Incomprehensible Abundance

As all of you know I have vices. To be specific, when tired or overwhelmed I read stuff that while not itself bad (even the strange ones) is the equivalent of burning spare cycles.

This varies with the level of depression. If mildly depressed, but mostly tired and not feeling great, I read Jane Austen fanfic, back to back. Its great for those middle-of-the-night-can’t-sleep jags. And doesn’t give you nightmares after. If more depressed than that, I go to true crime. More depressed than that and it’s UFOs and stupid alternate prehistory. If I hit the absolute bottom, I read about dinosaurs. That’s all.

Anyway, lately, it’s just being sick and mildly out of it, and therefore I’ve been reading Austen fanfic. Mosty pride and Prejudice variations. Now these vary from great to terrible. Mostly I read the good and great. And their virtue when I feel out of it is that they’re predictable. You just get to see what the writer did with your familiar characters. Imagine it as if people got to reincarnate again and again in the same life, these are like imagining all the paths they’d take.

I’m reading a current one that’s both good an terrible. It’s good if you presume that the writer doesn’t understand economics and has no idea how rich we — even those of us who are relatively poor — all are.

So I have to ignore both characters acting out of character — which is forgivable, as it’s often the point of the story — and doing things that would never work in their time.

So, you know, we have (Those who don’t know Pride and Prejudice, ignore the specifics, it still makes sense.) Colonel Fitzwilliam, second son of an Earl. He’s in the House Guard. I endure a lot of stories where people decide the military at the time worked like the military now, and that the Colonel is a war hero. Whatever. In the novel, it’s obvious he’s mostly decorative, and he tells the main character he has to marry a woman with at least 50,000 pounds dowry, since he’s has expensive habits. (It might PARTLY be a joke, to warn the girl off having any interest in him.)

Anyway, fine, whatever. But in this novel, the Colonel doesn’t like the army and has a passion for…. wait for it… woodwork. He uses Mr. Darcy’s townhouse workshop (every townhouse has a workshop, apparently) to make… pretty little wood boxes.

When he falls in love with Kitty, the second youngest sister of the main (female) character of P & P, he gets disowned by his father, but it’s okay, because he can go into business and make these little boxes, and become rich, as all the merchants are getting rich. (Like Kitty’s uncle who lives in sight of his “extensive warehouses.”) As further certainty they’ll be fine, well, Kitty sells designs for dresses to an elegant modiste, so you know…

I’m still reading it, by which you have to assume the writer is a very good writer on the writing end of the business, because the setup makes no sense whatsoever.

Now, could a couple today in which he made beautiful, handmade crafty wooden boxes and she designed unique dresses could do very well. Oh, probably not become rich. Certainly nothing on the level of what a son of an Earl in those days could expect, but a decent middle-middle class life.

A lot of us make livings from something like, like this blog and a few novels.

But the thing is: OUR TIME IS NOT THEIRS.

Our time is rich, ridiculously rich. People can afford to pay a premium for things like beautiful little boxes and lovely dresses. A lot of them can, because, get this, we get the necessities very cheaply.

Now, keep in mind I don’t by most of my clothes new. Some, now and then, but most of my clothes come from thrift stores. of course, that means I CAN because people can afford to buy new clothes while the “old” ones are still in great shape. And they donate them, they don’t even sell them.

I know how ridiculous this is, because I grew up in a poor country in the 20th century. Most people had maybe two or three changes of clothing. Most people made their own clothes…

Could you have made a decent living in Portugal from that kind of crafty endeavor? Maybe? But it wouldn’t be a very good living. And you’d need some kind of access to very rich people to have a steady customer basis.

In the Regency? Seriously? They’d be paupers. They might not starve, but they wouldn’t do great. Unless people made it a novelty to buy boxes made by the son of an earl.

Because whatever the idiots say about inequality in our time, there were very few people in the regency rich enough to just buy little wooden boxes for the heck of it, because they were pretty. This is because even the rich in the Regency didn’t have money for that kind of thing. Yes, they wore expensive clothes and did great display parties, but that was part of their business and the way to climb in society. Sure, they might buy a pretty little box, but they weren’t going to pay a big premium for it. Because craftsmen were everywhere, and labor was cheap. In fact I could see lovely little wooden boxes being made by some apprentice in a workshop from leftover stuff, for extra pocket money.

The thing is craftsmen were not major businessmen. The big money in the regency, the people who became rich enough to compete with the nobility of birth, were import-exporters or owners of big factories. They were the people working on making the things everyone wanted/needed cheaper.

Because a society that has just risen above the hand-to-mouth of no-extra-capital needs the essentials. It is only those who are rich who want the cute little thing that’s completely uneeded but makes you feel happy. They’re the only ones willing to pay for it.

If you’ve ever bought something because you heard about it and you thought “oh, that’s cool” or because you were browsing booths at a county fair (or a science fiction con) and found…. a cute box, or a pretty necklace, much more expensive than something that would fulfill the same function but mass produced? And you bought it? Congratulations. You’re as rich as Lords and Ladies in the regency.

If you make a living of your crafts, your bespoke clothing, your writing, your non-essential good that enhances people’s lives?

Congratulations. No matter if that life isn’t the thing that an Earl’s son would be happy with but just “average” middle class living? Congratulations. You live in the richest society the world has ever seen. And this is why you’re allowed to “follow your passion” or whatever it is, and do your thing and sell it for enough to live off of.

All the crazy-children “anti capitalists” and mentally-slow, brain washed communists who think smashing this engine of prosperity — in the name of equity or the environment or whatever their cause is today — will give them the chance to “follow their passion” or do their poems, or art or craft instead of working for a living, have the same economic understanding as the person writing this book.

In their world, wealth just exists, and everyone has always been as rich as we are. without the industrial revolution, without the improvements of (real) science and industry, without the labor of countless people working for their own individual interest. And everyone, always, could make a living from their ‘passion’ and be rewarded for it, regardless of how close to the bone the society was, and what a struggle it was for most people to survive.

And they will destroy all this wealth, all this fortunate society, the result of the labor of generations, chasing a dream in which everything is free.

It won’t last, of course. Their imaginary paradise can’t subsist. even on other lands, communism only managed bare subsistence level because America was free enough to be an engine of innovation and wealth such as the world has never seen. And by our charity and our misguided attempt to keep people we thought could destroy us (it’s doubtful they could) from getting desperate, and simply by making food so cheap and abundant, we fed those societies and kept them going (Sometimes at three removes.)

Destroy America and it won’t last. There is no one else to feed America. Even if we took over the nearby countries, they wouldn’t have a hope of feeding us.

An “American Empire” is impossible because in the Imperial system the center lives from the colonies. And no one is big enough or productive enough to feed us. (No, buying from people or paying them for their work is not what I mean. They live from us as much as we from them. Something China has forgotten at her own risk.)

So, it won’t last. But the breakage we’re headed for — even if we escape a butcher’s bill — what a massive destruction it will entail, and the labor of how many generations will it consume.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Not just to survive the crash they’re bringing about, but to rebuild once they sink everything.

And in the future, make sure they know to teach their children well. Economics most of all. Because TANSATAAFL, and people don’t live on nothing.

And speaking of living on nothing: Available from Amazon today:

Barbarella: The Center Cannot Hold #1

295 thoughts on “Incomprehensible Abundance

  1. Even in the backwoods of Appalachia forty/fifty years ago, if you wanted a little wooden box like that, like as not you’d make it yourself. Or have an uncle or a cousin do it, in exchange for something you were good at.

    Because everybody did things like that. You had your work which made you money, and you had a dozen eleventy things you did on the side to get by. Which is why we had a garden and chickens that fed us, the occasional roofing job that paid a bit extra, the simple mechanic jobs that did same, the casserole in exchange for a bit of light plumbing, the taking in and altering dresses that was in exchange for something else, and so on.

    And you know which sorts were good at things, and what folks you’d never ask them to do certain tasks. That’s small town/village/very rural life in a nutshell. You make do. You don’t make bank.

    Because even in the early eighties, there was no internet. You didn’t make little wooden boxes to ship to Egypt, or California. The fair was a regional thing that might make you a bit, but it might not, and it was only once or twice a year. You certainly didn’t get rich with all the little things you did.

    Those things were done to survive. Because if the pump breaks down, and washing and cooking doesn’t get done, you’re in a world of hurt. You need those skills to keep body and soul together. They’re not a “nice to have.”

    Certain folks these days wax eloquent about the “simple life” and back to Gaia or whatever. I sure wish they’d go and leave me and mine alone. I remember those days. Much prefer today, warts and all, to be honest.

    1. There was a man at the food bank yesterday. He wore oversized (and dirty) overalls and rode up on a beat-up bicycle. He was looking for food that didn’t require a lot of cooking because he has no electricity. We did what we could and one of our guys hauled him home in his pickup.
      Thing is, most of the clients have cars. They may be beaters held together with duct tape, but they have cars. And power for the fridge and the stove. We truly don’t know how good we have it. OK, some of us know, but the number of the casual clueless is scary.

      1. Depending on the area, if he has a pot or a cast iron pan, he can still cook. Baking would be a chore, but possible. The main trick to cooking with fire is even heat. Open flames do not produce even heat, which means your go-to options are stew and soup. They’re more tolerant of heat issues than, say, pancakes.

        Without microwaves and stoves, cooking takes more time. And you can’t preserve food well without electricity, so smaller portions are a must. The things we have to make life easier on us are quite powerful and sophisticated. It’s just not that apparent to those who have never had to do without.

        And I mean had to, because camping doesn’t count. You can usually come back to civilization after. I may have many a barbarian tendency in me, but I respect and value the fruits of civilization far too much to cavalierly do away with them.

        1. I guess he was reheating things more than cooking, but yes, a Dutch oven and or a cast iron pan can do a lot of stuff with a heat source.
          The closest we’ve ever come to “having to,” was the week after Hurricane Julia, but even then we had a gas-powered fridge and stove. So that isn’t very close. And our household camps with a field kitchen a restaurant chef might envy.
          But even that seeds an appreciation of the wealth we have.

          1. Proper camp cooking that’s as nourishing as it is delicious is an art appreciated by few- but those few REALLY appreciate it, in my experience.

