Finding Your Way


Was life ever simple? Or do we just see it that way looking back, because for good or ill all decisions have been made, and things are the course they are? I don’t mean just personally, but collectively, as for lack of a better term “a civilization.”

I know people — particularly the left, but the right too, in a sort of strange, wishful way — have a way of looking at the period of the thirties through the fifties as very simple, and clear.  Part of the reason the left thinks MAGA is “racist” is that they have in mind this time period where (they think) people of other races/cultures were shoved out of public or professional life, and all you saw was the perfect white family with two children, a dog and the — white natch — picket fence.

Life was never that simple or that clear, either in racial terms, or really, anything else.  First of all, humans mysogenate. It’s what they do. I’m fairly sure we haven’t had any aliens land, or we’d all have alien DNA.  Might be just a little bit, might not even be compatible with ours, but some ancestor would have found a way of doing the dirty dance with the alien, and now there would be “weird, we all seem to have some amphibian DNA of unknown provenance.”  Because humans.  We’re complicated, and we fall in love with the weirdest people/things.  In fact, I remember reading something about the heart being perverse, which I take is Biblical for what Jordan Peterson talks about.  We like to imagine ourselves as our conscious mind, ONLY, but heaven help me, the rest of you gets a vote too. And it’s very often a stupid vote.  My body for instance doesn’t seem to know how to communicate “we’re tired” or “We should take a break now” except by throwing a major wobbler that sends me to the emergency room.  And the non conscious parts of my mind, which is where my writing comes from?  Yeah, those are fun.

I am not, as it might sometimes appear by what I choose to write when completely gormless about what sells.

True, I don’t read many bestsellers.  Mostly that is because most bestsellers have an “easy pattern.”  Okay, not easy, but very common. There’s something to the pattern of their plot that ties in with the human mind so well, that it’s “intuitively obvious.”  Unfortunately, like my younger son’s, my mind sees patterns really easily.  Which means when I pick up your big hit thriller, I know every step of the plot in the first chapter.  So the only way I read those is when I’m marooned at some vacation resort and those are the only thing to read.  This is not likely now with the kindle, but it used to be that those were the books people bought and left behind, and that being in a constant situation of being broke, those were the only things I had to read for months on end.

The problem is that I’ll make plans on what to write and plan out the details, because I know what sells.  This came up because we were having a discussion with friends on facebook about what — for lack of a better term — sells best for a little bit of again for lack of a better word “kink.”

For instance, if you’re writing urban fantasy and add a gay male couple, you’ll probably sell better (yeah, even if you put in woke politics) because most of the readers of urban fantasy are women, and women don’t mind that (as long as you don’t go ridiculously, explicitly graphic.)

In the same way, if you’re writing adventure/action sf/f you’ll sell better if you add in a lesbian couple (sans politics) because most of your readers are male and that’s fine with them.  In fact, it might make the books marginally more interesting.  Again, if you don’t put in graphic stuff, not that males object to that but because they tend to prefer their erotica visual.

When I said that someone asked something like “So, Sarah, A Few Good Men? Why?”

Well, because the part that actually writes the books couldn’t give a good goddamn about my years of careful observation and tabulation of “what sells.”

And if I try to write something that part of me isn’t interested in, it just won’t. I get hours and hours of sitting and staring at the computer and nothing happens.  While if I write something it feels needs to be written, things flow out so fast that I have trouble keeping up with the 5k words a minute.

Which is why Peterson advises we bribe and reward that part of us.  Which is not really easy right now, because we don’t have money to bribe it (my writing self understands very few things as enough of a bribe.  One of the few things it “gets” is weekends away in a hotel.  Writing weekends away, even. But those set us back $500 a weekend, and right now we’re already overcommited, until younger son finds some sort of part time work to finance HIS part of the expenses.  (Not as easy as you think. There isn’t much in part-time engineering in our region. He’s doing what he can with his typesetting business, and he’ll soon have a website where you can see what he does and his work. But… well. We’ll manage. I just can’t bribe myself effectively to do what I must do to make money so I can bribe myself…)

It occurred to me it’s not just humans who are thus divided.  All of the world pretty much is.  There is this memory of “the simple times.”

And then you get hold of primary sources on the thirties or fifties.  Let’s say it’s particularly hilarious to read stuff from the right lauding that time of great freedom in either of those decades.  Let’s just say that if some of the things happening back then were happening now we’d all be talking about how we were ready for revolution.  (And the only reason they weren’t then is that the press was mass-media.  You think it’s bad enough now, with a lying press? They had the same, but no way to check it. It was that concentration and lack of individual communication or access to the public by individuals unfiltered by the media/publishers that put us in the situation we’re in, with what is functionally the enemy of western civilization in control of the vital organs of culture.  Before you get discouraged, it helps to remember, we’re only now fighting back.  Continue fighting, but remember things take time. The larger a movement is, the longer it takes for it to become noticeable, much less prominent in the culture.)

And as for the left thinking that everyone before the oughts were good white Christians or whatever…  Oh, sweet summer children.  Let’s say when they get their freak on, with witchcraft or being naked in public, or talking about their poli relationships, or whatever the actual hell they have in their heads that day, they rarely if ever (I’ve never seen it) would have managed to shock their ancestors or ancestresses 100 years ago.  Those Edwardians… well… Let’s just say they had fewer hangups.  Yes, I know what the public image is. But none of them would have worried about things that the left worries about now like “differential of power” or “implied patriarchy” which meant they were much freer to do whatever crossed their heads at the moment.  Of course they also thought they would have shocked their ancestors.  And I bet you they wouldn’t.

At some point, if you have a chance, read a book called Our Bones Are Scattered about the Indian revolt in Victorian times.  I only read it once because it’s a deeply disturbing book, one of those clashes of civilization where you feel sorry for both sides.  But it is very well written, and the beginning of the book is…. revealing.  The British commander was… well… sort of married to a woman who had been sort of married something like six times before and who went from man to man, collecting kids along the way.  Notwithstanding which, they were Victorian nobility and had a bunch of kids of their own and…

Let’s just say Victorians aren’t the way we’ve learned to think of them either.  In fact you can be sure pretty much no one ever was.  People kept and keep the front they need to, but behind the scenes things were always messy and complicated.

Which often makes finding our own way in this messy and complicated way very difficult.

I was talking to friends about finding the right marriage partner, and I had to explain that even if there is someone you’re “meant”to be with “before time itself” and you do go along with this plan, it doesn’t make it perfect or strife free.  In fact almost all the couples like this I know are… well, if they weren’t “meant” you’d think they were utterly unsuited.  (Take us, for instance.)  But there’s an undercurrent, something you can’t express or explain in words, because it isn’t a thing of words that makes it possible. And that would make anything else much harder.

I suspect it’s the same thing with career.  I know I hate, writing. Well, not writing. I love writing.  In fact we were joking that if we won the lottery it would give me “more time to write.” The fact this is a goal tells you how broken I am.  But I hate the business of writing.  When I came in, I felt like I was trying to climb a ladder that was dissolving under me.  In a way it was.  I was also perfectly clear on the fact that my politics were probably already hurting me and would hurt me more if I came out of the political closet.  Because our world was permeable, and there were acquaintances from before publication who knew my politics, it’s possible I was never in the closet.  Which frankly explains much.

Talking to older son yesterday, talking about changing “goals” — which is not quite right, but changing your goal within the goal — I told him my ambitions have been broken so many times I don’t even know what I’m aiming for right now, mostly because I’m having trouble believing in a goal or that I can reach it. (Yes, this is a personal problem. And don’t worry too much. I’ll figure it out. It’s just some psychological wounds are deep and take time to heal if you don’t want them to fester.)

But you need a goal. You need something that challenges you, that pushes you to excel.  You rational self must have something to strive for, or you can’t convince the mute, annoying part of you who actually does the work to work.

And I think that’s part of the issue, with our civilization at large.  You see, the world is very complicated, and people are given the impression that it’s never been this complicated — which is a lie — and know for a fact that things are changing very fast.  They no more find a path, than it dissolves and crumbles under them.

We’re preparing the new generation rottenly for this, too.  Look, every generation is educated according to what their grandparents thought was desirable. Which is why I had the education that would have helped an upper class Portuguese Lady in the mid 19th century to make a good marriage and shine in society. For practical purposes, other than diplomacy (which only my mother ever thought I was suited for and which elicits snort-giggle from most other people) the only use for my degree was academia by the time I took it. Though business desperately needed translators, we weren’t being taught office skills, or the terminology we needed to translate science or industrial stuff.  (I learned those on my own, through running into them head first, as I learn practically anything.)

Kids now are being educated to the dreams of the early twentieth elites: for a communitarian world with a strong central government.  They’re being told this is the future and what to expect, because when that idea made it into academia, and slowly worked itself through to curriculum and expectations, that was the future everyone EXPECTED. Even conservatives thought that the future would involve central planning. They just wanted to keep a little more individual freedom with it.

I remember blowing the world of Robert’s third grade teacher apart when we informed her that no, in the future there wouldn’t be a need for MORE group work, and that all creativity wouldn’t be communal (which frankly is funny. Creativity doesn’t work that way) but that it would be more individual, probably with people working on their piece of the project miles and miles away from the rest of the “team” and having to pull their weight alone.  Dan and I explained why based on tech and trends, and all the poor woman kept saying is “that’s not what we were taught.”

Our kids were prepared not only for a world that doesn’t exist, but the world that idiot intellectuals (all intellectuals are idiots. They mostly don’t know a thing of the real world or real people) thought would come about, somehow, automagically.  Think of Brave New World, but everyone is happy and doesn’t need the soma.  (rolls eyes.)

And then we sneer at millenials for not finding their way, when people my age, who are self-directed and battlers, and have vocations, find ourselves caught in the grinding gears of change and get our goals and work broken over and over again, and yeah, also don’t find it easier to find our way.

Talk to the kids. Help them find something they’re “meant” to do (that’s not how it works, so make sure they know there isn’t only one goal and only one vocation, but there’s almost always something that their skills and ability are useful for RIGHT NOW.  And the ability to learn more to change.)  If needed, hook them on multiple streams of income. Help them see it’s possible. Dispel their illusions that life was ever easy.

Sure, in the past there were people who got “the one job” and stuck to it through thick and thin to the golden watch at the end.  But I don’t think they were ever the majority. And by the time I came along, you couldn’t have any loyalty to your company, because it would have none to you.

