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A futurist imagines the Earth populated exclusively by the 1 percent
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a425couple
2018-05-13 19:36:57 UTC
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A futurist imagines the Earth populated exclusively by the 1 percent

The book hits stores on August 14th, 2018
By Andrew ***@AndrewLiptak May 13, 2018, 10:00am EDT

Graphics by Michele Doying / The Verge
Science fiction is often pretty bad at predicting the future: rather,
it’s a better barometer of the present. But every now and again, an
author establishes a reputation for insight into what the future might
hold. One such author is Canadian writer and futurist Karl Schroeder,
whose new book The Million comes out this summer.

In this far future tale, Earth is populated and ruled exclusively by
super-rich individuals — one million of them, to be exact. Every 30
years they allow the rest of humankind to return to the planet for a
single month, but the rest of the time they forbid the presence of
outsiders in their fabulous utopia. One such outsider is Gavin
Penn-of-Chaffee, an illegal child raised in secret. After his adoptive
father is murdered, Gavin takes on the identity of a dead boy — only to
learn that his new identity has just joined the dreaded secret police
force of The Million. In order to survive, he’ll have to infiltrate
their ranks and stay focused on finding the people who destroyed his life.

The book hits stores on August 14th, 2018, and you can read an excerpt here:


Image: Tor.com
Gavin Penn-of-Chaffee smacked his brother’s shoulder. “And what’ll you
do if they mob you?”


“Focus on one at a time,” said Bernard through clenched teeth.

“And if somebody moves to cut you out of the pack?”

“Signal Dad.”

“And if you have the sudden urge to hit somebody upside the head?”

“Retreat.”

“Where?”

“Here.”

Gavin scowled and gave his brother a critical once-over. “Okay, you’re
all set. Knock ’em dead.”

“Don’t say that if you don’t mean it,” warned Bernie. He took a deep
breath, stepped up to the big pair of intricately carved, powder blue
doors, and signaled the bots on either side to open them. Bernie stepped
through the doorway into light and noise, and Gavin stepped back into
the shadows. The doors swung shut, and Gavin’s shoulders slumped.

Now for the hard part.

He walked through the pitch-dark sitting room at speed; though he rarely
came down here, he knew exactly where every table and chair was. When he
opened the door at the far end, it was to the exact same sight that had
met him through the ones that Bernie had used. The vast ballroom Gavin
strode into was packed with men in tuxedos and women wearing all manner
of gowns, dresses, and visual confections. They were chatting, eating
snacks off the trays of passing bots, raising glasses to this or that
proposition, and, way too often, leaning together to eye Bernie and
mutter as he passed by. They could have been holographic projections
from the real ballroom, but they weren’t; like the rest of the Million,
Gavin had been raised to think of digital simulation as uncouth.
Instead, this was a real double to the other room, and the “people” in
it were fakes: bots made to look like the people visiting the Chaffee
estate.

The one difference was that there were floor-to-ceiling windows in that
other room, whereas here, hidden in the heart of the main building, the
walls were blank.

Gavin watched the fake that was imitating his brother long enough to be
sure that he wasn’t about to bolt in terror. The bot not only looked
like Bernie, it mimicked his expressions down to the finest detail, and
repeated in his voice what he’d said in the other room. All looked good
so far: he’d started a conversation with that girl in the lemon-yellow
dress. Seeing this, Gavin turned away and closed his eyes.

Conversations, music, the tinkling of glasses, and the swish of skirts
along the floor washed over him like a calming sea. Light laughter sang
from his left, and he smiled; a dance started up and he listened to the
music echoing off the walls and the squeak of new shoes on the parquet
floor. He tried to forget that this was Bernie’s party and not his. He
tried to imagine all these people gathering here to celebrate him.

But no, that was too much. He had no idea what such a moment would feel
like.

There were more people at the Chaffee estate tonight than Gavin had ever
seen gathered in one place. On any given day he might wander outside and
face a vista of rolling hills and grasslands that never changed. Buffalo
came by, sometimes wolves. Unless you owned a city, say, Paris or New
York, this was all any of the Million normally saw. If he was bored,
Gavin could summon the powers of his personal economy to build things of
interest—palaces, flocks of autonomous skywriting aircraft, dungeons
with fake dragons in them, mechs that he and Bernie could battle. He
could re-create some historical city on the grasslands of central North
America, fill it with fakes, and live like the ancients did for a day or
a week or until he lost interest. In that way, his had been an ordinary
life.


He listened as two women greeted each other just behind him, and he
pictured himself standing next to one of them, her fingers wrapped
around his arm. He could open his eyes and entwine his arm in that of
one of the fakes and pretend he was actually in that other room,
actually among those people.

. . . And that would just be creepy, and sad, and wrong; spying on them
this way was already a mistake. He should be in his own chambers, in his
own wing of the house, curled up with a good book. The only reason he’d
done this was to keep a brotherly eye on Bernie. But he had to let go
sometime. Dejected, he walked to the door and raised his hand to dismiss
the fakes.

Despite himself, he turned for one last look. There were quite a few
young people in the crowd. What would it be like to walk among them? To
talk to them? Bernie’s guests were intimidating, all of them beautiful
or handsome, perfectly dressed, and perfectly poised. Like most of the
scions of the Million, these ones were intensely focused, serious, and
cautious around their elders. They should be—all of human civilization
rested on their shoulders. Each was doubtless determined to become the
greatest composer, pilot, scientist, or philosopher of this generation.
All knew that if there were only one million people alive in the whole
world, then those million had a responsibility to be equal to all who
had come before.

“Stop skulking about, Neal,” snapped an older man’s voice. “This is a
party, not one of your hunts.”

The speaker was an older man, his face eclipsed by the head of a youth
who was turned away from Gavin. All Gavin could see of the pair was
their shared shaggy hair and hulking shoulders. Then the younger one
looked around and sneered at the crowd, and Gavin froze.

He knew that face.

Gavin had been eleven or twelve years old. There was a party—not like
this one, much more relaxed and friendly-sounding—and some of the
neighbors had been there. As usual, Father had told Gavin to stay
hidden, but he couldn’t resist peeking around a doorjamb to see the
guests with his own eyes. That’s when one of the Makhav boys had spotted
him.

It was just a meeting of the eyes, no words had been exchanged, yet
Gavin would always remember that face. It was the only time in his
entire life that he’d locked gazes with someone outside his own family.

Neal Makhav-of-Winter-Park had grown up, was in fact a young man now.
That would make Gavin one, too, he supposed. Little good that it did him.

Neal’s fake stepped away from the older one and said, “You’re one to
talk, Father. You’re just here to laugh at the gimp, like everybody else!”

“Don’t use such language,” warned Neal’s father. “You knew Bernie before
the accident. He was a great kid.”

Neal gave a contemptuous snort. “Yeah, but he zigged when he should have
zagged. Getting that iron bar through the head scrambled his brains, so
what’s he good for now? Somebody should put him out of his misery.”

You could strike a fake without consequences, but Gavin’s father had
always warned him never to do it. “You might get used to hitting them,
and that would make you used to hitting people,” he’d said. So Gavin
kept his clenched fists at his sides. It was little consolation that
Neal’s father had stepped in front of his son and was glaring into his face.


“Don’t you even think of trumping up some sort of duel with Bernard
Chaffee,” he hissed. His eyes widened as Neal glanced away. “You were
thinking of it!”

“Come on, Father, it’s not like I haven’t put down wounded animals
before. And look at this place! Six thousand square kilometers of land,
and just the two of them to take care of it? Old man Chaffee’s got no
heir now, it’s just a matter of time before he admits defeat. Should
have done so before now. Everybody says so.”

Neal’s father crossed his arms and turned away. “The Chaffee lands are
thriving. And Bernie’s no idiot. The injury didn’t affect his intellect,
only his self-control.” He shook his head. “I can’t believe you’d
consider such a thing.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have killed the guy. But this party is
pathetic; it’s a sham and it needs to be exposed. I mean, do they really
think that one of those girls is going to take to him? . . . And
anyway”—and here Neal looked everywhere but at his father’s eyes—“I
still say Bernie’s had help running the place.”

“This again? You swear you saw another boy here once and now you’re
convinced they’re hiding a visitor on the property! That’s ridiculous.”

“I know what I saw,” said Neal, and his fake turned its head and looked
straight through Gavin.

The illusion was so startling that for a second Gavin was sure that Neal
could really see him.

Oh, he did remember that night. After he and Neal Makhav locked eyes,
Neal had kicked up a fuss, asking who the other boy in the house was,
but by that time Gavin had hidden himself, and ordered his bots to do
the same with any evidence that there was a third person in the house.
Father had laughed and given the nosy boy a chance to search the whole
place, just to prove there was nobody here. Neal had done so, much to
the embarrassment of his father and uncle.

“—not a fit profession for a Makhav,” Neal’s father was saying. “It’s
not an honorable use of the hunting skills I gave you.”

Neal snorted in contempt. “I knew you’d say something like that. But my
mind is made up.”

“This isn’t the time or place for this,” said his father. “We’ll talk
about it when we get home.”

Neal Makhav took several steps away from his father, then turned and
sent him an aloof look. “No, we won’t, Father. You see, after we’re done
here, I’m not going home.” He walked away.

