Make a better future. Pick up the War Arrow.

Summary: While we watch superhero films, the modern opiates of masses, there are real inspirations unnoticed in our cultural storehouses. Here is one example. In the comments post others that you believe can provide a spark to America’s spirit.

“People need stories, more than bread, itself. They teach us how to live, and why. …Stories show us how to win.”
— The Master Storyteller in HBO’s wonderful Arabian Nights.

Superhero on building roof looking over city
ID 111070697 © Jamesteohart | Dreamstime.

Everywhere I go looking to agitate for reform of America I see the yearning for a hero to save us. We want flying Jesus beyond the petty concerns and limitations of our world. This dream short-circuits even potentially powerful grass-roots movements, such as the Tea Party and Occupy movement, draining them of seriousness. As James McAuley writes about the Yellow Vests movement in France …

“… the gilets jaunes include shopkeepers seemingly content to destroy shop windows. There is an aspect of carnival here: a delight in the subversion of norms, a deliberate embrace of the grotesque. …They have no official platform, no leadership hierarchy, and no reliable communications. Everyone can speak for the movement, and yet no one can.”

I see this when talking to the middle ranks of the Boy Scouts’ volunteer leaders, to the best of the military’s field grade officers (active duty and vets), to Wall Street executives worried that their industry is destroying itself and wrecking America, to college students and professors. By now everybody at least senses, often inchoate, that we have chosen a path that cannot end well for us. But few act. Some out of a kind of paralysis. Most from apathy and baked-in passivity.

This creates the popularity of superhero films. All societies have mythological heroes. The modern American superheros were born during the agonies of the Great Depression, in the shade of the coming world war. But they were largely a children’s literature, lightly read by many adults. The current phenomenon is different. As I have written in so many posts, this is a symptom of a serious affliction in our culture (see the For More Info section below).

But we can have other myths, other stories that can inspire us (others are listed below). Many lurk on the fringes of our collective imagination. Others are forgotten. All await our need, reminding us that we will be strong when we choose to be.

From Marauders of Gor by John Norman (1975).

Marauders of Gor
Available at Amazon.

We came then to a great arch, which marked the entrance to a vast room, lost in darkness beyond the flickering spheres of our uplifted torches. We stopped. Over the arch, deeply incised in the stone was the single, mighty sign, that which the Forkbeard had not explained to me. We stood in silence, in that dark, lofty threshold.

The Forkbeard was trembling. I had never seen him so. The hair on the back of my neck lifted, short, stiff. I felt cold. I knew, of course, the legends. He lifted his torch, to the sign over the door. “Do you not know that sign?” he asked.

“I know what sign it must be,” I said. “The sign, the name-sign, of Torvald.”

“Yes,” said he. “This is the chamber of Torvald. …Torvald sleeps in the Torvaldsberg, and has done so for a thousand years. …When his land needs him, he shall awake. Again he will lead the men of the north. …We must waken him.”

Ivar Forkbeard, lifting his torch, entered the great chamber. … {He} stood at the side of the great stone couch, which was covered with black fur. At the foot of the couch were weapons; at its head, hanging on the wall, under a great shield, were two spears, crossed under it, and, to one side, a mighty sword in its scabbard. Near the head of the couch, on our left, as we looked upon the couch, was, on a stone platform, a large helmet, horned.

The Forkbeard looked at me. The couch was empty. He did not speak. He sat down on the edge of the couch and put his head in his hands. His torch lay on the floor, and, after some time, burned itself out. The Forkbeard did not move. …But I heard him sob once. I did not, of course, let him know that I had heard this sound. I would not shame him.

“We have lost,” he said, finally, “Red Hair. We have lost.”

I had lit another torch, and was examining the chamber. The body of Torvald, I conjectured, had not been buried in this place. It did not seem likely that robbers would have taken the body, and left the various treasures about. Nothing, it seemed, had been disturbed. It was empty. …

“This is a sleeping chamber,” he said. “There are no bones of animals here, or of thralls, or urns, or the remains of foodstuffs, offerings.” He looked about. “Why,” he asked me, “would Torvald have had carved in the Torvaldsberg a sleeping chamber?”

