The Quest For Truth — or Who Are You Gonna Believe? – A Blast From The Past From July 2014

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The Quest For Truth — or Who Are You Gonna Believe? – A Blast From The Past From July 2014

*Sorry.  I was going to write a post and then I realized how dropping-dead tired I was.  As is trying to find a post exhausted me.  So bear with me.  I’m going to take a nap, so maybe I can work. Interestingly now the press lies on the other side, or keeps silent on the good economic news or even more farcically tries to find reasons why prosperity is bad.  Plus que ca change.- SAH*

 

“What is truth?” a man of the world asked, and washed his hands.

And now in what was once the land of the free, we’re reading newspapers that sound like echo chambers and we’re asking ourselves, “What is truth?”

I don’t now, and you don’t either.

In some cases, like when “the truth” refers to who created the world, or the date set for the heat death of the universe, this is not exactly a problem.  At any rate, I suspect the answer to the first doesn’t filter well through time/place bound minds, and so, the best we can do is an approximation.  And, as Heinlein put it, one of these days you will know.  Until then, you and everyone else just do the best you can.

In other cases, though, not knowing the truth is a real problem.

I am the sort of person who is always suspicious when too coherent an image is presented — or as my mom puts it, I can’t see a freshly painted wall without making a little scratch to see what’s beneath — which means I never precisely fell for the glossy images the Soviet Union presented in the seventies.  Does anyone but me remember it?  The glowing production numbers, the assurance that there were no poor and no unemployment?  Why in the eighties I read a poor idiotic journalist who’d visited the USSR enthuse in the Charlotte paper about how the very simple cartoon she’d seen on Russian TV represented their embrace of simple living and sophisticated aesthetics.  When in fact it represented their penury, their old equipment and, yes, the fact that their audience had no other choice.

In Europe this sort of self-delusion was almost universal particularly among the intellectuals.  You see, they had bet their future, after WWII on a Marxist-lite mess of pottage.  To suddenly find out that neither socialism nor its big, bad cousin communism worked, would have shattered their view of the world and revealed that they’d in fact been taken for patsies and wrenched the more or less functional core of their country’s economy, and engaged in massive redistribution… for nothing.

So they couldn’t believe that, and instead chose to believe USSR was a finely tuned, humming machine of success.

They managed to believe this despite the fact that visitors to the Soviet Union inevitably caught a feeling for just how deprived these people were.  But of course, they could tell themselves that they were just rich in non-material things.  (Someone tried to make a similar point when I echoed a post by Charlie, on Facebook, in which he pointed out how astonishingly well the Free Market has done in the last fifty years, in making us massively more wealthy.  All of us.)

They managed to believe this despite the fact that escapes occurred overwhelmingly in one direction: from the USSR to the free world.

Humans can believe just about anything if it’s printed in glossy magazines and nice (wholly made up) figures.  Particularly if it tells them what they very much want to believe.

So… You’ve probably by now got the glad tidings, that our unemployment is way down, and we’re roaring…

Do you believe it?  Or does it seem like a repeat of the “roaring recovery through the summer of 12 which continued through the elections, so that smart people said that “the economic policies of the Obama administration are working.  We must give them more time” even as they made fun of us skeptics who said “uh… isn’t this awfully convenient timing?  And lookit the innards of these figures?”

Amazingly when the real news trickled out they were not only bad, but appalling, kind of like the squalor beneath the facade of the USSR.

Steve Green goes into the figures behind our “good news” here.

Is he right?  Or are the people right who say “see, cutting off unemployment insurance works?”  (Of course it does.  Drops people off the books like a rock.)

Look, I know I have my haunch.  Yeah, yeah, the plural of anecdote isn’t data.  Bah.  Do you see the job market superheated, right now?  Are your friends spoiled for a choice of jobs after years of unemployment?  Do you see the restaurants with a wait after work, as they had even ten years ago?  Do you see new shops opening?  Do you feel the economy taking off?

Or are you sitting there figuring out how to make your car limp another year, and are your friends in pretty much the same situation?  Are you tempted to cry while grocery shopping, because everything costs three times more? Is your family all out of luxuries to cut, and is now cutting into what you used to consider necessities?

I’ll confess my situation and those of my friends resemble the second more than the first.  I confess after summer of recovery 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and… I don’t believe the economy is roaring back.  I confess I think this is a case of lies, damn lies and government reports.

But the the truth is as unknowable as the truth about who created the universe.  While I doubt the fact sand figures of our sad situation are transcendant and unknowable by the human mind, when you are dependent on a government for all your information, and when that government visibly puts ideology over information, you end up not knowing.

Look, it’s entirely possible that people who were dead broke in their town in the USSR, and who knew all their neighbors were broke, yet thought that maybe, possibly, in other towns the economy was roaring.  They had no way of knowing.

By making itself an uncritical lapdog, our media has made itself even more partisan, more unreliable, than the old Pravda and the glossy Soviet Life.

Which means the books are cooked, but we don’t know how far.  We don’t know if some books aren’t cooked.  We don’t know which books are cooked.

The problem is not just that absent information on what’s really happening, we can slide slowly into the abyss, as others before us — Zimbabwe, Argentina, Greece — have.  The problem the information on what is going on with the economy is vital for a hundred different decisions: which job to take; what property to buy; whether to invest in this or that.

Of course, the administration that couldn’t run a lemonade stand doesn’t know that.  They’re academics and ideologues for whom the essential ingredient for success has been fanatical adherence to progressive ideology, not rational analysis of reality.

