Oh no, not again

I think I must be a bowl of petunias and our local council Arthur Dent. They’ve been at me again. Friday afternoons seems their favorite time. I suppose for them it’s a nice little game to play before the weekend with their various targets, in the happy knowledge that some petty bureaucrat has screwed up someone’s weekend. My weekends are pretty much work, and being on Ambulance call – so they’re putting the lives of local citizens at increased risk – a lot more risk than 500 odd pages of ‘planning scheme’ I just waded through ever prevent. The entire purpose seems to be to give yet another set of useless rent-seekers jobs.

I think the most bizarre thing is their ‘zones’ – I mean the difference between ‘rural’ and ‘rural living’ and ‘agriculture’ is — as the guy betwixt them — invisible. The acreages sizes are the same, the vegetation the same, the soils the same. But some bureaucrat somewhere KNEW. Look, anyone can tell the difference between the inner city and the country – but the margins are wide, mixed, and more than just a little blurry. I suspect that the same applies to books. Most of the genres I think are… a bit mixed. This I think is as should be, because readers don’t fit into neat pigeonholes either. We have nascent bureaucrats in the book world too – I saw some critic defining ‘men’s literature’ as books of interest only to men. I was amused as I had been unaware men were such a uniform group, or of any kind of book that didn’t have at least a few readers of another sex.

Anyway, look, sorry, this is a really feeble post: I haven’t slept much with the stress. I leave you with a snippet of the WIP that our dear council is keeping me from. Maybe they do the human race a favor…


“We have some influence too, My Lord,” said Mark. “I, um, have been in correspondence with various people.”

Alfred could only smile. Away from his sister, away from his self-imposed regimen of being a mere secretary, Mark Latham was a man of keen, persuasive intellect. “I suppose you have a speech you want me to give?”

“Well, I have made some notes,” his secretary admitted.

Alfred shook his head. “Last time you nearly got me hanged, drawn and quartered. We’ll go through it together.”

“Very well,” said his secretary with a grin. “I gather getting your employer strung up is bad for future employment prospects.”

“Very much so. I’ll read it and we can talk about it, on the way up to Harrogate.”

“You wish me to accompany you, My Lord?”

“Wish? Mark, I require it of you. Such torture is well deserved for someone who would cheerfully see me hanged in the House of Lords.”

“Oh, I hardly think they’d do that! So undignified. Outside perhaps.”

38 thoughts on “Oh no, not again

  1. I recall when some governmental flunky reworked part of our grazing allotment.
    He, in his infinite wisdom, ruled that two adjacent sections were equivalent, and rated them the same AUM (animal unit month—can support a cow and a calf for one month). That one was ridgerock, and one bottomland, seems to have been beneath his notice.
    But the BLM (bureau of land management) was sure aggressive counting cows, to make sure we didn’t shift them from the area that couldn’t tolerate the designated load, to the area that could tolerate twice that.
    (Fortunately, BLM agents seemed to be surgically affixed to the seats of their pickup trucks. Sadly, I’m sure they’ve got drones now, but likely even less sense.)

    1. They have Predator drones for full-dress aerial surveillance from what I’ve read. Seems like a lot of work just to count cows, eh?

      One wonders how often such obvious mistakes are made because [minion] did not leave the office and simply drew a circle on a map because they got a memo from [minion management]. Then they defend said obvious mistake to the death because otherwise everyone will know they are a lazy git who sits around the office all day.

      This type of thing is why lawyers will never go out of business.

      1. They have Predator drones for full-dress aerial surveillance from what I’ve read. Seems like a lot of work just to count cows, eh?

        I’ll defend this one, a little.

        It cuts down on how many folks you lose by them walking into a weed grow.

        1. I’ve heard (edited) horror stories about some of the booby-traps on the big grows in the National Forests. *shudder* Not counting the ones with live guards.

    2. I am coming to think Douglas Adams wrong. It won’t be the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation first. It’ll be these bureaucrats.

