Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I was born less than twenty years after the end of World War II. It hit me as an anvil the other day that when I was bumming around Europe with an Eurorail pass in the early eighties, the people I ran into had been children in World War II. Like my dad, who, back then, was in his late 40s. Or even adults, for the older people.

Those guys in the back of the bar in Germany, saying nasty things about the American tourists? It’s entirely likely they’d fought in the German armies.

It didn’t feel that way. You see, World War II was long ago. Done and dusted. It had happened in the world of old movies, where everything was in black and white. And World War I, of which my grandparents had vivid memories (as children)? Well, that was… that was at least as far away as the French revolution. As old as a belief in the divine rights of kings. Done and dusted. Sleeping with the ancestors. No more affecting my life — perhaps less — than the edicts of Roman emperors or that Portuguese king who planted pines to slow erosion.

But it’s not that way. Of course not.

We’re all born into a world of ghosts, and raised with things no one ever says, because — well, it’s not even because we don’t want to. It’s more that it’s so obvious to us, who have been around a long time — it never occurs to us to mention it.

My parents mentioned being little and having government people come around to glue a film on the windows. In case of bombing, so it wouldn’t cause more death and destruction. (Yes, Portugal was neutral. Which was actually a really bad place to be when you’re a small and poor country. As was pointed out when I was little “well, if Portugal weren’t neutral, Spain would have invaded. The end. Unless it went in on Spain’s side and then England would have bombed it. The end.” So Portugal sent food to both sides, starved its people and apparently played brinksmanship games.) Mom talked of going hungry, and how expensive food was. Dad… well, his family always grew the food they needed, but there wasn’t much extra for anything.

But that’s what I heard of. And dad had books of military history and a lot on World War II. But I never realized it was that close, that it was not just living memory but “vigorous adult” memory. Until a few years ago.

I bet you my kids feel the same about the Cold War. They have no concept of growing up knowing at any minute the bombs would fly, and destroy all life on earth, and send the survivors to the stone age. (That this was never plausible or the truth, but another Soviet propaganda operation is something else.)

I was talking to someone slightly older than I about everyone being scared of nuclear war, and us sitting here, going “first time?”

But there’s more to it than that, of course. That thing I said above? “That was never likely?”

It was never likely. We know nukes don’t have the sort of range and effect we were told they had. We know nuclear winter was a crock dreamed up by people who wanted the west to voluntarily disarm.

At the risk of sounding insane, the entire 20th century is sounding more and more like the empires doing these plays to keep the crowd quiescent so they could continue ruling, centrally and very badly.

I hate to sound like the mid century communists — who were saying this for other reasons — but what did WWI actually accomplish? Well, getting rid of young men of a bellicose disposition. WWII also, to an extent. Also, allow governments to grasp more power than they ever dreamed of. Both wars gave centralized governments more power. In the US it pretty much shredded the constitution.

And the cold war? I didn’t even know this till I went through the Cosmosphere, which considering how much I read is amazing, but the soviets had nothing. THEY HAD NOTHING. In the fifties and sixties, when Heinlein was worried about nuclear war, in the seventies, when we were sure we were falling behind, what they had was mostly very long metal tubes, which they drove around the country to give the impression that they had missiles.

What do they have now? I don’t know. Do you? But one thing I know for sure: it’s in their best interest to pretend to have more than they have, and to have it in good shape. And as is, they’re not being incredibly convincing.

And why did our intelligence believe it? Well, now. Of course, more threat from the enemy meant more funding for our intelligence services. It meant more power to them and their masters. Why blow the illusion.

And that is part of it. I was talking to a friend today and he said pretty much everything is broken. All our institutions, all our professions, all our interactions. They’re all broken.

Now to some extent all human society is always broken. We’re not like unto gods, acting perfectly. Of course we’re not.

But it’s also that the more centralized something is, the less it works. And anything that tries to control a large area is just screwing up by the numbers. And any agency, any government body that gets paid to find threats, will find threats. If they have to create them themselves.

What I said above, about the 20th century being a play to keep the masses quiescent. Sure. but it wasn’t a centrally coordinated conspiracy.

It was more that when the idea that governments should be centralized, that EVERYTHING was more efficient centralized and standardized, had taken control, what followed was inevitable. Because once you create bodies to pretend to control everything, they will. They will also try to increase their control. And if it kills people, so be it. It’s for law and order or something.

This nonsense started with the industrial revolution and the idea if centralized production of widgets was better, then governing humans like widgets was just the ticket.

Only it doesn’t work. It’s never worked. It kept failing, and every time it failed, it grabbed more power to hide the failure.

Wars between powers? Well, they do help keep the population quiet don’t they? Not to mention getting rid of young men, that troublesome demographic. And also allows the central government to squelch dissent. You wouldn’t want to aid the enemy, would you?

Round and round it goes, growing and growing, and less and less capable of doing anything properly every time.

Till now.

Now most centralized governments competencies are two: killing their own people and stealing money. (Not saying that some people don’t try to do good work, and that some isolated institutions/professions/disciplines don’t work. A lot of us are still trying to do good work while engulfed by morass. And a lot even work for government, which keeps grabbing more and more areas, anyway. What I’m saying is that it’s not only not the best way to do things, but it’s actively counterproductive.)

But there are so many people whose livelihood depends on the big centralized institutions and industries. And they’re fighting tooth and nail to survive; to have the institution survive.

Only… Only there’s so far you can run before everything is not just broken, but visibly so.

And we’re there.

The system is broken and can’t function.

What comes next, no one knows. Nor what the crash will look like, except there’s a good chance it will be first very slow, then very fast.

But all we can do is be aware of what the situation really is: not the destruction of some ideal system, but at worst the destruction of the patches to “centralize everything” applied during the long wars of the twentieth century.

Systems that never worked that well, but could pretend they did.

It’s up to us to build better. We’ll never build perfect. But let’s try to make what comes next scaled to the individual and local.

At least when we fail it will be small crashes.

Shoulder to the wheel. Let’s make what comes next better.

270 thoughts on “Ghosts

  1. The Soviets also had a lot of tanks. A lot of tanks. And their early Cold War tank – the T-54/55 – was considered quite good. We knew this because one was dropped off at the British Embassy in Budapest during the Hungarian Uprising. So the British got a chance to take it apart and get a good look at it before handing it back to the Soviets. And then the British and American tanks of the era were immediately upgunned.

    The T-72 was proven to be a joke in comparison to the modern MBT during the First Gulf War. But my understanding is that all four(!) Pattons were more or less equivalent to their Soviet counterparts of their respective eras (and there were plenty of T-62s to examine after the Yom Kippur War, courtesy of the Israelis). It wasn’t until the development cycle that produced the Abrams, Leopard 2, and Challenger that Western tanks pulled markedly ahead of their Soviet counterparts.

    1. Yes the Russians have lots of T-54s. As they are demonstrating by pulling them out of storage and sending them to Ukraine. ( The Reader suspects that this is due to 2 factors. First, since their modern tanks have shown themselves to be vulnerable to Western anti-tank munitions, why not use masses of old ones. Second, the Reader suspects they are preserving the bulk of their remaining new ones for defending against their ‘friends’ the Chinese.

      1. About a month ago, I read an article that discussed barrel fouling on T-72s in Ukraine. Assuming that the article was accurate, the Russian tanks are firing a much higher than anticipated number of high explosive shells. These foul the barrel much more than anti-tank rounds do (and more than happens to their Western counterparts). To resolve this, maintenance needs to be performed on the barrel… and there is exactly one facility in Russia capable of carrying out the needed maintenance.

        Take that with a grain of salt, but….

        As for the older tanks, a Panzer III might as well be an M1 Abrams if you don’t have tanks of your own. In that regard, T-55s are fine for the Russians.

  2. Spain would have invaded if Portugal weren’t neutral? [Puzzled]

    Spain was also (technically) neutral during WW2.

    Franco played “friendly neutral toward Germany” but Spain wasn’t in good shape at that time and couldn’t afford to be Germany’s Enemy.

    Germany had defeated every body it fought (prior to invading Russia), Franco knew the shape of his military so why would he anger Germany?

    Of course, what people tell children may not reflect reality.

    1. …and what people now know with the evidence of the years may have only passing resemblance to what the critical mass of the populace believed at the time. See: what the mass of the populace thought about those stupid cloth masks in 2020/2021 versus reality that was obvious to the outliers.

    2. Well… according to the map, if Portugal hadn’t been neutral, then everyone (except England) would have had to go through Spain to get to Portugal to fight.

      Which gives Spain incentive to keep Portugal neutral by any means necessary.

      1. Nod.

        It could be argued that Germany would have tried to push Spain into taking action against Portugal if Portugal had allied with Britian.

        But Germany also attempted to force Spain to attack the British at Gibraltar and Spain also refused to allow German troops to pass though Spain in order to attack the British at Gibraltar.

        Franco may have been a dictator but he wasn’t stupid. 😉

        1. FWIW, definitely smarter than Mussolini or Bonaparte when it came to “when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, when to walk away, when to run.”

