When Psychosis Took Over The Culture

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What seems like centuries ago, and was in fact in the last century, after the fall of the USSR, I watched as the wheels came off Science Fiction short stories, in a sort of mini-fit-of-insanity.

I kept bouncing between being horrified and being amused, all of it worsened by my being pregnant/nursing/raising toddlers which, for those who have never experienced such a state is its own form of altered reality.

So, what happened from my POV was this — note that things might be different from how you remember it, due to how I experienced things.  This is not to say (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT) that reality was different for me, only that I experienced things in a different sequence due to spending some of the time in another country, and coming back and experiencing as new things that had gone on here for a while —

When I fell in love with SF/F in Portugal there were no magazines available in the language, and the books were available in jumbled ways.  This is because Portuguese publishers always published things in such tight batches that — like now — older releases (particularly) by popular authors disappeared. Unless you could find them in used bookstores, in forgotten tobaconnists in tiny villages you were passing through (how I found Glory Road) and/or in the back of your friend’s grandfather’s closet, while helping people clear the house.

This means that not only didn’t I have a clear view (still don’t except very vaguely) of trends/currents in sf/f, but I came it all at once, from pulp to new wave, and read it all uncritically and without knowing which was more recent. (What this did to my science education and my understanding of world history is something different. You should have seen my teacher when she realized I thought WWIII (nuclear) HAD happened “about fifty years ago.”)

But I HEARD of science fiction magazines.  And though this wasn’t my plan, exactly, on coming to the US and finding the little town in Ohio where I was an exchange student had an entire shelf of Sf/F, that I could buy Heinlein books I never heard of at the local(ish) Waldens, and that ZOMG Analog still existed and published every month, I immediately subscribed to Analog, Asimov’s and possibly others (look, it was 40 years ago and I’ve been busy.)

My months became determined by when those arrived in the mail. I.e. I’d grab the magazine from the mailbox and lose the next day as I read it cover to cover, which means I learned to do my homework early/late so that I could work around it.

A lot of the stories I read in those magazines were of the “the Soviets win the war/we destroy the Earth” nuclear war variety, and then we have to live/survive.

It didn’t strike me as wrong, precisely. I mean, we were “all waiting for the hammer to fall” right? I was a little upset there weren’t a ton of space operas and colonization stories, simply because I had enjoyed those, but not enough to be really upset.  Just a “oh, I wish.”

At the end of the year I went back and after an epic bureaucratic battle with the college system in Portugal (they really aren’t set up for stepping out of the system for a year) I went to college, and taught part time, and developed a social life.  So, things got rather busy.

Four years and a bit later, when I got married and came back to the US, I again subscribed to SF Mags, and at the time got irritated that all of the stories had a slant of “the west loses out”.

Okay this isn’t true and is a gross simplification, but I found myself little by little not reading those very expensive magazines, because they all seemed to me to paint a picture of the future amounting to “the future is worse than the present. Also rusty.”

There were still stories I liked, but not enough for me to remember this much later.  (Though some of the authors stuck and I found their novels later.)

Over the next six years and fertility treatments (talk of hormonal insanity) I popped in and out of reading sf/f as the spirit moved.  Some friends recommended epic fantasy series, but this was never precisely my thing, and I also found a lot of books I didn’t know were decades old and enjoyed those, while at the same time also reading a lot of mystery.  Oh, and history. And– whatever.

But I remember the years after the USSR fell, because I had a kid that year, and another 3 years and change later, and we moved to Colorado, I joined my first writers’ group and subscribed to Writer’s magazine and Writers’ Digest.

These events are tied together because getting pregnant meant deciding not to work outside the home, moving to Colorado destroyed my nascent translation business (look, here’s the thing, pre-internet it was local contacts, which I was JUST forming) and anyway, I HATED translation (don’t ask. I don’t actually hate the work. I just hated doing the work necessary to establish as a freelancer.  And it wasn’t QUITE my thing.  I like puzzles, I just don’t LIVE to solve them. I’d met other translators and become aware I was an odd one for the profession.) and my husband had said “Well, you always wanted to write for a living, so why don’t you try it while the kids are little?” (It SEEMED like a good idea at the time.)

We won’t go into how green I was. Very. Let’s say that.  So the ideas that you should a) first break into short stories seemed logical (it wasn’t) b) buy magazines to figure out what they published was mind-blowing (because I’d been raised with the idea of the genius around whom the world conforms. S, if I were good enough, I’d be published, no matter what the publisher wanted.)

So somewhere, while pregnant with #2 son I re-discovered sf/f magazines.  (We’d also just popped out of a phase where we could barely afford to eat, and finally had money for mags.)

And–

Dear Lord, what was I reading?

What I was reading was the same stories I’d read as an exchange student, now with a very thin veneer to explain why the nuclear war had happened and the USSR had won.

I remember being somewhere between horrified and amused.

It all culminated in a short story called The West Is Red, which was very well written and I THINK (I can’t be assed to look, actually) won all sorts of awards, and whose central conceit was that economics in a parallel world worked differently and therefore the Soviet model worked better.

I read the story — it was well written — and then sat there, mouth half open, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

And decided the field had suffered a psychotic break.

Look, economics COULDN’T work differently, because economics, while a science, is a science influenced by a bunch of other sciences and the reality we live in.

While I can see that SF/F does that a lot, and have done it myself, with say alternate history, because history is too complex to say “if this didn’t happen that that would.” (There are always a million factors, some of which we don’t even know.) So we write high-level and ignore the details and dance really fast before they see what we’re dancing in front of….

Positing that top-down planned economies would be superior in another universe demanded…. a lot of things, starting with a species so different from humans that we wouldn’t understand them period. It also demanded different arithmetic and mathematics, all of which (behavior and math) are parts of economics that cannot be changed without changing the very fabric of the universe to such an extent you couldn’t have A story, let alone that story.

But I understood why the story appealed, and why it had become popular (besides being well written.)

I had at around that time come across something that said that after 45 people don’t change their fundamental view of the world, and I understood that was the problem.  You see, the generation before mine, the boomers who were then in charge of cultural institutions and academic institutions had grown up not just convinced that the USSR was superior, their economy better than ours, but that they WOULD WIN.

This was true on both sides of the isle, which is why eve republican presidents tinkered with price controls and regulations, but didn’t change the system. One way or another, planned economies won out in the end, right? The future had less freedom. The USSR won. It was all a matter of how we got there.

And then Reagan. Reagan and his crazy ideas, which if you remember, couldn’t work.  But did. And the USSR fell. And we found what a hollow, sad thing it had been, because PLANNED ECONOMIES and central control don’t and can’t work.

Only the people who’d bet their lives on it, the cultural vanguard of the generation that made “come the revolution” a saying couldn’t change. They were too old and had bet their entire lives on this believe system.

So instead of changing they found various excuses for why reality was wrong, history was wrong, and they were still going to win.

That short story, now that I look back, is perfectly emblematic of that psychotic break, that primal scream of irrationality.

They took the fight to watermelon “ecology”and bizarre implementations of language controls which were supposed to become thought controls.  They came up with the idea of making Marxism apply “of course, not to macro society and economics, but to specific fields” and applying Marxist analysis to literature and art and all sorts of crazy things.

And they raised their kids, the echo boom, that way.

In many ways, locked in their primal “but it can’t be true” scream, they started an attack on reality itself. And taught their kids that reality was optional.

Of course it’s not.  Which is why every field they controlled then is now in a state of total collapse, or being replaced.

But they haven’t given up because they — and the kids they raised to be quite literally reality-denying-psychotics — can’t give up.  To give up is to admit their view of the world was wrong. They can’t do that. And their kids couldn’t find reality with two hands and a seeing eye dog, because they’ve been told it doesn’t exist, and if it did, it would be oppressive.

Which is why we find ourselves facing people who tell us that math is oppressive and colonialist.

And also attempting to institute a system of apartheid and racial castes under the impression these are civil rights.

None of it makes sense, unless you realize that the “luminaries” of “intellectual” life might as well be locked in a padded cell screaming in a non-existent language at the oppression of reality.

The entire insanity that is 2020 was foretold by the fact that the science fiction establishment saw nothing wrong in positing that economics could work differently in another universe, so that they could have been right all along.

They’re not the majority.  They still, largely, have control of the “official” culture, though frankly they’re so bloody incompetent that we’re starting to do things under/over/around that actually count for more.

They’re also not really effective, in any way.

But they have enough power to give everyone the impression the universe is coming apart at the seams.

It’s not of course. THEIR universe is coming apart at the seams, because it was never the real world, but a construct of pseudo-intellectual-superiority, unearned smirking and USSR agit-prop.

Reality is that which doesn’t go away no matter how much you wish it to or scream at it, or denounce it as evilracistpatriarchaloppressive!

Which is why in the end we win, they lose.

But dear Lord, the screams and the literal poo-flinging is getting irritating.

388 thoughts on “When Psychosis Took Over The Culture

  1. You should have seen my teacher when she realized I thought WWIII (nuclear) HAD happened “about fifty years ago.”)

    That is an… interesting… perspective.

  2. The Fascist Left has suffered from a long series of shocks, starting (at the latest) with the end of WWII.

    Item: WWI ends, and The State has a lot of authority garnered ‘for the duration of the emergency’. The Left is all ready to implement its vision of a Planned Society along Bauhaus Lines. The American Working Class wants nothing to do with it.

    Item: Nikita Khrushchev distances himself from Uncle Joe ‘the friendly bear’ Stalin. Stalin’s monstrosity starts being revealed.

    Item: Following the collapse of the Old Guard Democrat Party (no bunch of princes), the Left rigs the nomination process and confidently runs McGovern for President. The nation wants nothing to do with him.

    Item: 1974; THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO is published in English and can no longer be ignored.

    Item: Ronald Reagan gets elected. Twice. All the Left’s temper tantrums (minor compared to today, but still) don’t make him unpopular.

    Item: 1989; The Berlin Wall comes down. The USSR collapses over the next couple of years.

    Item: In spite of all Media prestige, Dan Rather’s hit piece on Bush comes undone in days.

    Item: A massive effort to elect Al Gore, including some of the most blatant vote fraud in recent memory, fails.

    Item: In spite of Leftist Doomsaying, the ‘fourth largest military in the world’ is defeated by the he US military in a matter of weeks.

    Item: In spite of massive Leftist opposition, Brexit wins.

    Item: Trump is elected.

    Each of these shocks (and others that will occur to the students of history) pushed the Left a little more off kilter.

    The collapse of the USSR was probably the biggest, but the others contributed a lot.

    1. So help me, all that needed was the old intro and I’d hear it in Walter Winchell’s voice.

      “Good Evening Mister and Misses America And All The Ships At Sea…FLASH..”

    2. Their behaviour reminds me ever so much of the manual dexterity test from No Time For Sergeants.

      “But he did do it completely wrong.”

    3. I’d add one more to the beginning:

      Item: WWI breaks out, and the “working classes” are drafted into the army of the various nations. According the the Marxists, they should have turned their guns on their officers and run across the trenches to embrace their fellow proletariat on the other side. Instead, it turned out that the British worker was still British, the Italian worker was still Italian, the German worker still German, and they had no interest in betraying their country for some abstract class. Even in Russia, where the revolution did come, they saw it as less “workers vs. capitalists” than they did “Russian people vs. the puppets of that German woman.”

      The various contortions of Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc. have all been an attempt to deal with the fact that they’re trying to organize the revolt of the international working class…and there is no such thing as an international working class.

      1. That is the real break. Mussolini, Gramschi, Lenin, Mao, and Pol Pot all exist as attempts to answer why Marx was wrong there. As do Black Lives Matter and “White Fragility” and “The Feminine Mystique”. No, I didn’t include Hitler and Stalin. The former was influenced by Mussolini, but included a lot of non-socialist ideas. The latter is just the nastiest tyrant imagined by the Greeks turned up to 11.

        But every failure of socialism post Christmas 1914 (I posit the real test of Marx was not the start of the war, but the unofficial western front Christmas ceasefire not leading to solidarity…eastern front was irrelevant as outside of German the nations were advanced enough to evolve from Capitalism to Socialism) is just a footnote to that failure.

      2. Ah, but there exist real tribes. And if you tilt your head sideways and squint it’s almost real races (because culture determines who you marry / mate and have kids with.)

        And it really does work to set one tribe up against another, or better yet, pick one tribe to be the scapegoat that the assorted aristos can blame when their own failings get too obvious. Hence all the i-phone’d socialists with designer clothing and thousands of dollars of tattoo art. They call it Marxism, but it’s a intellectual -sounding fraud to excuse the pretend crusades against a pretend enemy.

        Though of course, almost anyone can be slotted into the tribal enemy category (remember Requires Hate?) as needed. Which is really scary.

        And that doesn’t get into the folks who’ve made reason itself a crime against humanity. Because it can be opposed to narratives and “lived experience” and ontological sin-natures based on your place in the categories of oppression. It’s a shared solipsistic vision. Marxism would be a step up. That’s why Jordan Peterson can appeal to those who’ve gotten sucked into the Hive mind, despite being a materialist magician. He’s got one foot in their world.

