Friday Night Open Thread: Dystopias, All the Way Down

We’re a kakistocracy now:

146 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Apparently, Charles Pierce thinks every time Trump does something outrageous, he’s winning.

    So I guess if you’re bothering to fight, don’t bother?

  2. 2
    Sab says:

    So if I ever meet Jimmy Carter in real life, instead of asking him something intelligent, I will probably ask him about the air on a submarine. Sigh.

    Now that I think about it, I have never actually met anyone who served on a sub.

  3. 3

    I wonder who the people are who don’t think we’re living in a SciFi future. If you had told me 20 years ago that current day me would own a robotic vacuum cleaner and that my next car would likely to be electric and be able to drive itself, I wouldn’t have believed you. Hell, compare a cell phone with a tricorder, and the cell phone comes out pretty well in the comparison.

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  5. 5


    Now that I think about it, I have never actually met anyone who served on a sub.

    That you know of. It’s entirely possible that someone you have met casually- or even not so casually- has served on a sub without you knowing about it. I know that several people I know served on subs, at least briefly. I knew a bunch of people in Navy ROTC when I was in college, and most of them spent at least one of their summers on a sub. At least one went on to serve in subs after graduation, which was crazy because he was 6′ 7″ and had to lie about his height to meet the height requirements.

  6. 6
    Another Scott says:

    Another day ending in “y”. But things are slowly coming to a head and Donnie isn’t going to like it one bit.

    TheHill: House Oversight chair plans to subpoena 10 years of Trump financial records.

    Go Rep. Elijah!

    TheHill: Schumer is talking a lot with Abrams:

    Stacey Abrams says Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been “relentless but thoughtful” as he’s tried to persuade the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate to run for Senate next year against incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R).

    “He has been relentless but thoughtful, and I mean it in this way: He has asked me what I need to see,” Abrams told BuzzFeed in an interview published Friday. “He’s answered the questions that I have about the role, about how I would fit into a Senate, whether it’s the majority or the minority.”

    Abrams said she believes Democrats will win back the chamber in the 2020 election and that Schumer, who is expected to be majority leader if his party wins control, has been “very creative about ways that I can add to the body politic, should I be in the office. But he also said, you know, ‘The timetable is yours.’ ”


    Eyes on the prize.


  7. 7
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Sab: It’s funny, but one of my closest friends, and my son-in-law, have both served on subs, and someone I’d put more in “acquaintance” than “friend” was commanding officer of one.

  8. 8
    Jerzy Russian says:


    So if I ever meet Jimmy Carter in real life, instead of asking him something intelligent, I will probably ask him about the air on a submarine.

    Wasn’t there some kind of minor scandal involving President Carter’s brother? Standards have definitely slipped since then.

  9. 9
    Achrachno says:

    Ah, so the problem might be hereditary. Bad seed.

  10. 10
    Jerzy Russian says:


    Now that I think about it, I have never actually met anyone who served on a sub.

    Now that I think about it, a former office mate served on a sub.

  11. 11
    Sab says:

    @Roger Moore: No one who has actually mentionned it. Seems odd, because there should be a lot of them. But I am not near a coast. Husband served in Coast Guard, but that’s all surface water and air as far as I can tell.

  12. 12
    Matthew J. McIrvin says:

    On Wednesday (coincidentally the day they released the picture of the supermassive black hole) we went to see Muse at TD Garden. I can report that if you’re upset that we got all the crap aspects of a William Gibson cyberpunk dystopia but not the cool bits, the cool bits are basically just Muse’s latest tour; go see them and you’re good.

  13. 13
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    @Baud: Russia/Republicans lost the midterms by 9,743,703 votes.

    So much winning.

  14. 14
    Sab says:

    @Jerzy Russian: Wasn’t he a good old boy who drank too much beer? We got one of those on the Supreme Court now, and I never heard that Billy Carter raped anyone.

  15. 15
    Mary G says:

    @Roger Moore: I know. If you had told me when I was little that I could carry around a tiny device, order up any book from the library or that I could afford to buy anywhere on the planet, I would have thought I was in heaven. Amazon, corporate monster they may be, has enabled me to buy most anything I need and find it on the doorstep a day or two later.

  16. 16
    Wapiti says:

    @Sab: I worked with a guy who was a submariner. He told a tale of coming back from a cruise (6 months iirc) and being sent up into the conning tower when the sub surfaced and made its way into port. They were off Los Angeles or someplace, and he thought the city just reeked, even offshore. Then he realized that it was the updraft of the air from inside the sub that he was smelling; the air that he had lived in for the last half year.

    I think he also said that some submariners don’t take their uniforms from a cruise back into their homes because it’s impossible to get rid of the funk.

  17. 17
    Baud says:

    @Mary G:

    When we were little, could we have imagined being inundated by so many awesome pictures and videos of dogs and cats and other animals?

  18. 18
    zhena gogolia says:


    That’s about the size of it.

  19. 19

    A surprising number of veterans don’t talk a lot about their service. For example, I always knew that my uncle had served in the army, but it wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I found out what he did in the army*. A lot of people are like that. They’re more than happy to put their time in the military behind them when they get out, and they won’t bring it up unless they’re prompted.

    *He was in signals and worked in some way with encrypted transmissions. I’m still not 100% sure if he was sending encrypted data for our side or capturing enemy transmissions, but I know he doesn’t just know Morse code but can rapidly and accurately send and receive gibberish in Morse.

  20. 20
    geg6 says:

    Personally, I kinda feel like we’re right on the edge of living in Panem-Gilead and the first annual Hunger Games will be held pitting Handmaids against various minority majority Districts. And there’s no Katniss because now she’s called Ofpeeta and is too busy being raped and forced to give birth to save us all.

  21. 21
    Nicole says:

    @Sab: My uncle served in the Navy in the early 1960s- he told me he desperately wanted to be assigned to a submarine and was really disappointed when he wasn’t. Then he finally had the chance to tour a submarine and the moment he got off it he said, “Dear God, thank you very much that I wasn’t assigned to a submarine.” He echoed what Wapiti said about the stench.

