I enjoyed most of the talks at TVIW, but two were social sciences talks, and somewhat puzzling as most social sciences are these days.  Not because I don’t understand them, but because they make you scratch your head and go “what are they teaching kids in the indoctrination centers these days?”

One of them purported to prepare us for the reaction to new technology by studying the “trajectory of over-enthusiasm about nukes generating the resistance and irrational opposition to them.”

I sat in the audience growing increasingly more baffled.  This man had studied the original sources, at least theoretically, and he had put up some cute posters using “nuclear” as we now use quantum, but he was talking around the elephant in the room.

You see, I had read original sources too, and while there was a period (long before the atomic bomb) when we were convinced (we as a civilization, I wasn’t even born) that radiation cured everything, there never was a period when people thought the atomic bomb was good for you.

Almost from the very beginning, the relief that it ended the war was coupled with “it can kill the world.” and in fact early on we got all the opposition, the demonstrations, the insistence on unilateral disarmament.  Heck, Heinlein himself was convinced early on that having nuclear arsenals would eventually lead to mutual destruction.  (Though he was never an idiot who asked for unilateral disarmament.)

Almost from the beginning anything “nuclear” was subjected to a process of demonization we have since come to see in “anything the left opposes.” Including but not limited to stopping illegal immigration or the importation of Muslim “refugees” or guns… or…

In fact, as this man pointed out, nuclear anything was so perfectly demonized that we don’t have the perfectly safe and effective nuclear power plants we could have.  Of course we still have the bombs, because again not all of us are zany enough to believe in one-sided disarmament.

Afterwards I approached and pointed out to him that most of the overreaction was not because people had been crazy about nuclear everything,b ut because — and yes, we DO know this — the soviet union was deploying its not inconsiderable propaganda machine to oppose nukes and try to convince the US to unilaterally disarm.

He told me, yes, some documents (like all of them, never mind) pointed that way.  But how could you convince people if you just told them that was the truth.  Wouldn’t it be easier to get them to understand nuclear power was safe if you painted it as an over reaction.

Uh. No.  On account of it’s not the truth.  You don’t actually cure a lie by telling another lie.  You don’t cure a misconception by creating another misconception and trying to activate a wholly imaginary mechanism.

You tell people “Yes, you were taken in.  Almost everyone was taken in.  BUT it was not the truth, it was enemy action.  Look, France wasn’t subjected to that kind of propaganda and gets most of its energy from nuclear power.  And it hasn’t imploded.”

You don’t tell them “yes, but your reaction is an over-reaction to to the enthusiasm people first felt.”  Because frankly it doesn’t take much digging to realize there was never crazy enthusiasm for nuclear bombs/power.

This is akin to what I call “diagnosing mental problems people don’t have” which was a very popular entertainment in the seventies.  Take me, for instance, I’m afraid of driving.  I know perfectly well why: my eyes suck and are getting increasingly sucky with age.  And my reflexes have always sucked.  Also I was raised in a culture where only the exceptionally coordinated people were supposed to drive.  If you tell me those, I can at least try to deal with them (no marked success so far.)  But if — as people did with everything in the 70s — you tell me “you are afraid to drive, because you’re afraid of orgasms” I’m going to roll my eyes, laugh and ignore you.

But beyond its being really easy to debunk, there’s something worse with making up this theory, so people can more easily buy into nuclear power or nuclear powered rockets, or whatever: it’s a lie.

I don’t care if it’s a lie for useful purposes.  I don’t care if it’s a lie for a good cause.  It’s a lie.  It’s as much of a lie as “if you don’t make war on the Soviet union they’ll be peaceful.”

Lies internalize the wrong idea of the world in your head, and make it impossible for you to react to the real world.  Step by step, they diminish your chances of surviving…. anything.

This is why you shouldn’t lie.  This is particularly why you shouldn’t lie to the young.  If you invent wholly non-existent social mechanisms and psychological movements to explain something that you know happened for other reasons, you’re making it impossible for people to find the truth and function in reality.

Sure, it’s a tough pill to swallow to know that entire on the whole well-intentioned movements of people protesting nuclear war were not the humanitarians they thought they were, but mere USSR stooges.

It’s particularly tough if you or someone you loved was one of those people.

But it’s also the truth, and as such something people must know to inoculate against future agit-prop of that kind.

Sometimes the truth is unpalatable, and telling it will get people mad at you.  And yet, you must still tell it, because without the truth you have nothing but a growing fog of lies that will kill you as surely as any bomb or any enemy.

There are enough wrong guesses and misguided theories whose authors don’t know they’re not telling the truth.  Don’t add to them with intentional lies and misguided theories in the name of saving someone’s feelings.

Feelings be d*mned.  The truth can save their lives.  Or humanity.


  1. In recent years, I’ve started living my life by the principle, “If you lie to me, you are trying to do me harm. I will therefore consider you an enemy from now on, and you will NEVER regain my trust.” (Note: that means intentional lying. Telling me falsehoods because you’ve been deceived by them doesn’t count.) Case in point: MSNBC and their deceptive editing out of a black guy’s face and hands when they were trying to portray him as racist for protesting Obama. (He was open-carrying a rifle, perfectly legally, at the time.) Or NBC’s deceptive editing of the George Zimmerman 911 call to make an innocent interchange sound racist.

    I also think that parents would be wise to teach their children that lying is one of the worst sins you can commit. “Okay, Johnny, because you disobeyed me and played video games before you did your homework, your video game privileges are revoked for one day. And because you lied to me about it, your game privileges are revoked for an extra three days.” Always make the punishment for lying worse than the punishment for the crime itself, and sometimes, if the child forthrightly admits to what he/she did, you might remit the sentence. “Normally I’d take away your video games for a day for that, but at least you were honest about it and admitted it right away. So I’ll only take them away for four hours. After supper, you can play for half an hour before you go to bed. Now go finish your homework.”

    1. That was my parent’s policy, and mine too – confess, and the punishment will be lighter. Works well, so long as you are quite certain of what the truth is. (Being mistaken can be very counterproductive.)

      Later, you need to get into “Always tell the truth – as you see it.” And “Don’t be a prick with the truth as you see it.” And “Argue truth only when it’s actually important (to you, them, or others).”

      The particular incident here is a slam-dunk, but “truth” does get complicated…

      1. Having girls, we had to go into the “is it true? Will it upset someone if you say it? Does it need to be said anyways?” thing.

          1. Girls are more verbally gifted and therefore more tempted? I know I was. My dad got… downright shirty about it. So I had to write, so I could tell lies harmlessly.

          2. Boys are more likely to get into physical pushing matches– girls are more likely to get into verbal ones.

            Content doesn’t change, but need for it to be taught does.

        1. Craig Ferguson’s three questions: 1) Does this need to be said? 2) Does this need to be said by me? 3) Does this need to be said by me now?

          Three marriages it took him to learn that. Three.

      2. Works well, so long as you are quite certain of what the truth is. (Being mistaken can be very counterproductive.)

        Thankfully, if you start this early, it’s usually pretty easy to tell when the kid is lying: most 3- or 4-year-olds suck at lying. E.g., Mom: “Johnny, did you eat the chocolate cake I told you not to eat?” Johnny: “Umm… no?” (with visible smears of chocolate frosting around his mouth). And by the time they’re old enough that they could come up with a lie that would fool you, they’ve also learned that you really mean it when you say that you’ll punish lying more harshly than if they had simply admitted the truth about their disobedience.

        (Though I’ll readily admit that this is all still theoretical for me, and I’ve heard from many people that parenting advice from people without kids is usually worth LESS than what they paid for it. So if I’m wrong, I welcome correction.)

        1. Robin, parenting advice from people WITH kids can be worth less than you pay for it.

          Things like the logistics of diaper bag packing – yes, useful. Raising them to be a contributing citizen – every last kid is different. I don’t know a single other parent that hasn’t said after kid #1 that they’ve got this thing down, now. Ha!

          You’re never absolutely positive, either. I’m pretty darn sure that I’ve succeeded on the “truth” front – but as far as I know, one or more of them might be running a political campaign behind my back…

          1. The Universe (or $DEITY if you prefer, but it might best you not) has a sense of humor. Unfortunately, it’s a rather perverse, if/when not outright evil, sense of humor.

    2. And then the most important piece: the parent needs to back it up by not lying to the child whenever a slightly uncomfortable topic comes up. Which as far as I can tell is the Typical Parent(tm)’s favorite pastime.

      (slight exception for “lies” that are actually lessons to not believe everything you hear.)

      1. It’s intellectual pride, of the bad kind, not to be able to say, “I don’t know,” “We’ll talk about that when you’re older,” “I don’t want to talk about that,” or “That’s none of your business.”

        Of course, there is a deep instinct for older people to teach kids, just as kids have a deep instinct to demand answers. Some adult answers are not kid-friendly. But yeah, lying to kids (as opposed to playing games with kids while giving out game signals) is wrong. Sometimes the trick is to figure out exactly how much they need to know and can process.

        My parents also used to be able to promise that we’d look it up or get a book about it. Depending on the subject, we were allowed to absorb quite a lot of adult-level info. Nowadays, the Internet’s information resources are often not kid-friendly, even on neutral topics.

        1. My parents once said, ‘That’s none of your business right now. We will explain things later.” (It had to do with a very sensitive medical situation involving a neighbor, one easily misunderstood by 7-8 year old kids.) They did explain several years later, when it became our business. That’s about the only good exception I can think of, and it was the only time my folks said that.

          1. My folks had a similar way of it. “That’s not our (or my) story to tell.” Usually followed up by “Why don’t you ask them yourself?” It’s how I got to know my neighbor, who could barely speak his vocal chords were so damaged, was an absolutely *avid* ham radio guy. He loved anything electronic, but radio was his go-to.

            With my own godson, there are things I know, but which aren’t my business to tell him about. There’s plenty else that he’s asked that I rather think he might’ve regretted asking somewhat (the discussion of what “economics” is, as simplified but clear as I can make it, was one), but the only answers other than “here’s what I know” and “let’s see if we can’t find out” (usually someone in the family has the knowledge/experience, or knows someone who does) are the ones that are personal or confidential enough that I’ve either been asked not to discuss the matter or it touches on things considered private… And things considered “private” was another long conversation (his closest cousin, almost sibling, has a facebook account. *That’s* what started that one).

        2. My standard answer to the boys on matters sexual or otherwise confusing was “I’ll tell you when you’re forty or I’m dead.”
          The other day they pointed out that they now know all those answers, and I never told them. I said “Case in point.”

      2. Eh.
        I shamelessly lie to my kids. They believed in Santa, the tooth fairy, and Batman. I think they still believe that their great-grandparents are watching over them. It’s sometimes good to believe in things you can’t prove.

        Granted, I generally give them an actual answer, but they’re more impressed by tales of a horrible disease that makes you turn purple before all your toes fall off. No guesses as to which answer got them to wash their hands without nagging. (For a few days, at least.)

        Not to mention that the fastest way turn off their attention is to trigger the “oh look, Dad is trying to teach us something” reflex. Fantastical stories, they’ll listen to. Me geeking out about a topic, they won’t.

        1. Huh, I must be Odd. “Fantastic” stories were.. dull. But geekery? That was interesting.

          *Pause a moment to ponder what & who he is.*

          Alright, maybe I’m not the best to comment thereon. There might some sort of inversion or something going on.

          1. Indeed. That’s an example I try to live up to whenever I talk to children. Probably thankfully (at least by their parents), I don’t get to talk to children all that often these days…

          2. My favorite was the one about b&w photographs:

            And, yes, I told my son that one. He believed it for the space of at least a week.

        2. My kids after a while would turn and ask “Mom, is that true?”

          My eldest just had that happen to him…

          One of the other things you have to teach is skepticism. Your methods may vary.

      3. “the parent needs to back it up by not lying to the child whenever a slightly uncomfortable topic comes up.”

        This is one of the ways the schools are screwing up. Oh, they lie to kids routinely about history and the like, but there’s a time bomb hidden in there. Because they also lie about Confidentiality. And the kids know it. And then the schools (and the governments) promulgate policy based on the answers to ‘confidential’ questions.

        We are routinely told that smoking is down among teens. I see more teens smoking than I ever did when I was one. Maybe that’s is down is telling teachers anything.

