What is Mine I Keep – A Blast from the Past from May 2, 2012

*I recently came across this, and it’s amazing how prescient it was, all those years ago.-SAH*

What is Mine I Keep – A Blast from the Past from May 2, 2012

In Terry Pratchett’s books, Lady Sybil Ramkin Vimes’ family motto is “What is ours, we keep.”

I’m sure it started out the way most things in Pratchett’s books started out.  The Ramkins are an old family, who intimidated their way everywhere and who conquered a lot of places and took a lot of wealth.  At least that has been the view of them throughout most of the books.  Sybil herself is a good egg, devoted to saving dragons, but the Ramkins are, by and large, one of the rapacious noble clans.

And then in the last book, something happened.  The “What is mine I keep” was turned on its head, in a way, which brought me to the realization that property, hereditary or not, is a double edged sword.  As is ownership: of things, of self, of talents, of career, of EVERYTHING.

Two things.  This is not a political article – mostly – but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that yesterday was Victims of Communism Day.  Or that if you haven’t read The Black Book of Communism, you should.

The second thing I’d like to mention that I sort of already knew all this, instinctively and through my toenails, as I seem to know most of this stuff.  I just didn’t put it together in moral terms, till recently.

I grew up in the seventies and eighties with the communists and assorted stripes of collectivist taking the moral high ground.  After all, the rest of us were for things being unfair.  We wanted some people to have more stuff than others.  And even if people got there naturally, well, it was wrong, because not everyone has the same capabilities.  Even if you got what you have by chiseling stuff off the rock, with your bare hands, well, not everyone has the same tough hands you have, you know, and why aren’t you more compassionate?

Even people who were strong anti-communists – and paid for it in career – seemed to bow to the communists and take a sort of moral back seat to them, and say “I know they mean well, it just doesn’t work.”  This still goes on.  In a lecture, yesterday, my kid was shown anti-communist films from the seventies, and his classmates laughed, because, you know, communists aren’t evil.  They’re well intentioned, after all.  (Read the Black Book Of Communism.  DO.)

I said this is not a political column.  It’s not.  At the same time this stuff is so ingrained and has become such part of our society that it’s hard to get at the basis of morality and – eventuality – the basis of managing a writing career, without going through it.

For instance, the idea of “equality” we have is mostly Marxist.  The equality before US law is not an equality of results.  But we assume that equality of results is desired.  We assume that if someone has more than others, this was somehow acquired by immoral means.  We talk about “Giving more to the community” and “Having more than our fair share.”  All of it is nonsense in real world terms.  It can only be talked about in terms that concede that Marxism is moral.

Part of this is because Marxism slots, perhaps fatally, with a part of the monkey brain.  In a small hominid band, if someone is taking more food than the others, he IS hogging it; he is greedy; and he is stealing from others.

In our society in which “resources” are what you make of them… not so much.  In our society where what you create is what matters for life, not so much.  In the chaotic system of a global economy, not so much.

And we come back to “what is mine, I keep.”

Look, I know some people are born with more than others.  They’re born with more talent, more intelligence, more ability, more tenacity.  Some are born with more things, too, but that’s nowhere as important in the long run.  However, some people are born with more than others.  Most of us realize that round about kindergarten.  It is immediately followed by ourselves or others realizing “it isn’t fair.”

“Fair” works in kindergarten, which is much like a small hominid band.  (Or a band of small hominids.  Eh.)  There are limited resources, and if you take too many graham crackers you are being greedy and your crackers will be redistributed.  This works, because the teacher, who is in charge of the class, makes you do it.

There is no teacher in charge of life.  I know, I know, but it’s true.  NO TEACHER.  This being the case, there is no “fairness” in life.  There is no “honor” in life.  There is no “equality” in life.

Heinlein and Shakespeare have both been there before me, but the truth is you could take all of reality and distill it down to the last atom.  And you’d not find an ounce of fairness.  Not an atom of justice.  Not a hint of equality.

These qualities exist only in the mind of man.

Does that mean then that there is no morality?  That the life of man devolves to nature, red in tooth and claw?  How can I claim that’s good?

I don’t.  There is morality.  Morality starts with the individual.  Over time we’ve found that the only thing that distinguishes us from animals is to devise ways of getting along – ways of jostling together – and we’ve discovered – sometimes against our best instincts – that some ways of living together are better than the others.  Those societies where it doesn’t start with the individual always end the same way, whether you call them absolute monarchy, communism or enlightened oligopoly.  Always.  It’s always the mass graves and the small group of rulers, who preside over an increasingly more impoverished society.  It’s always the famines and the purges.  And I’ll explain why, in a moment.

So we start with the individual and with “What is mine, I keep.”  This means each individual has a right to self defense, to begin with.  And if you say no one is disputing anyone’s right to self defense, you are wrong.  It starts in kindergarten, where these days “fighting” is punished equally, whether you are the aggressor, or not, because “violence never solved anything.”  (All of these teachers are hanging hopefully on the line, to confirm that with the City Fathers of Carthage.)  It goes on to people being charged with using “excessive force” to defend themselves from attack or home invasion.

Not being allowed to defend yourself, means you can’t KEEP what is yours.  Keep both in the sense of own and control.  Which immediately makes you a possession of those in authority to defend you.  And on the other side of that – and not as far as you’d expect – there’s the mass graves.  Because, well, if they can choose to defend you or not, then they can also remove you if you become inconvenient to the “common good” which always has to be judged by someone, after all (remember, life has no teacher overseeing it) and is always judged by those with the capacity to exert force.

Once you grant an individual the right to self-ownership, you can’t go about saying he has to give back to the community, though, or that what he’s doing isn’t fair.  Unless he’s actually actively impairing others’ rights to self-ownership and exertion of their talents (the reason government is a necessary evil) he should be allowed to own himself to the final extent of the law.

What is mine, I keep.  That means I use or not, protect or not, increase or waste.  It is mine.  My body, my talents, my effort, my responsibility, my stuff, and the more tenuous web of feelings granted to me by others and by me to them: my friends, my kids, my husband.  And then the stuff that falls under honor-and-credit.  What others know about me, based on accumulated behavior: my career.  My reputation.  My trustworthiness.  They’re all mine.

What is mine, I keep.  This is what is known as being a free man.

It is also a crushing responsibility.  You have the right to squander everything that is yours, to the last penny, the last ounce of strength.  It’s your choice.  You use your mind to do it.

What does society owe you then?  Nothing.  Am I saying you should be cast out into outer darkness, where there’s crying and gnashing of teeth?  No.  I’m saying that if you husbanded what is yours, even if you’re broke – I’ve been dead broke three times in my life.  I mean DEAD broke, considering soup kitchen as only way to a meal that day broke – and even if in ultimate analysis it’s not really your fault, you will have an immaterial safety net.  Honor and credit.  Friends.  A community that will come through for you.

But that would be shameful, you say.  Society shouldn’t make you feel ashamed.

Why not?  What business is it of society whether you came to this legitimately or not?  Whose job is it to judge? Who is supposed to make it “fair”?  Do you know every one from whom money will be taken by force (taxes are always enforced by physical force) to help you?  Do you know they’re not as needy as you are?  Or that this taking won’t make them spiral into a situation like yours?  HOW do you know?  WHO are you making into your judge, your “teacher”?  And if you don’t know them personally, if they’re not part of “what is yours” why would you do that?  You’re making yourself property, a chattel.  Even if you think you’ll gain by it, you’re surrendering the right of self-ownership.  And that, in my view, should make you feel more ashamed.

It’s very scary to keep what’s yours. You could lose it all.  It’s also very freeing.  You don’t grant anyone the right to take it from you – or to take you from you.

For years now, writers have been living in a kindergarten class.  Teacher decided on the value of our work.  Teacher decided what was right and what was wrong, what was “worthy of being read” and pushed and promoted, and what was “hack work, not to be published, or to be buried deep in the never-upturned midlist.”

Turns out teacher was wrong, and has squandered most of their credit, their honor, and their money too.  And the new kid in town – ebooks, though mostly Amazon just now – has taken their power and their control, not yet to the same extent, but close to the way they took writers.

And now they’re crying, and it’s not fair, and they want teacher to make it fair.  They’re playing with fire.  A government that can favor them can also shut them up.  But they don’t care.  They want it “fair.”  And they want to make sure only the “worthy” books get read.

Any author who isn’t at least experimenting with indie is a born slave.  I love my one remaining traditional publishing house and have (I think.  I don’t know if she’d agree, but I hope so) a good relationship with the publisher.  BUT it still behooves me to have alternate career paths, to have other ways of getting my words before the public and – bluntly – other ways of making money.

