Throwing Darts At Popcorn

Blame this one on Larry Correia, who got exercised over some internet Marxist (TM) which is totally fair.

Unfortunately it hit me with my first cup of coffee when I was vulnerable, and it got me thinking just how stupid that take on entrepreneurship was. I mean Larry hit most of it, but I’ll…. rolls up sleeves… will carry the rest. Because, honestly, you can’t hit internet Marxists ENOUGH.

So, this was the snowflake’s hot take:

And this is so stupid. For one, kindly look around yourself: How many kids of privilege do you see making it big in… well… anything?

Oh, there are some — and yes, sorry, Trump is one of them — upper class kids who manage to make good. I attribute this to good parenting. But most generational wealth goes down a magnitude per generation and is the source of various things like “Shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.” (Most take more than three.)

Actually the smart generational wealth? Just don’t try to be entrepreneurs. They sit pretty on their piles of money and become professional heirs. The money goes down slower that way.

In writing, think about it — have you heard of Agatha Christie’s descendants? I saw Dickens, the other day in an article, for some celebration of him, but that was it.

Are there “heirs” in writing? Sure, but I wouldn’t call them entrepreneurs. Mostly they continue their “ancestors” series. (So do non-blood relatives.) Which is more like inheriting a going concern and being smart enough not to mess it up. (How do you mess it up? Look up sequel to Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, published in the 90s. Or, you know, the fourth of the Earthsea… Oh, wait, that was Ursula, not knowing why the books sold. Never mind.)

And it’s sort of the same in other enterprises. There are heirs that do well by keeping up the good thing, but very few that break out wildly and unexpectedly. A few. Sure. A few. BUT not many.

Most of the people I know from a level of comfort (class is appropriate, sort of, for where I was born and raised but not here) above mine (and yes, my parents were very poor when I was little, but they got better) just sort of…. peter out. They don’t miss a meal. Which in turn makes it “Why bother to struggle?”

Or as Heinlein would say “Never ruin your children by making their life too easy.”

In a way I was lucky I threw all my connections and pull away when I moved here, including my largely useless here but highly respected (in Portugal) degree. I mean, we started out dirt poor (maybe not as poor as Larry, because it wasn’t generational. Parents just had the bad luck to be descended from the kid that didn’t do well.) But my parents saved and scraped and worked their fingers off and tried everything they could try. And learned to invest even though they started out clueless. And my generation, of which I am BY FAR the youngest made good, and went to college, and made contacts. So if I’d stayed in Portugal, I’d probably have coasted. I’d probably have ended up as some kind of UN delegate or working with one of the embassies.

The one good thing about it is that I’d never have had my hands in dish soap.

The bad… Oh, the bad. Well, I wouldn’t be me. And I don’t mean that in the sense of I wouldn’t be who I’m now. I mean, I’d be an NPC going through the script, in my place in the game.

Luckily — and I do mean that — I felt about as comfortable as a fish out of water. So…. well, I fell in love with a foreigner and moved away. Best thing I could ever have done.

Am I better off materially? Oh, probably. Have I achieved more? Undoubtedly.

Glenn Reynolds, who actually comes from a more or less affluent background, years ago, when I met him, at a party, was asked “How did you become instapundit?” and he said “Well, like most important things in my life, more or less by accident.”

Looking at my own life, he’s not wrong. He’s not right either. But he’s not wrong.

Because it’s not quite an accident. He cared enough to start a blog, and he had a vision for excellence. But I’m sure he had other things he did and started, and that was just the one that took off, through being at the right place, at the right time.

There were probably a bunch of things he did also which vanished without a trace.

Look, I’ve talked of this before: it’s not just being rich or poor. That’s crazy Marxist thought. (For definitions of thought.) If you think in terms of rich and poor then the poor have a slight advantage, because they have, again to quote Heinlein, to “root, hog of die.”

BUT most of the poor like most of the rich, just… sit and spin where they were placed.

People keep trying to come up with reasons why the poor don’t all, as one, spring out of poverty. And there are excuses — like the stupid beesting theory — and berating — like they’re just not that hard working — but the fact is most humans, rich or poor just go on along the same track they were put in.

And there’s us…. the few, the broken few. The ones who can’t help pushing. The ones who want something different. The ones who need to try and do.

Broken? Well, hell yes, because think about it. In prehistory, the overachieving bunny who goes out and kills more animals than he’ll eat is just depleting the game game and ensuring the tribe starves next winter. I think that’s instinctively, why normal people hate those who stick out.

But eventually one of those broken people invented smoking meat. And that changed everything. Which is what entrepreneurs do.

For the record, I don’t think of myself as one. I keep trying to retool mentally, since I realized I am one. But for me it was just “Must tell stories. Must find audience.” I’m still confused as to how the blog got here. But it did. And there is posting at instapundit, which sort of still shocks me, even, because– How did it get there.

Though the blog was one of about a hundred side things I tried. Writing was just the one thing I continued to try because that’s my particular insanity. However, there’s art, and crafts and… well, and it all feeds back into the writing.

Which if you read Larry’s post you’ll find is part of it. You try and learn, and try and learn some more. Often led by dire need. (I have said many times, I’d have quit, if baby didn’t need shoes. And food.) Sometimes simply because “Effe this, it’s not working.”

People keep trying different things. And each time you fail, it does make it more likely you’ll succeed. (Provided you’re not failing at the same thing in the same way every time. Because the burned hand teaches. And besides learning what not to do, you pick up abilities, knacks, knowledge, ways of doing things. And all of that makes it more likely you’ll succeed next time. Because you’re a better, improved, more knowledgeable version of you.

The Marxists are wrong. I’ve succeeded (I know, but you should see the other guys) in writing, despite no contacts, no money, beginning with no clue, and writing in my third language. So, you don’t need “privilege” to succeed.

