The Pursuit of Goodness



I suspect there have always been unwritten laws in society.  Do this, don’t do that, that’s not the way to greet someone. In every society really.

But I think we’re living in a time of unique lack of codification.  Which isn’t of course.  There are rules, but they change suddenly and no one tells you.

No, I’m serious.  As great (eh.  Good at least) apes, we have and develop social scripts, and signals.  This is normal.

But the great flowering of the crazy of the romantics — back to the natural man, leaving under an oak which furnishes all our necessities and such rot — exploding into the sixties with theories like “no frustration raising” in which it was believed if you didn’t discipline a child at all, they’d have no frustrations or repressions, and would therefore be a perfect angel has turned, as it moderated in expression (mostly because no-frustration children are destructive savages no one wants around) into “there are rules but we won’t tell you what they are.

Yes, this is very bad for neuro atypical people out there.  Honestly, I think our plague of autistic spectrum disorders is mostly because our society is faux-unstructured.  I suspect only about half the people can actually intuit the rules from things never said.  The other half stumble around desperately looking for the rules, or give up on socializing in disgust.

But beyond that, it’s bad because it removes the definition of what it is to be “good” in a society.

If you read older books, there were very well defined ideas of goodness.  Attending church, being cleanly, having a good, respectful marriage, working hard, practicing charity.  It wasn’t exactly easy, but it was a clear and defined path.

The problem is most people want to be good.  They want to fit whatever the society admires.  But our society particularly since the sixties, but really since sometime in the nineteenth century (only with increasing vigor) has waged a war on hypocrisy, which means acting good when “you’re not really good” and as proof of not being really good anything that falls short of perfection is adjudicated: say a man who is married and faithful but looks at pictures of naked women.

From this, it turned into an ongoing, frontal assault on traditional definitions of good and the bourgeois virtues that built western civilization.  If the people being thrifty and hard workers were “hypocrites” it followed you should live lives of slovenly laziness.  If monogamy couldn’t be adhered to perfectly, it meant you should screw everything that moved, or even waved in the wind.

But the “Goodness” of this inversion of values can’t be maintained.  For one, because it often leads to self-destruction, or the destruction of social groups.  So most people preach this nonsense, while living lives of bourgeois conventionality.

This just results in confusing the roughly fifty percent who have to KNOW the rules.

And it often causes young people to go astray for years, before they realize you really can’t live anti-civilization values while in civilization.

It might also destroy those people more adept at abstract thinking, and less adept at social thinking, because they discover the one thing that will get them viewed as “good”: the constant mouthing of leftist platitudes.  Or the screaming of them, to atone for their sin of being born to solid middle class.

The increasingly unhinged rants of leftist intellectuals are the equivalent of the Cathedrals of Europe only far less useful or aesthetically pleasing: they’re a way to claim goodness, even if you can’t live it in your daily life; to buy your way to heaven despite the common sins of humanity.

But while the cathedrals were expensive, and overblown, and consumed the substance of a not-as-wealthy-as we are society, they were beautiful and more importantly, they didn’t gnaw at the basic values that built society.  They didn’t make it impossible for people to live productive lives, or to create the most objective good of all: a way for more people to live wealthy and dignified lives.

They did provide a refuge for the weary and aesthetic refreshment for the hopeless.

The lefty rants are vast cathedrals built of intellectual poo.  They stink up the air, and collapse in on themselves, leaving nothing but excrement in their wake.

It is time to rebuild.   It is time to reorient.  Given that all humans are flawed, and that society is built of flawed human beings, the only thing we can do is support the systems and the modes of living that have made the west wealthier than any other region and any other time.

People not living in abject poverty or being considered objects is an objective good.

Eschew the idiots calling hypocrite.  Do the best you can, and continue doing it, while the monkeys screech and fling poo.

Build under, build over, build around.

Be not afraid.

In the end we win, they lose.

157 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Goodness

  1. True social power comes from being able to define (and redefine) the rules.

    The Left, unhealthily obsessed with social power, tends to carry this to extremes, mistaking the amiability of most Americans for license to arbitrarily alter rules.

    This was the theme of the British (and later Broadway) musical, The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd:

    There are so many things to remember!

    1. The people in control of the rules win the game. That’s why Apple has been so dominant in the tech market for the last fifteen years; it’s not the quality of product so much as the fact that everybody else is playing by the rules that Apple sets. Until that changes, they’re not going to beat Apple even with higher-quality products.

  2. One of my high school history teachers once said that if it weren’t for hypocrisy, we’d never have forward progress. (This was specifically in reference to slave-owning Thomas Jefferson writing about freedom, and I think it applies.) We aspire to greatness and to be better than we are.

    1. Indeed, we have to. We are born selfish and amoral. Only with proper training, example, and guidance, we can become civilized. Once those patterns are set, they can be hard to break. It’s another reason I back the statement “raise your children well” wholeheartedly.

      If one is Christian (and is serious about it), there is a path there to follow. If not, there are still ways to get through to the idea that freedom and goodness are inextricably bound to responsibility and the knowledge that, for all our high aspirations, we are still flawed beings.

      And that’s one of the threads that makes for powerful stories- redemption. A man who has failed, over and over again, done wrong and been done wrong, finally making right, now that’s something that plucks a thread in the hearts of us all. It is also one of the strong pillars of our culture. Failure does not define us. We are the stronger for picking ourselves up, time and again, until we finally succeed.

      1. And, acknowledging that real “success” might not be what we first fixed our eyes on, when setting out. Those things make for good stories, too.

        1. “Success” is second-order. You can’t succeed. You must succeed at something. King Canute succeed when he ordered the tide back because his intention was to silence his flatterers, not turn back the tide.

      2. I think this is part of why Anime is so dang popular, too– what’s the repeating theme? “Keep trying,” and “even the most evil SOB can work hard and become your incredibly awesome ally.”

