That Old Rusty Future

In Kate Paulk’s Con Vampire series, she has the forces of evil gather at science fiction conventions.

Now, part of that is necessity of the set up. Her character is a vampire who hangs out at science fiction conventions because there really is no natural light inside the hotels, as long as he’s careful, and it beats sleeping all day and wandering the empty streets at night.

So, of course, the big bad will also have to be at the cons.

But she has a good explanation nonetheless (because she is a good writer.) And that is that SF in particular gathers most of the Odds and that the Odds dream the future for the normal people who can’t conceptualize it, and you break the back of the optimists in the world.

Now, if this were true, she’d be 30 years too late, at least. At that, it’s got better with indie, and of course, Baen was always a haven of relatively sane science fiction.

I don’t know about you but I remember screaming something like “I’m so tired of rusty futures” in the late 80s.

Of course, by the nineties, I was getting it both directions: the books I bought all assumed dire post-apocalypse or dystopia ahead. And the writers’ groups were even sillier. People were writing characters in 2010 having to continuously wear masks outside because of the pollution. And meanwhile I was screaming “WHAT POLLUTION? Y’all are way cleaner than Europe.”

Or it was 20 years in the future and everyone was living under underpasses and only owned a shirt. I kept looking back and trying to figure out when the bomb had hit EVERYWHERE, because dudes, even if we have a major crash ahead — and we do — our material wealth isn’t going to VANISH.

You’re not going to be in the situation I was in, as a kid, where our family owned ONE SHARP KNIFE. It had been sharpened so often it was almost as thin as paper, but mom used it for everything nonethless, because knives were EXPENSIVE.

You’re not going to be saving pins and needles like gold, and owning a limited number, because most of us have thousands in the house. We could subdivide twice and it still wouldn’t be scarce.

You’re not going to have people living in used container boxes. Not unless they want to. Because I don’t care what they told you, but there isn’t a massive overpopulation crisis that will require a bazillion new houses built faster than we can accommodate. Not for 20 years or so. In fact, with commercial buildings becoming less needed we’re more at risk for ghost towns.

And yet, a recent TV series had people in 2030 cramming two to a shipping container.

You see, the problem is that Kate was right. Most people can’t project the future at all. Instead, they get the idea of what the future is from things they catch in the air, which in turn is things that Odds and Futurists (BIRM) think are coming, and which pervade Science Fiction.

(In trad pub, except Baen, they enforced this, too. Which is why I never sold science fiction elsewhere. “This can’t be the future. There’s no overpopulation.” “What about the depletion of resources? They’d all be poor” or “It can’t be set 500 years in the future. If there are still humans we won’t even look the same.”)

Anyway, so–

The crazy internationalist agenda, demanding we eat the bugs, trying to cram us into giant non-funtional megalopolises, wanting us to use electrical everything because “we’re running out of oil?”

This is the science fiction of the seventies and eighties coming through. And because it was based on a bunch of popular, very badly figured out “non-fiction” they piously believe we have too many people, and we’re running out of everything, and they want us to live the future they were promised.

I suggest you hoist middle fingers aloft, and give it to them good and hard.

They were sold a lie! The future is more prosperous than they can dream.

We’re Americans. We come from the future, and we’re going back there.

Yeah, yeah there’s going to be a little inconvenient contraction for a little while, and we might have to eat the bread the devil kneaded for a couple/ten years.

But in the end, America will be prosperous again. And we’re going to the stars. If nothing else to spite everyone who doesn’t want us to. Because we’re G-d’s own bastard children, and we don’t recognize the authority of these so called experts.

We can dream our own futures, thank you so much. And we’re going to dream they bright and shiny and prosperous.

Let’s leave the rust in the past and embrace the amazing future.

Ad Astra per Aspera!

Let’s go.

317 thoughts on “That Old Rusty Future

  1. What’s “interesting” is that those “old rusty futures” are mainly written by the Leftish authors.

    They can’t even imagine a “Bright Future” based on “Their Glorious Ideals”. 😆

    1. The change seems to have happened in the late ’70s. Look at Star Trek, it used lots of name sci-fi authors but the future there was one of plenty, such plenty that money was gone (ok that is just nonsense, but still ?!?). Although admittedly writing for Trek you were constrained by the show bible (so no drug addicts on the Enterprise, sorry Harlan). Even Star Trek has an over population theme in at least one show “The Mark of Gideon” that has overpopulation involved (although it’s third season and the quality of third season episodes runs from Meh to tear my eyes out I never needed to see that). Not that there weren’t earlier examples, lots of fallen empires and such like (e.g. Foundation, LeGuins Hainish novels). Also plenty of post apocalyptic sci-fi although even in worlds with massive falls (A Canticle for Liebowitz) Humanity builds back over time (although then throws it away again). But the future in scifi starts to look grittier and grittier somewhere in the late 70’s. I kind of blame that on Bladerunner (although likely I have cause and effect mixed) and the gritty nasty techno worlds like Neuromancer and Gibson and his buddies take off. Certainly crap like “The Late Great Planet Earth” influenced this. Of course even decent authors from the 50’s and earlier bought into the Malthusian catastrophe, for example Heinlein with Farmer in the Sky and Tunnel in the Sky have worlds where there are population issues or calorie rationing.
      But indeed they got stuck and then would unstick (or let writers unstick) from the doom and gloom future.

      1. Aye, even the absolutely [CRAP]iest originaol Star Trek had HOPE. Things might be [MANURE] Sixteen Ways From Sunday, but TOMORROW was another day, and (to go all Quincy, M.E.) Maybe.. just MAYBE.. things would get BETTER. The way to bet? Short term, perhaps not. But long term? Evil ALWAYS LOSES. Good need only be smarter than evil, and evil is..well… REALLY EFFING STUPID*. So.. it ain’t hard.It’s so simple even slow ox can eventually work it out.

        How stupid? Let’s say you tell your females “Thou shalt NOT…” ( in the general case. there are some SPECIFICS where it is sensible PROTECTION – the future DEPENDS on them, thus are females not “weak” but VALUABLE) congratulations, you just THREW AWAY OVER HALF your available brainpower. Surrender NOW and just get it over with, losers.


        Your skin is the Wrong Color. Not QUITE as bad, but still EVIL. Even if only 10%, you just THREW AWAY 10% of your brainpower. SURRENDER NOW and just get it over with, LOSERS!


        The real SIN, the ender of societies, the killer of intelligent species, is throwing away brainpower – the one Great Advantage a (supposedly) intelligent has.

            1. I remember hearing a hypothesis once that humans evolved intelligence specifically to harness fire. All those calories in tree that we can’t eat, so the cavemen who figured out how to use them outcompeted the rest.

        1. It certainly may be there are earlier leadups. What are we counting as new wave? Brunner, Spinrad, Ellison, Delaney? Admittedly their futures are not pretty, but on average they’re still futuristic. I tried to read Stand on Zanzibar long ago and I vaguely remember overpopulation as part of its nature. and short term future things like Clockwork Orange often had horrific dystopias, but again so did other stuff, for example the Crazy Times in Starship Troopers feels as screwed up as the world of A Clockwork Orange. Certainly Brunner and Delaney never did it for me (Can’t think of a book by either that I ever finished). I think a lot of it is wanting to be accepted by the “real” literary society, rather than being happy just to rake in the green. Honestly that’s as I’m forming my reading tastes and that kind of stuff turned me off. It seemed like that as Cyberpunk took over that kind of scifi was all there was and there weren’t new folks in molds other than New Wave/ Cyberpunk. Although that may be because thats all big buplishing wanted to publish.

          1. I didn’t keep Stand on Zanzibar, but for a better Brunner, go find Timescoop. He had fun with that one, and it shows.

            1. Recommendation taken, Timescoop is $1.99 on Kindle (I left paper over 10 years ago, though I persisting in keeping my 750+ paperbacks and hardbacks to the mild annoyance of my spouse 🙂 ). It’s in the reading queue. I think I tried Stand on Zanzibar in college (early 80’s) and found it annoying and there was plenty of other stuff I hadn’t read to fill my limited spare time.

              1. My spouse has to put up with 4,000 SF and another 8K of “other” books. So tell spouse to appreciate how few you have.

                I created a way to store more paperbacks in my office. The space above 6′ in the middle of rooms was unused. I built 3 tiered bookcases from wall to wall in the middle of the room. Double-sided, so very efficient. No hazard (as long as shorter than 6 feet). The ends are attached to studs in the wall. Tall people just have to duck. Space for 2,000 paperbacks in the air. A real mancave. That doesn’t count the thousands of books along the walls.

                My wife does wonder what will happen when Mordor West has an earthquake. I just tell her it will just shower paperbacks. They are alphabetized.

        1. True Evenstar but that was the common layman’s “scientific” opinion of the day (~1900) backed by observations of Giovanni Schiarparelli and enhanced and somewhat mythologized by Percival Lowell. It was also based in a common mistranslation of Schiaparelli’s canali as the false cognate canals (implying sentient intervention) rather the more correct channels (a natural feature).
          Of course almost all that visual observation was marred by that fact that both of these avid mars viewers were using ludicrous magnifications that yielded an exit pupil (size of the output image ) so small that they were picking up floaters and veins in their own eye/retina and interpreting them as surface features. Also doesn’t help that even in very STILL air (Like over Arizona at the turn of the last century) there is still a fair bit of turbulence in the air that at higher magnifications will turn what you are seeing to a squiggly fuzzy hash from time to time.
          Oddly the probes have made it clear that there very likely WAS flowing water on mars, though at that time trilobites were likely the highest form of life on Earth (And so far NO trilobite fossils have been found with telescopes 🙂 ).

    2. They tried in the USSR. Socialist Realism. They could sometimes manage in painting and sculpture, but stories?

      (And there was only so much Critical Realism allowed.)

        1. A bigger problem is that of conflict. I mean, you could do a good, even Usanian, story, on the painting “Wedding on Tomorrow Street” but that’s because in freedom, you can put real conflict in it, not Socialist Realistic conflict.

  2. I find it interesting that SF writers can’t often seem to imagine a future where things are sort of as they’ve been the past couple hundred years…either they are bleak and *punk and pessimistic or they are socialistic and almost creepy in their unbounded Utopianism (think Star Trek). But I guess writing about a future where people get up and go to work at the widget factory on Rigel VI or truck amongst the stars trying to make a living while dealing with the small stupidities of life isn’t “sci-fi” enough. I don’t know. Sadly writing fiction isn’t my thing.

    1. What was the comedy TV show of a Space Trucker who hauled garbage in his spaceship? Also a Dennis Hopper film where he was a Space Trucker (might have been the name)

        1. Yup Quark, with Cmdr Phicus (a plant like rational being) as second in command of the garbage scow. I think it was literally one short summer season maybe a dozen shows before canceled

      1. Yep, it was “Quark.” Richard Benjamin starred, with the crew featuring: the Landers sisters if you got them on, a hermaphrodite, a robot, and a sentient humanoid plant.

        1. Back then we only had CBS, NBC, and PBS, with snow for ABC via a UHF channel. Something else must have been on the parents liked better, as I recall only one or two shows.

    2. In “First Lensman, ” Smith had his protagonist annoyed at having been tricked into reading a new type of roadside advertisement. And later, making first contact with the highly civilized Regellians, he asks the driver of the “car,” about an opaque mound by the side of the road. The driver obligingly turns his attention to it….and it’s an advertisement. “Oh, so you ignore ads too while you’re driving.”
      He could write vaguely socislist/eugenically based cultures, but the Lensman universe assumed a culture basically similar to ours.

