Tools of the Trad

I seem to be incurably addicted to making, doing, changing and improving things.

At some point, like maybe ten years ago, I finally was able to buy the right implement to do whatever it was I was attempting. I have no idea what it was, at this time, but probably something to do with faux-finishes.

Before that, getting the proper implements was never possible. I have realistically marbled tables and other surfaces with two old brushes, a bunch of q-tips, and some crayons and half a oil set from the thrift store. I used as paint whatever old stuff I found lying about, or happened to pick up at the “free paint distro” that used to happen (Does it still happen?) once a year. Oh, I also haunted the “mistints” isle. I might still do.

Last year I finished additional bookcases (the library was bursting) with home made chalk paint, because the price of the real thing made me speak Latin and intone several exorcisms I never learned and am not prepared to practice.

I don’t know if any real family had as a motto “I contrive” (A family in Georgette Heyer’s work did) but if there was one I’m probably related to them.

In fact, most of my interior decorating (not to mention dressing back before I looked like a potato) consists of my looking at some bizarrely expensive thing (and please, do realize I consider paying more than $20 for say an evening dress a terrible waste) sighing, and then spending a day thinking about how to make it for a tenth the price or less.

However, having used the right tools once or twice…. Well, it’s easier. And sometimes there is a real and obvious difference in the results. As in, if you don’t use the right tools, the thing looks kind of sort of right, but once you use the right tools you go “oh, obviously.”

Sometimes it’s just because doing it with “found objects” takes so long and requires so much effort that you don’t actually have what it takes for the final 10%.

Anyway, if the house deal goes through (Some troubling stuff found on one of the inspections, which I can’t fix myself, and is costly) or even if it doesn’t, the next couple of months are going to contain a lot of fixing, cleaning and painting, to get one house ready for sale, while the other will need some touch up for us to be happy living in. (If we don’t get this house,we’re still going to pack, paint and set up this one for sale, then rent an apartment for six months or so, until this house sells and we find somewhere to move to. I mean, I know I need to go lower altitude. It’s just the timing that will change. And I’ll be honest, I’d be less insane if we sold first. But who knows?)

Most of the stuff I need to do I can get the right tools and materials. But where that fails, I’ll have enough knowledge and understanding (by now) to contrive.

It’s not different for mental tools. In my oh so cherished fantasy of sending my mind back in time to when I was 20, note the deal would be “I get to take the skills I’ve acquired with me.” Why? Because at this point — and providing life stops interrupting every five minutes — I can write saleable books while tired, while sick, possibly while dead. I have internalized a bunch of mental tools on “how you do this.” When I was 20 I had more time, arguably was more methodical in proofreading, and had more enthusiasm and energy, but I lacked the tools. And what I produced took more effort and often showed thumb marks and badly mitered joints.

For some things, like the fact I’m stuck working in a language that was not my first or second, there is no remedy. I just must be that much better at using it, much closer to understanding how the thing works, so I can do consciously what would otherwise be subconscious.


Recently one of my young friends came to me with an astonishing story. One of his young friends had no idea who the combatants were in the Civil War. No, she didn’t know what civil war meant. She thought it was just a name. You know like it was an exceptionally polite war.

We are now in the fourth generation from whom the tools of building civilization, or even of maintaining it have been withheld. Yes, four, and I’m the middle one.

Most of my adult life has been learning things that someone should have taught me but didn’t for whatever reason.

Okay, mom is excused for not teaching me to cook on two heads — first, she was in fear of what I would do if given full access to cutting implements and fire (and frankly naive, as of course I knew what to do with both, and where to find them too); second, she assumed I’d have cooks and maids or at least someone to come and “do” for me once a day, which would include leaving dinner made and on warm. She thought this because I entered college. From her experience it was reasonable — she is also excuse for never teaching me dress making both because she can’t stand to see someone fumble at something she’s proficient at and because I had no interest in it till I was in my thirties.

I should have learned from grandad how to make my own varnish and also actual furniture making (instead of just refinishing.) That’s entirely on me. I never made time.

But there are are other things. I mean, husband and I to an extent were thrown in to the world with no clue how to do the most basic things, like home maintenance or how to clean with proper products, how to take care of clothes, how to do anything with our savings other than let it sit in the bank, how to organize and sort files and records. It goes on. (I do still tend to use bleach for most things. It’s cheap. I have at least learned what it will damage.) Our first ten years of marriage would make a good sitcom, as they had a repeating pattern: figure out we need to do something; extrapolate how it can be done; invest untold amount of time and effort into doing thing; find out after that it can be done in a simpler and cheaper way. And then people wonder why I curse.

And so many times, we just come up on something that must be done — even now — and have no clue how to get to the place where we can even think about how to do it. Teaching the kids what we never learned has been fun, too.

Heck, even in my religion — and I taught it was a young woman — I keep coming across these massive gaps where no one ever taught me what to do or why. As for the education my kids got: pfui.

In the same way, I’ve spent most of my adult life learning history, grammar, natural science and the basics of things that I supposedly learned the advanced form for with my degree, but without anyone ever teaching me the fundamentals.

Kind of like part of my degree is the study of literature but until I read Dwight Swain Techniques of the Selling Writer I’d never realized that books are composed of conflict and reaction units. (No, not physical conflict, though heck, you could sell that.) Instead I tried to fit them into the structure of plays and wondered why it wasn’t working.

Because no one had ever taught me the basics. I mean, I knew how to do a lot of advanced things, even as a beginning writer. I just had no clue how to do the basic things. And it showed.

For four generations our culture and education has been in the hands of an unholy hybrid of Marxism and Rousseau’s Romanticism. (The two are related in that both believe that natural man left to his own devices creates paradise.)

I can understand how those scarred by the long war of the 20th century would decide that they were going to ditch all the evil bad things in civilization and let the children grow up “naturally” so they would be sweet and innocent angels. (Spit.) I understand but I don’t forgive. If they thought what they saw in the war was the result of Western Civilization, they’d never studied other civilizations or for that matter hid in a playground and watched the children be “natural.”

Then the cascade started. People who only half learned could only half teach. On top of which the doubts instilled in them about the purpose of civilization made them teach less than half. And the next generation knew less. And then less.

More than once, as an inquisitive student, I’d go to my teacher and ask why something worked the way it did or didn’t work the way they said, only to be given a glib explanation I knew was wrong. I must have been 11 the first time I realized the teacher had no more clue than I did. (This was a good thing. It set me on a path of researching and investigating on my own.)

By the time my kids were in school it had become more so, partly because to justify themselves, and abate the feeling they were incompetent, people derived entire theories on why they shouldn’t learn the basics, learning the basics was bad, and you could be so much better by learning naturally.

I don’t have enough words to revile the “immersion” method of language learning, particularly was applied in our schools. Yes, sure “but the military used it”– yeah, but the military could enforce LIVING in the language. It also — which seems to elude most people — does teach people grammar and vocabulary in formal classroom settings.

What they do with the kids–

You see, I grew up in a place where a lot of my ancestors had grown up. Which means I know the capabilities of the family. Look, yeah, there’s a range, and sure, there are sports (and even known sports. Like the things that come out of younger son’s mouth resemble my paternal grandfather’s malappropisms. In a family gifted in words, both of them can mangle the simplest sentence… but only in speaking. In writing they’re completely fluent. I’m sure there’s some short circuit in the skull. Just not sure where.) But my family, time out of mind, has been really good at a few things. Sure, medicine and engineering. (Though I think I rebelled, as did cousin who is a lawyer and cousin who is a psychologist) but at a more basic level, we’re all good at words and history. The rest varies, but those are common.

So I was mildly alarmed when older son, in third year of French knew not one word, couldn’t carry on a conversation, could only repeat memorized phrases in certain situations.

So I did a deep dive into HOW he’d been learning.

Just so you know, they were given magazines for French teens and encouraged to leaf through them. Oh, they were also taught songs and plays. Which they didn’t understand because nothing was ever translated.

And the “total immersion” was maybe an hour a day or less, after which they could go back to normal life.

Are there people who can learn like that? Probably. I suspect my brother could. But I couldn’t have. I know this for a fact, because it’s how they tried to teach me German. Eventually I repaired it and spoke fluently, but it didn’t stick. Because I never learned the basics well enough. I can sort of read in German (with a dictionary) but I wouldn’t attempt it for anything complex.

After smoke stopped coming out of the top of my head, I took a summer and taught him French. The way I learned it. Boring, painful, annoying, often stupid, but it worked. I.e. I gave him lists upon lists of vocabulary to memorize. I taught him grammar and sentence construction. Once he reached “can limp along” stage I handed him the Three Musketeers and a few french mysteries in the original language and a French/English dictionary. And I started speaking French with him whenever the two of us were alone. (Which got us some interesting looks in our little grocery store.) The next year, he had As in French, and at the end of the year he passed the IB exam for French which was scored in France.
I think as with German, because it was repair over a bad structure, it didn’t stick, and he doesn’t remember much. And it’s my fault because I didn’t realize it early enough.

Part of the unlearning are people who never learned enough to realize what works and what doesn’t trying to do things in ways that only work for a very few highly gifted individuals. That’s how we got whole word, new math, total immersion, whateverthehelltheyretryingnow all of which involved “less work for teachers” and the vague hope that unschooled children, or children who learned ‘naturally’ were just somehow ‘better.’

Kind of like what would happen if I decided my digit dyslexic, half-baked way with wood meant my making, say, a table that was lopsided and wobbly made the table better and more authentic.

The problem is that in lieu of teaching our kids history or civics, what works and what doesn’t, we let people so ignorant of how the world works that they don’t realize they’re teaching the kids the just-so story of classes and oppression which was never true like that anywhere, and the religion of “social justice” instead of the real mechanisms of history. Because they know no facts, and can’t reason, they pat themselves on the back and say they’re teaching the kids not things, but “how to think.” Except they’re not. What they’re teaching the kids is how NOT to think. They teach them that thinking “wrong” is a crime worse than murder, and therefore they can’t risk reasoning, because it might lead them to dissent from the group. And dissent from the group is the most terrible of crimes. (To be fair, this is an effect of mass-industrial-public-schooling.)

Their inability to teach, now forces them to declare the most basic tools of civilization racist and somehow oppressive. Because this is an excuse not to teach math or English. Which they can’t do because they never learned, and they’re not willing to do the work.

If you’re not alarmed by this, you might be a Marxist or a Rousseauan who believes that by unlearning everything, we will be like angels.

You might also be an idiot, who never had to deal with infants or toddlers, or in fact ignorant and half-savage people.

Honestly, I believe this is at the bottom of their sanctification of the Homeless, because by eschewing civilized life (not really, but that’s how it looks to the left. In fact the homeless are kind of like rats. Domesticated and destructive of the society upon which they feed) and destroying their reason with drugs, they are somehow superior to us, who are bound by civilization. This is why they want to inflict the homeless on every large city, creating danger and filthy conditions for people who live and work there. “Afflicting the comfortable” is supposed to make them change their ways and… I don’t know? Become homeless? As if there were some great happiness in that.

But those of us who live in the real world know that living in filth and decay is not paradise. For anyone. We know that our ancestors spent millenia creating a world that was good for humans. Which included domesticating themselves, both by selection and learning.

Those of us who lived under more primitive conditions have no desire to go back there. Nor do the idiots who are pushing us that way. They simply don’t know how to be civilized, and have decided to make a virtue of necessity.

This is going implode. And by this, I mean this shell of civilization and knowledge, and ability that surrounds us and protects us. Already, anyone in highly technical fields is being actively hindered from doing their jobs by “administrators” which is to say maleducated people who know only how to make rules about how others should do things. And since they know nothing real, those rules are often counterproductive.

Heck, even in my field — not highly technical, but specialized — editors and publishers seem convinced their job is to “teach” the public, instead of sell to the public. Partly because they have no clue HOW to sell to the public, and are in the fourth generation that lacks basic skills to do so. (Like being able to read for pleasure.) They have therefore laid down rules that make it harder to produce and publish enjoyable works.

But it’s everywhere. And in research? The time frame and conditions of the research often makes the results flawed or irreproducible.

Oh, and of course, hiring people by skin color or sexual orientation makes bridges fall.

Even teaching — My kids had two or three good teachers who had escaped somehow — is made impossible by rules and regulations that have nothing to do with teaching or learning. (So those good teachers left to work the private sector.) As for parenting– In most states the law forces you to be an helicopter parent. I lived in fear of my kids being called in when they took their walks half a mile away to buy hotdogs at six. Even though at six I’d ranged all over the village all day, and come dragging in for dinner at sunset.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. And doing it well requires tools. Mental tools. Sure, you can do it upside down and sideways, with tools you found, but you still need to have tools.

In what comes after — and I’m suspecting/hoping it’s been somewhat postponed by the unlocking most places. People are so busy traveling and gathering they haven’t paid attention to politics. But it will come. The Junta will do something so egregious it will intrude on everyone’s notice — after the implosion/explosion that waits us, we need the tools to build.

Our kids certainly don’t have them.

Absent the tools they’ll default to “not fully civilized but trying” human method of governance, and really, I’m way too old to live under the divine right of kings.

If you have children, consider a reading program on western civ and particularly American history at whatever level they can handle.

Also, find the holes in your knowledge, and fix them. We live in a place and time where that’s easy.

Go back to the basics of civilization and acquire the tools. They won’t work very well, because acquired late, but it’s better than nothing. (Later, either after we move, or in a month or so, after house is ready to stage and we camp somewhere for a few months, in an apartment or something, I intend to re-learn Latin and Greek, which I taught myself poorly and late. At that time, we’ll set up a room where other people can come and walk along. We need that. A sort of free form academia, where some teach and some learn. I will, yes, in a month or two, set up to teach writing. Yes, I will charge, and I’m sorry. It is just what it is. One way or another, we’re going to need it. I’ll try not to do more than once or twice a month, or it eats the writing.)

It’s time to get the tools. To learn to do things. Whether those things are how to make clothes, or how to speak a foreign language, they might not save you much money or they might be totally impractical.

But you’ll be learning how to learn. Learning how to claw back a little bit of civilization, and basic knowledge. And then you should pass it on. By every way you can. Lest night fall forever.

Because 2000 years of civilization are a terrible thing to waste.

Go, learn, create and do. Be not afraid. You are not less nor less accomplished than your ancestors. You’ve simply been robbed of your heritage and given instead a pot of mess.

It’s time stop unmaking and start making. Start with the tools. Mental tools and habits will make the complex structures not easy but possible.

Go do it.

466 thoughts on “Tools of the Trad

  1. Audels for Carpenters. If you have the chance, I would get those lovely books from the 30’s.

    Also, related to the main post, make friends with people who can do things, and who grew up poor enough that they know how to do things, like repair cars.

    I know many things about gardening, about houses, about carpentry, drywalling (soon to be plastering as well), plumbing, herbs, lumber jacking, and am learning many other things.

    If people wish to know, I am here, and quite a few other places. I would love to help.

    1. Audels for most everything and make the chance.

      Just measured and I’ve around 16 inches of Audels on my shelve and I honestly believe one could rebuild an early 20th century civilization out of the ruins of this one with the information therein.

      1. The early Audels were written in a heavy New England dialect that would get up the nose of modern publishers.

        At least, I think it was a dialect. Audel’s may have bought into one of the “regularized English” fads back then. Either way, some of the books took a little extra effort to read…

        1. Hum, in my opinion they were written so most with a sixth grade education and anyone with an eight grade education in the early 1900s could easily read them.

          Example picking randomly a sentence from my 1921 edition of Audels Engineers and Mechanics Guide 1; “The Valve Stem, -This is usually made of Steel and serves to transmit the motion of the eccentric rod to the valve.”

        2. I’m referring to the early ones that tortured the conjugations of “is” into weird Quaker-like forms, like “it be” instead of “it is.”

          1. That sounds like they were using the subjunctive verb forms, which no one understands any more. “If this be treason, if it were up to me,” etc.

              1. I have a taste for reading fanfiction, and I’ve seen that a lot. Not as much as I’ve seen people not knowing their past participles (“had went,” anyone?) or thinking that using “I” in a compound object means the speaker is more literate.

    2. Thank you for the offer of your wisdom. I’ve put it in my pocket, for use later.

    3. Best things I have. My daughter just bought a house and is eyeing them up. I told her to find her own.

    4. Indeed. I have wowed so many people shopping for my books and admiring my period costumes — by telling them that I have made all those elements myself: the dresses, suits, accessories and hats. And no … making those things was really not hard! I knew how to sew, to use a sewing machine, do basic embroidery and smocking … and follow instructions.
      Following instructions for stuff … it’s not that hard.

      1. Following instructions for stuff … it’s not that hard.

        I agree with you, BUT…..


        I was placed as being like crazy educated, from the whole “military experience to college education” thing, exactly because I can go A to B to C.

        I think it’s a skill, something most folks aren’t taught.

        Because seriously, my “oh hay ton of upper level credits” thing was literally “are you a trained flippin’ monkey? K, literally go along the line here….”

        but some folks really can’t do it.

        Mostly, I think folks are maimed via not being taught a skill. Maybe some folks can’t do it, but I really think most folks who think they can’t could……

        1. When I was in Afghanistan the contractor got a nitrogen generator from the flight line. While the supervisors were trying to figure out how it worked I noticed that there was a placard with the startup and shutdown procedures (hardly a steam plant startup) and another with a schematic. I spent a few minutes finding the valves and switches on the schematic and a few more finding them on the actual machine and I was able to start it up. When the supervisor asked me how I knew how to do that I said “I…read the directions” and pointed at the placard. After that I was the nitrogen generator SME.

          Of course, I’m used to the nuke standard of there’s a procedure for everything

          1. Not at all the same, yet obliquely related. Waaaaay back when (late 1960’s/early 1970’s) Pa worked at a TV station (cameraman, mainly — gave him his life-long utter and complete loathing for golf). One day he came in to work and techs had a videotape machine (2-inch, tube burning monster) somewhat apart, puzzling over it from one side. Pa looked at the other side. “Say, shouldn’t *both* filaments of this tube be glowing?”

            1. Oh, wow, you worked with the old Quadriplex video tape machines? They were the size of a refrigerator and cost over $100,000. A 15” reel of 2″ tape held an hour of video. One reel of tape cost over $200.00 so they were erased and re-used over and over. By the time I saw them in the 1970’s I think they had designed the vacuum tubes out.

              There were a number of fiddly adjustments that had to be made every time you changed tapes. Video tracking, burst phase, black level, etc.
              Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks they called it witchcraft. Now they call it golf.

