Debit and Credit


One hates to disagree with the late great Margaret Thatcher, and I’m not doing so precisely, so much as expanding/repositioning what she said.

The greatest problem of socialism is not that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money. The greatest problem of socialism, be it the soft pink, dilute kind, or the full on strong red kind that animated the USSR (which remember always called itself socialist. Just like the DDR called itself democratic. Never mind.) is that sooner or later any and all human beings become part of the “debit” column.

I was reminded of this — and that I meant to write on it — today by a friend posting that an ex-student of hers had put up that great old chestnut about “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”

Let us put aside the fact, that this might be a great motto for a small family or, stretching a point, an order of monks devoted to the greater glory of G-d but that no one, ever, in the history of humanity had the ability to tell what anyone else’s needs or abilities are. Certainly no state known to man, even given the ability to test every subject to exhaustion from cradle to grave can tell what every individual’s needs or abilities are.  And this is because, often, humans don’t know what their needs and abilities are.

We were also talking yesterday, in a group of friends about things that became our lives pursuits, at which we weren’t actually naturally gifted (when i say I made every possible mistake in fiction writing, uphill both ways and as recently as yesterday, I’m not joking. I’ve seen natural effortless talent. It exists. I don’t have it) but which we loved intensely enough to work really hard at.

(The last standardized test for aptitude I took recommended I become a dancer, btw, which is one of those things that make you stare at the results long and hard, because when I took it at seventeen I still tripped on my two feet while standing still and even now I cannot see someone do moves and imitate them. Much less transpose them. When I take aerobic classes, I stand in the last row, so I won’t distract anyone else, when I improvise or do it all backwards and sideways. Also, I can’t imagine enjoying either the grueling effort or the public display. I still have no clue how the test extracted that brilliant conclusion and suspect some prankster in the back office of having said “Gads, she’s useless. Just put down dancer.”)

As for needs…  I often say that Euclid cat was the cat we didn’t know we needed (He’s still alive, but lately he cries a lot. We’re going to get him pain meds and some of the good food tomorrow and see if that fixes it.) Because he was definitely an “unplanned cat.” But after 9/11 when we felt broken he was the constant companion, the completely devoted cat we all cuddled and he helped, though I can’t explain how, get us over the anger and the depression. Also, I have in mind one particular day, when I was scheduled for a business trip. I was very depressed, and didn’t even know I was, and my husband said “Come on” and pushed his work aside.  We spent the day at City Park in Denver, on a beautiful Summer day, and it was one of the best days of my life, completely dissipating the depression.  Did I know I needed that break? No. I was concentrating on getting stuff ready for the trip.  He knew, because he is close to me. Or perhaps he took a guess. Who even knows?

Which means, of course, no government can know either what you’re capable of doing (if you really love something) or what you need. Particularly when what you need has been invented yet. For instance, I get lost in my own living room, and in the eighties I assumed the price of going anywhere was to pull over and study the map every other mile (and my success was indifferent. I’m not a visual thinker.) Of course I needed a GPS. I just didn’t even know they could exist.  And I’m sure there are a million things being developed right now, which if they pan out will become indispensable to me in ten years or so. Only I don’t even know they’re possible.

So when your centralized government takes it upon itself to decide what every person under its purview needs and can do, the results would be hilariously bad, if they didn’t always end in famine, misery and mass graves.

The reason they end in mass graves is easy.  You see, the left mistakes the government for a parental kind of unit: a benevolent, hovering authority who knows you better than you know yourself. It is the result of their bizarre hair raising utterances, like apparently she of the very Occasional Cortex thinking white people don’t need bug out bags. Because, you know, she assumes the government exists to take care of everyone and the only reason she and her family needed bugout bags is because they could tan. Meanwhile that all pervasive entity was looking after it’s favored (white, of course) children.  Or the comments made at the Convention in what 12? “We all must belong to something, so we belong to the government.” Or “Government is the name for the things we choose to do together.” (Well, okay. Whatever. Next time tell the government to use lube. Also, when they were having kitten fits over the righteous killing of Al Suleimani, did anyone think to answer with “Hey, government is the name for the things we choose to do together”?  No? Pity. Someone should meme that.)

But the problem is that the government is not your benevolent, just, all pervasive parent.  Not even under Obama, whom the idiots praised as “kind of a god.” (Oh, light bringer, son of the morning, how has thou fallen….) I think what they are thinking of when they say government is an actual divinity. And don’t get me started on when they imagine that an AI might be the ticket to that. As an old pulp fan I weep. Weep, I tell you.

What the government can be, at least while other people’s money lasts, is an INDULGENT, spoiling parent.  In that Thatcher was correct.  As long as other people’s money is around, the government can give people lots and lots of things.

Now, mostly they will be things people don’t actually want, and which don’t work very well, kind of like if Santa limited his Christmas toy acquisition to the dollar store, and went for bulk.

So, in the case of the idiots currently trying to bribe us with our money, you’d get medicare for all and as efficient as the VA, and you’d get “safe and comfortable housing” or at least housing, but not in single family model. In fact, the old soviet stack a prole apartments built quickly, with insufficiently cured cement which starts crumbling after a year, with a bathroom per four apartment floor, and doors that never close quite right, and of course, no decoration, because well… they’re mass built. But hey, they’re free.

In the same way, socialists start out by being permissive with behavior, which, btw, quickly turns that “housing” into hell on Earth. You can see this with every class now dependent on the government, from school children, to the homeless. If you’re a big enough pain in the ass they leave you alone, since no one wants to risk getting cut to stop some meth head from pooping on the sidewalk, or some feral kid from holding his class hostage with a knife or a violent tantrum.  The less offensive infractions will get severely punished, but the true crazies and bullies will be carefully ignored.  In the same way, while most people who are dependent on government health care, as in the VA, and who are well behaved will wait forever, the illegals and marginal charity cases will clog up the ER because they’re bored, and it’s a bit of a drama. And it’s not like they’ll ever pay, anyway.

Socialist states always start like that. They indulge everyone they are afraid of. This is partly because socialism/communist amid the educated classes is at least a little rooted on the very strange idea that communist revolution is inevitable and also that everyone who is civilized somehow is guilty of offending/mistreating the uncivilized.  Which means they feel guilty and scared of anyone who acts feral or aggressive enough.

So… it starts like that. The people who have for years or about a century idealized the “masses” and thought that once the masses — be they working class, or in the US various “victim” classes of interesting coloration, orientation, or simply in possession of a vagina — got socialism, and the government dolled out its shoddily built, completely inappropriate toys (A doll for every kid, from age one month to 18, regardless of sex! Yes, the doll is weirdly made and falls apart in a day, but you get a doll, for free!) they’d be grateful and behave like perfect angels, get disillusioned.  After all, regardless of their college students assuring them that crime is the result of victimhood, and injustice, and psychosis inheres from the inequality and oppression of capitalism, these people are behaving like savages, are not grateful at all, and don’t respect their betters. They keep demanding more.

This effect is easily observed, in microcosm by putting a sweet spinster lady who “loves children” in charge of a horde of normally behaved children who’ve just been filled with soda and candy. By the end of the day, when you come to collect the kids, she’ll be foaming at the mouth and screaming she wants the little darlings dead.

Which is fine. Because she’d never do it, and she doesn’t have the power to do it. But when the sweet spinster lady is the government, she can.

And usually the intellectuals who have seized control of the government in the name of the people get to that stage just as they run out of other people’s money, because, strangely, the millionaires and billionaires didn’t have that much, once distributed all around. Not even enough to, say, cover everyone’s student loans, let alone to give everyone housing or food.  And those companies you told had to operate on totally green energy which doesn’t in fact exist yet? Yeah, they left. For places where they can work.

And all the cows are dead, and the proles are demanding steak.

How ugly it gets and how fast depends on whether you’re dealing with people who have full control of the government and the populace, as in, hard, full on red, USSR (or Venezuela) style socialism, or pinker, more diluted socialism. Or even with the left side of something like our own country, where you can already see the ugly in potentia, as people refuse to play along with the left’s imaginings, like perfect little proles.

In full on communism, this is when they start killing the wreckers and the hoarders in batch lots, and suddenly you find that you too are a wrecker and a hoarder, even though the “wrecking” is that you failed to guess the job they wanted you to do before they told you, and the hoarding is that you have an extra piece of stale bread.
For the pink socialist, still trying to pretend we’re nice because though we have the ballot box sewn up with fraud, who knows, the populace might get frisky and give us trouble, it comes in the form of rationed health care, of take two aspirin and go home to die, no we won’t give you a CT scan, of your baby isn’t perfect, so we’re going to let him/her die humanely, rather than give him/her a simple surgery that might allow him to live.

Because you see, when you get to that point, human beings are ALWAYS in the debt column.  They aren’t making enough, they aren’t creating new things, and it can’t be your fault, because you’re giving the ungrateful little bastards houses and food and clothes and EVERYTHING. And why aren’t they happy? It can’t be your fault.

The government can’t guess your abilities, and it certainly can’t force you to figure them out on your own, particularly when the choices it gives you are like that test that thought I should be a dancer. And you can’t discover anything, or create anything, because there’s five layers of bureaucracy to get through and, anyway, not one would give you anything extra for working so hard. So you do the minimum.  Which means the government has no clue how to provide for your needs, and since everyone is doing their minimum, to comply with often unreasonable orders from above…. well, sure, you’re entitled to a new pair of shoes a year. And this year all the shoes are size two, because that was the only way the manager could make 3 million pairs, from the supply of leather he had, in the time allotted, and therefore avoid being penalized. So, take your size two shoes, comrade and shut up.

Or in the pink version, the doctors are overworked and get paid the same as school teachers, for years and years of training, and they don’t have access to the diagnostic equipment they need to figure out what you have. You know, CT scans are expensive, and we can only afford to have the machines in certain places.  Here, here is a pain killer (unless we’re all et up about opioids in which case you don’t even get that) and come back in a month, if you’re still alive. If you survive long enough, maybe you’ll be the lucky winner, and maybe the diagnostic will even be in time. Unless, of course, you’re old or we think you’re stupid or useless, in which case, what’s the point? You’re just another mouth to feed.

It always ends like that.

You can already guess it in the eructations of our left who, with no power, yet, with no ability to make their vacuous dreams come true, can say, in public and unashamed that if the Wuhan flu kills a lot of people, won’t it be a great thing for the environment?

These people, who among the thousands of them lack the financial know-how to run a lemonade stand, imagine that wealth is something that exists independent of humans. Their vision of the world is like that creepy book I loved as a little kid, where ice cream grew on trees and fried chickens ran around with forks on their backs for convenient consumption.

They think with fewer people there will be less debit. They don’t realize people do things, and make things, and without people there is also no credit.

Making and building and creating is not part of their mental map. They are eternal children, hands raised and mouths open waiting for someone to distribute the candy.  Sure, they want to be in charge of distributing the candy. But they have no idea that someone needs to make it, or even invent new candy.  They are, in fact, like the insufferable little kids running for president of the first grade class and saying that everyone will get recess all day and ice cream for lunch.

The kids have no idea this is impossible. And one gets the impression neither do the socialists. Because they have about equivalent ideas of the world.

But the socialists are aware that one way or another there’s  a limited supply of goodies.  And therefore, already, before they even have any power to put their hands in your pocket, they dream of gulags and eliminating people they don’t like. Because people have no inherent value. They’re just items in the debit column. They’re units to whom “Stuff” must be dispensed. And therefore, the fewer of them, the better.

After all, if all the wrong thinkers, and all those stupid people who actually do things with their hands just vanished, you and your friends could have a great party, forever, right? You and people like you. People who think right, know how to live and would never do anything to upset you or demand what you can’t give.

That club, unfortunately, in the end, tends to shrink.  The cannibal feast of socialists is always on, in many places and times literally.

Which is why for their own good we must — must — make sure they never get the power they want so much. Because they don’t see people. They see debits.





303 thoughts on “Debit and Credit

  1. We’re getting ever closer to the American populace closing their accounts, repudiating their debts, and taking their wealth elsewhere.

