The Order of Consequences

The person back there who finished with “of Jedis” before I completed the title, to you too, happy May 4th. Now, the rest of you, tie him, gag him, and put him in the screen room with the Star Wars Holiday Special on endless loop.

The rest of us…are going to discuss consequences.

All actions have consequences. Some of them are even intended.

Say I get up from here, walk over there and kick the cat. If I intended hurting the cat, that was accomplished. First order of consequences, on the nose, done and dusted. And tomorrow morning when I find a massive pile of poo in my shoe, it will be second order consequences. And if I were a Marxist — or a statist in general — this would SHOCK me.

Because they’re known, KNOWN for understanding first order of consequences, if that much. (And often not that much.)

It’s like they think nothing has real existence outside them and their will. So, you know, they want people to stop burning fossil fuels? Tax them through the nose. It never occurs to them that the cat will most surely poop on the shoe, not just in terms of inflation, but also because people cannot stop making and using things. So as it happens, the burning of fossil fuels is outsourced to other countries, which care far less about things like pollution, and which don’t bother with scrubbers on their factory chimneys, and overall, pollution worldwide gets much worse. The local economy also gets worse, the economy we’re buying from has no qualms about slave labor which our statists claim to CARE so much about. Etc. etc. etc.

As I said, during COVIDiocy when finding how different the standards were, nation wide, for ‘lockdown’ or ‘distancing’: IF this were a truly lethal virus, we’d all already be dead.

In the same way, if carbon caused runaway global warming global cooling climate change, we’d already have burned of freezing to death, or however the hell that’s supposed to work this week. Because all the increased “environmental regulations” do in the US is send manufacturing to China, and China is a super-poluter. (China don’t care. China is a’hole.)

I honestly don’t understand this “So it is written, so it must be” mentality. I mean…. Murder has been illegal in most societies ever, and it still hasn’t stopped, so the heck actually do they think?

Oh, wait, think is not a part of it. It’s more…. They say it, and think reality will comply.

And because they only have minimal contact with reality…. And most of them are in positions of power, we are all strapped into this accelerating basket with them, while it gets mighty hot and the “unintended” accumulate out there.

Our consolation must be that wile the world is ending, it is their world. And that what can’t go on, won’t.

In the end we win, they lose. Because we know the rule of the shoe-pooping cat and can prepare for it. And understand the best governments govern very little.

Build under, build over, build around. And be not afraid.

214 thoughts on “The Order of Consequences

    1. I never saw it, but apparently it does exist.

      So it’s not really surprising that LucasFilm has never released The Star Wars Holiday Special, in any format, since 1978, except for a personal copy that Lucas gave to star Carrie Fisher, who used the misconceived TV special to horrify and entertain her party guests.

      However, there IS the Mark Hamill visit to the Muppet Show,

      1. Well, damn! I didn’t know about that. Now I will try to forget it.

          1. But at least it wasn’t Woke.

            Imagine the “pain” if somebody made a Woke version. [Shudder]

          2. Your kids have a defensible position. I’m not certain you have a defensible position, making that bound and gagged guy watch it in the screening room.

            Still, it’s not as if it’s Episode I.
            Or Episode II.
            Or Episode VIII.
            Or, from all accounts, Episode IX.

              1. Ah, entirely true. I thought I was being diplomatic by not raising your BYESP-dom. My apologies. I will not make that mistake again.

                I will make an entirely different mistake next time. I’m creative that way.

          3. You have wise sons Dear Hostess. We should have should that on repeat to the residents of Guantanamo Bay… although that really would have a violation of the Geneva protocols…

      2. Re:

        OMG. I took a look at it; the most relevant comment on the website:

        “Every minute feels like an hour. I’ve never felt the fragility of my own mortality more acutely. Have I been watching this for 10 minutes, or 10 years? I feel my soul untethering and being pulled into some icy void. I scream, but there is no god to help me. There is only Lumpy.”

        Kafka or Dostoevsky would have been so envious…

    2. There is on Disney+. It’s one of those Lego things which I almost always avoid.

        1. Your kids are probably right. I haven’t worked up the courage to submit myself to a Lego Star Wars Christmas.

    3. Problem is: the Holiday Special is what introduced Boba Fett and Life Day, both of which are recurring in the franchise. The EU part anyway. Also Chewbacca’s son Lowbacca, who became a Wookie Jedi.

      As a fan of much of the EU/Legends continuity, it’s tough to dismiss.

    4. Sometimes I’m not even ready to acknowledge the existence of the second and third movies.

      1. Of the three original, I liked A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back as a tie for first, with RotJ being OK until the Ewok Encounter(tm). Empire is better in many ways, but the impact of ANH was a huge relief after the Woe Is Us period of movies like Logan’s Run and Silent Running and so on. I believe I managed to miss Soylent Green in the theater, but did read Make Room!.

        After I saw ANH, I went to a pay phone and called my buddy, telling him he had to see the movie ASAP. Not sure how many times I saw it; 3 for sure. My record (lost count in the high teens) was with 2001, but it was also a college movie staple. At a buck a showing, it was good entertainment on a quiet Saturday night.

        1. The 70s Show had the teens in the cast go see it as a group. The reaction shot of the male lead simply sitting in his seat watching in awe said it all.

        2. Yup ALL 70’s movie sci fi was either apocalyptic or dystopian or both. Don’t forget Planet of the apes (etc), The Man who fell to Earth and others. Star Wars (not “A New Hope” please, that gets added in the reissue for Empire Strikes Back). It was amazing to see when I was 16. I totally had a crush on Ms Fischer. George Lucas making her flounce around without support garments didn’t hurt from a teenage boy’s perspective. Star Wars is what totally brought back Sci Fi movies as Hollywood had pretty much written them off as a losing proposition.

          1. Yeah, I remember seeing “A New Hope” in the title at the reissue time and thinking “That’s new…”. I don’t recall if the original release called it Episode 4. Carrie Fisher was rather attractive to this mid-20s guy, too.

