The Ground Moving Under Our Feet


This post is prompted by something that Amanda said on the comments to her post, yesterday: that traditional publishing should have seen the writing on the wall when their midlist writers started leaving en-masse for indie, but instead they lashed out and called writers widgets and said we could be replaced by others just like us… which is true… to a point.  The point is what they were missing: that things had changed, that there were other avenues, that the ones wedded to the old system and willing to be treated as widgets would be a self-selected population, and even those would probably not be willing to eat as much dirt as the rest of us did, when there was no other alternative.

Humans aren’t good at perceiving change, or perceiving conditions they’re not equipped to deal with by experience.

I’ve been in two earthquakes in m life, one majorish, one minor.  Both of them scared me so much that 17 years ago I nixed a highly advantageous move to California, because earthquakes.  (Turns out the decision was great, even if I made it for stupid reasons.)

The first earthquake I lived through, I was either 3 or 6 (these things run together in my mind) and it was pretty major, in that some houses in the village were severely damaged (stone houses, mind.) I slept through it, and woke up on the street, in my brother’s arms, blinking at all our neighbors in their pajamas or less.  (Grandad got his foot stuck in the guzunder, which was fortunately clean, but he ran down the stairs wearing a chamber-pot shoe because no one wanted to be caught in the house, in case it collapsed.

Apparently, if the house had collapsed both brother and I would have died, because having bravely pulled me out of the bed, he then spent precious minutes running back and forth from front to back door in my parents’ shotgun apartment (made out of what used to be my grandparents’ grain-and-other storage rooms) because he couldn’t decide which way to go out.  Remember he was a teen and we’d never had an Earthquake drill.

Years later (I think I was 21 or so, as I was already engaged to Dan) I was studying for finals, in my room, when the Earthquake hit.  My first thought wasn’t that the house was shaking (even though it visibly was) but that I was so tired I was hallucinating it.  Then I realized it was really shaking, and headed for the stairs.  And then the phone rang, and I FELL down the stairs, counting the last flight (nine or so stairs) on my behind.  (Fortunately cushioned there.)  It was a miracle I didn’t break a leg.  The ridiculous thing is that the phone call was my dad, who was up north where the earthquake hit first, and who was trying to warn me.

Note that Portugal is mildly disposed to Earth quakes.  (For years, the North has been waiting…. er…. expecting Lisbon to slide into the sea.)  In the North there are fewer than in the south, so ever ten or twenty years or so.  Meaning they’re not unknown, and you know they could hit at any minute, but they’re rare enough that your back brain interprets them as impossible.  Hence my brother’s reaction.  And mine.

Which is why people do fire drills, and Earthquake drills, and should be doing nuclear attacks drills again, too, and more sanely.

Because unless this is trained into your backbrain you don’t recognize it.  Because humans have got where we are through being REALLY good at identifying patterns like “if Ogg go play with tiger, Ogg get eaten.”  Other animals learn too, of course, but we have this thing called language to dissiminate this stuff far and wide.

But we’re not good at knowing when the pattern changes.  (We’re also vulnerable to faux patterns, aka faulty logic, and since, say, communism is internally consistent as a philosophy — though it has bloody nothing to do with the real world — people fall for it.)  All our adaptations are double edged swords, of course.

So, five? Six? years ago I heard an editor who is actually smart saying that this indie thing wouldn’t last.  When writers realized how much work was involved in covers, editing, publicity, dealing with sites, they’d come crawling back to editors and ask them to take it all over.

By then, I was already doing some indie, and knew a lot of people who were doing more.  Our covers weren’t very good or trivially easy, but we were learning.  And covers were the BIGGEST sticking point.  (We’ve got better.  The insert is novel hopefully coming out next month.) Because we, midlisters, were already doing everything else.  We were having to pay to have our traditional books proofread (and this was difficult, as sometimes they got messed up after that.)  We were already doing whatever publicity our books got.  And the sites were way easier to deal with than publishing houses.

Coming hopefully next month. In the same world as The White Lady of Christmas, which is posted here somewhere. In fact, this is little Art Arcana III, all grown up.

So I stared in some shock, that someone smart didn’t see that this process which, yes, used to take an entire publishing house and trained staff, had in fact got so massively easier, due to automation, that it could be a one man job.  And that those of us who weren’t getting the star treatment didn’t really have any reason to go through the process.  Well, okay, some reason, SOMETIMES.  There are personal loyalties, etc.  BUT we certainly didn’t need to eat live frogs to get this stuff done for us, anymore.  Which is a massive game changer.

I don’t particularly blame publishing house personnel for not seeing it, either, really.  It’s like me looking at my books shaking in the bookcase above the desk and thinking it was just me being tired.  It’s not just that they know how many resources producing books took, it’s that they’re still surrounded by sycophantic wanna bes who think they’ll only be “real authors” if a house publishes them.  In the deluge they’re likely to miss that the quality of these ah… widgets has changed, and that people with a spine are not willing to break it for no better than “publication” anymore.  And PW and other publications who also can’t face the truth of the Earthquake under their feet don’t help things with stuff like “paper books are coming back, they really are.”

Now, when I talk of the changes that technology and the net have introduced in the last fifteen or so years, I usually illustrate with publishing.  It’s what I know better.  But it’s not just publishing.

The truth is that even those of us who believed the long march through the institutions had put a hard left cadre at the head of most things are shocked at how far this has gone, and are listening to the news about the FBI and the DOJ in something akin to stunned shock. And listening to the “defenses” of these things with even more stunned shock.

To me the whole thing looks like bullies who had been used to beating up weaker and smaller kids behind the shed, and suddenly the shed has gone transparent.  A lot of this was known (maybe not this much.  Okay, nowhere near this much) but couldn’t be discussed or admitted, because if you wanted to do anything you had to go past that shed and take your beating.

Now you don’t.  New media/blogs/indie have carved new paths.  Our brethren in education and movies are still prisoners, but I suspect it’s for less time than they expect.  Actually than anyone sane expects.

This ground is moving really fast.  Things are falling and rising up again.  And no one sees it clearly.

Of course, after 100 years of getting in position to control all of society (the only way socialism/communism can even PRETEND to work) the left is not going to take this calmly.  To the extent they’re waking up to how things are changing, they’re fighting back like weasels in a sack.  This is not going to be pretty.

I keep reading and in the back of my mind I’m expecting a “black day” like the revolution in Friday by Robert A. Heinlein.  A lot of assassinations and people disappearing from public life, and you don’t know why or which side is which.

I get that feeling that it’s time to assume the crash position and get ready for impact.  Now, this “time” might be one or two years.  It’s a blink of an eye in human affairs.  But I think a great scouring, a great upheaval and shaking is coming, and when it’s past we won’t even recognize the business, or political, or even daily life landscape.

In the end, we win, they lose.  Mostly because our philosophy is more aligned with reality.

BUT no one promised us a rose garden, and no one promised there would be no earthquakes.

Just try to run to safe ground, and mind you, don’t step in the guzzunder.

475 thoughts on “The Ground Moving Under Our Feet

  1. “…this indie thing wouldn’t last.”

    “Radio is just a fad.”

    Which is why so many carry devices with at least three transceivers and at least one receiver nowadays…

    Transceiver #1 – Telephony.
    Transceiver #2 – Wireless networking
    Transceiver #3 – Bluetooth
    Receiver – GPS
    Possible second receiver – FM broadcast

    Oh, they meant AM broadcast? It’s changed quite a bit, but it’s still there.

    Cue Radio Ga Ga

    1. And the prediction, in the 1960’s, that someday there would be computers as small as a breadbox that anyone could own, was much laughed at … which is why those devices with three transceivers and a receiver ALSO contain a computer more powerful than the IBM mainframes available in the university “computer lab” in those same 1960’s.

      Yeah, change is inevitable, and it WILL shake the ground. There’s no need to change things just for the sake of change (which some people still thing is a self-evident good), there will be plenty of disruption without that.

      1. And it’s not just that the computer is more powerful, but it’s so much more powerful that it can emulate the IBM mainframes of the 60s, peripherals and all, and run the same programs they did back then hundreds of times faster.

      2. those little boxes contain more power and storage than… well, several of the computers used to make Jurassic Park. Literally, a bunch of them.

              1. PS two of the computer predictions above are allegedly misattributed or fake (take a guess, then go look).
                However, one of the “incorrect predictions” seems to me to be correct, considering the general consensus about the present day.


                “Democracy will be dead by 1950.”
                John Langdon-Davies, A Short History of The Future, 1936.

                1. “world market for maybe five computers”…what Tom Watson Senior really said, according to his son Tom Watson Jr, was that this was the world market for the IBM 701 aka ‘Defense Calculator’, an extremely expensive vacuum-tube computer. In the upshot, they sold something like 20 of these.

                  Watson Sr’s blind spot was not computers per se…he loved fast calculation…but the use of magnetic tape instead of punched cards for business record storage. He didn’t think the market would accept such an intangible medium for vital and permanent records, also, he feared the loss of what we would now call IBM’s “Unique Selling Proposition”…ie, the high value of the punched card.

                  btw, Watson Jr’s autobiography is far better than the common run of executive autobiographies, which tend excessively toward the ‘here’s how brilliant I was’ direction. I reviewed the book here:


                  1. Thanks!
                    I love old stories about ancient history (lol), as my own experience spans seeing the vacuum-tube computer that filled 2 rooms at college, just before it was dismantled; paper tape in teletype machines; punched cards in various iterations; and on to the distributed-terminals and then personal computers.
                    I worked one summer at the college nuclear lab, monitoring the magnetic tape reels that were recording the experimental particle-bombardments; it was very nice to get rid of those big things, but who would have thought we would eventually have “flash drives” and Terabytes of personal storage??

        1. VAX may be dead, but there’s a couple places that still run VMS, and will for a long time.

          1. When i swapped tapes on a VMS machine, the irony was my home PC had more memory than the entire mainframe.

    2. A surprising number of the fancy car radios don’t have AM!

      Seriously, what is WITH that? To heck with Sirius, I wanna listen to stuff bounced off clouds and still intelligible.

      1. We’ve had Sirius for free for a year twice now. Why? Can’t get reception when we are traveling anyway (cuts out on mountain highways). OTOH having our entire CD library on a single USB stick we plug into the vehicle Radio/CD system, very cool.

        1. I’ll have to admit… If you told me in 1982 (the year I graduated high school) that within 35 years I would be able to buy an electronic card the size of my pinky fingernail that could hold 64GB of data, at Wal-Mart, I would have been skeptical.

            1. …of course, the idea that I’d read your comment, hop over to to check the prices are what my memory said, and have to resist temptation to get juuuuust one more spare would’ve been crazy sounding, too.

              Well, not the “I need an extra for my extra extra!” part.

          1. I had to go look– no memory cards on sale at Amazon that are a full 1tb+, but one has been announced.

            When we were on the ship, one of the guys who was REALLY crazy into computers had a whole 1TB DRIVE.

            Now I’ve got one of those in the kids’ made-from-spare-parts computer, because it was laying around.

            1. Heh. Yeah, the progression has been kinda scary, when you think too much about it.

              We’ve pretty much hit a plateau for a while, while we work out some of the sideline tech that has been talked about but there was never enough incentive to pursue them seriously, then things will go ahead again for a while. But after that, we’re REALLY going to hit a barrier, and I’m not sure where it’s going after that.

          2. Tell me about it. If someone had said mid-term Winter 1975, while I was using Basic on a Teletype (required minimum computer class for all science based degrees), a class I despised, HATED (enough emphasis?), that I would be writing computer software for 35 years (& it was FUN), I would have passed out laughing; for that matter so would have anyone that knew me.

      2. A fellow I knew was along on some trip or other in a new company vehicle and started reading the stuff in the glovebox to pass the time (as you will discover, this was a while ago) and almost every option was standard in the package setup for this higher end car. But somehow there was one option was charged… the $1,000 for the radio, which was AM Stereo/FM Stereo. Yeah, likely the first last and only time he encountered AM Stereo. Whether there was an AM Stereo signal for it, I do not recall, but I have my doubts. It became a joke on their trip, “$A – standard, $B – standard, $C – standard… and a THOUSAND DOLLAR RADIO!”

        1. When I bought my first new car (a 1999 Kia Sephia) the AM/FM/cassette radio option was $450. The power, speaker, and antenna wires were all laid in on the non-radio model, it just didn’t have the device. Got the non-radio model (dealer actually had to ship the no-frills car I wanted (A/C is for wimps!) in from Chicago), Drove it across the street to the big blue box audio store and bought a perfectly adequate Sony stereo for $60, $40 for the installation and I was good to go.

  2. I live in the less-prone-to-earthquakes area of California, and I’ve only faintly felt a couple in my life. The first one felt like a cat shaking the bed—though the weird part about that was the double shake, twice one way, then twice the other because of the wave form. The second that I really remember was faint enough that I thought it was vertigo—until I saw the comments online.

    The thing is, though, that those are easy to ignore. They don’t change anything, and maybe something falls over or breaks at the worst. But compare this to a friend of mine who was in the Northridge earthquake (1994, IIRC) and said there was a wardrobe in her room moving from one side to the other. She was thankful that it was perpendicular to her bed, because if the waves had been the other way, she would have been crushed. (Secure your furniture to the walls, folks!) That’s the sort of thing you can’t ignore.

    1. Felt 3 while living in Texas. The biggest ( high 3s iirc) was also rather close to where I was and knocked a few items over. A co-worker’s house was even closer and had pictures and a hanging mirror fall and nick knocks fall off the mantle.

    2. In the Seattle area, probably in 1996, I was in a community theater scene shop in the lower floor of a warehouse one Saturday. Heard what sounded like heavy carts moving around upstairs, took a bit to realize there shouldn’t be anyone up there on Saturday – went outside to check and saw the street pavement rolling in waves. Bit of a shock!

        1. Can’t remember for sure, but I left that group ~2000 and think it was a few years before.
          BTW, a list of Seattle quakes I looked at shows Duvall quake in 1996/5/2 mag. 5.6, Satsop quake in 1999/7/3, mag. 5.8, and Puget Sound quake in 2001/2/28, mag. 6.8 – enough larger to probably be the RIS you mention.

          1. That February, my brother came down for our dad’s birthday and made the mistake of saying how much he’d regretted never feeling an earthquake. He lives in the Seattle area. We blamed him.

    3. I was in Emeryville, in an old warehouse built out of 16×16 lumber, for the Loma Prieta quake. The whole structure was shimmying.

      The outside was lit up with green flashes as major grid circuit breakers blew out.

      I had just driven the pancake freeway half an hour ago.

      A few years later I was on the street with my little ones under my arms after the Northridge quake when I noticed I needed pants.

      1. I was playing cribbage at a friend’s shop in San Jose after knocking off work early. This was in an older one-story brick building. My first inclination was to bolt for the door, but was warned not to. Somehow, I actually listened. We were lucky; several brick buildings in Los Gatos (about 12 miles south of us) and older buildings in downtown San Jose were trashed, but the shop had the right location and it was just strong enough. My own chimney was cracked while most of the neighbors’ came down–I had a stainless liner that kept it together; had to pay to have it rebuilt when we sold the place in ’03.

        We haven’t had any big quakes since we’ve moved to this part of Oregon (the county courthouse was destroyed in one during the ’90s), but we pretty much know what to expect. I’ve secured as much as possible; OTOH, I have some doubts as to how well the (manufactured) home is anchored to the perimeter. I think we’d ride through a Cascadia megaquake all right; the worst should happen further north, and we’re far enough from the coast to let the shaking attenuate.

        1. Manufactured homes are actually more highly rated for earthquake survival than standard build, since they’re designed to be moved over roadways.

          1. Agreed, but… In the Loma Prieta, some (older) homes slid off their foundations. If the anchoring is good enough for our place, that wouldn’t be a problem, but I don’t have a good way to check.

            If the house slid off, it should be survivable, but the place would be in bad shape. The homes in the Loma Prieta were a total loss. (IIRC, this was mostly in Santa Cruz and Watsonville, the places closest to the epicenter.)

            1. A surprising number of homes rely on gravity to hold the structure onto the foundation. Bad idea.

              Have toyed with the idea of poured foundation walls for manufactured homes with deep set bolts and a tie-down plate placed on top of the I-beam sills and secured with a large lock washers and taps.

                1. I’d guess that if mud is moving the house around, the moment something catches it (tree, rock, something tough), the mud is going to crunch the place. The video I’ve seen of the California slides seem to bear this out. I don’t have first hand experience, and mud slides aren’t part of the dangers I have to worry about.

                  1. It does smash when it hits something that can’t move. The only difference is that it doesn’t happen on the foundation, and you might not see a tree.

                    I seem to remember a couple of really stupidly placed houses that had folks survive because they were prefab. (tiny area, didn’t hit any news, years ago)

                    It was still a bad place for a house (on the nice, big, naturally flat area at the bottom of a mountain….AKA, the place that no trees got too big because IT FLOODS) but it moved OK.

          2. Around 20 years ago, we looked into mobile homes, and discovered there were three classes. The first had no storm sheeting, the second did, and the third, rated for coastal areas, had pretty good storm sheeting and rafter to wall attachments. They were also heavier.

            Discovered one highly touted brand was crap. Found a no-name brand that was dang impressive. Alas, don’t know if either are made today.

            1. There’s been a lot of shakeout in the industry. Fleetwood dissolved both the RV and home brands (and sold the names). We checked one out before moving to Oregon and had to get out quickly; way too much formaldehyde in the place. (Also a problem with the RVs.) Another manufacture was having financial problems and was shut down by the state after taking deposits but not delivering homes….

              I heard the manufacturers cutting back/shutting down in 2007, a year before the official housing bubble burst. The local city went from 2 big dealers and a couple of small new/used dealers to maybe one of the small ones. There still seems to be some manufacturing midstate, near Bend. I’ve seen a dealer over in Medford.

              Our place was built in 1999 by a small outfit that did a dozen or so homes a year. It’s a triple-wide, with exterior walls using 2 x 6s (interior non-bearing walls use 2 x 3 fingerjointed studs). It’s insulated well, and the exterior is a good grade of fiber-cement paneling. In general, it’s a decent place.