And husband and I started with nothing. We’ve had some help in dire need, from my parents, but not … significant (and mostly for the kids.) Not in the sense you’d think. For one, my parents live in a much poorer country, so they might make sure we had a decent Christmas, but they couldn’t buy us a house. All we have is ours, made by us. And we’re okay. Except for that scary bit when we were moving (And if my brain had been functioning, I’d have realized I was spending more than I could in getting the house ready for sale. In addition to having made some things worse, I swear) we’ve managed. Yeah, sometimes we lived on rice (or pancakes) but we’ve never gone on public assistance. And we’ve managed.

One of the things that makes me relatively confident on the kids’ future is that they seem to have the same bug we have. They keep trying. They sometimes fail upwards, into a completely different thing. Already, they’ve taken kicks to the teeth, and came back stronger and trying something else, harder. So, I think they’ll be okay.
Because you can never give your kids enough materially or enough preparation to know they’ll be all right. But if they’re broken and keep trying, you know they’ll be okay. Maybe no rich. Maybe not star-successful, but okay.

Which brings us back to idiot Marxist. Yeah, success is like throwing darts at a moving target. In pretty much everything. Because success is the intersection of you and the world. And the world gets a VOTE. Like becoming a mega bestseller, you can only control “write a good book” but its finding a market depends on where the world is at at the time, and seemingly random things like “seen by the right person.” (J. K. Rowling is a study in this.) All you can do is write a good book and KEEP TRYING. Which means you’ll succeed at SOME level, but the mega type? Yeah. Moving target.

However, it has zero to do with social class. To go with his analogy, the kids working the carnie have a better chance of hitting the target, because they know things and have seen how things work, so it’s not just chance.

Where he goes wrong is the usual Marxist thing: fixed pie. There’s only one center target and you must HIT what is there. You can’t create more targets, more opportunities and hit those.

Well, I prefer Kevin J. Anderson’s analogy to express the intersection of effort and luck:

Success at least in writing is like popping popcorn.

You can take one kernel, selected for looking perfect. Put it in just the right amount and temperature of oil. And coddle it to popping.

And if it is a dud, you got nothing. And if it’s a good kernel? Well, you’ll have ONE perfect popped kernel. How long will that last you?

Or you can grab a pot about the same size, throw some oil in it, shake a bunch of kernels into it. Put lid on, turn on the gas and listen for the pops.

Sure, some kernels won’t pop. Some will pop halfway and be weird and crunchy. And some will just burn. But you’ll still have a lot of perfect kernels to eat on.

Which is the right analogy for entrepreneurship and market. (Which includes writing.)

Because entrepreneurs create their own “targets”; their own success. Which is why we’re not all competing for three stone tools and some lizard someone caught for dinner.

Most of the people who got very rich created a market that didn’t exist before.

And same goes for books. You write it, and people realize it’s the book they can’t live without. But they didn’t know that before. The target wasn’t there.

And your chances of doing that improve the more things you try, the more things you do, the more things you learn. Which is not limited by how much money you have, or even how many contacts/resources. Larry (and I, for that matter) are living proof of that. It’s limited by nothing but your ability to keep getting up, to keep trying, to try some unlikely things, and to keep going. The opposite of the despondence that stupid Marxist is selling.

Laugh at the Marxists, and go pop some corn.

114 thoughts on “Throwing Darts At Popcorn

  1. The Marxists are wrong because Marxists are always wrong.
    If they get something right, they then use it wrong, or solve the problem wrong , or, or, or. . . .

  2. The poor kinds are the ones working the fair? And thus the only ones consistently making money at it? Not the big money, perhaps, but consistently?

    Like the ones who actually made money during the gold rushes were the pale providing services to the miners.

    1. How very true. Those gold miners could spend like nobody’s business.

      1. It warms the cockles of my heart to imagine gold hunters, some of whom might have gotten the Cherokee moved out of Georgia (gold rush in GA around 1828), buying supplies from Cherokee shopkeepers and farmers on their way through Oklahoma. There’s more than one way to scalp an Anglo (figuratively speaking).

    2. Yup. Services…and goods. Levi Strauss and Sam Colt made fortunes.

      (This fact is one I’m leveraging for the Space Guard universe, if I ever finish the blasted thing. Dr. Jessica Davis might have cracked the quantum teleportation drive, but it was her husband who realized how to make a fortune from it.)

    3. If I remember correctly, the people making more money than the gold miners were the folks mining and producing mercury for gold amalgamation. (Although that was probably more hazardous in the long run than the gold mining.)

      1. The one who made real money was Levi Strauss, selling pants tough enough to take kneeling all day digging or panning for gold without falling apart in a day or two.

        As to your allusion about the hazards, I once met an old man who followed me around talking only semi-coherently. It came out that he had worked in the gold mines in South Africa for years. When he mentioned, “You… you know what they used in the mines, the mines? Quicksilver, quicksilver, that’s what we used,” I began to understand his lack of coherence. The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland was mad because they used to use mercury in the process of making hats.

    4. Thank you!
      When the fracking boom hit, I didn’t invest in the companies that tried to hit the jackpot. I invested in companies that made PIPES for frackers. Because I figured that those companies would make their money upfront, whether the frackers did or not.
      That turned out to be a great strategy.
      Later, when COVID hit, we invested in companies that might benefit from the imposed lockdowns – Roku (made a killing), Michaels Hobby store (ditto).
      You can look for the jackpots, or you can realize that providing services for those starting companies is a good strategy.

  3. As I said on Larry’s post:

    This, “you only get one shot” is utter and complete bullshit. If there’s one thing the US has going for it is that it’s the ultimate “land of second chances? Second? Third, fourth, and moreth (shut, up autocorrupt, that is totally a word.). I grew up poor, broken home, neurodivergent in a time when even professionals didn’t really understand neurodiversity. My first attempt to go to college failed for reasons having nothing to do with academic ability. I ended up with a…less than stellar term in the military (not too bad, got my honorable, just nothing to write home about). Ended up working food service for minimum wage for a while, then finally went to college and finally ended up getting a decent job, a job I’ve had for the past 26 years.

    If I’d given up after that failed first attempt? Yeah, right.

    One thing I’ve noticed about successful entrepreneurs: they tend to have a string of failures behind them. The ones who “succeed” are the ones who keep trying until they do.

