Light writing. Galantier’s whiteboard. Too big for Twitter, too trivial for everywhere.

‪Really: I want to hate #GoT for being way the fuck off book. ‬

‪AND YET? I’m okay with it.‬

‪Maybe because I bounced SO HARD off ASoIaF so many times. I tried to get past chapter 3 of AGoT for years. (Mine’s a 3rd printing paperback copy, so... 96/97?)‬

‪I fucking HATED Viserys.‬

‪Like throwing the book hated. I didn’t finally manage it until... I’m gonna bet late 2014, when HBONow became an option. The 4 hour investment was worth it, and also by then, I knew he was going to die.‬

‪GoT gave me enough of a roadmap (and some fixfic) that I could power through the parts I hated.‬ ‪This is probably a good thing, over all, because having written (and actually finished) an epic fantasy cycle, I think I might have gotten discouraged if I hadn’t bounced.‬

‪(I needed 18 years to write mine.) ‬

‪This stuff is hard, and it’s really easy to write yourself into a corner. It gets even easier to write into a corner when you’re overdue, and your editor is mostly concerned with sending it to press with minimal typos because YOU’RE OVERDUE.‬

‪Your editor has to eat, too, after all, and publishing houses run on tight budgets, because the other imprints insist on giving outsized advances to politicians & pundits who write books that are relevant for oh, 1 election cycle, while the midlist keeps the lights on.‬

‪(Who, me? Skeptical of how romance, fantasy & SF are treated? Tired of hearing old white dudes, who have spent their lives writing nothing more complex than their masturbation fodder, pretend they know how to write genre? Gee, whatever gave you that impression?) ‬

‪(I truly do hate the Iron Islands contracture and the Dorne slaughter. Those stories are incredibly badly served and they deserve a strong reading. Also, to be retconned someday.) ‬

‪I want to hate Sansa in Winterfell with TortureMcTorture, and I can think of half a dozen ways to do it better, but OTOH, I now want the Queens of the North: Yara/Asha, Lyanna & Sansa. A generation of the three of them... breaks patriarchy in the north.‬

‪Because that’s what keeps me coming back: this is a world. Visually & narratively. It helps that it’s populated by people who didn’t make CHARISMA their dump stat, and they all do seem to genuinely care about what they’re doing. But it’s the worldbuilding that brings me back.‬

‪Separate art forms. It’s like cover versions: Trent Reznor gave Johnny Cash moral rights to Hurt, because JC’s version is that good. Jimi Hendrix’s Watchtower beats Dylan’s. (Actually, I’d say EVERY Dylan cover beats Dylan, but I hate his voice, so YMMV.)‬

‪There’s an audio side to this, too. Roy Dotrice was a fine reader, but was not good at women’s voices, and whoever directed him chose to use querulous crone voices for young women. It sounds misogynist, like he was making fun of the female characters.‬

‪Now, with a new reader needed for Winds of Winter, would be a good time to invest a lot of money in at least a 2 reader (male & female voices) or Focal Character read, for the whole series. (Or get really fancy & go full cast.) ‬

‪Marshall McCluhan was making a point: The medium at very minimum strongly affects the message, and often makes the message. (And also the medium, in the sense of culture medium, like you use to grow bacteria in the lab. GoT resonates when we’re enduring King Joffrey the Septuagenarian.)‬

‪I know, from the literature crit side, why I should absolutely despise this end stage soap opera. I know there are problems. And I know some of them are getting wound up in too-neat packages. ‬ ‪And I’m not being handwavey. I’m still okay with alterations to the story form to fit the medium. ‬

Lemon Cake, not a recipe, because I don’t do those, and this is not baking 101. I assume you have an idea what you’re doing.

You’re gonna need at least 3 lemons, something like buttermilk (I suggest substitutes), powdered sugar, butter, a baking pan of your choice, knife skills. Plus whatever is needed for your cake base.

Start with a white or yellow cake (unbaked) of your choice. It can be a box mix, or a recipe. I have used all of these as a base (and Betty Crocker Butter Cake box mix, too).

One egg cake: Almond flour pound cake: (GF, can be low carb) Lemon-poppy seed cake

You also need 3 lemons (at least.) You want the peel, as well as the fruit. Wash those babies well. First up: slice one whole lemon as thinly as you can. Dump the slices into a small saucepan with 1 cup water and ½ cup sugar. Set it to boil, give it 1 minute at a boil, then turn off the burner & remove the pan from heat. These are the pretty lemon slices for decoration. (You can skip this.)

Take a vegetable peeler and get the yellow zest off the remaining two, with as little pith as possible. Once you’ve got the zest, cut them in half & juice them, removing seeds. If you have a yucky dishwasher or garbage disposal, put the remainder of the lemons either down the hole or impale on the tines in the upper & lower racks. (You’ll throw them away after this.)

Chop that zest as fine as you can.

Now, we mix up the cake, using either box directions or the recipe, and using melted butter instead of oil, and substituting 2/3 buttermilk for water and 1/3 lemon juice. (If you don’t want to have a quart of buttermilk for one recipe, you can mix 1/3 sour cream & 2/3 water. If you don’t do dairy milk, soy yogurt works here, at same ratio, plus 1 extra tablespoon of lemon juice.) Add the zest to the batter.

At the bottom of whatever greased pan you’re using (Bundt, cupcake tin, 9” springform, 9x13 casserole, loaf) lay those sugared lemon slices out so they’re pretty. Then pour in the batter, and bake pre instructions.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you’re making this sugar bomb worse. You should still have some lemon juice left, probably around ¼ cup. If not, add bottled lemon juice or juice another lemon. Take a stick of butter (½ cup) & melt it in the microwave (or stovetop, if you’re old school). When it’s liquid, add the lemon juice and stir, then add 1 cup of powdered sugar. Which will dissolve into a pretty glazey syrupy stuff. If you have leftover zest, add it, but don’t feel bad if you don’t.

Now, time has magically fast forwarded and the cake is done. While it’s hot, turn it out onto something that’s got edges (tray, sheet pan), so the pretty lemon slices are up. Before it cools a lot, poke it full of holes with a skewer or toothpick, and pour the lemon-butter glaze over it. Pour slow, so it has time to absorb and doesn’t run all over the kitchen, because slippery & sticky are a terrible combination to have to mop up.

Now DON’T TOUCH IT UNTIL IT’S COOL. Not even a nibble.

Rien’s Rebellion Master List o’ Links

Here be spoilers in the synopses. Stop if you want to be completely unspoiled. Go here, to the series page, and buy them all.

Book I Rien’s Rebellion: Kingdom

Once upon a time, a nation’s fate depended on an informant, a lawyer, and a warrior. They all lived under a good Monarch’s leadership. Until he was assassinated.

