Sci-Fi Military Art: LoomingColumn

For Traveller-inspiring thoughts. My own favourites:

Searic Raiders – actually part of the ShipBreakers game (high-tech desert tribes), the image itself is useful for all sorts of sci-fi light recon circumstances.

(No, not my Empty Quarter: I don’t like Emptyheads enough to give them something like this. Now, if I had based the sector off of Oman instead of Saudi Arabia, things would be different…)

238-B OPAZA – a nice breakdown of a low-level utility bot. Nice for surveyors, scouts, and recon forces.

Commision: Ocelotl MK. IV Sneaking Suit – A good stealth suit, hiding the user from visible light. Canon Traveller lets combat suits hide from IR sensors at TL 12; I’d push hiding from visible light a TL higher, around TL 13 say.

NOTE: Real life tech advances are a good deal faster than Traveller assumes… except for FTL transport. Sigh….

Blessed Be – The yassat Vargr are roughly as religious as the Solomani, all in all, with different emphasis. Less Law and Righteousness, more Powerful Emotions and Spectacular Miracles.

Vengza Palace Gaurd – The yassat Vargr do have a sense of style!

Modern Tarot- 5 HEIROPHANT – He’s make a good Imperial Catholic prelate.

TRAVELERS- Unregistered Miscount Detected – A small military force, mainly non-human. I can see the Imperium occasionally “loaning out” a few human soldiers to serve with non-human Imperials in the field, to get a feel on how the non-humans work and operate. Maybe pick up some useful doctrine and tactics too, but tied to different senses, kinetics, etc.

TRAVELERS – looks mean. “Avoid melee battles with Tarim soldiers, as you will lose.”

Surveyor – high-tech halberd-welding soldiers. For a setting quite comfortable with slug & fusion weaponry, Traveller always seems to have a place for axes and spears in the field. Interesting.

We’re The Kids – standard Traveller, with better art.

I still see the fascination with woman soldiers as delusional in actual combat operations, excluding to-the-death extermination campaigns (and, of course, ho-hum personal and home protection… but that’s more anti-crime than military ops.) Even so, the Vilani and Vilani-based cultures are quite comfortable with women personnel: after all, after bearing their four children, female Vilani are as disposable as males in society’s view, and still have many useful decades of good health ahead of them.

Bless The Evening Fields – high-tech soldiers among friendly farmers. A peaceful pause in the action.

KITEZH Character Studies I – A variety of battle and field suits.

KABAN – K85 – a nice baseline military chassis (wheeled), with a variety of fittings for different missions.

Commission: Komal – an extra set of arms can be useful.

Commission: Huscarl – axes and medium machine-guns. A.k.a., “Traveller military.”

Commision: Ashanti – an interesting specialized Solomani unit.

Strange Place – just for fun. A TL 3/4 wooden door, set on a wall ten feet three meters from the ground, leading to… where?

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

On the Shores of Sulthaggir. (Now with Travellermap Searches for a Canon Match!)

Shores of Sulthaggir by Dain-Siegfried

From the notes:

  1. Nulhorpin is a frosty spit which explorers thought had nothing on it; then they found a shrine on top of a mountain and a star map.
  2. Not very well mapped: these coasts aren’t final. But the bloody cartographers keep disappearing.
  3. Archaeological digs have been finding more and more ruins, weapons, even skeletons and some ill preserved bodies. The most terrifying thing about it is that the more preserved bodies all seemed to have died in the same way: asphyxiation.
  4. The Bay of Nari, Dolesnen colonial thinkers have deliberated setting up a new colony there.
  5. Sulthaggir Minor, which houses the first living people that either Qabrit or Dolesny have stumbled upon.
  6. More steppe and grasslands, a few Qabriti farming communities have started up around here.
  7. Oceanographers have noted some odd resonances coming from here, but tend not to pay too much attention. Which may very well be a mistake.

Quite a interesting setup for a series of single-world Traveller adventures!

Some questions for Referees to answer, before stepping in:

  • Local tech levels for the Kingdoms of Dolesny and Qabrit? Coupling their large populations (54 and 58 million, respectively) and the poor level of planetary settlement & mapping, I would tag it at TL 3, early industrial (Victorian) era.
    • Make it 5.4 and 5.8 million, and it could be even TL 8 or 9.
    • Chop it some more, to 540,000 and 580,000, and you can couple average/high stellar tech and limited planetary knowledge. The only difficulty is allowing orbital mapping and bad coastal charts (point 5): the easiest resolution is to shift the problem to bad on-the-spot local data, “as the bloody scouts keep disappearing.” (Par for the course, but still.)
  • Are we in the Long Night, with little/no interstellar traffic? Early dawn, with Cleon I only recently taking the Iridium Throne and long-abandoned worlds getting back in line? The Classic Traveller era, with a deliberate choice of the locals to isolate themselves from the interstellar community? (Notice: no starports!) Maybe in the New Era, with the technological ruins of the Imperium all around them?
  • If there is a starport, which kingdom gets it? Or is it a neutral floating port, set in the waters or on grav supports?
  • Are pirates and raiders a factor? It seems that space piracy isn’t a factor, due to its absence in the description: that could be due to strong protection by a Noble House that the local kingdoms are tied to, or by the Imperial Navy if the world is in a heavily secured zone (Imperial Core, the Old Expanses, etc.), or with a planetary settlement far from Imperial borders and interstellar society.
    • Or there just isn’t any interstellar activity, good or ill, anywhere. Say, Virus did a better job in crashing technological society right across the galactic arm (you too, Hivers!). “Its been 3000 years since the fall of the Imperium, and we’ve only rediscovered electricity 30 years ago.”
  • The focus of the map is planetary exploration between two competing low-tech kingdoms. But the Referee might decide to switch things about, with the kingdoms trying to reach up rather than out (“Gotta raid plunder explore that long-abandoned Imperial Naval Station or dead mooncity/orbital port!). This gives me the opportunity to mention one of my favourite anime, the Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise

Note that there are no exact matches to the described world in the Imperium of 1105. If you do the search uwp:X??????-3 alleg:Im* (No starport, TL 3, Imperial system) at http://www.travellermap.com (syntax for searches here), you get:

Preserve Zarushagar 2329 X569865-3
Raiga Corridor 0516 X664532-3
Swaziland Daibei 3133 X8D58AA-3
Shelagyote Diaspora 1620 X5896B9-3
Meadsk Old Expanses 0628 X987556-3
Grant Spinward Marches 1607 X664100-3
Endimyon Deneb 0516 X555434-3
Kunggu Verge 2214 X553520-3
Ka Maz Gushemege 2807 X580466-3
Xiang Daibei 2426 X581114-3
Waxstetter Magyar 2605 X550210-3
Mogumba Diaspora 1821 X561410-3
Opheim Diaspora 2015 X787369-3
Tarpeian Old Expanses 0908 XA85421-3

Many worlds here have a population too low for the scenario (pop-8)… and none of them are balkanized (gov-7), so only one government is on the planet, not two independent kingdoms.

(Technically speaking, Balkanization means “No central ruling authority exists: rival governments compete for control.” [MegaTraveller definitions.] If you push the envelope, you can have various kingdoms, empires, republics, etc under an overarching authority

  • a bureaucracy (see: the United Nations Organization),
  • a ruling house or corporation
  • a non-charismatic leader (possibly an adventurer-conqueror from the stars!),
  • a religious autocracy (which I would alter to include ideologically-driven rule, not necessarily tied to a supernatural religion)

Rule from outside invaders is covered by “Captive Government/Colony. Government by a leadership answerable to an outside group, a colony or a conquered area.” This includes an armed force that recently conquered an area and rules it as its own domain. But if the conqueror lives on-world and is not answerable to ‘an outside group’ – and successfully turned over power to someone else before he died, then he’s just the local authority, instead of an outside conqueror.)

If you ditch the tech requirement, but insist on a population in the hundreds of millions and balkanization – search for uwp:X???87?-? alleg:Im* – you get a smaller set:

Shashgugim Antares 3131 X768874-2
Ewoin Delphi 0202 X66487A-2 Khugika Gushemege 2233 X553877-2 Raperch Antares 0623 X776878-5

Shashgugim is the best fit so far, with big oceans (hydro-8), breathable air (atmos-6) and a Middle Ages tech level (TL-2), as well as a good population and balkanization (for the two nations)

If you’re willing to accept a low-grade starport (Class E), you can get more worlds for sure. For a search of uwp:E???87?-? alleg:Im* you also find:

Leant Gushemege 3131 E763872-6 Nituu Massilia 2231 E100877-9 Roeggasdoor Antares 0235 E586872-6 Lome Deneb 1306 E42487B-8 Moseesi Gushemege 1810 E31087C-8 Islands Ilelish 2301 E659873-7 Phodonba Lishun 1207 E427875-7 Kinos Diaspora 1840 E55887A-6

And if you decide to fixate on “100 million people and a big size-8 ocean”, breathable air (5,6,8… and let’s stretch it to D, E, F too!) and forget about the starport – “It’s an Imperial port floating on the sea/on a small close to the two kingdoms” and the tech levels, you search for uwp:??[568DEF]?87?-? alleg:Im* and get 52 worlds:

Lamente Glimmerdrift Reaches 0635 B88A873-C Feri Spinward Marches 2005 B584879-B Tellus Nova Ilelish 2311 A784874-B Akiva Dagudashaag 0935 A98A879-D Reina Zarushagar 2525 A661877-C Kifri Zarushagar 3117 A565878-C Sentronna Lishun 2536 B563878-A Dax Massilia 0436 B565877-A Marach Massilia 0522 B58487A-A Aderveen Massilia 2905 B55487B-A Sarmaty Solomani Rim 0217 A889877-D Esperance Solomani Rim 1116 A568878-C
Lawart Old Expanses 1427 B78A879-C Balzac Deneb 1636 A552879-C Narkin Verge 2710 A555874-B Moy Gushemege 2735 A758878-B Talbot Ilelish 2117 B688875-9 Gookir Vland 2515 B9D787C-A Ursa Minor Zarushagar 2610 B555875-A Agdam Gii Core 3130 B557874-A Annari Massilia 0231 A9D4878-D Shaabipili Solomani Rim 1007 A553875-C Imarir Solomani Rim 1510 A550877-C Rajan Empty Quarter 2331 A562875-9 Kaanash Reaver’s Deep 2421 B55687A-7 Sweet Magyar 2901 C689879-9 Zugrora Lishun 1914 B8D7879-9 Ukeri Antares 1718 B785877-7 Isidro Fornast 1529 A553879-9 Valli Delphi 0528 B562876-6 Lobok Corridor 0218 C582876-8 Anomaly Dagudashaag 1633 C9E7877-9 Anshir Dagudashaag 2408 C565876-8 Splendor Daibei 1303 C9D4878-9 Pierson Daibei 1536 C565879-8 Grunwald Daibei 3235 C668873-8 Pyert Fornast 0812 CA6A877-7 Larmix Old Expanses 0209 C787878-5 Gravista Corridor 2405 C553879-4 Leant Gushemege 3131 E763872-6 Ushba Sind Core 2924 D564879-4 Roeggasdoor Antares 0235 E586872-6 Shashgugim Antares 3131 X768874-2 Ewoin Delphi 0202 X66487A-2 Pepsi Delphi 0935 D566877-2 Sauma Forain Ley 0915 D664875-6 Khugika Gushemege 2233 X553877-2 Islands Ilelish 2301 E659873-7 Kinos Diaspora 1840 E55887A-6 Doomster Ley (Judges Guild) 1626 (Apocryphal) C686874-7 Amblegreen Ley (Judges Guild) 1823 (Apocryphal) CA67873-8 Basin Ley (Judges Guild) 1940 (Apocryphal) B787873-7