And so they spin their numbers and they think if they click their heels three times and wish really hard, this time when they stop telling us lies after securing the election, it will really be true.  The economy will be roaring, you see, roaring.

It might very well be true, too.  Being from Colorado I’m used to massive fires, and they do roar as they consume anything of value in their path and leave only ashes and destruction behind.

Which is what I expect to be plain once this last effort of obfuscation evaporates.

But until then even sensible people are believing those glossy pictures.  Because none of us wants to see the real squalor.  It must be that we love simplicity!  Yes, and we’re really aesthetically advanced.  And besides, this is a wonderful day until we get buried in the corn field.

And we don’t know the truth.  Knowing you’re being lied to is not the same as knowing the truth.

They say the truth will set you free.  Perhaps that’s why the administration is so carefully making sure no one (not even the various departments who make up one or the other set of numbers, but assume all others are right) has it.

And meanwhile we drown in a welter of made up figures and pretend facts.

“What is the truth?” a man of the world asked.

At least he had the decency to wash his hands.

 

 

144 responses to “The Quest For Truth — or Who Are You Gonna Believe? – A Blast From The Past From July 2014

  1. For some reason I find myself reminded of the old joke: What’s the definition of a USSR string quartet? A USSR orchestra after a tour of the West.

  2. Ah yes, the Return of the Son of the Summer of Recovery Part 2: The Sequel. *pathooy!* I prefer the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Trump economy. My income has more than doubled, and while food costs are still going up *snarl*, my health costs have actually stabilized or even declined a little.

    I liked Pravda better than the current US version. Pravda at least had decent writing, at least going by the translated pieces I read. The AP articles in our local fishwrap? Ugh.

    • That’s becuase the writers never pretended (to themselves at least) to be journalists. They KNEW they were writing propaganda and set about to do the best marketing they could. Besides it got them better apartments than the people they were propagandizing.

    • For the past 6 years I’ve lived just off the railroad tracks, one of BNSF’s major freight corridors, so I see a fair sample of what’s going by. Chinese cargo containers were on the increase until as of couple years ago, some trains carried 100% Chinese cargo containers, and nothing else.

      A bit over a year ago this started to change. Suddenly I was seeing more regular boxcars, and open cars carrying bulk wood or steel products. Now — I haven’t seen any Chinese cargo containers in a couple months.

      I take this to indicate an upsurge of Made In USA.

      Minirant: exporting raw materials and importing finished goods is what you do when you’re a third world country whose only resource is muscle. Importing raw materials and exporting finished goods is what you do when you’re a first-world country capable of manufacturing everything you need. (And it’s never smart to deplete your raw materials if you have a choice.)

    • I suspect that most of us have anecdotal ‘evidence’ – but, as always, that kind is highly dependent on our social circles.
      In my field (science teaching), the market was just about always good. I seldom had to worry about getting a job after leaving one. That’s how I knew that the early 2000’s were bad – I was semi-employed for more than a year.
      Even in this improved economy, I would suspect that many liberal arts/various ‘studies’ majors are having a hard time finding a job. Both my daughters, in the late 2000’s (a psychology major and a DOUBLE sociology and psych major), needed to get a Master’s – fortunately, one became a science teacher, the other a special ed teacher. Both are highly sought after specialties.
      Those with experience/practical skills should do well. Those who are willing to work at fracking/mining/construction/other skilled labor should do well. Those in commission sales should be able to pay the bills.
      HR? Marketing? Fine Arts? Eh – no so much.
      Majors DO count. As does experience in useful fields.
      No matter how well/not you are doing, get rid of your debt. Aim for NO consumer debt, a paid-for (not leased) car, an affordable roof over your head with plenty of equity (or, rent), and some savings in liquid assets – tools, guns, bullets, stored food. Learn basic medical care, stock up on necessary meds. You could do worse than to learn how to run a still (and stock up on sugar). Some basic hillbilly assets/skills.
      That way, if this improvement is temporary, you and yours will survive.

      • Anecdata – I was job hunting for a tenure-track slot, then for any slot – 2011-12. After 80 tries, I gave up and went a different direction. Then, for historians of anything but Islamic/Middle East, it was about 120 tries before you got hired. Now it is down to about 100 tries, or so I’ve heard.

  3. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Ritsuko Akagi, the truth is…

  4. I wonder if The Biggest Loser in the recent Kavanaugh imbroglio isn’t the establishment news media. They piled onto the “Kavanaugh is a Rapist!” bandwagon with such energy and enthusiasm … that now even someone who only follows the news apathetically must be having doubts.
    Those of us who were cynical before are now nodding our heads sagely, over having had our conviction about mainstream press’ lack of impartiality confirmed yet again.

    • Was involved earlier today in a discussion on line with someone lamenting how all of his friends doubted him when he quoted details about the discrepancies in all of the Kavanaugh accusers’ stories, none of which were ever brought to light in the mainstream media.
      I suggested that he respectfully suggest to those friends that they might just profit from an occasional visit to Fox News. Just to see what those crazy right wingers were up to, you understand.
      Personally I blame Woodward and Bernstein. They brought down a sitting President, so forever after every journalism major believes that it’s their job to mold society in the image they think it should reflect. Report the news? Screw that, we want to change the world.

    • “Biggest loser is media”

      The media was already disgraced, they didn’t lose much credibility because they have so little left.

