Go Small Young People, Go Small – A Blast From the Past From March 2016

*Sorry, still recovering from whatever the heck respiratory thing hit me, and in a deadline crunch.- SAH*

Go Small Young People, Go Small – A Blast From the Past From March 2016

There is a movement afoot to make our kids content with less.  My sons, both of them, like their parents, unable to comprehend the fact that body and mind have limits, have always dreamed big.  Now mind you most of their dreams are not predicated on “I will own” but on “I will do.”  In that they also resemble us, aka “why we’re not rich”: because while we don’t want anyone to pay our way, our work has always been geared to what we want to do and what we feel must be accomplished than merely to “I must get rich.”

No, the two are not exclusive, and getting rich doing what you feel must be done is the ultimate objective, but my husband has the tendency to refuse advancement which means he can no longer do the work he loves and I… I refused to “sell out” in a way and it wasn’t all politics.  It was also that the books that make you a darling of the industry could put an insomniac to sleep and are, therefore, torture to write.  At least for me, your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, etc.  (And the laugh line in all this is that the books I’d consider selling out and the ones I consider following my drive are completely reversed for the people using those terms.)  As for the activities purely designed to make money, neither of us could ever stay with them for very long.

Which explains why we’re not rich, and why there is a very strong chance our children won’t be.  That is not what the school was preparing them from.  In “job day” after “job day,” my kids would listen then come home baffled with some variation of “My classmates want to be bureaucrats who make a median salary, marry a median woman, drive a median car and have one or two median children.  None of them wants to push, invent, take risks, or make any waves at all.  And I can feel the push to be the same.  It’s what they want for us.”

If this were planned, I’d say it was attempt to make us like Sweden where the world “enough” has double plus GOOD connotations.  I’d say that it was an attempt, in other words, to make the American people suitable to Euro Socialism.

I don’t believe it’s planned.  Not in most of the people pushing for that.  I think it’s part of fifty years of education that pushed “the world is overpopulated”, “humanity is a burden” and “diet for a small planet,” and other bits of insanity.  The teachers and others pushing this point of view honestly think humans are scary and dangerous and if they don’t outright go out and start mowing them down, they try to convince them to do the equivalent of curling up in the fetal position and pretending not to be there.  (And don’t get me started on the pledges not to reproduce pushed at 12 year olds.  Just don’t.  It won’t go well.)

This is not what I mean by going small.  I don’t mean destroying your hopes and burying your ambitions and “leaving light footprints” or any of that nonsense.  I believe humanity has as many rights as any other species to “Grow, multiply, and fill the face of the Earth.”  More, maybe, since we have the means to control our environment that other species lack.  More, because if Earth’s biome ever explands to the stars — its one chance at survival in the truly long scales — it will be because humans took it there.

IOW, growth is what life does and human life is not less than other life.

What I mean by going small is different.

I’ve confessed before that before 9/11 I was an INTERNATIONALIST Libertarian.  This tends to make people who know me look at me as though I’d grown a second, evil head, and I confess those ten years were a sort of holiday from reason and thought.  The fairytale was so pretty I wanted to to work.  Besides, I have friends in a lot of countries who could work in a “one world” sort of thing.

Oh, I knew better — duh and derp — of course I did.  I knew most countries in the world are kleptocracies and this is not just the result of bad politics, but of bad culture.  The culture infects the politics and makes them what they are.  The country I came from still gets its politics from Rome, aka “rule of law? what rule of law?” or “he who has no godfather dies in jail.”  And this is not overcome by selling them slogans.  Their form of government changed at least 3 times (in macro movements) in the twentieth century but “the way things are done” didn’t, as it hasn’t in at least 2000 years and probably more, because that’s culture and the only way cultures change that rapidly is through major trauma, like invasion or mass death and even then never that much (and also there’s a boomerang tendency to revert) as Portugal’s history is example.

But I wanted to believe.  Not in a whole world of brotherwood or a Coke commercial, but in a world of free humans working together.

I read Grumbles from the Grave and P.J. O’Rourke’s all the trouble in the World and Eat the Rich and foreign news and history, but you can picture me with hands over ears going “lalalalalalala.”

9/11 shattered that and at any rate I was always a bizarre sort of internationalist as I was an American patriot and for small governments and didn’t wish national identities to be abolished, only, somehow, for countries to work in harmony for free minds and free markets.  (And for my next trick, I shall make this elephant fly.  Fly, elephant, fly.)

9/11 shattered my “lalalalalala.” It shattered a lot of people’s more serious belief in “one world” government/polity/entity whatever you wish to call it.

This is a very old idea, a very old thought, that people came up with to “prevent war.”  i.e. “if we all were one nation, there would be no war.”  Which is stupid, given the number and nature of civil wars throughout human history, but never mind.

The generation that fought WWI embraced it with the fervor of desperate, shell-shocked children.  This is why so many of the early science fiction books assume it, and so many of the tv series use it not just as a background for humanity, but as part of what makes a world/breed/etc civilized.

This seems more plausible to America than anywhere else because, as noted here before, our states have a very different culture but the same, overlaying structures that ensure easy movement between states and communication between every citizen, as well as a sense of belonging.  It’s easy to think this means we could extend it to the world and make it the same.

It’s easy to think but impossible to implement.  I’ve heard that entire Italian villages moved en mass to NY in the early 20th century.  This might be true but I suspect it’s a bit of an exaggeration.  It’s more “everyone who was young and who had a mind to succeed moved.”  IOW those who came what was then (due to slowness of travel, and expense) an almost for sure one-way trip were of a different mind as those left behind.  They were also, consciously or not, willing to work to shed their centuries of culture and the things that made the land they came from what it was.

This is not the same now, because travel is a few hours and relatively cheap.  We see the problem of this in moves between states too.  Used to be you moved, you adapted to local ways of doing things.  Moves were always piece-meal anyway save for great migrations caused by massive disturbances.  And even then The Grapes of Wrath might have overstated the matter a bit. Now it’s easier to move between states for a job or an opportunity, and that means when states become inimical to job creation, they send vast hordes forth to get jobs elsewhere.  Hordes that bring with them their way of voting that made the initial state inimical to job creation.  Or as we call it around these parts, Californication.

Partly in reaction to that, and partly because it’s obvious attempting to get people to reject their country isn’t working, and partly because we have been pounded for a century, via all forms of media and education with the idea of “identities” hinging on totally insane things like skin color, food preferences and a myriad other incidental characteristics, there is a nativist/racial/statist movement afoot. Now that movement is more plausible than the one-worlders.  I never understood how, having determined that dividing people into economic classes and setting them against each other wouldn’t bring about paradise, the one-worlder Marxists convinced themselves setting people against each other by melanin content and what is between their legs and other more or less arbitrary characteristics would a) yield uniform classes and b) bring about utopia.  I think the underwear gnome was involved in their plans.  And it is also, invariably involved in the “national identititarians” plan.

There aren’t many of them, mind, but like the one worlders they are convinced the world is inevitably going to go their way and they’re the way of the future.  Look, guys, if you find an arrow in history tell me, okay?

And like the one-worlders, their conviction comes partly from the belief humans are widgets.  All they disagree on is what divides one set of widgets from the other.

Unfortunately for them and everyone else who has  sought to impose an arrow on history, humans aren’t widgets, and even if there is such things as an “average” woman or man, worker or intellectual, Masai cowherd or German goatheard, the “average” is a mathematical construction created by statistics and if you meet these people you find that each is highly individual.

And the tendency to view people as “average” and “median” and to divide them according to statistical characteristics is a twentieth century characteristic born of the typical industry of the twentieth century.  I.e. when the watchword of the century was the refinement of the previous century’s “mass manufacturing” and “mass production” one had to know what the average or median person wanted.

Because while people aren’t widgets, it is possible to produce something with the maximum appeal to most of them.  Surveys, statistics, etc, all reveal what’s the most acceptable to the majority of people.

If there are two TV channels (what I grew up with) none of them is going to devote three days to an extended documentary on dinosaurs, because the majority of people would be bored stiff by that, have their eyes roll inward on their skull, and go to sleep.