        Watching Fairy Tail with the kids, and holy CRUD did they do a good job setting Gajeel Redfox (no relation) up as an irredeemably evil girl-beating nasty SOB!

        1. *grin* I think so too. Haven’t had the chance to watch much Anime in the past couple of years (too much work), but that’s one of the things that draws me back into it.

        2. Actually, I believe that anime is so dang popular, because the Japanese are currently immune to the virtue-signalling requirements of Soc-jus. All they have to do is tell stories.

          My extended family is not as red-pilled as are my husband and my daughter and I. So when they decided to go see the new Star Wars movie on Boxing Day, we demurred. Go have fun!

          We got back together afterwards for a dinner of bitching about how badly the movie sucked. They had no clue about how propaganda is the death of art, they had no understanding of the social progressive goals the creators were trying to achieve. All they knew was that it stunk. Body positive Asian girl, was just the new Jar Jar Binks!

    2. Notice the definition of hypocrisy, which actually means professing to believe things you don’t actually believe. The drunk who tells you the booze will kill you is not a hypocrite. Only the one who tells you that because it will make you pity him so he can go on drinking.

  3. And look into rapid prototyping technology. Our reduced-scarcity society _needs_ high tech to remain reduced-scarcity, so if things at the top get so unwieldy that there’s a breakdown into separate nations, being able to tool up for necessarily local infrastructure could become important.

  4. The problem is most people want to be good. They want to fit whatever the society admires.

    Those are not necessarily the same people. To “want to be good” implies the adoption of a standard for goodness. But such a standard need not include the things “society admires.” This is especially piercing in our current age, in which “society admires” many persons and things that bear no perceptible relation to any standard for goodness.

    In his novel The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson made a point most tellingly about “hypocrisy.” A true hypocrite doesn’t sincerely hold to the standard he espouses. However, many people who have the common problem of Mankind — i.e., that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak — are unjustly called hypocrites for a failing, or several failings, that they sincerely regret and strain to correct. Since we are fallible creatures, nearly all of us, however much we want to be good by our own standard, will fail to meet that standard some of the time.

    A grace note: Remember when Barack Hussein Obama was asked for his personal definition of sin? He replied “Being out of alignment with my values.” He persisted in a series of deceits and betrayals that continued unimpeded for eight years. Could you ever imagine that he considered honesty “one of my values?”

    1. Obama’s values? Hell, that’s simple. The same as Shrillary’s, or any other member of the Progressive Left establishment:

      They deeply and sincerely believe that they should be telling all of us peasants how to live. Since THEY aren’t peasants, that doesn’t apply to them, of course.

      Progressive, guillotine, some disassbly required.

    2. I think when you say most people want to be good, you’re actually looking at the esteem level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They want to meet their own definition of good, as well as being respected by others for being good in their eyes.

      1. I understand that Maslowe gave up believing in his hierarchy of needs when confronted with a bunch of inmates. Despite the different scenarios given to them and the options presented, stealing was what they reverted to to get what they wanted. When he probed them as to why, they answered “Because stealing is what we do!” Similar to Willie Sutton’s answer as to why he robbed banks.

        1. It’s still useful for writers, as long as you don’t take it for a sequence. (and realize that “self-actualization” is a lousy name for “dedication.”)

          Go up the pyramid, asking how your character’s purpose would fulfill his needs at each step. Then do the same, asking how it would hinder or at least endanger them at each step.

          1. And as always, remember that it’s a model of human behavior, not the actual behavior itself. Just because you can glue a Corvette Stingray front end onto the back half of a Toyota Camry plastic model, doesn’t mean it would work with the real cars! (Not to mention being ugly as sin.)

      1. Doesn’t upset anyone who counts. Those who don’t count frequently get upset quite frequently by the abuse to keep them from doing what other people don’t want to them to do and make them do what they don’t want but other people do.

    3. Obama’s definition of sin is a terrible definition for more than that reason, of course. The classic Christian definition is being out of alignment with God’s values. I.e., with an external source of values that does not depend on your opinion, and will not change those values no matter how much you might want those values changed. If your only definition of “sin” is an internal source of values that you can choose to change, that doesn’t hold you back from any evil thing that you decide you want to do.

      1. Narcissicists tend to view themselves as God. In that light, Obama’s definition (internal) is entirely consistent with the Christian definition (external). Similarly, disagreement with Obama is the equivalent of heresy
        (hence the many ‘moral arc of the universe’, ‘wrong side of history’ comments during his 8 years in office).

  5. Via Ann Althouse comments:

    Anne Cacioppo said…

    Thirteen years ago, I happened to be at my folks for New Years. Both my Dad and my significant other were asleep in couches and Mom and I were sitting drinking and gossiping. The subject of resolutions came up and somehow we decided we were going to do a good deed at least once every day for a year.

    It seemed so much better than depriving ourselves of something or quitting something or losing weight or whatever. It could be as simple as letting someone ahead of us in traffic, helping a person find the right aisle in the grocery or even being nice to a telemarketer.

    My Mom passed away that year. I have done a good deed every day since, for the last thirteen years. And every time I do, I think of her.

    Of course, to be truly effective you probably need to be sure to do one net good deed daily, as some folk will take their daily good deed as license to do any number of awful things … and some folk will do awful things claiming they are good deeds.

    But as New Years Resolutions go, you could make worse.

    1. It’s a bit habit forming, but the idea itself a nice one. Even small niceties brighten up another person’s day, and who knows, it might be the thing that will make that person’s day considerably brighter.

      Someone asked me if I knew the location of a thing they were looking for. I had a guess and off they went. The lady came back afterward and thanked me, because they’d found the thing. I was surprised because it was across a very large building, being a Costco, and my location and the location of the thing were on opposite sides of the said Costco, and that she made the effort surprised me. It had me smiling for a long while afterward.