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  23. 23
    oatler. says:

    I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream

  24. 24
    Anne Laurie says:


    Now that I think about it, I have never actually met anyone who served on a sub.

    IIRC, there’s at least one commentor — Ruckus? — who did so. He did not seem to have enjoyed the experience much, and the smell of others’ sweat in a crowded closed vessel was one feature that ranked high.

  25. 25
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    We joined the Navy to see the world,
    And what did we see? We saw the sea!

    That’s the original, from 1936. But in my days we continued

    We joined the Navy to see the world
    And we were assigned to a submarine…

    in those days of months-long all-underwater cruises on boomers…

  26. 26
    Baud says:


    I prefer Harry Potter.

  27. 27
    Nicole says:

    @Roger Moore:

    A surprising number of veterans don’t talk a lot about their service.

    Boy, that’s the truth. Both my grandfathers were WWII veterans and neither of them would talk about their service, although my paternal grandfather never missed any film or TV thing about WWII. But he preferred to watch them by himself. The last one he saw was Saving Private Ryan, and he wouldn’t let anyone watch it with him; he had my aunt drop him off at the theater and pick him up afterwards. After my maternal aunt, my last relative on that side, died, and I went through her possessions, I found out my maternal grandfather had been awarded 2 Bronze Stars for his service during the war. I had no idea.

  28. 28
    Sab says:

    @Anne Laurie: Thank you for reminding me.

    Ruckus is up there in my top five commenters.

    I knew he was Navy. Didn’t realize he was on submarines.

  29. 29
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Roger Moore: The future of classic science fiction revolves around SPAAAAACE (not machines in space but mighty astronauts, commuters and colonists) and super-fast, super-powerful transport in general. I figure that’s because, when the Anglo-American science-fiction genre really became a thing, transportation was in an exponential boom phase and it seemed like it was never going to stop. Progress shouldered over into a plateau right around 1970, right around people landing on the moon. It took about a decade for anyone to really notice: I guess the 1973 oil shock was an early warning but wild space colonization proposals were mainstream through the disco era.

    And if you go back and read Neuromancer you’ll see that even that central cyberpunk novel has all this grandiose space stuff in it, though people seem to remember it today as a moment when the emphasis shifted away from that. But in the late 20th century we got information and communication technology having the explosion while transportation sort of stagnated, except inasmuch as it could benefit from information technology.

  30. 30
    geg6 says:


    So do I, but The Boy Who Lived and Dumbledore aren’t anywhere to be seen these days.

  31. 31
    Jeffro says:

    Just a quick note that trumpov is basically calling all Dems TREASONOUS (and the FBI too) and is egging on violent attacks against an American Congresswoman while his henchmen defy actual, you know, LAWS and stuff.

    We are here, peeps. Time for the Dem candidates to stop for a second and co-sign onto a message that this is unacceptable, unethical, illegal, un-American, and no matter who wins the nomination, it’s long past time for Americans to put a stop to the lawbreaking of this criminal gang.

  32. 32
    Gravenstone says:

    @Sab: I used to work with a former submariner. Loudest motherfucker I’ve ever had the displeasure of being around. We all joked that he was making up for all those times he had to be quiet while underway.

  33. 33
    Baud says:


    You can take solace in The Baud! Who Lived!

  34. 34
    khead says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I agree with everything but the car that is “able to drive itself”. I’m still a bit Atrios on that one. Plus, I want my fucking flying Jetsons car that I was promised.

  35. 35
    Sab says:

    @Nicole: I have issues with claustrophobia, so maybe I just tuned all the submarine stuff out. I feel the same about John Cole in tanks.

  36. 36
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Another Scott: I swear I feel more excitement about an Abrams Senate race than any of the current primary candidates

  37. 37
    Cacti says:

    That’s right.

    In our “nation of laws”, a sitting U.S. Appellate Judge can retire to avoid investigation of ongoing tax fraud she committed while a member of the bench, with her brother, the sitting President of the United States.

    Since the election of Trump, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that our country’s best days are behind it.

  38. 38
    Martin says:

    @Sab: My dad served on a sub. Decided that submarines were preferable to going to Vietnam. Spent a year and a half on an old WWII diesel sub, and 2 ½ on a nuclear attack sub. Spent a lot of time running around the north Atlantic chasing Soviet missile subs.

    Given the friends of his that went to Nam and never returned, he says it wasn’t a bad experience, but there’s a degree of terrifying about it. Overall I think he took a lot of positive from the experience. As a result my godparents served on subs, as well as a lot of family friends. If you ran into them in day to day life, you’d probably never realize they served on subs. Among other things, my dad said that a huge amount of what they did he couldn’t talk about, so it was just easier to never even bring up that part of his life.

  39. 39
    B.B.A. says:

    a healthy nation would have impeached this clown, and then threw the goddamn book at him for every single corrupt action he's done. a healthy nation would have Trump rotting in jail, for everything from tax fraud to obstruction to abuse of power

    this would also cause mass riots — Atticus Goldfinch (@AtticusGF) April 12, 2019

    in other words, the only actions that would convince me that this nation is even remotely close to being functional would also convince the other half of the country that the nation is beyond repair. we're fucked, folks. — Atticus Goldfinch (@AtticusGF) April 12, 2019

  40. 40
    Keith P. says:

    @Gravenstone: I would have laid Sean Connery-accented sub commands on him ad nauseum until he had enough and left.

  41. 41
    Aleta says:

    A friend of my father’s when they were boys in Ontario is still around, and whenever I see him he tells me the story of coming in to Eastport Maine on a US Navy sub in thick, thick fog, on July 4th in the 60s. There’s a very long narrow channel (dug in the 1800s) that they had to navigate, and 20 foot tides. Because of the fog he says that lobstermen had to get them through the channel. (There’s a tradition of a Navy ship docking at Eastport for the 4th.) I just looked it up and found this written about that day :
    The sub fought in the Pacific during WW2.

