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James Thompson: If We Could Travel Back in Time, Would We be of Great Use to Our Ancestors?
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Somebody should update Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court with a 2021 Connecticut Yankee sent back to 500 AD, but all he’s good for is explaining about pronouns.

I could imagine myself going back to 1850, traveling to England, finding the young Francis Galton and telling him the names of all the stuff he invented later in life, thus going down in the history of science books as the Mysterious American who gave Galton all his best ideas. On the other hand, without instant access to Wikipedia, I’d probably be completely lost:

“Three words, Frank: Silent Dog Whistle.”

“Interesting … but, sir, how I would make a silent dog whistle?”

“Uh, beats me. Out of metal, I imagine. I’m guessing tin. You Victorians were always making stuff out of tin, right? But, whatever, I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Also: Correlation Coefficient.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s … Well, it’s a small r. Does that ring a bell?”


“Okay … But, you just focus on that: a small r. It’ll come to you.”

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  1. Give them information on how sick teachers are with children. My strong impression is that Steve and his type think these nice White ladies in yuppie areas are actually well-motivated people, probably morally superior, and definitely smarter than most Americans.

    The total failure to confront the malicious nature of those who push the anti-White, anti-Western agenda is how we lost the country. I guess it was too emotionally disturbing to see the truth?

  2. anonymous[186] • Disclaimer says:

    The 2021 Connecticut Yankee would be confused by the absence of Indians and East-Asians.

  3. Anonymous[154] • Disclaimer says:

    On the topic of ancestors, it’s tempting to think that we are more civilized than they were. Visiting the Louvre it’s rather depressing that almost all of the statues from classical antiquity have had their noses and genitals knocked off. Presumably, every time there was a regime change the city would get sacked and the art edifying native Gods and kings defaced and toppled. Given that the half-life of any regime is, say, a hundred years or so, not much survives three or four generations. Anything that has survived got buried under rubble or tossed in a river and covered in silt.

    Anyways, one might reason: “certainly we’ve evolved past this kind of barbarism. Destroying the art of our enemies is pretty pointless, right? You read about the 1,500 year old Buddha statues that were dynamited by the Taliban — but they’re the Taliban, we’d never do something like that in the West would we?”

    Well, the “awokening” completely changed my mind on that. Statues across the United States and Europe have been torn down and destroyed. There’s a statue of Edward Colston, a British merchant, which was tossed in a river in Bristol England because he owned slaves back in the 1600s. Who are they coming for next?

    Churches around Europe are getting burned down on a regular basis, some due to accidents, but a frightening number due to arson. As Islam continues to entrench itself this can be expected to accelerate. One ought not be surprised if there are terror attacks on the Louvre or the Vatican at some point. These sorts of things are virtually inevitable in the long run. These loosely guarded artifacts of Western Civilization will continue to be decimated and lost forever. Furthermore, as Muslims’ numbers swell they’ll start to feel their strength and make ever greater demands on their hosts, making them look more and more like the Muslim countries from which they come, and less like the European Christian nations of history. The occasional arson or “accidental” church fire will help things along.

    The Woke and the Islamic are both gnawing away at what is left of the West. But these are not root causes of its illness but effects of another disease: national AIDS. The West could easily defend itself from these enemies, both foreign and domestic: the cancer of Wokism and the parasitic infections of diversity and Islamification, if only it had a functioning immune system. The fundamental etiological cause of the West’s destruction is an immuno-deficiency due to infection by an ideology of ethnomasocism and diversitarianism induced by another (((parasitize))) whose effect on its nation is indistinguishable from that of HIV on a human being. It suppresses the immune system of its host, its nationalism, ethnocentrism, its “dreaded” xenophobia, and other healthy instincts, which have evolved over millions of years for good reasons, to make the host safe for colonization, and thereby also invites in countless additional opportunistic parasites which, collectively, eventually kill the host.

  4. As some in the thread point out, our now second nature aversion to dirt/germs and our insistence on clean water and clean food and daily bathing and cleaning wounds would likely be our biggest selling points. (Much like in Idiocracy, where the normal dude’s knowledge that plants need water and not Brawndo makes him the smartest man in the world and saves his life. )

    The past simply did not know about germs and bacteria how to combat them, although many had ideas (e.g. plague doctor outfits were suspiciously very close to truth on how to prevent most disease transmission). And most people today with an IQ of 100+ (or those who were boy scouts/hikers) have a basic idea that boiling water cleans it, so straining some water through a cloth (to remove dirt/grime) and boiling it to use for anything would be a major addition to their lives.

    Of course leaders in advanced civilizations (Rome, Persia, Egypt) knew the importance of clean water (e.g. Roman aqueducts) but the average joe of the time didn’t , and none of them knew the extent to which cleanliness via washing and cooking with hot water could stop so many problems.

    Of course, unless we were hailed by the local king as “Future Man” its doubtful people would listen to us. We would like fussy sissies and/or crazy lunatics talking about “invisible tiny beings” making everyone sick and not liking the “perfectly healthy” dirty water the rest of the people had drunken their entire lives.

    As to any other skills or knowledge—those are really job specific. Since many of our jobs today are built on an infrastructure that wouldn’t exist then, and nothing would be similar, and we’re all physically weaker and less hardy, we’d be ti ts on a bull.

    Our ability to read, however, could be very astounding to them—-even the lowliest person in the West can read. Reading was something only the elite knew, so once we learned their language and alphabet we could scribes and scholars. And while learning an alien language and alphabet would be hard, trust me, necessity of being plopped down somewhere foreign and needing to know a language for survival can make you learn a language real quick.

  5. S Johnson says:

    Here’s a question. If you could pick any person to travel back in time, who would be the most useful for the future development of humanity, and at what point?

    You would need a man of action, with a great amount of pre-industrial technical knowledge, a gifted linguist, and someone with a persuasive personality.

    I’d nominate Alexander von Humboldt. James Mangold’s 2001 film “Kate & Leopold” imagined a Humboldt-like polymath travelling to the present day and being disappointed that we weren’t more technologically advanced. They made him a cadet branch member of the British royal family I’m guessing in order to keep the German connection but to get round Hugh Jackman having to do a European accent.

  6. We are no worse or advanced than our past.

    We still make the same mistakes, we still worship the same false gods, we still attribute greatness to the same hierarchies.

    It’s a massive mistake to think we are way worse than our forebears, or way better.

    We live in the same world dictated by the same despots.

    There Is Nothing New Under The Sun.

    The technology has changed. The face of the disinformation has changed. The techniques of manipulation have changed.

    But everything else remains the same.

    “Beat a dog once and you only have to show him the whip.”

  7. SFG says:

    How long a posting does this software accept? I could tackle this over the weekend.

  8. S Johnson says:
    @R.G. Camara

    Would we even have immunity to stuff like the bubonic plague, or would we just drop dead like American Indians did?

    St Augustine felt like he was seeing a guy from the future when he cane across St Ambrose reading silently to himself instead of speaking every word out loud.

    • Agree: Gordo
  9. @S Johnson

    Would we even have immunity to stuff like the bubonic plague, or would we just drop dead like American Indians did?

    Excellent point, we’d probably drop dead the moment we came into contact with anything there (hence our less-than-stellar hardiness).

    I recall one humorous time travel novel where a person leaps back in time to the middle ages to a European village, looks around at the people, and promptly passes out. Not from the time travel, but from the stench. The people, the garbage, the manure, the uncleanliness combined to form a smell so powerful that the person had never experienced it before and the time traveler’s disgust mechanism was overloaded and caused a faint.

    Which is probably very true. If you’ve ever had garbage pile up for a few days or walked into a hording situation or gone to a local dump you might have some knowledge of how much our modern world has separated us from the smells of uncleanliness. But really, that stuff is so isolated; imagine being surrounded by it in a town or city.

  10. magilla says:

    The obvious–pick your own damned cotton.

    • Agree: Gordo
    • LOL: nokangaroos
  11. 500 AD? Easy. I’d teach them about stirrups. We’d totally kick ass, and if I got appropriate credit for it, I’d be all of you’s great^30 grandfather.

    • Replies: @Johnnygeo
    , @Anonymous
  12. @Anonymous

    had their noses and genitals knocked off. Presumably, every time there was a regime change the city would get sacked

    Nah, it’s just that things that stick out are vulnerable. In fact, in today’s Paris, you’d be well advised to watch out for your own nose and genitals.

    • Replies: @AKAHorace
    , @znon
  13. “The Twilight Zone” had a cool episode in which a rich businessman traded his wealth&soul to the Devil, in exchange for being allowed to travel back in time. Thinking his knowledge of modern inventions would give him a jump start, he foolishly accepted the deal.

    However, every time that he attempts to explain an idea/invention, he makes himself look like a fool. Finally, he asks to be sent back home.

    Watch from 4:00-6:00 below.

    The guy above reminds me of Trump.

    • Replies: @Hypnotoad666
  14. ic1000 says:

    Frank, the advances in technology that you are witnessing will continue to my era. This will mean that dominating other races through colonialism and chattel slavery are really bad ideas.

    You’re smarter and more accomplished than me, and can work out the likely reasons why.

    Also, a minority strain of Russian Social Revolutionary thought will have terrible consequences, if its disciples ever gain power. Again, you can probably figure out why.

  15. I could tell them that lead is way bad. Like don’t touch it, don’t put it in piping, don’t paint with it…

    No idea how I’d get them to believe me or do what I’m saying though.

  16. Busby says:

    The alternative to Clemens’ practical Yankee mechanic, is Albert Sami’s bored tycoon from an episode of The Twilight Zone. Invited by Satan, he time travels back to his youth. He assumes his knowledge of the future will give him an advantage. True to the spirit of The Twilight Zone he gets what he wants good and hard. His attempts to build back better founder on the rocks of his ignorance of practical details.

    Instead of recreating his success, he winds up as the janitor in his old office building.

  17. Anonymous[184] • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t know, Steve.

    Surely some ‘bright spark’, good with his hands and with good underlying knowledge, a contemporary workshop and tools, contemporary materials could rustle up an elementary electrical battery, or even an AC generator.
    Perhaps, just perhaps he could conjure up electrical lighting, banish the long dark lights and dull, guttering malodorous tallow candles, and thus earn mega kudos.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  18. There are a few breakthroughs that don’t need a lot of recently developed supporting technology. Just off the top of my head, some things that might have helped are:

    Calculus and analytic geometry (anyone who’s passed calculus in school should be able to explain it to intelligent people)

    Celestial navigation (sextants, compasses, enough math to generate sun/moon/star tables)

    Square-rigged sailing ships (and maybe mention the dangers of vitamin-C deficiency)

    Gunpowder and possibly rifled barrels

    Germ theory of disease

    Crop rotation

    Breeder’s equation

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  19. I didn’t read any further than the headline, but what screams out if you were to advise my ancestors:


    • Agree: Rich
  20. Based on my one year of college physics, I could guide a smith through building an electric power generator, and (pretty much the same thing) some electric motors. That would be quite a game changer.

    Not so sure if 500 AD technology was up to producing wire of any kind though; that could be a show stopper. Without wire, I don’t see how we could build the generator, much less transmit the power, or build transformers to boost the voltage.
    Also, the absence of rubber or plastic would make safety a challenge.

  21. JackOH says:

    On the topic of ancestors, it’s tempting to think that we are more civilized than they were.

    A154, I agree. I can readily imagine a 13th century peasant managing the vicissitudes of daily life fairly well with his reliance upon Church and his sovereign to guide him about things of which he’s ignorant and to comfort him. Here in the 21st century, our “peasants” are cosseted beyond measure by material goods and distractions, yet neither Church nor State guide or console.

    I may be misguided, but there’s Trotsky’s essay on the medieval co-existing with the modern in the Germany of the time, or the protagonist in Finney’s Time and Again telling his forward-time traveling companion of the 20th century’s wars in her future.

  22. anonymous[168] • Disclaimer says:

    We talk a lot about the decline of national average IQ but I haven’t seen any attempt to estimate it. I gave it a rudimentary attempt and estimate roughly a drop by 5 IQ points in 2050 versus what it was in 1950.

    *1950: 90% white, 10% black
    2050: 45% white, 36% Hispanic/mixed/other, 13% black, 8% Asian
    Doing rough calculations I assume an IQ of 100 for whites in 1950 and 2050, 85 for blacks, 105 for Asians, and 90 for Hispanic/mixed/other. Based on those assumptions, I calculate a decline of 5 IQ points.

