Are you in the Path of the Steamroller?


Are you in the path of the steamroller?

When I talk about catastrophic technological change, that’s more or less what it is.

Look, it’s generally a good thing, okay? The technology we now have makes specialized production possible. It makes it possible for someone with an idea to create something and put it for sale without intermediaries.

But few science fiction writers and even fewer “futurists” saw what it would do to various sectors of the economy.

Because, I mean, the net? What’s the big deal? In the nineties, it was some geeks talking at each other over the internet, right?

But, ah…  Then it turned out you could buy things over the net.  And then…. yep, the whole massive ball of wax exploded.

Apparently most of the purchases on black Friday were online, which is not surprising.

I can tell you, though I don’t live in a small town now, and could, technically, find most things I want by driving around Denver like a mad person, it’s worth it to simply order from Amazon, even when there’s a difference of pennies cheaper in favor of the hometown store. Because there’s the gas, and going out, and going through the stores, and–

But if you live in even a slightly remote place — when we first started shopping amazon we lived about 15 miles west of Colorado Springs.  For certain things, like older son’s massive boat-like shoes, we needed to make a special trip to Denver, and pray that the particularly store had that particular size, or something that would kind of fit.  (16 extra wide or 15 massively wide. Seriously.)

So, I welcome the possibility of internet shopping. For everything except groceries, clothes (we tend to go thrift for them, unless they’re the things you DO NOT buy used.  Yes, I do order underwear from Amazon. And bras. And night clothes. Your point is?) and cat food or something related to one of those that we need “right now” because the old one broke, we shop online.

Oh, I also tend to buy home repair stuff at our local Home Despot (yes, I know. I just find it funny to spell it that way.)  Tend to, so not always. Sometimes I need something specialized only found online.  (Beware, though, when buying either toilets or sinks on line, often the fittings are from Eastern Europe and retrofitting them takes more creativity than you might be willing to use.)

Anyway we appreciate the convenience, the variety, an amazing array of choice previously only available to very large city dwellers.

But the implications of this haven’t stopped playing themselves through.  One of them I never saw coming is, as online shopping becomes dominant, grocery stores are competing by delivering your purchases either to your home or to your car outside the store.  (I confess that were we still a “with kids” household I’d probably use this all the time.  As is, though, we shop less frequently and often take the time to find “Interesting stuff” particularly on sale.)

The other implications are: what will that change the landscape of our cities? Who knows? You hear people — even me — talk about how much we miss bookstores.  It could be, and not in the far distant future, that it will be the hallmark of an “old timer” that they miss shopping in stores.  (I don’t but no one ever said I was average or even normal. I view shopping in general (except for books, yes, even now, even when I just look and don’t buy because there’s little I want that’s not massively overpriced in the remaining stores) as a hunting expedition to be accomplished as quickly and tactically as possible. Identify where thing why is likely to be. Rush in to the store. Grab thing. Pay. Emerge in triumph. Try to explain to husband that even though thing is totally the wrong size you don’t NEED to go back in.  “Look, it’s three sizes too small. Maybe I’ll lose weight. Maybe it will grow.”  You could say I’m the ideal online customer.)

But there are other things, too that retail does. For instance, a lesson that cities keep forgetting and having to relearn is that if your downtown is all office buildings, you will have a deserted area at night, which in turn means that the criminals can come out and prey on that late-working business man, or the lone guy walking out of the one restaurant still open.  Healthy downtowns have a mix of offices, residences and retail.

What happens when retail disappears, not just from downtown but from everywhere?  Will it just be restaurants and cafes in the downtown areas, as far the eye can see?

And that brings us to the other side of it, what happens when most people don’t work out of offices.  Most people look at that and go “Ah, time to move to the middle of nowhere.  Endless acres. Cows.”

Look, I grew up in a rural area.  (Also there ain’t no such thing as endless acres in Portugal, near the coasts. Never mind.) I see the attraction. Truly. I know I’ve said I had enough of cornfields before the age of 12, and that’s true too. But I like puttering with plantings; I like having animals; I like the security of knowing no matter what we won’t starve.

But the thing is that the endless acres and semi-agricultural lifestyle are a lot of work, and work the person who would have been a cubicle dweller 20 years ago might not want to do, when they’re also working full time on the computer.  And upteen untended acres can become a fire danger or a breeding ground for dangerous animals. (The majesty of nature, where predators eat large prey is also best watched on Animal channel, not from your living room window.

All that aside, in the country most people quickly find there’s nothing to do, besides tend those acres. If you’re single, and you spent your entire day writing reports or whatever, you might want to see people.  You might also want to be part of some hobby — did you know Denver has a Lego builders group? No, I didn’t know. — you want to learn to brew beer, or take a sewing class. If you’re my variety of introvert, you might just want to walk around and see people.  That people exist reassures you and you don’t need to talk to them.

Right now the life cycle for young people seems to be to move to a city till you find someone, then settle into small town living.  Which you could say sort of kind of satisfies both needs.  Even if there are no local stores, your kids can attend the local school and–

Yeah.  You guessed it. Like all information businesses, schools are in the path of the technological innovation steam roller.

Mind you, I don’t know if they would admit it. I kind of doubt it. I mean, look, publishing was getting hit hard with it 11 years ago, and yet it’s still staggering around, looking more zombie-like every year, and saying “I’m not dead. I think I’ll go for a walk.” And finding more and better reasons why indie is totally dying, listen to their authority.

I think education will be the one most seriously affected next. There is already a lot of movement going on, but the absolute numbers are still small. However, the combination of a field committing suicide and a new way of doing things is a combination I know. This will get ugly. Expect over the next 12 years all sorts of craziness where humans and distance learning intersect with all levels of education.

Again, I absolutely love the opportunity of learning whatever I very well please without leaving my living room. But to an extent the current education system is part of the industrial mass-system, and helped shape it too. Which means that as education changes, what will change?  Humans aren’t infinitely plastic, but universal schooling experience has shaped a lot of the way we look at the world. “Making the grade” is a thing for a reason.  How will our internal perceptions of the world change when it’s all different and highly individualized.

And there are things now completely possible thanks to the internet gps and computers that weren’t possible before. I believe Uber vans are doing this, but it’s not widespread yet.

America was never very good for public transport. We are too spread out, even in the East. Outside places like NYC, most public transport runs empty most of the time.

Trains in particular seem to be a fetish of progressives (more on that tomorrow) and I think they are singularly inappropriate for the US transport landscape.

But someone willing to have their route change every day and be controlled by computer “bookings” could make a mint of a highly personalized public transportation scheme.  Say I need to go to the Art museum and don’t want to drive (pretty much accurate, since depending on my eyes I might not be able to at all; or if it’s winter, I have to curtail my hours to be home before sundown) And my neighbor up the street wants to go to DIA, while another neighbor, five blocks away wants to go to the tech center.  You input where you want to go, acceptable times, it all goes in and gets calculated, and sometime in your acceptable range, a van or bus depending on who is booked for the trip, follows the most economical route, picks people up, drops them off, and then does the reverse on the way back.

It’s so close I can practically taste it. It won’t happen — probably — via city governments, because they are desperately trying to cling to big and inefficient.

But I bet you in the next ten years someone will take that model, have enough to invest, and run with it. And then it will spread.

The advantage of internet/online is that it can give modular supply to meet varying demand.

And sure, most offices still have problems with employees telecommuting, but that won’t hold. Why not? Because it won’t. Younger people who become bosses will be perfectly aware of how to manage over a distance, and won’t understand what the big deal is. You do the job or you don’t.

But then, think about it — commutes change, car ownership changes, office buildings are left unoccupied or semi occupied.

There are other things. I was shocked when I went to the dentist 10 years ago (I’d still go there, if we were in the city still) and found out that his profession too was being hit by change at a spanking pace.  (He was telling me of stuff that we can now do, that I had no idea.)

I’ve had any number of friends have eye surgery unheard of in the past.

To an extent every technological advance has ripples of this sort. It’s just the current change has a lot of ripples in a lot of different fields; it’s going very fast, and we’re in the very beginning of it, which means advances are hard to anticipate.

Will we survive this? Absolutely.

But in the next ten years it will change most things about our lives, from the way we raise our kids to our politics.

Now, the problem with that is that when this happens a lot of people will be left high and dry and with things they’ve always done for money suddenly not working.

The other problem is that most humans, and yes, even us, have a picture of the world in their heads that was formed sometime at age two or so. And we have a picture of our career and what it would/should be formed somewhere in our thirties.

And this used to be perfectly adequate.  Well. The 20th century threw some upheaval in its way, but war is still understandable as part of things that might happen, and once the war is past you can rebuild.

The tech steam roller? Well, when it’s past everything is completely different.

There are a lot of people my age and older starting new careers. (And in a way I am, or at least starting a new way of approaching my career.) Which in many ways is lovely.

The problem is when it’s forced because the field is going away or changing, and people have to change to completely different fields.

It’s no longer “What do I want to do when I grow up?” It’s “what do I do now?”

Now, in general all the changes are for the better. And most fields dying really did commit suicide (though much of retail is just in the way of the steamroller, there are specialized areas where it was suicide.)

What this means again is that though the economy is doing better than during the endless summers of recovery, there will be pockets, and places where the slide down is seemingly endless.

If you’re in that situation, it might seem like the solution is just to fight the future and go back to the safe past.  Many states, and the party that ironically calls itself “progressive” (boldly progressing to the 1930s!) are trying to do exactly that.
But it won’t work, and it will just make the pain longer and deeper.

As painful as it is, as difficult as it is, if we’re to survive the next decade or so, we need to look at all the trends, look at what we’re doing, look at where our field of endeavor. Then retool, replot, re-approach.

Because the future is still there. And with life expectancy growing longer, we’re going to collide with it.  Might as well be prepared.

And meanwhile get out of the path of the technological steam roller. Find another field, or work at a higher level.

Because that steam roller is merciless. And it’s on fire. What it touches will not be coming back.


339 thoughts on “Are you in the Path of the Steamroller?

  1. While reading this, did one bit of online shopping whilst $HOUSEMATE was about to choose from a few selections. “This one has this advantage, but this disadvantage. This one etc. This one etc.” “That last one works best.” “Done.”

    And some (now considerable) time ago, I wound up trying to order a computer on-line from the same place I just placed that order… and while I could SHOP online, I had to make a phone call to get the order/payment to process right. That issue is LONG solved. Decent search… still needs some work – but progress IS happening.

    1. Hmm, the last three computers have been purchased online. Might all be from the same outfit; it wasn’t important to remember. The used computer that will go into the shop (hen Iget around to it) will also be an online purchase, most likely from the manufacture’s own site, though Amazon is getting into that market, too.

      We joined Amazon Prime as soon as we heard about it, and for the largely rural county we’re in, it’s perfect. Klamath Falls already had a nickname of Catalog Flats when we moved here in 2003. The J.C. Penney’s went to a warehouse space for receiving packages. It was a *nice* space, but it’s essentially all it was; go there, order what you want, wait a week or so, and pick it up. The difference now is that we order on line, and unless it’s too difficult to pick up, we have it sent to the maildrop place we’ve used for years. And it’s usually 3 days if we pick it up immediately. (A locked gate in the country is a pretty clear “no trespassing” sign, and keeps the casual thieves away. We’re not interesting enough to the non-casual thieves.)

      The other nice thing about the ‘Zon is the fact that while my mother lives in the Midwest, and we’re in Oregon, if she needs something that’s available online, we can buy it for her and she’ll get it within 1-3 days. Sending a gift is just as easy as purchasing for myself. Christmas wrapping suppliers hardest hit…

      1. keeping the parentals occupied by sending them stuff that way as well, and as they are in Memphis, they sometimes get it the same day I order.
        5000 piece puzzles, and japanese chisels for dad’s woodworking

          1. We were building a puzzle on the dinning room table and it was taking time. This weekend is the Christmas party at our house. Wife said “I hope we get the puzzle done in time.” “Weaponized Autism” kicks in. I get it done in two days of here and there work. Wife says “You took the fun out of doing the puzzle!” Well, you said it had to get done!

            1. My last one is a bit . . . devious.
              It’s the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
              A small 5000 piece measuring 60 x 40 inches
              They’ve had it since September and started it not too long after it arrived, and said Sunday they have about 1000 pieces together. Granted there were a few trips to my Sister’s place, and whatnot, but they are finding this one more of a challenge.

              1. Okay, now I’m jealous!! See, I think the only real use for a dining room table is for spreading out a puzzle…

                There’s someone in my little town who has much the same tastes in puzzles as I do… I know this because I regularly raid the thrift store for truckloads of puzzles — many with the same handwriting on the back of the box. Whoever you are, I love you. 😀

                1. Back in my college days we’d celebrate end of term with jigsaw puzzle marathons; one year Brian Froud was the artist for a nice series of, I dunno, 500-piece puzzles (a size that fit neatly on our puzzle table.)

                  Somewhere around the third or fifth puzzle I realized that each of the puzzles was cut to exactly the same pattern — you could complete two, split them down the center and connect the half of one to half the other.

                  Or you could dump four at once and do simultaneous assembly.

                    1. I got a Star Wars set that had three sections– suitable for toddlers, suitable for kids, and suitable for teens/adults.

                      Put them together to make a lovely homage to the original Star Wars.

                      Took it to Thanksgiving one year, it did the trick. ^.^

                    1. Yep, patterns do repeat. Some more obviously than others. Tho with the newer computerized cuts, they’re starting to be what looks like randomized.

                      Somewhere around here I have a novelty puzzle that’s all hexagonal pieces; you’re supposed to color-match the threads. But it’s not well printed nor well cut, and I’ve never gotten it to lay out right. Nifty idea, tho.

                      What I don’t like are the ones with pseudo-identical pieces… I have one where not only all almost same shape, but a huge swath of white sky with no real shadings. That one was downright tedious, but completism ruled and I finally finished it. Once!!

                    2. I’ve seen puzzles that are very few shapes. You have to not be colorblind for some of them. One was a faded color from light to dark, a Fuscia to dark purple. I’ve also seen one without the border and supposedly no identical pieces all one color (Purple meanie?) both used in some sort of puzzle competition.
                      The last two I sent Mom and Dad they glued up and hung on the wall once they finished them. (one was a world map, the other animals of Africa)

            2. My Dad used to do several puzzles a week. After he had a stroke and was in rehab, they had puzzles in the common room. But they were all 1500-an-more piece monsters, and the common room was also the cafeteria, so if you couldn’t complete it in a few hours, it had to go back into the box.

              I went all over town trying to find some puzzles that were small enough to worn on his bedside tray, with pieces large enough for him to handle since his recognition-of-things and coordination were shot. And that weren’t 10-piece plastic toys for small children…

              I finally found some small 125-piece puzzles that were perfect.
              He was pretty dismissive of the little puzzles at first, but was humoring me. I sat on the other side of the tray and we alternated putting pieces in. He was a bit frustrated at first, but I could actually *see* him getting better at matching the patterns and handling the pieces. And he walked out of rehab a few days later under his own power, too.

              I left the stack of puzzles behind in the common room; hopefully someone else got some use out of them.

              (plan B, had I not found any suitable puzzles, was dominoes, which we had played last when I was a child…)

          2. I bought some very beautiful Haruyo* puzzles some years back, and haven’t opened them yet. I want to put them together, but logistics… *sigh*

            Thinking of turning it to a pleasant family endeavor. I have memories of us comandeering my mother’s largest baking sheet for a 500 piece puzzle of a couple of sailboats that someone had given as a pressie and we used to while away a couple of idle weekend hours piecing together, while talking.

            *Haruyo Morita, a Japanese kimono artist who apparently lives somewhere in Australia now, known for her beautiful and graceful women, breathtakingly gorgeous kimono art, and beautiful flowers. You can find some prints of her work, and they’re worth it. Fans of Kaoru Mori’s manga might enjoy her work too.

            1. Dad built his on the kitchen table; Mom had a tablecloth made of something like Naugahyde, which was thick and spillproof. At mealtimes they covered the puzzle and meals proceeded as usual.

      2. I use Amazon to update the PC of Theseus* periodically.

        *It still has 2 CD-ROMs and a 3.5″ floppy drive, and the case is at least 20 years old.

        1. Since I upgrade by buying components instead of whole machines I’ve got a pair of desktops with 6 core processors, 16GB ram & SSDs in old cases – one cream colored from the age of Pentium processors with a floppy drive & a black DVD drive , and one e-machine case which still has the original “Windows XP” and “6 months AOL included” stickers.
          And a small, low powered but critical server is in a homemade plywood case.
          Protective camouflage 😉

          1. OK, now you’ve got my curiosity up. The shop PC is a Y2K vintage Sony Vaio Pentium 4, running 32 bit Slackware Linux. With RAM at 512MBytes, performance is charitably described as “leisurely”. It has a copy of my MP3 collection, and I’d prefer it to be a clone of the house machines. It now has an extra 320G drive to supplement the original 80G unit, with everything predating SATA connections.

