Decades of Decadence

Sure, okay. We’re decadent. Why not? I’ve been hearing it my entire life so it must be true (giggle and since I was born in the sixties, nooooo, it was totally not Soviet Agit Prop. That’s Un-possible. Our top men would surely see through that!) but let’s talk about what decadence is and what it looks like.

I’ll start with the image I picked, that of an incontrovertibly lost civilization. Weirdly, despite all the “decadence” of Greece and Rome what caused the ruins wasn’t that they slept with one too many unapproved partners (look, for Greece is that decadence) but that they were invaded, conquered and dismantled.

Most of the images when you look up decadence on pixabay are of…. Cuba. So, I’m going to guess that the definition is actually “invaded, conquered, dismantled” because that’s what communists do, even if they theoretically are from the same culture they’re taking over. Because their assumptions and goals are antithetical to any real human civilization.

Yes, sure. I hear any number of you gnashing your teeth on that side of the screen: the soft living, the snowflakery in — mostly — our universities, the demands that everyone cater to them, people being completely terrified of a bad cold. Oh, yeah, rampant crime and bad sexual morals. We’re OBVIOUSLY decadent. How can I make fun of it?

Very easily.

For one your gnashing of teeth rhymes eerily with Romans gnashing of teeth for millennia, long before Rome was anywhere near ripe to fall, and in fact while Rome was the bad ass of the world. Second, it echoes even more eerily all of the Christian explanations of why Rome fell, which curiously also echoed the Christian beliefs in the loss of paradise.

“Decadence is sinfulness, and then comes the end and only G-d can save you” is the narrative there. Which is fine, in a spiritual sense, and completely bonkers insane when it applies to cultures and history. But it served the nascent theocracy that replaced Rome quite well. One of the things it served was to explain why life was now much, much harder. Because you know, abundance is what leads to decadence. Life is too soft, you don’t work hard enough and …. bam! suddenly you’re in the middle of an orgy or worshiping a goat or something. Never you mind that the Romans pretty much did that all along, even when they were the badasses of the world. It’s really easy to shape the history of a fallen civilization so it suits the purposes of its successor.

Which brings us to the fact that Communism is a Christian heresy, complete with paradise — the supposed egalitarian and property-free pre-history (it’s also really easy to shape a period that left no account of itself that we can find) — until greed — and in one version PATRIARCHY and in another “whiteness” WTF that means — kicked us out of it. Now we must force the perfect human (Homo Sovieticus!) to emerge, so we can go back to living in caves in (sing it) perfect harmony. (Yeah.)

The complaints of decadence I heard as a young woman were mostly Soviet Agit Prop. Yes, yours were too. They ranged from incoherent to frigging insane. Some of it was a very old rhyming chorus: Americans were decadent because they were too rich. They had too many choices. They were too immoral. They never had enough, and would commit crimes to be richer. They ate too much, drove too much, slept in too comfortable a bed, and in general were DECADENT. Just like Rome before it fell. (If you realize the actual structure of Imperial Rome was closer to the Soviet Union’s, a plunder culture that could only survive by stealing, the whole thing will take your breath away with its chutzpah.

The fact that our (even though at the time it was your, as I was a foreigner at least in some ways) entertainment and art echoed these crazy accusations only made the whole thing stick, so even the right, American loving side (which anyway always has a vast side of puritanism in America. And speaking of puritans, let’s talk about what some of them did to…. turkeys? If weird sexual kinks are a sign of decadence, we’ve never been non-decadent) bought into it. I mean Spartacus (the novel) portrait of the decadence of Rome was meant to echo how bad America was. What’s that I hear? The author was a communist? You. Don’t. Say. I think I sent my shocked face out to be mended, but I won’t be a sec while I retrieve it.

In a more personal sense, my own family told me Portugal too was decadent. Why, unlike mom, I didn’t have to walk beside the train line to pick up enough coal for the family to cook. We had butane bottles delivered, even if they were super expensive, so we often cooked on a petrol lamp in the patio, if the weather was fine.

Decadent and soft living, I tell you. Sure, the bathroom was outside, but it was a bathroom, with running water included. JUST like Rome before the fall. How much longer till we started screwing Nightingales’ Tongues, eating Bear Sausages and electing horses to congress (I think in America we’ve been doing that all along, too. Though I’d prefer if every now and then we elected the front half of the horse.)

Yeah, so, I took packed and irregular trains to school, but I didn’t walk both ways. (Dad never tried to claim he did so in snow. Let’s be grateful for that, because given the rate of snowing in Portugal, I wouldn’t have believed him.)

But Sarah, you’ll say, we’ve really gone decadent, compared to our founders and their principles.

Decadent? No. I mean, look, guys, there was a miracle in (Filthy fuming) Philadelphia in how our founding documents were worded and that has kept us weirdly safe despite the rest of the world, and an evil conjunction of technology and ideology that has almost destroyed humanity several times (but not without our paying a price in liberty, and more on that.) But the people, themselves, were not some mythical giants of liberty. If you went one on one, without the media in between, more people are likely to understand individual rights and their importance now. Look, we have some experience of them. Most people back then simply didn’t.

Unfaithful to our founding and squandering liberty? Sure. But that’s because we’ve been invaded and propagandized by an enemy ideology for decades now. (Close on to a century.) Which, frankly, we’re holding up admirably against, because America retains a dose of horse sense that is the despair of the world. (And no explanation of why we send horse halves to congress, but that’s something else.)

It has bloody nothing to do with decadence and/or a falling in morals.

It has to do with having our problems diagnosed as the wrong thing, and more poison prescribed — which is part of what this post is about — because our institutions have been co-opted, taken over and weaponized by people who hate everything we are and do.

But SARAH! Screwing everything that moves! And letting criminals out of jail. Oh, and the heartbreak of psoriasis. (Okay, I made that last one up.)

Sure. Look, Americans have always been extreme. We have extreme trends. We create extreme art. We even dress in extreme — meaning not all the same — ways. That is a foreign complaint about us, that has been going on a long time.

Sexual immorality? Yeah, there’s plenty of that to go around all over the world. Our media makes much of it, though honestly, part of what shocks me about leftists is how little joy they derive from their sins. If you’re not going to have fun screwing that turkey (we’re looking at you, Hillary) why do it? But they seem to have co-opted the French idea of all sex, no pleasure. It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for them.

Most of the most visible and atrocious behavior in America is either created, enforced or propagandized by those same institutions that have been taken over by the leftists. Yeah, I know, it’s touched some of your own families, etc. But that’s because public schools and mass entertainment are two of those institutions (Thank heavens losing power.)

As for divorce, which in America is almost the norm (Husband and I are weird as we were each other’s first spouse, and are chugging on at 36-almost-37 (for the Summer anniversary) years of marriage) there are tons of reasons for that, which have bloody nothing to do with culture or decadence.

Oh, sure, Hollywood normalized divorce, but 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, let’s talk about longer life spans, smaller families, dual careers, etc.

We were talking in a group the other day about how to stay married you must choose to grow together. (And even then transitions like from parents to empty nesters will try you) but no one mentioned how much harder that is, when each of you functions as an independent economic unit, in a different environment from your spouse, which was in no way the norm throughout history or most of the world even today.

While the feminists are crazy-go-nuts about how women weren’t allowed to work in the past (Also full of sh*t, but that’s par for the course) the fact is that throughout most of history people couldn’t choose not to work (Their idea of history is wealth Victorian families, and then the imaginary fifties.) But families usually worked together, or in the same field, or — as my grandparents did — in different crafts, but in the same house, so each was intimately acquainted with the other’s business/contacts.

Now, weirdly, this work at home brought on by the covidiocy might bring the later condition back, and slow down the divorce rate. Maybe. Because the major issue remains: our marriages are really, really long. Because we live long, healthy lives. (Eh, TPTB are trying to mitigate that too.) And being married for 25 years, happily is one thing. For 75 it’s a whole other ball of wax.

Fact remains most of the people I know who get divorced don’t do so because they must have some strange (oh, there’s always one or two, but those are usually super-young) but because their whole life just doesn’t “fit” or “work” anymore. (It could be argued the husband and I move, instead. But since I’m hoping not to move much for at least 10 or 15 years, I hope not.)

But! Soft. On. Crime.

Uh…. sure. We’ve seen that before in the seventies, haven’t we? And it does make all of society WAY more dangerous.

So– decadence?

Oh, bullshit. You tell me which Americans, i.e. every day people, are demanding that murderers be let go to save them from Covid.

No. This is more of TPTB which are not Americans (no matter where they were born) but Marxists trying to destroy America. I suspect their being ridiculous on crime (Truly? Public camping for feral homeless?) is their attempt to make us look decadent according to the propaganda of decades. I’m not sure they know why, either, or what it means except that Make America look decadent = ??????? = Communist paradise.

Yesterday at Legal Insurrection there was a post saying “If the left controls everything, why are they so scared.”

Well…. because things aren’t working out as they expected.

Look, — cues Sympathy for the devil — if they weren’t such despicable creatures, I’d feel sorry for them. Or at least for the ones who are true believers.

Like the rest of us they’ve been propagandized on the “decadence” of America and how we were falling and then…. the Soviet Union fell? Those who are older than I are still in shock, and the younger kids are convinced there was some evil capitalist trick.

To make things worse, they don’t think much, so they’re not cognizant of what’s happening.

You see, communism as we know it didn’t die as the crackpot brain child of Marx because it hit at a time when mass communication became a thing. And it’s an ideology that appeals to crackpot grifters who are likely to be “Journalists” and “novelists” and “media executives.”

So the left has been able to shape the narrative, particularly so after they took over education.

Which means everything they know — everything — is things that aren’t so.

And when things stopped working — oh, to an extent, and to some effect — in the late nineties, and the wheels really came off in 2016 they didn’t know what to do. They ran around in panic, doing crazy things.

I’ll admit the covidiocy has been…. breathtaking in its stupidity. What has most interested me is how the rest of the world fell for a con that was designed to f*ck with the elections in America. I’m still not absolutely sure if their leaders did it, because they too feel the terror nipping at their heels, or because they simply assume if Americans are doing something there must be a reason, because the future comes from America.

I can almost guarantee that for most of them it’s not “the great reset” or if it is each of them has a different view of it. (Mostly because in Europe none of their leaders really trusts the other countries.)

And yet, despite everything, the American people hunched their shoulders, lifted their middle fingers, and voted for Trump in numbers that made the left have to fraud in front of G-d and everyone, at the last minute.

And despite their lavish praise of ice-cream-Joe, we made Let’s go Brandon! go viral.

That’s why they’re in a panic.

And you could say they’re decadent in the ways that count.

What? Well, yes, there is a way you can go decadent, and the American public is at risk for it –though less now that public schools are losing power and parents are becoming aware of what’s been going on for fifty years or so, in those hallowed halls — which is where you lose the skills that made your ancestors great, so you can’t keep civilization going, no matter how you try.

The American public at large is at risk for this, to the extent our kids aren’t even being taught to read. But as Dave Freer said, years ago, America has lousy primary and secondary education. It’s the largely self administered tertiary that’s superb.

He’s not wrong. And the kids are all right. I’d like to claim my generation started the great re-learning, in some ways, trying to learn to do things “from scratch” and do for ourselves. The kids are even more like that. Oh, not all of them, but a good percentage. And again, the crazy lockdowns accelerated that. And dear Lord, what Americans will do for fun. I have more friends with backyard forges than makes any sense.

We’re all right. Sure, the overculture is trying to decadence us in the only meaningful sense — invade and destroy — but they’re losing. And they know it. Which is why they keep going crazier.

It’s going to get rough, but we’ll innovate, create and learn our ways out of it.

The overculture though– yeah, they lost the skills their ancestors had — none of them are a patch on FDR (And those of you who think of his time as the pinnacle of America should take a good look at it, then take an emetic, because it will make you sick.) He knew what he was destroying, even if his vision of glory was cockamamie and based on the idea that “mass everything” was the future.