            One of the things I’ve been mentoring young men (mostly the men) over the years is what some would call prepping these days. But it’s just having canned/dried food in the pantry and rotating stock. It’s keeping supplies for “oh fudge!” events in the truck. It’s making sure you carry cash, not too much, not too little, and trusting cards very little if at all.

            Even basic budgeting and time management. Had a guy this past week, kept getting in trouble for being late. Pulled him aside to figure out what the problem was. Turned out he kept sleeping through his alarm. Then he was leaving too late when he got up on time. And so on.

            The thing is, I don’t think the boy ever had anyone teach him the basic stuff. How to order your life such that you are not a burden on anyone else. How to rationally plan for things that might go wrong, and adapt to them intelligently. How to properly present yourself in public.

            There have even been those that needed counsel on how to properly dress yourself for a job. Seriously.

            In any organization of sufficient size, you’ll find folks like that. Mostly young men, again. I’m not special or particularly put together myself, but I manage with what skills I have and what I’ve been taught through better example and hard experience. These guys, even thirty year old men, act like they’ve never been given direction on such basic stuff, well, ever.

            That’s a sad thing. But it is at least fixable, if the person in question is willing to do the work.

            1. One of the most satisfying moments of my life was, as an old goat at a Boy Scout camp, cooking a modified jambalaya over a campfire and listening to nothing but the scrape of spoon on bowl for a good ten minutes while a bunch of hungry men ate their full. Not a word was said, and when it was done they just sighed. I’ve cooked a lot of good meals in my lifetime, but that was the best one even accounting for sausage and peppers cooked over an open fire and deglazed with balsamic vinegar. I was a popular camper. 😀

              Bad camp food is the definition of barbarism.

              1. Ain’t it, though? I’ve cooked jambalaya for 30 or so in camp, but with “luxuries,” like gas rings and large stockpots. Lots of work, but there’s pleasure in being told the event hasn’t really started until the speaker has had my jambalaya.

              2. We had the Adult Patrol whe the troop was doing wilderness camping. Each patrol member usually carried a main course and two side dishes.
                The kids would be hanging around hoping we had leftovers after every meal. IIRC we never had to wash up our cooking gear with so many volunteers to help. I’m not a pepper, but Rendezvous is when we and our friends travel back to the 1830s and the Fur Trade culture for a few days or weeks.

                1. had the Adult Patrol when the troop was doing wilderness camping

                  So did ours, unless truly backpacking any distance (that comes down to weight). We too rarely had to do more than add hot water and minimal scrubbing, after the “see food” diets that the 11 – 17 year-olds were on. The senor patrol food often rivaled the adult patrol. But then they’d been seeing the example set since they were 11. The standard was set with the Webelo/parent campout visit, and their first campout as scouts. Always took awhile to stick, but eventually they learned. Also anytime not backpacking the scouts practiced their structural lashing. They built their own cooking/prep stations for their patrol boxes, every campout. No tables hauled.

            2. In my platoon of OSUT (badic + advanced infantry
              school) in 1986, of 53 men, I was the only one who knew how to tie a necktie. (part of the Class A uniform)

              It was so bad, I resorted to hanging the necktie pre-tied. Thus each could grab and don, and adjust, no fuss.

              Fortunately, we never wore the things other than fitting and one inspection. We even wore BDUs to graduation.

              Got a complement from a DS on my solution.

              Now? Do teenagers even know what they are?

              1. In my experience, no, Had to do the necktie thing- I can do the full windsor, half windsor and any others I have to retrain myself. Even thirty year old “kids” needed the help for a wedding I attended a few years back. Hanging them on a coat hanger is a good trick. Have to remember that one.

                I keep expecting to come across one that needs to be taught how to tie his own shoes. I’ve taught everything from basic math to how to write a cover letter to the differences between a ma’am, a miss, and a missus before.

                It ain’t that the boys aren’t bright. Some of them actually are. They’re just not educated in basic, simple things. Some, lack of fathers. Others, public schools.

        2. I love doing ridiculous things camping (I “glamp”, not “camp”). I’ve cooked all sorts of weird things while camping, but I would never do it ‘for real’. For example, I made cheesecake starting from milk. It’s certainly possible to do that over a fire, but it’s an all-day process with much fire-tending involved. An oven with a “proof” setting is ever so much simpler.

          Tip: Fresh pasta requires a staging area/drying rack (yay, paracord!), but it gets dusty/dirty outside (boo, gritty pasta!).

          1. “(boo, gritty pasta!).”

            Just call it an “authentic stone-ground experience”

          2. Unless we were with the troop (BSA), or backpacking, we were glamping (trailer RV, I’m fond of softer beds) too. Technically even BSA was “glamping” for all that we used backpacking tents. (Compared to the tent mom & dad used? Glamping.) But we rarely used the RV stove top or oven. We grilled over open fire (where allowed), and used the camp two burner gas Colman stove outside (even if we had to setup under the awning). Even then most everything was prepped at home: Steaks already marinated, hamburger patties made and seasoned, spaghetti sauce with meat all ready fully made, etc. All frozen into meal appropriate packaged size, just pull out morning of, put into (not functioning because on battery power) microwave or covered sink to thaw, and cook on Colman stove or grill on open fire. Minimal prep and clean up. Backpacking was trail food, just add hot water heated over pocket rocket gas stove. BSA – we (technically hubby took his turn) did the same when it was my turn to bring the chosen food for the adults, as example for the scouts. Son when his turn for his patrol, did the same.

          3. Dad took us camping (tent version) in the ’50s to ’65, at which point he bought a basic tent trailer. (“Reliart” == Trailer spelled backwards. Yeah, it was lame in many ways, and the company went toes up around 1970). Still basic, but propane stove and occasional electrics from campgrounds.

            After college, I did car camping (backpacking equipment), then started backpacking. Largely Mountain House, so no prizes for culinary excellence, though my camping buddy and I figured out how to do a killer Szechuan Beef in the car camping mode.

            $SPOUSE and I had a Coleman popup trailer that died. We now have a travel trailer that’s really an emergency shelter if the Cascadia fault gets too frisky and causes problems east of the Cascades. It’s sitting patiently, waiting to get used for something. (It’s big enough so that the Honda Ridgeline isn’t an ideal tow vehicle. It works, but not fun to drive at all.)

            Haven’t considered myself poor for a long time. (Things got tight when I was a kid, but we ate and had clothing, and the B&W TVs worked. OTOH, the one in the basement needed percussive correction for the HV circuitry.)

            1. Honda Ridgeline isn’t an ideal tow vehicle. It works, but not fun to drive at all.

              The trailer hitch level lift and sway bars make a huge difference towing, especially dealing with the high dessert winds that can play havoc towing.

              1. That proved to be a must when we bought the trailer, but the R-line is rated at 5000 pounds towing, and the trailer comes close to it. Towing something close to the same weight as the tow vehicle was a new experience for me. That and the 15 mpg while towing combined with a 16 gallon gas tank adds a bit of stress. The trip between F-Falls and $TINY_TOWN is hilly, and yeah, the wind is still an issue.

                (We expected to be able to keep the Y2K vintage tent trailer, but its roof was starting to fail, which problem helped put Fleetwood (the manufacturer) out of the tent trailer business. I notice that tent trailers are coming back on the market to go with smaller pickups.)

                OTOH, when set up somewhere, the 16′ travel trailer should be considerably more comfortable than a tent trailer. I had to sleep inboard due to the CPAP, and $SPOUSE tended to freeze near the outside wall of the tent trailer. That heater was tiny!

                1. Towing something close to the same weight as the tow vehicle was a new experience for me.

                  We had a 1/2 ton Tacoma 4×4 crew cab with a canopy when we bought our 22′ TT. When fully loaded, we were within 150#s of the Tacoma’s overall tow *rating (we increased the margin, somewhat, by limiting amount of water we towed with, getting water at campground when we knew they had that option). Too close to the margin for hubby, even general towing. But given some of the passes we’ve taken into some national parks? We traded in the Tacoma for the 1/2 ton Chevy 4×4 crew cab. The Chevy overall tow rating was 1500#’s over when the TT was fully loaded. Never regretted the trade.

                  (*) (for those that do not know). Vehicles have three tow ratings. 1) Max weight of the item being towed when loaded. 2) Overall weight of the of the towed vehicle + the weight of the towing vehicle, both loaded. 3) the tow vehicle tongue max weight. When seeing vehicles over towing … avoid. Get by as fast as you can. It happens a lot.

                  $SPOUSE tended to freeze near the outside wall of the tent trailer. That heater was tiny!

                  When we looked for buying the TT we looked at the blend of hard side (kitchen & small bathroom, tent pullout bed) and tent trailers because of the weight difference. But we go to many places where 1) Freeze at night, and can snow, any month including August. Even our hard side TT heater barely helped and the TT had the winter insulation package. We hadn’t planned on the winter package, but was really glad to have it over the 11 seasons we had the TT. And 2) we go where bears are common (mostly black bears, but grizzly areas too). 100% hard side units (no canvas into the unit be it pop out beds or the type that raise the roof) not always required, but many areas do.

  2. The Reader thinks that, on the other side of the oncoming unpleasantness, we should teach TANSATAAFL instead of ‘economics’. We need to prepare TANSATAAFL curricula for all levels of education, from elementary to trade school (note the Reader did not say college or grad school). We also need to teach that the nearest thing the human race has to a ‘free lunch’ is the free exchange of goods, services and ideas and that any attempt to rein that free exchange in is by definition evil.

    1. We’re trying to do a bit of that,but given our lifestyle (on the road half the year) it’s a challenge.
      My beloved is a fan of Dutch oven cooking. When we were active in Boy Scouts he loved his week as camp cook – while other troops were eating Mac and cheese and hotdogs his guys had Dutch oven pizza, stee, steak…he got the biggest kick from seeing kids from other troops coming over to lust after our troop’s dinners.

      1. I am sure the district is feeling the retirement of the guy who has an fantastic Dutch Oven cooking setup. He generally cooked for the staff for district and council events. Just pay for food, and help clean up. The only problem was Sunday breakfast was generally what hubby called the “heart attack special”. Bottom layer Bacon, hash brown potatoes, cheese, eggs, topped with cheese. Fresh biscuits also cooked in Dutch Oven. But dang it was good.

