Lion of the Blogosphere

How old is too old to finish a series of fantasy novels?

People don’t like to talk about it, but mental facility declines with age, and precipitously after the age of 70. George R.R. Martin is 68. If he hasn’t been able to output much during his 60s, I think it’s only going to get slower in his 70s.

All of Robert Heinlein’s worst novels were written when he was in his 70s. Is there any Heinlein worth reading after Time Enough for Love?

J.R.R. Tolkien never wrote much of worth after The Lord of the Rings, which was published in 1955 when he was in his 60s.

My high school Creative Writing teacher, Frank McCourt (who hated fantasy and science fiction), didn’t become famous until his memoir Angela’s Ashes was published in 1996 when he turned 66. But his follow-up books were pretty mediocre. He would never have become a famous memoirist based on his two follow-up books.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

July 17, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

85 Responses

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  1. My late dad’s internist once opined that just about everybody over the age of 65 has dementia to one degree or another.

    Sgt. Joe Friday

    July 17, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    • I’ve read this before in some IQ/intelligence book. Higher IQ people tend have less decline though.


      July 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    • everybody … has … to one degree or another.

      this is a tautology.

      Beverly Hills Ninja

      July 17, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    • Probably a significant proportion of Americans, old or young, are cognitively impaired by drugs, alcohol and the ravages of obesity. Not to mention Candy Crush. There are oodles of fat dullards in their twenties waddling down the sidewalks with their mouth-breathing faces stuck in their smartphones.

      Jimmy Kangaroo

      July 19, 2017 at 11:05 am

  2. yeah, it’s true that people become dull with age…


    1) people that use their brain constantly in high IQ jobs, such as say academic research in math, have much much lower declines. I’ve seen people in their 70’s which were incredibly sharp. You don’t need to have a high IQ job, doing puzzles every day has the same effect.

    2) nowadays, there’s a lot more known about the link between exercise and lucidity in old age. people that take care of themselves can expect to have a much slower mental decline.

    3) intermittent fasting is also known to slow the mental decline drastically. the benefit is very straight forward. by doing IF or just fasting actually, you can get your HGH levels up by up to 2000%. this drives cellular repairs.

    4) drugs… Erdos took amphetamines non-stop to speed up his brain… he was extremely active until his death at 83 (heart attack at a conference)

    So, yeah, it’s possible to slow your mental decline


    July 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    • George RR Martin doesn’t look like he exercises very much.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      July 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    • I’ve never seen convincing evidence that having a high IQ job or doing puzzles has any effect beyond selecting for high IQ.

      JW Bell

      July 17, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    • 1) people that use their brain constantly in high IQ jobs, such as say academic research in math, have much much lower declines. I’ve seen people in their 70’s which were incredibly sharp. You don’t need to have a high IQ job, doing puzzles every day has the same effect.

      If you’re really smart to begin with you can decline quite a bit and still be smarter than average.


      July 17, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      • I believe that’s the main reason that smart people are less likely to get Alzheimer’s. They have it but it’s not diagnosed.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        July 17, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    • Amphetamines are wonderful!!!


      July 17, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      • So are opioids for that matter.

        Mrs Stitch

        July 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm

  3. This seems to be a leitmotif of yours. Why don’t you create something now, and stop bemoaning the inevitable weakening?

    BTW for those of us of a more optimistic bent, there is always Richard Strauss. “The major works of the last years of Strauss’s life, written in his late 70s and 80s, include, among others, his Horn Concerto No. 2, Metamorphosen, his Oboe Concerto, and his Four Last Songs.” (from Wikipedia.)

    That’s better than most modern music scribblers do in a lifetime.


    July 17, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    • Richard Wagner composed the music to Parsifal in his 60s. What’s striking is that the music is at least as good as what you find in his very best works (Götterdämmerung, Tristan und Isolde, Meistersinger). Really, there’s no decline in musical quality, and he experiments with and masters new musical techniques, and gives the opera a distinct feeling all its own from his other works.

      The plot and characters are a lot weaker than in the other works I mentioned, but he cared less and less about creating a compelling story as time passed, choosing instead to focus on the music.