But if there are 300 channels, one of them can be the “dedicated dinosaur channel” and it will find enough audience to survive.

The technology of the time didn’t allow 300 channels, or personal 3-D printing, or authors to put their own books up for sale, worldwide.

For the two centuries before us, the economies of scale and mass production have tended to try to make everyone as close to the same as possible, so the industry could provide them with the means for civilized living.

And that’s where the one worlders’ dreams came from.  “Make everyone the same and everyone will be happy.”  (Not quite that way, but you get a whiff of this in early Heinleins.  Never that stupid, because the man had a brain, and knew there would be malcontents anyway.

The nationalists’ dreams come from seeing the obvious flaws in that, the persistent nature of culture, the horrors of trying to make many nations one.  Because that never ends well.  And it is aided and abetted by “the future and its enemies.”  Ie. the bureaucrats and other classes that have grown fat on the nation-state and who therefore long to extend and expand their power.  Mind, it’s much easier to be a kleptocrat over a more or less small and homogeneous nation.

And they come too from the fact that nation-states have been sold for what? three centuries now, as a form of uber-identity that replaced religion as Europe became industrialized.

Only nation-states are children of mass production, took off at the same time as the industrial revolution, and are, in the end, wholly artificial creations in human history.

Sure, humans identify with/are designed to identify with a tribe.  And the tribe is, as far as studies can determine, suppose to be about 50.  A couple hundred people, at the most. IOW “Me and my cousins.”

That means when the nation state “stole” tribal affiliation and put it to work for the nation state it had to pervert it.  It had to devote its not inconsiderable mass-media and mass education to make people think of the nation as a tribe.  This was probably (mostly) not done on purpose, though heaven knows I’ve read my shre of books approved of and designed by central states selling the idea of “the Portuguese race” or “the British Race” or even “The German race.”

Even in countries as small as Great Britain or Portugal, the regional differences are vast, the tribal loyalties often vivid and vociferous and the cracks the nation-state papers over momentous.  For “countries” like Italy or Germany, children of the nation state movement, itself, it is about as accurate to speak of a national identity as it is to speak of a Kenyan or Rwandan national identity.  The borders were drawn by bureaucrats, planners (or conquerors) and have bloody nothing to do with the “tribes” underneath.

The only way to keep the nation state cohesive and to sell them on the idea they are a tribe (and thus harness the instinctual need for a tribe) is constant propaganda by mass-media means, and the harnessing of people’s longing for a great tribal leader which was probably evolutionarily sane when we lived in hominid bands (IOW yesterday in evolutionary terms.)

This is why nation states are always and forever looking for the man on the white horse, the father of the nation, etc.  IOW it’s why the twentieth century was the twentieth century.

But the thing to remember is that the nation state on a large scale, itself, was a creation of mass industrialization.  Even the empires of the past were different.  Even the Roman idea of making everyone a Roman citizen was a different thing, because they had no mass media and no way to sell “we are tribe.”  So the Roman citizen might adopt a lot of the identity but it was overlaid on his local identity of Celt or Greek, and the underlying identity was made to work with the overarching one, instead of being crushed by it.

In the same way, even old and on an European scale relatively large countries like France, took centuries to eliminate — by education and identification, and ultimately by force — other linguistic/cultural groups within themselves. Because they couldn’t put on TV programs every morning telling children they loved Big Brother.

What I mean is that the last two centuries of civilized life have been profoundly unnatural for humans.  Look, not complaining.  Natural is sleeping naked in the Savannah.

But the point is that the type of industry and communication that brought about these massive nation states (the bigger the better) with their massive bureaucracies is being replaced by “smaller, more personal, more agile.”

This doesn’t mean the future is ripe for one-world.  On the contrary.  And it doesn’t mean the world is ripe for nation-states.  On the contrary.

Go small, young people, go small.

I’ve been watching this work in my own industry, where the most agile people are the ones doing well, and to the extent that publishers will survive (let alone thrive) it will be the ones who are willing to keep as small a staff as possible, subcontract/pay bounties on individual jobs that need to be done for books, and generally be capable of shedding/adding functions as the market conditions evolve.  (I’m not saying that the big publishers won’t stay around.  It takes a long time to kill a behemoth.  Just that they in no way are suited to the conditions on the ground now.)

It’s sort of the same with nation-states.  Nation states serve some vital functions that smaller groupings (and certainly our individual, tribal groupings) aren’t very good at: mutual defense.  Construction of large scale things, some of which will still be needed, like, say highways, and ultimately the suppression of tribalism.

But Sarah, you just said tribalism was good!  No, I said tribalism is natural, and you have to accept it’s there, and by tribalism I mean the fighting of groups of about 100 people against groups of about 100 people, whether the fight is financial, of words or physical.  We identify with an “extended family” of blood or not, and will defend it against all comers.  It’s what makes humans so admirable — and so screwed up.

The bad side of that is that left on their own anything larger than a medium city would be a nightmare of internecine warfare, and why the one-worlders and “governments will just wither away” people are nuts.

So the overarching government of nation or state is needed to keep the tribal impulses at bay and to guide the entity to the common good.

But what the twentieth century has shown us is that decisions should be made on as local a level as possible, not only because people accept that better, but because people closer to the problem are less likely to think it’s a great idea to sow wheat in the snow or to teach all the kids that the sky is made of green cheese.  Not that as small as possible rule doesn’t also go wrong.  We all know tyrannical families and crazy-cakes small cities.But when polities that small are completely insane, at least the damage is contained, while when an entire country goes batexcrement insane you get WWII.

So it would seem the ideal political organization for what our industry is becoming and what our technology is enabling would be a “nation state” loosely connected and with a relatively powerless central government whose only function would be to prevent inner strife, defend the nation (both in the sense of war and guarding the borders) and oh, I don’t know, provide for the common good by arbitrating those projects that must be large enough to span all the myriad states that otherwise comprise the nation.

And each of such states and each of the entities under them should be as free to govern themselves as possible, each unite, down to the individual, retaining as much autonomy as physically and mentally possible.

Such state would be very agile and able to change itself in an era when technology and industry are changing at an incredibly fast rate.  It would be a chaos dancer, capable of being both very large and very small, and flowing into the future seamlessly.

Of course, such a country would not have survived very well in the nineteenth and twentieth century when the ideas of the mass-industrialized “tribe” nationalistic state were ascendant and what every right thinking person “knew.”  And it would have trouble, being relatively powerless at the central level, countering the naked aggression of those nation-states. So it would change to fit the times.

It is probably pure coincidence that the way it was founded is now more suited to the coming technology and industry.  Or possibly because the coming industry and techonology allow for the emergence of very old tendencies in humans, it was designed that way by people who thought deeply about the nature of humans.

I’m not a materialist determinist.  I don’t believe that the material conditions determine the mental and emotional state of men by themselves.  In many ways not only doesn’t man live by bread alone, but man lives by belief alone, in that he is able to hold on to beliefs contrary to reality even when it destroys everything around a culture/nation/etc.  Look at North Korea or Cuba.

But by and large, and always providing for stragglers, the way the cultures of humanity are expressed, the way people LIVE is determined by the technology/industry of the time.

Thus, mass industrialization birthed the nation state.  And as mass industrialization is tottering, the nation state as we know it (which is not the same as tribal identification/regional loyalty, etc, but is an overarching bureaucratic entity selling itself as a tribal entity) is tottering with it.

This is not to say the one-worlders are right — I can’t imagine a HUMAN world in which they would be right. You can’t just blend all human cultures and come up with anything usable.  The only possible one-world government would be in a world settled exclusively by one culture.  And even there, as the world population grows, it will fragment.

In fact, both nation-states and one-worlders are ideas of the past, brought about by mass-everything.

I expect the world of more individualized everything will bring about a lot of small units — down to the individual — that connect upwards in ever larger/less powerful entities, till at the top of a large enough territory is one that just provides for the common welfare (ie. too big to be done in small scale) and common defense.