        Every time I read that teen this or teen that is lower, I remember a story I was told by a young friend of mine. His school passed out a questionnaire about emotions, and swore that the answers would be confidential. So he wrote about his depression (that was being treated privately and largely successfully through his parent auspices) and all of a sudden, his school (no staff Psychologist) was inserting itself into the mix. Happily his father was a lawyer, and scared them off.

        He also told me that he no longer tells the school a goddamned thing, and just won’t answer ‘confidential’ questions.

        Smart kid.

        1. I see more teens smoking than I ever did when I was one. Maybe that’s is down is telling teachers anything.

          Maybe it’s because I live in the tobacco capital of the country (so it was more accepted), but I saw far more teens smoking in the 70s and 80s than i do today. Unless you want to count vaping, but that’s somewhat different.

      4. Another exception for “lies” that are simplifications of a complex concept, with the subtleties to be taught later. E.g., the “solar system” model of how an atom’s electrons “orbit” its nucleus is mostly wrong, but it’s still a useful model for teaching kids about atomic physics when they’re not yet ready to handle the concepts of quantum mechanics. It’s not lying to your kids to say “Here’s how it works,” but leave out some of the more complicated details for now. (Though it might be wise to say, “Here’s the basics of how it works, and I’ll explain the REALLY complicated details later.” That might even be an incitement to learning for some kids: if you say, “Well, for the rest of it you need to know calculus to be able to understand the explanation,” that might help motivate a kid to get through his math classes faster so he can get to the interesting parts. Even though I’ve never personally met any kids who love science but not math, I’m sure they exist.)

        1. *raises hand* I loved math up until I hit calculus. Then I bounced HARD. Still love science and try and wade through physics and upper end stuff. I have irritated a number of teachers by jumping ahead of physics CONCEPTS, they thought required the math to explain when all the math does is describe what’s going on in a language other than English. Then fumbled with the math. (Note: I bulled through the calculus because I needed it for Geology. I did better with it in Geology than physics, but that was because the professors would babble on in pure math and drop maybe a word or two about what the math was describing and the textbook wasn’t much better, where as in geology they’d babble on about fault lines and techtonics then mention how to calculate the forces.)

          1. Many years ago there was an article in Science News (when it was still about news and science) on mathematics teaching. “Mathematics is too important for it to be taught by mathematicians.” stood out. I rather felt that way myself, just then. The student needs to be ready (A place where I admittedly failed – I later seemed to surprise a dept, head by telling him I really did need to re-take a course I’d passed – passing is not the same as comprehension, no matter what the tests might claim.) sure, but the material needs proper explanation. For some, the “beauty” of the expressions and such might be enough. For others, a utility is desired.

            If a mechanic is shown a new tool, the way to ‘sell’ that tool is to show how it is used and what problems s/he has it solve or make more easily solved. It is not to go on about how great it looks. Too much mathematics teaching feels like Screwdriver Worship. And yes, I know, the “useless” math eventually winds up having some great use. See: binary computation and logic.

            One thing left out, at least in my experience, is that much is either turned from “impossible” to “possible” but not necessarily “easy” and much of the rest is turned from “really damned hard” to merely “damned hard.” The seas do not become calm, but they are at least made navigable.

            1. I am totally opposed to any Screwdriver Worship that does not involve freshly squeezed Orange Juice and a premium vodka.

              It is not true that a Phillips Screwdriver involves Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia. It should involve only 1 part vodka of good breeding and 3 parts Orange Julius Sunny Delight® orange juice.

              1. I am curious as to how you rate vodkas. There are some I wouldn’t use even to clean tape heads. And then there’s the stuff I’ll use to mix when they aren’t the primary taste (Svedka seems reasonable for that). When I feel an urge to do something where the vodka has to shine, I’m currently partial to Belvedere.

                1. I do not rate vodka, as all spirits have much the same effect on me: they put me quite quickly* to sleep. It seems a waste of money to drink, so I eschew.

                  I have, nonetheless, certain principles by which I abide, and ne’er forgoing the opportunity for jesting is one of them.

                  *An unfortunate effect of having sleep apnea and being chronically underslept, even when using the prescribed air compressor.

              2. Now I’m wondering about that Orange Julius….. Do you just pour it in right there in DQ, or do you try to keep the Orange Julius slushy until you get it home?
                Also, how does it work with a Strawberry Julius?

                1. I found several recipes for DIY Orange Julius at home. How closely they approximate the real thing I cannot say. Search for Orange Julius Screwdriver.

            2. What bugged me most, is I got the Screwdriver Worship (Probably closer to Small Toolbox Worship) in the Physics class , with the physics parts as an afterthought.

            3. Both my kids hated Trig and love calculus. I stopped at pre calc (for reasons having little to do with me, and more to do with when and where) but I LOVED trig with an unholy passion. I wonder if that means I’ll hate calc?

              1. I doubt it. I suspect it’s about presentation more than anything. As long as you can see it as useful (or do like it just for what it is) it’s not likely to be loathed.

    3. Since lies are known falsehoods, I try to differentiate between a deliberate falsehood and a bad information. Those who sell propaganda they know is false are liars; those to repeat it in good faith are deceived. Using the news as an example, there’s been demonstrated falsehoods so many times I wonder why they bother with reporters.

      The odd thing is I can see how someone who did only superficial research would have thought the nuclear = bad mem came across as an oversell. Yet I suspect that if the most notable early use of electricity was the electric chair and not lighting, we’d be using gas appliances today. But there was already some misgivings, not from oversell, but misuse and ignorance. The Radium Girls were old news long before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as were ill effects from the misuse of radioactivity from things such as radium pills. But even then we had uranium glazed ceramics (I’m looking at you, Fiestaware), and what came in the aftermath of Fat Man and Little Boy was unanticipated (my old barber was with the first Allied troops into Nagasaki, and he told how he developed white spots on his legs and suffered hair loss). The nearly forgotten Hiroshima Maidens brought to the US for plastic surgery were a sensation at the time, and so forth and so on. Once you know about the pre-WWII history of the public and radioactivity, and the shock at fall-out, it’s easy to see that the hard sell was an effort to overcome public opposition. You don’t have to do a hard sell for what people already favor.

      That’s probably why Soviet propaganda fell on fertile ground, because you can’t con someone unless they already lean in that direction. The propaganda precisely fit what many were already uneasy about and were quite willing to believe.All the Soviets really would have had to do was a little agitation here and a little propaganda there, then sit back and watch the fun.

      1. I’ve read that Edison built the electric chair to demonstrate the danger (DANGER) of Tesla’s alternating current.

        1. Edison also electrocuted a very large elephant in a public spectacle for the same purpose. He was a pretty nasty guy.

          1. Edison filmed it. The video is on YouTube. And there’s a Wikipedia page now, under “Topsy.”

              1. Isn’t Robert the son who adores elephants? Did he read the Dr Dolittle books or were they too simple for him.?

        2. He wanted to call death by electric chair Westinghousing. But by this time electricity was already in use in places for lighting and for industrial uses.

          I do know some had fear of electric lines. I also know of a woman who contacted the power company when the bulb burst on the drop cord, and she was afraid the room was filling with electricity.

          For a party, Benjamin Franklin wanted to electrocute and barbecue a turkey using electricity. Instead, he almost electrocuted himself. He was a bit ashamed of the incident/

          1. On a slightly related note, I just remembered that you’re a good person to ask about something I’ve wondered for a while. Since power companies use AC rather than DC for long-distance power transmission, I assume there’s an advantage to it (because if DC was advantageous, they’d use that instead). So what’s the advantage of AC over DC, from the power company’s point of view?

            1. The long distance transmission thing is what really killed Edison’s DC power campaign. DC is OK for short distances, but you just can’t make it work as a nationwide power distribution system.

              1. There is some degree of high-voltage DC (HVDC) long distance transmission now, but it relies upon technology that was developed 50-100 years after the AC-DC wars.

              2. DC is OK for short distances, but you just can’t make it work as a nationwide power distribution system.

                Why? What advantages does AC have over DC in long distances? I’m a complete novice when it comes to electricity; I need the elementary basics explained to me. I’ve done some Googling, but the only sites I’ve turned up so far just say “AC is used because it’s better”, taking several paragraphs of useless verbiage to do so without ever explaining why.

                Except for one site, which did go into a few details, saying “AC is easier to transform to different voltages than DC is”. I know that high voltage is used because the transmission loss is less at high voltage, so that would be one reason why AC is used, but why is that transmission loss less at those high voltages? (Which is not the same as “lossless”. 🙂 ) And, also, why is DC hard to transform to different voltages?

                1. The Other Sean nails it with transformers. You have to have a oscillating field for a transformer to work. This means you can have higher voltage on the power line, with a transformer to step it down to service voltage.

                  It was hard, back in the day, to raise the voltage with DC. This meant greater voltage drop, as you can’t run service voltage all that far. AC means it was easier to raise to a high voltage, which has less voltage drop courtesy of lower line amps. It also allows tricks like three-phase service: since AC power is a sine wave, if you space each wave 120° apart in the cycle, you can do neat things with transformer banking (you can calculate this by summing sine waves spaced 120°, or using phasor diagrams, which are just vector diagrams with each phase separated graphically by 120°, and apply simple trig).

                  I was told by a college professor, but don’t have a hard cite, that Edison lost a big factory contract to Westinghouse when it was shown there wasn’t enough known copper in the world to wire the factory DC with then available technology.

                  This also gets squarely into North American electrical systems. For residential service, you have one “leg” that’s 120v; a neutral, and another “leg” that’s 120v. Each leg is separated by 180° polarity. That’s courtesy of the old DC lighting wiring, where you had 120v+, a ground at 0, and 120v-. With an AC transformer you can put out the same thing by grounding down the center of the coil, and that’s how we have two 120v legs and a center neutral. It would work just as well with one leg grounded down and a center tap, but it’s non-standard, and you only run into “corner grounding” with some services known as three-wire Delta (but not all three wire Delta).

                  Now we have high voltage DC for long distance power transmission, and I’m hazy on the advantages. But it wouldn’t be economical for short distances due to the same thing Edison ran into.

                  BTW, US “nominal” voltage is 120/240. Large industrial motors often run on 480v. And the lines on the poles to residences are around 7,200v to 14,400v phase to ground (12,471 – 24,942v phase to phase), with 46kv used both for distribution and transmission, and then we get to 115kv and higher. As a point of reference, the electric chairs used 2,000v. Just saying.

                2. Transmission losses are less at higher voltages because the line current is less. It’s not uncommon to have a relatively small amp fuse on the distribution side of a transformer providing 200 amps or more of continuous current. Think of it this way: Watts = Volts x Amps. Watts remains the same regardless, so increasing the voltage decreases the amps.

                  AC is simpler to step voltage up and down because a transformer works by generating a magnetic field in the primary coil. When the field fails, this generates current in the secondary coil. You have to rapidly energize and de-energize the primary coil to make a somewhat continuous voltage in the secondary coil. There’s ways that it can be done now, and every straight AC to DC transformer does it, but with AC all you need are two coils of wire to transform voltage up and down because the electricity is automatically changing potentials over time, thus the resulting magnetic field automatically changes the voltage in the secondary coil. No muss or fuss.

                3. Basic electricity 101. There are certain rules by which electricity operates. The first is that you always need a complete circuit, a loop, to get current to flow. You’ve got three parameters: Voltage. Resistance. Current. (For historic reasons, the traditional symbol for Voltage is E and that for Current is I). These three are related by Ohm’s Law which states:

                  E = I*R

                  Your source provides a certain voltage. And depending on the resistance it “sees” you get a certain current.

                  The next step is a little tricky. Once you know the current through some component in the circuit you can take the resistance of individual components (I’m not going to go into things like serial and parallel circuits at this point) and figure the voltage “used up” (called “Voltage Drop”) across the component.

                  Now, there’s another relationship: how much power is expended pushing current through something. There are several equations for that (all related by Ohm’s Law) but the one that interests us here is:

                  P = (I^2)*R

                  For a transmission line the “loss” (only resistance losses here, which is generally the big one although there are other sources of loss) is the amount of power required to “push” a given current past a given resistance. Transformers (the electrical kind, not the robot kind) can be thought of as trading voltage for current and vice versa. So you use a transformer to jack up the voltage, which reduces the current, which reduces the amount of power expended (lost) just pushing that current through the lines and more of it getting to where you want it–to run electric stuff.

