Tonight We’re Going to Party Like its 399

The other day I got into a minor Twitter tiff over a Tweet of mine. In it, I pointed out that my generation (and I’m nearly 58) as the last to be properly educated and that each succeeding year after I left school, education became more and more degraded. My point in this was a warning: we’re rapidly running out of people who know how to do things. They’re all getting rather long in the tooth and if we don’t raise up their replacements, we’ll enter a Dark Age as things simply stop working and nobody knows how to repair them, or make their replacements.

One of the comments I got back is that everything is just fine – youth knows what is doing! To that, I rejoined that it’ll be fun watching Tik Tok influencers wonder in 2040 why they only get 6 hours of electricity per day. And the response on that? “Hey, buddy, some of those influencers make more money than you ever will!”. Which is true, and kinda proved my point.

And it can all fall apart. Highly advanced, industrial civilization works very well when the people running it know what they’re doing. As soon as the people who know are gone, everything rather collapses.

I have a Twitter friend from South Africa and over the past few weeks he’s been without power on multiple occasions and sometimes for many hours. What happened? Well, South Africa’s electricity has for nearly a century been provided by a government-run enterprise – so, it started under British colonial rule, transitioned to fully independent South Africa and now is still there long into post-Apartheid South Africa. But the main thing was that after Apartheid, the thing became a patronage slush fund…friends and family of the ANC got jobs…and, of course, nobody would want to take orders from the white people who had been running it so out the door they went. As far as I can determine, since the end of Apartheid nearly nothing has been done to maintain or increase power generation and so now you’ve got an aging power system built for a much smaller population laboring to keep the lights on.

And my bet is that they still don’t know what to do. That is: those in charge of South Africa haven’t the foggiest notion of how power is generated and transmitted and since the end of Apartheid they made little or no effort to send black South Africans to school on these subjects. So, very soon South Africans will be able to celebrate thirty years since the end of Apartheid…they’ll just need candles to see it.

And that is how fast things can fall apart. The Durants, in their history of Rome, noted the life of an upper class Roman who lived in Gaul in the second half of the fourth century. It was an interesting look at life in that time but what was most striking is how everything seemed fine. The man had an interesting and useful life – nothing spectacular; just a life lived. He died about ten years before the barbarian flood. To him, in his time, all seemed well…sure, the government was sclerotic and corrupt; the roads and aqueducts weren’t being well maintained; taxes were too high…but nothing to worry about? Until, of course, there was something to worry about. As I’ve said before, things fall apart slowly and then all at once. The bell tolled in South Africa in 2007 when during an oddly high demand, it was found that the system couldn’t carry the load…15 years ago. Plenty of time to get it right…but nothing was done, because nobody knew how to do it. Just as in, say, 390 AD, nobody really knew how to maintain the Roman Empire. Everyone was sort of going through the motions…but at the first bit of pressure, it was revealed that there was nothing sustaining it.

And that is my point – we have in the USA the infrastructure of a major industrial power…but it is wearing down and it isn’t keeping pace with the continued growth of population. Prices are going up for two reasons: Uncle Sam printing trillions but, also, because we don’t have the ability to just swing into higher production when higher prices makes such production profitable. I did a little shopping trip with the Mrs this week and the thing which struck me the most is how at a glance everything seemed ok but when you looked a little closer, you could see the problem.

She was, of course, looking for stuff that girls look for but, with time to kill, I went to look for some things I needed: in this case, undershirts. I like a particular brand in a particular style. It isn’t fancy stuff – it is from a brand you’ve seen your whole life. And they did have some: the shelves were not bare. But where two years ago I would have seen a dozen packages of each size, I now saw one or two packages, and they didn’t have all sizes. Went to see about getting a couple new shirts: half a rack of men’s shirts where they used to be two or three full racks. Well, we need a new knife set for the kitchen as over the years two of our steak knives have gone missing and the carving knife is pretty banged up…so I go to the rack which would in the past have set after set of kitchen knives for you to ponder quality and price. There were a total of four knife sets. One a return which had been opened (after examination, I bought this one).