Before he could follow Neal, another man stepped up to Neal’s father. He
was gray haired though still powerfully built, and here, too, the family
resemblance was plain. Gavin had seen photos of Eli Makhav; Father made
sure he knew about all the important players in the region. Eli was the
brother of the Makhav clan’s patriarch, and Father said it was really
Eli who ran the household, childless though he was.

“Made up his mind, has he?” said Eli, as both men stared at Neal’s
retreating back.

“He’ll come around. This thing about joining the auditors . . . it’s
just youthful restlessness,” said Neal’s father.


“I’m not so sure about that. And what’s he up to now?” Neal was nudging
one of the ballroom’s marble statues (also faithfully reproduced in the
room where Gavin stood) as if trying to make it fall off its pedestal.

Eli sighed and walked over to him. Gavin followed; he just had to hear this.

Eli came to a halt next to his nephew. Without looking at him, he said,
“Break it and I’ll crack your head wide open.”

Neal looked startled, then guilty, and then began to slink away.
Suddenly Eli’s hand was clamped on his wrist.

“That goes double for Bernard Chaffee,” he said. Neal pulled away but
couldn’t even get the older man’s arm to quiver.

Eli let go, and Neal stepped back, snarling as he rubbed his bruised
wrist. Then suddenly he laughed.

“I don’t have to do anything, old man,” he said. “Look!”

Eli turned, and Gavin turned, and so just managed to catch the moment
when Bernie’s hard-won self-control failed.

He’d clearly been trying to hold a conversation with one of the girls,
but others had gathered around, perhaps reassured by his calmness. They
were curious. Later, Gavin would forgive them for it, but now they
pressed close, trying to hear, and Gavin could see it all become too
much for Bernie. The unfamiliar people, the babble of voices and moving
bodies, the pressure to be at his best, anxiety at meeting the girls . .
. Any of these could have pushed Bernard Chaffee over the edge, and
right now they were all present at once. Father reminded him to keep
Bernie’s exposure to strangers short, but the problem was, Bernie always
seemed fine, right up until that moment when he—

“No!” Bernie swung his drink and champagne sprayed those nearest him.
“Get away, I can’t, I don’t wanna, I—”

“Aw, no, Bern,” said Gavin. He took two steps toward his brother, but
this wasn’t really Bernie, just a robotic actor faithfully playing out a
drama to which Gavin wasn’t invited.

He ran out of the utility room and through the darkened lounge, and put
his hand on the door to the real ballroom. He could hear Bernie’s
panicked voice through the thick wood of the door.

It wasn’t too late. He knew what to do, the words to say to back Bernie
off and settle him again. He knew how to do it. But he couldn’t go in there.

If he did, everyone would learn that Martin Chaffee was harboring an
illegal visitor. That wasn’t necessarily a capital crime, but Father had
always acted as if Gavin’s case was different. There was some dire
reason for his remaining hidden here—and that reason trumped all other
considerations.

He let go of the knob but pressed his ear to the door.

“All right, Bernard, son,” Father was saying in a soothing tone. Didn’t
he know that never worked? “Excuse us, everyone,” he said in a louder
tone. “It’s all been a bit too much for Bernard, I’m afraid.”


Don’t talk about him like he’s not there! Gavin raised his fists, and
though he would never actually smack his—no, Bernie’s—father alongside
the head, Gavin made the gesture here in the safety of the darkness.

Bernard’s not stupid, he’s as smart as you are! That’s why he’s so
frustrated.

You couldn’t think your way around a brain injury. Gavin had seen Bernie
try, many times. He knew perfectly well how he should be behaving; it
was just that he literally didn’t have it in him to do it.

Bernie was shouting now, and the guests were muttering. Gavin heard a
flapping noise and pictured Father trying to keep Bernie’s flailing
fists down. He couldn’t summon a bot to subdue his own son, that sort of
thing just wasn’t done. He was going to get hit.

Gavin threw open the door.

Everything was exactly as he’d pictured it would be. Bernie was bigger
than Martin Chaffee, and he’d just gotten in a roundhouse blow that had
sent Father reeling. Some of the guests stood in a semicircle, shocked
by the scene, while others were making for the door.

“Wait, wait,” Father shouted after them. “It’s all right, he’s just
nervous.”

“Can we help?” Two big-shouldered young men (more Makhavs, maybe?)
stepped forward. They looked eager to tackle Bernie, but Eli Makhav
moved surprisingly quickly, putting himself between them and Gavin’s
brother.

“This is a family matter,” he grated. “Stand down.”

Gavin spotted Neal Makhav. He was standing near one of the big glass
doors that led outside, his arms crossed, a contemptuous smile on his face.

Nobody had seen Gavin yet, and when a face did turn his way, it was his
father’s. When he spotted Gavin, his eyes widened and his face flickered
through a whole host of emotions—fury, shame, resignation. Right there,
in one second, Gavin read the past sixteen years of Martin Chaffee’s
life. Then Father tilted his chin up in an unmistakable gesture: Get back!

Gavin stepped into the shadowed lounge and eased the door shut. Through
the curtained windows off to the right, he could hear somebody laughing
on the front lawn. It wasn’t a nice laugh.

It took ten minutes for Bernie to calm down enough that Father could
haul him out of the room. By that time most of the guests had left.
Gavin heard his brother and father coming—a gathering storm of argument
and thudding footsteps—and then the door burst open and Bernie stumbled
into the lounge. He was disheveled and tearstained in the fan of light
from the ballroom.

Martin Chaffee slumped against the door like a broken doll, his face
empty of expression. Gavin went to him and said, “Go,” pointing out the
door. “Salvage what you can.” The Makhavs were still here, along with
some other stalwart friends who’d known Bernie since before the
accident. They would help his Father recover some of his shredded dignity.

Martin nodded wearily and left. Gavin turned to Bernie.

“It happened,” Bernie said. He banged his fists against his temples, not
softly. “Again, again, again. It’s always going to happen, I can’t stop it.”


This was threatening to be a repeat of thousands of similar
conversations. Gavin had tried as many ways of deflating Bernie’s
self-pity and none had worked. Suddenly weary of even trying, he barked
a humorless laugh and said, “And why should you?”

Bernie blinked at him. “What?”

“Well, it’s their problem if they can’t deal with you.” He threw a hand
out to indicate the curtains and the grounds beyond, where aircars like
confections of light were lifting off. “Would you really want to be
friends with somebody who couldn’t accept you for who you are?”

Bernie seemed at a loss as to how to answer that. Finally, he went to
sit in an overstuffed leather armchair under a portrait of one of his
ancestors. Douglas Penn-of-Chaffee seemed to glower disapprovingly at
Bernie; Gavin was convinced that Bernie was aware of this effect and sat
there specifically to cause it.

He looked up at Gavin. “Then why do we try?”

Gavin crossed his arms. “Because your real friends are out there
somewhere. They’ve gotta be. But we’re not gonna find them if we don’t
look.”

“Gotta be?” Bernie croaked contemptuously. “There’s only a million
people in the whole world. It took more than a billion before there
could be a Picasso.”

“It doesn’t take genius to like you, Bernie.”

“It takes something.” Bernie wasn’t looking at him anymore, and Gavin,
embarrassed, went to the window to twitch back the curtain. Sometimes
Bernie’s intelligence startled even Gavin, and he’d known Bernie his
whole life. It takes family, he thought to himself—but that was useless
because the Chaffees were not like the Makhavs. There were nearly a
hundred Makhavs—fractious, quarreling, mutually suspicious though they
might be. But here, there were only Martin Chaffee and his sons, one of
whom wasn’t supposed to exist, and one who didn’t want to.

Neither of them said anything for a long time. All they had ever said to
each other hung in the air between them. One of the things Bernie had
said, and more than once, was, “I should have died.” Gavin’s answer to
that was always the same: “But then I’d be alone.” A thin argument, but
sometimes it was all he had.

There was a polite knock on the door and a bot opened it. “The last of
the guests have left, sirs,” it said.

Gavin left the lounge, then looked back. Bernie hadn’t moved. “Are you
just going to sit in the dark?” he asked.

“Yes,” Bernie said. There wasn’t any anger or sullenness in the way he
said it; his voice sounded almost like he was laughing. Gavin sighed and
finally remembered the fakes in the other room. He practically ran back
to the utility room to dismiss them before either Father or Bernie found
them.

Back in the ballroom, Father was slumped in an armchair, swirling red
wine in a crystal glass and pressing a cold rag against his cheekbone.
Quite a bruise was developing around Martin Penn-of-Chaffee’s left eye.
Two bots hovered in the background, eager to provide assistance. He
ignored them, but sent a glance at Gavin as he came to lean against the
arm of a velvet-chased couch nearby.

Neither spoke, and a few minutes later Bernie emerged from the lounge.
He, too, was subdued, but he walked up to his father and said, “I’ve
been giving it some thought.”

He blew out a heavy sigh. “I think it’s time for Plan B.”

Their father closed his eyes, an expression of such pain that Gavin
hopped up from his slouch. “What?” he said. “What’s Plan B?”

Father and Bernie looked at each other, then both turned to gaze quietly
at Gavin. The look on their faces was almost identical—eloquent and sad,
but Gavin didn’t know what it meant.

“Tell me,” Gavin insisted.

“Not now,” said Father. He glared at Bernie. “We’ll talk about it in the
morning. We’re all a little too . . . ragged . . . right now.”

Gavin looked from one to the other. “But what—”

“In the morning. That’s an order,” Martin said directly to Bernie.
Bernie ducked his head and walked away.