                  Hope this helps.

            2. IIRC, it was mostly that with AC it was easy to use transformers to step up the voltage from the generating plant to high voltage for transmission, then step it back down for local distribution.

              1. Step the voltage up, you step the amperage down. The amperage is what drives losses to heat in the wire due to resistance. Where it is easier to use AC to make high voltage lines, it is easier to use AC for high efficiency lines. You want more efficiency the longer the distance you go, because the longer you go, the more you lose at constant efficiency.

                Think piping water. Amperage causing heat is sort of like pressure making leaks faster.

                If you are pumping, say, three gallons a minutes, maybe a cup of water an hour per yard leaking isn’t too bad if you are doing it over a foot. 100 miles? That’s a problem.

            3. If I recall my engineering prof correctly, it’s because you can use AC to boost the voltage sky-high while keeping current low and maintaining the same wattage (Power = Voltage x Current). Since losses scale with current, it becomes much more efficient over any kind of distance.

      2. Good faith requires invincible ignorance.

        The worst sort of lying is not wittingly, it’s in a state of affected ignorance. When you lie to yourself first, you can’t tell the truth if you want to.

    4. Always make the punishment for lying worse than the punishment for the crime itself, and sometimes, if the child forthrightly admits to what he/she did, you might remit the sentence.

      We’re doing that. My parents did the same thing. I’ve had to explain the distinction of ‘white lie to keep a secret surprise’ though.

      A funny anecdote. My father taught my brothers how to keep an accounting ledger of their personal expenses while they lived in Paris; if there were things there that he deemed a household expense/responsibility he would reimburse them. He ran across an item labeled by my youngest brother as “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS” and the conversation / scolding / argument that followed reduced my mother and I to tears of laughter as Dad was telling them they needed to be strict about their itemization and account keeping. (The items were meant to be Dad’s birthday presents, and since they weren’t supposed to lie, my brothers wrote “Secret” or “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.”) My youngest brother said something along the lines of “You don’t want us to lie, and it’s supposed to be a secret, so it really is none of your business because if we said what it was, it’d spoil the surprise!”

      (Dad sighs the Romblomanon equivalent of ‘oi vey…’)

      Youngest brother is now working as a QA auditor or something like that…

    5. Just remember to teach them that lying, or not telling anything, is also good in special circumstances. Like when somebody tries to pry out of them how many guns their parents have, or maybe when somebody from the government ask almost anything about their family. Don’t answer or lie in a way which makes it clear it’s not true (daddy has three rayguns and a blaster but mommy got him beat, she also has a railgun), get parents there to figure out the situation. :/

      1. My parents own no guns.

        They own multiple pistols, rifles, artillery pieces and tracked vehicle mounted cannon, but not one “gun.”

      2. The route I’ve found is to flip the “stranger danger” thing around– “mommy says I’m not supposed to answer ANY questions from someone she hasn’t said it’s OK to ask– it’s a stranger danger sit-chew-ay-shun.”

  2. Hi Sarah. I went to that presentation too, and had a similar understanding. I think it’s useful to mention, though, that Brent (the presenter) is an Air Force officer and not really experienced or trained on influencing society in the way that is and will be necessary to preclude the (probably inevitable) leftist kvetches against nuclear power in space, ultra-high-powered laser arrays either in space or on the ground, etc. He was (I think) trying to think of a way to blunt or eliminate their ability to stop technological progress, without having the background to come up with effective ways to do so. So let’s take his concerns as valid, but help him come up with more useful responses.

    1. Drloss,

      Would you (or Mrs. Hoyt) let us (or at least me) know when these talks are posted online? Thanks.

      I have long thought we must rename nuclear rockets to something less threatening sounding, like magnetic resonance rockets.

      1. You won’t be able to stop me from doing so! 🙂 There’s already a summary of the symposium up on the TVIW homepage ( and on Centauri Dreams ( As soon as we get them properly edited and uploaded, we’ll make videos of all the presentations available. We’re also working on a Proceedings document which will be sent to all the participants and will thereafter be available on Amazon for some nominal cost (to defray the expense of creation, and to help us enable the next symposium).

      2. Speaking of Magnetic Resonance, was anyone else extremely surprised at how quickly the discovery of NMR was turned into a viable piece of diagnostic equipment?

        1. Also note how fast they dropped that scary NewKewLar word from the name of the scan, from NMR to MRI.

    2. That he is an Air Force officer makes it less forgivable, not more.

      A long time ago, I realized how essential lying was in effecting political change and decided that lying was what you did to your enemies and perhaps to dangerous animals and that until I could categorize the public as one or the other I would stay out of politics.

      1. lying was what you did to your enemies

        Indeed, it is a military duty, although such terms as “misdirection” and “misinformation” are preferred. Problems occur when the military lies to its commanders (e.g., Saddam H.) and when it fails to lie to the enemy, inducing war by prompting the enemy to underestimate one’s capabilities. Our MSM may be in danger of provoking nuclear confrontation with North Korea by falsely conveying an unwillingness to engage in war. Strategic ambiguity is one of the most potent weapons in our arsenal.

        It is very likely that more conflicts have been averted by “He’s just crazy enough he might do it!” than by any other phrase.

        1. And that, on occasion, permits the Ultimate Trickery: Flummoxing your enemies by telling them the raw truth – which, of course, will not believed… until FAR too late for them.

      1. Oh I agree about his proposed remedy. I just think it was offered more through misunderstanding of the likely consequences than for any other reason.

    1. I don’t know if it would be distracting. It would certainly be hard to keep your eyes on the road as they roll back into your head, or your foot properly on the pedal as your toes curl, or steer as your muscles momentarily lock up.
      And since I’ve heard it said and written many times that an orgasm is pretty much like having an epileptic fit, and people with uncontrolled epilepsy are usually refused driving licenses; having an orgasm while driving can probably be lumped under the category of a Bad Thing.

      1. Judging by the (possibly apocryphal story) of why a single-engine plane flew into a mountain, I’d say exceedingly distracting.

        1. The place where we used to live was situated in a narrow valley between the central california Coast Range on the west, and a smaller range on the east. On the eastern side of *that* range, was another, separated by a small river (Coyote Creek) with a couple narrow reservoirs along the river in between. (All being lined up adjacent to the San Andreas fault.)

          Some years ago, a small plane crashed in the northernmost reservoir, apparently hitting a power line strung across the reservoir. The weather had been low clouds above the water, with both ridge lines obscured, and the guy had been scud-running up the river. Stupid, but not unknown by local fliers.

          A friend of mine in the county sheriff’s department gave me more detail of what likely … um … contributed to the accident. The pilot (male) had a passenger (female) who seems to have not been watching the scenery going by at the time the pilot failed to see and avoid the high tension line, judging from their relative positions and the state of his trousers in the wreck. I suspect that alcohol was involved there somewhere, to boot.

        1. Probably the guy I saw as I was passing him with the X-Rated film going on his dashboard mounted player….

          Oh, there’s a light in the….. WTF?!?!?

          1. I have to say that my gut reaction to learning that some cars now came with DVD players was “W!T!F!”. I suppose I can think of a few things that would be more distracting……

            1. Texting. I recently had to sit through a video that dramatized four cases; two of them fatal for the driver, one fatal for a bicyclist, and one permanently disabling for a passenger.

            2. I thought that in car dvds were to keep your young savages from killing each other during a long car trip. Definitely NOT for the driver.

                1. I’ve introduced audiobooks into our several-times-a-year trip to Grandma’s, which is a 500-mile drive. Wildly successful, probably because the kids didn’t bother with any entertainment on the drive prior to now. (Really. They got used to it as kids, and a tendency to carsickness means we haven’t allowed books or media devices, so they’ve just been looking out the window.)

                2. The Spouse has commented that listening to audiobooks while commuting makes traffic jams become a bit less frustrating, because you know you will get to hear more of your book.

                  The Spouse and I used to read out loud during family trips. The only problem with that was once sunset came it didn’t work too well. With audiobooks that is not a problem.

                  I recommend you be careful with your choice of book. I found myself laughing so hard at one Terry Pratchett that it became difficult to drive.

                  1. There is similar issue with music. Classical is likely mostly safe, and if you aren’t apt to depression I suppose Country would be tolerable, but…. well, Spike Jones (esp. Little Bo-Beep Lost Her Jeep) can lead to a “lead foot” and sharp turns, and… I caught it before I was caught AT it, at least.

                  2. He’s been working through Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler books since there isn’t a new Dresden Files though I might have to see up to what book he has. I got him a pile of Correia audiobooks from Book Depository for last Christmas.

                    I got the Spock VS Q audio CDs but have yet to crack them open.

            3. We’re trying to get a new radio that will work with a backup camera and hands-free calls, maybe even play the music from our phones wirelessly so we can send the phone to the back with the kids.

              All of them have DVD players, that I can find.

  3. … there never was a period when people thought the atomic bomb was good for you.

    Oh sure, if you were an average Japanese citizen the raising of Gojira was a terror, but if you were a builder it was a profitable occurrence, so long as he didn’t go marauding through your business.

    Over here in the states who didn’t love the idea of humongous atomic ants roaming the countryside?

    On a more realistic note:

    Were school children were taught the duck and cover drill because we believed the bomb was our friend?

    When I was in elementary school, the building’s basement had been certified as a fallout shelter. Each student was required to bring in a bag labeled with their name on it to be stored there. The bag was packed with various items such as a blanket, a change of clothes, tinned food and a can opener. Not one of us thought this was just in case it was decided that we were going to have a friendly impromptu sleepover. No, we all knew it was in case the worst happened. (This was before the Cuban Missile Crisis.)

    1. “Over here in the states who didn’t love the idea of humongous atomic ants roaming the countryside?”

      Them giant ants is good huntin’, son. Yah gotta hit’em juuust right to bring’em down, and a shotgun don’t do no good aytall…

      1. Those ants lead to some interesting discussions of what is and is not physically possible on earth … could anything on that scale function with an exoskeleton?

        1. Oh yeah, they’re not physically possible, but other than that they’re great sport to hunt!

          1. wouldn’t the meat be too radioactive to eat? NY didn’t have such fun movies. It was more like roaches and rats that were trained to kill by a crazy person.

            On the other hand there were alligators in the sewers. When I was a kid in Brooklyn a staple of scary stories was Cropsey. I don’t know why. It was extra scary because there a bus terminus named Cropsey.

          1. Another aspect is breathing apparatus. I saw somewhere (Baen’s Bar maybe?) a discussion of maximum possible sizes for insects given their breathing apparatus and current Earth atmospheric composition. IIRC they can’t get too big these days, but under a different atmospheric mix bugs the size of dogs would be feasible. So the mutant bugs would need some additional mutations beyond simply size and exoskeletal composition – they’d need something better to breath with.

            1. Back in the 70s i remember an article in Boy’s Life by Issac Asimov about the biological and physical changes for a 50ft land mobile lobster… Basically it had to look like a T-Rex.

                1. In one of the Shadowrun bestiaries, they described a lobster weighing 500 pounds, and in the “Hunters Notes”: “I want 100 pounds of butter, and I want it NOW!”

                  1. *finds herself looking up alternative ways to cook lobster, and she doesn’t even like the stuff*

                    Grilled– slice it in half vertically, from nose to tail, clean out visceria and grill 2-3 minutes.

                    The heat from the burning city should manage that…..

                    1. I was gonna post an image of a lobster roll from a sushi site, but apparently …

                      … in New England they put the damned things on buns.

        2. Depends on how big the giant ants are. Japanese spider crabs can reach 5.5 meters from claw tip to claw tip. Biggest lobster on record was 44 pound and nearly 3 and a half feet long. Granted, both species are aquatic and their size is supported by the water. The biggest land scorpions were about 2 feet in length (400 million ya) And dragonflies with 2 foot wing spans were around 300 mya. Granted, O2 levels were supposedly higher back then (35% of the atmosphere as opposed to 20% today) and the planet was warmer; but we could probably still sustain 2 foot long ants today. Does that qualify as a “giant” ant, or merely a huge one?

                  1. No warrant inspector has complained.

                    At least, not to Fluffy.

                    There’s a reason why you want the dragon to open the door.

            1. You notice how, in stores, the syrup and the rice are never close? Well, those late/early hours… Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima… and those Keebler cookies are waaaaaay over there. Elves, you see.

