Unfinished Chapels

 

capelas imperfeitas

In Portugal there is a set of chapels called “unfinished chapels.”

If you’re passionately interested in their history it is here.  But it amounts to buildings started by a king who died, his master builder died, someone continued them a hundred years later, and then again 300 years later.  And yet the majority of them are still unfinished.

And still beautiful.  I remember because I visited them as  a kid.

In Portuguese they are known as “The Imperfect Chapels” (Capelas Imperfeitas.)  I mean, they know they’re unfinished, of course, but it’s more considered as though they lack something of perfection.  And part of it is perhaps the attitude of the Portuguese, at least in the time when they were built.

Because they figured they’d be perfected sometime, and when didn’t much signify.

As you can tell today I’m having issues with time management.  Yes, there are reasons: I woke up with symptoms of either a severe cold or a severe auto-immune attack.  Either/both are possible, because I’m under a great deal of stress right now, stress that likely will not clear until around about the fourth of July.  This made yet another visitation this morning under the guise of various bureaucratic issues that had to be solved right then, which means my writing hasn’t happened yet.  Heck, I showered at 11, have only now finished my first cup of coffee, feel a great need to go back to bed, and frankly am rather sick and tired of this rollercoaster/transition year we call 2019.

Which brings me to…

People used to build slowly and in the belief that future generations would finish it.  This came to mind recently about Notre Dame which took, if I recall correctly, 200 years to finish and was added to 300 years later.  Yes, it was also a massive government project, paid for by the taxes of the unheard citizenry.  But let’s face it, in a time with little surplus, that was — more or less — the only way things ever got built.

And sometimes, sometimes the future generations failed you, and things never got built.

Is it paradoxical that in our longer-lived times we must have things faster — and replace them faster? — and that we never trust future generations to finish them?

I don’t know.

I know that while we might lose something as to the span and artistry of what can be done, we also give future generations more latitude.

People going to Europe often are convinced it must be very rich because of all the monuments. But really, they’re not. They’re people living off the long-term investment of previous generations. They have zero capital they can realize, in all this.

What they invested was time, and a certain confidence they could indenture future generations.

We’re back to that community versus self again.

Can a multi-generational project indenture the future and accept that the future will pay?

I don’t know.  I’m against it. Let each person, and each generation make their own mistakes and establish their own priorities.

And then I remember that every child born in the US today is born owing what was it? 40K? 80k?  It’s so absurd, that it’s hard to remember and in a way meaningless.  I understand why the socialists think money means nothing and you can just always print more.  But of course money is a symbol for wealth used.

The truth is that we’re spending not just on those unwilling or incapable of working, but also on easing the way for corporations, and various cronies boondoggles (hello Solindra) the money for several unfinished chapels.

Only instead of taking several generations to complete the project and spreading the pain, we’re charging the future for destroying the productivity and culture today. (What? You thought welfare didn’t do that? You thought it only eased extreme cases? You wish.)

We don’t even know if the future will exist, much less have the surplus.  But we’re confidently sticking them with the bill.

And they won’t even have some cool unfinished buildings to attract tourists, when our time is done.

98 responses to “Unfinished Chapels

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Take Care.

  2. In the book “Islands in the Stream”, Hemingway wrote one of my favorite little conversations about how government works in a conversation between his hero and a local politician about a perpetually unfinished aqueduct to Havana.
    Because there was a need for a aqueduct, there was always money available for the aqueduct, and so it would never be finished- because why kill the goose that lays the golden aqueduct?

  3. Professor Badness

    Somehow, one way or the other, I don’t think this system is still going to be operating in a generation or two.
    And the thought of what might replace it frightens me.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Hey, look on the bright side, at least it doesn’t excite you.

    • Culture, institutions, and ways of doing things have tremendous amounts of inertia- continental even. The Roman Senate continued to meet centuries after the “Fall” of Rome, for just one example.
      How things shake out in the future is hard to see, but it’s not going to be all that radically different on the smaller scale.