        1. Tribes REALLY aren’t racial. Certainly not in the sense the Wokies divide races.
          And culture…. My brother would be perfectly at home in TVIW (it’s his dream to come for it, and he might have been able to do it next time, if there’s no weird lockdown shit) and an alien in normal American life.
          Dan and I joke we married across culture barriers. We were both geeks, but I was books, he was movies.
          It’s more true than you think. It’s where we met and built our relationship: geekdom, strange ideas, mathematics and philosophy.
          The very real cultural differences of our upbringing still catch us unawares sometimes. But we have one area we’re the same culture.
          MEANWHILE the “race” differences mean bullshit. I found pictures of myself 20 years ago. They’re in black and white, I have a perm, I look BLACK. Not even a question. By US radar, I ping “black.”
          23 and me says 10%, but of course, it ignores the deep racially mixed roots of Portugal. I bet I have a lot from ancestors who were Roman citizens and coal black.
          When we got married it never occurred to me I was anything but “white.”
          Latin, sure, but that’s a sub-culture. Husband is celtic anglo-saxon (I am too. Almost half according to 23 and me. Thank the young men Mr. Wellington commanded.)
          Race?
          And yet both wokies and racists think I’m another race. So do my parents, for whom race equals country.
          So, race is bullshit. Culture does matter, but culture isn’t even country-monolithic, much less race-monolithic.

          1. Yeah. U.S. radar on what pings as black is cuckoo. And ditto on the race thing.

            But you get tribes defined by nation and culture the which controls out-breeding so you get something that *looks like* race.

            It’s the tiny little truth used to justify the false. Which has come full circle and is now the idea that Race is a Social Constructed. (true) and this there are no biological differences between people. And no, they have not thought that one through (I fear, because they need not).

            I’m going to start calling myself “a person experiencing whiteness” or “–Latina-ness” depending. Or possibly even “blackness” or “Native American-ness”. Based on SocJus definitions…

            1. There are marked biological differences between sexes. Not so much between races. As in, it’s difficult to establish what the race is by biology alone. Humans are randy and sleep around a lot.

              1. *chuckles* There are several identical twins who are “different races” if you do a check– the UK alone averages at least one a year, one of the couples is a pair of really pretty young ladies.

                Genetically identical.

                Humans are AWESOME!

                1. Oh, under the whole “subculture” thing, our sons have a dismissive/affectionate way of calling either of us “Geeeeeek!” when we’re going on about our passions.
                  The way they say it means “It’s annoying and cute, and I completely get it, but really mom/dad.” 😀

              2. *Looks at Japan.* *Looks at Finland* There is very little genetic going on there? Race is a set with blurry borders (like coyote and wolves, or the different races of sparrows) but it’s real. It’s just not as important as culture. Culture will shape your genes much, much, more than the reverse.

                Anywho, the point is that the gas-lighting about everything is insane. Race shouldn’t be either massive taboo or play-pretend Ignore Your Lying Eyes. Ideally it’d be like red-hair and the Irish race. Interesting. Sometimes relevant. Mostly not.

                More interesting is what the fight is supposed to distract us from. This:
                https://newdiscourses.com/2020/07/woke-wont-debate-you-heres-why/

                As I wrote earlier, actual Marxism would be a step up, God help us.

                    1. Er? Seriously. No.
                      I have friends in both. The lack of variance exists ONLY in people’s heads.
                      Finns have a ton and varying ton of Asian vs. European.
                      And Japanese? I was shocked at how much European genetics many of them have.
                      Write on your mirror so you see it every morning:HUMANS ARE ALL HYBRIDS. Because humans are randy apes.

                    2. Yes we’re hybrids. Yes we’re randy. No we’re not apes.

                      Sorry to waste so much of your time with this. I just can’t not see the obvious genetic patterns. I don’t know why their existence is such a source of distress or why we have to either force people to change them or not change them depending on which bugaboo you’ve got. Only the U.S.A.ian taboo on having contempt for black people makes any sense at all.

                    3. I think you two may be talking past each other.

                      You are correct, in that, for humans, those are two extremely homogenous genetic examples. An out-crossing will almost always result in something like hybrid vigor and almost never in hybrid breakdown. They can tell, say, someone who is part Korean from someone who isn’t, much less from a group much more distantly related.

                      She is correct, in that, compared to domestic animals, they’re not even in the “sixty years of buying any auctioned beef cattle that are cheap and leaving them to randomly mix” level of genetic similarity.

                      You’d still be much better able to predict the specific/detail outcome of an in-herd mix of the cattle than an in-herd mix of the Japanese; for a fairly simple example, the kid who looks like his (great) grandfather, even though nobody between them does.
                      (Common-ish trope in anime to explain somebody who looks like he’s from a different province.) Tall vs short is fairly certain, but not entirely, and not always based on diet, either.

                    4. My son looks more like my dad and his brothers (who all looked very different to me as a kid, but in pictures look like fricken twins) than like me or his dad. But that’s not even it. It’s that Japanese, for instance, can and ARE born with curly hair, or light colored eyes, because there was an outcrossing LONG ago.
                      And the Finns are more mixed than any of you thinks. Ask Kirsi. Seriously. Half of them don’t even look the same RACE as the others.
                      But to really get why “race” makes no sense as a concept you have to look at the Cape Verdians, where you get blonds, and dark black in the same family.
                      The US is approaching that, actually.
                      Not the dark black, but guys, I’M NOT JOKING looking at my OWN Picture from when I was thirty (and had a perm) American eyes identify “her” as black. Not even a question.
                      Because the differences we use to determine “American black” are very, very small and subtle.
                      We’ve become sensitized to race to a ridiculous degree.
                      Except for recent immigrants ANY American black is caucasian. PERIOD.
                      Reverend Wright looked like he could be the brother of mom’s cousin, who would have been very shocked if anyone told her she was black.
                      Do we have black ancestors. Sure. Almost any European does. But the total doesn’t justify the looks.
                      Again, when American racists (mostly on the left, but there are the crazies on the right) go on about the racial characteristics of American blacks it’s laughable.
                      The way they were raised, sure. The fact that welfare distorts culture (but not genetics. Takes much longer to do that, and we haven’t had thousands of years) sure. BUT race? Give me a fucking break. Most of those people are basic American mutt.

                    5. *grins* I LOVE experimental genetics!

                      *points at kids* We have a honey blonde, a strawberry blonde (heavy on the strawberry), a medium brunet, a dark brown, a white blond and one that is either going to be a washed-out red-head or a light auburn. All but two have blue eyes, the youngest may still end up blue or may go green.

                      Elf and I both have brown hair somewhere between the brunets, although I do have red highlights and use to be lighter. He’s got blue eyes, I’ve got swamp-mud hazel.

                      ***********

                      I’m one of those folks who spends half of Black History Month going “huh, I didn’t know she considered herself black.” The cultural markers for ladies isn’t as obvious as for men, although I suppose I could study fashion enough to notice it. Don’t.
                      Mostly because I don’t agree that it’s important, although I’ll smile politely when folks gush about it. Same as my uncle’s Ireland obsession, or the Italian stuff, or whtever else their fashion is supposed to tell me about them as a person. (Although if you’ve got a “welcome to our house: roll for initiative!” sign, I’ll probably enthuse at you. 😀 )

                    6. Thank the Princess– she toddled up to the lagoon at one of the zoos and informed me that I needed to look, it was so pretty, “just like your eyes!”

                      Once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it.

                    7. That’s both funny and adorable.

                      I think I have swamp hazel, too. Medium greeny brown, except there’s a sort of dark blue-grey rim that probably contributes to the whole thing picking up reflected colors like crazy.

                      I kind of want ink that color. Where depending on the light you’re like “Well… I’m pretty sure that’s a color.”

          2. What’s really funny is when they gush about how they support ‘African-Americans’ — to somebody who’s Maori, or Tongan.

      3. And so what frightens and upsets the European elite? The rise of “nationalism,” in places like Hungary.

    4. Brexit won *twice*.

      The Left made lots of excuses after the official Brexit vote about why they lost, claiming various reasons why a silent majority who supposedly supported Remaining didn’t turn out to vote.

      The election that made Johnson PM was essentially a referendum on Brexit. And when the Tories won and he became PM, it pretty much invalidated all of the Left’s arguments about why they lost.

      1. One reporter recounted that his taxi driver had voted “Remain” but was voting Conservative to show them that they couldn’t just junk a binding referendum.

        1. I said at the time, the vote for Boris was probably less a vote for him in particular than is was a vote for ‘Do as you are bloody well TOLD!’

  3. Not only do economics work differently, but math too. You see, unless we’ve been the victims of the greatest parody/hoax in history, some folks on the other side are seriously arguing that 2+2+5.

      1. “2 + 2 + 5” means “orgy.” Or, considering that set meanings for any symbol is racist, culturalist, etc., the first “+” can very well mean “and”; the second one means “is.”

        Time for my nap; that almost made sense to me…

        1. An Orgy is when there’s four. When it is five then the odd one says, “Orr, Gee. There’s no one here for me, and leaves.” -The sage Benny Hill.

          1. Benny Hill lacks imagination. I can think of three ways to make 5 work if 3/2 or 2/3 f/m without re all trying.

        1. How many fingers am I holding up?

          The answer is one, upon which you are invited to sit and rotate.

    1. Overnight I saw the insane tweet claiming that if two factories each with two working machines and parts for half another joined, it would be case of 2+2=5. The followups pointed out that 2.5 + 2.5 = 5 was the real case. Assuming the “half” and “half” could be made to a single working whole.

      1. My favorite was if notation always rounds to nearest whole number then 2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8 would be notated as 2 + 2 = 5.

        When the every loving did sophistry become not only intellectual sophistication (that dates to Socratic Athens at least), but a default thought process instead of a form of putting on airs.

        1. Not only that, but 1.6 + 1.6 = 3.2, so 2+2 = 3, and to say 2+2 =4 when it could be 3, 4, or 5 is Western Colonial Imperalism, therefore the very concept of arithmetic is flawed, therefore the noble savages who reputedly can’t count past three are more enlightened than we all,
          Another example for my thesis that sufficiently advanced education is indistinguishable from stupidity.

          1. They want us all to be gully dwarves. “One, two, many.” That way their ability to count to twenty (but only with shoes off!) seems magical and amazing.

          2. So 2+2=3, 2+2=4, and 2+2=5, can all be true when 2, 3, 4, and 5 are all “Lies told to children.”

        2. 2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2 is a dorm joke, not a bloody planning suggestion.

        3. Your post reminds me of an old line:
          1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.
          I don’t remember where I first heard it, but I still come across others posting it from time to time.

      2. For those in need of a concrete example …

        Let us stipulate that said machine consists of two components, a motor and a power supply. Factory A has two complete machines and a power supply. Factory B has two complete machines and a power supply. Merging the two factories results in the combination having four machines and two power supplies.

        A more mundane example might stipulate Person A has two working flashlights and a third flashlight without batteries. Only if Person B has two working flashlights and batteries compatible with A’s third flashlight does their combination result in five working flashlights.

      3. And yet they deny that total value will increase as the result of a voluntary exchange – and decrease as the result of an involuntary one.

        1. Husband saw one of those Teaching A Moral memes yesterday– a hallway full of balloons (like 40 long, at least 13 wide, and a minimum of two deep but shot so it looked at least five feet deep) with a story about a teacher who had her class blow up balloons, then write their name on them and throw them into the hall. She tells them to get the balloon with their name on it, five minutes later, nobody can find theirs. Then she tells them to pick up the first balloon they run into and take it to the person whose name is on it and everybody has their balloon in like 30 seconds flat. Thus teaching the lesson that helping others gets you ahead.

          I was a little merciless with it, wondering if anybody else can come up with problems….

          Well, one, your class isn’t going to have over 200 people in it. Next time, maybe have it be a school assembly so you aren’t dealing with chances being very high that someone will grab their balloon totally at random, and it at least is a little bit like the picture.

          Two, you tell a group of kids to do that, and unless you order them to not make a sound and not touch anybody else’s balloon, they’ll be yelling “TONY! Your balloon is here!” pretty much instantly. Not just because they’re nice, but because that gets people and balloons out of the way.

          Three, you never do a lesson that depends on someone else behaving in a set manner. Even with adults, you have to plan out a failure solution– even if it is a pull-it-out-of-your-ear of “made up high percent of classes will not have even one person who thinks to call the name of the person whose balloon they picked up! See how great it worked?”
          I still remember the one big interactive lesson our social studies teacher every did.
          It was a you-are-space-colonies version of the US founding.
          The guy who wrote it assumed that none of us would ask by what authority they’d called us here to talk about forming a group.
          More than half of the “planets” made a point that they’d only showed up to talk, and my group’s “planet” explicitly said we didn’t have authority to negotiate, we were just messengers to take notes and we’d get back to them later……

      1. Government bureaucrat answer to “What does 2 + 2 equal?” is “What would you like it to equal?”

      1. Somewhere, buried in the Law-of-the-Day calendars, you are likely to find Grabel’s Law: 2 != 3, Not even for large values of 2.

    2. I just got an email from Popular Mechanics magazine that purports to prove that 2+2=5

      I can’t understand how any mechanic could think that’s right.

  4. Seymour “Sy” Kosis? I knew him in college – we were in the same dorm! Strange guy, weird taste in music. I always wondered what became of him. So he took over the culture? That explains a lot, indeed it does.

    1. Oh, he (or his brother from another planet) tried to turn me on to Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies. (FWIW, on the original Jesus Christ, Superstar record, Byrd did the, er, music for the crucifixion scene.) Since one of the typical tracks on the proffered album was “You Can’t Ever Come Down” opening with the repeated phrase “waiting to die”, the tape copy went away after a while.

  5. In second grade in California we learned the Pilgrims discovered America. Later I got taught Arkansas history in the seventh grade. It was a state law. And we never got as far as the 20th century.

