Breaking the Gears


When I was little, I liked tinkering with mechanisms.  Depending on the age, this sometimes meant I took a perfectly good wind-up toy and did things that made it act weirdly.  Take the crawling baby doll I opened up and then had some inconvenient pieces left over, and when she crawled again, she’d crawl three steps and lift her leg.  Three steps and lift her leg.  I was young enough I had no clue why the adults thought this was hilarious, btw.

One thing you learn pretty quickly with mechanisms, at least if you are a little kid taking apart something someone else put together, is to be wary of left over gears.  They were doing something before, and it’s highly unlikely that you tinkered with it in such a way that it made it more efficient and special.

Of course, part of the problem in Marxism is its own devoted belief in its own infallibility and scientific qualities.

When the whole point of a political philosophy is the idea that you’re going to reform society in such a way that will make men like unto angels (since all our bad impulses are the result of capitalism and “greed” and “exploitation” once it’s removed we’ll all be perfect.  This was used in the 70s as the basis for maintaining that putting people in mental hospitals in the US was the same as putting people in mental hospitals for political opinions in the USSR, since capitalism caused mental illness.) and install utopia, it’s hard to realize some of the stuff you’re tinkering with is there for a reason.

Perhaps this explains the left’s continued illusion that breaking the feedback mechanism solves the problem.

It’s a curious delusion, because the rest of us learn to love and use the feedback in our fields of endeavor.

I was only ever a jackleg repairman, but I learned not to remove the parts of the mechanism that would alert me something was wrong well before the whole thing, say, over pressurized and blew up.

And in writing feedback is just as important.  I didn’t actually make much progress in my attempts at professional writing until we got a writers’ group.  This is because I had no clue what I was doing.  Rejection letters were sometimes encouraging “definitely send us your next one” but “this doesn’t fit our needs” wasn’t exactly helpful in pinpointing the problems.

BTW in the case of writers’ group, learn to exclude/ignore the consistently and always negative ones, too.  (If you’re diplomatic, without seeming to be ignoring them.)  A feedback system always stuck on “horrible’ is as bad as one stuck on “wonderful.”  You have to assume it’s either the other person’s taste or personal animosity.  There is  reason “the blind leading the blind” is a bad thing.

Feedback is what calls you back to where other people are, when you’re so lost in your interpretation of the world that you don’t see the flaws in it.

It’s what causes you to consider whether your writing is actually understandable to other people; whether your ideas are really working out that wonderfully; whether those extra gears caused the doll not to pause, leg up.

As I said, the left is notorious for trying to get rid of that.  Tests when you apply for a job are now supposedly “racist” leading to the rampant credentialism.  This allows the left-controlled education system to “certify” people as educated and never have to admit they are failing vast swaths of the population.  Instead they use “endemic racism” to explain that.  (In fact, they use this kind of thing to explain everything, without looking at what the education establishment might be doing wrong.)

Gone is the feedback mechanism that tells us that schools are failing and failing harder for minorities.  Instead the left can posture and preen about their wonderful role in the schools.  Of course, the schools are still failing, and now they insist on Bachelors for everyone, in an attempt to teach people things they used to learn by fourth grade.  The control mechanism is broken.  Piling on more “education” will only bankrupt the country and do nothing.

Then take the push-model of book sales.  Long before there was an Amazon, chain bookstores had cozy deals with publishers that sent most indie bookstores (now beloved in effigy by the left) out of business.

And then the left dominated publishing establishment had a brilliant idea.  For decades they’d been trying to forecast failure and success, and failings.  Books they pushed out the wazzoo (A river in Sundon’tshine) died on the vine when bookstores refused to stock them because the owners had read them.  The books they had designated as to be ignored caught someone’s fancy, and suddenly were all over.

This was inefficient.  It caused way too much printing that never got distributed, and much last minute rushed reprinting. (Even leaving aside how often people chose to read the WRONG things, something that started to matter more and more in the last two decades.)

So they came up with the push model.  It was, from a certain perspective brilliant.

That perspective is the one where the real world doesn’t really exist, so you don’t need to hear from it.

Because the managers of the big corporate bookstores ALSO didn’t read, they took instruction beautifully.  So the publishers could say “you’ll take 100 of x and 2 of y” and they DID.

For a little while it worked beautifully, in the sense that there were no surprise bestsellers, (and publishing houses hated those.  I know someone who unexpectedly sold out her print run in a week.  The publishing house took the book out of print.  No, seriously.) and the books that got seen and talked about were picked by the publisher. (BTW this wasn’t even always or primarily political.  Sure, that existed too sometimes, but mostly it was the crazy fads that publishing convinced itself of.  For instance, sometime in the mid two thousands they convinced themselves no one wanted historical mysteries — they weren’t selling, true, probably because they were on NO shelves — but everyone wanted “chick-lit mysteries” that had covers with lots of shoes and dresses and whose plots were “Sex in the City with murder.”  I remember trying to find something to read, giving up and going to the used bookstore (then a hundred miles away in Denver) for my mystery fix.)

Of course, they sold less.  In fact, as time went on and people got out of the habit of going to the bookstore, because there was never anything they could find to read.  I mean, I remember being chased from Science Fiction to Mystery to finally history, to at last the sort of “utility” book you find in the discount bins you know “a chart of history” type of thing just to find something to buy on our bookstore night.

Then we gave up.

Eventually the broken feedback mechanism gave us the demise of Borders — and B & N is not feeling so good itself — and a yawning, desperate chasm in customers’ need for books that meant the way was wide open for Indie and Amazon.  Even the early badly proofed indie books were like a breath of fresh air because for the first time I could read outside the trends being pushed.

But when you’re a peddler of Utopia, you can’t admit you’re wrong or that your methods are crazy.  After all, your cult of Marx (a college-professor friend recently shocked his students by pointing out Marx is a 19th century western idea — born of the mechanical age and the idea you can make everything just so — and that imposing this interpretation on non-Western systems is colonialist) promises eventual paradise and world domination.  You can’t be wrong. It would mean your whole life has been in vain, and everything you’ve been taught is a lie.

The system might have moved the downtrodden from those “exploited” by the industrial revolution, to “minorities” “third world people” and people with interesting colorations — mostly because the “exploited” workers kept rising up in the world and spitting in the eye of Marx, the ungrateful bastages — but it’s totally still true and the way of the future.  Even if it requires conceptualizing a future where no one works and everything is free, since they’ve now tossed the “workers” out of their ideal society.  (Again, ungrateful bastages who don’t know how “good” the intellectuals are for them.)  But it is totally the future!

So all those people who say that it’s still spinach and to hell with it?  They’re just trying to destroy the train of happiness leading to the station of utopia.

Which means they must be silenced.  If they’re just silenced, then the system will work fine, and everyone will be happy and joyful.

So the latest attack is on free speech.  Because free speech can be hurty and say things the left doesn’t want to hear.  Bad bad free speech must be stopped.

They already have laws against “hate speech” or “harassment, which according to a comment here is “saying something I don’t like more than once.”” in most of the world.

The US is holding fast in our unreasonable devotion to the first amendment which irks the left as much as our devotion to the second.  Don’t we understand that bad speech hurts people?  And leads to bad think?

In any institution they control, from companies code of conduct to deplatforming people on twitter, to Google strangling hits to dissenting blogs, etc, they are already silencing that nasty, evil feedback.

Because if only they don’t hear the whistles of rising steam, the engine will never explode.

Cotton stuffed in their ears, they keep feeding more coal to the engine of public opinion and stopping up the steam vents.

The end of this is what happened to Ceausescu and his repulsive wife: “Beloved leader of the morning, pile of cooling, bullet riddled meat in the afternoon.”

But they don’t see it.  They’re convinced if they just stop the feedback, the machine will work fine.

And they’re going to take all of us into the explosion.  Mind you, in the end we win, they lose, but it’s going to get very rough there for a while.