        2. He made a few pro-Axis speeches. He provided more to the Allies once it was clear the tide was in their favor.

          1. Chuckle Chuckle

            Apparently, Franco’s actions & lack of actions really pissed off Hitler.

            A few pro-Axis speeches weren’t enough to get Franco into Hitler’s “Good Graces”.

            As has been said, Franco was Pro-Spain and wouldn’t IMO take any actions that meant Hitler would invade Spain as long as Germany could be seen as more powerful than the Allies.

            Churchill was of the opinion that if Spain had joined with Hitler, England would have been in major trouble and apparently was graceful toward Franco for keeping Spain out of WW2.

            1. He got what he wanted out of Hitler and didn’t care about his good graces. . .

              1. Well yes, that’s true.

                But to imply that Franco should have “turned against Hitler” earlier is to ignore the situation that Franco faced after France fell.

                Germany controlled most of Europe and Franco’s Spain had been hurt badly by the Civil War.

                IMO Franco couldn’t afford to make Germany an open enemy and likely couldn’t afford to strongly join Germany’s war.

    3. Franco appears to have very much wanted to stay out of the war. He allowed a division of volunteers to join the German war effort (the Azul division; they ended up on the Eastern Front), but from what I’ve read was glad to get rid of those who left to go fight.

      1. Oh yes, the Azul division was very fanatical Fascists and Franco was glad to get rid of them.

        Oh, I’ve heard that the Germans thought very highly of the Azul as fighting men.

        1. After the revolution the first thing to go is the revolutionaries. Because dear leader doesn’t need the competition and after the revolution you need rulers, not revolutionaries. Why Castro set Che to Peru to die. History is replete with just such actions by leaders not just communists. After Japan was consolidated under one ruler the first time the new ruler took most of his Samurai and sent them on an invasion of Korea, a failed invasion that killed off most of the Samurai’s along with most of the competition against him.

          1. Ion Antonescu in Romania found out what happens when you don’t get rid of the revolutionaries. In September 1940, the fascist Iron Guard helped Antonescu take power, and he brought them into the government. In January 1941 – just three months later – they rose up against him. He was able to quickly suppress them with the army, so it eventually came to nothing except to get the members of the fascist paramilitary organization in Romania thrown in prison. That’s a good thing, though not the outcome that the Legionnaires had envisioned when they started their rebellion…

      2. He supposedly got chummy with Admiral Canaris (later known for sending intel to the British during WWII) when the latter was some kind of German diplomatic envoy to Spain. Whether it was a case of two like-minded guys thinking Hitler would be a losing proposition in the long term, or the Admiral convinced the Generalissimo of that, who knows.

        1. I’ve heard from various sources that Franco was more interested in stopping the communists than actual fascism. As such, he wouldn’t have been interested in the ideological crusade that Hitler and Mussolini were involved in. And Spain, afaik, had no grand ambitions of conquest – again, unlike Hitler and Mussolini. As such, there was no reason for Spain to join the war.

          1. Nod.

            Franco joined the Spanish Fascist Party ONLY BECAUSE all Spanish Officers had to be associated with a Political Party at that time.

            Oh George Orwell joined one of the Anti-Fascist Groups fighting in the Spanish Civil War (one of the Anarchist Groups).

            He wrote about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War and not surprising to most here, he hated the Communists especially after the Communists “made war” against any group that wasn’t Leftish Enough (including the group he had joined).

            IE The Spanish Communists were more interested in “fighting their allies” than fighting the so-called Fascists.

            There were plenty of Spanish groups (not just fascists) who opposed the Leftish Spanish Government.

            1. Not to forget Hemingway and other americans who also joined the Communists in the fight against Franco. What was it the Abraham Lincoln Brigade? As if Lincoln would have been Communist in the first place. Spain was were Germany tested out their air-power and other weapons and tactics they would use in WWII. They also kept a large intelligence network in Spain, It is why they dropped the body off the coast of Spain for Operation Mincemeat, they knew the Germans would get the false information on the invasion of Greece.

            2. Orwell was quite convinced that the Revolution! had occurred. It never occurred to him that the Revolution! meant that the Republic was no more legitimate than Franco: both had seized power by force and had to establish themselves to have a legitimate claim.

          1. Generalissimo was a pretentious title meaning “highest general.” (It is funny and tempting to read it as “mostest general” or “general with the mostest”.)

            1. Generalissimo: Five Stars – would suppress revolution here again.
              But I think the trip-up was over the name Canaris.
              Too bad he was an admiral and not a major – we could have had Canaris Major and his son, Canaris Minor.

              1. Heh, Canaris Major and Minor would be funny. I hadn’t picked up on the resemblance to carne, because his name just makes me think of Tweety Bird 🙂

        1. It wasn’t even that cruel.

          The Spanish who went to fight with the Nazis… well, maybe they’d learn something, maybe they’d die, and maybe they’d be in good with the Nazis for Spain if the Nazis won.

          In any case, they wouldn’t be Franco’s problem for a long long time, at a point when he didn’t really need fanatical people jiggling his elbow.

          1. Basically, Franco wasn’t a nice guy, and not exactly a good guy. But he didn’t actively try to make things worse, once he took power, although he surely did kill a lot of Commies. (Mostly because they’d already killed every monk, nun, priest, and wrong kind of leftist, etc. that they could.)

            Kind of a Catholic/Spanish version of Cromwell, without nearly as much body count.

            (Estimates of Irish deaths between 1649-1652, when the population at most was about a million or 1.4 million, are that 10 to 15 percent of the population died, possibly a lot more. Some of them may have been transported out of the country and into slavery, though. Spain’s population in the 1920’s was over 47 million, so even the really high estimates of Spanish Civil War deaths are not nearly as high a percentage.)

            1. body count

              I very, very carefully stopped looking at Post Henry stuff when I suddenly realizedwhere it was heading.

              I can deal with Post WWII Japan. I can sort of deal with Germany. I’m not sure I can deal with worse than Hitler England.

              1. Well, it is hard to say. Cromwell’s kill count was bad… But I think famine and disease did in a lot more people than were killed outright.

                Medieval Ireland had a serious food storage problem. A lot of their food was stored in the form of cows, and grain had to be made into things or planted. Lots of things molded, like hay. If you were lucky, you had some winter crops too.

                Cromwell and his crew meant to do damage and kill people and give no quarter, and kill any soldier captured, and any priest or monk.

                But I don’t think they realized that they would depopulate certain areas to the point that wolves were roaming city streets, and they had to institute a giant wolf bounty killing program. Oops.

                So basically we are talking Hundred Years War levels of death, not Hitler or Mao or Stalin levels of death. Smaller country and population, percentage high but numbers not as high; but still pretty bad.

                And a lot of people may have fled and gotten away, which is depopulation by less bloody methods. (And more temporary in some areas, because people who got away did often drift back.)

                1. But if you didn’t have land anymore (which you could not, if you were Catholic or had had it confiscated), and you weren’t hired to work for Cromwell’s settlers… You could be arrested for having no means of visible support, and then bought by the Bristol merchants to be a sugar slave in the Indies. So that’s where a lot of men, women, boys, and girls went.

                  So people had every reason to sneak off somewhere remote, and lie low; or just plain leave Ireland.

                  Btw, the names for outlaws sneaking around and raiding were rapparee or Tory. That is where the UK political party got its name, or so they say.

              1. No argument there. 😉

                And “old time” Lefties always considered “People who fight Communists” as Fascists. 👿

              2. I wonder is the schism between American leftists and European leftists began in Spain with the experiences of the Americans in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade?

                  1. The entire conflict (and a lot of WWII) can be traced back to an argument over whether Russian “inter”national socialism or German / Italian national socialism would prevail.

                    Both were tied to their respective nations / cultures. Bloods vs Crips.

                    1. I do know that. But you have more drop-bys than you used to, and I keep hearing that lie that communism is different.

                      It’s all the same slavery, and I say Phooey.

                    2. Black fascism or Red fascism, as Heinlein said. It’s all rotted. And all the old slavery sold in the garden by the serpent, too. Evil is startlingly tedious.

                    3. Minor Nit.

                      There was the IDEA of International Socialism until the Soviet Union came into being.

                      After that, “International Socialism” was the Mask used by Russian Nationalism.

                    4. Nod.

                      Benito Mussolini “created” Fascism because he saw that Italian workers were more concerned about Italy than about “Workers Of The World”.

                      And yes, Benito Mussolini started out as a Socialist.

      1. Spain was weird. It was fascist, it helped Germany… but it also helped the UK, the US, and pretty much anybody else who would present an adequate deal.

        So you get pictures of Spain full of all kinds of secret police working with Nazis… which was the sort of thing that happened… and then you get Spain allowing all kinds of secret (or not really even secret) Allied operations and refugee rescues, which torqued off the Nazis no end.

        Spain basically did its own thing, and anyone under any other illusion was doomed to disappointment.