        Then there was the “Honey Bucket Stew” hubby and other scout leaders would go together on for a dinner. Some (but not much) raw carrots, potatoes, chopped. Ribs with sauce (bones included, although by the time done meat all but fell off), beef and/or wild game (elk and/or venison), ground peppers (once left seeds in, decided that was not advisable), Chile powder. A little water. Put on to cook after breakfast clean up for dinner. Add water as needed. (I had to take sandwiches for me. But most the other adult leaders loved it. It was always good tasting, just I couldn’t eat more than a few bites … Too spicy hot.)

        Name was a joke when it was concocted. Honey Bucket at the time was the name of the company providing portable Kybos provided at these events.

      1. Yes it is. But while this is fuzzy in his brain at the moment, the Reader thinks that the useful body of knowledge in the mess that is economics at the moment needs a new name for emphasis and there are some other topics that need to be included in a TANSATAAFL syllabus. The Reader hasn’t brought it into focus yet.

  3. “These kids today, don’t know how good they have it. Back in the old days…”

    anonymous Centurion, Legions of the Roman Republic.

    1. Sure, but this is a level of NOT understanding how the time she’s writing about worked that’s mind-boggling. From a presumably educated person.
      What I’m really complaining about is “Kids these days and PRESENTISM.”

      1. So, “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” (And it’s a third-world country to boot.)

    2. I’ll bet Ogg the cave man said the same thing. 😀

      “Kids these days. Why, when I was their age mammoths were twice as big and four times as mean…”

      1. I imagine that, at some point back in the dusty ages of time, H. Habilis had one guy that was griping about how in his father’s father’s time, the great beasts hunted them, not the other way around, how easy the kids had it these days…

    3. The Industrial Revolution blew the walls off in ways that simply had never happened before. Improvements had happened in the past, but nowhere near the same degree. I think it’s pretty much impossible to understate the change that occurred as a result. We laugh at the idea of the Native Americans trading land for a few dozen shirts. But if you live in a pre-industrial society, a single shirt represents a lot of work by a skilled tradesman. If you lived in a pre-industrial society, you would need to carry those shirts in a wagon drawn by a horse (or in pre-Colombian Americas, by hand). There might very well be nothing else in that cart, and the only reason why you would have that many shirts together is if you thought you could sell them to a nearby community that had likely already committed to buying them. For us, shirts are something that we browse through at the department store, and pay very little for (unless we’re paying for the label). And the shirts themselves are shipped in massive quantities via containers on freight trains.

      And perhaps just as importantly, the changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution affected nearly every kind of good.

      1. I was 11 when we saw the cabin grandma and grandpa had when mom was 3 and little sister was an infant. My grandparents current house was a palace compared to that cabin. Our house was a palace compared to grandparents house. Our house was 1350 sq ft. One room cabin with a cook stove for cooking and heat (and this is central Montana), a table, a bed, with a trundle, and a crib (no running water, no electricity, heck no well … outhouse, and creek across the road). (Ours) VS 3 bedroom, two bath, living room, formal dining and general dining room, full kitchen and all that implies. I may not have known before then how good we had it. But after that trip, I 100% did.

        1. My grandparents were born in the very early 19-oughts, one even born in the back of a covered wagon. My grandfather got a government job as caretaker to an old pioneer fort that was turned over to the National Parks Service. He got to live in the fort for a few years while he was restoring it and scouring the countryside for historical pieces that could be displayed in it that were accurate to the times. So oldest ones of my aunts and uncles were either born in or lived in a 19th century frontier fort with only 19th century amenities. Later, they had a cabin and then a house (left over from the old CCC camp next door – was originally either the mess hall or hospital building). 10 children on one government salary but they got permission to operate a filling station for a while and could keep the profits from that. They had the only phone in the region. I can SEE what they had available to them

          1. The district I went to work seasonal in mid-70s, did not have telephones (or so they said) until early ’70s. Haven’t been back since the last season I worked there. Given the area into the district is essentially a canyon, not sure how cell phones are working out. I’m sure there are towers intermittent (population centers, including the district office) but doubt most the canyon has coverage (just based off of Hwy 58 once out of Pleasant Hill or Hwy 126 once out of Springfield).

            We have hubby’s grandparents oak box telephone where rang to central switch to go anywhere, had it’s own ring for your house. Aunt has the one that was used by great-uncle on the 80 acre farm that was part of an original homestead.

            My grandparents. Pretty sure maternal ones took a train to Montana from the east coast then horse and buckboard to the small homestead. Grandpa was born there 1911.

            My paternal grandparents were born on their parents homestead. Don’t know when grandpa’s folks got here, but it was grandma’s (born 1908) great-grandparents (with 10 children and one on the way) who came across America in a conestoga wagon with horses, 1843. I don’t remember maternal grandparents house not having plumbing or electricity. But mom says the house didn’t when they first moved in, 1950-ish. But it was in before mom and dad married 1955.

      2. shirts are something that we browse through at the department store, and pay very little for

        And before anyone complains about sweatshops in Vietnam or wherever, remember that the locals fight each other tooth and nail to get those jobs because it beats subsistence farming.

        As each country manages to climb the wealth ladder that sweatshop labor moves on to the next country, so shirts used to be made in Hong Kong, and then China, and then Vietnam, and now more likely Bangladesh. I expect it will move on to African countries once Asia gets wealthy enough (assuming no catastrophes).

        If reshoring manufacturing to the US ever gets comprehensive enough to encompass textiles and garments, I expect that someone will figure out robotic garment making, because our labor is much too expensive. They already have it for t-shirts, but those are pretty straightforward. Dress shirts, pants, dresses, etc. will be difficult but given enough engineering input not impossible.

        1. I don’t know if we have that long.

          Zeihan believes (and I don’t know enough to disagree) that the demographic collapse will make itself felt within the next few decades. The non-elderly who typically provide the bulk of the factory workers will be greatly reduced. The result will be a complete collapse in the ability for countries that aren’t yet industrialized to start their way up the ladder. And countries that have already started up might very well find themselves falling all the way back down.

          According to Zeihan’s thinking, the US will get through it (though we’ll still take some hits) due to a combination of insanely fortuitous geography and natural resources, coupled with advances in robotic mass production that will overcome many of the issues related to the lack of young workers. And the strength of our navy means that if there’s something we need that doesn’t come from our borders, we can get it (and just as importantly, safely escort it back). Canada and Mexico should also muddle through because they’re our neighbors, and we like free trade with them.

          Everyone else is going to have serious problems. And I mean everyone.

          1. Like I said, barring catastrophe. If globalism goes to Zeihanian hell, the price of shirts is going to be pretty low down on our list of worries.

            But that’s what I meant by if reshoring manufacturing gets down to garments. If we have to be an continental autarky, we’re not likely to go back to domestic sweatshop labor — that’s what Guatemalans are for — we’ll substitute robotics and automation.

      3. Invested conservatively over the centuries, the beads that bought Manhattan are worth over a quadrillion dollars.

        They sold Manhattan to the Dutch, because it wasn’t somewhere they wanted to live.

        1. They considered it a worthless swamp with lousy weather and limited access. If those crazy pale strangers wanted it, they could have it.

          Remember, this was still the Little Ice Age. The rivers around Manhattan regularly froze over in the winter time.

          1. Also, the reason why Manhattan was useful was because of it’s excellent natural harbor. Something like that would have been of no value to the natives as they didn’t have the ability or need to build the kinds of ships that would want that sort of harbor.

        2. The Indians who sold Manhattan Island didn’t “own” it either. They held a small piece at the top but the rest of the Island was held by another clan/tribe.

    1. “What the HELL was that?!?”

      “Some crazy chick with wings keeps buzzing the blog, sir.”

      “Get me a target lock. Standby to fire surface-to-air carp…”

  4. They owned a lot fewer clothes. Remember that Laura at one point itemized her dresses, less than a dozen, and can’t imagine needing another.

    1. And people willed their dresses, which makes sense if you understand how labor intensive (and expensive) velvet and silk could be.

      1. There are times when I wish I could figure out how to get – or make, I can sew – a dress that could be willed.

        Or find a pair of work pants that won’t be all worn out after only 10 years.

        Because I hate shopping for clothes.

        1. Silk sari wrap skirts. Available in lengths from miniskirt to ankle length. It’s actually two skirts with one longer than the other. Needs occasional repairs but can be repaired (though I need to learn to use the serger to mend the hems ripped out.) I have lost and gained and lost and gained over fifty pounds and kept wearing the same skirts. I dunno if they last 50 years, but they’re going strong after 8.

          I like them at Darn Good Yarn but only buy when they’re at minimum 50% sale.

          However, from Darn Good Yarn (and from most sources) you at most put in a general color request and take potluck as to pattern and just hope you like one or both patterns. I’ve had good luck so far.

          I have not yet found a shirt I like as well, or one that tolerates the gain and loss of large amounts of weight as well.

          1. Thanks!

            Went shopping. For $100 for 3, plus free shipping? Ordered 3. Listed color preferences. We’ll see how that goes. Best case have a different skirt for the next niece wedding (April 2023). (So far have worn the same skirt to 3 weddings.) Worse case, just something to have on hand for dinner for trips, and casual around the house/town.

              1. Yes. Caught your prior comment and looked at them. If they’d had better choice color combinations … I listed my color preferences on the order. We’ll see.

        1. Heck. Upper class passed old clothing down to their servants when they replaced them. Servants were glad to get them.

          My grandmother saved worn out clothing once it was too worn to pass down or pass away. That is the material quilts were made of. Both sides and even more worn material on the inside to stuff the quilt.

                1. Same. And it did happen, at least from what I remember from talks with my grandparents. This would have been rural Appalachia, sometime around the early 1900s, from third hand sources.

              1. Smallpox is the classic example, from “We deliberately traded blankets carrying smallpox to the Indians” (probably false), but there were/are a few others. Basically anything that wasn’t washed well enough to kill certain bacteria / viruses, or parasites that could carry them, such as bedbugs, fleas, lice, and or their eggs, could do it.

                1. “probably false” = deliberate trading, not that the virus couldn’t survive.