Whoops! Butter fingers! I forgot to put in the hydro limiter “8”. So there are waterworlds here, and worlds with no ocean.

I won’t delete the list: I happen to like balkanized worlds. Lots of opportunity for local trouble, local fights, and local wars…

And detail hounds may like the size-8 (a.k.a. Earth gravity) planets in the list. Like many, I tend to ignore gravity effects in Traveller – ‘my brain is only so large’ – but long term, it matters!

But let’s try again with uwp:??[568DEF]887?-? alleg:Im*

Esperance Solomani Rim 1116 A568878-C Moy Gushemege 2735 A758878-B Talbot Ilelish 2117 B688875-9 Grunwald Daibei 3235 C668873-8 Shashgugim Antares 3131 X768874-2 Kinos Diaspora 1840 E55887A-6

There you are: a nice selection of canon worlds that can match the map, including our old friend Shashgugim. Note tha Esperance (the world and the subsector) is nicely detailed in GURPS Traveller Rim of Fire, pages 86-90.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

The Judge, The Emperor and the Christ

Justice, as Determined by The Right Sort

Today, approximately 30,000 Ojibways live in a sprawling region north of Lake Huron and Lake Superior. And thanks to a recent Ontario court decision, they could soon be in line for a massive and unprecedented financial gift from Canadian taxpayers. It’s a giveaway made possible by an imaginative rewriting of two nearly 170-year-old signed treaties, a legal system that appears to have fallen under the spell of native mysticism, a federal government that’s given up defending the taxpayers’ interests and a judge who thinks she can read the minds of long-dead historical figures and mistakenly believes the Ojibway have lived in Northwestern Ontario since time immemorial.

The Real Cost of Bad History by Robert MacBain and Peter Shawn Taylor

It is currently fashionable in the West to simply ignore/rewrite the law to meet PC & sentimental requirements. Earlier, it was more comfortable to ignore justice to meet insure the supremacy of a particular sect or race or leading segment of society: this is still true in much of the world. And in the West too: notice the kind of people who are actually making the rulings all seem to come from the same class, from the same universties, and share the same ideologies.

The authors quoted provide a picture of the judge in the case with the caption, “Captivated by Indigenous creationism: Justice Hennessy ignored historical evidence that the Ojibway were latecomers”:

Rather than sticking to the historical facts, Justice Hennessy extensively quoted an Ojibway elder’s account of his people’s cosmology and creation story, and then herself claimed: “As the last placed within creation, the Anishinaabe [Ojibways] could not act in ways that would violate those relationships that came before their placement on the land and that were already in existence across creation.” Setting aside her curious acceptance of Indigenous mythology as fact, we know that at the time of their “creation” the Anishinaabe could not have been placed in Northwestern Ontario. They originated on the Atlantic Coast and are essentially newcomers to the area, having arrived after European explorers. — Robert MacBain and Peter Shawn Taylor , “The Real Cost of Bad History” at C2C Journal

Post-truth science will not be, in principle, either positive or negative about creationism; everything depends on the role it plays in power struggles.

See also: Bret Weinstein, The Evergreen Prof Who Got SJW-D? It’s Partly The Fault Of Creationists! (Native American creationists)

and

Is there life Post-Truth?

Native American creationism viewed favorably in a recent court ruling in Canada, from Uncommon Descent

Government, law, and lawyers are closely intertwined in the West. To a very real extent, we are ruled by lawyers, both on the courts and in the legislators.

You should become more familiar with the political structure in your community. You should also become familiar with the more important bureaucratic agencies that carry out policies of local government. This is extremely difficult work. It is best suited for somebody trained in civil law: a lawyer. But lawyers have very valuable time. They tend to prefer to be elected to local office rather than remaining in the background. This is why lawyers dominate politics in the West.

The average citizen does not have the legal training or the time to mas- ter the details of local government. You probably do not have this time. Therefore, you must concentrate on doing what you can to teach people about biblical principles of civil government. If you have the opportunity to get involved in perhaps one specialized area of local civil government where your input can make a difference, then you should do so.


Christian Economics Volume 3: Activist’s Edition by Gary North

In the West, law guilds work to limit/restrict who can get access to shape, direct and interpret the law. Money is definitely involved, but it is not the only factor. Class, origins, race, and family connections can be of importance, depending on the time period and culture.