        And they carried on similar things in the 1950’s, by all accounts.

        1. Franco allowed Jews to pass through Spain to safety.

          Of course, Spanish Government long before him had exiled Jews from Spain so Franco could rightly say to Hitler there’s no Jews here. 😉

        2. Spain … was a special case, I have always believed. Franco took aid from Nazi Germany, and fascist Italy in the course of the Spanish Civil War, because he needed it, and the Soviets were backing his opponents in a big way (as well as sucking in every idiot Western prog/anti-fascist to go and get themselves slaughtered) … but he was first and foremost a patriotic Spaniard, a devout Catholic and a professional military commander. He took Mussolini and Hitler for what they could give him, then stood back when WWII began, and replied upon being invited to side with the Axis when the war began, ‘no, thanks, guys – we’re still sorting out the aftermath of our own war. You boys run along and don’t mind us. We’re fine.’
          Supposedly, Franco had one face to face meeting with Hitler – and I suspect Franco came away from it having correctly read Hitler as a military naïf and ignoramus with delusions of adequacy. Contemporary thought during the war accepted that Franco could have-would-have-maybe wanted to join the Axis, but I believe that Franco himself knew much, much better. Later on, the US/UK and the other allies were quietly grateful for Spain staying neutural.

          1. Somewhere I read that the Face-To-Face between Franco and Hitler happened with Franco coming back with the opinion you mentioned and apparently Franco did the twin deeds of making Hitler nervous and convincing Hitler to “not make an enemy of Franco”.

            Oh, one thing about the help Franco got from Germany & Italy compared to the help that the Spanish Government got from the Soviet Union, Stalin made Spain pay (with Spanish gold) for all the help they got but the help Franco got was “loans that he would have to repay”.

            IE Germany & Italy had to hope Franco won because otherwise Spain wouldn’t pay the loans off. While Stalin got Spanish gold win or lose. 😈

            1. In 1953, to stop sanctions against Spain in place since 1945 and to stick it once again to the Russians, Franco Leased the US Government the base at Rota Spain.

              1. The Reader remembers that the relationship between Spain and the US in the 60s was very close. Rota was a major naval base, Torrejon Air Force base had the longest runway in Europe and was used for US nuclear capable aircraft, port access was available to the US Navy at several Spanish Mediterranean ports and the country housed a range of other US military facilities including this one ( which is the reason the Reader is familiar with all this. The Reader’s father led the Westinghouse team that installed the FRT-10 and got it running. The Reader was there for 18 months in 1964 – 1965 and visited most of the US military facilities in Spain. Keep in mind that all this was done while Spain was not a member of NATO (they didn’t join until 1986). During the time period we were there Americans were far more popular than folks from other European countries.

            2. Mark Axeworthy (who wrote what is probably still the only English-language book on Romania in World War 2) wrote that out of all of Hitler’s fellow Axis leaders, Ion Antonescu was the only one that he respected, and that was because Antonescu was a real, bona fide army officer, and had attained that rank before he came to power. Based on Hitler’s glorification of war, I suspect that Hitler’s ideal national leader was a military officer – i.e. someone who had led other men into battle. Antonescu was that. Hitler, as a mere corporal, could never have that.

              If my suspicion is correct, Franco would also have that. If so, it’s not surprising that Hitler might have felt nervous around him.

              Of the other three notable Axis nations in Europe – Mussolini was a draft dodger who subsequently joined the army during WWI and became a corporal like Hitler. Horthy, the leader of Hungary, was an admiral in what subsequently became a land-locked nation at the end of World War I. The Finns had presidents who for the most part were career politicians. Mannerheim, the final president during the war, was a former general, but Finland quit the war not long after he took office.

        3. Sounds more like Spain was caught between a rock and a hard place, and Franco did everything he could to survive. And from the end result, seems pretty successful.

    4. Spain got bribes, mainly food, from both sides in WW2, while not getting involved…very smart tactics on the part of Franco..And when Hitler tried to persuade Franco to enter the war, Franco reportedly said No, you’re going to lose….

    5. Spain was strictly going to maintain neutrality, and of course was not going to invade Portugal, which was even poorer than Spain…
      Franco understood that poor countries can’t afford wars….

      1. Spain has always more or less intended to invade Portugal. Nothing to do with money. Portugal is the one who got away. weirdly, Spain has become culturally powerful in Portugal since EEC.
        Please know something of history before you run your mouth. Obviously Russia doesn’t speak of the relation between Portugal and Spain in your briefings.

        1. Show me some “history” in the last century or two when Spain was planning to invade Portugal…I think I know at least as much history as you do…

          1. Okay, dude. You don’t actually believe in other cultures. Good. Great. Joyous. I do understand Russians have a problem with this, and being the Voice of Russia to the blog, you do too. Also, like a good Materialist Dialecticist you think only in terms of “Wealth” not land, and acquiring influence.
            Okay, play this for size:
            Portugal goes in on the size of the Allies.
            Suddenly Franco’s Spain is ground zero for the confrontation between the Axis and the Free world.
            OR Portugal goes in on the side of the Axis. SUddenly Franco has NO choice.
            Only solution: Franco invades Portugal.
            …. You know more history than I do?
            In Russia you do, troll boy.

            1. What I don’t get is the troll is contradicting someone who was born and raised in Portugal, followed Portugal politics and history, still does (because family is still there) after she emigrated and obtained US citizenship, as an adult. I’d call him an idiot, but I don’t want to insult idiots.

  3. Hum, curiously the WW II years are more real in my memory and the cold war quite ghostly.

    & yep Sarah, in my opinion your friend’s right, everything is broken. Terribly broken. I’m not at all sure enough folks realize this to make any difference.

    How do you boil frogs? Put them in cold water, raise the temperature slowly and they never notice, even when they’re well done. We’ll all in that pot now, I think since the Whiskey Rebellion but most would agree at least since FDR.

    Many if not most, even here consider mandatory seat belts in every car sold is a good thing. The water’s much warmer, mandated pressure sensors in every tire, some commented here noted how by golly that saved the day for them. I suspect we’re well past the boiling point, we’ll drive electric and like it.

    I used transport as an example but gas stoves, incandescent lights, toilet flush volumes, etc., all defined and delimited by those that know best not by us.

    Me, nope not despondent, not black pilled, only occasionally mildly depressed. It is what it is, and I’m quite comfortable following the advice of and, again, quoting Albert Camus; “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

    1. Seat belts in cars is a good thing.
      Helmets for motorcycle riders is a good thing.
      Tire pressure sensors are a good thing.
      More efficient toilets, gas stoves, heaters, AC, are all good things.

      If something is truly a good thing, and of benefit to us, we will tend to adopt them as soon as reasonably possible. Maybe not the year the top car model comes out, but maybe when it comes time to retire the old one and get a new one. The point being, WE make the choice, it is not imposed on us from above, with the full weight of coercion, and the threat of force by the government. Biden is a totalitarian. He and his cabal are not acting in the spirit of America, certainly not as Constitutionalists. Unfortunately, most Democrat voters are too Biden-pilled into the mass dementia to know any better.

      1. If something is truly a good thing, and of benefit to us, we will tend to adopt them as soon as reasonably possible.


        Prove something is a benefit. It will be adopted willingly overtime. Force it on people and there will be resistance.

        1. Yep, yep, yep. Sticking with cars as my example, hydraulic brakes replaced mechanical brakes, electric replaced carbide headlights, starters replaced hand cranks, key starters and solenoid operated starters replaced a pedal on the floor with a very heavy spring behind it, turn signals replaced the left arm out the window in rain and snow… all without mandates.

        2. Mom’s dad had a rant about selling fridges that kept stuff colder, longer, cheaper because the world was ending…..

      2. No offense meant but I think you make my frog argument. The trouble is we did not make most of those choices, they were forced upon us. How many gallons your toilet can use per flush is decided by regulation, not by the marketplace.

        I grew up seat beltless, helmetless, ACless, etc(less), (You remember living in a house with an ice box, not a refrigerator or having a party line phone, or going to a two room school, or in an apartment with DC, not AC current? I I remember such.) and while I don’t fault many of the changes I do think the mandated pot is now above boiling, but few notice the heat.

        If you like/want seat belts, etc., and you choose to buy such, great (I like and appreciate the seat belts in my Jeep but I take mine off when I get off pavement and, most certainly, when driving on river or lake ice.) and I would happily, by choice, pay extra to have such installed. I do argue against mandating such.

        Some of the other “improvements'” though; I, for example, learned to read a tire pressure gauge, many many decades ago and really do not want to pay for sensors in my tires.

        BTW; I do not, as I am sure you know, agree all you noted above are good things (Many, if not most, perhaps are, but…) or that the mandates have provided better, more efficient things. I strongly feel we should be allowed to choose what we want and disagree on such.

        My argument is against the mandates, not the things themselves. Folks letting the government decide if they have seat belts in their cars might (I know this is hard to believe, such is just too outrageous to even imagine) end up someday allowing the government to mandate drag queen story hours in their schools.