Why?  Because what is mine, I keep.  My talent, my ability, my work, my CONTROL.  What is mine, I keep.  I can destroy it or increase it.  It’s my right.  I’m a free woman.  I grant no one the right to control me, or keep me, or impair me.

(Holds up both middle fingers to every one who thinks that publishing “needs” those who know better to look after it.)  There is no such thing with fairness.  There’s only this:

What is mine, I keep.

230 thoughts on “What is Mine I Keep – A Blast from the Past from May 2, 2012

  1. The indoctrination starts early… if you send your child to school with three pencils, the teacher is liable to “distribute his wealth” to others who didn’t bother.

    1. On a side tangent:

      The number of elementary school teachers who I have known that purchased, with their own money, packs of paper and boxes of pencils, crayons and tissues for their class run 100% of elementary school teachers I have known.

      I am not sure what can be done when the parents choose not to provide their own children with school supplies.

      In this case above choose is the operative word. I have a very different reaction to those who find themselves at can’t. Does making this distinction mean that I am a bad judgmental person? If so, I’ll live with it.

      1. Middle school teachers also. Rather the (1) I know (okay small statistic) purchases the materials for prototype item, does the project, does the project with own kids (or did when they were little, grandchild now benefits), all this is paid private funds. Then writes for grant money for student supplies beyond the “yearly” budget provided by the school. What projects then are followed through in class either just demonstrated, or student hands on group/individual, is based on how strongly the teacher, and demo kids, likes the project and how it fits the class topics. Class topics are Science so teacher has a choice of a LOT of projects. Most favorite one for teacher and classes, is almost always teacher funded. School year-end ice cream from scratch using (standard ingredients, ice, & salt) heavy duty zip lock bags and a lot of tossing/throwing.

    2. Some of the schools now demand that you supply the other kids. We found out that the school supplies list in at least one area was almost entirely confiscated by the teachers at the beginning of the year, then doled out on a “to his need” basis throughout the year.
      I told a teacher that if my kid were in school there, he’d bring his own supplies and no one else’s. And if his were taken away from him, I would file charges.

      I’ve also bought school supplies for actual poor families who couldn’t afford them.

      I will gladly help others less fortunate than myself. But I’ll be damned if I will have my (or my child’s) stuff taken for others’ use. That’s a 7th Commandment (or 8th if you’re Jewish or Calvinist) issue.

      1. Yep. I didn’t like this, since I bought better art supplies for my kids, who both took an interest. So I started buying rock bottom for school and buying the good stuff at home.

          1. Apparently education degrees do not cover The Tragedy Of The Commons. Were I Czar of All Knowledge it would be required … along with a number of other things which are probably best not discussed in a public forum.

    3. Well, have to tell a story about what a bad person I really am.

      Mid-1960s, 2nd or 3rd grade, someone in the class did something they weren’t supposed to. Don’t recall what the kid or kids did, didn’t see them do it, didn’t know it had been done until the teacher spoke up about it (I probably had my nose buried in a book at the time.)

      Teacher couldn’t get the perps to own up to it. Then she couldn’t get anyone to rat them out either. So her third attempt was to punish the entire class.

      Objections that I didn’t do it and don’t deserve to be punished for it came from me and several others. No dice. All were being held culpable. All were therefore guilty, and therefore all deserved to be punished. I didn’t buy it. The logic didn’t hold up. I don’t hold with punishing innocent people. So as we’re being trooped out to our punishment, I took matters into my own hands, and slugged the teacher as hard as I could in the solar plexus.

      Being a 2nd or 3rd grader at the time, the damage was minimal; and it was probably the shock of the attack more than anything that stopped the teacher.

      Well, that elicited several other teachers being called in. My being placed under apprehension and interred in the principals office, parents called to come collect me. Father came, heard the story from the principal, and the teacher, heard my story; and will wonders never cease, told them that while punching the teacher was probably not the best way to deal with it, they were in the wrong.

      I drew a 3 day suspension from school out of it; and no other punishment from Dad. He did say that if I ran into any more instances like that, to refuse the punishment, but not to attack the teachers unless they got physical with me, and to let him know about as soon as he got home. And you know, no teacher in that school ever tried the punish everyone for the crimes of the few in the classes I attended.

      1. Will you be my friend?

        (Seriously, that was one thing I really hated about being a kid, for the most part. Very few of the other kids were interested in justice, or even things making sense. You were teh awesome.)

        1. Oh yeah, I learned to hate group punishment, because it kept coming, and parents viewed intervening on my behalf as something that would “only make it worse.” I had a couple of teachers who claimed that group punishment helped teach kids responsibility for their community. It just taught me that it didn’t matter how good I was, especially if I wanted to earn a treat, because someone else could rip it all away out of spite, just by acting up.

          1. Their purpose in group punishment is to teach kids to be finks — except they never make it possible for any kids to rat out their classmates on the down low, say by requiring every kid in the class to come up and whisper the perp’s name in teacher’s ear (sure, many would lie but that isn’t important) avoiding forcing any kid to stand up, point at a kid and declare j’accuse! and forever bear the brand of klass kapo.

            1. They also take poorly to being told that the guilty party they’re looking for is themselves.

              I had no problem saying which idiot had done something dangerous this time– or stole someone’s stuff, or otherwise made my mandatory time in school even more bothersome.

              Sadly, sometimes that means telling the teacher his stolen hat is on his head.

            2. Group punishment has a purpose in the military where you live and die as a team, NOT in schools where you are supposed to be educated to be an individual citizen.

          2. The only place I’ve seen group punishments WORK is boot camp. And that was solely because of the pschology they were trying to (and needed to) create in a hurry. It also drove into the brain ‘your actions screw over other people, do it too much and other people will come and have words with you in ways you’d prefer they not.’ to the ones that weren’t getting the message.

            Tellingly it stopped working about the time you got out of boot camp. Once the basic shift in thought process was achieved, further group punishment tended to be counterproductive.

    4. I can just imagine my reaction if someone had tried to redistribute my personal supplies to the class….

      It WOULD have resulted in my parents being called, and possibly the police, and my parents WOULD have backed me up.

      1. It’s the indoctrination of the little darlings. If they learn to accept it in school, where it’s not quite “their” stuff (because Mom or Dad paid for it), then they eventually learn not to squeal when it is their stuff.

      2. The only one who might have tried such with The Daughter was her second grade teacher, a woman who should never have been put in charge of children. The Daughter would have had a major melt down if any of her school supplies away from her, no less redistributed. I would certainly have been called in to the school. Then things would have gotten really interesting.

  2. For years now, writers have been living in a kindergarten class.  Teacher decided on the value of our work.  Teacher decided what was right and what was wrong, what was “worthy of being read” and pushed and promoted, and what was “hack work, not to be published, or to be buried deep in the never-upturned midlist.” 

    They gave as part of their self-justification for existence being that someone should decide on ‘what was “worthy of being read”‘. Considering how many of the books that were published under their watchful eye which have gone out of print (and will remain out of print) their judgement leaves something to be desired.  

    Of course there are those who would probably argue that ‘the reading public’ does not know what is good for them.  And they would have as support the fact that they were able to hype trash and make it into best sellers, at least for a while.  

    It is with some wry amusement I observe that they believe that control is what is theirs and they are trying to keep hold of it.  Thankfully these gatekeepers are loosing control, and the individuals that make up the writing and reading public are gaining control.

    1. Of course there are those who would probably argue that ‘the reading public’ does not know what is good for them.
      Given voting patterns and such, I would argue they are right. The problem is noone has the valid authority forcing them to read what is “good for them”.
      Except during the school years, perhaps. There is a valid argument made for making them read at least things that will give them correct information, let them see examples of good writing/communication, get them to do critical thinking, and expose them to the noble virtues. The problem there is defining “good for them” – there’s currently a large disconnect between me and those in power in education.

      1. For some reason the educators of my day thought that A Separate Peace, The Bell Jar, Go Ask Alice and Catcher in the Rye were among those thought good for us.  

        When The Daughter was of school age many of those were still being taught, with the addition of books such as The Color Purple.  There was a bit of a local kerfuffle when a teacher thought that Old Gringo would be good for High School freshmen in the IB program.  The local papers admitted they could not print any passage of the book.  The school board began running scared when it was argued that 1) it was the example of South American writing (as if there were no other) and 2) censorship! – book banning!! 

        There is a world of difference between removing a book from the list of books that are to be taught in class and book banning.

