The Coming Debtpocalypse


Yes, there are other things to talk about, and we will talk about them, including “Nobody knows anything” part the third or fourth, or whatever the heck it is.

But my son belongs to a group of young people who chat online. And I realized, with a startle, that while these people — thirties and twenties — are completely inured to “the world is going to end in twelve years” because they’ve been hearing it since elementary school, they believe they’re in for another type of apocalypse.

It was when one of my son’s friends said something on line about how the debt apocalypse was going to kill her soon, in the same day my son had spent half an hour natering at me about how soon all our budget would go to service our debt, that I realized they’ve been feeding each other tales of “apocalypse now..”

For all I know their group is not unusual for smarter kids in our nation. Which would explain what Victory girls said is The Rise Of Joker Terrorism.

Look, kids run about ten years behind us. That’s how good life has been. Humans need a certain amount of hardship to grow and learn, and even my kids — and we tried to pile responsibilities on them as soon as they could handle them — run 5 to 10 years behind us, depending on the area.  More in some.  I don’t expect they’d be comfortable taking night trains all over Europe with their back pack to places they’d never been. But then again, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it now, trains having become in general uncomfortable to me.

Hormonal insanity actually runs through mid twenties in most boys. Heck, I remember when it turned off. I was 23. I felt the switch go off, as it were, and suddenly there wasn’t a mad squirrel in the back of my mind. (In retrospect, I think adult hormone levels kept my ADD controllable, because menopause seems to have sent it spinning again, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

The point is, people who are hormonally insane, are coming of age in an economy that yeah, is starting to move, but in the Obama years, when there were no jobs, most of them accumulated more credentials and consequent debt than any of us had at their ages. And they have to find jobs that pay enough for that. And they don’t see a pathway to get to where we are.

Meanwhile, hiring has become exponentially crazier.  No, seriously. Not only have most companies acquired HRs but they’re processing things via computer. People are now supposed to put in “keywords” to get hired. No, seriously. I can’t even come up with keywords for my books, much less for myself. If I were looking for work now (and it might, G-d knows, come to that) despite all my qualifications and work ethic, that would be an insurmountable barrier. Kid isn’t doing much better than I. Nor are his friends. I would say “I don’t know what the companies are up to” but of course I do. Most people I know, including Dan’s current job, are hired through word of mouth recommendation.  This is useful because then people have some assurance the, say, newly hired engineer can at least read and write, given “nobody knows anything” (or trusts anyone else. And that too is a post for another day. In the name of being “non-discriminatory” we’ve made all credentials valueless.) And if it fails, well, there’s always HB1 visas.

Thing is we didn’t know.  I’m still appalled “How we got so far so quick.” And we can’t have been the only ones who didn’t know.

Societies have workarounds for these things. In Europe you stay in the professions where your family has contacts, precisely because of this. Yeah, sure, it prevents upward mobility, but your kid won’t spend 6 years unemployed, as my brother did, when he didn’t know anyone in electrical engineering.  If we’d had an inkling, I’d have apprenticed the elder, while advising him to get something quick that pays at least something (probably paramedic training, since he’s been fascinated by human biology since he knew it existed) till he established himself. And Dan would have apprenticed the younger.

We didn’t know. We can’t be the only ones.

So there are a bunch of young people, having trouble finding jobs commensurate with their training, or in the areas they worked very hard to work in. That’s before you get into the lies, like “if you have an English degree people will make you an executive.” Yes, I’ve been reading those articles for 30 years, implying that knowing a lot about your native language and a ton of shibboleths about political correctness is somehow valuable for business. (I guess all these people end up in HR, explaining a lot.) I’m here to tell you it’s a lie. My degree translates closest to that (with translation training and a lot of other stuff thrown in) and there are no jobs except what would have been — 50 years ago — a high-school graduate’s ladder of beginner job that proves you’re actually good for something. By which I mean, yep, retail, or barista, or, in an office, receptionist. Which is fine, if you didn’t pay for a Masters. (I didn’t. And no, it wasn’t free college for all, but it’s too complex to get into.)

Anyway, so you have these kids running around.  They are full of the hormonal insanity that makes it necessary for things to happen NOW.  (Probably an evolutionary mechanism that makes you succeed while you have the strength to work insanely.)  And even if they find something, and are making money — guys, married couples will be piling two and three to an apartment now, because they can’t afford to rent alone, let alone buy — they don’t see a pathway to their parents’ standard of living, with the monkey of student loans on their backs.

Of course they believe apocalyptic theories.  Climate change. Illuminati conspiracy bullcrap.  And apparently, for the more discriminating set, debtpocalypse.

It ties in well with their lack of experience and the “everything must happen/will happen now.”

And is it any surprise the more unstable take to mass murder? What shocks me is that there aren’t more of them. (And no, it’s not guns. Trust me on this, there are other ways to commit mass murder.)

This reminds me of exam week in 9th grade, approaching the exams that would determine whether we went to college or professional training, or were done with formal schooling.  People were jumping down from the fourth floor in the stairwell. People were throwing themselves under trains. And all of them left “manifestos.”  And yes, people were putting bombs in schools. Fortunately not COMPETENT people, so none of them went off.

Same sort of thing.

Well, I can’t speak to eco-pocalypse, except to tell you I wouldn’t pay it too much attention. There are places you can find reliable information that aren’t panic mongers, but this is not the point of this post.  I’ll just say this: when I was your age we were all going to freeze to death. By 1990 we were supposed to be in the middle of another ice age.  Because pollution. And the solution for it was more government control and giving up fossil fuels.

Then it changed on a dime to “we’re all going to burn to death” but the reasons and solutions were the same. (And that’s when I stopped subscribing to Scientific American.)

That the horizon is always 10 to 12 years means it’s someone trying to stampede you. You can’t always know all the scientific stuff they bring up to achieve this (though at this point I know a lot of scientists, so I CAN, at least second hand) but if you just assume something with a 10 to 12 year horizon of “we’re all gonna die” is bullshit and it’s either someone telling lies/exaggerating for the frisson of it, or dishonest politicians (but I repeat myself) trying to stampede you, you won’t go far wrong.

I can’t answer to the Illuminati, the Templars, or any other kind of shadowy organization.  I’m SURE there are no shadowy conspiracies going back hundreds or (dear Lord) thousands of years. I’m sure of it for the simple reason that human institutions aren’t that good at staying the same, let alone staying the same AND SECRET. Look at the Roman Catholic Church, history of, for elucidation.  Or heck, our constitutional republic.

There are piddly “conspiracies” like the Journolist crap. But mostly the left has a lot of people going the same way having been brainwashed not even into the principles of the left, but into believing that being leftist is a positional good. I.e. that “wearing” leftism makes them smarter, kinder, and probably gives them a better complexion. (IOW, it’s #metoo all the way down, on every subject, which is hilarious when they idolize the image of rebels [But actually hate any real rebels, like all good boys and girls do.])

Now the debt-pocalypse.

My guess on why this snares the smartest ones, is that no one talks about it in public (though there’s a congressman trying to.)

And like the idiots on the left — Hello, Occasional Cortex! — they have only a vague understanding of how money works. I mean, on a macro scale.

The left thinks money comes from the excretory organs of government (and they’re not all wrong) and that it can be printed infinitely with no consequences (they are wrong there, but they don’t know how or why.)  And the right thinks “OMG, debt is mounting, we’re all going to die.”

I’m not sure about the exact mechanism of that death, but Weimar Republic is mentioned everywhere, as is the “the EBT cards will stop working and the hordes of inner city dispossessed will take over the country side” which is bullshit and an actual version of racist panic on the right. (Look, guys, the dependent hordes will trash their neighborhoods. That’s what they do. And someone will come and feed them. Because that’s what Americans do. And they won’t be grateful at all, until they figure out unlike welfare, it won’t last forever and comes with standards. Different standards.)  There are other things like “Government will shut down.” (if only) and undefined “there will be war.”

I’m still at a loss for how that group translated to “we’re all gonna die screaming.” Except that they have no experience of instability and financial disaster. I understand that. Most Americans don’t. Stagnaflation is the worst thing Americans in my generation experienced.

And how money works in a fiat currency makes no sense to anyone. (Because it makes no sense, which, yes, means there’s a reckoning coming.) And our debt TRULY is out of control. (Which is another issue.)

Well, pull up a rock and make yourselves comfortable. What if the economy crashes?  What if our money is worth nothing? What if? Are things I can answer to.  You see, I come from a Mediterranean country (not in geography, but in culture.) Which means I’m used to governments that run their purses like high school kids with an unending spending account and addicted to meth.

I’ve seen crashes. I’ve heard of crashes from grandma. NONE OF THEM KILLED A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE POPULATION.

I won’t say it didn’t kill any. Unemployment, despair and lack of medical care kill people.  but I’ll say you don’t die screaming that way. Hell, we have so much accumulated wealth it will get uncomfortable, but that’s about it. About like the economy under Obama. (And please, media, telling us we’ve been in an expansion since 09? Maybe you fool yourselves, but the rest of us cut back and cut back and cut back until 17. And we haven’t recovered fully yet.)

Okay, first of all let me talk about fiat currency.

I don’t understand it. No one does.  I’m not a gold bug, but “this is money because the government says so” sits about as well as you’d imagine with me, because “government” and “having power over every trade in this nation” doesn’t sit well with me.

Plus I first came to the US (for a year. I went back) during stagnaflation and I lived through the Obama years. I know what the government running the printing presses overtime does to an economy. It devalues saving. It makes any forward planning unstable.  But, oh, yeah, it DOES put money in the pockets of the very rich. Which I’d guess is what matters, because every politician ends up knowing a lot of very rich people (like every SF writer ends up knowing a ton of scientists.)

Also fiat currency was introduced PRECISELY to let the government have power over money. (Yeah, I know, Gold was limiting expansion or some similar nonsense. But no. Like all currency-voodoo attempted to end depressions or recessions, it wasn’t fiat currency that ended the Great Depression. It was FDR getting so interested by WWII that he took his hands off  from around the economy’s neck and stopped trying to strangle it.)

Anyway, the problem is that we handed government a blank check, with what they believe is an ever-refilling account.  And they’ve been out of control ever since.

Yeah, Trump might not think the debt is a problem. But let’s face it, even if he lies awake nights, staring at the ceiling, (and btw knowing the debt MUST be curbed before money is valueless MIGHT be one of his incentives to have run for president. Who knows?) he couldn’t do anything different. He just couldn’t. What is he going to do? Stop social security? Not only would that give UNENDING footage of starving grandmas for the dem’s campaign, but it would also cause real starvation. I know seniors dependent on it for survival.

What else would you want him to stop? The military budget isn’t that much. And we can’t afford to cut it, as you’ll see later on.

Almost everything else is either photogenic, or the left will tie it to things like social security if he cuts money. Remember the ass-clowns obeying Obama’s orders to make the shutdown painful to tourists in monuments and landmarks?  And the problem is while they hold the media, and a portion of (older) people get their news that way, what else can the president do?

He can’t even tell the truth: that a very significant portion of our welfare money goes to illegal immigrants (it’s true. I know health care workers, teachers and social workers of various kinds) without it lending itself to “racist” panics on the left.

So, yeah, national debt is out of control.

And it’s fiat currency, which ultimately means “full faith and credit of the US government.”  Which I’d guess is smaller every day.

But here’s the thing the rest of you aren’t thinking about: the rest of the world is in as bad or worse shape.  China is all smoke and mirrors. Yes, they’ve made a bid to become the world’s reserve currency. The fact it failed tells you even Europeans aren’t that crazy.  As for Europe, ah! They’ve been turning the Southern European countries into touristic paradises, while the northern European countries finance the whole thing. There is no room there for real growth. It’s all selling each other rocks and paying in sand. Even before the Northern European countries brought in a hostile and welfare-dependent population.

So, who else has full faith and credit? more than the US?

No one. It’s all that scene in Independence day where everyone goes “it’s about time the Americans did something.”

They won’t say out loud, of course. In the rest of the world it’s a positional good to look down on America, and hate America. But internally, they’re all holding their breaths, hoping we pull it off.

The fact that there’s no one else to take this burden, is why we’ve been allowed to run on crazy debt this far.  Because, where are they going to go?

Sure, we have sold a bunch of LAND to China and given a bunch of things as “security.” But if you think China is going to invade to claim it, you are out of your mind. Remember what I said above about not shorting the military? The US still can outshoot everyone in the world. Probably en masse. No one will touch us. Also, honestly,China has other problems, including most of their economy being smoke and mirrors.

And there’s only two ways out of that debt.  Three, if you want to be technical.

1- Expand so much that your tax intake dwarfs the debt.
I think this is what Trump is trying. First of all, because it’s what a company would do and that’s where his experience is.  Second because it’s the least painful one.  It’s not good, though, because it keeps feeding the beast. And even if we manage this (it would take a miracle, but it’s technically possible) it just means government will expand to consume it.

Is it doable? It is, barely.  I think that’s part of the tariff thing, trying to force industry back into the US.  Why? Because the only way we survive this is to have the ability to make pretty much everything we need.

Because I think China crashes first.

BUT keep in mind that while this is barely possible, it might NOT be possible in a republic with stupid-ass regulations about minimum ages and maximum work hours, and other such.  Automation would have to get REALLY good to get us out of this IN TIME without getting rid of a lot of crap regulations.

AND we need some kind of killer-innovation.  Now the US throws those out so regularly you could be forgiven for counting on them, but it’s not guaranteed.

Status, iffy.

2- inflate the debt out of existence.  This is what Carter tried. This is what I’ve lived through SEVERAL times.  This is why until recently ALL of my birth family’s investments were in land and houses, though the return sucks. My guess is if we elect a democrat that’s where we’re going next. It won’t be pretty. And yep, seniors and people in my age group most affected, because we don’t have the time to recover.

Which brings us to “it’s going to be Weimar! We’re all going to die.”

Kids, please.  Weimar came about because Germany had lost a war. They weren’t allowed to expand their economy. They couldn’t. For one, they’d never got that — then vital — warm water port. And England had taken all the markets for industrial production.  And they had creditors who demanded payment NOW for WWI destruction (which was unfair, yes.)

So, Germany did the only thing it could. It shot its way out of the problem. (Repulsive ideology not necessary, but included.)  AFTER trying inflation.  Inflation, ultimately immiserates the population. Also, if we start inflating, we’re going to make the rest of the world hell.

Will it work? Probably. But it will work at the cost of throwing us into Obama years plus. And destroying the rest of the world that has been trading with dollars.  Which will probably mean WWIII.

In the end we survive. We won’t be the same, but we survive. The problem is evil ideologies often come along for the ride on this one.  And that the same people who want to inflate our currency out of value will also demand we feed the world.  The backlash on that will be… spectacular, and probably the worst of the possible outcomes.

Most people still won’t die of it. Private charity will operate. One or two generations will live very tightly but not as tightly as our 19th century ancestors did.

“We’ll be poor” is not the same as “we’ll die.”

And much as I don’t want to spend my elderly years in horrible poverty, hell, I’ve seen people live in it in the village. And some found meaning and beauty in it.

3- We default.  We straight up tell the world “Come and take it.”

No, not good. As above, the world is thrown into turmoil. They die in vast numbers.  A world war will ensue. Yeah, nuclear weapons, but we’ve learned they’re not as terrible as we were told throughout the cold war.

Yes, the most people die under this scenario. And the world that emerges is very different.

The US has the biggest army. We have the wealthiest population. Most of the people will survive, particularly the young ones.

They’ll just eat live frogs. Metaphorically. But it probably won’t be any worse than the WWI generation, or the WWII generation.

And people who believe in our founding ideals will have to work like hell to make sure we’re still a constitutional republic at the end.

The thing is, that third scenario is ALMOST unimaginable. Almost. Because if it were going to happen, it would already have happened.

So, why hasn’t it happened.  Because the other countries can’t AFFORD to collect from us. Because they know how it will end.

In fact, our debtpocalypse is holding a gun to THE WORLD’S head.

Until and unless a stable regime with strong economics (which would mean non-Marxist, which would mean it’s almost impossible, since everyone educated in the last 50 years has absorbed Marxism through their skin) exists that can take the weight of the world’s fiat?  No one is going to try to collect our debt.

Like the first one, this means it’s very bad for us.

Which brings us to: What can’t go on, won’t.

And this won’t go on.  And yes, the end crash could come quickly, but my guess is it will be 20 or 30 years, meaning most of the working life of young people now.

