

  12. I think the “blanket” metaphor is … inadequate, or at best only partially adequate. Extend it, instead, to a blanket of fog, a circumstance in which only the most present stimuli are clearly perceived, and the Establishment is certainly the most present.

    Objects at a distance are easily distorted, dimly seen and barely heard. While the fog may partially lift in places, allowing greater visibility, it quickly restores itself rendering all indistinct. Should the fog suddenly dissipate, exposing all in a sun-bright glare, the eye recoils.

    For too many the heart demands we put up the mask and dance on.

    N.B. – if vid link is not accurate, slide to approx. 44:00

  13. I’ve come to the conclusion that to understand the socialist bent in America, we have to go back to it’s first rumblings and factor in the Great Depression and World War II. I think it was the assumption that capitalism had failed, and if anyone argued there had been panics before, they would have gestured and said “Look around you.” Even if it wasn’t full-blown, red flag, communism, there was the idea of just a smidgen of socialism would help. World War II left us with the idea that we could do something similar with our economy and social structure, or at least I think it did. Maybe it was a heavy dose of urbanism (and the Great Depression seemed to have hit cities harder in terms of hunger). But my point is that if you didn’t look behind the curtain, it would seem like the wave of the future. It did look like the USSR was on to something, and Ol’ Joe left a US delegation impressed – except for one fellow who noticed the cracks.

    I don’t think it was so much admitting that it was all a lie that had people in the US clinging to the old notions, because that implies a realization that they were wrong. While that happens, I think it’s more of shielding oneself that something they’ve devoted a good bit of their lives too just didn’t work. It’s not so much not wanting to admit it to others as it is not wanting to admit it to themselves.

    Never noticed this idea of trust in authority. Of course, authority meant the likes of the revenuers, and they weren’t exactly popular. Did see more of the attitude that you parrot it back to them so they go and annoy someone else. My introduction to the word propaganda was from my mother, used it to describe a news story. There was a sense that they were all corrupt to varying degrees. Some of the things said about Roosevelt and Eleanor doesn’t seem to have made it into the history books, and that was by people who voted for him.

    Letters did serve pretty well for disseminating information, simply because that’s the best we had, and when that’s the case it wasn’t considered arduous to “take pen in hand” as the old folks used to say. It did after easy calling, and that predated drop in prices. Yet there was a realization then that it wasn’t as secure. The Kingfish had something that went “Never say over the phone what you can say face to face; never speak what you can say with a nod; never nod what you can say with a wink, and never wink what you can say with a smile.” Letters were seen as more secure. That idea of telephones as insecure communication unfortunately went away with the party line. And I for one regret that encrypted e-mail never caught on.

    I have mixed feelings about the break up of the telephone companies. Lower prices, but I was front and center of an issue where we needed data circuits connected and there was a p*ssing match between different companies of who was supposed to jack down wires on two terminal blocks less than a foot apart. We went microwave and told them to pound sand.

        1. I asked my parents what they did with their letters. Yes, they saved them, but unfortunately they fell victim to mice. My mother used to say they were so sweet the mice probably died.

    1. On the FDR front, two comments. First: There have been a number of books of late critical of FDR, telling of his conflicts with various figures (Ford, Lindbergh, etc.), that are starting to get some of the truth out. FDR’s propaganda tools were quite effective at smearing any figure who disagreed with him or threatened his agenda.

      Second: At least half of what President Trump went on about in his speech Tuesday would not sound too far out of place if the words had come from FDR.

      1. There is a reason for the old rule about nothing being History until it is fifty years in the past — and why we probably need to lengthen that span, not abbreviate it, as people’s active lives become longer.

        Nearly nobody today cares about FDR. I doubt 75% of Americans could tell you anything at all significant about him beyond trivial catch phrases as “He got us out of the Depression” (from many people who could not give you a coherent paragraph on what the Depression was, much less on its causes and cures) and “He won WWII” (without any insight into how he got us into that war or even, withing a decade of when that war occurred. Heck, I suspect a quarter of the populace couldn’t tell you the Nazis were German.)

        So it is okay for the truth about FDR to come out — the only people paying attention are a small coterie of professional whitewashers historians and nuts.

      2. This was something different. It’s the idea that everyone thought FDR was the greatest thing since grits. There seems to have been a lot of hold-your-nose sentiment in voting for FDR.

        1. The Republicans were running some pretty lame tickets during the FDR and Truman eras. The only reason they got Eisenhower was because he switched parties. Nixon in 1960 was the first real contender they had since Hoover

        2. An old political cartoon. Seen from the outside of the house, in the background a little girl is running in the front door, the caption indicates that she is saying, ‘Mom! Johnny just wrote a bad word!’ In the foreground is a boy with a piece of chalk and the side walk below him reads, ‘Roosevelt .’

          1. There was a “joke” in Time Magazine during WW2 (no I’m not that old) that basically had a Japanese Soldier shouting “To Hell with Roosevelt” with the punch line of the American Soldier saying “Of course I couldn’t shoot another Republican”. 😉

    2. I’d roll it back to WWI and the Progressives. Everything worked so well with government taking over so many industries and pushing people to eat less food, buy bonds, and all work together (the Five-Minute Men, Secret Service, and Sedition Laws notwithstanding) that it stayed prominent in the minds of a lot of the technocratically inclined. If you read the USDA Yearbooks from the 1920s, it is all about government intervention, efficiency, and (IIRC) in 1928 tens of thousands of words about how to relocate people from “marginal” lands so that the natural resources could be used more efficiently. Fast-forward to 1936 and you get the same people, now in charge of the AAA and the relocation programs, the SCS, and a whole lot of other Three-Letter-Agencies.

    3. Never noticed this idea of trust in authority.

      One of the nastiest insults I’ve heard was someone describing a particular farmer as, “A guy that should listen to the County Agent.”

    4. Actually it all goes back the progressives. It was they who undid the constitution by introducing the idea of the living constitution. That is why supreme court caved to FDR because half its members were progressives.

      1. Devotees of the vintage Britcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin will recall that whenever his MIL was mentioned the picture would switch briefly from Reggie’s face to a shot of a hippopotamus.

        Similarly, whenever I read or hear reference to “The Living Constitution” what comes to my mind is:

        The Constitution is a contract — most professors who argue for it being alive would howl in outrage were their tenure contracts similarly deemed living.

          1. As Fate would have it, Glenn Reynolds entertains similar musings:

            A ‘living Constitution’ on the right?
            With Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings coming up, we’re beginning to hear the usual tired attacks on “original understanding” approaches to interpreting the Constitution. One such attack, written by Prof. Richard Lempert and published by Brookings, drew a harsh rejoinder by Prof. Randy Barnett, who characterized it as “out of touch.”

            But Barnett made another point that’s worth thinking about here: What if right-leaning jurists listened to their critics on the left, and adopted a “living Constitution” approach instead of relying on what the Framers understood the text to mean? As Barnett asks: “Why would you possibly want a nonoriginalist ‘living constitutionalist’ conservative judge or justice who can bend the meaning of the text to make it evolve to conform to conservative political principles and ends? However much you disagree with it, wouldn’t you rather a conservative justice consider himself constrained by the text of the Constitution like, say, the Emoluments Clause?”

            This got me thinking. According to that early living constitutionalist, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, the life of the law has not been logic, but experience. So what would a “living Constitution” approach from the right, based less on logic than experience, look like?
            [END EXCERPT]

      2. IIRC, the Supreme Court FDR inherited had 4 conservatives, 2 swing votes, and 3 liberals*. On “Black Monday” 1935 several unanimous and near-unanimous rulings went against the FDR administration, the court packing plan was rolled out. The plan fell apart in 1937, and the court softened its stance somewhat, though only somewhat. Then the conservative justices starting dying and retiring, at a rate of about one per year, until a majority of the court was appointed by FDR.

        * For certain values of the terms. Judicial philosophy and political ideology did not always quite align.

  14. “Cone of silence” is an apt metaphor: that thing never worked right either.

  15. While we’re on the subject of how technical advances will change society, let me ask: what are good things to invest in then? I ask for the practical reason that I need to make some investment decisions this month. I’ve already decided on cardboard boxes and shipping and amazon for e commerce; video game studios and Disney for entertainment; and industrial automation and drones for advanced industrial era tech. What am I missing? New space? Biotech? Data storage or analysis? Travel? Education/training?sporting goods?