    • The thought of what will in all likelihood replace it should scare the piss out of the Progressive Left…but they are too stupid to see it coming and get off the train tracks.

  4. I sometimes wonder if the modern “death is optional” mindset plays a role. It is more subconscious than spoken. There have been so many advances in medical technology and disease prevention that we sometimes get the sense that death is what happens only if you foul up. If you take some news stories literally, you get the idea that once we cure cancer, people stop smoking and eating “wrong,” then we’ll all live forever. So why plan for something that requires another generation or two, when we’ll be here for it? We’re no longer used to the idea that we’ll die before we see our grandchildren grown, and don’t allow for that in our culture.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      That’s why we need my social policy of mass hangings! XD

    • TXRed, that’s one of the reasons I’m an odd. I know I’m human, with all the aches, pains, and susceptibility to permanent injury or death. I know the statistics based on population and family history say I’ll be dead in 15 years. Yet I expect, and am financially planning, on living to at least double the current normal human maximum lifespan. With that kind of expectation of longevity, the health of “the system”, government, culture, environment, is of high importance to me. I don’t have the mentality of, “Oh, I’ll be dead before I ever have to worry about it.” Of course the fact that I know considerably more about history, geology, meteorology, hydrology, ecology, biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy than the average American, I don’t get all worked up about alleged problems of climate change, asteroid collisions, erupting super volcanoes, droughts, floods, etc. I do have a philosophy of government that, with the exception of true emergencies, we should not be doing anything without considering the consequences of laws, policies, or regulations for the next 7 generations.

      • Heh. When it comes to those asteroid collisions and supervolcano eruptions and whatnot – I’m not personally worried, but I am still kind of worried, in the sense that those are what I would want us to start preparing for NOW, because now we finally can, and there may not be time to do it when humans find out that something is finally going to happen. Besides, at least when it comes to something like comets or bigger rocks out there, while they ARE so rare that you really need to worry about them less than you would have a pressing need to figure out what to do with the major lottery jackpot we still might always find out tomorrow that something is coming this way.

        Somebody always wins the lottery too, sooner or later.

        Which is one of the reasons why the current hysteria about climate change pisses me off. Because I’d much rather have that money used for creating a way to protect the planet from those collisions, and do some preparations for that big volcano eruptions and so on. Especially those bigger collisions should be prioritized. Would not be funny if we “save the world” from humans only for everything to go to hell because the big rock comes, especially considering that humans are the only thing which can save the world from that.

    • William H. Stoddard

      Well, my father-in-law has lived to see two of his three grandchildren married and two great-grandchildren born. And his grandchildren married comparatively late; the second one got married at 32, just a few weeks ago. That’s amazing longevity by earlier generations’ standards. I was rereading Heinlein juveniles, and I noticed that Max Jones is around 20, and both his father and his uncle have died, and his mentor Dr. Hendrix, who was trained by Max’s uncle, dies of heart failure midway through the book . . . which seems like “died appallingly young” to me.

      • My maternal grandparents not only raised their children, saw their grandchildren raised, and the oldest of the great-grandchildren raised to produce the first great-great-grandchild, before their deaths. They lived to be 95.

        My paternal grandmother passed away just before the birth of her first great-great-grandchild AND the birth of the next to last grandchild … The difference between her oldest child and her youngest is 16 years. Difference between her oldest grandchild and youngest is 37 years … She was just short of 80 when she passed away.

    • Culture? We don’t allow for it in our psyches. Prolonged lifespan without an ability to decrease for hyperbolic future discounts will get — ugly.

  5. Your question, “Can a multi-generational project indenture the future and accept that the future will pay?” is a serious one for any SF-aware folks. Were we to build a viable generation ship, or even just permanent space settlements here in the solar system, what moral authority would the builders and initial population have to enforce specific desires and directions on later generations? On Earth such questions are less apocalyptic, as the failure of any specific political polity usually just means the populace moves elsewhere or gradually stands up something new on the bones of the old. But in space there’s little or no room for error, and some things just aren’t amenable to popular decision-making. The population don’t get to vote on the mix of gases in the atmosphere, for example.

