20th Century Puzzle

About ten years ago, someone pointed out that for wars and governments massacring their own people, alone –leaving aside changes in the way things are made and done that meant great dislocations for people, perhaps as high as what took place throughout the three centuries of the industrial revolution — the 20th century was as “bad” as the 14th.

Not exactly wrong, except that the 20th century also saw a marked standard of living worldwide. (So did the 14th, but that’s mostly because for a little while the population dipped.)

Honestly, it’s part of what has fostered the idea that central government is good.

As I’ve said before, part of the reason Obamacare never got wildly popular is that it came later than other socialized medicine. If you try to talk to citizens from other countries about their — 1930s vintage — socialized medicine, they’ll tell you it’s wonderful because look at how many people died before.

What they’re missing of course is the massive improvement in MEDICINE itself, which meant fewer people were going to die, no matter how administered, and that (looking at used-to-be-relatively-free, though not free-free US healthcare) the improvement might have been much bigger without the statist impairment.

In the same way, there was massive improvement in feeding and keeping the masses alive in the 20th century, and it’s easy to think it was due to centralized nation-states, and regulations interfering with manufacturing, worker’s conditions, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.

The fact is that it wasn’t that.

This dawned on me because I’m doing world building on a re-barbarized world.

They were a lost colony (with unique and massive handicaps that would have made it bad anyway) but most of the adults died, when the ship crashed. The few remaining barely got the first generation of kids to adulthood. So, high tech to primitive with a hammer, in two generations.

However, my Earth-like character is flabbergasted because they are a barbarian society, but at the same time they have a certain level of prosperity and ease of acquiring rare and out of season foods that means they are better fed/clothed/housed than any barbarians should be.

The answer is simple. They developed sideways-methods of world wide transportation.

Part of what fed and clothed and lifted the 20th century well above the historic mean was the ability to travel/cheap transport/mechanized manufacturing/refrigeration.

Now some of those might be the result of government research due to the wars. Heinlein thought so. But no one has proved — nor can it be proven, absent travel to a parallel world — that the same discoveries wouldn’t have happened without the super-states and crazy wars of the 20th century.

Yeah, I can’t prove otherwise either, obviously, but looking at how government does things and what it’s good at… I have theories. And doubts.

At any rate, there is a good chance that where science was in the late nineteenth, we were due for a major kick in the transportation, manufacturing, improvements in production and distribution areas. And that the 20th would be prosperous anyway.

But it makes you wonder how prosperous it would be without governments that interfered in everything and consumed vast amounts of wealth in huge wars. I mean, unless you subscribe to the broken window fallacy, you know that wealth and effort could go to something more productive. Perhaps we’d have outer space colonies by now.

What no one can dispute is that these days government has turned sour. It’s trying to undo all the sources of prosperity, starting with transportation and manufacturing, and it has a massive war (in the name of the weather, at that) on things that work, from flushing toilets to dishwashers. (The later matters because freedom from domestic drudgery created more labor able to pursue innovation and ease of manufacturing.)

It’s time to realize that what we have, likely, isn’t owed to big government and top down command.

And even if it were, the gains possible from that are all gone. At this point central-point governments over vast territories seem determined to make their people starve in the dark.

If we’re going to rebarbarize — we’re not — we can do it on our own. And they’re doing nothing to help civilization.

It’s time to clip their wings and their sphere of influence. This might be difficult abroad. They’re free to debate how small government should be.

We KNOW. It’s right there in the constitution. And let’s stop widening the commerce clause, till — like a tent — it covers the universe.

The federal government should protect the border, negotiate with foreign powers, and intervene in disputes between the states. Leave everything else to the states, the cities, the individuals.

And get out of our way.

We’ll get to the stars on our own.

The prosperity of the 20th century is not due to government (More than likely.) But the wars that filled mass graves, and the totalitarian governments that filled even more are.

The blue model of everything through and form the government is passing away. It is our job to kick it on the rear on the way out.

Be not afraid.

188 thoughts on “20th Century Puzzle

  1. “The blue model of everything through and form the government is passing away. It is our job to kick it on the rear on the way out.”

    An outcome the Reader hopes for even though he doesn’t expect to see it in his lifetime. We often observe Heinlein’s comment on ‘bad luck’ here, but his comment doesn’t get to the heart of why the centralizing delusion holds so much sway over the human heart. The Reader has pondered that but has no claim on understanding. He simply observes that it does and dislodging that hold before the death throes of the blue model do real damage to humanity is going to be hard. Suggestions welcome.

    1. The drive toward big, centralized government is the same thing that causes people to give up their freedom for a little security – it’s a short-sighted survival drive. And it’s why the BIG GOVERNMENT types seem to thrive the more disasters they create.

  2. I’m sure that it has a more formal name, but I call the idea that only government can do a thing (provide healthcare, take care of the poor, educate children, etc.) and that anyone opposed to the government doing something is necessarily opposed to that thing the Progressive Fallacy.

    1. It’ll do until either the actual name or a better one comes along to describe that and the ideas that lead to said fallacy, namely if the government doesn’t do the thing either nobody will do the thing or greed will ruin the thing so it has to be the government who isn’t motivated by dirty profits. There’s a lot wrong with those ideas, I know, yet it’s what I keep hearing when people work their way up to the fallacy.

      1. “Government is just a name for things we do together”
        I don’t even remember what topic we were debating whether a US federal agency should regulate when I heard this whopper. Facepalm.

        A good government may have customs against it being a personal enrichment vehicle, but it’s not guaranteed. And even then, it’s not as if a government doesn’t have distinct motivations that may not align with what you want. To say nothing of all the other social organizations – family, club, tribe, party, church, etc that might work together in the social sphere. It’s a definition that can’t even account for jurisdiction and federalism.

        But it accounts for the Government syllogism:
        “We must do something!”
        “This is something.”
        “Therefore, we must do this.”

        And any naysayers or pause to think are anti-social haters, trolls, and want children to die.
        We have to pass it to see what’s in it.

        1. “Government is just a name for the things we do together.”
          “Nothing above the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”
          “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

          One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn’t belong.

    2. I don’t have a name but I do have a quote for you:

      “We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

      Frederic Bastiat, The Law

      1. Democrats: Your one-stop-shop for ideas that have been discredited for two hundred years.

    3. Of course government has to (e.g.) pave the roads – they’ve made it illegal for anyone else to do so. Even paving your own driveway requires a mother-may-I permit from the government.

      And that’s one of the tricks the government uses to create the illusion that it’s doing a “pretty good job”: Deny any real sort of comparison. It’s easy to cast your critics as woolly weirdos when you can restrict their arguments to theory, and their examples to outre cases that only occurred long ago or far away.

      It’s easy to show that government action has to be the right answer when you have the power to outlaw all the other possible answers.

  3. Sort of tangential to this – I have read in several places that Britain’s NHS was seen as such a wonderful thing, post-WWII, not because of glorious universal free health care did so much for the sick and injured; the success of it was more due to the development and availability of effective antibiotics and vaccinations. Just having those antibiotics and vaccines available prevented many deaths and chronic lingering illnesses like TB. Everyone was thrilled to bits that people survived who would have died previously – and gave large credit to the NHS, when it was really medical advances generally which should have been credited.

    1. Yes. If you compare the “deaths from infection” rates in Britain and the US from that period, you can watch them drop in parallel. Granted, when it started, the NHS was an improvement in access for people who couldn’t afford a private physician and were not located where they could get to a charity clinic. But that initial bump up in quality and access has passed.

      1. I suspect that there is a similar connection in people’s minds between the civil rights acts and the Great Society programs, and that some think if we shrink the welfare state it will bring back segregation. 🙄

        1. Well, since the same groups are busy expanding the Welfare State and bringing back segregation…;-)

    2. Very good point. As we old statisticians say, “Correlation does not mean causation” (although it does imply it). We always say that because it’s human nature to attribute cause to correlation. That’s why superstitions take root. It’s pavlovian. The bell has nothing to do with the delivery of food other than the dispenser of food chooses to ring the bell before delivering it. See cargo cult.

      1. Nitpick: Correlation does not even imply causation, absent more context. You can run a bunch of random number generators and pick one that matches your data set.
        Causation implies correlation if you have the right data.

      1. My father was prescribed penicillin after he broke his collar bone in Army Air Force training*. (Not sure why the antibiotic; Dad didn’t get into details.) He had a reaction to the med, and the state of the (AAF doctors’) art was such that the next bit was to give him more penicillin. Dad survived. The moral to that story escapes me.

        The delay might have caused him to go to Okinawa with the 8th AF rather than the end of the European basing. It did get him out of chemical warfare as a MOS; draftsman was his trade and easier on the nerves.

        (*) Perfect parachute landing fall my ass.

  4. The phrase ‘rebarbarize’ comes with a giant pile of bodies. Just have the reader think of themself for a moment. Did you ever have surgery to correct a life-threatening condition?
    Did your birth come with any complications? Got all your childhood vaccinations against the dozen or so diseases that laid waste to the country every year, from polio to diptheria to typhoid? Ever get a tetanus shot? Have your appendix out? Are you on a medication to keep a medical condition from killing you? Ever had to have your wisdom teeth removed? Are you fit enough to work 14-hour days gathering wood and food to survive the winter? If you broke your leg, do you have a family structure solid enough to keep you alive while you recover? Can you use a weapon to defend yourself against wild animals? Feral humans who want what you have? Do you even have any weapons?

    We Romanized the Middle Ages, but 95% of the people worked brutal lives in just these conditions so 100% of the people could eat, or at least not starve. Living past childhood was a struggle, and past forty, rare. I hope we never go back down that ladder, because it took far too much clawing and climbing to get onto this rung, and there’s still so far to go up until we can reach the stars. And keep climbing.

