Ring The Bell

Being a time traveler — by virtue of having been born and raised in a culture that’s the equivalent of an old lady leaving in a house stuffed with the nicknacks last six generations and unwilling to even dust much less throw anything away — I remember bells as a method of communication.

Mind you I never learned what the bells meant, partly because I assumed if it was vital, the radio would tell me, partly because I was a kid, which emans the things that the adults knew were a mystery reserved for adults.

So when the bell rang, mom and grandma would pause in their work and say “poor so and so, he finally passed.” (Usually just ahead of us hearing the widow keening, which usually could be heard across the village, yes.) Or “A girl child? What happened? I wonder who?”

Because the bell rang so many times for male, so many for female, and then for age of death. It also had peculiar rings for fire, and flood, and invasion. (Not that we were ever invaded. Though in the late sixties, we went with my aunt by marriage who was from Brazil to trace the little Northern villages her family came from. This was before Portugal had even a vestige of a highway. The “National Roads” were the ones large enough to accommodate a carriage and iffy for a car. They were cobblestoned and the maximum speed was around 30 miles per hour. We left even those behind, most of the time driving on goat paths and beaten-dirt maybe-paths. We visited villages that probably never had more than ten families in them, at the height of their booms, and were now down to often only 10 people. And when they saw a car headed for them, the bell would ring, and they’d declare a holiday, with people running in from the fields to meet the “foreigners” from around 50 miles away. It amuses me greatly that the “strangers coming” might last have been rung for Napoleonic invaders, or their English foes.)

Last night I woke up with the horrors. Two things contributed to this. This post is mostly about one of them, but the other is a sign of the “temperature.”

I will remind you first that while I said, about two (?) years ago that we’d already won, I also told you that it was going to get very, very bad for anywhere from 2 to 10 years. This was before the lockdowns.

I will tell you right now I misunderestimated them. Not the winning thing: they can’t win. They’re trying to do so by tactics that won’t work here because we’re armed and because we’re dispersed. They have no understanding of the actual country, versus the country in their heads (and that, by itself could be an entire series of posts) and they have even less understanding of us, those who oppose them. And even the early stages of their “victory conditions” will destroy our economy to a level not just us, but the entire world starves. (We’re not the USSR or China, and vampirizing the world to feed us won’t even keep us in poverty.)

Note I’m saying they can’t win, not that they can starve the entire world. I think we’ll find this winter that they’ve already gone a massive way towards that. I think America doesn’t starve, but we’re going to be tight and Christmas will be lean. Perhaps more lean than I imagined, by one of the signs yesterday.

That is already baked in due to the lockdowns even if they hadn’t been hitting the economy with a hammer these last two years. I underestimated by about a million how crazy they would get. Locking the entire world, because it had to be plausible, of course, down and then frauding in plain sight, then trying to persecute anyone who ways they frauded is … a level of crazy I didn’t think EVEN THEY could reach. And yet, here we are. In clown-world timeline.

Anyway, I woke up with the horrors, dreaming of a highway in grey light, with rows and rows of gibbets and tired men in coveralls going down the long row and methodically hanging men, mile after mile. Army? Police? stood in a solid line behind the gibbets. I had no clue who was winning. I very much doubt that there had been due process for that many people. The executed that I saw were all men, though.

Is it a true seeing? I doubt it. More likely my brain expressing “Bad things coming.”

The two things that happened yesterday, one was alarming as heck because I never saw that, not even in Portugal.

So, for reasons OBVIOUS to almost everyone, this last weekend we ate out a lot, in three distinct places. One was a formal dinner, (not with CB) in a fairly upscale (but not prohibitive) restaurant. That was the only one that wasn’t completely weird.

The others were…. odd.

First I need to explain that Dan and I get AMAZING service where we are regulars, and before this last weekend, pretty darn decent service at places no one ever saw us before. We look late middle age, we dress “clean and good quality” if not designer. We are pleasant and talk to servers and smile a lot. We also tip well as a matter of course (because I experienced “service” when tipping was legally forbidden in Portugal.) Which explains the amazing service where we’re known.

We try not to go out a bunch. Probably our highest “eating out” time was when the kids were little and I was writing three to six books a year. We ate out two to three times a week, usually at the “cheap diner” level. We knew every single place in town where kids ate free, and what day. It ate our budget, but particularly when my auto-immune was crazy, it was the only way to feed the kids.

Other than that, we go through times we eat out every night — when we’re moving or when the entire family (now just two of us) is sick or slammed down — but mostly we go out MAYBE once a week, after church, and not every week.

So, it had been… a while. I think the last time had been a month ago, when a friend visited town. Being an online friend whom we didn’t know in person, we met him at a local deli type place for lunch.

And this weekend struck us as odd. Look, it was really really really bad service, on the level we’d only had twice before in almost 35 years, for no reason we could figure out.

To begin with all the restaurants but one were half empty, and the one wasn’t overfull for a Saturday night. And the service was of the “we know you’re there, but we don’t feel like giving you menus, let alone anything else” order. Except in most upscale of the restaurants, where the service was actually good, but it was also half empty, in a way I didn’t expect for where it was, and at the time it was, and with all the “get a reservation or you won’t get in.”

Yesterday, in a casual conversation, a friend who is doing temp table service job said people had stopped tipping. I thought this was just her/just her area. So I asked around. Nope. Seems to be universal and more or less everywhere, from low to mid-price restaurants: ie the places people go, because they’re slammed/they don’t feel well/they never learned how to cook. I’m hearing the same from doordash people.

Now this could be because since restaurants are having to pay — in our area — around $15 an hour for table service, people think that servers are getting paid enough. MAYBE. but in my experience people don’t do that kind of calculus before tipping, not when it’s been a custom for so long.

I mean, in Portugal it took a law to make people stop tipping. (Portuguese tips are and were always different. Mostly “what you have leftover, whatever is in your pocket in change. Though when I did food service, I got a lot of unexpected, the equivalent of $100. Since I was doing it at a church-affiliated restaurant and to fundraise, this was weird. Particularly when elderly men and women slipped me the bill and said, “This one is for you. Don’t give it to the church.” (Which of course I did.) Oh, also, I’d get tipped by the women for smiling and engaging their men in conversation and letting them tell me stories. “You made him so happy honey.” At the time I thought this was weird. Now I understand.)

I think it’s that yes, things are getting that tight. Again, the places we go through when traveling, are no longer utter dives (We’re old. Gristle fried in lard, or highly spiced carberific food is not something we can deal with anymore.) But they are … “safe and okay.” I mean, our go-to while getting the house ready to sell wasn’t McDonald’s but it was Red Robin. So, the type of place people in the low middle class go out for “we have to go out.” And people in the low-low class (income only) go out for “good.” (We’ve been there. all through 2015, we used Red Robin or its equivalent for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) And that level and below are the ones getting stiffed on tips. Higher than that, and people are just not going, or at least not in the numbers they used to. I suspect at the highest level (I don’t know, okay. We were looking at places on line and one said to count on $100 per person total. I can’t say I’ve ever gone somewhere like that. But if this is true and these places exist, I suspect they’re doing just fine, because the topmost aren’t feeling the pinch at all.)

Anyway, that scared me. It joined in with entire strip malls getting boarded a store at a time over the last few months. With people who go to cons/make a living of selling in our world — geekish, fannish, etc — reporting precipitously falling sales.

I haven’t seen this in books, or at least not yet. Perhaps Jerry Pournelle was right and writing as entertainment (not as literary art) is a counter-recession/depression industry, and pays best when everything is in the crapper. I certainly seem to be reading more. It’s still — if you don’t buy from the majors — cheap entertainment.

And that gets us to the other discussions I was in before bed.

It will surprise no one that I’m a member of about five groups of various creatives, including for crafts, though honestly I haven’t done crafts in years. Not regularly. (I’m ALMOST at the point I CAN but it will take finishing unpacking the craft room and getting the sewing table out of the garage, and it’s low priority, since I’m trying to get the new novel out. And write more. And fulfill the pledge rewards (No, I haven’t forgotten. Yes, I’m aware I’m a month and change late. Getting on it.)

Anyway, yesterday everyone to the right of Lenin was freaking out over Paypal. And so am I, honestly, because it is a great part of my income. For one, a ton of small presses pay me that way, probably amounting to 3k or so a year. For another, weirdly the fundraiser RAISED subscription numbers for the blog. People saying “I can’t donate, but I can.”

The left, in the meantime, is out there being clueless and vaguely offensive: “Why is the right so freaked out over Paypal saying they’ll fine for “disinformation” or “inciting violence”, do they admit they’re doing those things?”

Dear leftist corkheads, no. We have, however, been on line as non-woke, non-commies for the last 10 years. Each of us has been banned by Facebook at least once for saying something that we were told was “misinformation” only to be, months later — oops — admitted to be true: Hunter’s laptop from hell. Or that the wuflu vaccines might not be precisely safe and effective. Or that masks don’t do anything to prevent getting sick. Whichever. All of these were the unutterable “disinformation” until later revealed to be true. And we knew they were true, because we’d looked at the evidence, but official channels of the left declared them wrong.

And all of us have been banned due to absolutely stupid things, that make us stare at it and go “What actually.” Like I had a friend who got facebook jail for pornography for showing a woman’s face and neck at an odd, artsy-photo angle. Yeah, okay, if I squinted and forgot everything I know about human anatomy and/or were a bot, I might think it was something else. Only it clearly WASN’T. And all of us have got banned for putting up an absolutely truthful anti-regime meme. Or in my case, I got banned two times, for a large run of bans (three the first time, two the second.) First time because one of my fans was descending into Alzheimers. He’d always been leftist, and a few years before, he’d have argued with me about it, but when I started pointing out the “Whistleblower” on “Trump made a congratulatory call to the president of Ukraine” was no such thing and none of it made sense, it interacted with his mental illness, and he started denouncing me for “breaking federal law” for revealing the guy’s name (which hadn’t been redacted in documents, and everyone knew.) Even though as a non-government organization (or individual) I was perfectly free to shout it from the roof tops. Facebook of course, banned, because it’s impossible to conduct their little police action by hiring American citizens (even with the help of robots) so they hire the cheapest possible workforce overseas. And for all someone in Southern Elbonia’s swamps knew it was indeed illegal to say that name. And their appeals process is non-existent, really. So I blocked the poor sod, and he then (and maybe now, if still alive) went around telling people I’d been kicked out of Facebook and maybe arrested for violating federal law.) The other one was a guy who lost an argument with me, and started going back and randomly denouncing me for whatever. Again solved by blocking him.

But note both times I was denounced for things that had no basis in anything but the accuser’s head.

Now the left might think they’re smart, tolerant and not false accusers, but after being told to die because I said that it was cruel, unusual (and useless) to make asthmatics wear masks for healthcare, which is absolutely true, after being called a Russian Robot for mentioning that the Hugo voting was borked to allow interference, after being allowed of using “racial slurs” after using a STATE DEPARTMENT DESIGNATION FOR CHINESE COMMUNISTS, I’m less than convinced that that halo is true and not hiding horns.

Honestly, if the left had half a brain and looked at former darlings now declared the debil because they deviated from The Word From On High on one minor point, they’d realize that they too could get caught for “disinformation” and “hate mongering” that amounts to saying the right thing at the wrong time, or even being misunderstood.

Which is why what Paypal did was the equivalent of pulling down its shorts and shooting themselves where it hurts.

They thought of themselves as a hip electronic company, not what they are: financial services. For financial services to say “we will take your money at random, with no appeal” is like a restaurant saying “We will randomly poison you because we feel like it.” There is no coming back from that. They’re doomed.

And it’s a bad sign, like “Why did they come up with that?” AND “why did they think that made sense?”

Because they’re desperate and vaguely insane. What they always did to keep control of the culture and the narrative just isn’t working. Things keep happening they don’t expect.

They’re scared. They’re beyond snake bit. They’re utterly and completely and utterly panicked.

Panicked people do stupid sh*t. And they’re still in control of the culture and a lot of the institutions.

This is your bell tolling alarm. It’s time to armor up.

For me this is an immediate thing. I not only make the money for donations — which will shrink because a lot of you are doing the grand jete from Paypal. Salutes. No blame — but also can’t actually leave, because a lot of small press companies pay me there.

So, we will need to separate the blog and publishing accounts… And keep it a while longer.

I know they will eventually be replaced by one of the other services. And IF I didn’t have to get a substitute NOW, I’d sit around waiting to see which of the other services makes it to “default.” But….

I’ll be doing investigation, and hope to give you alternatives for donation soon.

I will survive this. I will be fine. But I won’t say it’s not an extremely annoying disruption I didn’t want to deal with. And I won’t say I don’t resent it like fire, because I do.

And I’m trying to figure out ahead of time what to do if Amazon goes similarly nuts. Which it might not, but it might, all of a sudden, overnight.

Again, replacements will come up, but it might take time.

Now, if banks go insane… Well, make sure you have a “trusted person” and make sure they’re REALLY trusted, so you can deposit with them, and get money.

Stuff like that. Make plans now.

It’s unlikely they’ll round up most of us, even vocal people like me. We are too many and too dispersed. Maybe they’ll get to people like Tucker Carlson. Maybe.

BUT they will try to silence us by financial and other means. Which is what Paypal is all about. They’re panicked over losing twitter, and trying to silence us by making it impossible to get money.

Okay then. The thing you have to remember is that while they’re hurting and inconveniencing us, they’re committing MESSY SUICIDE to do it. They can’t survive doing what they’re doing to us and continue functioning.

So, be not afraid.