  2. Excellent.
    But I fear that a long, impassioned pieces, posted very early in the morning, are double plus ungood for your sleep schedule.
    RIP Boxer

    1. I actually wrote this late at night. I was aiming for 800 words.
      Unfortunately the Adderal had left my system, so the whole thing became rabbit holes.
      Actually what’s bad for my sleep schedule are Greebo and his sister screaming at each other in the wee hours, till I went downstairs, grabbed Greebo under my arm and took him to my bedroom. (His sister blocks his access to the stairs, and he gets upset.)
      Note, he must love me because I still have arms and hands, and HE HATES being picked up. Second, he IS gaining weight back. His bolster-like person had a rather satisfying avoir du pois.
      And I must love him, because he and Val are not a hat and a matching pair of mittens, even though between them I got 3 hours of sleep, am walking into walls and incredibly nauseated.

      1. Our border collie likes to wake up at unpredictable hours (she can sleep through most anything, but deer in the back yard, not going to pass up on that).

        She also likes to sleep where I have to walk when I get up early, though most of the time, she’ll find a new spot and go back to sleep. Not today; I just got my first sips of COFFEE!!!111eleventy!! when she woke up, waking up $SPOUSE and Sara, her buddy. And I really needed that caffeine. Sigh.

      2. Good to know he’s regaining lost weight.

        Do not blame cats for your foolishness about not grabbing naps.

        Blame yourself for foolishness about owning sharing living quarters with nocturnal creatures.

    1. I think it was an interview with Ta Nehisi Coates. I saw it, but couldn’t find it when writing this. IF I do go back to PJ (I haven’t read the contract. Life has been insane) I want to do a piece on that assumption and fully unpack it, so I have to find it.

      1. in that interview she also talked about the confederate flags that were being flown at the Richmond demonstration…

        Confederate flags that NO news agency managed to get photographs of…

        I’ll lay you odds if any had been there, it would be on MSNBC, CNN, Vox, Salon, Etc etc etc (and definitely the Richmond Times-Disgrace, which is known to be anti-gun) from multiple camera angles and multiple times in order to make it appear like there was more than one…

        1. Confederate flags that NO news agency managed to get photographs of…

          Those flags were implicit, visible only to the Woke, just as so much racist/sexist/-phobic language is only interpretable by the Wokenoscentti.

          BTW – just saw a batch of political ads for state Republicans (Lt. Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General in battleground state NC) on the issues of illegal aliens, Democrat sheriffs’ sanctuary cities and supporting President Trump (respectively) — strongly suggesting local Republicans are not afraid f running on Donald Trump’s coattails.

        2. Yeah, about that:

          “The media implied the group was arrested while planning an attack at the Virginia rally, but that is not what law enforcement documents show.

          Firstly, the group decided not to actually go to a rally. They also decided not to start any violence. They planned to wait for a race war to start, as voice recordings show, and then join in.”

          The FBI had these mooks under surveillance since September, and knew they weren’t going to the rally….. but they needed a convenient arrest for their cohorts in the Democrat Party, so…..

        3. In watching the live streams, I did see one or two confederate battle flags. One was amalgamated with something else (and was not a state flag with the battle flag as a portion), and was fairly large (like 5 ft by 8 ft). The other one I briefly saw in a shot from above.

          Out of a crowd of ~20,000.

          1. What’s now thought of as “the Confederate flag” flew over MacArthur’s HQ IN Toyko until carpetbaggers from DC came in and demanded its removal.

            Some Army and Marine units still fought under it as late as Korea.

  3. Oh, I also really like the post–I kept having to get up and do something with children (it’s morning), so I didn’t finish it very quickly, but I kept coming back because it’s an important question explored well and thank you for writing it 🙂

  4. When I take aerobic classes …  

    I don’t.  One of my symptoms of dyslexia is a need to pause to decipher right from left.  When you add that to the time that it takes for me to figure out what exactly the instructor has asked me to do, everyone else has moved on to the next thing — or two.  I have never found a joy in such public displays of awkwardness.  Nobody much seemed to appreciate being crashed into.  So everyone is much happier when I don’t.

    1. You too, huh? I’m not dyslexic, but I’m completely incapable of determining right from left without looking at my hands. If I were absolutely forced to, my best bet might be to figure out which way I instinctively thought was right, then go the opposite direction.

      1. I couldn’t reliably do it until I started driving. Not from needing to know in order to follow directions, but because and managed to solidly map “slow lane” to right and “passing lane” to left.

        1. One of my uncles gave a trick– wear a ring on your right hand, as a kid.

          I remembered that the Left hand makes an L when it’s palm-down.
          But it took some thinking to remember which hand that was, I still glance down sometimes automatically…. with the ring my brain went “Ring, Right, L, Left.”

          It still gets over-written by people in the passenger seat who yell “left” and wave to the right/their right hand, etc. Because I know that I don’t see it right, and tend to trust other folks’ judgement.

            1. When I was riding shotgun with $SPOUSE as driver, I’d use “correct” instead of “right”. It made directions a bit less nervewracking.

              Was on a backpacking trip with a friend years ago, and we were getting down a tricky slope (terrain somewhat between sand and gravel; not good traction on a steep slope). Friend went down one patch first, then told me to go left to get down. I was dubious, since right looked better, but he insisted. Loudly. Sl I went left. After I fell and dealt with the trail rash (hiking knickers and that terrain weren’t a good match), he went “oops, the other left”. I didn’t kill him.

          1. Beloved Spouse has no memory for Right from left, but when instructions are given in terms of “Third base” or “First base” is able to distinguish without pause.

            Although some time is invariably spent on recitations of “Who?” and “I Don’t Know.”

          2. My husband and I ran into an older couple while out shopping a year or so ago, who were also White Australian and Filipina, because they heard me say ‘right’ when I meant left, and I facepalmed. There was laughter all around, and it seems to be a Filipino habit.

            The idea with the ring seems like a good idea, except when you start wearing a wedding ring or engagement ring. (I did the trick for a little while to try train myself out of the kaliwa/kanan-left/right problem, which when I think about it, is because both of them start with ‘ka’ and was why I would get confused and over the years it became a problem even in English. But when I started wearing a ring on my left ring finger… yeeeeep.)

            1. >> “The idea with the ring seems like a good idea, except when you start wearing a wedding ring or engagement ring”

              Couldn’t you just replace the ring you used to help you keep track of directions with it?

              1. I tried wearing rings on both hands for a while, and my brain seems to do this:
                “right = ring!”
                “Where’s the ring?”
                *short-circuit, stop, and lag behind my friends/family, or actively look/turn left. Tried once to turn into a support pillar.*

                -_-; Stupid brain. Stuff like this messed up my sense of direction slowly over the years too.

                1. Maybe I’m missing something, but why would you need two rings? The point was that you could stop wearing the directional-aid ring altogether and start wearing the wedding/engagement in the same place, letting it serve both purposes.

                  1. Oh. The left hand ring doesn’t fit on the right hand, and I almost lost it. So for a while, I wore rings on both hands, then eventually stopped wearing rings on the right hand (after gaining weight during one of the pregnancies, and noticing they kind of got in the way of drawing at that point.)

                    Trying to train myself to do the ‘left = ring hand’ now, but it got disrupted by the last two pregnancies (where it became much harder for me to keep trains of thought.)

                2. Sadly, it is no longer permissible to wear a glove on one hand, a la Michael Jackson.

                  Have any resorted to tattoos? Perhaps a heart on the Left hand (as nearest to that organ) and an AK-47 on the Right hand (for the Right of Self-Defense)?

                  1. How about wearing a glove on the left hand, a la Reggie Jackson?
                    Deja Moo — that funny feeling that you’ve heard the same bullshit before.

                  2. >> “Sadly, it is no longer permissible to wear a glove on one hand, a la Michael Jackson.”

                    Who makes these rules?

                  3. There was some comedy that had the bad guy with “LEFT” and “RITE” tattooed across his knuckles instead of the trasitional “LOVE” and “HATE”…

            2. I was actually playing with my wedding ring while sharing the trick, too.

              Oddly enough, it still works when I’ve not worn a ring on my right in decades.

          3. Old family trick — say “Right” and when the driver starts left, say, “the other right.”

            Me, I didn’t master it until third grade when we learned recorders. I put my hands up to play, and the top hand was the right. . . now I start to write, and know that’s my right.

            1. I use that when giving the kids directions. My two most annoying helpers tend to interpret raising my opposite hand to turn the wheel as turning the opposite way, though…

        2. I’m actually just fine when I’m driving. I know that I’m sitting on the left side, and everything else flows from there. It doesn’t, however, help in the least when I’m not driving.

      2. Before I was married, the only way I could tell which way was right was to attempt to write with each hand.
        Since older son is like that too (Weirdly he’s less dyslexic than his brother, though they’re both digit dyslexic. Fortunately by my thirties I’d worked out tricks (which work unless I’m exhausted) and I taught them those tricks, so they were fine at math. In my day I thought I was “stupid” because I’d copy 345 (for the next step in the equation, say) as 453 or 534 and not be able to tell the difference.
        Anyway, it’s hilarious to put me and #1 son in a car, with one giving directions and the other driving. THANK G-d for GPS. Before we had one (usually with me driving and him directing) we got lost in the MOST interesting ways. Even today, if going somewhere one of us knows really well, and we’re both in the car, or doing carpentry, or moving furniture, “No, your other left,” is used ALL the time.

        1. Doesn’t work so well if you start out writing left handed, then get smacked by nuns until you write “correctly” with your right, so end up being able to write with both… At one point in college, I could write notes with my left and translation with my right (faster, more words per minute) at the same time, because never enough time to take the right notes. Not so much these days.

          1. had the benefit that only one of my teachers ever tried to get me to write right-handed (almost wrote “right write-handed”(o_0)) and she was told to bug off. I had been writing lefty for too long by then, anyhow. But I never got the duo handed writing down.
            Met a pilot who could do both hands normal writing, one hand mirrored the other (both ways) and both hands write upside down, all as fast as normal writing.
            The Receptionist at the FOB had a crush on him.

          2. get smacked by nuns until you write “correctly”

            That right there sounds downright kinky…
            Some folks can learn by example. The rest have to piss on the electric fence for themselves.

            1. *snort* I was four. I very much doubt the very German nuns who were trying to teach us to count in French and basic Latin as well as tie our shoes and the alphabet had the slightest thought of kink at the time.

              1. The “don’t write with your left hand” is because it makes it really hellish to read when you drag your hand across the wet letters. (or sweat on them, or just fuzz the graphite)

                1. I was taught to write with my right hand and broken of writing with the left in school (I was writing with the left fine at home. Ball Point pens). Do I resent it? No. In school we were required to use quill pens. Writing with your left hand with a quill pen is not IMPOSSIBLE but it’s close to for a little kid.
                  And that’s where that comes from, btw.

                  1. Mom showed me some relative’s notes in pencil (he could write with his left) and besides the horrible (family) penmanship, the added smuggest really made an impression. 😀

        2. I got ‘right’ and ‘left’ (gee and haw, or haw and gee depending on location/custom… there’s confusion just waiting to happen) well enough if maybe a bit late. I grasped ‘clockwise’ and ‘counterclockwise’ (anticlockwise) as well. But nuts, bolts, screws? Even if I had a ‘feel’ for them, I couldn’t describe it – and some got upset that I twisted bread bag ties ‘the wrong way’ (there’s a right way that’s set? Why not, oh, TELL me of it?). Now, I have a simple solution: no bread.

          1. ‘S’ and ‘Z’ twists. The diagonal of the letter matches the visible part of the twist. (So common “right-hand” threads, turned clockwise to tighten, have ‘Z’ twist.)

        3. Was dealing with me doing a bit of numbers swap today (Dyslexia as opposed to Dyscalculia). Labels had wrong lot numbers, didn’t get caught until they were in Rotterdam.
          Shipping is not supposed to ship anything without a CoA. They didn’t bother to ensure it had one and that would have been a minor “Oh, here’s 4 new labels in the envelope on the next trailer going over there” instead of “Oh, here’s 4 new labels that need to be run across town before noon, then shipped via FedEx overnight to Europe so the product the customer was waiting to get off the boat can finally get shipped to them.”

        4. I thought I was “stupid” because I’d copy 345 …

          Oh! That’s easily worked around! Just take the natural log of 345 and write that … Ummm, ask Dan for help with natural logs, I’ve barely the foggiest notion.

        5. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I was ambidextrous when young. Really nothing to boast about, because it should be said that I wrote equally badly with either hand.

          When I had the measles I spent some time teaching myself to write with a pencil held in my toes. The result was discernible, but, um, interesting.