    1. A quick look at the average skeleton from a medieval grave yard shows just how stinkin’ hard life was for most people. The spinal and joint stress, even in otherwise healthy people, is like that of modern 70-80+ year olds. What’s amazing are the injuries people actually recovered from and kept going for years after.

    2. your birth come with any complications?

      Heck. If a birth had complications odds were both the mother and baby died. Wives always have tended to outlive their husbands, if and only if they survived childbearing years. Usually child after child whether the child survived infancy and the childhood illness.

      1. Agreed – I am just old enough to remember seeing the last wave of child victims of polio, before the effective vaccines. Children a few years older than me, in clumsy leg-braces, or small wheelchairs … yes, my grandparents were all adamant in reminding my mother to have my younger brother and I vaccinated against polio.
        I am also just old enough to remember regular mass-screening for TB, while I was in elementary school.

        1. I was young enough to miss seeing the polio victims, but we got the vaccine late 1960 or the next year. The TB screening was in the late ’50s.

          And yes to surgery that was either life saving or preventing me from being a cripple. 14 hour days? Ask me a couple-three decades ago. If we lose electricity, we’re covered for a lot. If propane goes out, we have trouble, but it’d be survivable. I think we’re reasonably safe from urban barbarians; the rural variety? Depends.

    3. I am quite pessimistic about a fall back to medieval technology ever recovering. If you look at the history of technology, you will see it started with exploiting easily accessible resources. A portion of those were use to mine harder to get resources and so forth. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

      While we might be able scavenge material from the remains of the cities, I think the real problem will be energy. There is lots of oil in the Earth’s crust but I am not aware of any significant source that would be available to medieval tech. We are not going to build starships with windmills and charcoal forges.

      1. The Reader notes that there is plenty of coal…

        What is important is to maintain the human spirit and knowledge of what has been done. Human ingenuity is not path dependent.

        1. Fair enough. I don’t know enough about coal mining to respond intelligently.

        1. I do know about steam powered drilling but I dismissed it because they were used to drill shallow wells. Less than 2000 feet as I recall and very there are not many oil deposits in that depth range any more. However, the move to diesel may have been because it was more convenient and cheaper than the steam engines of the time. Diesel’s dominance as drilling tech became more capable is an accident of history. I do know a bit about steam power and there is no reason a steam engine cannot meet or exceed the output — horsepower and torque — of an IC or turbine engine.

          Food for thought.

          1. I think it’s because drilling is a process with lots of starts and stops, and diesel engines handle that better. It takes a few minutes to start a diesel engine and get it up to full power, but hours to do the same for a steam engine. When my son served on the Navy steamship USS Camden, he would be called in 24 hours before a scheduled departure to begin slowly and carefully heating up the boilers, so there was no thermal stress from some parts heating faster than others. It might be possible to cut that to 1 or 2 hours in an emergency such as learning the port was about to be bombed, but the thermal stress would reduce the life of the boilers – or for an ancient ship like the Camden, risk a catastrophic failure.

            Once started, you can instantly throttle a diesel back to a slow idle that uses very little fuel, and put it back to full power in a few seconds. A steam engine can shut down quickly, but you will probably have to release excess steam to the atmosphere, wasting the fuel used to heat it. If you want to keep it ready to turn back on quickly, you have to keep the boiler at full heat, which I think uses much more fuel than an idling diesel.

            On the other hand, steam engine fuel is usually cheaper. Most diesels only work with a light oil fuel such as kerosene; heavier fuels clog the injectors. Steam engines can be rigged to use anything that burns, natural gas, solid fuels from wood scraps and straw to coal, and any liquid fuel. The most common fuel for steamships since around 1910 is oil so they didn’t need men shoveling coal, but mostly it’s “bunker oil”. This is the relatively cheap petroleum fraction just below asphalt – it’s between solid and liquid on a warm day, and has to be heated to be pumped. So they start the boilers with kerosene and vent steam through heating pipes in the main fuel tanks to melt the bunker oil.

            So it’s possible that in powering a drilling rig, the lower efficiency of steam would be outweighed by the lower fuel cost, IF it’s impractical to get a high-power connection to the electric grid and you aren’t considering anything but the fuel cost. But there are other factors when you are drilling at a remote site. You have diesel trucks, cranes, bulldozers, etc., so you have to truck diesel out to the site. If it’s a long way from any gas station, you also have to truck gasoline out there for cars and light equipment. Would you want to truck in a third fuel, one that has to be melted or shoveled to get it out of the delivery truck?

        2. We still get most of our energy from steam engines, we just temporarily convert it to electricity. Hell, our nuclear reactors are just boilers heated with a different kind of fuel.
          Natural selection — making the world a better place, one idiot at a time.

    4. Speaking of which, I’m probably due for a Tetanus booster. See, I’m not anti-vaxx, just don’t try to sell me on your experimental and minimally effective gene therapy.

      1. Just got mine. And pneumonia. And Shingrix. But they can take their experimental mRNA non-vaccines and use them as personal suppositories.

        My only real concern is if they implement “multiple mRNA in [flu, etc.] annual vaccines”, as has been proposed. If there’s an indication they’ve done that I’ve gotten my last flu shot.

  5. Hmm. better 3d printers, cheap Arduino/Pi controllers, anyone looked at improving some of these “improved/more efficient” designs? I know one can make an ECU for a car or what from freeware and cheap computing hardware. iirc something like a Haltec is cheaper to buy that a lot of OEM ECUs.

    1. All those devices are dependent on the existence of ‘obsolete’ semiconductor processes around 28 nm. While obsolete, they still require a pretty high tech base to operate. The Reader thinks it may be time to stockpile those controllers instead of buying more ammunition.

  6. Oh. Which means the reason my ring is still stuck in lower tech, despite having dealt with the thing that kept hammering it back to the stone age and having nominal access to the greater world, is because they have not yet rebuilt the transportation systems, and anything short of space hopping are still largely hosed.

    Even basic navigation sucks because there’s no magnetic fields. Haven’t dug in enough to know if it would even be possible to use star nav on a rotating body orbiting a planet either.

    At the time of the setting they’re are very much in a state of figuring out where things are via ground feature navigation, and then having to decide if whatever it is is currently worth running a more permanent road/rail to. There are likely at least some space side docks, and I’d expect those to get at least some traffic and traffic between them, but there’s not a lot of outside incentive for industrial expansion, so it’s mostly the locals pushing outward from their pockets. And if their spot isn’t near a port, they’re largely on their own.

    But they are largely in the 1800’s because that is largely where their transportation is at. And any region that gets a rail link to the space port network sees a sudden and swift rise in standard of living.

  7. As little faith as the people now have in government, not just here but abroad. Europe is on fire, the American cities are on fire and being looted into oblivion. The majority of the people are giving up on government. Vigilantism is on the rise, and those in power are seeing that false power erode away. The push for gun control by the left is not to protect the people, but themselves from an armed populace. Yes, the Elite Control freaks are losing, but make no mistake they are not going down without a fight. The whole chaos on the southern border and collapse of the economy is to punish the people for turning against them. I hope and pray we get out of it without the burning torches. pitchforks, and hangings that are a historical precedent in these cases. But I fear a world wide Bastille Day is coming, fear because an angry mob is not that hard to incite when the people are as angry as they now are. Look at France, they had Victory in Europe day to an empty Arch De Triumph out of fear of the people. A not so quiet revolution is taking place wherever honest elections occur. The the Elite Control Freaks are starting to panic, when that panic turns to desperation, sanity will leave the room. All bets are off on what happens next. Keep your powder dry and your head on a swivel.

  8. At least 2 major technologies of the 20th century are driven by the wars/ Government level competition. First are Aircraft which seem a straightforward case. In 1913 aircraft are crude and slow and very delicate (primarily of variations on Wright flyer and Douglas/Bleriot biplanes, Sikorsky in Russia being a big exception). By the end of WWI Fighter aircraft are majorly improved (though to attribute it to government other than by throwing money at it seems dubious). In the 20’s/30’s national competition via air races makes some advances, commercial use also starts to affect the larger aircraft. WWII moves the monoplane forward and brings the helicopter and jet engine into aviation. Again not directly Government but throwing money at it seems to have accelerated things (especially jet engines). And then the cold war drives aircraft hard, mixed with air travel (Comet and 707 add lots to that) .

    The other one is computation/miniaturization. WWII starts to drive this for code breaking and that gets lots of the folks interested in it in the same place physically which is important. Similarly ballistic calculations and signals analysis for Radar start to drive computation needs. Ballistic Missiles/Spacecraft (and at the start the hardware is one and the same, Redstone/Atlas/Titan for us, the Soviet SS-6 is effectively the current Soyuz launch hardware) need reduced weight computation hardware and ways to do navigation (especially inertial navigation, even megaton class weapons need to be place closer than 5mi/10km to be useful as other than terror weapons). Advances like the transistor and integrated circuits aren’t directly due to military need, but once it starts showing itself useful it kind of becomes a feedback loop as each advance in the technology makes it clear that with a slight push we can get more and on it goes. Once you get into the 70’s commercial stuff seems to drive it more, but still things flow back and forth though the predominance once you get to the 90’s is personal electronics pushing the envelope and the military benefiting from that rapid advance. Government again mostly is useful by providing initial funding/capital. Planning fails horribly. For examples see Japan’s MITI or Digital, Sun, SGI, Wang, Prime, Data General etc, etc ad infinitum.

    Would we have computers without the cold war? I would say highly likely. Would the initial phase have gone as fast as it did? Probably not, without the desperate need for weapons to counter what we believed the opponent was doing and space advances to show we were better (Essentially war by other means, with smaller death counts). It’s really a almost a Sci Fi trope that you don’t push humans into a corner, in this case there is some reality behind it and traditionally Americans have been particularly prone to solve problems thought unsolvable.