            Unlike the HP machine it replaced, it has an industry standard power supply setup, so it might be possible to do a motherboard swap. OTOH, I’m not wedded to the beast, and if a Dell Off-lease machine is close enough in price. DVD drives are a pain, since winter time temps are low enough to defeat the opening hardware, so I try to use thumb drives. The USB V1.0 in the Sony would be nice to upgrade…

            Question: where’s a good place to get motherboards now? No local suppliers here.

            1. I’ve had good luck with and
              At the moment, I would only buy AMD processors. The updated firmwares related to cross-channel data leakage vulnerabilities have been killing Intel CPU performance but not so for AMD.

              I have a soft spot for Newegg because instead of taking the easy way out and paying the danegeld like many of their competitors they stood up to the patent trolls trying to get paid for every store with an online shopping cart and got the bogus patent invalidated.

              I used Slackware briefly when I was trying out various distros – it’s definitely got it’s points – but I’m using MX-Linux exclusively now. It still supports 32bit as well – doubt you could get installed with only 512MB ram though although I did install this year’s version on a Toshiba notebook with a Northwood Celeron – the next step down from a Northwood Pentium 4 – with 1024MB ram

                1. After looking at the options, a used Dell seems most attractive. Amazon has one in their “renewed” category that might displace the home desktop to the shop. A new motherboard for the Sony might be doable, but I’d have to redo the back panel and it’s not attractively priced.

                  ‘Sides, the notion of blowing away a Win 10 install tickles my fancy. 🙂

              1. And me, I’ll use an AMD CPU if it falls on my head, but I won’t pay for ’em. Too buggy, weak on math, and perform about 30% slower than the nominally-equivalent Intel. Also don’t care for the AMD-associated chipsets.

                Watch out with buying SSDs from NewEgg… a lot of ’em are grey-market and there’s no warranty unless you send it to Europe, and no indication until you have one fail and can’t get it RMA’d in America.


                Next week’s project is upgrading the everyday frankenputer, so instead of 11yo guts, it’ll have merely 5yo guts… so if I disappear, you’ll know my computers ate me. 😀

                1. The ‘zon had a compact desktop PC with Asus (Acer?) display, all for $255. It’s faster and has more memory than Illiac (16G vs 8G), so it might end up in the house while the other goes out to the barn. The drive is comfortably larger than what I have, though I’ve not run close in capacity with my current machines.

        2. LOL — sounds like my kind of frankenputer… my gaming box has a sound card I got in 1994! And we won’t discuss the 5.25″ floppy drive…

    2. My next computer purchase will probably be a Raspberry Pi 4. Quad-core 1.5 GHz 64-bit ARM processor, 4 GB RAM, dual 4K HDMI video ports, gigabit Ethernet, two USB2, two USB3, wireless network and Bluetooth —

      All that for $62.

      It’s the size of two decks of cards and uses about 12 watts of power.

      Amazon sells a kit that includes 5V power supply, micro-HDMI adapter cable, quick-start booklet and aluminum passive heat-sink case with a little tube of heat-sink grease for $79.

      I thought the Raspberry Pi 2 was impressive a few years ago. I’ve still got it, but the 4 is so much better it’s worth getting another one.

        1. They would have done the same thing, only a little quicker…Hardware was still barely out of the V2 era then….

      1. I’ll probably upgrade the 3B+ file server at a client site to a 4 soon. I’ve been using a 3 as a shop computer for a while, and another one is set up as a Pi Hole, and used a Zero for another Pi Hole for a friend (it’s housed in an 8-track case; Styx’s “Cornerstone”, and I should have expected 8-tracks were “collectible” now… and I have another Zero I’m waiting on a camera for, so I can see how the various surveillance system packages work with it. It seems that most of the commercial ones are spyware now, and my old one is proprietary and only works with a specific version Internet Explorer on Windows Vista; the whole user API is some kind of IE plugin.

        The Pi 4 is a huge step up from the 3B+; up into “useful desktop computer” for most purposes now.

        1. OK you folks are making me interested. The pi 3b+ I have is pretty darn good. It’s not quite meaty enough to replace my aged (vintage 2012) AMD starter box running Ubuntu. If the PI 4 can run real Ubuntu/Debian with the newer UI instead of a stripped down debian or lubuntu it might be a nice replacement as the AMD gets more and more dated.

      2. I’ve got a 4GB pi4 and I like it a lot BUT not quite great enough if you do a lot of browsing on websites without an aggressive adblocker and things like that. It is pathetic that such a computer is not (quite) powerful enough but it is a fact.

        For development, and as a general purpose linux server it is most excellent. Its OK as a desktop for many tasks but I’ve found that there’s enough bloat around that 4GB doesn’t quite cut it when you have a dozen or more tabs open things like that.

        Also GET A FAN and heatsink. It will overheat and throttle performance if you don’t have a fan on it

        1. I hate fans. They suck in dust and cat hair, they make noise, and then they die. I will use a passive-cooling heat-sink case, and bolt it to a bigger aluminum or copper heat sink if necessary.

        2. Web sites contain tons of graphics and video, and those are major computational overhead.

          The Pi is exactly as fast surfing the web as a smartphone, because it’s using a smartphone “system on a chip.” Which means, pretty slow by comparison to a decent desktop.

    3. I buy “cubicle machines” that have slid down the depreciation curve and dumped to resellers, who list them on eBay. I got an HP dc7900 Ultra Slim system including a monitor, stand, and keyboard for…$65. Fine little box, too, and small. You’re not going to run real-time animated video games on it, but for Web, Email, Word and Excel they’re hard to beat, and that’s most of what Carol and I do here. I haven’t bought a new system since 2011, and I keep it mostly for the sake of its case, which has two SATA “toaster” slots on its top. Drop in a naked 1TB SATA drive, and back up all of everything in a couple of hours for the safe deposit box.

      Everything else in the house is either a used Dell or a used HP. You can get almost any spare part you want on eBay for almost nothing. They come apart easily, generally without a screwdriver. When they die, I write ’em off and recycle them. Then I prowl eBay and buy another. Computers are now consumables, basically, if you do ordinary office work.

      1. I’m glad I saw this comment, Jeff. Since my job is going away, and I haven’t actually had a computer for myself in several years, I’m going to need one, so I hit up Ebay and Craigslist last night, and am about to go pick up a used Dell Optiplex (one of their lower-end business workhorse machines) that is pretty well appointed as to processor, memory, and hard drive. No SSD, but that’s ok. I can get one of those later. And I already have a monitor, so I’m getting a pretty good deal for $75.

        1. I have a couple Optiplex 9010 that were business castoffs. Pretty good little box, very stable, performs to spec. That’s a decent price. They’re fairly easy to work on, and take up to 32GB RAM, tho are rather scant when it comes to slots (2) and drive bays (1). Be aware that if it dies it’s probably the power supply (they suck)… in the mini cases that’s pricey to replace, but I just transplant everything else into a standard case with a regular PSU, and life goes on as before. Or sometimes the ‘new’ PSU perches atop the case like a gargoyle.

          1. I should have looked that one up before I posted my previous comment, but the 8300 Ultra Slim is in the same case as the dc7900, just a little newer and more powerful.

        2. We used mostly Optiplex machines for a long time, since the mid-oughts. The SX270 ultra-small and its successors were really handy if your desk wasn’t ginormous. HP machines are just as good, and the dc7900 even smaller than Dell’s USFFs. It has tapped VESA holes in the case, so you can hang it on a VESA dual monitor stand instead of a second monitor.

  2. When I left my old job to set up my own little law firm three years ago, I dithered over whether to hook up with someplace that offered conference rooms on an as-needed basis. I decided to wait and see, and have never once needed such a space. My clients are all in different cities, and we do everything by phone and email. When they’re in town, we have lunch or dinner.

    1. ZeroHedge has had a few articles on the WeWork trainwreck, with a lot of it looking like a complicated Ponzi scheme. They’re forecasting a lot of empty shared-workspace buildings and a bunch of landlords (to WeWork) in a serious round of hurt.

      1. The bad thing is, their failure is going to poison the idea for most investors, at least for a while. But maybe next time they’ll bring the accountants in at the beginning so they can see where their money is going.

      2. Meh. ZeroHedge lives by encouraging the idea of catastrophe. Much of the money behind WeWork was SoftBank’s.

        This article gives more nuts and bolts: https: //

        (Remove the space behind the colon.)

        In short, WeWork is large, but its share of office real estate in any one market was small. The idea of shared office space is interesting, and being adopted by other property management companies.

        If WeWork can’t honor its financial commitments to individual property owners, the owners will be able to break the leases.

        1. Thanks, will try Newegg.

          I used to use Fry’s a lot from the beginning when I lived in the Bay Area (get your ‘286 CPU and a case of Coke in the same place), but haven’t been there since ’03.

          My Unix/Linux exposure dates back to the late ’80s, and Slackware is close enough to the HP/UX and early Red Hat so I could get up to speed. (I don’t do Windows anymore, since the debacle of the Win 10 rollout.)

          For Slackware, both home machines are running 64 bit software, but the desktop has the MultiLib32 modifications. The Sony P4 is running 32 bit Slackware with a rather old kernel. The last time I did an update on that machine (it’s offline unless it comes in the house), something broke my calendar/timer applications, so I reverted rather than debugged. IIRC, it’s kernel 2.4.14. The others are 4.4.202. 🙂

          1. Fry’s used to be the tech superstore that you went to when you wanted to pick up three or four spools of CAT-5 cable, a whole lot of anime DVDs, and built a computer or three. Last time I was there (Concord store) was about four, five months ago-and it’s gotten worn in a bad way. Lot of the stuff was either cheap or stuff the online store had as returns.

            1. The San Marcos location still looked pretty good the last time I was there – but that was 2 yrs ago. I only get to California to visit my wife’s niece’s & nephew’s families every couple years.

            2. Yeah, several Fry’s Electronics still going down here in San Jose, all pretty worn out/unmaintained. Plus the vast majority of floor space is appliances and teevees. And it’s pretty clear they are not putting any money in the stores anymore.

              Fry’s does still have aisles of electronics components and equipment that nobody else has, but these days I do any shopping along those lines online at Mouser or DigiKey – and it’s truly amazing what you can find through Amazon.

              1. I’m seeing a lot of deferred maintenance in retail these days. Between that and the issue that I get ambush glomped by desperate male salesmen every time I go shopping…

                1. Yeah? What is their asking rate for desperate males these days? When I was young they were a glut on the market. Bars & nightclubs were practically giving them away come closing time — and getting danged few takers.

                1. Lordy, I think I remember that article. AFAIK, it was pretty accurate, at least for the stores I knew in the Bay Area.

                  The very few times I had to return an item, I was successful, but it wasn’t something one wanted to do often.

                2. no, it really isn’t, its a store.

                  And that Forbes article can be applied to any store in CA that sells electronics- Best Buy, Howard’s, what have you… ALL of them have a ‘grid of security cameras and ‘a maze’ of security people… BFD. I’d rather have the store keep theft down.

                  1. What makes you think they can when you can steal a whole computer and not break the “we won’t prosecute” dollar value limit?

                    1. You take all *their* stuff, likely well below the $1000 limit, and toss them out on the street naked. And put the video on YouTube.

                    2. Which, I guarantee, will get YOU prosecuted for assault (protect your property? You stole it anyway! you raaaaacist) as well as a hate crime charge because they are usually Official Government Victim Groups.

                    3. It seems only a matter of time until the Catalog Store model reappears, with stores displaying only non-functional mock-ups of goods and producing the actual item from warehouse/storeroom only after>/I> the sale is rung up. And in not more than five two years afterward we will have politicians denouncing such retail operations as insulting, insensitive and exploitative.

                    4. I’m kind of surprised if nobody’s tried slapping signs up that say, “We’re sorry for the inconvenience. Racists have been targeting our haircare displays.”

              2. In the ’90s, Fry’s was where the engineers would go to get components (although there were some alternatives, like JDR Microdevices and Quement Electronics (RIP)). However, you expected that the sales droid would know less about the component than the customer, and there might be some interesting problems (BIL bought a “reboxed” widget and wasn’t allowed to return it. Most expensive brick (literally!) he ever bought.)

                The hard drive was failing on my Sony when we moved, so one of the trips to SJ to move some stuff entailed a stop to get a new drive. Haven’t been back since.

                1. “BIL bought a “reboxed” widget and wasn’t allowed to return it. Most expensive brick (literally!) he ever bought.”

                  Yeah, stuff like that was the best reason to buy with a credit card; you had a second line of argument (cancelling the charge), and maybe a third if your card was early on the “credit card warranty” train.

            3. The local Fry’s (just off Friars Road where 15 crosses 8) has lots and lots of empty shelves, and lots and lots of empty checkout stations. As in, three out of 34 actually open.

              I went there to buy a 4 TB hard drive for work and there were two choices, neither of them the one we wanted. Anime selection is limited, and expensive. Most of their video choices are limited, and expensive.

              1. Anime has gotten expensive in general. Most of the series lately are only coming out in complete box sets at the $120-150 range-trying to push you really hard to streaming.

              2. > three out of 34

                Are you sure you didn’t wander into a Wal-Mart by mistake?

                My local store will shut down registers if the lines get shorter than a couple of car-lengths. They need some of those signs that say “CHECKOUT 20 MINUTES PAST THIS POINT…”

          2. > close enough to the HP/UX and early Red Hat

            Well, that’s SysV and Berkeley, so you have ’em both covered…

            You might want to try one of the BSDs – FreeBSD, OpenBSD, or Net BSD. They’d be a lot closer to old-school Red Hat than HP/UX or modern Linux, particularly after systemd.

            1. Slackware doesn’t use systemd (yay!!), and I have enough years in it to be comfortable. Mostly.

        2. ZeroHedge reminds me of the old joke about economists predicting 10 of the last 5 recessions, but with cautious reading (and filtering out the more obvious biases), it can be useful.

          I don’t think WeWork have come into our county; shared office spaces locally tend to be quirky (one contractor in an ancient Sears warehouse with an underwater videographer and some other business), while there’s some office/professional spaces that never have tenants. One only had a Halloween store a couple of years in the 16 years we’ve been here. No idea how the landlord is dealing with that lump-o-building.

          1. Yes, it can be useful, particularly as the most effective propaganda uses truth as well as fiction. It’s best to cross-check stories. The site has run stories that haven’t appeared in, or at least haven’t caught the attention of US media.

            Such as the farmer strikes and protests in Europe–in Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, at least. There may have been more. Recent story: https: //

            When I search for “European farmer protests,” I find European reports on the happenings, and a few New York Times and AP reports. I don’t find any reports by US media pointing out that farmers are protesting across Europe, often by bringing lots of tractors to city centers. I do find sites online from protest organizers, explaining their plans, rationale and philosophies.

            It’s almost as if a national US newspaper or magazine should put together a piece about the negotiations around EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, and the associated continental rise of farmer protests. I mean, I gather there are farmers in the US, too, who might be interested in reading about such happenings. I think there are probably pork belly traders who would find it worth a read.

          2. It’s a high-noise open source intelligence spigot , with little to any gatekeeping – you just have to have all your open source intel cross-correlation skills up to date to glean anything useful.

            But better the spigot than the curated drip drip drip.

        3. Wework is great if you are a client. But terrible as a potential investment. Why? because it’s selling its product below cost and you simply can’t make that up with volume.

          The company I work for uses wework in one location and we’re looking at it in others as it is way cheaper than, say, Regus. But we’ll only put things in a weweork that can be easily moved if the business goes because eventually Mr Son is going to either pull the plug or insist wework raise the price to something that doesn’t lose money and that’ll probably mean the same or higher than Regus

    1. Has an assumption that may not be founded.

      Was the accepted wisdom/research on diet fraud or simply in error due to inability to account for individual variation in a vast number of variables that we don’t really cheaply and directly measure?

      Other frauds do show that the diet fraud is quite plausible. Fraud is one of the cases where low carb would benefit almost everyone.

      What if we cannot draw general conclusions from your case or Sarah’s case? What if we ought to go to much more individually tailored diet and medical advice because of population variation? Then, benefits from low carb would apply to a smaller fraction of the population, and the economic ramifications would be lower.

      1. I know that with my mom, they just assumed she was lying any time the results didn’t match their theory.

        I know my sister did well on low-carb– and I got deathly sick.

        Same way that the high carb died does work for some people.