      That said, Wagner was one of the great geniuses of humanity. A lot of talented people decline as they get older, whereas the truly exemplary just seem to perfect their crafts over time. They might get slower and fuzzier in the head, but they have so much sheer intelligence and creativity to shed that the continued mastery of their craft compensates for their loss in pure talent. Wagner planned on writing symphonies in his 70s, and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t have been superlative works of music. Alas.


      July 17, 2017 at 9:02 pm

      • Nor do we know what Mozart or Beethoven would have produced, had they lived beyond 36 and 57, respectively.

        The choreographer George Balanchine went through crests & troughs but entered a period of creativity in 1972, and then actually produced some top flight pieces in the late 70s, before his brain atrophied due to a disease.

        Boring people get more boring as they age. Interesting people get more interesting.


        July 18, 2017 at 11:20 am

      • the interesting thing about wagner’s music. and it is interesting.

        his music sucks…when performed by 99% of orchestras.

        but it’s sine pari when performed by…the berlin philharmonic in studio conducted by herbert von karajan.

        sine pari!

        wagner is like nessun dorma…hardly any can perform it at all.

        even caruso couldn’t.

        it’s pavarotti vs gigli.

        i go with gigli!

        gigli was 59 when he recorded this. hard to believe. maybe.

        Beverly Hills Ninja

        July 18, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    • Then, there’s Verdi. I am not refined enough to love his Falstaff, which premiered when he was 80 years old, but I think his Otello is the tops and the only way I can take Shakespeare these days, and that was first performed when he was 74.

      Opera fans can be Susie Sunshine when thinking about the output of their favorite composers whether they die too young or live to an old age.


      July 18, 2017 at 11:39 am

      • The best composers had huge brains.

        Mrs Stitch

        July 18, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      • And Monet and Picasso, who were painting until they were codgers. Picasso was also quite randy until the end, before Viagra.

        John Updike was writing until the end (I think).

        But perhaps there’s a difference between writing, painting & making music. I think that painting & writing music (provided one is extremely well-trained and talented) access more primitive parts of the brain, and presumably less affected by aging? I don’t know.


        July 19, 2017 at 11:32 am

      • I agree.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        July 19, 2017 at 1:14 pm

  4. Very true! Same with Alexander Solshenitzin and Alexander Block. I think that we should evaluate their output in the old age with this understanding in mind. We can’t judge them by their later years.


    July 17, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    • It is true, but we should also not forget how hard it is true produce truly exceptional art in the first place. A single person only has so much in them, and not only does you mind deteriorate as you get older, but you also reach a point where you have used up all your good ideas. Plenty of examples of artists who produced something fantastic in their 20’s and worked the rest of their lives without ever doing anything that came close to that first original book, painting, or song.


      July 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      • True. Alexander Solzenitzen’s work was uneven in his best years. I think ‘Cancer Ward’ was his best and most complete work. A must read!


        July 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm

  5. I’ve never read the LoftR, only Tolkien’s The Hobbit in middle school. It was probably considered “SWPL” material back then vs now, which is seen as prole to read most sci-fi/fantasy, given its dark undertone. Sort of like Black Sabbath when they 1st debut Iron Man, which sounded heavy, yet harmless, but later the band morphed into a metal genre with satanical references.


    July 17, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    • Fantasy has become re-SWPL-ized. Educated, liberal whites, even girls, seem to like that stuff now. Still hasn’t caught on with minorities.


      July 17, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      • I’m not sure how true that is. Other than Star Wars, which is now old enough that the generation that watched it as kids and loved it are now of the age where they are calling the shots; so it has nostalgia value. But GoT is only popular with the SWPL crowd because it’s on HBO (therefore exclusive) and has a lot of nudity. If GoT has been shown on Syfy, no SWPL would ever have watched it and it wouldn’t have any buzz. I would argue that The Magicians and The Expanse or at least as good as GoT, but no proper SWPL would be caught dead talking about them over their latte.

        Mike Street Station

        July 18, 2017 at 6:30 am

  6. “J.R.R. Tolkien never wrote much of worth after The Lord of the Rings, which was published in 1955 when he was in his 60s.”

