Back to: Empire Games (and Merchant Princes): the inevitable spoiler thread! | Forward to: An update on the revolutionary experiment

PSA: Publishing supply chain shortages

Quantum of Nightmares (UK link) comes out on January 11th in the USA and January 13th in the UK. It's the second New Management novel, and a direct sequel to Dead Lies Dreaming.

If you want to buy the ebook, you're fine, but if you want a paper edition you really ought to preorder it now.

The publishing industry is being sandbagged by horrible supply chain problems. This is a global problem: shipping costs are through the roof, there's a shortage of paper, a shortage of workers (COVID19 is still happening, after all) and publishers are affected everywhere. If you regularly buy comics, especially ones in four colour print, you'll already have noticed multi-month delays stacking up. Now the printing and logistics backlogs are hitting novels, just in time for the festive season.

Tor are as well-positioned to cope with the supply chain mess as any publisher, and they've already allocated a production run to Quantum of Nightmares. (Same goes for Orbit in the UK.) But if it sells well and demand outstrips their advance estimates, the book will need to go into reprint—and instead of this taking 1-2 weeks (as in normal times) it's likely to be out of stock for much longer.

Of course the ebook edition won't be affected by this. But if you want a paper copy you may want to order it ASAP.

645 Comments

1:

Query "Transreal" ??

2:

Wot he sed... Any chance of Transreal getting an order in?

3:

Yes to both of you: if you pre-order from Transreal, you should get signed copies on schedule.

The problem will come for late purchasers if the book sells out and needs reprinting. (Which is a distinct possibility: Orbit in the UK fine tune their print runs savagely, and I am optimistic that this book will sell in line with previous Laundryverse novels.)

The main news about the supply chain issues in publishing is coming out of the USA and mostly talks about books being imported from manufacturing facilities overseas. So it definitely affects late orders for the US hardcover.

The UK publishers tend to print locally on a just-in-time basis: I've seen them do hardcover reprint runs of as few as 150 copies, which is apparently profitable these days. (Used to be that they didn't roll the presses for less than 1000 h/c.) But UK domestic supply chains are such a mess right now I suspect a different set of problems will crop up -- either paper shortages at the input end, or HGV driver shortages at the distribution side.

Either way, it's sensible to preorder (and yes, Mike will be selling it from Transreal, and I will be signing stock for him.)

4:

E-books FTW!

5:

Ordered, with MZN :-)

6:

Amem to that!

Just checked and the Kobo store confirms my pre-order for January 11th.

I must say nothing beats a just printed paper book in terms of reading pleasure, but since I started using an e-reader, the convenience has trumped up the feeling. Having all my books together, backed up and searchable is a real win.

7:

It was running out of shelf space that pushed me onto ebooks. That and not having to pack a separate bag of books when I go on holiday for more than a few days. Has anyone ever investigated the environmental impact of ebooks vs paper books?

8:

Pre-ordered the ebook from Kobo. Just have to hope that the only factory in the world that makes ones and zeros isn't struck down with COVID between now and January, or that they can find an empty shipping container to put them all in to get them to Felixstowe, or a lorry driver to take them to the site where they are shovelled in to the internet!

9:

This.

I still prefer paper for large-format art books, but for fiction and most non-fiction I'm entirely digital now.

10:

Pre-ordered the ebook from Kobo. Just have to hope that the only factory in the world that makes ones and zeros isn't struck down with COVID between now and January, or that they can find an empty shipping container to put them all in to get them to Felixstowe, or a lorry driver to take them to the site where they are shovelled in to the internet!

I've been told "supply chain problems" for a late digital product!

(I could understand "Covid problems", but have no idea how the shortage of shipping can affect a digital product, which leads me to believe it was a convenient excuse for someone's cockup.)

11:

I used to have a library of >2000 dead tree books. I loved having a 7 x 2 m wall of books in my apartment, but they were an amazing pain in the butt whenever I had to move house -- not just the packing and weight, but the extraordinary tedium of re-alphabetizing them. About the year 2000 I stopped buying paper books and stopped carrying a mini-library with me when I traveled. (Still had to have one or two paperbacks to read while waiting for take-off, but that nonsense finally ended.)

When I moved to Canada in 2015 I put most of my books in storage. (This was less of a psychological wrench than giving them away). I occasionally miss them, mostly when I'm trying to dig up some obscure Golden Age SF.

Textbooks and reference works are better in paper (although the latter have mostly been supplanted by the web). For anything that is mostly words where I intend to start at the first page and read page after age until I get to the end, though, I now prefer ebooks. Besides the obvious points, I like that I don't have to hold the book open. I often read while eating or mucking around on the computer. Paperbacks have to be held open by hand or by laying something heavy on them. A kindle paperwhite sits nicely and readably on the table next to my plate.

12:

I generally buy fiction in Kindle format for the reasons LAvery gives. But there are annoyances,especially when the fiction (as is so often the case with fantasy) includes maps. These are inevitably too small to be legible or are spread over two pages. Non-fiction books with notes or indexes are a bloody nuisance in ebook form.

13:

I also buy fiction for those reasons. And also because I can control the formatting. I have just had too many books with odd fonts or spacing or such, and at least for fiction, want it formatted my way.

14:

As I get older, the ability to enlarge the type is useful — means I can read longer before my eyes get tired.

15:

Amusingly, one of my editors asked me to do a map for "Empire Games" because obviously it was part of a fantasy series.

(I shot that one down hard by pointing out (a) I'm not a cartographer, (b) it'd be a map of the world with only a handful of names changed, and (c) it's a near-future thriller, not fantasy. They settled for a list of principal characters instead.)

16:

For Earth 1, an outline of the USA and the text "here be radioactive fallout"?

17:

Actually, besides fantasy, another genre that typically has maps is military history, with battle maps. At some points in the Merchant Princes one or two of those might have come in handy.

18:

They settled for a list of principal characters instead.

I actually loved the list of principal characters and the timeline. Brought back enough memories of the previous books that at no point i had to wonder who the f** someone is in Empire Games.

19:

I actually loved the list of principal characters and the timeline. Brought back enough memories of the previous books that at no point i had to wonder who the f** someone is in Empire Games.

Yeah, they were especially helpful for Invisible Sun, because it had been so long since the previous book. I bookmarked them and flipped back pretty often as I read.

20:

Charlie Stross @ 15: Amusingly, one of my editors asked me to do a map for "Empire Games" because obviously it was part of a fantasy series.

(I shot that one down hard by pointing out (a) I'm not a cartographer, (b) it'd be a map of the world with only a handful of names changed, and (c) it's a near-future thriller, not fantasy. They settled for a list of principal characters instead.)

Would it be Ok if someone else made maps? They could take a blank U.S. (North America?) map [and Europe/Asia as needed] and insert the place names as from the different timelines. A reader could superimpose the maps to see the geographic relationships

Might be useful for some of us to visualize.

21:

There is no good reason that notes and indices could not be handled better in Ebook form than print, but the trend seems to be to make an increasing mess of them even in print. I agree that they are a real pain in the Ereaders and Ebook formats we are inflicted with.

And I agree about maps. I have no problem with font sizes (having 6 dioptres of myopia), but find them unreadable. It's made worse by the fad for using pseudo-archaic graphics and pseudo-handwritten labels - those are often almost unreadable even in print.

22:

In a number of my ebooks when you tap on the note marker in the text you get taken to the note, and then another tap brings you back to the text. Not quite as convenient as glancing to the bottom of the page, but much the same as finding the end of the chapter, reading the note, and the flipping back to the page you hopefully left a finger in…

In others, tapping the note marker brings up a floating window with the note in, and tapping outside the window closes it.

Both those methods seem to work reasonably well.

Of course, in other books there is no link so you have to manually scroll, or a link only to the note but not back to the text. Those ebooks are a real pain.

23:

You can make a map, but don't expect me to proofread it!

24:

Yes. Mine do that, too, but the note number is in a tiny font, and attempting to get to it usually triggers one of the two other major tap actions (scroll/toolbar and dictionary) on my Ereader. And reading on other devices isn't much better. No doubt there ARE environments that handle them better, but I have not encountered one.

25:

Well, I have the text enlarged quite a bit, so the note numbers are still easily visible.

I'm mostly using Marvin on an iPad Mini now, based on Charlie's recommendation. Used to use iBooks until it glitched and hid most of my library. Both were adequate for interpreting taps correctly :-)

26:

Visible, yes, but MUCH smaller than even my pinky's tip! The problem is the relative size - if I enlarged the text enough to hit the note number reliably, there wouldn't be enough on a page to read it without going bananas.

Have you ever been inflicted with reading text through a 20x4 character keyhole? I have.

27:

On my iPad the notes are 10-12 point, roughly, for most books when I have the text at my usual viewing size. Big enough to tap reliably. I do tend to have 1-2 paragraphs on the screen at a time, so might be enlarging the text more than you'd be comfortable with.

I have worked with small displays before. Wrote dozens of articles on a palmtop. Don't miss those days at all!

28:

Charlie Stross @ 23: You can make a map, but don't expect me to proofread it!

I would not expect that. I just wanted to be sure I was not trespassing on your Intellectual Property if I did make one for my own use.

Don't know if I will, but I definitely would not if you opposed it.

29:

I refer you to my fanfic policy from 2010, which needs amending only to add that "fanfic" includes spin-off products like maps, songs, video games, epic poetry, bioengineered pets based on fictional animal species, and cartoons for purposes of not annoying me.

30:

bioengineered pets based on fictional animal species

Glowing green worms for the eyes of Residual Human Resources cosplayers definitely seem feasible.

31:

With reference to the comment in there "If you've got a commercial idea, drop me a line and we'll talk business."

I am no artist, but evidently at least one person with art skills is pondering the idea of maps. So if they are serious.

How about a collection of character portraits and pictures of important places/things in the story? Possibly with a map of the relevant timeline at the start of each section? That would need input from you Charlie, about what the people and things should look like.

32:

I, for one, would suggest creating and auctioning off (at a Con) The Official Authorial Map of the relationship of the timelines to each other in paratime. Considering that maps are supposed to be useful simplifications of the systems represented, that might be doable.

Probably best if this item is auctioned off for charity though. Possibly in a heavily sealed envelope.

33:

Heteromeles @ 32: I, for one, would suggest creating and auctioning off (at a Con) The Official Authorial Map of the relationship of the timelines to each other in paratime. Considering that maps are supposed to be useful simplifications of the systems represented, that might be doable.

Probably best if this item is auctioned off for charity though. Possibly in a heavily sealed envelope.

That's Charlie's prerogative if he wants to do that.

I was just thinking of taking an outline map of the U.S. showing the location of major cities, duplicating it a couple of times, erasing the cities from the two duplicated maps & replacing them with the names of whatever towns or other features are located in their places in the other timelines ... just to make it easier to track character locations, such as the Gruinmarkt has no city where Boston is located in ~USA and the Commonwealth

IF I did make such maps, they would be for MY PERSONAL USE ONLY. Y'all would never see them ... unless Charlie wanted copies and HE decided to share them with you.

34:

The Traders' War and Dark State arrived yesterday. The Revolution Trade arrived today. Empire Games & Invisible Sun are still on the way ...

I'm about 3/4 of the way through The Bloodline Feud.

35:
IF I did make such maps, they would be for MY PERSONAL USE ONLY. Y'all would never see them ... unless Charlie wanted copies and HE decided to share them with you.

TBH, I'm very surprised that you're asking Charlie's permission. If I felt the urge to make some maps of the different timelines on my own, for my own personal use, and never planned to show them to anyone, I would just go ahead and do it. It would never occur to me that this was anything other than a private matter that was entirely up to me.

36:

LAvery @ 35:

IF I did make such maps, they would be for MY PERSONAL USE ONLY. Y'all would never see them ... unless Charlie wanted copies and HE decided to share them with you.

TBH, I'm very surprised that you're asking Charlie's permission. If I felt the urge to make some maps of the different timelines on my own, for my own personal use, and never planned to show them to anyone, I would just go ahead and do it. It would never occur to me that this was anything other than a private matter that was entirely up to me.

I'm surprised too, because I wasn't asking permission to make maps. I was simply stating respect for Charlie's copyright.

37:

I will sell an NFT of the map; I'm sure everyone agrees that is completely aboveboard

38:

Sigh...Those who make silly jokes are condemned to explain them.

--Of course it's Charlie's prerogative. --Yes, he's expressed an active dislike of mapmaking. --No, I don't want to give him a hard time.

Therefore,

--What do you think a map of THREE (OR MORE) timeLINES would look like, if time runs MORE OR LESS IN PARALLEL on each of them?

My apologies to everyone else who thought this was vague amusing or something.

40:

What would a paratime map look like, a timeline (left to right) showing the time of the branch point?

I originally thought that, based on the information from the first set of books, that jaunting was the cause of a world branch (the timing seemed to fit), but from what I've read here (I haven't read the next set yet, I wanted OGH to finish this next first) that isn't what the author thought. oh well...

41:

The geography remains the same. Only the place names have been changed ...

42:

Unsurprisingly (at least to me) since the physical geography of the planet doesn't seem to vary much between timelines.

43:

paws4thot @ 42: Unsurprisingly (at least to me) since the physical geography of the planet doesn't seem to vary much between timelines.

Wasn't about the geography ..."the names have been changed ..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx5GwULPU90

44:

I've gotten more conservative about buying print books, now that we have two people in a three-bedroom apartment that holds 10 1/2 sets of bookshelves; a book has to justify taking up shelf space. But on the other hand, my first preference is for reading print; my second is for reading on a 27-inch monitor; e-readers and tablets are less satisfying than either. I find that I prefer to have books that I really love in hard copy; we have Austen and Kipling and Sayers and Nix in that form, for example. Books that I do want to read, but don't expect to love so much that I want to commit shelf space, go on my hard drive.

I never read books on my phone; my eyes can't handle tiny print, and tolerably large print puts so few words on the screen that it feels like drinking a good ginger beer one drop at a time. I'm accustomed to casting my eyes over a book-sized page. I can get that from a desktop monitor; my e-reader and tablet are just a little smaller than optimal.

I also prefer to carry around print books if I want something to read while waiting for a medical appointment or the like. I don't quite trust myself to keep track of a portable electronic device while I'm running errands; I might start thinking about something else and set it down—I lost two pairs of glasses that way and had to replace them! Though now that mass market paperbacks are a dying phylum I probably need to rethink that.

45:

Well plate tectonics is driven by convection within the planet's mantle, so if there was a timeline which diverged from ours a few hundred million years ago then its quite likely that the geography would be distinctly different. The flora and fauna would also be very different too. Hmmm. Could be a story there.

46:

We don't actually know how predictable geology is (i.e. as distinct from chaotic), but any divergence before 100 Myears isn't likely to have even the same orders of mammal! The great apes didn't evolve until c. 25 Myears ago, let alone the hominids, and we know that that sort of evolution it at least partly chaotic. Differences like that would be a LOT more visible to jaunters.

47:

You've got my point almost exactly backwards. My point was that, in the few inhabited timelines we visit, the physical geography is similar, so the surprise would be if the habitations were in much different places.

48:

In the sense that pre-XX century cities had to be located near rivers and the like?

That's something I often discuss with youngsters; they simply don't get this need for e.g. a close water supply in a city formation.

49:

You need water, but lakes also work, and streams are enough for quite large villages; there are also places with multiple streams close by (enough for4 sizeable towns). The reason that habitations on rivers (or the sea) are the ones that turned into cities was primarily transport.

50:

Yes, I agree that geology has a large stochastic component. Things that might matter include earthquakes (with follow-ons for river flows and the locations of springs and lakes where people settle) volcanoes, big landslides (especially the big monsters that hit volcanic high islands), and erosional features like canyons.

The other thing a lot of people don't realize is just how much landscapes have changed, especially in places like Southern California where development coincided with cheap oil and big egos. The ground's not the same here as it was even 100 years ago. For one example, my favorite little ravine recently got buried under 60 feet of fill. The only reason was they wanted to bridge the top of the ravine in a relatively straight line so that cars could drive at 30 mph over it without much of a dip. Jaunt at the top of that fill, and you're going to fall 60 feet. Multiply this by most of the developed West Coast, and you've got one hell of a paratime environment to hurt characters with.

As for alt-Deep Time, that's something I've played with a lot. It's a lot of masochistic fun, especially when you find out how much of the evidence is partial jawbones and bits of leaf, and how much those gorgeous panoramas in the books are guesswork.

For those who are not into that kind of fun but want to play in alt-Deep Time a little, what I'd suggest is Charlie's uninhabited world, where humans never wiped out the megafauna. There's a lot of evidence for that world, especially from places like the La Brea Tar Pits. By a lot of evidence, I mean that they haul out fossils of everything from beetles to plant parts to mammoths by the ton, so we've got an extremely good idea of what things looked like here.

However, if you want to jaunt between LA LA Land and uninhabited La Brean SoCal, be aware that the whole effing place is built up and/or dug down, so you better be off trail in a completely undeveloped park. Jaunting at the side of a freeway is taking your life into your hands.

51:

That's something I often discuss with youngsters; they simply don't get this need for e.g. a close water supply in a city formation.

Big aqueducts take years to decades to build. Admittedly, most of that time is spent on the politics, but they're big undertakings.

The interesting part of this is that there's a dependable place to find good springs: major earthquake faults, especially lateral slip faults like the San Andreas. The reason is that aquifers in the fault get severed by the earth movement. Water then tends to follow the fault zone (which is porous) and reach the surface.

A lot of the towns on the east side of the San Francisco Bay align on the Hayward Fault, because that's where the water was. That fault goes right through UC Berkeley, right next to the chemistry building and the Lawrence Berkeley Virology Lab...At least they moved the hospital from on top of the fault to the other end of campus. That might help a little.

52:

Good luck trying that in most of the world (*) :-) There are plenty of other ways in which you can find reliable water supplies, in most locations; many of them have comparable problems (usually flooding).

(*) http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/world-quakes/gfx/hi-quakes-map-852.jpg

53:

That assumes that the villages, or even the folks in a single village, agree on, say, tanners must be on the outflow, and no peeing in the lake.

54:

Not necessarily; settlements also tend to form where there is a ford, or the river can easily be bridge.

55:

Er, do you know how many mediaeval by-laws and legal disputes were about precisely such issues?

56:

Is that a rhetorical question? Don't we still have them?

57:

The context has changed so dramatically that arguably we don't have even similar laws any more. You almost have to go to the philosophical level of 'laws against pollution'. Not to mention the change in who makes the laws and how they're enforced :)

Just ask "what's the equivalant of the EPA in this situation" or to flip the question, "whose fief is trespassed by this pollution".

I had the joy of trying to explain "your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins" to an antivaxxer a while ago. They admitted to understanding the literal meaning, and that covid is a real disease, but did not want to admit to understanding that wilfully spreading covid was a bad thing. Part of that was genuine trouble with probabilities, which is shared by a whole lot of people*, but part of it was an insistence that rights must be either absolute or non-existent. They also struggled with irrevocable loses, which I associate more with libertarians then anyone else, but it is kind of an attractive way to justify "I get to do what I like and you get to suck it up".

  • find that drink-driving is one way out of that mess - most people agree that driving drunk is bad and should be discouraged, even though most drunk driving trips don't result in a crash. But "I'm going to throw a dice and if I roll six I will punch you" doesn't, they get hung up on the "I choose to punch you" rather than the dice roll.
58:

Since the phrase "over my dead body" does show up occasionally when someone proposes to fiddle with water rights--and justifiably--water law tends to be accretionary, new laws and rights being added onto old ones.

Rules do change though. For instance, rivers do, to some degree, self-clean (well, their ecosystems break down pollutants), so if you have a medieval situation of a couple of small towns many miles apart, and they aren't dumping interesting elements like mercury or lead, the crap going in upstream is regarded as irrelevant downstream, because it doesn't reach them. That bit of law broke down in the late 19th Century in the US, because rivers can't self clean when there are too many people dumping too much stuff.

The other thing as I've learned is that bureaucratic and lawyerly power comes from a mastery of the intricacies of accreted law. There's little incentive for these people to rewrite the entire system, even when (as with California's badly mismanaged aquifers) there are hugely compelling reasons to rewrite the whole system.

59:

You're playing grandfather's axe IMO. Or in this case more like Grandfather's chainsaw. Viz, it's a whole new thing built knowing of the axe but having no components in common and being used in a significantly different way.

I'm also thinking about the sovereign citizens who think that new laws don't override and replace old ones.

60:

Ulthar Dweller @ 48: In the sense that pre-XX century cities had to be located near rivers and the like?

That's something I often discuss with youngsters; they simply don't get this need for e.g. a close water supply in a city formation.

Elderly Cynic @ 49: You need water, but lakes also work, and streams are enough for quite large villages; there are also places with multiple streams close by (enough for4 sizeable towns). The reason that habitations on rivers (or the sea) are the ones that turned into cities was primarily transport.

There are other factors as well. Often a town will grow up on a hill beside a river because it's a more defensible location (Rome & London?) and locations where it's easy to ford or bridge a river (London?).

The available technology at the time of settlement might have an effect as well. IIRC my Roman history from high school Latin class, Rome started on the Palantine Hill near the Tiber island just about as far up as it is possible to take a ship before you encounter rapids. So you've got access to water, a defensible site and a place to ford/bridge the river all in one.

In our own "new world", industrial mill towns grew up at the fall line on rivers because it was both the limit of inland navigation and a source of water power for mills.

In later days a new city might be founded on the basis of a political compromise. There's no natural geographic reason for Washington, DC to be where it is. The land was largely a pestilential swamp, but it was approximately half way between the northern most and southern most colonies that became the United States and placing it in its own district there defused the debate between Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York over who would have the power that comes with the national capital being in their territory.

I believe Brazil did the same thing for their capital. What cities in Eurasia might have been founded for political purposes?

61:

Heteromeles @ 50: Yes, I agree that geology has a large stochastic component. Things that might matter include earthquakes (with follow-ons for river flows and the locations of springs and lakes where people settle) volcanoes, big landslides (especially the big monsters that hit volcanic high islands), and erosional features like canyons.

The other thing a lot of people don't realize is just how much landscapes have changed, especially in places like Southern California where development coincided with cheap oil and big egos. The ground's not the same here as it was even 100 years ago. For one example, my favorite little ravine recently got buried under 60 feet of fill. The only reason was they wanted to bridge the top of the ravine in a relatively straight line so that cars could drive at 30 mph over it without much of a dip. Jaunt at the top of that fill, and you're going to fall 60 feet. Multiply this by most of the developed West Coast, and you've got one hell of a paratime environment to hurt characters with.

...

However, if you want to jaunt between LA LA Land and uninhabited La Brean SoCal, be aware that the whole effing place is built up and/or dug down, so you better be off trail in a completely undeveloped park. Jaunting at the side of a freeway is taking your life into your hands.

If memory serves, you can cross over if there's nothing blocking the way on the other side, but if there IS something there you can't. Using your example of the filled ravine, you'd be able to cross from ~USA to the world of the Gruinmarkt, although that first step is going to be a doozy. But you wouldn't be able to cross back unless you built a structure in the ravine to bring you up to the necessary level on the other side.

That's why during "The Trader's War" they had to build a scaffold inside the circus tent in the park so they could cross over into the upper level of the castle on the other side.

It's also why you couldn't use the engram for the Commonwealth from Boston in ~USA. The relative Time Line (TL4?) it took you too was under a 200' thick glacier that ended somewhere around the latitude of central Maryland. Once you got far enough south that you were beyond the edge of the glacier you could cross over.

62:

Moz @ 57: * find that drink-driving is one way out of that mess - most people agree that driving drunk is bad and should be discouraged, even though most drunk driving trips don't result in a crash.

About 25 years ago I had my first encounter with the willfully selfish Randian Libertarian mindset over that very subject. They would NOT agree that ANY laws that restricted their RIGHTS were justified; not drivers licenses, not automobile licenses, not mandatory liability insurance ... NOT DRUNK DRIVING LAWS. They held that as along as they were not involved in an accident, it was none of the state's business.

They also opposed anti-pollution laws. If they wanted to fuck up the environment on their property that was nobody's business but theirs, even if the pollution poisoned surrounding property.

Essentially their argument was they had an ABSOLUTE RIGHT to "swing their fist" and it was your fault if your nose got in the way.

63: 58 para 2 - I'm not sure I agree with "self-cleaning" as a choice of verb. "(Self-)diluting" might be better, since it acknowledges the actual mechanism by which polutants that don't react with air and.or water in useful ways are reduced in concentration as they move downstream.

Ok, it does also suggest that it is at least less bad to dump pollutants when there is a longer stretch of course and/or a major tributary between yourselves and the next settlement downstream.

60 - Agreed about the geopolitics. I'm not going to rewrite the books (or even the Wikipedia articles) but this has a lot to do with why Glasgow, Port Glasgow and Dumbarton all are where they are.

Para the last - I don't know for sure of any in Eurasia (St Petersburg, Russia maybe?) Ok, that's a port, but it was established by the Tzars partly in an attempt to break the hold of Moscow on Russian (used advisedly) politics and economics. Otherwise, beside the cites of Washington DC and Brasilia, I'm coming up with Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

64:

I believe Brazil did the same thing for their capital. What cities in Eurasia might have been founded for political purposes?

Well, Helsinki was founded in 1550 by a decree of the King (of Sweden, Gustav Vasa), who ordered the bourgeoisie of the towns on the Finnish coast to move there. (Of course it was at that time Swedish coast, just on the other side of the Gulf of Bothnia from most of Sweden.) The plan was to make it a competitor for Tallinn for the Russian trade, but Sweden soon (in 1561) got Tallinn, too, so Helsinki didn't grow as much as planned.

The capital of the Finland region was Turku at the time. Helsinki was only made the capital 1912, three years after the Eastern part of Sweden was lost to Russia. That means most of current Finland.

So, Helsinki was both founded by a decree, with probably both economic and political aims, and then made into the capital for purely political aims. Turku was seen to be too far from Saint Petersburg and probably too Swedish for the Russians.

65:

Helsinki was only made the capital 1912

In 1812, of course. By 1912 Finland had gotten some ideas about independence and Helsinki was The Capital, anyway, except for some people in Turku.

66:

Thanks; my failure to mention Helsinki in #63 was down to "not knowing enough Finnish history".

Which got me to thinking. Whilst the city is older, Edinburgh only became the capital of Scotland in the 15th Century; for example, Perth was a capital of Scotland since at least the 12th century, due in part to its proximity to Scone Abbey where the kings of Scotland were crowned...

67:

Until you have a coinage based economy and can therefore easily transport value from one part of the counrty to another, capitals are a bit notional given the royal court had to travel around the country so they could eat their taxes.

Also parliaments becoming powerful enough to gather where they want to rather than wherever the monarch happens to find convenient at the time is a factor.

68:

On another note completely, Happy Birthday to Our Gentle Host! That no paper woes, no writers block nor digital nightmares ever befall him! The best for you, your family and cats, Mr. Stross!

69:

I believe Brazil did the same thing for their capital.

Brasilia was founded quite recently (1961) both as a planned city (no road intersections, just roundabouts and bridges/ramps, for instance) and an attempt at developing the country's interior.

It'd be like putting Washington DC in Colorado or Kansas, for a USAian comparison.

70:

Which is where we came in, in MP1 (either version), World 1.

71:

Yes... "established explicitly as a capital" tends, naturally, to be the sort of thing you find more in places where people didn't start building cities until after the concept of a capital had become established. In places where settlement preceded that degree of political organisation, "repurposed as a capital" is almost always the more practical option. Or even "successively repurposed as different power groups' capital", on which note it occurred to me that the Berlin Elizabeth Hanover was familiar with would be very different from the TL2 one even without all the modern technology stuff, the French Empire having clobbered the ambitions of Prussia.

72:

The "established explicitly as a capital" list may well include Constantinople and Alexandria. And Tenochtitlan, Cuzco, Angkor, probably a few others...

73:

Until you have a coinage based economy and can therefore easily transport value from one part of the counrty to another, capitals are a bit notional given the royal court had to travel around the country so they could eat their taxes

I think a dozen-odd dynasties of Egyptian Pharaohs might disagree with you, just a wee bit.

Coinage as we understand it is an iron age phenomenon. Prior to that, things like credit and valuing precious metals by weight (e.g. per shekel) mattered more. The Bronze Age managed long-distance international trade without coins or money. And not by barter either.

As for kings moving around, I agree that it was, in part, because the resources in some (not all) kingdoms were insufficient to keep the royal court fed all year in one place. An equally strong argument was that the nomadic court was a system designed to keep powerful vassals under control by forcing them to bear the cost of hosting the entire court on a regular basis, and it was also a threat to their uppity neighbors, if the court also had the best army with it.

This is Ye Olde English Model. AIUI, Ye Olde Model Francais was to have all roads in France lead through Paris, to make it easier for the king to control and tax trade on the roads. Both systems can work reasonably well in context.

74:

I agree, but when we start discussing this sort of thing as political history rather than land use geography, I tend to become well aware that I studied lug more than I studied ph at school, and neither in tertiary education!

75:

No idea what's behind the youtube links (because video and youtube), but Constantinople was the renamed and repurposed version of Byzantium, which was ancient, but not a capital; and Alexandria was built by Alexander in order to piddle memorably on Egypt's lamp-post, and wasn't a capital until Ptolemy decided to make it one. They're both repurposings, not new establishments.

76:

It strikes me that it was remarkably dumb of the DHS to have Rita's first visit to the Commonwealth come out in a big railway switchyard. Kind of place you can pretty much guarantee that the ground level will have been dug down or made up compared to what your own is in that spot. >kerthump< Shit, there's a freight train coming and I've broken my leg and I can't jaunt back...

77:

There has been long-distance trade in western Europe since neolithic times, but we have scarcely a clue about how it worked; we do know that it wasn't based on centralised societies, so there were no capitals. Nor do we know how the Phoenicians operated outside the Mediterranean. I believe that many other areas in the world have similar evidence of early long-distance trade and similar lack of detailed knowledge.

78:

We're fairly sure that, on some occasions it worked as "I have $shiny you want; You have furs I want. Swap?".