      Women lost big. And it was a double whammy:

      1) the MeToo movement was kidnapped by the Left, used in the most vulgar way, then dumped in front of an Emergency Room. Completely discredited, associated with hoax. Which means actual victims of sexual assault will have a much more difficult time being believed (as if it wasn’t hard enough already). I can’t fathom how the Dems could do this to a constituency they claim to represent. Not only did they sell them out, the sold them cheaply, for a mere 3-4 day delay in a confirmation battle they were going to lose anyway. MeToo was sacrificed on the Altar of Abortion. Ironic and sad.

      2) men were walking for the doors, now they are running. Recent polling says more men are deciding not to hire women, not to travel with female co-workers , not to mentor them, not to be alone in an elevator with them. Shorter: to avoid putting themselves in ANY situation where a women could destroy their life with a false accusation of sexual assault.

      I am ignorant of Sarah’s career path, I only know of it from a few articles she wrote about going indie. So I’m curious: think back to all the times you were alone with a Larry Correia type… getting advice after a workshop in a conference room, drinks at a bar networking, being mentored, etc.

      Now remove all those solo interactions with men I your field. Do you think you would be as successful? As skilled?

      With apologies to Niven-Pournelle, the feminist movement died a millisecond after Dr Ford testified.

      • Most of the times I was mentored(twenty years or so ago) it was in a public setting. So there would be no difference. HOWEVER most of my friends are male and that would make a big difference.
        So it doesn’t apply to me, as much, but yes, this is a disaster for women starting out. Even conservative/libertarian women who would never do anything like this. This is what feminism has wrought. Like all Marxist derived movements, it destroys those it claims to help.

        • Way back when I made it a personal policy not to be alone with a guy, lest people talk about me or the guy make an assumption. Now it is to protect the guy. *snarl*

        • Thanks for taking a moment to read and respond. I’m not used to that. What strange world have I entered here? 🙂

          • I believe you may find yourself among friends here. Most commentary is reasoned and thoughtful, even when the respondent disagrees with your position.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        #MeToo was not kidnapped by the left. The fact pattern of the Hollywood sex abuse allegations was pretty clearly one where some Hollywood women were complicit in the sexual abuse of other Hollywood women. The narrative that replacing male Hollywood managers with female Hollywood managers would address things was at best self serving and at worse an attempt to paper things over in order to recover Hollywood’s public reputation. Rose McGowan came to the #MeToo activism from a background in LGBT activism.

        Secondly, the Obama era ‘Dear Colleagues’ letter, and Clinton’s campaign of ‘believe women’ were naturally leading this way. I can tell you that in 2016 when people were making fun of Mike Pence or of the Frenchs, I was thinking that the practices sounded like wisdom.

        Thirdly, I’m not inclined to trust in the polling.

        • The casting couch is so old that it’s beyond trope all the way to archetype. Weinstein’s proclivities were so well known that it was included in the dialog of an episode of Third Rock from the Sun (iirc) and openly spoken of in the comic laugh track of award ceremonies. If you were lucky enough to have a powerful friend in the industry you might be protected, because your friend *knew* and would protect you. Everyone knew.

          The ONLY thing that changed and created the #metoo movement was the overwhelming need to portray Trump’s locker-room braggadocio as a major sexual crime.

          And from anything we hear, drugs were just part of the scene that involved sex and the expectations of sex, the availability of both boys and girls and “freedom” to just reach out and have whatever you wanted. And then we hear that one of Weinstein’s accusers turned around and played with her underage boy toys. Even George Takei was accused of giving a date something to make him “more comfortable” and just assumed sex would happen. And some of these old guys and gals, including all the luminaries that *always* supporting Polanski, *always*, have to be confused and befuddled at this point because at worst the reaction would have been “creepy” and all the way to old female stars who simply enjoyed it all and can’t figure out what’s wrong with people today.

          Of course, looking to Hollywood for moral guidance is beyond ignorant. No matter that it explains the angry activism of so many celebrities or their twisted notions of what is “normal”.

          They STILL would have never turned on their own if they didn’t need so badly to make Trump into a monster.

  5. SIGH. Remember to tick the box…

    • Wish i could write a speech like that.

    • G’Kar had all the best lines. Though Na’Toth and Ta’Lon managed to pwn him a few times…

      G’Kar: “All my life… I have been responsible only for myself. When I risked, I risked alone to avoid making others pay the price for my mistakes. They want me to choose them another way. What if I show then the wrong way? What if they come to me not because of the lesson but because of the teacher? I worry, Ta’Lon, that my shadow may become greater than the message.”

      Ta’Lon: “If that happens, I give you my word that I will personally kill you.”

      G’Kar: “This is supposed to put my mind at ease?!!!”

      Ta’Lon: “I’m a warrior. It’s what I have to give.”

    • “Understanding is a three-edged sword.”

    • I plan to sit down with the baby when she gets home and FINALLY watch all the sci-fi shows I never got to watch or finish – all of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, Stargate, X-Files – while feeding her.

      (I can daydream, right?)

      • I did actually watch a fair amount of some stuff over my little one’s head, although I will note I didn’t have any older ones around!

      • Do Babylon 5 first!

        Before we had broadband (or there were DVD sets…) a friend loaned us all five seasons… on VHS tape!

        The videography and sets aren’t much to brag about, but the characters and stories were impressive. And B5 pretty much defined “story arc” for modern shows.

        midwinter.com has episode-by-episode guides, with and without spoilers, plus comments from the show’s creator.

        [as they send a failed assassin off-station]
        G’Kar: “With luck, they may never find you, but if they do, you will know pain…”
        Na’Toth: “…and you will know fear…”
        G’Kar: “…and then you will die. Have a pleasant flight.”