Religion and ideology are factors as well: as of 2019, support for homosexuality and same-sex marriage is mandatory in several law guilds, which serve (thanks to legal restrictions) as gatekeepers to political power. I expect ideological test to continue to increase in secular societies, serving the same purpose as public oaths to Christ, good family governance, and church membership in Christian societies, or Party Membership and correctly reciting current Proper Thought in Communist ones.

Consider it as a modern caste system, to remind Christians of their place in secular society, and who will get what to whom.

The Third Imperium does indeed have a legal system: GURPS Traveller ties it to the French Civil Code, as opposed to English Common Law, its messy and ungovernable juries, its distasteful notions on personal liberty, its blatherings about public accountability &oversight, and the annoying presumption of innocence. All administrative law in the United States take the French approach as normative: for example, taxation law.

While the West invests law-making powers with lawyers from the right schools, the right certifications, and the right ideological background, the Third Imperium ties such power with the Nobility: people from the right families, coupled with serious amounts of military and financial muscle, and a history — preferably multi-generational — of loyalty to the Iridium Throne.

Imperial judges are VERY different people than Western judges, who are different from Chinese Party judges, who differ from Sharia judges, who are distinct from Russian judges.

For one and all, though, the primary concern is securing the safety of the State, and not justice. There is a shared obsession with upholding the exact details of the law, due process to the letter, regardless of the outcome, good or evil.


Justice, as Determined by God

My personal recommendation is for believers to get serious about setting the standard for justice, in their public and private lives. Recall that one reason for the Imperial Roman government to shift to a Christian government was exactly because the Christians were quite good at governing themselves, and had earned the respect of both the rulers and the ordinary people.

How this was done is spelled out by several Christian Reconstructionists: Bojidar Marinov is especially clear on this. In the article Don’t Plant Churches, Build Covenant Communities, he writes:

While the detailed breakdown of the work a missionary should do will require a book rather than an article, here we can at least sketch the necessary steps:

First, a missionary should work to build the intellectual foundation for a future Christian civilization. This means he must make available to his flock the richness of the Christian literature we have accumulated throughout the ages on the application of the gospel to every area of life. […]

Second, a missionary must build the leadership of the covenant community. This doesn’t mean appointing “pastors” or deacons or any other ecclesiastical offices […] A missionary should work to raise and train elders and judges who will be the foundation for building the alternative economic and judicial life of the Christian community. […]

Third, a missionary must work as a “legislator” who helps the newly formed Christian communities establish their own covenant rules for acceptable conduct and relationships. The law of the community must be based on the Bible and must reflect the justice and the righteousness of the law of God, taking into account the general rules (the Ten Commandments), the case laws (the Pentateuch), and the judicial and moral applications (in the rest of the Bible). Unbelievers clearly see the goodness and the majesty of God in His law (Deut. 4:5-8); without God’s law applied in the community, there isn’t much that can attract the masses of people to Christ.

Fourth, a missionary must preach and work to establish an ethics of rewards and charity in the new converts. A strong pro-business attitude and appreciation of the problem-solvers-that is, the entrepreneurs-is an integral part of a Christian community that plans to survive long-term in a hostile environment. […]

And fifth, a missionary must establish a system for transferring the faith, the commitment, and the wisdom of the covenant community to the next generation. No Christian community can survive and thrive and fight the good fight without specifically Christian education of its children. […]

Don’t Plant Churches, Build Covenant Communities by Bojidar Marinov

Nowhere does Marinov direct the subversion of political institutions, seizing the mode of production, launching conspiracies and coups, or infiltrating the government. “Do what’s right, and teach others to do what is right” is the focus.

What is stressed is taking personal responsibility for yourself, your people, and the environment around you. Rather than pining for a Leader to Save and Protect Us.

Odd, that.

For many years after the fall of the Roman Empire, that’s what Christendom had as the ideal government: a government that was limited to being a judiciary. The kings and governors had their own property that they ruled as private owners, and their subjects had their property that they ruled as private owners. Property was thus legally protected against government confiscation. There were wars and invasions, provinces changed hands from one ruler to another, but the inhabitants of those provinces kept their properties, and the systems of ownership seldom changed. For the average property owner in France in the 14th and the 15th century, for example, it barely mattered whether his province was under the King of England or under the King of France, or under the Duke of Burgundy; he would still own his land and would produce on his land. The only thing that changed was the judges he had to go to in case there was a crime or a dispute. In such a system, a property owner didn’t have to meet any government officials all his life, and didn’t have to worry who was a government official in the first place. Voting was held for local village and town councils, but even there, who or what party was in power didn’t mean much: property was protected, period. As I pointed out in a lecture many years ago, “Europe as a Mirror to America,” even the Parliaments in medieval times were rather a judicial authority, sort of a supreme court, not a legislative or an executive authority.

Enlightenment’s Patriarchalism and Women’s Suffrage, by
Bojidar Marinov

The king, the emperor, the flag over your head: that doesn’t matter too much, so long as the law is godly… and therfore, just. With just laws, your life, liberty, and property is protected.

(To its credit, the Third Imperium tries to achieve this, when the Emperor & the Nobility are thinking straight. Sometimes, they even hit the mark!)

Liberty is the goal: a Christian civilization of justice and liberty for all, the weak and the strong, women and men, as Christ commands in His Kingdom. Not a Pagan civilization of state power and emperor-worship in the name of Safety, or the Will of the People (as determined by the Party, the Right Sort, or the Aristocracy.)

