Showing posts with label the history of the world. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the history of the world. Show all posts

Friday, February 23, 2024

The History of the World (Condensed), Ch. 7

How we got so rich
Image by JJ Jordan from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

History is a set of lies agreed upon." -Napoleon Bonaparte

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

This is a looong chapter. 

For the record, I've been told by people whose opinion I trust that my columns should be shorter... or longer... or that I should start a podcast or make YouTube videos since nobody reads anymore and I'm wasting my time. Or that...

Well, I'm stickin' with writing columns that are roughly 750 to 1,000 words (not this time though) and have no plans to change since I've reached a point where I'm pretty sure I'll not make any money for my efforts no matter which direction I take so I write to please myself and my biggest fan, my big brother Ed, while I'm waiting to wake up dead. 

Theo was to Vincent as Ed has often been to me.

This is why I've abandoned all the various and sundry ways that exist to "monetize" my work, none of which have gone anywhere. I write for me, Ed, Arletta, and anyone else out there who might enjoy my work and the slight chance the Stickies will benefit from it. 

That said, Chapter 7 is the longest one yet. If you'd like to save some time and get on with your day permit me to summarize: A democratic republic and a more or less free market have made us a very rich and more or less free country.   

Macroeconomists, like all social scientists, are much better at explaining things (or at least trying to) afterward than at making predictions. Why? Variables. Just like your favorite weatherperson, they have to deal with myriad known unknowns, not to mention the unknown unknowns. 

That is to say, they try to make predictions about systems that are so complex in nature that an educated guess is as good as it gets.

This is why a minimally regulated market works better than a highly regulated market. This is why when you go to the supermarket most of the thousands of competitively priced products they carry are usually in stock — literally millions of specialists pursuing their own self-interest and freely trading with each other. 

This is why communism and strict versions of socialism don't work, it's physically impossible for politicians and bureaucrats to efficiently do what the market does effortlessly, and if we’re truly free, we’re free to trade. Common sense suggests that both sides in a given transaction are getting something they want out of it or it wouldn’t happen. 

Life on Earth is what it is in spite of what we would like it to be. There’s no guarantee the result of a given transaction is going to be completely fair and equitable for both sides. Let the buyer beware, but let the buyer buy —if they want to. Prosecute the weasels, enforce the contracts, read Consumer Reports and ask Dad, Mum, or your Dutch uncle what they think. 

Then secure your _____ and jump.

You’ll win some, you’ll lose some, and some will have mixed results. Take comfort in the fact that when you win one the other side may hate and resent you, or at least be thoroughly depressed, often without even having ever actually met you. The entrepreneur that went bankrupt because you didn’t think their world-changing product or concept was worth your money comes to mind. 

There are no unemployment checks for failed entrepreneurs. 

Of course, if you fail on a large enough scale The Fedrl Gummit may step in and save your bum. And that’s not fair — unless of course, your job or business is on the line. But that’s not how it’s supposed to work, and you can’t count on it.

Adam Smith said, “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.”

In other words, the cut-throat competition in the marketplace usually ensures that the customer wins. The hooge-honking downside is that any given producer — including owners, management, and labor — is subject to being destroyed by its competition.

“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups,” -Henry Hazlitt. Notice the use of the word art, not science.

{Oh yeah,? Well, that’s all well and good but NAFTA screwed everything up and now they want...}

Whoa there cowboyperson, obviously anyone who lost a job because of NAFTA may understandably be reconsidering not only the wisdom of free trade agreements but capitalism in general. This was probably on their minds while they were driving to job interviews in their "American" made car that’s chock full of parts manufactured all over the globe (as practically everything is).

Yes, people lose jobs when a trade agreement is implemented and/or a tariff is eliminated. Other jobs are created or expanded, but unfortunately, this is virtually impossible to document with anything resembling precision, which is why both sides can plausibly argue their position. 

Economists disagree on all sorts of things but most agree that free trade will, overall, generate at least as many jobs in a given country as it erases. Also, the consumer (that is, everyone) almost always wins. The producers (and by extension, their employees) may win or lose. We all want good, secure jobs. But we also all want lots of food, toys, and fun — for which we wish to pay as little as possible.

