Colonization Titan: “Starport A, Population 15”

Remember all those “Starport A, TL 13, Population 15” worlds of Classic Traveller planetary generation?

Where did they all come from?

Now, we know!

  • Lots of delicious resources
  • Basically uninhabitable… and no need to live there.
  • Massive, world-girding mines, factories, and resource extraction resources and a planetary transport/communication ring… and all of it 100% automated.
  • “Under Imperial Law, AI minds don’t count as a population.
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The Seminal Tragedy – In Real Life

“This was a good lesson, maybe we’ll learn it some day.”

Not in Traveller’s universe.

Fortunately, the Rebellion War (1116-1130) is fiction. I certainly hope that we will do better with the kind of technology and wealth humanity (however defined at that time) will have.

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Otto von Bismark

Because every Traveller needs a model for a hard-core Imperial warlord…

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Superior Leadership

In Traveller, there is a need for leadership, for the players trying to reach a difficult objective in game, and (in the real world) for both the team leader of the play group and the Referee guiding them to a fun and dramatic adventure with a satisfying resolution.

(And of course, in the background of the universe there is a need for good leadership as well, from the the aristocracies and corporations, to the starship crews and the Mom & Pop businesses.)

Great leadership is hard to model, but you can at least get a feel on how it would look like with two Six Sigma stories, provided by Dr. Mike J Harry: Story 1, Story 2.

From Story 1:

A wagon train needed someone who was a master horseman, trail tracker and navigator. He had to be logistically minded and tactically astute. He had to possess extreme emotional fortitude, and have a superior ability to read, deal with and motivate people. Among other traits, the trail boss was highly adaptive, flexible and capable of improvising plans on the fly. He simply had to be such a person, because the lives and destiny of many people were dependent upon his performance as a leader.

Placed side by side against a trail-boss type leader, we can make a list of traits for those we would call managers. These are people who are goal-oriented, politically astute, budget-minded, empathetic and always diplomatic. They don’t bark out orders and say “follow me or die.” They hold down the fort once it has been conquered. They maintain the trail after it has been forged. They create policies and procedures, and they ensure compliance to them. They don’t carry informal forms of power too well, and they value the peace that comes with predictability. They aren’t risk-takers, and they shy away from those who might actually rock the boat in favor of those who just talk about it. The question is this. Who would you want to shepherd your business wagon train through uncharted territory – a manager or a leader?

From Story 2:

That’s what happens to all great Six Sigma Champions. That’s what happens to those who master the magic, move the mirrors, distribute the smoke and guide the path of a corporation. They are communicators. They make the unbelievable become believable and rational. They are con men, master mechanics, part psychologists and big-time politicians. They know when to throw a spear and when to hand out an olive branch. They know which battles to pick first, and which ones to avoid altogether, and they learn to move mountains.

Always, the focus of a leader is on winning the war, not necessarily all of the battles. A leader is strategically minded, tactically adept and tool sensitive. The best leaders understand the connection between strategies, tactics and tools, and they know they can’t create their interaction alone. So they surround themselves with people who are as strong or stronger than they are. In this manner, a senior Champion builds a house, not from deadwood washed up on the corporate beach, but from the strongest trees in the forest. They admire risk-takers and loath moss-backed generals.

If this is the case, and it is, then a CEO better start at the top by selecting the strongest possible executive to fill the role of senior Champion. He better find himself a fast-tracker – one of the birds that doesn’t fly with the flock – a bird of a different feather. When he finds this person, he should say: “Here you go, you have a shot at the golden corporate ring. If you succeed you will have it. But if you fail, you will be ostracized and doomed to the prison of career stagnation.”

As always, the best of the best either change the world, or burn out trying.

It’s safer to just stay a middle manager: it’s easier on the stomach and a smoother route to a nice pension.

But frankly, if Travellers wanted to do that, they would have stayed on the homeworld, hmm?

(Thanks to North’s article on Six Sigma Leadership.)

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Warships for Pop

From Quora’s What Are Some Interesting Random Facts?

