Your Way

Sorry this post is so late. This is my third attempt at posting. The saga started last night, when an attempt to write a post was cleverly foiled by wordpress by letting me type in a title but never actually giving me a window in which to type the post.  I.e. the window in which the post could be theoretically typed was less than a line, and therefore you couldn’t type in it.

This morning I woke up afraid to face the same at Mad Genius Club, but in fact it let me post with no problems.  When I went back to ATH however, I got the same thing.  Another attempt on another computer wielded the same result, to the point I’m astonished it is letting me type here.  Let’s hope it continues.

Weirdly, this ties in with the rest of the post, and what I meant to write about.

Sometime ago, Dorothy Grant reminded me of Russian Caravan Tea.  I used to get it when there was still a tea shop in downtown Colorado Springs and enjoyed it immensely.  (Yes, I do like tea you can chew.  Heck, I like tea you have to subdue with a machete before chewing it.)  I found it on subscription on Amazon, (Amazon being the main reason that I allowed my husband to drag me to the suburbs after 30 years of attempting to do so.)  This acquisition posed another problem: I now needed a tea infuser.  I promptly acquired a tea ball, which promptly fell apart.  I then bought another one, which is slightly better, but still allows some leaves to escape, which then lead to #1 son, the persnickety one, complaining about “Chunky Tea.”

The percolator I use for my coffee in the morning (I told you I’m a low brow sort of person) died on account of the plastic handle breaking.  Since this happened after three years of use, and the percolator cost us around $15 I wasn’t too heartbroken, but I did go browsing on Amazon which is a very dangerous thing to do.  I ordered a new form of the percolator, now $4 cheaper.  This is similar to the trajectory taken by the teakettle from the same company, which I first bought in 2010 because I was tired of having teakettles rust.  I have since bought three more, one for each kid and a replacement for one broken in moving, each one cheaper than the last.

So while I was on the amazon site, being me, I thought I would try to find a teapot with infuser for under $50 (when you want a 12 cup one this is difficult) and I found this one for $25 (the infusers themselves tend to run in the mid tens) which had the added bonus of double walled glass cups.

It came with an effusive message from its makers, apparently a family business in England, which I’m going to save for posterity, because its mix of capitals and exclamation points reminds me it’s not just newby indie writers who come across like over-eager puppies.

The teapot and the cups are just as described, perhaps more so.  I can’t yet say anything as to durability, since I’ve used it exactly one morning.  However, the thing is so PRETTY that my husband commented on it as I unpacked it last night, and my son this morning.  It’s one of those things that are beautiful in their simplicity.  (I’m a weird creature and I can appreciate Victorian ornamentation, but mostly what I like is things that are QUALITY.  I.e. well made, functional, and needing no ornamentation to make them shine.  Oh, I also like glass and sparkly objects.  I figure this is on account of being a magpie.  So glass teapot makes me very happy.)

Son asked me how expensive it is, because he would love to buy one for himself, his also being a tea consumer and having his own apartment downstairs (even if he visits upstairs a lot.)

When I told him he was surprised at the price.

This started a sort of percolating in my back brain.  It’s not the post I meant to write yesterday, but it is the result of the recent events, plus something someone posted in a private FB group about how young “expensively educated” youths think capitalism should be abolished, and the government should just make the things we need as efficiently as possible (I’m ignoring the idiot who thought each person should make the things he/she needs.  Because eff you Jean Jacques Rosseau.  That’s why.) and distribute them, which would be better for the environment and free many resources from the economy for SCIENCE!

There must be a glitch in the human software that makes otherwise intelligent people think this is an amazing idea.  It never seems to occur to them that in that type of economy someone has to decide what you need, and there is no room for what you want.  (There is always room for the deciders’ wants, of course.)

If I recall clearly from arguments had in my teen years, and from the pages I read yesterday, this would be met with the counter argument that it’s fairly well documented what humans need, and if you want stuff beyond that you’re a greedy capitalist and an environmental despoiler.

My instinctive response to that is to hold both middle fingers aloft and invite the speaker to gaze upon them.

I was not born to one of the poorest places on Earth, nor raised in extreme privation.  That would require being born in Africa.  I wasn’t even born or raised to the type of poverty my mom knew: five children plus a niece in a one bedroom cottage with no stove or running water.  Four girls sleeping in a double bed, two facing each way.  An outhouse in the garden, and food cooked on coal scrounged from along the train line.

I was born in dad’s mom’s house, a two floor place that would be familiar to anyone who’s seen a Tuscan farmhouse (the new owners even added a veranda to the upstairs back.)  We raised our own chicken, rabbits, grapes, and grew a substantial portion of our food in what was probably around 3/4 of an acre.  (It took me years to realize most of the world doesn’t produce like that.  We considered the soil poor in the north, but it’s possible to feed a family from half an acre to an acre of land, provided you can scrounge grass for the rabbits and buy fodder for the chickens.  (you don’t grow cereal in that space.))  It took my sons exclaiming at the amazing fertility of people’s backyards for the dime to drop.  I GUESS that’s why Portugal was invaded so much when most of the world depended on agriculture.

We had running water of sorts, only because it was hard with the tech of the time to pierce the very thick stone walls, we only had water in the kitchen and in the bathroom built right outside the kitchen door.  (It was a full bathroom, with appliances and a shower, not an outhouse.  Maternal grandparents outhouse scared me, and I gave my infant self UTIs from refusing to go in it.)

Now, we weren’t precisely rich, and the backyard required a great deal of work (my first job, at 5 was weeding the onions.  And the grape harvest was an all-hands-on-deck type of work that excused students from school and men from paid work.) but we were relatively well off.  Mom married up.  (And when I was six, she and dad built a house that is in all senses “modern” except for wimpy electrical service, and that’s governmental and now EU (Goreball warming prevention, donchaknow) crazy.) Our neighbors next door were a shoemaker’s family that lived in the conditions mom grew up in.

What I’m trying to drive at, though, is this, even mom’s growing up conditions were MORE than is strictly needed.  They were — thanks to my erratic but beloved grandfather’s occasional efforts at handiwork, cultivation and building — considerably better off than THEIR neighbors.  In fact, they lost none of their 5 children to childhood diseases or to things like typhus, which made them a rarity amid their neighbors.

Somehow, when you get “the enlightened” in charge, deciding what other people “need” to live, the common people always end up reduced to conditions far worse than mom’s childhood.  I mean, what do you really need to survive?  If you don’t want to live to a ripe old age, you can make do with some flour some oil, some water.

Better for the environment?

These are my middle fingers.

Even when we were very very broke and I thought I’d never climb out of it, I took joy from the idea that other people, elsewhere, were living better — that there existed in the world some joy, some beauty.  In fact, at the time in our lives when we were the most profoundly broke, we used to make sandwiches (or buy from burger king on deep special, if we had a coupon) and park in a beautiful neighborhood by a lake to eat them.  I wonder what those people made of it, or if they thought we were casing the joint.  The truth is it gave us great joy to look at the well tended lawns, the kids playing, the windows with lovely curtains, and the pristine lake beyond.

Because this existed, our very spare existence was more bearable.

But when you put the “best people in charge” of deciding the minimum everyone needs, what you get is hand to mouth existence, and btw, destruction of the environment too.  Because the peasants have no say in how they live, who cares if their mountains are strip mined, or their forests clean cut.  After all, it’s done in the most efficient way possible, so it must be better for everyone, right?  And because the “best people” are still human and have wants, if they can let their cronies despoil some little mountain and get enough money for a trip some place where luxury exists (Switzerland comes to mind, but America is also a destination for such people) it’s no more than they deserve.  After all, all this planning is so stressful, right?  They need special perks.

And what about science?  Well, most of the science that gets funded by the best people is science that reinforces the idea we need the best people in charge.  I refer you to all the scientific breakthroughs form North Korea.  Or, if you prefer, ask a friend in the sciences what they think of Chinese breakthroughs and “scientific papers.”  Then step back and wait till they finish laughing.  Might take a while.

Oh, and new things never get created.  Because what’s the point of coming up with a beautiful little glass teapot — and four cups — if you can only distribute them to yourself and your friends? after all, it’s not NEEDED.

All of this reminds me of O’Rourke’s description of traveling in the transiberian express.  not only were the facilities for bodily functions inadequate, but no one had thought that in the way of humans, some men would piss in between carriages.  So, there was a lip that wouldn’t allow the piss to flow out, so it pervaded all the floor of every carriage.  And of course it was never cleaned, because people didn’t have a choice of traveling in any other way.  So clean, pleasant carriages were wasted effort.

We see the same type of thing here, as a service (often helped/subsidized by the government) becomes the only way to go.  I refer you to the airlines.

WordPress itself seems to be going a little silly even for paying customers (which I am) as it becomes dominant in the market.

That’s okay.  The freemarket has a remedy for that.  Become annoying enough, and a competitor will succeed.

Which is a great advantage we have over the best people planning our whole lives.

Is a planned economy more efficient?  What is efficient?  What do humans really need?

From each according to his ability, to each according to his need might be doable.  If you let each person determine what they can do and what they need (it goes way beyond ability, btw.  I’m very good at somethings — translation comes to mind — I just don’t LIKE doing it.  Force me to do it every day of my life, and I’ll start finding ways not to do or not to do it well.  Not even on purpose, just through being human. Because we, curious monkeys, don’t do well with boredom or forced labor.  And sometimes what you need goes well beyond bread and water.  As a wise rabbi once said, man doesn’t live of bread alone.  At our lowest point both economically and emotionally (remember, we thought we’d never escape an existence that was just the bare minimum) we needed those picnics in the richer neighborhood.  Also I needed a book of art with reproductions of DaVinci paintings.  They kept me motivated enough to get up out of bed and look after my toddler.

You want from each according to his ability and to each according to his need?

Great.  The only way to do it is free market capitalism, and a free exchange of goods and services across the entire world.  The closer we get to that, the closer we’ll get to that ideal.

Marx’s promises were never well served by his control-freak social architecture, and anyone trying to implement that here will have to do it over my dead body.

I not only want my lovely, strictly unnecessary glass teapot — with four complementary teacups! — I want my kids and grandkids and great grandkids to be available to find their own amazing discoveries at a price they are willing to pay, world without end.