        6. Have you tried colored filters?

          I have read that many types of dyslexia are a result of the cone (color) sensor cells responding to different colors at different speeds. Since your eyes are always moving, the letters and numbers get ‘smeared’ and scrambled as different color images of the same symbol arrive at different times, the last image of one symbol overlapping with the first image of another one.

          Setting the background to dark gray, and the text to red, green or blue might be another option.
          “What’s your secret for living to a hundred?”
          100-year-old man: “Don’t die.”

    2. I have to do that too. I didn’t know it was related to the dyslexia. Poor Robert has it awful.
      My issue is that I HAVE to have some group thing to actually exercise. And for a while those were the only things that I could sign up for. (It’s been 15 years.) And yeah, I WAS AWFUL.
      These days DIL takes me for walks. I don’t know what I’ll do next year.

        1. Yes. Tip: Avoid the belt mills that want you to sign a long-term contract. Look for the little holes-in-the-wall, often clubs, that are run by people who love the art for itself, rather than as a revenue stream.

      1. It is perfectly alright not to know what you will do next year. You don’t need to cross that bridge until you come to it. Take care of today, moment by moment, which is about all any of us can do anyway.

        And keep writing. You know we all love you and want the best for you … if for no other reason than we want you can provide us with more to read.

    3. In Basic, one of my squadmates (nicknamed ‘Gomer’) could only march with a red rag tied to his right foot. Cadence was, ‘Red, red, red, left, red.’ He got that the left foot was the one left when the red one wasn’t in play.

      1. There were two in my regiment that bear-walked. Left arm, left leg. The corporals took to marching them around the parade square, a man in front and one in back with a broom handle in each hand. Bear-walking recruit in the middle, holding on tight to the handles.

        I guess it worked eventually, but I remember the discomfort watching them march around completely wrong. Couldn’t stay in step, couldn’t keep time, bear-walking, it was a mess. Poor bastards.

        I look back at that time, and I think to myself I could have been a better man. Less sarcasm and more understanding would have been good.

        1. *shake head* Wisdom may not come with age, but with enough bad decisions (that you recognize, and work to correct), it can happen. I don’t think I anything like better as a young man. Too bitter, too cynical.

          1. Its those things you did that you look back on and juuuust CRINGE that hurt the most. I am -extremely- fortunate to have only stupid things, where I was a prick to somebody for no good reason. I never really Went There, so to speak.

            I tell the young relatives to learn from other people’s mistakes, because making your own sucks. Being a dick to the kid that can’t march, yeah that was a beauty.

  5. About the hats… when I took the aptitude test in high school, my guidance counselor was very excited to tell me that it showed I would make a good guidance counselor. Right. Because I’d rather lock my door and write a BASIC program than deal with people I don’t know? Because I feel about social interaction how caveman lawyer feels about technology?

    Perhaps it was true. Much of our problems as students would have been better solved iif administrators had refused to talk to us and left us to make random choices.

    1. Their tests told me I should be a forest ranger. Which is close to the bottom of things I’d want, since Mother Nature and I operate at DEFCON 2 even on the best of days.

      I figure they have some list of “we think we might be short of ‘X’ profession in a few years, so we’ll divert as many kids as possible down that path, because the needs of society always outweigh the needs of the individual.”

      The various “guidance counselors” I had to deal with, starting in the 7th grade or so, could all have been more useful to the students if they’d been reassigned as hall monitors.

      1. That’s the way military recruitment works. How many vacancies do we have to fill? How many bodies do we have to fill them? I need a combat controller, a medic, a cook, 5 guards, 2 vehicle mechanics, and a computer programmer this week. I get 10 kids who walk in. All have high school diplomas, half can’t read a the 9th grade level, so we make them the guards, the one with a forest ranger aptitude we make a combat controller, the kid who reads a lot we make a mechanic along with his friend who’s a jock, the other two specialized in chasing girls, so we fill the cook and computer programmer positions. The medic goes unfilled until some guy with an 80 IQ walks in next week.

        1. The ASVAB and it’s predecessor military aptitude tests were intended to do just that, albeit in a total war draft callup scenario: You get your everyon-goes draft callup and all of them take the test, then you go through the results looking for who would in theory easiest to train to fill your needs – people with math aptitude to artillery, people with mechanical aptitude to tankers or motorpool, and so on.

          But the priority is the demand from units, so you move the cut points around until the incoming numbers match the needs.

          But if it’s late 1944 and even after chasing the Wehrmacht across France the darn Germans are not just giving up, you suddenly need a lot more infantry than your planners had planned, so you go through all the schools for all those who made various cuts and reassign everyone you can get your hands on to 11b infantry to send them in as replacements regardless of their aptitude test results.

          1. I recall a convo wherein something like “You don’t excel in any area. Therefore you’re a perfect fit for infantry!” was discussed. Note my best friend’s results were between above average and near perfect for the ones I can recall, so he wasn’t, technically, wrong…

            1. Heh. I got a 60 in what was supposed to be the “administrative aptitude” category. 98 in everything else. 😛

              1. *snicker* I scored so high on the general part of the ASVAB that I qualified for just about everything. Unfortunately, at the time I came in, the Air Force was full up (because the good GI bill iteration was coming to an end, and everyone who wanted that GI education version was getting in) and the only openings were for the mechanical field. In which I qualified to be a vehicle operator. A driver. (This was where my father blew his stack, famously. “Four years in college to be a blankety-blanking TRUCK DRIVER!!!???” Cool it, Daddy – I’ll wangle my way into something better…”)
                Which I did … into a career field of which I had never heard. And the thought which motivated me through the broadcaster tech school was, “Pass this, or you’ll be in the motor pool, driving a truck…”
                In the long run, it might have been better to have been in the motor pool. I might have made rank faster. The broadcaster AFSC was a dead end and almost impossible to make rank in. Ah, well – too late smart and too soon old.

                1. Humph. If you scored top marks on the general part it seems they ought have started you out as a general and let you work your way up from there.

          2. My father was a steel company draftsman until he was drafted in 1944 into the Air Force. They were training him for chemical warfare (I got the feeling that TPTB were expecting the 8th to do some serious bombing over Japan) until he broke a collar bone doing a parachute landing fall.

            When he got out of the hospital (complicated by a bad reaction to penicillin–treated with *more* penicillin, of course), he got switched to draftsman. Okinawa in the 8th AF wasn’t too awful for him; I think he was happy that he wasn’t in the 8th a couple-three years earlier, and I know he was happy after Japan surrendered.

            Similar thing with my eldest brother. Got blood poisoning from blisters while marching in Basic; after he got out of the hospital, he went into the Finance corps. What a surprise for somebody trained as an accountant… He was stationed in Seoul while the Army was dealing with the aftermath of the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam.

          3. I got a 99th percentile on language aptitude on the ASVAB. They tried to sign me up right then and there. I pointed to a major sexual harassment/assault scandal that had erupted and said, “Officer or nothing, so I can say ‘no.’ ” The recruiter did not have a good rebuttal on hand, and departed without me.

            And then the Fickle Finger of Fate with “flick” three times and that was that.

            1. Me too. Just wasn’t convinced I’d be a good enough translator, since I have a real problem with fluency. Then my little brother got the same, and he was hot for Air Force; so then I obviously couldn’t sign up and both be at Monterey at the same time. And then he flunked out by not studying enough/caring enough, so then I really couldn’t sign up.

              But since it turned out that I had a REALLY BAD reaction to Valley Fever and also to molds and dust of various kinds, and everybody who goes to Monterey for DLI gets Valley Fever and just sits there, in a huge Valley Fever, mold, and dust area… well, I’m kinda glad I didn’t go. I would have been sicker than a sick sick dog.

              Ain’t never going back to California or anywhere in the Valley Fever area. That place is just unfit for human life, nice weather or no.

          4. Volunteered for the draft. Inducted in late October 1966. Took the tests. 135 on the “IQ” test, knew how to type. They offered me “communications center specialist” 72B20 if i signed up for another year. Stationed in Hawaii for 2 and a half years. Worked at Fort Shafter communications center.

            Going to church likely saved my life. In basic, one Sunday the base commander sent a guy to the barracks with an invite, to get me to sign up for OCS. I was at church. The next week, he send another guy, I was in the hospital with pneumonia. God worked overtime to keep me out of Vietnam. I was so naive at the time my life expectancy would have been about 5 minutes.

            Grew up in Berkeley before it became the people’s republic of bzerkley. Needed a TS security clearance, used an Alameda County Judge my father knew as a reference. Passed. The weird part: the son of that judge got radicalized and lead one faction of the communist party USA. Who knew?

            1. After the ASVAB I had Navy recruiters stalking me to sign up for their nuclear program. I thought to ask about the dropout rate. Which turned out to be something like 50%. Per *quarter*. Of a two-year school… and you were still stuck with the 6-year nuke hitch.

              I wasn’t *that* stupid…

              I went by the Army recruiter to see what they offered. They ran another battery of tests and said I was best fitted for “physical interrogation specialist.”

              Uh… maybe “forest ranger” wasn’t that bad… I also knew that people with not-in-demand official job descriptions often wound up a a general labor pool, and I didn’t figure there was much call for torturers in a just-post-Vietnam Army.

              In the end, I decided the military probably wasn’t a career path I wanted.

        2. Despite how high your score is, you can still go in with a “guaranteed infantry” contract.
          I had the second-highest score in my company. (I know this only because my platoon commander was a petty, insecure schmuck, and saw vindication in having beaten me by a single point on the aggregate. It was a big deal to him.)

          1. Usually. The Poor Bloody Infantry tend to get looked down on by the other branches. In his autobiography, Norman Schwarzkopf commented on how he and some of the other members of his West Point class worked to try and get things arranged so that the infantry slots *weren’t* the last slots that needed to be filled for his graduating class. They succeeded, and this was considered a minor victory.

            Or in other words, things are pretty unusual if there isn’t a demand for more riflemen.

            1. And the infantry look down on certain other career fields as “so dumb they couldn’t even be us”.

      2. If I recall correctly, there was a period when everybody in my school was getting test results that said they should be forest rangers – to the point where people began trying to force the tests to return something else by answering all questions with something like, “I would much rather spend a sunny day watching soap opera reruns than set foot outdoors.”

          1. Who *wouldn’t* most enjoy being a forest ranger?

            You seem to be just the type of chap we’re looking for. So many of our applicants these days have ‘A’ levels and university degrees … excel directors and nuclear scientist drop-outs. No use to us at all, never know where you are with them. You’re the sort of chap we’re looking for: a lazy, criminal drunkard.

      3. I always found it kind of interesting that the one person that every college required a recommendation from was your guidance counselor. For the vast majority of students at my high school, their guidance counselor couldn’t have picked them out of a lineup.

        1. *snickers* Mine knew me, because I was the one who absolutely refused to be shoved around per the theories.

          Up to and including walking out of a class when a teacher who refused to teach showed up to be the teacher that year. (I wanted to learn calculus, but not enough to try to teach it to myself in a classroom with 40 other people that I also had to tutor. Was a good call, everyone failed that class.)

          She was still pissed I went military; was the first unrelated adult to actually try that traitor to my sex junk.

            1. Go to college, preferably to become a teacher, preferably a college or “advanced” high school teacher.

              No specific subject, either, just “a teacher.”

              In fairness, she knew I could do it because like most of the other folks here I’d been drafted to “help” my classmates every freaking year I was at the school– also as is familiar to a lot of folks here, they usually got better grades than I did, for reasons both fair and unfair.

              In fairness on the other side, I don’t like kids. Surely not enough to be stuck replaying the hell-years as a supervisor!

              1. *thinks about what I know of Foxfier’s life*

                I think it might be more accurate to say you don’t like other people’s kids, or perhaps you don’t want the position of teacher where you are responsible for but not empowered to appropriately deal with kids. 🙂

                1. *laughs* Part of why I phrase it that way, really.

                  I like some people who are kids– thank goodness, since I’m knee deep in them!– but I don’t like “kids” as a group. Even less than most other age-groups of humans, honestly.

                  The requirement to exercise authority, when you’re not given any authority, is a really bad fit for me. I also recognize I’ve got a temper, and a kid that gets excited about an idea can and will have me racing right down the rabbit hole with him…as the rest of the class is bored out of their minds because they don’t care about if rabbits are rodents or not, they want to finish the multiplication problem example we’re doing for the 6th day running.