      • I would alternate Deep Space 9 and Babylon 5 episodes, giving DS9 a season headstart. JMS pitched B5 to Paramount and they came up with DS9 and got it on the air before B5 since he had to do syndication. DS9 fed off B5 once they both got on the air and got much better. Watching them that way is instructive.

        • I actually started watching DS9 – because the Housemate said that I should watch it – with the caveat that it would probably hurt to watch. (This was shortly after I’d lost second son.) He was right – I was sobbing at the end of it, because the scene where Sisko “exists here” was pretty much where… a part of me always will be.

          I’ve seen a few episodes of B5, and liked it, but the thing that stops me from just sitting down and watching series is day to day busyness. But like I said… I can dream!

          • B5 started off as episodic, but Straczynski quickly moved it to sets of overlapping “story arcs.” Each episode after that was theoretically standalone enough to make sense to a casual viewer, but some of what was going on always slotted into one of the story arcs.

            When my wife and I watched the whole thing through in sequence (on borrowed VHS tapes!) she commented, “This show would be really hard to follow if you were watching it on TV.” What with week-long delays and missing or out-of-sequence episodes, and people missing episodes due to Real Life(tm), I’m surprised it kept enough ratings to keep going.

            • It was overlapping story arcs from the pilot on. There was stuff set up in the pilot that paid off episodes or even seasons later.

              As far as I know, no episodes were broadcast out of sequence.

            • Actually we bought our first color TV so we could watch B5. (Yeah, yeah). In our market it was syndicated on different nights by 2 different channels, so we watched each episode twice each week, first for enjoyment and the second time to see how JMS did what he did. We had heard JMS for a number of years at local cons, and were eager to see “The project that cannot be named.”

        • If you’re going to go that route, you may as well look at the Year In Review for the year or two prior to each season, too; they were getting decently excited about a space station (which eventually became the ISS) in the late 80s.
          PaliWood was getting popular, so they had terrorists.

          Etc.

  6. What is truth? It’s whatever you perceive it to be. Unfortunately, what people perceive isn’t necessarily what is real. There’s the truth as Ford sees it (assuming she’s not lying.) There’s the truth as Kavanaugh sees it (assuming he’s not lying.) And there’s what really happened. Wouldn’t it be tragically funny if the reality was they were BOTH lying? Oy Vey. My head hurts just thinking about it.

    Well, 4% raises the past couple of years have been very nice. As having been employed for 40+ hours each week. And while I won’t say my retirement investments have doubled in the past two years, they are going like gangbusters, rough estimate of 14-15%. Does make me wonder if we’re seeing a repeat of the Roaring 20s, and wonder if we’ll see another Great Depression-sized swing in 12 years or so.

    However, when asked if I’m better off now than I was in 2014, I’ll answer with a resounding, “Hell Yeah!”

    • My husband got a raise for the first time in 10 years, last year. Kids are employed. Their cohort can afford to by *art*. I’m employed and have had several raises. Don’t know about retirement investments through our 401Ks. My married kid bought a house.

      Maybe it will be Roaring 20s followed by a Great Depression but I suppose the thing to do is not to *live* like the Roaring 20s and prepare for the Great Depression. Don’t add debt, get rid of as much as you can. Etc.

    • Mike as to your question are we in a bubble? Well I’ve read about the Roaring Twenties, and I’ve lived through the internet (web really) bubble and the housing bubble. Each time it was clear to anyone who paid attention that the market was not making sense.
      Venture capital firms handing over $10 million to a start-up with nothing but a paper plan, and then the start-up spent $1 million of that on a Superbowl ad. Likewise no-down payment housing loans with payments only matching the loan’s interest but no equity was clearly a red flag on the order of tulip mania.
      What I see now is a reorientation of the structure of the economy with some current inflationary pain while manufacturing returns to America rather than a bubble.
      Of course I could be wrong since as I once wrote on a history paper, “History is a Gordian knot that once unraveled leaves just enough rope to hang yourself with.”

      • Pallets full of money airlifted to Iran. Solyndra. *Two* ginormous “bailout” Recovery Acts. More than 21 trillion dollars the GAO can’t account for. The ongoing occupation forces in the Middle East.

        And that’s just what has hit the major news feeds in the last few years. You could drop all of Silicon Valley down some of those holes, and it wouldn’t even bump the sides on the way down.

        • TRX I’d like your message, but that seems wrong. Is there a button for “Aaagh!, but thanks for reminding me?”

    • Nah. For a great depression you need FDR

    • Per CNN:

      President Trump continues to be alive, Doesn’t care what problems this creates

      — Washington, DC

      After a contentious vote this past weekend, Donald Trump maintained a corporeal existence. Refusing, again, to step aside for a proper, qualified candidate to assume our nation’s highest office, he instead proceeded as if he had the authority to perform duties related to the position.

      Marion Jones, of Kentucky, sent an e-mail to this network pointing out that this represents more than six hundred days in which she has had to live in a country where Trump is considered a “leader” (sic). She states that her anxiety and nervous tension have made it nearly impossible to enjoy here recent pay raise. “What good does another meal dining out each week, or a few more days of vacation, when that…person, still hasn’t paid for all of his crimes?”

      Meanwhile, on the campus of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, junior year student Theresa Winton noted her own worry.