Now I go off to finish work due today and research financial alternatives to paypal. This will ALMOST for sure include putting up a permanent givesendgo, where people can donate when and if they feel like it. I don’t like to do it, because it’s supposed to be emergency, but they’re trustworthy, so I’ll do that. I’m also looking into Ko-fi and a half dozen of other things.

PARTLY because I’m going to be serializing a couple of novels at a time, and would like to put up a tip jar. (Sigh.) Okay, so I’m mostly goint to do it to amuse CACS while she’s going through a difficult time, but no reason not to tip jar.

And then I’m going to sit down with my husband at dinner and make a list of plan A through F should various of our mainstays and necessary services decide to take the poison pill of wokeness.

Because forewarned is forearmed.

We are almost certainly going to get one or two gut punches, and it will be bad. Very bad. But there are ways around almost everything. It’s just a matter of figuring it out and having plans.

As for that horrible nightmare? Let’s hope it was just an expression of anxiety.

But in either case, be not afraid. Fear helps nothing, and might hurt. And keep your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark

This is the ringing bell. Listen to it.

363 thoughts on “Ring The Bell

  1. I have just withdrawn the money I had on Paypal. When it shows up in my bank account I’ll take the next step.

    It’s something of an irony that people on the left are almost all fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, where the denial of rights to women starts out when, suddenly, the banks will not give women depositors access to their funds. . . .

  2. Regarding less tipping as a sign of bad times, I’ve noticed more cars broken down on the side of the highway when traveling, but I was thinking it was because I wasn’t traveling as much over the summer. Now it’s roughly twice weekly / monthly to big city to retrieve offspring (who have mentioned extending their sojourn in higher education—for good reasons, but that’s a horse of a different color).

    1. Re broke-down cars … I have noticed a similar thing, and it made me think back … remember when broke-down-cars-on-the-road were a regular sight, back in the 60’s and 70’s? And early 80’s perhaps. Then at some point which I did not really register, that ended, rarely did one see that until after the lockdowns. These are the good old days.

    2. Oh! That reminds me of something I’ve been noticing here too — cars with dents. There are A LOT MORE of them on the road. Heck my cars have dents. It’s just not financially feasible to pay the stupidly high prices today to get it fixed.

    3. In August, we were in Jackson Hole, whose main attractions are the Tetons and Yellowstone, and is usually very crowded in summer..Not this year, traffic was way down..And when we drove up to Yellowstone, where I have been many many times, it was virtually deserted in comparison with normal traffic…Even my wife said “where is everybody?” I said, saving money by cancelling their vacations…

      1. Yes people canceled Yellowstone and Tetons (because they are often a “package”). Was it due to “money” and gas prices? Not 100%. I’m sure that was a tipping point. Spring 2022 Yellowstone flooding had a bigger impact. Lamar Valley is still not open (Cooke City/Silver City suppose to be opening 10/15, it has to be open for winter). All but one of the YNP (recreation . gov) campgrounds never opened this summer, including Mammoth. The Yellowstone National Park Lodges managed campgrounds are open; I do not know about the Lodges. But just the closed campgrounds alone is a lot of summer lodging capacity that is full every night of the season, that just evaporated.

        We had planned to be in Jasper, Yellowstone, Tetons, on a big loop, in September. We cancelled, not because of fuel costs (we’ve seen worse, when we were a pickup/trailer tow combination … $100+ fuel fill? Whatever …), not because of flooding (although we were cutting a day off Yellowstone), but a previously not happening, got resurrected golf trip (I 100% get saint wife of the year award). As it turned out Jasper was shutdown from wildfire problems. Not only smoke, but power outages. At one point evacuated. We dodged that.

        Yellowstone and Tetons are our happy place. We’ve been so many times that now we aren’t spending two weeks between the two (typically starting in Yellowstone, two or 3 different parts of the park, then moving to Tetons). OTOH I am extremely angry at the PTB in Jackson Hole area … There is NO reason why one of Grizzly #399’s 2020 Quads was murdered destroyed, after she kicked them out as two years old May 2022. There had to have been a way for him to be razed and hassled away from residents (and residents are stupid for not using bear proof options). … Okay Rant Over. Yes, we got very lucky, and got some very nice pictures of 399 and the year old quads May 2021.

        Yellowstone and Tetons, in August, without tons of people … You lucked out! Curious. Where did you stay?

      2. Didn’t THE road through part of the park wash out last spring?

        Not being able to get to where you’re going might have influenced some of the cancellations.

        1. Yes.

          North East side Lamar Valley, Cooke City, Silver City, are still cut off from Yellowstone (last check Oct 15 road is suppose to open). North entrance from Gardiner to Mammoth is only open to commercial guides and commercial traffic. The “Old Gardiner Road” is being improved but they still have to improve road access from the Mammoth side, opening date for all traffic, TBD.

          Note, we’ve driven it before, lots of times. 4×4 or all wheel equivalent was “not required”, recommended, with good clearance, yes. It has always been two way, but pay attention, it was tight, as in one pulls off a bit and take turns. Very tight corners, steeper than normal seen road sections (8% – 10%). The section coming up out of Mammoth is very Steep (>12%).


          1. I was in Cooke in July and the local businesses were having a rough time. My second cousin owns a restaurant up there and we went for family solidarity but I hope they can weather through.

            1. There are a number of regular tourists that did not cancel their Gardiner or Cooke City/Silver City reservations, just ate the cost, because they wanted to do something. Did not help restaurants or the small shops. Once roads into Gardiner and Beartooth opened, others kept their reservations and went, even though there was no or limited YNP access for the same reason.

              Since you have relatives with services in Cooke City, you know how critical it is to get the highway out through Lamar Valley into Mammoth and over the hill into Gardiner is. Beartooth isn’t going to be kept open (would be a shock if that is what they do). Beartooth was only open 3 days before it closed again, and not entirely due to flooding on both ends, and the road damage on the pass (late snow). Highway to the Sun had the same snow problems delaying it’s open.

              We are re-planning our trip for next May. We will make the (cancel-able) reservations, but Yellowstone will depend on whether Lamar, and Canyon/Tower over Dunraven Pass is open. We normally spend our nights in West Yellowstone. But if we can I’d like to setup East entrance Cody lodging, then come in and go over Dunraven, then lodging in Cooke City or Silver City for two nights. Leave via Dunraven Pass, through Hayden Valley, then up and over to West Yellowstone, out the Madison, maybe one night there, then back in to Lamar, then down east side to Tetons and Jackson. (We’ll be coming from Jasper Alberta Canada.)

              1. Mom says she still has (living) cousins in Red Lodge. That they still own the house, or she thinks they do, that grandma grew up in. (Mom was wondering if the flood hit the house.) I think I’ve met them once, as a preteen (might have been 10?) Did not remember that when hubby & I were there Fall 2021, not that we were there long.

                Our “fall colors” trip. Rocky MNP -> Little Big Horn NM -> (Red Lodge) Beartooth Pass -> Lamar Valley & W. Yellowstone -> Tetons, and home. Did not have reservations except RMNP. Red Lodge and W. Yellowstone hotels were not Pet Friendly. Both were a PIA. I had to pull out the nuke option (a card that says Service Dog with Pepper’s picture on it … There are NO service dog registration/certification in the US … They are ALL scams.)

                The card in question from Tagsforhope. (https://www.tagsforhope.com/product-designer/wallet/) I have both the Oregon “driver’s license” equivalent, and the Service Dog one. First was too cute to pass up. Second, see nuke option. Says Service Dog, but does not say registered or certified. Does say “medical Alert”. Also have the tag Id’s for both (not that she wears them, she chews on tags, had to get a flat one for her collar).

  3. Seems PayPal is sending a lot of people “It’ll take 30 days to actually close your account” messages, I’m guessing hoping they’ll change their minds, because a BLEEPLOAD of people have/are closing theirs.

    Considering such a change of their terms had to have gone through lawyers and such(unless they’re run by complete idiots), how they decided to do this, I cannot fathom. I’d say you’re right, they forgot what they actually are and thought they could do anything they wanted without it being a problem.

    1. I really suspect they’re run by complete idiots and that their legal is having kitten fits.
      HONESTLY? They expected the right to go “No, I don’t do any of that, this is fine.” And then they could POUNCE.

      1. Their legal may be ESG or DIE hires too. It wouldn’t be the first time people hired for someone other than their competence drove a company into the ground.

      2. I just got a message from me telling me I qualify for their new credit system. I think I’ve used them once.

          1. I’ve gotten those messages as well.

            The Fun-And-Games is that I’m in the process of Killing All Of My Credit Cards.

            So I don’t want or need any more Credit Cards.

            And yes, what PayPal is attempting makes it less likely for me to want a card from them.

              1. Our credit union is (was?) pushing auto loans, but judging from the dearth of custom at the normally busy gas station, I suspect that will be dropped fairly soon.

                1. RE: financial institutions pushing loans – I have a particular credit card which never gets used for in-person purchases, only for one monthly automated billing from one vendor; the balance has never been over $75 for a few years and is always paid automatically from my checking account 15 days before the due date (that vendor’s automated monthly billing is in lieu of one large annual payment, so I get to use MY $$ longer and they’re willing to eat the credit card fee).

                  I have been getting weekly solicitations from the issuing bank containing checks for balance transfers to that card.

                  I smell very severe desperation among the financials. I’m betting they see what’s coming and are trying to bolster their positions before it fully hits. I doubt that will work for them the way they think it will.

                  1. Wells Fargo has been doing the balance transfer promotions for years. I’ve been with them close to 50 years now. (I had cards with competitors, who ended up getting assimilated into WF. Resistance is futile. Sigh.) Any travel goes on that card, as well as an on-line supplier or two. OTOH, the balance gets paid by check (manually!) as soon as the bill shows up. We don’t let WF have access to our main account.

                    1. Unfortunately, we’ve had snail mail bills show up too late for snail mailed checks to get there in time. EWEB and NWGas were particularly bad there for a bit (a lot of fuss on NextDoor). Bad enough before 2020. Majorly worse over the last two years. Unlike tax payments, to other financial payments the date mailed means nothing.

                      Gee. Who’d thunk that making snail mail go through Portland, for everything, would have an effect on prompt bill delivery?

                    2. We’re e-billing monthly invoices for all but Wells Fargo (I won’t bank with them any more, but the credit card unit has been reliable since forever) and Pacific Power (a Berkshire Hathaway company; I distrust them on general principles). Intervals beyond monthly tend to be snailed, with some exceptions.

                      Flyover Falls lost the local sorting operation, and it’s now out of Medford. At least with Pac Power, it already has to go to Portland, and WF bills from LA. I’ve had a few snags over the years. I can pay the credit card at a local branch, and paid the power bill via credit card over the phone once or twice. There’s usually plenty of lead time unless the bill gets hung up. OTOH, dead tree magazines get clobbered. Dropped one because the PO was so sporadic. On the gripping hand, parcel deliveries have been fine after the worst of the lockdowns. Had one where the driver showed up 2 minutes before the mail drop opened and brought the parcel back to the post office. Impossible to get a human on the phone there; was true Jan ’21, still true.

                  2. Well, if they hadn’t been loaning out 95% percent of their balance sheets (or whatever it is that fractional reserve lending allows them to do) maybe they’d be in better shape now.

                  3. I do not pay credit card annual fees.
                    I do not pay credit card interest.
                    I do not pay credit card fees.

                    That said, the vendors I charge against do eat a fee. Note, as of now, this includes local utilities (NW Gas, EWEB, and garbage). One of the reasons when we tip, we try to leave cash, not put it on the charge slip. Three of 4 CC have some sort of rebate structure (4th is attached to our credit union account, it is backstop for Oops, after the savings account). The Costco associated one is into “issue a check” when I get the rebate this next February.

                    Every credit card balance is paid off when it closes (plus, usually … I round up …).

                    I haven’t seen letters or even notifications to “pay off other debt” or checks to write against any credit card, in years. When it happens the notices will be deleted, or shredded, depending on method of delivery.

                2. Home refinance/equity was getting pushed a little, but higher interest rates aren’t helping.

                3. I get several credit card balance transfer offers and ‘free checks’ every month. ‘Personal Loan’ offers of $20,000 to $50,000 from banks (ignore the 20% interest rates). Every mortgage bill/statement comes with a refinance offer. “Put your equity to work!”

                  My equity is at work — I’m only paying 3% interest on 1/3 of the house’s appraised value. That’s hundreds of dollars a month I don’t pay.

                  Other than the mortgage, I have no debts. I don’t want any. I see ads claiming that the average American has $15,000 in credit card debt. I find that depressingly easy to believe, and I am quite satisfied to not be contributing to the situation.

                  Now if only the government wasn’t running up a $100,000 debt in my name…
                  The one thing we need more of from the government is LESS!!

                  1. Ditto. We have the house mortgage which is just 80% of double what we paid, but is still 33%, and dropping, against county guesstimate real appraised value. Interest rate … just over 3%. We do have two vehicle payments. In all 3 cases I pay more than monthly payment (budgeted). Plus we are earning a lot more on investments (have been, now ??????) than we are paying in interest. CC balances is the rest of our expenses, paid off monthly, so no interest. We haven’t carried balances on CC’s since Wards went away (hey, they are the ones that offered “lack of work insurance” that was actually worth it, until they finally figured out how they screwed up so bad … then we dropped it … “WE” still didn’t pay interest …).

        1. I haven’t. Probably because I bailed on Paypal years ago. Ten or more, maybe? They kept giving me emails for a few years after that, too. Never did quite trust those guys.

          I seem to recall that Jim Butcher had a villain with a line that poked fun at them, something about not trusting the folks at Paypal. Seems rather prescient these days, no?