“That men might come to the Torvaldsberg to waken him,” I said. …

From among the weapons at the foot of the couch, from one of the cylindrical quivers, still of the sort carried in Torvaldsland, I drew forth a long, dark arrow. It was more than a yard long. Its shaft was almost an inch thick. It was plied with iron, barbed. Its feathers were five inches long, set in the shaft on three sides, feathers of the black-tipped coasting gull, a broad-winged bird, with black tips on its wings.

I lifted the arrow. “What is this?” I asked the Forkbeard.

“It is a war arrow,” he said.

“And what sign is this, carved on its side?” I asked.

“The sign of Torvald,” he whispered.

“Why do you think this arrow is in this place?” I asked.

“That men might find it?” he asked. …

“I think,” I said, “I begin to understand the meaning of a man who lived more than a thousand winters ago. This man, call him Torvald, built within a mountain a chamber for sleep, in which he would not sleep, but to which men would come to waken him. Here they would find not Torvald, but themselves, themselves, Ivar, alone, and an arrow of war.” … “In building this chamber,” I said, “it was not the intention of Torvald that it should be he who was awakened within it, but rather those who came to seek him.”

“The chamber is empty,” said Ivar.

“No,” I said, “we are within it.” I put my hand to his shoulder. “It is not Torvald who must awaken in this chamber. Rather it is we. Here, hoping for others to do our work, we find only ourselves, and an arrow of war. Is this not Torvald’s way of telling us, from a thousand years ago, that it is we on whom we must depend, and not on any other. If the land is to be saved, it is by us, and others like us, that it must be saved. There are no spells, no gods, no heroes to save us. In this chamber, it is not Torvald who must awaken. It is you and I.” I regarded the Forkbeard evenly. “Lift,” said I, “the arrow of war.”

I stood back from the couch, my torch raised. Slowly, his visage terrible, the Forkbeard lifted his arm, the arrow in his fist.

I am not even of Torvaldsland, but it was I who was present when the arrow of war was lifted, at the side of the couch of Torvald, deep within the living stone of the Torvaldsberg. 

————————————–

What can you do after you life the arrow of war? See suggestions at the Reforming America: Steps to a New Politics page.

My next post will be depressing beyond anything I have ever written, admitting that the very foundation of the FM website project was flawed. But there is always a next inning. I have few useful ideas, but will continue looking for them.

For more information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all film reviews, posts about heroes, and especially these …

  1. The problem with America lies in our choice of heroes.
  2. Robocop is not a good role model for the youth of Detroit
  3. We want heroes, not leaders. When that changes it will become possible to reform America.
  4. Are our film heroes leading us to the future, or signaling despair?
  5. Captain America: the Winter Soldier – high-quality indoctrination for sheep.
  6. We like superheroes because we’re weak. Let’s use other myths to become strong.
  7. Hollywood’s Hero Deficit – both a cause and symptom of our weakness.
  8. A bright note amidst the gloom: “Justice League” is the film we need, not the one we deserve.
  9. Some places to look for energy: We need better heroes. They are there, in stories from our past.
  10. More ideas: Inspiration. The missing element that can reform America.
  11. Where we can find the inspiration to fix America?
  12. Captain Marvel – fun for kids, swill for adults.

Suggestions where to start

Teamwork and powerful institutions built America. They were not just in our history books but also our in legends. Marvel Comic’s had SHIELD and the Justice League. E. E. Smith’s novels featured the Triplanetary force (the model for Marvel’s Green Lantern Corps). Robert Heinlein told young boys about the Space Patrol. On TV we watched the adventures of UNCLE (the United Network Command for Law Enforcement, as in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)” defend us and saw the Federation bringing order and civilization to the galaxy.

Post your ideas in the comments.

31 thoughts on “Make a better future. Pick up the War Arrow.

  1. Thomas Sowell asks “Is Personal Responsibility Obsolete?”

    Part I and Part II.

    That’s an important question. My guess: no, but it is on life support in America.

  2. “By now everybody at least senses, often inchoate, that we have choosen a path that cannot end well for us. But few act. Some out of a kind of paralysis. Most from apathy and baked-in passivity.”

    Or maybe from hopelessness.

    Who is willing to speak the truth that we have chosen a path that cannot end well for us? Very few of those who are in a position to be widely heard. Almost none of the main stream media, save Tucker Carlson. No one at all in Congress. Very few major business leaders. Barely anyone in academia, where speaking out is a virtual death sentence.