    Land of Second Chances: A Blast from the Past Redux.

    1. I’ve been fired twice, first for being wrong, then for being right. Did me no lasting harm, probably a lot of good in fact. The second time made me reassess and reorient my life..

      Sad fact is that many successful entrepreneurs are miserable SOB’s.

    2. Preach it, brother. I’ve filled out enough job applications with no response to know that I don’t look good on paper. I’ve been to enough schools to know that I don’t do well with formalized education. I’ve launched enough attempts at building a business to know that I’m terrible at marketing. I’ve lived in enough places to know that wherever I go, there I am. I’ve been down and out, far enough and often enough to know I can crawl back up and in. When my progress slows to a crawl or a stop, I can pause, take a breather, and either resume, start over, or try something else, depending on what I learned from my last try. The one thing I cannot do is lay down and die. (I’ve even tried that: It’s boring, and as long as I’m not actively trying to hurry the process, it would take too long anyway). I may, someday even yet, blunder across that magic combination of preparation and opportunity.

      1. I’ve never been fired from a job. Always been part of the numbers game. Never stellar enough for the PTB to keep me on. Oh, a manager, or a co-worker go to bat for me, neither with nothing to lose (co-worker was quitting for her own reasons, figured with herself quitting there was then room to keep me on, at least a little longer, she was wrong, just helped the numbers. I appreciated her trying.) I too do not present stellar on paper, or in interviews. Good enough on paper to get regular interviews. For the longest always “second choice”. Even the three jobs I got (after 2nd degree) were a combination of resume, and compensation expectation (well maybe not the 3rd one, but even then salary expectation was half others, being off 17 months salary offer was still 1/3 that … boss was not wrong).

        We too started out with nothing. Started out in debt (to his folks, settled in will probate, his siblings had similar small start out loans). We couldn’t take up our jobs without a small loan to get us there, plus the volunteers (family) who helped us move. My side has had no generational wealth to build on. Do I expect anything when mom passes? Can I say maybe? Depends on whether she goes into assisted living (then hell no, not even with the house). Hubby’s parents, we got a small inheritance (divided by the 4 children). Most of their wealth, some inherited from her father, was eaten by both her father’s assisted living, then hers. Will we leave some to our only child? We think so. We’ve worked toward that. But again, with as long as my side lives, that will probably be eaten, eventually by assisted living (even with the life insurance rider). We are comfortable in our retirement. Depending on whose lens is used, we might be considered “wealthy”. By ours? Not so much. We aren’t poor. But we aren’t wealthy either. Either way. Every penny put away was ours that we saved. Not due to some “lucky lottery win”. (Apparently one has to actually play the lottery to win. Who knew?)

        1. I’ve been laid off, once when Agilent (Spawn of HP) started to get out of semiconductors, and once when the consultancy gig’s customer went bankrupt. Since my skills were on the customer’s hardware, no further jobs, but I was ready for an early retirement.

          Nearly got fired from the consulting gig; made a graveyard humor joke about progress: Cheop’s Law: Everything takes longer and costs more. The customers (I was in Germany with them, while the rest of the team and my boss + boss^2 were on video) didn’t mind–I knew them well enough, but the big boss was appalled. [shrug] OTOH, it was 6 months later when the customer went under. It was a good job while it lasted.

          1. You can read about my long twisting journey through the software business in my work biography “A Geek’s Progress” that was in last Sunday’s promo post. I don’t want to run foul of Dear Hostess’ rules by linking it again. 😉

          2. Numbers game.

            (1) Company at 279 field employees, in 1981, lays off 120 field employees. Only a few got called back. One of which was hubby who was the last one (and only because some above him did not come back). Over 100 of us lost our seniority. Really wasn’t a chance to even think about going back until mid-90s (as in not hired, laid off, loose seniority, again, repeat for a few years) and by then I had my new career going. FYI 1981 wasn’t the first layoff, we were told to expect it for annual for 8 to 10 years. But not That bad. Hubby worked there for 34 years and got laid off every single year. Got down to only 2 to 4 weeks a year, but still.

            (2) Tiny company moves to Portland. Me moving too, not an option. They also let two others go. OTOH this company is how I got my last, and final job. (New boss knew old boss.)

            (3) Another tiny company technically would have let me go about 3 months before I went on maternity leave. Too small to be required to hire back. They went down to one programmer. Who 35 years later is still the only programmer for that company.

            (4) International company sold the division assets, and shutdown all facilities. Either try to get a position with mother company, outside the PNW (not an option), or with one of the two companies purchasing the assets. Division bosses went to bat for me but they “had enough programmers”. Also should have required moving, so also not an option. (Okay. So what was that call 8 months later for a one day consulting gig? I said “no thanks”. Wasn’t risking current new job. And they were insisting on ignoring my free advice.)

            (5) Company got bought out. Okay so far. Company buying goes bankrupt. (Dang it!) That is when one of the other engineers tried to save my job by resigning. Didn’t work. But appreciated.

            (6) Last company. Well it did sell to a company that buys orphaned software firms. But I retired the year before it sold. Not that I would have been out of a job on this one. They were and still are short handed.

            “Go into computers. Learn to Code.” they said. “You’ll have a job for life” they said. Me? “Yea, right” full sarcasm mode.

            1. “Go into computers. Learn to Code.” they said. “You’ll have a job for life” they said. Me? “Yea, right” full sarcasm mode.

              LOL! What they didn’t tell you is that you need to learn a whole new technology stack every 5 years. Yes, I had to relearn how to do my job 7 times. [sarcasm] Of course you could always go into management. [/sarcasm]

              I’ve been a trouble maker my whole life. Of course most of that involves telling the truth and doing the right thing, so, as I said, trouble maker. See above for fake HTML tag that I’ve lobbied over 15 years for. It would certainly help AI be more accurate.

              1. LOL! What they didn’t tell you is that you need to learn a whole new technology stack every 5 years.

                You are 100% correct. For me it was every 6 years, ish. Okay should have been every 5 years. Bit behind when “surprise”. Job #2 had me start getting the second bachelors (paying for it). Job #3 was part time so I could get the degree done. Job #4, given it was timber based, paid for the dislocated worker program so got me seminars so I could “be current”, and did get me job #5.