It is free market capitalism, to the extent governments allow it to exist, that has lifted most of humanity out of poverty.

Planned economies just give us the Trans-Siberian express.  And its pervading smell of pee and misery.

 

302 responses to “Your Way

  1. c4c

  2. What gets me is the people who can see that baby being condemned to death in England in spite of the fact that the parents have money to take him elsewhere, and still claim that that is a wonderful system.

    • Welcome to the return (did they ever REALLY leave?) of serfdom in feudal England. The hoi poli belong to the State. I wouldn’t call George Orwell a visionary, but he definitely was prophetic.

    • That is outright evil.

      • If you change the facts a little, you run into the appropriate treatment versus medical child abuse dichotomy. My personal preference is that when there is disagreement between doctors over a treatment option or plan, I’m very much in favor of deferring to the parents of minor children. Parents disagreeing with a doctor on selected course of treatment should not constitute child abuse unless (a) there is minimal risk from the treatment and (b) the child will die/be significantly impaired/injured without the treatment. I’ll admit – this standard can lead to some scary places, however. What do you do when a parent rejects traditional “Western” medicine’s answer and elects to pursue alternative holistic approaches, for example?
        See also, http://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/jco.2006.06.4709
        (Do Parents Have the Right to Refuse Standard Treatment for Their Child With Favorable-Prognosis Cancer? Ethical and Legal Concerns)

        • For me, what it comes to sounds coldblooded, but there you are. If Parents decide to pursue/deny treatment to the (probable) detriment of their child, that is a tragedy. But if the State puts its oar in, then whatever happens is in some part my fault. Since there is ample evidence that no matter how many medical ”experts’ you pack onto ruling boards, a State bureaucracy has the medical instincts of a rabid baboon, I would rather deal with individual tragedies, thanks so much.

          • There is a line somewhere where the problem is not really the child’s disease but rather the parent’s Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) (i.e. where the parent is actively causing the symptoms in question). Characterizing MSBP as child abuse does not bother me. The newer, reconceptualized form of MSBP, Medical Child Abuse, is more problematic in terms of improperly undercutting parental authority. The alleged symptoms of Medical Child Abuse look too much like a caring, educated parent who is very concerned, has taken the time and the energy to do the necessary research with respect to what they’ve been told is the most likely diagnosis, and, as a result, have become relatively fluent with respect to their child’s problems. Ultimately, I agree with the standard in this article:

            (and yes, even the NYT can occasionally get things right)
            The State should intervene in a parent’s medical decisions regarding their child only when one of two situations is proved:
            (a) there is evidence that the parent in question has (i) intentionally provided significant misinformation to physicians, (ii) fabricated elements of the medical history or (iii) induced medical symptoms; or
            (b) all doctors consulted by the parents agree about the treatment, the medical benefits of the treatment are clear, and the risks of the medical treatment are very small.

            I think those are both reasonable lines in the sand – but I’m more than willing to hear arguments to the contrary.

            • I have to disagree. There are far too many medical swine and bureaucratic vermin for me to be at all happy with doctors and/or social workers overruling parental decisions. I would, in fact, do away with Child Protection Services entirely; the idea is pernicious. Will some abuse tragedies result? Certainly. Will there be more of them than the tragedies of families abused by the system for nonsense? In a world where you can have your parental rights questioned for letting your children walk to school Imhave my doubts. But in any case, when a family abuses a child, that is their fault. When the State abuses,a,family, that is done in my name. And I won’t flipping have it!

              • I have immense confidence in bureaucracies following their interpretation of the letter of the law past all common sense or reason. I believe they will get positively vindictive if you question their decisions, especially when the decisions are idiotic.

    • paladin3001

      Latest meme I saw on of my fellow Canadians post was about those countries with full healthcare NOT fighting to repeal it. As if we had a choice to do so. I am part of the system and some people talk about how wonderful it is. Of course they don’t know many that have been victims of said wonderful system.

      • Let alone what Canadians and any others who can afford to will do should the US adopt a European style of national health care. I understand that medical vacations are quite the rage these days, mostly from anywhere else to the US.

        • I suspect the smart money is investing in building surgical centers in the Caribbean. Many places with delightful climate, no income taxes and agreeable officials.

          • Jeju Island, in South Korea has transformed itself from a mere vacation spot into a world class medical resort.

    • They’re sure and certain that the child is suffering, based on a few bare statements from the hospital. I just think of the comment in Bujold’s story “Labyrinth” when some idiot states that nobody would want to live a life with the threat of an early death and health problems. (Said idiot is saying this to the face of someone with visible severe physical issues.) Honestly, the exact comment doesn’t matter as much as the subtext, which is ‘you don’t get to decide for someone else if their life is worth living.’ With a side dollop of ‘be glad I need you alive.’

      • “Honestly, the exact comment doesn’t matter as much as the subtext, which is ‘you don’t get to decide for someone else if their life is worth living.’”

        Which is also why the Catholic Church, among others, teaches that nobody should get to decide, even for himself, that his own life is not worth living; because once you grant that somebody, anybody, can licitly declare any human life, even one’s own, “not worth living”, then no matter how strictly you try to limit the applicability of that idea, inevitably you wind up with the government usurping that privilege on behalf of those it sees no viable cost-benefit ratio in supporting. Q.v. the Netherlands today, or China’s horrible “one-child” policy. Some camels are just too smelly to permit even the tiniest nose inside the tent.

    • The ones abused by the system are hushed up. But when you can get your third std covered for free and not have to see the bill.

      A NHS means they get benefits and see no costs. And the system works hard to hide the costs.

      • [T]he system works hard to hide the costs.

        They’ve cut wait times in the ER tremendously! (Don’t ask about the occupants of all those ambulances parked in the lot.)

    • Don’t you realize that little Charlie is better off dying now than having to face a life under the auspices of the NHS?

      • BTW:
        The House Appropriations Committee unanimously passed an amendment Tuesday to grant 11-month-old Charlie Gard and his parents [permanent residency] legal status should he be allowed to move to the US. … Congress’ offer of permanent residency would be similar to Charlie holding dual citizenship and would still make him subject to British law.
        http://nypost.com/2017/07/19/terminally-ill-british-baby-and-parents-granted-residency-in-us/

        It is attached to the committee’s 2018 Homeland Security appropriations bill, which may be sent to the floor for a vote next month.

    • Congress has voted him permanent resident status so he can be treated here.

    • It’s the trend these days. “Death with dignity”.

      If your doctor wants to keep the patient alive, but the family wants to let them die, then the law says that you have to let them die.

      If the doctor wants to let the patient die, but the family wants to keep them alive, then the law says that you have to let them die.

      It’s disgusting.

      • Whenthe Terry Schivo (sp?) case was over, many of my Progressive friends expressed,satisfaction that the autopsy ‘proved’ that the right thing had been done. I’m afraid I got a little shrill with them. The case showed that we had gone from “If you leave explicit instructions, in writing, in a set legal form, we will allow the withdrawing of treatment that could prolong life” to “If somebody with a financial interest in your death alleges that you would want to ‘die with dignity’ we will remove,you from basic life,support, even if other people,are,willing to continue to pay for treatment”. I suggested that if that didn’t scre my friends, they hadn’t thoght about it enough. I think I made an impression on one of two. I hope, anyway.

      • Death with dignity is a real thing, though. The problem is when someone other than a loved one (or the person affected) is determining that.

        This sort of thing is also where the Christian concept of the purpose of suffering is helpful. The dignity of the stricken individual might not be the most important dignity to think of.
        How much does it improve us to care for someone who has lost all their faculties? How much do we gain when we pour ourselves into care for another? Maybe our care for a hopeless case will help someone else encountering their own helpless case. The hopeless cases also spur us to prevent or solve or improve the situation.

        Yes, it sucks to care for someone who is a “hopeless case”. But it does NOT mean there is no dignity in it. It’s the dignity of love for another. Something gov’t can never do.

        • There’s also the matter of doing a quick and final destruction of dignity (euthanasia) vs working to repair and upkeep it; the sick individual will lose their dignity either way; the second way will be longer, but the second way also makes it possible for others to help repair the dignity– and possibly improve their own.

          Mother Teresa had a story… I think it was actually told by one of her nuns… she, the sickly old lady, found a half-dead beggar in the fecal filled ditch at the side of the road. He was covered with sores and deathly ill.
          She pulled him up, got him to the nunnery, and she washed him, treated the sores, got a warm meal into him, then put him into a clean, soft bed.

          He died the next day.

          Who has more care for dignity– someone who would kill the beggar when he was covered in human fecal matter, or someone who did as she did?

  3. That does look a lovely infuser. Dishwasher safe, too, which can be very important.

    • I’m very happy with it. I’ll wonder if it will last, but $25 are worth risking.

    • I like the looks of it too – and went and followed your links to Amazon for glass teapots with an infuser… yes, I like strong tea also. As my grandmother used to say, “strong enough to trot a mouse over.”
      I have a Bodum with a plastic infuser, which is getting kind of grotty, but it has a plastic handle, which I like because it is not as easily broken as a glass handle and spout might be. Well, another couple of good months of sales…

      • I succumbed to the kettle. Mine died two weeks ago. The knob on the lid broke, with the lid stuck down. I’m OK with this. RedParents are not OK with this. New tea-kettle incoming.

        • Sigh. I remember when my kettle would whistle at me.

          It seemed like the one I got when first setting up a household lasted 20 – 30 years but we’ve been through multiple replacements since (including several the same style) and none lasted more than a year or two. One lasted but a single use, whereupon we discovered that pouring the water from it resulted in second-degree burns to the back of the hand holding the kettle from the scalding steam.

          • The steam-burn problem is why I didn’t get any of the ones available in town. Then there’s the one that had wonderful ratings, and said “Do not use on ceramic cook-tops.” So much for that idea.

    • It is, isn’t it? Sending the link off to the civilized half of the family. (I drink coffee. Instant coffee, with water heated in the microwave. With plain milk in it. Hoping I don’t get the ban-hammer…)

      • I do that too, half the time. It’s a mood thing.

