Immovable A Blast From the Past From June 2013


*So I lied. I’m not going to write a new post today. The novel is late, and I need to finish that. OTOH I AM going to fiddle with the blog at lunchtime and possibly after work. So if you notice wildly appearing and disappearing features, headers and titles, pretend you can’t see it 😉  It will pass. – SAH*

Immovable A Blast From the Past From June 2013

Recently I posted about the fact that at least the gatekeepers in science fiction are solidly left – and by left I mean they’d shock many people in our college campuses – which leads to the selection of works that enforce (a rather colorless, drab, and frankly unreal) “political correctness.”

I thought there was no disputing this. Look, guys, as the country debated things like government take over of health care, 99% of my colleagues said a resounding “yeah.” Redistribution of wealth? A resounding yeah. Restrictions on doing business – yeah. The science fiction field is full of works with evil military, dastardly corporations and saintly public servants. Woman after woman in the field imagines herself downtrodden and preaches endlessly about evil males and thinks she’s fighting the patriarchy that in her mind existed circa 1950. (And in fact not since the thirties or, for some aspects, never outside Islamic countries.)

In fact, the only place you can find as far left as science fiction is the college campus.
Imagine my surprise when someone – a person I like actually, personally, and outside politics – informed me on my facebook page that I was mistaken and if I thought science fiction was hard left it was because I didn’t know where the center was.


He assured me that science fiction was libertarian. After all, Wikipedia says so. I have by the way had this quoted at me by foreign fans. Which at least makes some sense. They haven’t sat at panels in sf cons and heard writers and editors declare themselves socialists or say that their duty is to “unsettle the bourgeois.” (This due to the fact that these luminaries lack mirrors, I think.) And they might not know that the dreck that wins most of the peer-awards (really, guys, really? The Cultural revolution was nicer than the American suburbia? And you bought that because it was all wrapped in sentimentality or because you secretly agree? I’m not even sure I know which answer I’d prefer from you.) is not in fact the best that’s produced here. It’s like my poor mother not knowing anything about the IRS scandals because the press there won’t report them.

But that a local thought the field was “mostly libertarian” is jaw-droppingly strange.

And then I realized what the heck he was talking about. I’d “misestimated where the center is” because the center, like Pratchett’s turtle, moves. That is, he figures that libertarian is now anyone who isn’t openly a Stalinist and advocating the internment of everyone to right of Lenin.

At least that is the only interpretation that can be put to “don’t know where the center is.”

So… let me explain something – the definitions of left and right are at best flawed. But let’s go with the idea that the left advocates for maximum government control. Despite the flapping about keeping the government out of people’s bodies and private decisions, they do after all advocate for controlling what people can drink, eat, smoke, what kind of health care people can get, and what procedures are approved of (abortion) and which denied (life extending surgery [whether or not] of dubious value.) They in fact think that either the government or a group of enlightened people needs to keep the masses from making “the wrong decisions.”

I’m not saying anything controversial. Person after person at the Democrat convention in 12 said that everyone has to belong to something and we belong to the government.

That’s the left. And frankly, as someone who grew up learning Marxism (in every course in tenth and eleventh grade) and studying (and experiencing) both socialism and communism, those are the foundations of socialism and communism. “The individual counts for nothing, the collective is all. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”

Let’s place that on the left pole, shall we?

By comparison to that, I AM the right. (I get called right but actually the current left/right continuum is on internationalist/nationalist lines, not on the lines of individual freedom — which means libertarians don’t fit anywhere. Since I get called “right” I’ll take that. I’m certainly opposite both communism and fascism, both red and black totalitarianism.) I stand on the opposite side, holding my broomstick like a samurai sword and saying “I don’t care what you need, you don’t have the right to take from anyone against their will.” That is me. Or at least that’s me as I would like things to be. Morally – mentally – I stand solidly anchoring the side of the individual against the state.

Now, I am not stupid, and while in an ideal world, a system of all being extreme individualists would work, in an ideal world so would communism work. (It’s just that in an ideal world for communism, humans would all be termites or carpenter ants or something.)

So while my heart is pure I’m willing to compromise. I’m willing to understand that governments are needed in order to secure the individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I’ve read the constitution and I’ve seen that it’s good. Common defense? Yeah, we need that. After all the foreign nations aren’t all – or any of them – angels. Not letting the states go to war with each other? I’m all for that. Having the president negotiate with foreign powers. Yay. Most of the other stuff left to the states? Okay. It could be inconvenient having to move between states, but after all people do that all the time. So let the states be laboratories of governance. I’ll buy that.

I’ll go that far, but no further. There are evils already inherent in that compromise, like the critters who believe that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness gives them the right to confiscate the results of other people’s labor or that “at some point you’ve made enough money” – because it arrogates to them to decide how much people should make. Like the people who think they should have the right to every email you send, to store somewhere and look over for signs of sedition. Like those who think that the people the country should be defended against are those who believe in the constitution.

But a government is needed. And if we can keep the intrusions to a minimum, we can take a little poison with our tea, like the nineteenth century people who took a little arsenic every day.

So, is my position center? Good heavens NO. There can be no center between the Stalinists who would enslave, silence and murder all who disagree with them and those who wish to keep a maximum of freedom, responsibility and power in the individual.

The center does not move just because one side gets more and more extreme. And the center holds no special virtue anyway.

Look, if half the people think that you should cut your head off, and half think the head should stay on, do you compromise by cutting off your ears?

Of course you don’t. Cutting your head of is wrong even if half the people believe you should do it. It is wrong even if all the people believe you should do it.

I don’t particularly care how many “experts” tell me a command economy is better – I grew up watching command economies up close and personal. I can also read seven languages and I KNOW the unholy mess Europe is in. I’ve also studied economics, which by the way is a science and not a sort conjuring wand that you can wave around to get the results you want. I know that you can raise the minimum wage till you’re blue in the face but it will not create prosperity. What it will create is the type of market distortion that makes illegal immigration unstoppable and makes the less-educated Americans already here unemployable (and dependent, and suffering from all sorts of pathologies.)

Because the people who believe in the magic wand of minimum wage are more than half the country, does that make the solution sensible? No. Not any more than creating and raising a minimum wage makes it “real”. It just creates distortions and evokes the law of unintended consequences. It’s sort of like making cancer illegal so no one will die of it. All you’re doing is making the MENTION of cancer illegal and ensuring MORE people die of it.

Every time an all-powerful state gets power over individuals, it ends in tears. Sometimes – most of the time – it’s the mass murders, from Hitler (yes, he was left bucko. Kissing cousins to Stalin. They merely disagreed on whether state power should be national or worldwide) Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot. Sometimes it’s the soft glove of lack of innovation and settling for less that has taken over most of Europe (and how many young people who couldn’t find jobs have died of drug abuse or despair? Can you count them? No? Why not? Because you’ve been told it’s unbridled markets that cause the trouble? We haven’t had unbridled markets anywhere for a century.)

And sometimes, when it ALMOST works, when the country is more a tribe than a country, as in most of Scandinavia, it just leaves you open for plundering by foreigners who come in and are unassimilated and unassimilable and hate you because you pay and pay and pay but you can’t MAKE them like you.
Every time the individual is left at least a bit of freedom (we are at best social democrats) unparalleled prosperity and innovation – UNEXPECTEDLY – flows out onto the world. Must be luck!

Is there a center between these two points? A place where only some people are killed? A place where only half of your earnings are plundered? (About where we are, at least if you’re self-employed.) Is that just? Is that fair?