Galantier’s politics can be vicious, corrupt, and unfair, but not deadly. They’ve got a war they can’t win and dare not lose on their border. Everything depends on a practical, cooperative government, including a smooth succession. Vohan made that easy. For 25 years, he’s been a steady, reasonable monarch and leader. He raised his daughter, Cazerien, to serve Galanteran justice. His nephew, Laarens, leads in the Galanteran army. He did everything in his considerable power to ensure they would follow him. Now Vohan is dead, and Galanteran politics have turned bloody. Nothing will ever be the same. Cazerien believes in the law — not just as her profession, but as a faith and the wisdom that allows her people to thrive. She knows Galantier’s game, and she plays it well. Laarens believes in Cazerien and the arts of war. Their adversary doesn’t follow their rules. And someone knows what their adversary must keep secret. A nation struggles to be born from the ashes of the kingdom Vohan left.

Book II Rien’s Rebellion: Repudiation & Refuge

Razin Vohan’s death should have put his daughter, Cazerien, on the throne of Galantier. He spent her entire life preparing her for the day she would become Razia. Some on the Prava had other plans. Instead of approving the succession, they chose her half-cousin, Savrin sator Lethis, a priest of the god of death. Galantier is fracturing under the weight of old enmities and rivalries. The world Rien’s father built for her is crumbling.

Book III Rien’s Rebellion: The Committed Ones

Laarens is alone in the world. Rien is dead, Savrin has become fully Mathes’ puppet. Laarens may be the only remaining Ascendar, but he knows his life is cheap and getting cheaper. At least, that’s what Rien needs Laarens to believe. She’s gambling both their lives on the lie that the two bodies found in her burnt office were Avah’s and her own. Avah is dead, but Rien has barely escaped with her life. Nine years before, at Rien’s Elevation, Quin Tiwendar swore his life to Rien’s service, then vanished. Now, reluctantly reunited with his liege, Quin and his partners offer Rien temporary shelter. But if Galantier is to survive, everyone must understand the commitments they have made to one another and the land of their birth.

Book IV Rien’s Rebellion: Wisdom’s Fire

The House of Galene shall fall, and with it, the legacy of Galantier. The late Razin’s daughter was declared illegitimate and then died. His elder nephew has been sordidly, brutally murdered in the border zone. Only the unreliable, weak, celibate Razin Savrin remains. Not for much longer if Laarens and Rien have anything to say about the matter. Rien continues to gather her army in the far north, while Laarens brings his own skills and talents, and an entire people, the Comitae, to resist the end of their world. But the idea of war and the practice of it are as different as the idea of justice and the practice of law. Mending a broken state starts with mending broken lives.

Book V Rien’s Rebellion: Redemption & Revolution

However badly Savrin governs Galantier, he is the last of Galene’s line and Galantier’s Prava lacks the will to challenge him. As the kingdom loses its direction and purpose, Rien and Laarens build the army to restore the legacy and administer the promise their ancestors made to Galantier’s refugee founders and a new generation of asylum-seekers. Rien barely survived the fire at Watable, but with Comitae assistance, she and Laarens have come to understand some of the damage done to them in childhood was not merely abuse, but intentional malice. Quin must reconcile his own history with his father’s decisions, and Bran must rebuild his sense of self to encompass his awakening Ingeniae. As they gather their army of outcasts and exiles, can they build the tools to preserve Galantier, though war will tear them apart?

Book VI Rien’s Rebellion: Foundation

Rien’s Rebels gather as Savrin’s Galantier begins to fray. Without Prenceps Mathes and Teregenitor Tiwendar, Savrin seems adrift, and Rien will take advantage of that. Galantier faces a battle for its future: If Savrin defeats Rien, the Dissolution comes and Galantier as it has been for a thousand years will cease. If Rien claims victory, Galantier will be reborn. No matter who wins, nothing will ever be the same.

Time is short.


A short THREAD on counterfeiting in the 1830s & 1840s. A cul de sac off last night’s case study.

Also an object lesson on the problems with private currencies.

In 1815, 200 private banks & corps were authorized to print notes. 400+ by 1840. Plus foreign currency. BIG MESS.

Once upon a time, a guy who lived in upstate New York processed the zeitgeist of his time through his brain. He tinker-toyed it into a religion, and convinced a bunch of other people he was right.

That’s a WAY condensed foundation narrative of the LDS.

The guy started moving his followers west, in the years before the Civil War. Events often got weird, dangerous, or deadly.

One of the reasons for that was... counterfeiting. See? The US allowed banks to print their own banknotes.

Worst Idea Ever.

Some of these notes were awesome, but if you’ve got a talented engraver and a printing press?

The temptation to run off forgeries got really high.

I’m not saying all printers in the Mississippi watershed were printing notes from 50+ miles away... but it happened. A LOT.

The unspoken deal was you only printed the money of the rivals.

If you broke your enemy’s bank with bad paper, well fuck those guys.

Massive interstate problems in the 1830s & 1840s. This is the era of Bleeding Kansas & Free vs Slave states.

The Mississippi watershed was ground zero.

Enter: Mormons, who didn’t quite play by the deal. After being massacred &driven out of Missouri, they kinda considered everyone not them an enemy. They tolerated counterfeiters if the notes went outward. They were NOT behaving significantly differently from anyone else, but they’d also collected diverse professions within their community, so they were actually close to self-sufficiency in terms of material goods.

They weren’t spending much money at all in neighboring communities.

And passed bad notes, just like everyone else.

This tends to make neighbors hostile.

Your neighbors may gossip about you if you’re having outside sexy-times without telling your wife.

If you’re a good neighbor, you’ll probably get away with it.

But cheating on your wife AND your neighbors?

Moral: 1 dick move at a time.

(Also, Joseph Smith was far more egalitarian & abolitionist than Mormondom became. Brigham Young was the racist shitbag who cheered on the Confederacy. If Smith lived, Mormondom would have probably been no more racist than most sects who emerged from 19th C. New England. ...Black and mixed race people were baptized into the Church and allowed into the priesthood while Joseph Smith lived. This didn’t go over well in southern Illinois & Missouri.

End of this digression.)

All of this HOA drama & bad money & repeated abuse of law came to a bloody conclusion in 1844.

Joseph was 1) mayor of Nauvoo 2) head of the Nauvoo Legion (militia), which was about 2500 troops. (Note: US Army at same time was 8500.) 3) leading his church 4) running for Prez

Someone (definitely dissenters) wrote a newspaper that exposed Mormon polygamy and also exaltation (which reads like polytheism for many people.)

This was secret stuff, even from a lot of Mormons. Embarrassing.

Joseph ordered the destruction of that printing press.

Today? The equivalent would be trying to turn off the internet in a town. The right to print was taken incredibly seriously. People rioted. So... Joseph, who had an army, declared martial law in his city.

Bad decisions, those. But power corrupts.

Those decisions led to Joseph Smith’s arrest, then to his murder by a mob. Mormons see this as a martyrdom. And yes, he didn’t deserve to die without trial.

Historians say it’s a lot more complex than just martyrdom.

But Mormondom wouldn’t exist without that event.

After that? Mormondom underwent its first schism. Most decided to follow Brigham Young into the far reaches of North America, past what the United States claimed at the time. They considered the US to have betrayed them multiple times, and were leaving. Some stayed & rebuilt an egalitarian, just church around the mythos of the Book of Mormon, but without polygamy & coercive control (& counterfeiting.)