          1. The Daughter had somewhat liked The Golden Compass. She felt betrayed by what Philip Pullman did to his own worldbuilding in subsequent books just so he could make a point. She has argued that this broke that world, destroying the story. It also rendered any point he was trying to make moot as far as she was concerned.

            1. I was, thankfully, warned that he made the very point that he was trying to disprove by how he went about “proving” it– never been one to take well to the author slamming an anvil down on his side.

          2. Whaddaya mean “the worldbuilding is so bad”? Didn’t she so accurately predict the rise of Christian Fundamentalist Donald Trump, and the consequent imposition of Islamist societal practices?


              1. But the Handmaiden’s Tale isn’t Political!!!!

                One asshole elsewhere tried to claim that me (and others) were seeing “Politics” where it didn’t exist because we thought that piece of shit was political. 😦

        1. Almost all the listings of books here that are … ugh … are because progressives think “transgressive”=”good”; because they think you have to tear down those bourgeois values to get to the end utopia they envision. So, for a book to be “good” it has to upend the old order, no matter the value of the old order in any particular instance.

          Yeah, this is not what I would call “good”.

        2. Did no one think to suggest Borges? I’ve a tome of his fiction from ages ago that I still read on occasion. Even in translation, the man’s talent shone through. I would have been much better served with short stories of knife fights, critiques of imaginary books, and circular ruins than any number of Madam Ovaries and turgid pages of this ‘n that, what delighted the critics of the day.

          On the other hand, I did enjoy Dostoyevsky more than I thought, and the bits where we went over old myth and a few old plays were not so bad either. Once I left Catholic school and entered the public school system, things got weird, though. That was where the oddities of whimsy came in.

        3. L. Jagi Lamplighter complained about some of the stuff they were making her daughter read.

          Her daughter was adopted from China when she was 13. Her parents abandoned her four times before they finally managed to do it where she could not make her way back home. She spent years in an orphanage in China. No one needed to tell her that life could be rough.

        1. This is why it’s especially important to teach them alternatives exist. Just knowing you can go to a library and find something good to read helps considerably. Too often kids grow up not knowing any better and, as a consequence, only read when they have to for school or work.

        2. Things I was required to read in school;

          TOM SAWYER; both too late and too early. They really should have either pushed it in sixth grade or waited until Senior year.

          CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY ; drivel. Badly reasoned, bady written, tiresome, and annoying. Everything I needed to know about the anti-Apartheid movement, and why a post Apartheid government would fail, although I admit it took them longer than I thought it would formthe rot to,set,it.

          THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE; good, and I would not have read it otherwise. THE SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN is also good.

          GONE WITH THE WIND; interesting. Has about as much to do which th the Civil War and the South as a John Wayne Western has to do with the actual settlement of the West. Once you understand that and read the book an awful lot of modern American politics makes more sense than before.

          ROMEO AND JULIET; required by the State. Least interesting Shakespeare play I read in school.

          GREAT EXPECTATIONS; Oh. My. God. What a snore fest. I’m sorry, but Dickens is where my slight ability to read and enjoy Victorian prose breaks down.

          I was also exposed to a bunch of good stuff, mostly in electives.

          1. UM… from off the top, my kids,
            Chronicle of a death foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
            Bless me Ultima
            Yellow Raft in Blue Water
            The things they carried
            The Handsmaid Tale.

            1. I actually rather liked Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Maybe it was just in comparison to everything else that was in the English curriculum that year. (We started with Toni Morrison and went mostly downhill from there).

            2. Reading programs seem to have changed, or my school was just really different. Those all sound horrid for high school and/or junior high.

              I kind of think my school district was different. Because they either didn’t put out a recommended reading list, or I was just oblivious to it. I don’t remember ever seeing one. I did a lot of reading on my own, so maybe my instructors just figured screw it, he’ll get around to them eventually.

          2. We were fortunate in that we had no required books to read. Our lit books were dark and dreary enough. The one story by Twain was one of his bitter ones. In High School I read, and did a report on M.A.S.H., with the understanding that I wouldn’t get too, er, detailed. Some books I remember reading on my own were:

            Alas, Babylon
            Brave New World
            Animal Farm
            On the Beach (first wall slammer).
            The Godfather

            In Junior High we had
            Old Yeller
            Savage Sam
            The Yearling
            Tom Sawyer
            Huckleberry Finn

            The last there were lightly Bowdlerized, with the teacher slyly mentioning we couldn’t have that in the classroom, which sent us all to the library to read the removed parts.

            1. with the teacher slyly mentioning we couldn’t have that in the classroom, which sent us all to the library to read the removed parts.

              Well, that’s one way to get kids to read something. 😉

              1. I think the word-of-mouth that there are naughty words in it is the only way they get school kids to read CATCHER IN THE RYE. I found it tiresome and (since I was being told how accurate a depiction of male adolescence it was, and I was a male adolescent at the time) insulting.

              2. Rather. When the whole kerfuffle about Old Gringo occurred in our system the book stores couldn’t keep up with the demand.

                1. The year I was to read THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE there was some kind of disaster at the printers, and new copies weren’t to be had for love or money. Since my parents were academics, we just went out and bought a used copy, and didn’t think anything of it.

                  The book wasn’t taught that year, becuase so few parents had thought to get a used book.

                  Pity. It was the one really good book on that summer reading list. The other readable one was GONE WITH THE WIND. It was OK, but the characters could have been outdone for depth by anything from the Tarzan series. Which is why it did so well on film.

                  But given a choice between Scarlett and Jane (after Tarzan has had the teaching of her for a few adventures, mind) and I’ll go with Jane. She can hunt, live in the jungle (and there is no more jungly jungle than Tarzan’s) and lead native troops. So far as I can remember, all Scarlett can to is sew, throw tantrums, and breed.

                    1. I found her tiresome in the extreme, and thought, frankly, that she should have set up shop as a ‘working girl’. The work would have been what she was trained to do; look pretty, attract a wealthy man, amd bed him.

            2. I remember in middle school having to read The Pearl (pathetic dreck) and getting in trouble because I was actually reading Damnation Alley tucked inside my textbook. At least the teacher gave me the book back after class.

            3. I wouldn’t presume to list what I was reading, nor when, except that the surest way to get me to not read a book was to put it on a “required” list. I recall a lot of HG Wells and Jules Verne in middle school era, and I discovered RAH and (from there) golden age SF in High School. As I read voraciously (had it not been possible to eat while I read I do not doubt I would have been even thinner than I was, and I was almighty damned thin at (just under) six foot and 150 lbs (of which ten were probably hair.) I rarely went anywhere without a half dozen books on my person but will confess I never mastered the knack of reading one with my left eye, one with my right. By mid-way through High School I had read Dune, LotR several times and the Foundation trilogy (although I think it gave me indigestion) and all Heinlein up to and including I Will Write No Good, several more than once (Mycroft, come back!).

              I do recall first year of High School we read The Yearling, The Thread That Runs So True* and Julius Caesar. I know I read Catcher In The Rye but think that was a voluntary act of contrition rather than assigned.

              *The only required book I ever willingly re-read.

            4. The various schools I attended in Philadelphia had two reading lists.  

              The first was that which was to be taught in the classroom over the years.  (Because I changed schools I thus encountered Julius Caesar more than once and missed Romeo and Juliet altogether.)  

              The second list was the summer reading list from which you were expected to choose a certain number of books.  Once thing that has stuck in my memory for some reason is that Lorna Doone and the works of Sir Walter Scott were consistently featured on that list, but never taught during the school year.

          3. I don’t really remember most of my high school reading list. Some of what I do remember:

            A Tale of Two Cities
            All Quiet on the Western Front
            Cyrano de Bergerac
            Canterbury Tales (prologue and a few individual tales)

            1. I had pleasure of taking an elective from a teacher who could sight-read Old English aloud (and, needless to say, Middle English). We did BEOWULF and CANTERBURY TALES in dual translations, and Boetheus A CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY. I only got a B (I expected to squeek through with a C), but learned one hell of a lot.

              I then took every course I could from that man. Shakespeare’s comedies was great fun….especially the classes he devoted to arguing that THE MERCHANT OF VENICE was a subversive tragedy with Shylock as the hero.

              1. The Spouse, on hearing Andrew Klavan’s recommendation, gave me a copy of Boetheus’ A Consolation of Philosophy this year, for which I am very thankful.

              1. You just sparked a memory; I think the first ‘adult’ play I saw live (nothing on in a Middle School auditorium counts) was a Cleveland Playhouse production of CAESER AND CLEOPATRA. Some year during High School.