    He had no need to. He already was rich and famous.



    July 17, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    • Lions statement is vacuously true because Tolkien was basically involved in revising and expanding the various fragmentary stories, myths and translations he had been working on since the 1910’s. He was more interested in the creation of things so its a minor miracle that anything was ever done enough for him to give to the publisher in the first place (as is evidenced by the voluminous Appendixes to the Return of the King).

      The idea of wrapping all of this into teh post-LOTR The Silmarillion was basically an impossible task- confirmed by the fact that Christopher Tolkien eventually pushed the work in 10 volumes instead of the publishers one.

      For actual counter examples I’d give Agatha Christie, and Dick Francis.

      Agatha Christie was producing a novel a year into her eighties. Some of the last ones are weak, but Bertrams Hotel and A Caribbean Mystery, Nemesis and By the Picking of My Thumbs are all good works produced in her ’70’s.

      Dick Francis also produced nearly a book a year until his death at 90. His son helped with the last lot but he had a lot of really good books past 80.

      Rex Stout also published books up until his death at 88. Although the best of his late works might have been Father Hunt which was maybe 10 years before his death.

      I am reading Donald Westlake books now, primarily because I like that 60’s/70’s vibe. I know he published up to his death but I havent gotten that far to say if they hold up.

      Lion o' the Turambar

      July 17, 2017 at 6:08 pm

  7. maugham completed The Razor’s Edge at age 70 iirc.

    Beverly Hills Ninja

    July 17, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    • Thoroughly enjoyable, throwing that drunken prick Maugham out of my bar back when I was a young bartender. What an asshole.


      July 17, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      • You met Somerset Maugham? What did he do to make such a bad impression? From what I have read about him, he was a mess, but I didn’t know he was boorish in public.


        July 17, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      • He was aggressively groping/hitting on younger guys at the bar, to the point where a couple of them complained.

        Then he got nasty with me when I asked him to dial it back a notch, pulled the “don’t you know who I am” routine. When I called him a chickenhawk, he flipped out and starting screeching, so I had security toss him.

        He was on the 86 list at several SF bars back then.


        July 18, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    • The Razor’s Edge is related to this post and the post before it in a way no other work is.

      maugham had been a great success since his late 30s. he was a millionaire (many times over) novelist before he published The Razor’s Edge.

      so he’s not frank mccourt.

      he’s a genuine example of the best coming late. haven’t read any of his other works. i read The Razor’s Edge only because steve martin recommended it. prole, but true.

      recall the second newhart show, “i’m larry. this is my brother darryl. and this is my other brother darryl.” the writer had read The Razor’s Edge.

      at the same time it may not be a good example as maugham had worked on it for years, years when he was younger. perhaps much younger. idk. it took place immediately after WW I. so he may have been working on it for 20 years or more.

      like Brideshead it is his masterpiece, but the pseudo-sophisticated professional literary critics will claim otherwise. and yes Brideshead is better than A Handful of Dust, but not much better.

      Beverly Hills Ninja

      July 18, 2017 at 4:22 pm

  8. maybe the problem has more to do with running out of inspiration than old age

    grey enlightenment

    July 17, 2017 at 3:31 pm

  9. Look, George R.R. Martin doesn’t want to write. He’s been spending his time and wealth doing all sorts of ridiculous projects and hobbies. If he wanted to write, he would. I think at this point, he’s bored with his GoT world and each time he sits down to write it’s drudgery.

    So he goes off and rides a hot air balloon.

    Mike Street Station

    July 17, 2017 at 4:22 pm

  10. I loved Tom Wolfe’s newest book, The Kingdom of Speech. He’s 86.


    July 17, 2017 at 4:55 pm

  11. McCourt had some version of Angela’s Ashes in him for 50 years. Taking 5 or even 10 years to write a follow up really is no comparison. Also,a writer, comedian, rock star has an original voice. The first time you hear that voice it is fresh and exciting. The older performer has to contend with an audience that knows their tricks. Now decline is real, but the audience is changing as much as the artist.