              Still, a fair number of corners were cut. The roof was stapled onto 7/16″ OSB; I’d rather they’d use 5/8″, and when I redid shingles, I used membrane and felt and roofing nails. The electrical bits ticked me off. Light switches were no-name, and a couple failed. The 15A receptacles used stab-in-the-back wiring, and one failed, not quite starting a fire. Had to redo all the 15A outlets. (The 20s were fine.) Plumbing was basic, and the floor vinyl was tolerable. OEM doors were poorly hung, and I need to replace another four.

              We upgraded, and the place is due for an exterior paint job.

              Installation is up to the dealer/contractors. In our case, there was a slab, and the modules are placed on it. (I assume towed; one module would have had some interesting trees to deal with, but it could have been pulled in place.

              Typically, the house is set, then blocks are installed to seal off the crawlspace. Any ties to the house/block or block/slab are going to be hard to do, so I’m assuming not too much happened to secure it against an earthquake. I just remember that we’re east of the quiet section of the Cascadia subduction zone, and that it’s 150+ miles away. No comments on local faults; they’re poorly mapped, but one did in the county courthouse in the ’90s.

              1. The standard blocks around the sides of a trailer are just as curtain wall. I don’t sneer at them, because one I helped build made a remarkable improvement in winter energy efficiency. But their not load bearing, and concrete has notoriously low tensile strength, which is why there’s rebar.

                The problem my idea always hits is that the attachments could only be on the sides (and middle for doublewides) as you try to drive the trailer between them, or set them in place with a crane.

                Unfortunately, stab-in outlets have been standard in all construction for some years now, and have run into them in my house. Not a big fan of them. The really dangerous thing that trailers used to use was aluminum wiring, with all sorts of problems at the connections.

                BTW, the formaldehyde issue comes from the heavy use of plywood. Maybe that’s changed now.

                1. The original setup for our place had several very large trees within several feet of one module. It might have been possible to drive it into position with careful backing, or it might have been put on dollies and moved sideways. The other modules would have been easy. No idea if they used a crane. There is a layer of plastic above the slab to give the rodents something to chew as they tunneled in; the slab is perforated where support wasn’t necessary to save concrete. So, unless the curtain wall was upgraded to act as a perimeter wall and set with concrete and anchors, I’d be screwed. Fortunately, the only tornado we’ve seen in our area was an EF0 that took a poorly constructed roof from a shed. So far.

                  The stab-in outlets were a very low grade; substantially cheaper than the Levitons sold at Home Depot. No signs of a UL buyoff. The switches were the same lousy grade. Two switches were cracked completely. At least the 20A outlets and the panels were quality construction; I’m fond of Siemans stuff, though I’d not adverse to putting a Square D breaker in one.

                  The formaldehyde was in the particle board/mdf and in the carpet padding if I’m recalling right. At one time, it was used in fiberglass insulation, but a lot of it has been replaced. I didn’t notice any when I did the pumphouse; plywood and/or OSB construction.

                  1. BTW, you know those trailer tie-downs? The ones you screw into the ground and attach straps to? They may not work that well. If they aren’t installed properly, they don’t work at all. You’re supposed to screw them into the ground like an auger, but some folks dig a post hole, pour concrete in it, and set the anchors in that. Problem is, you can pull that sort of thing out of the ground. When I was a younger man, I could do so by hand. That’s not a lot of force.

                    1. I did concrete anchors for the “portable” power system. (6 panels and electronics on a 16′ flatbed trailer.) There’s enough shale for the concrete to tie into to make it solid. So far, it’s handled some 50MPH winds; we don’t get that strong of winds from the north, so the slope of the panels helps a bit.

                      When we do the pumphouse solar, that will be contracted out. One mount company has an engineering tool, and that recommends 7′ deep footings for 3″ posts. That gets into the unbroken shale in the hollow, so the panels should stay put.

              2. Agree with your dislike of stab-in-back receptacles. Years ago, used them in ad-hoc community theater lighting – a high percentage overheated and degraded at 80% rated load, sometimes including letting the smoke out. All good once they were changed out to side-wired.
                Accordingly, I won’t let a stab-in receptacle in my house.

    4. No it’s true – Earthquakes are super ultra terrifying, they happen every week, and the only reason they are not all over the news is Zuckerbook and The Goog suppressing it with Russian News Bots. No one else should ever come to California, and all the people who moved here from elsewhere should all go home.

      signed, a rare CA native

      1. I’m a CA native too, and I’d prefer the state to split into more manageable sections. Of course, I’d also prefer a single water law system instead of the mishmash that we have—I have friends who work or have worked at the DWR and the truth is that everybody’s breaking the law as to use, and their job is to try and keep the state from getting sued over the most illegal stuff. If there was one system, they could at least focus on the worst offenders (I’m looking at Nestle, here, bottling water from public land during the drought on a decades-expired permit.) (And SoCal.)

    5. I was at Travis AFB in California during the 1994 quake. Was watching the evening news, munching on shredded cabbage and ramen noodles before running off to an English Composition course of all things, when the house started doing the Jello routine. I just pushed back into the doorway and watched the telephone poles waving back and forth and the wires whipping up an down for a minute or so before it stopped. A bit later, I watched the news station shaking on TV (They were in Sacramento., so that told me the quake was centered down toward the Bay Area.) Was glad that it happened that day rather than a day earlier or I might have been a widower since depending on timing, my wife would have been caught when the Bay Bridge section dropped out, or worse, when the upper level of the Nimitz Freeway collapsed.

      It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt, or you have to start shelling out for repairs.

      1. The Bay Bridge damage was the ‘89 quake, the Loma Prieta quake centered about 3 miles south of San Jose in the Santa Cruz mountains. 1994 was the Northridge quake down in SoCal.

        1. Christmas! That was ’89? Let’s see, 98-99 Andrews, 95-98 Okinawa, 89-95 Travis, ugh, right events, wrong date. Can I blame it on age and distance in time? How the heck do we human beings remember things correctly when we start living for more than a century?

        2. My sister & husband were at work across from the collapsed bridge where their 3 month toddler was at home with the sitter; sis was barely back to work. Took them hours to get home; each took a different route.

          My one earth quake was late 1980, when Mt St Helen’s had one of her (by then) minor eruptions. Major eruption, we never felt a thing, but the minor one the house rolled. Me “WHAT IS THAT”, hubby “minor earth quake”, guess who is and who isn’t from CA. We were 40 miles from the mountain (just west of I-5).

          Oregon. Pretty sure no good way to secure against earth quakes on most of coast and Willamette Valley. Former is mostly built on sand. Latter built on alluvial soil that will turn to slushy jello in earth quakes. Darn clay.

          1. We’ve got a witch’s brew. A long time ago, it was an inland sea, with chalk and shale as a foundation layer. There were also volcanic bits and pieces all around. Then, when Mount Mazama decided to gender swap to be Crater Lake, a huge amount of pumice ash hit the area. Erosion (wind and water) has moved the pumice downhill. Mostly.

            On our ridges, we’ll have 6-8 inches of soil over shale. In the hollows, I’ve got about 5 feet of pumice/soil before the shale. And, some of the pumice areas have basket-ball sized chunks of obsidian to make life interesting.

            The shale is a puppy-mother to dig/drill through, but if you can do it cleanly and refilled with concrete, it’s a great foundation. The pumice layer will try to scoot downhill if it can; some of the deck (free standing around the house) has moved an inch or two. Had to set heavy stakes on one side to keep the deck in place. Sigh.

            1. I wonder how many people consider building an upward pointed v-wall above their homes and buildings, anchored in the bedrock, for fast landslides or slow hillside creep to divert the material around the structures? Straight retaining walls always get overwhelmed, or bushed over.

    6. I had a co-worker who we had sent to California just in time for the Northridge earthquake. She said she woke up just in time to see the cabinet throw the TV at her. She ran outside and was, luckily, unhurt. We sent her back to CA about three weeks later, just in time for the largest aftershock to hit. When she got back to Massachusetts, we joked that California had called and asked that we no longer send her there since she seems to cause quakes.

    7. The earthquakes I have been in can scarcely count as such. Just a little rumble, “Did you hear that?” type of thing.

      One time, we had initially thought that the quarry a mile from where we were living then had started blasting early, until the people on the radio said, “What was that?!”

        1. $SPOUSE had that happen when she worked in downtown San Jose in one of the high rises. One co-worker was a temp and new to Cali–didn’t come back afterwards.

          1. Exposure to natural disasters is why I don’t mind being a ‘small’ human (not in physical size, the metaphorically insignificant in the scale of the universe sort of ‘small’.) I can be in awe of nature and it’s terrible, terrible force and power and accept that. Oh, sure, I’ll be going “OOOOH FAAAAAAAARRRRK” while also going “THAT IS SO AMAAAAZING – YEAH RUN WE GOTTA RUN”

            My mom told me last night that people are flocking to Mayon Volcano to see it erupt and the running joke is ‘this is going to be the most well-documented eruption in history.’ So I’m not alone in that impression.

        2. 12th floor, Wellington NZ, 1970s… The desks stayed in place. The building swayed under them. Absolutely surreal.

      1. The worst earthquake I’ve been in, I got yelled at for running inside and making noise…while I was sitting down.

        I’d like to KEEP that as the worst natural disaster! (I don’t count blizzards, always been in places it’s normal.)

      2. Once I felt the house shake three times, as if it had been hit by very strong winds. But it was calm. . .

        Relief to hear of the Maine earthquake.

      3. I’m from Illinois. There was one around 1986 or 7, I remember sitting on rhe couch, thinking my brother was behind it shaking it. And then again my last year at UIllinois, so 2008? Felt the building shake; it woke me up about 5 AM. Then I went back to sleep, thinking it was the wind.

        Of course, the following year I moved to Japan. And about a year and a half after arriving, a 7.7 aftershock after a 9.0 a few months earlier? Allrighty then. No worries whatsoever. I’d been in Singapore for the big one, but one of the guys who had been left behind said the shaking lasted for a good five minutes.

        I’m moving back there in June. Not terribly worried, but we’ll see.

    8. Lived in CA twice- never felt an earthquake. My wife did- when I was out at sea. Felt 2 in my current house in central NY. First one was from a quake in PA. The house swayed from side to side. I was on the second floor and it was a little unnerving. Second was at oh-dark-thirty. Quake in upstate NY. House bounced up and down, and the bed shaking woke the both or use up.

      I know of felt one in CA in Vallejo. The gym was in a rickety old wood building, and while I was changing all the basketball players went running through the halls and out the door. Me and a few others thought the small shale we felt was because of the basketball players running out the door… We had just been set in drydock. The boat shifted a few inches on the blocks. The guys on duty felt it big time. A few days was spent discussing whether to refloat and reposition us. We stayed where we settled at.

      1. For those who are unfamiliar with California, Vallejo is a cross between the coast range and the land next to the Bay itself. So anything flat can be assumed to be alluvial soil, otherwise known as “fill”, otherwise known as “that which liquefies in an earthquake.”

  3. I do wonder about the future of the midlisters at the big publishers. From what I’ve read here and at MGC, it sounds like there’s a lot that the publishers CAN do for you if they choose, but usually they don’t. And if you’re going to be doing your own marketing, editing, etc., you’ll eventually start to wonder just what it is that the publishers are doing to earn the lion’s share of the profits from your book.

    It seems that the most likely fates are (1) Traditional publishers will have to start doing more for more of their authors in order to lure some back from indie or (2) Traditional publishers will essentially become vanity presses for people who are convinced they aren’t “real” writers unless they have a traditional contract. Given current trends, I would say (2) is the way to bet.

    On an unrelated note, very much looking forward to Alien Curse. White Lady did its job in making me very curious about Art III and wanting to hear more about him. Write faster so you can take my money!

    1. actually there’s 3 which is what I think will happen. The surviving publishers will mostly take already bestsellers, print the books, take them on tour, and sell massive numbers of paper books as “mementos of my experience in meeting my favorite author.”
      Anymore the only time paper books sell well seems to be at shows, where the author is present. And they sell best for already big authors.

      1. Is it possible that any of the publishers will start offering their backrooms (developmental/continuity/proof editing, layout, covers) as a la carte contract service shops to indy individuals or small groups of the same, to stay alive? Or is the blindness and hate too strong?

          1. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see some of the staff- copy editors, artists, so on- doing some freelance work and realizing they can do better there, too. The advantages of working for an established publishing house seem to be shrinking fast, and we’re not the only ones to see it.

              1. Probably get more & more, if there’s an efficient way to connect freelance staff with indie authors.

          2. The reason at least two Southern Baptist publishers are based in Nashville, Tn, is because the city was once the printing capitol of the United States. Today, Printer’s Alley is known for bars, not printing. Things change.

            Will NYC once day have Publisher’s Row, a strip of clubs in the same general neighborhood the big publishers called home?

              1. FWIW, Lifeway is on top of the hill on Commerce Street, while down at the bottom, near the river, are clubs. Interesting contrast. ATT is by the clubs. Make of that what you will.

                Roughly halfway down Commerce you turn right on 5th Avenue and there’s the Ryman Auditorium. It looks like a church because that was roughly the original intent. It became the original home of the Grand Ole Oprey. So it goes.

        1. Traditional pub has bad editing and errors too. I just finished re-reading a Baen book by Drake on PAPER and it had two errors cooked in big enough to jar me out of the moment. That’s hard to do with me.
          Difference is, people will accept that and read right over it but they won’t forgive a lesser error in a Indie book. So you get review raving about go get an editor like they are a holy priesthood and infallible.

          1. That’s the big advantage of indie getting the staff free-lance: they have to compete with others offering the same service, you don’t just get the editor next up in the rotation. The best ones will have all the work they can do (and then some).

          2. Difference is, people will accept that and read right over it but they won’t forgive a lesser error in a Indie book.
            No, we don’t. I’m exactly the opposite of that.

      2. I think you’re right on that. eBooks are nice for once-through reads, but we still can’t fit the entire Library of Congress on a single pocket device that does phone, photography, browsing, e-mail, etc., and can hold a day’s worth of charge (yet). If I’m hankering to read multiple times, I’m going to look for a dead tree version, if only a paperback. And yes, if I’m running into Sarah, or Larry, or Steven, etc. at a con. and coughing out extra for a signing, I’m going to want it on a hard cover book so it actually lasts.

        1. “(yet)”

          It won’t be long. The Samsung PM1633a is a 2.5″ 16TB SSD that sells for a mere $10K (as of July 2016). Library of Congress est. 10 TB.

          1. Agree. External devices. Multiple eBook apps. Switching apps on device is trivial. I can be reading multiple books at the same time on the same device.

        2. I basically don’t trust electronics. I don’t trust that someone won’t delete my library for badthink. I don’t trust that the sun won’t decide it’s time for a Carrington event. I’ve killed a couple hard drives-cracked killed-I don’t trust electronics.
          Which is ironic, since the most likely natural disaster here is wildfire, and paper books burn, too.

          1. Backups aren’t hard and don’t need any software. Did one last night before I started poking about to take care of a minor issue. All I did was make a folder on my desktop, connect the reader, and drag the contents to the folder. This doesn’t remove DRM, which means the files are tied to that particular reader, but it does mean that they can’t be deleted from afar.

            1. I didn’t say they’re not easy.
              If someone (amazon, .gov) has decided you shouldn’t have that book anymore, and then you lose your backup for whatever reason, you’re just as out of luck.
              Not that we have THAT book. Donated it to a book sale, maybe the University Women’s club, ages ago. It was just after the tragic canoe accident, you know?

            2. I do both. Not drag content off the device (because Nook Chrome App “hides” downloaded files) but Windows Nook App does not. So I save the original books in a different location and I remove the DRM lock, and safe that file. Already been through the “disappearing” source site (granted, 2 of the 3 sites that went away were purchased by B&N and eventually showed up in my Nook Library; eventually), plus there was the disaster* with Amazon removing peoples contents without permission. (*YMMV) I even have a way to share eBooks with my mom … she has my old Nook; 100% encouraged and legal.

      3. My wife is still fond of paper books. I suspect she’s done with hardcover unless Zombie Sue Grafton puts out Z is for Zxxx.

    2. “And if you’re going to be doing your own marketing, editing, etc., you’ll eventually start to wonder just what it is that the publishers are doing to earn the lion’s share of the profits from your book.”

      That’s pretty much the conclusion that the members of my on-line writing support group were doing in 2008, 2009 — and a good few of them had experience in establishment publishing, as editors, graphic artists, or who had friends and spouses that were published by one of the big 5. If you were doing the lions’ share of the work, and paying for your own publicity anyway, and being paid a pittance as far as advances went … well, why not do it yourself, and have complete control.

      Some of these early indy writers did manage to get a contract with Big Publishing, on the strength of their indy-published work. I’m pretty certain that I would not be tempted – it’s the control that I like. And I’ve done 17 books since I started with a collection of blog posts that readers of my first blog wanted, so I don’t know what they could offer me anyway, except for maybe a really skilled editor…

  4. The Great Unanswered Question, re. self-publishing*, is how do readers sort through the slush? I’ve not seen anyone, anywhere, answer this question. People who’ve been traditionally published who then move on to self-publishing are rising on the past quality control provided by the traditional publisher, and are far more “hybrid” writers than they are purely self-publishers. I have no idea, as a reader, how to avoid wasting my precious time when dealing with self-published stuff. Until there’s some sort of quality control to weed out the endless, massive, dreck, the only way for me to find people to read is through traditional means, regardless of whether those traditionally-published writers also include some self-publishing in their mix. (I’ve had a couple of writers I liked change to self-publishing, and there work suffered horribly as a result. One did later return to traditional publishing because of the drop in her quality of work and therefore her readership while self-publishing.)

    Short version: until you give me a gatekeeper to perform quality control, I’m going to look for a traditional publisher’s imprimatur.

    *I’m avoiding the term “indie,” because to me, and any many people, this phrase refers to small, traditional publishers who vet & edit their publications to the same or even more stringent degree than the Big 5. Acting as if there is only self-publishing and the Big 5 ignores the small, independent and/or literary traditional/vetted publishers who are offering the highest quality and most innovative work going.