      3. On the other hand, the left has gotten as far as it has because the right has often gone “this is fine”, or at the least didn’t feel it worthy to contest the field.

        Them expecting it to continue isn’t surprising.

          1. …and people still argue with me when I say leftists are imbeciles. This is money we’re talking about, and look at the reaction. Now recall what these same geniuses have been trying to do – and doing – to other people’s children for the past few years.

            They may be lucky if that nightmare of yours is the worst that happens.

      4. I’m reminded of a Twitter thread by someone who works in the legal field earlier this week:

      5. I can’t even imagine how any legal department would allow this to be sent out. On the other hand, companies were asking for illegal health information from people seeking medical or religious vaccine exemptions, so I guess they don’t make legal departments like they used to.

  4. I haven’t withdrawn my money from PayPal.

    But then I only used PayPal to “draw” from my checking account to pay some bills and/or to donate money.

    Oh, it was nice that PayPal existed since I purchased some ebooks for somebody and he used PayPal to pay me back.

    1. That’s the way that I use it, Paul – but I still have closing my account on the list for my next financial tasks day. Thing is, we have authorized them to make a transaction on the bank account to satisfy any debits to our PayPal account – which means they can get their $2.5K straight out of the bank.

      1. Same here – and I’m working on ways to avoid Paypal having the ability to raid my own bank account.
        I honestly don’t want to close my account entirely – it’s how I invoice and get paid by clients, as well as the means of keeping track of expenses, but I certainly don’t them to be able to sequester any of those funds. Any monies coming in will be transferred out of PayPal at once, or I might even ask clients to just send me a check by way of payment – that way, they can’t get their hands on any of it. And my daughter and I have already gotten Square accounts, to process payments on the spot at craft fairs. We expect that people paying attention may just give a miss to Paypal now.
        Curiously, our local bank has expedited check depositing through a cellphone program. Access the account on the cellphone, take a picture of the front and back, and bingo- deposit the check, no matter where you are.

        1. Our bank does that. Right now, like Sarah said, I’m getting paid through PayPal for a couple of anthologies so I can’t leave. But I’m starting to pay more people (like my cat sitter) through Zelle since Venmo is a subsidiary of PayPal.

  5. Never trusted PayPal, so while I use it, I don’t keep any money on it.

    As far as author sales falling off and people not eating out anymore goes, disposable income levels have fallen off the proverbial clip. It wasn’t something I really noticed until I read the post, but then I went back and looked and confirmed it: the costuming club I’m part of has had a dearth of newly-approved members and costumes over the last few month. We get new members on a fairly regular basis, same with current members making new costumes, and while there are slow periods, I think we’ve had maybe 2 new members/costumes over the last 3-4 months. That’s unusually low. But I get it: people just don’t have the money to drop on stuff like that before. Heck, I was going to put together a new costume this year but decided against it. In part because I’m saving up to buy a house (and here’s praying that I’ll still be able to afford it next year), but also because the cost of living is going waaaaaaay up. Cost of my weekly trips to the grocery stores has gone up probably 50%-60% from this time last year.

      1. Ah. Gotcha. I read “people who go to cons/make a living of selling in our world” and for some reason took that to mean “authors.” Mea culpa.

      1. Ditto.

        I just made a purchase on etsy using it, and once that’s concluded and I have my merch, I’ll be closing my account on paypal. Means I ought to close out venmo, too.

        1. Double Ditto. The ONE payment I made with Paypal was using a credit card. That card has been deleted from the Paypal account. No, none, zip, link to a checking, savings, or investment account. The CC used is manually paid by monthly trigger directly by me from our bank (might be electronically transferred, but the CC isn’t triggering an auto payment, it isn’t authorized to in any shape or form).

      2. The Reader takes this a step further. The account the Reader has PayPal link to is an extra in his brokerage account and contains only the money for the particular PayPal transaction being done by the Reader. There is nothing left to suck out after a transaction. Yeah, the Reader really doesn’t trust them.

      3. Never had a Paypal account, The only time it gets used is when I make a donation/payment via credit card where the recipient uses PayPal to collect funds.

        The worrisome thing is that two weeks after Biden was trotted out for his Triumph of the Shrill spectacle, the Treasury Department started meeting with banks to put together a plan to target the finances of “domestic terrorists”, i.e. anyone who expresses dissent. As I warned a while ago, Democrats are going to try to do a supersized Operation Chokepoint in order to do what Trudeau has been doing, and completing cutting off anyone who dissents from access to financial services.

        Sadly, when I was warning of how bad I thought things would get, I was not overstating things. I fully expected and continue to expect things to get very ugly. Just because they can’t win doesn’t mean that they can’t turn large swaths of things into an utter wasteland as they go down.

  6. The Pendulum of Reality swinging backwards is what they fear most and you cannot stop it. The Pendulum has gone as far left as possible and now gravity is pulling it back to the right. It’s kind of hard to fight gravity, since gravity will keep on pulling until you are so tired you lose grip. THEY are losing their grip as we speak. They have pushed the economic rope as far forward as they can and now it will likely be pulled back from them and formed into a noose by their victims.

    Their time will come. and we will win. Just wait and make sure THEY are the first to start mass violence against the People. They will have no moral high ground then and will soon flee the country like cockroaches when the light of Freedom is turned on. Hopefully, their private jets will run out of fuel when that happens!

    1. They already have started mass violence against the people. Witness the Saint George Floyd Riots/Summer of Rage/Whatever The Hell They Called It. They proudly claimed – and continue to claim – the moral high ground while burning cities to the ground.

      1. “Fiery but Mostly Peaceful” was the term of art they used.

        Possibly “Summer of Love”, in one place.

    2. Reality is that which doesn’t go away once you ignore it.
      BUT I disagree with you. there is no pendulum. They created a complete artificial “reality” and it can’t sustain without totalitarian control.

      1. Yeah, I was wanting to quibble over that also.

        We like physical metaphors, they are neat and tidy.

        Human behavior is quite a bit messier than most assumptions allow us to really consider.

        So things like the ‘state space’ and ‘dynamical loading’ of a pendulum ‘system’, are deeply and profoundly unlike almost everything in human behavior. There are a very few human behavior situations that can be found, and then drastically simplified, to look like a pendulum, and then only for a short period of time where everything lines up.

        1. I’d submit that one such behavior situation, an actual pendulum, involves steps, trapdoors and ropes. And it’s likely fairly near-term.

              1. RINOs, but yeah. Start with Mitt…

                (Gah, I actually voted for that jackass. My only defense is “better than the alternative”.)

                1. Every four years I get out my, “Darth Vader for President – when you’re tired of voting for the lesser of two evils,” button.

      2. I think I was talking more about the cycles of time (e.g. Fourth Turnings or Kondratiev waves or whatever people want to call them) than “reality”. The pendulum of “their Liberal reality” is swinging away from them and beyond their control. What cannot be maintained and sustained will not continue. For sure, the only way they can “attempt” to keep control is to be the enforcers. And there is a point that they will fail.

        1. I’m not sure I believe in those? I think they’re patterns imposed a postriori on history. Yes, styles of parenting, but I can tell you for most of history that didn’t apply except to the extremely rich.

          1. For everything there is a season. The same with life and civilizations too. We are entering a “winter” of civilization. Look back on history and you see that Reserve currencies of different countries only last 80 to 100 years. Italy Spain Holland France and England each had their turn as a “currency of trade” before the dollar. Even American history has a crisis every 80 years more or less starting at the American revolution, Civil war, then world war 2 where liberalism became the goal under FDR. We are about 80 years past then and due for change. The “pendulum” of liberal thought and actions has finally swung too far and now reality will come to them ( and unfortunately us) with a vengeance.

            1. Bah. B*llshit. There’s fashions in politics, and tech has changed. Seasons my butt.
              Winter my butt.
              What is collapsing is not civilization. It’s the Blue model.

              1. This. We’re both old enough to remember those last years of the Soviet Empire, when the Communists devoured themselves. For the younger readers – the Soviets were extremely powerful, until the whole ramshackle affair collapsed over a few months in late 1989.

                And I think we’re nearing that point with the Left. From near omnipotence to the dustheap of history. And the speed will be shocking.

                1. I agree that the Blue side is collapsing from its own “hubris”, but it will still be painful for us all. They still believe they have the power to win and are likely willing to do anything to keep control. (I.e. fully and blatantly steal the election to demoralize us all. I hope this will end with “winter” for them and hopefully death for their movement. For the rest of us, we must be strong and indefatigable.

                  Note I have heard from first-hand sources that after the Soviet Union collapsed, there were millions of deaths in Russia. People just couldn’t adapt to the new reality. From alcoholism and freezing to death in the streets to “suiciding Babushka” so you could get her apartment to sell it. No matter what the cause, there was a large die off and perhaps 10 million died. I remember the time I visited there once in the early 2000’s, seeing an old woman begging in the street. My guide stopped and handed her some money. The guide said, “I always give money. She’s someone’s grandma.” Times were so desperate (and still are perhaps) that people used to steal flowers from gravesides to resell on street corners.

                  Contrast that to America where homeless, mentally ill and addicts beg at every stop light.

                  A year or two later, I was in Germany and saw a nicely dressed old woman in a major city begging and realized her society had failed her. Ever since then, I always will give something to a begging grandma.

              2. Today, I managed to stop myself from continuing to draft an essay that is going to be more general rant on sorting theory. Will get finished later.

                But, the whole ‘generational patterns’ or ‘seasons in human history’ stuff rubs me as wrongly at the thing that inspired the rant.

                Theory has two qualities. One is the set of observations from which we may conclude that a theory could be true. The other is what it can be applied to do or solve.

                So, the first quality implies the questions of whether the observations were correct, and if the process of conclusion is one that should be valid.

                The second quality asks if the applications are useful, and how useful the theory is compared to alternative theories.

                One process that is often a very bad screw up is picking the data set to fit the desired result. Like, say, by cherrypicking only the data that fits, such as by only looking for a few examples. Thing is, with human behavior, it takes a great deal of effort to avoid having so few examples that assuming population parameters from the sample statistic is stupid. Even in cases where parametric statistics might otherwise be valid. Very many human behavior theories look a lot like maybe they run on cherry picking and echo chambers.

                Strict periodicity in human behavior looks to be similar in this to inevitable time trend models of human behaviors. Cherrypicked data that isn’t examined carefully enough.

                Beyond that, there exists a soft proof that human behavior theory only ever possibly explains the past, and does not in fact perfectly and reliably predict the future.

                Maybe we can identify elements of trends or especially steady states that can continue, but there is a certainty of surprise eventually, because our models are necessarily imperfect.

                1. I’ve found the fourth turning ideas very persuasive, the things they predicted seem to be coming true.

                  There are many 80 year war theories. 80 years is long enough for the majority to not have first hand experience of war. So they romanticize war.

                  The fourth turning idea that average parenting styles that shift because of failures from the previous style, create different interactions with government seems very apparent to me.

                  I’m gen X (Nomad) I don’t trust the government because the schools failed me so much over and over again. Millennials (Hero), most often had helicopter parents, who threatened the teachers with repercussions if they didn’t do their job correctly. I find Millennials are ridiculously trusting of authority as a group, because their helicopter parents created an illusion of general competence and ethicality from their teachers.

                  I think this is why Gen X liked libertarianism, and Millennials seem to want a dictatorship, if I meet one more Monarchist…

                  This is not specific people, individual child rearing may often be different, but the average parenting style creates an atmosphere that engenders different attitudes towards war and conflict.

                  1. Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of Monarchist advocating commentators online too lately…Yeah, I’m King/Queen, etc. and know how to rule best just because I was born that way! LOL Perhaps we need some sort of benevolent meritocracy that actually cares about raising all citizens and the country to their fullest potential (but knows that not everyone will be a rocket scientist). However, the problem with a meritocracy is who gets to choose people to rule on basis of their ability? Right now those people are oligarchs who have gained power/fortunes. Unfortunately, it seems the best we can get by voting these days is a kakistocracy or kleptocracy. Sighing Bigly…. All we can really do is raise our children the best we can and hope they can muddle through this mess after us.

                    1. I know that at least one of the monarchy advocating commentators was American. Actually you could include me as another American on your forum one time joking about Trump as monarch. lol 🙂

              3. What’s never worked can’t collapse and the Blue model has never worked. What is happening is that the rot, dysfunction and underlying tyranny of the Blue model is eating away at things like a caustic acid.

                1. It never worked, but it had the impression of working, because of the great unified facade of information protecting it. Now it’s reached a critical state. AND the curtain has fallen.

              4. Yes the blue model’s collapsing, but I do think it’s quite possible that there are many ways they can take civilization down with it.

                For example; “Hey guys no we we can win an election now but we can start a nice little nuclear war to postpone it.” I admit not too many years ago I’d have laughed at such an possibility, now, not so much.

                1. They can’t. We’re going to be profoundly uncomfortable, but they don’t take civilization down.
                  Dude, they’d have to have enough functional nukes. The fact that Bidentia is trying to terrify us should be a clue.

                    1. Jim, we bet our lives on it well before now. Nothing to do now but hope we don’t crap out.

                2. Nuclear explosive, etc., are machines, and need maintainers and operators.

                  Russians may have /nothing/ to throw at us.

                  What about us?

                  If we have our systems maintained, and we haven’t seen the public accidents to suspect otherwise, then the work is being done by proceduralists who are sometimes thoughtful.

                  Launch and targeting also have procedure. A president doesn’t just order Beijing, Three Gorges, Moscow, and Berlin nuked, they first have to request plans, etc.