      1. Honestly we Rigellians still ignore our advertisements :-).

        Breaking the fourth wall the add First Lensman Samms saw on earth was for Smith Bros cough drops. Odd that they were STILL being manufactured after the USA is pretty beat down after the Nuclear war with the Russians in Triplanetary. Although I think Triplanetary was some serious retconning of a different story to create a prequel for the Lensman series. I don’t think I’ve seen a Smith Bros cough drop since I was a kid. Likely the default licorice flavor is far out of style with modern tastes.

    3. I think slice of life stories are under utilized.

      Having solid stories of the small town sheriff dealing with the sort of town drunks and idiot teenagers in love doing stupid things, and just the general stuff that they spent most of their life dealing with, means that when the gunslinger does show up, you can ramp the stakes up immediately.

      It’s not random townsperson #37 who’s having bad things happen; it someone the reader knows and has a connection with.

      And when that atc is done, you can go back to silly stuff, like that time the saloon fell over.

    4. Normal human interactions aren’t “sci-fi” enough…and yet in their estimation it is not only sci-fi enough, but required to endlessly recapitulate today’s dreary leftist social fixations, which are themselves recapitulations of ideas that proved morally bankrupt a century ago.

    5. Not only that they imagine people one hundred years from now will echo all their current social views.

      1. Why would properly educated proles give up the obviously true? Even nowadays the problem is that we do not educate ourselves.

    6. “I find it interesting that SF writers can’t often seem to imagine a future where things are sort of as they’ve been the past couple hundred years…”

      To the contrary, we can imagine it, but we just don’t write about it.
      For the same reason, Gulliver does not tell travel tales about what foreigners do in outlandish nations overseas which are the same as are done here in England.
      Our customers pay us for speculations and dreams about what might differ in the future. If nothing in your background involves worldbuilding, you are writing a mainstream fiction.

  3. Forgot to put on my previous comment…I think those authors, intentionally or otherwise, underestimate the inertia of a society. Things tend to change at a geological pace…until the earthquake happens and there is a sudden sharp shock. But in general societies evolve very slowly. Even with the incredible technology changes over the past 40-50 years, ours is still fairly recognizable to someone from 50 years ago. Not necessarily understandable, but recognizable.

    1. 5 bucks the author lived in NYC or similar anthill city, with no exposure to wide open spaces.

      1. Well, Asimov took a break from Galactic empires to write “The Caves of Steel”, set in a city which was obviously based on the contemporary NYC he knew well. 🙂

    2. May have been “Ready Player #1”

      Basically, everyone loved in stacked shipping containers that would frequently fall over and burn.

      Personally I just assumed that it was an area the crazies had taken over and successfully regulated everything else out of existence, and ended up with stack-a-prole instead of the promised utopia. On the other hand, I was also main lining Elder Scrolls lore theory at the time, and it is the literal definition of “unreliable narrator.” Retcons are actually part of that universe’s cannon. And that universe’s god of continuity is probably insane and suffering from multiple personality disorder.

        1. Nah, he’s too consistent.

          Akatosh has been disassembled, reassembled, and may have also been glued together from several other gods, or combines the aspect of temporal order and the end of all things into one bucket.

          And I imagine having the dwarves build a synthetic god, which has rewritten chunks of reality at least twice probably didn’t help at all…

          And I do love how all of this started off when someone asked which Daggerfall ending was cannon, and the devs answered “Yes.”

      1. IIRC, Ready Player One was supposed to take place in Columbus, Ohio. Which I guess was some kind of dig at Compuserve or something. Anyway, it was hilarious, because of course there are ridiculous amounts of office space and warehouses in Columbus and environs; but everybody lives in containers while… the evilcorp apparently makes sure the office buildings and warehouses are empty, because the Plucky Rebels end up doing something in some kind of empty warehouse.

        I liked the movie okay, but it was really dumb fun.

        1. The book was required freshman reading at Big University where I worked a few years ago. Deep and Significant Cultural Implications, you know. (eyeroll) 🙄

      2. Never quite understood the whole container thing – it is a much larger pain to convert them than to simply build new

        1. From what I’ve read it looks like the people pushing container housing are socialists of the same school of architecture that gave us Brutalism. Among other things they decried the use of “bourgeois” materials and themes.
          Converting a shipping container to housing fulfills both – it’s not using a thing that would be used in a normal house and when the conversion is done you can still see that it started out as a container.
          There’s also a theme of putting people into something designed to carry things, so it’s “transgressive”.

      3. Meanwhile leftists are trying to push living in stacked shipping containers as the “green future” that the non-ruling elite must all endure to “save the Earth”. The problem with the elites is they take the worst horrors of dystopian novels (or even novels that were intended as utopian but were actually dystopian) and treat them as examples to be emulated.

        1. An idea popped into my head earlier today, and I’ve been developing it some with the help of a designated Sounding Board. Basic pitch is as follows:

          Ahem. :movie announcer voice: “Framed for thought-crimes, a young woman must find a way to survive being abandoned by the unforgiving cult of Light, and learn whether she can learn to live in the tyrannical cult of Dark that claimed her. Will she find a home with the Blind, or the Enlightened? Or can she find a path between the extremes of Dark and Light?”

          Any thoughts? Suggestions on how to write a hopeful dystopia? (As I was going over my basic plot ideas, I realized that the main themes of this story are going to be Integrity, Courage, and Hope. My understanding of the Dystopia genre suggests that this is fairly rare.)

          1. Just finished Dean Koontz latest book. “Quicksilver.” One of the evil villains is known as “The Light”. So there is an evil “cult of Light”.

            There are great evils found in Koontz’ books, but he is also hopeful. Those fighting evil, have a chance to win. This is what I most enjoy about his books. Real heros, fighting real evil, with a chance to win. These are books of Hope. For dog lovers, they also have golden retrievers. They take place in a world very much like America today, with hidden evil just more obvious than what we see. There are real monsters in his books, but also good.

            This book is published by Thomas & Mercer. Another Amazon tentacle. Good using evil to speak truth?

  4. My state motto.

    Pioneers carved a future against hostile enemies with support only from each other, right here, only 150 years ago. We can do that again.

  5. At some point, some bright spark is going to convert that empty commercial space into housing.

    And it’ll probably still be empty.

    1. The loft-conversion was an early attempt at such. Flyover Falls has a bunch of unused commercial real estate, though some of the big box stores (K-Mart, a large discount furniture store) have been redone and/or cycled and stirred. The former K-Mart is now a large Farm & Ranch store, while the discount furniture store went bust, then became a marina/adult motor-toy store, and is once again a discount furniture store.

      Right now, larger empty stores are either sitting there or in some cases, getting subdivided into smaller stores. The old Safeway got chopped into an upscale grocery store, a yuppified sort-of gym (Planet Fitness) and a chain apparel store (TJ Max, I think). The Fred Meyer (Kroger grocery + department store) is renovating and cutting out the carpeted areas in favor of low maintenance surfaces that can be reconfigured at will. FWIW, they chopped out 2/3rds the space that the old furniture section used. Crap furniture, anyway, so no loss.

      Downtown FF is a bit gloomy; it didn’t help that when the local economy was starting to recover about 10 years ago (the town/county had a bunch of lumber mills and related industry, most have moved or folded), the landlords got greedy, thus prompting an exit to peripheral sites. Those have had ups and downs, but are fairly healthy.

      Flyover County was overwhelmed by not-completely rich Californians escaping Newsome’s Paradise (the richer ones went west of the Cascades), but that boom has faded, and the real estate market is a bit cooler. Still overpriced.

      1. One of the big malls in San Antonio got repurposed into Rackspace’s HQ. Another is now at least half office space and mini-convention center. A third was all but torn down and converted to an open-air shopping center. So there is scope for reusing commercial properties…

        1. Something similar happened in San Jose. A place (IIRC, “San Jose Live”) with multiple restaurants/bars, and a common space for gatherings got taken over for a server farm. I believe it was bought by AboveNet. No idea if it’s still around.

  6. We’re Americans. We come from the future, and we’re going back there

    We might have to re-invent half of the whole damned world, but we’ll FARKING DO IT. NOW, KINDLY GET OUT OF THE WAY!

    1. Amen! I just wish I was young enough to help with more than a cheering section; hell, to be even 50 again…

  7. Hope your right Sarah.

    Me, I’m in a black pilled mood the last day or so. I’d read that Ford Motor is transitioning over to only building electric autos.

    Got me thinking when did auto makers and other manufacturers stop making things that their customers want to buy and started instead only producing items the government mandates they own? You WILL have low flush toilets! You WILL have child seats of such and such dimensions! You WILL never ever drink non pasteurized milk!

    Socialism: a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community {GOVERNMENT} as a whole. (parenthesis, mine.)

    Seems to me we’ll all living in a socialist world that we let slowly, by bits and by pieces, creep up on us.

    Oh well, I’ll go do some wood work, put in a bit of ballistics practice, and be comforted by, paraphrasing Rick to Ilsa; We’ll always have the fifties.

    1. Ford will get over it. For they either follow the money, or they FAIL. And if they fail, something BETTER will GLEEFULLY step in. They might have to “fly below the RADAR” but they will BE THERE all the same.

      I will NOT say that the BIDEN(mal)Admistration is the last of the utter ratfinkery, but as a Great Man once said, it might be “the end of the beginning.”

      1. Maybe and I hope you’re right. None the less, do you want pressure sensors in each tire, for example? You got them want them or not if you buy a new vehicle. It’s mandated, meaning, want it or not, you got it and paid for it twice, first to pay the bureaucrats that tell the auto makers they must include them and to the auto makers for something you never asked for. Socialism keeps creeping on little rats feet so slow and quiet we never notice.

        Hum, I think I’ll fire up the forge. Pounding on white hot iron will probably be more helpful in getting me out of this mood than than making sawdust.

        1. I bought a 2006 Nissan Titan last February, and the pressure sensor light has been on ever since. Turns out three out of the four sensors have dead batteries, but it would be $500 or so to take off the wheels and tires and replace them. So the guy at the body shop I had fixing an electrical problem told me just to ignore it until I needed new tires (in several years). So I have a mandatory pressure sensor, but it doesn’t work with a constant false negative, and nobody cares.

          1. See next year’s model — it won’t start if the tire pressures are not all ‘green’.

            Putting a battery powered device where it’s not accessible is stuck-on-stupid.
            The government can mandate stupidity, but they can’t make it not be stupid.

          2. We had a 2006 Toyota Tacoma with pressure sensors. But we upgraded the wheels (same tires, just fancy wheels). But the senors wouldn’t fit with the new wheel/tire combination. So the system always said senors were screwy (duh!!!). We did figure out how to “shut it up” for relatively long periods, but not forever. We upgraded to a 2010 Chevy because with the new trailer, hubby wasn’t happy with our tow overall weight safety margins, and the automatic drive options. Especially since we were often towing over passes with 8% and 10% grades (most are 6%, don’t think we’ve seen any over 10%, at least where tows are allowed).

          3. The TPMS caught a slow leak for me once. (Ran over a chunk of plywood with a staple sticking up. Didn’t trigger the sensor for a few days.)

            The Subie wants a dealership fixit to swap sensors, so the winter tires have no sensor and I deal with the light. The newer (’19) Honda automagically deals with a different sensor, and I’ve grown to like that setup.