                  (Short version: depends on the definition you’re using. Only slightly longer compared to long version: They created a “rabbit” group [Lagomorpha] about a century back. But a lot of materials, if you are doing deep research, will still use the “chew on stuff to wear down their teeth” definition. ESPECIALLY if you are a kid in the 80s whose mom was into this in the 60s and got the stuff that was second-hand in the 40s and don’t get me started on the Scottish school teacher ancestress.)

                  1. That would be a good example of how “science” changes over time.

                    One good example is nuclear physics. The theories that led to igniting the light of ten thousand suns over Trinity, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki are so far from present physics that they’re “not even wrong” as Pauli put it…

                    All science is approximation; the trick is to use the right approximation for the task at hand.

                    1. All science is approximation; the trick is to use the right approximation for the task at hand.

                      This is why the “The science is settled” idjits get my blood pressure rising.

                  2. Just goes back to freedom and responsibility. If you’ve got the responsibility for those kids, by thunder you bloody well ought to have the freedom to discipline and correct them when they do the things that little kids do to each other. Seperating freedom and responsibility is nigh always the road to tyrrany and terror.

                    1. Amen.

                      On further thought, there’s also the large number of folks who accept the authority– but refuse the responsibility.

                      Resulting in feral kids.

                      Yeah, some of it is different values…but some if it is simply that I don’t want to be criminally assaulted by a relatively young child.

              2. >> “I don’t like kids.”

                [raises eyebrow]

                Don’t you have, like, six of them? Or am I thinking of someone else?

                1. Yep!

                  I like THEM, they’re FAMILY.
                  Decent people, all things considered. I like decent people. (Even if the Duchess has discovered puns. Insane level puns. EVERYWHERE.)

                  But some people really like kids as a group– you know, the folks who go “oh! Kids! I like kids!” and mean it.
                  Not really a thing specific to kids, I don’t much like people in general, too… I don’t dislike people, just more of a be-cautiously-aware and appreciating how awesome it is when you meet a good person who just ‘clicks’. And respect that even if you don’t like them, they’re still to be treated honorably, both for you and for them.

                  … of course, sometimes Other People’s Children make that a very difficult situation….

                  1. Even if the Duchess has discovered puns. Insane level puns.
                    So… when does she start posting comments here?
                    (She will have to be chaperoned around RES, of course….)

                    1. >> “Some point after she can type at least 100WPM.”

                      From the sound of it, you’ll want to teach her to dodge carp first as well.

          1. Such councilors as I’ve had had a pretty good idea what they should tell me to do but understood I was prone to tell them right back.

            N.B. – I have not always been a wallaby of warm whimsical wit. For a number of years consumption of vinegar was precluded by customs barring cannibalism.

        2. Fortunately, not in my day. My guidance counselor suggested that I, wanting to be an engineer, apply to a college not accredited in engineering.

    2. Ah, yes. The Guidance Counselor. The one at my school (in the mid-80s) told me computers were a fad. I could have been in software programming and testing much earlier without that.

      1. *Shepard in highschool*

        Guidance counselor: “Ah yes, the Reapers. We have dismissed them. The science is settled. You should be a lawyer, and also would be a good fit for journalism. There is a significant demand for social workers.”

      2. I was college-bound, but the guidance counselor could not understand why a budding engineer wanted to take mechanical drawing and 1st semester metal shop. I didn’t *need* metal shop for my career, but it didn’t hurt. Drafting, yep, that was useful. Numbnuts couldn’t understand that to read a drawing, it helps to actually *draw* one once or twice. One wonders if he’d ever figured out what engineers did in their jobs.

        (Univ of Redacted dropped the mechanical drawing requirement for EEs the year before I started. Should have kept it… OTOH, they dropped Theoretical and Applied Mechanics just before the Add/Drop deadline when I was taking it. Some of the EEs dropped it, but my roommate and I kept it because a) it was kind of fun, and b) we both had solid ‘A’s.)

    3. Did anyone else see the similarities between “guidance counselors” and the USSR “political officers” placed in various units and ships?

  6. Oh… this new blog doesn’t seem to have a way to comment on other people’s comments. Re: Guidance counselors. One artist told me her counselor advised every girl in her class to become English teachers. I have no idea how many English teachers she imagined her town could employ.
    And yes, I realize it take more time to write a short post with the same information than a long one.

      1. Mine sometimes shows comments indented, hours later there’s just a wall of text, then indented again…

        1. I’m using the Vivaldi browser on Linux. I only see a Reply link, and no Like link, at the bottom of each comment.

      1. It’s there for me – the word “Reply” in slightly grey text jammed right up under the comment. It would be more obvious if it were a bit separated vertically or maybe blue or something, but it’s there.

        1. Reply appears and works fine in Pale Moon. Shows up in the current version of Firefox, too.

          Is it possible that it’s not WordPress’s fault? Stranger things have happened…

        2. I’m here via Chrome on Win 10 and have found that (when I remember) posting an extra character, such as a dash, as a bottom line will space the Reply link from the comment. Any spacer other than a blank line will suffice.
          – 30 –

      2. Nested comments show up on my computer. They don’t show up on my phone. I’m not dure whether that’s because of the formatting for mobile, or something else.

        1. They are nested in mine, but only by one character. I’m guessing that was to give us more room.

        2. On my tablet they’re nested when the tablet is in horizontal orientation but not when in vertical orientation.

          1. That’s because there’s more of a horizontal dimension to show the indent. There’s probably nothing Sarah can do about that; it’s a function of the software driving your display when the aspect mode changes.

            1. The nesting showed up on my phone in the old format. But I think it might have left out the commenter avatars to get the extra page width.

  7. In fact, the old soviet stack a prole apartments built quickly, with insufficiently cured cement which starts crumbling after a year, with a bathroom per four apartment floor, and doors that never close quite right, and of course, no decoration, because well… they’re mass built.

    It seems you are confusing ‘need’ with ‘I would like’.  One needs clothes with sufficient insulating ability if they are working outside in freezing weather, but, outside of visibility for safety does the color matter?  You also seem to think that what you would like matters, no, it is that you do what the government needs you to do on behalf of the state.*

    You should have realized by now that all the decoration anyone ever needs is their own precious picture of the dear leader …

    I can only keep this up so far.

    *Um — did Portugal have need of dancers, or was it a way to sideline an oppositional thinker?

    1. The State needed dancers to fulfill the goals of the Ministry of Culture. All citizens would be required to attend and applaud no matter how many left feet were tangled.

    2. I don’t think any country has NEED of dancers, and considering they closed the public (for non rich kids) ballet classes after the revolution because it was wasteful, and therefore blighted my best friend’s life (she was eight and one of the best dancers in the country for her age, and it was as much her thing as writing was mine) I’d say it was just craziness.

      1. No country has NEED of dancers?

        How will they understand Pwecious Leader’s oratory without interpretive dancers to accompany it?

        When they pay the piper we will all dance to their tune.

  8. “I think what they are thinking of when they say government is an actual divinity. And don’t get me started on when they imagine that an AI might be the ticket to that. As an old pulp fan I weep. Weep, I tell you.”

    So is this this my long-awaited opportunity to use Deus ex machina in a sentence? 😛

    1. Deus? Ain’t they the trendy motorcycle shops/boutiques? Waddya mean I don’t need a Biltwell Helmet and a Cafe RacerStreet Tracker/Bobber/Brat?

  9. Good post. “Regarding people as debits”…consider the emotional reaction of a commissioned salesman when a potential customer walks in versus the emotional reaction of a bureaucrat (with guaranteed job tenure) when someone walks in looking for assistance. The salesman: “Oh, good another one!” The bureaucrat: “Oh, hell, another one!”

    1. To be strictly fair to bureaucrats, I have found that it works wonders if you are the first polite person they have seen all day. If you make it clear that while you may think the system stinks, you don’t hold it against THEM, you just need a little help please.

      Yes, you will occasionally run into a complete sphincter. But that’s true of salesmen, too.

      The problem with Socialism in this regard is that it traps bureaucrats between the rock of the unrealistic expectations the Elites have raised and the adamantine reality of what can actually be done. They have to spend all day, every day, telling people that the promises of the Elite be damned, their child is not going to be given the treatment it needs and WILL DIE.

      There is no hell deep enough for the elites in such systems.

      1. 50 years ago, Peter Drucker wrote about the inherent problems with bureaucracy:

        “Whether government is “a government of laws” or a “government of men” is debatable. But every government is, by definition, a “government of paper forms.” This means, inevitably, high cost. For “control” of the last 10 per cent of any phenomenon always costs more than control of the first 90 per cent. If control tries to account for everything, it becomes prohibitively expensive. Yet this is what government is always expected to do.

        The reason is not just “bureaucracy” and red tape; it is a much sounder one. A “little dishonesty” in government is a corrosive disease. It rapidly spreads to infect the whole body politic. Yet the temptation to dishonesty is always great. People of modest means and dependent on a salary handle very large public sums. People of modest position dispose of power and award contracts and privileges of tremendous importance to other people–construction jobs, radio channels, air routes, zoning laws, building codes, and so on. To fear corruption in government is not irrational.

        This means, however, that government “bureaucracy”— and its consequent high costs—cannot be eliminated. Any government that is not a “government of forms” degenerates rapidly into a mutual looting society.”

        If government operations are fully proceduralized, to the point of eliminating individual employee and frontline manager discretion, they will be cumbersome and inefficient. If they are not fully proceduralized in this way, then they will be subject to widespread corruption and tyrannical behavior.

        Hence, the expansion of government into all aspects of human life leads to increasing inefficiency, eventually resulting in sluggish performance across the entire economy–while the increasing frustration with bureaucracy results in a widespread demand to “make government more responsive” by giving more discretionary authority to administrators and to their political superiors. This, in turn, results in a government which is not only a looting society but a tyranny. Yet at the same time, there will still be enough baroque proceduralization (selectively enforced) to ensure high levels of inefficiency and very high government administrative costs.

        Yes, there are awful bureaucracies in the private sector as well as in government (and they seem to be becoming worse), but at least competition puts some ultimate bounds on bureaucratic behavior.

        1. Note that the truly awful bureaucracies in the private sector are the ones with the most widespread power. The more things the company does, the worse its bureaucracy is.

          Which is why the solution to overbearing gov’t is not even repealing laws so much as reducing the scope of its governance. Just as making a company more effective is often making it more specialized.

      2. Ah, yes. The delights of bureaucracy.

        This is where a relatively neutral, savagely anti-corruption media comes in handy, along with a relatively cynical view of government and corruption (i.e. power attracts the corruptible). I’ve seen what happens when the media regards all government bureaucrats and politicians as fair game, just find the evidence and get it on the current affairs. It’s fun… and it makes those more inclined to corruption much more inclined to limit their depredations.

        Alas, once said media becomes partisan in any direction, the fun ends and one set of politicians gets free reign.

        Of course I grew up in Australia in a time and place where the media considered it something of a sport to expose corruption – which meant that except in the one state where they were openly corrupt, the worst it usually got was diddling the travel and accommodation expenses.

      3. their child is not going to be given the treatment it needs and WILL DIE.

        The one that triggered the Red Curtain of Blood was the case in Britain, where the bureaucrats would not let the parents take the sick and dying child to the States where a possible treatment was available. As far as I could tell, the rationales were a) “if the treatment succeeds, people might expect us to do better”, and b) “shut up peasant”.

    2. Well, pay bureaucrats piecework based on problems resolved and you’d get different service at the DMV.

      The issue is more that their pay is the same whether they solve everyones problems rapidly and efficiently with a smile, or sleep at their desk, and more based on internal politicing and backside kissing than the work.

        1. This might explain Louisiana’s DMV. My last two trips through a major office (Shreveport) was shockingly efficient. Walk in, tell door guard what you there for, get printout with letter and number, wait for said letter and number to come up, but all the A’s are one set of clerks, all B’s another, etc some clerks do more than one letter (C&D or E&F), so odd things can get done fast, and if you need to do two different things, it is noted on the ticket and in the system, and when the first clerk is done with you they print another ticket and that number tends to get called very fast. Both times was less than an hour wait.
          Later I used a different smaller office and it was even faster, though not much. It was faster for having less customers, really, so often having no wait at all.

            1. Well, it was Louisiana.
              It was two or three running the screening, but at least one was armed (The State Police are involved with running the DMV in Louisiana), and it was only the larger offices that had the cops at the front NOLA (was at Troop B until it was shut for corruption) and the West Bank, Baton Rouge’s main office had armed guards around (they had a small office in an industrial park in Baton Rouge as well, it was faster and hardly anyone there, but I think it was titles and registrations only), and before the Letter/Number system Kenner had an armed guard on hand but he just sat there.