                  Basically, for Biden’s level of demonstrated leadership ability, the timeline is wrong. They’d need a lead time to put politically reliable people in place that is longer than the time they’ve had since they could have realized that they might want to do so. Otherwise, they would need to be requesting a targeting plan that seems reasonable to a lot of people. Because Biden is not up for giving those orders coherently, and if a request does not seem reasonable, there are lots of procedural grounds for requesting clarification, or for ignoring illegal orders.

                  1. Except that they had two terms of Obama to start the process, and Trump probably wouldn’t have had the level of paranoia to stop it. Trump still believed in Rule of Law, and maybe still does.

                    1. THey’ve had thirty years.

                      Clinton, plus how every much Bush collaboration you care to assume.

                      The issue is not corruption of the people, the issue is /sufficiently/ corrupting the people without screwing over their ability to do the work.

                      These are physical objects, and not ones that it is particularly easy to regularly do a full function test of.

                      To keep them operational to the best of human ability to guess, you would need to know what they can do, and to have some ability to think. You would also tend to need personality traits of detail oriented, responsible, and ability to anticipate consequences.

                      If our devices are usable, it is pretty much sure that there is some sort of culture around them, and that said culture has a wee bit of inertia. And, factions of military services. It is also very likely that they are pretty jealous when it comes to a lot of things. So, they would not like to have their accustomed planning processes jostled by outsiders, and would tend to want a good reason.

                      Biden’s cronies have known for less than a year that they might want to do something squirrelly with nukes, and even that is generous, because they thought Plan A would just work out for them. That is not enough time to shuffle officers around, and have the new folks be in complete and effective control. Those programs are almost certainly still run by institutional insiders, who would launch on an ordinary lawful orders, but are probably too risk averse to act on some off the cuff word salad of a targeting order.

                      That would not be too much of a challenge, if Biden were a leader who had clear vision of what they were actually doing, and cared to intervene. Jill Biden and Kamala Harris aren’t in the formal chain of command, so they have a relatively limited ability to fix, if they knew what was going on, and really cared.

                      And, it isn’t like an annihilating first strike on the Russians would be a bad thing anyway.

                    2. Plan A was to go to phony war with Russia, and OF COURSE the right would side with Russia, because that’s how it works in their heads, so they could then slam us all in jail. Yeah.

          2. There are patterns of behaviors engraved into the human brain that are as predictable as the phases of the moon, I believe. These things cross such transitory phenomena as current era cultures, languages, and borders.

            They’re simple things. Human beings are social creatures. We tend to group up, even the most anti-social tend to go a bit wonky without a certain amount of human contact. We seek something to believe in. Not necessarily organised religion, mind- there exist those that satisfy that need for belief elsewhere (obviously).

            The most pertinent to my mind right now is that the natural state of man is abject poverty and privation.

            This is not to say that such is good and worthy. No. I was raised in relative poverty and privation and I very much like flush toilets and clean water, thank you. Rather it is to say that it is what mankind tends toward without tireless effort and hard work on the part of a good many men that societies tend to forget about when they’ve grown beyond bare survival, let alone affluence.

            In reference to the current tone of national politics, in a sense, the particulars do not matter. The effects do. And those effects show a sharpish trend toward barbarism, poverty, and a general decline in pretty much every nice thing. Entropy has been having quite the good day of late, despite the efforts of good order and discipline to hold it at bay.

            The current cheerleaders of the apocalypse (tongue in cheek, there) might think they’re making out well in their looting and corruption. But in the end, the world they are making is a far poorer one than what they had just a few short years ago.

            We’ve a long way to slip because we were so high up, relatively speaking. Things will get bad in places as the decline continues. Yes, bad- not merely uncomfortable. In some places they already show the signs. The looters in Cali. The open warfare in places like Chicago.

            The thing is, even at their worst these are fixable problems. Even the big ones like the logistical infrastructure or restarting the oil production. They can be fixed.

            And the economy can recover.

            Not just us. The world. One thing that all economies share is an intense dislike of instability. A stable US helps keep the rest of the world’s fractious nasties in check. That means more global stability.

            Now as to how we get there? Well, that part’s going to suck. Because things will be getting worse before they get better. Supply chain interruptions are already happening on a large scale. Parts are breaking down here and there. There will be even more lives and livelihoods lost in the coming days.

            But all is not dark upon the land, you know. The accelerated charge to the left has “left” many behind. Tulsi just left the D party today. And she encouraged anyone that supported her and thinks as she does to come with her. The modern woke Dems are insane.

            Of course anyone with sense can see this. Or rather, they cant unsee it. But such things are rarely mentioned in public. Tulsi left. And sure as Himself made little green apples, the mob will come for Tulsi.

            But enough people seeing that she can survive the mob will mean that at least a few of them will get the courage to leave, too. The modern woke left can’t survive without a big stick to threaten its own constituents with. All of their election tactics follow the same theme, too. “Vote for us or your granny, your benefits, your abortions, your free stuff goes away.” That’s a threat.

            When the threat of the cancel mob or the fibbies coming for you loses its power, the left is going to lose people in droves.

            Be not afraid. Hard times are already here. Bear up your burdens, keep your friends close, and say a prayer or two when you get a free moment. The strength to persevere is within every one of us.

              1. For sure, those currently reigning are intentionally wrecking our society, country, and world to “Build back better.” Whatever this societal process is called, the rich/powerful/elite think they will suffer the least and still maintain control. Unfortunately for them, there stands one country in the world, America, where the people still have enough power, (1st amendment backed by 2nd amendment) to stop their totalitarian plans. This is why they are trying so hard here to divide and conquer us either mentally or physically.

              2. Every four years I get out my, “Darth Vader for President – when you’re tired of voting for the lesser of two evils,” button.

                1. Shouldn’t that be ‘Cthulhu for President…’? 😛

                  I suspect that Chicago already has a Deep One for Mayor, wearing a human suit made by something that never got a good look at a real human.

      3. Also, they, cannot sustain their artificial reality without a huge amount of surplus money, only generated by a relatively free market, that has high trust.

    3. I think reality is more of an anvil or large grand piano dropping on their heads.

      I believe we are at the point in this cartoon where they have sensed a large shadow above them and are about to look up.

      A few more frames and it should hit them that they have badly misunderestimated how this would go.

      Hit them hard. Literally.

  7. When looking for alternative payment systems, beware of PP having purchased them but keeping the old name. In the last decade or so they’ve bought up like a dozen or so other payment processors.

  8. This was a test of the wokeness acceptance system. Other previous tests (being Zuckered, for example) did not provide sufficient impetus to force the desired lifestyle changes. Instead they found themselves mocked, and banning became a badge of honor.

  9. Don’t rely on a single bank account, if you have the means to use two or more firms. You may find ways to reap perks using one for some payments and the other for the rest.

    If you have to allow auto-withdrawl, set up a second account without it, and move funds promptly “blood from a stone”. Beware NSF fees. Read your terms, etc. Minimize your exposure.

    You may be able to block withdrawals above a small amount. The test transactions from the other side are usually tiny.

    Credit Unions can be good alternatives to big banks. Some are real bargains with good service. Shop around.

    If your circumstances allow, have cash on hand for at least a month, including smallish bills. Cash is king.

    Find the local bill pay / transfer places that are not usurous and learn to use them.

    If you are going to plan around transferring funds between your accounts and of other folks, set some up now and test. Then it will go through promptly at need. (The first one I sent to a relative in a jam took two weeks. The rest were prompt.)

    Have at least one ” credit card” based on ” add cash at the store”. This is the lifeboat for online/no-cash if your bank accounts get hosed up somehow.

    Be aware of various laws about money and moving it. Dont break the law. Pay your taxes like a good citizen. The above is just for protecting against some crook emptying your bank, or some rando dufus futzing it up maliciously.

    1. This is why representative free market systems out produce everything else.

      Time I’m farting around with bank accounts to make sure some idiot ideologe doesn’t rob me is time I’m not making useful, or at least entertaining stuff.

      And yes, I’ve heard the argument that most people waste most of their time so it doesn’t matter, but that 10-20% of actually productive people don’t magically not have to waste their time on the idealogical BS just because everyone else does.

      Their houses don’t float either!

      1. We consolidated into a single bank, Credit Union, a decade or so ago. Not that we have much money in it.

  10. Went out with Athena a couple of times recently to “sit down” places. Because of my work schedule and busy weekends both were on Friday nights. One at a Texas Roadhouse, one at Montana Mike’s.

    No waiting, either time. And that was with “we only have three servers tonight” at the Montana Mike’s.

    I also note that a lot of the “fast food” places are “drive through only” and anything but fast. Get up to the order station and “I’ll be with you in a minute” followed (5 or so minutes later by “Welcome to X, may I take your order.” Then another several minutes when I get to the window to pick up the food. Once or twice because maybe they’d just dropped the chicken nuggets or something and had to wait until they were done, but this has been a consistent pattern.

    I suppose I don’t have the backlog of experience to have seen this as any significant warning of things to come, and being me with the issues I have I’d likely have missed it even if I had such experience, but there it is.

    1. We got 1/4 beef last August, so our dinners out have dropped majorly. Don’t do fast food, none of our systems can handle it anymore, even if traveling. More frequent is to Red Lobster (unlimited Shrimp, every day until/thru(?) November, then back to Monday’s only). We avoid busy times (retired, and son gets off at 3 PM, so can), so walk in and get sat is very common. Yes, we all tip, very well. Still do.

      Let’s get real with the $15/hour “minimum wage”, and being a “livable wage”. We here all know, that costs were going up. No one can afford housing, food, and other expenses, on minimum wage)., on their lonesome. Not if it is $2/hour or $100/hour. As minimum wage goes up, so does everything else. I needed roommates, or a quad situation, to have housing in the ’70s, son did in late ’00s, nephew does now. Technically son still would even though he makes more than minimum wage, just not enough over to pay rent on own and save for the not-so-mythical rainy day.

      1. $15/hour? snort

        California has just announced it’s putting together a council to advise on changes in the state’s fast food industry. It’s already an open secret that one of the changes that the council will “suggest” (i.e. will be forced onto the industry using the full weight of the law) when it issues its report in a couple of years is a $22/hour minimum wage for the fast food industry.

        And note that this will only apply to the fast food industry. Other traditional low pay jobs, such as low level IT jobs, will still be allowed to pay less than $15/hour.

  11. Also, I think Little Brother might have finally gotten red-pilled. A little. He’s still drinking the Kool-Aid from what I can tell, but he’s become seriously disillusioned with the Leftist Elite.

    He got what he thought was his dream opportunity, a foot in the door into academia as a preceptor , about a year ago. It came with a decent salary and a three-year “contract” (not actually a contract – I forget the actual term – but more or less a guarantee that his job wouldn’t go anywhere for three years). His initial plan was to work three years as a preceptor then look for a research role that would lead to either a high-school teaching or tenure-track college position. But a year in and he’s already fed up with academia and talking about moving into the private sector. He’s sick of being overworked, underpaid, and generally treated like dirt by the administration, faculty, and students (not that the students are the ones paying him, but you know what I mean). He’s making peanuts while braking his bank whilst the professors are making bank for barely lifting their fingers. The wokeism that’s slowly but surely creeping into his field (physics) isn’t helping either.

    Me FINALLY landing a decent job with an honestly good company was also probably eye-opening. I’d bounced from bad situation to worse situation to seemed-to-be-a-good-situation-but-the-owner-went-nuts-and-drove-morale-into-the-dirt for years. Now I’m two years into my current position and things have only gotten better with time. Hopefully that proves to Little Brother that not all private sector companies treat their employees like crap.

    1. Academia has always been a cesspit and has always treated those lower on the totem pole worse than dirt. You learn that in grad school… and yet some of us kept going…

  12. I have a PayPal account, mostly for wholesalers who bill that way, but also to pay for postage to ship eBay sales and to occasionally make small eBay purchases. I currently have a small amount of money in it, enough to cover postage or small purchases, but I may rethink that.

      1. Well, yes, and the permission that you have granted them to access those accounts can be withdrawn at any time and with zero notice.

        I have only used PayPal because it can be used to pay for things. If that stops being true, then I will no longer have any reason to use PayPal. I do not plan to close my PayPal account just yet, but that may be coming.

      2. Bingo. Unless people keep a lot of money in the Paypal accounts themselves (and leave it in there now), the big risk is that the “fine” would be presented to a linked bank account and/or a credit card as a quasi-legitimate transaction.

        If a bank account has been totally forbidden to “roll over” to other accounts to prevent a (normally ‘bad’) insufficient-funds denial, a “Paypal-only” account could be a workable solution. Just as disputing such a credit card charge might be a viable backstop there. (What did they give me? Nothing but a hard time! Not even a transaction I ever initiated or authorized…)

        So much of this is uncharted territory, wild blue yonder stuff. How the banks and credit card issuers (often the same people) react to this will be key to how bad and how consequential it really is. (Will Paypal keep re-doing the same bad charge for one of these “fines” until you get rolled by the NSF charges by themselves? More important, will the banks let them, or slap them down?)

        And since the sources I’ve read (e.g. Volokh at Reason) quote their new, ah, policy as being PER VIOLATION, if the ‘ladies and gentlemen’ at Paypal truly decide to “POUNCE” (see earlier comment), your first encounter with this new surprise could easily be $5, 10, 20 or more thousand going “poof!” or dropping onto your credit card. “At our sole discretion” too .

        Suddenly the question has become, is it still worth the risk to have a Paypal account at all? The words “Paypal threat model” are likely to Be A Thing from now on… as we all find out whether Paypal just shot itself in the foot, or rather in the guts.