Or with bronze, either tin or copper miners travelled to the other sort of mine and swapped metal (ore) for manufactured bronze goods.

79:

As that still goes on today, even in the most monetarised societies, obviously it happened. But I was specifically referring to long-distance trade, where all we know is that some artifacts and valuable materials arrived a long way away from their source, and limited evidence of the ships and roads they used.

80:

Ulthar Dweller @ 69:

I believe Brazil did the same thing for their capital.

Brasilia was founded quite recently (1961) both as a planned city (no road intersections, just roundabouts and bridges/ramps, for instance) and an attempt at developing the country's interior.

It'd be like putting Washington DC in Colorado or Kansas, for a USAian comparison.

Was Brasilia placed in an existing state? The whole idea behind DC was that the seat of the Federal Government would NOT be in any existing state.

In the U.S. it would mean DC could not be in either Colorado or Kansas, but it could be in a district carved out between the two states.

81:

Brasilia is an administrative division rather than a legal municipality like other cities in Brazil.

82:

Heteromeles @ 72: The "established explicitly as a capital" list may well include Constantinople and Alexandria. And Tenochtitlan, Cuzco, Angkor, probably a few others...

I'm pretty sure both Constantinople and Alexandria were existing cities before they became capitals.

OTOH, Washington, DC didn't exist before the first Congress passed the Residence Act (Officially: "An Act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the Government of the United State"

This is only germane because there's a DC in our world and in ~USA because Congress put it there. What reason would the Gruinmarkt or the Commonwealth have for putting a city in the same location? I haven't been able to think of any.

83:

Others pointed out about Byzantium and Alexandria. And you're partially correct.

My understanding is that Byzantium, before it became Constantinople, is legendarily a colony (aka city-state) named after its founder, King Byzas. Or possibly after a billy-goat. I'd goofed because I remembered a reference saying it was a fishing town before Constantine grabbed it, when it was a trading port.

Alexandria's the nastier one. It was prdered built by Alexander the Great. If you dig into his history, it might be that he was intending for it to be his capitol, or one of his capitols. Hard to tell with a megalomaniac. Anyway, he died before those plans came to fruition.

But the point remains: if you're talking about cities founded by kings to rule their little empires, that's not a new phenomenon.

If you want to dive into the marshes, look up the history of Rome, named after Romulus....perhaps.

84:

Correct, it's called Distrito Federal (Federal District), DF for short.

85:

JBS writes:

They could take a blank U.S. (North America?) map [and Europe/Asia as needed] and insert the place names as from the different timelines. A reader could superimpose the maps to see the geographic relationships

How about adding a custom layer to OpenStreetMap to show your Empire Games locations? I assume there is editing software available for that. I also found someone's experience with setting that up as a web page (if you don't want people to have to load up the editor to view the layer):

https://asmaloney.com/2014/01/code/creating-an-interactive-map-with-leaflet-and-openstreetmap/

86:

Heteromeles @ 83: Others pointed out about Byzantium and Alexandria. And you're partially correct.

My understanding is that Byzantium, before it became Constantinople, is legendarily a colony (aka city-state) named after its founder, King Byzas. Or possibly after a billy-goat. I'd goofed because I remembered a reference saying it was a fishing town before Constantine grabbed it, when it was a trading port.

Alexandria's the nastier one. It was prdered built by Alexander the Great. If you dig into his history, it might be that he was intending for it to be his capitol, or one of his capitols. Hard to tell with a megalomaniac. Anyway, he died before those plans came to fruition.

But the point remains: if you're talking about cities founded by kings to rule their little empires, that's not a new phenomenon.

But that wasn't the point ... I was mentioning that there were reasons of physical geography why cities would be located in the same places in Gruinmarkt, ~USA & New Britain (later known as The Commonwealth). In all three timelines there's a city at New York/New London/Niejwein; Boston exists in both ~USA & New Britain with Fort Lofstrom in Gruinmarkt dopplegangered in ~USA's Boston metro area.

But Washington, DC only exists in ~USA because it was established where it was because of a particular political compromise at the Constitutional Convention, not because of any natural advantage conferred by the physical geography of the area.

If you want to dive into the marshes, look up the history of Rome, named after Romulus....perhaps.

The SNARK is uncalled for. Just because I hated having three years of high school Latin forced upon me doesn't mean I wasn't paying attention.

ROME was "founded" on a hill. Marshes in the lowlands around that hill enhanced the defensible location. The proto-Romans didn't live in the marshes. And the marshes were filled in long before Rome became a city of note.

PS: Wear a hat and no one will notice the point.

87:

AGMS @ 85: JBS writes:

They could take a blank U.S. (North America?) map [and Europe/Asia as needed] and insert the place names as from the different timelines. A reader could superimpose the maps to see the geographic relationships

How about adding a custom layer to OpenStreetMap to show your Empire Games locations? I assume there is editing software available for that. I also found someone's experience with setting that up as a web page (if you don't want people to have to load up the editor to view the layer):

https://asmaloney.com/2014/01/code/creating-an-interactive-map-with-leaflet-and-openstreetmap/

Sure. IIRC, the question was WHY anyone would want maps?

I suggested a use I might have for them - to show where cities were co-located (and where they are not). I mentioned the technique I am most familiar with because it was the first that came to mind ... It was just the way I would do it if I wanted to make those maps.

I'm sure there are a hundred other ways someone could do it if they wanted to make those maps. You gotta' choose the method that works for you.

88:

I think I might have found the root cause of publishing supply chain woes. My wife just got a copy of “Always Home” by Fanny Singer from the library. It’s heavy.

I don’t mean heavy going, or heavy emotional - I mean heavy. It’s not that large but bugger me, it’s heavy. The pages appear to be made with Tungsten reinforced paper, possibly with condensed matter filler.

So, obviously this explains the problem. Moving those books around has broken the equipment and no other books can be shipped until repairs are effected. Which is of course impossible because of Brexit.

89: 85 - I've no experience with OpenStreetMap, but other GIS packages do have the ability to add multiple layers to their map databases. 86 - Indeed, I made exactly the same point about physical geography. No-one's mentioned it, but I think there's a city at about the location of "our" San Francisco in timelines 1, 2 and 3 because there's a natural harbour there.

My home town is where it is because it's at a bridgeable ford on one river and the most downstream ford on another.

90:

"In all three timelines there's a city at New York/New London/Niejwein"

That's not where Niejwein is; we have Rita stumbling around in the woods at that location in TL1, with no trace of any kind of habitation even of the fallen down and charred on one side variety, and explaining that the glass bit starts about a hundred miles north of there. I think it was more like where Boston is, but I need to re-read the first series to be sure.

Same point applies, of course - the site has the same attraction for city founders in all three TLs - just a different site. And similarly it makes sense that there isn't a port city round the mouth of the Hudson in TL1: no society in that TL and area is operating on anywhere near the scale where you have ports big enough to want sites that big for them. There would have been blink-and-you'll-miss-it fishing villages in the little creeks but no more than that.

91:

Pigeon @ 90:

"In all three timelines there's a city at New York/New London/Niejwein"

That's not where Niejwein is; we have Rita stumbling around in the woods at that location in TL1, with no trace of any kind of habitation even of the fallen down and charred on one side variety, and explaining that the glass bit starts about a hundred miles north of there. I think it was more like where Boston is, but I need to re-read the first series to be sure.

Same point applies, of course - the site has the same attraction for city founders in all three TLs - just a different site. And similarly it makes sense that there isn't a port city round the mouth of the Hudson in TL1: no society in that TL and area is operating on anywhere near the scale where you have ports big enough to want sites that big for them. There would have been blink-and-you'll-miss-it fishing villages in the little creeks but no more than that.

The "family" palace in Gruinmarkt is in Niejwein in "The Bloodline Feud" and it's dopplegangered with a Garment District warehouse in New York City. When Miriam crosses over to the warehouse she takes a cab to Penn Station & catches the Acela to Boston & back. She does the same when she & Brilliana are fleeing the assassins.

Niejwein is not as large as New York or New London. When Miriam and Olga cross over from the waiting room in the New London train station (for the emergency family meeting), they come out in the woods, but when they find a road they can see Niejwein.

"Miriam hadn't appreciated before just how crude, small, and just plain smelly the city was. It stood on a low bluff overlooking what might, in a few hundred years, mutate into the Port Authority."

So, Niejwein is at least co-located with part of mid-town Manhattan; about 1/4 mile WSW of Times Square.

92:

And, humph Philadelphia was going to be where it is. It was the best landing for beaching wooden ships over the winter. And, I'll note, used to be the largest fresh-water port in the world (90mi upriver from the Atlantic).

93:

I see - so, the paper it's printed on is the same one that they print textbooks on, to provide real exercise to small children, who have to carry half a dozen of them to and from home.

94:

I agree that printing textbooks on archival paper may be a little silly, given that they want a new edition every five years. That said, library quality, durable paper does make sense for a library book, and you need different papers for high quality illustration and text only, which is where the tradition of pulp paperbacks and collectors' editions came from.

95:

Er, those are "new growth" trees, less than 17 years old.

96:

I agree that printing textbooks on archival paper may be a little silly, given that they want a new edition every five years.

Textbooks are generally printed on clay paper so they can have colour. Even when not necessary for understanding, having colour increases sales. (Yes, the publishing companies have tested this.)

And 'they' may want a new edition every five years, but 10-15 is more likely the replacement schedule for most schools. (At least high schools.) Books are a significant expense — at my school the new books for one course was more than the department budget for an entire year, and we had 17 different science courses. So getting new books for one course meant convincing the principal that we needed extra money*, which also meant convincing them that we needed replacement books. "Falling apart" was an acceptable reason; "do not include recent discoveries" wasn't.

*Money can't be saved from year-to-year. At the end of a budget year, all unspent money is returned to general funds — first at school level, then at board level. And if you don't spend your full budget it might be smaller next year, because you obviously didn't need that much money if you didn't spend it. Yes, it's a stupid system.

97:

西京

H@72 writes: The "established explicitly as a capital" list may well include Constantinople and Alexandria. And Tenochtitlan, Cuzco, Angkor, probably a few others... They existed as settlements prior to their selection for political importance, but the name Beijing means northern capital. Nanjing means southern capital, from an earlier dynasty whose HQ was there, and it's still a provincial capital. The two characters pronounced "Tokyo" in Japanese are read as Dongjing in Chinese, meaning eastern capital.* So that's north, south and east, but I couldn't find a listing for Xijing, western capital, although somebody told me there used to be one.

I suppose if you had to specify the cultural and financial center of the Western World right now, it might be New York, but the name assigned it in Chinese is NiuYue, which was as close a phonetic approximation as they could manage with just two characters. Those characters have the meaning "button appointment", and it sort of describes the place, since it had a big garment district, was a place to go for meetings, and had their early Wall Street share trades taking place under a buttonwood tree.

Too bad they couldn't somehow have implied, into their character choice for its name, the old joke about a farmer who returned from NYC and described it simply as "T'aint necessary". Which it may yet prove to be if Zoom meetings eliminate expensive, hazardous, or unessential personal encounters. Less carbon emissions for sure, but the scary thing about that would be a worldwide financial panic from New York property markdowns causing banks to fail. Been there, done that, might have to do it again! Get ready for QE(N=n+1).

:) Just kidding, it'll never happen! Too many stubborn holdouts hanging on like grim death, they make their own weather system and their own reality too. There'll be elite exclusive condo associations for the top floors long after the bottom floors are submerged. Think Venice, with employment for thousands of Uber gondoliers. The worthwhile exercise is trying to figure out the necessary chain of events coming up, on the way there from here.

*And a check with Chinese wikipedia explains that present day Datong was known as Xijing during the Liao dynasty.

98:

Off-topic (?) Charlie has, once or twice, referred back to an R.A.H. description of the ten-future: "The Crazy Years". Well, for dangerously crazy... how about this - again??? Is there nothing that can be done about these people? They are disrupting hospitals when they are already under enormous pressure & making everyone's lives miserable. I would have though a "Public Order" offence has been committed, at the very least. Suggestion: Arrest the lot & charge them under the Mental Health Acts - with any luck, sectioning a few of them, might dissuade the others? They are endangering lives.

99:

Have you actually looked at these stupid textbooks? With what is about 2" white border around every single page?

100:

What you say applies to any major city. "T'aint necessary"? Really? So, you want the 8M folks of NYC to spread out over the countryside, taking over farmland for suburban sprawl? Oh, and while we're at it, there go all the museums, etc.

101:

"taking over farmland for suburban sprawl"

Good point. All the more incentive for me to ponder intermediate required transition steps enabling New Venice City to emerge from present day New York. Like infrastructure development. Must be a way to make money off it if you knew in advance what has to happen first. Maybe find out who makes mildew remover?

102:

So, you're talking about Kim Stanley Robinson's NYC 2140?

103:

Continuing on the theme of comparing maps of the timelines ...

I'm into the "Trader's War" now and Mike Flemming is debriefing Matthias. Describing the Gruinmarkt, Matthias has this to say:

"The other world is superficially like this one. There is a river not far from here, for example, roughly where the Charles River flows. But there is no city. Most of Boston lies under the open sea. Cambridge is heavily forested."

I vaguely remembered that a significant portion of Boston has been built out into Massachusetts Bay on fill. Apparently colonial Boston was almost an island, connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. In the Gruinmarkt this never happened.

A Plan of THE TOWN OF BOSTON with the Intrenchments OF HIS MAJESTY'S FORCES in 1775 from the observations of LieuT Page of His Majesty's Corps of Engineers, and from those of other Gentlemen

I'm guessing there was no settlement there because there were no Puritans from Boston in England ... probably no Lincolnshire ... in fact, probably no England.

Miriam muses at one point that when Rome fell there was no Islam, no Judaism and no Christianity to preserve the knowledge Rome had accumulated, so the Dark Ages lasted much longer in TL1; presumably into the 18th century CE.

I don't think they had even yet begun a Renaissance when the story begins. The Clan introduced technology, but not the underlying way of thinking that led to developing those technologies.

Did the Roman Empire penetrate into Britannia before falling in TL1? Would there have been any residual influences from the Romanization of Britain as there were in our own world?

104:

Have you actually looked at these stupid textbooks? With what is about 2" white border around every single page?

I've been a teacher for three decades. I think it's safe to say I've looked at textbooks!

What sells a textbook is not necessarily quality material, but fancy appearance. To really evaluate a textbook is a time-consuming process, and frequently the people tasked with making the choice aren't the ones using the book, so they go with a gut feel and move on to other decisions. Which works about as well as you might expect.

So superfluous full-colour, which increases cost and weight, because an old-fashioned B&W with maybe some blue accent printing tends not to sell. Like I said, publishers have tested this.

Offering support materials like teacher manuals and question banks, even when such materials invariably turn out to be crap, because if you don't then you don't make the sale.

I could keep about the politics of textbook publishing going if you like…

105:

Is there nothing that can be done about these people?

There is something bigger going on. We have it here also. I've read reports about such in France and Germany and other places I can't remember.

https://www.npr.org/2021/10/20/1047336966/organizing-on-social-media-covid-skeptics-drive-public-health-professionals-from

While NPR is a radio/TV organization they provide their reports in readable text.

106:

Not necessary to talk about the politics of textbook buying - I read Feynmann's autobiography long ago, where he talked about being put on the committee.

107:

David L I knew that it was not confined to the UK or even Europe ... but that linked piece is extremely worrying. Is there a loosely-organised "Worldwide fascist conspiracy"? Or what? Except the "leaders" are leading theor followers to death ... "Viva el muerte" or something?

108:

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE

An OpenReach engineer is tinkering with my broadband connection RIGHT NOW as my months-delayed fibre optic connection has finally arrived.

I'm tethering off an iPad for the time being. There may be a distinct lack of me around here for a while, until I get the household firewall and routers reconfigured properly.

109:

... Aaaand I'M BACK.

Now with 50Mbps outgoing, which will probably be sufficient for me to move my blog in-house in due course (need to do some traffic measurements and set up a cheap/small server first), which will hopefully save me roughly £1000/year in colocation fees.

(As the fibre connection has automatic fail-over onto 4G -- or 5G, when it arrives in this neck of the woods -- it should be sufficiently reliable, bar the risk of domestic power cuts. And I am willing to put up with a 1-6 hour average annual downtime due to power cuts in return for saving £1000/year.)

110:

I'm not going to say don't worry, but I will say that there were rabid anti-vaxxers against smallpox vaccinations back in the 19th Century. If you can be against vaccinating for smallpox, covid19's not scary at all. Similarly, there were essentially leaderless political waves that would-be leaders kept trying to surf, with varying success rates (Mao and Stalin surfed the longest, I think). As before, we've got rabid authoritarians and mobilized do-good (for me and/or for us) types fighting each other.

Perhaps the problem isn't just what's going on right now, it's that all of us have been conditioned by capital P Progress to expect things to be different this time? Perhaps we're not at the end of history, but at yet another juncture where history is continuing other means, those means being our history-ending technologies that the street has found other uses for.

111:

My fears are different.

Back 100+ years ago there were how many people in the US and Europe (to be a bit western centric) who could discuss such issues rationally? Maybe 1 in 100,000.

Now that number should be more on the order of 9 of 10.

And of those 9 somewhere between 2 and 5 are acting completely nuts. As it buys them power in some way.

Both numbers are wild guesses on my part but you get my meaning.

112:

My experience is that 80% of people never think rationally, and another 18% do so only when their prejudices are not involved. What the figures for in earlier eras were, I can't say, as I wasn't born, but I suspect little different.

113:

I'll cop to being one of the 18%, with the note that my prejudices include "Bozo is an idiot" and "refusing a simple treatment that can stop you getting a very uncomfortable condition is stupid".

114:

Given the reluctance to change all the US state constitutions that have "swear an oath to a supreme being" as a condition for public office I'm going to say nope. Mind you, a lot of those were in reaction to the various English laws against papists holding office... (and FWIW the USA supreme court found those requirements unconstitutional in the 1960's, but it's hard to amend constitutions).

In Australia we have a similar problem with MP's not being allowed to have "foreign allegiances" but also having to swear loyalty to a foreign monarch (who is for that purpose deemed Australian).

Mind you, if I was thinking rationally I'd have looked at the weather forecast and gone to bed before it started raining...

115:

In Australia we have a similar problem with MP's not being allowed to have "foreign allegiances" but also having to swear loyalty to a foreign monarch (who is for that purpose deemed Australian). You want her, you can have her. ;-)

116:

She's not very mobile right now, but if you want a few years we can probably package her up in a nice compact urn and ship her to you by Fedex.

117:

“ So, you're talking about Kim Stanley Robinson's NYC 2140?”

I should have guessed a target obvious as New York sea level rise would have already had someone do the heavy lifting as far as considering all the implications. Library catalog description looks interesting, got it ordered, thanks!

118:

ship her to you by Fedex

Pick a carrier that doesn't involve a US hub. Just now she might get lost in Memphis due to worker shortages and volume increases creating a lot of hassles there.

I'm not so sure our media could deal with "Queen lost in Tennessee" just now.

119:

Can we find a second version of TL3 from which to ship over Elizabeth Hanover as a replacement when the time comes?

120:

paws4thot @ 113: I'll cop to being one of the 18%, with the note that my prejudices include "Bozo is an idiot" and "refusing a simple treatment that can stop you getting a very uncomfortable condition is stupid".

I expect the 80% who don't, won't or can't think rationally are that way because the > 1% who actually run things want them to be that way. Poorly educated people don't handle information overload very well. I consider myself to be fairly well educated - no thanks to most of my public school education (U.S. public school, i.e. "government funded" by the taxpayers, mandatory attendance "free" schools) which mostly teaches you to sit down, shut up and do what you're told to do by your betters - and I have problems with information overload; separating the wheat from the chaff.

I went to school in a time when they did occasionally teach critical thinking skills. What are those who have never been exposed to them to do? How do they separate news from propaganda?

I don't think they're stupid, just ignorant and poorly educated.

121:

David L @ 118:

ship her to you by Fedex

Pick a carrier that doesn't involve a US hub. Just now she might get lost in Memphis due to worker shortages and volume increases creating a lot of hassles there.

I'm not so sure our media could deal with "Queen lost in Tennessee" just now.

I was going to suggest DHL. Most everything I've ever had shipped from Europe or pre-Brexit U.K. came by them.

Reading their Wikipedia entry it turns out the company started here in the U.S. As they expanded overseas they established hubs in Europe & Asia. They're currently owned (51% of shares) by Deutsche Post.

I wonder if "Queen lost in Leipzig!" would go down any more smoothly?

122:

I don't think they're stupid, just ignorant and poorly educated.

I totally agree.

And you can tell who wants to keep them that way. Take Michael Gove, for example. When he was minister in charge of the Department for Education, he made a point of banging on about the teaching of history in schools -- insisted it should go back to the traditional stuff, "kings, dates, and battles", none of this modern social history which might have provided some context for why some of those revolutions and battles were happening, much less inform the kids that the reason their lives were so much less sucky than their ancestors' had something to do with the union movement, civil rights, alternative (non-conservative) social theories ...

Same with mathematics (why is statistics so narrowly taught, and primarily targeted at those STEM students who need it in their professional coursework, rather than, say, "how to lie with employment statistics"?).

The USA caught a break in 1958 with the "Sputnik moment", which scared the crap out of Eisenhower and his peers and started a powerful push for science education. But that petered out after a generation -- by the 1980s to early 1990s -- and is now more or less forgotten (folks who remember the fright of Soviet space power in 1958 are now very elderly).

The UK is currently (and usually) ruled by a semi-hereditary aristocracy who really don't believe in sharing education with the proles -- it might encourage them to get uppity, so they'll allow some proportion to get heavily into debt to pursue STEM subjects and professional qualifications, but they're currently cutting art and design funding in universities by 50%, having pared it to the bone in the schools for the past decade. (Who needs "artists"? Not the computer animation business, or games, or music, or our other cultural exports ...)

123: 118 - DHL is a division of Deutsche Post. 120 - Quite possibly. OTOH I'm rational enough to have identified at least some of my prejudices. 121 - Well, she does have German ancestry... 122 Para 3 - Why worry about how statistics is taught? Just change the base every 2 or 3 years and hardly anyone will catch you. Hardly anyone will actually listen to the few who do catch you anyway.
124:

I totally agree.

I don't. In the US I know too many people with 4 years or more of college who are anti-vac or anti-mask (science proves they don't work,right?), or whatever nonsense their tribe runs on.

They have decided tribal identity means more than critical thinking. I and my wife are/have parted ways with multiple people we thought of as friends.

125:

I'm with David L on this one. Education is no cure for idiocy.

Last year my wife described a number of her more conservative colleagues at the hospital squirming to be the last in line for the vaccine when it first came out and they were mandated to get it within 30 days. These are people with decades of experience and advanced degrees and credentials.

Perhaps the problem is less tribal thinking and more compartmentalized thinking. My notion is that the problem (as at the hospital) is that many people compartmentalize their work and personal lives, and often compartmentalize their politics. This works fine when the different pieces of their lives don't overlap. It's like the biologists who fly around the world to study endangered species, go on exotic vacations to "gain experience", fly to international conferences to speak out about the need to prevent global warming...

In this notion, people who compartmentalize stuff often end up either being massive hypocrites, or have to make tribalist decisions when different parts of their lives conflict. Last year, this meant that ardent republicans who worked at hospitals had to make hard choices about which aspect of their lives to betray, their job or their politics. Now it's worth being concerned about the large numbers of police and fire personnel who are putting personal politics ahead of public safety. A year ago I had a soupcon of pity for those who were stuck with this dilemma. Now, with Faux News and the Republican elite all universally vaccinated, I've lost what little sympathy I had, because actions speak louder than any words do.

There are two problems with this idea. One is that I'm not a psychologist, so presuming I'm on yet another Dunning-Kruger fueled kick is quite wise. The other is that there's no easy cure for it. For instance, hospital workers often compartmentalize their lives (and their work) as a necessary strategy to deal with the daily unpleasantness of working with sick people. Forcing them to blend the pieces of their lives together isn't necessarily a good thing, especially if they have no time to develop other coping strategies for dealing with messy lives.

126:

We could make her ashes into diamonds and that way every commonwealth country that wants one can have a bit. It seems appropriate.

Sadly they use the post-cremation ashes rather than burning you down to carbon and using that to make the actual diamond. I was hoping for a big squish or something exciting. https://www.lonite.com.au/

127:

Charlie Stross @ 122:

I don't think they're stupid, just ignorant and poorly educated.

I totally agree.

And you can tell who wants to keep them that way. Take Michael Gove, for example. When he was minister in charge of the Department for Education, he made a point of banging on about the teaching of history in schools -- insisted it should go back to the traditional stuff, "kings, dates, and battles", none of this modern social history which might have provided some context for why some of those revolutions and battles were happening, much less inform the kids that the reason their lives were so much less sucky than their ancestors' had something to do with the union movement, civil rights, alternative (non-conservative) social theories ...

In the U.S. it's a backlash against teaching Critical Race Theory - which as far as I can tell is any suggestion slavery was a bad thing and that modern institutions & those who control them inherited any kind of benefit from the legacy of slavery or that those who have benefited bear any responsibility for alleviating the effects of that legacy.

But that give THEM a lot of power to dumb down the rest of U.S. education.

Same with mathematics (why is statistics so narrowly taught, and primarily targeted at those STEM students who need it in their professional coursework, rather than, say, "how to lie with employment statistics"?).

The USA caught a break in 1958 with the "Sputnik moment", which scared the crap out of Eisenhower and his peers and started a powerful push for science education. But that petered out after a generation -- by the 1980s to early 1990s -- and is now more or less forgotten (folks who remember the fright of Soviet space power in 1958 are now very elderly).

I don't believe it lasted even a generation. I've written before about the STEM Summer School (although it wasn't called STEM then) I attended in 1960 and how there was NO FOLLOWUP in subsequent school years. I've mostly complained about how that hampered my learning a foreign language, but the advanced math & science we were introduced to was also neglected. I never had an opportunity to do anything with what I learned that summer and eventually it atrophied.

I think I mentioned the period in which critical thinking skills were TAUGHT in U.S. public schools was fleetingly brief ... at least in the schools I attended. You didn't need them to work in a cotton mill or cigarette factory; even though by then the writing was already on the wall that those industries had no future here in North Carolina.

And another thing, something I hadn't realized before ... Even though Durham's city schools had begun desegregation before 1960 (token desegregation), I don't remember ANY black classmates from that summer school. I don't think there were any.

The UK is currently (and usually) ruled by a semi-hereditary aristocracy who really don't believe in sharing education with the proles -- it might encourage them to get uppity, so they'll allow some proportion to get heavily into debt to pursue STEM subjects and professional qualifications, but they're currently cutting art and design funding in universities by 50%, having pared it to the bone in the schools for the past decade. (Who needs "artists"? Not the computer animation business, or games, or music, or our other cultural exports ...)

I don't think most people realize that the U.S. has its own semi-hereditary aristocracy; based on inherited wealth & privilege rather than patents of nobility. If you have enough wealth, the privilege will come to you.

We don't have a nobility with inherited titles but it's an aristocracy all the same ... or perhaps Kleptocracy would be a more accurate name. It's a slightly more open system allowing some "upward mobility" ... if you're greedy or sociopathic enough to claw your way in.

The U.S. caught a prior break just after World War 2 when the GI bill boosted so many veterans into the middle class through college educations. But that didn't last much more than a generation either. Ended pretty much as soon as the Baby Boomers graduated from college.

Now the cost of college & university education is beyond the means of all but the wealthiest families and even they struggle to obtain the necessary extra curricular credentials for their kids. But if they can afford to donate a new administration building ...

College tuition has become just another racket by which the BANKSTERS extract the wealth of the lower 99% For all but the top 1% and above, a college education is a mortgage on your life.

About the time I should have graduated from college (that pesky foreign language thing again) creeping credentialism had displaced the High School Diploma with the Bachelor's Degree for entry level positions in anything except the most menial of manual labor. Today it seems like even a Bachelor's Degree isn't enough, you need at least a Master's Degree (although usually an MBA will suffice unless the job entails actual science).

128:

How does that even work? I mean the "ashes" of a cremation are mostly unburnt long bones powderised, and therefore primarily calcium phosphate.

129:

I have no idea. I assume they put a fleck of ash in a small diamond and pocket a decent profit. I'd be shocked if you handed over your cup of ash and got back a diamond containing the whole lot. Although if you were really lucky they'd extract the aluminium or something that makes diamonds look pretty. What does phosphorus do to a diamond?

130:

Charlie @ 122 SNARL Politicians & business leaders have been going on & ON & ON about: "We can't get the trained / educated / skilled people we need" for at least the past 30-40 years. THEY ARE LYING I worked very hard, at age 42/43 to get an Engineering MSc - number of days of gainful employment from that Masters' degree? ZERO Today, they are talking about spending on "T-levels" - what a farce - these will all be lowly tech minions, grovelling for pennies, whist the MBA's rake in all the profits - again.

@ 121 / 123 Lizzie is ALSO a direct descendant of Alfred the Great ....

131:

Inclusions will make a real diamond "look different". For example, the "Pink Panther" of the live action films is, or at least could have been, an actual diamond with an inclusion that looked like a panther. Various inclusions that colour diamonds include colouring them blue, yellow, brown, green, purple, pink, orange, or red, but I've no idea, which, if any, of those colours result from calcium or phosphorus. Having said that, a true "brilliant blue white" diamond is an allotrope of pure carbon.

132:

Don't start me!! I have memories of seeing adverts for "2 years experience of $package version $N", and said package only being released at that version the previous week. The only people with 2 year's experience of it worked for the developing softco!

133:

https://www.theshovel.com.au/2021/10/24/australia-police-state-us/

Satirical website being funny just by reciting a bunch of statistics. Accurate ones.

The talking heads, all living in the United States – a country where the incarceration rate is four times higher than Australia’s, and where 1 in every 150 citizens is in jail, the highest rate in the world – have criticised Australia’s approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it “tyrannical” without even the slightest hint of irony.

And so on...

