Welterfindung Drei

  • I had thought I'd need to specify something else, rather than gold, for the black-market medium of exchange, in my setting. Gold is 47.74 times as abundant in the Solar System at large (I like that number), as it is in the Earth's crust, .148 parts per million to .0031; assuming all other things being equal, that drops its value down from $45,644.41 per kilo ($1,419.69 per troy ounce) to $956.10—$29.73 per troy ounce, gold's price somewhere between 1933 and 1934. But reading stuff about post-Civil War bimetallism leads me to think the really old numbers aren't adjusted for inflation? If not, we're actually talking $585.78 per troy ounce or $18,838.33 per kilogram, its value in April of 2006. So maybe never mind?
  • This was brought to my attention by the blithering idiocy of Malthusian ignoramuses and their apocryphal population apocalypses, and their incredible rudeness to people who have more than two children, but the fact a "replacement" fertility-rate is 2.1 children per woman, means that every tenth woman needs to have three kids. Every woman who only has one child, however, means every fifth woman needs to have three, or every tenth one to have four; every woman who has no children means that three women in ten have to have three, or every fifth to have three and every other one of those, to have four, or every tenth to have five. So you can see the utter imbecility of freaking out every time someone has more than two kids: you need them to have that many, especially with your modern-Western welfare state (which needs the tax-rolls to stay large to remain funded), even if infrastructure and innovation was not very largely a function of population.

    When a significant proportion of your society's females choose not to have children, whether by becoming nuns or choosing to have marriages or other sexual relationships that are childless, your society needs a certain portion of its people to have large families. If you can't understand that, congratulations, you know less about how these things work than Robert Heinlein and Josef Stalin, i.e. less than a braindead ideologue and a shortsightedly amoral monster. (Stalin, like Bismarck but unlike Hitler, kept the fourth crack propaganda commandment, and never got high on his own supply. Though the Nazis did understand that aspect of these matters; it was things like "strategy is about more than taking important cities" that they didn't understand. Stalin's famine was almost certainly at least as much a deliberate pacification-measure—same as the Irish potato one—as it was incompetent policy; he wasn't Mao.)

    Speaking of famines, Churchill's half-Holocaust in Bengal was explicitly based on Malthusian malarkey. He actually said, while refusing no-strings-attached, free-of-charge food aid, that the Bengalis had brought it on themselves by "breeding like rabbits".
  • Decided to move the main city and cosmodrome (with space elevator) on Mars, in my book. I had had it at Tuscaloosa Crater, right at 0° latitude, and name it Nergal City (Nergal being the Sumerian god they associated with Mars). But decided, no, it'll be at Endeavour Crater, and be named Opportunity City. Because Oppy rocked. Endeavour Crater is still within the 10° of the equator required for you to put a space-elevator there, being at 2°16′48″ S, 5°13′48″ W. You can make the crater into a sweet lake to put seaplane entry vehicles on.

    At first I was worried I wouldn't get to use the Mars variant of the Groucho joke ("because in Alabama the Tuscaloosa"), but then I discovered I had not actually written that joke in the dialogue—I come up with a lot of ideas for material that I then forget to actually use. Maybe I'll have them make a joke about not using Tuscaloosa Crater because of something to do with that. Like, say, that they couldn't keep the crews organized ("task are looser").
  • Relevant to worldbuilding, sort of, but a thing I was thinking about: I read this thing by a deaf special-ed teacher complaining that their hearing coworkers would straight-up refuse to sign during off-hours, because they didn't want to have to "think about communication". Dick move, but it occurred to me that rustic villagers, who supposedly hate and fear anyone different from them, would never do that. Most modern sign language developed from "village sign", a recognized classification in the linguistics of sign languages, e.g. ASL is specifically from villages in New England. Villagers may think in terms of "us" vs. "them", but if you're a deaf villager, guess what? You're "us", not "them".
  • You often see idiot libertarian SF fans who think believe, in real life or in worldbuilding, that legalizing prostitution makes human-trafficking go away. It doesn't. Germany and Netherlands are neck and neck for highest rate of human-trafficking in Europe, not only despite both having legalized prostitution but after they legalized prostitution.