                Yes, I had to relearn how to do my job 7 times. [sarcasm]

                Understand the sarcasm. Job #6, direct quote from owner/boss “It will take 6 months before you’ll learn the system well enough to do much. Longer to be proficient. He was not “wrong” based on his last hires, most of which didn’t stick around. Me? Proficient within the first month and I didn’t get a computer for 1.5 weeks. And I was 98% cold on the tools they were using and the system itself (I’d had a Pascal class, but never used Delphi). By the time I had to learn Delphi I was already writing extensive code in C/C++/C#, and that doesn’t count Java, Visual Basic, and the other language tools and programming concepts. Of coarse the system, very extensive yes. But heck I actually had others I could go and ask questions if I couldn’t figure it out (and even then it was start explaining and “oops, never mind” rubber duck). The other jobs did not have that. “Just here it is … yours now.” Or brand new programs.

                Of course you could always go into management. [/sarcasm]

                Oh. Hell Heck no.

              2. I used a handful of normal languages in college and beyond, though I never needed nor really learned C++. OTOH, every time I had to deal with a new circuit tester, it was a new experience. Used a couple of Teradynes for digital work. No common code at all. Next job started with machines rolled out 14 years before I hired, and kept for another two decades.

                If I’m counting correctly, I’ve programmed 7 different IC test machines, from 4 vendors. That would have been over 25 years.

                Any programming I do now is with very basic B shell scripts. All I need for the while.

  4. Anyone who thinks one can just spend one’s way to success hasn’t been watching Intel augering in over the last couple of years.

    Apparently no matter how much money you’ve got you can burn it all up really fast chasing pretty rainbows.

  5. Are you trying to get me to write another story, in the middle of a story I’m writing that interrupted a third story to be written?

    That’s what this is, isn’t it. It’s bloody temptation, is what it is. It’s dangling string in front of a kitten.

    grumble grumble cuss cuss

    1. Just remember Brandon Sanderson, who was stuck in a rut trying to finish the second Wax and Wayne novel. So he switched gears and wrote the third novel. And only after he’d finished did he go back and start working on the second novel again.


  6. The marxists believe in their version of determinism. nothing can shake them from it. They were mostly bon eleves and don’t get that you need to be lucky and they certainly don’t understand that most luck is simply being in the right place at the right time. Mostly, you make that luck by getting yourself into that place. As the NY Lottery add had it “ya gotta be innit to winnit”. They believe they deserve to win, but are too timid to do anything about it so they seek status, stability, credentials, and tenure, Then they moan and moan and moan.

    I like your nod toward risk tolerance. Great fortunes are mostly made by taking outsize risks and having them pay off. Everyone talks about Warren Buffet but they tend not to mention that there were a lot of value guys around in the early sixties — my Da was one — and, had the AXP trade not paid off, ole Warren would have gone bust and no one would know who he was. ThAt takes nothing away from him, he’s very smart and has worked very hard for a long time, but lots of guys are smart and lots of guys work hard. Most to bust and we only hear about the winners.

    I don’t have the risk tolerance to make existential bets myself. That’s why I’ll never be rich rich. I’m doomed to be an analyst.

    1. BIL is always bragging how much he makes off his small stock portfolio as a day trader (biggest bulk of their money he has with a broker). He also can lose big. It is a game to him. We manage our own portfolios. We don’t make the “big money”. What we do make is more than we can spend in a year (usually .. this year?) Which long term is going to play havoc with minimum distribution rules. But we have two years to figure that out for hubby’s account, and 7 years for mine. We are pulling money to supplement income when needed (thanks to Biden jackass-in-chief, is every month). Note, the investments are very prudent. No big bets. (Dividend stocks. Sell protected calls; we own the stock. Haven’t lost money on a stock since we started managing our own portfolios. The broker we had before did. Not entirely his fault we were too hands on not giving him enough control. OTOH …)

      1. I’m pretty much the same, though I’m more likely to buy puts than sell covered calls. I don’t sell very often, being allergic to taxes and all. Lots of Vanguard because I’m even more allergic to fees. Lots of big divy payers in the 401k because I like to see the shareholder payouts.

        At the moment I’m heavy bonds and very light equity, some direct, some through LT options. I’m perfectly content to sit this one out, though I did pretty well last year with the puts and will make a killing on the bond calls if the crash I expect comes. If it doesn’t, well I might miss a bump, but I’ve outgrown FOMO.

        One thing to be aware of is buybacks, some are OK, (e.g.,AAPL). Some are just management cycling shareholder money back to themselves. Over a period of years, the book of faces (e.g., they’re not the only one) has issued new shares to management equal to the total buyback, which in turn is the entire Free cash flow of the firm. In any one year it looks fine, you have to lay out 10+ year of 10k’s to find it.

        It’s all corrupt beyond belief.

        1. don’t sell very often, being allergic to taxes

          We don’t have to worry about taxes. Most our money is in IRA’s. Taxes due eventually, but as straight income as it drawn.

    2. “Luck” is usually self-made.

      Some folks are genius-level “bad luck” makers.

      Certainly, shit happens. Some folks say “woe is me” and quit, others say “missed me” and keep going.

      Pace yourself. Never quit. Keep going. Get back up and fight. If you can’t get up, kick their knee out and now you both are roughly even again.

      “Never tell me the odds.”

      Never quit.

      1. Interesting thing about luck. I used to play bridge at lunch with some work colleagues. One was an Eeyore-level pessimist, who seemed to bring himself bad luck and also seemed to enjoy complaining about it so much. (He definitely fit the religions of the worlds “shit happens” paradigm for his group, ie. Why does shit always happen to us? I fit the Catholic end of the group ie, “Shit happens, and it’s your fault!)

        They’ve done several studies on how people who expect to be lucky win skill prizes much more often than those who consider themselves unlucky. One of those self-fulfilling prophecy type things. No, thinking you’re lucky, doesn’t always make you succeed, but it helps.