“Go to bed, Gavin,” said his father. Gavin shifted from one foot to the
other, wondering whether he should press the issue. He was so weary,
though, and so much had happened. Finally, he nodded just like Bernie
had and stumbled off to his room, where images and snatches of
conversation from the evening rolled around and around in his head for
what seemed like hours, defying sleep.

NEXT UP IN CULTURE
J. Clarke
2018-05-13 20:59:22 UTC
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On Sun, 13 May 2018 12:36:57 -0700, a425couple
Post by a425couple
from
https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/13/17175816/karl-schroeder-the-million-science-fiction-book-excerpt
A futurist imagines the Earth populated exclusively by the 1 percent
The book hits stores on August 14th, 2018
Graphics by Michele Doying / The Verge
Science fiction is often pretty bad at predicting the future: rather,
it’s a better barometer of the present. But every now and again, an
author establishes a reputation for insight into what the future might
hold. One such author is Canadian writer and futurist Karl Schroeder,
whose new book The Million comes out this summer.
In this far future tale, Earth is populated and ruled exclusively by
super-rich individuals — one million of them, to be exact. Every 30
years they allow the rest of humankind to return to the planet for a
single month, but the rest of the time they forbid the presence of
outsiders in their fabulous utopia. One such outsider is Gavin
Penn-of-Chaffee, an illegal child raised in secret. After his adoptive
father is murdered, Gavin takes on the identity of a dead boy — only to
learn that his new identity has just joined the dreaded secret police
force of The Million. In order to survive, he’ll have to infiltrate
their ranks and stay focused on finding the people who destroyed his life.
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Post by a425couple
Image: Tor.com
Gavin Penn-of-Chaffee smacked his brother’s shoulder. “And what’ll you
do if they mob you?”
“Focus on one at a time,” said Bernard through clenched teeth.
“And if somebody moves to cut you out of the pack?”
“Signal Dad.”
“And if you have the sudden urge to hit somebody upside the head?”
“Retreat.”
“Where?”
“Here.”
Gavin scowled and gave his brother a critical once-over. “Okay, you’re
all set. Knock ’em dead.”
“Don’t say that if you don’t mean it,” warned Bernie. He took a deep
breath, stepped up to the big pair of intricately carved, powder blue
doors, and signaled the bots on either side to open them. Bernie stepped
through the doorway into light and noise, and Gavin stepped back into
the shadows. The doors swung shut, and Gavin’s shoulders slumped.
Now for the hard part.
He walked through the pitch-dark sitting room at speed; though he rarely
came down here, he knew exactly where every table and chair was. When he
opened the door at the far end, it was to the exact same sight that had
met him through the ones that Bernie had used. The vast ballroom Gavin
strode into was packed with men in tuxedos and women wearing all manner
of gowns, dresses, and visual confections. They were chatting, eating
snacks off the trays of passing bots, raising glasses to this or that
proposition, and, way too often, leaning together to eye Bernie and
mutter as he passed by. They could have been holographic projections
from the real ballroom, but they weren’t; like the rest of the Million,
Gavin had been raised to think of digital simulation as uncouth.
Instead, this was a real double to the other room, and the “people” in
it were fakes: bots made to look like the people visiting the Chaffee
estate.
The one difference was that there were floor-to-ceiling windows in that
other room, whereas here, hidden in the heart of the main building, the
walls were blank.
Gavin watched the fake that was imitating his brother long enough to be
sure that he wasn’t about to bolt in terror. The bot not only looked
like Bernie, it mimicked his expressions down to the finest detail, and
repeated in his voice what he’d said in the other room. All looked good
so far: he’d started a conversation with that girl in the lemon-yellow
dress. Seeing this, Gavin turned away and closed his eyes.
Conversations, music, the tinkling of glasses, and the swish of skirts
along the floor washed over him like a calming sea. Light laughter sang
from his left, and he smiled; a dance started up and he listened to the
music echoing off the walls and the squeak of new shoes on the parquet
floor. He tried to forget that this was Bernie’s party and not his. He
tried to imagine all these people gathering here to celebrate him.
But no, that was too much. He had no idea what such a moment would feel
like.
There were more people at the Chaffee estate tonight than Gavin had ever
seen gathered in one place. On any given day he might wander outside and
face a vista of rolling hills and grasslands that never changed. Buffalo
came by, sometimes wolves. Unless you owned a city, say, Paris or New
York, this was all any of the Million normally saw. If he was bored,
Gavin could summon the powers of his personal economy to build things of
interest—palaces, flocks of autonomous skywriting aircraft, dungeons
with fake dragons in them, mechs that he and Bernie could battle. He
could re-create some historical city on the grasslands of central North
America, fill it with fakes, and live like the ancients did for a day or
a week or until he lost interest. In that way, his had been an ordinary
life.
He listened as two women greeted each other just behind him, and he
pictured himself standing next to one of them, her fingers wrapped
around his arm. He could open his eyes and entwine his arm in that of
one of the fakes and pretend he was actually in that other room,
actually among those people.
. . . And that would just be creepy, and sad, and wrong; spying on them
this way was already a mistake. He should be in his own chambers, in his
own wing of the house, curled up with a good book. The only reason he’d
done this was to keep a brotherly eye on Bernie. But he had to let go
sometime. Dejected, he walked to the door and raised his hand to dismiss
the fakes.
Despite himself, he turned for one last look. There were quite a few
young people in the crowd. What would it be like to walk among them? To
talk to them? Bernie’s guests were intimidating, all of them beautiful
or handsome, perfectly dressed, and perfectly poised. Like most of the
scions of the Million, these ones were intensely focused, serious, and
cautious around their elders. They should be—all of human civilization
rested on their shoulders. Each was doubtless determined to become the
greatest composer, pilot, scientist, or philosopher of this generation.
All knew that if there were only one million people alive in the whole
world, then those million had a responsibility to be equal to all who
had come before.
“Stop skulking about, Neal,” snapped an older man’s voice. “This is a
party, not one of your hunts.”
The speaker was an older man, his face eclipsed by the head of a youth
who was turned away from Gavin. All Gavin could see of the pair was
their shared shaggy hair and hulking shoulders. Then the younger one
looked around and sneered at the crowd, and Gavin froze.
He knew that face.
Gavin had been eleven or twelve years old. There was a party—not like
this one, much more relaxed and friendly-sounding—and some of the
neighbors had been there. As usual, Father had told Gavin to stay
hidden, but he couldn’t resist peeking around a doorjamb to see the
guests with his own eyes. That’s when one of the Makhav boys had spotted
him.
It was just a meeting of the eyes, no words had been exchanged, yet
Gavin would always remember that face. It was the only time in his
entire life that he’d locked gazes with someone outside his own family.
Neal Makhav-of-Winter-Park had grown up, was in fact a young man now.
That would make Gavin one, too, he supposed. Little good that it did him.
Neal’s fake stepped away from the older one and said, “You’re one to
talk, Father. You’re just here to laugh at the gimp, like everybody else!”
“Don’t use such language,” warned Neal’s father. “You knew Bernie before
the accident. He was a great kid.”
Neal gave a contemptuous snort. “Yeah, but he zigged when he should have
zagged. Getting that iron bar through the head scrambled his brains, so
what’s he good for now? Somebody should put him out of his misery.”
You could strike a fake without consequences, but Gavin’s father had
always warned him never to do it. “You might get used to hitting them,
and that would make you used to hitting people,” he’d said. So Gavin
kept his clenched fists at his sides. It was little consolation that
Neal’s father had stepped in front of his son and was glaring into his face.
“Don’t you even think of trumping up some sort of duel with Bernard
Chaffee,” he hissed. His eyes widened as Neal glanced away. “You were
thinking of it!”
“Come on, Father, it’s not like I haven’t put down wounded animals
before. And look at this place! Six thousand square kilometers of land,
and just the two of them to take care of it? Old man Chaffee’s got no
heir now, it’s just a matter of time before he admits defeat. Should
have done so before now. Everybody says so.”
Neal’s father crossed his arms and turned away. “The Chaffee lands are
thriving. And Bernie’s no idiot. The injury didn’t affect his intellect,
only his self-control.” He shook his head. “I can’t believe you’d
consider such a thing.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have killed the guy. But this party is
pathetic; it’s a sham and it needs to be exposed. I mean, do they really
think that one of those girls is going to take to him? . . . And
anyway”—and here Neal looked everywhere but at his father’s eyes—“I
still say Bernie’s had help running the place.”
“This again? You swear you saw another boy here once and now you’re
convinced they’re hiding a visitor on the property! That’s ridiculous.”
“I know what I saw,” said Neal, and his fake turned its head and looked
straight through Gavin.
The illusion was so startling that for a second Gavin was sure that Neal
could really see him.
Oh, he did remember that night. After he and Neal Makhav locked eyes,
Neal had kicked up a fuss, asking who the other boy in the house was,
but by that time Gavin had hidden himself, and ordered his bots to do
the same with any evidence that there was a third person in the house.
Father had laughed and given the nosy boy a chance to search the whole
place, just to prove there was nobody here. Neal had done so, much to
the embarrassment of his father and uncle.
“—not a fit profession for a Makhav,” Neal’s father was saying. “It’s
not an honorable use of the hunting skills I gave you.”
Neal snorted in contempt. “I knew you’d say something like that. But my
mind is made up.”
“This isn’t the time or place for this,” said his father. “We’ll talk
about it when we get home.”
Neal Makhav took several steps away from his father, then turned and