            1. TPMS caught a slow leak

              Same. Both for my Santa Fe and son’s Veloster. Only in each case wasn’t a slow leak, was a sudden “faster than slow” leak (not there in the morning, there in the evening). In my case was able to get car to Schwab Tires before had to deploy the “pretend” tire (nail or screw). Son’s case, his work has an air compressor, and he had to stop on the way to Schwab to get more air (screw). But he needed a new tire (too close to something to fix). Luckily, for reasons, we had a “spare” to run down to him. Schwab stayed open to get the new wheel on for him.

            2. Same here, sensors alerted me to a leak, finally found a nail in the tire and took it to get fixed before it became a “need a new tire” situation.

              My last Subie (BRZ) I had bought winter tires and wheels for, with their own TPMS which led to some…
              Interesting technical issues when I’d have the dealership swap out the wheels during an oil change (plus, they stored the wheels for me at no charge.) If they didn’t take the wheels that were being removed far enough away, the system would pick up both sets of sensors and start reporting whacky pressures.
              Took a couple visits to the dealer and a loaner car for a couple days for them to figure it out.

      2. Goal is to de-Americanize and downsize our ability to make motor vehicles, thus our ability to make war.

        Can’t have a modern mechanized heavy division without lots of diesel burning internal combustion engine vehicles. ( well, JP8, but it’s all in the diesel/kerosene family) Can’t fight a major sustained war with a peer opponent if you can’t replace all the busted tracks and trucks.

        ICE and chips are the stuff of war.

        Oh and the DoD went to a “green” eco-friendly Tungsten-based bullet for rifles, replacing lead. They work quite well, actually, prediming properly made. However, the USA produces almost no tungsten.

        1. If you are going from lead to tungsten for a bullet any language about being “eco friendly” is nice sounding lies for the press and any other idiots to lap up.

          There is one and only one reason you use tungsten bullets: because you want increased armor penetration.

          1. Unless they’re jacketed, those things are going to be murder on gun barrels. Wonder how many replacements the military geniuses have on order.

        2. > “Goal is to de-Americanize and downsize our ability to make motor vehicles, thus our ability to make war.”

          Speaking of crippling our ability to make war, I found this via The Blogger Who Shall Not Be Named:

          I haven’t seen anything about this anywhere else yet, though. Is this real?

          1. The Reader doesn’t have any current information but wouldn’t be surprised. By the time he retired from the Great Big Defense Contractor, production capacity for everything had fallen dramatically, and surge capacity was non existent. One example – a few months before the Reader retired a program manager was in his office complaining about how hard it was going to be to to produce 12 JSF radars / month. The Reader looked at him disdainfully and noted that during the Reagan years the same factory and a well managed supply chain delivered 50 – 60 F16 radars / month. The rest of the industry has the same problem. In the 80’s missiles were produced at rates of several hundred per month; now 50 per month is a ‘full rate production’ quantity. And while the prime contractor has to demonstrate some level of surge capacity for weapons, it is vapor in the contractor’s supply chain.

          2. Nothing confirmed, but I saw a couple of posts from people “allegedly in the know” that Special Forces operators are grumbling that their Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifles are being taken and sent to Ukraine. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because the Carl G is a very old weapons system (been around in one form or another since the ’50s I think) and not exactly high-tech, but still a fairly effective anti-armor and anti-bunker weapon. So I don’t know if that story is real or BS.

            1. I’d guess half-truth, there’s two ways we send military aid– send over the stuff we’re replacing, or send them money to buy stuff from us.

              People always complain when the thing they’re use to gets replaced, even if they usually complain about it. 😀

              1. > “People always complain when the thing they’re use to gets replaced”


                Assuming it’s real in the first place, that would explain why we’re not hearing much louder howls of outrage over this.

                I was actually wondering if Biden is stupid enough to disarm the troops at the same time he’s fearing armed rebellion. It’s sad that I couldn’t just rule it out.

              1. Interestingly there might be something to it…despite the fact it was invented by the Swedes in 1946, the latest version of the Carl Gustaf is actually built specifically for US Special Forces–SEALS, Rangers, etc. They used it less against anything armored, and more for shooting at Talibunnies that were shooting RPGs at them from out of the range of their rifles. It’s also relatively cheap and simple. Now why the Ukrainians just couldn’t call Sweden and get them new off the showroom floor instead of getting them “gently used” from us, who knows.

      3. Given that the raw materials simply do not exist to build the volume of electric cars they would need to build to have sufficient sales to remain a viable company, they will either have to change course when reality hits them over the head or go under. The Democrats of course hope they go under, because their real goal is to end private vehicle ownership entirely and make people wholly dependent on the government to go anywhere.

        1. Horses in the backyard … That’ll make ’em happy … Okay, it’ll make me happy … they can go take a long leap off a short pier (NY or SF, either works, sharks have to eat too).

    2. Sadly Dodge has gone the same way. No more Charger or Challenger after the 2023 model year so they can concentrate on ewectwic. Which I find sad considering that they’ve been on a roll the past few years with “can we put a Hellcat Hemi in THAT? How about THIS? Will it go in the minivan? 707-horsepower soccermommobile?”

    3. The Reader thinks that will not end well for Ford’s shareholders.

      The only auto maker not parroting the green party line right now is Toyota. Which is why they will get the Reader’s business in a few years when he need another vehicle. The F150 he got last year was in part a middle finger to the greens.

            1. Having had an Outback for 9 years, the Reader thinks that the CVT is subject to some unfair abuse. However, he wants the entire RAV-4 power train which includes the Power Split Transmission.

              The Reader notes the deserved abuse of the virtue signaling Pious owners above and finds it amusing that one of the finest examples of engineering and continuous improvement in the last 20 years is associated with the technology hating tree huggers. Toyota has continually improved the system, both in efficiency, reliability and cost, to the point that their hybrids actually make economic sense. Of course, now that we reached that point, the tree huggers don’t want hybrids, they want their EV unicorns.

              1. having an Outback that currently needs the transmission rebuilt, and having read the owners manual where it says the CVT is a sealed system that requires no service, and that Subaru has extended the warranties on said CVTs to 100,000 milles because of known failure problems, and that Subaru won’t release a rebuild procedure officially so that many local transmission shops think they can’t be rebuilt, I beg to differ.

                1. We sold our Sonota. The new owner transferred over the 100k bumper to bumper mileage warranty contract over. Right now it is service for a brand new motor on a recall item that replaces the motor if it fails. He might get it back in 3 or 4 months … Had a temp vehicle from the dealership. Not that he needs it. He collects and restores Corvettes. He has a few derivable ones.

      1. Reportedly the all-electric F150 can only tow a medium-sized trailer for 100 miles before running out of charge. /eyeroll

        I can see an electric truck being good for a contractor who only drives around the city, only needs to haul a medium amount of stuff, and maybe wants to plug in a power tool without needing a separate generator. For anyone else, nada.

          1. The want to eliminate just ours.

            Watch the “foreign” brands be encouraged to leave.

          2. Your close, they don’t mind if the car companies stay in business as long as they obey and restrict our ability to move freely. None of it’s about climate, None of it’s really about the Bad Chinese Cold. For Buck Finen, et al, worldwide, it’s all about control.

          3. Sure. Read the full version of Agenda 2030, of you can find it. The elites intend to have the masses in easily controllable population blocks, with all amenities within walking distance. No private transportation, and all lands outside those cities government owned. No private property ownership. All food production by gov’t run conglomerates. It also explains the war on small scale food production.

              1. I don’t think they’ll succeed, but the move to eliminate gas cars, and also destroy the infrastructure that could support EV’s, fits in with this goal.

                1. One way or another, I doubt they’ll stay in power long enough. And with luck this will be a lame duck presidency come January.

                2. Speaking of which, Herr Gauleiter Inslee of Washington Prefecture has decided that whatever California does is great and will be working to prohibit sales of non-electric vehicles by 2035.


                  I don’t think it’s going to work, but if it does then I foresee a lot of dealerships just over the Idaho border.

                  Note that Inslee still hasn’t given up his Covid emergency powers, and the Reichstag Legislature appears to be just fine with letting him have those powers forever.

                  1. Dealerships in Idaho for both Washington and Oregon. Can’t register them in either state? No problem, they’ll be registered in Idaho with PO Box addresses in Idaho, with registration being forwarded. As long as the bribe toll Washington vehicle sales tax, Oregon vehicle sales tax (sorry) dealer fee are paid, what’s to complain about? /sarcasm off.

        1. Not in our area. Half the contractor job sites are 50+ miles from the city center. A nontrivial amount are considerably further than that.

          1. Yes, but you live in teeny tiny Flyover Falls, not e.g. Austin or Tacoma or Sacramento. I said “city” on purpose. 🙂

            1. And yet, if you work in “Sacramento”, the chance of you having a job site 50+ miles away is not inconsiderable. Even while keeping within urban levels of construction, at least if you’re taking 80 or 50.

              Which is why the electric vehicle mandate is stupid, not even bringing into account any number of wilderness places which do not and will not have charging ability. So sorry, you want to go to summer camp? No can do, they’re off the grid and your car will die.

              1. want to go to summer camp

                Or use the national park campgrounds. We know the battery ability to drain in trailers, and we’re conservative as possible using it. Won’t say electric vehicles can’t tour the national parks. Most park gateway communities have commercial vehicle power chargers; some, not a lot. Yellowstone even has one or two in the park (Mammoth and Yellowstone Lodge areas). There is exactly ONE campground with power connections for RV’s inside the park. Yosemite, Rainer, Olympia, Glacier, Arches, Brice, etc., do not have any inside the park (outside, yes, inside, no).

                1. They don’t want you taking tours of the national parks because they don’t want you in the national parks. I remember back in the ’90s when the greens were talking about turning most of the Western US into unspoiled wilderness where humans weren’t allowed. And I’m not talking “get rid of all of the little communities, etc…, and turn it all into nature trails”. I mean literally no humans would be allowed to even visit most of the Western US.

                  Screwing up your ability to tour the national parks would be a feature for them, and not a bug.

                  1. Tell me about it.

                    Timed Entries: Glacier Highway to the Sun, Yosemite, Arches, Zion, Rocky, (almost) Yellowstone, and these are only in the West. There are others in the East and South. Now to be fair, both Arches and Zion have one way in and one way out, which means any tie ups on the road, there are no alternatives. Highway to the Sun at least if there is a problem on the road, one can (in theory) turn around and go back out.

                    Zion and Arches did go to timed entry because they’d end up cutting off entry fairly early in the AM because enough vehicles in the park to plug every parking spot. Rocky, Glacier, Yosemite, all went to timed entry because of the pandemic. Not seeing any letup. However there is a work around for all of the timed entry. Go in before or after the timed entry hours. Can’t go out and back in. But gets one in the park. Some of them this means before 6 AM (Bear Lake corridor Rocky, Highway to the Sun).

                    Yellowstone didn’t have timed entry until this early summer’s flooding (flood damage was extensive, especially in the North). Timed entry has been dispensed with now, except Tower to Salt Flat and it is only open 8 AM – 5 PM, otherwise gate is closed. Expected to open fully for traffic to entire Lamar Valley and northeast entrance by Oct 15, or by the time Beartooth Pass has to close again. Has to, that is the only winter access Silver Creek and Cooke City Montana have in the winter. For awhile only the southern loop was open. Now northwest entrance from Gardiner to Mammoth is closed, except for guides, and they are coming in on the historical old road (we’ve driven it, very rough), and the northeastern entrance through Cooke City/Silvergate to northeast entrance is also closed. There are a number of road washouts between Gardiner and Mammoth. Plus two major road washouts between Tower and northeast entrance. First one at Salt Flats. Washouts as in the road is not just undermined or has debris from slides on it, the road is gone. Otherwise both loops are now open.