      “Every thing that man does affects me,all the time. Literally. I recently took a core science course, which I only took for points requirements. Anyway, the teacher said that all the stuff, or matter or whatever that exists affects all the other stuff, because of gravity. That means that Donald Trump has an influence on me, every moment of every day. It’s like he lurking near me every minute. It’s almost like a form of rape.”

      Powerful words in trying times.

  7. Reminds me of something James Lileks wrote, probably late 90s– he said something about “hey, I bet I can predict China’s growth for this year! Three percent. It’s always three percent.”

  8. In the late 1960s I attended a Quaker school in Philadelphia. Because of its population, we had a Ukrainian Christmas Choir. There were a few children of Jewish refuges from the USSR attending as well. There might have been more, but at the time many found it rather hard to get out of the USSR. I do not remember being surrounded by pro-USSR messages, quite the opposite. As a result what I heard and read of the sort in the 1970s and 80s fell on rather deaf ears.

    Mind you, we did not hear occasional pro-Marxist arguments, just not pro-USSR.

    • I think that it did make a huge difference where you were and what surrounded you. In the rural mid-west our teachers all hated commies, just like they were supposed to. While in college a person might meet the edgy progressives who might say that the USSR was really rather nice. Or, like me, your poly-sci professor could be Korean, in which case commies were evil, just like they ought to be. My mom, otoh, when exhausted by the never ending demands of a dairy operation, would wistfully muse about how farmers on huge government farms got vacations.

      • Cows gotta be milked twice a day, every day. One of the chief disadvantages of working for yourself; you don’t have that pipeline into hyperspace that lets you get paid for not working. My local take out burger place is closed this week because the owners are vacationing in the mountains.

        (A new dairy has sprung up locally; they diversified into not only milk production but distribution and agritourism—pet the calf, come have your birthday party here, buy ice cream here. They deliver their own brand of milk to local stores. It’s good too; they have Guernsies.)

        • Once you’re big enough to have a couple of employees, it’s easier to take off a few days here and there.

        • Come to think of it, my dad got the idea to have milk cows because he was worried about the economy and while I think we lost money on them the whole time we had them we did always have milk and a freezer full of beef pretty much right through the Carter Malaise, so while it might not have been a good decision on paper, it might actually have been worse for us during that down turn in the economy had we *not* had dairy cattle.

          (Tying this conversation in with Mike Houst’s comments, above.)

    • My apologies. I really need to learn to read my postings outloud to myself when I have edited them multiple times … we did hear occasions pro-Marxist argument.

  9. I’m far from sure what it keans, bt everywhere I go in the Philadelphia are these days, I see ‘help wanted’ signs. Three years ago? Not so much.

    • Stanley Steemer locally has just put up a *larger* “HELP WANTED” sign.

      BTW, I thought LibertyCon was always 4th of July weekend, but they have apparently moved to Memorial Day weekend (and their website shows them as “sold out”).

      • LibertyCon was usually a weekend around the 4th, yes. They sold out a very few hours after they went on sale on the 4th. I was very annoyed. I woke up early that day, and checked online while eating my cereal, and they weren’t on sale yet. I went off to do a few things (morning walk, quick trip to home improvement store, yardwork, etc.), took a shower, assembled a sandwich, sat down in front of the computer. . . and saw that they’d been sold out in the fourish hours since I’d checked.

      • I have heard that LibertyCon always sells out very quickly.

      • The location shift this year (for 2019) occasioned the date change. And yes, it sold out in three-four hours at most, leading to some investigation into questions about people buying blocks of memberships. Since the date collides with Day Job, I didn’t try to get tickets and I have not followed up on the question of bulk buys vs. people hitting refresh faster than my cat hits minced ham.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Toni Weisskopf and Kevin Anderson are going to be at Sooner Con on June 7-9 in Norman, Oklahoma. That is in the geographic area discussed for the hypothetical Liberty Con West. Do any prospective Liberty Con West organizers have great interest in attending and observing processes?

          • I would, but I’ll be in Poland (if all goes well and as planned.)

            • Say Hello to Lech for me.

              I keep getting feeds on the Tubes of You about Poland being the “Next Germany” or how it is destroying the EU (like that’s a bad thing or something)
              I think it is because the folks at Time Ghost are starting a “The Great War” style WW2 show and I subscribed, and this early it is all about Poland and it’s travails.

              • A few months ago Poland offered to pay cash money – between two and four billion US dollars – plus substantial infrastructure support if the United States would locate a military base on Polish soil.

                Not NATO. Not UN. Not the bureaucratic fustercluck EU military. A purely American presence.

                I saw a tiny blip go by more recently, that DJT had sent someone over to talk about that some more…

                Poland is already a member of the EU, NATO, and the United Nations. They probably remember they were members of the League of Nations too, and how that worked out in the end…

                Funny how polities look to the USA when they need military help. It seems to be a popular service; maybe we should start charging for it.

                • I should note that the Poles have a functional military that they actually bother to fund–in fact, they’re one of the few NATO countries that actually meets the funding target of 2% GDP.

                  • Damn. If Poland is still willing to take in other EU member country citizens when I retire I am starting to consider very strongly moving there. They seem to be one of the most sensible European countries right now.

                    Should probably start to study the language now.

                    Especially since as of now I do intend to go there on my next summer vacation. Health tourism to there is big, and I want to get my thyroid thoroughly examined. Might be nice to know at least the basics by then.

                • Glad the Poles and Ukraine are still willing to talk to us after getting the sh!t end of the stick from us all too often, recently.