    July 17, 2017 at 5:23 pm

  12. I thought this article was going to be about whether you were too old to finish reading a fantasy novel.

    There are novelists writing quality work in their 70s and later now. Age probably won’t be a factor for R.R.

    Dave Pinsen

    July 17, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    • There should definitely be an age limit on reading Sword & Sorcery fantasy works, young adult novels and – God help us – Harry Potter. Anyone over forty reading a book meant for sixth graders should be submitted to public ridicule.

      Jimmy Kangaroo

      July 18, 2017 at 10:47 am

  13. My Dad recently turned 80 y/o and, while physically active and fit, gave up all intellectual pursuits after retiring at age 55 from a 30-year engineering career. I haven’t noticed any dementia other than repeating stories at every get together and an inability (or unwillingness) to focus or listen to others in conversation. Lately, he’s been attending monthly free luncheons hosted by various financial sales reps hawking various financial products. He’s got one coming over to his house next week. Should I be worried?

    Smartest Woman on the Internet

    July 17, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    • Yes keep him away from financial sales reps.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      July 17, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      • 100%


        July 17, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      • I gave up running and have been doing raceway walking and kettlebell for exercise. My daughter picked up running and to support her we just ran a 5k race in the Prospect Park. Man, this is the elexir of youth that the world has been searching for. Wow! Running makes you feel young. Lion, are paying attention?


        July 17, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      • “Wow! Running makes you feel young.”

        Until your knees give out. I’d recommend low-impact exercise for the long term.


        July 18, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      • @Ddr

        There is no contradiction – it makes you feel young, but it may have negative consequences. I also recommend low impact exercise, when asked, but I also recommend to do like I say not like I do. When you feel runners high, it’s hard not to run. m0


        July 18, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    • Yes keep him away from financial sales reps.

      The elderly are often victims of shady financial scams looking to steal some or all of their retirement savings, which can often be substantial amounts.

      Even if his cognitive decline is barely noticeable she should consider helping her father routinely with his finances and check in with him a few times a month to ask if he’s been talking to any “financial” reps.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      July 17, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    • Speaking of people falling victim to scammers will Lion be giving us his thoughts on Boris Becker’s bankruptcy?
      Apparently he gave a hundred million to a ‘financial adviser’.
      From Nigeria….

      Dr Hook

      July 19, 2017 at 9:50 am

  14. “Is there any Heinlein worth reading after Time Enough for Love?”

    I felt like RAH was already losing his ability in Time Enough for Love. He continued downhill from there, but then I heard that he had some kind of surgery to restore circulation to his brain and his final novel, Friday was very solid.


    July 17, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    • I loved The Number of the Beast, but it was the beginning of the end. After that, Heinlein tried to wrap every story and novel he had written (including Friday) into that book’s premise.

      Mike Street Station

      July 18, 2017 at 6:34 am

  15. Even if Martin never finishes the novel series, the publishers will hire someone else to adapt the later part of the TV series into something that fits in with the novels. Might be better that way, really.

    Greg Pandatshang

    July 17, 2017 at 7:12 pm

  16. He’s not going to finish the series. Nor should he. Reading the 4th and 5th books should make that clear. Some of the worst books I’ve read in the past few years.

    Panther of the Blogocube

    July 17, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    • Agreed. The first three novels were amazing. After reading a Feast of Crows, which I could barely finish, I haven’t even thought of continuing the series since then.

      I highly recommend Brandon Sanderson, whose productivity is without peer. I think he knows that after a certain age he’s going to lose his edge, so he’s trying to pump out the novels as fast as possible.


      July 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm

  17. Lion, your readership expects a review of Dunkirk at some point this week, or next week.


    July 17, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    • “Lion, your readership expects a review of Dunkirk at some point this week, or next week.”

      I can sum up every aspect of World War II in Europe in one sentence:
      No matter what else happened we still would have won once the atomic bomb was ready.



      July 17, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      • “No matter what else happened we still would have won once the atomic bomb was ready.”