    So how can this question be answered? I’ve been having some discussions with some philosopher friends (one in particular) about this. I’ll expound on it if anyone wants, but I’d rather see what others think about the issue.

    • Do a guest post. At least that, like the chapels, is CONSTRUCTIVE.

      • I’ll have to talk about that with the other parties, as the discussion was done with the intention of editing it down to a piece for the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop newsletter (not for the issue upcoming in May, but for the one after that). If they’re in agreement, I’ll be happy to write it up for you, Sarah.

    • The US Constitution ‘encumbered’ future generations with a system of law and governance that the Founding Fathers defined and placed themselves under, albeit with procedures for modification established in advance. Obviously being human beings, the Founding Fathers lacked the perfection of angels, and recognizing this, tried to set things up so that normal people could make a go of ruling themselves. Seems to have worked out mostly pretty well so far.

      Newborns in the US are subject to the Constitution and other laws, as are various U.S. Persons and Aliens, all just by being here.

      Objections to this legal encumbrance under the “dead imperfect white men wrote it” argument are widely heard today among those who favor an alternate encumbrance, one without modification clauses, under the theories of that dead white guy Marx. These arguments are widely held to be a smokescreen for the return to a feudal aristocratic form of “governance” mostly akin to the “divine right of Kings” theory, except replacing the words divine and king with other words along the lines of “the inevitable arrow of history inevitably leads to a dictatorship of the proletariat, embodied temporarily as the brief rule of selfless technocrats, for the short period before things wither and nirvana breaks out” (not the band).

      But that’s setting the format of governance and law, not debt.

      Newborns can also be thought of as having a calculated share of the National Debt, though not officially allocated as such – it’s currently the US Government, as a State entity, that is the debtor.

      To my understanding, it is not currently possible to encumber individuals in a family with debt incurred by previous generations – the family (indeed, the borrower themselves) can walk away from any debt as long as the security for the loan is yielded to the lender, with only the impact of a default on their credit rating to their detriment.

      There are such things as personal loans, and their lack of security shows up in their high interest rates, presumably to cover the high rates of default without material consequence.

      On a national scale the concept under examination seems to be that the debt run up by the representatives on behalf of the nation’s residents* is secured by the nation as a whole, and the continued existence of that nation imposes responsibility for that debt on the nation’s residents**. But nations repudiate debt often enough, without collection agents descending on the individuals in that nation demanding their “share” of the debt, that any allocation of national debt is theoretical at best. But it’s also the nations that have the armies, and debt collectors facing an army might decide default is the better part of valor.

      And when countries experience a change in government, while it’s pretty certain the new government will seek to collect on all debts owed the deposed prior government, it’s by no means assured any new government will agree to pay the old government’s debt.

      So that’s governmental debt – what about private debt forms?

      On an indvidual level, if you live on a boat, any debt secured by that boat has to be paid if you don’t want to have the boat taken away from you.

      So for an O’Neill colony in space, a surface colony on a surface somewhere, or a ship bound for Alpha Centauri, they could all be financed by debt, but it would be interesting to see how such debt is secured. Having reposession imposed on a Lunar colony’s domes would be an interesting story.

      An alternative to debt would be to sell stock and incorporate the colony. In that case stockholders would buy a share and be entitled to such profits as the company realizes after expenses. Presumably stockholders would get a place in the colony. I was surprised at how common this format was in European colonization of North America.

      In the corporate case there is no debt, but rather equity. Shares would be sellable and heritable, and equity would follow share ownership – in theory negative equity, as a balance sheet calculation, could follow the share as well, but I doubt debtors could do more than force the corporation into bankruptcy for reorganization (hello, GM) or dissolusion.

      But the debt GM had run up did not result in collection actions against the idiots like me who owned GM shares – I just was left with worthless stock.

      I would imagine that’s the most likely format for efforts taht stay in range of established market structures.

      As for generation ships: Who would collect? Debt assessed on future generations owed to whom? A form of civic duty debt to the whole ship, like a military draft? I can see that. But a form of indentured servitude on each new generation to pay off their company-store-oxygen-bill? I doubt the debtholders would survive such a system.