sent him an aloof look. “No, we won’t, Father. You see, after we’re done
here, I’m not going home.” He walked away.
Before he could follow Neal, another man stepped up to Neal’s father. He
was gray haired though still powerfully built, and here, too, the family
resemblance was plain. Gavin had seen photos of Eli Makhav; Father made
sure he knew about all the important players in the region. Eli was the
brother of the Makhav clan’s patriarch, and Father said it was really
Eli who ran the household, childless though he was.
“Made up his mind, has he?” said Eli, as both men stared at Neal’s
retreating back.
“He’ll come around. This thing about joining the auditors . . . it’s
just youthful restlessness,” said Neal’s father.
“I’m not so sure about that. And what’s he up to now?” Neal was nudging
one of the ballroom’s marble statues (also faithfully reproduced in the
room where Gavin stood) as if trying to make it fall off its pedestal.
Eli sighed and walked over to him. Gavin followed; he just had to hear this.
Eli came to a halt next to his nephew. Without looking at him, he said,
“Break it and I’ll crack your head wide open.”
Neal looked startled, then guilty, and then began to slink away.
Suddenly Eli’s hand was clamped on his wrist.
“That goes double for Bernard Chaffee,” he said. Neal pulled away but
couldn’t even get the older man’s arm to quiver.
Eli let go, and Neal stepped back, snarling as he rubbed his bruised
wrist. Then suddenly he laughed.
“I don’t have to do anything, old man,” he said. “Look!”
Eli turned, and Gavin turned, and so just managed to catch the moment
when Bernie’s hard-won self-control failed.
He’d clearly been trying to hold a conversation with one of the girls,
but others had gathered around, perhaps reassured by his calmness. They
were curious. Later, Gavin would forgive them for it, but now they
pressed close, trying to hear, and Gavin could see it all become too
much for Bernie. The unfamiliar people, the babble of voices and moving
bodies, the pressure to be at his best, anxiety at meeting the girls . .
. Any of these could have pushed Bernard Chaffee over the edge, and
right now they were all present at once. Father reminded him to keep
Bernie’s exposure to strangers short, but the problem was, Bernie always
seemed fine, right up until that moment when he—
“No!” Bernie swung his drink and champagne sprayed those nearest him.
“Get away, I can’t, I don’t wanna, I—”
“Aw, no, Bern,” said Gavin. He took two steps toward his brother, but
this wasn’t really Bernie, just a robotic actor faithfully playing out a
drama to which Gavin wasn’t invited.
He ran out of the utility room and through the darkened lounge, and put
his hand on the door to the real ballroom. He could hear Bernie’s
panicked voice through the thick wood of the door.
It wasn’t too late. He knew what to do, the words to say to back Bernie
off and settle him again. He knew how to do it. But he couldn’t go in there.
If he did, everyone would learn that Martin Chaffee was harboring an
illegal visitor. That wasn’t necessarily a capital crime, but Father had
always acted as if Gavin’s case was different. There was some dire
reason for his remaining hidden here—and that reason trumped all other
considerations.
He let go of the knob but pressed his ear to the door.
“All right, Bernard, son,” Father was saying in a soothing tone. Didn’t
he know that never worked? “Excuse us, everyone,” he said in a louder
tone. “It’s all been a bit too much for Bernard, I’m afraid.”
Don’t talk about him like he’s not there! Gavin raised his fists, and
though he would never actually smack his—no, Bernie’s—father alongside
the head, Gavin made the gesture here in the safety of the darkness.
Bernard’s not stupid, he’s as smart as you are! That’s why he’s so
frustrated.
You couldn’t think your way around a brain injury. Gavin had seen Bernie
try, many times. He knew perfectly well how he should be behaving; it
was just that he literally didn’t have it in him to do it.
Bernie was shouting now, and the guests were muttering. Gavin heard a
flapping noise and pictured Father trying to keep Bernie’s flailing
fists down. He couldn’t summon a bot to subdue his own son, that sort of
thing just wasn’t done. He was going to get hit.
Gavin threw open the door.
Everything was exactly as he’d pictured it would be. Bernie was bigger
than Martin Chaffee, and he’d just gotten in a roundhouse blow that had
sent Father reeling. Some of the guests stood in a semicircle, shocked
by the scene, while others were making for the door.
“Wait, wait,” Father shouted after them. “It’s all right, he’s just
nervous.”
“Can we help?” Two big-shouldered young men (more Makhavs, maybe?)
stepped forward. They looked eager to tackle Bernie, but Eli Makhav
moved surprisingly quickly, putting himself between them and Gavin’s
brother.
“This is a family matter,” he grated. “Stand down.”
Gavin spotted Neal Makhav. He was standing near one of the big glass
doors that led outside, his arms crossed, a contemptuous smile on his face.
Nobody had seen Gavin yet, and when a face did turn his way, it was his
father’s. When he spotted Gavin, his eyes widened and his face flickered
through a whole host of emotions—fury, shame, resignation. Right there,
in one second, Gavin read the past sixteen years of Martin Chaffee’s
life. Then Father tilted his chin up in an unmistakable gesture: Get back!
Gavin stepped into the shadowed lounge and eased the door shut. Through
the curtained windows off to the right, he could hear somebody laughing
on the front lawn. It wasn’t a nice laugh.
It took ten minutes for Bernie to calm down enough that Father could
haul him out of the room. By that time most of the guests had left.
Gavin heard his brother and father coming—a gathering storm of argument
and thudding footsteps—and then the door burst open and Bernie stumbled
into the lounge. He was disheveled and tearstained in the fan of light
from the ballroom.
Martin Chaffee slumped against the door like a broken doll, his face
empty of expression. Gavin went to him and said, “Go,” pointing out the
door. “Salvage what you can.” The Makhavs were still here, along with
some other stalwart friends who’d known Bernie since before the
accident. They would help his Father recover some of his shredded dignity.
Martin nodded wearily and left. Gavin turned to Bernie.
“It happened,” Bernie said. He banged his fists against his temples, not
softly. “Again, again, again. It’s always going to happen, I can’t stop it.”
This was threatening to be a repeat of thousands of similar
conversations. Gavin had tried as many ways of deflating Bernie’s
self-pity and none had worked. Suddenly weary of even trying, he barked
a humorless laugh and said, “And why should you?”
Bernie blinked at him. “What?”
“Well, it’s their problem if they can’t deal with you.” He threw a hand
out to indicate the curtains and the grounds beyond, where aircars like
confections of light were lifting off. “Would you really want to be
friends with somebody who couldn’t accept you for who you are?”
Bernie seemed at a loss as to how to answer that. Finally, he went to
sit in an overstuffed leather armchair under a portrait of one of his
ancestors. Douglas Penn-of-Chaffee seemed to glower disapprovingly at
Bernie; Gavin was convinced that Bernie was aware of this effect and sat
there specifically to cause it.
He looked up at Gavin. “Then why do we try?”
Gavin crossed his arms. “Because your real friends are out there
somewhere. They’ve gotta be. But we’re not gonna find them if we don’t
look.”
“Gotta be?” Bernie croaked contemptuously. “There’s only a million
people in the whole world. It took more than a billion before there
could be a Picasso.”
“It doesn’t take genius to like you, Bernie.”
“It takes something.” Bernie wasn’t looking at him anymore, and Gavin,
embarrassed, went to the window to twitch back the curtain. Sometimes
Bernie’s intelligence startled even Gavin, and he’d known Bernie his
whole life. It takes family, he thought to himself—but that was useless
because the Chaffees were not like the Makhavs. There were nearly a
hundred Makhavs—fractious, quarreling, mutually suspicious though they
might be. But here, there were only Martin Chaffee and his sons, one of
whom wasn’t supposed to exist, and one who didn’t want to.
Neither of them said anything for a long time. All they had ever said to
each other hung in the air between them. One of the things Bernie had
said, and more than once, was, “I should have died.” Gavin’s answer to
that was always the same: “But then I’d be alone.” A thin argument, but
sometimes it was all he had.
There was a polite knock on the door and a bot opened it. “The last of
the guests have left, sirs,” it said.
Gavin left the lounge, then looked back. Bernie hadn’t moved. “Are you
just going to sit in the dark?” he asked.
“Yes,” Bernie said. There wasn’t any anger or sullenness in the way he
said it; his voice sounded almost like he was laughing. Gavin sighed and
finally remembered the fakes in the other room. He practically ran back
to the utility room to dismiss them before either Father or Bernie found
them.
Back in the ballroom, Father was slumped in an armchair, swirling red
wine in a crystal glass and pressing a cold rag against his cheekbone.
Quite a bruise was developing around Martin Penn-of-Chaffee’s left eye.
Two bots hovered in the background, eager to provide assistance. He
ignored them, but sent a glance at Gavin as he came to lean against the
arm of a velvet-chased couch nearby.
Neither spoke, and a few minutes later Bernie emerged from the lounge.
He, too, was subdued, but he walked up to his father and said, “I’ve
been giving it some thought.”
He blew out a heavy sigh. “I think it’s time for Plan B.”
Their father closed his eyes, an expression of such pain that Gavin
hopped up from his slouch. “What?” he said. “What’s Plan B?”
Father and Bernie looked at each other, then both turned to gaze quietly
at Gavin. The look on their faces was almost identical—eloquent and sad,
but Gavin didn’t know what it meant.
“Tell me,” Gavin insisted.
“Not now,” said Father. He glared at Bernie. “We’ll talk about it in the
morning. We’re all a little too . . . ragged . . . right now.”
Gavin looked from one to the other. “But what—”
“In the morning. That’s an order,” Martin said directly to Bernie.
Bernie ducked his head and walked away.
“Go to bed, Gavin,” said his father. Gavin shifted from one foot to the
other, wondering whether he should press the issue. He was so weary,
though, and so much had happened. Finally, he nodded just like Bernie
had and stumbled off to his room, where images and snatches of
conversation from the evening rolled around and around in his head for
what seemed like hours, defying sleep.
NEXT UP IN CULTURE
Dorothy J Heydt
2018-05-13 21:07:48 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
J. Clarke
2018-05-13 22:20:28 UTC
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Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.