        Not really. There was enough material only for 2 bombs. US couldn’t make a 3rd bomb for years after Hiroshima. Ofc, luckily the Japanese didn’t know about this


        July 18, 2017 at 11:07 am

      • “US couldn’t make a 3rd bomb for years after Hiroshima”

        Nope. US would have had seven bombs for the invasion of Kyushu in November 1945 (and yes we planned to drop them all to support the invasion). Production rate in late 1945 was “one every ten days”.


        July 18, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    • One sentence review of Dunkirk: “Too many white people.”


      July 18, 2017 at 10:03 am

  18. I remember from the old Book of Lists “Achievers At Advanced Age”: literary works and age author completed them:

    At 93, George Bernard Shaw wrote the play Farfetched Fables.
    At 84, W. Somerset Maugham wrote Points of View.
    At 83, Aleksandr Kerensky wrote Russia and History’s Turning Point.
    At 82, Winston Churchill wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
    At 82, Leo Tolstoy wrote I Cannot Be Silent.


    July 17, 2017 at 11:05 pm

  19. While he wasn’t old, at only 63, Ulysses Grant finished writing his autobiography three days before he died of cancer. It’s still in print.



    July 17, 2017 at 11:16 pm

  20. “At 83, Aleksandr Kerensky wrote Russia and History’s Turning Point.”

    Not to boast, but I’m only one degree of separation from Kerensky. I’m not sure of the details, but my grandfather on my mother’s side, who was the president of a manufacturing business in Connecticut, had some business dealings with him. This was long before I was born.



    July 17, 2017 at 11:21 pm

  21. I believe a lot of what Frank McCourt wrote was simply made-up. For example, in his book about teaching he claimed to have had a boyfriend-girlfriend pair in one of his classes – an Irish girl and an Italian boy. The two students were planning to get engaged. Then the boy gets beaten up in Prospect Park by some Irish-American lout.. The boy, wounded even more psychologically than physically, breaks up with his Irish girlfriend due to this. Who could take this story seriously? Even in the 1950’s when this incident was supposed to have taken place, the Irish and Italians had significant intermarriage. Each ethnic groups had it’s roughneck type and there would have been no reason for any IA boy to so overreact to an encounter with one Irish bully. He certainly wouldn’t have given up a girlfriend he loved over this. Yet McCourt says that this boy, Sal, not only gave up his girlfriend, but transferred out of McCourt’s class due to his being Irish. BS. There was significant Irish-Italian intermarriage as far back as the 1920’s. The worst that is likely to have happened if this incident was real is that Sal might have mumbled something about being attacked by “some mic bastard thug” and his girlfriend, Louise, might have protested the ethnic slur and said “how would you feel if I called some IA female bully “a guinea bitch?”

    If McCourt really wanted to be taken seriously he might have commented on how strange Irish-Italian intermarriage seemed to a man like himself from Ireland. After all, it was mixing two very different cultures which seemed two have only two things in common. One was being Roman Catholic. And the other was a volatile temperament.


    July 17, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    • I once had a female co-worker who was part Irish/Italian and she was always crying about her ex-boyfriend who was a Japanese sushi chef. Needless to say, she was a total nut bag to work with. Call it the joys of American multiculturalism.

      Irish proles have their unique set of “malaise” different from Italian proles. I find the lower class Irish similar to black folks. Not very bright and one dimensional due to a “pale” culture.


      July 18, 2017 at 11:06 am

  22. Jacques Barzun (who studied and taught at Columbia) lived to be 104. He was 93 when his 500-year history of the West, From Dawn to Decadence, was published.


    July 17, 2017 at 11:58 pm

  23. Today my 67 year-old father got a phone call from a person claiming to work for Microsoft. Since this individual had a “thick Indian accent” Dad probably figures, “sounds plausible.” Microsoft is apparently calling to fix his computer, which isn’t broken, but he always sees the Windows Update and clicks to put it off for later. Well, today is the day. He’ll probably never ever need to update it again.

    The scammer apparently tells him to visit a website, walks him through the process, and then gains control of the machine (“he was moving the pointer thing”). Lo and behold the scammer discovers “malware” or “whatever the fuck you call it,” and puts Dad in touch with another “engineer” who says they can fix it for $200. My dad says “fuck you!” and hangs up on them, but the computer will not boot up as usual. He calls the police and files a report. He calls me, but I naturally do not answer. He calls again, I go over, but I have no idea where to begin. After all, I am my father’s son (and likely retarded).