    1. I’d go soft on disney. I think indie hits there next. I’d softish Amazon, too. They’re probably going to get real competition in five years or so.
      Transport. Anything innovative in education, but not the old dinosaurs.
      The problem is that we’re in for a great convulsion in which a LOT of things won’t be safe. Also that I’m lousy at this. I’m good at long term trends, not at immediate stuff. I’d short travel, too. I think we’re in for war. Um… defense? Guns?

        1. Hmm. You know, I’ll admit that I don’t see the point in Disney remaking its animated movies as live action films, and I really don’t see the point in doing it for Beauty and the Beast, which seemed to me to be one of the great achievements in animation. Thus, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to see it anyway. But I REALLY don’t see the point in making LeFou gay. What does it do for the story to take LeFou’s implicit man-crush and make it explicit? Who cares, other than those who want to virtue-signal?

          1. What does it do for the story to take LeFou’s implicit man-crush and make it explicit?

            The erotic dimension would actually make his man-crush creepy.
            Think of the “No one _____like Gaston” song – that’s some fulsome praise, which is one thing to hear from a friend who is trying to cheer you up and restore your crushed confidence, but another thing entirely to hear from someone who wants into your bed.

            1. It is part of the progressive elimination of relationships that are without any sexual component. It converts hero-worship into something utterly unwholesome, and Gaston’s treatment of LeFou becomes more than ordinary mindlessness.

              1. Hollywood movies already seem to have eliminated the possibility of opposite-sex friendships that don’t have a romantic component. If they decide to do the same to same-sex friendships, that would be pretty sad.

                1. Well, you knew there was something going on between Butch and Sundance, and the sexual tension between Rick Blaine and Captain Renault could be cut with a knife. I am sure that the remake will reveal that to be the real reason he sent Ilsa off with Victor Laszlo.

                  It gives a whole new frisson of insight into the film’s last line: “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

                  It says altogether too much about Hollywood culture that they cannot conceive of a relationship in which nobody is getting screwed.

                2. They did that YEARS ago– didn’t you know that Marcie is in love with Peppermint Patty, who is OBVIOUSLY a lesbian?

                  Also, it’s obvious that Velma is also a lesbian.

                  Because anybody who isn’t CONSTANTLY hitting on the opposite sex and/or very obviously sexual in their dress, and has any sort of friendship with someone of the same sex, is homosexual.

                  Was “accepted” twenty years ago. (Since I looked like a non-Hollywood Velma as a teen, guess how I found out?)

            2. So the story purpose would be to create some sympathy for Gaston by making him the target of a creepy stalker? Okay, I could see that, but somehow I doubt that it was what they had in mind…

          2. It’s a foot-hold in someplace that hasn’t been sexualized to their preference yet.

            Just like sex ed for kids who can’t even spell “sex” yet.

      1. Amazon has real competition. It’s name is Wal-Mart. They’re getting up to speed. And have over 3500 local pick-up distribution centers. And they’re learning how to do e-commerce. Slowly, but they’re learning.

        1. And while they don’t yet deliver from your local store, selected Wal-Marts now have online shopping for your groceries. You can get anything that your local store has in stock picked from the shelves and ready to be loaded into your car when you pull up and show ID and the credit card you used.

          In contrast, Prime Now has a very limited selection, and aside from snacks and sodas tends towards expensive organic stuff. Half a gallon of milk costs $5.99. Aside from one experiment my only use of Amazon’s Prime Now was when I was sick and could get Nyquil, Kleenex, and soup delivered.

    2. Anything to do with robotic automation and field repair of robots. Jerry Pournelle had a good blog post on that a few weeks/months ago. Hint: do NOT invest in human driven long-distance trucking, or taxi companies. And considering the accidents with train drivers the past couple of years, expect those to go fully automated too. Autonomous robotic air liners? We’re almost there already. Between Honda’s Asimo and Boston Dynamic’s Atlas, we are within spitting distance of the first commercial humanoid robots. Once those go below the cost of employing humans for jobs that can be done by them, say good bye to those jobs, permanently.

      1. I have invested in industries in automation but that is a mature field. I believe in the schumpterian idea that the vast majority of profits for an innovation go to the innovators customers not the innovators. What aircraft mfg. would you have bet on in the 1920s? But regardless of which company wins the effect of air travel means investments in companies Based on tourism or business travel are winners. Same with new space or robotics. I’m not trying to guess the winning innovators (there is too much an element of chance) but rather what investments will benefit from the trend the innovators create. That’s why my e commerce investments are more in cardboard boxes and shipping companies (though yes I did buy some amazon). Who do you think benefits from the advances in robotics? I’m not sure.

        1. What about the makers of servomotors, accelerometers, and other sensors and actuators? Someone’s got to make the parts the robots are made of…

          1. Touch screen chip controllers as well. All those touch screen computers are only going to be getting better.

        2. All of the videos showing the happy little Kiva robots racing around Amazon’s warehouse are a couple of years old now. Since then, Amazon renamed it to Amazon Robotics and takes up the entire output of robots. There was a pretty good piece last year on the companies trying to pick up the slack.

          The whole site is fascinating if you’re interested in the business of robotics.

      2. Humanoid robots will not likely ever be anything but a curiosity, except for certain niche markets. Duplicating human processes is probably one of the least efficient ways of doing things. Yes, if you reach the capability of the full range of motion of a human, you will have a robot with a very flexible skillset, but purpose-built automation will always be able to do each particular job better and faster than they can. And overall, the purpose-built machines will probably cost less, even in aggregate, than a cadre of humanoid robots who could do the same range of jobs.

        The main thing preventing an explosion of automation is inertia and fear. Inertia in the “we always did it that way” sense, and fear that machines will take all the jobs. But Mr. Taylor is right, the main benefactors of automation will be the industries that utilize it.

        1. That might depend on how much “household help” is expected or can be had from robots. A humanoid form would worth with existing houses and designs rather than need structures designed with robotics in mind. That does, of course, make the day of it really happening farther into the future, assuming it happens at all.

    3. Smith & Wesson, Colt, etc; companies that are making the ordering kiosks that Wendy’s, McDonalds, et al. will be installing.

      1. A word about those kiosks. All of us here despise them, and will go through a drive-through to avoid the things, if possible. Wait and invest in voice recognition AI that replaces the touch screens.

        1. Interesting you should mention that.

          I’ll use an ATM for withdrawing money as needed; but I prefer and usually use a human teller for depositing and moving money around. In my professional opinion, on-line banking in the U.S. still doesn’t have enough security authentications; and your computer will be hacked, eventually. The “inconvenience” of using the U.S. Postal Service for paying bills, and tellers for banking, at least for me, doesn’t outweigh the risks of doing those things electronically, yet.

          As for a fast food drive-throughs, I park and go inside. I’ve had too many instances where I got home, or 5 miles down the road and discovered they’d messed it up; even though I’d looked in the bag for a cursory check before I pulled away.

          1. My observation is that at most fast food places the drive-through is the longer, slower line. There might be ten cars in the drive-through and only two people in line inside. The sole exception I’ve seen has been Chick-Fil-A, where lines inside the store are often quite deep.

            I don’t mind my fast food not being food, but I do want it to at least be fast, y’know?

            1. That’s odd. In my experience, going into the store to a line of two people almost invariably is still slower than going through the drive-thru line of ten.

        2. I’ve used such touch-screens to order sandwiches and sides at the Wawa and Sheetz convenience store chains for more around decade, maybe more. Frankly, I like them better than dealing with a live person. They’re slower to use, but they provide more of them than they can afford order-taking people, and the orders have always been right, something I can’t say for the sandwich shops that take my order in person. When I give my order to a person, far to often “light mayo” gets transformed to “light mustard”, “no cheese” to “extra cheese”, “extra vinegar” to “extra oil”, and “hold the pickles” to “a whole lot of pickles.” (The last might be because I didn’t enunciate well enough, but not the others.)

          1. The last two or three times I’ve used (or rather, tried to use) the Sheetz order kiosk none of the touch screens would acknowledge me as among the living, deeming the touch of my fingers insufficiently human to require a response. Beloved Spouse was similarly denied recognition.

            It is rather frustrating to be standing there with money and appetite and no way to trade one for the other. I’ve stroked, I’ve tapped, I’ve pounded the screen without effect.

          2. I don’t know if it’s chain-wide, but the Kroger grocery stores in my area have taken to putting a touch-screen kiosk near the entrance for people to place orders for items from the deli. It works fairly well, as long as you have enough shopping to do that you give them enough time to get to your order, and you avoid the wait that accompanies even a modest line at the walk-up counter.