134:

Obviously, I agree, this being one of my hobby-horses - unfortunately, the deliberate dumbing down has been going on nearly continually for four decades, and would take a comparable time to reverse. But a key fact here is that most people need to be trained and encouraged to think (*) - it is not a natural process for them.

My one objection is that we no longer have a ruling aristocracy, but a plutocracy (as, I believe, does the USA). Forget titles, the key difference is that people largely cease to become members as soon as they lose access to money (where familial support etc. is access), and do so completely when they were brought up without it and do not have it.

(*) By which I do not mean simply choose the formulaic answer, but to consider all reasonable alternatives to 'facts' and actions, and what all the consequences of an action would be.

135:

That one is basically all Ted Cruz. He's a self serving unabashed hypocritical tail hole.

And his supporters know it and like it.

This incident is almost all him. And typical.

136:

In my time in Silicon Valley (90s and naughties) it was so common it wasn’t even a joke anymore. Weeks after SUN polluted the world by releasing java there were job adverts for people with 5+ years experience with it.

Buzzword blather has always been a popular trait of the brain challenged business types.

137:

I didn't name $software, so as to not imply that any one organisation or product were specifically guilty of asking for experience that proved more or less anyone claiming to have it was a liar.

138:

Politicians & business leaders have been going on & ON & ON about: "We can't get the trained / educated / skilled people we need" for at least the past 30-40 years. THEY ARE LYING

Not lying, merely not saying "…for what we are willing to pay them" out loud. Everyone who counts (ie. politicians and business leaders") understands it implicitly.

Here in the Great White North, Tim Hortons (a supposedly Canadian Brazilian-owned chain of ok-ish coffee shops) applied for a Temporary Foreign Worker permit for retail workers, because the booming economy of Alberta meant it was that or pay more than minimum wage. So of course, foreign workers* were necessary. There was a mining company in BC that listed "fluent Mandarin" as a required skill, so that they could bring in foreign Chinese workers (because very few rural BC residents are fluent in Mandarin).

I really wish more people actually read Adam Smith, rather than simply using the 'invisible hand of the market' as an incantation. For one thing, he's very clear about how you shouldn't trust business leaders and bankers…

*Who are brought in for one job, can't change jobs, and are basically stuck working until they earn enough to go home again.

139:

Adam Smith deserves to be read far more widely than he is, especially by people who imagine they disagree with him.

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the publick, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

140:

And by those who DO agree with him.

141:

The working conditions are equally important - and most such employers treat their workforce like dirt.

142:

Sorry, "And by those who imagine they DO agree with him"

143:

merely not saying "…for what we are willing to pay them" out loud.

Outside the US they are often saying it out loud.

In Aotearoa and to some extent Australia the whole farming industry is explicit that the problem is that they can't affect the price they get for their product, and they can't afford to pay a decent wage to their staff as a result. Sadly the bought media often report this as "not enough workers" or "can't find staff" without the caveat. Or "farmers need to import indentured labourers because locals refuse to do the work".

I've seen similar things in the UK but I'm not confident of the fine print enough to know whether it's "oh noes my profits" or "the supermarket duopoly tell me the price they'll pay, I can't produce for that price".

There are also problems with the modern punitive unemployment system meaning that people cannot accept temporary, especially seasonal work, because they lose their benefit for 6-12 weeks on top of whatever time they're employed for*. In Oz they call that a "benefit stand down" and it's there to make sure people are in the most abject poverty by the time they start dealing with the benefit people. It's much easier to tell someone they're lucky to be getting anything at all if they're literally starving. They don't argue, they haven't the energy.

  • I have seen this from both sides, the government departments that operate the system are fucking experts at losing paperwork, asking for the wrong paperwork, or rejecting paperwork for irrelevant reasons. One friend who employed 6 people for a couple of months ended up having to resubmit someone's information to Centrelink no less than 20 times. Including once being told that he couldn't submit it because he wasn't the employer, and he needed to get the person whose legal name is "Schitt's Creek Orchard" to sign and send the form with a copy of their ID for good measure.
144:

New book from Bill Gammage and Bruce Pascoe "Country: Future Fire, Future Farming". Names to conjure with if you follow the australian traditional agriculture stuff at all. I pre-ordered it and it's apparently been posted today. Guardian has comments, and the museum has the book.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/oct/24/bill-gammage-and-bruce-pascoe-indigenous-care-for-country-could-rescue-us-all

https://shop.nma.gov.au/collections/all/products/songlines-the-power-and-promise-1

145:

Rbt Prior Maybe, where you are, the employers are too mean to pay decent wages. Here, it wasn't that - it appeared to be a simple, point-blank refusal to employ anyone over 30-40. So - they were & are, lying. I had an MSc in Engineering, was prepared to work almost anywhere inside the M25 ... no-one was even interested. I THINK there are two "reasons" for this: [1] Older people are seen as more expensive, maybe. [2] Older people are much harder to cheat - "I saw you palm that card!" & employers a thus reluctant to hire "troublemakers"

146:

To me it seems that the area of engineering matters. I have an MSc in engineering, and I am over 40, and I had really no problems getting a new job last year (after being laid off). My age was never really mentioned anywhere, and while I didn't send that many applications, looking at my friends in the same IT business, and open positions, I think it's not difficult to get a new job even after 50.

Of course this is Finland, so, also different area.

147:

Ok, I'm not having a pop but asking a serious question. Did you see adverts which requested skill sets that could not exist? (for example, 5 years experience of Windows 11 and VB 12)

148:

No, I did not see that kind of adverts. They are joked about occasionally, but in the last 10-15 years I haven't really seen those kinds of adverts.

There're adverts with more stuff than what is probably needed for the job - apparently they are more of a wish list than real requirements, and they are often negotiated with the applicant. I don't like this, and I think some research says that women are even more reluctant to apply if they don't fill all the requirements, which is not a good thing in my opinion. Some adverts have a list of requirements and a list of nice-to-have items, though.

I sent three applications last year and got interviewed by two companies, so not a bad percentage. I read more adverts than that, but decided not to have too many application processes at the same time. In my field, there's usually some programming test or exercise to be done and that takes time and energy to do.

149:

Did you see adverts which requested skill sets that could not exist? (for example, 5 years experience of Windows 11 and VB 12)

From what I understand those adverts came from HR departments who had a template for "Senior {x} Developer" which included the line "5 years experience in {x}". Normally it makes sense, but when you are trying to staff up a project for the new hotness it doesn't. The hiring manager might know the difference, but the hiring manager might not be the person who actually writes the advert.

That said, I haven't actually seen any adverts like that either; they may be an urban myth. I also suspect that since Java happened the procedures that led to such incidents will have been amended.

Mikkio: more of a wish list than real requirements,

These have a number of causes.

  • The hiring manager already knows who they want to hire, but is required to go through the motions of advertising the job. So they give HR a highly specific list of requirements that they know only one person can match. I gather that most professional jobs are found via networking rather than replying to adverts, so there are probably quite a lot of adverts that happen like this.

  • The hiring manager hasn't hired many people before and doesn't really know how to go about it. Common in small or rapidly growing companies. That is what the HR procedures I mentioned above are supposed to prevent.

  • If you don't ask, you don't get. Provide a laundry list of requirements; someone out there might meet them all, and if they don't you can just pick the best out of the pile. Sensible adverts distinguish must-have from nice-to-have, and keep the must-have list short.

  • 150:

    Problem with 3 is that men have a habit / willingness to apply for jobs that they just about meet the criteria for.

    Women usually only apply for Jobs they 100% meet the criteria for. The number of times I've had to tell women in IT to apply for that job as you are more than qualified is far too frequent to count.

    151:

    {like} - A problem made worse by the UK government's obsession with "if you're unemployed you must apply for N vacancies per week to get benefits".

    152:
    1. The hiring manager already knows who they want to hire, but is required to go through the motions of advertising the job. So they give HR a highly specific list of requirements that they know only one person can match. I gather that most professional jobs are found via networking rather than replying to adverts, so there are probably quite a lot of adverts that happen like this.

    Confession: I have done this one myself, when I was a prof and had agreed to let a specific person join my research group. There's also a similar phenomenon when buying expensive equipment (such as high-end microscopes). Supposedly such purchases are supposed to be put out for competitive bids from three suppliers. However, if you can show that only one manufacturer's equipment satisfies your requirements, you can evade the bidding requirement. Salescritters will helpfully give you a list of unique specs that their equipment and no one else's meet.

    This is one of the problems with trying to legislate behavior. When the stakes are high, there is almost always a way to follow the letter but not the intent of the rules. Of course that is matched by the problem that rigid rules themselves are often stupid and counterproductive.

    154:

    1. The hiring manager already knows who they want to hire, but is required to go through the motions of advertising the job. So they give HR a highly specific list of requirements that they know only one person can match. I gather that most professional jobs are found via networking rather than replying to adverts, so there are probably quite a lot of adverts that happen like this.

    The other side of this one is when they know who they want to hire but are required by HR to interview x candidates. So they advertise, interview the candidates, and hire the person they were going to hire anyway — costing the 'unsuccessful' candidates time (and often travel expenses).

    Happened to my father in the 70s, so it's not a new dodge.

    155:

    Or sometimes, costing the other candidates time, and the employing organisation expenses.

    156:

    Women usually only apply for Jobs they 100% meet the criteria for.

    Totally. Or even 150%.

    I constantly had to tell my wife over the years to JUST APPLY. Even if you're only 60% the rest of the field might only be 40%.

    This was/is internal to a large multi-national airline with over 100K employees.

    157:

    Salescritters will helpfully give you a list of unique specs that their equipment and no one else's meet.

    Hopefully?????

    Most larger companies work hard to build up spec sheets that have things on them that competitors don't have. And the games they all play to slide into such requirements. [eyeroll]

    158:

    Back to the title of this post:

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/10/cardboard-shortages-deal-another-blow-to-strained-supply-chains/

    Shipping a book requires cardboard in many situations.

    Although I doubt there is a shortage of the type of cardboard used in eBooks.

    159:

    The supply chain shortage is also hitting semiconductors, and eBook readers use guess what?

    Luckily if you have a modern large screen smartphone you've also got an ebook reader than can run the Kindle or Nook apps with a >8-10 hour battery life for reading (unless you have direct bright sunlight on the screen).

    160:

    I have. Years ago, I saw an ad for a job wanting five years experience in, I dunno, Ruby, maybe... when the language had only really been released three years before.

    I've also seen ads with requirements that were literally three people's careers - five of this, five of that, whatever of the other - d/b, sql, language 1, language 2, and on and on.

    161:

    "We don't have a nobility with inherited titles but it's an aristocracy all the same ..."

    That's also the kind of "aristocracy" that is relevant to the UK situation. Being an actual genuine lord or whatever is a relatively poor predictor of support for keeping the masses in the mire, compared to the extent to which the maintenance of someone's money supply is dependent on the masses being kept in the mire. Actual genuine lords are more likely to feel secure enough in their position not to need to worry about it than are the seething adiposity of non-lordulous Tories, capitalists and their ilk.

    It was quite explicit in Victorian times; people would be quite happy to openly express sentiments along the lines of "What's the good of giving the common people education? It's no use to them, it'll only encourage them to [thing which sounds like an impossibly unreachable aim for which it would be tragically ridiculous to strive, but whose salient aspect is that it is mutually exclusive with "work in our factory until the crap in it has poisoned them too much"]. The main difference these days is you can't say it in public.

    162:

    Got my very first job as a programmer through a friend - never had that happen again.

    I had to find, first Personnel, then headhunters who had "relationships" with the hiring managers.

    And I'm sure it's really annoying when you've written the specs for one person... and someone from outside's resume comes in, and they also fit it perfectly. (Happened to me, I didn't get the job in spite of the fit.)

    163:

    It was quite explicit in Victorian times; people would be quite happy to openly express sentiments along the lines of "What's the good of giving the common people education?

    It was literally illegal to teach a slave to read in much of the antebellum South.

    164:

    Yes, and we have copied a lot of the USA's less attractive features, like tuition fees etc. But the reason that I said it is misleading to call it an aristocracy (see #134) is that the privilege and power is NOT vested in who the people are, but in what they control. This is very unlike hereditary, racial and caste aristocracies - and, FAR more importantly, has different and even less attactive features.

    165:

    Yes, and we have copied a lot of the USA's less attractive features, like tuition fees etc. But the reason that I said it is misleading to call it an aristocracy (see #134) is that the privilege and power is NOT vested in who the people are, but in what they control. This is very unlike hereditary, racial and caste aristocracies - and, FAR more importantly, has different and even less attactive features.

    There are a couple of interesting problems embedded here. One is that wealth tends to get lost over time, leading to worldwide sayings on the equivalent of "One generation makes it, next generation holds it, last generation loses it." This points out that passing financial acumen down through generations is a hard problem, especially when the kids or grandkids have no idea of what being poor means. Spending money is easy and very human. Making money is hard, requiring discipline and often a degree of ruthlessness or psychopathy that many people are unwilling to go to.

    Aristocratic traditions are one attempt to get around this problem, although it's worth pointing out that only a minority of lordly families stay wealthy for multiple generations, especially if there is not constant conquest to give them booty. Plutocracies like the US aren't aristocracies, and for many (not all!) families, keeping the wealth in the family across generations has proved difficult to impossible. So that's my first big point: it's all fine to talk about plutocracy as aristocracy, but one key question is how many generations stay wealthy. If it's three generations, then pluto and aristo are interchangeable labels for the same crats. If it's longer, that's worth looking at more closely.

    The other, nasty problem is that the three generation rule probably applies to the post-War middle class in the west. After our major victory and an unprecedented boom in resource use, the boomers got comparatively more wealthy. Their children (mostly Xers) are pretty similar, have spent a lot of that wealth on stuff, and now our kids are relatively more impoverished, with a minority likely to retain the familial wealth for much longer.

    Is this the only thing going on? Of course not. I just point it out as sort of a basal condition. While it's absolutely worth looking at the systematic looting of society by the newly wealthy and trying to stop the marauders via skills training and critical thinking, we have to ask whether free school, tax-covered health care, and widespread unionization would necessarily stop a third-generation economic slide, as we run out of resources to extract and colonies to conquer.

    166:

    This points out that passing financial acumen down through generations is a hard problem, especially when the kids or grandkids have no idea of what being poor means.

    Anderson Cooper[1] talks about this in some recent interviews about a book he's written about growing up the son of Gloria Vanderbilt[2]. At a young teen he realized that there might be no money left when he got to be an adult. His mom basically spent money as if it was a bottomless resource and had no idea how to manage it.

    [1] CNN news commentator who strongly irritates the R's as he's gay, married, and has adopted and is public about it.

    [2] Fashion designer, famous person, and one of the last of the Vanderbilt's of the "they owned much of the country" family. I have a memory of a statement that at one point they controlled 1/20 of the entire money supply of the US.

    167:

    It was literally illegal to teach a slave to read in much of the antebellum South.

    As it was in much of colonial Africa into the 1950s or later.

    Maybe OK to read and do math but not much more.

    168:

    The supply chain shortage is also hitting semiconductors, and eBook readers use guess what?

    People who do larger scale networking installs (think a school campus or similar) are going nuts. They are saying they can't get stock until March of next year and should expect price increases. 10%, 20%, or more.

    Cisco, Ruckus, Aerohive, etc...

    Across the world.

    169:

    the Vanderbilt's of the "they owned much of the country" family. I have a memory of a statement that at one point they controlled 1/20 of the entire money supply of the US.

    There's an excellent biography of the patriarch of the family, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Pretty good read.

    170:

    Really? Which jurisdictions? Because I can assure you that was NOT the case in the British Empire (which was the largest coloniser), and I am pretty sure that it wasn't in the French one (the second largest). The Italian and German ones ceased being relevant after WW I.

    The fact that most of the people couldn't afford advanced education was the main obstacle, as it was in the UK until recently.

    171:

    Re: '... they can't get stock until March of next year and should expect price increases. 10%, 20%, or more.'

    The automotive sector is experiencing this as well. I held onto my car just to see how long it would last but a couple of weeks ago it finally blew some part that would cost more to replace than the car was worth. Once I read up a bit and found what car would work for me I went to the local dealership who told me that some models were in short supply. One of my neighbors who works in supply chain logistics had cautioned me about a chips shortage so I was prepared to counter with: what's available reasonably fast? Not much - and whatever's currently available is moving off the lots fairly fast. (They did a swap with a dealership a few hundred miles away.)

    Then thanks to weather conditions on the highway*, a shortage of qualified drivers - a largish fraction took early retirement when COVID-19 hit, etc. -- I finally got my car a week past the agreed upon delivery date.

    • No idea how things are elsewhere but we're seeing an increase in these trailers flipping over on highways - wind sheer, rain, etc. - so add increased insurance premiums to operational costs ... plus a whole whack of indirect social costs - road repairs, traffic headaches, etc. And this problem isn't limited to highways ...

    https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canadian-coast-guard-says-monitoring-container-ship-fire-2021-10-24/

    Anyways - this recent experience plus others' comments about shortages makes me wonder why more industries aren't shifting to smaller 'regional' production/distribution models: basically, more flexible manufacturing processes.

    172:

    Perhaps this is how we get the Butlerian Jihad: not through a Revolution Against The Machines, but through supply chain breakdowns and hard-core education.

    Speaking of which, I'd better crack those memory training books...

    173:

    Once I read up a bit and found what car would work for me I went to the local dealership who told me that some models were in short supply.

    My son decided it was time to buy a car. Of course last year he could have picked out something on the lot. These days you can drive by a Honda or similar dealer and there be empty rows where new cars would normally be.

    He ordered it in July and picked it up last week. The wait made him have to buy $700 in tires for his trade in which he figures he never saw on the trade in value.

    174:

    EC @ 164 Indeed - the supposed principle of Noblesse Oblige actually had some effect with a genuine aristocracy. This does not apply with a plutocracy, or currently.

    175:

    paws4thot @ 147: Ok, I'm not having a pop but asking a serious question. Did you see adverts which requested skill sets that could not exist? (for example, 5 years experience of Windows 11 and VB 12)

    I used to see ads for people with experience in VBS and never could figure out what Vacation Bible School has to do with computer programming? 8^)

    176:

    Ben Thompson @ 150: Problem with 3 is that men have a habit / willingness to apply for jobs that they just about meet the criteria for.

    Men will apply if there's any plausible (or even implausible) way they can. The ad requested "Equestrian Experience" and I once had a mule step on my foot.

    I answered a blind ad for someone with fire & burglar alarm experience. I had some electronic training from the Army & OJT as an aircraft electrician during National Guard drill weekends and had previously briefly worked for a company that had a contract to install fire alarms.

    I didn't expect to get hired, but I was required to submit at least 2 applications per week to keep my jobless benefits and I just barely had a plausible claim to the necessary skills. I ended up working for them for 13 years & it was probably the best job I ever had.

    177:

    Re: '... how we get the Butlerian Jihad: not through a Revolution Against The Machines, but through supply chain breakdowns and hard-core education.'

    A few thoughts:

    1- my impression is that most of our existing supply chains (globally and locally) are fossil-fueled - transportation using existing infrastructure and sources is approx. 5-10% of many GDPs - how fast and with what can we turn this around? (How many sectors are you willing to piss off for this to happen?)

    2- AI and all of the other nifty uber-modern, SFish technologies - again - my impression only - but it seems that these technologies are being developed/targeted only for use in equally uber-high-tech industries. At what point will these tech breakthroughs 'trickle down' to other industries? (What are they waiting for? Everybody's already got a personal computer, mobile, downloads/uses apps, etc. Everybody knows that high tech is very transferable and that much of it no longer needs to be shipped in a cardboard box.)

    3- 3D printing, the 'universal' make-it-now/yourself machine - this tech also needs to expand its utility/presence into other industries.

    re: Education -

    Rote memorization passing off as education seems to be becoming the standard even at the tertiary/bachelor's level. Not sure whether this is mostly due to the increasingly very large class sizes and increased usage of multiple choice type exams. (Time/staff budget issue.) That said - I've been wondering why more disciplines/universities haven't adopted mandatory continuing education as part of a degree retention program: a spin on 'use it or lose it'. It's already being done with at least one profession: physicians over here are required to log a minimum number of continuing medical education (CME) hours annually.

    178:

    I always had trouble writing job ads, because I couldn't list the qualifications required. I want someone smart and flexible, someone who's willing to learn, willing to take risks, who will tell me I'm full of shit when I am. If you have those character traits, we can work around your education and experience, whatever it is.

    But you can't write those qualifications in an ad. Even if you tried, HR would tell you it's not allowed.

    179:

    I'm wondering whether there will be an incentive to start making things that don't actually need electronics (I'm thinking washers and dryers, I'm sure there's more) without electronics.

    On the other hand, I was also hearing about how chaotic the chip market is-- chip fabs are very expensive, so when there's a shortage, there's an incentive to build chip fabs and once you've got a chip fab, to make as many chips as possible to block out competitors even if you can't get a great price. We might be seeing a chip surplus eventually.

    180:

    Re: '... how we get the Butlerian Jihad: not through a Revolution Against The Machines, but through supply chain breakdowns and hard-core education.'

    First off, this is a bit of a sarcastic comment (shocking, I know) overlapping with the release of a Dune movie that IIRC doesn't use the word mentat. Which is not a problem, as we pretty well know now that human brains can't be reprogrammed as general purpose digital computers, so it's an obsolete idea. But I couldn't resist.

    A few thoughts:

    1- my impression is that most of our existing supply chains (globally and locally) are fossil-fueled - transportation using existing infrastructure and sources is approx. 5-10% of many GDPs - how fast and with what can we turn this around? (How many sectors are you willing to piss off for this to happen?)

    Simple answer is that I don't know, precisely, but it depends on how fast sails can be implemented on cargo vessels, which is something they've been experimenting with for years. This is the intersection between modern naval architecture and aeronautics, not the return of clipper ships with hemp sails. By this I mean that I won't be surprised if there are hemp sails, but they'll be aerofoils, not square rigs.

    2- AI and all of the other nifty uber-modern, SFish technologies - again - my impression only - but it seems that these technologies are being developed/targeted only for use in equally uber-high-tech industries. At what point will these tech breakthroughs 'trickle down' to other industries? (What are they waiting for? Everybody's already got a personal computer, mobile, downloads/uses apps, etc. Everybody knows that high tech is very transferable and that much of it no longer needs to be shipped in a cardboard box.)

    My probably wrong take on AI is that it seems to be hugely expensive in terms of money, energy, and resources, that it's the hot thing in business right now, and that, just perhaps, we're in an expanding AI financial bubble? on the flip side, we're seeing, in Facebook, a comprehensive culture failure from the top down, with employees trying to fix things that the boss apparently wants broken. Much of what they're trying to do involves AI, but it turns out that American programmers can't just turn AI loose on the swarm of mutually incomprehensible dialects that is Arabic, and expect it to regulate political content, any more than you can expect it to not maximize hate and fear if told to maximize clickbait. Sarcasm aside, much of what we're seeing with social media turns out to be inimical to the long-term survival of the many, and that makes it, potentially, a ground for conflict over human survival, worldwide.

    3- 3D printing, the 'universal' make-it-now/yourself machine - this tech also needs to expand its utility/presence into other industries. Three-D printing can be an extremely useful technology, but just as mechanization didn't replace artisanal labor in all categories, 3-D printing won't become the single form of manufacturing.

    re: Education - Rote memorization passing off as education seems to be becoming the standard even at the tertiary/bachelor's level. Not sure whether this is mostly due to the increasingly very large class sizes and increased usage of multiple choice type exams. (Time/staff budget issue.) That said - I've been wondering why more disciplines/universities haven't adopted mandatory continuing education as part of a degree retention program: a spin on 'use it or lose it'. It's already being done with at least one profession: physicians over here are required to log a minimum number of continuing medical education (CME) hours annually.

    There are two level here.

    One is that everyone from doctors and pharmacists to accountants and even licensed pesticide applicators has CEs to keep their credentials. That's fine with me.

    A second thing is that there are multiple ways of knowing things, and disparaging rote memorization certainly shows you don't get it. My example is biology: an average biodiversity class (e.g. plant systematics, vertebrate zoology, invertebrate zoology, mycology, entomology, anatomy) has as many terms to learn as a foreign language class. It therefore has to involve a metric fuckton of rote memorization. Without it, you're helpless. There are a number of fields (physics most notably) where you memorize a few hundred equations and how to use them, and you're competent to do the basic job, but physicists' arrogance to the contrary, the two approaches are incompatible. It's better to just acknowledge that we need doctors memorizing hundreds of enzymatic drug paths as much as we need engineers calculating loads, and just get on with it, rather than criticize how the other side processes information.

    181:

    Re: job finding - I’ve only ever applied for two jobs in >40 years. One was a supermarket shelf-filler when I was 16 (lasted for a whole 12 weeks) and the other was with an utterly awful software company that lasted 11 months. Every other job has been from a “would you like to work for us please?” contact. I have no idea how one would actually look for work.

    Apropos nothing much, I just got blocked from Twitter for * a week* for telling the corporate breitbart news account to fuck off. I’m simultaneously irritated and proud.

    182:

    Re: 'It therefore has to involve a metric fuckton of rote memorization.'

    Agree - however at some point, understanding and appropriate usage/application of said memorized info also needs to be demonstrated. Not sure multiple-choice exams can do this.

    About the 'universal' machine ... I was sorta thinking a combination of flexibility in programming (or app usage - combinations of) as well as materials like this one:

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211021175135.htm

    Excerpts:

    'Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a shape-shifting material that can take and hold any possible shape, paving the way for a new type of multifunctional material that could be used in a range of applications, from robotics and biotechnology to architecture.'

    ...

    '"Since these materials are grounded in geometry, they could be scaled down to be used as sensors in robotics or biotechnology or could be scaled up to be used at the architectural scale.

    "All together, these totimorphs pave the way for a new class of materials whose deformation response can be controlled at multiple scales," said Mahadevan.

    The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.'

    https://www.pnas.org/content/118/42/e2107003118

    183:

    involve a metric fuckton of rote memorization

    Surely in the USA that would be an Imperial Long Ton of memorisation?

    184:

    FWIW I have a new bicycle on order, and the supply chain is fucked up to the point where the shop can't even tell me which order is likely to contain my bike, let alone when any given order is likely to arrive. Loosely, they've ordered 30-50 bikes each month as far ahead as they can (six months) and have been told they should get 3-10 of those. Of late they've been getting 3-5 and deliveries have been 4-8 weeks later than advertised, so they're not really optimistic.

    The bike industry got hit hard by the whole supply disruption stuff, but also with the low motor traffic during lockdowns encouraging people to get out on bicycles. Sales went up significantly all round the world... at least until stock ran out.

    Meanwhile I'm trying to buy my first non custom bike in decades and it's not the "go in, pick bike, leave with it" experience I was expecting from a generic stock item.

    185:

    involve a metric fuckton of rote memorization. Surely in the USA that would be an Imperial Long Ton of memorisation?

    It's a imperial long ton only if you last longer while rote-ing in the approved imperial fashion. Otherwise, a metric fuckton is only 98.4% of an imperial long ton.

    Thanks for flagging that Gammage and Pascoe book. I'm getting the BigMuddy ebook version, just because shipping a physical copy from Australia seems wasteful somehow.

    186:

    On the other hand, I was also hearing about how chaotic the chip market is-- chip fabs are very expensive, so when there's a shortage, there's an incentive to build chip fabs and once you've got a chip fab, to make as many chips as possible to block out competitors even if you can't get a great price. We might be seeing a chip surplus eventually.

    The entire chip shortage / fab issue is an odd duck.

    Chips are small (physically) and not too expensive relative to many of the final products they go into. I'm thinking, Wi-Fi access points, routers, automobiles, etc...

    But unless it is a trivial chip design it can take 90 days, give or take, for a modern chip to go from a blank wafer to a chip in a package out the other end. The process is very highly automated but there are a long metric ton of steps from start to finish that require some amount of real time.

    The planet hit a speed bump.

    And dozens of industries said hold all our chip orders. Cisco, Ford, etc... Apparently their purchasing people didn't think it through. First off once the pipeline dried up it would take a while to start back up. This is assuming the fabs were sitting around doing nothing. Second the fabs didn't sit around. They started making lower priority chips both on order or on spec.

    So now not only are there no chips the big boys want coming out of the fabs due to scheduling they will not be coming out for a while. And maybe not in quantities needed. Fabs were already running 24/7. And once they start a chip wafer set it is a bit insane for them to toss it and start something else.

    So it is going to take a while to recover and for supply to match demand.

    As to building more. There just aren't that many competitors. I suspect you can count the big players who can do huge volumes on one, maybe two, hands. Most new fabs are justified by replacing older ones. And they take a few years. And the fabs want to build to newer standards, not to build old chips.

    We're stuck in this for a while.

    Then you have tailholes like Florida's governor Desantis saying the port of Jacksonville will handle those cargo ships stuck waiting to unload on the west coast. Yep sure. Just re-route all the trucks and trains 3000 miles and the ships, what, 8000 miles and that will fix everything. (Assuming they fix through the Panama Canal.) And train another 1000 people (or more) in 30 days to handle the all the extra work at the port.

    One problem is with Desantis you can't tell if he's that stupid or knows it will not happen and is just playing to the crowd. His record on Covid-19 is so nuts that anything he does can be treated either way.

    I was told in a meeting today (so I can't source this) that a firm who is desperate for a container or few on a ship sitting off L.A. that they said they would like to fly a helicopter out to the ship and pick up their containers. When told theirs were several layers deep they said they would bring those ashore also for free. They were told no.

    187:

    Nancy L Back to "Mechatronics" in fact? The problem with those systems, which used to work very well ... is wear, physical friction changing the dimensions of the working parts.

    Moz I've had my new electric-assisted bike for 3 weeks, now ... definitely changes possible/plausible journeys in town ( Which is why I laid out to buy it ) - provided of course, that it's not either bucketing down, or blowing hard ...

    188:

    Yay! Glad you're enjoying it (presumably for a quarter of an hour on alternate Tuesday afternoons, if what I hear about English weather is correct).