Imperial Law Meets Divine Law

In 452 a Christian bishop left the City of Rome on a journey north to the river Po. His goal was a diplomatic mission that would shake the world. A Christian bishop was sent by the Emperor to save Rome. It’s been a little over twenty years since Augustine (354-430) died, and Augustine had to defend Christianity against pagan claims that the gods were angry against Rome because of the Christians. Rome wasn’t Christian yet – the majority of its population was still pagan. And now a Christian bishop was on a mission to save the lives, the liberties, and the property of both Christians and pagans.

The Bishop’s name was Leo I, Bishop of Rome. He was on his way to meet the Scourge of God, the most formidable threat the Empire had ever met, Attila the Hun.

The last time a Christian bishop shook the world was 60 years earlier when Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, threatened Emperor Theodosius with excommunication unless he repented for the massacre of 7,000 tax-protesters in Thessalonika. No one ever threatened a Roman Emperor before. No priest ever dared stand in the way of the civil authorities when they collected the taxes. Theodosius was a battle-hardened veteran. He had accompanied his father who put down a rebellion in Britain and Gaul by the united forces of the local Celtic tribes and deserters from the Roman Army. He was the last great emperor of the united Roman Empire. And he was an orthodox, Trinitarian Christian with a vengeance. But the Bishop of Milan treated him like a Barbarian for the massacre of those tax-protesters. Theodosius replied in anger that he was coming to seize Ambrose’s church and drag Ambrose out. Ambrose’s reply was a revolution in the ancient world: “You have no right to enter a private person’s home. What makes you believe you have the right to enter God’s home?”

Theodosius’ response was the response of a true Christian: He repented. His soul was saved. But the Empire wasn’t the same anymore. The fearless defense by Ambrose of the life, liberty and property of those ordinary people who paid taxes put an end to the absolute rule of the Emperors. Ambrose was the hero of the ordinary people. Christianity grew in influence, and in numbers. If the Bishop could stand his ground against the Emperor, how much greater must that Bishop’s God be!

The Church, the Barbarians and the Growth of Christianity by Bojidar Marinov

I doubt if there are ten preachers in America that has the spine of Ambrose. I know for a fact that the the leading preachers of America *waves to Franklin Graham, et al* will never challenge the current emperor.

And thus, they give up the moral standing to challenge any future emperor, of whatever party. But that’s a small price to pay for personal safety and comfort, in their view.

The Traveller applicatio is obvious.

Modern Christianity, in a sharp contrast to the Christianity of the previous centuries, is culturally passive. The Puritans in England, being only a small percentage of the population, exercised enormous influence by their unstoppable enthusiasm to make the whole culture submit to Christ. Europe itself, being only a small portion of the world in terms of resources, territory, and population, nevertheless changed the world culturally and civilizationally because it was the Christendom, a civilization built to exhibit the glory of God. The modern dualistic separation between personal piety and cultural involvement was always foreign to Christians in the past. A Christian’s duty was to obey God personally and culturally. There was no separation between the two.

In comparison, modern Christianity, far from being a faith that conquers the world and its kingdoms, is a religion of passive waiting. Evangelical and Reformed celebrities insist that the church shouldn’t even attempt to change the culture; there is no such thing as a Christian culture, or government, or art, or science, or anything else. These areas are not under the mandate of man to conquer. Man’s only purpose is to be saved; as we saw in the previous point, the Gospel is limited to man’s salvation. Thus, whether one is an amillennialist or a premillennialist, all a person can do is wait for that final day of history or of his life, in order to finally “get home.”

Teaching the Whole Counsel of God by Bojidar Marinov

Ah yes. The difference between winners who work and fight, and losers who whine and gripe.

The difference between writing the laws that keep the wicked down, and being held down by the laws of the wicked.

Whether in the here and now, or in the Far Future, justice matters. And justice is defined by God, and not by powerful and wealthy men… of whatever party.

(And their bough-n-paid for intellectual go’fers, court priests — black- or white-cloaked — and media megaphones.)

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

How Wealth Thinks

What’s it Like: The Talk

I think this Quora post is a reasonable model for most of the wealthy, most of the time:

—[[Quote begins]]—

What is the greatest paradox of becoming wealthy?
K.P. Gill, lives in Los Angeles

A few years ago I was invited to a gathering at the house of a very rich man in one of the upscale desert cities southeast of Los Angeles. For the sole purpose of parties and weekend retreats, he had built an Italianate villa on a large piece of land opening up onto the desert wilderness. The house was partially circumscribed by a crescent shaped infinity pool that fell off into nothingness before the great rolling hills of the Sonoran landscape. The walls retracted so that the entire dwelling seemed intimately joined with this outdoor paradise. Its interior was appointed in the most opulent manner, with imported marble floors, expensive original paintings from contemporary artists, and, most impressively for me, a massive wine cellar full of hundreds of rare wines and scotches.

I was there only by the thinnest thread of associations: I knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody. I was not then living in Los Angeles but was merely in town for a job interview, which, in spite of some high hopes, had left me disappointed once again. Unemployed for more than a year, I was now facing the grim reality of my own financially precarious situation.

At some point in the evening I found myself at a small table with the Gatsby-like character who was hosting this gathering. He was a man in his 50’s, very physically fit, with the kind of upper body musculature that, at that age, can only come from daily workouts and perhaps some pharmaceutical help. Although he had long lived in Southern California, and now had the easy, understated quality that passes for good manners there, he also retained the directness and lack of pretense characteristic of the Midwest of his childhood.