                    FYI. Timed Entries are a PIA. Doable. We’ve done it for Rocky, Fall 2021, for Bear Lake Corridor. Ended up with the 6 AM – 8 AM slot. The others slipped away fast (the ones released the day before). Worked out best as turns out that is when hubby wanted to be there for the light. Still a PIA. Had to be back at the hotel on the WiFi, logged into the recreation (dot) gov Rocky timed entry site at 5 PM, ready to start clicking. Slots GONE by 5:05 PM. We had planned on 5 days at Rocky. Only dealt with time entries one day (did not want to deal with Bear Lake corridor without one). We also left two days early because of the timed entry.

                    1. “Had to be back at the hotel on the WiFi, logged into the recreation (dot) gov Rocky timed entry site at 5 PM, ready to start clicking. Slots GONE by 5:05 PM. ”

                      So, good training for Libertycon registration….

              2. The car will die? Hell, the GRID will die. None of it was set up to handle that kind of load, and the greenies are actively hindering the massive infrastructure upgrades and additional reliable generation capacity it’d take to make the electrification dream possible.

                1. And for their next trick, they’re going to reduce the population. No problem! /sarc

                  (Never mind that the people who keep the grid running are those slated to be eliminated.)

                  It’s amazing how many of the people who publicly advocate a 80-90% reduction in population think that they’ll be part of the 10-20% who don’t get reduced.

              3. I am waiting for when they have to clean up after the next big earthquake and there are no working power plants to charge all their electric vehicles.

            2. I’m not sure it would work in NYC either. Leaving aside traffic, contractors in Manhattan will often be coming in from a fair distance away.

              I know a fair few people who both drive to work and drive Teslas. They don’t drive their Teslas to work. I’m in easy commute to NYC, about 40 miles to midtown.

              FWIW, I take the train and have for years — that’s why we bought this house, I can walk to the train — tolls are over $40 now. F’ing ridiculous.

            3. A contractor in Austin isn’t getting far in an Electric F150. Bro-in-law is a Contractor in DFW, and just restricting himself to the southwest portion I know of jobs he’s had being 80 miles apart. Austin’s build-up is not really in Austin, and while not quite the spread of DFW, still is easy to have work well over 50 miles apart.

        2. LOL. Just makes older pickups more valuable. Keep seeing our 1993 (purchased 1992) 3500/450 HP long box Chevy pickup around town (same plates, and they are plates that are EASY to remember). It is owned by yard maintenance company/individual now. It has to have well over 200k miles on it. (We sold it because hubby didn’t feel it was putting out the power needed when carrying the camper, then towing, that it should have had. Still, we kept it for 6 years. But the owners since didn’t have either requirement.)

          1. That isn’t sustainable. In five years they are the toys of the rich. You won’t be able to afford to insure them, or repair them.

            And you are assuming they dont tax/regulate you out of them.

      2. Toyota might be ordered by their government to put on the cap of shame and apologize for their wrong think. From a greenie news site; “… that many major car markets are planning to reduce or eliminate the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles some time in the 2030s. This will be necessary to meet international climate targets which Japan itself have committed to.

        And if Japan doesn’t match these targets, the risk to Japanese industry, and thus the Japanese economy, is large. The report notes that Japan, already reliant on auto manufacturing for almost a fifth of its exports, could risk losing half of those automotive exports leading to the loss of 1.72 million jobs and $6 billion in automotive profits through 2040 and resulting in a 14% drop in GDP.”

        Our masters have spoken, we must obey!

        1. then one small country willing to say “sod off” suddenly becoming home to companies. Ireland has some corporate HQ’s because they went low tax on such. Sure, The company is thought as Swiss, or US, but HQ is in Cork, and they pay lower taxes there than when they were based in Pa, or WI, or Mi.

                1. They are mocked constantly. They smile patiently, knowing that their return is nigh.

              1. As of a few years ago, downtown Vancouver has zero gas stations. I am just waiting for someone to run out of gas while trying to find parking (also almost nonexistent) and cause the biggest traffic snarl ever.

                I’ll make popcorn.

      3. In Ford’s case, if they run out of money they can always ask the government for another bailout – the precedent has been set after all.

        1. Ford “opted out” of the ’08 bailouts because they didn’t like the Gov’t demands, but did get some relief from other stuff done to try and alleviate the issue

          1. IIRC they tried to opt out, but were told “You will take the bailout, because otherwise it looks bad.”

            1. They had some assist in the supply chain side (as the others used a few of the same) but they didn’t get the Dodge or GM “You will make what we tell you, close These (Republican donor primarily, though some left leaning, minority owned, but not big enough or wrong leftwing candidate donations) Dealerships, or else” treatment, and tossed the money back. The family wasn’t going to give up that much control, though like Walmart, the latest generation isn’t always the brightest.

  8. No need to eat bugs. If there’s ever a truly dire protein shortage, I plan to eat the self-anointed global experts instead. It’d be a win on multiple fronts. Real meat, better tasting, AND it’d cull the lizard people.

      1. Yeah, they’re too quiet and you can’t hear them coming until they run you over.

        Oh, priON. Not Prius.


        Never mind.

        1. raises right paw My hand to Bog, I really did see the Toyota Pius edition. It was covered in Hillary! and Biden! and Save the Earth and rainbow-LGBTEIEIO stickers. And drove like the person in the left front seat was seeing music and hearing flavors. With an Oregon plate, so I assume Portlandia.

          1. Anywhere west of the Cascades, alas. The People’s Republic of Ashland is as bad, though there are pockets of sanity, like Medford and the industrial towns nearby.

            Over here, you get rednecks driving Foresters and Outbacks. (Raises hand.)

      2. Eating brains is always a bad idea. Worse if it’s a leftist’s, because those stupid ideas are contagious enough already. Remove head and spine, burn in giant fire. Use the remainder for any suitable purpose.

          1. As long as you don’t start fantasizing about using number-3 utility arm to solve interpersonal problems. 😛

            Leftroid brain commonly found lodged in rectum.

  9. Babylon 5 wasn’t terribly rusty. Overall, really, it seemed pretty consistent with today – just with people who were more interestingly wacky-looking than our current wacky-looking people.

    1. My problem with B5 is that you had to be in on from the start as the ‘arc; was the thing. I did try once or twice and my take on the B5 version of ‘dark’ was… “Can’t you guy turn on a damned light already?”

      And, yes, I know, Mr. KEROSENE is saying that. Kinda telling, innit?

          1. Ah, the mathematician’s answer. Your restraint is appreciated!

            And I can imagine how some episodes might be hard to really see. I have the same objection to the last three Harry Potter movies.

            1. They have remastered the original episodes with better video tech and that may address some of the iossues.

          2. Ah, the mathematician’s answer. Your restraint is appreciated!

            And I can imagine how some episodes might be hard to really see. I have the same objection to the last three Harry Potter movies.

            1. El, I notice you’re double-posting a lot. Something wrong over there?

              If you’re worried about your comments not showing up immediately, don’t be. That’s fairly normal for WP. Just give it 5-10 minutes and check again; your post will almost always have shown up by that point.

              1. Yeah, sorry about that. It’s partly that I worry about whether or not it worked (thanks for the advice in that regard), and partly that I’m working on a laptop without a mouse. (Buying new things bites into my bank account, and not having a job at the moment, I don’t like that.) Mouse-pads are annoying and kind of finicky, so I end up clicking something twice by accident.

    2. I loved Babylon 5 when it first ran. Agree with you, it had it’s dirty/rusty elements, but the overall tone of the show was more hopeful than hopeless imho. More than anything it felt to me like the everyday world extrapolated into the future, both the bad parts and the good parts.

      1. And a couple of the best lines ever:
        “They were the bad guys. We were the good guys. And they made a most satisfying THUMP when they hit the floor.”, and
        “No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow.”

        1. And then there is this:
          Vir Cotto: I thought the purpose of filing these reports was to provide accurate intelligence!
          Mollari: Vir, intelligence has nothing to do with politics!

          1. Londo is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic, in so many ways. Comic relief in the first season, dry and worldly cynic in others, and by the end he’s one of the – if not THE – greatest tragic figures in all of television.

            1. Londo’s actor has a way of delivering comedic lines that just works.

              “And then, there is you. Somehow, you have managed to pass through the corridors of power and remain untouched. I can only assume you have not been PAYING ATTENTION.

              1. “Ah, arrogance and stupidity, all in the same package. How efficient of you.”

                “Is there anyone along our borders with whom we are not currently at war? Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom Of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts!”

                “What do you want, you moon-faced assassin of joy?”

                “Because I have asked you. Because your loyalty to our people should be greater than your ambition. And, because I have poisoned your drink.”

                “When I said my quarters were cold, I did not mean, ‘Oh, I think it’s a little chilly in here, perhaps I’ll throw a blanket on the bed.’ No, I said it was cold, as in ‘Oh, my left arm has snapped off like an icicle and shattered on the floor!'”

                Mollari: “Everyone is cute! But in purple, I’m stunning!
                Vir: “Ah! He has become one with his inner self!”
                Garibaldi: “He’s passed out.”
                Vir: “That too.”

                1. “Do you think I married them for their personalities?!? Their personalities could SHATTER entire planets!”

                  “Because with you, I will always know where I stand.”

        2. The Arthur episode is one of my family’s absolute favorites. Stars, the music theme for His Majesty is amazing. And the interaction with G’Kar is just lovely, and so much fun in the middle of all the seriousness.

      2. I’ve got so many favorite episodes, favorite scenes, favorite quotes…why don’t I just save time and post the whole series.

        Don’t forget the scene with Londo and G’Kar stuck in an elevator after a terrorist bombing.

        G’Kar: “I get to watch you die, and I don’t have to do anything! I find the prospect most appealing.”

  10. Good one. I agree that all our ‘wealth’ won’t immediately disappear if we have a big economic setback. All the people in my neighborhood can’t park their cars in their garages because their garages are stuffed with their stuff. We’re awash in stuff. But it’s the feelings and philosophies and rumors that are floating around that worry me. And I wrote a book called, Escape From the Future and Other Stories, so yeah, I’m worried about the future. (Did I tell you I was paranoid? No? Well, I am, and it has served me well) Anyway, I meet young people and they think people my age are either closet Nazis or senile fools who Fox News and Mitch McConnell has scared to death; as if these young pups have all the ‘knowledge’ and their parents and grandparents are the ignorant fools. So that worries me, worries me about ‘their’ future, not mine. What good is an abundance of stuff if you have an emptiness inside because you’re no longer in control of your own life? Yes, as we all know, people in the Soviet Union lived their lives, not to their fullest, but sort of half lies, because they could never really say what they thought except at home to a few chosen loved ones. And they could never achieve what they’d be able to achieve under a free society. And they had to lament and accept that their children would not either.

    This was a reality. Now it seems that a large chunk of America has decided that they would rather give up their freedoms for a steady supply of stuff, doled out by the gubmint in the form of welfare, but not called, welfare. And the Americans that find that repellent are sitting in their chairs because they’ve been told to not take action (that’s what the other side wants..), just make some popcorn and enjoy the unfolding. It’s gonna be awesome. Meanwhile, it seems like one side is busy building the camps and the other watching the skies for the ‘good guys and gals’ to drop down and win back their freedom. All of this makes my paranoid bone not only itch, but ache. By the way, in my Escape From the Future book, a family goes into a future, much like ours, to rescue the ‘grandpa,’ of the story. They find him and, despite their pleas, he ‘likes it,’ and doesn’t want to go back. They do. And they keep what they saw to themselves, but yes, they ‘do stuff’ to possibly change the course of time. So my book is not a total downer or anything like that. It’s more of a cautionary tale, actually, there are five tales.