    July 18, 2017 at 12:29 am

    • I’ve got a BS in Electrical Engineering and I’m a CPA. My know-it-all 80 y/o father will intentionally dismiss and ignore me and seek out and swallow hook-line-and-sinker the grandiose promises and advice of adolescent store clerks and complete strangers. He’s going to get screwed.

      Smartest Woman on the Internet

      July 18, 2017 at 11:10 am

      • My dad is dumber than your dad. He owns TWO time-shares. In the same city! And that city is in Mexico! And he lives in Southern California!! (He flies to get there.)


        July 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      • You don’t refer to your father as dumb.


        July 18, 2017 at 5:33 pm

  24. I don’t know about about the age thing, but what i do know is that book series should not go more than 3 or 4 books. The same is true of television series. Wrap it up so we can move on to something else. No story needs that length of time to be told.

    The last few Game of Thrones books were miserably boring. Breaking Bad should have ended a season earlier than it did. Walking Dead has been a zombie for several seasons. I could go on.

    Anonymous Funk

    July 18, 2017 at 12:54 am

  25. 1. Trump’s approval has dropped in Rasmussen down to 43. Usually it is around 45.

    Trump’s approval can be deceiving for a few reasons: 1. Trump doesn’t need to be popular overall, only popular in comparison to Democrats and the media, which he is. 2. Trump will certainly become more popular when he has a Democratic foil to be against in 2020. 3. Trump’s low approval numbers are clearly a result of people disapproving of Trump’s boorish buffoonery, not the actual job he is doing. All polls that specifically ask about Trump’s performance on the economy are 5 or more points higher than his approval ratings. This would translate into Trump having a 50% or so approval rating in Rasmussen, and I suspect Trump will ultimately win re-election in 2020 with 50.5% of the vote.

    2. The economy seems to be going through a bit of a “Trump boom” at the moment. Not sure how much credit can properly be given to Trump but I think that some should. The President doesn’t have that much of an effect on economy but they can have some and I think that Trump’s de-reg and generally business friendly admin has given the economy a shot in the arm, at least in the short term.

    3. Healthcare looks dead and thank G-d for that. Healthcare is the only good issue the Democrats have. Russia is getting them nothing and Trump derangement isn’t enough either. They must have decided that immigration hurts them because they aren’t talking about that. Healthcare though not only fires up their base but the Republican bill was so unpopular with the general public that it could have potentially hurt the Republicans in 18 and even possibly 2020.

    4. Rand Paul is talking about doing a more modest package of healthcare reforms that all 52 Republican Senators can get behind. That sounds like it would be good policy and also allow us to finally turn the page on the “Repeal Obamacare” nonsense that we’ve been dealing with for 8 years now. After that it’s on to the budget and tax reform.

    5. There has been a lot of gloating from the Left about how Trump has been unable to get anything done, but that is really misleading. It is true that Trump hasn’t accomplished anything legislatively, but the Republican senate majority is small and divided and up until now has been held up on the ultra divisive and tricky issue of healthcare. Once that issue is off the table it will be possible to move forward with other things. But most importantly, talking about Trump’s lack of legislative victories is besides the point when Trump has had massive non-legislative victories:
    1. Crack down on immigration causing a 70% reduction in entry of illegals, 50% reduction in refugee admissions, reduced H1B abuse and a proto Muslim ban. An unknown number of illegals are already self deporting.
    2. Prototypes of the Wall have started
    3. Appointment of Gorusch
    4. TPP killed
    5. Leaving the Paris Climate Accord

    6. The anti immigrant bills are DOA in the Senate, but that’s okay because they will be an excellent bludgeon against vulnerable Senate Dems in 2018 and possibly even in 2020 if we decide not to nuke the fillibuster.

    7. Not only do I think that the Dems will not take the House in 2018, I no longer believe they will make any net pick ups. In the Senate, I don’t believe we will lose any seats and we have 9 conceivable pickups. I will say that we will end up winning 3 of them. That will give us 55 seats and I suspect that Manchin will then flip to being a Republican as he will realize that the Senate will never again have a Dem majority in his lifetime.