  42. 42
    Nicole says:

    @Sab: I empathize. The idea of a submarine doesn’t freak me out, on account of being petite, myself (my uncle is 6′ and had to crouch when he toured), but I am plenty claustrophobic in the right circumstance. I had my first MRI a couple of weeks ago and that was… not pleasant. The closest I’ve been to actually panicking in a long time.

  43. 43
    Sab says:

    There is something seriously wrong with our vetting process when a Federal judge serving 20 years in a lifetime appointment can’t withstand minimal scrutiny. Where was this scrutiny when she was appointed. We have seen in the last year that basically there is none. “Do you have a valid law license in some state” seems to be the current standard.

    To be blunt, that is a very very low bar.

  44. 44
    RAVEN says:

    So I get home from the conference and I’m watching the Masters and one of my neighbors comes to the door and says the guy next door is standing on his front porch naked and yelling. The dude has a history of bizarre behavior but, in 20 years, I’ve never felt threatened ( I did one tell him after a particularly drunken verbal assault on me that he’d better never do anything like that to me again) I thought it over for a second an went over and said “Hey man, you OK? You can’t just stand out here naked, someone is going to call the cops”> He went right back in the house and closed his door. Ten minutes later he was back out there doing the same shit. I ruminated for a minute and decided to call the non-emergency police number. I talked with them for a while and neighbor kept going in and out doing the same stuff. I was very clear that I saw no threatening behavior or weapons involved but I was at a loss as what else I could do. They sent a couple of squads and they talked to him for quite a while but didn’t arrest him. I’d walked to the eatery down the street and about 10 minutes later here he came with no shoes or shirt, pants falling off and fly wide open. He sat down a one of the outdoor tables and began chatting away with them. I strolled over and asked him how he was doing and he said “Oh I’m great, everything is fine”. I said, “man, you are scaring people with this and you can’t be jumping around with no clothes on with kids and shit up and down the street. “Oh, it was only for 10 minutes or so and there were no kids around” I talked to him for a bit and he finally split. We’ve worried about him for years and don’t really know what to do short of calling the cops again and I really don’t want to. I’m thinking about catching him when he’s better and seriously trying to get him to tell me what’s going on. It seems like acid but I really don’t know and some times think he’s schizophrenic.

  45. 45
    Raven says:

    @Martin: I knew a guy who was on the one that surfaced off Honolulu and cut the Japanese experiment boat in half.

  46. 46

    For my money this is the best Noah Smith tweet on that topic:

  47. 47
    khead says:


    Same here. No chance I could work in a tank, sub, or coal mine. Runs in the family. Dad worked ONE shift in a coal mine and that was it.

  48. 48
    J R in WV says:


    Now that I think about it, I have never actually met anyone who served on a sub.

    I never served on a sub, but I was on a sub-tender, for the USN’s last squadron of diesel boats. They did NOT smell good. I hope the nuke boats, which I was never on, smell better. My nephew is a junior officer in the USN, just completed nuke school, going to sub school now. Hope his air smells OK.

  49. 49
    Aleta says:

    @Martin: Maybe the same sub that your father was on. It too was WW2. According to the specs it was diesel, and was in the N Atlantic for a long time.

  50. 50
    Sab says:

    @Nicole: @Nicole: My husband, 6’2″ formerly Coast Guard, can’ t do any enclosed MRI without being knocked out completely. He can do the open ones if sufficiently drugged. Which is weird, because he’s pretty feisty fearless in real life, as long as nobody encloses him.

    He’s white, but Black Lives Matter should find a way to look at those stats. So should the rest of us supporting them. Normal people have triggering intrusion levels. Stuff they do that freaks you out and shouldn’t be legal. But it is.

  51. 51
    Aleta says:

    @RAVEN: That’s a rough call. Does he have family you can contact?

  52. 52
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Roger Moore: Well they are called the silent service.

    At least one went on to serve in subs after graduation, which was crazy because he was 6′ 7″ and had to lie about his height to meet the height requirements.

    Did he think no one would notice if he told everyone he was 5’7?

  53. 53

    OT, but it’s an open thread…I may have mentioned that Madame and the kid went on a cruise. When I picked up Madame at LAX she mentioned that this was a bit of drama concerning the kid and her father(Madame’s ex). She told her father(remember the kid is 35) that she was going on the cruise with a friend, she didn’t tell him that that friend was her mother. Well he found out and was quite upset. The kid spent and extra week in Floriduh for a music festival that she’s always wanted to go to and had a great time. So she visits her father and he’s still pissed about it, he wants her to take them(he and his current wife) on a cruise too(Madame paid for her ticket) AND he wants her to start supporting them since she’s got so much money that she can travel, like the kids of the other parents do at their church. Now the kid doesn’t speak Korean that well and her father speaks English even worse(I spoke to him briefly on the phone about 25 years ago), so he wants to have a family meeting with the kid’s sister as a translator(last I heard, he and the other daughter weren’t speaking again). So the kid’s all upset, her mother basically told her to tell him to fuck off or this would never end.

  54. 54
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    It seems like acid but I really don’t know and some times think he’s schizophrenic.

    Either way, it’s extremely troubling. The poor guy. I hope he can get whatever help he needs for whatever demons he’s wrestling. Poor guy.

  55. 55
    Mary G says:

    @RAVEN: Hard situation. I had a neighbor like that years ago; he was going to law school and I called the school and they did something, because he was gone two days later. It’s really frustrating that you don’t want to call the cops in case one of them is a trigger-happy sociopath who might kill him.

  56. 56
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: It isn’t an issue of giving up. There is a lot of incremental damage being done. And we need to be aware of it and recognize it and not wave it away. At the same time there’s a lot of stuff that is working. States like California and NY and Massachusetts and Washington and Colorado and Maryland, where either the governor is a Democrat, the legislature has a Democratic majority, or both are not just holding the line, or various lines, they’re actively pushing back and combatting the insanity and the degradation. All giving up means is that the President, his enablers, his hand picked agents, and his supporters win by default.

