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Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: quadibloc on March 13, 2009, 09:16:18 am

Title: March 13
Post by: quadibloc on March 13, 2009, 09:16:18 am
The discussion about an "extinction-level event" being something that, in fact, the Cereans would never inflict on Earth is interesting.

And, indeed, there are almost always other alternatives. I presume a previous day's strip hints that Guy is going to use the codes in his PDA to massively disrupt the UW financial system in response to this attack.

But I am dismayed that controversy was needlessly courted in today's strip. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Travers Harris, 1st Baronet, Order of the British Empire, carried out the policies of the British Government to the best of his ability in the war against Nazi Germany.

The policy of area bombing of German cities was instituted in 1942, which was subsequent to the massive German bombardment of Coventry which caused considerable civilian casualties on November 14, 1940.

The British people could hardly be expected to stand for German civilians being exempted from the war when they were being directly targeted by German forces. Morale is as vital an element of winning a war as anything else, and World War II was a gigantic struggle for the survival of freedom which humanity could not afford to lose. A Nazi victory would have plunged the whole world irrevocably into a long age of darkness.

This fact is not changed by the fact that Hitler's erstwhile ally Stalin was just as bad.

Categorizing 'Bomber' Harris as a war criminal is gratuitous, unfortunate, and badly mistaken.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Scott on March 13, 2009, 01:12:01 pm
In the first place, if you want to play the game of "who shot first" concerning wars between nations, you can go back a long, long way and never resolve anything.

In the second place, libertarian philosophy decries the notion of "collective guilt." The women and children of Dresden had nothing to do with the bombing of Coventry, abominable as that was. The targeting of civilians is just as likely to steel the resolve of armies to fight, as it is to harm their morale -- look how the British themselves rallied after Coventry. A great deal more damage to the Reich's war-making ability was done by bombing factories, rail centers, and air bases.

And in the third place, my reading of history is that Harris was not just passively following orders (not that this would absolve him) but was an active advocate of civilian targeting. He did what he wanted to do.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: John DeWitt on March 13, 2009, 01:54:09 pm
That being said (and I agree, Scott, FWIW) I'm glad we're getting some action here.

I know this'll all read differently on dead-tree - although I'm really enjoying this story, long periods of relative inaction do tend to drag when read one page per day.  So hurrah!  World-conquering space fleets - so powerful, so confident, so utterly hapless! 
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on March 13, 2009, 02:04:48 pm
Yep.  Arthur "Bomber" Harris actually tried to re-divert forces from the more strategic bombing back to annihilating civilian targets.  They accidentally kicked off a firestorm once, and Mr. Harris liked the result so much he ordered it intentionally tried again and again.  Tens of thousands of civilians' deaths were on his hands, and in the end result those mis-allocation of resources into the slaughtering of uninvolved parties didn't do shit for the war effort.  As Scott did thusly state, when they started concentrating resources back onto particularly the transportation networks (rail, primarily) is when they really started to hurt the axis war effort.  Who knows how many planes and lives were wasted futilely trying to ignite another firestorm in Berlin?  And there is a difference between bombing a city, and firebombing a city intentionally producing a fire so intense that its convection currents reach hurricane speeds in order to kill tens of thousands of people.  Firebombing in Europe and Japan rates up there on the genocide scale.  Maybe it's not Srebrenica, or a Holocaust, or Rwanda.  But the scale shouldn't matter so much as the fact of it.  What's the difference between slaughtering one uninvolved (innocent) party and slaughtering millions?  Scale, not kind.

As I believe was mentioned in another thread, <0.01% of the total number of humans were off Earth.  Even impoverished and with a totalitarian government over them (and possibly especially, the joke in agorism is that very little conscious effort is required to follow it, it's a natural consequence of regulation) they're a truly staggeringly massive economic market.  Imagine if someone was talking about taking an action that cut you off from even half your customers, if you were in business?  And that's just the practical, economic incentive.  There's also the fact that I'm sure many of them in the Belt and Beyond have family on Terra.  The moral implications of an extinction-level event are breathtaking, and there's a lower likelihood of "nobody I know would get hurt" because of that fact.

Song of the day?  Serj Tankiam's "Empty Walls".  The line that this discussion reminds me of?  "I loved you yesterday before you killed my family!"  I'll mention, here, that in a manner of speaking people think of the twin towers as just ordinary terrorism.  There were lots of government offices in those towers.  The crime of Al Qaida was that of the many killed that day, only a tiny fraction were at all involved in government.  But, hell, guess who played that tactic already of not particularly caring about civilian casualties when going after the "real" desired military ones?
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on March 13, 2009, 02:56:33 pm
Not to distract from the moral mud-slinging (feel free to get back to it after this), but the thing I really liked from today's strip was how the Cereans have utilized the fastest communications system ever devised by man.

