I think I’ve mentioned here before, a powerful image in Terry Pratchett’s Ankh Morpork books: the old throne stands, golden and unsat-on as a sign of the power of the old kings. But it turns out it’s just a thin sheet of gold over rotted wood.

The power of the left in most fields is like that. Listening (second hand, because otherwise I’d have to give up sleeping entirely, since it makes me so angry,) to the Randy Penguin (Yes, Penguin Random House. Yes, they hate being called Randy Penguin. That’s why I do it) depositions brought it all home to me.

Before I started writing for Baen I’d started getting the awful feeling the entire thing was hollow. There were groups of writers on the net, taking part in many author forums, and science fiction mailings lists and stuff. The problem was, they were all wanna be writers. Worse, when you’d been around for a while, you started getting the feeling none of them really read science fiction for FUN. They’d read … nominated stories, or stories that were being talked about, or they read magazines they hoped to sell to. But no one read just for fun. Which I still mostly did, though I was also a writer. (And was having trouble reading books because most of them weren’t fun. So I re-read a lot.)

And I started getting a feeling that the whole thing was hollow. There were all these publishing houses, and all these forums, but there was no one actually interested in the THING for the thing. It was a shell over a void.

I honestly was about to walk off in disgust when I more or less accidentally fell into Baen and found real readers. Okay, a lot of them write too. But there was still a substantial group of “just readers” and “have read all the canonical works” and….

But that is the only publishing house that still has what could be considered “readership” instead of a cloud of people trying to ingratiate themselves so they can break into publishing. And the Randy Penguin thing has just made it clear I was right.

Which makes me suspect I’m right too in the rest of the leftist dominated fields.

It’s not just that they do everything wrong and stupidly, prioritizing ideology over competence. It’s that they’ve already been doing it so long, there’s really no functional field anymore. It’s all hollow as writing was.

Our society is limping through on the…. memory of institutions that work.

Which means when it falls, it will all fall suddenly and terribly. Because if someone sits on the hollow throne, it will fall and fold.

And we have to be ready to…. build under, build over, build around, so it doesn’t all collapse.

It’s going to be hard, and we’d best get busy.

259 thoughts on “Hollow

  1. Something I’d like a state governor to do is ask the heads of every state agency and every state university how they would function if they suddenly had no more access to any federal money.

    And have them make a plan for that.

    1. I like that idea. I know my former employer, a private university, would have an extremely difficult time. They are roughly 85% tuition driven meaning that 85% of their operating capital comes from tuition. They also have an insane number of students on federal financial aid (outside of the ROTC kids who don’t count in that). I think the institution would close.

      1. I think about half the Universities out there would close, and virtually all of the no-admissions-standards colleges and trade schools would close…It’s all Federal money…

    2. Similar but different: in “Hope”, Neil Smith and Aaron Zelman imagined a libertarian president, and one of his first actions was to tell all government employees to stop what they were doing and explain why their job was authorized by the Constitution.
      That would be a neat thing; read the actual document and compare it with the real world, the difference is quite mindboggling.

        1. I don’t remember if the story reported that. Soon after, most of them were sent home.
          I’d recommend that book, by the way. Also the earlier one by that pair, “The Mitzvah”. Not really a prequel though there are some slight overlaps in characters, or at least references to names. The Mitzvah reminds me of two good movies I saw, one American, one Polish; I think Neil and Aaron’s take on the idea would make a good one also. (Robert Avrech, who wrote the screenplay for the US movie I mentioned, isn’t convinced…)

    3. The expression ‘federal money’ has always pissed me off. That’s our money!

      Doling out money to the people you took it from in the first place is not generosity.

    1. One of the sensationalist quotes that’s going around is that Randy Penguin said that half of 58k books sold less than a dozen copies. Not quite true, as one of the industry analysts from Nielsen says.

      But the real kicker being around 66% of books sell less than 1,000 copies in a year might be more telling once you get into the data.



      I know, never read the comments. But the first one has hard data that it’d be a shame to miss.

      1. Note that the publications include John Wiley, which is an academic press. Those tend to have a very limited print run. BTDT, print run of 1300-1500 for a history book. More specialized monographs and references might only have 500 or fewer printed.

            1. Or for use Software people (I could use the term Software Engineer, but as an Industrial Engineer it ain’t. Not to downplay software development, but is more like drug research than engineer) the actual useful new books. “Domain-Driven Design” and “Modern Software Engineering” are not cheap, but like my near worn out Kernighan and Ritchie “The C Programming Language” book, they are one-time purchases.

              1. I’m retired. The only way the C Programming book is leaving this house is if we move, or I’ve died, so they clean out my stuff. I’ve gotten rid (loaned) of other programming books. Not that one.

                1. I have a selection of the O’Reilly books, though I haven’t had to do much coding in a while. Most of the code I’ve generated since retirement has been shell-scripts. When I was using the Slackware Current (pre-release, with bleeding edge everything) for a system that really needed it, I had to update the kernels early and often. Thus, two scripts. One to create a new directory for the package and download the bits, another to verify and install. Turned a PITA into something fairly easy–once I got it debugged. 🙂

                  OTOH, the emacs book is languishing, especially since the commands got “fixed”. VI-improved is pretty usable.

                  I was very happy when the pre-release version got released. OTOH, I still need to automate the occasional updates. I’m now running 5 computers on that, with a 6th waiting for the round tuit. (Only 3 are on a LAN, so Sneakernet uber Alles.)

                  “Updates for nothing, and clicks for free.”

                2. “In an announcement that has stunned the computer industry, Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan admitted that the Unix operating system and C programming language created by them is an elaborate April Fools prank kept alive for over 20 years. Speaking at the recent UnixWorld Software Development Forum, Thompson revealed the following:…” http://www.gshotts.com/HUMOR/cisahoax.htm

                    1. Colored me surprised …. Um, No. NOT.

                      Hey. I know a lot of programmers have never touched C/C++. My job from ’96 to ’02, was based on that. It was a Windows program that generated C code for DOS handheld (Falcon, Symbol, Intermec), for non-C programmers. You know, “when DOS was dead”. Last update ’02. Shelved in ’07 or ’09 (I think) by the company who bought the bankruptcy court decimated portion of the company. (https://posguys.com/inventory-software_2/DataLogic-Universal-Program-Generator_278/) — Color me surprised it still comes up on a search!!!!! Yes, people. 100% guilty (from about 6 months prior to v1.0 release).

                    2. “Hey. I know a lot of programmers have never touched C/C++. My job from ’96 to ’02, was based on that. It was a Windows program that generated C code for DOS handheld (Falcon, Symbol, Intermec), for non-C programmers. You know, “when DOS was dead”. Last update ’02. Shelved in ’07 or ’09 (I think) by the company who bought the bankruptcy court decimated portion of the company. ”

                      What a small world, around 2006 I used that product to build a quick and dirty inventory control system for a client (they wanted something they could modify themselves after the fact). I then had to support it for the next ten years…. But it was a fun system to teach myself over a week or two and then build the data entry program with.

                    3. What a small world, around 2006 I used that product to build a quick and dirty inventory control system for a client

                      That was the target purpose. Never supported the new server based systems. Or any databases.

                      It was easy to learn and use. Marketing had it as a “Tool even non-programmers could use.” Um, yes and no. Oh the fun the true non-programmers forced me to prevent them from pulling. 100% a tool for programmers who did not know C coding.

                      It is a small world.

                    4. Not I.

                      I’ve written DEC BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN (II and IV and 77) and even Pascal for money, plus assorted shells and PERL and lots of SQL.

                      My C experience was mostly tweaking some existing program to do something a little different.

                      IMHO, C language has all the power of assembly language with all the clarity of assembly language – for most application programs, memory management is best left to compilers … Do note ‘most’ and ‘application’ there. If you’re porting your DBMS software to different OS, a ‘compatibility library’ in C seems to work a treat. Been there, watched it happen, admired the success. (Don’t ask me to write one of those!)

                    5. When I started on my MS in the late 1980s, the private U offered programming classes, but never anything in C. Pascal only. I had a bit of exposure to it, and learned to hate the language… (I had Fortran as an undergrad, and picked up Basic and as much Pascal as could be implemented on an 8080.)

                      A few years later, my employer bought test systems that were programmed in a mix of C and their specialized macros for running the hardware. Took an extension class from one of the bigger universities in/near Silicon Valley (don’t recall which one), and that got me started on C. I skipped C++. Used to be fairly good at Perl, though Python gives me a headache.

                      OTOH, there’s not much programming I have to do. I did have to tweak a .c file when the compiler barfed over a line of code in a program I was building from source. So many “standards”, I think.

                    6. Never had a class in C or C++. Learned on the job. C++ I did take a seminar that used it for controls (and ran with it in my project, but that is another story). But what C/C++ did was allow me to look at the Pascal/Basic/whatever-tool how it utilized pointers, when the tool explicitly stated no pointers are used. Wanna bet? Pointers and structures are always used, but they are hidden from the general user. Makes it a lot easier to hone in on what went wrong where if one knows that.

              2. I spent about forty years working as a computer programmer. Even the title changed to Software Engineer, it was never engineering. It was just a title change, like changing “Janitor” to “Sanitation Engineer” for the same job.

                1. computer programmer. Even the title changed to Software Engineer, it was never engineering. It was just a title change

                  Wags hands. There are definitely three parts from inception through release of software. Just because some of us were involved from start through and past release, there are definitely four integrated phases that should have at least 3 different labels: Design, **Engineered, and Programming/implementation. Trust me, if design and engineering are ignored, the 4th step, maintenance and enhancement can be a major pain. Ask me how I know. (Grumble, let me tell the stories … Spaghetti engineering and code is a cuss word for a reason.)

                  While my last job was programming/support (in no way did it merit Software Engineering title, prior twelve years, two jobs, did, not here), I did manage to do small re-engineering, within the framework, to keep me sane. Majorly evident when large extensive changes were handed to me. Whether my other co-programmers appreciated it, IDK, but no one complained or b****ed. In fact started seeing them work that way. All I know for sure was, looking at changes from an engineered view, took slightly longer, but made things a whole lot easier/faster when something changed later. And it always did.

                  ** Whether Engineered is the correct word, IDK. Not a word smith to come up with the code and file structuring it actually is.

                  1. In other fields, engineering is typically associated with the design, if you neglect manufacturing engineering which is slightly different.

                    WEll, akshully, there is a vast wealth of types and ways of engineering.

                    Consider the case of a little truss for a 2nd/3rd floor balcony or walkway for an apartment complex or hotel.

                    You can have a design engineer make some assumptions, and crank out a design, and produce blue prints. (Or a team.) The design engineer can wear other hats, or farm them out, with one of them being the engineer that talks to the tradesmen doing the fabrication. You need an engineer to negotiate with tradesmen, and make changes, because design engineers can do ‘genius’ things like ask the tradesmen to do stuff that the /tradesmen/ understand that they cannot do. So, tradesmen make it. Other people install it. Eventually the structure is torn down, or the truss breaks, and you have a forensic engineer look into whether it was supposed to break, and if anything went wrong.