            I didn’t hate The Man Who Fell to Earth, though I generally had little to do with the rest of David Bowie’s stuff, whether audio or visual. Saw that movie on a double bill with A Boy and His Dog,.

            The appeal of Dog might have had something to do with my mental state at the time; realllllly dark humor appealed. Some time later, I read the Harlan Ellison source story for it, and found myself preferring the movie. Digging out some really old memories, I think the dark humor in the movie made it more tolerable than the charcoal colored goo of the story. On the gripping hand, I have little desire to see either one of them again.

            One of the few bright spots was Roger Corman’s 1980 Battle Beyond the Stars. In that case, if you are going to steal something, why not steal from the best? Since Magnificent Seven already paved the way, why not BBtS?

            1. Yes, the original theatrical release was labeled ‘Episode IV’ in the yellow text crawl. Then the Alderaan ship flies into frame, followed by that shot of the Imperial Star Destroyer that just goes on, and on, and on, and…

              Spectacular opening sequence. One of the classics.

              1. When Space Balls came out, Brooks’ version of the star destroyer shot had be chucking. Broke out laughing at the bumper sticker: “We brake for nobody”. Not sure if the sticker would have worked without the long shot setup.

                Mel Brooks said he was trying to do for to SF movies what Blazing Saddles did with western movies. Glad his destruction attempt didn’t work.

                1. Just gonna say it: I detested “Space Balls”. I think maybe I chuckled a couple times, but otherwise it was leaden and sophomoric (even for Brooks) and far too long.

                  1. I didn’t detest SB, though the opening sight gag and Dark Helmet’s “Merchandizing” joke are the only ones I remember as being truly funny. Never saw it again.

                    Several months ago, we saw Blazing Saddles on one of the movie channels, and I was noting just how poorly Mel’s humor has aged with me. An acquired taste that I’ve lost.

                    I never saw his remake of Jack Benny’s To Be or Not to Be. Not sure if it would be well done or standard MB fare. Netflix isn’t an option, and I like to be careful about spending money on DVDs.

              2. Beg pardon, but the original release had no episode labels. Saw it the summer it came out.

                And the open is one of the two greatest in cinema…the other being the opening speech in “Patton”.

                  1. Yeah, I remember having the same reaction, but it was just “Episode IV”, not “Episode IV: A New Hope”.

                    Or maybe we’re both suffering from the Mandela Effect. Pity nobody can go back and watch an original version unless they’ve got an old VHS tape from the ’80s lying around.

                    1. I can not say what really started the 1977 version. I got to see it in Early June. Not bad for back of nowhere Connecticut but our theater (single screen ~350 seats per fire marshalls orders) had it because 1) the owner was a hardware nut and had 70mm projectors (gotten long ago for Lawrence of Arabia and used for all sorts of things), 35 mm prints were rare initially, and 2) He LOVED scifi and had seen this in the possible listings and signed up for it early. He had to agree to a 10 week run to get it, essentially the WHOLE summer. It was standing in line to get through late July. He did have to go to $1/ticket (vs the normal $3.50) showings in August, but I think it saved the theater for another 2 years. I probably saw it over 15 times, a couple times free as one of the projectionists was a fellow tenor from the Church Choir, was a music teacher in the school year, projectionist and odd jobs in the summer to make extra money.
                      As far as I can tell all later media (VHS, Beta, Laser DISC , DVD) seem to be based off the reissue. This youtube video
                      claims to be the 1977, No “A New Hope”, no Eposode IV. Where they got it I don’t know, Lucas Films has a revisionist worldview that rivals the Ministry of Truth for efficiency in disappearing things.

                    2. If distant memory serves, I saw it the first weekend it was out. Was out and about over lunch hour and stopped at a sandwich place that had local radio running. (San Jose, so values of “local” ran from San Fran to Gilroy.) An ad came up for Star Wars and it was engaging. Decided to hit the noon matinee on Saturday. Oops. Long line, and by the time I got to the box office, it was for the next showing. This was in the big theater complex, and was in 70mm. Bought my ticket and went across the street to the then-existent bookstore that had a good SF section. (They did book signings there, and many years later I got to chat with Jerry while he and Larry were signing for Footfall.)

                      Got a decent seat for the next show and had a ball. Not sure when my buddy and I saw it, but it was quite soon. When Empire came out, we saw the Ep 4 reissue at one of the smaller theaters in that complex. Still good quality, though maybe 35mm.

                      When Jedi came out, a bunch of us took the afternoon off work and went to a theater in Palo Alto. The theater was within a very short distance of the HP main campus, and the geek coefficient of the audience was close to 1.0. (There might have been a non-geek GF of a geek. Maybe. 🙂 )

                      I wonder if the Episode 4 wording was added when it was clear that Star Wars was a big hit. Thinking about it, if it had been the sole entry, it was a decent stand-alone story with minimal loose ends.

                    3. I think you might be correct and “Episode 4” was added when Empire came out. I’m pretty sure “: A New Hope” wasn’t added until the ’90s revisions.

                    4. Oh, and I saw in 17 times in the theater that summer. The first time in glorious 70mm at an old art deco theater in Honolulu (we were on vacation), four or five times at the Fireweed Twin in Anchorage in probably 70mm, and then the rest at another theater in Anchorage in pretty sure 35mm.

                    5. I never saw the 1990s revisions, but do recall seeing “A New Hope” when the original was reissued around the Empire release. Saw some movies in the ’90s, but very little SF. (Star Trek Generations and First Contact seem to have been the exceptions.) She who became $SPOUSE isn’t fond of SF or fantasy movies, preferring mysteries and romantic comedies. I like the mysteries and decline the RomComs.

                      I’ve missed the CGI additions to Ep 4, and am thrilled not to have to go through the Who Shot First fiasco.

                    6. (Go away, plot bunny. Don’t come back until you have some friends. “An Old Hope” is not a full story, just a title.)