But there was a way. There were paths.  You had to be nimble and stay awake (not woke, because that’s just an agrammatical word for the embracing of an irrational and ever changing philosophy proclaimed from above. So the opposite of what you need in a fast changing world.)  Acquire skills when you can. Learn new things.  And be ready to jump sideways, backwards and forwards, into a field of endeavor that might not even have existed when you started on your way.

Dream big. Dream of new and undiscovered ways to succeed.  And then chart your course and adjust it. Daily if needed. But it’s probably more productive to do it every few months.

How can you support yourself, but also how can you do something you find worthwhile in the middle of these choppy seas?

You’ll manage it. Your ancestors did. Tech change might not have been as fast for them, but I will promise you their lives were also no picnic.

Learn, think, change, but above all, do. Challenge yourself daily.

The winds are contrary and the compass is spinning like a top.

But if we stick through it, there is at least the possibility of a better future ahead.

Hands to the wheel.  Let’s go.

301 thoughts on “Finding Your Way

  1. Was life ever simple? I cannot recall the name of the wag who observed: “Everything is simple if you don’t know squat about it.”

    A thing looking simple typically says more about the observer’s ignorance than it does about the thing deemed simple.

    1. First a matter looks simple, because one hasn’t not studied it well enough to actually perceive it.

      Then it looks really complicated. Too complex to understand.

      Then maybe the skills of perception one develops help filter out some of the complexity. Maybe one understands it.

      Depending on the matter, it may again go back around to really simple once one develops the skills sufficiently.

    2. Kevin Williamson said something similar in his column last weekend, though he used a few more “colorful metaphors” to express it. He was referring to Occasional Cortex’s theory that of course it would be trivial to retrofit every single building in the country to be energy efficient.

      1. Of course it would – as long as you don’t plan to use it. A usable energy-efficient building is a different beast and brings its own issues.

        Of course, IIRC Occasional Cortex hails from the People’s Republic of Californication, and the coastal regions thereof at that, so the challenges of energy efficient buildings are much less demanding than say the midwest or northeast. Not having to concern oneself with being able to keep cold out and heat in means one can design to quickly lose heat – something that would not work in most of the USA.

        Typical fallacy. People assume that everyone else thinks the way they do, and they assume that the rest of the world has mostly the same conditions as they do. Which leads to… interesting failures.

        1. I read _Fine Homebuilding_ on occasion and follow the LEED certification requirements and the like. Ugh. Not the sort of buildings I want to live in, or the kind of appliances, either. The “water saving” washers are enough of a disaster, thank you.

        2. As an escapee from coastal Commie-Californiastan I should note that Occasional-Cortex is an East-Coast moron. We have enough on the Left Coast without adding additional. 🙂

          1. AOC is the poster child for the people that universities want and strive to graduate; mindless leftists who are only capable of adherence to leftist orthodoxy and believe that merely commanding their every desire will result in it being so.

      2. Yeah. I hear the voice of Patrick Steward as Captain Picard, ‘Make it so.’ As if it should be so simple.

        This convinces me that AOC has never had to deal with any significant home repair or upgrade. No one could make such a statement otherwise.

        That is without consideration of the supply of competent construction / reconstruction workers and the necessary building materials. Then we have the various permitting processes and, where it applies, unions with which to deal.

        Easy lemon squeezy my eye.

        1. SIL was telling my wife about a friend who lost a home in the Santa Rosa fire (2017, another PG&E snafu). A year after the fire, said person was just getting final approval to rebuild.

          SIL’s MIL lost her home in the Camp fire (along with most of the other people in Paradise). She’s figured out that getting a new place in a city nearer offspring is not going to be affordable, so is getting ready to rebuild. That one looks messier than Santa Rosa because of more contamination, both on the ground and in the reservoirs. Ecch.

          Once FEMA gives the goahead, then it’s up to the state and local powers that be to make approvals. I don’t want to verbalize my estimated timeframe to SIL and company…

        2. Remember, AOC has long lived in New York City, where an abundant supply of union-trained and certified construction workers assures easey-peasey it’s a breezy home and apartment repair.

          Why, just look at the rapidity of their rebuild after Superstorm Sandy!@

    3. The essence of Dunning-Kreuger: When you know a little bit you think you know all about it, but when you learn a bit more you start to understand how very limited your understanding actually is.

    4. I have, more than once, insulted people by telling them to start off with a “For Dummies” book. This despite starting off with disclaimers that I was making no judgment about them and use them myself. They assumed I was mocking or talking down to them. But when I tackled a new subject I was pretty much a Dummy on that subject. Sometimes a Dummies book gives you all that you need for what you’re doing. But once you finish a Dummies book you usually know enough to know if you need more books and be able to evaluate them rather than picking them blindly.

      And sometimes you just WISH that there was a Dummies book on the subject to make it simple. (There was a day when I would have gladly gone to another universe to find “X.400 Protocol for Dummies,” even if I first had to get a copy of “Dimensional Travel for Dummies” to get there.)

    5. Slight quibble. *Some* things in life are simple…

      Walking ten miles home in the freezing rain without a coat is pretty simple, actually. So is deadlifing an engine block when you lack a hoist. As is asking the prettiest gal in the room to dance, while sober, and when your confidence is lower than snake poo.

      Simple is not the same as easy.

      Simple, often, is really, really hard. I’ve been accused of overcomplicating things, oh, a time or ten, while looking for the easier way. Sometimes there really is an easier way. Sometimes there’s only the hard way, and sometimes all you get out of it is “character,” as my grandmother used to say.

      1. Not really relevant – the claim is not that “nothing is simple” but rather that things look simple to the ignorant.

        Sometimes the simple are simple, sometime they aren’t, but the issue here is not whether things are simple, it is whether the appearance of simplicity is true.

        Reference the old tale of the farmer and his wife switching chores for a day (although I’ve long doubted her day was as easy as the story would have it.)

    6. The problem is that sometimes things really are simple.

      Simple enough to be put in a copybook heading.

  2. I’m not sure the idea of you as diplomat is that laughable.

    There are two tasks for diplomats. One is keeping things running smoothly. The other is threat displays and lines in the sand.

    Sometimes you need a diplomat who does one of these well.

    You have a very valuable perspective on what Americans will and will not tolerate, probably better than a lot of people at State.

    There is also diplomacy inside of a culture, and some of what you do here qualifies.

    1. I suppose it depends on what you imagine a Diplomat’s job is — a thing very few of us likely know. While BobtRF identifies two primary tasks, the fact is that the second is necessary to the first. Things will be much more likely to run smoother if the consequences of the alternatives are made clear. Consider the benefits to US domestic and foreign policy which accrued as consequence to Reagan’s firing of Air Traffic Controllers’ illegal strike.

      The Diplomat’s job seems to be one of those things that everybody who knows nothing about it thinks he understands but has’t the least actual grasp of its realities. While the Retief tales are arguably a brief for the CIA, they do offer a realistic glimpse of a more credible reality of the Diplomat’s work.

      1. A quote from distant memory (Nixon/Ford era?) “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.”

      2. And here I thought it was the practice of telling a man to go to Hades in such a way that he asks for directions. *chuckle*

        In all seriousness the two things are a decent starting point. My own amatuer opinion would add that a good diplomat should darn well:

        Know the language and *culture,* and be able to translate effectively between the two. If one is a diplomat to the state of Israel, for example, it reflects poorly upon oneself and one’s *own country* when merely regurgitating political talking points with regards to the Palestinians… I seem to remember one or two Reteif tales wherein this particular point was alluded to, ever so slightly.

        1. Diplomacy: the art of saying “we’d rather not kill you, but we will if we have to” while being all polite about it.

    2. “Okay, guys, do what we want, or we will send Ambassador Hoyt in to ‘negotiate’ with you further…”

      Iran disbands its nuclear program the next day.

      1. > “…we will send Ambassador Hoyt.”

        “Hoyt? Which one?”

        “There’s a difference? In the end, they’re all going to do the same thing… but the younger ones might put videos on YouTube afterward.”

  3. Our generation… The ones who are too young to be boomers, too old to be gen X. The sour, cynical ones who are remarkably good at scrambling to hold things together, and if we look calm and collected it’s because you can’t see the legs pumping furiously under the surface.

    The forgotten generation. Or possibly the fix it generation, because in my experience we seem to end up fixing things that boomers broke – not that the breakage is necessarily intentional. It’s just that the first massive demographic bulge to happen in the age of mass media is going to break things.

    1. Yep. We watch the most visible Boomers and think, “You know, that’s not going to end well” and then look at the younger set and think, “What are they teaching in school these days?” We’re the ones who have to be the adults in the room, dang it. And demographers and pundits skip over us, which might be a very good thing in the long run.

      1. There are a lot of us Boomers who watch the most visible Boomers but what we think is “You know, that’s not going to end well, and we’re going to get blamed again.” Because we don’t have the power to stop it any more than the younger people, perhaps less, because “Old Farts” is a step up from the tone of voice that a lot of people use when they say “Boomers.”

        1. I think it’s less a generation thing, and more “the people too busy living to be highly visible, but still get annoyed at the idiots the media keeps putting forward as normal for their generation.”

          1. It isn’t as if we get to hold generational elections and vote on our representatives — and which [expletives] to remove from the gene pool. (I guarantee you that Dick Ayers wouldn’t have been around to lecture schools on pedagogy.)

            It is just one more example of how the Gaslight Media cons us. I’ve had any number of conversations involving Black co-workers wanting to know how Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton got elected the authentic voice of Black America.

      1. Yes. Do not be misled by the fact the boomers claim another year every year. When I was a kid my brother was among the very youngest of boomers, born in early 54.
        I’m late 62 and I don’t ping any of the cultural milestones.
        The summer of 68 I was learning to write. (I knew how to read, but that’s different) and as far as I can remember reading a lot of comic books, coloring a lot, and generally terrorizing the neighborhood with a slingshot.
        It’s not the same. I came of age, for my sins, in the late seventies.

        1. I find the generational labels too confusing, and usually tendentious. I was always under the impression that Boomers were 45-65, X was 65-85, and Millenials were 85-??.

          Then I see Millenials going down to 80, and X landing who knows where, I know it’s not an exact science by any stretch, but I’ve only found Boomers and Millenials coming anywhere close to the cultural markers. My eyes usually glaze over at talk of generational categories.

          1. It’s to the point that (and the Oddness means it is moreso) that I explain that I am not member of my own generation. I suspect some figure I must have been born Ancient.