Finally, the Reality Checks, Caveats & Premises department has it on good authority that the global economy is a fact, not a possibility. Adapt or get run over like a cute little bunny that’s incapable of grasping the potential impact of an 18-wheeler passing through the neighborhood.

After WW2 ended America was the beneficiary of a boom that lasted for roughly 35 years during which you could drop out of school and still get a job that would provide a good living, and maybe even a pension. The rest of the world, having been more or less trashed by WW2, watched and learned.

This was a sort of temporary golden age that hadn't been the case before the war and hasn't been since.

More than a few of our fellow Earthlings thought they might also enjoy eating regularly and being able to seal the couch in plastic to keep it nice. Liberty might be nice too but that proved to be a lot harder and much more complicated. Life on Earth being what it is, instead of what we would like it to be (a phrase that bears repeating), there are always gonna be bullies that embrace their inner chimpanzee — and bullies need victims.

Nowadays, the US buys more stuff from the rest of the world than it sells to the rest of the world, but it exports more services than it imports. As of 2022, if you add total imports to total exports you discover that the total is almost $4,000,000,000,000. As of 2022, the GDP of the USA was $25,462,700,000,000. 

We're talkin' trillions, with a t, dude.

Our 35-year-old bubble of prosperity hasn't so much popped as gotten comparatively smaller, so far at least, because the rest of the world is blowing its own bubbles. We export more than we ever have in terms of dollar value even allowing for inflation and because of productivity gains we can do this with far fewer people than would have been needed in the past.

Our GDP would be even higher, but we're simultaneously dealing with labor shortages in certain industries and people dropping out of the workforce. As to exactly why the economists (of course) disagree. My guess is as good as yours, in fact, yours may be better.

Ever wonder if all those um... "undocumented" refugees fleeing political and economic corruption in certain politically and economically challenged countries south of the Rio Grande are responsible for certain other people's wages being lower than they might otherwise be?

Ever wonder if all those women who have flooded into the workplace since the women's liberation movement hit its stride are responsible for depressing wages for everyone who hasn't disproportionately benefited from a truly global economy?

I do, but I have no idea. Believe it or not, the experts don't agree on that either. Shocking, I know. Consult the worldwide web of all knowledge to find the answer you prefer.

And if that ain’t bad/confusing enough, now we have to deal with a communication/high-tech revolution. It’s like the industrial revolution on steroids (and there still isn’t much work for buggy whip makers) in that the rules of the game keep changing and nobody on the rules committee has a clue what the final draft is going to be.

And if that ain’t bad enough it turns out there is no rules committee, there are just H. sapiens hoping it all works out somehow, and that civilization-ending-sized asteroids keep missing the mother ship. 

It may be the best of times, but it might be the worst of times. As noted, not even the "experts" can be relied upon to accurately tell us what's next. Also, they’re acutely aware that throwing the wrong economic lever at the wrong time, considering how complex and interconnected the global economy is, can easily set off a cascade of unexpected and unwelcome consequences.

(To be continued...)   

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Scroll down if you wish to share my work or access my golden oldies.   

I post links to my columns (and other stuff) on Facebook so that you can love me, hate me, or lobby to have me publicly flogged.  

{With a buggy whip?}

Friday, February 2, 2024

The History of the World (condensed), Ch. 5

The United States and modern economics both began in the same year. 

Image by JJ Jordan from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"History becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." 
                                                                                          -H.G. Wells

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

In the year 1776, after a coupla hundred thousand years of just scraping by and occasionally killing each other while simultaneously trying to avoid being killed by a somewhat bloodthirsty Mother Nature, some H. sapiens launched the American experiment and a Mr. Smith published a book. 

Adam Smith was, and is, a well-regarded absent-minded professor with a first-rate mind. He gave up his day job as a popular professor at Glasgow University in 1764, to tutor and travel with a young Scottish nobleman (road trip!). 

They spent a couple of years touring continental Europe and met several leading thinkers of the day (e.g. Benjamin Franklin) and Mr. Smith was given a life pension by the grateful nobleman that enabled him to spend the next ten years or so working on his magnum opus, “An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.”