      1. As ye sow, eh? One of the goodest of deeds we can do is the expression of gratitude, something which costs us little and benefits the recipient greatly.

        Unsurprisingly, I have noted numerous columns around the web this last week or so on the benefits to be gained from that small virtue. It is also largely unpracticed on the Left; such expressions there tend to be in the form of investments in calling upon future favours (e.g., the politician’s thanking of supporters as means to keep them on the sucker donor list.)

        1. 2 of the four most important words to learn when learning any language, “Please” and “Thank you”. (“Yes” and “No” are the first two.)

          1. I’ve been making a point of “please” and “thank you” in ordinary transactions. “Twenty on Pump 6, please” originally took the people at the gas station aback; now they recognize me and say hello when I walk in.

            A small thing, but sort of nice.

        2. Kindness out of nowhere can be fantastically powerful. I stuck out an extra month of severe depression because *one stocker* at the grocery store complimented the way I interacted with then-baby Kid. I try to do something similar when the opportunity presents itself; it might be more helpful than I know, and often it’s *fun*.

    2. As Anne Herbert said, “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty”. Not a bad rule for life.

    3. Sounds like my Driving Penance.

      That consists of: on long, nasty drives, make a conscious effort to be extremely nice to other traffic. (safety first, of course, but that only removes a few opportunities– Good comes before Nice)

      You realize that the pickup next to you is trying to get over? Slow down a bit so they can get in.
      Observe MORE than the legal following distance when that doesn’t cause a serious risk. (Yes, I know that mere safe following distances tend to increase the chance of accidents in a lot of city driving, because of the kamikaze psycho “I can fit there” SOBs.)
      Make sure to get MORE than far enough ahead of a truck before pulling in– especially if they have a heavy load or are going up a hill.
      Make a big effort to keep as far right as reasonably possible. It’s not like changing lanes is THAT hard.


      1. Hard to observe more than the legal following distance when the bugger is going 10 miles an hour under the speed limit, and passing opportunities are few and far between.

        1. I didn’t say it was easy, ‘s kind of the point….

          And don’t get me started on the guys who are in the fast lane, going ten under, and the guy in the slow lane going FIVE under matches them for six miles. That is one of the situations where if I get in it, I break it up. It’s amazing how the five-under guy suddenly goes 15 over when a vehicle gets past them.

  6. Rules. Social grease. The things that make humanity and civilizations flourish. Smiling when you would rather be screaming invectives at someone. Walking away because you are too angry to actually deal with someone. Dealing with people honestly. Keeping your Word. Raising your children to hold to their own honor as well as yours. Obeying laws written and unwritten. Understanding that restraint can be as much as a virtue as many of the other virtues. Knowing that so-called leftist virtues are anything but.

  7. The left has even more in common with the pre-Luther church as well.

    Given the number of true hypocrites in their number and their veneration of concepts that are supposed to be iron-clad science despite being grounded in cooked numbers and making the ones running the organizations rich, many of their favorite charities are their version of “Indulgences”.

    One can only hope that society can tough it out until one of their number that’s actually honest to their convictions and can sway enough of the sheep can hammer their equivalent of the Theses into the door of progressiveism

    Though if the 1500s-1600s are any indication, the carnage afterward will probably be very ugly indeed.

    1. The Luther of socialism was Marx. He is the one most responsible for helping to make a relatively harmless heresy of Christianity into the malignant evil it is today.

      Modern socialism wildly overpromises results, and suggests that any means are appropriate if it will bring about their New Jerusalem. These are the features that make peace with socialists unlikely, and are part of why the communists cannot even be at peace with other communists. You probably could not reform them away without gutting the faiths of anything that would attract believers.

      1. One thing about cargo cults is that everyone has to wholeheartedly participate, or the rituals don’t work.
        The Marxist cargo cult often has the full power of an industrialized state on hand, so they can be more efficient at ferreting out the unbelievers, wreckers, and so on.
        Which is why the only thing they seem to produce in abundance is oppression, gulags, and the rest.

        1. Maybe an Anti-Luther. But Socialism existed well before Marx wrote, and was fundamentally different afterwards. Depending on your model of Islam as a Christian heresy, Mohammed is defensible. But few enough subscribe to such models that Luther is perhaps a better way to reach a wider audience.

          1. What I’m looking at is: founders who were more than a bit out of plumb, claiming to be prophets of the better way, maliciousness towards others, wanting control of everything, followers who would destroy everything if they are not controlling things, etc
            But then again, like all such comparisons, there are more divergences than similarities in the situations.

        2. Thanks. As far as I know, Marx created nothing of any value, but even from the Catholic perspective, wherein Luther is the Persian chap, wossname, who destroyed Israel, and dragged all the Jews off into slavery, her still wrote some FINE music.

          (I got to sing “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” this Christmas! Woot!)

    2. Nonsense. One can obtain an indulgence solely after repentance. That doesn’t mean you can’t commit the sin again, but it does mean that you must sincerely intend to try to avoid it.

      As for preemptive indulgences — forget it!

      1. What is official doctrine is one thing; what was actually done was another. By Roman Catholic doctrine, indulgences are for sins already forgiven, thus are applicable only to purgatory. During the period of abuse, you had pardoners running around selling indulgences to raise money, and they were promising things including salvation from eternal damnation. That’s not Roman Catholic doctrine, but they were doing it. And there were some in the Church quite content with that. No, they weren’t supposed to be doing that, but they were.

        There was – and still is – another problem that exists but is outside of any Christian denomination’s doctrine. In practice it’s not uncommon for someone to seek forgiveness with no intent of repentance. That’s not Roman Catholic or any churches’ doctrine, but it exists. And that leads to the terribly wrong idea that you can willfully sin, then go to church/ to confessional/ do penance, and get squared away, all with no repentance at all. Please note that this is endemic among some who attend churches of all denominations and not just the Roman Catholic.