          2. No. The boomers used to go to 54. Over the last twenty years they’ve crept to engulf my generation, though lately they’ve been lumping me with xers. As Kate says, we’re the forgotten (or de-existed) generation. In our teens we got the boomers so mad they accused us of all the things they now call the millenials.

            1. When my dad was a kid, born in ’50, they were told that they WERE NOT part of the Baby Boom. And my mom who’s about 5 years younger, was totally not.

              This came up when I was complaining about the “youth vote” expanding to include people in their 30s…..

                1. #truth

                  Ironically enough, I do have an uncle who was born late in the Boomer cycle because my grandfather was a camp guard on prisoner Nazis and came home late. (The next oldest was a War Baby, which has also been kinda absorbed.)

                  He actually embodies a lot of the stereotypes….

                  1. I might attempt an argument premised on the principle that those born before 1955 were the last American generation who had to take conscription seriously.

                    If somebody else is buying my beer.

            2. Boomers: enough babies that some theaters used to have glassed-in boxes at the sides, so mothers with cranky babies could watch the movie through the window without bothering the other theatergoers.

              By my time, those were being used for storage.

              If you’re even in an older theater and notice the windows, that’s why they were there.

              I wouldn’t mind putting the people with colicky babies and the idiots who shout at their speakerphones in there.

          3. Jones, Y, and Z. At least.

            I’m a Y. We’re between X and Millenials,: we played Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego as kids, but we didn’t have the internet and cell phones until high school or college, and if we were on the younger side our email address was the same as Mom and Dad’s.

            Our parents yelled at us to not tie up the phone while we were writing emails, so we disconnected until we were ready to send.

              1. “Jones” is a new one to this boomer (1952). OTOH, I skipped a fair amount of the youthful party & excess of my generation, (being rather Odd/shy had a lot to do with it) at least until university. Even then, I was an engineering student so the studying usually took priority over fun and games.

                FWIW, at least in elementary through high school, our class had the peak enrollment numbers. Left a lot of empty classrooms in our wake. My old elementary school was closed and sold to a preschool/afterschool-care outfit. This was after they spent big bucks to nuke the free standing annex/gym (repurposed church was my guess) and building an attached gym with administrivia offices.

            1. Y, but when I was growing up we all thought we were still gen X. First computer was a soldered together c64 (got a deal on it broken), with the tape drive. In a house that had *just* got indoor plumbing by that time, but still did not have color tv.

              Clinton, dotcom boom, 9/11. Bought our first houses just in time for the financial crash. Soured and cyinical on politics, as Mike M. mentioned, ain’t been cured yet, don’ wanna be.

            2. I’ve heard that called a Xennial. And also, I am still Jonesing (heh) for a Carmen San Diego movie.

          4. I’m sure some folks have used 85+ for Millennials, but back in ’99 things like Newsweek were using it for “Generation Y” folks, either 80 or 81 and up. The 9/11 Generation.

          5. Agree with gmmay70. To me only the Baby Boomer “generation” makes sense since there was a gap for WWII, and those who married shortly after that tended to have a number of children who grew up basically together. After that it becomes ridiculous. I just prefer to complain about “kids today.” and their evolutionary adaptation to thumb typing. 😉 Curse you Steve Jobs!

            Another pet peeve is the decades references. The 60s were between 1964 (when the Beatles hit America) and 1974 when Nixon left office and what we think of as the 70s really started. Before 64 it was Elvis and Sinatra who were the music headliners even we think of their heyday as the 50s. This aught-centric thing has got to go.

            1. Agreed on the “grew up together”. We lived in a Detroit suburb in the 50s, and if someone made known the Slip-‘n-Slide was working, you could get 20-50 kids playing, pretty much all from our street. Middle-middle class; lots of auto workers, with a smattering of other occupations. (Dad was a draftsman, and people actually talked to the IRS agent who lived on the block.)

              As a kid, I assumed all the fathers were veterans; very high percentage would be my guess.

              1. Hey RCPete, stop describing my childhood ;). Except we weren’t in the suburbs, and the park was too far away. Construction sites for us when we got tired of playing in the street.

        2. There are more than most people know. Summer of 68 I was in Junior High, so I saw censored parts of it on TV and read about it but when I watched the Chicago DNC that year I was asking the same thing that my grandmother and parents were, “What is WRONG with these people?”

          I’ll stop sulking and accept the assigned burden of blame that accrues to me as a Boomer now, I just needed to vent a little. 🙂

          1. No. I don’t blame all boomers, even if I know some who are caricatures. (Am related to some.)
            But imagine how annoyed you get, and imagine how much more annoyed I get, when I was six in the supposed “summer of love.”
            Among things I’m grateful for: by the time I came of age I had it firmly planted in my head that drugs are a REALLY bad idea, from watching older people implode. I was also fairly sure orgies AND socialism were also bad ideas.

            1. Amen. I figured out early on that burning the ROTC building wasn’t an effective way to get the establishment to change anything, that “turn on, tune in, drop out” wasn’t how anyone accomplished anything useful ever, and that a politician of either party could smile, and wave, and be a crook.

            2. Had a cousin burn out his brain on drugs in that era. When I was in high school he was able to hold down a job, but later he got so bad the had to be institutionalized. Left me with absolutely no desire to experiment with my brain chemistry.

                1. Amen. I have close family members who’ve struggled with depressive disorders, and watching the doctors left me with the impression they were doing the biological equivalent of percussive maintenance on the brain.

                    1. Absolutely. I maintain that any adult has the right to fry his or her brain however they want as long as they don’t take anyone else down with them, but I personally am not about to mess with anything that’s got the potential to destabilize my current rather fragile balance with meds for narcolepsy, narcolepsy-sleep-deprivation-induced depression, etc.

                      I need my brain working, thankyouverymuch.

            3. I was mowing a neighbor’s lawn during the DNC riots. My sense of survival told me not to go downtown (Dad would NOT have approved). Same sense kept me from the protests at college in ’72.

              I skipped the drugs in high school; was too cheap to smoke more than a little bit of marijuana, and stronger stuff held no appeal. (Alcohol was more attractive; underage drinking was ignored in college.) I was told in HS that the kids a year or two younger got the full blast of the drug culture.

          1. Meh. 1954 and not interested in being counted as part of any generation that would include me in its membership. Such labels are a means of eradicating individuality and are fundamentally dehumanizing.

            Which bothers me not at all. I am a wallaby without peer and see no cause to pretend otherwise.

      2. VERY much.

        A political generation is not, repeat NOT twenty years. It’s about ten. The entire Boomer/GenX/Millenial breakdown is complete nonsense, the sample rate is about half what it needs to be.

        What we’ve got are:

        Happy Days-ers: Born ~1935-45. Grew up in the late ’40s and 1950s.

        Brat Boomers: Born ~1946-55. Grew up in the comfortable political 1950s, got a MOST unpleasant shock by the political 1960s (1964-73).

        Baby Busters: Born ~1956-65. Survivors of the Great Inflation, conquerors of the Soviet Empire. Got stuck with the bill after the Brats trashed the place. Loathe the Brats with a passion.

        Reagan-auts: Born ~1966-75. Grew up seeing the Great Inflation, but came to maturity in the 1980s. Inherited the post-Cold War world…and promptly handed it off to Sick Willie Clinton.

        Clinton Cynics: Born ~1976-1985. Came to maturity watching Clinton lie his head off. Very cynical. Took the souring of feminism right in the face. 11 Sep 01 is critical for them, it was the BIG wake-up call.

        Gen Y (?): Born ~1986-1995. Like the Busters, they watched major events (like 11 Sep 01) on TV but weren’t directly involved. Came to maturity with the security kabuki theater and continual counterinsurgency warfare. Grew up with the Internet before the Silicon Valley Megalomaniacs took it all over. Got sucked in by Obama’s lies, then voted for Trump.

        Millenials: Born ~1996-2005. Coming to maturity now. Realizing just how incredibly much the Propaganda Press has lied to them.

        1. A political generation is not, repeat NOT twenty years. It’s about ten. The entire Boomer/GenX/Millenial breakdown is complete nonsense, the sample rate is about half what it needs to be.

          Agreed on that.

          Those I am aware of:

          Roughly, Baby Boom (which actually includes folks who were pre-boom, because it’s a formation thing),

          Challenger folks: that’stheir touchstone.

          9/11 folks:
          that’s our touch-stone.

          And I KNOW there are folks inbetween.

        2. Also:

          I came of age at the Millennia, the ignorant twits the year before us stole it from me, I am NOT passing it down to folks who don’t even remember the ’90s!

        1. I’d say a few years after, although that could be that Australia always lagged a little behind the US. 1967, and definitely among those picking up the mess.

  4. I know people — particularly the left, but the right too, in a sort of strange, wishful way — have a way of looking at the period of the thirties through the fifties as very simple, and clear.

    The Mother-In-Law was born just before the beginning of the depression and has clear memories of it and WWII.  She was also an inveterate worrier.  She was very upset when we first entered into the Afghan War.  She complained that we didn’t know if we would win or how long it might take.  I asked her if we knew we would win or how long it would take when we entered WWII.

    Past tense is easier on many people.  What happened happened, things are largely settled, and the doubts, pains and miseries are seen through the softening lens of time past and the knowledge that you survived it.

    1. “The Mother-In-Law was born just before the beginning of the depression and has clear memories of it and WWII. She was also an inveterate worrier. She was very upset when we first entered into the Afghan War. She complained that we didn’t know if we would win or how long it might take. I asked her if we knew we would win or how long it would take when we entered WWII.”

      From Herman Wouk’s novel The Caine Mutiny:

      “It seemed to Willie that the war against Japan would be the largest and deadliest in human history, and that it would probably end only in 1955 or 1960, upon the intervention of Russia, a decade after the collapse of Germany. How could the Japanese ever be dislodged from their famed “unsinkable carriers,” the chain of islands, swarming with planes which could massacre any approaching fleet? There would be, perhaps, one costly Tarawa a year. He was sure he was headed for the forthcoming one. And the war would drag on at that rate until he was bald and middle-aged.

      Willie didn’t have a historian’s respect for the victories at Guadalcanal, Stalingrad, and Midway. The stream of news as it burbled by his mind left only a confused impression that our side was a bit aead in the game, but making painful slow work of it. he had often wondered in his boyhood what it might have been like to live in the stirring days of Gettysburg and Waterloo; now he knew, but he didn’t know that he knew. This war seemed to him different from all the others: diffuse, slogging, and empty of drama.”