              1. No, the folks Pa worked with might well have though.

                As for when… well, this was the small-ish market of Wausau, WI so things happened later.

                Granted, Wausau was Shiny and Modern compared to the backwoods of Rhinelander, WI. MANY newly minted TV broadcast folks went there as they’d hired damn near anyone (maybe not products of the Transylvanian, er TransAmerican School of Broadcasting… maybe..) and there they’d get first line of ‘experience’ on their resume to go…well… anywhere else. It was actually PAINFUL to see the video quality drop when they went from network to local sources. Fellow I knew worked there and related the station engineer would have LOVED to do more interesting stuff, but he had his hands full just keeping things from failing any faster.

  2. For me, I’m more of a specialist in my own way, so I don’t know if I’ll have time or energy to develop certain skills. So instead, I’ve been keeping eyes out for people who are strong in that skill set, and keeping professional time’s with them, and a steady stream of business.

    It costs some money, but it keeps things in good order that I either wouldn’t remember to, or wouldn’t think to, and does mean we have someone to call, that we can trust if something major needs doing.

    But it is a trade-off.

  3. I once looked at a third-grade students math homework and mentioned to a father with a kid the same age that it didn’t make sense (number bonds, weird pictures, etc.). It didn’t make sense to him either, but he was proud of it! To him, it meant his third grade son was working on really advanced techniques that even adults couldn’t comprehend.

    I’ll say that I also looked at the written answers (sentences explaining the process) the kid wrote, and while I didn’t grasp the “math”, I immediately picked up that the kid was just writing half-hearted BS and pretending to understand it.

    1. Seen “stem and leaf” yet?

      I had to dig through various common core sites to figure it out, and I suppose it works for something in someone’s head, but the booklet gave my daughter this:

      1 | 4
      2 |
      3 | 3 5 8
      4 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 6 9
      5 | 0 1 1 1

      K, what this is displaying is that the results were 14, 33, 35, 38, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 46, 49, 50, 51, 51, 51.

      Then asked for the mode, the median, etc.

      *deer in headlights expression*

      1. [stares]

        I have absolutely no idea what that grid is supposed to mean, and I generally grasp math concepts well enough if they’re given to me as a theorum or a visual example.

        It looks like a primitive’s way of breaking down numbers that are bigger than they can count on their fingers.

        1. Yeah, basically this and what Harry says.

          It is a scheme by an education cargo cultist to import college level concepts to a younger cohort.

          It may be impossible to overstate how stupidly destructive these people are, and how little we would actually lose if we simply resorted to murdering them outright. They have no idea how the subjects fit together, what learning with actual understanding is like, and blindly turn the crank on ‘experiments’ that aren’t.

          It is like a unstable numerical process, giving you a worse answer with every iteration. Unemployed blue collar workers would be better, those at least might figure out how to teach necessary information. Education majors with access to children are actively harmful.

          1. “It may be impossible to overstate how stupidly destructive these people are, and how little we would actually lose if we simply resorted to murdering them outright.”

            Please don’t say that. You are absolutely right, of course….but I’ve actually put a little bit of thought into whether it could be done with minimal collateral damage and without spinning out of control (history says it can’t, but has there ever before been such a clear demarcation?) and I hate that about myself.

              1. My difficulty is that as i drive to work or sit listening to Stan Rogers, I come up with ways to do exactly that. Terrifying. But juxtaposed with what those same folks have plainly stated they have in store for me and mine, small potatoes.
                Meanwhile also thinking of all the ways to preserve, protect and rebuild.

            1. Yeah, we can be pretty sure that the actual costs of killing would be too high.

              Looking at the likely problems, and considering only theoretically neat solutions, drastically overstates the utility of simply killing them. Our understanding of both the real problem and of the set of possible solutions are flawed, because human minds only hold reduced order models of human societies.

              We should actually prefer to look for solutions from a set that we /cannot/ theoretically describe in ‘closed form’. Sure, we can prove that the ‘closed form’ solutions are bad enough that the killing one is the best of the lot. But the left is likewise stuck on closed form answers, and discarding a lot of important real world complexities, to justify their own murderous insanity.

              I just am in an difficult emotional place in RL, usually get pretty salty about the schools, and let myself be satisfied with an accurate description of teaching quality, and did not force myself to also be correct in discussing solutions.

              1. “Yeah, we can be pretty sure that the actual costs of killing would be too high.”

                Compared to the costs of actually leaving them living among us with their goal of enslaving / killing us?

                If there was any way we could coexist with them in the reasonable belief that they would leave us alone, then yes…. but we’ve already seen that they will not and indeed cannot leave us alone.

                1. Killing all the teachers/education majors would include a few people that are not among the barbarians who ought to be killed.

                  1. Like the people who have been fighting, effectively, for the last 50 years.

                    Not overwhelming success, but there are definitely Options still around.

                    A lot of them went into Homeschool promotion.

                    1. This is one of those areas where the fact that I have something like a dozen recent RL human contacts, and am a bit personally distraught means that my first reactions are more often in the wrong-crazy part of understanding. And by recent RL human contacts, I mean people I’ve talked with, where we know each others names, in the past three months. Counting zoom and in person talking. Might be two dozen with zoom, and one without.

                      Right now, I don’t really know any primary/secondary teachers, like I don’t really know any American raised blacks. Working only off theoretical models with even a slight influence by media information war is going to underestimate the degree to which a large group is not uniform, and specifically is not uniform in favor of the left.

                      Add in stressed, scared, and salty, and my recent heated comments are explained in my eyes. Basically, I’m going to be often forgetting the appropriately accurate degree of generosity until my personal situation stabilizes a little. (Yeah, I know the issues may not be obvious here from the outside, but my self-checks don’t give the same results that even someone who knows me well in person would reach.)

                      Lotta sides to these debates are not wrong, but generally we are not going to be seeing a bunch of sane, comprehensive, prescriptive ideas about what to do right now. Even when my eventual thoughts hold up well in comparison, I’m sad, angry, and scared enough ATM that first, second, and third thoughts are often pretty flawed.

                    2. Any, my think at this exact moment is bad, because of disturbed sleep.

                      I’ve thought from date stamps that you also might be finding that a challenge. Best of luck!

      2. Took me a bit to get what that says. Basically they’ve dumped everything into buckets of tens, so, since there a ton of things in the 40’s that implies that the average is probably going to be somewhere around there.

        Would also be handyish for spotting systems that are multi-modal, if your buckets are fine enough.

        Also, I’m starting with a background of making visuals of statistical results for people with no math background at all.

        To appreciate what it actually going on here, and the power (and limitations) of it, you really need to be sitting infront of a Matlab session, where you are dynamically changing your bucket size to see what happens.

        What grade were they doing this in? I’m guessing none of them have even seen a statistical process before?

        1. Aimed at 5th graders.

          Maybe it’s a visual learners thing? Another one of the “Huh?” things that has actually been useful is “fact triangles.”
          Example: 3=1+2.

          You put three at the top of a triangle, and then one and two on either side; then you can see that three minus one is two, and three minus two is one.
          Works for multiplication, too; 12= 3*4, so 12/3=4 and 12/4=3.

          There’s also ones where you’re supposed to do something like to subtract 28 from 45, you first add two to the 28, so that’s 30, 45-30= 15, 15-2= 13, the answer is 13.
          Or when multiplying, it’s 28*5, change that to 30*5=150, minus ten so 140.

          Which appears to be the formalized, written down version of the kind of math you do in the grocery store when you’re comparing sizes.

          …which goes with a description I once heard of a lot of this stuff, it’s based on “how people who are really good at math do it in their heads.”

          1. They’ve got the causality backwards. Like thinking giving everyone a free house will make them behave like the middle class.

            How much of what’s messed up in the world right now is caused by people getting cause, effect, correlation and coincidence scrambled, I wonder?

            1. *points at what the Boomers were actually taught, in most cases*

              I’d say quite a bit. While yes, a lot of the loud mouths were willful idiots, it wasn’t helped by a lot of very lazy teachers and parents who threw their hands up and decided to Leave It To The Professionals….. even when they’d point out that every single professional they’d grown up with had, ah, less than admirable reasons for going into the job. (Example from real life, my mom’s mother complained about how the teachers had all gone into that path to avoid the WWII draft– and then trusted them to teach her children well.)

            2. I would say a lot. They keep putting Descartes before the horse – ignoring that “I think, therefore I am” requires you to think. Not simply regurgitate whatever someone tells you.

              1. *nod*

                Seriously, just basic, intro to logic, make it a math class…. it helped me with math, and the basic, formal logic– including “not supported” does not mean “false”!– would help SO MUCH!

                1. But logic would interfere with the FEELZ!


                  I suspect these are the same people who flood the paranormal romance markets with “he’s so sexy, I’ll ignore he’s evil!”

                  As if it’s impossible to be attracted to someone and still act in a rational manner.

                  1. “As if it’s impossible to be attracted to someone and still act in a rational manner.”

                    Self discipline and self control. Emotion does trump logic, and often- in practice. Its part of what makes us human. That doesn’t necessarily follow that its always (or even often) the right choice.

                    More often I used to see it as “he’s soooo ebul, but he’s pretty- I can *fix* him!” There’s a trope for that because it’s true. People really do that. And it ends just as messily as you’d expect in real life.

                    Having self discipline and self control tames those impulses down a bit, but doesn’t kill them. One could write a good and compelling tale with people that actually acted like *responsible adults* in horrible situations, dealing with emotion in the wild and not letting it control them. I remember reading one, a short story sent to our small pub I think, that dealt with it sort of like addiction. MC *wanted* certain things, but knew they were bad for him, so he didn’t. He raged, seethed, lusted, and cried on the inside, but ended up acting with good character in the end (aside from the violence, which was presented well enough).

                    There’s a market for bad boy/bad girl romance (para and non), though. It ain’t going away. I can’t exactly judge, because I have popcorn books that are excessively silly in a completely different way and makes me cackle like mad.

                    1. There may be a market for “bad boy/good girl” romance, but I prefer it to be “bad boy changes in order to gain the good girl”. 😉

                    2. Redemptive story arcs are pretty close to the Ur tropes of story arcs (right up there with boy meets girl, the bildungsroman, and cataclysm stories). I like a good redemptive story, too. *grin*

          2. I do that, but you can’t do that UNTIL you get basic functions AND do so many problems that you start to see the shortcuts. Trying to teach intuition doesn’t work. Teach the rules, practice until proficient, then you can get creative.

            1. Like writing novels or short stories. When I did a short story a week for a year, I got “ontop”of the form, meaning I felt like I was floating above and seeing ALL of it. Took longer on novels.

            2. *nod*

              Which is why we use a lot of Schoolhouse Rock, plus old style “fill in the blank multiplication sheet.”

              “Three six nine…. twelve fifteen eighteen…. twenty one twenty four twenty seven….thirty….”
              (*pictures football players charging through a door as she sings*)

            1. *laughs* See, this illustrates why the “easier to understand” method doesn’t work for me; if I were doing something like that in real life, I wouldn’t even think in the numbers, I’d do something like hold up two fingers, and then count them down– if I didn’t do like my eldest, and just “write” the problem in the air, so I could “see” it.

          3. it’s based on “how people who are really good at math do it in their heads.”

            That might very well have been me, in this forum. I’ve posted several places that Common Core basic arithmetic is like how I do it in my head — but only if I don’t have paper and pencil, because I did learn the traditional methods and they’re more reliable.

            1. Like DRLoss pointed out, I got my example wrong– sure, it’s user error, but the other method protects against that.

            2. It’s a handy shorthand for when you’re already well familiar with a task. That is Stage 3 or 4 (I forget right now which) learning. It comes *after* memorization, utilization, and synchronization. You have to *have* the information first, then you have to be able to *use* it before you can *put it together with other things* and lastly you learn the shortcuts that work. This is how human brains and memory work.

              Some people do it faster and may look like they are skipping ahead, but I believe that’s mostly an illusion. You can’t use tools you don’t *have* and if you skip memorization, you don’t, again, have it. And because “smart people do it this way,” somebody thought it’d be a good idea to teach children who have never been exposed to this stuff before like this, I call it child abuse.

              You don’t punish a child for failing a task it has next to no chance of completing successfully unless there’s some kind of malevolence in you, even if it wears the guise of “it’s for their own good.”

              1. This sounds right.

                This matches with the “history education is correcting errors you were never taught” stuff– seriously, I NEVER heard the “Chopped down a cherry tree” thing, which current research suggests was if not absolutely true then was at least a family story which Everybody Knew, last I heard.

                (See also the “Debunking” of “no Irish need apply” which was de de bunked by a kid with access to news archives.)

                1. *Twitches*

                  People actually thought dat was a fookin’ urban legend? Are ye daft as well as thick, brainless, and having the intestinal fortitude of a cow with diarrhea?

                  God, and I t’ought I needed drink before dis.

                  Oh, and I knew of the cherry tree.

                  And may have been an instigator…. 0;-)

                    1. >> “respect my authority, punny girlchild!”

                      Punny girlchild? Do we need to send this young lady some carp?

                2. We got the cherry tree story in school. Second grade, California, mid-1960s. Presented as fact.

                  1. Mom got the debunking in college, presented as objective fact.

                    I got it in the 90s, likewise claimed to be a myth as objective fact.

                    Now that people are able to do better research– like digitizing family letters and stuff– turns out that if it was a “myth,” it was one that was around before Washington even became president, among relatives and family friends.

                    Which means probably a family story, AKA, may reasonably be expected to be based on truth.

              2. I was going to say essentially this, but you said it with more detail. Yeah, they’re skipping past the fact that the shortcut requires understanding the long method first, or you’ll wind up in a random place.

                I have noticed that most kids today can’t do even simple calculations in their heads.

      3. That looks very useful if the goal is learning how to lie with statistics. If the goal is learning basic math skills, it looks like a waste of time.

        1. You want the book “How To Lie With Statistics” by Darrell Huff. Original Copyright 1954. I have a 1993 reprint. I discovered the book in my law school library(!) in the late 1970s and hunted for my own copy after the company I worked for was hit by a $15 million judgement based on, yes, statistical lies.

      4. I’ve seen something called “stem and leaf” diagrams before, but I don’t remember them looking like that.

        I can get the mode (51) and median (44.5) from that diagram, although I can do it a lot easier from the list you gave at the bottom. I might be able to invent a way to calculate the mean based on the diagram, but it wouldn’t be trivial.

        I guess this might be useful if you were trying to “bin” the results based on the 10s place: those in the 50s get “A”, those in the 40s get “B”s, etc. Beyond that, the only potential use I can see for this particular notation is saving a tiny bit of ink by not having to write the tens place over and over again.

      5. It looks like someone got their PhD by developing a new and unique method that overcomes the patriarchal caucasian method of displaying numbers developed by those evil …um…moslem academics?

        1. Hindu academics. The Syrian Orthodox bishop Severus Sebokht mentioned the Hindu numerals in AD 662, well before the Persian and Arabic books (written in AD 825 and AD 830 respectively) that popularized the notation, and which are the ones that most people have heard of.

      6. HMMM I had to read your comment thouroughly to figure out what was up. I’ll ask my elder daughter if she’s seen this (teaches 8th grade math) and what the perceived pedagogical value is. Mode is 51, median is either 44, 45 or 44.5 depending on where you learned it as there are an even number of samples. Don’t see that its ANY improvement over just listing it out. Daughter is a bit more conservative on the teaching methods as she went to a Christian (Gordon) school so they haven’t jumped wholeheartedly into all the modern nonsense for teaching although even there weird modern methods (i.e. whole word reading vs phonics) was being included. One of the things they try to teach is very simple statistical ideas in 6-8 grade (reading and creating plots and graphs from data, mean, mode, median). Concept is good, it seems to lose a lot in execution and end up very rote learning that quickly gets forgotten.

        1. OK so Elder daughter came home from work. She says Stem and Leaf is used in teaching analyzing data to 4-8th graders, NOT used by later grades much. Main reasons
          1) Kind of acts as a visual bar graph, looking at Foxfier’s example

          1 | 4
          2 |
          3 | 3 5 8
          4 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 6 9
          5 | 0 1 1 1

          we can see a peak in the 40’s with a nice hump centered there
          2) Easy to find the mode, visually we can see that the mode (51, with 3 occurences) quite easily
          3) makes it easir to find the median for many students. The traditional way to teach finding the median to young children is to alternate crossing out numbers at the beginning and the end of the list. This can be hard to do for some younger students especially if the list is LARGE, stem and leaf can help clarify this.

          She did say that many grammar level math teachers are poor at teaching the WHY of what is being done. Especially if this is forced down into earlier ages where it ends up rote AND often the teachers are generalists (ed majors) often with a minor in Psychology or similar. They often have VERY limited math knowledge /education themselves and may be math averse so tend to teach it very literally with little explanation and with a fair bit of fear of the math. My daughter often has to work to undo this at the 8th grade and get the students to actually THINK about what they’re doing.


          May explain it better.

          Most of the time, honestly, the concept is good– if you can understand it enough to get the idea, if nothing else, it’s kind of a neat brain toy.

          The assignments written by folks who were likely NOT comfortable with it, and then taught by folks who never saw it before…bit less so.
          (Thank God for all the internet stuff, like the link, and Math Salamander, and Khan.)

      7. I’m a science teacher, and the stem & leaf plots have some uses. They’re easy to teach kids, and are GREAT for getting kids to check their results in a lab against the rest of the class. It shows when a result is an “outlier” (far from the central tendency of the data), and one nice thing about it is that it gives them an approximation of what the experiment SHOULD have resulted in.
        Also, I used to have them get FULL credit for not only showing their results, but the accepted range of data they should have gotten. Plus, I would use the outliers to analyze why that data differed so much. It was often things like measurement techniques, reading the instrument, putting data on the wrong axes, etc. Or, using too high a flame, or similar problems.
        Used properly, it can be quite valuable.
        Also, the scientific calculators can show that type of plotting, and it allows them to ‘throw out’ wildly different data that exceeds the norms. It’s just a really useful technique to learn.

        1. Thank you for the use of it!
          I knew there had to be SOME use for it, but– well, I don’t think I’ll be buying from that company again, for workbooks. They didn’t do a very good job of “why” for stuff, even if that daughter prefers paper over Khan….

      8. It looks like it was borrowed (and thoroughly confused in so doing) from regular expressions in computer systems. Where “*” is used as a wild card, you can do things like 123[456]7 and have one of the digits in the bracket in the number. OTOH, the usage here seems to be carefully designed to obsfucate things. Dammit, the Obsfucated C contest is supposed to a joke, not a way to teach.