If three wolves and sheep vote on what’s for dinner, is it the center to make the sheep only half-dead?

And if all of science fiction writes about the glorious future when the wolves eat the capitalist sheep does that make the wolves right? Does that mean that’s the center now?

Let’s not kid ourselves – the fans who remain hardcore fans and still attend cons are those who believe the center moves. They have gone along with the stories of all men as villains, humanity as a plague upon the earth, redistribution and glorious statism forever. There are exceptions: some cons in the South East. But by and large the field tilts further left every year.

Is this where the center is? No.

Is this where the rest of the country is?

Snort. If it were the print runs wouldn’t fall every year.

Yes, I know. It’s because those… those… those… rednecks refuse to be enlightened. (Weirdly, Baen doesn’t have that issue. Baen continues to sell. Yeah I know “they sell to those rednecks” because they publish “right wing tripe.” Actually Baen publishes all political opinions and finds readers of every political color. Maybe the other houses should try it? Maybe they should look at how sf from different perspective sells indie to people who in fact haven’t gone along with the ride to the far left? Maybe they should consider that in fact people who disagree with them are not some sort of evil fanatics but simply people who believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

People who, in fact, know the more you feed the beast the more it will – eventually – eat you. Turns out unbridled unaccountable power is not held by altruistic scientists somewhere, always looking to serve others but by self serving bureaucrats who will torture those who oppose their power – for now psychologically. And that’s wrong. It’s always wrong.

Because the consensus might move and the center mean nothing, but: A government that allows for individual freedom and human dignity?  THAT is the ideal and it doesn’t move.

Go on – tell me that because I don’t believe in controlling others, nor do I grant you the right to take from me my freedom, my labor, or my property without my consent, I am a “fascist” and “extreme right.”
I’m only extreme right when opposed to the fanatical devotion to faceless bureaucratic government the left now seems to believe in. And if that’s the left, I’m so far right that by definition everything else is to the left. (Fascist? Good Lord! You mean Hitler didn’t believe in power to the government? Who would have thunk it.)

I am what I’ve always been: a believer not in the masses but in the individual.

The RIGHTS of the individual outweigh the WISHES of the many.

Eppur NO si muove


194 thoughts on “Immovable A Blast From the Past From June 2013

  1. OTOH I AM going to fiddle with the blog at lunchtime and possibly after work.

    Good. Looking forward to getting proper black text back, presuming the background remains light.

    1. What I have on my screen is rather nice to look at.   My problem is that the whole thing is being finicky as all get out to work with when scrolling and for posting purposes. 

      But, hey, as ever, WP Delenda est… 

        1. This seems better. Maybe.

          Where’s the pudding?

          What does it do with the comment once posted?

          Will Kip and Pee Wee ever again know the comradeship that once boded them together?

            1. And Glor’Bea! The screen returns to the scene of the crime post.

              For that matter, the postie window manifests below the post to which it replies. What innovative design!

              It seems prudent to insert a blank row or two at the conclusion to keep the Reply Button from cramming up against the posted text.

              1. Meh. Blank rows at the end so not push the Reply Button downward. There are things we can do about that.

              2. I honestly cannot recall whether or not I closed the strike-through on crime post, but for those wondering I used the DEL /DEL function. Whether alternate protocols will work remains to be obscene.

          1. I like this setup MUCH better. The non-white background is to my liking, and the text seems to be genuinely black once again. And that the icons/avatars appear universally is Good Thing, as is the proper placement of boxen for replies. I’ll miss the threading lines, but I can park the pointer and key-scroll to get around that fiddly bit.

            1. An report, not a complaint. As you’ve already changed it …[shrug]

              Overall this seems much improved; enough so that further fiddling about seems unnecessary.

              For the record, I am finding that reply windows* and posted replies are occurring just where they ought (reading in Chrome running on Win 10)

              *except when replying from emailed comment, which open at the bottom but revert to proper place oce posting is done. Same as the old model.

      1. I’m getting a dark gray on white, while bold is quite black. Other quirky bits; it takes you to the bottom of the comments if you are replying to another comment, and heaven help you if you cancel the comment; you are still stuck in Lodi the bottom again. Haven’t tried blockquotes; by moving to the bottom, it just made it harder to get the right section to quote.


        OTOH, I won’t post at Peter Grant’s site because I won’t have a Google account. WP at least pretends not to be evil, though sufficiently advanced incompetence might be indistinguishable from evil…

        1. There are a number of sites that insist on obeisance to the Goog or “registration” before they’ll allow a post. And now Passive Voice has jumped on that bandwagon, so I won’t be participating there any more. There are others that depend on “Disqus”, which both requires an account and a compatible browser; it is apparently crufted with some kind of browser-specific javacrap.

        1. Okay, you guys might have settings. I made it black on white. That’s as far as the slider goes.
          OTOH as I said, this is only till tonight.
          There’s a new header too. (Groans.)

          1. There is a new header now, with no cybercat, and glowing-neck-band-girl has a pulse rifle in the 30 megawatt range.

      1. It’s light gray on white, with some spidery font that’s particularly unsuitable for such a faint contrast.

        It’s *really* hard to read.

      2. When I drag and drop, the editor calls the font PT Serif Regular. I see dark gray on a white background. Bold has thicker lines and also looks darker, but that may be an illusion.

        Only top-level comments to the article itself show avatar pictures. Replies to comments do not.

        The indent lines are gone. Those were handy for tracking the 44th reply back to the post that inspired it.

        The text area is not any wider than it used to be.

        All factors considered, I don’t think it’s improved. Keep monkeying with it, I guess.

          1. When I click “Reply” it does not open a reply window at that point, it jumps all the way down to the bottom reply box – though the reply does in the end appear to end up in the correct place.

            1. jumps all the way down to the bottom

              If we got the line “jumps all the way down to the bottom” as the firsr bit, blockquotes work fine if you plan ahead. [Cynical laughter, followed by a serious coughing fit.]

              I’m not sure what was broken in the last theme, but this has added a whole new set of breakage. WordPress is interesting.

              1. OK, no distinguishing marks to indicate a blockquote. (at least from what I see. Anybody else see it with a special designation?) What are the WordPress gnomes thinking?

                1. WordPress gnomes thinking

                  Objection, your honor: Assumes facts not in evidence. There is nothing in the record to conclude that any Fae programmers WP contracted from Boeing, whether gnomes or goblins or otherwise, and the term “thinking” should validly be used in the same sentence

                  1. There is nothing in the record to conclude that any Fae programmers WP contracted from Boeing, whether gnomes or goblins or otherwise, and the term “thinking” should validly be used in the same sentence.

                    I’m thinking about punting some Gnomes?

                    Seems valid to me!

              1. I had wondered at that … considered that maybe you were in the grip of a bout of Austen mania.

                    1. Pictures a fat cyborg “singing” with a voice like Stephen Hawking’s. [shudders]

                      FWIW, the latest theme looks good. Bold is now a bit subtle, but Italic should be sufficient. Everything else seems to be working, OTOH, I’ve only had one cup of coffee so far.

                    2. Unlike, say, Wagnerian opera, space opera seems to be short on fat ladies. I’ve never seen Aniara the only literal space-opera of my acquaintance, but all the photos of productions seem to show slim/trim singers. If you mean the literary space opera as practiced by such diverse authors as Doc Smith and John C. Wright, not a fat lady in sight there either. 🙂

            1. This ain’t about the nit-picking, it is bout gaining feedback from users as to how this option functions. For example, how else is she to know that anybody reading down the comments, upon replying, gets bumped back to the top loses their place?