    At the same time due to high IQ immigration, I assume the top 5% of the country got a lot smarter. Since the top 5% contributes a lot to GDP per capita, I don’t know to what extent mass immigration in dragging down average national IQ is going to bring down the economy. But obviously, there won’t be an economic collapse since the IQ situation is not hopeless. There probably won’t even be a long-term economic contraction from where we are in 2021. The economy will just suffer from low growth for several decades.

  23. I think the Outlander series of books and TV fame give a good picture of what would happen. People would think you’re strange, crazy, or a witch and would try to lock you up and possibly burn you at the stake or hang you. It’s like the 1960’s Mohawk activist who time traveled back to 1600 New York to warn his people to crush the White Men. They took him to be crazy and banished him from the tribe.

  24. Re: time travel, it pops up in this short, short story:

    The Fermi Panic.

    I like this little gem of a story, because Robin Hanson and Tyler Cowen, who’s the best barometer of elite thought I know, are all over this whole alien/UFO thing that even our top-level bureaucrats seem enthralled by.

    The elites have stopped believing in God, so from now on it’s just about pain-avoidance and the space aliens. It’s historically unprecedented, so it’s interesting to see what happens going forward. Actually, we already know: mass hysterias over respiratory viruses and “climate change” and Woke flagellations.

  25. @S Johnson

    How about a stock/commodities/currency trader ?

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  26. I can still grow food the old fashioned way. Gather seeds for the next years crop. Absolutely love cooking with wood. Not the biggest fan of fermentation of food, but do know how. I may be the worse seamstress ever, but I do understand what needs to be done including weaving. However with butchering I would be all 21st century.

  27. SFG says:

    You would have about as much chance of talking planters out of slavery as you would of talking CEOs out of immigration. It’s making them too much money now and they’re not really worried about their descendants 200 years down the line.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    , @njguy73
  28. If you could travel back in time with present knowledge, you could certainly do very well on the stock market,

  29. @Loyalty Over IQ Worship

    Good gracious, some fiend has actually devised a method to implant homoerotic desire in unsuspecting children? Reminds me of the only amusing graffiti I saw in the men’s room of the collage I attended. Someone wrote, “My mother made me a homosexual.” Beneath it was the reply, “If I buy her the wool, will she make one for me too?”

  30. @R.G. Camara

    That, and lead free piping.
    Bet big on lead free piping!

  31. Flemur says:

    There’s a comic of some Biblical-looking guys asking a yuppie-looking guy, “How do you make this ‘electricity’ of which you speak?” and he answers “I don’t know.”

  32. sent back to 500 AD, but all he’s good for is explaining about pronouns

    Interesting time and choice of example. Eunuchs, the “third sex” were all the rage, and source of confusion, and (in their making) a source of terror, and more or less – a remarkably big deal. Especially when you think of everything that happened, X*N, versus everything that survives as history, x – and so much of what survives is about the whole eunuch thing. By itself that’s one of those things that seems improbable.

  33. Stirrups for the Roman cavalry would have been huge.

    An even more enormous impact would be teaching the Romans about the applications of steam power.

    Homer of Alexandria knew about steam power, but his applications never left the amusing demonstration stage.

  34. … a 2021 Connecticut Yankee sent back to 500 AD, but all he’s good for is explaining about pronouns.

    Hey, I think I could do more than that, but still not much. Plus I’m not a real Yankee but a transplant to the great state of Connecticut. I can’t tell how many actual Yankees we have left here anymore.

    Road & Track magazine published its own “Connecticut Yankee” update decades ago. The columnist imagined what he could to, automotive-wise, if transported back to that time. He wrote that he thought he could, using the best craftsmen and metallurgists of the time, build a functioning automobile. The engine (the real challenge) would be severely “over square,” as he put it (bore bigger than stroke) but it would run and give enough power to roll that car.

    After reading this issue, teenaged me showed it to my father, a mechanical engineer, and asked him if he thought he could do the same thing. He said yes, and he also explained to me what “over square” meant.

    If you are going to send anybody back to the past, send an engineer.

  35. BB753 says:

    The left will turn on Muslims as soon as they are no longer useful.

  36. @R.G. Camara

    so once we learned their language and alphabet we could scribes and scholars

    Have you seen the manuscripts from the past?
    No, we couldn’t. Not without a huge amount of training.

    • Disagree: R.G. Camara
    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
  37. We’d probably teach them CRT, and then there would never be slavery and America would never be built, so, paradoxically, we wouldn’t be able to go back in time to screw up the timeline, so we might relive the timeline we knew, and we’d have to do it all over again.

  38. Quite the reverse. Most of us would need them to show us how to start a fire, throw with an atlatl, and make winter clothing from animal fur. I certainly would.

  39. @International Jew

    Not so sure if 500 AD technology was up to producing wire of any kind though

    Maybe if it’s silver or gold. Probably not what you want though.

    You’re not getting anywhere without modern materials and modern resource extraction.

  40. Anon[285] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    Not really. Even with the right stocks, the market for much of its history rose slowly. The modern go-go era has only been churning since the 1980s.

  41. @R.G. Camara

    I agree that literacy would be a huge asset, but also some basic knowledge of math, finance, and accounting. Double entry bookkeeping wasn’t introduced until the 13th 0r 14th century, giving that knowledge to the Romans could have been a massive boon.

    In terms of which professions today would be most useful back then, probably farmers or civil engineers. Most- if not all- other jobs would be impossible due to the lack of industry.

  42. Johnnygeo says:
    @International Jew

    Good idea. In the spirit of Steve’s question though, can you actually ride a horse well enough to demonstrate and not be laughed out of court?

    • Replies: @International Jew
  43. @Buzz Mohawk

    If you are going to send anybody back to the past, send an engineer.

    That is indeed the premise of Leo Frankowski’s slightly demented ‘Conrad Stargard’ time travel series.

    • Replies: @EH
  44. I could tell the British Admiralty how to prevent scurvy long before they figured it out through trial and error.

    • Agree: Jonathan Mason
  45. ic1000 says:

    L. Sprague de Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall (1941) is a (the?) follow-on classic to Connecticut Yankee. Here (halfway down) is a plot synopsis. 70 years later, further riffs on the theme by S.M Stirling and others (Wiki).

  46. Luke Lea says:

    “If I could travel back in time,” would be a good first line in a poem.

    • Replies: @S Johnson
  47. Luke Lea says:
    @S Johnson

    “Here’s a question. If you could pick any person to travel back in time, who would be the most useful for the future development of humanity, and at what point?”

    Jesus, perhaps? Oh, that’s right, he was already born back then.

    See my essay:

  48. @S Johnson

    I’d nominate Joe Rogan. He’s in good physical shape, knows martial arts, can hunt game with a bow, fairly knowledgeable on many subjects, and would introduce them to the benefits of DMT and psychedelics.

    • LOL: S Johnson
  49. If I could go back in time… perhaps something would happen to Emmanuel Cellar as a young man.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  50. @R.G. Camara

    A friend of mine hates watching tv shows/movies set during medieval times, because he knows in reality, they were all unwashed and stunk. I’ve read accounts in historical books that said many people in those times only bathed twice in their lives, once when they were born, and once when they died.

    • Thanks: R.G. Camara
    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
  51. JMcG says:
    @International Jew

    A decent steam engine would open up all sorts of possibilities, as indeed it did. You could draw wire with steam power easily. Glass and porcelain are still used as high voltage insulators to this day, though not in turbines, of course.
    As to who to send back? I’m torn between a materials scientist and a millwright.

  52. Gabe Ruth says:
    @R.G. Camara

    I think a strategy that might work is demonstrating elite status with reading and writing, then demonstrating military value with logistics planning at the local chieftain level and working your way up. Then when you have some clout, start sponsoring some exploration.

  53. Gordo says:

    There is a story I think by Harry Harrison where an American serviceman in Iceland, who speaks Icelandic, travels back in time 1000 years, maybe 800?

    That kinda works because Icelandic as a language has changed very little.

    He has a revolver but cannot explain how to make it etcetera, the whole premiss is kinda like Dr Thompson’s question, and the answer is again no.

    EDIT – It was Poul Anderson “The Man Who Came Early”

    • Replies: @additionalMike
  54. Anon[369] • Disclaimer says:

    Ok, maybe not be help tangibly in technological skill but I think the average athletic male from 2021 could whip any 4th-century or 16th-century male in a fight and train them for the most efficient fighting skills and peak physical conditioning (thanks to TV and watching/imitating boxing/MMA).

    Did men— even warriors/knights/soldiers— stretch, run, and lift weights as exercise back then?

  55. Alfa158 says:
    @Loyalty Over IQ Worship

    “ My strong impression is that Steve and his type think these nice White ladies in yuppie areas are actually well-motivated people, probably morally superior, and definitely smarter than most Americans.”
    I’m not sure how you got that impression. Steve is welcome to chime in, but I get the impression he and his type think that nice White ladies like these teachers are: motivated by getting to that sweet-sweet pension, hollow virtue-signallers whose moral code is whatever the sociopaths who rule our society decree it to be at that moment, and malicious midwits who couldn’t cut it in any non-parasitic job.
    But maybe that’s because it’s what I think.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  56. Anonymous[202] • Disclaimer says:

    Always amazing that all those Bernini statues in Rome just sit out in the open, for centuries, and are rarely defaced.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  57. @Harry Baldwin

    They did actually figure it out by use of the scientific method, but what caused a lot of delays was that processing lime juice using copper tubing and vats caused inactivation of the Vitamin C component, at a time when this chemical reaction was not understood, leading to disbelief in the efficacy of citrus juices.

    Also other foods cooked in copper pans could actually block the action of vitamin C once ingested as fats cooked in copper pans could absorb copper compounds.

    Captain James Cook did not have any cases of scurvy on his voyages from 1768 to 1779–apparently he used sauerkraut and malt–even though it was not until 1795 that lemon or lime juice was finally made mandatory on British Navy ships.

    The Spanish may have done a bit better, but then citrus fruits grow happily in the climate Spain, but not in the UK, so obtaining large quantities of lemon juice for the British navy was a bit of a logistics issue when fresh citrus was not available in the UK.

    So you probably would have had to explain to the Sea Lords of the Admiralty about the effects of copper on vitamin C, otherwise they would have ignored you.

  58. Tex says:

    In contrast to Twain’s Connecticut Yankee and L. Sprague De Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall, Poul Anderson wrote “The Man Who Came Too Early” which pretty much stands the hyper-competent time-traveler story on its head.

    Anderson was deeply interested in Viking-era society both as a springboard for fantasy and as a matter of historical interest (he was a founder of the Society of Creative Anachronism, which is dedicated to Medieval re-enactments, a pastime that Twain made fun of a century before the SCA came around).

    Anderson’s time traveler is a US Army enlisted man c1960 stationed in Iceland who finds himself transported to c 900 AD. He’s pretty good with modern Icelandic so he has little trouble conversing with the locals. He’s also eager to show off his 20th century technological smarts. Alas, they fail to impress. He doesn’t understand blacksmithing or sail making, or any of the basics that form the core of Viking technology. He can talk about future technology, but can’t make the most basic elements of it. His M1911 is effective, until the bullets run out.

    It’s a gem from the classic era of SF.

  59. I’m not a useless blue checkmark on twitter so I would be extremely useful.

    I can teach physics, math, chemistry, biology, electrical engineering, computer science, etc. at the university level off the top of my head.

  60. I imagine that the most widely available information that an average person might have that would be of the greatest value to people of a few hundred years ago or more would be that of basic hygiene and germ theory of disease.

    For example, if you told people in the middle ages that the plague was not being caused by the cats, but rather a bacteria in the system of fleas carried by rats, and that leaving the cats to chase or kill the rats was a better countermeasure than killing the cats themselves you’d be quite useful. Perhaps better still would be convincing people to store grains and food more securely and to better dispose of waste food in order to control the population of rat hosts for the flea hosts of the bacteria.