        As best as I can tell, I might have gone through the last classes before New Math came into schools. I’m so happy I avoided that. And FWIW, Dick and Jane did at least a passable job at teaching this young Odd to read.

          1. Probably had those readers in 1st and 2nd grade, after which we moved to a place with a really good school system. The later grades (3 & 4th, anyway) had little self-guided lessons; you’d read the piece and there’d be a quiz for comprehension. Assuming you did well, after a while, you’d go to a harder (color coded, no less) set of pieces.

            Along the way, Scholastic Press (I think) had a bunch of low cost mail-order paperbacks through the school. I recall Robert Silverberg’s Revolt on Alpha C as my first exposure to SF. Between that and the juveniles in the town library and most anything else in print, I was set.

            1. I had them in Kinder– along with the teacher who had horrible breath, and whose response to hesitation or….k, you know that autistic “not exactly stuttering but sounds like a record stuttering” thing? “That thing…that thing…that thing where…thing where—” ??? (YEs, annoying as crud.)
              Her response to that was to yell and generally scold.
              ….which is why she thought I didn’t know my alphabet, because she screamed. So I stopped.

              And my school didn’t allow going to “the next level” until you’d “shown” you could do the first.

              Quite literally, after being diagnosed as illiterate and put in special ed, I shot up to (does a quick search for Hank the Cowdog) 8-12 reading level, mostly because that was as high as I was allowed to look until someone pointed out there were more shelves.

              1. Yikes. I had a bad case of stuttering after we moved (my speech centers go wonky under stress) a+ nd the therapy didn’t help much–more stress. Did better once I made friends. New Kid + Odd + poorer than average, not a good start there.

              2. Oh. This is why younger son was not accepted into Catholic school.
                He had a speech issue. In the test, when he said fifteen, they thought he was saying fifty and started telling him to correct himself. He froze.
                I was furious. So I didn’t put older son there either.

          2. Ah- Dick and Jane. I have memories of them. My mother taught me to read before I entered kindergarten. Dick and Jane was being used to teach reading in my third grade class. My parents were called to come in for a conference about me. And had no clue why. On the day of the conference I was thoroughly engrossed in Podkayne of Mars, the library book being small enough to hide behind the overly large social studies book. (Which I read the first week of school and never looked at again….) I was so engrossed in it that I didn’t notice the teacher noticing I wasn’t actually paying attention to her as she got closed and closer to my desk. And suddenly reached down and snatched the book away and gave me a really funny look…

            My mother told me what happened at the conference. The gathered together educators had previously decided I needed intervention because I couldn’t learn how to read- I never ever knew where we were in the group readings of Dick and Jane. A serious learning disability… The meeting opened up with the teacher holding up Podkayne of Mars and saying “I found your son reading this during class today when I was teaching social studies… he wasn’t paying attention. Does he read books like this all the time?” Well, the answer was yes. They discussed the original purpose of the meeting, and had decided before my parents got there that not being able to read wasn’t the problem. So they came up with a solution. For the rest of my time in that school system (rest of 3rd grade and half of 4th) when it was time for reading lessons, I was sent to the school library. To read.

            I loathed Dick and Jane and continue loathing it. IIRC, Dick and Jane is at the forefront of the “look-say” and repetition method of teaching reading instead of the method that works- phonics. Taught to me by- my mother.

            1. I have NO clue how I learned to read. Portuguese is way more phonetic (though not perfectly, and my spelling was interesting.) I know by four I was reading the comics people read to me and hiding it, so I continued getting read to.
              My sons learned to read…. Effed if I know. Younger was writing comic books with wording at 3 in pre-school. (This didn’t stop his teacher thinking he was retarded, btw.) Older son was reading Kipling at about that age.
              BOTH of them went through my library like out of control fire, though Marshall preferred non fiction. Only figured out he’d also consumed my research books when he wrote an historical short story involving the unsavory sexual life of a French king. (Louis XIII and for the record the story was called “My God What a world.” I was dismayed when I found out his teacher had read it aloud to the class (I THINK he was 14.)
              He prefers “books about real things” to fiction, and partly because he’s the younger, refuses to join the writing circus. Which is a pity because he’s an amazingly gifted writer. Without trying, he sounds enough like me he’d confuse you (And I had to practice for years.)
              Trying? Imagine Heinlein with the word playfulness of Bradbury.
              But one of the things you learn as a parent is that you can’t force them to do things you want them to do. I’m sure Himself has problems with that too.

            2. > suddenly reached down and snatched the book away

              I had that happen more than once. The same teachers who whined about how kids couldn’t read, seemed to object strongly to anyone actually doing it…

              1. My sister, decades later, still has unfond recollections of teachers who insisted that she could not read during recess.

        1. I once suggested a Truly Difficult contest regarding computing language. ESR said that De-Obfuscated INTERCAL was likely impossible. }:o)

          1. Speaking of, what’s going on with ESR’s blog NOW? Trying to go there just gives an error message: “This website is temporarily disabled for investigation of a potential web shell compromise.”

            And it’s been that way for a while. Even if he never posts anything new there again, I’d hate to think all that content is just lost now.

            1. No idea. Last I looked, things were still there, but I have heard there were plans to pull up stakes. As to timeline and progress, I’ve no idea at all.

              1. >> “Are you on Discord at all?”

                I’m not a fan of it, but I could get set up easily enough. I could also just give you an e-mail address. Any particular reason to favor Discord?

                1. The Major Advantage is that Hoyt’s Huns on Discord is more private than AccordingToHoyt.

                  1. which is why the invites aren’t being posted publicly.
                    and shouldn’t.
                    That one mod is a dictator tho….

                  2. Hmm… I’m not interested in anyone’s personal secrets, if that’s what you mean. What other sorts of things are discussed there but not here?

                    And no, I don’t expect you to be too detailed about it here.

                    1. In the military, there’s the idea of “sensitive” information.

                      It’s not secret, and it’s not classified at all– but it could be used to figure out secret information.

                    2. >> “It’s not secret, and it’s not classified at all– but it could be used to figure out secret information.”

                      Fair enough.

                2. As Drak said.

                  Some things I might care to relay, I might not want overly ‘anybody wandering by sees it.’ Mind, it’s not like anything Top Secret (pinto explosion here…). I also have Signal, but arranging for that has its own issues.

          2. >> “I once suggested a Truly Difficult contest regarding computing language. ESR said that De-Obfuscated INTERCAL was likely impossible. }:o)”

            Was INTERCAL the one that was even worse than Brainfuck?

            1. Hah! I’ve got something for you, Orvan.

              I searched for “computer languages worse than brainfuck,” and found an article that listed 5 Godawful candidates (that included Brainfuck itself). The language I was thinking of was Malbolge, not INTERCAL. But elsewhere on the list was THIS gem:


              This weird named language was developed by Sean Heber in 2003 which seems to be a variant of Brainfuck. The program has 12 instructions revolving around the capitalization of moos’(sound of the holy cow). This includes Moo, mOO, MoO, etc, and OOM being the odd one out. The program only considers these 12 variations and all the other characters will be considered as comments in the compiler. This language is Turing-Complete.

              Similarly to Brainfuck, this cannot be understood by regular programmers and coders. Here’s what a simple “Hello World!” program looks like without any looping.

              MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO Moo MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO Moo MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO Moo Moo MoO MoO MoO Moo OOO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO Moo MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO Moo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOoMOo MOo MOo MOo MOo Moo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo Moo MoO MoO MoO Moo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo Moo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MOo MooOOO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO MoO Moo”

              Here’s the article, for anyone interested:

                1. Hey, those are the sounds of the holy cow, bud! At worst, the program is holy crap! Show some respect! 😛

                    1. no, pretty sure he meant Moo, because moo MOO and mOo are all different meanings.

                    2. annd now i see the programing language thing.

                      this is what programmers come up with when not kept busy. Please, contribute now to the Keep The Programmers Busy fund…. *cue Sarah MacLaghlan*

                    3. What is this “programmers not busy” you speak of?

                      Didn’t happen, ever, in my working career. There was always an open ticket to work on.

                      OTOH … now that I’m retired … what kind of mischief can I get into *evil grin* … oops, feel a nap coming on …

                    4. Manager has decided he needs time to decide a technical issue he’s too ignorant to have a clue about.

                      Customer hasn’t answered questions about requirements.

                    5. Guess the difference is in all my jobs there was always something else to pivot to work on. And never had to worry about my bosses getting involved in technical details. At worst it was “this has to be done, do it” regardless of whether it was doable, or doable easily/accurately, using the tools available. More than once got an tool upgrade (finally), additional tools, or more time, sometimes all three.

                      My last job we had ticket items that were 5 years or more older (8 years in the ticket system because that is how old the ticket system was). One request was one that had kept coming up every annual client conference the 12 years I worked there. Finally had an implementation a year or so before I retired, and was working on converting the last piece when I retired (little more complicated than one program). I am pretty sure it stalled when I retired. Sure those clients who already had it were good, but the rest, not so much.

                    6. Oh, how Mary has THAT one right. They want you to read their minds (where’s my ultramicropicoscope?) thus don’t bother to TELL YOU *critical* things. If you have a list of questions, they will magically know to only answer the LEAST useful/relevant ONE. Or if you ask sequentially, they will complain about all the asking. And they want it, no, NEEEEEED it *TUESDAY*…. and SIX MONTHS LATER… they get around to actually looking at it and discover it is only precisely what they specified, and not want they wanked off to …er, dreamed about.

                    7. “They want you to read their minds (where’s my ultramicropicoscope?) thus don’t bother to TELL YOU *critical* things. If you have a list of questions, they will magically know to only answer the LEAST useful/relevant ONE. Or if you ask sequentially, they will complain … they get around to actually looking at it and discover it is only precisely what they specified”

                      When I first started, this used to bother the heck out of me. I quickly learned to keep email trails (originally paper trails, been doing it that long). As long as the person who signed my paychecks was good with my approach, usually worked with client contacts boss too, I was golden (I was also the only one doing what I was doing, still could get yelled at, I hate getting yelled at). When I was able to go beyond the supplied specifications, it was because I knew the topic, so I could extrapolate beyond what the client wrote/said. Or at least ask the right questions to get the client communicating. OTOH sometimes, it was easier to pull hens teeth. Also helped that clients knew I’d admit if I missed the mark, no matter how close or far (happened, but not often, mostly just needed refining). As in “Know this isn’t 100%, please advise …” Hey, it worked. When I retired, clients were almost as upset (different reasons) as my boss (long story, which has played here before).

                      Did have one client contact (particularly *horrible one for pulling this) request a specific complicated change. Wrote up the proposal quote, with an “urgent” sub-charge. Got it back signed. Completed the change. Knew it got installed and used, with a thank you (rare, but hey, sometimes it happens). Only to get another request about 6 weeks later complaining that “It had changed” (custom, so only this client was affected). Problem was the client contact had gotten a change request from one department and hadn’t ran it by other departments … My response was to forward the approval (which had the request also attached), and note that they’d **paid for the change. There was the same cost to change it back, and another cost to make it so original option and new option, were both available, which way should I make up the quote. Response? “Will get back to you.” Funny, never heard back, on that topic. I don’t know it was a different department complaining, might have been same department deciding didn’t like the change, or a what-if situation. Regardless the person who was the middle man, was not pleased.

                      * Changing specks after delivery. ** Rare they paid for changes. Either way, this client. I always had them sign off. That way even if they didn’t pay for original change, if they kept making demands I could take it to the boss and he may or may allow more “free” changes. Changes weren’t exactly “free”. Clients paid an “annual maintenance” fee, which covered X many hours per contract per month (which were not tracked). When quotes went out it was usually because “Needed Yesterday”, particularly large, or were particularly egregious about change requests (really, really, really, egregious, as in “Gee, it is 9 AM and haven’t heard from Client X yet.” every single day).

              1. If they had gone with ‘Mooo’ instead of ‘Moo’, COW could support up to 16 instructions without needing to go outside the single keyword. That would make parsing much simpler.

                All we need now is for somebody to make up a competing language based on ‘Baaa’ and the barnyard language wars can begin!

                1. >> “If they had gone with ‘Mooo’ instead of ‘Moo’, COW could support up to 16”

                  I suspect that stopping at 12 was intentional. These languages are designed to be hard to use on purpose, after all, so why make it easier by giving a more flexible/parsable instruction set?.

                  But they also could have just used different capitalizations of ‘MMM’ and ‘OOO’ for longer moos. Not sure why they broke theme with ‘OOM’ and ‘oom.’

                  Also, I can’t help but notice how Orvan is pointedly ignoring this. I’m kind of disappointed. 🙂

                  >> “All we need now is for somebody to make up a competing language based on ‘Baaa’ and the barnyard language wars can begin!”

                  Oh, God, you’ve almost got me tempted to try this just for the hell of it. Although I’d probably go with cats (‘Meow’) instead of sheep.

                  Are we going for hard-to-use, or friendly as possible while still maintaining a ridiculous theme?

        1. I know! I’ve done a lot of math. Including Statistics, which isn’t my favorite, but I know the principles. Even with the explanations? WTH? Actually, if I’m being a crude as possible – WTFH?

          FWIW. “Guess and Check” is NOT a valid math process … do not get my husband started. Kid has been out of HS now for 14 years, a good 25 years since this came up. He has stopped mumbling about the concept finally, I think.

          Situation. Kid was sick and was out of school for two weeks. We picked up the work papers to work with kid to keep him from falling behind. One of the requirements was to “explain your method”, and “show math steps” wasn’t the correct option. But no methods were listed. So hubby, since he was on work furlough, went to talk to teachers. It did not go well … at least not when dad got home … no fallout from teacher or school so dad held it together until he got home, but I think it was close.

            1. Whole Word Recognition.

              Pretty sure I came up under phonics. Not that it helped. I’ve always read comprehensively, fine. But could never prove it until it came to reading cards, answering questions about it, reading modules. Those I flew through. Drove the teachers nuts. Why the discrepancy? Because I can not read aloud. At almost 65, I haven’t improved one iota.

              1. I was doing Whole Word Recognition on my own, at a very early age. My mother said I learned to read at about age 4 because my older brother brought home things from school. I was reading at a high school level in elementary school.
                Hearing other kids struggle to sound out words was kind of frustrating to me — why didn’t they just know what the word was, I thought to myself.
                But in the early half of the 1970s, at least, Whole Word was not the method used in the classrooms.

                1. My dad taught me to read at 3 using a version of whole word. By the time I was 5 I had basically derived phonics on my own.

                  1. My dad too Dr Seuss dictionary Aaron the alligator in an airplane. Caused me nothing but trouble when I got into school. Being ahead was not encouraged

                    1. “The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary” (actually by PD Eastman, which I think must have been what saved it from the Cancel Truck–goodness, the Eskimo and American Indian portrayals would drive ’em mad for sure 9_9)–when my daughter was three and four, she picked it for bedtime storytime (one letter or so a night) about three times straight *lol* Good stuff, I really liked it myself. 🙂

                      I found myself sympathetic to sight words around then because, when I tried to get to read her primers, there were a lot of small words that don’t sound out the way they’re supposed to. (Of, said, the, wise, any of the oughs…) But half-a-year later and she’s actually working them out through context almost in-stream, which really does seem a lot more useful of a way to approach the problem.

                      Now I’m kinda curious of Eastman ever did anything else with Abigail and her Aunt Ada; I wouldn’t mind reading more about them >.>

                  2. My parents read to me all the time. At 3, I asked Mom if she wanted me to read the Sunday funnies to her. She thought that was cute and said yes. So I did, to her surprise.
                    Was reading at least 8th grade by second grade and went on from there. Was not popular with my peers…

                  3. Whole Word Recognition teaches everyone to read in the same manner as self-taught dyslexics: recognize enough of the word to make a guess at its identity, but don’t actually READ it. WWR doesn’t teach, it cripples. All kids start off reading that way, but until WWR reared its ugly head, most grew beyond it as soon they were introduced to phonics, if not before. (I think a LOT of kids work out phonics on their own, as the ideas come too easy for it to be entirely raw for everyone, and mostly what was taught in school is the notation.)

                    At five I read a novel written for adults (and still remember it — Gray Canaan. I reenacted the Civil War battles with my toy soldiers, but the romance aspects whizzed by at 30,000 feet.) By that age I had derived enough rules-of-phonics that I could pretty much read anything, tho was occasionally puzzled by words that didn’t fit the obvious rules. (Bartholomew obviously should be barth-o-LO-mew, which didn’t sound right. I puzzled and puzzled over that, but didn’t occur to me to ask anyone!)

                    1. By that age I had derived enough rules-of-phonics that I could pretty much read anything, tho was occasionally puzzled by words that didn’t fit the obvious rules

                      Playing a game with a Viking mod with the kids; son kept talking about his “Thee gyn” house.

                      Thegn. Said “Thay-n.” But it has ‘The’ right there! *laughs with delight*

                    2. When my son was about three, we went by a Steak and Shake, and my son proudly announced it was a Steek and Shake, that’s when I knew for sure that he was actually reading. (Yes, he was wrong, but he was wrong for the right reasons.)

              2. Elder Brother had phonetic flash cards laying around (of the 3 sons, he’s the least likely to read), and I’d play around with them. I suspect there was a bit of impromptu learning/teaching going on. I’m not great about reading aloud, but I could sound out new words.

                1. Not sure how much credit for my learning to read goes to Dick and Jane versus the Phonic flash cards. Somewhere along the way, I’d read cereal boxes before I graduated to the newspaper. I do recall Starman Jones being a bit of a slog at age 10 because my vocabulary wasn’t up to snuff. OTOH, the story was good enough to entice me to fix that…

                1. i 100% believe this. You should have heard how I pronounced the car Parisienne, we saw … It was not anywhere near – “Par-Is–E-ann” … well it started with “Par-Is” … went off track from there.

              3. I had phonics, using symbols. Which is partly why I can’t spell in English. I spell what I hear, which leads to some Elizabethan results. But I do find in Spanish, and Latin, and German, and Hungarian. *warped kitty grin* Polish and Czech? That’s why the little Berlitz books and the audio-learning courses are my friends.

                1. I don’t remember if I had phonics or not.

                  What I do know is that I have extreme difficulties Pronouncing Words in order to figure out how to spell them.