Rumor Central. 

Hey, I'm not making fun.  It works...
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on March 13, 2009, 03:04:45 pm
I imagine that the powerful lasers that the belters use to mine ores with are now being moved to where they can deal with Harris and his fleet.  It's interesting that the UW considers them "traitors" when it's already signed a non-agression agreement with them.  Kind of reminds me of what Hitler did with Stalin just before his people attacked them.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on March 13, 2009, 04:35:23 pm
And, indeed, there are almost always other alternatives. I presume a previous day's strip hints that Guy is going to use the codes in his PDA to massively disrupt the UW financial system in response to this attack.

Damn! I wish I'd thought of that.

But I am dismayed that controversy was needlessly courted in today's strip. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Travers Harris, 1st Baronet, Order of the British Empire, carried out the policies of the British Government to the best of his ability in the war against Nazi Germany.

Yeah, that's right, he was "only following orders."

The policy of area bombing of German cities was instituted in 1942, which was subsequent to the massive German bombardment of Coventry which caused considerable civilian casualties on November 14, 1940.

So is your moral stance, that if you kill my innocent victims, it's okay for me to kill your innocent victims?

Categorizing 'Bomber' Harris as a war criminal is gratuitous, unfortunate, and badly mistaken.

"Butcher" Harris (the contemptuous name given to him my members of the British military who still had some honor), Churchill and everyone who approved of targeting innocent men, women and children to be incinerated, were war criminals by any realistic definition of the term. I stand by my characterization.If there is a hell (highly doubtful) Harris and Churchill will be burning there right along side Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Truman, Tibbets and all the other monsters.

P.S. You are really going to hate how this arc ends.  ;D
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Jackson on March 13, 2009, 06:14:20 pm
Well, if looks like the United World has called Guy's bluff on that "extinction level event." I'm surprised the UW would risk the near extermination of mankind. Secretary General Timah must be really brave or really desperate.

The UW wins no points for strategy, though. If they were smart, they would have realized that they simply could have brought in Special Forces in disguise into the colony by civilian transit; after all, no one checked Guy or Fiorella’s baggage for weapons, and there is no government, so it’s not like Ceres could outlaw UW immigration. For that matter, they could have brought in small atomic weapons. Then, the Special Forces could launch attacks on the Ceresians’ (is that the term?) mining lasers, small nuclear bombs and other improvised weapons while Harris’ troops were still in transit. Ceres’ low gravity might pose a problem for Terrans, but since there are various space colonies on Luna, Mars, Mercury and elsewhere, the United World Army probably has troops trained to fight in low gravity and zero gravity.

Admiral Harris still has a decent chance of winning the Ceresian-Terran war. After all, the Ceresians have mining lasers and small nukes, but presumably the Gamma Conqueror and the other six smaller ships in Harris’ flotilla have combat lasers and full sized nuclear bombs. His troops hold a similar advantage in ground combat; the Ceresians have weapons and are presumably good shots, the haven’t been trained to act as units the way UW troops have, and they don’t have support weapons, combat vehicles or body armor. Still, all the Ceresians are armed, so Ceres still might win the ground war. But a lot of people on both sides will die (that's what happens when both sides have nukes)


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It's interesting that the UW considers them "traitors" when it's already signed a non-agression agreement with them. 
Well, we can assume that the various inhabitants of Ceres were citizens of the United World before they moved to Ceres. Thus, by refusing to be ruled by UW, the inhabitants of Ceres have turned their back on and betrayed their mother country. Of course, that can be a moral choice (that is what the Founding Fathers of the USA did, after all.)
The curious thing is that after Reginald the First demanded 80 billion continentals under UW law, the UW didn't just give it to him and bring Ceres under their control. The money will be a problem at first, but then they will be able to get tax money from Ceres every year. In the long run, that will more than pay off.

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Truman, Tibbets

I assume you are referring to the atomic bombs. You are aware that Truman's actions saved tens of millions of Americans and Japanese who would have been killed in Operation Downfall? Truman had to choose between Operation Downfall and the atomic bomb; sometimes, there are no good choices.

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Not to distract from the moral mud-slinging (feel free to get back to it after this), but the thing I really liked from today's strip was how the Cereans have utilized the fastest communications system ever devised by man.