  61. Off topic…no..not off topic:

    The jury is deliberating in Charlottesville. Richard Spencer in his closing arguments in his own defense exposed what Sines vs Kessler was about:1) a bold face lie…2)ADL=APAIC POWER ON FULL DISPLAY….Judge Norman Moon immediately told Spencer to knock it off. And why would Judge Moon do this? Obvious Answer:Because Judge Moon aided AIPAC and the ADL to squash a Native White Advocacy Movement. And Judge Moon….Pederast Bill Clinton appointment…..was being exposed as a Evangelical Christian White “Man” toady for Jewish Ethnic Power in America.

    In letting the Sines-Kessler lawsuit go forward in the first place Judge Norman Moon is an enabler of the violent homosexual Pederast Antifa…..and the anti-white racist Black Lives Matter.

    Deep US South Evangelical Christianity is pseudo-Christianity cult…actually a full-blown blasphemy against Christianity…that is,an ISRAEL-APAIC-ADL worship cult…A Cult of girly boy Southern “Men”…

  62. Anonymous[239] • Disclaimer says:
    @International Jew

    A bicycle would work well.
    It would be pretty easy to build a basic penny farthing or hi wheel type bicycle. Obviously there would be no rubber but early bikes often had iron rims.
    Once you had developed gun powder and firearms you would sweep the world.
    If you’re wise you would keep the secret of the minié ball to yourself as an ace in the hole in in case any of your generals got too uppity.
    The electric telegraph doesn’t seem too difficult and would knit your domains together.

  63. Zpaladin says:

    I think the technology of the printing press and paper derived from wood pulp is pretty easy to replicate even under primitive conditions.
    Teaching children to read is not that difficult either. Combined, these elements would be world changing in the 5th century. Imagine either in a monastery or court tutoring setting teaching reading and mass printing ancient wisdom.
    If I had some prep time before going, I would research lost texts of the ancient Greeks and travel from library to library copying texts and teaching moveable type paper production and basic literacy.
    I’d bring 50 pounds of saffron for living/travel expenses and work in my Latin.
    Moveable type can be wood, ceramic or medal. Olive presses could easily be converted.

  64. Alfa158 says:
    @International Jew

    They had wire because it was used for jewelry. 19th century vintage insulation for electric wiring was made from cotton fabric gummed together with pitch where needed. They also had glass, resin and ceramics for insulators, spa. So, a lot of that can be done.
    The challenge would be the metalwork required to make motor/generators powerful and efficient enough to be useful. The smith would need to make very straight, uniform plates of steel to make the cores, and the shafts would have to be worked and polished to perfect roundness and straightness. Simpler motors made I’m not aware I’ve seen any metal working to that precision from 500 AD. You can find armor, weapons, horse harnesses that are beautifully worked, but nothing that is worked to thousandths of an inch precision.
    I would start with introducing steam power. That would have a huge impact in general and the machinery it would make possible, could produce electrical machinery.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  65. songbird says:

    Think it depends which of your ancestors’ ears you had, and for how long. With a wealthy, powerful, and interested patron, like a king or emperor (as we all descend from at some point), then I think the average person could say some very interesting things.

    You would not need to re-invent the wheel, just propose prizes for different things. Like, a horse collar and plow that allows for faster plowing, or a water wheel that puts out more usable energy. Outline the idea for a bicycle, and have a contest to see if anyone can make one. I think the concept of a scientific journal would be pretty helpful.

    Knowing about scurvy and how to treat it would potentially be a pretty big deal, as would a generalist knowledge of geography. The Colombian exchange was earth-shaking, just for the potato alone.

  66. @International Jew

    We think about the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, but the real breakthrough of the Industrial Revolution was the Bessemer steelmaking process.

    Isaiah 2:4 talks about a future age of peace where “T’hey will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”

    I have a pruning hook for my fruit and decorative trees, alright, but it is a saw blade at the end of a long stick made from a steel alloy that would have ancients who knew about things in wide-eyed astonishment.

    I mean, what pathetic excuse for a steel alloy was in an Iron Age “pruning hook”, and how effective was it in pruning trees, anyway?

    Jump start modern steel making, and pressure vessels for steam engines and a whole lot of things become possible.

    So then, how do you get the needed air blast with bellows and water wheel tech? With a steam ejector. You need to fashion a low-pressure steam boiler, which they had back to Hellenistic Greece, and you fashion a nozzle so the steam blast entrains air to power your blast furnace and steel converter. Terribly energy inefficient, but you are not worried about Climate Change.

    That and the knowledge that a rock called dolomite is the secret sauce in the furnace or converter lining . Important for many iron ores that contain phosphorus.

    If we revert to the Stone Age in some mass calamity, that is the plan for rebooting industrial technology.

  67. Dutch Boy says:

    Heck, you’d only have to go back 50 or 60 years and the people would think you nuts for describing the world of 2021.

    • Agree: Rich
  68. If We Could Travel Back in Time, Would We be of Great Use to Our Ancestors?

    Keep segregation, limit immigration, be wary of Christ-killers infiltrating your institutions.

  69. @Buzz Mohawk

    So true.

    If most of us went back to a primitive society we would probably die because we were useless.

    But send someone back who could construct a wheeled wagon, a bridge across a stream, a water wheel or windmill for grinding grain, and a wooden shield for deflection of slings and arrows, and you have a shaman who would be well taken care of.

  70. AKAHorace says:
    @International Jew

    almost all of the statues from classical antiquity have had their noses and genitals knocked off.

    You would think that it is much easier for a finger of a statue to get knocked off than a nose.

    I read Lord Chesterfied’s advice to his son. Some of it is about the importance of staying away from lower class women as they would give you a dose of venereal disease and he uses a slang expression “loosing your nose” as a way of referring getting syphilis. I think that this is because it was a symptom of advanced cases of this disease. So knocking the nose off a statue may refer to this and mean that the damage happened sometime after 1500.

  71. Jack D says:

    If we could travel back in time, would we be of great use to our ancestors?

    What do you mean “we”, worthless wordsmith?

    There are definitely people living now who would be of great utility to our ancestors – people who know enough stuff that they could re-create a generator and electric light and motors, antibiotics, telephones, plant breeding advancements, etc. BUT guys like Thompson – yes, they would be worthless.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  72. Completely OT; Today is Emma Lazarus’ secular date yahrzeyt. As the author of our polity’s Prime Directive, I think she should be solemnly remembered today. Most particularly in her adopted homeland of Unzia.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
    , @Buzz Mohawk
  73. Jack D says:

    The Antikythera Mechanism would have had to have been worked with a high degree of precision or it would not have worked:

    It was not previously believed that you could make gears with such high precision in the absence of machine tools but it turns out that you can achieve these results with careful hand work and a few simple jigs, etc.

    A lot of it is just bootstrapping – you use the primitive tools that you have to make a simple lathe and you use that lathe to make the parts for a more high precision lathe, etc. Steam power (or why not skip ahead to the IC engine) is great but there were plenty of sources of water power to start with and a simple water wheel or turbine is easy to make using only crude tools.

    It’s very fashionable for kids in engineering schools to study “affordable technology” or “accessible technology” or whatever they call it for the 3rd world – how people in some African village can build a water pump or some such using local materials. One of those guys would be useful for sure.

    Here’s a guy who would be handy around 1000 BC:

  74. @R.G. Camara

    ‘…Of course, unless we were hailed by the local king as “Future Man” its doubtful people would listen to us. We would like fussy sissies and/or crazy lunatics talking about “invisible tiny beings” making everyone sick and not liking the “perfectly healthy” dirty water the rest of the people had drunken their entire lives…’

    The flip side of this is that you would promptly be laid low and possibly killed by all the endemic parasites the locals had grown up with.

    They — simply by virtue of still being alive — would have developed some form of resistance to all the tiny beings. You wouldn’t have.

  75. Anonymous[412] • Disclaimer says:
    @R.G. Camara

    Bathing is unpleasant (even dangerous) in cold water. Fuel is limited. Are you going to use it to cook food or to keep clean. Choose one.

  76. @SFG

    SFG, I was going to reply to Magilla but your comment was spot on. Make money, eff the consequences.

  77. @Alfa158

    ‘…I’m not sure how you got that impression. Steve is welcome to chime in, but I get the impression he and his type think that nice White ladies like these teachers are: motivated by getting to that sweet-sweet pension, hollow virtue-signallers whose moral code is whatever the sociopaths who rule our society decree it to be at that moment, and malicious midwits who couldn’t cut it in any non-parasitic job.
    But maybe that’s because it’s what I think.’

    I think they are nice enough.

    That’s actually part of the problem: there’s nothing like a sense of one’s own sincerity and good intentions to make one determined and effective.

    Consider Hitler’s Einsatzgruppen. Would they have killed anything like as many Jews if they hadn’t been quite sure they were doing the right thing?

    It’s not the corrupt and insincere you need to watch out for: it’s the true believers. Give me someone I can bribe or feed a new rationalization any day. Those, I can fend off.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
  78. @R.G. Camara

    I recall one humorous time travel novel where a person leaps back in time to the middle ages to a European village, looks around at the people, and promptly passes out. Not from the time travel, but from the stench. The people, the garbage, the manure, the uncleanliness combined to form a smell so powerful that the person had never experienced it before and the time traveler’s disgust mechanism was overloaded and caused a faint.

    Sounds like a blog post I read by a Chinese guy who visited India. He literally could not believe how disgusting it was. I have no idea how clean China is or isn’t but the man had a totally visceral reaction to the filth and malodorous scene.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    , @raga10
  79. Hermes says:

    OT: Steve, the current Jeopardy! champ is a tranny who fits your autogynephilia profile to a T–middle aged guy whose day job is engineering manager, deciding he’s a woman.

  80. njguy73 says:

    To paraphrase Homer Simpson, it’s a problem for Future People, and we don’t envy those guys at all.

  81. Deckin says:

    Better than ‘AIDS’ why not adopt a newer acronym:

    A: Acuired
    E: Epistemic
    D: Deficiency
    S: Syndrom

    Keep the pronunciation the same. It’s the elimination, usually by suppressing indoctrination, of any innate ability to process data independently of the indoctrination and thereby to see the indoctrination. Indeed, as in AIDS, the very processes by which the data could be rationally processed is itself hijacked by the indoctrination itself.

  82. S Johnson says:
    @Luke Lea

    The opening of Evelyn Waugh’s autobiography (the first part of which is titled ‘Heredity’) is quite poetic, in which he describes picking up H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine again after years:


    I longed for the loan of the Time Machine – a contraption with its saddle and quartz bars that was plainly a glorification of the bicycle. What a waste of this magical vehicle to take it prying into the future, as had the hero of the book! The future, dreariest of prospects! Were I in the saddle I should set the engine Slow Astern. To hover gently back through centuries (not more than thirty of them) would be the most exquisite pleasure of which I can conceive. Even in my own brief life I feel the need of some such device as a failing memory alienates me daily further from my origins and experience.

  83. You could make gun cotton. Nitrocellulose, cotton with nitric acid and sulfuric acid. That would mean explosives and propellant to multiply your effectiveness in battle.

    Explosives make you strong; that’s why the US government has a rat-you-out program to try to prevent you from acquiring them.

    Pro-tip: A chemical engineer is BADASS: be one or get one as a buddy.

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
    , @Anonymous
  84. Sean says:
    @S Johnson

    We are descended from those who survived it so we’d be OK I suspect. But dysentery would be a way of life. In his Plagues and Peoples, William H. McNeill said a cutting of the links between the Roman and Chinese empires that had caused disease pools to come into contact with immunologically naïve populations and resulted in catastrophic pandemics in China and Rome was ostensibly xenophobic, but actually a perfectly rational thing to do.

  85. @kaganovitch

    Today is Emma Lazarus’ secular date yahrzeyt. As the author of our polity’s Prime Directive, I think she should be solemnly remembered today.

    New Yorkers — whatever they are now — should light Liberty’s torch tonight!

    Gee, what are those two tall buildings in the background?

    Bring us more, please! Bring them on! We are a nation of immigrants, all from Ellis Island! We need more, just like yours who came before, but after ours. Do you understand? Do you care. No you don’t and you live and write constantly in the most self-serving manner you possibly can.

    We see that.

  86. hhsiii says:

    Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts, per the twitterverse

  87. Most people would be fairly useless. Another question is, would Zuckerberg, Dorsey et al. be of any use?

    Maybe being 6’2 and 220 lbs would be of some use to the ancestors, though it’s not unusual in the present day.