        1. “One must not ask of a general ‘is he skillful’, rather one must ask ‘is he lucky’.”

          — Cardinal Mazarin, usually attributed to Napoleon

  7. Interesting that you brought up Dame Agatha Christie’s descendants: Who in heck are they, anyway? Never gave it a thought before … but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s heirs provide a top-flight cautionary tale about the dangers of inheritance (for the rest of us, not for the heirs). None of them ever had to work a day, because of the fat royalties and licensing fees from Sherlock Holmes — and it took a judge who meant business before The Great Detective was finally permitted into the public domain — and the Doyle estate is STILL in court, having brought yet another lawsuit in order to keep living off of great-grandfather’s work. The hell with them. Just saying.

    1. Dicken’s family ended up in the Royal Navy. I think his grandson won the DSC in coastal forepces during the war. Funny how it’s still “the war”. Hope it stays that way

    2. Even worse are the sue-happy descendants of musicians and songwriters. They’re making it a major risk to create anything without the backing of a major label (and sometimes even then).

    3. Napoleon Bonaparte’s American grandnephew Charles Bonaparte rose to be Secretary of Navy and Attorney General, thus being the only known relative of Napoleon to reach a position of any prominence without playing on being a known relative of Napoleon.

    4. Rosalind Christie was Christie’s only descendant (her child with her first husband, Archibald Christie). She married twice, once to a Welsh army major who died in 1944 in Normandy. Their son Matthew Prichard, born in 1943, was her only descendant.

      Her second husband was a lawyer named Hicks, who died six months after her. He raised Matthew.

      Agatha Christie died in 1976. She left her money, literary works, and real estate to both Rosalind and to Max Mallowan (Agatha’s second husband, the archeologist). Rosalind died in 2004.

      Matthew Prichard inherited his mom’s shares in Agatha Christie Limited. He sold Agatha’s house Greenway to the National Trust.

      Matthew’s son James Prichard is now CEO of Agatha Christie Limited, but apparently stinks at controlling use of the brand for adaptations that make sense.

    5. American copyright law is the atrocity that it is because Thou Mayest Not Allow Steamboat Willie To Enter Public Domain. It’s written in stone somewhere. Stone the color of campaign contribution money.

  8. A rather fun romantic comedy called “Sweet Home Alabama” had a powerful moment in it for me. The hunky love interest was an artist who planted lightning rods in the sand and then turned the strikes into sculptures. How did he know where the lightning would strike? He didn’t. So he planted dozens of rods in the hopes that one might get hit.

    I’ve known writers that nurse their one and only manuscript, endlessly revising it, in hopes of it being published one day. Instead, I plant lots of lightning rods. You have to get out there and hope. And plant the best lightning rod that you can build.

    1. Who’s the “comedian” who has made his money hauling his manuscript around and talking about it? (bit dry, only mildly humorous)

    2. Bit naughty but the research, yes there’s research, says that the vast majority of men have the same “batting average” trying to ummm meet women. the successful ones simply approach more women. Its just probability.

      I actually asked an old school friend who always seemed to have female companions, never the same ones, about this and he confirmed the truth of it. he knew what he wanted and knew that there was likely at least one woman around at any one time who wanted the same thing. He’d just go on until he was successful. He said that he tried to narrow the range, but nothing worked like persistence.

      1. A FOAF story current in the mid-80s when I was at Williams was that a guy from Amherst College went over to Smith College (when Smithies were supposed to be sluts, not lesbians) and asked ten woman he met at random if she wanted to have sex. Supposedly he got like seven noes and got slapped twice, but had great sex with the tenth.

        Nowadays, of course, a FOAF story like that would be unbelievable, because any man who did that would be immediately tackled by police (campus or townie) and thrown in jail.

    3. And that reminds me of Twain’s short story, Political Economy which has nothing (or almost nothing) to do with the subject of the title – and much about lightning rods and lightning strikes.

  9. There’s poor and there’s poor.

    Some years back the son of the guy who homesteaded the property we bought came up to take a look at and talk about the old family homestead where he grew up. We talked for a few hours and three, maybe four times in the conversation he remarked he hadn’t realized how poor they were.

    Poor, 160 acres proved up, built up with mostly sweat equity, owned free and clear, D6 Cat (Fairly big bulldozer.), riverfront property. The trailer wannagan wasn’t a grand house atop the hill but it has running water, indoor plumbing, heated in winter by a cobbled together coal fired furnace, poor.

    I do gotta cut him a little slack, He flew up from Valdez where owned and captained a commercial fishing boat and a nice, large house for his family. He flew up piloting his own Cessna 180 so I guess from where he was sitting then, earlier seemed quite poor.

    1. “Poor” is always a subjective thing. It requires someone else to compare yourself with.

    2. I grew up as a member of Idaho’s landed gentry. We owned the wall we had our backs up against.
      (Hat tip: Pat McManus)

  10. “and seemingly random things like “seen by the right person.” (J. K. Rowling is a study in this.)”

    Or on a not so spectacular level…

    IIRC, Mike Kupari got his break because he was writing a free novel in installments on a forum, and Larry sent him a note saying (paraphrasing), “I like what you’re doing. You mind if I join you with a different viewpoint character?”

    The result was the early draft of Dead 6.

    1. I came across those posts some time ago via a reference on a gun blog I no longer visit. They were a ton of fun. Dead Six was out at the time, so I went and bought it. I have the trilogy — and what’s more, it convinced me to try Monster Hunter International, which turned out to be even better than the Dead Six books. And thus I have a shelf full of books that testifies to the contribution I’ve made to Larry Correia’s growing mountain of money.

  11. I worked a long weekend at a carnival. You quickly learn to spot rigged games. You also learn that even an honest game is arranged to favor “The House”. Marks play the games of the House they are in.

    Be the House, not the Marks. If you can’t yet be the House, work for the House, not the Marks. If you are working for the Marks, keep working until you can change.

    Any idiot can run a craps game in a barracks. Or sharpen knives for cash. (Even in the 1980s, I was shocked at how few had a clue how.)