I just condensed about 2 years of vitriol into 2 tweets.

But yes, money, counterfeiting & printing are in Mormondom’s DNA. ~End

Citations: Stephen Mihm, A Nation of Counterfeiters.

And this online exhibit: Capitalism by Gaslight: The Shadow Economies of 19th Century America, curated by Wendy Woloson

A case study in a vertically integrated #MoneyLaundry

The Kingstons, the polygamists that Big Love toned down to make them believeable for TV. Also featuring Turkish and Russian costars.

Terminology note: when I refer to the established Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I use “LDS Church”. When I refer to members of that church, I use “LDS”. When I refer to the shared mythology group that includes LDS LDS before 1890, fundamentalist FLDS, & other polygamist groups, I’ll use “Mormon” or “Mormondom.” For each individual splinter group, I’ll use their name.

Mormon:LDS::Christian:Protestant (or Catholic, or Baptist, or Jehovah’s Witness) LDS and LDS Chruch try very hard to deny that they share holy texts & mythology, but they’re all related, from the same foundation.

And yes, Mormons are Christians. Christianity doesn’t require Trinitarianism, it doesn’t define texts (there are text conflicts between Protestants, Catholics & Orthodox), or define ritual behaviors. Get people wet in Jesus’ name? You’re Christian.


You’ve probably heard of the FLDS, the group that is currently being dismantled after their prophet, Warren Jeffs, was convicted of child rape. Also money laundering. Welfare fraud. Labor law fuckery. But financially? FLDS were small. Flashy, no substance.

The financial power of the polygamous splinter groups is the Kingston Group, also known as the Davis County Cooperative Society. They’re a multigenerational polygamous family who started in the 1930s with a dairy farm, a potato-wheat farm and a small coal mine.

It can be hard to explain to people who didn’t grow up in the Mormon Corridor (a rectangle roughly from Idaho to Arizona, Continental Divide to Donner Pass in the US, with groups in Alberta and in Mexico) how pervasive Mormondom’s culture is.

It’s not just like saying Evangelicals are an influence on Georgia. Yeah, they’re AN influence. But they’re a lot of separate influences who move in the same direction. They’re more or less independent at the congregational level. They often disagree and switch congregations.

It’s the difference between being a queen in Westeros, and being THE Queen of Westeros.

Obedience and cheerful acquiescence are primary virtues for Mormondom, and while they discarded most Calvinism, they instill a strong work ethic, paired with a deep commitment to the survival of the community. They fall in line, more often than not.

Examples: In LDS practice, you’re assigned to a ward (local congregation) by your address. You attend that ward, even if you’d rather attend the ward you grew up in. No exceptions if you work night shifts and the ward near your job is a better fit. Your individual will shouldn’t matter.

Not even if you were assaulted by an elder or bullied by the head of the Relief Society (women’s group) or an older kid is abusing your younger one. (Exceptions can be granted by going WAY high up, but hard to get.) This is normal within the established LDS Church.

There are no professional clergy in any of Mormondom. Mormon Studies exist as a major at BYU, it’s far more historical than theological or ministerial, and it’s a not a route to the ministry or leadership. The leadership is all male. All functions are volunteer in the sense of “you have been volunteered”.

Refusing to take up a responsibility when the leadership says God told them you’re going to do it... is almost not done. And it means the next job you’re told to do will be worse. Pay 10% of your income or you don’t get access to rituals.

Everyone is both encouraged to pray for direct guidance from God, and receive prophecy, but the only prophecy comes through the established Prophet, who heads the Church. If you get a prophecy that contradicts the Prophet? Well, you’re wrong, or you start a schism. This is the established church.

The splinter groups turn these expectations of obedience to eleventy-twenty. But people don’t stick with ANYTHING if they’re not getting more out of it than they put in. That’s elementary human behavior, and emotional satisfaction is a strong motivator.

The specific emotional satisfactions common to Mormondom are built into Mormondom from infancy: a sense that they are a chosen, superior people; that only through their actions is salvation possible; that discontent or doubt is active defiance of God, and itself a sin. (Sure, a lot of Christendom uses a similar, unspoken formula, but it’s actively voiced in most of Mormondom.)

Oh, and they’re big on prosperity as a sign of God’s favor. Not exactly Prosperity Gospel, but preserving & growing capital within the community.

There’s always been a thread of internal communalism within Mormondom. Even before the mass migration in 1846-7, Mormons shared amongst themselves. For example: The Word of Wisdom, the doctrine that forbids tea, coffee, tobacco & booze.

You’ll rarely get a practicing LDS to admit this, because most don’t have much historical education, and they’ve been told all their lives that it was a voluntary rejection, not economic.

However, that doctrine was written in 1833, when the Mormons were trying to settle in Missouri. They didn’t have their own trade network established for material goods, and they didn’t have much money. Buying tea, coffee and tobacco deprived the community of cash, and gave money to hostile neighbors. The situation in Missouri was going bad; 20 Mormon men and boys were massacred 5 months later.

Also, Joseph Smith didn’t like tobacco smoke, and Emma Smith didn’t like cleaning spit off her floors. Which are both reasonable. However, skip ahead to the 1850s. Deseret built a distillery & brewery, because weak beer was safer than water, while whiskey had medicinal & surgical uses, plus trade value. And the discussion of that time frame makes it clear that even the Prophet, Brigham Young, found consumption to excess to be the problem, not having a beer.

You can apply this economic principle to a lot of Mormondom behavior. Early on in what’s now Utah, it was necessary. They had to be self-sufficient because there were no railroads yet and they were in the middle of nowhere.

There was some burning loathing, too.

Before the 1950s Red Scare, when Cleon Skousen grafted Birchers & Mormondom, the idea of collective action for better labor, better living conditions or to build a group service (like rural electric & telephone cooperatives) was normal in the US, and Mormondom. Thus, when the Kingstons established their cooperative, it was mostly family, but not exclusively. They were willing to bring in fellow travelers who were willing to work and share equally. It was the Depression. Cooperatives meant survival, especially for the excommunicated.

By 1950, and the transition from the founding prophet to the 2nd, the Kingstons had established their habits. They’d been excommunicated for 20 years, had built their own priesthood & their own prophecy, and mostly rejected the other two major polygamist groups.

They’d also started expanding their business portfolio, but like most businesses in the 1950s, they were primarily cash oriented. Which they exploited for tax avoidance. Because... there’s a thread of anarcho-capitalism that runs through Mormondom. (Loathing part!)

It’s not just in the schisms, though they’re the reservoir. Collectively, Mormondom has never forgotten that the state of Missouri let them be murdered en masse, then used the militia against them in 1838, & Illinois failed to protect Joseph Smith from the mob who murdered him in 1844.

(There’s another legacy of counterfeiting, which was common the Mississippi watershed during Bleeding Kansas era. Communities did use their printing presses to fuck over their nieghbors, and yes, the early Mormons were doing it too, but that’s on the 1840s, not the Mormons.)