      1. I’m pretty sure everybody here is familiar with the annual “was it moral to drop The Bomb on Japan” thing.

        In Catholic circles, it has become pretty stylish to say no. And they can quote a lot of stuff from right after the war pointing at all of the problems.

        After looking over a lot of it… I think it’s less because “of course it’s wrong,” and more: it was so obviously right, that folks who were there had to make the Devil’s Advocate’s arguments because it’s really freaking dangerous territory. Like the death penalty, you’ve got to hedge it around like crazy, because it’s so tempting to apply it to everything that is tough.

        1. Most in the U.S. lack any idea of their own nation’s geography, no less that of any other.

          I suspect when they picture Japan they picture densely crowded cities and a few quaint fishing villages.  What they don’t realize is that over seventy percent is mostly rough mountains, the mountain ranges run up the spine of the main islands, or that even today more than two thirds is heavily forested.

    2. > past tense

      That’s one thing that’s hard to put across when telling people about WWII or the Cold War. After it’s done, everything looks so simple and obvious… but *then*, it wasn’t.

      In either conflict, victory was the result of so many WTF?! decisions and happenings that it makes you wonder about alien or Divine intervention, or the kind of luck that lets you roll sevens all night at the casino.

      1. “..and they pulled the Berlin Wall down.”

        “Well, of course.”

        “Ah, but what you see from this side seems obvious. From the other side of history it was different. Even the day before, it felt like that wall would be there forever.”

          1. So VERY much this. I watched it all on TV…the whole Warsaw Pact imploded over about a two-week period. It was a miracle as big as putting a man on the Moon. And came completely out of the blue.

            1. YES! There was the sense of a miracle happening as we watched. Then came Tiannenmen Square and the realization that the miracle wasn’t going to be quite as comprehensive as we’d hoped.

            2. I didn’t believe it until the news the day after the Berlin Wall fell reported that something like 99% of the East Berliners had gone back to their homes to sleep.

        1. Especially after watching the the way the Czech uprising of ’68 was put down. It didn’t seem possible that the new uprisings would escape at least an attempt to quash them the same way.
          We were very lucky to have Gorbachev in charge of The USSR at the time. Things could have gone so much worse.

  5. HT to the guys at Power Line for mastheading this link, which goes a fur piece toward explaining the pursuit of the simple afflicting our Leftish cohort:

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the Left’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl
    Once you see it, you can never unsee it.
    A lot of people, myself included, have toyed with describing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as the left’s Donald Trump because they both rely so heavily on exaggerated promises and bluster. There’s something to that, but I think I’ve found a better analogy: She’s the Democratic Party’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

    Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. AOC is an MPDG, and if we had political satirists worthy of the name, NBC would already have brought in Zooey Deschanel to play her on Saturday Night Live.


    The Democratic party certainly needs this sort of thing right now as it struggles to break free from the funk of defeat and the grey, hopeless compromises of Clintonism. So of course they were eager to idolize a slender, attractive young champion, with her flowing dark hair, improbably big eyes, and wide, toothy smile—many of the qualities, come to think of it, that qualified Julia Roberts for this role on the big screen. People of all persuasions love to see the tired old clichés of their political dogmas issue freshly forth from the mouths of attractive young people. It gives them the sense, at least for a moment, that they just might own the future. (This, by the way, is why candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton tend to underperform, even if they have the preferred ideas or a big campaign organization: they seem too much like the wave of the past.)

    That’s the “pixie” part, but what is more important is the mania. Ocasio-Cortez’s exaggerated mannerisms are by now well-known. She projects a kind of boundless nervous energy, an unbridled enthusiasm for even the most worn-out idea, an unshakable conviction that policies that have been tried (and failed) repeatedly would work if we just went a little bigger and believed a little harder. In this respect, her political model is not Trump—whose style is less “youthful enthusiasm” than “grandpa ranting on the Internet”—but Barack Obama. The whole appeal of Obama, the reason why he came out of nowhere to derail Hillary Clinton in 2008, was that he was able to convincingly act as if 20th-Century Big Government welfare-statism was an exciting new idea that had never been tried. He didn’t seem resigned to its failures, or at least to its unpopularity, in the way that the Clintons were.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has the same outlook, but on an even more grandiose scale. Obama was content to be a bit of a cautious politician and to let the far left project their most extravagant hopes onto him. Ocasio-Cortez goes out and explicitly endorses every item on their wish list. After all, the ultimate appeal of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the dream, the desire to be whisked away from normal life and infused with an outlook that seems more special and meaningful.


    As with the onscreen trope, she might seem refreshingly vibrant on the first encounter—but over time she ends up seeming like a mere vehicle for reinforcing an unrealistic plot line: the delusional conviction that we can do everything and have everything, immediately and at no cost. …

    1. To steal a post from earlier, we’re at the point where the Democratic Party is realizing that their Manic Pixie Dream Girl is more psychotic than quirky, more Aubry Plaza than Zoey Dreshenel.

      1. Even worse, the Democratic Party is at the point where they think that the only reason that we don’t already have everything at no cost is because the “wrong people” have money and are maliciously preventing the arrival of utopia.

  6. One of my favorite facts that I learned in grad school was that the bacteria living inside you outnumber ‘your’ cells by about 10-to-1, so even within your own body, you’re outnumbered. I’ll bet those bacteria contribute something to the thought process, even if we can’t figure out what it is at the moment.

    On the idea of loving writing but hating ‘writing’ the business…I’ve found I feel much the same way about science. I love thinking about problems, trying to come up with new approaches, and writing code to test my theories. Unfortunately, what I’ve found is that being a scientist isn’t about any of those things. The primary job of a scientist appears to be begging the government for money in the form of grants, and the higher you get up the ladder, the more begging and the less actual science you do. I’m starting to think this field isn’t for me.

    On the idea of the future not being “group projects”…lord, one can only hope. Has anyone EVER enjoyed a group project? Well, perhaps the teacher, because it cuts the number of things he has to grade by about 80%. The students, however, always seem to respond with a groan whenever they’re told that they’ll be working in groups.

    1. I assign a few group projects… to the upper classmen, because they have to divide up the task into research, data-processing, and converting what they found into useful material. All within a limited amount of time. Group work is more efficient for what I’m trying to teach. But none of us really like it, and they understand that the time constraint is the reason. (That said, there are a few “diggers” who love finding the data, so it works well this year.)

    2. Those of us* coming to terms with such issues as Type II Diabetes can find it humbling to learn how much of our temperament is determined/affected by the gut biome. One of the symptoms of excess blood glucose is irascibility (if you like us, cussedness if you don’t) — which means your moods are not actually your own. While it can be humbling to think of oneself as little more than a transport mechanism for gut bacteria, a little humility is good for the soul.

      *Those of us who are Odd, at any rate

      1. I’ve had Type II for a couple decades now, but recently got re-introduced to Metformin. Being Odd, I don’t get the Kansas City Quickstep (thanks, RAH) from it, but the Metamucil-is-my-friend other extreme. Of course, that now means I get to titrate the exact dose of psyllium that a) keeps things flowing through the pipeline and b) prevents the pig-in-a-python sensation in the upper GI tract. Talk about crabby when it’s not working right.

        Oh well, I still have all my toes and a tolerable A1C. The retina guy does his biannual fluorescein scan come June. Fluorescent pee is, er, interesting. Hopefully, the eyes will be all right.

        I suppose I should be less enthusiastic about the tests, but hey, it’s interesting.

          1. Second time I’ve read about metformin. Someone in my RH online group mentioned it (RH – Reactive Hypoglycemia). Interesting because there is no treatment for RH available, for all that it involves blood glucose levels. Taking insulin is NOT an option.

    3. Has anyone EVER enjoyed a group project?

      In my experience there have been two types who enjoy such projects. There are the Bosses, the folks who like ordering others about assigning tasks and seeing they are completed in timely manner. Then there are the Coasters, the folks who like doing the minimum possible amount of work for the maximum grade … often by assigning tasks and seeing they are completed in timely manner.

      1. Bullies who want to play Boss are a pain in the behind, but anything that involves group effort can benefit from a genuine Leadee or Organizer type, if nothing else, to make sure a coherent whole is produced, not a collection of pieces pasted together. One of my worst “group projects” was one in which group failed to happen. The other person and I never clicked, and we ended up effectively doing individual projects in tandem. When they were put together for submission, the seams were screamingly visible. If I’d realized he’d just glue the two halves together without any effort to smooth them, or to add an introduction or conclusion, I would’ve insisted on being the one to put together the final deliverable. At least then it would’ve been a coherent whole.

      2. One of the least-fun projects in my career was with a designer/team leader who thought he was still on the debate team. He kept shooting for marginal improvements in one part of the project that cost more than they’d save, or had cost recovery time longer than the technology would last.

        He was convinced that Management thought the project was doing swimmingly because it was always on schedule–which schedule he’d tweak just before the status meeting. Another team member (one with considerably more patience than I ever had) threatened to beat the crap out of Team Leader after Team Member spent far too many hours on one part of the project over a weekend, only to see Team Leader goofing off.

        Said Team Leader eventually left engineering and went to dental school. Comparisons to the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors would not be entirely inaccurate. Not sure if he leapt or was pushed out of engineering.

    4. I’ve explained the problem with socialism/communism as “Think back to school group projects. There was always that one jerk that didn’t do much of anything, and rode on the work of everyone else.” “Yeah…” “Now make it one big nation-wide group project.” “Oh no!” (I have encountered one person who did claim to like group projects… he was the %^$@* Communist.)

    5. My daughter is having problems with group projects lately. She’s a Freshman in HS, and so far, on the two group projects she’s doing, she has had to pretty much just do the assignments herself. She seems to get grouped in with slackers who won’t do anything, and she doesn’t like getting bad grades.

      Frankly, I have no idea what to tell her. When I was in the same situation in HS (feels like a million years ago), I tried to get help and ended up getting labeled “does not play well with others” (yet again since that phrase probably bedecked nearly every report card from pre-school on up). I think my big mistake was asking for help rather than the judicious use of creative violence. BUT I can’t exactly tell my 13 yo daughter that. Besides, I don’t think she’s got it in her to use violence like that… but mostly because violence is wrong… yea… that’s the ticket… wrong….

      1. > slackers

        California elementary schools pumped “group projects” *hard* when I was there. After I got tired of doing 100% of the work, I quit working, just like the others. But according to the teacher, it was 100% my fault that we all got “F” grades…

        It made me angry at the time, but in retrospect, it was one of the few things I learned in that school that was useful later in life.