They have no clue. They’re half propagandized, half indoctrinated and all ignorant.

They keep acting as if the media still provided them full coverage for their insanity (which has always been florid) and are always shocked they’re doing things out in the open, in the age of cell phones and peer-to-peer.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. But the communist model depends — always has always will — on tightly controlled communications.

And that means they have already lost. The mop-up is just going to hurt US like a bitch.

It will hurt worse if we confuse ourselves with them.

Sure, they’re decadent. They have lost or never had critical skills their ancestors had. This is largely because — thanks to Mass Media and the charming commie habit of only hiring their own — they’ve had it soft. Being a “liberal” (What an interesting euphemism for Marxist!) was living life on the easy setting. They’re not ready for anything else.

They’re decadent. But what does that have to do with us?

They don’t understand us, and tell lies about us constantly. Some of them old, old lies from the Soviet Union propaganda (some of which was designed to keep the happy people of brutopia happy they weren’t rich.)

You’re not required to aid and abet them. In fact, if you want to avoid decadence, you’re required to do the opposite.

In the end we win, they lose. Because when they scream “decadent” they’re projecting.

It’s going to take all our skills, all our determination, all our invention. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t need Americans.

Go and get her done.

316 thoughts on “Decades of Decadence

  1. “I have more friends with backyard forges than makes any sense.”

    Er. NTTAWWT. The ability to make things from scratch is a good skill to have. Whether it is cooking or carpentry, canning or coding, smithing or sailing.

    There is something undeniably appealing about creation. Making things that are more than a mere sum of their parts. Word smithing. Wood carving. Basket weaving (no, not underwater- that’s a niche thing among niche things). It’s why legos are so popular still, why there are so many games with “building” as either their main theme or a large part of them. That pride and joy of making something, knowing you had a hand in every part of it, that’s some addictive stuff right there.

    Don’t be knocking the anvil bangers among us. *grin* Until the toxic metal fumes make us stop, it’s bloody good fun, and in the end you can get useful things out of that hobby. Honestly, what’s not to like? Personally, I think people that have absolutely no interest in creating (of any sort) are just as weird as they likely think we are. 😀

    1. “I have more friends with backyard forges than makes any sense.”

      Uh, guilty as charged. But since it’s a really small furnace does it count? It’s not like it’s a tame lion.

  2. Elsewhere I was kidding an Irishman by saying that Europe (including Ireland) was decadent.

    His response was “civilized cultures” have always been called decadent.

    My response was “my mistake, I meant to say senile not decadent”. 😈

    I suppose “senile” could apply to our would-be masters. 😉

            1. Somebody stashed one of the worst in the White House. I keep forgetting, does DC in Washington, DC stand for Demented Crooks or Demented Communists?

                  1. Well dispicable fits for the D.
                    And there is a four letter C-word that will work as well as a ten letter one that is probably applicable also.

      1. I think it was originally attributed to the Spartans.
        Of course, I seem to remember the Spartan example kept being thrown at the Athenians to prove the Athenians were decadent and could learn a few things from the Spartans…

          1. And Thebes beat the Spartans* like the Spartans were rented mules.

            *Once, under a superb leader, who warned that once he was gone, Sparta would get even. They did.

      2. Ah, but in Roman times it could take a generation for a new concept to propagate across the reaches of the empire. Today things travel at the speed of electrons.
        At the birth of this nation our only communications advantage over the Romans was the printing press.
        Today Siri will tell you your fly is open before you even feel the draft.

    1. That was one of the stories the Spartans told about themselves.

      And they were proud of being…well, basically the bad guys in a dystopian novel, right down to eugenics that even the craziest proggies wouldn’t go for.

      No, thanks. Crowning Moment of Awesome was awesome, doesn’t mean THEY were someone to copy.

        1. Shall I be painting Carthage as acceptable in their mass child sacrifice, as well? I’m sure some of their people at some point did something awesome.

          Small wonder that the Marx was able to push every-man-a-widget– and if they don’t get you what you want, destroy the widget, and replace it– when folks were not able to recognize that doing something impressive did not make you admirable in all areas.

            1. When one posts the final praise of a group in response to the statement that they did have a crowning moment of awesome, but were definitely not a group we should wish to emulate in a search for preserving society, it does not say a thing, it implies it.

  3. Decadant was one term my parents never applied to America. Wasteful, yes, but not decadant. (How dare a furnace wear out after a mere three decades! Wasteful, poorly built . . .) They disdained folks who wasted money on new cars and time on television. Spend your money on books and live performances, that’s what you should do.
    Oh, I heard the uphill in the snow both ways story, which is why Dad got a PhD and got away from the Great Lakes: too much of a good thing is too much. He never gave off the appearance of considering his after school trap line, or Mom considering lifeguarding at Interlochen, any differently than I considered teaching music: the most pleasant available way to attain money for the things we wanted to spend it on.
    The America I was shown as a child in the 80s and 90s was the one where hard work was all it took to succeed in your dreams. I’d like that one, please, the one that the last of the Silents believed existed. That one’s a good place. It doesn’t notice race, sex, or creed.

    1. It only feels uphill both ways, especially if the sidewalks aren’t cleared. Been there, did that (both the walking and the snow shoveling.) In reality, it was pretty flat snow country everywhere I went to school–K through BS.

      I prefer a snow plow for the driveway–haven’t talked myself into a thrower to clear the deck, though it gets really tempting…

      1. *laughs* I almost had to go get help to get my cart to the car at Costco today. It was down hill, but I had to throw my weight into it to bust through the half-frozen slush, and even *I* nearly didn’t have enough!

        Des Moines got snow…the poor boys doing cart duty could only manage five or six at a time, and I think they had everyone over six foot tall and two forty-five out there managing carts.

        1. I did my Costco run last week at the Medford store. No snow under 3000′, and despite a bit of rain west of the Cascades, the lot was clear. (Haven’t had snow for 10 days east of the Cascades, either.

          The face-diaper situation Westside is interesting. Compliance/submission there is about 90% or higher (it’s more like 70% in Flyover Falls in Eastside), but except for the worker at the pizza place, *nobody* said boo upon seeing me without a mask. I did go along at Trader Joes, and usually had one on to go by the entrance at Costco, but it came off right away. (There’s the state order, but people are starting to get weary of Kate Brown’s panic…)

          FWIW, mask usage went up about a third in K-Falls with the panic porn over OhmyGodicron variant, but that’s slipping, now.

  4. I think the “decadence” of the common people is just “elite” resentment that the common people can do whatever they want to do and have whatever they want. I’m the past, only the elite ate well, only the elite could travel, only the elite had the time to study. Now, anyone can do those things, reduces the value of being elite.

    Damn you, peasant! Eat bugs, stay at home, and freeze like I tell you and wear a mask when you service me.

    I do think that the arts are decadent, though the old skill in hand does seem to peak out from time to time.

    1. The current haute couture art is decadent, but the real stuff, the stuff that moves people, the folks that make those bust their behinds more than you can imagine.

      I’ve been listening to the Writer’s Dojo lately. They don’t stint in that part.

  5. Before the Industrial Revolution, some 90% of families literally did work together, in the same field. It’s called subsistence farming, and it SUCKED. 90% of all human labor, and potential, was expended just feeding ourselves. Everything else was done by hand, one by one, with horrendous labor costs. See what I’ve said previously about the $700 shirt.

    We are far richer today. We have tools and machines that allow us to do things our ancestors would have called miracles. Transport 2,000 tons of food between cities 2,000 miles apart in 2 days? Trivial, just load up a train. Visit family 4,000 miles away in another country for a few days? Well, that used to be trivial until the government fucked it up. Talking to people all over the world is still trivial, despite the government trying to fuck that up, too.

    Diagnose and treat diseases and health disorders our ancestors never heard of, because they died of something else before they got old enough for cancer and Alzheimer’s to be a problem? Lately the government has made health care a lot more difficult to access, though.

    We have nearly unlimited access to the accumulated knowledge of 3,000 years, although the government schools now concentrate on pushing the accumulated stupidity of the last 150 years.

    Gee, looks like most of the ‘decadence’ is in the government.
    ———————————
    The one thing we need more of from the government is LESS!!

    1. I used the $700 shirt to end a student argument over mass production vs. hand production. None of the parties involved wanted to work two weeks (based on their current after-tax pay from summer jobs) just to buy a work-shirt.

    2. Always has been.
      Georgie sending a cross-dressing Governor to serve as his reigning proxy over a Puritan New England colony (forget which one) was textbook decadence.
      Not so much for the sexual squick, as the “you will be ruled, plebes” in your faceness of it all.

      The hallmark of decadence is undefended frontiers. The Capitol is not concerned about the welfare of the hinterlands The rulers care nought for the ruled.

      While Ben Franklin (for one) was a debauched libertine and a hedonist, he was not decadent. (Although I do note that he was a lot more effective as an ambassador when John Adams was around to “keep him focused”.)

      The Second Bank of the US was decadent as hell, and there’s good reason that Andy Jackson is revered for crushing the serpent.

      The Gilded Age was awash with decadence. The Populist movement, Granger movement (and attempted communist revolutions) weren’t ex nihilo.
      I can’t think of any amount of sexual perversion Vanderbilt could have undertaken that would have been nearly as damaging as his attempt to secure a monopoly on the transport of goods (and bleed the producers). And he bought politicians by the bushel to betray their constituents.

      Of course, Grant and Harrison both tried to recruit officials from outside the decadent elite… And found that reformers can be even more rapacious than the parasites they replaced.

      Those with power don’t like being responsible to anyone but themselves and their peers.

    3. Short vacation trip to KNOX and visited the Museum of Appalachia. Those folks worked their tails off just for the basics. Wife and I went through the thought exercise of making a pair of “homespun” pants from making the thread to weaving etc. Wow, just wow.
      Love learning and practicing many of the old skills. Had a forge, can foods regularly, build anything I need out of wood from coat racks to canoes, make beer, reload freedom seeds, and many other skills. Mostly for fun, but also just to learn. Kids have learned right along with me and have at times been impetus to do them. I do think that Americans are a little odd about that. not get back to nature per se but to expand and learn.

      Never particularly content, I think we are for sure built different. Our hosts reference to our ‘elites’ not understanding real Americans is accurate and in part is due to their misplaced admiration for all things European. Plus their contempt for us mirrors the contempt Europeans seem to feel for us Which I think is driven by envy.

      1. It’s interesting, in reading histories of inventions, that often what (finally) happened was that one person just happened to know X *and* Y, and realized that they could be combined just so. So learning, even “useless” learning, is a Good Thing. Maybe you won’t be the inventor of Z.. but as said “Chance favors the prepared mind.” And, yes, ox oft need remind self of this.

        1. And then we have our current world, in which X and Y are kept far apart lest they explode on contact and those who see the similarities between A and F are not allowed at the frankfurter parties.

          Compartmentalism keeps the plebes from finding out how things really work and disrupting the applecart of the elites.

      1. Nature is NOT ‘nice’. Nature is *effective”.

        Or in human terms:
        Nice is a carefully worded letter in hopes of having an effect.
        EFFECTIVE is a nuclear bomb to Get The Message Through and So There!

  6. I remember being told as a child that I should finish my meal because “there are starving children in Ethiopia.” There was a famine there, we were told. On television, I remember seeing heartbreaking images of a tiny starving child sitting next to an empty food bowl. Their crops had failed because of a drought. We all bought it. It was the only narrative being sold.

    Then just a couple of years ago I read about the violent Marxist revolution in Ethiopia, which included the widespread murder of public officials and the educated, and the subsequent famine and starvation because of it.

    It was all the freaking Marxists, not a drought. Today, the narratives that they keep trying won’t hold. They don’t control the information any more. The truth keeps seeping out from their censors and their liars. I’m very pleased about this progress. But wounded animals are dangerous, so I’m keeping that in mind too.