In other words, he set out to discover the best policies a given nation should pursue so that everyone could make a buck.

Warning: do not try to read The Wealth of Nations unless you enjoy the writing style of 18th-century academics (I’m thinking this is a relatively small group of people) and you’re much smarter and more patient than I am (I’m thinking this is a relatively large group of people). 

The commas and semicolons seemingly reproduce themselves as you try and decipher the text. Find a commentator that you trust to render Mr. Smith’s ideas into modern English.

In Mr. Smith’s defense, it ain’t easy to be one of the founders of a field of study (modern economics). Also, I must warn any kneejerk anti-capitalists that beating up on Mr. Smith because you think he was just another greed-head will make you look goofy as he’s well known for his belief that accumulating wealth and material goods won’t make you happy.

Besides inventing modern economics, he also explored morality and ethics. He wrote a book titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments that is still highly regarded. Incidentally, both it and The Wealth of Nations were best sellers in their day and literally changed the world.  

Adam Smith wanted to figure out what the optimal system was for a free people to attain whatever level of economic security they thought was necessary and appropriate to keep the wolf from the door. He also warned the world about crony capitalism and rent-seeking, two of the monsters currently attempting to strangle America to death. 

Although he was financially quite successful, he quietly and discreetly gave away most of his money and lived simply. I highly recommend P.J. O’Rourke’s, "On The Wealth of Nations”. Mr. O’Rourke was not an economist, which is not necessarily a bad thing. He was, however, very smart, very funny, and lived in the real world. I highly recommend any of his books, essays, and articles.

“Economic progress depends upon a trinity of individual prerogatives: pursuit of self-interest, division of labor, and freedom of trade,” says O’Rourke, stating the fundamentals of Smith’s thought. 

{That’s it? That’s all it takes for a country to be prosperous? Everdamnbody? I find that hard to believe.} 

Well, more or less, Dana The rule of law is also an essential component if you think that it’s important that everdamnbody should have to play by the same rules and that cheats and bullies should be spanked.  

Disclaimer: I’m a former, unapologetic, unrepentant wild-eyed free marketeer and libertarian who seems to be getting more and more conservative and nationalistic with each passing year in an effort to figure out how to mitigate the negative impacts of the global economy on my fellow Deplorables. 

However, capitalism has provided us with a level of prosperity that almost everyone who lived prior to about 1850 or so could only dream of. So I strongly disagree with the tendency of well-meaning (or otherwise) progressives, socialists, and communists to frequently use the word capitalist as an epithet. 

I describe myself as a sorta/kinda or bleeding heart libertarian (BHL), primarily because I’m all for the rationally designed safety net I mentioned earlier. Many libertarians think that’s wrong-headed or impossible. 

Also, there are political philosophers loose in the world who promote something they call BHL but some use terms like social justice and anti-racism, words, and concepts, that as currently defined by many, I have significant problems with. 

{What's that got to do with the history of the world?}

I guess it's a highly opinionated history of the word given the next three paragraphs. 

Communism, in spite of its adherent's claim that it would work if ever done properly, is an obvious dead end, often literally, as the 80 to 100 million bodies piled up in the last century in its name would seem to indicate. 

Socialism is a great idea, all we have to do is change human nature first and lock up all the screwballs like me that are obsessed with personal freedom. Progressivism and/or democratic socialism, or how to have your cake and eat it tooism, is the current flavor of the month for the Utopianists of the world. 

Many people want the benefits of a free market combined with a big, juicy welfare state with millions of rules and unionized bureaucrats, but someone else, preferably the evil rich, should pay the bill. Unfortunately, there just aren't nearly enough of them.

Back to Adam Smith. Smith’s work contradicted a widely held belief of his time, mercantilism. This is the belief that a nation’s wealth is determined by how much gold, silver, cash, ginormous TVs, etc. it can accumulate, after all, there’s only so much wealth to go around, right?

Therefore, you should export for the cash and block, or at least penalize, imports. This view of the world, which currently is enjoying a comeback, leads otherwise clear-thinking people to believe in the Boarding House Pie Fallacy.  