        1. I’ve kept my account so far, but I deleted the only credit card associated with it; I don’t have a linked bank account. I also deleted the same card from my eBay account. We’ll see how all of this works out if I have to buy something through PayPal…

            1. Update…Apparently you can’t delete the only bank linkage, and a single account doesn’t show up in the “Wallet”. Problem solved; deleted all data and closed the account.

              1. Used to be able to. Given that when I logged in tonight (did have verification via second source setup … Yea me), the site was plaguing me to “please you need to link a credit card or bank account to your paypal setup”, pretty sure I have no payment type attached. OTOH last time I used it was 2019, so … Yep. I’m out too.

          1. And delete requested. With “delete history first” request. I’ve used it exactly ONCE, in 2019, when Pepper & I started Agility Training. After first class paid for all subsequent classes and seminars with checks. But it was an option. Also lots of messages of “link a CC and bank account”. Nope and Nope. Bye.

            1. No, they would not need to show that they have been harmed.
              This insanity is a part of their Terms Of Service, and PayPal has defined their theft as “liquidated damages” meaning that the undefined damage that you caused by doing whatever they were offended by has been determined to be worth $2,500.00, and that is what they are taking from your account, or linked credit card, or bank account.
              Thanks for the discussion here. While I closed my PayPal account yesterday, I didn’t thinkbit through clearly enough to realize that I needed to close the bank account associated with the card I used to buy through PayPal. I had thought them a useful way to avoid exposing my credit card online. Oops.

              1. No. They would still need to. That’s the purpose of their “fine” to indemnify them for harm.
                Otherwise the terms of service is “I will get your money” period.

                1. That is the evil of their defining the amount that they will take as “liquidated damages”. By using their service, you gave agreed that if they think that you have offended, that they do not need to prove the amount of their damages because you have agreed that the dollar amount of those damages is $2,500.00.
                  Liquidated damages is the reduction of unspecifiable or unquantifiable damages, such as reputation or emotional damage, to a specific dollar amount, or, in this case, an agreement as to a “fair estimate” of the damage that PayPay would suffer if you breach the agreement that they demand you consent to to continue using their service.
                  This really is worse than you think.
                  And others will probably follow them.
                  Thanks, John Sage

                    1. They could be, and perhaps should be, but they wouldn’t have left the penalty clause in and suffered the kickback if they didn’t see some advantage in it. I didn’t read where their chosen venue is, but if it’s Cali or DC ??? And I also don’t know if they have an arbitration clause or other rights forfeiting language in the contract. (I am in Indiana, and we are a “four corners of the contract” State. Our courts will usually enforce a contract as written, construed against the drafter, if a provision is unclear, but I could see one of our courts enforcing that clause. It might not survive appeal, but that costs $$$. I am soon to be closing the bank accounts associated with the cards I have used with PayPal, to break any remaining link that may exist. This may force me to use Amazon more, and non-local independent merchants less, at least for a while. Thanks, John

                  1. John, there used to be the same sort of rot in software EULA agreements, that if in their judgement you had “abused” or pirated their software.

                    Jerry Pournelle referred to it in Byte as “Levitical Licensing: Thou Shalt Not Abuse Our Software. Whatever that means.” 😎

                    Companies found rather quickly that wasn’t very enforceable and largely dropped it. You had to actually steal it.

                    1. But I think that if they didn’t intend to use it, they wouldn’t have risked such kickback by putting it into their terms of use. Also, I have not looked to see where they have defined venue to lie. There are many jurisdictions where I no longer trust the impartiality of the courts. Koff – DC ? John

                    2. There is more than enough crazy going around. We are trying to get our new home established here in tiny farm center town in Indiana before the sh*t storm hits, but at least we sold our boat in September, because hurricane Ian ran it over at Titusville Florida, and did more damage than I could have easily afforded. It took the most damage of any of the boats in the marina, but didn’t sink. Thank G_d. John

                2. Commented on the blog, TLDR is that it really is that bad, and that the term “liquidated damages”* in a contract is supposed to be a fair estimate of the damage that PayPal would suffer if they determine that you have done something that they don’t like, and that by using their services, you agree with them. Thanks, John *see Investopedia, definition.

      3. I have mine tied only to a credit card. I am wondering if they can, or soon can, extract monies through my credit card without my authorization. Hey, call me paranoid if you want but the laws change almost daily to reject the innocent.

        BTW; I just tried to access my paypal account and found the rules have changed, they won’t let me log in unless I give them a cell phone number.

  13. I dunno.

    Usual reiteration that the information any one can have is going to be sharply limited, and that this can have both positive and negative implications.

    Taking care of your own sanity, and making sure that you can cope with various contingencies needs to be a significant priority.

  14. Noisome in Commiefornia has decided that it shall be illegal for Doctors to not follow the State’s Edicts in ALL Things. That should go well.

    1. And shortly California will have a dearth of (qualified) doctors. This is what is known in the business as “Bad Luck” (tips hat to RAH).

        1. I will note my word in parentheses 🙂 . Any good Chinese Doctors that show up in California would soon head out as California is much too much like the place they left.

      1. He also decided gas is too expensive, so he’s adding a new “greed tax” to producers and/or distributors. Of course, that won’t be passed along…


        1. California is so bad that they have companies looking to relocate to North Africa because they are more stable and less banana republic-like than California under one party rule by the identity group Marxists.

          1. That rings a bell. Oh, the French High Speed Rail folks. Went to Morocco and in a few years managed to make a line where Cali has just strung them along in the decades since deciding to go highspeed.
            I recall thinking “When you’ve managed to piss off the French . . . “

            1. New York Times ran an article over the weekend about the California High Speed Rail clusterfrak. It’s behind a paywall now, but it shed some rather interesting (though completely unsurprising) light on how political “considerations” have frakked the project up beyond all hope of success.

              SNCF, the French National Railroad operator, came in in the early 2000s and submitted a proposal, and apparently won a contract, but the California High Speed Rail Authority ignored, set aside, or outright rejected every single suggestion and recommendation they made because they didn’t meet the project’s ever-changing political requirements. SNCF finally pulled out in 2011 and told CHRA that they were going to North Africa, because North Africa was, and I quote, “less politically dysfunctional than California.”

              And here’s the kicker: SCNF made good on their promise: they went to Morocco and helped Morocco build a high-speed railway between Tangier and Casablanca. The initial design process began in 2008, construction began in 2011, and the line was completed in 2018. So it took a third-world nation about a decade to design and build a successful high-speed rail corridor while California’s been “working” on their system for over twice that long and has only a few miles of incomplete right-of-way in the middle of nowhere to show for it. If that’s not a damning indication of the project’s failure, I don’t know what is.

    2. Does anyone know if their exit tax went anywhere? Grewsome was floating the idea of a 100% tax on any real estate sold that didn’t result in a corresponding real estate purchase inside the state.

      Pretty standard for despots as they become desperate to keep the producers captive. I never heard if it passed.

      1. What? People:
        .1. Don’t Die.
        .2. Do not get transferred out of state.
        .3. Sell, then rent.
        .4. Get married, only need one property.
        .5. Sell rentals.
        .6. ???

        Grewsome is sparing with Fiden for idiot of the decade/century … OTOH no reason they both can’t win the title.

    3. Were I a doctor in California, I’d be terribly tempted to sue him for practicing medicine without a license.

      1. Except we’ve had the 30 year precedent of insurance company clerks practicing without a license, the DEA practicing without a license, etc., with every doctor’s treatment decision they’ve overridden.

  15. Thank you, Sarah, for covering this. The PayPal fine announcement shocked me to no end. I have closed my account. In addition, a thirty second search showed me that Venmo is owned by PayPal and Zelle by a coalition of banks including B of A and Morgan Stanley (I’m going with Zelle for now). I got an email from Gab pushing an alternative called GabPay but have not yet looked into it.

      1. Looked it up. The ownership is listed as “redacted for privacy.” If anyone has info about it, I am interested but the fact that I can’t really find anything about it on line is concerning.

      2. Aha…I thought they were creating their own system, and wondered how the heck they were managing that. This makes more sense.

      3. FWIW, Peter Grant says he is going to switch to Gab Pay, so there will be a real life pioneer. I haven’t needed PP for several years, but if it becomes necessary, I’d consider GP or the unskinned version.

        (My main objection to Gab Pay now is the fact that the user documentation on Gab is strictly video. I’m both bandwidth limited and my hearing is rotten, so I much prefer something I can read. Started to fall back asleep looking at the EULA while pre-caffeinated…)

      4. Jim Rawles of Survival Blog closed paypal and went to Gabpay. Said it was easy because he already had a Gab account. Also said that one didn’t need a Gab account to use the Gabpay system.

    1. Parallel Economies is another I’ve heard of as an alternative to Stripe and Paypal. Haven’t researched it yet. Run by Dan Bongino and touted as censorship resistant.

      Carefully keeping an eye on things for now.

          1. I started looking into got money’s restrictions, there are a lot of you can’t use to got money buy…, many more or less legitimate but many depending on the definition of what’s what for a given day. It’s not money which you can spend anywhere, you can’t pay for meds, buy alcohol or travel using it, and for example, if they define a book you’re buying as porn or obscene your Lhit out of suck. One would need to think thrice about buying, for example, some of Philip José Farmer’s books or even Mark Twain’s 1601 using got money.

            1. I just checked pop money’s terms of service as well. A lot of restrictions there. Can’t buy tobacco ammo or firearms or “goods or services that include any language or images that are bigoted, hateful, racially offensive, vulgar, obscene, indecent or discourteous;…”

              Oh well, looks like we’re limited to; I got this here apple core, two marbles and a fish hook I’ll trade you if you let me whitewash that thar fence.

            2. Then the question is this: does Gab’s “skin” obfuscate those purchases into something got money will allow through?

      1. There’s also popmoney which seems to be quiet but entirely legit. Also appears to be cheaper than PP. I haven’t looked beyond a very basic kicking of the tires though so there may be issues I’m not aware of

  16. FWIW, Tulsi Gabbard officially announced she’s leaving the Democratic Party. Says she can’t tolerate the things they’re doing any longer.
    The lady is nowhere near being a conservative, but she’s been one of the few voices over there with even a lick of sense.

    1. She shines a light on their local ad campaign ” Vote Democrat! They Vote For You”. No, no they don’t, unless you are an oligoi. All the hoi oligoi wants are not what the people want

      1. I believe you’ve misinterpreted that; try “Vote Democrat and You’ll Never Have to Vote Again; We Do It For You”. Has the advantage of accuracy, too… 🙂

    2. She started edging away back when DiFi was talking about a religious test for federal judges (and others). Gabbard objected on both Constitutional grounds and personal grounds.

      1. She left office in 2021, so the latest Leftist garbage out of DC can’t be blamed on her. On BOTH impeachment votes, she voted “present” – not overly courageous, yes, unless you were a Democrat. Pretty reliable yes on VA funding, etc.

        DID vote for most of the Second Amendment Nullification stuff; a big strike against her. (However, she was recently photographed with an AR-15 – slow release red pill?)

        Not that I would vote for her – unless it was a choice between her and her predecessor as Representative from Hawaii. That was Maizie Hirono…

        1. Yeah she was the closest thing the Democrat party had to a rational actor (and not that close). The Blue dogs got punted long ago, The last of the classic Liberals are jumping ship. All that’s left are greedy oligarchs and brain damaged communists (but I repeat myself). There is an idea in US history of party systems (see here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_system#United_States although it is biased as its wikipedia). People have been wondering if we’re seeing the start of a new system. Trump and the shifting of party bases seems to hint strongly at it, for example Blue Collar headed primarily to R where it had been dependable D, Large Corporate almost totally D which had been R since Gilded age although moving in 60’s on, Various “minorities” unsticking slowly from D and voting more to their income/job classes as they rhetoric from the D gets ever more bizarre hints a change is under way. Last big party shift was considered mid 60’s although some push it back to the FDR era. Usually the system swings every 30-60 years, so we’re way overdue. As noted by our hostess the folks in deepest trouble seem to be the “intelligentsia”, a class I think Nita Arbel of “Spin, Strangeness and Charm” has called the Brahmandarins. They’ve backed themselves onto a ledge and the ledge is crumbling under them. The resulting panic and assorted death throes as they try to save their sorry asses is going to be ugly. If they had any brains they’d let go and be happy with the multiple millions they’ve got. But they care about money as a means and as a scoring system. What they really love is the power, and that is what makes them so foul and so dangerous.

          1. Betsy, one of the 3 way ties, of those running, left the Democratic party to run as Independent. Same reasons as Gabbard. Taking the more to middle than left with her on the vote. Speculation Republican candidate might take governorship with < 40% of the vote due to the democrat voters splitting. Praying it happens. Won’t hold my breath in anticipation. Finally, we will see. Not that the republican, other than the democratic ads scare tactics, is much further right than middle, if that. But better than the alternatives.

            1. I’ve been wondering just who is going to get clobbered by the Independent in the OR governor’s race. The fact that the D is pretty much welded to Despicable Kate’s policies might just put her in third place. OTOH, I’d rather be disappointed by the R than curbstomped by the D. No good clue on the Indy.

              Making the really rash assumption that vote-fraud by mail hasn’t already predetermined the winner. Sigh.

              1. Making the really rash assumption that vote-fraud by mail hasn’t already predetermined the winner. Sigh.

                There is that. OTOH enough of even Portlandia is torked at Brown, that maybe they will let things fall as they will. After all they have the high probability that if they guess incorrectly the will of the people, their side has a proven history of peaceful demonstrating their irk.