          4. My school does Tom Sawyer in 6th grade. _Tuck Everlasting_ is 7th, I don’t remember 8th, and 9th includes _Night_ and _Animal Farm_. The English teacher and I tag-team on _Night_ and _Animal Farm_ so that they fall into that portion of history class.

        3. As to the reading, yes, I agree; hence the “big disconnect”.

          As to the voting, I don’t think fraud accounts for almost 50% of the vote. Sadly, a large enough chunk of the American electorate are miseducated imbeciles. It isn’t necessarily their fault. (So, we try to impact those people – writing, debate, entertainment – to open their eyes and move them out of that group.)

          1. You don’t need more than 50% of the vote to be fraudulent. You only need enough of a fraudulent vote to put you over the 50% mark. Often times that only requires a single bus load of people (30-40) in the right polling location.

            1. My point was that some large portion of the voting public obviously does NOT know what’s good. Sarah mentioned fraud in a reply. So I mentioned that those votes for a vast bureaucracy and applied socialism weren’t all fraudulent, but rather an awful lot of ignorant and miseducated voters (plus fraud).
              If you don’t have the [50%+1]-[30 to 40] in the first category, the 30 to 40 in the fraud category don’t help you much.

              1. This emphasises the importance of an honest Media. We do not need a biased Media, one always telling our version of Truth. We just need one which is properly skeptical of Democrats’ claims and subjects those to appropriate scrutiny. As the Washington Post proclaims, “Democracy Dies In Darkness” — so they need to stop throwing shade on one side.

                Note these OpEds from this morning’s Washington Examiner:

                People oppose this tax cut because they’ve been told it’s a tax hike
                By Timothy P. Carney | Dec 20, 2017, 9:07 AM

                Democrats can’t stop lying about the GOP tax bill
                By Pete Kasperowicz | Dec 20, 2017, 10:00 AM

                Here are the top three biggest lies about the GOP tax bill we need to debunk real quick
                By Siraj Hashmi | Dec 20, 2017, 10:11 AM

                Now look at the bullet points in this Washington Post thumbsucker and consider the fallacious thinking incorporated into its claims:

                10 key takeaways from the Republican tax bill
                1. It’s the biggest tax overhaul in 30 years, but it’s not the biggest cut.
                [Accompanied by a graph depicting tax cuts as share of GDP since 1968 — the last fifty years]

                2. The bill will add about $1 trillion to the nation’s debt over the next decade, after taking its economic impact into account.
                [That is one tenth of the Obama Deficits over the last decade – and the costs of Obama era policies are still mounting]

                3. Most of the long-term benefits go to corporations.
                [Corporations (such as the Washington Post) which employ people!]

                4. Most Americans will get an immediate tax cut, but the wealthy get much more.
                [Lots of statistical sleight of hand in this one, from looking at a lack of tax cuts for people paying no income tax to comparing dollar amounts of tax breaks rather than percentage when comparing the benefits to middle and upper income taxpayers.]

                5. In the long run, most Americans will see no tax cut or a tax hike.
                [In the long run, most Americans will be dead]

                6. Blue states benefit less than red states in the legislation.
                [State and Local taxes no longer deductible; Rich Liberals hurt most]

                7. It would benefit some industries more than others.
                [As if it were possible to affect all equally — as their effing useless chart shows, all industries are already disparately affected by the tax code]

                8. It takes away a key part of the Affordable Care Act.
                [Now that the beatings are being stopped it is likely morale will improve]

                9. It’s politically unpopular, but Republicans thought they needed to pass it.
                [Wasn’t that one of the things they praised about the passage of Obamacare?]

                10. The tax plan sets up years of future decisions for Congress.
                [And in that same vein, my getting out of bed this morning set up years of future decision for me.]

                1. Even more illustrative of media bias, this sidebar listing of the Washington Post‘s “Most Read Opinions”

                  1. Trump is about to ‘win’ on taxes. This could help Democrats solve a very big dilemma.

                  2. A win for the wealthy, the entitled and the irresponsible

                  3. In another country, we would call this ‘corruption’

                  4. Trump’s $1.5 trillion bribe

                    1. Heh. Noted by Jim Geraghty at NRO’s Morning Jolt:

                      “Under the U.S. criminal code, “giving, offering, or promising something of value” — like $2 million — to “any public official” — like, say, two senators — in exchange for “any official act performed or to be performed” has committed a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $12 million.

                      “Rosie O’Donnell loves our country so much, she can’t be bothered to actually know the laws.”

                      The opinion piece (by generally conseervative economist Robert Samuelson) argues that money is being “swiped” from the future to deliver tax cuts today:

                      “Recall how it works: The government borrows $1.5 trillion over a decade and instantly uses that money to cut taxes for major constituencies — workers, families, small businesses and big companies.

                      “The handouts aim to buy votes. This is borrowing to bribe. It’s not subtle. If it’s not cynical, what would be?”

                      Samuelson’s primary complaint is the deficit funding, and putting it in the most inflammatory way possible (doubtless in keeping with the Post editorial policies.

                2. Not sure if it was the now passed maybe signed bill or not, but the version I heard was that state and local tax deductions were reduced– to $10k. And while I can’t remember the first-house-interest-deduction-cap, it was at least five times what either of our houses have cost. (Not that we made enough to itemize even before now.)

                  1. Ramifications of the tax bill are difficult to explain briefly, in large part because the Charley Foxtrot that our tax laws constitute. On a number of these issues, such as capping the destructibility of SALT & Mortgage Interest, you have hit on the critical point: most people aren’t benefiting from those because they aren’t itemizing. Increasing the standard deduction is far more useful to far more folk.

                    Simple example: Your standard deduction is $10K and mortgage interest is $12K — only the last $2K of that interest benefits you, and only by raising your taxable income by $2K; if you are paying 25% taxes your actual “loss” is $500, not $2,000. Not good, but not as bad as all that. Jim Geraghty of NRO provides a useful perspective:

                    “If you live in one of those high-cost-of-living, high-state-and-local-tax places, there’s one piece of bad news and at least two pieces of good news. The bad news is you can only deduct $10,000 of your state and local taxes, and maybe you’ve gotten used to deducting $12,000, or $15,000, or even much higher sums each year. (Recall the Tax Foundation’s super-cool map of average state and local tax deductions by county. Yes, New York City’s five boroughs top the list with an average of $24,898. But the eighth-highest county in the country is Nassau County on Long Island with an average state and local tax of $11,624. Meaning the average taxpayer in that county will, in future years, deduct $10,000 instead of $11,624. That’s not a tax increase of $1,624; it means their level of taxable income goes up by $1,624. Unpleasant, but hardly devastating.

                    “The good news is that if you’re paying that much in state and local taxes, you’re probably making enough get hit by the alternative minimum tax, and the new law will reduce that. What’s more, it should be paying less as your income tax rate went down by a few percentage points.”

                    Curtailing the effect of the AMT is a major plus for this reform; it is a pity it wasn’t eliminated altogether but the outcries about “giveaways to the RICH” would deafen us.

                3. Oh, and on #10, my husband pointed out there are sunset clauses in there because they’re required, due to not having sixty votes.

                  He had not heard, but wasn’t surprised, to find out that the child tax credit already doesn’t apply to kids over 16.

        4. Like many things I encountered in the public daycare system, “reading” was apparently designed with the intent that no student would ever voluntarily open a book of their own initiative.

          I know several people who have never read any fiction other than what was assigned in school. They can read; they handle textbooks and documentation with no problem, but the idea of reading for enjoyment is about like slamming their naughty bits with a hammer for fun.

          1. Years ago I came across a “quote” from Stalin, endorsing universal public literacy “to the extent that all could read well enough to read government orders … but nothing else.”

            I have looked for that sentiment many times since, but never with success. It may be one of those “he must have said it” things by which so many quotes get misattributed.

            Nevertheless, the intent is clear and as clearly covers the American public education agenda.

      2. Two books that they made me read that I absolutely hated, were “Lord of the Flies” and “The Butterfly Revolution”. Great books, glad I read them once, but true horror stories.

    2. Actually, I see this as a buyer’s market. There are more writers than publishers, so they can do as they please. Don’t like their deal? Don’t make the sales they want? Too bad, so sad.Send in the next writer.

      What’s changed is that they’re no longer the only buyers.Writers can now cut out the middle man and sell directly to readers. It’s still a buyer’s market, but there’s now a considerably larger pool of buyers.

      1. Yes. And under the present conditions the writers have the chance to find their niche within the reading public. So if you write asexual-historical-urban-steampunk-romantic-fantasy there may not be huge audience, but what audience there is more likely to be found.