I complimented him on his choices in architecture, which he discussed with considerable knowledge and pride. He became more philosophical, however, as I expressed my envy for his position in life. I told him that I had always lived for my passions. I studied philosophy in college and graduate school and had ever since pursued just those experiences I thought would lead me to a better understanding of the world and of myself. I said, perhaps not with absolute sincerity, that I now wished I instead had given more thought to making a living. Who, I asked, would not want to be able to build such a beautiful home for himself?

Be careful what you wish for, he said, glancing upward at the desert sky. I could immediately see that he had put great thought into what he was about to tell me. He seemed to have a lot on his mind, and he had found a sympathetic ear in me, someone, moreover, whom he likely would never see again. Over the next hour I played the role of drinker’s confessor, listening to him express some of his most personal misgivings about his own life.

While this all came out over the course of a long and meandering conversation, what follows is my best effort to compress what he said into a single monologue. It is constructed out of many actual phrases and sometimes complete lines he spoke to me that evening. I think it gives a very accurate impression of the man and his point of view.

When you don’t have money, you think money is going to solve your problems —and to some extent it does. But at a certain point it brings its own problems with it. Having money is like having a child. You have to care for it, you have to tend to it, you have to watch it every minute! You do this not only to make sure it grows, but also to make sure it doesn’t shrink. Money is alive and volatile! That means I am constantly thinking about my money. It’s what I think about first thing in the morning. It’s what I think about before I go to bed… Now, that makes it sound like a burden, and sometimes it is a burden. But the brutal truth is that nothing in my life gives me greater satisfaction than making money. If you’ve never experienced it, it might be hard for you to understand. Take this house for example. I made all the money for this in one year, just one small stock investment that I hit exactly right. I turned one hundred thousand dollars into 3 million dollars. Every day I would just wake up laughing as that stock kept going up. In one single day my shares went up over 50 grand! Amazing feeling! But that’s what’s crazy. I mean, I enjoy all this stuff well enough. All my junk amuses me a little bit, keeps me from getting bored. But as far as my possessions go, honestly — and I’ve really thought about this — I get more pleasure from my dogs than anything else. That’s the truth, the absolute truth. Materially, I don’t need much to be happy. I already have everything I want. What I am working for, if I am entirely honest, is just the thrill of making more money. It’s like playing a game, a game in which the prize is power, the power that is represented by that money. Power for what? It doesn’t matter! The prize is the power itself. It’s all about the feeling of power. There is a sensation I get when I make money… If you haven’t experienced it, I can only compare it to sex, or gambling, or cocaine. It’s exactly like that — maybe even better. So my investments and my business ventures are like various casino games, except in my games the odds usually favor me…. And what I live for on a daily basis is just the thrill of playing those games. It’s the damn’d truth! If I quit trying to make money, I wouldn’t even know why to get out of bed in the morning…. I first started to realize how fucked I was when I found myself thinking about other people’s professions in terms of the bottom line. I mean, I have a pal from childhood who is a doctor, and I found myself thinking what an irrational job choice this was for him. He cares about money too, and I just thought, what a waste… how inefficient a use of his time and talent, since there are so many better ways to make money. Crazy, huh? I don’t know what the hell it’s like to be a doctor, but I would guess there’s a whole level of meaning there that people get off on. That doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s like all I really understand is money…. What I realized as I entered my fifties a few years ago is that business has become my identity — and I am not sure I like who I am. But I have no choice, no more than a lifelong drug addict does. I see businessmen bullshit themselves about why they are really doing it — you know, that they are trying to improve society, or it’s all for their family, or whatever other bull crap. That could just be PR, but it also can be self-deception. Don’t fool yourself, I think. I know you! You’re just feeding the monkey! …. So, that’s my story, KP. I am not entirely proud of my life, but I accept it. I try to be as comfortable as I can, to have as much fun as I can, but I’m not in denial about anything. I know I’m basically just a junky living for the next hit.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” As the words of this man reveal, some of these differences work in their favor, some not. No matter what goal one pursues in life, there will be unintended consequences. These consequences are part of the total package. You can’t take the good without the bad. For this reason, it’s wise, in any deal, to understand the totality of what you are signing on for. There are many paradoxes to being wealthy, just as there are with other positive things in life (being beautiful, being young, being highly talented, to name a few). But one of the greatest paradoxes of all has to be that the possession of wealth can insidiously undermine the freedom of the wealthy person to fully enjoy the fruits of their wealth. What at first seems to be the clearest path to power and the enjoyment of life actually undermines one’s ability to truly take possession of these things.

As I see it, the moral of this story is not that wealth is bad. That’s an open question for me. The main thing I worry about, in that regard, is what it means to be wealthy in a world in which so many people have so little. But that’s a different issue.

The real moral of this tale concerns an even deeper truth of human nature. We humans are always torn in two by these kinds of paradoxes. There I was, a man who had spent his whole life “seeking wisdom,” and, as a consequence, was now close to being unable to take care of himself financially. What good is wisdom if you don’t have the power to take action in the world? And yet there he was, a rich man of great power, with no clue at all as to what worthwhile thing he might do with that power.

There’s nothing absolute about any of this. There surely exists a both/and that subsumes the either/or on which these paradoxes are built. But I do believe that, in any individual case, the path to finding this balance is far narrower and more fraught with pitfalls than most of us know.