            1. There is a Walmart in my area which has a McDonalds at the entry. When checking out (with cashier, not self-checkout) one can place an order for the McDonalds and then pick it up on the way out.

              On the one hand, it is very convenient. OTOH, it is McDonalds.

          3. The problem is that by slowing down the process, they defeat the purpose of fast food. If I want to take time to eat, I’ll head for a diner. I’m to the point of going into a convenience store and grabbing a prepackaged sandwich there, and eating it cold before dealing with a kiosk.

            1. The kiosks I’ve encountered are fast enough if you want one of the predefined sandwiches, but will definitely take longer if you want to tweak things your way. Given the frequency with which fast food places and sandwich shops make may order slow and wrong without kiosks, I’ll gladly take the kiosks.

    4. This would be the place for my usual “invest now” joke (although these days I don’t think I’m joking since that issue is likely to get considerably worse before it gets better).

  16. On one hand, I don’t think that I would hold a competition for largest number of deaths. I know of four nation-states that produced megadeaths in their own populations—China, Germany, Kampuchea, and the Soviet Union—and I count all of them as over the edge as far as evil goes, and that’s an end on’t. After all, they achieved that started from populations of radically different sizes, which makes exact rankings contestable.

    On the other hand, though, our culture has absorbed the idea that “fascism” is a synonym for “evil” in politics, just as “democracy” is a synonym for “good” (and the terms get used based on moral approval rather than on any vaguely rational meaning of either). But that seems to be based on “Germany went fascist, and Germany killed millions of people.” And I’d suggest that Germany was an extreme outlier as a fascist state, and might not properly count as fascist at all. Look at any other fascist regime—Italy, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, Greece—and you won’t see megadeaths. You’ll see nasty, repressive authoritarianism, but the deaths are orders of magnitude fewer and largely take place among political dissidents, in exactly the way that has happened in authoritarian governments throughout history. The deaths are terrible for those involved, and the repression wrecks a country’s political culture, but generic fascism seems to be a lesser order of evil than Germany—or than China, Kampuchea, or the Soviet Union. There is a much stronger case to be made that communism as such is a transcendent evil than that fascism is. If we call Germany “fascist,” it’s an anomalous fascism that is as lethal as communism.

    And yet, as you say, communism is not taken as evil, and its megadeaths are excused or denied.

    Years and years ago, I read a novel by Doris Lessing, set in Britain not long after WWII. Her characters were members of the Communist Party. And as the news of Stalin’s crimes came out, one after another would be sickened past bearing and leave the party. And those who remained would talk of them as if they had died of a plague that they themselves had been fortunate enough not to catch yet. They couldn’t associate with them any more: The Party was their whole life, and if they left it they had no social ties, and their former friends had turned against everything they thought good. But they understood that they too might be convinced that Stalin really was a mass murderer, and that no political goals could justify his actions. They just dreaded its actually happening, like Augustine praying, “O Lord, make me chaste, but not yet!” It was actually moving, in a strange way; I could see the tragedy of people who had believed lies and given their whole lives to them.

    1. Democracy isn’t much good when it’s practiced by stupid people.
      Fascism is great, until the government stops being benevolent.

          1. Yeah. Having managed to make electricity unafordable, the Liberals are going to do the same for natural gas, propane and fuel oil. January 2018 there will be a federal carbon tax AND new regulations to run up the cost of all hydrocarbon fuels. Not just transport fuels, but also heating.

            In Canada. Where it is COLD in the winter.

            For my part, I will be installing a shiny new woodstove in the living room. As will everyone else with a brain in the country.

            Where the fascism is going to start getting impolite is when citizens start cutting down the trees on the court house lawn to heat the local old-folks home. That could lead to some heated tempers.

            1. I remember back in the 70’s 80’s where the Government of Ontario was pushing “cheap, affordable” electric heating. So much so that a lot of housing was built with no option for safely installing ductwork for forced air furnace heating. Girlfriend has electric heat and dropped a wad of cash that she couldn’t really afford on a gas fireplace because the $300 plus a month Hydro bill was too much and she was suffering from chills by keeping the heat as low as humanly possible.

              As to the tree’s on the courthouse steps….Queen’s Park has a lot of great old tree’s. With proper seasoning they may keep an old age home from freezing one winter. 🙂

              I would leave this province if I was able to. Unfortunately I am now chained here for quite a few reasons. :/

              1. Oh. My. The only really efficient form of electric heating is the heat pump, and even then heat strips come on in defrost mode and when there’s not enough heat in the air. The latter has dropped some, but it still warmer than what you’d find in Ontario in the winter. Electric resistance heat is the most expensive form of heating, and will give you unholy electric bills.

              2. Starting about five years ago, the German government discovered that as the price of gas and electricity went up, the number of trees in the city parks went down. Strange coincidence, that…

              3. My house had one of those “cheap and affordable” electric furnaces when I bought it. I installed propane as soon as I could.

                I am told (but I have not run the numbers personally) that it is cheaper to run a natural gas powered generator during the day than pay for Ontario hydro. Peak time rates are ruinously expensive.

                Tell you something else. I see a lot more wood piles in front of houses these days. Even in town. Neighbors up and down my rural road heat with wood. The day of the woodshed in the back yard is returning.

                Thanks, Liberals!

                1. So the question becomes have the Canadians learned to associate this discomfort with the Liberals?

                  1. Depends. Most of the liberal policies tend to impact unfavorably the rural ridings. Those have for years consistently voted conservative. Some policies are starting to impact urbanites that typically vote Liberal or NDP. So no, they are not connecting the pain caused by liberal policies. Perhaps. Will see after the next election.

                  2. These days, the country is where the poor people go. Toronto is impossible for kids to live in now, unless Mom and Dad literally buy them a house AND a car. Junior on his own, just starting out, he’s living in a small town fixer-upper and driving an hour or more to work. Add the new electricity and heating fuel costs, they won’t be able to do it even given full parental support. They’ll be living in Mom’s basement until they’re 40.

                    Don’t forget, Mom and Dad are the 1%, they’re getting taxed at an accumulated 65% rate. Two doctors with successful practices might be able to swing a Toronto address for themselves and another one for Junior, nobody else will. People who work at Timmies, they’re down a back road in a fixer-upper. With a wood pile out front. We are all voting CPC and have been since the 1970s, pretty much. Little joy we have had of it.

                    To date, these realities are considered “Just Life.” The media is at great pains to never ever EVER connect the dots between housing prices, taxes and the Liberal Party. When I say Canada has a Fascist government, I’m not kidding. It fits the definition.

                    But now that -electricity- is unaffordable, people in Urban Toronto are finally paying attention. You get an $800 monthly hydro bill, that’s an eye opener. Then you find out it is a self-inflicted wound, because the $800 is going for windmills, it makes you mad.

                    January 2018, the new taxes kick in on heating fuel. That one is going to get laid right at the Liberal’s feet. Because even stupid lefties in Toronto are going to look at December’s heating bill, and then look at January’s heating bill, and conclude they cannot afford to keep the house above freezing with their current heating setup. Then they will get worried, and check the price of a cord of wood. THEN they will get angry.

                    Because the wood is all at my house in the country.

                    1. The process is not so advanced here, but I’m sure California’s governor would like it to be. And it’s certainly the case that we have cities that are unaffordable. I lately saw the estimate that the minimum income to have a residence in San Francisco is $200,000 a year. San Diego isn’t so bad, but we were priced out of it by rising rents.

                      I understand your usage of “fascist,” and I use it that way myself informally; for example, I’ve said to C that the protestors at the inauguration were left-wing fascists. (I see broken store windows and think Kristallnacht, you know?) But I think technically “authoritarian” may be a better term, simply because “fascist” has been used so much as an epithet that it hardly has a technical definition any more. Certainly few people think of the ancient Roman political symbol!

                    2. “But I think technically ‘authoritarian’ may be a better term, simply because “fascist” has been used so much as an epithet that it hardly has a technical definition any more. Certainly few people think of the ancient Roman political symbol!”

                      Yes, well, if we simply slap in the face with fasces any fool who shouts “fascist” without meaning anything other than “I disagree with him,” then that problem might clear up.

                    3. Hon, you know that they can’t complain if they’re dead, frozen from the winter cold. And they died in their sleep, going quietly, peacefully…

                      And since they’re nobody important, out in the boonies, ‘who’s going to care’?


                2. The oil-filled electric heaters are OK, the fire risk there is inside the walls, but the floor-located electric heat?

                  Every electrician I know foams at the mouth about how dangerous they are.

                  Heat rolling off your computer isn’t a bad heating source for a small apartment, though…..