  88. Bill P says:
    @S Johnson

    I’m sure people could read silently back then, but that wasn’t the custom. Don’t Orthodox Jews still read scripture out loud even without an audience?

    The Romans used a lot of acronyms, which imply silent understanding.

    My guess is that books were so rare and expensive that they were considered to be a sort of communal property that one should read out loud so as not to hoard the knowledge for oneself. Also, a lot of people were illiterate, so silent reading would invite suspicion. It’s only because reading aloud was so culturally ingrained that it looked strange back then.

    • Replies: @S Johnson
  89. Mike1 says:
    @R.G. Camara

    “As some in the thread point out, our now second nature aversion to dirt/germs and our insistence on clean water and clean food and daily bathing and cleaning wounds would likely be our biggest selling points.”

    You seem to have some fantasy image of the past where everyone was dirty somehow. I don’t know where you live, but the odds of you “insisting” on getting clean water and clean food and actually getting that are close to non-existent. Water most places is pretty nasty which is why they dump low levels of chemical poison into it. Food production is just disturbing. Potatoes are poisoned with roundup prior to harvest. Chickens and eggs are grown in factories that would turn half the planet vegetarian for a few weeks if they saw it.

  90. Not guilty on all counts.

  91. Rob says:

    If your parents were anti-vaxxers and you went back in time, you would die of any one of several preventable diseases.

    But let’s say you got all your shote and you not only know stuff but know that you know it. Like, you’d have to come up with knowing you had a cure for scurvy from a standing start. How do you get anyone to listen to you? Sure, once the first guy tried what you said, other people might listen, as polymaths were more common in the past. You have no educational pedigree, you probably have trouble reading all handwritten things.

    I think knowing about the printing press would be a big deal, but can you build one from s standing start with only the material available in year-I’m-to-lazy-to-look-up? You’d need to run into a very mechanically-inclined guy, a dude who was good at design, and someone with enough money to feed all of you and pay for materials. Start-ups were not really a thing back then, were they?

    Knowledge of how to organize organizations would come in handy. Limited liability ventures would be a godsend lot of places. You still run into the problem of getting your idea to someone who can implement it.

    There’s also the issue of monetizing your contributions. How do you charge people for telling them to keep wounds clean? Maybe the British admiralty give you a monetary reward for solving scurvy, but maybe not.

    You can go back far enough and people were different. See Gregory Clark for details. At a minimum, the culture was different and conservatives were a powerful force.

    Let’s say you believe in global warming, should you give people the idea of using fossil fuels in-stream or internal combustion engines? The idea of industriaLisation would be world-changing, but is it good?

    Lastly, there is the ethical aspect. Gutenberg invented the printing press. His name will be remembered as long as Western civilization lasts, so like, a decade or two longer. Who are you to steal his thunder?

  92. I feel like I certainly know enough to at least get them on the right track as far as “looking into” otherwise unknown technologies. It’s not my area of expertise, but electricity seems like low hanging fruit; all the materials needed to produce a primitive battery and circuit have been available since antiquity.

    Someone more interested in firearms than myself could pretty easily get them on track with making black powder, and from there cannons aren’t incredibly far off.

  93. Kyle R acquitted.

    Yes, I am a lefty. But I believe in the rule of law. It appears the prosecution did not bring a strong enough case for conviction.

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  94. @hhsiii

    You beat me to this. I posted below before seeing this.

    • Replies: @hhsiii
  95. Alden says:

    This just in. My hero Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted in all counts. For once in our lives money spent on a White cause was well spent.

    Now what do the misogynist White woman hating womanless childless dick less MEN OF UNZ have to a say about the people they hate most on earth, White women Majority women on that jury I remind you.

    Would be nice if the White man liberal democrat governor lets the National Guard give FBI BLM anti fa what they deserve. But he won’t.

    • Replies: @TWS
  96. hhsiii says:
    @Paleo Liberal

    At least you gave an actual take on it. It really is paleoliberal these days to believe in the rule of law, innocent until proven guilty, the jury system etc. Have a good one, PL.

    • Thanks: Paleo Liberal
    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  97. Anonymous[387] • Disclaimer says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Hello, Buzz,
    Do you recall if the article said what fuel the engine was to use? The only one I could think of available in 500 AD would be alcohol, but had they invented the still by that time?

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  98. @hhsiii

    *Record scratch* *Freeze frame*

    “Yup, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I got into this situation…
    Suffice to say a few pussies on Sailer’s blog thought I got myself into quite a pickle.”

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @hhsiii
  99. @Anon

    The roaring twenties , when margin requirements were just 10% it would be easy to become quite wealthy and then short the market in 1929.

  100. jon says:

    Nate Bargatze: ” I would go back in time and do worse than I am doing right now”

  101. Anonymous[110] • Disclaimer says:

    What puzzles me is that, apparently, the common or garden humble bicycle – either of the ‘safety’ chains, rear wheel drive design, or with pedals direct on the front wheel, did not ’emerge’ until the late 19th century.
    And also the ‘Black & Decker Workmate’ – which is indispensable in fixing carpentry, did not arrive until the early 1970s!

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  102. Twinkie says:

    Apparently one still has the right to self defense* in this country. Heck yeah.

    *So long as the aggressors/assailants are white.

    • Agree: duncsbaby
    • Replies: @BB753
  103. @hhsiii

    Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts, per the twitterverse

    Yep. I was wrong on my original “hung jury” prediction. The case was just so weak, even the nice white ladies weren’t willing to hang on.

    This is a great day for America, as we’ve taken a step back from the “right to riot” and the “right of lefty protesters to attack anyone they don’t like”.

    However … how many illegals did Biden let swarm in today? 5000? 10000?

    Our future still points toward “Brazil”.

    • Thanks: duncsbaby
  104. @40 Lashes Less One

    If I could go back in time… perhaps something would happen to Emmanuel Cellar as a young man.

    And maybe Ted K. would not survive his plane crash.

    • Replies: @40 Lashes Less One
  105. One of the original Star Trek’s most fascinating plots involved the supernova-doomed planet whose inhabitants all traveled back in time to escape the cataclysm. The script suggested that individuals could choose an era that appealed to them in some way, but it was not clear whether they were supposed to fit in quietly or if it was OK to announce, “Hey, I’m from the future! Do you guys have the wheel yet?”

    What the script — submitted by a talented amateur, not a TV veteran — did not explore was whether a mass exodus to the past would change the planet’s entire history and really create a mess

  106. @Anonymous

    Always amazing that all those Bernini statues in Rome just sit out in the open, for centuries, and are rarely defaced.

    The early Protestant sects delighted in breaking off the noses of statues in Catholic churches. They thought the statues idolatrous.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  107. Jack D says:

    C’mon, can’t people enjoy a small victory for even 1 minute? Don’t be a nattering nabob of negativism.

  108. Sticking any random blue checkmark into the time machine and dialing it back anywhere before 1900 might be even more cruel than hilarious. Their days would be counted in hours.

  109. @AnotherDad

    However … how many illegals did Biden let swarm in today? 5000? 10000?

    Our future still points toward “Brazil”.

    Brazil isn’t wonderful, but not rock bottom. My fear is Haiti.

  110. EH says: • Website

    Came here to mention Frankowski’s Stargard series – great read, the most real tech of the taking-tech-back-in-time sub-genre. DeCamp’s Lest Darkness Fall is also great, even after over 80 years. Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper is another great read.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
  111. duncsbaby says:
    @Jack D

    It is a good victory for the right to self-defense in this country. Let’s hope Kyle can evade the Sauron-eye of the feds coming after him for some trumped-up charges and he isn’t sued by the families of his attackers. Still, you are right as rain, Jack, it’s a good Friday for Kyle, Wendy Rittenhouse and Kyle’s supporters. Good news.

  112. duncsbaby says:

    I’ve been receiving emails from Free Kyle USA and this is what I got in my inbox just minutes ago:

    Kyle was just ACQUITTED and is now officially FREE!

    This was a victory for the truth, for justice, and for every American’s God-given and unalienable right of self-defense.

    We are so overcome with emotion, and as hard as that was, we are thankful.

    We are thankful for the millions of Americans who stood with Kyle from the start.

    We are thankful for the many others who watched the trial with an open mind, realized that they had been lied to for a year and a half, and spoke out.

    And we are thankful to the jury which put aside bias, considered the facts, and came to the right decision.

    • Thanks: PhysicistDave
  113. @hhsiii

    Sometimes we need to look past tribalism. Us against Them.

    Fact is, the prosecution didn’t present a strong enough case. Given Wisconsin law, in a court with a judge who protects the rights of defendants, they could not convict.

  114. Jack D says:
    @Jenner Ickham Errican

    He was in quite a pickle. The fact that it took the jury 4 days shows that it was a close run thing. If there had been even 1 holdout for conviction, he would have been facing another trial where the prosecution wouldn’t have repeated the same mistakes and who knows how it would have turned out the 2nd time.

    Even now his life is not all peaches and cream. “Hi, I’m Kyle Rittenhouse” is not going to get you a warm welcome in a lot of places. All told, he should have stayed home that night.

  115. Yeah. You got it. I am surprised you said it. Given that everybody on here is always trumpeting the inventions of the white race.

    Which they did not invent.

    Which they do not understand.

    But nevertheless, they are very proud of them. The inventions they didn’t invent and don’t understand.

    Ah, yes, White Pride. Well-placed.

    • Replies: @TWS
  116. @Technite78

    ‘Celestial navigation (sextants, compasses, enough math to generate sun/moon/star tables)’

    But there you go. Do you have any idea of how to make a sextant? Or what — absent charts — you would do with it?

    • Replies: @Technite78
  117. @Jack D

    ‘…Even now his life is not all peaches and cream. “Hi, I’m Kyle Rittenhouse” is not going to get you a warm welcome in a lot of places…’

    It will here.

  118. @Jack D

    ‘…people who know enough stuff that they could re-create a generator and electric light…’

    There you go. Any idea how to refine or at least find copper for the windings for your generator? Up on your wire-making skills? Etc. Etc.

    Just about everything we can do takes for granted anything up to ten thousand years of technology.

    George Stewart’s Earth Abides considers this problem. In the end, the hero’s sole lasting contribution to the preservation of some level of technological advancement is that he taught the children to make bows and arrows. We’d be doing well if we preserved a knowledge of how to cure hides and make needles for sewing. That, we might be able to master before the darkness descended.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  119. @Jack D

    Ok Spiro. (I’ll work on seeing that the glass does have some water in it.)

  120. @Anonymous

    Visiting the Louvre it’s rather depressing that almost all of the statues from classical antiquity have had their noses and genitals knocked off.

    His Her Their genitals seem safe for the time being. I can’t wait for the “gender reveal” party, though.

  121. @R.G. Camara

    Nobody knows how much the average medieval European washed. Previous to the 1970s, the middle ages was clean in the movies. After the 1970s, it was dirty. All you know is movies. You know nothing.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  122. @AnotherDad

    However … how many illegals did Biden let swarm in today? 5000? 10000?

    Our future still points toward “Brazil”.

    How many times do I have to explain to you people that Brazil is way more coherent than the United States are right now? Especially in their immigration policies over the years.

    Unless you’re referring to the movie. Then you may have a point. I haven’t seen it. Is it worth watching?

  123. @Jack D

    he would have been facing another trial where the prosecution wouldn’t have repeated the same mistakes

    LOL, okay counselor, but they would make the same big mistake: They have no case.

    In this round, the chicken-playing state is lucky the verdict came back not guilty.

    “Hi, I’m Kyle Rittenhouse” is not going to get you a warm welcome in a lot of places.

    And in many other places, he will get a well-deserved national hero’s welcome—self-introduction certainly not necessary. Maybe he can also score some defamation settlements and cash in on some sweet endorsements while he’s at it.

    All told, he should have stayed home that night.

    Why, exactly? Three popped perps was great entertainment, don’t you agree?

    • Replies: @Johann Ricke
  124. @Jack D

    C’mon, can’t people enjoy a small victory

    Mr Rittenhouse is exonerated, but please don’t call this a “victory”. Save that word until Thomas Binger is wearing orange, and any number of media outlets are sued into actual pain.

    Is the latter even possible? Not the lawsuits, the pain.Mr (Master?) Sandmann won, but it’s still business as usual.