Rumor Central.
Well, it probably would have been faster if Ceres Space Traffic Control Center was just linked up to an emergency address system. But you can't really set up such a system without a government.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: quadibloc on March 13, 2009, 06:59:50 pm
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So is your moral stance, that if you kill my innocent victims, it's okay for me to kill your innocent victims?

No, not really. Because, indeed, the innocent don't belong to the guilty.

But I think it's oversimplifying to claim that no contribution was made to the war effort. Given the fact that British civilians were experiencing ongoing attacks, abstaining from replying in kind would have adversely affected morale. Killing innocent people in order to pander to the darker side of human nature is wrong in itself, but gambling with victory in World War II would have been far more wrong.

As for Tibbets - there the moral issues are more clear-cut. Not only would the invasion of Japan have been a far greater bloodbath - on the part of American soldiers for whom Truman was directly responsible - but warning leaflets were dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If the Japanese authorities kept Hiroshima a secret, preventing the people of Nagasaki from evacuating, why are the Americans to blame?

I'm not rooting for the bad guy in the comic, because clearly it is the Cereans who are the ones who want to live in peace and freedom. I think he is dishonoring the memory of his ancestor, not continuing a family tradition.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on March 13, 2009, 07:04:34 pm
I assume you are referring to the atomic bombs. You are aware that Truman's actions saved tens of millions of Americans and Japanese who would have been killed in Operation Downfall? Truman had to choose between Operation Downfall and the atomic bomb; sometimes, there are no good choices.


This is patent nonsense, though commonly repeated and too often believed. The technical term of this fallacy is a "false dichotomy." The only remaining issue was the US demand for an "unconditional" surrender. And the only condition the Japanese were still pressing was that the Emperor not be executed. So it was the "my dick is bigger than your dick" position of the US that precluded an otherwise unconditional surrender. Then there is the canard about loss of human life if Operation Downfall became necessary. It is always trotted out as an either/or choice. The truth is, by the end of the war, Japan could have been brought to its with a simple blockade. When they no longer have fuel and steel, they no longer are a military threat. In other words, there was absolutely no reason to invade Japan to kill and be killed in the hundreds of thousands. No need to kill hundreds of thousands of innocents with atom bombs. None.

Well, it probably would have been faster if Ceres Space Traffic Control Center was just linked up to an emergency address system. But you can't really set up such a system without a government.

Really? Try stretching your imagination a little. There is nothing governments can do (except kill and enslave) that cannot be done better by free people living in a free society.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on March 13, 2009, 07:09:02 pm
but warning leaflets were dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Authoritative citation, please. I have never seen a scintilla of evidence of any such leaflets.

Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on March 13, 2009, 07:36:03 pm

Admiral Harris still has a decent chance of winning the Ceresian-Terran war. After all, the Ceresians have mining lasers and small nukes, but presumably the Gamma Conqueror and the other six smaller ships in Harris’ flotilla have combat lasers and full sized nuclear bombs. His troops hold a similar advantage in ground combat; the Ceresians have weapons and are presumably good shots, the haven’t been trained to act as units the way UW troops have, and they don’t have support weapons, combat vehicles or body armor. Still, all the Ceresians are armed, so Ceres still might win the ground war.


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It's interesting that the UW considers them "traitors" when it's already signed a non-agression agreement with them. 
Well, we can assume that the various inhabitants of Ceres were citizens of the United World before they moved to Ceres. Thus, by refusing to be ruled by UW, the inhabitants of Ceres have turned their back on and betrayed their mother country. Of course, that can be a moral choice (that is what the Founding Fathers of the USA did, after all.)
The curious thing is that after Reginald the First demanded 80 billion continentals under UW law, the UW didn't just give it to him and bring Ceres under their control. The money will be a problem at first, but then they will be able to get tax money from Ceres every year. In the long run, that will more than pay off.

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Truman, Tibbets

I assume you are referring to the atomic bombs. You are aware that Truman's actions saved tens of millions of Americans and Japanese who would have been killed in Operation Downfall? Truman had to choose between Operation Downfall and the atomic bomb; sometimes, there are no good choices.