    Anyone can become the house.

    1. To borrow from Heinlein’s Lazarus Long “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you; if you don’t bet you can’t win.” Mr. Long is not the best example mind you but the point is clear and applicable. Sometimes (heck lots of times) things are NOT going to be in your favor. Are you poor, of a denigrated ancestry, are the wrong genotype on the 23rd chromosome or whatever disadvantage? If you don’t try you’re guaranteed failure. And sometimes luck just goes the other way. I can’t remember the number of ladies I tried to take to dances, date or become boyfriends of starting about the time I realized girls were different. Ultimately, someone asked me, and even with that I was clueless because it was clear to me that no member of the fairer sex would ever have use of me except my keen mind and strong back. It took her two different tries for me to get the idea she was interested in me. Luckily for me she persisted. Some 43 years plus after our first date I am still with that lovely lady.

    2. You’re not special. The game is rigged against everybody except the insiders. Some outsiders still win. How? By being stubborn bastards and grabbing every advantage. By learning a valuable skill and finding somewhere it’s needed. By doing what needs to be done even when it’s ‘not in your Job Description’. By being the one employee they can depend on when it really counts.

      Or you can whine about How Unfair life is.
      Simon Illyan: “Do you know all those old folk tales where the Count tries to get rid of his only daughter’s unsuitable suitor by giving him three impossible tasks?”

      Ekaterin: “Yes…”

      Simon: “Don’t ever try that with Miles. Just……don’t.”

      1. A properly rigged game, or if you prefer “house favoring”, will allow the occasional “big winner” in order to draw in more marks.

        Example: slot machines

        Any decent win is loudly announced. Big wins are grandiously announced. Marks flock to the fuss.

        No Mark counts all the coin in the House bucket at the end of the day. Even a couple of seriously negative days do not zero out the other 363. The big winner is the House.

        Be the House, not the Marks.

          1. There’s a Robert Asprin Phule’s Company book about guarding (and part ownership) in a casino. And all the ways it can go wrong.

        1. I had a boss who had a psych masters. I joked that the state Lotteries were an innumeracy tax. He thought that amusing but noted that apparently there was a study with rats where pressing a lever would give them treats/food. There were 3 states

          1) the lever yields 1 food/treat when pressed
          2) the lever only yields 1 food every N seconds no matter how often pressed
          3) the lever (based on random number) will sometimes yield food. On rarer occasion it will yield multiple food.

          the rats with lever 3 would press and press more than either of the other two groups of rats. Humans with gambling are like those rats.

      2. Thermodynamics… has three Laws (ignoring the Zeroth…. and yes, there is, and yes it seems so obvious that it was unstated at first, so…) that can be summed up:

        You can’t win.
        You can’t break even.
        You can’t not play.

        And yet… sometimes it’s possible to ‘cheat’ to one’s own advantage despite it all. Consider, for example, the heat pump called an air conditioner.

        1. I’ve heard that last stated you can’t even quit the game… and yes you can cheat for local advantage but the total entropy is always more, other wise those folks selling perpetual motion machines might have something.

          1. They do have something — an endless supply of suckers. Because learning physics is haaard! WAAAAH!

                <b>The 3 Laws Of Stupidynamics</b>

            1. The sum of intelligence and stupidity in a closed system is constant.

            2. In any interaction between intelligence and stupidity in a closed system, the overall stupidity will increase.

            3. A closed system will eventually approach a state of Absolute Stupidity in which no useful interactions are possible.

            1. Given entropy applies to information from what I understand stupifty is just entropy in action 🙂 .

          2. Well, that’s interesting. I inserted two tabs at the beginning of a line and got that gray text block. But why did WPDE fail to process the bold attribute?

            1. To WordPress, it identifies as bold. Doesn’t matter what us stupid humans see. BTW, the Reader is lifting The 3 Laws Of Stupidynamics.

  12. You can follow the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Or you can quit.

    Blaming someone else doesn’t mean you’re not a quitter.

      1. “Why should I play? Publishing is rigged/academics is rigged/no one will hire a [whatever].” Yeah, and? So is the rest of the world. Go for it anyway.

        1. A little bit of “it’s rigged against me? Well, EFF THEM, I’m going to succeed in spite of that,” never hurts either.

          1. “Oh, you think all the X people think you, Y people, are stupid? Why would you ever want to prove them right? Prove them wrong and make them EAT IT.”

        2. rigged/no one will hire a [whatever]

          100% Programming is very age discrimination based. Pushing 40+? Guarantied will get “Too experienced” for not being hired, more than once. My last programming job I got when I was 47. Perseverance. Too stubborn to quit.

          1. My last programming job I got when I was 54 and kept it for 18 years until retirement last year. Maybe Google and Apple are fixated on kids who don’t know any better, but there are others out there. Of course location is everything. I happen to live somewhere where there has almost always been a lot of work for people like me.

            1. location is everything. I happen to live somewhere where there has almost always been a lot of work for people like me.

              My problem is I live in a university town that, as hard as it is to get into the program (does not happen until junior year), they still churn out a lot of programmers, annually. Even my year (’89) I don’t know where most of them went. I wasn’t exactly looking on graduation … Had another blessing instead (a week after my last final). Didn’t start looking for 7 months, and that all but dropped in my lap (plus a primary example of “know *where the job is” when you list salary and other expectations).

              (*) “They expected What compensation for Gardiner Oregon? WTH?” It was 1990. But still. I actually got more than I asked for. (And the job moved to where it should have been, but that was company division politics. Who the work was for VS Who was paying for it and where each was based.)

              1. Oh. I also did not have the choice to move. Hubby’s job is 100% PNW based, most the jobs off the I-5 corridor. Portland, Seattle, and Olympia, as bases, are not doable. Area: N. CA to N. WA. A few east side and into Idaho. The job is Not done anywhere else.