    1. a) it’s not slush. No, seriously. People who do the thing and do it more than once are way past slush. b) there isn’t markedly more out than I’d face in a book store. c) the quality is about the same.
      YOU ALWAYS DID QUALITY control. Even the best publishing house didn’t align perfectly with every reader’s tastes.
      I read a ton, mostly indie because I’m cheap. It doesn’t take me longer nor do I reject more than I used to.
      The people who imagine piles of slush are nuts.
      Slush was the stuff that got sent from house to house sometimes for decades. Yep, some of it was very bad.
      Now if someone puts a book out and it’s very bad, no one buys it and it stops showing up on searches and also boughts. The end.

      1. @Kell: Searches, ‘also bought’, and comments ARE the gatekeeper – you just have to be as willing to look at them as you would to, say, ask a hotel concierge where a good place is to eat. The small investment of time gets you better results (i.e.not only better quality, but more in line with your interests) than tradpub’s gatekeeping/”marketing” efforts do.

      2. For the most part I have stopped shopping for SF/F at bookstores because I estimate >90% will not interest me. Last time I went to Borders I pulled probably a dozen books to consider and only when I sat down with them did I notice each one was published by Baen.

        As publishers have focused on offering books they think I should read (as opposed to books I want to read) I find that their quality control is largely eliminating the qualities I seek.

        Just as long ago the Hugo and Nebula Awards indicated books I might enjoy, more and more they indicate a book I will surely hate.

        Checking Indy books online is scarcely harder than scanning shelves in a book store and the publishers’ pretty packaging never was an indicator of any quality of readability.

        1. There are no longer any new book stores in my area, but when there were, the big Baen logo was a “do not want.”

          It was only recently – long after those stores vanished – that I found that Baen printed anything *other* than mil-SF, because that’s the only part of their lineup the McBookStores ever stocked.

      3. I think I’ll disagree… slightly. I think there is “more slush” simply by virtue of “indie” allowing anyone to put their dreck out there as the gatekeepers are being over-ridden. Mind you, that doesn’t mean the gatekeepers are good, just that they did keep out some portion of the blecch (along with some portion of the good).

        Here’s my experience:
        I used to read lots of SF/F. I went to the bookstores and looked at what was on the shelves (we’re talking 30-40 years ago). Some of it was awful, imo, but I took it as merely different tastes. But, for a long time, I assumed the really old process was working – writers submitted manuscripts, publishers looked at them with an eye toward whether the story was any good, and paid for the ones they thought would sell – and I was getting the best of what was being offered up.

        So, after seeing a decline in books for a while (I’m sure this is where all of the background publishing stuff you all have described was having its effect) I stopped reading as much. I despaired of finding decent books, especially as the SF/F section seemed to be becoming nothing but vampires (often sparkly ones, or “evil is really good” ones) and heroines.

        Then, I started into Amazon and B&N (hey, don’t judge, I had a Nook). I started finding more stuff. And, now, I have to sort through a bunch of stuff that is not well-written, or is crappy story-telling. (And the “you might be interested in…” is not always helpful, since it relies on Amazon’s categorization of books. I find a lot of “well, he read this book [mediocre, but entertaining enough for $2 or $3] so he’ll like this book [load of SJW tripe masquerading as badly written SF/F].”) And the problem is that I can’t sort through it by standing there and reading a few random selections. (Also, the back-cover blurbs usually gave me enough info to know whether to risk trying something new.) The Amazon blurbs don’t always give me good info.

        But, since more of the books are cheap, I can buy more of them, willing to delete the ones that suck. And, since I like to read, I have a stack (on my Kindle, and in paper). I’m reading more now than I did 10 years ago.

        1. actually I don’t find more to reject, once past the blurb stage.
          The thing is the true no-hopers I know? They’re trying for traditional. They’re trying so hard.

          1. once past the blurb stage.

            I can understand that (I think), the drek shows up in the blurbs (more often than not).

            1. Yes, it can. But there are also some awful blurbs on decent books. So, I have to go beyond the blurbs. Which is where I get into reading some of the bleh stuff.
              But, as I have read more, I think I can read the blurbs better, too.

              I do not read enough at this point to justify the KU price (on *top* of Amazon Prime).

              I’ll point out, though, I’m not complaining about weeding through the stuff. I think I’ve found some gems because of it, as well as having read some junk. And some of those gems would definitely not be on any shelves in B&N. (Including some of the MegaPacks of old SF/F stuff, which I thoroughly enjoy.)

              1. some awful blurbs on decent books.

                Case in point, the original blurb for Barbara Hambly’s Bride Of The Rat-God.

                I purchased that book (in paperback) in spite of the cover and blurb.

                Her name sold me on it and I wasn’t disappointed. 😀

                1. “Her name sold me on it and I wasn’t disappointed.”
                  That’s pretty much how I shop for cash purchases. I appreciate the advice on how cheap it is to winnow through the ebooks. However, since well over half my library was purchased at the real library’s book sales ($1 most books, $2.50 max), it’s almost as cheap…just takes more room to store.
                  But, I write in the margins, so that’s my main reason for keeping hard copies.

          2. I bought 1 book because of the blurb–actually the Single Cell Preface. The preface was hilarious; the book meh! I’m interested though, does anybody take the time to read the sample available on many Amazon books, or just the blurbs?

            1. If I am browsing to look for a buy, I’ll click on the “look inside” preview thing if the blurb sounds OK.
              That filters out most of the annoying stuff.

              (most of the books I buy, I’m there because I already know I’ll like them– either someone I REALLY trust has suggested it, or it’s a known good author)

              1. I agree about recommendations. I’ve just been looking at recent purchases, and that’s the MAJORITY of my purchases. If I’m on the fence, I’ll look inside.
                Oh, and those excerpts posted here?
                I’ve bought SEVERAL books on that basis. Several that were in different genres than I usually buy.

            2. ***Scratches head***

              Does anyone not read the free samples? I’ve been burned by blurbs before (sorry, Trusted Author!)

              Note to authors: leave a long enough sample to hook the prospective buyer. You get paid the same: you aren’t selling pies.

            3. I read the samples, unless I know and love the author enough to be certain I won’t be disappointed. Terry Prattchett and Bernard Cornwell need no sample or blurb to convince me to pay up! 😉

    2. Also, FYI if your author’s work changed, and it’s not just your unconscious prejudice (I vote for the later, because I’ve noticed that no one sees typos in my trad work, but let it be indie… even the exact same, reprinted version) then they were getting prime editing. If they were getting that, they were bestsellers. Since bestsellers are still being traditionally published, I think we must default to prejudice.

      1. And some may be the fact that editing has, over several decades, gone downhill, imo. And that may be what he is seeing – more and better editing from decades old publishing to the current “what, a spellchecker doesn’t count?” level that seems to be in *every* bit of publishing nowadays.

        So, yeah, maybe prejudice to derive the perception stated.

        1. As a side note on editing going downhill, I read some of David Drake’s fantasy stuff–a nine book series, published between 1997 and 2008–and noticed that the last three books had more typos and mistakes than the six books before them.

      2. but let it be indie… even the exact same, reprinted version

        I can attest to that. Although I am a person who sees the typos and minor errors in both versions. The difference, is that with Indie, there’s a chance you can contact the publisher, let them know the mistakes you found, and they can produce a clean copy. Trad pub, doesn’t do that.

        1. Which is one reason people complain about them in e-books more than print: there’s a better chance of getting an updated version, usually for free.

          1. I don’t even perceive it as “complaining” per se. It’s more of a chance to get the best book possible, which means greater likelihood of being purchased by other people, which goes to “Author Gets Paid,” which goes to a greater likelihood of the author not having to quit writing to pay for kibble.

            It’s this “win/win” nature of the relationship between readers and creators that is going to (barring some kind of fascist intervention) eat trad pub’s lunch.

    3. Some is by author.. some is by recommendation… some is by… well, the “similar works” might help. But sometime interpretation of genre turns me off. I like a mystery, an adventure, but if I say “Urban Fantasy” (which the Night Shifter seems to fall under, but it was perhaps my first exposure to such or the term) I tend to get told how “gritty” and even violent things are as if that was a selling point when, to me, it’s a turn off. If I wanted that, well let’s just say there was a war that came into the living room and the results weren’t good and I don’t care to have something similar. (This is why, while the Monster Hunter stuff might be great.. I can only take it in small doses. I started listening to the second audiobook… a few months ago. I think I might have made it to the second chapter, but I’ve forgotten). It’s not so much wanting a gatekeeper, for me, but to have an index that means what I think it means… or whose meaning I can discern without excessive study.

    4. I’ve found plenty of “drek” from traditional publishers.

      As far as finding good stuff from “indies”, “word of mouth”, “Amazon free samples”, “reading blurbs” (many authors of drek can’t can’t write good blurbs), etc.

      Yes, the reader has to do more research to find good indie books but there’s only one “traditional publisher” that I currently trust to not publish drek and that’s Baen Books. Some Baen Books aren’t “my taste in reading material” but they aren’t drek.

      As for the term “indie”, some indie writers are self-published and some have gotten together with “small publishers”.

      One of my favorite indie authors has books self-published and has books published by small publishers.

      1. the reader has to do more research
        Yeah. But, as you point out, the pile of crap from the regular publishers has grown, too. The sorting might be harder than it was at some point in the past, but the tradpub houses aren’t really doing it, either (at least not for the values that I would sort for).

        So, yes, but it has to be done, anyway.

      2. The nice thing about indie is that if you buy a book that turns out to be drek, you’re only out $1.99-4.99 max at Kindle price instead of $28 for a hardcover or, increasingly, $10 and up for a paperback. And I’ve found enough good books via indie – from Chris Nuttall, Richard Fox and C.J. Carrella, for but three examples – that the occasional stinker goes unnoticed.

        And honestly, the last time I looked at a print book that didn’t have the Baen imprint on it was Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn.” And for the price they wanted for it, I was more than happy to keep right on looking. Sorry, Tim, but I’m going to have to pick that one up at the used book store . . .

    5. It’s admittedly a matter of opinion rather than fact, but with one (often mentioned here & on MGC) exception SF&F publishers today, *for me* function as gatekeepers the same way the Hugo’s do.

      That is to say they tell me that whatever the gatekeepers chose is something *I* will probably find less entertaining than a random pick from a genre of interest on KULL.

      Now Baen OTOH…

        1. The real problems with mystery:
          – too many “let’s describe the killing/torture in excessively graphic terms, essentially violence-porn”
          – a plethora of “bright, FUNNY” (not) or themed (crocheting, cooking, or other crafts) books that read as though a previous book was run through the Find & Replace feature for a “new” book
          – frankly boring plots
          – an ending that is smack out of “how the he(( did that happen” – no clues, trails, or foreshadowing
          – cardboard women (ALL with incredible looks and no flaws)
          – cardboard men (ALL with the same boring flaws and a willingness to be lead around the nose by a woman

          Cr@p. Just – cr@p. It’s KILLING the genre.

    6. The problem with that, of course, is the question of whether the traditional publishers’ gatekeeping actually means higher quality. Based on what I’ve seen, I am inclined to doubt it.

      1. Higher quality, probably — but not necessarily the qualities I am seeking.

        I don’t care how high quality a Vegan restaurant is, and if I should happen to stop in to look over the menu they best not harangue me about how good for me their provender is.

        1. I expect about the same result from tradpub’s gatekeeping as I would get if I asked the waiter in that Vegan restaurant to recommend a steak…

        2. If somebody is cooking the Most Awesome vegetables ever, I will be understanding about the Vegan thing.

          Amusingly, one of the world’s best meat chefs is a vegetarian. Just very good at cooking by looks, consistency, and smell.

          1. Bring on the Vogon poetry, I’d prefer it (or even [shudder] SJW Sci Fi) to a vegan restaurant. Not absolutely opposed to vegetarian food (e.g lots of nice Indian dishes I like) but the tone of most vegetarian restaurants with turning it into a moral issue instead a culinary one. Most days I agree with my cats though; Vegetables are what food eats.

          2. Lmao!!! I’m a meat eater, but have no problem with good vegetarian food, and make plenty of it myself, but most vegetarians, and vegans are the worst, seem to never have learned to cook, and certainly never tasted good food! I’d more likely walk into a Thai or Indian restaurant and order something and ask for no meat than go to a vegan restaurant. In fact I’ve done that often.
            And love the vogon poetry reference! That’s hilarious!

        3. The owner/chef of the restaurant “Dirt Candy” would probably agree with you. She’s extremely adamant that her restaurant is a “vegetable restaurant” and NOT a “vegetarian” restaurant. She thinks that “vegetarian restaurant” or, even worse, “vegan restaurant” is an insult, as it implies that only vegetarians/vegans would want to eat there. Her restaurant just specializes in vegetables, does them very well, and she doesn’t care what her customers eat or don’t eat elsewhere.

    7. I’m a KU mega-consumer. Maybe 10 books a week.
      The marginal cost of checking something out is five minutes of my time.

      You have one page to get me interested. You can be formulaic, but some minuets are better than others.

      You have maybe 5 pages for me to care about at least one character.

      I’m usually gone at the first sign of Pink. But I’ve been known to read entire loathsome series as tutorials in agitprop.

      If I like it, I’ll KU the rest of your output until you’re too-obviously milking your franchise.

      1. Yep. This. And I read about 20 books a week. (Not counting research.) most of them are pap. Inoffensive pap. I particularly like these when I’m not feeling well. I used to get them from used bookstores by the bag full. Now they’re cheaper (5 minutes is too much. A lot get rejected on blurb. As they did at the used bookstore.)
        I was thinking just the other day that it used to be a high treat, twice a year to go to the book store and buy “all you can read” and now I have it at my fingertips, for 9.99 a month. When I went to the bookstore they ran into the hundreds every year. It’s cheaper and BETTER.

            1. OT a bit….
              The Air Force survival booklet that was tucked into aircraft survival kits was obviously paper back in the old days. That made it tri-purpose (read it for tips, then use it to wipe and to start fires).
              Then, in the late 80s, they wanted a more durable version. So they went to a sturdy plastic thing. The comment from experienced survival guys was “Well, now you know what thing to throw away first if you have to move out and need to lighten your load.” (Yes, it was bulkier and heavier than the old paper pamphlet.)

          1. I just got rid of my 1977 Encyclopedia Brittanica. (Kept the 3 volume Webster’s and the atlas). When I remembered that the last article I read was a decade ago, and I had a serious disagreement with their take on coyotes, (they thought that people who dislike ’em are deplorables. Huh, a few decades early.) I realized I had 5 feet of shelf space where I could rescue some books from storage in the barn/shop. I hate to have to climb a ladder and duck under a roof truss to get a history book.

            1. I lucked into a 1911 Britannica (11th edition) – $5 for the 29-volume set! – and won’t get rid of it. Compared to modern encyclopedias it has about 4 times the amount of verbiage per page, and I know the data isn’t infected with today’s PC tripe (just the tripe from before The Great War).
              Fun just to surf the articles…

              1. Lucky you! I keep saying every day how much I would love a nice big old thesaurus and dictionary! The online shit is a joke! I had the real deal when I was a kid and loved it!

                1. I made an especial point of tracking down at least a 199..6? Encyclopedia Britannica and a few other ones. I actually have two copies; I was able to find a second seller who was selling a set that had the Supplementary Books I think until… just before 2012. So I got the second set and I will donate one set to my family back in PH; though if I had more money I’d try to track down another to donate to the library my mom and her friend are still planning (on hold because the friend is struggling to recover from a stroke.) Even out of ‘date’ a lot of the general information is still accurate and will give a serious student a solid grounding for research.

                  Anyone remember the big arse Random House Encyclopedia? That was a beaut for a bunch of quick info about pretty much everything. I was able to get the slightly updated version second hand.

                  If I ever get enough space I’d actually like to get the old 1911 Encyclopedias and similar books. They’re good for ‘this is what they knew’ and reference for style and such, when I don’t have good libraries at hand. (Local ones tend to have rather modern books, not the older stuff, which annoys me.)

                  1. Awesome! Older would be better for the genre I write. Its fantasy with a sort of viking feel to it, but these are no vikings. Not even human. And set in a different world/s.

                  2. Have my heart set on a 1911 set as well. Surprisingly they can be gotten fairly cheaply as in $300 cheap for a complete set. Just need the shelf space for them is all and the money. 🙂

    8. It’s probably as pointless to pursue this as it would be to argue with someone saying “buggy whips are so a good investment” or “AT&T and GE will never lose value, they’re for windows and orphans”, but I think there are some important points here. (Oh, and by the way, nice rhetorical try with dropping “indie” to go back to the traditional and pejorative “self-published”, but we all saw you try to palm that card.)

      (1) Railing against independent e-book publishing is as pointless as, indeed, railing against the loss of buggy whip manufacturing. The fact is that the incremental cost of delivering an e-publication is 10^-8 — 0.00000001 — times as much as physical printing. EVERY traditional publisher is organized as a manufacturing company that delivers processed wood pulp; none of them are going to survive long-term in their current form when the electronic format has a cost advantage of 100 million times. Some are trying to hide from this, like Penguin, which actually prices its ebooks higher than hardbacks. None of them will succeed.

      (2) Traditional publishers preserved their “gatekeeper” status because the cost of entry in the processed wood pulp business was high enough that it kept smaller entrants out, or forced them into partnerships with the big players. Tax laws, union requirements, accounting changes, and a multitude of other factors, apparently minor in themselves, cumulatively forced publishing into a peculiar monopoly/monopsony where only a very few companies both control the market in getting books distributed and in buying content. The effect of independent e-publishing is that those barriers to entry are now gone, again as an effect of the cost advantage as well as the (similar in magnitude) cost advantage the Web provides for advertising.

      The point here is this: as with censorship (with which it’s closely related), the Internet treats gatekeepers as damage and routes around them. I suspect that some of this “gatekeeping” function will eventually be partially replaced by reader-driven reviews and by people skilled at promotion taking on the work of getting exposure for indie-published work. But it won’t stay the province of traditional publishers.

      1. Your last two sentences are already happening. I get regular emails from Book Laser, BookBub, Rob Kroese, Renee Pawlish, and some others. The author emails often include recommendations for books from other writers, too.

            1. I know people who still rely on snail mail.

              But yes, my email is useful to force feed me events that I intend to attend but may forget to look up ahead of time to find out costs, actual dates, etc….