    In the 9th grade there were history “quarter courses”, 9 weeks long, where we learned that white people hated blacks and that’s why we had the Civil War, and that George Washington was a bigamist and got a bunch of innocent farmers killed, and that WWII happened because we were mean to the Japanese (the first and only mention of WWII I remember), and “Sacco and Vanzetti,” which made no real sense and didn’t stick.. And that was, fortunately, it. After getting tripped up on some of that crap in Real Life(tm) I managed to unlearn most of it.

    The history Sarah learned from The Puppet Masters was closer to reality-as-we-know-it than what someone’s tax dollars were used to teach me.

    1. I mean, you could argue that we did have WWIII with nukes, just psychological ones instead of atomic ones…

      On a different note, hearing that people can’t change their basic position after about 45 does make me wonder if I should do a serious retrospection of what I actually believe, and make sure it’s solid. On the otherhand I could also question if human minds are actually that static.

      It will be an interesting conundrum for future generations, or this one as they age…

        1. I think that if you’ve learned to do self-examination at any point, and have the will to admit that you’re wrong about things, change can come at any age. I have a friend on my FB feed who is fascinating to watch—she was a Bernie Bro, and in the years since, has come to understand how damaging many of the positions of “her side” are. She’s in her 60s, IIRC, and a First Wave feminist—and she keeps posting about “THIS! This is why they think you’re crazy, because you are!”

          She doesn’t support Trump, but she seems to understand why he’s popular.

          1. Torn– could argue that the world-view is basically set, and what is observed is basically folks having bent it so far that it snaps back.

            Reluctant to argue that, becuase it’s awful close to making it utterly unprovable.

            Back on the third hand, I can think of examples of folks who are older and set in their ways changing.

            Back to the second, hand, all of those examples are cases where they met something that they had thought was opposed, but actually embodied their ideals.

          2. > the positions of “her side”

            Every now and then someone will point at some egregiously stupid thing done the GOP and demand I justify the actions of my side.

            Each time I explain they’re not “my side”, they’re just the lesser evil.

            Given how often I have to re-explain that, either they’re not listening, or something in their head is broken.

            1. It’s the latter option. Their worldview is entirely hung up on “THE PARTY IS ALL.” It’s more important than anything else, no matter what–just witness all these people out there saying “But we HAVE to vote for Biden!” and “Well, if we can just get him to November!” with apparently zero thought of “yes, and then what? You have a senile, dementia-addled guy–who was far from the sharpest spoon in the drawer to begin with–in charge, so to speak, of the most powerful nation in the world. Which of course means people YOU DIDN’T ACTUALLY VOTE FOR will be running things.”–but then, again, there’s that “PARTY IS ALL” thing, and probably they think “so long as the puppet masters pulling Biden’s strings are PARTY it’s all sunshine and roses.”

              It’s utterly horrifying to see–and it’s fueling all my prayers that the would-be tyrants will lose, and are too incompetent to cheat their way into power.

              1. Biden will still be effectively better educated and more able to apply his intelligence than Barack Obama.

                1. Even if he was trying to undermine the US, instead of (as I suspect) massively incompetent, Obama was so far in over his head the whole time that the fish swinging around his shoes were making their own light.

                  1. It is more correct to say that Obama’s thinking can be explained in terms of being profoundly miseducated, instead of having brain damage.

                    I’m one of the major advocates of the theory that his deficits can be explained in terms of brain damage from his highschool drug use. If Biden is becoming senile, the mechanism may be accumulated brain damage. That might still be better than Obama, if Obama has been severely impaired for most or all of his adult life.

                    Sarah believes that brain damage is unnecessary to explain the problems with Obama’s thinking. Perhaps he could think about non-verbal things, but was carefully trained never to do so. He was raised to be Communist, so might possibly only be able to understand the world through Communist theory. If he only understands the world using Communist theory, he would make incorrect predictions, and his thinking would appear quite impaired.

                    1. Is not such profound miseducation a form of brain damage?

                      Telling a child he’s “clever” when he ain’t is a form of abuse quite as much as telling him he’s “slow” when he isn’t.

                2. OK your average nudibranch would be more capable than either Biden or Obama and have far more spine than the two of them combined.

                  I’ve seen several memes with Bidens head photoshopped onto the crippled Captain Pikes chair from the the 2 part Star Trek “The Menagerie”. I suspect Biden will have to beep his answers at the debates should he actually participate.

              2. I think a lot of ordinary people who plan to vote for Joe honestly think all this Green New Deal and other leftist stuff is simply window dressing to make the progressives happy. Od COURSE Joe will,ignore all that if he’s elected, and do exactly what they think he should do.

                Usually they might be right. But I don’t think so this time.

                1. The Dems have repeatedly made it clear over the last couple of decades that when they lie to deceive people on their actual positions, the ones that they’re attempting to deceive are always the centrists. After all, it was Obama who was publicly opposed to same sex marriage when he took office, but then “shifted” his position later on. I can’t think of a single issue on which they’ve ever “shifted” away from the radical base toward the center.

                2. Joe Fingers *might* be talking tghrough his hat, but it probably won’t matter. Whatever ‘underprivileged’ WOC he* picks as running mate will be a True Believer, and once he’s shuffled off his mortal coil? to the sidelines due to his disability, we’ll be stuck with the consequences. As noted here previously, we can vote ourselves into Socialism fairly easily, but gtting out of it again probably will require some shooting.

                  *Actually the one the other True Believers calling the shots behind the scenes pick for him.

                3. *IF* Joe had more cognitive ability than the average cucumber, I might accept those reasons (hell, it would make me slightly less terrified should he win). Because then he could be counted on to do what makes HIM look good, gain him more money (especially) in the long term. Which would not be veering as hard left as he possibly can, because Joe is too ‘old school politician’ for that. (Maybe.)

                  The problem, of course, is that if Joe is elected, he ain’t going to be the one running things. It will be his VP and/or a cadre of hard left lunatics who seek power and control over other people’s lives above all else…

                4. This isn’t really directed at you, but why would you assume that the promises that any politician makes are lies, if you don’t want those things to happen?

                  If someone is a liar, that doesn’t mean that you know what they actually believe. It doesn’t mean that you actually know what they’re going to do. It means that their words have no predictive power. You literally can’t tell what they’re going to do because you don’t know which parts of what they say are true and which are false.

                  1. I suspect the principle of deniability is involved: we first lie to ourselves.

                    OTOH, have you seen Joe’s “Morning in America Again” ads? Utterly substance free, a piling of platitudes and promises with no explanation of how he will “unite” us again. Anybody voting Biden because of those is begging to be lied to.

                    1. But those are believing the politician’s lies when you do want those things to happen. That’s much easier for me to comprehend than when you don’t want the things he or she says will happen.

              3. PARTY IS ALL. It is like they say about sports fans: they’re rooting for laundry.

                When you vote for a party candidate you are in fact team, you are selecting the people who are willing to engage in elder abuse to gain power willing to work to advance a specific set of policies (because we all know how much administrations adhere to their party platforms) if the candidate of that party is elected.

                When you choose a president you choose the person who will preside over the government, select judges and cabinet secretaries to set policies directing the permanent bureaucracy selfless civil service to enhance American lives, to administer justice and redefine Truth and that other thing, you know … c’mo, man, you know, that thing.

              4. This should help focus it:

                Biden, a disgruntled, dementia-suffering, doddering old man with angry and weird outbursts from an odd left-field temper:

                With his finger on The Button.

                Uh. No.

                  1. Or they hand him an “updated” laptop with the codes… except it’s really just loaded with a copy of Command and Conquer or similar.

            2. … either they’re not listening, or something in their head is broken.

              Or they’ve some reason other than stated for demanding such answer. You certainly don’t believe they seek understanding of why the GOP might have taken such a position.

            3. Backstage at a concert (Rush, AAMOF), a ’60s retread quizzed me about politics. She was a customer, so I figured I better be straight. I told the truth; I’m a libertarian. I figure — it’s Rush, so I’m pretty safe. She scoffed. “A libertarian is just a Republican who wants to smoke pot.” A little fire for that straw man, Scarecrow? I didn’t bother to disabuse her of that notion and the conversation meandered on from there.

              1. odd, pretty much a libertarian most of my life, but I hate the thought of smoking pot or doing any other drug but the occasional alcohol
                Then again, I early on figured out that, no matter how grand it might sound, “True Libertarianism” is as possible as “True Communism”. Reality tends to get in the way.
                Difference being we are always better off the closer to ideal libertarian we get as opposed to how bad off we get the closer to communist/socialist we get.

                1. “If men were angels, we’d need no government. If angels were to govern us, government would need no limits.” James Madison, Federalist Papers.

                  Of course, Madison was white and a slave-owner so the Left want to ignore him. [Sarcastic Grin]

                  1. If people were Perfect, communism would just work!

                    Obviously, in order to create their utopia, they just have to eliminate all the imperfect people. The problem has always been all those OTHER imperfect people interfering before they finished the job.

                    Hence their claim that ‘true communism has never been tried’ because they never managed to completely purify their utopias.
                    ———————————
                    There is no shortage of people convinced they can create the perfect world. Trouble is, they always start out by fucking up this one.

                2. I agree on the ability to reach “true libertarian,” and my disagreement on how well off we are the closer we get is probably more of a definition thing than actual disagreement; I’d say that the closer whoever in power is to truly libertarian ideals, the more likely that the failures will be non-catastrophic. That’s mostly because the fatal flaws where the theory rubs on humans in libertarianism involve a lot less ability to force reality to conform than communism does.

                  The mess that is European libertarians makes my head hurt, I can’t even tell if they’re familiar with the philosophy, any more than the various totalitarian libertarians (or the college libertarians I’m related to!) are.

                  1. I guess it depends on the definition of Close (~_^) Euro-Libertarians tend, to me anyhow, be “Don’t call me socialist, and I can’t be “Right” they’re evil!” more than having a clue as to what it is. Some even fit the “who want’s to smoke pot” type (or do whatever banned thing they want to do none of the other parties are for allowing)

                3. I guess the point is that (and this is pretty much true across the board) leftists don’t know the right. They have no clue about us. To them there is no difference between a republican and a conservative and a libertarian and an ancap, et al. I believe that this blind spot will prove to be a major factor in their downfall.

                  I found out I was a libertarian in 1964 at age ten, when a more-precocious-than-I friend asked me, “Do you pretty much in live and let live? I thought about it for a moment, and having recently come to that conclusion on my own, said, “Yes.” He said, “You’re a libertarian.” He turned out to be a doctrinaire leftist in high school, but if you knew our high school, (noted alum: Jerry Rubin) you would not be surprised.

                  M

                  1. I guess the point is that (and this is pretty much true across the board) leftists don’t know the right.

                    They never do. I’ve seen more than one study that shows the left can’t even see a point of the right, where the right (and it’s a vague eurocentric economist/sociologist “right” that means “everyone not to the left of Trotsky” right) where those considered right (or conservative, or libertarian) can see all the left’s points, and just doesn’t like them or where they lead, all too often.

                    1. One of the biggest blind-spots in Western polity these days is the insistence on calling Fascism and Nazism “Right-Wing.” They weren’t right-wing. They never were right wing. They were simply Nationalist Socialists and Master-Race partisans rather than Globalist-Imperialist Socialists and Class-Warfare partisans. The way the became “Right-Wing” was that the Commies joined “our side” in WWII and we brought over a number of communists (incl. some welcomed as Holocaust Survivors, which they were, but it didn’t improve their politics) to join our local crop of properly Nazi-hating Patriotic American leftists. These leftists (old and new) proceeded to smear their political foes, “the right” with all the reputation of and explicit association with their deceased military foes, the Nazis.

                      The biggest difference between Nazi leftists and Bolshie leftists is and was the Nazi substitution of “race” for “class.” The second biggest was about three centimeters of moustache on either side of the upper lip, and one centimeter forward: from Der Reichsführer’s to Uncle Joe’s.

                    2. as far as i understand it, they were declared right wing by the USSR when they broke the Pact.

                    3. “The biggest difference between Nazi leftists and Bolshie leftists”

                      wasn’t that much. Actual Russians — those descended from the Rus, or Swedish Vikings — were given a large number of preferences compare to non-Rus.

                    4. I have to refrain from commenting on Time Ghost stuff as Sparty gets too stupid on the “Nazis are not socialists!” nonsense. The explanation comes down to “Granny Smiths are not apples because they are not red” in their logic, to me.

                    5. He hasn’t done much in WW2 but the Between Two Wars stuff has it (I commented on a Crimes against Humanity, I think, maybe a B2W, I forget), so not bad.

                    6. And Nazis became “Right Wing when they attacked the USSR ahead of Stalin’s planned timeline.
                      Looking at Joe closely in that time, he is the epitome of “Evil, Or Stupid? . . . Embrace the glorious powers of AND”

                    7. up until then, it was a fine ‘stache. Besides it gave them both a bunch of Poles to kill, while they were pretending each other’s nose bush was da best kind . . . other than theirs

                    8. You just don’t understand; being slightly less left than the communists makes them right-wing!

                  2. Jonathan Haidt proved that in the lab.

                    I have literally seen a Leftist claim that that proved the right-wingers lied in his tests, and they were discerning the right-wingers’ hearts.

              2. “A libertarian is just a Republican who wants to smoke pot.”

                And a Liberal is just someone trying to cover over the historic sins of the Democrats.

        2. Nod. I changed politically a lot in my late 20s and early 30s, but I was pretty well set after that.

      1. Maybe by 45, most people have figured out how the world works and either got it right or come close enough that the error won’t burn them too badly.