                1. Sounds like my own field. If you get into flight test, there are few employers, fewer places to find work.

                  1. Timber job. One would say that “Timber jobs are everywhere.” Not wrong. But not Log Scalers. There is a reason why the PNW Timber Division (I worked for) had a specific software (not the ones I worked, that program had two programmers, just for it) for tracking trees taken off the company land that was different from the rest of the international timber company divisions. The lead programmer had to justify the program, and staffing, about every 18 months or so to the corporate headquarter types. Difference? The rest of the company software tracked by cu ft of the logging unit harvested. The PNW software tracked by logs, as in multiple 20′ to 40′ logs scaled per tree harvested out of the logging unit harvested, whether pulp designated or not. Most the logs did not go for pulp, instead were exported. About the only good thing to come out of the division asset sale was the timberland was bought by domestic producers. No more log exports off that timberland. Hubby worked for 3rd party, not for profit, company. Of which there are now exactly *4 companies in the PNW, plus some private timber company and some federal, all in the PNW, for his job.

                    (*) Gray’s Harbor, Southern Oregon, Columbia River, all not for profit, and one for profit (forget name). Columbia River went from 279 scalers in ’79 to current of 40 to 60 scalers, depending on whether companies are using internal private or contracting out. The other 4 are just as bad.

  13. If at first you can’t succeed, quit.

    Blame white cis male Colonizers. Parlay that into an honorary Harvard degree and comfy government iron-rice-bowl-for-life job. Write shitty science fiction stories about how you can’t get ahead because you’re [insert victim group here] and get yourself a Hugo award.

    Career path unlocked!

    Bonus points, pretend to be a member of a racial minority, despite being an obvious Nordic blond.

  14. Blame white cis male Colonizers.

    We only hear about the colonizers who actually made it to somewhere they could start a colony.

    Most of the contestants of that particular contest ended up gut shot far from home, in a frozen grave, eaten by scavengers, in a stewpot in some tropical horror locale, or went down to keep Davy Jones company.

    Many more try as will succeed.

    Such is life in the real world.

    1. “You have three guys with guns that take two minutes or more to reload. They are facing a hundred angry guys with spears and bows and arrows. The bow can reload in twenty seconds and has a longer range with greater accuracy. Who’s going to win?”

      Welcome to the early history of Europeans trading in [a lot of places, especially West Africa].

      1. That’s just a bit off. A proficient soldier can load and shoot a flintlock musket up to 4 times a minute. Grabbing a new arrow and drawing takes 3-4 seconds, but the archers get tired way faster than the gunners.

        European colonials (the successful ones) tended to bring, not 3 guys with guns, but 30 or 40, and volley fire in 2 or 3 ranks. A dozen bullets every 5 seconds can be devastating.

        Hmmm, Napoleonic tactics had them packed shoulder to shoulder, but there’s no reason they couldn’t be dispersed much more widely so long as they coordinate their timing. Shooting volleys into the enemy on converging vectors across a wide front could be even more effective.

        1. I was running off of the accounts I’ve read about Portuguese and Spanish trading groups, and some English, in West Africa around 1680-1700. A lot of Europeans would be sick at any given time, and very few seem to have been in a position to handle firearms, such firearms as they had. The tropical climate caused problems with the guns and the powder. Rebecca Shumway, The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Excellent book, very readable.

      2. In West Africa, it was more like, “If we leave this pleasant and breezy coastal island and head into the interior we’ll all be dead of disease in a week. Let’s stay here and have the locals bring the trade goods to us.”

          1. Yes, of course. Because Europeans only very rarely raided for slaves themselves, the first sequence of Roots to the contrary. Not only was there a huge disease risk, but the locals were armed and likely to fight back with lethal force. Much better for all around to just have the local potentates bring their excess humanity to the factory islands.

  15. As far as writing goes, all I can do is keep trying stuff in different genres that interest me. If some particular something randomly turned out to be a blockbuster, I’d probably find the motivation to do more of it, and maybe find a way to quit the dayjob, but in the meantime, it’s just me playing with stuff that interests me until it doesn’t anymore, and then I tie up the loose ends as best I can and move on.

  16. the thing to keep in mind in the popcorn analogy…

    some people like the weird crunchy half popped kernels.

  17. Have looked at the original ‘hacker news’ thing.

    Words seem to fail me on exactly how much nonsense it is.

    A simple and wrong model is that born rich will live rich forever, and born poor will live poor forever.

    The hacker news article is slightly more complicated. Everyone has a success field in their data entry, you can roll for a better number, and your number of rolls directly relates to money on hand.

    What the more correct model is, is that over time you spend energy and attention. Some of that spending gets turned into money, some other things, some nothing. Fundamentally, the mindset you choose to have influences enthusiasm and available oomph.

    Think reality is deterministically static? You will sit on your ass and not try to change your surroundings.

    Think reality is chaos? You will become disoriented, and may panic.

    (I would quibble somewhat with Larry. Serious medical issues are not always an impossible obstacle. They are a constraint, but the constraints you choose to believe can be much more restrictive than your constraints that you cannot choose to ignore.)

    ‘Oppression’ and ‘power dynamics’ are a festering crock precisely because they predict impossibility where someone simply looking at persons and actions might instead see possibility.

    Results of how you spend your time? Degree of success for a period of time. It is never simply a matter of pick your best roll ever, and it lasts forever.

    Additionally, what does success mean anyway? I’m willing to take a relative loss to keep my options open, so that I can tell people to go frustrate themselves if it is needful. Success means wildly different things, to different people. Looking purely at money variables is evidence of a sub par mind a lot of the time.

    You spend time period X setting up how you will spend X +1, and X+1 is also spent setting up X+2. PEople who look only at getting wealthy fast ignore the longer term, and ‘and then what do you do with the money’.

    If you haven’t spend a long time prepping your skills, what you do with a lot of money includes a lot of things that are mistakes when managing that amount of money, and when managing time that gets a significant return. So, there is a learning curve, with mistakes, and that is invisible enough when you are not close to such situations.

    What should be more obvious is the matter of making very serious mistakes that weaken the fortune, kill it entirely, or at least put a stop to any future growth. Lots of times this involves an affair, or a change in marriage. (The issue being that women and men are complementary, and that women are not necessarily hot swappable widgets that function in exactly the same way.)