Where I differ from other people who see that and see “one world” is that there are common cultures and common geographic areas that must be respected, and people are not widgets.  The importation of say masses of middle easterners into Germany is not possibly while watching out for the common defense and welfare of Germany.  Not that Germany is really an ethnic entity (it is composed of smaller tribes, and since WWII it has absorbed masses of immigrants) but because it is a geographical and cultural entity and you can’t simply move individuals in and out of those.

In other words, I think we need nations.  I just think in the coming era those that survive, thrive and make their citizens rich will be those that are as decentralized as possible at their center, while defending themselves and understanding the cultures that comprise them.

How we get there is something else.  It will happen, because humans always adapt to the changes in tech and industry.

But it’s not straight forward or rational.  Which is why at least half (and possibly more) of the right AND left feeling we’ve gone down a wrong path are reaching back for solutions, but not far enough back, which is why there seems to be a growing consensus for national socialism.

It won’t work.  It’s like the publishing houses trying to solve their problems by pricing e-books higher and giving myriad interviews about how ebooks are vanishing.

The denial of reality is strong in humans and can be imposed for a period of time, but not on the whole world and not without consequences.

The future is small, more fragmented and overall (not accounting for small pockets of tyranny) much freer.

IOW in the end we win, they lose.

Getting there, OTOH, as any great movement in “how we live” in the history of humanity is going to involve convulsions and conflicts and mass-scale dislocations that will at times feel the world is coming apart at the seams.

That’s because it is. But it doesn’t follow, no matter how painful the process, that what results from that is a bad thing.

The important thing is to neither prematurely try to make the world burn nor (prematurely also) reach for a solution of the recent past.  Both of them are normal human reactions, but both of them will do nothing but delay the solution and create devastation and suffering.

In the end, the future is small.  And if we can get there it would enable the biggest and most glorious form of human civilization yet:agile and capable of rapid change and keeping the bad side of the human nature to as small a group as possible, while maximizing human ability to create and prosper.

Go small, young people, go small. And dream big.





217 thoughts on “Go Small Young People, Go Small – A Blast From the Past From March 2016

  1. Still recovering? My gracious, breathing is soooooo over-rated. So far as I know, nobody ever complains of not breathing … at least, not after the first five minutes or so, which seems a reasonable time to get accustomed to it.

  2. The teachers and others pushing this point of view honestly think humans are scary and dangerous …

    When you consider the effects of contemporary school disciplinary policies this is an entirely understandable point of view.

    Add in the fact that Anthroprogenic Global Warming is melting the Antarctic ice cap by causing a hundred undersea volcanoes to bloom and their view of humanity is quite pragmatic.

    OTOH, I have seen many reports about the commonality of Side Gigs amongst Twenty-somethings and reports declaring them the least entrepreneurial Americans EVAH and cannot help wondering WTF is going on with these reports.

    1. “Fellow creatures.. I must tell you of these.. humans.. they are all over the earth. And the sea. On it, in it, even under it. They have tunnels through the rocks, and means to fly in the sky… truly wondrous abilities, yes. And yet they often say they are ‘only’ human. Imagine!”

      “Now, in general, they are friendly or at least not unfriendly, but any approach is best done slowly if it all. They do not take to surprise well. This doesn’t mean they are unapproachable, just that great care is needed.”

      “When in doubt, stay clear. A mutual ‘leave alone’ is often best if that is not possible. Do NOT give them a reason to fear or hate… they can become more scary and dangerous than you imagine. Perhaps than you can imagine. They’ve been known to hunt by merely walking… seemingly tirelessly – no matter where you go, or how far, or for how long, there they are. And that’s just the beginning. Why they at times call us monsters… we’re working on that puzzle.”

      1. (WP ate first reply)
        In my tutoring of undergrads, I used to have a prop borrowed from the specimens lab. It was a reproduction- very well done- of a hominid skull. A very particular hominid skull.

        It has two rather large holes in it. And gouges below the occipetal region (bulge at the back of your head- it’s a muscle attachment point).

        Early hominds had a bad hand dealt them. At the time, they were relatively small, weak, short sighted, slow, and tasty. Bad combination to have, on the African plain. (at this point, hold up another skull. Big teeth. The canines match the holes in the first skull almost perfectly).

        Predator eyes, but none of the equipment the major predators got. Or even predators in their mass range. Early hominds were prey animals to the bigger predators, like everything else. And easier to catch than a gazelle. (side lecture on other animals in that mass range- early homo gets the short end of the stick every time.)

        Fast forward a few hundred thousand years. (show different skull. Bigger brain box, but otherwise about the same. A bit less prognathic (forwarad jutting muzzle), but I’ve got cousins who could pass for h. habilis if the light was dim. These guys are now your apex predator. You don’t see this (holds up first skull) but once in a great blue moon, and this guy (holds up predator skull) is darn near extinct.

        Bigger brains are dangerous weapons, folks.

        That usually got some attention. *chuckle*

        1. Hopefully, you also pointed out that each skull had less molars. An important lesson for evangelical vegans.

          1. *grin* Dentition was another lecture, but yeah, that was mentioned (big cats don’t need molars as much as they do those sharp, pointy teeth. *chuckle*). In homo you’ve got the same 2123 formula that goes waaay on back, past A. Afarensis. The *size* of the molars is pretty impressive. Massive things. They crunched up seeds with ’em most like, along with roots, flowers, and bulbs.

            Interesting to note is how dentition changed very closely linked to brain size. The entire dental arcade shrinks down to what it is today from this massive maw that could fit lots and lots of food in it, to chew, and chew with those big molars (did an example with a cheeseburger once. Didn’t even touch the inner sides of those teeth). There’s a theory still floating around about how increased meat intake boosted intelligence (more protein in the diet earlier on in childhood/adolescence rather than ‘vegetarian’ diets meant smarter hominids, which led to more meat in the diet, etc., etc.).

              1. Yup. Don’t need it for all that extra crushing power when your food is softer. Cooked, even!

                Side note. The sagittal crest is gone as a species marker, but I’ve handled specimens of modern humans that *did* have rugose muscle markings along the line of the sagittal suture. It’s puny compared to our early hominid ancestors, but that sort of raised ridge means a lot more surface area for muscle to attach. Serious mandible on that fellow, too.

          2. *mischievous grin* But Draven daaaah-link, didn’t you know that civilization is bad for us! Why it brought us grain, and evil gluten, those dreadful sugar molecules, and is what is keeping us from being all natural vegans, don’tcha know? And the only thing that’s keeping us from returning to such a wonderful natural state are evil conservatives! Really!

            (for any those with severe brain damage out there – yes, I’m not serious and joking, by poking fun at those who actually believe in that.)

            1. Those who praise the hunter-gather lifestyle have never actually lived the hunter-gather lifestyle.

                1. Skunks, bears, feral hogs, dysentery, taking a crap in winter, lack of spices (know where a good salt lick is- locally? Most people don’t have the slightest clue), absence of medical care, absence of snapchat/instagram/wifi, and nobody giving a dump about your extra special non-white intersectional intersex freakout? *chuckle* I give ’em three days before they’re set on by feral dogs, tops. But then I’m evil like that.

                  1. In the tropics, you have heat, moisture, mosquitoes, mosquito born illnesses, scabies, ringworm fungus, rapid spoilage, bees in the outhouse, bugs, and I can go on.

                    1. Oh lord yes. There’s also prion diseases and all sorts of lovelies to friends with you down thataways. At least up in the Appalachians you might leave a corpse for more than a week with the major bits still there. *chuckle* Aye there’s plenty enough life that wants to chow down on your giblets in temperate climates, but it gets *mean* in the tropics.

                    2. And the’s that other group of people who think the spot with the fresh running water and edible bits belongs to them, and they’re not about to share.

                    3. Oh yes. My father recounted that one of his colleagues got disappeared during the Martial Law Era. The only thing they found of him in the shallow jungle grave he ended up in was the remnants of a few rotting bones, and his custom made belt buckle, which is how they identified said remains.

              1. I’m native, I was raised with a small taste of living off the land. My brothers were hunters, a lot more in their youth than now but their sons have kept it up, and my dad fished and did a lot of the work on my grand dad’s ranch for our meat. I also went on “field trips” where I learned what was good to eat and picked berries and roots and things. It was a ton of work and sweat. A hard way to make a living even with modern conveniences.