      1. My response to that, “We can send them this.” was – not well-received . . .


        Didn’t work for me either. (Rubs backside in memory.)

      2. My third-grade teacher claimed that she received the beating of her life from telling her mother just that.

        1. When my mother piled everything from my bedroom floor on my bed in the hopes that would make me clean my room…I slept on the pile.

  7. One thing that has me totally optimistic is the existence of Maker Fairs and Labs where average everyday people learn to make things. Not arts and crafts, but machinery, how to use welders, lathes, milling machines, 3D printers, laser cutters, electronic measuring tools such oscilloscopes, multimeters, frequency counters, and on, and on. These are things that are beneath the Kultura, skills which belong to flyover country. If your fingers can make a piece of paper dirty after you’ve done a day’s work, you are not part of the Kultura.

    When a mass of individuals can make almost anything they wish, then it’s hard to keep them under heel. I acquired a number of books with the intention of keeping as much useful human knowledge available as possible. One book which still draws my eye is by John Strong: Procedures in Experimental Physics – 24th printing 1966. Originally printed in 1938, it shows in detail what physicists undertook to discover what we know about our world and universe. Making instruments to try to capture what is going on, at this time there were no huge quantities of resources on the shelves. A physicist had to know how to create things to make the things to make the things, this includes how to make resistors!

    I urge everyone interested in keeping the lamps of true civilization lit to acquire similar books!

    1. Audels manuals.

      I contend an early 20th century civilization could be build from the ruins of a failed 21st century if necessary, just from the information in those manuals.

      1. Is that the series of build a lathe, build a forge, etc. books that uses basic hand tools and tools built earlier in the series?

        1. No, it’s build/repair/operate a steam boiler, engine, furnace, plumb a building… Titles such as Audel’s Shipfitters Hand Book, for Lofsmen, Welders, Riveters, Anglesmiths, Flange Turners And All Ship Mechanics., or the Audels 8 volume Engineers and Mechanics Guide published 1921. Readable by anyone with a 1920’s sixth grade education, unintelligible for many college grads today.

        2. Dave Gingery did a series on making a metal shop from scrap. The first part is to make a small charcoal fired casting furnace. All the castings from his series are from aluminum, though there’s a fair mount of DIY cast iron/cast bronze work going on. Dave passed away, but his books (and some by his son, Vince) are more-or-less available. (The store site says it’s closed for vacation until March 2.0.)

          https://gingerybookstore.com/index.html

          Lindsay Publications used to have a lot of the older books, though he retired in 2011, and the people who picked up the business are in the process of retiring. Paul Hasluck’s Metalworking book* is a pretty good resource. (Searching on lindsay publications points to some sites where the books have been scanned and posted online. These *should* be public domain, except for the newer stuff Lindsay distributed.)

          Village Press sells a few magazines on related topics: Home Shop Machinist, Digital Machinist, Machinist’s Workshop, as well as Live Steam, for those interested in making their own steam engines and/or larger scale model railway items. try villagepress dot com (or vpdcs dot com)

          (*) That seems to be sold on the ‘zon.

  8. I suspect their being ridiculous on crime (Truly? Public camping for feral homeless?) is their attempt to make us look decadent according to the propaganda of decades.

    While that probably accounts for some of them, I’ve met too many people who believe children are inherently good, spanking for misbehavior is evil (you need to find out why and gently explain) and that one should always be nice.
    It’s not nice to imprison low-level criminals or institutionalize those unable to take care of themselves – it’s nicer to let them live as they wish even if it’s unsightly & inconvenient to others
    These people don’t understand incentives and they never learned the difference between nice and kind. And they really don’t realize how destructive their policies are. They are C.S. Lewis’ tyrants who believe their acts are for the good of their victims.

    1. “unsightly & inconvenient to others”
      Forgive my schadenfreude when we now hear reports that the elites, their friends and families are now shocked, shocked I tell you, that they can no longer stroll down a NYC sidewalk without having to look to avoid feces and used hypodermics. And people they actually know are being carjacked and robbed at gunpoint.
      As ever was, eventually the chickens they will come home to roost.

      1. Yeah back when I worked in Boston the number of homeless that lived in and around North Station/Boston Garden was huge. Come in on the train at 7 am and many benches in the large north station waiting area had some sprawled sleeping person that had probably been sleeping there since 5 am when the station opened. When they woke up they’d beg aggressively. If they got too aggressive the transit police would toss them out. They wouldn’t go to the shelters as they’d make them get clean and almost all of them seemed to have addiction and/or Mental illness issues. How you solve it is hard. A pure law enforcement solution merely moves the problem elsewhere, The liberal “solution” just gets you more (cf San Francisco, Seattle). Without removing the autonomy of these so called adults I cant see a resolution.

        1. We know how to solve it. Shelter given with conditions and enforcement and then a law enforcement solution. But it has to be unified within at least a state. And it has to be DEMANDING. Tough love DOES work. And before you get too heartbroken over being mean: a lot of these people would thank you after being forced to get clean. They’re making these decisions from the insanity and drugs. It’s not really THEM>

          1. Agreed tough love can work well. But as i noted without removing autonomy you just get displacement. They’ll just move from North Station to Harvard Square, or Lowell or Lawrence or Worcester, all of which are less equipped to deal with them than Boston. Around here it would have to be most of New England agreeing to a protocol. NH, RI CT, ME and VT are just a $20-30 bus ride away and most homeless gather more than that in a morning. Hell the MBTA’s the Ride (meant for elderly or folks with severe disabilities who cant use the T or buses) is notorious for shifting homeless around. I can’t even see Massachusetts managing to control it, the bleeding heart liberals will always carve out sinecures for these folks. Not sure why the politicos do it. Not like they can blame the republicans, they’re effectively extinct except in suburbs and Exurbs, and even then they’re squishes. Calling them Rino (e.g. Gov Baker, Ex Governer Romney) is an insult to chubby unicorns. The homeless are not going to donate to their campaign or vote (other than without their knowledge perhaps). Is there some large federal pool of money for homeless resolution to glom onto and steal? I imagine the MA House and Senate (not called that but its what they are) do pass lots of money for it so Maybe? Current Boston Mayor (Wu) is trying to extricate a bunch of folks from an encampment (Mass and Cass) and really not making much headway, although not clear that she wants headway, just to look cool, she clearly has her target set for higher office.

            1. ” Is there some large federal pool of money for homeless resolution to glom onto and steal?”

              Multiple. See HHS, HUD, etc.

            2. without removing autonomy you just get displacement


              As someone who watches popup camps move (leaving their garbage behind, naturally) in Lane County (mostly Eugene) despite the “Safety Camps” … Too familiar with this process.

              Note, Neither Springfield or Coburg Oregon have a problem. Not that they move people along (they do, but not a constant problem). They do not allow panhandling. The panhandler gets cuffed, removed, and put into the police vehicle, if caught after the person handing the panhandler money is pulled over and ticketed. Rumor has it the tickets are not inexpensive either. Hey, at least Coburg, has to make up revenue somehow, since the State and County got their nose out of joint because Coburg wasn’t sharing their I-5 speed trap revenue. 🙂 (Now only X% of a local, city/county, revenue can come from speed traffic violations. State confiscates excess. So now pretty much only dangerous activities related to speed are ticketed. It can happen “just keeping up with traffic”, but a lot rarer. Makes for interesting speed on I-5 etc. At least when traffic is actually moving … or, does not always apply to Portland Metro.)

              Note, most “Safety Camp” areas are not in use (ones in use and not cleared out regularly, not sure these are “Safety Camps” as defined, or just areas “allowed to camp”). But the Conestoga style hut “Safety Camps” are empty and unused, with a few exceptions. The church ones (at least one on River Road is) are in use. But the bigger City or County provided ones are empty. Why? Not safe because of COVID. My question is “and these popup dirty, highly concentrated, lack of sanitary, and garbage facilities, locations ARE? WTH?” (Still no reports of homeless dropping dead, or being found dead.)

            3. The govt programs to deal with homeless, mental health, anti violence etc are patronage arms for the dems. No way they ever solve those problems

    1. Agreed. Decadence is a word that should be used for chocolate and other tasty desserts. Or maybe that’s just ‘delicious’ by another name. But still.

      Things I’ll complain about, things like the stupidity of people in government positions, the stupidity of people in government positions making regulations and laws about things which they’ve not the slightest notion, and of course, pineapple on pizza (because that’s just wrong, yo).

      I’m not going to complain about having access to clean water, take out dinner every now and again, the internet, and plastics. That stuff’s useful and convenient. Have the gov’t stand a bit less between me and the sun and I’m a bit more a happy man. But decadence? Eh. The presence of stupidity in other people (namely democrat people) does not make a stupid person of me and mine. Far from it.

      I’ll point and ridicule, laugh at the folks wearing masks by themselves in cars, while eating, while swimming… But we’re a long stretch from pushing up the daisies as a country yet.

            1. Some people learn by listening. Some by watching. Others still by doing.

              Then there’s the rare, unfortunate soul that just *has* to stick his hand in the fire, tongue to the frozen pole, and pee on the electric fence.

              I would posit that there is yet another category, progerssivus idioticus which does *not* learn, and yet insists that everyone else follow along with his march off the cliff. These people are not leaders. They’re the reason that toddler leashes were invented.

            1. Well, you’re not wrong. But the problem lies in attributing common sense and rationality to an idea with no roots in either. A virus that magically avoids BLM gatherings but concentrates at Trump rallies, will attack you by yourself sitting in your own car with all the windows up but will avoid you like the plague in a restaurant full of people when you are sitting down is a work of fiction, and particularly bad fiction, not fact and science based.

              This is about power and control, not health and safety. That much is obvious. When you can encourage your flock to do idiotic things that make no sense, and even scold other people that *have* sense when they don’t go along, that’s power (of a sort) and control.

              If you’ve not read it, Brownstone published a translation of Ehud Qimron’s letter to the Isreali Ministry of Health that sets things out more clearly than I could say. If only we could convince the other side with practicality and common sense- but if they were persuadable by such, they wouldn’t be the other side anymore as it stands now.

              https://brownstone.org/articles/ehud-qimrons-powerful-letter-to-the-israeli-ministry-of-health/

              1. FYI I went and read this most excellent article and decided to post it on FB in my feed and share in a private group. Within a couple minutes I learned from Tank that it was showing “content unavailable.”
                Speedy little shites these FB bots.

                1. Yet another reason to avoid the YouTwitFace triad, I believe.

                  I’m still waiting to see what the Trump media organization is going to do with its intent to create a social media platform for the de-platformed, deplorables, and the defiant Americans. I don’t *like* the situation as it stands, with those companies, and Amazon (etc, etc) having no competition.

                  Sure, I expect lefties to try to infiltrate it and destroy it (viz: TEA Party). But setting it up as explicitly non-lefty/Marxist/Socialist/Crazycakes can’t but be a good thing, right?

                  1. My suspicion is that the people involved in Trump’s new media venture will be completely cutoff from financial access Operation Chokepoint style, and that they will all face heavy IRS and other bureaucratic persecution, including FBI raids Project Veritas style. The Democratic Party establishment with the help of their oligarch allies will go full Stasi/Gestapo to silence opposition.

                    1. If they aren’t – and this is a sad commentary on our times – one might have to ask whether they have turned into controlled opposition.

              2. To provide an other illustration of the COVIDiotcy; I give you the United States Fencing Association current rules that require fencers to wear face masks under their mesh masks while actively fencing. So okay, I’ll wear the damn thing when I’m sitting around waiting for the next competition, but when I pull my fencing mask on, guess what? That other mask slides off the nose and mouth and I’m wearing it on my chin. Oh well. heheheheh

                1. Or masked while DANCING. I can’t imagine. No one said anything, but nearly everyone else was masked. One lady looked at my maskless face and made her excuses.