  57. 57
    Martin says:

    @Aleta: He was on the Croaker until it was decommissioned.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Martin says:

    @J R in WV: Per my dad the nukes were generally better. The diesel got VERY stale and because it was so much smaller than the nuke, and had the diesels, was generally stuffier and smellier. That said, when he first went in he was regularly get observation duty on the sail which meant he was outside. Granted, it was often -20 up there around Iceland, but all the same, he was outside. According to him it was best during rough seas because the waves would wash the puke away, unlike down below.

    But the nuke is designed to stay under for months. So less fresh air, but the nuclear reactor allowed for a lot better processing of the air, it didn’t have the diesel, and it was less cramped. And since it could stay under and dive deeper, it just cruised under the storms so it was a lot easier on the crew.

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Sab: Yep, shirts with sleeves go much better with the overalls he likes to wear.

  61. 61
    japa21 says:

    So far back in time it almost seems like a different life, I was the major of the housewares department in one of Chicago’s department stores. Included in those duties was managing the major appliance department. One of the salesmen I was over had served in the navy during WWII as a lieutenant on a submarine. The interesting part is that it was the Italian navy.

  62. 62
    M31 says:

    Met a guy who was the captain of a nuclear sub, back in the 80s — his duty shift was 100 days on, 100 days off, and they were on total broadcast silence when on, since they were the MAD nuclear deterrent. He told me this story of a visit to the sub by a high-up guy who happened to be black, and the fucking dinner they all were served was fried chicken and watermelon. He (the captain) was pissed off, but still laughing about it. LOL now I wonder if the high-up guy was Colin Powell.

  63. 63
    Martin says:

    @RAVEN: Sounds like an old neighbor of ours. Cool guy, but he was schizophrenic. Normally you’d never know, but the meds need to be adjusted now and then. He go in front of his place and build a little shrine out of knick-knacks and yell odd things. He’d go to the grocery store half clothed, pick up his groceries and just wander out without paying. He was a large black man, so everyone was a bit afraid of him, but he was really a very sweet guy. We’d work with him during these periods. Told the manager of the grocery store to just call us and we’d come over and help out and pay for his stuff. We’d keep the police notified. And after the first incident we got the number of his sister who we could inform and she’d come help him out – though she was some distance so couldn’t keep an eye on him all the time.

    Takes a village.

  64. 64
    raven says:

    @Aleta: Nah, his folks live a long way away and I hope his wife isn’t there. There are 3 squads over there now as he was throwing shit in the street and ripping siding of the house across the street.

  65. 65
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Jeffro: Warren, Sanders and Inslee have all denounced Trump’s hatemongering against Ilhan Omar.

  66. 66
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    one of Chicago’s department stores

    Field’s or CPS?

  67. 67
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Except that Japanese corporations don’t run absolutely everything, which is what they usually imagined–no Japanese Lost Decade, no ongoing malaise.

  68. 68
    eemom says:


    I had my first MRI a couple of weeks ago and that was… not pleasant. The closest I’ve been to actually panicking in a long time.

    I thought I was gonna panic, but when the technician pointed out that I COULD just crawl out of the thing if I needed to I felt a lot better.

    Didn’t know there were closed ones. I could NOT do that.

  69. 69
    japa21 says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Field’s. Another one of the people who I supervised ended up being Mrs. Japa. Actually, so there is no confusion, it was one of the suburban stores.

  70. 70
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: wattayou got against Wieboldt’s and Montgomery Ward’s?
    ETA: Damn. Goldblatt’s. I was reaching for Goldblatt’s. Had to go to Wiki to jog my memory.

  71. 71
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    japa21 says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: She knew I would only work for the very best.

  73. 73
    Mike in NC says:

    I was in a couple of LANTFLT reserve staff units, and the submariners did say that the stuff they wore underway had to be trashed. Apparently cigarette smoke was a major factor.

  74. 74
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    My brother worked for the Wieboldt’s in Oak Park for a couple of years. I was the third generation of my family to work in the book department of Marshall Field’s (State Street store) as well as the third generation to sing in the Marshall Field Choral Society :-)

  75. 75
    Philbert says:

    There is a Russian Foxtrot-class diesel submarine in Victoria BC open for tours, pretty big, 262 feet. I’m 5-10 and had to duck constantly to move through it. It had a cold salt water shower, and the men got 5 min a day up top. After a six month cruise they went to a navy port, which was described more as an asylum, for a month to decompress. Gawd.

  76. 76
    Nicole says:


    I thought I was gonna panic, but when the technician pointed out that I COULD just crawl out of the thing if I needed to I felt a lot better.

    Oh… had I been aware of that I might have relaxed a bit. When I was gliding into the machine all I could think of was a crematorium and I really started getting anxious. Plus the MRI was of my orbital socket, so not only did I have to keep my eyes closed, I was told to keep my eyeballs still. That’s really hard to do.

  77. 77
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I really hate that Field’s was bought out by Macy’s. That’s just wrong.

  78. 78
    Aleta says:

    A federal court settlement announced on Friday would allow almost 2,700 children living in Central America to safely reunite with their parents, who are living in the United States under protected status.
    The settlement between the families and the Trump administration affects children who had been conditionally approved by the government to join their parents before the White House canceled the Central American Minors program in August 2017.

    The program began under the Obama administration in 2014. It allowed the children of parents who are lawfully in the United States to apply for permanent residency as refugees. Many of those parents hold temporary protected status, which allows migrants from countries that have experienced natural disasters, longstanding unrest or conflict to remain in the United States.