    1. The gains in aviation during WW I were all low hanging fruit once the aviation community got past ‘the only way to steer this thing is to warp the ailerons’. Low wing all metal aircraft with retractable landing gear were the products of the 20’s and 30’s and the military planes leading into WW II were all derivatives of this model. The MacDonald Douglass DC1-DC3 series and the Boeing 247 were the results of these advances. In fact the military was late to some of these advances. The predecessor of the Navy’s F4F Wildcat and F-6F Hellcat was the FF1 biplane designed by Northrop for the Navy in 1931. Most of the major fighter designs of all the WW II combatants existed before the war. Many were improved by better engines during the war without any substantial changes. See the P51 Mustang, the later models of the P47 Thunderbolt and later models of the Spitfire as examples.

      1. US air racing drove demand for very high octane gasoline, which gave us a huge WW2 advantage in aircraft engine performance for a given weight.

      2. P-51 was designed in 1940; WWII was already in progress. US direct participation in the conflict wouldn’t start ’til the next year.

        1. And it’s initial version used the same naturally aspirated Allison engine the P-40 Warhawk had. It was good at low level, but above 15K was a dog. We sold a bunch to the UK and they wedged the Rolls-Royce Merlin from latee model Spitfires into it which was a major improvement . SImilarly the P-47 was a variant of the P-43 Lancer which was determined to be to underpowered/poor performing compared to the ME-109 and FW190 then common in the Luftwaffe’s use in 1940. The P-47 was wrapped around the Pratt&Whitney R2800 double wasp engine with a massive integral supercharger. Its first flight was may 1941 so legalistically before US entry to the war, but it’s evolution from the Lancer was driven by the performance of the German aircraft being faced by the RAF in Hurricanes and (early) Spitfires compared to (known/expected) US examples (P40, P-39, p38, f4f wildcat).

    2. The one thing the government did for aircraft development was to cut through the Gordian knot of aviation patents. So many entities had patents on various bits of aviation technology that nobody could build an airplane without being sued from six different directions. The government nationalized all those patents in the interest of National Defense.

      Oh, wait, the patent office is part of the government, isn’t it? So, they were just cleaning up their own mess. Never mind…
      The U.S. Capitol is OUR house. Congresscritters are just the help.

      1. Although the US congress did set US post WWI aviation back by requiring the store of liberty engines created near the end of the war to be used up. It was a mediocre engine when initially built but by the mid ’20s it was akin to sticking a 486 in a modern laptop.

    3. The initial drive for developing the Internet was from the government researching a network that could work around the damage from an attack that knocked out lots of communications nodes. But it stayed as a limited-access (to government and universities, mainly) network until it was opened up to private commercial access. Then it exploded into the communications infrastructure we have today due to the needs/wants/desires of the private sector.

      1. …and the government has been trying to put it back under their control ever since. See the Ministry Of Truth Disinformation Governance Board they tried to float a while ago, and their constant interference in ‘social media’. FBI assets on the staffs of Twitter and Farcebook, anyone?

        1. I remember looking at that name and shaking my head. How could they not see how obvious they are being? I was sure the first article I saw with the name must have been the Bee, but it wasn’t. Department of Disinformation? Really?

          1. Notice that in Orwell, they had the gumption to lie outright. Reality? They — weaseled.

              1. …and pretending to fight ‘disinformation’ by spreading disinformation is a glaring example of Doublespeak.
                “The punishments for lying to the government are severe. Why, then, are there no penalties at all when the government lies to us? That seems to me much the more serious offense. The government can do far, far more damage by lying to us than any of us can do by lying to the government.”

                1. Technically, the ‘January 6th Commission’ COULD have been seeking the truth…
                  Technically, ‘gun control’ COULD mean fairly enforcing the existing laws…
                  Technically, ‘immigration reform’ COULD mean properly administering the border…
                  “A trial is a legal proceeding in which evidence is presented and examined impartially to determine the truth. You do not seek truth in this hearing; your only purpose is to perpetuate lies which you find useful.”

    4. As best as I can tell, the semiconductor invention was private party (Bell Labs), though once silicon transistors came out and integrated circuits were possible, government money made a lot of progress faster.

      Curiously, one of the bigger drivers for improved IC performance was incorporating them in automobiles. The Mil Spec high temp is usually 125 C, while a late 1970s Dodge wanted ICs to work at 140 degrees. Satellite usage also contributed a lot to improved quality; when you can’t send a spare, there’s some incentive to make it work more reliably.

      1. Indeed the Transistor was Bell Labs. Inventors were Bardeen, Bratain and Shockley. Bell Labs is part of the government authorized Telephone monopoly. Bell Labs does lots of basic research but some of its funding was US government (likely some of it black funding). ICs come out of Fairchild via Noyce (and a parallel development at Texas Instruments, Fairchilds was more easily manufactured). Fairchild was a major supplier for military contracts, E.G. its first transistors were sold for $150 each to IBM to make the computers for the two experimental XB-70 Valkyrie bombers. So neither is explicitly government, but certainly government money helped. In addition once the ideas were there the main initial need for ICs to improve was for missile/spacecraft guidance. At some point it they become cheap enough that the technology starts to move into consumer/comercial realms. Transistors early (I know I had a cheap knock off of the Sony transistor radio as a kid) in radio and later TV, IC’s start show up all over the place by late 60’s early 70’s. Did the government plan this? Hell No, the government couldn’t plan a brew up at a beer house without screwing it up. But the (cost plus!!!) contracts and the money behind them created plenty of incentive to drive the change.

        1. The Lockheed P-95 satellite program (think Keyhole spy sats) drove a lot of quality improvements. (Perhaps not hard enough, but “close enough for government work”.) I worked at Defunct Semiconductor Company in the mid-70s, and that was pushing their technology to the limit. DSC made circuits for the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned seatbelt interlock circuit. The first shipment failed incoming QA at the auto manufacturer and the parts were returned with prejudice. There was no second shipment. In a sane world, Lockheed wouldn’t have gone near us for the sat chips. OTOH, we had some great designs. Too bad we couldn’t really make them very well. 🙂

          Years ago, IEEE Spectrum had an article on the first portable transistor radio. Circa 1954 says Wiki. Remarkable feat, though quite expensive for then; $49.95. Wiki has much of the content under Regency_TR-1.

          1. “…we had some great designs. Too bad we couldn’t really make them very well.”

            I worked at Big Defense Contractor, and we had the same problem. As has been noted about one car manufacturer, “Great designs; crappy production” (direct quote from the customer rep, but we all already knew it). The Defense unit was sold to a major aircraft company, who did know how to run production while keeping cutting-edge design; best thing that ever happened. 🙂

  9. Re: the late 1800s, we weren’t just “due for a major kick in the transportation, manufacturing, improvements in production and distribution,” we were already in the middle of one.

    Railroads, steamships, and the telegraph had already freed us from limits that had been in place since the domestication of beasts of burden and the invention of the wheel. In the last quarter of that century, almost all of what we usually think of as 20th/21st century advancements were already underway: internal combustion engines were in the early invention stages; oil drilling and refinement technologies were ramping up; people were feverishly working on powered flight; telephones were on the way; and so was the electrification of the world.

    Are there any lines of technological advancement right now (aside from digital) that weren’t already being worked on in some form 130+ years ago? I can’t think of any…

    1. A lot of biosciences did not have the base knowledge to exist 130 years ago. Genetic modification for example. Yes it’s almost like cross breeding etc. but it actually isn’t and it works a lot faster.

      Anything (e.g. semiconductors) that uses quantum mechanics is the same

      1. A woman did chemistry in 1960s, got her degree, went back for her masters in the 1980s and started a presentation on protein synthesis explaining that during her bachelor’s studies, they had known RNA had something to do with protein synthesis.

        1. But if they had started a protein analysis on a 1960’s computer, it would still have been running in the 1980’s. 😛

          A 1980’s computer could run the same analysis in a few hours.

          Today, a $75.00 Raspberry Pi could run it in a few seconds.

          I got the biggest Raspberry Pi, with 8 GB of RAM. I think that’s more computer memory than existed in the whole world in the 1960’s.
          At my house, the ‘things that go bump in the night’ are cats.

          1. We got our first home computer ( IBM PC – 5150 ) in 1980.
            Dad was and IBMer, and had done s/360 installs in the mid 60s.
            I remember finding him at the table with the new computer and its parts spread before him, looking at the spec sheet and shaking his head.
            He had installed a s/360 in 1964 for America Airlines to run their nation wide reservation system on.
            The PC on the table had the same processor and memory specs as that s/360.

        2. Yeah, computing really relied on semiconductors to get going. Digital computers were largely electromechanical through WW 2, though vacuum tubes would have been necessary for analog computers (good for ballistic computing), but they both benefited from the 1947 transistor invention.

          Integrated circuits came out in the late ’50s, and these made for better computers, which helped make better ICs. Kind of a life-spiral for that. The first computer I saw in person belonged to our high school; a box about the size of four refrigerators, complete with 8K of core memory. The four tape drives were each the height and width of a ‘fridge, but maybe half the depth. (As I recall, the usual capacity of a large tape reel was about 25Mbytes; we used them for our testers until the early 1980s. OTOH, those machines were new in 1965.)

          The computer that replaced the school one was maybe half the size. I think it had two hard drives, each good for 5Mb. This was 1969 or so. Memory was 96Kb (32K base, plus another fridge-sized rack for the 64K addon).