                    Here, these design and fabrication engineers would basically be one type of mechanical engineer. Unless they have civil engineering training instead, which might make better sense, and is really similar theory.

                    But, this case is not actually how it would work, and actually how it would work lets me talk about more hats.

                    More commonly, you have a civil engineer, and maybe also a structural engineer, signing off on the building prior to construction. They don’t want to calculate the sun, the moon, and the stars, and so they specify buying standard stuff for which all the calculations are the same, or buying something that someone else built, for whom that someone else did calculations. So our civil engineer, or structural engineer of record, or someone under their direct supervision looks up advertisements for hotel balcony trusses, and eventually starts talking to ‘sales engineers’ about the calculations for a configuration of product from that manufacturer. Now, for a building, the chief engineer of record is supposed to pay enough attention to everything to be sure that calculations were done under their supervision, correctly, and make sense. But, the manufacturer has a several types of staff engineers. They have sales engineers, who work to information produced by design engineers. The also have manufacturing engineers, who work to information from design and sales engineers. One of the manufacturing engineer hats can be that fabrication negotiation. But, when you are producing at scale, a lot of manufacturing engineering is looking for defects, figuring out process changes to minimize defects, etc. (It is basically a whole discipline of its own, Industrial Engineering, which does include a few other neat tricks.) Anyway, manufacturer ships to construction site, others including engineers do an inspection, and it is installed, and after completion someone signs off on the building. For civil engineering, service times are very long, so structures are supposed to have regular engineering hands on to inspect degradation, and see to the appropriate maintenance. Which naturally leads back to ‘it is broken, bring out the forensic engineers’.

                    Another case is electrical engineering, say a circuit or PCB or even something that code can run on. You have designers. FAbrication may be challenging enough that there needs to be negotiation and change orders between the designers and the engineers serving fabrication. A PCB that has ICs which do processing can actually be pretty hard, especially for computer mother boards. You have the manufacturers supplying the ICs, which come with datasheets and maybe also huger files of information. You need digital logic engineers to make sure that the ICs are correct, and for some of the prototyping. You also may need to run an electromagnetics simulation of the PCB, to make that it should work, and do early debugging. Motherboards are especially bad, because they have many layers, they operate at a high enough frequency that the team needs RF engineers, and the IC chips take a lot of specialized knowledge.

                    There is very definitely engineering in the software world. I’m not sure the difference between the engineering and non-engineering software tasks, but back in the day there were places where certain software and hardware people absolutely had to be on the same page, and that meant engineering documents. Compilers and OS these days will still absolutely have engineering aspects. But, in other areas, you also have programmers who are absolutely engineers, and programmers who are absolutely not doing that sort of thinking.

                    Engineers, when talking essence as opposed to the set of everyone with a credential, know that things will break or not operate correctly, are conservative in the minimizing risk sense, where possible rely heavily on methods proven by the experiments of previous engineers, and where not possible do as much of their own experimentation as they can.

                    And, there is stuff in the software world that falls under engineering in terms of being so good a practice as to be mandatory. Non-programming engineers who learn programming without the ‘software engineering’ tribal knowledge tend to have issues with managing the software specific risks.

                    1. there is stuff in the software world that falls under engineering in terms of being so good a practice as to be mandatory.

                      Non-programming engineers who learn programming without the ‘software engineering’ tribal knowledge tend to have issues with managing the software specific risks.

                      Yes. 100%. I’ve never once bit cheek or tongue, while glaring at a manager that said “Oh she can whip that right out.” Not once. Honest. (Sigh, none of the programmers here believe me. Not one.)

                      What can I say. I hate/despise not being able to go into software that needs changes, for good reasons, and finding it difficult to change. If I know pieces are going to need regular changes, I engineered that in, so I wouldn’t have to go in and make changes. Made it harder on the outset. But a lot easier later.

                    2. ‘Sure, I can fix that in about an hour’ they’d say.

                      One of the conundra of software development is how to get management to decide – and document – how we know we’re done.

                      “We need to sell it right quick!” is a valid endpoint for the business short term. But that hardly ever included cost estimates for bug fixes at customer installations.

            2. I could write you alternate history for only $80/200 pages. If you don’t mind 16-point type, double-spaced, and 2 inch margins…

              Might even be more accurate than the younglings get in K-12 and Freshman History in most Universities…

              1. There are many historical… er, histories… in the public domain on Project Gutenberg and Google Books and free or inexpensive on Kindle.

                1. True. But if they’ve dropped out of copyright the history has been…ummm…reimagined since then, so I’m afraid they’d be useless for reference.
                  (Sarcastic? Me? Heaven forbid…)

        1. And the price tends to be commensurate with that. When I was a CS student in 1983 the book on compilers that EVERYBODY used was “Principles of Compiler Design” by Aho&Ullman. It ran me $55 at the school bookstore, probably one of the MOST expensive textbooks I bought. It’s modern equivalent Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools by Aho, Ullman et alia is ~165 dollars on Amazon, Likely it is $200 plus at my alma mater’s bookstore. Many advanced texts my younger daughter (Mechanical Engineer, Aerospace minor) bought were $300 and some of the rarer aerospace ones were $400+. Chemistry texts are similar $150 for the introductory course my wife teaches, $300+ for the Junior/Senior level Physical Chemistry text, and she’s using an older cheaper one.

          1. Academic publishing may be the place where the money comes from to squander on insane fiction publishing strategies.

            Jokes on them, universities may have screwed themselves over.

            1. Bob I’d think that but that some of the runs are probably VERY small. The academic presses also print monographs that get sold primarily to university libraries. Prices are also high, but although the relative rate of return ($30-40 of paper editing and other costs for a $400 book) is excellent, the number sold (say 1-2K/year for sake of argument) only yields ~350K. Even a catologue of 500 titles selling at that level is chump change for a business that employs so many people. For heavens sake the fricking book sales people are like a plague of locusts. There are at least 30 titles that could replace my wife’s favored introductory title and maybe 8-10 that could fill the requirements for Physical chemistry.

              1. Thing is, for undergrad, the edition from five – or even ten – years ago can fill the requirements in most disciplines. But there must be a “new and improved edition” every year, with maybe as many as a dozen paragraphs added (if that), in order to force the sale of new books.

                1. Yes the publishers INTENTIONALLY refresh the questions at the end of the chapter and fiddle with pagination and content constantly, Sometimes its good but usually its a technique to make sure the used market is useless.. My wife HATES that especially in the Physical Chemistry book. The stuff she teaches in undergrad was fixed in mid 20th century and although there’s lots of new stuff (especially Computational Chemistry and things like NMR ) that’s mostly graduate level material. The University she teaches at has a LOT of poorer and working students and keeping the costs down really can help them.

              2. A 200-page book would be between $50 and $90 for copy editing alone, at current page rates.

                On the other hand, you shouldn’t assume that all academic publications are copy edited. At least one large publisher has done marketing analysis and concluded that copy editing (by native English speakers, at any rate) doesn’t enhance the demand for publications and is unnecessary. A large share of sales is to libraries whose personnel don’t read the publications; requests for specific publications are made by faculty who want to cite them in their bibliographies, which is part of the game of academic credibility; and authors often hate being copy edited at all. So in terms of simple economic rationality copy editing can be dispensed with.

                1. William when they crank out a new version they’ll get it looked at by professors they knew used the text. Used to be a $150-250 honorarium was provided. These days you’re lucky if they give you a $50 amazon card. Even at the old rates most Profs only did it to have things to put in their CV for tenure/post tenure review. Now they don’t bother it’s too much work. As for a 200 page book most STEM texts are in the 350-500 page range, so effectively twice the cost.

                  1. That’s actually a different issue from copy editing; you’re talking about reviewing the content, not reviewing the language and typography.
                    My own experience as a copy editor has been with scholarly books and journal articles, not with textbooks, which are an entirely different market segment. I do occasionally read textbooks, but I’m much more likely to read scholarly books, as they’re more likely to focus on a specific topic I want to know about, such as the economic causes of the Industrial Revolution or the comparative structure and function of animal eyes (to cite two books that are on my shelves).
                    The amount I cited above was much too low: it was late and I got crossed up between page rate and hourly rate. My current clients would pay me between $500 and $880 for 200 pages of copy editing.

                    1. Given some of the stuff my wife corrected when she looked at the new texts (e.g. classic homonym swaps, actual errors in formulae both mathematical AND chemical) its not clear they ever went to a copy editor. Although some of the formula errors might be hard to see for someone without the Chemistry background as she pointed them out to me (high school chemistry only) and I often didn’t see them even though she was nearly facepalming over them. Others the formula formatting was just plain wonky and even I could see something was screwed up.

                    2. In the social science journals I’ve copy edited, I’ve learned to add up the percentages for different subsamples. You’d be surprised how often they don’t add up to 100%. Not just adding up to 99% or 101% because of rounding issues, but being substantially too low or high. “Author: Please clarify.”

                    3. William, thanks for clarifying that pricing. Fellow social science copyeditor here, and I nearly had a seizure over the idea of editing 200 typeset pages for $50-$90. That’s in “blink three times if you’re being held against your will” territory!

          2. Oy… I just checked a couple of my textbooks from the late ’70s and early ’80s:
            Physics, Halliday and Resnick (or as we referred to it, “The Holiday Redneck” 🙂 ), 3rd Edition, 1978, $25.95 list.
            Vector Mechanics for Engineers, Beer & Johnston, 3rd Edition, 1979, $29.95 list.
            Those are both from Anne Arundel Community College. The others, mostly from Hopkins, don’t have prices stamped in them, but IIRC the most expensive was less than $50. Sure glad I’m not paying today’s prices, for books or tuition; even Hopkins was only around $150 a credit hour when I graduated in ’86.

            1. Yup Halliday and Resnick was what I used in 1979. Also what my younger daughter used in 2014, though considerably modified. I think with the (required) online helps it went for like $175 new for her, $30 sounds in the right ballpark for my copy…

            2. My late 60s Anatomy and Physiology book was $11. When I retook the class in late 2000s the book was $135 (much better book, IMO); current book at that school is $115 plus a $30 supplement.

        2. yeah, but if what I’m hearing is right, because of the great bookstore closing of 2020, the average sell through for midlist right now is 1k to 2k copies. For commercial.
          Also, “trade” SHOULD NOT include scholastic.

          1. Right they kind of cheat with a fixed market 🙂 . Man I used to live for the Scholastic flyers once a quarter in grammar school. I’d get a whole $3 to spend (big money, books were 35-75c each 🙂 ) . The flyers were long gone when my girls were that age but Barnes And Noble and Borders had AWESOME kids sections in the late 90’s and early 2000’s..