                  1. also, no one would knowingly handle small pox blankets. No, seriously, even before the germ theory of disease, it was routine to burn everything near a small pox patient. Listen, everything I had that could be burned was, and the rest was washed in bleach. They didn’t even do that for TB. And also that’s how they handled it when Queen Elizabeth I had smallpox. So, you know, seriously, no. That’s a lie.
                    Now, apparently Indians raiding homesteads with smallpox took back blankets, it’s true. This was obviously a white supremacy ploy to make them sick. (Rolls eyes.)

                    1. A British officer during the French and Indian War tossed out the idea of smallpox blankets (as in “throw all ideas at the wall and see what sticks”) but that’s as far as things went, according to the sources I’ve read. Not the colonials, the Red Coats.

                    2. Field Marshal Lord Jeffrey Amherst, to be specific, namesake of Amherst, MA, and Amherst College.

                      Whether or not the smallpox blankets story is true to any degree is irrelevant: the story will persist as long as Williams College does. See, Amherst College is Williams College’s arch-rivals, since it was founded in 1823 by defectors from Williams who thought that Williamstown was much too far from civilization — aka Boston — and moved half way closer.

                    3. Smallpox was so bad that inoculation was widely practiced even though it killed about one percent of the time.

                      Other disease, however, could also be transmitted by blankets and clothes.

                2. Ironically it doesn’t take much to kill fleas or lice and their eggs on clothing. Both require people to continue to thrive. Hanging the garments or most likely blankets on lines in the air for a period of time will kill either. Bed bugs, that I don’t know. True of both small pox, chicken pox, or measles, too. Washing then hanging out is better, but just hanging out in the sun will also kill them. But it takes work. Sarah is right. Burning small pox victims belongs they had contact with before and while sick, sometimes including the home they died in, was burned. But chicken pox and measles victims belongings were not treated this way. The rumor of traders taking small pox victims blankets to trade to the natives rumor persists.

                  1. The Comanche, I heard, got herded onto reservations because they considered an epidemic a wonderful weakening of victims, making a raid really profitable for minimal risk, and considered wearing the clothes of the dead to be a way to show you’re not afraid of ghosts. After that —

                3. It happened once deliberately, back in colonial days; an English army officer, with vaccinated troops, over the protests of the mostly nonvaccinated Americans.

                  Back in that era they were vaccinating with live culture, attempting to attenuate it. Required for English army. Moderately common in England. Not common elsewhere.

                  1. No. It actually didn’t. It was a lie propagated by what’s his face at Colorado College, and he was fired when it was proven conclusively there’s no records of this ever happening, in the annals of ever.

              2. I remember that scene from A Christmas Carol (the book) where they are selling various things they stole out of the dead man’s room, and one person shocked them all by offering the shirt right off of his back.

              3. I read it in Thomas Sowell, in a discussion of how the sweat-shops were generally tottering on the brink of bankruptcy and the customers were the sort of people who would buy the clothes of the dead — and often still did not have enough clothes for everyone in the household.

              4. Not surprised about the clothing. But it isn’t mentioned. Blankets OTOH is the vector that the traders (often with forethought malice) spread small pox, chicken pox, measles, etc., among the north American natives (US and Canada). It doesn’t take much to kill either. Even just open air on a line without washing the blankets would have killed off the 3 listed. But folding the blankets and transferring them in bundles does not. AND the ones trading the blankets knew this. Even more tragically, children were more likely to survive chicken pox or measles, even among native tribes, but few to none adults, leaving the children and infants to die of thirst and starvation next to their parents. A tribe so decimated but able to move and survive often then joined other bands bring the pestilence with them repeating the cycle.

                1. No proof of any trader ever doing that, ever. And I roll to disbelieve. The traders were as afraid of those blankets as anyone sane. That was something invented by the activists.
                  Were there small pox blankets? Sure. the raiders sometimes stole them, not realizing….

          1. I have a couple of patchwork quilts. My mom has a crazy quilt design that is literally the scraps left over when you have cut everything up in patterned bits.

      2. Silk? The problem with silk wasn’t that it was labor intensive (though like all textiles, it was). The problem with silk was that it all came from the other side of the world. China was (and still is, iirc, though not by so much these days) by far the world’s largest producer of silk, and the little (and I do mean little) of it that didn’t come from China was only available from other Asian nations.

        And up until the end of the First Opium War, trading with the Chinese was painful and difficult.

        1. Porcelain, or “china” as it’s also known, was the same. Considered the finest and most beautiful material for dishes, and only available from the other side of the world. Little wonder that fine china was passed down in families.

          Though the only reason porcelain had to come from China was because the Chinese figured out how to make it. Unlike silk, there were no materials unique to that part of the world involved in the creation process. Europeans eventually figured out the recipe, and then became more proficient at it than the Chinese.

      3. I have a number of wills in my family tree mentioning who gets the mattress.

        Nowadays, you can’t give them away. No matter how good they are. Buying a new one because the old one was uncomfortable sleeping on? Unthinkable. And, the reason we got our last one. Or two…

    2. And patched clothes. These days if you see a coat with patches on the elbow, it’s a fashion choice (and one that’s not all that uncommon on some kinds of sports coats), and was made that way. Wasn’t all that long ago when it was something that was done out of frugality.

  5. The actual capital we are flushing is not as bad as the knowledge capital. Keep your books in paper and load up on how-to books. I cry when I see what is being taught in medicine now.

  6. The actual capital we are flushing is not as bad as the knowledge capital. Keep your books in paper and load up on how-to books. I cry when I see what is being taught in medicine now.

    1. Given the sudden advent of, ” sensitivity readers,” there’s another reason to keep your favorites I. Dead tree form.

    2. Yep, yep and yep again. I still content an early 20th century civilization could be rebuilt from the ashes and rubble of the 21st with the information contained in 1925 editions of Audels Manuals.

      1. The Reader believes we need to have higher aspirations than the early 20th century. Antibiotics weren’t available until the 1940s. But the Audels Manuals will be part of a good baseline.

        1. But of course. However if we can start to rebuild civilization at an early 20th century level rather than say, the 17th we’ll have antibiotic a lot sooner. Vacuum tube radios in less than a generation, computer chips and cell phone much much farther down the road.

          1. My 1911 Physics book reveals how much they knew 111 years ago. We have picked up a few things since.

            That single book gives you the basis to start. Keep your real books. Don’t trust electronic storage.

  7. At one point in my off beat life I was a history teacher – I tried to get the kids in class to understand a bit about how much more limited life was “in the past” than we have it now – walking and not riding anywhere, no electronics, cooking with fire, etc… and that was just going back 50-100 years. With that, I’m now a retired old guy living a comfortable life with resources that have never been available to anyone before today no matter how rich or connected.

    I was talking with the wife person and we were discussing our budget and how we are stable and secure and figure we can ride out the rest of life… I figure that puts us in (on a global scale) the top 1-5 % of society. Out in the world 95%+ don’t have the resources I have, don’t live on a daily basis as I can and have little hope of ever getting there – and I’m just a lower, middle class retired average schmuck in the American mid-west.

    Along with the physical riches, there is the additional (and very American) aspect of our freedom and the way the collective ‘we’ in the USA think and behave. Yeah… rich indeed!

    1. Some months ago, when I was still on twitter, I stuck my nose into a very interesting discussion about Zoomers trying to self-educate about the past, and one in particular who was trying to help a friend who was bouncing off of serious literature of some kind. My suggestion was the original Jungle Book (especially the Mowgli stories), plus Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. Jungle Book for good prose, fun stories with fairly universal values that usually aren’t linked in-story to particular human cultures. Apocalypto, for “this is what life looks like without modern technology.” People complained at the time about Gibson over-idealizing the hero’s hunter-gatherer culture, but although they come off as fairly good people, I didn’t get the impression that viewers came out envying the characters’ lifestyle.

      1. Dies the Fire. Fiction. But Stirling does a good job showing what happens if guns, cars, and electricity, suddenly went away. As the characters debated “how would anyone know if the event had happened before guns wide spread and electricity was unknown.”

  8. OT, but disturbing, reports Puffin Books has been “editing,” its Dahl collection by reaching through Amazon and changing books people have already bought to match their new, improved, ultra-sensitive, non-hurtful versions.

      1. Apparently not quite. They are going to leave the originals in print along side of the sanitized versions. And they pulled an update on people’s electronic versions.

        It said the books will be available alongside the sanitised versions “offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.”

        1. So, if you own them in ebook, those have been changed to the modernized versions, and you need to rebuy the authorial intent versions?

        2. Frankly, I’d check the new “original intent” versions against the actual originals.

      2. The team’s project manager listed herself as a, “nonbinary, aesexual, polyamorous female on the autism spectrum.” Really. Words fail me. (And they don’t fail me often).

        1. And had a hyphenated name. I swear that 9 times out of 10, whichever SJW is in the news has a hyphenated name. Even the ostensibly male ones. Since there’s rarely evidence of them being married, I can only think they inherited the hyphen from their parents. Make of that what you will.

    1. Reasons #1 through infinity why I will NEVER buy books on a Kindle. Somewhere between #2 and infinity is the fact that I spend too much time staring at electronic screens already, and I love the feel and experience of holding a paper book and turning the pages.

      1. May I suggest downloading copies from fadedpage,com ( They have a whole lotta politically-incorrect stuff, including the original James Bond books, Mr. Moto, Philip Marlow (he hates gays) and stuff like that in files you can download to your computer.

      2. Why I have ePubor. Both for Nook and Amazon. Only stalled for Amazon. It, and the Calibre (free versions) won’t work with current Amazon app. But if I download the Kindle version that works, with both, then I can’t download books. There is an eInk Kindle device hack, but I don’t own one, and won’t. So, for now Kindle books are out unless I can buy outside of Amazon (and then most can offer me an ePub version too).

        1. From the message that I saw when sending my Kindle books to another device, I’m suspecting that the “eInk Kindle device hack” only works for older Kindle ebooks (published prior to Jan 3rd?).

          IIRC, the message said that “some Kindle books might reach some of your devices”.

          In any case, I don’t have an eInk Kindle device and am not going to get an older one.

          What I’m doing is keeping a list of the eBooks that I can’t convert to ePub.