        Again, what I’m sayin’; “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

        Thanks Mike, I agree with where you’re coming from and even though we both see things differently, & where you feel we otta go.

        1. TOTALLY UNRELATED!!!!!

          Frog argument.

          Frogs do NOT hang around as the temp slowly rises.

          They die instantly when you pop them in boiling water, and leave if stuff gets uncomfortable otherwise.

          I understand the metaphor.

          It needs to be fixed.

        2. I wouldn’t ever not wear a seat belt. I despise the beeping the car does if I do not get a seat belt on fast enough for it. I agree about not wearing a seat belt in certain situations, just don’t drive in those situations. I Hate the tire sensors. They are a PIA if the rim/tire combination does not match the factory rims and tires. And there is no way to turn off the “Low” warning because the sensors do not fit the new combination. We went out of our way to get a car that has senor warnings of someone in your blind spot, backup cameras, etc. But no way should these features be mandated. Mandated is where I draw the line. There are some features in vehicles or RV’s you get even if not mandated by Government. Those are the features that the dealership auto adds to the order, and there is little one can do about those.

          1. Both* of our Subarus have tire sensors, but they a) have to be third-party mated to the car, and b) only tell me if the pressure is too low. OTOH, I’ve had two small punctures in Subie 2 that the TPMS caught before I did. (Both cases, it was in the sidewall and the tire was totaled. Arggh.) Waggles, hand: I’m lousy at remembering to check the pressure, so a net positive.

            OTOH, the Honda Ridgeline has better sensors. On the rare occasion I put the winter tires on (PITA to put them on, and next-to-impossible if I can’t get the wheels onto the barn floor) the sensors are automagically set. Same on switching back. Better yet, they’ll tell me the pressure on each tire at a glance. That’s a net benefit. Not mandated, either. At least, not yet.

            (*) The ’12 Forester is officially the backup car. Seldom driven (usually less than tens of miles per year), but kept on hand Just In Case.

            1. Tire sensors. Yes, they are a benefit, when working. Have caught sudden deflate, due to nails/screws in my Santa Fe, twice, in time to Go Directly To Schwab Tires. Do not wait. NOW. Son has caught one deflate in action too, in time to get his car to Schwab, on his way home from work. The screw was too close to the rim so he had to replace the tire too. Only he had an unmounted “spare” that I ran down to him. (Couple of Christmas’s ago, he was out shopping when he hit a bad pothole. His tire rim blew. No spare. Got taken to Schwab. He bought the only tire available for his 2020 Veloster N, with more aggressive tread. We ordered the same tire for Christmas so he’d have matching types on the front. This gave him an unmounted spare to store.) So, yes. It is a feature I love.

              Hubby wanted fancy wheels on the ’06 Toyota Tacoma, which meant the senors could not fit. Which meant the dash was always saying the tires were low (sometimes the cheat to turn them off worked, most the time it didn’t). (I still like that truck it was comfortable to drive, and ride when towing. Unfortunately it didn’t give us enough overall towing margin for where we towed.) Thus the comment above.

              Another benefit I think is kind of cool, it the engine off when stopped. Unfortunately this is also a feature that is finicky. It also has a lot of rules of when it will work: Engine can’t be too cold or hot. Must have driver’s seat belt on before starting car. Short drives (which is pretty much all I do) probably won’t trigger it. Only stays off for a minute or so before engine idles again. Few other rules I forget. Let’s just say it is not working, again, on my Santa Fe. And no, I am NOT reporting it. Last time we did. It took 4 months to get the car back. 1) It’s the battery. 2) New battery didn’t work. 3) It is the driver door wire harness. 4) Replaced the car computer because new batteries blew it. Honestly, if they’d just reset the dang computer step 1, it probably would have fixed it. Ironically a lot of people complain about this feature and figure out how to bypass without having to remember to bypass every time they start their car.

              I also like the Hyundai Adaptive Cruise Control, and Auto Hold when stopped and in drive. Neither mandated. Note: Subaru does not have the latter (or didn’t).

              1. The adaptive cruise control in the Reader’s 21 F-150 is a POS. Why? Because when it accelerates it hits the turbo on the engine hard enough to lower the highway gas mileage 2 – 3 mpg. Every time it needs to accelerate, even a little, you hear the gentle whine of the turbo. Whereas the Reader can drive in the same conditions, keep proper station in traffic, and never kick the turbo in. That noted, it is one of the few things I don’t like about the vehicle. We wouldn’t use it at all except the Reader’s better half needs it on long drives due to knee problems.

                1. We use the adaptive cruise control on open highway. Don’t pay attention to the MPG change. Also tend to use it when Beltline is really bad stop/go. One change from when originally purchased current vehicle, before when fully stopped, there was a jerk. Now requires manual pressure on gas petal, so no more jerking, and more gentle acceleration. I too take off the adaptive cruise control when traffic is not full on stop/go. I can keep better control.

              2. The adaptive cruise control on the Subie (the ’16, AKA Subie II) will do a hold at the light if a) it’s on when I hit the light, and b) somebody’s in front. Since it turns off the ACC with braking, I have to turn it back on. The feature is finicky, so I don’t use it. Never tried such with the Honda.

                The Subie does a great job at keeping speeds on a descent, which makes the 10 mile 5% grade from the OR-140 Cascade pass to the Rogue valley easier to deal with. (Occasionally have to touch brakes or cancel the cruise for a curve, but I can keep it on for a lot of the drop.) There’s a 2 mile 6% drop from Dead Indian Memorial(*) Road to the Klamath Basin that’s also handy with the Subie’s cruise control. The Honda doesn’t seem to have the speed keeping feature, but it hasn’t been over the Cascades yet and the local downslopes aren’t enough to trigger even the Subie’s control.

                (*) It was Dead Indian Road, but after some things were renamed from “Squaw $FEATURE” to $INOFFENSIVE_NAME, the “Memorial” got tacked on. We had one major activist in $TINY_TOWN, though other tribe members ignored it. Still have a store in $TINY_TOWN with the Squaw name, even though the activist lives (lived?) a quarter mile away. Local tribe members still patronize it with no issue. OTOH, there are three local tribes, and They Do Not Get Along.

                1. A couple of years ago we were coming over the mountain into Las Vegas and the truck was shaking like mad. The next day, I climbed in for my fantasy event: all winter and spring I had fantasized having lunch at a casino on the Strip, followed by a massage in a casino spa. Turned out I couldn’t do the massage, but I was going to have that lunch and look around. And the tire warning light came on. “Crap,” I muttered, and got my beloved. Turned out the tread was about to separate.
                  And that is how my fantasy day in Vegas became a trip to Firestone Tire, with lunch at Popeyes. And yes, I’m grateful it didn’t blow on the way into town.

                  1. Not tires but we have a similar tale of truck problems and we were dang lucky too. We were on I-80 south eventually through Salt Lake, then east to Arches NP. Pulled into rest area, put ’82 truck into park, turned off engine. Loud backfire. Got ready to pull out, put in reverse. CLUNK. Um. Not good? Put back into park, then into reverse, etc. Drives and auto shift seems fine. Head on down the road. Stop in Salt Lake, call BIL who is a mechanic (it is midnight) no answer. Head on down the road. Then a dang pheasant comes out of the medium, now we have a broken left front grill, and headlight to adjust. Finally stopped for the night at an 24/7 gas station at the off ramp for the road to the park (well after going down the road and seeing a large herd of deer in the headlights on both sides of the highway (trouble comes in 3’s, right?) Sunday finally got through to BIL. Quote “go immediately to mechanic, first thing Monday” (Moab has the largest Chevy dealership for 4×4’s). Essentially BIL said we were extremely lucky the transmission didn’t fall apart on a highway curve, at speed. Instead it waited until the mechanics pulled it down to inspect it. Gears shattered immediately.

                    Three days later (took two days to get replacement) we had a replacement installed (at the tune of $1800, in 1984) and we finished our trip. Since winter time, dealership gave us a loaner, and helped us fine a hotel (we were camping in our pickup). Trip wise, one day extra than we’d planned.

              3. I like my Toyota Tacoma. Everyone looks at me weird when they ask why I didn’t get 4wd and I tell them (1) I didn’t need it, and (2) I get way better gas mileage without it. Then they ask me why I didn’t get a full-sized truck, and I smile and tell them (1) I get more than 30% better gas mileage, and (2) I haven’t run into any loads I couldn’t haul with the Tacoma.

                1. We bought a 16′ travel trailer when the 2000 Coleman tent trailer’s roof hit end-of-life. It’s nominally OK to be towed with the Honda Ridgeline, but it’s decidedly not fun. We mainly bought it as emergency/guest housing, so we were not planning on any long trips with it, but an F150 or similar would have towed it more comfortably, and with a bigger gas tank. OTOH, I’m happy with the Honda for everything else. It does fine with the utility trailer.