      * Certainly to whose gain the debt was incurred is arguable, but let’s run with the thought.
      ** One wonders if the thought of taking on their share of the national debt might disincline illegal immigrants from coming to the US. Maybe if they were required to prepay their debt share on entry…

      • > Newborns in the US are subject to the Constitution

        …and the Constitution of the state (or any of the posessions, districts, or territories that have adopted one) that they were born in.

      • That assumes that the ship/colony builders are asking for loans. I know it sounds strange, but what if they earned and saved the funds ahead of time before undertaking the project? If you can’t afford to buy it, then don’t buy it until you can afford it.

      • ” not currently possible to encumber individuals in a family with debt incurred by previous generations – the family (indeed, the borrower themselves) can walk away from any debt as long as the security for the loan is yielded to the lender, with only the impact of a default on their credit rating to their detriment. ”

        Correct. No debt is encumbered on the non-spousal survivors. You just walk away from the mess. Cough, cough … grandparents. Frankly we were surprised that the property sold for more than the loan on it. We figured to go in and pull out grandfathers monetary worthless oil paintings, a few other monetary worthless sentimental items, and turn everything over to the idiot bank who gave them a loan, or the county for taxes, with “Have fun!!!” Didn’t work out that way. But other than the mortgage, county, and other legal requirements, all other creditors got 10 cents on the dollar, if that.

        (** This time I’ll remember to click the “follow” box …)

  6. Most cathedrals were not government projects, unless it was being built by Prince-Bishop Bob.

    They did fundraising. Tons and tons of medieval bakesales (okay, extra marketdays on feastdays with goodies. Lots of processions from town to town with rousing sermons and the bishop doing favors. Lots of guys publicizing pilgrimage saints and feast day festivals (And those extra market days). Blah blah blah.

    Now, if a bishop was your lord, he might raise your rent, but generally that was counterproductive. They wanted people to be willing and enthusiastic, and have some local saint pride. And if it took a while, it took a while, which just gave you more time to encourage the rich people to be openhanded and get their emblems all over, like fundraisers today.

    • This one was done by a king, to commemorate a battle victory.

      • You mean the Portugal one, right?

        Because Notre Dame was the Archbishop of Paris unilaterally deciding that the old Romanesque cathedral was no longer good enough or big enough.

        Yup, if a king decided to.give God a gift, it usually meant that He had decided that his subjects were paying. Although some kings did fund stuff from their own demesne land’s produce and proceeds, that was not always the way.

        • I meant Portugal, yes. Mosteiro da batalha. Look it up. It’s a terrible, barren wilderness, but they call it poetry in stone.

        • Of course, given the right encouragement, even the most oriental despot might change his mind…..

          https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/akbars_bridge.html

          “JELALUDIN MUHAMMED AKBAR, Guardian of Mankind,
          Moved his standards out of Delhi to Jaunpore of lower Hind,
          Where a mosque was to be builded, and a lovelier ne’er was planned;
          And Munim Khan, his Viceroy, slid the drawings ‘neath his hand.

          (High as Hope upsheered her out-works to the promised Heavens above.
          Deep as Faith and dark as Judgment her unplumbed foundations dove.
          Wide as Mercy, white as moonlight, stretched her forecourts to
          the dawn;
          And Akbar gave commandment, “Let it rise as it is drawn.”)
          ************
          Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind,
          Spoke with Munim Khan his Viceroy, ere the midnight stars declined-
          Girt and sworded, robed and jewelled, but on either cheek appeared
          Four shameless scratches running from the turban to the beard.

          “Allah burn all Potters’ Widows! Yet, since this same night was young,
          One has shown me by sure token, there was wisdom on her tongue.
          Yes, I ferried her for hire. “Yes,” he pointed, “I was paid.”
          And he told the tale rehearsing all the Widow did and said.