          1. I have one book not converted. Change was relatively recent. At least in my timeline. ePubor came up with an update that I’d hoped solved the problem. No. Reported it. They gave me the hack but replied “Sorry not helpful” with why. Replied “Okay then. Let me know when you have a solution.” Meanwhile Nook decryption still works.

          2. Drak, I really am working at giving people another option, including earcs. in fact, tomorrow I was thinking of throwing open the floor to y’all on that.

  9. Honestly, everytime I see the word, “hurtful,” I have to squelch the desire to reach right through the screen and….reason with the speaker.

    1. My mother’s “if you are going to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about!”

    2. My mother’s “if you are going to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about!”

      1. Or my granddaddy, “You want that? I’ll give you that. I’ll give you so much it’ll come out of your ears!”

      2. Eh … mine to my daughter and now to Wee Jamie, the Wonder Grandson is, “If I don’t see blood, I don’t want to see any tears!”

            1. I recommend to anyone with that situation a simple, if somewhat unlovely, tool: the toilet augur. Effective and quite inexpensive.

              1. The toilet augur – foretelling the future by reading the configuration of s(tuff) left in the bowl of the porcelain throne . . .

                1. Is there a School of Toilet Augury? 😀

                  Do they have to get their hands dirty? Are there diplomas and licenses? Rankings and degrees based on accuracy?

                  1. Nope.

                    Nope nope nope nope nope.

                    I’ve joked about making a new system of divination based on interpreting Birthday Massacre lyrics, but I draw the line at this.

                2. The honorable office of faecespex? That’s distinct from gong-farmer.

                  Although many of us have tried to decline the office by turning off our TVs. 57 channels, nothing on but faeces.

  10. Taking notes for faux regency project.

    Honestly, in that author’s shoes, I’d have been tempted to give him a clock-making/repair hobby. Fitzwilliam still wouldn’t be rich but a lot more people needed clocks than pretty wooden boxes, and maintaining them required specialized knowledge. And hey, if it’s a pasttime posh enough for Louis the Beheaded, it’s probably posh enough for the younger son of an Earl.

    And yeah, the vast majority of Americans among us today are ludicrously wealthy in the sense of material goods, healthcare, wants and needs provided for.

    1. We don’t even fix broken clocks. We toss them and buy a new one. Same for most other things.

      See, fixing things takes skilled labor. Building a new widget just takes slave labor in China.

      I remember radio and TV repair shops. Tube testers. Filing cabinets full of Sams Photofact manuals. You could make a good living fixing TVs and stereos.

      By the 90’s they were all but gone. Most electronic devices were built with specialized proprietary IC’s so that even if you could figure out which part had gone bad, you couldn’t get a replacement. These days, with high-density 0.5 mm pin pitch packages and fly-speck surface mount discrete components (ever seen an 0201 resistor?), even if you could get the parts, replacing them requires highly specialized skills and expensive equipment.

      Today’s TVs are far superior to those of the 1970’s — bigger, brighter, clearer picture, better sound, more reliable, much more versatile — but when they go bad you don’t have much choice but to chuck them in the junk. Fixing a modern TV would cost a lot more than buying a new one. With no demand for TV repair services, there aren’t any.
      Timov: “I don’t bite, Vir.”
      Vir: “With all due respect Madam, th-that’s not what I’ve heard.”
      Timov: “All right, that one time…”
      Vir: “It was— it was twice…”

      1. I picked up a digital light projector tv about ten years ago on sale (basically it had a significantly bigger screen than the equivalently priced LCDs/LEDs; and that screenage to pricing thing remained true until a couple years ago). It’s held up fairly well, but I did go ahead and buy an OEM replacement lamp for emergencies. Not looking forward to the day I actually have to install the lamp or bribe family members to help, but at least it’s theoretically doable.

        1. I have a Samsung 65″ DLP we bought in ’07. Last year the lamp (like you, I bought a spare Phillips lamp sometime in ’12 or ’13) finally went bad enough that it tripped the protective circuit and wouldn’t let the TV stay on. It took me about 15 minutes to replace it including the time to pull it out from the wall to get to the back; piece of cake. There’s a CYA switch on the lamp cover that tends to go flaky; bypassing it took another 10 minutes. Works fine again. 🙂

            1. Glad to help. I’d suggest you check for a YouTube video that deals with the model closest to yours; sometimes there are little tricks. At worst, they might keep you from glowing brightly when you touch the wrong thing.

              But at least you don’t have to deal with a CRT and its 35kV power supply… 😉

      2. There are still a few TV repair shops. They mostly replace full PC boards unless it’s the power supply or driver boards at issue since the power transistors & large capacitors that are the usual culprits can be readily replaced.
        I’ve done PC board and speaker replacement on a flat screen TV. Had to go ebay to get the board. There are vendors that repair and resell them.

        1. Same. Put a new power supply in my MIL’s 55″ TV (with glaucoma, she needed one that big to see it). Something like $35.

      3. Glances fondly over at my Hickok 605 tube tester…

        They have 01005 SMT parts now…I have an AVX sample kit with some of those…squint squint…oh, who am I kidding; I just grab the microscope at that point.

      4. Well, to be fair, along with “better” TVs are also MUCH MUCH MUCH cheaper, and labor is always expensive.

        Why pay someone $500 to repair your TV when you can just toss it and get a new one for $450? (And it’ll probably be an increment better than the one you bought for $450 three years ago.)

        1. Depends on how much care about how much the NEW IMPROVED internet connectivity – that you can’t turn off, without which the TV doesn’t work – is reporting about your TV habits to… the manufacturer?

          Or whomever.

          1. If I buy a TV and it won’t work without Internet connectivity (2-way, that is; streaming is fine because it’s why I bought it) it’s going back as defective – which it is.

      5. I think I boggle some, now, that I once a repaired a digital clock from… 1985?… that had ceased to work properly. Wasn’t much I could do, really, but there was one big electrolytic capacitor… and when it was bridged with another from “the junk box” the clock came back to life.. so, a quick swap and all was well again.

        Nowawadays I used the alarm on the phone (n-th phone…) and $SISTAUR asks why I pick “that really annoying alarm”.. because it’s THE alarm and it means WAKE UP NOW!

      1. Good point. I saw a theory somewhere that, based on their region of origin and name, JA might have been implying that the Bingley father and/or grandfather might have make his/their fortune manufacturing locks.

    2. Clock-making with a side-line in things like bespoke music boxes and navigational instruments. There would have been intense interest in owning and showing off items like that.

  11. Horse Guards or Life Guards? Horse Guards at the time was not a household regiment and had a very good battle record. In fairness, the Life Guards were a fighting regiment too, but they didn’t often serve abroad.

    Their officers, particularly the Life Guards, were aristocrats. — they were stationed in London which was a very expensive billet. the men hadn’t been gentlemen since the army’s reorganization after the American Revolution,

    Both regiments were at Waterloo where they, along with the other mostly inexperienced British Heavies, lost their discipline in a charge and got cut up badly.

      1. I’m afraid I’m a button counter, but this drives me batty. It makes a difference, the author should know this if they’re going to use it. Heavy Cavalry was very, very expensive and did have very pretty uniforms — none more so than the life guards. the Horse Guards wore blue and were pretty, but not so pretty as the Life Guards. I suppose it’s forgivable that one would classify the Horse Guards as, well, guards, but they weren’t until the 1820’s. For most of the period, they were either regular heavy cavalry, or essentially, riot troops in London. There was a huge social gap between the Life Guards and Horse. Guards.

        Fiction writers would be better to assign their characters to the Mumersetshire Regiment, or invent a cavalry regiment. Nobles would be better in some fictional Yeomanry regiment. These were essentially owned by the local noble and had gorgeous uniforms. they didn’t serve abroad until the Boer war.

        Standing around being pretty is about right. Most of the Heavy Cavalry stayed at home throughout the Napoleonic period. My mum’s family had a bit of money for a bright shining moment until one of the sons had himself bought a commision in a heavy cavalry regiment.he managed to go through a fortune on gambling, booze, and …. ummm … women of negotiable affection,. He managed to avoid all the fighting until he fought and died at Waterloo. — the war was supposed to be over at that point till Boney came back from Elba. From what we can see, he managed to avoid the depot too as he spent all his time in either Dublin or London swanning about. . We’ve been broke ever since.

        1. This particular author is also confused about the regulars and the militia, since Fitzwilliam is regulars, but he commands (IN HER BOOK) a militia regiment. Head>desk

          1. That’s not entirely egregious one could be both. In fact you’d be much more likely to see an officer of militia
            In uniform than a regular. Wearing uniform off duty was a Continental thing mostly. English officers typically didn’t. You didn’t see the regulars ummm regularly out in the shires but you did see the militia

            Lord Fitzwilliam was a real person. He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland during the regency. If I remember correctly his ggggg granddaughter is married to Jacob Rees Mogg

            Sorry, it’s the autism coming out

              1. England was one of the least militarized places on Earth at the time. The army was very small and stationed in Ireland, where it was much cheaper, or abroad on service. It was not very popular. the Navy was seen, rightly, as the primary defense.

                The Yeomanry and Militia were local defense and the militia often disappeared in peacetime through apathy. The Yeomanry served to break up disturbances and to look pretty on parade — all the girls like a uniform and all. Only the Castlemartin Yeomanry gained a battle honor before the Boer War for Fishguard in 1797. The Irish Yeomanry did a little more especially putting down the ‘98 and The French invasion of Mayo.

                  1. Not really, though it would likely be the same people just not embodied as the Yeos. There wasn’t really any official law enforcement beyond some watchmen before Robert Peel established the Metropolitan police in 1829. Bobbies to the English, they were called Peelers by the Irish when speaking of the DMP or the RIC.

                1. As is remarked in Pride and Prejudice (which featured a militia regiment, BTW)

                  “My dear Mr. Bennet, you must not expect such girls to have the sense of their father and mother.—When they get to our age I dare say they will not think about officers any more than we do. I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well—and indeed so I do still at my heart; and if a smart young colonel, with five or six thousand a year, should want one of my girls, I shall not say nay to him; and I thought Colonel Forster looked very becoming the other night at Sir William’s in his regimentals.”