Say you're living in a boarding house (look it up, kids). It’s dinner time and Mrs. McGillicuddy is serving up her famous caramel-apple pie for dessert. Since there’s only so much pie to go around, and fat Freddie's at the table, it behooves everyone to employ a strategery that will ensure an equitable portion of pie. 

Mr. Smith (no relation to the Mrs. Smith of Mrs. Smith's Pies) contends that boarding house wisdom has limited applicability. 

There’s an easier and much more effective way to get what you want — that has the added benefit of not having to impose high tariffs (which begat high prices) and over-regulate anyone — the pursuit of self-interest, division of labor, and freedom of trade. Skilfully employed, these three ensure that everyone can have their own pie. 

Stay tuned.

(To be continued...)

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Scroll down if you wish to share my work or access my golden oldies.   

I post links to my columns (and other stuff) on Facebook so that you can love me, hate me, or lobby to have me publically flogged.

Friday, January 26, 2024

The History of the World (Condensed), Ch. 4

Image by JJ Jordan from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And it comes with the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke 

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

Chapter two ended with "And then, in 1776, the planet Earth finally caught a break" but chapter three began with <INSERT THE SOUND OF SCREAMING TIRES IN A PANIC STOP HERE>. I clarified that the end of history hadn't been reached, heaven hadn't come to Earth, and  H. sapiens still had feet of clay. Decks cleared, I present chapter four. I'd refresh my coffee at this point if I were you. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


Self-evidently, although we’re all unique in how we look, how smart we are, and what innate talents we have, nobody is automatically born better than anyone else. 

We are entitled to live as long as biology and fate permit; we’re free to pursue our own path and discover what it is that will keep getting us out of bed in the morning until we won't (or can't) get out of bed in the morning.  

I maintain that this is obvious — self-evident — to any more or less well-adjusted kid on the playground. I maintain that this is obvious to any emotionally healthy, clear-thinking grup. 

I maintain that any well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) king, cleric, or politically correct or corrupt bully that maintains otherwise is delusional and needs to be dealt with appropriately.

{Obvious huh?}

Yeah, Dana, at least to those of us fortunate enough to have been born into circumstances that permit us to take the concept for granted — and even many of us who weren't. Unfortunately, a um... more traditional way, the way of the all-powerful alpha male, is still in vogue hither and yon.    

We have two choices. The traditional way, the way of the alpha male and/or the occasional alpha female, the way of the dicktater, king or queen, the way of the high priest(ess), and the like — or the way of the rational (well, more or less) individual.

Rational people employ reason.

Wikipedia: “Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.”

AKA critical thinking, an enemy of Critical Theory

Rationality is a buggy, crash-prone app still in beta testing. But for the dead, mostly white dudes that invented the USA, fortunately for us, reason was a thing, a very big thing. We got lucky. 

Many of them were the "1%" of their day, but back in their particular day something called the Age of Enlightenment (or Reason) was rockin’ the world, and a new meme was going around.

Say you decided that the traditional way of doing things only worked well for a tiny group of people and you could rewrite the rules, using reason, to set up a new system that benefited everyone equally, at least theoretically, what would you do?

What they did, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, was to set up the USA. The wailing and gnashing continues, as it should in a democratic republic. 

Fortunately, the new system includes built-in mechanisms to fix and/or change what the Citizens of the Republic decide needs to be fixed and/or changed. It ain’t easy to change, and it shouldn’t be, considering how thin the veneer of rationality is.            

Emotionally healthy, clear-thinking kids and grownups realize they’re not the only kid on the playground and that just enough rules are necessary (this is the rule of law, as opposed to rule by an arbitrary boss) to ensure everyone has fun, shares the equipment, and that bullies are not allowed. 

This is called government and it requires that a few conditions be met in order for the people to remain as free as realistically possible. 

First, we the governed, get to decide what the rules are. Second, the rules should be as few in number as possible so that individuals remain as free as possible. Third, great care must be taken to avoid the potential hooge, honking, downside of democracy: a tyranny of the majority.

If a majority of the kids on the playground get together to ban little Timmy from the premises just because of his unfortunate tendency to pick his nose even though he’s not breaking any rules, a grownup (the rule of law) must step in to protect little Timmy’s right to be there. 