Unfortunately when dealing with true believers, there’s nothing you can do but let them utterly prove their system wrong, before sane people can build again.





236 responses to “Breaking the Gears

  1. I rarely go to B&N anymore. They almost never have anything I want to read. The only time I do go is to see whether they have a new book that I know just came out. Most of my reading material comes from used book stores. Usually SF or mysteries from the 70’s or earlier. Since I average 4 books per week, I need lots of books.

    • Aye, several years ago could wander around and find something new or just happen across something (it’s how I first bought Cooking for Geeks which explains some of the chemistry of cooking & baking – not just ‘this works’ but ‘this is how and why this works’ ahh…) and there were terminals where (potential) customers could look up if a book was available, was in the store, and if so, where it was, all by themselves.

      A couple years later the terminals were gone, the help desk always busy but seldom truly useful, and the books seemed to have been doing a vanishing act. Another year and fewer books still. Finally wound up going to a different B&N (after checking online that a book was available) only to find that ‘available’ meant “we can order that, for a fee.” Well, that sale went to Amazon – the fee was lower, and they sent it where I said to without adding yet another fee.

      If B&N isn’t committing suicide, the Big 6 5… (4 now?) are doing a fine job of killing it.

      • I thought I was going to go to a B&N Friday, for the first time since… um, since I went to a Larry Correia signing 3 or 4 years ago. Turns out I was wrong, and the chain bookstore in the mall was a Books-A-Million.

        I walked in, and asked the teenage-looking clerk if they had any jigsaw puzzles. He looked blank for a moment. “What’s a jigsaw puzzle? Wait, no! I’m overcomplicating this! This way, to the puzzles!”

        They had about half the store dedicated to games, puzzles, toys, and tchotchkes, and about half to books. The SF/F section was, thankfully, still bigger than the jigsaw puzzle section, which was two shelf sections and two spinner racks.

        I nearly picked up some chocolates and some headphones and a cool pen on the way out – it was like a toys-r-us for adults, but book-themed. Pretty cool. Didn’t see any books I was interested in, though. Which doesn’t bode well for me returning, unless I need cool little stocking-stuffer gifts.

      • “The books seemed to have been doing a vanishing act. Another year and fewer books still.”

        This, in my mind, is what really killed B&N. I liked B&N when it was just a big bookstore (honestly, I have no sentimental attachment to the “small, independent bookstores” that barely had any selection). I didn’t care about the push model; it didn’t matter if I didn’t like what they wanted to feature, because the store was big enough that I could just go SF&F or Mystery and find what I wanted on the shelves. Then, they added CDs and movies. Then other stuff. And the “book” part of the store started to shrink. Last one I went in was essentially a Waldenbooks with a Hallmark store and Starbucks attached. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, if you want to be a minimall, but nothing there to attract me either.

        • I remember when the Left was all up in arms over the way the ‘chain stores’ were driving the independent bookstores out of busness, amd after a while I noticed something.

          I was living in Wonderland On the Potomac at the time; LOTS of bookstores. And the ones that had a point of view were doing fine. The Mystery bookstore was,run by people who really knew the genera, amdmcould get you anything in or out of print. There was a Civil War bookstore in Georgetown that showed no sign of flagging. The Technical bookstore was so good that neither themlocal Borders nor the B & N even TRIED to compete, they just sent customers for those books on over.

          The stores that were closing like so many three cent mousetraps? They were the ones that carried whatever had been featured in the New York Review of Books. They didn’t have a point of view. They didn’t know diddly squat about what they carried. Good riddance.

    • I think it’s been a year now since I last set foot in a B&N, and that was to look at what publishing houses were on the shelves. This is sad cause we used to go at least once a month, and buy a lot of books.

      Now everything is bought online, usually at Amazon.

      B&N just killed the nook, by giving it to Kobo (who censors everything that they’re told to). i mean really, why would you turn your business over to someone who is doing WORSE than you were? It’s getting more and more obvious every day that B&N wants out of the book business and I suspect this will be the year that they achieve it.

      Then again, bookstores are becoming a rarity here in California (another reason I’m looking to move out of here in the next 5 to 6 months). Other than B&N, I can’t actually think of another bookstore within a hundred miles of here, the rest were all forced out by all of the insane laws they keep passing here to destroy small businesses.

      • “B&N just killed the nook, by giving it to Kobo (who censors everything that they’re told to). i mean really, why would you turn your business over to someone who is doing WORSE than you were?”

        Well, c$$p. Don’t use a “Nook” but do use the App on a Samsung. Wonder if that is why a lot of books are not available in .epub extensions? Have stuck with B&N online because it is easier to prevent double purchasing of books (as in they warn you, unless it was part of a bundled purchase). Darn it. Now will have to go to multiple “stores” again and track on my own.

        Tracking on my own = remove locks (if needed) and track in Calibre.

        • I’ve got some books on my Nook/in my account that I probably need to figure out how to keep. *sigh*

          • Already been through the disappearing site. To safe guard from books disappearing do the following: 1) Nook for PC or Apple, so when you download, you can physically find them. 2) Get a product like ePubor Ultimate, which is used to strip the lock mechanism (also can be used for Amazon. 3) use Calibre to store/catalog your library (note ePubor also has a library catalog but I could not get it to work. Note Calibre also has instructions on how to strip locks manually, just easier using the ePubor program. Fictionwise and BooksonBoard are two sites that “disappeared”, Fictionwise was bought by B&N. If you were using the same registered email, then Fictionwise purchases were loaded into your B&N account. BooksonBoard just disappeared.

        • Unless something has changed recently, Kobo sells eBooks in .epub though they sometimes have their own ‘enhanced’ versions.

          I still use my Nooks since 1) they still work fine 2) have expandable memory slots 3) don’t like to spend money replacing something that works fine. But actually setting foot in a B&N or buying an eBook through them? Nope, not for a couple of years now. Don’t plan on it either.

          check out Apprentice Alf’s blog for tips and tricks on working with Calibre.

        • Just an fyi, but .epub is the preferred format for e-books on Apple devices, so I don’t see it going away any time soon.
          And in my role as a part time publishing assistant I am gaining an ever increasing appreciation for the abilities of Calibre. Got it simply for format conversions, but it has become indispensable for editing file metadata and generating the various formats required by the different on-line vendors.

      • I was in a B&N maybe two-three years ago? Meeting a publishing client in the coffee shop. Nothing on the shelves tempted me. OTO, Half Price Books is always worth a walk-through. But honestly – mostly my book buying goes to Amazon, and most usually for a slightly-used book.

      • Almost Perfect Books (used, Citrus Heights) went to online-only when they couldn’t keep up with rental costs in the area. And that was maybe the closest thing to a “real” bookstore after Borders and Tower Books closed. (You *are* in the Sacramento area, right? It’s a bookstore desert.)

        B&N hasn’t been a real bookstore in a long time. I went back in the 90s and they had maybe two shelf units of F&SF—most of which I already owned. They have not improved.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      The nearest B&N to me is a 40 minute drive and the last time I was there there was nothing interesting.

      Of course, even before I got hooked on ebooks, I did more ordering on-line for dead-tree books than I did travel to the B&N.

      After all, if the B&N didn’t have it on the shelf, I’d have to order it and no way was I going to come back to the B&N to pick up the book.

      Ordering on-line meant that the book would be shipped to my home. 😉

    • Love used book stores. Can often find out of print, small release books on the cheap that way too.

  2. Ah yes, the results of removing the feedback loop or rigging it so it’s always positive. If very lucky, you only get oscillation. If not so lucky… something breaks spectacularly. Forced all-negative feedback leads to… shutdown – but it seems what gets shut down tends to be part of safety system… so it still ends *BOOM*.

  3. I will simply note that a yuug reason Trump is president is Hillary ignored the feed back. Sometimes things break down in limited, satisfying, ways.

  4. It’s all about the narrative. It substitutes for reality. So of course if they silence any objections that means in their reality it doesn’t exist. Simple, isn’t it?