But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
Robert Carnegie
2018-05-13 22:28:27 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
J. Clarke
2018-05-13 22:40:06 UTC
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On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel that that
is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
Lawrence Watt-Evans
2018-05-14 01:00:54 UTC
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On Sun, 13 May 2018 18:40:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel that that
is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
My father was a professor of organic chemistry at Tufts, with an
undergraduate degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard, and
came from old money.

He could unclog a toilet, rewire a light switch, plaster a wall,
change a tire, play piano, sing well, and speak eight languages (he
could read several more).

My son is an assistant professor of physics at Zhejiang University,
working with metamaterials. He also tutors kids in chess, plays
tournament-level Magic: The Gathering, and probably a lot more I don't
know about.

The idea that academics are all a bunch of helpless theoreticians with
no real-world skills is absurd and insulting.
--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
My latest novel is Stone Unturned: A Legend of Ethshar.
See http://www.ethshar.com/StoneUnturned.shtml
J. Clarke
2018-05-14 01:37:20 UTC
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On Sun, 13 May 2018 21:00:54 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 13 May 2018 18:40:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel that that
is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
My father was a professor of organic chemistry at Tufts, with an
undergraduate degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard, and
came from old money.
He could unclog a toilet, rewire a light switch, plaster a wall,
change a tire, play piano, sing well, and speak eight languages (he
could read several more).
My son is an assistant professor of physics at Zhejiang University,
working with metamaterials. He also tutors kids in chess, plays
tournament-level Magic: The Gathering, and probably a lot more I don't
know about.
The idea that academics are all a bunch of helpless theoreticians with
no real-world skills is absurd and insulting.
Unfortunately the attitudes of some academics invites that
characterization. Then there was Pauli, who was reputed to be easily
locatable in any building by following the trail of burned out light
bulbs and smoking wreckage that used to be precision instrumentation.
Scott Lurndal
2018-05-14 13:28:24 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 21:00:54 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 13 May 2018 18:40:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel that that
is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
My father was a professor of organic chemistry at Tufts, with an
undergraduate degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard, and
came from old money.
He could unclog a toilet, rewire a light switch, plaster a wall,
change a tire, play piano, sing well, and speak eight languages (he
could read several more).
My son is an assistant professor of physics at Zhejiang University,
working with metamaterials. He also tutors kids in chess, plays
tournament-level Magic: The Gathering, and probably a lot more I don't
know about.
The idea that academics are all a bunch of helpless theoreticians with
no real-world skills is absurd and insulting.
Unfortunately the attitudes of some academics invites that
characterization. Then there was Pauli, who was reputed to be easily
locatable in any building by following the trail of burned out light
bulbs and smoking wreckage that used to be precision instrumentation.
Horseshit. It's people like you that make up the memes to cover your
insecurities.
William Hyde
2018-05-14 18:22:06 UTC
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Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 13 May 2018 18:40:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel that that
is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
My father was a professor of organic chemistry at Tufts, with an
undergraduate degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard, and
came from old money.
He could unclog a toilet, rewire a light switch, plaster a wall,
change a tire, play piano, sing well, and speak eight languages (he
could read several more).
My son is an assistant professor of physics at Zhejiang University,
working with metamaterials. He also tutors kids in chess, plays
tournament-level Magic: The Gathering, and probably a lot more I don't
know about.
The idea that academics are all a bunch of helpless theoreticians with
no real-world skills is absurd and insulting.
When the plumbing went haywire at a dinner party in an expensive NY apartment, one of the guests fixed it. John Kenneth Galbraith had done his undergrad in an agricultural college, after all, and plumbing was a required course.

William Hyde
Kevrob
2018-05-14 18:53:42 UTC
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Post by William Hyde
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 13 May 2018 18:40:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel that that
is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
My father was a professor of organic chemistry at Tufts, with an
undergraduate degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard, and
came from old money.
He could unclog a toilet, rewire a light switch, plaster a wall,
change a tire, play piano, sing well, and speak eight languages (he
could read several more).
My son is an assistant professor of physics at Zhejiang University,
working with metamaterials. He also tutors kids in chess, plays
tournament-level Magic: The Gathering, and probably a lot more I don't
know about.
The idea that academics are all a bunch of helpless theoreticians with
no real-world skills is absurd and insulting.
When the plumbing went haywire at a dinner party in an expensive NY apartment, one of the guests fixed it. John Kenneth Galbraith had done his undergrad in an agricultural college, after all, and plumbing was a required course.
That'd explain all the Keynesians' enthusiasm for "pump priming"
measures. :)

Kevin R
a425couple
2018-05-18 15:45:50 UTC
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Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 13 May 2018 18:40:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel that that
is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
My father was a professor of organic chemistry at Tufts, with an
undergraduate degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard, and
came from old money.
He could unclog a toilet, rewire a light switch, plaster a wall,
change a tire, play piano, sing well, and speak eight languages (he
could read several more).
My son is an assistant professor of physics at Zhejiang University,
working with metamaterials. He also tutors kids in chess, plays
tournament-level Magic: The Gathering, and probably a lot more I don't
know about.
The idea that academics are all a bunch of helpless theoreticians with
no real-world skills is absurd and insulting.
I certainly agree with what I believe is Lawrence's clear
point that stereotypes indicating all "academics" can not
handle real world problems is wrong.
But I push further, stereotypes that "academics" are best
at everything is also very wrong.

Successful intelligence can not be measured by academic degrees.
It is very hard to measure.

The top 1% of rich people in the future, will be the same
as the top 1% is now. A very diverse group. There will
always be plenty of practical, hands-on problem solvers,
as well at top academics.

I'd suggest we encourage our youth to read:

#1 "The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy"
by Thomas J. Stanley (Author), William D. Danko (Author)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CLT31D6/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

#2 "Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money
That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!" Mass Market Paperback –
by Robert T. Kiyosaki (Author)
https://www.amazon.com/Rich-Dad-Poor-Teach-Middle/dp/1612680194/ref=pd_cp_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1612680194&pd_rd_r=2BGNQ6DXMBBFK47BPP94&pd_rd_w=YrluH&pd_rd_wg=APP2w&psc=1&refRID=2BGNQ6DXMBBFK47BPP94

#3 "Successful Intelligence: How Practical and Creative Intelligence
Determine Success in Life" 1997 by Robert Sternberg
https://www.amazon.com/Successful-Intelligence-Practical-Creative-Determine/dp/0452279062

Here is yet another quite amazing true story:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shahid_Khan
"Khan was born in Lahore, Pakistan, to a middle-class family who were
involved in the construction industry.[8] His mother (now retired) was a
professor of mathematics.[3] He moved to the United States in 1967 at
age 16[3] to study at the University of Illinois at
Urbana–Champaign.[9][10] When he went to the United States, he spent his
first night in a $2/night room at the University Y-YMCA,[3] and his
first job was washing dishes for $1.20 an hour.[3] He joined the Beta
Theta Pi fraternity at the school.[11] He graduated from the UIUC
College of Engineering with a BSc in Industrial Engineering in 1971. He
later was awarded the Mechanical Science and Engineering Distinguished
Alumni Award in 1999.[12][13][14] Khan became a US citizen in 1991.[3]
He is a Muslim.
Jibini Kula Tumbili Kujisalimisha
2018-05-18 15:54:35 UTC
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Post by a425couple
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 13 May 2018 18:40:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended
to except once every 30 years. Or do the one million
one-percenters snake their own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing
about the early days of that colony when the entire
population was a Ph.D. in something and there was nobody
who knew how to unstick a stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at
least _one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist
who could work it out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world
academia has moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel
that that is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
My father was a professor of organic chemistry at Tufts, with
an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a doctorate from
Harvard, and came from old money.
He could unclog a toilet, rewire a light switch, plaster a
wall, change a tire, play piano, sing well, and speak eight
languages (he could read several more).
My son is an assistant professor of physics at Zhejiang
University, working with metamaterials. He also tutors kids in
chess, plays tournament-level Magic: The Gathering, and
probably a lot more I don't know about.
The idea that academics are all a bunch of helpless
theoreticians with no real-world skills is absurd and
insulting.
I certainly agree with what I believe is Lawrence's clear
point that stereotypes indicating all "academics" can not
handle real world problems is wrong.
But I push further, stereotypes that "academics" are best
at everything is also very wrong.
The stereotype, like all stereotypes, did not come out of nowhere.
Some academics are brilliant in their field, and dagnerously
incompetent, even stupid, in other areas.
Post by a425couple
Successful intelligence can not be measured by academic degrees.
It is very hard to measure.
It is very hard even to defeine. Currently, those who study
intelligence scientifically, do not consider "intelligence" a
singular. There are many kinds of intelligence, and many are
completely independent of each other. One can, for instance, be
brilliant at dealing with people, but unable to balance a
checkbook.
--
Terry Austin