                    1. Way back when Bob Vila was still hosting This Old House they did a project in, IIRC, Arizona in which the house used radiant floor heating. There was a huge (like, 2-story high) window letting the sun shine on a granite overlaid concrete slab in which they had fitted hosing allowing them to run water through the sun-warmed concrete and then elsewhere through the house … bathroom flooring, I think, maybe bedroom — the sorts of spaces where people tend to go barefoot.

                      It might have been oil they ran through the hosed floors. This was back before “Sustainable Solar Energy” had become trendy so they actually had to make it practical and functional. I recall thinking, all well and good until a hose starts to leak …

                    2. My grandparents (both sides) had natural gas-fired underfloor vented heating. You could lie on the floor over the vent and see the pilot light shining up. Just one big output vent in the middle of the house in the hallway.

  17. I see two things happening right now, both under fierce acceleration.

    First is a variety of people and institutions loosely on the Left, trying very hard to get back to the Good Old Days of the 1970’s when they rigidly controlled every damn thing you saw, heard or read. We have Google, Twitter and the Book of Faces loudly bragging about -censorship- like it is a good thing. They have bots now to patrol their users, to make sure Bad Things do not stay on their services.

    Transparently obvious that one of the Bad Things they want to kill is Non-Lefty thought and support. See Milo getting booted off Twitter, best known example. I think Erick Larson got ghosted for a while too.

    Thing is, if Google really does decide to censor the internet, they can do it. If it doesn’t show up in a Google search, it doesn’t exist. In fact, all they have to do is demote unwanted things to Page Three of the search results. Nobody goes past page two.

    Similarly, everything you buy these days A) has a brain and B) phones home to the factory. Network connected media appliances and phones are the best know examples. Less well known are things like power company Smart Meters, water company meters, network attached streetlights with cameras in them, cop cars with license plate readers, CCTV cameras everywhere, credit card data mining, and so forth.

    Somebody is going to put all that together one of these days and create the for-real All Seeing Eye of Sauron. May have already, for all I know. Hollywood movies and TV are certainly trying to pretend that such a system would be a Good Thing, I’ve noticed.

    Summing up, They are watching and They are trying to make you shut the hell up and get back to work paying your taxes like a good little prole. Coming soon to your town.

    But now, here’s the other thing. All forms of computing, communication and sensing technology is getting ludicrously powerful and cheap, both at the same time.

    So while the Powers That Be are trying to tighten their grip, the power of the educated individual to go over, around and through them is increasing. My crappy Blackberry Classic is a better PC than a high end Silicon Graphics workstation from the 1990’s.

    Example: the Maker culture. Bunch of dorky hipster nerds making network connected jewelry and funny hats for cosplay. Pull the cover off that a little bit and you discover some things.

    Raspberry Pi released a new PC a couple days ago. Pi Zero wireless. Its a full-on Linux PC with HDMI, USB, a camera port, WiFi/Bluetooth on board, and a micro-SD storage port. With a case on it, it is a little bigger than a pack of Juicy Fruit gum. $10.00 You add a ten dollar camera, you’ve got a wireless programmable surveillance cam for twenty bucks. Take a picture of every Cadillac Eldorado that drives down your street. It is not the smallest or fastest little PC out there, but it is ten bucks and there are a million projects out there for it.

    The ESP8266 is a low-cost Wi-Fi chip with an Arduino-style micro controller in it. It allows you to connect -anything- to the internet. Propane tank, water flow meter, weather vane, 1969 Camero, whatever.
    $5.00 each.
    It is the size of a fingernail. Add a few goodies like a nine-axis accelerometer with GPS, and this thing can fly a drone by itself. If you want a -smart- drone with video, add a Pi-Zero. And by smart I mean autonomous. Takes off, goes somewhere, takes a picture, flies home. By itself.

    Application: I want to know if Joe walks under Mrs. Jones’ tree, but I don’t want him to know. Because harmless prank. Put a few surveillance nodes out there, salt the neighborhood with communication nodes made of ESP8266s. You just made your own wireless com network, and you will know if Joe walks under the tree. You can squirt water on him when he walks underneath too, ESP8266 can control a motor. And you can make sure it is Joe and not Mrs. Jones or the family pet. That’s the level of sophistication possible. Total cost under $200 and a high school kid could put it together. Kids -do- put them together.

    So while They may be watching us, we can watch Them back.

    Science Fiction Scenario:
    3:00AM, the MiniTru goon squad kicks down the door and takes Winston Smith away.
    3:30AM, an armed mob of bikers kicks down the door of all the goon squad member’s relatives and takes them away.
    4:00 AM, Winston Smith is returned home with an apology, and they fix his door too.

    That was just off the top of my head, using two pieces of cheap-ass hardware I happen to know about. I am not an engineer or an electronics hobbyist. We don’t even -know- what kind of stuff an inspired kid could hack together under the lash of Necessity.

    Interesting times.

    1. Thing is, if Google really does decide to censor the internet, they can do it. If it doesn’t show up in a Google search, it doesn’t exist.

      Which is why a lot of people– me included– have stopped using it except to double-check, or try a different route.

    2. The censorship isn’t as bad as it sounds or they would like it to be. I still see plenty of conservative posts on Facebook – I never went for Twitter, I thought it was a silly idea. That might have something to do with the fact that Twitter has 320 million subscribers world-wide while Facebook has nearly 2 billion, there are just too many routes for information to take in Facebookland. The reason that Google is popular is because it is useful in finding the information people want. If and when Google starts keeping people from finding stuff, they’ll start seeing people leave for good. If Google wants to join Alta Vista and Fidonet in the Internet Graveyard they’ll start massaging their results.

      1. To some extent, they already do, based on past search histories, and site hit popularity.

        It is also quite good at burying things into the several search pages down if the POV is fairly conservative, or something that is detrimental to a left-wing cause. I don’t know yet if that is deliberate, but it has irritated me.

        1. I am more active on the former than the latter. Mostly because I can take my anger out on an unknown stranger much more effectively than throttling my mother.

  18. …an equality of the sexes that seemed to maximize women’s utility as corporate gears.

    Getting the women into the work force also produced another wage earner to tax. First call it liberation from the drudgery of the stay-at-home life, never mind those chores will still need to be done. Then promote the message that if you are not working outside the home you are not really contributing to society.

    It also made it easier to sell the populace on the need of government to extend existing as well as to provide various new services for the children. And now the state’s ‘certified experts’ gets to raise your children because you don’t really have time.

    I am in a mood today.

  19. I remember growing up in the 1960s and 1970s that it was a simple article of faith that the future would be Soviet because “over there” the State supported Science and Technology. Even the people who were mistrustful of Communism ( and there were a few, although they were derided as crackpots) admitted that the Soviet Secret Labs were churning out super-science inventions at a terrifying rate.

    As a smart kid who wanted to go to space, the Soviet Union sounded like paradise. They respected intelligence and imagination over there. They paid people to do “pure science” without worrying about commercial applications. Heck, they paid people to play chess full time!

    It’s hard to express just how crushing the disappointment of gradually finding out that this dream of utopia didn’t exist and had never existed. I suspect that might be why so many Americans cling to the idea that somehow, if it was just done “right” this time, we could create the perfect Communist world of Central Planning, where everyone has everything they need and we all work at jobs we love and Reddi Kilowatt is our friend again.

    1. Yeah, about that dream of utopia. The academics and a lot of fellow travellers were talking it up. In the background. There were a lot of Christian churches that had a very good idea of what was going on. Ever hear of “God’s Smuggler”? About a preacher that would literally smuggle in hundreds of bibles for persecuted fellow Christians. That wasn’t the only tale floating through the ministry’s. Nato wasn’t the only organization fighting communism. There were a lot of church based groups doing undercover work undermining the Soviet Union from without and within.

      1. I have often thought the CIA could save great amounts of money, avoid significant danger and develop more accurate information by simply sending their agents to attend church Missionary Conferences. Representatives of thousands of people with on-the-ground direct experience of the worst places in the world, all gathered in a location and eager to tell of what they’ve seen.

          1. There’s some…issues with that idea. I mean, I think it would probably be a fairly decent idea, but how many missionaries are willing to be witting sources for the CIA, for instance? Former members of the Peace Corps are forbidden from working in the Intel community within the area where they were assigned for a certain period of years, for much the same reasons.

            Also, the Intel community has no idea how to deal with religion or religious persons, and so mostly ignores it, often to the detriment of their/our analyses. The IC’s predictive ability is just as cruddy as everyone else’s and in fact often even worse. Especially when it comes to “area specialists”.

