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Friday, November 11, 2016

OPR's 1 of ?


OPR’S
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note: that book whose title I couldn't remember?  On climate change and immigration?  It's "Tropic Of Chaos".
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note: this article is three parts.  I kind of have a small voice in the back of my head whispering that it kind of veered off topic and died towards the end ( I should never write part one then wait two days before resuming as my train of thought derails ).  I could be too critical, or I could be spot on.  If it ends up sucking for you, please don't hate on me.  Sometimes an occasional article is less than brilliant.
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note: I had a comment yesterday dropping multiple "N" Bombs.  Of course I did not publish it.  Please remember, and respect, the fact I could lose this no charge publishing venue if I were to allow that kind of objectionable material.  The simple fact of the matter is that I don't have enough readers to have the monthly expense of hosting a site.
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I normally have close to zero luck reading anthologies.  Those mostly come along in fiction  but even the non-fiction ones usually blow rabid monkey ass.  To me, and perhaps I’m just the odd one out in the entire universe, an authors style is very important.  Not the plot in a novel or a subject in a reference book, as important as they are, but mainly in the way he ( sorry, most female writers suck to me as a male reader-the exceptions barely fill on hand worth of fingers, one of those being Paylee Roberts who I hope is still one of my minions ) presents his material.  So, if I avoid certain writers because of their style, then it stands to reason that an anthology has good odds of being styles you don’t care for-the guiding principle for inclusion seeming to be sales in publishing.  No matter the subject, no matter my age, anthologies have always been a waste of money for me 19 out of a twenty times.  A wonderful exception to this was J.E. Pournelle of Lucifer’s Hammer fame with his “There Will Be War” series.  But not the whole series, just book eight and nine, Armageddon and After Armageddon. 

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I read those two when they first came out in the Eighties, and read them repeatedly until my countless moves disappered them ( as they say, three moves equals a fire.  I moved about nineteen times just in that decade.  Some might have been minor, moves across town but many involved continental and intercontinental distances ).  Recently by accident they came to my attention again when I read the first book in the series ( not very good ) when it was offered on Kindle Unlimited.  I procured both paper copies of #8&9  and have been slowly savoring them since ( I have “work” books that I use to kill time when I am in my “hurry up and wait until these morons get their head out of their ass because even though I show up every friggin day at the same Gott Damn time they can’t have donations waiting for me for some unfathomable reason” mode.  They are Already Read books since I can read a half page at a time and not lose the train of thought when I pick it up days later ).

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If you like QUALITY post-Apocalypse fiction, these are Ver Gut, Wunderbar and other excited foreign phrases gushed admirably.  If you like one story you should love almost every single one of these in the two books.  One thing I have noticed from reading his own contributions and story introductions is that Pournelle is a bit of an incurable optimist.  I’m talking, he is so sickly sweet happy about the future, reminiscing as of old Beaver Clever Happy Hour With Super Scientist Sidney joyous ejaculations about “electric power too cheap to meter” or the “mankind shall travel, colonize and rule the planets and all we need is a few more funds from Congress to do it” fantasy or “radiation is tasty and safe” wishful thinking that it is all I can do to stop myself from selling everything I own, traveling to Los Angeles and throttling the bastard until he admits life is more like a puppies smeared fecal waste on your shoe than a glittery rainbow shooting out of unicorns rectums.

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The thing that stood out to me was his utter disdain for pessimists, bad mouthing them freely.  To him, happy survivalists joyfully embraced the nuclear winter as an opportunity to rebuild and make all the Bad People Problems go away in their new society while anyone holding any fear about the future might as well curl up at ground zero and have their sniveling extinguished so that the Future Pioneers can get on with life without distraction.  Well, as you might imagine, that crap pisses me off.  Pournelle is a talented and very smart individual, but he is also a near Baby Boomer puke who fully drank the grape kool aid of infinite growth on a finite planet ( using colonization of space as way of bypassing the “finite” part, he can safely claim that if the FedGov had just listened to him and Other Very Smart People, it could have happened and his optimism would have been justified.  Of course, two problems emerge from that.  One, you really expect the government to do what is best for the country rather than the Elite-really?  And two, a few untried theoretical inventions such as an orbital elevator were needed to get all the rest to work and there were no guarantees even if funding had materialized ).  He confuses the one off carbon fuel bonanza with progress and unlimited opportunity.