          1. Sometimes it’s just the information bubble. It’s possible to grow up with parents, K-Ph.d., all consumed media, and employment (if any) all solidly to the left; their whole world thinks the way they do, or vice versa. Any concepts that disagree are obviously silly and not worth serious consideration. *Everyone* they know can’t be wrong, that’s just crazy talk.

            Toss in some herd effect, where some people wil defend the status quo no matter what, and you have a resistant mind. Might be otherwise intelligent, but not willing to take the step past “everyone knows…”

    2. It’s kind of odd, given how the Left is China’s Best Friend and shouts to the heavens that “CHINA IS GOOD! CHINA CAN DO NO WRONG!” that the Rape of Nanking, along with everything else that Japan “was up to” in Manchuria in the 1930’s, and hence WHY we were “mean to the Japanese,” never get mentioned at all in history class.

      I THINK it was mentioned in my high school World History textbook, but only just a single paragraph, if that.

      1. Being 6 August, the Bomb came up yet again… and once again I recall the idea someone had that if there were to be any ‘war crimes’ trials about the Bomb… they ought be held in a place neither Japan nor USA, so how about Nanking?

        1. I once saw a documentary interviewing people for sound bites about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

          One was an elderly Korean woman, in tears, with a thick accent. “Why? WHY ONLY TWO?!” I suspect the people making the “documentary” picked the clip for the tears and didn’t actually listen to what she was saying.

          Sorry, darlin’. We gave it all we had. Fat Man #2 would have been delivered to Sapporo via “Spook” or “Jabett III”, but the Emp surrendered before it was ready.

          1. One of the most astonishing things to have happened this century is that young Japanese, Koeean, and Chinese people tend to like each other’s comics and pop music. If we can just run out the clock….

        2. I confess I am not confident in Chinese juries — they might find both parties guilty. I propose an alternate site Seoul, S. Korea.

        3. Holding off on Hiroshima and Nagasaki wouldn’t have benefited the US, and ultimately wouldn’t have benefited the Japanese – but it WOULD have benefited the Soviet Union. Funny how McCarthyite and Birchist ‘paranoia’ about Soviet agents of influence keeps turning out to have a point.

          (Also, the scientists who balked about a-bombing Japan had looked forward to a-bombing Berlin. Which likewise just coincidentally would have benefited the USSR if the Bomb had been ready earlier or the fall of Nazi Germany had been delayed.)

      2. The Left isn’t precisely “pro-China,” they’re anti-US. At the moment China presents the closest thing to a serious threat to US dominance, so the Left is all-in on Winnie the Dictator. The fact that China is nominally Communist is just a nice bonus.

        And yes, there are some, shall we say, financial complications, that make certain institutions more pro-China than they might otherwise be, but I doubt all those NBA clowns eager to put “social justice” messages on their jerseys would denounce the official anti-black laws in China even if they didn’t have a financial interest in it.

        1. They probably don’t even realize those laws exist, and if they did the’d probably be REEEEEE’ing “THAT’S JUST PART OF THEIR CULTURE HOW DARE YOU JUDGE THEM?!”

        2. What ‘official anti-black laws in China’? Seriously, this is the first I’ve ever heard of this.

          1. Don’t know the content of the laws but there was a Chinese laundry soap commercial posted up on Twitter that showed a pretty Chinese girl putting a black guy into the washer and getting a handsome Chinese guy out.

          2. during the passing of blame for the WuFlu, the CCP banned blacks from certain areas and expelled some iirc. I recall reading some nonsense about it (nonsense because nothing the CCP said made a lick of sense)

              1. I see a “Chinese lady reacts” on YouTube (mostly history vid reactions) and it is obvious she is a plant. She’s supposedly there doing this without the Gov’t knowing/caring?? HA!

    3. that George Washington was a bigamist

      Wait, what?!! The others are wrong but at least are close enough to reality that I see how we got there from here, but Washington the bigamist? Is there something about the father of our country I don’t know, or were these people just high?

        1. Fortunately, I served my time in graduated from the public school system before Jimmy Carter’s Department Of Education started ‘improving’ them. 40 years and 2 TRILLION dollars later, they can’t even teach students to read and do simple math in 12 years.

          1. You assume “education” is the Department of Education’s reason for existence.

            Even “bureaucratic incompetence” can’t explain the DOE’s utter failure at “education.” Therefore, their purpose is something other than stated.

    4. The WWII happened because the US was mean to Japan is brilliant propoganda. It has just enough truth to it to have legs and trip up the unwary.

      1. I actually stumbled across that view in a video game set in the late ’40s – early ’50s. It was the embargo, you see.

        The exactly reason *why* the US had an embargo in place against Japan remained unstated…

    5. I got told that Sacco and Vanzetti were clearly innocent even though Vanzetti’s professed reason for owning a gun — self-defense — was clearly inadequate. (Not a teacher. the text of the history book.)

    6. Roughly half of what I know about WWII I learned from reading WEB Griffin novels, Pacific theater in particular. The rest I got from my grade and high school teachers many of whom served in that conflict.
      Actually more from Griffin as those teachers were in the main strangely reluctant to speak of their experiences.

      1. I like Griffin in general, who I first encountered as W. E. Butterworth an author of boys’ sports car stories. Also as the ghostwriter of most of the ‘MASH Goes To’ books, which are silly but amusing. His recent books, mostly co-authored,with his son, aren’t as good, it seems to me.

        Oh, well.

  6. And then Reagan. Reagan and his crazy ideas, which if you remember, couldn’t work. But did.

    I heard President Reagan give a speech in person once; he said was going to simply the tax code. I remember thinking “never happen.” Then he went and did it.

    1. Didn’t last, did it?

      Bastids make their bank complexifying the tax code then selling indulgences. I laugh myself to sleep nightly contemplating Trump’s elimination of the SALT exemption by which low tax states used to be forced to subsidize high tax states. That’s one “tax break for the rich” that Chuck, Nancy and Governor Cuomao are eager to restore.

      1. It never came last. It’s the nature of politicians to find carve-outs and shelters for their favorite causes / benefactors. That makes the tax code more and more complex, until finally someone comes along to simplify it again.

        And then the process begins anew.

        1. The countries with VAT were attempting to do something like the “single tax” or “flat tax” advocates here have pushed since the 1800s. And most of them worked, briefly. Then came the exceptions for this, totally-not-a-tax fees for that, ever-changing lists of non-taxables, and pretty soon the camel was in the tent again.

      2. I’d say desperate to restore – see recent begging by GrannyKillerCuomo to recent escapees-from-New-York to pleeeez bring their tax base back.

  7. Reminds me somewhat of why I gave up on Spider Robinson: that continual “What horrible world have we made that creative people have to use drugs to survive in it?”, never considering the question “What the hell is wrong with some creative people that, even though they’re succeeding at what they do, they drug themselves to death?”

      1. I read Mind Killer and enjoyed it (some, liked Stardance better), but the sequel (Time Pressure?) pretty much ended my search for new Spider material. The end in SD with the minds linking was OK and made some sense, but the group-mind sexcapade in TP didn’t seem like it belonged.

        (Hmm, Telempath went down that road, too. Is Night of Power required reading, or banned?)

        1. I very much liked his early short stories and the Callaghan tales but can’t really recall reading any of his novels since Mind Killer … I very much enjoyed the short about the two sad sacks who tried to burgle a house only to discover the owner was home but in the midst of writing a novel and with no patience for interruptions.

          1. His later Callahan went a bit off the rails, too.
            I gather he’s been a wreck since Jeanne and his daughter died. I’m sorry. I met him once.

  8. One way or another, planed economies won out in the end, right?

    I do not, as a rule, pick on typos (perpetrating so very, very many myself) but this seems to fit the “unless I can make a good joke/point” exception to that rule.

    Given the current bugaboo over “inequality” the characterization of planned economies as planed is terribly apt and worthy of recognition. The problem with planing an economy, of course, is that even with wood putty it is more difficult to raise up the dents than to cut down the ridges, so ultimately everything gets sanded down to the lowest tolerable point, leaving everything somewhat thinner and closer to the bottom from the experience.

    Of course, those wielding the plane and those directing its employment have to remain a bit above it all, the better to identify the inequalities.

  9. PLANNED ECONOMIES and central control don’t and can’t work.

    Not entirely true – they work quite well for the planners, at least for a while, and in many cases (cough*Chavez*cough) that while is long enough.

    Heck, as Maduro is showing, even on the downslope those in charge of the planning can still make out like bandits.

    1. They can even work to achieve a specifical goal in a specific time frame. However, doing so damages the I output over the long term.

      That, to me, is the real lesson of WW2.

  10. I KNEW IT!

    The whole world is insane and I’m the only sane person around (I think). 😉

    1. “All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.”
      –Robert Owen, 1828

    2. I have either been declared insane (not a new accusation) or ‘{de,un}personned’ (also not new)..
      Perhaps both.

      Things never change, really, do they?

  11. math is oppressive and colonialist.

    Indeed, so it is. So what? REALITY is oppressive and colonialist — it invades your fantasies and crashes your towers of ivory cards.

    Grow. The Eff. Up. Life ain’t fair and all your efforts to make it otherwise make it worse.

          1. If there are no elephants how do we explain those great stinking piles of partially digested grasses?

            1. They are naturally occurring phenomena, we’d be happy to come up with a plausible explanation if you can expedite our grant proposal. Please let us know if our research should concentrate on:

              A) anthropogenic global warming
              B) eating meat
              C) George W. Bush
              D) Trump!
              E) far-right, Nazi, GOP, Fascist, Libertarian, or other political group
              F) Coronavirus
              G) racism

  12. *feeling silly*

    While math isn’t unjust, it does frequently weighing heavily on the mind or spirits; causing depression or discomfort..

    1. Learning new mathematics means … learning New Ways Of Knowing … ways that work. Kt’s hard, even with practice. I’d like to forcefeed some of those Leftist Maroons (Maorons?) the Moebius Inversion Principle. After I bone up on it again, myself. Or maybe Vanermonde’s Convolution. See how good they are with Other Ways Of Knowing.

      I suspect that Tarot cards and geomancy would be more their thing, if they weren’t so patriarchal. (snerk!)

      1. Moebius Inversion Principle? Sounds painful. Does it include cranial/rectal insertion as well, or is that a totally other syndrome?

        1. I utterly loath proofs– part of why I want the kids to get a logic class before they get into that for math– but it looks like a grown-up version of the Fact Triangles.
          If you haven’t run into them, a “fact triangle” is a way to get the idea of 1+2=3, then 2+1=3, and 3-2=1 and 3-1=2. Ditto for multiplication/division.

          They’re shown something like:

          _____3
          ____-__-
          _1 (+ or =) 2

          (ignore the _, it’s to get the spacing right)

        2. No CRI. It says that under certain circumstances, and with the right knowledge to which to apply the Moebius mu function, you can unscramble the mathematical eggs.

    1. I like his point about everything they do being a word game.

      This “2+2+5” is the mathematical equivalent of the old logic joke “Knowledge is power, and power corrupts, and corruption is a crime, and crime doesn’t pay, so if you study you’ll go broke.”

      1. Oh, I usually saw the one that stopped much earlier — “Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. Study hard. Be evil.”

  13. I grew up as the change happened, and it got weird fast…

    Everybody assumed in my childhood that the USSR would last forever and we would be having this “cold war” thing, except when it got hot and everybody dies when the bombs fell and nuclear winter killed anyone that survived. So, we had to make peace with the USSR and get rid of all those nasty and icky nuclear weapons and such…

    (My moment of absolute schadenfreude-reading a guy that was doing the silo inspection for one of the arms limitation treaties (SALT? START? Not sure.) He filed a report that could be summed up as, “if the Strategic Rocket Forces were to do a ‘hot,’ no warning launch-anywhere between a quarter to a third of the missiles would ether not launch or blow up in the silos. Of anything that launched-probably another quarter to third of them would either disintegrate or blow up before they even left Soviet territory. And, most of the warheads landing would either fail or fizzle.

    “In short, if the Soviet Union was to engage in a strategic nuclear war, they would do more damage to themselves than they would to the United States.”)

    When the Soviet Union fell, most of us took a long breath of relief. Too many people near me got even crazier-especially if you were near a university town. They had faith panics. Purity spirals. Apostate stoning. And, anything that tried to stay apolitical had to choose-and if you were in any field that wasn’t outright right/conservative, you either had to choose left/socialist or you didn’t have a career anymore.

    (And, I don’t think the political left in most countries is “liberal” by definition anymore. You would probably see and find more classic “liberals” in the political right than as official members of the left.)

    But…the left just kept missing the target on so many things. All the things they thought were going to be great for them and their goals were either ignored or turned against them. It is only in legacy industries that the Left really survives-and they are more than willing to tear everyone and everything down if they can’t get what they want.

    Be not afraid. Make sure your stockpiles are good, keep calm and bugger on, and remember that as long as we don’t lose, they can’t win.

    1. It is (like?) evil. It might have some surface appeal to the gullible, but it destroys everything – including the purveyor(s) – eventually.

      1. The terrible thing-ultimately, we all fall to entropy. The clock runs out, the last sand falls from the hourglass, the last second ends. Mind you, I’m of the belief that we can damn well make Death and Fate and entropy fight for every step they take.

        But, a second from now or five billion years from now…the show’s over, time to sweep the stage and set up another show on another stage.