        1. Do any of them really believe the lone good student will somehow inspire the rest, or is it straight-up cynical socialism (one productive person can carry three who don’t care and that is somehow Justice)?

      2. I am hesitant to suggest this, because it encourages bad habits of mind (among other sins) but — given that Freshman HS grades often don’t generally matter much — consider doing no more than any other of the members. Getting rid of the “Suzy Will Do It” label might be her best option.

        If the project workload is no more than a single student can handle it is likely the teachers expect one kid getting stuck with it. If it is greater than a single student can reasonably handle she is digging an ever deeper hole.

      3. What I told the daughter project back in her yard ape days: Make it the teacher’s problem. Or decide you love the project for it’s own sake

        Which is to say, build a wossname…project plan? (That thing you do when you break down it down to component jobs, and job order). Brainstorm with your partners. Come up with something cool.

        Divy up and print plan and share with teacher. Then do your part, checking off ticky boxes, including the one that reads; checked with Sally about Part Y. Be sure to turn that in as well. Then, either just do your part (if project is dumb) or use your back-up plans to make it fly for the glory of the thing.

        Never let strangers or incidental folk rule your heart or mind.

  7. “Simpler Times”.

    When you could do almost anything you wanted to do and your parents paid the bills. 😈

    That’s my personal definition of most people’s idea of the “Golden Age”. 😉

    1. Yep, and I have long thought that at the root of it what most of the current crop of socialist/communist/progressive sort are truly after is to replace mom and pop with an even more caring and benevolent government.
      Run by them of course, so they know this time it will be done right.

    2. Of course even those times seem better in retrospect. I remember the days when I had no responsibilities and could spend the days wandering the neighborhood with no particular goal. Mostly what I remember about them is being bored out of my skull. As our hostess has said many times, humans weren’t really built to be idle.

  8. And as for the left thinking that everyone before the oughts were good white Christians or whatever… Oh, sweet summer children.

    Reminded of a line Heinlein put in a couple of characters’ mouths: “Every generation always thinks it invented sex.”

    1. And sin. I get giggles from older folks when I sigh and say that there is no such thing as an original sin, just variations that haven’t been seen for a while locally. The younger set don’t get the joke. Or come from traditions that don’t have a doctrine of Original Sin.

      1. And now I ‘hear’ Tom Lehrer’s The Vatican Rag

        Get in line in that processional,
        Step into that small confessional,
        There, the guy who’s got religion’ll
        Tell you if your sin’s original.
        If it is, try playin’ it safer,
        Drink the wine and chew the wafer,
        Two, four, six, eight,
        Time to transubstantiate!

        1. *gets the giggles*

          I was introduced to that song– and to the artist, oh joy!– by a gal I now recognize as a 30-something who was very pissy that there was a teen who was female and in a normal religion in the play by email RP we were in, and thought she’d scandalize me with it… I thought it was hilarious.
          Bonus, I was clueless enough to totally miss she was pissed at me thwarting her desire to make it an ERP. ^.^

        2. I think I might have to violate my policy of not buying mp3s and try to find That Was the Year That Was. I remember a lot of the songs, but a few are a bit hazy.

          “Alma, tell us
          All modern women are jealous
          You didn’t even use Pond’s
          And got Gustav and Walter and Franz!”

          1. Or your could splurge and see about finding the CD collection The Remains of Tom Lehrer which has both studio and ‘live’ versions of tunes that had both and also includes his Electric Company works.

            1. I wasn’t aware of that one. Just bought a used copy in Very Good shape (so they said) from ‘zon. Thanks!

              Now the dogs will be entertained by new songs when I take them for potty breaks. It helps them go faster since they know I’ll stop singing when they do. VBEG

              1. You are aware, comrade, that Amazon has been declared Evil, convicted of the crime of satisfying people’s wants without making them jump through sufficient hoops to prove they deserve their pittances?

  9. “(all intellectuals are idiots. They mostly don’t know a thing of the real world or real people)”
    Most people think intellectuals are god-like because they have never seen on close up and personal instead of behind a lectern.
    When you wife works at a university you meet these people over dinner and go to their homes.
    She once went off with a professor’s wife shopping leaving me to baby sit the husband until they returned.
    The man had a doctorate and taught an exotic sort of statistics. However he could not follow the directions on the can to make a pitcher of lemonade from frozen concentrate.
    At dinner with a whole table of these beasties someone tasted the coffee and made a remark that they weren’t sure where coffee originated.
    I informed him it was likely the Arabia Peninsula or Ethiopia, and went into a little about the cultivars, the needed micro-climate, and roasting.
    These people were puzzled why I would know all this, and I didn’t tell them a tenth of what I knew. I told them the truth – that I am interested in EVERYTHING.
    These experts know at the very best a great deal about one narrow area of knowledge, but you wouldn’t want to be stranded on a desert isle with them.

    1. Hell, Mack, I’ve written 32 novels. This morning I got the shower door off track and couldn’t figure out how to get it back on track (part of this was lack of glasses, part that I don’t think directionally well, so I was going backwards on what I needed to do.) I was trapped in the shower until I got Dan’s attention.
      It humbles you.

    2. A good friend of mine is a university professor (Phd, PoliSci) who is at least self aware enough to have mentioned once that he was embarrassed to not know anything substantive about anything outside of his very narrow areas of study within his area of expertise (Direct democracy and public polling) other than football.

      He once told a student after she attempted to answer a question to “remember, I’m a scientist, so you need to convince me with data”, to which I desperately wanted to correct him by pointing out that he’s really ‘only’ a statistician in disguise, but, he’s a good friend.

      1. Eh, I’m with your friend.

        It doesn’t take training to be a scientist, it is a state of mind– based on following the scientific method and building up from there.

        Like requiring a student use formal logic, but more limited, as opposed to more effective but less objective rhetorical methods.

        1. That may be true to an extent, but you’re not going to put it on a resume. He was speaking of his profession.

    3. “I wonder $SOMETHING.”


      “Wow. Why are you a professor or teacher or something?”

      “No way will have BS coming both ends!”[1]

      [1] This is to deal with much of Administration, which seems to metastasize.

        1. I’ve not done that… but I have met one or two people who might deserve it. The jarring experience a year or two ago was being informed that “Quarter to 3” wasn’t understood.

          1. Has *every* day care center and school gone to digital clocks in their classrooms yet? They’ve never seen an old movie or a cartoon?

            It seems incredible someone can’t read a dial clock, but then I also remember second (or was it third?) grade teachers laboriously going over “and the big hand is here and the little hand there…” for the bajillionth time.

            No, they didn’t get it the first thousand times, you’re just wasting classroom time now.

            1. There was an Isaac Asimov Black Widowers story (mysteries) where the solution to a mystery keyed on how an accountant might “mistakenly” read a digital clock. 😈

      1. At work get “How do I? …”

        My answer: “Here is how you do ….. Here is WHY you do it that way …”

        BUT if I add the “Why” to my answer when at home, or really my sister, & my mom, I get “Just tell me how. If I want to know Why, I’ll ask … you don’t do that at work do you?” Also got that when giving detail step by step instructions “I’m not stupid … you don’t do that at work!!!!”

        Uh, yes. I did. Every. Single. Answered. Call. Even was known to follow up with emails, with diagrammed pictures …

        OTOH it was appreciated at work. “I only call you. Because you tell me why.” Oh, wait a minute … Oops. That’s where I went wrong 🙂 … I hated days when I couldn’t get any coding done.

  10. Dead on accurate about group project work. I have been involved with several where the individuals working on them never met and were from all over the country.

  11. I disagree… I do mind seeing “gay” people in romance novels. I am not gay, therefore I do not want to see that sort of thing in a book I am reading. I’d stop reading right away because that just isn’t my thing. People have preferences and it’s totally ok to have them. It’s not “hateful” to dislike something, it’s just opinion. It will always be…

    1. I’m pretty much unable to read most romance novels – it’s not because of “gay” romance or anything of the sort. It’s because I can’t handle complete morons in anything I read and they seem to be most prevalent (sadly, often disguised as intelligent people because the author isn’t that bright) in romance.

      If characters are intelligent I don’t really care what I’m reading or who is attracted to whom as long as it works within the book.

      Opinion is fine. Those (not you) who try to stop other people even knowing something exists based on their opinion is not.

      1. I can’t handle complete morons in anything I read

        So – you don’t read the political news?

    2. Pashta, I didn’t mean in romance novels. I was talking specifically of other genres.
      These are not explicit. And most people are okay with it, but guys put guys off more and vice versa.
      Also, males watch lesbian porn and women are the main buyers of m/m romance.
      Yeah #notallwomen. But that’s the way to bet, monetarily.

    3. Since I think it’s immoral, definitely Not My Thing as well.

      That said, it goes in the same category as the standard “no strings hook up couple.” If it’s put in there to Make A Statement, I’m gone. They’re sacrificing story for Statement, and it’s an evil statement, bye.

      If it’s just…what is there? Alright, I’ll roll with it. Sinners are everywhere, and the demands of the story sometimes roll that way. It’s not a ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ it’s an ‘is.’

        1. Or as PowerLine Week in Pictures headlined last Saturday, “Green Nude Eel” — kind of like “visualize whirled peas” ….

          1. Difference is that I could actually imagine a green nude eel succeeding in the real world. The other version of GND, not so much…

    1. They all go away, which is fine, because we don’t vote the right [Leftist] way. Sort of like the way snow melts in a warm sun, and doesn’t leave remains.

      How the cities are supposed to be fed without using modern tractors, combines, fertilizers, transport trucks, well, that’s what Handwavium is for.

      1. It’s like Occasional Cortex is a bad novelist who can’t figure out world building.
        … now I think about it, she proposes things like the SJWs in my field write. No suspension of disbelief, just “because the author says so.”

        1. It’s how their worlds work. It’s all top down authoritarian; “because I said so” is all the justification anyone needs.

          “Logical progression based on established preconditions” is something they might learn, be tested on, and forget for classwork, but it has no bearing on how they understand the world works.

        2. If every imagined world is real somewhere (so to speak) I really do wish to encounter that one of hers. And, really, a good many of my own are best avoided, but at least I know that.

      2. “How the cities are supposed to be fed without using modern tractors, combines, fertilizers, transport trucks, well, that’s what Handwavium is for.”
        AOC would probably say something like “I don’t see any problem. Just print more money and buy food with it.”