              2. Even when the fraud is proven, stolen offices remain stolen. It’s the greatest weakness of our system.


                “On Tuesday, a 7-2 majority of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of David Ritter. It should come as no surprise that Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Jackson Brown were the two dissents.

                But despite the hundreds of ballots being thrown out, Ritter’s election loss will stand, and Cohen will keep the seat.”

                  1. In other election news, Collin County finally acknowledged that the application to be an actual election watcher I submitted back in freaking August was actually received. They still haven’t done anything with it, but at least they can’t claim I didn’t send it.

          2. We’re definitely seeing the endgame of a major realignment of the parties. Big Business threw over the GOP for Democrat crony capitalism in the mid-90s. And now the blue-collar lower middle class voters are realizing that the Democrats have abandoned them…while the populist wing of the GOP is ready to welcome them with open arms.

            The other issue at hand is that the scions of Wave 5 immigrants are aging out of the Democrat coalition.

            1. The problem is they are both Big Government parties. The only difference is what they want the government to spend your money on after they steal it. What we need is a party that will take a chainsaw to the federal government and prune off about 95% of it — then decide what bits of the remaining 5% are actually worth keeping.
              There is nothing so simple that the government can’t fuck it up.

      1. And to reward the wrong man (or woman) for doing the right thing. No, we don’t forget who they were and what they did. But there are no angels among us today. We work with what imperfect tools we have to make a better world.

        1. “The way you change things is to make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things”–Milton Friedman.

          My concern is that they’ll say whatever they have to to get a position of authority, then once in said position will do whatever the aich ee double hockey sticks they want without regard to anything they said. That was my concern with Trump (and I have never been more glad to have been wrong about anything in my life), but I’m less sanguine about lightning striking twice.

          Thus, reward what they do but be all kinds of skeptical about anything they say.

          1. “…once in said position will do whatever the aich ee double hockey sticks they want…”

            I believe you’ve just described 90-95% of all politicians and bureaucrats for the past , oh, 5500 years or so. There are rare exceptions, of course, Trump being the most recent well-known one.

      2. Trust but verify.

        Show me.

        Concern: Runs for Veep or Senator as centerish/moderate Repub. Then goes deceptiCon and votes Lefty like before.

  17. This . . . might explain why I’m being pushed to get more Familiar Generations stuff done NOW. Not as strongly as in 2020 – early 2021, but I’m getting Nudged that the books need to be done. (Not fans, not other writers, not family, but, ahem. Yeah. Make of it what you will.)

    1. FWIW, I’ve decided to binge-read the Familiars series again. Now reading Book 7, and got a half hour at the taqueria.

      Re restaurants: I’d occasionally tip (It’s order at the counter, and one either picks up when the number is called, or if they’re not busy, will bring it to the table.) Sticker shock stopped my tipping, though I’ll try to get back to it. OTOH, the place is a lot less crowded and the people from various auto and aircraft businesses aren’t showing up right now…

      As a side note, the food bank head says that a fair amount of the people who’ve been donating food are now clients. Yikes. Further aside, we used to double donate to another group during the Covidiocy lockdowns, but it’s getting tight. The home-grown zucchini we used to donate got eaten or preserved (dehydrated–partial substitute for bread in salmon cakes).

      1. Yeah, my church is asking for peanut butter for the local food bank. So I guess it’s not just my usual store that’s been pretty spotty on the peanut butter shelves for months.

            1. Peanut butter has been iffy since the lockdowns. I cut back on my own consumption, but try to get some big jars of Kroger PB each month for the mission. Sometimes, I can, but it’s been short some months. This time, instead of the big jars, they got enough of the next size down to make the quantity we normally get.

              The mission has both a residential program and a drop-in meal setup. They got NIMBY’d out of expanding in one portion of downtownish Flyover Falls, but they’re close enough to another poor neighborhood and have decent access in the new place.

              We give them staples from the restaurant supply (big bags of rice & beans) each month, and peanut butter. Seems we’ve answered prayers more than once.

          1. Ditto here. At least locally at: Fred Meyers (Kroger), Costco (better but still can see gaps), Petsmart and Mini Petmart (pet food is particularly bad).

            1. I’ve been grabbing cat food when it’s there. Got 9 1/2 big bags of dry chow, 4 1/2 cases of cans. I’ll keep buying, and hope it’s enough. None of this is the cats’ fault.
              Bert: “What did you do?”

              Earl: “Set a bomb and tossed it in your truck.”

              Bert: “WHAT?! There’s two and a half tons of high explosive in that truck!”

              Earl: “It’s enough, right? Oh, God, Bert, don’t tell me it’s not enough!”

              Bert: “Enough?! — — — Run! RUN!!

              1. Cats are on “stomach sensitive” food. Not prescription thank goodness (also not inexpensive). While I can get a bigger bag, I’ve never been able to get more than one at a time. For awhile I was buying all the not tuna or beef flavors of Fancy Feast Toppers, that were in when I was shopping. Then they quit eating that. Had to find something else. The Revel tuna with crab and tuna with salmon is currently on the “yes” list. The dog, low calorie kibble/canned combination, that she is finally losing weight on, OTOH, is a PIA. I can get the cats canned food at either Fred Meyer or Petsmart, but not the Mini Petmart (did not check for the cat kibble, at Mini Petmart). Both dedicated pet stores have the dog kibble and canned, or are suppose to have the canned. Yes, when I see the canned dog food, I wipe out the stores. I had 8 cases built up at one time. One case of that left, scored 1/2 a case a few days ago.

                1. I was able to get the dog food (Diamond Naturals) at the Coastal Farm & Ranch store. They had been short last year, but we found another F&R store that had it. (Grange Coop). FWIW, Coastal has a good supply of various brands right now.

                  Kat doesn’t need specialty dog food, but Sara (16 year old Lab-Aussie) did. Her food supply was shaky in 2020-1, but the vet/animal supply outfit in town had just enough to squeak by. (That was Royal Canin GI, both canned and kibble.)

                  We have 8 months of canned and mumble months of kibble right now. The Diamond bags are well sealed, and mice haven’t figured out how to break into that shed.

                2. I buy my dog food from a company called Life’s Abundance. So far, they are having no problems supplying me, and it’s not too expensive.

                  1. I’ll have to check it out.

                    My problem with the dog is running out of low calorie, little dog calorie, options. Just limiting calories, with any food, does not help, and has proven to make matters worse.

                  2. Life Abundance is about what I pay/# for Pepper’s kibble now. Calorie count/cup is too high, even on the weight loss version. No can option. Something to keep in mind if I can’t get what I have her on now.

        1. And when peanut butter is usually what people give them. . . .

          (Jelly, not so much. How do you have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with only peanut butter?)

    2. Same here. All the Sharp Wars books are wanting to come out Right Now. And I still have three more events this year, which will take a chunk of time away from writing.

      The one that was supposed to be a 10K or less story for an anthology is already at 11K and heading upward. Several scenes not yet written or needing a bunch of fleshing out because they were originally done in writing sprints, so I glossed over the stuff that I’m bad at.

  18. The first thing they’re going to do is try to put Trump in prison to intimidate the rest of us. Then I’m guessing they pick nobodies like us at random to destroy.
    I find myself very ironically picking Abbie Hoffman to quote about this.
    “The first thing you gotta realize is we’re going to get our asses kicked. The second thing is, we’re gonna win.”

      1. Agree. I mean the Maralogo Raid was damning to everyone except Trump. Trump has essentially tied their hands with the Special Master and the Special Master successful block of using Anything that was seized, until he is done going through the documents. Plus his request of list of documents expecting to find. Implying that anything not on the list, privilege or not, is fishing for a crime and poison fruit activity. Granted by one Obama appointed judge, blocked by another, now before the SCOTUS request.

        1. I’m betting that Trump’s office clerk’s had a secret list of EVERYTHING in those Presidential record boxes. This will result in the DOJ and FBI hand’s being caught putting “cookies” into the jar!

          1. HeeHeeHeeHee

            (Evil Cackle)

            OMG. I pray so. I really, really, do.
            Dang. Now where did I put those popcorn future shares ….

      2. “Then I’m guessing they pick nobodies like us at random to destroy. ”

        Well, they may not be complete nobodies, but the 11 pro-life protesters the Good Guys just went full Gestapo on weren’t exactly celebrities.

      3. I must respectfully disagree. In order to keep ordinary folk in line, they have to thump the occasional nobody. The fear must be that -anyone- can fall under the gaze of Sauron, and draw a most unpleasant visit by his minions.


        The high profile raids prove their omnipotence.

        The low profile raids prove their omnipresence.

        Both are essential.

        Note the recent raids on relatively obscure nobodies on the “wrong” side of the abortion argument.

        They are going about it badly, of course. Poking around with various fingers when they need to be coordinated smashing fists. Josef Stolen (The Man of Steal!) is, after all, Failureman.

        He has already screwed things up so badly that the Left is set back decades. “Woke”, ironically, woke up the wrong folks. And now, “woke” meets “nOpe”.

        nOpe ( implying that raised “tallman” digit )

          1. Yeah, that’s the thing. To terrorize people you need to announce that you’ve picked someone at random to arrest. There’s a scene in Fahrenheit 451 where after the protag escapes they watch a news story about him being arrested. The other guy comments that it’s probably just some poor sap who likes to take nighttime walks. Why that works as terror is because 1. it’s announced on TV, 2. Everybody knows (even if they don’t admit it) that the guy arrested is NOT the guy they’re looking for, and 3. they all know someone who is slightly odd, so now they’re afraid they’ll be arrested for nothing. That’s how terror works effectively.

            Arresting nobodies with no fanfare does not sufficiently intimidate the larger population if they never hear about it.

          2. You would notice your friend going silent. The families will squawk. And the presstitutes will announce the arrest of “radicals”.

            Standard terror ops. Has to happen, because no one can feel safe.

    1. The Fibbies have allowed themselves to be used as blatantly political stormtroopers. They can’t unscrew the pooch now.
      When police arrest violent criminals to protect innocent people, they are Jackbooted Fascist Stormtroopers.

      When police arrest innocent people at the behest of corrupt politicians, they are National Heroes.

      1. The FBI clearly doesn’t agree with you on the idea that they’re all down with being political tools.

        Or they wouldn’t have carefully avoided involving the local office for Mar A Lago.

        Don’t give the power-mad more power than they think they have!

  19. I’m almost glad my Paypal account was hacked a few weeks ago, and after getting it cleared up I deleted my account in disgust.

    I had a pretty nasty dream myself over the weekend, but more subtle than overt: all the power went out and the internet went down.

    1. Huh. Mine was sitting in front of my computer and unable to remember a single one of my passwords – and couldn’t find my cheat sheet.

      (Yes, I write all of them down. No, they are not out in the open, they are in the fire safe. Yes, I am home almost all of the time these days, so they are first going to have to figure out how to get around the Glock.)

      1. You mean BRAINWASHING people for the murders! Didn’t you see her in the Manchurian Candidate???

        1. Yeah But I also saw her in “The Court Jester”. As an ingenue she (and Glynnis Johns, Yes the mom from Mary Poppins, just trust me) was rather striking. And even at that age she was quite a good actress. There are so MANY parts she’s done From Jessica Fletcher to Mrs Potts, to Mrs Lovett from Sweeney Todd and I can’t think of one she didn’t seem to throw her heart into. She will be missed.

                1. I thought it was the chalice from the palace that was dropped and now the flagon with the dragon holds the brew that is true. I’m gonna have to go back and watch that movie again.

                2. Wow enough misinformation here to tick off ZuckerBook :-). The original dialog is quoted here starting when they break the Chalice from the Palace:

                  Danny Kaye: The pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true, right?
                  Mildred Natwick: Right, but there’s been a change. They … broke the chalice from the palace.
                  Danny Kaye: They … broke the chalice from the palace?
                  Mildred Natwick: … and replaced it with a flagon.
                  Danny Kaye: A flagon?
                  Mildred Natwick: … with a figure of a dragon.
                  Danny Kaye: A flagon with a dragon.
                  Mildred Natwick: RIGHT.
                  Danny Kaye: But, did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
                  Mildred Natwick: Noooo, the pellet with the poison is in the flagon with the dragon, the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
                  Danny Kaye: The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon, the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
                  Mildred Natwick: Just remember that.
                  Danny Kaye: Yes, thank you very much.

                  Things go severely downhill from there… The Court Jester has some incredibly great slapstick, including Danny Kaye fencing alternately magnificently and horribly with Basil Rathbone .

    1. And Louise Fletcher recently passed as well.

      RIP Nurse Rached, and your equally evil reincarnation Vedik/Kai Winn.

  20. Didn’t use PayPal much, but I did shut it down over the weekend. I use a local credit union so hopefully won’t run into the “woke bank” syndrome, though it did get absorbed by a bigger credit union so I’ll have to wait and see what happens.

    1. The “big” city in our rural county (pop 20,000 for the city, three times that for the county) has 4 credit unions that I know of, and we’re eligible to belong to three of them. (The last is for public employees and students.) So if necessary, there might be alternatives.

  21. Thank you for the post and the comments have been informative too.

    I’ve been thinking hubby and I should look into an account at our local credit union to diversify our holdings. But now I think maybe is the time. I even think we should get separate accounts, which we have never had since we’ve been married, just in case.

    But I dunno, would that look suspicious? We’re old people who pay taxes and have never done anything wrong, but that doesn’t stop them from making things up.