    You might enjoy this photo:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/newzealand/comments/qftb53/using_my_ev_to_tow_my_boat/

    189: 171 - I regularly, like about every other day, pass a second hand van dealership which never seems to move any stock, and makes it easy to notice this by not even shuffling its stock on the site. 175 - TLAs strike again... 179 - I see the way you're thinking but AIUI the present "chip shortage" is due to fabs being mothballed "because Corona virus" rather than lack of built capacity. 180 (1) - IIRC a square rig is actually efficient as long as the vessel is running before the wind (hence the route taken by the tea and wool clippers back in the day).

    (Education) - The real test of rote learning is not "can you remember it in exams?" but "can you explain it to a generalist who's not done your course?"

    190:

    Moz I live near the NE corner of London Annual rainfall USED to be 23" ( 580mm ) per year The difference is the speed on gentle &/or long-but-not-too-steep inclines, so that my average speed is closer to 18-20 kph, rather than 10 - 12. In traffic, the cars are now getting in my way ....

    191:

    That's similar to my experience. Anecdata follows.

    I've had two permanent jobs in my life. The first was at Acornsoft in the early 80s. Initially I was working there as a temporary worker, but when I said I was moving down to London and wouldn't be able to carry on, they offered me a permanent position mostly working from home.

    Acornsoft eventually laid a whole lot of us off, at which point I became a freelancer mostly because I could not get a job via interview.

    A few years later a friend and his business partner did a buyout of their part of the company they'd been working for, and were looking for an employee to help. I interviewed, but I didn't fit half the requirements and didn't get the job. Nor did anyone else as it happened, and they got me (still a freelancer at that point) to do some work for them.

    A few months later I turned into employee #1, and I'm still working for the same company even though the founders have long since moved on.

    So I never managed to get a permanent job via interview, and given that I'm expecting to retire in the not-too-distant future, I never will.

    The lesson is that, even without any HR involvement, the interview model doesn't necessarily find all the potential candidates.

    192:

    Running before the wind has the problem that you can only go as fast as the wind. What many people don't know is that sailing ships can go a lot faster than the wind by using aerofoil type sails, which is why square riggers usually don't just have the square sails.

    For a possibly extreme example, America's Cup yachts often hit three times the wind speed. They do use foils to really cut the drag - seeing them lifting up to sit on one keel blade and the rudder is quite a sight - and I suspect that's something that would be difficult to do with cargo ships.

    193:

    Whitroth @99:

    Have you actually looked at these stupid textbooks? With what is about 2" white border around every single page?

    The oversizes margins in textbooks are there for a reason: When the pages start to fray after some years of use you can shear them to get nice clean edges again. The larger the margins, the more times you can do this.

    194:

    I got an ebike at the end of the first UK lockdown. I had decided on a Raleigh Motus Tour with crossbar. I searched in vain for a supplier within 150 miles. Events I found a dealer in Cambridge with one in stock. I completed the deal online and received an acknowledgment. The next day I had an email apologising because a customer had bought it in store at the same time my desk was approved. I managed to find another a week later in Ipswich and got the owner if the ship to hold it for me until I arrived that afternoon. My local dealer told me the Motus is the most popular model and he could sell lots if them but has only received two in six months.

    195:

    Cisco, Ruckus, Aerohive, etc...

    Yup.

    I have an irritating wifi blind spot in one room of my flat where the mesh network doesn't reliably reach.

    Since the beginning of September I've had a Netgear Orbi extender back-ordered. It's solidly out of stock.

    A couple of gizmos I kickstarter-backed in 2020 and very early 2021 are now delayed by 3-9 months, and they're from vendors with a track record of delivering products -- their updates suggest the projects are still live, but they're having problems sourcing components.

    196:

    OTOH, I recently bought four new Apple iPads (for myself in Canada, and my mother, and my two sisters in the USA). They shipped from China and arrived in about two weeks. I also ordered a bunch of small stuff (Apple pencils, keyboard folio, airpods, airtags). Some of those shipped from within North America, and they came even more quickly. Most of this stuff was customized with the name of the recipient engraved, so they couldn't come right off the shelf.

    197:

    at some point, understanding and appropriate usage/application of said memorized info also needs to be demonstrated. Not sure multiple-choice exams can do this.

    Multiple-choice tests have the advantage that there is no ambiguity or judgement in the results. This gives the illusion of even-handedness and absence of bias. In a hiring climate where the threat of litigation hangs over everyone, this is a desirable trait.

    There is, of course, ambiguity and judgement in writing the questions and responses, and possibly bias there, but once the test is set every candidate faces the same choices and is graded the same way — and this looks unbiased and objective.

    Truth is, it's not. Taking multiple-choice tests is a skill that can be learned. There was a teacher in Scarborough who took SAT multiple choice tests in languages he didn't know, about subjects he didn't know, and reliably scored over 60%.

    198:
    Truth is, it's not. Taking multiple-choice tests is a skill that can be learned. There was a teacher in Scarborough who took SAT multiple choice tests in languages he didn't know, about subjects he didn't know, and reliably scored over 60%.

    I once attended a workshop on writing multiple choice questions. It was run by the people who design the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which new doctors in the USA have to pass (and ideally do well on), so it's a large, high-stakes exam, taken by people who are, by and large, pretty smart, and who are, universally, very good at taking tests. (And it's actually about as difficult as a multiple choice exam can be, IMHO.)

    They started out by giving us a multiple choice test, of nonsense questions. We were supposed to try to answer based on the structure of the question. Then we went through the fake test and they explained the tricks you could use to find the correct answer. I believe I got 9/10 correct.

    199:

    Apple hardware is premium-cost, and they block-book manufacturing capacity for new models anything up to years in advance, in million-up units. (Their more successful lines sell by the hundred million, not mere tens of millions.)

    A couple of years ago, when it was time to ship a new Apple phone generation Apple locked up something like 80% of the global airfreight capacity for a few days. (A 747 may literally be worth less than the contents of its own cargo hold if it's full of new iPhones — 500 grams each in their packaging means 200,000 units per 100 tonnes, at an average $1000 retail each that's $200M in cargo).

    Put it another way, Apple can cause global supply chain shortages just by locking up worldwide manufacturing capacity. They're big enough to surf over the minor shortages that cripple everyone else -- but even so, there are reports of 2-8 week delays in some of their new products due to the current bottlenecks.

    200:

    That sounds awfully like conflict-of-interest.

    Here's this high-stakes exam you have to pass, which we designed. Let us teach you how to pass the exam based on how it is structured (rather than the knowledge it supposedly tests).

    So who attends these workshops? Everyone who has to write the exam? Who pays for them? Is this another income stream for the test designers?

    I'm reminded of the Saturday classes which were popular when I was teaching in China a couple of decades ago. Parents would pay extra for their child to take a class designed to boost their grade in Mr. Bei's class — which was taught by Mr. Bei himself. And it worked! Children whose parents didn't pay for the extra class got lower grades than those who did.

    The teachers saw it as a way to get some decent money (Chinese teachers being poorly paid even by American standards). The parents saw it as a way to get an edge for their kids. I saw it as corruption and conflict-of-interest.

    201:
    Here's this high-stakes exam you have to pass, which we designed. Let us teach you how to pass the exam based on how it is structured (rather than the knowledge it supposedly tests).

    No, the workshop was not open to students. And the tricks they showed us would not work for the USMLE, because the USMLE is intentionally designed with those tricks in mind. They were not showing us how to pass the USMLE without knowing the knowledge it tests. They were showing us how one can attempt to design a test to make that impossible. Of course, to do that it is helpful to know what mistakes to avoid, which was the purpose of the exercise I described. The intent of the exercise was to teach how to write questions such that ONLY those who have the knowledge that is supposedly being tested can do well.

    So who attends these workshops? Everyone who has to write the exam?

    The workshop was for people who write exams for med school courses. It was not for people who write the USMLE -- they have their own more rigorous internal training system.

    Who pays for them? Is this another income stream for the test designers?

    I don't know how the USMLE pays for them. The workshop was free (to med school profs). The school provided a lecture hall.

    202:

    Ah, so a workshop in how to design MC tests. My fault — I misinterpreted what you wrote. My apologies.

    203:

    I learned this on-the-job as a grad student setting up lab exams.

    There are some basic questions that an amazing number of test-makers (including one in a certain medical board exam) screw up on. --Figure out what's important and test on it. Too many people think that a big game of trivial pursuit will test who studied enough. It's better to use the test to reinforce what's important by putting some big, thorough questions on the important stuff. --Tests are feedback for both teachers AND students, especially if they are not finals. The teacher is evaluating how well they taught. The student is getting feedback on how well they learned. I prefer lots of small tests to a few big exams just to give lots of feedback, so that students find out early whether they're learning what I'm trying to teach, and I find out early if I'm teaching appropriately. Also, it's amazing how nasty a final you can get people to pass if you spend the entire term training them for it with weekly quizzes. --What's the point of the test? If you want someone to be competent at naming and identifying structures, organisms, enzyme chains, etc., it's essentially rote. The trick is to keep them from cramming and doing chew and spew (e.g. short term memory fill and lose). You do this by repeatedly testing the same material, so that they don't just tuck it in short-term memory. --If you're testing on problem-solving, you have to set it up differently. With multiple choice, you figure out the common errors, and those help make up the list of choices on a multiple choice. --Some teachers want the students to go beyond what they were taught on the test. Personally, I think this is wasteful. If someone already has that level of skill, why are they in your class? My classic example is an ecology teacher I TA'ed for, who taught the definitions of ecological terms in a class, then tested on whether the students could apply the definitions. For example, a student learns "Primary succession is change in community composition over time, starting from a barren landscape." They expect to regurgitate this definition. Instead, the question is "Write a brief essay describing dune succession from bare sand to climax forest." Grading those essays kinda sucked, and the students hated them with good reason. --It's always worth making sure that the right answer is in the test. --What's the grade you want the average to be? Structure the difficulty of the questions in that regard. Everyone should get half the questions. Some won't, but that's what F's are for. 5-10% of the questions can be esoteric, to sort out the people on top. Most of the remaining 40-45% are of varying levels of difficulty, depending on whether you want the class average to be a C (70s) or B (80s). Do this right, and you don't need to curve.

    I could go on, but I'm all for people learning how to write tests. It's not as obvious as it looks, mostly because people just try to repeat their college experience instead of thinking about all the things they can use the test to do.

    Incidentally, students generally hated my tests. They couldn't hack them by guessing, and they had a reasonable sense before I graded them how well they did, so they didn't get that brief, false hope of a curved A (I tried to set it up so the class average was an uncurved B). I did other things to leaven the experience, but this gets to another point: teachers get rated on how they do. That incentivizes many to make testing a pleasant experience for the students who are filling out teacher evaluations and now rating their teachers online. While I think teachers do need to be held accountable, rating provides strong incentives for them to give out easy A's in many fields. And that's a whole other discussion.

    204:

    Put it another way, Apple can cause global supply chain shortages just by locking up worldwide manufacturing capacity. They're big enough to surf over the minor shortages that cripple everyone else -- but even so, there are reports of 2-8 week delays in some of their new products due to the current bottlenecks.

    Yep. But Apple has said iPhone sales will be lower than they'd like due to supply constraints. They didn't say what supplies by whom but the financial people took notice.

    Tim Cook made his bones as a supplies for manufacturing logistics guy before he got to Apple. Compaq I think. Apparently he learned the lessons well.

    When Apple starting using machined aluminum for their laptops the other laptop companies tried to jump on that bandwagon. Till everyone in the laptop assembly business discovered that Apple had 95+% of the machinery that could do the machining tied up for the next 2 years.

    205:

    Some teachers want the students to go beyond what they were taught on the test.

    That may be a requirement of the system, oddly.

    When Mike Harris' neocon government revised Ontario's curriculum they decreed that a "level 4" (highest mark) should only be given to students who had "exceeded expectations". If it was taught in class, students could be expected to know it, so… the only way to evaluate if a student had 'exceeded expectations' was to test them on stuff they hadn't been taught! (Yes, it was a stupid system. But it was how we were supposed to do things.)

    There were a lot of problems with that curriculum revision, including dropping it all-at-once, so students in (say) grade 11 physics were expected to know material from the grade 10 science course they hadn't taken, because the previous year they had taken the old grade 10 science course… And of course, no textbooks were available because the curriculum was announced too late.

    Given that Harris had been (briefly) a teacher, and given that his Minister of Education was caught on tape talking about the need to "create a crisis" in education so they could implement large-scale reforms (think privatization) I'm convinced that the problems were deliberate rather than incompetence.

    206:

    teachers get rated on how they do. That incentivizes many to make testing a pleasant experience for the students who are filling out teacher evaluations and now rating their teachers online.

    A decade or two ago I saw an article in a education journal that quantized how much assigned work 'cost' an instructor (in terms of their rating). The authors had analyzed classes at American universities that used student ratings to determine things like tenure and salary, and came to the conclusion that requiring students to do any work was not in the instructor's own self-interest because they would be penalized for that in terms of student ratings.

    They had also looked at how a students' mark correlated with the rating they gave the instructor, and unsurprisingly the rating given was strongly positively correlated with the mark earned.

    207:

    (A 747 may literally be worth less than the contents of its own cargo hold if it's full of new iPhones — 500 grams each in their packaging means 200,000 units per 100 tonnes, at an average $1000 retail each that's $200M in cargo).

    Many years ago, a friend at Intel told me that they had to limit shipments of high-end processors to/from Malaysia to a certain amount per plane because no one would insure the value of a cargo hold full of them.

    208:

    timrowledge @ 181: Re: job finding - I’ve only ever applied for two jobs in >40 years. One was a supermarket shelf-filler when I was 16 (lasted for a whole 12 weeks) and the other was with an utterly awful software company that lasted 11 months. Every other job has been from a “would you like to work for us please?” contact. I have no idea how one would actually look for work.

    Apropos nothing much, I just got blocked from Twitter for * a week* for telling the corporate breitbart news account to fuck off. I’m simultaneously irritated and proud.

    You should have simply referred them to "the reply given in Arkell v Pressdram (1971)

    209:

    Moz @ 183:

    involve a metric fuckton of rote memorization

    Surely in the USA that would be an Imperial Long Ton of memorisation?

    Nope. Most U.S. standard measurements date from BEFORE Britain became an Empire, so we don't use Imperial measurements. I don't think most people know the U.S. has actually been on the metric system since the 1830s even though the old standard units are still generally recognized & used colloquially.

    If you order a pint of beer in the U.S., what you'll actually get is 473.2 ml. A U.S. standard measure fuckton is 0.907185 metric fuckton.

    210:

    Rbt Prior What happens in multiple-choice tests ... when the correct answer is not available in the choices given &/or it's half-&-haof between tow available ones? I have been faced with both of these ....

    ( "Mr Bei" ) - how about all three, at once?

    H --It's always worth making sure that the right answer is in the test. And that all sufficient information is available to answer the Q! Found that one in my final MSc exam ... they'd missed out a vital number & therefore it's dimensions. I was able to "prove" ( in the mathematical sense ) that the Q could not be answered with the information available ... oops. Fun ensued.

    211:

    Yes, that's the short ton; I have never seen it used in the UK, though I had to learn it at school and was told that it was occasionally used here (1960s).

    Your pint is (probably) derived from the (Queen Anne) wine gallon, whereas the Imperial gallon was derived from the (Elizabethan) ale gallon. Let's not get into wet and dry pints ....

    212:

    The UK did one better. Teaching the new curriculum became mandatory a week before it was published. Yes, seriously.

    213:

    Two jobs - must be nice. I started in 1980, and averaged 3 yrs per job; the longest was the last, where I was at 10 years. And except for the first, where my buddy was the systems programmer and helped me in, networking never got me anywhere.

    Esp. when I was, ahhh, "between positions" for more than W's first term, I sent out hundreds of resumes.

    214:

    "Big Muddy"? There's a company called the Mississippi that sells books?

    215:

    Um... they do this? Where? And who does it, in the US? Teachers?

    I've never seen textbooks with trimmed edges, and as someone else noted, they usually get replaced every five years.

    216:

    Most U.S. standard measurements date from BEFORE Britain became an Empire, so we don't use Imperial measurements.

    A lot of your countrymen seem to think you use Imperial measurements, though.

    For example, when I was writing for Steve Jackson Games, the rulebooks described American units as being Imperial units. Being a Canadian who was trilingual (metric, Imperial, and American) it was confusing until I realized what the problem was — they were actually using American units, but stating they used Imperial.

    No idea how widespread this actually is (my experience with Americans is hardly a representative sample), and whether the issue is ignorance or a desire to have America recognized and an Imperial power…

    217:

    That exam is extremely high stakes... and there are three parts, usually taken 1) after graduation, 2) after Masters, and 3, after internship.

    I'll also note that the last part is not multiple choice, but rather a text adventure game (well, that's how it started out in the mid-eighties) called "doctor" - a patient comes in, or is brought in, and the test-takes has to order the appropriate tests and therapies. And yes, there are cases where the patient dies.

    On my resume: 1983-1986, NBME, the people who wrote and give that test, and I was on the team (more-or-less team lead) writing that adventure game, including the whole architecture layer, and, literally, a database system (we're talking the actually access methods).

    218:

    There's a much bigger, much muddier river than the Mississippi. It's in northern South America, and its name was adopted by one Bezoar (sp?) for their company. Maybe I should nickname that company Solimoes or Orinoco, but BigMuddy just seems to fit better.

    219:

    Your pint is (probably) derived from the (Queen Anne) wine gallon

    I read a long time ago that when the colonies broke away the merchants started using the smaller gallon for everything as a way of disguising price increases.

    220:

    I've never seen textbooks with trimmed edges, and as someone else noted, they usually get replaced every five years.

    I'm in Canada, and rebinding old books (which includes trimming edges) is more affordable than buying new ones. We have some books that are older than the students.

    A new set of textbooks is generally purchased when the curriculum changes, if possible. But not always — it took five years after the last curriculum change to persuade our administration that new books that actually matched what the kids were supposed to learn*. Our newest books are over five years old (and were written a decade ago).

    Hey, school budgets are limited, and when you want to spend $100,000 on renovating the administration offices you have to make cuts somewhere…

    *Never mind were more current with the science — that totally wasn't something admin worried about.

    221:

    BigMuddy just seems to fit better

    Yes, but can you make it out in time?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXnJVkEX8O4

    222:

    But all the fools say to push on!

    223:

    I have had a complete NO FUN morning.

    We had a bad thunderstorm last night. That "bomb cyclone" that pummeled the U.S.west coast has swept across the continent & reached the east coast.

    AFTER the storm had passed the power went out. I have all my computer equipment (including the cable modem & my router) on UPS power supplies so all it means for me is I have to shut everything down gracefully before the batteries run out ... which I did & went to bed.

    The problems began this morning when the equipment did not restart gracefully.

    Cable modem switched itself over to wi-fi only. I don't use wi-fi. I have the house wired for Ethernet. Couldn't get to the internet and couldn't get to the modem to reset it. Power off reboot did not switch the modem back. I couldn't find the phone number for Spectrum. Used to have it posted right up on the wall where I could see it sitting here at my desk. I don't know where it got to.

    So I called directory assistance on the cable phone. Turns out Spectrum's directory assistance doesn't have the number for Spectrum Tech Support or for Spectrum Customer Service, but you can call 611 from a Spectrum connected phone - doesn't work for a NON-Spectrum connected phone. From my cell phone 611 gets Verizon customer support.

    When I finally got to talk to someone it was an agent reading a script, who couldn't seem to understand anything which wasn't on the script (such as I DO NOT use wi-fi and it was a problem that the modem had switched over to wi-fi, because I couldn't connect to it via Ethernet to switch it back).

    Plus, I'm calling over the telephone connected to the cable modem and if the call gets disconnected I need to call back from my cell phone, but the agent couldn't understand when I asked for the general public telephone number for Spectrum Tech Support/Customer Service (NOT a direct number to the agent, just the number for the VRU where I can say such things as "My internet is not working" and wait for the "next available agent".)

    Agent kept telling me I was not subscribed for wi-fi, and couldn't understand when I told her that was the problem THE MODEM SWITCHED TO WI-FI WHEN IT WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO, WHICH IS WHY MY INTERNET IS OUT!. Meanwhile the agent is apparently texting someone at Tier 2 and THEY sent a factory reset signal to the modem, causing the modem to reboot & cutting off the call.

    I've got the modem back in Ethernet mode, but I'm not happy about Spectrum's customer service.

    I still have to dig out the manual for my router to figure out how to assign a FIXED IP address to my file server (home built NAS). It hasn't been shut down since I got it working and I didn't realize the router was going to assign a dynamic IP address. It's a problem because I use a batch file to map network drives and if the IP address changes I have to edit the batch file to the new IP address.

    224:

    Some of us can get confused.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Muddy_River

    I grew not too far from there.

    225:

    I'm not happy about Spectrum's customer service.

    Just be glad you don't have to deal with British Telecom.

    TLDR: in late June they convinced me that for about 10% more in costs per month I could get a whizzy new fibre-to-the-premises service that would triple my bandwidth. (Added bonus: free 4G/5G fail-over in event of a cable outage.)

    Well, yes, and it's great now that they finally managed to send an engineer with the right equipment to the correct address. Fifth time lucky after three months of trying!

    226:

    Spectrum really wants you to use their online support tools. Oops.

    Or download their app to your smart phone. Hopefully you have one.

    Bug if you dig through their FAQs online (oops again) you can get to an actual phone number to call for Internet issues.

    (833) 267-6094

    227:

    When I finally got to talk to someone it was an agent reading a script, who couldn't seem to understand anything which wasn't on the script

    You could try this.

    228:

    Have a client who owned 4 warehouse bays in an area that became hip over the decades. On the street where they buildings were located only the first floors had street access. All of the 2nd floor access was from the rear of the buildings via the parking lot. The Post Office people, UPS drivers, FedEx drivers, etc... all knew how it worked.

    Substitute drivers, not so much. And if you had a package deliveredby a substitute with the suite/unit number missing it could vanish for a week or few if no one recognized the name. Some UPS batteries were in a a restaurant for 3 weeks. I had to knock on all the doors on the street to find them.

    And don't even get me started on the USPS online address verification system.

    Then there was that 1940s or so phone wiring coming into one bay then across the alley into other bays. I called AT&T and said they need to come move the lines. They said we don't move the lines just because we want them moved. I then said the building interior was being demolished in a few weeks. They sent a repairman. He looked at it, muttered, then left. I then got a call from a line layout engineer. When he got there it was one of those "uh oh" moments. The ways the wires were run outside on over the street decades ago were now not allowed. I suspect it cost them $10K-$50K or more before it was all done. Sidewalks torn up and such. Even a small trench in the street for a day.

    229:

    David L @ 226: Spectrum really wants you to use their online support tools. Oops.

    Or download their app to your smart phone. Hopefully you have one.

    Bug if you dig through their FAQs online (oops again) you can get to an actual phone number to call for Internet issues.

    (833) 267-6094

    I finally found that one once I was back on-line ... after I no longer needed it. But I've got it written down & I'll post it up on the wall where I can find it next time I need it.

    And I just had a brilliant idea, I programmed the number into my cell phone contacts list. But they can put their app where the sun don't shine.

    230:

    Ah, the “two jobs” thing was Bellingham - I’ve only applied for two jobs. All the others were “please works for us” approaches. I learned that the only way for me to get decent work is to wait for those calls. Didn’t help when W was around though; 3+ years of nada. Wasn’t just me though- of the fairly large techie group I was part of (all pretty senior, all multiple degree holders, many multiple PhD, etc) we had 2 years where > 95% were without jobs. Well done ‘conservatives ‘! It’s why we moved north of the insanity line in 04.

    232:

    And I just had a brilliant idea, I programmed the number into my cell phone contacts list.

    I just checked and I have over 1100 entries in my phone contact list. I suspect that half or so are for various companies where I had to get in touch for some odd reason or another and didn't want to have to dig out the number again.

    233:

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/27-10-2021/why-is-the-library-running-out-of-e-books/

    A story of how publishers are (not) adapting to ebooks.

    Why do e-books become unavailable online? Surely there are infinite amounts of them?

    It is really hard for most people to get their heads around. They’ll say exactly what you have said: “If it’s electronic, why on Earth can’t I just get it right now?” [But] the e-book world and e-publishing is very much like traditional publishing … it really is a copy per person. A publisher will provide an e-copy and for a library to provide multiple access they have to buy multiple e-copies. It is kind of weird and for libraries it’s a bit frustrating because the model hasn’t moved that much in the digital world.

    234:

    IU am having an interesting discussion with my local council. Right now I can offer to donate physical books, and if they want them they ask for a donation to cover the cost of putting it in circulation (which is optional). But there's no equivalent process for ebooks. Which they agree is not great, and they're trying to come up with something that doesn't end up costing more to administer than it collects (it costs them a few dollars every time someone pays a bill online, which is fine for $500 rates bills but not great for $5 ebook donations)

    Hopefully I will eventually be able to go to their online setup, say "I want this" and one of the options that comes up is "we don't have it, but we can get it. Would you like to pay $20 for us to get it right now".

    Ebooks often feel overpriced to me, but somehow paying twice as much so that the library can lend the ebook ten times doesn't feel as bad.

    235:

    Whitroth @215: I don't think it's common practice anymore, but I remember getting textbooks in elementary school that had been sheared so many times they were sometimes hitting the text. Mind, that was mainly "reading" books in language class that didn't get outdated as fast. This is in Norway in the late 80s, early 90s.

    236:

    Following the link to the uk site for the big river I've tried to pre-order a copy of Quantum of Nightmares but it keep telling me they can't ship to my (UK) address.

    Any ideas why this may be the case? Thanks

    237:

    I've managed to fix this by entering an identical address as an alternative. I think it was having isues with the county, something I've not had a problem with before when ordering items for immediate delivery.

    238:

    A story of how publishers are (not) adapting to ebooks.

    Nope,this problem affects jurisdictions that don't have PLR. PLR jurisdictions don't have this problem (they have different ones).

    Recap: publishers -- and authors -- are in business to make money by selling books. Public libraries exist to make books available to as many people as possible, free of charge at the point of delivery. (Spot the conflicting objectives here. Note that academic libraries are effectively private -- they're only free to members of the institution -- and private libraries aren't a problem for publishers any more than your personal book collection is.)

    Traditionally, books were sold as physical objects. The first sale doctrine applies -- in law, once you buy a book you own it. Copyright means you do not have the right to make copies of the contents, but the physical object is yours and if you want to let someone else read it, that's covered.

    Libraries undercut publishers' ability to maximize sales, but served a useful purpose to publishers by driving awareness of new authors -- selling to libraries was a useful marketing tool. Some library users are poor and consequently will never buy a book directly: they're not lost sales. And some will borrow a book who might have bought it -- these are lost sales. But the majority can be converted: they find new authors by loans and, later, may switch to buying their books as they come out.

    Meanwhile, library books wear out. After 20-40 loans a book is ragged and needs replacing, so libraries buy more copies of popular titles, which feeds a trickle of money back to the publisher.

    But ebooks break this model. Ebooks don't wear out. If a library could buy one copy of an ebook and loan it out without restrictions, the system as a whole would massively undercut book sales to the detriment of authors and publishers.

    So in the US, ebooks sold to libraries go through a different channel from retail ebooks sold to the public. Remember, ebooks are licensed as software (thank you, Jeff goddamn Bezos). So library ebooks cost a lot more than regular retail and use DRM to count loans, and are locked out after a number of loans roughly equivalent to a hardcover library book's life expectancy.

    This system is idiotic and broken by design but it emerged as a compromise between the needs of libraries to serve the public with books-for-free-at-point-of-delivery and the needs of authors and publishers to stay in business providing those books.

    What is PLR?

    PLR, or Public Lending Right, is the system used in the civilized world (read: not the United States) for remunerating authors and publishers for library loans. As an author you register your titles with a government agency, and twice a year the agency divvies up a pot of cash between registered authors on the basis of how many times their books have been borrowed in the preceding six months. The pot is allocated by government as part of public library spending, and the remuneration rate is capped so that J. K. Rowling doesn't end up with 50% of the entire PLR pot.

    Problems: (a) registering is a pain in the ass (every time a new book comes out you have to grapple with an unfriendly web form and enter a ton of data), (b) the payments are much smaller than you'd get as a royalty cut for an actual ebook sale (on the order of 2-5% of what I'd make from selling one copy), (c) the government doesn't give a rat's ass for authors' ability to earn a living, and (d) it doesn't provide a kickback to the publishers at all, they're still dependent on book sales to libraries for their costs, never mind profits.

    PLR is potentially not-broken, but in practice is badly implemented.

    Systems without PLR (looking at you, USA) are deeply broken.

    239:

    Possibly because either (a) you're ordering the US edition rather than the UK edition, or (b) it's not in print yet (not until January 13th in the UK!), or (c) shipping is broken?

    240:

    Speaking of PLR ...

    A year ago the responsibility for PLR administration in the UK was transferred from the previous body to the British Library.

    The BL should be congratulated on creating British Library accounts automatically for all the pre-existing PLR account-holders.

    But the process of actually logging in for the first time ... gaaaah!!!

    After I gave up and emailed their help desk, they sent me an eleven-step checklist of "how to reset your password and log in" (bearing in mind I never set up a password with the BL system before). Eleven steps, two of which say "do not click the button labelled continue, instead close that window and [do something arcane instead]".

    Looks like they get asked this a lot.

    (Anyway, am now hopefully up to date on library payments for the next five months.)

    241:

    I never saw it in my books, as a kid, nor in my kids' textbooks.

    But this is the US, where teachers, all underpaid, have to spend some of their own money to provide classroom resources.

    242:

    Re: 'epidemiological analysis of all 25 Bond films'

    Yep - a good candidate for the IgNobel.

    Given recent headlines maybe someone will do a similar analysis/paper on weapons safety on and behind the screen.

    243:

    I'd actually bet that the armorers in the Bond films are near or at the top of their game. The Rust production reportedly (per Entertainment Tonight) to have been a shoestring affair, with a newbie armorer, an assistant director who had previous reported issues with gun safety, a crew that was purportedly using movie guns for off-hours target practice, and a tiny budget. Oh, and the union crew walked off set due to safety concerns, so the crew on the day of the accident was all non-union. The main actor was also the executive producer on this thing. Means he's ultimately responsible, as well as the accidental trigger puller. I'll save my thoughts and prayers for the family of the victim and those injured by this mess.