                  Most of the masks came off within minutes when people started sweating.

                2. Oh for Ghu’s Sake USFA. My own decripitude made me quit fencing long ago but wearing a mask under the mask/helmet would likely send me into cardiac arrest after 2-3 minutes of vigorous fencing. And I think my odds of scoring any points (which were never high mind you) would asymptotically approach zero due to my glasses fogging up should I survive.

      1. Saw a guy in a college town last summer bicycling with a mask on.
        Mask count in my part of the world is up a tick thanks to worry about O, but majority still showing off their nekkid faces. Works for me.

        1. Walked into a Target this afternoon past a sign board stating that due to and “emergency order” (no idea) everyone was required to wear a mask in the store…I shrugged and kept walking. We weren’t the only maskless fiends in the place and nobody said anything.

          1. Trader Joes in Medford, Oregon had a sign just outside the entrance (like virtually every other store under Despicable Kate Brown’s thumb), but they *also* had one just inside the vestibule. Even I broke down and put on my desperado mask.

            West of the Cascades in Oregon, about 90% take rate for masks.
            East of the Cascades, maybe 70%, up from about 50% before omicron fear-porn panic.

            And yes, there’s a statewide mandate for indoor masking. OTOH, not much pushback for the free-breathers.

            1. Yesterday I drove down to Roy, WA (on the back side of Ft. Lewis) to look at a truck that turned out to be rusted and smelled like pee inside. Bah. Anyway, on topic, nobody in the office (or out on the grounds) was wearing a mask even though there’s still a state mandate for public indoor spaces.

        1. Sacrilege! Pizza must not include tropical fruits. Pies of the non-pizza kind are, of course, quite exempt. But! Thou shalt not desecrate a crispy crust, tangy tomato sauced, and melty cheesed goodness with pineapple!

          1. Apparently it was a Greek-Canadian idea from Toronto, which makes sense because Greeks like sweet combined with meat (see Cincinnati cinnamon chili). But it was also copying the pineapples on ham thing, which was trendy at the time.

            The true apotheosis is pineapple-anchovy. Man, that is tasty. But apparently a lot of people can’t stand the delicious smell, so it is kinda cruel to order out.

              1. A Mexican pizzeria where I once lived (just outside the barrio in San Jose, CA) would do both anchovy and/or jalapenos as an extra topping. One had to be careful, because the jalapeno pizza was green, and the anchovy topping overwhelmed all the other pizza flavors.

                I didn’t eat there often.

            1. Eh. I do sweet-hot chili with honey and lots of peppers, sweet corn, potatoes, ham, turkey, beans, and a stewed tomato base, so I get sweet + meat. There’s also honey ham and maple bacon. But still I must protest the abomination that is pineapple pizza. Sure, it is a teeny tiny hill to make one’s stand on. But if we don’t protest pineapple pizza, what’s next? Eating bugs? Just say no to pineapple pizza!

              1. Spicy-hot with sweet goes well with meat– I can’t “do” it without the spicy-hot.

                Spicy-sour is better, though. 😀

                (Very much Not A Fan of painful food, and either sugar or lemon are a good way to lower pain levels. :D)

                1. Spicy sour is very good stuff, too. I don’t have too many active recipes for it, though- mostly tex-mex stuff from back when I was a cook for a couple of years. Still worthwhile to make on occasion.

                  Some of my sweet hot recipes are not for those with more sensitive palates, though. It’s not a bad thing- I believe those that do have that have a better sense of taste (able to taste things in smaller amounts that I cannot, I mean). For me, if it’s too bland I just add hot sauce/peppers/or whatever good spices are in the spice rack. Even spicy breads with rosemary and fresh garlic, which most of my friends say is “too much” garlic. As if there is such a thing! ;p

                  1. Even spicy breads with rosemary and fresh garlic, which most of my friends say is “too much” garlic. As if there is such a thing! ;p

                    Some folks just don’t like their vegetables.

          2. Hear! Hear! Pineapple on pizza is anathema. Not just due to the taste but the enzymes in the pineapple do weird things to the cheese. Pineapple on Pizza, Not even once…

      1. When you start with an IQ in the low 90’s/ High 80’s and repeatedly do acid and other drugs the result is kind of like our current VP. I say kind of as most druggies I knew in high school had greater self awareness and better follow through than Willie Browns side piece.

  9. Greece… “Inappropriate” partners.. er, Zeus… anything not nailed down… and with some tools and grease (or olive oil, or…) a good many that were. See Also: Low bar

    1. I do seem to recall reading somewhere that Ganymede was the Greek upper class trying to justify the things they were up to to the common folk.

      Of course, he also inspired Stueben, so I guess it wasn’t all bad…

    2. This is why you should be careful about the wetnurse’s character. Zeus was nursed by a goat, and you know how randy they are.

      1. Hercules was trained by a Satyr and came out better than his Dad, although as Orvan has noted being less of a horn dog and lead around by your nether regions less than Zeus is a very low bar, we’re talking Olympic class limbo…

  10. As new sexual identities proliferate, it seems like actual sexiness is on the decline. Instead you now have neo-puritans who find consensual sex to be problematic and freak out if a male looks in the general direction of a female.

    1. Unrepentant middled-aged, white, over-educated, conservative, heterosexual, and still employed, male. That makes me one of the most evil of all beings on the planet to the Left.

      1. Thats 2 of us in New England Mike. Married 38 years come June. One doesn’t normally think of the dark side being quite so well, uneventful, but were are definitely the Left’s nightmare… We’re Voldemort, Darth Maul and Gharlane of Eddore rolled into one by their lights Here’s to their confusion and fear of us. Fear the power of the boring white dude !!!

    2. I think the two are linked. We have people who have no idea how to seduce a mate and have been taught that seduction is inherently evil so they dip into their inherent sexism to create this panoply of genders that excuse why they aren’t getting laid.

      “Oh, it’s not because I’m a horrible person with the social skills of a coked-up toddler, I can’t find a partner because I’m a two-spirit genderqueer indigo child.”

      1. Yeah something definitely wrong there. A peer of my younger daughter decided to change pronouns and name. I think some of it was underlying unresolved mental health issues. But a lot of it was that plain old fear we used to attribute male bachelors not wanting to attach. A rather lovely looking girl with a pleasant (if odd in our sense) personality in a relationship with a decent young gentleman, and as it heads to getting more serious she balks. Please DON’T send your children to NYU. It is ludicrously expensive and can take a healthy (albeit confused) evangelical christian and eff them up real good. It is all I can do not to tear up the couple times I have met them (stupid pronoun) and the utter incomprehension in my daughter at the change in one of her best friends is just as heartbreaking. These stupid SJW/TRANZI types have much to pay for. Heads on pikes is far too pleasant an end, as is the Kate Paulk/Vlad Tepes option for these sons of belial.

          1. For the Tranzi’s who incite/perpetrate this, hell yes. For the poor fools caught up in it I’m not sure. In my older daughter’s class the cool thing was to come out as Bi/Lesbian. Most of those young ladies grew out of that and decided to be boring cis hetero folks when they found some male hunk that suited them. Three years later that was not outre enough and so a fair number of my younger daughters cadre are being Trans (or whatever else) to stick it to their parents. The problem here is there is a section of the medical community that want’s to hand the hormone treatments out like halloween candy with little to no cross check on mental issues. Those SOB’s definitely need a helicopter ride. Even a short exposure to the opposite sex hormones can cause permanent damage especially to folks that are genotypically/phenotypically female (i.e. what we used to call girls/women 🙂 ). With that change they can’t just decide to bail from this fad unlike the girls that decided to poke “the man” by making out with other females. That said there is one group of switchers that might deserve a ride, the male to female transitions who seem to be doing it so they can excel at womens athletics. They were meh to crappy male athletes, but put a skirt (or a one piece bathing suit) on them and voila they’re record holders. That’s just intensely self serving and evil.

      2. Either that or it’s an attempt to just get rid of all the courting and “getting to know you” by specifying what you offer up front.

        “Oh, you’re a pangender demisexual were-kin? Me too! We’re so compatible! We should bang!”

        Like a modern, edgy, shock-the-squares version of “SWF looking for SWM for romance and companionship.”

  11. Looking back it seems that during my whole life there have been a long series of Big-Lies that were all Soviet Agit Prop. and that then were turned into “conventional wisdom” which was not to be questioned ever again. It is the quaking of this foundation that frightens our left as ever more lies must be applied to shore it up. Lies are like grains of rice on a chess board in that old story, double and redouble….

  12. “First World problems” seem a sort of insult at first. BUT.. isn’t it WONDERFUL to have those instead of Third-World problems (I must X or else I *die*!) or Second-World problems (I must falsely proclaim X or else the bastards will kill me). First World is, “If I get this wrong, Some Asshole will yell at me.” Know what? I seek “privilege escalation” and will trade ALL of third, second, and even first world problems for whatever *ZERO*th world problems might be. Gee, maybe that One Guy several towns over picked JUST the wrong shade of mauve for his house-paint….

  13. The current “empty the jails” reminds me of an over population short story I read a long, long, long, time ago. Do not remember author, if it was even a published author (might have been HS student creative writing publication in early-mid-70s).

    Story. Everyone crammed into apartments, multi-generational families. Family in question – great-grandfather, grandparents, at least two families, parents and their older than toddlers children, all crammed into a two or three bedroom apartment. Story starts with “great-grandfather has disappeared under suspicious circumstances, murder presumed.” So story goes through how everyone in the extended family is packed up and taken to jail until all this can be sorted out, because “Murder most fowl”. After everyone is taken away, story ends with great-grandpa in the empty rocking chair in the apartment thinking how fast the apartment is going to be reassigned quickly, but remembering his one short stint in jails and prisons and “how empty and uncrowded his family was now experiencing”.


    On another line. Hubby and I are not unique among my siblings. We are unique among most of our cousins. We’ve been married 43 years, Dec. Sister #1, 38 years, Oct., Sister #2, 33 years, Sept. But then we had our own parents to follow, 53 years (until parted by dad’s death), maternal grandparents, 73 years (died 3 weeks apart), Aunt/Uncles, from both sides which are 50+ and 60+ years, and counting. OTOH the latter examples didn’t take with their own children, for most of them (30% still married to original spouse).

    As for marriages not transitioning into or past the empty nest stage. I’ve seen that. Marriages dissolving at 35 years after children marry and move away. Reminds me of the joke where an elderly couple go to a divorce lawyer. Divorce lawyer asks “You are 93, married 70 years! Why?” Answer: “Outlived everyone.”

    1. It rhymes with, but doesn’t quite match, a Vonnegut story–man had discovered an immortality potion… derived from mud and grass, so cheap and infinitely available, so now everyone lived young forever. Great grandpa was the one who actually owned anything, being old enough to have actually accumulated before there was so much everyone, and was a jerk about writing people in and out if his will as they displeased him. Winds up in a huge brawl where everyone gets arrested… with the threat they’ll never be let back in jail if they squeal about how nice and spacious it is there.
      Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. Wiki says there’s a few versions, so maybe it’s the one you’re thinking of after all

      1. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow


        Could be. I don’t remember the immortality. Remember it as grandpa supposedly being killed. But it has been a long, long, long, time.

        everyone gets arrested… with the threat they’ll never be let back in jail if they squeal about how nice and spacious it is there.


        Definitely same implied ending.

  14. Our Hostess Said:
    “if they weren’t such despicable creatures, I’d feel sorry for them. Or at least for the ones who are true believers.”
    The problem is their ersatz heretical christian eschatology. To use a common meme
    1) Bad Capitalist Society
    2) ???
    3) Perfect Socialist Society !!!