          And he ended, “Sire of Asses-Capon-Owl’s Own Uncle-know
          I-most impotent of bunglers-1-this ox who cannot row-
          I-Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind-
          Bid thee build the hag her bridge and put our mosque from out
          thy mind.”

          So ’twas built, and Allah blessed it; and, through earthquake,
          flood, and sword,
          Still the bridge his Viceroy builded throws her arch o’er Akhar’s
          Ford!”

    • Medieval churches held “ales” for fundraising. Men dressed up as Robin Hood and his merry men to provide entertainment.

  7. well, i dont know if we can depend on future generations for beans at this point

    • Beans produce gas in one’s innards…

    • Can you imagine social justice zealots trying to throw tantrums in a multigenerational spaceship? I mean, about half of what they throw tantrums over is “I don’t want to do this and I shouldn’t be expected to / made to work!”

      I did and briefly entertained myself imagining that they’d be thrown out of the ship airlocks because their screaming and feet-stomping posed a threat to ship hydraulics, or for being a waste of precious resources without contributing positively to the survival of the ship.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Don’t throw them out of the airlock.

        Recycle them. 😈

        • As what, fertilizer? Not sure they’d be beneficial to the plants, even reduced to a nutrient fluid.

        • Gah. Paul, you beat me to it.

          • Insty mentioned that the founder of Earth Day did just that with his abruptly-ex girlfriend’s body. Of course, he got caught.

            Similar scene in P&N’s Footfall where a journalist with more scoop attitude than brains got recycled. Still on Earth, but hey, it’s still a “Spaceship”.

            • I hate to break a legend, but no. It was the usual “Try to hide a body in a storage chest,” except he did not have a plastic impervious one. So he stuffed a bunch of newspaper, styrofoam, and whatever else he thought might stop decomposition.

              Alas for him, this was damp Boston in a damp old building, and the chest he left behind got filled with drippy human remains, which then went through the chest, the floor, and into the unfortunate downstairs neighbor’s room. It took several months, and I am sure it was not pleasant for the discoverers; but murder did out. Partly because Einhorn did not compost his girlfriend, or deal with her body in any effective way. He just ran off.

              • OK. It was too good to check. We just got a recall done on one of our vehicles (swap out the Death-to-passenger airbag), but the tech missed reconnecting a wire. So, I get to drive back into town tomorrow.

                And, next week, I have two more recalls to deal with. None quite so impressive, but need to be checked/fixed right away. Sheesh!

                /rant

            • yep. He also invented speed bumpers, the asshole. Death is too good for him.

        • Pigs got to eat, too.

          • You know it’s possible to get identifiable DNA from feces? They could still determine who the victim was after the pig got through with them. Or should that be after they got through the pig?

      • Or if not quite that, well a reduced (uncomfortable but not debilitating) atmosphere might have some effect. Now, as to the effect being the desired one…

      • Shadow. Stop giving me ideas. I probably could sell it to Analog.

      • William H. Stoddard

        No, no, you never throw people out the airlock. You start doing that and in a few decades you’re running short of organics, or even water. Every one of those dissidents is precious biomass that keeps the closed ecosystem cycling.

        Of course you might accelerate the cycle in some cases.

      • “Can you imagine social justice zealots trying to throw tantrums in a multigenerational spaceship?” Sounds pretty close to what happened with the US Navy warship that was involved in a collision, in substantial part because two female officers weren’t speaking to one another.

    • I was watching an episode of MST 3k*, and there was a scene of two older people grousing about how kids are irresponsible slackers unwilling to do their jobs. This was filmed right before WWII. It’s nothing new.
      A vast majority of young people are subject to Rectal-Cranial inversions, but most grow out of it.

      *The Brute Man

  8. William H. Stoddard

    It looks to me as if “imperfeitas” might be meant here in something close to the grammatical sense, where the imperfect form of the verb situates you in the middle of the action (“I was building a cathedral”) and the perfect form situates you after its completion (“I have build a cathedral”). Does that make any sense?

  9. Christopher M. Chupik

    I think there’s an interesting story in the idea of multi-generation terraforming. Superpowers come and go, but who keeps the atmosphere factories going through it all? Your terraforming project might have started under the Inner Planets Republic but might be finished by the Second Solar Empire.