Vacation photos from Iceland:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/QaXQkB

"Terry Austin: like the polio vaccine, only with more asshole."
-- David Bilek

Jesus forgives sinners, not criminals.
a425couple
2018-05-18 16:47:50 UTC
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Post by Jibini Kula Tumbili Kujisalimisha
Post by a425couple
Post by Lawrence Watt-Evans
On Sun, 13 May 2018 18:40:06 -0400, J. Clarke
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended
to except once every 30 years. Or do the one million
one-percenters snake their own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing
about the early days of that colony when the entire
population was a Ph.D. in something and there was nobody
who knew how to unstick a stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at
least _one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist
who could work it out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world
academia has moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel
that that is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
My father was a professor of organic chemistry at Tufts, with
an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a doctorate from
Harvard, and came from old money.
He could unclog a toilet, rewire a light switch, plaster a
wall, change a tire, play piano, sing well, and speak eight
languages (he could read several more).
My son is an assistant professor of physics at Zhejiang
University, working with metamaterials. He also tutors kids in
chess, plays tournament-level Magic: The Gathering, and
probably a lot more I don't know about.
The idea that academics are all a bunch of helpless
theoreticians with no real-world skills is absurd and
insulting.
I certainly agree with what I believe is Lawrence's clear
point that stereotypes indicating all "academics" can not
handle real world problems is wrong.
But I push further, stereotypes that "academics" are best
at everything is also very wrong.
The stereotype, like all stereotypes, did not come out of nowhere.
Some academics are brilliant in their field, and dagnerously
incompetent, even stupid, in other areas.
Yes.
Post by Jibini Kula Tumbili Kujisalimisha
Post by a425couple
Successful intelligence can not be measured by academic degrees.
It is very hard to measure.
It is very hard even to defeine. Currently, those who study
intelligence scientifically, do not consider "intelligence" a
singular. There are many kinds of intelligence, and many are
completely independent of each other. One can, for instance, be
brilliant at dealing with people, but unable to balance a
checkbook.
Yes.
(Your above is somewhat covered in the "Successful Inteligence" book.)
Beware of people who quickly form judgements and try
to act on them to limit or exclude others.
Scott Lurndal
2018-05-14 13:27:33 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by J. Clarke
Must have really good plumbing to not need to be attended to except
once every 30 years. Or do the one million one-percenters snake their
own drains?
Reminiscent of the backstory for _Cyteen_, reminiscing about the
early days of that colony when the entire population was a Ph.D.
in something and there was nobody who knew how to unstick a
stopped toilet.
Not all that realistic a scenario though--there had to be at least
_one_ mechanical engineer or experimental physicist who could work it
out.
If they worked it out from hydrological first principles,
I'd give it ten minutes, minimum, before going in.
Post by J. Clarke
But it is rather sad how far from the everyday world academia has
moved itself.
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel that that
is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
Cite?
Juho Julkunen
2018-05-14 14:46:21 UTC
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In article <***@4ax.com>, jclarke.873638
@gmail.com says...
Post by J. Clarke
On Sun, 13 May 2018 15:28:27 -0700 (PDT), Robert Carnegie
Post by Robert Carnegie
It's rather a straw-man argument. Being educated doesn't
have to mean not understanding plumbing.
It doesn't have to mean it but many academics seem to feel that that
is work for "technicians" and beneath their dignity.
Civilization is built on specialization.
--
Juho Julkunen
I am aware of the Heinlein quote.
Klaus Meinhard
2018-05-14 08:01:14 UTC
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Hallo a425couple,
Post by a425couple
A futurist imagines the Earth populated exclusively by the 1 percent
In this far future tale, Earth is populated and ruled exclusively by
super-rich individuals — one million of them, to be exact.
In my book 1 million is exactly 1 percent of 100 million.

As Earth's population is fast nearing 10 billion now,1 million equals 1
percent of 1 percent, a tenth of a promille, off by a factor of 100.
Post by a425couple
Every 30 years they allow the rest of humankind to return to the
planet for a single month, but the rest of the time they forbid the
presence of outsiders in their fabulous utopia.
Nice. And they keep up housing, energy, water, nourishment
infrastructure in the meantime, which might be costly and look ugly in
their paradise? Or do they put up tents?

A few billion humans at an average weight of, say, 70 kg means landing
and lifting 350 to 500 million tons of humans alone, without the weight
of the hardware.

Stretches the bounds of credibility a bit, does it?
--
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Klaus Meinhard
Quadibloc
2018-05-14 12:39:57 UTC
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Post by Klaus Meinhard
A few billion humans at an average weight of, say, 70 kg means landing
and lifting 350 to 500 million tons of humans alone, without the weight
of the hardware.
Perhaps there's a dimensional doorway.

And for 10 billion people to be allowed to visit Earth doesn't necessarily mean
they all take advantage of the opportunity.

John Savard
Quadibloc
2018-05-14 12:45:59 UTC
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Post by Klaus Meinhard
In my book 1 million is exactly 1 percent of 100 million.
As Earth's population is fast nearing 10 billion now,1 million equals 1
percent of 1 percent, a tenth of a promille, off by a factor of 100.
Good point! However, "the one percent" just means "rich people" in some
contexts. And it might mean the top 0.2% or so of the people in the
industrialized world, with no one from the other countries.

Or perhaps 99% of the 1% decided they were honest men from the land of the palm
trees... which does them credit. (Con los pobres de la tierra, quiero yo mi
suerte echar/With the poor people of the Earth I want to share my fate)

John Savard
David Johnston
2018-05-14 16:29:29 UTC
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Post by Klaus Meinhard
Hallo a425couple,
Post by a425couple
A futurist imagines the Earth populated exclusively by the 1 percent
In this far future tale, Earth is populated and ruled exclusively by
super-rich individuals — one million of them, to be exact.
In my book 1 million is exactly 1 percent of 100 million.
As Earth's population is fast nearing 10 billion now,1 million equals 1
percent of 1 percent, a tenth of a promille, off by a factor of 100.
<shrug> The truth is, the category that people usually refer to as the
one percent now is a great deal less than that. But the "less than one
percent" just doesn't have much of a ring to it.
Kevrob
2018-05-14 17:25:59 UTC
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Post by David Johnston
<shrug> The truth is, the category that people usually refer to as the
one percent now is a great deal less than that. But the "less than one
percent" just doesn't have much of a ring to it.
Demagoguery has never required accuracy.

Kevin R
Quadibloc
2018-05-14 18:09:21 UTC
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Post by David Johnston
<shrug> The truth is, the category that people usually refer to as the
one percent now is a great deal less than that. But the "less than one
percent" just doesn't have much of a ring to it.
I had thought that the "1%" didn't mean just the very rich, but even just upper
middle-class people who, for example, would buy an iPhone instead of an Android
phone without the price difference even entering into their consideration.

I don't know how many people that is, but that would be a bigger group of people
than the jet set.

John Savard
Klaus Meinhard
2018-05-15 09:58:59 UTC
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Hallo Quadibloc,
Post by Quadibloc
I don't know how many people that is, but that would be a bigger group of people
than the jet set.
The original post expressively mentioned exactly 1 million people
remaining on Earth.

And it's not the really rich that squander their money on the jet set.
--
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Klaus Meinhard
J. Clarke
2018-05-15 11:44:44 UTC
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Post by Klaus Meinhard
Hallo Quadibloc,
Post by Quadibloc
I don't know how many people that is, but that would be a bigger group of people
than the jet set.
The original post expressively mentioned exactly 1 million people
remaining on Earth.
And it's not the really rich that squander their money on the jet set.
You don't see Bill Gates or Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos engaging in
scandal after scandal all over Europe. Paris Hilton is rich but she's
not even a billionaire, so today she doesn't count as "really rich".
Greg Goss
2018-05-15 22:11:38 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
not even a billionaire, so today she doesn't count as "really rich".
I read somewhere that the definition of "millionaire" is changing from
someone with a net worth of a million, to someone with a million in
earnings each year.
--
We are geeks. Resistance is voltage over current.
Dimensional Traveler
2018-05-16 00:43:30 UTC
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Post by Greg Goss
Post by J. Clarke
not even a billionaire, so today she doesn't count as "really rich".
I read somewhere that the definition of "millionaire" is changing from
someone with a net worth of a million, to someone with a million in
earnings each year.
More like "someone who can get a million dollar loan from a bank".
--
Inquiring minds want to know while minds with a self-preservation
instinct are running screaming.
Michael F. Stemper
2018-05-16 17:20:36 UTC
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Post by Greg Goss
Post by J. Clarke
not even a billionaire, so today she doesn't count as "really rich".
I read somewhere that the definition of "millionaire" is changing from
someone with a net worth of a million, to someone with a million in
earnings each year.
David Friedman suggested that the definition should be changed that way
a couple of years back on rec.arts.sf.fandom.
--
Michael F. Stemper
Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.
Greg Goss
2018-05-16 18:10:14 UTC
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Post by Michael F. Stemper
Post by Greg Goss
Post by J. Clarke
not even a billionaire, so today she doesn't count as "really rich".
I read somewhere that the definition of "millionaire" is changing from
someone with a net worth of a million, to someone with a million in
earnings each year.
David Friedman suggested that the definition should be changed that way
a couple of years back on rec.arts.sf.fandom.
Friedman was also active on AFCA, so that's probably where I heard it.
--
We are geeks. Resistance is voltage over current.
Kevrob
2018-05-16 20:11:25 UTC
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Post by Greg Goss
Post by Michael F. Stemper
Post by Greg Goss
Post by J. Clarke
not even a billionaire, so today she doesn't count as "really rich".
I read somewhere that the definition of "millionaire" is changing from
someone with a net worth of a million, to someone with a million in
earnings each year.
David Friedman suggested that the definition should be changed that way
a couple of years back on rec.arts.sf.fandom.
Friedman was also active on AFCA, so that's probably where I heard it.
--
"Millionaire" was an early 19th century grab from the French, which had
used it for sixty years by then.

https://www.etymonline.com/word/millionaire

A $20 gold piece in 1820 would be worth $1,320 on today's spot
market. That would mean you'd have to have $66 million today,
or a $100 million lump sum lottery payment, after taxes, to
have the buying power of a J J Astor - era millionaire.