    1. We’ve only had separate accounts when required (i.e. our IRA’s were with the credit union at one time, so needed our own “as primary” savings account). Now we just have one checking/savings account (with minimum “pay bills” with small emergency fund) with hubby as primary, and me on the account. I had to lookup which of us was primary (run into that with utilities, house, cars, too. After almost 44 years (in Dec) we can’t remember how we’ve set things up.

      It has been almost 25 years, now since the following happened. When I worked at a small tech the engineering staff used to regularly go to lunch together. One outing one of the other application software engineers asked everyone how they handled their finances as married couples. Every single couple, except her and I, had 3 accounts. Each spouse had their own accounts with a third joint “household” account that each paid into based on their earnings. Blink. We are not talking about couples with widely divergent income or prior assets before marriage (freely disclosed). We still don’t have separate accounts. She, OTOH, did separate their accounts to take away his ability to waste spend money. They also divorced not long after (3 children, age 3 – triplets). During the discussion, I made it clear that hubby and I have similar spending habits and we discuss big ticket items (to death if I’m honest) … As in once a door-to-door sales person stated “He wouldn’t feel the need to discuss getting tires for that there truck would he?” My answer “Damn straight he 100% definitely would discuss getting new tires on that there truck!” Sales person did not get the sale.

      1. Wow, that’s…sad. My wife and I have been married 31 years. We have accounts at two banks, but both our names are on all of them.

        1. I was really shocked.

          I have known couples who had separate accounts before, but they had reasons for it. In all cases it was a widow/widower who had prior assets, and children involved, to keep separate. Other than that? What? What they described smacks of the old “household allowance” account … shudder. It really was a household allowance account, only both contributed to the account rather than just the “traditional working partner” the husband.

          Hubby and I combined assets as soon as we moved to Washington state for for first full time work out of college. Had to change banks back then anyway (no cross state banking back then). OTOH then our “assets” were our student loans, the loans from his folks, and mine (so poor we had to borrow money to go to work). An account to deposit our first checks into. Did we have a “budget”, ever? Yes, kind of. Still do. I use Quicken to track monthly guesstimates. Is is it strictly stuck to? Oh hell no. Never has been. OTOH we are a lot more loosey goosey with expenditures now … we can afford to. But neither of us are not big impulse spenders, never have been. Oh we will spend large amounts (triggering a notice from CC of “Call if you did not spend this amount at XYZ? It is out of character.”), but so not on impulse (after talking it to death, yes, impulse, hell no).

  22. We have a Paypal account that we mainly use for Ebay stuff. I’ll probably keep the account, but move the underlying bank account to one that I will only use for Paypal, disconnecting it from the rest of my banking services.

  23. So I’m not the only one getting ominous nightmares. Welp. I suppose confirmation is… useful? (Can’t use “good” about this, it’s too depressing.)

    Will be looking forward to whatever you learn re PayPal alternatives; the idea of them drawing off your linked bank accounts really… sucks.

    Time to figure out if there’s any way to juggle my current schedule to both get enough sleep and quiet time when I’m not exhausted to write.

    Hanging in there, though. One step at a time….

  24. I’ve been watching the financial sector for a few years. We don’t have enough money to do big investments, but we do own some property because it was necessary, and because we have the skills to do our own refurbishing and maintenance. When our mortgage company offered us re-financing early last year we took it. So most of our assets are safe as we could reasonably expect. [We bought those properties LOW] I’m also radically expanding my garden and have plans to raise meat rabbits if necessary. [I have cats to feed darn it.] But Ron and I are pretty adaptable, good at problem-solving, and healthier than average for our ages [57 and 65], so we’ll manage.

    1. I researched what our bank would do with a refinance. Should have pulled the trigger. But at our current 3.35% rate, wasn’t a huge difference monthly out pay, unless I refinanced for another 30 years. Did not want to do that. Bonus, closing fee? They would have Paid Us!. One of those things we talked to death and missed the boat; it has firmly sailed that-away.

  25. Perhaps Jerry Pournelle was right and writing as entertainment (not as literary art) is a counter-recession/depression industry, and pays best when everything is in the crapper.

    First-guessing “Jerry is right” has been a proven winner from The Strategy of Technology all the way down to the fundraising prospects for Sarah A. Hoyt’s blog, so I’m quite inclined to believe him there..

    And I Seem to Recall that a few now still well-known pulpish SF mags did a pretty good business way back in the not-so-roaring Thirties… even with what one of my characters called “industrial” publishing rather than today’s “indie.”

    1. Movies did huge business back in those bad old days, too. Adjusted for inflation, people back then spent a LOT more money on movies back then than at any time since.

    2. Our fallen friends leave us a legacy we must be honor bound to carry forward. Shoulders of giants, friend. Study well, work hard, and live to be an example to the younger generation.

      There’s naught to be ashamed of in that attempt.

    3. Dr. Pournelle was the one man whose reasoning I rated higher than my own.

      Yes, that’s arrogant. It’s also true. If I disagreed with him, I started by checking my own logic chains, not his.

    4. I recall hearing/reading that one and only “luxury” good that had sales go up during the Depression was the radio.

      Entertainment, REAL entertainment, not “It’s good for you!” fauxtainment is an ‘escape’ that might well be needed indeed.

  26. Oh, Sarah, don’t you know that accusing Paypal of doing exactly what they publicly announced they were doing is “misinformation”?

  27. I closed my PayPal account today. I’ve used them for years to pay artists for my book covers, and editors and copyeditors for their freelance work, etc. Now I’ll find a different method.

    The garden is almost entirely processed. I go downstairs sometimes and look at my rows of pretty jars and I’m comforted, a little. The winter is going to be harsh, but we will endure. They cannot break us.

    1. Good for you. I just planted winter vegetables in my garden boxes, and it makes me happy to see the 7 peas that have sprouted despite something digging most up and eating the seeds! They didn’t want the lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, or brussel sprouts, go figure…

  28. Iirc, back in the day, ebay sellers would accept money orders via P.O. Box. Is that feasible for you, Sarah? At least as was an extra option?
    As regards to restaurants, we only recently got back to buying Chinese takeout . Two out of the three we’ve ordered from have gone to “takeout / delivery only, no dine in.”

    1. The Chinese restaurant BIL and his wife use has gone to “takeout / delivery only” too (do not know name). The closest Chinese restaurant near us just closed, permanently. None of the extended family wanted to take over to continue it, and mom & dad wanted to retire.

    2. And I gave up on ebay for about everything when they switched and told everyone “Thou shalt use PayPal and only PayPal for it is the One True Way.” To HELL with that!

      I liked using USPS money orders – if anything went amiss, I wanted the Inspection Service on my side.

  29. I’ve always kept a backup savings account in a credit union, but may need to move the PayPal to a fourth account.

    1. At least at our CU the savings account, with a minimum balance ($5), is the required main account. Checking, Money Market, Loan, latter two potentially multiple, accounts are all adjacent to that main account. YCUMV.

  30. The problem with keeping a PayPal account even without a bank account linked is that the TOS says the $2500 is liquidated damages, and you’ve agreed to the terms. So if they fine you and there is no money in the account then they can almost certainly sue you for it, usually in their local court. Or sell it to a debt collector who would want the $2500 plus their fee and costs, the total typically would be about twice the ‘debt’. The risk profile has gotten high.

    1. That’s not how this works, Gus. Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve been on all sides of this (debtor, debtor in collections, debtor in bankruptcy, and collector) except creditor and, while my experience is not terribly recent, the principles haven’t changed.

      There is a fundamental principle that no one can oblige anyone else, outside of certain very limited circumstances. Assume, for the purposes of this post, that there is some obviously sound legal principle that says that I owe PayPal the $2500. Okay, then. I don’t have it, and since the debt is not secured, there’s no collateral for them to repossess. Now what happens? Well, after PayPal gets tired of trying to convince me to pay it, then they sell it to a debt collector. Those debts are sold at typically 1 or 2 cents on the dollar, so it was sold for $50.

      Now, the collector starts trying to collect. Here’s the thing. I don’t have an agreement with the collector. I had an agreement with PayPal. I am not obliged to pay the collector simply because PayPal sold the debt to someone else. The collector can try to convince me to pay them to get the derogatory report of my credit history, and to get them to stop calling me, but remember all the debt is worth to the collector is $50. To limit their losses, they are far more likely to offer me a settlement of much less than $2500 than to attempt to collect more.

      That’s because my liabilities are bounded by the original debt. The collector may want many multiples of $50 or $2500 or whatever, but they cannot make me pay more than the original $2500. That’s because I don’t have an agreement with the collector. I had an agreement with PayPal and I am not a party to the agreement that PayPal has with the collector, whatever that might be.

      Now, the collector could take me to court and get a judgement against me for the $2500. What that judgement would mean is that the court says that I actually owe the money. Okay then, in that case I’m obliged to pay the $2500. I still don’t have it, and it’s cost the collector many times that in various legal expenses to get that judgement, and all that judgement means is that the court agrees that I actually do owe the original $2500, not any of those other expenses. If they want to force me to pay (by garnishing my wages, say,) then they have to go back to court, paying another set of legal expenses of about the same magnitude as before, and get a court order to do that.

      Of course, it’s not $2500 that they’re asking for, it’s $2500 per incident and that could conceivably be quite a large number. However, the general principle is that an uncollected delinquent unsecured debt is not worth very much no matter how much face value is on it.

      1. Sarah, I agree with you on the moral issue here, the TOS are immoral and should be unenforceable. However…the legal issue is different. It’s your lawyer arguing with their lawyer in front of a judge (another lawyer) about laws written by politicians (almost all lawyers). Lawyers all the way down… Along the way Justice got dragged into a dark alley and mugged. After all the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court just published an opinion as to why the recent Appellate court decision that said “bees are fish” is in fact legally correct. We are in trouble.

        Cybersmythe, The points you make are correct for the case where you have no assets or credit score to protect, but that wasn’t the situation for the bulk of the discussion here. In the PayPal TOS you agree to arbitration, that court cases will be in Delaware and that you are responsible for legal fees and costs of collection. That gives a third party such as a collection agency the legal right to go after you and add their fees.

        So, they fine you, you go to arbitration and probably lose (as most states recognize liquidated damages as a contract element – see “lawyers all the way down” above as to why they don’t consider equity or moral positions here). If you don’t pay, they go to court in Delaware to get a judgement. If you don’t appear it becomes an unappealable default judgement, plus court costs. If you do appear, you pay for an attorney to make a case in equity that this contract provision is unenforceable – good luck in Delaware, but if you win, congratulations, you paid a couple of thousand dollars to avoid the $2500 fine.

        If you lose or don’t appear, then they go to collect it. There are two ways to do collections, sell it as you mention or hire an agency to act on your behalf. The first case goes pretty much as you said and is used when they think you have no assets to seize. A company would hire an agency to act for them when you have assets, like a house or business. Then the “attorney’s fees and collection costs” that you agreed to in the TOS come in, and your ‘debt’ doubles or more as the agency collects the ‘debt’ amount from you, plus their fee which is usually the same amount as the ‘debt’, plus all attorney’s and court fees.

        The risk profile with PayPal is very high. Anyone with a business that needs to accept smaller payments should look into ACH systems, basically an electronic check. Fees are usually in the 1-2% range, and depending on volume there may or may not be a flat monthly fee, but with dozens of solid providers the free market is your friend here to find a good one for your needs.

  31. A little bit of humor from Insty open thread to lighten everyone’s spirits:

    Unless of course the aliens decide that they need to destroy the Earth to save galactic civilization; then that would be bad.

  32. Some years ago I worked at a “convenience store” for a while. Then a year or two later, was back again for a little while. One thing that stood out in the second stretch was how many people were paying in change – and it wasn’t the geezer desperate for a nic-fix who bought the cheapest, nastiest cigarettes and had gone through the couch cushions or such. It had gone rather mainstream. It would not surprise me if that is happening again now.

    1. Last two shows we’ve done, we’ve been getting larger purchases made in several small bills, rather than the annoying small purchase made with a much larger bill. OTOH, we’ve seen a marked increase in debit card purchases (which suggests people not wanting to carry substantial amounts of cash, but still wanting to spend only money they actually have now).

      1. marked increase in debit card purchases (which suggests people not wanting to carry substantial amounts of cash, but still wanting to spend only money they actually have now).

        Technically that is what we do with credit cards. Secret is to not use CC then look at bank accounts and think “oh, I still have money to spend” (No you don’t.)

  33. Thank you for continuing to point out that the forces of totalitarianism are doomed. True, getting there is (and will escalate to unthinkable levels of) painful. But we must confidently hold steadfast. Caving in is not an option!

  34. Cobblestone roads.

    Not as “quaint” or ” historical”.

    In the ’70s.

    No offense intended to your birth country or Europe in general, but I still occasionally forget how blessed I am to have grown up in the latter had of the 20th century in the United States.

    1. I remember a town in western Michigan called Coloma where they still had brick streets in the late 1960’s. Rattled the hell out of Grandpa’s Rambler. For kids, it was fun. Not so much for Grandpa, I suspect.
      Cast Away: Only Tom Hanks could make two hours of talking to a volleyball great.

    2. My drive was cobblestone after 20 years of filling in spring ruts. This year’s summer project was plowing it all up, removing 3 trees, half a dozen boulders, and replacing with megatons of crushed stone base. (And I’m still working on one last stump.)

    3. Well into the 1970s, in Virginia, relatives lived on a farm accessible only by a “corduroy road.” That’s a dirt road made passable in late winter/early spring by laying logs across it, for people too poor to afford gravel. Always fun to travel as kids — and then, at the end, a swinging bridge across the river, that was usually missing a plank or two!