                From one of my field trips I learned that you can be up in the mountains harvesting for 3 days with a bunch of people working together without much to show for it. In the end we had about 1-2 giant buckets filled with berries. At the end of the weekend we made about 40 small sandwich baggies to give to the village elders and for the pickers to take 1 home each. I think some went into jams as well for school fundraisers but their really wasn’t much. I wouldn’t want to count on that alone for my livelihood.

                Granted some people were assholes and didn’t put their berries in the shared pot. But I figure that’s human nature and there would be people like that in hunter gatherer societies as well. I’ve got an interesting story about that. Apparently the people who didn’t share saw things in the woods on the last day. I wouldn’t know. I suspect the elders with us might have had something to do with that. 😉

            2. to which i respond, “Cool, go live without civilization. No, you can’t pack a backpack. or take clothes.”

                  1. Well, there’s always willow bark. If you have a mild headache. And can handle the bitter taste. The more potent stuff’s illegal, or takes serious “civilization-y” stuff to refine. And how likely are any of ’em to know the ins and outs of penicillin? Or remember to boil their drinking water? Every time?

                    And the lack of razors. And soap, how could I forget soap?

                    1. Soap is especially useful if you do not have any antibiotics.

                      I wonder how many of these twits imagine that potable water is readily available in quantity occurs naturally?

              1. Or toilet paper. Or feminine products.

                I was going to make a joke about getting a sex change in the wilderness, but I think I’ll let that one go. heh.

                1. The stupidity of “back to the land” and “the simple life” knows no bounds and is not limited to any particular era. Marie Antoinette (sp?) had a fake farm on which she pretened to be a milk maid.

                  Honey, you don’t have the forearms for it.

                  The Trancendentalists talked about founding a commune where each of them would do a little of the work to make the whole possible. I believe their wives (who knew goddamned well who would be taking up the slack) put a stop to it.

                  Jean Jacques Rousseau doesn’t get one half the kicking he deserves. His grave really should be a urinal.

                  1. “His grave really should be a urinal.”
                    I need to organize a “Piss on the Bastidge’s Grave” tour company.
                    Rousseau, Marx, Hegel, Clinton… so many graves that deserve a good piss.

                    1. I was going to comment that neither of the Clintons are dead yet ( or are they just un-buried? ), then I realized that it would be even more satisfying to piss on them in person as it would be to piss on their graves.

                    2. There’s some people who wouldn’t piss on the Clintons if they were on fire. Me, I totally would. I’m nicer than most folks.

            3. The latest version of that whine that I’ve seen are people conceding that MAYBE, just maybe, it’s better to live in a twenty-first century house with AC and central heating and indoor plumbing and wifi and the like than it would be to wander around picking berries and pursuing the buffalo herds. However, everything prior to that was sheer misery as compared to the glorious life the hunter-gather had, and thus, civilization was clearly a mistake, because the cost getting to this point wasn’t worth it.

              I suspect this variation came about precisely because they didn’t want anyone to say, “Well if living on nuts and berries is so great, why don’t you do it.” However, I’m not quite sure how to deal with the ignorance that went into the statement in the first place.

                  1. But you aren’t a “back to nature” nutter.
                    Though some of that sense might be from reading those “Back in the Middle Ages…” text and going, “You mean, just like during my childhood?” You’ve felt progress (of the non-“progressive” sort).

                  2. You sound like my grandfather. He was of the opinion that the entire reason that he worked hard at his job was so that his family wouldn’t end up sleeping in a tent.

                    1. There are two kinds of people in this argument: those who side with Joan Baez …

                      … and those who side with the Dillards.

              1. My husband showed me a snarky comic strip he ran across some months back: it depicted a guy who decided to get away from it all, went hiking with the backpack and tent… their ears plugged with their ipod, and constantly instagramming their WONDERFUL VIEWS.

                (Personally, I like the music soundtrack while I walk, but I keep one bud out, and I will periodically turn off the thing.)

  3. “…to make the American people suitable to Euro Socialism.
    I don’t believe it’s planned. Not in most of the people pushing for that.”

    In retrospect, I think you were wrong about this. Oh, maybe not a diabolical set of goals like the 45 Communist Goals read into the Congressional record; or constructed like Richmond Valentine’s plot to induce global mass homicidal activity via free cell phones in “Kingsman”. No. This is more of an attitude sitting in the minds of politicians, bureaucrats, and the progressive elite rich where they foster mandatory public education of the masses into identical, semi-contented drones while sending their own children to elite schools and encouraging them to become avaricious, tyrannical overlords masquerading as public servants.

    1. The Political Elites want small minded mediocre people because THEY are small minded mediocre people, and they are scared that big minded excellent people will disregard them.

      This is the one thing that makes a hereditary Aristocracy better than the curren bunch of biffledinks. A mediocre King can wish to foster a Great people because he is resonably sure that they will support and uplift him. Oh, he probably won’t; small minded mediocrities resent excellence instinctively, but he COULD. This is why sweeping fantasy or space opera works so well with Kingdoms and Empires, and temds to falter with other cultural backgrounds.

      But the Political Left (and to a slightly lesser degree the Loyal Opposition Republicans) is made up of mediocrities who have power and position because they banded together. In other words, instinctive Fascists. They desperately don’t want a population that aspires to greatness, because it might get some and then they would look as small as they are. You can see it in thr films they praise. They love war films that make the little guy look helpless in the vast mess of war. They loathe war films that show an individual rising above the mess and succeeding. So they praise SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and ignore GETTYSBURG (with its stirring portrait of Joshua Chamberlain.)

      1. I don’t know who first made the observation that “A” grade people surround themselves with “A” grade people, while “B” grade people surround themselves with “C” grade people — but whoever it was, he or she was spot on.

        1. It isn’t always the case, at least with ‘B’ grade people. Some of them are clever enough to surround themselves with ‘B’ grade or better, and concentrate on being the hub. My Father’s mentor in History of Science was like that. He had one outstanding idea (that History of Sciemce needed to be examined by peole who knew both), and collected a first rate bunch of students, most of whom did more important work amd published better papers than he did.

          But ‘C’ grade people ALWAYS surround themselves with ‘C-‘ and lower, until you get far enough from the center for some ‘B’ grades who actually do the work.

        2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
          “In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence”

          The C people and on down don’t know they are incompetent; they may not recognize it in others either; therefore, they think they are top-of-the-line performers surrounding themselves with brilliant henchmen.
          Some B grades know what they are; C’s probably don’t (it’s someone else’s fault if they don’t succeed).

            1. This is a better than the Dunning-Kruger effect. If Dunning-Kruger was causing the C-and-lower people to fail to recognize their own incompetence, then since they don’t know what competence looks like, they wouldn’t be able to filter for (or against) it, and by random chance they’d tend to surround themselves with some A people. But since most C people tend to end up without A people around, then they must be able to recognize them, and therefore Dunning-Kruger is not what’s happening here. It’s the crab bucket, not Dunning-Kruger.

              1. The Cs might not be able to recognize the As off the bat, but competence has a tendency to be seen through people’s reactions to the A – especially if the people in question are say, supervisors or higher. “Wha- why did the quiet four eyes in the corner get praised by the CEO – RED ALERT. THREAT DETECTED.”

                I’ve been told I’ve got great leadership qualities, except for the fact that I really, really would rather I get the job done, hand the result to the boss, and be left alone in my corner, working. The situation I described above was exactly how I ended up with more than once workplace problems – prescisely because of threatened C and B-ers who fail to recognize the A they’re freaking about has no interest in their itty little fiefdoms (Or, as you put it, their little crab buckets). I prefer telecommutes.

      2. “Biffledinks”? May I appropriate that, please? That’s wonderful (for when I don’t want to use … more vulgar language).

  4. The whole “hygge” thing made me blink when it first appeared. When it started shifting into “Scandinavians live small and like sweaters [because of the cost of energy] and it is morally better and you’ll like it, see” I started getting the creeps. I prefer gemutlich as I define it, thank you.