    8. The Dems will not take 2018 as a defeat. On the contrary they will claim it to be a moral victory and just blame gerrymandering, turnout, voter suppression and a bad map on their epic fail. However, immediately after 2018 means that the 2020 Presidential election starts so the Dems will then drop Russia/collusion/obstruction/whatever as they realize that it isn’t getting them anywhere.

    9. The Dem nominee is probably Biden. I had figured that he wouldn’t run but now am convinced that he will. His name recognition and the fact that a lot of Dems stupidly think that he is the antidote to Trump means that he will sweep the white states of IA and NH which blacks will take as a sign that they must dutifully vote for him over Booker. Booker will be the VP because the Dems will hope that having a black guy on the ticket will be enough to goose black turnout.

    9. Now that we no longer have to worry about the Republicans self destructing on healthcare, 2020 mostly comes down the economy. I believe the economy will remain strong so I favor Trump over Biden and am calling a 50.5 to 48.5 popular vote victory and the addition of MN and NH to Trump’s electoral total while holding on to all his 2016 states.

    10. The 2020 election will be the most intense and divisive in US history, even more so than this last one. I suspect people will die.

    Otis the Sweaty

    July 18, 2017 at 1:41 am

    • Biden is too much like Trump to win the Democratic nomination. If you look at history, Dems usually go out of their way to pick a guy who contrasts sharply in lifestyle and demeanor from whoever the sitting Republican president is. Egghead Adlai against Ike, peace and dope McGovern vs. Nixon, southern gospel boy Jimmy Carter against northern keep-it-to-yourself Ford, uncharismatic Mondale against movie star Reagan, Bill Clinton against George Bush the Elder (enough said), Boston Brahmin Kerry against Texan rancher George W. Bush.

      In order to DESTROY TRUMP, Democrats are going to want somebody with intellectual pretensions, non-glitzy persona, trim and probably young by comparison. They’re going to want Trump repudiated in every way, and Biden would be like their own little compromise Trump. Not happening.

      If he’s elected Governor of California in 2018, I could easily see Gavin Newsom winning the nomination. If not him, somebody like him. The Biden types are dead men walking in the modern Democratic Party.


      July 18, 2017 at 11:52 am

      • 1. Rank and file Dems really seem to believe that Biden would beat Trump
        2. Since Trump has won the Presidency, the Dem base has become completely unhinged. The way you beat Trump is by not directly engaging with him, he wins when he gets you to roll around in the mud with him. But that doesn’t matter because the Dems have lost their mind and want somebody with the temperament to take it to Trump in a way that Hillary did not. The Dems should nominate Cory Booker, but he just doesn’t have the temperament that the Dem base wants. Biden in contrast will aggressively attack Trump and the Dem base will love that.
        3. Gavin Newsom will be just starting his Governorship by the time the primaries kick off so he probably isn’t going to run, especially considering that Brown will probably run. Besides Biden, really nobody amongst the Dems has any significant support so Biden will steamroll all if he runs and he clearly intends to.

        Basically, history doesn’t mean anything anymore. We are in a new era.

        Otis the Sweaty

        July 18, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      • Biden is too old to run.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        July 18, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    • Tax cuts will be fairly easy to pass because there is more parliamentary room for maneuver to structure tax cuts.

      Health care had a much narrower procedural route to passage and that too will be revisited if Trump pulls the exchange subsidies, which he should. Pulling the subsidies will bring about the collapse of the exchanges and force everyone to the table.