    I'd be truly shocked if any of this applied to the Bond franchise at any point. The budget is 1-2 orders of magnitude bigger, the weapons require special effects and (for military grade stuff) special licenses, and so forth. These aren't the productions to give the lead armorer position to someone just breaking into the field, because they are unlikely to even have a clue, let alone know have the right licenses to deal with military-grade artillery.

    244:

    Systems without PLR (looking at you, USA) are deeply broken.

    "Systems are deeply broken" -- it's our national motto!

    245:

    I thought it was "Move fast and break things."

    246:

    Also IIRC the Bond movies are mostly filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, where the legal environment for handling even blank-firing guns is wildly different from the USA. (No borrowing prop guns for informal target practice over the lunch hour, for one thing!)

    247:

    Well, the one leads to the other. It is so trivially obvious that applying a principle like "move fast and break things" will simply give you a gigantic and exponentially-growing irretrievably tangled pile of recursively broken shite that I would say whoever decided to promote it as something actually desirable needs a slap, except they are almost certainly far too dumb to understand what they're being slapped for. All part of the global theme of increasingly wilfully reckless and destructive behaviour, I suppose.

    248:

    David L @ 232:

    And I just had a brilliant idea, I programmed the number into my cell phone contacts list.

    I just checked and I have over 1100 entries in my phone contact list. I suspect that half or so are for various companies where I had to get in touch for some odd reason or another and didn't want to have to dig out the number again.

    Yeah, but you're still working and the iPhone had barely been introduced when I retired & I didn't get one until 7 years later, so I never used mine for work.

    And I only got a "smrat phone" because I wanted to run an app to find the cheapest gas when I'm traveling & then for various reasons didn't get to travel ... and then Covid came along so I'm STILL not traveling so I'm making most of my phone calls from my desk phone (unless the cable goes out).

    When I got the new radio in my Jeep it has bluetooth & they helped me pair it(?) with my phone so if I'm driving when I get a phone call I only have to touch the screen on the radio to answer (although I still look for a place to pull over off the road & stop as soon as I safely can). I still haven't figured out how to make an outgoing call through the radio.

    249:

    I never saw it either, and I can't say I'm surprised. To chop up a wad of paper the size of a book without simply chewing it into a ragged mess requires something considerably more capable than an ordinary guillotine, specialised, expensive and heavy. I can imagine a dusty back room somewhere with a seventy-year-old ton-weight pile of assorted lumps of cast iron, barely functional because nobody has ever used the adjustments to take up wear or even sharpened the blade, and some poor bastard of a teacher who is the only one who knows how to work around its idiosyncrasies every so often being landed with a pile of hundreds of textbooks to chop up for the new term... until that teacher retires, whoever gets landed with the task now can only manage to make the machine destroy textbooks, and the procedure is abandoned and the machine becomes a buried relic.

    But moreover, the problem it's supposed to be solving doesn't actually exist. Our textbooks would just get older and older and accumulate a longer and longer list of names of pupils they'd been issued to inside the front cover with dates stretching back into the mists of time. Eventually they would fall to bits, and there would always be some going around with bits of the cover missing - the strip up the back over the binding seemed to go first - but even in that state there was never anything noticeably wrong with the free edges of the pages.

    The purpose of wide margins in textbooks one owns personally is to give space to write things like "See p293 for explanation", "Conjecture proved 1993 by Adebayo and Wilson", "This is NOT a universal result" etc. The purpose of wide margins in school textbooks is of course to draw cartoons in that you can animate by flipping the pages.

    250:

    whitroth @ 241: I never saw it in my books, as a kid, nor in my kids' textbooks.

    But this is the US, where teachers, all underpaid, have to spend some of their own money to provide classroom resources.

    I wouldn't have known to look for it when I was in school, but I do remember having re-bound text books - when they passed out text books at the beginning of the school year a small percentage would have a plain cover while the rest had whatever graphic the publisher had chosen for the cover. I guess the school system had someone in the book warehouse who could replace the binding on a book if it had come off. So I'm guessing there would have been sheared text books as well.

    I don't think teachers were quite as underpaid back when I was in school. None of them got rich, but it was an adequate working class income. I graduated from high school in the 60s and I think teacher pay (along with pay for other government employees) really started to lag during the 70s

    251:

    I think that people who say, "Move fast and break things." always operate on the never-confessed assumption that sane adults are going to come along later and clean up the mess.

    It works for children, after all!

    252:

    Charlie Stross @ 246: Also IIRC the Bond movies are mostly filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, where the legal environment for handling even blank-firing guns is wildly different from the USA. (No borrowing prop guns for informal target practice over the lunch hour, for one thing!)

    If that was happening it was violating American safety regulations too.

    253:

    I still haven't figured out how to make an outgoing call through the radio.

    If you've enabled it yell out (well speak somewhat clearly) "Hey Siri, call dumbass". If "dumbass" is in your contacts as a name or nick name it will call them for you. If you have multiple numbers for dumbass you can say using $numbertitle or if you don't do that Siri will ask which number you want to use. Assuming the phone isn't in your duffel or back pocket under your butt.

    OR on most cars from the last 5 to 10 years there is a button on the steering wheel that you can hit with a thumb that if you hold it down for a second or few will put the phone into Siri mode asking what you want.

    254:

    To chop up a wad of paper the size of a book without simply chewing it into a ragged mess requires something considerably more capable than an ordinary guillotine

    These days they mostly come with diamond coated blades, so the blade can last a surprisingly long time. They're also razor sharp and not for the hard of thinking. People are much softer than a block of paper, for example. And at least initially, not as messy as adhesive-coated stickers which transfer a surprisingly large amount of goo onto the blade. Thus obliging the staff serving said machine to get right in there and carefully clean the blade with ungents and cloths.

    I suspect that the diamond blade will chip or shatter more than a steel one, but it should take more to get it to do that. The steel ones dent if you cut staples with them, for example, and for that reason the guy I knew who had one would never, ever cut client-supplied material unless it was raw stock that he had printed (ie, he'd seen every sheet separated before it went in for the chop).

    It's hard to know what level of training would be appropriate, because from my lofty intellectual heights it seems very straightforward and obvious... only cut paper, clamp paper solidly before cutting, keep hands clear of operating machinery. But then I remember seeing a cold cut metal saw blade, shattered by a university student who thought that "clamp solidly" was a rule that applied to other people. Those blades are over $500 each... and when they break they really do shatter, with little bits of razor sharp steel and carbide going surprisingly quickly.

    255:

    I don't have jury duty tomorrow. I just called & the automated system said I was excused. Probably won't ever have it again, because it only comes around about every 10 years or so and I don't expect to live long enough for my name to come up on the list again.

    256:

    My brain-worm for the day (equivalent to earworm, but a bit further in):

    I wonder if there's a numerological algebra wherein

    f(Move Fast and Break Things, In God We Trust) = Systems Are Deeply Broken, for the nontrivial case where some part of that is not equal to zero?

    Perhaps f() = d/dProfits?

    Now it can be your brainworm too.

    257:

    If that was happening it was violating American safety regulations too.

    You're almost certainly right. I suspect it's like so many other such sad little tragedies, a long line of cut corners ending with someone dead and multiple careers destroyed for completely avoidable reasons.

    258:

    David L @ 253:

    I still haven't figured out how to make an outgoing call through the radio.

    If you've enabled it yell out (well speak somewhat clearly) "Hey Siri, call dumbass". If "dumbass" is in your contacts as a name or nick name it will call them for you. If you have multiple numbers for dumbass you can say using $numbertitle or if you don't do that Siri will ask which number you want to use. Assuming the phone isn't in your duffel or back pocket under your butt.

    Siri is turned off. I had the phone company agent help me do that when I first got the phone. There's a "button" on the radio for telephone that's supposed to allow you to bluetooth to the phone, but I don't have it set up. I need to go back to where I got the radio installed & have them help me.

    OR on most cars from the last 5 to 10 years there is a button on the steering wheel that you can hit with a thumb that if you hold it down for a second or few will put the phone into Siri mode asking what you want.

    The Jeep was 15 years old when I bought it 4 years ago. It didn't have the "don't take your hands off the steering wheel to change the radio station" controls for the factory radio (which the Focus did have) and the place that installed the new radio didn't have (couldn't get?) a kit to install them on the Jeep.

    The "don't take your hands off the steering wheel" controls were a factory option when the Jeep was built, but the original owner didn't get it & it would be kind of hard to retro-fit1 and I'd still then have to get a kit to connect the factory controls to the new radio.

    What I need to do is take the Jeep back and have them install a second USB port so I can have the iPhone wired in while still having the stick with all my music plugged in. I have about 300 hours of music on a USB stick for when I go out west. When I went before there were gaps where there was no decent radio station I wanted to listen to.

    1 Step 1. Find a similar aged Jeep in a junk yard that has the controls and salvage the steering wheel & wiring harness.

    259:

    I thought it was "Move fast and break things."

    That's a great motto if you aren't ever held accountable for fixing the broken things and/or compensating those you injured while breaking them.

    It certainly applies to the tech-bros who spout it. Whether it applies to your country…

    260:

    To chop up a wad of paper the size of a book without simply chewing it into a ragged mess requires something considerably more capable than an ordinary guillotine, specialised, expensive and heavy.

    Almost certainly true.

    You don't trim the edges of pages to make them look neater. You trim them as part of rebinding the book, so that they are even again after the binding has been redone.

    261: 258 Footnote 1 - As well as a suitable radio head unit and wiring loom, you'll need a suitable steering wheel and clock spring.
    262:

    The only hydraulically-assisted paper guillotines I've seen (scary things!) not only had safety guards and clamps: to activate them you had to simultaneously push a pair of thumb buttons mounted on hand-grips an armspan apart. You had to be in a precise position, gripping each handles with one hand, and push the buttons together. It was designed to make it difficult for ingenious idiots to chop their hands off, or for two idiots to collaborate (by both hitting the trigger button simultaneously). Discriminates against the one-handed, but you probably don't want someone with only one working hand to put it at risk ...

    263:

    "Move fast and break things" was originally the motto of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

    Back in the early days FB needed to develop new services faster than the competition in order to survive, so this was more important than providing the existing services perfectly 24x7. However engineers working on new features were naturally nervous about doing something that might cause visible disruption to service because this would bring the hierarchy down on their heads. Hence development was slower than Zuckerberg needed. The motto gave the engineers blanket permission to take sensible risks with the service in order to speed things up; the things they might break in those days were limited to FaceBook's service, and that was a tolerable risk to take.

    And it worked; that motto is one of the reasons why FaceBook became what it now is.

    Of course these days the motto doesn't work. Stuff that works when you are a scrappy start-up is frequently non-optimal when you are a globe-straddling behemoth. And I don't think that Facebook actually applies the motto these days.

    264:

    The only hydraulically-assisted paper guillotines I've seen

    Most mechanical equipment I've seen in manufacturing that requires an operator to do something similar has be built to work the same way. (US is my only experience here.)

    Now things built before the 70s was another story.

    And most of the farm equipment I grew up around (I was NOT a farmer) seemed to be a great way to loose a hand or arm. Especially the older stuff. 6" drive belt from tractor PTO to something 15 or more feet away in the field totally exposed in the open. And don't even think of getting careless around older hay balers. Then there was that very small saw mill my father grew up with that looked more like a torture setup than productive equipment. I suspect much of it dated from the 20s/30s. But it WAS neat to watch as a kid.

    265:

    In my lab we kept some old equipment around specifically because it lacked the annoying safety interlocks in newer machines. I particularly remember one little swinging bucket centrifuge that I got decades of use out of. I used to open it up while it was spinning and press my finger on the central nut to make it slow down more quickly.

    267:

    And A model for how to get rid of the tories? Or will our centre/left go on squabbling, plus the Cobynites preferring Johnson, so that they can stay "pure"?

    268:

    "Move fast and break things" was originally the motto of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

    If we're talking about "Systems are deeply broken," being the unofficial motto of the US, while "In God We Trust" is the official motto of the US, making a joke about the US Motto being "Move Fast and Break Things" is perfectly appropriate, because the three of these form a grim troika.

    Since you usefully explained that it's Zuckerburg's original motto, I'll kill another joke by explaining that I assumed almost everybody reading this blog already knew that. Some of us also have noticed the leaked "Facebook Papers", which collectively portray a company that knows the damage it does, and does it anyway, for the sake of profits. They're still breaking things, including by pushing the US hard towards authoritarianism, they largely being the guy at the top, who seems to be quashing scores of efforts by those below him to clean house.

    Finally, I'll note that US history, with our long record of genocides, broken treaties, slavery, and stupidly-destructive environmental looting, really does have an element of "move fast and break things" in it. We all will be paying for that hubris for a very long time to come, I'm afraid. Worse, every effort to get people to work off that karma has met with stiff, largely white, opposition. And so it goes.

    If you want, I can also point out that "In God We Trust" was adopted in 1956 as the official US motto, replacing E Pluribus Unum, and why that's problematic.

    269:

    Re: The Rust tragedy, some background.

    For those who are wondering why a serious movie-set accident is getting so much press, here's some background.

    1) Killing people on a Hollywood set is unusual enough to be news, thank Ghu.

    2) It's Hollywood (read media-savvy) and perhaps worse, the New Mexico sheriff who has to run the investigation is dealing with a lot of information leaks. You can speculate on why the leaks are happening as well as I can.

    3) The critical bit (here's an article from Mother Jones explaining it. Mother Jones is hard left, not unbiased, so read it in that light): The International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) is voting right now on a new agreement on industry standards that they negotiated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. IATSE has already voted to authorize a strike if these negotiations fail. Prior to the Rust tragedy, apparently the union members were set to hold their noses and approve the deal. Since Rust is a textbook example of why standards matter, apparently rather more IATSE members are now ready to strike.

    This makes the story consequential.

    Also, the Rust mess doesn't stop at safety. The crew were fed up with working conditions. Per Mother Jones, the only place the production company was willing to house them (remember, this is a very rural set) was in a hotel that the local sheriff used as a paid homeless shelter. Because it was the cheapest. That was one reason of many (including careless gun handling before the accident) that they walked off the job and were replaced by non-union workers right before the shootings happened.

    270:

    Can't remember seeing rebound textbooks as a kid, but a) that was Philly (then the second largest city in the US) in the fifties and sixties, and b) during the Sputnik rush to improve schools, so budgets went up.

    271:

    The button on the steering wheel for the radio.

    ARGH!

    My current minivan is the first vehicle I've had that had that. I nearly had an accident the first time I hit the button (accidentally) while making a U-turn, given I turn the wheel fast, not is super-slo-mo, the way at least half of all US drivers do.

    When I got a new radio, because the OEM would stop while playing half my CDs at somewhere between track 0 and 4, I told them to not connect that - I didn't need to go from music I wanted to super-loud crap suddenly and unexpectedly.

    And... both hands on the wheel? Sorry, ex-cabby here, 95% of the time, I've only one hand on the wheel (and I use my turn signal with that same hand).

    272:

    Break things, and don't talk to each other, and not have a style guide.

    As a professional, I consider faceplant utterly incompetent, and would fire every programmer and manager.

    Just at the most basic level: why does post on a new post, but give you a seperate line, and not post, on a comment, and vice-versa for ?

    And after nearly a month, it seems to have stopped putting in the first letter of my comment, then moving the cursor left, and inserting the rest before that letter, which could only be stopped by hitting once or twice before starting typing.

    And why can't I set as a default that if I hit the home icon, it's always in most recent order, instead of two things to cause that to happen? And why to notifications come up ever in other than chronological order. And on. And on. And on....

    273:

    "Everything is ready for the Revolution, but you've got the wrong analysis, so I'm going to take my glove and ball and go home". That's what killed the Old Left; that (along with a full-scale assault by the wealthy and Raygun) is what did in the New Left.

    The reason that the DSA is the only socialist organization I've ever actually joined (and pay dues) is that they recognize that the elections are rigged for the two parties, and so they run as Dems... AND ARE GETTING ELECTED. It may be realpolitik, but it works (and just in the nick of time!).

    274:

    And why can't I set as a default that if I hit the home icon, it's always in most recent order

    Because FB doesn't want anyone to use "Most Recent". They want to control what they show you and in which order. Do you think they're in business to please you? They're in the business of selling your eyeballs to advertisers. You are not the customer -- you are the merchandise.

    275:

    during the Sputnik rush to improve schools, so budgets went up

    While cleaning out old filing cabinets I found department budgets going back to the late 60s, which I kept to analyse. (Still gotta do that in detail.)

    Of note is that the science department budget in 1968 and 2018 were about the same, or even a bit lower now.

    Of course, a dollar bought more in the 1960s — and we had about half the number of students, too. So our effective per-student budget now is a lot lower than it was back then.

    276:

    Robert Prior @ 275:

    during the Sputnik rush to improve schools, so budgets went up

    While cleaning out old filing cabinets I found department budgets going back to the late 60s, which I kept to analyse. (Still gotta do that in detail.)

    Of note is that the science department budget in 1968 and 2018 were about the same, or even a bit lower now.

    Of course, a dollar bought more in the 1960s — and we had about half the number of students, too. So our effective per-student budget now is a lot lower than it was back then.

    Sputnik was October 1957. It would perhaps be more instructive if you could compare the departmental budget from 1955 to that of 1960.

    277:

    The simplest and best answer to Arsebook is to not have an account.

    278:

    Talking of Arsebook Oops. I hope it won't do any good - for them ...

    279:

    I nearly had an accident the first time I hit the button (accidentally) while making a U-turn, given I turn the wheel fast, not is super-slo-mo, the way at least half of all US drivers do.

    Interesting. Older car maybe? I have yet to drive a car with buttons on the steering wheel where you could push them by accident. You might bump them but all the ones I've driven basically require you to have a firm grip with your other fingers to have enough force to press with your thumb and get them to do something.

    280:

    I got one, years back, because I had decided to go to Worldcon, and that was the only place I could find someone selling their membership.

    Then I started using it a couple-three years ago, because friends (and some of my kids) do NOT check their email more than once ever few weeks.

    And, of course, I have to be on there, now that I'm published.

    281:

    Yep. I use FB to keep up with relatives and some tech support groups are there.

    I also only use it on a browser where it is about all I do on that browser and FB seems me as not interacting on the internet other than though them. So they miss 99% of my Internet use.

    Then I go in once a year or so and reset all of the personal settings to generic. So if FB has decided I'm aa D with fiscal isssues those attributes go away.

    282:

    Sputnik was October 1957. It would perhaps be more instructive if you could compare the departmental budget from 1955 to that of 1960.

    I don't have that data, and don't know if it could even be obtained anymore. I've had repair technicians ask for my help in mapping the piping of the school because the required documentation has somehow gone missing over a forced amalgamation, multiple admin chances, etc.

    What I do know is that a Q&D look through the files showed that department budgets barely held constant or decreased over the five decades I do have data for — and remembering that inflation in the 70s was double-digit, efective science education budgets have been decreasing since at least the 60s.

    283:

    Oh that's great news! Meta-tastic!. A Meta faceplant? Well, not exactly, because Google formed an alphabetic holding company, while I guess FacePlant/Wasup/Instagraine is now owned by a meta-operation that goes by...Meta?

    The fun starts when you search for the number of trademarks that use the word "Meta"

    Here's the basic US search: https://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=toc&state=4801%3A2u3pal.1.1&p_search=searchss&p_L=50&BackReference=&p_plural=yes&p_s_PARA1=&p_tagrepl%7E%3A=PARA1%24LD&expr=PARA1+AND+PARA2&p_s_PARA2=meta&p_tagrepl%7E%3A=PARA2%24COMB&p_op_ALL=AND&a_default=search&a_search=Submit+Query&a_search=Submit+Query

    Here's a basic EU search: https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/#/tmview/results?page=1&pageSize=30&criteria=C&basicSearch=meta

    Rather a lot of tech companies are either named "Meta" or use it in a logo. I suspect there might be some very happy IP lawyers in a year or two. And in the meantime, we can have contests to see how many levels of meta-jokes we can make about the company. That's fair use, of course.

    And I'm sure it makes all the FB investors Meta-static over the change.

    284:

    And, of course, I have to be on there, now that I'm published.

    I don't.

    (The only reason I have an arsebook account is so that once a year I can log on and say "I don't read Arsebook; contact me via email, my blog, or twitter". Because otherwise some folks won't know how to contact me.)

    285:

    I wasn't going to post this until after the discussion reached 300 posts, but since Facebooks come up I'd like to recommend this article

    https://heisenbergreport.com/2021/10/25/the-facebook-papers-were-not-asking-the-right-questions/

    If you are in a hurry, you can skim the first few paragraphs up to the existential issue, which is that Facebook's direction is been driven by its algorithms, and the company has no real idea of what they (he algorithms) are doing.

    This may be the first case of a massive societal effect due to rogue AI.

    Anyhow, I thought it's a good topic for the group to chew over.

    286:

    Dave Moore Not so sure about that AFAIK .... Zuckerberg is an actual fascist ...... It's deliberate

    287:

    An '08. And I don't know how you make a U-turn, but I either pretend I have a suicide knob, or I use both hands, rapidly rotating the wheel.

    288:

    Facebook's direction is been driven by its algorithms, and the company has no real idea of what they (he algorithms) are doing.

    Something like this reportedly happened with Intel. It was a case we studied in biz school. Intel was originally a company that made memory (RAM, EPROM, eventually flash...) At some point they added processors into the mix.

    The (human) managers were largely unaware of the mix of products they were producing. They had algorithms, some of the familiar computer type and some that ran on wetware in the form of standard operating procedures for middle managers. These algorithms were designed to monitor profitability and adjust the mix to maximize profit. The algorithms did their things, and at one point the upper management suite discovered that Intel had morphed into a processor company without anyone ever really having decided to do that.

    I don't promise that any statement I made in telling this story is correct. I graduated from biz school 20 years ago and I no longer remember the details of the case. But the basic idea was as described: by allowing their algorithms to run, Intel became the company it now is.

    Given the importance of Moore's Law in the recent history of our species, I think that this could qualify as a case of "a massive societal effect due to rogue AI". Except that it wasn't what we would now call AI, and it didn't really go rogue.

    289:

    I'm really irritated that M. Zuckerberg and his evil minions[1] are attempting to seize a useful English language word(/prefix). (And I definitely will not be the only one... Yet another reason to disintegrate that company. :-) It's like Shell (Royal Dutch Shell) changing their name to "Green"; their US subsidiary Shell Oil Company would become Green Oil Company. (Yes, this would be, as a pun, true, in the USA at least.)

    [1] "Evil Minions are the non-combat version of Mooks. They tend to the villain's science labs, clean up the corpses from the shark pools,..."

    290:

    Re: “move fast and break things” - like pretty much anything about arsebook, it’s not original. We were familiar with the aphorism in Silicon Valley by the very early mid-90s. People tend to forget the rest of the idea though “... and then build it better “.

    Re: intel - their general incompetence is the stuff of legend. Except that I have personal experience of some case and thus know they are not legends.

    A) when DEC managed to commit functional suicide in merging with HP, intel thought to take over some parts of the electronics aspect. That included a unit that had developed the StrongARM cpu, the first really high performance ARM that was made from a lot of Alpha experience. The deal involved intel having to negotiate with ARM and they thought it would be easy. Kinda like Brexit... The net result was intel having to give ARM all the IP for StrongARM and having to produce a line of ARM products.

    B) in the early days of public awareness of duh inter-toobs, when having a connection was rare, scary and expensive, several companies tried to make “internet appliances “. None of them lasted and few even got to market. I worked on a couple. In one case, intel got involved, trying to intimidate my company with their massive power and talent... yeah. To say that they produced crap software is to insult crap.

    Re: minions- any fule kno that good minions are yellow, evil minions are blue. I cite the well known documentary “Minions” as conclusive evidence. C) ah, hell, you get the picture. Nuff said.

    291:

    This may be the first case of a massive societal effect due to rogue AI.

    Let's assume that Charlie's original idea that bureaucracies are slow AIs has some validity.

    If that's the case, then I'm at a loss to distinguish between a bureaucracy with mission creep from a rogue AI.

    The first thing we have to settle is whether FacePlant is different in kind, or merely in volume. The metaphor I like to use is the difference between a firing line (soldiers in a line firing muskets or rifles) and a machine gun nest with the same rate of fire. We've got online, non-violent equivalents, where a many-person strike can be paralleled, online at least, with a botnet running a DDoS attack on a website. Speed a simplicity have increased in both cases, but amping rifle fire (or work stoppage) isn't the same thing as coming up with a nuke.

    So is FacePlant just a bigger/faster semi-automated bureaucracy with a creeping mission, or is it something new and different?

    As for Mark Zombieberg, he wants Meta to figuratively (if not literally) eat our entire brains by going heavily into VR, rather than just visual and aural clickbait. Would you put on VR goggles if Mark Z really wanted you to? Or not?

    For me, this just reinforces my superficial assessment of his character. The problem I see, from the Facebook papers, is not that the software is a black box, but that the Mark I Zombie at the top of the organization systematically squelches attempts to make his systems more ethical. His rationale seems to be that at least he's more ethical than the other people who would otherwise try to eat our brains. While I grant he may conceivably be correct, I need a lot more evidence to actually believe it.

    292:

    A quick scan on ebay turned up two things: 1) You can probably find the parts you want without going to a junkyard (although I'm not sure what parts you actually need) (prices seem to range from $50 to $160). 2) You can buy a bluetooth steering wheel clip on thing that provides the controls, they claim to work with iOS & Android. (Prices range $20 to $40).

    Good luck!

    293: 287 - Is a "suicide knob" any relation to a diddly handle? 289 - And in Europe they'd become "Royal Dutch Green"!
    294:

    At those prices I suspect the steering wheel no longer has the air bag. And I decided a while back to not do anything repairs on my own that might set off an air bag.

    The clip on things would be susceptible to accidental activation.

    295:

    suicide knob

    I think he's referring to a "clip on / bolt on" ball that allows you to fully rotate the steering wheel with only one hand/arm.

    Illegal where I grew up. And in most other places. Teens liked them "back in the day" as it allowed them to steer with one hand (their left over here) and wrap their arm around a girl's shoulders. Of course this also assumes most cars had bench seats up front. Which they did "back in the day".

    Also they made it easy to get into a situation where you lost control. Hence the name.

    Postal delivery drivers who used their own cars in areas with the home box on a pole at the street used them as it was easier to steer while being close enough to the other side to stick the mail in people's boxes. Not sure if they had something for the brake and gas or not.

    Not sure how my comment about buttons on steering wheels of modern cars being hard to accidentally activate made it to this device.

    296:

    Re you asking about qualifications that might require time travel. At least this one only requires time travel forward.

    Dr Emma Louise Barlow (@emloubarlow) Tweeted: Just saw a job ad for a Latin teacher. Ad specified that successful applicant must be a native speaker of the language.

    Good luck with that.

    https://twitter.com/emloubarlow/status/1427227206850256896?s=20

    297:
    Just saw a job ad for a Latin teacher. Ad specified that successful applicant must be a native speaker of the language. Good luck with that.

    Doesn't actually require time travel. It merely requires growing up in a home where Mom and Dad spoke Latin to each other and to the child. It could happen!

    298:

    Metastasise.

    Clearly that's the word to use about FB's name change.

    299:

    We called them Brody Knobs.

    300:

    OT FYI Right now BoJo seems to be provoking a trade war with France by not issuing all the fishing licenses the French fishermen are entitled to thanks to the "brilliant" brexit deal (It is a crap deal for Bristish fishermen as the French can go on fishing in British waters as before, but BoJo signed the deal anyway). . The French have responded by apprehending a British vessel fishing in French waters without license. If this the start of a trade war, it might be a deliberate plan by Bojo to have an early election and ride a patriotic wave to election victory.

    301:

    Since my only other "device" is a flip phone, I don't ever look at FB other than on my computer (running Linux), in firefox.

    302:

    Right. Except, well, you're a multiaward-winning writer, with a large back catalog... and you're published by a major. My only novel that's published was by Eric Flint's Ring of Fire Press, which, though it's putting out a book a week (with a staff of 3? 4?), is nowhere near that, and has far less advertising budget, and can't directly put books in stores.

    sigh My FB ad appears to get people to occasionally buy the book (though I'm hoping a review by a Certain Party Lurker) will help me.

    303:

    I don't care what the movies say, minions are the cannon fodder. Years back, my manager, I, and another sysadmin were signing in to go into the datacenter, and after a brief discussion, the three of us agreed that henchmen, as he referred to us, were higher class associates, not cannon fodder.

    humph

    304:

    FB - firing line or machine gun? You... do realize what that means, if you actually consider FB's workings?

    They're Storm Troopers ("only Storm Troopers could be so precise...")(Of course, if you're not at exactly 90 degrees to them, but at 89 or 91, they miss.)

    305:

    Green seems a perfectly reasonable name. They only pump oil as a mechanism for... pumping green(backs) from our pockets into theirs.

    306:

    Great, thanks for reminding me they may be illegal.

    And it got there, because I was talking about turning the wheel rapidly during a U-turn, and how easy it was, in that situation, to accidentally hit the stupid on-wheel radio button.

    307:

    No, I think there's a better word, one quite descriptive of FB: Meta-mucil.

    For those outside the US, that's the trade name of a product which everyone I've known who've ever taken it to deal with constipation is utterly vile.

    308:

    Since my only other "device" is a flip phone, I don't ever look at FB other than on my computer (running Linux), in firefox.

    Not DEVICE. Browser. I use Safari for FB and do all my other browsing, except for a very few Apple specific things, in Firefox or Chrome. This way web sites with FB links in them don't tell FB where I'm at or have been.

    309:

    One gets the impression that one of FacePlant's creepy (creeping?) missions is to force out smart, ethical people with integrity who come up with technical fixes to its fairly amoral practices. Hiring disposable techs by the hectare to solve problems generated by its algorithms. It's not clear why this is more profitable than tinkering with the algorithms. It's also not clear to me as an outside that fixing the algorithms to act morally is a hard problem.

