I Want To Teach the World to Sing- A Blast From The Past From January 2014


I Want To Teach the World to Sing- A Blast From The Past From January 2014


When I was a kid I went through years of angst, because you see, what I wanted to do – all I wanted to do, the only work I didn’t find boring or annoying – was write, and yet I had imbued the belief that I should do something that “was socially relevant” or “contributed to society.”

In part this is why I ended up studying languages.  Yep, I was going to “foster international understanding.”  (Which of you giggled?  Have a carp!)

Do I need to go into why this was stupid?  Yes?

Look, I have nothing against believing you have something to contribute to the world beyond what the world is willing to pay you for.  If I did, I wouldn’t have done the years of soul-sucking making no money whatsoever work needed to actually get good enough at my work to make money.  Unfortunately writing is one of those things that really can’t be taught in the classroom.  Or not well.

The problem I have is with believing that you should do something that “contributes to society” beyond, you know, what people are willing to pay you for.

The reason I object to this, is that this sort of do-goodism tends to fall into the “Christmas gifts to total strangers.”  You’re giving someone things they don’t want, at great expense to yourself, and the things will just get discarded or used in ways you’ll never think of.  In the worst case scenario, in which your desire to ‘give back to society’ leads you to become a politician, you end up making laws to make people use those ‘gifts’ that you insist on giving them because you’re sure they’re good for them.  Obamacare for instance, is sort of like passing a law that forces everyone to wear the Christmas sweater knit by their aunt Peggy, the one with the odd color tastes, who is near blind and has the attention span of a hamster, so that the thing is ugly, shoddy and full of dropped stitches that start unravelling the moment you put the sweater on.

Look, first all – why do you need to give back to society?  When did you steal it?

I’m not saying that the fact we live in a civilized society isn’t a great boon.  (Though becoming less of one as… never mind) I’m not saying we all don’t make use of the various inventions since fire, or that I’m not grateful that people with more engineering skill than I have made things like this here computer I’m bootstrapping onto the information superhighway (which might have been started with a government program – so, arguably, if you want to go there, legalized theft – but which became what it is by the grace of porn, lolcats and Heinlein flame wars.  I’m an active participant in the last two!)

What I’m saying is that none of those things was done for my benefit.  It’s not like at the dawn of mankind someone said “Hey, Og, somewhere in the future there will be this chick named Sarah who will need this fire thing.  Let’s do it for her!”  It’s not even like it’s being maintained for my benefit.  In the bowels of the technocracy, Engineer 24 doesn’t get up every morning and say “Hey, let’s make sure that Sarah has the internet up so she can write her blogs, so that her huns are distracted a few more hours.  You know, if those guys became disgruntled, they could be dangerous.”  (Okay, maybe Engineer 24 says that.  He doesn’t know ya’ll were never, so to put it, gruntled.)

Yes, I have the benefit of living in a civilized (waggles hand) society.  But that is mostly because every member in it gets up in the morning, scratches a place or two, grumbles through a shower and breakfast and then goes to work (those of us who work – a brave and increasingly small minority.  We few, we lucky few) because it’s in his/her best interests to go to work – because work benefits him/her in ways either monetary or psychological.  (And here, no fooling, though I’m making a point about working for money not immaterial yayas, if you’re unemployed and it looks to be long term – and in this economy… — consider setting a schedule and working every day at something.  It could be “just” looking for a job, or it could be learning a new skill that might allow you to contract out.  Or it might be, if your spouse/support person is working, cleaning the house and taking burdens off his/her shoulders so you’re contributing something.  I’m not saying get up, put work clothes on and sit down to work 9 to 5.  You might, of course.  I often do.  BUT the important thing is to do something focused and organized, so your day isn’t a blob.  It is not good for man – or woman – to be idle.  But the point is do it for your own benefit.  Have what you do contribute something to your values and your way of life.  Don’t do it “for the people.”)

This idea of doing something “to benefit” faceless others, whether they’re “society” or “the people.” When I was eight, my father told me that the greatest crimes against humanity have been committed in the name of “the people” – I’m now fifty one.  I have only seen this confirmed over and over again.

The reason for this is that “the people” or “society” can’t talk.  (Not really.  Yes, there’s polls.  There’s also lies, damn lies and statistics.)  That means that “doing something for the people” becomes “doing something to the people” which involves in turn “forcing the people to do things I want.”  And the “best” part is you can do it with a glow of virtue because you’re “giving back to society” for all the roads and internet and things.