This is not the America I grew up in. We are no longer the Land of Plenty. We are the Land of We’ll See What They Got And I Hope It Will Do.

I do believe we can fix this – the bell has rung for us and we are on the precipice…but all we need are people who know how to do things. As we still have people who do know how to do things, the trick is to get them to tell some youngsters how to do it. In other words, if we start very soon and begin to genuinely educate people, then just about the time we’re set to collapse, we’ll have a young generation able to step up and keep things working. It’ll be irritating for them as the generation in front of them will be made up of mostly useless people, but they’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that civilization rides on their shoulders…and for all I care, they can send the Tik Tok Influencers to work camps.

We have a very short time remaining where we can transmit civilization to the next generation. If we do, it’ll be fine. If we don’t, it’ll all die…though like as not just after I die. So, this isn’t for me: this is for the grandkids.

11 thoughts on “Tonight We’re Going to Party Like its 399

  1. Amazona September 29, 2022 / 10:08 pm

    OT, but as other threads have gotten long and complicated and cluttered with (most lately) moaning and grieving over removing porn from school libraries.

    Anyway, I got some photos of my Florida house today and it’s just fine. Not quite just fine, but not too bad. A tree or part of a tree (hoping it wasn’t my entire avocado tree—I was quite thrilled to have a mature avocado tree) fell on my pool cage (a large framed and screened outdoor room adjacent to the house) and the large aluminum hurricane shutters enclosing the lanai got destroyed, torn out of their tracks and twisted up but not till they had protected my French doors and windows. All in all, not bad.

    As soon as power is restored I’ll fly down and check it out.

    I found video coverage of the hurricane to be very frustrating. Storm Chasers had a long video in which the camera was focused for a long LONG time on a fabric sign stretched over a metal frame, showing that it was torn on one side. Gee, do ya think? And another showed minutes of a tall pole flexing in the wind. And pictures of fallen trees. We don’t care about that—we want to know how houses fared, what real neighborhoods were going through. Twisted scaffolding on a building under construction is no big deal—that kind of thing is expected to be damaged in high wind.

    Port Charlotte, just across the harbor from me, was supposed to be very hard-hit. But the coverage was of a modular home development, and the damage was mostly like a torn-off carport or some shingles missing. And face it, folks, the damage done to manufactured housing is not usually representative of most houses.

    Maybe I’m just hard to impress, but seeing semis blown over (including right in front of me) on Wyoming interstates has kind of desensitized me to wind stories. Last year I heard a piece of roof trim blow off my car, and I pulled over to check out the damage. When I walked around the rear of my car and the wind hit me it nearly knocked me over and out into traffic on the interstate—-I had to grab onto my car to stay on my feet and off the highway. In other words, a day ending in Y in Wyoming. I’m not denying that there was a lot of serious damage to a lot of structures, causing a lot of danger and misery to a lot of people—just that the coverage seemed pretty superficial.

    • Retired Spook September 29, 2022 / 11:03 pm

      Glad to hear your damage may not be too bad.

    • Mark Noonan September 30, 2022 / 1:29 am

      I’m not seeing huge numbers of posts about it on Twitter so I suspect the damage wasn’t as bad as advertised…which, if DeSantis had his act together (and it seems he did) would be the case…sure, there will be billions in damage, but no catastrophe. And if it is mostly just property damage, you just watch Pudding Brain’s FEMA slow roll relief…they’ll want to gum it up as much as possible and hope that DeSantis takes the blame.

      • Retired Spook September 30, 2022 / 10:03 am

        Early this morning there were numerous on-line articles citing “hundreds of dead” from Hurricane Ian. Most have been taken down. Fox News reported within the last few minutes that there are 21 confirmed dead, which is still a lot. Last night I heard a report, I think on the radio, that Sanibel Island was a near total loss. I’m betting that’s an exaggeration as well. We have friends in Fort Myers who told mutual friends that sold their place in Fort Myers last year that they were going to ride it out because their condo is on the second floor. We haven’t heard from them yet.