        Basically, regardless of doctrines, you will always have scum that look at the financial aspects. Look through the Epistles and you’ll see hints that some not of the church was doing just that in the 1st Century. And it can and does creep into churches themselves because people. I can’t remember if it was Roman Catholic or Anglican Bishops or both who were the landlords of several bawdy houses in England, but it happened.

        1. There was – and still is – another problem that exists but is outside of any Christian denomination’s doctrine. In practice it’s not uncommon for someone to seek forgiveness with no intent of repentance. That’s not Roman Catholic or any churches’ doctrine, but it exists..

          Oh, gad, the “you have to forgive me or you’re evil” scam.

          Good heavens, if Jesus Christ Himself won’t forgive you without repentance, WHY DO YOU THINK I WILL?!?!

          (generally then gets conflated with hating the person, and wishing to inflict vengeance on the person, and theoretical damage to me– but oddly, never any of the issues from forgiving someone who sees nothing wrong with what they did and will do it again)

          1. One of the things to keep in mind about repentance is that a refusal to repent is saying “I’ve done no wrong.”

            The other … well, I was going to say that we offer forgiveness to others, but it’s up to the other person to repent and accept. Then I thought about Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness on the cross. We could look at it as though they didn’t know what they were doing, but still …

            1. It’s offered, but until it’s accepted, it can’t be given. (Again, though, that’s not related to vengeance!)

              And He did flatly say they had no idea, which is different than sin– there’s even one saint whose whole thing is that he did figure out what they’d done….

              Dang it, now I want to go look up the exact phrasing of that prayer, to see what fine meaning I might be missing, too. There is that whole ‘why have you abandoned me’ part that is a direct quote from the OT, and which everybody watching would’ve understood the allusion…..

          1. Hints? It’s straight-up history. Simony goes back to the 1st Century, and was condemned from the start. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t done. Chaucer had a field day with it by having the pardoner sell fake relics.

            The important thing is drawing a distinction between what doctrine says and what people do, because they are not always the same. That would be like condemning the US Constitution because politicians who swear to uphold and protect it don’t.

    1. The left doesn’t consider those “good” Every time I do a post on space, one of the pustules on the rear of western civilization comes to admonish me that we can’t go to space “until we’ve solved all the problems here at home.” Cathedrals they might be, but not theirs.

      1. They’re commies, and are constantly revising their list of saints. Piety yesterday is blasphemy tomorrow. They cannot live at peace, even with icons they had formerly enshrined.

      2. Reminds me of a story, most likely in ANALOG (coulda been in Astounding) where aliens landed, looked around, told us that as long as we kept trying to fix every problem on Earth first, we’d never get into space.

        1. There is also an old SF story (‘Ambition,’ by William Bade) in which a present-day (1952) scientist working on space travel finds that he has somehow been brought by time-travel to an era hundreds of years in the future. He is thrilled, because he assumes that the people of the future will have developed space travel to a high degree, and that he will actually be able to fulfill his dream of journeying to the planets. “Somewhere, out there in the night, there must be men who had walked beside the Martian canals and pierced the shining cloud mantle of Venus…Surely, a civilization that had developed time travel could reach the stars!”

          And he finds that the future civilization indeed has created vehicles that would easily be capable of such exploration…but they are used only as super-airliners. Nobody has any interest in traveling into space, indeed, they can’t imagine why anyone would want to do such a thing. A sympathetic woman explains to the protagonist that “this is the Age of Man. We are terribly interested in what can be done with people. Our scientists…are studying human rather than nuclear reactions.” There appears to be no thirst for adventure in a form likely to be recognized by a 20th-century man. (Indeed, it seems that the reason the future people chose the protagonist as a research subject is that they found his interest in going to the moon and beyond to be so bizarre as to be worthy of psychological investigation.)

          I discussed the story here:

          1. I hope he steals one of the spaceships and goes back in time, thereby providing a way around that particular future.

      3. Goodman actually *did* seem to view both the cathedrals and the space missions as good things. Here’s an extended quote:

        “To belittle these things is to miss the worldwide public feeling. Eldridge Cleaver and Noam Chomsky have called the event a circus, but this is polemic spite and snobbery. (Apparently, only MIT professors have a right to noble and exciting games.) For a hundred fifty years the Americans have had a propensity to do everything, good, bad, or indifferent, in a glare of publicity and coverage; and indeed the Moon stories were rather sweet. Some scientists have said that to send up a package of instruments was all that was necessary; but they don’t understand that we are excited by a new horizon for ourselves, not a me of data; and I don’t believe-or don’t want to believe-that cold calculations are as good as our experience, however naive. Again, I don’t think that the economic priority has been so bad as the radicals say. The cost amounted to less than %% of the G.N.P., and these are our cathedrals-in advanced countries, science and scientific technology have been the dominant religion for a hundred years (sometimes diabolic). We ought to see to it that everybody lives well, but a part of living well is blowing money you can’t “afford” on big excitement,
        curiosity, a better level of chatter. Why do some radicals lose their common sense when they talk politics? To tell a child or a man that he mustn’t have ice cream or liquor because there are starving Armenians is to be so “serious” as to deserve to be taken seriously. And when it is a matter like space-exploration that embodies so many ideals and even human imperatives, to be cold to it is to be taken as not for real or even immoral.”

  8. I don’t have kids myself but my sister is single mom of two teenagers and I see them most days because I am their babysitter until their mom gets home from work. I have got to know their friends, and parents at school gate and birthday parties, and I am convinced the “no frustration raising” parents are raising narcissistic children and it’s not healthy. My sister wants her kids to be raised to know that life isn’t fair, nor should people expect it to be, and that you have to get on with life regardless of your feelings.

    How parents handle their three year old having temper tantrum is hugely important to future character – there is big difference between kids who have indulgent parents and those who’s parents told them to ‘suck it up, buttercup’ and ignore their child’s pleas about how life not fair.