        1. My mother is diabetic. Going low carb was the only way we found to really get her blood sugar under control. Her (now former) doctor encouraged her to eat whatever she wanted and he’d “take care of it with meds”. I’ve had a few friends who took that advice. One is now on an insulin pump and the rest are dead. I hear that’s the prevailing theory for controlling diabetes, I think it’s a horrible idea.

          I think science has really missed the ball when it comes to diet. They seem to research under the mistaken assumption that there ARE general principals that apply to everyone. In my experience, the variation is way more diverse than that, even in similar populations/families. I have a cousin who was having seizures until she started eating a dozen eggs a day. I’m pretty sure that many eggs would be VERY bad for most people, but once she started, not only did the seizures go away, she felt a whole lot better. Go figure.

          1. I figure “science” missed the ball completely on diabetes, and it’s going to be one of those “how did they possibly miss this?” chapters in medical textbooks for our grandkids. In what other disease or syndrome do you treat complete absence of ability to make a hormone (Type I) and resistance due to persistently high levels of a hormone (Type II) with exactly the same plan and advice?

            1. It’s not so much “science” as that the little work that has been done is lost in fakery, pseudo-science, fads, and outright lies peddled as The New Truth.

              Even such simple things as calorie tables are mostly fake, which is why they change so often.

          2. There is a lot of stuff in eggs to support nerve growth in baby chickens, so maybe she just needed certain nutrients in bulk and in a more digestible or accessible form.

            1. The biochemist in my brain had similar thoughts: she’s unable to make for herself or efficiently utilize some critical component (most likely from the cholesterol family, since that would degrade neural sheathing, potentially causing short circuits) and eggs make up the difference.

              With cholesterol disturbances, one should thoroughly examine thyroid (low thyroid at the tissue level makes cells unable to uptake enough cholesterol — a critical building block — from the blood).

          3. Type II diabetic. Yeah definitely need to reduce the carbs to keep blood sugar in check. Not eliminate, but definitely keep as a sometimes food (thank you cookie monster 🙂 ). Some foods (pizza, anything with rice especially white) are particular villains. Other high sugar foods (fruits) seem innocuous or at worse minimal in effect. Big issue is I lived on carbs (which may be part of the issue). My body seems to LONG for carbs. I’d rather eat first rate french bread than Chocolate. I sometimes wonder if there is something genetic about this desire. My Mom used to feel the same way and so does my elder daughter. Younger daughter seems to have picked up her dining habits from our cats. It’s like she’s an obligate carnivore. But give her nice well spiced salted protein and stand back.

            1. Not diabetic. Probably should be given my weight. But I am RH (reactive hypoglycemic), very. My system can’t make up it’s mind what is going on. I can’t catch too low without testing every 5 to 10 minutes.

              Even 5 minutes can be too long (which is the typical new fancy device testing intervals). I can be not have any symptoms, or I can go from a “high” symptom (“high” is anything over 140-ish) immediately into low symptoms and I haven’t even broken below 100. I mean it is bad enough when my BS tests, an hour after eating, less than it was before I ate!!!!

              I’ll figure out what keeps me within a specific range, which works for awhile, until it doesn’t. Have learned to stay away from artificial sugars, regardless of the version. Has the joy of making my system think BS has gone up, but it really doesn’t, so I get bad reality check. Lord help when I add any physical activity, which I really, really, need, to the mix.

              In general protein, with some carbs, to raise BS, otherwise it doesn’t go up enough. Too many carbs and it shoots up, and crashes. My BS should not be 82, 90 minutes after a Mexican meal; it spiked then crashed. (Don’t know the high, didn’t check it. Don’t anymore, not like there is anything I can do for it. But I have dropped from 200 to 90, in 45 minutes, without artificially injecting insulin.) Ask your physician what is a too fast a drop from a high to say 120 or lower. I got a blank look. But for the record 200 to 90 in 45 minutes is “too fast” (from my doctor).

              1. There are (finally!!!) implantable monitors that can report your blood sugar in real time; my FFL is a “brittle” diabetic, and finally got one of the chips. It draws charts and graphs in realtime on his phone, and as he fills the database, it predicts what his blood sugar level is likely to do if he eats certain things and recommends insulin dosages if needed, with the idea of trying to keep his blood sugar level as even as possible. It also has various alarms he can set to let him know if his blood sugar is going outside his chosen limits.

                It was brutally expensive, but he’s *really* happy with it.

                1. The FB community on RH I belong to have members who have the embedded devices. Nobody as mentioned real time options, yet. I can understand why a fragile diabetic needs one. (Full disclosure. Lost a family friend who was a fragile diabetic, when he was 22. His mother went to wake him up because he was going to be late for work … he was already gone. I’m for ANYTHING that helps a T1 diabetic handle their condition.)

                  Would really love to have real time device monitoring. But, for me, it’s information only. I have no control over how much insulin that my body issues due to food. I call it the “Oh, BS too high … herrrrre’s your insulin.” Heck, I don’t have any control over what foods jacks the BS (one day XYZ combination does, another day it doesn’t).

                  Even if I don’t feel the symptoms I have an alarm that informs me that my BS is too high, crashing (which to be fair is automatic to “too high”), or is too low, AND tattles on me to whomever will listen. Not only is she a lot more fun, and cuddly than a monitoring device, my doctor didn’t think the devices were a reasonable approach; expense, even of the older versions, aren’t inexpensive.

                  She who tattles:

            2. You might want to check into glycemic indexes of carb-y foods. White rice is much worse than brown because the carbs in it convert to sugar far more easily. Rice noodles are especially bad, the sugars almost behaving according to the principles of Asimov’s thiotimoline.

              A little painful experimentation — prick finger, burn a test strip before eating, repeat an hour afterward — can give a good idea of your body’s performance. A heavy protein meal (or exercise after eating) can slow the glucose uptake … and probably won’t do any harm.

            3. Carb craving is typically caused by low thyroid (actually, because the brain is starved for energy, and wants an instant fix = glucose), and that is also probably the root cause of most diabetes-II. — I sound like a broken record on this topic but I do read the literature, and there’s a whole web of connections that all lead back to thyroid, because =everything else= depends on it.

              1. Reziac, any links you may offer would be appreciated…..beloved spouse is in second decade with Graves Disease. We are becoming challenged in preventing her thyroid levels from wandering and seeing some “interesting anomalies”

              2. Sadly Reziac likely not my issue. I have been check for thyroid issues throughout my life due to father with severe hypothyroidism such that he was nearly bald in his army enlistment photos at 17 and fully bald when he mustered out. I always seem to test in the normal range from early teens to now in my late 50’s. As I was severely pudgy as a child this was a deep concern as hypothyroidism can lead to severe overweight conditions.

                1. “Thyroid testing” rarely goes beyond checking TSH, and while most doctors still believe 2.0 to 4.5 is “normal” or “near-normal” — in the Real World, anything above 1.4 is suspect. Further, TSH only tells you that the pituitary gland is happy (or perhaps not working); it says NOTHING about the rest of your body. It is essential to test FreeT3, even if you check nothing else.

                  Here’s a good overview of the problem:

                  Click to access TSHWrongtree.pdf

                  If you look up the citations, you’ll eventually come to a document that is 128 PAGES of citations, all on various aspects of this topic. So it’s not like any of this should be unknown, yet to most doctors, it is.

                  With pudgy children who have TSH in the normal (or even low) range… I would immediately suspect the pituitary was not producing enough TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), which means the thyroid gland doesn’t get stimulated and produces too little *thyroid* hormone. (And that maybe the pituitary is not working otherwise, which is why short and fat tend to go together — lack of growth hormones too.) There are a couple varieties of such secondary hypothyroidism, which again the TSH test will not properly diagnose.

                  For such people, the standard treatment with synthetic T4 will often not work, because they also have poor conversion to T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone). But treating with either T4+T3 (at about 100+5 per 100 pounds) or natural desiccated thyroid (which contains T4, T3, calcitonin, and possibly other necessary factors) can work seeming miracles.

                1. I haven’t seen that research, but I would expect that to be the case, because there’s a feedback loop between gonadal hormones and thyroid. (This is why neutered dogs usually become somewhat hypothyroid, hence the common issues with weight gain and incontinence) If there’s not enough of either, the other will drop too. So if you’re suppressing part of the gonadal hormone cycle, what would you expect to happen??

                2. Reports i saw said hypothalamus but I wouldn’t doubt there is interaction in the systems, nor that you might have seen different reporting.

                  I am still wondering how much progesterone (main ingredient of BC pillage) gets a) peed into the water and b) filtered out by municipal water suppliers. Population progressive progesterone poisoning would explain soooooo much.

                  1. It may have been a comment that was triggered by that report, too– I can’t find anything really new, but estrogen is a well-known cause for the symptoms of thyroid problems when there isn’t an underlying issue.

            1. Also, note that metaformin can interfere with B12 uptake — and that makes it harder to exercise for want of energy. (It was cracked corners of mouth that alerted me that I had the problem, but the energy is quite noticeable).

              Cinnamon’s also supposed to help.

              1. My A1c dropped below 6.0, wiith the last test at 5.8m and fasting bloot sugars in the 78-83 range, so my doctor dropped my Metformin to 500mg per day, instead of twice a day. As my reaction to Metformin is constipation (I just love being the corner case for pharmaceuticals, not!) this means I can drop the psyllium powder.

                I’m not eating very low carb, but with major gluten issues, it’s more like corn tortillas and potatoes, along with one slice of gluten free bread (garbanzo/fava flour as the main ingredient). We’ve been taking a teaspoon of cinnamon daily; it does seem to help.

        1. I recently read — forget where or when, but was a “popular press” article, so skimpy on support — that part of the problem has been an extremely high proportion of dietitians are Christian Scientists.

          Can’t see how that would affect the research.

      2. There was outright fraud in the research 50 years ago: https: //
        (again, remove the spaces after the colon)

        I get dizzy when I count up all the foodstuffs people are avoiding or seeking out these days. Gluten, cooked food, this oil, that oil, antibiotics, free range, etc.

        I have yet to figure out what “clean” eating is, don’t tell me, it’s better left a mystery. My mind’s nose smells bleach whenever I hear that phrase, not an appetizing experience.

        1. Also, the guy who started the anti-cholesterol craze was a vegan with an agenda, and his data was purely fraudulent. Dr.Eades has a thorough writeup somewhere on his site; he knew the guy. can’t find the right link offhand.

        2. $SPOUSE is celiac, with it running in her family. I had several rounds of nastiness before we traced it to gluten; AFAIK, exposure to the high gluten flours in artisanal bread pushed my sensitivity over the top. The home-brew salsas at the taqueria *sometimes* use wheat flour for thickening, depending on the cook, so I’ve had to skip them to avoid Montezuma Roulette.

          The gluten free fad is a godsend for us, but we can make our own bread when we want. (And at the prices, it’s cost effective to do so.)

    2. It’s not even future shock, though it’s a problem the older you get, but I thinkt hat’s because “Oh, hell, I dont want to make my way again.” It’s your job/ the way you do things going away.

      1. Heck, I dread the possibility and feel like I’d be left floundering even though theoretically I ought to be in relatively decent shape. Maybe even for freelancing.

        …But I don’t really want to have to figure it out and have to handle the customer service part and all that.

    3. The benefit of carbohydrate diets is the food is easily stored for long periods of time; unlike most meats and vegetables. Granted, that’s not exactly a “health” benefit, other than having food through times when it’s scarce.

      1. I mean, to be fair, I think “not starving” can reasonably be described as a health benefit. After that you can deal with refinements.

    4. *waggles hand* I disagree with you on farming – namely, if you look at the amount of crop that’s grown for animal feed now vs. direct human consumption, it may not change as much as you think. If meat consumption went up as wheat and human corn consumption went down, then in water-rich areas and irrigated areas, wheat can be switched over for corn and soybeans for feed, while in dryland, it’d be less soybean and more milo.

      Farmers are pretty smart and adaptable people – they have to be, to survive pitting themselves against mother nature year after year – so they’re going to grow what works best for their climate, water availability, and cash on the barrelhead. I read an article last year from South Africa decrying how the “Banting fad” (that’s be keto to us yanks) had pushed up the price of cauliflower, and the farmers were charging many more rand per head for a formerly unloved, cheap veggie… and so many fields that had been grains or other vegetables had been converted to cauli that it ruined, in the reporter’s opinion, the bucolic nature of a drive up the coast.

      As for the food processing industry and restaurants – they’re already mobilized and capitalizing on keto. When I see “cauli-crust pizza” in the endcap freezer section at Walmart, I know it’s worked it way from brief fad into something that Walmart is expecting to move in high volume, no matter what officially reported numbers are. When discount grocery chains like Aldi’s have a wealth of keto-options and two different kinds of riced cauliflower as a standard item, and even small-town grocery stores are offering almond flour, as well as large bulk retail like Sam’s Club, and the processed food industry is busy coming up with “keto snacks”… they’re not going to roll over and die; they’ll adapt to serve the new market.

      Tiny Town Texas has a “protein scramble” on the greasy spoon’s whiteboard menu, and even a three-state small breakfast chain has “keto bowl” appearing on their menu… market penetration will be officially saturated about the time you see McD’s offering a keto option. Carl’s Jr has for years, with the lettuce-wrap burgers.

      Also, note the sheer number of avocado-containing keto recipes. Note the Mexican cartels now going after the “green gold”, and moving from using avo shipments to hide drugs into full shakedown and outright control of avo farming… it’s become an extremely high-demand crop, and they’re going after the money source. Opium, cocaine, avocados… they really don’t care as long as it’s money.

      Long story shore: it’s not a sudden catastrophic change that’s going to kill industries; they’ll adapt. It is, however, an ongoing groundswell, and if it continues, is well worth futurecasting.

        1. Some people swear by replacing things with Cauliflower. I just swear AT it. And I like Cauliflower as Cauliflower. but as a starch substitute I’d rather eat white paste.

          1. IIRC, the frozen foods section has a “mashed potato” look-alike that’s made out of cauliflower. I haven’t tried it, but that’s because I’m not a cauliflower fan.

          2. And I can deal with “riced” cauliflower as a rice-replacement, and a seasoned cauliflower is fine, as is cauliflower in a cheesy sauce… but plain straight cooked cauliflower? No. It has the smell “of old people’s houses” – and as I am rapidly approaching (if not in) geezerhood [ooold definition… er.. so to speak. Probably merely ‘middle-aged’ now…] well.. it still bugs me. Raw? With some dip, no big deal. Even if, like broccoli, it winds up looking like one is eating a shaving brush.

            DON’T PASS CARS
            ON CURVE OR HILL
            IF THE COPS
            DON’T GET YOU
            BURMA SHAVE

            1. To each their own Orvan. Neither the potato or the rice cauliflower based substitutes do it for me.

  3. Not excited to hear this, because I just managed to at least halfway pull off a career transition. Into a path I knew was poised for one transformation, and I’ve recently worked out is in the middle of another.

    Don’t like hearing that things are going to be a lot more chaotic and uncertain than I had hoped. May be good for me in the long run.

    When I was younger, and manufacturing was starting to go away/be driven offshore, I heard a lot about transition to a service academy.

    It comes to mind that there are two numbers of relevance. One is the number of services one can shop for, have opinions on, and extract some reasonable guarantee of customer service from. Stuff like ‘software-as-service’ is charging against that budget, and there may be a limit to the number of distinct types of businesses that can be run as services in an economy. Second is the number of customers one can personally attract and support in one’s service based business. (Someone proposed a business plan on Armed and Dangerous, which inspired me to think about this.) My guess is that Dunbar’s number limits both. Part of the reason for larger organizations is being able to spread that customer or service supplier load among other people, as the cost of more charges against something related to dunbar’s number.

    So, the limit for better ways of handling individual service business is not simply computerizing the brokering.

  4. Misread as:
    Are you on the path of the steam roller?

    Combined with image, interpreted it as steam powered rollers, a high tech version of the buggy whip question.

    1. Ah. That switched me over to thinking about the machines they use to “mill” the streets. You don’t want to find yourself in front of them, but you really don’t want to drive where they’ve passed, either.

      Those who jump on the “very latest trend” all too often end up with ruined shocks and asphalt gravel in their undercarriage.

      It’s all in the timing, though. Eventually the road gets a nice new paving job, and is smooth sailing – for a while.

  5. There is already a lot of movement going on, but the absolute numbers are still small.

    I’m…not sure it really is, though.

    Five years back, using a very conservative metric– zero public school involvement, meaning not even school teams– and going off of those states that actually report numbers, and at the very least Washington State’s numbers are incredibly under-counting those who ARE legally*, they still figured 5% of the school age population is homeschooling.

    And it definitely went up after the “boys can use the girl’s locker room at will” orders.

    There’s probably a dang good reason that they keep desperately trying to tie homeschooling to child abuse.