    I suspect the deeper problem is that, for humans, power's addictive, and it's hard to give up a powerful position once one has attained it. Mark the Zombie's been mainlining social media power in jumbo doses for far too long, and like most epic users, his window for coming clean is closing rapidly.

    310:

    As I tried to say before, my car and others I've driven, dragging your hand or arm across the buttons will do nothing. They require a press with tactile feed back. And are designed to be done with a thumb with fingers holding the wheel.

    311:

    FYI Right now BoJo seems to be provoking a trade war with France by not issuing all the fishing licenses the French fishermen are entitled to thanks to the "brilliant" brexit deal

    I am trying to refrain from posting blog essays about how badly brexit is going: why do you keep tempting me like this?

    What has become apparent is that Brexit is a utopian nation-building program that about 25-30% of the nation are really crazily enthusiastic about (emphasis on "crazy" -- it's John Rogers' crazification factor at work here), and because they vote Tory, Johnson is shoveling red meat into the gimp cage on a daily basis.

    Because Brexit is utopian it can never fail, it can only be failed. So it follows that if some aspect of Brexit goes sideways, traitors or insufficiently-enthusiastic wreckers must be at fault. (See also Bolshevism in the Lenin/early Stalin period.)

    Alas, it turns out that the Brexiter politicians neglected to inform themselves of what the EU they were leaving even was, namely a legalistic international treaty framework. So they keep blundering about blindly violating legal agreements that trigger, or will eventually trigger, sanctions by their trading partners.

    Meanwhile the Tories focus-group tested "culture wars" in the run up to the 2019 election and discovered there was a public appetite for such things among their voter base (who trend elderly and poorly educated). Think MAGA. The transphobia campaign currently running is one such culture war: so is the war on wokeness that cross-infected the UK from you-know-who. It's insane. Turns out that about 80% of the shibboleths that infect the US hard right play well to the UK centre-right. The notable exception is vaccine resistance -- anti-vaxxers are a noisy but tiny fringe.

    I note that this is predominantly an English disease. Scotland is mostly going in the opposite direction: NI is deeply uneasy over the way Westminster seems to be throwing them under the bus over the NI border protocol, Wales ... not much news about Wales gets heard outside Wales, but they seem to be somewhere between Scotland and England on the political map. (Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, are less successful than the SNP, who have comprehensively beaten Labour in Scotland: in Scotland the Tories are in second place in the polls by a whisker, but don't seem able to break through the 25% barrier.)

    Anyway: Boris wants a war with France. Especially one he can turn off in an instant by throwing a switch/making a strategic concession (which the Tory-aligned media will spin as "victory" or blame on Labour Wreckers and Remoaner Parasites). The two things propping up his sagging junta are (a) a totally supine media environment and (b) COVID19, which turned up conveniently in time to be blamed for all the ills of Brexit. But COVID19 will go away soon, at which point it's going to be very hard to disguise the source of the economic damage.

    Juche Britannia!

    Sunlit Uplands!

    Brexit means Brexit!

    Strong and Stable under the New Management!

    312:

    You're clearly not understanding me. Why not get in your car, and try to do a U-turn, in a three-lane st (two parking, one driving) in 30 sec or so?

    I guarantee that you'd accidentally hit the buttons.

    313:

    Because Brexit is utopian it can never fail, it can only be failed.

    Libertarianism is like this.

    I've noticed that whenever some attempted libertarian project fails (which they virtually all do), the libertarians are quick to explain that it failed because it was not PERFECTLY libertarian.

    Any goal that cannot be approached, but must be flawlessly implemented in order not to fail disastrously, is ipso facto fatally flawed.

    314:

    My car (6 years old) has a standard VW group steering wheel. It’s possible, but doesn’t often happen, to activate the two outermost buttons on the steering wheel when turning the wheel. It;s not much of a problem since they don’t do anything vital. The left hand one controls the function of the radio and the right hand one changes the display in the central screen of the dashboard. None of these affect driving safety. It’s also possible to switch off the shell controlling the volume which is next to the radio functions switch. This doesn’t happen often and, as I’ve already written has no effect on safety. However deactivating SIRI would affect safety. I can phone anybody in my contacts list, answer or reject incoming calls, confirm remotes on Google maps, play music or podcasts and even initiate navigation verbally. This is far safer than any other method

    315:

    I don't think that you are being even half rude enough. Enough said, because I am also trying to restrain myself from making posts on the topic.

    316: 311 - Will you please stop mis-spelling "WrecksIt" Charlie?

    As to "lack of news about Wales", the are the "Englis British Broadcasting Corporation.

    Have I exceeded my quota of snark for the day?

    314 - Safer than "not using your phone whilst driving", safer than "not hanging radio channel whilst driving", safer than "stopping when you need to reset your route or destination rather than doing so whilst driving? 315 - Also likewise.
    317:

    Maybe there should be a post which simply reads "Discuss Brexit here." No text required!

    318:

    Charlie, what's next for BoZo, I mean, BoJo? Will he spend tax dollars to buy 20 pounders for the British fishermen to mount on their boats? I can see it now, fishing ships of the line, firing broadsides at the French!

    And, apropos of nothing else, I have just finished the third novel in my universe, complete with the first major revisions to fix the chronology. That was so hard - I'd written parts of it as short stories - that I had to create a document of nothing but chapter headings and dates.

    But good, though. Ends with a bang.

    319:

    I guarantee that you'd accidentally hit the buttons.

    Touching (hitting) and activating are not the same thing.

    After some people here went on a rant about how dangerous such buttons were to H and I a year or few back I actually paid attention when driving my car and others. On modern (mine is a 2016 model) cars you really have to work hard to do more than touch without effect any such buttons.

    I've driven 1954 Ford 8N and similar tractors, learned on 59 Chevy truck, 18" logging trucks from the 40s/50s, backhoes, excavators, skid steers, vans, pickups, all the way up to current model cars with adaptive cruise controls and steering that could be done with a single finger if you ignored the feed back system telling you to STOP IT. Most of the older ones didn't have anything like power steering. (The older tractors seems to have "fight you steering" but that is mostly an artifact of a huge under steer till sudden over steer as you drive across rough fields.

    I have done more than a few various maneuvers involving various types of steering.

    Either we are totally misunderstanding each other or you don't understand the common implementation of modern steering wheel controls.

    320:

    is ipso facto fatally flawed.

    No. It just requires perfect people. Anyone found any yet?

    321:

    I recently discovered some buttons on my steering wheel which are apparently for radio operation. I've owned the car for a decade and never noticed. I certainly never hit them by accident.

    Our other car, which is electric, has a variety of buttons and paddles on the wheel. None of them are a problem thus far.

    A lot of conservative political discourse follows the utopian model. If cutting taxes isn't working, it is because we didn't cut them ENOUGH! If cutting services is making our lives miserable, it is because we haven't cut ENOUGH services. Other possible explanations are heresy and must be shouted at until they go away.

    Interestingly here in Canada, the newspapers and media have been banging on with that stuff just like always, but fewer people seem to be listening.

    322:

    I am trying to refrain from posting blog essays about how badly brexit is going: why do you keep tempting me like this?

    I've been wondering myself. I have to assume what we hear about in the US is only 1/3 or less of the story. Maybe much less.

    I did like the one where it is estimated that the UK is short about 100K (rough estimate) truck/lorry drivers. So BoJo said what 15K could come over for 6 months then be thrown out? At not much if any pay bump. And was basically ignored by the EU driver pool.

    And there are reports of thinly stocked groceries. But also that those are rare and publicized for attention headlines.

    Now over here (US) various hospitals have been solving the nursing shortage by paying nurses who normally make $60K to $100K per year an annualized $250K and up. No benefits or housing. But at that pay those who have a life situation that allows it can buy an RV and move from need to need around the country. Saw an interview of a nurse last night where she said the first lunch conversation quickly gets to what are they paying you?

    323:

    paws4thot @ 277: The simplest and best answer to Arsebook is to not have an account.

    I never cared enough to sign up for facebook and later when I realized what a cesspool it was becoming I actively resisted having an account.

    I saw where facebook is changing their name. Don't think that's gonna' help the leapord change its spots though. Maybe they SHOULD have changed the name TO "arsebook". That's what the new logo looks like, a stain someone's butt cheeks left behind.

    324:

    I never cared enough to sign up for facebook and later when I realized what a cesspool it was becoming I actively resisted having an account.

    You know, I've had a FB account for years, and I am, TBH, a little puzzled by the "cesspool" designation. It's not that I doubt that most people experience it that way. My experience, however, is pleasantly anodyne. I see news of my family, and what entertainments my friends are currently enjoying, and I also get a little professional news from old colleagues. Cat pictures, of course. I see very little on FB that makes me angry or worried.

    I think it is possible to curate ones FB experience. I use "unfollow" pretty frequently. I am not under any illusion that a FB friend is a real friend. I never look at the raw news feed. Each morning I click on "most recent" and look at the things the people I follow posted in the last 24 h.

    325:

    David L @ 279:

    I nearly had an accident the first time I hit the button (accidentally) while making a U-turn, given I turn the wheel *fast*, not is super-slo-mo, the way at least half of all US drivers do.

    Interesting. Older car maybe? I have yet to drive a car with buttons on the steering wheel where you could push them by accident. You might bump them but all the ones I've driven basically require you to have a firm grip with your other fingers to have enough force to press with your thumb and get them to do something.

    On the Jeep they'd be on the back side of the arms (that hold the steering wheel to the steering column), slightly inboard of the wheel itself. Two rocker switchs with a center button. Right side is volume up/down with the center button cycling through modes (AM/FM/CD/AUX/...) while the Left side does different things depending on mode Radio - seek up/down and center button scans to next preset station; CD click once up goes to the next track, down to the beginning of the current track; twice jumps to second track, three times jumps to third track ... the center button has no function.

    On the Focus there was a "stalk" on the left side of the steering column that you could reach with your fingertips without taking your hand off the wheel. It had volume up/down, seek and mode (AM/FM/CD/AUX). Mine wasn't equipped with an AUX input, so it was just (AM/FM/CD). When playing a CD, "seek" just jumped to the next track, but it would play MP3 CDs, so there could be A LOT of tracks. It did also have a "scan" mode, but for that you had to use the control on the front of the radio.

    Both of them have (had) 6 CD changers in dash and you had to press a button on the radio to change to a different CD. On the Ford using the remote control to change CD tracks would go to the next CD if you used it during the last track on a CD. On the Jeep it just cycled back to the first track on the disk.

    Both had the buttons for the cruise control mounted on the front of the arms where you can activate/control it with your thumbs.

    326:

    "This way web sites with FB links in them don't tell FB where I'm at or have been."

    I've added *.facebook.com, *.fbcdn.com and whatever else I can think of to the global blocklist. That way they don't even get plain unadorned stateless GET requests for embedded content on other websites. (And none of that shit works anyway, so it's not like I miss anything.)

    Since Twitter a few months ago terminally fucked their website so it no longer works at all in any way whatsoever, I can do the same with them now too.

    327:

    My experience, however, is pleasantly anodyne. I see news of my family, and what entertainments my friends are currently enjoying, and I also get a little professional news from old colleagues. Cat pictures, of course. I see very little on FB that makes me angry or worried.

    Same here. Well except for a few relatives not seen more than an hour in 40 years who thought Obama was the anti-Christ. But it wasn't a lot of their posts. Then came Trump. And it turns out 1/3 of more of my relatives and over 1/2 of my friends from high school and such turned out to be true Trumpers. And any politician or person or even close relative than didn't brown nose him was fully evil. Things went down from there.

    The group of employees of my wife's company has split into Covid needs to be deal with on one side and it's a hoax by evil D's on the other.

    Totally toxic.

    328:

    We'll just use the Navy. It's what they're for, after all; be just like old times again. And it's not that long ago since they had a go at the Icelandic fishing fleet, and France is closer.

    329:

    "their US subsidiary Shell Oil Company would become Green Oil Company."

    ...and specialise in occult supplies for French restaurants.

    330:

    Then came Trump. And it turns out 1/3 of more of my relatives and over 1/2 of my friends from high school and such turned out to be true Trumpers. And any politician or person or even close relative than didn't brown nose him was fully evil. Things went down from there.

    I unfollowed and unfriended, and even blocked a couple. I don't need the aggravation.

    331:

    Mr. Tim @ 292: A quick scan on ebay turned up two things:
    1) You can probably find the parts you want without going to a junkyard (although I'm not sure what parts you actually need) (prices seem to range from $50 to $160).
    2) You can buy a bluetooth steering wheel clip on thing that provides the controls, they claim to work with iOS & Android.
    (Prices range $20 to $40).

    Good luck!

    Thanks

    I had a quick look at eBay just now to confirm my previous conclusion (I had searched in depth previously). They have plenty of switches & wiring harnesses, just not the one I need for my particular vehicle - lots of cruise control parts, but none of the audio interfaces for the 2002-2007 Liberty KJ. And even if I had the audio interface, it wouldn't control the phone ...

    I don't need the steering wheel clip for the phone. I just need to take my Jeep back to the shop that installed the radio & have them help me pair the iPhone with the radio bluetooth IF I want to make outgoing calls through the radio. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. It's cool to be able to answer an incoming call, but I still have to pull off the road to talk (for safety "Hang up and drive").

    But since I have to pull over anyway, it's not that much more bother to dig the phone out of my pocket to make outgoing calls.

    332:

    David L @ 295:

    suicide knob

    Postal delivery drivers who used their own cars in areas with the home box on a pole at the street used them as it was easier to steer while being close enough to the other side to stick the mail in people's boxes. Not sure if they had something for the brake and gas or not.

    Since the early 90s or so THEY (in this case "they" being the postal service) required you to have auxiliary pedals installed on the passenger side floorboard before they would give you a contract. There were also factory RHD conversions available specifically for postal service contractors.

    Not sure how my comment about buttons on steering wheels of modern cars being hard to accidentally activate made it to this device.

    I think that was a response to how someone was making a U-turn when they activated the steering mounted audio controls.

    334:

    Or you've never seen me turn the wheel fast.

    335:

    Since the early 90s or so

    Ahem. I was thinking of the 70s and prior.

    When men were men and postal workers, delivered mail. [grin]

    336:

    When men were men and postal workers, delivered mail.

    "...and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.”

    337:

    Let's see: I was in the FB group "concellation" (the con that's always cancelled before it starts) for most of a year, and it got taken over by franchise fans. I'd never put that together betore, but then, if they disagree with you, suddenly you're not arguing with one person, but six or eight, and they won't answer your questions.

    I finally quit. And I was commenting on some folks' posts, and they jumped on me, that "that's not what this is about, and if you want to talk about that, post it on your timeline (or whatever you call it).

    A lot of folks seems to feel that they have complete control of all comments after they post something, and it's not a conversation that can wander.

    338:

    LAvery @ 297:

    Just saw a job ad for a Latin teacher. Ad specified that successful applicant must be a native speaker of the language.
    Good luck with that.

    Doesn't actually require time travel. It merely requires growing up in a home where Mom and Dad spoke Latin to each other and to the child. It could happen!

    Maybe if both parents were former Roman Catholic Priests.

    339:

    Dave Lester @ 298:

    Metastasise.

    Clearly that's the word to use about FB's name change.

    Meta-STASI?

    340:

    whitroth @ 312: You're clearly not understanding me. Why not get in your car, and try to do a U-turn, in a three-lane st (two parking, one driving) in 30 sec or so?

    I guarantee that you'd accidentally hit the buttons.

    BTDT-GTTS ... while I was towing a trailer & didn't hit the buttons.

    341:

    Mike Collins @ 314: "However deactivating SIRI would affect safety. I can phone anybody in my contacts list, answer or reject incoming calls, confirm remotes on Google maps, play music or podcasts and even initiate navigation verbally. This is far safer than any other method

    I had SIRI turned off BEFORE I left the store with my iPhone. I don't have to answer incoming calls if traffic makes it dangerous, they can go to voicemail. As noted previously, if I do answer an incoming call, I'm simultaneously looking for someplace to pull off the road so I can talk or I just tell them to call back in 5 minutes (making sure I'm off the road waiting for the call back). I don't have the radio set up to initiate outgoing calls. I have to go back to where I got the radio from & have them help me set that up (IF I decide I want to be able to initiate outgoing calls through the radio).

    I don't listen to podcasts while driving. I can either concentrate on what the podcast is saying or concentrate on the road. I choose the road, so I can't keep track of what the podcasts are saying.I only listen to podcasts when I'm not driving and can give them my full attention.

    For "navigation" I'm still stuck back in the old days where you planned your route in advance. I do have paper maps to consult if the situation on the ground doesn't match the pre-planned route, but again I only do so while I'm pulled off of the road (if I'm the driver & alone) ... otherwise navigation is the co-driver/right seat passenger's responsibility.

    And I'm good at that too. There have been situations were I chose to let someone else drive while I navigated (because I distrusted their driving less than I distrusted their navigation).

    And finding music on the radio without ever taking my eyes off the road is something I've got 50+ years experience doing. I learned how to do that just as soon as I got my driver's license and "modern" radios generally just make that easier. You do have to take some time to familiarize yourself with the control layout if you get a new car/radio ... but it's just common sense to do that.

    342:

    David L @ 320:

    is ipso facto fatally flawed.

    No. It just requires perfect people. Anyone found any yet?

    Other than myself, no.

    343:

    Hmm. I’ve just taken a look at your records and it may be a good idea to be more circumspect.

    As for this ‘radio’ thing - do people actually still do that? I don’t think the radio bit in my 12 y.o. car has ever been used. I pretty much only listen to podcasts when driving.

    344: 318 - Overdone IMO, a Typhoon mount with a M242 Bushmaster (like the Australian Armadale class patrol boats) would be adequate. various on "steering wheel controls" - My old (registered 1998) Citroen Xantia had steering wheel radio controls, but you'd never hit them by accident (much less hard enough to have an effect) if you held the wheel by the rim. 323 - You've heard the saying "preaching to the choir"? 336 "...and thus was the Empire forged!" 343 - "Sort of"; I mostly use the "radio" as controls for the CD stacker.
    345:

    On the other hand, I was also hearing about how chaotic the chip market is-- chip fabs are very expensive, so when there's a shortage, there's an incentive to build chip fabs and once you've got a chip fab, to make as many chips as possible to block out competitors even if you can't get a great price. We might be seeing a chip surplus eventually.

    Nice long summary of the chip shortagee situation. The people in the business are now talking years.

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/10/no-end-in-sight-for-chip-shortage-as-supply-chain-problems-pile-up/

    346:

    Just saw a job ad for a Latin teacher. Ad specified that successful applicant must be a native speaker of the language.

    Good luck with that.

    Obviously they were confused and what they were really after was a native speaker of Latin American.

    (Ducks and runs.)

    347:

    I had SIRI turned off BEFORE I left the store with my iPhone. I don't have to answer incoming calls if traffic makes it dangerous,

    In iOS 15, go into Settings and select Focus. One of the settings is "Driving", and it lets you fine-tune what notifications and stuff will come through to you. There is an option to activate Driving focus mode automatically -- either when connected to car bluetooth, or when the phone detects you're moving faster than a human can reasonably jog/run. It can also be set to activate automatically when you connect to CarPlay if you have a CarPlay-equipped vehicle.

    (I don't use this because I'm much more likely to be moving rapidly on a train/in a taxi/on a bus than driving myself -- I'm close to giving up driving -- but it may be what you need.)

    348:

    Whether its Brexit in the UK, Evergrande in China, shortages of everything and people quitting their jobs in the US - the center is not holding.

    Some rough beast is slouching towards Bethlehem.

    Four rough beasts - or horsemen - actually.

    There are powerful undercurrents that shape an era, and understanding them can help predict the future.

  • The demographic cliff as TFIs fall below 2.1.

  • Global warming and climate change

  • Declining EROI for fossil fuels.

  • Obscene wealth inequality and oligarchy

  • Each interacts with the others creating knock on effects (religious fanaticism, economic stagnation, collapse of biodiversity, racist politics, pandemics, massive government debt, etc.)

    P.S. Recommend this guy who makes the apocalypse both interesting and fun.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIJq79HsvuU

    349:

    Not helped by some of the billionaires funding anti-vaxxer/anti-mask disinformation as well as climate change denial (Koch network, I'm looking at you).

    350:

    Let's just avoid it until there is something new to say. Currently, the zombie is just shambling along, dropping foul-smelling lumps as it goes, but doing nothing that, er, enhances the plot. A little may happen over the new year, but don't expect anything much until April/May 2022. Of course, Anything May Happen.

    351:

    I am feeling lazy and as it's time for a new blog entry I think I may grab my comment at 311 and flesh it out a bit, with links.

    Truly, the fustercluck seems to be approaching critical mass, albeit slowly: more like prompt criticality than supercriticality. If you're standing too close to it there's not much difference in the final result, though.

    352:

    Yes, it's more a meltdown than an explosion. But, as with all chaotic systems, predicting it more than a short distance ahead is a mug's game. There are just SO many possible paths, few of which are in the slightest bit attractive.

    353:

    As for this ‘radio’ thing - do people actually still do that? I don’t think the radio bit in my 12 y.o. car has ever been used. I pretty much only listen to podcasts when driving.

    I use my radio, but only as a receiver for a bluetooth FM repeater, which listens to my iPhone.

    354:

    I've been saying for a few years now that we really need to be invaded and occupied by the Culture (who are regrettably fictional, dammit). Failing that, Daleks will do: they can't possibly make things any worse.

    355:

    This will cheer you all up, "Why Everything Will Collapse"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsA3PK8bQd8

    356:

    This will cheer you all up, "Why Everything Will Collapse"

    "Florida is gone!" Finally, a bright side.

    357:

    Not using your phone while driving? I use my phone as satnav, car radio and podcast player. Even in rural Norfolk there is a strong phone signal almost everywhere. So I’m on the motorway and there’s a road closure or accident ahead. I can’t stop. But I can authorise an alternative route using Siri or another voice command. Without taking my eyes or attention off the road. I can’t look at the road atlas which is open to the appropriate page on the seat next to me because It’s a motorway and I’m travelling at the speed of the traffic - usually over 70 mph. Without Siri or the phone button on the steering wheel just to the left of my thumb I can’t phone to say I’ll be very late. But Siri is much safer than the phone button and selector wheel because I don’t have to look away from the road. At one time my wife would often be there to do this but although she’s an excellent navigator her eyesight is now not good enough for this.

    358:

    Ha! I use my car radio.

    a) I'm a luddite, and b) Especially in LA, in freeway gridlock, guess what? thousands of your neighbors are accessing the internet to 1) figure out an alternate route, 2) figure out what's wrong and how long it's going to delay them, 3) contacting whoever to tell them they'll be late, and 4) sucking down media to try to deal with the situation.

    In these situations, the amount of internet bandwidth available is rather pitiful. Following a route works (that's GPS). Getting a new route is impossible or very tedious. Finding out what's going on (from Waze or whatever) doesn't work because thousands of people are doing the same thing.

    Or you turn to KNX 1070 AM, and they give a traffic report every 10 minutes. It's not perfect, because they talk fast and you have to know the freeways, but bandwidth is not a problem.

    They're also very good during disasters.

    359:

    Especially in LA

    OK, I've identified your problem. You drive in LA.

    360:

    Yes Brother! Preach it! All hail KNX 1070, the holy fountain of traffic enlightenment!

    361:

    Charlie Your # 311 was almost spot-on. But, even BoZo the lying slime-clown has to pay attention to all the OTHER VOTERS. The "red wall" seats have tiny, miniscule, even - tory majorities. It only wants a little to lose them. And someone competent, i.e. not Corbyn, in charge of Labour & the threat of losing outer London & the London fringe, because the tories are seriously & obviously crapping on not just London, but the inner SE ...it's all too clear that "Levelling-Up" translates as "grinding you down" for instance. But it's going to be Chinese-Interesting, as if BoZo waits until 2024, he'll lose - dare he go for a snap election, early in 2022, before the full scale of the fuck-up becomes apparent to more than the well-informed ( i.e. people like us ) ???

    I agree, horribly, with EC @ 352

    362:

    “Failing that, Daleks will do: ” M’Lud, I would like to officially read into the evidence “Priti Patel”

    363:

    Makes ya long for a beige dictator, it does.

    Well, not beige, but we've got a used orange one we could let you have, real cheap.

    364:

    OK, I've identified your problem. You drive in LA.

    Are you saying I should go walking in LA?

    While I know most all y'all prefer to keep at least 2000 km between yourselves and LaLa Land, if you're ever stuck in LA (perhaps seeing your movie rights agent about a project?), figure out how to tune your rental's radio to AM 1070 and just leave it on when you're on the freeway. It will help.

    365:

    I've been saying for a few years now that we really need to be invaded and occupied by the Culture (who are regrettably fictional, dammit). Failing that, Daleks will do: they can't possibly make things any worse.

    Didn't you write a book about how some hominids summoned an elder god, and then the survivors had to go to Earth?

    What I'd suggest is for your third Halting State book, write a grim procedural about a Scottish border cop who's part of the underground railroad smuggling leftists and intellectuals north to freedom in the EU. Or something adjacent. It'll help get you organized for the next decade.

    366:

    Dear snot-nosed brat: yes, we do. For example, driving in the area (MoCo, MD, DC 'burb) I we usually listen to Baltimore community College, the classical station that's noticeably better than DC's, and we don't have to think about what CD we want to put on.

    Oh, I see, you have your phone running all the time, because wifi? ROTFL. I tried using my netbook, a few years back, on Megabus, and gave up after half an hour.

    You are incapable of planning your trip in advance, and looking at the maps, so you know before that annoyance starts trying to, say, tell you to make a right, a U-turn, and another right (as Google maps did, a few years back, because it couldn't handle a road's name change? Or earlier this year, when my co-pilot, as opposed to me who was driving, could not get Google to stop trying to force us to go a good way out of the way, to use the Interstate?

    367:

    British FM radio stations have regular traffic reports in addition to the normal broadcast ones. To access them you select the TP option on the car radio. Americans driving hired cars in the UK are often surprised when the radio programme they’re listening to cuts out and a traffic report starts.

    368:

    if you're ever stuck in LA (perhaps seeing your movie rights agent about a project?), figure out how to tune your rental's radio to AM 1070 and just leave it on when you're on the freeway. It will help.

    Permit me to doubt it. Traffic reports are useful only to people who know the area and the roads well enough to usefully modify their behavior in response to the reports.

    There's a general principle in economics -- information is valuable only if you can modify your behavior in response to the info in such as way as to increase utility.

    369:

    But that won't give you the satisfaction of a Real Broadside, with the smoke and cannonball! Something to really scare them (wimpy frogs!)

    370:

    Permit me to doubt it.

    All that's really required is to know what freeway you're already on and maybe which direction you're traveling. If you're paying that much attention a traffic report will help.

    371:

    The term 'rural Norfolk' hasn't implied what people traditionally used it for any time this millennium (yes, I know the area); also, it's damn-near flat (*). I can assure you that mobile signals are very iffy in much of the UK by area, even if not much by population.

    I can believe that voice control used appropriately is suitable for some people, but it is very dangerous for far more people than realise it is. Inter alia, if you have to strain to listen, or are carrying on a conversation on a fixed phone, you are nearly as distracted as if you were holding one.

    I am extreme, in that ANY kind of automatic voice warnings or responsive speech from a car computer would endanger me, but I don't know how many people are like me. A fair number, I would guess, because it will include most people with significantly impaired hearing.

    (*) https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/images/map-uk-population-2.jpg https://image.posterlounge.se/images/l/1698693.jpg

    372:

    All that's really required is to know what freeway you're already on and maybe which direction you're traveling. If you're paying that much attention a traffic report will help.

    How? I'm not seeing it. What use will I make of the information in the report?

    373:

    All you really need to know is whether the route to your specific destination has any obstacles and what the useful alternative routes might be. You don't have to know the whole area (though of course that helps.)

    Google or Waze is probaby better, but I don't like giving up my privacy and keep my location turned off.

    374:

    @370: All that's really required is to know what freeway you're already on and maybe which direction you're traveling. If you're paying that much attention a traffic report will help.

    @373: All you really need to know is whether the route to your specific destination has any obstacles and what the useful alternative routes might be. You don't have to know the whole area (though of course that helps.)

    These two things are NOT the same.

    My doubt remains intact.

    375:

    What I'd suggest is for your third Halting State book, write a grim procedural about a Scottish border cop who's part of the underground railroad smuggling leftists and intellectuals north to freedom in the EU.

    I'm pretty sure Dave Hutchinson already got there first?

    376:

    All you really need to know is whether the route to your specific destination has any obstacles and what the useful alternative routes might be. You don't have to know the whole area (though of course that helps.). Google or Waze is probaby better, but I don't like giving up my privacy and keep my location turned off.

    How the radio can help:

    General KNX Comment: "The freeways are bad, give yourself plenty of extra time..." That's always good to know.

    As Troutwaxer noted, if you're northbound on the 405 and you hear that a semi has jackknifed and blocked all northbound lanes, that will tell you what's causing the jam, and they'll usually (if they can) route you around it.

    Waze is fairly worthless in LA, because it slows drastically when something is wrong. Apple Maps can be humorous, because they will try to reroute people on the fly. In LA, you can find out how many of your fellow drivers are using their iPhones for directions when you all swerve off a clogging freeway to some obscure exit. Sometimes these work better, sometimes not.

    But in general, if you're stuck in an LA traffic jam and try to get your iPhone to cough up some alternative directions, there's one bar and your request is delayed or not completed.

    377:

    In these situations, the amount of internet bandwidth available is rather pitiful. Following a route works (that's GPS). Getting a new route is impossible or very tedious.

    One time I managed to get on I95 just south of DC headed south. I can't remember why as I would normally walk on broken glass before doing such. Anyway, Google and Apple maps had it red for 40 to 50 miles and based on previous experience that meant 3 hours or more for what should be a 40 minute drive. US 1 looked green so I bailed on I95 and headed south on US 1.