    • Simple-minded more like. You need to be exquisitely educated to become that dumb.

      • Indeed. It takes a great deal of knowledge theory and study to be able to consistently ignore the Real World™.

        • It took Elwood so long…

        • “Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

          • Hmmm.

            People will fly.
            We can destroy an entire city with a single bomb.
            People will fly faster than the speed of sound.
            People will go to the moon.
            We will have effectively faster than light space travel.
            We will find other non-human people on other worlds.

            4 out of 6 impossible things achieved.
            2 more to go. 😉

            • I would quibble with number 6 as something we can personally overcome. If there are no people to be found, then it really IS impossible, but we won’t know until we go. So perhaps ‘We will go live on other worlds’ would be another impossible thing that is still actually in line with all the others. Number six is rather like saying ‘we will discover the universe runs on jelly doughnuts’. Not so much an impossible thing as a prediction that may or may not have anything to do with reality. (Yes, my answer to the so called Fermi paradox is ‘Why do you assume there have to be aliens?’ I’ve yet to have anyone give me an answer (including the guy who worked at Fermi labs in particle physics) that didn’t amount to ‘if we’re here someone else must be’ and a splutter when I ask ‘why’.)

      • And that’s a cycle we see again and again throughout history.

        In the late 18th century you had to ‘profess’ the Anglican faith to go to the established colleges. One consequence? Some of the best minds of the age (like Joseph Priestley) were not part of the establishment….and the establishment stagnated.

    • Reality has this interesting way of persisting even though they deny it with such fervour.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        The Gods of the Copybook Headings

        AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
        I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
        Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
        And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

        We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
        That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
        But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
        So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

        We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
        Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
        But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
        That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

        With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
        They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
        They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
        So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

        When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
        They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
        But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
        And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

        On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
        (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
        Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
        And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

        In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
        By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
        But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
        And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

        Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
        And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
        That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
        And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

        As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
        There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
        That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
        And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

        And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
        When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
        As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
        The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

        • Ah, we kiple again!


          Jubal and Tubal Cain

          Jubal sang of the Wrath of God
          And the curse of thistle and thorn —
          But Tubal got him a pointed rod,
          And scrabbled the earth for corn.
          Old — old as that early mould,
          Young as the sprouting grain —
          Yearly green is the strife between
          Jubal and Tubal Cain!

          Jubal sang of the new-found sea,
          And the love that its waves divide —
          But Tubal hollowed a fallen tree
          And passed to the further side.
          Black-black as the hurricane-wrack,
          Salt as the under-main-
          Bitter and cold is the hate they hold —
          Jubal and Tubal Cain!

          Jubal sang of the golden years
          When wars and wounds shall cease —
          But Tubal fashioned the hand-flung spears
          And showed his neighbours peace.
          New — new as Nine-point-Two,
          Older than Lamech’s slain —
          Roaring and loud is the feud avowed
          Twix’ Jubal and Tubal Cain!

          Jubal sang of the cliffs that bar
          And the peaks that none may crown —
          But Tubal clambered by jut and scar
          And there he builded a town.
          High-high as the snowsheds lie,
          Low as the culverts drain —
          Wherever they be they can never agree —
          Jubal and Tubal Cain!

  5. If only they didn’t generate so much damage while pricing themselves wrong.

  6. The last time I was in B&N was with my hubby (he’s been dead since 2014) and I didn’t find a single thing to read. He looked at the computer programming books and I drank coffee and read my kindle.

    • “The last time I was in B&N… I drank coffee and read my kindle.”
      [Emphasis mine]
      Says it all, don’t it?

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I’m surprised that B&N let her read her Kindle.

        Obviously, she should have been reading a Nook. 👿

        Note, I currently use a Kindle Fire because of its screen size. 😉

        • I bought a Kindle partly because when my old Nook died, I would have to buy a Samsung to replace it (as a Nook). And I had heard grumblings about how B&N had adulterated it, poorly.

          • Don’t buy a Nook Samsung. Buy the Samsung and download the Nook App; just easier for books purchased through your Nook Account. I also use a Universal Book Reader (specifically UB Reader, about $20 one time, to get rid of ads) for .epub books for sources other than B&N; and the copies I’ve stripped the locks from because I don’t want to loose them at someone else whim. Can also get the Kindle App, so you have both resources; I just haven’t yet, going to have to eventually.

        • I got the Kindle Paperwhite Christmas of ’16. Got a Kindle credit card this time. Got to wondering how much I could put in it, and was told 4 Gigs or about 100 books. Don’t think I’m anywhere close to that.

          • 6 years-ish since going to eBooks. Current Nook app reports 650 books, not archived, does not break down into on device internal storage VS SD. Another 600 archived. Another 100 or so from

            • The newer Kindle Fires are not only huge in GB, but have miniSD slots to keep your books on. Dang, I love the future!

              • I too love the future. Kendal Fire VS Samsung, eh, 6 to 1, 1/2 dozen to another. Samsung at least is less expensive (by a large factor than Apple equivalent). I think Samsung was less expensive than Kendal Fire, but have not looked for 3 or more years; and won’t until the Samsung fails. Know Samsung can have both Nook & Amazon options. How about Fire? Would have gone for Windows Tablet but not really an option; yes, I know, but I KNOW Windows being a programmer, and can manipulate it better. On the other hand not getting into trouble … (and yes, could “learn” to undermine Google OS, retired, and just too lazy).

                • I bought a Kindle Fire straight from Amazon when I was in Bahrain and then bought another from the NEX when I got back. I bought them for the ability to download my TV shows. Streaming is all well and good when you’re in the same place and that place is on land. Out to sea for six or seven months I have to take my entertainment with me. Considering the size (and composition) of the ship’s “library”, I praise the future that gives me Kindles and the like.

                  • Don’t do streaming. Kendal Fire advertised for that. I just wanted something I could use for reading, email, and Facebook lurking (as I post little to nothing), after I retired. That way hubby and I don’t share his laptop except for Quicken. Anytime we are out of range, would be in a position where watching screen and doing would be detrimental to health. Using hardware then is a matter of backing up, going through the days photos in the evening, and crashing after “household chores” (since we take the kitchen sink with us when we travel).

                    • Best thing about Kindle Fire is that it is very inexpensive. Amazon apparently considers it as a loss leader to get it into your hands, in order to sell you more stuff (like books). I hardly use mine for anything but reading, though I do occasionally use it for messaging and looking things up on the Internet when I’m not by a larger computer (I don’t really like the way the small screen limits what I can do – I don’t even like the new laptop I got at work because the screen is a downgrade from the 15.4 inch one my previous laptop had), but $50 for an eBook reader is a pretty good deal to me.

                      Side question: Are you intentionally misspelling ‘Kindle’? No, this is not mockery, other people here can vouch that I am dense at times, when it comes to recognizing things. Is there some meaning to the spelling that I’m missing, or is it just unintentional?

                    • I’m guessing autocorrupt at work.

                    • No. Just lousy speller; spell checker did not whine/underline. Kindle VS Kendal when Kendal is valid name locally (large business).

                    • OK. I was just wondering if I was missing a joke somewhere. Thanks for answering.

                • The kindle fire (basic) is $50. (I got it when my son stepped on my Kobo. 30lbs of toddler… not good.) It’s… adequate… as a tablet. There’s a fair number of apps I’d find useful that I haven’t managed to side load yet, because the Kindle can’t access the Google play story without jumping through some substantial hoops. Getting non-amazon books on it is tricky as well. Less so with Calibre, but you still need to side-load a reader.

                  • Mine lets you read books on the card, or you can upload them to your documents on Amazon.

                    You can also email them, although you have to add the email and pick the right device, and it’s up to you if you want to “Archive” them (add them to your library) or not.