    *I’ve mentioned this before, I only know of it because of homeschool group drama. One of the mothers in an associated homeschool group threw an absolute FIT that her buddies in the neighborhood hadn’t mentioned they were quitting homeschooling– only to find out that they weren’t. The school had reported they had one homeschooling family with two children. There were at least 8 involved, 3 families, JUST in this one group.

    1. > There’s probably a dang good reason that they keep desperately trying to tie homeschooling to child abuse.


      They get Federal money for every child in the system. And that’s tabulated *daily*; if there’s one kid absent, that’s one kid’s worth of money they lose that day.

      The way their accounting works, your homeschooled kid are losses, not costs.

      How much is any individual kid costing them? Very little, but truancy and enforcement are paid for with state money, not school district money, so spending $1000 to recover $1 boils down to “not my own budget, so it’s a free dollar.”

        1. Here it’s to the point where the high school has a clinic. You send the sick kid to school to get a free diagnosis and, if necessary, a prescription written. Great for parents with poor insurance or going without it altogether.

            1. So far they document what they do & the parents get all the info. In another school district I might worry. A year before she went through puberty when trans “therapy” was getting a big media push my grand-daughter talked about being gay or trans. She got neither encouraged nor punished and it passed. The school system wasn’t interested.

              We are in one of the red pockets of Florida and all the left wackos running for school board lost in the last election – but it has flipped left before so it’s definitely worth keeping track of. Too many people ignore the school board elections leaving control to the activists.

      1. NH 2017-2018

        Cost per child: $19,000

        REVENUE SOURCES Percent $19,000.00
        Local Taxation 61.5% $11,685.00
        Tuition, Food, & Other
        Local Revenue* 1.5% $285.00
        Equitable Education Aid 29.2% $5,548.00
        Other State Sources 2.4% $456.00
        Federal Sources 5.3% $1,007.00
        Other (Includes insurance
        settlements) 0.1% $19.00

        A thousand bucks from the Feds doesn’t seem like much per kid. BTW, that Equitable Education Aid is a State program that lets them move money around from district to district supposedly based on whether the kid was there for a portion of the year.

        1. When I was in school each local county paid its own way through county property taxes; the state’s bureaucracy came out of state taxes.

          The typical school bureaucratic overhead was a principal, vice principal, a couple of secretaries, a couple of “counselors”, and a single janitor. Though as I think of it, someone had to cut the grass in the landscaping and the various worship centers, but wasn’t something that happened during school hours.

          And yet… it worked without every teacher having a “degree in education”, “School Resource Officers”, on-site psychiatry, etc.

      2. Remember, money going to teachers is being turned over to the unions and recycled as political campaign contributions. And teachers unions are very good at turning out campaign “volunteers” at need.

        In many states that also applies to the janitorial service people and anyone else making a buck off the public schools.

      3. Oregon there are public alternatives. Not sure how they work. When we had our son in school the option was either no help homeschooling, private, or alternative schools, with a specific “focus”. Language immersion, generally. Now there is public home schooling options. Individual schools do not like any of these options, because it takes money away from them. Districts don’t care for the private option as they don’t get money for any student that attends.

        OTOH the districts LOVE the alternative options, both the in-school and public online homeschooling, as they get a small percentage of what they’d get to “manage” these students. AND they only have to provide limited services, if that; essentially getting paid for doing nothing, especially the homeschooling. The public homeschooling options, provide materials and access to teachers online, students proceed at their own pace, parents can monitor material, and progress, and supplement at will, and parents aren’t paying extra for the public homeschooling option (the home school gets the money). Yes, they are paying more to supplement. Or whatever they add. But some of us did that anyway while our kids were marched off to sit butt in classrooms.

        Don’t know how good the public alternatives are. The sit butt in school alternatives, come & go, a few have stuck around and are difficult to get into (application then lottery). The public homeschooling is a more recent alternative, well after we had any choice to participate.

        1. Individual schools do not like any of these options, because it takes money away from them.

          Given how they do go on about starving for funds I wonder they don’t hail elimination of the expense of providing for this “out of the ordinary” students; reduction in cost surely must exceed loss of income.

          I usually go back and forth between “they’re stupid” and “they’re crooked” … until, at least, I remember to embrace the power of and.

      4. It’s also the leftist narrative. Home schooling is going to keep the kids from a lot of indoctrination, and that’s doubleplus ungood.

  6. One factor I aging well appears to be a good social life. We don’t know if virtual interactions will work as well as face to face, but I have my doubts (and I am not an extrovert). My mom was extremely shy and shopping was almost the only thing that got her out of the house. How will decreasing the amount of necessary social interaction affect people’s emotional health? What does it do to the volunteer ethic? Must be some good stories in that…

    1. My social life has expanded enormously with online friendships. And that has led to a fair amount of in-person interaction that never would have happened without the internet.

      1. I think I’ve made online friends here. Who knows. Hasn’t led to in-person friendships. Probably won’t until the other half shuffles off. I’m fine with that. Don’t want him gone anytime soon. I kind of like having him around. Just to be clear.

        OTOH online presence ha s allowed me to participate in activities that put me into contact with others that enjoy doing activities together. Mostly with my dog, but hey, in-person interaction and conversation, if not social friendship.

        Used to have regular social gatherings extracurricular with other Scouters we met through cubs, scouts, and district, level volunteering. Kept in touch with teammates from National Jamboree, for years afterwards. Those social contacts have dropped off or away as our involvement in scouts did, or people moved, or …

        I’ll be honest. Hubby is more outgoing than I am. Currently hubby’s social involvement is golf, men’s club, and the main course he plays “for free” (okay monthly fee for all the golf he can play). But even he isn’t big on entertaining at home, just to have people over. Sure, Civil War Game (OS/UofO), or Super Bowl (commercials 🙂 ). Pre-trips to scout out routes (even tho most of us had been on the route or at Yosemite multiple times), etc. But to get together around dinner & social hour? Not so much (not even if I don’t have to cook!)

        Now my mom & dad, and mom today still. I swear mom is never home. She is always off for this social function or that. Going off with friends. Good for her. Still sees classmates from HS, those that still survive (she’s 85, been out of HS for a lonnnnng time). Still sees former neighbors that moved years ago. Heck, she knows most of her neighbors, doesn’t care for some of them, but she knows them … Jokes from when receptions were held at the house and the cops came because a neighbor complained “Funny. They are all here.” Most of her social interactions besides these, are her various volunteer activities through the Shriner affiliate organizations. But hey, women with more money than her, setup companion tickets so she is off to Branson one week, New Orleans another, Hawaii, British Columbia, Reno. Her driveway is the parking lot for the Airport (only 5 miles away) whether she goes or not. Granted this fall was mostly Vancouver, WA for grandson’s senor year HS Football, and he’ll play Basketball too. Now the joke is “Where is your mother this week?”

  7. Regarding Home Despot: I find their blue competitor sells too much sheep chit, especially in tools. Nor do I like their near-monopoly, so I shop when I can at their red competitor, whose stores differ greatly in the inventory they carry, and often stock things not in the main catalogue (like the cardboard drawers full of nuts and bolts and speed nuts and strain reliefs and … . Just beware: the ‘associate’ stores aren’t as well integrated into the online inventory as the ‘franchise’ stores.

    1. > differ greatly in the inventory

      At one time we had four hardware stores. (down to one, now)

      If you had a plumbing project, you had to try to get all the bits at the same store, because their pipe sizes weren’t all the same, and they didn’t carry a full set of fittings for any of those sizes.

      Basically, there was white PVC, which is all that we anyone in the area carries now, and the black plastic pipe, which was “off” enough that the white fittings wouldn’t fit, and the weird plastic stuff, which is what many of houses in the area had, which was something from the 1950s or 1960s that nobody was installing new any more, and PEX, which was just coming out, and something like PEX but was different (now seemingly gone), and iron, and copper.

      And the white pipe has gaps in the fittings, too. I had to holesaw, thread, and screw a 1-1/2″ fitting into the side of a 4″ close elbow when redoing the bathroom. Common part in 3″, unobtainium in 4″. And the other day I needed a 1″ wye. Tees cost less than a dollar; I finally found an online source for a wye for just under $20 to my door. I clamped some straight sections into the vise on the milling machine, flycut on an angle, and made one…

      1. Funny thing is that I don’t really think of Ace as a competitor to Home Despot, or really as a hardware store at all. I go there to buy things like jam jars and teapots.

        1. Well, perhaps I should have said “one and a half hardware stores.” One of the old stores is now a “DOITBEST” affiliate, which is sort of like an Ace franchise. It’s not much of a “hardware” store as its hardware section is now down to maybe four aisles. It got downsized to inconsequentiality to make room for the gigantic “Lighting Center” showroom of ugly lamps and chandaliers. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone in that part of the store, but obviously someone thinks it’s very important.

          Could be Ace buys the ugly lamps for $10 in bulk from Elbonia and sells them for $300, so the profit margin works even if sales are tiny.

        2. The regional competitor to Home Desperate is an Ace affiliate, but that’s less than 5% of the stuff in the store. IIRC, it’s largely the packaged fluids and paints. Tools and such are from other sources.

          It’s the kind of a place where you can order all the building materials for a good sized shed and they’ll have it out the next day

          1. The two farm and ranch stores also overlap with Home Depot and the other home center, though both have extensive clothing lines as well as ranch-specific stuff like tractor implements and huge water tanks.

            I like one for fasteners because they’ll sell the ordinary (Grade 2 and 5) stuff by the pound; much less hassle than counting washers and nuts at HD.

            At least one of the smaller towns (pop 1000 or so) has a genuine hardware store, complete with .30-30 ammunition and the Marlin to shoot it with. 🙂

    2. If you live near a Rural King, that’s worth a trip. Combine a Tractor Supply with a Harbor Freight, and decent prices on “boomsticks”. Metal fuel cans as well!

      1. We have – Home Depot (3 – hey the let us train dogs in there, or have), Lowes (1?), Ace (1), Harbor Freight (1), and Jerry’s (2 – local only), and I don’t know what else. Plenty of places to geek out on home projects … don’t get me started …

        Honey, please complete, do list:

        1. Cove base down in bathroom, 4 years, & counting.
        2. Paint replaced interior doors and closet doors, 3 years, & counting.
        3. Stain Oak door from garage to kitchen, uh, I forget.
        4. Finish putting down baseboard around doors and small spots on floor, 3 years, I think?

        There are other projects I’d like done. But he says he’s done doing projects, but when we get to it, he does them because he knows how … sigh. He won’t let me near tools. I can paint … I hate painting.

        No. Quietly hiring someone to finish everything up is not a good idea. I keep mouth shut. But my BIL give him some ribbing. OTOH one isn’t any better, and the other pays, without any shame, to get his list done.

        1. I have two new doors that needed the 2 x 4 based jambs cut down to suit the 2 x 3s that infest manufactured places. Those need paint and installation, and a couple others need paint and/or sheetrock texture overspray removed. When the weather is suitable, we’ll get out of the master bedroom, repair the lab-retriever chewed sheetrock, paint, and get new carpet. The rest of the house has newer flooring, though for one bedroom, the original is Good Enough.

          I was going to do an 8 wheel field roller, but if we do end up moving, we won’t need it, and I won’t have the time to do the pieces for a while. We’d like to have the place ready to sell by early spring in case a more suitable place hits the market. Current conditions mean it’s better to select a place, then put yours on the market if you don’t want rental hell. And with two older dogs, that’s no way. Unfortunately, what we’re looking for seems to be what a hell of a lot of others are, too.

          Our tent trailer hit end of life (Coleman/Fleetwood with the terminal cracks in the ABS panels, including the roof), so if we don’t change houses, the next big purchase will be a travel trailer small enough to tow with the Honda Ridgeline. Meanwhile, I need to unload and scavange anything useful out of the Coleman. I suspect I’ll get another flatbed trailer out of the deal.

          I think I have enough on my plate for the while. Springtime, I need to reset the decking nails for the nteenth time.

          1. 100% understand rental heck. We’ve lucked out. Got a German Shepard while in school. Seemed to find places that would rent no problem, had to work at it. Then we moved to Longview, and again worked at it, found a place. Bought a place moved out of rental with GSD, and 3 cats (what can I say, they found “the sign”). Moved to Eugene with GSD and 4 cats … homeowners weren’t too keen on allowing animals, but when they saw how well trained our GSD was (better than most kids), we were in; moved out with 5 cats (dang sign). Owned our home now for 31 years. For all that we are down to one small dog and 2 cats. Nope, not interested in renting. Bad enough that we have to be picky on where we would be willing to buy for the safety of our animals, but to add a rental search too? Uh, no? At one point we thought we were going to have to move to Medford (instead of Eugene) … I rejected rental after rental that allowed pets because they flat out were not SAFE. One I bet got flooded every winter (had to the creek ran UNDER the back porch steps). Luckily hubby got called back to work by the firm in Longview, but dang.

            Regarding our current house. Yes, some flooring allowance in sale is reasonable. OTOH largest bulk of carpet is 19 years old, and it is the “7 year carpet”. By my math it is 12 years past “end of life”. At this point I’d rather just have someone in and rejig our current house, while we still have the small RV. Kid can either move in with Grandma or Aunt & Uncle (empty nest). We’d have to kennel up the animals at either place, outside. Both places are close to our home, so we could kennel at our house too, then (retired) spend time helping on the house (I CAN paint … hubby can do more than that) but definitely contractor time. Hmmm list:

            1) Add Jr Suite upstairs in room above garage that prior owners added (it is 60′ x 20′).
            2) Expand kitchen.
            3) Relocate washer/dryer (required for #2)
            4) Relocate door from garage into house (required for #2)
            5) Expand master bathroom … which depending on how this is done has some domino effects … mostly just bigger shower. Two sinks would be nice but not required.
            6) Put in Pet Friendly flooring … this will NOT be carpet, not even pet friendly versions. Rugs on top of flooring, okay, yes. But not carpeting itself.
            7) Remove wood stove and wood box fireplace chimney that is pulling away from the house.
            8) Add indoor/outdoor concept doors where slider to deck is (it is a bank of windows anyway, not floor to ceiling) from “sun room” (it is on the N side of the house for crying out loud!)
            9) Cover deck off of “sun room”.
            10) Sell pool table, maybe.

            End result: 4 or 3 bedrooms, 3 or 3 1/2 bathrooms, both depending on repercussions on decisions resulting from #5 and #3. Still have living room and family room, although latter is smaller. Main living is mostly downstairs for us.

            We paid $78k, have put in about $35k over 31 years or major clean up. Owe, just under $130k in loan (at extremely good interest). Zillow lists it at around $270k, and it has the square footage incorrect, nor does it list the bonus room in square footage or at all.

            I know. It is a pie in the sky list …

            1. When we were ready to leave San Jose, the to-do list was daunting. The house was officially 1200 square foot, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, but that skipped the 20 x 20 circa 1936 “bonus room” that gave a laundry, a “quarter bath” (toilet in room), family room and a small third bedroom.

              Unfortunately, two of the three walls in that bonus room were termite eaten, and we *really* needed that space. No money for a contractor, so I went DIY. Used steel tubing as temporary studs while I replaced one side wall, braced *everything* and replaced all the framing on the end wall, and did new siding. New cabinets, saltillo tile on the floor did most of the rest.

              I also had to do the kitchen and bath; used knockdown cabinets from Depot and did tile counter tops (back when they were trendy).

              That got us a fast sale and enough to fund what we needed here. Right away, a large garage (one bay for the utility tractor), later a covered kennel, a shop for $SPOUSE, and a workroom in the barn/shop. We’ve done other stuff afterward, new flooring and the well/pumphouse/solar system. We need to paint and recarpet the master bedroom, then the place is more or less ready to sell.

              There have been a couple-three houses that have met what we want; if we see something that really fits, we’d put in an offer and put our place on the market. OTOH, our place is pretty much disaster-resistant, so as long as I’m mobile during work seasons, we’ll be OK. I have another bunion, but I’m hoping it behaves itself for a while.

              1. Don’t know the San Jose markets. What I know of CA markets is my sister’s place in one of the little towns that make up greater SF area (Santa Clara, I think). They bought their small 30/40’s home, small 2 bedroom, one bath, detached garage, on a large lot, early 1987. Other homes in the neighborhood also sold. Their home was the ONLY one not knocked down and a larger home, taking up most the lot, put up. They sold theirs, in ’93, got enough to all but purchase a home 3x’s bigger in Vancouver, WA (back when you couldn’t take any profit without paying taxes). Their current home on 5 acres east of Vancouver (Hawkins Heights) is bigger yet. The house in SF area, pretty sure it was knocked down and something else put up; it’s state of repair or lack of, wasn’t an issue.