          1. Square cube law and quarter power do impose some limits on practicality, though. Past certain (fuzzy) point, you’d need to shift to nuke reactors, not hearts and lungs (et cetera), to power the thing.

          2. I don’t think it is a structural issue. Submarines have their weight supported by water and an ‘exoskeleton’ but aircraft don’t have thier weight supported by bouyancy but also have an exoskeleton. No one says ‘now that planes are so big we have to put I beams down the middle instead of stringers on the outside. I think the limit is elsewhere, like the aforementioned lungs. Also endoskeletons may have advantages on better applying muscular forces.

            Oddly the issue may be backwards. Animals may need exoskeletons to get really small as strength in bending is a thickness to the forth power issue. As a bone (or anything) gets very thin it gets weak in bending fast, so the structure for small dia. Limbs may have to go to the outside to increase the moment of inertia. I haven’t run any numbers but that is my initial guess on why we can find bugs much smaller than fish, lizards, or other vertibrates.

        3. Depends on exactly how “giant”, and how many other changes they are allowed to have.
          Either way, consider that body mass couldn’t grow as ~L³ or close, simply because they’d need to have much more of their internal space filled with air.

          1. I seem to recall whomever it was wrote Colossus: The Forbin Project also wrote a story about some kind of insects from another universe that crossed over into ours that had lungs. But it’s been 40+ years since I read that one.

        4. Exoskeletons are fine. In fact, they might be more sturdy than endoskeletons. What limits the size of insects are their circulatory systems: Open circulatory systems with simple pumps and book lungs just don’t stir the internal oxygen carriers around enough for them to grow that large. Also I think the origin of some assumptions about oxygen content in the primeval atmosphere: The size of the bugs seems to vary over time, perhaps pointing to a difference in oxygenation efficiency.

    2. I was about 4 when the Cuban Missile Crisis was going on, so I don’t personally remember it, but all the adults were concerned with Civil Defense, fallout shelters, and the like for several more years. By the time of the Apollo missions, there was not such an immediate fear of nuclear war. In the very early days after the first atomic bomb there were some rather enthusiastic and ignorant proposals, but by the time I heard of them, the hazards of fallout and the realities of shielding had already take some of the “shiny” off. Since I was incline to the study of chemistry and physics, I never was infected by the paranoia that has killed off any number of sane, responsible, controlled developments in nuclear technology, but I have seen its effects.

      1. One of my relatives worked with medical radiation therapies and the like, so I grew up with physics and chemistry of glowing stuff. I wasn’t overly worried about nuclear war, nuclear winter, or reactors going nova. Amazing what a foundation in science does for one.

          1. Thank God Ed Teller put a kibosh on the idea of having positive void coefficient power reactors in the US

            1. It is important to remember that, while the design may have been right at the sketchy edge of “what in the world were they thinking?”, it took the best and brightest of Soviet Management to blow Chernobyl the heck up.

              It also goes towards the philosophy of the state: They had no issue building a scary and potentially unstable reactor design, since they could count on The State perfecting some New Soviet Reactor Operators to safely run the thing.

              1. Aye, reading an account of the events from design and location selection to that fateful night/morning… it’s astonishing how many bad decisions all had to cascade – and DID! – to get from “Working reactor” to “Radioactive mess of slag, with fallout.” It’s a veritable Symphony in the key of Stupid.

          2. So. Very. Much. THIS.

            Stupidity can be lethal. Always has had that possibility, built right in. But for some *special* kinds of stupid, there needs to be a bloody shrine to “and that’s why we don’t do it THAT WAY.”

    3. Friend of mine some years back told the story his boss related. He was a P.O.W. in Japan, and he and other were set to work in a mine. There seemed to be an earthquake, so they evacuated the mine… and saw a strange cloud. Yes, it was the morning of August 6, 1945. The mining operation seemed to be considered over, somehow.

    4. Not addressing bombs, but in terms of radiation – when I was in boarding school in Switzerland in the late ’60s (no, my family wasn’t (isn’t) wealthy but how I got there is too complex for this forum) we used to get milk in tetrahedron shaped, waxed (?) paper containers that held around 150 ml – one serving. We could, and did, store these for weeks in warm rooms without negative results – as long, of course, as they weren’t opened. I’m pretty sure they were irradiated for sterilization purposes, and I KNOW that that technique was available – but as I recall, the whole idea of “radiated food” was so scary to the American public that it never – really – happened here. What a loss!

      1. My parents get their milk delivered in cartons, and even if we came home at night and they’d been outside all day, the milk was fine until it was opened. I don’t know what process they use. The milk tastes off to me, even if perfectly fresh, so I’d guess it’s an additive.

        1. Might be hyper-pasteurized– there’s stuff in the BX that is that way, milk you can keep on the shelf for months. (I stick with powdered– if it’s going to taste so bad that I only use it as an ingredient anyways, may as well be something I can make GOOD use of in baking.)

      2. UHT – Ultra High Temperature – pasteurization. They still do it in Europe (most of our milk bought on the economy came in boxes you could store in the pantry).

  4. One could point out to him that the demonization of marijuana as a gateway drug meant that many teens who tried it and found it relatively harmless then wondered if adults were lying about the effects of worse drugs. In short, lying about the effects of one of the less destructive drugs actually caused the effect they were trying to prevent—it only because a gateway drug because they lied about what it would do to you.

    (NB: Marijuana does have deleterious effects on the developing brain. However, compared to things like heroin, cocaine, or meth, it’s far less destructive than even alcohol.) (I would also like to point out that it has much better pharmaceutical uses than the opioid derivatives, or in some cases, SSRIs.)

    1. I have seen this happen directly. I once went to school with a fellow who was almost stereotypically average. 2.00 GPA. Straight C’s… unless there was a split then a B and D would both be present. He later showed me something I’ve not seen since (nor do I desire to): A report card with a semester (or quarter?) GPA that began 0.0. Having since met a few other folks who(had) use(d) marijuana recreationally – including one who was an alcoholic but could set MJ aside at will or whim – it’s more attributed to the other things that it was a “gateway” to. A buddy of his at one time was huffing gasoline(!) and the last time I saw this fellow (decades ago – no idea if he lives) he admitted he was “speeding.”

    2. I was told that it was a gateway drug because it was comparatively mild but still illegal. Once you became streetwise and familiar with the network of sellers, and means of evading the law, you would tend to acquire “friends” and merchants who would more aggressively promote harder drugs. No, not inevitably, but that’s the direction the ground slopes. The reasons were more social than pharmaceutical.
      I’ve never personally had cause to compare the effects of driving while drunk and driving while stoned, but those who are employed in keeping drivers in altered states of consciousness from being hazards to everyone else on the highway generally do not recommend experimentation on those lines. I am inclined to trust their professional judgement.

      1. You don’t need to actually test on the road. We have simulators in most households these days: Video games. Or just visit Denver and keep your eyes open.

        The effects are similar yet strangely different. Alcohol tends to be “out of control and reckless” while pot tends to be “out of control and cautious” – but the person driving 25 mph on the interstate is also dangerous.

        1. So I’ve always been told, doesn’t measure out with the cars zipping past that you can SMELL.

          Possibly it is the “out of control and cautious” in those with enough brains to realize there is a physical effect? Sort of like how being too precise is a sign of intoxication for some folks?

    3. Yup. When a lie is exposed it can result in the truth being doubted.

      Reefer Madness, the 1936/1938 anti-marijuana education/exploitation film was considered an enormous giggle when I was in college. Everyone, even those who did not indulge, knew it was beyond over the top. And yes, some people would point to material such that film and argue you couldn’t believe anything you were told about the deleterious effects of drugs.

      1. It depends on your genetics, but a lot of us have systems that have been adapted to deal with alcohol as relatively minor in effect unless you ingest it in quantity. Very few people seem to have genetics that are adapted to marijuana. (And yes, I also had a friend whose grades went from A’s to F’s within a single quarter of college, all thanks to becoming a stoner.)

        1. The grade drop may have as much or more to do with the soporific nature of so much of our educational system, with marijuana usage being merely a catalyst.

        2. Oh, marijuana is far from harmless. But while it demonstrably breaks your motivation, it doesn’t rot your teeth and skin and burn out the pleasure centers in your brain, like meth. (I guess the brain *can* regenerate after a while, but oh boy, who thought meth was a good idea?) At least there are dozens of pharmaceutical uses for even straight marijuana, and when you get into the derivatives, there are many more. (I know someone who is on an oil dilution for persistent anxiety, and there’s the non-THC cannaboid derivative that is proving extremely effective in managing persistent pain, the kind that opioids deals poorly with.)

          Basically, I’m for legalizing marijuana and managing things so that DWI counts for being stoned etc. People who need it for medical purposes (especially chemo!) could get it more easily, and if some people use it for self-destruction, at least it’s far more “self” than most drugs.

          1. > who

            The usual… it was sold over the counter in Germany, and the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe used meth heavily in the early days of WWII. In the 1950s through the 1970s it was an over-the-counter diet pill in the USA.

            The diet pills were a favorite at the junior high I went to; most of the “pharmaceutical distribution business” went on at high school, probably because high school kids had more money.

            1. The Germans didn’t use methamphetamine, just amphetamines. Methamphetamine has a slightly different chemical structure, and is much more destructive.

          2. Medical purposes is a crock of shit.

            You want consistent dosing of the active chemicals, you do not smoke the plant directly.

            Some of the active chemicals in marijuana have efficacies such that wrong doses are not stuff to play around with. (Anything psychiatric grade runs the risk of causing madness, which can possibly be over looked by a) competent psychiatric oversight b) interested and aware family c) close friends. You only have one brain chemistry, and fubaring it is not impossible.)

            Taking the patients out to a trench and euthanizing them with a pistol is as legitimate a medical practice. And perhaps as harmful to society.

            1. The folk I know who are using it for medicinal purposes are not smoking it. There are tinctures (at given doses) and direct applications. The one using it for anxiety has, basically, a breath spray with a measured dose. It seems to be most effective a neurological and nervous systems issues; the example I saw given was for a particular nerve issue nicknamed “the suicide disease” because it’s untreatable and apparently makes it feel as though your face is on fire. Forever. That’s one of the ones that the non-THC cannaboid compounds treats effectively—IOW, there’s *none* of the stuff that gets you high in it.

              1. Okay, in other words, legitimate usages that could in theory get through the FDA, if most of the political push wasn’t using medical as a smokescreen for recreational. Probably not with enough oversight to control psychiatric consequences for my taste, but then my standards may be entirely nuts.

              2. The only use smoking has for “medicinal” reasons is appetite, and really smoking it for that reason is stupid, as the damage done is worse than the benefit. Cooking it does as much damage to the drug but if far better for the person using it (magic brownies for appetite are considered okay by a few actual doctors I’ve heard from), if you ain’t getting it in oils done right, you are wasting time, or just using it to get high.
                I know someone accidentally shot and he smoked both right and left handed cigarettes. This shot caused a lung to fill full of blood so a tube was stuffed into there, and he said the gunk from weed was uglier than the tar etc from tobacco. He stopped smoking easily after that.

              3. There’s also a synthetic THC capsule that is used to treat both appetite loss and neuropathy. My wife takes it for the neuropathy usage.

                That crap is expensive, too. There are some newer, low-demand drugs that are more expensive, but it’s bad enough.

                  1. My wife takes Effexor (Venlafaxine), Lyrica and Marinol (the synthetic THC) for neuropathy. Hers was caused by chemotherapy damage. She used to take Cymbalta instead of Effexor, but apparently that interferes with the Tamoxifen, which blocks Estrogen receptors, so it would have raised her risk of her cancer returning.

                    1. Oh, she also used to take Gabapentin, too, but once the pharmacy realized she was taking two different drugs (Gabapentin and Lyrica) that act in the same way, she was forced to drop one of them, and since Lyrica has a stronger effect, that’s the one they kept her on.

            2. I don’t deny that there may be some legitimate medical uses, but I remember when “medical marijuana” was first legalized for “those with glaucoma and those suffering the effects of chemotherapy.” It was amazing how many of those glaucoma sufferers and cancer patients were men in their early 20s.

          3. Funny thing, the DEA guys want its schedule changed so that there can be more work done on getting real medicine out of it– I know there’s one or two for odd stuff, and isn’t there an antipsychotic…..?