    The have acknowledge (or at least marked out ) Original Sin. For original marxism that apple was profit/greed. That went BADLY for the USSR, and CCP is marching toward their comeuppance (which seems a bit overdue, given the usual 70-80 year life span of a Communist state). The American communists chose slavery/ racial division to be their Original Sin having noted even the “poor” were doing quite well in our society and with upward mobility weren’t going to buy into the traditional view. The 1619 project is the SJW/Tranzi Genesis 3 with the fall. But unlike the story of the Fall there is no back story/prophecy of a heel crushing the head of the serpent. As noted in both cases step 2 is left out. The only choice is rigid adherence to their “Laws” of Wokeness. The pharisees of old had only 613 laws to obey but the Woke equivalent has thousands perhaps millions of commands. No mere mortal human could fully follow the pharisees laws, and the SJW/Tranzis know in their heart of hearts they can’t follow theirs either. Their Pharisaical zeal makes them try very hard though. And out there somewhere is Screwtape mucking with their laws for the Enemy. They make normal Human interaction(especially heterosexual sex) wrong or worse viewed as boring. They make fidelity Not a virtue but a fault. They make eating nourishing pleasant food (e.g. traditional meat) anathema and rather point toward things that are unpleasant. As the Enemy and his servants have always done they tarnish anything pleasant or wholesome. So like the Dwarfs sitting in the dark in Narnia’s “The Last Battle”, they sit in the dark presented with a feast of infinite pleasure and their only thought is they are eating the filth from the animals in a stable.

  15. Thanks for this, Sarah. The more I’ve learned about the historical and archeological evidence pertaining to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the more dismayed I’ve become about otherwise sharp people who still carry substantial, undigested lumps of Gibbon in their intellect, or worse, who uncritically accept the politically charged (or outright propagandistic) word of writers from the period.

    The balance of the archeological evidence uncovered in the last 50 years points not to a dying, decadent empire unable to fully recover from the challenges of the 3rd Century, but one experiencing a pretty substantial economic bounce that was reaching the level of the common people. The roll of victories chalked up by the legions of the 4th and 5th century certainly doesn’t point to some terrible decay in military strength, either.

    It’s natural for us today to try and find explanations for the Fall on the Roman side of the border because that’s where all the people writing about it were – people who were inclined to see the Barbarians only as ciphers or symbols for internal political and ideological struggles (and wow, that doesn’t sound familiar *at all*). The reality is that a length of border that was defensible against scanty populations supported by scratch-ard agriculture was no longer defensible against much larger, better-organized populations who’d learned Roman agricultural and military techniques. Then throw in a resurgent threat across the Eastern border. And then the Huns.

    There’s no state so prosperous, morally perfect, and militarily well-led that it can’t be overwhelmed.

    (WordPress seems not to like this post – hopefully third time is the charm!)

    1. Umm … monetary collapse anyone? The Roman Empire was a sophisticated monetary economy that got wiped out by debasement of the currency over a period of two centuries with the money going to pay a bloated bureaucracy and army. Add a little plague and the end,ic political problems with the emperors and away it goes.

      1. Note that I didn’t say that there weren’t internal factors that contributed to their demise, but “monetary collapse” is a massive overstatement. For the most part the coinage was debased slowly over time. Earlier, much worse debasements in the 3rd century didn’t lead to the collapse of the Empire. Earlier, worse plagues didn’t. Monstrous civil wars didn’t (and all three happened during the 3rd century).

        Any attempt to explain this event through some systemic defect or failure of the Roman state has to account for the half of it that… didn’t collapse. Indeed, stuck around for many more centuries and was able to gain strength during the first (roughly) half of that period.

        1. As I recall, wasn’t the Eastern half the prosperous half, at the time? I recall it also had the massively defensible city of Byzantium.

          One thing I need to check is, had the Western empire established a functional system of succession when it fell? Did the emperor get pegged in all of that or later?

          1. I’m not sure we know enough about the detailed economics to really call one the “prosperous half.” Both halves were vast and had multiple major cities, trade and transportation centers, and lots of good farmland. The East had major advantages in the form of shorter overall borders (though one of those was with Rome’s only local peer-competitor nation) and, as you said, the near-invulnerability of Constantinople. Nevertheless the Balkans took a beating during the various incursions and were largely lost a few times.

            The biggest pain was the loss of empire’s North African breadbasket regions. They scraped out the treasury for a massive invasion fleet carrying the cream of the army to retake it, and lost almost all of it in a terrible storm, IIRC. It’s a remarkable fact of ancient history that if you really wanted to lose an army, you sent it to sea.

            1. Interesting I hadn’t seen the loss of the army sent to retake North Africa highlighted before. I could see that being a critical blow to the empire. Did that happen close to the fall of the Western empire?

              And, did they have any real option other than launching the invasion fleet? Or was this a two-for, killing their key logistics and then losing the army to boot?

              1. It was essentially the last significant positive action possible to stabilize the situation in the West, and after it failed there was no prospect of recovery. The only alternative that occurs to me is to work down the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and try and cross into Africa that way, but I think there may have been logistical or timing considerations that prevented that. Remember that things were falling apart very quickly, and this was very much a sort of “Hail Mary” to try and secure what was at the same time a vulnerable and extremely valuable lost territory.

                That said, there’s some interesting alternate history potential in the timeline where there the fleet made a successful crossing and they did retake North Africa.

                1. The climate shifts that started in the 400s also hit the northwestern parts of the empire first and hardest at that time. Lots of cold and stormy weather compared to earlier periods. That disrupted communications and farming. It wasn’t as bad as the 500s, but it didn’t help. The eastern half of the empire got the weather wallop in the 1000s-1100s, which may have been the next-to-final straw that tipped Byzantium into terminal decline.

                  1. Climate shift explanations for civilizational changes can be frustrating to study, outside of the obvious big ones, because it’s obvious that they had major effects on pre-industrial societies but it also tends to be really hard to quantify those effects, even for literate cultures.

                    1. Oh yes. That’s why I get jumpy when anyone says, “It was all due to climate change!” No, never all, but when long-term shifts make things in general easier or harder, it can buy time for a slightly unstable system, or add a straw to the back of an unstable system. Harsh weather years didn’t help the late western Roman Empire. How much they “didn’t help?” *shrugs*

          2. Neither half of the Empire ever came up with a reliable means of political succession. A politically strong Emperor could hand it off to his heir of choice, but every Emperor always had to watch out for provincial nobles and generals who might think they had a shot. In the Byzantine empire, this led to massive centralization of, well, everything, in Constantinople, so the Emperor could keep an eye on everyone. Unfortunately, that also meant that the Emperor mostly had to personally lead major military operations, which meant he was away from Constantinople and not keeping an eye on everyone and…

            1. I will admit, succession was the part that bothered me most about Drake’s Lord of the Isles books, not because he got it wrong, hereditary succession was the norm through most noble societies, but rather because it was pretty clear that method could in no way provide the combined skills and talents that saved the kingdom again. It would likely survive a generation or three, but it was certainly going to fragment and slide back into dark ages again.

              1. Even societies that accepted hereditary succession as legitimate had to worry about civil war. If Cousin Jacques Jr. could convince enough barons that King Grandaddy really wanted to give Jacques Sr. the crown instead of Current King’s Daddy, then whoops you have a rebellion.

                This really only went away in Europe with the gunpowder era, when national armies had to become so large and so expensive to be effective that regional nobles no longer could afford meaningful military power. And even then you still had civil wars.

                The Ottomans solved the problem by just murdering all of the new Sultan’s brothers. America solves it by relentlessly indoctrinating officers that The Army Does Not Get Involved In Politics. Or, rather, it used to; it seems to be slipping.

                1. Yeah. A lot of people didn’t get why tearing down Waahington’s statue was such a big deal. They either forgot, or did not care, his example is a large people of the reason we’ve never had a coup in the US.

      1. Indeed.

        Clever connotations aside, there was a period in the 400s in which the empire stopped being able to generate much combat power, and who got to be emperor largely turned on who could ally with the Huns and borrow their combat power.

      2. Moreover, let’s not forget that they were part of a mass migration of tribes from east to west that was kicked off, in part, by the Chinese fragmenting and the Xianbei nomads taking over the eastern steppes. That pushed their westward neighbors west, and so on into a row of dominoes that pushed Germans and later Huns into the Roman Empire.

  16. SO, Coke is decadence. Tastes great, is bad for you in quantity. And mixes well with other things that aren’t good for you. Hmmmm. I think you’re onto something!

  17. /sigh
    Just got the e-mail ad for Boskone. 50% of the participant list is only going to be there virtually. And I only recognized about 5 of the people on the list.
    Oh well, maybe I can convince my wife to go cross country skiing that weekend.

  18. I must disagree about the Great Reset–when leaders the world over adopt messaging first cooked up by the Davos crowd. “Build Back Better”, “The Great Reset” itself, etc. Now, it’s true that every single one of them believes that he or she is going to be in the driver’s seat, giving the French/Germans/Americans/Grand Fenwickians/Slobovians what they deserve, but that’s true of proto-totalitarians everywhere.

    I suspect that if one looks closely, all of the politicians driving this agenda acquire their wealth, and the tools to maintain their power, from their international connections. And that’s how the whole machine works.

  19. Decadent? Or frivolous? China has hypersonic missiles which can carry a nuclear payload to hit a target anywhere in the world. We have a trans-gender admiral. Russian sells oil to Europe. We beg OPEC to sell oil to us (because we shut down domestic oil production to save the planet from climate change). Uttar Pradesh in India hands out Ivermectin to the public. They have 50,000 active cases of Covid in a population of 230 million. We have vaccine passports. We have 50,000 active cases in New York state alone (20 million).

    I’d bet the US spends more man-hours worrying about pronouns than the entire rest of the world combined. Wait, person-hours? Hourx?

      1. Right?
        If they did, they’d already have used them. Look, they are in trouble BAD.
        Also I expect they work like all the other Chinese “science.” (If we glue AIDS components to cold virus, it makes it extra special bad!”)

        1. They tested some sort of highly-maneuverable reentry vehicle on a ballistic missile (which, natch, travels at hypersonic velocities on reentry). It apparently had some surprising characteristics, but I could never find anything about it except that it was surprising to the DoD.

            1. I’m relying on what the DoD says they tracked. As I mention below, there is a big difference between testing a prototype and fielding a weapon system.

                1. I don’t think the DoD was lying about the Chinese conducting a test. I do discount the idea that anyone who knows anything was actually surprised. There’s a reason this sort of thing was a subject of treaty limitations in the 60’s (or was it 70’s?). It *is* possible that they managed a higher degree of maneuverability in the glide phase than what anyone expected them to. But like I said, I’m not sure what that really means.

                  1. Point of missile defense is to make the opposition spend more on delivery, if they want to throw enough at us to be more than we can accept as the price for a decisive resolution.

                    If they can’t show that they can produce ten working vehicles at a time, nine hits are probably acceptable.

                    An apparent test of a vehicle is not actual proof of a vehicle delivering a warhead.

                    If they can only produce a few working vehicles, that is still not a material change to circumstances. Basically, Sarah’s analysis of the strategic situation holds. There is no reason to think that PRC military bureaucracy understands good and bad engineering research, and no reason to think that a totalitarian government can reliably procure complex systems, much less use them effectively in practice.

                    Russia and China are pushing the “LOL, missile defense is pointless” tests because they don’t want us spending on missile defense. The answer is spending on missile defense.

                    Even so, the Democrats have almost certainly screwed up a lot of missile defense research capacity.

                    1. There’s another reason that this sort of delivery vehicle makes sense–if you can only make complicated vehicles on a small scale, under the watchful eye of trusted leadership. In such a case, it would make some sense to put dozens of warheads into orbit on a single Long March 5, and de-orbit them as required, rather than trust that 100 or so ICBMs will all launch correctly.

                      I agree that it does not appear to be something that would drastically change the strategic situation.

                  2. a higher degree of maneuverability

                    And yet if you read down to the end of the original article on this, you find out that they missed the target by twenty miles.

