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.