      • Oh, instant I don’t do, because older son would put me out of his misery. 😉 he was horrified when he found his paternal grandparents drink instant coffee…. 😉

        • Doubting Rich

          I must admit I once had a nightmare because I thought my mother-in-law had left a jar of Nescafe in our flat. I literally had a bad dream about instant coffee.

          • I guess it’s similar to what iced tea drinkers feel about iced tea powder. When hubby was in Germany his “iced tea” was made with tea powder and mineral water. That’s when he started drinking soda.

            • I need to tinker with instant tea to see if the solution is the same as with instant coffee. My mother used instant tea and my father’s mother used a ceramic tea pot, and I always preferred the boiled tea. My mother also may have been making the tea too strong for iced tea.

              • When I make iced tea, I fill a two-cup glass measuring cup with about two and a half cups of water and boil it in the microwave, then I put just THREE Lipton tea bags in it, let it steep for 3-5 minutes, and pour that into enough water to make a gallon of iced tea.

          • Instant coffee can be quite good if added to boiling water. That’s how I make it with a microwave. Boil water, add coffee, and stir well.

          • I have a jar of instant coffee because it is an ingredient in my favorite low-carb brownie recipe. Sometimes people should get the benefit of the doubt on that one.

            • Feather Blade

              Instant coffee does enhance the flavor of chocolate baked goods.

              … I expect that if one doesn’t bake frequently, the 4 oz jar of instant coffee that’s been sitting in the back of one’s spice drawer for 10 years is better emptied into the garden, however…

        • Instant coffee only for extreme caffeination emergencies. Such as, “Rick! We’re 10 miles deep in the back woods and the boys left the coffee pot back home!”

          • I’ll use instant coffee to cafeinate frozen yogurt. Haven’t done any this summer, but I worked up a recipe that tastes good, and won’t kill me. (Type II diabetic…)

          • That’s when you grab a big ol’ pinch of the grounds and shove it between cheek and gum.

            • Once upon a time, the remedy for “too tired to function” was to take two or three packets of the fortified (with what, I never quite figured out…) instant coffee out of the ration pack, pour them into the space between cheek and gum, and then just suck on the dark nastiness that produced. If you were feeling especially low-energy, you’d dump the sugar packets in with it.

              I guarantee you that if you do that at about hour 36 on a 72-hour ARTEP, you’re probably not going to sleep for the next 48 hours. You may not be very coherent, but you will be awake and more-or-less functional.

              Later in life, I discovered chocolate-covered espresso beans, and found that a handful of those spaced out over a reasonable time would produce similar results with dramatically less pursing of the lips and existential dread. There used to be a brand of those things that were made by evil little gnomes somewhere in the Seattle area that were coated in some really high theobromine content super-dark and incredibly rich chocolate, which was also heavily enhanced with raw medical caffiene, and holy spit… Throw a handful of those down, and you were probably good for one of those interminable night road marches where you never quite sure if you’re done, or have just died and transitioned to some inner circle of hell where all you’ll do for the rest of eternity is march. Caffeine-enhanced delirium is not something I’d recommend for the faint of heart, but it does make the time pass, and may even mask the effect of severe stress fractures in the lower limbs and back…

              One of my LT’s wasn’t a coffee drinker before we worked together. First field problem we’re on out in the woods, he’s asking me how I kept awake. I started him in with the chocolate espresso beans, and before the end of the exercise, he was hitting me up for coffee every morning, which at that time meant me having to run an extra batch through the “field espresso machine”, one of those stove-top jobs that does double-duty as an IED if necessary… Poor bastard was completely hooked on caffeine by the end.

        • As I said above, I’m a Neanderthal. I don’t CARE if it’s instant coffee, so if I’m feeling lazy when I’m at the store, that may be the coffee that goes in the cart. Since the wife convinced me to buy the Keurig a few years ago, I’m generally making coffee with a fill-it-yourself insert for the thing.

      • I’m somewhat worse… I throw the teabag in the cup, fill it up, and cook the whole thing in the microwave. Two minutes for the big cup. Irish Breakfast is by then already strong enough to dissolve the spoon, but any variety of Green or Oolong needs to sit for minute or two longer. No cream or sugar (I used to like it sweet, but then developed a taste for Gunpowder, which I only like as-is… why did a bitter tea teach me to prefer unsweetened tea??)

        So I don’t really need a better tea appliance, and probably wouldn’t use it. But dang, that infuser-and-cups are gorgeous.

        • Just have to make sure that particular tea back is glued, not stapled, to the tag. That little staple makes the prettiest flares in the microwave!

      • Instant coffee-milk is nice when you’re in a hurry: microwave the milk, dump in the granules, top off with more milk to cool to drinkable, stir and rush off to work.

        • Unfortunately, while I’m not highly sensitive to dairy, that much would have me hurrying. For several hours. About two ounces to a quart of coffee is about right for me.

          Another strange thing, and has anyone else this problem? I have to cut the coffee with something – milk, cream, at a pinch the dry stuff. I stay on a pretty even keel with it then. But black coffee – even just a few ounces – and you’re peeling me off of the ceiling. Far less caffeine, but apparently far more effect.

          • I’ve not run into that. I do have to cut most coffee with something (ideally, full fat cream. Second is half & half, whole milk is third… and non-dairy creamer is for dire emergencies only. Sugar or other sweetener only if the coffee if really nasty.) I will drink the stuff made with a Keurig machine – it’s always “the first out” and is quick. But cold brew or French Press is better, but takes more time. Those I can take straight black without issue.

            And then there what I’ve taken to calling Atomic Coffee (variation? on “Bulletproof”) – a big mug of French press… with a tablespoon or two of butter (from grass fed, ideally) and an egg whisked in. This is not for everyday and it’s a meal-replacement. I find that a while after having one of those my walking goes from ‘automatic to autonomic’ – I sorta need to think to stop moving. And I’ve found myself wishing some of the machinery would keep up with me. It does wear off after a couple/few hours, but it’s not a hard crash. At least I get those effects if I use it infrequently. I have no doubt I would be apt to habituate to it if I took it regularly.

            • Habituation is a bear… Note that I did not have the tongue in the cheek when I wrote “two ounces to a quart.”

              Used to be much worse, though. I estimate that getting out of application development has probably added ten years to the life of my kidneys…

              • Aye. To use a line about a very different substance, “A little dab’ll do ya.” Also, that line from Mother’s Little Helper oft comes to mind: “If you take any more of those, you’ll get an overdose.”

            • kenashimame

              “Bulletproof coffee” so adding butter to coffee turns it into a non-newtonian fluid?

              I mean that’s the only way coffee would ever be bulletproof.

          • No, but I discovered that Palace Coffee in Canyon, TX makes wonderful coffee, and one cappuccino drunk at 1530 will keep me awake until 0200.

          • I have to cut the coffee with something for my stomach’s sake, not the caffeine. For some reason, black coffee makes my guts hurt.

            • I have buttered toast with my black coffee. Just black coffee gets me too.

              • I strongly advise against buttering your toast with your black coffee, no matter whether you have previously done so. The toast gets untoasty and the coffee gets crumby.

  4. There is always room for the deciders’ wants, of course.

    There need to be compensations for those who undertake the arduous task of deciding what is and is not needed. Those exercising the strenuous chores of deciding things are relieving of us a great and wearisome burden, after all, and surely you would not be so ungrateful as to deny them a few, minor, decisions for themselves?

    How churlish.

    It does seem as if there ought be some clip from Yes, Minister which could be posted to illustrate this point, but there is such a wealth of material that I simply cannot decide on one.

    • Especially if one can reinforce this importance by forcing your lessers to travel in cattle cars with piss sloshing around their ankles.

  5. I haven’t seen the whinging for a while, but there was a point when I’d see people complaining about fireworks specifically because townships could better spend the money elsewhere. (As opposed to the PTSD and pet-frightening reasons, which at least have some real value, though if someone knows the date is coming they can at least prepare and have Xanax on hand.)

    I always thought that fireworks are a happy thing, free for people to see, and sometimes people with no money need some beautiful things too. (There’s no fiscal check for someone to watch fireworks, after all.)

    • Everyone has their hobbyhorse. By spending on fireworks the town can’t put that money toward their own hobbyhorse. You see it everywhere.

      • Yep. Like paying overtime for the cops to make it impossible for me to leave my house twice a year, so that the mostly out-of-town bicyclists can have their “El Tour.”

        (Okay, O/T for the traffic control and fire department on the Fourth do cost something, although the display itself is privately funded. But, as noted, that is something that everyone can enjoy, whether they have a fancy house in the Catalina foothills or a barely-above-shack in South Tucson.)

        • Oh I know. Just noting the reason. They don’t care for it so it doesn’t need money. They want to watch (or make money from) the bike race so of course that’s necessary.

        • kenashimame

          During Nightfall we (Old Tucson) pay the O/T for off-duty South Tucson cops to be in the park. It’s part of why a Nightfall admission is more expensive than a regular Day Park admission.

          And yeah, El Tour de Tucson is a pain.

          • “Second job” time, surely?

            • kenashimame

              Since I don’t (thankfully) deal with accounting, I’m not sure of the specific compensation. I do know we cut checks for the officers.

              • OT (the other), and BTW – how are you doing over there? That was one of our nasty ones that came through this afternoon. (Not a single drop of rain on my house, of course…)

                • kenashimame

                  We lost power at the park for a couple of hours, and got hammered hard. I was outside admin watching it slowly roll through Gates Pass, then two lightning strikes hit the mountains just north of us with in about 30 second. That’s when I decided to go back to my office.

                  It seems the monsoon is trying to make up for starting late this summer.

                  • Send a little more of it over my way, please? We’ve got the humidity, we just need the storms to make use of it. AZ and NM are not sharing the way you usually do. 🙂

                    • kenashimame

                      I checked the Atlantic GEOS today, it look s like you’ve got a tropical storm trying to sneak underneath you.

                    • Apparently it got under 0 deg C some places here that isn’t mountain. I kind of wanted it to snow in the lowland coastal areas, but hah, that’s not happening.

                      Right now though it’s so cold that I’d have to REALLY turn the heater up and with just me in the house, it’s not worth it. Burrowing under my quilts for a while, and hoping the neck ache I got from shivering goes away.