                1. Our old neighborhood seems to have resisted the McMansion trend, if Google is showing current enough satellite views. BIL got the parent’s old house in Santa Clara for $35K mumble decades ago. He’s not big on maintaining it, but it should go for over $1M unless he waits until the housing bubble bursts there. Our old place is guessed at 2X what we sold it for in ’03 with no exterior modifications. (I assume/hope they redid the kitchen; I did the best I could with what I had, but…)

                  OTOH, he and my nephew are the only ones in the family still living in Cali, and nephew is actually on a long term assignment in Europe.

  8. When I left the Marine Corps in 1972, my first job was running the blueprint room for a nuclear power plant under construction. Actual diazo process blueprints made from pencil drawing done on mylar sheets. Very advanced for the time, draftsmen had just switched from semi-transparent sepia sheets for reproducible originals. A large room full of blueprints, and equipment manuals. All the revision/distribution records were on 5×8 cards, one for every drawing, document, manual, etc, on the site. If so many changes occurred that the 5×8 card for a document got filled up (happened frequently) an addition card was stapled to the front of the old one.It took a room full of draftsmen to make the changes the engineers came up with and 5 of us to keep track of the document status, issue new drawings, etc. Today, I run document control on a much more complex system, as a small part of my duties. There are no draftsmen, because there are no physical drawings. I don’t need to issue new drawings, and nobody has an obsolete drawing. The engineers and managers have a much clearer picture of the actual state of the system, with about 2% of the work. I don’t know what the other 4 document clerks or the draftsmen did, but I’ve spent a fairly long career learning how to analyze what the real need is and the new methods of meeting it. The real need satisfied by the blueprint room was making sure everybody has the right up to date info. The methods have changed, but everybody still needs the latest info. I use custom databases now, a likely will for the next couple of years. My replacement when I retire might use something totally different (direct mind to information systems cloud or some such) but the need will be the same.

    1. Yesterday, some colleagues were reminiscing about some of this. None of them miss smelling or handling the ammonia and other chemicals from the various repro equipment.

        1. Miss the new mimeo smell a bit. Do NOT miss trying to make the masters for a mimeo. Very hard to correct mimeo masters and the correction fluid never totally worked. Remember my mom hacking out masters for the sunday worship service at church. She was an excellent typist and not prone to bad words but a typo on a master might get an obscenity out of her (no profanities, she was in the church office, you’d be bucking for a lightning strike 🙂 )

          1. I had a rule. Anyone who complained about typos or misspellings (same usually), or anything, on the newsletter, got to do the next one. Stated clearly, in bold, on every newsletter. Funny that. No one complained. The advisor loved it. They could submit content articles. But any content that complained about quality? Just volunteered. They also stayed “volunteered” until someone else did. Think it took me 6 months before someone slipped up. Actually I think they were actually willing, but also willing to do so under the “rules”.

        2. I’ll skip the diazo smells. We used those when doing integrated circuit layouts before the ICs got too complex.

        3. I think I still have a residual high from all those mimeo quiz sheets I had to generate in the (unventilated) grad lounge, mumblmumble years ago… great Ghu, the memories…

    2. And there are productivity-improvement stories like this in many industries. Yet despite this, and despite all the hype (and even some reality) about AI, the overall US labor productivity growth rate remains stubbornly mediocre. Why?

      One possibility, of course, is that labor productivity is simply being mismeasured. Another explanation would be that the improvements are being largely gobbled up by bureaucratic expansion and mismanagement.

      1. Another explanation. Productivity improvements that hit your most valuable activities free up the resources to pay someone to do less valuable activities, that may need quality or reliability improvements from having more people working on them.

        You still have the same people. I think there may be an ability distribution in populations, but the educational system’s results definitely has a distribution. Is there something like an individual productivity ceiling? Or do we have enough different types of productivity that it would either be narrow and useless or a measurement tarball? (I find myself arguing that previous productivity improvements in America may have been developed by people who grew up with child labor, and that mandatory attendance is the problem. Arguing from near complete ignorance, so should be ignored unless someone has a handy disproof.)

        In practice, this problem is your second explanation. The less valuable activities are things like regulatory compliance, or are mispriced due to minimum wage, and can’t simply be left undone.

        1. Supporting evidence, a lot of folks who come up with nifty new tricks either worked in the family business as kids, or were otherwise highly involved with adults as children.

          It’s not solidly selecting for folks who just PREFER adults to other kids, either, I know some of the “think up something new” folks would’ve rather been around other kids; perhaps training to think up new ways to do things?


          I bet that gamers end up over-representing, soon. The “figure out how to dance on top of a mail box” type.

          1. Child labor environments that force contact with adults force contact with a wide range of adults.

            The guys Audie Murphy grew up working in the fields with were a lot WWI vets, but would have included others.

            A range of age cohorts, people who have done a variety of things before, people who’ve had a lot of failure, people who’ve had a lot of successes, people who have turned their lives around.

            Child education environments have your own age cohort, who are typically also from your area and have had the same previous schoolwork you have had. They also have teachers, who are often fairly similar in experiences. Went to college because did well in school and expected, picked a major that isn’t the most challenging, a career that may essentially provide employment for showing up, contact with other teachers and the sort of person who becomes an administer, and a lot of contact with children during an age period that only shows a narrow slice of a human’s development.

          2. “Supporting evidence, a lot of folks who come up with nifty new tricks either worked in the family business as kids, or were otherwise highly involved with adults as children.” Tom Wolfe observed that a lot of astronauts and a lot of entrepreneurs grew up as farm boys.

  9. I used to teach community college and dual-credit, and in my opinion, the schools absolutely know it. They don’t know what “next gen” will look like, but they know the current model is completely untenable. That’s why all the worthless flimflam and administrative takeovers has been allowed in the districts in the first place. The teachers really care, but the administrators are terrified and trying to lock themselves in as truly indispensable.

    1. My generation was suppose to be the first generation where you could not rely on working for the same company your entire career. Or even have the same career forever.

      Reality? First is probably true for a good percentage of people. Don’t know of many besides my husband, that once he was established, stayed with same career and employer. I made one career change. Worked for multiple employers on the second career, but didn’t have to change again. OTOH second career was one I had to continually keep learning. Not just tools and languages, those were easy. I wrote or worked on software: Timekeeping, Timber Statistical Analysis, Log Truck Shipping Manifest, (more or less) Weighted Minimum Path, Chip Billing, (Tree) Nursery Inventory & Billing, Mandatory Safety Training Tracking & Reporting, Handheld Scanner Program Generator, Accounting Distributions including but not limited to: Vehicle Maintenance, Facilities, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Utilities Billing, Sewer & Water line Maintenance, just to name a few. About the ONLY thing I didn’t get into was gaming programming (I don’t play them). Note, the topics above? Not an expert in any of them. But I know how to listen.

      Our son’s generation? We tried to be clear. Be flexible. Learn how to learn.

      1. When I started in electronics, the engineering society (IEEE) quoted a paper that said most engineers would work for three different companies their first 5 years. Came true for me, and only left the last due to permanent layoff. My jobs usually were production support (first as fab process engineer, then about 20 as a product engineer (wide range of duties for that barrel of worms), then test engineer (again multiple duties, test area process engineer, test program support, test development, und so weiter).

        The jobs kept changing, even when the title didn’t.

        1. “The jobs kept changing, even when the title didn’t.”

          Yes. Exactly.

          Way different from my dad. Dad shows up to work and is acting strange. Boss, former Owner, still major stock holder in firm based in Canada (by then), tells another Project Engineer, to take dad to hospital ER, NOW. Dad had a stroke (blockage of Carotid Artery). Emergency surgery (or let him die) to clean out as much of one side as they were able (he lived another 23 years). Dad was never going to go back to work for this firm, ever, that was known before dad came out of surgery. Dad was 50. He’d worked there for 27 years.

          Now tell me this *would happen today –> Company paid dad’s salary until he was put on early full SS and medicare. Paid for medical insurance until mom could get a job that covered both of them (through expire of “preexisting condition”, for dad). Note, mom had never worked anything other than Christmas retail, or occasionally fill in where Grandma had worked (no longer in business). They did salmon commercial fish, off the Oregon coast, seasonally … in fact it was one of the seasonal fisherman families that helped mom get her job (a cook with school district).

          *Note, it could happen today. But not the way I would bet.

          1. That’s a really good boss! Can’t see it happening most anywhere in the corporate world, today.

            When Dad died, I was a freshman in college, and his pension plan had been bollixed because it wasn’t in compliance with the current pension reform law. Dad had received his money back, and there was life insurance… OTOH, they made sure to give me an offer of a summer job at the office where Dad had worked. Did a couple summers there, where I learned about the fun and games around structural steel for a nuclear power plant. It worked out all right.

  10. > grocery stores are competing by delivering your purchases either to your home or to your car outside the store.

    …just like they did for Grandma. And dairy deliveries were still a thing here through the 1990s.

    1. That’s the funniest thing to me. So many of our “innovations” are really more about giving everyone a level of service that used to be common.

      An English friend had me watch the “Four Candles” sketch from the Two Ronnies. To me, the notion of taking your shopping list to the counter to have all the items filled is something out of the 19th century, like you see in Westerns or Anne of Green Gables. Now, you just send the store your shopping list online and get the same service.

      Or take the grocery deliveries. Our hostess was laughing about the Duchess taking the carriage to go shopping at the market instead of having the grocer deliver the goods to the house. Well, twenty years from now, that “this is what normal people do, so I’ll write my character doing it” mistake really won’t happen, because so many of us will have that same level of service.

      And then you get into things like “sexual consent contracts.” Dude, we had a name for that. It was called marriage.

      1. The thing that was problematic about that was that the “consent” was given once and was understood to apply to all future sexual acts, until the marriage ended. So if the wife said “No” and the husband used superior strength to get her to comply, the act was not defined as rape. I had that explained as recently as around 1980 when I was taking a two-semester course on business law, so the law has changed recently and attitudes more recently than that (see the scene in Gone with the Wind where Rhett carries Scarlett upstairs for the older attitudes). I think the underlying theory was that rape was a crime against a woman’s *chastity*, and sex with her husband didn’t impair her chastity, whether she wanted it or not.

        What’s happened now is that we’ve not only gone over to the law being based on informed consent, but applied insanely restrictive rules as to how you prove informed consent.

        1. Nowadays, when one spouse says “No”, repeatedly, and without good mental or physical reason, and isn’t willing to find corrections for that/those reason(s), that equates to, “Go find someone else to have sex with.”

          1. Which is yet another reason for MGTOW. Biggest motivation for marriage was availability of sex for guys without having to pay for it, woo and flatter, dodge male kin, etc. If that’s off the table plus turning you into a walking ATM, why bother?

        2. Whether legal or not, any spouse forcing intercourse upon a partner is being extremely foolish.

          Two rules for a more secure life:

          1. Never antagonize anybody with access to your food out of your sight

          2. Never antagonize anybody with access to your throat in the night

          Spouse rapists ignore those at their peril.

          1. See my comment to Mike. Marriage is a contract in most cultures for a reason. There are obligations on both parties, and spouses refusing to provide provide the due consideration that makes a contract shouldn’t be surprised when they run out of suckers.

        3. Also if your wife pulled a bed trick on you, she had done nothing wrong — and look, the marriage was consummated! (Hence Mariana having slept with Angelo was entitled to his estate, even if he thought it was Isabella.)

  11. > America was never very good for public transport. We are too spread out, even in the East.

    “[mass transit] that is, taking the 19th century’s solution to the 18th century’s problem, and applying it to the 21st century…”
    — Tom Simon, accordingtohoyt, November 28, 2016

    1. ^THIS^

      I’ve been saying for a long time that so-called ‘light rail’ is a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem. I suspected I wasn’t the only one to figure it out.

  12. “that brings us to the other side of it, what happens when most people don’t work out of offices. Most people look at that and go “Ah, time to move to the middle of nowhere. Endless acres. Cows.”“

    I’ve long thought that… but people keep moving to the cities. I know those who consider themselves our ‘ruling class’ would love to shove everyone into cities. That they then plan like some big SimCity god with model trains running everywhere… But is the continuing urbanization due to their nudging? Cultural inertia? Something economic still that I missed? Or something I’m to introverted to see? I don’t know, but the re-ruralization I expected cheap communication, transportation, and the internet to bring still isn’t happening.

    1. One huge reason is that once you get outside the suburbs, any internet is spotty, and high speed is impossible. Heck, my late grandparents AR farm (still in the family) you can’t GET a cell signal as of a year ago. No cable; we’d have to go satellite for everything and that isn’t cheap for high speed.

      1. Unfortunately, there are a lot of I.T. people who are still damn ignorant of the fact that not everyone lives in a city with 24/7 power and communication services. Usually they’re the ones pushing for SAAS models.

        1. I have it from reliable sources that the push for SAAS comes right from the top. Reason: Desktop software is mature. You buy it once, and then can use it mostly forever. I have friends who bought Office 2000 in 1999 and have been using it ever since. (One is still using Office ’97.) Microsoft got a couple hundred bucks from them 20 years ago and nothing since. The spreadsheeters don’t like that. Therefore, SAAS. Monthly cash flow, forever!

          1. It also provides them with an opportunity to re-centralize the control they lost when the mainframe went away.

      2. Satellite speed is OK (I don’t have the latest generation), but the bandwidth limitations are stiff. Off hours, I get 50GBytes per month, but between 8AM and 2AM, it’s limited to 10GB. Again, that’s per month. I don’t do videos…

        I’ve learned to do major software updates/downloads early in the morning, It also means the servers I need have a lower load.

        One of the biggest problems with satellite is speed-of-light lag. With a lot of java scripts, there’s a hell of a lot of back and forth before the pages finish loading. NoScript (and to a lesser extent Adblock) is a survival tool.

        And yes, the nearest cell tower is 10 miles away, on a mountain *just* high enough to get a decent signal in good weather. When it’s wet, moisture in the trees kills the signal (along with our cementboard siding making a tolerable Faraday cage when it’s damp).

          1. Humor > Truth.

            Therefore the State of Arkansas has now ceased to exist, replaced by a massive rifle plantation.

            (don’t feel too bad: it also causes the Clinton’s to have never existed)

            1. If you asked all of my relatives at the time, they voted to get him and his “wife” out of the state.

        1. is 404 now, but one of its more-enterprising members built an AR lower out of a pine board with hand tools. The front takedown pin lugs cracked after a few shots, but others have beefed up the area and used better wood…

          [for the non-gunheads, the “lower” on an AR is the part the ATF considers to be “the gun”; it’s the part that has the serial number. If you have a box full of them, you have a box full of guns, by their definition. But the lower is just a bracket that holds the upper (where all the expensive precision bits are), the trigger, magazine, and stock in alignment. Armalite’s original parts were NC machined, forged aluminum, but you can buy ARs with injection-molded plastic lowers, or even buy a kit to mix two-part plastic into a mold and DIY it… or even use a convenient piece of wood, a pocket knife, and a hand drill.]

  13. “America was never very good for public transport.”

    Actually, a hundred years ago public transport in America was decent, and seldom* subsidized by the public purse. Private enterprise was able to provide reasonable transit in America, at a profit, for many decades. Three things changed that. First, a burst of turn-of-the-century Progressivism forced reduction in fares, either directly (regulation of rates) or indirectly (free transfers). Second, the government-funded road improvements that made automobile travel practical outside the city, even in rain. Third, the combination of post-war sub-urbanization and commercial/industrial dispersal from the city. It was the third that was the real killer – by the early 70’s even bus transit was typically unprofitable.

    In 1920 you could get within a walkably small number of miles of almost anywhere east of the Mississippi by some combination of steam train, electric interurban, streetcar, etc. The situation in the more populated parts further west – the Pacific Coast, along the Front Range and the Wasatch, even in much of the Plains, was somewhat similar. In modern times you’re lucky if you could get within say 25 miles, and from there you might be hard pressed to find an Uber or Lyft to cover the distance that remains.

    * Several subway projects involved municipal capital spending with private operators paying rent to the municipality to pay off the bonds.

    1. Oh, this – even Los Angeles had the streetcar system. There’s always been a to-do about how the automotive powers that be deliberately trashed the system after WWII, but no – it was just that after a decade of Depression and then the war … people wanted cars. Their own damn cars, and to go where they wanted, when they wanted,

      1. The trolley systems were killed off by buses. Greater flexibility, lower capital cost.The change started well before WW II. The growth of personal cars hammered the buses, which are now all subsidized government operations.

        The key point: personal transit takes you from where you are to where you want to be when you want to go. Mass transit takes you from near where you are to near where you want to go about the time you want to go – even when the service is maximal. (Much of the time it doesn’t get you there at all.)