    Trump says it in his crude way. That is the essence of “Make America Great Again”. And so, Trump is reviled and subject to baseless attacks. A clear message to others who might dare to speak out.

    Depressing indeed.

    1. Mike,

      “Or maybe from hopelessness.”

      That’s just an excuse for apathy and passivity. Our problems are far far smaller than those we have fought and surmounted in the past. But whining – that’s our defining trait today.

      1. I’m glad that you’re back Larry! I was a bit worried of this hiatus on FM…

        Hopelessness as just an excuse for apathy and passivity:
        Many would disagree with that assessment. There’s no way to get through to people conditioned for generations by propaganda — from the grade-school to “mainstream media;” presstitutes (as per Dr. Paul Craig Roberts) are beyond what Dr. Goebbels. or G. Orwell could conceive; surely not individually, but dutifully turning like little cogs in a well tuned machine.
        I think the “Deep Whatever”/enemies of this MAGA, or outright of the Constitution, are far more sophisticated than some give them credit for — to make a fundamental distortion in the society seemingly small and insignificant is just another aspect of that.

  3. Excellent post. I prefer real heroes to fictional ones, truth being stranger than fiction. Your post today is definately food for thought, finding our selves in Thorvald’s bedchamber. You have me primed. I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts.

    Regarding what you run into while agitating, it’s discouraging to be faced with such apathy. I get the same. I’m as disgusted as you. Since ramping up, I’m considered the crazy uncle in my family. They just smile and ignore all your posts I forward them. Now, like you, the Left believes I’m hard Right and Right believes I’ve gone Left.

    Heroes never quit. We’ll never give up.

    1. Longtrail,

      “I’m considered the crazy uncle in my family.”

      That’s a post I’ve thought of writing: so much of what our crazy uncles, reading his conspiratorial chain letters, has proven to be true. Odd times, indeed.

  4. “Our problems are far far smaller than those we have fought and surmounted in the past. But whining – that’s our defining trait today.”

    That is very true. But when we have faced severe crises in the past, we had leaders who at least tried to encourage and unite us. Now, most of our “leaders” knock us down and work to divide us, the better to keep us weak. That is not an excuse, but it explains a lot about why so many people feel hopeless.

    1. Mike,

      “we had leaders who at least tried to encourage and unite us.”

      We are such poor babies, crying that mommy doesn’t change and feed us.

      First, that is the exact point of this post. Second, people get the leaders they deserve. Third, America’s three hundred million people have an abundance of leaders. That we prefer clowns is one aspect of our problem.

      “Now, most of our “leaders” …work to divide us”

      Sheep attract wolves. That’s life. Being sheep is a choice for humans.

  5. Larry,

    Nice to know that you are so superior to your fellow citizens.

    The fact is, most people are, always have been, and always will be sheep. If we were all wolves, society would not function. Leaders matter. They are what enable the sheep to defeat the wolves. They is little point in spilling tears over human nature.

    1. Mike,

      “The fact is, most people are, always have been, and always will be sheep.”

      As you said, “Nice to know that you are so superior to your fellow citizens.”

      That’s a despicable thing to say. I suggest you read a few pages of the Federalist Papers for a rebuttal by some of the Founders.

      “If we were all wolves, society would not function.”

      We are people, citizens of a republic. Most of us are neither sheep nor wolves, just ordinary people. Collectively we bolster the sheep among us, and harness or contain the wolves among us.

      “Leaders matter. They are what enable the sheep to defeat the wolves.”

      Totally bogus for many reasons. First, in a Republic, we choose our leaders. They don’t descend from the sky. That we lately choose such poor people is a problem, for which we bear the responsibility.

      Second, in a limited government Republic we solve our problems by collective action. In a severe crisis, Americans have selected extraordinary leaders. But for most of our history we have had adequate leaders, nothing extraordinary (e.g., Truman) – and we have done quite well through some very difficult times – keeping the wolves (external and internal) at bay.

  6. The Yellow Vests are made up of people fed up with the system, it is like Max Weber’s bureaucracy in Economy and Society, the traditional leadership is surpassed by the efficiency of bureaucratic rule, but that rule becomes ever more oppressive and only a Caesar like leader can come along and break us out of this system. Robert Michells took this study further and saw Hitler as that Caesar like leader. ( I apologise if I have explained that badly it is 30 year since I studies this and it was only one lecture in a semester long unit).