      • Amazona September 30, 2022 / 10:42 am

        I can see how Sanibel would be hit hard—it’s a long skinny island with the Gulf on one side and the harbor on the other, with zero protection. It’s one of the barrier islands that help shelter the harbor, which is one of the reasons I chose that area—-the protection from the Gulf’s harshest weather.

      • Retired Spook September 30, 2022 / 10:21 am

        I just spoke with my daughter, whose inlaws have a place in Punta Gorda not far from Amazona’s. They’re still at their summer place in Michigan, but they got word that their Florida house suffered only minor damage. The storm surge that devastated Fort Myers Beach and much of Fort Myers didn’t hit Punta Gorda.

  2. Amazona September 29, 2022 / 10:17 pm

    I just had a conversation today with a guy who is a few years younger than I am (but who isn’t?) and I said I think it is so sad that younger people today have such limited cultural references. Even when I was a child, I had cultural references to things long before I was born, but today a 20-year-old’s cultural references might go back five years. Maybe.

    I wonder if current cultural references bind people like the old ones did. When someone seeing a dog acting agitated would say “What’s the matter, girl? Is Timmy in the well?” everyone got it, and it was a little shared moment. A goofy small town cop could be called a Barney Fife and everyone knew what that meant. I’m spending tomorrow with a 20-year-old friend, and I’ll try to remember to ask her what kinds of cultural references link her generation.

    • jdge1 September 30, 2022 / 11:25 am

      In the book “The Specter of Communism”, the author(s) talk about how communism sabotages youth in order to destroy the society. The areas they key in on are;

      1.) Systemically marginalize and eliminate the well-educated older generations to prevent them from passing on both traditional cultural heritages and educational intelligence. Communism instills in youth a distaste of the older generation as being out-of-touch, striping them of knowledge and discernment,
      2.) Reducing youth’s exposure to traditional culture – replacing it with reckless “diversity” of thought,
      3.) Lowering academic standards, especially in literature, math and critical thinking, stunting their ability to handle key life situations thereby forcing them to accept whatever they’re fed by others,
      4.) Indoctrination with deviated notions, including gender fluidity & homosexuality, acceptance of recreational drugs, fairness of outcome, and moral relativism,
      5.) Feeding youth’s selfishness, greed and indulgence, inflating their egos and sense of entitlement, and reducing their ability to understand / tolerate different opinions. Respect, responsibility and benevolence take a backseat to personal satisfaction,
      6.) Brainwashing with seeming banners of righteousness such as pacifism, acceptance & inclusion, environmentalism and political correctness, even to the point of violence (if ever there was an oxymoron).

      Its root purpose is to destroy everything that is traditional, whether it be faith, religion, morality, culture, education, the institutions of family and marriage, etc… whatever it takes to fall into moral abyss.

      • Amazona September 30, 2022 / 3:06 pm

        As I have commented, Leftism has never taken hold in a nation that is secure and happy. It has preyed on unstable societies and never hesitated to try to destabilize societies where it wants to take over. We have seen the destabilization here in our country, as every one of the foundations of civil stability has been attacked and undermined—the family (marriage, the primacy of parental authority, even to the point of trying to destroy basic gender differences), religion, education, culture, even language.

        If there has been a pillar upon which an important aspect of a strong and secure culture has rested, the Left has tried to knock it down.

  3. Amazona September 30, 2022 / 12:56 am

    Here is a detailed list of preparations by DeSantis in Florida, to prepare for hurricane issues, It’s very impressive. What I didn’t see (but might have missed) is something that really made an impression on me. His administration contacted hotels and other hospitality providers like AirBnB and asked that restrictions on pets be waived. He said it is important, for families and for their pets, to stay together and they had acted to try to make it possible for evacuated families to take their pets with them.

    I am more and more impressed by this guy.

  4. Retired Spook September 30, 2022 / 8:56 am

    Remember this?

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