  125. Graham says:

    In Britain in 1850? My advice: do not colonise any more of Africa, however tempting that may seem in 30 or 40 years time. Work out some way of giving more self rule to India and Ireland as soon as possible; tell Gladstone to try harder with Ireland especially. If you must persist with an empire, maintain ties with Australia, Canada and New Zealand and give them representation in an imperial parliament. Don’t worry about the speed of communication with distant lands; that will get a lot better over the next fifty years. Resist the temptation to gradually increase taxes and regulation and try to keep in your mind the reasons for Britain’s power and wealth. Hint; peace, low taxes, and the rule of law beat colonies. Enlarge the franchise but on no account reduce the voting age below 21; and keep a property qualification.

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
    , @znon
  126. @Jenner Ickham Errican

    Why, exactly? Three popped perps was great entertainment, don’t you agree?

    This kid got about as close to a real war as any civilian can get in peacetime, and he walked away from it, free from any legal encumbrances, for now. That’s a life-defining experience. There are lots of places in the country where he won’t be able to buy his own drinks (once he comes of age). Here’s to hoping that he doesn’t get further aggravation from whatever blanket party Biden’s DOJ is cooking up.

  127. @Jack D

    He was in quite a pickle. The fact that it took the jury 4 days shows that it was a close run thing. If there had been even 1 holdout for conviction, he would have been facing another trial where the prosecution wouldn’t have repeated the same mistakes and who knows how it would have turned out the 2nd time.

    My guess is that the holdouts were worn down by the pro-acquittal majority. Something similar happened to me and one other pro-conviction holdout in a murder trial. After a few days of this, we threw in the towel and went with an acquittal.

  128. BB753 says:

    Exactly! If the guy he killed had been black, Rittenhouse would be wearing orange for the rest of his life. Don’t delude yourselves.

  129. @S Johnson

    St Augustine felt like he was seeing a guy from the future when he cane across St Ambrose reading silently to himself instead of speaking every word out loud.

    Didn’t know that.

    There are times that I can use this, so thanks.

  130. @Graham

    Your advice in short: Be pre 1960 Switzerland.

    I agree.

  131. @Paleo Liberal

    It appears the prosecution did not bring a strong enough case for conviction.

    Dead right you’re a lefty.

    The acquittal was because Rittenhouse did not commit any crime,

  132. Mr. Blank says:

    Well…it’s probably more complicated than that.

    For one, it might depend on how far back in time you go, and who you’re explaining it to. Like, the principle of the wheel, or simple inventions like waterwheels could conceivably produce enormous benefits if introduced at specific times to specific groups.

    Probably the most helpful thing we could do is present them with actual, functioning examples of the technology from our time, even if we couldn’t explain it. Depending on the level of their technical sophistication, they might be able to reverse-engineer all or part of it.

    And even if they couldn’t, there is enormous value in knowing that something is technologically feasible and can eventually produce useful products, because it provides a focus for research. If somebody from the 25th century could visit NASA or Silicon Valley today and simply give a yes/no to different research priorities, the value would be almost incalculable: “No, that never pans out, ignore that for now; this over here will pay off massively, so you should concentrate on that.”

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  133. @hhsiii

    What’s a Kenosha Hat Trick? Three shots of Rittenhouse:

    Sadly, he may not be able to touch it for three years. Does Wisconsin’s purported “mamma’s-right-there” loophole apply to rye?

    • Replies: @Jenner Ickham Errican
  134. Rich says:

    A penniless oaf with weird clothes and a strange accent? No relatives? No friends? No land? You’d be in a cell or on a convict boat to Australia if it was 1850. If you were lucky, and strong enough, maybe you could work as a laborer somewhere, but no one knows you, so they might not hire you. Probably have to become a thief to get some scratch, then maybe you could get started somewhere. But it wasn’t easy back then and even the criminals wouldn’t trust you.

  135. @Reg Cæsar

    Does Wisconsin’s purported “mamma’s-right-there” loophole
    apply to rye?

    I’m pretty sure she can arrange a straw purchase.

    • LOL: Hhsiii
  136. @Joe Stalin

    – Without Haber-Bosch or the Chilean deposits your limiting factor
    for nitrate are the petermen (and no, you do not want to know 😛 ).

    Think small – a water-wheel-powered blast furnace and tail hammer,
    and a vodka distillery for sustenance; gunpowder for mining, and
    middle school chemistry for farming, and the 18th century is within reach.

  137. megabar says:

    Anyone with a grounding in modern science (e.g. someone with an engineering or science degree, or a well-informed layman) _could_ be a huge asset to people of the past. Knowing that something is possible is a huge boost to discovery, because it provides direction and motivation.

    The question is whether or not you could convince important people that what you say is true. If you could, there would be rapid innovation. If you couldn’t, you’d be hanged.

    In fact, it would be a fascinating (if impossible) experiment to see how fast a team of a nation’s 1000 smartest people could bootstrap a Dark Ages society, if given a rough description of historically important inventions and discoveries (including societal ones like universities and economics), a good amount of funding, and the faith that it is true.

    Would it happen in a lifetime? Would it implode? Would they get it right, or make massive mistakes from misinterpretations?

  138. @anonymous coward

    Learning languages in the abstract is difficult. This is why only a small number of people major in languages.

    However, learning them as a necessity—much easier.

    I was horrid at languages in high school and college (nearly failed one course), but at one point in life I was dropped into a foreign nation where I had to live for four months and I was shocked at how quickly I went from “can’t understand anything” to “bargaining, reading, and arguing in the native tongue”. It took roughly a month to get decent enough to survive and then in the next three I got even dramatically better.

  139. Never mind all those weapons and impressive tech establishments.
    If I had the time, I’d retrain as a dentist in the here-and-now, learn how to refine the analgesics, and mug up on the various alloys for tools and fillings etc.
    Get a local smith or wright to learn how to make them.
    I’d be the toast of royalty and nobility alike, worldwide.

    I’m fairly sure my own dentist uses mediaeval instruments and practices. Perhaps he’s a time traveller, but into the future.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  140. @Sick 'n Tired

    I’ve found its a horrible idea to watch a historical movie/TV show with a woman and to point out how dirty and unclean all the “sexy men” depicted actually would have been.

    Another bad idea: watching any movie/TV show with a woman where the movie/TV show is made after 1995 where the male lead or bad boy takes his shirt off and pointing out he’s clearly on steroids.

    Women really hate truth.

  141. WJ says:
    @Jack D

    The kid is a bad azz hero. Far braver than most of our military men blowing up muz with 21st century weaponry. He also took 2 pieces of garbage out of this world including a child rapist. His defense made many mistakes and the judge, despite his image, attempted to give the prosecution a good opening with the provocation allowance. With better jury selection the next jury deliberation wouldn’t have taken so long.

  142. Calculus; basic hygiene (esp waste disposal and water purification); basic metallurgy; basic surgical anatomy; basic materials science; a bunch of other ‘broad-brush’-type stuff (e.g., that willow bark yields an aspirin-like analgesic that’s about as effective as paracetamol; if you can get your hands on Ephedra Sinica you can use that bark as a stimulant).

    Crop rotation and fallow periods as ways to improve crop yields…

    To mark oneself out as knowledgeable (and thus to come to the attention of people who matter), understanding some basic astronomy and probability wouldn’t hurt.

    • Replies: @mc23
  143. Not Raul says:

    Simple: basic hygiene.

    Surgeons, obstetricians, ect. should wash their hands a lot.

    Leeches are usually not a good idea.

    Keep human waste products separate from drinking water.

    People with asthma shouldn’t smoke.

    Stay away from radium water, and other radioactive quack cures.

    Using mercury as medicine, or ingesting it for any other reason, is usually a bad idea. Arsenic is bad, too.

  144. mc23 says:

    I believe in one SFI story (Sprague De Camp?) the time traveler invents double entry bookkeeping , the printing press with moveable type and distilling alcohol to make brandy or whiskey. The new accounting method alone makes a tremendous difference.

    Obstetric forceps for delivering babies is a fairly recent invention from around 1500. I’ve heard that it was kept as a trade secret for a 100 years, only passed down by students of the inventor. They would shoo everyone out of the room while they performed their magic. I ‘d like to think that’s a tall tale but I am afraid it could be true.

    • Replies: @Right_On
  145. @Mr. Blank

    My favorite line from the movie “Looper” is when Jeff Daniels travels back in time and asks Joseph Gordon-Levitt where he’s going to retire to.


    “No, retire to China, do not retire to France.”

    “But I like France better so I’m going to retire to France.”

    “Listen, I’m a Man from the Future, and I’m telling do NOT retire to France.”

    • LOL: Colin Wright
    • Replies: @mc23
  146. @obwandiyag

    One theory is Europeans did more bathing in the middle ages than in early modern times.

  147. @Jack D

    ‘C’mon, can’t people enjoy a small victory for even 1 minute? Don’t be a nattering nabob of negativism.’

    They passed the infrastructure bill today. This is like we sank a Japanese destroyer — and they took Singapore.

  148. mc23 says:

    Didn’t think of it but astronomy could be a big one. Predicting eclipses would give you a lot of respect. Combine that with distilling hard liquor and you would be the toast of the star party.

  149. @Colin Wright

    But there you go. Do you have any idea of how to make a sextant? Or what — absent charts — you would do with it?

    Yes, I do. It’s similar in design to an astrolabe with mirrors and a screw mechanism to increase accuracy (all of which were available in 500AD). Adding a telescope would be useful if you could have someone grind and polish glass. Charts already existed, but their accuracy was hampered by the inability to take accurate position measurements. That would be remedied by the sextant.

  150. mc23 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    In his WWI memoir of trench warfare Storm of Steel, Ernst Juenger, makes repeated snarky comments on the hygiene of the French civilians behind German lines. Among two I recall, one case observing he found no sign of a loo in a shelled villa and in another wondering if a village woman who’s house he boarded in was using a sack of cornstarch to lighten her skin because he saw no evidence of her ever bathing.

    The French still gave him the Médaille de la Paix in 1979 so no hard feelings.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  151. @Gordo

    Great story, kind of poignant at the end.

  152. @Expletive Deleted

    You make a good point. Even now, the difference between, say, American dentistry and that in certain other countries is centuries apart. I just got a beautiful implant indistinguishable from a real tooth. My dentist and oral surgeon are 21st century Michelangelo and Gustave Eiffel combined. This is my third, and I am smiling. In my wife’s home country, many middle aged people typically wear dentures. There is no comparison.

  153. @Anonymous

    Rubber tires are really nice on a bicycle.

    Lots of places never invented the wheelbarrow, which seems extremely useful anyplace the ground isn’t soggy year round.

    • Replies: @EH
  154. S Johnson says:
    @Bill P

    Confessions 6.33:

    “When Ambrose read, his eyes ran over the columns of writing and his heart searched out the meaning, but his voice and his tongue were at rest. Often when I was present—for he did not close his door to anyone and it was customary to come in unannounced—I have seen him reading silently, never in fact otherwise. I would sit for a long time in silence, not daring to disturb someone so deep in thought, and then go on my way. I asked myself why he read in this way. Was it that he did not wish to be interrupted in those rare moments he found to refresh his mind and rest from the tumult of others’ affairs? Or perhaps he was worried that he would have to explain obscurities in the text to some eager listener, or discuss other difficult problems? For he would thereby lose time and be prevented from reading as much as he had planned. But the preservation of his voice, which easily became hoarse, may well have been the true cause of his silent reading.”

    A lot of things seem strange until someone does them for the first time.

  155. Cortes says:
    @Jim Don Bob

    Presumably it also depends on the materials used in the statues. Wouldn’t most church statues have been wooden, and therefore subject to more damage from friendly rubbing than, say works executed in marble?

  156. Right_On says:

    On Francis Galton’s silent whistle: Trump was always accused of dog-whistle messaging.
    I (half-seriously) thought that he should market a Trump-branded dog whistle. As a novelty item – a Christmas stocking filler – it could be a big-seller.

    The “Galton Lecture Theatre” at University College London has just been renamed “Lecture Theatre 115”, after students and staff complained that “Galton’s seductive promise was of a bold new world filled only with beautiful, intelligent, productive people. The scientists in its thrall claimed this could be achieved by controlling reproduction, policing borders to prevent certain types of immigrants, and locking away ‘undesirables’.” They say it as though it’s supposed to be a bad thing.