                    Now, since it’s China, they’ll keep right on working on it. Unlike the US, where a failed test ends up in a welter of recriminations and bureaucratic infighting and the program getting canceled.

                    1. In the U.S. the weapon that could have hit the target spot-on was rejected because a half-assed competitor had better political connections. Now they get a lot more of our money to ‘improve’ it to be less half-assed.

                2. To be fair; that is a pretty good obfuscation technique.

                  One of the most interesting aspects of nuclear brinkmanship is that it is 99% mindgame. To the point where it almost doesn’t matter if the stuff works or not, except in the limited sense of the other side finding out that your stuff doesn’t work.

            2. Remember the last umpty-squat times that the news reported top defense or intel guys were taken totally by surprise, and we had folks piping up that it couldn’t be true unless they were deliberately ignoring stuff that had gone on before?

              Like the timeline in Afghanistan, where they actually went *slower* than the basic logistics experiment from over a decade ago gave as a faster end?

              1. In this case, “surprised” could simply mean “nobody has thought about this in 50 years because we signed a treaty with the Sovs that says we can’t build one”.

                  1. *snort*
                    This is the same DoD that likes to tell me that vehicle components failing gracefully when getting shot at is not part of the specification.

                    1. Given the quality of everything else you’ve said this evening, I shall stick with what I actually saw, participated in, listened to folks brainstorm about, and that for heaven’s sakes are often publicly available if one can be bothered to get off of their tail and go look for long enough.

                      Beats the tar out of some guy who latched on to what was openly labeled as anonymous rumor in the original story, and even when all other major details are shown to be false clings to that.

                    2. China says they tested a reentry vehicle, anonymous DoD source says they tested a reentry vehicle. Granted, that’s thin stuff, but I don’t understand this attempt to claim that China can’t possibly have done things that they clearly have the capability to do?

                      If they were claiming to have a hypersonic cruise missile, that would be different, but that’s not what is going on here.

                    3. Could be. If they had claimed an actual hypersonic missile (rather than a reentry vehicle), I would put it at 99% mind games. But (hyperventilating journalists aside) that’s not what was claimed.

                    4. :eyebrow raise:

                      You decided that pointing to information which did not support your claims was ‘saying ugly things,’ made an utterly moronic attempt at a personal attack– one which is biologically impossible, by the by– and decide that when your attempts to attack me in leu of supporting your claims didn’t get the desired response, then accusing me of being excessively interested in me will?

                      Only one person decided that the state of my reproductive system was relevant to the discussion of military and culture, and that person isn’t on this side of my keyboard.

                    5. Well, since you’re guessing what might be wrong with me based on your perception of my behavior, why was it wrong for me to do the same thing?

                    6. LOL 😆

                      Actually, you are the person who should “get over yourself”.

                    7. LOL 😆

                      If you’re attempted to get Sarah to “kick you out”, I don’t think you going to succeed. 😆

                    8. Er. Over the top, Neil.
                      As for why we’re annoyed: I’m getting sick and tired of the “China is so much awesomer than us” about what is about to become a hot enemy.
                      Fear and despondency. And stupid too.
                      BTW the disciplines: I know people in chemistry, physics and biology. Stuff is either OUTRIGHT stolen from other people or incomprehensible insanity.

                    9. I agree with all of that. It’s a novel experience for me to be accused of being overly optimistic about China’s capabilities. Which is why I try hard to understand what they actually are and aren’t capable of. To some extent it’s a professional obligation, but it’s also just curiosity.

                      And yeah, probably over the top. I lost my temper.

            1. All too often “unnamed sources” are “we pulled this out of our rear”. 😦

              Of course, I also suspect “unnamed sources” are “people who were willing to sell us garbage”. 😆

              1. Don’t forget that infamous murder story that turned out to be entirely made up– Kitty Genovese got help, and folks called the cops, etc, but some reporter gossiped with a cop that wasn’t even on duty then and the story he wrote is what got famous.

            2. I’m not sure why you’re arguing so hard against the idea that China can boost a maneuverable reentry vehicle to orbit, and select its point of reentry. That’s 1970’s stuff, and they aren’t exactly Neanderthals.

              1. Thus far you have leapt around like a fart in a skillet on the topic, and are currently charging off in yet another direction when your statement was accepted as anything less than gospel.

                *glances over*

                And now I see you are declaring confusion on the subject of the Spartans, in spite of you having joined that conversation, as well.

                So, either drunk, naturally incoherent, or in the mood to be a piss.

                Any way it goes, not my problem.

                1. Perhaps I only seem incoherent because you don’t understand the technologies involved.

                  Really, would it be so surprising if they decided to utilize 40-year-old technology that was politically untouchable for everyone else, for some perceived tactical advantage?

        2. I like the way a buddy of mine was trying to deny that COVID was an attempt at weaponization. He was trying to tell me that because it’s an RNA virus it mutates too quickly into a less virulent form that it could be a weapon (said buddy never worked in or for the military and is clueless about what constitutes a good weapon). I tried to tell him an ideal mass casualty weapon is one the quickly incapacitates or kills, and then renders itself inert. We have both testimony and evaluation of the virus indicating that COVID was bioengineered, and deliberately made more virulent and transmissible. We also have the ridiculous claim that it was designed that way as a test target to be reintroduced into the bat population so they could test an aerosolized immunization agent on it. Yeah, that one is so full of BS I can smell it across the Pacific on the other side of the planet.

          1. I saw an article (no idea where it was published, and I don’t have a link) that asserted Omicron appears to have been genetically engineered to be a “loss of function” variant, with the intent that it would be highly transmissible, mild in symptoms, and would give the population immunity to the other variants.

            If that’s true, it might explain why TPTB are freaking out over its appearance. How could they keep up the skeer?

          2. I’ve also seen speculation that COVID MK1 was to be the bait, and the not-vaccines are the real bioweapons. Hmm…

            1. I’m pretty sure I have speculated along those lines.

              Current situation is nuts, and a lot of things that should not be plausible are.

      2. I’m with Ian on this one, Show me the cite. Unless you count a traditional MIRV reentry as hypersonic (which certainly it is in some part of its flight domain). The only actual recorded maneuvering hypersonic flights I know of were the X-15 long ago and a bunch DARPA attempts at wave rider designs with minimal success.

        Admittedly I wish the military brass would quite wasting time on CRT and pronouns and focus on minor things like seamanship, navigation and actually planning actions instead of just running away like Brave Sir Robin. Certainly flag rank is totally contaminated with Obumbles nominees and I think even Colonels/Captains and Majors/Commanders are highly suspect. We’re nearly as screwed as we were after Vietnam. We fixed that but it was 2 terms of a seriously pro military government to get us to the point where Desert Storm worked.

      3. @ Ian Bruene “[citation needed]”
        Citation provided.
        https://www.thenewneo.com/2021/10/18/china-tests-hypersonic-missile/
        Neo links to the then-current news reports and discusses the subject.
        “China secretly tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, the London-based Financial Times reported. The report said that the missile, which adds a new capability to the Chinese arsenal, “flew through low-orbit space” and may be able to “negate” the U.S. missile defense systems.
        “China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught U.S. intelligence by surprise,” the newspaper added.”

        “Hypersonic missiles are faster, more maneuverable, and harder to detect compared to conventional missile systems. “Hypersonic missiles are much faster and more agile than normal ones, meaning they are more difficult to intercept,” the BBC explained. “They can fly at more than five times the speed of sound and, much like ballistic missiles, can deliver a nuclear warhead,” the broadcaster added.”

        Various commenters weigh in with varying degrees of expertise.

        AManOfTheWest on October 18, 2021 at 5:05 pm said:
        “Before I was a computer guy, I was an officer in the USAF training to fly B-52G bombers as part of Strategic Air Command. We were trained in all weapons and theories strategic (circa 1990). So let me give some info on this.

        This test was a launch of a relatively untested type of warhead on an orbital class rocket launcher. ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, are normally not launchable into orbit. Too little lift by the rocket booster, and, unneeded to get the missile bus, which carries the warheads, where they are targeted. ICBM warheads are by their nature ‘hypersonic’ on re-entry. So ignore all the hype around that. So the speed is not new. What’s new about this is that it is launched on a different type of trajectory with more energy than a typical ICBM. The “FOBS” part. It uses a bigger rocket which launches the bus into a low orbit. Traditional ICBM warheads are relatively accurate. 1km or so. FOBs warheads are less accurate for reasons I will detail. Again, neither FOBs, nor MARVs (maneuverable warheads) are new. What’s new is that is that the Chinese combined existing tech so it launches like a FOBS but uses a MARV warhead, a Maneuverable Reentry Vehicle to fix the accuracy issues of traditional FOBS warheads.

        More Detail: [go and look if you are a missile fan]

        A disadvantage of FOBS is that the warhead, typically, must be aimed more or less directly at the target, as there is little cross-range to play with. Thus only a few orbits during a day will pass close enough to the target; most orbits will be many hundreds or thousands of miles too far away. But by using a hypersonic glider as the warhead, cross-range is increased. So now something that looks like a mundane satellite launch that will pass nowhere near a US target will now sprout wings and fly straight down to any target.

        The US and Russians have a treaty BANNING FOBS; the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, that explicitly forbids the deployment of weapons of mass destruction in space, which is exactly what FOBS does. The Chinese are supposed to be on board with this treaty as well, but apparently they don’t car. This likely is not a shock to anyone who follows China. This could be construed as very destabilizing choice by the Chinese. IT is de-stabilizing because it moves to negate the MAD doctrine, which has kept the peace between major powers for 70+ years.

        I sincerely doubt the actual booster (rocket) launch was a surprise. What was likely a surprise was the payload combined with the FOBS (orbital) nature of the launch. Again, destabilizing. The U.S. and Russia would likely forewarn the other if they were to do a FOBS like launch. It’s a very, frankly, stupid thing to do in the nuclear world. If they had done it in 1990, we could have been scrambling bombers off the runway (no kidding).

        Like Neo often says, let’s let this story play out longer than 24 hours. We’ll learn more about exactly what happened and when.”

        1. https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/18/china/china-hypersonic-missile-spacecraft-intl/index.html

          >>Beijing (CNN)China has denied a report that it tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, saying on Monday that the test was instead a “routine spacecraft experiment.”

          The Financial Times reported Sunday that “China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.” The report cited unnamed sources “briefed on the intelligence.”
          When asked about the report at a regular press briefing Monday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the August test was “a spacecraft, not a missile.”

          Shorter:
          Financial Times got a juicy sounding scoop, probably misunderstood at some stage in the leak, and ran with it.

          Even China doesn’t claim that it’s a hypersonic missile; if I remember the not-single-source information, it was that they were testing stuff that has military application under the disguise of testing spacecrafts, and really really wanted us to think they are scary and effective.

                1. I think of it as “taking the easy way out”– I’m better able to both resist, and be charitable about, someone who is Just Too Tired (even when I’m pretty sure they’d be fine if they TRIED).

                  It has the same end result, yes.

            1. Not really. If they do have the capability to field something like this armed with nuclear warheads, it pretty much negates our ABM defense capability. It would not negate our second-strike capability however, at least not the SSBN leg of the triad.

                1. The CCP is capable of doing most anything the U.S. can do, on a hand-built onesie-twosie scale. There are a large number of capable individuals in China (unsurprising given that there are a very large number of individuals in China), and their lab work can be very good.

                  China’s Achilles heel is when they try to scale up anything that requires diligence and integrity. Culturally, China is less than the sum of its parts.

                  1. China’s Achilles heel is when they try to scale up anything that requires diligence and integrity.

                    Or regular maintenance, reportedly.

                    Those two guys who used to motorcycle around China went to a random ordinary village and looked at all the houses and roads that were just falling apart because nobody would spend the effort to keep them up. They said it was like that everywhere, that the Chinese just didn’t do maintenance. I don’t know if it’s a Chinese culture thing or a Communist thing, although I suspect if it’s the first then the second made it worse.