    Without the program, children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras would have had to travel through dangerous conditions to reach the United States border and apply for refugee status.
    … At NYT

  79. 79
    lurker dean says:

    @Matt McIrvin: i’m enraged that neither chuck nor nancy have said anything. the idiot has put a giant target on omar’s back for all the armed lunatic cult members, and they can’t be bothered. fucking spineless. keep writing letters assholes. fuck.

  80. 80
    lgerard says:

    The Spur’s David Robinson was 7′ 1″ when he graduated from the naval Academy and he was in the sub service. They gave him a desk job.

  81. 81
    piratedan says:

    since this is an open thread, is there any possibility/interest of getting a jackal-con arranged in the Seattle Area for the 1st weekend in May?

  82. 82
    japa21 says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I have not been into a Macy’s yet, and will probably never go into one. What irritated a lot of people is that they got rid of a lot of the local management folks and brought in people from New York, because those people understood how to market to a place like Chicago. I am not the only one who refuses to shop there.

  83. 83
    Ohio Mom says:

    @khead: I was over at Boing Boing earlier tonight and one of their posts is about Ford’s CEO admiting they “overestimated the arrival” of self-driving cars, and that when they do arrive, “applications will be narrow…because the problem is so complex.”

    My reaction was, “Duh, dude, if you read Atrios, you’d have known that years ago, it’s one of his big hobby horses.”

  84. 84
    Sab says:

    @Adam L Silverman: He doesn’t ever wear them shirtless, does he? I thought WVA had same standards as Ohio.

  85. 85
    Jager says:

    One of my dads best mechanics was on the Archerfish during its Tokyo Harbor cruise. He was a big guy, the size of an offensive tackle. I ve been aboard the WWII sub in San Francisco and i have no idea how Pinky fit.

  86. 86
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Sab: I emailed Alain earlier and asked:

    Could you change the header on the site to read/display “John Cole’s Better Birds Nests and Hollers” instead of Balloon Juice without alerting him? Or putting your life in jeopardy?

  87. 87
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Roger Moore: As a child, I knew that almost all of the adult men in my life — my father, all six uncles, friends’ fathers — served on WW II but they did not talk about it. And that held mostly true their whole lives.

    As we kids grew older, sometimes they’d tell a little story about something like the food in the army, or the other fellows in their unit (from such exotic places to we NYers as The South) but never, ever, anything about combat.

    Now they are all gone, and their untold stories with them. They never even explained why they didn’t talk.

  88. 88
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Macy’s took over all manner of local department stores. Here in Atlanta, they swallowed up the iconic Rich’s (and the almost-as-iconic Davison’s). As our late lamented EFG would say — FUCKEM!

  89. 89
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: If it makes you feel any better, it’s still the Field Museum of Natural History.


  90. 90
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @mrmoshpotato: Brought to you by Macy’s!

  91. 91
    japa21 says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Second that emotion.

  92. 92
    Bill Arnold says:

    Goofy, fun essay:
    How Filter Bubbles Will Save The World

    Across the economic spectrum, weirdness is getting squeezed. We, as a country, are running down our Strategic Weirdness Reserve. So, please: Form a secret society. Start a conspiracy. Build a weird contraption in your garage. Try out an all-celery diet. Our way of life depends on you.

    I agree, heterogeneity at many scales is one of the strengths of the USA. (Diversity is strength! :-)
    “They said that I’m weird, that I’m ugly, and that I suck
    I knew that one day all of those kids would grow up to be boring as fuck”

  93. 93
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    During Prohibition, my great-grandfather (along with, I’m sure, hundreds of other men) used to have lunch at Field’s in the Walnut Room or Narcissus Room. The waitresses were well aware that when these gentlemen ordered “tea,” they were to be served whiskey in an innocent-looking teacup.

    Good times, good times.

  94. 94
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I know! I go there every time I return to Chicago for a reunion!

  95. 95
    H.E.Wolf says:


    since this is an open thread, is there any possibility/interest of getting a jackal-con arranged in the Seattle Area for the 1st weekend in May?

    Might could be. :)

  96. 96
    khead says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    I know this is unfair, but my standard for believing in autonomous cars is that they have to be able to make the trip from Tazewell, VA to Welch, WV. Maybe your kid’s kid’s kids will see it.

  97. 97
  98. 98
    Sab says:

    @khead: That’s pretty high bar.

  99. 99
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @Adam L Silverman: SUE would eat Macy’s then if they (SUE) wasn’t very very dead.

  100. 100
    Jay says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    As a kid, I got to talk with Mr. Davis, about his WWI Service. He had served 4 years on the Western Front, was gassed twice, and had spent 30 years in a wheelchair, ( nerve damage from nerve gas), and on oxygen ( mustard gas).

    He talked to me because I had no illusions.

  101. 101
    Ohio Mom says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: In Cincinnati, it was the Lazarus department store chain that Macy’s swallowed up.

    One of the Lazarus heirs was still running things when I arrived here in 1979. He and his wife were part of the Jewish aristocracy and very active philanthropists.

    Back then I served on the local arts council board for a while as a representative of emerging and community arts organizations, and I remember Irma Lazarus, also on the board, rushing in to one meeting, just in time, in her fox hunting outfit. What a busy day she was having.

  102. 102
    khead says:


    Yes, yes it is. Atrios worries about the Teslas hitting pedestrians in Philly. I worry about the Teslas going over the side of the mountain on shit roads in the boonies. :)

    Having said that, I do believe I might see some form of autonomous trucks on I-81 before I keel over.

  103. 103
    Mike J says:

    @khead: That’s probably not that bad. Mostly two lane road, not much traffic, very few peds. Yeah, driving mountain roads is different from city driving, but city driving is much, much, much harder, and a better chance of killing other people.

  104. 104
    Jay says:


    I figured it out at the first realworld test of the Google Car. It wandered across the parking lot, missed the exit and high sided on the meridian.

    The Google engineers explained away the failure by noting that unlike the parking lot and exit road, their test track didn’t have potholes, missing marker lines and off camber slumps.