    I fear people like ray Dalio are right when they talk of the 1930’s situation. We can see Caesar like characters rising all over the world.

    Look forward to your next article and fear it!

    1. Just a Guy,

      See this review of a book about France, that has interesting comments about the Yellow Vests: “Low Visibility” by James McAuley in the NY Review of Books, reviewing Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, the Periphery, and the Future of France by the always interesting Christophe Guilluy.

      Also see my posts about this movement. I nailed it early – that they would flame out fast – when the mainstream media gurus were writing how this would send France into flames.

      As for what they are looking for, I agree. They are unhappy but appear incapable of organization – and so can’t help themselves. But they are fodder for a tyrannical leader. But ones as good as Caesar or Augustus (or Cromwell) are rare. They’re more likely to get the kind of run-of-the-mill tyrants who run Latin America and Africa.

      1. FM, I find myself once again disagreeing with you. I happen to correspond with one of the members of the “Yellow Vest” movement on a regular basis. We actually typically correspond on other areas where we share mutual interest but he has mentioned, several times, in the recent past what he has been doing with the Yellow Jackets. He tells me that the atmosphere within the movement is not one of rage against the system or of anticipation of violence used to force the system to change. It is, I suspect something uniquely French, a more or less semi-permanent weekly piece a street theater which the authorities cannot prevent or control to keep the issues they raise from being forgotten altogether but without expectation of changing the system by themselves.

        They are waiting for circumstances (which they are absolutely certain exist, but cannot and will not even attempt to prove that they exist) to come together to force the authorities to view them as allies instead of enemies. At that moment, they expect the political situation in France (not particularly caring about the rest of the world) to become extremely fluid and they will stand a good chance of getting most of what they want. Apparently there is a great deal of bickering within the movement about which things they most want and what they are willing to sacrifice to get it.

        I will close my note by recognizing the weakness of my argument by resting it on off-hand comments of a single person writing a few sentences about a large movement when he is not a leader of it or even as the primary point of our long running discussions on matters of astronomy and physics written by a person not using their native language.

        But I will share with you that he is a very intelligent, well-educated, and empathic. Furthermore I have found him to be remarkable emotionally flexible compared to the average American intellectual so I am more inclined to believe him than a lot of political analysis generated on this side of the Atlantic. All I can hear and see in reading that political analysis is the grinding (and sharpening) of axes that are intended to be used on this side of the ocean in ways that I doubt have anything to do with what is going on in France.

      2. Pluto,

        “I happen to correspond with one of the members of the “Yellow Vest” movement on a regular basis.”

        IMO experience, that’s like asking a cab driver about the state of America. You can ask a dozen people in the Occupy or Tea Party movements about it – and get 6 to 20 answers. What people say they’re doing and thinking has only a vague connection to reality. Only well-constructed surveys can provide definitive answers. Lacking those, watch what they do collectively.

        “He tells me that the atmosphere within the movement is not one of rage against the system ”

        Why is this “disagreeing” with me? I’ve said nothing remotely like that.

        More important, no matter what your friend says, the movement has burnt out. Public support is a small fraction of at peak, and the numbers are tiny. That’s what matters.

      3. FM: “Also see my posts about this movement. I nailed it early – that they would flame out fast – when the mainstream media gurus were writing how this would send France into flames.

        As for what they are looking for, I agree. They are unhappy but appear incapable of organization – and so can’t help themselves. But they are fodder for a tyrannical leader. ”

        FM, you asked what I disagreed with about your post and I am responding.

        The first disagreement was about the early motives of the movement. As far as I can tell, reading original sources within the movement, they never expected the original surge in popularity and most of the more responsible spokespeople for the moment tried to downplay the mainstream media gurus comments about “sending France into flames.”

        For that matter, I can only note that the mainstream media has successfully forecast roughly 10,000 of the last 5 major protest movements. Their payment comes from hitting their readers/viewers negative emotions hard and that’s what they do far too frequently because they are not actually in the business of analysis or prediction, they are in the business of scaring people, particularly politicians, and are not paid to consider the consequences. So they don’t. As a result, I do not feel that you can lay any blame on the movement for the comments made by the mainstream media.