Mormondom remembers that the Federal government, as Martin Van Buren, would not protect the early Mormons’ rights to property and security. Those who went to what became Salt Lake City in 1847 intended to leave the United States forever. They did, in fact, leave.

They couldn’t know that the Mexican-American War would end in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which transferred a big whack of the American West to the United States.

But mostly? The US left the Deseret (Utah) Mormons alone until after the Civil War. The time and distance gave them space to evolve. They spend most of the 1850s having something that’s generously called a Reformation (and looks more like an Inquisition). They established their hierarchies, instituted white supremacy, and considered themselves a mostly separate Theocratic state.

The United States could not leave them alone on polygamy. In the 1830s, most states had laws against bigamy on the books, but the federal code did not, until 1862, when the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act outlawed it in federal territories, including Utah. Mormondom took it personally, as an attempt at genocide.

You can see the LDS reaction in the settlement patterns of the Mormon Corridor. There’s a good chance any Corridor town founded 1862-1880 was Mormon polygamist diaspora. That chance goes up the whiter the town is now, compared to the demographics of the rest of the state.

They were trying to claim territory where they wouldn’t be bothered, could make a living, could practice what they believed necessary for salvation. The more the Feds tried to outlaw it, the more defensive Mormondom became, even as fewer practiced polygamy. Further laws passed by Congress (Edmunds Act, 1882; Edmunds-Tucker, in 1890) were intended to eradicate polygamy, but instead turned it into civil disobedience & resistance.

Then came the 1890 Woodruff Manifesto. This document causes almost all Mormondom schisms.

The Manifesto banned the practice of polygamy in the established LDS church. Most members of the time mostly approved it. Most were not practicing polygamists. But it also looked like compromise to get Utah statehood, which was desperately needed.

For the previous 50 years, almost all major Mormon internal regulation came as prophecy, most of which are recorded in the Doctrine & Covenants (one of 3 sacred texts for Mormondom) or in Brigham Young’s preaching and writing. That’s how Mormondom was accustomed to seeing their self-regulation change.

The Manifesto was explicitly NOT a prophecy, but policy.

Polygamy went on the down low. People who were already in plural marriages maintained them with varying degrees of secrecy, but no future plural marriages were allowed.

Economically? 1890-1915 were incredibly bad years in the West. Silver panics, locusts, drought.

The LDS Church lost almost all of its property before the Manifesto – an early form of civil asset forfeiture. The intermountain West is HARD to farm. Water control alone has been a century of “oh shit” patching. Mining was always exploitative, and LDS did not treat non-LDS miners as equals. There were many strikes, and often riots.

But... by the 1920s, a little relative prosperity gave financial breathing room for a resurgence of polygamy, and the relative social approval of some forms of socialism & communal action allowed the first generation of post-Manifesto schisms to flourish.

Charles Kingston was never a practicing polygamist, but he came to believe in the principle of it. It got him excommunicated in 1929. At first, his wife Vesta thought he was cheating on her, but he convinced her, and their children. Their firstborn, Elden, was then 20 years old when his father was excommunicated. He was always in fragile health, and he was about to marry himself.

Elden became the Kingstons’ first prophet. He was a good organizer, and had a high degree of both emotional intelligence and general empathy, so what established had the the potential to be a kind, generally benign, rather welcoming splinter group that practiced group communalism, maybe even eventually group marriage. He died in 1948, with 5 wives, having established the early aspects of the cult: that all material wealth was held in common in the Cooperative Society; that clothes & food & shelter were identical and not worldly and shared equally. He was definitely a product of his time, of the Depression and World War II’s rationing.

One further Mormondom cultural quirk: Mormondom generally considers the US Constitution & Bill of Rights as nearly holy documents, inspired by God. But the further amendments? Not so much. The Will of the People doesn’t apply to taxation & universal suffrage.

Now, back to the 1950s. We’ve got a mostly cash economy which enabled a large degree of tax evasion, the early Red Scare, Cleon Skousen and the Birchers of Doom, and the disastrous 1953 Short Creek raid, which tried (and failed) to enforce anti-bigamy laws.

Up on the north side of Salt Lake City, the Davis County Cooperative Society was well into the third generation, and this is where it gets hinky. Their 2nd prophet decided they had a special bloodline that needed to be cultivated, and started using his cattle breeding techniques on his own family. Also brainwashing. What’s better than a crime family? A crime family incest cult.

1930s-60s Kingston men and boys wore self-made coveralls without pockets, no shoes or hats. Women wore identical blue dresses without pockets. Religiously? Because nothing in this world was worth keeping. But behaviorally? It’s hard to walk away without shoes. No pockets? Makes it hard to squirrel away escape money.

Keeping marriages between cousins kept the capital in the family. They stopped bringing in outsiders. Nobody in the family got paid, so they couldn’t easily leave anyway. Without labor expenses, the businesses were and are nearly all profit, which they turn back into more wealth.

(This is that point about Mormondom’s behavioral controls: they’re always framed as religious and virtuous, but they’re always in the financial interest of the organization.)

Like much of Mormondom, the Kingstons, even at this time, were not interested in evidence-based medicine. To be fair, mid-century medicine didn’t have a lot to offer, other than antibiotics and some vaccinations, and could often be harsh and feel futile. Further, there’s a religious believe that there’s a plant for every condition, but avoiding doctors also works as community control: if you don’t take people to the hospital, nobody notices how many babies, or who is sick.

They did keep their children in public schools, but that was a fairly easy dodge back then. Mothers were almost exclusively active in their children’s school, and it’s easy enough to say their fathers were at work. The Kingstons now use the charter/private school Not For Profit foundation scam, which is a convenient adjunct to money laundering.

A commonality in crime families, regardless of location or culture, is a preference for cash businesses as the primary income. Cash used to be far easier to use for most transactions – even up to real estate. (The Kingstons also have mining claims, which could plausibly turn up gold.)

But the dodge couldn’t last forever. The IRS got smarter, so did the Department of Justice and the State of Utah. It eventually became impossible to buy any real estate for literal cash, and most vehicles. They had to start issuing W-2s and using SSNs.

Which meant the Kingstons needed some verticality. Just because they were technically paying salaries doesn’t mean anyone got money. They turned their paychecks over to the cooperative or church, got scrip they could spend at family businesses, the money stayed inside.

Following is a partial list of known Kingston Group businesses, sorted by primary function. Remember that they’ve had almost a century of keeping all of their capital in the family, and keeping everything in the family is not only good criminal sense, it’s a religious duty.

(Thanks to Amy K Osmond, who wrote her dissertation on the organizational structure of the Kingstons

This is TIGHT vertical integration of money laundering. The point is to under-report the cash income at level 1 so L1 businesses barely break even. What the L1s must buy comes from & through level 2 businesses (which puts that money into laundry). L2s also barely break even.

The excess cash from the L1s gets used for local petty cash expenses (food, clothing, fuel) or turned into cash resale items (everything from eBay clearance arbitrage to flea markets) or just stashed. This is where the church is useful: collection plate deposits.