    • William H. Stoddadr

      As in A Princess of Mars, where someone has to keep the atmosphere plant running. . . .

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      In Robert R Chase’s “The Game Of Fox And Lion” (minor point) there was a terraforming project ran by a Monastery Order because only a Religious Group would take on such a long-term project.

      Oh, it wasn’t as difficult as terraforming Venus would be.

      • It was pretty normal for religious orders to ask for some terrible barren piece of wilderness to build their house, mostly for privacy, and then to end up making it fertile or developing new land uses.

        For example, Clairvaux was built on a piece of land once called “the Valley of Wormwood,” or something like that, because that was pretty much all that grew there when the monks moved in.

        • “then to end up making it fertile or developing new land uses.”
          One among the many reasons why the Arabs hate Israel.

          • From bits of history I read, apparently the Roman Empire had managed to make pretty good roads, and plant lots of trees along the route (olive was preferred, fruit trees, etc) and there were entire areas that are now barren desert that were actually fertile breadbasket regions until Islam took over the region, because one of the inroads for conquest was stealing harvests, destroying the farmlands in raids, repeatedly and slowly, until the people and the land were worn down and converted or agreed to be dhimmi.

      • There’s also the old Chinese model- the new conquer finds that the established system of bureaucrats and tax gatherers is working pretty dang good, so if it ain’t broke and all that.
        Next thing you know, they’re sitting on the old throne (super comfy), using the old titles, and pretty much have just slipped into the old norms.
        Repeat with the next set of conquers.

      • To keep your system going, man with those who volunteered as adults.

        There were, I have heard, bridge-building orders in medieval times.

  10. “Can a multi-generational project indenture the future and accept that the future will pay?”
    This is relevant to the present as well as the future, and is a huge source of our current political problems.

    I remember being absolutely floored when a Liberal I was having a friendly arguement with, noted that he did not feel obligated in the slightest by a Constitution negotiated by people long dead.

    • That would apply to a majority of the code of law…

    • And that’s fine. But he should leave the US then.

      • Don’t forget, unlike immigrant citizens like yourself, and members of the military and most government members, no child born in the U.S. ever has to take the oath of citizenship. So they could go their entire lives without promising to abide by the Constitution. Heck, they don’t even have to know anything about it (and most don’t, beyond it’s name) And that is one of the major flaws I see with the system.

        • scott2harrison

          The Constitution basically applies only to the government in that it specifies what it must, may and may not do. Government officials do take an oath to uphold it, so the fact that citizens do not in general really does not matter.

        • Sadly, even many of those who take the service oath either fail to understand the concepts inherent in the Constitution or do so under false pretenses.

    • Randy Barnett’s book, “Restoring the Lost Constitution,” gets into this question very deeply in its first section, Constitutional Legitimacy, where for about 80 pages he examines the concept of “consent of the governed.” It’s well worth getting a copy and reading it completely (along with pretty much anything else Barnett writes).

    • The same hypocrite… I mean Liberal… (but I repeat myself) would probably be the first to claim his “Rights” to freedom of expression, privacy, security from illegal search and seizure, etc. etc. etc.

      They only want to ignore a “Constitution negotiated by people long dead” when it gives them power over others.

    • I hope I’m never in that situation, because I would be sorely tempted to knock him down and take his stuff. The constitution is the very basis of our laws. No constitution, no rights. So if he doesn’t feel obligated in the slightest for the constitution to apply to him, why should I?

      Why waste a perfect opportunity to go a-Viking! Such is the ways of my people! LOL!

  11. Oooh, that’s gorgeous, even unfinished… so I read about it, and then about some related thing, and 50 links later somehow went down a rabbithole that culminated with watching a documentary on the Amish.

    I’m starting to think this place is a portal to alternate universes.

    • (Nudges duck-billed 8 legged buffalo around the corner. Whistles innocently.)

      What could you possibly mean by that?