            1. The flyers are still here, you just have to get on the right list, I htink a lot of schools don’t want to bother with the book sales. I got them for YEARS until I went in and specifically asked them not to send me the catalog for every single grade I’d ordered any book from.

              And Scholastic (TM) is, I believe, counted in “trade”– it’s the direct-sales-to-school that aren’t.

              (Since I brought up that I bought from them– the fiction section has started pushing woke and sexual stuff to littles, so we stopped ordering from them, this year.)

        3. So true. So blasted true….

          Yes, I’ve been looking up some rather specialized history books. Woe. Guys, you need to move to print on demand and make it cheaper, there are geeks out here who want them all….

          1. I really wonder sometimes at the printing houses. They have HUGE back catalogs. Anything they’ve printed/reprinted since the 80’s should have markup somewhere (unless they’re idiots, which they seem to be) that could be tweaked to feed POD and .pub and .azw formats. Lots of stuff I have on dying paperback copies I’d LOVE to have electronic but they just don’t do it, or if they do they charge full hardback price for the kindle version. Cut the back catalog to 1/2 – 1/3 paperback list price and they’ll (figuratively 🙂 ) fly off the shelf. For example Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer (and the rest of the New Sun) which I just listened to on audible. I have a manky old paperback from shortly after it was published. Right now used copies is the only way to get it. It may be a rights issue, he died in 2019 so maybe folks are still fighting over that. It’s like it hurts their souls to be a business that actually makes money…

            1. Oh man, yes. I had to give up a lot of my books from the 80s ’cause of a move and family… messes. There was some awesome SF and fantasy in there, it’d sell again!

              (Plus when you really poke history the good books reference even older history books, and finding something from the 1920s… augh.)

              1. Part of the B&N shift– which makes them super bad evil, now– is that they started shifting to back-catalog books that are proven sellers, instead of pushing fashionable author demographics.

                Which I found out AFTER I was delighted to see big omnibusses of Drizzt books at our local one. 😀

                  1. At Least during the 90s/early 2000’s Borders seemed to have an interesting policy where they would let some of their sales folk talk to customers and use their own interests to mark out books. The Nashua, NH store had excellent Sci-fi and Computer sections. Mostly because Nashua had 3-4 major engineering firms (Digital, Sanders, Oracle) providing a huge draw. B&N seemed to mostly sell latest and greatest from the publishers with a VERY thin back catalog. You could tell B&N in Nashua was ignored the dust on shelves hinted no one ever touched the books It was a nice store although it took the physical place of the old Turkey farm restaurant and it was missed by the locals and the leaf peeping tour buses 🙂 .

          2. There’s an archaeology of technology reference book that is commanding four figures used for the reprint, because the publisher won’t reprint it again. I don’t know if there is a rights problem (not likely) or they just can’t be bothered despite lots and lots of pleading. SIGH.

        1. My knowledge of the field is more limited (and probably outdated by now), thus I bow to superior experience. And yeah, they obviously do obfuscate. Trad pub is dying. Even if amazon implodes somehow, another will rise up to replace it.

          They’ve been trying to stuff the toothpaste back into the tube for too long. And drinking in the intoxicants of wokeness, the same. But what else are they going to do? Admit they were wrong?

          Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

    2. The big one is that the CEO being deposed swore that half the books published by his house sell twelve or fewer copies.

      He’s lying, of course.
      But there’s enough truth to it that he can make the statement in court without fear of perjury or contempt of court.
      (Or the system is that corrupt, he knows it, and has spent millions paying off politicians. I can’t rule it out.)
      And the people trying to soft pedal the statement have been going “ACTUALLY, half of newly published novels sell under 100 copies. That’s totally different. “

    3. Just google it on YouTube, lots of details and lots of editorials about it. Gets you all the sides (or most of the sides)

      1. Traditionally Penguins eat herring. I suspect they will find S&S particularly dry and unpalatable.

    1. The rail strike may be back on….White House allegedly trying to set up alternative ways of delivering things like chlorine (for water treatment plants).
      And what happens if these ineffable…..folks….run the strategic oil reserve dry?

      1. The WH announced they would refill the strategic petroleum reserve when the price hit $80. I don’t know about you, but I always tell the market where I’m going to buy in size and, thus, where the support is. But that’s just me, Mr. Vegas.

        They really are that stupid.

        1. Given who you’re talking about, I don’t think we’re in any danger. Oil would first need to drop to $80, after all.

          1. Nah. Unless Weimar, oil will drop like a stone as the recession hits demand. High prices cause low prices. That’s actually their justification for the Biden oil put, someone on their staff has looked at the history. Gasoline spending over the summer was down substantially and only the Russia thing is keeping prices high.

            All the I banks have been wondering why we haven’t had a string of 3 sigma days, we’re having one now with S&P off 4.44% That’s a 3.7 sigma day with 15 minutes till the close. Buckle up buttercup and huzzah for long duration puts.

                1. It was spent trying to eat, sleep indoors, and get to work. Consumer credit went into orbit too.

                  Things are bad. Jobs too actually when you get past the payrolls report. All that part time work is a side effect of the way they calculate it and the truly massive adjustments and later restatements that it includes. ADP finally rebuilt their jobs number to use actual payroll data rather than trying to be BLS light. They show Payroll numbers collapsing over the summer. the IRS knows the whole thing, but isn’t telling anyone, yet.

                  September & October are the traditional months for crashes, — there’s good reasons for that — just in time for the. Midterms. the ‘08 crash made Obama President, let’s see how this one plays out.

                  Slowly at first, then all at once.

                  1. Not that it is huge numbers but just was told my last employer, who hired 6 new employees just as I retired (way understaffed to begin with, but not that understaffed, hired 4 just to replace me). Is now down 8 employees. All 6 of the new hires have quit, or been fired. Plus three who retired out (one less happily by all accounts), one was the boss, who sold the company (probably doesn’t count, but …), they were 70. Company has 5 employees total (at least this “division”, company is now owned by a company that picks up orphaned software firms). Manager (who sells, trains, can program and phone support if in office), two programmers, one IT dedicated person, and one extremely/very novice IT/programmer/support. Which is all kinds of “Wow”.

                    Son’s employment is “slowing down”. But not drastically. It is commercial building based.

                  2. Anecdotal, but I’ve been tracking the number of applicants Linkedin reports for jobs in my field (mechanical engineering) since spring. In May, I was seeing a dozen applicants per posting, now it’s 100+, and faster, too.

              1. As I asked my bank, “Why should I leave my money in your savings account to earn a nickel’s interest in the last month on multi-thousand dollars, and have you refuse to say you wouldn’t steal it from me at the drop of a hint from the President? I could earn more on my money by keeping it under my mattress and scooping up the spare change as I retrieve it.”

                  1. And inflation at 12% means you are losing 8% a year in the bank. (Note including tax on interest). In times like these, unfortunately the Best thing to do is spend it all before it’s worthless. Buy tangible things that last and you might keep some of it for later.

                    1. Up to a point. It’s still better than the bank or putting it under the mattress especially should the crash come and The crash will come with the deflation and low interest rates that accompany it. high prices cause low prices. they’re calling it demand destruction now since depression is such an ugly, election losing, word.

                      You could buy the yellow metal I suppose. Mine suffered an unfortunate boating accident but feel free to try and hide it from the federales should it’s use become necessary. At the moment the yellow metal is getting cheaper by the day.

                      There’s a shortage of dollars you see. I doubt you’ll believe that last, but there is a great shortage of US dollars for collateral. That’s why the dollar keeps getting more expensive and gold and other currencies cheaper.

                      Should the dollar fail there’s always seed potatoes, land to grow them on, muck to fertilize them — they like muck — and a shotgun to keep other people from eating your potatoes.

                    2. THIS BGE. A house of cards cannot stand when the wind blows. “My precious” fell in the Florida swamp and maybe some troll or halfling will find it in a thousand years. (LOL) There’s a lot of things you should add to that tangibles list, like meds and seeds. You can freeze many seeds and most will last years in storage. (Like that seed bank in Norway). Same thing with cooking oil, butter, etc. Hell, I’m already making a 100% return on my “Butter” investments! LOL Seriously, I think many on this board know what’s coming, so this gives hope we will make it through the elite’s “Hunger games” plan.

                    3. “You can freeze many seeds and most will last years in storage. (Like that seed bank in Norway). Same thing with cooking oil, butter, etc.”

                      Freeze? with what? You’re assuming electricity to run the freezer, having a working freezer, etc., none of which is guaranteed.

                    4. SNelson: The freezer stops the clock is all and such efforts won’t last forever, so at some time, life will have to revert back to a new normal, whether 18th century or 20th century living. Frozen olive oil, etc. will never go rancid. Of course, a generator running about one hour a day will keep a freezer cold. but eventually fuel will run out unless you have some solar/alt power. You can take other “storable foods” and put in there too, like Jerky, dried sausages, cheese blocks, etc. and it again infinitely extends the shelf life, but the shelf life clock starts when the freezer dies. Also, to store can goods, keep cool (to extend those “best by dates”) and very DRY (to prevent rust). I run a dehumidifier constantly. Every 10 degrees F cooler storage than room temp will about double the “best by” dates. As for “best buy” dates, just look at each can and check for rust, dents, or exploding contents when opening. Only things I have ever go bad so far are some tomato paste (acid ate the can) and some can milk (rust through).

                      There used to be a motto “Be Prepared”, but that group went down the “woke” memory hole long ago…

            1. The market still has a long way to fall to reach the pre pandemic 2020 high and the price / earnings ratio is still high by historical standards. Just saying. The Reader’s admittedly cloudy crystal ball expects another 15% – 20% decline.

              1. I don’t forecast but there’s a very good chance that 15-20% more will be just the start. S&P is only 18% off its high with the current cycle low 6% lower still. The “quality” hasn’t moved yet and there’s been no capitulation.

                I would be surprised to see it go down 30% from here and farther still if something cracks — China comes to mind but revolution and war in Russia can’t be ruled out and even scarier, the possibility of hunger riots in the developed world, with all that entails, can’t be ruled out either, How about a cold winter in Germany? Third world is toast already.

                markets really don’t like uncertainty.

                  1. I just looked: financial ‘advisors’ seem to converge on ‘six months of expenses saved (for a rainy day)’. Sometimes the advice is for 8 months, as that seemed to be the time to get a new job if one lost his/hers.

                    With current levels of uncertainty, I wonder if that should not be cash-on-hand.

                1. And the only real certainty I see is that there will be more uncertainty in the near future. Far future I would not even think to speculate on. Things are too chaotic. All of those place have the potential to initiate drastic shifts at the drop of a hat.

                  The uncertainty should be cause for caution and concern in everyone. But we all know that certain actors will be cheerleading the apocalypse right up until it hits home to them specifically.