    Yes, humans are scary and dangerous. How else did we become apex predators in so many places, and dang near close to the top in others? Like Aslan, we can be very good, but we are never safe.*

    *Especially not when in a group of 22, ages 11-17, and left unsupervised in a life science classroom for more than a femtosecond. Or so I’ve been warned by One Who Knows.

    1. Heh. I remember clearing most of a floor in high school (centered on the Chem lab) by pouring hydrochloric acid into a hot beaker (just out of a dryer, or heated over a bunsen burner, I forget) when the teacher wasn’t paying close attention…

      1. That was the class after me, IIRC. I just went the easy route – took a chunk of sodium out of the oil and left it on the counter…

        Sigh. I think my own kids might have been allowed to actually hands-on experiment with PH strips on very weak premade solutions, or maybe dye diffusion. (Trying to think of ways to blow those up – must be getting old, I’m sure I would have managed it at sixteen.)

        1. *grumble* My chemistry class in high school was very boring. VERY BORING. No experiments with such lovely things like bunsen burners or beakers. The most we did was make mayonaise and soap, and I wasn’t allowed to play with the soap chemicals. We were only supposed to observe.

          1. Actually, if they had taught me mayonnaise in high school, it probably would have been more useful – I had to learn that on my own, much later in life. (Colloidal chemistry is actually not all that simple. At least not when you adding other things to the basic formula.)

            Although there have been some staff meetings where I would have liked to have a chunk of alkali metal to toss on to the middle of the conference table. Probably would have been charged with multiple homicide, though; the participants would never have woken up in time to get out of the room…

            1. We did a good bit of experimentation, but this was back in the day. Once our teacher had us do the hydrogen sulfide experiment again, this time running the exhaust hose out the transoms at the top of the wall into the hallway for “safety.” She had gotten into a tiff with the assistant principal. Then was the day we did the thermite reaction, on the lab table in front of the open door, just as classes were changing.

              1. Thermite is fun. What was even more cool was using it to weld two pieces of metal together. Showed me that it wasn’t necessarily just for destroying or cutting things.

            2. I hand mixed that mayonnaise, and since the teacher saw that I was the only one who was willing to do it, I was the only one in the whole damn class who got the grade. My arm hurt afterward, but 100% grade. (There was a good reason why other students hated me, and why teachers liked me, and it was because I enjoyed learning.)

              Quite honestly I don’t see why we had to make such a massive batch, when making a small batch – perhaps a cup of mayo worth – would have done the same for an experiment.

              1. Hmm. Did you teacher seem to be eating a lot of potato salad after that lab?

                Hand mixing is the way to go, though. I tried a machine once, and it turned out not much better than what I could buy in the store.

    2. “It’s getting harder and hard to find rat poisons beyond D-con.”

      “You know you can make some mighty effective stuff from common cleaning products.”


      “But you won’t want to be around for a while. And need shut off any pilot lights and such beforehand.”


            1. Used to be on the shelf at Safeway. Vanished here over 20 years ago. Supposedly at the request of the drug goomers, who claimed stoners were using it to make meth,

              Seems like that’s their claim every time they ban or restrict some previously-common household item…

              1. Yep, that or close to it. Pa & I used to use the lye and some aluminum foil (and a water bath to cool the reaction vessel) to produce hydrogen for balloons… or soap bubbles.

                1. And the optimum reaction vessel? An old Coca-Cola Bottle meant for return and reuse. Incredibly tough as Coca-Cola was highly carbonated and the cleaning process was VERY high temp/pressure to make sure the bottles were sterile so the glass was super thick.

                  1. Yep. And a gallon ice cream bucket holding the water bath.

                    I can just hear folks nowadays, “GLASS reaction vessel? That go hot?!”

                    Well, it was accounted for. And.. it’s what we had.
                    Some of what is done today was impossible back when.
                    But much is simply more convenient today.

      1. “And stand to the side when opening the door upon your return. For several minutes, at least.”

      2. I miss D-con with warfarin. We’re getting mice in the two Subaru Foresters; they’ll camp out in the spare tire well and tool tray above the tire. Must look for a vent, I suppose.

    3. But those evil Scandinavians are exploiting those poor sheep and taking their hair!
      PETAphiles drive me nuts.

      1. If you watch New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS, you’ll see that their hygge isn’t anything like people here talk about hygge. The one chef apparently thinks that hygge is having a giant meatcutter from the 1950’s in his kitchen, which he initially persuaded his young wife would be better than a second car. (They’ve got a car now, and a bigger house, but they still have a giant meatcutter. The chef really really has a thing for eating and serving ham.)

        There is also a suspicious lack of Muslim-looking people on New Scandinavian Cooking. Of course, there’s also a tall blonde lady who’s very good with a knife…not saying that’s related, but….

  5. The leftists seem to manage to get control of the Knoxville city government around here (I blame the U of T. 🙂 ), but the rest of east Tennessee just ignores them and basically says, “Hell no!” whenever the left tries to insist we do something stupidly collectivist. I really can’t see how they have much chance at getting famously stubborn Appalachians to just shut up and do as their told. That sort of obedience just doesn’t seem to be in the genotype.

    1. They’ve run into that before. I think, but cannot prove, that the stereotype of the dumb hillbilly has its roots in efforts by FDRs government to create a cultural perception that would make it OK to push them around. I know that Skyline Drive and the associated park exists because the government wanted thise folk out of the hills and into the towns where they could be managed.

      1. That’s one that’s been around for awhile–it’s just a variation of the country bumpkin. Not to say that FDR et. al. wouldn’t have done their best to propagate such a stereotype, mind, but they didn’t create it.

        1. Well, there’s also the theme of the country bumpkin fooling the “smart” city guy.

          While the “Wisemen of Gotham” was somewhat a story about about a bunch of idiot “country bumpkins”, one story of them can be read as them fooling the King.

          Of course, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (ie Headless Horseman)” isn’t a real ghost story but is about the smart city slicker Ichabod Crane being fooled by Brom Bones.

          IE The Headless Horseman was actually Brom Bones and Crane ran away after realizing that he’d been fooled. 👿

            1. I had a friend working for the NC Highway System who had a large fund of stories about dumb-ass rednecks along the Blue Ridge and in the Smokies selling mountain land — perfect for development as ski slopes! — to Yankees too smart to review annual mean snowfall records.

            2. Not just Southerners; when I lived in rural New Hampshire, every tiny little village (read, where a cow path crossed the highway) had at least two, if not more, “antique” shops.

              1. It is quite common for areas with declining populations to have multiple Second-Hand Furniture antique shoppes. The smaller their present population the more such shops.

      2. Nothing to do with FDR. You can find this sort of regional bias prior to 1860, though stronger along North-South lines. And I know for a fact that Southerners played it up when there was a Yankee to fleece.

        Erskine Caldwell wrote his claptrap all without FDR looking over his shoulder, and his name and Tobacco Road were practically swear words with my sharecropper ancestors who did not care for how he portrayed them. And yet this is what Caldwell believed, believed so strongly he was baffled by the reaction of those he wanted to “help.”

        Relocations are another story. The government relocates when they want the land. My wife’s mother’s family was relocated that way. It’s how “government houses,” small, tight, houses all built on the same floor plan, sprang up all across the South. They didn’t relocate everyone to towns, or commune-type farms.

      3. The “Li’l Abner” comic strip began in 1934, which may predate FDR’s efforts — particularly as it obviously payed on already existing stereotyping.

        OTOH, as recently as Bill Clinton’s administration the Welfare Farmers were bemoaning the independence of Appalachia’s Scots-Irish culture and their refusal to accept government “benefits.”

    2. And they managed to turn West Virginia into a republican state by their methods. All those diehard union guys figured out quick the UMWA does little good when there are no Ms to W in.

      1. West Virginia has had a problem with the Democrats since the FDR days, when the War Resources Board basically turned them into slaves. The miners weren’t allowed to quit or change jobs, which turned them hard left as they went for union representation, then back to the right after they figured the unions were shafting them.