      2. To a great extent, if you can string a sentence together, it is a seller’s market.
        Which means the market is MUCH larger than it was. Which means no, the “buyers” the publishers weren’t just choosing “the best” they were throttling the potential market.

        1. To a great extent, if you can string a sentence together, it is a seller’s market.

          Maybe even ox have chance?
          Now if ox had something to say… er… if ox had story demanding to be let out.

            1. Oh yeah. I actually dreamed a story last thing before I woke up this AM. It’s a creepy, “place of horror” thing. I’ll probably need to do a second one after this one, about someone who comes back and offs the “creepy horror.”

            2. And breed in the corners of the mind like dust bunnies. If your mind has a lot of corners to it… Eh, you could probably give out plot bunnies all day long and never run out.

              Which is kind of unnerving, when I think about it. So I don’t do that. Much.

              1. A day or four ago, I address any Potential Characters and told them if they wanted their stories told they’ll need to be more forthcoming with the things. So far nothing. So, either ox have REALLY thick skull (quite possible.. ox is ox) or… the bastages are gonna gang up on on me when I can’t properly deal with things and they’re keeping low for now whilst planning the ambush.

                Hang on… where’d the Marsala get to?

        2. Sigh. My Econ Memory is running slow this day, but the proper term is, I believe, not “buyers’ market” but Oligopoly … and a quick search confirms:

          The three most important characteristics of oligopoly are: (1) an industry dominated by a small number of large firms, (2) firms sell either identical or differentiated products, and (3) the industry has significant barriers to entry.

          Given the limits on printing capacity and control over distribution, this seems to pretty much cover the publishing industry.

          If a writer wanted to write and sell SF, well, there were never more than three or four magazines trafficking in the stuff. Mysteries, much the same. Any genre, including Literary, was limited to a few outlets controlled by a few select folk. Book publishing was even more constrained, especially considering the limited ability to reach a market, creating a high dependence on reviews, which rarely amounted to more than a few columns a week in the local paper.

          Amazon, of course, has drastically rewritten those rules, and by restricting itself to the role of broker has avoided establishing the sort of monopoly which would lead to (serious, as opposed to hysterical) cries for its deconstruction.

          1. there were never more than three or four magazines trafficking in the stuff.

            True for the last several decades but not way back when the magazines were the stf field, fhe 1940s, 50s and into the 60s. Off the top of my head, I can name twice that number that lasted the entire decade and dozens more that came and went. Since then, not so much, but then the magazines have not been the heart of the field since then either.

            1. My (admittedly vague) recollection is that there were not more than a half dozen serious SF magazines in the Foties, most notably Astounding, of course, and all too briefly Uncanny Stories. Additionally I recall The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Comet Stories and, from Donald A. Wollheim, Stirring Science
              .& Cosmic Stories. Of these, obviously, Campbell’s Astounding was preeminent, with (I believe) the Magazine of F&SF picking up Campbell’s rejects. The rest were very pulp and low-paying. I think thet the Fifties brought along If, Galaxy and perhaps one or two others, largely replacing titles that faded away.

              This article — http://magicdragon.com/UltimateSF/timeline1950.html — suggests there were about ten or twelve SF/F magazines in the Forties but unhappily is not formatted in a way that makes extracting the desired information easy. Fascinating resource, ‘though, well worth a glance.

              Executive Summary of the Decade

              Pulp magazines reached their zenith in 1941, and then began to decline in number. 1941 was the maximum point in the chart of U.S. science fiction and fantasy magazine publication. Of the 20 magazine titles published in the 1938-1949 time span, in this single year of 1941 there were over 100 individual issues on the news stands, a veritable cornucopia for delighted (and overwhelmed) readers. “Flying Saucers” were first reported in 1947, feeding media frenzy over extraterrestrials.

              In this decade, of course, World War II was fought, and as parts of the vast global military effort, the real world was flung into the atomic age (1945), the computer age (BINAC, 1945; ENIAC 1946), and the age of intercontinental ballistic missiles (V-2 attacks in 1944). These new realities were calculated by the new mathematics of Cryptology and Game Theory.

              Adolf Hitler was opposed by Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, three landscape painters who shaped the world. Charles De Gaulle rose from hero of the underground resistance to leader of a free nation.

              Japan bombed Pearl Harbor (1941), Nazi troops stormed the Warsaw ghetto, where embattled Jews held out heroically for a while (1943). Science fiction had given glimpses of each of these, but reality began to outrun fiction. There was the Arab-Israeli War (1949). Mao Tse Tung conquered China (1949) and the Cold War began, setting a paranoid tone for the science fiction of the next decade. Roosevelt died, and Harry S Truman became President, ushering in the National Security State.

              The US population was 132,164,569 in 1940, and rose to 151,325,798 by 1950. USA life expectancy had risen from 49 years in 1900 to 64 years in 1940. The USA’s Gross Natioonal Product was 100.6 million in 1940.

              Some inventions and innovations of the 1940s that shaped the culture: …

              1. TL:DR version of lengthier reply hanging in moderation (for a single link? WP Delenda Est) would be to revise my earlier comment to the effect that:

                … there were never more than three or four magazines trafficking in the stuff to any significant degree of influence.

                Weaselly, I admit, but fundamentally true. For a significant time there was Campbell and then there were others, often publishing Campbell’s rejects and stories never submitted to him because their authors anticipated his rejection.

    3. Reminds me of those long tail marking studies done on music. Same problem. But the amount of money available with electronic downloads of obscure artists and works is a significant percentage of the total sales. The bell curve is a lot flatter, and skewed, for both music and ‘book’ demand, than the big box companies want you to know. Plus, searching online and downloading is a heck of a lot faster than driving to the store, and asking if they have an old copy of something by Chuck Berry, or even Herb Albert and the Tiajuana Brass.

      1. Does anyone read SF magazines any more, other than writers hoping to sell something to those same magazines?

        1. YO!! ANALOG (since mid-late ’50s) subscriber here! GALAXY from mid-late ’50s to early ’60s, maybe later.

      2. I remember when they expanded their data sourcing for record buying in the … early Eighties, I think … from record stores in NY, Philly, Boston, Chicago and LA and discovered there was a HUGE market for Country music. People in Oklahoma ans Texas bought records???? Who nu?

  3. Quick call for prayers here. The retina work last October seems to be working, and my left eye is healing. However, I need cornea work. Today I drive over the Cascades (dodging a storm due in tonight) and tomorrow the cornea doc will take a diamond burr to clean up the cornea on the right eye. It’s supposed to be straightforward, but I’ll admit to a bit of nervousness… Assuming this works properly (should clean up some astigmatism as a side benefit), we’ll do the left eye in February.

    I kind of hate the first one of a two-part surgical procedure. Had my ears worked on years ago (otosclerosis, so I have implants instead of the stapes bone). First procedure actually did fine. Second and third sucked, but the fourth did OK. (Left ear has a bunch of scar tissue in the ear canal…)

    Thanks in advance,


      1. I drove to Medford today, and am staying at a hotel. It’s a quarter mile or so to the facility, and with luck, I can walk back before the local wears off. Either that, or a really short cab ride. 🙂 I’ll stay overnight, and (barring major problems) can make my way home Thursday. This is more or less what I did for the earlier procedure, though that one needed cab rides–different facility..

        I’ve been prescribed Vicodin (can tolerate it, but dislike it) and Ambien–never used it. If the discomfort level is reasonable, I know how much ibuprofen I can take–already take a couple for arthritis, and it’s baked into my Warfarin dosage. Don’t plan to take the strong stuff until I get home.

        Thanks for the prayers. This is less hairy than the victrectomy/retina work, though looking at a diamond burr up close pegs the yikes meter… It helps that I like the doctor and trust him.

          1. They only gave 8 tabs, and the directions say to plan to stay in bed 7 to 8 hours. I’m normally good for 6 before my body objects. If it come to it, I might break out the chlorpheniramine allergy tabs. They’ll put me to sleep by themselves.

    1. Prayers. Mom has had a lot of work done on both eyes, cataracts was one, then some stuff they couldn’t/were not doing, 5 years ago. Went from being all but blind to not being required (slight correction but withing not required range) to use glasses, even driving. She started using glasses when she was 8 or 10 (she thinks, hey she is 83). On the other hand, hubby is legally blind in his left eye due to a childhood trauma. 30 years ago, eye specialist said it could be fixed (restored sight was iffy, damage would have been fixed but so young when injury occurred that eye never “learned” to see) to stop the irritation from bright sun light. He declined because the possibility of sympathetic reject reaction by the right eye, and thus total blindness, was too risky. Have not looked into it lately, not likely either, unless/until right eye needs work.