            1. ISTR somebody (Speaker to Lab Animals, maybe?) mentioning that funding for research into medicinal uses of THC became scarce after legalization went through (legalization crowd no longer needing the research to support their agenda), but that funding into negative effects was becoming available (anti-legalization crowd wanting research to support their agenda).

          4. …who thought meth was a good idea?

            Well, apparently, in medical grade formulations and proper therapeutic doses, it does have it’s uses, but unregulated use is highly unhelpful.

              1. Probably true, but I was referring to ADHD treatment. Younger son researches the drugs that can be used to treat his unusual set of diagnoses for things that are unlikely to interfere with each other or intensify bad effects.

          5. Basically, I’m for legalizing marijuana and managing things so that DWI counts for being stoned etc.

            I agree. I responded to a comment by McChuck downthread with some more thoughts on this; it would be a bit silly to type that whole thing twice, so I’ll just point you to that comment instead. (Ctrl+F and search for “12:33 am” and you’ll find it immediately).

      2. Actually, yes, Reefer Madness is a real possibility. Though if it is going to trigger a psychotic break, it normally does it the first couple of times you try it.

        1. The film implied that everyone would turn into raving maniacs … and this obviously did not happen.

          1. They keep insisting marijuana is perfectly safe, loudly, and throw all sorts of hissy fits if your emotional reaction is not to their script. Sounds a little like raving and a little like mania to me.

            (In fairness, there is the confounding factor that I don’t think it is beyond the pale to discuss whether they should be confined while they are under the influence, or put down like rabid dogs.)

    4. I’d argue, based on what I’ve read, that the cumulative effects of marijuana appear to be worse than alcohol, but are not as dramatically obvious as those of heroin or meth. Apparently the modern high-test pot is rather different than the older strains. Again, the problem is trying to do longitudinal studies (as opposed to altitudinal studies *insert Rocky Mountain High joke here*).

      1. Old pot was considered strong at around 2%. These days, strong pot is well over 20% THC. At that strength, it is primarily an hallucinogen.

        I’m personally against it, but I also believe that it would be better to legalize and regulate it. No sales to those under 21. Strength tested and labeled. Clean and pure (the stuff even in ‘legal’ sales is disgusting.)

        1. I’m personally against it, but I also believe that it would be better to legalize and regulate it.

          Ditto here, with an additional “amen” to what B. Durbin said upthread (being stoned should count as DWI). Furthermore, given what I have heard from my friend who’s an ER doc about the long-term effects of marijuana usage (reduces the number of neural connections in the brain, permanently lowering your ability to think straight), I’d want to see long-term marijuana use considered as a permanent invalidation of one’s driving license (or the right to operate other heavy and/or dangerous equipment). I believe the way my doctor friend put it is “Once you smoke enough marijuana, you’re never NOT under the influence.” Not exact words since that conversation was years ago, but that was the general idea.

          And since I doubt the legalization crowd would EVER agree to those laws, that means I’m torn. I’m in favor of legalization from a principled libertarian perspective (you have a perfect right to make stupid, self-harming choices as long as you’re not harming other people). But I could easily end up opposing it from a pragmatic perspective, because if we can’t get the laws passed to revoke drivers’ licenses of long-term marijuana users, then I’m afraid the harm it would do to legalize it would outweigh the harm that is done by criminalizing it.

          Sorry about those convoluted sentences. I’m a bit sick today and not thinking very well, so I’m not doing a great job of making my language simple. Hope my point gets across.

          1. From the libertarian standpoint the proper response is to not criminalize the behaviour — smoking rope — but to definitely penalize the misbehaviour: driving while impaired.

            Politicians who fail to impose penalties for the second category are essentially lobbying to impose penalties for the first.

          2. I teach hunter safety, and as a diabetic, I point out to my students that you need to know your hunting companions, since my hunting buddies know to watch me for signs of “intoxication” even when they know I’m not drinking. The incapacitation is the same, regardless of the reasons. A permanent reduction in judgement (as opposed to temporary, like two too many) should result in a permanent loss of privileges if those privileges are hazardous to others (or ones self, though I tend – as a closet (?) libertarian – to regard self-injury as a right for competent adults. Even if it is one that is stupid to exercise).

            Mind, I am MOT excusing deliberate, temporary, incapacitation. Drinking and driving is criminal (as is – or should be – drinking and hunting) for good reason.

    5. Marijuana causes learning impairment and risk assessment issues.

      At current street dosages, people are getting themselves killed trying to punch out cops and so forth.

      Yeah, I know, red diaper baby hypothesis. The other possible explanation for Obama is that the weed he did during highschool, at, I wanna say, eighties Hawaii dosages, has caused permanent impairment rendering him subtly mentally incompetent. I’d be interested in seeing a neurological survey done during his autopsy. There’s a subtle flavor to his speech that I want to say is characteristic of weed impairment. (We may not have yet fully characterized weed impairment. Or maybe I’m nuts and imagining things.)

      a) psychiatric drugs can have weird effects b) anecdotal evidence of safety does not necessarily capture all the really strange things that can occur c) Calling Reefer Madness a lie requires establishing what data sources it drew on. It is quite possible to have a data set that captures the extremely disruptive impacts, and undersamples the nondestructive. d) From a safety of others perspective, something that very subtly causes insanity, does not have strong lethal physical side effects, and is considered harmless may well be more harmful. There’s a certain amount of trust in the judgement of others that underpins a society. When that judgement changes on a statistical level, and does not get noticed, bad things can happen. (Or the level of trust and attendant consequences can change without it being obvious why.)

      1. Adolescence causes risk assessment issues. You certainly don’t need to add alcohol or drugs to the mix.

        I am aware that the marijuana presently available is … how should I put it … not your grandparent’s stuff.

      2. weed isn’t the only drug that causes such issues, I was once rear-ended by a small woman who didn’t even realize she hit the big white van hard enough to pick the rear tires off the ground. When I pulled to the shoulder, she just drove off. I caught her at a light further up the road, and luckily right as I got her to pull over, a cop pulled up to the light. There is a reason the med bottles have a “Do not drive or operate machinery when using this medicine” and she had taken two when the dosage was one. In Louisiana they tend to call it DWI, but it is actually DUI, and covered that, though as our van was mostly undamaged, and my goal was just get her off the street, the cop let someone she knew come get her.
        Hell, personally over the counter drugs can do that to me.

        1. Lot of these spree killings seem to involve prescription drugs. Maybe all of them if Ringo isn’t wrong. (Okay, some of them may also involve weed exacerbating preexisting fragility.)

          As a culture we are not enough aware of some of the risks of the chemicals we use. Thus we have a bunch of incidents which the media fusses over as being inexplicable, while ignoring the chemical elephant in the room.

        1. Per speaker to lab animals, causes. The learning impairment is a specific sort, and I’ve haven’t gone back into his publications to find out exactly what. But thats what can actually be measured and proven, in many cases involving animal models.

          It may well be that his research hasn’t detected everything it can do in human models.

          I think he may have said that at three joints a week, someone shouldn’t be operating heavy equipment.

        2. Gah, I can’t remember how he put it, but younger son says it causes problems with reward assessment, which throws off decision-making capability.

          To also reply to John Van Stry – this doesn’t necessarily mean EVERYONE. The fact that you were able to get your degree doesn’t make the statement invalid.

          1. Yeah. a) Decades back concentrations are different from modern. b) College usage isn’t the same, biologically speaking, as highschool. c) Same dosing history would only give same results in all cases if everyone was exactly the same. Since John is here, I can believe that he is quite a bit smarter than, say, Texas Tech boy this morning. (Well, that understates my best guess but…) I think a small minority has the excess margin of drive, margin of intelligence, and margin of functioning/competence to be successful during a period of light short term use (barring rare abnormal side effects).

            I may substantially over rate such risks, due to a long history of knowing that some of my margins are quite small, and need careful husbanding. This strongly colors my assumptions about ‘common sense’ and ‘everyone knows’. I am aware that my default assumptions about how other people tick are riddled with flaws.

            1. The thing I notice in folks who are pretty smart is… holes…in their thinking.

              It’s like “normal, normal, hey that’s reasonable– HOLY MOTHER OF FURY WHAT THE HECK?!?!?” when reasoning.

              The obvious triggers are sharing something they feel threaten weed access, but some of them– I have no idea. One guy, it LOOKS like when something hits his daddy issues. (Well justified, and when we were younger fairly well controlled….but he went to college, I went to the Navy, and one of us went off the rails. I don’t think it was me.)

              1. The late Steven Denbeste mentioned smoking weed in his discussion of why he had quit it, and wine, some decades prior. (IIRC he had some degenerative medical problems, and didn’t need to be giving them any help.) If he had holes in his thinking, they were beyond my ability to notice at the time. It’d be hard to fully explain how great of an influence on me he was. (I went extreme anti-weed years after he first influenced me. Years later, I was reading or rereading something he wrote, and oh yeah, he had mentioned the weed.)

                He outright quit serious blogging for anime blogging because the quality on the serious stuff had been costing him too much.

                Sorry if I’m rambling, I think it has been almost a year since I learned of his passing.

                1. Is all good– but one of the things you gotta remember is that the stuff my classmate was smoking, and the stuff anybody who quit “decades ago” was smoking, isn’t even close.

                  It’s like comparing near beer and whiskey, if I remember the stats correctly.

    6. My observations on the long term effects of regular weed intake, based on several relatives, is this. It has no real effect, until the user suddenly finds themselves at the age of 40, still pretty much living the same post high school lifestyle of low paying odd jobs, sponging off of family and friends, disappointing parties, and not really owning or accomplishing anything.

      1. One occasionally wonders if inducing such a state in large swathes of the population is considered a feature, not a bug, by some of the people pushing for legalization.

        1. One that is likely to backfire. If your political plan involves a lot of hopheads voting, you will be in trouble.
          “Wow, man, I was supposed to do something today…”

          1. Sort of. The idea would be to keep people distracted from all the problems caused by government policy via them being half-baked all the time.

    7. I saw a former best friend so fried on wacky weed that he asked what day it was the morning we graduated. The homeroom teacher told him it was graduation day, and there was about a two second delay before it registered.

  5. What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!

    “Intermission: Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long”, p. 246

    1. Welcome to Sarah’s blog, Jeff! For everyone else, Jeff was one of the presenters at TVIW, and is board chairman of the Tau Zero Foundation.

      You’ll find that we’re not quite the sober academics, scientists, or business people you may be used to, Jeff. 😉 But we’re adorable in our own way…

      1. …we’re not quite the sober academics, scientists, or business people…

        Sobriety is dubious, at times downright doubtful. Scientists… possible, from professional to amateur to spectator of, and as for people… well, now… let’s keep the definition of “person” a fairly open one, shall we? Thank you.

        1. Hey, if you claim peoplality, I won’t gainsay you. Had my peoplality questioned on occasion myself; wouldn’t do it to someone else. As for why you’d want to claim it, well, won’t judge that either…

          1. After all, consider the problems of those who have been declared “unpersons” or such. (And not even U.N.-persons, which is a whole ‘nother blue-helmeted mess.)

              1. Removing the U.N. might be the most effective way to lower the crime rate of NYC. I still like the idea that the U.N. if to remain in NYC, should be placed in the very top floors of the replacement of the twin towers – let them have to worry about what could happen.

        2. I’ve decided that now the kids are all grown, once the crunch that is this year is in, I’m going to remedy my woeful mathematical and physics ignorance. I always wanted a mechanical engineering degree, and if I can figure a way to finance it, mom can’t stop me now. 😀

          1. A modern ME is basically a math major with some engineering electives. And to keep enrollment up, some schools no longer require Strength of Materials or Kinematics now. Those people may have degrees, but they’re the sort of “engineers” you hire for middle management or sales staff, not to design things.

            1. Wait. What?

              Even if you are not one of the guys that does the nitty gritty testing you need to kow enough not to swallow the bs from salesmen. Kinematics the same.

              And sadly management is the only viable route in some places. There are groups where there has been no internal advancement for a decade while if you are mercenary and hop around you can jump multiple times a year, typically ending up in management because “anyone can manage anything” mindset while actual engineering disciplines tend to keep a pretty good learning curve regardless how long

              1. I’ll note Marshall’s school is proud of making 90% of would be engineers go screaming into the night.
                Part of the reason it’s taking him this long to finish his degree is that they don’t offer classes that don’t have at lest 6 enrollees. With a graduation rate of 25 engineers a year across all fields, sometimes it takes him two years to get a necessary course.