  6. Their idea of the ideal future is one of small populations of farmers eating food locally grown, with a powerful government ruling over all. In other words, the Middle Ages.

    1. True enough, but they forgot the part about how the Aristocrats became the aristocrats because they were the ones with the weapons.
      Setting a grand plan into motion, then buggering it up because they forgot a crucial detail- so very typical.

      1. They imagine themselves the Grima Wormtongues of the new aristocracy, advising the “rulers” and managing their affairs.

        1. Don’t the Zeks pretty much always think that? Just before they wind up in the Gulags, that is.

          1. The story is told as true of a Soviet party boss who diverted funds to a prison while another facility (maybe a school) was in dire need of work. When an aid pointed it out, he said “Where do you think I’ll be next year, in the school or the prison?” Sure enough, he got caught up in one of their periodic power shifts, and was sent to the prison.

  7. “the world is overpopulated”, “humanity is a burden” and “diet for a small planet,”

    Ah yes, I remember teachers and films and homework readings pushing all that. Which also goes hand-in-hand with the LGBTQ population as those members have a drastically lower reproduction rate than the rest of the country. Enough so that together, they drag the country below replacement levels. Which plays into the hands of those progressive elites that desire wide open borders to promote labor paid at below poverty level wages. Anyone else remember the CBS , “The 20th Century” series? They pushed gloom and doom, with a carrot of hope from SCIENCE and all controlling, all wise (excuse me while I spit) government.

    One world government could work fine. But only when you have many worlds with many differnt forms of government; and the freedom for people to choose which one they wish to live under. We’re still stuck on the only known planet in the universe capable of sustaining human life. Take the U.N and the New World Order and stuff them on the bottom shelf behind the water heater, and forget about them.

    1. Reproduction will handle itself. True, not everyone who wants lots of children can have them, but statistically, a disproportionate number will be borne to them.

  8. It would be interesting to see non-geographically-based polities develop. Probably overlapping ones, where the same individual would be a member of this religious polity, that political polity, the other cultural polity, yet another vocational polity, etc…

      1. Ah, but I didn’t say exclusively non-geographically-based polities… Of course some would be geograpical, such as emergency services of all sorts. But perhaps not all, perhaps not even the majority.

          1. I’m not really a fiction writer–just don’t seem to have the fire for it. But if you like I could try to sketch out a cultural background to hang some narrative on. I’ve a few ideas in that direction… 😉

            1. I have a sort of sketchy outline for a novel called The Starry Ground that takes place against that kind of background. It’s just somewhere past 30th in line, and I don’t look that far down.

              1. Well, remind me of this conversation around 2025 then and I’ll work on the background. 😀

                1. By that time maybe we’ll be closer. Depends on where the boys end up, but I found to my surprise I liked Huntsville, so if younger sprout goes NASAward, we might follow.

                  1. Hey, if you guys wind up in Rocket City, it’ll be great! Might even get to see you more often, when we go visit my uncle in Birmingham, etc.

                    1. Sarah Hoyt and Amy Welborn in the same city. And both of them close to EWTN. That should be fun, and probably for both of them too.

                      Btw, I recently learned the fun fact that the Birmingham area has a lot of Lebanese immigrants from early in the 20th century, since the area was both industrial and warm. And since most of the emigres were Maronite Catholic, and there weren’t a ton of other Catholics in the area except other industrial Catholic immigrants (mostly Italian), there’s a situation where almost every Catholic family in Alabama has a Lebanese person somewhere in the clan. (With the usual additions to the family food repertoire.)

                      And that’s part of why EWTN has a fair amount of Maronite Catholic presence. (Not that it’s not the right thing to do, but it’s also convenient.)

              2. I’ve never heard of plotting a novel using a Venn diagram to visualize overlapping geo-socio-political organizational relationships of the protagonist. It would be fascinating to see. /chuckle

                1. Ah, the machinations and skulduggery and plots and counter-plots and counter-counter plots and betrayals and romances and factions and secrets and all the players great and small in their ambitions… wait, what were we talking about again?

                  …I’ll probably get around to writing that one someday, but it’s waaaaay down the list. Maybe. If the writing doesn’t go away again.

  9. Look, guys, if you find an arrow in history tell me, okay?
    Oh, there’s lots of arrows in history.

    Usually embedded in someone’s heart or lung, occasionally a head, sometimes just a shoulder or thigh wound………

    The only arrows I see in history confirm that the “arc of history” is toward death, destruction, slavery and misery. You have to work to get any other result. And a big part of that working is studying the history so you don’t make idiotic mistakes that other people have already made (like believing people are widgets, or that man is inherently good, or that economies can be planned in 5-year increments, or……..).

    1. *looks over at German battlefield archaeology book, and German prehistoric murders book* Arrows, and club, and a few other sharp, pointy things.
      “Oh der Haifsich, der hat Zähne, und der trägt die ins Gesicht/ und MacHeath der hat ein Messer/ ob den Messer sieht man nicht.”

      [Oh the shark has teeth and carries them in his mouth. MacHeath has a knife but no one sees the knife.”] “Mack the Knife”/”Makie Messer”

        1. She got kidnapped by some teenagers in a time-travelling phone booth and tried to implement an aerobic exercise program when she got back?

    2. The arc of history bends towards measurement error.

      Complicated planning based on forecasts of either circumstances without any precedent or known changeable circumstances remaining the same despite significant related changes will be missing information.

  10. Mind, it’s much easier to be a kleptocrat over a more or less small and homogeneous nation.
    Oh, I disagree. The larger the polity, the more easily graft and corruption is hidden. The larger the polity, the more regulation, the more fees, the more red tape and paperwork. This is why the UN and the EU are full of kleptocrats – from the big to the small.
    I think that it’s easier to be a ginormous kleptocrat, of the Idi Amin or Robert Mugabe persuasion, wearing leopard skins and funky fur hats, in a small and homogenous nation.
    But, kleptocrat in general? Nah, big bureaucracies are much better for that, and the larger the better.

    (BTW, my computer sees “kleptocrat” as a word it doesn’t get or isn’t spelled right, but “ginormous” is just fine. *SMDH* )

    1. There’s also that hazy in-between area of Foundations, NGO’s, lobbyist, ect.
      The bigger the government, the more opportunities for Foundations, NGO’s, Lobbyist, ect.
      A US, UN or EU bureaucrat would find it hard to live a proper, open six+ figured lifestyle while in office (unless at the very top). However, a former bureaucrat with connections could do so quite well.

      1. I like the British-English Quango “quasi-non-governmental organization” for those foundations and groups that officially remain NGOs but get hired to create and carry out government policy.

      2. Or the rather scary things-under-the-bed, the “fusion centers” that operate as de facto intelligence agencies for various state and Federal organizations, with such close cooperation that only legal sleight-of-hand makes them not-employees.

  11. And for my next trick, I shall make this elephant fly.

    Pish-tosh. Making an elephant fly is no trick. Getting an elephant into trousers, now that’s an impressive feat!

  12. It seems to me that there are plenty of arrows in History, they just don’t often point in the directions the elites (of whatever age) find comfortable.

    In general, human societies are moved by curiosity and greed. The desires to see more and get more. And in the West this has worked very well, although the mediocrities would much rather it hadn’t.

  13. [T]he one-worlder Marxists convinced themselves setting people against each other by melanin content and what is between their legs and other more or less arbitrary characteristics would a) yield uniform classes and b) bring about utopia.

    I think you mistake their purpose. Utopia is their selling point, not their goal. Marxism is the ultimate click-bait scam, promising you can “eat more, lose weight!” but actually only transferring the contents of your bank account to theirs.

    Their promises are lies, designed to distract from their stealing control over lives. Their one-world is one with one boot — theirs — on everybody’s throats, facilitated by pitting us one against another.

    1. I agree that there are those on the Left who think like that. Her Shrillness, Hillary, is probably one. The great mass of them aren’t that clear headed. But the great mass of them are intended to be on the ground, licking that boot with the rest of us.

              1. It’s still a running joke to my husband and I that Trump is failing rather miserably to live up to their expectations.