        Evil pretends that the clock will never run out. The law of averages will not catch them in the end, no matter how much they claim otherwise. That the Gods of the Copybook Heading will never write their lines on them in words of fire.

        And, the things they will do to keep their clocks running…

        1. Philosophically, one could point out that if the hourglass runs out of sand or the clock runs down, there must have been something that turned the hourglass, and wound up the clock, in the first place.

          Evil hates that even more.

          1. I would like to meet the maker of this clock. I have some serious complaints about how it was built. Some eccentricities and problems, I understand. An odd sound to the pallet, yes. That the mainspring always sounds like you’re torturing a G-string on a violin when you wind it, I can live with that.

            But, some of these problems…

    2. I grew up in the 1970’s (born in ‘61), and don’t recall EVER thinking the USSR would last. But ours was an odd household. Both my parents were History teachers and genuine scholars. Both considered Socialism a fine system…for ants. The one magazine the household subscribed to was THE NATIONAL REVIEW.

      The Soviet System could not work. Yes, Big Government was slowly taking over here, but that could not work either, and would collapse of its own idiocy.

      Why I wasn’t more of an outcast, I have NO idea.

    3. the leftoids are neither liberal nor progressive
      it is all just more of their word games like the DDR being Democratic Republic, just like the USA

  14. Costikyan, Greg. “The West is Red”
    What if: Marxism works and capitalism doesn’t.
    Summary: An academician/computer expert from the USSR visits a Washington, DC, torn between failing capitalism and flowering Communism.
    Published: In Asimov’s Science Fiction, May 1994; and Roads Not Taken: Tales of Alternate History (eds. Gardner Dozois and Stanley Schmidt), q.v.

    Haven’t read it.

    I go into the psychosis of the left in (extreme) detail in a post at my blog, https://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2020/07/metastasized-marxism.html.

    The mental break for most of them came in the 1960’s. That’s when they switched from “Marxism is science-based and historically inevitable!” to Postmodernism where feelings are more important that facts and “I reject your reality and substitute my equally valid own.” They raised their children that way. Costikyan was born in 1959. I would not be surprised if he were a Red Diaper baby. “I FEEL Communism should work!”

    1. Oo, thanks for doing the legwork. I was hunting around trying to find it myself, but after searches didn’t zero me in I went looking through Nebula nominees of the 90s, on the theory it might have been one. It wasn’t but I came away feeling like I needed a shower. My exposure to science fiction in the 90s was “whatever Dad gave me or I stole off his bookshelf” and I didn’t realize how dire a lot of the short stuff was.

    2. I have one question about your post. Where is there one word authorizing slavery in the United States Constitution, or in the first 10 Amendments?

      The slavery issue was not addressed at all, which by the plain language of the Constitution leaves the matter up to the individual states. It was a compromise, to gain the necessary support from ALL the existing colonies.

      And, I would put the beginning of serious Abolitionism in the 18th century, or even the late 17th, rather than the 19th.

      1. Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 1. The word importation was understood at the time of ratification to mean the slave trade could not be barred prior 1808.

        Article 4, Section 2, Paragragh 3. A person held to service or labor covers both indentured servitude and chattel slavery.

        So, yes, it is mentioned twice.

      2. Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, which reads:

        Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

        1. There was somebody on Facebook politely suggesting that the point of the story had actually been that it would have to be a very different, counterfactual world for things to work that way…. I should go check it out, but probably not today.

            1. I can believe that! I relayed that comment here mostly because it sounded like multiple people were finding it disconcertingly uncharacteristic of the author, with whom I admit I am otherwise completely unfamiliar.

    3. They fully embrace the line from THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (sp?) , “Your reality is lies and balderdash and I have no grasp of it whatsoever!”

      But fail to realize that the Baron was one of the great liars of history, and the film is pure fantasy.

    4. I feel odd every time I deal with the post-modernist and their ilk. I know my issues; emotions and feelings are slippery to me, like a well-lubricated vibrator in a vat of water-based lube with fresh batteries. Slippery and shaky and never quite able to get a damned good grip on the sucker.

      I’m a writer, I work with words. But, the post-modernist…they will make up and down entirely irrelevant, turn innocent concepts into monstrous forms, and make you doubt everything if you listen to them too long.

      But…if you don’t listen to the words and go for the feelings…it just sounds so nice. They believe that all men are angels inside. And, if we are freed from the monstrosities holding us down, we will all be able to fly.

      I’ve seen too much, read too much, to know that we only become something better than the bloody, screaming ape in the mud through much effort, much work, and much discipline. Three concepts that are rare to see in a person, unless they are cultivated from the outside as much as inside. Indeed, the outside has to be greater than the inside, to force people to rise up to the standards demanded of them than to fall upon the “angels of our better nature.”

      The political and social Left, in it’s various forms…never did quite understand this. They believe in the perpetual universal solid state-regardless of it was the divine right of kings or that all of our existence was just a frozen, momentary blip between monstrous elder gods that would devour us in an instant if we were ever so crass to be noticed by them.

      The leftist-the socialist, the Communist, the post-modernist, the “woke”-all believe that they can create that single frozen state of perfection, where everything is right (or at least not wrong) and that moment can be sustained forever. And, this is an evil greater than any act of active malevolence, to me. It denies change, however hard and painful and unwanted it might be. It denies that the world moves, that imperfection is needed because it allows us to define perfection better.

      There must be Evil-both petty and grand-in the world. If for no other reason, to define ourselves as it’s opposite, as Good. There can be a lot of grey in the world-and there is. But, grey is merely a mixture of black and white-which means that the good and the white is possible in comparison to the black and the evil. It isn’t easy, but nobody promised us easy.

      (Mind you, I was promised catgirls at some point while I had working wedding tackle. Discussions will be had about that with Someone at some point soon.)

      The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday. Very true. Today wasn’t easy, and I’m not sure tomorrow will be any easier. Yesterday was easy, because we can’t do anything about it-it’s the past. It won’t change, no matter how much we try to bury it or paint over it. The only things we can do, we can change are today and maybe tomorrow.

      The Left forever is looking back. To the promise of the Russian Revolution, the fall of the Bastille, the Garden of Eden. They are forever looking to the past, believing that they can change the past so that the present never changes. It never becomes anything else.

      I will always look to windward. The new, the different, a world that will be different tomorrow is my goal. To get to it, I will do whatever I can today to make things just that little bit better, that little bit more done, that little bit more complete.

      And, that is terrifying to the Left. They have to believe in their diamond perfection, lest it shatter and destroy them. The only way to destroy this fear? Destroy anyone that can wield a hammer-such beautiful irony!

      1. Now I have Saint Augustine and David Eddings in my mind at the same time, as two sides of a single coin. Augustine was fighting Pelagianism which stated that man is basically good and that Christ merely came as a Good Example for people to follow; that Man could perfect himself through personal effort. Augustine’s response was, “You think all men are basically good and can perfect themselves? Well, that wasn’t true for me! And if it’s not true for one man, it’s not true for any of them!”
        And Eddings’ standard villain was the god who tries to freeze all men into his chosen, unchanging (and thoroughly evil) pattern.

    5. “I FEEL Communism should work!”

      I FEEL Communism can NOT work, and as MY feelings have the advantage of being supportable by demonstrable facts, MY feelings trump yours.

      Besides, everybody can see you are a big dooty-head.

  15. They still, largely, have control of the “official” culture, though frankly they’re so bloody incompetent that we’re starting to do things under/over/around that actually count for more.

    They have that control for the same reason certain type of persons (colloquially known as “a**holes”) tend to dominate parties at cons: they’re sufficiently annoying that all sane persons mutter “whatever, Dude” and wanders off in search of intelligent conversation. They’re poo-flinging monkeys and, the only way to fight them being to sink to their level, no sensible person wants the nuisance.

    It isn’t because they’re smarter (although they imagine themselves so) nor that their taste is superior (although they imagine it so) so much as it is like academic in-fighting: the prize is of such scant value that only the insane will fight for it.

    It isn’t a matter of being the most attractive girl in the bar, they “win” by being the last remaining when all the guys have their beer goggles on.

    1. It is interesting to see what happens at certain con parties where intelligence generally (they allow ox in, so…) prevails. One host says it’s like an Idiot-Repelling Field and finds it fun to watch the “a**holes” just sort of bounce off the field.

  16. “…luminaries” of “intellectual” life might as well be locked in a padded cell screaming in a non-existent language at the oppression of reality.”

    Sadly said padded cell is academia (& media, & government, & etc.). I remember, back in the fifties, in a college geology class, bringing up, simply mentioning, continental drift as opposed to diastrophism. My grade dropped from an A to a D in that class (Hey, it may have dropped from a B to a D but that was around 60 years ago [possibly even a C to a D?] , and my memory might be a bit hazy, and anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) because I voiced such heresy.

    As geologists of stature built their careers on diastrophism, they pretty much had to die off before continental drift theory could even be discussed, much less could be accepted.

    Alas the psychotics defining our present culture have a lot more years left in them. I hope the rest of us can weather it.

    1. Somehow I’m reminded of the university from Crystal Dragon. The one where they resolved intellectual disagreements through public knife fights.

      I haven’t read the authors’ biographies, but I can’t help but think they spent a lot of time in academia…

    2. It strikes me that back when I worked daily in semiconductor cubeland I was spending the majority of my day literally in a padded enclosure.

      More like a padded stall than a padded cell.

      I was so happy to not be facing either the gridlocked commute or every day in a cube when I changed industries.

      And that’s my one observation on the current cubeland diaspora: You ain’t gonna get them back in the cube farm once they’ve worked from home in their pajamas effectively for a major fraction of a year, while not having to face 45 to 120 minutes each way in daily traffic.

      1. I can’t say that I miss semiconductor work, but my job had me going back and forth between the not-a-cube (had one my last few months; previous location we had spaced out quads, sort of; higher distraction coefficient but less sensory deprivation) and the test floor.

        When I was consulting as a test engineer, I spent a lot of time on the tester at first, then almost all of my time in front of a computer, mostly at work, with some at home. (We were helping the client get his RF hardware fit for production, and that entailed a chunk of interaction with the hardware engineer(s) and the mostly-sane PhD who was technical lead for the consultancy.)

        Glancing at my tinfoil hat, I’m wondering if the push to offshore production (largely driven by tax issues) was intentional to a) get those damned rightwing engineers out of the picture, and b) drive the blue collar workers onto welfare, while c) opening up the paths to power for our intellectual betters (as they think of themselves). OTOH, sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

  17. my husband had said “Well, you always wanted to write for a living, so why don’t you try it while the kids are little?”

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! That’s a good one. You never mentioned that Dan was such a brilliant comedian.

    They took the fight to watermelon “ecology”

    I always find it hilarious that anyone buys the argument, “The way to save the environment is to adopt the same ideology responsible for Chernobyl and the disappearance of the Aral Sea.”

    1. *puts on tophat* Hey, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere!

      On a more serious note, it’s both psychologically a very good protection against the “I am worthless I’m just keeping the kids alive” route of depression/”helpful suggestions,” and it’s a vacation in your head.

      1. It did help. And well…. outside establishing myself as a translator, I’d be a secretary. Most years of the last 20 I made as much writing as I’d have done as a secretary. So, there’s that.

  18. Remember when they were calling the cops when a kid pointed their finder at another kid in elementary school?

            1. Why would a civilian need ice cream? Only the government should have military-style assault snacks, you alt-right nazi extremist!

    1. They’ve (finally) started using those at the schools I’ve been working in lately for that contract I mentioned earlier. One day it said I had a temperature of… 90.5 F. Since I wasn’t suffering from hypothermia, I suspect it was an error, though they didn’t retake it even when I offered to let them try again.

      Which means they’re not quite as serious about it as they claim.

      1. The “whoop whoop intruder alert” rules are above a certain number – they don’t care if you’re below. That just means you’re an alien, and aliens, like human children, can’t transmit the virus that shall not be named.

  19. In an alternate world where Marxism works better than capitalism, it would necessarily have to be true that someone else could tell you what you want, and in so telling you make it so, and that you couldn’t understand what your own motivations are outside external control.

    (Let’s not dig into the contradiction that if no one is self-motivated, there isn’t any source for motivation in the system either.)

    1. Reminds me of that Dilbert comic.

      Alice: “What are your requirements?”
      Clueless Customer: “I don’t know.”
      Alice: “Look: I can make the machine do *anything* you want, I just need to know what you want it to do!!”
      Clueless Customer: “Can you make it tell me what my requirements are?”

        1. I don’t either, but I lived it enough times… “We don’t know what we want, but once you write it, you can be sure it isn’t what we want.”

          1. Luckily I always was in the position of “well when you know we’ll discuss this again, then we’ll discuss this with my boss & yours when to schedule it.”

            The one time it looked like the type of disaster you described, I walked away. The company that bought part of the assets from the company that had shut down who I had worked for called about a very specialized software system. Yes, I wrote the thing. Wanted me to get together with their developers to go over it, not the coding, how it worked, why it worked that way. Oh heck no. I told them to call the former manager that they hadn’t kept on & contract her for consulting. Got told. No. Essentially Heck No. I said I can’t help. They persisted. I said “Won’t help but fine. $350/hour including travel. 10 hour minimum. Has to be Saturday.” This was summer of ’98. They said no thank you. I hung up & said thank god. FWIW. Who kept me on tract with the software? The former manager. She was the one who knew why it had to work that way. I might have been more helpful if I hadn’t started a new job, but I had. I already knew what the disaster was going to be. I was not putting my self into a position of saying “IDK. I was told it had to work this way.” Besides 7 months before I was explicitly told the company had more than enough programmers & there wasn’t anything I’d written they couldn’t handle.