        1. This. A good few times when my car was in the shop, I had to use the VIA bus. A twenty-five minute commute by car became an hour-long+ commute, with the first and last four blocks of it on food. Carrying stuff. And I absolutely had to leave for, and depart work at a rigid time, in order to catch the right bus.
          Being sufficiently well-paid to afford a car means that one can live a life at your convenience – not that of the public transport system.

        2. Yes. What CeliaHayes said. The ONLY time we use the local bus system is when parking is sub-optimal where we are going. Even then we are using some form of Park-&-Ride. Used it to commute from bergs to UofO. We used it for the Fair, few times we went. It is the ONLY way to go to college games, if you go. Lord help you if you have to transport animals anywhere and have to use the bus system.

        3. Yes. Except where there’s truly horrendous traffic congestion, nothing beats the automobile for sheer flexibility and general convenience. And whether you have just yourself or a car full of passengers, you’re paying the same price. However, if transit service is frequent enough, and the total trip time will be about as long by car or transit, taking transit can let you take better advantage of the commute time.

        4. > where … when

          But, you lose the entire experience of sweating, freezing, finding a seat someone hasn’t stuck gum to or piddled in, sitting next to mentally ill people who are saving the environment by eschewing toilet paper, having advertisements blared at you from the PA system, dealing with possible freaks or muggers at the bus stops, and (in Illinois) you’re not allowed to ride the bus at all with your lawfully licensed concealed carry weapon. (hey, Rosa Parks at least got to sit in the back of the bus!)

          What are you, some kind of elitist? All good citizens should be proud to ride the bus!

      2. There were also a bunch of other issues, but yes, the diaspora to the suburbs was the deathknell for profitable urban transit. Most streetcar franchises made the streetcar company responsible for the maintenance of the street to several feet to either side of their tracks, which became increasingly expensive as cities paved, then the pavement came under increasing wear from heavier and heavier car and truck traffic. Track and wire maintenance, and property taxes on private rights-of-way, made streetcar service increasingly expensive relative to bus service.

        In the case of LA it was even worse, because the city forced continuation of two-man crews even into the 50’s, long after most cities had abandoned that obsolescent practice. And downtown congestion was another factor. Pacific Electric had wanted to build elevated rail lines back in the early part of the 20th century, but were turned down by voter referendum, because voters wanted to force them to build a subway. They couldn’t afford much of a subway (about a mile, which only accommodated a small part of some of their lines), so right to the end most of the runs into downtown went via city street, fighting automobile traffic all the way.

        Conversion to bus was generally happening throughout the US because the ROI of rail-based transit was dropping, in many cases becoming negative, not because of any vast corporate conspiracy. A few converted because road improvements were taking their rights-of-way, or because municipal governments were converting the streets to one-way traffic. Even in such cases, it was ROI that was big thing: if the income was high enough those problems could have been worked around in most cases.

        An exception was Washington, DC. And that was more a Congressional/municipal mandate to convert, against the transit company’s wishes, than anything else. The transit company had sufficient ridership on some lines that it wanted to keep them many lines as streetcar lines, but the government said no. Just a few years later Congress approved a new subway under a government agency.

        1. Its funny (peculiar) to consider that those fondly recalling mass transit never seem to consider that part and parcel with that were tenements.

          Just as those lauding the days of horses and buggies rarely expect they’d be the ones wielding the shovels.

          1. A lot of mass transit lines were built to get people out of tenements and into modern apartments or new single or two-family hours in suburbs.

    2. In the South public transport (for example, Richmond Virginia’s trolley system) went away in part because when they enacted the Jim Crow regime many Negroes (as they were at that time officially designated) when told to ride at the back replied, “I’d rather walk,”

      Amazing what even a small drop-off in ridership can do to profit margins.

      1. The Montgomery bus company only enforced the laws after the police took to random stops and arresting any driver who had let blacks sit against the law.

      2. And once that went away it’s amazing how little enthusiasm there was for paying taxes to subsidize it.

    3. In 1920 you could get within a walkably small number of miles of almost anywhere east of the Mississippi by some combination of steam train, electric interurban, streetcar, etc.

      Kept chewing on this while running around doing my errands this morning– I think it may suffer from “if you weren’t rural.”

      Which means that you cut out 30% of the population, baseline, and then you’re looking at all the little towns that were roughly “a day’s travel apart” (whatever that travel was) which ARE walkable from one end to the other, which means you’re further just looking at big cities.
      And that walkable didn’t mean “with the stuff you bought,” that could be delivered– and transit was a HUGE time sink.

      1. Yes, compared to today, it was pathetic. But the stream train represented an improvement on what had come before, and the proliferation of electric trolleys into the countryside after the turn of the century was an even greater improvement. Whereas the steam trains often offered only a couple trains a day in villages and small towns, the trolley often made many stops a day. In many of the more populated portions of farm country (e.g. Lancaster and York counties in Pennsylvania) there were multiple rural trolley lines radiating out from the county seat through farm country to little villages and hamlets. Many even offered package freight service, allowing some of the local stores in those little villages and hamlets to offer a greater selection (with a slight delay) than they could in the past.

        Even the invention and proliferation of the automobile didn’t kill the country trolley, not until enough hard surfaced roads reached enough of the countryside. Only then could the rural trolley be dispensed with.

        Because for convenience, if roads aren’t too congested, nothing beats a car. But you need hard surfaced roads so you’re not driving through muck.

        1. Sure, it’s an improvement, no argument there– but it’s not what folks are trying to talk about when they talk about public transit working.

          It’s more like a needed intermediate step. (I sure can’t see a way around it, I remember how bad the roads the horse-carts used were!)

          1. For the people at the time, it was an amazing improvement. They went from a trip to a big town being a multi-day ordeal to a day trip being a real possibility. Sure, in this day, an hour walk to a trolley stop for a 90 minute ride to a city twenty miles away would be a bit much, and utterly impractical for a daily commute. But back then it meant being able to hop over to the county seat, or even a (biggish) city, any day one wanted.

            1. ….I already agreed with you on that, which does nothing to change that it is nothing at all like what people are talking about when they say “good public transport”.

              It’s not apples to apples.

              Heck, it’s more like “when people had absolutely no other options, some forms of public transportation improved the situation and could turn a profit.”

    4. Seldom subsidized? One of the reasons for the Great Unpleasantness Between the States was the use of Federal tax dollars (paid by the Cotton States) to subsidize railroads and canals in the North. It’s also why the Confederate Constitution specifically forbade the use of national money for such purposes.

      And it had a reverberation…the interstate highway system is formally known as the National Defense Highway System. Eisenhower sold it as a national security program. And made sure it ran in the South as well as the North, the West as well as the East.

      1. I meant “seldom subsidized” mostly in terms of operations, but if you want to discuss construction that’s a very mixed bag. For construction, some railroads were federally subsidized (primarily but not exclusively transcontinental lines in the 1863-1885 timeframe, and mostly done through land grants), some received city (e.g. Cincinnati Southern) or state backing, some were built entirely with private capital, and some a mixture. Some were almost exclusively built with private funds, but accepted some money from one or more towns during route selection phase, so that the railroad would run through there.

  14. I was reading a book about programming several weeks ago that had something very smart in the foreword. “Back in 1900 it was possible to foresee cars going 70 miles an hour, but the drivers were imagined as daredevils rather than grandmothers.” Sadly, the book was not at all about that. (BASIC with Style)

          1. We used to tease my Grannie Jessie by humming that song. She was indeed, a little old lady from Pasadena. But she didn’t drive. Still hated that song.

              1. California … the terror of Colorado Blvd.
                Supposedly, there was a real Little Old Lady who inspired the song – she was a good driver, drove a sedate-looking car … and loved to challenge the teenage drag racers.

  15. Working From Home. I’m a coder. My company reluctantly started trying WFH a few years before I came on board. After it worked, they said “OK, we need more parking spaces on Wednesdays because we have a lot of meetings here at HQ.” so if you’re work from home, it had to be Wednesday. Then that worked so they expanded it to two days a week. Then we started growing. And growing. New building, new parking structure, more growth. Suddenly more people than parking spaces. Solution? Techies work from home three days a week with different people doing first/second half of week. Then they noticed desks were empty a lot. Solution? Desk Sharing! (Apparently the desks they bought for the “wonderful” open floor plan are EXPENSIVE!) Upper management hates it because “How do we know people are working?” Well, the works getting done so we must be doing something.

    I still find it funny that the only reason they embraced WFH is because they needed the space.

    1. I worked for a company close to a decade ago that was shrinking, and the office space they had was way too large (and expensive). When they decided to move to a smaller building, they offered the option of working from home to most of the employees. Almost all of the software staff took the option. It worked well, and we would pack into the actual office once a month for an all-hands meeting. Otherwise, I and the others worked on-line, and the work got done just as well. Unfortunately for us, the shrinkage continued and the company was sold and basically shut down after about a year. But it was a good year while it lasted!

  16. Long ago, when my wrld was young, I read Dr. Asimov’s breakdown of the three stages of Science Fiction:

    1. Dick Daring struggles through all sorts of challenges to invent a working motorcar!

    2. Dudley Dashing is working on his new invention when his rival, Dash Tardly, kidnaps Dud’s girl and it is only by finishing his device and using it’s fantastic speed and durability that Dud is able to rescue Paula Chritude from a fate probably worse than death!

    3. Dan Dreary lives in a future in which the automobile has completely changed American society, promoting urban sprawl, suburbs, traffic jams, juvenile delinquency, and assorted other social diseases. Fighting against corrupt* vested interests Dan must persuade humanity to give up fossil fuels before the planet revolts.

    *In 3rd Stage SF vested interests are by definition corrupt. Also venal. They represent Society’s Id, our underlying lust for materialism because Stage 3 SF has drunk deeply from the font of Psychological Subtext.

      1. Actually I think Stage 4 circles round to become Stage 1 again when a new invention makes fossil fuels obsolete. (Though now the hero inventor is called Django Daring, he’s pansexual and he comes from the Sudan.)

  17. I mean, regarding trains…As someone who lives where the weather truly SUCKS 8-9 months out of the year (as I type this, the interstate I use to get home–which is an hour away, near the mountains–is closed. Again. This time because of only a crash, instead of what it has been for the last several days off and on, which is snow + ice + crashes)…I would simply adore it if a local commuter train were available here. Wouldn’t even have to be from MY town–I’d drive the 20 miles to the next slightly larger town, and happily board a train to Rawlins (which is where I work) there. I noted when I lived in Eastern Europe that while they aren’t immune to really deep snow, trains do seem to do all right in generally wintry conditions.

    I know it’s not feasible–or at least, not feasible in a form that would also translate to “affordable ticket costs.” Not when there’s barely more thank 600k people in the ENTIRE STATE.

    But it would be nice not to have to white-knuckle it to work in the mornings/evenings during our usually-9-months-long winters… Not to mention that a train also doesn’t get over-fussed by, say, things like deer or elk derping out in front of it. Not even moose, usually (and moose leave enough that the meat gets harvested).

    1. The big problem with trains is the end points. If you drive your car to the station you still have the other end, getting your self to your work place. If that gets solved people might actually use trains more. Autonomous one or two passenger commuter cars/bubbles you can just call. Something. (The buses here have bike racks on the front, which is nice so long as you don’t have anything to carry to your destination and can physically manage a bike.)

      1. That is true–and bikes wouldn’t really work here. Hard to ride a bike when there’s snow/ice crusted everywhere, and the town’s approach to plowing the roads is to…mostly pile it 8 or 9 feet deep on the sides of the roads (sometimes the middle) thus rendering a lot the sidewalks impassible.

        I mean, technically the railroad station (if they were to use the historic one, which is very cool looking and is “downtown”) IS in walking distance of most places in town. But again, slogging through snow and/or routing around piles of ice/snow/dirt/salt that are taller than you are isn’t really doable.

        Like I said, it’s not feasible, not really. But it’s nice to fantasize about, lol. (Teleportation pads at the other end! 😀 )

      2. Synova said “The big problem with trains is the end points.”
        which is kind of why trains work to Cities. For example in Boston commuter rail drops you at North or South Station and you grab the T (or bus) to most places in the city. The problem is time and scheduling. The Commuter rails don’t run that often outside commuter times. The bus schedules and routes are a complex rats nest. Except for commute time traffic the public transport will take you 1.5-3 times as long to do the equivalent trip. And heaven help you if you miss a bus or commuter rail connection. Still I’ve been doing for 6+ years for commute and between saving money vs parking and wear and tear on me from the commute its a win, but JUST barely.

        1. For a brief while I worked at a downtown shop from 11 – 6. As I lived just down the block from a bus stop and parking cost a couple bucks daily I looked into taking the bus.

          It ran in the morning from 7:30 to 9:30 and afternoons from 4:00 to 5:30 … I decided they could keep the bus.

          1. Run into that with the college buses. They are direct from some park & rides, to downtown, then you hop the downtown to UofO. LCC has direct from each park & ride, and one from downtown, no switching for most. That was 30 minutes, not counting getting to park & ride and parking (close for me). BUT only ran from 7 – 9 and 3 to 5, from the park & rides. Oh, bother if you missed those windows. For me to not use the park & ride, there is a bus stop really close to the house, add 30 minutes in the morning, and 45 minutes in the afternoon. To the substation the house was on the last bit of route, covering the same as you would in the car, except car doesn’t stop every 2 block. Then you had to wait for the commute you wanted. Reverse was longer, because 1) the wait was longer at the park & ride for the bus I needed, then you had most of the route to suffer.

            When the school district wanted to use the county bus system for the HS, our side of the tracks, screamed, loudly. It worked for those west of highway 99, no switching of buses. For those east of hwy 99, it was at minimum an hour commute. Again, pickup the bus in the neighborhood to park & ride, wait for HS neighborhood bus, pickup second bus to HS. AND the kid still couldn’t have taken his golf clubs on the bus. Problem the school district had was those who screamed were the neighborhoods that are more moneyed than not (some mix neighborhoods, but the majority of those are in the other school district).

            Yes, two school districts … don’t ask. The other district does use the county buses for HS students. Difference is all their HS, not one student has to transfer, unless they aren’t attending their neighborhood HS; that is a choice.

      3. > The big problem with trains is the end points.

        That’s also the big problem with airports, which connect you from a place you don’t want to be to a place you don’t want to go.

        There are reasons why airships aren’t cost competitive with heavier-than-air craft. But one advantage the airships had was that they didn’t need airports or runways, just (preferably) a pylon to tie up to. Yeah, your 757 is efficient and profitable, now try landing one on top of the Empire State Building…

        1. Granted, I don’t think any of the airship mooring masts in skyscrapers were ever used. Just wasn’t feasible at the time with winds I think. Only time passengers got off an aircraft into the ESB was that B25

  18. “*In 3rd Stage SF vested interests are by definition corrupt. Also venal.”

    To be perfectly fair, if you think of prioritizing material self-interest as “corrupt” or “venal” by definition (and that’s not necessarily an unreasonable stance; there’s a reason Avarice is a deadly sin), then yes, a vested interest in anything is by definition a corrupt or venal one.

    While corporations are more amenable to user-directed correction than governments, that’s only in the presence of healthy competition in a generally rational market. Humans do not always provide the latter.

    1. The aside was intended as mockery of the pretensions and tropes of Stage Three SF, where being anti-capitalist is viewed as an emblem of woke social criticism and literary seriousness, sort of like wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey is perceived as signaling opposition to the crass commercialism of the NFL.

      But your point is well taken.

  19. Beware, though, when buying either toilets or sinks on line, often the fittings are from Eastern Europe and retrofitting them takes more creativity than you might be willing to use.

    Oh, hell no. I’m going to places that have tanks from toilets before the feds decided to make me flush 2-5 times (what? I think the amount of fiber in Colon Blow is for whimps) and get a real toilet tank.

  20. Because, I mean, the net? What’s the big deal? In the nineties, it was some geeks talking at each other over the internet, right?

    The power of the internet to organize a polity (as well as the gullibility of journalists) was demonstrated in 2004 by Howard Dean’s campaign for the Democrat nomination. Courtesy of the internet Dean was able to turn out a higher percentage of his supporters for rallies and caucuses; journalists, accustomed to seeing one tenth of a candidate’s supporters at rallies counted heads, multiplied by ten and thought they were seeing a phenomenon. It was only after Dean’s campaign augered into the ground that they realized his internet activists had been delivering 80 – 90% of his supporters to the rallies, not the assumed ten.

    And now sixteen years later we’re awash in horror stories of Russian Bots and Macedonian content farmers and White Supremacists.

    1. “It was only after Dean’s campaign augered into the ground that they realized his internet activists had been delivering 80 – 90% of his supporters to the rallies, not the assumed ten.”

      A close analogy to the difference between snail mail and e-mail campaigns. In the old days, the maxim was “for every letter you receive, you can basically assume ~100 people out there who feel the same way but didn’t bother to write.” In the age of social media, every like, message, post or retweet you get represents, at most, 5-10 silent people of similar inclination, and that proportion is dropping by the year.