                To a friend who unexpectedly ended up in a politics discussion with myself, he was rather surprised when I described that ‘serious’ news was devoted to how Trump eats steak, or the shoes Melania wears. (It started when he remarked that Trump would start world war 3 with his goading of NK, and his girlfriend, who came from mainland China, and I started laughing.)

                1. We may yet see the next world war this administration. But not because the Norks have what it takes to provide the other side.

                  Iran is a more plausible serious war, but on their own doesn’t quite seem up to the whole of a world war opposition force.

                  The big candidates are China or Europe. India does have population, wealth, and wrong perceptions of the United States. Major wars tend to have a significant lead time. If they decide to start things, it is unlikely that the Obama administration played no role in shaping their calculations of possible success.

                  1. Involved in a war *in* Europe? sure. Involved in a war *with* Europe? not likely. Any united Europe is crumbling.

                    1. Why else has their media and leadership cultivated such wrong perceptions of America, if not as preparations for war.

                    2. Preparation for war? Given their military strength, more like preparation for taking a beating. Europe’s military might rates just above Don Knotts and slightly below Wally Cox on the Schwarzenegger Scale of Military Capabilities.

                  2. I personally think that the Norks are sabre rattling.

                    Yes on China or Europe, likely Middle East; India doesn’t seem to have the same vibe though Africa is my ‘nobody saw it coming’ (for degrees of ‘nobody saw it, given Chinese presence there’) world war starter. South America is too … inward facing, for lack of better term, but I could be wrong on that.

    2. “We have this great money-making system we think you’d appreciate..”

      “Oh? So you’re going to demonstrate that by sendinf me some of the money you’ve made?”

      “Uh no… we want ..you.. to pay-”

      “Oh, so it’s a money-making scam. Got it.”

  14. The thing that people just can’t grok is what looks inefficient – the economic scurrying around by the masses trying this and trying that- is far more efficient than the best planned economy could ever be.

    1. They also can’t get over things like Pogs, or Pokemon cards. Or pro sports salaries. They see them as irrational buying choices, amd want to stop the ‘waste’.

      But what they won’t see is that, beyond keeping people fed and shelterd, it’s MOSTLY ‘waste’. The question is, is it waste you prefer to other waste?

      So they happily use government money to exhibit tripe like Duchamp’s FOUNTAIN (plumb it in, then it would at least be useful), and have snits because of the money spent on Nascar.

    2. Yes. What looks like slack, and waste, is really a built in safety buffer. Good engineers understand that concept. Bad engineers wonder why the building fell down when the wind gusts 5 mph over what they planned for max.

      1. I recall watching a documentary on the construction of some tall building (as in “one of the N tallest buildings in the world”) where they spoke of the 50-mph rated windows. Living on the plains, 50+ mph winds seem to happen a couple times a year – at ground level. (35 mph? “Tuesday”) It was no surprise later in the program to hear that they decided there was a need to go with windows with a much higher wind rating.

  15. I sometimes feel like the tiny house movement stems from this massaging to go smaller and expect less. I understand where it can be practical when you are starting out or might need to move for work often. I’m not knocking it. If I could drive I would consider it myself. Its just not something I thought would be as popular as it is, especially for families.

    It feels like people are being massaged to believe that they shouldn’t even dream of owning a home. That renting forever is better or more practical. At least that’s what I notice on the west coast. People who are ready to settle down are moving away in droves. It feels like the middle is being scooped out of my city. Those that remain are contented with less or they are furiously pointing fingers over who’s to blame for the housing crisis. The idea of a 800sqf home with 2 beds and a den feels like a pipe dream.

    Meanwhile I walk through formerly bustling neighbourhoods that are deserted now except for the homeless. Someone owns all those condos and houses with dark windows but you would never know it from living here. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the setting from a horror movie where everything is kept neat and tidy but all the people are gone.

    I’m formerly Katabatic btw. Posting with my pen name from now on as I might have something out in the new year. 🙂

    1. On the West coast what is happening is that the middle if being scooped out, mostly by regulations on rental, on new construction, etc.
      Agree with you on the tiny house movement, except there’s also a degree of snobbery. They could get the same from an RV, but that’s declasse.
      (Tiny houses themselves, if properly plumbed, I could see for a writing getaway, not to live in, though.)

      1. Oh yes. I’d love a 1200 square foot house, hardwood and tile floors with a few rugs, and a good yard for roses and veggies. For one person, Redquarters will probably be too much house and yard. For three it works.

      2. I like reading about tiny houses for research and idea purposes. I thought briefly of ‘what if that would be a cheaper writing retreat’? but chucked the idea since I tend to like to have a physical library. They are cute though.

        One of my ‘if we were rich’ pleasant daydreams is to have a granny-flat sized thing specifically for work. They have one or two on display at the larger Bunnings, but the Smartspace website has them. Kit Homes Australia is another site I like to look at for fun and daydreams. It’s a fun way to pass the time while having lunch, for example.

        1. I think a tiny house could be very nice, but I would want a HUGE combo garage/workshop/laboratory/libraries/dungeons/home theatre/rec room/sewing room/fallout shelter.pantry/butchering room/canning room/banquet room/other outbuilding.

          My ideal tiny house, of course, would be a T.A.R.D.I.S.

      3. I’ve known people to go RV for temporary quarters, with temporary measured in a short span of years.

        Tiny houses … well, I’m fascinated by them, and think of a trip to St. Charles, MO, where, in the old part of town, you look at some tiny shops and realize they were once home to entire families. If built on site instead of hauled in, a tiny house with proper foundations should have better weather resistance than an RV.

        A few factors behind them are sky high building costs, high land costs, and high property taxes. It may be the only way some can afford a home in some areas of the country.

        OTOH, if you’re going to build on site. going Hobbit style might have advantages.

        1. I think I’d go bonkers actually living in one but I love the idea of a container house where everything is built into a 7×20 shipping container. When its time to move you just lock the shutters and call someone to haul it to the next place. No packing needed. 🙂

          1. We used to take great pleasure in the CMT program Trick My Truck and the craftsmanship used to maximize livability of Truck cabs.

            I have long wondered that so few projects such as that and the Tiny House movement take advantage of the centuries of refinement on the knack of living in small spaces that has been done in the boating business, especially for luxury yachts.

        2. I’m drawn to the idea of living in either an RV or a cabin cruiser when retirement comes around.
          Some kind of house that moves from place to place.

        3. Though contractors love to price by the square foot, the construction cost is only loosely tied to the size of a house. You have the same fixed costs for a “tiny house” as for a McMansion; lot, permits, sewage, power, water, etc. When you’re doing the actual “building” part, changing from a 1000sf floor plan to 200sf doesn’t double the cost. It’s more like 15-20%. But the selling price can double or more, so there’s more *profit* in McMansions, at least while the financing bubble holds out.

          The cost of a house isn’t as much “what the customer will pay”, as “what the loan industry supports.”

          1. While there’s truth to that, material costs plus labor are pretty high now, at least compared to what they were in the day. This is why I haven’t undertaken some projects.

            Since you’ve pointed out that cost isn’t linear to square footage, will mention that there are some incredible money sinks such as dormers. Fake dormers were a big thing once, and they take a surprising amount of material and labor. We’d work half a day on each dormer, and in all but one job they were strictly decorative.

            1. I want to put a dormer on the room over the garage. It has a slanted ceiling in the front, and no windows looking that direction. But… cost.
              (Plus, lots of other projects ahead of it, in line.)

      4. I’m in Vancouver. There’s plenty of new construction but the people who live here get out bid by investors. Like I said the homes are owned by somebody who pays to keep them up but the neighbourhoods where this is happening are strangely empty. Rental regulations are a bit crazy here though so no new rental properties are being built which adds to the problem.

        1. Sounds like Simak’s “They Walked Like Men.”

          Alien invaders were buying real estate, having discovered a planet they could invade simply by trading the natives colorfully-printed pieces of paper for land… many people had sold out for what looked like huge profits, then wound up homeless after discovering there was no place to buy or rent, while entire housing projects sat empty.