                2. Uncertainty freezes liquidity.

                  If the GME soap opera proved anything, it’s that the stock market is a shell game, and is clearly not run for the benefit of the average investor.

                  But it’s a rare magician that can play three card monte once the cards start getting stapled to the table.

                  When the tide goes out, it’s likely everyone will lose their shorts.

                  I am not a financial expert. I do not even know the full bounds of my ignorance with respect to the field.
                  Like, “why did the stock market keep going up as the Boomers retired and pulled their money out?”

              1. Big moves. Leaving aside fat tails, which you shouldn’t but still, 3 sigma is roughly a 0.13% probability. The S&P 500 finished down 4.32% on the day. That’s 3.6 sigma or odd of 6485 to one, Assuming 250 trading days a year we should only see a move that large once In 25 years.

                The fact they we see these moves much more often is what fat tails are (ish). According to the probability, we should only have seen a 4% down day about 4 times in the last hundredish years. We’ve had 141 days that finished down at least 4.32%. …. Yes I counted them, I’m a nerd and it’s my business ….

                Oh, and they tend to come in bunches.

              2. Yes it’s statistics. Sigma is the symbol used for standard deviation (STD).

                Ugly technical explanation follows:
                You take any random data set. The data always varies of course, so you calculate the variance–the sum of the squared difference value from the mean divided by the number of values to give you the normal fluctuation of random data. You square the variance, to get the absolute value of the difference (so the signs don’t cancel each other out and just measure the change, ie, -5 is the same distance from the mean as +5) The STD is the square root of the variance to give you a comparable number to those you were measuring to begin with.
                End ugly technical explanation from my 40 year old statistics training.

                If any one number (or set of numbers) is within one standard deviation (sigma) of the average (mean), it’s considered just random noise. The usual criteria for identifying statistical results as significant is 2 STDs away from the mean. Researchers usually agree that whatever is different about a set of numbers that is more than 2 STDs from the mean signifies that whatever you’re measuring about those values is real, not random. So 3 STDs makes statisticians go, “Wow, that happened!”

                1. It depends on your discipline. In the social sciences, the accepted standard is that a result should have less than a 5% probability of coming about by random chance as a fluctuation. On the other hand, in some branches of physics, experimenters report probabilities of less than 0.1%.

                  One of the scandals of social science is that you can run a test multiple times, look for those “significant” results (one time in twenty you’ll get them!), and report them as meaningful findings.

            2. So I’m hearing rumors they’re going to put net zero emissions and emissions requirements tracking on wells soon. Sounds like the expectation is that a lot of the smaller producers are basically going to have to close shop, and the larger producers scale back significantly.

              Given that all of this tracking will also require some sort of tracking and reporting gear, and given I’m seeing 1y+ lead times on basic industrial electronics, we may see aajor production crash when the rules hit.

        2. As if they can tell the market what to sell for–the US is going to be caught in a short squeeze…

          1. They largely can’t (although they may try, see the G7 price cap discussion on Russian crude) set the price of an internationally traded good. They could more easily force US producers to a set price, with the inevitable destruction of companies and capacity that would entail. Maybe even a windfall profits tax against those hoarders and wreckers and price gougers.
            (Most of the previous sentence should have scare quotes, but my strategic quotation mark reserve is bare.

            But the easiest thing, is just not refill the SPR – no one is going to lose an election by kicking that particular can down the road.
            The rest of us, though, can only put off so much driving, and can’t put off winter.

            1. Heard on the news today that the mal-Administration has announced they plan to refill the SPR, which along with the impending nationwide railroad strike will also drive gas prices up. And that’s even before the Euros start freezing in the dark this winter.

              Gas at my local station went up ten cents a gallon overnight.

        3. Given their stated hatred of petroleum, it is not implausible to think that their goal is to exhaust the strategic petroleum reserve as part of their campaign to “force” conversion to other forms of energy.

  2. mrs hoyt you have talked alot about the big houses and their practices – I personally know nothing of this world (though I really like Baen) so – how do they stay in business?

    1. Each house manages to maintain at least a few authors who sell really well, and have broad appeal within their genre. Brandon Sanderson is an example at Tor.

      1. The thing that boggles my mind is…WHY is he still at Tor? He’d still be raking in the cash and one of the best sold authors ever if he went independent–AND–he’d be keeping more of the income from his books too. But I suppose they’re providing sufficient incentives to keep him around? It just doesn’t make sense for new authors to even shop their books to these old houses though.

        I can see staying with Baen. At least there you have a dedicated readership and a great website.

        1. Sanderson is one of the big names. He can command a much better advance than your average midlist author because his books have a near ironclad guarantee that they’ll not just sell out the advance, but sell out massively. Tor would be damned fools not to protect the goose that lays the golden egg.

          Thus Sanderson is treated not just differently than other authors, but MUCH differently. He’s not going to see his calls ignored by the editor or wonder if his book is going to receive any marketing at all.

          Big publishers are gamblers. They pick a bunch of authors and place their bets that the market will pick them up and make those books profitable. The big sellers are so wildly profitable that they pay for vast quantities of “bad bets” that don’t sell as well.

          That’s the ideal, though. In actuality, they’re all riddled with the disease of political correctness, rotten to the core. Thus you get ridiculous advances for what amount to vanity press books with the right (left) political message and caring more about the author and their skin color and politics than their demonstrated storytelling ability which means guaranteed bad bets that are paid out handsomely.

          The reason they are able to do this is because, again, the big sellers are just that damned profitable. Well that, and they likely spend less on their shrinking midlist authors that were barely keeping their heads above water.

            1. Indeed. Biggest novel kickstarter ever. And may he continue! Not every author can do that, but I firmly believe that the more good stories that exist, the more readers will appear.

              And some of those readers just might read my stories, too.

          1. “Big publishers are gamblers. They pick a bunch of authors and place their bets that the market will pick them up and make those books profitable. The big sellers are so wildly profitable that they pay for vast quantities of “bad bets” that don’t sell as well.”

            Maybe. I’ve had the feeling for at least fifteen years that Big Publishing is preferring to gamble on few guaranteed blockbuster sure things, and minimize the number of side bets that don’t sell well. It’s like Hollywood in the last couple of decades – everything stacked on the sure-fire blockbuster, that is just like twenty or so sure-fire blockbusters that came before it.

            1. THIS. And they keep a number of people in midlist, deliberately, because the numbers an be fudged on reporting. Yes, I have reason to suspect this SPECIFICALLY from Randy Penguin.
              I can write about it, but it’s a post.

            2. “The big sellers are so wildly profitable that they pay for vast quantities of ‘bad bets’ that don’t sell as well.”

              That’s not unique to publishing; take a look at Big Pharma and the development of new drugs. Dollar numbers are just a bit higher, of course… 😉

        2. He sort of did go Indy with his “secret project” thing that broke records over at Kickstarter.

          Thing is, though, if he goes Indy then he basically needs to become his own publishing house. All of the logistical stuff that Tor does for him would now devolve down to him. It’s entirely possible that it’s just a hassle he’d rather not deal with.

          Plus, as Dan Lane noted, Tor will bend over backwards for him. If Sanderson calls them and says, “I’ve decided to delay Stormlight Book 5 for three years because I just had a great idea for a new series, and want to get them out first,” then Tor will say, “Alright. We’ll print up the press releases. By the way, what’s this new series going to be about?”. And before anyone claims otherwise, that appears to have been exactly what happened with the fourth and final Wax and Wayne book (the Mistborn sequel series), which got delayed so that he could do the entire Skyward trilogy first.

          They bend over backwards to work with him because they don’t dare lose him.

          1. He has enough on his plate as it is. He recently mentioned that his various business ventures are starting to eat into his writing time, enough to slow Stormlight 5 about a year from what he had intended. He has been diversifying with all sorts of gaming tie-ins and products based on his work, and wants to get them into movies or television, but “done right”, which is hard to do. Producers are just as bad as publishers if not worse, (because there are a lot more people who want to get their grubby hands on the final product) and then there are the creative difficulties (because visual media are so much different than books.) Although he seems to be taking steps toward independence from Tor, I don’t think he wants to cut ties yet.

            1. I’ve just binged two season one of two longtime book series:

              .1. Dark Wind (AMC), Leephorn & Chee, Navajo police on the reservation. -> Tony Hillerman

              .2. Joe Pickett (Paramount+) by C.J. Box. First season based on Open Season and Winter Kill, books 1 and 3 of the series. Pretty much followed the books except the Land Baron is not a man, but a woman, her two sons. Following the books includes the reason for all the turmoil, who gets justice, and who doesn’t because can’t be proven.

              I haven’t read all the books in each of the series. Read more of the Pickett books, including the first ones, than the Leephorn Navajo series.

              Now I’m working on 1843 (pre Yellowstone series) (Paramount+). Haven’t read any books this is based off of, if there are any. I haven’t watched any of the Yellowstone series other than a few early episodes. Just couldn’t get into that one.

                1. It premiered on AMC and AMC+ on June 12, 2022, with the first season consisting of six episodes.[1] After its premiere, the series was renewed for a six-episode second season, which will premiere in 2023.

                  So streaming on AMC+. Although did see season 1 ready to restart on AMC, as repeat this Friday.

          2. ALMOST.
            Going indie is trivial work. OTOH he’ll miss a lot of the bookstore distribution (I do.) So a lot of the “Blockbuster consumers” that MIGHT be a substantial part of his base.

    2. Cynical souls might tell you they are to whitewash bribes by making them advances for books, and thus are propped up.

      1. Not that cynical. Look at the advances for certain (mostly) left-wing politicians, though some of them might sell books to certain people for virtue signalling, or through fear of fatal annoyance from the author.

  3. Yes this. I’m seeing so many places and systems that I had thought were functional, I have been finding have no there there at all.

    The people who knew how to do the job, or were actually doing the job have either left or stopped caring. And there has to be a point when the plates stop spinning. One just can’t live on reserves forever.

  4. “… prioritizing ideology over competence…” Hear, hear! Yes, this is what ‘Big NYC Publishing (whore) houses do. They are whores to the new shiny culture of woke horseshit. Not just the publishers, but the mags as well, many if not most of them. I have tried very hard over the years to break through, but … (Yeah, I know, some folks will say, ‘write a better book.’ Bullshit. Every book I write is better. That’s not the problem.