      1. Active twitter users in the USA: 66 million. “Most users rarely tweet, but the most prolific 10% create 80% of tweets from adult U.S. users.”

        Which means that of census-estimated 247 million adults (Yeah, I don’t believe that’s not inflated for voter registration, but bear with me), of the 66 million twitter users (again, inflated, but bear with me), 6.6 million are creating 80% of the tweets.

        So the extremely loud political opinion and latest witchhunt and mao-mao-ing off twitter is… 2.6 percent of the US adult population, *if* they were united. Given there’s loud right-wing opposition and mockery, and some doing daily cat pictures or food pictures, if you say the prog political junkies are half the content creators… that’s 1.3% of the population.

        And that’s with inflated numbers all over. Twitter really doesn’t matter.

    2. Ron Paul used to do really well in the online polls for similar reasons – i.e. a much larger percentage of his supporters were actively online, and caught the news of polls that people who either spent more time off-line or who weren’t as politically involved didn’t know about.

  21. But the thing is that the endless acres and semi-agricultural lifestyle are a lot of work, and work the person who would have been a cubicle dweller 20 years ago might not want to do

    Yep…the fact I’m enough of a realist to know what even minimal work living in that much loved off grid cabin in the woods, combined with real worries about my two young men (the feline kind) being outdoors in such environments keep me in a more settled location.

    1. Ma: “If you want to be a doctor or lawyer or engineer, that’s great. But if you want to be a plumber or electrician or accountant, those are all good too. Be anything you like. But just one thing: Whatever you do, stay off the farm.”

      Why yes, she was a farmer’s daughter.

      1. I’ve by now told all my HS classmates on FAcebook that if they’re thinking of moving to that 5 acre lot in the wild- don’t. I’m not sure where it kicks in, but at a certain point you don’t own the land, it owns you. I have 8.5 acres, more or less, some of it swamp, er, wetland. Actually tending it would take 20 hours of work a week. I keep it mowed as much as possible. With a pass from the house to my well pump 500 feet away,

        BTW, in most Eastern states, trees are just big weeds.

        1. Some of Oregon too. Grandparents place out of Drain. Horribly overgrown last time we saw it. Someone was keeping an acre or so mowed. Blaming the neighbors who shared the driveway up. Self defense against fire if nothing else. Back section was horribly, bad. What was interesting was the neighboring property, with the full 10 acres. House sat toward the front of the property. Back part the new owners hadn’t mowed at all. There were these series of small trees on the flat and going up into the hardwood covered steep slope. During our chit chat after we walked back from looking over the devastation of the abandoned grandparents house (foreclosure) I had to tell them those small trees were poison oak. Do you know what conditions it takes for poison oak to become trees? Not oak trees. Very clearly poison oak. Normally poison oak winds around existing trees and through bushes. It bushes up. It doesn’t become trees. Probably did bush up again after a few years (been a few years since we’ve looked, too depressing). Grandparents old place had the same problem. Be interesting now that it is rumored someone has purchased it from the bank (about double what worth, if rumor is correct).

  22. “Trains in particular seem to be a fetish of progressives”

    I am firmly convinced that the term ‘Metrosexual’ ought to refer to the kind of person who apparently gets sexually excited by commuter light rail. There are already a plethora of terms for fashionable young men who take a little too much care of their appearance.

    Dandy. Popinjay.

    The Light Rail fetish is not limited to Progressives (more’s the pity) but it takes its most virulent and aggressive form among them.

    I also note that, for the most part, the people who suffer from Metrosexuality won’t actually USE the rail system they push…probably they fear having an obvious orgasm on camera.

    1. I have been of the opinion that “metrosexual’ was misapplied as one generally needs to be a mayor or sports team owner to truly f[ornicate] a metropolis.

      1. I would argue that (blank)-sexual means ‘sexually attracted to’ not necessarily ‘f*cks’. Mayors and team owners may f*ck metro areas, but they are usually attracted to money.

        In my usage, the Metrosexuals are clearly attracted to Metro systems. Who they f*ck is usually the taxpayers.

    2. The guy who was (is?) head of the California Highspeed Fail Road project got his start pushing light rail in Santa Clara County. It was wonderful, so long as you were getting paid to build it. At least until I left, it was considerably slower and less convenient than dealing with traffic jams on the way to and from work.

      1. Heh. I recollect when the BART opened anew and was hailed by Time (might have been Newsweek, might have been both) as the cleanest most modernist solution to traffic.

        How’d that work out?

    1. Didn’t one of their tame intellectuals, who for the record, stated he despised President Trump and did not vote for him, state “Congress is guilty of Abuse of Power”? That having President Trump file in court proceeding to prevent document discovery and testifying of staff, was what was suppose to occur? Regardless of whether the courts sided with President Trump or not. Even the appeals, up through a Supreme Court ruling, if goes that far, were part of the process. That there are 3 parts of government. President, Congress/Senate, Courts, not Congress overseeing President.

  23. Anyway we appreciate the convenience, the variety, an amazing array of choice previously only available to very large city dwellers.

    I note, mournfully, the expiration of that grand American childhood experience of the Wishbook’s annual arrival. Whether from Sears or, were you lucky enough to get on their mailing list, the wondrous F.A.O. Schwartz Christmas catalog’s coming in the mail was a cornucopia of wonder, object of fierce battle in multi-child households and carefully pored over daily.

    The strategies for directing parental attention to “the perfect gift” were complex beyond the dreams of little Jean Shepherd’s plotting for his official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle.

    I don’t think Amazon can replicate the childhood dreams, unimpaired by practical reality, prompted by those wishbooks.

  24. It could be, and not in the far distant future, that it will be the hallmark of an “old timer” that they miss shopping in stores.

    Rest assured that memories will forget surly staff, obstreperous fellow shoppers blocking aisles with abandoned carts, fenders dinged by parking lot carts, and the crushing of foot bones from treading upon vast areas of unyielding concrete flooring.

    I doubt anybody waxes nostalgic for this predecessor of supermarkets.

  25. The one thing almost everyone will go to the store to buy-shoes-has become almost impossible to find in anything outside of certain sizes in our towns of 70,000-ish. The college teams are all right here, buying shoes off the internet is a pain because you can’t tell if they’ll fit, and the stores can’t carry above women’s 12 and men’s 14 because corporate determines what to send them to sell.
    That is a bad model. That is why every big store has two or three long sleeved girls’ Christmas dresses left and racks upon racks of short sleeved. Surprise, when it’s below freezing and snowy dresses designed for summer weather don’t move!

    Two problems with online everything, besides the endless returning for not fitting. About ten percent of the population is unbanked. As someone who does not use credit/debit, I’ve learned which physical stores will sell me Amazon gift cards. However, it’s a problem for other retailers online, and it’s a huge problem with people with impulse problems. There are people who cannot, for whatever reason, not buy something if they have a way to pay for it. Having to physically get cash from a teller limits their damage. I could see a movement to ban instant purchases using much the same language as the old temperance movement: they beggar their families, they starve their children . . .

    The other problem is educational. A certain percentage of the population cannot learn from a screen. I’ve shared this example before: after filing business taxes for a few years, I thought I’d take an actual accounting class. The IRS allowed I was good enough at their forms, after all, and if you can, untrained, make heads or tails of their stuff, the class should be straightforward. The class was online. I couldn’t keep any of it in my head. I withdrew, because I was failing.

    I’m pretty sure I’d’ve been fine if I’d had any physical materials to work with, but I didn’t. Eldest son tried an online algebra class and had the exact same problem, zero ability to retain data. ALL educational materials are in paper here.

    Many folks have good results with online courses, but in a push to credential everyone online, there are some who will not be able to.

    1. $UNCLE taught 4th then 3rd grade (I think…) and once related that for some Standardized Test(s) there was a picture of some coins “How much money is this?” and a set of four (multiple choice test) answers. And some kids truly struggled with that… BUT if he took out actual coins and matched the picture… the struggle was almost always over.

      1. Back when I was running programming for the San Diego Comic-Con (when it was a tiny little event of 30,000 or so), I realized one year that I hadn’t made name placards for panelists. So I asked one of my staff to make them. I thought this was pretty straightforward: go to the database, select the surname, copy it, go to Word, paste it onto a line, go back to the database, select the given name, copy it, go to Word, paste it before the surname, print, and repeat for the next name. She could not do it. Now, she was a college graduate, back in the 1990s, when college wasn’t so degraded, so I don’t think it can be attributed to “not smart enough” in general; it was more that this specific type of procedural thinking was like adults talking in Charlie Brown movies as far as she was concerned.

        1. Most college majors do not require the student to master the use of technology other than that which most directly applies to the major itself. In our area of the Piedmont of North Carolina (which is overloaded with colleges and universities) a person who had gone to the local technical college and taken the coursework for office assistant would be just what you need.

        2. Back during my last months in the Air Force I was on “casual status”–meaning instead of the job I was trained for I was doing skut work for quarters. One task was was to type up labels for all the folders with records of who was assigned to what room and so on. We had sticky label forms on a strip. All that was needed was to put the building and room number on the labels. The “who and what” went in the folder.

          My boss had assigned one of the folk to start typing them out. It was…painful…watching him. I took a stack of the labels and told my boss I thought I could get it done more quickly. I ran back to my room and fired up the computer I had then, an old Apple IIe to which I had connected a tractor feed dot matrix printer (and the labels had the perforations for the sprockets).

          A brief program in Applesoft and fifteen minutes later I had labels for all the rooms we had (plus some extras because it was simply to let it print rather than write the code to skip gaps in the sequences). Most of that time was figuring out the spacing.

          Fifteen minutes for what otherwise would have been several hours.

    2. The annotated scripts to the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio programs has a note from Douglas Adams about the shoe shops bit that indicates that the problem existed in London when he was writing the program.

    3. > the stores can’t carry above women’s 12 and men’s 14 because corporate determines what to send them to sell.

      I’m not sure if there’s actual law behind that, but not-stocking larger sizes was one of the directives on Clinton’s “War on Obesity”, renewed during Obama.

      For a while there were a lot of people wondering if they should just buy some thaubs or dashikis and say to hell with ordinary clothes; a few larger sizes came back, but not much.

    4. RE. online education. I can’t go into details, but for kids? Sticking them in front of a computer from 0900-1400 every school day for several years is NOT the ideal advanced-learning program. Not for the age 8-16 cohort. Do they learn data? Sort of.

      1. Don’t know about kids. But even as an adult, I need some material printed. If no other reason I needed 5 or 6 screens sometimes. Did get better toward the end when we were graced with two screens. Could have one screen for what I was working on, then multiple pages with email, and referenced material opened on the other. Still had printed jotted notes in front of me (notes I didn’t keep). Last time I visited the programmers, all were up to 3 larger screens each, and one of those desks that allows them to sit or stand. Downside to working at home. Sure desk could be replicated, but since working at home required working on work desktop via VPN, the multiple screen is not doable; or wasn’t.

        1. It’s funny; give someone a bigger monitor, and 9 times out of 10 they’ll run it at the same resolution as before, except everything is bigger. And actively resist changing the resolution to make use of the space. But add a second monitor, and they will eventually make use of the space.

          I say eventually because most of them seem distrustful of the second monitor at the beginning, and will normally not use it at all for a while, and then slowly start making use of it. “Here, put your eBay auction on this one, and you can still surf the web on the other one while keeping an eye on it.” “Oh. OH! I can do that?!”

          Programmers seem to be the universal exception to those rules; “Space, the final frontier…”

  26. What happens when retail disappears, not just from downtown but from everywhere?

    Beloved Spouse & I have noticed the number of “shopping centers” near us which have turned into food courts. One nearby venue once had a grocery store, Hallmark shop, CD store, hairdresser, shoe repair, jeweler’s, ladies fashionable clothing, drug store, poolroom, neighborhood library, laundromat (which proved handy when a several-day winter outage caught us with a finished load of jeans between washer and dryer) and a few restaurants. Now? A tobacco and lottery ticket store, a UPS Package store, hair braider, a barber shop, a Starbucks, a Jimmy Johns, a frozen yogurt emporium and several other restaurants. About the only thing you can purchase and take home is carry-out.

    1. A tobacco and lottery ticket store

      Sounds like a “convenience” store without all the perishable, low-return, and loss-leader items. Then, I’ve described the convenience store as “A cigarette stand that sells gasoline and a few other things on the side.”

    2. Retail is indeed suffering in some places, like Des Plaines IL, where my sister lives. Half the downtown storefronts are empty. I think the problem is that the stores (built in the 1940s-1950s) are the wrong size/shape for modern retailing. When Carol and I moved to Phoenix in 2015, we were astounded at how much retail there was. And there was a pattern to it: Every mile or two in the (huge!) Phoenix rectilinear street matrix, there was a “major intersection” with all the retail you could ask for. We’re closest to such an intersection at 64th St. & Greenway. It has two supermarkets, two gas stations, six restaurants (at last count) including a Mickey D’s and a fancy white-linen Italian place, two dentists, an urgent care center, a Walgreen’s, a smoke shop, and miscellany, like a CBD store. Probably more that I don’t recall. All this is much newer than the 1950s. Or maybe it’s just the local economy, but I don’t recall ever seeing a city this busting-at-the-seams full of retail and restaurants.

      1. I was overwhelmed by the mall in Scotsdale (2015). Wow.

        We were there for hubby’s men’s club winter trip, at a hotel not far away before moving into the Wynhaven vacation condo’s near the big park in Phoenix.

      2. I’ve seen the Phoenix pattern before in the American West and Midwest where there’s an urban street grid. Also on the rural outskirts of cities, where residential and/or office development is starting inside the grid of section line roads, with retail at the intersections. (All hail the Public Land Survey System, and those who build roads along it’s section lines!)

        1. I spent a week in Wichita in the mid-80s. I was fascinated by now they’d built a “super grid” of four and six lane streets over the city, cutting it up into sections. You got on one of the super-grid streets and the speed limit was 55mph, same as the freeway back then, and lights were staged to keep traffic moving. You used the super-grid to move between the “super blocks” the city had been cut into, then poked around at the usual 25mph.

          I don’t know if Wichita is still that way, but it was the only city I’ve ever been to where you could actually move about in a reasonably quick fashion. The exact opposite of Charlotte NC in the late 1990s, which was pretty much a 24/7 traffic jam.

  27. On the theme of this I am reminded of Sowell’s description of certain retail models in, I believe, Basic Economics (perhaps elsewhere since I’ve gone through a lot of Sowell’s books on Audible over the last year or so and it can be hard to keep track of in which I read what). Back in the 19th century, Montgomery Ward (alongside their smaller competitor Sears Robuck) was the big leader in retail via mail order. They could have huge warehouses with rail lines coming right into them and maintain massive inventories of a wide variety of goods. People could order things, Wards would get it on a train and out it would go. They had variety and selection that no local store could compete with. Local stores, then focused on more day-to-day items for the most part.

    Time changed, transportation improved, more cities dotted the landscape, and a man by the name of James Cash Penny started a string of stores. He started competing directly with Wards and Sears. More cities meant more people close to the store (and therefore more customers). Cars and trucks meant people could come from farther around to do business at a store (again, more customers). And now more local and regional stores could start to compete in selection and price with the big mail order houses. This forced both Sears and Montgomery Ward to start opening their own chains of local stores.

    More years pass. Fast shipping and express services like FedEx start making shipping goods from longer distances practical and competitive with simply driving to the local store. And along comes Amazon to take advantage of that. And once again “mail order” (or in this case “web order”) starts gaining ground over the local store.

    Next turn of the wheel? I speculate that “rapid prototyping” based on 3-d printing and similar technologies might allow local “job shops” to start producing custom goods on-the-spot for customers who want them. This will require increases in size, speed, and variety of materials that such devices can handle but (as is easy for a scientist to say) “that’s just engineering.”

    1. “And once again “mail order” (or in this case “web order”) starts gaining ground over the local store.”

      What is ironic is that Sears got out of the mail order business at almost exactly the same time it was becoming clear (to anybody that was paying attention) that on-line ordering by consumers was going to be a thing. While it wasn’t absolutely clear at this point (in 1993) that the *Internet* would be the consumer vehicle, it should have been obvious that consumer ordering by computers or terminals was going to happen in some form. (Indeed, the French Minitel service had been operational since 1989!)

      1. Sears was just following Ward’s example in missing the boat.

        About the time Penny was beginning to figure out the Department Store business, an executive at Montgomery Ward was fired for suggesting they start their own chain. As a result, they missed out on an opportunity to take an early lead in the field (the time was right, as Penny showed). They spent the next decades playing catch-up before finally dying a grim death in 2000-2001. (DMSI later bought the trademarks and started a “Montgomery Ward” online retailer but it’s not the same company and has no continuity with the old one.)