Now, I don't know how to figure "purchasing power parity" over
a $200 year period, and any "market basket" of goods has changed
wildly. Astor couldn't have purchased open heart surgery, and I
would neither want to, nor be able to legally buy slaves. I could
buy a Roomba* to clean my floors.

Kevin R

* ObSF: Hired Girl from RAH's "Door Into Summer."
Quadibloc
2018-05-16 22:48:54 UTC
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Post by Kevrob
A $20 gold piece in 1820 would be worth $1,320 on today's spot
market. That would mean you'd have to have $66 million today,
or a $100 million lump sum lottery payment, after taxes, to
have the buying power of a J J Astor - era millionaire.
Now, I don't know how to figure "purchasing power parity" over
a $200 year period, and any "market basket" of goods has changed
wildly. Astor couldn't have purchased open heart surgery, and I
would neither want to, nor be able to legally buy slaves. I could
buy a Roomba* to clean my floors.
John Jacob Astor lived in the state of New York. As this wasn't in the South, I
checked: there were still slaves in New York up to 1827, but they were ones that
had been grandfathered under a gradual abolition law passed in 1799. So Astor
may not have been able to buy a slave in 1820 either.

John Savard
Kevrob
2018-05-17 03:38:14 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
Post by Kevrob
A $20 gold piece in 1820 would be worth $1,320 on today's spot
market. That would mean you'd have to have $66 million today,
or a $100 million lump sum lottery payment, after taxes, to
have the buying power of a J J Astor - era millionaire.
Now, I don't know how to figure "purchasing power parity" over
a $200 year period, and any "market basket" of goods has changed
wildly. Astor couldn't have purchased open heart surgery, and I
would neither want to, nor be able to legally buy slaves. I could
buy a Roomba* to clean my floors.
John Jacob Astor lived in the state of New York. As this wasn't in the South, I
checked: there were still slaves in New York up to 1827, but they were ones that
had been grandfathered under a gradual abolition law passed in 1799. So Astor
may not have been able to buy a slave in 1820 either.
Which is why I mentioned a JJA-ERA millionaire. Also, NY law
could not stop our theoretical Knickerbocker moneybags from
buying a piece of "human property" who had been grandfathered
in. There was a similar law in New Jersey, and total manumission
was slower, them. Our millionaire could always buy people and keep
them in a slave state, or in DC.

Astor himself waqs known to help runaways who worked for him
escape the slave-catchers, as in this case:

http://www.blackpast.org/perspectives/william-henry-squire-johnson-slave-quarters-courtroom

Actually, a mark of conspicuous consumption at the time would have
been to hire free folks, white or black, as household servants while
the "neighbors" used slaves or indentured servants. That'd show
you had money to burn.

Kevin R
a425couple
2018-05-21 20:56:05 UTC
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Post by Klaus Meinhard
Hallo a425couple,
Post by a425couple
A futurist imagines the Earth populated exclusively by the 1 percent
In this far future tale, Earth is populated and ruled exclusively by
  super-rich individuals — one million of them, to be exact.
In my book 1 million is exactly 1 percent of 100 million.
As Earth's population is fast nearing 10 billion now,1 million equals 1
percent of 1 percent, a tenth of a promille, off by a factor of 100.
<shrug>  The truth is, the category that people usually refer to as the
one percent now is a great deal less than that.  But the "less than one
percent" just doesn't have much of a ring to it.
A fair hunk of valid information:
from
https://dqydj.com/who-are-the-one-percent-united-states/

Who Are the One Percent in the United States by Income and Net Worth?
Economics May 21, 2018 by PK

The concept of the “one percent” has captured the American public’s
imagination in the last few years. Everything from newspaper articles
to policy proposals makes a point to highlight effects on this nebulous
upper class. But precise as the phrase seems to be, the majority of
folks don’t really know what the phrase “one percent” means. Let’s try
to answer that today: who are the one percent?

Who Are the One Percent by Income?
Here on DQYDJ we’ve done a lot of work with income microdata, trying to
get a bead on what people are paid in America. Most frequently, that
means Current Population Survey data – usually through the ASEC or
Annual Social and Economic Supplement, a March survey. The data in this
section is from the 2017 survey, which means it is income earned between
January and December of 2016.

With around 100,000 data points, it’s a statistically significant view
of how America is doing. Additionally, for the last few years we’ve
created calculators to help you quickly do the math on America’s various
income distributions.

Even with this precision, there are still different ways to break it
down. Let’s briefly look at individual income, household income, and
income by sex.

Income of the 10%, 1%, and .1%
Percentile Threshold 10.00% 1.00% 0.10%*
Individual Income $108,033.00 $300,800.00 $1,099,999.00
Household Income $170,432.00 $430,600.00 $1,135,421.00
Female Workers $88,005.00 $212,799.00 $800,000.00
Male Workers $128,100.00 $387,853.00 $1,099,999.00

*Note that IPUMS-CPS microdata is top-coded and pruned for privacy
reasons, so the top numbers are a bit dubious. Consider the .1% column
aspirational… and not terribly accurate!

You can find the original source (and methodology) in the calculators:

Individual Income Percentile Calculator
Household Income Percentile Calculator
Individual Incomes for Males and Females Percentile Calculator
In the “too hard to display above but also useful for comparison” category:

Individual Income Percentile by Age Calculator
Individual Income Percentiles by Age for Males and Females Calculator
Who Are the One Percent by Net Worth in America?
More useful, however, is looking at the one percent by net worth. If we
had our way, a view of the top 10%, 1%, and .1% would concentrate more
on accumulated wealth instead of affluence. (You know, stocks vs. flows
and all that.)


Net worth tends to have an even more extreme spread than income does.
While a fairly large number of households in the United States have zero
or negative net worth, the same isn’t true for income. Household income
reflects transfer payments, while the government isn’t really in the
business of transferring wealth.

(Okay fine, make your capitalized valuations of Social Security
arguments in the comments. But… you can’t pass it to the next generation!)

This data comes from the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances from the
Federal Reserve, and we originally calculated these for our top American
net worths and net worth percentiles article.

Net Worth of the 10%, 1%, and .1%
Percentile Threshold 10.00% 1.00% 0.10%
Net Worth $1,182,390.36 $10,374,030.10 $43,090,281.00
Which Measurement Do You Prefer for the One Percent?
If you insist on using incomes, we feel that using individual income is
the best choice for determining the one percent.

Using household income disguises the true income figure when there are
multiple earners in a household – say, two working spouses or a
Millennial living at home. It also doesn’t account for the spending
difference in household sizes.

Using net worth to decide on the one percent threshold is even better.

Necessarily a household measure, household net worth sidesteps spending
and cost of living questions because net worth is by definition not
spent. That is to say, regardless of household size or location, net
worth is always untapped resources. It’s a true measure of how much
‘extra‘ a household has accumulated. (It also curves up very noticeably
at the top end.)

Net worth data is also harder to come by. There is some correlation
between wealth and income, but it’s not as high as you might suspect –
and it changes by age. Wealth is truly the marker of the highest
strata, however.

One interesting stat: going from the top 10% of wealth to the top 1%
requires an large jump while income “only” requires a much smaller bump.

So for us, the true measure of the one percent is by wealth.

What’s your preferred measure? Who are the one percent? The highest
earners, or the best accumulators? Make your case in the comments!