    Having said all that, I also have a big beef with ‘Conservatism Incorporated.’ When a ‘traditional or conservative, or normative’ author finally realizes that they are absolutely NEVER going to get past the phalanx of femmi-gurl and femmi-boi interns and acquisition editors in NYC BIG PUBLISHING, and he or she turns to Conservatism Incorporated, or even lone conservative authors who have made it, he or she, or I’ll just go with I, I found out that they ‘could give a shit.’ Conservative (many of them) authors seem to operate on the principle of “I got mine, you get yours,’ or, ‘everyman and women for themselves.’ And you have to give the Left wokies this, they are fanatically loyal to their cult, while on our side, it’s a very different story. After ‘self-publishing’ my last book (self-publishing because I tried for about two months to find a publisher and they all had a reason why they could not even look at it, and that includes a couple of so-called conservative presses)… so, yeah, after self-publishing Escape From the Future and Other Stories, I went on a campaign. I bought thirty copies and methodically sent out, unsolicited, thirty books to notable conservatives on the web and TV and radio broadcast types as well. Three folks responded. One with a boiler plate ‘thanks but no thanks,’ one with a promise to read the book when they finished remodeling their house– still haven’t heard from him, and one, a brilliant academic who you all have read and seen on Tucker, who thanked me for my book and said that maybe after he was finished his latest project he would get back to me.

    But it seems it was all for naught.

    Now that I’ve brought everyone down and angered some, I’ll sign off. Actually, I’m still writing something, as, despite everything being shitty, I am a writer.

    Have a nice day, or what passes for that in these trying times.

    1. I think you may not be looking in the right places for support and assistance if this is the response that you’re receiving. Try 40DayPublishing. They’ll be more than happy to help you. You will have to pay them for their work, but you keep your copyright and your royalties, and it’s a good trade-off.

        1. I skim that almost every day, and frequently read posts, and I’m not an author. The info is interesting, and frequently offers insight into the “trials and tribulations” of writing.

    2. Sending out author copies, especially to celebrities (even minor celebrities), is necessarily about taking a chance… and not expecting anything to come of it.

      People send them lots of things. They send them books of varying quality. A lot of them are Empress Theresa or Eye of Argon quality.

      Now, obviously, it would be great if somebody really championed your books. So it’s worth a try, every now and then. But if it doesn’t work, you can’t take it as something personal. Because you don’t know these people. Heck, I don’t even expect people I know well to champion my books, because everybody has a lot going on.

      For example, I just fell asleep while leaving this comment. And then my laptop started to turn off. Not because I didn’t care, not because I wasn’t paying attention

      1. All right, my laptop is just toying with me now. Didn’t even let me end my sentence.

        I’m not saying not to advertise your books. I’m just saying to pick part of the wall, do some stuff with it… but also treat it like spending money at a casino. Don’t spend anything you can’t afford to lose, and don’t regret what you do lose. Experiment and see if it helps.

        But yeah, putting out more books seems to be what helps sell books.

        Who knows. Nobody really knows anything about advertising. Not for sure.

        1. I don’t know anything about the quality of these… Empress Theresa or Eye of Argon. Never read them. But I don’t ‘take it personally’ in the sense that I think it only happens to me. My point is and was, that the literary Left stick together cultishly, while the literary Right seem to believe that to extend a helping hand is a bad thing. Granted, this doesn’t mean that EVERY right-winger is selfish, but it sure seems to me like many of them that have made it are. There are exceptions. Actually, one Indie author, Hans Schantz, is a good example of that. He is putting on a sale, put it together himself, of hundreds of Indie books.

          Anyway, thanks for your comment.

          1. No. The literary left have ALREADY taken over the houses. There are few “openly right” people who make it, and most of them don’t have the power you think they do.

          2. Can’t speak as to Empress, but Eye is so amazingly awful that there are a pass-it-around readings at conventions. Someone starts reading it aloud and the text is handed off to the next reader when the current reader can no longer contain laughter at the sheer absurd awfulness of it. I never sat through an entire reading or the entire length of what time there was. I think my record for just listening is, at the upper limit, two minutes.

            1. I’m getting a mental image of Barbara reading slush pile submissions in “Princess of Wands”. 🙂

      2. Many years ago at a Worldcon, someone produced a manuscript of Eye of Argon, and we played the game of seeing how long a reader could keep a straight face. Yes, we were reading aloud. I don’t think anyone managed more than a paragraph. I got maybe two lines out.
        We had to quit about three or four pages in because everyone’s sides hurt too much from laughing.

        1. Thing about Eye of Argon is, once you make it past the turgid prose, there’s actually the bones of a halfway-decent story under there. There’s still a lot wrong with it, don’t get me wrong — the author’s over-reliance on his thesaurus is just the first of its problems — but despite all the problems the story has with spelling, grammar, vocabulary, characterization, and pacing… it’s still enjoyable to read. Sure, it reads like an amateurish first attempt at Conan fanfiction (because, well, that’s exactly what it is). And yet there’s an underlying structure that the author isn’t quite good enough to flesh out, and you can actually follow the plot.

          Sometime, some author with actual skill and experience is going to start a new Eye of Argon challenge: take the text and make it an actually readable story which, and this is the challenge part, makes the fewest possible changes to make it readable. (Vocabulary, spelling and grammar fixes would have to not count in this — but anything that makes it recognizably not the same sentence as the original would count). I suspect it would be lots of fun reading the attempts at this challenge.

          1. It’s been a few years since I read the piece in question. But from what I recall of it, you’re right- there was a story buried under all the foundational issues of basic English. I’ve been subjected to worse reading newbie authors here and there. And those whose first (or second, or third) language is not English.

            I think the main thing about those basics is that they’re barriers between the reader and the story. If the reader has to work to get at the story beneath all the crap grammar, inconsistent spelling, odd word choices, and ill fitting descriptions, they’re going to bail. Reading for fun is supposed to be fun.

            If you hang about places like Scribblehub, Royal Road, or Wattpad very long and post your stories there, chances are you’ll get asked to review swap or something very like before too long. The stories run the gamut from “publishable, could make decent midlist somewhere” to “NOPEnopenope I’mouttahere!” Eye of Argon is far from the worst I’ve seen (that little gem belongs to a translated Chinese isikai that I would very much like to forget exists).

            The thing about all those bad pieces is sometimes the author knows that it is bad, and wants to improve. Those, I think, are salvageable. The ones that insist with a straight face that “you just don’t get it,” or try to argue with you, those aren’t worth engaging with. Sometimes reading other people’s work tells you what’s wrong with your own.

            Mine needs more depth to the characters, better dialogue, and better pacing to the plot. It’s not quite the clumsy mess it was when I was starting out. And I can see that same sort of progression, like geological strata as the chapters proceed and the author gets a handle on this whole writing thing.

            The way to improve is literally to keep writing, and keep learning how to craft better storytelling in all the aspects. My first story was a straight up high fantasy adventure. It was horrible. Worse than bad. My next ones were a bit better. Then I went down the hole into horror fic that will never again see the light of day.

            If my horrible, talentless crap can rise to the level of readable on a slow day when the reader is already bored to tears, then nearly anyone can. Forget talent. Work ethic is what matters.

      3. I don’t have a lot of time to read people’s books. I sit up and pay attention when Dan tells me he loves someone’s books, and it’s one of my people: Becky Jones, Dorothy Grant or Pam Uphoff, for instance.

        1. Well, you’re certainly an exception in my opinion. You let me post on your blog and you’ve allowed me to promote my books here. I certainly did not have you in mind when I opined above. 🙂

            1. One final note on my comment at the top. I’ve long been a believer in Praise God and pass the ammunition (or, in my case, review copies). And strangely enough, while I was responding to comments to my comments, I got an email from someone in the Culture Biz, who is on the right, and openly. He has my book, has thread two thirds of it, and plans on interviewing me about it and my writing and posting it somewhere. So, there it is. For now I’m a happy chappy.

  5. Hey… did you know the Septuagint version of Job has extra material?

    Gotta love the extended play versions….

    Also, “chastisement” or “correction” gets translated into Greek as “paideia,” education. (Of course, in the ancient world, education included getting a lot of seat of the pants application of lashes or the teacher’s pointer stick….)

  6. Off topic but every time I hear about that throne, I wonder what is the story behind it?

    One thought is that one of the Ankh Morpork kings hadn’t been paying his bills to the Dwarfs and when he ordered a new throne, they sent him a gold-plated wooden throne.

    Of course, the “rotting wood” is because it wasn’t the “best wood” available, and nobody took care of it. 😉

  7. I remember reports about John Norman at cons in the 1990s, ranting about how feminist political-correctness had taken over publishing and was blackballing him and his GOR novels. At the time he sounded like a loon. Then he started sounding like a loon in a coal mine.

      1. It’s that whole Grammerci (sp?) “long march through the institutions” idea. Don’t have a revolution with poles that you can rally around until the very end, just change things a little bit at a time so that at the end you don’t know where you are.

        It doesn’t hurt that publishing jobs-for the longest time, according to one friend-were avocational jobs in New York, and the New York “intellectual” scene resembles nothing more than one of the most vicious lobster pots you could imagine. This blends over in the whole “scene” there. Especially since they now have an intellectual basis of demonstrating their ideological purity, rather than the absolute need of making money.

        1. Gramsci, I think, from Antonio Gramsci’s work on Hegemony. He theorized that the capitalist ruling class created a cultural hegemony which defined things like common sense by imposing their own values and norms on it such that no one even questioned it.

          ESR wrote a piece on Gramscian Damage back in ’06. I read it sometime after I left college. The “long march through the institutions” was the original idea of Rudi Dutschki, a German political activist and compatriot of Herbert Marcuse, but Gramsci’s “war of position” looks an awful lot similar.

          The purges for insufficient purity (the lobster pot) seem to be the inevitable effect that socialism and socialist/Marxist/Communist (all the same, essentially) brings about. Just as the demand for racism exceeds the supply, the demand for sacrifices does when there are few to no right-of-Lenin foes to stab through the wallet.

    1. Michael Moorcock threaten not to show up to Worldcon/LoneStarCon 2 in San Antonio in ’97 if Norman was present if my recall is correct. Made a big stink online and in the trade mags. Overall made such a dick of himself, I decided not to read anymore of his dreck.

      This was a convention I was supposed to go to, but my friend who was really really into Norman’s work decide not to go and I didn’t want to pay the cost for a room on my own. Plus this was deep into the era of big con cliches and political correctness. The smaller DFW cons were nicer.

      1. My wife and I went to one day (Saturday) of that Con. We weren’t particularly interested in either Norman or Moorcock, and we didn’t know about the online drama. We went just because it was WorldCon, and we didn’t live far from San Antonio. We drove down for the day, attended a few panels, had fun wandering through the dealer’s area, and then drove home that evening.

        On the drive home we heard the news on the radio that Princess Diana had been in a car accident in Paris. Not long after we got home it was being reported that she had died.

        1. Michael Moorcock… said that his morality was offended by… John Norman?

          Seriously, who has a hero going around destroying souls? Who has a hero who has drug powers? Who has a novel about Queen Elizabeth I’s problems all being saved by getting some sex? (And I don’t recall that she was all that willing, and possibly pirates.)