          1. The same thing in the Texas DMV, when I had to redo my driver licence. Got an appointment, did the required paperwork in advance, showed up at the appointed time with it, and with several ID … (concealed carry license which lists my veteran status on it)… waited five minutes in the crowded anteroom before being called to a desk where the matter was expedited in another five minutes flat.
            The central post office in San Antonio is also amazingly efficient, cordial and helpful. I have no idea why this is so, other than post office hiring veteran preference? But it does make it hard to tell stories of awful post-office/DMV customer experience.

            1. Only dealt with the Courthouse in my driving in Texas. They P.Oed me with changing the cycle endorsements and I was dealing with a mess up in Louisiana, and broke. So I wasn’t going to pay for the classes, take time for the lessons, and pay the outrageous amount to maintain my motorcycle endorsement that I have had since 1982. So I kept the LA licence and this is only possible in Texas (though they will fine you) because the only time I was ever asked for a license (any I.D. actually) when registering a vehicle was when once, I paid with a debit/credit card. Cars and bike Regoes are Taxes and DLs are Public Safety in Texas. They never did get to acknowledging other state’s Cycle Endorsements and I moved to Michigan. So I went 12 years in Texas with a Louisiana license.

    3. More than once I have gotten my way with a bureaucrat by saying: “Just take care of this one thing and I’ll go be somebody else’s problem!”
      Always, always have a Plan O — for Oh Shit!

    4. The local car dealerships run their service departments on commission. The Ford dealership’s parts men won’t even look a part up if they don’t think it will cost at least $100, because “it’s not worth their time.”

      After having the local Ford parts manager tell me that, it was the last time I darkened their door.

      I’ve run into other commissioned salesmen with similar ideas. They don’t want my money, fine. It’s not the 1980s any more; a few clicks and I can usually have whatever they’re selling in my mailbox in a day or two.

      “The internet is killing off local businesses.”

      Gee, that’s *terrible…”

  10. On a random note, I’d never noticed the “Recent Posts: Mad Genius Club” at the bottom of the page. Has that always been there and I’ve just never noticed, or is it new?

  11. The thing about Socialism is that it replaces the Divine Right of Kings with the Divine Right of Government. And the problem with the Divine Right of Kinds is that the one thing all Kinds MUST KNOW if they are to rule well is that if they piss off enough people, badly enough, they are likely to grown a head shorter. When they King does not believe that, Katy bar the door, it’s going to get ugly out.

    And Socialism makes it worse, because an individual King has a harder time pretending he did not personally order those peasants slaughtered than a dispersed bureaucracy. ‘That wasn’t decided here. This is the kneecapping department. The famine department is over the quad, and they aren’t in today.’


    1. Socialism is a religious cult with an underlay that includes the forms of feudalism, without many of the elements and obligations of feudal society that made it actually work.

      It is also possible that socialism is simply and totally a religious cult, and the feudal forms that always manifest underneath whenever it is tried are just the best human workaround to make anything work at all.

      It should be noted that the pre-takeover phase of socialism lacks the implementation structures because it is religious, and thus faith-based. There is no need to include any practical implementation aspects in the socialist canon because that’s defeatism comrade – when the revolution comes we will be implementing paradise on Earth, and questions about how paradise will actually work are just counterrevolutionary heresies.

    2. Whatsoever, for any cause,
      Seeketh to take or give
      Power above or beyond the Laws,
      Suffer it not to live!
      Holy State or Holy King—
      Or Holy People’s Will—
      Have no truck with the senseless thing.
      Order the guns and kill!

      Once there was The People—Terror gave it birth;
      Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth
      Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, O ye slain!
      Once there was The People—it shall never be again!

  12. with a population of over 330 million people (US), no government could possibly tailor policy down to the individual level. The best it can do is make generalized rules that effect large population groupings (when they are arsed to, usually it’s one rule for everyone… except congress who exempts themselves because they already know how screwed up the law that they are passing is.) One size fits all… doesn’t, and never could.

    On top of that, the “from each…” crowd never seems to understand that while democracy attempts to elect the brightest and best of us, it generally fails horribly. So that “One size fits all” rule is usually so full of crap and fail that it should be named “one size fits few” (or none).

    Besides, who the frack wants to live in a world where you only get what you need and nothing of what you want? And make no mistake, in the “from each…” world, there are enough needs out there that there won’t be enough left over for the wants of anyone but those in charge.

    1. They don’t want what they need, they want what they lust for without working for it. They’ve been convinced (indoctrinated more like) that “Needs” are more than enough food to not starve and enough shelter to not succumb to the elements.
      Also they are so poorly taught they don’t know that such never supplies enough basic needs, so they likely won’t even get food and shelter in the end.

    1. There was an incident a while back. It was in Europe -possibly Germany – in which a job counselor essetially ordered a woman to either take an offered job in the sex industry or lose her benefits. I don’t think the job was prostitution. But regardless of the ecact nature of the job…

      Fortunately, the resulting public uproar put the kibosh on that.

      1. Can’t remember where I heard it but somebody brought up that story and another person said that it was an urban legend.

        1. It was true – sort of.

          There was an unexpected interaction between two things:

          (1) the longstanding rule that if you reject a job presented by the job finding service, you were assumed to not want to work and lost benefits

          (2) the legalization of brothels and their subsequent addition to the job service’s database

          IIRC they jumped fast to make sex work non-coercive once it happened and it was pointed out

          1. AKA, yes a woman was told “take a job as a prostitute or lose your benefits,” but it looked really bad and they changed the policy.

            I guess we should be glad it didn’t take years of forced prostitution….? (It is Europe, after all. /sigh)

        2. I know that someone told me it was an urban legend, and then got pissed when I found the original news stories (not in English).

          It was actual sex worker, but I can’t even remember the country.

            1. Yep, poked around a bit and even found the Snopes “debunking.”

              Which is a heck of a reminder of why I stopped using them; what a lazy bunch of rumor-mongering garbage.

          1. Well, my question would be “did the newspaper get the story correct”. 😉

            Seriously, if you found a news story about it, that’s a Point in favor to it being a true story. 😀

            1. UK times, and Snopes actually links a German paper that mentions it happening several times.

              Down at the bottom of the thing labeled “false.”

              Because winning an appeal when the gov’t says “screw strangers for money or lose your unemployment” is totally not being told “screw strangers for money or lose your unemployment.”

      1. Heh. Back in the day, I got to take the test several times in a row. First was police work. Then engineering. Then social work. Then bricklaying, Math teacher, military service, child care, plumbing, forestry, and last was something like librarian I think, which I actually liked.

        The proctors asked (finally) if I was messing with them.

        “Of course.”

        The funny thing is, I’ve never done police work, but I believe the rest I’ve done at least a bit of here and there…

        1. I suspect that most among the Huns are prone to “monitor’ the tests as we take them, reaching conclusions about what each question is probing for and selecting answers for consistency. Last time I was tasked to take introvert/extrovert axis (no points for guessing which way I went) and dead center 50/50 on whatever the other axis presumed to measure.

          It isn’t as if the tests are particularly subtle, after all.

          1. I either, without really trying, come down just about absolute dead center… or slam the needle hard.
            The results are likely still not to be believed, in either case.

      2. HS test it came back in Forestry. This was early ’70s. Councilor was “that can’t be right!” Me? Of coarse it is. Why can’t a female go into forestry? (Early ’70s remember.)

        Fast forward to ’96, & again to ’02 (required to get extra benefits, worked in ’96, not so much in ’02). First 30 options all were computer programming related, then it hit the forestry options. Well to be fair I do have BS degrees in both, and work experience in both. ’96 lack of work was due to Timber Company shutting down the division I’d been working as the regional developer & programmer on forestry systems. ’02, just was a bankruptcy of a hardware company where I was one of the programmers (not the chip factory).

        FWIW the jobs retraining programs most the forester’s took in ’96? Helped for 7 years. Then the under staffed, job bringing, tax deferred, chip producing company, had to pay the full freight property taxes to the county & city. They shutdown. By then I’d lost track of those who’d gone to work there. Most wouldn’t have been retirement age. But old enough to get caught in the darn hard to prove age discrimination track regardless of what they did. Note, another chip manufacturer was not available locally.

        1. We’ve had a series of phone-service companies setting up in Klamath Falls. Usually, by the time the tax benefits are expiring, the company has a convenient bankruptcy or it simply shuts down operations in town. So far, I’ve seen three companies in that spot in the 17 years we’ve been here.

          Understood on the chip companies; once a bunch left Silicon Valley, it was harder and more expensive for those remaining to get the support (equipment, supplies, personnel) they once had. Oregon had a bunch of fabs from Intel and Tektronix, and a tiny bit from HP, but I don’t know who’s left. Frequently, changing technologies means it’s easier to build a new fab from scratch rather than to try to shoehorn new equipment in an older facility.

          1. I stayed away from the chip company locally. The other that I see locally are the gaming software. Some other types too. They appear successful for awhile, then they are bought out, moved or more likely shutdown, putting dozens of programmers on the unemployment line. The other big one that seems to rotate through programmers is huge. But every 18 months or so they seem to need a new crop of programmers, or call center people (Norton). I applied to all of them (’02 – ’03 I was desperate). I was lucky I didn’t get a call. I don’t even play computer games. I can handle support calls, but at a call center? I’d have figured out a way to murder someone, or gone nuts. It is bad enough being on the calling end.

            ’04 ended up with a small firm, but a very specific slot that has very few competitor, none multi-state, and none as extensive. At first look it appears that much larger companies cover their area, they don’t. Quickly discovered when they have auditors there for weeks because the information wasn’t easily pulled, or kept to required detail, so paper records have to be pulled. Oops. Anytime federal or state auditors can arrive, get the reports they need, at the detail they need, & leave in one or two days, priceless. Two days if the Auditors are new & try to trip the system up. Little do the new auditors know. The system was designed with them in mind, with their colleagues help! Only problem? Software is only available in 4 states, & now the Federated Tribes. Rumor has it the new manager is expanding into other states. But first installation is requires extensive options. My sources are drying up now that I’ve been retired for 4 years. I am cheering them on.

  13. no government can know either what you’re capable of doing

    Nonsense. You are capable of doing what the government, in its infinite and enlightened wisdom, says you are capable of doing. Nothing more, nothing less.

    One thing you are definitely not capable of doing is questioning the government.

  14. Insty’s got a link up this morning about a bill in Virginia that would criminalize the more hyperbolic verbal and/or written criticisms of the government

    Remember – the lefties are trying to convince us that anything they call hate speech isn’t protected by the first amendment!

    1. As a living document, the Constitution says what they require it to say, or emanate. or penumbra – no more, no less.

    2. Bad mistake. They should have waited until the gun confiscation succeeded. I guess they got impatient.

  15. That the errors of the command economy were not just due to bad actors but due to an unworkable system came home to me in college when I took a class focused on the USSR. We studied how their economy worked. They used a giant spreadsheet to plan their economy on the most macro scale. A row for each necessary ingredient into something manufactured (coal, iron, grain, fertilizer, steel, etc.) and a column for each required output. You can see how a bureaucracy would fall in love with such a system.

    But…. In addition to the recursive nature of such a spreadsheet (some of the outputs were also inputs), a spreadsheet with 100 rows and 100 columns where every cell had to be just right was obviously totally unworkable. Only a math illiterate could believe otherwise.

    1. Recursive loops are a thing in software. But here is what most do not realize. Recursive only works if a single process call itself, and there is a definite exit, at some point. It can not, will not, work if the “recursive” is the process calling another process that call other processes that calls the recursive process. Program will fail with stack overflows. Every. Single. Time. Which is essentially what happens in a spreadsheet where multiple interdependent outputs are inputs into the same system.

    2. The book “Red Plenty” by Francis Spufford gives a really good (fictionalized) picture of how a command economy works out in real life.

      Data and specifications never exactly match reality, so suppose a factory has a machine that is supposed to spin a certain kind of thread at a certain yield, but the machine the factory actually has cannot do that, due to improper design that no one will admit to, well then the factory managers have to falsify their reports so that they don’t get punished for non-performance. Meanwhile, planners in multiple layers of hierarchy try to match up inputs and outputs, with waves of corrections and adjustments as the deadline gets closer. This of course works as well as could be expected when reports are incorrect. Then there are black market fixers who can provide supplies outside normal channels, for sufficient consideration. And on and on and on.