L2s contract their services with each other and the L1 & L3s. This produces the churn that cleans the money to be used at L3. The point is to minimize the tax burden at all levels, and zero out as much profit as possible with accounting, while making the untaxed, cash income as available as possible.

There is loss in the system, but less than in most laundry operations. The risk, though, is that everything’s integrated. One thing breaks or gets busted? It can bring the whole system down.

Level 1 (L1) The high cash businesses where the laundry starts and where money comes in from the outside Vending machines Advance Vending Mountain Coin Machine Distribution Premier Vending Best Distributing Amusement Games A&E Amusement

Bail & Pawn Bail Bond Specialists Shoppers Pawn Shop Sportsmans Pawn Shop Sportsmans Bail Bond Specialists Sportsmans Fast Cash AAA Sportsmans Bail Bonds Information Recovery A+ Sportsman’s Bail Bonds

Gyms Fountain of Youth Health & Athletic Club Perpetual Youth Inc Retail East Side Market Family Stores Tru Value Shoppers Boot Corral Standard Restaurant Supply/International Gourmet Michael’s Shoe Repair & Men’s Stores The Car Store Sales & Leasing (also mid-level) Mountain Gold Entertainment Lake Elsinore Casino/Card House

Service providers (Level 2 / L2) The L1s contract with L2 service providers. On paper? It all looks like business as usual. For example: Make fictitious records of extra garbage runs. They look like real ones, but the money spent & received in those records is clean.

AAA Security A-1 Disposal Gabriel Construction Spiffy Ice Able Distributing CTC Trucking Associated Trucking Kingston Trucking Club 48 Managment American Federal Corp Kingston Produce (Pineapple, Potatoes & Onions) (also a 1 since they sell legit vegetables & 3, as real estate)

L3 Laundry (Finance, Investment, Real Estate) Takes funds from levels 1-2, invests in transferable property, lends at interest, buys & maintains property for rental income. These are the stores of wealth & the final cleaning. When you rent/sell a house bought with fraudulent funds, you get clean money back.

Arrow Real Estate Kearns Property CO Fidelity Funding/Fidelity Factoring (not THE Fidelity. This is a pawn shop/payday loan for business clients) El Cid Financial Kingston Investments Bear Mining Company COB/COP Coal Development CW Mining Company A-Fab Engineering Co-op Mining Company Hiawatha Coal HK Engineering

Not For Profits – can take cash from any level without reporting it; can spend at any level with minimal oversight. Latter Day Church of Christ Ensign Academy Little Red House Montessori

And AT LEAST 60 more businesses, LLCs and dbas that are far more opaque. Consulting, Enterprises, anonymous corps and LLCs. The Kingstons are known to control at LEAST $300 Million, but twice? Thrice? Easily possible. Some estimates say $10B.

Yes, they own a casino, too. It’s a small one, and that’s one of their better geniuses: they’re not ostentatious. Casual and semi-pro poker players aren’t enthusiastic about their card rooms, but being rude to the casual rubes while maintaining a good invitation only back room is great camouflage.

This organizational infrastructure is interesting right now because when a crime family is doing laundry for itself, it’s also worth doing some other laundry. They have the infrastructure built, after all. If they can pull 25-40% off someone else’s money, that’s just more for them.

The Kingstons launder via loans. (Which is what got them in trouble this time.) They lend some of their money through the pawn shops or the Fidelity short term business loan shop. This is a double laundry, since it can clean their own money & other people’s.

This was a Manafort dodge, remember: he’d buy a property with illicit funds from an off-shore account, then get a mortgage on the property from a US bank so he had the cash.

Recall: money laundering always LOSES money; it’s the opposite of actual good business.

But it’s not possible to launder all the money, because then they’d just be legit. So they sometimes get stuck with $5M in gold sitting in a closet, which someone steals and someone else kills to get back... little problems like that. Yep, happened.

The Kingstons have been under scrutiny before. Usually for child abuse and neglect, and because of incestuous intermarriage/rape. But also for financial malfeasance, welfare fraud and tax evasion.

And hate:

The Kingstons, unlike the FLDS, abandoned their distinctive clothing a couple generations ago, and they blend in. Big Love (HBO series) used some known aspects of the Kingstons as their model. Though they had to tone it down, because fiction requires plausibility.

But like most of the polygamous groups, living well is for the Prophet and his favorites. Many women and children live in crowded, poorly maintained houses, scrounging for sufficient work and food and clothing. It prompts a few neglect complaints, but not enough.

Some boys are discarded, though the advantage of the Kingstons’ extremely diverse internal economy is they usually need labor, and they can keep dangling the hope of an aunt-cousin marriage while the boys are too naïve to call bullshit.

The boys who are cast off from the Kingstons are usually a lot closer to SLC, and thus jobs, than the FLDS boys, who got dropped in the high desert to hitchhike out on I-40 or I-15. If you have to be kicked out of your cult...

Let me be clear: this is multigenerational abuse. There is no consent possible because these children are raised without the idea that another way of life is possible. The best possible end is the one playing out now, where the Feds confiscate the wealth, leaving no reason to stay.

Three years ago, some Kingston businesses were raided. It looks like they may have been tipped off, because there were a lot of missing & blank hard drives. Former employees who would talk to the media (and the Feds) provided documents and context.

Last year, the first indictments from that raid came down: Isaiah and Jacob, sons of the current Prophet, John Daniel. They’re the CFO and CEO of Washakie Renewable Energy. (WRE). Which has looked like a Utah success story...

WRE claimed to produce 10 million gallons of biodiesel per month from waste oil. They absolutely did spend money on facilities, and a PR budget, and a lot of positive media. They made it all look really, really good.

Biodiesel is not quite fully profitable yet, but we need to grow the infrastructure, so there’s a federal $1/gal tax credit for biofuel producers. And we’ve got a couple cult members who believe Bleeding the Beast (aka tax fraud & evasion) is a religious duty.

There’s a good chance that WRE can’t produce anywhere near the capacity they claim. They may not be producing ANY B99 at all. But there were tax credits! The Kingstons bought biodiesel from others, claimed it as their own, filed for the credits.

$511 Million worth of tax credits. They’d loop those same gallons through shells 5-6 times, claiming the credit every time. It’s an amazing scam. The Kingstons claim they’re totally innocent. This is a conspiracy against them. Mom & a wife are up on forgery charges, too.

They will moan and whine about how they were honest, just trying to make a better fuel, and didn’t mean harm! And oh, I have cancer but no actual diagnosis because I don’t go to doctors. You gotta let me out Where I’m gonna run as fast as I can to Turkey, where I’ve stashed $950M.

That’s where this gets complicated. (Oh, just now??) The Kingstons launder via loans. Some of the tax credit scam money got loaned to a Russian/SoCal real estate investor & fuel company guy named Lev Aslan Dermen (AKA Levon Termendzhyan. I’ll call him Lev.)