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Was this excusable way back in the day?  Perhaps.  I dare say that none of us had much inkling of things darkly this way to come right after we were the worlds biggest petroleum provider ( remember, the place no one associates with oil, California, at one time drilled 20% of the GLOBAL petroleum supply ).  The research was out there even then but hardly anyone knew about it.  We can label Pournelle a Specialist and excuse him.  Can we excuse his being an optimist?  Well, a pessimists would say not just no but Hell No!  We’ve talked about optimists and pessimists before.  An optimist can, literally, see no dark clouds.  A pessimist is incapable of seeing any good coming out of anything.  Both viewpoints are limiting.  Which is why we’ll label a mixture of the two as a “realist”.  Not because the name fits perfectly but because of the joke:

An optimist sees a glass half full.

A pessimist sees it as half empty.

A realist asks Who Pissed In My Glass?

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Hence the article title, OPR’s.  Optimists, Pessimists and Realists.  In the above joke, the Realist might better be described as a cynic.  Perhaps.  It is funny, as is, because it suggests ( at least to me ) that the pessimist wasn’t half paranoid enough.  For the purposes of this discussion we’ll just call the realist someone who is trying to avoid being blinded by being too optimistic ( Pournelle ) or equally blinded by being far too pessimistic ( such as myself ).  They try to see both sides.  Knowing it is going to be far worse than we think, but knowing the human species is a minor miracle in its ability to survive and thrive.  Continued on Monday.

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18 comments:

  1. Came across a really good Fred on everything article that someone posted on another site James. It touches on what's become of the university system since the 1960's, and I thought that it might provide some food for thought for a potential article idea. Goes far in explaining why we've become a nation of “educated” idiots.


    “Incoming freshmen were assumed to read with fluency and to know algebra cold. They did, because applicants were screened for these abilities by the SATs. These tests, not yet dumbed down, then measured a student’s ability to handle complex ideas expressed in complex literate English, this being what college students then did.”

    “There were no remedial courses. If you needed them, you belonged somewhere else. The goal of college was learning, not social uplift.”

    “The first and worst change was the philosophy that everybody, or much closer to everybody, should go to college. Disaster followed.”

    “Many professors were products of the Sixties and saw the role of universities to be the pursuit of social change. Students with little desire for learning were content with this.”

    “What the students didn’t want was an education, to the extent that they knew what the word meant. They wanted courses that were easy and fun. Soon there were things like “What if Harry Potter were Real?” and “The Comic Book in the Struggle for Gender Equality.”


    http://fredoneverything.org/college-then-and-now-letter-to-a-bright-young-woman/

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    1. Thanks for the link-I'll make sure to read. I think one problem with higher ed might also have been the government GI Bill. It was mostly good and just, but let's not forget that removing price removes barrio of entry. Also, allowing draft deferment to students shoved even more morons into college.

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  2. I suppose you could describe me as being a Realist.
    Bordering on being a full blow pessimist. Lord knows I should be a pessimist with all the shit my life has brought me.
    Yet the engineer in me, knows there always is a solution to every problem, however improbable it may be.
    Though I do outright despise being around full blown optimists. Sorry ya Moran, Jebus ain't gonna come down here on his flying chariot and save your worthless ass !

    Not unlike Pournelles character the professor, maybe one day I'll make it out there to show you that all industry need be lost.
    Of course, if along the way...I run into a colony of buxom babes....well you lose Jim , even with your golden hair.

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    1. I'd call you a bastard for throwing me under the bus for buxomly babes, but I'd do the same thing.

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  3. "...throttling the bastard until he admits life is more like a puppies smeared fecal waste on your shoe than a glittery rainbow shooting out of unicorns rectums."



    LOL
    Thanks for the mental visuals!