                  I would have chosen a tent trailer, but we didn’t get one because a) $SPOUSE froze with the Coleman–I had to sleep inboard because of CPAP; the heat didn’t make it to her position at the outside, and b) they weren’t readily available when we bought in August 2020.

                2. When I was looking for trucks last year, used Tacomas were going for significantly more than full-sized trucks, so I bought a Nissan Titan 4WD. I’m very glad I did so, if for no other reason then just for halving the number of dump runs I would need to do with the kitchen renovations. And I have used the 4WD a couple of times: once to back up my sloped driveway after a snow, and once to pull my theoretically-sliding 20′ back fence gate closed.

                  It gets lousy gas mileage, but I don’t really have to drive it all that much. I specifically got 4WD because if the Big One hits and I need to drive up and down a freeway embankment to get around a dropped overpass to either get home or flee to Tierra de Balzacq, I can do it.

                3. The 4×4 crew cab Tacoma had a 150# margin when we were fully loaded (trailer/hitch/pickup w/canopy). The 1500 e-cab Chevy 4×4 had a 1500# margin fully loaded, same setup. We’ve seen a lot of setups where it is obvious that the load capacity was just “a suggestion”. So, the Tacoma was at least wasn’t over specs. But when one is finding highway grades of 8% – 12%? Not enough of a margin.

                4. When we got the Tacoma (and 4×4 is not an option, it is a requirement, even when not off-roading). We didn’t have a trailer. Loved that truck. When we got the trailer, hubby tried to convince himself he could live with the margin. Took two years, before he decided otherwise.

                  1. When we moved here, $SPOUSE had a 2WD Ranger. We immediately traded my year-old Focus (sporty 5 door, sigh) for a bottom-end 4WD Silverado. The Ranger was parked all winter, and there were times when I needed studded snow tires, 4WD and a running start to get the Chevy up the (icy, north facing) apron into the garage.

                    Every road vehicle is AWD for us now, and the utility tractor is, too. The garden tractor, nope, but it doesn’t have to deal with snow. Lucky beast.

                    1. Now that we aren’t towing or participating in scouts, AWD works for us (with backup of chains). Not low 4×4 option, but better than even front wheel alone. Yes, there were plenty of trips that 4×4 for scouts were preferred. That was when both hubby and I drove (3/4 pickup 4×4 and Dodge Durango 4×4). Normally we’d just ask “hauling or seat belts?” for which rig. Camp Murnane, locally. A step climb out of a small valley. I guess one district had spring camporee, sometime in the last few years. I understand they had a huge mess getting everyone out Sunday. It rained hard (not unusual) turning the only road into muck.

            2. The tire sensors have little batteries that eventually go dead, and to replace them you have to take the tires off the rims at a labor expense far greater than the cost of new valve stems/sensors. That’s why my low pressure light is permanently on: when I bought my truck last year and had to get some work done on it, the mechanic told me how much it would cost to fix the pressure thing and recommended I just live with it until I need to replace my tires.

              1. We swapped tires in Subie 1 when they got to 10 years old (general principles; don’t like to depend on 10 year old tires, even if low mileage), and we had the batteries replaced then. The Subaru sensors don’t switch on until the tires rotate fast enough (for installation/mating, a magnet triggers the switch), so sitting unused has very little drain. The Honda is 3.5 years old, and the batteries seem to be OK so far. Not sure when they’ll die. I assume the sensors are in a sleep mode until the truck is moving or the vehicle queries the sensors. I’m assuming the Honda people know what they’re doing. Usually seems to be valid.

                A few of the local drivers have two sets of tires but one set of rims and have the tire shops to the swap. More common is to have cheap winter rims. Both of the Subarus have studded snow tires on steel winter rims, and no sensor. The Honda has non-studded winter tires on alloy rims, and with a set of sensors. I just ignore the light on the Subaru in winter.

        3. The whole problem is that the people making decisions in a centralized government usually have no skin in the game…and nowadays are often extremely corrupt, as we have seen during the plandemic…That’s why the US was much more prosperous during the era of small government, and why the centrally planned Soviet Union inevitably failed…

      3. Interesting, to me at least, all these safety devices — seatbelts, helmets and such — dramatically reduced the number of injuries, for a time, after adoption. After a certain amount of time had passed, the number of deaths increased until they reached more or less where they were before adoption. Why? People started driving faster.

        The DOT report on motorcycle helmet use is fascinating since they accurately reported the increase in deaths, but they lied, characteristically, in the headline report about where the increase happened. Overall US deaths went back to where they were prior to helmet laws, deaths in states with no helmets remained the same. Deaths in helmet law states went up and stayed up,

        One could conclude that belts, helmets, and especially anti lock brakes, cause increased deaths because they cause people to drive significantly faster than they would do. Minor injuries go down but deaths tend to go up.

        Humans are funny that way. It’s almost as though risk tolerance is sticky

        1. Are you sure?

          Because I know from a totally different angle of data that “vehicle deaths” had to start including jaywalkers to make up for folks not dying in cars– to the point that “idiots walking infront of cars while drunk” was a big chunk of intoxication vehicular deaths.

          If nothing else, the change in delta here would be super useful.

          1. I’m referring ,from memory, mostly to figures quoted in John Adams’s Risk published by Routledge in 1995.. You can get it free online at his website. It’s in the top 10 of books that really improved my professional life. it’s easy reading and would likely answer everything that’s come up here on this topic today. It’s data rich and well footnoted so you can confirm for yourself.

            It leads to the cultural theory of risk, which leads to the differences between individualists, authoritarians, and communitarians, which all tend to center around attitudes toward change. Communitarians want no change, authoritarians believe in experts, and individualist determine it for themselves. there’s also the poor schlubs that things happen to. The only real weakness in the theory is they don’t talk about psychopaths..

            Not quite enough to redeem sociology as a disciple, but still one of the few pieces of sociology to be worth a read, I love it. Finding out about the DOT flat out lying about motorcycle helmets was a highlight.

            1. mostly to figures quoted in John Adams’s Risk published by Routledge in 1995..

              Dude, you rock the socks off with giving me a DECADE, much less anything else.

            2. “Authoritarians believe in experts.”
              Hence all the, “I believe in Science!” types.

              1. Just so.

                Mary Douglas is the key thinker. She was whitewashed out of sociology first for being a woman — no one is more sexist, racist, etc., than a lefty — and later for accurately identifying the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Greenham Common campers were simply afraid of difference and change, Being critical of the CND in any way was professional suicide.

                I’ve meant to write a guest post on this for a long time, but, if ifs and ands were pots and pans, there’d be no need for tinkers.

              2. What they say: “I believe in Science!”

                What they really mean: “I believe in some asshole pretending to be a Scientist, telling me what I want to hear!”

                Never, never confuse such individuals by using actual science to determine what is true, and what is not. The purpose of Science! is to confirm their prejudices.

            1. with limited because AGAIN I AM CHEAP it looks like conflation of folks who don’t do do belts wiht actual safety.

              which I really support, just not from his angle. mine is culture of safety. The Drunk Driving Shows Masculine Strength doesn’t care about belts.

              1. I guess I have no “masculine strength” because I religiously use seat belts. I have been in a car accident where my sister and grandmother were killed because they were thrown from the car and smashed like little rag dolls. On the other hand, that kind of “masculine strength” is the same strength that drives “hold my beer” behavior. And neither is particularly survival oriented.

        2. Interesting insight.

          I wonder though if part of it is we learn from minor accidents, minor injuries. Without those lessons we perhaps lack the skills to avoid the deadly ones.

          Off on a tangent; I believe a risk free society is not and cannot be a free society.

          1. Risk takers took leaky wooden boats 3000 miles to settle America, and a fair number died in the process…likewise the movement West…Lindbergh’s flight was anything but safe…etc…We are a nation of risk takers, or were….

        3. What I remember is the addition of seat belts, etc., started coming in vehicles in the ’60s and ’70s, being mandated in ’70s. Well ’70s through ’80s (anyway) was the double nickle (55) mandate. One of the reason I am uncomfortable with driving 70+ now (which is a problem in areas where 80MPH is considered a minimum). So the decrease in deaths by the mandates was aided by the mandate of slower speeds. Slower speeds is history (sorry History).

      4. My father paid to have seat belts installed in our 1962 VW Bug long before they were mandatory. We opted to pay extra for side airbags in our 2014 car. Given modern airbags and seat belts, almost any car crash is survivable today. That’s why, when you read about car accidents resulting in deaths today, it’s almost always accompanied by the phrase, “thrown from the car.” They don’t bother to say, obviously not wearing seat belts the suicidal doofuses. Why? Because they want to convince you things are more dangerous than they are, or, they think, you’d be even more reckless.

        1. Some cars in the eighties and even into the 90’s had automatic seat-belts hooked to the doors. When the doors came open in a crash the seat-belt was useless. Other early seat-belts did little but force your head into the dash or steering wheel. Let’s also not forget all the children killed by front seat airbags. Nothing is perfect, and again, I don’t believe most of what government says, please review death statistics from Covid, There was a reason gun shot victims were listed as covid deaths in some places. Hospitals had to pay for all those illegals and their healthcare some how, because they don’t pay.