Jacob & Lev have been in bed as SBK Holdings USA since 2013 when they established it. SBK Holdings is associated with SBK Holding in Turkey, which is run by Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, and it’s mostly Russian energy sector money. Awkward, what with sanctions and all. (credit to Louise Neufeld in this medium thread: )

(The Turkish SBK Holding is not apparently associated with the UAE SBK Holdings, which is primarily the personal property of the Sultan bin Kafayiah, though it too appears to have significant shenanigans... and theft... to their credit. And also Real Estate.)

Korkmaz is besties and biz-besties with Ekim Alptekin... who hired Michael Flynn to be the lobbyist for Turkey. It’s true: the energy sector is a small town, but a small town that includes a tightly integrated vertical money laundering operation run by polygamist cultists?

Somehow I don’t think this was coincidence at all. Because the money laundry had mob ties in the 80s, when they were providing coin op machines to the mob. These ties stick and get passed down. The Kingstons were reliable with their criminal & political partners. Noting here that the Rocky Mountain News produced excellent jouralism, but their archives only exist as reprints. The article is a reprint from RMN.

The Kingstons with checkbooks (which is only the upper 1%) all maxed out their political donations to the Utah GOP & Utah GOP candidates for years. Yes, Mitt always took a big donation. So did Mia Love. And Hatch. And Chaffetz. But a large single donation usually means there was more money going to SuperPACs and other dark money instruments. That’s the Post-Citizens United World.

Also, likely the governors, Attorney Generals, and local officials. Those donations are harder to find and trace because Utah’s campaign finance system is less than sufficiently transparent, but this stuff is pretty obvious. Kingstons have been allowed to get away with this, because campaign cash is an easy way to get regulators to look elsewhere.

In 2017, Lev’s former partner & legal counsel for SBK Holdings USA said that LEV had been indicted for money laundering & tax evasion & stolen petroleum. /shocked face... but it gets even more interesting, because Lev’s got another legal case on his ass.

Last summer, an ICE agent was convicted of one count of human trafficking, specifically of smuggling a Mexican national into the United States. The person he smuggled turned state’s evidence against the ICE agent, who turned on the guy bribing him to smuggle people.

The Confidential Source was a petroleum industry worker who had blown his green card due to felony convictions. Somehow I doubt this was the first time the ICE agent bent rules. Because...

See, SBK/Noil Energy (both are Lev) sponsored this lovely event for Hispanic Cops. This is the politest possible form of bribery.

(WRE and the Kingstons do it, too — they’ve been all over Salt Lake City cultural & charity events for the past 5 years. Until this little arrest problem...)

And also, there are planes. Specifically, a low cost Turkish regional airline, Borajet. Which is apparently where at least some of the $950M that the Kingstons are supposed to have in Turkey went. And also more than a couple private jets.

And that matters, because about 7 years ago, before the Iran deal, there was a sudden and dramatic increase in the amount of gold going into Dubai from Turkey. Reuters noticed it. There was even a Gold Bank, backed by the UAE sultan (the OTHER SBK). Which failed.

The minority shareholders noticed an irregularity, then suddenly the majority holders were unavailable, and the gold (and the investments) all went... somewhere. (But the majority shareholders were the Sheikh? Shh.)

But there was still a lot of gold moving from Turkey to Dubai... And then where? Iran is a good possibility. But it’s the Middle East, and in 2012-2015? It could be anyone in the region, including Russia and Ukraine.

Remember the Kingstons’ known businesses? They mostly mine coal, but they have gold claims. (The Wasatch Range aren’t really gold/silver mountains, but there’s some.) And they have pawnshops. And retail gold establishments.

That anarcho-capitalist strain in Mormondom means that there are a lot of gold-bugs in the intermountain west. They’re not big on jewelry, because excessive jewelery immodest for women and Mormon men limit themselves to a wedding ring and a tie clip. They don’t much go for coins, either, because governments issue those. But ingots? Gold-bugs like LEGO bricks of gold.

But there is a lot of gold in the area, and it comes into pawn shops. The Kingstons have sufficient cash on hand to go buy from other pawn brokers. The retail end of any money laundry requires B2B cash exchanges.

It’s not something they mention often in PawnStarsWars reality shows, but pawn shops have cash flow issues, too. They don’t tend to borrow from local competitors, but it’s completely reasonable for someone in Denver to network with people in Santa Fe and Salt Lake City.

This is just... basic business. Close enough to be allies, far enough away that they’re not in competition. If everyone knows that there’s the one guy in SLC who will always buy gold (though at a discount), that knowledge will get used. When Santa Fe has an excess of second thought engagement rings, SLC will buy.

SLC doesn’t have labor costs, so breaking down jewelry into stones and metals is also No Big Deal. The Kingstons have just enough metals mining production – at least production they claim on paper – to justify a small smelter. They can crank out ingots as long as they can recycle, and there’s so much jewelry.

Then it’s just a matter of getting the gold and the stones out of the country. Minor logistics, actually, once you’ve got the connections and cover. Sell the junk stones on eBay. Put the good stuff in a bag, in a big Suburban full of kids. Take the kids to the beach, hand off the bag. It’s on a private jet leaving Orange County by sunset.

Because the one laundry service the Kingstons can provide that almost no other crime family has? They’re ostentatiously white Americans.

Their wives and daughters are usually petite blondes who don’t look out of place going shopping in Las Vegas or LA, racking up tens of thousands at Prada, Hermès, or Louboutin. Even if they’re paying in cash. Shopping is also a form of Laundry, since there’s the secondary market, and that shopping gets luxury goods into places where sanctions forbid it. White women can get away with things that would make a clerk call the cops on someone brown.

Kingston men look like respectable Mormon men. They wear polos and dockers, and sometimes a nice, but by no means excessive suit. They’re sober, they don’t even swear. Hell, they don’t even speed, even when driving a Bugatti.

It’s their camouflage. It’s how they’ve gotten away with not paying taxes for decades, and with abusing their children, and incest, and not paying their own family.

It’s why nobody questioned that a single biodiesel site was outperforming everyone else in the country.

At least, not often enough. This time? The upper part of the family is likely going to federal prison for a long time. They’ve lost most of their Congressional protection: Love is gone, Chaffetz is gone, Hatch is gone. Mitt doesn’t need them – he’s got his own scams.

I doubt Jacob & Isaiah & Sally & Rachel will trust the second string members of the family with the account codes and passphrases, at least not while they think they can play innocent. After conviction? Well... There’s gonna be a lot of civil asset forfeiture.

And just as Gold Bank suddenly lost the deposits of its minority shareholders, I think there’s a good chance that anyone in Turkey or UAE or Cyprus will have no idea about Kingston family money.

Never heard of it. Oh, weren’t they on a reality show? Who? No idea.

While Warren Jeffs went to prison for rape & sexual assault, what’s keeping him there, and many of the other upper FLDS, are the financial crimes – stealing from the school district, child labor, real estate fraud.

That will break the Kingstons, too. /end

Deleted post. As planned.

A Potential Oddity

I have a thing for old sewing machines. I like straight stitch Singer 66s and 99s. I like ones that can be put in a treadle base.

Came across one today. The cabinet is excellent, but it’s mid-century modern. It’s an electrified version. But...