                      I noted with some amusement that news.com.au talked a bit about the solar minimum that we’ve all been discussing here for a while now. I laughed like an evil madman on reading it. WHERE’S YOUR GLOBAL WARMING NOW?

                      Oh yeah they’re calling it ‘climate change’ now so that they’re ‘right’ no matter what.

                    • Feather Blade

                      hoping the neck ache I got from shivering goes away.

                      I’ve discovered that sleeping on a heating pad (like the instructions tell you not to 0:-) ) is marvelous at preventing cold-induced muscle aches.

                      I did that all last winter, and not only did I get to sleep faster, I slept better and wasn’t sore in the morning.

                    • And when in the initial stage of illness, aiding/inducing the fever seems to do wonders for shortening the bleargh-y phase of the lurgie.

    • It’s been literally YEARS since I’ve watched the gov’s fireworks. I don’t have to schlep my fat self anywhere but my own yard. There are at least three families (groups of families?) that work their asses off every year trying to out-do each other right here in my own neighborhood. All on their OWN DIME. Because they WANT to. All while risking at least a little bit of legal trouble… although I don’t think the local PD bothers them, so that legal trouble is probably just hypothetical.

      No, I’m not one of those “townships could better spend the money elsewhere” types. If your town wants to spend money on fireworks, no skin off of my nose. I just thing it’s funny how some people seem to think that if the gov doesn’t make fireworks happen, nobody will ever see them.

      • kenashimame

        You can make the argument that commercial grade fireworks are much cooler than consumer works; though not enough for the average person to jump through the ATF hoops to get them.

        Some jurisdiction prohibit the sale and use of firework, leaving only the official public displays available.

        • And sometimes fire risk pushes municipalities to say, “Tell you what, folks, we’ll do the show this year, rather than catching the entire Panhandle on fire by accident.”

          • kenashimame

            Lighting “A” Mountain/Sentinel Peak on fire is practically part of the annual festivities of the City’s official show.

          • Our little-bitty town does safe-n-sane fireworks in front of the fire station (bring your own fireworks).

            Several years ago, I worked a fire 5AM on July 5th; private party got some (illegal in Oregon) aerial stuff, and one flew next door. In thick, dry brush. They tried to get it out for hours before calling 911, and we got in under control in under an acre. Still, the bill/fine was about $5000.

            OTOH, a few years ago, some folks celebrated Bastille Day in high brush. That cost 2000 acres, a bunch of homes and a lot of money to fight it. Never heard if the miscreants were identified; knowing the mood of the victims, the Missing Persons list might be a clue. If anybody missed them. On the gripping hand “Shoot, Shovel and Shut Up” is a motto occasionally observed.

          • The ones who pass laws banning fireworks for any other reason, I tend to object to.

            The ones who say, “Okay, this year the fire risk is too high, so we’re officially banning fireworks for now, until we get some more rain,” I have absolutely no problem with.

            • California has a perma-ban on bottle rockets and similar items, and I agree with that. There’s *always* too much dry brush (and the occasional shake roof) around, and there’s an annual losing of at least one house in my area due to someone breaking the law.

              • That’s why we had our illegal bottle rocket wars on the beach. The beach makes a great war zone after getting off evening tour on a Wednesday.

                PS. That’s pronounced tower like hour in the oil patch.

      • was surprised at the lack of “civic” fireworks here, then the next weekend there is a function at the museum dealing with lumber, logging, and forestry. They put on a show. It is at the island that US41 goes over, and I realized they launch from about 150 yards from my house. Not an early night’s sleep on that Saturday around here. got the cats’ attentions, but not too bad.

        • My daughter and I did a Christmas event in Johnson City last year – the week after Thanksgiving, they have a tremendous local do, lighting up the old Blanco County Courthouse with strings of lights – and a fireworks display to set it all off. We were boggled – they set them off a short distance south of the Courthouse square and it was bloody marvelous!
          http://www.celiahayes.com/archives/2805
          The localness of it all was a marvelous experience.

      • My little town has the largest fireworks display in the state (and quite nicely visible from my upper pasture, too) … but it’s funded by donations, not taxes. Reportedly one rancher routinely throws in $50,000. Yeah, the money might be better spent elsewhere, but it’s his money, and I think it’s a fair trade for the patriotic booster. “And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there….”

    • I can’t help but notice that the vast majority of the freaked out pets belong to people who are desperate to have a reason to remove the fireworks.

      That is, out of hundreds of people who are neutral or positive to fireworks, TWO have pets that have “issues.”

      Of those who are against fireworks, about 50/50. Most were against them prior to pets being exposed to fireworks.

      Do NOT get me started on the “stop fireworks because of war zone veterans” thing.

      Please.

      • I’ve seen pets react badly to fireworks. Oddly, this is not the same set as those who react badly to thunder. The question, then, is whether this is sufficient reason to prevent everyone from owning fireworks. I don’t think it is for the simple reason that not everyone who enjoys fireworks is going to be near a pet that doesn’t like them.

        PTSD and fireworks is a real thing, but because someone has PTSD does not necessarily mean fireworks is a trigger. Here I can relate somewhat because I have an allergy against smoke, including cigarette smoke, but I don’t support banning smoking because of that.

        • PTSD and fireworks is a real thing, but because someone has PTSD does not necessarily mean fireworks is a trigger. Here I can relate somewhat because I have an allergy against smoke, including cigarette smoke, but I don’t support banning smoking because of that.

          See, I know folks with PTSD.

          You know a much more common trigger?

          DRIVING LIKE A FREAKING ASS.

          Totally not kidding– driving in ways that disrupt normal flow of traffic? For no apparent reason? TOTALLY a trigger.

          Tailgating? This is WRONG, it’s a threat, a real trigger.

          Cutting you off? OMFG, TRIGGER!

          Freaking basic loud noises? In a fairly predictable pattern? Not so much.

          • Have a friend who did EOD in Iraq. He told me when he got back that the biggest adjustment for him was driving. He had learned how to drive safely as safely as possible in Iraq, and those learned instincts were all wrong for driving in America. In America, you’re not supposed to change lanes randomly without warning, nor to suddenly hit the gas or the brakes. The goal in America is for other drivers to be able to predict what your vehicle will do*, and all the driving he’d been doing over the past year had been calculated to make his vehicle’s path as UNpredictable as possible.

            * This is actually Rule #1 of safe driving in every single country — but the unspoken rules of the road, and what other drivers are expecting you to do, vary widely from country to country. Someone who’s a perfectly safe driver in America might be a very UNsafe driver in India, for example, until he’s learned what those differing expectations are.

            • The second Captain America movie has a PTSD group therapy session for vets that shows up onscreen for a minute or so. The woman talking during the session mentions a recent triggering event that happened while she was driving.

              Just a random observation.

            • *grin* I’ve asked my husband if he’d be willing to try brave driving the streets of Manila.

              His reply? “Sure. But I’ll probably annoy EVERYONE with how slowly I will drive.”

              Manila – where the considered ‘safe distance from every other vehicle is less than 6 inches.’

          • I knew some who didn’t like loud noises for that reason. OTOH, I know of a letter from WWI where the writer said he’d that when he came home, he’d have to get his son a cap pistol and tell him to shoot it so he could go to sleep.

          • DRIVING LIKE A FREAKING ASS.

            Totally not kidding– driving in ways that disrupt normal flow of traffic? For no apparent reason? TOTALLY a trigger.

            Tailgating? This is WRONG, it’s a threat, a real trigger.

            Cutting you off? OMFG, TRIGGER!

            Y’know… I can see that, and understand why.

        • It depends on the nature of the disturbed pet. If the fireworks upset yu pet goldfish or bunny, suck it up. I vote the city exercise restraint If they disturb your per wolf pack, rhinoceros or elephant.

        • Our border collie isn’t fond of fire works, but she hated the next door neighbor who’d use an overly large pistol to shoot ground squirrels. (Think a medium rifle cartridge in a pistol, like a 35 Remington; if he missed, the ground squirrel might die of fright.) He’s gone now, and there’s only one or two really loud booms on the 4th.

          I’m building a pumphouse with air tools; the framing nailer is impressive, but $SPOUSE keeps the radio up loud. I have to use the palm nailer tomorrow; think mini machine gun. Whee.

      • Nope. We blow stuff up and light things on fire with relish, but until recently we’ve only ever had dogs who were scared spitless of fireworks. They were all rescue dogs.

        If there’s causality it’s that the folks didn’t think to take the opportunity to train the pups to deal with bangs and explosions because they didn’t realize they’d need to until it was too late.

        • Aye. Family had a dog (so long ago now…) that grew up with pops and bangs and had no big issue with such. The only real issue we had was that we had to hold her back for any spinning jumping pyrotechnics as she’d try to get too close for comfort and safety.

          • Feather Blade

            My uncle had a dog like that. Given his druthers he’d chase the fireworks and try to bite them.

            Miraculously, the dog died of old age with all of his teeth intact.

      • My cat doesn’t like the Saturday evening fireworks display the local camp ground puts on every weekend in the summer. She doesn’t like thunder either.

        No sane animal with sensitive hearing is going to like loud noises anyway.

        • There is a difference between “not liking” and “full on hysteria requiring medication or taking the animals to a different house.”

          If animals couldn’t deal with it, hunting dogs wouldn’t exist.

          • Nod, when the age of gunpowder weapons started, horses had to be trained to “not panic” at the sound of gunpowder weapons.

            • kenashimame

              We have horses on property that are used in films, they have to be trained no to panic at loud noises as well, including gunfire since we still shoot the odd western out here.

              • we still shoot the odd western out here.

                That explains the scarcity of odd westerns in recent years; they’ve all been euthanized!

                • kenashimame

                  You’re just not looking hard enough. One of the movies shotfilmed here last year, but not released yet I think, was “Tombstone Rashomon.”

                  Yes, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral filmed in the manner of Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon.”

                  • Did you happen to have anything to do with Bill Whittle and his partner’s Arroyo?

                    I have to admit, I was rather disappointed when that overall project of building a movie production company fell through, even though they did finish that one film.

                    • kenashimame

                      If they filmed it at Old Tucson, it was before I came here.

                      We lose a lot of productions to New Mexico and Washington and their thrice-damned tax credits. Which the Arizona legislature won’t enact for us.