    1. Ah, the ‘let them act naturally’ school of parenting. All of its adherents should benrequired to watch several hours of footage of ‘natural’ interaction among, say, baboons.

  9. The people screaming socialist platitudes the loudest currently, specifically AntiFa (who seems to be rapidly fading), well…

    A significant portion of the time when one of them actually gets arrested, mommy and daddy suddenly show up with a lawyer. They aren’t just solidly middle class, most of them are *upper* middle class.

    1. The ones with the free time to consider how good it would be with everyone else’s money tend to be the ones with copious free time. Not the schmuck working 2 jobs to stay alive since can only get 28 he’s at each job. He’ll be the excuse and their bhoneyed words may get his attention but not the foot soldier at first.

      1. yep, but i knew the ‘only getting 28 scheduled hours at work’ was going to happen because it already happened in VA when they made a ‘must supply health benefits for full time workers – over 30 hours’ law 20 years before Obamacare was a thing. When that originally went in i was literally working at mcdonalds and everyone working with me thought it was going to be awesome and i was like ” uh, no, it just means we won’t get more than 30 hours anymore.”

        1. But the ones pushing all the merde don’t care. They get to feel virtuous even though the actual outcome was not what intended. The schmuck may buy into their garbage but he isn’t in the driver’s seat. He’s is merely the excuse.

    2. The ones who are being paid by Soros and friends are sometimes a little lower down on the economic ladder, but sorting out paid protesters from mere deluded lefitsts is an exercise I shall leave for others.

    3. Returning to its roots as a nuisance, still able to flare up again. I suspect most remain convinced that a woman was murdered in Charlottesville — and are not so far gone that they believe Mommy and Daddy’s lawyer can spring them from the grave.

      1. I’m just fine with them dying out just like OWS before them. the alternative in this case is not agreeable.

      2. It’s not even just that conviction that she was murdered but that it was just like if they had lynched her in a mob. As opposed to a car running into a crowd. Plus the complete non-acceptance that anyone not wielding a baseball bat and mask with hammer and sickle could be nonevil.

    4. “mommy and daddy suddenly show up with a lawyer. They aren’t just solidly middle class, most of them are *upper* middle class.”

      I’m afraid that’s one of the major problems. Children born with a silver spoon, who end up being given everything except just enough but not too much parenting. They think the world revolves around them.

  10. As I see, there are three major moralities competing for adherents in our culture. Those of the Christian, Socialist and Communist faiths.

    The Communists have deeply engrained the need to always be current with The Party’s current “Truth”. This is because of its history as the state cult of the USSR. There may be people suited to that. Being rigid, slow, and unobservant, I am not one of them. I know that under communist morality, I can only lose.

    Modern socialism is Marx’s mystical experiences thinly disguised as science. My emotional baggage from childhood makes me extremely reluctant to deeply invest in someone else’s headcasery.

    The next alternative is no morality. I happen to know that the basic sales pitches of socialism and communism appeal to assumptions about right and wrong, and human value that are not universal. If I pick no morality, socialism and communism have no real way to hook me. I explicitly prefer no morality over socialist morality and communist morality. I have practical objections to no morality, and it simply is not to my personal taste.

    I picked Christian morality when I was much younger. I’d note that I don’t have a solid grounding in the theology, and probably don’t understand Christian morality very well. I’m likely to stick with it from stubbornness, if nothing else. That said, sticking with it does not mean that I am effective in practicing the morality or the faith.

    The socialists and communists tell me that Christian morality is immoral. The consequence of coercing me into abandoning Christian morality is that I no longer have any principled reason not to murder communists and socialists to the best of my ability.

    It isn’t surprising to see alt-Right and Neo-Nazis ideas prosper in this environment. The left is ever more obviously bankrupt, Many people have never had any serious exposure to the genuinely conservative ideas that otherwise are obviously more correct.

    1. I will simply point out that a Socialist is a Communist is a Fascist is a Nazi. There are degrees of fervor in each ‘brand’, but all are bullies who want to push other people around, and if left unopposed that pushing inevitably ends in gulags, logais, and ovens.

      1. I was amused when the “journalist” went to a nazi/white supremacist meeting and found much of what they espoused to be compelling. Why, they want Gov’t run healthcare, and all kinds of “good things” she had long advocated for.

          1. just that
            The journo wants to use it to generate votes by deciding who is deserving via SJW (double)standards, and the WS wants to limit who gets it by race.

            1. Sadly the WS at least can point back to tribal and familial great to show their ideas are possible. Complete and utter fallacy of scale up but more than the socialist fairy tales

        1. They’re oblivious. Just like Bernie Sanders when he stressed that he wasn’t an *inter*national socialist.

    2. “No morality” can be summarized as a state of complete selfishness; the law of the jungle. That’s not to my taste either, although I’d prefer it to the taste of a socialist tyranny.

      1. One leads to the other. L. Sprague de Camp talked about how “every man for himself” was viewed in Eastern countries. Periods where that was the general were referred to as “the time of the fishes”–as in, feeding frenzy. When a strongman showed up who actually might be able to make the other strongmen toe a line, the commoners would rush to unite behind him, desperate for some kind of order. Any kind of order. At whatever price.

        The freedom this country stands for is a delicate, non-stable balance, and only works as long as our reaction to chaos is to help each other without demanding concessions in advance–and turning our backs (or worse) on anyone who doesn’t.

        Which is why everyone on the left who isn’t pushing servility as the price of safety is pushing chaos. And why both groups are mocking the morality that says both of them are wrong.

  11. One way I have seen others address the broad theme is that the rich (who are inevitably the ones advocating for the anti-civilization ‘rules’) can afford those vices, but the middle-class and the poor cannot. But the rich keep insisting that it will be alright and we should let go our bourgeois conventions.

  12. Anyone have any suggestions for current research topics in aerospace or mechanical engineering? Anything that may be of interest?