  157. Right_On says:

    The new accounting method alone makes a tremendous difference.

    Can you explain that to a dunderhead?
    I mean, what’s the big deal? It just making sure that you keep a reliable record of expenses versus returns. Haven’t people always done that?

    Double-entry bookkeeping always bamboozled me: Debits are recorded in an “asset” account and credits in a “liability” account. Accountants only do that to piss me off.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @mc23
  158. @JohnnyWalker123

    Steve Martin showed what would happen to a modern abstract thinker in prehistory.

    • Thanks: JohnnyWalker123
  159. @Right_On

    Historian Niall Ferguson isn’t sure that the Rothschilds had a full handle on their finances just two centuries ago.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
  160. EH says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer

    I just drew up a long list of possible inventions that might be doable for a time-traveler, and the wheelbarrow, specifically the balanced-load wheelbarrow, was the top pick for combining usefulness and manufacturability. Even a little better would be the human-drawn rather than pushed version, the rickshaw-wheelbarrow as it were, which is still not common. Why hikers and infantry haven’t adopted such devices in place of packs, I don’t know.

    Other top practical inventions:
    horse collar
    lateen or junk sail or almost anything but square-rigged – allows tacking into the wind
    decimal notation / abacus

    The heliograph would be fairly possible, and in the hands of a conqueror, high-speed communication would allow much bigger, tightly controlled empires than were practical until the 19th c.

    Coked coal and byproducts would probably be the most direct route to industrial revolution, being needed for just about everything else’s critical path: iron, glass, chemistry, creosote and derived antiseptics, gas light, etc., but would require big investment and be filthy and miserable.

    More useful devices such as the threshing machine or spinning jenny would be quite difficult.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  161. @R.G. Camara

    Don’t we get some clues about their hygiene by looking at how they portrayed themselves in art? I know that the people portrayed are often royalty or aristocrats, but that’s not always the case. Think of Pieter Bruegel’s pictures of the common people at work or play, for instance “The Peasant Wedding,” where the subjects seem entirely presentable by modern standards.

  162. mc23 says:

    I thought it was an interesting plot device but Accounting I in school convinced me to find a different career.

  163. @Loyalty Over IQ Worship

    Loyalty Over IQ Worship wrote:

    Give them information on how sick teachers are with children. My strong impression is that Steve and his type think these nice White ladies in yuppie areas are actually well-motivated people, probably morally superior, and definitely smarter than most Americans.

    But when Sailer and I were young, an awful lot of the teachers really, truly were nice white ladies dedicated to helping students learn facts and learn to think.

    My seventh-grade lit teacher (Miss Jackson), my eighth-grade US history teacher (Mrs. Sutemeier), etc.

    Mrs. Sutemeier and I had this little tag-team thing where I would innocently ask about some outrage from the US government and then Mrs. Sutemeier would run with it and explain to the class why we actually do have a Constitution (her response would start with a grin and “My dear boy…”).

    Yeah, I could also name some incompetent idiots, but no one who was maliciously “Woke.”

    It really didn’t use to be this bad.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  164. @Alice in Wonderland

    Alice in Wonderland wrote:

    I have no idea how clean China is or isn’t but the man had a totally visceral reaction to the filth and malodorous scene.

    Our family went to the Shanghai expo a decade ago and also visited Beijing and some other cities.

    The cities and tourist sites were clean; the people were well-groomed and better-dressed than most Americans, The countryside was still very poor.

    The Chinese we talked with emphasized that their country still faced lots of problems, but they thought their country’s best days were still ahead of them.

  165. @EH

    EH wrote:

    I just drew up a long list of possible inventions that might be doable for a time-traveler…

    But could you yourself actually physically build any of those things?

    I have a PhD in physics and am co-inventor on multiple patents. I’m not sure I could build any of the things you describe.

    Now, if I could catch Maxwell or Einstein at exactly the right point in their careers, I could give them a few pointers…

    On the other hand, my patents involve using Galois field theory, and I suspect that I still do not know as much about the subject as Galois did.

    And I still do not know how Newton proved that an inverse-square law gives orbits that are ellipses (yeah, I can prove it with more advanced techniques, but not with what he had available). Or how Kepler figured out the fact that they were ellipses from Tycho’s observations.

    Some of our ancestors were pretty damn smart.

    • Replies: @EH
  166. Anonymous[412] • Disclaimer says:

    Bicycles require roads. They’re not practical before the modern era (19th C.) with its extensive system of paved roads.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  167. JMcG says:

    I was in a cafe in Paris in 1986. The waitress was a vision: slim, black pencil skirt, matching sweater, light brown hair pushed back behind her perfect ears, green eyes and a smile like the sun coming up. When she approached my table it was clear from the stench that she hadn’t bathed in weeks. Now, I’ve been in pubs with Irishmen who’d been making hay all day without a look at a bar of soap, but they weren’t a patch on that young Parisienne.

  168. This would be too easy as a Geologist. If I know where and when I’m going back to, I would simply review the appropriate bureaus maps and commit the basic structure, depths, and location of high grade ores to memory. People have needed metals, minerals, and subsurface fluids for thousands of years so no matter when you go back, they would be glad to have someone who “magically” knew exactly where to dig.

    You don’t need any kind of supporting equipment and fortunately, minerals tend to stay where they are planted until a human extracts them so there is really no risk of a dry hole.

  169. S Johnson says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Charlemagne loved bathing so much that he built his Palace of Aachen around the old Roman thermal baths. Purity/cleanliness (spiritual and physical) are definitely stronger themes in Middle Ages poetry than after the Reformation. I would guess that washing then still had more connection to Roman purity rituals.

    • Replies: @mc23
  170. What language would you speak? If you had studied Latin or Greek or modern Icelandic, you might be able to talk to a few people.

    What if you knocked up some wench? Would you be your own LXIV great-grandpa? Would your mere existence be incest?

    • Replies: @S Johnson
  171. @Steve Sailer

    One theory is Europeans did more bathing in the middle ages than in early modern times.

    In Finland, entire villages, or at least hamlets, would gather in the common sauna. (Cf. Lagertha for details.)

  172. S Johnson says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    I’ve heard that people who’ve read Dante can get around Italy pretty well just using vocabulary he used. Same for ancient Greek in modern Greece.

    Chaucer isn’t very difficult to read in the original once you get used to the bizarre spellings, it’s mainly the accent that’s changed. If you were transported back to his times and stuck with Anglo-Saxon words you’d be ok.

    Languages are more stable than we can think.

  173. @kaganovitch

    BTW, k, that last part of my comment was certainly not directed at you. It was directed a Emma and others today with that perspective. I just wrote it poorly. I’m obsessive, and I just spotted a possible misunderstanding there.

    Take care. All the best to you.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
  174. @Anonymous

    IIRC the author suggested that he knew enough about petroleum engineering that he could design and build a kind of fractional distillation facility (again with the help of all the king’s greatest smiths and such.) I imagine his engine would have run extremely rough and dirty, but in those days it would have been a miracle.

  175. Veracitor says:

    My thinking on this is warped because I first read Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp when I was pretty young (all due credit to ic1000 for introducing it here). It’s a wonderful book. I have read it again several times since (the story is about much more than engineering).

    I can think of some technical ideas which de Camp didn’t put into that book, but I cannot say de Camp didn’t consider them himself before he constructed his plot.

    Often a fiction writer will create a character more capable than him or herself– an expert swordsman, a glorious singer, whatever. But the protagonist of Lest Darkness Fall, Martin Padway, is much less of an engineer than de Camp was, though perhaps more of a linguist (to get the plot moving quickly, Padway–very plausibly for a history PhD. in 1938–knows a fair amount of classical Latin and modern Italian, so he rapidly learns to communicate in 6th Century Rome). In the book, Padway can’t get his homebrew gunpowder to work nor the escapement of his experimental mechanical clock, even though he remembers the basic gunpowder recipe and can open the back of his wristwatch and see its escapement working.

    I cannot exaggerate de Camp’s auctorial achievement. He really thought about how Padway, or by extension, any sharp mid-20th-Century American (like the reader) might bootstrap himself out of poverty in the 6th Century with just his wits and pocket clutter.

    Padway arrives in the past with a few coins in his pockets, but the indigenes have no interest in those of nickel alloy, only his copper and silver– worth just enough for a few days’ food and shelter. Lacking capital, Padway can’t build any marvelous machines. He has no access to powerful men. He’s in Rome, but at a time when that city is a backwater.

    So what to do? According to de Camp, Padway must start by selling personal services. He’s not a mighty warrior (and if he were, it wouldn’t help much– bodyguards and soldiers take on a lot of risk for little pay). But Padway knows the basics of double-entry bookkeeping (something all American high-school graduates used to know). So he becomes an accounting tutor.

    That earns him enough credibility to borrow money from one of his banker clients to found a distilling business. Selling liquor is profitable enough to finance Padway’s preinvention of movable-type (Gutenberg) printing. Padway starts a newspaper then uses it to influence local politics (among other things, blackmailing a bishop into squelching a local priest who wants to denounce Padway as a witch). Padway preinvents the telescope, so he can set up a semaphore telegraph system, then he and his clients can trade on early news (you have maybe heard of Reuters?).

    You can all go read the book yourselves for the rest; I don’t want to spoil it for you.

    The real point is that Padway does find ways to build upon the 6th-Century industrial base with parts of his more-advanced knowledge, incomplete though that is.

    I think a mid-20th-Century American could probably do that more easily than, say, a recent (2021) American college graduate. In our 21st-Century era all sorts of mechanical and “analog” technology has fallen out of use in advanced countries. You can’t open the back of your wristwatch to look at the gears any more. People don’t keep small-business account books by hand (not since they got PC’s). I had a “print shop” toy when I was a kid (it was all plastic; you could set a few lines of type, ink them, make impressions)– but I couldn’t even find something similar for my children.

    A modern American might not even carry Padway’s grubstake of a few coins, or if s/he did, they would all be zinc or cupro-nickel and worthless to a 6th-Century jeweler.

    Besides emulating de Camp’s Martin Padway, if you found yourself in the 6th Century you might also be able to introduce the Argand lamp (lots of light from vegetable oil), the Montgolfiers’ (hot-air) balloon, partial-vacuum salt refining, perhaps the Appert process (canned food)– if you could finagle a supply of containers– and plenty of other valuable things that could be realized on that era’s technology base.

    I’m tempted by the idea of chemical innovations but two things bother me. One is that I don’t remember enough practical chemistry to do very much, and the other is fear of poisoning myself or others, especially using 6th-Century apparatus. For example, one could obtain sulfur and potassium nitrate fairly easily so you could make sulfuric and nitric acids, but the process would be awfully risky. I think I would concentrate on mechanical-type improvements, though I might try to refine some petroleum products. Of course I would be tempted to make gunpowder, but I might resist that temptation to avoid getting hoist on my own petard (or worse, ending up at the wrong end of someone-else’s firearm).

    • Thanks: ic1000
  176. Cortes says:

    I’d be tempted to Time travel with some board games – chess and monopoly, for starters – and a few packs of cards. People are always looking for novel forms of entertainment. Which reminds me that in her Falco “Last Act In Palmyra” novel, Lindsay Davis mischievously has her Flavian-era protagonist hook up with a band of itinerant thespians and pen a work about a prince seeking to avenge the murder of his father, the plot of which is quite similar to “Hamlet”.

  177. @Johnnygeo

    I’ve never ridden a horse. I’m an ideas man.

  178. @Anonymous

    You overestimate my ambition. I’d be satisfied to just get a renewable supply of young concubines, and live off royalties from my stirrup patent.

    • LOL: Cortes
  179. Anonymous[412] • Disclaimer says:
    @Joe Stalin

    There’s a big volcano near Mexico City. During the Spanish conquest the musketeers would climb it to retrieve sulfur to make gunpowder.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  180. @Anonymous

    Popocatépetl. 17,000′. I spent a bunch of time researching how to climb it in 1977 after hiking to the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the Lower 48, but I never did it. My friends and I were looking for something higher to climb next, but didn’t want to risk our lives on Mt. McKinley or other ice covered peaks in Canada. A volcano outside Mexico City sounded good, but when I finally found some guides to it, it sounded like a rather dull slog.

    If you want to climb it, December was supposed to be the best month.