This is the why and what of the U.S. Constitution. America's called the American experiment because no one else in history had managed to pull off anything like it and many thought we wouldn’t either. Some still don’t, and there’s no guarantee that it will ultimately end well.

Now, just because we’re lucky enough to have been born members of the species that sits at the top of the food chain in the most prosperous nation the world has seen (so far at least) we still live in a dangerous, hostile world that guarantees nothing but our eventual death. 

It’s up to us to come up with food, clothing, and shelter and defend ourselves from those who want to kill us for fun or profit.

And yes, a nation as well off as America is morally required to install a rationally designed safety net to catch everyone that fate shoves off the trampoline, but not necessarily for those who deliberately jumped off because they thought it would be fun. 

I once heard a nurse that was the head of some organization or other declaring with passion and conviction that, “Healthcare is a right!” in a radio interview.

No, it’s not.

Life, freedom, and the pursuit of whatever it is that keeps us getting out of bed are the fundamental rights everyone obviously should get. But even these natural, fundamental rights are a reality, not just a potential reality, only for those fortunate enough to be born in a country and a culture that acknowledges and defends them. 

You may have noticed some world-class thugs look at things a bit differently.

Everything else you’re entitled to depends on what you and your fellow citizens agree upon and are prepared to work your bums off to pay for. 

If you don’t believe this, try performing the following experiment.

Have yourself stranded on a desert island without a crew from a reality television show. Raise your fist to the sky and DEMAND! food, clothing, and shelter (and healthcare), then wait and see what happens. 

Oh, and make sure you don’t let your situational awareness chops get rusty while you’re waiting because Mother Nature is notoriously oblivious to our rights. Like any good mom, if she has a favorite, she keeps it to herself, and she doesn’t seem to lose any sleep when her kids eat each other to stay alive.

Also, please note that you don’t have to ask nicely for life (however temporary), liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Self-evidently, unless Gilligan and company show up and turn out to be evil, drug-addled crazies (which would explain a lot), you'd be about as free as you can be within the physical limitations of life on Earth.

{Phew... talk about dated cultural references!}

And unless Mr. Howell has brought along a trunk full of fentanyl, you could stay as free as possible (all things considered) if you and the "seven stranded castaways" simply agreed to respect each other's unalienable rights.

(To be continued...)

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Scroll down if you wish to share my work or access my golden oldies.   

I post links to my columns (and other stuff) on Facebook where you can love me, hate me, or lobby to have me publically flogged.  

Saturday, January 20, 2024

The History of the World (Condensed), Ch. 3

Image by JJ Jordan from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"The historian is an unsuccessful novelist." -H.L. Mencken

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

Last week, chapter two ended in the year 1776. But before moving on, permit me to explain...

{Wait-wait-wait. Company policy clearly states that new columns are to be posted on Friday evenings at 7:11 p.m.}

True, but in Vol. 4 of the S.O.P. manuals, page 39, it clearly states that if some idiot somehow deletes a completely completed post and spends at least an hour trying to retrieve it, he/she/they has 24 hours to reconstruct same and try again before adopting plan B. 

Now, chapter two ended with, "And then, in 1776, the planet Earth finally caught a break" which brings us to: 

Chapter Three

{Or insert the sound of a throat clearing, to preemptively fend off attacks by far lefties, far righties, Wokies, and the Intersectional Inquisition.}

At this point in our story, I must toss in a few paragraphs from the Reality Checks, Caveats & Premises Department (RCC&P) before proceeding.

The American experiment wasn't conjured out of thin air. The Greeks dabbled in democracy, the Romans ran a republic (at least for a while), and the Brits managed to make a Magna Carta. In my semi-humble opinion, the American experiment can be defined by quoting the most important passage of the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

If you accept that statement as a fundamental given (whether or not you believe in a creator), perhaps one of the most fundamental of givens… Well, If you don’t accept that statement, I fear it’s time for us to go our separate ways; you can keep the cat but I’m keeping most of the vinyl collection.

Big BUT, I freely acknowledge that the next sentence in the declaration could have been:

“Assuming, of course, that you are Caucasian and male."