                    • Mine doesn’t unless the app itself stored them there (this is true of most of the Amazon apps on my kindle. They don’t acknowledge the SD card beyond what they, themselves, put there. Which means you can’t put anything there except through them if you want them to talk to it). Transfer an existing library already on an SD card (Like all the Baen and anything I grab from Kobo unless) nope. You have to go through file by file, typically through e-mail, rather than just telling the app ‘here there be books’. It just goes ‘SD card? What SD card?’ It was actually several orders of magnitude easier and much faster to simply sideload an alternative reader (including jumping through the hoops to do that from my phone) than either e-mail myself a couple hundred files. It also won’t let me transfer anything already downloaded to the SD card as far as books are concerned. It allowed it for music, but not books. I’ll note: I’m on a Kindle Fire. The paperwhite may be different.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      I use a Kindle Fire and for reasons I convert my kindle ebooks into epub format.

                      I have a epub reader on my Kindle Fire. Mind you, the reader used to automatically open my epub books but now I have to “ask” the reader to access the epub books.

                    • *gets hyper excited*

                      THERE IS A PROGRAM!!!!


                      Oooh, now I need to use this for mom’s books next time I visit!

                    • Nook Apps on the Samsung, or Windows, is suppose to be able to side load .epub files from other sources so the App recognizes the file. Have not figured it out (and I wrote software!). Can’t be bothered since other free eReading Apps work just as easy. Have a dedicated eReader Nook (2nd generation) where side loading books worked nicely. Mom has that Nook. Allows her to read stuff I buy that I would have passed to her if it had been a physical book (she also has her own for stuff she wants that I don’t buy, my Nook requires my password to buy anything; by choice). I buy a LOT more than she does. Occasionally I have to logout of the Nook device to clear downloaded books, then log in again; not enough room on it for all books. She does not know how to save to SD.

      • When I bought my NST I considered it the best eReader on the market. B&N kept trying to break it with every update they forced out. I eventually just quit connecting it to wifi so it couldn’t update. I think they peaked with the release of the NST. For other reasons I refuse to purchase any more products from B&N, but their last couple of tablets/eReaders have been unimpressive.

        But I haven’t really been all that overly impressed with most other companies eReaders either. Some of the tablets are nice, but I prefer not to read on a tablet. It seems every one has an intentional defect that makes it DOA for me, most often having to do with the amount of memory available for things purchased outside of their walled-gardens. When my NSTs break, it’s going to be a very, very sad day.

    • I’ve been known to go to B&N occasionally over the last few years. Mostly for gifts, and those mostly classics, or reference books. Anything SF/F? Yeah, not so much.

      • I go about mid-January to get great mark-downs on kids toys.
        Books, not so much.
        Besides, I have about 1000 at home I haven’t read yet, some still in the boxes from the library sale 7 years ago.

  7. I’m in an alternate universe where I can still get Baen books from Barnes and Noble stores (and toys, but such interesting toys). The last time I went to their website, I couldn’t find the connection to loads and loads of used bookstores from everywhere; I fear they may have dropped it. And I have BN gift cards to spend after Christmas; I should probably get that Wiersbe commentary set, though I’ll have to kick in some of my own money, but The Beautiful But Evil Space Princess has something coming out in May, plus the anime / Karate Kid / (German word for coming of age) novel that’s out now.

    How do I get relatives to give me “Indie” gift cards for my birthday?

    And could someone please ship in some global warming to NC; it was down to 9 or 10 degrees Fahrenheit at sunrise here this morning. Mind, they do predict 50 F for Monday.

  8. I have a Chapters 4 blocks from my house. We pop in there sometimes, but I’ve been known to make an Amazon order while in the store.

  9. The big bookstore chain here in Canuckistan is Chapters (formerly Coles). I stopped in last year to use a gift card I had been given for Christmas and instead of getting fiction (overpriced for most of the ones I looked at), I ended up getting two resource books (small useless dictionary, and Strunk and White). This past year I told my mom, “Amazon gift card”. I know I can find something I want quickly and easily there rather then the long drive and fruitless searching in a brick and mortar. didn’t used to be that way unfortunately.

  10. You’re more likely to win a steamboat race if you tie down the pressure relief valve; more likely to get killed in an explosion too.

    (Steam kills, people! Check to see if you any seam-welded heavy walled steam pipes in your plant. They probably were replace over the years, but double check. Okay? Good. This has been your ’80s tech flashback for the day.)

    • Today in class I showed pictures of the Newcomen engine and a working replica. That’s a lot of boiler to go boom. Especially since it [the working replica] is contained in a brick building.

      • Pretty low pressure on the Newcomen, though. It was the condensation of the steam, when water was injected, that caused a vacuum and pulled the piston down.

      • The engine club I belonged to, had a senior member who did a model of the Newcomen. (Maybe 18″ cube for the system.) As memory serves, it ran at 0.25 psi. I think the Watt engines started to see higher pressures, but not sure how much. By the mid-19th century, you got to dangerous pressures.

    • In the cemetery beside our house was an empty grave. The deceased died in a steamboat boiler explosion and they never recovered his body.

      There was also known to be a shingle mill at a spring head behind the house. Never knew what happened to it – until we found a piece of mangled track.Likely boiler explosion. One almost took out another a couple of miles away, but the last worker running for cover saw and hit the stuck relief valve as he ran past, and that opened and saved it.

    • According to one Samuel Clemens, it wasn’t the races that blowed up the steamboats, it was the routine and sleepy regular trips.

      • Sounds about right. Races, you’re paranoid and prepared and on top of your game, and checked all your equipment carefully beforehand. Regular sleepy runs?A lot more hours and miles racked up, exposed to risk waiting for random chance, and complacency, to combine…

        • Sometimes a boiler would explode due to overpressure, but safety valves were designed to prevent that. The most common cause of boiler explosions was low water, and this could occur even while the safety valves were venting. Proper water level was critical, and in the early days this would require manual adjustment of the feedwater pump or injector. Inattentiveness was dangerous.

          The metal of the boiler around the firebox was kept from overheating and weakening by the boiler water itself. Should the water level drop low enough to expose the top of the firebox it would heat up, lose strength, and the boiler pressure would make it bend until it tore open.

          The boiling point of water depends on pressure. And in a pressurized container the boiling point can be much higher than 212 degrees. If the pressure drops suddenly the water turns to steam in an instant. And at atmospheric pressure steam requires about 1600 times as much space as the same weight of water.

    • I was almost killed in a steam boiler explosion. I was helping do emissions tests and we worked late to get finished early… so we agreed to sleep in before coming to get our equipment the next day. When I arrived in the control room late the next morning I noticed immediately that the big window overlooking the boilers had been papered over completely in white, the controls had an uncomfortably large amount of red, and the staff was very excited. I just kept out of the way and watched. It turns out the window overlooking the boilers wasn’t papered over… there was just so much steam released into the building that visibility was about one foot. The pipe that blew was a high pressure line above where we’d kept our equipment and it had dumped a couple of tons of refractory brick and misc. boiler parts right where we’d have been if we’d not worked late to finish the night before. Thankfully no one died, but that hadn’t been established when I’d first arrived as some of the staff was still in the ‘cloud’ and it is very dangerous to go stumbling around blind in a steam plant when there might be jets of superheated steam waiting to slice you in two.

      • I re-dug the info on a steam tractor explosion (in 2001) in Ohio. The owner/operator/idiot not only had low water, but let the boiler deteriorate badly. When water hit the very thin (1/16″) crown sheet, it flashed into steam, killing about 5 people and injuring about 50. (I think I did the writeup in the last HRC fisking.)

        The steam engines at Collier state park (South Central Oregon, a bit SE of Crater Lake) are run in public once a year, and another time for boiler inspections. Safety valves are set to 105PSI, and at least one of the engines has a manual emergency trip dump valve. The few years I helped there, things were tightly under control. Nobody get more than a couple of feet from an engine when steam was raised.

        Actually, the shingle saw on the other end of the belt scared me more than the 25HP engine…

  11. they insist on Bachelors for everyone, in an attempt to teach people things they used to learn by fourth grade

    And yes, on shutting down the feedback mechanism – the same reason they don’t do history.