  35. I took a quick gander at Paypal’s recent finances. It claims to have a lot of free cash flow and I wonder how much of that is due to money in suspended accounts. I also note that debt just went up a lot recently – $3.0 billion of new debt in May seems odd for an allegedly healthy company

    From the latest financial report (Q2 22) – https://s201.q4cdn.com/231198771/files/doc_financials/2022/q2/Q2-22-PayPal-Earnings-Release.pdf

    Balance Sheet and Liquidity
    Strong balance sheet and cash flow generation
    • Cash, cash equivalents, and investments totaled $15.6 billion as of June 30, 2022
    • Debt totaled $10.6 billion as of June 30, 2022, including $3.0 billion of new issuance in May 2022
    • In Q2’22, generated cash flow from operations of $1.5 billion, increasing 12%, and free cash flow of $1.3 billion, increasing 22%
    • In Q2’22, repurchased approximately 8 million shares of common stock, returning $750 million to stockholders

    I’ll very very interested to see whether paypal reports materially lower numbers of subscribers and transactions in Q4 2022. I suspect so because I suspect a lot of us are unhappy with their recent blatherings

    1. How many insiders cashed in on that $750 million stock repurchase? Will there be more, possibly financed by that $3 billion?

      Could also be bad news for eBay and anybody else that only allow Pay-not-anybody’s-Pal for transactions.
      Maybe money can’t buy happiness, but it can provide a much better quality of misery.

  36. Coincidentally, I spent much of the weekend with one song on repeat while doing some home repairs. The first line? “Hear the bells ringing, they’re singing, that you can be born again…”

    While it may get much darker before the dawn, I do believe we’re already past Midnight. And I believe like you that we’re going to win.

  37. “… if the banks go insane…”

    Already there. BofA mortgage is attempting to seize control of my deceased brother’s house after I made arrangements to settle the account at the imminent closing. They claim it is necessary to “protect their interest in the property”.

    They are unable to explain how obstructing the regular and legal operation of the estate under probate protects their interest.

    This after refusing for more than a month to assign a representative to the open estate case. Or to contact me, as the estate administrator, with any concerns.

    The realtor and title people are aghast. Insane…

  38. “… an old lady leaving in a house …”

    I think this is a typo.

    “… an old lady living in a house …”

      1. Não vai fazer. I only see them in first paragraphs. After that I revert to Founding Fathers’ English and go with the flow.

          1. Wellington. Finding more typos at which it excelled as a child, according to the commies. It would rather read along. And ring the bell.

      2. OK, you asked for it:
        (All in fun, just in case you were wondering) 😛

        nicknacks — knickknacks

        which emans the things — which means the things

        not that they can starve — not that they can’t starve

        anyone who ways they frauded — anyone who says they frauded

        strip malls getting boarded a store at a time — boarded up a store at a time

        Facebook — Farcebook or Fecesbook (OK, not exactly a typo, but still…)

        after being allowed of using — after being accused of using

        I’m mostly goint to do — mostly going to do

        There might be 3 more, but they didn’t jump out at me like these did. By the way, while you’re making those plans A through F, don’t forget Plan O — for Oh Shit.

  39. Never did like the looks of PayPal, so I avoided it. Turns out my distaste was justified. Hooray, me!

    Early on in the recent WuFlu Lockdown Freakout, I realized I was a laptop professional with a stable job and flush with cash, lots better off than the vast majority here in South Texas. So the wife and I decided to dine out MORE often than in the past. More convenient for us, and a bit of support to make sure our local eateries keep the doors open. We tip well, but not lavishly; certainly enough that we’re remembered and welcomed whenever we drop in.

    God hates a lousy tipper.

    1. Regarding eating out during the pandemic. We did too. Even went as far to buy our steaks from Texas Roadhouse (VS takeout) when they were doing that, and fresh baked rolls, naturally. We could get better steaks for same price, or less, from Costco or our local butcher.

  40. “And, it isn’t like an annihilating first strike on the Russians would be a bad thing anyway.”

    This is insanity.

    1. So it is. You know what else is insanity? Leaving a comment that has nothing to do with the post or anything anyone has said, on a post.
      I’ve been getting a lot of these “butt hurt Russian symp” comments, including someone accusing me of talking about my “beloved Ukranians” all the time.
      Do you have me confused with someone, or are you out of your meth-happy mind?
      I wish the Ukranians well. I think Russia is a crazy paranoiac who has been at war with everyone…. since ever. And Putin is trying to recreate the “glory days” of the USSR.
      OTOH I don’t wish any harm on the Russian PEOPLE and wish their culture would allow them to unfck their government.
      BUT IT’S NOT MY CIRCUS AND NOT MY MONKEYS. We have much bigger problems close to home. We have to unf
      ck our own government.
      So stop trying to pull us into your mess. Go play in the highway. It’s better than your raging meth addiction.

  41. Every woman in my family has work in the restaurant industry, if l were not a lavish tipper l would be drawn, quartered, and sent to bed without a hug.

  42. Also remember that “supply chain issues” include the trucks that keep fuel at the pump. It scares me that l know of all my preparations are dependent upon continued utilities being uninterrupted. You kinda need to keep 2nd and 3rd order consequences in mind. I have kin in Alaska Jim, I keep barge traffic in mind.

    1. Always make sure you have at least half a tank in the vehicle.

      It’s better for your fuel pump anyway.

  43. The collapse in restaurants is real.

    We went out for first time in years to a high-end chain to celebrate our anniversary 2 weeks ago. Maggiano’s. Over the last 20 yrs I’ve probably been half a dozen times in various cities. Reliably yummy steak, nice salads, good bar, yummy desserts.

    I’d made a reservation for 2 on a Saturday Eve. The wait for two without a res was 60-90 minutes I overheard, longer for bigger tables, but the place was half empty. (No staff to work the other tables.) The waitress was new to waiting, maybe. She was overly friendly, and hustling, but it was not good service. But much was not her fault. No bread bc kitchen didn’t have any. Out of bottled fuzzy water of any kind. (Club soda from the bar, I asked. She had no idea that was a thing. I assured her it was.) She tried twice to take our order, forgetting the first time (though she must have submitted it bc it was not that delayed), she never made it around again to refill drinks, and after 2 hours it was clear we’d not get coffee or dessert in a timely fashion. They were out of one salad, and she brought the Caesar untossed and with no side dressing. Since she never came back after others brought our plates no way to fix it.

    I imagine the no tipping is partially the annoyance and partially the price. Local restaurants have raised prices by 40% on e trees and up to-70% on the stuff like sides and soda. Yhe bill must be a shock.

    The collapse is competent service, though is a “slowly at first, then all at once” phenomenon. Almost no one anywhere who is a millennial can handle the basics of taking a reservation, adjusting a table for the size of the party, returning a phone call.

    1. Anymore no where we go takes “reservations” what they do take is “Call in Advanced Seating”. Always do so for Texas Roadhouse, even if the answer is “no waiting”, response is “fine, put us down for in 15 – 20 minutes, depending on Beltline”, then we message “here”, and go to the head of the line (usually, helps that max we are a party of 4, with mom included). Red Robin if too long of wait, will go somewhere else. Our “go to” for Mexican (Jaliscos, local) is family owned and worked. Haven’t ever had to wait. Haven’t had to wait for a long time at Red Lobster, either. Yes, prices have spiked (just paying for two meals + 3 soft drinks + rewards 2 free appetizers + 1 free dessert, at Red Lobster, was $60).

      1. What are these “reservations” you speak of?

        We’ve found three restaurants in Lawrence whose food choices work for C (plus Chipotle, which isn’t the sort of place to do reservations). We’ve never made a reservation, and we’ve never had a significant wait at any of them. I don’t recall such issues in Riverside either, not even at the Brazilian restaurant that had some of the best food we’ve ever had. I think we have made reservations a few times in our lives, but it just isn’t a routine experience at all.

        I haven’t noticed any decline in service, either. I can’t say how many people tip, but we still do.

          1. We still tip too. Red Lobster we have a preferred waitress. Mexican is family owned. Red Robin the wait staff all know us. No decline in service. (Especially noticeable since son goes through soft drinks like he should just be mainline). Red Lobster we tend to get extra bonus if we ask. Take the “All you can eat Shrimp now every day, through November”. Not on the list (but is/has been on the Monday only list), we can get it, if they have it. The rewards choice? Not something I want? Request what I want, it will get substituted for that reward. This last time, except the cake (didn’t care), the reward choices were something I’d choose. Reasons: Regulars, she looks for us, we make her laugh, make her job easier, we Tip well.

          2. Had a talk with my daughter. Given recent trends, I told her we should probably pick a place to be our regular “go to” when we do go out to eat so we’ll get known. We picked one steak place and I also threw in Buffalo Wild Wings since that’s a place my daughter particularly lokes.

        1. Texas Roadhouse, and now very rarely, Outback, we’ll use the “Call ahead” options. Even then most the time not needed unless Saturday/Sunday. We go before most are off work. Being retired we can do that. Son works the 6 am to 3 PM shift, so if he is going, still not a problem.

      1. Tesla happened, but more importantly SPACEX and affordable space travel. His new ventures were funded in part by his profits from selling PayPal, which he founded.

        1. Not that big a fan of Tesla – or electric vehicles in general, frankly – but I’ll be delighted if he can make private space travel affordable.

          1. One can argue, that Musk built Tesla, not only for money to pour into SpaceX (eventually anyway), but as test for what will be required on Mars to move around. Oil base fuel, currently at least, is a bit non-existent on Mars. Can one argue that electrical sun powered travel on Mars will be inadequate? Yes. Is it less inadequate than vehicles based on oil fuel types on Mars? No.

            Do we want at Tesla? No. Do we want an electric vehicle? No. Do we want a hybrid? No.

            1. That’s a fair point. I’ve noted before that solar power makes more sense in space or on a planet with little atmosphere.

              But while I admit the tech could be much more useful on Mars I have my doubts about that being Elon’s motive here. Remember, this is a guy who believes in anthropogenic climate change and thinks China should take Taiwan.

            2. I want the opposite of a hybrid — an electric car designed from first principles as an electric car, with a 25KW turbine engine and alternator for when you don’t have the time or electricity to charge the battery.

              Such a car can run exclusively on electricity, someday, when the Leftroids achieve Utopia, but for now it will also run on gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene or vegetable oil. Turbine engines are much more efficient than piston engines, so it would get 60 to 80 miles per gallon.

              We could build those cars TODAY. We could have built them 30 years ago, and reduced our oil consumption considerably.

              But the ‘Progressives’ don’t want better, they demand perfect. They hate merely better far more than they hate the Eeevul cars we’re driving now.
              ‘Progressives’ believe everybody else is even stupider than they are. This explains a lot.

              1. Not sure. I think that is what the 2023 Plugin Santa Fe “Hybrid” is. Not that I’ve researched them. Sister and hubby have a non-plugin hybrid Toyota Corolla. Imagine my surprise (100% not) when sis told me they’ve discovered on their trips the MPG isn’t much better than a standard Corolla, despite the MPG rating. Why? Because the hybrid portion does not kick in on freeways or highways. In towns, cruising scenic areas, slower speeds, yes. But the cross country trips they have taken, driving I-5 to visit newest grandchild, all freeway speeds, where the hybrid is not used.

        2. Quibble: I don’t believe that Elon Musk founded PayPal. I believe he helped found a different company which merged with PayPal before they got big.

  44. Good advice. I use Paypal a lot, mostly for paying the vendors that do my cover, formatting (No, I’m not going to learn to code or draw; I’m a writer). And sometimes I’ve paid for other things with PP. So the announcement from Paypal gives me pause. Now they seem to be backing away from it. Could it be that one of the more extreme jerkasses that work there went rogue with that mandate? Even Musk has woke ‘techies’ working for him, and these people are fanatics and can and will sabotage systems, even destroying their own jobs, to advance the new world order. I’ll be interested to see what you tell us about possible work-around for this latest Big Brother mandate.

  45. Apropos of absolutely nothing, but reading the title of this post somehow got this song (which I haven’t heard in close to three decades) stuck in my head:

  46. Until they finally went belly-up (then taken over by gov’t and REALLY driven into the ground) the Pittsburgh Railway Co. owned all of their streetcar right-of-way, even that running down the middle of public streets. They had a simple way of minimizing maintenance: leave them as the cobblestones they had been since built, which was before the turn of the (20th) century. I observed many a hubcap dislodged.

  47. Heaven forbid that America uses a Japanese social solution, but …

    Maybe American restaurants could install bell buttons at the tables like they have in Japan?

    Some American sit-down chain restaurants used to have these back in the 1970s.

    Oh, but the bell button could be abused … yeah, got that handled.

    Just add a few menu items for service.

    “Regular bell service” = free, “Kid-sized bell service” = free kid’s bell button that doesn’t do anything but light up, “Crispy bell service” = $9.95, “Extra Crispy bell service” = $29.95, “Spicy bell service” = $99.95 plus you get thrown out of the establishment for life.

    “Spicy bell service” also includes all of the available help and manager coming to your table to sing a highly embarrassing and loud song about how you couldn’t stop abusing the bell and how you’re now being told to leave, with not so subtle suggestions in the song about how everyone else can join in by taking a video and uploading it to YouTube.

    “Everyone clap now and say goodbye to these people!”

    Imagine that going viral and all of the people the next day wanting to see if someone gets served “Spicy bell service”.

    But the point is that America wastes all of this energy on people hovering around pretending they care to refill your drink when you could actually do better by telling them with a bell.

    “I want four orders of Extra Crispy bell service and a Coke.” 🙂

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