              The nit-picking won’t matter until she ignores our ever so helpful advice and lets Word Press Word Press.

              1. My Dear RES, I only have your best interests in mind.

                I was concerned that our Lovely and Powerful Host was getting slightly annoyed about the comments.

                While you can survive Dragon Fireballs, I wanted to spare you the Pain of Regenerating from the destruction such Fireballs would cause. 😈

      3. Strange. On my computer the print is a very dark gray on a soft white and that which is bold comes across as BOLD!.

        Again … as ever … WP Delenda est.

    2. OK, so, ‘nother issue, <blockquote> does not indent or italicize like it used to. Failure to indent is the more annoying aspect. I can add <i> and </i> if I have to.

    3. The new <blockquote> looks good, but could really use a blank line below it.

      Clicking REPLY still sends me to the bottom of the page. Some folks said it was fixed; is it broke again, or does it just not like me?

    4. Oh, would it be possible to restore the comment count to the beginning of the articles? Clicky comment count at the beginning, even better.

      Just found the RECENT COMMENTS section, but for me it’s at the bottom of the page, below the REPLY textbox. And only 5 Recent Comments?

      1. Not that I can do without reprogramming. Would you rather I do that, or write?
        This theme was a compromise, sorry. And yes, the former one had issues for me, which necessitated changing.
        I can make it ten recent comments. That’s my choice. BUT yes, it’s at the bottom because on those occasions I get linked I’d like people to see my books? Maybe buy one?
        Again, this blog, much as I love you guys, pays around $2k a year, for a ton of work. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like you guys. Part of this change it trying to make it more likely for it to “make money for the time I spend.”

        1. Hey, guys? If any of us have time to program, maybe we could set up our own WordPress blogs, figure out the settings, and then present them to Sarah.

          Or we could sit back and kibbitz….

          1. Or we could sit back and kibbitz…

            Many, many moons ago there was a comic strip called ‘Overboard’ about life on a pirate ship. First Mate overhears two crewmen griping.

            First Mate: “Gentlemen, you have a choice. You can identify the problem, find a solution, and work to make things better. Or, you could just sit around and complain about it.”

            Crewman 1: “Well, I vote we just keep complaining.”

            Crewman 2: “Good choice.”

            And off they go on their not-so-merry way.

          2. As I recall, that was the problem young Bernie Sanders had during his time in Israel: He though living on a kibbutz meant he all he was supposed to do was kibbitz.

  2. The whole thing with the sentiment about the needs of the many that people forget is that, in the most famous depiction thereof, it was the individual’s CHOICE to sacrifice himself for his FRIENDS. It was not something that could be ordered or compelled, and trying to make such sacrifices compulsory would diminish his choice, and him.

    That is what makes someone heroic–that they are willing to make a *choice* about their sacrifice. Compelled virtue is no virtue at all.

      1. Every situation is different which is exactly what the decisions made across those two movies show. And self-sacrifice is very different from someone sacrificing someone else.

  3. “(Weirdly, Baen doesn’t have that issue. Baen continues to sell. Yeah I know “they sell to those rednecks” because they publish “right wing tripe.” Actually Baen publishes all political opinions and finds readers of every political color. Maybe the other houses should try it? Maybe they should look at how sf from different perspective sells indie to people who in fact haven’t gone along with the ride to the far left? Maybe they should consider that in fact people who disagree with them are not some sort of evil fanatics but simply people who believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)”

    I’d say this hasn’t held true.

    1. Seven years ago herself was still a Baen author and the rot that had infected the rest of trad pub had not yet fully taken over at Baen.
      Sadly, that is no longer the case. Factions within the house are apparently bound and determined to cleanse the stable of wrong thinking writers and replace them with those more in line with “conventional” thought. In other words there are those at Baen desperate to turn it into a mini TOR.

      1. And please, everyone, do NOT confuse “mini TOR” with “Minotaur.”

        One is a nasty, mindless soul-sucking monster.
        And the other…. well, I don’t suck souls. Or soles. Alright?
        Oh yeah,also not mindless. Just a bit… s l o w .

        1. The kindest definition of a mini-tor would be the 20-50 foot piles of a’a’ lava that exist around here. As far as land goes, it’s pretty close to useless.

      2. Wanting to be A Mini Tor will and almost as well as wanting to be a Mini Venezuela. Ah well plenty of Indy fare to be had. Short purchases of old back catalog stuff, and a bit of Weber (not on Baen) I’ve bought nothing from the major publishers. Mostly because I can’t stomach paying the same (or more!) for Kindle as for Paperback for a book that will probably only rise to Meh.

      3. What shall it profit a publisher to make piles of money and lots of happy readers in exchange for the respect and admiration of peers?

        1. The guy that pioneered e-books passed away some years ago. Those currently at the reins … well … they’re eager to be of the center.

      1. Sarah, they’re just like any other organization not specifically set up to avoid takeover by the Left.

        1. From my point of view, I have little enough information that several models are possible. At least five. One of which may simply be crazily reading too much into the past dozen or so years of Baen books.

        2. Particularly in the case where the founder passes the reins to another generation, either of offspring or outside management. Examples include WalMart, Hewlett-Packard, and Ford, though the company doesn’t have to be named after the founder(s); just makes it easier to see.

          “Forget what your [father|grandfather|the founder] said; this is the way to do business in the modern world! New fad must overrule all old business decisions!

  4. Woman after woman in the field imagines herself downtrodden and preaches endlessly about evil males and thinks she’s fighting the patriarchy that in her mind existed circa 1950. (And in fact not since the thirties or, for some aspects, never outside Islamic countries.)

    I always find myself rather bewildered that these feminists set themselves up in this rather exhausting lifestyle mindset willingly. It’s a rather useless, if not outright self-defeating sort of place to put oneself, a mental cage-and-shackles that devours happiness and contentment, since one is always looking for offenses to their mindview. I cannot fathom the desire to be constantly angry the way they do, because frankly, being endlessly angry is like having constant tension headaches.

    And worse, the stuff they get so wound up about …often isn’t the things they SHOULD be wound up about. (Grooming gangs come to mind.

    1. I wouldn’t presume to say that they *like* being angry, but I would definitely say that being angry brings them *satisfaction*. It also gives them a ready-made excuse for when things don’t go the way they like–it is the world deciding that they are “difficult” because they demand too much. Or so they tell themselves.

      Yeah, I don’t get it either.

      1. Some people are normalized to conflict and don’t feel comfortable in any but an adversarial relationship. I’ve had to drop associating with several people like that. You can’t even take them to dinner. They will sit and fidget and finally try to pick a fight over something because it doesn’t feel normal. They can get that way as adults by being in the military or a horrible school or company – but mostly they need to be raised in a dysfunctional family to have a really bad case of it.

        1. As I put it in a story I’m writing: “The war is won, but they can’t stop fighting the battle.”

          They have to see oppression, injustice and discrimination everywhere because they don’t know who they’d be without it.

        2. Well described. There are people who NEED to be in perpetual, at the minimum, ‘argument mode.’* I’ve known people who can’t stop testing their relationships (both male and female, interestingly enough) so it’s not just a female trait. I’ve watched them push relationships until they broke, then they’d nod to themselves, satisfied that they’d ‘proven’ that the relationship ‘wasn’t as strong as the other person claimed it was.’

          *I wonder if that’s the reason behind the Karen stereotype, to some extent (though, I gather they are also female bullies, so might not be exactly the reason behind them.)