        On the second point, they are not interested in actually moving the government to react to their concerns because they do not believe they have the numbers or the freedom to act in a way that will predictably lead to such a consequence. They have always accepted this and have chosen to go in a street theater direction instead. As near as I can tell (which is difficult because of distance, language, and profound differences in ways of thinking) they are constantly evaluating the circumstances around them and are trying to avoid becoming fodder for a tyrannical leader. Quite the opposite, in fact, they believe that a tyrannical leader would be a far bigger problem in the long run than the current government.

        While the French people MIGHT have had enough experience over the last 400 years with tyrants to know what they are doing in this case; I am very uncomfortable with that theory. It takes only one mistake… But at least they are specifically looking out for tyrants and trying to avoid becoming fodder for them which shows that the movement is at least one step ahead of the usual in their thinking on this very important matter and might save the day yet… (or at least slow it down)

      4. Pluto,

        You misinterpret the nature of the Yellow Vests movement. It has no “spokespeople”. Just individual that speak. And are often denounced for presuming to speak for the movement. This has been a problem for the government: nobody to negotiate with.

        It is a movement in the vaguest sense, without organization. So it is just making stuff up to speak of “its goals.” What few surveys have been done show participants’ motives and goals to be heterogenous – and have changed as the movement has collapsed in size (probably the remaining ones differ from people in the large initial crowds).

    2. FM: “You misinterpret the nature of the Yellow Vests movement. It has no “spokespeople”. Just individual that speak. And are often denounced for presuming to speak for the movement.”

      Although I am not tough enough to post a public list of my biggest Fails and Smackdowns (probably running closer to Infinity than your count), I do my best to acknowledge when other people state something more accurately or more elegantly than I do.

      You did both in the sentences above, thank you. I stand by the accuracy of my comments on the media though (at least until you show me the error of my ways). As I mentioned earlier, the physical distance is not as far as the differences in viewpoints between myself and the “Yellow Vests.”

  7. FM: “My next post will be depressing beyond anything I have ever written, admitting that the very foundation of the FM website project was flawed. But there is always a next inning. I have few useful ideas, but will continue looking for them.”

    I am both sorry and glad to hear this FM.

    Back in your original posts, you and I had a long, very slow debate over the current state of America. I had maintained from the beginning that we were already beyond the point of no return, which you argued was a cheap cop-out (probably not your exact words but close enough). You had a more valiant viewpoint and inspired me to act as you recommended and I, in turn, inspired others to act as you recommended.

    I find myself disagreeing with your assessment of the original foundation of the FM website. It was NOT flawed. It was an experiment to determine the status of the America. Based on my experience and what I’ve seen, you’ve had a far greater and better impact than you will ever know, and I believe I speak for at least a thousand other people (who should but won’t speak) when I say that we cannot tell you how much we respect your decision (and the endless amount of work that followed) to create the Fabius Maximus website. Regardless of what comes, it will have been a basis for people to see the better side of themselves and and their history and may serve as a beacon towards a better future (found in our almost-forgotten past).

    But I am also going to argue, FM, that your analysis is once again, flawed. The proper way to view the current/future state of America has never been binary between success and failure. I suspect it never has been, but I was too caught up in my original pessimistic vision of the future to see it. You were the one who shook me out of that, even if you didn’t understand what you were doing. There is at least one more way than success and failure of the American dream of a confident, self-reliant people and government and that is reinvention. I’m sure there are many paths within the framework of reinvention that we cannot see from this current vantage point that will become clear as we move forward (which we have no choice but to do because the consequences of inaction at this stage are so visible and so appalling that I refuse to consider it).

    I hope you find enough sustainence in my words to continue to do your best to lead us in a better direction because I do not have the strength of will or the positive vision by myself to continue the struggle toward the best possible outcome alone. Please, as always, let me know what I can do to help.

    Your (occasionally) humble servant,
    Pluto

    1. Pluto: “I am both sorry and glad to hear this FM.”

      I should clarify this comment. I always suspected that I would one day read that you were acknowledging the failure of your effort to rekindle the American spirit in the same way it was kindled in 1776, 1861, and even 1963. I feared that you would simply stop writing (always the easiest thing to do) and be done with it. So I am sorry that you have finally reached the end of your efforts in that direction but am increasingly glad that you have not given up the fight altogether.

      You have won a large cadre of people who are at least willing to read what you write and that it no small feat in these times. I look forward to your next post and its direction!