        2. Cars used to be deathtraps. We drove carefully because this was known, and gory examples were occasionally made by stupid people.

          Then we mandated safety. Result, Folks sped up. They drive distracted. They adjusted their behavior back to their risk perception and tolerance.

          Note that much of the “safety” features amount to rent-seeking. Someone has to pay for those one-crash seatbet tensioned gadgets, crumpled-zones and fired airbags. Contrast with the atrophy of real “bumpers”, which used to prevent significant damage. Now, “bumpers” are $3000 sacrifices to the parts sellers.

          And the “fuel economy” bull crap keeps resetting the zero by forcing weight shaving.

          And now we have sixty thousand dollar electrics that get totaled after 10-15 mph bumps, as the batteries can’t even be inspected properly. That 10-15 mph bang used to be fixed by a decent mechanic dismounting the bumper and hammering it back into shape, and maybe replacing a crush able mount part.

          Cops get real bumpers in those ram cage “grill protectors” they use for PIT maneuvers.

    2. My grandmother, small town girl, married into a New York Sicilian family.

      For a few years they lived with his family in NYC.

      The story goes that one day my great grandfather brought home a bag of snails and told her to cook them for dinner.

      Grandpa walked in the kitchen and she was standing over the stove, shoving all the snails back in the water as they crawled out.

      He put the lid on.

      We are currently seeing a massive surge of snails trying to escape a system which was made to be escape proof. Except that somebody forgot to put the lid on. TPTB must bring the outliers back under their control or their dinner is in jeopardy.

      1. Re; frog boiling, on the yea side, Heinzmann 1872, Studies From The Biological Laboratory, William Sedgwick, 1888. On the nay side, Melton, at Harvard, agrees with you. I suspect it may, or may not be true regarding frogs, however though I’m unwilling to test the hypothesis I accept the metaphor.

        I think we-wise, it has been a very slow boil but I don’t deny the frantic grabs you note as well.

        1. seems to be irreproducible.
          Also, nah, no slow boil. It’s not been planned. it’s all frantic grabs. Which is why they’ve lost plenty of ground too. Look at guns.

            1. We have a new euphemism here in Tennessee – the martyred “Tennessee Three,” are being joined by mayor’s to demand, “gun reform.” One even brought a tiny coffin to the floor of the assembly.
              (Spits). (For Sarah, W!P!D!E!)

          1. I could probably do a frog study, but I’d have to do it without telling anyone first, and not disclose where to the PETAphiles. The ecofreaks would freak over dropping live frogs in boiling water, or slow cooking them to death.

        2. Re; frog boiling, on the yea side, Heinzmann 1872, Studies From The Biological Laboratory, William Sedgwick, 1888.
          I believe that is the “brain the frogs” study.

          Which really ruins the metaphor.

        3. it has been a very slow boil


          Because from what I can see there was a massive very fast boil about a century ago, and at various other times at a smaller scale. But mostly the water has been cooling, and in recent decades the cooling has accelerated.

    3. “mandated pressure sensors in every tire, some commented here noted how by golly that saved the day for them”

      Funny, every time I encounter tire pressure sensors, they’re always malfunctioning, and we’re constantly paying to have them replaced (every time the fig gets new tires) or have them calibrated (every time the fig come in from being abused by field crews.)

  4. This nonsense started with the industrial revolution and the idea if centralized production of widgets was better, then governing humans like widgets was just the ticket.

    Thomas Sowell, in “Basic Economics” goes into economies of scale–where something goes more efficiently when it’s larger than when it’s smaller. Many factors don’t scale up with increasing size. That’s why making two or three of most things costs more, per unit, than making thousands of them.

    Flip side, however, is that there are also diseconomies of scale. At some point things get too big, where making things yet larger and more expansive makes them less efficient. This varies from product to product–some “peak” at lower volumes, others at higher–and with the “state of the art” available.

    The things is, government, by its very nature, is on the far side of that peak. A long, long way on the far side of that peak. And so, attempts to make government more expansive end up making whatever is included in it less economically efficient.

    Basic economics.

      1. Never forget one of the prime reasons for growing government is to provide jobs for their and their patrons children. Children entirely too stupid and privileged to find employment on their own. These morons who went to the right schools and studied the equivalent of basket weaving for Marxists, are the idiots passing all those new regulations we are harnessed with. I give you the woke moron who just cost Bud Light and Budweiser roughly six billion dollars as an example. If you look back at her pedigree I am sure you will find a politician or a politicians donor.

        1. Has that idiot been fired yet? I’m guessing not. Being a woketard means never having to say you’re sorry.

    1. I think you are on the right track. I would say the central problem is that the risk goes up faster than the efficiency. A bunch of small factories will cost more and have lower efficiency than a big factory – but only in the short term. Eventually something bad happens. Then you get either 1) some small factories fail but lots of them survive, or 2) the one big factory fails taking the entire industry down. It is inevitable that a centralized system will eventually fail when shocked because it is an all or nothing setup.

      1. There’s a reason for the term “single point of failure”…. and you’re supposed to avoid it.

    2. “That’s why making two or three of most things costs more, per unit, than making thousands of them.”

      This is why I don’t get too bent out of shape about “$500 toilet seat” stories out of the military. Okay, so we need a toilet seat for a submarine (made-up story). It has to be damn near indestructible, it can’t weigh more than X grams, it has to be exactly Y by Z in size (not a commercial size, mind you), and it cannot ever ever ever make any noise. Oh, and we need two. And then maybe another one in five years. And another one five years after that. So of course the damn things are going to be basically hand crafted.

      1. And of course, when costing out the sub, they aren’t going to specify all the components because classified. So they just divide things out by # components, so that the nuclear fuel rod and the toilet now cost the same on paper.

  5. “Government! Three fourths parasitic and the other fourth Stupid fumbling.”
    ― Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

    1. Government at its best attempts to apply discipline to those who never learned or actively spurned self discipline. And government is rarely, if ever, at its best.

      Government in the main is trying to balance a certain amount of thievery with keeping the victims able to produce more stuff which they can then thieve a part (or more likely, most) of it.

      Government at its worst is slavery, banditry, and usury, with a side of crushing torture and the suffocation of all innovation, inspiration, creativity, charity, morality, and joy.

      A population wherein the people govern themselves, first, is best governed by the least amount of power. The more power government has, the less the people have. The less the people have, the worse for them.

      Small government rules. Aspire to government in the smallest dose possible. Have self discipline, and then your eyes open to how undisciplined the average soul is.

      1. Unfortunately, local government doesn’t mean small government. It has been my misfortune to discover that even local governments in the Live Free or Die state are just as prone to piling on as many regulations to restrict people’s freedoms as the worst nations of the world.

        1. “Unfortunately, local government doesn’t mean small government.”

          Pin that on your refrigerator, folks, because it’s as true as the ground you walk on. Government is bureaucracy, and bureaucracy exists to grow. Not to manage, govern, or help. To grow. Every little bureaucrat wants to have a bigger desk with more people working under them. They only see the ways to make their job bigger, more impressive, to control ever more of the private citizen’s life.

          Nothing is as eternal as a government program, and nothing so greedy as a bureaucrat with a plan to “help.” This is why governments actively suppress citizens taking responsibility for themselves and make it more onerous for a man to do anything at all on his own.

          Teach your children well. Personal responsibility, courage, strength, and a canny mind will take one far in life, despite all the roadblocks, red tape, and petty bureaucrats.

        2. Yep. Don’t know about other states but here in Alaska one can be charged with Driving Under the Influence if they’re on a riding mower, on their lawn, on their own property, if their blood alcohol is above the legal driving limit.

          I do have to allow though, in or around 1954 my nearest Big City, Fairbanks, did remove from the books the law making it illegal to let your moose walk on the sidewalks (It seems in the early 1900s a guy had a harness trained moose. whose weight did grave damage to the wooden sidewalks.) so it ain’t all bad. 😉

    2. The worst aspect is, the bureaucracies have created an environment in which there is no cost for failure. No matter how bad they f*k up, how many people’s lives they ruin through carelessness, stupidity, or even outright malice, they don’t lose anything. Even if you sue them, and win, the taxpayers are stuck with the bill. So, failure is the order of the day. No effort is required of them, so they make none.
      If a business tries something and it doesn’t work, they either stop doing it or they will go broke. If the government tries something that doesn’t work, they just keep shoveling our money into it forever.

      1. It’s why I’m beginning to believe that the only proper means of dealing with these corruptocrats is document proof of malfeasance, and then summary execution. I forget who it was who said that our form of government would only work if run by moral people. Well, there’s no incentive for moral behavior in our government when the first rule is “Don’t get caught”, the second rule is “Blame it on the other person”, and the third rule is “Blame it on the people.”