      But everybody thought it was such a great idea to plan everything and would be so efficient.

      1. One interesting tidbit is the fact that the KGB used it’s own spy satellites to try and figure out the USSR’s crop yields. Because the reported figures were worthless.

        1. Anwar Sadat did something similar during the Yom Kippur War. Except it was a giant radio receiver near the border with Israel. The Israelis had the notoriously bad habit of broadcasting unencrypted messages over the radio channels, and Sadat’s intelligence officers were able to use the intercepted messages to determine where the front lines really were instead of where the Egyptian army generals claimed they were.

          Worked great until the Israelis finally got down far enough on their list of targets to bomb the weird radio receiver.

          1. A lot of the Israeli war memoirs indicate that, since everybody used to know and be related to everybody else, or have worked with them, or lived next to them, or went to the same synagogue…

            …and since they had war mobilization plans that were practiced fairly often…

            ….operational security was keeping your mom’s friends from knowing where the battle was going to be, and what units were going to be there. And keeping them from commenting about it as they walked by.

      2. A Worker in a Workers’ State, by Miklos Haraszti (Original title: Piece Rates) describes his experience in a Hungarian tractor factory (circa 1970) under a rate system that forced workers to produce sub-standard parts in order to make enough to live. An interesting review published in International Socialism provides an excellent description of the book while managing to entirely miss the fact that in the Socialist State the absence of trade unions was a feature, not a bug (predicted by Orwell years before), nor that such willful blindness as the reviewer’s was inherent in the socialist system:

        Capitalism in Hungary
        From International Socialism (1st series), No.103, November 1977, pp.28-29.
        … A Worker in a Workers’ State is written by a young Hungarian poet, Miklos Haraszti, who received a commission to write about factory conditions and took a job in a tractor factory, working as a skilled man on milling machines.

        In spite of its title, and various references in the foreword by Heinrich Böll about Hungary as a Socialist country, the book screams aloud the absurdity of these descriptions. When reading it I often had to remind myself that it was not about 19th Century England, but Hungary in the early 1970s. The similarities with early British Capitalism appear throughout the book like daisies in a well neglected lawn. The low level of wages compels workers to accept absolutely inhuman conditions merely in order to earn enough to be able to eat. The absence, as yet, of any kind of independent trade union organisation leaves workers at the mercy of the piece work system designed to squeeze the utmost production from them. The description of official Union organisations tally with what we already know about some other E. European factories. Shop stewards are nominated by the head foreman. At best they are totally ineffective, at worst they are ‘our paid enemy’.

        ‘They would be the first to send for the police if there was a strike.’

        In Hungarian the book was entitled Piece Rates and that is indeed its main theme. The writing is brilliant, simple yet penetrating, describing the relationship between workers and bosses, workers and machines in every detail. The socialist viewpoint of the writer is implicit, nowhere does he theorise very much, yet the details build up to a powerful socialist indictment of Hungarian factories.

        Everything which characterises capitalist relations of production is there. The alienation of workers from the work they do – the diametric opposition of their interests and that of their bosses; the design of a system which compels workers not only to collaborate in their own exploitation, but to force the level of exploitation to ever increasing dizzy heights.

        ‘The idlest and most farfetched artist could never have imagined that he who creates all existing goods could work without complaint under a system of “incentive” pay which means that he has to surpass 100 per cent production in order to obtain, for himself and his family, just enough to live, so that he can start the next day all over again … But as soon as his productivity has reached a level which assures him acceptable living standards, his output is condemned as too high and he is sanctioned in the following way: the production which he has just achieved, although condemned, is nonetheless recorded. Henceforth he must reach the same output for less pay, which proves in turn to be insufficient for his daily needs.’

        … There is little in the book which analyses the ultimate reasons for the situation on the factory floor. The frictions arise out of workers relations with foreman, inspectors, rate fixers etc. Top management are too distant – like the king in feudal times – to be seen by workers as a possible variable of the system. Although Haraszti makes it clear that this is not his view, he does not take the question further.

  16. One thing I note again and again (particularly with younger types) is that they assume that prosperity is the default state of humanity. So because they are poor, the system is messed up, or it is the fault of the system. (Ah, those comments about “late stage capitalism.”) And Middle Ages peasants had more leisure time, don’tcha know.

    I keep not screaming at them that life has been a long struggle against nature trying to kill us, and that the default state is “root, hog, or die.” Civilization is what has enabled compassion and prosperity. Not indignation. Not envy. Not anger.

    1. Civilization’s success seems to be sowing its own failure. Most of the nature lovers I meet have never had rabbits and gophers eating their gardens, not to mention coyotes eating their beloved puppies and kittens. They seem to believe that elephants, wolves, gorillas, grizzlies, and mountain lions all live in zoos and when they go to the national forests they seem to still think some kind of invisible glass wall protects them from their beloved nature. Sad that scouting now seems to be all about sex instead of molding informed and moral human character.

      1. Some are rather more practical. Farmers and conservators love nature, but do not blush at its often brutal side. Best way to keep the coyotes and wild dogs from bothering the flock is cull the population by killing the females. And regular burns to cut the forest fire fuel are solid common sense. But to love nature and all its warts takes a more mature sense of things, which the Greenies by and large haven’t the least clue how to manage.

        1. A man buys an abandoned farmstead. He works hard for several years to make it a successful farm, when the local pastor comes by to visit. Looking around, the pastor says “It’s amazing what happens when God and man work together!”
          “That’s as may be,” says the farmer, “but you wouldn’t have wanted to see it when He was running it by Himself.”

      2. I’m reminded of a trip to Yellowstone years back. I was standing amongst the trees watching the bison about 75 yards off, keeping where the branches were lower thus climbable. Also watching the more “optimistic” tourists getting about 30 feet from them with more than 100 yards of open meadow from any safety. Never would have occurred to them that a two ton animal might get feisty

        1. Also called the candidates for Tourist Darwin awards. Bison/Buffalo, Deer, Elk, Bear, Fox, Eagles, Sheep, Goats, Snakes … well maybe not snakes … Pronghorn, Wolves. The Rangers don’t know how many they lose to the Thermals, unless it happens in front of someone (way to bet, but not guarantied). The thermals do not leave anything to recover … We’ve been to Yellowstone, a number of times. Not annually like some but more than once (going again September 2020). Stupid Tourists is a thing.

        2. I’ve read accounts where rangers have to explain that the wildlife is dangerous, and the tourist responds with “Then why isn’t it behind a fence?!? It can’t be dangerous if it’s not behind a fence.”

          IIRC in 2018-19, the bison in Grand Teton and Yellowstone accounted for around 10 tourists. Elk got at least one as well. (The last time I was in Yellowstone, I had to pray, lunge, and grab a post-toddler who went off the board walk in a paint pot area, aiming for the pretty colored mud. The parents [who were 50 feet away and not watching the child] couldn’t understand why I was pale and shaking.)

          1. We had our 14 month on a harness & leash. Anywhere else we’d have gotten grief. At Yellowstone. Not. A. Word. A few nods acknowledging our parental smarts.

            1. When ours was 14-months we liked to go visit local mountain state park and kept her on harness and leash to ensure she remained atop the mountain. Anybody expressing any opinioin other than support got asked by Beloved Spouse, “How’d you like to spend several hours with one arm up in the air, holding a parent’s hand?”

        3. The grizzlys also do a good job at weeding out stupid backpackers. One favorite were the two who decided to cook steaks and stood downwind in the smoke. Bear got them after they turned in. I suspect the Far Side “Burritos!” comic was inspired by that incident.

      3. I’m not sure what scout program you’re on about, or maybe you have different troops in your area. Ours is doing pretty well. (And FWIW, girl troops and boy troops are separate, though they can be paired under one organization and committee.)

        1. Probably looking at the Cub program. Boy & Girl Dens have to be separate, but they are in the same Pack. I don’t understand the Boys need something where Girls aren’t interfering. Cub Scouts sisters were considered “Tag Alongs”, it was family based. Girls couldn’t earn the awards. But they still participated. As you state, Scout level, they are different Troops. The only difference, is Girls can now earn Eagle.

          The smart way to go now for Girls? At least until someone catches on or the three merge. Enroll in Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, & Campfire. Same requirements can be the same activity. Similar requirements aren’t that different. Boy’s same with Boy Scouts & Campfire.

          1. Oh lordy. Wouldn’t that be a scheduling nightmare. (I am tentatively going to allow my daughter to do both Scouts if she desires by the time she gets to that age; I’m pretty sure that like most troops, her GS troop will disintegrate before too long.)

            1. *looks at charley foxtrot of local 4-H*

              Do you mean dis-integrate, like go back to slightly more sane, or disintegrate, like explode?

              I was pushing my kids to 4H but HARD. I sort of remember it being awesome, like 25-30 years ago.

              Then we went to the Halloween event at the library…. the Duchess, who is like golden model of Asperger’s Girl, was better at socializing with J Random Person than any of the kids who were there. Even those half again her age.

              All of a sudden it became much, much lower priority to try to get the kids socialized.

            2. Oh lordy. Wouldn’t that be a scheduling nightmare.

              Well yes. If you actually are involved in 3 different groups. Example I’m going off of is locally/regionally, before BSA recent change. One of the fastest growing scouting group was Venturing. Because Girl Scout Troops, 14 to 17, were, as a group, co-chartering as all girl Venture Crews. Gave them access to the High Adventure options, like Sea Base, etc. Some, not all, then would work on requirements for both Venturing as well as the Girl Scout awards. Same requirement for each side, same event. Don’t know if Campfire tailors as easily to BSA & GSA, it used to (*). But then GSA used to be way closer to BSA … still can be, just most groups, I’ve seen, have taken the outdoors , out of the Girl Scouts; they weren’t the groups co-joining Venturing (although there are non-camping/adventure options for Venturing). The only difference now is Girl Scout troops can now co-charter as Cubs/Scouting & Venturing, based on age. Earning GSA Gold, BSA Eagle, & Venturing Gold. Why not? Threw in Campfire … because again, same group, why not? (**)

              (*) I did Girl Scouts through 9th grade, before troop imploded/faded away. My sisters both were in Campfire. One lasted through middle school, Jr. Orchestra commitments. Other through grade school, swim team commitments. Since mom was a heavy Campfire volunteer, guess what Girl Scout got volunteered to “assist”.

              (**) Will admit, might be a bit hard on adult leadership/guides for ALL 3 …

    2. The old utopian vision holds that should people be given unlimited leisure time, they will devote themselves to artistic endeavors, self improvement and other enlightening task.

      But, just as people have to simulate a bit of hard labor on a daily basis (exercise) lest they break down physically, there also seems to be a need to have unpleasant task to do to stave off mental destruction.
      People with unlimited leisure time tend to get bored, and usually devote themselves to drugs, alcohol, and other destructive activities to alleviate the tedium.

      1. Without discipline, yes. Discipline comes from doing difficult and/or unpleasant things that you *don’t want to do*, over and over again, without the whip at your back. With it, one can manage their time effectively without going to rot. Without it, not much hope.

        Unlimited leisure time tends to get sharply curtailed when one sets themselves tasks that need doing, even if those tasks make no sense to others.

        1. Uh… if you look around, it’s a minority of humanity that does that. The majority is, rightly, programmed by evolution to “Stop hunting when you have enough to eat.”

          1. The % of humans who keep working when they don’t have to is about the same as the % who are willing to help out other people for little to no physical reward- danged low.

      2. and other destructive activities to alleviate the tedium.

        Which explains Twitter and trolling.

  17. some prankster in the back office of having said ‘Gads, she’s useless. Just put down dancer.’

    I have long suspected that the innate flaw in those standardized tests is that they measure not what people care about but what they think they care about. It seems implicit in the structure of the questions, questions which seem mostly on sorting you into boxes of people who share the same interests. “She checks a lt of the same boxes as people who become dancers/insurance agents/animal trainers so she’d probably fit in fine with that lot.”

    But life, as has been said, don’t work that way. First flaw is often when given a choice between two options, people think “Ewwww. I don’t like either one. Broccoli or Brussels sprouts? Fine, tich broccoli, it’s funnier to say, and move on.””

    The second flaw is that the test doesn’t account for uniformed choice. Many things in this world “Sound like fun” until you try doing them. What the tests cannot measure are the things which you think you could not stand but which, like the last pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, keep drawing you back under compulsion to do them anyway.