    Anyway, back to our rusty future. I don’t fear the rust, BTW. Actually, I’m a lousy consumer (and I regret that most Americans are no longer citizens, but rather, consumers). Yes, I’m such a lousy consumer that if the entire country were like me the business sector would be 1/1000th of what it is now. I drive a 2009 truck, and live on a small pension and still manage to save money for the rainy days that my two adult children will surely face. So bring on the rust! I think we’re too much into material stuff. But bring back families too. The new glorious state that is arising is ‘not down’ with families. And bring back (or hold onto) ‘homes.’ The new glorious state ain’t down with them either and thinks we should all live in high rise ant heaps with families made up of strangers, freaks and perverts. And the kids that result are fair game. This awfulness is not just the ramblings of a paranoid old man. There are a lot of people out there in gubmint and schools, and corporations, who think this awfulness is gonna be just wonderful when they finally spring it on us… and we embrace it … or else!

    Well, now that I’ve unloaded all my worries and concerns, let me say that I have no clue how this is all going to pan out. I do what I can to open people’s eyes. I do what I can on the local political scene. I try and reason with neighbors and friends and siblings. And I pray. Have a great day!

  11. Even Jerry Pournelle’s CoDominion future was pretty rusty, with overpopulation and drugged-out welfare drones in their stackaprole housing.

    On the other hand, I don’t know if Jerry believed that was likely or if it was a necessary prerequisite to get his involuntary mass offworld colonization basis going.

    1. I’d go with “needed for larger plot to work.” And it made the motivations of characters trying to get out of that world a lot clearer and effective.

      1. Don’t forget that the CoDominium was “The US and USSR get together to keep the rest of the world down.”
        This would mean that the US and the USSR move toward each other, politically and economically. So you get the stratification in the States that was always present in the USSR – taxpayers (nomenklatura) vs. citizens (proles) and you get the “permit Raj” complete with bribes to do anything.
        Even Pournelle didn’t see just how fragile the Soviets were. I think we were holding their heads above water at least since we decided to come in on the Soviet side in 1941 (rather than letting both sides lose and cleaning up the one left standing).

        1. Without us subsidizing them they’d have gone out in under 20 years. This is why fearing eternal communism here is dopey. WHO is going to support us if we go commie? Yes, this is me, this dang thing doesn’t let me answer comments in this view, and the other comments are limited to a small number, and I’ve been busy and ARGH

  12. I’m an associate editor at a speculative e-zine, and I read two submissions just about every day to keep up with the slush pile. I have a gentle rejection letter which I use often, and occasionally I find a gem, which I send on to the senior editors. I am a filter.

    Many of the SF and horror stories assume that we’ll be a wasteland because of global warming. Because of course we are, we were supposed to see the end of snow by now, and just because the predictions don’t happen doesn’t mean they won’t happen soon. I try to read them without bias, because every once in a while a dystopian story has terrific characters and a sentient plot. But far too many simply assume what they’ve been told is going to happen, as if the future has been set.

    The future is not set. And we’re going to make it a great one.

    1. doesn’t mean they won’t happen soon

      Any day now! … Annnnnnnnnnnny day …

      — greenies

  13. Oh, and the future will have rusty bits. It will also have shiny bits. Must like the present. Much like the past. Much like all of human existence. In general, over the long term, the shiny will increaingly outweigh the rusty, much like it has doen through human history.

    Ad astra per adrua nostra (note: my understanding is that “per” for “through” means “something to pass through” rather then “something to use to get to…”; an obstacle to overcome rather than a path to travel): We will get through our difficulties and reach the stars.

    1. Shoot, healthy forests will have “rusty bits” in the form of downed trees becoming rotting logs. The canopy opens up in those spots.

  14. I gave up reading sci-fi for the better part of a decade, until Michael Flynn coaxed me back in.

    It wasn’t the rust. It wasn’t the overpopulation. It was the grey goo.
    There was no joy. No sense of wonder. No higher aspiration. No trying to touch some timeless truth. Just miserable characters being miserable in a miserable imaginary world.
    But without even committing to it! There are a ton of interesting things to do in crapsack worlds. Nihilistic ennui just isn’t one of them.

    1. Human Wave is the response to all that Grey Goo. Sarah and John C. Wright kick-started it, and it’s gone some really cool ways (Superversive is one of them.)

  15. Very interesting comments and input from our host. I’m as likely to be right as wrong but what the heck… Sure, we are in for some “tough” times but overall, and over time, it will be alright.

    Buzz Lightyear (please save us from Disney) did get one thing right: To Infinity and Beyond!

  16. There are container homes today. But not out of “necessity”, and certainly not (usually) a single container. Containers are considered “Ecologically Friendly” because Recycling other wise warehoused items. Oh, there are times where a single container is used for Tiny Homes, or some larger cities in (SF for one) for homeless housing. Supposedly starting with containers is less expensive than traditional framing or bricking (hurricane/tornado areas). Although with people using containers, they are no longer “free” just delivery cost, and cost for the containers are going up, even though the containers (whatever the reason) are no longer used.

    1. I have researched container homes extensively and come to the conclusion that they are pretty much completely unfit to purpose. Even for a homeless shelter or prefab camp housing, you’re really paying for very very expensive siding. And in any climate other than the most mild, you’re going to have to attach insulation either to the inside and use up already very limited space, or to the outside, in which case you’re going to have to add another layer of siding anyway. Also, the rigidity of the structure is in the walls, so openings to connect containers together to provide more than 7′ of width have to be very carefully engineered with steel beams added on, etc.

      1. Like “tiny homes”, container houses are notionally-livable art projects for people with more money than sense. And this is coming from someone who really really wanted the idea to work out.

        1. Container houses are the latest iteration of the fad house. See domes for an earlier example.

          My favorite line from a dome pioneer (complete with arrow sticking out of the back): “The shell is quick and easy, but there’s nothing with right angles inside. It’s a nightmare to fit.”

          1. My plan if and when I build a house out at Tierra de Balzacq is to build a gazebo at the far end of the yard, stick an arrow painted “+2” into it, and hang a plaque with fancy scrollwork lettering saying “It’s a Gazebo, Eric”.

      2. I haven’t done the research. To me containers do not make any sense. No way was I promoting them, any shape or form. Just noting they are a “thing” and (supposedly) “why”.

  17. Speaking of containers… all the big box store parking lots around here are turning into container mazes, because all the stuff that got ordered a long time ago is finally showing up.

    1. That’s happened with Fred Meyer/Kroger. OTOH, they’re redoing the inside to have more merchandise on the shelves. Lots of shelves.

      1. The local QFC (aka Kroger) here in West Seattle just added another shelf to the top of all the fixtures marked “employees only”. Methinks they’re moving to Not Quite Just In Time inventory management.

        The big box stores show no containers in the parking lots, though. I suspect this is because Seattle is a port and never had the supply shortages that a lot of the rest of the country did, or at least not to the same degree (prices, on the other hand…).

      2. Oh. Flyover Fred’s is getting the upgrades we got locally. Deeper shelves so they hold more. More shelves, so higher … As in my 5’4″s can barely reach the front of the next highest shelf, and only about 1/2 way back on the shelf below it. With shortages, it means I’m accosting (politely) anyone in my immediate area that can reach what I need, employee or not. Definitely using the vertically challenged with gray hair to my advantage.

        1. One of the Medford Fred’s has gotten the change, though the one on Highway 62 is still pretty spiffy, at least as of mid July. OTOH, that’s when they started redoing ours.

          We have a lot of containers in the parking lot, but I think a lot of those are for the fixtures and extra racks. The conversion should be complete in a month or two, so we’ll see about the containers.

          The local Home Desperate got a whole lot of the adjustable height work tables and monster tool boxes, to the point where they had to have a crew move them out of the way to restock some 2 x lumber for a customer. Now, they’re scattered throughout the store. 🙂 Same overstock with 7/16″ OSB; lots stashed outside right now. The good news is that the prices dropped from WTF to merely hurting.

  18. I don’t remember a lot of “rust” in “Analog” when I had a subscription in the late ’80s–early 90s. Maybe I just ignored them? W. R. Thompson had an interesting series, for example, that started with “Maverick” about interstellar trade and meeting new species, etc. Lois McMaster Bujold had several Miles VorKosigan stories—”Weatherman” and “Labyrinth” come to mind.

    I do remember one where everything from Boston to DC was one megapolis and there was a water shortage. One character was a perfumer; he would go into a fugue and smell people with a death wish; and the hidden bad guys would take advantage.

  19. I watched Mike Lindell’s Moment Of Truth summit this weekend. He gathered, from all 50 states, people who are actively pursuing election fraud. Major “geeks” with serious experience and expertise. One fellow had taught… statistics or some such at MIT for… about 100 years.
    These people were young, old, and everything in between. They were from every walk of life, and many were clerks in election offices.
    They presented their findings, and in each state they are raising utter holy hell with their bureaucracies, their elected officials, and anyone else they suspected had engaged in election fraud.
    Doctor Frank, a major player who was known and loved by all, began his part of the event by singing the national anthem, and everyone stood and sang along. All day long, both days, were chants of “USA! USA! USA!” and cheers for progress made and bravery.
    There was a lot of bravery.
    I was and am so encouraged by my fellow citizens, I had to share here.
    These people are going to pursue their actions to the gates of hell and beyond, and they are definitely not giving up on America.
    And neither am I. 🙂

  20. I don’t mind some rust in the future– Corrosion Never Sleeps!– I just object to nothing but rust.

    Good heavens, the dull stuff doesn’t even have That One Guy who will polish his baby to a shimmering glow even though she’s older than his family name!

    1. I want you to know that my brain went somewhere weird involving a luminescent infant-shaped robot for a second there.

      1. a) Freefall has some guy with a vehicle shaped like a giant baby
        b) given that some video game developers design bosses as flying fetuses of doom, it could be argued that a baby shaped robot could be in genre.
        c) you can go with the handwave that they were made by an alien race whose physiology is completely unlike that of humans, and the cosmetic appearance is simply a bizarre coincidence
        d) but the guy who owns and maintains that one likes the cosmetics, and thinks human babies are awesome

  21. BTW, who needs a rusty future dystopia when you have Biden giving taxpayers the responsibility to pay for $300+ Million in student loans for somebody else’s kids?

    And the EPA, thanks to WV Senator Manchin, now has the legal right to decide how much carbon an engine or factory can emit.

    But wait! There’s more!!!

    Saint Fauci of Covid will make just under $1,000 per day as a private citizen and never be called to account for illegally making the virus infectious to humans or pushing the deadly jabs.

    You know, I liked Mortal Engines better than this one…

    1. BTW, some pundits are now saying the student loan bailout may reach over $1 Billion. :-O

      1. Trillion, surely. As of 2022 Q1, Federal owned student loans were $1,454,412 MM. $1.4 Trillion. they won’t stop until they’ve “forgiven” all of it. Non federal is another $700 billion or so.

        Then they have to replace the revenue since it was the third largest source after income taxes and home mortgage interest.

        A sad day, a very sad day. deTocqueville is smiling grimly.

    2. This. This makes me want to use unprintable language.

      I scraped and saved and finally got my student loans paid off not that long ago so I wouldn’t have that debt hanging over my head, and then Biden crashes the job market.

      I really, really could use that money right now. The idea that people making under $125K are going to get their own personal bailout makes me see red.