    Self driving cars and trucks will always be a utopian dream as long as Billionaires will spend billions to engineer them but tax dodge every option to avoid paying for road maintenence.

  105. 105
    Ohio Mom says:

    @khead: Lol! Google maps says 33.5 miles in 1 hour, 1 minute.

    And today is good weather. Bet that’s fun in the winter snow. Or during the fall when the deer are flying across the road.

  106. 106
    piratedan says:

    @H.E.Wolf: I am having to travel for bidness purposes and thought it would be nice to meet folks, if folks needed an excuse :-)

  107. 107


    I do believe I might see some form of autonomous trucks on I-81 before I keel over.

    I-80 from Salt Lake to at least Elko is also a good spot for it.

  108. 108
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Jay: Poor guy. He was living that war every day — every labored breath was a reminder.

    I think that for the older men in my life it was a combination of wanting to put the war behind them (they were not a sentimental or nostalgic bunch about anything), protecting the children, and also the sense that it wasn’t “dinner talk”, or in today’s lingo, it would be TMI.

    Their service was something that had to be done — Hitler! — and they weren’t going to glamorize it. I think their recalcitrance was somewhat noble.

  109. 109
    prob50 says:


    I had my first MRI a couple of weeks ago and that was… not pleasant. The closest I’ve been to actually panicking in a long time.

    I had one the other day, but my lower back started to spasm about 8 minutes in so I had to call it off. They’re going to see if they can get what they need from a CT-scan instead.

  110. 110
    Ohio Mom says:

    @piratedan: The way I set up the Cincinnati meet-up was email Anne Laurie and ask her to put up a post. Which she did. You’ll get more possible participants’ attention that way than a comment in a random thread.

    I found her contact info by using the search magnifying glass at the top of the page and typing in “contact a front pager.” But I understand that might not work for everyone, depending on what browser and other technical things beyond my ken.

  111. 111
    Ohio Mom says:

    @khead: Well, Atrios is a pedestrian in Philly, it’s a natural worry for him.

  112. 112
    Jay says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    Mr. Davis talked to me because he knew I had no illusions about the War.

    Mass media started romaticising WWII immediately after the war had started.

    I got to know a bunch of WWII and Korean War veterans through the Seaforth Highlanders formal messes.

    Some of them had their private nightmares that they didn’t share, but most of them only talked about their service with other veterans, because “most people didn’t understand”.

  113. 113
    Inspectrix says:

    Veteran stories can be collected for the Library of Congress project before they are forgotten:

    Also their archives can be searched by name, location, rank, etc.

  114. 114
    prob50 says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    As a child, I knew that almost all of the adult men in my life — my father, all six uncles, friends’ fathers — served on WW II but they did not talk about it. And that held mostly true their whole lives.

    As we kids grew older, hey’d tell a little story about something like the food in the army, or the other fellows in their unit (from such exotic places to we NYers as The South) but never, ever, anything about combat.

    Now they are all gone, and their untold stories with them. They never even explained why they didn’t talk

    I’m pretty sure I know why. My late Uncle Hy was an infantryman in WWII and he never talked about it until he started to suffer from Alzheimer’s. When he was in the dementia state he would be back in the trenches and reliving the awful blood and horror. I was a teenager then but my parents still saw fit to hustle me out of the room once Hy started going into it.

    When he was back to semi-coherency Uncle Hy would just sit there and cry because he was aware of what was happening to him.

  115. 115
    BretH says:

    My grandfather. he didn’t talk about his time in the subs either. Only later did I realize how outrageous it was too have been awarded the Navy Cross – twice.

    He did write a little memoir of his time in the earlier S-boat. One of the stories was of being in Manila for refitting and the next stop was Australia. They got underway and shortly thereafter the electric motor shorted. Turns out a local mechanic who was going on board to the next port did not want to leave the Philippines and had been urinating regularly on the motor. The memoir had a dry comment about how could it have been possible for no-one to notice, answered that it really wasn’t that different from the normal smell of the sub.

  116. 116
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    Both my grandfathers were WWII veterans and neither of them would talk about their service

    My paternal grandfather served in WWII, and He never talked about the war with family until I joined the army. He talked about the army and war to me. As an old school sergeant, he had a lot of very good advice for a new officer, and I was probably the only one of his descendants who had any chance of understanding his experiences. Some of his stories are things I will never share the rest of the family.

  117. 117
    Steeplejack says:

    @piratedan, @Ohio Mom:

    Contact: AnneLaurie.BJ at the Gmail place.

  118. 118
    Aleta says:

    @BretH: A remarkable record. So much to live through. No words are enough to recognize the submariners in the Pacific War.

  119. 119
    Fair Economist says:

    @Bill Arnold: cites

    Across the economic spectrum, weirdness is getting squeezed. We, as a country, are running down our Strategic Weirdness Reserve. So, please: Form a secret society. Start a conspiracy. Build a weird contraption in your garage. Try out an all-celery diet. Our way of life depends on you.

    He should talk to my son about the Illuminati. Or the Queen of England being an alien space reptile (yes, really).

    That article is all wrong. Filter bubbles are not allowing people to develop new good ideas, they are allowing the nuttiest ideas to survive. I mean, seriously, the Queen as an alien space lizard? That would mean Prince Phillip would have to be too since he had kids with her, and all her kids, and her grandkids, and everyone *they* married and therefore all *their* in-laws and so their in-law’s spouses and all those spouse’s families and on and on and on until rather quickly you would realize everybody on the planet would have to be an alien space reptile too. At least you would if you had the tiniest smidgeon of rationality. And yet there are YouTube channels with believers of this with lots of followers. And then there’s that Flat Earth cruise. I suppose that’s a great place to be to find *really* easy marks.

  120. 120
    Wayne Marks says:

    Open Thread Right? I just saw an ad for Poland Spring water from Maine and its been around for decades. People in the northeast buy it all the time and I think it’s available nationally. It just made me wonder how big is the Poland Spring?