      For 2020 the Democrats face a real risk that Hillary could win the nomination again.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      July 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm

  26. I dunno, Lion, I though his post TEFL output was excellent. Friday, Cat Who Walks through Walls, Number of the Beast were fairly groundbreaking and entertaining


    July 18, 2017 at 4:18 am

  27. The vast majority of people decline intellectually as they get older, not even that much older, but not always for inevitable biological reasons. Think about some guy who goes to a good college, busts his cerebral ass to get into law or medical school, grinds his way through some torturous internship or associate’s position in a law firm, and then starts sailing clear after the age of thirty-five. Human anatomy does not change, although medicine does by small increments, just as legal precedents accumulate, drip by drip. These well-heeled professionals no longer have to learn much that is truly new, and even if they do work hard, most of that work is routine. In their personal lives, they take pleasure in golf, fancy cars, fine wines, discreet adultery and – for those with a sentimental attachment to their proletarian roots – ESPN, none of which require a fine-tuned intellect to appreciate. Meanwhile, their muscles shrivel and their bellies sag, and by the time they are in their fifties they are completely out of shape both mentally and physically. They are plugging along by rote, and by then they have been doing so for decades – but their appearance does not lie. Slack body, slack mind – remember that – you can always intuit a shrinking brain from one’s expanding girth. No wonder it all goes down the drain when they get older still and those pampered years of filet mignon and bourbon have started to erode their health. And that’s the professional class, for the most part. Those who don’t work at anything remotely intellectually challenging are inclined to use their minds even less. What dooms the intellects of most people – and unquestionably most Americans – is an ingrained contempt for learning for its own sake, as opposed to learning just enough to make a buck.

    Jimmy Kangaroo

    July 18, 2017 at 11:13 am

    • YEAH,Yeah, yeah, Americans are anti-intellectual. I’ve been saying all along. It’s really the English way, as Pink Floyd would sing…

      And money glutton, America and the Anglosphere now attracts 3rd world immigrants, and most of them are non-white.


      July 18, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      • Money, get away.
        Get a good job with more pay and you’re O.K.
        Money, it’s a gas.
        Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash…

        Smartest Woman on the Internet

        July 18, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      • Oui, oui, oui – but at least Americans use deodorant, froggy boy.

        Jimmy Kangaroo

        July 19, 2017 at 10:56 am

  28. Robert Caro’s last volume of his multi-volume ‘years of Lyndon Baynes Johnson’ came out in 2012; given that he is 81 now he must have been 76 or so when he wrote this, and he still has a final voluime to go. I have the same fears that he will not get the series finished, which would be a huge shame. They are the most incredible books because they offer so much insight into twentieth century American politics and society, whilst at the same time the sheer brilliant Machiavellian awfulness of Johnson’s character keeps you hooked on the story. I keep plugging them to people I meet (the non prole ones) in the hope that someone will read them because i want others to realise just how brilliant these books are!

    prolier than thou

    July 18, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    • My parents had in their library all six volumes of the Pulitzer-winning “Jefferson And His Time” by Dumas Malone. It’s the definitive work on the third President. The first came out in 1948 when Malone was 56, and the sixth in 1981 when Malone was 89. He died five years later.


      July 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

  29. Martin was never a world class writer. Nothing of his (although I have only a little of his earlier stuff) I have read comes close to the first 3 volumes of Song of Ice and fire. The 4th book is the worst and he was only in his mid-fifties. I think he overextended himself and is at a loss how to wrap up all the storylines, so already in book 4 he did the worst possible solution, namely playing for time and introducing ever more and sillier viewpoints and storylines, thus making his task harder. book 5 is a little better than 4 but continues with that fatuous strategy. The other problem is that every fart by GRRM will sell like hot cakes, so people at the publisher are afraid to edit and redact his texts. He would have needed the help of a strict editor already in book 4.
    But it is a pity because 1-3 are among the best fantasy novels I have encountered.

    Rex Stout might not be a world class writer either but he was obviously very intelligent and kept well into old age. He was 46 when the first Nero Wolfe novel appeared and while the last few are not as good, there are brilliant ones from the mid/late fifties when he was above 70 (born 1886). But then he did not have to juggle dozens of storylines for 1000s of pages but his books are usually around/below 200 pages.


    July 18, 2017 at 6:10 pm

  30. Lots of politicians stumble on in declining mental capacity ; i.e. Nancy Pelosi and John McCain.
    Henry Kissinger still contributes useful thoughts at age 94; an exception.

    We list the exceptions to the rule of dementia because they are exceptions.


    July 18, 2017 at 6:13 pm

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