                • Not only has Poland offered to pay the US for US forces bases on Poland’s territory, I remember President Trump address to the UN (or regarding the UN, maybe after a visit from one or more “allies”) & the little bitty problem with certain UN members not “paying their fair share”. He explicitly brought up that an offer had been made to pay the US to put bases where they weren’t yet (don’t remember if Poland was mentioned explicitly), & pay good money for the ongoing costs. Said it got him thinking that as cost saving measures maybe closing down & removing infrastructures from members who were complaining about not wanting US there wasn’t a bad idea; if they really wanted US to stay they should start paying for the privilege.

                  President Trump went on to state it made sense when the bases & staffing with US forces when some of the bases went in, that at that time, the protection was needed & the various countries couldn’t afford it. But now that those economies are booming (S. Korea, Japan, etc.) that they should pay for continued US presence or the US should just pull out. That it made absolutely no sense that US should fit the bill one more minute.

                  Seems that his comments were ignored in general, other than UN members not paying their fair share. Definitely no kerfuffle about abandoning UN members by closing bases & bring troops home …

          • $HOUSEMATE and myself delayed our going out for breakfast that morning just to be sure we’d register. We were not the first, but were rather early in the list. I had some minor delay and was surprised at how many registrations there were between $HOUSEMATE’s and my own in what was likely no more than a couple minutes.

            I knew things were going fast, but being just under four hours? Boggling.

          • I was going to say that it was driving distance but it’s 8+ hours of driving distance. Which is pretty much “just kill me now” driving distance.

            Airfare looks like $400 round trip from here.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Question: are any of Amarillo, TX, Wichita, Dallas, or Edmund, OK a saner amount of driving distance? Little Rock? Colorado Springs?

              • Colorado Springs isn’t too bad. I did that last February. Amarillo is about exactly half the distance, only four hours drive from Albuquerque.

                It’s not that I can’t drive for 8 hours or more. I drive to Minnesota in two *long* days. What I can’t do is get up the *next* day and go to work. So I’d have travel day, followed by recovery day. Which makes a three day weekend into a total of six days of down-time and at least three days of vacation time used.

            • What?

              The Daughter and I once met a couple from England sitting on a wall on an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville NC. They asked me where we were from and how far that was from Asheville. When I told them that it was a bit over two hours away they asked me where we were going to spend the night. They just gaped when I explained that this was only a day trip. We’d be spending most of the day on the Parkway and then be heading home later that night.

              • I used to make the Little Rock – Colorado springs run fairly often. One time, coming back, I stopped at a McD’s in Raton NM for a break. There was a pack of Gold Wing riders there. One of them asked where I had left from. I told them Colorado Springs. They acted impressed. (you’re looking at two hours of mostly freeway, not exactly a major trip…)

                Another remarked I’d be tired when I got home. I told them I probably would; it was another 800 miles to Little Rock.

                Shock. “On THAT?!”

                I guess an XJ900 looked awfully sporty to them… I waved goodbye and slept in my own bed that night.

                The Wingers? They were out of Pueblo… it was their monthly major excursion.

                • (you’re looking at two hours of mostly freeway, not exactly a major trip…) 

                  On freeway it isn’t to me either.  Living off of I-40 in the Piedmont of NC that puts me in pretty easy access of a day in either the mountains or at the ocean.  

                  I gather that there are people who don’t take to extended road travel.  Travel, as opposed to sitting in a traffic jam, as far as I know nobody enjoys traffic jams. 

                  I have what one friend calls an iron bottom when it comes to long distance driving.  Still, to attempt the run from Colorado Springs to Little Rock at one go was beyond my capacity when I was in the best of heath.  That seems either foolhardy or impressive.  Or both.

                  • I still do long trips; but I find I have to stop a bit more frequently for latrine breaks and stretching.

                    • I was under doctors orders to take a walk every couple of hours on the road after a prolonged hospital stay resulted in a clotting problem. I have kept it up. I also carry some light weights and a couple of bands for stretching. I found the combination helps immensely with my overall functionality.

                    • I make sure to have a full glass of water next to me whilst driving, and empty it enough to ensure that I get out of the seat every two hours or so. Resets the brain a bit as well as the backside. Doesn’t matter if I’m in the car, RV, or Semi, I always take the stroll.

                    • On that particular trip I was rolling along quite briskly. I passed the same motorhome a dozen times between Amarillo and OKC. The corollary of “sporty” is “cramped riding position”, and I’d swing into every rest stop, if only to walk to the water fountain and back to the bike.

                      The third or fourth time I passed the motorhome, the driver would either wave or salute me with his coffee cup…

                      It was only sixteen to eighteen hours; I made a lot of rides that long. But once arthritis set in it sucked the fun out of motorcycles, and I finally hung up my helmet.

                      Nowadays, more than half an hour in a car and I’m half-crippled… no more road trips for me.

                  • I think the longest trip I drove in one day when I was in USA was from Chattanooga to Chicago. Not too bad. I have driven longer. Although I was also younger back then. 🙂

                  • My poor husband is one– he’s dang near dying after RIDING in the car for ten hours, and driving puts him out flat. We have to schedule a day extra after any long trip for him to recover from sitting there for so long.

                    Me, a 16 hour trip isn’t THAT bad, you just sleep in the next morning.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Once upon a time, our family drove all night from Danville Illinois to Gettysburg National Park.

                      The “plan” was for Ruth & I to sleep in the back seat while Mom & Dad to “trade off driving & sleeping”.

                      However, nobody in the car slept a bit and when we got into Gettysburg, we went on a “driving tour” of the Park.