Antti Vanhanen, Transformative Coach

In 1989, Pepsi had the world’s 7th largest submarine fleet. It received 17 submarines from the Soviet Union in exchange for its products.

Here’s how that amazing deal came to be:

  • In 1972, Pepsi became the first capitalist consumer product to be produced, marketed and sold in the Soviet Union.
  • The problem, as in most deals with the Soviets, was how to get the money out. The solution was a barter deal where PepsiCo would trade its cola syrup in exchange for Stolichnaya vodka.
  • In 1989, PepsiCo and the Soviet Union made a new $3 billion deal. This time the vodka bottles were not enough to pay for the soda and the Soviets used what they had plenty of at that time – military equipment.
  • Altogether PepsiCo received 17 submarines, a cruiser, a frigate and a destroyer. PepsiCo resold them for scrap.

This deal resulted in the legendary quip by PepsiCo CEO Donald M. Kendall to President Bush Sr:

”We’re disarming the Soviet Union faster than you are.”


No doubt, some PCs can arrange to buy those military vessels for a price higher than their scrap value. What happens next is what makes the Traveller’s life so interesting….

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Pianolift, and Physically Weaker Merchants

Physically weak merchants – human women, sure, but also Bwap traders, Droyne crews- really can handle the heavy, bulky, and unwieldy cargoes of the free trader merchant trade all on their lonesome.

The issue then shifts to mechanical/technical competence, but intelligence coupled with fine motor control can deal with this handily.

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The Mirror Universe

From What America Taught the Nazis

Just eight days after the Reich Citizenship Law, the Law on the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, and the Reich Flag Law were formally proclaimed by Adolf Hitler, 45 Nazi lawyers sailed for New York under the auspices of the Association of National Socialist German Jurists. The trip was a reward for the lawyers, who had codified the Reich’s race-based legal philosophy. The announced purpose of the visit was to gain “special insight into the workings of American legal and economic life through study and lectures,” and the leader of the group was Ludwig Fischer. As the governor of the Warsaw District half a decade later, he would preside over the brutal order of the ghetto.

Every day brings fresh reminders that liberal and illiberal democracy can entwine uncomfortably, a timely context for James Q. Whitman’s Hitler’s American Model, which examines how the Third Reich found sustenance for its race-based initiatives in American law. Upon docking, the Germans attended a reception organized by the New York City Bar Association. Everyone in the room would have known about the recent events in Nuremberg, yet the quest by leading Nazi jurists to learn from America’s legal and economic systems was warmly welcomed.

Whitman, a professor at Yale Law School, wanted to know how the United States, a country grounded in such liberal principles as individual rights and the rule of law, could have produced legal ideas and practices “that seemed intriguing and attractive to Nazis.” In exploring this apparent incongruity, his short book raises important questions about law, about political decisions that affect the scope of civic membership, and about the malleability of Enlightenment values.

In this context, my eyes tend to look over America’s move West and the liquidation of the Indians, and the Germany’s move East and the attempted liquidation of the Slavs.

“Be careful about your models:
if you get it wrong, the price can be far steeper than you think.”

In more than a few ways, the Third Imperium and the Solomani Confederation are funhouse mirrors of each other, and reasonably so, as not only are both dominated by humans, but they were actually one government, with Pure-blooded Solomani Nobles ruling the Imperium for half of her existence and Terra herself voting to join the Imperium.

(Note that racially mixed, non-Solomani humans, and non-humans in general were not hunted into extinction during this time of Solomani Imperial dominance: indeed, they were given full citizenship rights, and their lives during the pre-Civil War, Solomani-run Imperium was a good deal better than their lives in the current (993 or 1105) Solomani Confederation.

Moreover, the Third Imperium came about only because the Vilani – especially the Pure Vilani government of Vland Sector – agreed to back it… just as the Second Imperium eventually fell due to a Vilani cultural rejection of that Solomani-run state.

There are some interesting things, going on in the background of the history of the Third Imperium, that’s worth bringing out into the light…)


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