                    1. Worked with a man with extensive experience in China back in early 90s. We were doing a project together in in So, Korea. He related one of the primary differences was that the Koreans were meticulous and very concerned about being clean and organized and accurate in all that they did even in factories that were a step above mud huts. In a word pride. The Chinese, he stood and outstretched his arms, and spun in a circle and stated that that radius was all a Chinese person cared about. He was adamant that without strict OUTSIDE standards and FORCEFUL compliance everything would be s**t.

                      He was not wrong as we have all experienced. Interesting times.

                  2. Not for the more complicated things, no. They suffer from a peculiar form of science (remember their mentality is still largely “Chinese science”, so, you don’t refrigerate medicines, say, because that’s nor harmonious. And if it looks like x, it is x.) which you can verify by asking any scientists who reads journals of “discoveries” from China. It’s like…. crazy side science, not real.
                    AND from totalitarian sclerosis. In that everyone does enough to “pass.”
                    Don’t be fooled by the bullshit.
                    No, it has nothing to do with natural intelligence. IT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH CULTURE.

                    1. I’m not sure what disciplines of science you’re referring to, but I’ve read papers out of China in my specialties that, while not cutting-edge, are workmanlike. Sure, the majority are garbage, but that’s true of any country. Anyway, this isn’t the world-shattering technology everybody seems to think it is. They do, in fact, successfully boost payloads to orbit. They have, I believe, been observed testing maneuverable warheads from their ballistic missiles. If you put a maneuverable warhead on an orbital booster, that’s all you need to perform the test that was described. It’s 1970’s technology. 1980’s at most. There’s really no reason to think they couldn’t do it. Whether one calls it a “space vehicle test” or a “weapon test” is really more about the intended effect on one’s readership.

        2. Hmmm. Last I checked, momentum was a function of mass times velocity. A hypervelocity missile is not going to be more maneuverable because it’s not going to be making fast tight turns at those speeds. It’s going to be making big, wide turns. And it’s not going to be able to slow down fast, or accelerate faster very well either. A hypervelocity missile’s sole strength is the ability to get to the target before it can be tracked and counter measures deployed. If I knew the general trajectory of a hyper missile, I’d put 3 or more counter missiles packed with several hundred pounds of ball bearing to blow up as it’s coming in. They can’t armor the missile to survive that kind of a defense unless they use a Thor design – a telephone pole sized tungsten projectile dropped from orbit, or rail gun projectiles from a ship, such as our Navy claims they’ve decided not to deploy.

    1. China has hypersonic missiles which can carry a nuclear payload to hit a target anywhere in the world.
      IF you believe their state media, they do.
      If you believe their state media, you MIGHT be a moron.

      1. To be fair, if you believe our state media you might be a moron (non-AOS moron, of course), too.

        What, some folks don’t believe we have a state media? Of course we do. What else would the old media be when they act primarily as the propaganda arm of the D party?

    2. :curious: Why on earth are you treating those freaks as if they are anything but, well, freaks?

      Possibly threats, of course, but they are not normal.

      Incidentally, the murderous dude in a dress isn’t a military admiral, and China is making that claim because the US *really can* have feet on the ground anywhere on earth in 24 hours, with a ship sitting right off coast to send out planes.
      Since the stuff they try to do to actually show off has a nasty habit of making even our worst ships look like they’re in great shape when folks watch for too long….

  20. > If you realize the actual structure of Imperial Rome was closer to the Soviet Union’s, a plunder culture that could only survive by stealing, the whole thing will take your breath away with its chutzpa

    Yep. It’s been observed that ancient Rome was essentially a Mafia family writ very, very large. Capos, consiglieri, street crews, guys getting whacked… it was all there — except instead of shaking down, e.g., the neighborhood bar, they were shaking down, e.g., France (okay, Gaul).

    The business model hasn’t changed in nearly 3,000 years. Because it works.

    That said, there’s still plenty to admire about ancient Rome.

  21. The dirty little secret is that while the Left controls the institutions, it does not control the means of food production. They cannot survive without all of those deplorable farmers and ranchers. Ant it galls them.

    1. They keep trying to control (or at least screw up) food production. Note shortages of equipment, parts to repair the above, input chemicals, (not sure about seed inventories, though the online gardening supply prices were kind of high) not to mention the oriental group fornication of transportation, and the situation promises to be interesting. Protip: if you don’t have a good stock of food in storage, why not?

      And yeah, I *hate* interesting times.

  22. > I’d bet the US spends more man-hours worrying about pronouns than the entire rest of the world combined.

    If you want to get an earful, ask a normal Hispanophone person (not an academic, “advocate” or “activist”) what they think of the “Latinx” barbarism.

    Yeah, they don’t like it.

    1. Folks what know a thing or two about languages ain’t too pleased with it, either. There are perfectly good words there already. They don’t need corrupting by those that don’t even speak any other language than Lefty English (increasingly diverging so far from its common English root that I expect it to become its own uniquely bonkers language any day now).

  23. The decadence of the US lies mainly in the jungle of evil laws and regulations that have been created in the last 60 years, and specifically those that destroy family formation…,Terrible divorce laws, subsidizing teen girls to become single parents, encouraging college students to get massively in debt, and at high interest rates, and encouraging massive housing inflations that makes homes unaffordable, particularly in light of regulations that hugely restrict new home building…And accumulating enormous debt at the State and national level, which is a sword hanging over the heads of our children…And the Soviets didn’t invent and grow the drug trade…that was our very own CIA and military, to pay for their illegal operations overseas…

  24. *snaps fingers*

    THAT is what has been bugging me about the “hard times make for good men” thing.

    Well, other than that it fails when tested….

    Doing The Right Thing is hard because, when you have to think about it, it’s going to take work.

    Things aren’t right because they’re hard, or make thing uncomfortable for people.

    It’s moral displacement.

    It is, oddly enough, lazy— not just because of the tendency for it to be somebody else that should be doing the hard thing, although it definitely has that. Because it avoids the hard work and risk involved in doing the right thing and doing it right.

    You have to get the best information you can, you have to balance interests, and costs, and conflicting obligations, you gotta look at yourself and try to see if you’re warping it– and you may still be wrong.

    It’s so, so much easier and safer to go with “do the hardest thing, and if you don’t you’re wrong, evil and to blame for all the bad stuff that happens.”

    1. It’s so, so much easier and safer to go with “do the hardest thing, and if you don’t you’re wrong, evil and to blame for all the bad stuff that happens.”

      “Do the hardest thing” would be an improvement. There would be a chance of hitting the right thing from time to time by accident.

      The actual usage of the idea a mixture of pulling credit for being “nice”, together with “woe is me”, all centered around being insufficiently like one of CSL’s Tyrants For Your Own Good.

    2. Because sometimes the right thing is to get the freaking robot to handle the stinky smelly thing that needs to be done, and you hate doing, because the robot will do it better and more reliably than you’ll ever do, and it freed you up to do other things that the robot simply cannot do.

      1. Yep.

        Or to stay home and play video games, or to NOT force your kids to do something they hate– or, gasp, find out why they hate [whatever activity] so much, maybe it’s *not* that they are worthless, perhaps there is even a problem.

  25. Decadence; from Latin ; de, from and cadere, to fall, to sink, hence falling away.
    Alas today’s on-line dictionaries Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, etc., No longer provide such information. I had to go to my dictionary stand 9″x11″x3`1/2″ 1976 Webster New Twentieth Century Dictionary, unabridged to find the root.

    (My ’79 Webster’s New Collegiate, of course has word roots as well, my ’93 Random House Webster’s does not.)

    Dang today’s dictionary editors are decadent!

    Seriously, I suspect it’s far easier for them to re-define words for new-speak if their origins are hidden.

    1. @ jiminalaska > “Dang today’s dictionary editors are decadent!”
      A few years back, I was double-checking a word for some writing project, although I was pretty sure I remembered the definition, but it was an uncommon word and I wanted to be sure. It was not on-line anywhere. It was not in my Encarta, or my current-ish Merriam-Webster. I had to go back to my dead-tree 1911 Webster’s to find that I was using it correctly.

      And don’t get me started on contemporary encyclopedias.

      1. The corruption of the language is of a piece with the corruption of history, education, et al. There is nothing made good by addition of leftism. Not one thing. You can disagree with republicans without being a leftist (I do. Often). But, like one drop of sewage in a barrel of wine, it inevitably taints the whole.

      2. My 197x Britannica got slated for walling when I looked at the article on coyotes. (in short “If you don’t like coyotes, you are a poopyhead.”)

    2. I noticed that many of the words have gotten the “woke” treatment for the last ten years at least. I used to be able to go to the Oxford dictionary to find roots of words… not so easy any more.

  26. As for divorce, which in America is almost the norm (Husband and I are weird as we were each other’s first spouse, and are chugging on at 36-almost-37 (for the Summer anniversary) years of marriage) there are tons of reasons for that, which have bloody nothing to do with culture or decadence.

    Oooh, this is actually kind of cool– when they’ve tried to go and actually FIND OUT what the real divorce rate was?

    Could barely get one third of ever-married people over age 20 who had ever been divorced.

    https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2021/demo/p70-167.html

    1. Anecdata: Family stats vary quite a bit. Two aunts were divorced multiple times (one remarried Hubby #1 after #2 was kicked out, the other had a bad rebound after #1, but #3 lasted.)

      My generation, so-so. counting sibs and cousins, 5 stable marriages, 4 divorced once, 2 divorced multiple times. The next generation is running 60% stable.

      1. That matches the pattern they identified, actually– that people who divorce *tend to* divorce again, and again, and again– and frequently also marry serial-divorced.
        It’s also known that children of divorce tend to avoid marriage and be more likely to divorce, and that there was a big spike in divorces right at first and it’s been dropping since.

        The important part is that the idea you’ve got a 50/50 chance of success at first wedding is *absolutely false.* You have, at absolute worst, a one in three chance of failure– and if you weren’t married when no-fault divorce hit your state, that risk goes down.

  27. One thing I think gets generations is we seem to require additional layers of specialized information each generation.

    Take brushes. In medieval times, apparently you’d grab an appropriately sized stick off of a bush and splat it out to make an appropriate brush. And when you done, into the kindling pile it goes.

    While there is some art to picking the right stick, it’s very general, and as long as you’ve got your knife and a good brush wood nearby, you can make any brush you need on the spot.

    Now drop the same person into the modern world. They need to brush their teeth. What do they do? There aren’t any brush woods handy, and people freak out if you start pulling twigs off of their plants. You need to know that there are dedicated brushes made just for teeth now. You need to know they sell them in stores, and which type of stores sell them. Your local garden shop won’t have them, and while a hardware store will have brushes, they’re an entirely different type of brush.

    Then once you’ve found the right store, and the right section of that store and paid for it and brought it home, now you have to have a lace to keep it, and keep it clean between uses, and make sure to replace it if it gets worn, but now, you can finally brush your teeth.

    Of course you’ve just had dinner so it’s time to do dishes and oh god I need another brush…

    And so you end up with a medieval character wondering how the heck modern man gets anything done with all the time they must spend looking for the right brush.

      1. Not a clue. I just remember running into the “how did people brush their teeth” episode of Modern History TV and raiding it mercilessly when I needed ideas for what might annoy someone from a high magic background when living in modern society. So, brushes it was.

        On the other hand, tap water was a gift from the gods.

        1. You want a gift from the gods? Indoor plumbing. My Grandparents house had an outhouse. It was hot unpleasant and stenchy and bee filled in the summer. In the winter it was cold, miserable, stenchy, and spider filled. And at night you used the honey pot and tried not to knock it over before you could take it out the outhouse in the morning. An old mans bladder or a case of the trots must have been hell on earth.