                1. Ya. I started with 40ish aero/mech. Graduated one of 5. At least they were up front and let him dual aero/mech. Were so close at ours and we didn’t have hugely separate tracks so it wasn’t til my senior year that I managed to get an answer as to feasibility. By that time I didn’t want another year.

                  And then I have to go for 16 mos grad school because no hiring.

                    1. Ah. Good.

                      And ftr I saw that it was triple. Most schools I had looked at didn’t have much daylight for A/M while ee has plenty of different courses.

                    2. I’m torn by a combination of pitying the workaholic and wanting to learn about the place he ends up employed at. Or is he considering graduate school?

                    3. Has he tried SpaceX? I’ve heard it’s a bit of a meat grinder to work at, as Musk is a crappy boss and does’t treat people well, but it’d look great on a resume and I bet they’re looking for unpaid or low paid workers.

                2. It is apparently a not uncommon problem:

                  Colleges are Confusing Mazes; This Firm Helps Students Through Them
                  By George Leef — October 10, 2017

                  Getting through college should not be easy — academically. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be a difficult maze procedurally, but often it is. Due to poor counseling and their own bad course choices, students frequently need more than four years to graduate and that means increased cost and debt.

                  Colleges don’t have a strong incentive to help students make good choices and graduate expeditiously, although they pay lip service to that.

                  Fortunately, the free market spurs innovations to help consumers of all kinds, including college students and their families. In this Martin Center article, Shannon Watkins writes about a particularly interesting one named Lumerit.

                  One benefit of Lumerit, Watkins writes, is that it “enables students to earn up to three years’ worth of college credits, but without limiting them to the course offerings of a single institution. This is possible because Lumerit is familiar with the course offerings and transfer policies of over 750 colleges and universities across the country.”

                  That sounds like a breakthrough. Being stuck with only the course offerings of a single school where the student is officially enrolled is very limiting. It’s like having to shop only at the company store, where prices may be high and quality low.

                  “Another important component of Lumerit’s services,” she writes, “is the extensive counseling and mentoring they provide. Before officially signing up as a Lumerit Scholar, students are assigned an admissions advisor who helps them develop a personalized four-year course progression plan. Students tell the advisor what they are interested in studying and to which schools they would like to transfer. When creating a four-year plan, the advisor finds the most cost-effective and high quality courses that fit each student’s transfer timeline.”

                  College advising is often done by faculty members who are busy with their own work (often that obligatory but generally pointless “research”) and don’t care terribly much about the undergrads who come to them for assistance. Lumerit appears to be a huge improvement.

                  All in all, this sounds like a winner. However, it has been around since 2004 and the 22,000 students who have availed themselves of its services is not a large number. Sounds to me as though Lumerit needs a lot more exposure.

                    1. I think the point is not whether engineering research is legit, but whether those doing it ought also be offering students guidance and counselling.

                      I earned two separate Baccalaureate degrees, one Arts, one Science, both magna cum laude or better, and never once found any utility in “counselor” guidance. They existed to sign my proposed classes slip and any issues that arose I handled without recourse to their wisdom.

                      The only persons on campus less useful than guidance counselors were administrators, especially those dedicated to disrupting campus processes ensuring diversity and equity on campus.

              2. I know of one case where a world-class engineer of my acquaintance deliberately fouled up his performance as a manager ion order to get back to engineering – and he is still employed at well over 70, at a major Fortune 500 firm,.

          2. Someone is interested in a Mechanical Engineering degree? Lemme go get my salesman’s hat and talk about a few places…

            (Seriously, I know a couple of places that are cheap for residents, which you aren’t and probably can’t be. The one is full of communists, and the other is different denomination religious.)

              1. For a mechanical Engineering degree, I wouldn’t worry at all about where you go to. It’s actually considered the ‘easiest’ of the engineering degrees (don’t get my started on ‘physics engineering’ I don’t really even consider that to be a real thing). And if you’re not planning on looking for work as an Engineer, again, school doesn’t really matter at all.

                Personally, I’d recommend against it, but that’s because at the better schools they spend the first two years teaching you how to think. Yes, engineers do think differently then everyone else does. Very different thought process, and it may be harder to make that change after so many years.

                You know you’re doing it right when you start ‘cheating’ on tests by using engineering principles, and the teacher of the non-engineering course is forced to give you full credit, because you found a loophole and got the right answer. Just not the way they wanted you to, with less work and faster.

                  1. Oh yeah, you should have heard some of the arguments and insults back in college in the day!
                    “Well yeah, you’re a Chemical Engineer” was often a witty rejoiner. (Chemical Engineers were often considered ‘not quite right’ in the head. We all thought that the field was just a little bit insane at times, plus it was a very small one).

          3. As an electronics engineer by training, I will make the claim that mechanical engineering is easier. Of course, most of my mechanical buddies will claim the opposite. Reality is that “what you are good at is easier.”

            Sarah, I wish you the best of luck – though from your blog I suspect you don’t need it. An awful lot of engineering requires a clear view of reality, which you obviously have. The ability to translate to/from the language of math is the other big need!

          1. You may be confusing “nonjudgmental” with “willing to engage in field testing to determine whether the IRL model is as corrupted as the Virtual presentation.”

            1. You’re probably right. The tell will be if he talks to me again at the next symposium. 🙂

            1. You’re missing the tongue firmly embedded in my cheek, I think. 😉 I think everybody should talk to me! And even more, listen to me! Now, doing what I advise them to do would often be a foolish thing…

            1. I’m too old and in too poor medical shape to get off planet. Maybe my great nieces and nephews will go off planet.

      2. Especially Fluffy. (When the enormous dragon decides that he really likes the enormous collar with a name engraved of “Fluffy”, you agree.)

    2. Welcome aboard! New guy gets to feed and clean up after Fluffy for the next fortnight. Please do ask for an escort through the Sarah’s dinner and evil lair. Some parts are non-Euclidian, but unreliably so. It seems to be based on neutrino emissions, but that’s only a working theory. Contrary to what some others might say, there is no rental fee for the protective gear in the locker outside Fluffy’s cavern.

      1. “Please do ask for an escort through the Sarah’s dinner and evil lair.”

        I am not sure that I would walk through Sarah’s dinner even with an escort. I suspect she would get somewhat annoyed.

  6. Sure, it’s a tough pill to swallow to know that entire on the whole well-intentioned movements of people protesting nuclear war were not the humanitarians they thought they were, but mere USSR stooges.

    People can and have done some pretty stupid things when they have been sold a bill of goods. It is not comfortable to admit that it has happened to you. Most people, on admitting it, get pretty angry at the ones who lied to them. I am not sure how many people move on to the realization that own ‘well-intentioned’ actions for that lie they had believed mislead and injured others.

    1. I spent several years of adulthood getting angry about stuff I was mistaught, when growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, as part of “the spirit of Vatican II.” Fortunately, most of the stuff I was told directly by adults close to me turned out to be true, and I had read a lot of older material. I was also around when things started getting corrected. So it was actually something of a relief to find out that things made sense. But I also felt like a huge tool for not having figured it out sooner.

      I totally understand the people who got angry enough to leave the Church, or to join weird little groups claiming there’s no valid pope. If people will lie to you about the plain meaning of a Latin phrase, they will lie to you about anything.

      1. I suspect more “fire and brimstone” sorts of preachers are responsible for “recovering $RELIGION” and such than anything else. I know one rather…forceful(?) fellow put me off so-called organized religion. The sad thing is that he likely believed all of what he said, but even mild digging found so much untrue. Really, I had to *trip* over things to realize. And of the multiple folks attempting religious education, guess which one stands out? Yup. He short-circuited years of attempted indoctrination. I suppose I should have thanked him – but he’d have been so upset by that.

        1. Several years ago I spent some time reading “homeschool survivor” blogs. These were the people who’s parents raised them to be Evangelical Shocktroops who would take over the world and make it heaven on earth. Common themes included an obsession with bizarre sexual conduct.

          Anyone want to guess what ideology many of the children switched to?

            1. Not likely related, at least directly, but $SISTAUR, the Witch (What she calls herself, unsure of humor coefficient) has a friend who used Wicca as a “gateway spirituality”… and became Christian. – and $SISTAUR has no issue with that, btw.

    2. There’s a good reason why treason is subject to the death penalty; or that traitors were sentenced to the 9th circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno.

    3. mere USSR stooges.

      I would like to take this opportunity to note our hostess’ misspelling of “useful idiots.”

    4. People can and have done some pretty stupid things when they have been sold a bill of goods. It is not comfortable to admit that it has happened to you.

      Which also allows exploits, like “The King’s Cameleopard”.

  7. Hmm. While I mostly agree, there are some things…

    While Athena was young we did the Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy thing. I always felt these…untruths were a valid part of growing up. I partly articulated why when Athena finally got that there wasn’t a guy in a red suit up at the North Pole where I explained to her that, “No, Santa is real; he’s the part of us that gives for no other reward than to see the joy in someone else’s face.” But I think Terry Pratchet nailed it in The Hogfather:

    “All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”


    “Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”


    “So we can believe the big ones?”


    “They’re not the same at all!”


    “Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”


    I know this is different from what you’re describing, but I’m not sure how to put that difference except maybe that these “lies” make us greater than we are whereas the others diminish us.

    1. You have wandered in to the murky ground between “lies” and “myths”. There are stories we tell ourselves that define the culture we live in. Their literal, historical truth is unrelated to their purpose in defining “who we are”, “what we value”, and “what we aspire to”

      1. I forget how P.C. Hodgell described bards in her stories. Something about the “permitted lie” for a race that was utterly required to speak the truth.

        But I think the term “True Lies” might be a better term for stories, tales, legends and myths that instruct.

        (I was kind of disappointed that the movie, “True Lies” was a singleton. It was good, and had potential for more in that subgenre of comedic action-adventure.)

        1. I recall someone saying that the problem with parables is that some think the fellow was actually talking about sheep and goats – despite being a parable rather than a fable.

          1. Thanks Bob!

            I wonder what the maximum capacity of the human mind is for maintaining useful memory associations?

      2. The key difference between a Lie and a Myth is that I know the truth of a lie it fails. The “payload” is the lie itself.

        But if I know the truth of a myth it can still work if it is promoting the right thing. The “payload” is the value or emotion that the myth is promoting.

        An implication of this is that you need to teach both the myth and the truth of it; if the story is worthwhile it will survive, if not it will die.

        1. Whoa there, pardner. Myths promotin’ an emotional payload? Ain’t that what them there Social Justice Warriers been promotin’? They’s usin’ ahr own weapons ‘gainst us!

          1. Except they suck at emotional payload that isn’t gloom or doom. Which is unproductive and generally causes people to wander away unless they’re a captive audience. (Which is why they want captive audiences.) They don’t understand that people want things to be FOR as well as AGAINST. The against always goes away. The for often hangs around. They also go for more complicated messages than ‘courage in the face of adversity’ or ‘Hope in times of darkness’.

    2. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are all parts of elaborate roleplaying games. Pretty much every Western country seems to have at least one roleplaying festival of this sort, usually associated with giftgiving or disguise processions and parties. The US has a lot of them, for whatever reason.

        1. We appropriate all the things we like from other cultures. It’s part of what makes us uniquely American.

            1. Think of it more as “imitation.” We don’t mind of the source language continues to use the words, we just find them useful too. 😉

            2. We are the Borg, it is our culture to assimilate the words, traditions, festivals, dances and foodstuffs of other cultures.

              1. Clothing! Can’t forget the clothing! My goodness, but our women folk would force us to go to war with France to secure their access to the latest in Parisian fashions!

                I notice the French don’t seem to complain that our rich and famous appropriate their clothing styles each season.

                1. Those poor people of Cannes, having to endure such invasions yearly of Eurotrash and Oilogarchs occupying their hotels, swarming their restaurants, drinking their liquor, displaying their scarcely clad bodies on their beaches, showing their movies! The horror, the trauma, the unending nightmare!

              1. Ah, that first link… the reason “reporters’ and “journalists” are generally unwelcome (and the titles often translated as “evil lying bastage” for the milder versions) at furry events.