    There are more flaws, of course, but I’m tired of typing and never wanted to write anyway — I merely thought it might be fun to be a writer without knowing how much writing resembles pulling one’s own teeth.

  18. The big problem with any socialist scheme is that the people in charge of redistributing wealth skim a lot off the top. In overhead, perks, and bribes. Heinlein wrote that in his 1960 world tour, the greatest difference he saw in wealth was in India…and the Soviet Union. Where the “workers and peasants” lived in poverty, and the Party elite lived in luxurious dachas.

    1. Two competing problems. First is that any system of concentrated decision makers will be lacking enough information that they can’t do things let set the exactly correct food production goal and accurately reach it. Second is that concentrated decision makers as individuals have less information, and optimize their own choices to achieve other goals. This second is why bureaucracies are not massively more dysfunctional when trying to deal with the real world, and why socialist bureaucrats skim off overhead. If they didn’t, they would starve to death when everyone else was doing so. The second principle is why the accomplishments of an all controlling system will sooner or latter lack a critical bit of safety margin, and everything gets bad. ‘Good’ bureaucracies can be good because the bureaucracy controls so little that private sources of wealth can provide an adequate margin of security. When your personal security margin relies only on manipulating the bureaucracy, you manipulate the bureaucracy.

      The effect is the same, but perhaps we can model the mechanisms well enough to provide the theory that Confutus describes. (I think we can not model the mechanisms so well. One reason is that there is always a bigger fool. Second, I think modeling social systems may be doomed to failure, due to a mechanism that could also limit totalitarian control of society.)

      1. concentrated decision makers … optimize their own choices to achieve other goals.

        Centrally planned systems have no built in corrective tension between supply and demand, or more broadly between competing needs and abilities, as that would impede the decisions in the “plan”. Given that the only goal is meeting the plan, any optimizations that sacrifice personal goals for the plan implementers would be illogical, and conversely optimizing for personal goals within plan constraints would be the most logical choice, as long as the police function does not catch you.

        This is the tension that central planning system implements – enforcement tension vs. that “plan”.

        And of course this means the police need to be policed by the secret police, and everyone must watch and inform on everyone else in a great circle of surveillance (as the KGB guy says in Chernobyl) to protect the state, which the faith says is really the proletariate, but in reality is the Party.

        So what you get is a society by, for, of, and enforced by the Party, with upward and downward personal obligations and loyalties within the Party that ends up right back to a feudal system, with that plan being a massive fiction that everyone pretends to work to meet.

  19. I needed a GPS. I just didn’t even know they could exist.

    Microwave oven. I eschewed them for years and was quite proud of my growing skill with a wok. But time, knees and depression eliminated my interest in standing and carefully prepping ingredients, stir-frying and then laboriously scrubbing the wok for something about which I merely felt “Bleh.” I no longer like myself enough to wear myself out for so minor a pleasure as eating. The microwave knew what I would want long before I did: easy, portion controlled, no-fuss nutrients in disposable packaging.

    For that matter, I used to see no purpose for a home computer as I’d no interest in gaming. Now, of course, I can inflict bad jokes without changing out of my pajamas (although I always do, of course. One must maintain some standards.)

  20. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was much attention given to the creation of perpetual motion machines. The necessary properties of real and imaginary machines were studied, and it was determined that matter and energy simply do not behave in the ways that would make them possible. No one sufficiently educated in physics even tries anymore. At best, they try to make machines as efficient as possible.

    Unfortunately, it is not so well recognized that the socialist state, in which a benevolent government takes care of everyone, is just as fictional. Various versions have been tried. People and organizations simply do not behave in the ways that would make socialism work, This would be mathematically provable if “political science” were a real science.

  21. when they were having kitten fits over the righteous killing of Al Suleimani, did anyone think to answer with ‘Hey, government is the name for the things we choose to do together’? No? Pity. Someone should meme that.

    Might best make that a compilation meme. Include things like the Waco Inferno, Philadelphia’s firebombing of the MOVE Headquarters, the Chicago Police Riot in 1968 …

    1. I do. And I wasn’t having fits, just concerns that it was the right thing to do at the right time. Rather than the right thing to do at the politically convenient time.

    2. I recall that the person who dubbed the festivities in Chicago 1968 a “Police Riot” took that assessment into the governors mansion, after which he joined the procession of Illinois governors in prison.

      I was young and Downtown was a train ride away, but Dad and Mom didn’t raise fools. Larry Niven’s second law of riots (“Never stand next to the guy throwing shit at a cop.”) explains a good chunk of the head whacking. (Not all, it *was* Chicago, after all.) After 2008, I was reluctant to admit I was from there, though “from there” is far better than “still there”.

  22. don’t get me started on when they imagine that an AI might be the ticket to that. As an old pulp fan I weep. Weep, I tell you.

    Yep. I just finished listening to Jack Williamson’s “With Folded Hands” and think it would make a terrific movie. To Serve and Obey, and Guard Men from Harm — what could possibly go wrong?

    BTW: interesting background on the story

  23. kind of like if Santa limited his Christmas toy acquisition to the dollar store, and went for bulk.

    HAH! In your dreams, girl! Think Santa bought overstocked, slightly defective and remaindered stuff from Chinese factories.

    1. But of course, Santa delivers fine hand-made items for Christmas.

      I read that in Marion Harmon’s “A Christmas Carol” (set in the Wearing The Cape Universe). 😉

    2. From the comments at the provided link:
      … Jack Williamson was indeed very generous in paying it forward to aspiring writers. I would see him at least once a year when he came out for the Writers of the Future Awards event. While I didn’t get into politics with him — don’t do it with any of the judges actually — I do have one story with Jack that I would like to share. We were guests of a Shuttle Launch at Cape Kennedy. During the actual shuttle launch, all the judges and winners were at a set of bleachers a mile away somewhere in the swamps (signs said stay away from the edge of the river because of snakes and alligators). Jack was probably in his early 80s then and he was just like a little kid. Having written about space and rockets since the 1920s, he had never himself witnessed a rocket launch. Just watching him watching the launch almost made the whole experience worth it.

      1. WTF, WP? That was supposed to be in reply to my comment regarding Jack Williamson’s “With Folded Hands”!!!

        WP can GFI.

  24. no one wants to risk getting cut to stop some meth head from pooping on the sidewalk

    I saw a news item last night about San Francisco homeowners getting hit with … well, read it and weep because, of course they do:

    Homeowners billed $20,000 to clean up former homeless camp in California
    Homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area are furious at being charged $20,000 to clean up a former homeless camp in a Castro Valley ravine, KPIX reports.

    Alameda County charged a homeowners’ association for the cleanup costs after belatedly realizing it was on the HOA’s property, KTVU reported. Now the association is billing each homeowner $300 to cover the fee for cleaning up San Lorenzo Creek

    “There are no fences and such that would mark where the property line ended, so we were kind of hoping that it was someone else’s responsibility,” says Ed Walsh, owner of Walsh Property Management, which oversees the Lakewood Home Owners Association, KPIX reported.

    But residents argue they aren’t to blame for the firm and Alameda County not realizing the camp was on the association’s property for nearly two years and shouldn’t be stuck with the entire bill, KTVU reported

    “They should have known that this was our property, and they should have taken care of it a long time ago,” said resident Cece Adams, KPIX reported.

    Fellow homeowner Augie Bau says residents had no way of knowing what was going on in the heavily wooded ravine below their subdivision, KTVU reported. “And it’s not like it’s on our property and we could see somebody camping out here and we could do something, but it’s kind of out somewhere,” he said.

    The San Francisco Bay Area has the third highest population of homeless people in the United States, behind New York City and Los Angeles, with 28,200 people experiencing homelessness, the Bay Area Economic Institute reports.

    In January 2018, California as a whole had a homeless population of 129,972, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness reported.

    A “point in time” count conducted in 2018 found 552,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States, reports the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. They include families, veterans, young people and chronically homeless single adults.

    [Emphasis Added]

    1. > “There are no fences and such that would mark where the property line ended, so we were kind of hoping that it was someone else’s responsibility,” says Ed Walsh, owner of Walsh Property Management, which oversees the Lakewood Home Owners Association, KPIX reported.
      That would be “common property” of the HOA, and Walsh should know *exactly* there the borders are, because they’re responsible for anyone being injured on it, hazmat being dumped, “attractive nuisances”, homeless encampments, that sort of thing.

      Walsh Property Management dropped the ball big time, and now they’re trying a shuck-and-jive routine to try to pass the failure on to their clients. The Lakewood Home Owners Association, should be looking for legal representation, unless they signed some crazy yellow-dog contract… you never know, nowadays.

      1. Apparently a lot of people are told they are in HOAs, and are billed for being in HOAs, but their properties aren’t actually covered by the HOA boundaries.

        So yeah, a lot of HOAs really don’t want to know their own boundaries. Money must come in, not go out.

  25. The less offensive infractions will get severely punished, but the true crazies and bullies will be carefully ignored.

    cough. Rotherham, Manchester, Epstein …

    1. Saw a piece the other day talking about the British dropping the ball on the grooming gangs. IIRC, there were about a dozen different locations listed, including Rotherham and Telford.

  26. be they working class, or in the US various “victim” classes of interesting coloration, orientation, or simply in possession of a vagina

    cough. You left out: or simply thinking themselves in possession of a vagina …

  27. Or in the pink version, the doctors are overworked and get paid the same as school teachers, for years and years of training, and they don’t have access to the diagnostic equipment they need to figure out what you have.

    Pfft. They don’t need quite so much training, we can economize on that by establishing “Standards of Care” protocols which prescribe, based on various inputs which Doctors or even Physician Assistants or Nurses, can be trained to input and the algorithm will determine what are Best practices for those symptoms.

    The highly trained and experienced Physicians will be used only to treat those persons of great use to Society, such as Party Leaders.

    1. My dad’s an ultrasound tech at a teaching university. His observation is that all the doctor does is blindly follow the algorithm anyway. Requesting an image to check for deep vein thrombosis in a bedridden 91 year old who couldn’t survive any DVT treatment, or demanding an ultrasound to check for uterine cysts because that’s what you do for women with abdominal pain in that area — even if she’s had a hysterectomy. The checklist says do it, so they do it without the slightest thought.

      1. “The checklist says do it, so they do it without the slightest thought so that their malpractice insurer will continue covering them, or their medical licenses won’t be revoked for practicing non-standard medicine, or their license to prescribe won’t be revoked by the DEA or the state, or the patient’s insurance will cover it, or…..”

        Because we have a socialist legal system and government, those are the actual incentives, and have been for a while.

        1. Yep. More time, money, and effort are wasted on satisfying pointless regulations ginned up by bureaucrats without the slightest inkling of unintended consequences.

    2. Pilots.

      It doesn’t get mentioned much, but a professional pilot has to go through a lot of training, and is involved in a potentially hazardous occupation. And when our new pilot finally gets a job, not only will he have to spend a lot of time away from home, but he’ll probably be getting paid less than a bus driver.

  28. I hear that the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 yesterday that Trump could set policy denying green cards to likely welfare bums. How do we ask him to do the same thing with fraudulent refugees?, i.e. the ones who got in even though we weren’t the first foreign country they reached.

    (I also hear that some Islamic ministers say that the US dole is jizyah when given to Muslims. That sounds like ‘please revoke our green cards!’ to me.)


    1. Trump’s cracking down on enforcing the rules, as well as ignoring some of the reasons people give when applying for the status. He’s also now got Mexico holding people while their refugee status is evaluated, which has eliminated catch and release for people crossing that border.

  29. Related:

    ‘They wanted to believe in Khomeini’: Book shows how Iranian mullahs manipulated Western media and ‘secular left’ to win in 1979
    Ghattas, a longtime BBC journalist who is now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Institute, wrote Black Wave in an effort to explain “what happened to us?” That is, how did the “more vibrant” Middle East that older generations can still remember degenerate into the violence and chaos that she witnessed as a child born in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War? The tendency for Western media to project their own beliefs or preferences onto people who they don’t understand is one of the answers that emerges from her exploration of that large question.

    “The strategy was twofold: radical, reactionary messages for inside Iran, carefully curated words for Western ears,” she observes in the book, which was released Tuesday.

    Khomeini didn’t have the public relations savvy to execute that plan on his own. Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, a close ally who would emerge as the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran prior to his own exile, managed his public image carefully.