The sheer and rank stupidity of these “altruistic” “gifts” to society is obvious when you think of trying to “give back” to say, your family.  No, seriously.  My family gives me tons in emotional support, work, sudden help with something I screwed up (thank you honey for keeping the computers running, and sons for driving me to the vet because I don’t want to drive in snow, and for countless cups of tea fetched, and for moving furniture so I can paint walls, and–.)  So, periodically I try to give back.  Unless this is focused and specific (say, they’re sick, and I make them lemon tea) it tends to backfire.  Like when the boys were 12 and 8 and I decided to take time to play with them, because I was always writing.  A) they’d planned a computer game marathon, and I really couldn’t play on their computer.  B) they became very suspicious of my motives, and got weird.  C) they led me to the office and told me to write.  Or take the time I rearranged my husband’s office to “make it nice” for him, and we had one of the worst arguments of our marriage.  (Turned out he liked the way his office was.)

If you can’t “give back” to your nearest and dearest with any degree of accuracy – beyond doing your part in the running of house and family – even supposing you owe society something… HOW are you going to give it back?

If only there were some way to be able to tell when society wants something.  I mean, wants it enough to value it, and not to receive it with a half-embarrassed smile and a “thank you, aunt Peggy” and then pitch it in the trash – laws allowing?  If only there were some arcane way of telling when someone wanted something enough!

Oh, I know – we’ll have these tokens that people can give each other in exchange for goods and services – cool, uh?

You’ll know that a good or service is needed/wanted by how many tokens people are willing to give you for it.

It’s a little risky, of course.  Say that you wish to do something, and train for it, and later find that no one will give you tokens for it.  There will be a few of those tragedies, but fortunately the cost will be born by individuals and is usually recoverable-from, since all skills have auxiliary skills that can be used to get the tokens, even though they might not be what the person REALLY wants to do.  But they can do that in their spare time, when they’ve exchanged their tokens for food and rent, right?

At least we can dispense with the massive bureaucracy to weigh the contributions of engineers one through twenty four and decide what compensation they should receive!  Yeah.  Let’s install the token-exchange system.

What?  What do you mean it’s already been done?  Oh.  I see.  Og sold the secret of fire for enough salt to put on the meat he cooked?  Miraculous.  You mean he didn’t invent fire “to give back to society” for the pelts and things he got? And then, over time, the exchange evolved to symbolic tokens, so we can all shop for what we want and need without carrying a live goat in each pocket?  And all of this takes place on its own, without government intervention?  And in fact goes on despite government intervention, in the form of black markets, in tyrannies?  And it gives us an accurate representation of what large numbers of people want and need?  (Don’t blame me if what they want and need is often the sham wow.) Who would have thought of that?

… Certainly not our enlightened leaders, and not anyone who has gone through school systems in western countries, where we are taught that greed (i.e. making money in exchange for what you produce) is bad, and that your aim in life should be to “improve the world” and “change society.”

Heck, they convinced even me.

I’m not the best example.  Translation would probably have paid better in the long run.  But I couldn’t take it.  Turns out – I know, shocker – that if people understood what everyone says the world over, we’d have a ton more wars.  (Not to mention murders of entire countries.  Think of it as the family of nations babbling loudly in the back seat of the world car.  “If Syria doesn’t stop singing that annoying song, I’m going to bash its collective head.”  “Iran, if you don’t stop whining about Israel, I’m going to come back there and give you what for.”  “No, honestly, Greece, if you ate all your cookies, Germany doesn’t have to give you any.”  “And no one touch anyone else!”)

So, I went into writing and so far – slowly – it pays enough for my simple needs, though the irregularity of pay makes me neurotic like a shaved Persian.  And besides, I have plans to make more.  And I bear the cost of my failures – i.e. I throw my own d*mn Christmas sweaters in the trash, instead of making laws to force everyone to wear them.

Honestly, given the fractured histories and fraught personalities of people who devote their lives to “giving back to society” all I can think is “and they give it to society good and hard.”

For the rest of us – particularly the idealistic fools among us – by all means don’t turn your back on charity.  Help those in need if you know what they need and are sure you’re not projecting.  (The best way to do this is to give to those you know well, because then you also know when aid becomes a shackle and know when to stop. Always remember, in charity as in anything else, that your first rule should be “first do no harm.”)