That serial is strange.

It’s in good shape. If I can figure out that serial weirdness...

In Defense of Constructed Language in Fiction

Deoxyribonucleic Acid. Voice Over Internet Protocol Digital Subscriber Line Insulin Hemoglobin Telephone

Those six concepts all entered into the English language to describe new concepts as they were needed. That’s what English does, and what all languages do, because the human experience that we share develops new ideas all the time, and better ways to describe them.

(I SWEAR there’s a DAMN good reason Galantier has a deeply constructed internal language. I just can’t tell you why. You’ll figure it out. It’s worth the work.)

Any sort of speculative fiction will have some constructed language, because if it doesn’t, it might as well be AU coffee shop fanfic of the modern world (which I’m not knocking). World building means setting up new concepts, new modes of communication, new ideas.

If a reader can’t cope with a con-lang, that’s on the reader. REALLY. Because if that reader has problems gathering enough context to cope with a con-lang, they’re also going to have context issues with classic fiction, period lit and almost anything that’s not specifically brand new and targeted right at them. That’s a reading comprehension issue or an attention issue.

A disqus post from four years ago on racism & policing. While it doesn’t strictly apply to immigrants (It was written during Ferguson), there are more black people than immigrants in the US. And the actual statistical murder rate is equally low.


Want to divide the number of people killed by cops by the total cop population and compare it to the number of people killed by black people divided by the black population?

Sure, let's play math and compare actual stats versus gut. Stats are useful things.

(All citations are from the FBI Unified Crime Report)

As of 2008, the last year there was complete data, there were about 120,000 full time police officers in the United States.

The FBI does not keep adequate stats on killings in the line of duty, but the number, per academic and investigative sources, is probably about 1,000 people per year killed by police officers.

Using that number, Victims divided by full time cops is 0.00833... But let's say the academics have their hair on fire, because so often we do, and they're over-estimating by 100%. There are only 500 officer-caused fatalities per year.

That's 0.0041666... Or even more conservatively, only 1 per million residents of the US per year — a literal one in a million incident. That's 335 per year and a ratio of 0.00279167.

As of the 2011, there were approximately 43.8 million people who identify as Black/African American. (US Census, 2010)

Per the FBI's 2011 Unified Crime Report, 5,486 murders were committed by known black perpetrators. citation Perpetrators divided by full population: 0.00012525

That's more than an order of magnitude difference even at the very lowest reasonable estimate.

(Given that there were over 100 officer caused shooting fatalities in the US between Aug 9 and September 15ish, when I stopped watching that specific Twitter feed because I could not take it anymore... My bet is on the academics.)

For the police to have the same ratio as the general black community, they would have to kill no more than 15.03 people per year as a whole.

Southern California alone had blown by that number by May. (equation: 0.00012525 = x / 120,000. It's pre-algebra to solve for x, but for the 5th graders in the audience, one multiplies both sides by 120,000.)

Yes, cops are more dangerous per capita than the general black population. Significantly more dangerous. By a factor of at least 20 and up to 70. Seriously, do your homework. This is stats 101 and elementary Googling.

There's nobody to compare our police with except our general population. We are murderous compared to the rest of the post-industrial world. We're about average with the post-conflict states but that assumes both our stats and theirs are honest, a questionable assumption. Our post-industrial peers have from ¼ to 1/100 the number of police injury rates (both officers injured in the line and officers doing the injuring).

The best comparison in terms of statistical similarity (age, income, gender) is either the military or estimates of gang activity. Cops come off worse than the military (using only direct confrontation rates because thank FSM cops don't have air support — about 0.0008 to 0.001 enemy fatalities in a war year to the 600K service members) and comparable to best estimates on gangs.

(Huge ballpark numbers here because very few gangs let sociologists follow them around, but FBI estimates 1.4 million US gang members — street, prison, biker, white supremacist — and estimates they are responsible for 48% of crime. If they're responsible for 48% of the murders in 2011, then 14,548 * .48 = 6983/1.4M = 0.004987. Using FBI numbers on gangs is problematic since conflict of interest, but they're all we've got.)

For more than 20 years, crime rates have been falling and law enforcement violence has increased. Those stats shouldn't go together, and they don't everywhere else. We have a structural problem that we are not addressing.

There is no actual justification for the violent, enforcer mentality in our police forces. It doesn't work, it costs much more, produces far worse outcomes and death spirals into more expense and worse outcomes.

Historically, from the origins with Robert Peel in 1830s London and the Parisian gendarmes (beginning formally in the 17th century), modern policing started and has survived everywhere except the US as peace officers.

London's example is particularly instructive. They were unarmed, as continues to this day for most, and for the first twenty-five or so years, were required to wear their uniforms even when off-duty. That latter requirement was to prevent the sort of corruption prevalent in their predecessors, the Bow Street Runners. The people of London would not trust a police force they could not monitor 24/7. The rest of the post-industrial world does exceedingly well in terms of low crime and a functional society without having to resort to state-sanctioned, poorly trained and disciplined paramilitaries.

The rest of the post-industrial world has addressed the majority of the social issues that lead to our crime rates — poverty abatement primarily, via housing, health care, nutritional, educational and income support.

They also more strictly control weapons through gun education and licensure requirements. It's not that they don't have drugs, organized crime, and criminality — they just address it from a different perspective and do so without killing 1-3 millionths of their population every year.

Canada's 2014 was an anno horribilis — 12 officer caused fatalities. They normally run 1-6. Even at that high rate, if Canada was 335 million people instead of 35, their rate would be ¼ to 1/10th the US rate.

Their solution is synergistic — their cops are far better trained (RCMP is 2 years over the first 5, with the first 6 months being residential training in Saskatchewan; most US police academies are not residential and only 6 weeks to 3 months, with very little follow up);

have significantly higher weapons discipline and training, and any weapon discharge incident is heavily investigated and threatens continued employment.

All shooting incidents are investigated by a federal panel, not by the locals, and they have a strong wall between their peace officer/law enforcement structure and their prosecutorial judicial structure, so that the cops and the State's attorney are not on the same team.

Training, accountability, oversight, clear separation of responsibilities — that's good policing. (And significantly less crime.)

Comparing US stats to the rest of the world is like comparing seawater to Infinity Stones. No commonality, they don't even share molecules. I'm using Canada as the primary comparison because it's the best natural peer, but you can pick any post-industrial country in the top ten percent of GDP per capita and the numbers look mostly like Canada, not the US.

It's not drugs or poverty or lead paint chips or malnutrition or lack of health care. They're all minor factors, but the big one is that 150 years ago, we failed to compensate more than a million people for two centuries of stolen labor and expected them to function with nothing.

We then spent the next hundred years preventing them from acquiring and preserving generational wealth and depriving them of full citizenship and access. That's five generations of raw deal on top of eight generations of actual evil.

I can S&R on your language and pop Roma or Dalit into your language about young black men, and your content doesn't change. You are blaming the inheritors of centuries of systemic economic and social violence for reacting to injustice.