        2. I suspect a lot of moderns would also be shocked at the idea of buying a commission. The notion of promotion by merit, however “modified,” is taken for granted.

          1. I’d imagine that at the time having enough money to purchase a commission indicated merit as far as they were concerned.

            If you’re poor how could you possibly have merit?

            That was one of the genius ideas of the American Way. You could prove you had merit no matter who you were or where you came from. Not a universal concept at all.

            1. As I understand it, buying the commission was intended to make sure the generals had skin in the game of keeping England England. Since ultimately, the Royal Navy was what kept foreign armies from landing, the army’s major requirement was loyalty rather than the highest competence.

              I also seem to recall before railroads were in widespread use for army logistics, wars were much more limited affairs?

              1. It was a combination of the railroad and better food preservation techniques. The Napoleonic era was pre-railroad, but still had battles with armies of over 100,000 men on each side. That may not sound like much until you remember that all of those men were fighting at more or less the same place, and not spread out over a massive front (Bastogne, for instance, had at most a little over 20,000 defenders). The change was the continuous front. Railroads meant that you could get food distributed faster and more widely (allowing the massive continuous fronts of World War I), while preservation methods (such as canning) meant that you could use an assembly line to package the food and keep it edible until the men had it. That allowed the militaries to assemble larger stockpiles of foodstuffs.

          2. There’s also how recruitment was handled. IIRC, when one of the characters in ‘War and Peace’ joins the Russian army early in the novel, he doesn’t enlist in the army so much as he enlists with a specific regiment in the army. Though it should also be noted that the character in question isn’t from the peasantry, who wouldn’t have had the same options.

            However, even that peasant would have ended up serving with the same regiment for his entire length of service (assuming he somehow survived), and wouldn’t have been shuffled around to different units as is commonplace in the US military nowadays.

            1. Colonels used to own, literally, their regiments. They were paid a stipend by the state but had to clothe and feed the regiment. Many colonels made a tidy profit off shortchanging their soldiers though a conscientious colonel would lose money on the deal. In German speaking countries they were called the Inhaber and appointed their own officers.

              The soldiers would enlist in a specific company within the regiment and “belonged” to the captain, who also owned his company though that went away a bit earlier. that’s why the Queen was buried with the company colour of the first company of the Grenadier Guards, The sovereign is always Captain of that company.

              The colonel actually owning the regiment went out in Britain around 1750 when Regiments were given numbers. The French had it down to the revolution, the Prussians down to The aftermath of Jena, and the Austrians further still.

              The British Indian army had all sorts of irregular regiments that belonged to their Colonels until they were brought into the regular service after the Mutiny. Skinner’s Horse, among others, still exists in the Indian army today, Anyone interested in Regency exotica could do worse than look up the history of James Skinner and his yellow boys, India was the source of a lot of regency fortunes going back to Clive’s — I know he was earlier — toast of a lass and a lakh a day. (A lakh of rupees would be about £500 a princely wage indeed and made one attractive to any number of lasses,)

              To this day, British officers are commissioned into a specific regiment and not into the army.

              Sorry again — special subject. I’ll stop now.

              1. The “ownership” is also hinted at in War and Peace. It’s not outright stated, but there are comments that can be used to infer that the commanding officer of the regiment effectively “owns” it in the fashion that you described, and is paid by the government to maintain it. In particular, iirc it’s stated that the commanding officer of each regiment picks the specific colors that will be on the uniforms of the men in the regiment. This isn’t to say that the men of the regiment won’t be wearing the standard Russian Green of the day. But there would have been some minor color variations in designated parts of the uniform that would differentiate the men of that regiment from the men of one of the other regiments in the Russian army (and from what I understand, all of the European armies of the Napoleonic era did the same).

                1. It was all getting formalized and made more uniforms by the time of the Napoleonic wars. — it all got too big. Regimental distinctions were becoming more muted. The Russian regulations — I have a translated copy — regulated everything downt to the color of the flag poles and officer’s sticks. After roughly Austerlitz all regiments wore green with red facings except the Semenovsky Guards who wore, and wear, azure blue.

                  French infantry were fairly uniform with a distinction between the line and legere. The cavalry, especially the hussars, were more colorful. Prussia after Jena wore whatever they could scrounge. Britain and Austria maintained regimental facings — Britain still does. Spanish regiments were very colorful early in the war but very bland later when England supplied their uniforms in bulk. Portugal wore blue with red facings exclusively. Cavalry was always more varied.

                  USA never really had regimental facings. They had facings by branch e.g., red for artillery, yellow for cavalry and light blue, later white,,later light blue for infantry. I don’t think that US regiments were ever named for their Colonels except possibly during the. Revolution.

                  As I said, I’m a button counter. 😀

                  1. cavalry, especially the hussars, were more colorful

                    There was one Russian hussar regiment that wore head to toe lemon yellow, and another one that wore — swear to God — baby pink.

                    As the wars went on and the various national armies became more and more “mass”, the uniforms became more and more, well, uniform. The “golden age of the military tailor” only applies to the earlier Napoleonic Wars era.

                    1. The British 11th Hussars wear crimson trousers. Their nickname is the Cherubim,,pronounced cherry bums. this was Lord Cardigan’s regiment in the Light Brigade at Balaclava.

                      My favorite is the old Imperial 4th Hussars who wore parrot green with red shakos. Not coincidentally I suspect, they were the most decorated Hussar regiment in the Imperial army during the Napoleonic wars.

                    2. The 11th Hussars, of course, was Harry Flashman’s regiment.

                      He always called them the Cherry Pickers, though, which seems to be backed up by Wikipedia.

                    3. Although a number of regiments in both armies during the Civil War started out wearing French Zouave uniforms…. aka “Shoot Me Now”. That nonsense didn’t last long.

                    4. They had more than one, most regiments did. Cherry Bum was very edgy in Victorian times. My family regiment’s nickname was “the devils’s own”. Now that’s a name for a fighting regiment.

                  2. Odds and ends…

                    ‘War and Peace’ starts iirc just before Austerlitz, and ends shortly after the conclusion of the 1812 campaign.

                    My understanding is that cavalry were still considered a bit more of a prestigious arm at the time, which is likely why they had more varied uniforms. One thing to note – I’m sure you’re aware of it, but it’s not mentioned – is the habit of putting horses of the same color in the same cavalry squadrons. The famous Royal Scots Greys were a classic example of this.

                    Given that Prussia’s most famous Napoleonic general is the… uh… eccentric Blucher, scrounging for uniform parts seems appropriate. 😛

                    I suspect you’re right about US regiments not being named for their colonels. I suspect that practice was a hold-over from the aristocracy, which the US didn’t have. Plus, the American Army tended to get rather small when there wasn’t an actual war going on.

                    I had a friend (sadly, note the tense) who had a rather impressive collection of 15mm Napoleonic figures. We’d play out non-historical battles using corps (units represented brigades) grabbed from his collection. He liked the French (though he usually ran Austrians when playing on the other side in a game involving more than just the two of us). I tended to run the Russians. He reversed that on a couple of occasions, and was always shocked at how much of a handicap the Russians labored under due to the poorer troop quality. The Russian artillery batteries were always fun, though (the Russians usually had bigger batteries than everyone else).

              2. BGE: Do you realize you just taught me more in this comment than years of research into the regency? (Yes, there are unwritten romances in my head. BUT also fantasy)
                STOP APOLOGIZING. Thank you. Don’t make me make you write a book on this.

  12. I like to compare it to one commodity that became very abundant in the last 20 or 30 years. Sweet cherries in December. When I was a kid I never saw sweet cherries in a store. We live in the Southeastern United States, and sour cherries grow locally, b
    ut not the sweet Bing variety.

    Back in the nineties Bing cherries showed up in the grocery stores in June. Oh they were delicious. I loved them so much. They were $8 a pound and I loved them. They were also a luxury at $8 a pound.

    After a few years the price became more reasonable and sometimes I could get them for $3 a pound. That was great!

    Then one day I found them in December. December! For 5 bucks a pound! Flown in from Chile. On a jet. Within hours of being harvested.

    Now, do you think that anyone, even one of the richest men in the world, could have gotten fresh sweet Bing cherries on his table at Christmas Day in the United States a 100 years earlier? No, of course not. So I, A middle class nobody, was richer in the year 2000 than George Vanderbilt was in the year 1900.

    1. Sweet Bing Cherries

      Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Avocado, Melons, … this is what I can think of off the top that we have now available year round. Where before we used to only have them fresh seasonally, dried or frozen off season.

  13. Sarah,

    I re-sent that sample .rtf file yesterday, as requested. Did the email not show up?

    1. [groan]

      I didn’t get your response, so it looks like we’re still having some email trouble.

      But it’s a lot better than before, I guess. We might have to double-check through the blog occasionally to make sure things are coming through, but as long as it doesn’t get worse I think this is workable.

  14. My mother did not live in a house with an indoor toilet until she got married at the tender age of 17. Her father never did own a house with an indoor toilet. The farm my father grew up on did not have electricity until sometime after he came back from serving in the Navy during the Korean War. Every fall we spent a week at the farm butchering and preserving and canning everything the farm produced over the summer so Grandma and Grandpa had food for the winter. It was hard miserable work and I vowed I would NEVER live on a farm. Or especially have chickens or pigs.

    I remember when my mother bought her first clothes dryer. The neighborhood ladies all came to watch it dry the first load of clothes and marvel at the fluffiness of the towels when they came out.

    When my brother served on a submarine during the first Gulf War email was just starting out. He could only email from a port.

    My grandkids could talk to their dad stationed in rural Africa on their “Dick Tracy” watches pretty much whenever he wasn’t actually on duty. They’ve never not had electricity, clean running water, a microwave, enough cars for everyone in the family who has a license to have one, a giant refrigerator full of food including out of season fruits and vegetables, none of which they have had to save for the winter. They don’t know how to cook. They know how to reheat.

    I know how to grow, cook, can, dehydrate and otherwise preserve food. I haven’t needed to do it since my kids were little. It’s hard work, and my health is bad. But I feel better when I don’t eat processed crap from stores or restaurants.

    It will be interesting to see how the youngsters do learning all this stuff if it becomes necessary. Right now it’s an alternative lifestyle. But how will they fare if it becomes the way everyone lives like it was back in the day? I hope they don’t have to find out.