But as your main work in life?  Do what people will pay you for.  Study how to optimize your work so they give you more.  If you fail, pick yourself up, figure out what your mistake was, and start again.

And don’t worry about being “greedy.”  Unless you’re making money by playing currency speculation (and even that might have its uses in G-d’s wide world.  I just don’t understand enough to tell you what they are) or other financial shell games dependent on a system of crony capitalism, take that money as a sign you’re doing something society wants.

Heaven knows why society would want the sham wow.  But if that’s what they do want, give it to them and take the money, and laugh all the way to the bank.

The other way lies incompetence, greed for power, coercion, and truly nasty Christmas sweaters (or non functional health systems) that you’re required by law to use and pay for.

Give back to society like Og did – go make some money!

85 thoughts on “I Want To Teach the World to Sing- A Blast From The Past From January 2014

  1. Going along with “Giving Back To Society” is the infamous “You Didn’t Build That”. 😡

    1. The fun of watching someone in construction answer that. “Yeah, I did. Me and about 30 other guys…” The California transplant was Not Amused. (everyone else was though.)

  2. So, don’t follow the passion for trolling, based on some vague notion of societal good from the result.

    Follow a passion that does not require constant efforts to monetize.

  3. Didn’t Rand say, giving people values by force is like giving them an art museum at the price of putting out their eyes.

  4. As far as the cat’s concerned, I owe a debt to felinity to push back from the computer and provide a lap for 18 pounds of floof. Why waste my hands on typing comments when they could be put to higher uses, like scritching a cat?

    …given only the cat benefits from this, I stand by my assertion that cats are furry little socialists.

      1. Cats have staff. And they are very adamant that their staff be attentive and ready to serve at all times 🙂

    1. Except you benefit…if you didn’t you’d have life with cats.

      Life without cats is very sad…I mean, I probably like your cat more than you (generic you, not specific) to the point it says so in my social media profiles.

    2. Studies have proven that skritching a cat has significant health benefits, including lower blood pressure, reduced tension and a greater sense of well-being.

      Claims that such studies were funded by grants from the American Feline Association are irrelevant.

      1. Made me laugh– I think dogs need their own association for advertisement purposes. They stopped at “man’s best friend” slogan and thinks it is enough to keep them in the running.

    3. Cats are highly autocratic. Of course they are the autocrats. You are the minion. Perhaps the beloved servant, but that depends on the cat.

    1. Yet they get angry if we say, “you didn’t build that.”

      I swear, I used to find Rand overblow and annoying then 2008 came and the masks came off and most of one political party and (especially post 2016) a significant fraction of the other revealed they were Rand villains.

    2. Actually that would be the Defense Department built that (ARPANet), and we turned it into plowshares (or maybe pornshares?)

      1. DoD and ARPA provided the funding and some guidance/management, but most of the actual work and hardware fabrication was done by private industry and university researchers.

      2. ARPAnet was (and is) used for military purposes. Just like GPS. Civilian uses are a nifty sideline.

  5. I firmly believe that operating an honest, fair business, treating employees and customers decently (a matter to be determined through mutual negotiation, not outside intervention) and turning a tidy profit — which I take as evidence of efficiently serving a societal need — is all the contribution society merits. Anything else is simply butting in where my help may well not be needed and may well not be help so much as enablement.

  6. “Engineer 24 doesn’t get up every morning and say “Hey, let’s make sure that Sarah has the internet up so she can write her blogs, so that her huns are distracted a few more hours. You know, if those guys became disgruntled, they could be dangerous.””

    Actually, I’m fairly certain that someone in the FBI/CIA has done a study on internet gaming and social networking as a means of diverting large masses of people from efforts at otherwise useful but socially disruptive endeavors. Let’s face it, if some 20-somethign is in his Mom’s basement playing World of Warcraft all day, he’s not complaining of not having a job, or seeking to overthrow the government, and he’s susceptible to social engineering comments both in game, on fan boards, and other social media such that when WoW shuts down for maintenance on election day, he or she can go vote like a good little progressive drone.

    1. I am always relieved to learn that some number of government bureaucrats have been spending their time surfing the internet for [naughty pictures] rather than inventing new crimes with which to charge businesses.

      1. I’d happily award them bonuses for doing so if we can’t just eliminate their positions outright.

        Yes, I realize that’s kind of a protection thing, “nice economy, pay me $10k or I’ll waste $100k of it”, but it is what it is.