  12. I last went into a Barnes & Noble during the Christmas season of 2015 to buy toys for my grandchildren. The last 2 Christmas shopping seasons have been done on Amazon. When I accidentally ordered the wrong size t-shirt for my grandson on Amazon, they refunded my money and told me to just keep the shirt. I bought the correct size with my refund and the other shirt went into our bag of clothes that is going to the Salvation Army when it gets full.

    Amazon’s commitment to customer service is definitely winning out over the plan to just sell us what they think is good for us.

  13. Seems an appropriate place to mention Chesterton’s Fence:

    In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

    • Instead of learning why the fence was there, the modern type of reformer is just trying to get rid of the more intelligent type of reformer, because “Obviously, zhe’s slowing down Progress(tm)!”

      *sinal salute*

    • If there’s no history, then there’s nothing to examine regarding the fence. Hence, nothing to slow down “progress”.

  14. wordPress ate my post when I tried to log in.

  15. Feedback isn’t necessary if your scheme plans are properly aligned with the narrative. Feedback is a distraction from the intellectually pure data and represents flaws in those who ought be dedicating themselves to turning the cranks.

  16. I think last time I was in a bookstore was when I was getting textbooks in Atlanta. Five years ago. Ebook or Amazon.

  17. Education, personal knowledge, and thinking ability.
    One of the reasons I chose to retire from the AF as soon as I did was because I’d finally had it up to here with 90% of the officers dumber, less educated than I was, and too stupid to listen to senior NCOs. Sure, some of them managed to learn from their failures. But breaking in a new butterball every year or so meant that the entire flight suffered from their failures every single time. You “may” have produced a semi-decent officer, but you ruined at least a half dozen enlisted men and women each time you did it.

    (Having Billy Dale’s wife working for me during the Clinton Administration, having officers submitting falsely attributed reports in my name, and trying to sweep me under the sand pile because they didn’t want to hear the history of why something did or did not work, etc. all piled on the straw that eventually broke the camel’s back. I have to laugh because I made the decision to immediately retire after they spent big bucks to send me to the Covey 7 Habits course, and the result of the course’s exercises was my realization that I couldn’t make any improvements in the military or benefit myself or my family from where I was.)

    • My father was a sergeant in the Army Air Corps (WW2) one of my better friends was a sergeant in the USAF for good number of years.

      When I became an officer, one thing I knew by then was that you damn well better listen to your sergeants. They’re there for a reason, use them! Always get their advice, never be afraid to ask their opinions on your ideas, and if you have an issue with one of them, talk to them in -private-.

      If you take care of them, they will do everything they can to protect you, because good officers are hard to find.

      If you make their lives miserable, they will do their best to arrange a fatal accident for you.

      • These kinds of things are what convince me that the Progressives don’t actually read fiction written by people who have “been there and done that”. I admit I have never been there, but I have read so many stories which basically said the same thing, that I would certainly follow that advice, were I to get into the situation to need to do so (however unlikely that is at this point in time).

        • Ditto, I too have not served, only know a few who have, and well passed age to consider even thinking about it. Don’t know if Tanya Huff (Valor Series) ever served, but she convinced me. Some other series with the same theme repeated whether military was the main angle or not (just can’t name others off the top of my head).

          • She hasn’t, but her father did. She grew up a military brat, and has a pretty good grasp of the culture.

    • “One of the reasons I chose to retire from the AF as soon as I did was because I’d finally had it up to here with 90% of the officers dumber, less educated than I was, and too stupid to listen to senior NCOs.”
      Everybody knows this, but no one does anything about it.
      Or maybe…considering some of the recent stories from the Academies …everybody doesn’t even know it now?

  18. When the whole point of a political philosophy is the idea that you’re going to reform society in such a way that will make men like unto angels (since all our bad impulses are the result of capitalism and “greed” and “exploitation” once it’s removed we’ll all be perfect….

    OK, I’ve seen this in various versions, here and elsewhere, and I have to ask, How do the proponents of such a philosophy explain that things got the way they are now, since certainly these things had to be invented in order for them to have Made. Men. Evil. Did they just happen randomly at some point in the past? Was there some Satan-like being who tempted someone to introduce them to the world? Did Aliens come to corrupt us, and prevent us from joining the Community of Universal Peace and Love? Or, perhaps, did they do it as a test, to see if we could overcome it?

    • The greedy Robber Barons. And before them, the Feudal Lords.
      Without the rich, we’d all be equal, and living large, donchano.

      • In Sacramento, we have the Railroad Barons, the Big Five, who have a few names you might recognize, like Stanford. I was recently in the Crocker Art Museum (originally a gallery attached to the Crocker mansion, eventually taking over the mansion, and now with an entire two wings of modern expansion space attached.) Crocker was one of the Big Five, and his brother would have been had he not left the group for some reason. One of the pieces displayed in the mansion section was a small statue of a slave auction, one of a series created as an anti-slavery movement. Crocker was one of the few people willing to publicly purchase this statuette, which has a strong demonic aspect to the auctioneer and which shows the woman for sale as human and pitiable.

        Yep. The robber barons were all about the suppression of human rights. You betcha.

      • Particularly amusing (for rather bent values of “amusing”, granted), a lot of those same types want to be the Feudal Lords, complete with a caste system that impedes others from working up to their level. Because they, of course, Know Better(tm).

        As Sarah says (paraphrased), here’s my matching pair of middle fingers to that notion. 😛

    • If I understand correctly, the kook belief is that patriarchal savages from the desert regions overwhelmed the peaceful matriarchal forest peoples, introducing things like patriarchy, competition, war, and exploiting the earth via agriculture.
      And yes, this is utterly stupid and has no correlation at all with any sort of reality or history. But they have their own version of history, reality, and the rest.

      • Reminds me of a tumblr post I saw on FB about the whole Medusa myth. Where it’s an example of the “Patriarchy” overcoming the “Matriarchy”. I wisely said nothing at that time.

        • But we need to say something. Otherwise the myth becomes “everyone knows”

          • In some situations I would have. The acquaintance that shared the post and her friends? Lost causes and no point in educating them.

          • This is vitally important if we are to prevent whatever Karlist drivel Oliver Stone commits to film from becoming the history that “everyone knows”.

            • Yep.
              My daughter calls up stuff to watch on her computer when she is working on stuff for her Teeny Bidness – the last couple of days, it’s been a documentary series about Communism, and the Cold War. She is appropriately horrified – and she was initially educated in DODDs schools, and remembers (vaguely) some of those events around the fall of the Berlin Wall.
              I have books on my shelves about stuff like the Hungarian uprising, and a cruelly funny book about the early stages of the Cold War in Berlin. (I reviewed it when it came out, and it’s funny, ironic, and very accurate. “Voices Under Berlin” – THE Hill.

              • Is also reason recent New York Times series on “100 Wonderful Years of Communism” must be refuted, rebutted, denounced and mocked.

                • How can anyone think that wonderful should ever be a modifier for communism?

                  • Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
                    Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
                    Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
                    Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
                    Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
                    Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
                    The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.

                    Terry Pratchett

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              I find it ironic that Stone is still a darling of the Left, when JFK is probably the most homophobic film I’ve ever seen.

      • It’s all Ursula K. Leguin’s fault.

      • But that just pawns it off to another level. How did the savages become patriarchal? There has to be an origin somewhere.

        Note that I don’t believe their bullshit story, but I want to see if there is some ultimate origin claim that doesn’t rely on an entire outside society, unless perhaps it’s demons or aliens (because they would be beyond the consideration of “peaceful until patriarchy”).

  19. Das Kapital is the world’s biggest conspiracy theory. And ‘false consciousness’ is the idea that we’ve all been brainwashed so we don’t know what’s good for us.

  20. The end of this is what happened to Ceausescu and his repulsive wife: “Beloved leader of the morning, pile of cooling, bullet riddled meat in the afternoon.”