            2. I’ve been signed up for medical patient information with my doctors and insurance. They combine email and the web services; usually a short email telling me there’s relevant content and a link to the web page.

              1. PSA, make sure they don’t put important information in that.

                I keep getting emails from a Lady’s Clinic that is WAY TMI and makes me wonder about HIPA issues, because the lady’s email is foxfire…..

                1. The email generally says something like “We have information for you at Docs’r’”. with a link that points to the signin page. I’ve never seen anything that ran close to a HIPAA violation, though the utility of the information varies a lot.

    9. Finding books isn’t a problem for me. Finding the time to read them is. Between “Customers Also Bought” and the occasional mention online (e.g. Ruby Lionsdrake came up on Mad Genius Club) to shake up the recommendations, I have more than enough.

      I’m currently reading a series that I can’t seem to put down despite at least twice per book screaming (out loud) “you need a copy editor!!!” I’ve been giving them four stars – after all, I am on book 13; it can’t be that bad.

      I remember waiting and waiting for next-in-series to come out (Mr. Jordan, Ms. Lackey, and Ms. Kurtz, I’m looking at you). Now my read-everything authors, as a group, are writing faster than I can read. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

    10. When you have a sample of the book to read that’s a tenth of the book it’s pretty easy. Most of the time you can tell in a page if not a paragraph.

    11. Personally, between here and a couple other sites I get more recommendations (~85% of which have been good) then I have time to read which then gives me a large enough list of authors that it will be many years before I run out of new books to read.

    12. “The Great Unanswered Question, re. self-publishing*, is how do readers sort through the slush?”

      I’ll answer that for you: The same way you sort through the slush coming out of the Traditional Publishers. If you think that independent publishers are the only ones with a quality control issue, take a trip to your local Barnes and Noble/Books a Million/National Chain Bookstore and see what passes for “exciting new releases!” these days.

    13. Umm … what quality control? I just finished an e-book from a major publisher, a title I’ve wanted to read for roughly two decades now, and the formatting was nothing to brag about. The book had hard coded fonts, which may have the same look at the hard copy, but was slightly difficult to read. That was a poor decision for a book that was strictly text (no tables or such). There were just a few other formatting issues. I’ve seen worse from traditional publication, but, considering the mucho dinero traditional publication claims e-books require, it goes beyond sad straight to pitiful.

      I know because I’ve formatted several e-books for myself. The typos and most formatting errors are because no one reviewed the final product. In short, little to no quality control. The fixed font type was just cluelessness.

    14. *looks at the stuff coming out of traditional publishing*

      Well, when I get better product for free by hitting Fan Fiction dot whatzit and hitting “random” until I see a story description I am interested in than I can get by doing the same thing with the back of books, the question is more along the lines of “would a total random search be better than the current slush pile sorting being done”?

      You have to ask friends for recommendations, or kiss a lot of frogs, to find anything decent that’s trad published– not going to hold a less expensive product to a higher standard.

  5. Somewhere, I think, we have a book illustrated by Brian Froud, although searching the web for it suggests it might have been a single panel illustration, bearing the logo “And then all at once it was the Middle Ages.”

    Because there was, of course, no such turning of the ages, and the change is only notable in retrospect. People keep on keeping on while all around them changes large and small accumulate and suddenly, you look up and – Hey, Presto! – you’re in a different reality.

    People involved in the publishing of books are not likely to notice the trend toward Indy because from their perspective there hasn’t been much change. There are still more authors clamoring for publication than can be published, and if the advances and bonuses haven’t kept up with inflation, well! that’s a minor thing and likely to work itself out in time.

    What is not observable from their ivory towers is that the authors begging their indulgence are not the innovative ones, the ones who changed the idea of what should be published, the ones whose works pull in new readers. Frankly, the publishers found <I<those writers to be somewhat of pains in their rears, often difficult to package and market and their sales unreliable to project. There’s still a wide river of writers coming through the publisher’s canal and if that is getting shallower and side streams are developing, well, that’s happened before and it only wants one hit book to refresh the flow.

    Except the stream is changing its bed, the Mississippi is shifting its mouth away from New Orleans and not all the efforts of the Engineers can dissuade it. Their houses were built on that stream and rely on it, but the list of publishers able to face the change is extremely short indeed. While lots of small fishers are casting their nets in the new course the old line has too much invested in the old river to shift.

    But eventually even the greatest river shifts.

    1. “And then all at once it was the Middle Ages.”

      Because there was, of course, no such turning of the ages, and the change is only notable in retrospect. People keep on keeping on while all around them changes large and small accumulate and suddenly, you look up and – Hey, Presto! – you’re in a different reality.”
      You only know you were in an epoch of history after it’s over and the historians give it a name.
      Remember it wasn’t the FIRST World War until there was a Second one.

      1. Yes indeed. When I was in high school I looked it up in the family encyclopedia that dated from the late 30’s. It had an entry for “World War, The”.

  6. “I have no idea, as a reader, how to avoid wasting my precious time when dealing with self-published stuff.”

    When I was doing reviews for a couple of places, I didn’t want to waste my time with a horrible book since I’d have to read the damn thing to do a fair review. So – the Read Inside feature on Amazon was my Best Friend Forever. Skim a couple of sample chapters – and make up your own mind if you want to read the rest.

    1. We had a customer at Dangerous Visions back in the day, a Russian emigre’, which meant he was better schooled in English than most LA college grads. He had a rule. He’d pick a book off the new arrivals and open to one random page. If there was a single infelicitous sentence he would put the book back and pronounce it a bad book.

      He was never, in my experience, wrong.

  7. We are seeing this dynamic playing out in the MSM with their hair-on-fire coverage of the Trump Administration. In 1980 they could get away with such reporting on the Reagan White House (sort of) but now? They’ve destroyed their credibility with everyone but themselves and resemble no one so much as Captain Queeg going on about the strawberries.

    1. Yeah, well… The problem with this specific correlation is that, there by the end, Captain Queeg is realizing just how ridiculous he really sounds, and the officers of the court martial board are looking at him with the dawning realization that he’s nucking futs…

      You’re never, ever going to see the mass media or most of its viewers gain similar self-awareness. Even after they drag Hillary and Obama off to (theoretical…) prison, they’re gonna be in deep denial, and saying that it’s all an Evul Rethuglican ™ plot…

        1. I think Kirk’s point is that the MSM are in denial and will never realize they’ve crossed the line. Less Queeg, more Hugh Hefner still thinking he’s attractive to women.

          1. Well, I suspect that women were always more attracted to Hugh Hefner’s money than to him. 😈

    2. Was stuck with only network news for the past week. The MO is downright tiresome:

      1. Report shocking allegation. Do not investigate the validity of the allegation. If the allegation comes from another “accepted” news source, so much the better.

      2. Mention the allegation in related stories as though it is proven. Repeat.

      The watershed moment in MSM hatchet jobs has to be Dan Rather and CBS New’s “Bush scandal” with the document that looks like it was composed in Microsoft Word. I had to suffer through a rebroadcast of the 60 Minutes fiftieth anniversary special, and noticed that CBS couldn’t quite bring themselves to admit the document was fake.

      The other nauseating thing was the repeated claims of Russia “meddling” in US democracy (gee, and I thought we were a republic). I supposed it only counts as “meddling” if the public doesn’t vote the way the Democrat’s propaganda arm tells them. What does it say that the American voters had to reply on hackers to report what US news organizations should have in the first place>?

      1. In a couple of weeks, I get to do the other cornea buff-and-polish. (First eye is recovering nicely; damned nearsighted, but I just got some temporary specs to make driving less, er, interesting.) Last trip, the TV never got turned on, but the WiFi was good. I’ll do the same again.

  8. Two things you probably ought to be doing in preparation of “R-Day”. (Revolution Day, Rotten Day, Run Like the Dickens’ Day. etc.)

    (1) Disaster Preparedness: 2 weeks minimum (6 to 12 weeks is better, Mormon’s enjoin each other to have a full years worth stocked away) of food, water, toilet paper, warm clothing, cooking fuel and implements, flashlights and batteries, working guns and ammo that you know how and when to use, first aid kits (When the SHTF I want more than just a first aid kit, I want to be able to perform emergency surgery. I know enough to do an appendectomy or C-section with a better than 50% chance of the person (and baby) living through it, although I’m going to need a full bottle of whiskey and a night to sleep it off afterwards.) Speaking of which, booze and fuel both make good trade goods in disasters. Warning: Do not let other people know YOU have an emergency stash. Too many of them may try to take it away from you, especially if they are acting as, or on behalf of, the government. Hence the guns and ammo.

    (2) Get the hell out of Dodge. You have 1, 5, 10, or 30 minutes to grab what you can carry, toss it in the car, and drive like mad leaving everything else behind you. Think you’re best buddy called you to warn you that you have 5 minutes to get away before the a 100-strong gang of the MS-13/Bloods/Hell’s Angels/etc. descends on your house to rape, torture, and kill you and everyone in your family before they go on to destroy the town and take over the state. You’re heading to Canada or Mexico to live for the rest of your life. Robert Heinlein had a couple of novels where his wise characters advised just this action when faced with these scenarios. Keep a couple of already stocked and packed bug out bags easily accessible for each of you in the family that you can grab, throw, and go. Oh, and have 2 or 3 different destinations planned so you can select or discard if necessary.

    Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they won’t be after you. If you leave the decision on who survives up to Nature, she can be a real mother. Select yourself.

    1. I still chuckle when I think of the panel I attended on ‘post-apocalyptic fiction’ at a small con. First thing the panelists said? “In the event of actual apocalypse…well, we advise you to have made friends with your Mormon neighbors. Then they might share with you. :D”

      (It’s not a bad practice, food/necessity storage, in the event of hard times in general, whether that’s something like ‘out of a job’ or ‘dealing with long term illness and finances are tight’ all the way up to ‘it’s possible society just collapsed.;

      1. So is making friends with your friendly former archaeologist. Probably lived abroad in appalling conditions with little to no medical care, dealt with violent people on occasion, knows how to find water and shelter, lived rule 6P… *chuckle* Might even know the cave systems that aren’t on any maps.

        Mormons are in my experience good, honest, hard working people. There just happens to be a paucity of such folks in the Southeast (they tend to congregate in pockets. If you’re not close to one, well, tough luck). On the other hand, if you’re rural, the legacy of Sherman means there’s quite a few that got by okay during the Dust Bowl incident, largely due to hard lessons learned. Cellars are still stocked, and there’s more than a few that could point to the closest clean water source outside of the tap, a salt lick, or a good place to hunt deer away from town.

        Not that I’d expect any such thing to be necessary, mind. More likely is just local disasters, the occasional slow slip in the economy, and what age brings us all should we survive.

        1. “Mormons are in my experience good, honest, hard working people. There just happens to be a paucity of such folks in the Southeast”
          Here’s a way to find some Mormon friends near you: go to, access the Meetinghouse Locator (at the bottom of the page), and enter your address or a reasonable facsimile. You’ll see all the meetinghouses (wards) in your vicinity. Anyone you meet there can probably help you learn what we do to be prepared for disasters.
          However, if you don’t want a face-to-face, then just search “LDS emergency preparedness” for great sites (not all sponsored by the church) on just about everything mentioned today.
          One example:

          On a side note, not quite so cheerful, I read some ages ago an interview with a motorcycle gang member (possibly Hell’s Angels, which were somehow big news in even the MSM at the time), that his emergency plan was to know where all the Mormons in his area lived — you can guess that he wasn’t going to ask them nicely to share.
          However, he may not have been aware that many LDS members are big supporters of the NRA.

          1. I can kind of guess why he wouldn’t– they’re usually dressed so nice and all, and I get the impression you Don’t Talk About That from a couple of our neighbors.

            Which just goes to show that evil and stupid do kinda go together. “Hey, I plan to attack you in the case of an emergency!” “Er…noted?”

            1. We have a huge LDS community here. Was talking with one such businessman, and his suggestion to deal with the local wolf problem was downright practical. Illegal, but practical. No, I wouldn’t want to try to take a Morman’s food stash. I suspect I’d be well perforated.

              1. Now you’re going to make me curious but unable to ask, to prevent any research… I wonder if it’s anything like the old cowboy trick of shooting one that’s towards the front in the gut.
                It has…shark feeding frenzy type results.

                1. The specific approach that I heard hasn’t been tried just yet. Right now, the state is offering $5000 for information as to the 3 wolves that turned up dead. Nobody’s willing to talk. The state decided that we really need wolves, so they introduced several and have radio collars on most. That way they know which wolf is doing damage. Not that they’re willing to do anything about it. The local wolves have been pretty solitary; not seeing many packs just yet.

                  There’s one rancher west of the Cascades who’s lost a few cows to wolves. The state keeps paying him, but he’s getting fed up.

                  1. The year they introduced them to Washington we had several cows not come back– my folks assumed they’d walked into an illegal pot farm and been “harvested.”

                    Got to find the corpses fast enough, though.

                    IIRC, technically, the state doesn’t pay. It’s private money that ACTS exactly like state money.

                2. I’ll modify my first statement. I don’t know if it’s been tried, and am not willing to research it myself.

                3. Depends on how smart you think they are, how many there are, and how many you can pot before they either get to you or you run out of ammo. If you want to get them all, pick off the ones farthest out first so the rest think you’re missing and don’t see their ‘backup’ going down. If you just want to discourage and hopefully drive them off, take the ones in front. Problem with driving them off is a determined predator, regardless of number of legs, is going to back off, regroup, and come back after you; probably much more cautiously and sneaky. So I’d recommend the kill them all strategy. Keep in mind that if this SHTF situation is a short temporary one (night of madness or earthquake/hurricane/wildfire week), you’re likely to have legal problems because you deliberately tried to get them all (considered excessive use of force by progressive weenies or unethical lawyers) instead of just driving them off. Speaking of which, the legal beagles would take this post as premeditation if I ever have to do the same.

                  1. That would require that they’re familiar with what the loud sound means– which does get more likely in an area where you can have guns, but aren’t allowed to kill them and even shooting one in the act of harassing animals or threatening people can be iffy. (though we do donate to groups that work to defend those targeted)

                    I’d probably stick with the “maim some towards the front” due to it being easier to hit them, and the multiple reports that it will distract the group.

                  2. Where we are, the known depredation is coming from the wolves imported (thanks, Those Better Than Us) and collared. A few of them have a high hit rate, though the wildlife officials have said some of the older wolves have gone off-grid when the collar failed..

                    These guys seem to be hunting solo. There are a few families/packs starting up, but right now it’s the solo (protected) wolf versus the rancher/hunter/back country resident who gets to take the risk if he shoots.

                    1. They’re probably known problem wolves– you collar a wolf when you catch it, and if a wolf is being a Problem Wolf near a fairly big city… well, catch, collar, move to somewhere you want wolves and don’t care that the kids can’t wait for the school bus in safety.

            2. The power goes out. The cell phone network is down. You hear the rumble of a dozen or more motorcycles, old pickups, Mercedes or BMWs coming your way. Time to lock, load, and shoot if they don’t stop and announce their peaceful intentions at the entrance.

          2. This. Was discussing SHTF scenarios one evening at the Maker space I frequent, and one of the fellows came up with the ‘I’ll just raid my Mormon neighbors’ idea. Was flabbergasted when I informed him that that was a really complicated way of committing suicide.

    2. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they won’t be after you.
      And the flip side is true, too: Just because you’re NOT paranoid doesn’t mean they won’t be after you. Being “reasonable” isn’t really a protective state.

      1. Another way to look at it is the old “I’m not worried about the bullet with my name on it, its the ones addressed ‘To whom it may concern’ that worry me.”

    3. Depends on where you live. In Alaska, the apocalpyse happens fairly regularly.

      That is, sure the end of the world as we know it doesn’t hit, but earthquake tearing up the roads (and not being too easy on the houses)? Yep. Volcanic ash cloud cutting off all air traffic, and holing you up in your house because the ashfall trashed oil filters and air filters on cars, (not to mention windshields) so you don’t want to drive? Heavy blizzard it’ll take you a few days or more to dig out? Avalanche cutting off the only road from the port where the food comes in? Port strike on the west coast cutting off all food shipments to the state? Yep, that happened, too.
      But there’s nowhere to go. Unlike Katrina refugees who came up looking for shelter with relatives working the oil, there’s no civilization you can easily pack up and move to while something wipes out your hometown. (By the way, hurricanes create a mass internal refugee movement within the US every year. But we’re big enough we can absorb it without it being an international incident. Pretty cool, eh?)

      So you bug in – and just like the Mormons, you have a deep pantry that means it’s not an issue if you can’t get to the store for a week. After the milk runs out, and the fresh veg, then it sucks a little harder – and if the power’s out, then the meat and frozen stuff either gets put outside to stay frozen (winter) or there’s a block party to spread the goodness around and make sure nobody starves (summer).

    4. I have two go bags packed and a 3d empty one to dump meds into. This assumes that I’m driving. I’d only drive in life or death situations. And I think that having to bugout counts. It’s a last choice obviously because I’m a horrible driver with no license. I might not make it out if I freeze in panic. I usually do what I can when I can and freeze later.

      1. I went through my go bags last week when the first of the season’s tornado alerts sounded.

        This time I made a checklist with things like “phone charger” for the last, unpacked bag.

        I also need to scan “important documents” to the thumbdrives again… I’m years out of date now. No, copies of insurance policies, deeds, etc. aren’t legal records, but they have all the information I need to get duplicates if necessary.

        1. Good/Bad news about living in Oregon. Our disasters, volcano eruption, earth quake, floods because dams broke, occur means too late to evacuate, and for the most part, afterwards no where to go, because the infrastructure out will be toast; there is no road without bridges. Noticed I listed the disasters in that one occurs, it automatically means the following ones occur too. Not saying we don’t get hurricanes/typhoons, 1962 Columbus day storm was not just the wind blowing really hard, just rarely. We do see tornadoes (F0?), called dust devil’s, every summer and fall; even cause some damage if they cross the freeway and a car is in the way. If you survive the disaster, it will be survive in place. OTOH we don’t get the big disaster except every 500 or 1000 or more years.

          1. We’re not near any industrial areas or major highways, we’re on (relatively) high ground, and our primary disaster plan is to lock the doors and ride it out in place.