                      We spent the full day touring the Park but we had no problems getting to sleep that night (in a hotel). 😆

                  • I drove 1400 miles straight through from Watertown, NY to Tulsa, OK once – exactly ONCE. I was stationed at Ft. Drum and wanted to get the family home for Christmas with as little “wasted” time on the road as possible. 26 hours later I was wasted from the road and had decided to never do that again. That’s when the 20-somethimg year Sith apprentice learned a valuable lesson that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

                • Sounds a lot like the Coors run from Texarkana to Lakewood Speedway in Georgia. 😀

                • *Looks up the bike*

                  ❤ ❤ ❤

                  GOOD bike, mom had one of the old ones and used it for changing sprinklers– I have no idea how fast we were going, but I spent some really fun afternoons holding to her waist as we zipped across fields.

                  • That was hands-down the best-looking motorcycle I ever had. When we’d eat out, my wife would pick a table where she could watch people admire it…

              • I think I did a visitor (probably a Brit by his accent) a bad turn a couple of years ago. I was traveling on a Sunday (it was already a bit past ten, and church was at eleven) and met the man at the Citgo station outside of Jamesville, NC. His wife had bandage on her leg; a professional bandage mind you and he remarked about it. He asked how far to Manteo, NC. I took a guess and told him two hours (straight east on US-64). He was surprised. I get the feeling (he probably told me that) he had taken US-17 straight north out of Washington or Jacksonville; the coast bends northeast at Jacksonville. I feel like I should have told him to double back to Swanquarter and take the ferry so his wife could get out and walk, but I hurried on like the Pharisee who passed the man on the other side of the road because I had to get to the other side of Plymouth by 10:45 at the latest. It would have taken five minutes at the most for me to help him that little bit. (Two roads diverged in wood, and I took the well-travelled path.)

              • Oh, I do that all the time. Anything under an hour is a quick trip with kids, and I’ve done a lot further on a day trip basis, still with kids.

                It’s 500 miles to Grandma’s house. We do that several times a year.

          • That bumps up Soonercon on my list of cons to go to… It’s more or less local to me. If anyone’s interested I’ll see what the prices are, hubby’s been wanting to go. I’ve helped run cons before. (Never one of the head honchos, but Chief Minion.) So I’ve an idea what to look for.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              40$ for the weekend if registering prior to 1/1/19. After that, it goes up, and 55$ is listed as the door price.

      • Local restaurant just opened a new location near us– they had to delay a month and change because they couldn’t find anybody to work there, even with good pay and at least one of the waitresses wanting to move to the new location because it’s closer to her house.
        They ended up pulling one of the chefs from their other location and opening from 11-4 on week days, then 11-9 on Friday and Saturday night. Just last week they got enough people to be able to open up 11-9 all week, and they’re constantly packed.
        Bunch of the stores you can’t find anybody to help because they all went to better paying jobs!

    • I started hearing ads in late 15. Went up hard starting in 17. Hell, my bonus and raise last year were almost the sum of last three years.

  10. From “industry spam” in my inbox.

    “A multi-million-dollar shale gas-linked modernization project has helped restore a West Virginia cement facility inactive for 10 years. LafargeHolcim, a global entity that provides cement and other materials, has brought back the site for shale gas.”

    (The “cement” is a particular product that goes between the sides of the pipe and the earth and the reason that a drill hole really can’t get oil or gas in your ground water.)

    But right there… “inactive for 10 years”. So there are now some “new” jobs in West Virginia.

    • DAMN that Trump! New jobs in WV? That won’t get HIM re-elected! /sarc

      • He can always take a page from Hillary’s book, and talk about how he intends to shut down coal mining if he gets elected, because of Teh Environmentz.

        After all, it *totally* helped Hillary nail the West Virginia vote!

        I guess her ivory tower was high enough there was an anoxia problem… even considering my opinion of the woman, it’s hard to get my mind around that level of arrogant cluelessness.

    • Also known as “mud” because it’s pumped down as a slurry.

  11. Eight “Summers of Recovery” we had… Well, we did have eight summers, but no recovery until 2017. The media did their part, as indentured servants to the Dems.

  12. I find that a useful metric for finding something like the truth is to consider whether the source would prefer matters to be otherwise. One of the best argument stoppers I know concerning Gun Control is that Lawrence Tribe (Harvard Professor of Comstitutional Law), who FAVORS gun control, has stated flatly that the Second Amendment does indeed involve a personal rather than a collective right. Thus, many gun control measures he would like to see adopted would require a Constitutional amendment.

    It doesn’t happen all that often on the Left; they are far too accustomed to lying. But when it DOES happen, it is gold.

  13. Why in the eighties I read a poor idiotic journalist who’d visited the USSR enthuse in the Charlotte paper about how the very simple cartoon she’d seen on Russian TV represented their embrace of simple living and sophisticated aesthetics. When in fact it represented their penury, their old equipment and, yes, the fact that their audience had no other choice.
    ———————–

    A while back, I read an article by a photographer who’d taken pictures of locations in East Germany shortly after the wall had come down, and then much later went back and took pictures of those same locations. The differences were stark. And yet, the photographer opined that in many cases he preferred the dilapidated, crumbling buildings that were shown in his older photographs. I don’t remember the reason why, but it might have been something about the buildings having more character. Or something along those lines.

    I did some searching and found this article here –

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/reunification-renovations-a-massive-facelift-for-eastern-germany-a-720326.html

    It’s not exactly what I remember. So it’s possible that what I originally read had more comments from the original photographer than what’s in this article. Or I might just be misremembering.