      …It’s that bit where you want to tell the Great Author, “I appreciate the faith you have in me, but you kind of skipped a Training Montage or two….”

      1. Regarding unprintable language. I made some choice remarks this morning when I found out. Nothing other than the TV to hear me. Choice words indeed. Not only did hubby and I pay off our individual student loans. I didn’t bother with student loans for my subsequent associates, and second bachelors. Then we got our son through without any student loans. We’ve Never made a combined gross income of $125k, let alone taxable, or individually … Maybe now, if one counts all three of us into one household income since son still lives at home. With our combined SS, pensions (for all that my pension is $1400/year), what is pulled from IRAs annually, and son’s income with all the overtime he works.

      2. If I have an issue with the student debt thing (there’s some people that, quite frankly, need the help), there isn’t a good hook in the bait in the form of college loan reform. We’ve needed it for twenty-plus years, and I have no doubts that this is a bribe to several Democratic constituencies.

        (My unprintable language is that I didn’t take a single loan out for college-family help that was paid for in trips that weren’t taken, cars that had to last another 2-3 years, etc, etc, etc…and my frugality is being told that I was a sucker.)

        1. That. Yes. If they want to forgive debt, make it so the colleges have violent incentives to never do this again.

          Because of family problems I’ve been in straitened circumstances for decades. I had the choice between paying the loan off while I had the chance or keeping the money to deal with life’s contingencies. I chose to pay my debts and work hard, and for a few months it was working – and then the economy went crunch.

          It’s the whole forgiving the loans on top of making it impossible to live that is just vinegar in the wound.

          1. Allow bankruptcy after X years out of school, and require the university to co-sign the loan.

            Watch the barista-prep courses go away ☺

            Alternately, there is a private funding model being implemented in (IIRC) Indiana (I think the by a former governor turned college president). A student can find an “investor” who will front the cash, requiring post-graduation payment of X% of income for Y years (far less than loan payments across the loan’s lifetime). If the student does well, the investor profits. If the student can’t find work, the investor takes a bath. Makes for pretty decent incentives.

            1. I would have so gone for the bankruptcy option years back, instead of struggling to keep paying a pittance while stuck taking 24/7 care of a person with terminal illness. It would have let me clear the slate a long time ago.

            1. I tried. I should have known more about people. About getting a job, beyond, “If you get X degree, people will come looking for you! I had a grocery bag half-full of job offers when I graduated college!” Which was about the extent of my parents and my various schools telling me anything about job-searching.

              I tried with what I knew, I kept trying, and things just… never worked. And what money I did get went into the household, and it was poof. (Narcissists are very good at making money vanish.)

              By the time I realized I had to do something drastically different, my mother was diagnosed with dementia, and about 7 years of pure hell followed – the last year I was running on 3-5 hours interrupted sleep a night. By the time it was over I was physically flat for most of a year, and very very sick. I had enough resources to keep me afloat through that and finally pay off my loans, I got a job, it was starting to let me get just a little ahead – and then Bidencrash.

              I think the worst part about trying to get everything paid week to week is, stress blocks up the writing. Just when I really ought to be writing to pay the bills!

      3. > “I really, really could use that money right now.”

        If things really get desperate, remember that you can ask for help. I’m sure Sarah wouldn’t mind you putting up a donation link. I can kick in a few bucks myself.

        Same goes for anyone who’s been here for a while and shown themselves to be a decent person: if you truly need it, ask.

          1. Here’s an idea: some website (or a separate part of your blog, perhaps, your Highness) where people can type up scenes/story ideas, with donation links below the writing in question. If you enjoy the writing, donate what you can. (Those in need can put up suggested donation amounts.)

            It encourages people to write more, gets money in the hands of people who may badly need it, and lets you familiarize yourself with the names of writers whose work you might enjoy! (Which, in the days of self-publishing and hundreds of thousands of might-be-interesting books, could be really helpful.)


              1. Hmm. Kind of like the Sunday 1-Word-Prompts, and kind of like a writing blog, and kind of like Facebook + GoFundMe for writers?

                You create an account on the site with your name/pen name, set up a donation link for yourself, and write. (Not a whole book, ideally, but maybe a chapter or a scene, something like the reactions to your one-word prompt.)

                Other people skim through the works, find a couple they like, and donate a little to the accounts whose writing they particularly like.

                Does that help clarify?

                  1. Yeah, as I was clarifying the idea I started realizing how much detail would have to go into it, and it wouldn’t really work as part of something else.

                    I’m not a programmer myself, but if someone else is and would be willing to set it up, I could try being an Alpha tester! (Or whatever that would be called.)

            1. This reminds me: Sarah, I need to get that intro post for the LP to you. Is there a particular file format you like getting your guest posts in?

        1. Thank you. It’s just… I’m not dead yet. Drat it all, I’m supposed to be a responsible adult at my age, I’m not supposed to need help!

          Wry Some people have issues. I suspect I have subscriptions.

          1. Look, this lot beat me over the head until I asked for help last year. They were tag teaming the scoldsplaining (with love) till I gave in.
            DON’T MAKE ME UNLEASH THEM ON YOU. If 10k will get you tow here you can write again, more than a few of us will contribute.

            1. Yes’m.

              …Wouldn’t actually take that amount. I’m just trying to get to enough of a breather I can worry month to month instead of week to week.

              Wry One thing I need to do is get the car maintained – haven’t been able to do that yet this year, and while it’s been really reliable it’s now officially old enough to vote…

          2. > “It’s just… I’m not dead yet.”

            The point is to ask for help BEFORE you end up dead for lack of it. If you were seriously planning to do a fundraiser afterwards, then forget the writing and charge for necromancy lessons. I’m already on record as willing to give lichdom a try.

              1. Here’s what you do – become a vampire, survive a couple hundred years, study magic, and then become a lich too! As a vampire, you have time to study spells that living wizards could only dream of. As a vampire-lich, you don’t even need to worry about some plucky young adventurer and his hardened vampire-hunter mentor breaking into your coffin at night. Even if they do, you can pop right back in a few months and wreak havoc on them.

                (Curse of Strahd, I’ve always thought, could be played in very interesting ways depending on how long the DM decides Barovia – and its Count – have existed. If the Ancient and the Land is really not all that ancient… 200 years or so… he still has hope of winning Tatyana’s love, and knows that a really skilled and knowledgeable group of adventurers might actually be able to wipe him out. On the other hand, a 13,000 year old Count knows darn well that this newest batch of meat bags can take him out, but they can’t keep him down. And he’s tried everything he can think of to get the girl – and nothing’s worked. Even the crazy stupid ideas have been tried and haven’t worked. So he might be going through the motions just hoping for something – anything– new and interesting to happen. Even if it’s the wizard’s misspoken Wish spell unmaking reality and creating portals to the Far Realm. Actually, if that happened, he’d probably thank the wizard for his creativity.)

              2. > “Meh. Lichdom is so dry and dusty! I think vampire would be more fun.”

                Yeah. but as a vampire I have to drain someone else’s blood to survive. I’m just looking for immortality, not an excuse to hurt people.

                Plus, that whole “bursting into flames” thing would make running daytime errands a bit awkward.

                1. In some realms (as in the Sims 4) you can substitute fish and frogs for human blood and be a good vampire. Human blood may be traditional, but I don’t see how it has to be obligatory. And in Marion Harmon’s “Wearing the Cape” series, with the right kind of Wish, you can become a daywalker. If you’re going to be superpowered, don’t think small.

          3. > “I’m supposed to be a responsible adult at my age, I’m not supposed to need help!”

            You were also supposed to get support from your family when you were younger, not have the money and life sucked out of you by them. Between that and what the government’s been doing, it’s not your fault that you’re not financially stable yet. Don’t punish yourself for it.

            1. It’s the trap of being a smart Odd. “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”

              …Also I seriously did not expect the whole mess my brothers put us through post-death. I mean, I should have, given everything else, but… there’s a certain blank numbness that kicks in when you just successfully moved out a couple weeks before, and come back to find someone who’s not even in the state has put a new lock on the house you’re trying to maintain so it can be sold off….

          4. Drat it all, I’m supposed to be a responsible adult at my age, I’m not supposed to need help!

            I’m pretty sure there’s a poem about that.
            Something something, island, clod washed away, diminishes me, something?
            IDK, I no college grad.
            :wink emoji:

            Seriously, though, my husband spends a lot of time and effort reminding me that I really can’t operate at 110% all the time, and our natural support network isn’t as broken/cancerous as yours is, going off of only what you’ve been willing to share.

              1. Thank you, I think so.

                Since I’ve got him to help me when I get angry at myself for being human, I figure I should at least try to help other folks– with reminders, and otherwise, as possible.

    3. The reactions of these leftist Twits needs no additional comment in this forum.

      “Forgiveness means cancellation of loans. It does not come out of the federal budget. No one pays for it via taxes. Stop with the lies.”

      1. Utterly untrue, as it reduces the revenue the government receives, which means they either have to make it up in taxes or grow the deficit even more, which ultimately has to be paid by taxpayers. If they print money instead, we get the high inflation that we have now and eventually end up like Venezuela and the Wiemar Republic. Of course those are the results that the Democrats are looking for.

        1. Isn’t it the 3rd highest source of revenue, after income tax and SS payments?

        2. Hmm… You-know-who is arguing that forgiving the school loans would actually be DEflationary. WP won’t let me link to his site, so here’s the relevant part:

          “Most money is debt and it comes from nowhere. It is not printed by the government, it is literally created from nothing when a loan is taken out. This is inflationary. When a loan is cancelled, forgiven, or written off, the debt literally vanishes. This is deflationary, since it reduces the amount of money in the economy.

          If the loan is paid off, either by the debtor or by a third party, then no money leaves or enters the system. It is a neutral action. If interest is paid on the loan, this is mildly inflationary but trivial at current interest rates.”

          I was under the impression that the loans were made using existing currency. Is he right about that not being the case?

          1. Truth mixed with lies, as usual. In order to “create” a loan, the bank legally has to take that money from another source. Unless they have sufficient in cash, they “buy” the money for the loan from the Fed, which makes the money up out of thin air. Paying it off is definitely a neutral transaction, in that there is no new money added or subtracted from the system as a whole–it was already added when the loan was initiated.

            Cancelling or writing off the debt may be a neutral transaction for the system as a whole, but for the bank it’s a definite problem. Legally, they have to account for that money.

            The .gov has put these loans on their balance sheets and is actively collecting interest. In essence, acting as a bank. When those loans (and the interest accruing) is removed from those balance sheets, the difference has to be made up somewhere.

            Most likely they will borrow the money for the payoff from the Fed. It will be silently marked into the standing balance sheets and they’ll crow about “No debt increase” even while the debt balance grows by an equivalent amount. Then give it a few years for the public to forget and they’ll pass some minor piece of legislation that allows the forgiven balances to be collected through taxation, mostly on the middle class.

            1. Okay, there’s some things here I’m not clear on.

              > “In order to “create” a loan, the bank legally has to take that money from another source.”

              You mean, a bank can’t legally just make the loan themselves even if they have the money to cover it? Why not?

              > “Unless they have sufficient in cash, they “buy” the money for the loan from the Fed,”

              If they don’t have the cash then what are they “buying” the money with? Are you saying the bank takes a loan from the government in order to give the loan to the student?

              > “which makes the money up out of thin air.”

              Okay, but then it sounds like You-Know-Who is right about that part at least. If the Fed is creating the money from nowhere when the loan is made, then the loans themselves would be inflationary.