      2. I loved my Mom, but a big part of my growing up process was when I realized that for some reason she was never truly happy unless she was pissed at *someone*. If no outsider had done anything to perk her ire, then someone/thing in her circle of family/friends would have to do until something ‘better’ came along. Once I realized that it wasn’t really personal, I was able to relax and roll with it.

        1. My mom does that to avoid being depressed.
          Your mom might have been managing bipolar, in an instinctive way figured out before she even realized what she was doing (too.)

      3. There’s also a moral element to it. The easiest way to make yourself feel moral is to find someone ‘worse’ than you are, and loudly condemn them.
        That way, you feel righteous without having to take a look at your own failures and shortcomings.
        It’s also addictive.

      4. Many people, male and female, prefer to blame others than accept responsibility for the mess they’ve made of their own lives. Being angry — especially at vast ill-identified forces — offers opportunity to expend energy with scant risk of disturbing your worldview.

    2. > willingly

      They see victimhood as a form of power; you MUST kowtow to them if they have the proper victim cred.

      Since most of them seem to embrace at least one type of victimhood, the pecking order must be quite complex…

      1. Hence the Intersectionality Olympics – “I’m a lesbian transgender woman of color, whaddayou got?”

        1. They’re addicted to the endorphin rush of being angry all the time.

          Also, since when do I have a pink avatar?

          1. >> “Also, since when do I have a pink avatar?”

            Welcome to MY world. I like this place, but it didn’t assign me the manliest of all possible avatars when I started posting here.

            1. That’s why I set up one that I liked in Gravatar associated with my email address.

                1. Word to the wise, Sarah is a Female Dragon.

                  You really really don’t want to annoy a Female Dragon.

                  Male Dragons rightly don’t want to annoy Female Dragons. 😈

                  1. But I thought we LIKED Sarah when she’s angry!

                    …Or was that only when she’s angry at someone ELSE? Hmm, I never did check the fine print on that one…

                    1. IMO when Sarah really gets angry, you don’t want to be on the same planet as she is.

                      Now, there is a certain bit of enjoyment to be had when she expresses her annoyance at the “Usual Suspects”. 😉

                    2. >> “Now, there is a certain bit of enjoyment to be had when she expresses her annoyance at the “Usual Suspects”.”

                      Oh, I’ve noticed. Sadly, she usually just pointedly ignores me. 😛

    3. It is sometimes fascinating and horrifying to see posts about what being a woman is supposedly like.

      Fortunately, while sometimes more suggestible/manipulable than I should be, I am at least solid enough to stare at some of those and go, “I am sorry you’re unhappy but I think this is at least partly your fault and also you’re possibly an alien and definitely overgeneralizing.”

      1. These are the ones who are adamant that they speak for women, and that every woman everywhere has had the same experience(s) they have had, whatever they are. Because they lack imagination and empathy both.

        They are often the same people who will accuse everyone else (especially men and conservative women) of lacking empathy, mind.

        “You don’t know what it’s like being a woman/POC in __field__!” Um, I AM a woman in __field__, and your statements are still nonsense.

        Amazing how they often dismiss *your* experience as not representative, but theirs always is.

        1. There’s often a lot of narcissism, even a touch of sociopathy inherent with our leftist friends. So, dismissing the experiences of others is easy, because they don’t really think other people are really people.

          1. The advanced cases turn into Talks-With-Plants.

            (For newcomers to the blog, a feminist who maintains that all sexual intercourse is rape. And any woman who says otherwise is a puppet that men are manipulating.)

  5. I don’t particularly care how many “experts” tell me a command economy is better…

    Nor should you. “Better” by what standard? “Better” at respecting and preserving individuals’ rights? Because that’s my standard. It’s the only one I can think of that’s morally sound.

    1. It’s only better for those issuing the commands.

      A Russian delegation visited the U.S. back in, I think, the 60’s. They were convinced that a supermarket was some sort of elaborate Potemkin Village scam because a food store actually had FOOD on the shelves! And there wasn’t a line six blocks long of people desperate to get some before it all ran out.

      1. Apparently Western shopping was one of the perks, for apparatchiks, of Western diplomatic or spy duty.

        So when Yeltsin was mayor of Moscow when they went him on a delegation, they got to stop at a mid-sized Texas grocery store. And everything was super nice and abundant, and normal.People chatted with him, and he finally figured out that it wasn’t a Potemkin village. Why didn’t Moscow have anything that nice?

        1. When McDonalds opened its first restaurant in Moscow, the company had to train the new employees to say “Have a nice day!”.

          This was something unusual in a Soviet customer-focused business.

      2. Those who rob Peter to pay Paul usually wind up keeping a good slice of the pie for themselves.

        1. Those who rob Peter to pay Paul usually wind up keeping a good slice of the pie for themselves.

          Always the case. Power doesn’t “just” corrupt; it also attracts the already-corrupt and the corruptible. Create a concentration of prey and the predators will be drawn to it by their natural inclinations. Any city large enough to need more than one police precinct will serve as an example.

  6. Mmm, some of it is leftist brainwashing.

    Look at Xi over in Red China. His father was a devout Maoist Communist official, and the Cultural Revolution guys killed him. They tortured his mom, raped his sister, and sent him to reeducation in some tiny village where he did “farm labor.”

    But because he wasn’t killed, he twisted himself into being grateful, and wants an all new Cultural Revolution, complete with Red Guards and Mao worship.

    1. Maybe. Or maybe he just wants power, and knows that the easiest and least bloody way to get it is by using the structure that Mao left in place.

      1. I don’t know about “least bloody” or if that’s even registering on his radar. Easier and more likely to succeed, sure.

        1. By “least bloody”, I really mean “least likely to cause a civil war that kills half of the country’s population. Again.”


    2. Maybe not.

      Look at Julius Caesar. Father dead fairly early, dragged into power politics young, developed into a nasty SOB.

      If you start out an ambitious, able, sociopath, such treatment might merely concentrate the ambition.

      They murdered, raped, and tortured the families of a lot of youngsters. Many of the youngsters died, or didn’t have much ambition left past survival. Dictator is not a random sample.

      If Xi was already an evil power hungry man, the ways he prefers to use power may simply be something like imprinting, the pattern he has learned deeply.

  7. An appropriate BFTP with the ‘astonishing revelation’ that a senior Bernie bro in Iowa thinks that conservatives need to be sent to gulags, and gulags weren’t that bad and any stories that say they were are overblown.

      1. Ahh I can just see the reeducation camps now:
        Reeducator: Here I have two lights and turn on two more. Now there are four lights, count them
        BernieBro: No there are five llights!!!!

    1. Thing is, I don’t hold this against the Sanders campaign. You get nutters in your low-level campaign workers. It happens.

      What I resent is the fact that if this were someone working on a GOP campaign talking about how we need to put blacks back in the cotton fields and how all the horror stories about the plantation system were abolitionist propaganda, CNN, NBC, et. al. would be running the story 24/7, with constant comments about the resurgence of racism in Trump’s America.

          1. He is a senior campaign worker in Iowa. And again, he is not the first senior Bernie cadre member to express such thoughts; a cadre that includes such repugnant people as Linda Sarsour.

            Bernie himself has expressed envy for Soviet breadlines. He is a full-fledged Stalinist commie.

    2. There was some other thing a few months ago where someone tweeted about how the gulags weren’t so bad. Does anyone remember that? Was it a “blue-check” or some random person?

      I mean, it’s clearly not just this guy but seems to be going around. Maybe it’s part of the zeitgeist that includes China’s Uhgur camps and their proud and forward educational facilities where religious nutters live in happy and enriching environments and learn dance and music and how to reorder their minds. Or even just the social score system that China has set up where wrong thinking is gently discouraged by merely making some elements of life a little less convenient. Not even a jail or a camp or the happy pretty facilities to help young people with disordered minds learn to be *well*.