        1. There’s this Thomas Jefferson quote:

          Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.

          And this John Adams quote:

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

          Now I disagree with John Adams on this point. Our republic and its Constitution were made for a tolerant people who shared a consensus that government ought to have only limited and enumerated powers.

          Which is why progressives like Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan worked so hard to break the Constitution: They were intolerant (but highly moral and religious!) folk who rejected the limited-government consensus.

  6. I studied under people who were at the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, flew with men who fought in WWII and later conflicts, watched the Looking Glass planes lumbering in and out of their base in Nebraska. The Berlin Wall came down yesterday, or so it feels. My sense of personal time is highly compressed in places, and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s way too far in other places.

    And yes, the post-WWI system is springing leaks all over, flaking paint and rust, and creaking well off the tracks. If all goes tolerably, we’ll learn from the last century’s errors, keep the good stuff that works for us, and a better USA (and freer world) will stand tall again.

  7. I wasn’t around for WW II or the Korean war, but I am slightly older than the Cuban Missile crisis, the Berlin Wall, and Vietnam War. I remember Civil Defense programs, including but not limited to the much ridiculed duck and cover… (no, it wouldn’t protect you from a nuclear fireball, but it might from flying glass) and designated fallout shelters. We didn’t know how much of the Soviet threat was bluff and propaganda, but we knew perfectly well that North Vietnam wasn’t producing its own arms, that East Germany and East Berlin had to post armed guards to keep their own citizens from running away from their socialist paradise and those guards would shoot to kill. Khrushchev was was still in power being belligerent and provocative, proclaiming “History is on our side and we will bury you” Good old fashioned boastful Marxist rhetoric, but coming from a nuclear power, more than a little bit scary. That’s not to say that there wasn’t fearmongering on both sides of the Iron Curtain, but it wasn’t totally irrational. I’m not sure that the people who go around sporting red stars and images of Che Guevara realize that to dedicated communists, red symbolized blood…not their own. Lenin and Stalin had been perfectly willing to butcher their own countrymen in service of their goals, which were avowedly dictatorship, so why not their proclaimed capitalist enemies? Just because they said they were out to get you and had means to try is no reason to be all paranoid?

  8. I remember, more or less, my state of amazement when I realized I was born only 14 years after the end of WWII. It was probably in 1980 which was the 35th anniversary. It was always taught (if it was taught at all; usually American history was taught only up to the Great Depression before the school year ran out) as if it were ancient history when I was in school.

    It’s like the younger generation not having lived through the terror of disco. I was there, man. It was bad. chortle

      1. Professor of Rock has a very good episode on one of the earliest disco hits by the Bee Gees. The Australian guys were unaware of the full meaning of the word “jive,” and had to be enlightened by their local studio musicians.

        The Gibbs, being good songwriters, took this as a cue to improve their song and give it an implied backstory.

        Also, Maurice Gibb has more top ten hits than the Beatles did. Freaky but true.

      2. And here’s the parody “Death to Disco” featuring the refrain “Disco, Disco Sucks”.

    1. :head desk:

      I think I just figured out teh not-biasted angle on “teaching history.”

      ….they’re teaching what they remember as history.

      For context, we BROKE a guy doing exercise at NATTC because for him, Challenger was current events, for us, it was no context history.

      (Was a supposed to be scandalous chant for jogging.)

      1. Exactly. That’s why I stick with the 30 year rule, even though the book goes to 2015. No.

        I have Firm Opinions on some things, and I know they are opinions. Distance and data are both important for historians.

    2. I was verbally grateful to a college professor who explained the Cuban Missile Crisis to us. It was a couple of decades before we were born (and given his age, before he was old enough to really be paying attention), and he was the first history teacher to understand that there was no way we had absorbed this through some weird osmosis.

      And yeah, Great Depression/WWII was the limit before the school year ran out of time. Except for this professor. Warp speed, mid-1600s through Reagan (vaguely, mostly pointing out how he’d won on a platform that was virtually identical to JFKs), and FOUR novels in that semester. This is the professor with the infamous finals with no time limit, with essay questions like “Why Hitler? Why Stalin? Explain the 20th century.” (Mind you, he wouldn’t penalize you for a standard-length essay if it showed clear thinking, but most people couldn’t get away without spending a long time on those questions.)

      Damned fine professor. Died of undiscovered stomach cancer two weeks after finals. 😦

      1. I once took a course on ‘American History, post Civil War’ and it covered from just after the Civil War to maybe just post WWII. Might have been some mention of Korea. And one reason I took the dang course (which I related to instructor) was to finally get some idea of just What The Blue Blazes was going on with the Vietnam thing. Reply was, roughly, “Nobody really knew or knows” which is intensely unsatisfying. Though it might well be true. I did eventually learn at least some of how insane things were, but that was from edited re-runs of Laugh In of all things!

        1. Vietnam was very simple. Johnson wanted a war in order to be an Important Wartime President. Also to enrich various cronies and big donors.

  9. I could not have chosen a better time for therapy. 🙂

    Work. Build. Create.

    No wisdom other than hang on, do as much good as you can, know what you believe and why you believe it. And be ready to shoot to kill when needed.

    Glorious isn’t easy.

        1. I’m just now catching up on the blog and I’m giggling. Really hard. It’s something I’d do only in my case it would be some weird vague sexual reference…

          1. Sometimes me too K. My excuse when such happens (Won’t work for you.) is dirty old men aren’t born you know, we gotta work at it day after day after day!

            & no young lady, I won’t sniff your hair, us dirty old men differ from a certain old dirty man. -grin-

            1. Well, you could be like Asimov’s and become a sensuous dirty old man. (I had that book, somewhere).

            2. Nothing wrong with dirty old men. We just have to find like minded ladies. And half the fun is just seeing who can get the other to blush first.

            3. This is the first thing I read this morning dirty old Jim!

              Made my morning.

    1. Work! Build! Create! Such words of wisdom. You can spend your days hiding in a hole and waiting for the world to end but true happiness is just keep moving – work, build, create! And as you pointed out, keep your powder dry!

  10. Re: nuclear war — Even at the time, I knew that The Day After was a load of horsehockey, and likewise the other one by Carol Amen.

    OTOH, I lived only a few blocks from Wright-Patterson (and still do), so obviously I was doomed to crispy in the event of a first strike when home. And I still remember the all-encompassing cosmic vacuum cleaner noise of SAC bombers going right over my house, when I was very young.

    So, eh. Not really any point worrying about instant sudden death, when tornadoes are much scarier.

    I mean, one is instant death, and the other is danger sky noodles. You might actually be left alive to deal with things!

    1. For the first fifty years of my life, was living in a tertiary target (modulo college years; the Commies would have had to have either really poor aim or had a really good clue as to what some of the research was doing). As a young kid (around 6-8 years old) in the suburbs, most of the dads were WWII vets and it showed. When we moved to a richer town (making us the poor kids in school), it wasn’t very obvious. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, but missed most of the details.

      OTOH, Viet Nam was a real thing, and I rather hoped I wasn’t going to get drafted into that mess. I wasn’t so much anti-war, but was uncertain as to how I would react. (Oldest brother was a REMF in Seoul a year after the Tet offensive, and older brother had a screwed up ankle and 4F rating.) On the gripping hand, once I had a job in semiconductors, I made a bunch of mil-spec ICs.

      1. I knew a fellow who was drafted and considered himself to have pretty much won the lottery when, instead of Vietnam, he was sent to watch the border between Germany.

    2. Does anyone else remember to sound of the cyclon raiders in the original Battlestar Galactica? I thought they sounded like Hoover vacuum cleaners.

      1. Don’t care for the video, but the song itself is okay.

        Now if we could just fix her taste in AMVs… 😛

              1. Not just the impacts. The slashes, the zips, the movements are all well choreographed selections. Even the sound effects and bits of voice are artfully interwoven with the song itself. Of course, I’ve always liked Counting Stars by OneRepublic anyway. Almost impossible to listen to without getting up and dancing to it.

          1. You WILL run out of baby pictures to bribe her with one of these days, Fox. [shakes fist]

  11. Also, maybe Western civilization is only mostly dead.

    And G.K. Chesterton pointed out in The Everlasting Man that Christendom, and Europe, has a habit of dying and coming to life again.

    “….Europe has been turned upside down over and over again; and that at the end of each of these revolutions the same religion has again been found on top. The Faith is always converting the age, not as an old religion but as a new religion.”

    It’s Part II, Chapter 6: The Five Deaths of the Faith. A very encouraging read.

    Obviously it has more meaning for Christians and Catholics specifically; but I think it also applies to Judaism, which has had similar pauses and flourishings, and to all of Western civ.

    Just when things seem darkest, something happens, and everything is different. It’s hard even to remember how things were.

  12. Reality is messy, which is why spontaneous order (free, unobstructed trade) works, is the best system, and is hated by the OCD class and the control freaks.