    1. One of the, many, good things about living up here atop the world; many I know have been there, done all of that and even I’ve done a fair amount of it. I think more could not only survive but also thrive, with a little help from their friends, than folks in many parts of the lower forty eight.

      I an sure though there are still a fair number down there in the piney woods, the bayous, the switch backs with the skills necessary. Wouldn’t do no harm for youngsters to stop by and say howdy to folks like them and SusanM, might even learn a thing or two.

    2. I don’t know when Mom got a dryer, I think I’d gone off to college because one of my chores was hanging clothes on the clothes line. And one of our group chores was shelling butter beans out on the back porch. Man, my thumbs got sore. And I don’t even like butter beans.
      Mom blanched them and put them in the freezer, so I never canned.

      1. My mom used a freezer extensively too. Frozen produce tastes much better than canned we always thought. And it’s faster to put up large quantities too. However, if your electrical grid is unreliable canning is a better option because you don’t need uninterrupted power to keep an appliance running so the food doesn’t spoil.

        Because of the energy situation, canning is making a comeback these days. As is dehydrating.

        1. This is why I mostly freeze large batches of stew/chili/whatever but I also occasionally can some too and build up the stock (or rather I will again when I have my kitchen rebuilt). That plus the freeze-dried emergency food stores should carry me through any foreseeable power outage or energy scarcity.

        1. XD That’s what my grandparents did – built a new house – with indoor plumbing! – right as the youngest kid (my mother) was leaving for college.

          Mom sees absolutely no reason to go camping. “I grew up doing that, why would I volunteer for it?”

          1. “I grew up doing that, why would I volunteer for it?”

            That’s my hubby’s attitude toward fireplaces. Why would he get one now when all the boys are gone and he already did more than his share of cutting and splitting firewood? He definitely doesn’t think a fireplace is in any way romantic.

        2. That’s what my Dad did with the lawnmower. He had a push lawnmower right up until I moved out of the house.

          And within just a month or two, he had a gas-powered one instead.

          1. Dish washer for mom, as soon as I left for college.

            Mom had a dryer but she used the solar dryer during the summer.

            Mom canned and she froze some out of the garden (mostly the berries that weren’t jam).

            Also helped wrap (but never cut) the deer and elk. Trout were easy, clean and freeze.

            I freeze everything. We use a small portable generator for the freezer and frig when power goes out. There is very little canned that I can stand (red beans, soups, and tomato sauce is it. Will not buy anything else canned.) Either get fresh, a few items dried, or freeze. Hubby is even more picky. I’m afraid we raised our son to be picky too (and this is a kid that went on a “See Food” diet at 14 and didn’t stop until in his 30s).

    3. Aye… those who destroy The Age of Everyday Miracles will NOT be considered fondly.

      And the idiot governor of MN recently signed a Blackout Bill (not his name for it, just what it IS) that requires a full switchover to ‘renewables’ (that ain’t) and such for electrical generation. I think I best stock up on mantles, wicks, and kerosene if I want to have light.

    4. The crazy thing is that the only reason why the US will ever have to go through this (at least within the next couple hundred years) is because of choices made by our leadership. We are blessed with pretty much anything and everything that we might need to keep the country going at least at an ’80s level (or close to it, depending on the specific area) with minimal effort. The only reason we wouldn’t be able to do so is because of choices made to deny us access to things such as coal, natural gas, or hydroelectric power.

  15. The big money in the regency, the people who became rich enough to compete with the nobility of birth, were import-exporters

    And I believe even during the Regency, a lot of import/export was either a royally-granted monopoly or a cartel.

  16. And another thing…how likely would even a second son (especially a second son) of an earl be to want to give up his status, such as it was, to be a mere tradesman? One has one’s position to think of, not to mention the family honor.
    The only way I could see the plot line working would be if he somehow came into a vast fortune, so that his woodworking would be considered merely “eccentric.” In that case, he might even be able to sell his work, for the sheer novelty/snob value.

    1. Woodworking was not an uncommon hobby for upper class people. There were special tools of extremely good quality made for them. It’s why a gents saw is called a gents saw. They did light work, mostly boxes, from exotic wood.

      Of course, they would never do it for pay. That would be a trade.

        1. Hobby yes, Trade no, never. That said, younger sons had to make shift since they didn’t inherit.

          1. Exactly. The spare went into the cleric (priesthood, but available if heir died without an heir in play place). Next heirs (3rd onward) got bought commissions. Less likely to inherit so less prevalent to the inheritance.

            1. And a commission also provided an opportunity to earn a fortune and/or title with a little bit of luck on the battlefield.

              1. Just like the daughters were either sold married off to other heirs (or sent to convents as they aged out), younger male children could be sold married off into other noble families where the male heir did not survive to adulthood. Also there were often multiple properties that eventually, if the younger siblings survived their commissions, they could sell the commission and be hired to manage those properties. A step down from the peerage but allowed to marry and have offspring.

            2. Either that, or they got posts in various colonies, whether military or the civil service. Kipling based half of his stories and poems on this.


              “By Docket, Billetdoux, and File,
              By Mountain, Cliff, and Fir,
              By Fan and Sword and Office-box,
              By Corset, Plume, and Spur
              By Riot, Revel, Waltz, and War,
              By Women, Work, and Bills,
              By all the life that fizzes in
              The everlasting Hills,
              If you love me as I love you
              What pair so happy as we two?”

      1. I have absolutely no problem with his doing it as a hobby. It would have been cute.
        BUT not with his wanting to live from it. It would never pay enough in that form.

          1. No. If I don’t answer in the back panel. And sometimes it won’t let me, I have to log in. And it won’t let me log in as myself. It’s PROFOUNDLY annoying.

            1. WPDE. If somebody somewhere manages to gin up a solid program that doesn’t suck, it’ll become a millionaire property overnight. I’d buy into it.

            2. I can’t log in directly on the old (writing) laptop. To log in I have to comment, and then hope for the best. The new laptop? No problem. I suspect the OS and browsers on Old Laptop and the latest WP improvements don’t play together.

  17. I am reminded of a scene in Eric Flint and Dave Freeer’s book “Pyramid Power” where they were confincing Medea that an Army Sergeant could maintain her in the style appropriate to her station. An army sergeant is not exaclty wealthy even with jump pay but “How many suits of clothes do you have” and “a mechanical servant that removes dust and dirt from the floor with a great, gusting wind.”

    It’s also something I’ve discussed before, with a much shorter timeframe:

    Benefiting from Prosperity. (Originally “The Poor get Poorer”): A Blast from the Past

    1. The problem is, everybody else has (or can get) the same luxuries. You’re not ‘Rich’ unless you can sneer at the proles because you’ve got stuff they can only dream of. No matter how paltry those ‘exclusive’ gewgaws might seem in today’s world.

      If your house has gaslights when everybody else has to make do with tallow candles, you’re Rich! If you’ve just got automatic ambiance-adjustable LED lights like everybody else, you’re a plebe.

      Everybody can just walk into a store and buy bananas, pineapples, oranges and papayas shipped from thousands of miles away, load them in the car, take them home and pop them in the refrigerator where they’ll keep for a week or more.

      But they’re not ‘Rich’.
      Leo Bloom: “Well, if we assume, just for a moment, that you’re a dishonest man—“

      Max Bialystock: “Assume, assume!”

      1. Hence wine snobs who pay thousands of dollars for a single bottle. Just bought a case of mixed wines for the 10% case discount- $75 total, with tax. All eminently drinkable.

        1. I can’t recommend enough most Portuguese Verde wines. They’re light and fruity, and will set you back about $10 a bottle or a little under. Very sippable, not to mention great to accompany fish or grilled chicken

          1. Sweet or dry? I drink dry, my better half sweet. I’ve been buying a lot of Chilean wines for me. Ice wines for her. Canadian or NY- she likes the Canadian ones better.

          2. I suspect my last comment is on time delay- but recently my Facebook ads have been popping up with- Portugal! A great place to retire! Got an opinion on that?

            1. Yes. Most people who try that last a year.
              It’s the health care, lack of ability to get anything done, unless you know the mordida, and in one case, no warning of a fire engulfing the highway the expatriates were on. (They were fine, but saw hundreds of people flambeed just ahead of them.)

              1. Yeah, ‘Free’ Socialized Medicine sounds great in theory — until you have to use it. There’s a reason thousands of Canadians come to the U.S. and pay for medical treatment. The Canuckistani Government is trying to make that illegal.

                Madonna moved to England when Trump was elected — then moved back to the U.S. after having to deal with British National Health, obstetrics specialty.

                And yet still supports copying British National Health here. Where will you go to escape American National Health?
                Under socialized medicine, each patient incurs expenses which end when the patient dies. In private practice, each patient provides profits which end when the patient dies. Which patient would YOU rather be?

        2. Or Rolexes. I bought a watch for 10 bucks. It tells time. If I spent $50,000 on a Rolex, would it be 5,000 times better at telling time? Would it give me more hours in a day?

          If my 10-buck watch breaks, I spend another 10 bucks and get a new one instead of $1,000 to have it fixed. If it gets lost or stolen, it’s trivial. Who’d steal it in the first place? People have been murdered over Rolexes.

  18. The very rich turning common “work,” into leisurely pastimes was a thing, if you were rich/noble enough. I have seen beautiful, wood-turned handspindles made for the French aristocracy, for example. And Queen Victoria had a spinning wheel.
    I have a, “God Bless the Industrial Revolution,” spiel where I talk about how labor-intensive making cloth used to be. And how factory-made textiles made women’s lives so much easier in the long run because now more women didn’t have to spend every waking moment spinning/weaving/prepping fiber.
    Of course, now we have merely middle and upper-middle class women admiring themselves as, “artists,” because they have the leisure and wealth to use high-quality materials to make (absolutely) beautiful fabrics. Self included, except I’m not an artist, I’m a contented artisan/craftswoman.

    1. I estimate that it would take 40 to 50 hours of labor to make a simple denim work shirt using a spinning wheel and a manual loom. Not unskilled labor, either. That shirt would cost around $700.00.