      1. Two of those seem more beyond bleeding edge physics than even intractable /engineering/ problems. I’ve very little interest in physics that hasn’t been demonstrated thoroughly in the lab. And I don’t believe in perpetual motion machines of the first or second kind.

        I don’t think I ever got to the stage of following the current state of research, and I’ve recently developed a strong interest. One of my nice but not essential goals is getting up to speed quickly.

        There’s a lot of in progress work, documented in journals, that does not require fundamental breakthroughs and has not yet been finished. I don’t have a good map of that territory. ‘Here there be dragons” or “the place exists called…” could be quite helpful.

        Like the paper some folks at a NASA lab and some place called ATA put out a few years ago about a vibration based measurement technique for estimating moment of inertia. I haven’t yet learned enough to really evaluate that, but it strikes my interest.


        1. E-M drive has a lot of high tech garage builders attempting to duplicate the concept and provide a working prototype.

        1. meaning that the control surfaces are not segmented from the wing, not that the wings bend in flight.

            1. except, not made of wood and cloth.

              which i guess you technically could count as composite construction…

              1. There have been periodic experiments since the 1950s, using slots with bypass air from the engines. Which mostly worked fine, as far as changing the lift characteristics of the airfoils.

                The problem is that the ailerons are usually part of the flap system, and flaps are sort of handy for not running off the end of the runway. So getting rid of the ailerons turned out not to be all that useful.

                1. they also did an experiment with multi-section airfoils in the 80s using an F-111. But these are apparently going to be flexible composite airfoils with seamless control surfaces

      1. Thanks for the tip. I’m generally not much of a composites guy. If they do go with that design, it sounds like it might have some pretty interesting aging problems.

    1. A Space Tug. A practical, reliable engine that can move things from LEO to escape velocity. Reusable, refuel-able with something either brought from Earth or manufactured in space. Low impulse is OK, once in space it never lands again.

      1. Assuming you solve the nozzle eroson problem satisfactory, the engine is only a piece of the problem. You still need to boost vast quantities of fuel and oxidizer into orbit. Most of them require storage under pressure, storage at cryogenic temperatures, are nastily corrosive, or some combination thereof.

        We’re still stuck with the same technology we had half a century ago, and by the same limiting factors: it’s expensive, and nobody wants to pay for it. If funds become available and mice haven’t colonized the blueprint rooms, all the contractors will have to do is dig out crackly old drawings by men most likely no longer among the living, digitize them, and email them to the subcontractors.

    2. Energy storage, though that’s a related field and not specific to aero/mech eng. Crack the energy storage (energy density per kg) problem, and all sorts of stuff opens up.

      Aerospace and mech together? Asteroid capture, zero-gee manufacturing (ore processing from mining asteroids), practical high orbit habitats (limit rad exposure, need some self propulsion to keep orbit stable), what Pam said, hybrid engines (already in process with several companies), spacecraft design for multiple vector stresses (we’re too focused on gravity and air pressure designs, still), moon based industry (deal with dust, rads, and still be practical and durable), and… er, I think I’ll stop there before I run out of obvious stuff that everybody’s probably already thought of. *chuckle*

      1. Energy storage is the big game changer right now. Solves a ton of the issues with “green” tech and means more oil for other uses.

        1. Absolutely correct. And so very many cool things, like powering prosthetics, drones, deep space probes, microelectronics, home energy storage (off grid or just backup power), and on to all those things not thought of yet, like implant tech, etc…

      2. Re: Habs. Noticed a new-to-me problem with the O’Niell Island 3 design earlier this evening. If I understand correctly, the shape and the spin axis should make for a worse stability situation as far as required control costs are concerned. Thanks.

    3. Materials sciences dealing with extreme states of matter. It seems that the most promising means of achieving FTL travel may involve superconductors, electromagnetic generation of gravitational fields. (Extended Heim Theory, generation of a Alcubierre bubble, etc.)
      If you can create a more efficient nuclear power generator that can’t be converted into a bomb, or produce as much radioactive waste, that would also be a good area to get into.

      1. Nuclear power generation is probably a better fit for my long term list than my short term right away list. That said, I hear that a lot of the issues have better solutions that we can’t put into practice for political reasons. Thanks.

        1. I noticed this at Instapundit t’other day:

          POWER, UNLIMITED POWER: Game changing nuclear molten salt reactor will be cheaper than natural gas.

          Natural gas and coal remain the most cost-competitive sources of energy for industrial heat and electric power provision, with natural gas becoming increasingly important. Fossil-fuel dominance will continue as long as there is no alternative dispatchable, reliable, versatile energy source that is more cost-competitive. In North America, Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) power generation is now the preferred new-build power plant because of its low costs, and because of currently low North American natural gas prices, a product of fracking innovations.

          IMSR® power plants are far simpler to build and operate than conventional nuclear power plants. They cost less than USD $1 billion, can be built within 4 years with much lower project risk, and can be financed by ordinary means.


          ThorCon is designed to bring shipyard quality and productivity to fission power. But ThorCon’s structure is far simpler and much more repetitive than a ship’s. The silo hall employs concrete-filled, steel plate, sandwich walls. This results in a strong, air-tight, ductile building. A 1 GWe ThorCon requires about 18,000 tons of steel for the fission island, all simple flat plate. A properly implemented panel line will be able to produce these blocks using less than 2 man-hours per ton of steel.

          Similarly, all the other components will be manufactured on an assembly line and delivered to the site as fully outfitted and pre-tested blocks. Each power module will require a total of 31 blocks. Upon arrival at the site, the blocks will be dropped into place and the wall and roof blocks welded together using the automatic hull welding machines the yards have developed for this purpose. The wall cells will then be filled with concrete. Almost no form work is required.

          To make the system work we must have big blocks — blocks that are far larger than can be transported by truck or rail. ThorCon blocks are up to 23 meters wide and 40 meters long. Such blocks can be barged well up most major rivers, including the St. Lawrence and into the Great Lakes.