    Hiking to the top of Mt. Whitney (recently elevated to 14,505′) is fun for the aerobically fit. I was at my best as a photographer that year, but I misplaced the box of slides from the trip, although I can still visualize some of the pictures I took. But it’s hard to get a permit to camp on the mountain. You can do the 28 mile round trip with 6300′ of elevation gain in one day but that’s No Fun.

    By the way, it was hard to research things like that before the Internet. I was at Rice U. in Houston, which had a big library but little on the topic. Houston was a big city but there were no mountain climbing shops that might carry guidebooks that would cover climbing Mexican volcanos. I probably should have got on the phone to Kelty Backpacks in Glendale, CA and have them send me a guidebook.

    By the standards of 1977, it’s incredible how much guidebook info is today available online for free.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  181. @magilla

    You’d be more successful sending a Terminator after Eli Whitney to keep the cotton gin from being invented.

  182. JMcG says:
    @Steve Sailer

    My last mountaineering trip was to Pico d’Orizaba near Vera Cruz about twenty years ago. We hiked up Ajusco (12,894) to help acclimatize. The trail was covered with litter, which was quite a shock for someone used to climbing in American national parks.
    We then went to Ixtaccihuatl and nearly summited before weather turned us back. Popocateptl was erupting at the time, so off limits to climbers. I started feeling bad on the descent from Ixtac. By the time we got to the climber’s hut on Pico d’Orizaba I had a bad case of altitude sickness. Hallucinations, etc. A Doctor who was in the hut thought I might be suffering from HACE – at the lowly altitude of 14,400 feet! I’d never had a problem before, but that put an end to my medium altitude mountaineering career.
    Mexico at that time was wonderful. One of our party was a university student from Mexico City and undertook to show us his country. To this day, the best coffee I’ve ever had was ladled out of a metal pot in a little stand alongside the road where it crossed a pass near Popo. I loved it there, tragic that it’s descended into such violence.

  183. NOTA says:

    The germ theory of disease is understandable enough for a bright child to get, and yet can all by itself make a huge improvement in the world. Soap and good sewers save way more lives than medicine.

    Plenty of high school and college age kids have learned useful chunks of math (calculus, statistics) that nobody had 500 years ago.

  184. znon says:
    @International Jew

    The damage to classical statues was the result of early Christians smashing the faces, hands and genitals of sacred statuary to prove their bona fides, replacing them with statues of saints and the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary) . They would then throw them in cesspits thus preserving the remains of their former gods for posterity. The early collectors of statuary were ironically the fathers of the Catholic church, having observed workmen around Rome digging them up to be crushed into ingredients for concrete. Many of the marble statues were copies of bronze originals, the latter being extremely rare having been mostly melted down for reuse into cannon, etc.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Anonymous
  185. znon says:

    The best way with Ireland would have been to crush their nation with repressive laws and then to starve them out, dispersing the survivors to the colonial fringes of the Empire. Oh, wait…

  186. @Jim Bob Lassiter

    After 1750, probably worth a try.

    • Replies: @Stebbing Heuer
  187. @Buzz Mohawk

    Engineers would do best of all. Mind you, they did well for the Romans too.

  188. EH says: • Website

    I think I could get dark-age craftsmen to to make the wheelbarow/ man-cart, horse collar, horseshoe, stirrups, tacking sail, heliograph, coked coal and decimal notation / abacus that I mentioned, not all on the first try, perhaps, but within months — at least given a friendly aristocrat or Church patron. Probably a cargo velocipede, as well (wooden cart-construction bicycle or tricycle with no drive), simple still, and saltpeter / gunpowder. Most people couldn’t admittedly, but the idea has long been an interest of mine.

    I left out the ideas that seemed too difficult or would require state-level resources: the gravel-road/ drainage ditch, joint-stock venture, and ship insurance, for example. You’re right that many inventions would be completely out of the question: reaper, thresher, cotton gin, spinning machines, automatic looms etc. are amazingly complex and subtle. Even a decent shovel isn’t nearly as easy as one would think.

    Still, one could do quite a bit, especially if one weren’t completely empty-handed. An interesting variation of the Connecticut Yankee idea is to grant the time-traveller some definite amount of stuff to take with him: a book, a backpack, or even a van. Another variation is to make the dark age in the future, and to try to select the optimum cache of stuff for the future barbarians to find to restart civilization.


    (Rex Research “The Civilization Kit” started off as trying to collect something like that, it has good stuff along with 150+ years of cranks, crackpots and ideas that never made it. Good mental exercise, but almost as addictive as TV Tropes.)

    A good choice for a book to take would be this one by a distant cousin of mine:
    Encyclopedia of practical receipts and processes. Containing over 6400 receipts; embracing thorough information, in plain language, applicable to almost every possible industrial and domestic requirement
    (1872) by William Brisbane Dick 1827-1901 (, read on line or download)

    For a single page to jump-start science, here’s my attempt: Physical Units Factor Tables(1 page PDF giving the 50+ most important physical quantities, encoding their mathematical relations by position and providing some essential constants)

    Here’s the full list I drew up, boring to most, but might spark better ideas:

    balanced wheelbarow / human-drawn cart
    horse collar
    lateen or junk sail – allows tacking into the wind
    water-mill, shaft and belt power transmission
    heliostat / code
    barrels (iron hoops)
    iron-bound wagoin-wheel-rim
    gravel road construction w/ drainage ditch
    decimal notation, 1-variable algebra
    joint-stock corporation, ship insurance
    standardized measures,
    measure-converting slide rule
    leaded glass, soda glass (bubble-free)
    porcelain, kaolin + dragon or forced-draft kiln
    rag paper-making
    metal pen-nib
    etching plates for printing
    saltpeter – making from baryard waste, application to meat curing and gunpowder
    atomic theory of chemistry
    basic thermodynamic theory
    barometer, manometer
    charge theory (+,-)
    magnetic coil
    magnetizing by quenching in a coil’s field
    motor- generator principles
    copper-oxide rectifier
    water pump (esp. the 1600s design that was a steam engine with no moving parts, hydraulic ram)
    pasteuruzation / canning
    petroleum locations and uses
    rotary fan (water-driven) for furnace and drying
    threshing machine
    spinning jenny
    automatic reaper
    crop rotation, organic fertilization
    case hardening
    moldboard plow (iron, self-sharpening)
    iron- and glass- making with coked coal
    coal gas, research into coal tar
    reverbatory furnace
    Bessamer converter / blast furnace
    chloralkali process (bleach)
    screw lathe
    wagon suspension / steel leaf springs

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  189. Jack D says:

    having observed workmen around Rome digging them up to be crushed into ingredients for concrete.

    Maybe for mortar. The recipe for concrete was lost at the end of the Roman period and it was not used again as a building material until the 19th century.

    Many of the marble statues were copies of bronze originals

    Many Roman statues were copies of Greek statues. A lot of Greek art is known only thru the surviving Roman copies. But yes, a lot of bronze everything got melted down into cannon and other stuff, much of it done by the church (the Popes were also secular rulers with armies).

  190. @Harry Baldwin

    James Lind did so in 1747, with stellar results which were ignored for about 60 years.

  191. Anonymous[412] • Disclaimer says:

    Some of the most famous statues like the Quirinal boxer were deliberately buried in antiquity, presumably to protect them from vandals.

  192. I’d be more inclined to get people to avoid mistakes.

    Somehow keep the American colonists from importing black slaves. Bring lots of photos and printed stories for show ‘n tell?

    Could Frederick III’s cancer be avoided or properly treated? The German Empire with an Anglophile liberal at its head for forty years instead of Wilhelm II.

    Convince the German hardliners round about 1916 that they really want to agree to pursuing a negotiated peace. Really — no foolin.’

    Then there’s anti-technology. Stop Eli Whitney from inventing the cotton gin, for example.

    …but wouldn’t somebody else just come up with it?

  193. Jack D says:
    @Colin Wright

    Drawing wire (used originally for jewelry) is a very old skill going back to maybe 1500 BC. The basic idea is that you pull the wire thru a series of decreasingly smaller series of holes in a harder material. Our standard wire gauges refer to the numbering sequence on a drawing plate, with #1 being the biggest hole, the 2nd hole in the plate being labeled #2, etc. This is why a #14 wire is smaller than a #12.

    If I was going to time travel, I would want to bring the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica with me. Maybe on microfilm with a pocket microscope. Once I got there, the scribes could copy it out again full size.

  194. Part of the problem is that innovation generally appears when a need is perceived, and languishes when it isn’t.

    The Greeks invented a steam engine, for example. Since they perceived no need for mechanical power, it was just an interesting toy. A stamp — the basic idea behind printing — has been found on prehistoric Crete or something. The innovation did not catch on.

    There’s a story which may or may not be apocryphal. Supposedly, at some point in the Sixties, some UN team introduced a new strain of rice to Thailand that doubled yields. The peasants readily adopted it, and the UN went away, confidently expecting to see doubled yields within a few years.

    They were chagrined to discover yields didn’t go up at all. They came back, and discovered the peasants were indeed using the new rice, and in fact, were very happy with it.

    It meant they only had to plant half as much. Absent a perceived need for increased production, there was no reason for any other outcome.

    Conversely, if a technology is perceived to be needed, development can be very fast. When, after the Mexican War, the US became a nation spanning a continent, there was obviously a crying need for swift communication.

    The initial response was the Pony Express. A commendable endeavor, but obviously not satisfactory. Within two years, though, the telegraph had been invented. But would it have been invented as soon if the US had still been confined to the East — or if there hadn’t been a whole lot of economic activity erupting on the West Coast?

    So I’m skeptical that taking this or that back to the past would necessarily change much. People have to perceive the status quo to be unsatisfactory before the will adopt an innovation. How many of us, for example, have a Rhoomba — the self-operating vacuum? They actually work reasonably well, they don’t cost all that much, and they inarguably save time. So why don’t more people have Rhoombas?

    Probably, because they don’t mind vacuuming all that much.

  195. znon says:

    Maybe after they got through deciding through scientific inquiry if you were really a witch for having microfilm and a microscope. However, if you explained your religion and ethnicity I am sure everything would be fine with them, and they would welcome you as a fellow secular humanist.

  196. raga10 says:
    @Alice in Wonderland

    Sounds like a blog post I read by a Chinese guy who visited India. He literally could not believe how disgusting it was. I have no idea how clean China is or isn’t but the man had a totally visceral reaction to the filth and malodorous scene.

    Yes, India is pretty filthy but no worse than any other third world country and plenty of Westerners (myself included) visited India without having such strong reaction. If your Chinese guy had such a hard time that’s because he’s an exceptionally sensitive individual, not because China is exceptionally clean.

  197. Far more important than any piece of technical knowledge would be to tell people that the love of many will grow cold, that sexual immorality will increase, and that wickedness will multiply – because the people of the future lost their faith and their love.

    isteve commenters are by nature spergs, and by their nature spergs care about civilization and the accoutrements of technology more than is appropriate.

    All these civilizational bells and whistles are passing away, they were always going to pass away, and you would never take them beyond your grave anyways, supposing you lived in an isteve-approved whitopia.

    Even if we were colonizing the stars, your immortal soul, the things you do, matter more.

    “The world’s a stage, and we are but actors” Or something. The play we are in sucks, but play your part with nobility.

    The more you meditate on your soul, the less you care about civilization. A positive benefit is you are less perturbed by the destruction around you. You can go throough your day with more equanimity.

    I would probably tell of the apparition of Fatima, the fulfillment of the prophecies given there, and the necessity for childlike faith.

    Most of you would want to make things more complicated than they really are. The fruits of the West’s intellectual power was spiritual death. I would like to tell them to return to a childlike faith. If I had the strength to do so, I would. It’s a message I need to repeat to myself constantly as well.

  198. @PhysicistDave

    I too had some excellent teachers. One I remember was my HS history teacher named Bernard Geoghan. He said one time “You don’t have to do anything in this world but die.” That has always stuck with me.

  199. James Thompson has lectured in Psychology at the University of London all his working life. His first publication and conference presentation was a critique of Jensen’s 1969 paper, with Arthur Jensen in the audience. He also taught Arthur how to use an English public telephone. Many topics have taken up his attention since then, but mostly he comments on intelligence research.

    This person is quoted as saying:

    If we could travel back in time, would we be of great use to our ancestors? Probably not. We would chatter to them about scientific advances we did not fully understand, based on supportive technologies which would not be available, & without knowing what they already knew.