      Most of the labor goes into spinning 12,000 yards of thread at a rate of 2 yards a minute. I watched someone use a spinning wheel at a Ren Faire and that’s how fast it looked like she was going. Weaving the thread into cloth would ‘only’ take about 6 hours, including setup time.

      No wonder textile production was one of the first targets of industrialization. Reducing the cost of cloth by two orders of magnitude was huge.
      Today, every child in America is born $139,000 in debt.

      1. There was a reason that pretty much every spare waking moment was spent spinning. Say, isn’t there a word… spinster? Hrmm… why that mean that?

          1. I learned recently from the History of English podcast, that -ster was the female ending for an occupational title. So:

            weaver (m) -> webster (f)
            spinner (m) -> spinster (f)
            brewer (m) -> brewster (f)

            I found that interesting because I have Websters on my mother’s side and Brewers on my father’s.

              1. I suppose I should have stated that this was a thing in Middle English and not so much thereafter. 😀

        1. When making wool cloth, the wool and the spinning cost just about the same; the weaving was half that. But the spinners still lived in penury because that meant a lot of wages spread out.

      2. At least. Cotton is a b*tch to spin. Also, if you’re making a plied yarn that at least doubles the time. Not to mention washing, dyeing, cutting and sewing the fabric…

  19. That’s definitely an example of the difference between a period piece and a costume drama. The first makes at least an attempt at historicity.

    The latter is modern people playing dress-up.

    1. If you are going to have a problem, a surplus of goods (including foodstuffs!) is BY FAR the best one to have.

      I’d rather live in a world where the town has a dollar store or two or… than one in which Famine is riding. Chintz is a sign of luxury beyond mere minerals in pretty forms.

      1. And that surplus needs to include whatever you’re going to defend it with.

        One of the plotlines in almost every post nuclear war story was the mobs breaking into someone’s well prepared fallout shelter because the people who prepped wouldn’t allow them in. Of course, rendering the shelter useless for it’s intended purpose…

  20. Dear World,

    Recall the story of the “golden goose”? And that killing it meant no more gold eggs? Ponder that and ponder it long and well. Now, the USA… which might seem insane to you, yes… is a Golden Goose. Kill the USA and no more gold eggs – EVER.

    Leave the goose be, and gold eggs will pretty much just happen.


    No, THINK!

    No, really, THINK!!

    1. There’s folks what don’t quite know, I suspect. How to think that is. Judging from what I hear and see, well, its a distressing amount of them that just plain react and amble along, no thought in their heads.

      Much of the “daily grind” can be reduced to rote response and habit. Habits are comfortable. People don’t want to leave that groove they’ve worn with time. Thinking is hard stuff. You have to make with the skull sweat to intelligently evaluate, plan, and execute.

      Note well those who are just as happy to leave the planning to others. Government, say. The lack of true curiosity astounds me sometimes.

      1. “The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. It isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. It’s that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.” Thomas Sowell.

  21. I confess that I worry about the lack of ability to make do in this generation. When the shelves are empty, they will gladly form a line to the cattle cars just to get a meal.

    File this under things I think about at 3 a.m.

    1. Dear Everyone: Get yer own dang car!

      Though I can sort of see the enviro-schmucks pushing things to were folsk cobble together Model-T like things with low-compression engines that can run dang near anything that goes ‘bang’ if it’s violent enough, but not too violent.

      1. Speaking of cars.. how THIS for PLENTY…
        $HOUSEMATE drove us both up to The Cities (in a 2022 Mercedes GLC 300 4Matic)… to get the 1987 Mercedes 560SL… so I drove the GLC back… but parked on the street as even with all the gadgetry, I didn’t want to try to get it into the garage 2+ hours after LATE bedtime. Then he got the SL to $HOOTERVILLE…. and I drove the Lexus IS 250 AWD (following him) to the storage facility… and well, look, ox. Ox what drove a Corolla for 23 years… and well… Age of Miracles, yes?

        Granted, it’s also amazing that a typical phone now has….
        PHONE – transceiver
        WiFi (silly name, but..) – transceiver
        Bluetooth – transceiver
        GPS – receiver

        Now, that all in one pocketable package that is also a computer, etc. Which is a-bloody-mazing when it was NOT that long ago that a 5 tube (The “American Five”) AM radio was common…

      2. The Reader has spent some time thinking about a 4 cylinder diesel adequate to move most modern vehicles along with a 3 speed auto transmission that requires no electronics. And diagrams to machine adapter to fit them into most cars (some goofy modern ones may also need a simple transaxle).

        1. Think 1975 or so Mercedes 240D. Though you’ll want the stick; it’s slow enough without crippling it further with a (hard to maintain and finicky) slushbox.

          1. The engine in the 240D isn’t a bad starting point. As to the 3 speed slush box, the one in the Reader’s 75 Duster and the ones in his parent’s Plymouths from the same era went the entire life of the vehicle (all 3 in the 130K miles range) without being touched. As the Duster aged, the Reader checked the color of the fluid periodically. As long as there were no burnt bits it was left alone.

            1. There’s one more advantage: you can push-start a car with a manual.

              The W123 240D has a huge, very well-deserved reputation for being absolutely bulletproof. (Well, all W123s do, actually.) With proper maintenance, they’ll last a million miles.

    2. Nah. The kids are still human. Humans are resourceful. Just because they don’t understand how things work doesn’t make them stupid. It makes them poorly taught.

          1. Yep, probably my least favorite OT character (Palpatine, Tarkin, and Jabba are at least entertainingly evil) and a large part of my lack of enthusiasm of Empire Strikes Back.

        1. AND HOW!

          Some keep trying to explain ti was all context but since it’s never mentioned in that context save in “explanation”… Yeah, Shut up, Yoda!

        1. There was something I think I saw on Pintrest a while back…

          Referendum to non-human starship captains RE: The WT Maneuver.

          DO NOT USE except in truly dire circumstances, when there is ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY no other action that can be taken, and the entire crew is in imminent peril of death/enslavement/conversion into a force of mass destruction.

          IN THE ABOVE CIRCUMSTANCES: Locate the human aboard your ship. (There is at least one human assigned to each ship in the fleet for this purpose.) Bring them to the bridge (or applicable location), and explain to them the problem in the direst possible terms. Make sure to stress that “There is no hope,” and “We shall all perish horribly, and the Republic along with us.”

          This conversation is meant to end with the human offering to come up with something. You must then use every ounce of mockery, disdain, and contempt you can muster as you begin The Maneuver: “What could a puny little human like you do against that?”

          If you have executed The Maneuver properly, the following will happen in order: the human will smile in such a way as to belie their omnivorous eating habits, and speak the phrase, “Watch this.” Once this point is reached: stand aside, give the human whatever it wants, and pray to whatever deity(ies)/power(s)/intergalactinc programmer you may or may not believe in.

            1. A human being is, at root, not all that special. Selfish. Often violent. Uncivilized is the term. Very uncivilized.

              What humans are, is packed with such potential it should frighten the boots off of every would-be tyrant there is. Humans conquered every other species in the world with nothing but bloody hand tools. And often poorly crafted ones at that.

              The potential of the average humans is such that other humans try to quash and limit that potential by making them think they are weak and stupid all the time. See: all the -isms that were tried over the long centuries written and before writing was a thing.

              And potential is also almost worthless. There is nothing so common in this world as unrealized potential. And you can only realize that potential through hard work. And hard work is, well, difficult, often dirty, sometimes dangerous.

              But I tell you this: Give a man the freedom to keep what he earns, and he will shock you with his ability and work ethic. Give him the peace needed to do his work without bandits and thieves taking from him, give him the structure needed to ensure that contracts are adhered to, give him a set of laws that apply to even the highest, that will make men that move mountains.

              1. My fan theory is that humans have the weakest emotions of all the species in the Trek setting, which means humans can routinely unleash their emotions without the drawbacks that other species would suffer for doing so. Other species either have strong social & cultural controls of one sort or another on their emotions, or else don’t and are held back by this lack. But humans use their emotions as tools, and are both hot-blooded and cold-blooded at the same time.

                Humans are the only species in the Trek setting who can successfully perform open-heart warp-drive surgery even while in a state of (for humans) gonzo mania or flaming rage. Everyone else has to either clamp down or fail.

          1. There is quite a bit of amateur fiction in this vein – sometimes described as HFY, or Humanity, F$%^ Yeah. Most of it’s garbage, but that’s to be expected of any amateur fiction category.

            1. And if you want it as an “audiobook”, there are YouTube channels devoted to it.

          2. In the unfortunate event where you need a repeat, tell the human the first time was a fluke.

        2. Yeah, this! The Reader notes that the goal of modern education is to impose ever more severe limiters on young humans.

  22. From an unknown online source:
    “I’m going to become rich and famous after I invent a device that lets you stab people in the face over the internet.”

    May involve more or less reason than you intended.

      1. > “No matter how long it takes.”

        Does the term “infinite loop” hold any meaning for you?

  23. Another sign of the times is that the materials for doing crafts are suffering. Given how much yarn is (was?) produced in Turkey, I can foresee more shortages upcoming. Some of my favorite brands for making prayer shawls are gone, apparently discontinued.
    It would not surprise me in the slightest if Michaels goes bankrupt before the end of the year. Their stores are beginning to remind me of late-stage KMart, every time I go in.

    1. All retail is beginning to look that way. Went into a Burlington last week, a stack ’em high sell ’em cheap store. 25% of the floor space has no product or shelving. And the racks full of clothes were packed loosely, not tight as they used to be.

      Stores like Marshalls are beginning to look bare.

      Home Depot and Lowes don’t have the variety of products they used to carry.

      You can see that in all retail. Apparently even the food companies are cutting down on the number of products they produce, so no m ore specialty items will be forthcoming.

      We’re at the beginning of a downhill slope. How steep or long the slope is is as of yet undetermined.

  24. Weirdly enough I was struck by the very thought the other day—this is a sign of how well-off we are that you can even buy stuff like this; just can’t remember what do-dad or knick-knack it was.

    And people that bemoan “late stage capitalism” should have to use an outhouse for a month. Why not? My father’s cousin did until she was seventy or so (and had to use a walker). Might do ’em some good.

    And that’s some cover for Barbarella (What is that on her back? It’s looking very intently.)

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