        At this point I think most welfare programs are little more than protection rackets.

        1. Damn. No bonus for me, I actually do somewhat useful work.

          (Porn + DOD computer = instant firing)

      2. That would be why I cheered whenever I heard Obama was at the golf course again. The country was far better of with him holding a putter than a pen and phone!

  7. “Look, first all – why do you need to give back to society? When did you steal it?”
    How quaint, how behind the times this attitude has come to be.
    The current meme amongst apparently a great many millenials seems to be “I didn’t ask to be born, so society owes me reparations!”
    Such epitomized in the doofus who is trying to sue his parents for that very same harmful act upon him. They never asked his permission to have him, so they somehow owe him compensation, go figure.
    Slightly less egregious, but much in the same vein, are the demands for free stuff that abound in the younger generations and those that cater to them.
    Free food, free medical coverage, free education up through graduate school, and that magical living wage paid no matter whether your job is worth that to an employer or not. Hell, until she was called on it and backed away AOC was even demanding wages for everyone whether they felt like working or not.

    1. Gee, we’re sorry. You’re mother risked her life to carry you to term and birth you. We changed 10,000 of your horrible diapers. We fed you, clothed you, gave you a roof over your head for 18 years, taught you to speak and stand on your own two feet, gave you educational opportunities. And now you have the unmitigatable gall, the audacity, the sheerest expression of greed, envy and selfishness to demand reparations for our having birthed you? How about we present you a $250,000 bill for all that? You want to complain about that, we can add the cost of 18 years of lost investment opportunities to that; run it up to a million or so.

        1. That seems related to my thoughts on cradle-to-grave social programs.

          We paid for for your birth, subsequent medical and dental needs, feeding, schooling, and housing. And you think you own yourself? BWAHAHAAA-HA-HA!!! That’s the price we paid for you, slave.

    2. I didn’t ask to be born, so society owes me reparations!

      Certainly, son. Would you like your reparations in the form of lead, chlorine gas, or rope.

      After all, such reparations correct what you are complaining about.

    3. Hell, until she was called on it and backed away AOC was even demanding wages for everyone whether they felt like working or not.

      I am waiting for the day.

      The reality is at any particular mix of taxation on income and free stuff availability a certain fraction of the population will decide not working is okey dokey even if it means a drop in physical standard of living because they can use their time more enjoyably than a job.

      I have a pretty good idea at what point I cross the line and it seems AOC et al want to bid up to it.

      Of course, most of that free time will be spent canning like crazy and storing up propane and other things to survive when the ratio to workers to loafers overloads the system.

      1. At some point even the dullest peasant is going to realize that they are being played and stop working in that scenario. It’s really only a matter of time until everyone decides that working is a sucker’s game, at 70% income tax or higher it isn’t even going to take all that long to happen.

        Then again with the restricted travel and dietary options what are you going to spend money on? You can’t go anywhere and you’re going to be stuck eating nothing but veggies.

        1. Isn’t that pretty much what happened in Venezuela? The government promised that it’s oil wealth meant nobody had to work, so nobody did. And because nobody was working, the economy went straight to hell.

          1. If I remember correctly they nationalized the oil industry and put it in the hands of the local ‘experts’ who promptly ran it into the ground at mach 10. If they would have been smart enough to leave oil alone they might have been able to get other people to keep paying for their socialism.

            1. No, they put it into the hands of the top socialists…who promptly looted it.

              THIS is the big problem with socialism. The top government officials become very, very rich, everybody else lives in various degrees of poverty.

          2. How does the saying go:

            Everyone knew that somebody need to do that, but everyone did not believed they were the somebody who needed to do that, therefore nobody did that. Because that didn’t get done, everyone dies. The End.

              1. Yes. That’s the one. Must admit however, the other one is shorter. 😉 Unintentionally, just couldn’t remember it correctly.

                //FWIW really getting tired of WP’s antics. sigh//

    4. There’s a scene in “Goodfellas” which describes a favored tactic of the Mafia crews. Pick a joint, and run up a huge tab night after night. When the owner ask for payment, throw a fit and threaten him. He’s forced to go to the big boss for partnership. When that happens, you own him, and you run the place into the literal ground (and burn it for the insurance).

      The free crap socialist are begging for is very much like this. The more you turn over to the government, the more they own you.

    5. Then there was the one moaning about “enforced puberty” ruining his/her/whatever’s life and society owes them the costs of becoming whatever sex they are currently not.