            1. Neat thing is that a lot of these missionaries and workers return to the First World to drum up support, donations, and COMMUNICATE with their supporters about what’s going on in their neck of the woods. CIA or other intel agencies don’t need to interrogate them, all they have to do is have a few people go and listen, document what is said and then pass it on to those that need it. Pure humint and no need to identify sources.

              1. Actually, source identification and description is a huge part of writing up the reports. It speaks to credibility.

                1. Oh right, good point. They also do maps and pictures in their tours of churches? 🙂

                  (seen one missionary, native to the area and former muslim, twice now at my mom’s church. Pictures, maps, issues with other tribes, etc….)

                  1. I’m a good 90% sure that the two gentlemen who were manning the information booth at the church in Genoa I visited in June were Muslim. But it was a job, I guess. Certainly they were definitely NOT Italian by ethnicity.

                  2. *points* Now THAT is a probable route.

                    I know that there are several underground railroads for folks who want to convert but don’t want to die right now– the folks running those are already going to die, along with anyone helping them, so I really hope the intel services are snagging the folks being moved around.

                    Because if ours aren’t, I’m quite sure other countries’ are.

              2. If they were already doing it, wouldn’t they then work to keep it quiet to avoid a body count in their good sources?

            2. I somehow doubt the agents would walk in to the missionary conference and say something like, “Hi, I’m CIA agent Smythe and I am interested in anything you may have observed in the portion of Afghanistan/Angola/China where you’ve been serving.”

              I think the questions might be more along the line of, “I am interested in donating to your mission. Can you please tell me what you’ve observed about the local economy, attitudes of the indigenous peoples, medical issues, etc.?”

              Contributing a hundred bucks apiece to a variety of church missions would provide some very clear and sensible observations on local conditions. Deniability serves interests on both sides of the engagement.

              1. That’s why I said “witting”. Which, FYI, is generally required, especially when talking to US persons. Unwitting gets into some rather complicated other issues.

              2. Many missions organizations specifically announce they are not part of the CIA. We often get accused of it anyway- one of Chavez’s favorite lines of attacks- but best to honestly not be part.
                Especially in this era of frequent intel leaks.

                1. Milo’s media crucifixion is a lesson to all of us – if we don’t follow the party line, we’re all fair game, no matter what it is we actually do or say. Intel leaks aren’t the only thing we have to worry about. Petty bullshit egotists like Manning (who needs to die in a fire) don’t care whose lives are risked as long as they get their ego stoked.

                  After all, to those ‘in the in-circles’ we aren’t ‘people.’

                  1. OTOH, there’s no one so free as someone with nothing to lose. I’m tired of it. I have an idea for a nasty set of political cartoons, and when I finish this thriller short story, might try some sketches. The Democrats would not like them at all.

                  2. Hmmm. I wouldn’t get too down on Manning. He/she/it was useful to the American public much the same way Toto was in pulling away the curtain. It takes a certain level of ego, or mental instability, to overcome the extreme risk aversion of revealing classified information even if it contains evidence of wrong doing by the government. Having spent 22 years in the service, I’ve been privy to many instances of illegal activity.

                    The problem is, reporting much of it is futile without being able to provide proof: it’s just he said – she said, and if you’re low body in the hierarchy, you’re toast. And depending on the evidence, the good-old-boy network will cover it up if they can; again, you’re toast. Let’s say you actually get it reported, and they believe you, and they open an investigation, and they even reach conclusions that you were right and justified in bringing this to their attention; do they actually DO anything about it? Well, history shows you’re still toast, and society isn’t improved. Especially when you have people like yourself crucifying the “petty bullshit egoists” who were the only ones dumb enough, or crazy enough to think they’ll make a difference.

                    The only real difference between Bradley Manning, and Billy Mitchell, was Mitchell was a high ranking commissioned officer and war hero while Manning was just a low ranking enlisted guy with personality issues. Both broke military rules for the betterment of this country, and got court martialed for it.

                    1. So releasing the names and addresses of Afghans who helped the US army so that they and their families could be killed benefited the country… how, exactly?

                    2. Never said Manning was smart, or thorough. A better educated, more experienced, more self-disciplined person might of stripped that info out before passing it to the news media. OTOH, such a person might have concluded the personal risk was too great and never tried. You see the problem? Manning’s psych profile meets the “I don’t care what happens to me anymore, so what do I have to lose?” requirement to be able see what he saw, recognize the wrong in it, and act on that. Now combine the toxic and abusive conditions, and utterly incompetent “cough” supervision and “cough” leadership at that post. Frankly, the NCOIC, the OIC, and the unit Commander should have ALL been court martialed, convicted, and sentenced for failure to follow orders, and as conspirators for every charge leveled against Manning, and occupying cells next to him.

                      Now it’s been a while, but do you recall which news agency published the names of the Afghans who were working with the U.S. military? Was it Wikileaks, or one of the other, more major media companies? Plenty of responsibility for ethical reporting that can be shared.

                    3. Your defence of Manning can go hang; and don’t think I didn’t notice your unsubtle insulting put downs and superlicious sneering chiding. ‘People like myself’ have every right to judge Manning based on his actions and the motivations for those actions. Your hero is made of dross and found greatly wanting, and deserves all the contempt and disdain a traitor like him deserves. To hold him up as a comparison to someone else is stupid; Manning is judged on his actions and motivations, that other person owns his own actions. They are, despite your weak attempt to conflate them, not interchangeable.

                      He let out reams of information and put people at risk for his own egotistical reasons as opposed to the true purpose of whistle blowing: which is to expose a wrong being done and hidden. A whistle blower who decides to take the risk also has the moral requirement of doing no more harm. You, I should note, have a marked problem distinguishing between a man of principle and a selfish and self centered egotist. Manning is the latter no matter what you think. That he improved nothing was only expected – he had no good reasons nor moral imperative to betray his duty; he wished only to strike back at the military; and did not care who he hurt as long as he got the attention that he felt he deserved and was entitled to.

                      I also fully expect you to protest that I am making a mountain out of a molehill. We have had enough experience with this sort of ‘oh but’ chiding, like Chris Gerrib and his ilk. Nothing I said warranted your fawning defense of an unrepentant attention seeking traitor who served only his fragile ego and flimsy desires.

              3. *sudden visions of a modern Peter Whimsey recruiting little old grannies to go to missionary meetings and take notes*

          2. I don’t think the CIA actually wants intel. They just want affirmation of what they already decided the situation should be.

    2. And we still act as if without great God government we would have no inventions of pure science. No, but would be less be.

      1. I have seen how the selling points of Communism has changed over the years.

        First it was supposed to bring prosperity to the workers, then when it turned out that Capitalism actually makes workers more prosperous all of us sudden prosperity was a bad thing.

        What they had meant was to say was that Communism was necessary because it would create technology. Then it turned out that Capitalism is better at creating new technology, too, and so technology turned into a bad thing.

        No, really, we need Communism because it will save the environment and preserve nature. Well, that turns out not to be true, either so they are now inventing a new Global Climate Emergency and only total Communism can save us. This is working better than the other selling points since they’ve picked something that cannot be disproven but we starting to see people who are coming up with technological fixes for the climate change “problem” and it turns out that those, too, are the product of Capitalist Science.

        So I figure that we’ll be seeing the end of the Climate Change Panic pretty soon and we’ll soon being seeing how Communism alone can cure some new problem. The “only socialized medicine can help transgendered persons” narrative seems to be gaining ground right now.

          1. Yeah, long term that’s a good way to get people hurting people who wouldn’t otherwise be hurt.

            It is one thing not to care what other people get up to, it is another to have that dragged into your own personal healthcare.

            Some of my medical pathologies are in categories that, apparently, people are actively trying to conflate with LGBT umbrella stuff. Effective politics, but terrible medicine. I’m confused and troubled by a lot of things, but my sex and sexual attraction are not one of them. Trying to solve my problems by assuming that those are the root issue would at best be a waste of resources.

            1. Yep. Especially since when it gets political and monetary it grows wider and wider. I’ve seen people tossing around ideas that if you’ve ever wondered about the other side of the fence and are depressed you have dysphoria. Uhhh…No.

                  1. well, it goes a little beyond drugging already. They’re convincing all the kids they’re “trans” — seriously, the incidence is 50%, and they’re damaging them with hormones at a VERY early age.
                    We’re going to lose a generation, and not just reproductively. (And the reproductively will hurt.) Remember the satanic sex abuse craze of the 80s. Imagine that with trans. Because Obama care covers transition in full, it is int he interested of any crooked psychiatrist to convince people they have this problem. Particularly since they are then a patient for life.
                    The satanic sex abuse thing could simply be ignored. This can’t. There are people who are going to be physically and hormonally maimed and unable — forever — to walk this back. I don’t even know how a society recovers from this horror.

