A Few Things to Chew On, Part One

I have a ton of ideas in my head, but only a limited amount of time to get them all down in paper. This means that triage must occur, and some good stuff must be cut off.

But you might be able to pick out some gems from my thoughts, and work it to an interesting story for your group!


Here the Random Event, the Ma­niac, the Prophet, and the Genius have to be reckoned with. We have absolutely no way of escaping them. The future-predictors don’t suggest that we can avoid or escape them —or ever be able to predict or forecast them. What the future-predictors, the change-analysts, and the trend-tenders say in effect is that with the aid of institute resources, comput­ers, linear programming, etc. they will deal with the kinds of change that are not the consequence of the Random Event, the Genius, the Ma­niac, and the Prophet.

To which I only say: there really aren’t any; not any worth looking at, anyhow.

From The Year 2000 and All That, by Robert Nisbet

I will give Asimov credit: his future history made some allowance for such an outliner.


This week, I had my haircut. Hardly exciting, I realize, but not only is it refreshing to have huge clumps of dry hair hacked away and no longer be confused for Phil Spector, but it’s also a fun way to explore the town and test my Japanese skills. By fun, of course, I mean the kind of “fun” you have when you fall off a cliff in New Jersey and have to gimp walk the four-hour trail back to Manhattan. Even so, today, I wasn’t followed through the woods at dusk by four smiling men in hoods.

http://japansaga.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/may-backpost-lowered-ears/

Always something new in the 11,000 worlds…


 Alignment: Lawful-Angry

This kind of character is one of the fundamental building-blocks of the universe. Respect his authority!


 SPIEGEL: And for the last three years, Rich’s numbers have worked well. She’s now in the top one percent of the 3,000 forecasters, which means she has been classified as a superforecaster, someone who is extremely accurate when predicting stuff like: Will there be a significant attack on Israeli territory before May 10, 2014? In fact, Rich is so good that she’s been put on a special team with other superforecasters whose team predictions are reportedly 30 percent better than intelligence officers with access to actual classified information.

So I mean, like, do you go to obscure Internet sources or are you just using, like, Wikipedia to make your judgments?

RICH: Usually I just do a Google search.

SPIEGEL: Your basic process is a Google search.

RICH: Yes.

SPIEGEL: Which at least for me raises this question: How is it possible that a group of average citizens doing Google searches in their suburban kitchens can outpredict members of the United States intelligence service with access to classified information? How can that be?

So You Think You’re Smarter Than A CIA Agent

All ordinary Imperials (and many deviant ones!) would call the Ministry of Justice, and accuse the woman of psionic use. In Gavin’s Imperium of the Solomani Rim War, she would be quietly taken away and lobotomized or executed. In Strephon’s Imperium of the Classic Traveller era, she would be quietly taken away and put to work in a secret Imperial facility – in comfort yes, but unlikely to see her friends or family ever again.

But this article isn’t science fiction: it’s science fact.

Therefore, this assertion is true: for major world events, the Web can be used to predict the future, within a certain margin of error.

I wonder which group will be the first to put this fact to profitable use?

(Points to the stock market.)


 A real life treasure hunt – that has cost the lives of six men so far – that might inspire your own in-universe search…


When Muslims have critiqued other Muslims, it has often been to chastise them for not killing enough infidels. When the 8th-century Arab general Muhammad bin-Qasim defeated his opponents on the Indian subcontinent with craftiness, his superior, Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef, demanded that Qasim commit more massacres. In his next action, Qasim was sure to massacre thousands.

There are many examples in Islamic history of relatively tolerant Muslims being replaced by more draconian ones. In Medieval Spain, the more orthodox Almoravid Dynasty replaced previous more tolerant rulers, and, in turn, it was replaced by the Almohads, an even more fundamentalist Islamic dynasty. In Medieval Baghdad, the more liberal Mu’tazilis, who emphasized reason and argued that the Koran was created, were denounced and defeated by more strict Muslims. In modern Iran the more conservative Ayatollahs replaced the Shah. Today the more extreme ISIS is eclipsing Al-Qaeda, whom they assessed as too moderate. The hope that time will temper Islam lacks supportive evidence.

I wonder what an additional 3,500 years of endless war would lead to. In the Empty Quarter, the answer is: poverty and defeat.

I suspect that this will be the answer in the real world, too.


http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2014/07/511_160680.html – “Do you wanna be white?”

Amusingly, this isn’t an Indian ad, but Korean.  I have little doubt that “skin lightening creams” will be as much a hot seller among the local Arab & East Indian Solomani women as they are right now on Earth.

Much to the amusement of the racially-uncaring (but culture- and conformity-obsessed), tan-skinned Vilani women…


Someday, one day, someone will design a properly pagan Third Imperium. Not the soft-soap polytheistic-paganism that I assume, but Ancient Greek & Roman paganism. Gary North (who I love to quote a lot) simply loathes it, and has a hostile-but-accurate outline here and here.

In today’s culture, you can probably find some source that will favourably describe ancient Classical culture, complete with sexual and enslaving practices.

(But once again, if you want to get both hardcore pagan, and hardcore sci-fi, I point to Drakon. Now, that’s what I call Imperial Nobility!)

For a contrast, see Karl Popper’s book, The Open Society and Its Enemies. A “Professor Popper” with the serial numbers filed off could make a great enemy of the Imperium. It’s said that the pen is mightier than the sword: the PCs can get a ringside seat to see if it’s true or not.

(Hint: Mere intellectual firepower isn’t good enough: you need organizational ability and a certain level of charisma to really get the ball rolling.)


Another Adventure Seed: a PC starts setting up a 3D house printing company on a low-tech world, providing tons of cheap housing for the masses…

…and angering the masses of workers the PCs have put out of work.

  • Can the PCs defy the mobs?
  • How about when the mobs pressure the local government to shut down the PC’s?
  • And what about the tons of poor people, who are waiting for their cheap housing?

Some Russian Wisdom:

  • “There is nothing easier than to give up smoking. I’ve done it a thousand times!”
  • “Optimists study English, pessimists study Chinese, and realists study Kalash (Kalashnikov)”
  • “We are responsible for what we have tamed.”
  • “People quickly adjust to good times, and slowly adjust to bad times.”

PCs don’t like responsibility… but if they are in a fairly realistic universe, they won’t be able to escape it.

The second proverb is easily tested: give the PCs a windfall, let them enjoy it for a few months, then take it away.

See what happens.


“There are two kinds of people in this world: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.”


Three types of men live well in bureaucracies:

  1. bureaucratic politicians, infighters, and boot-lickers;
  2. time-servers, at once fearful of breaking the rules and delighted in enforcing the rules on others;
  3. go-along-to-get-along, ‘no is the safe answer to those lower than you, and yes to those above you’ types.

I have always placed the Vilani at the top level, and the Bwap in the middle. I don’t have anyone for the third slot, though… Probably because I see bureaucracies with a hostile eye, looking for conflict (and story potential).

For extra fun, see Communist Bureaucracy vs. Keynesian Bureaucracy”. They key difference is that Communist bureaucrats can arrest and disappear you, while the standard Western bureaucracy can’t.

The Vilani Bureaux – a kind of corporate bureaucracy, with law-making and law-enforcing power (up to and including warfare) is a somewhat different animal than the above. One good thing: as very bureaucratic organizations, they don’t have the arbitrary killing power the Communists have. They take the rules seriously, by and large.


There are two groups of wanderers – the very poor and the very rich. Mongoose Traveller has some good ideals for them, with the Dilettante and Scoundrel books.


 

About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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