                  What’s fun is that I can misspell a word and KNOW that I misspelled it but can’t figure out the correct spelling. [Very Annoyed Look On Face]

                  1. Yes. This.

                    I’ve changed sentence structure to say what I was going to say because ONE lousy word I can’t get spelled correctly, I know the spell check isn’t coming up with the correct word, after I go to internet search engine (google, bing, ask), and any word selected from correction list changes the meaning. Frustrating? Oh definitely. Plus, very few understand the problem …

                    1. Chuckle Chuckle

                      I wanted to put [Very Frustrated Look] instead of [Very Annoyed Look] but I couldn’t think of the correct spelling of “Frustrated”. 😆

      9. Did you skip 20? Just asking… but why are we separating the tens from the ones with a line and smearing all the ones together and in what system is this useful? BTW “education cargo cultists” (below) below nails it.

        1. Totally made up the numbers with an eye to showing how the things can look; you always list all the first numbers, even if there wasn’t a result that showed it it, same way I made three 51s to show how that looked.

          Someone further up says that it appears to be a thing that’s used in labwork for comparing results where they involve a lot of numbers, to identify a pattern in results, but it was definitely not used that way in my daughter’s lesson!

      10. See, that is the normal method for setting out groups of numbers, the easier to find the mode. BUT, I didn’t learn that until my *college* statistics class, and it won’t help anyone who doesn’t already understand that writing the numbers out that way will help find the mode and median that much quicker. I’m guessing the books didn’t explain the notation at all. As per usual with common core.

        1. The last half of the math section didn’t even have a vocabulary listing. (Not helped by that daughter having gotten behind while visiting family, and trying to cheat in several ways.)
          I am REALLY not impressed with the Schoolzone practice books, not nearly as good as their “big workbooks.”

  4. We “always” have had old books around, and the usual response to too many kid questions was “go look it up.”
    Which sometimes resulted in contradicting information.
    Which taught us how to look at the sources….

    There’s more folks who know which way is up than you’d think, just unless you’re an idiot or passionate about a specific subject, folks know it’s not worth saying it. The twerp you just embarrassed will just throw a fit and in the end it does more damage to the truth than saying nothing at all.

    Somewhat related news, apparently Florida has most of their new folks registering as Republicans.
    Including the ones who were Democrat, last year.

    1. Somewhat related news, apparently Florida has most of their new folks registering as Republicans.
      Including the ones who were Democrat, last year.


      Any event (such as a sudden mass migration) must be either the Final Disaster, or the point of no return that leads directly to the Final Disaster.

      If you keep promulgating this nonsense you will be excommunicated from Conservatism.

      1. *laughs*

        Additional data-point, husband chatted with local sheriff– who has basically identical to husband’s political views, kind of like the Nice Lady at church class matches me– but both are Democrats.


        WERE Democrats. I know that (sheriff) has been voting for the Republican for a while, because that’s who matched his actual principles; but he’s looking at actually changing his registration. From Nice Lady’s spiky look when we finally got back to Mass? I think she’s ready to breath fire…..

      2. Let’s hope they aren’t following the time-honored technique of registering for the dominant party in order to elect the primary candidate with the best chance of losing. My dad taught me that one when the dominant party was the Democrats.

        1. I did that here in the Glorious Bear Flag Peoples Republic for as long as I could – stayed registered D so I could vote in primaries that actually matter here, and try to bump things away from Full Commie – but eventually I could no longer stomach the One True Party, and I officially reregistered as R. Blood pressure when reading primary stuff is much improved. And hey, maybe the horse will learn to sing!

          1. …and then Kalifornia instituted the ‘jungle primary’ so you wind up with two Democrats no matter what you do.
            Elections are far too important to be left up to a bunch of uncontrolled voters. The Party MUST exercise oversight and management to prevent them from electing the wrong candidates!

      3. In relation to this: The 3-Mile Bridge in Pensacola is finally open again.

        Open, but not complete. Meaning there are probably Skanska barges there. Again.

        Just in time for hurricane season.

        …Yeah a lot of locals are not at all confident it’ll stay open.

        On top of that there was a full-force parental assault on the local school superintendent for planning to teach Critical Race Theory, reported in the local paper. There were more deputies there than people, hauling speakers off if they went a second past 3 minutes. The parents were not impressed.

        Sum-up of parental stands: “You say you’re not teaching CRT, but you’re using all their buzzwords and you have all their stated goals on your website. STOP THAT.”

        1. Yeah, that happens a lot. They seem to think that people aren’t listening past the buzzwords of equity and diversity (because those are nice things, and it’s nice to be nice people).
          But it appears that more and more people have stopped listening to the words and are looking at the ideas, and then saying “Not with my children, you don’t!”

          1. Equity as used in CRT Newspeak is not a good thing. Equity reeks of Harrison Bergeron and Diane Moon Glompers. It sounds like Equality (which is a good thing), but in the end equity is Lowest Common denominator nobody has squat (except for the Nomenklatura/Aristoi/Upper Party who have all the nice things…

    1. I spent a good deal of time working with those kinds of cutting tools in that kind of tool holders, running CNC Machining Centers. (Mills)

      1. Alas, most of my CNC experience is with lathes and plain old G-code. I did a CNC conversion on a small mill, got all the hardware done, and ran into a wall when all the CAD/CAM software I tried was wordless, with rows of almost-identical icons which had to be memorized by position, or depended on colors to convey information. Bedamned if I’m going to memorize icon positions (and no text of any kind available, probably some kind of “internationalization” assholery), and there’s f-all I could do about colors no matter how motivated I might be. I tested the conversion by moving the table and spindle around with G-code, but I haven’t even powered the mill up in more than ten years.

        1. My intro to Numerical Control was running a Cinntimatic that ran off punched tape. Point to point X and Y from the tape with the Z axis manually controlled with dial indicator. It could do rudimentary straight milling moves, but not much more. When I first wrote programs they were stored on 8 inch floppies, but we had to punch paper tapes for the machines. The peak of my programming before moving on to other things was manual g-codes stored in a Windows 95 computer and transferred out to the machines via network wiring.

    2. Far fancier than anything I’ve used, but tool-lust is a thing. One of these days I need to get some more carbide inserts. Not looking forward to seeing the prices.

        1. Husband was in Home Depot and asked a lady where to find the toy department. Without missing a beat she said, “Tools are on aisle 12.”

      1. Lawnmower lust is a thing too… (the lawnmower forum I frequent has 165,000 members… there are an astonishing lot of vintage Lawn Boy collectors…)

        This week’s curb brag: Guy on CL is giving away a pile of “dead” yard equipment, which to me looked like stuff I’d rather not buy but could use, or at worst cannibalize for parts. So I fetch it all home, pour a little gas in the “dead” mower, and it fires right up and runs like new. Everything else was as trivially fixable. Happy birthday to me!

        1. Had to give up my Lawn Boy mower when I had multiple rounds of ear surgery with strict post-op instructions not to lift or pull too hard on anything. Didn’t have electric start, alas.

          The around-the-house mower is the now-ancient Black and Decker 12V cordless that replaced the LB. The grass around the house isn’t worthy of the name “Lawn”, but there is a bit, in patches. Many of which are really steep.

          The around-the-barn mower is a cantankerous Husqvarna with a Honda engine that isn’t happy at all with the slopes around the house. (Which is why the B&D is kept working.) The two-stroke LBs would be an improvement. The county has a 4-foot brush-hog on an articulated boom to mow the ditches. Can’t afford a setup like that (nor justify the cost if I could), but it’s attractive.

  5. This just popped up in my Amazon recommendations: The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm (

    I’d like to get my hands on the old 1967 version of The Way Things Work, not the David Macaulay cartoon version.

    And all my accumulated skill points have lately been going into practical things like cooking (INT, easy) and building stuff. Lately it’s been cabinetry (INT+DEX, hard), but having the right tools like a decent table saw makes it so much easier.

    1. One fun game is “What 3|5|7 books would you choose to restart civilization after an apocalypse?”

      It’s interesting that many people will choose art, religion, or philosophy over engineering, medicine, and agriculture…

      “Your survivors may be very artistic, religious, and philosophical. But they’ll be ruled by my survivors, who will have guns, antibiotics, and a predictable food supply.”

      1. I mean, yes, I would include my religious tome in there (the quad version, so it only counts as “one” book 😀 ) But everything else would be basic survival/civilization skills!

        I’m actually slowly building a library of stuff like that. Just got “The Modern Herbal Dispensary” the other day.

        1. And if there is an ‘extra’ in there somewhere, one of the (old!) CRC manuals… maybe not helpful *today*, but… the future would thank you.

          1. Yes, really old (50s/60s ) if you can get it. I bought my wife (then fiancee) a copy (62nd edition, 1983) for Christmas her senior year in college as she was headed off to grad school. Family was like “seriously WTF?”, but she’d gotten an engagement ring earlier in the year so my jewelry fund was depleted and how do you top that? She DID ask for it directly. In the 62nd edition it has all the conversion tables (and LOTS of 4 place math tables, logs/sine/cos etc) many other things. It still is around here somewhere I think it is acting as a monitor stand. The one my high school had was from the mid 70’s and had additional things like how to do the tollens test and a bunch of other detailed processes. My understanding is the earliest versions had detailed methodology for Fulminates (mercury and silver, masic primer material)) as well as things like nitrocellulose (gun cotton base of smokeless powder) and many other useful processes like making some of the base items (nitric acid, sulfuric acid etc) from sort of scratch. I’ve also heard the 11th edition Britannica has a lot of this too.

            1. My CRC Handbook of Chem and Physics dates to 1970, and I don’t recall it giving methods for synthesis. Energies for reactions, both chemical and nuclear, but I wasn’t that interested in impromptu chemistry. I eventually broke down and got the math book (more or less the same information as the Handbook’s math section) to save time in looking things up.

              A co-worker a year older than me said the Beilstein(I think) manuals at his school tended to have missing pages, for the more interesting compounds. MDMA, and LSD were noteworthy as having been ripped out.

        1. My folks and grandparents were Not Pleased with those books, mostly because of the way the folks writing them, then selling them, acted when they came through. Yes, there’s some good info in there. There are also better ways of doing a lot of it that I *know* were explained in exacting detail that didn’t make the cut.

          For the uninitiated, I’ll grant that’s a good enough starting point, though.

      2. Basic cooking from scratch, food production, safe storage of food, clothing repair, digging a well, purifying water, home nursing and wound repair, electronics/electricity/plumbing.

        1. Related, “why we do all this stupid sanitation stuff, I didn’t do it and I didn’t die/that guy did it right and died anyways.”

          Reason: because we have like a bajillion layers of doing it right to make the one or two not doing it rights safer, not perfect.

      3. >> “Your survivors may be very artistic, religious, and philosophical. But they’ll be ruled by my survivors, who will have guns, antibiotics, and a predictable food supply.”

        Look, our leader insisted on going for a culture victory, okay? Give us a break.

  6. I always intended to go back to Latin, but it never happened. I even have the first 3 books in the Using Latin textbook series (#4 has eluded me). I drop in at the Latin forum now and then, and for a while followed along with their reading of Julius Caesar (who wrote in a sufficiently straightforward style that even with my 50-years-eroded vocabulary, I could more or less decipher much of it). But the intent and the love for the language and even envy of the fluent just aren’t enough motivation, apparently. (Or perhaps my brain had a disk-full error.)

    lots of textbooks:
    www DOT textkit DOT com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&p=213636
    (go up one for the forum)

    I think immersion fails to stick because it still requires foundations. All kids learn their first language by immersion, but they were born into the culture and get the foundation that way, every day. Tossing ’em into sink-or-swim in a classroom ain’t the same.

    1. I have copies of the entire Loeb Library on my computer (pages of Latin or Greek text opposite a late 1800s translation) as well as my Greek, Hebrew, and Latin textbooks from Seminary. We will use those to teach my daughter.

      1. I had also meant to teach myself Koine (new testament) Greek. My wife did seminary so has textbooks and flash cards AND some nice computer software to help with parsing and also has access to the notes and such that let you see the known variants. I figured it can’t be too much worse than latin. However I never seem to get there for more than a bit. This may wait until I retire, Local evangelical Seminary (Gordon-Conwell) will let 60+ retired folk audit classes for a pittance.

    2. About all I can remember of Caesar’s G wars; ” Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, …” & the only other bit of my Latin from back in the day that comes to mind; Tu es nihil sed canis (roughly, You ain’t nothing but a hound dog.).

      1. Latina est langua mortua
        In arena jacet.
        Prima necavit Romanas,
        Nunc nos interfacit!

        [Latin teacher comes into class and recites the English version; my Node of Perversity instantly had to translate it to Latin. Not good Latin, but best I could do after a couple months of it.]

        Latin is a dead language
        Lying in the dust
        First it killed the Romans,
        Now it’s killing us!

      2. Quo usque tandem abutere , Catalina patienta nostra? Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet ? Quem ad finem sese effrendata iactabit audacia?

        Poor Catline, all we know is what his enemies said about him.

          1. Cataline did die a soldier’s death, even his enemies admitted that. All we know about him is what his enemies said about him. He seems to have been popular with the ordinary people. perhaps the Donald Trump of his day.

            If Plutarch is to be believed Cicero was killed by having his throat cut by one Herrenius, rather than being taken for torture. Marc Anthony hated Cicero, for good reason. First thing we do is kill all the lawyers.

              1. Alll we know is what his enemies said about him and even they had a certain admiration for him. It’s a conundrum. Given what has gone on here around Trump, I’m willing to suspend belief about Caligula, because, again, all we have is what his enemies said about him.

    3. I had two and a half years of college German, plus Yiddish and some German at home, before being dumped into Germany and told to go to class and survive. Vertical learning curve for the first month, to put it mildly, and I had a solid foundation to fall back on. If you choice is learn the language or starve, then immersion works so long as you get some basic grammar et al as well. To this day, the more stressed I get, the less American I sound. Make of it what you will. 🙂

      1. I had three years of English when I came to the US. First day of class in an American high school, I came home and cried. I hadn’t understood ONE word all day.

    4. My daughter is a Latin teacher. She recommends Father Foster’s Latin program. He was the Latinist at the Vatican and his summer course was famous for its rigor and results. Mere Bones of Latin by Reginald Foster. There’s a wealth of other info too. You need a good dictionary but thankfully Lewis and Short, which is the best Latin dictionary is available through Wikipedia.

      Once you figure out how the Latin course works, it’s a short step to adopt it to Greek and wiki is your friend there too. Lot of BS on that site but the core dictionary function and the cross references are excellent.

      I used Kennedy’s Latin Primer. Mensa, Mensa mensam,Mensae, mensae, mensa. A table, a table, O table, of a table, to a table, from a table. if you saw Young Winston “but Sir, what does it mean?” Life of Brian got it right too. We then moved on to a year translating one of history’s greatest psychopath mass murderers, another year reading a sycophant poet kissing up to the emperor, and then a rather crooked lawyer. Not the least of Foster’s virtues is that he expands the reading list a bit and covers Medieval Latin too.

      I went through Foster’s not too long ago as a refresher. It really is excellent. Stay away from the Cambridge Latin.

      1. One of the best sets of error messages were from MAC Lisp. in lisp to perform an assignment statement like A=1 you wrote (setq A 1). the Logicals were t (true) and nil (false). But in Lisp EVERTHING was a value under the covers so statements like (setq t nil) were valid. this was bad as you’d just made the universal TRUE object have the value FALSE. Things went to hell in handbasket shortly thereafter. to avoid this some error checking was added.
        (setq t nil) yielded
        Veritas est aeternam, you can’t setq t !
        and (setq nil t) yielded
        Nihil ex Nihil you can’t setq nil!

        Bored graduate students clearly…

        1. I remember those carefully crafted files that, when put through lint or make, generated humorous error messages like ‘marriage(): variable number of arguments’.

          Or ‘make mistakes’

          make: don’t know how to make mistakes

          1. TECO (an early editor used on DEC machines with MIT ancestry) had one of those. To edit a new file
            there was a make command. If you entered “make love” you would get the error
            “Not War?” from TECO. There may have been others…

        2. Supposedly one elderly compiler had a single error message: “eh?”

          The errors for some fo the “make” utilities were sometimes amusing.

          1. >> “Supposedly one elderly compiler had a single error message: “eh?””

            Was this elderly compiler Canadian, perchance?

          2. For certain values of amusing…..

            On the other hand, a Novell Netware tape backup utility caused our company president to get a phone call at 9:00 am on Sunday when the 85 year old Baptist mother of the customer CEO (small company, family run) came in to do the backup before church only to be confronted by the error message…..

            “YOU FUCKED UP, DIDN’T YOU???”

            “We didn’t write it! Honest!!!”

          3. Actually that error message was the only error message from the absolute debugger used in VMS to debug kernel code (drivers mainly). Put there by one of the original VMS Devos Dick Hustvedt . Darned if I can remember the name of the stupid debugger, only used it a couple times when I took a VMS internals course in the mid ’80s. It was a VERY brain damaged VERY limited debugger.

        3. The worst error messages I ever had to deal with were in a compiler I had to support. The guy who originally wrote it had the philosophy, “Error messages are for the compiler writer. The users should just report the errors back to us.” That didn’t help our customers, and it didn’t help me, as primary technical support person, when I got asked something like, “My code isn’t compiling. What does a ‘51095: unused slot’ error mean, and how do I fix it?”

          For anyone who has written software: this same guy wrote five pages of code to implement a ring buffer using a state machine with 64 states (I had to fix a bug in that, too).

          The problem was that, after he left, I couldn’t get any explanations from him. I spent the next few years (when I wasn’t working on something else) figuring out what the error messages actually meant and replacing them with ones closer to plain English.

  7. I think you mean “Tools of the Trade.” “Tools of the Trad” made me think that this post was about what you needed to do in order to sell to Tor. (It’s okay, I’ll pelt myself with carp on the way out).

    The “kids don’t need to know facts; they can just look them up” crowd is going to drive me to drink. First, as other people than me have pointed out, looking things up becomes more useful the more you know. The example I’ve seen is the definition of a planet: extremely useful if you want to know why asteroids aren’t planets or want to argue whether or not Pluto is one, and completely useless if you have no clue what a planet is in the first place.

    Second, there’s the problem that you can’t look up what you don’t know you don’t know in the first place. If you want to know if there’s a connection between the War of 1812 and The 1812 Overture, you can look that up. If you don’t know that either the War or the Overture exist, you’re unlikely to stumble on it by accident.

        1. Or one of those instances where tired and not tracking well and screw up by writing what we meant rather than what we thought we needed to say…

    1. “Information is not knowledge.” Too fine a distinction for many academics, I expect.