    Preserving a level of success requires making behavioral changes to handle environmental changes, as well as not stupidly changing the behaviors that still work and are a key element of productivity. The more unusual the success, the rarer the qualities to make it happen, and the easier it is to make a change that incidentally results in much lower levels of success. The people who can achieve rare success, and also recover from a serious error, are scarce. This is because nobody has complete information about what got them where they are, and no one has complete information about the future.

    We do not have the same time on earth, and we do not have the same level of ability permitted by physical health.

    What do we have in common? Choice.

    How much does the way I spend time now result in a success that satisfies me? I can quit gambling on new situations, and stick to trying to preserve a current level of success. I am more likely to do this when I choose to be satisfied, instead of when I am profoundly unhappy.

    So, perhaps rather than rich corresponding to more rolls, perhaps unsatisfied and optimistic does. Though, note, all changes are gambles. You can throw away a bunch of good things chasing something that you will never get. High performance can be a very destructive addiction.

    It is fairly likely that the hacker news idjit is not purely wealth oriented, but also identifies as wanting leadership positions. Argument against them having a real want for leadership is their apparent satisfaction sitting on their rear end feeling sorry for themselves. The practical problem with seeking a leadership position, is that if you get it you can find yourself needing to lead, or failing because you are not leading. If you are not paying attention to other people, not seeing what they want to do, not seeing what they are really capable of that they do not notice, then you may possibly not have a calling to leadership.

    When you are drawn to developing leadership strengths, you don’t simply pick your life goals by picking the most extreme leadership ‘success’ cases, and proceed there directly with as little time and human interaction as possible. Instead, you find yourself working with others, and enabling them to succeed, at every step of the way. If you cannot think of many people that you have worked to help, or any teams you have actually led that have achieved things, than you probably do not have the will to be any sort of CEO but a destructive one.

    CReating a new business is a very hard, very risky, and very consuming process. There are a lot of people not up for that, and this is okay. What is much less okay, is folks stewing over anyone but them creating a business.

  18. All their useless little lives they’ve been rewarded for being whiny babies. Why, then, is anybody surprised that they have accumulated the years of adulthood without acquiring the maturity of a spoiled 2-year-old brat?

    1. “Lawnmower parent:” a parent who mows down any difficulties their offspring might face in life. Which results in what you’d expect. I’ve been told that they are like helicopter parents, but dialed up to eleven.

  19. The fundamental paradigm of Communist ideology is guaranteed to have wide appeal: you suffer; your suffering is caused by powerful others; these oppressors must be destroyed. –Leszek Kolakowski Marxism is ENVY period, exclamation point. That’s why it’s so hard to kill once a soul gets infected with it.

  20. You think because you’re born poor you can’t become rich or successful? I just read J. Michael Straczynski’s autobiography, Becoming Superman. Holy Crap!

    Dickens’ orphans would count themselves lucky not to have been him. 13 schools in his first 12 years of schooling because his drunken, abusive, con-man, Nazi father kept moving them to stay ahead of the bill collectors. (Not NeoNazi, actual Nazi–kept the uniform and even made his son put it on once.) His mother conceived him in a whorehouse and threw him off a third story roof when he was 7. The only way he could get her to touch him was to hold a stray cat for her to pet, so that she’d accidentally brush his hand. He was too nearsighted to see the blackboard in school until someone finally shamed his father into getting him glasses in high school.

    Was told, “You’ll never work in this town again,” four different times in his writing career, from newspapers, to TV animation, to live action TV, to feature films. After 4 years of pitching Babylon 5, had his last chance in front of a bunch of independent TV station executives. He was so nervous about the pitch, he clenched his teeth and broke a molar and had to do the pitch with a lisp from numbing his tongue with ice to dull the pain.

    And that’s just some of it.

    1. One nit: his father was not allowed to join the Nazi party because he was Polish. Sure did hang out with Nazis a lot, though. There was some circumstantial evidence he’d participated in Nazi war crimes, but not enough for an indictment.

      And then the petty things, like tearing up a box of vintage comic books that would have been worth a fortune 20 years later, or poisoning little J.M.’s cat…

      1. You’re right. Although they made his father a SS uniform, Joe’s father was only 14 at the time IIRC. And that’s not even the half of it for anybody who hasn’t read the book yet. I thought “Becoming Superman” was a little weird and perhaps grandiose for a title to one’s autobiography before I read it, but I think now that it’s the perfect title.

        Reading the book explained much about Joe’s quirks that I accepted but didn’t understand before.

        1. SS were Party members. Always. Faking membership in the Party or in the SS got one sent to a KZ, or simply shot.

          Late in the war, the definition of “aryan” was stretched to include “slavs” that could pass as “aryan”. As the Nazis became desperate for cannon fodder, this became routine.

          If someone had an SS uniform worn before the end, he was a card-carrying Nazi, however reluctant or however fanatic.

          Lots of post-war revising of personal histories.

          France, for example. Never were there so many Resistance, and so little collaboration, than after VE day. Why, it’s a wonder the Nazis ever subdued France, so many were the Resistance. Oddly, duty in France was regarded as low risk by the Nazis.

          The sins of the father do not inherit to the sons.

          1. The explanation was that he was treated as kind of a mascot by the local SS since he was so enthusiastically cruel in hating and beating people up. His mother (Joe’s grandmother) was probably the house mistress/sex toy for the local SS group as far as Joe could determine. They likely had slightly special status in the beginning as they were visiting Americans.

  21. I read (on the internet?)(today?yesterday?) “Shoot your Arrow, see where it sticks and paint a target around it.”

    I quite appreciate “The burned hand teaches” and will be repeating it (with attribution.)

  22. My generational wealth was my mother teaching me how to cook, and my father teaching me how to do just about anything; and both of them kicking my butt to study. Their one big splurge for their kids? A set of the World Book Encyclopedia in 1965 (pre-woke version.)

  23. I have come to realize that I am not broken, though I used to think so. I am molded. Painful though the process was, I am glad to be here.

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