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    1. Glad to help. We all need to be laughing uproariously as it all comes crashing down. Then laugh as we smite our enemies, and even as we are filled full of arrow shafts, fighting to the last. Valhalla is the best we can hope for.

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  4. I'm sorry.

    But knowing Jerry, he would have capped your hippy ass if you had tried.

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    Replies
    1. Dude, he's like, what? 120 years old. All palsy and such. I think my odds are good.

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  5. Here's another item Jim that has inflated more since the 80's then Rosie O'Dumbbell's ginormous ass! The rubber duck shoe, or pack shoe. I got a pair in the 80's from the sportsman's guide, and I think they were around $20.

    Lately while walking around in the mornings, my feet have been getting wet while wearing my standard top sider style shoes. It hasn't rained here lately, and it's not muddy, this is just from morning dew. Well I got a rude surprise when I went online to price some, and discovered that they range at the cheapest to around $40 on up until a $100. A $100 for a friggin pair of rubber shoes????

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?ajr=2&ref_=nb_sb_noss_2&rh=i:fashion,k:men%27s%20duck%20shoes&url=search-alias=shoes&field-keywords=men%27s%20duck%20shoes

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    1. http://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/kamik-mens-sportsman-rubber-boots-waterproof-insulated?a=1518510
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      The Kamik winter boot is rated to around minus 30 F. They claim to be warmer than the Army Mickey Mouse boot ( at half the price ). My own use saw them quite comfy at 15 below. And for $39? I can't argue at that price as the name brand boots are $100. So, you take the inserts out in nicer weather for a rubber boot and still have a nice artic boot. That is better inflation than food, shelter, autos, college, etc.

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    2. Yes, I agree that they're a good bargain. And for cold weather that's the way I'd go. But generally, if the weather is reasonable, and it hasn't just rained, or is too wet out, I tend to find boots to be cumbersome and weighty, and less comfortable than shoes. Generally I like to wear light weight type shoes of the slip on variety. They're not the topsiders, since those are too pricey, but they kind of look like that. They're the cheapie walmart slip ons; I think they cost around $15. That's why I was looking at the duck shoes vs the boots.

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    3. Okay, that makes perfect sense. I'm a very frugal bastard and I'm just as prone to convenience items that a cheaper item would cover, with extra effort.

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    4. I must admit, for wet wear boots I am completely sold on " Muck " brand boots. They are very durable and comfortable for hiking also. Try a pair on some time and you'll see what I mean.
      And yes they are right at a hundred bucks...

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    5. I ended up getting the one's in the link below. In reasonable temperatures, and on damp ground, as long as it's not flooded out, they are a good compromise.

      Sloggers Men's Premium Garden Clog with Premium Insole, Black, Mn's sz 12 - Style 261BK12

      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000QGXSC0/ref=pd_sim_86_1/157-7989043-0899859?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=EYZR0EHD0DEMHGP8X1E1


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    6. That's the kind I get at Family $ for $8. I wonder if yours lasts 3 times as long as mine? ( not being a smart-ass, just wondering if the quality is 3x as is the price ).

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    7. Good question James? I'm going to have to look into that one. I do shop around for the best price usually, but almost all of my shopping is done online now. My mother regularly goes to the dollar store though, so I'll ask her to keep an eye out next time. And if she finds them for $8, I'll feel like an awful fool!

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    8. Dunno bout yours but my Mucks have been worn for a few hundred miles of hiking the swamps and are like six years old. I have another pair in reserve, but the original ones have yet to show much in the way of wear.Of course soft swampy turf is fairly gentle on soles too. Not much call for such boots where you are heh heh....

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    9. 641-don't feel bad, Amazon is 95% low price leader. Just a few weird one off items are high price. Shoe Goo, for one. I was looking at a board wargame and it was twice what the company that printed it wanted. But so much is so cheap, I can't hate on their exceptions. Disposable batteries at Amazon are HALF price as Wal-Mart. Granted, generic compared to brand name, but still. And don't get me started on the wonderfully low book prices!
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      Spud-I'll wager your same brand boots are now not going to last as long, given nearly across the board quality declines.

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