        3. See, I even have problems referring to the movie called “Star Wars” as the revisionist “A New Hope”. Bah.

    5. Mark Hamill referenced it to explain how bad he thought the first Trump-Biden debate was. 😛

    6. If there is no such thing as the Star Wars Holiday Special, why would “Weird Al” Yankovic pay $100 for a bootleg copy? He seems too savvy to be defrauded in such a manner.

  1. I have a philosophical as well as visceral opposition to being part of someone else’s BDSM scene without being asked. Which is what watching the current train wreck that is the Self-Anointed-Elite’s dream world. I want to be left alone to do my thing, worship my deity, tell my stories, and see places I want to see.

    1. “… which is what watching … dream world feels like.”

      Sorry, got distracted by a question from outside the office.

    2. And now the latest is that FJB wants to regulate half of the power generating capacity out of business to eliminate use of fossil fuels. Between that and the EV requirements, it looks like ox-cart is how we deplorables are supposed to get around.

      1. Won’t be ox-cart. Can’t have herds of oxen contributing to ‘climate change’ can we?

        1. Maybe instead of locking people into a room and putting a Christmas Special on loop, you could put them on a clap trap space station and force them to watch crappy movies.

          They could build themselves some robot companions and whatnot.

          Might be hilarious.

        1. Lib-shaws. A coach and 80 gelded Leftists. And if you don’t think they can get up to 80 mph…they’ll do it or die trying. I’ve a heavy hand with the whip.

          1. Isn’t “gelded Leftists” redundant?
            At very least, the Venn Diagram of “gelded” and “Leftists” has a lot of overlap.

            1. They’re not honest enough to geld, they just do everything short of it to avoid successful reproduction and then complain.

  2. And the consequence of this post is that a certain person will start ranting here about “climate change”. [Very Big Crazy Grin]

    That is, unless you gave him a good kicking. 😈

  3. It’s like comedy.

    Studios are already making noises about using ChatGPT to generate scripts, then have human writers polish them. Since the human writers haven’t actually written the scripts, they don’t have to pay them WGA rates for “script writing.”

    How long before they do this at Tor or one of the other “woke” publishers, get an AI chatbot to write a story, have a human editor polish it, then publish and not have to worry about getting icky humans involved in the process?

    And yet…I want to have actual human content created by actual people. Because it’ll surprise me, and it isn’t homogenized wallpaper paste.

    Who thought that David Drake would have done so well?
    Or David Weber?
    Or John Ringo?
    Or Eric Flint (yes, he was a Red, but in many ways he had earned his ability to be who he was)?
    Or even our gracious hostess with the mostest?

    None of them were wallpaper paste.
    None of them could have an easy-to-generate AI script for what they wrote.

    Because it’s easy for the managerial class to “do this work,” rather than deal with…people.

    I’ve got to get back to writing. Even if all I’m getting is taco money, I’m working for it.

    1. What script and computation can accomplish is repetition of known things. Computers are VERY literal. Exceedingly so. Almost wholly so, absent certain errors that stem from humans, by and large.

      What computers cannot do, and will never do within the bounds of the currently realized systems, languages, and hardware… is create something new.

      Variations upon known themes? Bogs, the Heroes’ Journey is how old now? Story themes and tropes are known things, yes.

      But making engaging story requires something more. You have to know more than a bit about human nature to write good story. You have to be able to manage a plot that is interesting with worldbuilding that is engaging, characters that inspire emotion, and conflict that is meaningful.

      There is no magic recipe for that.

      I believe that certain persons have been chasing that particular ephemera for untold generations. It is the experience of being human that creates. The experience of being human also is fed by and improved by story.

      We cannot help it. Humans anthropomorphize everything. We create stories almost from the moment our brains are able to discern consequence and time itself. Stories are in us, and we are often made better for it.

      A machine cannot create a new story. It can, at best, blend elements of existing stories that might approximate something readable, given enough iterations and training.

      I believe ChatGPT could quite easily create bad stories. Maybe mediocre stories someday. But writing a good story requires a sentient mind at the keyboard. Because the story really exists in the mind of the reader, which is influenced by their life experiences. Which is how such different interpretations of stories come about.

      I really need to finish up this arc of zombies in space. There’s another story hammering at the door that just delivered a second chapter, that I am totally not writing.

      Anybody got any room for plot bunnies? I gots lots.

        1. Wait- you can sell plot bunnies!? There’s a market for it and it’s not yet oversaturated to the point you have to pay people to take them away?

          Where is this market for plot bunnies? I have TONS. Sometimes I use them in other stories to add drama, or conflict, but that’s fine, right? Used plot bunnies are okay, right? They’re perfectly fine otherwise, no real wear and tear.

          Used plot bunnies for sale, only slightly tarnished! Half price!

          1. Edit to add:

            We’re gonna be rich! Richer than the dreams of average! Richer than a dot com billionaire! Richer than a lobbyist with unlimited dirt! Richer than a lemonade stand in July!

      1. ChatGPT and other computer programs work within a very rigid frame of rules. They’re much worse than humans when something happens outside the framework.

        1. Want to be that they’re being sold on that basis? That they’ll obey the rules given to them on how the Money wants their scripts to be made and produced?

        2. Not really. ChatGPT is, essentially, a mathematical function with 175 billion parameters that was trained on staggering quantities of text, fine-tuned to “follow” instructions, and further massaged in an effort to keep it from saying anything controversial.

          Its behavior is much closer to that of a chaotic system than anything like a traditional program. Saying it has rules is like saying weather has rules: true at a micro level (atoms, individual computations) and true at a macro level (seasons, general behavior), but useless for predicting if it’s going to rain in three weeks. The complexity is too great.

          ChatGPT and models like it routinely demonstrate behavior they were not specifically trained for, and it’s a constant battle to keep them from doing things like berating users or sharing how to hotwire a car. And that’s not getting into the hallucinations.

          Ultimately, the model is just interpolating from the data it was trained on, so you’re right that it can’t handle anything “outside the framework”. But the training data is so enormous and the function is so complex that it’s hard to pin down what “outside” means.

          These models definitely have limitations, but they’re not the same ones as traditional computer programs.