  121. 121
    rikyrah says:

    Had one a week ago, and I was ok for 75% of it…and I was in claustrophobic hell the final 25%. Don’t ever want to do it again😢😢

  122. 122
    Jay says:

    “Before setting out to allegedly perpetrate what’s believed to have been the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history, the Tree of Life synagogue shooter went on Gab to write a post in which he blamed Jewish people in the U.S. “for bringing in an invasion of nonwhite immigrants.” In the past 24 hours, Fox has peddled the same talking point twice during its prime-time programming, showing that the network is not above promoting the same baseless, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that have motivated violent extremists.”

  123. 123
    Mike J says:

    @Wayne Marks: They don’t use Poland Spring any more, but you can visit it.

  124. 124
    Jay says:

    @Wayne Marks:

    Poland Spring is a Nestle “brand”.

    “Contemporary demand is so great the brand’s water is derived from multiple sources in the state of Maine including Poland Spring and Garden Spring in Poland, Maine, Clear Spring in Hollis, Evergreen Spring in Fryeburg, Spruce Spring in Pierce Pond Township, White Cedar Spring in Dallas Plantation, and Bradbury Spring in Kingfield.”

  125. 125
    Jay says:

    @Fair Economist:

    At $1 a head, annually, the QAnon suckers list is ripe for exploitation to the tune of about $60 million a year.

    It sucks that I have morals.

  126. 126
    prostratedragon says:

    @Wayne Marks: @Mike J: Skepticism about the Poland Spring part seems justified. The company was gobbled up first by Perrier, then by Nestle. And speaking of gobbling, Federated Department Stores took the name Macy’s several years ago.

  127. 127
    Suzanne says:


    Self driving cars and trucks will always be a utopian dream as long as Billionaires will spend billions to engineer them but tax dodge every option to avoid paying for road maintenence.

    Google/Waymo has been successfully driving autonomous cars in the Phoenix East Valley for five years now.

  128. 128
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Jay: Horseshit. There was no such thing as “nerve gas” until 1936. Go look it up & then post an apology for your usual offense of preening as a fucking knowitall when you don’t know shit.

  129. 129
    Jay says:

    @Uncle Cosmo:

    “T]he gas is still with me today. It makes me itch every morning and at six every night. You can see my skin all dry. Tonight, my arm will itch from the top to the elbow. And so will the back of my neck. It feels like a needle pricking you. And that’s from ninety years ago.67”

    Nerve damage from mustard gas exposure,

    Have some pie.

  130. 130
    Wayne Marks says:

    @Jay: Thanks, Jay and prostratedragon. Ask the jackals and ye shall receive.

  131. 131
  132. 132
    Jay says:


    Self driving cars with human assist have racked up hundredsvof thousands of miles, and several fatalities.

    Like Elizabeth Warren points out, Corporations report two different sets of profits, one, billions of dollars in profit to shareholders, the other, $0 dollars in profits to the IRS.

    Today, a semi heading into town sheared three wheels off in a pothole and created a brand new berm and 2 lane closures.

    Because of the winter we had here, on my local road, we have had massive frost heaves. Everybody who has to drive it, drives it at 15kmh, ( not 60kmh) in all wheel drive mode or 4wd drive mode, using both lanes to avoid the sinkholes and the heaved slabs of pavement.

    It won’t be fixed until July/August and will require a complete repaving of about 17km.

    While I am used to rocks, brush, debris rubbing on the trucks underside on a bush trip, to hear the same sounds and have to navigate like I am 4x4ing is a weird experience on a 2 lane paved road.

  133. 133
    Ian R says:

    One of the people I used to play AD&D with was a former submariner. To hear him tell it, they played AD&D 24/7.

  134. 134
    Jay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    If it’s not also a nerve gas, how does it cause nerve damage?

    Early on, Monsanto said Agent Orange* was just a defoliant, and as human’s don’t have leaves, how could it be a health hazard?

    *Agent Orange was often sprayed as part of a chemical weapons cocktail with other Agrnts from White to Purple.

    These days, even MSDS sheets and Regulatory Requirements report exposures based as a chemical acting as a direct poison, even though we know that many of the chemicals are also human hormone mimics and blockers.

    We know how much glysophosphate injestion it takes to drown you, but not how much interferes with the proper replacement of lung cell replacement.

  135. 135
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    If it’s not also a nerve gas, how does it cause nerve damage?

    Seriously? You are moving goalposts.

  136. 136
    Jay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Maybe I should just mispell anti-semetic again for the shitpickers who just come here to shitpost on people,

    Rather than correcting my use of “nerve gas”, Uncle Cosmo violently shit on me,

    Chemical Weapons have a certain formal classification based on their construction, what parts of the human body they were designed to attack,


    The best refernce I could find was a Lancet article on the long term effects of exposure to chemical weapons was:

    We don’t know.

    Mr. Davis gradually lost the use of his legs, and fine motor control of his arms, hands and face, after WWI, over a period of roughly 20 years. Other than being gassed in WWI, nothing else explains that.

    I’m really starting to see the value of the pie filter.

  137. 137
    Ruckus says:

    While I was stationed at Long Beach Naval Station for schooling, I’d lead tours of a WWII sub in the afternoons. So not stationed on the sub but did work on it.
    Loved having people climb down the ladder because the first compartment had been completely cleared so more than 2 people could stand there. “Wow, it’s a lot roomier than I thought it would be.” Then walk them into the rest of the sub. I was a skinny new sailor and could fit with little effort, most of the guests had to work at it. It was tight, if you were holed up in it the smell would be, what’s that word, intense. Not a lot different than being on a destroyer under general quarters for 8 hrs in the summer in the Caribbean without enough water to take a shower for 6 weeks. At least everyone smells the same – bad. But after getting back to port in the states, a steamy hot shower for an hour and a half couldn’t really get you clean.

  138. 138
    Sab says:

    @prob50: I went to an interesting funeral sometime in the aughts (possibly 2005). It was for my mother’s second cousin, who was a WWII veteran who served in Europe and came home with lots of honors and went on to live an exemplary life.