      2. Sears had run an online ordering before the Internet hit big, via one of the old online services (Prodigy, Genie, etc.) and it did not go well. Of course part of the problem was that it wasn’t graphical, just basically a text catalog and an order form. Also, I’ve heard their catalog warehouse operations were very outdated. The estimated costs of upgrading catalog warehouse operations, along with their costly negative experience with online ordering, led them to decide to forego Internet sales and shutter catalog operations. Oops.

        1. I actually had a meeting with a couple of Prodigy executives (then owned by Sears, I think), circa 1995, to discuss a possible deal. They were some of the most clueless individuals I have ever encountered in business.

          I’ve also heard that Sears warehouse operations were pretty bad; one of the Chicago Boyz contributors once worked there and he says that inventory balances were not to be relied upon. Problem in all circumstances but especially bad problem in online ordering.

    2. This is a good start, but think bigger. Bespoke just-about-everything. A customer wanting a suit is measured. He takes the measurements to a shop that makes it to measure. Want a table? Choose a size and style.

      The American System of Manufacture largely crippled the old bespoke manufacturing world. The New Manufacturing Technology may well revive it.

      1. Forget taking your measurement to the store. Stand inside the scanner and let them scan you for optimized best fit.

        I’m certain there’s a market for custom shoes this way.

        The key to success in this field will be – reasonable price. Twice the retail price of off the rack stuff? Easy decision to go custom. 4X the retail price? Better be really high quality materials compared to off the rack stuff.

        6X or greater the retail price of off the rack stuff? Your catering to a small subset of the population, and they already pay more for both custom fir and special service.

        1. There’s shoe-insert scanners that do this, I’ve seen them in a couple of different stores.

          Too expensive for my taste, but they look very cool.

        2. “Forget taking your measurement to the store. Stand inside the scanner and let them scan you for optimized best fit.”

          And the FBI/NSA/ATF/”your copshop here” will have them before you walk out of the store, especially if the woke CEO handling the CRM software realizes you’re a wrong thinker. Before this is over, they’ll have everything they need to fake up any surveillance video they need.

  28. Trains in particular seem to be a fetish of progressives (more on that tomorrow) and I think they are singularly inappropriate for the US transport landscape.

    In an article that surprises me still, years later, progressivesplaining site admitted the US is making better use of railroads as freight transport than would be possible with passenger focus.

    That’s another one of my “are your serious about what you claim is the threat of global warming or just a watermelon” test. Are you trying to get more long and even some medium distance freight off trucks and into multi-stack container trains? Yes, the truck is better for the last 1-25 miles in many cases, but anything but highly perishable items are better on trains once they go intercity. Plus, you should be talking about rail electrification and using nuclear power to provide a lot of that power.

    Then again, I rarely hear climate activists talking about the difference between energy and fuel, what factors make a good fuel, or building a closed carbon fuel cycle either.

    1. The progressives what to move people by train. Coming from Philadelphia I can understand where this idea might have arisen, but even in high population corridors of the country they have not really proven cost effective for decades.

      1. I’m not sure the goal is cost effectiveness so much as keeping the streets clearer for the nobs.

        One benefit of trains is that the routes cannot be readily changed; you put a subway stop at Fifth & Main and the stores at that corner will pay a premium to the landlords who will pay premiums make campaign contributions to the responsible politicians.

        Although I would argue a bus stop is more valuable, because as soon as they neglect a campaign the bus can be re-routed.

    2. You normally don’t have to feed, water, heat or cool freight. (There’s exceptions, of course.) And it rarely complains that it’s taking too long to get to a destination.

      But passenger rail in the US? I’m not feeling it.

      We’ve looked a couple of times at taking long-distance trains for fun… (for certain values of fun which require a rather masochistic bent at this point) – and Amtrak just plain sucks. To go – one way – from Atlanta to Denver will take 4 days and cost $366 in coach. A roomette (which includes free meals) goes for $1491.

      For some, the trip is what’s important. Personally, I’d rather get to the destination. I believe the folks advocating a national rail network (“Like they’ve got in Europe!” some squee) have absolutely no idea at all just how large this country is, and what it’d take to replace airlines with HSR.

      1. Have you looked at the high-ish speed private passenger rail venture along Florida’s East Coast? It is currently open Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, and in the process of extending to Orlando. Aside from the high death toll (Don’t step in front of train running at 70+mph if you want to live!) it seems to be rather successful.

          1. What aggravates me about the trains in Florida, the only Amtrack route that makes money is the AutoTrain, from Orlando to D.C. Why would I take a train to skip the nicest part of a drive up North? It’s from D.C. to the New Hampshire border that any sane person would want to skip the drive! Or maybe have one gong to the Midwest?

            1. When it was a private operation, Auto-Train Corporation did have a Louisville, KY to Florida train to service the Midwest-Florida trade, but the L&N Railroad didn’t maintain the track very well, so a couple of derailments later Auto-Train was going out of business and eventually Amtrak resumed service, but with various restrictions placed by Congress.

              Expanding service to the vicinity of the Midwest again would literally take an act of Congress, in order to provide for the hundreds of millions involved in a terminal, additional rail equipment (locomotives, autorack cars, passenger cars, etc.) and negotiations with the railroads that would host it.

      2. Agreed – the Daughter Unit and I simply hate air travel now. I’ve pretty much committed to car travel, when required, but the Daughter Unit goes out to California by train (San Antonio to Los Angeles and back) once a year to give my sister a break in caring for Mom. It’s about a twenty-hour trip (about what it would have taken, driving) but it’s much more comfortable than air, and about as expensive. But for … arrival and departure times not being absolutely set in stone. Last time out, departure delayed for six hours (We went home and slept after checking her in) and arrivals … iffy. But the journey itself is usually fun. Last time, there were some guys in a band who amused the other travelers with an impromptu concert, and she amused some of the children with showing them how to do origami.
        There were a lot of families traveling with children, last time I noticed – it must be much less fraught for the kids, not shackled to a tiny seat for the duration. Instead – being able to get up and move around during the trip…

      3. First, I’ve observed that most people from the Urban Axes of I-5 and I-95 have a terrible grasp of geography.

        Second, Europe is far, far smaller than most Americans realize. France is a large European country…you can drive across it in six hours. It’s the size of Texas…which is a large state, but not the largest, and small relative to the continental United States as a whole.

        1. I once noted that the distance between Los Angeles and New York is one and a half times *further* than it is between London and Moscow.

          And before someone points out that LA is near the SW corner of the US, and NY is near the NE corner of the US, please note that there’s a similar latitudinal difference between LA and NY, and London and Moscow.

          1. Stephen Fry (English comedian, former host of “QI”) did a six-part documentary called “Stephen Fry in America.” It’s intended for a British audience, pointing out how things are different in America.

            Several times in every episode he hammers home his main points… how BIG America is compared to Britain, and that America is not a monoculture.

            The first episode is a bit of a dog’s breakfast, to use a Britishism, but they’re all on YouTube; if nothing else, I recommend episode 4.

  29. A little motivational music for those who are still putting up their decorations:

    Let’s have care out there today, okay?

  30. Ever read Limbo, a dystopian fringe-SF nove by one Bernard Wolfe?(published by Ace in 1966) The slogan “Dodge the steamroller!” figures importantly.

  31. I think grade-school through high-school education is going to shake out hard in about ten-fifteen years. Some of the high-quality private and charter and magnet schools will continue as they are. Some strongly denominational private schools will continue. The publics? I wonder if we’re going to start seeing a quasi-European pattern developing with split tracks re-emerging for vo-tech, manager/pink-collar, and then college track. With home-schooling stripping a lot of the numbers out of the publics, when and where it can be done. (In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the home-school co-ops don’t turn into part-time private schools, like happens here a few times a year. The co-op hires in a specialized teacher for, oh, advanced chemistry, or calculus, and all the kids move into town for a week or two and do intensive lab work and courses.)

      1. *Grin* They’re later out here, and I’m thinking of a national, larger scale movement. All the benefits of labs and good instructors, without the administrative requirements.

    1. You’re forgetting the law, though: children with special needs must be given the same opportunities as regular students. So tracking per se won’t make a comeback, but middle-college, tech, and trade programs in high school will continue to grow. I forsee a return of apprenticeships, with more students being business interns, naval cadets, or whatever the local need is.

  32. Don’t worry…I figure that the days of a farmer actually driving farm equipment in person are numbered. It’ll either be autonomous, or remote operation.

    But as I mentioned in another comment on this thread, I think a lot of the future will be in custom fabrication. In the 1830s and 1840s, the American System of Manufacture (not merely interchangeable parts, but tooling so they could be made by semi-skilled labor) strangled bespoke products. You didn’t have a gunsmith build you a rifle to your specifications, you bought whatever Winchester or Remington had on offer. But with the proliferation of CNC machining and 3-D printing, it’s possible to deliver bespoke goods at a reasonable price. And internet-based sales and modern shipping gives you entry into a global marketplace.

  33. The kitchen store in my local outlet mall is running a going our of business sale. When we first got here there are 4 stores in that mall that had kitchen stuff. Soon there will be one. And I’ve talked to people who work there. When the lease runs out, they’re leaving. There will be one or two stores left open in big markets for remaindered stuff that will also carry their regular line, but the retail business is going away.

    How does this affect me? Not that much. BUT – almost every item I’ve ever purchased in any of those stores is something I bough because I walked in to see what they had. I only browse online for things I am actually looking for. Because everything was at least 25% off, I bought more than I would have. Also a 9 x 9 ceramic coated non-stick baking pan. I was looking for 8 x 8 and 9 x 9 pans, 2 each, and was getting ready to order them online. I ended up buying them the other day, but it took THREE stores to do it! You know, a common item. The stores we went to didn’t even have uncoated pans that size in stock.

    Retail is in a tough place. If they don’t have what we want, we’re not going to order and wait for it, we’re going to go home and order it, with no separate shipping and handling charge. If they do have what we want – it’s price needs to be competitive with online or the type of thing when you buy it you need it NOW! Like when I buy a well pump – I don’t keep a spare in the house, and don’t want to wait a few days for water….

    By the way, all of who’ve worked for that big orange box call it Home Despot….

    1. Alternately, the retail store needs to offer a service that the online store can’t. For instance, my Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) offers a very large play area, with well over a dozen large tables that groups can use for their RPG or miniatures gaming.

      1. THIS! If you’re competing with Amazon or other online sellers, you’ve already lost. Offer something they CAN’T offer, and you’re good to go.

  34. On the subject of mass transit, I once looked into what would be involved getting to work. First I’d have to walk about a mile from my home to the nearest bus stop. Then, with changes, I’d need about two hours to get to work. Return would be the reverse of that. My boss has been good about letting me work out flexible hours around my daughter’s school schedule and the like so I could arrange either start or end time to mass bus schedules, but that would still leave about a half hour “dead” time at one end or another. All told, simply commuting would take up four and a half hours. Add in about a nine hour workday and allowing for required sleep and I’d have a whole four and a half hours a day for everything else–family, myself, any weekday shopping or other errands, bathing, what have you.

    But wait, there’s more. Due to some serious issues at the public high school my daughter was attending, I moved her to a charter school near downtown. There’s no school bus. Teachers and students are on their own for getting there. So, I take her to school to drop her off close to as soon as the school opens for students (generally about an hour before classes start–this is time for teacher office hours or they can chill in the cafeteria). I then leave work in order to pick her up at the end of the school day. I take her back to the officer with me where she sits in the conference room playing on her phone, or simply naps under the conference table. I work a bit later in the day to make up the time. (I have a great boss. Pay and benefits might not be quite as high as they would be some places, but how many places would let me do this kind of thing?) Try doing that on public transportation. I would have had to either leave her in a truly horrid situation (not happening) or…I don’t know what other options there might have been. Homeschooling can be awkward at best for a single father.

  35. Honestly, I was steamrolled in January 2003 when I ended up in the hospital and almost didn’t survive it. My life hasn’t been the same since. Plus with the dialysis hanging over my head I think I’m going to be steamrolled again soon.

  36. Ever since Tuesday I’ve been noodling about creating some form of virtual convention online, something similar to the Bittercon posts I do sometimes on my blog but at a central location dedicated to the purpose. Maybe a sort of aggregator or reposter function as well to pick up other people’s virtual convention activities, but in a way that would give their blogs a boost rather than cannibalizing their traffic.

    After the first of the year, when I’m finally finished dealing with the insurance company and the contractor for the storm damage, and when I’m in a new fiscal year (since I do not want to add any additional expenses on this year if I can help it), I may start seriously looking into what is possible. In the meantime, I have a Bittercon running for Midwest Fur Fest (got waitlisted yet again for the Dealers’ Den) this weekend.

  37. Just to mention: I’m really hoping that a lot of people get steamrolled Monday, or at least the process of steamrolling started….

    Pearl Harbor Day Saturday, and the IG report explodes in Washington on Monday..

  38. “our local Home Despot (yes, I know. I just find it funny to spell it that way.)”
    Ha!!! I’ve been saying that for 30 years now (yes, I know. Everyone else is sick of me.) I guess warped minds really do think alike.

  39. “schools are in the path of the technological innovation steam roller”

    To me, it seems the problem is one of over-abundant possibilities. There are five steamrollers with erratic paths and it’s unclear which will actually reach the school. Some of the proposals I’ve heard and experiments I’ve seen in the last decade:

    1. One-to-one technology with blended classrooms.
    2. Online academies with teacher/mentors who monitor the student progress and provide small-group tutoring as needed.
    3. Hands-on labs 100% replaced by virtual ones.
    4. Limiting direct instruction to twenty minutes; the rest of class period is made of online work and practice with peers. (Kagan is one methodology.)
    5. 100% online classes, with remote tutors instead of in-person teachers. (Bonus for districts if the tutors are highly-educated, low-paid professionals in developing countries.)
    6. Brick-and-mortar schools only for students who need personal attention and – for lack of a better word “social skills training” that their families can’t provide.
    7. Students moving into online and/in-person college and trade school classes by their junior year (BTW it is hilarious when helicopter parents realize that colleges can’t legally divulge their child’s grades and their darling refuses to share the info. Added hilarity when child ignores the repeated information that college classes start weeks earlier than high school classes.)

  40. I notice this with our local mall. Sear went bankrupt and left. Now JC Penny (one of three remaining anchor stores) has left. About half the mall shops are empty. And the surrounding community is starting to become a ghost town, once vibrant areas being replaced by Pawn Shop and Liquor Stores and Section 8 Housing. Run away run away!

    Another indicator I’ve noticed – the sudden influx of tow trucks parked all over the neighborhood at night. These are buzzards who prey on poor people who are irresponsible with paperwork. Like the Police er I mean Revenue Agents who have loosened the requirements to seize auto assets for auction (that I suspect seeds some shady slush fund). Run away run away.

    Meanwhile, Amazon is using that money to run adverts on sites like Insty, and threatens to deplatform anyone with WrongThought. “We regret to inform you that your opinion on China has violated the terms of service agreement”

    1. “Meanwhile, Amazon is using that money to run adverts on sites like Insty, and threatens to deplatform anyone with WrongThought. “We regret to inform you that your opinion on China has violated the terms of service agreement””

      Shhhhh. Don’t say that here. The author set is walking softly now that most of their whole income stream is dependent on Amazon’s slightest frown. They’re eager to parrot the whole “violated TOS” line too, since they’ve figured out you can’t prove the TOS was changed as needed and without warning unless you have a flock of lawyers, forensic IT audits, and a judge who won’t throw out the suit like he’s paid to. That TOS is your “publisher contract” whether you admit it or not…. Would any author sign that kind of malleable contract with any publisher including Baen? Even when Jim Baen was still running it?

      One aspect of the steamroller that hasn’t been paid enough attention to is that when information is malleable, your legal system ultimately has no way to prove anything that isn’t physically present…. and if it had to pass through electronic format, it might as well not be physical. Can’t keep the crime scene pristine until trial? Prove it wasn’t what comes out of the police recording. “But I never owned that gun!” “We’ve got the purchase records that say you did.” Software that can put one face on another body (and if enough data about physical characteristics can be obtained, you’ll be doing things on electronically generated video that will amaze you) means that even surveillance video/audio doesn’t prove you didn’t do it.

      Reality is what you believe is real until physical events settle things. See global warming for how that’s working out.

      1. Oh, dear.
        We are NOT walking softly.
        I know the inside on almost all the “Amazon deplatformed.” Let’s say 99% of the books done fucked up another way, then covered it with “it was politics.”
        Glenn is still on Amazon, and he’s bigger and better known as a conservative than MOST of them. Pfui.

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