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Problem with that, that would imply that there is one of them where I am sane. 🙂

      • Access to alternates is not the same as access to infinite alternates. Don’t panic.

        • And even if there are infinite alternates, things can still be excluded. There are no odd even numbers, though there are an infinite number. Like no irrational rational numbers. Etc.

    • As Terry Pratchett noted: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; a good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read. And while this is not a bookshop, it is a place where books like to reside.

  12. Once we reach our tipping point, our society is going to go BOOM!

    • Societies tend to be a hell of a lot more stable than some people think.
      It takes a hell of a lot to overcome the normal inertia of culture, of how things are done, and so on. Multiple years of a stalemated total war, with rationing, hunger, death upon death of the young, and serious privation of the general population, for instance.

      • And societies, [for] good or bad, tend to be very elastic. They generally snap back into something at least close to what came before. There is, of course, an elastic limit and going past that can be rather messy.

      • True enough! The book I’m listening to on the Black Death/Great Mortality is illustrating that very vividly. Even in areas where the mortality rate was as high as 60%, civilization *still* did not break down entirely.

        One doesn’t often think of a notary making wills for the dying as heroic, but in this case? It absolutely was, since they were dying of plague and the notary could–and often did–contract the plague and die as well. Still, there were a number that stayed put and wrote the wills so that the transfer of property from the dead to the living did not break down entirely.

        • Likewise, there was a lot of places where the tradesman & his family had died, leaving his shop and tools abandoned- and some field bound peasant figured it would be a step up to give a different occupation a go, and would just step in and take over.
          Some would fail, but some would do fine with an opportunity they would have never otherwise had.

  13. Isn’t Alice one of Sarah’s middle names?

  14. I remember seeing many unfinished-looking houses on the Greek islands a few years back; apparently it was something to do with the taxation system providing an incentive to leave them that way, though I suspect in many cases people simply couldn’t afford to finish them after the financial crisis hit. Maybe the next generation will finish them (at least, those who haven’t left in search of better jobs etc.)

    The unfinished chapels are beautiful. Kind of the opposite of all the ruined abbeys you see scattered across northern England.

  15. “Is it paradoxical that in our longer-lived times we must have things faster — and replace them faster? — and that we never trust future generations to finish them?”

    No, because in a FREE COUNTRY your future generations will be doing what -they- want to do, not what you left undone for them to be getting along with. We gift things to future generations. Like the Hoover Dam, the highway systems, flush toilets and footprints on the moon.

    The Lefties of course would very much like to INDENTURE future generations to work on their Lefty projects, such as Glowball Warmening. Perfect example, the never-ending project that doesn’t -do- anything but lets the designers steal all the money in the world.

    “Can a multi-generational project indenture the future and accept that the future will pay? I don’t know. I’m against it.”

    Like buy a condo in Tokyo that has a tail on the mortgage so long they consider your kid’s pre-school grades in the calculation? Except for a whole fricking country?

    Oh, you mean Greece. Yeah, I’m against it too.

    Ever notice how those multi-generation slower-than-light colony ships are always fleeing some immense, world-ending catastrophe? That’s the only justification Lefties can come up with why anybody would sign up for that.

    • I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, “that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;” that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. The portion occupied by an individual ceases to be his when himself ceases to be, and reverts to the society. If the society has formed no rules for the appropriation of its lands in severalty, it will be taken by the first occupants. These will generally be the wife and children of the decedent. If they have formed rules of appropriation, those rules may give it to the wife and children, or to some one of them, or to the legatee of the deceased. So they may give it to his creditor. But the child, the legatee or creditor takes it, not by any natural right, but by a law of the society of which they are members, and to which they are subject. Then no man can by natural right oblige the lands he occupied, or the persons who succeed him in that occupation, to the paiment of debts contracted by him. For if he could, he might during his own life, eat up the usufruct of the lands for several generations to come, and then the lands would belong to the dead, and not to the living, which would be reverse of our principle. What is true of every member of the society individually, is true of them all collectively, since the rights of the whole can be no more than the sum of the rights of individuals.

      Thomas Jefferson