That was undeniably the way America worked at the time and it was an undeniable flaw. However, it was the local version of how most of the world traditionally worked, a version of reality that lives on here and there.

However, I maintain that some dramatic progress has been made in the last 250 years or so, particularly when compared to however many thousands of years it was considered normal for a given Fred or Barney to club a cutie down at the waterhole to clean the cave and keep an eye on Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm while he and the boys were partying down at the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes Lodge while being served and serviced by their slaves.

When my mum and dad got together they, and most other people, believed that a man’s job was to bring home the bacon and a woman’s job was to be a domestic engineer. Period. In light of the way many folks look at things today, including me, they weren't entirely correct. But I’m inclined to not only not judge them but to also say thanks. They weren’t evil, and incidentally, they were part of the generation that survived the Great Depression and won World War Two. 

While they were busy saving the world they didn’t know if there would be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, an era of unprecedented prosperity that lasted from just after WW2 to the late 1970s and would benefit their spoiled kids more than them. Things started getting weird after that, which I’ll get into later.

Finally, let us acknowledge the elephant skulking in the corner of the room. H. sapiens will be H. sapiens. While I’m profoundly grateful for the dumb luck of being a child of, and living in, a country that’s a product of Western Civilization, I’m smarter than I look.

My gratitude is based on two things. Although I think Western Civilization in general, and the USA in particular, is the best we’ve done so far, both are as flawed and imperfect as the H. sapiens that somehow came up with them. Therefore a — We’re number one! We’re number one! — overheated sports fan sort of attitude can be as tacky as wearing socks with summer sandals. 

Let us be quietly smug. The coolest kid doesn’t have to go around telling people he’s (they're?) cool, that’s part of his/her/their, um, coolness. Also, an economic implosion here, a pandemic there, or an asteroid that's bigger than a bus — "Last stop, Earth!" — and the Dark Ages Digest could experience a sudden, dramatic increase in circulation.

(To be continued...)

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Scroll down if you wish to share my work or access my golden oldies.   

I post links to my columns (and other things) on Facebook so that you can love me, hate me, or lobby to have me publically flogged. 

Update: For those of you who are not native Buckeyes but are wondering if they can legally acquire some weed the next time they visit my little corner of Flyoverland, the answer is still no. You can legally smoke it here, but you still can't legally buy it here. 

The House of Reps. (where the holdup is) returned from their month-long Christmas vacay (for one day, and then got back out of Dodge) to pass an override of our five-foot-tall governor's veto of a bill banning transexual women (dudes) from participating in women's sports, which he actually doesn't have a problem with.

But the bill also bans treating children for gender dysphoria. While he does object to surgically altering children (under 18) to treat gender dysphoria he thinks that doing so with hormones should be between them and their parents. 

Given that the override will not take effect if and until the State Senate returns to town and also votes to override, some rather cynical souls think the return of the Reps was a political stunt.  

In the meantime, some of the Reps are saying it could take they don't know how long to craft a bill to replace the citizen's initiative that passed last November that legalized weed with something more to their liking.  


No comment. 

Friday, January 12, 2024

The History of the World (Condensed), Ch. 2

Image by JJ Jordan from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes." -Mark Twain

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

Chapter One ended with the beginning of civilization. Our story continues. 

...Next, depending on how you look at it, an awful lot of history happened — or a few things happened over and over again — and regularly something really awful happened. 

Rather like the life of a modern-day, average American Joe/Joan/J. Bagadonuts but subject to even more random acts of violence. They attacked us or we attacked them in the name of cash, conquest, revenge, God, the gods, hunger, honor, slaves, etcetera.

Fortunately, God was on our side or it would have been even worse. 

As Hobbes famously pointed out, life is “...solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Mr. H. was arguing that this is the natural state of man (he had a point) and that’s why we need an all-powerful ruler to keep us on the straight and narrow. 

He was wrong about that but we do need some form of government. This is how we keep the bullies on our playground in check and defend it from the bullies from other playgrounds.  

Once in a while, peace would break out but Mother Nature provides us with ways to stave off boredom and complacency — natural disasters and disease.

For example, say King Ed is sitting in the privy waiting for nature to take its course and his mind starts to wander because the only copy of Dark Ages Digest on hand is almost a year old. 