          Michael Moorcock, moral arbiter. Yeah.

          1. The only Moorcock book I ever read was “Behold the Man”; when I finished it my thought was “Well, that’s over”. I suppose it was technically OK, but definitely not to my taste.

    2. To be fair, Norman is a loon, just not about the conspiracy to blackball him. I read the first three or four GOR novels when I was a young impressionable lad and they were fun sexy planetary romance. After that they became kind of mechanical, and then they got very very tedious, because they were no longer adventure novels but lengthy disquisitions on some very silly ideas. Even the sex scenes got boring, and I say that as the 16-year-old me.

      But SF/F is full of bad philosophy and he shouldn’t have been blackballed.

  8. Yep, I totally agree. They’re all hollow and ripe for collapse unless somehow, some way, somebody manages to get in there and shore some of them up. I think academia with few exceptions will collapse. I think we’ll see lots of smaller and/or less well-run universities and colleges close down. We’re starting to see fewer PhDs produced, not because faculty are getting realistic about encouraging their students to “you’re so good at this, you should go to grad school!” but because students are realizing there are no jobs in the PhD fields with the exception of some areas of engineering or some such. PhDs in biology and chemistry can still get industry jobs, but everybody else? Not so much. So they’re leaving grad programs and going elsewhere. Others, like me, are leaving academia after becoming faculty, for other fields… the most popular one being real estate.

    It is going to be one hella ride that’s for sure!

    1. My nearest brother is a literal rocket scientist with a grad degree, no PhD. So you don’t even need one for a job that is the very trope of “highly intelligent profession.”

      1. Traditionally in STEM the PhD had one purpose, research/teaching. The Masters was the working extension for extending beyond the Bachelors. The Masters COULD also be the booby prize for doctoral candidates in any field who had completed the course work and residency, but couldn’t get the thesis done/through the committees (ABD All But Dissertation 🙂 ). This could be a REAL issue as sometimes local politics could get ugly and the wokeness has not helped this at all.

        1. Yep, found most of the working engineers at the HP Semiconductor group were either BS or MS. Some of the R&D and/or top level engineers had the PhD, though frequently they had been involved in starting one particular technology. IIRC, the first manager of the IC department (PhD) I worked in headed the team that built the fab from the ground up. Later heads, no doctorate.

          OTOH, other successful operations merely needed highly motivated geniuses (genii?), whether evil or not, to get them started. See National Semiconductor as the engineers/chemists/designers left Fairchild. There were a few docs around, but not many.

    2. Even 30 years ago, most Chemistry PhDs were writing software. Certainly the smart ones anyway. The others were training themselves how to write grants to get funded. The research didn’t matter as long as it sold to some bureaucrat. Actual science not required.

      1. Having had much interaction with Chemistry PHDs (wife is one, know another 10 from her department and another 20+ from her grad school days both Professors and fellow grad students) I must disagree. There are SOME parts of the Chemistry world (Chemical Physicists and some Physical and Analytic chemists) that work with software types to create software both for analysis and instrumentation, but they’re not doing that work directly much and certainly haven’t been doing alot since the 2000’s. That kind of work is too specialized, People would have put up with clunky stuff like that in the 80’s but for modern packages folks want well implemented stuff and that takes some software chops and a fair number of programmers. A good PHD is drilled down so far that most of them are a mile deep and 6 foot wide. There MIGHT be a few polymaths doing that and ending up heading companies, but I suspect they are quite rare.

        1. What I meant is that most people with Chemistry PhDs weren’t even working in Chemistry anymore. The software they were writing had nothing to do with chemistry. It was just a better job.

          1. Certainly coding even as a entry level programmer probably pays better than being an adjunct professor paid by the class.
            Adjunct Professors get 2-6K/class depending on subject and school, but no/limited bennies, no job security and the work load to make a decent income (4-6 classes a semester) is effectively twice that of a tenure track professor.
            For coding they’re competing with a fair horde of CS graduates. Last I heard my at my alma mater engineering school CS majors were now second only to Mechanical Engineers in graduation rates. In 2018 when my elder daughter graduated there were ~200 CS graduates compared to about 30 when I graduated in 1983. And that doesn’t even talk about the stupid H-1B visa program that floods the market with folks who will work for peanuts and in living and work conditions that are fairly close to indentured servitude. In 2018 year in my daughters class the graduating CS majors often were 6 months to finding a job vs my year where even though 83 was a mild recession most of us had at least 2 offers and often 3 or 4 by graduation.

            1. A college friend of mine got her PhD in English and spent years and years as a struggling adjunct. She literally had to move to Mongolia to get a steady job.

              1. Right now even in STEM there is an over abundance of PhDs. Every time my wife’s State college (pardon me university 🙂 ) puts up a position for a chemistry tenure slot they have 50-100 applications. More if it’s for something like Organic, less for Physical/Inorganic, they haven’t done a Analytical slot for years but that is usually the lowest count, Analytical chemist can get LOTS of jobs in industry. I imagine English is mobbed when put up a position. And heaven help you if you ignore a DEI target even if they are the WRONG specialty or do NOT actually have their PhD yet (i.e. their ABD).

            2. I finished the CS bachelors, in ’89. I didn’t pay attention to the job postings that year, have no idea on the job offers classmates got. Have no idea how many in the graduating class. Didn’t attend graduation (was busy having a baby). Didn’t start looking for six months. One job application, 3 interviews, I had a job. When that job disappeared (division assets sold, and shutdown), took skill updating seminars (now I had the appropriate “buzz words” in the list of languages), 6 months. just enough rejections to prove missing correct “buzz words). When that job went away (bought out, then company went bankrupt), next job (and the Last, I despise looking for work) took 17 long months (2 – 4 applications a week, and 3 – 4 interviews a quarter, wasn’t quite ignored). Age might have been a factor (100% was). Last job I outlasted (3 interviews) a dozen others, including two PHD’s, rest were mostly (not all) newly graduated, for an entry level job. (Really wasn’t, and isn’t, as **recent events at same company have been proven. Six of 7 hires, after I have retired have bolted, or been fired. The pandemic and working at will not have had anything to do with it. The 7th hire? Son of one of the other recent retirees, at 70. It could happen but it’ll take moving the entire IT department and merging with the servers in Canada. Not sure how the government clients will feel about that.)

              ** And, cough, cough, the fact that after a month I was productive, after 3 months out performing another entry level programmer who had been there for 2 years. Gee. Who’d guess it made a difference that someone who knew how to dig into the guts of code and data structures be productive that fast (I was told 6 months minimum before I’d work on real code). With coding language, and in house tools, I was 100% cold on. Not only that, I wrote code then that 12 years later, longer term employees were saying “that feature can’t do that!” and the response was “Yes, it can, as of early-ish-’04. The first thing I wrote. Because, huge client, required it.” Why did I apply for an entry level job? Desperation. Entry level pay or not, still better than the unemployment I was not getting anymore, in ’04. (Note, I am/was (retired) a very, very, good programmer, I do have to work at it. I am not anywhere near brilliant. I know my limitations. There are others better than I am. I’ve met them.)

              1. d,

                You and I have had similar careers, except that my only actual degree is a B.A. in History. When I retire later this year, the first book I intend to publish is A Geek’s Progress: Navigating a Software Career from the 80’s to the 20’s. I wrote it in 2018 for the edification of my younger colleagues but for “reasons” not publishing it until I retire.

                I believe you and I have shared our common sales pitch about working with geniuses before. “I’m very good, but I’m not a genius. What I can do is get the respect of a genius and translate what he says into something you and I can understand.”

                I’m planning on using a 30-day rail pass next year to tour the country on my way to LibertyCon. Would love to swap a beer and tall tales with you if you go or if you’re on the way. At our hostess’ urging, I will set up my blog SOON I promise. The blog will have a way to contact me if you can’t find me via my LinkedIn profile.

                1. Definitely interested in the blog.

                  I don’t go to cons.

                  Have fun going around the country.

                  A Geek’s Progress: Navigating a Software Career from the 80’s to the 20’s

                  You sent me part of it. Looking forward to more.

    3. PhDs in engineering may have some getting screwed over.

      Engineering is a trust business, and currently tied to the insane ‘scholars’ in the mainstream of university research.

      Medicine is a trust business, and right now is in the middle of being screwed over because of professional organizations and med schools, in addition to bureaucratic madness.

      Lawyers seem to have set themselves up for somehow being trusted even less, thank you ABA and law schools.

      Universities generally have proven that a) trusting students to university judgement can result in a lot of very badly screwed up students, who will ruin their parents’ other investments. (PArtly trans push with cooperation by Education majors, partly the college students in BLM.) b) universities will screw the public on security issues.

      One loss of trust is likely to more broadly screw enrollment than it has and the other is likely to hurt funding for engineering research.

      As these start to have more impact, engineering faculty and engineering professional societies will have a lot of opportunity for further damaging the reputation of the engineering profession.

      More generally, engineers are an enhancer for other economic activity, and when clownworld screws the economic activity, it will eventually hit engineering employment.

      1. Engineering has a “test and break things” mentality, that hopefully weeds out the frauds.

        What worries me is a lot of work that’s branded “engineering” seems to be turning into bureaucrat farming. That ruins good engineers.

        But that does not mean that engineering problems stop existing; merely that we stop using engineers to solve them. That will be ‘fun’…

        1. That “test and break things” mentality is getting hit hard by the SJWs right now. There is a determined and sustained effort to inject race and gender into everything, no matter how little the topic actually has to do with race and/or gender. The end result is likely to be a shying away from anything resembling testing under real-world conditions. No one wants to be the person that has to tell Lysenko that his new bridge design didn’t work. And if it doesn’t break because no one tested it, then no one needs to tell Lysenko.

          And don’t bring up the bridge that collapsed a few years back as an example. Yes, that one. As has been mentioned here a time or two in the comments, that was a more complicated situation than many made it out to be.

          1. But at its root cause, I’m given to understand a OR wasn’t supervising the work they were supposed to be, correct?

            Was there ever any corrective action out of that?

            1. Haven’t followed the results, but the engineering company lost a boatload of contracts. (They were suspended from bidding for 10 years until 2030.) I think the EOR (Engineer of Record) suffered career death. OTOH, the engineering-tips thread on the disaster ended in mid 2021 at part 15 (generally with 200 posts per part).

              For those with far too much time on their hands (raises hand–it started when I was dealing with multiple eye surgical procedures), the thread starts here:

              There were a bunch of corrective actions recommended, chief being that the EOR should get his head out of his nether portions and pay attention to what the project is actually doing. (I’m not a structural engineer, but it was clear from the evidence that the design had been phoned in, and the EOR didn’t think the problems were sufficiently bad. Oops.)

              Let’s see what Wiki has to say. Looks like lots of lawsuits. I’m guessing the Covidiocy slowed down a lot of the legal proceedings.