      Look, sweetie, trust me. No one gets asked about puberty, ‘cuz if we were, a whole lot of us would just as soon skip that whole awkward phase and spring directly into physical maturity.

    6. Young, crud, that argument was in the 70s or 80s Reader’s Digest articles for then-college kids– which means tail-end boomers or early X.

  8. Mencken wrote several blasts against the fashionable (then) nortion of ‘service’, which he maintained distracted businessmen from their legitimate occupation of providing sound goods at reasonable prices.

  9. Currency speculation has the same benefit as any other speculation. It stabilizes the market. That is as long as the speculators in any field do not cheat.

  10. And here, no fooling, though I’m making a point about working for money not immaterial yayas, if you’re unemployed and it looks to be long term – and in this economy… — consider setting a schedule and working every day at something.

    This is huge. I suspect it is also a problem for a lot of people who try to work from home. I know I do badly working from homr.

    In fact, as part of the now just over 7 year plan to transition to a writing career the business plan included, “cheap office space for writing” to make sure I “get up and go to work”.

    1. I was gruntled the day after MLK day last month, starting about 4:30pm while I was in the Detroit airport.

      Today I am gruntled and will probably stay that way through Friday and maybe the weekend.

  11. And on the flip side of this is the idea that society has a say in your work. Which is how we get crap like the Amelie Zhou debacle.

  12. Sarah, As usual you leave too much for me to comment on in one comment, so first to those who want to “save the planet”: I love Nature for its beauty, for the knowledge I can glean from studying it, and for the use I can make of it to make my human life and those of my fellows easier and better. I recycle and pick up stray litter, not for Nature’s sweet sake, but because I don’t want to live in a pig’s mud hole. Nature doesn’t care, she’ll turn anything to her use. Thinking that we can ruin the planet is mere hubris, but we can to some degree shape our local environment to better our own lives. Nature has never done anything for me except try to kill me every day of my life. I don’t return that indifference because I am human, and that makes all the difference.

    1. Agree. Earth & nature doesn’t care that the Chicago, or Hudson, rivers are burning. Same with whether the fish in the Willamette, Mckenzie, Siuslaw, or Umpqua, rivers (my neck of the woods) are safe to eat. Or that salmon are coming in from the ocean to spawn & restart the cycle.

      OTOH I do. I like trout & salmon. Others do to. Also don’t want to live in dirty mud hole. So, yes I do what I can to prevent problems from my perspective; don’t litter, leave areas cleaner when I leave than when I got there. Approve of reasonable restrictions/regulations to prevent pollution & when problems occur, spend public money to make those accountable when possible, clean it up when not. But it is not to benefit the world or nature. It’s because we as a physical natural component have to live, or die, with the consequences.

  13. I have reluctantly concluded that the tax exemption for charities, non-profits, churches, and all other such world-savers must be eliminated. The true charities will still work to do good, but all our current system does is create tax-subsidized influence peddling and a constituency for higher taxes–that they don’t have to pay. As The Great Communicator once said when opposing withholding for California income taxes, “Taxes SHOULD hurt.”

    1. I’ve come to the conclusion that taxing churches would lead down an unfortunate road especially in progressive-controlled states where they would love to tax them out of existence.

      “That cathedral is in a really nice part of downtown. We’re going to need the maximum possible real estate tax. Can’t afford it? oh, too bad, we’ll just sell it to these real estate developers”

      1. This, alas, in a lot of places. What would be better would be to actually enforce the laws about foundations having to give away X percent of their value every year. If you look at the large, mostly Progressive things like the McArthur and Ford Foundations, they skirt around it and the Directors and others get far more of the foundation’s funds than they ought to. The Clinton Foundation is another one, but it is rather well known for what it doesn’t do.

      2. Exactly. The power to tax is the power to destroy, and any government has great temptation to destroy those who are not dependent on that government.

        1. Ah yes, but the power to not tax (to selectively tax) is also the power to coerce those benefitting into supporting the scheme. The government can already take your cathedral through eminent domain even for specious purposes such as making a better tax use of that land (thank you Sandra Day-O). The only power of resistance you have is the public getting up in arms, and even that is severely limited for civilized resistance (see Obamacare, the Tea Party, and the good citizens of Massachusetts.