Or we could get in a 2008 situation by October next year. And then get the democrats in trying voodoo sh*t.

It doesn’t matter. EVEN IN THE WORST POSSIBLE SITUATION, most of the US will survive.  It will suck for older people, but the young… well, will have to be poor.

Most of them are actually not the pampered snow flakes people think they are. They’ll adapt. They’ll grow. And yeah, their kids (poisonous feminism will shed off, with other luxuries) will be stronger.  And if some of us keep the faith, it’s possible the Republic will return.

Not guaranteed, no. Nothing is guaranteed.

If I had to guess, if it comes early, before 20 or 30 years, it will be the 2008 crisis writ large.  And again, it will hurt the rest of the world worse than it hurts us.

And part of it will just facilitate the transition AWAY from the mass-production era, to the individual-production era.

No matter how we get out of it.

Yeah, the transition period will suck. But we’re Americans. We survive.

It will particularly suck if you’re dependent on government/big corporation services or employment.

So, now is the time. Build under, build over, build around.  Get ready to take care of yourself and others when it crashes.

And don’t lose sight of the fact change doesn’t mean “the end of everything.”  Poor isn’t the same as dead. And creativity, independence and preparedness pay off.

Just in case money isn’t worth much, acquire as diverse a set of skills as you can, the sort that are always needed.

And be not afraid.  In the end we win, they lose.

Yeah, some people will die, screaming.  Let’s make it neither a majority nor even a significant portion.

We can.




361 thoughts on “The Coming Debtpocalypse

  1. Yeah. “Oh, we are all going to die, it is so risky that I am screwed whatever, so why do stuff” is a great mindset for ruining one’s life. Ask me how I know.

    As an aside, a ways back I sent you an email to perhaps forward to second son. About the job search process. This was 6/26. I think you were busy shortly thereafter, and afterwards until recently I was accessing through a network I didn’t feel comfortable posting from with this handle.

    1. Yeah, I once was asked by a Jehovah’s Witness, “Did you know the world will come to an end in 20 years?” I replied, “No, but I know I’m going to die.” That’s the part that matters to me, duh. As my wife says, if we all go together, it just means the line to St. Peter are longer.

      1. Both should be prepared for. After all, you should live a will in event of your death, but the End of World requires that you not put off your charitable expenditure until the will, because then it may all dissolve into nothingness.

          1. Yes, and if you do not think “the future is uncertain, and if I do not give donations NOW, they may never be given,” you have not thought, but thoughtlessness.

      2. Once upon a time (1985 or so) one was stunned at the response “Aren’t you concerned about the end of the world?” They were NOT expecting the reply, “No. Your book says things get a lot better after that.”

  2. The Debt Star is unstoppable, growing in mass daily. It will crush all in its path, reducing the economies of the world to dust, devoured by the insatiable maw of its massive gravitational sinkhole.

    We are doomed, I tell you, doomed, Doooooooooooomed!

    1. Don’t be too proud of this financial terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy an economy is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

  3. We’re in completely unknown territory, with this. I wouldn’t predict this afternoon, let alone tomorrow–There is really no historical precedent for the situation that the US and the rest of the world is in, right now.

    The demographic trap that China is in, the situation with regards to everyone else around the world for demographics…? It’s nuts; unprecedented. Japan and Germany, both powerful regional economies are in demographic free-fall for their native ethnicities. Where does that end, do you suppose? Has this happened before? Is there a historical precedent? Not that I’m aware of, not like this.

    My guess is that we’re in for an interesting time, going forward. This epidemic that’s wiping out the Chinese pork industry, right now? That’s scary as hell, because that’s where China gets most of its pork. It’s also scary as hell because of how close pigs are to humans, in immunological terms, and when you consider that flu has been jumping back-and-forth between pigs, ducks, and people in China for millenia. Their agricultural practices almost guarantee issues, so if this swine Ebola jumps hosts? Sweet hell, but that’s going to be rough. If the Chinese don’t stay on top of it, that could not just wipe out their protein-source agriculture, it could wipe out the Chinese themselves. Not to mention, the rest of us.

    Unfortunately, ain’t nobody watching that particular barn door. Likely, the first warning we’re going to get about that swine fever jumping to humans is going to be when the first cases show up in the overseas Chinese enclaves like Vancouver, BC. You’re sure as hell not going to hear about it from the Chinese…

    Interesting times, interesting times… I’m actually only mildly concerned about the debt issue, TBH–There are other nearer-term catastrophes to be concerned about, and when you get down to it, the crash of the debt might actually be a good thing in some ways, as it will do what it always has, and clear away forests of economic deadwood that we’ve let build up like so much economic forest fire fuel. It might also serve as a salutary lesson to our elites, about the dangers of debt and all the rest.

    The thing you have to remember is that the economy is actually a game we play with each other; there’s no inherent value to a fiat currency or gold, it’s all just a marker for what we are willing to say it is. If you were in a gold-based economy, it could be crashed tomorrow by someone going out and grabbing an asteroid or two and moving them into near-Earth orbit for exploitation. We’d probably already have seen that, were we still on a gold standard–How better to crash the West’s economy, if you were Soviets with a space program? Doesn’t matter what it is, the whole thing is a game. Fiat currency is just as real as a gold-backed one, and gold is just as imaginary as fiat, when you get down to it.

    Hell, you don’t even need asteroid mining–Suppose someone figures out how to extract gold from seawater, or cheap microbes to dump on old mine tailings? There’s enough gold out there in those old dumps to cause severe problems, if someone were to figure out how to extract it cheaply enough.

    In short, it’s all imaginary, all the time. The resources were still there, during the Depression; it was just that the game got a lousy DM, and he munged everything up.

    1. there’s no inherent value to a fiat currency or gold, it’s all just a marker for what we are willing to say it is. If you were in a gold-based economy, it could be crashed tomorrow by someone going out and grabbing an asteroid or two and moving them into near-Earth orbit for exploitation.

      e.g. The monetary inflation and subsequence collapse of the Ming Empire caused by Spanish exploitation of Peruvian silver mines in the 1500s.

      1. Or, the effects on the European economies due to all the gold coming in…

        There are reasons that economics are referred to as “the dismal science”, which mostly stem from the interaction of rational market effects with irrational people.

        It’s all chaos, all the way down. Only real answer is to learn how to dance with it, and try to stay out of the way of falling anvils, like Chinese Swine Fever.

        I think there has to be a certain degree of panic in China, right now: The Hong Kong thing, the swine fever, and they’re cutting US imports of agricultural goods? How’s that going to work, again?

        Irony is, what’s done this to them is their own sloppy agricultural practices, the poor permeability of information in their society, and an inattention to what is going on with transmissive disease in their environment. I’m figuring it’s about an over/under of a day or so before we start hearing how the US CIA or someone is behind the Swine Fever, and it’s all Trump’s fault…

        I really feel sorry for the Chinese people, given the governance they’re under. The CCP is about as competent as the Soviets were, in some important regards. The effects of their mismanagement are about to be felt, and felt hard.

        Of course, our own set of idiots are setting us up to suffer similarly, but with the more-or-less open nature of our society, the facts surrounding the disease issue aren’t going to be hidden.

        I wonder if someone can chime in here about the chances for this swine fever jumping hosts in the near term?

        Ah, well… It’s like you’re watching the crazy neighbor’s house catch afire, and they’re standing guard over it with guns, and refusing to let the fire department in. God help the Chinese people, but I think they’re in for some very rough times. I wish them the best of luck. The CCP, not so much–I think this may be the moment when they lose the “Mandate of Heaven”. So many things going wrong at the moment, I think they’re almost certain to lose their grasp on things, and overreact.

        1. The disease has been endemic for many decades in Africa – and not crossed the barrier. It has also cropped up in smaller outbreaks in Europe and Russia in years past. So I would not be overly worried about that.

          So far, it has not been seen in the Western Hemisphere, fortunately – although it would simply raise prices (on all meats) for about a year. The system here, and in most Western nations, is to aggressively attack any disease (whether it is hoof and mouth, anthrax, etc. in animals, or a grain blight)*. This is not the case in China.

          * Note, this is one reason I do not object to subsidizing low-cost agricultural insurance. Farmers are far more willing here to kill off an entire herd, or burn out / plow under many acres, in order to make sure the disease does not spread. In Red China, such actions are likely to bring punishment for not meeting the expected production levels – so the local farmer waits until it is far too late.

          1. African pig farming is not anywhere near as tightly interwoven with human and avian biomes as the Chinese are, from what I remember. The fact that it hasn’t jumped hosts in Africa may not hold true under Chinese conditions.

            Or, so I’ve gathered from the available sources. The biological question, I suppose, is whether or not the basic biology of that disease is compatible with a human host.

            1. *coughs gently* From what I hear, it’s just as, and far more so. Peter has some “interesting” stories about going to villages where a feast was held in his honour. This often involved slaughtering a pig, and dumping it in a pot of hopefully – boiling African river water, still bleeding out and all the mud, hair, and hooves on. At which point, it was hauled partially out, diembowled, and the uncooked, uncleaned entrails offered as the choice meat for the guest of honour… which would rapidly become deadly insult at assegai-point to refuse.

              As he put it, “You start taking anti-malarial two weeks before you go out, and cipro at least 3, often 5 days before going in the bush, take it all the way through, and keep a large stock of pepto bismol and ammodium AD on hand. And even then, it only does so much…”

              In the USA, we treat a sick animal until it’s well, and have very strict rules about how much antibiotic or medication can be given and the meat still be saleable. In the rest of the world, it’s standard practice to slaughter the sick animal first so your stock stays healthy, and eat the sick one.

          2. Also, the typical American hog producer uses indoor barns for both sows and feeder pigs — so they’re not exposed to random hogs under uncontrolled conditions. The more-modern hog barns are run practically like hospitals; you scrub and suit up before you enter the barns.

        2. Economics is a dismal science because it insists that there will always be constraints, that our dreamt of Society of Abundance (Star Trek’s replicator fantasy) will be forever out of our reach.

          There will always be unequal distribution of wealth, and the people complaining most about it will generally be those least willing to do what is requisite to gain it. And there will always be those who promise, for a small fee, to redress that inequality.

          Those, like Joseph in the Bible, who learn to anticipate uneven availability of resources can indeed learn to “dance” with it, to mitigate the harms and even to prosper.

          Those who imagine that careful planning and management can prevent these cycles usually merely delay and thus exacerbate the damage — but can, if they talk fast, escape responsibility for the disasters.

      2. New World wealth pouring in was the root cause of the 30 Years War. Hapsburg Spain and Austria thought that the massive influx of wealth from Central and South America would be sufficient that they could purchase enough services of mercenaries to conquer all of continental Europe.

        Instead they plunged the continent into a three decade war that killed 75% of Bohemians and a quarter to a third of all German speakers and created cultural baggage felt right into WWII. And a war that produced some of the worst atrocities Europeans ever committed toward each other.

        However, at the end of the war, the Treaty of Westphalia was signed, and it could be said that doing so put Europe on a much, much better course at least until the rise of Napoleon six or seven generations later.

    2. It doesn’t have to be gold. It just has to be something that is in limited-enough supply that it can’t easily be expanded. Gold doesn’t have much practical use.

      “Common sense” seems rare enough, but it’s hard to quantify.

      There have been a bunch of systems in SF; my favorite was in Tim Powers’ “Dinner at Deviant’s Palace.” The post-apocalyptic government had reserved manufacture of distilled spirits to itself, and kept the unit value too low to make it worthwhile to bootleg your own. And unlike most money, you could get drunk on it if you wanted to…

      1. When I read that, I had to wonder if the author had any idea about how the Tsar’s of Russia financed their empire, and the follow-on effects…

        It’s all a game, all the way down. The only reason gold has value is because everyone agrees that it does; agreement ceases, then… What?

        I don’t think we’re ever going to overcome the need for an exchange medium, but the question is, how to make it work best for the most people? The current system has dragged more people out of poverty and nastiness than anything else in history, but it’s also got its own nasty little problems. How do you minimize all the bad things, and maximize the good?

        I think we’ll be struggling with this until our species goes extinct, or transitions to the post-human condition, whatever that might be.

        1. In my opinion, most of the problems with our current system is the Fed’s mandate to maintain full employment. There are lots of reasons for unemployment to go up, not all of them have anything to do with the money supply. So you get a burst if inflation during every recession that usually isn’t fully clawed back during the recovery (Trump’s a perfect example of why this happens. If your economy is booming only because interest rates are very low, your economy isn’t actually booming).

          I think we could solve a lot of problems by replacing the Fed’s mandate with a set inflation band. I think that a small and steady inflation rate is a good thing for the economy, so I’d set it between 1% and 3% (you could use -1% to 1%). If inflation gets too low, the Fed cuts rates to increase the money supply. If inflation gets too high, the Fed raises rates. If inflation is in the band, the Fed does nothing.

          1. The best inflation rate is zero- period. Any inflation at all eventually leads to currency devaluation as too many zeros get piled on at the end.

            1. Not really. Gold bugs like to point out that the Dollar has lost 97% of it’s value over the last century, but that doesn’t really matter because nobody is buying anything with 1919 dollars. In fact, that’s the advantage to having inflation. It imposes a cost on those who would hoard money in the back yard or under the mattress.

              1. Inflation is a TAX. It is in fact the only tax that -everyone- pays. That’s why governments love inflation, and why they started doing it deliberately in the 1930s.

                Deflation is a BENEFIT. That is why governments the world over are terrified of it.

                  1. Apologies, but my rant button has been pushed.

                    Ultimately inflation is a benefit to the person who prints the money. They hold the largest debt, they pay it off with inflated, de-valued currency. That’s the actual purpose of inflation, reducing the cost of government borrowing. Spend now, and NEVER pay back. It punishes savings and steals the substance of the populace silently. The only way to get ahead is to purchase an appreciating asset, which these days is down to real estate. If you’re not on the real estate ladder, you are screwed.

                    By contrast, DE- flation, aka increasing the value of currency, benefits everyone who holds currency. It rewards savings, and punishes borrowing. You can get ahead without mortgaging your life to a house that costs a hundred times what its worth. On the other hand, government balance sheets get crushed.

                    Somebody explain to me how a government shackled to fiscal prudence by its own debt, at this point in history, would be a bad thing.

                    We’ve lived in an inflationary environment so long that the very idea of working and saving is hilarious. People are living in debt slavery to million dollar houses with 50 year mortgages, barely scraping by and petrified something bad will happen.

                    I’m sick of it. I want to see government shrink and us grow, just for a change. The novelty alone would be worth it, I think.

                    1. People are living in debt slavery to million dollar houses with 50 year mortgages, barely scraping by and petrified something bad will happen.

                      And whose fault is that, exactly?
                      It’s exactly the same sort of thing as student loans. Don’t buy what you can’t pay for. Not hard.

                    2. “It’s exactly the same sort of thing as student loans. Don’t buy what you can’t pay for.”

                      Its cold in Canada. You need a house. There’s a limit to how far you can drive every day as a commute.


                      In the middle of this tear-jerker Grauniad article is an interesting datum. There are a -lot- of contractors and other working people living out of their cars in Big City California. They stay in town all week sleeping in their car/van/bus, then go home to their house on the weekends. THOUSANDS of them. Because the cheapest house there is in Big City sells for over a million bucks. But they have to work, and there’s no WORK where they live, in the cheaper houses that are 200 miles away.

                      Difference between Canada and California is mostly weather. Regulatory and tax is probably worse here. The reason Toronto isn’t filled with only-go-home-on-the-weekend car dwelling commuters is winter.

                  2. Creditors … rhymes with predators, eh? en. Warren says they suck, and as a Harvard professor and Amerindian princess she would know.

                    Besides, creditors are usually joooze, so who cares if they lose!

                1. Deflation isn’t a benefit if you hold debt. It’s also extremely dangerous for an economy since it tends to be self-reinforcing, eventually starving the economy of trade media.

                  1. Yes, clearly. Not desirable for lending institutions and governments. They love inflation.

                    But for individuals? In an era of vastly bloated government that takes 45% of the average family income (and more than half of the above-average income) anything that starves the monster of money is a positive force and benefits the individual. The invisible tax moves -against- government, and forces money back into the hands of people.

                    Yes, it would mean it would harder to get a loan or a mortgage. But, if you don’t pay half your income in tax, and your savings don’t wash away at 4% per year, and a frigging house doesn’t cost a million bucks… do you -need- a loan? Probably not.

                    1. That’s not how it works. Deflation benefits those who have money at the expense of those who buy things, which means that people will buy fewer things to hold onto money, making the deflation worse. And the government isn’t going to cut back on buying votes with public money, they’ll just pass the costs on like they do today.

              2. I think you missed the point where one man’s hoard is another family’s life savings. Your claimed “advantage” isn’t really. And it’s a perfect illustration to kids why saving is a losing venture.

                  1. Explain the functional difference between “hoarding and saving.”

                    I suspect that it’s no more than an irregularity in the verb to save. I save, you hoard, he/she/it wrecks the economy, they wreck the economy.

                    1. Hoarding hides money from the economy. Saving pools money to return to the economy.

      2. “Gold doesn’t have much practical use.”
        Oh contraire!
        It has a lot of practical uses in electronics (especially computers), medicine, aerospace, cooking. The problem is it’s too rare and expensive for mass use. Bring in a 300 foot diameter asteroid of pure gold and while the price would plunge, usage would soar.

          1. Having handled both gold and copper wire (my Lady was a journeyman level jeweler for a while, before the attendant dust started giving her breathing problems), I suspect we’s still be using a good deal of copper.

            But what do I know?

            1. The electrical engineer who told me that said that it was due to the corrosion resistance of gold… Also, that was just his opinion. Looking at the tables, now, I’m suddenly wondering if he knew what he was talking about–Gold had lower conductivity and higher resistivity than copper.

              It could also be that I’m misremembering what he said, and he was talking about silver, for which this might be accurate–Silver is better than copper.

              1. We used to use a lot of gold in the semiconductor industry. It doesn’t conduct electricity as well as copper, but it has several other good characteristics.

                It’s pretty much corrosion resistant. Aqua Regia (nitric and hydrochloric acid) will attack it, but that’s pretty much it.
                It plates well on a variety of base metals. (IC leadframes use various materials, but there’s most likely a spot of gold where wires have to connect.
                The wire is ductile and can be thermally bonded to aluminum in integrated circuits (not without care; “Purple plague” caused many headaches over the years).
                It’s Good Enough in conduction.

                When I started at HP in the late 1970s, they were just getting away from gold plating all their leadframes (for in-house ICs) and switches. When I left in ’01, it was spot gold where it needed to be, but a thin layer of gold solved a *lot* of problems.

              2. Silver conducts electricity better than copper, but its corrosion/oxidation resistance is poor. It was used a bit in semicounductors (silver-filled epoxy for attaching dice to (occasionally silver plated) leadframes.

                1. Silver oxidation is due to sulfur in the air. Before the large scale use of coal came about- silver tarnishing was virtually unknown. Silver wire was common when I was kid- easier to solder together than copper.

                  Gold, for some reason, is used in superconductor matrices. Works better than silver there….

              3. Yes, silver is #1 (in bulk conductivity), followed by copper at #2, and gold is (IIRC) #3.

                And silver has been used as electrical wire on a large scale, at least once before in the 1940s.
                The Manhattan Project (really Manhattan Engineer District) had, among several other isotope-seprating machines, “calutrons” which were besically industrial-scale mass spectrometers. Low in throughput but high in selectivity, they worked best to upgrade previously-enriched uranium. (Especially if you used secretaries not scientists as operators, *they* really did “Just Follow The Directions”!)

                But you needed big, powerful magnets to bend the path of the ionized material (less for the heavier isotopes) — which meant you needed tons and tons of magnet wire. And copper was a very high war priority, needed for cartridge cases and alloys and… on and on and on. The Project had top priority, but using it would literally have meant starving otherr critical war needs.

                So someone suggested making the magnet wire out of silver, loaned from the Treasury Department’s stockpiles; it could be sitting there as a calutron magnet winding instead of bars in a vault, and still act just as well as currency reserve. So they did. And when the war was over the wire got melted back down into more conventional silver bullion again.

                The only thing the Treasury Department demanded was that they ask for the loan of the silver in millions of troy ounces, not in thousands of (avoirdupois short) tons…

                1. I’m not sure I’ve heard that before, but it makes sense. FWIW, the mas-spec was one of three(?) separate ways developed in the Manhattan project to separate isotopes. Centrifuge(*) and gaseous diffusion were the others.

                  (*) Not sure on centrifuge; may not have been put in production at that time.

                  1. EXXON was still working on improving the gaseous diffusion method back in the early 1970s. Which was a good thing as it kept my father employed for 5 years. Although I do have to wonder if his various cancers were related to exposures. He never did tell me if he was exposed to their uranium-hexafluoride leak. Which he probably wasn’t as that stuff is nearly as corrosive as aqua regia. I remember handling a slug of Americium he brought home that they used for calibrating test equipment. Fortunately it’s an alpha particle emitter, I didn’t handle it long, and washed my hands afterwards. Just don’t ingest or inhale it!

                2. I didn’t know that one. I guess it gets overshadowed by Groves having Fort Knox ship them gold to use as radiation shielding when the War Resources Board was begging for lead.

                  The gold worked just fine for shielding… Feynman mentioned that people were using gold bars for doorstops and paperweights. Makes me wonder whether Fort Knox got all of their gold back…

              4. If memory serves we do use trace amounts of gold in computers, but only for electrical contacts because that’s where the worst of the corrosion happens. I think silver is the best for everything that isn’t corrosion-prone, but it’s too rare for general use.

                I wouldn’t be surprised if silver is used in a few devices where speed is absolutely paramount, though. And if we can get a few asteroids full of the stuff to mine…

                1. IC die attach uses epoxy, and if it’s necessary that the back of the die be electrically connected to the leadframe, it’ll be silver-filled epoxy. At one time (no idea on current technology) silver was used for LED leadframes, much like gold was for silicon ICs.

    3. “It might also serve as a salutary lesson to our elites, about the dangers of debt and all the rest.”

      I’m afraid that’s a vain hope, Kirk. Our elites have proven themselves incapable of learning from the past. Even if they’ve ever studied it; they just don’t understand the lessons and hence, can’t apply them to any situation. Kind of like autistic kids not being able to apply a general solution to problems because they see each solution as completely unique and unrelated to anything else. They’re not a cow; it’s Jane, Bessy, Spot, Brownie, Hillary, etc., all different. (Yes, I just had to name a cow, Hillary. Sue me.)

      1. Hey, Mike… Leave me my illusions, please. They’re all I have, at this point…

        Frankly, I’m coming around to think that there’s a ton of effective large-scale autism going on in most of our institutions, and things like this are exactly why. The folks we keep elevating and giving power to are effectively doing a lot of the same things that autistic kids do, and they’re doing them in concert, as a group. They’re all smart as individuals, but you put them into a collective, and what do you get…? Results you can’t tell from the ones you’d get if you put an autistic kid in charge.

        You have to wonder, sometimes, if there’s not an overall group psychology effect going on, where you have people who test “normal” as individuals, but when you put those specific people into contact with similar people, give them authority, and let them run things? The collective is, in effect and action, nearly indistinguishable from the individual autist.

        1. You, sir, really should read THE RABBLE ROUSERS by Eric Frank Russell. It was only published once, by Regency Books. Regency was the price Harlan Ellison agreed to take to edit somebody’s line of exploitation paperbacks.

          The book fluctuates between high teens and mid thirties in $, but last time I looked you could get it through interlinrary loan, too. Brutally funny, and includes a narrative if the Dreyfus Case that inspired me to find a good translation of ‘J’accuse’.

          1. You mentioned that one before, and I’ve kept an eye out for a reasonably priced copy. I’m surprised it’s not up on…

            1. Last time it got mentioned, I went off and searched the usual suspects, and found a nice clean copy for under ten bucks. Haven’t remembered to read it yet, but was amused to note the publisher’s tagline opposite the title page reads: “Regency Books Mean Controversy”.

              Right now there are about a dozen copies available, starting at $14.

              1. A while back I sent a copy off to a business called Blue Leaf that does book scanning, and had an eBook made of it. Had I the money, I would try to buy the rights from Russell’s estate (*sigh*, one of MANY books I’d like to do that with. High on my ‘if I won the lottery list*).

                I’m unsure of the legality of doing anything other than converting for my own use, from a copy belonging to me, but the service is pretty OK. There are failures of OCR, but they are minor and the results are wholly readable.

                Costs about $30, and destroys the copy you send, so don’t do it with beloved individual copies.

                *”Misha, Misha, meet Me halfway! Buy a ticket!”

        2. Years ago I read a book where one of the characters, a high-ranking political type, told the other something like “People like to think of the government as a giant brain with a hundred hands, manipulating and meddling to further its own ends. But the reality is that government is a giant fist with a hundred brains. It can crush anything that the minds agree to destroy, but most of the time it’s either paralyzed or flailing about randomly.”

          1. From my POV it’s more like this;

            Too many people think of Government as an infinite tool box, full of the right tool for every problem. Instead, Government is a huge spiked mace. Excellent at brute force, not so much for anything fiddly. Got an outbreak of murderous Fascism in Europe? Call for the government. Want a superhighway blasted through the Rockies? Government might be an OK choice.

            Keep it as far away from Healthcare as possible.

      2. Let us be just. The chief thing we learn from history is how people don’t learn from history.

        1. The chief thing we learn from History is that people learn from history only what they are looking for…or if they are VERY smart, what is bleeding obvious that is in front of their noses.

    4. ” It’s nuts; unprecedented. Japan and Germany, both powerful regional economies are in demographic free-fall for their native ethnicities. Where does that end, do you suppose? Has this happened before? Is there a historical precedent? Not that I’m aware of, not like this.”

      Isn’t there a loose parallel with the Roman Empire prior to its fall in the 400 ADs, importing “barbarian” soldiers? That’s what Germany has tried to do, to make up the difference of demographic free-fall with “refugees” and “guest workers.”

      1. I stand to be corrected by our host, but Rome’s problems were three-fold; plague, economic side-effect of the plagues, and climatic changes going on as they slit down from the Roman Climactic Optimum. Which also drove the movements of those “barbarian tribes”.

        Rome did not, from my reading and memory, have the issues with culture that the non-elites in Japan and Germany have; I could be wrong, though, and missed that.

        The cultural things in Rome were more about not wanting their kids to serve, hollowing out the yeomanry that their military recruited from, and growing urbanization for non-slave free Romans. Although some of the upper classes were as weird as ours were, I can’t recall any parallel things going on down lower on the social scale, the way we have in Japan and Germany.

          1. It’s been a long time since I did the reading, but wasn’t that mainly due to disease, and not the lack of enthusiasm/malaise we’re seeing in Japan/Germany…?

            I remember someone working out that the elites were experiencing declining fertility, but that the general population was not; not until the disease-related dislocations came in.

            Of course, it might be rather difficult to tease that out of the available data, considering…

            1. No. Their fertility rates were dropping “inexplicably” (I wonder if there’s a mechanism that stops reproduction if life is too easy. Would make sense for a scavenger species.) AND not having kids was more advantageous for getting ahead, anyway, same as now.

              1. I’m having a hard time remembering the details of the reading I did, but I thought that they had run into problems determining the exact cause of the decline…? I vaguely remember something about the skeletons showing a drop in nutrition and food variety at about the same time as the fertility drop, which made it hard to distinguish whether it was voluntary (like our cases today), or just economic hard times stemming from climate and disease?

                  1. I thought the wealthy Roman practice using lead to sweeten wine was implicated via analysis of hair samples of the wealthy.

                    My underlying thought has always been that when Roman upper classes stopped thinking they were above the requirement for sons of citizens to spend time in the Legion out at the frontier, they started their slide.

                    But I’ve also seen it argued that the real start of the decline was a lot earlier, with the failure of Augustus to extend the Imperium into and absorb the German territories. “Quintili Vare, legiones redde!” thus being the cry that signaled the actual beginning of the end.

                    1. correction: My underlying thought has always been that when Roman upper classes began thinking they were above the requirement for sons of citizens to spend time in the Legion out at the frontier, they started their slide.

              2. I seem to recall speculation that one contributing factor was the use of lead pipes in their water systems and lead utensils for cooking and food storage. Heavy metal poisoning is difficult to diagnose without modern medical knowledge and equipment.

                1. Not so much lead pipes, but lead pottery glazes. The rich could afford the good-looking, colorful pottery for tableware. The poor not so much. Lead really makes the glazes come alive. Hence the lunacy of the emperors.

                2. That must have been the same bit I was thinking of. Do you suppose there was a fad for bright yellow pottery glazing? U238 does a great yellow, but for some reason, it’s banned now. 🙂

                  1. Also a very nice orange glaze/glass base. There’s a glass museum in Sandwich Ma that has lots of stuff. But the two most interesting pieces to my taste are a lovely orange vase with a Geiger counter clicking away slowly. The other piece is behind heavier leaded glass. It also has a Geiger counter clicking at it faster (and one scale up if I read the counter right). That’s pointing at a lovely green blue piece of Trinitite…

                  2. While visiting a small town hereabouts, Rhys and I decided to pop into an antique shop, that had these fascinating glass sets, apparently made with some radioactive material that tinted the glass a rather nuclear, luminous green…

              3. I read somewhere that to some extent, one of the problems was not dissimilar to our current population issues in the West: Couples would abort their children / resort to infanticide mostly via exposure, some via sacrificing perhaps, because having children got in the way of ‘living the life’; and supposedly they wouldn’t be able to afford ‘educating the children’ in a level they wanted (so why bother, right? I suspect that was a more ‘politically socially acceptable’ excuse). Careers were also ‘better’ if they didn’t have children (because they had nobody to spend on but themselves), and the use of silphium was supposedly so widespread the plant itself became extinct from overuse.
                It was a problem of about 150 years (?) or so before Emperor Constantine made everyone Christian (and also thereby outlawing infanticide.) Someone HAD noticed that the only people within the Empire actively having population growth were the Christians, who also tended to pick up abandoned Roman babies and raise them alongside their own.

                Or so I read. I don’t think that this was the MAIN crux of the population decline, but it probably had been part of the reasons why.

                1. The upper classes selecting out females had a serious effect, at least until the Christians started saving girl babies when they could. Soon Christians had spare women, and more guys became interested in the group, because, hey! Girls! Rodney Stark’s book about the expansion of Christianity has realistic numbers.

                    1. _The Rise of Christianity_ and _The Triumph of Christianity_. The second one has more numbers and incorporates material from _Rise_.

                2. God has divided mankind into two groups:

                  1. Those who believe that the most powerful biological force is the tendency of a population to be dominated by its most quickly reproducing members. (the Darwinians)

                  2. Those who are actually reproducing. (the non-Darwinians)

              4. Long ago, I read a hypothesis that use of lead in contact with food and beverages helped with a decline in the Romans. If lead use were higher among the upper classes, that could be one of the factors.

                1. Say what you will against lead plumbing, but nobody ever knocked out an intruder with a PVC pipe.

                2. As Flint showed, it depends on the pH of the water. I’d suspect glaze much more; lead used to be extremely common in low-fired (lower temps) pottery pieces. Those would have been considerably easier to produce than the high-fired pieces. If I recall the glaze catalog correctly, there can be really bright colors in the low-fired range that aren’t present in the higher temp ranges.

                  Combine that with acidic contents (wind, vinegar), and you have some nice lead content.

                  1. I’ve always doubted the lead piping because the entire village was on lead piping and back in the 60s everyone was reproducing. And in mom’s day (also lead piping) they were reproducing like bunnies in Spring. 😀

                    1. Minerals in the water (specifically calcium, IIRC) can form a thin coat on the inside of metal pipes. The chemistry of modern water systems are managed to cause and maintain that coating in order to prevent corrosion of metal pipes by the universal solvent (i.e., water) flowing through them.

                    2. And what happened in Flint MI was a bunch of morons switching to a different water source whose properties after treatment removed that coating.

                  2. But RC Pete, we also used and had used since forever lead glaze in pottery. I know that, because the EU banned it, and glaze currently used SCRATCHES damn it.
                    And we used pottery for EVERYTHING from cooking to carrying water when I was a kid and for the last several generations (not much plastics.)
                    That’s some slow-acting lead.

                    1. It’s been a long time since I had to deal with this, but the cautions about lead in glazes were primarily for acidic content, like wine or vinegar. Once the pH is above a certain level (no idea what number), lead is pretty well insoluble. So, for a lot of food storage and prep, no problem with lead glazes.

                      OK, just found an article on this:

                      Noteworthy is the statement that proper firing of the pieces will make the lead much less impervious to leaching. They also say country of origin wasn’t noteworthy except Mexico, which had 50% of their pieces tested going positive for leachable lead.

                    2. you mean like Vinha D’Alho? Which sat in glazed pottery for DAYS?
                      Or well, all Portuguese cookery has wine.
                      And at least the EU thought all of Portugal was leachable lead…

                    3. Sounds like processing quality may be the prime factor for leachabili6ty. Around Y2K, I was hearing horror stories about Mexican improvised kilns (stack ware in an old car, pile wood around it, and set the pile on fire) that don’t give me a warm, fuzzy feeling about how well the glaze would be handled. That article suggested EU countries were running about 10-15% of their pieces with leachable lead.

                      As usual, if made with care, it can be safe. Get sloppy and all hell breaks loose, with the bureaucrats piling on.

                    4. Every once in a while, some American buys a rustic piece of pottery in Mexico then puts it to use to store and serve the family’s orange juice. Typically, the adults show symptoms of senioritis (recurring ‘senior moments’), the teens start acting out as they never did before, and the youngest is rushed to the hospital when the youngest’s hair starts falling out or the youngest turns blue.

                      Acute lead exposure is rare in the US so the emergency department doctors might not diagnose it quickly. But when they do make the diagnosis, the hunt is on for the source of the contamination and the whole family gets tested for blood Pb levels.

        1. I suspect the transition from leaders selected based on merit and achievement to emperors selected for family/political connections might have been a contributing factor. Leaders of the Roman armies had to, at minimum, demonstrated a grasp of logistics.

          Any resemblance to our current straits and the fact that a significant quantity of our elected leaders — Pelosi, Kennedy — are descended from established political dynasties is purely incidental.

    5. Kirk, as to the demographic trap being unprecedented, I point you to the Black Death of the 14th century. European civilization recovered, but it sure weren’t pretty.

      1. Different sort of thing, that… The Black Death wasn’t the same as what we had with regards to the whole set of issues with what we’re going through now. This is voluntary, a cultural thing. The Black Death was involuntary, random.

        It was also not necessarily a trap; the Black Death broke the back of feudal serfdom, and freed up the labor market and put a lot of cash into the hands of the survivors. The survivors of the current situation aren’t inheriting much besides the bills for social welfare regimes they’re not benefiting from, which is also why they’re not reproducing: They can’t afford to.

        Honestly, and it is a horrible thing to say, but I think the Black Death was actually a much better thing for civilization than the current stagnation brought on by the socialist trap. Once you get on that escalator, there’s literally no place for anyone else until you get off at the top, and that means your children are doomed to a tiny slice of the zero-sum game that is the socialist economy, further implying that there won’t be any (or, sufficient numbers thereof…) grandchildren. Europe is a socialist Ponzi scheme, in that the parental generation that starts the trip up the escalator leaves no room for their kids to get on, until way too late in the kid’s lives, so what you have is this demographic rat moving through the socialist snake, on one side of which we have a normal population living normal lives, and on the other, a vast wasteland of “can’t move out of the house, can’t find a full-time job, ‘cos mom and dad have the house and the jobs until they’re 65… Which means that the third generation doesn’t happen, because nobody is starting families until it’s way, way too late. Also, too much fun partying and having a good time with hobbies.

        Socialism, like Communism, is a social theory predicated on not having real humans in the equation. It breaks the links between generations, and vastly damages the children of the first-generation beneficiaries of the ideals, and then culturally cripples them to do anything else. It’s a demographic disaster, over the long haul. You’d need to have a species that reproduced only in its later years, and then promptly dropped dead, in order to make room for the replacement generation. That’s not the human pattern, so the whole idea is basically nuts. Especially when there is zero growth, as we’re starting to see in Europe. They’ve predicated the policies that they have on the idea that the whole thing is a perpetual motion machine, but at the same time, they chopped off the lower rungs of the ladder for the coming generations. Maybe if life expectancies still were around 40, we’d see it working. But, when people are still fit and working at 65-70…? LOL… The inherent problems start showing up. You can’t have a thirty-year pause between adulthood, and your parent’s generation getting out of the way for you to take over their roles in society. That’s just not a workable plan, and that’s what Euro-Socialism has evolved to require. Thus, the birth dearth.

        The whole thing is totally unlike the Black Death, which means that the outcome is unlikely to be as positive a thing.

    6. Thank you for echoing my sentiments on fiat vs. asset-based currencies. IMHO, fiat’s a little better because you don’t spend resources finding the magic currency-backing resource.

    7. It is the first cycle of widespread decadence (r selected?) after the widespread proliferation of cheap, effective birth control. Also, perhaps the 1st time since political entities grew past city states where we had a method for the vast middle class to talk to each other directly without silk robed mandarin gatekeepers controlling it yet.

  4. The biggest problem with “Expand so much that your tax intake dwarfs the debt” isn’t so much as you say, “it keeps feeding the beast.” It’s that the beast reproduces and wants even more than it was consuming before. Just look at this year’s budget. Even though Trump’s budget is higher than last year’s and increases the debt, the progressives aren’t happy with it and want significantly more (25%? iirc.) And I’m all for dropping minimum ages and maximum work hours. Like Dr P used to say, higher education is useless for 20% of the population. I’d go even farther and say that most of high school is useless for that portion of our society. They’d be better off doing technical schools/apprenticeships for infrastructure maintenance and repair.

    1. This is where I think that the European non-Prussian system has a better handle on it, with their “forked” school system instead of the USA forced-equality one-HS-Diploma-fits-all thinking.
      Of course, there are still problems (like with the French, who are reluctant to hire new workers because they are not allowed to fire people, which creates a population of young people who can’t get a job in spite of desire, credentials or training).

      1. I think the fundamental problem is that we think the problem can be reduced to something we can solve with a “system” in the first damn place. Education is too variable a thing, the individuals being educated being unique unto themselves. You need a system that can address each individual on their own terms, and that’s… Not a system.

        When we finally get things like the Khan academy worked out and responsive to each learner’s needs, then we’ll have something that can be tailored to each learner, creating a bespoke solution for each.

        You’re still going to need motivated parents who care about their kid getting an education, though–And, that, my friends, is what we’re in the shortest supply of. Forget teachers, forget big budgets, forget the shiny new facilities: It’s the parents, the families, and the culture of those parents. If they value education, the kid will get educated. If not…? There’s not a damn thing you can do about it. That kid is almost certainly lost, and the ones who aren’t will vanish into the statistical background noise. That’s just the facts of life…

      2. See Sarah’s discussion of the drama around the 9th grade exams to see the downside of that system. Having one’s entire life set by one’s performance on one day in the middle of puberty is…sub-optimal.

        1. One of my friends had measles that day. They wouldn’t rearrange it. So… she wanted to be an elementary school teacher, but they didn’t allow her to go to college.

          1. And now I want to build a time machine just to go back and hit every single adult involved in that decision with a tire iron. Repeatedly.

              1. If you’re going to use percussive maintenance to fix stupid, you can’t stop hitting until all the stupid stops coming out.

          2. This strongly reminds me of the beginning crisis of the main character in the Rich Man’s War/Poor Man’s Fight science fiction novels on Amazon. I liked those.

        2. And that’s one of the reasons we get a lot of international students. If you didn’t make it through the rigorous testing to get into the fixed number of university slots in your country… but your parents have money? Then go to the USA, where you just have to apply money and they’ll let you in!

    2. It occurs to me that the debt is (to employ a metaphor) a tapeworm on the economy, thus growth will only feed the parasite. It is treatable, but the patient must first acknowledge its existence.

      The most effective therapy seems likely to be the deregulatory scheme Trump is trying. It not only reduces impediments to growth but shrinks the administrative state, a two-fer that should pay off yugely in the long term — if allowed to persist.

      1. Heroin. It feels great, it’s bad for you long-term, but cutting off cold turkey can be even more dangerous (not to mention unspeakably painful).

        1. Heroin withdrawal is not dangerous. At all. It’s typically compared to the flu for good reason — though, as Theodore Dalrymple points out, since the flu IS dangerous, it’s also bad in some respects.

          Romancing the Opiates has the details.

  5. that ‘wearing’ leftism makes them smarter, kinder, and probably gives them a better complexion.

    It doesn’t seem so long ago that wearing Protestantism (in the proper style) had that same effect. Okay, some areas were warmer climates and Baptism was the outfit needed to fit in, and a few places called for donning the garb of Latter-Day Saints, but the effect was all the same. It is much like the protective top-coat auto dealerships liked to sell, guaranteed to protect your glossy factory-fresh shine and protect you from the elements.

    1. I recall a time not so very long ago when it was highly unusual for a major political candidate not to have some form of military service in their background. Some of that a legacy from WWII, but in general it was considered a positive accomplishment. These days apparently not so much.

      1. Political candidate? Try office holder. One JFK biographer told of him reviewing the war records of anybody considered for any appointment.

        And dressing down anybody who presumed to make a snarky remark about Douglass MacArthur, whose CMoH citation JFK had studied.

        Still leaves JFK an ass and a failed president, but not a complete ass.

      2. OTOH – consider the effort Dems have made to recruit Iraq War vets, such as Duckworth and Gabbard. They know such persons insulate them against an awful lot of attacks.

        Not that it stops them from sneering at Rep. Crenshaw, of course.

        1. After Crenshaw decloaked on gun control, I sneer at him too.

          He came across as a reasonable guy until that…

      3. Keep in mind that World War 2 involved an incredible amount of manpower. It wasn’t so much that people looked for politicians who served. It was that such a huge percentage served that you had a pretty good chance of any random person having served in the first half of the 1940s.

        1. That, and it raised the question of those who didn’t serve, “everyone else served, why didn’t you?”

          1. Like the coal miners in West Virginia, who were forbidden to quit their jobs in the mines…

            The War Labor Board said it totally wasn’t slavery, and the courts backed them up. Though the 13th amendment would have been against the mine workers anyway.

  6. I’m 65 and as far back as I can remember I’ve heard “America/World is Doomed” screams.

    Guess what?

    None of the Dooms happened.

    In some cases, action happened to prevent the Doom. (Like the Y2K stuff. Most of the News Media stuff was garbage but people like me worked our tails off fixing the real problem.)

    In other cases, like the Coming Ice Age Sarah mentioned, the Dooms were complete nonsense.

    No, there will be problems ahead and good people will work to fix/prevent them but too many Great Dooms are IMO complete nonsense.

    1. Same here – I’ve gotten fairly inured to the “Doom! ALL IS LOST!”
      Like Kirk, I wouldn’t begin to try and predict the exact nature of a looming apocalypse – but my personal plans revolve around trying to avoid any falling anvils …
      I will go as far as to guess that China is gonna be hit by a lot of of them, what with a demographic crash, and an economy that seems to be mostly smoke and mirrors.

      1. I was in China in 2008. A fine country to visit as an American, but just walking around Peking University gives hints about the problems. The girls talk about how the first thing any guy asks them is “Are you single?” The men outnumber the women, quite a bit. I got a glimpse at just how frustrated that could make them one night when one was yelling at the women on the sidewalk while masturbating.

        Walking around off campus, you don’t see even the one kid that was permitted very often, and you see a lot of grey hairs. Every government building had “guards” in army uniforms, but these teenage boys were scrawny and unarmed and couldn’t have stopped any serious belligerent. (I finally understood the Pratchett line about “guards just make a building look finished.”) Chinese society all gilt paint on dryrotten wood, and once the “bare branches” age out of the normal military recruitment ages, what military capacity they have is going to be gone.

        1. There are a lot of kids in the countryside, southern China, Chinese Mongolia, et al. Because country Chinese people had no problem lying to the government, sending the kids to childless relatives, getting them papers that said they were cousins, etc., and did not have quite as much surveillance (or reasonably cheap bribes were taken).

          The government partially seems to take this out on the Tibetans, Uighurs, Christians, Buddhists, et al. Because the minority groups got kids, too.

      2. Truism: It’s never the Apocalypse you see coming. The one which actually occurs is the one straight out of left field, that comes out of the sun and brains you, standing there fat and happy, thinking you’re safe.

    2. Well … the world is doomed. Entropy always wins.

      The problem with the doomsayers is less their predictions — although some are pretty improbable — as their proposed Plan of Action. Many of which can be objectively seen to increase the damage of their foreseen catastrophe and, in some cases, increase its probability.

    3. Yep. Just short of ’63. Doomsday has been right around the corner for as long as I can remember. Ditto the next financial crash … don’t know how many we have survived as a couple … But then we only expend what we think we can afford.

  7. Trying this again… (Verbumtorcula delenda est!)

    I agree that we shouldn’t worry about out and out starvation or Mad Max style inner city gangs roaming the countryside. But people will die in the coming economic crash, because there simply will not be money to pay for the medical treatments they need. We’re already at debt service and entitlement spending taking up 100% of federal revenues, and we haven’t even hit the massively expensive last year of life for the average Baby Boomer. Hoo boy will that get ugly.

    And it will be compounded by the fact that the Income Based Repayment loans will need to be forgiven at that same time. Just when the government needs every penny it can get its hands on, it will be asked to write off hundreds of millions of dollars of bad debt. (Granted those forgiven balances are taxable income, so there’s a chance of getting up to a third of it back. But unlike student loans, tax debts are forgiveable in bankruptcy, so it’s by no means guaranteed.)

    As for gold, please keep buying it. I work at a gold mine, and the higher the price, the longer we can make money by grinding ore to 11 microns for the gold inside it. I would suggest investing in guns and ammunition though if you’re actually concerned about returning to a barter economy or trying to hedge against inflation.

      1. The only thing that can’t be taken from you or lost in one of the recent wave of tragic boating accidents are knowledge and skills. I know people who were very well off in other places, who had to suddenly race out of town in the middle of the night with whatever family they could get ahold of, and did just fine even though they lost all their stuff.

        And I’m not talking about credentials – I’m talking actual practical knowledge and skills.

    1. “or Mad Max style inner city gangs roaming the countryside. “. The gangs are doing a good job of roaming the urban areas right now (look at Chicago and Baltimore for instance). The problem is that in some areas, the gangs are not content to just roam the city; they steal a car to get to the suburbs, steal/carjack more cars in the burbs., maybe do a home invasion or store robbery, or maybe just keep the stolen cars and head back to the city. New Jersey had to set up a special task force in order to stop gang members from Newark and Elizabeth doing this.

      1. Montgomery AL isn’t normally considered an urban area, but my parents and family who live in the area say that pattern of crime has become NORMAL for the nearest bedroom communities, Prattville and Millbrook.

    2. > barter economy

      With smartphones and a secure server/exchange broker, it could be useful.

      Change all your sales and purchases to quatloos on a fixed scale, swap quatloos for other sales and purchases… why, it’s almost like money!

      And it wouldn’t have to depend on “blockchain”…

      1. But again, feel free to keep buying gold. My mine is planning on being profitable for the next 14 years so long as gold stays above $1200/oz, if I recall correctly.

  8. Trump might not think the debt is a problem.

    More likely he believes it is not a problem he can do anything about. It was difficult enough to address when the GOP controlled (for limited values of control) both houses of Congress. Now? In a presidential campaign season marked by a “Hold my beer” competition to offer ever more to an American public conditioned to believe such promises can be kept? With Nancy Pelosi and her Flying Monkeys controlling the tax and appropriations apparatus???

    Trump is spending his presidency attempting to negotiate with the Chines, Iranians and North Koreans because they’re comparatively rational.

    Look, I’m not saying that if Trump came out this evening and called for a ban on all semi-automatic firearms that the Dems would suddenly leap up in defense of the Second Amendment, I’m just saying it wouldn’t surprise me. Trump ignores the Debt for the same reason he ignores Climate Change: there ain’t a damned thing he can actually do about it.

  9. In the rest of the world it’s a positional good to look down on America, and hate America.

    It is also safe.

    Openly hating Putin, China, North Korea or Iran is a good way to get yourself eliminated — assuming they notice. America, OTOH, will apologize for your hating them, and ask how we can make it better for you.

    Hell, even hating Israel carries a price, because they have to take that s[tuff] seriously. But America? This nation is so rich, so secure that we’ll readily drop some nibbles in your pot and never, never, never (well, almost never) kick you for growling at us.

    1. What you say about hating America is true…up to a point. When that point is reached, hell is going for a walk with the sleeves rolled up.

      Then, who knows? Maybe a return of good old fashioned Colonial Paternalism. Compared to what has happened in the Third World in the post-Colonial era, it doesn’t really look that bad….

      1. The problem is more the people here among the leftists who increasingly control the Democratic Party who outright hate the USA and who want to “fundamentally transform” America into Maduro’s Venezuela, Castro’s Cuba, Mao’s China, etc.

  10. I don’t follow how We Default leads to WWIII.

    Again, who is going to start it? Yes, we can’t buy their goodies, but if we did a half-ass job of on-shoring, we wouldn’t really need to. They’ll still need to buy the same stuff (food, from what I understand, is what the world really, really needs from the USA-as in, if they don’t buy it they die), we’ll still have the same military and the same guns as we do right now, and whatever we let them buy food in we can then use to buy what we most want.

    So why would a US Default lead to WWIII? Misery, complaining, finger pointing, condemnation from the UN, sure, but we can deal with all of that anyway. It’s not going to change the current situation that they’d have to invade to foreclose on any real assets, and invading the USA is just not a really great idea–you can only pull it off if you first convince Americans that it’s a right, moral, and just thing to let you do, which is why the current batch is hiding behind children.

        1. This scares the Hell out of me. It’s a potential bloodbath even if none of the participants start chucking nukes at each othef.

        2. The central government hasn’t been in control of the interior for years now. One of those well known by some little known things by most.

      1. The one vital difference between our currency and the Weimar’s that makes our global situation unprecedented is that those marks weren’t the world’s reserve currency and couldn’t be used outside of Germany once they got hyper-inflated. The Allies weren’t accepting them for reparations payments, for instance. This time, if our American dollar gets hyper-inflated Weimar (or Zimbabwe) style, the rest of the world is going to going to get fleeced right along with us.

        1. Hah-ha-ha-hah!!! All those $100 bills the Norks have been counterfeiting will be worthless, worthless!!!

    1. The 2008 financial crisis came about because many banks had mortgage-backed securities as part of their “cash” reserves. When we discovered that the real value of those securities wasn’t anything like what we had assumed those banks saw their reserves drop substantially overnight. As a result, they stopped lending and even called in loans. The resulting loss of credit seized the economy up tighter than a Cash-for-Clunkers engine.

      Now realize that around the world the largest store of cash reserves is in US Treasury bills.

  11. In addressing the problem of America’s Debt it is useful to look at an analogy offered (in slightly other circumstances) by Jonah Goldberg. Npw, I realize some here discarded Goldberg like a jonah aboard a ship, but his analogy is insightful:

    The Dangerous Fantasies of Would-Be Presidents
    There’s an old joke that goes something like this:

    An engineer and an economist are on a hike in the forest. They fall down a deep hole. The engineer, looking at the sheer walls and the distant opening way above, says: “We’re going to die down here. We can’t climb out and there’s no one to hear us cry for help.”

    “We’ll be fine,” the economist confidently replies, calmly brushing the dirt from his pants. There’s an easy way out. First, assume a ladder.”

    Hey, I didn’t say it was a good joke. But I have seen D.C. wonks bend over with laughter at it.

    I bring this up because the Democrats have become a “First, assume a ladder” party. (This is not to say that the Republican Party is firmly planted in reality these days either. More on that in a bit.)

    Pundits across the ideological spectrum praised the debate for dealing with “substance.” Fine, fine. Wonky substance is good, I guess. But it was a conversation wildly detached from the reality of the moment. I’m not trying to go all Flight 93 on you, but imagine if you’re in a life raft and everyone is debating how to signal for help and the bulk of the conversation were dedicated to the question of how to build a shortwave radio you have no parts for.

    “No, no, the vacuum tube diodes won’t work! We need solid state diodes!”

    “I for one will not sit here and let you besmirch the value of vacuum diodes!”

    During the first debate, Rep. John Delaney made the monstrous suggestion that Democrats should try to do possible things. “Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises, when we run on things that are workable, not fairy tale economics.”

    Warren responded: “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”

    It was like Delaney was in the life raft saying, “Maybe we can find a signal flare,” and Warren, Sanders, and co. were saying, “Don’t you understand how much better it would be if we used a shortwave radio?”

    Warren’s rejoinder was greeted by the audience and much of the progressive punditocracy as if it were the rhetorical equivalent of the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. “Poor Delaney doesn’t even realize he’s already dead!”

    Never mind that this was deeply unfair to Delaney, who actually wants to do all sorts of ambitious things. He just has this weird fetish for doing possible things and not destroying capitalism.

    The whole debate was premised on three pernicious fictions: one mathematical, one political, and one philosophical. Let’s take them in order.


    1. I read about an economist who lamented that politicians never ask questions that economics knows how to answer. We know what effect minimum wages, rent control, zoning restrictions, and welfare cliffs have, but all the politicians want to know is how they can sell their favorite hobby horse.

      1. Where’s the political benefit of asking economists for those answers? We already know those. Economists need to remember they’re on those panels as sock puppets for political figures.

        He[ck], Elizabeth Warren, Paul Krugman were both once good economists — that is what got them “promoted.”

          1. I don’t know about killing all of the Roma, but that sort of idiot is “somebody that won’t be missed”. 😈

            1. It was a fun conversation that gave me some theory for arguing for some extremely unpleasant policy options.

              IIRC, the idiot was a known puppy kicker with a history of claiming Roma ancestry.

              1. ‘Bout to say. Pretty sure if the alt-right took power, in some kind of bizarro alternate universe where the left’s fantasies about conservatives are real, you’d be going up against the wall, along with most of the rest of us here.

                1. Yep. Pretty much the next day. It’s like the idiots who think I’m White Supremacist. Given fairly high ancestry from Congo and Angola, it would take being even more batsh*t crazy than I am (being a writer.) And having a death (or being an untermensch) wish. (And that’s without mentioning the mostly converso ancestry.)
                  I’m not saying all my political choices are guided by self interest. There is a ton that is principles and sometimes bites me in the butt (see career, weirdness) BUT it still would be insane.

              2. My pager went off for some reason.

                There’s a credible argument with tons of evidence that Reynolds and Hoyt are the intellectual founders of the Alt-Right. There was a series of five essays, posted to 2chan in Korean, that are the first internet occurrence of several key Alt-Right concepts. The authorship is clearly Reynolds and Hoyt, because of the Kit Marlowe references, and because of the phrase “read the whole thing”.

                More seriously, such a critique would have to come from someone with no ability to distinguish Zionist neocons and squishy paleocons from the Alt-Right. Like perhaps someone who defines objectively pro-Democrat so broadly that Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and Will Sherman count.

              3. Anyone to the right of Lenin and who considers treating political opponents more favorably than Mao and Stalin is “alt-right” in their minds.

                1. See:

                  Democratic Congressman Names and Shames His Own Constituents for Donating to Trump
                  U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, a Democrat who represents a large portion of San Antonio, published a list of 44 San Antonio residents on Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to shame them and drive away customers from their businesses. Their crime? Donating to the Trump presidential campaign.


                  Joaquin Castro is the twin brother of Julián Castro, the former Obama HUD secretary and San Antonio mayor who is also a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. Joaquin serves as chairman of his brother’s presidential campaign, which is currently polling at 1.6 percent in the Texas Democratic primary, according to Emerson.

        1. Tell you what – if you guys can put your little list to the tune of the song (you know which one) we’ll let you have ’em. 😛

  12. “Foreshortened sense of the future.” It’s a problem – especially if you’ve been told over and over again you’ll be dead before 30.

    I actually had reason to believe I would be – health troubles argh – but proper nutrition managed to knock that down to “keep a lid on it.” But… yeah. I can confirm trying to find a job when you have no idea who to be asking is like trying to hit a pinata blind, when you’re not even sure you’re in the right room of the building.

    1. Heh. I am reminded of Baseball Great Mickey Mantle, whose father, grandfather and uncles had worked in Okie zinc & lead mines, dying in their forties, said after he’d destroyed his liver through drink and lungs with cigarettes at 64 years, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself!”

      Other sources attribute the original to jaz great Eubie Blake, but I suspect it is a widely held view.

  13. I’m hoping my technological devices somehow survive the election season. I’m sure sooner or later whoever manages to become the Democrat’s candidate is going to “Call Trump Out” on spending and the national debt with one breath, and with the very next tout some expensive pie in the sky freebee they think America needs, and I’ll want to throw something at the screen (or, throw the whole device if I read it on my smart phone).

    Sadly, I have to admit that a lot of it would be out of frustration because the hypocritical wind-bag will have a valid point about Trump and spending.

  14. So far as I can see, ALL money is fiat currency at base. Money is a shared delusion that eases commerce, but no basis for it is immune to fluctuations. Also, money is an abstract storage unite for human life. You trade parts of your life for money. You trade the money for things people had expended parts of their lives to make.

    This is why whenever I read or hear about some moron saying that the cost of some program doesn’t matter “if it saves just one life” I have the (slight and easily suppressed…so far) impulse to grab a tire iron and belabor the silly sonofabitch briskly about the head. If you spend more money than a human can possibly earn in a lifetime tomsave one life, you are operating at a loss.

    Yes, there are ‘what if the one that dies would have cured Cancer’ scenarios, but A) they are fairy tales and B) in almost all likely situations you need to do the f*cking MATH.

    We are NOT going to get to 100% Renewable Energy in my lifetime, short of a chain of scientific and engineering breakthroughs less likely than the spontaneous creation of sentient life in my moldy refrigerator. And the cost of trying is so high as to constitute a disaster all on its own.

    1. We are NOT going to get to 100% Renewable Energy in my lifetime, short of a chain of scientific and engineering physics breakthroughs

      Fixed that for you.

      These idiots would even reject cold fusion, not that they’re likely to have the opportunity.

      1. Heh.
        President Trump’s Department of Energy announced they’d discovered a completely pollutant-free, limitless energy source that would replace all forms of fossil fuel forever.

        The Democrats of the House and Senate immediately defunded the department, ordered the destruction of all materials related to the project, and have initiated impeachment proceedings against the President for causing a massive drop in their shares of oil company stocks. All 2020 candidates have declared the President as a racist, sexist Nazi for ever supporting such a program.

        1. I don’t think the Left would greet the news with loud ‘huzzah!”s, but I think the opposition would be a LITTLE less drastic. Loud denunciations of the ‘pollution-free’ part, based on wild surmises, general confusion and much headless chickening.

          1. President Trump announced that the NIH has developed a cure for all cancer. Progressives denounce Trump as being patriarchcal for not allowing Hillary Clinton to make the announcement. Meanwhile, Democrats have demanded the FDA not allow the cure on the market until President Trump is removed from office.

  15. Debt isn’t always bad: if it pays for a genuinely productive asset…a factory that makes things people actually want, say…it can be useful. At least some of the debt incurred by the US government in earlier times falls in this category: hydroelectric dams built under the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations which are still creating power, for example. The problem is that people try to define things as “investments” which are really expenses. “Progressives” will argue that incurring huge debt to fund “college for all” would be an investment, and a lot of people would agree, but it’s pretty clear to me and probably to most people here that this would really be mostly a worthless expense.

    I knew someone put in charge of a new-technology venture who complained about his budget restrictions…he thought what he was doing was an Investment, so he should be able to spend what he needed, and it would surely be recouped over time.

    The project failed. If it had indeed been treated as an Investment and the costs had been capitalized instead of expensed, then there would have been a big writeoff to mark the failure.

    1. I consider the current progressive “college for all” almost religious belief to be an abomination. It has created massive debt, sidelined countless people who legitimately would have been much happier in some trade, and in fact cheapened those degrees that graduates have earned.

      1. Same here – and I knew it when I was in high school myself. Only a small portion of the kids that I knew then had any interest in the life intellectual, and in higher education generally. Most of my then-peers would have been better off leaving school at fifteen or sixteen, to an apprenticeship or vocational training at something that would have earned them a steady living.

        1. The State keeps them in school until they become adults at 18, originally to keep them from forming teen gangs, but now to keep getting all that Federal cash for each enrolled student.

      2. The Progressive Intellectual Left has been scrambling for decades now to preserve the tottering edifice of Higher Education. Once the swell of the Baby Boom was passing, they had to find some way of getting bottoms in seats, or give up one of their best safe havens for Far Left agitators. And they are failing.

        This is what Free College For everybody is about. This is why the drumbeat of attacks on ‘for profit’ colleges. If they don’t find some way of propping up the Universities a lot of Lefty Intellectuals may have to start (*shudder*) WORKING for a living.

        1. Y’know, I honestly wouldn’t (much) mind the cost of higher education if that was what we were actually getting — but at present I rather feel like the guy ordering (and paying for) Single Malt and being delivered bar scotch.

          1. RES, if only it were bar scotch. What you’ve got is flat store brand soda.

            The reaction of normal people to my kids’ booklists tells me that much.

          2. Higher Education is much the way it has always been. What a Humanities Degree principally qualifies you to do is start studying for the next degree. It’s always been that way. And Universities have ALWAYS tended to be conformist, at least within themselves. Which is why so many of the important scientists of the late 18th and early 19th century were dissenters who were not eligible to attend the Oxbridge colleges.

            (Yes, this is my late Father’s field, and I can be a bore on the subject)

            They have also tended to be Daycare for the (almost) adult sons of the wealthy, where the trouble they could get into had some limits and where they would be stuffed with the approved Orthodoxy.


            Historically, when the Approved Orthodoxy gets too far out of sync with observable fact, there s a correction. We’re due one now.

      3. Consider: you can’t indoctrinate every young person if they don’t all go to college…

    2. More generally, education is often marketed as ‘investing in our future’.

      Problem is, investments have returns. You have some grounds to expect a certain return with a certain risk. And the returns count if they accrue to the same entity which is paying the investment costs. In the case of government funded education, the returns are only correct if they are in the form of additional taxes coming from additional economic activity in the jurisdiction. Additional rent collected by the union and paid to election campaigns is not a return.

      We could not predict the taxpayer decades in the future from the student today. Economic models are not so sound that we could do a statistical aggregate of a student group either. We have no unimpeachable model that we could use to rigorously ensure that spending is kept only to the level of an investment. If primary and secondary education spending is sufficiently careless, we would also be significantly losing on that.

    3. See also: Solyndra

      For that matter, look at how Andy Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billions” have created wonderful new jobs in Norther New York … at a cost so excessive they’d have been better just putting every adult in that region on the government payroll, digging and filling holes.

      And, let us not forget, filing environmental impact statements on both the holes being dug and on their being filled back in again (especially if it rains in the interim.

      1. It seemed for a while like every “close associate” he ever had was getting arrested in that whole debacle… but Cuomo wasn’t actually involved in any of it. No sir.

      2. but if you dig a ditch and it rains you’ve created a waterway and have to call the EPA before you can fill it

  16. Let me just laugh a while at the image of people who think that inner-city dependents are going to take over the countryside. That will last as long as the canned food does, at which point they’re going to have to learn how to farm really fast.

    1. Inner-city dependents have handguns, if they have guns at all, and think holding them sideways is effective . Rural ‘deplorables’ have LONG guns, and practice with them.

      1. Holding handguns sideways is effective…for the purposes of the gang banger.

        See, killing a member of the rival gang isn’t a great idea. It can lead to retaliation and escalation, which is bad for business. But you also can’t look like a sucker who can be walked all over. Throwing lead downrange makes it clear that you are a tough and dangerous person, and doing it in a manner that makes accuracy impossible minimizes the risk to you and your gang.

    2. Farming isn’t nearly as simple as many urbanites think. And it can be a loooong time between planting and harvesting…

      1. Yeah. You have to plan five seasons ahead if you want to eat. One of the things I liked about Stephen King’s The Stand is the difficulty a lot of these urban dwellers have in a post-apocalyptic landscape—and how freaked out they get when someone slaughters a pig in front of them.

  17. Something I thought of while coding at silly hours last night: Nuclear weapons are uniquely American. Or alternatively: Nuclear weapons are a good match for certain quirks in the American psyche.

    You don’t use a nuke on a whim. In fact you pretty much don’t use one until you are out of other options. At which point whatever has become exceedingly annoying to the point where it can no longer be ignored gets utterly annihilated and the earth where it once stood salted.

    1. I think this is one reason why the current power structure in Saudi Arabia is working with Israel, a little. Somebody in the Saudi Royal Zoo has an appreciation of how nasty life is likely to get if the West decides ‘f*ck ‘em, let Allah sort ‘em out’ and works on turning the Arabian Peninsula into one large sheet of glass.

      1. I can’t prove it, but I think there was a “Come to Jesus” moment with the Saudis shortly after 9/11. Some of the outward signs of such a thing can just barely be made out, from some of what went on surrounding the aftermath.

        Can’t prove it, though… There were certain… Ah… Personnel reassignments, within the Saudi royal family, though… Ones with sort of suggest things to the discerning eye.

        1. The Saudi’s willingness to work with Israel is directly related to their desire to be protected by Israel’s “nuclear umbrella” against Iranian aggression, as Iran is a common enemy for Israel, which Iran continuously vows to destroy, and Sunni Saudi Arabia, which Iran also vows to destroy.

        2. I’ve mentioned this before… I’ve been told (by someone who credibly claimed to be an insider) that the reason we haven’t had another attack on that scale…. the morning after 9/11, Bush called the Saudis and said flat out, “We know you were behind it. If it happens again, we’ll nuke Mecca.”

          I can see that causing some… reassignments …within the Royal Sandlot, especially if Further Plans existed.

          1. Sadly, that won’t last, or effect Islamotwits from other countries much. Good that the Saudi Royals are taking measures, but sooner or later I think some ill-policed American city is going to see a major attack. Someplace like Detroit or Chicago, where the authorities are swamped.

            I’m not planning to spend much time in any major US city run by Democrats until the country goes on a War footing.

            1. i really don’t see them hitting Detroit. “Millions of dollars in abandoned buildings were destroyed and a few homeless were killed” just isnt going to get people riled.

              1. Plus the fact tat a big chunk of folk killed would be their co-religionists. Of course, there’s always the possibility that they’d be the wrong kind of co-religionist, plus the concept that a certain amount of martyrdom, even if unconsented to, is acceptable when it comes to jihad.

        3. The Saudis have been sending their children to British and American schools since the 1960s. I think they may have picked up a bit of Western thinking when not partying.

    2. A point of concern with the Chinese is that the current leadership unlike their post-Mao predecessors, are going back towards Maoist thinking regarding nuclear war, i.e. China can win and survive a nuclear war because of its huge population. While this may not be correct, it was their thinking under Mao and the current leadership has shown a very disturbing trend of going “back to Mao”, particularly in regards to military and foreign affairs where they are getting very aggressive.

      1. I think that the Chinese leadership might be partially right. The Chinese people would survive a nuclear war. However, I doubt that the Chinese government/Party would survive.

        1. The United States is probably the only modern nation that could survive a nuclear war. Even if every enemy warhead found its target there would be thousands of small towns – not to mention the isolated farms and residences – that would survive. A few days after the dust settled those towns would begin reaching out to their neighbors. After a few weeks provisional state governments would be formed. A couple of months after that, the representatives of those states would be heading towards the new national capital. Needless to say, the Democrats would find voters thin on the ground in the resurrected America.

          1. Depends on how radioactive the dust is. The fallout from Chernobyl and the short- and long-term health of the people exposed probably make a good baseline for those areas not immediately destroyed in a nuclear attack.

            1. In such an attack, the rural areas between the SF Bay area (dunno what military assets remain there since Peace-Dividend-palooza) and, say, Portland should be moderately well intact. Not sure about the San Joaquin valley with the prevailing NW summer winds, but a fair amount of productive farm land would be intact. OTOH, fuel and electricity will be a bastard of a situation On the gripping hand, there are a fair amount of places that produce crude that wouldn’t be too terribly impacted. (Wonders about small and medium scale refining.)

              1. Hmmmm … could a properly targeted nuclear missile trigger the San Andreas Fault, causing widespread catastrophe?

                Asking for a friend.

                1. Anything is possible – shake things enough and you get rock breaking, faults sliding, and earthquakes quaking. Of course a nuke that large probably would have sufficient primary effects to not really have to worry about secondary seismic effects.

                  Note the largest impact earthmoving attack I can think of would to knock loose a big chunk of Cumbre Vieja on La Palma in the Canary Islands causing it to fall off into the Atlantic and trigger a tsunami that would inundate the Caribbean, US East Coast and South America, while doing no favors to Europe, the UK or the rest of the Atlantic coastline.

              2. Travis AFB would probably be a target in any nuclear war since it’s a major military air logistics point. Immediate fallout would at least contaminate the delta area between Vallejo and Sacramento.

              3. Military assets in the San Francisco Bay Area: Zip Zero Nada.

                The Presidio is Lucasfilm (Disney), Alameda NAS is empty now that MythBusters is done shooting there, Moffett NAS is now Moffett Federal Airfield and run under contract by Google, which runs their growing air fleet out of there (tenants still include NASA Ames, one Cal Air National Guard HH-60/HC-130 air rescue unit and I think an Army Civil Affairs reserve unit still there, as well as the last remaining chunk of military dependent housing for anyone assigned in this area), the Blue Cube at Onizuka AFS was torn down a couple years ago, Mare Island Naval Shipyard is long gone, and even down the coast Fort Ord is a California State University now, though the DLI and he NPGS are still in Monterey.

                I know there’s a few Navy Sealift RORO ships docked around SF and Alameda, the Coast Guard has a station in SF, and there’s various reserve armories and such, but as far as actual assets everything is pretty much gone until you get up to Travis AFB along I-80 on the way to Sacramento.

                1. I was pretty sure about most, but hadn’t heard about the Blue Cube. The SJ Mercury News figured it was one of the only primary or secondary targets in the area back in the late 1980s. IIRC, they had Travis and Beale AFB (B-52 SAC, I think) as primaries.

                  What happened to the Mothball Fleet?

                  1. I think they salvaged 90 to 95% of it. Last time I drove through there I didn’t see more than 1 or 2 left.

                  2. No B-52s left in California – the last SAC bomber base was Mather, and it was closed under BRAC in 1993, and March down south lost it’s B-52s in 1992 before it was changed to a reserve base in 1993 also under BRAC.

                    Beale has U-2s, drones, and “that noise was not our aircraft” which make very loud noises at night as they fly over local communities and then are not acknowledged by the base public affairs folks when local media asks the next day.

                  3. Travis AFB is active and a target for obvious logistics reasons; Beale AFB has the U-2s and the big space surveillance radar pyramid thingee; NAS Lemoore down past Fresno in the central valley is still very active, with F/A-18s and F-35s working up for deployments; Vandenberg AFB is very active for space launch and is one of the current missile defense bases; Edwards AFB and NAWS China Lake are active test and development sites; Camp Pendleton is one of two USMC training bases doing Basic Training; and then pretty much all of San Diego would be targets for all the Navy stuff down there.

                    I probably would not waste a nuke on DLI and NPGS in Monterey, or on Fort Hunter Liggett or Fort Irwin or Twentynine Palms or the Sierra Army Depot.

                    Map all that and you have two target dots in Northern CA, a bunch south of Fresno, and only the lonely Travis target dot within 75 miles of the Golden Gate Bridge.

            2. From what I’ve been told our radiation exposure treatments have gotten quite good in the last 30 years or so.

              The problem would be whether those were available when needed…

            3. Or, you know, the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Which are probably the most studied group of people in history.

              Fallout isn’t exactly great for you, but if you avoid the “black rain” phase it’s not immediately dangerous. You probably won’t live as long as you might have, but you’ll still have a decent life.

              1. I mean, humans seem to be amazingly tough. Like you said: life expectancy might not be as LONG as was previously, but.

                There are still people living in the Chernobyl area because they refused to leave. They have been dying off–but I’ve seen some suggestions that it is more to do with the lack of having babies (many of them were already middle aged or older, I gather) than results of fallout. Incidences of cancer may or may not be higher than usual? Don’t recall on that.

                I do recall, from living in a country that was downstream of Chernobyl and had measurable radiation in unfiltered tap water (along with a whole host of other things) that the most I seemed to see was the most amazing collection of mutant moles on some folks. (I’m sure there was more to it than that, but even so, they didn’t notably appear to have a vastly shorter life expectancy, etc, than other folks. Just…freaky moles. 😀 )

                1. Freaky moles were a result of socialism/communism.
                  No, I’m serious. It’s one of those things that tracks high with heavily intrusive/totalitarian regimes.
                  In fact it might track precisely.
                  Like the inverse tracking of the availability of bananas versus socialism.
                  I don’t know why and it bothers me.

                  1. Bananas are highly perishable and do not travel well; Socialism is notoriously bad at logistics. Do the math.

                    N.B.: Socialism seems to be very good at cabbages.

                    Odd Thought: have you ever read about the effort McDonalds had to go through to provide their Moscow franchise(s) potatoes suitable for frying? Fascinating tale which reveals much about the flaws in the Soviet system.

                    1. Sigh. You might be genuinely interested in reading it, but I cannot readily find it on line (unsurprising, given it is a thirty-year-old story) and I am genuinely not interested in typing it from vague memories. But I can summarize.

                      They discovered they had to basically construct an entire supply chain, convincing Russian farmers to a) grow the types of potatoes McDonalds <I<needed, harvest and store them as McDonalds required — apparently, post-harvest storage plays a critical role in ensuring their potatoes fry up crispy instead of soggy (a whole other article) — then deliver them to market as required, in condition suitable for use. ALL of those concepts were, apparently, alien to Soviet-trained farmers, who were more used to growing what they wanted to and then leaving them stored badly until somebody came around to collect them.

                      Again, vague recollections of a story read long ago, so if any of it is as inaccurate as a contemporary Washington Post article, I apologize.

                  2. Huh. That really IS a weird correlation. But, well…okay, I could see that. Makes you wonder if serfs in the feudal era also had freaky moles? Though I’m inclined to find socialism even MORE intrusive than plain ol’ feudalism.

                    1. Okay, I can totally see that.

                      Heh. I will also thumb my nose at those Europeans who sneered at us for ‘bathing too much’ in that case. I’ll take dry skin over freaky moles any day of the week! 😀

                2. There are interesting videos from the Chernobyl closed zone – lots of areas are basically “wear a dust mask if you go inside any buildings since they don’t get the hot dust washed away by rain”, but they also find screaming hot spots in the woods.

                3. A high incidence of thyroid cancer I’ve heard. (NOT the leukemia they were expecting.)

          2. Actually a lot of those rural areas would be attacked in a full scale nuclear exchange, because they ahve missile silos and air force bases. Not as many as during the height of the Cold War, but still quite a few.

            1. There are only three missile fields and they’re all north of Denver, which leaves a lot of country untouched. By now most of the Air Force bases are located near at least moderately-sized cities (Airmen need places to buy beer and pick up women).

              1. I would just note that if it’s the ex-Soviet ICBMs used, we’re depending on the targeting load actually having been updated since the 1960s, rather than just reported as having been updated as ordered, pass the vodka comrade.

            2. Us in Wyoming figure Warren airforce base in Cheyenne would be bombed in the event of an attacker who was actually planning on something tactical instead of symbolic. Most of ’em seem more interested in symbolic, though, and Wyoming doesn’t exactly figure in that arena, heh. I still see New York, L.A. or D.C. being more likely targets because symbolism.

              Still, doesn’t hurt to be prepared…

              1. I assume the Vandenberg “test” missile defense site will get a tryout at some point to defend against something inbound heading for LA.

                I presume I am not alone in this, which is why that “test” site is actively integrated into the missile defense system, with live missiles on alert along with the rest at the “main” site up in Alaska.

                But my real fear is a container nuke that somehow slips past the scanning they run these days – a Port of LA or Port of Oakland detonation would be bad, mostly from the panic.

                And I also note several countries have worked on container-SCUD variants (or worse, solid rocket motor IRBMs) – the container ship does not even have to enter the port, just run a couple hundred miles offshore and lob a bunch of nuclear armed missiles in towards LA.

                Accuracy would suck, but accuracy required for that application is minute-of-megapolis.

                1. Right after 9/11 I spent some time in Boston wrenching for the airline I was employed by (our contract mechanic there, a reservist, had been called up) and I couldn’t help getting a creepy feeling when going past the harbor. One containerized nuke in that bowl-like area and Katy bar the door. And that was back when the Russians were having a real problem keeping track of all their ‘suitcase’ nukes & such.

              2. I wonder a bit about Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, as a training base for F-15C (air to air version). OTOH, if it comes to that, somebody’s would have set off an EMP device and life would already be interesting.

                Dammit computer/WordPress, Klamath is really a word!

          3. Needless to say, the Democrats would find voters thin on the ground in the resurrected America.

            Those that were left to look for them. . . .

    3. Sigh. And then we have Elizabeth “Nuke Us First” Warren thinking she’s being presidential.

  18. When I look back at the things I wrote back in my early 20s, before I fell into a job that pays decently, I had a lot of anxiety (most of it media driven) about the future. Now, meh, there’s problems, but we’ll work through them most likely. And if we don’t, well I have to die sometime.

  19. Ah. When I’m having nightmare scenarios slavery makes a roaring comeback.

    All you need is a population of slaves that has it coming.

    Can we home school and tell stories faster than they can brainwash?

    But that’s my apocalypse. And it’s still survivable.

      1. That’s a lovely aphorism, but I need to think on it some.

        I think it will get down to what kind of Master / what kind of slave.

        All my family are “Servi Christianorum” after all, and the ones who are the greatest slaves are the most free, AND exercise the most helpful authority.

  20. This is not a good place to make a long reply. I just want to say 3 things everybody should know.
    Math always wins over feelings.
    The average fiat currency lasts about 40 years before government fraud destroys it.
    The us has defaulted 3 times. The last in 1971.

  21. As to younger son and his job search, I can only cite my story. There’s a reason I call my work biography, “The Accidental Professional.” If it was planned, it wasn’t by me. My advice would be to use what credentials you have, but make things that people want or find useful. Early in my career (in grad school), I did those things because I wanted things to work the way I thought they should, People noticed. My resume is not simply a list of places and times I worked, but solid, specific accomplishments at each stop. People seem to be impressed. First rule of economic success, make something people want at a price they can afford.

  22. I’m having such a riot reading this. ~:D

    “Hormonal insanity actually runs through mid twenties in most boys. Heck, I remember when it turned off. I was 23. I felt the switch go off, as it were, and suddenly there wasn’t a mad squirrel in the back of my mind.”

    Its supposed to turn off? Wut? (Admittedly the squirrels have gotten a little lazy the last five years or so.)

    “the EBT cards will stop working and the hordes of inner city dispossessed will take over the country side”

    Hordes of inner-city zombies will burn their cities down and then DIE in the fricking countryside, despite all efforts to save them. Because Mother Nature is a mean nasty bitch.

    “China is all smoke and mirrors.”

    China is about to deliver the death-blow to the Western socialist parties once and for all. They have, right now,
    1) A huge crop failure due to the fall army worm,
    2) pig ebola (really, no kidding pig hemorrhagic virus) a plague which may very well kill every pig in China THIS YEAR,
    3) Hong Kong deciding not to shut up and go along like they’re supposed to,
    4) Donald Trump kicking sand on their beach blanket and calling them out.

    They’ve got two of the Four Horsemen sitting in their living room with feet on coffee table drinking their beer, right now. Plague and Famine. Barbecue pork is going to get mucho expensioso.

    It appears that Xi has decided to get help from the third Horseman, he’s going to have a Short Victorious War against Hong Kong. Meaning he’s presiding over a sand castle and the tide is coming in.

    Death will be along presently, to reap a few civilians. I’m hoping they stop at shooting demonstrators, but this is China we’re talking about.

    Why is this a death-blow to Western socialism? Because if the Chicoms do what they always do, then all of the West is going to be watching unarmed Hong Kong civilians getting mowed down by the People’s Liberation Army. Then all those fence-sitters who never see a problem with government getting more power, they will all very quietly go out and buy guns and vote whatever party is the most pro-freedom.

    1. China is a pyramid of soap bubbles sitting on the edge of a knife stuck into the wall of a cliff over a rocky shore in a hurricane.

      The thing that’s been propping it all up is the income from Chinese indentured labor making all the iPhones and semiconductors and WalMart stuff. If that were to be endangered the whole thing starts to wobble.

      The main concern I have has a historical analogy:

      In August 1940 the US responded to the Japanese occupation of French Indochina by expanding prior embargoes to include a complete embargo on US crude oil shipments to Japan. Since at that time the US was the major oil exporters, producing 60% of world petroleum output, the oil embargo took a huge bite out of the Japanese economy. Japan estimated that their oil reserves and other sources could only keep the Japanese economy going for roughly two years – so to avoid economic collapse they had to acquire new sources of oil before June 1942. The closest oil was in the Dutch East Indies, but the US troops and ships in the Phillipines would surely intervene on their flank if they moved south and took them, and the US Pacific fleet war plan was well known to be a fleet reinforcement of the PI in case of war, so the US and it’s Pacific Fleet had to be dealt with. The result was the Attack in December 1941 on Pearl Harbor.

      Now in the end the decision “developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage” , but a lot of blood was shed between 1941 and 1945.

      If China were pushed too far, if their soap bubble pyramid were wobbling too much, instead of accepting an economic collapse, who knows what the Chinese Communist Party would choose to do.

      1. “…who knows what the Chinese Communist Party would choose to do.”

        You mean something like kill 100 million of their own people? They’ve already done that once in living memory.

        I expect them to perform the way they, the Russians the North Koreans and the Cubans have always done. If it moves, kill it. If it doesn’t move, blow it up and salt the ruins. They’re monsters, and that’s how they roll.

        It would be nice if our respective Western governments had walled them up and left them to fester after 1947, but instead we gave them everything we had instead. Now they will take all that money and industry gifted to them by greedy fools, and use it to kill us. That will be the true, revealed cost of the Walmart model.

        The one thing working to our collective advantage is that the Chinese have never been much good at doing war outside China. Three thousand years, and they never really left home in a big way.

        1. The Chinese State under Communism is not vastly different from the Chinese State at any time in their history. Mandarins, bureaucrats, and other parasites set policy, the army enforces it brutally, the common people are treated like farm animals, and the average Chinese just keeps his head down.

      2. My first reaction was to observe China has no useful means of projecting power against us — ICBM’s would merely bring a retaliatory strike, and their naval forces lack blue water or troop capacity enough to concern us.

        That’s what I was going to say.

        Then I wondered whether every single chip made i China might have a ransomware routine built in.

        1. The PLA has an extremely robust cyber warfare component, plus a full set of details for every US individual who applied for a security clearance. And the Norks have another very robust cyber capability, with fealty routinely pledged to Beijing. And the Russians will do anything for cash or commodities.

          I would expect the next Pearl Harbor to be along the lines of a broad front cyber attack spanning everything from the power grid, water purification plants, food distribution centers, the entire western financial system, satellite communications, and whatever they can get at in our military.

          I would hope that preemptive cyber strikes are the current official US doctrine, but I’m pretty sure current thinking in the US is “don’t stay in cyber” – i.e. the option is on the table to drop bombs on their servers and cyber facilities to retaliate for any cyber attack.

      3. One thing I believe is a must is to remind people that The attack on Pearl WAS NOT planned by the Japanese but by Admiral Yarnell of the US Navy in 1932 for the Pacific War Games. The attack was very successful but the Battleship Admirals messed with the report then file 13ed it. But there were LOTS of Foreign Observers including from Japan. They used Yarnell’s plan exactly. Didn’t modify it except they took 4 Carriers and Yarnell had only 2. BTW RAH was there in charge of the Computer on the Saratoga I believe.

        All hail the glorious American Navy who never found an idea they couldn’t ignore until it bit them in the ass.

        1. I have read that a question about planning such an attack was on the Japanese naval academy’s final exam for years.

          I don’t believe I’ve ever checked to confirm there actually was a Japanese naval academy.

          I am presently reading a biography of Andrew Jackson Higgens, the industrialist whose small, shallow-draft craft are often credited with the Allied victory in WWII. The descriptions of his battles with the Bureau of Ships and their “Not Invented Here” mind-set are epic.

      4. Yeah, I’ve seen that “oil embargo” line before. And I flat don’t believe it.

        So, the Japanese Army – which pretty much ran the Japanese Empire at the time – flubbed its logistics so badly that the entire Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere project depended on oil imported from the US, butted diplomatic heads with this critical source to the point where imports were stopped, and then decided to fix the situation by declaring war against the country that was supposedly the only practical source for their oil, even though nobody believed they could occupy the USA or somehow force them to deliver oil at gunpoint?

        Funny, the Japanese seemed to handle logistics okay otherwise…

        It’s like the “WWI started because Ferdinand was shot” story; it’s a conclusion that doesn’t fit the known facts.

        1. Well, the only oil fields anywhere close to Manchukuo (i.e. Northeastern China) are actually quite far away in western Siberia, and the Soviets stopped the Japanese Army cold quite thoroughly throughout the 1930s whenever they got frisky, so the Japanese Army couldn’t reasonably secure that. Even if they somehow had got there and exploited that oil, all Soviet partisans had to do was blow up a railroad line anywhere along thousands of miles of track along eth Trans Siberian Railroad to halt shipments.

          The ocean-going imports were the easiest way to get oil into Japan, which is why an oil embargo was the last resort for FDR – he really wanted to avoid the Pacific heating up so he could go help against the Nazis, and thus only embargoed smaller impact stuff until the occupation of Indochina. Contemporaneous documentation shows the US government thought of a US oil embargo as a noose around the neck of Japan. After the occupation fo Indochina FDR pulled out the noose, freezing all Japanese assets in the US and adding US oil to the embargo, and when the Dutch East Indies joined the embargo Japan lost access to 88% of their oil imports.

          Imports are all the oil the Japanese had, so that hurt a lot.

          I have never seen any primary or secondary sources that give another plausible reason for the Japanese decision to attack the US. If they could have pushed south and taken the rest of Asia without worrying about the USN, they would have done so. But the US Rainbow war plans were not that closely held, and the Japanese knew all about the planned big USN Pacific Fleet Battleship push to reinforce the PI – in fact, Japanese war plans counted on it to force the “Decisive Battle” that was so central to their doctrine. The Pearl Harbor raid was very much out of character for the IJN, which shows up in how they tried to force Midway to be their Decisive Battle through all the feints and head fakes – they never really wanted to take Midway – they wanted the threat of taking Midway to force the remaining US Pacific Fleet to engage.

          But the whole thing for Japan was resource driven, from China to the whole East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere to the war with the US. And Japan was not set up to use coal at home, having industrialized after the move to oil, so petroleum was the main resource the Japanese economy could not do without.

          1. > plausible reason

            Billy Mitchell got a tour of the Japanese Army’s planning section in the early 1920s. They were quite open about their plans to attack the US.

            Mitchell tried to tell people about it when he got back to the US. He got court-martialed for it.

            1. Oh, sure, but note the Army was a distinct and separate fiefdom, subordinate in theory to the imperial court but in reality subordinate to itself, and no matter what they said to Billy Mitchell the Japanese Army never attacked the US except as adjunct to the Imperial Navy strategy in taking the Philippines.

              The Japanese Army’s position was always that Japan should give the Army more resources and industrial output so they could take a couple more bites out of the elephant that was China, and they opposed the whole Navy-driven strategy of attacking the US at all. Only when the oil embargo hit and the resource situation became dire did the Army reluctantly agree to an IJN drive south to take the Dutch East Indies oil fields, which meant “liberating” the PI from the US to secure the flank, which in turn meant attacking the USN Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor to prevent the Rainbow Plan USN relieve-the-PI attack.

              If there had been oil in Korea or Manchukuo or coastal China, the Japanese Army would never had agreed with any IJN plans, and I’d maintain there would not have been a Pacific War in the 1940s.

  23. Occurred to me to wonder about the national debt as adjusted for inflation. Picked the first inflation calculator I came to and input numbers. Got this result:

    $23 trillion in 2011 money…
    …is just over $1 billion in 1913 money.

    Somehow the national debt no longer looks so impressive.

    1. It is probably worth performing the parallel calculation(s).

      What is the present annual economy in 1913 dollars? Conversely, what is the 1913 economy in 2011 money?

      What is the Debt (or even the deficit) as a percentage of the yearly economy, what is the Debt (or even the deficit) on a per capita* basis, both now and in 1913?

      *Or per household

      1. I thought of that, but didn’t get as far as trying to find a Handy Chart. But now that you mention it, I vaguely recall reading that (mostly thanks to automation) the average worker now produces several times more GDP than did equivalent workers a century ago, even adjusted for inflation.

        1. In 1919 about 25.9% of the workforce was employed in farmwork and agriculture. In 1960, 8.1%. In absolute numbers, 1920 10,970,000 of 41,610,000. 1960 5,970,000 of 74,060. 2000 3,190,000, not sure of how many total employed. In farm production alone that’s a huge productivity increase.

          In 1920, there were no commercial airliners being produced, not very many automobiles, no computers, or televisions. So yes, each worker produces a lot more GDP per worker.

        1. It is important to keep in mind that measuring inflation is an iffy proposition at best — they are only guessing, after all, about the effect of product improvements (such as moving from vacuum tube to transistors in your car radio, or from 8-Track tapes to MP3 players and thumb drives) and even simple, apparently straight-forward comparisons such as price per gallon of gas fail to take into account qualitative changes i the gasoline or the loss of attendants to pump your gas (and check your oil and wash your windshield) versus doing it yourself.

          That crown I had replaces last week cost me about the same as crowns thirty years ago — but this one was fitted, milled and annealed while I waited while the one thirty years ago involved a temporary crown and a return visit some three weeks later to have the “permanent” fixture installed. And the difference in material in the new vs the old is remarkable.

          1. For gasoline also need to account for all the EPA mandated formulations that have to be distributed to different parts of the country and the costs of doing so.,

  24. Checking the inflation rate, our 22 trillions equates to around 9 billion in 1913. 1 dollar then $2500 now. The actual debt in 1913 was around 1 billion in 1913 dollars. So our current debt is 8 or 9 X the 1913 proportion.

  25. There are calls for a one time complete worldwide debt forgiveness. There is some sense to this, but I haven’t given it much thought. No mortgage payments, no car payments, nothing hanging over your head, a chance to start anew, People with huge estates- would still own huge estates. People with small homes- would still own small homes. You would have all your possessions, but no debts.
    One such call:

    1. The problem with debt forgiveness is that somebody is holding that debt, somebody eschewed vacations and dining out to invest their money in savings, or bonds, or direct loans to people needing capital — and what happens to them when “we” forgive that debt?

      They didn’t “invest” that money with anticipation of a “Jubilee Year” else they’d likely have structured the loan differently. Instead of a thirty-yer mortgage they’d have counted back from the year of Jubilee and said, I’m going to need that repaid in five years, or seven or whatever was required to make them whole. Suddenly you’ve made their retirement savings worthless.

      Remember: every debt is only one side of a transaction, for every dollar that is somebody owes, somebody is owed a dollar. Owed a dollar they could have spent on a new car, bigger TV, better school for their kids. When you borrow money from a bank, you’re borrowing from the savings of those putting their money into the bank.

      Wipe out Forgive what they’re owed and you’re convincing them to keep that money in the mattress.

    2. One other thing:
      People with huge estates and huge mortgages – would still own huge estates. People with small homes and paid off mortgages – would still own small homes. You’re rewarding those who had the foresight to run up huge debts and punishing the folks who chose to live within their means.

      Doesn’t strike me as the basis for good economic habits going forward.

    3. People with pensions would find out that their pension fund held a lot of debt, and their payments going forward will be a lot smaller…or totally nonexistent.

      People with bank accounts would find out that their bank held a LOT of debt, and their bank balances are now zero.

      Companies that don’t NEED debt financing, but use it to leverage returns (looking at you, Apple), would make out like bandits as their debt was wiped out. Companies that DO need debt financing would be screwed, because no one would buy their debt in the future.

      1. The world has demonstrated itself remarkably capable of overlooking the Jewish origins of things they like, I would append a list of Jewish contributions to medicine, physics, the Arts and other venues but we’d need a bigger blog.

        OTOH – what is the Arabs’ main claim to contribution to the understanding of math? They invented nothing!

  26. I have already seen “woke” college students tweet that they are taking out lots of student loans before they all get forgiven.

    1. I’ve got the popcorn for the explosion of “WT$” screams, when informed “sure we’ll forgive your dept … but here is what you have to go do, for X number of years. During which we will support you in the manner WE deem appropriate …”

  27. Ahh, yes, keywords. I had to figure out that stupid game just to get a proper job (ie, had health insurance) with the feds. I was appalled when my then-boss (I was a contractor at that point) told me that I had to essentially lie and claim to be an expert in everything just to get an interview. She pointed out that everyone knew this was the stupid game we had to play, and that they would (hopefully) get told the truth in the interview stage. She understood why I was appalled–she felt much the same–but there was no way around it. (I had just been rejected as ‘unqualified’ for a front desk position answering freaking phones. Which, in theory, you shouldn’t need more than a high school diploma for.


    Between that, and the games the gov plays with regards to the various forms of ‘affirmative action’ (including veteran hiring, and look I’m not begrudging veterans a first crack at jobs, but it’s SUPPOSED to be “if they are qualified for the job they get first crack” not what actually happens which is “you told us you haven’t touched a computer since 1992 and the job is all computer-database, but we have to come up with a different excuse for not hiring you because veteran”…so yeah, I give that whole thing a huge stink-eye).

    And of course I now hear one of our management here was playing headgames with one of the current front-desk ladies, who is trying to move upwards, by telling her that she will be in TROUBLE if she ‘lies’ on the computer questionnaire end of the application process. Even though if she’s totally honest, she won’t even get an interview. (Likely manager told her this because–aside from manager being a known bully–she also doesn’t want our sole competent front desk person to leave that position and leave us with the incompetent, fit-throwing one. Sigh.

    I hate current hiring practices. They are insane.

    1. One time when I was between jobs I applied for a job with the local County. I could certainly do the job (managing a software development group – btdt) but they had a test. Showed up after hours on a weekday to the entire cafeteria downstairs in the County building full of people to take the test. OK, fine. Took the test – multiple choice, not hard. Got done. Looked around: No-one else was done. OK; check through my answers to make sure I hadn’t missed a page of hard questions. Nope. OK, I’m done – I went and turned in my test and went home. Still was the first.

      Turns out I aced it – top score of the 50+ test takers, many obviously current County employees (thus the after hours test downstairs where they already work).

      So because I was the top score they had to interview me. Went in for the interview and saw one guy, who was barely interested, but made sure to ask if I had prior experience with Obscure Software Development Toolset. No, but I can learn anything, I’ve used similar build systems before, I’ve actually helped write a custom one, and I though this was a management job? Other than that I was clearly qualified.

      Obviously I didn’t get the job.

      It’s OK, I got a better paying job not working for local .gov pretty soon thereafter, but that County job’s benefits were really, really good, the list of holidays and floating personal days they got off work were astonishingly great, and the vacation days were unbelievable.

      It turns out they had a preferred internal candidate they wanted to hire, but the rules said they had post the job and do the whole open and fair selection thingee before they could just hire the person they wanted. Even though other candidates mopped the floor with their preferred hire in the mandatory test. Which is just what they did.

      So basically, my advice is use connections to be that person that the manager actually wants to hire. They have the leverage with their management to deal with HR baloney. If they want you, they will get you.

      1. I’ve been on the other side of that. I’d been doing the job for months (temp labor) when the pregnancy leave decided to not return, so was the natural selection to fill the position. I’ve always felt a trifle bad about the other people interviewed, but there was n’t much I could reasonably do about it.

        I do wonder about the cost — in management time and attention, in applicant hopes — of such mandatory requirements. Employers that want to discriminate will find ways around the requirements, as your experience demonstrates.

        I will also note you were probably better off without that management position — not just because you found better, but those generous personal leave days would have been a nightmare scheduling the project.

        1. I agree, I ended up liking the new job quite a bit, as the people at that company were really great, but every once in a while I daydream about one of those .gov job-for-life retire-in-place type positions – the ones where they eventually find the desiccated corpse in their office after passing of old age.

          “Hmph. I wondered why he stopped showing up for donut day in the lunchroom three months ago.”

      2. NY plays games with their hiring system all the time. They give tests, and can hire any one of the top 3 scorers- if #1 scored 100, #2 97.5, and 50 people scored 90 to tie for #3, the top 3 was 52 people. And invariably, the “preferred candidate” was in the #3. Also invariably the top 2 would be veterans who DIDN’T NEED their veteran preference for their score, but they weren’t part of the good ol’ boy network, not having worked for the state since age 18. Then they’d make all kinds of excuses to hire the non-vet…..