—[[Quote ends]]—

A few notes:

  • “Being wealthy” in different times and cultures means different things. For example, in the Middle Ages having the fealty and friendship of many powerful men was of somewhat greater weight than today, and having lots of gold and silver somewhat less important than their equivalent in currency today.
  • The speaker is addicted to making money: “wealth for the sake of wealth”. That is certainly true for many (not all) rich men. Some of them are fortunate enough to marry a woman who can give good advice on how to use that money to help others, a la Bill Gates… others, not so much.
  • Because the wealthy in Traveller must often provide for their own security and that of their business — and may be roped in to back various tribal/nationalist/religious/racial concerns — they tend to be rather more politically and militarily aware than the wealthy American in the post above.
  • Unlike the American — who is frankly in it for himself (and maybe his dogs) — most (not all) wealthy Travellers strongly support blood relatives, using them as an extension of their business and to give meaning to their labours. This may well lead to blood & trust outweighing experience & expertise in corporate, political and military endeavors.

What it’s Like: The Story

Again, from Quora:

—[[Quote begins]]—

Joseph Lipari, Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was six years old.

When I was younger, there was this rich man who was friends with my family. He would often visit me, and I asked him something akin to this question.

He never directly answered me, rather he explained it using the game I was playing at the time. (He was a gamer oddly enough.)

The game was Minecraft.

Yes, I was taught the biggest paradox of being wealthy by Minecraft.

He directed me to start a new world with one goal: Build my entire house from diamond blocks in survival mode.

Yes, I’m serious.


So, I hopped into a new world, I built a house out of wood, and after securing a good amount of food, I went out and searched for diamonds.

I hurdled myself through cave after cave, fending off monsters and watching out for high drops, and I finally found my first diamonds.

I was ecstatic, I felt a rush and returned home to make a diamond sword and pickaxe.

After I made my tools, I went through another cave, and I found even more diamonds.

I returned home and made some diamond boots, and leggings, and I went out again.

I threw myself at cave after cave, gathering tons of diamonds, and I eventually got a full set of diamond armor.

I felt a huge rush equipping the final piece.

And then I fell into lava because I got careless.


I lost almost all of my progress in an instant, and I was absolutely burning with rage.

I knew it was going to be more difficult to get more diamonds because I already mined them from the caves nearby.

But I was dedicated, I wanted to understand what he was trying to teach me. But this time, I was much more cautious.

And when I found diamonds again, I didn’t feel as excited as before.

When I got another full diamond set, I didn’t feel the same rush as the first time.

And he laughed when I told him that. I told him I still didn’t understand what he was trying to teach me.

He just said: “You will, trust me.”


And so, I threw myself at cave after cave again, and finally, I got my first diamond block.

I placed it proudly to mark my progress and felt a rush of excitement.

I explored cave after cave and placed block after block.

Until I finally placed the last block.

I made it.

I did it.

I just made an entire house of diamond.

And after I placed the last block, and the excitement died down, I asked the man:

“What now?”

He just said: “Dunno, if you find the answer, tell me.”


I was completely lost.

I had no goal.

So, what did I do?

I threw some diamonds in lava.

Sure it was a waste, but I didn’t need them anymore.

There was nothing specific left to achieve, and I wasn’t any happier than I was when I started.

No, I was less happy than when I started.

The same diamonds, which were once my most desired possession, now meant nothing to me.

Nothing about the diamonds changed, the only thing that changed was I had nothing left to do with them anymore.

I had no goal left to use them for.

There were some other things I could do, but there wasn’t a reason for me to do any of them.

And that’s when I understood.

That is what it’s like to become wealthy.


You run and run trying to reach your goal, and you get to feel those huge rushes of excitement along the way, you see those rushes as stepping stones.

The steps to the ultimate goal.

And when you finally reach your goal and feel that last rush, you’ll never experience it again.

And so, you try desperately to feel that rush again by trying new experiences.

You buy a Ferrari.

You buy a mansion.

You buy beautiful women.

It doesn’t matter.

No matter what you do, you’ll never feel those rushes again.

You’ll never even come close.

The greatest paradox of becoming wealthy is that it’s not the money itself that makes you happy, it’s those rushes you get along the way when you get closer to achieving your goal, whatever it may be.

And you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to experience that first rush again.

One last time.


At least, that’s what I think he was trying to teach me.

—[[Quote ends]]—

“Wealth generation as drug” seems to be a pretty popular analogy.

Middle Class Wealth Generation

Mainly: “Own your tools: don’t let your tools own you.”

Also: “You — and your money — are Divine property. You will be held accountable for what you do with your wealth, and your life. Certainly, you may buy an enjoyable, comfortable life with your wealth… but that had better not be the end of the story!”

(Whether the above only applies to humans, or is in effect for all sophonts, is an interesting question.)

Naturally, not many rich men agree with me. (See: “Eye of a needle”) But I am not really speaking to them: it is the people of the middle class who want to move on up — and the honest poor who have no intention of staying poor — who are my real focus.

As to how to generate wealth from poverty, I cede the floor to North:

FIGHTING POVERTY

Which would be the better policy to fight poverty:

Invest 10% of all profits?
Give 10% of all profits to the poor?

We know the answer: #1. Capital formation is the most powerful force in man’s history for the elimination of poverty.

The Bible, like all other religious books, does not command the reinvestment of profits. It commands charity.

Is there a cognitive disconnect here?