    1. Please see my comment above about the book Risk by John Adams. I can’t recommend it highly enough and you can get it for nothing on his website. It made a huge difference in my professional life. Not the quantitative side, but the political and influence side. — understanding people’s attitude to change and how to sell either change or stasis to them.

      I think it would provide an excellent framework for a lot of people here to understand the world of the OCD control freaks and the Marxists, and themselves too.

    2. Free Markets are emergent behavior and attempts to suppress such will fail. Some take longer to fail, but in the end, they simply cannot succeed. And “Death with dignity” is for Others. So they go mad – and the worst version of mad, at that. It is genuinely amazing that the USSR’s collapse was not far more violent.

  13. Those guys in the back of the bar in Germany, saying nasty things about the American tourists? It’s entirely likely they’d fought in the German armies.

    I was 17 years old before my dad explained that 1) He had been drafted during Vietnam, and 2) someone had blown up teh freaking officer club while he was there, and this was not a big deal.

    Which ties directly into the “guys muttering int he back had fought in WWII” thing.

    1. I actually worked with a former Nazi soldier. He’d been a Russian POW in WWII and was with a tank division, and that’s about the extent of what anyone knew about his early life.

      Well, that and how he would say that moving to America was the best decision he ever made.

      1. One of our family heirlooms is from a “Nazi.”

        the kid got drafted after my grandfather.

        Like shortly before the war ended.

        He traded artwork for cigs.

        Somewhere is a lovely charcoal of granny and eldest uncle.

        I NEVER bought into “nazis were sub human.” They were human. That is what made it horrible.

  14. But it’s also that the more centralized something is, the less it works. And anything that tries to control a large area is just screwing up by the numbers. And any agency, any government body that gets paid to find threats, will find threats. If they have to create them themselves.

    :combines with knowledge of intel:

    Of course it does.

    That is the purpose.

    The duty lies in the folks who get those reports– remember after 9/11, how we found out that folks had sent up signals that were ignored.

    Their JOB is to be other sensitive.

    The job of the next level up is to THINK.

    1. Aw, but thinking’s hard. Can’t I just have X, Y, or Z instead?

      Taking off my sarcasm hat, got to watch The Winter Soldier yesterday. Yep. Still inspires hope. “The price of freedom is high. It always has been. And it’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, then so be it.”

      “…But I’m willing to bet I’m not.”

      Captain’s orders, people!

            1. That is the shirt I was wearing when the Jojo guy tried to geek check me, and his buddy nearly died laughing because I stated I was more a Fairy Tail type, hadn’t watched all of Naruto (note: nearly insane level) and only knew Jojo from commercials.

              1. I’ve been watching the Fairy Tale vids a couple times a week. With the volume, the question is whether I’ll get through them all, or Crunchyroll discontinues them.

              1. We also do yearly picture calendars, for those of you who are wishing for ways to send pics of the kids to family.

                It costs only a little more than photos.

        1. “Of course Your opinion matters, just not to me”
          “I didn’t hit you I high Fived Your Face”
          Two of my favorite shirts. Yes I am kind of an asshole. I just admit it. I am trying to get better, really, I am.

  15. I hate to sound like the mid century communists — who were saying this for other reasons — but what did WWI actually accomplish? Well, getting rid of young men of a bellicose disposition. WWII also, to an extent.


    Wait, what’s the like hugmongous thing dividing US military and European?

    Bascially, you kill our officers– our old guys, and God Help You?

    Vs EU where “kill the officers and they muck about.”

    No idea what this MEANS but it seems important.

    1. Because you just removed the adult supervision! 😀

      Now you’re left with a bunch of highly trained and motivated, heavily armed young extroverts actively seeking creative ways to ruin your day. Their mantra is ‘Hold my beer!’

      But the Leftroids are trying to destroy that aspect of our military, too.

        1. I recall the comedian quipping he wasn’t afraid in a Big City as everyone was rushing and busy, but out in the country people had time to think and, well now…

    2. Beware the LGoPP – the little group of p-ssed-off paratroopers. A bunch of 20 year old males with weapons, creativity, and no adult supervision!

  16. I was born closer to Pearl Harbor than my six year old grandson was to the Twin Towers. It has taken me a lifetime to learn enough history to have even a limited perspective on the past. I doubt that I could predict what challenges the next couple of generations will deal with. Unfortunately, most of our self appointed “betters” probably have even less understanding than I or most of the people in these comments.

    I don’t want my grandchildren having to abide by rules made up by the clowns in Washington, Brussels, or Beijing. I’m not sure how to put new institutions in place to take over for the current ones that are likely to collapse.

    1. Those ‘institutions’ don’t need to be replaced, they need to be left as piles of rubble. 95% of the government is consumed with s*t it has no business doing in the first place.

      The U.S. feral government is bigger than the governments of the twelve next-biggest countries COMBINED. What we need to do is take a chainsaw to the government and prune off everything not explicitly authorized by the Constitution. Doing that every 10 years would be a capital idea.
      People can make stupid mistakes, but only the government can force everybody to make the SAME stupid mistakes.

      1. Are you assuming that institutions mean government? The institution of marriage has only been coopted by government in the last couple of centuries. The government takeover of education is even more recent. The institution of property ownership has been government administered for a long time, but I would hate to have it evaporate completely and have to protect my property by force of arms on a regular basis.

          1. Any time I’ve been involved in closing on a property it has seemed like a pretty complex institution. Some system of property titles and deeds seems central to any civilized society. I’m not at all clear on how that would be anything other than an institution.

            1. No. There’s customs, but that’s not an institution. Property ownership is just the natural order of things. We’ve found chimps have their own rocks and tools.

            2. “institution” has two meanings. Don’t conflate them. The concept of marriage may be an “institution” but it is not an organization. The church performing the marriage is the “institution” in this sense.

        1. As I have pointed out from time to time: Being able to climb on your roof with a rifle to defend your property from the barbarians is freedom. Having to do so all the time because the barbarians are ubiquitous is not.

  17. Scarey: “You ain’t from around here, are ya boy?

    Heard when I was 19 as I entered a bar 150 yards away from the USAF base I was stationed at. In NY State. In a smallish city several times larger than my home town.

    I took the hint and left without a word. I didn’t want to cause trouble. And my kung fu has always been carp.

  18. I think the communist/socialist disease really took over during the run up to and during the WW I era because of a big Venn diagram of factors-

    1-“Planning during wartime” seemed to work, so why not plan during peacetime?
    2-A combination of factors had made the Established Churches less legitimate in the eyes of most people with the usual fringe cultists managing to get some real traction.
    3-The fall of the classic monarchies and nothing quite really replacing them, causing people to fall back on tribal/ethnic loyalties.
    4-The usual German screw-up of mistaking tactics for strategy, and not having enough of anything to be more than a mid-tier power surrounded by world-class powers.
    5-That many of the “sane and rational” people died in the trenches of France, because they were usually the first ones to volunteer.
    6-Socialism and it’s red-headed stepchildren of communism and fascism offered even easier answers to difficult problems than most Catholic faiths.

    We’ve been dealing with the consequences of these issues ever since. We’re not quite used to an industrialized world-or at least one that is more detached from nature than we have been for the longest period of time.

      1. Agreed. And in England’s case, using Indian and Irish citizens to flesh out their armies while not allowing said soldiers full citizenship.

          1. Well, the Belgians were a bit less genocidal than the Germans in Africa… The British, for all their many faults, did at least build hospitals and schools…

    1. Socialism was a factor in Germany starting with Bismark and the Kaisers Wilhelm I and II. There’s a reason Kipling wrote “An Imperial Rescript” about Wilhelm II right after he became Kaiser.

      “And the young King said: — “I have found it, the road to the rest ye seek:
      The strong shall wait for the weary, the hale shall halt for the weak:
      With the even tramp of an army where no man breaks from the line,
      Ye shall march to peace and plenty in the bond of brotherhood — sign!”

      They passed one resolution: — “Your sub-committee believe
      You can lighten the curse of Adam when you’ve lifted the curse of Eve.
      But till we are built like angels — with hammer and chisel and pen,
      We will work for ourself and a woman, for ever and ever, amen.”

      Now this is the tale of the Council the German Kaiser held —
      The day that they razored the Grindstone, the day that the Cat was belled,
      The day of the Figs from Thistles, the day of the Twisted Sands,
      The day that the laugh of a maiden made light of the Lords of Their Hands.”

      1. And WPDE removed the separator between the first and second stanza, which is actually the ninth stanza.

  19. Good news – Starship got off the launch pad!
    Ahem news – Starship had an, “unexpected disassembly,” before stage separation. That’s their term for it, BTW.
    So it blew up, but it got off the launch pad, which Elon defined as success before the launch.
    Fingers crossed for next time.

    1. The term is “Rapid Unplanned Disassembly”, or RUD. 😛

      Launched successfully, as you noted. It was supposed to flip for stage separation. But it started tumbling, instead, and then blew up… er, experienced an RUD.

      Musk’s subsequent tweet suggests the next test launch will be in a few months.

Comments are closed.