            The go bags are for if the house catches fire, or an earthquake or tornado force evacuation.

            We’re not trying to plan for every possible disaster, just a reasonable response to the most likely situations.

  9. I think the movie industry will see a similar indie awakening pretty soon and pretty successfully. We’re already seeing it in nascent form, with non-studio productions becoming hits without any traditional promotion, and full-length movies being made and released on sites like youtube and vimeo.

    For education, especially post-secondary education (we’ve had successful home schooling and GEDs for a long time), there are a few other impediments to overcome–accreditation, and employer acceptance. HR departments tend to tilt culturally left of the organizations they’re part of, in general, and will devalue any non-traditional post-secondary education as much as they can unless slapped down by higher management.

    1. In fairness to the HR people, the tilt to the left and the emphasis on credentials are independent of each other. The latter is simply bureaucratic tail-covering in action, the same sort of thinking that spawned the proverb “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.”

      1. True, but the leftist tilt pretty much ensures that brick-n-mortar schools that the left has taken over will be valued over other possibilities even if the non-traditional venues do have accreditation.

    2. Which is why I’ve suggested that the process of imploding the higher-ed bubble needs to include creating independent organizations who can
      1) do academic counseling, i.e. bring students together with appropriate on-line courses to design a course of study to achieve their degree objectives,
      2) provide oversight & certification that the on-line courses offered have the quality to be part of an accredited course of study, and
      3) obtain accreditation to offer degrees based on those courses and programs of study.
      Such organizations would preferably have no in-house course content or educators to manage, providing more of a concierge function to students at minimal cost, and the necessary veneer of acceptability for HR departments.

        1. Yup. Students are the individual-contributor equivalents of customers; or you could think of it as a agency company with many clients (except many of this group have had bad experiences with agents…)

          1. Hmm… could, not necessarily will, be an answer to “what shall agents do when publishers fade away?” There MIGHT be some smart, flexible ones out there who could reinvent themselves?

          2. No, the students are just the intermediaries between the providers-of-money and the bursar’s office. Other than that, they’re just pains in the ass to be pushed through the system as cheaply as possible.

        2. That really is a good idea. As it is now, all your guidance counsellors are employees of the schools. That’s rather a conflict of interest don’t you think? Whereas student counselors for hire by the parent, or the students themselves, have a vested interest in making their customers, the parents or the students happy, not the school administration.

          1. “have a vested interest in making their customers, the parents or the students happy”
            And then it’s only a short step to “matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match…”

          2. I think there already are people making a good living “advising” the scions of the Upper Crust on getting into the optimum college possible. I expect services include interview training, “review” of personal essay, help in filling in the application and selection of the “best” school possible for the individual student.

            1. Some of those advisors may have the flexibility to open or re-invent their businesses as student course-of-study agent/mangers, after the Ivies collapse as brick&mortar institutions. I’m afraid most who try will go into it with inflated ideas of how much they can charge.

      1. For too long a High School diploma counted as little more than a certificate of attendance … as recent reporting of schools graduating students attendees who miss as much as a third of classes, not so much.

        1. …and, as much as we decry the way it’s done, hiring is hard and HR people defaulting to buzzwords and credentials is (somewhat) understandable, despite the enabling of corruption it drives.
          What I’d hope for is one or more founders of academic concierge/manager/agency companies to decide to compete on quality and reputation; since their services can’t vary much in cost from their competition’s, it’s about all they have to compete on.

          1. A large part of the HR problem is the regulatory environment in which companies have to struggle to discharge poor performing employees and must worry about disparate impact determinations that they’ve discriminated against mascot groups.

            Can’t get away with “We’re hiring Juan because his father works for us, his uncle works for us, his brother and three cousins work for us and if Juan has any problems they will set him straight.”

          2. compete on quality and reputation
            Well, after all, that’s exactly how the Ivy Leagues gained their preeminence.

      2. I take a much simpler approach to torpedoing the higher-education establishment. Turn Griggs v. Duke Power Company 180 degrees around. That was the Supreme Court ruling which made it legally safe to require a college diploma no matter how little the job had to do with book learning — and legally unsafe to use anything resembling an IQ test in selecting employees, no matter how well-correlated that was to

        Requiring a college diploma becomes prima facie evidence that the company is discriminating in favor the children from rich families.

        *Any* objectively-scored test becomes legally safe as long as it has been taken by the current employees and correlates well with employees’ promotions and raises. Plaintiffs who supply a test that correlates better with said promotions and raises may require the defendant to use that test in the future, but no retroactive changes need be made.

        Companies may purchase tests that correlate well with job performance in industry. The purchasers are legally safe for buying and using these tests. The sellers may be investigated and are judged by the same standards large corporations are for coming up with their own tests.

        1. Excellent. Doesn’t have to be immediate, it’ll take a few years for the higher-ed bubble to burst. Just need to have a good example in place when students need it.

    3. The movie industry is heavily dependent on overseas sales. This means they make films derogating American troops and bend over backward to avoid offending the Chinese.

      That leaves a vast opening for independent filmmakers looking to reach an American audience. Hallmark Channel has already proven this, and others will happily follow.

      They probably cannot compete with the Marvel/DC special effects, but writing, good writing, is not all that expensive. The last gate is distribution, and Youtube and Direct-to-disk are undermining that.

      1. Hallmark Channel has pretty fast turnaround times, too. They were shooting in my parents’ town about five-six weeks before I visited them at Christmas. We were watching the movie on Christmas Eve. (In the movie, the couple have coffee at the same table of a restaurant my parents and I dined at two nights earlier.)

        1. Sounds like Hallmark (and maybe other TV producers) are playing in the same ballpark as the old-time movie studios, before they all merged and became blockbusters-only media giants.

          1. well, a lot of their productions are smaller and fit within many states’ tax credit rules for smaller productions. CA passed a tax credit rule to ‘compete with other states and Canada’ but it has a fixed budget and usually runs out by February.

      2. Maybe this will fit the bill for you, in the meantime:
        “A bunch of these movies have made a lot of money, because the market for patriotism is real, however disdained in Hollywood. So this year we get another one, “12 Strong,” based on the Doug Stanton book “Horse Soldiers.”

        The book was a best-seller and it’s easy to see why: You’ve got cowboys and space age technology. At the same time, you’ve got a remarkable true story about Green Berets deploying to Afghanistan after 9/11 to prepare for the invasion. The first men to take the fight to the Taliban bring with them the American way of war — high technology, including new developments in airstrikes — but they have to fight in the ancient way in the mountain deserts of Afghanistan if they’re going to prepare for a high tech assault on the capital, Kabul. They are completely cut off from any protection or reinforcements and have to survive in what they call a “target-rich environment.” Failure would mean no one would find their bodies. A bunch of them are family men. They all take these risks.”

    4. A bunch of stuff recently showed up on Amazon Prime that has 15 minute episodes. It appears to be from webcasts, which have been aggregated together and “published” on Amazon.

      I’m not *sure* that’s where the content came from, but it sure seems that way. The quality is fine. I just can’t stand 15 minutes then “oh, opening credits, AGAIN.”

      1. A friend was trying to get me to watch some kind of Japanese cartoon stuff. It might have been okay, except a 20-minute episode was 8 minutes of title sequence, 10 minutes of show, and 2 minute of closing sequence. That is, fully half of each episode was redundant boilerplate.

        Yeah, I could have fast-forwarded through it, but it failed to gain my attention enough to make even that minimal effort.

    5. Doggone NH House is trying to drag home schooling back under State control, mostly because then the school systems can count those bodies for federal funding, even though they’re not producing a product anyone really wants.

      1. What do you think their chance of success is? If they do succeed, is NH not yet gone-to-the-leftists enough that the populace will turn out the legislators that perpetrate this?

        1. They unshackled the home schoolers in 2002?2003? They’re trying to put the chains back on now.

    6. Whats really going to put them under is continual improvement in CGI. Probably within 10 years you will be able to do Grand Moff Tarkin on a home computer. Why bother with expensive, egotistical, parrots when you can just have a machine do it all.

      1. Keep in mind a top end gaming PC is just a workstation with differently optimized GPU drivers, really. And the computers used at VFX studios are… Windows or Linux workstations.

    7. Two of the movies up for Best Picture are considered “indie” films. The field has gone up to ten nominees, but that’s still pretty impressive. (And having seen one and heard extensively about the other, they’re not dreck, either.)

    8. My youngest is writing a screenplay for a movie he wants to do indie. Don’t know if he has a go fund me up yet or not. Problem is, he’s so far progressive left I practically want to disown him. Which is way unlike me considering how important I consider my family. Distressing.

      1. You may find some advice in here that is helpful.
        I appreciated the author’s insight on how families with disparate political views are still our loved ones, and we need to be the ones extending the hand of fellowship to them.

        “One of the most electrifying speakers at a conference for conservative political activists insisted that liberals are not stupid or evil. Don’t misunderstand — he still said liberals were wrong, but he called on conservatives to replace their political contempt with gratitude and to answer anger with kindness.

        He recalled a lady “talking about how liberals are stupid and evil. You know what I was thinking? She’s talking about my family in Seattle, and I resent that! They’re not right politically — you are! — but they’re not stupid and they’re not evil,” declared Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

        One day, the author received a hateful email attacking his book. But as he read the email, he realized that this reader had gone point by point throughout the book, responding to every claim in detail. Rather than responding in anger and returning this reader’s contempt, Brooks sent an email thanking him for actually reading book. This unexpected response moved the reader, who suggested meeting Brooks in person.

        This is the greatest strength of America, that we are a country of “making everybody necessary,” Brooks declared. The gratitude of realizing that you need people helps us answer anger and contempt with love. It is the conservative answer to the welfare state, and it is also the Christian answer to our supercharged political divisions.”

        1. Or… we’ll ALL stupid, at least sometimes, about things in our blind spots. A necessary humility to living in a free state.

      2. I kinda think; help him because he’s your son; setting aside the politics if possible for a bit. If he is unable to, then it’s on him really, not on you, for letting it get between what could be instead a father-son positive experience. And maybe it’ll be a good thing to wonder what it is he considers most important – because sometimes, family isn’t included in that at all. Sad, but true.

        My sympathies though, Mike.

    9. We’ve been enjoying the Mythica series of fantasy movies. 5 movies, the first couple funded through Kickstarter. Professionally filmed and acted. Of course we’ve tried others that are not so well done, but that’s Sturgeon’s Law.

  10. I felt my first earthquake while I was in LA to see “Phantom of the Opera” and to go to some museums. My response was “Cool! Real California experience.” My second one was here, on a Saturday morning, while I was still in bed. I was sleepy enough to think, “Huh. Odd. Oh, earthquake. Interesting.” The epicenter was in OK.

    1. My first (and only) quake was the Great South East Tremblor of 2011 — and the first thought of Beloved Spouse and I was that the washer load had gotten out of balance … again.

      1. I was born and raised in Michigan but was living in northern Virginia when the 2011 earthquake hit the area. I was home, confused by the house shaking, and I went outside to look for smoke–I was sure something had blown up, intentionally or otherwise. “Earthquake” literally did not occur to me.

      2. Growing up in the People’s Republic near Sacramentor, minor shakes and trembles were no big deal.

        Nowadays, I live more or less over the New Madrid Fault. It’s a lot quieter than the PDRC. For now…

  11. I understand that the dinosaurs were similarly dismissive of those small hairy creatures feeding of the scraps of the dinosaurs’ lunches.

  12. I’ve been a reader since i learned how. On any given year I will probably read at least 100 books. Since I can read a 300 page book between the time I get off work and the time I go to bed the problem is usually finding books.

    When I moved a couple years ago I picked up Kindle Unlimited and now I’m reading indy almost exclusively. I’ve picked up some duds here and there, but at least with unlimited I can read a chapter or 2 and if I don’t like it I don’t feel bad about dropping it.

    About the only major downside that I’ve seen is that so many of the indy writers I’ve read seem to go out of there way to make (especially their female characters) really abrasive.

    1. Same here.
      Let things get out of the hands of trads and we should have more realistic/sane female characters. These people were still trained on trad books and movies.

      1. Maybe it shows you which authors have a hard time telling the difference between “strong” and “abrasive”…?

          1. Elsewhere, there’s a debate going on about a character being “passive or not”.

            The fun was when one person claimed that if she wasn’t passive, she’d give “certain people hell” but in one case, she (the character) realized that the other person had a somewhat valid reason for his actions and in the other case the person the critic wanted the character to “attack” was an ally of the so-called passive character. 👿

          2. And the men are portryed as weak-willed morons with no competence or initiative. Much as I dislike seeing grown men act as spoiled children, I tend to think the women have it worse. FFS, good men don’t want a partner who can’t be trusted and who doesn’t even *like* them any more than good women want a puerile ass with no confidence!

            1. I see men being made less in more traditional media more often than I’ve seen in indy. In indy the woman is usually strong but she’s not usually a member of the ‘She-Ra Man Haters Club’. Most of the ones I’ve read have had the men be at least equal to the women.

              Though I do have to admit as soon as a book has enough ‘SJW points’ I drop it off my list and move on to something else.

          3. Yes! Being a strong woman (or man) doesn’t mean making your partner or the people around you less. If anything, that points out a lack of confidence in your own abilities.

            1. It seems to me that historically one of the ways you judged a person to be strong was that he strengthened those around him.

              Similarly for “her.”

              You still see this in team sports, but those have not yet degenerated to determining winners on style points.

              1. One of my favorite characters in Japanese animation was Miki from the romcom “Marmalade Boy.” And the main reason I loved the character was that she was so guileless that everyone around her ended up becoming better people for the association. (The series, in the end, fell a little flat for me but that doesn’t change how I feel about the character.)

        1. People who *are* strong and have grown into it know how to moderate their strength. It is the weak ones that go all out, every time. Control is a necessary aspect of strength. Otherwise it’s like a car no settings between full throttle and brakes locked up.

    2. Ah, you tempt me sir. You tempt me. Must. Refrain. From. Marketing. My. Wife’s. Novel. Health issues have severely limited her output, but it is that of which you seek.

        1. It’s called China Harbor: Out of Time, and if you do the look inside feature and read the first chapter, you’ll be hooked. Yes, I know it’s priced higher than what you’d expect. It’s also a longer book. If you like the first chapter, I guarantee the rest not only doesn’t disappoint, but will blow you away.

    3. Interesting conversation on personality and writing.
      For my money, the best romance in modern SF is Aral and Cordelia: both strong, neither one “abrasive” unless they intend to be, and funny as a good vaudeville team.

  13. My first thought wasn’t that the house was shaking (even though it visibly was) but that I was so tired I was hallucinating it.
    Been there, done that. My first earthquake was when I was stationed on Guam. I had developed a habit of getting up and riding my bike all over base, then to the gym. I would do a bit of a workout, then bike home (the shortest route). Then, shower, eat, dress, ride my bike to work.

    I was on my way home from the gym when the bike went all wobbly for a few seconds. I thought “Holy cow, I must have really overdone my ride and workout this morning! I can’t even balance my bike!”
    When I came through the door, and the wife asked, “Did you feel the earthquake?” my response was “Oh, that was what that was!”

    (That one was only a 4.something, iirc. The 8+ was while we were in church one Sunday morning. A church whose worship area consisted of 2 walls of sliding glass doors and glass windows. After a moment’s pause, the organist kept right on playing.)

    he then spent precious minutes running back and forth from front to back door in my parents’ shotgun apartment
    We had just moved into our apartment in Puyallup, WA when the Rattle In Seattle hit. We were all in the living room. My wife grabbed our son (5yo) and went to stand in a bedroom doorway. I took a microsecond to decide to go the other way. Despite being next to a large window, I went to the back door to the outside, where the patio was and the open lawn and playground area. I had previously pondered the idea that if a building collapsed on me I wanted to be near the outside of the pile, rather than the middle. (And, no, once it started, and we were both in doorways, I wasn’t about to risk my wife and son crossing to my position until the shake was over.)

    Being pseudo-paranoid (not actually being afraid, but constantly thinking things like “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”) has definite advantages.

  14. in the back of my mind I’m expecting a “black day” like the revolution in Friday by Robert A. Heinlein. A lot of assassinations and people disappearing from public life, and you don’t know why or which side is which.

    No, I am certain that the Feeb an other TLA Secret Society of Sedition members will all just quietly show up for their court dates when their meeting minutes get published.

    And I, for one, welcome our new and unexpected overlords.


    1. It all depends on what the word ‘welcome’ means.

      I’ve got my popcorn ready to go for what will probably end up being another Government shutdown on the 8th. In one corner we have a bunch of illegal aliens and in the other will be the US Military. Which corner will the majority of Americans be supporting?

  15. Sarah, have you ever looked over Christian Sandstrom’s work?

    All you really need to do is plug in “Random House”, or any of the other big publishers, instead of “Kodak” or “Facit”, and many of his slide presentations or lectures would fit perfectly in with what you’ve been saying for years about publishing.

    He has a bunch of his work up on SlideShare, if anyone is interested. Some of the case studies he has done are quite… Illuminating. You can see the symptoms of the various “overcome by events” syndromes going on around us, like Apple’s glitzy new corporate headquarters. It’s an interesting thing, but the construction of fancy new digs for the corporate masters usually presages corporate destruction… Enough so that one isn’t entirely wrong to start selling their stock about the time they are all moved in.

    1. In the ’80s and ’90s, a lady financial advisor would duck into the restrooms of major companies – and not the executive washroom, either. If the TP and towels were cheap or non-existant, she’d recommend against buying the stock. Little things like good TP were the first to get cut when the companies started having trouble, but had major effects on employee morale and productivity.

    2. After Dot-com started deflating in 2001, I consulted for a German automated tester company. Our first visit, they showed us the new building “almost” ready for occupancy. They were in it 6 months later. Three months after that, they closed the doors and sold the remnants to a competitor.

      Yeah, “Edifice Complex” is a big red flag.

  16. “To the extent they’re waking up to how things are changing, they’re fighting back like weasels in a sack. This is not going to be pretty.”

    Eh, they’re lame. Right now, they’re doing they flat-out most to slander and defeat Conservatives… and they’ve got -nothing.- Eight years of Obama running the whole thing, with the full control of the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the IRS, and using all those things he accomplished… nothing. Conservatives still rocking the boat.