                    • Oh, I missed the reference to where exactly you are. I think they were down in New Mexico.

        • My cat *hates* loud noises–thunder, power tools, fireworks. But his ‘freak out’ consists of him meowing pitifully, and head-slamming someone’s leg (he’s a very large cat) until the human fetches him a blankie to hide under. Then he’s fine.

          • Feather Blade

            We used to have a collie that absolutely refused to go down the bedroom hallway of our house.

            …except on the 4th. Then we would find him holed up on the bottom bunk of the boys’ bed.

            I don’t even remember how we would get him back down the hallway to the living room afterwards.

  6. if you want stuff beyond [what is fairly well documented that humans need] you’re a greedy capitalist and an environmental despoiler.

    The genius of “capitalism” is that it provides everything humans need at lower cost and fairer distribution than any other system, so yes, I am greedy for the benefits “capitalism” being enjoyed by all.

    As for environmental despoiler … have you ever looked up Chernobyl or the Aral Sea? Please note that the Wiki entry for that latter begins: The Aral Sea was an endorheic lake lying between …
    [Emphasis added]

    Was. As in: no longer is. Again, from Wiki:

    Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 km2 (26,300 sq mi), the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects. By 1997, it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into four lakes – the North Aral Sea, the eastern and western basins of the once far larger South Aral Sea, and one smaller lake between the North and South Aral Seas. By 2009, the southeastern lake had disappeared and the southwestern lake had retreated to a thin strip at the western edge of the former southern sea; in subsequent years, occasional water flows have led to the southeastern lake sometimes being replenished to a small degree. Satellite images taken by NASA in August 2014 revealed that for the first time in modern history the eastern basin of the Aral Sea had completely dried up. The eastern basin is now called the Aralkum Desert.

    Emphasis, once again, added.

    Note, also, that for all that water diverted Soviet agriculture was never able to adequately supply its own citizens an adequate diet.

    Meanwhile, “capitalist” America has reversed decades of pollution and provides its citizens cleaner air, cleaner water, recovered forest and wildlife and a much higher standard of living.

    • But but but California water.

      • Which Gov. Moonbeam and the Dem legislature refused to build dams to hold the rainfall. IDJITS! Surrounded by IDJITS.

        • Don’t worry. They’ll be ruling us in four years.

        • That’s because of Climate Change: they were so certain that California would be in such perpetual drought, that it would have been reckless to make dams and otherwise prepare for any future rainfall.

          Yeah, that prediction worked out well for them!

          • No, Jerry was agin’ big projects back in the Global Cooling days in the ’70s. Dams, water projects, roadways, they all got killed or delayed until he left office. Unfortunately, while the roads got built after a while, the treehuggers singled out the dam projects.

            FWIW, if you want to see heads explode, ask them why they support the Hetch Hetchy dam in Yosemite.

            • *evil kitty grin* I’m having fun using the MWD [LA’s water authority] as the catalyst for a disaster. Need to work ‘Frisco in as well. Hmm. Now, if otto-corrupt would quit trying to change MWD to WMD…

              • Otto has a point. Just ask the ranchers in the Owens Valley.

                • An older friend of mine grew up in the Owens Valley during the late ’30s. He remembered hearing more than one of the bombs set off, IIRC mostly on some power line or other used by MWD, set off by locals annoyed by MWD screwing things up as it did.

              • kenashimame

                A computer making a Freudian Slip? Who knew?

            • I sometimes think that Gov. Moonbeam’s antipathy towards things like dams, water catchment, and related infrastructure projects is that he wants very much to not be his father. Or to be compared to his father. Or overshadowed by his father’s accomplishments as governor.

              Actually having rational water/highway policies is stupid, but we really need this reeeeeeaaaaaaaaaallllllyyyyy expensive high-speed train project as his shining monument.

              Or something. Sacramento is run by idiots.

          • Actually, it’s a few different things, and climate change isn’t one of them. Dams are actually great at stopping climate change because they produce power with very little in the way of pollutants. If your sole concern is limiting pollution, then hydro-electric power beats *everything* else.

            The causes have more to do with things like dams interfering with the environment – particularly salmon spawning – and claims by the local tribes that the reservoirs are covering up burial grounds and similar locations of cultural interest. The bill that created the initial restrictions on the San Joaquin Valley Project came from DC, and was initially introduced by a NJ Senator (unfortunately, I can’t remember which one).

            Netflix has a documentary on the subject that’s worth checking out if you have any interest in the topic.

            • Dams kill salmon
              Wind turbines decimate migratory birds
              Solar power uses toxic plastics
              Oil and gas cause global warming
              And OMG!#!£!!!!! Nuclear power causes Chernobyl.

              You can’t win. Which is, I think the point. Cheap energy give hip polloi ideas above their station.

            • Covering up burial grounds.
              Isn’t that the purpose of burying people in the first place?

            • Our endangered dams get blamed for all shortcomings on the Klamath River. OTOH, nobody seems to mind the dam on the Trinity which also feeds that area of the Klamath. I suspect the people using the Trinity water are better connected…

    • Damn, you beat me to it. That was precisely what I was going to mention. That and the horrific land poisoning around it because of what passed for Soviet agricultural expertise.

      • Even rabid fans of the USSR (I’ve met a few) admit that the Soviet pollution and environmental destruction far exceeds what the West has managed to do. Siberia’s oil fields, the Aral Sea, heavy-metal pollution in every industrial city… Dad saw far more children sick from heavy-metal toxicity in the former USSR than he saw effects from Chernobyl (as in almost none, unless the children were not given iodized salt).

        • Yup. The outflow of the Danube is another ugly mess, with both Communist Romania and Communist Bulgaria using it as a toxic waste dump. I don’t know how much of that has been cleaned up but I suspect not that much, since both nations have had… issues getting functional systems going.

      • Exactly who had to power to hold the government responsible?? Only the government, which didn’t care about the environment. Cost too many rubles.

        • Precisely. The government ruled its subjects.

          I prefer a government that is employed by its citizens, something the current iteration in the US appears to be trying very hard to forget.

        • Not only that, but anyone who *did* raise the issue would have promptly found themselves in hot water with the government.

        • You’ll note even in the good ol’ USA, we managed a great environmental disaster caused by none other than the EPA. Who watches the watchmen indeed…

          • Ah, but the persons responsible for that disaster have all been appropriately punished: forced to take paid leave while the investigation proceeded and, in several cases, being forced to accept bonuses as much as 10% lower than their peers.

            • Nice work if you can get it (ie, spout the right BS and have the right friends).

              Not to mention even with those decreased bonuses they are making more than at least one bankster (me).

    • Grain shipments from the US to the USSR in the ’70s.

      Remind me again how awesome Communism is?

      • How terribly evil of the USA.
        The USA’s great enemy of the time…
        And what did the USA do?
        Feed them.

      • kenashimame

        The USSR went from being a net exporter of grains under the Tsars to a net importer under Stalin.

        Lenin’s little fable should be changed to: the last capitalist will sell the grain that keeps the hangman from starving to death.

  7. Bravo! Hear, hear! Thumbs up. Speaking of which, I’d love to share this on Facebook, but that doesn’t seem to be an option.

  8. Planned economies just give us the Trans-Siberian express. And its pervading smell of pee and misery.

    Right now the commuters on New York’s MTA wish they could have the smell of pee and misery. Instead they’re getting “The Summer of Hell” which, unlike the Summer of Recovery, actually is happening, actually will develop into the Autumn, Winter & Spring of Hell and which will continue for a decade at (probable) minimum.

    Riders describe chaos, panic after being trapped on smoke-filled subway
    Straphangers trapped on trains in a smoke-filled upper Manhattan subway tunnel as a result of a track fire described the “panic” that ensued Monday morning.

    “People were panicking,” said rider Gwen Hendrington, 53, of Harlem, who was treated at the scene by paramedics after getting stuck on a D train for about an hour.

    The 7:25 a.m. rubbish-fueled blaze on the track near 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem caused smoke to travel down the tunnel to 135th Street, officials said

    [SNIP]

    A straphanger who was stuck aboard another D train for about an hour said she initially feared the worst.

    “I immediately thought there was a terrorist attack,” said the woman, Jaqueline Trinidad, 54. “The MTA is having so many problems lately. They need to fix this.”

    Due to the track fire, B and C train service was completely suspended in both directions.

    [END EXCERPT]

    Related stories:
    MTA considers food ban to prevent track fires
    MTA crisis puts another dent in Cuomo’s approval rating
    MTA’s ‘Summer of Hell’ continues in full effect
    MTA boss apologizes for ‘unacceptable’ chaotic commute
    New trains for Hamptons crew means no AC for LIRR riders
    NY state is robbing the subways to buy Amtrak a new ‘home’
    Schumer blasts Amtrak for plan to cram more riders into cars
    MTA allegedly uses secret clean up crews to cover up accidents
    Subway rider wakes up to man peeing on her face
    Riders get stranded on subway after MTA messes it up again
    Subway riders unimpressed with MTA’s floor mat plan*
    Commuters get their first taste of MTA’s ‘Summer of Hell’

    That’s only the last ten days.

    *The MTA’s plan to combat subway delays has an underwhelming starting “point.”

    The agency recently installed floor mats with three arrows on them in two C trains.

    The MTA says it will get riders to move faster as they enter cars, but straphangers were not impressed.

    “The arrows encourage customers to move into the train and away from the doors in order to improve dwell times at stations,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said on Monday.

    • One additional note, for those concerned: Mayor Bill de Blasio will not be inconvenienced (directly) by the chaos below ground. he will continue to be able to take his daily 12-mile secured, armored convoy from Manhattan’s Gracie Mansion to the Park Slope YMCA gym in Brooklyn where he gets his daily workout and “stays in touch” with the sweaty masses.

    • > track fire

      Am I correct in assuming that the “track fire” was actually a “trash fire”?

      • I am not sure — my surmise had been a fire on the tracks caused by accumulated trash: “rubbish-fueled blaze on the track”.

        Presumably trash fires not on the subway tracks are not generally a cause for delay?

    • DeBlasio managed to make subways hit a new low. I’m so glad I live in suburban Dallas. It’s positively dystopian in NYC these days. Let me know if Snake Plissken shows up.