            1. I’d venture a guess that they already tried getting the manager in to consult and got a similar response. I’ll go with the Klingon proverb: “Revenge is a dish best served cold”.

              I had a slightly similar experience at an organization. The original leader took a leave of absence, then was forced out by the leader pro-tem. (The secretary position was dumped on me because the original leader’s wife walked away when the LOA started; fun times.) Leader Pro-tem was a passive-aggressive asshole. The treasurer retired; I persuaded my wife to take the role (done quite reluctantly), then LPT decided in the middle of the next board meeting to announce that two people in a family could not serve on the board, never mind the previous secretary and the original leader. He’d had ample opportunity to tell us before the meeting, but no, he had to argue with my wife over nonrelated stuff. I should have walked then, but Sense of Duty prevailed.

              So, I got the treasurer role by default. Leader Pro-Tem was convinced that his was the only essential role in the organization. So, the next board meeting, I was prepared. Printed out the books for the year (once I figured out how the previous treasurer did them–I am *not* a bookkeeper), put all the meeting minutes on CD, told them how to get resources that I had loaned for group meetings, and calmly and quietly told them I was not going to darken the doors again. I’d heard that the resources were not obtained; they just needed a nice letter to get them.

              A few months later, $SPOUSE got a call from a member: “Can you get RCPete to come back? Nothing is getting done.” She was told the message would be relayed. (I had dealings with that person before; I think she was afraid of me…) We didn’t pass my comments back. The parent organization came to the local site a few weeks later and had a heart-to-heart with Leader-Pro-Tem and anybody who was interested. Never heard what came out, though the local entity lasted a few years before permanent shutdown. I thought they’d last a few months the way they were going. Go figure.

              Not exactly revenge, but they got what they wanted, good and hard.

              1. I’d venture a guess that they already tried getting the manager in to consult and got a similar response. I’ll go with the Klingon proverb: “Revenge is a dish best served cold”.


                Probably.

        1. Of course, then there’s Kelly Johnson’s last rule: Starve before you work for the Navy. They do not know what they want, and will break your heart, or whatever else is handy trying to get it.

        2. Having been in the clueless customer position myself, there is truth in this. The suppliers underestimate just how hard “What do you want?” is as an open-ended question. “What do you want, out of what we can provide?” is easier, but requires the customer know what the supplier can provide. Also “What do you want” can resemble a shoe-and-clothing “What size do you need?” question that can only be answered by trying things on.

          1. Aye. The frustrating this is that ASKING results in one of two situations….

            A *set* of questions to clarify is asked. The LEAST USEFUL question is the ONLY one that gets answered.

            …or…

            ONE question is asked at a time, but the result is a complaint that can be summed up, “Shut up with teh allt he damned questions and just GIMMEE DAMNIT!”

            Yes, been there.

            And the corker?

            “We NEED IT TUESDAY!”
            busts ass to get done TO GIVEN WRITTEN SPEC. by Tuesday
            …SIX MONTHS PASS…
            “We finally got around to installing it and found it doesn’t meet [THE SPEC THEY DID NOT ACTUALLY GIVE} so we need you to FIX THIS BUG!” (Not a bug, DAMNIT. A Specifications deficiency if not outright <b. ERROR on YOUR part. Which circle of Hell do you Arschlocher belong in?) I have ZERO regrets about writing the spec. that included “If this button is pressed, device turns into a pumpkin at next midnight. ZERO!).

          2. Complicated by the sales weasel pitching it who assures them it will do anything their heart desires.

            1. I took great delight in informing boss man that I couldn’t write around idiot promises the time I truly could not. No, a WinPrinter will not be made to work with a glorified 186. So there.

            2. And while the customer might not assume complete veracity on the part of the salesperson, that doesn’t mean knowing which bits are wrong….

            3. Once upon a time, the retail chain that I worked for (in IT) had “Next Day Home Delivery” in certain areas for certain items.

              Then somebody in Marketing thought that “Same Day Home Delivery” would be a Great Thing and was told by his superiors to “see if it would be possible”.

              The next thing the Marketing Superiors heard about this “Great Idea” was that the idiot had designed the Advertising Program for it WITHOUT CHECKING WITH IT, THE STORES OR THE WAREHOUSES to see if it was possible. 😆

          3. > “What do you want?”

            Come to think of it, maybe there was a good reason for the chill I felt every time Mr. Morden asked that question on Babylon 5…

            1. Why are you here? (The Vorlon Question)
              Do you have anything worth living for? (Lorien’s Question)

              1. Both of those are Lorien’s Questions.

                “Who are you?” is the Vorlon Question.

                1. “I woke up in a SoHo doorway.
                  The policeman knew my name.
                  He said, ‘You can sleep at home tonight
                  if you can get up and walk away.'”

        3. re: “The customer never know what he wants until he sees what he gets.”
          And inevitably what they want is NOT what you have delivered…

          1. There was one brilliant exception to that. That exception not only knew what they really wanted, spec’d it out correctly, but [GOLD HERE!] gave detailed reports if they did hit a bug. Not sure how far away they were, but where some bugs needed days to chase down (“It dunwerk, Fixit!”) with them, it might take a couple hours, sometimes mere minutes and we had something for internal testing – and they had it the next day.

            1. Orvan come clean you’re making that up :-). What a wonderful experience that must have been…Nothing even close to that in 35+ years of software development. Although I have had customers that gave detailed bug reports and provided good reproducers.

              1. I have had customers that gave detailed bug reports and provided good reproducers.


                I can’t speak for Orvan’s experience. But the clients I worked with got “Can’t reproduce. Need more information. This means I need …”, detail list. “Waiting your response.” Then file the complaint until I got the information requested. Never once said “Complaint not good enough.” Though we, in the industry, may agree that is what my response was. They went to boss? Why do you think I responded with email? We were too busy to chase down coding rabbit holes. Already mentioned on this blog, that actual verifiable complaints and changes could be done in minutes when found fast. Which meant they could have a solution while they were still on the phone if we had access to install the patch needed. Not unusual happening. Not standard, but not unusual (especially with boss or auditor on site). Standard response was faster than any other software vendor they dealt with. Of coarse they took to my requirement for them to send more than “It isn’t working”.

              2. Not making it up, though it is possible I mis-remembered a bit. Still, that place was the Great one to deal with. They were also the only one, that I recall that “needed it Tuesday” AND installed it that Tuesday.. and, the only time it happened at all ever, relayed a “Thank you” back for it.

                1. Man Orvan that sounds like the Promised land for developers :-). I fear I’d get to play Moses part in finding it though :-).

            2. [GOLD HERE!] gave detailed reports if they did hit a bug. Not sure how far away they were, but where some bugs needed days to chase down (“It dunwerk, Fixit!”) with them, it might take a couple hours, sometimes mere minutes and we had something for internal testing – and they had it the next day.


              “it might take a couple hours, sometimes mere minutes and we had something for internal testing – and they had it the next day, if we or our IT could install it; or whenever their IT got around to installing it.”

              We didn’t have internal testing other than the programmer, and as others will tell you, no matter how diligent, that isn’t enough doesn’t count.

              I did have more than one problem where it was “Client isn’t wrong. But neither is program, design or code. Now how do I fix this?”, but one that explicitly sticks out, where the steps were:

              1) Validate Complaint. Which was RND(Total Charges * Overhead Charge %) Total Reported Overhead Charge amount. Not by a few rounding pennies either.

              2) Hmmm. That’s weird. Why? Spot checks line by line RND(Charge * OHC%). Okay. Those are correct. Why not the total?

              3) Oh. Wait, a minute. Why are all these individual lines (not in a row, just spotted through a multiple page report), $0.00? Not negative, that is a valid amount (called a reversal). There were no instances of negative * negative, messing things up (a not unusual problem, just didn’t apply here). So what you have is: Charge * % = 0. Ding, Ding, Ding we have a winner.

              4) Why is this happening? Get this. The calculations were correct. Not something the client is going to accept, even when I proved it to TPTB in my office. Essentially: RND(.03 * 10%) = 0.00 Thus. 100 $.03 charges = $30, but 100 $.00 is still $.00 and $30 * 10% (numbers involved were waaaaay higher than that, and overhead is what paid for the managing department …)

              5. Proof. Dump report to spreedsheet. Clean out unrelated noise. Add new column with charge * % (not rounded). Add total … What do you know, RND(TCHG * OVHC) = new column TOVHC

              Now what is causing the problem & why isn’t everyone else complaining? Client wasn’t the only one using this process. They were the only one using it to this degree. But it did explain the “off by pennies”, more than rounding can explain, but not a big deal, of/on complaint.

              What was happening was there were Projects (essentially) that were being paid for through multiple departments through multiple budgets. Which meant each charge against the project was split into X many budgets then each charge was charged an overhead. All of it was due to rounding. But depending on how much an individual charge was being broken up = a little discrepancy to a huge discrepancy. The client who was complaining, had some projects (not one, multiple) whose charges being broken up into not two or three, more like 15 to 20 budgets. This was ALWAYS going to be true, to some degree, based on circumstances: RND(TCHG * OVHC) TOVHC

              Final solution really, really, slowed down the entire process. Ended up putting a selected option that said “Hey, if this affects you, turn this on”. How did they know if it affected them? Put comment on the program on how to discover it. Noting was in stone until client pushed “Bill it out”, which is after all the reports were available to check. User’s process was – 1) Collect (& setup). 2) Review reports (what was collected, how it is going to distribute, and what are the charges). 3) Repeat step 1, & 2, until satisfied. 4) Bill it out (now it is locked out of steps 1 – 3). Note, the only client to use that little feature was the one who complained.

              Facilities, Motorpool, & Repair Orders, had the same billing processes with overhead charges, but they didn’t have the ability split the individual charges by multiple budgets. Otherwise … Ack.

              1. Okay not equal brackets getting in the way: RND(TCHG * OVHC) not equal TOVHC (so any were the brackets got eliminated, presume “not equal”).

                Also (while I’m at it).

                “it might take a couple hours, sometimes mere minutes and we had something for internal testing Client – and they (Client) had it in minutes to hours, or the next day, if we or our IT could install it; or whenever their IT got around to installing it.”

                I swear I proof read. Not that I’d catch the double bracket issue, but still ….

            3. I once had a customer who asked for a few tweaks in how the reports were displayed, and didn’t have a single complaint after he started using the system. (And they were using it, I saw the database filling up.)

              I also once had a customer who said that he had given me the wrong requirements, and apologized.

      1. my sis worked somewhere they’d put things she said on comics with Alice (Big hair and similar attitude).
        Also, if you called and asked for her by first name only you got “Mills, Smith, or SATAN?” yes, she was who you got if you asked for Satan.

          1. She managed to stay friends with one of the others (they had been class mates) and did take it in jest as it was mostly intended. She was only a hard ass when you messed up, and was no nonsense when it came to business. Brother-in-law still works for the company, but they moved from Memphis to Atlanta. Sis quit not long after they got married, thinking it was stress causing some health issues (and hair loss, she is as bald as I am), but it is likely after effects of childhood Rheumatic Fever, and the stress didn’t help.

    2. …someone else could tell you what you want, and in so telling you make it so, and that you couldn’t understand what your own motivations are outside external control

      Makes me think of A Wrinkle in Time, and the scene on Camazotz with the man who ran the number-one spelling machine at the second-grade level, and if he didn’t get more of whatever he was requisitioning, there was a risk of jammed minds.

      (It’s been years since I even thought about that novel. Maybe I ought to re-read it — suddenly thinking of the parallels between the plastic suburb of Camazotz and the society in Lois Lowry’s The Giver).

      1. When they made the movie a few years ago, they deliberately fouled-up the two big points in the book. (Not that anyone was surprised, since it was Hollyweird.)

        1. Oh, they F’d up a LOT more than that. Madeleine D’Engle provided descriptions of the characters, and NONE of the actors resembled them in the slightest. They made Charles Wallace Murry adopted. Why? What did that add to the story? They left out important scenes and themes (the whole chapter and a half of Ixchel, for starters) and shoved in a lot of BS that didn’t make any sense.

          Bah! They all deserve to be exiled to Camazotz. The ORIGINAL one!

          1. The lady I was dithering about asking out at the airport, had a daughter named Ixchel. cute kid.
            I now realize said kid is in her twenties now. oy

  20. This is not to say (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT) that reality was different for me

    You should have seen my teacher when she realized I thought WWIII (nuclear) HAD happened “about fifty years ago.”)

    You realize, of course, that another explanation for this is you are from a slightly different timeline, with additional splodiness in the Korean War era (Say, if Turman got sick or something, and Mac got the nod to start off on his Nuke China proposals to reverse his retreats from the Yalu, then Stalin jumped in).

    1. Yes, President Bob Turman. Jumped in when Dewey got assassinated and beat that Harry guy with the similar last name in 1948.

      Why are you looking at me funny?

      1. Hypothetically, if my surname was Turman, and I was President, the ‘sickness’ might well have been congenital. 😀

    2. If she was twelve, and thought the nuclear war was fifty years prior, you need to shift the nuclear warfare some decades earlier than Korea.

      Which requires some difficult shifting of developments in physics earlier, and possibly a cleft point centuries earlier. Or Aliens did it.

      1. Considering how often discoveries were left idle, that seems entirely possible.

        Two examples.
        One. The anesthetic nature of nitrous oxide was noted upon its discovery. Nitrous oxide used as an anesthetic started… about 70 years later.