          1. It actually was David Souter, not O’Connor who wrote the Kelo decision (a constitutional abomination as far as I am concerned). And the government not taxing religious institutions and charities is a longtime premise of English and American law. As far as charities generally, they are non-profits, which if taxed would in essence be taxing money that is intended to be used for charitable purposes.

            Are these exemptions abused. Yes. The solution is to go after the abusers, not to give the government even more power and even more taxing power.

  14. I bear the cost of my failures

    In Accounting Theory this is known as “Feedback” and “Incentive for improvement.” It is the best known mechanism for coordinating production to public demand. You don’t want t live in an uncoordinated society, do you?

  15. This one makes me want to argue both sides– heck, both sides of both sides.

    An awful lot of folks who are against “giving back” are, when you get them going, quite sure that the world owes them.
    An awful lot of the folks who decide to inform folks they should “give back” are not even subtle about how they think the individuals of the world owe them.

    On the flip side, there’s the sane folks who are going both “yes, we should try to mend this broken world as best we can, societies grow great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit” and “Bleep, no, you do NOT get to eat the bread when I grew the wheat, ground it, made the bread and baked it!”

  16. “Look, first all – why do you need to give back to society?”

    I wholeheartedly share the loathing for the socialist attitude you’re arguing against, Sarah. OTOH, it seems to me that your question isn’t hard to answer. We are tribal animals, we human beings. We live for the Tribe, we die for the Tribe. And to mildly misquote Kipling, “the strength of the Tribe is the Man; the strength of the Man is the Tribe.” If we aren’t doing something for our Tribe – somehow, some way, directly or indirectly – we go nuts. All jobs somehow contribute to the success of the Tribe; if they didn’t, we wouldn’t get paid to do them. No engineer goes to work thinking “I need to keep the Internet working so Sarah and the huns stay distracted and not-dangerous,” true, but I’m pretty sure that they go to work thinking something not dissimilar to “I need to keep the Internet working so that Sarah can keep blogging and the huns can keep reading her blog and commenting and having fun doing it.”

    Yes, we’re individuals too. The fight between the Individual and the Tribe-Member goes on in everybody. The fortunate among us can reconcile the two in a way that strengthens both, by finding a job doing something for the Tribe that they enjoy themselves. The unfortunate can’t. The very unfortunate find employment doing something they hate. But if someone somehow manages to convince people to pay him/her/it for doing something that isn’t contributing somehow to the Tribe’s well-being, then that person is a parasite on the Tribe, not a useful member of it.

      1. Yep. “Society” is a very vague term.

        A good person will want to help friends & family.

        A good person may see the need to help his community (local area) in specific ways.

        But the further away (or larger) the “need” is, the more people need to use wisdom to decide “is this a real need” or “is the person talking a con-man”.

        Wolfwalker talks about the tribe and there’s a certain validity in talking about the “needs” of the tribe.

        But in the past, we “knew” who was “our tribe”, we could more easily see “what the needs of the tribe were” and even if a fellow tribesman (or leader within the tribe) talked about a “need” that we didn’t see, we could better judge if the person “knew what he was talking about” or if the person was “just a con-man”.

        Of course, in small tribes we also knew “who was a slacker” and “who was a good worker down on his luck”.

      2. Perhaps simpler, society is a term defined by your enemies so they can con you into supporting things good for them and harmful to you It is sort of like the panhandler who calls you brother or sister to make you feel guilty if you do not give.

  17. You left out the other pole: The worst find a “job” doing something that they love (at least in the short term), but destroys the Tribe.

    Depending on their success they may be called anything from a petty thief all the way up to politician.

  18. Look, first all – why do you need to give back to society? When did you steal it?

    I don’t need to but I choose to give back to a particular part of society that has given me valuable stuff.
    I maintain the package repositories for MX Linux. There are a lot of people freely giving back to their digital milieu that help keep things running smoothly.
    As long as there’s no coercion involved I don’t see a problem.

    1. Sure. And as anyone here probably knows, I do a lot mentoring and a lot of teaching posts at MGC.
      BUT that’s not “society” which is a statist construct. It’s “some people.” and “those I can help.”

      1. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Serenity Prayer

          1. Mal’s was more like this one:

            “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and enough firepower to make up the difference.”

    2. “As long as there’s no coercion involved I don’t see a problem.”
      The burden of Sarah’s discourse is that there is always coercion involved when the government is in charge of your giving.