    2. Oh, heck, I hope you are either further south than Washington or you took a northern pass, because SnowQ. has been its usual “closed for snow, open, closed because idiots went 90 to make up for time, open, closed AGAIN for the idiots-“

      1. I’m in Southern Oregon. State Route 140 promises to be ‘orrible tonight, but the snow should be done Wednesday AM. I’ll head homeward Thursday afternoon, in Subie 2. Already wearing studded snow tires for ice, and have chains if ODOT is late. Don’t expect that; it’s a major route.

    3. For what man can do, he shall. For what is beyond our abilities and our ken, we pray. Take care of yourself, good sir. May Himself watch over you and yours.

  4. I know they mean well, it just doesn’t work.

    Maybe it is just when I grew up, or it may be an atavistic streak of misanthropy, but I never believed they meant well. I knew they were mean, well, yes, and its one saving grace was that it doesn’t work.

    I tend the view the claim with the same disdain any decent person would hold for the same stance taken toward the benevolent Christ-proselytizing slave-owners, taking on the burden and responsibility of making the hard choices necessary for the management of a community. “I know the slave-owners mean well, but it just doesn’t work.”

    In fact, communism works just fine for its purpose; it is its economics that don’t work.

    1. Part of the problem is a disconnect between the stated public intentions of the leading intellectuals and the practical purpose as defined by the people who seek to impose it and its end results.
      It’s much like the disconnect between what certain imams say in English (or French or German or…) for western consumption and what they say in Arabic for their congregation on any given Friday.

    2. Growing up in the ‘enlightened’ northeast things were different.  They really believed that the best and the brightest could create a paradise on earth.  They would be uncomfortable to admit to the influence of communism on their thinking, but they were also thoroughly embarrassed by ‘the communist witch-hunts’ of the 1950s.  They preferred to think of what they promoted as a form of benevolent capitalism.  They considered themselves rationalist in their thinking.  Still, they found the idea of the Christian duty of charity laudable and thought it should be taken over by the government where it would be more equitably applied.


      1. CACS, these are the people who invented and implemented the earliest public school systems — with the purpose of creating a paradise on earth. They thought that if they could just start training the children from the time they were small, they could make it happen. PFUI is right.

        1. No. The earliest public schools were charity schools, often founded in the late 18th century, to try to educate the poor, so they could rise. They were mostly Christian enterprises, and often Dissenting (non-C of E). One of Joseph Priestly’s marks on history is that he tried to develop an academic model for teaching English as a primary language. One of the effects of this movement was ratiinalizing (if that can ever be said of English) spelling.

          The Boston types thought they could make this better by removing the heavy Christian influence. And we know where THAT went.

          1. It was the big push to make “public education” truly “public” (iow, state-run) where freeholder’s comment becomes true. Folks like Dewey (whose ‘scientific’ library organization has always been odd to me) got their mitts on things…….

            1. Don’t forget we imported the Prussian Pedagogy in spite of how that turned out over there. Of course, many of America’s teachers had been educated before that nonsense was introduced and generally paid it no more than a nod and a smile in their classrooms.

              Years ago at a B&N I spotted a text by a German sociologist arguing that their pedagogy essentially led to Nazism of one form or another. I had a minor in Sociology and recognized the work as serious … after a little while considering it I went back to buy the book but, alas, it was no longer on the shelves and I couldn’t remember the title well enough to inquire.

            2. Dewey (John) was the “educator”; Dewey (Melvil) was the Decimal librarian. I useta was confused about this, too.

              1. Huh, I thought they were the same. Well, Dewey’s educational system was always a bigger problem than Dewey’s library system, either way.

            3. It’s actually easy to follow in the US. Early on, schools were funded by the community/municipality. The idea of bigger and better came from the concept of buying power. Things are cheaper purchased in bulk, and a larger pool funding education meant more, and hopefully better, teachers.

              You can see where this is heading. If a county could do so more efficiently than a community, why, certainly a state could do it even more efficiently. And if a state could do it more efficiently, what could be done on a national level?

              Problem is, some things don’t scale up very well. And once you’ve got a bureaucracy in place, it’s mighty hard to pry it out.

          2. There’s no continuity with current school systems perhaps, but IIRC the first recorded public schools were established by Yehoshua ben Gamla, the third-to-last High Priest in Jerusalem—though probably before his term in office in ca. 64ᴄᴇ.

            It’s not clear how much of that system survived the wars of the next century, but it was firmed-up (or reestablished) by Rabbi Chiyya the Great (ca. 180–230ᴄᴇ). This was also an example of boot-strapping: Rabbi Chiyya would teach the first batch of students the Five Books of the Torah, then assign one Book to each of five boys for them to teach to others. Then he’d do the same with the Six Books of the Mishnah—always having the students teach each other. And on the topic of school supplies—all from himself. If there were no books in town, he copied them; if there was no paper handy, he planted flax, twisted nets, trapped deer, slaughtered them, and made their hides into parchment to write the books on.

            1. Shhhhh! You might give my headmaster ideas! 🙂 Although I’m probably safe from the chasing down the deer to make parchment. I don’t think he likes hunting, and the deer have all gone into the state parks to hide.

            2. Charlemagne is kind of famous for the idea of everybody learning, too.

              Notably, my dad was horrified to find out that someone he’d grown up knowing as a sort of course was basically unknown to his kids. (He rattled off some obviously school-ground rhyme about how Charley had set up school and drat him for that, and it took a little talking to get him to realize we had really not been taught anything about European history beyond “World Wars happened, and the pilgrims came from there.” When I ran into mention of the guy in one of Stasheff’s books, I didn’t realize he wasn’t entirely a legend.)

      2. they found the idea of the Christian duty of charity laudable and thought it should be taken over by the government

        Thus exposing a fundamental misunderstanding of what a duty of charity is actually all about – basically if someone else does it for you, you are missing the point.

        1. Governments don’t “do” charity; they take money from taxpayers and hire gummint workers to dispense what’s left over.

          1. Not only this, but they cannot by nature. Governments exist as an expense and an impedance upon a free people. They create nothing of substance. Their very nature is to restrict and destroy.

            Properly formed and used, they restrict very little- only the things that a free people agree are necessary for their continued individual pursuit of happiness. The “don’t take what isn’t yours” laws, for instance. Contract law- what things happen when you don’t keep your given word. A goverment also (indeed, one of its most important purposes) is to define its borders and keep its people safe. A people who have no borders and no defense do not remain free very long.

            Just as a fire destroys, but can profitably be used to provide heat, goverment needs to be watched carefully and kept sharply contained, lest it outgrow its bounds and begin to eat the body that feeds it. As it has been steadily doing for some time now.

            1. Not only this, but they cannot by nature.
              Also, charity is an act of the heart. Gov’ts should not have “hearts”. “Hearts” require treating people unequally, with compassion rather than justice. This is in opposition to gov’t’s main purpose (justice).
              Let the gov’t handle justice – handle it well, and equally dispensed.
              Let the people handle charity – as they see fit in their hearts.

    3. In my parents’ house “meaning well” was not considered a virtue. Both of them History teachers, they were all too aware of the horrific results of well intentioned goddamned fools who didn’t learn.

      1. It’s time for that CS Lewis quote, evidently:
        Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

        One of the important reasons to study history is to learn this.

        1. Which is why those who would torment us for our own good are so determined to outlaw guns. Because an armed population is unlikely to tolerate them.

          My Liberal acquaintance sometime ask me what good I expect guns to do against tyranny when modern armies have tanks. My answer is “Tyrannies are not run from tanks, they are run from desks.”

          1. ILOH addressed this point a while back. He noted a couple of things.

            First, military bases in the US aren’t exactly impregnable affairs (unlike overseas).
            Second, you don’t shoot at the tank. You shoot at the truck carrying the fuel to keep the tank moving.

            1. Since the mid-1970s I have often had reason to pass through military bases while traveling around the eastern U.S..  It is rather hard to secure a base when a highway runs through it, but believe me, in the last fifteen years serious efforts do so have begun. 

          2. My Liberal acquaintance sometime ask me what good I expect guns to do against tyranny …

            “As if I would tell you, Quisling!”

            Don’t your Liberal acquaintances insist there is no way we can achieve military victory in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why do they think it will be effective in the United States? Do they think our Air Force will drop Daisy Cutters in Kansas?

            1. It appears that you think they are logical. They are not. So, to the first question: Isn’t that the take away lesson about Afghanistan of every attempt since Alexander the Great? To the second question: Because that’s different. To the third: Ah … um … Well … What’s the matter with Kansas anyway?