    3. Kid absorbed Santa Clause from her preschool classmates before we’d decided what to tell her. When the Awful Truth started to dawn a few years later, we wound up telling her progressively wilder extrapolations (“no, it’s not ELVES! He keeps an eye on you by sending ninja reindeer to spot-check. Reindeer get BORED the other 364 days of the year…”) with lots of “we are playing” signals. It wasn’t deliberate at first, but it seemed to help her logic it out while helping her feel like a Big Kid because she figured out how to get in on the joke.

      THEN she got the history and stuff.

    4. Having deduced the truth about Santa Claus before I lost my first tooth, I never believed in the Tooth Fairy, and we didn’t have an Easter Bunny (maybe because rabbits were considered pests and an occasional meal). That said, I remember thinking long and hard about why parents would deliberately lie. What I came up with was highly cynical and also incorrect.

      1. We tell our kids that Santa Claus is a game from the beginning. They help pick the stuff for the grownups’ stockings. St. Nicholas was an interesting character. I’ve been telling Eldest he should make a “Be like Santa, punch a heretic!” meme.
        If he circulates just one historical meme among his friends that gets just one of them to look at history, instead of this social studies nonsense, my mission in subverting the indoctrination, er, education system will be completed. Knowledge: dangerous stuff. Especially in the hands of young teen Methodists.

        1. What are you guys talking about? Of course Santa is real. In the sense that real =/= factual. As long as we love our children and want childhood to be special and full of magic, then Santa is real. Places where Santa doesn’t go are sad and lonely by comparison.

        2. I didn’t tell my son anything about Santa. He picked it up from the air. Every time he asks about some aspect of it I just ask back “What do you think?” So later he can’t say “you lied to me about Santa!”

          1. Seriously. Though I think the funniest comment from the middle child was “I think Santa is dead and other people are pretending to be him.” (Said child *definitely* believes in the Tooth Fairy.)

    5. Sure. But the difference is important. Eh, look at my Darkship Books which were a conscious attempt at a “retro science fiction” more to signal I wasn’t there to lecture than anything else.
      For various reasons widespread use of flying cars is unlikely. Brooms? If we tame gravity to that point, we might as well have magic. Burners? I have clue zero WHAT they are. They ain’t lasers, and forget what Athena says at one point. As I told people in the future history I delivered to Toni, you know, Athena is very ignorant and worse half of what she knows is 20th century SF from her dad’s library. (OH, my character, not your daughter.)
      But lasers don’t DO that. For all I know they’re concentrated gravity, and therefore magic.
      Do I expect those to come true? Oh, hell no. They’re there for the feel.
      Though if someone gets really interested and figures out how to make those work, no one will be more thrilled than I.
      The point is, lies to feed dreams and more or less “bracketed” as lies, or with a growing up point, sure.
      Lies as explanations for how society works? Oh, hell no.
      I half believe 90% of the “feminists” don’t believe we’re in male supremacy, but they think that’s the way to make women excel. Same with the idiots who scream white supremacy.
      They’re very wrong. And the results of their lies are tragic.

      1. more to signal I wasn’t there to lecture than anything else.

        Sure, and isn’t that the first thing the skilled indoctrinator does? Make you drop your guard and absorb the myths uncritically, that’s the ticket.

        1. I can tell you that people do NOT accept *this* myth uncritically. If accepted at all, it has generally been with an awful lot of criticism!

          Yeah, yeah, all I need to do is lower my standards.
          As if they are aren’t low already.

      2. [I]f someone gets really interested and figures out how to make those work, no one will be more thrilled than I.

        Star Trek communicators … flip phones. I think they’ve gotten those aerosol injectors, too. And there are some remarkable advances being made in surgical adhesives that allow them to close and heal wounds remarkably.

        1. They had aerosol injectors back in the late 60’s/early 70’s. When I joined the army that’s how they gave us all our “shots.”

          1. How I got mine in ’67 in the AF. Didn’t feel a thing,took a step and the medic said “Last guy come back.” The vaccine bottle was empty. Came back. Felt like it was going to come out the other side of my arm.

          2. > aerosol injectors

            Some of them weren’t, though. They used a little stubby needle and compressed air. We got some of our vaccinations that way in school.

        2. The aerosol type injectors were around in the 1970s, as I recall… or else they did something equally amazing for at least one “injection” that didn’t seem to involve a needle.

          1. But you didn’t want to move your arm while the injection was taking place. One guy in front of me did that at MEPS in 1973. He bled a lot… The rest of us stayed >very still.

      3. I thought they were an extrapolation of some kind of focused microwave device. But you were nice and sneaky giving just enough for the story without bogging down or tripping up in technical details.

      4. Oh, flying cars are a pretty easy problem; I can solve that trick three or four ways now, and the long-standing thing holding it back (traffic control) will be demonstrated solved by UAV in the next 5-10 years (in that time, all airplanes will be ADS-B equipped which lets one plane know where the others are). That one’s not just going to happen, it’s late in happening. (Of course, depends on what a flying car is — might be anywhere on the spectrum from ‘backpack helicopter’ to ‘personal air vehicle’ to ‘roadable aircraft’

        I’d start a business on that but the risks to any new venture are so high, there’s a strong element of chance in it. (Think about the success ratio of automobile startups in the 1880-1930 time frame)

        1. > element of chance

          That’s mostly due to the regulatory process. The last business I started came under the aegis of ITAR before it ever shipped anything; I shut it down rather than play the compliance dance.

          Note that in 2008 ITAR did not accept US Mail; they only accepted written communications via private courier. They did not deign to reply to e-mail. They also did not accept cash, checks, or money orders; you had to pay your annual $2,250 fee via a special Federal EFT system.

          1. ITAR (shudder) is one reason I retired early. Classic case of Congress having good intentions and BAD results. You shouldn’t be allowed to pass laws about things you don’t understand.

            1. You shouldn’t be allowed to pass laws about things you don’t understand.

              But if that were the case Congress could pass no laws at all!

              I keed – they could still pass laws about tort-abuse, ambulance chasing and legal blackmail.

                1. As we have seen in the last administration, it creates space for regulatory agencies to enact laws, and they’re even worse than Congressroaches.

          1. At this point, blaming the bureaucrats is probably no longer fair — oh, no question, the regulatory environment has been a big part of the problem, but at this point, they’re moving out of the way as fast as they can (which isn’t all that fast, but is, by definition, as fast as they can). The real problem at this point is convincing sources of investment capital that, after decades of failure, conditions are right to try again.

        2. Are you familiar with the flying-car concept that Steve Saint developed? has a six-minute video showing it off. It’s basically a car that can also fly, rather than an airplane that can also drive. I’d be interested to know what you think of the concept.

          BTW, for anyone who doesn’t know who Steve Saint is, his life story is fascinating enough that a movie got made about it, called The End of the Spear. Short version: his father was a Christian missionary pilot who was killed by the people he was trying to make contact with. Steve went back to those same people (as did other members of his family), and many of the people who had killed his father became Christians, and one of them became a close personal friend of Steve’s. I’ve already used the one link that WordPress allows, but if you Google “Steve Saint” or “End of the Spear”, you’ll be able to read up on it. One of those stories that if it was fiction, you’d never be able to get people to believe it.

          1. Minor quibble”

            I’ve already used the one link that WordPress allows

            WP “allows” multiple links, but will not post any comment containing such without processing it immoderately.

          2. Looks interesting; haven’t’ dug in to it in detail, and as an engineer, I’m always somewhat skeptical of flight-critical systems like parafoils that have to be deployed — but that doesn’t mean they can’t work, just that they take a lot of work to make sure they work every time.

      5. Sarah’s fibbing about the burners because she doesn’t want to admit she’s crossing genres. They’re actually larval dragons…

          1. Nor will they experience the time spent having the teacher go over the material with us to make sure we knew which of the nebulously roundish letters were intended to be an o, e or a.

        1. Reminds me of an old favorite, from Infantry Journal, 1938 by then-Major Arnold W. Shutter.

          Oh I wish I had had a commission
          With J. Caesar’s legions of old,
          When the mimeograph, as we know it,
          Was a story that hadn’t been told.
          The orders were then mostly verbal,
          And they seldom took time out to write;
          For the bulk of an officer’s duties
          Lay in teaching his men how to fight.

          When they fought with the sturdy Helvetians
          A man who was absent was missed,
          For they hadn’t put half their damned army
          On the Detached Officers’ List.
          They carried their banners to Britain,
          And the Britons had no cause to laugh.
          But I’m told that it wasn’t accomplished
          By the use of the mimeograph.

          Now I sit in a big city office
          That’s furnished with tables and chairs,
          And the orderly falls down exhausted
          When he’s dragged my mail up the stairs.
          He deposits his load in the corner
          And then he is done with his chore,
          While I have ten hours before me
          Just reading the memos from Corps.

          Now back in the days when J. Caesar
          Marched from the Rhine to the Rhone,
          They had to get out special orders
          With a mallet and chisel on stone.
          There were no carbon copies of that stuff
          To bother the staff and the line.
          And yet, so historians tell us,
          His doughboys just got along fine.

          The Senate once sent him a letter,
          The kind many readers recall;
          “Explain, by endorsement hereon, sir,
          Results of campaigning in Gaul.”
          So he chiseled a snappy endorsement:
          “I came and I saw and I won.”
          Put that in your pipe now and smoke it,
          You pink-whiskered son of a gun!

          Now if I should write such an answer
          And send it, through channels, to Corps,
          The chances, my son, are a hundred to one
          That I’d not have to write any more;
          For they’d hold a conclave on my record
          And I’d be Class-B’d in a day;
          And then they’d withdraw my commission
          And stop all the rest of my pay.

          Each day as i sit in my office,
          With my shoulders acquiring a stoop,
          I wish that I had a commission
          In J. Caesar’s headquarters troop.
          And yet I could die well contented
          Should this be my true epitaph:
          “Here Lies the American Soldier
          Who Abolished the Mimeograph.”

            1. I think the Romans also had access to Papyrus. Caesar is a particularly bad example, given that he outright had books of propaganda published about him. Can you imagine having to be the staff officer charged with preparing whatever speech the next patsy needed to deliver?

          1. “E’s a bludy staff-off’cer, an’ by God ‘e’s RIGHT. (Being Air Force, I’m not knowing Infantry Journal. Fine (FINE) piece of work!

    1. There is much..tru. er.. um.. some accuracy to that. It’s not that I mind being only “loosely coupled” temporally, or spatially, or to this whole Reality thing… it’s that I’m coupled to it at all!

  8. ‘what are they teaching kids in the indoctrination centers these days?’

    I rarely ask that question, as the answer is always “nonsense.”

    The more interesting question, I find, is “Why this nonsense, and why at this time?”

  9. I keep thinking that sooner or later, I’m going to write a history textbook to replace the one we use at my Day Job. Not flaming likely, because I don’t know enough to do a good job, and because of all the pedagogical hoops needed (which Texas essential elements are met, how does it meet these criteria from the accreditation board, et al), but the temptation is strong.

    1. I suspect it’s really all the hoops and such. As even a ‘bad’ job not aimed at where the current atrocious jobs are aimed would be an improvement.

      There are THREE problems:
      1. Omissions. These will, of necessity, always happen even if they are only partial (aka “simplifications”).
      2. Mistakes. Nothing is perfect. These, alas, happen.
      3. Lies. These are intentional and served A Purpose. And since it’s not a Truth or at least a proper Fact, that Purpose may safely be considered Evil. (NOTE: Lies are NOT the same as carelessness. There is intent rather than mere laziness.)

      1 and 2 happen. A work riddled with both of those issues still is better than one lacking any problem of type 1 and/or 2 (impossible, or the very least, wildly improbable) that is afflicted with #3.

      1. Omissions can be worse than lies.

        I recall taking Idaho history and learning all sorts of useless trivia that carefully cultivated the impression nothing interesting had ever happened there. (I can still tell you the name of the oldest building in the state over thirty years later. It was a high point of the class.)
        The labor unions launching a violent communist insurrection, two rounds of martial law, the state treasury being stolen on several occasions, and more were completely airbrushed out.
        The only reason I learned about any of it is because I happened to notice something that quirked my interest in the museum, started researching, and kept stumbling over buried bombs.

        1. *goes to hunt that down*

          They leave ALL the interesting stuff OUT of the history. When people get killed or blow stuff up, that’s when history gets interesting.