                    1. Ugh. Admittedly I was talking back 10 yrs. Schools can’t just diagnose as trans yet.

                      And I say this as someone who doesn’t care if adults do it.

                    2. You’d be amazed. Parents seem very willing to go along with this, too. Makes their kid SPESHUL.
                      No, I don’t care much what adults do, but I’m seeing this among the children. Any kid with problems is now ‘trans’. I’m willing to bet almost every one of us here would have been lobbied very hard to believe him or herself trans.

                    3. Oh I don’t doubt. And I could understand if it was because (in my case) I have written gender flip stuff and contemplated a novel including it. But kids playing dress up or with dolls? Nah. These are same folks that in one breath say end gender stereotypes and another say ‘fix’ the heretics

                    4. But even writing gender flip stuff is no excuse. My easiest writing mode is male, and yep, often gay male, because that liking women thing is beyond me. BUT I’m otherwise perfectly well adjusted and do-no-harm would seem to demand one refrain. BUT someday over drinks, I’ll tell you sad stories of people with similar quirks who were NOT left alone to be their charming strange selves… They’re adults, but still, when dealing with the psychiatrists, adults can believe the strangest things…

                    5. Much as the intelligent never want to admit they were wrong and can be the last ones trapped in a lie, adults don’t want to believe that sometimes the grayscale world does reach 0 and 255

                    6. I’m totally fem … (and so is my daughter) but both of us were attracted to a taste for adventure and daring that is usually conveniently labeled as male. So Dog knows what is happening to tomboyishly-inclined girls in this day and age, if they are in the control of virtue-signalling helicopter-parents. Look, your daughter likes to play competitive boy games, read boy-books and build military scale models! Take a deep breath and wait until she is a late teenager! It’s sad and sick, and totally horrible that the trendy parents are rushing to declare their kid as trans on that basis.

                      Dog, I hate to think of the conclusion my parents would have come to, based on my own tastes at the age of about twelve, or so. I still remember the expression on my mom’s face, when she came out of the house and saw me wrestling 2-out-of-3 falls with my brother’s best friend. (He was a wiry little sucker – I was a bit heavier…)

                      Mom just went quietly into the house again. I think she pretended that she had’t seen us rough-housing on the back lawn. Wish that a lot of current parents could have done the same.

                    7. I was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder at a time when it was still treated as a mental illness, for which I am very grateful. At the time I honestly believed that I was “really” a woman and that making my body into a woman’s body would solve my problems. Fortunately I had a good therapist who was able to work with me to see that my problem wasn’t my gender, it was that I didn’t like myself as a person. Learning to accept myself for what and who I am is what has made me functional and happy (or as happy as anyone is, I suppose.)

                      I have since talked with a lot of people who have gone through various levels of hormonal and surgical treatments, and I am even more convinced that physical gender modification does not address the root problem–instead you end up with someone who has still issues with self-loathing AND now has to deal with extensive physical mutilation.

                      Has anyone else noticed how reticent the press is about people after surgical reassignment–say, five, ten years down the road? The poster children for gender reassignment are all pre-op–those who are pinning all their hopes of a better life on the procedures. Showing how the patients react after the transition when all their old problems come back is not part of their agenda.

                    8. The high number of suicides probably has to do with it. As well as anyone regretting it.

                      Mind, I know of a few who are happy post-op; but they were otherwise okay with who they were. But there’s plenty of evidence out there that there are those who regret it.

                    9. The kids thing really gets to me. A 6-year-old boy doesn’t even really know what it means to be male, let alone have the experience to say, “I’m not male, I’m female.” But we’re going to give him drugs to mess him up for life based on what’s probably less permanent than an interest in Transformers.

                    10. Had some traveling entertainers who, in the best carnival-style, had kings and dukes and earls who were all female.


                      cutting it because I know what it will be interpreted as, and fortunately it was just local color.

                    11. It’s a version of Munchhausen by Proxy that’s actually acceptable. The parent gets publicly praised for being “daring” and all that.
                      Meanwhile the poor kid gets permanently mutilated over a passing fancy.

                    12. There was a story in the Forbidden Thoughts (?) anthology where the parents had their delivered test tube baby – a boy, after much deliberation, genetic selection, etc. The… ‘mother’ … changed her mind and wanted a girl, so they sent the boy back, and he got a transgender operation, removing the parts that made him a boy, and so on. But the boy remained a boy, despite the mother being certain that gender was just a social construct, and refused to behave like a girl. The crazy bitch then decided that this was too much stress, and ‘I want an abortion.’ The long suffering husband mildly asked ‘Isn’t it a bit late for that?’ and the crazy psycho bitch went mad. Apparently there were broken things, and the delivery van picked up the toddler in the little white carry-cradle thing, and the child, like many others, were disposed of. Out of sight, out of mind-like.

                      It, and the other story where the children weren’t considered ‘people’ until past age 13, and often summarily killed for the pettiest of reasons (‘parental hardship/circumstances/stress/financial problems implied) frankly disturbed my sleep and gave me horrible nightmares for days on end. I knew it was fiction, but that ring of ‘this is what they really want’ seriously wrecked my calm.

                      The stories are all very well written, and succeeded in what they were supposed to do – highlight the insane perspectives which we are supposed to accept now as ‘reasonable.’

                      I kept wishing, ‘give me those children, to be loved and cared for for who they are.’ But they’re not real children, they’re only story children; and I hurt for the real children who are having this done to them.

                    13. The first part of that story is “based on real events” — a couple of decades ago, IIRC, there was a true life case of a baby born boy but — I forget the exact details: botched briss, malformed willie, whatever — the doctors elected to go with the “Girl Option” and made the necessary alterations. The child grew up girl in all ways except thoughts and eventually the truth came out.

                      Many of us thought this would forever disprove the “gender = social construct” theory but they’ve never been ones to abandon a pleasant theory in the face of stark realities.

                    14. I’ve heard from some of the campus ministries that the activists are deliberately targeting high functioning autistics/Odds/”our people” for this, too.

                      If you already feel excluded, it’s really freaking tempting to believe “oh, it’s just been a mistake, you’re really ____.”

              1. Political and monetary?

                Ladies and Gents, I give you the Enlightened State of California:

                Don’t Punish Pain Patients Because of Others’ Addiction
                By Wesley J. Smith — March 2, 2017

                Don’t get me wrong: The opioid addiction crisis is a terrible problem.

                But in trying to deal with that issue, I am worried that we will sacrifice the patients who legitimately need these medications in order to control terrible pain.

                Here’s an example. California lawmakers want to tax opioids to pay for addiction treatment.

                But why should people with a legitimate and real need to obtain these medications be punished because others abuse the drugs?

                1. That’s the entire DEA plan for physicians. Crack down on all opioid (Although ER doc offered to me 2x for diverticulitis. I had driven and walked into ER. Obv no need)

                  1. DEA doesn’t set drug policy.

                    It gets them quite cranky, too. It’s like yelling at the cop about a stupidly zoned speed…. (Seriously, Oregon, 45mph on a FOUR LANE FREEWAY, FOR 50 MILES?!?!)

                    1. Next time I see the guys that scolded me for it, I’ll pass on that their scolding had an effect. 😀 They’ll appreciate that!

                    2. “DEA doesn’t set drug policy.”

                      Well, actually, they do. They decide what “Schedule” a given drug falls into, with far-reaching effects on whether that drug is prescribed, when, and how much; also with far reaching impacts on the patients trying deal with the effects.

                      For example, when DEA moved hydrocodone from Schedule III to Schedule II, my wife got to choose between staying at home where she can get a fresh paper prescription every 30 days and hand deliver it to the pharmacy, or accompanying me on long term consulting assignments.

                    3. Schedule classification isn’t drug policy, and schedules are based off of FDA reporting.

                      FDA sends the DEA the conclusion that hydrocodone is a big addiction risk, and they’ve got to act on it.

                2. Cracking down on doctors isn’t going to do much, anyways– a lot of it, from the drugs they catch, is being smuggled in the routes that use to be used for pot.

        1. I think you missed the most recent selling point for the Communism Solution: Inequality!

          And I daresay we largely agree that Communism is pretty good at ending (the appearance of) inequality.