      • There are a lot of bridge and tunnel closings, road and rail, that they’ve scheduled this summer. Supposedly it is to allow construction and repair to take place, but maybe it is really to emplace the explosives so they can seal up New York. Only after that happens will Snake Plissken appear. Alas, Ernest Borgnine is not available to act as cabbie, but perhaps he can make use of Uber.

      • 𝙇𝙚𝙩 𝙢𝙚 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙞𝙛 𝙎𝙣𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙋𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙨𝙠𝙚𝙣 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙬𝙨 𝙪𝙥.

        He can’t, there’s no World Trade Center for him to land on. 😦

    • When they start having derailments due to vandalism, the 80’s will truly be back. In the worst way.

      That was a thing in the subways back then. I was once on a train that derailed because of debris left on the tracks.

  9. kenashimame

    c4c

  10. Some friends on facebook have passed around memes touting the end of money. In the near future, robots will make everything for us and we can just order anything we want, while we do whatever we want, as robots make it for us.

    My thought to this is that we’d get hungry as food became scarce. Farming is hard work, and without money, farmers would plant and harvest only as much as they liked. A few would continue planting their whole acreage out of habit, and they have brand new robot built combines to help them. A few would drop out entirely, happy to spend their days roping, shooting, writing cowboy poetry, or whatever appealed to them. Most would work some land – maybe fifty to hundred acres- partly for themselves, partly because driving their brand new robot-built combines was fun–if you were only working fifty acres.

    Us city people however would start to get hungry. Something would have to be done. If the current owner won’t plant his land, it can be taken from him and given to some one who will. That will help the food shortage. This has the curious effect that with or without money, a farmer will lose his land if he doesn’t work his ass off growing food for us city folk.

    Suppose you do break up the farms and get food production underway again. After a short period, food will become scarce again. Visiting the new farms, we would find deliveries of new combines way down. Instead of a week, people are waiting months.

    If we were to visit the robot combine factories, we’d find that instead of twenty mechanics taking care of the robot machinery, two mechanics trying to keep production going. They’d tell us the others either quit to do nothing, to build robot explorers for Mars or to work on monster trucks. In the engineering cubicles we’d find three engineers instead of four. One quit, whereabouts unknown. Two engineers are still there, but they are designing new space transportation systems to go to Mars. (They tried to work at NASA, but its SRO in the cubicles there.) Only one works on the robot machines to keep combine production going.

    Likewise, other robot factories were having problems. People kept quitting to do nothing, or go work on what they found fun. Flying cars, catamarans with foil sails, fancy suits of armor with feedback so they can hit their friends with sticks and not rely on an honor system to declare a winner. The number of projects is endless.

    Interestingly, the factories making firearms and ammo have more than enough workers and designers. They need them, because orders are way up…

  11. I have a similar tea pot/infuser that I bought at the Little Saigon market at Federal and Alameda for $15. No nice double-walled cups, and more of a coffee-pot form factor, but I keep it at the office and get a lot of use out of it. I do have some double-walled teacups at home. Also very nice, and we don’t burn fingers if the tea is hot.

  12. If I recall clearly from arguments had in my teen years, and from the pages I read yesterday, this would be met with the counter argument that it’s fairly well documented what humans need, and if you want stuff beyond that you’re a greedy capitalist and an environmental despoiler.

    My instinctive response to that is to hold both middle fingers aloft and invite the speaker to gaze upon them.

    My instinctive response is “why are you on a computer, that isn’t needed” then finding all their hobbies via social media and asking them to justify each one individually as a need until they block me as a way to say, “because shut up”.

    But that’s me and I’ve been in a fouler than usual mood laterly.

  13. Really, really in a bad mood. Read John Barnes’ fun romp, The Duke of Uranium. Enjoyed it. Started to read the next book in the series, A Princess of the Aerie.

    Horrible! One of the main characters of the first book, someone that the other characters have known for years, turns out to be, and always to have been, an abusive, sadistic psychopath. She tortures and rapes her best friends, the same ones who rescued her in the first book. It’s ridiculous, both as a change in tone and as a change in character. (Yes, I should have known something was stupid, when another character who had been all for democracy in the first book suddenly made a big speech on how Kings Are the Best Form of Government.)

    It is possible there is a story explanation for these things. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to know. You can have a series that has changes of tones in different books, but you don’t just lie to people or rewrite your entire story universe. (Unless you come right out and say that each book is an alternate universe, like R.M. Meluch’s Star Wolf books.)

    At least I didn’t pay for this crap. But there also weren’t any reviews on Amazon stating the obvious about this book, which was stunning to me. I know it’s an old series, but come on.

    • I feel the pain – I bailed on Barbara Hambly’s dragon series, after the second book. The first was a fun romp, with likable characters, peril, magic, sparkling conversation, an interesting human-dragon relationship … and the second (and the subsequent ones) just got sick, warped and ugly. I just felt … unclean, after reading the second. I’m almost afraid to read any more of her vampire series, lest it has gone the same way.

      • Oh, yeah, I remember that piece of stupidity. Bleeeeeagh. I know the woman likes bittersweet situations, but that wasn’t the way to do it.

        • I enjoyed Bujold until Cordelia went nuts in Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

          • Terry Sanders

            She didn’t go nuts. There was foreshadowing all through the series. She just finally got into a position where nobody could say “WTF?” and make it stick.

            Cordelia as RAH.

            • If not nuts then she was a grade a jerk. She slandered Aral’s memory. She was misandrist towards Jole and implied that he wasn’t “all he could be” (my words) until he was in a polyamorous affair with her and his CO (Aral). I really really hate writers who decide 20 years on that they are going to totally rewrite the nature of their character. I feel that Bujold in this book turned Cordelia a total slimy creep.

              • Hmmm. A lot of people do change over time. It seems rare that you get someone who remains a constant for several decades. Last weekend’s 40th high school reunion was an excellent illustration of those two conditions.

              • Yeah, that was what pissed me off the most. Okay, yeah Aral has always been bi…but as Cordelia commented waaaaay back in Barrayar “But I believe he’s monogamous now.”

                What pissed me off was the fact that Aral had an affair, period. Why would he do that when it was his first wife’s affair, and his own affair with Vorrutyer, that all but wrecked him? Why would he betray Cordelia that way (and I don’t care if Cordelia is Betan and wouldn’t be fussed, the point is that Aral isn’t Betan)?!

                I’d have been fine with the widowed Cordelia finding love again. That’s perfectly normal, and people can and should find love whatever their stage of adulthood. It was the background circumstances of it all that pissed me the hell off.

            • She’s Betan, knows Aral is bi and that Jole has fallen in love with Aral and vice versa. What do you think she’s going to do?

              Letting that secret out surprised and disappointed me, but not in that it had Cordelia changing character in any inexplicable way. It was that IMO it diminished the Aral/Cordelia relationship and love story.

              • Nope. Nope. And Nope. The problem isn’t Cordelia having a mildly ludicrous Mary Suens romance with a sweet young thing (as you point out there’s plenty of foreshadowing for that one) it’s ret-conning Aral into a dishonorable care-for-naught.

                Aside from playing slick Willy with an officer in your chain of command, there’s risking the fallout of everything you built and were building on the bloody Hell of yours and Ezars making just to get your nuts off. Remember, they HAD to keep it secret?

                And that don’t get me started on the ugly lie that the sexually different are necessarily amoral wankers. Faugh.

                • Terry Sanders

                  I never said she didn’t cause a septic overflow on everything she’d done up to then–just that she hadn’t brought any of it out of nowhere.

                  I found it just as disgusting as you, and for the same reasons. In addition, I pictured the process–twenty years (remember, Jole showed up *after* Miles had invented the Little Admiral) of “what’s the big deal” and “sexual ethics is a different category” and who knows what else. And none of it even deliberate–she was always written as someone who *knew* how right she was…

                • Early Bujold is all about sacrificing personal wants for the good of others, and about how commanders and administrators have to behave in ways that are smart, moral, and bind society together.

                  Later Bujold keeps sliding into “Find out what you want, and do it. And destruction is cool. Anybody who is in the way will conveniently die.”

                  • Terry Sanders

                    “You are Vor. You must not frighten your liege people with this display of uncontroll, Lord Vorkosigan.”

                    And then she started writing romances. Sigh.

                  • Going from parent with young children to empty nester syndrome will do that to you.

                    Sad to see someone tarnish their own earlier work but I guess writers are only human, too.

                    I had a similar reaction to Saberhagen taking a steaming dump over his own previous work, specifically the books in ‘Empire of the East’ with his later ‘Ardneh’s Sword’.

                    I seem to dimly recall it included some lightly veiled BDS, anti-neocon rants, and he essentially turned Ardneh in Steve Urkel with an extra helping of “Did I do that?”. Sad.

                • Not that uncommon though. Look at the number of military officers who were great in their early careers, and then threw it all away with an affair.

              • “[Aral] was bisexual. Now he’s monogamous.”

                I was distinctly annoyed about tossing that out the window, regardless of the gender of Aral’s other lover.

                • VERY annoyed.

                  • Cryoburn was the last in that series I read. I’m kind of thinking I’m glad now that I haven’t picked up anything that came out later.

                    • Lord Vorpatril’s Alliance was excellent, I thought.

                      Ivan isn’t an idiot…. he just sometimes thinks too fast

                    • I liked Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance and didn’t think it had anyone acting out of character. Admittedly these were mostly new or minor characters, so there wasn’t as much established about them, but I still thought it worked well with the established universe.

                      Gentleman Jole I can’t really judge fairly. I only read the first few chapters before I closed it for good. Part of that is just the stage of my life I was at (sitting in the waiting room while dealing with the complications of an ugly miscarriage is not the best time to read about the wonderful perfection of Betan reproductive technologies). However, a big part of the reason I haven’t picked it up again was the idea that (a) the fact that Aral is bi gives him licence to cheat as long as he does it with men, and (b) the fact that Cordelia is Betan means she’d be totally fine with that. That struck me as a slur on both their characters.

                    • Who cares that Aral was bi?

                      *Aral Vorkosigan* swore an oath of fidelity. I don’t think it’s even possible for him to consider breaking his word.

                    • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance (which was published after Cryoburn, but chronologically comes before it) is very good.