      1. Pluto,

        “You have won a large cadre of people who are at least willing to read what you write”

        As my coauthors have said many many times, I could have a far larger audience if I colored between the lines and provided info-tainment – like pretty much everybody else. But I’m attempting to strike sparks. In that quixotic quest, I have gained large audiences many times — happy readers watching me fire at the other team. Then I’ve blown them up when I turn my fire on their sacred cows. My co-authors consider this quite mad. They’re correct, of course.

        I’d rather have a dozen readers who act to reform America based on what I what – perhaps in ways that I find objectionable (within limits) – than the one to million hits we get now. In fact, I know of at least one reader like that. He’s young. A few score like him, working together, might start waves that change the course of America.

      2. FM, I’ve also been looking over old records (for about 15 minutes in my case) and I can see what you mean. I hadn’t even been aware that OldSkeptic was female (not that it makes a difference).

        The key things that I remember about OldSkeptic were:
        1) An absolute willingness to call out BS if she thought she saw it (admittedly, her accuracy rate was not at all good)
        2) You may argue that I was better than her 80% of the time (and I’m sure she was a MAJOR thorn in your side, especially when she went off half-cocked in a strange direction) but there were two profound things that I remember about your exchanges with her.
        a) Every once in a while she was profoundly correct and those were her absolutely best moments.
        b) You (almost) always kept your cool and actually addressed her issues. You may have troubles believing it but that was the first time I found an internet site host willing to accept that they might be wrong and NOT use the “because I’m king here and I said so” policy to shut down somebody arguing against them on their site by sabotaging their access to the public side of the site.

        I had been increasingly unhappy about the state of argument and discussion on the internet when I found you about 6-8 years ago. Things seem to me to have gotten at least a small amount better since that time and I cannot help but believe (probably erroneously) that your willingness to serve as a role model on how to do better has been at least a small part of that. It would certainly be true if there was any justice left in the Internet.

        Your arguments with OldSkeptic and her occasional moments of stunning clarity of vision were part of what motivated me off the sidelines and to always seek to do my best in writing comments on this website because the two of you showed me what the future COULD be if only we could be rational, and at least occasionally clear-sighted and what could happen if we actually seek to overcome our huge differences in experience and viewpoints (rather use those same differences as weapons to prove to our homeys that we’re know how to score points off the other side that that won’t understand) and to turn the Internet into a classroom and a true advanced learning experience.

        I cannot thank you enough for that and I’ve been seeking to spread that message in my own small ways ever since.

      3. Pluto,

        (1) “An absolute willingness to call out BS if she thought she saw it”

        No. Oldskeptic stated liberal pieties with absolute certainty, and “called out” those who disagreed. Standard leftist tactics: little logic or data, just loud voices to shout down dissent. As in Animal Farm, the sheep shouted “Two legs bad, four legs good” to end debate. The classic tactics usually work well, unless an extraordinary level of effort is mustered to fight them.

        I suggest that your progress is shown by moving beyond admiration of such things.

        (2) Oldskeptic said she is a guy to girl transgender.

        (3) “the state of argument and discussion on the internet …seem to me to have gotten at least a small amount better since that time”

        Unfortunately not so. I talk to several operators of major websites. All agree that managing comment threads has become more difficult. Some (eg, Naked Capitalism) just moderate out dissenting voices. Some (Marginal Revolution, WUWT) have had formerly brilliant comment threads descend to mostly schoolyard taunts. Nobody that I’ve seen has found a solution.

    2. Pluto,

      “I had maintained from the beginning that we were already beyond the point of no return,”

      Two of the core rules of the FM website projects are that I would say what I saw to the best of my ability – and admit my errors. Many people – including Lind and you – said my optimism was delusional. Now it looks to me like you guys were right, and I was wrong. Not the first time I’ve had to say that (it was the 236th time; see the Fails and Smackdowns Page for the big ones, but certainly the largest such correction.

      This post I’m writing – and its description of “what now” for the FM website project – are proving difficult to write. My current guess is that I’ll write about how to prepare, and speculate (guess) about the next few chapters in America’s story.

      People like Lind (in Victoria) write about what lies beyond the coming singularity. That’s too speculative for my taste. Such things tend to be doomsterism or wish fulfillment. Many people find such things useful or entertaining, of course.