    I always like a story with a happy ending.

  21. This allows the left-controlled education system to “certify” people as educated and never have to admit they are failing vast swaths of the population.

    For example:

    Graduation Is Not Enough
    By Jason Richwine
    Last fall, a WAMU/NPR investigation found that the amazing academic turnaround at Ballou High School was a hoax. The perennially low-achieving school in D.C.’s poorest region had suddenly graduated and obtained college placements for its entire senior class in 2017. How did it happen? According to WAMU, school administrators practically eliminated graduation standards. Half of the graduates had 60 or more unexcused absences. Failing students received partial credit for missed assignments, saw their F’s changed to D’s, and took suspicious “credit recovery” courses near the end of the year. Many graduates could not even read or write, one teacher told WAMU.

    Handing out diplomas like Halloween candy cannot have any social benefit, as it does not improve anyone’s skills or even provide an accurate signal of their underlying ability. What it does do is redistribute economic rewards. Due to the full high-school education on their résumés, the Ballou graduates will enjoy college and job placements unavailable to comparably-skilled dropouts who attended high schools that imposed real standards. The Ballou students’ gain is every prior graduate’s loss. Their credential will be devalued as people with lower skill levels claim it. Meanwhile, dropouts will become even more isolated and undesirable in the labor market.

    Ballou is an extreme case of a more general problem in program evaluation.


    As used to be said in the Soviet Union, “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”

  22. “Push books” was an actual policy at Borders in its last years. As in, people who worked there said they were told which “Make Books” they had to hand-sell—and if they didn’t make their targets, they got penalized. It was bad enough having to gather email addresses at the registers; I’m glad I was out before that debacle.

    (Contrast that with the time the GM found a book he liked and got copies for any of the staff who wanted—that sales spike was so anomalously high that the author came by and had brunch with the staff on his next book tour.)

  23. Good writing groups are worth their weight in rubies. My group would tell me “Too much exposition.” and I would mutter, “But Dave Weber has twenty times as much.” Then one member showed me by rewriting one of her scenes to remove the exposition. A slow moving scene in a doctor’s office came alive. (She did it because she didn’t like the scene, not to rub my face in her advice.) Yes, find a critique group.

    Here are some more commments on critique groups:

    • I read a biography of Alfred Wight, known to the world at large as James Herriot (due to laws in the UK at the time about not being able to visibly profit from vet work or some such. He outright fictionalized parts of his life so as to obscure his identity.) One thing that the biography did really well was to show some early samples of some of the famous stories, and then reprint the finished version. The original bits are flat and kind of scary, while the finished versions brim over with the humor of the situation. It’s nice to see progress like that, so you can try to apply it to your own work.

  24. The Progressive Left of today dare not allow feedback, because a cold eyed assessment of their merits would show them to be third-raters.

  25. Early in my experiments with tube amplifiers, I had a fuse that kept popping.
    Foolishly, I just wrapped tinfoil around a fuse, and kept going.
    Which caused a Trek worthy boom and puff of smoke from one of the large filter caps. Turns out my rectifier had a short.
    There’s a lesson here.

  26. Remove the feed-back, and screw up the reward system so everybody gets the same result, or close to it…then try to figure out why it doesn’t stay on even course. All the gauges say it’s good.

    • I’m getting paid if I work or not? Screw it, give me the money and I’ll expend energy on something I find worthwhile/fun.

    • Why has productivity dropped so precipitously? I’ve got twice as many people as before, but only getting half the product produced. I don’t understand what all my employees are doing all day. – people who don’t understand business.

      • What do you mean “people who don’t understand business”?
        They got a piece of paper that says they understand everything there is to know about business, right there on the wall!
        Books, music, guns, tools- it doesn’t really matter, because widgets are widgets, and any MBA can run anything!
        (or so the thinking goes).

        • Not to mention that ultimate canard that employees interchangeable widgets as well. Seems to be treated as Gospel in most MBA programs these days.

          • Once upon a time I took an Introduction to Business course as it was the only thing that fit in the schedule that was even remotely of interest. (I’d have gone with Isotope Handling but the labs would have caused a conflict. yeah, it was down to those two.) And ti was enlightening in a horrifying way. I kept waiting for things to get to beyond “Anyone who can dress themselves already knows this” and it never did. And worse, some seemed to be struggling with it. Ouch.

            I was not all surprised to find later that it is common that anyone even slightly capable of pretty much anything regards the MBA as perhaps the most overrated degree there is.

            • There are parts of an MBA which requires some harder skills for what it is worth. Upper level finance, especially valuing options, can result in some harder core modeling. If you think of Accounting as the study of where business try to hide their problems while still making some disclosures, it can actually become an interesting puzzle. Identifying the core features of your business model, the strategic and competitive threats, and what your customers actually want can be a worthwhile exercise… and one a series of major publishers failed to do properly as our hostess appropriately recounts. Forecasting what people are going to do is far harder, in some ways, than a physical problem where doing the same thing twice usually yields the same results.

              Just my 2 cents.

          • Because each MBA is a special snowflake, and the mud people are interchangeable parts…

            Marx was from a Dickensian London of poverty and unskilled labor. Not that he did any of that if he could help it, of course. But back then, labor was pretty much “round up enough warm bodies to do the job and tell them to fribble off when done.”

            That sort of worked, but within his lifetime employers got away from that. They didn’t want warm bodies any more; they wanted pipefitters and machinists and accountants and all sorts of skilled workmen, who were *not* interchangeable… but the socialists never could accept that “the working class” was no longer an undifferentiated mass.

        • “i’m an engineer! I know what I’m doing. . . {this is my first clue that, no. no. you do not}
          Gee, why does it take 3 days to pump in this ingredient? The Texas guys said they made these batches in one day!”
          Well, the ingredient is 40,000 centipoise, at room temperature, it’s 40f right now, and you have it going trough a 1.5 inch air diaphragm pump, plumbed with 1 inch line . . .
          “They don’t use that pump, they use a different 1.5 inch pump and a 1.5 inch line direct to the tank, and it went down to 3 days.”
          Yeah, but both are still too small, and . . . .
          “That is not the problem. The lines are fine!”
          AND they recommend at least a 2 inch line and a High Viscosity pump if you are going to pump it with line pressures as high as 200 psi. That is why we didn’t pump it in down in Texas. We dumped it into the top of the tanks.
          “Oh, we cant do that.”

          After that engineer retired, our “not an engineer” (he has a chemical engineering degree, but that ain’t his position so he “aint”) just ordered the high-visc pump and it still takes them 3 shifts to pump it in, but that is just 15 or so hours of pumping vs 65 or so.
          The lines are still too small, but the hard piping to the mix tanks is all 1.5 inch pipe. so a 2 inch line is impossible.
          Oh, and the shortest run they can get is still 100 feet of line. Where they do it is another 15-20 feet of line. Our plumbing design sucks(Think Mario Brothers movie plumbing and you get the idea)
          I wont inflict the spittle fleck rage I have for my operation’s plumbing designs.

          • Sorry, but an engineer needs to start with a Jerry-Rig mentality, before applying mathematics to the job.

            “It’s not pumping fast enough? Use a bigger line and a bigger (more powerful) pump!” (Walks off shaking head and mumbling dire imprecations about people who think the book can tell them everything).

  27. richardmcenroe

    Sarah, Larry mentioned you with modest approval over at MHN…

  28. I think the last time I was in a B&N, I was looking for a place with A/C and WiFi on a very hot Sunday when the local libraries were closed.

    Speaking of libraries, it’s a sad commentary on traditional publishing when you can walk through the sf/fantasy section of your local branch and not see a single volume that inspires you to check it out. You don’t even have to risk money, just your time, but it just doens’t seem worth it.

    • Do your library a favor. Assuming they already have the SF&F classics; buy them Sarah’s Darkship series, and Larry’s Monster Hunter series. I suspect they’ll have a waiting list for those books, and a “problematical” book pilferage rate with them too. 😉

      • A lot of libraries no longer accept donated books.