      A particularly long-winded version:

      “I know people who read interminably, book after book, from page to page, and yet I would not call them ‘well-read people’. Of course they ‘know’ an immense amount; but their brain seems incapable of assorting and classifying the material they have gathered from books. They have not the faculty of distinguishing between what is useful and useless in a book; so that they may retain the former in their minds and if possible skip over the latter while reading it, if that be not possible, then – when once read – throw it overboard as useless ballast. Reading is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Its chief purpose is to help towards filling in the framework which is made up of the talents and capabilities that each individual possesses. Thus each one procures for himself the implements and materials necessary for the fulfillment of his calling in life, no matter whether this might be the elementary task of earning one’s daily bread or a calling that responds to higher human aspirations. Such is the first purpose of reading. And the second purpose is to give a general knowledge of the world in which we live. In both cases, however, the material which one has acquired through reading must not be stored in the memory on a plan that corresponds to the successive chapters of the book; but each little piece of knowledge thus gained must be treated as if it were a little stone to be inserted into a mosaic, so that it finds its proper place among all the other pieces and particles that help to form a general world-picture in the brain of the reader. Otherwise only a confused jumble of chaotic notions will result from all this reading. That jumble is not merely useless, but it also tends to make the unfortunate possessor of it conceited. For he seriously considers himself a well-educated person and thinks that he understands the meaning of life. He believes that he has acquired knowledge, whereas that every increase in such ‘knowledge’ draws him more and more away from real life, until he finally ends up in some sanitarium or takes to politics and becomes a parliamentary deputy.”

      – Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, British (James Murphy) translation of 1939.

        1. Right up there with Goebbels insisting that propaganda is no excuse for artistic inferiority — in fact, it demands the highest artistic integrity.

      1. Slightly surprised. That goes in the metaphorical ‘Hitler had some good ideas file’. Unsurprising that he was crazy enough to compromise his use of the good idea.

        He identified one failure mode of reading, but in hindsight this points to one or two others.

        Breaking someone else’s writing down to the finest bits lets you integrate them into a whole, but if you only take in the finest structure you can fit anything into anything. Some ideas naturally fit into clusters, and you also want to test those ideas in clusters. For a sound and mature field, the clusters will be implemented pretty well. At least well enough, that one should expect that some of the time that the established clusters will be better than what one invents on one’s own. If one is reading widely enough, one should take always thinking one’s own clusters as better as a personal warning sign of madness. There are fields genuinely wrong enough in accepted answers that a sane person will invent better.

        Yes, lacking creativity, thought, and systemic analysis is a problem. But Hitler was confident in his madness, and had his own flavor of intellectual arrogance. That was also a problem. Hitler appears to have outdone the ‘experts’ in a few ways, but some of his mistakes seem to be a result of concluding that he was always better than the experts.

        Being intelligent, well read, and thoughtful in many fields is a challenge. Specialization is relatively easy to accomplish, but tends to result in overconfidence outside the specialty. Interesting generalists tend to manage to be sane and reliable on some subjects, but get others crazily wrong, and it takes work to figure out the odds in each area.

        Hitler sounds like a really boring generalist, or wannabe generalist.

    2. Yes. Very yes.

      I’ve been trying to find out how WWII era navy single seat pilots navigated over open ocean, but because I don’t even know the right words to search on, I’m mostly getting shop stuff or multicrew.

      As in, the navigator stands up and sticks a sextant out the window to get star bearings. You aren’t going to do that when you’re the only guy in the plane, and it doesn’t have autopilot.

      It wasn’t until Bismark’s video on the lost flight of Midway, that I’ve even started to get an idea of how it worked.

      (Sounds like the planes homes in on Carrier beacons, and would get headings from larger planes that had dedicated navigators. What do they call that? Not a clue… )

      1. Lindbergh’s book had quite a bit about how he navigated “Spirit of St. Louis.”

        1. I’ll have to look into that.

          My big question is how did they recover orientation/position after an engagement? Just seems really easy to end up pretty far from where you started. Over land you look for landmarks are reorient, but don’t think that works over water…

          1. If I remember the better Bermuda Triangle books, that plus haze blocking the stars is exactly what they think took out a lot of the missing planes.

          2. Look up A-N Range. I was the usual type of radio beacon that an Aircraft Carrier could broadcast if they were not keeping radio silence. That combined with Dead Reckoning (or ded reckoning) were their main navigation tools. A lot of pilots had to ditch when they ran out of fuel before finding a carrier to land on. Some aircraft might have had DF Loops for homing in on non directional radio beacons, again not during radio silence. Celestial navigation was limited to larger bombers and recon aircraft.

            1. Will do.

              Bismark’s video did mention a Catalina blinking one of the flights the bearing to Midway Island. That one’s probably never going to make it into a flight sim because you have to have the ability to ask for a beating from a larger plane, as well as the correct skills to read back the blink code.

              Not a trivial task.

              Kind of a similar problem with celestial navigation I’m games too. Unless the designers specifical built the sky boxes to have the real star field properly oriented, your sol :/

          3. Used air tables to learn with a sextant that were developed for navigators in flight. One pilot told me the speed was biggest issue as even at a mere 300 mph by the time you resolved the sight you were 30 miles away. At any rate process was not to use stars but quick moon sites with artificial horizon, either upper or lower limb and with good time piece you could resolve a moon sight in about 3 minutes with practice. Never did in a small plane, but a tossing boat and would be within a mile or so. Requires a couple of books or only pages if you knew enough about proposed route.

            Mostly used dead reckoning coupled with triangulating with RDF. This gets you within 1/2 mile generally which is good enough for any visual flight or sail conditions. Have had no need to practice in a decade or so, but have kept up on the orienteering.

            1. I was told by a navigator the 3 degrees of navigation accuracy.
              A surface ship navigator plots where the ship is and uses a pencil point to say “We’re here.”
              A submarine navigator puts the eraser side on the chart and says “We’re here.”
              An aircraft navigator puts his palm on the chart and says “We’re here.”

  8. I’m watching them try and put us back into the 19th century. I refuse to go there. I’ve already done the no electricity, less water way of life. It a hard life and one track road to aging hard and an early death.

    1. “We can’t get the population down to 150 million if we make things too easy for the proles, now can we?”

    2. It is fun for the weekend. It is fun for 10 days or so. BUT once done … Do. Not. Get. Between. Me. and the Hot. Shower. Just. Don’t.

      Even an RV, dry docking, is roughing it for 14 days or so, enough. Might be RV shower, but have shower. But 14 days of conserving water is enough.

      I’ve been without a washer and a dryer, for a summer. No. Thank you.

      What gets me is locally about “conserving” water … I mean, like we are shipping it to California, let alone Africa … OTOH let’s not give them any ideas. (California has already mentioned it is a shame that all that water in the Columbia actually reaches Astoria … more than once.)

              1. One of the parts of “Misery” that sticks with me weirdly well is the crazy lady dutifully filling in all of the Es and… something else… from the manuscripts writer was pumping out, because the keyboard she gave him kept dropping keys ^.^;

  9. Did you know that airbags are racist, as are emissions standards and self driving cars? Have you realized that the requirements that these be included in retail automobiles are the full moral equivalent of using an Einsatzgruppen C to outright murder the minorities in America?

    Additional design requirements, especially features, drive up the cost and complexity of a design. Design complexity means that the design process is less accessible to those without an appropriate mathematical and physical background.

    Since the humanities majors tell us that blacks are poor and innumerate, this means that state and national regulation of features has disparate impact, and is discriminatory.

    Furthermore, telling young men what risks they are not allowed to take on public roads is cultural genocide.

    1. Dude! Air bags are WHITE. Take a look at the exploded ones in a junkyard sometime. Obviously they’re instruments of aggression and repression.

      1. Friend, Facts, Logic, and MATH are racist, therefore all of science, engineering, chemistry, biology and pretty much everything from cell phones to toilet paper is racist.

        I don’t want to live in that world. They’re all going to die there, and it is going to be one odoriferous, trashy dumpster fire topped with disease and violence. And if they try to make me live there then I will be most displeased. And desire greatly to share my displeasure directly with those responsible.

        *shakes head*

        I do wonder about the whole “defund the police” thing they have going on, though, too. It isn’t just to promote the public good by taking those who break laws off the streets. It is also to prevent vigilantism. But where there are no police, some citizens *will* seek redress personally when harmed.

        And some of those citizens will be very, very good at it.

        I much prefer the model where the police actually enforce the laws on the books and support the Constitution. Fewer folks have (bad things) happen to them, and fewer folks have to live with having done said bad things.

        1. They are a Gu jar of idiots, and they have several goals that don’t necessarily make sense WRT defund/abolish the police.

          One is assuming that public policy is merely a matter of moving static objects to different positions, and there are no second order effects. Some of them are genuinely stupid or trained blind enough that they do not realize that vigilantism can occur, or that it is a way to understand ‘community policing’.

          Second, blind idiocy after stewing for decades in Marxist theory of revolution. They’ve been trying for decades to make revolution work in America, are frustrated, and do not bring a complete understanding of real world behavior to their efforts. So, ‘criminals are military power’ or ‘starting a race war is possible and will go our direction’ seem plausible to them, because they only partly understand their previous failures.

          Third, for all the talk of systemic inequity, some of these analysts are not truly systemic thinkers, and are not looking into things more deeply than “police are blamed for the problems, getting rid of the police will fix the problems.”

          Fourth, they don’t understand that the difference in how persuaded subpopulations are in tolerating gun control/leftwing tyranny reflects a possible difference in willingness to use vigilantism. Many blacks have been persuaded of theories of solidarity or white threat that make individual violence against black criminals seem like a bad thing. They figure that because blacks have been coerced into accepting choices that result in a bad security situation, that whites can be likewise persuaded, and that this would feed the activist taste for revanchism. Overlooking that white willingness to address complaints about police brutality against blacks is at least partly a result of whites growing up in very secure environments, and thus wanting blacks to live in very secure environments.

            1. It feels like old ideas to me, shared before.

              How they think it goes down is not how it goes down.

              ‘Black’ opinion and ‘White’ opinion are definitely going to shift, but my suspicion is that both will improve for the better, and the situation will be resolved before the opinion shifts reach a really bad place.

        2. I kinda figured a huge part of “defund the police” was “so we can set up our own star chambers that let us do What Needs To Be Done to the people who Need It Done To.”

          I mean, yes, letting the mob have a free hand without bail funds and sympathetic city governments is certainly a plus, but they seem much angrier at there having to be a full trial with evidence and actual written law against the “wrong people.”

          1. yes, basically. defund the police and replace them with some kind of brownshirts is another way to state it… tho i like the star chamber reference.

            there is no sanctuary.

      2. Fine. We can formulate the antiracist airbags using black powder. Problem is they will inflate a little too slow… Anyone who wants to avoid the racist white powder when their airbag goes off should have a choice.

        1. Actually, coloring a powder charge might not be too hard.

          Some of the things I mentioned I very much prefer not to have in cars. Airbags I’m agnostic on. I mainly mentioned them because I thought that they might be something that would make relatively sane people go ‘wait a minute…’

          1. Having “enjoyed” first hand the effects of an airbag going off in my face . . . No thanks. Among other things it knocked my glasses off, making me in effect blind. Thanks be no car was coming toward me, because I could not have seen it. The shoulder harness did its job, I didn’t need the bag (plus I’m one inch too tall to get a medical slip to have the blasted things deactivated.)

            1. Yeah, I’ve got to apologize for suggesting that airbags were a good idea.

              My brain is a little scattered.

              My main audiences for this trolling would not be the sort of people observant and analytical enough to work out on their own that CRT is a really bad idea. Most of these audiences are the type of people who take claims of airbag effectiveness at face value.

          2. Never liked airbags. Much rather have a four-point (or five-point) seat belt. Like a race car or fighter plane.

            Had a friend who was four-foot-nothing. When the dangers of airbags for small people were first publicized, she started driving with her car seat slid all the way back, steering with only her fingertips on the wheel. That was before you could get them deactivated. Doubt she was safer than she would have been with no airbag. Doubt airbags were a net improvement to her life, even ignoring the extra cost. Ref: “man of system.” Too many of them around. Ref: “the logic of collective action” for why they often get their way.

            1. The Main Problem with Airbags was that they were Government Mandated to protect drivers who didn’t use seatbelts but the auto-makers had tests that showed that the airbags were extremely dangerous to people not using airbags but the Government Assholes said DO IT.

              So the auto-makers did it knowing that if they were sued, their winning defense was “The Government Said To Do It”.

              Oh, the vast majority of Insurance Companies will tell you that Airbags are Safest when using seatbelts. 😉

  10. A few years ago I was horrified to see the curriculum taking place in Oldest Daughter’s Spanish class. I’ve been a Spanish linguist for a couple of decades, and found out the same thing: a few memorized phrases and some kiddie songs were all that were being taught for the first couple of years of Spanish.

    I had a talk with my daughter. Because the Regents’ Scholarship (up until this year) required two years of foreign language, every Tom, Dick and Harry were putting their kids into foreign language to check the box, and as long as their kids passed the classes and checked the box, they didn’t care how little their kids learned. Thus the first two years of any foreign language in public schools is typically wasted effort these days.

    I started teaching my oldest kids the same way: grammar and vocabulary. After a few months of them learning the basics, I started waking them up for scripture study in Spanish. I’d correct their pronunciation, have them analyze the text to see if they could figure out what it meant before looking it up in the dictionary, discussing etymology and Latin roots, etc. You’ve never seen joy until you’ve seen junior high school students studying Isaiah in Spanish at 5:00 AM (I go to work early) LOL.

    Currently, the kids are all performing well in music, Spanish, math, science, and martial arts. Oldest Daughter has passed at least half a dozen AP classes to include Physics and Spanish. her younger siblings aren’t far behind her.

    The public school system from the outside looks like it assumes your kids are stupid. But often it’s just teachers that are beaten down and jaded and getting by teaching the bare minimum.

    1. Unfortunately this way of teaching a foreign language dates all the way back to the 60’s. In high school I had a native German instructor who taught us the old way. When I got to college, they tested everybody for placement because they were used to people with high school credit and no real knowledge. I finished the hour test in 15 minutes, looked around to see people still working on it, went back over it to double-check, and turned it in after 20 minutes total wondering what everybody else was doing. When I got to the placement guy, he said, “Oh, you’re from xxx High. We know about you guys,” and put me in advanced German.

    2. > [Bible study] … martial arts



      “Okay, two falls out of three?”

    3. Ahh! This explains what I’ve been having to deal with young kids in high school. I’ve had more than a handful act all superior that they are learning some or another exotic language in high school, but when confronted with just easy stuff out of an adult they are trying hard to impress they get ‘deer in a headlights’ reaction.

  11. “the long war of the 20th century”
    Thank you for that Sarah. I keep campaigning to have the war of 1914-1989 declared the second hundred-years’ war.

      1. The biggest thing I can remember that affected me personally was that the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. I was still in the service.

      2. Yes one can argue it’s still going on with the Chinese although it’s been in a long semi-dormant period.

    1. > 1989

      I’m not sure it’s over. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics no longer exists as a recognized polity, but it looks like they’re winning anyway…

  12. Way back, over 50 years ago, when my kids walked a mile to catch the school bus at temperatures down to fifty below zero (honest injun!), We ‘plained to them it was a socialization, not an education environment, but they could find information and gain some education therein in spite of, not because of, the system.

    It didn’t work out too bad, my son, the porno director (He spent some years in Hollywood) and my daughter, the no neck construction stiff (PE licensed engineer) have gained a modicum of skills and abilities over the years.

    My savage teenage granddaughter, on the other hand; She’s marking time matriculating but she/we are assuring she’s educated and socialized well outside the walls of present day academia.

    Minor clarification, my son’s not really a porno director however like the mother that told everyone her son played piano in a bordello ‘cause she didn’t want folks to know he was a politician, -I didn’t want to let you know he has an ad agency.

    Savage teenage granddaughter, BTW: is fifty miles from the Alaskan border crewing on a sailboat being delivered up here from Washington. She’s champing at the bit, counting inches to Alaska, after nine days of not being allowed to set foot on dry ground, under threat of if doing so being jailed for eternity and fined her lifetime earnings if she dared to touch Canadian soil during this Bad China Cold State Of Emergency.

    1. UPdate on the ST Granddaughter, she just crossed the border into Alaskan waters;
      Speed: 7.56 mph Course: NW
      Elevation: 1.05 ft. Batt: Normal
      Lat: 54.731183 Lon: -130.896778

        1. It’s part of navigating on the water, I believe. It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve never used a sextant.

          1. If you have good charts, they show channels and currents. Anything larger than a rowboat needs to know the channels, and so a lot of GPS units show elevation along with lat-long. If you are doing it the oooooold fashioned way, you have a lead weight on the end of a string, and lower it until it touches bottom. That shows depth (in shallow water. Sonar also works, but it’s not as oooooooold fashioned.)

            1. you have a lead weight on the end of a string, and lower it until it touches bottom.

              “Mark one! Mark twain!”

            2. Yes!

              I lived in the FL Keys for about six years. One of the first things I did was take the Coast Guard navigation safety course. All that “red right returning” stuff and how to read charts. And how to carry a spare propeller blade in the back country, and why.

              You can easily go from ten feet to two feet depth in an instant.

        2. GPS does if you have enough satellites. Your charts provide channel depth, if you are where you think you are. Depending on the location and the size of your boat or ship, tides are also important, as Jim says.

        3. a1) racism
          a2) GPS instrument works by approximating distance to four or more satellites. There is an unpredictable error that it doesn’t know in advance, and if you already knew position to the same precision, you would not need GPS. It is doing discrete calculations from a periodic signal, so the guesses have aliasing. Even if you only need two coordinates, you/it are solving for three, because a two coordinate solution is slower to discard bad answers.

          Also, with a boat, you would have more up and down antenna motion to worry about. If your instrument can handle that, why not display the average height?
          a3) systemic racism
          a4) some of the folks here have been talking celestial navigation lately. Math is similar to but different from GPS. If you are doing moon shoots, the diameter of the moon can give distance if you have the exact time. But, since you have a human looking, and not an antenna measuring a radio signal, you can also guess at direction. Still, you can’t estimate x and y well if you do not also have the information to estimate z.

          There may be a type of instrument that could not estimate z, when it can estimate x and y, but I’m not sure what it would be.

  13. Yeah, the System has failed to teach. But YouTube, on the other hand…

    (Yes, curse Google with the fires of a thousand suns, but YouTube is everyone’s alma mater at this point.) A university is a teacher sitting on one end of a log, with a student at the other. People are learning to do things, how to think about things, all the things that used to happen in what we condsider “education”; It’s just that they’re getting it 10 minutes or an hour at a time, as they need it.

    1. One of my great frustrations this past year has been not being able to use various video resources in class (copyright reasons. [long complicated story here].) There are good things out there that can be wonderful . . . Once you find them and use them in the right context.