      I can’t help but think that there are a whole lot of people who absolutely adore the notion of not having to deal with difficult people, because they never imagine that they’d be the difficult person.

      1. In fairness, the gulags weren’t so bad … if you weren’t in them. All this is mere disinformation that results from allowing counter-revolutionary writers like Solzynwhassname to publish their slanders. The obvious solution is to grant the State more power to suppress incorrect authors.

        By the same token, those Nazi labor camps were not so bad, as long as you weren’t downwind.

  8. I believe our tax burden is significantly more than 50%. I just don’t have the math to prove it. Take a loaf of bread, which in my state is supposedly not taxed. I buy the loaf and pay no tax at the counter. But….the store pays taxes and folds those taxes into the price of the bread. The bakery pays taxes and folds those into the wholesale price to the store. The company which ground the wheat pays taxes and passes those taxes on to the bakery. The farmers, the companies which produce the machinery for the bakery, the mill, the tractors, the steel. Makers, the miners, fossil fuels etc, etc, etc. All this, ad infinitum, in everything we purchase. The true tax burden on the people must be nearing 100%.

    1. Recently someone figured out that absent the regulatory burden, the median annual income in the U.S. would be something like $315,000. Yes, really. Not a typo. Consider that compared to the ~60% tax burden… and that probably 80% of taxes get eaten by the regulatory machine.

      1. I’v been saying since 2006 or so that pretty much all the productivity gains from IT have been sopped up by the additional costs and employees required to accommodate the expansion of the regulatory state, both in number of rules and the detail level of the data required for them.

        1. “I’v been saying since 2006 or so that pretty much all the productivity gains from IT have been sopped up by the additional costs and employees required to accommodate the expansion of the regulatory state, both in number of rules and the detail level of the data required for them.”

          I think that’s part of it, but there are other factors as well. For example ill-thought-out acquisitions (often followed in a few years by spinoffs) consume tremendous amounts of effort, and not only the effort of accountants and lawyers.

          Also, many systems are so badly designed and/or implemented that they are serious productivity-killers. See for example the sad story of Target Canada:

        2. I think your point is essentially inarguable, and not just in terms of economic aspects.

          Time was, managers and executives would be forced to devolve power and decision-making down to the very lowest levels, because there was simply no way of either knowing or intervening in things going on down where rubber meets road. Now? You have the boss on the phone wanting minute-by-minute updates on issues, preventing you from getting things done, and demanding data be input to forms that produce reports that no sane person will ever read.

          There’s a lot to be said for how much velocity has gone up, across the board, due to better communication and ubiquitous computers, but I think there’s another edge to that sword, and it may be sharper and capable of doing a lot more damage.

          Once upon a time, a young worker in many industries had to learn to cope with detachment from the “mother ship”, and learn self-reliance. Now? They commune with their bosses, via the cell phones they are welded to, and never learn how to do things for themselves, deferring all decisions to “higher”.

          The IT revolution, which I roll the communications revolution into, is indeed a double-edged affair, one that cuts both ways. Certainly, we’re saving a lot of money by being able to react much more quickly, but on the flip side, there’s the overburden of that same issue we in the military first experienced in Vietnam–“Helicopter management”, where the senior bosses are overhead, observing, kibitzing, and generally making life hard on their subordinates as they micro-manage them from above. That whole thing is probably a metaphor for much of what’s gone wrong with the IT revolution, and it cuts both ways–The leaders are guilty of looking over shoulders to interfere, but a lot of the subordinates are also clogging things up by demanding “help” from above, never becoming self-sufficient independent agents.

          There is certainly a “money” component to it all, but I think the cultural one may be a much bigger deal than a lot of us presume. It’s going to take generations to work its way through the system, this new ability to talk to anyone at any time we please. Along with the ability to gather up data senselessly, and churn out pretty-pretty charts for everyone’s edification and illumination in the interminable meetings engendered by Speer’s weaponization of the holy “Presentation”.

          Frankly, you go back and trace it out, and I think there’s a case to be made for PowerPoint having been the final result of a Nazi plot to get back at the world for defeating it in WWII…

          1. Kirk…”The IT revolution, which I roll the communications revolution into, is indeed a double-edged affair, one that cuts both ways. Certainly, we’re saving a lot of money by being able to react much more quickly, but on the flip side, there’s the overburden of that same issue we in the military first experienced in Vietnam–“Helicopter management”, where the senior bosses are overhead, observing, kibitzing, and generally making life hard on their subordinates as they micro-manage them from above. That whole thing is probably a metaphor for much of what’s gone wrong with the IT revolution, and it cuts both ways–The leaders are guilty of looking over shoulders to interfere, but a lot of the subordinates are also clogging things up by demanding “help” from above, never becoming self-sufficient independent agents.”

            Yes. When communications was slow and unreliable, decentralized organization design and decentralized decision-making could not be avoided, no matter how much the person at the top wanted total control…imagine the level of decisional autonomy that a naval captain operating independently had. But when communications is rapid and pervasive, decentralization becomes a matter of choice and, too often, the choice is for excessive centralization.

            There was actually a book written about how the telegraph, and specifically the undersea cable, greatly changed the role of ambassadors.

            I expect that the vogue for ‘big data’ will lead to excessive centralization, with malign results, in a lot of cases.

            The bad effects of centralized economic planning in a socialist economy can be simulated within a single company by excessive centralization of decision-making.

            1. In the military of yore-ish years, there was taught and enforced a concept termed “supply discipline”, wherein the individual soldier and commander were expected to be and remain cognizant of the logistics costs of everything they did. You were expected to husband resources, and use only what was absolutely necessary.

              This makes sense for any organization–You don’t want your folks down in shipping spending your profit on profligately using a roll of expensive tape on every box, just as you don’t want your mid-level managers mandating equivalent stupidities and ineconomies at their level.

              What’s missing is a sense that there should be a concept of “information discipline”, such that you don’t demand too much from subordinates, and they don’t bother you with extraneous BS, either.

              I can’t think of too many organizations I’ve been around where any such sensibility was ever present or a part of the culture. Today’s leaders and managers seem to be oblivious to the very real effects of what they do, and likewise, the guys down at the coalface are equally oblivious.

              If someone wanted my candidate for “biggest problem of the 21st Century”, and “lowest-hanging fruit for improvement”, I would nominate “organization”. We don’t do it well, over the long haul. I bet money that if you went out and asked the average mid-level manager of anything, anywhere in the country, how his organization actually worked, as in “Mr. Smith, tell me how you would get your employees to do X (X being a part of daily business operations)…”. As an example, say that you want Mr. Smith to put a stop to the employees setting off the fire and security alarms by using the plant’s side door.

              What I’ve seen, most of these sorts are going to put out a memo, stating a policy. Then,they’ll enforce a draconian punishment regime, if they don’t get immediate compliance. If that doesn’t work, they’ll install cameras and elaborate control schemes.

              Almost none of them will take the time to pause and think, in order to actually understand the reason the employees are opening that damn door in the first place, and then address the underlying root cause that encourages them to do it–Like, that being the only door facing the employee parking lot. Very few managers or leaders really try to understand how things “really work” in their organizations, and rarely try to deal with things by changing the environmental factors that mold employee and manager behavior. Set things up such that it’s a pain in the ass to document travel expenses, and you’re just going to encourage lies from your people who travel.