I regard John Wesley as the person who did more to relieve poverty than anyone in history. He showed the way to wealth to millions of poor people who had not read Adam Smith. He preached this of money: Earn all you can. Give all you can. Save all you can. (Sermon #50, “The Use of Money” [1744], Part 6.)

Wesley preached to the poorest people in the British Isles. He spent most of his adult life on horseback. He preached sobriety, hard work, and thrift to those poverty-stricken people who came to be called Methodists. He changed the face of England. Within a century of his death, Methodists had become middle class. Then the denomination went theologically liberal. This would not have surprised Wesley. He had warned against the effects of riches in Sermon 126 (1790).

His followers experienced what religious orders and monks did throughout the Middle Ages: they got rich by practicing systematic frugality. That was why, every few centuries, there was a wave of religious reform among the mendicant orders that had sworn vows of poverty. Too much money was rolling in. The monks were enjoying the life style of the rich and famous.

Thrift is the key element in the reduction of poverty. Thrift capitalizes the entrepreneurs and inventors whose ideas overcome poverty for the masses.

The fact that wealth corrupts some of those who create it and makes their children feel guilty after four years at an Ivy League school is a valid theological and moral issue. But as to how poverty is overcome, capitalism has proven more effective than any other system of ownership and production.

I argue in many of my books that the worldview of the Bible presents the case for private ownership, which in turn produces the capitalist order. Socialists may disagree. So may Randians. But the fact remains that the capitalist order is what has made the difference historically in the conquest of poverty. Before capitalism, there were many varieties of Christianity, but none of them produced the society-wide cornucopia of wealth that has given us all of those blessings to count.

The Source of All Blessings (and Curses), by Gary North

My readers should spend the cash to check out Why Middle Class Income Has Stagnated as well. Short summary: business are better able to locate the key 4% who get 50% of the business revenue (Pareto’s Law: but also see Price’s Law). The services of the also ran’s are no longer needed: their wages stagnate in good times, and their jobs will be gone in bad times. (Also see: the gig economy).

Traveller?

  • “Money has limits. The Vargr put charisma above money; the Solomani, tribe; the Vilani, stability; the Aslan, land. There are things and people that can’t be bought, at least not with credits…”
  • “Travellers often struggle to get the bills paid. Figure out why.”
  • “It’s harder for a single free trader, than it is for two or three traders, using their strengths to support each other. See if you can rope in a starmerc while you’re at it!”
  • “Have a goal. If you want to travel across the Imperium, figure out how to do it and make a profit at the same time. Same deal if you want to build your own dynasty, cut down an old enemy, force out a megacorp from a subsector, maneouver a friend (or yourself) onto a Ducal throne, or build up you own tribe, homeworld, or cause.”
  • “Be careful of wealthy, powerful friends. They can make things happen, but there is always a price to be paid. If you are going to sell yourself — something I don’t advise — do it with eyes wide open, and know that even good masters will never put your welfare above their own.”

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

Seymour the Scout

When I think of Scouts, this is the kind of people I’m thinking of.

Certainly, he knows about the legendary Scout survival rate…

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

Last Stand

No Traveller lives forever.

No, not even the guys in long-term low berths or on anagathics.

But Travellers just might be able to decide where they die, why they die, and who they die with.

That’s not a bad deal, in this life.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

High Law Societies and Financial Opportunities

Back to North Korea!

“2 Days, 1 Night” is one of the most popular South Korean TV programs in North Korea. Episodes of the show have been distributed throughout the country by USB sticks and other storage devices. The show began to spread through North Korea’s border region and interior in the early 2010s through DVDs created by North Korean business people capitalizing on the spike in demand for the show.

“People are interested in the show because they’re curious about South Korea and it shows famous places in the country,” the source said. “They are fascinated by the fact that people in the South can move around freely, given that they can’t do that here.”

The show is also popular because it depicts Korean culture and is easy for viewers to understand.

“The show gives viewers a taste of different parts of South Korea, rather than just showing the completely developed parts like dramas do,” a source in Pyongyang explained. “Viewers appreciate the show’s Korean-ness and being able to note the commonalities between the South and North.”

North Korean fans of “2 Nights, 1 Day” concerned about future of the show by Jang Seul Gi

Somebody is supplying those memory sticks. Even a small profit per stick can turn the informal business into a nice little earner…

“Locals who don’t make much money are forced to find ways to survive in their given circumstances,” he said. “International calls with China are blocked, so people can’t carry around Chinese-made cell phones anymore. But entrepreneurs have stepped in to rent out cell phones that can be used to make calls to China.”

These small-scale cell phone rental businesses were previously the sphere of a small minority of business people and had almost disappeared completely due to heavy crackdowns by the state. Recently, however, the rise in widespread economic difficulties has led to greater demand for cell phone rentals. These businesses charge 200 yuan (around 35,000 South Korean won) per day, which is twice the amount charged just a year ago.

“Every village [in the border region] has a couple of people who conduct business with China or make money in other ways. These business people need phones. They pay 200 yuan to use the phones to avoid state crackdowns. These cell phone rental businesses are on the rise,” he said.

Renters agree, however, that they are to be held responsible if they are caught by authorities, rather than the rental businesses.

Mobile rental business in North Korea thriving amidst crackdown on international calls by Kang Mi Jin

Interstellar businesses must make the contacts to get the deals… one way, or another. It can’t be too hard for a Traveller on the make (and a starship) to set up a satellite communication grid. But how to distribute the phones, and arrange for payments? Hmmm…

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission