The Self-Eating Snake

Ouroboros

There are many cliches denoting the self-perpetuating tropes. The self-licking ice cream cone. The man who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. And of course, Ourosboros, eternally consuming itself.

Normally these are used as a sort of instant image for something impossible.  Most of us — right? I’m not that weird? — at some age between two and five tried to sit on our own hands and wondered if we pulled up hard enough would it hold us up?  It didn’t.

Of all the myths of that kind, the one that always fascinated me was Ourosboros. Which can be a good, bad, or OMG why me? Symbol, I think.

I mean, it’s the symbol of the universe, eternally renewing. It’s appropriate for creatives, because in some ways we consume ourselves, and though we talk about filling the well, (none of us is completely isolated from the world) in the end what we feed into our stories is our time, our passion and bits of ourselves. (Into our painting, sewing, or other things too.)

It can be a symbol of eternity.  My engagement ring (which broke and I lost in our tenth anniversary, leading us to look for an anniversary ring, which conveniently was of the same type, though not quite) was an ourosboros snake with saphire eyes and diamond chip tail. It discomfited both families because engagement rings in Portugal are eternity rings. Here they’re solitaries.  This was a “these two are weird.” Me. We hope for eternity. For each of us, but for us too. We like each other.

I want to say that more than living in the crazy years, we live in the age of Ouroboros.  The ever-growing debt? Well, we can maintain ourselves by growing incrementally. Which means creative tech stuff.

And then there’s the negative stuff.  There is the snake that eats itself until you end up with a dead snake. Which is consuming the cultural side of our culture, particularly the places dominated by the left: entertainment, the arts, academia.

Look, most people never examine their own motivations. EVER. They particularly never examine what I would call “the wellsprings of their thought-orientation.”  This is good, probably, and a good evolutionary trait.

My entire family is afflicted with analyzing everything to death, which is why, realistically, we accomplish maybe a tenth of what we’re capable of.  On the other hand, it can free you from an Ouroboros trap.

Yesterday someone on my post on the Hong Kong elections said China can’t be so stupid that they thought demanding obeisance from our president would end well. Or that saying the students were a fringe group and suppressing them would end well. And I thought “of course they can.” In fact, it’s sort of inevitable.

As much as humans tend towards dictatorships, our one saving grace is that dictatorships and all closed information systems are their own punishment/death.  I.e. if the serpent can’t regenerate/get feed from outside, and keeps snacking enthusiastically on its own tail, eventually it dies.  Before it dies it becomes incredibly stupid.

This is kind of ironic because humans also love closed systems, where they can’t get surprises, particularly when they have power of some sort. Call it “Self patting machines.”  And they build them given half a chance.

Take traditional publishing — please, I don’t want it. — It had massive power in the beginning of the twentieth century. What it didn’t want to be seen, wouldn’t be seen. But d*mn it, sometimes the pesky reading public still got one in, still managed to make something a bestseller they didn’t see coming, still insisted on reading things that the increasingly closed-circle-leftist group that ran publishing didn’t think should be read.  So they ate faster. They tightened the circle. They hired and published only true believers, and when the laydowns crashed (guys, in the 70s a 75k laydown was considered bad and would end your careeer. Now?  Well, selling 3k to 5k is normal. 10k will get you fawned upon.  Now, these are hard copies of course. Traditional is notoriously bad at tracking ebook sales. They also price them not-to-sell.  So, who knows?) they made up stories about how TV and movies and then games were taking the readers away. (It’s funny, though, because they’re somehow magically re-appearing in indie.)  And when that stopped working they tried to force what they wanted to be the only thing read by going to the self-patting system of ordering to the net and telling the bookstores what to order.  That is in …. an interesting state of collapse, and the Earth shattering Kaboom won’t be far behind.

Or take Academia. No one was taking the courses they think are vital: mostly Marxist indoctrination, really, in various little dresses with capes of false erudition.  So first they demanded you take humanities courses, even for a science degree. Then they started removing actual courses anyone would want to take that was even vaguely mentally challenging and not regurgitating pap. (Yes, a great deal of pap had crept into say Western History) but they weren’t ALL pap.  Last time I looked, I couldn’t find a degree in Classical History in my area, and there’s ONE Latin class in 100 miles radius. Taught at inconvenient times.  Oh, they also suppressed any assistants and refused to give tenure to anyone who didn’t LOUDLY endorse the party line.

How is it going? Well, someone published a paper about the colleges likely to collapse in the next decade and had to take it down on threats of lawsuits. Because the snake will remain a closed system, damn it. It will. It won’t look at the list and look for correctives. It can’t look for correctives. It’s eaten only itself for so long, it can no longer even perceive alternatives exist, much less consider eating something alien to itself.

Journalism: the determined pursuit of that which is not news, the worship of credentials, and marginalizing of non-leftist reporters. The narrative uber alas.  Drinking their own ink, or eating their own tail, if you prefer.

I want to point out that in ALL these cases, as far gone as they are, the systems could still save themselves.  All it would take is discarding everything they think they know, and trying a COMPLETELY new approach.  Like, someone in Trad pub could take a look at what is succeeding in Indie, discard the holy writ of “a book, maybe two a year”, discard the idea that paper bricks ARE the product. Find a way to tabulate ebook sales for multiple authors. (It’s harder than you think. Yes, my husband has a system and a program. He does the books for a medium size indie. Even with the system and the program, when he’s doing them he invents new swear words.) Start a novel-factory, with shared worlds. Indie authors cannot write in shared worlds without … well, sharing (which brings up that royalty thing.)  Publicize hell out of the initial novels/worlds. And I mean insane levels of publicity, what they reserve for hyper best sellers (which don’t need it, but that’s something else.) The paper books will sell because people will collect them. Instant money.

Of course it would require them to discard a lot of things, like their idea of what sells, for instance, which is mostly acquired from their peers which right now are all flailing.

So why don’t they do it? Because they can’t. Between education and work experience, they have become unable to take in external information.  It would break their minds. And they would have to be willing to embrace it.  They would have to be able to take in ….intellectual input that isn’t themselves.

This is the problem of the PRC, to go back to above. They do incredibly stupid things, because in their system it WOULD work, and they can’t conceive of anything outside their system. They’ve never gone “Wait, why do I believe this?” and “What if it’s this instead?”  They’ve been in power so long they can’t even imagine doing that. The world is what their beliefs define, and Ouroboros eats well tonight. And as long as they last.

Our … oh, well, for lack of a better term, our Deep State, our entrenched bureaucracy has the exact same issue.

Look, I’ve been watching the sad spectacle and wondering how anyone SENTIENT can be taken in by it.  In fact, amid the general public, the only ones swallowing this nonsense are the headline-skimmers, who are fooled by the Mass Media’s Mass Illusion.

But why does the Mass Media buy it and hysterically try to perpetuate the illusion? Why do people who are obviously sane but embedded in the system buy it?  Even non-malevolent people?

I mean, okay, people like Schiff are malevolent, but the thing is even he THOUGHT he had something.

And our intelligence systems have been corrupt and insane for a while, even though it didn’t benefit them at all. Take their buying the USSR’s population figures or economic figures wholesale. Or now China’s. It makes no sense. A child could see the holes in those things.  (Or Heinlein. Who visited.) But they can’t. When facts prove them wrong it’s a shock, and they often hide the facts.

So, Ouroboros. See, it starts with credentialism and Academia, which was penetrated and largely controlled by the enemies of the US and sometimes outright communists by the 50s. And people hiring people who come from the right colleges, and sound GOOD to them.

Without realizing it, the wellsprings of all thought on the left (and Academia and bureaucracy are left-cultures, even if individual members try not to be) became the Marxist religion.

Man doesn’t live of bread alone. We live of narrative too.  Story, if you will.  We’re brief creatures, time is eternal. Story gives us a purpose and our place in it. It can be “I will live x number of years and raise my children well, and they will live after me and raise their children well.” But it always involves more.  “At the end of time we’ll be found worthy because we lived by x principles.”  “We are doing the righteous thing, because we follow x precepts.”

Most people don’t examine those precepts or where they come from. (Being religious makes it easier to know where they come from, and most religions are an improvement over the stuff fed the young ones now.)

And most precepts they’ve been fed, particularly at the elite-credential level that we get our bureaucrats from, are Marxism. The ideas of how things happen goes back to Marx, from revolutions to international peace, to the relative strength of countries.

These people really, honestly — at least a lot of them — want to serve our country. It’s just that all their ideas rest on not only wrong but bizarre foundations originating in the mind of a 19th century grifter who was good at one thing only: creating a closed and plausible narrative.

This is why, for instance, they “know” nationalism is wrong bad evil think.  Because workers of the world are all the same, of course. (Weirdly Marx was nationalist. But some of his construction hinted at internationalism, and that’s the train that ran away after WWI and WWII.) Or that, honestly, a president shouldn’t do anything the bureaucrats oppose, because history has nothing to do with individuals. It’s all “mass movements.”

Mostly, what we’re seeing play out in the house, is the panic of Ouroboros when it realizes there is something outside itself, that doesn’t conform to itself. In human societies this always involves hysterical doubling down.

Eat faster, snake. That tail is poisoned, and it will spell the end of you.

And maybe, over time, society will free itself of your poisonous assumptions.

Even if your death throws are going to throw us all into disorder.

Build under, build over, build around. Get ready to take the weight of the sclerotic self-eating structures when they collapse.

Because I expect an Earth shattering Kaboom.

184 responses to “The Self-Eating Snake

  1. The self-eating snake I can handle — it’s the snake inserting its head in its rectum that I’ve real trouble with.

  2. William H. Stoddard

    I spent decades living in what looked like historical stasis, with the same businesses dominating the economy, the same unions controlling labor, and the same parties running government. Now we have “interesting times” and I’m simultaneously scared shitless, relieved, and fascinated to see what comes next.

    Maybe a year ago, I was visiting friends in San Diego county, and the conversation turned to the evils of immigration restrictions. So I told them about the British cities that had Muslim rape gangs targeting underage girls. They were reluctant even to believe me! After I was back home, C told me that one of them had said to her (on FB, I think) that I shouldn’t rely on the Daily Mirror for news stories. As it happened, I had not referred her there, and hadn’t even looked at it; after I heard about the first report I read the Guardian article and then took a look at the actual government report. But as soon as she found a discreditable source that she thought I MIGHT have consulted, she immediately concluded that I must be relying on that, rather than looking to see if there was a more, ah, respectable source—seemingly what she wanted was not to find out if it was true but to find out if there were any way to dismiss it. I think that could be called a form of confirmation bias; in any case it’s a powerful cognitive mechanism.

    • Ah yes, I remember those decades of stasis, with Detroit producing cars of increasingly lower quality and Ma Bell’s biggest advance being the Princess phone. But the middle managers and the union guys lived comfortably, so there was that.

      As for “relying on the Daily Mirror” … only a fool relies on single sourced news, be it Fox or CNN/NBC/ABC/MSM. As you observed, the news is merely a starting point, calling a thing to your attention so that you may conduct your own investigation into underlying facts.

      This is why legitimate articles tell you their sources (e.g., not anonymous “whistleblowers”) and scholarly works provide footnotes enabling interested parties to independently confirm, f’r instance, that Michael A. Bellesiles is a lying piece of dog excrement that gives false scholarship a bad reputation.

      • Anybody familiar with the Epoch Times?

        They look alright at a brief glance, founded by Chinese refugees, but I haven’t had time to fiddle around much.

        • Instapundit links to it, but then Instapundit also linked to the World Socialist Web Site (An interview with historian James McPherson on the New York Times’ 1619 Project) the other day …

        • Well, Larry Elder is using them as his Youtube platform, which I take to be a plus vote. Apparently they’ve been around close to 20 years, but that, and a few YT ads, was the first I’d seen of ’em. (Tho they need to get someone other than a flaming soyboy to be their advertising face.)

          Significant enough that their printing office in HK was recently firebombed by (apparently gov’t) thugs, which I take to be another plus vote.

        • I’ve heard them mentioned positively by a few commenters over at Ace’s blog (including Zombie) as the best English-language news source for information on China. They do have some sort of link to Falun Gong (they are not owned by an FG organization, but seem to have what I suspect are personal ties to some of the adherents), but aside from that I’m not aware of any bias issues. About half of the China articles that they print are from AP. The other half have the journalist who wrote the article listed as the source.

        • Directrix Gazer

          Epoch Times is run by the Falun Gong, so they have a definite slant on anything to do with either the Falun Gong directly (i.e. yay!) or China more generally (i.e. PRC boooo! Anything that gives the party heartburn yay!). Once you know that they’re not bad. Better than many other, more mainstream news sources even on China issues, as long as you learn how to read between the lines.

          • No matter the source a person needs to know how to read between the lines, separate statements of fact from opinions about what that means and also pay attention if the facts or quotes given as rhetorical support for the rest actually do provide that support.

            It should be possible to do that no matter the news source or if you like what they’re saying or not.

            The only true disqualifier should be if the facts are wrong and even the Inquirer starts with a kernel of truth most of the time. (Except maybe for the Bat Boy.) LOL, that reminds me of a tabloid article way back when I was in college… Headline, “Rochelle Welch Nude Photo Scandal!” When I read it turned out, “Someone put Rochelle Welch’s head on a nude photo of someone else and it was a scandal.” (Oh for the days before photo-shop!)

        • I’ve seen some of their stuff through repostings. They seem solid and they tick off the PRC and the left, so.

    • Most definitely cognitive bias. “I’ve been told all non-Westerners are good. All Westerners, bad. Therefore, evidence of bad non-Westerners must be dismissed as racist and phobic on the part of those showing me this information. Can’t be that I swallowed bile.”

  3. Well, I did the hands thing too. Although that should probably be taken as confirmation of Oddness, not refutation.

    The exercise is, of course, a perfect example of Newton’s Third. Unfortunately, society is not physics – you can pretty much bet on an opposite reaction, but it is very unlikely to be an equal one.

    (OT – hoping that you and yours are keeping warm. The clan here has been digging out the winter coats, and my thermometer right now says 51…)

    • Winter gear is accessible. Fired up the ‘global warming’blower and ran it a while to be sure it runs well and will start easily. Reserve fuel for vehicle. $HOUSEMATE is tanking up now, before the storm starts here. Glad to have the night off. An appointment an hour away tomorrow might need to be re-scheduled, depending on how much reality matches the immediate-term forecast model.

      • My old GWB (global Warming Blower) was dying so I went and got a new one that won’t take so much of my (ebbing) physical prowess to move. All of you in the North East /New England can think me for a winter with limited snow…

        • This reminds me that my global warming blower refused to start the other day when it snowed, which is how I got all the gravel on the lawn. I will have to break out the tools before it snows again.

          And yes, buying a new snowblower does prevent snow. Ask anyone who’s done it.

      • I just got a nearly full bucket of gravel off the front lawn from where all the global warming melted.

        New tractor owners beware, the scraper blade takes a lot more off the driveway than snow even when you’re being careful. ~:D

        • There’s supposed to be a setting specifically to prevent degravelling your driveway, but it’s not available on cheap blowers, or so the guy at Ace told me when I was showing a morbid but futile interest in Global Warming Blowers, all of which are beyond my budget.

          However, I do have a scary collection of shovels and scrapers, poised and waiting. And a driveway that’s not only larger than my house, but =must= be cleared every time, because there’s nothing quite like the fun of sloping concrete that gets just enough sun to turn the smallest accumulation into a sheet of glass.

          • Per Elf, it’s that you can adjust how high the blades go.

          • I’m a lazy boi, I just used the scraper box behind my tractor. The notion of using a shovel fills me with dread.

            Scraper box picked up a bunch of gravel for sure. My global warmening blower has a little doodad on the back that sets the depth of cut, to avoid throwing gravel I just raise it up an inch or so.

            But the problem with the blower is I have to -walk- behind it. With the tractor I can be Lazy Boi and ride. ~:D

            • I use a front snowplow blade (on float, with shims to set height) and a rear blade set to “just enough”. It gets interesting if the snow gets really dense. We had light stuff, but it’s warming up overnight. Gonna be messy.

            • If conditions are favorable, I’ll have the front blade set right, and the rear set left. So, I can do one pass going down the road, then switch active blades on the return for another swath. When it’s really heavy stuff, forget it.

              • I read this as relating to the people doing the shampeachement. It’s telling that my first thought was “All Right!”

              • Sounds like you have a proper tractor. I have one of those little teensy compact baby ones. Has a 3 point though, so it can do a lot for its size. I love that thing, it is such a help.

                • It’s not huge; still a compact utility with 25 real HP. It handles a 5′ brush mower and a 6,5 foot bucket. The 6′ snow blade is a bit heavy, though with a back blade for ballast, the tractor is stable. (Worksaver made the front blade, and I got it through a local tractor dealer in town.) For pine needles, I made a 9′ rake from hay rake tines.

                  We couldn’t do much with our property without the tractor. The loader and bucket are useful, and the fork lift setup has done a lot. One can also use the auger/posthole digger to do a trench with persistence…

                  When the budget permits, I’d like to trade it for a similar sized (3000 series) Deere with a hydrostatic transmission. We have a garden tractor with one, and $SPOUSE loves it for land cleanup. Makes it easier to mow what passes for a lawn on our place, too.

      • If you get a 2,000 horsepower turbo-diesel Super Global Warming Blower, you’ll also be ready for a pack of zombie werewolves…

      • I got front and rear blades on the Deere CO2 factory. $SPOUSE and I shoveled the deck a fewtimes (wraparound decks have their uses; aerobic snow shoveling is a thing), but the GWB is still in the shed. Need to get it to the barn so I can clear a path to the pumphouse and its solar array. After clearing a couple inches of Gorebull Warming off the panels, I was getting all of 150 watts. I have to keep an eye on the system; might need to switch to mains in the morning. I keep resisting bringing the generator into play. It’s old, and grumpy this time of year.

        Plowing in the morning. What fun. Whee.

        We’re in winter advisory through tomorrow afternoon, but the Cascades have a blizzard warning tonight. Yecch!

      • The WordPress comment muncher is active tonight…

        I put the front and back blades on the Deere, so that’s 25HP worth of CO2. So far, maybe 6-8 inches where we are, though it’s hard to judge because of wind. The southern Cascades have a blizzard warning tonight; not a good thing.

        However, between that, a bit of shoveling snow ($SPOUSE did 3/4s of the first round of the deck*, while I did the 1/4 and the second) and getting snow off the pumphouse solar array (to no avail; got all of 125 watts), I didn’t get to the blower. I’ll need that soon, to get to the pumphouse and array.

        (*) The house came with a wraparound deck, fastened with self-loosening nails. Which I did *not* get to reseat over the summer. Arggh.

  4. It discomfited both families because engagement rings in Portugal are eternity rings. Here they’re solitaries.

    EXPN?

  5. “Look, most people never examine their own motivations.”

    Got that right. Even if they ask themselves, “Is what I’m doing right?” They almost never ask, “Why am I doing this?”

    In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the ouroboros eats tonight.
    In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the ouroboros eats tonight.
    Ah weeee….

    You know, I really prefer the man-made carbon crystals. You can get a HUGE rock for only $10 a carot. Heck, the gold costs more than the diamond! And you don’t have to worry about whether someone was killed digging it out of a hole in the ground or transporting it to you.

    • If you care to do a little clicking on “synthetic diamonds”, you’ll find some interesting articles on how much they’re getting up the noses of the people who mine and market natural diamonds. Not just “de Beers”, but several nations where diamond export is an economic/political issue.

      • I’ll bet you the manufactured colored stones are doing a job on things too. The Ruby/Sapphires are seriously cheap compared to their natural cousins. And way better in color and clarity. Emeralds are getting there (and with them the rest of the Beryl family). And yes certain persons in South Africa are sweating twinkies over the diamonds.

        • Heh. How do you tell the difference between natural and man-made?
          Natural ones have flaws.

          Hmm. I wonder if we’ll ever have similar observations about natural versus synthetic humans?

          • If they are made by humans, they will have flaws. Quite likely *different* flaws, but… flaws. Leaving aside, of course, chasing perfection is all well and good- but once it is reached, a new level opens up. There is always a new level of efficiency, and so on.

          • Right part of the nature of the manufacured stones is they are so beautifully clear and strong colored. A natural emerald (that mere mortals can afford) will be a pale green with a waxy/cloudy kind of look. Even a meh manufactured one is sparkling and clear and deep green. Oh and a 10th to a 50th the cost…

            • I am hard-core looking forward to being able to buy my teen girls diamonds in colors that look more like emeralds.

              I know natural ones exist, and look kinda like wilted grass, and I couldn’t afford them anyways.

              SCIENCE!

              • Yeah Emeralds are hard. The manufactured ones are gorgeous but the process for beryl type gems is still complicated so the cost drop isn’t as great as for the corundum (Sapphire/Ruby) gems. It may be diamonds may be the easiest of the bunch, and yes they come in green though closer to Peridot or green tourmaline. Still quite pretty. Maybe if I have red headed grand daughters some day…

    • Donald Stephens

      Most people never examine their results, let alone their motivations. It ties right back to yesterday’s discussion on ‘good intentions’. If you don’t make a serious effort to check if your results match your intentions, then you don’t have good intentions; you’re only trying to look good.

      • Increasingly it seems to me there is a whole class of people who don’t make the connection between cause and effect, actions and consequences. Not necessarily the poor, either.

        • William H. Stoddard

          No, no, the point is actually that having consequences is unfair. And probably racist.

        • If you look not very deeply at all into moral relativism- something taught in nigh every public school in America- you may find that it is being explicitly taught.

          By destroying absolutes, i.e. right and wrong, good and evil, smart and dumb, the causal link between action and result is broken. It is quite literally built right in to the programming. Math is racist. Logic is sexist. And so on.

          It is so intellectually lazy it never has to make sense. Never has to justify its positions. And never, ever allows an inconvenient fact, because facts are cisnormative, too.

          This is how you get primacy of feelings over facts. Without absolutes, it is all… relative. Relative to you, how you feel, and so on. Did it ever strike you that leftists seem… self centered? So full of “care,” but only so long as it isn’t terribly inconveniet? This is a big reason why.

          Moral relativism comes from the same place Marxism does, as does nihilism and post-modernism. Note, Marx was not himself a relativist- but his work dovetailed so well with it that modern leftists accept it as a complete package. Political correctness is a relatively newer entry into that dark pantheon.

          They all seek something that already exists, but deny the answer it gives them. A moral relativist can’t claim primacy of one culture over another, so neither saint nor cannibal rapist can be raised above the other if that is their culture. A Marxist will never claim that capitalism feeds more people and frees more individuals than any “new” old commie/socialist system can. The Nihilist like the relativist can give no thing but nothing itself value, and the post modernist dismisses objectivity itself in the vain search for meaning.

          Wishful thinking instead of a pastime becomes policy. A man can be a woman, you can spend your way out of debt, appeasing despots and terrorists will bring safety, and so on. And when you say such things, and people nod their heads, you feel powerful. Vindicated. History is replete with examples of why this is a bad idea…

          *shakes head*

          These are just my impressions based on a cursory study of the matter. There is a *lot* more detail the more you delve in to these things. A lot of it is not pretty. There is quite a bit of misinformation running about as well. Whole educational departments fester with the rot (and incidently, I wholeheartedly agree with our host that colleges are in their death throes). If you mention these things in open campus, there will be ridicule (at least, there was once upon a time. Now, there may be riots). Otherwise intelligent people will give you layer upon layer of argument, earnest counterpoint, and impassioned pleas. All built upon a foundation of shifting sand.

          Lest you think it worse than it is- and its bad enough- consider this. Children graduate and move into the real world. Bills must be paid, they can’t all live in their parent’s basement. Jobs must be done. A leaking roof cares not at all for the virtue of the head beneath, nor a stuck transmission for the gender in the driver’s seat. We (nearly- there are the special ones) all act as if absolutes exist, even if some deny it. Despite all the wishes, court cases, impeachment hearings, magic spells, and screams at the sky, Trump is still their president too. Despite the truly massive, corrupt fraud machine that stood against us.

          And when all of this is accomplished, and the Brave New World begins
          When all men are paid for simply existing and no man must pay for his sins
          As surely as water will wet us
          As surely as fire will burn…

          We are fortunate that the copybook gods have stayed their hand thus far. Truly, Himself looks out for drunks, little children, and the United States of America. There is comfort in that. Not complacency. Our Liberty is like a machine. It requires maintenance and effort on our part- like anything made by man. That is a good thing.

          • The Relativistic Idiots tend to be over-represented in the media, and often it’s the amplified REEEEEE! of a few spoiled children hitting the real world for the first time and not liking what they are experiencing.
            For instance, ponder just how many of the self-pitying Waaaaa! articles in Slate, Huff Po, et al come from the same small bunch of Noo Yawk based Clickbait Serfs.
            Even on the Left, the number that fully buys into the whole intersectionalism nonsense of the Radicals is lower than one thinks.

            • I wouldn’t mind accelerating some of those idiots to relativistic speeds and setting them on an outbound vector.

              • Except that might be construed as an Act of War by any polity which those outgoing packages might ‘intersect’.

  6. I always like reading books about interesting times … I didn’t know that soon I’d be living in interesting times…

  7. In China, the problem predates the PRC by several centuries. They consider themselves the center of the world, the ‘Middle Kingdom’ and everyone else barbarians. And always have. So, among other things, they don’t borrow well, and their tech tends to not adapt to things for outside as quickly as some other cultures.

    The ‘dictators seldom hear anything that might make them angry’ is arsenic frosting on top.

    • Three thousand years of “We alone are civilized and our way is the only way” is hard to change. China’s culture survived because it did have some strengths to it, and so that was taken to mean that it was the Only Way. Alas that Europeans, who had been bouncing off of lots of other cultures and fighting each other to sort if there was an Only Way, had to upset the rice bowl.

      • China also had the “advantage” in that they were able to successfully absorb invading cultures. The “Han” ethnicity has picked up additional groups that once upon a time were considered seperate and distinct, much as “white” in the US is a mix of Poles, Italians, English, and *whisper* Irish! /shudder

        But even though the Han “acquired” all of those new ethnicities, they apparently still kept a core culture.