    3. Although I do not myself use MX, thank you.

      [I see MX is a sort-of descendant of MEPIS, which once had someone complaining that the ‘blue sun’ (as I recall) logo was often mistaken for a moon. Well, of course – it had a SHADOW on it. A shadow. On a SUN?!]

  19. Regarding the title of this post:

    My gut reaction to the infamous Coke commercial has been refined over the decades;

    “I’d like to teach the World to shut,
    its stupid flapping mouth…..”

  20. When I think on all the things Society has done to me, from badly misleading me in the guise of “education” to the abrogation of fundamental rights to curtailment of economic opportunities through unreasonable and unnecessary regulation … Society should deem itself fortunate I do not believe in payback.

    1. One reason I’ve forgone the “comically” large double-edge ax(e) is that not having it removes the temptation to “come out swinging” with it.

      If I need Swing, there are Glenn Miller recordings.

  21. Here I’m going to do something a bit strange (no, really, even for us):

    Namely re-play a vignette on that visual scene clue earlier, with the castle and the man and the dog, that never got done soon enough to post at the “right” time — because suddenly (if bizarrely), it’s actually *relevant* on topic…

    Nathan Connor strode confidently up to the front steps of Castle Greyhame, his pack chock-full of the usual useful oddments and his trusty dog Bo by his side.

    Or at least it *looked* just about exactly like Castle Greyhame, from Lords of the Golden Appulse version 7 or so — even up to the pennant banner with the Clan Graham motto, Ne Oublie (“Do Not Forget” in semi-archaic French), flying from the topmast of its highest tower. Just as he’d been told, or maybe rather warned, to expect from this equally-virtual “reality” around him.

    Unsurprisingly, some of the bits and pieces were new. Like that prominent number 703 on either side of the steps, deep-carven in what he had to interpret as a reference to one of the numbers of the moon. (Two lunar months was pretty close to 59 solar days; 703 of them was eerily closer to an exact integral number of such days. Benefits of having a Wiccan girlfriend with a commission to create a better lunar-solar sacred calendar straight from her Goddess, once upon a time past.)

    But, the detail! And it wasn’t just the look, but also the sound, the smell, the feel of almost *being* there. Bo, in “real life” and physical history, had dropped dead at the ripe old age of sixteen, back when Nat still had been a teenager himself (and never quite daring to dream he’d one day serve on a ship like the “Freeman Dyson” here). And despite all the “reincarnations” Nathan had arranged in this game setting or that for his old friend, not a one of them had ever made him feel like he was back in the Tennessee woods with the real Bo at his side — not even a little, not even once.

    Till now.

    Of course, this wasn’t the displayable work of any mere array of ultra-sleek Sirius-hot graphics processors, this was some shamanic-like journey deep into a collective-unconscious “objective herd psyche” that wasn’t even entirely human in origin.

    Despite the now-obvious fact it dived deep into the back of his own head and his memories too.

    Because beyond a few formal, abstract, almost mathematical (or maybe just “omnilingual” à la H. Beam Piper) exchanges, the Vaxxadi had steadfastly refused to talk or trade anything… any other way than this.

    “Would you like to play a game?” — just as the old Cold-War-era videoplay had famously asked.

    And it didn’t exactly help “unscrew the inscrutability” of all of it (to revisit an old Heinlein-ism) that their very words for “talk” and “trade” were so closely related as to be (quite likely) declensions of the same base noun (if the guesses were right, and if they even had nouns, per se).

    As if any exchange of ideas, or even words, couldn’t help but be a swap of trade goods too.

    As he walked up to the huge double front doors, he saw a light shining brightly and invitingly from the crack between (which he’d never noticed in the “real” LotGA games before). Like a promise?

    Nathan raised the finely-shaped but immense bronze knocker, and let it fall…


    So, maybe if we decide we want to Be LIke Og, here in our Newest Stone Age with its submicron knapping of silicon wafers instead of silica blanks of flint (pre-heated for easier working and finer chipping) — maybe, just possibly, we’re looking just as much or more to the future, *our* future, as to anything in the past.

    And maybe, just like an old story title of mine (“The Fern in the Forest, the Shark in the Sea”), the only place evolution has for socialism or communism is as a living fossil… or else a dead one.

    (“History has an arrow, all right. And it points… the *right way*!”)

    Maybe “The Future is Female!!” is only half right.

    Maybe The Future (if we have one) Is Ferengi.

    And maybe (if we’re real, real lucky) the stars and their people are out there waiting for us *to catch up* to it.
    Just sayin’…

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