    Late in life when he had dementia he spent his last years reliving the Battle of the Bulge.

    At his funeral, which was during the Iraq war, his RWNJ son gave the eulogy and it was all about “my dad is a war hero! Yay!

    Of course the RWNJ was pro Vietnam War but did everything he could (successfully) to avoid serving himself.

    The next speaker at the funeral was the deceased’s best friend, an elderly Episcopal priest. He talked mostly about the toll that war had taken on his friend.

  139. 139
    dimmsdale says:

    @Jay: One remarkable thing about the 1950s and 60s was the complete lack of military cosplay: civilians strutting around in surplus military garb, display and brandishing of military weapons and paraphernalia, feverish claims of patriotism accompanied by subtle (or not so subtle, as today) threats to use weaponry against “fellow travelers” or “comsymps” (two terms in wide use on the right wing at the time). I read every gun magazine I could get my hands on in those days, including the NRA’s American Rifleman, and they focused solely on optimum weaponry for backwoods/hunting situations. The only area approaching “dress up and pretend” those magazine covered, or the NRA promoted, was in the area of cowboy stuff: quick-draw competition and authentic hardware used therein (this was due to the sudden popularity of the TV western, I think). I’m guessing it was the universality of military service in WWII, and the horrors witnessed there, and the relative unpopularity of the Korean conflict, AND the lack of a vast conglomeration of extremist communications channels focused on fomenting pseudo-patriotism via force of arms, that accounted for the relative peaceableness of those times as compared to now.

    I’m not quite sure what my point is here, except maybe that ‘playing soldier’ was confined to kids like myself; my sense is the adults who’d “been there” wanted nothing to do with it, and the media of the time reflected that. For all that those times were horrible for non-white, non-straight Americans, that’s one aspect of life back then that I really miss.

  140. 140
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Jay: A preening “knowitall” who doesn’t know what he’s talking about more than half the time (& doesn’t bother to check his “facts” 100% of the time) richly deserves to be “violently shit on” in more drastic ways than just a blog post. Consider yourself lucky it was only words on a screen.

  141. 141
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Jay: And BTW, Canucklehead, I was employed as a contractor to the US government in chem/bio defense for 15 years. Don’t try to lay no boogie-woogie on the king of rock & roll. (Go ahead, click on it – & then ask your unselfaware cortex why you remind me of the imbecile bobby in Long John Baldry’s preamble.)

  142. 142
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: It’s the classic knee-jerk response of a jerk. Can’t admit he didn’t know WTF he was spouting off about or he’d tarnish his “knowitall” credentials.

    FTR there is no such thing as mustard “gas”: Sulfur mustard (which IIUC actually smells more like garlic, but I digress) is a viscous liquid with a low vapor pressure at normal temperatures** (in fact its melting point is 14 Celsius!) & is primarily a percutaneous hazard, “burning” the crap out of bare skin where it lands.

    In over a century no one has come up with an effective antidote; covering up is about all that works (click on MOPP & scroll to “level 4”). Moreover it is remarkably persistent; e.g., a Belgian farmer clearing trees from a field one summer in the 1960s sat down on a stump to eat lunch & burned his tuchis when mustard agent sealed in the tree rings half a century earlier soaked into the seat of his sweaty trousers.

    In late-20th-century pre-OPCW days, mustard agent’s standard military use was for “area denial”: Soak enough of the ground with it & until it degrades the opponent is forced either to traverse the region “buttoned up” (MOPP 4), which is clumsy & uncomfortable & degrades the ability to fight, or avoid the contaminated territory.

    One of the dark arts of CW weaponeering is dispersing mustard over as large an area as possible; in the process a significant amount is aerosolized & available for inhalation by unmasked troops. Imagine what the aerosolized stuff does to the linings of the respiratory system.

    But it’s still not “nerve” “gas” & never was.

    (NB Someone should tell the Knucklehead of the Frozen North to (temporarily) remove my posts from his pie filter & read this one if he actually wants to learn something about the subject.)

    **FTR all nerve “gases” as well are liquid at normal temperatures, although most with higher vapor pressures than mustard – sarin (GB) being the most volatile of the bunch (& VX the least).

  143. 143
    Another Scott says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Interesting.

    But overboard, IMHO.

    Jay was relaying a story, not giving his PhD defense on the physiology of chemical weapons.

    You might develop a bit of nuance in expressing your disagreement here. Quite often it seems you have two speeds – silence or thermonuclear flaming.


  144. 144
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I know I’m late to the party, but this one’s kind of interesting:

  145. 145
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Another Scott: The Knucklehead of the Frozen North is the one who whined that I didn’t “edjumacate” him about chemical weapons after he’d shot off his utterly ignorant mouth. So there’s his intro lecture. Not that he’ll bother to absorb it. “Knowitalls” never do – they just find some other subject to shoot their mouths off half-cocked & hope that no one calls them on their ignorance. I’ve seen this breed of bozo before.

    And just FTR, while there are well-informed, insightful & pungent commenters on this blog (h/t Adam & Cheryl in particular), I am continually disheartened by the sheer amount of stupidity & bullshit that’s been showing up on this site under nyms that fucking well ought to know better. Every day I fire up BJ compels me to add to the number of posters here who can kiss my arse. And these fluff themselves as the vanguard of the movement to pull this nation back out of the jaws of fascism? Mannagia la miseria!

  146. 146
    Original Lee says:

    @japa21: Very late to the thread, but I really miss Field’s, too. My late grandmother and her sister used to meet at the flagship store during Field Days to do their Christmas shopping. They had a very strict routine that included going to the lunch room half an hour before it closed and having a “sustaining snack” before resuming their shopping. Once, they spent more time than usual on the pre-lunch part of their program and decided to skip their snack, but when they came up the escalator near the lunch room, one of the ladies called to them, “There you are! We’ve been holding open for you.”

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