    Click the picture in the article to go to the gallery.

    • Nostalgie de la boue is a thing for spoiled leftist. It’s not like they have to live there, so they can be all enthused by other people living in mud and squalor.

    • It’s the same disease of the mind that calls sprucing up an inner city neighborhood “gentrification” and longs for the Times Square of the 1970s.

      Because well-kept houses and clean, safe streets are too “artificial” and “inauthentic” and “bourgeois”.

      /spits

      • Gentrification or white-flight… can’t win. /spits

      • Not having anywhere to go “slumming” is such a bummer.

        • Because slums are so “genuine”, showing what humans are truly like, both their worst and their best.

          An argument I have seen.

          There actually is bit of truth in that, maybe. The ill-mannered woman spitting in your face and yelling at you vs the equally mean bourgeois neighborhood woman who hides her meanness under her fake manners and instead spreads rumors. But there probably are fewer mean ones around when good manners and politeness are valued. In the more “genuine” societies meanness tends to be required, just for survival.

          • I was chatting with a woman at a Christmas party. She’d been to… Budapest? Maybe? Some very old East European city anyway. And she gushed about how *honest* the people were there in their racial or ethnic biases, as if that was a good thing, somehow. I don’t recall how she explained it or what words or phrases she used other than my thinking (but not saying) that she was a nut case not to recognize (because she didn’t) that they were simply *racists* and that it wasn’t better or “honest” or “more authentic” just because she was in a foreign country. But she had to work it into her narrative where America was uniquely guilty and double guilty that we seemed to care so much more about removing those “honest” and “authentic” expressions from our public life than they did.

            • I mean, in a way I’d rather people were honest with me than not, even if they hate my guts–if nothing else, that way I know who I need to ward myself from.
              But it is better to live in a society where people have to at least pretend to not judge people based on who they are rather than what they’ve done than otherwise.

              • Most people are honest, and bigots more honest than most. And most people who try to avoid offense (back when that was possible) aren’t being dishonest because they really care about avoiding offense. The whole “dog whistle” and “code words” thing is mostly an attempt to create monsters to fight, and since (in general) Americans (used to, when it was possible) want very badly to defeat racism (when it was something you actually believed or did and not the color of your skin, again, when it was *possible*) they would do the soul and sin searching and confession.

                At which point people here and especially in other countries would point and say “look how racist they are” when the truth is that we’re mostly not racist at all compared to most other places in the world. We just *fetishize* our confession of our original sin.

                Oh, and the very nice Polish lady I met in Florida wouldn’t consider herself racist against the Roma because in her mind everyone knows the simple truth about the Roma. It’s just this American who found her statements shocking in their bias.

                That Americans are hyper-sensitive to these sorts of things does not make us MORE guilty of them. And the proof that we’re not actually guilty in any real way AT ALL, the *proof*, is that the definitions have had to be changed so that racial bias isn’t something believed or said or acted on any longer. There’s so little real racism that they had to invent a new sort that defines you as racist simply because of the color of your skin.

          • > slums

            I don’t know if “Leningrad Cowboys Go America” is as amusing in Finnish as it was in English, but it sure showed a lot of America that seldom makes it to film…

    • Shortly after reunification I saw a photo essay — East Germany vs West Germany. Main difference between that and Detroit-then-and-now photo essays being that in the East there didn’t appear to have ever been much industry, but whatever was there was Detroit-level dilapidated.

    • any regime that can make Germans lazy and slovenly is a BAD one.

    • Well, from a photographic perspective, ruins are almost always more fun to shoot. Doesn’t mean you want to live there.

  14. I was a weird kid – I read everything I could find and had this weird idea that before I expressed an opinion I should read the writings of the person I was talking about. Therefore I read Hitler, Marx, Machiavelli, Mahan, von Clausewitz, Thomas Aquinas, Newton and many others. I loved math, physics and logic; Spock was almost a soul mate! The result was I tended to analyze things to their end point instead of to where I got the result I wanted.
    I new before I was out of high school that if we could manage to avoid a nuclear war, the Soviet Union was doomed. Having read Plato, I believed that I owed the nation that gave me life had a claim on my own life (see his reply to friends who wanted him to flee rather than to commit suicide as ordered) so I joined the army. Flying along the boarder between the East and West Germany I noted that all the watch towers on the East German side had their machine guns pointing east into their own land. They had to used heavy firepower just to keep their “citizens” (slaves) from escaping to the west.
    I grew up in Texas, read sci-fi and “oat operas” (love Louis L’Amour-all of his work) and it shaped my idea of what men (generic work for human race for those who are victims of the modern ignorance, er education, system) should be like. Love Doc Smith, Heinlein, Clark, Asimov, Pournelle and now, of course , Hoyt (you are in great company, dear lady). I really despise those who tell me I am too fragile to do things on my own. I’m medically retired from the army (back injury in RVN) and have been on pain meds for over 45 years. I went through the PTSD (we didn’t call it that then) period, was suicidal for a while and my bride stuck by me the whole time. When they canonize her, I’ll be the reason. An NVA POW spent well over 12 hours, one night, just talking to me. He was the first man who understood; when he said “I understand” he did, in spades. All the warm, fuzzy, “I know how you feel ” clowns just really p*ss*d me off.
    I worry about my beloved country when I see all the stupid snowflakes worried about being “triggered” and then I come across a group like this, or a bunch of special ops folks (I have friends in low places 😀 ). Then I have great hope for the future.
    Well done to you and your friends and fans.

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