          The IBM 360s at various places fit in rooms the size of a small grocery store. Not sure how big the room that HP replaced its Amdahl (IBM clone of the 360) with servers was, but there was a chunk of spare space at corporate for a while. Then people figured out more cool things we could do with a bit more computing power. And so on.

          I think it was in The Door Into Summer. “When it’s time to railroad, you can railroad.” Key technologies have to be in place for other key technologies to work, but then the synergism can have a field day. It helps when government stays out of the way. They can help. Sometimes. Occasionally a lot. Frequently they hurt or stifle “for the greater good”. Spit.

          1. At least doing the math a 6250 BPI (bytes Per Inch, 9 track means 8 bits data 1 bit parity) tape of 2400′ yields 180000000 bytes or ~171.5 Mib so right order of magnitude. Matches my memory of system backups 2 tapes to do a 330Mb RP-06 drive that was mostly full. Yes 10 14″ platters in a $5K disk pack in a $30K+ machine for 330 Mb. I’ve got USB sticks bigger than that…The world has changed…

            1. I remember working at a place where we had a VAX 11/750 with 4 MB of RAM and two $12,000 Fujitsu Eagle 350 MB hard drives. That was a killer system! The sysop let tape backups run overnight because it took about 6 hours per tape.

              One of the programmers was presented with the 1989 Disk Hog Award — a shiny gold plastic pig on a trophy base — for having around 200 MB of junk in his home directory, mostly old versions of software.

              Today, you can’t get a USB stick that small. I just got two 256 GB USB3 FLASH sticks for $22. Going to use one of them to finally properly organize my music collection on a Raspberry Pi with 8GB of RAM.

              1. I’m using 64Gb sticks for the vehicle MP3s, though a 32 would almost fit. OTOH, neither the Subaru nor the Honda have a friendly way of accessing directories, so I’m planning on culling artists I don’t like*, and possibly putting multiple albums in one directory. That will either require renaming the files (uggh!) or coming up with a better HD to USB stick copy script**. That’s not too hard.

                (*) Keyboard magazine recommended Tori Amos, and in a fit of optimism, I bought a few of her albums. Good to great piano work, with the first song I heard (been a while) sounding like Yoko Ono did the vocals. Curiously, that was the last song I heard. 🙂

                (**) Doing a dumb cp -r Disk_dir USB_dir copies the files in a pseudo-random order. The vehicle systems assume it’s first loaded, first played, so the sequences are odd. Tough when the songs need to be in order…

                1. neither the Subaru nor the Honda have a friendly way of accessing directories

                  Santa Fe access the directories fine. Just doesn’t do a good random where it actually hits everything before repeating. Haven’t done it yet but need to pull the songs out of the album subdirectory to the main directory to see if improves the situation, or not.

                  1. Both vehicles have a list of directories, in my case, 425 of them. That’s a lot of scrolling when I should be looking at the road. OTOH, it’s rather less groups, so I’d like to fix that.

                    I need to look at the manuals or experiment to see if more than one directory level can be used. I’d love to have one for the group, then a directory for that album. As it stands, for each disk, its a directory. For example, Showboat has four disks and 4 directories, and Costco sold a lot of multi-disk compilation sets for groups. We have a few.

                    The other thing I want to do is to put the directories for a group in chronological order without renaming them. Easy enough to do with an outer script.

                    One of the issues I ran into was on an old server. It only had USB 1, and if I didn’t pause for a second between copies, it would screw up the righting. Rather than a for loop, I brute forced it; haven’t any directories with more than 50 files in them, so it looks to see if file XX exists and if not, looks for XX+1. Yeah, a for loop would have worked in the inner script. The brute force let me debug the worst issues more easily.

                2. Aaaah, what got me started on this was my tablet. I’ve got an ancient (10 years old?) Lenovo Android tablet that I use to play tunes while I’m at work. Just click ‘shuffle’ and go, right? Except I kept hearing the same songs every couple of weeks. ‘Pony Boy’ by Bruce Springsteen wasn’t all that great the first time. Fourth time? Gah!

                  Did some investigation and found that the ‘shuffle’ function didn’t go continuously through the library picking ‘random’ tracks (nothing on a computer is ever truly random), but instead assembled a list of 1,000 ‘random’ tracks and played it.

                  Trouble was, every time I hit ‘shuffle’ it seemed to pick pretty much the same 1,000 tracks out of the more than 13,000 on the tablet. No wonder I kept hearing the same ones over and over.

                  I decided to split the 13,000 tracks into groups of 1,000 or less using the ‘Playlist’ function and then use ‘shuffle’ on each playlist in turn. The obvious solution was to set up 14 playlists of about 940 tracks each. But, how to distribute the library evenly into multiple playlists? That’s a job for a computer.

                  I found that iTunes can export a listing of its entire library as a text file. A BIG text file, almost 8 MB. The tablet’s music library was copied from the computer, minus some redundancies (songs that are present on more than one CD) and ‘bonus’ tracks I wasn’t interested in. So, now I’ve got a list of 13,000 songs, including some that aren’t on the tablet. What can I do with that?

                  Well, it’s a tab-separated text file. Import it into a LibreOffice spreadsheet!

                  Great, I’ve got a spreadsheet 31 columns wide and almost 13,200 rows long. Now what?

                  There is a function called INDIRECT() that selects a cell by row and column, and can use an equation to define the row and column. So, I came up with:


                  I added 14 sheets for the 14 playlists and copied that equation into ROW 2 of each sheet, reserving ROW 1 for column titles. In the main library sheet ‘Music’, COLUMN A is the song name, B is artist or group name, D is album name, and L is track length in seconds. Select those by setting INDIRECT()’s first argument to “$Music.B” in COLUMN B, “$Music.D” in COLUMN C and “$Music.L” in COLUMN D, because why not?

                  The ROW() function returns the ROW number of the cell it’s in, and the SHEET() function returns the number of the SHEET it’s on. ‘Music’ is SHEET 1, ‘Playlist 01’ is SHEET 2, ‘Playlist 02’ is SHEET 3 and so on.

                  Once the equations are set up in ROW 2, select COLUMNs A through D, ROWs 2 through 1,001 and Fill Down. Repeat for each Playlist SHEET. Boom! The Playlists are now full of songs!

                  The equation multiplies the ROW number by 14, starting at 0 for ROW 2, and adds the SHEET number. ROW 1 of ‘Music’ contains the column labels; ‘Title’, ‘Artist’, ‘Composer’, ‘Album’, etc. The first song, in ROW 2, goes to Playlist 01; the second song in ROW 3 goes to Playlist 02, and so on until the 15th song in ROW 16 is assigned to Playlist 01.

                  I found one irritating anomaly — after the end of the ‘Music’ list, where there is no data in the source cells, all the Playlist cells displayed zeroes. Those can be suppressed by going to the Number pane in ‘Format Cells’, select ‘User-defined’ and enter this in the ‘Format Code’ box:


                  At some point I thought to plan for the future, when there might be more than 14,000 tracks to sort, and changed the equation just a bit:


                  Now the total number of Playlists can be entered into cell G6 of Playlist 01. Cell G6 of Playlists 02 through NN all reference Playlist 01 cell G6. To create additional Playlists, just duplicate any Playlist SHEET other than Playlist 01, and update Playlist 01 cell G6.

                  To update the ‘Music’ SHEET, import a new iTunes listing into a separate spreadsheet, copy and paste.

                  Unfortunately, I could find no way to import Playlists into the tablet. I had to go through 13,000 tracks and assign each one to a Playlist. To assist in that, I made one last SHEET, labeled it AllLists, and had it display the track name, artist, album and time from ‘Music’ in COLUMNS B through E. COLUMN A got this equation:


                  The MODULO function returns the remainder from dividing its first argument by the second. Cell H2 refers back to the total Playlist number on Playlist 01. This equation counts up, ROW by ROW, from 1 to 14 and then starts over, indicating which Playlist each track should be assigned to. A big help when I lost track, or resumed sorting.

                  I dealt with the differences between the computer’s music library and the tablet’s by not dealing with them. Just skip that track and go on. This doesn’t have to be perfect.

                  It took about a week to finish the job, a couple of hours a day, but now it’s DONE. The tablet has been playing songs I haven’t heard in years. Yay!

                  So, if anybody has need of a bundle of spreadsheets to divvy up a big music library into multiple Playlists, I’ve got one.

            2. I’m basing the capacity on a recollection of the HP minicomputer drives we used in 1979 into the early 80s. My recollection was that those drives were running around 1000 BPI. I assume (whether or not correctly) that the mid-60s Burroughs machine at the high school would have been running at a similar capacity. Maybe not, but that machine was seriously limited.

              Faint memory says that the BPI got higher with newer machines and tape drives, presumably via faster I/O and smaller gap tape heads. I do recall a backup for my 286 machine, where the tape (in some kind of proprietary cassette) was good for a few (several?) tens of megabytes. I had that machine loaded with 80Mb of disk drives. Better than the previous machine with a massive 15Mb. 🙂

              1. My memory is from when I started working at Digital Circa 1983. The 6250 BPI 9 track was the standard industry. Tapes came in 3 standard lengths 600′, 1200′, and 2400′ . The smaller tapes were pretty much only used for software installation on the Vaxen, backups were on the 2400′ ones. I remember the RP06 disks as I had my own pack with a VMS 4.0 system on it to do installation tests on a standalone 11/750 you could sign up for. The Decnet node name for my system was DRCULA (i.e. Dracula) because I did that testing after hours, so it only came up at night…The most hated task was making and testing out the TU58 (Dectape II) kits. They took over 3 hrs to write and about similar to install. So even if it went right I wasn’t out of the building until Midnight at the earliest as I could take the machine until after 6PM…

                1. I think it was 1000 BPI; HP didn’t always go along with industry standards, and this was definitely older technology. There’s probably some documentation somewhere on it, but it’s not worth it to search. Whether 25 or 170M, the applications the school (and testers) ran didn’t need that much data. I suspect that the school information might have had a few K, mostly classes and grades. Similarly, the test programs didn’t include comments, so a 1Kb program was actually pretty large. Those testers were first built to use paper tape. Yikes.