              The psychology of leadership and management is a poorly-studied field, when it comes to practical effects on the organization–Which is what leads to organizations failing, over time. Nobody pays attention to the actual environment they’re creating within those organizations, and with their customer base. You can observe the same thing, with politicians like Gov. Northam–The man has no idea how to actually do things, on a practical level. He just thinks he has to dictate, and reality will fall in line with his desires.

              1. Kirk…”If someone wanted my candidate for “biggest problem of the 21st Century”, and “lowest-hanging fruit for improvement”, I would nominate “organization”.” Indeed, organization design is quite important, and as a practitioner of management I have always taken it very seriously. Not everyone does—too often, in recent years, people seem to think that talking a lot about “teams” is a substitute for good organization design.

                One person who does seem to understand these issues is the venture capitalist Ben Horowitz. In his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, he wrote:

                “The first rule of organizational design is that all organizational designs are bad. With any design, you will optimize communication among some parts of the organization at the expense of other parts. For example, if you put product management in the engineering organization, you will optimize communication between product management and engineering at the expense of product management and marketing. As a result, as soon as you roll out the new organization, people will find fault with it, and they will be right…Think of the organizational design as the communications architecture for your company. If you want people to communicate, the best way to accomplish that is to make them report to the same manager. By contrast, the further away people are on the organizational chart, the less they will communicate. The organizational design is also the template for how the company communicates with the outside world.”

                Also, the structure of *incentives* has a huge impact on effectiveness and productivity.

          2. I find it interesting to look at the effects of near instant communications on the Royal Navy.
            In the days of wooden ships & iron men, ship’s captains were given almost absolute authority over their crews, and admirals absolute authority over the captains. Positive results were expected, but how they got there was a matter of his discretion.
            Once wireless telegraph came along, the temptation to meddle was too great, especially for one of history’s great top down meddlers- Winston Churchill. So, you get a lot of meddeling during the early weeks of WWI, which leads to the escape of the Goeben, or the battle of Coronel. The ability of the Admiralty to give instant orders took away the admiral’s discretion in how to best manage the situation. By having orders, it was easier to just follow them- even if they were bad or confusing.

            By contrast, the German fleet still stick to the earlier British leadership philosophy of giving almost absolute power to the admiral- one reason is because Germany didn’t have the same communications net the Brits had, and clueless meddling from afar wasn’t going to happen anyway. Admirals Souchon & Von Spee were able to take initiative, and had some very impressive results, considering they were often outnumbered.

            1. Joe, I think it goes past the communications available and the circumstances, though. Certainly, those had their effect, but one of the ways you can trace out a considerable difference between the German and the Allies in terms of purely “military culture” is that the Germans did not come around to Auftragstaktik by accident, nor were they forced into it unwillingly by circumstance.

              We have this caricature of who and what the Germans were, in terms of this supposed “Prussian rigidity”, and that has served us all very poorly when it comes time to engage them in combat. It’s also drastically warped a lot of the things we copied from the Germans, and I really have to wonder what the reality was that the folks like Dewey actually saw in Germany when they made their visits there. You go looking in on the things that folks like the Humboldt brothers were actually doing, and all the advances that the Germans were making in science and other things, and you suddenly start to wonder about how these supposedly rigid hierarchy types were doing all this.

              I honestly think that we’ve screwed ourselves on many levels by falling for the caricature that was sold to us, a lot of which owes its existence to British anti-German propaganda before and during WWI. The problem with it comes when you try to assess the “why” of German success in terms of copying their good ideas, and when you have to make war on them. You have this falsely built-up image of rigid inflexible people who are only going to follow orders, and then you run up against the dynamic, flexible, and highly adaptive German Army of reality, you’re in for an unpleasant shock. “Oh, they’d never be able to put together a defense in this sector–There’s nobody back there to do it, in their rear…”. Two days later, you’ve had your ass kicked back to your start lines and a little more, by some Kampfgruppe von Thier that didn’t exist until three hours after you attacked, and you realize that a scratch pick-up force of invalids from the hospital, some transport troops, and whatever else this von Thier character could pull together into a combat force is what did it to you. Also, before your attack, you had no idea that von Thier was even in the area–He just happened to have been making an inspection of the front lines, coming down from his job in the General Staff.

              You don’t get things like that out of a rigid hierarchy, and they happened on multiple occasions during WWI and WWII. Our cultural assessment of the Germans is wrong, wrong, wrong–Certainly there are aspects of our caricature that are somewhat accurate, because they do love their fancy uniforms and respect for authority as a stereotype, but… There’s a lot of the rest of our conventional image that’s entirely and inappropriately wrong.

              When it comes to education, I think an awful lot of the stuff that our late 19th Century “reformers” brought back was less “German” and more “them”. You read the Humboldts, and a few other sources I’ve run into over the years describing how “education really was conducted” in Germany of those years, and then look at the reports that came back and the policies enacted by our reformers and you’re just left with your wild eyes going back and forth between the two sources, trying to reconcile what you’re seeing.

              There’s another place we did this, as well–The well-known reforms of Elihu Root aped the German institutions like their General Staff, but did not do a very good job at all of actually copying the things that made them successful, like the careful selection of staff officers, and their primacy over the various branches during peacetime.

              You look at a lot of the things we’ve done, over the years, and you find that very often, we’ve sent observers who’ve got their own ideas, see what they want to see, and then come back reporting on what they saw based on those prejudices. I think that that’s a huge component of why we keep underestimating and denigrating the Germans for things that aren’t actually there.

              Much of what we think we know is wrong, and a lot of what we should know, we don’t. The relative “unexpected” successes of the German naval efforts in both wars are symptomatic of our erroneous assessment of German capabilities and mindsets. They’re also indicative of their flaws, a lot of which were “invisible” to the people actually fighting those wars–You’ll find very few cold-blooded views about German overstretch and logistical delusions until well after we won the war. Our delusional mindset put the German forces on this pedestal of superiority due to their tactical and operational successes, while ignoring the massive holes in their overall effort. This did not help us, at all–The morale effects alone? Not to mention, the rest of it all.

              Sun Tzu had it right–Know yourself, know your enemy, and you will triumph. The problem we’ve had over the course of most of the 20th Century is that we only knew our caricature of the enemy, not their reality.

              1. It’s an interesting myth needing to be busted.
                The Germans have always punched above their weight class, especially during the World Wars.
                Which also brings up another interesting point- would the Wehrmacht been in a better strategic position if Hitler hadn’t persistently meddled with the decision of the generals on the ground? We have some pretty serious blunders that can squarley be laid on his feet- not pressing on before Dunkirk, not pressing on to Moscow, holding on in Stalingrad, being unavailable during D-day, the Battle of the Bulge, and so on.

                1. It is a complicated question… The German Army of the Imperial and Nazi era was a thing of utter disbelief when you get to looking at all the various nuts and bolts. On the one hand, clear-eyed and very forward-looking at some levels, and others…? Mired in a fog of wishful thinking and utter idiocy, to a degree that’s really hard to encompass. It’s like they’re simultaneously 007 and Bozo the clown at the same damn time…

                  I don’t think having Hitler swapped out would have made much difference, once he got them into war in the first place. The German General Staff was quite capable of some incredible strategic stupidity, when left to its own devices, and the tragic thing for them was that Hitler actually saved them from their own folly on more than a few occasions, in the early days–Which is why it was so easy for them to follow him off the cliff, later on. He was a gambler who could not take his winnings from the table, and just leave. His early wins doomed them all, and prevented people from actually acting on “Hey, this is stupid, let’s do something about the idiot insisting on this course of action…”.