      2. Most of Hollywood, big screen or small, is oft-recycled crap.

        Feed the bot that “tropes” web site, a bunch of sample scripts, and a random element generator.

        Audit-torium: clash of competing accountants in absurd social-interactions. (Wokie characters)

        As the corn grows: slow paced deadpan delivery of Amish life, with weird happenings.
        (Wokie characters)

      3. What computers cannot do, and will never do within the bounds of the currently realized systems, languages, and hardware… is create something new.

        Tell me you haven’t poked at GPT4 without telling me you haven’t poked at GPT4.

        Alternatively you are defining “new” in a way that renders it good for giving people warm fuzzies but worthless for conveying any actual meaning.

    2. Amanda Green has been doing some interesting experiments with ChatGPT over on her blog (Nocturnal Lives – Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – writer, mother, possessed by cats

      What she’s found is it can do decent frameworks, but it can’t write very readable prose. I suspect it could shorten the turn time for good scripts, but there is already something of a surplus of those in Hollywood.

      Where I really expect AI generation to blow up Hollywood is in the special effects and computer animation work. Given it can already do faces, hair, and images, I’d expect once folks figure out how to use it to generate animations, we could see a whole raft of quick turn computer animated shows of all types. And they’d still likely have more good scripts than air-time for good shows.

      1. I expect that green-screen will replace a lot of sets in the near future. Anything an actor does not wear or touch will be computer-generated…cheap.

        Note that this will make historical dramas much less expensive to produce. Whoever has the TV rights to the Aubrey/Maturin stories is sitting on a gold mine, if they have the wits to dig.

        1. I do wonder how much augmented reality is also going to start being used too. It doesn’t have to be perfect (see Andy Serkis and his ping pong suit) but having visuals going on can get the cast something to act off of.

          That was a huge problem with the Star War prequels. No-one on the green screen had any idea what they were reacting too. I suspect even a sand pool-noodle version of Grevious doing his Jedi Force Cuisnart would have resulted in a more impactful screen than what we saw in Ep3.

          And with stand-alone headset costs and weights going down, and rapid prototyping of the CD figures, I could see using that to get some good actor reactions, even with super budget CG shows.

          1. Yup. What I’ve got in mind is an industry doing green-screen sets. Possibly CGI extras…or extras that are digitally captured and can be manipulated.

            If I’m doing any sort of historical fiction, sets and costumes cost a fortune. Same thing with science fiction. If this can be done with CGI, the costs drop substantially. Meaning that we can get to work on that “Mote in God’s Eye” movie that Larry Niven is REALLY wanting to see made. (me, too)

            1. Well, there was, “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” done completely on green-screen.
              Lovely old-fashioned space opera art, plot sucked. Character development non-existent. If they’d only dine an old-fashioned plot to go with the sets….

              1. IIRC, “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” was taken almosgt verbatim from a 1930’s-era comic book, so plot and character development were far down the list of concerns. Giant robots marching down the avenue, flying airfields and all the rest were about it.

                    1. And then everyone flooded David Weber’s social media with comments boiling down to “Found someone to play Honor Harrington!!!!!”

                      Mr Weber was Not Amused. 😎

                    2. Did this actually happen when the flick was released, or is it a projection of possibilities based on knowledge of fans? 🙂

                    3. Ummm… Not exactly what I asked; I know she was in the movie. I asked if Weber’s fans actually did as you said.

                    4. Well, I was at a con (Libertycon? Dragoncon?) where he was on a panel and someone in the audience brought it up because at the time an HH movie was under active consideration. Don’t have any other cites, sorry.

            2. Hmm, one wonders how you could fit Mote into a single movie, though Peter Jackson did a reasonable job with The Fellowship of the Ring. Finally saw it last January, with the rest in the queue, and what was left out mostly made sense.

              The right-gripping hand Mediator for the left-handed crewman was a nice touch. I could see that in the movie as either an Easter egg or a comic touch. Looks like I should put the book in the TB Re-read stack.

              1. I’d actually be more inclined to tackle it as a TV mini-series.

                With “The Fellowship of the Ring”, I think everybody expected that the script would move the hobbits from the Big Party to Bree as fast as possible. It was the logical cut. Slandering Merry and Pippin was a foretaste of the butchery to come.

                But with “Mote”, there’s no fat in that story…it got chopped before publication. Introduce the characters, introduce the technology and world…then Priority OC, and we’re off after a light sail.

                1. Finally saw Dune, last night. They really pared it down, though the visuals are stunning and I liked some of the touches. That’s another story I’d like to see as a high-quality miniseries.

          2. The trick is to first-unit the CGI, then add the humans as second-unit, so they can preview their “environment”. Then, tweak the CGI to sew it tight.

            Of course, then they realize they can template the humans, and CGI them in too.

            Ouch. Not too many rich actors to whizz in everyone’s corn flakes after that.

          3. Uh. A lot.

            Unreal Engine is pushing very hard with their technology to have real-time high fidelity 3d scenes projected on screens around the actors. No more ‘green screen’ – the cameras simply just capture the whole combined image. No rendering time, lighting of the physical props is done by the scene itself, the producer can tweak everything on the fly and reshoot in seconds or minutes.

            It’s very impressive tech.

          4. That was a huge problem with the Star War prequels. No-one on the green screen had any idea what they were reacting too. I suspect even a sand pool-noodle version of Grevious doing his Jedi Force Cuisnart would have resulted in a more impactful screen than what we saw in Ep3.

            Yeah, no, all that proves is that McGregor, Christiansen and Portman were a bunch of unimaginative sissies who’d never had to deal with stage work or the more primitive and unimpressive kind of special effects, and I assume Ian McDiarmid and Sir Christopher Lee told them so on approximately a weekly basis.

    3. Just watch as the WokeBots write better gray goo than 90% of the Wokies.


          1. The exemplar of grey goo would be unremarkable, the average not the superlative.

          1. People will buy things that make them happy. For some reason, some people like grey goo. Or the wallpaper paste that is movie franchies like The Fast and the Furious.

            (Some people like juggling geese. Goslings. They were juggled.)