            2. That would require them to study History. Which we’ve established they don’t. Because Progress! or something.

              1. Fortunately, 40% of Marine officers majored in history in college. Coincidently, most Marine officers tend to vote Republican.

          3. The difference between a criminal and a responsible gun-owning Constitutionalist is that a criminal will shoot first, and possibly consider the ramifications of doing so later; while (except in emergency conditions) the Constitutionalist will usually spend far more than twice as much time and effort as necessary before deciding it’s time to pull the trigger.

  5. You know, a university department is a lot like a kindergarten in this respect. There is only so much money to spend, and if X gets a raise then Y gets stiffed. That helps me understand some of these people’s reflexive socialism; they actually are living in a fixed-pie world.

    What’s more, there another level of divvying up a fixed pie above them, where the department chairmen lobby the dean to get more of a fixed budget for their department.

    I don’t know, maybe the vast sums being squandered these days have changed the situation. But back when the academic life was still equivalent to a vow of genteel poverty, I saw the wrangling at the lower level at first hand and heard war stories about the second level from my father.

  6. Once you grant an individual the right to self-ownership, you can’t go about saying he has to give back to the community,

    Pfui. You don’t “own” yourself, you merely rent yourself from The State for so long as you keep your Property Income Taxes paid. The State declares what you will minimally pay/be paid for your labor, what modes of manufacture are acceptable for your food, your clothing, your house, your electricity, your water, the air you breathe.

    1. This is why the State is an inferior replacement for God. If you owe God, you and he can work it out in the afterlife. If you owe the State, it has to squeeze you NOW.

          1. Heh, you know that part in the song where he kind of chuckles while singing, the line about Can’t no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line?

            Apparently his wife was in the studio, you see, and she visually objected to that claim. 😉

            1. I don’t remember that. I do remember learning that ol’ Ern was a navigator on a B-29 for Russell Dougherty, who later got 4 stars and was Commander In Chief of Strategic Air Command.

            2. He retained the chuckle for performance:


              Did you know that Jeff Beck and ZZ Top did a live performance of the song with that video on screen in the background?

              1. ❤ ❤ ❤

                I grew up listening to western music– my folks are rather major fans. (it's a rather healthy fandom– lot of those folks are just awesome people, and there's something like the "Nashville opera reunion" show that is flat awesome, everyone still alive shows up, talks and sings. Got to see the Possum before he died that way.)

  7. Society shouldn’t make you feel ashamed.

    Tell that to the hoarders, the wreckers, the kulaks, the uncompassionate, the sexists/racists/whateveraphobes, the Trumpites. Progressives main line of trade is in making people feel ashamed, whether for culturally appropriating, for triggering, for not quickly enough dancing to today’s political sensitivity tunes.

    1. Shame can be an extremely motivating influence. For all the left decries the practice, they employ it far more often of late than those they were up in arms about just a few years ago.

      1. Once again, they don’t grasp human nature. Eventually, if you can’t avoid shame, you will embrace it or ignore it. If everything you do – even the most benign, sensible things – causes you shame, an awful lot of people will turn on them.
        “You think I’m deplorable now? Just watch this!”
        Then they start lighting things on fire.

        1. They have a tin ear for human reactions generally. When Marion Barry was making his comeback bid, the Washington Post (which had slurped his butt too many times to count) ran an editorial that, boiled down to essentials, was a stereotypical comic maiden aunt crying “You can’t POSSIBLY vote for THAT MAN!”

          I happened to,read the Post that day, and knew from the moment I finished that editorial that unless Barry did something spectacularly stupid, he was going to win. And maybe even if he did. The whole town’s reaction, outside of the political enclaves, was “Watch us, bitch”.

    2. I suppose shame is one objective, but I’d argue the other side of that coin: Progressives main line of trade is in inducing Envy – if you don’t envy what some other sod has got, you can’t be motivated to have the gubmint take from said sod and give it to the deservingly envious – with an implied “like you”, but in reality it mostly goes to the enlightened administrators and true guardians of the masses, for their dachas and vodka funds.

      1. They are the twin clubs of socialism/communism: Shame and Envy. One keeps the people down, while the other keeps them dependent (and helps bleed off some of the pressure from Shame).

        To connect to the 16 Tons reference above:
        “If the right one don’t get ya, then the left one will”

      2. Envy would also explain why rioters seem to have this thing about smashing, looting, and then burning. If they can’t have it, then nobody can have it.

    3. Do you mean ‘the basket of deplorables’?

      Well society does has a plan for them, but they were too stupid to vote as they should so it will have to wait.

      Here’s hoping we keep them waiting a very very long time.

  8. What is mine, I keep.

    Some … interesting definitions of “to keep”:

    2. To have as a supply: keep spare parts in case of emergency.

    3. a. To provide (a family, for example) with maintenance and support: “There’s little to earn and many to keep” (Charles Kingsley).
    b. To support (a mistress or lover) financially.

    5. a. To supply with room and board for a charge: keep boarders.
    b. To raise:
    keep chickens.

    6. To maintain for use or service: an urbanite who didn’t keep a car.

    7. To manage, tend, or have charge of: Keep the shop while I’m away.

    8. To preserve (food).

    9. To cause to continue in a state, condition, or course of action: tried to keep the patient calm.

    12. To adhere or conform to; follow: keep late hours.

    13. To be faithful to; fulfill: keep one’s word.

    14. To celebrate; observe: keep the Sabbath.

    So many meanings from so brief a word.

    1. And nouns – the core of a castle, where the family lived and where everyone would fall back to in case the outer walls were breached, was the keep. In German “Burgfried,” which literally translates “peace of the castle.”


    Audible buyers ought be advised that they are now offering an audiobook edition of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1, 1929–1964!

    Holey Moley! Twenty-eight hours of golden age SF classics!

    Publisher’s Summary
    The definitive collection of the best in science fiction stories between 1929 and 1964.

    This book contains 26 of the greatest science fiction stories ever written. They represent the considered verdict of the Science Fiction Writers of America, those who have shaped the genre and who know, more intimately than anyone else, what the criteria for excellence in the field should be.

    The authors chosen for the Science Fiction Hall Fame are the men and women who have shaped the body and heart of modern science fiction; their brilliantly imaginative creations continue to inspire and astound new generations of writers and fans.

    In “The Roads Must Roll”, Robert Heinlein describes an industrial civilization of the future caught up in the deadly flaws of its own complexity. “Country of the Kind”, by Damon Knight, is a frightening portrayal of biological mutation. “Nightfall”, by Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest stories in the science fiction field, is the story of a planet where the sun sets only once every millennium and is a chilling study in mass psychology.

    Originally published in 1970 to honor those writers and their stories that had come before the institution of the Nebula Awards, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Vol. One, was the book that introduced tens of thousands of young listeners to the wonders of science fiction. Too long unavailable, this new edition will treasured by all science fiction fans everywhere.

    This collection also includes an introduction by Robert Silverberg and stories by Stanley G. Weinbaum, John W. Campbell, Lester del Rey, Theodore Sturgeon, Lewis Padgett, Clifford D. Simak, Fredric Brown, Murray Leinster, Judith Merril, Cordwainer Smith, Ray Bradbury, C. M. Kornbluth, Richard Matheson, Fritz Leiber, Anthony Boucher, James Blish, Arthur C. Clarke, Jerome Bixby, Tom Godwin, Alfred Bester, Daniel Keyes, and Roger Zelazny.

    The complete list of narrators includes Oliver Wyman, L. J. Ganser, Richard Ferrone, Pete Larkin, Graham Halstead, Eliza Foss, Fred Berman, Michael David Axtell, Michael Braun, Rick Adamson, Gabriel Sloyer, Amanda Leigh Cobb, Neil Hellegers, Mark Boyett, David Shih, Alex Bloch, Jeff Gurner, and Tom Burka.

    ©2017 Robert Silverberg (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

    Contents listing available through Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Science_Fiction_Hall_of_Fame,_Volume_One,_1929%E2%80%931964#Contents

    N.B. – Sarah, I have deliberately used two links so that you may have the option of vetoing this for publication, or of endorsing the critter or of expressing no opinion, as may be your wont.

    1. Women???? Weren’t we fairly recently TOLD, in NO uncertain terms, that there WERE NO WOMEN SF writers in the old, UNENLIGHTENED days?

      1. In twenty years, the first female to ever write science fiction, fantasy, or horror will be born. Unfortunately, she won’t have much time to learn craft, because the end times are in fifty.

      2. Helena George “H.G.” Wells, right?
        Oops. Mixing my science fiction with reality.
        File in Warehouse 13.