      1. In other words, the Vogsphere (entire).

        I think I was in college when I first found the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I’d already been in the Army Reserve for a couple of years, filed my own meager taxes once or twice, and visited the Admissions Office on campus…. The bloated hostilities he calls “Vogons” fit my experience perfectly, and have been my mental archetype for all bureaucrats since.

  2. Just how far can one cross the genre streams before things explode?

    Somehow I’ve ended up with a deposed aztecy god-thingy arguing with a computer about her marriage choices.

    Maybe the problem is I haven’t really set the internal rules for how the mythic and the mundane actually interact, or how much the reader or mundane characters get to know vs merely suspect, and that’s going to be critical for a setting that’s nominally science fiction.

    1. I’m wondering if this kind of genre-bending is going around. I’m doing similar, current WIP has mythic characters interacting on a household level with robots and humans. I’m having fun with it, anyway. ~:D

      1. Just out of curiosity, do you also have no idea how you got their either?

        I’m wondering if domestic scenes have ended up being exotic because of all the lock downs for the last coupled of years?

        1. Going off of Anime, it’s more because so many folks spent like two waking hours at home as kids, and were Gainfully Occupied otherwise.

          1. And now nearly all human contact is through text and voicemail.

            I mean, I wouldn’t want to lose access to all of the web and the stuff it has enabled, but there is a certain nostalgia to eating mulberries fresh off of a tree.

            1. :looks out the window:

              Other than our mulberry attempting to take out the garage last year….where’s the contradiction?

              I didn’t get to do that stuff much as a kid, but that was because even I was scheduled out the ears.

        2. My characters are ludicrously over powered. It’s just stupid what they can do. Finding problems big enough to bother them has been an issue.

          After fending off the end of the world three or four times, they’ve gotten pretty good at it so I’ve needed to branch out to ‘end of the galaxy’ type events. Mythic creatures are dropping by to see what all the uproar is about, and to have a little holiday.

            1. High fantasy in a 1930s alternate history? That pushes the definition of “high fantasy” past its bursting point, methinks.

  3. Dave, condolences on the bureaucracy front. I purchased a ready-made shed rather than make the one I wanted specifically because of county building inspectors. I just couldn’t face the never-ending duck-nibbling. Each bite is only small, but they add up.

    One would think putting up a little tractor shed on a -rural- property would be something of note only to the land owner, but one would be wrong. You must have PLANS! And they must be APPROVED! And then you must be INSPECTED and INSPECTED and etc. at each stage of the build to make sure you don’t f- up your super complex… pole shed. Which a blind peddler could build.

    But there is a loophole! [cheers, balloons, trumpets!] If the structure is -temporary-, as in can be moved from one place to another on skids, then you don’t have to face all the BS. You can put down gravel and drop a shed on it. Any size. And so there has grown up quite the little industry of companies building sheds in a factory setting and delivering them, whole and complete, to your back yard, driveway etc. I could have built it cheaper, a little, but dealing with the county minions would have killed me.

    Heaven help you if you sink a foundation in the ground. Then the whole machine grinds into motion. So if you want electricity (or God forbid water) in your shed, you take the services underground from the house to a post next to the shed, put a receptacle on said post, and then you plug the shed into that. Because it’s “temporary,” right? (I put a battery powered light in there and called it good. I hate digging.)

    Upon such legal fig leaves an entire industry has been born.

    1. I’ve done that – the shed in my back yard is on skids, and theoretically temporary. It’s a nice shed – and if I were so inclined and didn’t need it to store stuff in – I could make it into a Teeny Office.

    2. Dear Lord. The same utter bullshit. And yes, ‘you can put up a shed x size without a permit and inspections as long as it is a kit shed (engineer designed see)’ so… suddenly kit sheds – crap compared to what I would build, are selling just below the size, expensive-but if you want bigger… well actually it costs very little square-foot by square foot, compared to under the size.

      1. It slays me how many of these skid-sheds I see all over the countryside. I mean, this is farm country, right? Men can build a friggin’ shed around here. I had thoughts of building one with fancy frame-and-panel doors, timber frame, arched windows, etc. I do that kind of work.

        Nope. I bought the ready-made one. Everybody buys the ready-made one. Because dealing with the county is certain doom. You let those assholes near your place and trouble will come. For sure.