                • Thanks, couldn’t remember the quote and couldn’t look it up because the book’s at home (and while I adore my kindle, finding something easily in a given book is…problematic).

                  And yeah. Never did care that Aral was bi. What I do care about, very much, was that he was supposed to be monogamous.

                  I don’t know what the heck Bujold was thinking. Fortunately, she’s turned her attention back to her Five Gods series, and so far I really love the Penric and Desdemona novellas.

                  • Could she have tired of the series and this is her way of pushing it off the Reichenbach Falls ?

                    • You know, I think that might actually be it. I saw her at a con back in…2012, I think? And she mentioned something about feeling burnt out. She also did a reading from an as-yet-unpublished Miles story that was fun, but still mentioned at the end of it that she felt very stuck.

                      Which makes me sad, because Miles was what finally got me interested in scifi. But at least she’s still going strong on the Five Gods series. ::knock on wood::

                    • I’m not sure her fanbase is demanding enough to require a Reichenbach Falls event.

                    • I would have been happy with: “I have nothing else to write about Barrayar”. Or ” Ivan’s story was the last.” What she did makes want to throw out every book of hers that I have.

          • Or as I call it, “Convos with Cordy, A Frontier Romance.” Meh.

      • Dragonsbane, #1, is a good read. Dragonshadow, #2, takes the same characters into a horrid place. Knight of the Demon Queen, #3, takes them into the very depths of hell and leaves them there. Dragonstar #4 brings them back out again.
        I could stand this kind of journey in one book, but to stretch it out in a multi-book story without foreshadowing a happier ending is just too bleak for my taste.

      • The problem there was her grief overwhelming her usual good story sense. She managed to pulled something passable to finish off that series, but I still wish she’d left it a single standalone.

        It’s hell needing to eat and pay the rent, while dealing with tough emotional times.

      • Likewise here. The whole problem I think was that Dragonsbane didn’t need a sequel: it was that increasing rarity, a perfectly self-contained, self-sufficient, thematically complete single fantasy novel. And unlike a producer for unnecessary movie sequels, Hambly had to find a way to get herself emotionally interested in the characters again, which I suspect is a lot more difficult once you’ve moved on from them.

    • Actually, in the context of the universe her change in behavior does make sense. Remember, they all live by that “friends are useful until they aren’t and then they are worth screwing over” book they all live by. It’s ugly but there it is.

      The third kinda finishes that thinking and makes you see how damaged the whole culture is.

      • I’m guessing I don’t want to read Book 3, then.

        • Maybe, maybe not. It certainly sorts out most if not all of the main characters but leaves Jinx in his amoral state and finally a covert operative.

          I had really hoped for more books as a lot of the issues of the setting are unresolved.

          I very much enjoyed them personally but not everything is to everyone’s taste. The fact that how amoral some of the characters are doesn’t bother me probably reflects my views of humanity more than anything.

    • The short blurb on the back of the print version of A Princess of Aerie (sequel to The Duke of Uranium) pretty much warns of exactly that. It makes mention that the the characters bent on rescuing their friend find out she’s actually bought into the whole absolute power thing, and that they’ve got to escape from her clutches. At least it advertises it.

  14. Fun experiment. Get together a group of people, perhaps a dozen or so, including some of these “if you want stuff beyond that you’re a greedy capitalist and an environmental despoiler” types, and build a camp somewhere. The rules being, everyone is only allowed what they NEED. Any given thing can be excluded by… say… three people agreeing that that thing isn’t NEEDED. See how long the smug lasts.

    • Fun thought, but you are going about it wrong.

      It needs to be a reality TV show, and the voting on what is needed is done by the audience.

      Call it SURVIVOR: USSR Red China Yugoslavia Venezuela Cuba

      • Those stupid people they hire for all the historical shows seem to prove that, every time. I tune in, hoping they’ll finally have actual reenactors or somebody with sense, or that the games won’t be increasingly rigged. But nooooo.

        That Victorian immigrant workers show was particularly disgusting. They got a bunch of idiots with no useful skills to take the place of Victorians who might have been poor as dirt and new to the city, but who had plenty of skills. And then they created a bunch of ludicrous stacking of the deck games to simulate making money — which was basically sadism, given the sad sacks they’d picked to come on the show. Even these idiots were coming up with creative solutions to get around the stupid games; but the solutions for making money were usually disallowed.

        • Oops – thanks for reminding me to correct the typo:

          It needs to be a surreality TV show …

        • Wait – that was actually a thing?

          • Yup. Victorian Slum House.

            Most dangerous bit was having an amputee trade in his fitted modern prosthetic for a crappy Victorian prosthetic, and then making him tramp around London for miles and miles. Of course the guy hurt his stump. Duh.

  15. I remember reading a long time ago a bit about the government, time and efficiency experts, and shovels. I’m not quite sure how many types of shovels are sold, but there’s a lot. Grain shovels, coal shovels, spades, and snow shovels just off the top of my head. In varying sizes and shapes, well over a hundred different kinds. Totally inefficient says the experts, there’s no need for more then 5 or 6 types. Up until then, no one had actually designed a shovel, all the varying shovels had simply evolved. And shovels still aren’t designed, but they have been studied. I think the weight was 30 pounds or so, If you shove a coal shovel into a pile of coal and lift, there’s 30 lbs at the end of the shovel. Shove a grain shovel into a pile of grain, 30 lbs at the end. And that weight is what the average man shoveling hours a day could keep going with and throw or carry or dump where needed. A grain shovel into a coal pile and most can’t lift it. It couldn’t penetrate the pile anyway without a point. A coal shovel into a grain pile and you’ve got a ridiculously small amount of grain on the end. Turns out all those different types of shovels existed for a reason, so the government didn’t order everyone to use their new standardized shovels. Of course, that was in an era when common sense still ruled. If the question came up today I shudder to think what the shovel regulations would look like…

    • Well, given you need a regulation shovel to shovel what most regulations are…

    • Nowadays you’d have someone who invented the iOmnishovel2.0(TM) spend a few million schmoozing Congressmen to get a rider put into the next funding bill that required everyone to use an iOmnishovel2.0(TM) for all their lifting and digging needs.

  16. Doubting Rich

    “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”

    It recently struck me that this is a very succinct description of slavery.

    • If another person is deciding what ability and need are, yes it is.

      If the deciding party has superhuman and/or supernatural knowledge and abilities, that’s recent SF and fantasy, respectively. *cough*Culture*cough*.

  17. ” I ordered a new form of the percolator”
    I bought one of those weird Maldoni coffee pot from Amazon not reading the fine print, so pose to makes three cups. I get the box from Amazon and open to fine to my amazement this tiny little pot, barely wholes six oz of water, when back and read the fine print on the Amazon page, it make three two ounces cups. I’m keeping the pot and filing this under Europeans are weird.

    • Maybe it’s for espresso. Or Turkish coffee. I love those teensy tiny china teacups that they put Turkish coffee in, if you go somewhere that serves it.

      I like Turkish coffee, btw. (Although if you go to the Egyptian festival, they’ll tell you it’s Egyptian coffee.) Probably has more antioxidants, given that you get all those grounds in it. My dad doesn’t know where he went wrong, because he was stationed in Turkey and never liked Turkish coffee. Probably I like it because they use so much sugar… but hey, it’s usually a lot better tasting roast than Starbuck’s gives you.

      • For Turkish coffee (or Greek coffee, or Bosnian Coffee, which all seem exactly the same to me), I prefer it without sugar in the coffee itself. Instead, I get baklava or creamy walnut cake or other wonderfully sweet dessert, and have all my sugar on my fork with coffee to cut the sugar in sips inbetween.

        • A tiny wedge of baklava and a doppio espresso with a twist of lemon rind is just about perfect.

        • I miss baklava. There was this tiny little kebab place not far from where I live that sometimes had the most incredible baklava that I have ever had. It closed a few years ago. Since then, every where I have gotten baklava it has been s#!t. Oh, my friends wonder what I’m talking about because they think it’s fine, but no… after having the baklava from that kebab place, baklava from everywhere else just seems bad. sigh…

          • There’s a little tiny hole-in-the-wall cafe right off the nearest air force base that has baklava spiced with clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and uses local honey in all its strongly-scented mesquite flower glory. Oh, my stars and garters, it’s good.

  18. Oh, and new things never get created. Because what’s the point of coming up with a beautiful little glass teapot — and four cups — if you can only distribute them to yourself and your friends? after all, it’s not NEEDED.

    “Socialist realism” should say all that needs to be said about the arts when somebody decides whether or not it’s “needed” (mind you the “showpieces” aimed at the rest of the world to show how very great socialism is–“come on in, the water’s fine” is very much “needed” but for general domestic consumption? You’ll take what we give you comrade and like it).

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

    • So, if you only have what is needed, what happens to art?

    • If you only get what you need, you’ll live on the edge of survival for the rest of your short miserable life. One could say that all a human needed was the absolute minimum required for survival.

  19. A few days ago I re-read Jack Williamson’s “The Reefs of Space.” It was printed in the 1960s, but reads more like something from the 1930s. Anyway…it takes place in a society that has relatively high technology, and space flight, and colonies in the asteroid belt, Jovian moons, and Oort cloud. But it’s a totalitarian society run by a Planning Computer and an appointed bureaucracy, which was set up after an unspecified ecological disaster, to keep as much of humanity alive as possible through the hard times. But it’s an Orwellian surveillance society, and for all its accomplishments, it’s dirt-poor, and starting to eat its own… but the citizenry *believes* in it with all their hearts, because it’s all they know, and badthink means a quick trip to the organ banks.

    It is, frankly, not a very good story. But the backstory, though we only get glimpses of it, had me nodding and mumbling. It reads like a Progressive’s wet dream of power and control.

    • One of the short stories in Asimov’s “I, Robot” featured a centrally planned economy being run by a computer. Various manufacturers (who happen to be opposed to a computer-run economy) are producing quantities that don’t fit with the amount needed by the economy, but they insist that they’re producing exactly what the computer told them to produce. The obvious conclusion is that they’re lying.

      But Dr. Susan Calvin instead advances the theory that they’re being honest, and that the computer has decided to drive its critics out of business by telling them production numbers that it knows will cost them more money than they can afford to lose.