    2. Several years ago our team had to build Leopold benches. There were three of us on the detail and we could run the saw and use tools, but had no instructions. We kept studying a finished bench, but could not figure out how to attach the short leg. Then I said, “YouTube!” and got my tablet. The second video we tried showed us exactly what we needed to do. We went from “one bench in a day and a half, sort of,” to “two benches a day and since we have leftover wood let’s make another one!”

  14. Something everyone should know how to do: Start a fire without matches or a lighter; if things completely collapse, knowing how to make a fire so one can boil water, etc., without the usual fire starting tools, is going to be essential

    1. The collapse is not that way.
      It’s the “going feral” way.
      I can’t imagine us collapsing past (down) from the internal combustion engine. At worst we’ll be doing bizarre things with steam.

      1. You mean all that time spent doodling steampunk contraptions will finally be good for something?

      2. Every time I see someone wittering on about why the Inca didn’t use the wheel, when they obviously knew about it since they left wheeled toys behind… “You *do* understand that the Inca had a bureaucracy that made the Chinese or Ottomans look like amateurs, right?”

        1. *dry tone* The landscape had something to do with it, too. Geography is not destiny, but the Andes are not exactly conducive to carts. Which some people don’t seem to grok. The inability to llamas to pull heavy loads might also be a consideration. (See: environment) *end dry tone*

          1. Not all of the Inca Empire (mostly Peru, nowadays) is hostile to the wheel. Note that modern Peruvians seem to make wheelbarrows and carts work just fine, even without internal combustions, horses, or turbo llamas.

            1. Llamas can pull a reasonable load for their size. Here are 2-seater llama carts… cart (75 lbs) and two people is what, 400 pounds or more?


              [Neighbor across the way in Clarkston had a big-ass llama that could probably have pulled a good deal more; it was nearly the size of a camel.]

              1. Wait, wait, I know there’s something funky in this– you can’t just have like “drop cart on (mount),” you have to have the right kind of leverage.

                Uh… horsecollar?


                Yes! You need a collar style thing, you can’t just like tie it to the horse. Before the horse collar, they didn’t work so well.

                For human pulling stuff, a two wheel cart with like a big square out front and a big bar to haul– you can totally manage “the load falls off the back” angles.

                But you need the right REST of the design.

                1. Did you look at their llama harnesses? they use a horsecollar type harness for load distribution.

                  1. If they actually had a horsecar style harness— not just “look like it to normies”– then that would be…amazing.

                    Because “shift from lift to pull” was ginormous.

          2. Also, llamas can climb stairs, which makes it easier to build roads up slopes, but then you have to use packs anyway.

        2. Yep. It’s a large part of the reason Cortes was able to conquer them so easily. They simply couldn’t act without orders. Cortes killed the emperor and essentially removed all decision-making capabilities. That and they were in the middle of a civil war. But, bureaucratic sclerosis was most of their problem.

          1. Cortese was greatly helped by making political alliances with the Aztecs’ enemies. I read Prescott’s history and was surprised by how complex it all was.

            1. Yeah, Paul was right, it was Pizarro with Incas and Cortes with the Aztecs. And, yeah, the Aztec empire was (surprise!) not universally loved. So when Cortes showed up with superior weaponry those subject tribes on the edges of the empire who had been trying to get out from under the Aztecs were more than happy to supply men and information to Cortes. They figured the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

              Of course, then they got screwed over again.

              1. The Mound-Builders trampled the Spanish whenever it came to conflict. They still had a collapse so utter that many descendants of theirs didn’t even know that the mounds were not natural.

      3. It won’t be “reboot from sticks and stones and sinews and bones” (even post-nuclear would not be that). But… rebooting bits and there from, say, oh, 1920.. maybe. But as you say, “going feral’ so not so much as rebooting as restoring from backup… and… some of the tapes have degraded. I expect there might be “We KNOW it’s possible, but, how the blazes did they/we get from D to F? What the HELL was E?!”

          1. I was thinking something like “full citation of arguments leading up to the US Constitution, including both sides of the arguments, yes including attempted amendments to the current day” is one book, right?”

            1. Because that there is basically “Natural Law and philosophy arguments with all their holes showing and patches applied, then where new holes opened up.”

          2. And far, far too many of the people who pretend to be on our side are champing at the bit to burn that to the ground.

            [pulls out the “cw2 will be mostly blue-on-blue” soapbox]

      4. Indeed. Even in a complete cultural/supply chain collapse, there will be all kinds of used equipment laying around, not to mention technical knowledge.

        There’s a scene in one of the Dies The Fire books where the good guys are besieging one of the bad guys’ castles, and one of the good guys says something like “our tech may have been knocked back to the 11th century, but $BADGUYLEADER thinks it actually is the 11th century. [gestures at army] How many of these men do you think are going to die of dysentery?” And that’s in an SF scenario where technology really has been knocked back to the 11th century; that’s not going to happen in even the worst real world SHTF situation: we’re still going to know about electricity even if all the power plants are offline.

        1. One After-The-Bomb novel had most of Eastern North America controlled by a religion that banned guns (and other technology) but there was this one nation that still had guns.

          Strangely, that one nation hadn’t conquered the rest of Eastern North America. 😈

        2. Comment in the same series when someone is worried about having smiths to make swords: millions of useless cars, with leaf springs that could be ground into swords.
          Mind you, my worry would then be that nobody would bother to keep the smithing skills going until they ran out of leaf springs.

          1. See, that was actually useful information to me, because I thought leaf springs went out with stagecoaches in favor of shock absorbers.

            1. Army deuce and a half trucks have leaf springs as well as the 5-tons.

            2. A S it hadn’t even occured to me that leaf springs could be turned into swords.

              It’s obvious now that its been pointed out (spring steel is spring steel) but I never would have thought of it on my own.

              1. Saw blades make REALLY NICE knives, too– my grandfather made a ton out of the ones from the mill that were too beat up to use, but the smaller version would also work. Smaller knives (his looked like k-bars, you can’t get many out of a civilian level circular saw blade) could come out of normal ones, too.

            3. Springs and shock absorbers perform two entirely different functions. Springs allow the axle to ride over a bump independent of the body; shock absorbers make it STOP BOUNCING after you’re past the bump.

              You may be thinking of those McPherson struts, where they wrapped a coil spring around a shock absorber. Not very useful for making swords.

              Torsion bar suspension is one of my favorites. Axle movement twists one end of a long steel bar.
              Nobody has so little that some asshole doesn’t want to take it. And the government is full of assholes.

            4. Gurkhas. Kukris are ground from leaf spring steel. Not a sword, but that’s beside the point (ha). Dual use – works well for brush clearing AND…other kinds of clearing.

          2. A gazillion “FORGED!” type reality TV shows to the rescue!

            The fanboys may not know how to do it, exactly, but they have the bits and pieces to figure it out and the springs to make do until they get it.

        3. That might have been the one where they infiltrated the castle using hang gliders launched the local hill. Perfect point.

          I gave up on that series after a few books: Did they ever deliver any answer to the whodunnit of “magically changed the laws of physics so guns and cars and electricity don’t work”?

          1. Yeah, that was the hang glider incident.

            I gave up too, one book before they send a party back East to figure out what happened to Nantucket. I’ve heard rumors around something something Lovecraftian.

            1. Quit too soon. Sure the books somewhat goes sideways in the who-done-it, why track. But the trek east was kind of neat. The descriptions of how other locations survived, and how. The Sioux. Their reaction to Iowa (no ranch/farm, or even city fortifications). The group that started with children and teens who managed to stay clean despite man-eaters surrounding them. The latter books after Rudi dies does some of this to an extent, but not as much. Yes. I stayed with the books to the end of the series. It was hard … but …

          2. “The Gods”.

            Seriously, later in the series some god-like beings told them that the Change had to happen to prevent something worse.

            To make things “more interesting” some of the god-like beings were extremely nasty so to protect yourself from the nasty ones, you had to accept one of the “good” ones as your patron.

            Oh, apparently some of the god-like beings claimed to be angels or Christian saints.

      5. Basically anything that a person can build in their backyard with enough instructions will still be around. The printing press has seen to that.

        What will more likely eh lost are things that require complex coordination to do. Computers will be set back generations, and I’m not sure how many.

        Totalitarian societies can not build cutting edge things. There are reasons the Soviet air force was still using vacuum tubes into the 80’s and 90’s, and why China still has no good semi-conductor founderies.

        (And, if they do “acquire” Taiwan, we can expect severe chip shortages.)

        1. I mean, the US Air Force was still using vacuum tubes in the 2000’s. Granted not for any primary duty aircraft electronics, but some things they had enough spares of and used seldom enough that they didn’t see a point in getting something else FAA approved for aircraft use.

          1. Still used in space, I believe. Something about radiation, if I remember correctly.

          2. The Navy FINALLY approved a standard for calibrating the thing used to calibrating several vital systems on F-18s that didn’t include vacuum tubes in 2006. (It had to do with frequency, and all of this is publicly available if you have a VERY high tolerance for boring.)

            I helped raid the base museum to get new tubes in … 2003, IIRC? May have been ’04.

            So we could calibrate a piece of equipment from Area 51.

            …yes, that is my coolest Navy story, and yes I tell it at very chance…. ^.^

          3. Vacuum tubes are still used in music, because some folks like the tube amplifier’s distortion better than the distortion of a solid state amplifier.

            There are lots of military electrical systems that use amplifiers. In particular, with jamming, you may want high power amplifiers that work at high frequencies for radar and communications.

            Solid state chips can be very tiny; engineering high power can be difficult. I understand that the switch from a single high power tube to a bunch of solid state amplifiers is recent or even ongoing.

            1. I don’t think anybody has come up with a semiconductor replacement for the klystron or magnatron tubes in radar transmitters. Or for the T/R tube that protects the receiver input from the transmit pulse. I think most RF transmitters over a kilowatt CW power use tubes.

      6. Much general population knowledge has already been lost in moving from old-school IC engines that somehow managed to keep running with no digital electronics (What the heck is a distributor? Or a carburetor? Timing – what’s that? Set a gap between what and what?) to modern IC engines where everything is electronically fiddled in real-time by computer maps.

        Now they want to force all vehicles to electric motors – so, to coal-power or natural gas – where there’s literally nothing that can be done to keep it running, or to do if it doesn’t keep running. Just batteries (in a sealed box) and charging electronics (in a sealed box) and motors (in a sealed box), running software (that you can’t get at and really don’t want to anyway).

        One of the things that the western front Europeans noted when US GIs were rescuing European civilization the second time around was that in general, Europeans on both sides basically treated motor vehicles as mysterious magical implements, which when they failed were abandoned until the experts in arcane mechanical exotica came forward to perform their dark arts to repair them, while, again in general, GIs knew how to get things running again on their own and so mostly kept their own vehicles running.

        When your technology goes from “You need to know some maintenance to perform and basic principles of how it works” to “No user-serviceable parts inside”, your civilization is not really expanding its robustness and resistance to shocks.

        Now it could be that this is just me lamenting the lost art of buggy whip weaving, and maybe in the next world war the European troops will stare in wonder at the l337 coding and hacking chops of the US GIs when we rescue civilization the next time. But you still have to change the tire of your electric vehicle when it goes flat…

      7. Rolling brownouts, unreliable electric service. Water becoming iffy in places. Southern Cali depopulating. ((Violence)) in urban areas, spreading to rural areas and succeeding in some places, and most definitely NOT in others. Spotty local control, some places functional (usually rural) some places not. Infrastructure’s going to take a hit- more than it has.

        Prices will get weird. Stuff will become hard to get. I don’t mean iphones, or toilet paper, I mean fresh veggies in some places, and meat might become black market in others. New routines, and lines will show up because of shortages.

        Note well that WE are the ones that go in with food, medicine, men, and machines when somewhere in the world drops in the pot. *Nobody* is going to come help us like we did for the world. Thus shortages, lines, brownouts, and the like.

        Like as not we’ll get both an expansion of the State and a reduction of it at the same time. Expansion, because, duh, bureaucracy dies if it doesn’t grow (shut off the ventilator already and let it DIE!). And reduction, because incompetence viz the riots and defund the police- reduction in *actual* efficacy.

        That will lead to shadow-government like entities. Cartels, gangs in urban areas. Even citizen groups in some places, mostly rural. Black market will *explode* in growth when shortages, idiotic regulations hit. Malicious compliance will also proliferate.

        Expect cities to limp along longer than you’d think. They’ll bleed people, but they’ll keep enough functional to mostly survive. Not in the best way, of course. You’ll still have cities, but certain things will become commonplace (or more prevalent, depending). Crime, of course, and corruption. Bribery, grift. Expect banditry and ambushes to become normalized in the worst places, excused or ignored by authorities. And if you think “it’s happening already!” then believe you me it can and will get worse if we go down this path. Look to places in Africa and South Asia, Venezuela and Boznia, Argentina, and the Balkans.

        In places life will become cheap, and people will look to strong men to provide at least *some* stability, so we’ll get warlords most like. Roving bands of violent men (yes, men, because if you haven’t seen it you don’t want to know what happens to women when civilization falls) mean trust levels will go down faster than a drunk cheerleader during spring break.

        In many places, life will proceed if not normally but functionally. There will still be jobs and work to do. Gas stations will still pump gas when and where they have it. Grocery stores (especially in cities) will have bars. Maybe you slip a list through the window, and they give you your stuff through a lockout box (these places exist today, and have for decades in places like Boston and Chicago- and places overseas, where the criminal element is similar).

        In other places you won’t even be able to tell much difference. We’re already on the path, and it isn’t a good one. If you ask me what’s the worst we *could* see, the above is getting there. When the government has to remind the common people not to eat their children, we’re there. As of right now, we’re not. Yet.

        1. Grocery stores (especially in cities) will have bars. Maybe you slip a list through the window, and they give you your stuff through a lockout box

          So two data points that just became connected in my head based on this: First, the meteoric rise of grocery delivery during the Wuhan Bad Cold pandemic, including Amazon Fresh with its invocation of By The Power of Bezos! behind it, and second the prior cycle of local stores going away once more organized competition comes along.

          So subscriptions to grocery delivery join subscriptions to streaming vid and ebooks and police services – possibly fire too, though the subscription there might be for upgrades from the baseline mandatory subscription level as fire spreads and a community really can’t afford to let anyone freeload on fire protection.

          And those well-stocked neighborhood Grocery Stores that so astonished and consternated the Soviets disappear, replaced by the heavily secured warehouse somewhere that only the picking-and-delivery employees can get inside, and delivery vehicles get security riding shotgun, and gaining armed escort to transit the bad zones…

          1. You’re exactly right. And those places already existed in some places since the early 90’s- you just don’t see them in rural America. Heck, you didn’t see them in large cities in the South and the West Coast in the early 2000s, but I expect they are coming. To Portland, Seattle, and Austin, since I’m dead sure Chicago and Boston already have them.

            Subscription services for police, fire, though, they probably already came in as the VFDs and private security and gated communities. Folks that can afford it, do. Don’t pay your bill, don’t come a callin’ when trouble finds you, and the like.

            Normally I try to be more optimistic about our people and the land we live in. Realistic, but optimistic based on certain facts. I expect trouble ahead, though, based on all the little data points and the suspicions drawn from the way things are talked about in the news, in politics, and in public these days. My gut says “prepare carefully.” Plan for the good. Plan for the bad. Plan for the worst, just in case.

        2. > That will lead to shadow-government like entities. Cartels, gangs in urban areas.

          The resurgence/normalization of old-style Democratic “Machine” politics, patronage, unofficial payments for official services, mordida…

          1. You’re right. I didn’t mean to imply that such things weren’t happening *now* and had been for oh, some time now already. Just that it would get much, much worse, more blatant, and accepted into the public consciousness.

            Today, now, people don’t think you can bribe a cop, or a judge, to get out of a speeding ticket, for example. Not most people, anyways. The rich and the “elites” aside, of course. But on the path we’re on now? Ten years on the outside, at a guess. I’d very much like to be proven wrong when it *doesn’t* happen, though.

            1. Who needs to bribe? Smollett’s problem is that such things must be handled quietly, and he was aiming for noise.

      8. I foresee less a cataclysmic event, than a slow inertia slide. At least in rural areas. The cities they are toast and quickly. The skills inherent in a small town and community will coalesce to keep much of civilization going even if on life support, for a time. Perhaps enough time for a proper reboot.

        The rule of law on the other hand may be a bit more difficult to adhere to. I think there will be a reckoning and a settling of perceived debts, whether political or private (similar to France after WW2) that will necessitate some rapid organization along the lines of our republic. Small towns actually have practice in that.

        Also to your point, learn a little and then share it out. Teaching reinforces the lessons and then builds on. Remember Manny’s description of Professor LaPaz. How he would dig in to learn and keep ahead enough to teach while still charging. Loved that.

        1. I foresee a cataclysmic event, but very brief. And near.
          You have to remember there are very few of them. There will be a precipitating incident or two…. First slow, then fast.
          It’s whether we right the ship after, or things fall apart that is in the air.

          1. Oh, there will be one. Has to be, it’s in the playbook they’re all reading from. Viz. the ChiCom-cough-idiocy. Folks like to throw around the “Kristallnacht” term, but that’s just the most visible and handy one to remember. As if governmental entities have not been themselves creating the reasons for their later actions (crackdowns, pogroms, New Deal and its zombie clone the Green Nude Heel, and so on) for, well, at least a couple millennia now.

            If I remember correctly there was a study on how much of Twiddler is far left, and what percentage of the US that was (3%? Less?) saying that dim bulb Dem national politics was being driven by a tiny, minuscule minority. Add only about 40% of the US votes in a major election, to boot. More people are paying attention these days, but it was just *barely* not enough to beat the margin of fraud last time. And they had to pull off some truly epic (in scale, and stupidity) fraud to make it happen, too.

            One of the things I see that *isn’t* depressing is the ongoing and continuing political awaking. The illumination of the rats in the R party. The real-world shock of sleeper democrat voters waking up to what their policies result in turning red and leaving. That latter is especially heavy- folks see it as a betrayal, and that is serious psychological mojo. As long as the Rs they come to after don’t fork it up too badly (and the non-state level Rs can be pretty good), those are lifelong and passionate Rs.

            It doesn’t exactly work the same in the other direction. Oh, there are Rs that go D, but they were always D. Their friends, family members, interests, and coworkers are all D, and there is no D policy they won’t suck up to while making the “conservative case” for, say, transgender abortions to combat prenatal multiracial whiteness (or whatever word salad of the day the darts hit).