Related Posts:
Net Worth Percentile Calculator for the United States in 2017
United States Net Worth Brackets, Percentiles, and Top One Percent in
2017
Net Worth by Age Calculator for the United States in 2013
Net Worth by Age Calculator for the United States
a425couple
2018-05-21 21:14:45 UTC
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Post by a425couple
Post by Klaus Meinhard
Hallo a425couple,
Post by a425couple
A futurist imagines the Earth populated exclusively by the 1 percent
In this far future tale, Earth is populated and ruled exclusively by
  super-rich individuals — one million of them, to be exact.
In my book 1 million is exactly 1 percent of 100 million.
As Earth's population is fast nearing 10 billion now,1 million equals 1
percent of 1 percent, a tenth of a promille, off by a factor of 100.
<shrug>  The truth is, the category that people usually refer to as
the one percent now is a great deal less than that.  But the "less
than one percent" just doesn't have much of a ring to it.
from
https://dqydj.com/who-are-the-one-percent-united-states/
Who Are the One Percent in the United States by Income and Net Worth?
Economics     May 21, 2018 by PK
The concept of the “one percent” has captured the American public’s
imagination in the last few years.  Everything from newspaper articles
to policy proposals makes a point to highlight effects on this nebulous
upper class.   But precise as the phrase seems to be, the majority of
folks don’t really know what the phrase “one percent” means.  Let’s try
to answer that today: who are the one percent?
Who Are the One Percent by Income?
Here on DQYDJ we’ve done a lot of work with income microdata, trying to
get a bead on what people are paid in America.  Most frequently, that
means Current Population Survey data – usually through the ASEC or
Annual Social and Economic Supplement, a March survey.  The data in this
section is from the 2017 survey, which means it is income earned between
January and December of 2016.
With around 100,000 data points, it’s a statistically significant view
of how America is doing.  Additionally, for the last few years we’ve
created calculators to help you quickly do the math on America’s various
income distributions.
Even with this precision, there are still different ways to break it
down.  Let’s briefly look at individual income, household income, and
income by sex.
Income of the         10%,           1%,          and   .1%
Percentile Threshold    10.00%        1.00%           0.10%*
Individual Income    $108,033.00    $300,800.00    $1,099,999.00
Household Income    $170,432.00    $430,600.00    $1,135,421.00
Female Workers          $88,005.00    $212,799.00    $800,000.00
Male Workers         $128,100.00    $387,853.00    $1,099,999.00
*Note that IPUMS-CPS microdata is top-coded and pruned for privacy
reasons, so the top numbers are a bit dubious.  Consider the .1% column
aspirational… and not terribly accurate!
Individual Income Percentile Calculator
Household Income Percentile Calculator
Individual Incomes for Males and Females Percentile Calculator
Individual Income Percentile by Age Calculator
Individual Income Percentiles by Age for Males and Females Calculator
Who Are the One Percent by Net Worth in America?
More useful, however, is looking at the one percent by net worth.  If we
had our way, a view of the top 10%, 1%, and .1% would concentrate more
on accumulated wealth instead of affluence.  (You know, stocks vs. flows
and all that.)
Net worth tends to have an even more extreme spread than income does.
While a fairly large number of households in the United States have zero
or negative net worth, the same isn’t true for income.  Household income
reflects transfer payments, while the government isn’t really in the
business of transferring wealth.
(Okay fine, make your capitalized valuations of Social Security
arguments in the comments.  But… you can’t pass it to the next generation!)
This data comes from the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances from the
Federal Reserve, and we originally calculated these for our top American
net worths and net worth percentiles article.
Net Worth of the            10%,        1%,      and .1%
Percentile Threshold       10.00%    1.00%    0.10%
Net Worth       $1,182,390.36    $10,374,030.10    $43,090,281.00
Which Measurement Do You Prefer for the One Percent?
If you insist on using incomes, we feel that using individual income is
the best choice for determining the one percent.
Using household income disguises the true income figure when there are
multiple earners in a household – say, two working spouses or a
Millennial living at home.  It also doesn’t account for the spending
difference in household sizes.
Using net worth to decide on the one percent threshold is even better.
Necessarily a household measure, household net worth sidesteps spending
and cost of living questions because net worth is by definition not
spent.  That is to say, regardless of household size or location, net
worth is always untapped resources.  It’s a true measure of how much
‘extra‘ a household has accumulated.  (It also curves up very noticeably
at the top end.)
Net worth data is also harder to come by.  There is some correlation
between wealth and income, but it’s not as high as you might suspect –
and it changes by age.  Wealth is truly the marker of the highest
strata, however.
One interesting stat: going from the top 10% of wealth to the top 1%
requires an large jump while income “only” requires a much smaller bump.
So for us, the true measure of the one percent is by wealth.
What’s your preferred measure?  Who are the one percent?  The highest
earners, or the best accumulators?  Make your case in the comments!
  Net Worth Percentile Calculator for the United States in 2017
  United States Net Worth Brackets, Percentiles, and Top One Percent in
2017
  Net Worth by Age Calculator for the United States in 2013
  Net Worth by Age Calculator for the United States
comments include:

David says

Wow, great work! I would never have thought the top 10% brackets for
both net worth and income would be so high. Do you happen to have data
for each percentile?

PK says

I do, but you’ll have to be more specific about which data exactly:

https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-calculator/
https://dqydj.com/net-worth-by-age-calculator-for-the-united-states/
The income (especially) has a number of other breakdowns on the site,
but that calculator will get you to a tenth of a percent.

Paul says

Big vote for net worth. Someone in the top 1% of incomes could actually
have a low (or no) net worth. If a top 1% earner is actually saving and
building net worth, his/her day in the sun will come soon enough!

PK says

I describe it to people as akin to acceleration vs. speed – but we tax
‘acceleration’, not ‘speed’, so it’s not perfect haha.

Richard says

I disagree – we also tax speed when the car runs out of gas and stops;
strike that, we tax the distance travelled (v*t), after the car stops
due to empty gas tank. It’s calles inheritance tax. I loved your
analogy, though.

PK says

That’s an excellent one! Well played, sir.

jim says

What is the average net worth of someone with HHI at the ~$400k level
(1% threshold)?
What is the average HHI of a household with net worth of $7.8M (1%
threshold)?

The previous article on income vs net worth has a graphic image that
plots a scatter of income vs net worth. Just eyeballing that graphic it
looks like of like the 1% thresholds are around the same level. i.e. 1%
incomes have 1% wealth on average.

PK says

Good ideas – but hold that thought until either the new SCF or the 2015
PSID drops. The CPS income and SCF NW numbers aren’t exactly compatible,
but the next time there is a NW survey (they come with an income
measure) I’ll do a post with the whole distribution. The PSID would get
us ~10,000 families and the SCF another ~7,000 or so

Bill says

This is great info but note that it’s 3 years old. How about some
projections about where this stands in 2017 given the recent gains in
the stock market? I’m guessing this is now more like 11 or 12 million.

PK says

Yes, but unfortunately those are the cards we’re dealt. Keep an eye out
here, we should get a couple surveys with net worth data this year (and
we’ll be all over them!).

Mark says

Hi – just trying to sort through this. What are the population figures
for the top 10% again? And is that by individual, or by household?

PK says

Net worth is always household level, it’s impossible to tease out
individual NWs (but easier to do incomes & each is labeled above).

Metadata and data on the 2013 SCF is here:

https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/scf_workingpapers.htm

Roughly 6,000 families are in the survey and there are ~30,000 data
points after imputation. The Fed methodology paper is on that site.

josten261 says

Is this in current (2017) dollars or in 2013 dollars?

PK says

2013 dollars.

PaulN says

Income comes and goes. Wealth is more permanent. However, there is a
special class of people who get their income(s) as a pension or annuity
or such. The latter are guaranteed for life (or whatever the terms are)
assuming that the benefit provider doesn’t go under. In addition, the
recipients of such income usually are at a stage where they have no
financial obligations such as debts or mortgages or kids’ tuitions. Are
there studies (tables) about ranking people according to disposable
incomes? What about taking the local cost of living into consideration?

PK says

Yes, annuitized income streams shows up in the income data (on an annual
basis). We made no attempt to add annual payments to net worth, however
– perhaps we will make it optional when the new numbers come out and we
are redoing the calculations.

Cost of living wouldn’t be impossible, but the problem is scale. Beyond
a certain point, cost of living doesn’t matter as much when deciding a
place to live. Near the margins, yes, the geographic cost differences
can sway a living decision – but there comes a point (when disposable
income is high enough) that cost if living is a rounding error. That’s a
discussion that could use a full post, however.

brian says

As a .1% in income and not quite a .1% in wealth, most of my wealth is
tied up in a business I created. I may have a personal net worth of $4M
and a business net worth of $25M. That business net worth is not liquid
and therefore not really valid in the short term. That business could
easily vanish. IMO, the societal objections to the “wealthy” need to be
not focusing on the 1% (Doctors and dentists), nor the .1% (Small
business owners). My entire income stream is taxed at ordinary income
levels. IMO, it is dangerous to talk about, as defined, wealthy as not
paying their fair share. I don’t take any risks in my company to expand
business, I hold tight, because my upside is poor and my downside is
everything simply because my marginal tax rates (state, feds, Medicaid)
are 53%.

Justan Okie says

According to the “Millionaire Next Door”, a prodigious accumulator of
wealth will have a net worth approximately = Age X Annual Pre-Tax Income
/ 10. If I use this formula as a check for the 1% (430,000 income,
10,374,00 net worth), I back out an age of 240. I suspect the income
estimate is accurate, but I suspect the net worth estimate may be
inflated. I doubt many people have accumulated 24x their income. What am
I missing?

Justan Okie says

Oops, that formula was for an “average accumulator of wealth”. A
“prodigious accumulator of wealth” would be double that number.
Nonetheless, the net worth estimate for the 1% seems high in comparison
to the income. Net worth of 24x income would be a very good number right
at retirement age.

PK says

I’m confused by your question and statement – the numbers here come from
two surveys, the Survey of Consumer Finances and the Current Population
Survey.

You can find the data here from the Federal Reserve and the Census Bureau:

https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/scfindex.htm
https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps.html

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