  20. Dipped, Stripped and Dead *is* very silly.

    We need to be reminded of the value of silliness, sometimes.

      1. Frack. It has been so long I don’t remember which episode that’s from.

        The Doctor: “Hello, can you help me? I’m a spy.”

        1. And that makes me think of The Mouse on the Moon and how the spies are incredulous that Grand Fenwick has no secrets as such, disbelieving the full tour they get as so much show.

      2. “Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

        ― C.S. Lewis

    1. Seeing that title served as a reminder that I need to stop at the store and pick up some boards to construct drawers from – something I’ve never done before. So I’ll also be picking up a pocket-hold jig and possibly some of those square-corner clamp thingamajigs.

      1. Whether a party can have much success without a woman present I must ask others to decide, but one thing is certain, no party is any fun unless seasoned with folly.

        – Erasmus

  21. And this btw was based on ideas from H. G. Wells.

    H. G. Wells was a member of The Fabian Society, openly progressive and embraced both Eugenics and fascism. As he aged and saw what happened in the world some of what we might consider his less savory positions did modify. He had the sense to realize on observing the rise and government of Joseph Stalin that the ‘glorious’ Soviet Union was not what it claimed, but unfortunately he placed the blame for that on Stalin not on communism.

  22. Part of what made the Reagan campaign successful was the development of direct mail fund solicitation by Jesse Helms’ National Congressional Club. That is art of why the Left hated Helms: he’d found a way around their controls on campaign fundraising. Per Wiki’s entry on Helms:

    His [1972] Republican primary campaign was managed by Thomas F. Ellis, who would later be instrumental in Ronald Reagan’s 1976 campaign and also become the chair of the National Congressional Club.

    And now this contemporary testimony to technological warfare in politics:

    Another way conservatives are winning the social media war
    If your Twitter feed gets flooded this week with messages urging the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, don’t be surprised. A conservative group that has pioneered new ways of shaping online political debate is taking on the cause.

    “We’ve got a gun, and we’re waging digital warfare,” said Mark Prasek, a self-described “Christian technologist” from Florida who founded the online group the Patriot Journalist Network in 2012.

  23. Agatha Christie? I always pegged her as moderately anti-left.

    It wasn’t until after the election that I realized what a tremendous advantage Donald Trump being a rude jerk (or at least being seen that way) was. They kept hitting him with stories showing how bad he was, and the rest of us kept going, “Yeah, so?”

    1. LOL. Just because someone is an ass doesn’t mean that he can’t do the job that needs to be done. And it won’t matter if he makes some folks mad about what he’s doing, since they’re mad at him already. I don’t have to love my plow horse to use him for plowing.

      1. I don’t have to love my plow horse to use him for plowing.

        No, but it is convenient for the pimp if the whores think he loves them.

    2. The “funny part” was (to me) that they couldn’t seem to find any serious problems with him as a business man. IE how he treated people who worked for him.

      Heck, they couldn’t even find any dirt on him concerning his actual treatment of women.

      Sure there was that vulgar comment but really nothing “bad” about how he treated women.

      The “worse” thing was this porn star invited to his hotel room and who “screamed” about him wanting to kiss her. Ah right, a woman who makes her living “doing sex” is invited to the hotel room of a rich dude and is “surprised” that he wanted to kiss her. 😆

      1. Well, there *were* some interesting comments about the payment of contractors and whatnot.
        But yes, the lack of stories from employees was telling. Compare to his opponent…

        1. Contractors, doing work to spec, and payments often involve squirrelly behavior. I wouldn’t read too much into it without a lot more details than ever actually emerged.

        2. *Snort* Look at how much Pelosi, Boxer, and the other former Senetrix from CA made through their spouses construction businesses and federal contracts. Makes Trump look almost as innocent as a Little Sister of the Poor.

          Plus, if you are working with contractors in NY, NJ, and other places not known for honest and weak unions, or upright and incorruptable civil servants, well . . .

          1. Like I said.
            Really, truly, and honestly, I think future historians will look upon the period between November 2015 and November 2016 as the year of the unforced errors of the party elites.

    3. I was somewhat surprised about the comments about Christie as well. The most I’ve ever noticed about her is that she tends to be softer on her Communist characters (Fergeson from Death on the Nile, the gold-digging Gerald Wright from Pocket Full of Rye) than I really think she ought to have been.

    4. Not if you hear her disquisitions on the need for a strong state, etc. And they’re so out of place, it makes you wonder. She was also, of course, soft on communist characters, treating them as wayward, inoffensive children.

      1. Of course, she also has pretty much every character complaining about the high levels of taxation.

        1. Every time I hear a socialist complaining about their high taxes, I am tempted to either 1) give them an I-told-you-so smirk or 2) grab them by the lapels and shake them for being so dense. Which option depends on the person.

          1. you forgot 3) smack in the mouth with baseball bat
            Work (well he’s on a different shift) with a guy who A: Hates all politicians, they can’t be trusted. B: and really thinks letting those lying crooks run his healthcare would be so smart.
            We’ll leave off his gun loving.
            stupid doesn’t cover it

      2. The person who turns out to be the Communist agent in The Clocks is a piece of work – destructively idealistic.

          1. That was the one that occurred to me, and if it’s who I’m thinking then it was a commie, and pure fanatic.

      3. It might be also interesting to see if that view changed between the 1920s and, say, the 1950s.
        Someone who was a Communist in the 1920s could easily fit that description–maybe even the early 1930s. By 1939? No way.

      4. Wasn’t communism/socialism The Thing for the kids of wealthy parents?

        Kind of like how kids will “go vegan” these days?

          1. Whups, crossed signals.

            And now it’s the supposed adults who are going vegan, for the same reasons….

            (I’d imagine the folks who are vegan for good reasons find them as annoying as our local libertarians find the college/big Ls.)

    5. “I don’t want people to THINK I’m an asshole. I want them to be 100% certain of it.” (seen today on Pinterest.)

      Funny story. Housemate once got a call out of the blue, and the other person on the line, after confirming they’d called the right number, asked just as abruptly, “If I wanted to move from (OS version A) to (OS version B.2.3) what would you say?”

      “You’re a fucking idiot.”

      Twenty minutes later, he comes downstairs to tell me he just got a contract, looking utterly baffled. “I called him a fucking idiot. How does that work?!”

      To some extent, people WANT Dr. House. I wouldn’t give a crap about how abrasive someone is, if they’re actually right. The doctor who drove me from the hospital claiming I was taking up a needed room despite the fact I had high blood pressure like insane and needed monitoring was shocked to discover I agreed to having a c-section after being re-admitted by the same maternity department the next freaking day. “All I wanted was to make sure my baby was safe.”

      Unfortunately for me, he was the senior obstetrician available and nobody in the hospital dared to go against him. The nurses in the women’s and children’s clinic made grumbling noises about stupid doctors who don’t see people as people, but numbers.

      1. Sadly, that doctor’s method obviously worked for him — he had risen to a position of power and authority by adhering to it. People rarely abandon strategies which have delivered what they desire.

        This says much about the type of person who considers such a position fulfilling.

        1. There was an interesting thing in how he introduced himself. He followed his name with “from Adelaide.” Almost as if he disdained being there in militarytown Townsville. I could never understand what that had to do with anything, but the way he said it was supposed to impress me or intimidate me somehow.

          I would have liked it if someone else did the surgery because I did not trust him as a doctor. When he had to inform me about the c-section after I was readmitted, he looked like he was biting something bitter. He did not apologise; saying that he knows we do not see eye to eye but that based on his medical expertise my blood pressure was starting to cause my baby distress. He also was not happy when I told him that was why I was in the ward for so long; that my doctor had said I was to stay there due to the pregnancy being high risk.

          Yep, he had, in essence driven a woman from the ward and caused her additional stress in an already risky pregnancy. Looking back, I should have sued, because I can never shake the feeling that if Brandon had stayed in the womb longer; he would have lived.

      2. “Twenty minutes later, he comes downstairs to tell me he just got a contract, looking utterly baffled. “I called him a fucking idiot. How does that work?!””

        True story: My father was retired from the military but still working as a civilian contractor on an Air Force base. (This means he got saluted for his departing rank, and was kind of treated as that rank, but was not actually in the chain of command and not subject to being deployed.)

        One day, a new boss came in and sent out a directive that a new financial management system should be put in place. This particular system was one that had been rejected prior to this point, so my dad went in and told the man in short and none-too-complimentary phrasing exactly why that idea was a bad idea.