          A 1 GWe ThorCon is so small that the fission island almost fits into two center tanks of the Hellespont Metropolis, and requires one fourth as much steel. This steel requirement is roughly equivalent to a medium size, Suezmax tanker.

          The Suezmax can move herself at 15 knots, survive a hurricane, and discharge her cargo in about a day. A good shipyard can profitably build a Suezmax for 60 million dollars.

          A big shipyard can turn out 100 of these ships a year. It could easily manufacture 100 one GWe ThorCons per year.

          Faster, please.

          Posted at 2:11 pm by Stephen Green

    4. For studies or for expansion of knowledge. Aeroelasticity, composite repair and similar, manufacturing methods, and anything to lighten weight.

      Mechanical be a lot of stuff trying to increase efficiency in power systems or the like.

      Can’t speak too much to it, I work on the Aerospace side and we just hit our heads against desk when dealing with mech groups.

      1. Ideally, expanding knowledge. But for the short term, which I’m planning for, I may at best have a novel literature review. If it is merely new to me, I will at least show I’ve learned something.

        Thank you.

  13. “But I think we’re living in a time of unique lack of codification. Which isn’t of course. There are rules, but they change suddenly and no one tells you.”

    I’ve had some some thoughts on this lately. Those thoughts keep turning back to 19th century sociologist Emile Durkheim’s concept of anomie.

  14. The lefty rants are vast cathedrals built of intellectual poo. They stink up the air, and collapse in on themselves, leaving nothing but excrement in their wake.

    And it’s not cured, either, so it burns everything it touches.

  15. Thanks for giving me the jumping-off place for a blog post that had been hanging fire for ages, that I’d started several times only to discard in dissatisfaction. A post on the problem of boundaries and why we need them. Because throwing out all the old social furniture just because some people got hurt on it doesn’t solve the problem, and is apt to make things worse. How I can’t figure out how to set up a new system that avoids the problems of the old, but if we don’t have something soon, we may see the worst of the old slammed back onto us, hard.

    The autism angle is interesting, and really broader than can be covered in a blog comment. But I have a gut sense that while the loosening of boundaries has been hard on those on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, people who probably wouldn’t have even received a diagnosis in earlier ages, there’s something else going on with the increase in the more severe forms of ASD. Some of it can be accounted for by better diagnosis of individuals who formerly received a dx of childhood schizophrenia or mental retardation. But I think there’s an actual increase in the incidence of severe ASD, and it is likely to be related to changes in society such that people with high-functioning ASD enjoy more economic success, and thus have more of a chance to marry and have children.

    1. For the very well functioning side of it, this is likely true– I’ve mentioned here before that one of my kids’ buddies is devoted to them because they treat him “like he’s normal,” in his mom’s phrasing.

      Do a quick one-over of my family, my husband’s family, my husband’s co-workers… he IS normal. A little on the far side of normal, but he is willing to be enthusiastic when he likes something, he will tell the truth even if you won’t like it when directly asked, he has a sort of “traditional religion is a good thing” background…totally normal for the circle of folks we are around. (My husband was agnostic when we married– THAT is the level of “traditional religion is good, even if I don’t follow it” that is decently normal. No, I didn’t nag him at any point, or even geek out any more than I had before we ever dated.)

      1. > he will tell the truth even if you won’t like it when directly asked

        It’s amazing how quickly people learn not to ask me certain types of questions…

        It’s not that I’m rude, it’s that I feel it’s impolite to phrase a question in such a way as to try to make the respondent say something that’s not true.

    2. Oh, and a note on how old this change would be– my grandmother and grandfather, on opposite sides of the family, would have probably been diagnosed as “on the spectrum” today. I’m 90% sure the grandfather’s mother was, but it can be hard to tell that from basic “this NEEDS to be done, so I am going to do it, you can go piss in the fire with your disapproval” type attitude.

      1. > in the spectrum

        The DSM keeps tightening the screws. What used to be mildly eccentric is now a diagnosable disorder.

        They’re going to keep on cranking it down, you know.

        1. They have to– they removed “oh, Joe? He’s a bit odd, but a decent guy” from the realm of descriptions.

          NORMAL people still use it, but they can’t.

          Kind of like how the totally sane reaction of being terrified to speak around people because they might flip out in a full SJW kaboom and/or having mature interactions with adults you do not wish to have sex with at this moment because they are liable to think a friendly smile is a proposition, is now called “social anxiety.”

    3. Any time I read something similar to “boundaries and why we need them.” I think of Chesterton’s fence. Which I first heard about a while back in comments on this very blog.

      I used to refer to long standing rules as “Wisdom of the ages” which apparently means to many that they’re worthless in modern society. I’ve listened to many a person who defended Bill Clinton and his behavior because it was just about sex, who would be with a divorce attorney if it were their spouse discovered cheating through a stained blue dress. Or by any other means.

  16. As a child growing up on a farm, rules were VERY strict. Don’t touch the electric fence is a good example. You ignore that at your own risk. The rules scale rapidly. Don’t go out to bring in the cows without a stick in case of snakes. That’s a big one. Dont wear loose clothes around the PTO shaft. Also. Don’t bug the bull in his pen. VERY important.

    So when I’m exposed to rules outside of the farm now that I’ve grown up, I have much more respect for them.

    1. And pretty much all of these transfer to city life. Have a jack and tire (screw you Chev), don’t flash cash, know the ‘bad areas’.

      Hell, when I started with one of my early departments we had just buried a toddler whose jacket got wrapped in a snowblower. Same as a PTO. Reason I will not wear my badge on lanyard.

  17. “Yes, this is very bad for neuro atypical people out there. Honestly, I think our plague of autistic spectrum disorders is mostly because our society is faux-unstructured. I suspect only about half the people can actually intuit the rules from things never said. The other half stumble around desperately looking for the rules, or give up on socializing in disgust.”