        It “costs too much to add them to the system.”

        They go straight to the friends of the library sale- or the trash.

        • Yes. If you want to add books to the system, you’ll have to do the heavy lifting of finding and buttering up the circulation expert. However, you can always prime the pump by looking up books online in your extended branch and seeing if they’ll send it to your branch. (My county treats each local branch as part of the same system, so while the individual selection may not be great, I can always look for the books at another branch.)

    • It’s an even sadder commentary that your local library will also double as a homeless shelter and free internet pr0n station.

    • I mentioned upthread that I started to hate B&N when they became a tiny bookstore with a Hallmark store attached. Well, I noticed much the same trend in one of the local libraries, minus the Hallmark store. There are fewer and fewer bookshelves, and those that remain are getting shorter. There are more computer terminals, more “open spaces,” and generally arrangements that give the place the acoustics of your average high school cafeteria.

      I haven’t been back to that particular library in almost two years. Part of the reason is that I’ve moved and have some place closer, but the bigger part is that it doesn’t seem to be a library anymore.

      • My town’s library was pretty small. They agitated for a new building for decades, and finally got one.

        The new library occupies an entire city block. Half of that is landscaping. There’s a tiny parking lot, smaller than the old one, with spaces too small to get my truck into. Then you have to walk most of a city block in the rain, because the door is on the other end of the building.

        The building is four times the size of the old one, and two stories high. But fully half the building is a “conference room”. And the two story thing turned out to be a 25-foot ceiling.

        By eye, about half the books made it to the new building. The pathetic selection of SF apparently wasn’t worthy. The rest of the space is taken up with “open areas” and some kind of children’s play area.

        The sign says “Library”, but it’s not, in any useful way. It’s smaller and less accessible than the old one.

        • There’s not enough parking for our city library—they have a sharing agreement with a church a few spaces down, but you have to drive away from the library, do a U-turn, and then go past the library to access it. And for some reason they had to redo the bracing when they built it because they originally hadn’t put in enough support for the second floor—with BOOKS. (Smack that architect down.) OTOH, they did the intelligent thing of having the kids’ books and the community room on the first floor, with the second floor being teen & adult, so there’s a sound barrier between the kid space and the adult space.

          Tiny little library, but as I said before, access to the entire county system if you know what to look for. (I’ve currently got an audiobook of ALL of the Narnia series waiting for pickup—that’s 31 discs, which will be put into our computer for easier listening. Which you’re allowed to do, as long as you don’t “keep it past the checkout time.” So sorry, I’ll hold onto it until we play it on the long drive to Grandma’s—but only once. Spirit, not letter.)

          • If tht is the Narnia set I expect it is, you’re in for a treat. Readings by Kenneth Branagh, Patrick Stewart, Derek Jacobi, Lynn Redgrave, Michael York and others?

            I will caution you that the York reading is the weakest of the (very strong) lot. He comes across as an indulgent uncle reading to the kids and less of a performer of the tale. Some may prefer that mode of reading, but I found it a bit flat.

            We need not engage in dispute over the proper sequencing of the tales; all True Narnians know the correct order and those who don’t cannot be persuaded by argument.

            • I once read a book about the Narnia series that had a phrase in it something like “Exodus is the most important book in the Old Testament.” Personally, I’m a fan of the “revealed truth” order, because I have no problem going back to discover things that happened before.

  29. And once the feedback is gone, they lose their minds when the wrong person wins an election.

  30. Imagine trying to create a system to maintain constant temperature in a room without using the concept of feedback. You’d have to make settings adjustments for the characteristics of a particular room…measure the outdoor temperature continuously…measure the wind speed, which affects both heat loss and chimney draft…and probably also have an adjustment for the BTU content of the current batch of fuel…and combine all this data with a fairly elaborate computing algorithm. Even with all this, it probably wouldn’t work very well.

    But when Julian Bradford and Alfred Butz addressed the problem circa 1880, they took a different approach: if temperature is less than desired, open the furnace damper further. If it’s warmer than desired, move the damper to the closed position. That was the origin of the modern thermostat.

  31. Off topic, but here’s a comment on Hillary’s book from Ann Althouse’s blog:
    Blogger William Chadwick said…

    If only Margaret Hamilton had been alive to do the spoken-word edition. . .
    (I already sent it to Amanda at Nocturnal Lives.).

  32. I keep going to B&N to try and use a $50 gift card.

    Or their online site.

    And, I’ve discovered that I’ve either bought everything that they have, or there’s nothing I want to get.

    I want to find a good, rip-roaring military sci-fi series that is in the vein of Honor Harrington or the Daniel Leary/RCN stories…but, a lot of the recommendations fall flat. Something about them feels forced or the author hasn’t thought things through.

    Or are hectoring/lecturing.

    Or the characters are acting in ways that are highly unrealistic or unbelievable.

    Hell, there’s stories out there that I want to read, and nobody is telling. So, I’m writing them.

    Or finding a comic book or graphic novel that I don’t own and would actually enjoy.

    I want to buy things. There has to be a market…and I want to be a part of it.

    • “Hell, there’s stories out there that I want to read, and nobody is telling. So, I’m writing them.”
      That’s where all the best books come from.

      • That is the only reason I have a book out. I wanted to read it, dammit. (The reason I say I’m not a writer is because I’m not forced to write. If other people would write the story, I wouldn’t have to!)

  33. “One thing you learn pretty quickly with mechanisms, at least if you are a little kid taking apart something someone else put together, is to be wary of left over gears. They were doing something before, and it’s highly unlikely that you tinkered with it in such a way that it made it more efficient and special.”

    I have a vivid memory about repairing the VW bus engine and having one small washer left over…

  34. Two negatives equal a positive, right? Just like two lefts make a right and two wrongs make a right!

    When the Left Bullies They Pose As Anti-Bullies
    By Sarah Hoyt
    One of the favorite insults the left hurls at President Trump is calling him a bully. This seems to be based on nothing much, except his expressing his opinions in contravention of theirs early and often on Twitter.

    After all, the president neither has the intent, nor the ability to enforce, everyone following his way, repeating his opinions, or embracing his positions. He might campaign for it, cheer for it, or try to get people to follow him, but he doesn’t do so by means of making it socially impossible to do otherwise.

    Frankly, with the media and the “industry of glamour” from novels to movies set staunchly on the side of opposing Trump, it is a good bet that even if Trump wanted to bully people into supporting him, he would not have the ability.

    And while the power of the President is an awesome one, this particular President doesn’t show much inclination to have filmmakers arrested in the middle of the of the night simply because he needs a scapegoat for an attack on one of our embassies.

    So even if President Trump had the intention of becoming a bully, he’d be like the skinny, small kid on the playground, running around yelling at other people to do as he says.

    Meanwhile the left, particularly in fields in which they are the majority and where gatekeeping is quite powerful – say, Hollywood – shows every inclination, intention, and ability to bully.

    Take the whole #metoo movement. …


    • > After all, the president neither has the intent, nor the ability to enforce, everyone following his way, repeating his opinions, or embracing his positions

      But the rulers of converged institutions *do*, by deplatforming or firing anyone who doesn’t conform. What is power for, if not for making people do what you want?

      Their pecking order is so thoroughly ingrained they see the entire world through those blinders. If one of *them* were saying the things Trump does, they’d have their minions on the way to make it so. When Trump’s minions fail to haul people off to the Secret Concentration Camps it twists their worldview and makes them fretful.

      • It occurred to me just now, that perhaps the biggest factor in the Left’s hatred of Mr. Trump is the remembrance that he used to be one of them (or so it at least appeared), and a number of well-respected (at the time) pundits had suggested he was running as a stalking horse for HRC, and would somehow throw the election to her by irretrievably damaging the GOP candidate in the primaries (he wasn’t supposed to win) or … something… it got muddy after that.
        When he didn’t Make It So, but instead seized the crown out of her very hands, they could not forgive the treason.
        And THEN he started governing like a conservative!
        Eternally unforgivable double treason!
        Excuse me while I recover from my laughing.