          1. Plumbing period, indoor plumbing, non-lead pipes, proper filtration for clean drinking water, proper waste disposal… The whole of modern progress, I’d argue, rests upon a foundation of modern plumbing, effective farming techniques, and efficient factory/logistics infrastructure.

            And yes, outhouses and chamber pots were not fun. For anyone. Any time, but especially when old, sick, and/or in winter. Do Not Recommend. Zero stars.

            1. Encountered an outhouse in a New Jersey state park that was almost *full*. Very nasty indeed.
              Otoh, while I try to avoid ’em, I was impressed by how well-kept the outhouses were on the Alaska Highway. Not fun, but reasonably well-kept, even 500 miles from town. Any town.

              1. Ye blobs and little fishes, almost full? That’s bad. You don’t let ’em get that full, you move the stall and fill in the old one.

                There’s an old tale hereabouts concerning an old feller that decided he wanted to see if there was natural gas in his neck of the woods. Got a gas company man interested (there are pockets of natural gas around this part of the Appalachians after all), and so out came the man with the rig and proceeded to drill.

                “No luck,” says the company man.

                “How about you try just a little deeper? These hills are old. Bound to be a pocket down there somewhere.” And so deeper did he go.

                “Still nothing,” says the company man, disappointed like.

                “Mayhap just a bit more? I have it on good authority there’s gas in these hills.” And so another section got added to the rig, and deeper they went. Nothing by clay, slate, and other various flavors of rock all the way down.

                Company man sighs and tells the old feller like it is, there’s no gas on his property.

                “I know that,” says the old man. “But say, could you do me one favor before you go?”

                “You new there was no gas here,” asks the company man, just about at the end of his patience by now. “So why did you have me come out and drill then? You wasted my time! And you want something *else* now, too!?”

                “Yep,” says the old guy. “”Would you mind too terribly of moving the old outhouse here just over that hole you done drilled? Seeing as how we got it nice and deep now, be a shame not to put it to use.”

              2. On the route over the Cascades, there’s a three-season park with a decent outhouse, now currently closed because of way too much snow, and a state-run “Snopark” off the state highway. You are supposed to have a paid parking permit to use the park, but the toilets (outhouses with concrete foundations/holding chambers) were useful.

                However, due to Covidiocy, they decided that maintaining the state outhouses was too much trouble. Early in the lockdowns, one of the 4 rooms was unlocked. Last summer, all were open. Last week, I stopped by, and all were gone. I guess it was too much trouble to clean and replace TP and do the occasional pumpout, but not too much trouble to remove the buildings. #Headdesk.

      2. Harry is talking specifically about “brushing” of teeth. Quite a lot of people’s all over the world would chew a twig from one or another fibrous, woody plant until it splayed out and use that as an impromptu single-use brush. Alternately you could use your finger. You could use different things as the abrasive, like a little salt.

          1. Certainly not universal, especially once you start moving up the wealth scale or for people who live in places without easy access to the necessary raw material, but it does seem to pop up fairly often as a sort of basic universally-accessible method in areas that did.

  28. I’ll admit the covidiocy has been…. breathtaking in its stupidity. What has most interested me is how the rest of the world fell for a con that was designed to f*ck with the elections in America. I’m still not absolutely sure if their leaders did it, because they too feel the terror nipping at their heels, or because they simply assume if Americans are doing something there must be a reason, because the future comes from America.

    I think part of it is that they went and used stuff like Italy having over-flowing hospitals during flu season as proof that WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!

    … when they do that every year.

    But that set off rather nasty “triage” (purging of the expensive/awkward) to a degree that had not previously been happening, and…well, you’re on the tiger’s back, especially once you use it to get a few cheep shots in yourself.

  29. And dear Lord, what Americans will do for fun. I have more friends with backyard forges than makes any sense.

    :big grin: The WWII vets had a hobby group– I think it was something like Mountain Men? Morphed into a lot of blackpowder groups, very into the Davey Crocket stuff– that likely sourced a lot of those forges. My grandfather made a rifle in his poor-guy hobby smith shop.

    1. I think “Forged in Fire,” has been a factor as well. It’s entertaining and you get bits of information as well. I’ve got quite a list of weapon names now from that show. It’s popular enough that J.C. Campbell had a blacksmithing class where they specifically stated they would not be forging blades.
      For that matter places like the Folk School are centers for learning useful arts and crafts. Some of the instructors are holdover hippies but they usually manage to keep politics out of the classes.

      1. There’s been smithing in these parts, ongoing, for as long as there have been Western people in these little mountains. Farriers, tinkers, and all. A little place down the valley a bit from me still holds classes on it, along with handicrafts and suchlike. Decent money to be made teaching those classes I believe, and they’re all focused on practical things. Makes me a bit proud of my fellow non-curmudgeonly neighbors, that.

  30. On a related note, if you are a maker (aren’t we all?) check your sources. I noted the local Michael’s yarn department has shrunk at the same time they were having a special on yarn they don’t normally carry. I think I’m moving even farther into, “If they have it, I’m getting some while the getting is good,” mode.

    1. For the last three moves I’ve hauled along at least fifteen big boxes of yarn, mostly orlon, that I accumulated way back when I was crocheting afghans. Each box holds enough skeins to make at least one large afghan, including some fancy ones. I also have two boxes filled with crochet books and patterns. I am now living in a house where I can look forward to relaxing on my comfy sofa with yarn and hooks, while the snow outside is refusing to melt. I just need to find the boxes with the books first. Somewhere in the stacks in the living room, I think? Maybe?

      1. A friend lived near a Woolworth’s back when there was Woolworth’s. When it closed, she basically bought out the fabric/yarn department. Her attic was full of boxes. When she wanted to start a project, she went upstairs and pulled a pattern and yarn out of the boxes and started work. It was impressive.
        Although the silver, black and blue pantsuit she made for me was a bit eye-searing.

      2. yeah. Supposing the house sale goes through, I’m looking for someone to build shelves all around the living room so I can get my books out. Part of this is that it’s my tools of the trade, right? BUT part is that it’s also craft, and cooking, and….

  31. This post must have been spiritually coordinated with Powerline’s TWIP today.
    ‘Yeah, so, I took packed and irregular trains to school, but I didn’t walk both ways. (Dad never tried to claim he did so in snow. Let’s be grateful for that, because given the rate of snowing in Portugal, I wouldn’t have believed him.)”
    https://i1.wp.com/www.powerlineblog.com/ed-assets/2022/01/tumblr_2ae643d10b83380667e832745e1be3af_2e4918a3_1280.jpg?w=607&ssl=1

      1. And yet, there’s a market for it. If you’re required to wear a mask for your job, and can’t for whatever reason, *leave* said job, and they don’t put anymore requirements on you than “mask up,” you’ve an option that’s about as subtle a “Eff You” as it gets.

        My reaction would be far less subtle, but that’s just me.

    1. They used to advertise on Gab, but I couldn’t find an ad for one last week. Oregon’s “Health” Authority is making the indoor mask requirement permanent “until we say it’s over”, and if they have enough suicidal* Official Mask Karens to try to enforce the mandate over here, I’d use that. I can barely tolerate the blue masks, and it’s slightly better with the desperado bandana, but masks and I do not get along. Their numbers for airflow look promising.

      (*) You think I’m kidding? Want to see a bunch of pissed off rednecks in the middle of nowhere?

      1. I’ve seen this ad before. But don’t remember where.

        Had my you-are-65-female bone density scan yesterday. Had to wear a *mask. I had to move it off my nose when I laid down. 100% cut off airflow in. Worse than when shopping. Where, while I don’t do the chin defiant method, one does have to look really close to see whether I actually have the mask over my nose or not (though the glasses not fogging might be a clue …). I can’t breath. It is getting worse.

        So yes, given HRH Brown and company have made Oregon’s mask requirement permanent until fifth of never, I may have to look into these or similar.

        * Did surprise me they didn’t require a new disposable medical blue or black mask that most medical facilities are now requiring.

        1. I have the impression that *some* of the medical people are getting as tired of the ever-shifting goalposts and mandates as we are. I saw lots-o-medical last year and was only chided *once* for not covering the nose. That was by the intake clerk at the doctor’s office, and the actual medical people I saw (CMA, then a PA) didn’t notice or care.

          Other offices, no enforcement of masking in the lobby. (It gets pretty ironic at the dentist’s…)

  32. …and electing horses to congress (I think in America we’ve been doing that all along, too.

    I’ll have you know, Rabbit Hash, KY elected a DOG as its Mayor, not a horse!

    So there. Hmph. 🙂

        1. Carlos the Cat for Town Administrator. Various farm animals/pets for the board. Hey, if they can’t read, they can’t pass any new laws, regulations, or taxes, right?

  33. Democratic Party leadership doubling down on declaring that anyone who disagrees with them is an “enemy of the state”; today Clyburn declared that ANYONE at the Capitol on J6, even those who never entered the building and peaceably waved flags and signs outside the building, are “domestic enemies” who are no different than Al-Qaeda and therefore should be treated as such.

    They really do want to go full Stalin/Mao on political opposition. Even being too stupid and incompetent to succeed, they can do a lot of damage on their way down.

      1. The very same leftists who spent decades denouncing the FBI (and CIA) as being “tools of authoritarianism” who routinely entrapped and targeted leftists for their political views are now denouncing criticism of the FBI, such as questioning its role on J6, as “conspiracy theories” and asserting that we must absolutely trust the FBI as a “defender of democracy”.

          1. Yes and but.

            One of the fundamental problems here is taking someone with an absolutely unhinged theory of institutional corruption and evil, and then letting them be a part of administering that institution.

            The law faculty taking this ‘systemic racism of law enforcement and the formal legal system’ stuff at face value are busily trying to fix that by behaving in corrupt ways that may fundamentally compromise the formal legal system.

            Basically, wherever we have had religious communists, they conclude that status quo institutions are flawed and evil, because they are not being run into the ground via totalitarianism led by a crazed murderous liar. They ignore duty as agents to principles, because the fruits of that theory are evil in their eyes. Fear of being caught and punished is the only thing that keeps them from squandering money, reputation or power trusted in them.

            When they think they no longer have reason to fear, they stop pretending.

    1. They want a Reichstag Fire. They want a half-cocked, more or less controlled insurrection that can be defeated piecemeal. In fairness, it’s their best chance, even if it isn’t a good one.

      Consider: If you were the Left, and abject unconditional surrender that meant giving up politics forever was not an option, then what would your best move be?

      1. *nod*
        The “militia” storyline worked so well for them– at least, everywhere that they saw anything!– that surely it will work even if they’re literally copying the Nazi playbook and staging their own purge-the-inconvenient event.

        1. Considering that their ideology is essentially racial identity group socialism, is it any surprise they are following the playbook of the original racial group socialists.

          1. I object for the same reason I objected to the Nazi Planet on Star Trek.

            Not because it would never happen, but because plotters should be smarter than that.

    2. Well, *there’s* one way to try to CYA when the Rs dig enough to identify the actual attempted violent overthrow stuff I’ve started to suspect… wonder how many of their AntiFa type lackeys are getting worried and starting to preserve evidence to buy out of charges?

  34. Decadent is the tres-leches cake I had after supper last night. Having a large selection in the grocery store, and books delivered on demand to an e-reader, is not decadence.

    I do agree with the other commenters that whining about people having too much selection in the grocery store, or having too many cheap clothes and too much cheap transportation, is decadence.

    1. The variety that comes from a lack of central planning is /not/ decadence, or wasteful. It is a mechanism for accommodating the wants or /needs/ of more people than just a single whiner.

      1. It is also far, far more efficient– frequently, I am perfectly happy to use mechanically butchered chicken. Sometimes, I want a rotisserie chicken, or chicken nuggets, or “just some blanking protein.”

        Letting people *offer* stuff based on what they think is worth the effort– available for folks who judge it as worth the effort to them– prevents waste.

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