  4. It’s the old Far Side cartoon, with “And then a miracle occurs,” and the scientist stating “I think you need to be more explicit in step 2.”

    1. Or the grand plan of the South Park underpants gnomes: 1: Steal underpants. 2. ??? 3. Profit.

      1. I’m more familiar with the Underpants Gnomes as well though I’m not surprised the Far Side covered it too!

    2. entering pedantic mode…

      The truly wonderful cartoon you are referring to was by Sydney Harris, not from The Far Side.

      …exiting pedantic mode…

      Nevertheless, that’s exactly the right image for this context!

      1. Ah, Gary Larson! I think my favorite Far Side was the crocodile in the witness box: “Of course I did it in cold blood, you imbecile! I’n\m a reptile!”

  5. I’m probably being a dreadful bore, but this seems an opportune time to quote myself:

    There was, of course, a side-effect. The Wardhall Grammary defines side-effect in these useful terms: ‘The principal effect of an action, when ignored by persons who would rather direct their attention to a small incidental benefit.’
    —Lord Talon’s Revenge

    Hurting the cat, or reducing local fuel consumption, is the small incidental benefit.

      1. So of course the cat absolutely must show his everlasting affection for you by weaving between your feet as you’re trying to get out the door when you’re late and in a hurry…

          1. Or on the stairs. Or in our old house, on the relatively narrow passage with a railing, two floor heights up, in the middle of the night as I came back from bathroom. Also known as “when Sarah sent a broomstick sailing over the railing to spear the chandelier.” But that was better than going over myself, which was BARELY avoided.

            1. C and L are starting to do the whole trip hazard thing, too, both on the basement stairs and the small number of steps from the living room to my bedroom! When they’re not camping out on that space near the stairs which I’m not sure what is called. The forms “iz cat” can take, huh?

              1. Our stairs take a right turn left. To make that turn the stairs have two half triangular landings. Guess where our large ginger male likes to plop down taking up most of the lower landing? Luckily the only thing upstairs is the family room, so night after bed using the stairs does not happen. Dang cat. OTOH we have two cats who like to bed down in the hall at night. That does cause a problem when using the bathroom. Dang cats.

        1. Weber had Honor go into premature labor because a tree kitten ran between her feet on a flight of stairs.

  6. Be not afraid, and fear not, are not the same thing. Not afraid is not just brave. It is easy to make fear your jailer. That is why the Chinese “Kill the rooster to scare the monkey.”

    They are trying to scare us into inaction by making the Jan 6 political prisoners suffer. They do not understand that one thing that spread Christianity was martyrs. This is a second order result that they do not understand. “If we just make them scared, we will win. They will get on the cattle cars.” We keep trying to warn them. My current estimated death toll is up to 4 billion, since they keep damaging the important details that allow civilization to exist.

    1. The Reader thinks that 4 billion is a bit pessimistic. Given that WW1, WW2 and all deaths due to Communism in the 20th century only total only a little over 200 million (best guess =/- 50%), the Reader thinks it would be hard to cut the human population by more than half.

      1. I wouldn’t be too sure of that. How many people live in cities, and what happens when neither food nor water nor fuel gets to those cities because the supply chains are so hosed that nothing moves? None of the examples you mention had every technological process stripped away everywhere at once, which is what the Marxists, idiots that they are, seem to be going for. A near-50% population reduction seems within the realm of possibility to me.

        1. when neither food nor water nor fuel gets to those cities because the supply chains are so hosed that nothing moves

          I think you need to be more explicit in step 2. Even in sieges and warzones, it’s difficult to find more than 50% dead, and generally, the higher the casualty rate, the smaller the area affected. You can’t get to billions dead by (insert any and all stupid policies here) – people move, fight back, ignore the law…

          It only works as the implicit setup for a dystopian story if you don’t press too hard on the details: Forster’s Machine Stops only if no one has any idea or desire about repair. More likely, to mix fictions, there’s a population that has skipped town for Galt’s Gulch.

          1. Remember, I’m talking about the urban population. If there’s no food in the cities, and no fuel to move food to the cities, the city dwellers can decide to “move, fight back, ignore the law” all they want; it doesn’t get the (possibly effectively nonexistent, because of fuel and fertilizer shortages or stoppages) food to them, and unless they know that supermarkets aren’t “food factories”, and know where to walk to find food, and are capable of walking there, the cities become deathtraps within a month. IIRC, the time from refinery to gas tank is around a week, so it can all happen really fast.

            AFAIK there has been no equivalent situation in the examples you note, in which the provider of most relief in the world is now the victim. Who will relieve us? The Chinese, as in “Jericho”? Not hardly; they’ll be lucky if they don’t lose 75% or more. It’s not entirely hype that “when America sneezes the world gets pneumonia”.

            Do I think all of this is particularly likely? Not really, but it won’t be for lack of trying on the part of the Marxists and their “useful idiots”, who never see the unintended consequences of their “push for Utopia” – “Destroy America and all will be roses and unicorns”.


            1. “and know where to walk to find food, and are capable of walking there”

              And can carry enough food back to make the trip a net gain, while avoiding being shot.

              1. Yep, and it applies to literally every major urban area, where the bulk of the population lives. My take (which may be in error; I’m not omniscient) would be a stituation comparable to the end of the Roman Empire, but happening *much faster (months rather than decades) and with the proviso that the barbarians also have all their necessities cut off, or at least greatly restricted, and all or most other societies are caught in the same FUBAR event. As I noted above, that sort of all-encompassing crash has never, to my knowledge, ever happened. And I sincerely hope it never does.

                  1. You didn’t forget them; WPDE used them for ‘italics on, italics off’.

                    If you want an asterisk, you have to use the HTML code: *

                    1. Nope, I’m pretty sure I forgot them. I use asterisks to generate italics for emphasis, and apparently forgot the one after “every” and the one after “much”. It should have been “…literally every major urban area…” and “…happening much faster…” (assuming I did forget, and it wasn’t YAWPSU (Yet Another Word Press Screw Up).