        1. Food spontaneously appears in warehouses; all you need to do is build clean electric trolley cars to deliver it where it needs to go. The clean electricity is spontaneously generated in breaker boxes…

      3. It’s even worse. Take a look at the oil the products that are used today as the result of refining crude oil. Even if crude was not needed to make gasoline or heating oil, because of elimination of gasoline engines, etc., refining it would remain essential, because all the products made from byproducts of refining will still be needed! Indeed, without crude oil refining, there is no lubrication oil, rubber tires (not nearly enough natural rubber for that), no plastic, and a whole host of absolutely essential products for modern life. Crude oil refining, and the use of byproducts of same to make other products, is one of the most efficient uses of a single product in human history.

        1. Is funny. Back in the late Seventies I heard that same argument — petroleum products are too important to simply burn the stuff — made on Meet the Press by the Shah of Iran.

          All these years later and it still holds true.

      4. “…that’s what Handwavium is for.”

        Could also be what pets, rats, bugs, seagulls, and cannibalism is for, when you get right down to it. Stalin, Pol Pot, etc, etc… If we don’t first learn history, we don’t have to learn *from* it then, right?

  12. Anyone who thinks the 30s -50s were some simple, golden time have obviously not ever really engaged with anyone who lived as an adult through that time. I don’t mean “talked to” someone, but really drilled down and spent some time in their memories. They’re likely basing their reductivist opinions on how Hollywood portrayed the times, as if Hollywood has ever held a reputation for accuracy in TV and film.

    Hell, day to day life back in that era, before modern cooking and cleaning appliances meant that the housewife’s job was monotonous and exhausting. Introduce little children to the equation and you can add hectic to the mix. Affairs still happened. Out of wedlock children were still born. Porn existed. Soul crushing poverty was actually a bigger thing. All the things that the current generations think they’ve been the first to discover or experience.

    It reminds me of an author panel I was watching where Myke Cole (never read his stuff) was speaking of the grittier tone of modern fantasy as opposed to that of Tolkien, and that it was the result of “living in grittier times”. He was unfortunately serious when he made this observation. A guy who seems to have been born sometime around 1965 thinking that our modern times are “grittier” than the WWI to WWII era.

    1. I read some of Cole’s stuff back when I thought Howard Tayler’s recommendation meant something. My level of impressed is consistent with your observation.

        1. He’s managed to keep it out of Schlock Mercenary, though, although any desire I had to buy the print copies has flown away and is not likely to return.

          1. Same, when he made it clear that he not only drank Scalzi’s Kool-Aid, but was starting to manufacture it as well, I decided to no longer go to his well for my refreshment.

            1. I can overlook political differences but his storytelling has gone to heck, tending to overlong hard-to-follow plots interrupted with extended digressions.

              Then there’s the shift from often funny to occasionally amusing …

    2. > They’re likely basing their reductivist opinions on how Hollywood portrayed the times

      As Our Gracious Hostess has said many times, that’s the “story” the culture follows. It’s a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

      Even if they read books instead of watching old movies, anything they find in the libraries or bookstores is going to be right in line with Hollywood, because that’s the current cultural narrative.

      1. I’ve been told that I am forever disqualified from hipsterism (huzzah!) as it’s largely a ‘chic’ faux-poor and I’ve lived close enough to the Real Thing that it’s Right Out. And I will certainly grant that the USA version of “poor” is not at all like genuine poverty, let alone destitution. Even in a pole building with “plumbing” of dubious (at best!) legality…. hey: Roof, electricity, running water, heat, car… sure, we did not, could not “keep up with the Jones’s – in many ways we richer than so many. Books, OLD *useful* textbooks, left about, you-build-it style toys, a family that held together – and the knowledge imparted that one CAN ‘get by’ withOUT assistance/relief/etc. (if the family EVER took such, it was a such a secret I’ve *still* not been told – I do know that extended family did help out now and then – and we could STILL manage Christmas gifts for cousins!)

      2. That’s how the yippie/hippie movement began in the late 1950s. As a society, we were so stinking rich we could afford a certain number of useless parasites.

        Note the hippie thing started going away in the early 1970s when the economy went bust, and existed only in the media well before 1980.

        1. A hippy commune showed up in Palo Alto, CA in the mid 1980s. They were about as relevant as the movie version of Hair

      3. A little economic comparison shopping:

        Bernie Sanders: Well Actually, Breadlines Aren’t Quite So Bad
        Lost innovation and productivity is certainly an argument against breadlines, but for those swayed by the idea of unshackling people from capitalism so they can have more free time and pleasure, don’t assume that standing in breadlines is a happiness upgrade by any stretch of the imagination.

        Even more so, his basic premise is flawed. Does he mean capitalist countries are those in which the rich get the food and the poor starve to death (perhaps a hyperbolic statement on income inequality)? Because that’s mostly false. In 1820, 94 percent of the global population lived in extreme poverty. By 1990, this figure had dropped to around 30 percent, and by 2015, it hovered around 9.6 percent.

        Now, clearly it’s a bad thing to have any number of people living in extreme poverty, but the drastic increase in quality of life and access to basic provisions should not be diminished, and should be attributed to the Industrial Revolution, globalization, and the rise of capitalism.

        If he’s talking specifically about communist and socialist countries and indicting the greed of the ruling classes, calling attention to how they’ve implemented his beloved ideology, he’s absolutely right, and it’s strange he believes that corruption is a bug, not a feature, of socialism. When this same pattern plays out time and time again in countries all over the world, we should begin to wonder whether there’s an enormous issue with the incentives of socialism.
        [END EXCERPT]

    3. Considering that Tolkien started writing about Middle Earth while sitting in a WWI trench, then wrote LOTR while under the Blitz, that’s rather stupid statement.

      1. Precisely.

        It’s the same mechanism that powers Eiland’s Theory of Compensatory misery. Only now, it’s no longer localized to the fringe elements of society.

      2. Captain Tolkien was made of stern stuff. Britain grew Great men in those days.

        And the world is a far poorer place for their absence.

    4. Myke Cole (never read his stuff) was speaking of the grittier tone of modern fantasy as opposed to that of Tolkien, and that it was the result of “living in grittier times”.

      There was a book I read part of a while back where a character was saying that the only reason the majority of Ancient Egyptians could believe in the afterlife was because they’d never seen the reality of a violent death. He seemed to believe that the most ignorant of all about death were the priests. As in, the guys whose job it was to prepare the dead bodies for mummification, those guys clearly know nothing about what it looks like when someone dies violently.

      That’s about the only comparison I can think of to a guy who thinks that the trenches of WWI were a “less gritty” time.

      1. ” the only reason the majority of Ancient Egyptians could believe in the afterlife was because they’d never seen the reality of a violent death.”


        1. OSHA regulations on the pyramid construction projects were extremely rigorous, so reports of Hebrews being crushed under huge stone blocks were highly exaggerated.

      2. That level of ignorance is truly staggering. Please, tell us who this person is, so we can point and make duck noises.

    5. They’re likely basing their reductivist opinions on how Hollywood portrayed the times, as if Hollywood has ever held a reputation for accuracy in TV and film.

      More like, the second hand account of it.

      Singing In the Rain comes to mind– remember main character guy’s “personal history” at the start?

    6. Robert E. Howard wrote Conan during the Great Depression, with fascism and communism rising all over the place and a second world war brewing, but that’s just peanuts compared to the tough life Myke Cole had in Coast Guard black ops.

      1. In fairness to Myke Cole, the world seems much dirtier, much grittier when your head is shoved up between your buttocks.

    7. Though it took me awhile to stop laughing and start analyzing, that Myke Cole crack about “grittier” might be right after all… for certain *very* specific values of “gritty” which seems to mean something different to him than (many of) us.

      Because his “grit” (having read 1-2 or his books, okay but with something very important missing) seems to be something like a spice added sparingly to an otherwise bland and too-agreeable life; while for “us” and/or many of that so-called Greatest Generation, it was/is just simply, well, part of the dish.

      We live in a “grittier” time, simply because we *have it so good* that “grittier” is actually *observable* above the background level of… Dust Bowl dust, in life. (Cf. Christopher Nolan’s use of *actual Dust Bowl first-person stories* shoved several decades futureward, in “Interstellar” and its background story.)

      Meanwhile, I have things like my father’s story from the Army Air Force to be something like “ground truth” for that calibration (born 100 years ago today/ Monday, 10 when the market crashed in 1929, in the USAAF from Pearl Harbor Day to V-J Day and more). Of the teenager sitting in the barracks sobbing his heart out.

      Because he was going home, safe, not through the rest of training and off to war. Because they’d found out he was actually about a year and a half under enlistment age, and he was leaving tomorrow. (Sort of like Steve Rogers / Capt. America but in real life.) Compare and contrast today’s “safe zones” & Confederate tin (bronze) soldier as demonic campus boogeyman — by people years of age *senior* to this young soldier, soon to be unwilling civilian.

      And my father’s simple, direct summary of the Depression years: “Almost nobody had a lot, but almost everybody had just enough. And it was because people worked together.”

      This is why I could read only so much Cole, while I can read or re-read people like David Drake and even ex-Captain Tolkien all day long. (Did Cole ever even *read* Lord of the Rings all the way through?) Not to mention a certain former journalist from Colonial India, some time back…

      The missing spice isn’t “grit” — it’s realism, and perspective.
      Or maybe, as Drake often reminds us, simple ordinary humanity.

    1. Your simple plane still has to do the same things as the complicated ones. Well, other than the lights part. But *you* have to do them, instead of having automatic devices do it for you.

      Though the “automatic” thing can get rather strange… my Mazda RX-7 was an expensive sports car, but it had a manual choke; a knob you had to pull out of the dash. But it had a complex control module that ran a geared electric motor to pull the choke back in according to whatever parameters it was programmed for.

      Since I had thought manual chokes had gone the way of vent windows, I was startled to see such a thing on a new car. And, if it could pull the choke in by iself, why couldn’t it just set it automatically and be done with it? The usual bimetallic strip and vacuum pull-off was certainly simpler, smaller, lighter, and much, much cheaper…

  13. “Which is why Peterson advises we bribe and reward that part of us. ”
    Rule 4, which I read last night (along with Rule 5 on raising children).
    Your posts last week about dealing with the homeless-who-choose-to-live-that-way were concurrent with my reading of Rule 3.
    Kind of feels like being in a book club!
    FWIW, Rule 5 prescribes most of the things I knew were correct procedure 30 years ago while raising my five rug-rats, and I can vouch for their efficacy.