He’s been giving a lot of thought to attacking a kingdom just down the road because he’s got his fair share of bloodthirsty warriors and greedy nobles to keep happy and if he doesn’t keep them busy they may turn on him and/or each other for entertainment and booty.

He’s been through that before and knows that even if he and his allies triumph lots of innocent serfs, peasants, and slaves will be slaughtered. 

Collateral damage, sure, but since they're the ones that do most of the heavy lifting, and since lots of them die before reaching the age of thirty, you need to maintain a large inventory to dodge some significant downsides. He’s still short of virtual slaves, actual slaves, and cash from last season, not one of his better ones, and short on potential solutions as well. 

Things are so bad he’s considering hiring one of those expensive consultants his brother King Marty favors. He’s heard good things about a firm called DPD, Diabolical Plots by the Dozen, founded incidentally, by a distant ancestor of Vladimir Putin.

His ruminations are interrupted by a hysterical minion pounding on the door and screaming, “Your majesty, your majesty there are reports of plague (or flood, or fire, or hairy weather, or rapacious insects, or blight, or famine, etcetrine) in the kingdom!” 

This solves the problem, short term at least. Now, survival becomes everybody's Job-1. Assuming this isn’t an apocalyptic-level crisis and assuming that King Ed is one of the survivors he can deal with his other problem later.

This is how things rolled most days in most places. Why? Well, it’s either because we’re naked apes living in a dangerous world, or, someone screwed up the paradise we were provided with by God and he/she/they is still mad (the details depend on which creation myth you subscribe to). It wasn’t all bad though. 

Once in a while, a Joe or Joan or J. Bagadonuts was fortunate enough to have an actual boring day. Once in a great while, something truly cool happened.

Somebody came up with the wheel, someone perfected bronze, iron came along, the printing press was invented, Mr. and Mrs. Beethoven had a baby — that sort of thing. Being the clever creatures that we are, we even came up with all sorts of ways to use these breakthroughs for things other than killing each other.

H. sapiens are religious by nature, including the ones who claim not to be. Various entities, or his/her/their messenger(s), have regularly stopped by to light the path to paradise. This phenomenon continues apace, right up to this very moment. 

Nowadays, the entities and/or their messengers may be politicians, pundits, Greenies, Wokies, Trumpies, etc. The field has broadened considerably.

"We're the ones we've been waiting for" so let's "make America great again!" I think that...

{Whoa, Sparky, focus dude.}

Thanks, Dana, I've gotten ahead of myself. Where was I? Oh, yeah...

And then, in 1776, the planet Earth finally caught a break.

(To Be Continued...)

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Friday, January 5, 2024

The History of the World (Condensed)

Chapter One

Image by JJ Jordan from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"Not again!" -History

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

We H. sapiens living in the current era are reminded daily that if global warming/climate change doesn't get us, the Artificial Intelligenci, a deadly global pandemic, or _______ probably will. 

As a public service, I've put together a condensed history of the world that will be featured in this space over the course of the next several weeks. 

{Public service?}

Assuming there are survivors, Dana, they'll need help reconstructing the past once they start to rebuild. Perhaps my feeble scribbles will somehow survive and I can be of service from beyond the grave. Also, I freely admit that this is world history according to yet another ugly American. 

The universe we inhabit appeared 13.772 billion years ago on a Tuesday

A single, unimaginably dense point began rapidly expanding and a lot of complex stuff happened and continues to happen. The most interesting thing that resulted, from an Earthlings perspective, is that 4.543 billion years ago, the planet Earth pulled itself together.

Roughly 300,000 years ago anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens, emerged in Africa.

{So we're all Homos and we're all Africans?}

Yours is a unique perspective, Dana, I like it.

Or, to one degree or another, the stuff mentioned above, and what follows below, happened because God decided when and if it should be so.

The details depend on your personal beliefs. I know some very nice, perfectly normal H. sapiens that believe what I consider to be some very strange things (of course I’m not talking about what you believe). I freely concede that one of them may turn out to be right and that I may be wrong. 