      3. Yes. Did that technically 3 times. First job out of college doesn’t count … they asked me to apply …

        First time lucked out. Only applied for one job, that technically I barely qualified for, no known contacts (did, but didn’t KNOW I did); had reasonable discussions on how close I was to qualifying and what I was missing I could easily pickup. Job application – Applicant will have degrees and experience in Forestry and Computers, with experience working in (list of languages). Former 4 – yes (degrees and experience), classes in one of the languages, but not specific working experience. Plus my preferred salary wasn’t out of line for “don’t blink you’ll miss the town on the Oregon coast.” Even tho we had no intention of moving to said Oregon coast, nor was I commuting (they moved the job inland).

        Second time took 6 months. Not quite “over qualified” for the jobs I applied for, experience was wide, not much depth. New job added depth.

        Third time took 17 long months. Over qualified, every single time … I applied to county, state, city, and every local opening I saw, including gaming which I don’t indulge in. Didn’t matter entry level or not, over qualified. I was 45 when started looking.

        My resume has always listed the systems worked on what it did, why, what language(s) programmed, with a list of specific issues over come and why important. As well as the respective employer and targeted user. In the end, none of it ever mattered, except that I could problem solve, and learn new tools and systems as needed. The job I ended up with used NONE of the tool sets I had used previously. Had to learn new tools as well as new systems. Way over qualified. Who cared? Not me. It was income.

        I never gamed the system. If anything I probably understated my accomplishments. Did that affect me even getting an interview? Probably. But if I had to lie to get the job, did I really want it? The jobs I got, had their problems, but in a lot of ways I missed on some of the big professional problems that seem to be repeated regardless of corporation culture (or so I’ve read). Taste of some of it. But not egregious.

  28. The use of keywords for prescreening resumes is very harmful: you can see why people are driven to it when you see the vast flood of replies that show for to any job ad or posting (many of them completely irrelevant to what is being looked for), but still, too much wheat being thrown out with the chaff.

    Another big issue is overspecification of requirements–someone cited in a WSJ article remarked that ‘companies are looking for a five-pound butterfly.’ I wrote about this phenomenon here:

    There is apparently also a trend in *dating* for people (especially women) to draw up long lists of ‘must-haves’ for potential relationship partners.

    1. I have seen resumes with a line of teeny-tiny white text down at the bottom chocked full of piles of current keywords, so that the HR resume screener tools will find them and pass them through the “throw out if they don’t list X” stage, but they don’t show up on screen or on paper when printed.

    2. “There is apparently also a trend in *dating* for people (especially women) to draw up long lists of ‘must-haves’ for potential relationship partners.”

      Wow. I guess the first question on date-night should be “do you have a list of must-haves to date you?” And if she does, I pay for her drink and take a walk.

      Must have list. Dang. Who the hell ARE these mutants?

      1. A list of “must-haves” can be a useful tool for screening out options that are immediately unsuitable.

        Obviously they must be genuine “must haves”… or perhaps a better phrase would be “Without which, nots”.

        For example, “Christian, willing and able to marry, and willing to have and raise children” isn’t such a terrible list of requirements, is it?

        Yes, I know that the women with “must-have” lists then to go for things like “Over 6′ tall, with green eyes and a full head of hair, making more than $250K per year, and living in a fashionable city”.
        That doesn’t mean that the mere existence of a list should be a strike on your “must have” list.

        1. It should here be noted that any men holding “must have” lists — such as “women applying should be fertile, have wide hips and pelvis capable of delivering babies with large craniums, and willing to stay home to raise and school offspring — are sexist and patriarchal and reeeeeeeeeee. reeeeeeeeeee, reeeeeeeeeee

        2. Problem is, some of these lists are extremely long, and the creators thereof don’t seem to realize that you can’t optimize everything at once. As I said at the link: If someone insists on a prospective husband who is an investment banker with a good sense of humor and cooks gourmet meals and really likes kids, then she might, if she is very lucky, eventually find someone who satisfies all these criteria to some degree…but the sense of humor might not be quite as great, and the liking for kids not quite as strong, as if she were willing to compromise on the investment banker and the gourmet meals criteria.

          Plus, of course, an awful lot of the attraction factors operate below the conscious level.

          1. Women are apparently willing to do quite a bit to fulfill their wish lists.

            Women are taking dominatrix classes to lure powerful Manhattan billionaires


            Like dozens of other ladies hungry to hook up with the billionaires who haunt the Upper East Side, Tribeca and other moneyed parts of town, Monroe has turned to Betsy Cox, the owner of Blackbook Concierge. A couple of months ago, Cox launched a one-of-kind class for women with a particular problem: understanding the sexual fetishes of the commanding men they sleep with.


            In her Soho loft, Cox hosts classes involving five well-heeled women and a dominatrix. The four sessions cost $2,000, total, and cover everything from the ABCs of BDSM (bondage and domination, sadism and masochism) to psychological techniques women can use in their love lives, e.g. “how to get into a man’s head” — and how to treat social, romantic and professional interactions like a game between a dom and a submissive.

            1. Headline: Women are taking dominatrix classes to lure powerful Manhattan billionaires

              Nobody told ’em that Fifty Shades of Grey was porn and not realistic at all, eh?

              1. Not only not realistic, but according to a hysterically funny blog series written by someone who is both an erotica writer AND in the BDSM scene, incredibly boring porn…

            2. Somebody needs to tell these women that they might need to go the other way around.
              Sure, yeah, I’m pretty sure there are powerful people who want to give up control in the bedroom for whatever reason. Much more likely is that they want either to maintain the level of control they have elsewhere, or have a meeting of equals.

        3. Yeah. Everyone has a discriminatory list of some kind–and they should, to a point–but I agree there are a lot of folks out there with stupid lists.

          The only time I ever rage-quit a group was an ‘older’ LDS singles group on Facebook (ie, 25-40, because us Mormons are weird and consider unmarried at 25 to be ‘old’, yes we would fit right in to Jane Austen’s society), and in a discussion between many of us women in the group regarding being foster moms or even adopting children we were informed by a sizable chunk of male idiots in the group that we shouldn’t even consider that, because THEY wouldn’t date a woman who already had kids or were ‘too old’ to have kids of their own.

          Those guys were getting eviscerated when I left the group, but it still really hacked me off that I figured I’d better leave before I said something I’d really regret, heh.

          So yeah, people have stupid lists.

          Mine is limited to “faithful member of same religion as me, thinks adopting or fostering children is awesome, isn’t opposed to the idea of homeschooling.”

          1. I can’t really say I blame any guys for not wanting to date a woman who was too old to have kids anymore. That does make the assumption that he wants to father children, his genetic children; and it’s silly to argue about a basic instinctual drive. Yes, fostering or adopting children is perfectly fine if you want to just raise kids and enjoy doing so (and hopefully are good at it.) And anyone whom you enjoy being with and they enjoy being with you is great if that’s all you both need and want.

          2. It’s up to the guy, of course, just as it is up to the woman about who wants to spend the rest of forever with whom–but the problem is those twerps were fishing in an “older singles” group, and then crapping all over the women in that same group for being too old. And for looking for other options to be parents beyond giving birth, such as fostering or adoption. I think it was more their attitude on the subject and the way they were so very rude and patronizing to the women discussing this subject (and who had not in any way sought their opinion on it) by framing it as “If you do this, we will not desire you and you’re a selfish, horrible person for even considering inflicting this upon some unsuspecting man and how DARE you consider parenting a child you did not give birth to. I will note that this lot shared a lot of crossover with the resident “Nice” Guys(tm) (ie, that subset who spent all their time complaining about how awful all women were and how we only wanted rich men/bad boys/other unrealistic expectations and when told–by women in the group that “No, actually, we don’t”–were informed that we were liars and evil. So yes, this was a set of a**holes to start with, it was just that the attitude of “I could never, ever possibly even consider parenting a child I hadn’t fathered” was the last straw for me, because willingness to adopt/foster is on MY list, and their general negativity was taking over that group.)

            But yeah, I agree no one is obliged to date or marry ANYONE for any reasons they like. And those reasons will always make them look like a jerk to someone, somewhere, and offend somebody. Which is why, thank all the Powers that Be, dating is NOT a commitment to marry the person! Honestly, the only time someone lands on the “irrevocable” jerk list for me is if they KNEW of heading into the relationship, made the vows anyway, and then use as a reason for either treating spouse badly or breaking/abandoning their vows of marriage*. (Or, in the case of those idiotic people–largely women, it seems–who think they are going to CHANGE/REFORM their bad-boy/girl spouse…and then are shocked when it goes badly. I’m always like “What the heck did you think was going to happen?? You knew what you were marrying.”)

            *Obviously, the exception here is for abuse of any kind. Abuse should never, ever be tolerated, and there are abusers out there who are VERY good at hiding what they are until the marriage vows are said.

            1. Argh. “Problems” is the missing word in there. It should have read “If they knew of problems” and then “used the problems as an excuse”

              I used pointy-brackets, intending “problems” to be ‘insert-problem-of-choice’ here, and forgot about stupid HTML tagging.

            2. Wellllll … when you get right down to it, most women are pretty awful. Almost as awful as most men. Humans, eh? As if you can help not being wallabies.

              OTOH, fishing in the koi pool and complaining about not catching trout is indicative of something, and not something particularly flattering.

              1. It’s true, we all suck at least some of the time. 🙂

                But yeah, their particular complaints finally annoyed me to the point that I was done giving them the benefit of the doubt.

                I have just as little patience–far less now than I used to–with women who complain about similar kinds of things going the other direction. “Men only want skinny blondes, only want dumb women, blah blah blah.” It’s just as untrue as the flip side–and I came to realize that it basically both sets of complaints boiled down to “I want Prince/Princess Charming to magically fall into my lap and love me without me having to do any work now or ever.” (It would be nice if it worked that way, I admit. But it doesn’t.) These are, I think, the folks who bought into the idea of ‘happy ever after’ not requiring anything but the wedding or the Big Damn Kiss or the bedroom scene, and missing the point that marriage or a relationship, like all worthwhile things, requires you to put work and care into it, and it’s a long haul.

      2. Second date my wife casually mentioned she wanted 14 kids. I asked her out on a 3rd sate. That was her screening process….

        In dating, there’s some rationale for a screening process. As long as the screen isn’t too fine…

        1. Hahahaha, my parents was a mutual ‘we want 7 kids’ though I don’t know if that came up BEFORE or after my mother laid the “By the way, I’ve been told by doctors that I can’t have children*” thing and then once dad had given his response (the very acceptable “That’s okay, we can adopt”) moved on to “Okay, how many?”

          It seems a good opening bid to get up early, just to avoid hurt or misunderstanding later down the road. Along with “Do you even want children” and “are you actually looking to get married” if marriage is something one party at least really wants.

          *Turned out, Mom COULD, though not without some issues including the loss of one shortly after birth. But they still adopted four anyway. (And those had their own set of hair-raising issues.) Five if we count the one who joined the family at age 20. 😀 So they hit that projected 7 kids. (8, really, because we DO count the unofficially adopted one.)

          1. By the way, I’ve been told by doctors that I can’t have children*”

            Possibly best ever last scene of any film.

            1. I have never actually seen this film. Having just now read a summary of it–and the ending–it sounds absolutely hilarious and looks like it needs to get on my “Need to watch” list!

              1. Oh. Em. Gee.

                I do not necessarily endorse their ratings, but in 2000 the American Film Institute critics voted Some Like It Hot” THE funniest film of all time, and any list which doesn’t include this in its top 10 is fatally flawed.

                01. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
                02. TOOTSIE (1982)
                04. ANNIE HALL (1977)
                05. DUCK SOUP (1933)
                06. BLAZING SADDLES (1974)
                07. M*A*S*H (1970)
                08. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)
                09. THE GRADUATE (1967)
                10. AIRPLANE! (1980)
                11. THE PRODUCERS (1968)
                12. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935)
                13. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)
                14. BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
                15. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)
                16. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)
                17. THE ODD COUPLE (1968)
                18. THE GENERAL (1927)
                19. HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940)
                20. THE APARTMENT (1960)

                1. Stupid flingers, typing without attending.

                  Some Like It Hot THE funniest film of all time, and any list which doesn’t include this in its top 10 is fatally flawed.

                  01. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
                  02. TOOTSIE (1982)
                  04. ANNIE HALL (1977)
                  05. DUCK SOUP (1933)
                  06. BLAZING SADDLES (1974)
                  07. M*A*S*H (1970)
                  08. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)
                  09. THE GRADUATE (1967)
                  10. AIRPLANE! (1980)
                  11. THE PRODUCERS (1968)
                  12. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935)
                  13. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)
                  14. BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
                  15. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)
                  16. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)
                  17. THE ODD COUPLE (1968)
                  18. THE GENERAL (1927)
                  19. HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940)
                  20. THE APARTMENT (1960)

                    1. I agree, that is over-rating the film (I’d certainly have His Girl Friday ahead of it, and I’d put YF ahead of Dr. Strangelove) but being as these are film critics they tend to reward certain types of “In” jokes.

                      Just proof you cannot account for funny.

    3. “Another big issue is overspecification of requirements”

      That’s easy — they’re gaming the H1B / H2B system by setting forth a list of requirements that no one can meet so they can say they couldn’t get any applicants who meet them and therefore they must import cheap labor.

  29. “I’ve seen crashes. I’ve heard of crashes from grandma. NONE OF THEM KILLED A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE POPULATION.”

    That’s because even in the Great Depression, we had a massively greater percentage of the population either actively engaged in farming or living in cities which could be supported from the farmers within 100 miles of the population centers without a supply and food preservation chain that depends on reliable electrical power.

    Same thing for medical supplies and medical treatment, BTW. WAY more home treatment. We lost people we wouldn’t lose today….. but you also didn’t have a cultural expectation that those people could and should be saved.

  30. “they’d (Germany) never got that — then vital — warm water port.”

    The port of Hamburg seems to serve the Germans more than adequately.

  31. But here’s the thing the rest of you aren’t thinking about: the rest of the world is in as bad or worse shape.

    In my lifetime, every time the USA lurched toward a serious economic crisis some major economy in the rest of the world (usually Europe but increasingly Asia too) blew up and their money took flight to safety, came pouring into the USA on very favorable (to the USA) terms, and bailed out the USA.

  32. Quote: It ties in well with their lack of experience and the “everything must happen/will happen now.”

    To that, I’d add having experiences that tell them what they read or hear is often a lie. When I was their age, the approved hysteria was that of a population bomb, with accompanying mass starvation. The real reason was abortion legalization targeting the poor and minorities, but we weren’t told that. And all you need do is look around and see that hysteria was a lie. Outside countries torn by warfare, we have obesity as a problem not starvation. And instead of too many people, we’ll soon have too few young people to support our elderly.

    It’s easy to see why the young are fooled. The entire culture of school revolves around “believe what you’re told and repeat it back.” That doesn’t encourage clear thinking, particularly in a sea of lies. That’s where parents can plan a role. They can point out to them, “Don’t believe everything you read.”

  33. My father used to say that if you owe the bank $10,000, the bank owns you, but if you owe the bank $10,000,000, you own the bank. The zeroes may be off these days, but the principle remains.

  34. He just couldn’t. What is he going to do? Stop social security?

    Heh, just realized something…. my mom “knew” in college that Social Security wouldn’t be there when she retired. (She’s actually collecting, right now, but we’ll see how long that lasts.)

    I’ve “known” the same, and I just realized that I was fussing about working enough years to qualify for SS.

    I probably already have enough (I worked part time as a child from age 13, and then the seven years in the navy, and part-time as farm help for several years after that) but I was actually assuming that it would be AROUND in the future.

    Heh. Mind traps.

    1. Ditto. Always figured the SS I was paying was going to my grandparents (surviving 3) and later to dad then mom too. Never figured I’d see it. I am in the group where full SS is at just short of 68. I am getting it now at the reduced rate, for as long as it lasts.

      Now if President Trump would actually get someone in the system to beat it up and only have those originally intended to be in the SS system, with all the other free loaders moved to other revenue streams, great … won’t hold my breath.

      1. Just imagine the screams if the kids who’ve been diagnosed as ADD/ADHD or whatever the current payout fraud is were suddenly not income streams…..

  35. For instance, if you forbid cloning, you’re guaranteeing cloning will be used for body parts (or whole-body transplants) instead of, say, for infertility issues, or to make a twin for your kid (which whatever you think of the morality, is infinitely more benign.)

    No, it will be used for body parts either way.

    Either way, humans as manufactured goods. We can even look at IVF and Surrogacy and see how “wonderfully” that goes.

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