    Why does legalizing prostitution not reduce trafficking, but appear to increase it? Legalization increases demand (a lot more people "demand" something if they won't go to prison for getting it), and it also lets traffickers operate more openly. Which is harder to cover up, a whole brothel, or the fact the workers in the brothel aren't there willingly?

    On sexual matters, libertarians are naive hippies who think people are basically good, just like socialists.
  • Was reading a review of the game Stellaris, and the thing it says about "sectors"—"Paradox figured the name 'sector' sounds spacey enough, and they're right. The Such-and-such Sector. It has a nice ring to it. You can imagine a starship captain telling his navigator to go there."—reminded me that I hate that kind of thing. What the hell is a sector and why would that be a meaningful unit of a space-government? Most of a "sector" is going to be empty space, for one. More importantly, the idea of an entire, meaningful subdivision of interstellar territory dedicated to the kinds of things sub-planetary governments get from particular regions ("Ukraine grows most of the USSR's grain"; "the US gets most of its copper from the Four Corners") is ludicrous. It's goofy and bizarre for one star system, let alone an entire chunk of interstellar space containing multiple star systems.

    You'd much more likely divide an interstellar government into individual star-systems, and then administer each planet within the system (you'd also have regions of the planets administered by descending levels of government, down to at least the level of a single county or municipality). Whether you'd admin the system itself separately from the planets, or have whoever governs the most significant planet also govern the system as a whole, is up to you, depending partly on how important planets are to your setting's space-colonization methods. You might then have certain star-systems combined under some higher-level administrator, but they wouldn't be anything as regular-sounding as a "sector". A "region", maybe, but it wouldn't exist as the kind of economic unit a region of a continent does, unless one is the only place where a resource is produced. But that's still not the whole region.

    It also occurs to me you could do something interesting with people or activities taking place in interstellar space, something like (the fictional version of) international waters, and then some—though the energy costs of actually living there are pretty steep if you don't periodically raid or trade with the people who live closer to the starlight.
  • A bunch of people claim that robots-being-oppressed stories make no sense, because people treat Roombas like pets, but here's the thing: people also treat pets like pets. But consider how they treat other people. Pets don't make the kinds of demands on you that actual people do—or that strong AIs would. Roombas do not "need to be taught their place" because they can't get "uppity" in the first place. Strong AIs could and would. We commodify other people all the time, treat them like appliances or industrial products; people who are actually industrial products would get it even worse.
  • It is often remarked—I might've done it here at some point—that it's dumb how Star Trek describes all wars on one planet or within a species as "civil wars", even when the planets don't have world governments. But…is it? A civil war isn't just a war within one state; the US Civil War in fact was not one, but only a secession attempt. No; a civil war requires something else: war over control of the central government.

    So possibly, what Star Trek calls "civil wars" are wars where people are fighting not over the usual things nations fight over, but specifically over control of the central government…of the planet. Or, to establish a central government over the planet—wars of world conquest. Maybe each of the "civil wars" the Enterprise gets involved in (because the Prime Directive is a quantum event) is fomented by that planet's equivalent of Khan.
  • I noticed this watching Krypton, which is mostly pretty cool (Superman theme for the win), but: make sure, in your setting, that your characters' social mores reflect their society's values. E.g. in some of the second-season flashbacks about Seg-El and Lyta Zod, it's implied that there is some concern over her being unfaithful to her eugenically arranged marriage, if she hooks up with him. But…why would there be? Kryptonians are clearly a super-decadent semi-transhuman society with a more or less perpetual sexual free-for-all—and they aren't fertile. They breed by test-tube.

    Adultery taboos are so strong largely because uncertainty as to parentage screws up successions; since your heirs are only going to be artificially produced in the first place, thus there are no succession concerns, you wouldn't care who your spouse goes to bed with. (That was part of why homosexuality was valued in Greece and China—though their misogyny was a bigger concern—and the main reason it was, among the Maya. Homosexual relationships let the adolescent sons of the aristocracy fool around with the help, without siring bastards who might complicate their alliance-marriages.)

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