      That story always bugged me in ways that I suspect it didn’t bug Asimov.

      • “But, it’s only the System establishing the greatest good for the greastest number, exactly as designed!”

        Asimov never said much about his political or social beliefs that I’ve come across, but I expect he wasn’t too far from the Fabian/scientocracy idea that so many of his contemporaty SF writers subscribed to then. His Foundation stories certainly were in line with that, anyway.

      • I think you missed part of that story. Unless, of course, I’ve combined two different stories in my mind – always a possibility. The bad orders from the computer were done in order to cause society at large to distrust the planning computer, so they would move away from using it all the time. The computer had determined that by relying on it, humans were becoming stagnant, and were going to die out if they continued to rely on it.

  20. Oh, Sarah: one-use tossable paper tea filters, so you don’t have to worry about an infuser…

    https://www.amazon.com/T-Sac-Filter-Disposable-Infuser-Capacity/dp/B001BLCIN4/

    I dislike going back to an infuser now, because I forgot just how much tea leaf dust and tiny bits these things catch and keep out of the bottom of my mug.

    And yes, who’da thought of these fifteen years ago? But now they’re easily available, and I don’t even have to get ’em in restaurant supply quantities like a cafe uses for tea in their to-go cups. I love capitalism!

  21. Very slightly related… anybody know of a coffee pot that will automatically set the clock when you lose power?

    Preferably that is also programmable and holds the program?

  22. For a lot of stuff that doesn’t eat a ton of power, multiple small UPS’ are the ticket. When I lived in a house I had a few of them scattered about ranging in power between 250VA and 450VA. The 250 was for the cable modem, wifi router, and one small reading lamp. The 450 was at the other end of the house for the TiVo and the router configured as a bridge so that I got a good signal at that end of the house as well as a lamp. (By then I’d retired the desktops. The laptops had their own batteries and thus only needed a good surge suppressor.)

    The two lamps plus a scattering of night lights with battery backup helped me not accidentally kill myself during the frequent short outages. (I started with one in a long hallway. I quickly decided that the bathrooms and kitchen each desperately needed one.)

  23. Sex advice from a pajamas-wearing white Mormon male (albeit, one with a great rack):

    Not Enough Sex? Stop Having Threesomes With the Government
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Everyone who has tried them tells me threesomes are difficult. And anyone can imagine that threesomes with the government are the most difficult of all. Suddenly it’s no longer a matter of whose elbow is in whose eye, but a matter of whose legal rights are getting stripped, which way the courts lean, and who is likely to lose his parental privileges and, likely, his liberty or at the very least his wealth.

    Which is why I find it absurdly rich of CNN (All the news fit to fake) to wonder why American couples are having less sex than they were 20 years ago.

    The article disingenuously roots around for an answer (so to put it, to coin a phrase) and comes up with several. It’s not that they’re wrong – precisely – it’s more that they determinedly ignore what is at the back of those obvious causes of the – ah – dry spell enveloping Americans.

    RTWT

    And Sarah — if you don’t start doing a better job of flogging these I’m gonna make puns.

  24. “There must be a glitch in the human software that makes otherwise intelligent people think this is an amazing idea.”

    I think it was Hayek who pointed out that Communism and Socialism are not Progressive and Futuristic at all… they are atavistic. They are the way hunter-gatherer tribes generally operate: run by a strong charismatic dictator (probably with a mustache) and where if Bob has more mammoth meat than everyone else it is because he took more than his fair share of the kill. But I’m not sure it is a ‘glitch’ as much as it might be a ‘safe-mode’. Perhaps it is beneficial in some way that if you strand a small group of humans from any background together in a stressful situation they immediately default to all having the same assumptions about how they should organize themselves, and that it is not a bad way for the group to operate to deal with emergencies* (listen to the strongest, most authoritative sounding man, and share resources).

    The problem occurs when people keep being drawn into operating in this atavistic “safe mode” when it is not appropriate.

    *After seeing the TV show Lost I wanted to write a story about a similar crash but where one member of the plane keeps his mind in the American mode of thought… and had a carry pistol in his checked baggage. His refusal to go into “safe mode” and behave the way you are “supposed to” in an emergency: to listen to the Strong Man when he has a stupid idea, or concede that he has to abide by what either loudmouths or majorities tell him to do, and especially to turn over his gun to the collective turns man against nature into man against men against nature.

    • IIRC the Tribal Strong Man wasn’t an Absolute Leader but had to listen to “lesser” Strong Men in the Tribe.

      Of course, if he obviously failed, the tribe would support one of the “lesser” Strong Men instead of him.

      I didn’t watch “Lost” so I can’t comment on it.

    • A bit like what i think of as Russian Peasant Agriculture, although the mind-set is not restricted to Russians or peasants. Landowner tries to introduce new, high-yield techniques and crops. Serfs and peasants refuse to touch the stuff, because it is too risky. New, unknown crops take land from old crops, and if they fail, then everyone starves. They know what works, and while the yields are terribly low, the are yields, even in really bad years. So the landlords had to 1) force their serfs to try the new things and the serfs sometimes sabotaged the new crops or 2) they hired outsiders to come in and grow the new crops and use new techniques.

      • Ah, Volga Germans.

        Having a test environment, and not moving your untested changes directly into production really are good practices.

        • Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

          That’s what sank Vavilov’s team, BTW. They had that grand idea to grow girasole. After all, it’s generally awesome – hardy, doesn’t degrade the soil for a long while and healthy – though not without caveats.
          The problem is, it’s not stored as easily as potato or grain.
          Which is why switching a collective farm to the stuff without first testing every stage and properly preparing to deal with it… didn’t end well. Oops. Right when Uncle Joe enforced “give me results” principle.
          So this failure counted against them and soon the rivals ate them. Which is how Lysenko & Co. clawed their way to the position where they could exercise their own grand ideas, that is spread their stupid scam. More oops.

  25. Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

    > It never seems to occur to them that in that type of economy someone has to decide what you need, and there is no room for what you want. (There is always room for the deciders’ wants, of course.)
    If it’s curable, “The Yawning Heights” may help, as it cuts open this issue (and some others). Alas, this symptom is often accompanied by vivid hallucinations about how THEY ARE NOT FOOLS™ and thus must appreciate the patient’s cute little voice in the choir, in which case this may be not curable, after all.

  26. Sarah, your writing is inspirational. Thank you for choosing to become an American. May more of us who were born here make the same choice.

  27. <…something someone posted in a private FB group about how young “expensively educated” youths think capitalism should be abolished, and the government should just make the things we need as efficiently as possible (I’m ignoring the idiot who thought each person should make the things he/she needs. Because eff you Jean Jacques Rosseau. That’s why.) and distribute them…

    This reminds me of one nagging nitpick I have with Lucifer’s Hammer. When the Russian Cosmonaut was telling the American Astronaut that it was more efficient to have one source for a given item (in this case, calculators), instead of the American system of letting many companies provide the same product. I thought they missed out on an opportunity to point out that without competition, there is little to no incentive to innovate.

    I know, it’s a minor nit, but it always bugged me.

  28. “something someone posted in a private FB group about how young “expensively educated” youths think capitalism should be abolished, and the government should just make the things we need as efficiently as possible”….some of the best responses to this kind of thinking were written by Rose Wilder Lane, about 80 years ago.

    “Nobody can plan the actions of even a thousand living persons, separately. Anyone attempting to control millions must divide them into classes, and make a plan applying to these classes. But these classes do not exist. No two persons are alike. No two are in the same circumstances; no two have the same abilities; beyond getting the barest necessities of life, no two have the same desires.Therefore the men who try to enforce, in real life, a planned economy that is their theory, come up against the infinite diversity of human beings. The most slavish multitude of men that was ever called “demos” or “labor” or “capital” or”agriculture” or “the masses,” actually are men; they are not sheep. Naturally, by their human nature, they escape in all directions from regulations applying to non-existent classes. It is necessary to increase the number of men who supervise their actions. Then (for officials are human, too) it is necessary that more men supervise the supervisors.”

    and

    “If he wants to do good (as he sees good) to the citizens, he needs more power. If he wants to be re-elected, he needs more power to use for his party. If he wants money, he needs more power; he can always sell it to some eager buyer. If he wants publicity, flattery, more self-importance, he needs more power, to satisfy clamoring reformers who can give him flattering publicity.”

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/35432.html

  29. Also from Rose Wilder Lane….when she visited the Soviet Union in the 1920s, she was still a Communist. In Russian Georgia, the villager who was her host complained about the growing bureaucracy that was taking more and more men from productive work, and predicted chaos and suffering from the centralizing of economic power in Moscow. At first she saw his attitude as merely “the opposition of the peasant mind to new ideas,” and undertook to convince him of the benefits of central planning. He shook his head sadly.

    “It is too big – he said – too big. At the top, it is too small. It will not work. In Moscow there are only men, and man is not God. A man has only a man’s head, and one hundred heads together do not make one great big head. No. Only God can know Russia.”

  30. I cheerfully admit that when it comes to tea, I’m happy with Twinnings, or Lipton – Twinnings has Russian Caravan that I find delightfully nostalgic for me, while Lipton has some yummy green tea; and black tea blends that I like brewing up a huge 1.2 liter carafe of – yes, hot – and find delightful to drink even when cold.

    The filter is a nice fine mesh. I got it from:
    http://www.t2tea.com/en/au/Home

    They MIGHT ship to the US, I’m not sure.

    They also do a number of nice blends, and matcha blends.

    As for that poor little boy in the UK… it’s no longer about humanity, or mercy, or finances, or reason, but ESTABLISHMENT OF AUTHORITEH.

    My heart breaks for his parents.

  31. David L. Davies

    Sarah, please don’t say ‘train line’. It is ‘railway line’. Trains are vehicles which run on railway lines.

    • Translation, when I’m sleepy I struggle for ANY words, so I’m not going to make any promises. The other day I needed one of the guys to go flip the breaker switch in the box, and all I could say was “I need you to flip the thing in the thing.” Which is why I had to go show them, and was too sleepy to remove my slippers, so I slipped on gravel and twisted my ankle.
      I appreciate the correction, but no promises.

    • So, when all the train cars are lined up in the yard, awaiting loading and assignment to trains, what is that then?