      1. FM: I went to your “Fails and Smackdowns” page and noted that you mentioned OldSkeptic as the primary source. This is well-chosen. I had completely forgotten about him in the intervening years but he was a major source of inspiration to me to respond to you and his arguments were, in my opinion, much better formed than mine at the time. I was surprised to see his screen name but I should not have been.

        I say again: Well done!!

      2. Pluto,

        That’s sad to read. Most of Oldskeptic’s comments – 80%? – were illogical or outright false (e.g., almost all of hers about climate change). This was, as I explained, quite obvious at the time. As was her bizarre belief in her mastery of so many fields (issuing royal-like verdicts), her utter inability to provide supporting evidence for her opinions, and her disdain for science. Lots of examples for that last point. Such as here. This was typical:

        “So when you read all those psychology/sociology/etc reports …they are usually crap.” (link)

        Looking back, her pronouncements have not aged well. This is typical: nine predictions. Twelve years later, all false. Also:

        “DU from exploded munitions is a potentially a major problem and we are just starting to see the effects.” (Said 11 years ago, still no evidence of serious effects.)

        Here’s another prediction, now two years past its 2017 deadline. No signs of panic in the general public. Climate change ranks very low in survey’s of the public’s concerns.

        “I’ll just make a US$100 bet with you. That by Sept 2017 (5 years) you will change your mind. If by then you haven’t, then I’ll pony up. We can inflation adjust the $100 if you want. This is about in line with my prediction (here and elsewhere) a few years ago that ‘in 10 years everyone will panic’. So 5 years is roughly in line with that time frame.” (link)

        Her comments are littered with weirdo statements, based on her belief that she is the definition of wisdom and truth.

        “To repeat my comment when I was 11 years of age … anyone who burns coal, or gas or oil to generate mass electricity is a moron.” (link)

        But she made a few good points, amidst the greater nonsense. One of the FM website’s cardinal rules was to take each comment on its own merits, and reply accordingly. I believe my replies to Oldskeptic’s comments were a severe test, which I look back on with some pride (amidst the overall failure of the project, in part due to my limited skills).

      3. Pluto,

        “he was a major source of inspiration to me to respond to you and his arguments were, in my opinion, much better formed than mine at the time.”

        I’ve looked back over the comments. With the benefit of hindsight, I would say the opposite: you should have been an inspiration for her, your arguments better expressed and supported than hers. Oldskeptic’s major stock in trade was certainty of expression (w/o evidence).

  8. Excellent post. It brings to mind a story Ben Stein recounts in a book on saving for retirement (Yes, You Can Still Retire Comfortably!). According to Stein:

    In 1915, Ernest Shackleton’s boat Endurance became trapped and finally crushed by Antarctic ice, stranding him and his 27 men many thousands of miles from home without their boat, on an ice floe. They had certain knowledge that no one was coming to rescue them. So, in a shining moment of leadership, Shackleton gathered his freezing crew and announced, “We are our own rescue party.”

    I can’t vouch for the veracity of the story, but it is a great story either way.

    1. Dalrock,

      That’s a great story! I’ll use it. It’s bogus, of course. But as Lt. Colonel Doolittle said in Pearl Harbor (2001):

      “That’s bull-shit …but it’s very good bull-shit.”

      That too is a bogus quote. But like yours, it is a very good one.

      This is one of a long series of posts attempting to inspire Americans to cast off their apathy and re-take the reins of America. At this point I don’t care who acts, those on the left or right. But these posts get the lowest traffic of any on the FM website. It’s a different tone than my usual ones, but no more successful.

      I’d like to see you try your hand at this. I’ll bet you’d be more successful.

  9. Very seldom comment here, but always stop by. I’d like to thank you for the years of pissing me off, and making me stop and think “what the hell DO ( and should) I think about the topic at hand?”

    I am hoping you continue on in some form, and I will continue to do what I can at the local level.

    they say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Maybe one day soon, your message will resonate widely, resulting in real action.

  10. I recently read Tunnel in the Sky by Heinlein, a juvenile adventure work with overriding themes of independence and self-sufficiency.

    1. Sun Tzu,

      To see how America has changed, compare Heinlein’s young adult science fiction stories from the 1950s with young adult novels sold today. We are raising children with different values and a different perspective. I doubt these prepare kids for the world, let along to be citizens of a Republic, as Heinlein’s did.

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