  10. No. “Fair’ never worked. Not in Kindergarten, not subsequently. My experience of ‘fair’ was that I would finally get my hands on the toy I have been waiting for a chance with, when it would be taken away by Teacher to be given to some other kid in the name of ‘fair’. I rapidly learned to despise ‘fair’ and distrust Teachers who preached it. And, by extension, to distrust people who thought that A) Kindergarten was fair and B) that could be translated to the wider world.

    I suppose there may have been a time when I bought into Socialism. Briefly. But I don’t remember it.

    1. I remember in fifth grade or thereabouts when our teacher got in a bunch of educational toys. I started playing with one called Spin-Out, where the goal was to get the center piece out, and after a bit, someone said I wasn’t going to get it and asked me to hand it over. I ignored them, and something like two minutes later, slid the center piece out, displayed it to them, and then started resetting it without saying a word. (It was based on a binary sequence and we had all been taught binary earlier in the year.) Funny thing; they shut up.

      1. My experince of educational toys from the 1960’s amd 1970’s was that I got better education from books, amd they too often left out the ‘toy’ part. They tended to be a chore to ‘play’ with. There were a few exceptions, but not many.

        1. I remember erector sets, though never had one. Did have a Visible Man. Assembly wasn’t difficult, but painting was a pain. Knew someone who had put together one of those model V8 motors.

          Had a lot of fun with nothing but wires, nails, and batteries. Was when I learned how a transformer worked, and how AC made life much simpler (was NOT allowed to play with AC, though I was rewiring lamps and fixing plugs, because a neighbor’s kid got things mixed up making a transformer and ended up putting much higher voltage on the house wiring, blowing out bulbs and doing other damage). Clearly remember waking very early one Christmas morning when I was in the 6th Grade, and, knowing better than to wake everyone, amused myself with making a miniature arc light.

          Never made a crystal set, though. We were so far from a radio station that pick-up would have been difficult.

          1. Our eldest just got a crystal radio set– it’s on the “build with dad” list. (Mom has both backseat driver tendencies, and usually has a baby crawling on her!)

            1. Keep meaning to make a foxhole radio, using an oatmeal box; some wire; thumb tacks; razor or hacksaw blade; safety pin; a bit of graphite; and some sort of speaker. I really want to make a speaker instead of using part of an ear bud (the old mono ear phones are thin on the ground). It would be better to use a diode to make sure everything was wired properly, then make a point contact diode with the blade and graphite. Will cheat and make taps in the coil for stations I think we can pick up.

          2. Ah, but by the standards of the academic left, erector sets and real chemistry sets, amd the like aren’t ‘educational toys’ because they can be ‘played’ with in unapproved ways. ‘Educational Toys’ were things like flash card sets, or quiz games on approved subjects (I often knew the answers, and they weren’t the answers the game gave.).

            Fortunately, my parents were of much the same opinion.

            1. Same here on the wrong answers thing– my kids have seen mom go “that doesn’t sound right, let’s go look it up” more than once. 😀

              Oooh, for current fun learning toys– they’ve got these magnetic blocks that are either about 3 inch sided squares or triangles and have cylinder magnets in the middle of each side– and holy cow are they good fun for everyone from babies to (I don’t ask her age because I am not stupid) great grandmothers! The knock-offs are even decent quality. 😀

            2. From the Left’s point of view a toy isn’t really educational unless a) o kid would play it without the prodding of an adult and b) it includes a shock collar for wrong answers.

          3. Had a “50 in 1” set when I was young, with a bunch of different electrical things that you could do. Everything required the set (which was a big board with electrical do-dads attached to it, plus the wires and what-not needed to connect various items together), but it was a neat little set-up that taught some interesting lessons about electricity.

        2. They got better. Think more along the lines of blacksmith puzzles than “you must learn THIS boring thing through THIS complicated method.” Good for people who learn through doing. (And yeah, I figured out the binary part pretty quickly, but this thing had seven or eight wheels, so it took a bit of time.)

  11. I am mostly convinced my father is what called high functioning sociopath and has been a communist his entire life. My father thinks he is superior human being while in fact he is an awful parent and husband.

    As just one example, three times my father has disappeared from our lives for more than four years – the first time was when I was 14 months old and my mom was pregnant with my sister. I confronted my dad after the second time he returned after being gone for five years and he said he was giving his children space to develop and that he deserved book contract to tell people all about his parenting techniques.

    I would be interested to see how many people with cluster a,b or c personality disorders are also ardent left wing people. People who have horrid personality, their brains work overtime convincing them that they are superior human who everyone should listen too, to protect them from truth.

  12. Neither my sister or I was allowed to wallow about how life wasn’t fair from early age – three out of four grandparents were removed from school and sent to work as coal miner or char woman when they were nine years old. They did not take kindly to their young grandson complaining about how life wasn’t fair because I didn’t get exact cookie I was asking for.

    1. Life is indeed not fair. We’ve got all kinds of luxuries unimagined by previous generations, and we did nothing to deserve them except be born at the right time.

    2. My father was the adopted son of a methodist minister, and was continually astonshed at how well his life had gone. His reaction to ‘life isn’t fair’ was always “and thank God!”.

  13. If life were fair, we would all go to Hell. G-d being as loving as just provided a means for the demands of justice to be met without sending people to Hell; some people choose to go (or keep ignoring the signs that the bridge is out—just like people who drive around the signs that say that the road is closed due to flooding and drown).

    1. Or they stop, get out, remove the barricade, and drive on into the raging river.
      I recall that from Dallas in late ’65.

      1. I like to use marketplace forces to encourage paper publishers to support the authors I like. But I prefer to support the authors I like without having to pay a middle man.

  14. “I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?’ So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.”

    Marcus Cole, “A Late Delivery from Avalon”, B5

    1. Yep. “Be glad G-d doesn’t always give us what we deserve.” Several older relatives and grandparents.

      Or “Fair is where you go to look at show cows, giant produce, and eat funnel-cake and thing-on-a-stick.”

    2. Justice system getting rid of pillory was a mistake.

      I have never committed crime that deserved time in jail but I have definitely done things that at least deserved time where people could thrown rotten fruit at me for a few hours at least.

  15. Fair exists– it’s a simplified form of justice.

    Doesn’t have any more to do with what folks abuse it for than any other word, and it’s never going to be perfect; it’s supposed to be used with little kids to build a standard of behavior.

    Guess what happens when you remove morality in favor of everyone feeling nice, with an extra helping of being nice on other folks’ dime to those you feel bad for?

    Hm…. I was trying to find that line in the Bible barring judges from showing favor to the poor just because they’re poor, and man is that a rather effective chapter– including putting in a form of charity that doesn’t require the giver to do anything which might taint the situation, only to leave the edges of the field unharvested, and not do a once-over for the stuff you missed….

    1. I was trying to find that line in the Bible barring judges from showing favor to the poor just because they’re poor
      Yep, that’s become a go-to based on the concepts of “justice” we’ve been seeing lately.

      And, concur on the gleaning concept. An elegant way to do it. (Doesn’t work with manufacturing very well, however.)

      1. Hard to retrofit, but some form of a reject shop where you can earn money to buy the stuff that isn’t good enough to sell MIGHT work….

        Eh, right now, we’ve simply got the system built to avoid such waste, and honestly manufacturing is a horrible place to put it. You’ll notice a lack of herd-based gleaning, too.

    2. The thought, to the extent any exists, is that the rich, having “much” will little notice any loss, while the poor are already devastated and would benefit from any gain. “He can afford it!” they say.

      This is particularly pernicious with juries, who are often distracted from important questions of guilt and responsibility into irrelevancies of who can best bear the cost.

  16. “This being the case, there is no “fairness” in life. There is no “honor” in life. There is no “equality” in life.”

    That’s the thing that separates us from the beasts though, isn’t it? “Nature, red in tooth and claw.” There’s no honor in the natural world. We bring that. There’s more to Man than thumbs.

    That’s why the SJWs bother me. They have no honor. Not even among themselves.

    1. We humans can have peace when shared values permit us to form and keep agreements not to do one another harm. The faith of the communists does not include such values; for in certain circumstances there is nothing to limit the purges. The faith of the socialists is now heavily influenced by the faith of the communists.

      1. So far as I can see from my reading, the faith of the Socialists and the faith of the Communists are different only in small cosmetic details. Sort of like the differences betweena Baptist and a Church Of Christ follwer. There are some. They don’t affect behavior much.

        You could add that, at least,at this time in history, and maybe always, the faith ofmthe Muslim does not work to those ends either.

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