      1. I’m off to read Rule 6 (nocturnal soporific) — I will be really spooked if it intersects your post tomorrow / today.

  14. Your talk of The One Big Job, and sticking to it, set me to thinking.

    We tend to view as ‘normal’ whatever conditions were thought to prevail when we were forming. So; for a brief period ‘working up from the mailroom to the boardroom’ is considered ‘normal’. It isn’t, but it’s the model, and people write knowledgable books about it. For the people whose ideas were formed in that particular period, that is ‘normal’ forevermore. Even when it ain’t. Maybe especially when it ain’t.

    I read, somewhere, an interview with one or another Rolling Stone. The interviewer was asking him how he felt about the new downloaded model of music distribution, most of which didn’t pay worth a damn. And whichever Stone it was (NOT Mick, I’d have remembered Mick) said he felt really, really lucky to have lived during the brief – about 25 year – period when it was possible to become ridiculously wealthy by being in a Band, touring, and producing records.

    Now THERE is a man with an unusual degree of insight!

    1. The downloaded model of music distribution not paying worth a damn is only the fault of the record companies- and usually, the big record companies, not the smaller ones. Plenty of smallish popular bands are making a living at it just fine.

  15. “Sure, in the past there were people who got “the one job” and stuck to it through thick and thin to the golden watch at the end. But I don’t think they were ever the majority. And by the time I came along, you couldn’t have any loyalty to your company, because it would have none to you.”

    You didn’t grow up in the states. But when I graduated HS (’74) & college (’79, ’85, ’89), I was told not to expect to work for the same employer or at the same career for my work lifetime. Things were changing too fast. “It would be rare.” Based on (extremely small) examples I could point to … I’d say they were/are right. I know of one person (ONE) who had one career & one employer for 35 years that is our generation, without being self employed; a few more that had multiple employers, but same career. Did not expect it to be any better for the next generation.

    “you couldn’t have any loyalty to your company, because it would have none to you.” 100% true. It still hurt. Every. Damn. Time.

    If I’d had felt any loyalty from the last one, I probably still be doing some programming, just from home, probably part time by now, but doing some. As it was. I could afford to quit 100%, so bye …

    1. A friend flipped burgers in high school, did four years in the USAF and went to work for an international transport corporation. That was in 1982, and he still works in the same building he started in, though he’s mid-management now.

      Everyone else I know, including me, two years seems to be about the average.

    2. I think part of the problem is that the same company doesn’t EXIST over the whole time.

      For example, my grandfather started working for Bank of Italy, which became Bank of America.

      They were still the same company.

      Since about the 90s, though, they’ve been “re-invented” at least half a dozen times.

      1. I still count them as the same company. Just list them in reverse order, with original start date & end date encompassing them.

        But, yes, I get it. Dad did the same thing. Worked for the same company from ’60 until his stroke in ’86. Not the same company name. But it was the same company doing the same thing. Just doing it differently. When he started he was a draftsman using pen, ink, & manual tools, on a board. By the time of his stroke, they had very few draftsmen & the project engineers were back to doing plans, but on a computer. He was able to work up to a professional engineering position without having the degree. That would not happen today.

        1. “That would not happen today” It still can. My son-in-law dropped out of HS at 16 to literally join the carnival. In 2000, he got hired by a small machine shop to grind carbon. That shop got bought by a larger plant which was part of a French based corporation. He worked his way up and now, despite not even having a GED, he is the number 2 guy in the quality department and is sent to places like China to troubleshoot quality issues. He has educated himself and thankfully, his employers care more about competence than they do about credentials.

          1. Yes. I can see that happening. It was rare before. Rarer now.

            Dad’s firm does (did?) paper/lumber mill configuration & oversaw building & refits as technology evolved. Mostly PNW, eventually western Canada, but the final Canadian firm had him going to Texas & Ireland, before his stroke. Since us kids were grown & on our own, Mom went too.

            Side note. When I first started with IP one of the things they wanted new employees to do, even though it technically wasn’t part of the division I worked for, was tour the paper plant across from the land management office. I put it off but eventually got pulled in when one of the corporate officers was in the region. He wanted to see the tour with “new employees”. I got to be the sacrificial lamb. They didn’t get the huge wow factor from me. You see, I’d toured the plant when it was brand new, before it went online; when I was 14 (part of the “family tour, this is what your dad does”). Mill is gone now. It was decommissioned in 1999. Site is leveled now.

          2. He is probably still not a professional engineer – that is a licensed position, just like a doctor or a nurse.

          3. The Cajun Engineer who blogs at Mostly Cajun, All Opinionated, finished High School. Then he went into the Army (tanks). Then he apprenticed with a specialist in high-voltage electrical stuff, and Tanker is now one of two (three?) people in the US who oversee the high-voltage motors, pumps, and related for the big pipelines and on drilling rigs. He freely admits that there’s no way he could do what he did back then in today’s world with “just” a high school diploma.

      2. This last job (15 years and 2 to go), AesopSpouse has worked for three companies and never moved out of his first office space.

        1. One of the guys who I worked with at IP, moved to programming, finally got on with with me at PSC/Percon. When PSC went under, he eventually landed a job programming for a medical insurance company … about 15 feet from his old cubicle … The insurance company had bought the building in the bankruptcy. I interviewed with the company, when they gave me the tour, I pointed out my old office. Didn’t hire on. I’d been where I was by then for just over 5 years. Wasn’t moving without a huge jump in salary which they weren’t willing to offer; slightly better than a lateral move at best, & losing benefits. He’d warned them before they’d made the cold call. But it was interesting.

      3. My great-Grandmother worked for the First Bank of Richmond, which was bought by a company, which was bought by a company, which was bought by a company, which was bought by a company, which was bought by a company… and after she passed, her kids and grandkids got BofaA stock certificates.

  16. “And if I try to write something that part of me isn’t interested in, it just won’t. I get hours and hours of sitting and staring at the computer and nothing happens. While if I write something it feels needs to be written, things flow out so fast that I have trouble keeping up with the 5k words a minute.

    Which is why Peterson advises we bribe and reward that part of us. Which is not really easy right now….”

    I understand this waaaaaaay too well these days.

    1. One of the reasons you can’t compel programmers to write x characters of code. Even there with a huge opportunity for immediate feed back & reward (it compiled/ran/worked, it didn’t compile/run/work), code won’t always flow from the brain to the typing fingers.

      OTOH –>

  17. I can just imagine the people living 80 years from now and thinking we had it good. The dawn of self-driving cars, a billionaire president, the “gig” economy.

    In 2100, the average temperature on earth will be 10 degrees higher, countries will be fighting each other with sentient A.I., and Elon Musk’s offspring will be preparing to set off for the stars.

    But all kidding aside, I agree that the people that succeed in a civilization are able to adapt and learn new skills quickly. The economy rewards those whose skills are the most valuable. There’s nothing wrong with working at McDonald’s, but its very easy for them to replace you. A data scientist with specialized knowledge, on the other hand, commands a high salary because of his or her valuable skillset.

    1. *gets a look in her eyes like a cat seeing a decorated Christmas tree for the first time*

      You know…that would be a lot of fun.
      Try to write a future history about 50-80 years ahead, with today as the “good old days,” BUT you are not allowed to put in a disaster between the times. Just the same development arc as post WWII to now, or less.

      1. Would you accept a future that is recovering from the cultural effects of a seriously nasty world war, doesn’t bitch about things, but is looking at the past through seriously rose tinted glasses? 🙂

      2. A most interesting idea. I think I have mentioned before that I had pondered a fellow born about 1923… he’d begin to be aware of The World just as the Great Depression hit (and the farm economy was crap before that…) and then there’d be WWII and he’d most likely wind up in that. Assuming intact survival, his post-war world would seem fantastic: general peace, generally decent economy, antibiotics (drugs that worked!), jet aircraft, rockets to space, atomic power… why, anything might be possible! And thus the general (American) optimism of the 1950’s…

        And then I mentioned that to a fellow who live that, born in 1923, left the farm for the Army in 1940 (knowing full well what was ahead, in general if not in specific)… and worked for a power company for years after that. “It’s really easy when nobody is shooting at you.” Well, his take was, “Yep, that’s about right.”

        He doesn’t seem to be much for “good old days” as he was there and recalls them. He like his new almost (but not quite) fully automatic Buick, is amused by the tiny phones (even the big ones are small after the tube ‘portable’). And then there’s modern medicine… someone of 97 years tends to have had some experience with that. The ‘secret’ to life? Keep moving.

        1. When we were young marrieds Beloved Spouse & I were lucky enough to find housing in a “mixed stage” neighborhood, where one-side neighbors were an old couple who’d been married since before pictures talked. He once told us of the time his wife nearly blew a gasket because he’d done the shopping and she was wroth to know how he expected her to make ends meet when he was spending twenty-three cents a pound on ground chuck instead of the seventeen that hamburger cost!!!!

          Of course, I’m now so old I can recall buying gasoline at twenty-three cents a gallon, back before McDonald’s had thought up the Big Mac.

  18. Jobs have been coming to mind a lot lately. I discussed the “kid with many jobs” elsewhere, and was also discussing similar stuff at work (Guys not lasting out the day, leaving at lunch their first day, fired not long after hire for blatant stupidity, etc), and reading the One Job stuff, I went back through mine and counted.
    10 occupations.
    Hired 13 times and worked for 16 employers.

  19. I’m the opposite…I’ve worked for the Navy since 1980. On the other hand, that included some moves internal to the Navy flight test organization, and I spent two years rented out to DARPA, three more rented out to the USAF.

    I know the desert around Edwards AFB as well as I know Pax River. You know it’s bad when you can watch “The Right Stuff” and place three-quarters of the scenes shot at Edwards down damn near to the foot. (FWIW, they shot most of it at South Base…right before that entire facility was rebuilt for the B-2 program)

  20. One last thing…expect the unexpected. If you read SF from the 1950s, it was all straight-line extrapolation from 1950 technology. Computers changed everything. Then the Internet changed everything a second time. Then wi-fi changed everything a THIRD time. (Niven and Pournelle were shockingly prescient with “The Mote in God’s Eye”)

    I’ll put it this way…I’m working, slowly, on an SF novel. Their Big Differences? Breakthrough physics…and a significant cultural shift. Major reaction to the Crazy Years.

    1. Jumping into TMIAHM here, and a bit of personal fanon- the Wet Firecracker War, while not bringing about the Apocalypse, did see a fair amount of EMP damage, and loss of personal electronics & the general means to build them.
      Which is why Mike is so highly protected, and the Lunar Authority so loath to use multiple ‘dumb boxes’. Small electronics would be scarce and in high demand post war- plus China getting rather imperialistic in the Pacific would end much of the current suppliers.