                  The baffling thing about the Germans, when you look at it, is that they’re simultaneously incredibly good at tactics and operations, but when you get to looking at their performance in terms of grand strategy and logistics…? Yikes. What on God’s good green earth was Germany thinking, in terms of challenging the British Empire, back before WWI? A continental mercantile/industrial power taking on the biggest trading empire, and doing it by building up a navy? WTF were they thinking? It’s not like they had a bunch of good ports to sally from, either. Then, there was the idiocy of tying themselves to the Austro-Hungarians, who were moribund and headed for the grave even before Sarajevo. Germany should have eschewed the whole ego-driven naval thing, and they should have shuffled Wilhelm off to a shady little retirement castle instead of letting him screw everything up by pissing off the British.

                  In WWII, the military let Hitler push them into a war they weren’t prepared for, and the irony of it is, they didn’t even know what they didn’t know. It’s tragicomic to read the German intelligence guys writing about how they’d identified 100 or so Soviet divisions before the war, thought that was all the Soviets could muster, wiped out 90 or so in the course of Barbarossa, and then had the bemused awakening that they were now able to identify over 250 by the end of the opening campaign.

                  They literally had no idea what they were getting into, even the guys who’d fought in Russia during WWI. The expectation was that the Soviets would be like the French or Poles–One short, sharp campaign, and they’d be done. The really amazing thing is reading the plaintive complaints–“We didn’t know how ,big Russia was… We had no idea how cold it got!”.

                  Uhm… Yeah. Guys? Did you all suffer amnesia, after WWI? Did you all forget having to have a truce with the Russians, ‘cos the wolves were getting so bad that you couldn’t fight until you both had eliminated the wolves?

                  You look over the whole of it, and it’s a matter for incredulity–My very favorite is the V2. You’ve got this wonderweapon that cost comparatively more than the B-29 program (which was itself bigger than the Manhattan Project), your end product from that program costs about what a B-17 does, and you only get to use it the one time to deliver about a ton of high explosives… Where the hell does that even begin to make sense? Yeah, great–You just fielded the first IRBM at massive expense, but the accuracy leaves a lot to be desired, and you’ve got nothing even resembling an appropriate warhead to put on top of it, not if you really want to win the war. It was a vanity project, pure and simple–All those resources could have gone somewhere else, and done more for the war effort, but… Germans.

                  I still look at that, and all I can think is that any logical person would have to think that they had a nuke or something to sit on top of those pretty-pretty rockets, but… Then again, these are the Germans, and you can’t rule out the idea that they had no such thing, and were just doing it for typical German impenetrable reasons, kind of like how VW insists on the weird and wacky inside their engine compartments.

              2. Always interesting, pitching your propaganda. Japanese propaganda played down American will to fight so much that the pilots at Midway were astounded by attacks where Americans paid no heed to their own lives.

                1. We did the same thing, with everyone expecting to meet incompetent near-sighted and glasses-wearing Japanese pilots…

                  The amazing thing is just how often we do this to ourselves–Everyone goes into an antagonistic situation thinking they’re going to be dealing with the idea that they have of their opponent, and then when the opponent actually turns out to be something entirely different than that idea, we’re all shocked, shocked I tell you that we had such an enormous misapprehension of them.

                  The thing that just aggravates the hell out of me is that you can have obvious empirical evidence in front of you, in the form of casualty statistics and actual performance in combat, and then people will keep insisting to you that the various caricature/stereotypes are still valid…

                  All I can say is, go look at the graveyards from the various wars, and then tell me all about how the Japanese are near-sighted little monkeys that can’t design, build, or fly modern aircraft, and how the Germans don’t have initiative or flexibility under fire. If you can do that, without suffering a stroke from the cognitive dissonance, well… I dunno what to tell you.

                  1. Kirk, I wonder about your reading comprehension.

                    I don’t know of anybody here who believes that nonsense about Japanese.

                    1. I have to wonder at yours…

                      I’m talking about the common misconceptions that drove decision-making in the pre-WWII era, and some of which are still heard in certain circles to this day, bizarrely enough. I think I’m pretty damn clear about the whole “not knowing your enemy” idea, and that I’m using that as an example. I really can’t get how the hell you think I’m talking directly to any readers here and saying that they actually think that ancient set of canards, at all. The whole point is using that as an overall example of the same sort of lack of thought and actual knowledge–The Japanese were sure we wouldn’t fight, we were sure they couldn’t do what they did. Both sides were entirely wrong, and they really shouldn’t have been. There was ample evidence to refute both sets of erroneous assumptions, had they bothered to actually go looking for it.

                      Hell, there were senior staff officers who blew off Claire Chennault because they thought his experience fighting the Japanese in China was irrelevant, and that the Japanese would fold once they had to fight a real enemy.

                      It’s amazing to go back and compare the dismissive and contemptuous attitude you found in the American press about Japan before December of ’41, and then look at it after. One day, slant-eyed near-sighted cowards who could only beat up on other Asians, and the next…? Ten-foot tall giants striding across the Pacific. Both views were delusional and entirely out of keeping with what we actually had evidence of at the time–Had the staff pukes listened to Chennault about how to fight the Japanese with what we had on hand, we’d have lost a lot fewer pilots and aircraft than we did in the opening phases. Instead, he was dismissed as an authoritative source, and we had to learn all the tricks of the trade the hard way.

                  2. Well, the Japanese did say, in their propaganda, that their dark eyes were superior to American blue eyes and so they didn’t need radar. . . .

                    1. I think the major problem is that too many of the decision-makers on both sides were taken in by their own propaganda, a lot of which was rooted in sheer wishful thinking.

                      There’s a lot of that going on these days, as well–Witness the Bush Fallacy about Islam being a “…religion of peace…”. That’s still warping the ever-loving out of policy in a lot of places. Clarity of view would recognize that Islam is a revolutionary proselytizing politico-religious phenomenon, and these idiots keep trying to shoehorn our responses in as though they were dealing with a particularly obtuse Unitarian sect.

                      Side-effects from these things come ringing down the ages, too–You can, with very little squinting of the eyes and almost no papering-over of the cracks, trace out a straight line of folly in US small arms procurement and design from WWI to the present day, mostly rooted in a failure to observe that reality was different from our preconceptions–And, that there were things that the Germans got right, back in the 1930s, that we still do very poorly to this day.

                      If we ever managed to figure out how to institutionalize clarity and honesty instead of wishful thinking and channelized thought, we’d be a lot better off in all of our endeavors.

          3. > ou have the boss on the phone wanting minute-by-minute updates on issues, preventing you from getting things done, and deman

            The Anointed One on his satphone telling a sniper exactly when he should pull the trigger…

            I guess it was a better thrill than yet another drone strike.

    2. Theoretically — theoretically — producers pay no sales taxes, being able to buy from producers without that. It is only when goods are delivered to the consumer that sales taxes are levied.

      Of course, those producers pay property taxes, payroll taxes, income taxes, regulatory and certification fees and legal fees required to demonstrate compliance …

      Then there’s the tribute campaign contributions paid in order to be recognized by elected representatives.

    3. Take a loaf of bread

      Ah, but that’s stealing, and not just stealing, stealing from the people, Comrade.

      Can’t have that.

      What, this caviar? That’s just something the Party granted me for services to the people. YOu should not have noted it, as that shows heteronormative counterrevolutionary inclinations to go with your thievery.
      Taxes are theft. Theft to fund things like National Defense is one of those lesser evils, but that tax trough expands to meet the wants of the bureaucracy. If you immunize from restraint and empower the bureaucracy to attack the state, you get the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua Bread Theft Re-education Camp and Happy Fun Center.