        And this is the story of how my dad got sent to the Pentagon twice a year in order to deal with financial plans, because he expressed himself with great clarity and was not at all awed by people outranking him (as can be a problem if you want accurate information.) Or as the colonel who was his boss used to introduce him, approvingly, “This is the major who called me an idiot.”

        1. One of the most difficult things for a person in a High Place to acquire is somebody who will tell him to “burn a match before you open that bathroom door.” Too often their lives are filled with those eager to declare the scent of rosebuds and vanilla.

          It is evidence of a healthy culture and a good executive when there are people able to say when an idea is half-cocked.

          Singer Tom Jones has told of his friendship with Elvis being based largely on his ability and willingness to say when The King was wearing no clothes.

          1. The funny part is that my dad was the sort of person who didn’t care whether said executive would take it well—he just wasn’t going to put up with stupidity if he could help it. (Even though his actual job had little to do with his engineering degree, I always think of him as An Engineer because that’s how he reacted to life.)

            Note that part of the reason my dad dropped out of active service was that he had trouble finding jobs when he got let go. (Yes, you can be in active service and still be unemployed. Hard when you’ve got a family.) I don’t know how much his civilian status sheltered him, but I do know that I grew up in one house and my dad had one job, barring minor promotional advancements.

      3. After my brother took early retirement from IBM and went to work for one of his customers, where he was put in charge of their network infrastructure group, he has told me, one of the first things he did was to sit down with the team and tell them, “Part of your problem is to tell me when I’m being an idiot. Sometimes, I’m going to have ‘great ideas’. Once in a while, they will actually be good ideas, but other times, they’re going to actually be dumb ideas. You need to be able to tell me when they’re dumb.”

      1. Remember, we are discussing a society in which novelist E. M. Forster could proudly declare: “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.”

  24. Scott Adams points to an interesting article explaining the preponderance of “outrage” afflicting our society:

    Dopamine Puppets
    Here’s a funny article by David Wong of Cracked that talks about the dopamine high we sometimes get from outrage. The gist of it is that the brain gets some sort of chemical payoff from outrage, and we seek it when we’re otherwise bored with life. Politics serves up lots of outrage opportunities. That’s why we are drawn to it – for the high.

    We rationalize that we are fighting the good fight and making the world better. But mostly it just feels good to get worked up about issues and share the experience with like-minded dopamine addicts.

    The Dopamine Puppet idea is compatible with what I call the Persuasion Filter. This view on life says we do things for chemical rewards and we rationalize those choices after the fact as being totally reasonable. Our sense of reason is an illusion when it comes to most of our actions.


    Once a dopamine addict’s alleged problem is fixed, the addict still needs the next high. So they magnify small problems into big ones just to feel something. Or they create a problem where there was none.

    1. I’ve always called them “rageholics,” but it’s pretty much the same thing. An addiction to their hormones…

      1. Eureka! That explains the people who call support lines, but not to vent, and not to have the problem solved, but to keep raging!

        They are hormone druggies!

        Wow, that makes me feel better. I thought they were haters, but could not get their motivation. If they were drunk all along, it all makes sense!

  25. In any world with a modicum of decency “communist” would be a greater insult than nazi, because one killed over a hundred million and the other only seven? twelve million? Mind you both are mind bogglingly awful and both should be insults because they’re both short hand to “power hungry mass murderer” but communist is orders of magnitude worse. (And no, as my younger self tried to exculpate this nonsense “at least the communists had good intentions” doesn’t wash it. The Nazis did too. By their lights. According to the best scientific theory of the time.

    Random idea:
    Nazi is a bigger insult because it’s a boy-threat, while Communist is a girl-threat.
    Boy threat: right here, right now, kill or be killed.
    Girl threat: just as deadly, or more so, but slower; requires slower responses or it just pushes people into it.

    One’s overpowering, one’s persuasive. It’s a lot easier to fight overpowering, if you don’t accept their claims; of course, if you reject the claims of the persuasive but admire strength, and the strong one is no worse than anybody else….

    Just two different ways to “sell” an idea, and in this case the idea was freaking evil.

  26. I’m paying for a bundle plan with 5 phones, unlimited text and data, $250 a month, all taxes included, call from anywhere to anywhere in the U.S. One line, landline, calls from one spot, with one call a week from CA to each of our parents on the east coast ran to over $100 a month. There’s a huge difference. Upside: We’re always in touch and available. Downside- We’re always in touch and available.

    1. Meant to say- the one line, a landline, was in 1978. Inflation adjusted, we’re paying less for more, a lot more.

    1. For some reason this linked to my work acount, instead of my gmail; so r2c (replying to correct)

  27. Most people aren’t aware of their opinion changing. It’s more that when we all got all our info from daily news, we’d have been subjected to a barrage of news telling us how successful and wonderful Obama was and how prosperous the country. And we’d have believe it.

    Folks’ thoughts develop over time, and are formed from new information– NOT doing that would be…well, like those women who can’t recognize their “little boy” is 50, not 5. (Not the whole “wait, when did he become a grand-dad?” type thing, but those fairly rare folks who simply can’t accept it.)

    If a major source of information is bad, there’s going to be bad results….

  28. And then election night came. You had to have a heart of stone not to laugh like an hyena.

    I watched the US Elections while eating popcorn. And honestly, my POV doesn’t count for much when it comes to the US Election – I’m in AUSTRALIA. Laughing about the election, and pointing out what went wrong with the opposition candidate is normal. That Brit journalist’s rant was epic hilariousness while being true. (On the flip side, the pro-Trump parody election video was freaking hilarious, I can’t watch that without laughing til my sides hurt.)

    But you know what? I wonder how long the flailures can keep flailing. How long before we even stop listening, even if it’s just to keep an ear out for where they are?

    1. Butbutbut the US election affects everyone so all the Euros and Canadians and Azerbaijani need to freak out if the media annointed outcome doesn’t happen .

        1. Sadly I’m only exaggerating a little bit. Had lots of whinging because US was going into dark ages and would drag everyone else with it.

    2. *giggle giggle* The photo with your post. In addition to being a tasty snack, “poppycock” used to be another term for balderdash and BS.

  29. Here’s a great example of why the Progressives are going to lose: Yesterday Insty linked a story about Target and one of their feminist-centric clothing lines featuring shirts with slogans like “Girls are awesome”, today there’s a website selling shirts with slogans like “boys are awesome”. 8 less than 24 hours a competing meme is up and operating.

  30. I remember, in the fall of 1969, realizing with horror that I’d just talked on the phone for over an hour to my different-state girlfriend and fearing the phone bill. It didn’t live up to the fear and I concluded that the phone company appeared to have their counter reset after one hour.

  31. Sorry if this has been gone over before (haven’t had time to read all the comments) but the latest defense/denial of the rape-by-refugee allegation I’ve heard is that Sweden’s high rape stats don’t form an accurate picture because of how Sweden has expanded the definition of rape.

    So…the left is at least admitting that the stats can be spun. That’s a plus, even if it casts doubt on how bad the problem really is.

    1. The problem with that is that they expanded the definition before the migrant wave showed up. And the numbers *still* increased.

      1. This. It’s mostly eye wash. Interestingly enough the Swedish PM twitting they had no problem with rape lead to a bunch of women twitting their experiences, much amusing young conservatives in the US, who then reported to me. (I have these posts echo automatically on twitter, but other than that avoid that vile pit of SJWism.)

  32. The greatest thing that I hope came from this election is the wakeup call to the main parties and the media. The left was sure without a doubt never a question Hillary would be anointed queen yet this scrappy little old socialist came along and put a huge dent in that. Nobody expected Bernie would do so well and one could argue weather or not he would have made it if not sabotaged by his own kind but he was and Hillary was god queen. She could do no wrong and was going to win. The left knew it, the media knew it, the progressives knew it. There was no doubt.

    The right towed out another Bush and were shocked when the people said no. Then comes along Trump. Everybody sabotaged him. The right, the left, the media and the glorious bastard pulled it off. Unlike everyone else he went to the source… the people… he listened and figured out what they wanted and to the shock of the clueless political elite he was a huge success. He is still rolling on like a freight train. He knows he has no favors among his new peers and certainly not the media so he goes to twitter and speaks directly to the people. Trump is more connected with his voters than any politician I can think of and to the horror of the establishment… its working.

    I think it scares them. The government… every government and the media. They have lost control. We have already seen it in other countries and will again. The revolution, political movement, the shot heard round the world will not be on the front page or 6:00 news in a carefully crafted message. It will be livestreamed from a camera phone directly to the masses and this terrifies them. Can’t stop the signal, Mal

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