          • That’s because none of you knew the man. You only knew what the TV told you. As I said before, I had friends who had worked for him, and I knew of him long before he had any political aspirations and was just a builder and a business man in NYC.

            And I saw all the things that he came out and said he had to do, if he was going to do business in NYC or any democratic stronghold. And that was to play politics and appear to be kissing democrats butts. They should just be happy he’s not a vindictive man, or there would be a lot of very nasty paybacks going on.

            • well…. that is what one has to do to succeed in traditional publishing, so I should understand.

            • The tax deduction cap would seem to be a bit of nasty payback aimed at NYC dems…

              • a) long overdue
                b) what happened to that “Tax The Rich” attitude?
                c) the work-around they are reportedly developing, establishing “charities” which accept donations and return tax credits sounds an awful lot like setting up a phony charitable organization (what will it do with those funds?) in order to launder money so as to avoid taxes. It should be interesting to see how courts view such a tax avoidance scam.

                • Not that I followed the debates. But, did pickup on some parts. One of which was the $10,000 cap was a compromise from total elimination of the deduction. Those arguing for not allowing the cap were the cap was a benefit for the rich because only the top 10% even have deductions; true or not. We are solid middle class with mortgage & property taxes and have only filed standard for the last 2 years (FYI, that is NOT NYC/LA/SF, etc., middle class), however total is < $10k. Now they they are whining about over taxing the rich? WHAT????

                  • Not following the debate is sensible — none of it matters until a bill is passed, people on both sides lie about the effects the MSM coverage will be dishonest, and there’s damned little you can do about it at any rate.

                    But some principles remain true. As you note, for most taxpayers the cap on deductibility of mortgage interest only matters if your itemized deductibles exceed your standard deduction. Capping that mortgage amount while raising the standard deduction means most people will benefit because all will get to take the larger deduction while only a few will lose the benefit from itemization,

                    The mortgage interest deduction is already baked into the price of houses — you determine your mortgage by determining the largest monthly payment you can afford — it’s a cash flow decision. Being able to deduct (some of) your mortgage interest merely means you will be willing to take on a larger mortgage, inflating the amount you and everyone else is willing to bid for a house.

                    That deductibility is in part illusory. If your mortgage interest is $15K and the standard deduction is $10K, itemizing only increases your deduction by $5K — the net between your itemized and standard deductions. Coincidentally, it also increases your risk of audit, because anyone itemizing deductions is inherently increasing the possibilities of (ahem) error.

                    As for the deduction of State And Local Taxes — shouldn’t a taxpayer in Florida or Texas pay the same federal income tax as a taxpayer in New York or Illinois? Why is it “fair” for payers in low tax states to subsidize the confiscatory rates of high tax states?

                    On the property tax question, Betsy McCaughey cranks some numbers and provides some perspective:
                    New tax law is a huge win for renters
                    Under the new tax law, everyone — renters and homeowners alike — will have their tax rates cut and their standard deduction almost doubled. Most will end up paying less. To cover the cost of these cuts, the law caps the mortgage deduction for buyers of the priciest real estate.

                    Few home buyers will even notice it, because they’re not borrowing $750,000 or more. Last year, only 4 percent of home buyers borrowed that much, and only about 100,000 buyers will take out such huge mortgages in 2018.

                    Democrats are usually eager to slap taxes on millionaires. But now, they’re so desperate to discredit GOP tax reform that they’re defending deductions for the nation’s wealthiest homeowners in expensive East and West coast enclaves.

                    It’s true that the cap will likely hit the wallets of the bicoastal elite. Some 64 percent of buyers in Manhattan’s rarefied real-estate market took out a mortgage that big, and 58 percent of San Francisco buyers did.

                    But the tax change certainly won’t hurt middle-class first-time buyers. They purchase homes with a median price of $182,500. In the past, the tax code encouraged wealthy homeowners to buy even bigger homes and borrow more.


                    Homeowners still have the option of taking deductions for most mortgage interest and property taxes, but almost all will crunch the numbers and find it pays to take the nearly doubled standard deduction instead.

                    Only 5 percent of filers are expected to itemize.

                    • One further note: surely all can agree that mortgage interest on second homes ought not be deductible*? If you can afford a vacation home you certainly can afford to pay full freight for it.

                      *Except as an expense against income from rental of that property, of course.

                    • Exactly!!!

                      FYI. The same arguments were made when the interest deduction was taken away from vehicle purchases. Plus it would decimate the auto industry. Well maybe in areas where they are trying to stop auto travel, or at least private auto travel. Anywhere else, where without a car you go nowhere; not so much.

                      Back to home ownership. Without deduction still benefit to owning your own home. FWIW. Our house payment plus monthly insurance + monthly property taxes (should we pay latter monthly) is less than local rent for less than desirable accommodations; then there would be monthly extra charges for the privilege of having a pet (for us that would be plural). Granted we’ve had our home almost 30 years, although our mortgage is about double what we originally paid because of refinancing. Still way less than what we could sell for, even with another bubble burst. We’ve been through the “can’t sell at any price due to location, downturn” (finally did sell when things turned around, net gain $0) so we have been conservative on refinancing, as in “don’t care how much we could get, this is what we need and for what/why.”

        • That would certainly be a major factor; death cults hate apostates.

          • That’s been my thought as well – they are so wild with hatred, because they thought he was one of them; a fabulously wealthy, twice-divorced Noo Yawker, who partied with them, had them as guests … and then he turned around and took the prize away from the anounted Queen… Apostate, indeed.

    • I just wanted to high-light this truly awesome bit of irony that would go completely over the heads of any Demos reading this post (if any did such, but I’m sure Sarah is on their list of First Order Re-education Camps for People Whose Opinions We Hate but Don’t Actually Read — which is why I doenjoy reading her essays so much, which at least puts me on the Second Order list, I suppose).
      “And while the power of the President is an awesome one, this particular President doesn’t show much inclination to have filmmakers arrested in the middle of the of the night simply because he needs a scapegoat for an attack on one of our embassies.”

  35. Speaking about how They act … does World Con have a problem with Hispanic Latino authors? When did World Con get so racist? That makes puppies soooooo sad.

    Conservative Hispanic Writer Jon Del Arroz Banned from Worldcon Sci-Fi Convention
    Jon Del Arroz won’t be going to the Worldcon science fiction convention, even though he is the leading Hispanic voice in science fiction and he bought a ticket. The multi-award nominated military science fiction author was banned publicly from the upcoming festivities in San Jose, California, without ceremony or explanation by Worldcon’s Incident Response Team. “At this time we are converting your membership to Worldcon76 to a supporting membership as you will not be permitted to attend the convention. On your personal blog you have made it clear that you are both expecting and planning on engendering a hostile environment which we do not allow. If you are found on the premises of the convention center or any of the official convention hotels you will be removed,” the organizers wrote.

    After sending that private email message to Del Arroz, they publicly denounced him on Facebook, Twitter, and Worldcon’s main website. Del Arroz was not given a reason for the banning even though he sent several messages inquiring about the alleged “incident” that triggered it. “Worldcon 76 has chosen to reduce Jonathan Del Arroz’s membership from attending to supporting,” they wrote. “We have taken this step because he has made it clear that he fully intends to break our code of conduct. We take that seriously….racist and bullying behavior is not acceptable at our Worldcon.”

    The “racist or bullying” behavior was not explained and no evidence that it occurred was presented. Worldcon refused to tell Del Arroz what they objected to on his site. PJ Media reached out to Worldcon and was told there would be “no further comment” on the banning. Further investigation shows that Del Arroz had contacted Worldcon organizers to ask for help several weeks ago with concerns that his safety as a conservative author at the convention was being threatened by other attendees.