    1. I believe said pants are now suspended ablaze from a telephone wire, whatever that is in this day of universally wireless telephony.

  9. Sigh. I had a brief go at changing my theme, because I was having all kinds of wonky issues … turned out it was just my system needed the newest version and some other stuff that only my website host groks. I went back to the original theme, picolight. I like being able to vary the header imanges.

  10. While we know the inevitable end results of Marxism, most of those who hold to it honestly have no idea.
    Many have been sold that Marxism= the good life. That under Bernie, everyone gets to live a perpetual college lifestyle, with no real work, lots of weed, lots of sex, and all that jazz.
    And it is such an appealing idea that it’s almost impossible to convince them otherwise- sadly akin to people in abusive relationships.

  11. If the rights of the one, of the individual, are not paramount then no rights in any sense exist for anyone other than the right, in the end, to choose to conform. If the only right is the right to comply for the greater good? Then fer the love of pete, what’s the excuse for not conforming to any other ideology or system in History?

  12. In fairness, we now know that “mostly libertarian” means pretty damned far Left.

    It certainly does not mean anything the editors of Reason would recognize, but it pretty well covers the expressed views of 2016 presidential nominee Gary “Screw Your Religious Liberty” Johnson.

  13. As you note, there is no “Center.” The idea there is a center and that it is a good place to be is nonsense, is a lie told by those bent on control in the name of the masses.

    If every single person in America but me claims it is acceptable to sexually abuse a seven-year-old child, it leaves me far from the center but does that make me wrong? If every single person in America but me claims it is acceptable to burn babies on Baal’s brazen brazier, it leaves me far from the center but does that make me wrong?

    On both sides of the debate are immutable beliefs. On the Right side is the belief that some (exactly which is subject to debate) human rights are inherent and inalienable; on the Left side is the belief that all human rights are a gift of the governors, legitimized by popular will (i.e., might makes it right) and are subject to suspension and elimination at the whim of the State.

    There is no center between those who declare the Earth moves around the Sun and those insisting the Sun orbits the Earth. In this life there is one unassailable fact: you’ve got to serve somebody.

    The only question is who you will serve.

    1. The question of whether the Earth moves about the Sun or the Sun, the Earth, should probably be treated as a question of which one makes the mathematics less painful.

  14. They have gone along with the stories of all men as villains

    All men (and women) are villains. They are fallen and none are angels. Which is what government (“to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”) and Rule of Law are supposed to protect against. This nation’s Founders feared the tyranny of the Mob as fully as they feared the tyranny of any king.

    What those authors and their readers miss is that structures exist to limit the harm done by villains and to encourage men and women to, acting in their own self-interest, benefit all of society.

    Because all people, no matter how persuasively they argue otherwise, act in their own self-interest.

        1. Oh, that’s a much better resolution. Looks good!

          I also very much appreciate the return of the “Recent Comments” section, though if there’s any way to expand it to 10 or 20 comments that would be nice for me. (But only if it’s not too much work; if it’s any more complicated than changing a setting in the theme options then don’t worry about it.)

          1. … Oh. The “It’s Just Some People Talking” section already is 10 comments long. Terrific! Very happy to have that back; it was one of the my preferred ways for keeping up with where the discussion is.

          1. I’m actually more curious about the purpose of the red thing on the right of the image. Is it a motorbike body? A contour-conforming pillow? A hypnosis-learning device?

            … Come to think of it, that picture could be a good story prompt. Everyone would probably come up with a different idea for what that machine does,

              1. Ah!

                I misread an earlier question and thought you were telling us that was a laser cannon. It did seem like strange design….

              2. Sure, but is it a pillow pillow or does it conceal a deadly weapon inside. or convert to a skin-tight air-suit allowing the wearer to transit interstellar space in the wink of an eye? Or does it expand into an escape pod?

          2. Supposedly a laser cannon. Meh.
            You know, I’m possibly the most straight woman in the world. I can go into a room with a crowd, come out, describe every guy and not notice there’s even women there.
            Since this set in about puberty, I’d guess hormones, not internalized anything.
            AND YET even I like looking at Pretty Space Chicks. And am more likely to buy a book with a bimbo (Or a bimbo-no. Provided they’re good looking.) on the cover, than one with just ships.

            1. Bimbo says something specific about genre, not whether you sexually desire women.

              And what it says is that the author/publisher is not afraid of depicting women attractively. A bimbo on the cover means the contents probably do not include a lecture on the dreadful horror of the male gaze.

              It is a flashing warning: Wrong Fun Found Here!

        1. Just ‘Available’ would be good enough for me…
          The world is not ruled by some grand conspiracy. It’s corrupted by hundreds of petty little conspiracies.

  15. Regarding your crystal ball picture.
    Ran across a recent article talking about the debate scientists were having over a Da Vinci painting.
    Da Vinci’s “Salvatore Mundi” apparently has Christ holding a blown hollow glass ball; whereas the crystal ball of your picture is probably solid, based on the inverted image.
    Interesting enough, glassblowing apparently originated in Lebannon and Israel approximately 100 ears before the birth of Jesus, so his holding a blown glass ball is not an anachronism.

    1. I think it’s one of the oldest forms of glass. As late as the 19th century, they made windowpanes by blowing a glass cylinder, cutting it down one side and flattening it. That’s why old windows have lots of little panes. Large-area plate glass is the modern innovation.
      Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

  16. Joe in PNG…there is an interesting essay written by a Spanish naval official in 1797, on the question ‘Why do we keep losing to the British and what can we do about it?’ I excerpted the piece here:

    Very relevant today, and too many organizations seem to be taking their cue from the Spanish Navy of that era rather than the English one.

    1. Shoot. I keep forgetting to link you guys in insty. I swear it’s not that I don’t like your site. It’s just I do it at night and forget mostly because I’m mostly asleep.

    2. There’s always that temptation for managers to Do Something, to be seen as actively Leadershiping.
      Usually one can distract the bosses via endless meetings, but sometimes they escape and cause havoc.

    1. Now that is a question you only really want to hear in a horticultural context.

      Though in reality in the hort milieu you usually hear the inverse, i.e. “Isn’t it supposed to be green?”

      1. The background color for most of the page is like a washed out tan-to-olive drab color, and at bottom is like a washed out lime color.

          1. and now its pale grey.

            BTW, if you’re doing graphic arts stuff like covers, a Spyder calibrator is a good thing… esp if you have multiple monitors/machines and need them all to match or at least semi-match.

  17. from something you posted or wrote. where did you learn the term devil’s strip? What little I can find says it is local usage in Akron, Ohio. Also is your newest novel a “Dyce Dare”? You just used ” broomstick like a Samurai” or something close to that..

    1. No, my newest novel is not a Dyce Dare.
      I learned Devil’s Strip from High Country Gardening Catalog. However, my husband grew up for about 14 years near Akron Ohio, and I was an exchange student there (even if I never heard Devil’s Strip there, because it was a suburban area, so…)
      I will do Dyce Dare in February. her new novel is half finished and is called A Well Inlaid Death.
      That’s it.

      1. Gardening? Shucks, here I was getting out a wad of singles in anticipation of a slinky dancer in a skin-tight red outfit with horns and devil-tail

        Gardening. Well, ho-ho-hoe.

        1. Devil’s Strip is mentioned in the beginning of the — soon to come out, okay, probably next year — first of the orphan kittens mysteries. And a teen answers just like you did. (Grin.)

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