              > “Cancelling or writing off the debt may be a neutral transaction for the system as a whole”

              Here’s where you start losing me. If the money was legislated into existence at the time the loan was made (causing inflation), then simply cancelling the debt and leaving it at that would be inherently deflationary. It’s just that the lender and the government would have to eat the loss, and the government won’t tolerate that. So the economic issue is not the forgiveness itself, but what Uncle Sam will do afterward to avoid being the one to take a bath.

              Is that accurate?

              1. It’s complicated. I tried to simplify so the answer would fit in a comment.

                1) You mean, a bank can’t legally just make the loan themselves even if they have the money to cover it? Why not?

                Yes, they can. If they don’t have the money, they can get a loan from the Fed. Lots more goes into it, but that’s the basic outline.

                2) The loans could be inflationary, yes. However, the Fed is constantly buying and selling their own imaginary money in an effort to keep that from happening. Imagine a lake that has to have a specific outflow. From a distance it looks full and clear, and the company that owns it needs to keep up both the illusion and the flow. So they’ve built a system of fillers that brings the water level back up and restores the flow. The farmers down below still get the water, so they have no idea the lake’s inflow has dried up.

                Because of the systems in place, very little of our current economic system is natural. In most cases they are easily able to keep US inflation around 3% with very little effort. I tend to think of inflation as the Fed’s management fee. They try to compensate for the natural flows of an economy, to control them. It doesn’t always work, but our current system is based on trust. If the farmers start to suspect that the lake is just an illusion, the whole thing comes crashing down. They will literally do anything to prevent that.

                3) Here’s where you start losing me.

                Completely understandable, and you are mostly right. The issue here is that we are taught to believe that our economic system is natural, and that natural responses would occur. They won’t. There was no inflation when the loan was made, because it was deliberately canceled. There will be no deflation either, because it will be canceled. But because they have to maintain the illusion, someone has to be held responsible. And you are right, the government will not tolerate that. They will pass that loss on to the people.

                It’s sometimes difficult to know if an economic action is natural, but one way to tell for sure–if the action involves a loan, you’re looking at a controlled event.

  22. I’ve been encountering the “anti-rusty” sparkly future here and there reading old stuff from the 1900s or earlier. Jules Verne. The account of the failed Shackleton expedition to the south pole. The autobiography of the Wright Bros. Various autobiographies set in that haunting period before WWI in continental Europe.

    Those people seemed to live in an entirely different mental world from the one that the TV/popular books feed us in our present. The optimism and agency really is shocking. This isn’t so much “the good old days!”, since that almost misses the point. It’s more: What did these people have in their worldview and way of life that allowed them to more or less do sci-fi in real life (which they did. So much of our incredible technological and scientific progress dates from this era.) I would like to “culturally appropriate” these guys, if at all possible.

    (PS: I really really have come to loathe television, with the heat of 1000 suns. Don’t have one myself, but when elsewhere everything coming out of one of those things seems to be culturally degrading in at least one way, overt or subtle. People say I’m crazy for desiring silence and solitude, I don’t know how people deal with the sheer attention-throttling noise of the TV.)

    1. ” People say I’m crazy for desiring silence and solitude, I don’t know how people deal with the sheer attention-throttling noise of the TV.”

      I wonder if there is substantial overlap with the type of people calling you crazy, and the type of people who have no inner monologue.

    2. Re: Your P.S.

      I’m hoping I might one day be able to help put something good and worthwhile on the TV. Lord willing. But I won’t call you crazy if you choose to stay away – sometimes it’s not worth it to brave the 90% that’s bad to get to the 10% that’s good.

    3. I have a television, but I only watch “This Old House”, “Ask This Old House”, “America’s Test Kitchen”, and whatever movie I want to introduce to my daughter this month.

      Pretty soon it’s going to go into the back bedroom on the northeast corner of the house, which I’m going to paint a charcoal/navy blue and tart up with old movie posters, and then my living room will be for reading and enjoying the fireplace and entertaining, like God intended.

    4. 1) They had the mindset that anything goes unless it’s specifically illegal, rather than the modern mindset that everything is illegal unless the .gov specifically says you can.

      2) They didn’t have an army of bureaucrats looking over their shoulders, making footnotes to the rules every time someone tries something different.

      3) It was really the start of the technological revolution and no one had a set of rules outside of which they were not allowed to stray. From my perspective, most of those rules need to be disregarded. I’ve been told numberless times that “it doesn’t work that way,” and they’re usually wrong. I just don’t have the proper training to toe the line in the first place.

  23. All of the rusty old futures are boring.

    They’re often very repetitive. And they’re designed to prove that their creators are So Aware that the current world is made of crappy things, with crappy people, and it’s all a terrible place.

    Screw that.

    Give me the stars.

    (That, and the Third Imperium would suggest therapy for most of these people, this kind of hidden depression is bad for everyone.)

  24. One of the flips of this is the kids and storytellers who apparently have no idea that stuff actually has to be made by somebody for some reason.

    Also, stuff is fragile, and if you can put it together, you can take it apart. Though, breaking something does not mean that you can mend it.

    Constant creation is necessary for any society, because otherwise the entropy wins. Then you don’t have a society, if for no other reason than getting replaced by other societies which do keep ahead on the creation.

    Someone would see only mostly or partly destroyed stuff if they were to get stuck being around stupid destructive people who destroy everything that they possibly can.

    There are places like that. If someone is foolish enough to try to make all their social contacts among street prostitutes, they will likely become depressed and concerned about the fragility of human life.

    1. :musing:

      I wonder if part of this is tied to the same pattern as people not cooking.

      Yes, that sounds weird. I will unpack.

      Cooking is the most common form of creation in day to day life. Two or three times a day, we gotta handle it.

      …or, at least, someone has to handle it.
      A lot of people seem to treat it like magic, a trained skill done only by experts, and do not get me started on the cookbooks that promote that nonsense by altering the recipes to virtue signal, which makes ingredient numbers go through the roof while quality drops like a rock!

      Don’t get me started on the snobbery over basic home cooking that uses– gasp! Canned goods!
      Which, if you ignore snobbery, are things that are preserved in perfect form for cooked uses faster than the fresh stuff can reach the store, much less that you can use it.
      Frozen produce, preserved often in less than 24 hours, again good for cooked uses.

      Nope, they feed into this nonsense of having to start out at showing off– the cooking equivalent of an artist that gathers berries to make her own ink, before she has so much as ever put brush to paper.

      When I was learning how to cook, I got to mess around a lot, on my own.
      Much of that was completely inedible, because I had no idea how to DO stuff, and I just kind of… added some of this, some of that.

      So I know it takes planning, and it doesn’t just happen.

      I was then taught how to actually do stuff– say, the very easy “goulash” I grew up on, where you brown hamburger with some garlic salt and lemon pepper, break it down into rough crumbles, then add a can of tomatoes, a can of beans (drained and rinsed), a can of green beans (drained) and a can of corn (drained or not, depends on how juicy the beef was and what you like). Leftovers added as you need to clean the fridge.

      Then you learn how and why stuff works, and that helps you learn to build up other types of cooking.

      You understand the work that is involved, but you also aren’t intimidated by it.

      1. Paper? No, no, you have to make your own paper, too! And your own paintbrush. First you have to find the perfect twig and whittle it to shape, then catch a squirrel…
        “Ehh, on second thought let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.”

      2. Cooking is a good example of something, even for an audience that hasn’t necessarily put in the time to gain their first real skill.

        Lots of skills are really complicated, and part of learning them is training your perception to filter out the unimportant stuff, so that all of your attention is on the stuff that is important.

        This is part of why a lot of things take practice, experience, and someone willing to share when you are making a mistake. Trial number one, you never know enough to do without training wheels and other help, even for a fairly simple task. Without the help, Trial number one always fails partway through.

        Without the perception skill for cooking, it is easy to mistake the unimportant details of an example for the stuff that you absolutely must imitate exactly.

        So, a formal list of cooking instructions is a list of amounts of ingredients to measure out, and the steps of what to combine and what processes to carry out to get a usable result.

        But, instructions are actually pretty hard to write, and a lot of instructions get written relying on ‘implicit’ knowledge that isn’t provided, and what is provided does not contain instructions on how to get it. With enough lists of instructions, it is possible to self study the necessary implicit knowledge on your own with enough brute force determination. It is usually much more slow and painful to learn without an instructor who can pass on implicit knowledge, or at the very least someone who has the implicit knowledge and is available to imitate.

        This is extra fun when there are maybe a dozen people in the world with the implicit knowledge, or, God have mercy on your soul, you are seriously trying to do something new.

        Thankfully, Baby’s first real skill is usually something for which there are a great wealth of people with the implicit knowledge.

        But, pure imitation without instruction can be a bear for physical tasks, much less the LOL of mental tasks.

        Because the most effective imitation involves some perception based implicit knowledge, that is particularly hard to teach people to do. Without an obscene amount of ‘cut wood, carry water’.

        So, implicitly, we know that key things for cooking are amounts of ingredients, and the way (process) and time for combining the ingredients. And, combining requires physical skills, that you don’t learn without physical practice, no matter how good you are in theory land.

        But, one failure mode when learning by imitation can occur finding someone who makes the same dishes with a high skill level and timing that is repetitively scheduled. So, you know mostly the times for doing everything, are oriented to the clock, and count it a fairly part of things. Then, your efforts frustrate you until you fail, every time, because your physical skills don’t let you do the combining in anywhere near the same time. (Similar level of frustration can occur from not knowing anything about the standard time. Say, if your theory guess is five minutes, and someone skilled can do it in five hours.)

        I can point to recent frustrations with one of these, and successfully avoiding frustrations a little with another.

        Another failure mode with imitation are the steps that a skilled person can safely skip, that are pretty much essential for a beginner.

        Cooking has the case of an imitation example who just adds ingredients seemingly without pattern, and without deliberately measuring. If the learner perceives ‘just throw in a random amount, and white powder gets used a lot’, they are in deep trouble. Because different white powders are drastically different, and amount is hugely important.

        This is basically the same reason as for ‘please, please do the homework problems’, when you luck out and find an actually competent instructor.

        Basic starting skills for learning anythings are ‘learning how to perceive’ with a more generally useful but still pretty narrow ‘learning how to think’.

        Totalitarians and certain other abusers actively do not want anyone learnign certain skills, which include ‘seeing the patterns around you’ and ‘thinking’. When a mind rapist also has the power of life and death over a victim, they will terrify the victim, and use that terror to make them afraid of thinking, and of learning to think.

        Courage and bravery can be learned, and they are part of learning to be free. Which is one reason why /both/ enemies foreign and enemies domestic might be utterly f&cked when it comes to actually fielding decent shock infantry.

        1. “Lots of skills are really complicated, and part of learning them is training your perception to filter out the unimportant stuff, so that all of your attention is on the stuff that is important.” – This, yes, so much. I needed years to learn how to drive ’cause I have leaky sensory filters; learning what wasn’t important took a very long time, and controlling as many outside variables as possible.

          “Courage and bravery can be learned.” – any good advice on where to pick these up? I think we could all use more, or a refresher course. I know I could!

          1. Don’t have much sense ATM for thinking the question through properly.

            I’m pretty sure that some of the things that Kratman has said about good and bad training for military purposes are relevant.

            In particular, his discussion of the ‘No Win’ scenarios in Star Trek, Kirk’s famous bit with the K. Maru. That was bad training; telling someone to do something that they probably or certainly can’t do, is going to demoralize them, not build confidence.