    Totally big oops. This was around 8 - 10 years ago and due to local opposition cell service along that stretch of US 1 was almost non existent. So instead of 5 to 10 mph on 12 foot wide lanes with no stops. I was now doing 5 to 10 mph on roads that would have pissed off horses back in the day. Curvy narrow lanes up and down small hills. With stop signs and small village traffic all the way. Didn't do THAT again.

    378:

    OK, I've identified your problem. You drive in LA.

    South of Washington DC I though it was nuts to build out the I95 HOV center lanes all the way down to Quantico till I got caught in rush hour traffic headed into DC at 5:30am about 10 years ago.

    A few weeks ago on a drive up to DC I see they are now extending the HOV on I94 down further to where it crosses US 17. 47 miles into the Pentagon. Center of DC a few miles further.

    I can't imagine. But there it is.

    379:

    Well, not beige, but we've got a used orange one we could let you have, real cheap.

    He may have a job in 2021 if the D's don't get their act together. They don't seem to understand that wining multiple elections in a row is more important than being perfect on the first try at legislation. When you have a 1/2 vote majority.

    The Virginia, US state elections may give us an indicator of the Orange one's chances to re-appear.

    380:

    The day started off with a heavy downer. I was out of coffee, so I needed to grind some more ... and then my coffee grinder DIED on me! ... before it managed to mangle a single bean.

    Started looking online for a replacement and every one of the local locations of the national Big Box chain stores that carry them could ship one to me in 3-4 days, but none in stock within 25 miles of my zip code.

    Okay, so how much is it going to cost me to have Big River overnight one to me. OUCH! ... but wait, what's this tab?

    Store Pickup? I've never seen that before ... "Only 3 left in stock - order soon" and I can pick it up today? About 15 minutes later I get an email that my order is ready for pickup.

    Turns out they have a storefront at the local mega-mall. I hate that mall. I try not to even go past it when it's closed it EFFS up traffic so bad.

    But COFFEE! !!!, so I gird up my loins and head out.

    It's a 3 hour tour there and back again, but my total time AT the mall is about 20 minutes - including walking from and too the parking space I found out in the east bumf**k Egypt parking lot, the two minutes I actually spent inside the store to pick up my order & I noticed it was right across the center divide from the food court, so I stopped at McDonald's for a large coffee to go (about 5 minutes in line, order & delivery).

    No shipping charges, but they do collect the local NC sales tax, which has always been my complaint - when they DON'T collect the tax I have to figure it out when I file for the year.

    That's always been a PITA, because the state is "Oh, you don't have to figure out your online purchases. We'll just take 7% of your adjusted gross income for the year for sales taxes on online purchases."

    Like hell you will!

    Anyway, I'm back home and I can use my new coffee grinder this evening. No pressure, because I got a cup of coffee while I was out, so I'm merely bemused instead of psychotic.

    381:

    timrowledge @ 343: Hmm. I’ve just taken a look at your records and it may be a good idea to be more circumspect.

    ????? I'm afraid you've lost me there.

    As for this ‘radio’ thing - do people actually still do that? I don’t think the radio bit in my 12 y.o. car has ever been used. I pretty much only listen to podcasts when driving.

    I've explained why I can't listen to podcasts while driving. I listen to some NPR because I know if I miss anything I can probably find the show on the internet & actively listen to it. Otherwise there's music which doesn't actually take any attention away from the road.

    382:

    I don't think the democrats are trying to be perfect by any means. They're just carrying the entire burden of legislating while the other party seems to be going into the business of setting up a dictatorship and looting the country. That's a heavy load to lift.

    One thing I'd advise is not giving much credence to the broadcast news media of any stripe. They're still stuck on portraying democrats as imploding while they're negotiating, and republicans as a working party when they're literally doing nothing except trying to win elections.

    383:

    I live in West Norfolk. It’s not flat. There are valleys nearby which can lose signal for a couple of minutes but iPlayer just restarts with no gap in the programme. My Google app has off lines maps and doesn’t need a continuous signal except for traffic updates. And I can travel from home to the North Coast on mainly country roads without loss of signal. Our hills are admittedly not huge. I live on the 55m contour and the nearby church is at 60m. Nearby valleys are about 30m.

    384:

    Charlie Stross @ 349: Not helped by some of the billionaires funding anti-vaxxer/anti-mask disinformation as well as climate change denial (Koch network, I'm looking at you).

    Ok, I think I understand the billionaires & climate change denial (because fossil fuels made a lot of fortunes)

    But I don't understand how they expect to benefit from funding anti-vaxxer/anti-mask disinformation?

    385:

    Permit me to doubt it. Traffic reports are useful only to people who know the area and the roads well enough to usefully modify their behavior in response to the reports.

    I've lived in the GTA for three decades, and radio traffic reports are pretty much useless to me because they assume I'm familiar not only with the roads but the usual traffic patterns are particular times. Hearing "just the usual slowdowns on the DVP" doesn't tell me much when I don't usually take the DVP at that time, and although I can extrapolate that if the DVP is backed up the 404 southbound is also likely backed up chances are visitors wouldn't know that. (Also doesn't help that for some reason problems on the 404 aren't reported.)

    386:

    Thanks, Charlie, I missed him completely. Having just looked at his wikipedia page, I need to check him out.

    387:

    Um, not HOV. They've added those separate toll lanes. They've extending it, because, too frequently, south of Lorton, VA, I-95 backs up badly to where the toll lanes end and merge.

    And the DC metro area just gets more and more crowded, like most big cities that have not had multinationals pull out (like Detroit, say).

    388:

    But I don't understand how they expect to benefit from funding anti-vaxxer/anti-mask disinformation?

    Some quite wealthy millionaires are getting rich off vaccine denial.

    As to the uber-wealthy, it's more confusion and disinformation to keep left-leaning (by American standards) government in turmoil and ineffective, while keeping passions high to take back the country next year…

    Zuck is getting richer off the nastiness, too.

    389:

    What I'd suggest is for your third Halting State book, write a grim procedural about a Scottish border cop who's part of the underground railroad smuggling leftists and intellectuals north to freedom in the EU....I'm pretty sure Dave Hutchinson already got there first?

    So after King Charles Devolver signs on to a little England and a bunch of new countries in the Isles, the only way English non-tory could get across a border to freedom is if they paid a coyote*? How unsporting.

    Anyway, if that doesn't appeal, posit the Culture as the Mi-Go, and have them dropping out of the London sky on Sunday and buzzing "braiiinnnnzzzz!" too all and sundry. Not that they'll visit Downing Street, but a lot of people might take the offer of painless upload more seriously than the government would.

    I suppose they're Mi-Go, but all we really know is that the encephalophiliac aliens don't show up on security cameras. Could be almost anything, really.

    Happy Halloween.

    *Human smuggler, specifically on the Mexican border.

    390:

    Ignore the US media, mostly. I'm infuriated with the sold-out-since-1995 NPR, who still are talking about the "divided" Democrats, when it's actually just two utterly corrupt and hypocritical Senators, Manchin (coal company money) and Sinema (apparently Big Pharma).

    The GOP utterly refuses, with a literal handful of exceptions, to do anything that does not cut down government, except where it helps them and their buddie$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    391:

    Troutwaxer @ 370:

    Permit me to doubt it.

    All that's really required is to know what freeway you're already on and maybe which direction you're traveling. If you're paying that much attention a traffic report will help.

    Ok. But what are you going to do about the other 90% of drivers?

    392:

    Ever been west of Salisbury? Yes, there are a few lumpy bits but, by UK standards, it's damn near flat. Cambridgeshire is comparable.

    393:

    Interesting video. But a ton of information dumped with little way to verify it.

    Interesting bit in the middle about how the EU is doomed. And be inference Brexit was the first step. But very badly done.

    Sounds like there's an idea for a novel here. :)

    394:

    Either the D's need to elect a majority by 5 or 10 votes of they get to play with who they got with a 50/50. And telling Manchin to vote against his voters preferences is not a way to stay in power.

    You get to play a different game when it's 55/45 or better yet 60/40. When it's 50/50 you have to play a very careful game.

    Like it or not.

    395:

    Um, not HOV. They've added those separate toll lanes.

    495 on the south west side is pay to go to the extra lanes. They seemed to use the same model as the Texas system where you get an RFDI tag for a few $$ or pay through the nose if they have to track you down via your license plate.

    My very distinct memory of the crazy gated things down the middle of I95 south of 495 was that they WERE HOV. I have used them multiple times outside of HOV time when they were open going my way. (I spent 3 1/2 years driving that route 10 to 15 times a year by myself.)

    I didn't see any $$$ warnings this last time but wasn't looking as they were closed against me both going north and then south.

    396:

    “For "navigation" I'm still stuck back in the old days where you planned your route in advance. I do have paper maps to consult if the situation on the ground doesn't match the pre-planned route, but again I only do so while I'm pulled off of the road (if I'm the driver & alone) ... otherwise navigation is the co-driver/right seat passenger's responsibility.” You’re not stuck in the old days if you have an IPhone. Apple Maps is included. Google Maps is free. Waze and many other apps are free. I pre plan routes. But even the latest versions of maps are not up to date. Most of my long journeys from Norfolk involve travelling West and North. The only practical routes out of East Anglia involve the A11 and A14. Both of roads have been substantially improved with considerable new road building. Since I only travel them every one or two months almost every journey during the upgrading involved a detour due to roadworks or a new section of road. Satnavs are more up to date but more than once they’ve shown me travelling off road through fields. But usually the satnav app gives the new route as default. I carry maps but as I’ve already noted elsewhere my excellent left seat/navigator is no longer able to perform that function because of failing eyesight. Just mount the phone on your dashboard and you have a satnav which you only need to use if you need to divert. As to leaving the roads the A11 and A14 have lay-bys but it would be suicide to stop on the road where, outside rush hour the traffic travels at speedo 70, satnav 70 (around 75mph) or satnav 77 (theoretically police won’t stop you for speeding until you’ve doing 10% over the speed limit. When traffic is high it’s very difficult to get back on the road from a lay-by because of the very high acceleration needed to get back on the road.

    397:

    Please. It's not "his voters preferences". He started two coal companies in the eighties. His son runs them, and he gets I think over half a million dollars from stocks.

    398:

    When traffic is high it’s very difficult to get back on the road from a lay-by because of the very high acceleration needed to get back on the road.

    When in the DC area a few weeks ago I was going out the big road to near the Dulles airport and they are adding HOV or $$$ down the center. (Or is it a Metro extension?) So things are flat out a mess. And Google mapping, while correct, just could not do justice to the barriers and temp exits and so on. And paying attention to new turn notions every 15 seconds was suicide. I did fairly well until I missed the 3rd temp fork after an exit and wound up with a 4 or 5 miles detour to get back to where I wanted to be. It was literally "you can't get there from here".

    399: 346 - {Like} 369 - I don't want to scare them, I want to make it clear that I can sink them! 392 - and all the "real mountains" in the UK are in Scotland.
    400:

    Please. It's not "his voters preferences". He started two coal companies in the eighties. His son runs them, and he gets I think over half a million dollars from stocks.

    It's both. Not being Solomonic here, but I was listening to NPR last night on the way back from the store, and I heard the West Virginia Miners' Union rep defending him vigorously. Apparently they go back decades.

    I want to point this out because there's a similar split in California. When it's majority dems, the Suits come over to the "centrist"/pro-business side of the democratic party, and the labor unions tend to support them, while the Progressives line up left of that coalition. If we can ever get the Republicans entirely out of power, I'm quite sure this will be the split, possibly formalized in a new left-wing progressive party and the pro-business crowd (plus the former independents) being the rump democratic party.

    Not sure where you stash the fascists in this mix though.

    401:

    Why didn't you go to the nearest market, pick up a pound of already-ground beans, then go home and order a grinder online?

    402:

    David L @ 377:

    In these situations, the amount of internet bandwidth available is rather pitiful. Following a route works (that's GPS). Getting a new route is impossible or very tedious.

    One time I managed to get on I95 just south of DC headed south. I can't remember why as I would normally walk on broken glass before doing such. Anyway, Google and Apple maps had it red for 40 to 50 miles and based on previous experience that meant 3 hours or more for what should be a 40 minute drive. US 1 looked green so I bailed on I95 and headed south on US 1.

    Totally big oops. This was around 8 - 10 years ago and due to local opposition cell service along that stretch of US 1 was almost non existent. So instead of 5 to 10 mph on 12 foot wide lanes with no stops. I was now doing 5 to 10 mph on roads that would have pissed off horses back in the day. Curvy narrow lanes up and down small hills. With stop signs and small village traffic all the way. Didn't do THAT again.

    In 1993 I went to BNCOC (Basic NCO Course Phase II) at Ft Dix, NJ for Annual Training. For grins & giggles I chose POV travel and drove my MGB.

    The end of school was Friday on Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday was a designated travel day). We were released from Ft. Dix at noon. It was about 1:30 pm (13:30) by the time I finished lunch & stopped by the commissary before hitting the road home to Raleigh. Made it to the cloverleaf at the intersection of I-95 (Baltimore-Washington Pkwy) and I-495 (Capital Area Beltway) [around DC on the east side] by 4:00 PM (16:00).

    Stayed on I-495 all the way around; in first & second gear from where I got on until I picked up I-95 again at the I-95, I-395 & I-495 interchange in Springfield, VA and down to the Ft. Belvoir exit (Fairfax County Pkwy) where I finally got off the highway & went looking for something to eat and a restroom). Average speed 5.45 miles/hour. Arrived there around 9:30 pm (21:30).

    Drove about 8.5 miles of Fairfax County Pkwy & US 1 getting back to I-95 near the Occoquan River. I don't remember the road being that bad.

    403:

    "Also doesn't help that for some reason problems on the 404 aren't reported."

    It's because they can't find them.

    404:

    Mike Collins @ 396:

    “For "navigation" I'm still stuck back in the old days where you planned your route in advance. I do have paper maps to consult if the situation on the ground doesn't match the pre-planned route, but again I only do so while I'm pulled off of the road (if I'm the driver & alone) ... otherwise navigation is the co-driver/right seat passenger's responsibility.”

    You’re not stuck in the old days if you have an IPhone. Apple Maps is included. Google Maps is free. Waze and many other apps are free.

    I think you missed my point. I'm not "stuck" for lack of technological resources. I am sticking with methods I prefer to use. I can use all those other methods if I choose to. I choose not to use them..

    As to leaving the roads the A11 and A14 have lay-bys but it would be suicide to stop on the road where, outside rush hour the traffic travels at speedo 70, satnav 70 (around 75mph) or satnav 77 (theoretically police won’t stop you for speeding until you’ve doing 10% over the speed limit. When traffic is high it’s very difficult to get back on the road from a lay-by because of the very high acceleration needed to get back on the road.

    If it's not safe to pull off the road to take a phone call I don't pull off, I let the call go to voice mail and deal with it later when I'm somewhere it IS safe to pull off.

    I am not a slave to my devices. I can answer the phone when it pleases me to do so, and I can ignore calls when it pleases me to do so. The phone serves me, not the other way around.

    405:

    Two blind apparent doom porn links. Neither video's metadata obviously identifies the producers and certainly does not describe their agenda and general outlook. Between them they demand over 45 minutes of people's minds, while (because they are videos) being more hostile to fact checking than written material or a slide deck with clickable links, and (because they are videos) being emotionally manipulative. It's true that the non-several-human-gigadeaths paths forward are disturbingly sparse, but it's mostly still in play excepting the ~4 degrees C global heating already baked in by physics/ecosystems. (Geoengineering is the main short-term play available for already-emitted CO2.)

    Useful review: What Big Oil knew about climate change, in its own words (October 28, 2021, Benjamin Franta)

    406:

    Troutwaxer @ 401: Why didn't you go to the nearest market, pick up a pound of already-ground beans, then go home and order a grinder online?

    Serendipity.

    I did order the grinder online, but while I was doing so I discovered a delivery option that didn't require me to wait several days or pay extra for expedited shipping. While going to the mega-mall is a PITA, it was less of a PITA than waiting and/or paying extra for expedited shipping. Additionally, no local markets carry "already-ground" Jamaican Blue Mountain beans I prefer to use here at home.

    But mainly, I didn't because I didn't have to. I got what I wanted and didn't have to settle for something less.

    407:

    So it turns out that a bad experience someone might have had with a tech thing X years ago has probably been resolved....

    More than once I've been using Google maps to navigate my way around Greater Vancouver and wondered why I was being routed through some random neighbourhood. Ultimately I've arrived at the destination ahead of others only to hear about some traffic snarl they had become caught in on the 'normal route'.

    It struggled a bit in places like Athens, Greece, but that may just have been the language - I suspect that it is fine in Greek.

    I usually select a playlist or podcast on my phone before starting a trip. I use the gps, which is linked to the car and advises me on turns and traffic.

    408:

    Whilst I do have a runny nose too often for comfort- I seem to be allergic to mornings - I’m getting on for a century past being a “runny-nosed brat”, so right back atcha, Mr. Grumpy.

    I don’t use radio in a car because there are no usable radio stations it can pick up round here. I don’t use a phone for wifi; aside from anything else I have no cellphone service. It does make a fine podcast player and camera. Obviously with no cell connection I don’t use gps mapping either. In fact I don’t think I have ever done so, in any car or country. When I lived in Silicon Valley I never needed any mapping device, and my ranch in Mariposa County involved I think 9 junctions and two sets of traffic lights to get there.

    A traffic jam out here is when I see more than one car within a mile behind me as I merge onto the highway. Which isn’t often. So no need for traffic reports. So none of the complaints you are making affect my life.

    409:

    Ah, humour transmission error404. I was making a little snark at your earlier little joke about perfect people. :-(

    I can’t listen to music via radio in the car. There are no stations I can pick up audibly, and the only ones that even exist out here are commercial trash. I had to listen to some when contractors were on-site during the house building era. Frankly it was a relief when a couple of the Swiss-German guys brought along a CD of what can only be described as “Thrash-Oompah”. So it’s Abney Park, Meg Myers, and podcasts off the venerable iPhone 4.

    410:
  • You've seen me rant about NPR having sold out to Newt the Grinch in '95. They keep talking about the "divided Democrats", when it's those two keeping most of the agenda from being passed.

  • Coal miners, defending someone who started coal companies. Hmmmm... never mind that the jobs are gone...

  • 411:

    Sorry, I didn't understand that you live in the middle of nowhere, with no stations. That's not what was implied in what you wrote. And you did ask who listened to radio anymore....

    412:

    I don't think you understand how it works. It relies on reports from non-dissenting Google maps users, AND (when there are few reports) on assuming that all roads of a similar class are comparable. It isn't more than guesswork in lightly travelled areas, where few people use it (probably Athens), or where there is a rabbit warren of roads or streets varying from the convenient to near-impassable (dare I mention the rural West Country again?)

    I still don't understand why it lost the M4 when asking about routes from Cambridge to St Austell, and proposed the M30 from Salisbury to Exeter as part of an alternate route. Totally insane, as anyone who knows the latter road can witness.

    413:

    paws ( # 399/392 ) NO Having been up Y Tryfan in January, it's a mountain Ditto Scafell & Helvellyn ( via Striding Edge, natch ) in March, but with considerable quantities of White Death flakes around - they, too, are mountains. Y Tryfan Looking down on Striding Edge The "path" is along that rock bit going away from the viewpoint ...

    414:

    So it turns out that a bad experience someone might have had with a tech thing X years ago has probably been resolved....

    Not really. Some high income areas are adamantly opposed to cell towers. Their land lines are just fine, thank you.

    Google Maps had the roads. But with wide swaths of no cell service the roads appeared empty so no red for packed rural roads.

    This stretch and others in rural eastern VA is full of areas that likely looked very much like when Grant was chasing Lee in 1864 and the journals from the time talk about the "wilderness". Unless it has been cleared it can make what I have read about the Normandy hedgerow country look easy.

    Anyway, I've driven these roads a few times with no troubles over the years. But every now and then they can be a real hassle as you have no idea of the traffic load. I'm sure the locals know when to stay home but us interlopers don't know the local windage.

    415: 403 - LOL!! 413 - Real mountains are over 3_000 feet high. Yr Wyddfa is about the only peak outside Scotland that measures up. 414 In others mot people either don't have a landline at all, or only really use it for broadband and/or cable tv. We use our cells for voice calls and SMS.
    416:

    Some PLAINS are over 6000 feet high... or more - think Tibetan Plateau How high is the mountain above the surrounding base-level & how steep, of course.

    417:

    Can you give a location or two, so I can look at a satellite view?

    Some of the roads I ride (and sometimes drive) on are much the same as they were when the Mayflower sailed (and probably Columbus), except that they are now tarmacked and there are occasional road signs. In particular, their widths are often low and there are very sharp bends - think of what the visibility is on a road with 3m between high hedges and a bend with a 0.5m inside radius! Not where, I live, of course, as it is mostly 'new countryside'.

    418:

    Which part of the Tibetan Plateau has a UK postcode? ;-)

    419:

    But I don't understand how they expect to benefit from funding anti-vaxxer/anti-mask disinformation?

    Several reasons spring to mind. It supports the Republican party (b/c Trump turned COVID denial into a loyalty oath). Gets the peasants back into the offices (props up commercial rents). Kills off the elderly (reduces pension overheads). Kills off the non-WASP population at a higher rate (they're racists, although they mostly don't say that bit aloud). It also keeps their right wing media circus rolling along with red meat for the base, a media circus they rely on for other gimmes.

    Public healthcare policies are incompatible with libertarianism, and these rich doofuses are mostly libertarians of the "I've got mine and I'm keeping it, so fuck you" variety.

    Want me to go on?

    420:

    EC isn't joking, either. In '14, when we were driving from Bblanau Ffestinog up to Llanbaris through the pass, it was actually one wide lane, period. To pass someone in the other direction, one of you had to pull off the road.

    As someone on a list put it when I described that, "you couldn't make a ewe turn".

    421:

    Well, find the correct alternate timeline. There must be a few million where the Glorious British Empire managed to claim the entire world. Hell, there might even be one where Brexit actually went well and didn’t destroy the entire solar system.

    But that aside, isn’t the requirement for “mountain” something like “over 1000ft above local general level”? I’m taking my knowledge here from that most serious of documentaries of the subject, “The Englishman that went up a hill and came down a mountain “

    422:

    What route did you take; my preferred route by the A470 and A4068 is 2 UK lanes wide all the way. There is a narrower route via Beddgelert (not recommended for trucks).

    423:

    Can you give a location or two, so I can look at a satellite view?

    That was a decade or so ago and I'm not sure where it was. I just did some looking and didn't see such. (I'm adverse to getting off I95 near DC these days no matter how bad the backup.) It may have been a diversion off US1. I've run into similar getting from the DC Metro area to my brother's house way outside of Haymarket VA. One road I need to tag to avoid is a state road but unpaved, well loose crush and run, so Google is happy to take me down it. Only a mile long, straight, and flat but after a decent amount of rain or snow it can be fun.

    Adding to your other comments many of these roads remind have sides that remind me of our drive around Ireland a few years ago. Two lanes paved of minimal width, drainage ditch on one or both sides, then thick underbrush and scrape trees. And when you can see through a gap rolling horse pastures or $2 mil and up subdivision houses.

    Oh and the roads are curvy with constant small hills up and down. So even though the speed limit may be 35 or 45 mph you're taking a chance to plow into something as you can't see more than 100' (or less) at times.

    424:

    It's not "his voters preferences".

    2020 Election results for West Virginia

    Biden 29.69% Trump 68.62%

    425:

    One thing I'd advise is not giving much credence to the broadcast news media of any stripe. They're still stuck on portraying democrats as imploding while they're negotiating, and republicans as a working party when they're literally doing nothing except trying to win elections.

    I'm referring to public comments by D house members who make statements as if there's a party system like in the UK who can tell Manchin (and others) in the Senate how to vote. Or else.

    3000 miles closer to things it impacts local politics to hear these statement when there are a lot of votes in the middle of places like VA and NC. They think Trump was a disaster but are still scared of AOC.

    426:

    Many of the roads near me are like this. This as about 2 Km from my house.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/Dmk1pWUSjtmPCy3L8

    If there is much traffic these roads slowly widen with each resurfacing until the road reaches the hedge.

    427:

    Oh yes. On our Ireland journey the western side of the country had these only they were 2 lanes. And when the tour buses came by the left side mirror was clipping leaves. You had to not think about that 2" past the leaves was a stone wall.

    428:

    Much what I was thinking; and even the Aberglaslyn pass is pretty mild. It's still an A-road, two lanes wide, even if it is wiggly, and it's more suitable for trucks than some other stretches of A-road in other places that don't have any other route for them to take.

    Indeed, one of the things that I find striking about north Wales is how unexpectedly wide and fast so many of the roads are. Compare Blaenau to Llanberis with Ambleside to Wastwater, which is more the kind of road whitroth's description suggests to me. And then there's the West Country which often takes it further still...

    429:

    Stone walls are OK. They stay where they are and don't move. The problem is the excessive number of people who are too thick to realise that, and think they will jump out and bite you if you get too close. Many of them think even the leaves will do that. So they halt their giant shiny four-wheel-drive Chelsea tractor in the exact centre of the road and sit there going waaiiiighgh while everyone they're holding up wonders why the fuck they paid through the nose for an off-road-capable vehicle in the first place. It's a pity there isn't a way to have these people spend a day strapped into the passenger seat of a local delivery driver's Transit van to see how it should be done.

    430:

    Well, I'm fairly sure that the A470 from Blaenau to Betws-y-coed was improved (widened, straightened) in 1995 - Easter '97.

    431:

    Except everyone is on the wrong side of the road while you're clipping those leaves.

    433:

    Er no. We're on the left side of the road and you're on the wrong side. Having said which, a lot of the roads we're thinking about are 1 to 1.5 vehicles wide, and whilst we usually pass driver's side to driver's side sometimes the other way round makes more sense.

    434:

    David L @ 414:

    So it turns out that a bad experience someone might have had with a tech thing X years ago has probably been resolved....

    Not really. Some high income areas are adamantly opposed to cell towers. Their land lines are just fine, thank you.

    The "pine tree" cell phone tower in Cary, NC:

    https://www.waymarking.com/gallery/image.aspx?f=1&guid=e9fc0403-b47b-4129-980e-1fe035479546&gid=3

    Oh, the irony. Cary is the quintessential "high income area" now, but I remember when it was the place people moved to if they couldn't afford a nice home down in Garner.

    Cary has basically prospered from its propinquity to the Research Triangle Park. If you live in Cary you don't have to sit in rush hour traffic as long to get to & from work (although Davis Drive and NC 54 are almost worse nowadays) ... but you probably won't learn that from Google Maps.

    435:

    This is my local cellphone tower.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/QFFkTtDJVeB6kDip9

    I understand there are lots of churches in high income districts of the USA.

    436:

    timrowledge @ 421: Well, find the correct alternate timeline. There must be a few million where the Glorious British Empire managed to claim the entire world. Hell, there might even be one where Brexit actually went well and didn’t destroy the entire solar system.

    But that aside, isn’t the requirement for “mountain” something like “over 1000ft above local general level”? I’m taking my knowledge here from that most serious of documentaries of the subject, “The Englishman that went up a hill and came down a mountain “

    That's the definition given by Wikipedia:

    A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is larger than a hill, typically rising at least 300 metres (1000 feet) above the surrounding land. A few mountains are isolated summits, but most occur in mountain ranges.

    But some "mountains" seem to be more a courtesy title, than a definitive example. The Uwharrie Mountains near Asheboro, NC are just a bit over 1,100 ft (335 m) (above mean sea level), but that's only about 500 ft (152 m) above the surrounding terrain (and most of them aren't even that much). They're about 40 million years older than the Appalachian Mountains, but they've been "rode hard & put up wet".

    437:

    I'm thinking of it before then, but still as being nearly a motorway compared to something like Hardknott.

    438:

    I understand there are lots of churches in high income districts of the USA.

    The area I was describing is where the last of the landed gentry of the south live. Those who got out of the 1800s still with land and some income. They prize ignoring such things as cell towers.

    I know of one artificial church bell tower near me. Rings out bells through speakers. I understand the church got paid $100K plus monthly rent to allow AT&T or Verizon to put it up. Mostly an open steel frame with no ancient stone. But around here there are enough commercial buildings that they can put a tower or few on top of them to hide them. And lately we've been getting 10 to 20 story buildings a mile or two away and I suspect there are cell antennas all over the top of them. Plus a couple of miles in the other direction our monster water tank has an interesting sprout of antennas on top. I suspect they pay the city a few $$ per month for the access.

    And yes I know the Cary fake pine tree JBS is talking about. On top of a hill where I40 and Harrison Ave meet. It used to stand out as a diseased looking tree. Now those around it have grown to the point is sort of blends in if you're not looking for it. I've seen them in other spots. This one is across the road from SAS (the software company) and I have always wondered if Goodnight owns the dirt and gets to add the rent to his $billions.

    439:

    Mike Collins @ 435: This is my local cellphone tower.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/QFFkTtDJVeB6kDip9

    I understand there are lots of churches in high income districts of the USA.

    That doesn't really represent the kind of NIMBYism that requires a free standing cell tower to be "disguised" as a pine tree.

    We have that kind of "cell tower" here as well. It's just an adaptation to not having anyplace to put up a tower, so the carriers make a deal with the owner of whatever "property" has the necessary elevation. There's cell phone antennas on Christ Episcopal Church's bell tower in Raleigh, NC right across the street from the State Capitol Building. The only thing that surprises me is that they didn't put them up on the Capitol Building itself.

    Whimsical History 101: It's been said that after Sherman's Army marched through Raleigh in the waning days of the American Civil War that the only chicken left in town was the rooster atop the Christ Episcopal Church bell tower (the weather vane).

    Don't know if that's true or not, but what is true is that one of Sherman's soldiers stole North Carolina's original hand written copy of the U.S. Bill of Rights from the State Capitol.

    Without explicit guarantees of individual freedom and protections for individuals against the federal government, North Carolina leaders met in Hillsborough from July 21 to August 4 in 1788 and a majority of them voted against joining the United States.
    However, the Hillsborough Convention did not stop there. The group said it would join the United States if and when a list of rights protecting individual liberties and freedoms was added to the Constitution. The group even made a list of the rights it wanted added and sent them to the other states.
    In just over a year, the Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution and North Carolina quickly ratified it.