            Righting the ship of state is not going to be easy. We need to neuter the courts, burn a bunch of regs, excommunicate a few fed departments, muck out the Augean stables- I mean the fibbies and their friends, and for the love of Bub fix the flipping IRS. In sci-fi terms we’ve got multiple breaches, half the command staff is infected, the drive is venting plasma, hydroponics is on fire, and we are actively being boarded while fighting a zombie plague. But this is the only ship we’ve got, and its mighty cold outside.

          2. It does seem that the wheels are coming off a remarkable number of the “shall not be questioned” stories all at the same time. The latest on the paper detailing the snip-marks and odd structure of the commievirus looks like smoking gun-level, and the panic of the “thou shalt not speak of this” side could soon reach the point that they pull whatever triggers they have accumulated.

            As noted, the hard work will be making sure which direction the boat ends up rolled to afterwards – I still give equal odds on “man on a horse” as getting back to anything close to an even keel.

      9. Well given their efforts to undo the industrial revolution with their Green Leap Forward, and their effort to fully wreck the economy with communism (just take a look at the HarrisBiden budget released today), having basic survival skills like that will be handy.

  15. Yes. No matter what life is throwing at us, hold up our heads and learn, learn, learn.

    1. Some of the mottos of British knights are interesting.

      Christopher Frayling chose “PERGE SCELUS MIHI DIEM PERFICIAS.” [more or less, “go ahead, punk, make my day”]

      Terry Pratchett chose “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

      Winston Churchill, for no reason I’ve ever seen explained, chose “Fiel pero desdichado.” [faithful, but unfortunate]

        1. According to the googly translator, “Desperatis, sed non gravis .” I like the sentiment!

          It is sad that after five years of Latin, starting in 8th grade, I could probably have translated this from Latin to English, but not the other way round without a dictionary. Memorizing the vocabulary has always been my weakest point in any language except English. 😉

        2. Despero sed ignoro. I despair but I ignore. same sentiment but works better as a motto.

          My mother’s family motto is Vinctus sed non victus. Defeated but not vanquished which actually fits the family history very well.

          1. If I ever decide to adopt a motto, “Get Off My Lawn!” is high on the list…

      1. That was chosen by his ancestor the first Winston Churchill during the civil war in the 1640’s, I think. It’s the Spencer- Churchill motto used by the whole family including the current Duke of Marlborough.

    2. I think it was the old gentleman from The Masqueraders. The Tremaine family motto.

  16. Programmer here. when my kids needed help with math – it was real math. I had to “deconstruct” my process (which is basicly as soon as i see the problem the answer pops into my head” in order to teach them. doing so I learned a lot from this. now I have grandkids struggling in math so I was given 5th grade math homework and went what the actual F is this? took it to work and sat down with 2 co-workers with docs in math and they went WTF? one of them found a website that actually translates “new math” terms into “old math” terms. so with this we typed in the problem and it spits out a translation. we were oh! divide a fraction. je@@s wept.
    at ninth grade, I actually went to the teacher and said “show me how to solve this problem on my grandaughers homework”. she could not do it herself. by the 90’s my wife would sit down and spell check everything for the school in red marker and send it back demanding it be fixed. got into it with the principal – “if you don’t spell things correctly how can you teach my kids to spell?”

    1. For future issues– try Khan. That’s their whole thing. They do the math teaching that most teachers don’t do.

      I am not good at math, and I do not like math, but I was good at translating the book instructions to English so I ended up teaching the highest math I got in high school.

      The guy had a degree in math, he just refused to actually teach.

      I have LOADS of issues with math as she is taught. 😀

      1. Khan is excellent for almost all subjects. I used them for a lot of things in my intro American and intro foreign politics classes.

      2. Several schools I went to used math make-work as group punishment. Some kid got caught shooting spitwards, wouldn’t shut up, wouldn’t stay in his seat… the entire class did math problems as punishment.

        Did a pretty good job of souring me on math. Particularly after being expelled a couple of times for refusing to be punished for something I didn’t do.

    2. I feel like sooner or later I’m going to have to comb The Weekly Roll’s archives and build a meme deck of Becket’s “What the actual F” moments for stuff like this…

    3. This last. In Junior High ahd High School, son would bring home notices that needed a signature, and I would send them back with the spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors corrected in IIRC red ink. Never seemed to have any effect, tho. Yes, I used to be a proofreader, why do you ask?

    4. Not sure if this has anything to do with new math, but:

      A few months ago I was writing a large integer math library for a cryptography library. (Yes, yes, I know. Standard yelling about writing your own cryptography primitives.)

      It was a little interesting in that I had to review a lot about how arithmetic worked in order to teach a computer how to precisely work with addition/subtraction/multiplication/division of 4096+ bit numbers. For those who don’t program: Computer CPUs have built-in math operations on certain data-types (you have to start with some set of operations, or it isn’t a computer!), but the data-types are usually limited in the size of the numbers they can represent. 64-bit integers, IEEE-floats, that sort of thing. If you want a computer to do something with larger numbers, you need to write a program telling it what to do. For cryptography, a lot of the standard algorithms work by representing very large blocks of data as a very large number, and then doing things to that very large number that are easy to do one way and near impossible to do in reverse (like fast-modular-exponentiation).

      So I needed to teach the computer how to do long division (for the modulus);. I needed to teach it how to do long division with numbers with 500+ base-2^32 “digits”. The standard schoolbook multiplication, division, etc algorithms work but they’re slow. (O (N^2) ) in the number of digits if you do things naively. So there are all sorts of ways of speeding things up in the Handbook of Applied Cryptography, some of which are very nonintuitive. (Ways of guessing at the result in long division so that you only have to do some bounded number of iterations past that point to find the solution.) Karatsuba multiplication. Things like that.

      If you encounter a bizzare algorithm in “new math”, it might be someone misapplying something like one of these algorithms. Of course, unless you are multiplying (1000 digit thing) x (1000 digit thing), it doesn’t really gain you anything.

      Fast modular exponentiation is naively O(N^3 – ish), so every bit of speed is important if you want to use 4096-bit-RSA.

      1. PS: My large integer math library is ever so slightly faster than Python’s built-in large-integer math library. Not due to cleverness of the algorthms (I did eventually skip Karatsuba multiplication, because it doesn’t become faster until larger integers than I’ll be dealing with), but mostly due to fanatical bare-metal-C working memory management.

        It might also be interesting to write an arbitrary-precision-floating-point library for fractal/chaos-theory stuff.

        If you reinvent the wheel it’s your wheel. I’m rather stubborn about doing so, because it’s one of the only ways I learn how to really do something.

      2. > Standard yelling

        “You shouldn’t throw away generations of optimization and debugging by Very Smart People.”

        “Yeah, but that’s also a well-known and static attack face…”

  17. I remember once, maybe 25-30 years ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about WWII, and his young housemate, in all bright-eyed innocence, interrupted us and asked, “Who’s Auschwitz?”

    Turns out his public school education had been rather lacking on the topic.

    I file the serial numbers off this story these days because the fellow is a lot older and wiser now.

  18. was in berlin 2 years ago. we took a shortcut thru a college campus to hit some museums . on our way thru there were several open air lectures going on – explaining who hitler was. to collage kids. in BERLIN –

    1. I could understand Germans not wanting to talk about WWII at all to elementary-school kids … but skipping high school, also?

      1. IIRC East Germany “blotted out much of WW2” so West Germans may have known about Hitler but East Germans (of a certain age) may not have known about him.

          1. And who’s THIS stranger that just wandered in? 🙂

            Hey, Shadow. How’ve you been?

  19. If they thought what they saw in the war was the result of Western Civilization, they’d never studied other civilizations

    I think it was less, initially at least, that such brutality in war was the product of Western Civilization, but a shattering of belief in the value of Western Civilization for not preventing them from behaving “no differently” than other cultures. Reading general public articles about WWI, such as the 70s entry on the war from The Encyclopedia Americana (, which was my introduction to the war, portray a world that could not conceive of another general war, much less one that would consume a generation in death.

    Afterwards, this became a blame on the West itself, an idea encouraged by those who prior to the war had wanted to end the West and did not change during it, but the seed was “why are we such savages despite all our advancement”.

    1. “why are we such savages despite all our advancement”.

      Because despite all the trappings of ‘civilization’ we are still, thankfully, human. We do what humans do. We create and we destroy. We love and we hate. When we forget that humans are individuals that do not necessarily think all the same way or see all the same way, that is when ‘civilization’ pushes us to extremes and we come at savagery from the other side, as it were.

      1. A lot of people at the start of the 20th Century, even though not Marxists, had drunk from the same “humanity is predictable” cup as Marx. While common, it seems a lot of Enlightment thinkers bought it and as science rose so did that belief.

        They genuinely believed that war among cuvilized nations was unpossible.

        1. I was actually a little surprised at how easy it was to write characters who were absolutely certain that a major European war couldn’t happen, or that if one did break out, it would be over in a few weeks (like the Franco-Prussian War). Some of the most popular books in 1912-1913 explained why a modern economy did not permit a long war. Only two books that I found ended up being correct about what sort of war and how long a war industrial economies could create. And their authors were considered to be as nutty as a Corsicana TX fruitcake.

          1. Moltke’s staff didn’t expect it to last long. Why should it? Civilized nations normally negotiated surrender terms after it became apparent they couldn’t win. And that’s what France had already done in 1871, after all. All very nice and civilized.

            The problem was, the French parliamentary government of 1914 was fractured into the Government-of-the-Week-Club, and nobody could agree on terms of surrender, not long enough to get it all done with before they were swept out by a new group. And the military was against it, and the general population was very much against it. Which was important, as the French government viewed its own population as a more serious threat than the Kaiser’s army. So the war just kept going, not because the French had any serious expectation of victory, but because nobody wanted to be left holding the bag of defeat.

            The major result of that was that it gave France time to start getting troops and materiel from its colonial holdings in useful quantities. Colonies had never been a big factor in previous conflicts… but the sun never set on the French Empire either, and eventually convoys were bringing help from all over the world. And the political situation in Europe turned into an ongoing disaster as countries aligned with one side or the other, revolutionaries went “yee-haw!”, governments toppled, and then America entered the war… Like Robert E. Lee before and Isoroku Yamamoto after, Helmuth Moltke’s plans depended on a quick victory; there was no reason to plan for an extended conflict since the German Empire didn’t have the resources for a longer war. Yet they wound up locked in a war of attrition, against an increasing roster of enemies being supplied from all over the world; multiple logistics chains that couldn’t be cut, against multiple polities who would have to be individually defeated.

            And then Woodrow Wilson happened, and Germany got a twenty-year breather to regroup and re-arm…

            1. They didn’t even have resources for a short war. The plan was to win quickly and force the enemy to pay indemnities that would cover the charges and yield a profit.

        2. Certainly Kipling believed it..

          The Peace Of Dives

          “Wilt thou call again thy peoples, wilt thou craze anew thy Kings?
          “Lo! my lightnings pass before thee, and their whistling servant brings,
          “Ere the drowsy street hath stirred,
          “Every masked and midnight word,
          “And the nations break their fast upon these things.

          “So I make a jest of Wonder, and a mock of Time and Space,
          “The roofless Seas an hostel, and the Earth a market-place,
          “Where the anxious traders know
          “Each is surety for his foe,
          “And none may thrive without his fellows’ grace.

          “Now this is all my subtlety and this is all my Wit,
          “God give thee good enlightenment. My Master in the Pit.
          “But behold all Earth is laid
          “In the Peace which I have made,
          “And behold I wait on thee to trouble it!”

    2. In the end, both WWI and WWII (European theater) were yet another round of endless European squabbles. Only they upped the ante with weapons and industrial-level genocide. And, what most Americans forget is that there was a large contingent in the US that didn’t disagree with Hitler’s aims.

      1. Nod.

        My problem with WW2 is “why didn’t France & England do something about Hitler when they could”.

        1. Because he was facing east first. So they figured he was Russia’s and Poland’s problem. And, they didn’t really care what happened to the east. *Then* he looked west. By then it was far too late to stop him easily.

        2. Reading the Peter Wimsey, and Chesterton (note, died before WWII) books helped me with this.

          Basically…there was so much bad philosophy, and while some folks saw it coming, it wasn’t OBVIOUS that it would.

          Most of the folks going “Dude, TRAIN!?!?!?” at least in English were Catholic, who were coming from a different philosophical standpoint, so their arguments got discounted more than they should.

          And a the hang-over from WWI meant that the emotional arguments got traction in a lot of places.

          1. Point.

            One of my concerns was that I’ve heard that the German General Staff planned to over-throw Hitler if France “declared war” after Hitler “retook” the Rhineland, but the French did nothing.

            While I’ve heard that France was having internal pollical problem at that time, I’d think that a German invasion into the Rhineland would still gotten a reaction but it didn’t. 😦

        3. England was also exhausted and broke. So even those who agreed that “we need to be preparing for trouble” had trouble answering “where do we find the cash and manpower to do that?” France had a chunk of territory that could no longer be inhabited or safely farmed, plus the Spanish Civil War kept trying to spill over the mountains. So again, there were multiple distractions that seemed more pressing than Herr Hitler and his strange borrowings from Mussolini.

          1. Nod.

            Of course, there are some “people” who imagine that WW2 would have been prevented IF the US had joined the League Of Nations.

            I’ve never bought into that idea and of course the US had cut back on the size of the US Military (as usual after a big war) and the US also had Pacifists Groups (especially involving another war in Europe).

            So even if the US was part of the League, we likely couldn’t have provided the necessary troops (even if the idiot League decided to do something about Hitler).

        4. Essentially, Hitler talked big, strutted around, wrote Mein Kampf, set up the Reich Ministry of Propaganda… *exactly* like Mussolini had done already, and other fascists were doing elsewhere. Fascism was Hot New Stuff; it was being praised everywhere, including by France, Britain. and the United States.

          Sure, Hitler talked a lot of shit about Judenrein and Lebensraum; they were good old-school politicking points used by almost everybody. Then he and the NSDAP got firmly in power, took Czechoslovakia and split Poland with the Soviets, and Chamberlain got his famous treaty, and hey, nobody gave a damn about Czechs and Polacks anyway, a new polity has to make its military bones somewhere.

          So Chamberlain and Mussolini and the other leaders patted Uncle Adolf on the head and told him they were impressed, and now they’d be willing to consider easing up on that ‘reparations’ thing, particularly since Germany hadn’t been meeting its payments anyway. They’d be willing to treat with Germany as a power – well, a second-class power – as long as they knew their place and didn’t annoy their betters.

          That’s what *everyone* expected would happen. Adolf and Germany would suck it up, and over a few decades Germany would move out of pariah status, and after a while the Great War would just be history. Unfortunately Adolf did *exactly* what he promised in the beginning, and was spectacularly successful at it. And after that the appeasers thought if they could just keep throwing small countries under Germany’s treads they would stop and give their opponents time to politick another anti-German alliance… which is exactly what the Reich General Staff was insistent that Hitler do, until he told them to STFU, couldn’t they see he was on a roll?

          It’s not like Hitler’s plans were secret; he went on about his plans for hours at a time, and leaving after he started was a horrific faux pas. Makes me wonder about the bladder capacity of the average German back then…

          1. Hitler really toned down the attacks on Jews after the putsch, to the extent that many people thought he had gotten over it. Indeed, when he was in power, people were arguing that the laws against Jews were things he had been pressured into by other political forces. Enough that G.K. Chesterton wrote an essay on the topic, pointing out that if he was forced into it, why, the forces would hardly let up.

      2. There still IS a large contingent in the US that doesn’t disagree with Hitler’s aims.

        1. Which aims? And define “large,” please?

          Because it almost sounds like you think American neoNazis are more than a fringe-of-fringe? Is that what you meant?

  20. Re stem-and-leaf diagram, looks like a really stupid substitute for a bar chart grouping the results in 20-29, 30-39, etc. I do see how mode and median are easy to find with that thing, i must admit, but it would be just as easy to simply list results in numerical order for that. But this thing does show you the missing data in the 20’s range. You don’t need the fussy little format to obtain that information.

    My working hypothesis: too ding-dang many Ph-Eds who want to show off.

  21. Somewhere up above someone referred to learning to read “whole word” instead of phonics. My Mum ( smartest person I ever knew) was taught that in Texas around 1930. She made sure all of us were taught phonics. She read the dictionary for fun when younger. I understood that better once I was old enough to understand what whole word reading was. Education majors should be prohibited from teaching until they have made a living in the real world for a decade.

  22. I have to thank where I grew up for teachers that actually knew stuff. In the mountains parents wouldn’t put up with teachers that didn’t have a clue what they were doing. I’m mildly dyslexic, but managed to finally figure it out with the help of phonics and a dedicated teacher.

    My father was a house husband. Once we reached a certain age when we asked what he was doing he’d explain what he was doing, why, how the thing he was doing it to or with worked, the whole nine yards. Before any of us kids could get our driver’s license he made sure we could change the oil and the filter, replace a tire and gap and replace spark plugs. Before we left for college he made sure we could all iron a shirt, replace a button, fix a raveled hem, plan and cook a balanced meal, and keep everything under budget.

    When I got to college I was appalled at the number of folks who didn’t know basic stuff, like how to plunge a plugged toilet or how to stop it from overflowing. Girls who didn’t know why rinsing or soaking dishes made doing them later so much easier. Who didn’t grasp that if you don’t clean the whole apartment at least every other week, your allergies are only going to get worse and the cleaning check at the end of the semester was going to be a stone b!$ch and they weren’t likely to get their deposit back, and I was going to make them pay me back my portion since I’d actually kept things clean.

    I had a Craft Night that I invited friends and neighbors to every week so that folks would have dedicated time to finish those projects that they just ‘never found the time to take care of’. I told people that it didn’t matter what their hobby was, we had someone who could help them out, and if we didn’t we’d jolly well go research it and help out anyway. Just by myself I could help with spinning, weaving, sewing, knitting, crochet, lacework, small electronics repair, basic carpentry, welding, baking, writing, editing, and chocolate dipping. There were others who could do canning, engine repair, car maintenance, genealogy, IT help, drawing, embroidery, quilting, gardening, or anything that could be done using a CriCut.

    Look around your neighborhood. Find out if any of your neighbors can do things you can’t, but might need. Do what you can to become good friends. Bet there’s things you can do that he might need, down the road. For a while it was popular to talk about who you’d pick for your ‘zombie apocalypse’ team… Now do that for your ‘The US briefly implodes’ team.

    1. Oh, gad, flashback….

      In my (1/4th of 55-ish) Driver’s Ed class, I was the only one who could/would show how to change a tire.