        1. Heh. Father said that about epicycles before I had ever HEARD about ‘dark matter’. Back in the 1970’s when he and I started talking to each-other as adults (OK, it was spotty in my case, since I was still in high school, but he was trying to encourage me). I think what had set him of was ‘wavicles’, but I could be wrong.

    2. The first time I read a story with a big advanced CRT for a RADAR display (showing the invading space fleet…), it wasn’t very jarring. CRT’s were still the dominant display technology and tubes were indeed getting larger. Later it was quite jarring, as CRT’s were largely historical items.

      1. I get a kick out of reading Heinlein’s stories where the spaceship astrogator figures out the trajectory & velocity needed using his trust slide rule.
        (Yes, I have mine from HS & college.)

    1. While I can’t help with which Peterson’s Rule that is either, I can point to the same idea in some other settings.

      Writer-on-writing Julia Cameron (“The Artist’s Way” etc.) calls it an “Artist Date” and describes it as being a bargain with your inner artist (incl. writer).

      Jungian analyst/author Robert Johnson (“Inner Work”) lists this as the most practical category of interaction with your unconscious (“horse trading”) and even gives this example from starting his own practice…

      Most of his initial clients were working people who could come to regular weekly (or thereabouts) sessions only in the evening — and something in his own unconscious found that quite intolerable, no, evenings are fun time!

      So if he kept his active-imagination bargain and took himself out for a nice cheeseburger and fries after work (once a week, or maybe even nightly), all was well again.
      But if he missed even one dinner, he kept forgetting things, falling asleep in the middle of sessions… all the basement-led mischief erupted again instead.

      Moral: ethics and integrity works, especally where the back of your own head is concerned.

      1. Honestly, I’m 99% sure that’s my problem. BUT you have to entice your subconscious with what works, and for me right now it’s mostly going away for a weekend, which we can’t do.
        Ah, well, the young men are in hyperextended training but will be off our hands one way or another in 2020. We can then get more rational.

    2. Rule #4 in Peterson’s “Twelve Rules” book.
      It’s actually not new; most of the “women’s magazines” of just about any era mention the same trick to get past the boring part of house-keeping.

  21. MORE group work, and that all creativity wouldn’t be communal

    May I say: OH HELL NO.

    As the person who was inevitably the one who got the majority of the group’s workload shoved onto her, because ‘more competent’ that the lazy shits who wanted to take advantage of the resident nerd who knew how to touch-type…

    Living life as an endless high school is HELL. And nope nope nope nope so much NOPE.

    1. because ‘more competent’

      And destined to stay that way, because all they’re ever learn is how to avoid work — a strategy that, while effective in the short term is disastrous in the long.

    2. I maintain that those who claim HS is “the best time of your life” is said by those made it Hell for others. I’d say they could shove it, but their heads are already up there.

    3. Believe it or not 20 years ago, writers’ groups were coming back from WC (which is how I heard it) convinced that, yes, in the future, fiction writing would be “as a member of a team.”
      I never bought it. A group of writers in those circumstances would acquire the collective noun “A slaughter of writers.”

      1. There are a lot of bargain basement romance/erotica novels written by consortia, these days, or so they say. Different writers per chapter, writing according to outline. Bleh.

      2. A group of writers in those circumstances would acquire the collective noun “A slaughter of writers.” — Sarah
        I love your choice of nouns.
        But it’s a return to the past, not a leap into the future.
        “The Floating Admiral is a collaborative detective novel written by fourteen members of the Detection Club in 1931. The twelve chapters of the story were each written by a different author, in the following sequence: Canon Victor Whitechurch, G. D. H. Cole and Margaret Cole, Henry Wade, Agatha Christie, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Jepson, Clemence Dane and Anthony Berkeley. G. K. Chesterton contributed a Prologue, which was written after the novel had been completed.[1]”

    4. Throughout my whole high school and college career, I only had one professor who handled group projects well. 5 person team, we were supposed to put together a program to calculate the 4 depreciation formulas, feeding different values and asset classes, plus the calling module. Basically, I ended up as team lead, and two of the four people wouldn’t do a lick of work. When I talked with her, she said “OK, for their methods, just have the program put up a message in 60 point font ‘This section was assigned to Firstname Lastname, who failed to do the assignment.’ ”

      And sure enough, that was how we ended up presenting it to the class. The slugs were mightily offended, and Professor Honan’s response was “In the business world, you’d be fired. Best realize that now.”

      1. I had one professor allow me, with only a month left to submit, strike out on my own on doing a practice thesis (the class was meant to teach us the methodology and process) because I was utterly sick and tired of the rest of the damn group slacking, and then complaining to the teacher that I wasn’t helpful. I did the confrontation at the front of the class, and was warned that if I couldn’t do the job, I would automatically fail. I told her I wouldn’t.

        Long story short, I did everything that I was asked, including the submitting my ‘survey data’, and passed.

        My former groupmates got a failing grade, even with what I’d left for them, which they had the temerity to try blame me for. The teacher upbraided them, saying it was quite clear who was doing the work and who wasn’t.

        1. “My former groupmates got a failing grade” …

          Mine wasn’t quite that stark. End result of the group project was I got the only A, everyone else got C. Everyone did their job on the group. My parts were what were “quickly” agreed to immediately after classes. Short term project, also teaching the processes + group dynamics. Already been through it, entire term, where that WAS the class, for my first degree.

          My problem this time around I was working 20 hours/week, two 10 hour days Tuesday & Wednesday. Gave them hours between 7:30 AM & 4 PM MWF, minus class times, when I would be available. My only two (well 3) criteria were either needed a ride home, or hit the late campus bus to park & ride (before 6 PM), and I was not driving down to campus at night. Period. End of discussion. Last criteria, had to meet somewhere there were clean public bathrooms (morning sickness ain’t).

          The “problem” for them came on the individual group dynamic essays which requested who did what, why, & how did each part work out. That part we all (more or less) agreed on. Where the group & I parted was the part on were the group dynamics. Apparently I was “uncooperative” regarding evening meetings on campus. Their mistake was letting me know that they all were going to “nail me”, that I was never at the scheduled meetings & they had to accommodate me in quick sessions after class. All I did was acknowledge, that “Yes. The facts were true” as far as they went. Then went on to diagram how even the majority don’t get to set the rules sometimes, along with the exact schedule I’d out lined & why. Ending with “& I’m pregnant. I’m not loosing this one.” Yes. I do play dirty. Why?

          Could have played out the other way. What did I have to lose? Honestly? Not much. Difference between me & them, is I understood ALL parts of the project, not just the end result.

          Over all, I’ve never been on projects, that I can remember, when no one did their jobs, or just “phone it in” (minimal work). Either in school or professionally. A couple where the group dynamics weren’t fun, but everyone did their job. But, then I’m an old fart, so maybe more of a recent (last 50 years problem?) Or, I have just been lucky.

          1. Well, it was quickly obvious that the girls I’d left to their own devices (all girls college) hadn’t the slightest idea of how to read what I had written (a complaint they raised was that my English was too difficult to read), and actually had issues in explaining the premise of their thesis (which, mind THEY picked, and I didn’t, because they thought the topic would be easy, but wasn’t.)

            And yes, I played dirty too. I was tired of having to play responsible to a bunch of much younger girls, who were maybe just hitting 20s (I was taking a class out of normal block scheduling). I had a very young kid, regularly went to sleep at 3 am in the morning from the sheer amount of homework in other classes (‘International Studies! Sleep is for the weak!’ was the unofficial motto of my major, and back in the day, actually required us to study about people, real culture, not SJZ bullshit, real situations, war, etc, all of which required hours of research, and teachers who were allowed to criticise at the least and tear you apart verbally if needed, but were also simultaneously super awesome about working with you if you gave them a good showing and good reasons) and timed the revolt just in time to screw them over; though I did consider that if they started actually helping with SOME of the damn work, I would’ve just gotten it done with them.

            Since the entire premise of that particular minor subject was thesis, they had to retake the class. The English teacher for that subject got sick of the whining and passed it to my advisor (and major’s dean) who heard them out then laughed in the girls’ faces. The dean told me she said something like “She regularly writes twenty page reports despite having a 3 year old kid and fills out the maximum pages in essay exams, and you come here trying to tell me Modena is lazy?. Maybe if you’d been a bit nicer and more helpful you’d be looking at that nice shiny 97 instead of a Fail and Retake.”

            I only got a 97 because I didn’t have the time to have the final thesis bookbound in hardcover, and submitted the stupid thing in binders.

              1. “MRS Degree”

                Haven’t heard that one in awhile 🙂 but she did say “all women’s college”. Don’t know if that matters though.

                Never heard the phrase at school, getting my degrees (did a one seasonal job because I wasn’t being, um, “cooperative”).

                Of coarse second & third rounds, technically already had that “degree”. Just wasn’t looking for it the first time around. In fact was rather a shock & meant severely reevaluating my plans (I STILL don’t have a horse!) Granted the reason I went back to school during the spotted owl debacle was the “well since we both aren’t working” plan didn’t pan out (translation: we might as well start our family). Nope. That plan decided to start to work as I was finishing up … I mean really; someone up stairs must have been bored.

  22. “Our Bones are Scattered” is an incredible and haunting read – I have a copy in hardback on my shelves. Yes – the Victorians are much more complicated, sophisticated, even, than current pop culture assumes. The most profitable pre-ACW industrial corporation in the US was in the control of the widow of the man who built it; the arms merchant Samuel Colt. Elizabeth Colt was one of the richest women in the country for most of the rest of the century. Women had enormous social power and influence – witness the effects of the Temperance movement. Women did heroic work in providing medical treatment and support of injured veterans during that same Civil War, as I am discovering in research for my abolition-movement/Civil War oriented next historical. Women like Lizzie Johnson Williams, Sally Skull, Mary Ellen Pleasant, Madame CJ Walker, the Clafin sisters, the Grimke sisters – all exercised power, sometimes economic and sometimes social and political. And yet the current SJW set insist on believing that women throughout the 19th century were all downtrodden, hapless, powerless domestic drudges.
    See – this is why I write HF! As an exercise in educating, an exercise which formal education seems to have abandoned…

  23. I am very frustrated with the education system. But you are right. It has probably always been teaching useless stuff because that was the best that the grandparents could come up with.

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