    2. The first ones to embrace the power of “No!” (or GFY!) will be killed or otherwise made examples of if possible: Ruby Ridge, Waco, Philadelphia, the Jan 6 political prisoners — we know what they are capable of. That won’t save them forever. What the fools don’t get is we are not merely sentient animals that can be controlled by rewards and punishments. We are sapient animals and we have legitimate grievances.

      I think it was JFK who said something like. “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.” If the Left keeps poking at the rest of us there will be a definitive response. It may be peaceful but I doubt it can be this late in the process. Adding martyrs to the mix is not going to help either side.

      In my more morose moments I just hope the butcher’s bill will not be so high we lose Western Civilization completely.

    3. Marxists believe that if you make enough martyrs from a group, you no longer have a problem with that group.

      Taken to extremes, it is true.

      Once the other side agrees, things get spicy.

  7. Heinlein? I was there when Doc Smith INVENTED Space Opera. And nobody else has really matched him. (OK…John Wright has come close)

    1. Co-invented. With Edmond Hamilton.

      Seriously, the first installments of Skylark of Space and Hamilton’s Crashing Suns are in magazines cover-dated August 1928.

      1. I think the last one I read was ‘The Skylark of Valieron’ Sorry about spelling, memory is getting a little hazy on old books a read decades ago.

      2. I’d argue that the Skylark novels were a warmup. The Lensman Series is the gold standard of Space Opera.

        Which is a surprisingly difficult form, when you really think about it. Space Opera, by definition, involves characters doing Very Important Things for Extremely High Stakes. They aren’t leading a squad of infantry in the invasion of Normandy, they are personally leading the entire invasion…or at least commanding the first wave. But good drama demands that the characters run PERSONAL risks. Their own skill and courage must be tested, not merely their ability to read a map and calmly walk the quarterdeck of their ship as the battle rages around them.

        Pulling this off is not easy. Smith managed it by dint of having the Gray Lensman be a super-man who had unique powers…and by setting much of the plot as exercises in infiltration of enemy organizations. David Weber did OK with Honor Harrington, mostly by having a command & control system that demanded personal presence of the commander…and injecting internal politics to boot. John Wright pulled it off nicely with the Golden Ocumene trilogy by having the hero possess both unique skills and unique equipment…plus a plot device that ostracized him.

        Space Opera is hard…which is why the original Star Wars movies worked OK, the prequels and sequels…not so much.

        1. Don’t forget ‘Subspace Explorers’ and ‘Subspace Encounter’. Grand Space Opera.

          I’ve always suspected he wrote ‘Subspace Explorers’ after reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’. The Little Gem Copper Mine part in particular.

        2. I was making no claims as to the quality of Skylark (I agree that the Lensmen saga is much better), merely noting that the claim to invention is, by accident, one that has to be shared. Smith actually wrote the first Skylark book circa 1920, but nobody got to read it until 1928 when it was first published.

          As for the difficulty of space opera, I could quibble over definitions and what qualifies and what doesn’t, but I’ll refrain and stick to this:

          In my view, the prequels get a bad rap. Certainly, they do not work as well as the first trilogy, nor do they quite work on their own, though they get progressively better each installment. But Lucas, for all his faults, did two things that Disney never will: he told a new story, rather than retreading what worked before; and he told a story with enormous thematic ambition, attempting both an individual tragedy and the downfall of a republic, with a surprisingly deep understanding of real history informing both. He would have been better off hiring a pro screenwriter to bring that vision to life on the page, but given how he had been burned by people he trusted so many times in the preceding two decades, I sympathize with the way he surrounded himself with yes-men, even while seeing that it’s what led him so far astray in his work.

          1. I will agree that Lucas did better than the Disney attempts at Star Wars, but that’s the sort of bar low enough that an arthritic corgi could clear it.

            My issue with the prequels can be summed up fairly quickly: At the end of Return of the Jedi, I knew exactly what a Jedi was and in what sense (or rather, what two senses) they were “returning.” At the end of Revenge of the Sith, I had only the vaguest idea what a Sith was and no understanding at all of why they were getting revenge.

            1. Yes, Lucas would have been better off writing all three scripts, revising them, working on them, and THEN shooting the movies.

              Instead of shooting last-minute first drafts, which is what he did for at least the first one. (He DID bring in another screenwriter to help with the second one, which shows a little.)

          2. I have a copy of *The Skylark of Space,” listing a woman as co-author. She apparently was supposed to add a feminine touch. She vanished before “Skylark Three,” (my personal favorite) and her additions got edited out, I think. They certainly didn’t add anything.

                1. I don’t think it helped. If you compare the Amazing text (which had her work in it) with the Pyramid text (which is the version that is the definitive current version), the Pyramid text is a better story.
                  And remember that she was only there for the beginning of the Amazing text (the part written between 1915 and 1916 — about a third of the book). When he finished it in 1919, he did it alone.

          3. I’d disagree with “nobody got to read Skylark” until 1928. Both Moskowitz (Seekers of Tomorrow) and the Lucchetti reference book on Smith agree that Argosy rejected it in 1922, so clearly Bob Davis (the editor of Argosy at the time) read it. But it certainly didn’t get read much until 1928.

            I agree completely that the Lensmen books are superior, but Skylarks (except Skylark DuQuesne, which was a sixties verson and really not consistent with the others) were a lot of fun (but get the revised version of Skylark of Space, and not the version with Garby).

            And I still prefer the 4 novel version (stating with Galactic Patrol) to the expanded six novel one. I really liked having the reader not know that there were more layers to unfold, just as Kinnison didn’t. And you lose that if you start with Triplanetary.

            I’d also include Campbell as part of a Big Three of Space Opera. Piracy Preferred was only two years later, in 1930. I could even accept a Big Four, with Williamson’s Legion of Space in 1934.

            1. Sorry, Ben, I was being a touch hyperbolic. What I meant was, not enough people had read it to create enough influence to found a genre. And I didn’t mean to imply that Skylark was bad, only that Lensmen was far better.