                  1. Looked up mag tapes on Wiki. (“magnetic tape storage” got me there) Assuming 9 track tape (1 parity bit), there were standards for 800BPI, 1600 and 6250. The latter was rolled out in 1973 or so.

                    In college, we had a couple of ancient computers that used 1″ mag tape. A friend was an operator on them. They were installed in such a way that if one crashed, the EMI would take down the other machine. They also spoke Fortran II, and used an older keypunch that used a different Hollerith coding. The U had a few of the older ones around; woe betide the person who used the wrong keypunch.

          2. Good example of government in the way. In Britain the Red Flag Law that if you ran a powered vehicle on a road it had to be proceeded by a man with a red flag, not repealed until 1895, retarded roadway motor vehicle development until then. Early “horseless carriages” were in France, Germany, and America. There had been a few steam-powered coaches on British roads in the 1820’s but the red flag law stopped that.
            Incompatible computer operating systems and software is our current problem–God help you if your computer crashes and replacements won’t handle your spreadsheets. Backups are no longer file-based. O for the days of DOS (which worked) instead of Windows which might as well be called Doors–to say nothing of having all your work in The Cloud where it can be stolen/kidnapped/snooped on the the Government!

            1. say nothing of having all your work in The Cloud where it can be stolen/kidnapped/snooped on the the Government!

              Hard no. I do not keep anything on The Cloud. Nor do I let hubby or son. Just make sure to backup the old fashioned way.

    2. Spaceflight and rocketry. That got going about 100 years ago, and really took off about 80 years ago.

      1. You’re right! Goddard in Auburn was about 100 years ago in 1926! When I was a kid that was only 40 years ago!

    3. The War We Are Not To Discuss drove much innovation and change here in the 19th century USA.

      Settling the Western Frontier drove things further. You could consider that Era a 25 year guerilla war.

      The Napoleonic Wars drove food preservation technology. Napoleon posted a major reward for anyone who could improve ration storage for his troops.

      Vaccination got a huge boost the prior century in the American Revolution. Washington rolled the dice on deliberate Smallpox infection of healthy troops by weakly sick Smallpox cases.

      1. That war was in part caused by technology advances, as the start of mechanized agriculture made the practical basis, such as it was, of that labor disappear.

        Note that areas where that institution persists have a high correlation to areas and industries where mechanical labor has not taken hold.

        1. Which gave a huge boost to the whole idea of vaccination.

          Aha moment. Led to more widespread digging, especially “why the heck did that even work”

          Absent that crap shoot, we run out of able bodies. Revolution fails. A whole bunch of folks took notice.

  10. “But it makes you wonder how prosperous it would be without governments that interfered in everything and consumed vast amounts of wealth in huge wars.”

    We don’t have to wonder. All you need to do is look at the Regan years, and the Trump years. Those two US presidents reduced the regulatory load on the USA and more importantly GAVE PEOPLE HOPE that the load would continue to be lifted. That they would get a break.

    And the results speak for themselves. Massive increase in national economic effort and well-being. Both times.

    It is a little known fact in the USA but a widely known one in Canada that Canadians take their education and their ideas to the USA to get them made into Reality. Actors got to Hollywood to become stars. Industrialists go to Kentucky to have their engineering ideas made real. Computer nerds go to California.

    They don’t stay in Canada. Staying here is the Kiss of Death to your dream, whatever it might be. You will -not- find investors, or an audience, or even basic common decency from government entities here.

    So, no matter how F-ed you think the USA is, its nothing compared to Canada and Europe.

    The reason for that is counter-intuitive. In the USA, unlike the rest of the Western world, it is difficult for -government- to control things.

    Like shipping, just for instance. In the USA, the shipping industry operates with a great deal less regulation and interference than it does anywhere else. Result, you can get a package delivered overnight anywhere in the USA.

    You can get one here in Canada too, but it is delivered by an AMERICAN company that is so huge it can bully the Canadian government. There is no Canadian company doing overnight delivery except as last-mile contractors for UPS et al.

    You can’t buy a Canadian car. There aren’t any. Even now, in the age of CNC and robotic everything, when engineering students can and do build entire cars as school projects. Because all the cars are AMERICAN (or Japanese). Ford and GM are big enough to bully the Canadian government. A start-up car company in Canada is absurd. It can’t happen.

    But if you took all that burden of compliance with Catch 22 nightmare regulations away… well that would be different, wouldn’t it?

    There is, however, a Canadian hand tool company. Lee Valley Tools makes their own stuff and they have been very successful in selling it in the USA and Europe. They manage because their profit margin is quite wide, and because they are not competing with the Chinese. Chinese companies make cheap, bad hand tools that are torture to use.

    Lee Valley makes saws, planes, chisels etc. that are -joyful- to use. I love my Veritas tenon saws. They actually cut the wood in a straight line, and they don’t carve up my hands when I use them. Try that with your Home Depot saw.

    That’s an example of a niche manufacturer operating in a regulatory loophole. Nobody cares about woodworking, its a hobby activity. There’s no money in it, and therefore no Ministry of Hand Tools regulating it. There’s no particular benefit to Central Planning to meddle with it.

    Of course they will, eventually, get around to wrecking that too. Because it isn’t part of the Central Plan. It takes away resources (metal, electricity, workers) better employed forwarding the Plan.

    Central Planning is the idea that kills everything. The idea that a cadre of Great Minds can solve all the world’s problems, if and only if all the Mindless Masses can be made to comply with The Plan.

    1. The Lee Valley catalogue is evil. Too many temptations! I really, really want some of those planes, especially the small (palm-sized) ones. No, I do not need one right now. But they’re so stinkin’ cool! And so beautifully made, and so easy to true, and …

      1. https://www.busybeetools.com/products/busy-bee-no-7-jointer-plane.html

        Have you seen these? They’re really nice.

        I am a very bad person. >:D

        I really want one of those Veritas grooving planes. Not because I need one, but because they are sooooo cool. Like a little race car. ~:D

        I’m also threatening to make a skewed-iron shooting plane. I have an E-Bay rescue Stanley #5 jack that I use right now, and it works so nice I can’t really believe I only paid $50 or whatever all those years ago for it. But, troublesome hardwood end grain is troublesome, and the skewed iron would cleave it more smoothly.

        Also because adding angles other than 90 degrees to things makes them cooler and more bespoke, IMHO. I just “finished” my workbench, it has legs splayed out at 10 degrees. So very rock steady.

        1. The Reader now officially ‘hates’ you for introducing him to another source of toys (oops, should be tools).

            1. There’s a difference? Vows to renew acquaintance with the router planes. I have a regular one and the baby. (Hush, molding planes. You’ll get your turns.) There are things that a router does better, but hand tools are sooooooo much quieter and fun.

              1. I have recently discovered that there are some very cool things that you can’t really do at all without hand tools. Blind Half-lap dovetail joint for example. You make your half lap dovetail shaped, and drop it into a socket on the leg of something for a stretcher.


                Technically, this could be done with table saw and router. If I wanted a hundred, I’d make the jigs. But if I only want four, for stretches on a sawbench or something? Handsaw, chisel, router plane. Surprisingly quick, and decorative.

          1. Wait until you get to the metal working part. Metal working with lathes and mills is a whole new world of “gotta have this so I can do that” issues. Want to cut an angle? There’s a thing for that. Want to cut a circle? There a thing for that too. A different thing.

            And by the way, to really ramp up the evil: It seems that Big iron these days is surprisingly cheap. You can pick up three-phase giganto-tools cheaper than the 240V “hobby” version stuff in many cases. Mills particularly are stupidly cheap, barely above scrap value for the metal involved.

            Example from today, a woodworking catalog company lists a very nice little Startech 3-axis CNC router for around $15K. Has its own enclosure and everything. On the other hand, Kijiji has milling machines listing around $2500-$8000 for -huge- cast iron machines, 36″ table widths. I really want a nice Bridgeport. I’m sure Craigslist has tons of them.

            I 100% don’t need one, but being able to lathe and mill all my own metal fixtures and all those stupid little parts that wear out and I can never find? That would be sweet. I have already managed to produce the little brass crimp doodad that goes on the end of a 1964-era power radio antenna, which I couldn’t get. You must buy the whole antenna. But I made one.

            Do that five or six times and pretty soon you paid for your machine in Unobtanium parts. That’s what I tell skeptics, anyway. ~:D

              1. The Reader does NOT need another hobby, and his better half would not sacrifice keeping both cars in the garage for a milling machine, no matter how good. The Reader would have to have a temperature and humidity controlled outbuilding for this. Sigh…

                1. I see no drawbacks here. Heated outbuilding is a must for any gentleman’s manse. You simply must have somewhere suitable for the God Emperor to reside.

                  “Its only money!” he objected as his wife tried to brain him with a rolling pin.

                  1. This year’s pursuit for the Reader is a ham license and gear. It probably includes a flagpole antenna if he can’t mount an adequate one in the attic. No sale on the outbuilding.

                    1. Hobby radio is, to be fair, a more -compact- pursuit than metalworking. Not necessarily cheaper from my casual acquaintance with the subject, but more restrained in the usual three dimensional sense. ~:D Although, I have yet to see a hobby that couldn’t be made more fun with a purpose-built outbuilding. Even crochet would not suffer from being done in a picturesque cabin by Walden pond…

                      Beware the rolling pin, good sir. I’ve been told that even I, the illustrious Phantom, must sleep sometime.