I’m wrong with disturbing regularity so I try to keep an open mind. I highly recommend this approach as I’ve found it to be the only effective defense against blind panic when a high-velocity radioactive fact comes crashing through the roof of my thought structure like a blazing meteorite.

Irregardless, tools already existed by the time we came along although hardware stores did not appear till much later on. The controlled use of fire for warmth, light, and most importantly in my semi-humble opinion, cooking (I've never cared much for cold cuts) also likely preceded us but this is a matter of some dispute. 

Along the way, the attributes that distinguish us from the other animals on the planet such as language, art, religion, ever more efficient ways to kill each other, etc. developed.

Agriculture came along roughly 12,000 years ago and changed everything.

Our ancestors had been hunters/gatherers for thousands of years. Since grocery stores hadn’t been invented yet everyone had the same job, killing something or gathering something to avoid starving to death. Now, on a good day, this wasn’t a half-bad way to get by. 

If you or you and the gang (odds are you belonged to some sort of tribe or odds are you would be dead) managed to find something to gather up and/or kill to eat without getting killed and/or eaten in the process you could go home early. Assuming you had found enough food, you were free for the rest of the day.

Of course, this could be quite boring as there wasn’t much to do since they had neither cable nor computers, not even smartphones. This was why sex was invented. I refer to sex as practiced by H. sapiens, which tends to be a somewhat frequent and obsessive activity as compared to most other animals.

Various people at various locations gradually figured out how to plant and nurture crops as well as how to domesticate animals. While this required a lot more work than hunting and gathering, and having a diet that provided less variety could lead to health problems, it was a more reliable way to keep from starving to death.

Also, there's some evidence that suggests that getting loaded was a significant motivation as well. Turning grains into beer is easier than turning them into food, and beer was as popular then as it is now, even without the ubiquitous commercials — please drink responsibly. 

Eventually, we got good enough at this agriculture thing to produce more food than was needed for the gang to scrape by. This made it possible to settle down instead of wandering all over the place hunting and gathering enough calories to keep body and soul together.

Men, women, and others are by nature and necessity, social animals. 

It takes quite a few years before we reach maturity and we’re dependent on our parents much longer than the average creature. Also, survival is considerably easier and our lives are potentially much more pleasant when we work together. For example, everyone knows that bringing down a wooly mammoth with the tribe's help is much easier and more efficient than trying to do it yourself. 

That’s why most people naturally prefer to hang out or at least affiliate with a clique of some sort, it’s a  survival mechanism. Getting along with the inhabitants of the other huts on the block not only promoted regular meals and security, it also enabled you to get your fair share of woolyburgers without having to slay the neighbors to get theirs.

Social cohesion increases the likelihood and quality of survival. Having to share the playground with the other kids is where morality (Rules&Regs) comes from. Please see, The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt. 

Speaking of sharing, monogamy was invented. If all the dudes could count on access to, um, regular companionship, it made the cooperation needed for the hunt less prone to drama. The dudettes could also count on access to, um, regular companionship... and protection for the kids. 

This arrangement was/is disproportionately beneficial for dudes. Dudes need a significant dudette to be, among other things, a good mom, a good wife, and nowadays, often as not, willing and able to work outside the hut — and to counter a dude's tendency to rapidly devolve into a naked ape when left to his own devices.      

We figured this out long before agriculture made villages not only possible but necessary and H. sapiens began clawing their way to the top of the food chain (the original corporate ladder). 

When we reached the point where we could produce more food than we needed it was only natural that people began to specialize. Most people remained farmers, but surplus food made it possible for some people who had abilities that benefited the community to do their thing without having to farm. 

A relatively reliable supply of food and water (and beer) leads to an increased population. If enough people can produce enough food to keep themselves alive — and have enough left over to feed specialists such as craftspersons, cops, kings, insurance salesmen, etc. — before you know it, a village becomes a town becomes a city becomes a civilization. The rest is history.

Civilization began in Mesopotamia, an area that corresponds roughly to greater modern-day Iraq (ain’t that ironical?). This happened about 3,500 BCE.

(To be continued...)

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Scroll down if you wish to share my work or access my golden oldies.   

I post links to my columns (and other things) on Facebook so that you can love me, hate me, or lobby to have me publicly flogged.