              Happily, the original four Lensmen novels are public domain and downloadable from Gutenberg. (And yes, this means that when I get a little bit out from under my behind-scheduleness, I’ll do new editions of them.) 😀

                1. The six novel version of the text is (slightly) different from the four novel version of the same books. Some of the text in the introductions gives away plot issues that a four-novel reader shouldn’t know (but a six-novel reader does, so it’s not giving away anything).

                  And some scenes had to be rewritten somewhat. I’ll give an example below, with a spoiler alert.

                  As I said upthread, I like how the unfolding works in the four-novel version. But I understand why Lloyd Eshbach wanted two more volumes — the sales for Fantasy Press were really wonderful — but I regret that people who didn’t read the four-novel version don’t get to see a really brilliant handling of the secret.

                  I will admit to being surprised that PG has the six novel version. I thought that the Fantasy Press text had it’s copyright renewed (and the Old Earth Books reprint says it was). And the PG versions of the last four books are the Astounding text, not the Fantasy Press text.

                  [Spoiler alert — although why I need to give one for seventy year old work is unclear]

                  For example, in the battle between Kinnison and Fossten in Second Stage Lensmen, the six-novel version makes it clear that Fossten is an Eddorian, with all of the knowledge that the reader (but not Kinnison) has about Eddore. But none of that happens in the four-novel version — we come out of the battle with nothing about Eddore, and the reader knows exactly what Kinnison does — that Fossten was a rogue Arisian.

                  1. I really like the bit in the magazine where Kinnison and the Historian discuss stuff.

                    And I agree that the magazine avoiding spoilers is superior.

                  2. Interesting info; thanks! And I’m sure that sort of “post-editing” happens more frequently than we know.

                    My first reading of the series was paperbacks from two publishers:

                    Triplanetary – Pyramid 1965
                    The other 5 – Berkley 1982

                    I may have had previous editions of the latter; I simply don’t remember, but those are what I have now (in addition to the PG ebooks).

                2. That’s interesting, since the core four only went up in the last year. Galactic Patrol went up last August. Gray Lensman went up in December. Second Stage Lensman went up on April 7, and Children of the Lens on April 6. Perhaps you got them off the Canadian site Faded Page.

                  The version of Triplanetary is the original magazine serial, unrelated to Lensmen. the only one of the book versions that is up, last I checked, was First Lensman.

                    1. Let me clarify/correct that. I noticed your “Faded Page” reference after I replied; all I noticed at first was the reference to “the Canadian site”. I had never heard of the “Faded Page”; the Canadian site I meant was Gutenberg Canada…


                      …and I almost certainly got the ebooks there, if they weren’t available on the “usual” Gutenberg site at

                    2. Would have to have been, because the copyright vetting process is totally different under Canadian law, and much simpler. “Did the author die more than 50 years ago? Yes? Good, it’s public domain.”

              1. I got Spacehounds of IPC off Gutenberg. Yes, the planetary science is completely wrong, but it was probably reasonable by the standards of the time it was written. And I like the fact that Nadia Newton is very much Steve’s partner, not screaming and clutching at every turn. (As in, in a fight with primitive aliens, while she’s inside a cave, she’s shooting at the aliens, knowing her beloved’s armor will protect him).
                Just a lot of fun.

        3. It seems that Lucas his doing his best to ruin episodes 4, 5, and 6 as well. May he serve forever as a butt boy to a cackle of dead Sith.

  8. The left is as committed to “so it was written, so shall it be” as much as The Master was in BTVS and look where that got him. “So let it be written, so let it be done” didn’t work out particularly well for Pharaoh either.

    It’s as if merely declaring something to be so doesn’t make it actually so.

    1. “Let there be light”, and there was light. A power reserved to Himself

  9. If you live in California, get out while you still can. Diesel locomotives are next on the list of evilbad carbon dioxide generators. Whether or not the proposed measures do anything about global climate change, they are going to cripple the transportation system first. I’ll let others go into the second order effects, but when people take peace and luxury for granted and those suddenly get taken away, the results are never pretty.

    1. When the first order effects are killing the patient, there’s little need to think systemically of higher-order effects – you’re not dealing with a doctor, and need to separate from such ‘medicine’

      1. The classic second-order effect of killing the patient is his relatives take their revenge.

        The second-order effect of banning diesel locomotives in California is local prices go up and lots of people lose their jobs and everyone hates the governor. Among many other higher-order effects.

        1. Shortages of everything including necessities, like food and electricity, And people won’t just blame the governor, but anyone they possible can. Woe unto those who are seen as wealthy or privileged when people are actually going hungry. People can turn feral in amazingly short order if they don’t carry their civilization on the inside, and I’m afraid that those who do are in short supply.

          1. “Every society is only three meals away from revolution” isn’t hyperbole, and apparently dates back (as an axiom) at least a couple of thousand years.

  10. I just saw the Jesse Watters man person-on-the-street interview segment. ‘Progressives’ in New York complaining about the crime, the high prices, the taxes, the feral ‘homeless’…and then most of them said they’d vote for Biden again.

    I got nuthin’. Just nuthin’. I can’t imagine any way to communicate with somebody that disconnected from reality. Communing with the spirits of the dead would be trivial by comparison.

    1. I know an older couple actually selling their home on Maui and moving to San Francisco, cant fix stupid, not really sure what they think they will find.

      1. They might find fewer volcanoes, although the way CA has been going, the Mammoth Mountain/ Long Valley caldera complex yawning wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  11. I honestly don’t understand this “So it is written, so it must be” mentality. I mean…. Murder has been illegal in most societies ever, and it still hasn’t stopped, so the heck actually do they think?

    The term you are looking for is “wordcel”.

    1. That labels the people but does not describe the (ersatz) thought process.

      The term for the thought process, if I can get it to catch on, is ‘Hypernominalism’.

      In epistemology, for those who may not happen to be up on it, there are Realists and there are Nominalists. A Realist holds that well-formed nouns (‘man’, ‘dog’, ‘chair’, ‘electron’ for instance) refer to identifiable classes of real things. Nominalists claim that the words are just arbitrary labels and the things cannot be classified.