    When the Bill of Rights was ratified, George Washington had 14 copies made, one for the U.S. and one for each of the states. I believe North Carolina's copy is one of five remaining originals.

    The FBI recovered the stolen document in a 2003 "sting operation". Another five years of litigation resulted in the document being declared the rightful property of the State of North Carolina and returned.

    440:

    David L @ 438:

    I understand there are lots of churches in high income districts of the USA.

    And yes I know the Cary fake pine tree JBS is talking about. On top of a hill where I40 and Harrison Ave meet. It used to stand out as a diseased looking tree. Now those around it have grown to the point is sort of blends in if you're not looking for it. I've seen them in other spots. This one is across the road from SAS (the software company) and I have always wondered if Goodnight owns the dirt and gets to add the rent to his $billions.

    The thing that amuses me so much about the fake pine tree cell tower in Cary is Cary itself. The fake pine tree is amusing, Cary, how the town has gone from its humble, low-rent origins as Bradford's Ordinary to putting on airs today, is not.

    Cary has a certain reputation among those of us originally from the area. Even though I grew up 25 miles away on the "wrong side of town" in Durham, NC, I still consider myself a Raleigh native.

    See also: poseur - a person who pretends to be what he or she is not: an affected or insincere person.

    441:

    Precisely. And one driver may need to reverse a fsir distance to find a passing place, a field entrance or somewhere else to pull into the side. It's surprising how much of the UK road network is like that, but most people never go on the rural back roads, except occasionally for access.

    442: 437 - So more like the A498 from Capel Curig to Beddgelert circa 1975; About 1.5 lanes hanging off a mountainside. 441 - I used to live in an area where most of the roads are like that. It's surprising how many people in that area are used to looking well down the road, and can reverse at 10 to 15 mph on the mirrors when required.
    443:

    Pigeon & paws have the right comparison ... Hardknott pass in the lake district, which has a pair of 1:3 & 1:4 hairpin bends in close proximity - lookng down

    444:

    "I don't think you understand how it works."

    I do understand how it works. More importantly, I understand 'that' it works, and quite well.

    I have never driven in the UK so cannot speak to your experience there. Here in Canada it has been quite excellent, and continually improving as well (The quality and experience is better now than it was 5 years ago).

    In Greece I think the issue was more in translation than in traffic analysis. The street signs often have varying English spellings of the same streets (translating between alphabets will do that). The guiding voice would sometimes hang up on the street names and resort to spelling them ("In 200 metres, turn right at Alpha Theta Alpha Lambda etc.). Driving in Athens traffic is a high intensity activity at the best of times, and translating/reading Greek on the fly was beyond me. The actual directions on the map function were fine, it just required my copilot to be doing the interpretation, which is not her strong suit.

    445:

    As I said, that was '14, but we were going from Bblanau Ffestinog to Llanberis, and I'm thinking we may have gone up to Snodownia, then back, and throught Pen-y-Pass.

    446:

    Number of coal mining jobs in WV: 30000 (total) Median income WV: $25,300.

    447:

    whitroth @ 397 / 446 & David L @ 424 Everywhere else in Europe, people realise that "Coal" is finished ... Some Australians realise it, even if Morrison doesn't ... how to persuade those in W Virginia that ... no - those jobs will never, ever come back. Come to that, how to persuade people, anywhere, that flying less than 800 - 1000km over land is a non-starter?

    448:

    Great. I agree.

    Manchin is an old school labor/union supported democrat. In the US this has a lot of different baggage than the Liberals the UK. 90% of those in the US moved to Trump in 2016. For whatever reasons (I can guess but it would be a guess) Manchin didn't become an R like the rest of his old school D's.

    So now everyone is surprised that he is walking a line between a vast majority of Trump supporters in his state and the AOC crowd. Incomes don't count. Coal going away doesn't count. These folks would rather be poor than governed by the Maxist, Communist, Liberal AOC crowd. Reality or fiction that is how it is perceived in WV.

    449:

    Even in Australia, polling indicates it's "most" rather than "some".

    60% +-2.5% of Australians agree with the statement: "global warming is a serious and pressing problem…we should begin taking steps now, even if this involves significant costs".

    Which is why the Liberal Party (tories) have gone into full power lying mode. Taking credit for the changes that states and individuals have made to switch to renewables, producing a pamphlet on net zero by 2050 without a single law, regulation, standard, guideline or other action, while maintaining the subsidies and approving new coal mines (3 last week).

    450:

    Charlie, have you tried adding a reflector to shape the signal into that corner? Heavy-duty aluminium foil and something to hold it up behind your router (coat hangar? Duck tape?) is all that's needed.

    451:

    JBS: Suspect I have the same Jeep chassis as your (2006 Jeep Liberty Limited), but the CRD (Diesel). If so, you may find this forum helpful: https://www.jeepkj.com (The diesel is handy here in Portland OR twice over, due to a) cheapness of biodiesel, and b) no gasoline catalytic converter to be stolen, as local thieves have discovered their value.)

    452:

    This is a test of an Emergency Caffeine System. This is only a test.

    http://tinyurl.com/instacoffee

    Had this been an actual Caffeine Emergency, I would pull prefrozen coffee concentrate cubes from a sealed glass jar in the freezer (so, as they slowly sublimate, they don't pick up bad flavor) and add to boiling water. This has been a test of an Emergency Caffeine System.

    453:

    Meanwhile, in the US: Most port drivers are ‘independent contractors’, leased onto a trucking co. paid per load. Whether a load takes 2 hrs, 14 hrs, or 3 days to complete, they're paid the same, and they have to pay 90% of truck operating expenses (the carrier might pay the other 10%, but usually less). Rates paid to non-union drivers for shipping containers are usually extremely low. In most cases, drivers don’t come close to union wages, pay for all repairs and fuel, and all truck related expenses. I honestly don’t understand how many of them can even afford to show up for work. There’s no guarantee of ANY wage (not even minimum wage), and in many cases, drivers make far below minimum wage. In some cases they work 70 hour weeks and still end up owing money to their carrier. So when coastal ports clogged up last spring due to COVID impacts on business everywhere, drivers stopped showing up. Congestion got so bad that instead of being able to do 3 loads a day, they could only do one. They took a 2/3 pay cut and most of these drivers were working 12 hours a day or more. While carriers were charging higher pandemic shipping rates, none of those increases went to drivers. Many drivers simply quit. While container pickup rates severely dropped, they were still being offloaded from ships. Many trucking companies won’t even go for port business because even an unusually speedy trip in and out of a port is still very time consuming. Drivers must queue three times: At the entrance, for the container pickup, and the exit. These lines are typically bad because ports can’t be bothered to have enough staff. https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/11/why-the-us-supply-chain-crisis-is-intractable-and-will-get-worse.html

    454:

    And of course now the drivers join and form unions to be able to negotiate better, and the companies realize that they can't survive on squeezing the last drop from the workers, right?

    Right?

    Even here, many people do not like unions and think they are useless or even malicious. Still, they like two-day weekends, and other assorted benefits the unions have negotiated. The people who have those, that is - "self-employed in food delivery, paid by a big company with few benefits" is a quite common job here, too. Unions, not that keen on those kinds of jobs, though yesterday there was a decision that one food-delivery company employs its delivery personnel instead of just hiring independent contractors. There's still courts which that decision will most likely go, but hey.

    Obviously the delivery company's software developers and other people are regular employees, it's just the delivery people who get the short end of the stick.

    455:

    Though yes, the problem is more complicated. Or not, it's just infrastructure as profit generation is showing how bad it is for an idea, especially in a crisis. (In short, the companies in the middle of this mess don't want to do anything as they can profit more from delays than making stuff move.)

    456:

    kiloseven Ah, the grind-your-face exploiters have screwed themselves, yes? A quote from "London Reconnections" on that topic: Indeed one could argue that the most effective Turing Test in the world right now would be to ask a computer to successfully operate (in every sense of that word) a Metropolitan line train. It may well happen one day, but unfortunately at that point the first thing the now-sentient AI will likely do on completion of its first shift is go join a union.

    457:

    In the US this has a lot of different baggage than the Liberals the UK.

    Eh?

    In the UK the Liberals were never union/old school labour supported -- they were free-trade imperialists! It's where Winston Churchill started out.

    The labour movement in the UK formed its own political party,the Labour Party, who were members of the socialist international. (Not communists: the communists and democratic socialist parties hated one another -- the communists thought the other bunch were traitors).

    A chunk of the current woes of British politics can be traced to Margaret Thatcher's vicious war on the unions in the 1970s-1980s, and then on Labour's subsequent triangulation to the right in the 90s (mimicking Bill Clinton). It left a Labour party that had shucked both its mass base of popular support and its ideology and had no idea what it really stood for any more.

    458:

    Thatcher was helped, yes helped ... by some "union" stupidity. Not just Scargill, who was about as progressive as the W Virginia miners, today, but by rejecting Ted Heath's sensible reforms, thus getting Maggie, who then proceeded to stamp on them. Corbyn is in this mould ... he encourages a shift towards fascism by his inability to learn - anything. The whole thing is a tragedy.

    459:

    In the UK the Liberals were never union/old school labour supported -- they were free-trade imperialists!

    Sorry. It's hard for me to keep the names of the parties straight in the UK and Oz. They seem to have policies that are the opposite of the common usage of their names as verbs/nouns.

    460:

    They seem to have policies that are the opposite of the common usage of their names as verbs/nouns.

    That is generally the case everywhere. (The Conservatives these days are a radical populist party embarked on a quasi-utopian program of disrupting existing structures -- Jacobinism, Edmund Burke would have called it. Similarly, look at the way the US Republicans and Democrats have largely flipped over the past 60 years.)

    461:

    The same is true for the Democrats in the U.S. One of the things they need to do very badly in the U.S. is to fight corruption, both of the Republican variety and white-collar crime in general, and they're not doing any of that. If we lose our democracy in the next 10-15 years it will be because the modern Democrats never learned how to fight.

    462:

    Here's someone who agrees with you.

    A long term hard core R. The trick is to get from here to 10-15 years from now.

    https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/623807/it-was-all-a-lie-by-stuart-stevens/

    463:

    Publishing industry question for Charlie.

    Looks like the US Justice Department sues to stop Penguin Random House's purchase of Simon & Schuster.

    I'm guessing you might think this stopping is a good thing?

    464:

    The attack on labor (and labour) was set up right after WWII. My father told me that there had been talk about going after the Soviet Union - like after WWI - but the troops wanted to go home, and there were apparently several riots(?).

    Which, to me, seems to be where the "Iron Curtain" came in - never mind how hard the was had been on the USSR, they were taking over.

    Then Korea. Then, in the US, Sen. Joe McCarthy, which was when the socialists in US unions were chased out, or had to hide (like my father).

    465:

    Charlie It's worse than that: It's a deliberate ongoing attempt, using existing structures to change everything in favour of corporates, whilst pretending that the "volk" support them. The exterior is almost as before, but underneath it's entirely different, & completely subverted to the new block's ends. The word is not Jacobinism, but: Fascism.

    whitroth Yes ... but ... Poland, Czech, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria - all semi-swallowed as not even "client" but completely subservient states to the will of J Stalin, with serious attempts to take over both Greece & France. The Chinese/N started it off in Korea. McCarthy corruptly used all this for personal aggrandisment, as well as persecuting anyone seen as "on the left" - a status still to be seen in the USA, where Social Democracy is decried as "Commonism". For instance: "AOC" is about as dangerously left-wing as my current MP

    466:

    My father told me that there had been talk about going after the Soviet Union - like after WWI

    Most of the generals from Marshall on down knew they would get their butts whipped if they went after the Soviets. The allies were totally out manned and to some degree out gunned. And their "public" no where near ready to accept the losses that the Soviets would tolerate.

    On top of the sentiment back home that just wanted it over.

    This sentiment was one reason they dropped the "bomb" on Japan. These same generals and most politicians in the administration fell the US public would not support another 1 or 2 of the fighting (and losses) needed to subdue Japan via conventional means.

    The US public, who was something like over 70% isolationist before Pearl Harbor, just wanted it OVER.

    467:

    Might want to check out Jonathan Haslam's The Spectre of War: International Communism and the Origins of World War II. Haven't read it, but his thesis seems to be that the west leaned more fascistic purportedly due to a capitalist fear of communism taking over globally. They didn't realize until far too late that fascism is just as bad, if not worse.

    468:

    The US public, who was something like over 70% isolationist before Pearl Harbor, just wanted it OVER.

    In July 1945 (per Downfall), the US was polling about 25% in favor of NOT invading Japan, but negotiating an armstice instead. That wasn't really about isolationism, but rather about everyone knowing it would be a horribly bloody affair (cf: Iwo Jima, Okinawa, etc). The Imperial Japanese strategy at that point agreed: they wanted to have so many people killed on both sides during the invasion that the (weakling) Americans didn't carry it through to the end but negotiated an armistice, thereby preserving the emperor on his little throne. Still makes me sick.

    Nuking Japan by surprise led to a quick surrender, and probably on net killed fewer people than either a conventional invasion or a negotiated surrender. In the last case, probably we would have seen a US/Soviet war, in Korea and/or Japan, where nukes were deployed by both sides because the politicians didn't really know how damaging they are.

    The irony is MacArthur quickly rehabilitated the Japanese Imperial family, because he was concerned about rising communist protests in the streets of post-war Japan... That whole thing about fascism being less scary to capitalists was relevant too.

    469:

    Looks like the US Justice Department sues to stop Penguin Random House's purchase of Simon & Schuster.

    My considered response to this lawsuit: YAY!!!. Here's hoping the DoJ wins. The Penguin-Random House merger was painful enough as it was; throw S&S into the mix and it comes perilously close to owning more than 50% of the publishing industry in the US, giving them monopsony buying power over authors (and the only other game in town -- self-pub via Amazon -- is, as the DoJ point to in S&S's own papers, not a viable threat to the merged giant's control over the market).

    470:

    Talk of going after the USSR in 1945 was basically hot air.

    The USSR contributed about 70% of the troops involved in invading the Third Reich. The USA's involvement on that front was a side-show. The UK was tapped out -- by January 1945 there were no uncommitted British reserves and by August the nation was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Atom bomb production, at one critical mass per month, would not have nudged the dial.

    Meanwhile ... go look at the Manchuko campaign that kicked off the day after Hiroshima was nuked and ran for a mere 11 days for some idea of what the Red Army was capable of by then: a double pincer movement over an area the size of the entire Western European theatre of World War II, in the face of the Japanese army, advancing about 300-500km in the face of the enemy.

    Admittedly by that point the Japanese army were well behind the condition of the Allied forces in western Europe, but? Going after the Soviets under such conditions -- and remember, they had something north of 10 million troops in Europe by then, experienced veteran troops -- was basically General Patton smoking crack, not a realistic proposal.

    471:

    Nuking Japan by surprise led to a quick surrender, and probably on net killed fewer people than either a conventional invasion or a negotiated surrender.

    The US military is still handing out the stockpile of Purple Hearts they minted for Operation Downfall. The stockpile -- fortunately not needed -- is still well-stocked despite the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq Invasion, and Afghan Occupation, and sundry smaller conflicts in the meantime.

    Downfall was expected to cost close to a million US lives -- and ten or twenty times that many Japanese. The A-bombings were horrendous but dwindle into insignificance in comparison to how much worse things might have been.

    472:

    I don't think Patton smoking crack, I think the GOP and the corporate Western world thinking "this is a good time, while they're still beat down from the Nazis".

    Of course it was stupid, but look, since they didn't, it's taken all that time since then to get here, with the USSR gone and unions crushed. I mean, think of all the ROI they didn't make, that was wasted on taxes....

    473:

    I don't remember why the word "trainspotting" came into my view last week, but I looked up the film in Wikipedia and wondered why?

    The plot summary doesn't mention any of the characters engaging in that actual activity. Am I missing something?

    474:

    kiloseven @ 451: JBS: Suspect I have the same Jeep chassis as your (2006 Jeep Liberty Limited), but the CRD (Diesel). If so, you may find this forum helpful: https://www.jeepkj.com (The diesel is handy here in Portland OR twice over, due to a) cheapness of biodiesel, and b) no gasoline catalytic converter to be stolen, as local thieves have discovered their value.)

    I've been there a time or two to see if other owners had already solved a problem I was having. I may even have an account so I can post a comment. I did already have it bookmarked.

    If you've had the apparently common problem with the tail lights burning out frequently (like within 24 hours of installing new lamps) I found a solution for that.

    I got a warning ticket for having no tail lights & no brake lights coming home from the beach last spring (I go down there to photograph wild horses when I can). Took it in to the shop to have the wiring checked and got them fixed (along with an oil change & tire rotation) and the very next day I noticed one of them was already burned out.

    I went online and found LED tail light assemblies that are an exact retro-fit and plug straight into wiring harness. The place I got them from is called CarID, but I'm pretty sure you can find them on "Big River". The only tool required was a T-15 Torx.

    475:

    kiloseven @ 452: This is a test of an Emergency Caffeine System. This is only a test.

    http://tinyurl.com/instacoffee

    "Had this been an actual Caffeine Emergency, I would pull prefrozen coffee concentrate cubes from a sealed glass jar in the freezer (so, as they slowly sublimate, they don't pick up bad flavor) and add to boiling water.
    This has been a test of an Emergency Caffeine System.

    How do you make the coffee concentrate that you're freezing?

    476:

    Mikko Parviainen (he/him) @ 454: And of course now the drivers join and form unions to be able to negotiate better, and the companies realize that they can't survive on squeezing the last drop from the workers, right?

    Right

    Yeah ... uh ... NO.

    There's community colleges & other schools churning out new CDL drivers all the time. The "independent contractor" drivers go broke, lose their truck (and if they're lucky DON'T lose their home) and the Trucking Company just hires a recent graduate from one of those aforementioned CDL courses.

    477:

    Charlie Stross @ 457:

    In the US this has a lot of different baggage than the Liberals the UK.

    Eh?

    In the UK the Liberals were never union/old school labour supported -- they were free-trade imperialists! It's where Winston Churchill started out.

    I think he meant small 'l' "liberals" rather than the specific U.K. political party.

    In the U.S. "liberal" is "a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law." AND "Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), democracy, secularism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and a market economy".1 But there doesn't appear to be a U.S. political party by that name.

    Also social safety nets, publicly supported non-secular education and a right to free association.

    1 Liberals do not support dog-eat-dog laissez-faire Free Markets. They recognize that "a market economy" should be regulated so that it doesn't rapidly devolve into Oligarchy or Monopoly and doesn't destroy all those other rights & freedoms liberals believe in.

    478:

    For some reason Amazon refuse to deliver the hardback to the local Amazon hub robot locker thingy. How heavy is this tome? As I prefer not to risk the package being delivered to my wheelie bin when I'm out, I pre-ordered from Waterstones instead. That'll show'em

    479:

    Heteromeles @ 468: Nuking Japan by surprise led to a quick surrender, and probably on net killed fewer people than either a conventional invasion or a negotiated surrender. In the last case, probably we would have seen a US/Soviet war, in Korea and/or Japan, where nukes were deployed by both sides because the politicians didn't really know how damaging they are.

    Depends, I think, on how soon the war came. The Soviets didn't actually begin work on an atomic bomb until after Hiroshima. Most of their nuclear research was suspended after the Germans invaded in 1941, and they only began a crash program to develop the weapon in 1946 with the design of the actual physical package aided somewhat by the Atomic Spies.

    They'd have got there anyway without that help, but it enabled them to short-cut a lot of the design phase. They got the bomb in 3 years. Without the Atomic Spies information it could have probably taken them 5 or 6 years.

    But I think it's impossible to say how urgently the Soviets would have begun developing a nuclear weapon without the demonstration provided by the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. So, it's 3 to 6 years after Stalin decided to allow them to begin work on an atomic bomb.

    When would he have done that; would he EVER have done that without the nudge Hiroshima & Nagasaki provided?

    Further, I can't see the Soviets attempting to invade Japan. It would require a seaborne invasion larger than the D-DAY landings at Normandy and the WW2 landings in North Africa, Sicily & Italy combined - something they had no experience with, and that's not even considering Japanese resistance to those landings. Despite losing the war, Japan had a great deal of experience resisting amphibious operations.

    And Japan would have been in much better position to resist if the war in the Pacific had ended with a negotiated armistice. Even an occupied Japan would have been in a stronger position to resist a Soviet invasion.

    The Soviets were "hell on wheels" once they got rolling, but consider their capabilities at the beginning of the 1941 German invasion. They'd have been in the same place trying to mount an amphibious operation against Japan.

    480:

    Going after the Soviets under such conditions -- and remember, they had something north of 10 million troops in Europe by then, experienced veteran troops -- was basically General Patton smoking crack, not a realistic proposal.

    At the end of World War II the Red Army had over 500 rifle divisions and about a tenth that number of tank formations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Army#After_World_War_II

    The US never even got to 100 army divisions during the way. Total.

    I agree. Patton was a good tank general at a tactical level. Maybe one of the best. But he tended to think he could walk on water against anyone.

    I wonder if he and MacArthur were ever in the same room. Or as a friend talked about a demo once at a major US tech company, "I'm not sure we can find a big enough room to fit all the egos."

    481:

    Liberals do not support dog-eat-dog laissez-faire Free Markets. They recognize that "a market economy" should be regulated

    I think most liberals recognise that "free markets" are constructed by governments and without them quickly become unfree markets. Which obviously suits the people who control those markets, as we see from the whining whenever governments propose to create free markets. Especially if it's done by turning an existing monopoly or monopsony into a free market.

    482:

    I think it's impossible to say how urgently the Soviets would have begun developing a nuclear weapon without the demonstration provided by the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

    Gunna guess that a demonstration on Soviet soil would have accellerrated the process significantly. The US wasn't in a position to nuke the Soviets into submission so the question would be whether they could do enough damage, quickly enough, to prevent the Soviets retaliating. Either in kind, or "just" by spreading their forces out... all over Europe... so the US couldn't destroy them all in one hit. The idea of a war of attrition between US and Soviet forces taking place in Europe doesn't really bear thinking about. Especially if the US started nuking places in Europe that had concentrations of Soviet forces. That's the sort of horror story that even John Birmingham hasn't let escape.

    483:

    The Chinese/N started it off in Korea.

    The Koreans started it off in Korea. Ostensibly a surprise invasion by the North, but the South had been threatening invasion of the North (so much so that America cut military aid like tanks). 10,000 Korean soldiers were killed in border skirmishes before the North invaded, with both sides crossing the border.

    https://koreanwarlegacy.org/chapters/multiple-perspectives-on-the-korean-war/

    Syngman Rhee was by most accounts a fairly nasty dictator himself, and South Korea spent over four decades after WWII as a dictatorship. (Something that has apparently been erased from many American history textbooks, judging by the number of lesson plans I find online from history teachers.)

    484:

    It's from a section in the novel where Begbie and Renton are talking to an old drunk at a railway station who turns out to be Begbie's dad. He asks if they are there to do some trainspotting.

    485:

    In the U.S. "liberal" is "a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law."

    Which explains why "liberal" has become a curse-word among such a large subset of your countrymen…

    486:

    As I prefer not to risk the package being delivered to my wheelie bin when I'm out

    You've had that problem with courier drivers too?

    I had one decide that the best place to conceal my packages was on top of my (lidless) blue bin, which was full of cardboard and other recycling. I very nearly carried it out to the curb the next morning without noticing the parcel there…

    When I called UPS to complain, I was informed that their drivers used their training and judgement to select the safest place to leave packages, and that they stood behind their drivers' decisions, then they hung up.

    I have refused to trust UPS ever since…

    487:

    That's the sort of horror story that even John Birmingham hasn't let escape.

    Harry Turtledove's Hot War trilogy plays with the idea. What if Macarthur had convinced Truman to use an atomic bomb in the Korean War, and then things escalate from there.

    A fair bit of European architectural history gets melted…

    488:

    The "Grab a phrase from your book to use as the title" school of book naming. My current effort was called "The Enemy of Her Desire" which came from the text, but now it's called "House of Scars."

    489:

    I should add, by the way, "House of Scars" thanks to an intelligent observation from whitroth, who's read the book.

    490:

    South Korea spent over four decades after WWII as a dictatorship. (Something that has apparently been erased from many American history textbooks,

    It showed up in the news as various things happened.

    I graduated from high school in the US in 72. I and most of my contemporaries who cared knew it. Most folks don't give a damn about history so factor that in.

    Also for my generation we all knew the details of WWII from the movies. So 1945 to "current" was mostly covered in a sprint the last week or two of school in the years we studied US or world history.

    491:

    I have refused to trust UPS ever since…

    I think you're Canadian.

    In the early 80s when I visited our Canadian office on a regular basis there was an afternoon ritual where people from the 5 to 10 offices in the building would get together and trade mail. When I asked why the response was to get the mail to who it was addressed. I asked why the postal service didn't do that. Their answer was: "When we complained the delivery person said that was the sorters job back in the main office. His was to deliver it as sorted."

    [eyeroll]

    492:

    A request for a search help.

    Back on this blog post: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/04/on-the-uk-and-nuclear-disarmam.html I wrote on comment # 295 that someone had commented previously about the bomb production rate for nuclear weapons after August 1945. It was reported as one every 10 days or so.

    The previous comment on a different post provided a link to declassified images of memos stating this. I can't find that post, comment, or link.

    Anyone better at searching than me?

    I understand this is discussed in the book "The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation" but I don't have it and don't want to buy it just to get this tidbit. (Selfish I know.)

    TIA

    493:

    Further, I can't see the Soviets attempting to invade Japan. It would require a seaborne invasion larger than the D-DAY landings at Normandy and the WW2 landings in North Africa, Sicily & Italy combined - something they had no experience with, and that's not even considering Japanese resistance to those landings. Despite losing the war, Japan had a great deal of experience resisting amphibious operations.

    I actually agree with you about the development of nuclear weapons, but I suspect that the soviets would have had them by the 1950s.

    As for the rest, I've got to correct your history a little. Hope you don't mind.

    The Soviets did invade Japan on August 11, 1945, following plans laid at the Yalta Conference. At that point, what is now Sakhalin Island became entirely Soviet again (it's geologically the northernmost island in Japan but it's historically been a football between Russia, Japan, and even China). The Soviets were to work their way south down Japan, conquering Hokkaido and Honshu, while the Americans would invade Kyushu and head north.

    Would it have worked? Probably, although the Americans would have paid the balance of the butcher's bill. Kyushu is much more built up than Hokkaido, after all. And, as with Berlin, there would be a race to see who got to Tokyo first.

    The other thing to realize is that the nuclear blasts only accounted for about 25% of the air power deaths in Japan. The rest came from the US firebombing campaign. Japan in August 1945 was in horrible shape. Most of the factories had been bombed, and since these were in the middle of highly flammable residential districts (to the point where people had lathes in their homes) those were gone too, from fire bombing. All the interisland railroad links had been bombed, all the harbors had been mined. The Japanese were preparing to fight with kamikaze everything, knives on broomsticks, single-shot zip guns churned out for civilians, and the like. The point of that war was, as on Okinawa, to just make the death toll unbearably high for Americans. I'm not sure it would have stopped the Americans, or the Soviets, either.

    So what would have happened? The plan was called Operation Downfall, and you can read about it at great length if you want to. Nukes were not part of Downfall, but an option to preempt it. Once the nukes fell and Japan surrendered, a version of Downfall was used on the Korean peninsula, which was divided at the modern DMZ by Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel, two American officers. Prior to the US invading southern Korea, American did basically diddly to support the cause of Korean independence, unlike the communist Chinese and Soviets, who gave aid and shelter to the Korean communist guerillas. Without the US stepping in in 1945, the Korean peninsula would almost certainly have gone entirely communist very rapidly, because up to that point the commies were the only people aiding the Koreans in fighting the Japanese army, however badly they did it.

    So long story short, if the nukes had failed and the US and USSR went through with Downfall, Japan would almost certainly have ended up divided, with a communist north and a capitalist south, a la Germany or Korea in our timeline. Which side of the border Tokyo would end up on is one of those interesting questions. Korea would have gone communist without a struggle.

    That would have focused quite a lot of attention on southern Japan, almost certainly leading to war in the late 1940s or early 1950s (cf Korea, again). At this point, we disagree about how many nukes would have been used and quite rightly, but it would have been a bloody mess to dwarf the Korean War either way, because Japan is bigger and more industrialized than Korea. Worse, the US forces would have been caught in a pincer in southern Japan, with communists attacking south across the border and east from Busan in Korea (it's 180 km from Busan to Fukuoka, with Tsushima island in the middle). That's why I'm guessing it would have gone nuclear. Fortunately, none of this happened.

    Long story why I know all this, but I was looking at the end of WW2 for a project is the short answer.

    494:

    Did it backwards; found the documents (google: atomic "bombs per month" 1945 ), then found the ref in this site's archives[1] This document: https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB162/72.pdf "So you can figure on three a month with a possibility of a fourth one. If you get the fourth one, you won't get it next month" And also other stuff at that tree. (e.g. https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/ )

    and this one: http://www.dannen.com/decision/bomb-rate.html Page 2 section 4

    [1] http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2011/06/obsolete-existential-threats-1.html#comment-160857

    495:

    Thanks

    I've come to the conclusion that my idea of key works doesn't match most people. "bombs per month" wasn't a choice in my brain. And none of my choices came close.

    496:

    And, as with Berlin, there would be a race to see who got to Tokyo first.

    This gets back to Marshal's feelings and that of most of the upper (now) Truman administration.

    The public would support the initial invasion. But a slog of a year or more north through Japan proper might not go over. From the public's point of view most of WWII occurred between June 1944 and April 1945. With casualty numbers that would seem trivial compared to this next step.

    The US might have just stopped after one major island and let the USSR fight their way south due to political pressure from the home front.

    497:

    Rbt Prior Oops, yes, Kim Il-Sung kicked it off ... And yes, Rhee was so "disliked" by the US top brass, that they co