          1. I’ve heard mutterings that the Chinese are basically doing just that. Mostly commercial real estate, but…

            1. Previous “they’re buying America” cycles named the British in the 1990s, the Japanese in the 1980s, and the Arabs in the 1970s.

              For some reason I don’t remember any cry in the 20-oughts.

    2. The tiny houses I’ve seen poctures of look like they might be nice for a single,person with no sprawling hobbies and at least a touch of OCD. And that would be fine, for them. I’m all in favor of revising local zoning laws and building codes to allow them. But you won’t get me in one on a bad bet, and I think the people who blather about them being a solution for the homelsss are out of their tiny minds. A) Giving houses to the homeless has been done. It frequently ends up with a gutted house, the fixtures having been sold. B) if homeless people had the mental discipline to live in that small a house, I suspect they wouldn’t be homeless.

      1. The nice thing about “Tiny Houses for the Homeless” is that most of them are on wheels. So, when the inevitable trashing occurs, you can easily move the now trashed house away. Or clear out the whole lot when the right sort wants that property for some other use (sportsball stadium, ect)

        1. The whole “sports stadium” cycle just infuriates me. Threaten to move the team unless,you get a new stadium, free, funded by taxpayers, make money hand over fist, suffer an ego growth, wash, rinse, repeat.


          The only pro sports team (that I know of) that has an unrepugnant relationship with its host city is th Green Bay Packers.

          1. Are basketball and hockey teams anywhere as bad in this regards as football and baseball? I can’t ever recall demands from basketball and hockey teams making major national news, but news of billion-dollarish deals for football and baseball seem nearly an annual occurrence.

              1. Huh. Interesting. I’d tell that team good-bye and good riddance. Unfortunately, I moved to the Cincinnati area the year after the referendum on a sales tax levy for “public improvements” that were a pair of new stadiums (one for football, one for baseball) to replace the existing, perfectly-serviceable stadium. Not that my vote would have turned the tide, but at least I’d have had the satisfaction of having voted against it.

          2. Not just spawrts. I was reading an article about a fraternity at Georgia Tech whos members had become a problem, and the dean was threatening to cut off funding for the frat if they didn’t toe the line.

            Wait, wut? The poor schmucks working three jobs to scrape tuition together are supporting frats as well as spawrts?

            I wonder if the college contributes to the beer fund too…

          3. Which is why current NFL rules don’t allow new ownership relationships like the Green Bay Packers, owned by the community, have.

          4. The Pack did have a period where Stadium management and team management were arguing a bit. They played a few games in Milwaukee at Brewers stadium (About the time the Bucs came into the league) I went to a preseason one there with Dad and my Uncle. In the end it got worked out.

          5. I believe that the LA Dodgers own their stadium, Chavez Ravine, outright. In NY the Yankees own Yankee Stadium, according to my search engine, although the property it is built upon may be owned by the city of NY (or perhaps that was the old original stadium, which has been bought, dismembered and sold for memorabilia, from box seats to bleachers to urinals to the infield dirt.)

            I believe the Chicago Cubs own Wrigley Field; I know they have been buying surrounding properties, particularly the famous row houses whose rooftops offer a view of the field over the outfield walls. Boston’s Fenway Park is similarly owned by the company who owns the Red Sox.

            These last two are only technically owned by their teams, of course, as each has Landmark Status and therefore any changes must be approved by their city landmark commissions.

            There is considerable argument in favor of a baseball team owning its stadium, where they play at least 81 games (and they hope for a half dozen or so more in October) when you consider the development opportunities as recreational destinations.

        2. It’s only a matter of time before some place like, say, San Francisco takes note of how many individuals or couples live in large houses, and then require them to accept assigned lodgers in order to alleviate the housing shortage.

          After all, it’s “for the good of the community”, and what right do they have to 2500sf when there are people sleeping on the sidewalk? (liberals of that stripe are blind to property rights other than their own)

      2. Tiny houses for the homeless are nothing more than glorified barrio shacks. Sure, they’re better than nothing; but they are not an investment in the future.

        1. On the other hand, they also might be just the thing for people who can’t quite manage the whole job-rent-house paradigm.

  16. “…. My classmates want to be bureaucrats who make a median salary, marry a median woman, drive a median car and have one or two median children. None of them wants to push, invent, take risks, or make any waves at all. And I can feel the push to be the same. It’s what they want for us.”

    Prussian public school system has been producing obedient dullards for over a century now, work for The State is highest goal. I had autodidact paternal grandparents who could rant for hours about how it was grandparents of nazis who created public schools.

  17. Speaking of states inimical to job creation, i saw a bit of press on thanksgiving where homeless shelters in Pasadena and Long Beach were reporting record numbers of people showing for thanksgiving dinner. However, it seems to have been hushed real fast, and didn’t keep rolling all weekend….

    …my bet is that someone suddenly realized that this wasn’t occurring quite as much outside of CA, and maybe there was a lesson there that they didn’t want us learning.

  18. The most realistic one-world government is Card’s Hegemony, because it has the external threat of alien annihilation to keep it together. Of course, the moment that threat ends, so does the Hegemony.

  19. “In other words, I think we need nations. I just think in the coming era those that survive, thrive and make their citizens rich will be those that are as decentralized as possible at their center, while defending themselves and understanding the cultures that comprise them.”

    IOW Switzerland.

  20. A little late to the post and haven’t gone through the comments yet, but any thoughts/reactions to that new Matt Damon movie, Downsizing, where people shrink themselves to reduce consumption and overpopulation problems? I found the trailer cringe-inducing myself.

      1. Its a very Matt Damon movie.

        As opposed to a movie with Damon in it.

        I find he’s a good actor when carrying out someone else’s project

    1. It’s not a new concept. There’s a book called The Micronauts (not to be confused with the toys and comics of the same title that were based on the old “world inside an atom” idea) that involved humans shrinking themselves to insect size to avert a future of mass starvation — and discovered that when you’re tiny, even a mouse can be a deadly threat. There was a sequel called The Microcolony, but I’ve never read it — by the time I found it, I had gone from struggling to find enough sf to read to struggling to find enough time to read all the cool sf I could read.

      We’ve got copies of both books in our backstock. However, now that we’re no longer selling them online, I don’t know if either of them will ever sell, since it’s unlikely we’ll ever take them to a con.

      1. Hey! I actually remember reading those ones when I was younger. Small library, small town, few resources. :p
        Actually learned a bit from those believe it or not. Especially how vicious nature can be at all levels.

      2. In the trailers I’ve seen, there was a distinct lack of giant rats/bugs, and general disaster (little people trying to survive), which I was expecting when I saw the premise of the film.

      3. Ooo-kay. I thought I remembered that, went off to find a review of a vastly different book than I remembered, then zigzagged around the noosphere until I found that what I had read was “Surface Tension” from James Blish, circa 1952. Blish’s people were shrunk to microscopic size and lived in water; the storyline was about them moving out to explore the shoreline.

        1. It was a theme in several stories. Ran across it in another book where the resistance had a device to shrink them and return them to normal size. Used to keep the amount of space needed to a minimum as well I believe people tended to heal faster when smaller? Thought it was called “The God Machine”, but a quick internet search turns up a different book and theme.

    2. I love this idea. Everybody else could shrink down, and I’d stay the same size and use them for pets and teach them amusing tricks.

        1. Re-read Nyarlathotep: get enough of them together in a critical mass, get them sufficiently dazzled, and they can collectively be quite formidable.

  21. I wonder if we’ll work our way back to something resembling City-States? Well, I guess we already sort of have that in the US with places like San Francisco, New York and Chicago enforcing local law over Federal law when the two conflict. But as industry gets tailored ever more specific to the individual I wonder if we will end up in communities of like minded people.

    1. I think the citizens of the state of New York would *love* for New York City to become its own polity. The city is the tail that wags the dog.

      Meanwhile, various Texans are recommending the resumption of abive-ground nuclear weapons testing, preferably starting with Austin…

    2. Already happening; a lot of the migration out of blue states and cities is exactly this. Of course, it’s going to make holding together a country problematic.

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