              1. I’m not an engineer, but whoever left the street under that bridge unblocked needs to be charged for the deaths and injuries.

                1. I think the recommendation to leave it open was made by the EOR, but bought off by committee. [ecch] Denney Pate, the EOR, was regarded as a world-class designer of bridges. Apparently, he seriously underestimated the design complexity of a mere pedestrian bridge. The fact that they were trying to make a concrete truss (steel truss bridges have been around a long time, but concrete truss is new), and they were trying to make it look like a fancy cable-stayed bridge, thus the oddball angles on the diagonals. Speculation is that he palmed a lot of the design to an undertrained underling. Further speculation is pointed at the over-dependence on computer-aided design tools. “The model says it will work perfectly!” Where have I heard that before?

                  Florida DOT and the main contractor were in that meeting; not sure who came from the design firm, (if any–a certain amount of phoning-it in came to light), so there was lots of fingerpointing. No indications of criminal charges, but the tort cases are taking precedence.

                  I wouldn’t have been surprised to see criminal charges, but after all this time, I think it won’t happen. ‘Sides, nobody “important” got killed. /cynical grimace.

                  1. “The fact that they were trying to make a concrete truss… and they were trying to make it look like a fancy cable-stayed bridge”

                    See… design-wise, I have a problem with this. If you’re going to make concrete truss, make concrete truss. If you’re going to make cable-stay, make cable-stay. If you’re going to make a combination of cable-stay and concrete truss make both elements functional.

                    It’s a bridge. Making an element that should be structural, ornamental is a waste of materials, and a recipe for disaster.

                    1. This. In many ways, the disaster started when somebody got the idea for a fake cable-stayed bridge (the “cables” were to be ornamental, and the diagonals followed the angles of those).

                      Then, underestimating the potential problems (and the joint that failed had a huge number of problems–way too many things going on at that spot that did not contribute or detracted from the strength) sealed it.

                      Hubris, meet Nemesis.

            2. I don’t remember the full details, though I think that was a big part of it. But a lot of people heard about it as “diversity hire engineer!”, and that’s the way that it’s stuck in many minds. More importantly, I don’t recall any specific reliable mention of SJW nonsense contributing to the collapse.

                1. The TL;DR from the analysis had the diagonal pieces not well connected to the lower deck, specifically the one at the end that broke. A serious shortage of steel in that area was key, and the designers counted on the lower deck concrete to be roughened before the diagonal piece was cast in a second operation. I’m a retired EE, but that bit of reasoning (and blaming the contractor for not “properly roughening the concrete” cost me some serious eye-rolls).

                  Somewhere late in the eng-tips thread is a link to the NTSB and/or OSHA reports, or some search-fu might get it quicker. Try “FIU Pedestrian Bridge” in the terms.

              1. Basically, the engineering firm had a big proud “woke” page boasting how equitable, sustainable, etc. they were. People made the natural assumption that reality was not the priority.

                1. Shortly after the FIU collapse, they (FIGG engineering) got booted off a Texas bridge project. FIGG tried to get reinstated, but the US DOT banned them from bidding in 2020, until 2030. I don’t know if that still holds. [Cynical supposition deleted.]

  9. The hollowing out of institutions has been going on for a long time, but the pace is accelerating. Getting things done/manufacturing things/farming is not valued by the elites, theirs is an image based system – appearances matter much more than accomplishments. Food, the latest iPhone, virtue signaling electric car, in their world view these all just magically appear. They don’t believe the electric power grid is a disaster waiting to happen, because they don’t comprehend systems of production or supply. But they are absolutely in touch with the latest talking points on the trend of the day, whatever it might be.

    So when the grid collapses because a 120 year old component fails on a major transmission line triggering a cascade, or the rail strike hits this weekend and things disappear, they will be surprised. Then the people who actually do things will have to fix it, being delayed by the government at every step and receiving bitter complaints about how could they have let this happen.

    At some point it fails beyond fixing.

    Its not just big intuitions that have this problem outlook though. I worked at a company once where the owners didn’t like an IT person. The only network person. And she was good at her job making things happen without many resources. But they didn’t like her, mostly because her just did her job and didn’t play politics. So they called her into the bosses office one day and fired her on the spot. After walking her out the door, they discovered that she had been in the middle of a network update. The network that passed customer orders to shipping. The network that no one else know how to update, because it was band-aided together on the cheap over the years to save money. She declined to help them. It took almost two weeks and about 2 months equivalent to her salary to get someone from outside to finish it. Plus of course lots of upset and lost customers.

  10. I’m learning marketing in the underground. How much will apply in the mainstream world I don’t know yet. You start a blog, and you’re lucky to get 20 friends reading. You comment on others’ musings with a modest link to your site, and you’re lucky to get one comment returned for every 30 you give out. Over time it becomes 1 in 25 then 1 in 20. After a year of consistent posting and commenting on others postings (without blatant self promo), and you might start to get a modest following. Then? Well, I don’t know yet.

      1. This is an outstandingly well run site, consistently. I am particularly impressed with the rareness of spam, trolls, and assholes.

            1. “Carrying her great ax, STFU (hard to pronounce, which is the beauty of it), she ceaselessly patrols her blog looking for STAs.” 🙂

  11. PhDs are research degrees, not working degrees. I’ll bet your brother is a rocket “engineer”, not a rocket “scientist”.

  12. If “it” all collapsed tomorrow, Americans—by which I mean USA-ians—would rebuild “it”.

    There would be much sadness, suffering, death, and pain, true; but those who survived would rebuild. And they might be able to incorporate some of the lessons learned.

    There would also be a lot of dead “zombies” and “camp-followers”. Mostly by their own hands, or those of other “zombies” and “camp-followers”.

    I’d like to point out that, though I’m “too old” and generally unfit for a “combat” role by training, physical conditioning, and philosophy, the wife and I are good cooks, good at first aid, reasonably good at DIY home repairs, able to learn farming, and can certainly fill in on other jobs as required. I am also proficient enough with firearms to help with varmints that can’t shoot back.

  13. Talking of hollowing out, consider the Russian army’s collapse in Kharkiv. I suspect that a lot of big lefty controlled institutions are like that so all we have to do is find the entry point and we can liberate the territory behind their front-lines.

    In Europe that point is probably going to be the energy crisis this winter which everyone knows was caused by the enviroMENTALists. I suspect there are similar holes elsewhere – the trans-ideology is probably one, for example

    1. On the other hand, if Russia’s forces rapidly get pushed back, or even worse, were ordered to withdraw quickly, it ups the chances Putin decides to launch tactical nukes, especially since there is increasing efforts within Russia to force him out.

      1. Chemical weapons are more likely than tactical nukes, imo. And given modern perceptions, being forced to fall back on the latter would likely be seen as a sign of desperation born of weakness by Russia’s elite.

      2. Since many on this board thinks I am a “Soviet Troll” (LOL I’m not one, but believe in trying to understand true history even of the present (as history is being made), not just the history of only the victors who write the history books) I’ll add my two cents…

        Russia’s withdrawal may have two military/political reasons that immediately come to mind. 1) It was strategic to lure the Ukrainian army into the open away from entrenched positions for later counterattack/encirclement, 2) Better to not have a big batt or 2) The Russians really don’t care about how fast they conduct the war. My guess is the goal of the war is not immediate victory, but is likely to keep the war going until Europe folds. Weaken the opposition (i.e. NATO using up all its ammo and also the people with No Heat/No Gas/No Food). The Russian’s play a lot of chess and likely have a strategy which is not known by us. This event likely plays into it. So don’t fall for the Western press news reports as the only truth. The truth may often be what we don’t hear or refuse to hear.

        Unfortunately for the U.S., our current leadership can barely play checkers…. I want the US to be successful in the world, but provoking the Russians toward nuclear war by giving Billions to Ukraine is stupidity. Of course, the U.S. regime may not want the war to end either, because “in chaos, there is opportunity” or whatever reason meets their fancy. This gives them a good reason for the economy failing (Russia did it!) instead of the Banker’s “Reindeer” Games. (i.e. pending collapse of likely everything.)

        1. Typo: 2) Better to not have a big battle in a city with civilians or 3) The wear out NATO and Europe strategy

  14. I definitely feel, especially with regard to the War on Trump since 2015, that our rulers are Not That Smart. And Biden as president is God’s way of telling us this, face to face.

    And now comes the story that the Steele Dossier chappie Danchenko was made an FBI source. Hello?

    1. He was made one in 2017 in order to protect him from scrutiny as he helped Team Mueller and the Democrats continue pursuit of the Russia collusion hoax. The only coups attempted in the USA in the last 6+ years are the ones engineered by Democrats against Trump.

  15. As I have said before –

    Three generations ago, people built things, and teachers had either built things (I include gardening for food), or at least watched things being built.

    Two generations ago, people remembered that their parents and grandparents had built things, and had seen them do it.

    Last generation, people remembered that their grandparents had built things but had never seen them built; they just were. This is the beginning of the “meat comes prepackaged in the freezer section of the grocery” generation.

    This generation only knows that things exist, and too many have internalized that that’s evil because the people who built things four generations ago had more because they built it (or were paid for building it).

    Clearly not universally true, amd grossy simplified, but largely true for the vast majority of the urban public (and leftist private) schooled students who went to high school or college since Bush Jr caved to Pelosi after the 2004 election. Before that, the rot was more confined (to the institutions that should historically have known better, but instead trained the generation of know-nothing teachers who nihilistically taught the woke generation) and less obvious elsewhere.

      1. “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other…”

        Family, faith, culture. These things train a child into who they will become. Education starts in the home, or it bloody well should, and any guidance from other people should be at the sufferance of the parents and with their awareness.

  16. Yet Another facet of creeping fascism:

    On September 9, the International Organization for Standardization (“ISO“) announced that it would create a new Merchant Category Code (“MCC”) specific to firearm and ammunition retailers. MCCs are the codes that payment processing networks (like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express) use to categorize various transactions. This is the system that allows various credit cards to offer different benefits for certain categories of purchases or to charge different fees for those same categories.

    So now the credit card companies will know who buys anything related to guns and ammunition — but it’s OK, because they’re not the government.

    Pay cash for your guns and ammunition from now on, folks.
    The Democrats trust violent criminals and terrorists with guns more than they trust you.

    1. Y’know, if Discover isn’t in on this it sounds like a golden opportunity to steal a march on the competition. Quietly scoop up all the outraged right-of-Lenin gun owning crowd and just not mention anything in the news.

      Sure it’ll eventually get out, but that could well be free advertising.

      1. Maybe I’m confused, but if it’s a change to the industry standard, then it likely doesn’t matter that any particular company did or didn’t push for the change. The system will report a firearms-category purchase to whomever facilitates the transaction. So Discover or whoever will end up with a list anyway.