        Two. The electrical relay was invented in the 1830’s. “Relay logic” on significant scale happened rather later.

        Make one wonder what dots are lying around nowadays, just waiting to be connected.

        1. The modern dots are one of the more interesting question.

          Part of my conservatism is not knowing the physics well, part is I don’t have the history down cold, part is not being sure exactly when Sarah was born. (Another part is that you also may need airplanes to deliver the things, and frankly it isn’t entirely clear to me that the Soviet ability to wage their side of a nuclear war was ever much more than fraud. It might not be 1940s tech in the 1920s, it might be 1960s tech in the 1920s.)

          My understanding is that some of the designs used explosives to compress metals. There are two lines of physics discovery I know enough about to raise questions, but not enough about to answer.

          Explosions are partly a fluid mechanics problem. I understand that a lot of the stuff about shockwaves was actually figured out /during/ WWII, and that fluid mechanics had serious theoretical issues during the 19th century. Prandtl solved some of those a few decades before WWII with boundary layer theory, which probably needed time to percolate to permit those shockwave physics discoveries. I have huge gaps in my knowledge of the history of fluid mechanics, so I could not tell you how much the developments of the nineteenth century could be compressed. I suspect that black powder could not be useful, and that the Haber process might be another necessary dependency with a long time to spread before the math of synthetic explosives is sufficiently understood.

          Metal compression. That is in solid mechanics. And you can definitely point to long missed discoveries in that field. But there was also a lot of work done, and some of the early stuff seems partly the result of institutional research. Which institutions have a known history, you might need to move their creation earlier to get the early developments that the later developments built on, and it is not clear how much you could justify that way. Forex, the French schools did start with prior work from more widely scattered individuals. But it is not clear that Navier, Columb, etc. would have been able to produce so much if they were purely working as individuals and raising their own funding. I’m certain that the people who built the bomb would have needed some fairly sophisticated theory of solid mechanics. But I could not tell you exactly how sophisticated, only that the mid 19th century stuff almost certainly would not be enough. You’d probably need to know how many elastic constants your fissile alloy needs to have measured, and how to measure them to the necessary precision. And be able to cope with the nonlinearities of the plasticity.

          I think the 19th developments in vector math might also be some degree of necessary to the physicists.

          My writer hat doesn’t really see the point of writing an AU which this line of thought might justify. It feels like a lot of work, and a payoff that does not seem necessary.

          1. If you want a decent layman’s summary of the physics and mechanics of the plutonium bomb, you would do well with Richard Rhodes’ The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

            The Los Alamos Primer touches on the issues, too, particularly *why* the metal compression was used to make a critical mass. OTOH, it’s not oriented to the layman. I skipped a good chunk of the math; haven’t needed that level of math for several years.

            1. I’ve read the Primer. I’ll probably want to read the other if I can’t lay to rest the urge to provide a more complete answer.

              1. I found Rhodes a good writer on this. His Dark Sun on the hydrogen bomb gets into the spying, Oppenheimer’s fall from grace, and Teller.

                1. Right Los Alamos Primer is serious stuff, Making of the Atomic bomb well worth getting. Dark Sun is a lot slower, and Rhodes clearly thinks Teller was a major jerk. Which may be true, but he had a point.

        2. A lot of stuff laid around ignored for decades… sometimes forgotten and rei-invented all over again. Until the 20th century society-as-a-whole was remarkably resistant to innovation despite the Industrial Revolution.

        3. Sometimes the problem is that technology just can’t use the innovations yet.

          I remember reading a piece quite a while back in which a software designer was talking about a game that he’d recently finished. The designer was talking about how his team had accomplished some of the work on the game by taking technical ideas that had been theorized quite a while earlier, but that the technology of the time simply hadn’t been able to make practical. By the time his team discovered the earlier work describing those ideas, the technology had advanced, and it was now possible to make it all function properly.

          1. There are computations that can be run in minutes today, that would have taken centuries to complete on the computers of the 1980’s. The latest-and-greatest computers I worked with in the early 1990’s couldn’t have decoded an MP3 file in real time. There WERE no MP3 files. What would have been the point?

            DOOM wouldn’t have been possible five years before it was developed. The hardware required to run it didn’t exist.

            1. computations that can be run in minutes today, that would have taken centuries to complete on the computers of the 1980’s


              In early ’90s I wrote software for engineers that used the minimum path algorithm. Took 3 hours to do one run on 50 to 80 nodes to set it up (that was just the math. It took minimal time to transfer the data to the dynamic matrices needed to run the math.) Then minutes to run their solutions. Just meant that it was a two step process. The 3 hour process was only ran if network substantially changed. Solutions ran every time a haul contract was needed; or every sale. Better than what they had. Which had evolved from mapping it by hand, to something on spreadsheets. Spreed sheets took weeks to setup the paths, & a day or more to run solutions.

              Now? Large minimum path solutions are running on the fly regularly. There is (or was? early ’00s) a company locally called “On-Time Solutions/Systems”. All they did was write modules for others software. Reports were they had huge Navy contracts. Never worked for them. Talked to the owner briefly late ’03. Never followed through.

              That is a 10 year improvement in hardware ability. I haven’t kept up on the math side. I doubt the algorithm has changed. It breaks down to basic matrix math. It is the shear repetitions needed to calculate a large 80×80 matrix that took the time.

            2. I’m in the midst of reading TMisHM, and a lot of what Mycroft Holmes could do in 2076 has been surpassed many years ago. Fortunately(?), self-consciousness in AI’s hasn’t happened yet. (I’ll go with OldNFO’s take that it’s a bad idea to give lethal weapons to an AI.)

              1. By the way, I finished my comparison of the magazine version to the novel version, and once they were formatted the same, there’s only a few K difference in file sizes. I’m guessing Heinlein just removed some redundant adjectives here and there, tightening things up, like he did with SIASL.

                Dang. I had high hopes for that 78Kb…

          2. Sure. We’re seeing it now. All “cloud computing” is the Return of the Mainframe…. except that now we have the hardware (memory, CPU, storage, and especially communication capacity) that you don’t have to move the necessary processing power out to a thousand different computers sitting on each desktop. The dumb terminal has become the browser.

            And we’re seeing users willing to surrender control over what they can do back to an IT “elite”. Someone needs to reprint the “Bastard Operator From Hell” essays.

            http://bofh.bjash.com/

            And someone did.

            1. > The dumb terminal has become the browser

              When the Web thing came out I looked at how HTML worked, and told the cow-orkers the “browser” was just a graphic terminal emulator, same as the emulators the users connected to the Unix servers with. “NO! NO! All new wonder technology!”

              Other than the utterly trivial “follow a link” function, nope, terminal emulators, neener neener.

              Of course that was before umpty WWW “standards” made web browsers so complex we’re basically down to three core engines for the entire market…

            2. BOFH

              I Knew It!!!!. My absolutely first computer class the computer center had someone like this, I just know it. I hated that class. I despised that class. I loathed that class. I refused to have anything to do with computers … Which is why I ended up writing software for 35 years! Yep. Figure that one out …

              *Grin* – absolute Truth.

        4. That inability to see the obvious was a critical element of Ted Sturgeon’s short, “It Was Nothing–Really!”

        5. Considering how often discoveries were left idle, that seems entirely possible.

          It’s not enough for something to exist– it has to exist, and be known by someone who also knows of the existence of a related problem, and there has to be a low enough cost on all levels for people to try it. (And then someone else has to hear that it worked.)

          For example, my dad was working with cattle for at least 30 years, before he ran into someone who suggested feeding the cattle in the evening to avoid night-time births.

          It works. Basically, cows tend to not have babies at feeding time, and for about six-eight hours afterwards, but have more calves about six hours before they usually eat.

          Figuring backwards, you have to have both a small enough herd that feeding them isn’t an all-day thing, but that you are actively breeding, and have tried feeding both in the morning and at night, AND have kept track of when the calves are born well enough to sort out the noise (first and second calves are pretty much random) and overcome pain-in-the-neck bias. (I swear, it FEELS like there were always at least three calves born at 3AM the morning before anything important.)

          1. Aye, someone has have the dots to connect AND have it dawn on them to connect them. The relay computer not happening makes sense – mathematics had to catch up, and then catch on, and so on.

            Anesthesia? That was weird as it was noted right away… and ignored. Granted, nitrous is of limited use and finding other anesthetics so long before antiseptic surgery might have eased pains but caused deaths. One particular “ether jag” happened at a very convenient time in that regard.

        1. “First we had World War 1, then World War 3, then World War 2 -”

          “Wait, what?!?

          “Look, there was an accident involving a diplomat and a time machine, okay?”

          – inspired by Hitchhiker’s Guide

            1. Like I said, it was inspired by Hitchhiker’s Guide. “Makes more sense than it should” could practically be the tagline for Mr. Adams’s writing.

          1. No. I thought it was all much earlier.
            Hell, I was startled the other day realizing I was born LESS than 20 years after the end o WWII. It seemed like ancient history when I was little. never questioned it.

            1. So instead of “1, 3, 2” it would have been “3, 1, 2?” Eh, close enough for the joke to still work. 😉

              Although the thought of having nukes for the first world war and being stuck with much less advanced weapons for the next one does remind me of Einstein’s quote about WW4.

            2. Born in ‘50’s. My Dad, currently 94 y.o., WWII vet, ruined me by telling little me that the khaki outfit was his Civil War uniform. Never got any dates right on history tests.

            1. Oh, so, somebody who can be exquisitely polite and a total asshole at the same time.

      2. So for the Alternate time line we need the Bomb somewhere in the 20’s or maybe 30’s as I think our hostess would have been 12 in the early to mid 70’s. Can we do that? Maybe, We need neutrons discovered much sooner (they’re about 1932 our timeline). But people had been missing stuff about Radioactivity, and neutrons way back into the early 20’s late teens. So maybe a world with a longer WWI? Or even better without WWI so we don’t kill off half of the decent physicists in the trenches. Heck its not as far fetched as some Alternate history I’ve read 🙂 .

  21. They’re not the majority. They still, largely, have control of the “official” culture, though frankly they’re so bloody incompetent that we’re starting to do things under/over/around that actually count for more.

    I wonder if more and more official culture is meaningless and has been for longer than most people realize.

    I’ve been writing a blog post about a different definition of author success inspired by Ann Bannon. Most of you probably don’t know Ms. Bannon or the name of her most iconic creation. But, I want you to imagine in your mind’s eye a butch lesbian.

    Odds are, you’re imagining her Beebo Brinker. Yes, butches existed before she wrote the first book featuring the character, but for a lot of lesbians post the publication of I am a Woman she became the woman they were looking for, either to be with or become. She distilled the 50’s bar butch into one character that still resonates 70 years on, keeping her six pulp novels in print (and with excellent pulpish covers on Kindle, seriously take a look if you love pulp).

    So, what does that have to do with official culture not being influential. Two quick excerpts from her intro to the 2001 (I think) edition of I am a Woman (http://www.annbannon.com/books-intro-iamawoman.html):

    Up there on that long-ago roof, I didn’t foresee Beebo’s future, but I did try to glimpse my own. Looking out at all those bright electric blooms spread at my feet, I pondered: if each one were a reader, how many would remember the name of Ann Bannon? Would I ever come back to Manhattan some day to acclaim? Reluctantly I acknowledged the realities: I was writing paperback pulp fiction. The Beatles had yet to glamorize the “Paperback Writer.” The stories were ephemeral; even the physical stuff of the books was so fragile that it hardly survived a single reading.

    and a bit later

    The same critical scorn that judged the work of us paperback writers as unworthy of attention, had seemed to guarantee us privacy, the chance to explore and experiment, to say the unsayable, and to fade away peacefully from the publishing scene when the paperbacks finished their popular run.

    Official literary culture looked down on pulp novels, which gave those writers the freedom to create iconic characters. Maybe it stands out a little be more with works like Bannon because that is a major factor discussed, but it was true of Robert E. Howard (imagine barbarian, does it look like a popular image of Conan) and Edgar Rice Burroughs, among others.

    Lots of people go into official culture to change the world. I’m convinced, at least in the age of mass distribution of media (which we are still in, even if centralized mass media is failing) that is 100% wrong. Write a pulp novel about character you want to meet or be. As Bannon put it, “Would she would be like the woman I had contrived out of sheer need so she would at least exist in the world, even if only in the pages of my book?”

    If you think she, he, or it needs to exist, write a Kindle novel with her, him, or it in the novel. You’ll be amazed at how many people resonate with that need and help you create it outside the pages.

    1. The Familiars series. It’s pulp, minus the pulp covers. I write at pulp speed,* and I don’t care what critics say. Fans like it, and I’ve gotten notes saying that it helped people get through tough times. That’s what escapist, fun books are supposed to do.

      *I say that in part because dang it, I’m 44K words into the 16th (!!!) book in the series and it has me by the throat and won’t let me go. This is . . . awkward because Day Job starts next week.

      1. And I’m wondering how you write that fast. What have you been feeding your Muse? Can I buy some of it for mine?

      2. Critics can kiss my sweaty, erm, armpit. I love the series, and yes, they’ve helped me drag my sorry carcass out of a metaphorical hole a few times. I’m only annoyed that they tend to drop on days when I’m going to be very tired the next day as I’m not going to bed before i finish it.

          1. If it were for Havey, it would have been one of the fuzzy ones, and would have been an asthma attack magnet in about 4.3 seconds. Generally my cats prefer old knotted socks to purpose built toys anyway, and I’m sure you don’t need any of mine 🙂

            1. Havey loves my jacket ties. Right now it’s the ONLY things he’ll play with. So, picture me in 90degree weather, putting on a hoodie for half an hour, so he can play.