          1. They *had* to leave interesting stuff out of TX history. Because there was lots of people getting killed and stuff blowing up, and just the Texas War of Independence could suck up most of the academic year. 🙂

        2. Idaho. Didn’t Lewis and Clarke cross that state before it was one? And I seem to recall a major FBI screw up on some place called Ruby Ridge.

          1. They crossed Missouri before it was a state. And Nort’ Dahkohtah. And parts west, ending in OHreegon.

  10. The Truth shall set you free. But first, it will piss you off!

    This is why Lefty doves become the most ferocious hawks after they get mugged. The mugging itself is less horrendous than the discovery that everything you believe is a deliberate, malevolent lie. Worse, that you, who thought yourself soooo clever, are an -idiot.-

      1. Can you imagine some of these little campus crack-pots ten years from now? Broke, single, unemployed, in debt to the eyes, and living in a welfare flop or their mom’s basement. Waking up some random morning to the realization it was all a -lie.- Holy crap.

        There’s a whole fricking generation of kids out there right now, all primed for that. Talk about a backlash.

        1. Less a couple million home schooled kids. Okay, maybe half of ’em–some of them are home schooled because the schools can’t work with how their brains work, some of them are indifferently home schooled.

          We parents think we’re leading an educational revolution. But what sort of revolution will a million home schooled kids lead?

          1. I vaguely remembered it is now over two million, got to poking around– and apparently someone else is scared of that question, because there’s a “responsible homeschooling” advocacy group.

            For those who just guessed it appears to be in the model of all the other “responsible, meaning effectively destroyed,” you win.

            Odd how educational neglect is supposedly such a big issue for homeschooling, but entire cities routinely inflicting it on kids– and the current system inflicting it on anybody who is decently quick and interested– is just the way it goes.

            1. And it’s the millions it IS. When Marsh entered the dual high school/college program, only 5 people came from normal schooling. The rest of the twenty something in his group (engineering) were home schooled through 10th grade.

            2. I’m not sure anyone really knows how many home schooled kids there are. Some states keep track. Others don’t. At best we have a lower boundary.
              I know when we were up along the Idaho/Washington border, an earnest young education major wanted to research home schooling, and contacted our home school group to find out how many kids were home schooled in each state. All we could really tell her was that most of our families lived in Idaho, even if the father worked in Washington, because Idaho is less obnoxious to home school in, and it was worth the few minutes of extra commute each day.
              So how many home schoolers deliberately locate where they aren’t tracked? I know in our relocating all the time days, I told my husband he could only apply to jobs in green states (referring to the HSLDA map).

              1. There is an additional component of the home schooled: those who attend public school for brainwashing but are rinsed of the toxins at night at home.

                A bit difficult to measure, I dast say.

              2. *snicker* And the places that do keep track….may have conflicting urges….

                On the Washington Homeschool group page, there was a mini-freakout I got to see because some gal…I think it was down in Pierce County… was trying to figure out why her homeschool group had all evaporated over the summer without her hearing about it.
                Universal response: “What? Are you crazy? No way are we quitting. Where did you get that idea?”

                Their assigned school, where they have to file that they’re not going, gave an official number of the total number of kids homeschooled…. it was the same number as the lady’s kids. And about half of the number of families there that homeschool. They even tried to figure out if it might be “kids who have any kind of involvement,” but even after they corrected for “in a public league that uses the school grounds” it didn’t work.

              3. I know that California isn’t a green state on the HSLDA map, but I know a lot of people who “charter homeschool”, which I’m not sure is tracked the same way. There are quite a few charters that will sign you up, provide curriculum if you desire, and then let you homeschool all the way. If we were to homeschool, that would be the method (I have several friends who did this.) (As to why we’re not, we happen to live right near the school that just happens to be the best in the district for dealing with certain issues the kids have. And I do not know how to deal with those issues. They get lots of extra information and ad-hoc teaching moments at home.)

          2. And a few of us public schoolers who actually learned to think for themselves.

            And the answer to your question is “One I will happily be a part of.”

        2. well you are describing the leadership of OWS with it’s demands for free college after one leader had loan debt to the eyeballs and the inability to get a job even though he had a degree . . . in puppeteering

          1. A degree in puppeteering? Didn’t that qualify him to serve as a congressional staffer?

  11. I remember a time in the 60’s and even the early 70’s where if someone showed that you lied in an argument, you lost. Everyone would disagree with you.
    Where telling the truth was valued, even if it could be uncomfortable, but people wanted to know, -especially- if they were discovering that they had been misled by someone lying to them in the past.

    Now people are more than happy to be lied to, as long as the lies they hear agree with that they want to believe.

    1. That’s your truth; imposing it on others is an act of oppression. Imposing our truth on you is thus an act of liberation.

      Sigh. If only that were pure parody.

      Campus Shout-Downs Spread and So Do Laws to Stop Them
      Slowly but surely, shout-downs are becoming the go-to form of protest for students who’ve learned they needn’t fear punishment for disruptions. The process is being normalized. Protests are publicly organized on Facebook and students post videos of their exploits knowing there will be no consequences. Most important, disruptors now target professors teaching classes, and administrators giving speeches, as well as visiting speakers.

      Last year’s failure to punish shout-downs of visiting conservatives has given the all-clear signal for target escalation. I discussed all this in “The Campus Free-Speech Crisis Deepens.” In the 12 days since that post went up, the phenomenon has spread.

      The shout-down of an ACLU speaker at William and Mary, where protesters chanted “liberalism is white supremacy” and “the revolution will not uphold the Constitution,” has been widely reported. Three lesser-known incidents last week, however, illustrate the trend toward disrupting the core functioning of the university. …

  12. Lovely and brief (1’42”) exploration of MSM lies.

    Especially like they way they mock wanting to spend other people’s money.

  13. As children we were told repeatedly by our parents that when you stopped believing in Santa Claus, he stopped coming. Well into my teens I was loudly professing how much I believed in Santa, while quietly asking mother what she wanted father to buy her for Christmas, so I could make sure that he went out and got the right thing. I never hit a point where I felt I had been lied to when it came to free presents or chocolate or quarters under my pillow. Mom and dad were telling stories to explain gifts, and I was perfectly happy with nice stories like that. No, the problem came when I discovered where mom was keeping them and started recycling my lost teeth…

    1. A friend tells the story of how she handled it when her children made the discovery that there was no Santa Claus. She would ‘let them in on an even bigger secret’. No, there was no one who was Santa Claus, but now that they knew that they could be a part of the real Santa Claus and discover the joy of being a giver. She helped them choose a neighbor who they thought could really appreciate a gift. She then took them out to help select the present and to wrap it specially. Finally she helped the child leave the package in secret on the neighbor’s front porch for the recipient to discover.

    1. “There..are..four..lights!”
      The torture scene in this episode is nearly verbatim from Nineteen Eighty-Four’s “2 + 2 = 5”. In the novel, the slogan is a primary example of doublethink, the ability of the totalitarian ruling party to exert such control they can even make people admit obvious falsehoods. Sensory evidence – or in the case of the novel, analytic truth – is internalized as insanity, and external statements are internalized as true, even when the subject isn’t actually insane. The captors are showing their strength not just by forcing the captive, but by forcing reality itself.

      At the end of the novel, the main character is being tortured into admitting that 2 + 2 is in fact 5. Unlike Picard, he does break – he admits to seeing five fingers even though he really only sees four. This begins a downward slide into compliance with the state.
      Orwell invented this kind of situation as an allegory for the propaganda of the Nazi party, although he also applied it to Communism in Russia.

      In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?
      Once that level of control is reached – when you can convince someone that your statements have primacy over their mental processes – you can make them do anything.

      1. Unlike Picard, he does break

        “For just a moment, I saw five lights.”

        Either Picard broke and his “rescue” let him recover, or he was on the verge of breaking and would have without the rescue.

  14. I’m gonna be contrary here; I’ve ALWAYS thought that the atomic bomb was good for me. It would have been even better for me if we could have kept the Communists from getting one, and the spread to raving nutballs hasn’t helped, but the Cold War was cold because of the atomic bomb.

    1. USA and USSR fought indirectly for puppets and in part via puppets in the lands of the “third world” because they had nukes, and those who didn’t were up for grabs…
      And now let’s think: if not nukes, what USA and USSR would do? Ignore each other? Not a chance. Direct land war? Ha-ha. Submarine action all over? Air fleets clashing over Pacific? A total war would be obviously quite expensive without actual gain in sight. And neither dominated “third world” with nukes, but simply with having much more resources for conventional army. Atlantic Charter was signed before nukes, for that matter.
      USSR invading Europe? Maybe. But seeing what happened both before (it really needed Lend-Lease) and after (when the Soviet block began to disintegrate), would this have a good chance for results other than messy, yet inconclusive overexertion?
      So exactly how much the deterrent really achieved?

      1. Yes. Direct land war. Haven’t you ever heard of the Fulda Gap? Don’t you know where Alaska is?

        The USSR was perfectly happy to try to adopt the traditional expedient of aggressive conquerors — conquer lands to get pillage, and then use the pillage funds to keep conquering. We probably could have dealt with that crud, but a lot of us would have died; and Europe would never have been rebuilt.

    2. I only regret we failed to develop and deploy the neutron bomb.

      It would have been so much more humane than what weapons we did launch.

  15. I notice that for several hours this evening, e-mail received editions of comments here contained the following option:


    I liked that.

  16. Dear M. Hoyt,

    In re: the title of today’s post

    While I entirely agree with the sentiment, was it really necessary to yell?

  17. I’ve taken to calling this sort of thing “Unexploded Memetic Ordnance”. Like WWI shells in Belgium, these leftover toxic memes from wars past are still causing trouble today.

  18. There was a time in the late 40’s to early 50’s where we were grossly under estimating the effects of radiation (as opposed to now where we grossly over estimate the effects), and there was serious consideration of using Atomic Bombs as engineering tools.

    Examples I remember include blasting canals (“and 90% of the radioactive material will fall back into the crater and be under the water of the canal”), Old “bang-bang” (the original Orion Spacecraft), and the nuclear jet.

    It was a fairly short-lived time, but there was a window when the problems were not understood.

  19. It was over-reach and hubris by nuclear power advocates thst killed nuclear. Safety and security worries became crippling. Advocates scoffed. Normal people worried about storing the waste. Advocates said, don’t worry.

    A series of accidents and incidents, including the Utah downwinders and atomic soldiers, Detroit, Arco, Three-mile Island and Chernobyl, caused insurers and bankers to ask for guarantees of safety. When those guarantees did not come, and every single nuclear power plant construction ran way over budget, power companies could not service the debt. Banks wouldn’t loan the money to build.

    Our bankers were not communist dupes.

    1. No, it’s actually bullshit.
      The bankers were terrified of the protests. We DO KNOW the protests and bad publicity for nuclear anything were financed by the USSR. We have the archives.
      It was also obvious if you lived in Europe.

      1. If stationed to permanently guard the places we don’t put people we want to keep alive.

    2. One thing I noticed is that planning and setting up a new nuclear power plant is a multi-decade proposition. From environmental assessments, to local townhalls it takes time and money for any company to even THINK about building one. A lot of these onerous regulations were enacted after Three Mile Island and copied elsewhere.
      I know here in Ontario when they were talking about building another CANDU reactor on the shores of Lake Ontario, some eco-twit asked about protections from tsunamis like the one that had hit Fukushima? Seriously.
      So it’s not because of the risks of nuclear power it’s because it’s a long term investment that has a difficult risk of paying out that has banks shying away from investing in nuclear power.

      1. Did anyone point out to said ecotwit that 1) the last time a tsunami endangered Ontario, Pangea had not yet formed and 2) Gojira was not a documentary?

        1. I should find the video hearing that I saw that excerpt of. It was astounding at the level of idiocy on display just listening to his statement. Of course he was from Greenpeace and using current issues a world away to extend their agenda. Similar ecotwits stopped the hydro corporation from shipping “nuclear waste” (steel turbines that were slightly contaminated) on the great lakes. So the nuclear division needed to store it here in province and once again ecotwits are protesting keeping any nuclear waste here. *sigh*

      2. “planning and setting up a new nuclear power plant is a multi-decade proposition” – “nuclear” is irrelevant in this case.

  20. Talking about nuke energy and no one has mentioned the <China Syndrome?!? A beautiful piece of idiotic propaganda, that one was.

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