    Agree 100%. The modern workplace is a minefield. There -are- rules, iron-clad ones. But they are not written, and they change periodically. The actual rules usually differ considerably from the stated rules, so if an employee goes “by the book” failure is usually guaranteed.

    Some people seem able to surf their way through this type of thing without ever hitting the pier. They certainly seem to be able to see things that your computer-nerd/gearhead/craftsman types just don’t. We do not see that shit.

    However, it seems likely that this is a self-limiting problem in business. The neuro-typical people are good at surfing the socialness. But while they excel at the schmoozing, their technical capabilities are insufficient. They need nerds a lot more than nerds need them.

    Mr. and Ms. Charming look good in those suits, but unaided they can’t pour piss out of a boot with instructions on the heel.

    1. There -are- rules, iron-clad ones. But they are not written, and they change periodically.

      I believe that these are the same rules as those governing playing of Calvinball, but that may be (thus far) limited to college campuses.

    2. Oh, I wish I could remember where I read it– some big newspaper had an article on basically “golly it’s so hard to get good hires these days, just no tech guys to be found” and at the bottom was this AMAZING realization– if they increase “neuro-diversity,” they were able to get a TON of tech guys!

      In English: when they hired the weird kids who actually like computers, the computers work.

      1. I saw that article, can’t remember where either. Large companies routinely screen OUT nerds from their HR stream. This is like excluding guys who can run from the football team because you’re looking for knitting skillz.

        Truly hilarious watching Silicon Valley doing this now, because they can’t allow Nerd Racism in their hallowed halls.

        Nerd Racism is that thing where some “neuro-diverse” problem solving genius disagrees with the Human Resources Barbies and their program for increasing social justice. Such as, solar panels for running server farms. Nerds get fired for laughing when HR Barbie wants to run everything off solar. Barbie does not find it helpful when geek boy (or girl) asks them earnestly “But what are you going to do when it gets dark?”

        That’s literally what they did to that Damore kid at Google. Its what they always do. Ever wonder why tech services etc. flat-out suck at some companies, that’s why. HR Barbie is doing it.

        1. I have literally read someone professing that the problem with America is that the nerds aren’t bullied enough. If they had been shoved into their lockers more, they wouldn’t be achieving such preeminence, which is the rightful domain of people who get liberal arts degrees.

      2. Insert my usual neurodiverse-is-a-crock rant about it being used to deliberately conflate autistic spectrum with other mental disorders (such as schizo or mood) with lgbtetc. Though, ‘gay kids are bullied from young’ and ‘autistic kids are bullied from young’ does seem to raise the possibility that autistic youngsters are read as gay by the more predatory lgbt types, abused, and due to that abuse self evaluate a false positive of lgbt.

          1. Yeah, but there is a range of possibilities. If we insist on categorizing LGB issues with the mental illnesses, they are sexual targeting disorders. There’s a difference between ‘most sexual targeting disorder diagnoses are largely correct’ and ‘most sexual targeting disorder diagnoses are incorrect, and the common “prescriptions” are not therapeutic for the actual problem’. Not clear what the truth is. Though I find ‘gross malpractice’ more plausible as an explanation for elevated rates of drug use and suicide than ‘societal oppression’. But that may simply be my anti-communism talking.

            1. I’d guess it’s more massive unhappiness. I guess that goes with your option one, but….

              It’s like the mental health issues after abortion; the women are told that they’re not allowed to be upset, and are lied to about the one group that will let them be upset, so they’ve got nowhere to go.
              If even a fraction are wrong, that’s going to be a massive problem.

    3. It goes back to something that one of iirc Sarah’s CoBs brought up. It’s a blank, unmarked tile floor. You can never see what square will get you in trouble and they change.

      Some people can charm around but many just run straight accross

      1. After about Grade 7 I’d step on every goddamn tile to be sure and hit the “bad” one, and dare the f-ers to come for me. Ghod I hated school. 😡

  18. “Cathedrals of intellectual poo.”


    So glad you’ve managed to get an Author Gets Paid gig for your essays. So grateful your work ethic gives us this blog. Thank you.

    1. Not just Sarah’s work ethic. I think she has a calling to fight the good fight against creeping tyranny with her best weapons: language, reason, and experience.

  19. Hey! Where’d these come from?

    Nobody Expects These Predictions
    By Sarah Hoyt
    I don’t come from the future, I only work there.

    Or to put it another way, I spend a lot of my time thinking of where current events and current trends will lead in the future.

    Mind you, that future is usually 500 or so years in the future, and I’m also likely to succumb to the rule of cool. I don’t really expect them to have antigrav wands, but come on, guys, gangs of broomers roaming the skies? Perfect for cool stories, even if I wouldn’t want to live there.

    Nearer term, and where you can be disproven, making predictions is risky. Or as the professor has been known to say, “making predictions is difficult, particularly about the future.”

    So, take this with a grain of salt. …

    1. Oops. Shoulda woulda coulda put this up on the Sunday blog post. My bad.

      So, here is a genuine prediction: I predict that instead of giving HR more power, this will give companies pause before hiring women, which will lead to a lot of decent and qualified women being left unemployed.

      The second-order effect of that, for companies that can’t avoid hiring women, is two-fold: they’ll either hire women to “make-believe” positions, in which they interact only or primarily with other women, creating a drain on the bottom line, or they will allow a lot more work-at-home by both men and women. I predict we’ll see a great move towards that in the next year. Sure, it’s still possible to claim someone is harassing you via the phone, but one-party consent states at least will allow men to record everything in order to defend themselves.

      One other factor — more companies outsourcing their labor force, using temp agencies to manage their labor pool. MUCH easier to terminate an employee who is a temp. I am not sure how use of temps works to affect qualifications under labor laws, such as minimum wages, required benefits and Obamacare.

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