              1. I live in central Florida, it’s always in the 90’s. I do keep a heavy flannel jacket in the car though, as stores and restaurants jack the A/C up way too high. I’ve seen frost on the INSIDE of windows in July here.

                1. Oh yes. As we contemplate a move SE in 4 or 5 years (at my age, you start planning NOW. As in, we need to get rid of a lot of crap. BUT it’s looking like I should go lower altitude.) it’s the air conditioning that terrifies me.
                  My brain straight up stops working at around 70 degrees. I’m a reverse Terry Pratchett troll. Once, in an air conditioned hotel lobby that must have been 50 degrees, I had trouble remembering my name….

                  1. Those novelty Santa hats you’ll start seeing all too soon? If they don’t have an annoying plastic mesh on the inside, they work rather well. Might not be best for in public, but they work well as nightcaps – of the non-potable sort.

      3. Speed of composition has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with author individuality and self-training. As long as the work is good, speed is a process improvement. If the work isn’t good, speed gives you more time to try again.

      4. helped people get through tough times

        Emphatic yes! Helped me make it through the Road Trip From Hell when post-op complications had me going (temporarily) blind in the affected eye, and waiting for pressure to stabilize was the only thing that kept it from being permanent. Familiars kept me from panicking.

        As long as you write Familiars, I’ll read them

    2. A lot of us are here because Robert Heinlein wrote a dozen novels that were maybe a half-step up from pulp, but wholesome, and smuggled them into school libraries.

      It has been said that most of the engineers that made the Apollo moon landings happen were inspired by those novels. And that if he hadn’t written them, there wouldn’t have been enough engineers in America to make it happen. How’s that for changing the world?

  22. AARRGGHH!!! I can’t help it. I keep hearing ‘When psychosis took over the culture’ to the tune of ‘My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean’ and it’s STUCK IN MY HEAD! The writer part keeps trying to make up more lyrics, no matter how many times I tell it to shut the F up.

    1. “When psychosis took over the culture,
      It wanted all things to be Red,
      It mugged everything that was wholesome,
      And left it just lying for dead.”

      Sorry.

    2. You think that’s bad? I’ve been fighting the urge to re-write the Wayne Newton hit Dankeschoen using Schadenfreude

      I blame it on having recently watched a vintage Jack Benny show in which Newton guest starred …

  23. I’m taking a great deal of pleasure in writing my first novel and making sure there are sound economic principles as part of the story line.

  24. Now I just remembered a “science fiction,” novel titled, “The Big Eye,” by someone named Max. It was one of those, “Real author writes brilliant SF novel,” things and I want to say it came out in the early to mid -60s. (I read it much, much later). It opened with everyone camping out in the countryside because there’s an international crisis
    and everyone knows the “Inevitable Nuclear War,” will begin any moment now.

    Uh huh. Right.

    The rest of the novel involved the discovery of an incoming planet that will destroy Earth in two years and how this brings everyone to their senses and most of mankind’s problems are solved because there’s no reason not to any more. Everyone GOES OUTSIDE TO WATCH the Big Eye’s final approach. (The rogue planet has a giant formation that looks just like a big eye staring down at Earth). Of course it turns out the Brave Scientists knew it was going to miss all along, but used the story it would not to unite Earth.

    (Pounds head on the desk after finishing).

      1. Had a boot camp instructor who pulled something like that, though.

        Didn’t realize it had been done so much that the only consideration it got was that he may have been given the really obnoxiously connected guys who couldn’t be allowed to fail.

      2. That may be being kind to it. I read it the way Jean Kerr described watching some Broadway plays: “….sitting there, fearing for your sanity, while all around you people are beating their way to the exits.”

        I mean, after a few days’ worth of observations, some bright high school/college kids with slide rules would have worked out the orbit and gotten the news to some contrarian newspaper guy. Not to mention the $#@!! thing is about to hit the Earth (people think) and there are no gravitational effects whatsoever.

        In general I’ve found a “brilliant SF novel,” written by a “literary,” or even just “mainstream,” author is almost certainly a hot mess. At best.

        1. That’s my objection as well. Especially as things got more refined. A preliminary calculation would only need three somewhat time-separated observations if I recall correctly. Conspiracies with stuff that can’t be readily seen are hard enough to believe. With stuff everyone can see? Riiiiight. And now add various countries (or universities..) competing and checking things and going gonzo with the news.

          1. Nod.

            Now just imagine the likelihood of Soviet astronomers joining into this conspiracy of astronomers. [Sarcastic Grin]

        2. Andrew Klavan, discussing his fantasy novel Another Kingdom, said he had made a particular effort to read major works in the genre purely to avoid that sort of tripping over the memes. I wondered just which novels in the genre he had read and was impressed by his willingness to sacrifice* for his Art.

          *I doubt he considered it a sacrifice, as I got no sense he thought he was slumming but rather recognizing that genres have their backgrounds which merit respect from “literary” bigfoots.

    1. Actual result of trying such plans in the real world: “Brave Scientists Executed by Firing Squad While World Applauds”

      1. I doubt it would get as far as a firing squad. I suspect it would be more like Ivan Vorpatril’s warning to the Arquas:

        The news that you all have managed to release a mutant alien fungus into our biosphere could get you torn limb from limb. The Dismemberment of Mad Emperor Yuri would be nothing to it. The angry mobs would fill the city. They’d tear the pieces to pieces. And the military couldn’t stop them because most of the military would be joining them.

    2. I vaguely recall a short story — Asimov, perhaps? — about scientists faking an alien invasion threat to force nations to put aside their differences and pull as one. I am pretty sure it would predate that novel but for obvious reasons I am not about to trouble myself trying to dig it up.

      Coerreia’s Grimnoir is far more credible projection of how nations would respond.

      1. If you want a good story of that type you want, “When Worlds Collide,” and “After Worlds Collide.” Now those were fun.

        1. Yes, those were good reads (though the editions I had in paperback still had era-specific-english weird hyphenations, like “to-morrow”), but looking back it has a bit too much “Good Men In Charge” for my current sensibilities.

          1. More like the people of the world, realizing they really are going to die, awake from their long nightmare and apply the obvious, common-sense solutions their fears had made impossible. Like just sitting down and negotiating fair compromises.
            Like I said, I read it in a sort of morbid fascination, along the lines of, “it can’t get any worse, can it?”

      2. Let me guess: The scientists knew, if they could just get everyone to let them apply scientific principles of governance, that they could centrally plan the perfect world. This time for sure!

          1. My theory of trust in professions: The ones that retain trust best are the ones who screw up least in how they use it. And those aren’t necessarily the ones thinking about retaining trust and reputation.

          2. I think is was Robert Frezza who wrote that the behavior of socio-political groups can be better understood if you assume that each has been taken over by a secret cabal bent on discrediting it.

  25. Yep. Their world is coming apart. And, as Lina Lamont might have said, they cain’t stand it. Thus the Terror and cancel culture.

  26. I remember two old usenet conversations touching on this.

    In one of them David Friedman and I discussed, briefly, the idea of a fantasy where the rules of economics were different. And it would have to be a fantasy, not science fiction. (There was something about “What if the law of comparative advantage did not hold.”)

    In another I remember Ric Locke confessing to being an old-school segregationist/racist who still felt queasy when he saw a mixed-race couple. He was telling the socialism-believers that they had to suck it up and get over it, just like he and his fellow believers in segregation had to suck it up and get over it. Because their side had lost, and the other side had won.

      1. I’m not surprised; Ric strongly implied that he considered that emotional response of his to be an inappropriate one.

    1. I never heard anything like that from Ric either. The worst I might accept if that’s accurate is that he was brought up one way and recognized what it did to his expectations and had to consciously “get over it.”

      Of course, to the extent that (conservative) people when I was a child thought that races shouldn’t mix, it was explained away as people who are different are going to have problems. Unequally yoked. Right? And as Sarah pointed out, these days it’s the woke telling us that people of different races are unassailably different from each other to the point of being unable to understand the lives of their own children.

  27. I’m going to defend Greg Costikyan, the author of that short story. He’s no Marxist loony. He wrote a brilliant age-of-Imperialism wargame, _Pax Brittannica_, which has a snappy and spirited defense of imperialism in the rulebook.

    I remember that story, and I think he was trying to gently point out that world events have a lot of contingent causes, and that if some accidents had gone the other way and the Soviets had won, we’d have called it inevitable.

    I do think Sarah’s point is solid, but I don’t think Greg is part of the problem.

    1. I think her point is, even those of the right were often of the opinion they (the Commies, usually via the CCCP) were going to win, for a time. You got Stories from the point of the commies taking over and either being brought down, or those fighting to end them, or whatnot. The overlaying theme though, for a time, was they were going to get far more control than they every did/could, and it was seen as inevitable. How much and how far it went was sometimes open, but it permeated a lot of stuff that they were

    2. I understand what you’re saying, but if he didn’t get the reason it was accepted was the left’s need to self-soothe and also if that was not his intent, he’d have been SHOCKED by the discussions in writers’ groups about how this would be a so much better world.

  28. I just wish there were good option when it comes to health insurance and health care.

      1. Yeah. Right now I work part time so I don’t have insurance but Medicaid told me I make too much money so I’m at a loss as what to do next.

        1. Same here. I’m not rich enough to afford health care, and not poor enough for the government to pay for it.

        2. For such comfort as it offers, most research indicates that Medicaid provided coverage is worse than no insurance at all. I believe (it’s been a long while since I looked at the reports) it is because reimbursement rates are so low that you are essentially only going to be seen by the likes of Springfield’s Dr. Nick.

          The Trump administration has approved “short-term” coverage plans, essentially coverage for up to 364 days, that reportedly offer pretty good deals. Having reached Medicare I haven’t followed this as closely as I might, so I recommend you do diligence but this is a sort of a start, even if it predates final passage of the rule:

          What is Trump’s New Short-Term Health Insurance Order?
          [SNIP]
          By increasing the maximum length of a short-term policy from three months to 364 days, people who might otherwise be uninsured may be able to purchase short-term coverage instead. These people include:

          individuals who missed the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period and who don’t qualify for a special enrollment period

          individuals who have lost their jobs and can’t afford COBRA health insurance

          individuals who are between jobs and don’t have access to employer-based insurance

          students who are taking time off from school

          individuals who don’t have in-network access to their preferred providers through an ACA policy

          individuals who only have access to a single insurer under the ACA

          individuals who can’t afford the premiums of an ACA-compliant policy

          [SNIP]

          The HHS fact sheet on the proposed rule says that in the fourth quarter of 2016, a short-term, limited duration policy cost about $124 a month, while an ACA-compliant plan cost $393 a month without subsidies, a difference of $269 per month, or $3,228 per year. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found even bigger differences when obtaining quotes for a 40-year-old male in some cities. The least expensive short-term plan in Chicago, for example, costs just $55 per month (the most expensive, however, costs $573) while the least expensive bronze marketplace plan, without subsidies, costs $305, a difference of $250 per month.

          [END EXCERPT]

          There are drawbacks and limitations, so read the whole thing then search out information on what is currently available. DO NOT RESPOND TO ANY ON-LINE INSURANCE INFO OFFERS — that can get your contact info put on a list and every Tom, Dick, and Harriett peddling insurance in your area will be phoning you until you’ve bought something simply to Make. It. Stop. There’s an excellent likelihood somebody in your church community (assuming you have one) is either an insurance broker or can recommend one, so you might explore that route. There are probably other routes to that destination, such as hanging out i the hospital lunchroom and chatting up those you meet but I don’t know of them.

          Until then: stay healthy, my friend.

          1. Okay – searching on Short-Term Health Insurance 2020 turned up some useful looking links, most notably this:

            The 5 Best Short-Term Health Insurance Providers of 2020
            [SNIP]
            We reviewed STM plans for a dozen of the largest health insurers in the U.S. to find the ones with the best options. You can decide if an STM policy is right for you, and which one best fits your particular needs.

            The 5 Best Short-Term Health Insurance Providers of 2020
            Everest: Best Overall
            IHC Health Group: Best for Customized Coverage
            UnitedHealthcare: Best for Longest Policy Options
            LifeShield: Best for Mental Health and Wellbeing
            Pivot Health: Best Value

            [END EXCERPT]
            The remainder of the article gives reasons for selecting each insurer, pros and cons of their offerings, useful information and why they chose that plan.

            As before, i advise finding a local insurance broker able to work through options for you. Such a professional will probably be able to find plans you wouldn’t otherwise learn of and may (check this when “hiring” a broker) be willing and able to assist you in filing claims/receiving benefits.

  29. Well I grew up reading mostly light murder mysteries my favorites were the ones where the animals solved the case. When I branched out into SciFi it was Dale Brown and Clancy so the stories fit what I knew. Russia bad US good and wins in the end. I read Orwell and understood his message. I got introduced to fantasy with Mercedes Lackey and her magical horses. Then I moved here where there is a SciFi collection that fills the house to overflowing and probably better equipped than most libraries. That lead me to Baen and well you and everyone else. A little over a decade later I am in one of your books. I didn’t go to high school so I skipped the indoctrination. I guess I am lucky I have not encountered many books where Red wins. Still its been a hell of a ride. Last few years the medications have screwed with my memory making it difficult to read. If I start and set it down even for a day I forget what I have read but I am getting better and I have so much catching up to do.

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