              2. You really want the Mrs. to act out one of those fantasies upon my person that she’s described in such loving detail.

                (Medical personnel have a sadistic streak that would horrify a drill instructor.)

              3. My biggest lathe (12″ Craftsman, made by Atlas) and the Atlas shaper are both second or third hand. I’d like to get a better lathe, and a B’port, but the barn is getting a bit crowded until I can get the bedroom refloored, and that needs a couple of other projects done.

                The maple workbench is waiting for the round-tuit, and I should re-motor my shop-made drum sander (design stolen/adapted from a Luthier’s sander in one of the Taunton Press books). Alas, real work calls; gotta rake up a few trailer-loads of pine needles. (5 x 8 trailer; we have a lot of trees.) Then I get to work on my carbon footprint. VBEG.

                $SPOUSE convinced me to spend money on residing the house. She’s trying to get me to hire somebody to do yard work. On whatever portion of 13 acres we should consider “yard”.

                1. We’re getting a new roof this week. Along with the new skylight windows (which prompted said roof). Paid down two weeks ago. Scheduled sometime out in late September … someone cancelled, wasn’t ready, or whatever. Called last Friday “do we want to do now?”, “Heck Yes”.

                  We also need to paint. Hubby was looking for a painter who would paint what little second story we have (me: “Please no”.) Luckily (so far) no painter will take a partial job (Prayers Answered!) Don’t mind painting (much). Hate clean up. Still will have to deal with inside.

                  Not that we couldn’t do either. Just with roof, really shouldn’t be. Painting upper half shouldn’t be. Painting the rest? (Whine) “Don’t want to.”

                  Also went down to the bank to look into to a HELOC. Big Hell no. Current: 7.5% variable interest at our soft credit rating (which is 835 – 850+ depending) which means we get somewhat of a break; interest isn’t going lower anytime in the next two years, minimum. Plus minimum of about $250 in fees over two years. Will cost less in taxes and lost earnings just to pull the money from IRA’s.

                  1. Oddly enough, painting walls is one of the things I’m fine with doing. Of course, paint-with-primer makes it super easy.

                    1. I have had really bad results with exterior Behr paint-with-primer. Might be our conditions; we’re 4300 feet and semi-arid, but while the old Behr paint worked fine, the same color in the new formulation doesn’t go on well, and doesn’t last, at least on on southern exposures. It’s also not easy to put on compared to the older paint, especially with rough surface siding. The really wet winter didn’t help the paint, either. (OTOH, it’s nice actually having water to replenish the aquifer.)

                      Sherwin-Williams now markets its paint as paint-n-primer, but I was told by the worker bee that it’s the same formula as before. I haven’t tried to do siding with it, but when the bucket of Behr runs out, I’ll tr S-W. I had to repaint metal roof panels before I installed them (Murphy helped with the transport, sigh), and the Sherwin-Williams paint has done wonderfully well.

                      Reroofing our house was almost easy; low pitch, but getting the old roof off and the bundles up was painful. Rooftop delivery not an option, so I’d hump a square or two at a time and work away. Murphy says that roof jobs either need really hot or cold & windy days; that’s been true for a few roofs now.

                  2. For your exterior painting, consider an airless spray machine. I’m assuming you have a wood-siding house. After the scraping and spot-priming (don’t skip it!), an airless makes the job go very easy. Spray the siding, brush the window and door trim. Much easier.

                    Home Despot has nice little Graco airless with hose and gun for ~$300ish US. Use it twice, it pays for itself in saved aggravation. You can literally paint a whole house in a day with an airless. I bought one in the late 1990s for personal use, I still have it and it still works.

                    Also, scaffolding for the second floor business. You can rent it, its cheap. Ladders suck. The only reason painters use ladders is speed.

                    1. Contract painters will use paint sprayers. Hubby won’t. (Grumble) Still would have clean up. (Have I whined enough about how much I do not want to deal with cleaning up after painting yet?)

                      scraping and spot-priming (don’t skip it!)

                      No kidding. That is how we get away with 14 years between paint jobs (okay should have done this 24 months ago, but still, 12 years). Especially on west and south facing walls. Contractors will scrape and prime those spots. Have learned that putting the color in the primer is a good thing when it comes to painting.

                    2. Problem with a good portion of the second story is the patio covering. It is not short (runs 30′). Makes scaffolding difficult.

                    3. Admittedly, I was a professional so using an airless is a no-brainer for me. It is certainly true that you can make a bigger mess faster with an airless than a roller. ~:D

                      One thing worth knowing about is that you can run an extension on your airless spray gun, which means the nozzle is out on the end of a stick. You can spray the whole wall from standing on the lawn. Or the eves, eve troughs etc. I used them for ceilings and house exteriors. So much easier, so much faster.

                      Cleanup should not be a Thing unless you’re one of those die-hard oil paint users. Latex, you just wash it. Get a brush spinner. Cleaning the airless means you run water through it until it comes out clean, then you run that blue cleaner stuff to keep everything nice inside.

                      Now, on that subject I had occasion to spray a large number of steel store shelves in about 2014. I had to power wash them, sand them, prime, then spray two finish coats. Of interest, I found a very interesting material to spray them with, a water-based alkyd. In other words “oil” paint that was thinned with water and cleaned up with water. It worked -beautifully- on the shelving parts. Good coverage, excellent finish with no orange peel and a minimum of runs etc.

                      So might be worth checking out. I sprayed with both airless and HVLP with pressure pot, worked well with either system.

              4. One local aerospace company was clearing out some stuff and my younger daughter and I saw it out in the parking lot waiting to be picked up. Bridgeport miller, some early CNC machines a bunch of other LARGE commercial hardware. She’d done the mandatory Mechanical Engineering shop classes with almost the same stuff. I thought she was going to cry it hurt her so much to see beautiful machines kicked out to rust until the scrap folks could come get them.

            1. And without mentioning all the Neat And Useful Things you could manufacture.

              1. In all truth, I was thinking about making BIG screws and nuts for a Moxxon vice. Six threads per inch, 2 1/4″ diameter sort of thing. Because bigger is better, right? ~:D

                Common sense shook its finger at me about then, so the nuts and screws will be 1″ diameter. There is a limit to sheer mass, beyond which you are just showing off.

                But if pressed, the best thing I could come up with as an excuse for buying a CNC machine would be model airplanes. You can make propellers, wings, all sorts of faired curves that have to be just-so. And by “model” I may mean something that has four chainsaw motors. Something that when people see it they say “Dang! That is a very large model airplane.” (Did you know you can turbocharge a chainsaw motor to operate at high altitudes?)

                Because bigger is better. >:D

                1. Quibble: At some scales, you might prefer making some parts of an aircraft using composite methods, instead of machining from metal.

                  Presuming you know much about composite methods.

                  But, you say, what about molds to form the composites in? Potentially, you can use a CNC router and make the mold from MDF.

                  1. I would be doing it out of foam and/or wood with the skin laminated on. The advantage of CNC for things like that is accurately forming complex curves over large surfaces. Curves are a hugely time consuming issue if you try to cut them by hand, and God forbid you want to modify something. But if you cut the surface with a CNC and then lay the skin up with a vacuum press, that’s how the Big Boys do it. Boeing-level tech, in your garage.

                    Metal parts would be things like hinges, brackets, motor mounts, bearings, landing gear, all that stuff you wouldn’t need a CNC metal-cutting router or lathe to make. Something like how are you going to mount your propeller on your chainsaw motor? You have to make an adapter. Maybe even a reduction gear setup. Mill and lathe, maybe a welder, you can make one almost as fast as the CNC guy. You can cast things out of aluminum too, then mill and drill all the holes and surfaces.

                    Then there is the ever-more-capable 3D printer, which is becoming really quite amazing for printing up unobtainable little dodads and casting models for cast-metal parts. If you have a lathe and a mill, you can cast and machine custom pistons and connecting rods for your chainsaw motors. For in case you want to fly your model at 40,000 feet for some reason, over Lake Ontario. Or maybe Lake Erie. You know, for fun. >:D

                    You don’t have to design it yourself either. You can download it. People are making this stuff all over the place.

                    Best part, it is a -model- airplane, so nobody (meaning the Ministry of Karen) can complain when you fly it and nobody will care if it crashes. Unless it crashes on them, which we try to avoid. Fly it over the lake, or your own property.

                    I’m not doing it at the moment, I have enough to deal with machining lawnmower parts and building kitchen cabinets for Chez Phantom. This goes in the Maybe Some Day file.

                    But as a science fiction writer, one can only imagine what a plucky tribe of determined nerds might do with a shed, a CNC router second-hand from some company that makes signs, a Harbor Freight welder and an ancient SIP Hydroptic jig-borer rescued from the scrap. (Would anyone read that story? I don’t care. ~:D)

                  2. The Reader, having had some experience with composite failures at the Great Big Defense Contractor would be leery of garage level composite fabrication. Unlike machining, the strength of fabricated composites is still a function of the recipe, not simply the raw material and machining induced stresses. Yes for an EE the Reader knows an excessive amount about materials and failures – don’t ask.

                    1. Point.

                      I’ve probably gotten a skewed impression of that stuff.

                      Stuff almost always seems much easier from a distance, or from the outside, than it really is when you get down to the details of doing it yourself, and trying to find out what you screwed up where.

    2. I love my Made-in-Canada Oneway 1224 woodturning lathe. I got mine twenty years ago and they are definitely one of the top lathe manufacturers in the world.

      1. That is a thing of beauty. I want one. My lathe is a Rockwell Beaver I got in the early 1980s. It is -old- but it still gits ‘er dun.