    If Mr. Thompson changed every instance of “we” to “I”, that would probably be an accurate. He is projecting his own ignorance about virtually everything. I don’t doubt this person could do a real snow job on any average audience with his racist IQ theories, but in the Real World he doesn’t look too impressive.

    The very first thing which occurred to me was Germs. Handwashing, purifying drinking water, sterilizing surgical instruments. Once they’ve looked for and identified the harmful germs, tell them about experimenting with moldy bread and weird soil samples to find antibiotics. How to culture those new discoveries for mass production. How to restrict their use to reduce the creation of antibiotic resistant germs.

    Germs cause food spoilage, so it would be an easy trick to find a tin worker to make canning lids with their thin coating of rubber on the outside perimeter. And to make the modern lightweight metal rings.

    The internal combustion engine had just been invented, but was very primitive. Get hold of some mechanics, and tell them with some improvements this could be put on a carriage to replace the horse. If they could make it light enough, it could power gliders and carry people through the air. Sketch a propeller. Sketch the Wright Flyer, then tell them about the improvements with the rear part.

    Tell them about inbreeding corn to get a puny weak strain, then crossbreeding two of these to get a hybrid. Keep chanting “There Is Money In This”.

    Does Mr. Thompson even know about incandescent lights? Blow a glass bulb, insert a carbon filament, pump out the air, then seal. They’d have to experiment a bit to find the proper metals for the lead-ins through the glass. Don’t know if the dynamo had been invented yet, but simply describing the basic principle would be enough to get them well started. Edison invented the vacuum tube without knowing it. Tell the old timers about the money to be made with Wireless Telegraphs.

    Point is, you don’t need to carry back a blueprint, only an idea that you can promise will make the first to market the device a LOT of money. I’ve taken apart carbon-zinc batteries, and know you need the central carbon rod and the surrounding zinc shell, and from there the experimenters could try a lot of materials until they found some combination which worked best.

    Fingerprints. Use of glass photographic plates to test random rocks for fogging the plates – radioactivity. Spectrograph. How to start fiddling with a liquid-fuel rocket. Mix Chromium and Nickel with Iron to make stainless steel.

    IMO Mr. Thompson ought to stick to his pseudoscience beliefs.

    • Replies: @EH
  200. I’d take some penicillin. Not so much to teach the locals to make it, but to establish my prestige. I miraculously cure the mayor’s son — and people will start listening to me. ‘Now will you pay attention when I tell you to stop buying black slaves?’

    Also, I’ll be able to avoid dying from a lot of local bugs.

  201. TWS says:

    Way to blow that stereotype of women being narcissistic and solipsistic right out of the water.

  202. @EH

    In HG Wells’ “The Time Machine,” the hero takes 3 books from his shelves back to the future. But which ones?

    • Replies: @EH
    , @Zachary Smith
  203. TWS says:

    Don’t go full-hotep never go full hotep.

  204. EH says: • Website
    @Zachary Smith

    No ordinary troll could express thoughts on your level; Tiny Duck couldn’t have done it better.

  205. EH says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer

    That’s a tough one, not knowing what was available in ~1895. I’d say the best available atlas, best practical one-volume chemical/pharmaceutical encyclopedia, and best medical one-volume encyclopedia.

    There have been many lists of books selected for restarting civilization, but none I’m aware of have restricted themselves to such a small number. The Long Now Foundation is the most famous. Here is an article on their book selections, worth reading if just for the relevant xkcd, with links to other such projects’ selections, but also an intersectional feminist bewailing the straight-white-maleness-of-it-all that would be ideal material for one of your blog posts.

    I faced a disquieting and inevitable realization: The predicament of diversity is like a Russian nesting doll — once we crack one layer, there’s always another, a fractal-like subdivision that begins at the infinite and approaches the infinitesimal, getting exponentially granular with each layer, but can never be fully finished. If we take, for instance, the “women problem” — to paraphrase Margaret Atwood — then what about Black women? Black queer women? Non-Western Black queer women? Non-English-speaking non-Western Black queer women? Non-English-speaking non-Western Black queer women of Jewish descent? And on and on. Due to that infinite fractal progression, no attempt to “solve” diversity — especially no thirty-item list — could ever hope to be complete.

    Where is our Malagasy trans-lesbian Godel?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  206. @EH

    I’ve got my dad’s one volume engineering handbook from the 1930s. It’s densely packed with useful information in a highly lucid format. I can imagine it being extremely useful to an earlier civilization.

    • Replies: @JackOH
    , @EH
  207. Veracitor says:

    If you can take arbitrary books and/or other tools with you to the past, then you’re golden. I find it more interesting to contemplate what a clever person with very little baggage could accomplish, armed only with engineering and history knowledge an iSteve commenter might possess. Let’s wave away language constraints but not social ones. We’ll drop you someplace populous– if you went back to Iceland in 1000 you would be as screwed as Poul Anderson’s protagonist.

    I suspect a 1940 clever American would cope better in most past eras than a 2020 clever American. In the Thirties many homes still lacked electric light so people were familiar with oil lamps. Record-keeping and calculation were mostly paper-based (with help from slide-rules and log tables). Manual water-pumps were common. We have better stuff now, but someone familiar with pre-WWII stuff could reproduce lots of it on a 6th-Century technology base while utilizing many advances which had been made in the preceding fourteen centuries.

    I’ve been thinking of the 6th Century, but though that is traditional, I admit it’s arbitrary. If you go back to the Neolithic then you will have a really, really hard time. Late 1800’s? You can get rich quickly by preinventing vacuum tubes (thermionic valves)– the industrial base will be ready to supply everything you need (by 1878 the technically-complete telephone was available).

    The Dark Ages were devo, remember– besides excellent cement, Imperial Romans had multi-ton-carrying wagons with iron-tired single-felly spoked wheels and pivoting front axles; all features lost to Europeans a few centuries later. In the Dark Ages, could you get enough metal and high-temperature brick together to build coking ovens? Could you use the coke effectively? Would coking be worth the trouble if you lacked metallurgical coal?

    Problems/ideas (in no special order):

    * You just won’t have enough time to introduce everything you can think of. You will have to build prototypes of gadgets using what you can find (or can reasonably make; bootstrapping is permitted) and demonstrate their use before your new contemporaries can copy them.

    (You will probably need a lot of time to experiment with little details of anything you try to build, or to gather components. For example, the Argand lamp is remarkably simple, but you would still have to get and sew some fabric for the wick, get a coppersmith to fashion the lampbase, fount, oil reservoir, wick-holder, etc. (some of that could be pottery), and get a glassblower to make you a chimney.)

    * Partial exception to the previous problem– if you introduce printing you can create and distribute technical books (cf. De Re Metallica) so other people can introduce your gadgets.

    * Sanitary advances will be hard to proselytize. You can tell people about the germ theory of disease, but will they act as you suggest? Remember, there are plenty of diseases/disorders which are not caused by microorganisms that you can abate by sanitary measures, so there will always be scoffers pointing to legitimate examples of the uselessness of your methods. NIH syndrome will be a severe obstacle. (Semmelweis demonstrated the correctness of his antiseptic theory beyond a peradventure, so rather than wash their hands the medical doctors of his day literally beat him to death to shut him up.)

    * Partial responses to the previous problem– found a sanitary hospital and administer it yourself, making rituals out of your sanitary measures; send forth trained disciples to spread your methods. Eventually your cult will get a good reputation. Maybe. Or else preinvent the microscope and Pasteur’s experiments and Koch’s methods and spend years convincing bright students.

    * You can (and should!) introduce Jennerian vaccination against the smallpox, but many people still won’t listen to you about sanitation or bacterial disease.

    * The heavy plow dates from around 900 as does the horse collar in Europe. Stirrups were used in Europe by 600 or so.

    * You will want rubber to make hoses and gaskets (and gum boots, and many other things). If you end up in Europe before 1500 you will have to mount a trans-Atlantic expedition to acquire Brazilian latex. You may be able to send to Africa for Congo latex. Happily you already know how to vulcanize rubber with sulfur. Perhaps you can send to Malaysia for gutta-percha. If you arrive before the Age of Sail perhaps you can jump-start it by building and demonstrating improved sailing rigs and the sternpost rudder. You will need a lot of employees or disciples.

    * You can look for lodestone then go into the magnetic-compass-needle business. Perhaps you should construct a solenoid, though, even if you have to build a battery to power it.

    * To do much with electricity you’ll need a lot of wire and perhaps acid for batteries. You should introduce wire-drawing machines to replace boys with pliers on swings. Be careful making acid, you might injure yourself with fumes. Considering how many pre-requisites you would have to accomplish before getting much done with electric motors, you might prefer to concentrate on steam engines. Of course with cheap wire and some batteries you could build an electric telegraph system.

  208. @Steve Sailer

    If you’re not restricted to H.G. Wells technology, you have a lot of choices.

    Back in the last century the NCR company was tinkering with light-sensitive dyes. These had a huge advantage over silver used for microfiche in that the grain was infinitely smaller.

    I was surprised to learn these are still for sale. As the blurb says, a toy 100x microscope will read them just fine.

    Anyhow, with a good sized shoe box a person could carry many tens of thousands of fat books anywhere. The super-low-tech retrieval is a nice bonus.

    • Thanks: EH
  209. JackOH says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Steve, my Dad, an electrician and electrical contractor, had a few shelf-feet of those Audel’s guides, plus other practical reference books. As a youngster, I’d steal a look at them. Strange words–“telpherage”, “PBX”, etc.–likewise strange illustrations–circuitry–and a typeface and layout that to my 5-year-old brain looked authoritative, kind of biblical-seeming.

    Not sure how those guides would travel back in time.

  210. Anonymous[412] • Disclaimer says:

    That won’t work. They’ll just marvel at the foolishness of their descendants who can destroy whole cities in the blink of an eye but can’t control a few wild negroes. You won’t convince them of anything, except to try and raise less-foolish children.

  211. @Buzz Mohawk

    Not to worry, Buzz. I’m not a very sensitive soul. As they used to say in the auld sod “Több is veszett Mohácsnál.”

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  212. @EH

    I would add to those, S.M. Stirling’s ‘Island in the Sea of Time’ trilogy(precursor/inverse of his later ‘Emberverse ‘ series) and Eric Flint’s “Ring of Fire” series.

    • Agree: EH
  213. @Steve Sailer

    Historian Niall Ferguson isn’t sure that the Rothschilds had a full handle on their finances just two centuries ago.

    And we see how badly that turned out for them.If we wish to demonstrate the importance of modern accounting methods maybe that’s not the very best example?

  214. EH says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer

    Those old handbooks are gold. I’ve only seen a few, no doubt there are many others that may be better. My dad’s “Documenta Geigy Scientific Tables”, given out by Ceba-Geigy pharmaceutical company to med students, is a marvel of the type; better than a cocksure doctor’s fallible memory by far. Sadly its now falling apart and singed from sun focused by a flower vase.

    The Chemical Rubber Corporation’s (CRC) Handbooks, aka “the rubber book” are another line of classics, though loaded with a bunch of stuff only relevant for those with NMR spectrometers and such.

    I found an amazing library of old references for restarting civilization, though they are almost all big PDFs: The Survivor Library. Copies are available for \$80, which is nearly free, given that they are on 320GB HDD or 256GB USB sticks.

  215. @kaganovitch

    Köszönöm szépen.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  216. @James Thompson

    Set the controls to a few decades earlier. There must be a way to game the simultaneous South Sea and Mississippi bubbles of 1718-1720.

  217. Anonymous[141] • Disclaimer says:

    An easy invention would be HTSC. YBa2Cu3-oxide. Just weight out stoichiometric amounts of starting oxides (use carbonate for the barium). Grind together. press pellet. And heat at 850C for a couple days. Can demonstrate Meisner effect by chilling with liquid N2 (easily obtained) and deflecting a thread suspended pellet. Won’t change history, but would be an easy Nobel prize to enrich yourself.

  218. Anonymous[405] • Disclaimer says:

    Nick Szabo says that the very first bicycle in 1817 had metal ball bearings, so it really wasn’t easy to make.

  219. mc23 says:
    @S Johnson

    A lot of sulfar in the Aachen hot springs. Great for arthritis and skin conditions after a hard campain busting skulls.

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