        Of course lately nobody is building anything because the cost of building materials is roughly double to triple what it was in 2019. In Canada, mind you. The place of trees. Today I bought two (2) sheets of drywall and it was $64. I refused to pay the $85 for a bundle of rock wool insulation, I will make do with leftovers for my little repair.

        I’m pretty damn glad I got the skid-shed in 2019, let me tell you.

        You might be well served to put a couple of sea containers on the farm. They can’t inspect those, they’re temporary.

        1. Oh oy! On my first deployment with the US Army Reserve, I was the Real Property guy for all our interests in southern Kuwait, cataloguing Every. Bloody. Building. And. Trailer. And. Sun-shade. And. Tent. And. Upgraded shipping container. on Arifjan by site and size and date and ownership, and entering them into the Army’s database just so, according to Regulations. And sometimes the regs were flouted out of necessity, and sometimes they contradicted each other, and …!

          But I did convince somebody at last that the barrack built of shipping boxes on a huge two-story frame of welded catwalk should be counted as one permanent building instead of (by letter-of-the-law) 134+ discreet temporary shipping boxes. Sometimes it’s the small victories.

          1. Barracks made of shipping containers? In the desert? That would be kinda… warm, wouldn’t it? Also cold at night?

            And they felt the need to have an entire soldier detailed off to wrangle the database? Yeah, sounds right.

            1. Not precisely shipping containers (there were other “trailers” that began as such); but they may as well have been. Individual/modular “pods,” ostensibly temporary and portable, but not really either. I was the RPAO– a role that predated the database and covered more than just that– and for the last three months the Master Planner as well. I had to sign off on requests for base maps and buildings’ as-built plans, make sure that trailers and tents were mapped in their current locations, including a record of when they were installed there, approve or deny requests to move this or that trailer half a mile and repurpose it, update controlling units when there was a handover, evaluate the contracted cartographer’s job performance, ….

              The full title was Real Property Accountability Officer, and it threatened to be (and often enough was) as Vogonic as I could ever have wished, and a Major’s PITA.

  4. Look, anyone can tell the difference between the inner city and the country – but the margins are wide, mixed, and more than just a little blurry.

    :points at the hay field like two minutes from her favorite Asian import store in Des Moines:

    A bit, yes.

  5. I saw some critic defining ‘men’s literature’ as books of interest only to men.

    … I’m sure it’s like how men NEVER buy women’s magazines.

    Says the gal who got her horizons broadened with “lady’s” magazines.

    In a shop full of men.

    Because, as the great philosopher Bill Engvall noted, men’s magazines are full of barely clothed women, and so are women’s magazines…. (he didn’t point out that your officers would get pissed about the former but not the latter)

    1. Because lingerie in, oh, “Modern Fashion” or “Vogue” or whatever the one I roll my eyes at on the front rack at B&N is fashion, and so it cannot possibly be considered erotica or anything even remotely like that. Because it’s a women’s magazine!

      Which woefully underestimates the ability of the human mind to, as the kids say, “go there.”

  6. I remember being in Junior High and reading every RAH book in the school library I could get my hands on. The head librarian there, noticing my reading interest, pointed me to some anthologies that were titled something like Adventure Stories For Boys. I asked her about those titles and her remark was that publishers don’t really know what they are doing. It’s over 40 years later and the only two publishers that have a clue are Baen and Chris Kennedy.

    Just sayin’

    1. Because threading is all hidden on the web mode, somehow I saw that as a response to the Women’s Magazine Articles writers…

      The petty bureaucrats don’t make good main villians, but I’d think you could use them as at least some of the intermediate villians? Especially if the big bad is a Joker grade lunatic.

    2. I used a grafting bureaucrat as the villian in Pyre & Ice a couple of years ago: he penalized subordinates for broken parts when he was skimming from the manufacturer’s till. What brings him down is a major catastrophe caused by those same parts failing in a hostile and combustible environment. (But the environment itself is the primary antagonist: the villian only shows up enough to thoroughly blame the accident on him.)

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