We have the tools and the knowledge to not sacrifice 400-1000 people a year for devotion to a deeply sunk cost. We're choosing not to use those tools. You're choosing FYIGM when fact contradicts your gut.

Whatever bubble in which you exist, the evidence on the outside says it's polluted.

#TailorSnarkWars Battle 1: Donnie & Vladdie Wear The Clothes (Original thread: July 16 2018 Twitter)

Okay, I’m doing this. Donnie & Vladdie wear the clothes. And starting with a history lesson. @SamuraiKnitter requested.

I’ll try tomorrow. I do read suits, but Dampnuts is too easy. His gay tailor has been making him the butt of a joke for 15 years, and Two Scoops is too dumb to get it. I swear he stiffed a tailor’s bill once, and now they’re ALL out to get him.

To understand Russian tailoring, you have to understand the 300 year relationship of Russia, London & Paris. Always delicate, but Russia has always consumed and modified western culture for their own use rather than supplying it to London & Paris. Especially under Lenin/Stalin.

  1. (I’m specifically talking tailoring – menswear – here. Which is just as expressive, but with a limited palette, and for the past 200 years, has been defined by exquisite labor & material, not ornament. This is also true for women’s bespoke clothing for Russia, but more so.)

4.They’ve also borrowed from their east; there’s still much Mongol influence in menswear/cold weather wear that’s not western drag – shoulder button, double breasted coats & jackets; ankle length coats; the furry barrel hats. Steppe winters are horror movie cold. So is Moscow.

  1. Under the Tsars, everything the fashionable 500 wore originated in Paris or Savile Row but often locally produced by talented copyists. That continued under the Soviets for the party, except a lot of talent died because tailors who worked for Tsars became enemies of state.

  2. In the 50s & 60s, there was a branch of intelligence called Kremlinology that examined publicity photos for information about what Moscow really did. They looked at cuts of suit & made assumptions that narrow lapels & skinny trousers were due to economic deprivation...

  3. But no, Moscow seemed to like the Teddy Boy look coming out of London. Moscow fashion can be as capricious as the rest of the world’s, and it has tastemakers. It’s liminal, since it’s the intersection of West & East & it’s a remix culture. So all assumptions carry caveats.

  4. That said: Putin is almost always v well clothed. Too well, per U rules in both UK and US Old Money. His suits always fit perfectly, and are always impeccable, and show so little wear that they’re fairly obviously newly made for the occasion. That’s what scratches the record.

  5. A man’s suit that looks new shouts “New Money! Arriviste! Nouveau Riche!” (For a costuming example: look at Mad Men, first couple seasons – Roger Sterling vs Don Draper. Roger has had those suits for years. Or Prince Charles’ suits vs Tony Blair’s.)

  6. Putin’s tailors are very good – he’s a small man and we all forget that because his clothes give him extra broad shoulders, a long neck and a long torso. Note how rarely we see his back or the backs of his legs. (Or his legs at all, come to think of it.)

  7. But that’s also both Russian and New Money tailor signaling; the latter unintentional. Russian pride or Vlad’s ego – which are deeply intertwined – doesn’t permit him to be a small man. He must be biggest, baddest bear in the forest. Thus, his shoulders are heavily padded. See?

  8. (Note that 🍊💩’s shoulders are also padded, though much worse quality. It’s mostly the same thought process, except shoulder pads are also used to mask a prominent or protruding tummy & to balance out short arms. Difference: you can SEE DJT’s pads in outline. Can’t see Vlad’s.)

  9. The long neck is also an illusion thanks to serious talent. In Vlad’s infamous shirt off on the horse photo, his neck is nothing to write home about. It’s about 3 fingers width from collarbone to chin or to jaw. Average. But in suit? Halfway to ostrich.

  10. You do that by cutting the suit collar to lay very flat over the upper chest/collarbones, and scooping out the back, standing collar by millimeters, so there’s just a titch more shirt collar showing without looking like anything is over or undersized. Serious props to tailors.

  11. And yes, Vlad gets a bit of credit here: he knows how to wear & move in his clothes. That takes study, time and practice. (Yes, I am calling him vain as a phlebotomist‘ s nightmare.)

  12. But remember how little we see of his legs. How often we see him sitting, or when standing, using the camera angle to seem as tall as the person beside him. Vlad is Angela Merkel’s height – 5’5”. DJT claims 6’3”, is really about 5’11”. Now look at today’s presser pics.

  13. (Part of the reason the Obama-Putin stare down pic is so revealing is because it caught Vlad’s side angle, so it’s clear Obama towers over him. And that Obama is not intimidated. Also... Hillary Clinton is slightly taller than Vlad, and not easily intimidated. Hmmm...)

  14. But in today’s press pics, Vlad and 45 are on the same level. I’m gonna guess slouching, boxes, cushions and angles. It’s basic stage-craft. The MCU does it all the time for Robert Downey Jr because he’s tiny and Chris Evans isn’t.

  15. As for DJT: his suits are custom, but his tailors intend him to look like he slept in an off the rack suit that everyone else left on the rack. I assume he wears worsted wool, but it looks & drapes like poly-rayon. His sleeves are too long and baggy from elbow to wrist, but...

  16. ...His biceps are too tight because fat upper arms. His shoulders don’t fit. If he were wearing off the rack, it’s because he’s buying to cover his gut. But he’s wearing custom, so it’s tailors making fun of him. (For sewists, he needs an Full Tummy Adjustment.)

  17. Shoulder pads ameliorate it a little, but not enough. Fat men can wear clothes, they just have to trust their tailor. Since 45 has never trusted anyone but Vlad, well.... Not gonna happen. And no, I’m not fat-shaming or size shaming. I’m saying DJT chooses to be badly dressed.

  18. (I say this as a woman who requires a 5 inch Full Bust Adjustment. Not 5 divided by 2 halves, but 5 inch on each side. Patterns are made for B cups; I’m an FF. There is no shame in needing custom clothing, and tailoring can handle any body shape and size. That’s the JOB.)

  19. Donald refuses to admit he needs good custom clothing & his vanity can’t admit he’s no longer a man in his 30s. He hasn’t updated his internal profile picture in decades. He sees his Art of the Deal photo when he looks in today’s mirror. (Which is unsettling in cognitive sci...)

  20. Dampnuts is still wearing what was fashionable in the late 80s, when he was flying high. Back then, baggy suits, wide shoulders, long ties, and a rumpled look were fashionable. But those do look best on slim men with torsos shaped like a Dorito, not torsos shaped BY Doritos.

  21. And nobody around him can say (and be heard), “daddy, you don’t look right. Let’s fix this.” Either they don’t care or can’t get through.

Which ties to my other wheelhouse- behavioral psych: client wardrobe is highly revealing, and attitude towards clothing matters.


PS! That thing I said about stage-craft? Look at this from the last 24 hours. Chris Wallace is 5’10”. Note that Vlad’s seat is lower to the floor, the chair is upstage from Chris, the angle is canted a bit to mask the difference, and they’ve got the chyron. (Also Vlad’s heels.)