      …I mean, really? You lift the bleeping car enough to pull the tire off, unscrew it, and swap them.

      I don’t even remember being really TAUGHT that, it was just… I was given all the tools, and knew how to use a lift, and stuff.

      1. I would assume that that was what everyone knows, and therefore trying to answer the question with that would be a fail.

        I’m betting a good part of the class was thinking the same.

        1. My immediate response is that you’re wrong.


          My immediate response is totally wrong, because that is like 90 of my “Gosh she is so smart” thing.

          Simply, “oh, she tried anything at all.”

          1. Assemble a group of males who watched “Firefly.”

            Have them rank the female cast in order of desirability: Saffron, River, Kaylee, Inara, Zoe.

            In the groups I hang with, any answer *not* “Kaylee” is assumed to be a jest.

            1. Possibly because even the teens you may hang out around are going to be men, rather that just biological males theoretically of the species homo sapien, more likely of the sort thinking with the little brain. Space hooker is common, even when anybody paying a hint of attention should figure out “Serious Issues Here.”
              At least the girl usually gets put outside of the Crazy/Hot index”….

              1. Zoe’s married, River is young and disturbed, so that leaves three.

                Con artist, almost certainly many issues, especially given she runs /marriage/ scams. Prostitute, probably issues and high maintenance.

                IIRC, Kaylee is promiscuous, and nuts, but there is more basis for relationship there. Least terrible option by far. For every male except the adulterers, ephebophiles, and bereft of foresight.

                My conclusion, not a valid test instrument for this. Character selection is skewed, probably because of Joss being a creep.

                1. Much on the Joss being a creep angle; there is a lot of room to trim off some chunks of behavior because they were, ah, not the character, we’ll say.

      2. Overly simplistic. I spent two hours at a rally point once because a couple of women did not know that you had to use the jack at a reinforced lift point. I think that they had to take the car into a body shop later to get it straightened.

    2. When we lived in New Jersey my husband had armor building workshops in our basement (SCA). One of the semi regulars was at work in the Twin Towers on 9/11.

      People had better NOT pull this “Oh, January 6th was as bad as 9/11!” crap in my presence.
      (BTW, very good article in the Wall Street Journal explaining exactly why that comment is crap. Firmly explaining.)

  23. We made sure our children knew the basic life skills, how to wire a plug, change a faucet, cut square to a line, sew a bottom, mend a seam, cook a meal.

    I’ve been reading Shop Class as Soulcraft by Mathew Crawford. He’s a licensed electrician and PhD in Philosophy from Chicago. He argues that we were meant to work with our hands and we’ve become less human as we move away from it. Agree with it or not but It resonated strongly with me since I’ve spent my professional life doing finance and have nothing substantial to show for it. i learned basic skills from my father and inherited a very good set of tools and have been going back to them since I take more pleasure from a building a simple bookcase and from binding books to put on it than I do from memorandums and working papers.

    1. how to wire a plug,

      Probably what you actually did, but:
      How to safely wire a plug, then trouble shoot it.

      ….why yes we did just recently have to rewire a plug/lightswitch combo, and I’m STILL not sure how that works, but we did it safely and knew how to trouble shoot it.

      The electricians would’ve had to completely rewire the circuit, and charge roughly $1000, for what they declared was no real improvement. (And main dude was nearly ready to cry before I blinked and mentioned “look, we’re both electricians, we can do this safely. Just replace the burned out part, please.”)

      1. Several years ago at $WORKPLACE, one of the cleaning crew refused to use some piece of equipment after getting (more than) a ‘tickle’ from it. It was then noticed that the plug was not fully wired. I took a *GOOD* look at it… and immediately re-did it. When $BOSS asked about things, it was pointed out that whoever did last wiring was murderously incompetent. No earth ground even attempted, hot & neutral swapped. That’s right, just about everything that SHOULD have been earthed was HOT. Yeah, he was right to refuse to use it – and considering the job (water is almost ubiquitous) that it was only a (nasty) ‘tickle’.

        $WORKPLACE has changed cleaners, though that was actually NOT the thing that caused the change.

      2. Most British/Irish appliances didn’t come with a plug, you had to buy one and attach it yourself. I can replace a plug, a switch, or an outlet, and wire up a light fixture. Anything more than that I call an electrician.

        The biggest regret in my professional,life is not becoming a plumber. Leaving aside the money, everyone thanks God when the plumber arrives and I can use all the prayers I can get.

        1. Eh. It’s a dirty, smelly, messy job that people *need* but don’t want to have happen to them. Like a lot of dirty, smelly, messy jobs it pays well, too.

          1. When I was in aviation repair school, we were talking about high-paying blue collar jobs, and discovered that the gent with the septic pump-out service was the highest paid per hour in our part of the state. We all agreed that he and his employees more than earned that wage.

        2. Most British/Irish appliances didn’t come with a plug, you had to buy one and attach it yourself.

          I recall hearing/reading of this before and wonder… why is it thus? Is there such a lack of standardization (or was there once upon a time… and inertia) that such is required? Or just.. “Well, it’s always been that way, so…” ? Or yet another explanation?

          1. Actually, most 220/240V appliances in the US don’t come with cords. Because- at some point in the recent past the neutral and ground for those appliances were separated out. So most older places need 3 wire plugs and newer up to date with code places need 4 wire plugs.

            Then- there’s the people who have 50 amp receptacles for 30 amp appliances and vice-versa. Who get really surprised when no one will wire their appliance for them… Even after an explanation WHY. As in- I’m not going to assume liability by knowingly hooking up something incorrectly.

            1. That makes some sense. Especially when there is also that weird 208 V 3-phase Wye thing going on some places. Ugh!

              “That’s the beauty of standards – so many to choose from!”

              Stealthy alien invasions are doomed. The standards thing alone might drive them bonkers.

              Cue ‘Nuts’ by Puzzlebox (and thanks to whoever linked that last and thus informed me of such).

            2. When we bought our new stove, we had to know what type of plug our house had. Which for most means going back to the store AFTER the stove has been delivered. And/or, if one pays extra for the store to install, whomever shows up with the stove and a variety of proper plugs to properly install. We installed stove ourselves. Had already pulled the stove, taken a picture of the wall plug, and was able to buy the correct setup when we got the stove. No wiring needed. Hubby can wire if he needs to. House was built in ’73.

              1. When I replaced the electric stove in my rental property, I discovered that they NEVER INSTALLED A WALL SOCKET! There was a fat cable from the wall wired directly into the stove. IDJITS!!

                So the first thing I had to do was boogie over to Home Despot for a crowfoot wall socket. After installing that, could wire a matching power cable to the stove.

          2. I think it’s because the outlets differ across countries in Europe, but I don’t actually know. they mostly do come with a plug now.

      3. My jurisdiction requires a licensed electrician and a permit to CHANGE A WALL PLATE on an outlet or switch.

        Those licensed electricians are also authorized to “self-inspect” and sign off the permits themselves.

        No, that didn’t work out any better than you might expect.

  24. Sarah, I have not forgotten you. The kitchen remodel from Hell in our old Victorian has sucked up more time than can be believed. This old man has learned more about demolition and construction this past year than in years previously. And it takes me longer to recover than when I was younger. You speak about tools needed. My inventory of weird specialized tools has grown exponentially. Star bits, countersink bits, crown moulding jigs… The list goes on. But the new walls are up, the ceiling has been replaced, and the cabinets are in with countertops and a working sink. (For those who have had to live without a working kitchen sink, you know the pain. And this went on for months.) But there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it looks more like sunlight than a locomotive headlight. Soon I will be changing tools and send you some preliminary art. Getting back to your blog post, I am glad my father has the knowledge and patience to teach me how to build and fix things. And my mother considering it a sin if her children did not know how to cook and clean. And the fact the schools I went to taught wood shop, metal shop, and many other practical skills that seem to be no longer taught. Maybe I’m just getting too old.

    1. The joy of old places is they often were built a bit off, oddly, and they’ve since moved a goodly bit making it even more . . . erm . . . interesting.

      1. I lived in a house that had been coal, then oil, then gas heated and you could still trace each installation. There wasn’t a standard fitting in the house, and square corners were something that other people had. I miss it now and again.

        1. Mine skipped the oil heating. and I removed the remnent of the coal bin framing when I moved in back in 2016. I wanted to restore or replace the bin door to use it for ease of getting lumber into the basement, but the one I found was too pricey. I made a plug that seals and insulated the opening in hopes a reasonable one can be found.

    2. 🙂 I didn’t think you’d forgotten me. We’re desperately trying to update this house (Apparently it’s very nineties?) so we can put it on the market. Hopefully the other one passes muster, and we can buy it, sell this one and relocate.

      1. Mine is also very ‘90s (1890s). You would adore the woodwork around the doors and windows. Walnut for the first floor and cherrywood for the second floor. The dining room has a built in china cabinet. The kitchen I have been working on was last remodeled in the early ‘70s from the look of things and had almost no cabinet space.

      2. Tell them Nineties is “retro” and bump your asking price 10% to reflect that…

      1. unfortunately, mine doesn’t haven the z-axis range to produce an effective sink.

  25. I took woodshop and metal shop in junior high, dad taught me how to solder (and gave me a Heath kit radio when I asked for a radio for my birthday…). He taught both me and my brother how to change the oil, change a tire, put chains on said tires (we lived in CA and skied…no 4-wheel drive) and other general tasks. My mom didn’t like to cook and wasn’t very good at it, but we had to make our own lunches for school, and she did teach us how to do the basics, and she taught me how to sew. In the theater department at college, I learned to hang drywall, arc weld, and basic carpentry, I also sewed much more complicated costumes. My great-niece and nephew are really good at video games near as I can tell. I’m worried about them. My other great-nephews have a dad and granddad who rebuild and race cars, and rebuild houses. They’ll be okay.

    1. Oh, the kits I got. I think I might have even managed to be allowed to put one together myself. Not that I couldn’t, mind, but Pa want to play, and…

      …and I miss the those things. Yeah we have cheaper, fancier things, but the two-AA powered xenon flash kits (think: 1980’s/90’s camera flash, I knew that high pitched whine oh so well… – but repeating).. well, it just might be easier to find unicorns now.

  26. Language immersion doesn’t work without a basic set of memorized words. You must have either the translations, or a native speaker you can play point and speak with until you know enough nouns and verbs to begin forming sentences. This isn’t any different than learning mathematics. You have to know the numbers and basic operations, and learning addition and multiplication tables is just like learning words.

    I swear most people in the U.S. today can’t tell you why we need government, or even understand what government really is.

    There’s still a couple of items on Heinlein’s list I haven’t done. But when the opportunity comes along, I have a good chance of being successful at them.

    1. I swear most people in the U.S. today can’t tell you why we need government, or even understand what government really is.


      That is bait isn’t it?

        1. Because, to paraphrase Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 51, men are not angels, nor are we governed by angels. So government and limits on government are needed.

          That’s the short version.

          1. I think James Madison made that comment in the Federalist Papers. 😉

              1. I decided to look it up.

                Quote from

                “If Men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and the next place, oblige it to control itself.”

                End Quote

                1. *confused*

                  The Federalist No. 511
                  By james madison or alexander hamilton


                  But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department, the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defence must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to controul the abuses of government. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controuls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to controul the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to controul itself. A dependence on the people is no doubt the primary controul on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

                  1. The edition I teach from ascribes it to Hamilton. To me it reads more like Hamilton than Madison, but I’m not a scholar of their writings and styles. By that point in the collection, they start to blur. 🙂

  27. I have a small 1930’s Latin textbook. I need to get back to it. It’s got vocabulary followed by a bit of grammar, tied up with a little story you have to decipher. I don’t expect to be an expert, but just having more than the standards would be nice. =)

    It sounds to me like you are going to create a Salon in the Regency meaning, which is “ooooh”.

    I do hope you do the writing teaching, though I’m torn as I know it pulls from getting more stories from you. But on a purely selfish angle, I learned so much from that workshop from you. I know understand, partially, why I get negative reactions when reading the full work and it’s not just the ideas, but some of the expectations. I need help with figuring out how best to guide those expectations better.

  28. My grandmother had some books from the late 1800’s. I hope my mother saved them when we cleared out Grandma’s house after the funeral. Unfortunately, we were running up against the hard deadline of when the renter’s insurance ran out and we either had to have it cleared out or pay for another year. (Grandma lived in an old farmhouse, on land that Grandpa had farmed, and the landlord/farmer was an old friend of the family and was willing to give us as long as we needed). So a lot of stuff we probably should’ve kept got thrown away because it simplified the process of cleaning out — and then we ended up throwing away other stuff that got packed because at the time they seemed like heirlooms.

    On a more disturbing note, I’ve noticed that all the “do it yourself” books have vanished from our local thrift stores, as have the American Heritage volumes and the like. I’m hoping it’s just that these things are being snapped up as soon as they hit the shelves, and not because the thrift stores are disposing of them rather than shelving them.

  29. OT (very): Has anyone heard from wyrdbard of late? Some time ago I seemed to jog a bit of plot forward and potentially initiated a character I’d… have some sympathy with, perhaps… and I find myself reminded of such and am curious if anything ever came of such, or if it was just another dead-end thought mutation.

  30. So, funny (off-topic) story…

    When the GameStop stuff broke out a few months ago I got on Ameritrade and brought some shares. I also decided to buy a few shares of a couple of other things, including a cryptocurrency called Doge Coin. Unfortunately it turned out that Ameritrade didn’t deal in crypto and I didn’t think it was worth getting setting up with a second trading service, so I let it slide.

    And now I check in on Doge Coin again out of curiosity and find that, in just 4 short months, the stock I didn’t bother putting in any extra effort to buy had increased its value *TWENTY-FOLD*. So… yeah.

    Hey Orvan, can I borrow one of your hooves for a second? I feel the need for an epic facepalm.

    More seriously, though, I hadn’t been planning to invest heavily in it so I didn’t miss out too much. It was more of a “throw a few bucks at it and see where it goes” plan. But the lesson is clear: if I’m going to play the stock market then I need to get set up for crypto.

    Which brings me to the point. To those of you who deal in such things, which crypto services would you advice using or staying away from?

    1. I do *NOT* recommend a face-hoof. It hurt muchly. Even with ox thick skull.

      Now, for “blue state” (is cities, NOT whole states) Governor… multi-hoof plans are available.

  31. “Go back to the basics of civilization and acquire the tools. They won’t work very well, because acquired late, but it’s better than nothing.”

    Minor pushback on one subset of lacking skills (particularly relevant in my case) — when the skills are those relating to producing future members of future civilization, there does come a point where it is indeed too late to acquire them.

  32. The Wiemar Republic didn’t precisely ‘defund the police’, but the didn’t make any effort to control rioting, arson, assault, and runaway crime. One of the fringe political parties managed to get some corporate funding for what we’d call “community policing” now, started off more like NYC “subway angels”, then became the de facto, and eventually, de jure police.

    Essentially, an informal group of mega-businesses managed to sabotage the operation of the Republic while successfully providing “private” police, then a working work-to-eat program, then eventually most of the things a government is expected to do, before the National Socialist German Workers’ Party moved from “where are those nutters getting so much money?” to being recognized as the legitimate government of Germany.

    No, you haven’t seen anything like this in recent years. “Nothing to see here, move along…”

  33. “Natural man left to his own devices” stinks. I strongly advise remainning upwind.

  34. [I]t’s my fault because I didn’t realize it early enough.

    Pfui – so you fell for the deep co of the educrats. It isn’t as if 90$ of society isn’t similarly snookered.

    BTW: this was in the recent news:

    New law lets SC education chief fire boards after takeover
    A new law in South Carolina allows the state education superintendent to fire the entire school board in districts where too many schools have been rated as “underperforming.”

    The law, signed by Gov. Henry McMaster after easily passing the House and Senate, goes into effect in July 2022.

    It allows the superintendent to declare a state-of-education emergency in school districts where 65% or more of the schools are rated “underperforming” for three straight years on the Department of Education’s annual school report cards.

    If the State Board of Education agrees with the superintendent on the emergency declaration, the district’s school board is all fired and state officials will get at least six years to take over the district and try to improve it. …

    Not that it is any solution, as the rot is far deeper than any school board can drill. It comes from teacher training, teacher unions, curriculum standards and many more things over which school boards have no say.

    1. That state superintendent is from my (very rural) home county. She might accomplish some good with that.

    2. 1. What essential functions does a school board perform? (if any)
      2. How effectively is their performance evaluated?

      Private schools do a much better job of teaching without any school boards at all. Is that just a coincidence? Or are school boards just a lot of overpaid bureaucratic deadwood?
      “Boards are long and hard and made of wood.” —Mark Twain

      1. They choose curriculum and similar purchases, set the school year, and are answerable to the voters for their individual school(District).

        So they are very high priority for those who wish to take control of other folks’ children.

        1. Once upon a time, we even had more than that, before the big cities agglomerated all their small legacy boards into giant “unified” ones, thus making them less answerable to mere civilians.

          1. Trying to do that here. TPTB want to combine Springfield, Eugene, and Bethel, school districts. They have a case for Bethel and Eugene, technically both are in the same city. Springfield, different city, even if it borders Eugene (mostly along I-5). BUT here is the kicker.

            Waayyyyyy back when, as Eugene moved north into farmlands, the more rural areas wanted to send their children to 4J, Eugene school district. Eugene said No, firmly. Bethel District was born. Fast forward 50 (now 70 or so) years, Bethel is no longer the poor rural district. It actually has M O N E Y even if our school district property taxes are less than 4J’s per thousand, and Bethel bonds usually pass when the district puts them before us voters. NOW Eugene 4j wants to combine the two districts. Bethel voters said No, firmly. Then 4J asked for area swaps (our area is one that would have gone to 4J), our response was “hey, wait a minute”, luckily so far, so has the rest of the district.

            4J, in general, has better sports teams. Not quite everyone who goes out for sports at Bethel’s one HS gets on the team, but 4J HS’s, each, quantity has a quality all of it’s own. OTOH none of the 4J schools have an *class for credit option that includes racing Electric Motor Carts, they build, from scratch, culminating in racing said carts at the Portland Motorway Memorial Weekend (all 3 days). Or they did. I don’t know what 2020 and 2021 has done to the class. I know this would be one of the first options eliminated.

            * There are other HS that have the Electric Cart Cars, but they are typically out-of-school clubs, they don’t build the cars. Except for two cars which belong to teachers, which students do drive, all other Willamette cars are built from scratch, some starting in September (senor’s cars), some not starting until December or January (junior’s cars). Students can’t drive until they are 16.

Comments are closed.