    Consider, right now in Ontario Canada, Patrick Brown, the leader of the provincial opposition party, the Progressive Conservatives, just got shot down in flaming ruin by a ten year old -accusation- of sexual -misconduct-. Two women accused him of being a horndog, and now he’s not the leader. Pow! He’s toast.

    That’s an example of “convenient timing”, because there’s an election coming up in Ontario and the Liberals have every reason to expect they are going to lose. I’m not saying Patrick Brown is innocent, I have no idea. But the timing is SO convenient, one just has to assume shenanigans. A scandal erupts and takes out the party leader right before an election? Wow. Too good to be true.

    But here’s the thing. The Federal Liberal party lost a cabinet minister to the same charges the NEXT MORNING. Return fire was pretty sudden. Liberals are getting zero traction with their scandals.

    The problem that the liberals have in both Canada and the USA is they have been the party in power pretty much since the 1920’s. That’s when the power shifted from the Old Guard to the New Punks. The cause was World War 1, it was lost on nobody that it had been a hellish nightmare, and the Old Guard were the ones who did it. King and Country was no longer the accepted norm. Big Government socialism was the new plan.

    Well, here we are 80 years and a hundred million dead bodies later. The Lefties are screaming about letting men use the women’s bathroom, and insisting that half your income is not enough tax. What’s in the news? All Trump, all the time. It is never-not Trump and he is never-not doing it wrong.

    But consider, what happened last time? When the Old Guard went down and the socialists took over, was there a huge civil war? Nope. We saw then pretty much what we are seeing now. Plenty of uproar, sound and fury signifying nothing. The socialists began their slow march through the institutions, and there was no civil war. And now they are the Establishment, they are failing, everybody knows they are failing, and smaller government is the new hotness.

    The worm has turned. It turned when the Tea Party had 200K++ people show up for an event and they got zero press coverage. That’s when it was too late. It’s been too late for about seven years now.

    Will the political Left -try- to start something? Probably. But can they get the number of people they need to really make a war happen? No way. They couldn’t even do that in Berkley. Because they’re sad-sack pervs, and everybody knows it.

    So I am not going to worry about it. I’m going to write my stories, and sell ’em, and be happy. Lefties can K my A.

    1. Upon reading some of the comments, I recall that there is one thing that worries me: the welfare checks bounce.

      These days all the welfare money and the food stamps etc. are on a gubmint “credit card” system. There have been several instances where a glitch has ended with entire Walmart stores being stripped bare. If, just ferinstance, all the cards in New York State failed the same day, that could be a catastrophe. If all the federally funded gimme cards failed at once, that’s a two week-long, Rodney King-style LA riot in every city in the country.

      So now, for a scenario, how about all the cards fail two days before the next US presidential election? The DemocRats could probably swing that. They’ve got a majority of the civil service in their pockets. Trump vs. Whoever, maybe John F’ing Kerry, and then there’s a disaster during election day. Hmmm…

      1. I’m wondering if maybe Hawaii’s nuclear warning wasn’t a dress rehearsal for something like that…

          1. I continue to be amazed that the person who did it has not only not been criminally charged, they haven’t even been fired.

            That’s really something, eh?

          2. Rumor has it he had been discussing how any errant missile launch warning would bring bad publicity to President Donald John Trump- and he’s a virulent anti-Trumper…

            Anti-Trumpers really aren’t known for thinking things through.

      2. If they failed 2 days before an election the democrats would be crushed since all their voters would be too busy rioting to vote.

        1. I’m assuming in this scenario that the Dem nominee is losing HUGE to Trump, and they pull the card failure trick to get themselves a free do-over plus make Trump look bad. Reichstag fire, right?

          In the aftermath of the mass looting, who knows what the public might decide? Maybe they go for the Dem guy, to punish the incumbent. Hard to say.

          It’s pretty tinfoil-hat though. I doubt the political weenies would have the guts to do something like that. A small cabal of Lefty tech-heads being paid by a certain European billionaire might try it, but again, suuuper tinfoil hat.

          Might be worth writing a short story about though. ~:D

          1. Constitution doesn’t allow for do overs. Bad weather, riots, wars- even the civil war- tornados, floods, earthquakes- none of them have stopped elections in the past.

            1. There are also the questions of a) where would the riots be most likely to occur? and b) what would the political reactions to such riots of those in other areas?

              a) The riots would most likely disrupt voting in blue polities

              b) red polities would be likely to get out and vote for officials who will not indulge such tantrums

              Take San Francisco and Los Angeles out of the voting and California might well go Trump.

      3. To some extent, the current riots have been requiring a compliant or even complicit state and local government. Rioting forces would not have sufficient presence in every city. Voters in non rioting localities could still vote and have their ballots certified.

        We probably not have forces to suppress many riots in a bunch of cities non lethally. If it is warm enough, President probably has to send in military force to restore order. If it lasts two weeks, the military may well be administering finger-in-ink polls in between restoring order and results being certified. Then the Electoral college votes. Between the locations, the disorder, the people killed restoring order, and the ink, probably fewer Democratic votes, and fewer Democratic electors.

        The Democrats would have to be insane to do it. The Republicans don’t have the people in place to make it look like an accident, and quite a lot of the people with the capacity to do it as an attack also have the sense not to do it for fear of reprisal.

        Probably won’t happen on purpose unless Mattis wants to do it to become Caesar.

        Possibly Obama’s incompetence and Trump’s interest elsewhere could cause such a think.

        1. ‘thing’, not ‘think’. Important because it completely changes the meaning.

        2. Complicit, particularly in CA. They’re on film disarming free-speechers while Antifa roll in with all kinds of weapons. Antifa is so lame the free-speechers chew them up anyway.

          Agreed, the Dems would have to be insane to do something like that. But from what we keep seeing out there, a lot of them are insane. Example, check out Floppy Cameltoe today. He’s lost his shit completely.

        3. “The Democrats would have to be insane to do it.” My bet is, they ARE.
          Then again, who’s got the guns and ammo?

          1. Guns, ammo, training, and in many cases military experience.

            Not to mention the will and the motivation IF the Progressives prove themselves to be an actual serious threat to life.

          2. Do -not- assume that violent leftists lack firearms, or thebknowhow to employ them.

            Do -not-.

            A short review of the history of leftist takeovers will show no lack of violent lefty shooters, who succeed quite messily.

            He in the USA, the left has been arming. Not all. Probably not v n a quarter. But the hard-core is up-gunning, and they are seeking to redress that smug “we have all the guns” thinking.

            Just imagine -one AK-toting lefty shooting alternately into both sides at an AntiFree riot. Or better yet, one bootleg-suppressed ordinary .22 rifle. The immediate demand to “crack down on violence” would land… where?

            The revolutionary/hardcore sorts already practice baiting someone into responding to one of their “peaceful/unarmedl colleagues (often female), whereupon the designated hitters go to town by dog piling their chosen victim, until they can bring the Doc Martins to bear and earn their red laces. (Or whatever a particular sub-mob uses to indicate “made” status.)

            Some of these (deleted) dirt balls have significant training, and -practice-. Once they work up the courage, or just find the right permissive environment, they -will- start shooting.

            Do -not- underestimate the opposition free folk face.

            1. Errrrr…sort of?
              Here’s the thing about violent lefty takeovers–they all involve the soldiers being in sympathy with the leftists. Remarkably enough, this usually happens in unfree societies–Tsarist Russia, Selassie’s Ethiopia, Nationalist China.
              Free ones? Not so much.

              But yes, assuming that it does come down to a shooting war, the belief that the Left will just roll over and die will get a lot of people killed–most of them hotheaded morons looking to loot, rape, and pillage, mind, but still.

              1. I would point out that the death of such people in pursuit of their various nastinesses could be considered a benificial thing.

            2. How many times have The Media gone on (or hoped to go on) about the “violent right wing nutter” only to have it be some violent LEFT wing nutter? Seems to be a not exactly random or even distribution of violent nutters.

      4. The riots wouldn’t last two weeks. Only those of us not reliant on EBT have a larder with a two week or greater food supply. Rioters would be to weak from hunger after about 3 days. And the militia would self organize to take care of those that weren’t…

        1. If you have five ounces of sense, and you have EBT, you have a larder.
          You can’t have a savings account with enough cash in it to make a difference with EBT, but you can buy ALL the beans and rice and store it forever.

          1. True that they COULD buy a whooping lot of beans and rice.
            False, that they would likely NOT have that in stock.
            I’ve seen the pantries of EBT users. Although there are exceptions, most do not have good supplies of protein-rich food.
            They do, however, have a $hitload of carbs in the cabinet. Enough to get them through a few mac & cheese, ramen noodle, and cereal meals.

            1. Ramen noodles make a great extender to your protein dishes, though.

              But yeah, people with EBT, especially if they have more than one child, should never lack for food, but they do.

            1. Some of my friends are carrying out Trump’s domestic mass murder. Turns out that cops ignore you if you flash gang signs. You can pick up EBTs by the score that way while having perfectly good judgment. If you want proof, I’ll send you about a dozen in the mail.

      5. In a rural county, we might be OK, sorta. There are other scenarios that worry me more. If Modoc War 2.0 ever started, that would be painful at best.

    2. “Progressive Conservatives”
      Huh?!? That’s not even…….

      Well, here we are 80 years and a hundred million dead bodies later.
      Ummm…. 100 years………

      1. The Progressive Appellation was added almost a hundred years ago when a western party merged with the Conservative party at the time. Unfortunately the modern day PC’s (the former federal party crashed and burned in 1993 due to Reform and anger against Mulroney), are mostly provincial and they are definitely, mostly not conservative in action.

    3. Will the political Left -try- to start something? Probably.

      Funny you should mention that, with George Soros stating in Switzerland earlier that Trump would “disappear by 2020”. I’m possibly being paranoid, but seeing that gave me an ill shiver.

      1. He spent a ton of money last year on Trump-hate in the media. It was on Drudge the other day.

        1. Par for the course for him. If fate is kind (and I pray that it is), none of the money he has invested in his little pet projects will grant him any returns. It’s the least we can ask for.

          1. He and Tom Steyer have poured far more $$$ down Democrat rat-holes than the Koch Bros. even imagine!

            Speaking of which …

            Billionaire Political Activist Steyer Had Tax Liens
            Man behind impeachment ads recently wrote ‘please raise my taxes’ op-ed
            Multiple local governments filed at least three tax liens against billionaire Democrat activist Tom Steyer and his wife, records from Georgia and Oklahoma show.

            Oklahoma dinged the former hedge fund manager with a lien of just over $2,000 for income earned in 2003. That lien was quickly paid.

            However, a document from Fulton County, Georgia, appears to show Steyer took longer to cure a tax lien of almost $27,000 for income earned in 2004. The lien document was filed and recorded in June of 2006, but does not appear to have been stamped “Satisfied” until 2008.

            In 2008, Fulton County again hit Steyer with a tax lien for $700. That smaller lien was stamped “Satisfied” in 2010.

            A spokesperson with Steyer’s political action committee, NextGen America, did not respond to a request for comment.

            [END EXCERPT]

            Elsewhere we learn that he has cut off the DNC because of their fold on the shut down. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving pair.

            1. cut off the DNC…

              That’s funny. I’ve cut off the RNC until I see some perp walks. To communicate, ya gotta speak a language that is shared with the receiver…

  17. As far as the system going down. I expected that in 2008. They can kick the can down the road beyond any reasonable expectations. Don’t onligate yourself to anything you aren’t willing to walk away from – such as California real estate. I used the time to be debt free, we own our home and two reliable vehicles. Even in the worst of the Great Depression the majority of the people were employed and making a living. But if you make $4,000 dollars a month and spend $3,900 there is no leeway and any sort of cut in income will just kill you. Maybe literally.

  18. “if Ogg go play with tiger, Ogg get eaten.”

    Well, now, that would depend on just how Ogg play with tiger, now wouldn’t it? After all, my mom always told me not to play with my food.

    1. Well, historically speaking, this hasn’t always worked out to Ogg’s detriment. Consider that once upon a time, Ogg went out to play with the wolves, and came home with a playmate/workmate, instead…

      The arguable point is whether or not that was to the wolve’s detriment or benefit…

      1. I’ve sometimes thought what happened was Ogg & his buddies were out hunting and several deer ran right at them because the deer were running from the wolves. Ogg & his buddies killed more deer than they could take back to the caves so the wolves got what weren’t taken back to the caves. 😀

        1. My guess is that what happened was that a kid or two, and some puppies found themselves in close proximity, and then the parents of both species noticed some things…

          “Heeeeeyyyyy… These guys can throw stuff…”.


          “Heeeeyyy… These guys are pretty good at chasing stuff…”.

          And, the partnership was formed when the kiddies and the puppies grew up together.

          Synergy. It’s not just for advertising executives and think tanks…

          1. My guess is a wolf pack lost to a human pack…but guys aren’t stupid, and know girls like cute stuff, so those little wolf pups came back to the cave.

            1. Maybe. But, that wouldn’t necessarily answer the question of how much of wolf/dog behavior is transmitted vs. instinctual. I think there’s a lot of learned behavior that gets transmitted, and without the generational connection…? Where’s that going to come from? There are certain continuities between likely wolf/dog progenitor behaviors that might tend to argue that the partnership was not started by kidnapping puppies and/or killing the parents.

              My guess is that there was a bit of a mixture of things going on–The early wolf/dog ancestors probably found hanging around human camps entertaining, and a place to find easy pickings for food. The humans probably liked having them around for advanced warning of other, nastier predators, as well as the wolf/dogs enjoying the added firepower to keeping those other predators away from their kills. I can easily see the early wolf/dog progenitors doing the usual “play with me” behaviors, once they got habituated to being around people, and likewise, the humans probably enjoyed playing with the young puppies, which led to a feedback loop of commensal behaviors getting set up between both sides of the relationship. I can easily visualize the early dog having some human throw something at it, and then that early dog chase the thrown stick, go “Hey, this is kinda a fun game…”, bring it back, and there’s your first game of fetch. Since Neanderthaler man apparently wasn’t big on thrown objects, that might indicate why they never “got” the dog… No play time; no hunt companion. The dogs may have taken pity on us, and wanted us well-fed for play time, so they helped us hunt bigger and better game, which they got to share in…

              I really don’t see the supposed “domestication” of dogs as being likely a consciously set-out upon thing. It happened, but it went a lot more slowly than we managed it with the Russian foxes, and probably without a lot of specific forethought about the issue. And, probably, we learned a lot about the process of domestication from hanging out with the dog, which was applied later on to other species… Which means we owe the wolf/dog of yore a hell of a lot more than we realize: They literally taught us how to domesticate animals, so far as my reading in the literature goes.

              1. Charming speculation. But speculation piled on earlier speculation doesn’t add up to “literally” anything.

                The only available “literature” is written in DNA: the detailed cladistics of canis over the last ?40000? years. Og didn’t write much.

              2. . I think there’s a lot of learned behavior that gets transmitted, and without the generational connection…? Where’s that going to come from?

                How does your theory work with dogs that are 100% raised by humans? (I know several– and yes, they do Dog Stuff. Cats– those before they could see, even, and yes they hunt.)

                Or half wolves that never had any interaction with their sire? They act different than dogs.

                I’m sorry, but your theory looks like it has trouble with day to day, nevermind an origin.

                  1. Instinctive. Interesting word. All my cats have behaved like cats, no matter the age at which they were removed from mother cat or rest of litter.

                    IOW- some knowledge and behavior MUST be hardwired into DNA. Even for humans. But how much?

                    1. All I know is that for humans, Odds seem to have less of it. Or maybe we have Neanderthal instincts, or something. No wonder the poor things went extinct. Finding THAT new way of chipping flint beat sex all hollow.

                    2. Maybe not less of it, just a different focus? Like…it’s not so much “this new way of knapping* is better than sex,” it’s more like “oh my gosh you’re as interested in how to do this awesome as I am, now THAT is hot.”

                      Our cats do have cat stuff– but they “act like dogs,” according to most folks. There are several cat breeds that are similar….

                      * I actually spelled that correctly, but spellcheck lost it. Again.

                    3. Our cats do have cat stuff– but they “act like dogs,” according to most folks.

                      The very first writer I was “friends” with I met at the very first con I ever attended (we’d corresponded before that when I first joined SFWA after my first sales). We were chatting over lunch when I happened to mention that the cats my family had owned never seemed to act like typical cats. They were more “doglike”. She said that a part of that is most people who get cats are looking for a “low maintenance” pet, so they’re not as thoroughly socialized as the typical dog.

                      This seems to be more a relative than an absolute thing. A “doglike-behaving” cat would never be mistaken for a dog but is more so than a “typical” cat. That may correlate with how the cats are socialized. I don’t know. I actually haven’t owned any cats since that point and I’ve never investigated beyond that conversation.

                      In any case if the question is “nature or nurture” I suspect the answer is “yes.”

                    4. it takes effort to move my head out of “what worked.”

                      I never had more than a few magazine sales “traditionally” but I was immersed in the culture that said “this is how you do it.” I had trouble with the mindset for indie. Still not sure that some of my concerns were wrong but willing to give it a try anyway. (Yes, people can find good stuff to read. That’s great for them. What I need, however, is for them to find my stuff, which is a somewhat different problem and one I have not yet solved.)

                1. Fox, I’m looking at it from a standpoint of “Hey, we’ve never domesticated anything before, sooo…”, and extrapolating from there. The first human and wolf interactions would have involved humans to whom the idea of killing parents and kidnapping puppies simply wouldn’t have even occurred. They’d have had zero idea for even the context. No doubt, your scenario probably occurred later on, when humans had figured out the idea of deliberately domesticating something, but… Ab initio?

                  So far as my reading goes, dogs came first, and were unique to the humans that moved north into the vastness of the Eurasian continent. The initial domestication “thing” was probably more a mutual habituation that turned into something more deliberate, as the idea grew on our ancestors. The reason I think the dogs had just as much to do with it as the humans has to do with what I think the initial human response would have been to those pesky packs of carnivores who were hanging around camp so much–Your idea that they’d steal puppies, and keep them because “cute” sort of ignores the fact that those puppies would grow up into wolves, and would be seen as a danger. As a first step, that’s about like someone going “Oh, what a cute little Hell’s Angel… Muriel, let’s take him home with us! I’m sure he’ll stay cute forever…”. I don’t see people doing that, without seeing a benefit down the line, which they’d only know about if there had been previous experience pointing that way, like with a growing colonization of the interface between human camp and the wild. First instinct of humans would be to drive the wolves off, but they obviously kept coming back. Why?