        Did you know that if you have a metal lathe and a milling machine you can -make- a Oneway lathe? That’s how Oneway does it.

        😀 I am so very bad.

  11. Interesting topic. Centralization in this country began with the Civil War. The Reconstruction needed the rule of law behind it, hence the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments that have been used to justify every subsequent big government intervention.

    How much of sweat-shop labor would have ended naturally via free enterprise (see Ford, Henry) instead of enforced by government regulation? Unfortunately very few really pay attention to how many deaths are caused by regulations meant to keep us safe. Some of that is unintended consequences such as the 737 Max Disaster (see: https://spectrum.ieee.org/how-the-boeing-737-max-disaster-looks-to-a-software-developer).

    How long would it have taken to make passenger air travel a nationwide and international business without WWII? Hard to really know. In the US, the Interstate Highway System was a direct product of WWII. It actually came out of the Defense Budget, back when politicians still cared enough about the Constitution to attempt to justify it.

    In another case that we’re seeing play out before our eyes, NASA put men on the moon long before we would have via private enterprise, then held us back from returning for 50 years. Thank God Musk and Bezos read Heinlein as kids (see The Man Who Sold the Moon especially).

    That’s long enough for a comment. Guess I’ll have to elaborate on my website (https://frank-hood.com) now that I’m no longer a wage slave. Drat, that gives me another thing to write while I’m trying to finish my anthology. I have by Grabthar’s Hammer to get that out by the end of May, so I have something to talk about at LibertyCon this summer.

    1. Commercial air traffic had already become a reality within the US before WW II. The government made two contributions to getting this off the ground. The first was to contract with private companies to fly mail in the early 20s. The second was to force United Air Lines to divest aircraft manufacture from its airline business in 1934, creating Boeing. Both of these were useful but not decisive in the progression of commercial aviation.

    2. I would be very interested in a discussion of the -origins- of Central Control/Central Planning as a thing. Who thought of it?

      It’s the kind of idea that seems like a candidate for aliens trying to f- over humanity to drop on us. So simple, so attractive, so pernicious.

        1. I think Octavian beat him to it. And the Chinese emperors beat him. I suspect authoritarianism has been around since Gronk’s tribe conquered their neighbors.
          Nobody has so little that some asshole doesn’t want to take it. And the government is full of assholes.

          1. No. Most of Europe still uses bureaucratic forms invented by Louis XIV
            And we imported a lot of them.
            If you love the Deep State, thank Louis.

        2. I will discuss this with resident historian. If so, yet another reason to hate the French.

          Didn’t really need another reason, but here we are. 😡

          1. Resident historian opines that Socrates may in fact be the one to blame for central planning and control, but that it is still permissible to hate the French for Post Modernism.

      1. As do many of the NY state parkways, the Merrit Parkway in CT, and Rt 128 in MA.
        you can see the old style on ramps and closely spaced exits on 128 once you get north of Peabody headed towards Gloucester. Fine for a 45mph speed limit with limited traffic, but a Civil Engineers nightmare with 60 MPH speeds and modern traffic…

    3. imaginos1892 below is right about Gronk. It’s a basic instinct seen everywhere in the animal kingdom. With increasing civilization, comes increased scale. First hunters/gatherers, then cities, then states, then empires, but increased ever more as technology increases humanity’s ability to reach out and control others. As Lenin once said, “Quantity has a quality all its own.”

  12. I could be wrong but my memory is Heinlein postulated that war(s) encouraged rapid developments, by private individuals (Such as Hedy Lamarr’s patented frequency hopping.) as well as government entities. I can accept that.

    The only good thing about central government is we’ve most, if not all, the nuts in one place. Now if we could just crowd fund a wall around D.C., a dome over it, one road in, and for anything leaving the area, folks, information, legislation, propagandanation, an expensive, very expensive, toll road out…..

    1. My gut feeling is that wars encourage a spurt of technological development at first, but the boost drops dramatically as the war drags on. War will encourage the government to spend money developing technologies that are useful for the war effort, but that otherwise might have languished for another decade or two until someone found a commercial use for them. But in the long-term, the government’s focus on the need to win the war means that there is less of the broad range of technological development that society needs in order to advance. Instead, development is focused on the specific technologies that are seen as most likely to lead to victory.

      1. Yep, Hedy Lamarr’s frequency hopping; I am not aware that they used it in WW II but wi-fi, bluetooth and GPS systems benefited from and use it today.

      2. If you look at Ukraine the biggest developments (drones) seem to be in the areas where small teams of individuals can work and produce product with little government intervention.

  13. So much all of this. Dickens wrote about the urban poor without realizing that as bad as it was they were better off than the rural poor and at the start of the world’s biggest surge in median standard of living. Oliver Twist would simply have died had he been born a few years prior.

    The great pity is that the state got involved and slowed the whole thing down and keeps trying to roll it back. Being rich is no good if the poor people can get the same goods. that’s why our “elites” have turned from luxury goods to luxury ideas.

    1. Well, in the sense that only our unprecedented level of prosperity that allows them the luxury of their unhinged beliefs. If any of them had to work for a living, they wouldn’t be quite so stupid. Idleness and unearned wealth is a dangerous combination.

      And the useful idiots listen to them because “They’re rich, so they must be important!”
      Why should I listen to what athletes say about economics and politics? If I wanted advice from somebody that chases a ball around, I’d ask my dog.

  14. “The federal government should protect the border, negotiate with foreign powers, and intervene in disputes between the states.” Indeed, but … well, suffice it to say, what with the catastrophe to the south, the obvious return on certain Chinese investments in (shall we say) human capital, and most of the Supreme Court’s cowardice over 2020, all one can respond is, “Good luck with THAT.” Just saying.

  15. It is odd but just this morning I was reflecting on the rich life and luxury filled day to day existence I have. For goodness sake, I can just turn the knob and fresh, clean & safe water flows to meet my every H2O need. The flick of a switch and presto – light! Along with that is all the other ‘electrical’ stuff like the stove, oven, refrigerator, freezer, etc.

    Even in the year 2023 my life is “better off” than the vast majority of the world and a huge leap from times past. I have a silly little dog that is a companion (and loved family member) that has no practical use but is a delight to have and does make life better. I can walk a short distance and find food, entertainment, books, knowledge, entertainment and all sorts of “things” which are hard for many today and impossible for those in the (even very near) past. The fact I have a car – oh my! I can now do a million times more!

    Should all the above come crashing down – caused by war or whatever – I would be working on my survival from a knowledge and tool base that has never been in past history. The foolish and unworkable would vanish overnight (thinking of the obsession with LXYZwhatever for example) and the useful, pragmatic and workable will be what is important. I’m an old fart now but figure what I try to do now is to establish and protect the chance that the future holds and to fight tooth and nail to keep what we can to continue the march into the real future. It ain’t gonna be an easy hike but with the folks like we have around here, it can and will be.

    1. The poorest in the US today live in a way that would make Kings envious. I’m not talking about gold and fancy clothes, but things like flush toilets and light on demand.

      Even if everything were to collapse tomorrow, I give it two generations before we’re back to a functioning level simply because of the existing knowledge. If everyone who knew how to build and innovate was killed, that would be a different issue.

      1. Not even a noble or king could evade the dangers of sewers and the illnesses that are the result of living in confined castles and towns surrounding them. The poorest among us, in the USA, has access to sewers. Should the need arise there are antibiotics. The richest of the past couldn’t beg, steal, or buy, antibiotics. Antibiotics had not been invented (not 100% true, there are plants that are in their own right antibiotic when used right, but the knowledge was not wide spread, concept still applies)

        1. I made a similar point regarding Commie dictatorships once upon a time. A relatively poor person in London or West Berlin was in numerous ways better off than whoever was the Supreme President of the Politburo because the poor person had more choices.

          If the Supreme President wanted a bottle of slightly obscure booze (say a Trappiste Beer) he could not get one within at least 24 hours, by which time the desire might have faded. On the other hand if the poor bloke in London or Berlin could scrape up the cash to buy it he could go to a decent high end liquor store and buy the booze. Even with public transport and looking things up in phone books, making phone calls to check and so on, he could get this desired thing in a couple of hours. And any of 100011 other slightly obscure products. Communist countries only had a few mainstream products imported

          1. https://blog.chron.com/thetexican/2014/04/when-boris-yeltsin-went-grocery-shopping-in-clear-lake/

            It hasn’t gotten any better regardless of the communist country. Now San Fransisco is on it’s way to proving the same point. Won’t be quite as bad because at least residents who stay will be able to order things online. Or will they? Will vendors deliver? After all if an area has enough porch pirates will an area be cut off? Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. After all who’d have believed the shuttering of stores would happen? Who had that on their bingo card 5 years ago or even last year (signs of it coming last year but did anyone in SF believe it?)

            1. I had my own mini-Teltsin experience taking Moscow students around the supermarket in Cambridge. That and the ability to get food and midnight on a random street corner in London impressed them far more than the invite to the Houses of Parliament

    2. I’ve described the home maternal grandparents had in the ’30s on Sarah’s blog before. A cabin in Montana while grandpa worked for the mines. I’ve seen it. It left an impression. Here is why.

      can just turn the knob and fresh, clean & safe water flows to meet my every H2O need

      To get water, grandma took a bucket down the slope from the cabin, across the mine road, down the road bank, to a creek. Hauled it back up to the cabin. Not a well, a Creek, along a dusty road (even in 1966 when we saw it).

      flick of a switch and presto – light! … the stove, oven, refrigerator, freezer

      No light switches (still by late ’60s). No stove top or oven, let alone a refrigerator, or freezer. Oops, sorry, did have a freezer, kind of, deep winter and snow (Montana, in the mountains). Grandma cooked on a woodstove that also heated the cabin. A one room cabin just big enough for the woodstove, a table to eat at, grandparents bed, a trundle bed for their 3 year old, and a “crib” bed for their infant.

      walk a short distance and find food, entertainment, books, knowledge, entertainment

      A lone cabin. No other cabins visible. (Didn’t explore around so might have been some further up or down the road. Just not visible.) Grandma had a car but there was no where for her or the girls to go. (Someone picked up grandpa for work so grandma could have the car.)