      • I expect that everybody here knows about it, but I’ll just drop mention of THE BRIDGE OF BIRDS here. I was reminded of it because of a bit the author wrote in one of the three books in the series about a man being promoted for “losing enough battles in the proper manner”.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Set in “A China That Never Was”.

          Now does that mean the Real China was worse or better? 😈

        • Sadly, that’s a universal trait of any culture that has an aristocratic class. Pratchett riffed on a similar theme in Jingo when mocking whichever of the various Lord Rusts it was that made an appearance in that book.

          And it’s happened to a degree even in the US. One of the problems that Lincoln always had to deal with during the Civil War was politically connected generals who had to be given a leadership role due to their political connections, but who weren’t actually very good. The trick was in finding them a spot that would soothe their egos without leading to catastrophe.

          There was also the trouble getting Grant promoted. But that was the opposite problem.

          • I’ve read a biography of Grant that provides a slightly different angle on the business of Lincoln’s generals.

            (GRANT by Jean Edward Smith, BTW)

            In the Civil War era, the theory of the War of Maneuvers was supreme. It was taught in all the best military academies, and very few people who didn’t buy in rose high enough to matter.

            Grant was less concerned with trying to maneuver his opponent into a hopeless position, from which he would (in theory) surrender than he was in destroying the enemy’s ability to fight. His apprenticeship in the Mexican War had taught him logistics, too.

            Now, some of the Union generals were idiots with connections (so were some of the Confederate generals), but ANOTHER problem was that the theory of the War of Maneuvers was an intellectual exercise, not a practical one.

            I don’t insist on this. It’s what I took away from the book. Made me look at other wars to see if intellectual fashion of the times had had an effect.

            • Directrix Gazer

              The only problem I can see with that theory is that Grant himself was damned good at maneuver warfare. See the Vicksburg Campaign for the best example of this (there’s a great essay on it in Makers of Modern Strategy, IIRC).

              • Maneuver is always important. But the War of Maneuvers school made it the bee-all and end-all…at least according to Smith.

                In reading since, I have noticed that between wars, military theory Zoe’s tend toward extremes.

                Or I may be too much an armature to understand.

                *shrug*

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Grant could have been good at maneuver warfare but also knew when it wasn’t useful. 😉

          • Pretty much every army in every war starts off with a deadweight of flag ranked placeholders, suckup artist, and other well connected incompetents.
            The question is can the nation weed them out and replace them with competent leaders before it’s too late?
            Hitler was well on his way to doing just that right up until Moscow, then began to replace the good generals with lackeys and yes-men. Defeat, repeat.
            Stalin put the competent back into operation, and was smart enough to wait until the war was safely won before purging the victorious leaders.

            • Hitler had successfully out thought his generals early on, with things like the adoption of Guderian’s blitzkrieg theories, and the plan for the invasion of France. So he began to think he knew better than his generals did. Add to that the fact that he knew the army held him in contempt, and the results were completely predictable.

              • He did start off before the war with a lot of generals who were both timid and extremely conventional. By the time of the invasion of France, they had mostly been replaced by men like Von Manstein, Gudierian, Rommel, et al.
                But, disagreements over Hitler trying to play general began to pop up (the hold fast order that allowed the Brits to evacuate at Dunkirk comes to mind). Later on, in Russia, the disagreements became more open, and the good generals were sacked in favor of the toadies, and that tended to get worse as the war wore on- especially after the post Valkyrie purges.

                GROFAZ was a lot like the amateur gambler who gets lucky early on, and thinks he’s got the system to beat the house. So he keeps playing when he should fold, and blows his winnings, and more besides waiting for his luck to come back.

          • At one point in his autobiography, Grant praises the “uncommon patriotism” of one General Terry. That was the guy who realized that Grant was trying to shuffle him aside so as to put Sheridan in command of the Shenandoah Valley campaign — and tendered his resignation.

        • This is also really good. romance of the 3 Kingdoms

  8. Most of us — right? I’m not that weird? — at some age between two and five tried to sit on our own hands and wondered if we pulled up hard enough would it hold us up?  It didn’t.

    No, but I did climb up on the mantle piece, jumped off and tried curtsying as before I landed under the influence of Lewis Carroll.

    FromAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 1, Down the Rabbit Hole:

    … (and she tried to curtsy as she spoke — fancy curtsying as you’re falling through the air!  Do you think you could manage it?)

  9. Call it “Self patting machines.”

    I calls it “self-abuse” and if you doesn’t stop you’ll end up blind.

  10. with capes of false erudition.

    You say “erudition”, I sat “eructation” but really, what’s the difference?

  11. You can tweak a model when it doesn’t fit the data, but at some point so many contradictions build up that the model breaks (see geocentric vs. heliocentric solar system and math.) Or it used to, until data fudging became an international sport.

    When a foreign leader, who has nothing to gain or lose, is saying, “Um, it didn’t happen like that and I was on the other end of the conversation,” the model ought get tossed.

  12. the systems could still save themselves.
    When The Denver Post went up for sale, I had a very simple plan for saving it (oh would that I could have afforded to buy it): Gather all the reporters in a room and ask, “If you became a journalist to change the world, raise your hand.” Wait a beat. “If your hand is up, you’re fired.”