        Presumably a merchant who intentionally mis-categorizes a sale will likely open themselves up for fraud charges and/or fines. By the same token, you can expect unfriendly scrutiny for any credit facilitator that drops ‘firearms’ into ‘sporting goods’ or whatever category they previously hailed from before archiving the sale.

        That second paragraph is full of weasel words because I don’t know how it actually works, so I apologize for any unwarranted FUD. The most I can take from that is that Discover might not have pushed for the change; it’s also possible they weren’t mentioned because they’re number four, and the Rule of Three is a thing.

    2. And this didn’t simply happen, just randomly all on its own…

      [New York’s Governor Kathy] Hochul is now calling for credit card companies to track “suspicious” firearm purchases. Elizabeth Warren came in right behind her, writing a letter dated Sept. 1 urging credit card companies “to support the creation of a new merchant category code [as an] important step towards ending financial system support for gun trafficking, gun violence, and domestic terrorism.”


      uncoverdc dot com slash 2022/09/08/new-york-gun-safety-social-media-and-credit-card-monitoring/

      which also discusses a 2018 study finding that 94% of mass shootings happened in “gun free zones.” (Obviously not as ‘gun-free’ as they thought… oh, wait, mass murderers break laws.)

    3. The Reader believes that a couple of months of the gun owners in this country paying cash for everything will convince the credit card companies of the error of their ways here. The funds flow hit would be more than they could take. Make 2022 a credit less Christmas!

      In the meantime, yeah pay cash for all your gun related purchases.

    4. Folks, banks are also required to track cash under various “money laundering / terrorist financing” laws and regulations. This can trigger a “suspicious activity report”. Your individual purchases may not trip the limits, but the business making unusually large cash deposits will too.

      And once the investigation is launched, “all your 4473s belong to ATF”. That’s why the “show up at the house over multiple guns” incidents recently got triggered; ATF launched an investigation and could see that info.

  17. And it’s not only the ‘old’ institutions that are headed for (or already into) the “gold leaf over crumbly rot” category… it’s the anticipated, oncoming, or simply fantasized new ones too. Gold leaf or “Real Soon Now” shiny promises; over Styrofoam, frozen beer foam, or pure empty space.

    E.g., the ‘half electric by 2030’ nonsense. Not only does that involve a huge up-scaling and ‘rollout’ of currently niche or fringe technologies, the basics needed to support it aren’t there. Most (all?) present electric car batteries are based on lithium; but it seems there literally isn’t enough production capacity in the entire world to produce enough of it, at any price, nor will there be by then. (The typical U.S. lead time on getting just the permits for a new lithium mine basically takes us from now to 2030, all on its own.) See items at

    uncoverdc dot com slash 2022/09/12/the-news-of-today-is-the-history-of-tomorrow-september-12-2022/

    and article at

    finance dot yahoo dot com/news/lithium-supply-ev-targets-miner-181513161.html

    for more, incl. interview w/ lithium comapny CEO.

    But the biggest problem is the electric power itself. Even back in the ‘energy crisis’ days of the mid-70s, transportation used (roughly) 10 million barrels a day of oil here. That’s 6 GJ x 10 M = 60 PJ of energy every 86400 seconds… about 700 GW or 600 big (1.2 GWe) reactors ON TOP of everything else that uses power, just to replace our 1970s oil usage.

    We’d need a crash program to build power plants: coal or nuclear would do, but the second would need a way to cut through the red-tape / activism delays, and the first requires clearing away enough of the ‘coal is EVIL and DESTROYS the PLANET’ brainfog to actually get utilities to buy ’em.

    Instead… we’ve got crickets, not a crash utility construction program.

    Otherwise, we get California: soon-to-come (so they say) rolling blackouts because of generation shortages, no new capacity planned, and an upcoming incremental BAN on buying or selling NON ELECTRIC cars. See

    www dot manhattancontrarian dot com/blog/2022-9-6-another-round-of-rolling-blackouts-in-california

    for details and pointers to still more. These guys are on the wrong side of the guardrail, looking out over the edge of the cliff, and yet…

    “Sit down on our golden throne, just plop right down, look, it’s shiny!”

    “You first, proggie-boy.”

    1. Heck. In today’s supply “challenges” it takes 3 months to get a battery for a regular vehicle. Ask me how I know. (Did get a loner. I do not like the Hyundai Kona.)

    2. The late, lamented Steven den Beste ran the numbers nearly 20 years ago on his USS Clueless website and proved that it was IMPOSSIBLE for windmills and solar farms to generate enough electricity for usage at the then-current rates of consumption.

      Way back in the 70s, there was one over-educated simpleton who proclaimed that we could generate all the electricity we needed by covering all of Arizona with solar panels. He, apparently, had never heard of the Grand Canyon, but I merely pointed out that, if we absorbed even 30% of the sunlight hitting Arizona and converted into electricity, that would mean a huge, permanent low pressure cell covering all of Arizona. Even the IPCC wouldn’t dare try to model the havoc that would create with the weather. That giant sucking sound you hear is a permanent cyclone the size of Arizona. Hello Jupiter’s giant red spot. Good plan!

  18. This article by Michael Anton (of “Flight 93 Election” fame) seems to fit into the topic.
    “…the only two things they are competent at are self-perpetuation and societal destruction. And the latter is a direct threat to the former. If they were even minimally competent, they would know that.”

    I suggest RTWT if just for the entertainment value of his prose, but the analysis is accurate IF applied to the Useful Idiots; not so much the ultimate ringleaders, because their agenda is not really self-perpetuation so much as fomenting infernal chaos.
    Or so I assume, as that’s what they are primarily achieving.

  19. “Our society is limping through on the…. memory of institutions that work.”

    Sarah, this is well said. But in order to ” build under, build over, build around” we have to have some understanding of why so many institutions have been vulnerable to the rot the left spreads, particularly corporations which are supposedly focused on ‘shareholder value’. The Reader doesn’t have a grand theory, but he does believe that one of the elements has been the focus on ‘process’ in the evolution of management thinking in the 20th century. This started on the factory floor where it actually made some sense, but soon progressed into every element of corporate operation – everything had a ‘process’ to follow. The damage this did was to accountability. Something goes wrong and instead of canning the individual(s) responsible, the institution ‘revises’ the process so that it cannot happen again. The Reader believes this left these institutions open to attack by leftist rot in two dimensions; first, responsibility for outcomes is diminished and second, the leftists often embed themselves first in the Department of Process Generation (a job a lot of folks don’t want to do). The Reader may have some thoughts as to how to address this in the rebuilding process at some future date.

    BTW the Reader was the antitheses of following the process during his career.

      1. The Reader wishes he knew the answer to that question. It is an answer we need to find.

        1. :poking on safeties:
          Well, if SOMEONE involved knows how the process works– they can catch the stuff you don’t understand.

          You can broaden that out some, by having folks understand different aspects….

          That might explain why the Progs are good at hijacking some institutions, especially if they’re not passionate– the yelling louder system of authority works best if there isn’t anyone who cares enough to really understand, and argue, for a thing.

          1. It also guarantees that when it breaks no one who might be able to fix it will shiv a git: “You let it fall apart; you live (or die) with the consequences.”

            Frankly, I suspect this is what’s going to happen when no food gets to the cities for a week or so, or their power goes off in mid-winter.

            1. Going off of smaller models– clubs, gaming groups– that’s only true the last time.

              There’s usually several cycles of founders build it up, get burned out, gets taken over, they drive it into the ground, either the founder or someone else who has an idea how to make it work takes over, builds it back up, repeat.
              Generally, at each burn out, there’s a trickle of people who leave. Frequently, in smaller groups, anything going wrong is blamed on the last person who left, if not who they are trying to drive out.

              Until the last time, when the folks who can do the stuff, and the folks who recognize those who can do stuff, leave and make a new Thing That Works.

              (although sometimes the folks who leave include folks who just hadn’t had a chance to break anything, and the re-founded thing breaks right away, with the folks who know how leaving because Enough Of This already)

  20. This is not about a defense lawyer, or someone who’s organized violence. This is an ordinary citizen who decided to get involved, and was targeted multiple times by multiple agencies.

    And it represents over a decade of pattern and practice. “Isolated incident”? Riiiight.

    And this is just what we know because she had resources to resist. Do you? Our system will either purge this pattern, or it will fail.


    “All of these incursions into my affairs began after filing applications for tax exemption, there is no other remarkable event. There is no other reason to explain how, for decades I went unnoticed, but now I find myself on the receiving end of interagency coordination into and against all facets of my life, both personal and private,” she testified. “These events were occurring while the IRS was subjecting me to multiple rounds of abusive inquiries, with requests to provide every Facebook and Twitter I’ve ever posted, questions about my political aspirations, and demands to know the names of groups that I’ve spoken with, the content of what I said, and everywhere I intended to speak in the coming year. The answer to these sorts of questions are not of interest to the typical IRS analyst. But they are certainly of interest to a political machine that will put its own survival against the civil liberties. This government attacked me because of my political beliefs, but I refuse to be cast as a victim.”

  21. I used to live in NYC, and I met a number of editors at various small presses. They were cool. At lunch they’d be all excited about the new books that they were working on and dying to tell you all about them. They were very energetic. For example, two days before comic-con, over lunch a children’s book editor came up with the idea of having a scavenger hunt to attract kids to booths, and by the next day had gotten together with all the other children’s small presses and written a hunt that went through all of their booths. (And during comic-con you’d see kids dragging their parents from booth to booth.)

    I also met a number of editors from major presses. They would NEVER want to talk about what they were working on, even when you asked. “Let’s not talk about work.” But they’d complain endlessly about how they didn’t have the budget of the Harry Potter books and how they weren’t paid enough. And they were very good at cocktail party socializing and dressing fashionably.

    It was a stark contrast.

    1. “If you worked on books people actually wanted to read, you’d have a bigger budget.”

      But to the Publishers Of Great Literature, customers are a necessary evil. They don’t need to publish the books you want to read; you’re supposed to read the books they want to publish. What do you know about Great Literature anyway?
      Forget roses, a turd by any other name still stinks.

  22. I am 78 years old, educated in public schools when they were still halfway decent. Before I went to kindergarten, my parents used to read to me. They told me that when I went to school I would learn to read. When I came home from my first day of kindergarten or first grade—don’t remember which—I was really ticked off because they didn’t teach me to read.

    I have read for pleasure all of my life. I used to shake my head in wonder at fellow commuters that just sat there staring into space rather than reading. If I wake up in the middle of the night for an hour or so, I read on a Kindle that illuminates the text.

    And I use ‘a’ or ‘an’ appropriately.

  23. This is reminiscent of a trip I made to Berlin in the summer of ’89. Crossing back from East to West, I happened to look up at one of the East’s security cameras.

    Nothing but an empty housing. Not terribly surprising, but emblematic of the entire East Bloc.

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