            Good training involves careful selection of the difficultly of the next training scenario.

            You want enough challenge to improve skills, and increase confidence.

            But, LOL challenge sets people up for failures that demoralize, and make them think that they are not capable of doing anything.

            Quite a lot of military fiction, especially on the SFF end, gets this very wrong. They invest heavy in the idea of an extremely selective elite fed by near impossible training, and don’t have the background in training to sort out the extremes of magical thinking from the actual consequences for the morale and confidence of your regulars.

            But, if you are in the habit of doing things that are a little scary, at times you can become acclimated to the danger level, and carefully increase it until your educated judgement on ‘what is scary’ is ignoring some things that are actually pretty dangerous. One fun case is US military officers. A lot of them are pretty accepting of risks involving physical danger, but extremely averse to risks of illegalities, things that look bad on records, and being caught thinking well outside of the conventions of thought for XYZ service and branch.

              1. Good example.

                Cars are, pretty objectively, scary. It is the people driving them that make them seem relatively safe.

                There is a need for experience to realize if these people are pretty safe. Supposing that ‘these people’ are safe. But, there is also perception, sorting ‘yeah, he is giving me a lot of space’ from ‘at these speeds, that guy is much too close’.

                There are a lot of kinds of courage, a nd you can develop some of them without developing others to the same degree.

                When I lose enough human contact, I stop being able to work on the social courage, and the social anxiety starts to eat me.

                  1. Did you ever take a defensive driving course? The one I took when I was 17 was mostly about stupid patterns that bad drivers fall into and how to anticipate them and avoid them.

                    Like, for instance, I can tell when the moron coming up on my right side on a four-lane freeway is about to cut in front of me too closely both to me and the car in front of him, so I take my foot off the pedal and give him plenty of room to be stupid. Things like that.

                    And then I took the winter driving course the following Christmas vacation. That one was fun, for certain occasionally terrifying values of “fun”. But at least I got to turn donuts in the parking lot, which actually came in handy once when I was working as a courier and pulled off a main street into a narrow driveway bordered with 6′ snow piles. I couldn’t back out into traffic, and I would have had to do a 32-point turn to turn around, so I just cranked the wheel, stood on the brake, and gave it the gas, and spun 180° within the length of the car.

                    1. Hubby and I took a defensive driving coarse through the USFS before we were married. In theory it was “Forest Road Safety”. Most of it was highway and freeway driving. We passed what we learned to our son. Yes, in the 44 years since, it has saved all of us from even close calls. Not all accidents … when one is legally stopped, there is no avoiding idiots, even when laying on the *horn. At least they were slow motion dents. Now we have car *cams so no question who hit who, when the idiot is backing up, and that there was an audio (horn) warning (both times that happened at least the driver in question took responsibility, no witnesses).

                      ** Forest Road driving is “loaded log trucks have the right of way”. Well okay. Log Trucks, and Fire Trucks (including the forest specific ones), have the right of way. Which is what, maybe 15 minutes presentation? Certainly not a weeks worth. Not a situation my crew was likely to see. But hubby worked fire crew, so he did regularly.

                      ** Horn. I hate horns that are tiny “please …” beeeeeeeeep. I like horns that are very clearly “WHAT THE HELL?” BEEEEEEEEEP

                      ** We have the car cams for when we take scenic drives, which we download after. But the cameras stay in the cars 24/7. Stopped a couple of potential road rage incidents cold, too (just point to the camera). Doesn’t stop tailgating, but when they pull around you and start the cutoff move, even with slowing down to let them in, a brief warning beep, point, off they roar. I need to get a sign for lower in the back window (we don’t do car stickers or magnets). Sign: “If you can read this. Smile. You are on camera.” Not true, because while we have a backup cameras, don’t have a back “tow cam”, just the front dash cam.

                    2. Like, for instance, I can tell when the moron coming up on my right side on a four-lane freeway is about to cut in front of me too closely both to me and the car in front of him, so I take my foot off the pedal and give him plenty of room to be stupid.


                      I got taught that kind of stuff by my mom, but I was also taught that when you see someone that seems to be doing that– DO NOT SLOW DOWN. Speed up so that they can see there is not room to cut across.

                      Otherwise, you reinforce the idea that “if I do this, then people will get out of my way.”

                      I’ve nearly died, repeatedly, to people who assumed that if they passed in a dangerous area, people would slam on their brakes to let them in, even when the area behind them was clear.

                  2. Mom told to drive as if everyone else on the road is crazy. I have never seen a response to disagree.

                    1. I got similar advice. Although for the sake of my own sanity and the ability to get anywhere, I actually had to dial it back, or at least remind myself that it’s “drive as if anyone else on the road might at any point do the dumbest thing possible” not “will.”

                1. I can “people” very well when necessary, which fools some into thinking I’m an extrovert. I prefer being alone, I function much better without the human compression, but people don’t see that.

                  I am a complete introvert, but I have learned that I must have some level of human interaction or I go nuts. I would be perfectly happy to find a hole and pull it in after me, but after a while I go into a deep depression that doesn’t allow social interaction. And the longer it lasts, the worse it gets.

                  Toward the end of last year I was isolated more than normal, and after a while I couldn’t even think of walking into a grocery store.

                  The simple busy-ness of humans is utterly draining when I’m not at 100%.

          2. I needed years to learn how to drive ’cause I have leaky sensory filters; learning what wasn’t important took a very long time, and controlling as many outside variables as possible.

            Oh… ;mumble bunch of words; … so THAT explains my family’s rage button!

            K, in Washington, there made some laws that make it basically impossible for kids to get any front-seat time, unless you have a one seat pickup.

            Mom can’t explain why this upsets her so much, other than “we always have the kids set up front, because that teaches them to watch traffic.”
            And my parents talk INCESSANTLY about what is going on in traffic. Even our kids in the 4th line of seats in the van will see, and comment on, what is going on in traffic. (more than not, accurately)

            I never thought of it, but we were learning “what is important to notice.” Both for vehicles, and for animals.

            1. Yes, this!

              One story in my family that is wryly funny, and demonstrates why you need to listen carefully to what kids don’t say – my mother asked one of my brothers (maybe 8 at the time) if there were any cars coming.
              Starts to pull out.
              “But there’s a big truck!”

                1. If you ever have the misfortune to run into any of my relatives, I would advise bringing a tape recorder for any conversations. And then go over it and make an EXACT transcript later. The ability to “tell the truth but tell it slant” was, unfortunately, a survival skill.

                  …Oddly enough, I suspect this is one of the reasons I can catch characters’ dialogue as well as I do. I listen to exactly what was said, how, what pacing, etc. Because it was important.

                  1. …. Crossover, if I run into your genetic family, and my “LOCK UP AND STARE IN A DISCOMFORTING MANNER” defenses do not engage, I dearly hope I am literally sprinting in the opposite direction.

                    I have a few distant cousins who are a little like that, and my parents basically made sure we weren’t anywhere around them until we had good defenses to non-normal levels of self-flattering memory editing.

                    1. Believe me, I do give thanks for them, a lot.

                      The books about geeks born into Normie families are right, but they aren’t all that’s there. (the trope doesn’t invert very well, for those wondering– subculture can read superculture fairly well, even when they can’t mimic)

                      Mostly I spend a lot of time wishing I could share my family, because DANG did a lot of folks need at least one parent that at least knew the coping mechanisms EXISTED.

              1. Example of my family being Different:
                We said clear or NO!

                Not “go” or “no cars” or … anything.

                The idea of “there is a thing which will obstruct” was the explicit subject. 😀

                  1. I honestly can’t think of good examples, because it’s such a cliche that it’s more notable when a story has the “kid who is born into weirdly intelligent family” than anything else– think like the trope used in cloudy with a chance of meatballs with the Brilliant Intelligent Guy whose dad is A Standard Jock and/or Physical Technician Who Doesn’t Get It — the idea of a really smart kid whose family jus tdoesn’t get them is pretty common. Even A Wrinkle In Time had the idea of the Super Smart Kid as a sport.

                    It was a standard in cartoons, that the Smart Kid had parents that Did Not Understand.

                    This… didn’t work, when my folks were differently smart, but literally every generation going back was also Weird and had at least some idea of what I was dealing with, and had stuff that could help.

  25. “Things are going to be crappy in the near to medium term future” was and is so common as to be practically ubiquitous. Even the bright and shiny futures had this, albeit usually as part of the backstory. Heinlein had the Crazy Years and the US as a dictatorship in the 21st century. Doc Smith and H Beam Piper both had World War Three, requiring a recovery to allow their further-future stories to be told. Star Trek (Original Series) likewise, which is where Khan came from. And so on and so forth.

    Who is willing to argue that we’ve already reached Peak Crap? As opposed to there being more and worse crap to come, even if we do pull through to the other side in the longer term?

  26. It seems to me most civilizations end (and mostly live) in a few (comparatively) elite managers and a servile lower class. America just seems to have (temporarily) moved all the participants up the ladder. (all the further to fall, rusty or not).

  27. We have certainly not reached Peak Crap. There is no way to excuse the Crap that already exists except to bury it in even Crappier Crap, thus making the Pile even higher and Deeper, and hope that people don’t remember that the New Crap is founded on and came from Same Old Crap. Fortunately, the New Crap is so much dirtier and smellier than the Same Old Crap that people who aren’t already nose-numb are starting to take notice. The Pile is looking none too stable, either.

  28. Space cows. This is why, when I was creating the worldbuilding and backstory to the Project That Will Never End, I had to learn about space cows. And chickens and pigs.

    There had to be gravity, because long term exposure to micro causes issues with living things. Even plants can get weirded. There had to be industry, because the space cows needed gravity to live in space. There needed to be specific highly technical engineering to make space cows a thing. And space chickens. And space pigs.

    Since there was no access to Earth, humanity had to not just survive, but continue to grow. There was no way for it to work without it. There had to be trade, infrastructure, mining, manufacturing, service economies, and schools, to go with the space suits and space ships.

    So there had to be rock miners in the asteroid belt, gas miners operating dangerous mining rigs in the upper atmosphere of gas giants, traders schlepping that raw material to factories and processing facilities, then hauling the finished products out to space stations and colonies throughout the outer system.

    But there had to be rust, too, because it’s the zombie apocalypse after all. There had to be shortages and lost capabilities here and there. The people had to learn to make do, to adapt and improvise where they could. To cheat death, sometimes you really do have to cheat. There were overrun factories and dead colonies, derelict ships and stations with zombie versions of their former residents feeding on the corpse of prosperity.

    But the path of the story had to be one of redemption and growth, because eternal dystopian suckitude is the fast way to TBAR. So the story became one of fixing what was broken. Take a broken man, on a broken space station, add purpose and drive, and a story began.

    1. Space cows.


      Start with something that you need, and figure out everything that is necessary to make it happen. But to do that, you have to understand that stuff doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. SciFi / Fantasy writers have to be more realistic that our political classes.

      From my original WIP:
      “… and compromised business, I mean, operations,” said Garcia. “You don’t watch the cash flow, you don’t get the jobs done. No first stages, no ops. Isn’t the Shrike our work horse?”

      “You sound like a friggin’ bean counter,” said Samuelson.

      “Why’s this so hard?” asked Garcia. “Stuff comes from somewhere. Trashing stuff means less stuff. We need the stuff for ops.”

      Or in the immortal words of Elon Musk: “If you don’t make stuff, there’s no stuff.”

      1. Yep. We’re sci-fi writers, not pampered politicals. We have to show our work constantly. Even the stuff we hide in the background has to have a foundation somewhere.

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