                  I would argue for a case where the “domestication” was much like that of the cat–Two species coming to a mutual understanding of mutual benefit. Humans, at that stage of things, would have been very unlikely to even have had the idea of domesticating something like a wolf; where were their tools to do it? If they’d started out “taming the wolf” by using them as staked-out guardians, what the hell would they have used as tethers? Anything available would have been chewed through almost as quickly as they could have put it on the wolf, and there was nothing in their materials technology that could withstand the teeth of a frustrated wolf. So… Forcing an unwilling wolf into servitude? Yeah; how the hell would they have done that? And, grabbing puppies? How many of those would they have had to go through before finding the ones that liked being around people, and before they gave up the whole thing as a really bad idea?

                  No, the traditional idea of “forced domestication” does not work for me. I think the more likely thing is that the wolves became habituated over generations to being around people, and the whole thing was a gradual process of recognizing mutual benefit, and simpatico relations. More than likely, the wolves looked at the whole thing the same way humans would have–The human bands who drove off the wolves successfully probably had a harder time surviving absent the security of the canines, and in hunting food, while the ones who didn’t, and integrated the wolves into daily life around the camp…? Much higher survival rate, in all likelihood.

                  The line between instinctive behavior and learned behavior is a questionable one. Hunting, for wolves and dogs, is both instinctive and learned–The dog who has never made the connection between food and a deer on the hoof may well chase the deer instinctively, but they generally don’t eat the damn things even if they manage to kill one. Same-same with dogs that kill domestic animals in a farm setting; the mother of one of our current dogs (St. Bernard, possibly mixed) went after a specific goat that had been harassing her and her puppies. Goat lasted about 30 seconds, and she took it down most effectively. But, and this is the important thing, she did not carry through with the rest of the behavior chain she’d have needed to be a successful independent predator in the wild–Which is why most abandoned dogs wind up starving to death out in the countryside, even when there is plenty of game around for them. They just don’t have the complete behavior chain embedded, and instinct won’t carry them through with it. They can chase, they can pursue, even kill, but then eat the damn animal? It’s not as easy as it looks, and even though a well-fed domestic dog doesn’t have the actual need to eat what it kills, they often don’t even figure that out when in extremis, and they need to.

                  My stepdad used to tell the story of visiting an island up in the Gulf of Alaska where there had been a set of sled dog teams (twenty-thirty dogs, total…) abandoned when their owner died. There was a good deal of game there, plenty of opportunity to feed themselves, but most of the dogs died of starvation before anyone could go back to check on them. The deer, rabbit, and other small animal populations were entirely intact, and thriving. So, while there are instincts, those instincts need effective experiential training to overlay them.

                  Primitive man would have needed to kidnap the puppies, under that theory, and then figured out how to “educate” those puppies into being successful hunters with some pretty sophisticated training ideas that I’m not sure they would have had the tools and experience to be able to conceive–Which is why I’m sort of dubious of that entire model. It isn’t like they’d have had the benefit of years of experience at domesticating animals, and understanding the need to “train” the young predator like our wildlife rehabilitation experts do.

                  So… I’m of the “gradual habituation, then domestication” persuasion. The initial set of wolves wouldn’t have been very amenable to domestication, on first encountering humans, but after generations of gradual “Hey, I like playing with these two-legged freaks…” self-selection…? Yeah; the packs that hung around people were probably predisposed to being fully domesticated, to one degree or another. The wolves that didn’t find playing with humans and hanging around them relatively enjoyable…? They were less likely to be interested in interaction or even being in the same immediate biome as humans. Those packs probably lit out for the hinterlands as soon as humans showed up.

                  Which is also an interesting question to ask: How much of the modern wolf population represents what was there before humanity showed up? Were the “less interested in humans” wolves the wolf equivalent to Neanderthal Man, and managed to get themselves hunted to extinction, while the more cooperative strains of “wolf” survived…? We look at the modern wolf, and think “Wow, easy to work with, for domestication…”, but what if they were more like hyenas or the African Wild Dog, back when, and we’ve thoroughly polluted the “wolf” species through admixture of those wolves we’ve selected that “liked humans”, and wiping out the truly difficult to live with types?

                  I would love to be able to take a time machine back, and really look over just what the hell happened during that period, and observe the behavior on both sides of the dog/human dividing line. An alien observer would likely take one look at the way we live together today, and consider us symbiotic partners instead of two entirely independent species. We would likely not be what we are, without having the dog. Absent that experience, would we have even considered the idea of domesticating other animals…?

                  1. The first human and wolf interactions would have involved humans to whom the idea of killing parents and kidnapping puppies simply wouldn’t have even occurred.

                    Based on what? Totally ignoring that your phrasing points at a rather traditional route of getting women, which seems to occur to rather widely spaced folks….

                    Even apes will give “gifts.”

                    In every culture, we have examples of people finding baby fill-in-the-blank adorable, especially if it’s a mammal. Even my dad gathered up coon kits when he was little. His parents DEFINITELY didn’t suggest that. (Which points to why we have dogs and other herd or pack animals– they’ll bond to what raises them. A grown raccoon treats you just like mommy… hissing, biting and all.)

                    A gift that’s cute and really hard to get, unless you’re insanely bad-ass? Whoof.

                    “Hi, oh gal I’ve got my eye on– I just finished killing those big predators that hunt in packs. Would you like the adorable fluff ball offspring I brought back for you?”

                    1. a good theory as to why we find most mammal babies cute is that their facial proportions are similar to human babies.

                    2. Makes sense to me– humans like babies. Got to see the reaction as our yearling walked to a store (including navigation of the HUUUUUGGGEE chasm that is “the space between slabs of concrete”) while holding my hand, and by the time he reached the door he had quite an audience.

                    3. Problem being, he claims it’s “more likely” without saying why– other than the woefully incomplete evidence of listing where wolves were wiped out, which totally ignores the still not that rare capturing and taming of wolves.

                      His theory is “humans are bastards (for not wanting to be slaughtered by wolf-packs), so wolves must have approached us, we would never do that.”

                    4. Forgot to add– right there in paragraph 3 she asserts that wolves don’t like to share, and then a bit later declares that they must’ve decided to share.

                      Dude is a dog anthropologist, gal is a science writer; I would guess she did an interview and strung together an article/blog.

                    5. I’m going to get the book, and dig into the citations. Which I hope they’ll provide…

                      At this point, it’s all conjecture, and barring a time machine, we aren’t ever likely to know for sure.

                    6. It is all conjecture, but the reasoning behind various conjecture makes more or less sense– and those folks’ argument goes against itself. It requires not one, but two things they state doesn’t happen (wolves sharing, humans not wiping out wolves) to happen, and simply declares that nobody found wolf-cubs cute enough to save.

                      Doesn’t even give a reason for it, argument or example.

                      Vs. the “humans thought the cubs were cute, and it was impressive to have a baby wolf,” where we can find examples of humans finding baby mammals cute all over the place, in the most irrational of situations (insert picture of guy with a kitten in his pocket in Iraq), and the repeatedly demonstrated phenomena of “if your stupid pet isn’t trying to kill us, you feed it and fine, we’ll allow it” which has not only been demonstrated for furthering the taming of tame species, but which has been in living memory demonstrated with fur-foxes in the former USSR and changed their physical structures in ways with more than nodding similarity to those pointed out, in that very article, for wolves to dogs.

                      There is also the issue that the article is flatly and obviously false in its notion that humans always wipe out wolves– hell, all of the examples are fairly recent for the span of time involved, and several are not that long ago for normal consideration, as well as being rather gullible about accepting claims by naturalist groups. (Single biggest threat to endangered species I know is the “if they figure out you’ve got even one on your land, you will lose it all. Some of the most patriotic folks I know risked having bald eagles nesting on their property, anyways. And it did cost one his house.)

                    7. Nod.

                      I read about a man who purchased a large area of land to protect some endangered species and was planning to (or did) build a house on a small part of the property.

                      The idiots told him that he couldn’t do that because of the endangered species. 😦

      2. The wolves’ many-times great-grandchildren lived to see humans invent the car and got to go for bye-byes. That has to be a big plus in the “benefit” column.

        For the rest of it, I occasionally see those little poodles that serve as Barbie Dolls for gay men, and I wonder if the poor thing is thinking, “My ancestors were wolves.” On the other hand, I occasionally wonder if a wolf ever looks in a hunting lodge and sees a retriever eating from it’s bowl and snoozing by the fire and thinks, “My ancestors were idiots to miss out on this deal.”

        1. If that poodle is anything like my Nemo, his response is “what you mean, WERE wolves?”

          15 pounds of terrier poodle whose convinced he’s 1500 pounds of dire wolf… 😎

          1. I have a dog named Nemo (so-called because we found him) and he is fifteen pounds of terrier attitude. I can picture him as an internet meme: “The blood of wolves flows in my veins! Wolves, I tell you!”
            He hates the cold, though. If the Call of the Wild ever comes through for him, he’ll let the answering machine pick up, and deliberately omit calling back.

            1. Anything terrier-related thinks it’s bigger and badder than anything else it meets. Occasionally, they’re right.

              A real asshole set his Rottweiler on an old guy out walking his two Jack Russel Terrorists. End of the day, they had to put the Rottie down, and the owner got a citation from animal control. Wasn’t the first time he’d done that, see, but it was the first time he’d tried it on a pair of Jack Russels, and it didn’t go at all well for the Rottie. You’ve heard the Bad, Bad Leroy Brown song, where he winds up “looking like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone…”. Yeah. That. Apparently, when a Jack Russel clamps down on parts of your face, and you shake hard enough to get it off you, it’s taking stuff you’ll like need with it. Like, eyelids, eyes, cheeks, ears…

              I really felt sorry for that Rottweiler, when I heard about it. Poor dog was sent to its death by a crappy owner, and didn’t deserve that horrible fate. Animal control had to go under the guy’s porch to get it, and it was suffering horribly.

              The Jack Russels? Happier than pigs in a mud wallow, and essentially untouched, except for one canine tooth that came out during the fun. One Jack Russel, you could probably handle as coyote or other bigger dog. Two? You’d better have some friends in a pack that’s used to working together, or those harmless little terriers are gonna mess you up. Bad.

              Friend of mine was out ratting with his little pack of Jack Russels, and some other terriers. Local coyotes thought it would be an easy meal. Wasn’t. The video was flippin’ epic–I don’t think I’ve seen coyotes handled like that by a domestic dog except when they went after a Great Pyrenees guarding some sheep. Four or so Jack Russels on one coyote is not fair odds, at all, and when they’re used to working together…? Dear Lord, you can just see the dire wolves going after the cave bears, and understand why, to this day, bears are scared spitless of wolves and dogs.

                1. Deliberate…

                  See, my sister used to run a Jack Russell rescue operation (just noticed I misspelled that…) and at one time, had double-digits worth of them in her house. I’ve known a few of them, and I can’t think of one that was either timid or unwilling to take it to the mat against even dogs ten times their weight.

                  I’ve only ever seen a Jack Russell run from a fight once, and that was only because it was leading its attacker back into ambush where her buddy, the Presa Canario, was laying in wait on a chain. That was another one of those incidents where you find yourself wondering just how intelligent the little buggers really are… I could swear she planned that one out, choreographed it perfectly, and then stood there on top of the Presa Canario’s doghouse sneering while the big dog who’d been messing with her ran smack into her buddy. Ever seen a St. Bernard/Pitt Bull mix lose bowel control…? That dog went into submission so damn fast it wasn’t even funny: One minute, chasing little dog with visions of murder in its eye, and the next…? LOL. That Presa was about twice the size of the mixed breed, and a trained guardian dog, to boot. That was a crazy afternoon.

              1. My mum & aunt once went to get a Jack Russel puppy for my grandmother, and they wound up getting a puppy for themselves as well.
                So, during holidays, we would have a pack of three running around the house.
                Now, the family also posses a couple of cats. One was a fairly good natured and laid back orange tabby who avoided the noisy dog things.
                The other was a part Siamese murdercat’s murdercat who covered the doorsteps with dead animals on a frequent basis.
                And while the Jack Russel may be a compressed wolf, this cat was compressed Bengal Tiger. Ours had a good working relationship with the cat for the sake of squirrel control. My aunt’s had boarded with us a few times, and knew enough to not bother him. Grandma’s dog didn’t get the memo, and tried chasing the cat.
                The cat turned, roared “I’ve killed and eaten things bigger than you!” and chased the dog into the house, while the dog squeaked “sorry sorry sorry!!!”. The other two dogs were like “idiot…”.

                1. We had a huge yellow male cat (not intact), ran 20 – 25#’s, not an ounce over weight, he was the size of a small beagle; & (along with all our cats then) raised by a German Shepard. When we moved into a new neighborhood, everyone warned us about the local paper boy’s large dog, who accompanied him every morning on rounds off leash. Dog liked to chase & harass the cats, not killing if it got hold of them, but ruffing them up. Our cats were allowed outside (no comments, this was 40 years ago). First weekend, we saw the paper boy & his dog … funny thing is dog would not come up our drive, or onto the lawn, insisted on staying across the street. Looked out & our big yellow cat, & a couple of the others, were curled up in the planter next to the porch. Cats never moved, except for twitching their tails. Figured dog had already met the cats, & was converted. Body language of the dog was “See. Look, I’m being good!” Latter on, dog must have forgotten his lesson, or Yeller decided he needed regular reminders (YMMV). We saw Yeller ride him down the block (the dog did not want him there) before Yeller jumped off (on his terms) & came trotting home.

                1. Definition of “Big Dog Syndrome” – Big dog in ‘ittle-bitty package.

                  Don’t have a Chihuahua, or toy Terrier, she is 15#’s Pom/Pap/??? Chile Pepper Mini Rocket. She can’t beat the big dogs (all they have to do is catch and sit on her), but they won’t catch her, they will drop dead from exhaustion. She won’t have even started getting tired yet. We get tired just watching her. She, Goes. All. Day. Long. Anyone know how to harvest all that energy? Like to be able to sell it. Yea. Didn’t think so.

  19. I have been in two earthquakes that I suspect. One was back when I was in Ohio. It was very mild and I only noticed because because I was sitting on a kitchen chair pushed back so it was balanced on two legs. The chair shook a bit under me and it was only later when I saw news reports on their being a mild earthquake in the vicinity that I knew why.

    The other was my first trip to Japan. It was literally my first night there. I woke up with my heart pounding and an indefinite feeling of something “not right” (I suffer from occasional bouts of tachycardia but this was different). Learned later that, again, there was a modest earthquake in the area.

    Which is a roundabout way of saying “c4c”.

  20. I’ve lived through many (most?) of the major natural disasters that can befall a person.

    I’ve been in a building when part of the roof was taken off by a tornado, and seen a number of tornadoes from further away.

    Earthquakes in California (numerous) and Illinois (1). Some big, some small.

    Blizzard in Illinois. Ice storms also, one of which was in North Florida. Floridians LOSE THEIR DAMN MINDS when that happens LOL!!!

    Numerous hurricanes here in Florida. Even walked outside while my house was inside the eye. Yes, it does feel surreal. luckily, I was smart enough to take cover before the other side hit.

    Wildfires both here in Florida and in California. Although admittedly, they didn’t come all THAT close to my house, but I think it still counts. At one point in California, There was a park on the edge of a big hill not far from my house where I took a date. We sat on a blanket having a late evening picnic and it looked like the fires nearly surrounded us. Can you say ROMANTIC?

    Floods, although this might not count since one was when I was a baby, and the other wasn’t really all that close to home.

    The LA riots, maybe not a “natural disaster” but still. And again, it might not count since we were pretty far away from the epicenter and the only “rioters” we saw was one car full of disgruntled young men who quickly figured out that they had wandered into US Marine base housing and ran like hell (I said disgruntled young men, not stupid young men).

    One thing I’ve learned. Prepare, even a little bit, and you’ll (probably) be fine. It all seems way more scary than it really is.

          1. Warm rain, cold rain, warm rain again – and if summer comes on a weekend, we’ll have a picnic.

    1. Earthquakes … yeah, been there, done that. A small shaker at my grandmothers’ house sometime in the late 60s. Felt as though the house had suddenly been fitted with roller skates for about a minute. Then the Sylmar quake in 1971, which hit at about 5 minutes past six. The astonishing thing to me was – not the shaking, but the noise of it. It was like standing on the platform of a railway station with a non-stop train roaring through.
      And then I was in Japan for four years, where they happened so frequently that we got pretty blase about them. Earthquake – or just a heavy 18-wheeler going past outside. If we couldn’t hear an engine — OK, then it was an earthquake.
      At the radio station, we usually didn’t take much notice of the tremors until the rolls of teletype paper began falling from the shelves where they were stacked. If it was that heavy a quake, then we ran for the doors, as the radio station was this creaky, post-war frame building about a hundred feet from a hundred foot water tower on very spindly legs. None of us wanted to be inside a building full of powered-up broadcast equipment if one or two of those legs collapsed and the tower collapsed and dumped however-many-hundreds of gallons of water on it.
      It was fascinating, watching the wager gauge on that tank climb up and down, as the water sloshed around, and the cars in the parking lot at FEN bounce up and down on their springs…

      1. “wager gauge” — another of today’s serendipitous typos (see Jack Russell Terrorists” above).

  21. I’ve experienced 3 quakes. First was at home, sounded like the house got hit t times with a bat. Second, was on the freeway, felt nothing. Last one, I was standing and suddenly felt dizzy, then got over it. Someone later asked me if I’d felt the quake, and I thought THAT’s what it was.