    “Banisadr translated (and sometimes purposely mistranslated), adding context and rounding the edges for sensitive western reporters,” Ghattas writes. “The resulting impression was that of an ascetic sage who had no interest in politics and would ‘spend the rest of his days in a seminary in Qom’ once his goals of removing the shah and returning to Iran had been achieved.”

    This image held great appeal among “France’s leftist intellectuals,” who nurtured their own charming self-image as a revolutionary force. …

    [Emphasis Added]

  30. because when I took it at seventeen I still tripped on my two feet while standing still

    To be fair, dancers are legendarily clumsy when they aren’t on stage.
    Something to do with being trained to never look at their feet (and the ground underneath them)

    *Whistling innocently*

  31. And off topic:

    The Wuhan coronavirus is officially 2019-nCov.

    On May 31 2017 DJT’s twit account twitted Covfefe.

    Coincidence, or garbled text warning from the future: You decide.

        1. From what I’ve been reading so far from various infectious disease sources (fingers crossed, knock on wood) the 2019-nCov virus is worse for those aged 50+ and progressively more fatal as age increases, getting really bad for those 70+. There have been a few rumors out of China that mortality is changing and spiking up for lower ages, but nothing has yet been confirmed. There are lots of working age folks outside the Middle Kingdom that are confirmed to have had it that have since recovered.

          But practical precautions like limiting exposure are just common sense.

          And if you have any relatives that work in health care, it might be best to do some tactical distancing for a bit.

          1. Just to be clear – the mortality adta I saw (but can’t now find) does ramp at 50+ on up to 70s and 80s, but it’s not that high even there – it’s just worse for those age brackets vs. the lower ones.

            1. adta => data. Apparently spellcheck is attempting to unionize and is taking selective job actions…

          2. Fortunately, I don’t have any relatives that are even in the same STATE as I am. And the rest aren’t even in the same country. (Barring, of course, the extended blood relations that I haven’t met living in Australia. I was told I have some third cousins here somewhere.)

            The worries I have are a bit twofold: heat wave temperatures, and the babies being vulnerable to illness. ;_;

  32. Unless you have a lot of power in socialist/communist regimes, there’s a narrow range of “usefulness” of people in these regimes-about fifteen/sixteen to forty-five years old-when they can get the maximum physical labor, number of babies, and such out of you. Until you hit the useful age, you’re just a potential future asset. And, if you were to drop dead quietly when you hit 50 years old, it would be perfect…

    1. I always had the impression that if you weren’t particularly gifted, higher education was trade school – and being assigned to the task you were expected to work in later. I’ll note though that this was just an impression of mine, from how my babysitters’ oldest sister worked in a gummi bear / candy factory, while one of her younger sisters was going to university (back when we lived in East Berlin) and this sister was well read and educated enough to spend time arguing with my Dad about philosophy and well, Marxism.

      1. Doesn’t surprise me in the least. The socialists and Communists want to make the world into a peg board of perfect square, round, oval, triangular pegs…and be the one to arrange the order.

        How very Platonic of them.

  33. Socialist states always start like that. They indulge everyone they are afraid of. This is partly because socialism/communist amid the educated classes is at least a little rooted on the very strange idea that communist revolution is inevitable and also that everyone who is civilized somehow is guilty of offending/mistreating the uncivilized. Which means they feel guilty and scared of anyone who acts feral or aggressive enough.

    – (I have tried to insert a blank line here with HTML directives several times. So far, none have worked.)

    And they can’t figure out that rewarding and reinforcing such behavior has effects.

    “We just spent a fortune on The Homeless — why are there more of them?”
    Mollari: “Perhaps it was something I said?”
    G’Kar: “Perhaps it is everything you say.”

  34. In full on communism, this is when they start killing the wreckers and the hoarders in batch lots, and suddenly you find that you too are a wrecker and a hoarder, even though the “wrecking” is that you failed to guess the job they wanted you to do before they told you, and the hoarding is that you have an extra piece of stale bread.
    For the pink socialist, still trying to pretend we’re nice because though we have the ballot box sewn up with fraud, who knows, the populace might get frisky and give us trouble, it comes in the form of rationed health care, of take two aspirin and go home to die, no we won’t give you a CT scan, of your baby isn’t perfect, so we’re going to let him/her die humanely, rather than give him/her a simple surgery that might allow him to live.

    Because you see, when you get to that point, human beings are ALWAYS in the debt column. They aren’t making enough, they aren’t creating new things, and it can’t be your fault, because you’re giving the ungrateful little bastards houses and food and clothes and EVERYTHING. And why aren’t they happy? It can’t be your fault.

    If you were of rank or good standing, or very useful in society/the Party, you could have a certain amount of ‘extra property/supplies.’

    Remembering all that though, that I’m grateful that my mom was a diplomat’s wife, or my youngest brother would not have survived without being in the best equipped hospital in East Berlin. And that German doctor spent a lot of time talking to Mom, because he wanted to practice his conversational English with a native English speaker (and was very observant.)

    It’s still sobering to think about.

  35. If the ‘new’ communists really have figured out how to do communism ‘right’ this time, We Really Mean It, No Foolin’, We’re Way Smarter Than All Those Other Guys — why don’t they prove it by fixing some of those failed communist states they’ve left strewn about like economic roadkill? That would be an impressive demonstration.
    Under Capitalism, man exploits man.
    Under Communism, it’s the other way around.

  36. “Which is why for their own good we must — must — make sure they never get the power they want so much.” I’m often reminded of those videos from the Democratic Socialist meeting showing all the uber snowflakes being triggered by loud noises, pronouns and other minutia. How could these idiots believe that they could successfully manage a $19.39 trillion dollar economy. They’d roll up into balls and cry (softly) in the first 30 minutes.

    Then again, they probably wouldn’t last that long. The inevitable ruthless leader and his cadre would immediately round them up and have the shot in the nearest courtyard. And os would begin the long journey to hell.

  38. Vedic astronomical observations, astrology, and astroscience are almost entirely accurate. The fudge factor centers around a few mysteries and points, such as free will.

    The most common argument in the matrix mainstream is that astrology is inaccurate. That is true, in so far as it applies to Western astrology, which is not based upon astronomical observations, as the constellations are almost 27 degrees different or off.

    The second most common counter argument from STEM folks is that stars are light years away and thus they cannot affect us energetically or psionically. They were not educated with textbooks including things such as quantum levitation, star in a jar somnolumniscence, or how space is not a vacuum (electric, super fluid, other models aggregate here).

    These assumptions are core to several fields in science dogma. It’s much like Marxism when it assumes that the Ideal is beautiful and one only needs to try enough times to get it done, even if Mao, Stalin, and everybody else made a mess of things. That is a point, but it is not a point that is livable or tolerable in this world.

    Scientific dogmas are tolerable and livable, because it increasingly improves the quality of living of people. Which is why people vote for socialism, because it improves their quality of living, even if temporarily. That is why slaves sometimes refuse to be freed. Because they vote to be slaves as slavery is preferable to the dangers of freedom. These prejudices or assumptions or judgments are mental traps as a result of human cognition which developed via tradition, genetics, and nurture via human cultures and corruptions. It’s not about any particular field of science or particular cultural dogma or belief. Everything is implicated. As this reality itself is a Matrix/Simulation, it is thus not real. It is as Plato once constructed, merely the shadows on the wall.

    Vedic mathematical calculations determine the past/present/future of all human incarnated beings, for 120 years maximum. This mathematical system doesn’t is centered on first breath birth time accuracy and astronomical calculations, although the fate calculations sometimes go to before you are born (pre mortal existence) or after your body expires (post mortal after life).

    1. Addendum: I like to think of this system as a designed role playing system called Earth. It is an online, multiplayer, and single player, role playing game. In order to create an account to play on this Earth server, you must give up or lose all your progress from any other source, including your player’s own memories. Thus when incarnated or spawned in the System of Maya/Matrix, you are given parents (or choose parents in the creation), and thus you live a life that you believe is random and meaningless or just an open sandbox in which you have to figure things out.

      This online rpg is both server side and client side, in terms of manipulating reality. Meaning, the GM can change the world state, but the clients can also affect the world state in tandem with the server and thus co-creates content to be shared with everyone, much as Youtube and Facebook uses user content to promote itself.

      As for why this affects Hoyt’s post about talents and abilities and needs, that is because all of the previous are pre calculated or at least pre planned, before life begins on Earth. Not everything goes according to plan, but the general trend of your life has already been set for you. You are there only to experience it, much as game creators write quests and dialogue for the user to experience. You are not allowed to deviate past a certain point. As the content has not been written for you yet. This is reflected in how users, or humans, can sometimes live a golden life via the Holy Spirit and feel everything is right, after everything goes wrong. The multiverse has a in built quest guide. If things are getting difficult, it is because you have wandered into an area you aren’t supposed to be at yet. And if you try to do certain things over and over, like abusive relationships, you will get more of it, you will get trapped, and that is a hint that maybe you should change yourself. People attract the negative things that they fear and have rejected. This is a bottleneck in progress that the SYstem attempts to resolve by continually throwing certain challenges at you. It is not because Earth or Humanity or God hates you, but because you are required to pass the test a certain way before the old tests stop.

      Appearance, manifestation of talents, strengths, intelligence, personality, almost everything is set by the system, which is generally meaning it is set by you, the player. You just forgot about it all, as that is the contractual obligation you agreed to, in order to use Earth for your own purposes. Some of you are just daredevils and want to try Ultra Iron Man hard mode…

      1. I believe this (and its preceding comment) attains a standard of irrelevancy not seen at A2H since the long-ago days when [REDACTED] was promoting the health benefits of smoothie cleanses in the middle of a discussion of requirements of log-distance space exploration.

      2. Uh. and further down the path to total insanity than I thought.
        To clarify: EVEN if predestination exists, it would immoral and evil to believe in it.
        So, whatevs.

        1. You misunderstand. This is not predestination. It is pre mortal planning, and not by any higher authority than you yourself. Predestination, in the Calvinist tradition, means that everything that happens in life is because of some higher authority and is not a consequence of anybody’s free will.

          This is precisely the inverted scenario, where everyone’s free will manifests so strongly that it affects everything, but in a way that people misunderstand because they believe the shadows on Plato’s walls are the Real Thing. It was never the Real Thing, just the shadow cast by the Ideal object of spirit.

          Uh. and further down the path to total insanity than I thought.

          I am sure many people think the same about your writing, Sarah, merely because they don’t understand it or don’t want to understand it. This is a psychological issue, not an issue about whether someone agrees or disagrees, nor does it matter whether they understand it. There are topics that people can understand but refuse to.

          Total insanity is encountering the truth and instead of using reason or facts to argue against it or to point out what is true or not, but merely to label it what the ego self feels is comfortable. In other words, the Spirit is sane but the world is insane. As we have grown up in the world, we have taken up many elements of this world without realizing it.

          1. I am sure many people think the same about your writing, Sarah, merely because they don’t understand it or don’t want to understand it.

            Dude, spending huge amounts of text to say little or nothing beyond “I think so,” then passive-aggressing at people for not agreeing with your extraordinary claims, is really not persuasive.

    2. Vedic astronomical observations, astrology, and astroscience are almost entirely accurate. The fudge factor centers around a few mysteries and points, such as free will.


      That would require a rather lot of support, from defining terms to figuring out how to avoid tainting the data.

      1. 4000+ plus years of data gathered on people’s birth times, fate, careers, relationships, personality strengths, and weaknesses, from India. But if you prefer more modern data, look up the Vedic astrology charts of various politicians and actresses, although you would probably need a Vedic astrologer to interpret it so you would need to gather research on many astrological interpretations to form your scientific core of data before forming a hypothesis.

        Most people only start believing the data is accurate when their own chart is analyzed and read, because things start popping up that only the NSA might know about. But that’s anecdotal rather than scientific.

        If a poll is accurate within 1 to 5% for a sample data of 1000-5000 people, Foxfier, then what is the supposed data tainting for a sample size a degree of order greater than that, 9500 people and their charts as well as their full life history?

        1. Depending on how precise the predictions are, you can make them fit almost anything.
          There is an actual field of science– though it’s psychology– built on that.

          Which is why I asked for actual evidence, specific definitions, and other support. I grow tired of having to build both sides of an argument when someone else makes an assertion.

  39. The part about the aptitude test and dancers and the government testing everyone for the potential made me think of the bit in Monty Python:
    “How do you know she’s a witch?”

    Good article, thanks for writing.

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