    I believe that saving journalism really is that simple. (Well, dealing with “click-bait creates revenue” is also an issue, but once a reputation is (re)established, I think it becomes a lesser concern.)

  13. Of course it would require them to discard a lot of things,


    Dramatization of Intellectuals admitting error.

    I spent a lot of George W Bush’s administration chortling over Deep State advocates criticizing W as arrogant for not taking their advice.

    Their advice being what had gotten us into the situation in the frst place.

  14. Why do people who are obviously sane but embedded in the system buy it?

    There was once a time when becoming educated entailed a great deal of self-reflection and analysis, searching out one’s blind spots and finding means of detecting what you couldn’t see. Education involved more testing of knowledge than warehousing of it, because it was acknowledged that false knowledge was worse than ignorance.

    Nowadays? Sorry, I’m retreating to my safe space.

    • Becoming Educated still does. Getting a certificate of graduation from a University, OTOH, has always been hit-or-miss. The Universities, going well back to the Middle Ages, have always functioned as daycare for upper class twits without occupation, to some degree.

    • I used to believe in the myth that academic scholars were seeking out new knowledge. I was much disappointed to find that in the one area where I thought I had found something original, that was much more the exception than the rule. My claims were met with such resounding indifference that I am at present daunted from trying to press them.

  15. This was a “these two are weird.”

    So, truth in advertising then? : – )

  16. Dictator’s dilemma is a real thing. The dictator cuts off information so that people won’t question the edicts. Problem is, that also cuts off information from the dictator. So, s/he doesn’t know what info is actually floating around out there. They also don’t know who to trust. Thus, they never pick a successor, nor do they let any info in. They get ousted either by internal party forces or external citizen/rebel forces. it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I’m not teaching American politics next year, but I am teaching comparative. Gonna be interesting…to match the times.

    • I’m doing US Gov this year. At least I have a lot of fodder for current event assignments . . . *tired kitty sigh*

    • APUS. We don’t have comparative in the rotation this cycle.

    • Sometimes the lack of information is a cultural thing, with sub-leaders inflating their accomplishments, which are based on the already inflated accomplishments of their own subordinates.

      One of the presidents of Egypt was aware of this problem in war time. He also knew that the Istaelis had poor radio discipline, and units in the field tended to send unencrypted messages. So he built a giant receiver tower near the border of Israel. And the next time Egypt went to war with Israel, he was able to keep track of the location of the front lines by ignoring his subordinates, and eavesdropping on the Israelis.

    • William H. Stoddard

      Yes, this is in Illuminatus! as the Law of Nescience (I think): when decisions are centralized, the people making the decisions know nothing.

      A book I edited a few years ago described the practice in ancient China of sending people out to record what the popular songs were about, so the government would be better informed.

      • It has been reported that the KGB used to use satellite data to try and estimate what the actual Soviet harvest was.
        Because of course everyone reported record crop yields.

    • How can the boss learn what is actually going on? Peter the Great of Russia would disguise himself. You have the TV show “undercover boss” where the boss sees what is actually happening. Who do you trust?

      Unless you have a very strange organization where people who bring up problems are rewarded, problems just get worse. In cities under the control of the left there is a “housing crisis”, where the limits they put on building, create a shortage. So now even more power must be centralized to “solve” the problem.

      What don’t I know, that I need to know? Every manager should have this sign at his desk to be humbled and ask, and keep asking. If you are sure you know the answer, remember this: The more certain you are the harder it is to find the truth.

  17. Happy Thanksgiving to Mrs. Hoyt and all the Huns! I’m running off for a reunion in southern Utah.

  18. I got my BA in History rather than English because I didn’t want to take Chaucer (not really English IMO, even Shakespeare can be difficult across 500 years but no sane man would mess with the language to modernize it). I chose history because I wanted to have a background in something to write about. Reading the actual congressional testimony in the 1920s immigration debates was greatly enlightening. Debating with a professor about whether FDR deliberately caused Pearl Harbor was one of my most enlightening experiences on the use of facts and evidence. Studying history changed one of my early stories about bullfighting (which I knew nothing about except Hemingway’s romanticized notions). I recommend the study of history (in original sources) as the best false narrative buster. That is why I’ve always remembered this article: https://conprotantor.blogspot.com/2008/05/value-of-ivy-league-degree.html. Unfortunately not in the original source where I found it back in the early ought’s, but it’s as I remember it. The “elites” who populate our national bureaucracy are woefully ignorant and arrogantly proud of it.

  19. Speaking of political snakes, for anyone who hasn’t yet seen this: if you’re in a hurry, start about p60, but the whole thing is enlightening:

    https://www.docdroid.net/file/download/DtiLYBH/bender-affidavit.pdf

    Damning testimony about Qatar’s behavior and how Ilhan Omar is probably a Qatar asset.

    • Oh, my. And this is the person elected by a majority of the people in my district (who bothered to vote) to represent them in Washington DC. I’m so proud . . .

  20. Another thing, pointed out often over here, is that Dictatorships aren’t all that good at raising people who can lead dictatorships.
    Anyone with potential leadership skills are seen as threats, so they’re done away with. After a couple of generations, you get a bunch of Yes Men who are really good at CYA and Passing the Buck and Stealing the Credit and other manifestations of the Bureaucratic game- but not actually leading. Risk taking, defending an unpopular (but right) course of action, standing out- all of those are necessary for leadership, but dangerous.