      This latter view would come as a great surprise to a member of the class ‘dog’, who can recognize other dogs by sight and smell and tell them from non-dogs without using words at all. Doubly so to any member of the class ‘electrical engineer’, who knows that one electron is just as good as another when it comes time to switch the lights on, and that no man, dog, chair, or woozle can be substituted for electrons in that particular application.

      Hypernominalists (of which we now have far too many) go a step further. They believe that only the words exist, and that the things are, in some mystical way, projections from the words. This school owes something to Wittgenstein, who attempted to reduce all philosophy to word games, and something to Chomsky, who attempted to reduce all language to grammar games – in both cases, leaving the concept of meaning by the wayside. You can see its full rank flower in the kind of loon who thinks that changing his pronouns from ‘he/him’ to ‘she/her’ instantly transforms his biological identity right down to the cellular level; or the race-baiter who claims that ‘math is racist’ and that 2+2 can equal 5 if enough people say so.

      I knew a man once who claimed that he could step off the top of a skyscraper and fly, if not for the bad thoughts of all the evil people who wished for him to fall. This is Hypernominalism in its most obvious and silly form. Few people would go so far, if only because they are afraid of being laughed at. But give them abstractions to work with, or systems too complex for the unaided eye to take in at a single glance, and there is no limit to the stupidity they will spew or swallow.

      1. And they live among us. And they vote. And there seem to be more of them every day… 😦

          1. Unfortunately, most of the Hypernominalists perform well above average on IQ tests. They have no problem manipulating symbols (which is what IQ tests chiefly test for). It’s reality that they can’t handle, and therefore don‘t believe in.

            Natural dullness protects one wonderfully against the higher forms of stupidity.

            1. The bell curve for IQ and the bell curve for rationality are not congruent, or (IMHO) even very close.

              1. I don’t think there is a bell curve for rationality. Everyone starts at zero, and many people never take their brains out of the shrink wrap to move along the curve: which suggests it’s a Pareto distribution. The more society punishes people for being rational, the more steeply the curve drops off.

                The mass of unreasoning people simply follow the leaders and parrot their opinions: which works well enough when the leaders are sane and have proved it by earning some form of success in the real world. Alas, it doesn’t work at all when the leaders are insane and have never accomplished anything beyond giving each other high-fives in their echo chamber.

                1. I believe you have a valid point, or actually points. My selection of a Gaussian distribution assumed random, which the distribution of rationality demonstrably is not, and the “follow the leader” mindset denies rationality almost completely, especially when done unthinkingly. Thanks!

      2. And then throw in the Deconstructionists, who added the wrinkle that not only are all “narratives” just word games, all narratives are also deliberately formed in order to bolster structures of oppression.

        Somehow, that narrative gets exempted from the rule in a sort of inverse “all Cretans are liars”. Of course, we know that leftists always project, so I submit that the “all narratives support oppression” narrative is itself intended to oppress. Ptui.

  12. Being not yet retired, I still have dealings with a US “4-letter agency” that’s supposed to be concerned with WMD and “Emerging Threats”. I keep getting crossways with people who think a threat isn’t “emerging” until after it has emerged (i.e., someone has placed it in a military inventory with the words “Keep off the WEAPON!” painted on the side.

    Me: “This is possible.”
    They: “But ‘they’ haven’t done that yet.”
    Me: “But they could! If I can conceive of it, certainly ‘they’ could do so!”
    They: “Right! Now, where’s that phone number for the insider threat hotline?”

      1. I freaked people in my corner of Army logistics out at least once by arguing for hard copy/tyvek versions of at least the start-up procedures on the basis of, “if they use a neutron bomb, maybe our next unit can toss out the bodies and see if any of the electronics survived.”

        They didn’t want to think about, “tossing out the bodies,” or even that there would be bodies.

    1. I ran into the same sort of mentality in my 40 years of Federal service. The idea of being ahead of the power curve never occurred to them.

  13. Amazing how many people use the background build-up to argue about the aesthetics of a modern fable. Oh well. Also, as far as wiling reality goes, why does anyone still say “Joe Biden did such and such”, or “Joe Biden is going to do this thing”? Every one in the world, especially the Chinese and the Russians, knows he is not making any decisions. And who is? And who has their finger on the “Red Button”? It could matter.

    1. What is amazing is that you expect us to type EVERY TIME “Whoever is controlling Joe Biden”
      I presume China. The red button is immaterial. They don’t want to get nuked, and neither of our opponents seem to have nukes that work. (Yes, I could explain, but it would take a long time.)
      What’s more important is that they’re destroying us from inside.

      1. “Biden’s ventriloquists” isn’t too hard to type. 😛

        A traditional vaudeville show has one ventriloquist with two or three dummies. The Washington version has half a dozen ventriloquists squabbling over the one dummy. No wonder the Pretendent seems schizophrenic.

          1. I’ve been using FICUS, but after the power plant deal, I’m slipping to FJB. (LGB is a ship that sailed and sunk for me, I’m afraid, barring very unlikely circumstances.)

    1. Oh, it will, it will. And none of it will have pictures of cross-dressers on the cans. In fact, none of it will be in cans at all (blecchhh!). 🙂

      1. $SPOUSE and I were watching an old Inspector Morse episode. He was visiting with some people who were celebrating. He was offered beer or orange juice. After glancing at the can (some fictional(?) but Gawdawful looking brand name), he asked for the OJ. I loved that bit.

        Same episode where he had flowers one afternoon and a huge smile on his face the next morning. [grin] Interestingly enough, zero murders in that one, too. “Fat Chance” in season 5.

    1. There is, but their website only works in Google Chrome.
      Seems like there’s no place like Chrome for the Hollandaise.

  14. I honestly don’t understand this “So it is written, so it must be” mentality. I mean…. Murder has been illegal in most societies ever, and it still hasn’t stopped, so the heck actually do they think?

    “Making it against the law doesn’t make it stop, so start feathering the definition” and similar nonsense.

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