      In comparison, the apartment they ended up in, in Colorado during WW2 was a luxury. Their 3 bedroom, one bath, open concept kitchen/dinning/living-room, 950 sqft, not insulated clapboard house shack. With sweet clean clear cold well water and power lines running to the house. Five acres (until they sold the lower 2 acres). They lived their lives out after WW2 (now in Oregon), was a palace in comparison.

    3. I have scouts. When we go camping (which we get to with our cars), we set up lightweight, durable, weatherproof* tents. We sleep on manufactured beds with varying levels of comfort, in synthetic fabrics of sleeping bags (even my “wool” blankets have polyester in them for softness, except for the vintage Army blanket.) We cook on propane stoves, lit with butane lighters, though we do teach the flint and steel fire building when campfires aren’t banned due to extreme fire danger. Our food is brought from home, kept in insulated containers with ice in the summer.

      In other words, our ROUGHING IT is of a much higher standard of living than most people, including nobility, were able to manage throughout most of history.

      I haven’t even mentioned sunscreen. My parents’ generation is dealing with the effects of childhood sun exposure (last night I found out that there is such a thing as topical chemotherapy for precancerous skin, seeing an adult with most of his face scabbed over from the treatment. Amazing thing, hope I never need it.) My chance of skin cancer is a fraction of that, because my sunburns were rare things (and usually at the beginning of summer, the big oops.) Tiny thing, big effect.

      *For values of “weather” that do not include blizzards, floods, or hurricanes.

      1. In other words, our ROUGHING IT is of a much higher standard of living than most people, including nobility, were able to manage throughout most of history.

        Yep. And 1) This is for FUN and learning. 2) When done having fun, you go home to your showers and soft bed.

        Let’s talk about how far backpacking equipment has come. Just over the last 80 years … When I packed for Trapper Camp in the 60s my dry weight was around 50#s (not like we were packing far, but still). Hubby did and he was regularly (by story) packing 60#+. In early ’00, my pack dry weight was 22#. Add food and water added 10 – 12#s. Lighter: pack, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, cooking gear, some clothing was lighter too, and I was packing more as I was older. Most the latter gear was purchased in 1980 (REI and we still have and use the expensive stuff). Have replaced some cooking gear as tin/aluminum wore out or (more likely) Titanium gear came along to replace it (spend money on something already have because the new thing is lighter to pack, or “definition of backpacking”).

  16. It is said (well I read it somewhere) that the renaissance occurred because of double entry bookkeeping and the concept of limited liability. What do any historians in the thread say? Because that would tend to reinforce your thesis.

    1. Everything costs money, right?

      I once heard that the modern banking system had its beginnings in the building of the Great Cathedrals. Moving money around to pay for those things, gather materials and manpower, and keep the organizations -stable- for the multi-generational efforts needed to complete them.

      Cathedrals were the first European “moonshot” projects since Rome.

    2. Actually, I’m wading through two books on those topics. The Great Transition by Bruce Campbell goes into a lot of technical detail about that, looking at economics in general, and he points to the trade fairs in Champaign and the Peace of God movement, then the fairs in other places, as the start. The cathedrals were signs of the general prosperity, because it took resources to be able to even imagine doing something like that, along with a growing population and organization. That combo put things in place for the recovery following the Black Death and the climate downturn of the 1300s (and the 100 Years War).

  17. The government tends to grab onto rising stars and create legislation to ride the existing wave. They see companies creating something that will affect their constituents (or bottom line) and they make it mandatory. Seatbelts, for example. Stop lights, for another. Both in wide use long before the .gov got into the act.

    Government does not create, or innovate. It uses the creativity and innovation of others, puts strangleholds on what it cannot use, and makes illegal any creativity or innovation that goes against its interests.

  18. Quote “Part of what fed and clothed and lifted the 20th century well above the historic mean was the ability to travel/cheap transport/mechanized manufacturing/refrigeration.”

    Underpinning this is the relative cheapness of energy. I believe Dr. Jerry Pournelle called this out, in reference to transportation as well as medicine.

    1. Yeah. Inexpensive travel, transport, and refrigeration all require inexpensive energy. If you lose the latter, you quickly lose all of the former.

  19. Government rewards failure and punishes success. Successful people don’t need ‘help’ from the government.

    So, the government ‘helps’ them anyway, until they’re not successful any more.

    Then they do need ‘help’.

    Another government success story.
    Governments can’t create prosperity; at best, they can refrain from destroying it.

  20. For the sake of clarity, and to expand on the many comments here, please recall to mind the following truth: a “Government” is simply a small group of humans, who have through whatever means acquired power- the acquiescence of the governed people to follow orders.
    That is all that “government” is – a group of people who we (the entirety of the nation) agree to obey.
    Currently, that group of people needs to be held to account. (And their tools, followers, and useful idiots.)

    1. That acquiescence is wearing mighty thin these days. The government responds to its own failures by trying to take away our guns, our money, and our freedom of speech.
      ‘Progressives’ suppress free speech because they don’t have the means to suppress free thought.


  21. Three Kingdoms-era China. It lasted for sixty years (220 to 280 AD), and according to the current Wikipedia entry on it –

    “A nationwide census taken in 280 AD, following the reunification of the Three Kingdoms under the Jin shows a total of 2,459,840 households and 16,163,863 individuals which was only a fraction of the 10,677,960 households, and 56,486,856 individuals reported during the Han era.”

    Sixty years of warfare – long enough that some people were born during the period and died of natural causes before it ended – and the population was reduced by 72%. It’s horrifying, given the size of the population involved.

    And the root cause that started the dominoes falling was because the central government got too focused on its petty in-fighting, instead of paying attention to the needs of the citizenry. After a few generations, ultimate power is perceived to lie with the central government. And when that happens, the people in government start to ignore the reasons why government exists in the first place, in favor of fighting over scraps of power. And then everything falls apart, and lots of people die.

  22. “Broken Window fallacy” you say? Such a blithe comment that tells me much about that author, and their own presuppositions. I find the Broken Windows theory of policing to actually work. I wonder what the author holds as an alternative?

    1. DUDE? That is not what we were talking about. Are you…. sane?
      Broken window fallacy has ZERO to do with policing. It’s economics.
      It’s to be precise Kenysian economics. It’s the idea that if you break a window you improve the economy, because you just gave a lot of people work. You probably can spot the fallacy with that.
      I caution you that when you think something is blithe and tells you a lot about the author, the voices you hear might be in your own head.

      1. The Broken Windows theory of policing is a theory that I know of and subject to much discussion – for AND against. Typically conservatives (and possibly authoritarians) support it, and liberals (and possibly leftists) do not. Admittedly this is a simplification of a controversial subject. I, personally, support the Broken Windows Theory.

        The Broken Windows fallacy of economics I have never heard of, save that of Henry Hazlett’s notable “Economics in one easy” lesson. If that what was meant by statement, then I concur with it.

        Think of it this way with the statement: “Guns of low caliber are useless”. Without context, you could concur that personal arms using 22 Long Rifle or smaller calibers are useless (besides varmint shooting). You could also disagree forcefully as low caliber guns, also known as howitzers and mortar’s, are far from useless in the military. Caliber in personal arms is the width of the bullet. Caliber in artillery is the multiple of the barrel length to shell width.

        When reading an otherwise informative and interesting post, suddenly finding a statement that to me at the time was an unrelated and dismissive statement on police theory, becomes a “WTH?” moment. I do apologize as I took the context wrong. I tend discount most of the arguments of those against the Broken Windows theory of policing – and don’t get me started on the lack of Sir Robert Peel’s Policing Principles in our modern police force.

        I can also assure you that, since insanity is a legal term, I am not insane. Confused perhaps. Maybe even eccentric. But not insane. And we all have voices in our head; mine are merely the ordinary ones of conscious thought, not the delusions of a schizophrenic. I was merely making an assumption, based on the statement, that seemed to be a non-sequitur at the very least, and commenting on that.

        Forgive me for causing offence.

        1. LOL. No. The broken window fallacy is FAR more common in the economic sense than the policing one. And I’m somewhat of an economic geek.
          Pardon the abrasiveness. It’s been a hard few days around here.

          1. No problem.
            One tends to look to ones own profession first, which would be policing for me (after IT and databases but before history, rocket science, and economics).

            1. “Caliber in artillery is the multiple of the barrel length to shell width.”

              Nitpick: not quite (or at least confusingly phrased). In land artillery the size designation is almost always caliber (bore size) alone, as in “155mm howitzer”. The Navy uses bore size and barrel length, as in 5″ 38 – 5″ bore, 38 calibers (190″) long, or 16″ 50 – 16″ bore, 50 calibers (800″) long, to designate specific naval rifles. But the caliber is always the bore size alone.

              At one time, when round balls and black powder were the rule, artillery was usually designated by the weight of the projectile (“6-pounder Napoleon” or “12 pounder demi-culverin”), but that became fairly useless when other projectile shapes became common.

              As I noted, a nitpick; I tend to do that. 🙂

          1. I am not familiar with Bastiat at least in regard with that theory. That is why I racked my brains and could only think of Henry Hazlett’s work. Thanks for the reference.

            1. You’re welcome. Bastiat wrote very well for an economist. Meaning that he doesn’t put you to sleep with theory, since he predates most theories.

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