    This may be why the Chicoms haven’t crushed Hong Kong yet. There’s a serious risk, and the Politburo is not able to really bring itself to taking risk like that.

  21. Re the PRC – See the review of Andrew McCarthy’s latest book that Insty linked to today at https://pjmedia.com/spengler/a-national-nightmare-andrew-mccarthy-exposes-the-plot-against-the-president/

    Note the PRC view, that ISIS was created by Petraeus under the cover of the Iraq Surge as a weapon aimed at the Ruling Han Chinese Party. This is the only thing that makes sense in their worldview: It cannot possibly be that the Americans could not see that their arming and training and paying off the Sunni Tribes in a country that is majority Shia, and which used to be ruled by the Sunnis, would have unforeseen impacts down the road. No, it must be a clever plan, and obviously it is a clever plan aimed at the PRC, since they are the center of all things.

    It is the mind-Ouroboros, relating all things back to the self, which cannot possibly even recognize anything not relating to itself. And as with Hong Kong, all things not originated by the Ruling Han Party are a threat, and all threats must be obliterated.

    • At the heart of paranoia is narcissism. The only thing scarier than the notion they’re out to get you … is the notion you are so unimportant no one cares about you.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        LOL 😆

        A co-worker told me about having a mental health councilor said to her “How important you must be to have everybody talking about you”.

        I actually laughed out loud because those words could have been said to me.

        IE I’ve had periods when I thought “everybody was out to get me and talked about me behind my back”. 😆

      • “… the notion you are so unimportant no one cares about you.”

        you have to be kidding. You can get away with so much more if you stay under my the radar.

  22. It is the mind-Ouroboros

    One thing those living in a hall of mirrors cannot believe is a straight-line view.

  23. half the discussion for the impeachment inquisition errr inquiry is leaving me pulling my hair out going “NO, that’s not ‘quid pro quo’ that’s negotiation, which IS the responsibility of the President…”

    sigh

    • I’ve been in a state of ANGER over this and thinking I was very weird. Then I heard Bill Whittle say “Everyone is” even middle of the road Republican ladies in New Hampshire.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        I think I’m not /angry/, but with my level of self knowledge, I might find myself loosing a swear filled diatribe on this with no clue it was bubbling up.

        You all know that I was potentially persuadable that Trump was really bad, that impeachment was legitimate. So far, no joy. And some of the process and noise has managed to raise the level of proof I would want to see.

        And I was ready to be persuaded, so long as the standards used on him were applied fairly to everyone, and not specially invented just for him. I was even willing to roll out an ultra-paranoid xenophobic standard of scrutiny for public officials. (It took one of Cocaine Mitch’s tweets the other day to convince me his wife hadn’t been influencing him to favor the PRC. )

        I can understand why the Democrats aren’t concerned. Being democrats, they feel that they will always be the lynch mob, never the lynchee. Plus, Hillary is genuinely of the opinion that she is hard done by, unfairly persecuted, and this is simply fair reciprocation. That stuff maybe isn’t fresh enough for me to be angry about.

        I am convinced that Hillary and her proxies are of such poor character that even if Trump decided to run on the literal Nazi ticket, that his relatively good character would merit a vote. (In my navel gazing on this, I had forgotten that I had established such a test precisely for extreme contingencies. I am thankful that I remembered. I can stop worrying about the stress warping my mind, and stick to precedent of previous insanity.)

      • I’m angry, you’re angry, more or less everybody to the right of Lenin is angry. Even the ringleaders of this travesty have started to notice, with recent polls showing support from independents dropping well below a majority, and Dem reps in even some very blue districts announcing their lack of support for more of it. While it is likely a realization of political reality rather than any sudden outbreak of morals or honor among them, it may represent the start of a return to normalcy. (Hey, a guy can hope.)

        • Not only that, I suspect the anger level of “ordinary Americans” is getting high enough that we may start seeing “adverse actions” taken directly against the elected and appointed politicians promoting this toxic waste dump. And of course the media are just adding fuel to the first trying to create such incidents to promote their own shows and ratings.

          • Last thing I want to see are “adverse actions” taken directly against the elected and appointed politicians promoting this toxic wasted dump. I don’t want the likes of shitty Shiffty, etc., becoming martyrs* to the cause.

            * That was difficult to find the correct spelling!

            • True. The attack on the Congressional baseball game was chilling. But I suspect we’ll see similar actions in the future. There’s always a first, but unfortunately, there never seems to be a last.

    • Why can’t they just ignore it, like they did all those millions in ‘campaign contributions’ the Clintons got from the communist Chinese?

  24. It looks like a hoop snake to me.

    • We’re too far west for hoop-snakes, and too far east for side-hill gaugers. We just have jackalopes.

      • The reason the hoop snake bites its tail is to let it roll, and so travel much, much, much faster than slithering.

        It gets around.

        (That is, when it’s not poisonous, and does not die in agony from its own bite.)

  25. “International Socialism” is just the Soviet Empire by another name.

    Euphemisms and treachery. The point isn’t the point; the Revolutions is always the point.

  26. “International Socialism” is just the Soviet Empire by another name.

    Euphemisms and treachery. The point isn’t the point; the Revolution is always the point.

  27. I’m not sure when I started seeing the image of Ouroborous as a snake eating itself. I had always seen it as Jormungandr, and it letting go of its tail would signal the end of the world.

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