  22. “It’s like me looking at my books shaking in the bookcase above the desk and thinking it was just me being tired.” Happened to me, I am sitting on the couch watching TV at 3 or 4 AM and suddenly in a blink of an eye time lapse I thought the angle in the walls and ceilings suddenly went acute, Wow I am just too tired, went to bed, Woke up and on my way to work at 3 PM I heard on my car radio we had an earthquake,

  23. I go through this every year. That’s analyzing change, not riding out earthquakes. The process is simple: you look at last year’s forecast, compare it to this year’s hard data, and if they aren’t close, figure out why and make the necessary adjustments. In practice, figuring out why is often incredibly difficult. Pattern identification? I’ll go with that. More precisely is a tendency to assume past data is an indicator of future performance. When there’s a trend due to, well, not so much static economic conditions but steady economic conditions, that works just find. But when you’re at the point of change, it doesn’t work well at all, and often you don’t know why.

    At that point I start asking around. Sometimes that turns up a statistical blip. That doesn’t work when there’s a major economic shift. One year I threw up my hands and used state and federal economic projections for the areas we serve, and ended up with a worse forecast. Didn’t take long to find state and federal data didn’t match what we were seeing, but it did to figure out why: state and federal data was based on the US Census, and they made the mistake of assuming a jump in population reflected a trend. Nope, it was from one-of events during that period. Mr. State and Mr. Federal Prognosticator, not being on the scene, didn’t realize that. Finding out what’s really going on is surprisingly hard. And just because you think you have, and the data agrees with those assumptions, doesn’t mean a thing. No, that depends on next year’s hard data, when we have the “joy” of doing this all over again.

    I can’t really fault state and federal forecasters, because I know the source of their error. I had data that they didn’t have. But, that said, I didn’t initially realize their forecast was off. I had not integrated that data with what I knew. It was only the next year, when I compared real data with forecast, did I realize something was off, and only after I made a rough SWAG did I realize the mistake.

    It’s not surprising that the same thing happened in publishing at the start of the economic change. Been there, done that. What is surprising is consistently missing the change when real data doesn’t agree with assumptions for the future. After a while, you wonder if it’s one of those corporate song and dances to sooth the investors, or if they’re really that clueless.

    From our standpoint, it doesn’t matter. What does is the actual hard data, not the floor show that does with it. If they are unable and unwilling to make the necessary changes … well, that’s the free market’s cute little way of improving customer products.

  24. I seem to have a lot of civilizational collapses in my fiction these days. Hopefully this just means I need to expand my range of tropes more.

    1. Fun thought on mechanisms of that.

      We have these historic and prehistoric cultures that build large expensive monuments etc… for a while, and then stop. Maybe even tear the things down. In the past I’ve speculated that rather than being climate change or cultural clashes, it is a matter of overdoing a form of idolatry until it becomes obvious that there is no magic, discrediting the practice.

      What could drive such an overuse? Well, ghostdancing comes to mind. Though that maybe would bring things back to cultural clashes.

  25. Don’t forget the massive power that some of the new institutions wield. Google and Facebook have tremendous power, and they are currently solidly on the Left.

    1. I use DuckDuckGo for searches, exclusively. And MeWe is rapidly taking the place of FaceBook for any social media needs I have. Unfortunately, Gmail is still my main email go-to. But there are definitely alternatives available, and the more of us who use them and turn our backs on the current internet utility companies, the more they’ll be come viable alternatives for larger numbers of folks.

      1. I’ve been researching viable email alternatives to Gmail. For those who are security conscious, take a look at Tutanota, Protonmail, and Mailfence. I haven’t decided yet, but I’m leaning toward Mailfence (1st), then Protonmail (2nd).

        1. Darn it!!! You mean it’s advisable to get off gmail? No, no. Not another email, again. Sigh. Haven’t got hubby or son off MSN; & mom is still on yahoo. Luckily anyone one wants to read most of our emails, what security leaks, have a good snooze. Kid is the only one not retired, he doesn’t use email for his job, & personal stuff is all gaming. FWIW for all of us, the information on the email platforms is as minimum as you can get away with & setup with double authentication. Plus, it’s not like any of them actually get any money from us to use the services.

          1. Actually, Google gets quite a bit of money from you. Not directly, no, but they sell all the information they get about you to various customers. Or did you think all the targeted advertising you see on so many websites were just lucky guesses?

            1. Granted. But as I mentioned I make sure to input the absolute minimum information required. Note my “name” used here. Yes, Sarah has more information, because she has my email. Also, I employ ad blockers & have Norton (because it is free through my internet) set aggressively (pain in the butt for my former work place, it’s not considered “safe”) any more unless I know a site is “safe” & want to go there, I don’t act against the advise of any of them. I make sure hubby, kid, & mom, do the same thing. Warning is “if you get nailed with bad stuff on the computer, YOU have to clean it up (kid can do it, other 2, no). Or in the case of mom at 82, little sis & I will help, but we get to loudly complain (wordage cleaned up) every minute. FWIW, if they really were tailoring to my preferences, they are doing a crappy job.

    2. And supposedly untouchable because they are “private” businesses. It’s amazing how they can refuse service to someone they don’t like but a baker can’t.

      1. All depends on who sues them. That, and loss of reputation, seem to be the primary drivers of change at the moment.

  26. My concern is that, when the black day comes, the Left will destroy the village in order to save it. See Venezuela and Cuba and all those other Leftist paradises.

    If the left is in power, which it is in all of the government and quasi-governmental organizations in the US, it will have to power to take the entire society down to make the point that it is power. The Left cannot create a paradise, but it can destroy a functioning capitalist, free society.

    Look at the universities. Declining enrollment, a continuously growing number of parasites (administrators) coupled with a declining number of productive workers (faculty), a faculty with a declining number of tenured faculty (the apparatchiks) and an increasing number of itinerant faculty (the migrant workers of higher education), massive student aid directed at privileged groups (the children of the party faithful — minorities, women, and so on), the removal of the canon and the insertion of party propaganda, ritual punishment of the bourgeois (elimination of men’s athletic teams and Christian organizations and the continuous humiliation and real damage to men) mandated courses where the educational cannon fodder receive indoctrination, Lysenkoism replacing empirical science, and on an on. All with the purpose of filling and replenishing the ranks of the Party.

    The result, at least locally, is universities running increasing deficits, dependence upon federal funding, graduation of unprepared students, milking the middle class if it wants to participate in higher education, collusion with Leftist governmental agencies and ideology (Title IX and various sexual harassment edicts), intrusion into civic life in the form of marches and trips to legislatures, and on an on.

    My concern is that reality will not be the overthrow of the left by realists, but that reality will become yet another failed Third World state where the US used to be.

  27. Obligatory earthquake story: I homeschooled Kid for kindergarten because the nearest one was godawful. She’s a bright Kid and we were working our way through an elementary weather-and-geology textbook when I discovered she had a fascination with natural disasters. (The following takes place over about six weeks, but STILL.)

    “Mommy, what would we do if there was a hurricane?” she asked.

    So I explained hurricane safety and showed her where we would go and what we would do.

    Two days later, there is a hurricane.

    “Mommy, what would we do if there was a tornado?” she asked.

    So I explained tornado safety and showed her where we would go and what we would do.

    Two days later? Tornado. I kept grimly on with the geology textbook.

    “Mommy, what would we do if there was an earthquake?” she asked.

    TWO DAMN DAYS LATER, earthquake. Sounded like a freight train in the basement. Kid, who screams and runs from spiders, was sitting in the office chair going “wheeeeeee!”

    She is no longer allowed to inquire about natural disasters.

        1. “Mommy, what would we do if an evil narcissistic thin-skinned megalomaniac became president?”

          “Last time we just acted normal for 8 years, giving him no excuse or reason to declare martial law on us. Doesn’t seem to be the plan this time.”

  28. It seems to be almost a general rule that a company that was successful at one stage of a technology / industry structure will not be successful at the next stage. The steam locomotive manufacturers Alco and Baldwin were not the ones who succeeded in the diesel age; that would be GE and GM.

    It’s not just a matter of stranded capital equipment costs, it’s also a matter of thought patterns.

    1. Thought patterns are the hardest. I’m seeing this happen to many people who were VERY successful in trad pub. And though I was never successful, it takes effort to move my head out of “what worked.”

      1. Exactly – this is a concept addressed as long ago as 1983 by Bill “I invented Sabremetrics” James in his development of the field. An organization which has been successful with a particular strategy is very slow to try a new strategy, while a team which has been unsuccessful has strong incentive (and low cost) toward changing their strategy.

        This also applies outside of sports, of course. A student who has been getting straight-As by pandering to the teacher’s biases is not likely to search for Truth, and a bureaucrat who has risen through the ranks by the Brown Nose is highly unlikely to suddenly emerge as an independent thinker once having reached the top.

  29. Wow! I’m really interested in the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs self publishing. I have no idea how to go about self publishing, and I’m not a sales person, so gaining publicity will be no easy task for me. Decisions, decisions! Should I publish my books myself or seek out a literary agent?

    1. Literary agents don’t do much for you unless you have a half million dollar property which depends as much on YOUR story as on the book. And these days traditional publishers can’t publicize much.

        1. There’s a ton of other things no one will tell you. If you have conservative associations online, traditional publishing will be hostile. Etc. UNLESS you’re aiming for the small pool of Christian Fiction. That’s a law onto itself, and I’ll be honest, I know next to nothing of it.

        2. Keep in mind that the above comments are from a disgruntled mid-lister. If you learn to sing from the hymnal of Progressive theology you, too, can win the indulgence of a Big Time Publisher! Earn Fantastic* Advances! Enjoy support for major genre awards! Even get reviewed in dying newspapers!

          *Keep in mind that “fantastic” has many meanings …

          Indy publishing, OTOH, requires easily acquirable skills, such as how to format for platform and how to put works on the market. Sales ability is largely irrelevant, publicity is a readily acquired skill. For example, find congenial authors to review and blurb your works, preferably on their blogs. To a great extent the market is a factor of time and investment: the longer you are out there, the more works you have available, the easier it is for people to read one of them and purchase your backlist.

            1. You are welcome – this should give you a rough idea of what is involved, and the order in which they would be performed, no matter if you use Watercress or any other service provider.

              1. Thank you, it is appreciated. The whole process is so over my head. Honestly, I don’t think I will be able to go it alone without some professional help.

                1. Take it one step at a time. Have an idea for what you want your cover art to look like. Know where you can get your MS edited. Have a good notion of the costs involved – and either learn to do stuff yourself, or swap talents with others. Many of the other contributors here are knowledgeable about this. Some of us worked it out for ourselves early on, others have pro experience in the publishing game.
                  I’d say, get your toes wet by doing an ebook version, first. All you need is a good edit, and a cover that grabs. Plan for a print version later on.

                  1. Ah, the cover art will be fun! I’ll need to find artists, but that shouldn’t be too hard, I hope. Is this what it means to go with indie publishing rather than traditional?

                    1. Oh, yes – if you blog, ask your readers for advice on which bit or art looks good. Look at other covers of books drawing on Norse mythology, get an idea of what would apply to yours and appeal to readers. Run some test covers by them. (Remember – it must look good as a thumbnail pic! And people must be able to read the title and author name!) Ask your FB friends to vote for what they like among alternatives. Sarah and some of the other contributors have done posts on cover design on the Mad Genius Club blog on what would work. Remember, it’s your book – and YOU are the one in charge.

    2. If you’re willing to give some details, folks here can probably at least point you in the right direction– there ARE places that can do stuff like help you get a cover, etc.

      1. Sure, absolutely! I’m writing a fantasy series that is loosely based on Norse mythology, only it follows purely fictional characters with little reference to the gods so far, although that could change. If anyone wants to contact me directly, visit my blog and send me an email. Now that book one is nearing completion, I’ve started pulling down chapters from my blog, but I’m open to having a few beta readers if anyone is interested.

        1. Incidentally, it would be kind of refreshing to read a story made in a mythology where you DON’T meet any of the Big Name Characters!

          It’s cool to meet them when it’s outside of the mythology and it makes sense– like Cedar’s mythology stories– but if you’re inside? That’s like visiting Microsoft and meeting Bill Gates.

          1. Thanks! I had a story idea brewing for years, and I just wanted to do my own thing while making use of the superb backdrop of Norse mythology. The world tree with its nine realms is just perfect for my imagination! It allows for so many possibilities, while still giving me plenty of material to work with. So far, I’m really happy with how it’s all turning out. It’s a lot of work adding layers on complexity to bring the world and characters to life, but I enjoy it immensely.

            1. One nice aspect of your approach is that readers will likely be on the watch for the Deus to exit the Machina and thus miss predicting the resolutions you bring.

              The negative side is that some readers will be unable to resist speculation about which characters are actually Norse gods in disguise.

              Relying on an extant world rather than building your own eliminates the need for great amounts of exposition while assuring a continuity of setting.

              1. Check out what’s on my blog, or if you’re really curious, I could send you a link for my main drafts on docs. But I don’t think there’s any risk of people thinking there are gods in disguise. Most people don’t really know anything about Norse mythology than a few big names and their must mundane aspects, and what I’m introducing is far more in depth and complex. In book one everything happens in Álfheimr, Svartálfheimr and Jötunheimr, with no gods or known characters making a guest appearance. The closest connection to the gods is the heroine, who is the granddaughter of Freya. Totally fabricated, but I like how it works.

                1. It is possible that a surprising lot of people know more of the Norse mythology than what is included in Thor comics. The elements conveyed in recent Neil Gaiman works certainly indicate a wider popular familiarity. But it sounds as if you’ve settled into the deep undertext of that universe and seems interesting.

                  If I can manage a visit to your blog between fits of coughing, wheezing and wondering when Death’s palliative release will come I will certainly try. My disinclination to request samples is two-fold. First, current reading does not readily accept insertion of any new projects for some while, possibly not in this lifetime unless I live to be two hundred. Second, and perhaps most importantly, I am not a good beta reader; I prefer to like what I read and avoid looking for reasons not to. I ignore plot holes, flaccid characterization and pretty much all failings above grammatical and spelling errors.

                  1. Lol! Well, no worries! If you feel up to it, you’re more than welcome to read and just say simply whether you enjoyed it or not. 😉 But of course, only if that does not conflict with other priorities.

                  1. No, really, no one who’s read it has made any such assumption so far, and it reads quite clearly that these are not the gods of myth.

                    1. Oh, believe me, I understood what you were saying. I’m just saying that the limitations on what crazy things will be believed by humans are far wider than you imagine.

                      For example: I’ve met people who believe that if you’re behind someone, then you’re going slower than them, even if you’re closing the distance between you.

                      And I’ve used this one too much, lately, but it’s very appropriate here: I’ve seen someone claiming that J.R.R. Tolkien stole his ideas from J.K. Rowling.

                    2. Omg, some people… I see what you mean now. I assumed this was a case of people making reasonable assumptions based on what could very well be subtle hints. Lmao!

    3. Jessica, my advice is don’t get deterred by marketing. Most of it won’t work at all unless you’re a big publisher trying to make a middling travel book disguised as a vampire thriller like “The HIstorian” into a best seller by pulling out all the publicity strings with “all the right venues.”

      You can try traditional but please know that the heartbreak you get from traditional publishers is not you or probably your work either. When an editor called to say that one of his readers called my wife’s book, “a seminal work like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” but he wouldn’t be buying it because some of the Chinese characters spoke in pidgin English (to convey that the main character was American and using her inept Mandarin to understand them) I wanted to go all Harlan Ellison on him.

      Yes, self pub requires you to make a cover (Sarah has a couple of posts on that in her archives), do competent copy-editing (see Kristine Kathryn Rusch archives for that), and write your own blurb (a demanding but learnable skill).

      “Courage!” as Clarence Thomas and John Paul II said.

      1. Thank you for the encouragement and advice. This is a big step that lay before me, and with the first book nearly complete, the realization that this process of trying to publish is really going to happen is finally sinking in. Before it was just a distant dream, like a ship on the horizon.
        I had thought to try traditional publishing, but after hearing from so many about how traditional publishing is going the way of the dinosaurs, I’m not so sure if it’s worth it. The biggest majority of the books I read, as far as I know were traditionally published, and most of that is stunning work. I’ve read some self published books, but so many of those were mediocre at best and terrible at worst, that I assumed self publishing was the way of those who just didn’t have what it took to be a good writer, with a few exceptions of course. There are the occasional self published books that I’ve really enjoyed and even recommended to others. Soooo…. Long story short, it’s all so confusing and overwhelming! Do I invest money I really don’t have to spare to try to publish myself, or tough it out with traditional publishers? I’m willing to trust the expertise of successful editors, even publishers, as far as polishing the book goes, but I will not compromise my vision for this story. If I try to get published and my book is rejected, then of course I would absolutely find another means of getting it out there. I’m not about to let more than a year and a half of hard work go to naught. 😉 Failure is not an option.
        On self publishing… Whatever a blurb is… I can probably get at least a little help from a few people I know with writing a synapses and such, fortunately.

        1. I can think of one solid reason to entrust your work to a (BIG) publisher: if you do not you will never know whether it would have been accepted. Sure, there is the ease they offer and the hassles they avoid (in exchange for different sets of hassle of a sort with which you are likely familiar.) If they do not accept it or demand concessions (story alterations, unreasonable contract terms) you are unwilling to make you will still have Indie.

          Of course, if you sell it to them and they help you polish it up and it tanks on the market you likely would not know whether their “improvements” or mishandling of the marketing contributed to its failure. Nor will you have gained skills useful for later endeavors.

          Either way, you will want to schedule attendance at any convenient local SF/F cons as a Guest Writer (hey! Those con guests don’t write themselves, ya know!) and give your book its likely best chance to meet its target audience.

          1. Ok, wow! Good to think about. I’ve never been to a convention like that, or any other kind for that matter, and doubt anything ever happens where I live in Germany. But if I hear of anything, I’ll keep it mind.

      1. Fantasy based on the realms and beings of Norse mythology, but not centered around the gods or known figures.

  30. Since Trad Pub v Indie (maybe v Self-Pub/Small Pub?) is a common theme, does anyone know about “instafreebie”? (Just add a www and a .com to that for the website.)

    I was given a link to a whole stash of SF/F (I can post it, if you say it’s ok, Sarah). I have no idea about any of the authors or books (though it appears Resistance 0.5 is NOT about Trump, thank goodness).

    Might be a resource for authors and readers to exploit.

    (Yes, there is a “pricing” link on a website with “freebies” in the name. Authors evidently pay to have their work given away. About that….)

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