     Jackson your operating under some false assumptions and fallacies.  First off go watch the movie "Midway".  The Japanese at that moment in history should have won that battle but they didn't.  The reason is LUCK.   The Japanese were caught reloading their torpedo and bomber planes and had fuel and bombs stacked all over the deck, something that normally would not have happened.  Their zero fighters were at low altitude having just prior intercepted a squadron of american torpedo bombers and wiped them out.  If they had been at they're proper altitude the coordinated american attack might have been broken up.  Why am I bringing this all up?  Because when the fighting starts all of the plans of generals and admirals goes out the window and the "roll of the dice" kicks in.   The belters have a better chance than you think they have.
     Next the reason that the Americans won the Revolutionary War was because of the help that the French gave them, which brings up an interesting point that the story hasn't covered yet.  Is there some kind of resistance like the French resistance of WW2 or the Marquis on the UW and will it activate if Ceres is attacked?
     What about other colonies like one or more of the Mars colonies?  Will they join the rebellion figuring that this is their best chance to be free?
     In regards of your last statement that "sometimes there are no good choices".  How about this one.  The belters send a wet team in to kill the leaders of the UW.  No civilians get killed and the only deaths are the team itself since it's a suicide mission.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Jackson on March 13, 2009, 07:41:59 pm
All I said was that Admiral Harris has the advantage; he can still lose, through his own incompetence, bad intelligence, tactical brilliance by the Ceresians or simple luck. In fact, I hope he loses.
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In regards of your last statement that "sometimes there are no good choices".  How about this one.  The belters send a wet team in to kill the leaders of the UW.  No civilians get killed and the only deaths are the team itself since it's a suicide mission.
 
Well, I was talking about the atomic bomb with that statement, not about the impending Ceresian-Terran war. But in any case, killing the UW's leaders wouldn't solve anything. For one thing, it was confirmed that the UW's nominal leader Secretary General Timah is "just the front man for the Powers that Be," so killing him won't change anything. And even if you killed the UW's leaders they would just be replaced. If we use America as an example, there are fully eighteen people in line to succeed the President if the President dies. And finally, even if the leaders were killed, there is no guarantee that their successors will be any more favorably inclined towards freedom or towards Ceres than the previous UW leaders.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Jackson on March 13, 2009, 07:55:59 pm
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Authoritative citation, please. I have never seen a scintilla of evidence of any such leaflets.

They were no different that the normal leaflets issued to warn against US bombings, but they were there. See: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol46no3/article07.html

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The truth is, by the end of the war, Japan could have been brought to its with a simple blockade. When they no longer have fuel and steel, they no longer are a military threat. In other words, there was absolutely no reason to invade Japan to kill and be killed in the hundreds of thousands. No need to kill hundreds of thousands of innocents with atom bombs. None.
 

The Soviet Union was also preparing to invade Japan. If we had chosen not to and had not dropped the atomic bomb, they would have. Just as many people would have died, and then what was left of Japan would have been under the control of Stalin. Things would have been worse, not better.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on March 13, 2009, 08:20:52 pm
The Soviet Union was also preparing to invade Japan. If we had chosen not to and had not dropped the atomic bomb, they would have. Just as many people would have died, and then what was left of Japan would have been under the control of Stalin. Things would have been worse, not better.

I don't know if Papa Joe had any such plans. I wasn't there and Stalin was a paranoid liar. I doubt the Soviets and the wherewithal or that the US would have permitted it. We can speculate forever and never really know. I believe that using the A bomb was monstrously immoral and totally unnecessary murder. You believe it was necessary and justified. Reasonable minds may differ. Unless either of us can come up with a magic bullet, I think further discussion will accomplish little. When we get into the next phase of Harris' actions on Ceres and the responsees, we can discuss the morality of what is done there. The only real question will be, did Sandfort get it right? Is that what could and should have happened?
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Jackson on March 13, 2009, 08:34:14 pm
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Stalin was a paranoid liar.
No argument there.
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Reasonable minds may differ. 
I concur.
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When we get into the next phase of Harris' actions on Ceres and the responsees, we can discuss the morality of what is done there. The only real question will be, did Sandfort get it right? Is that what could and should have happened?
Curse you and your cliffhanger endings! What is Admiral Harris going to do?
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: quadibloc on March 14, 2009, 07:33:13 am
I have learned something. From previous older accounts of the use of the atomic bombs against Japan, I had assumed that shortly before each bomb was dropped, warning leaflets were dropped over the city to be attacked, but somehow they were dropped only shortly ahead of time to prevent allowing defenses against the bombers to be alerted.

There was a leaflet dropped before Hiroshima was bombed, Office of War Information notice 2106. It was first dropped on Japan on the first of August, 1945, and was eventually dropped over 35 Japanese cities, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Obviously, it was unlikely that in a country at war, people in 35 cities would evacuate several days in advance of any bombing, as the authorities would not tolerate such an action.

Wikipedia notes leaflets dropped after Hiroshima but before Nagasaki; again, though, these were leaflets which did not identify the specific city to be bombed next.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on March 14, 2009, 11:01:26 am
quadibloc:  I thought that I knew WW2 history pretty well and I have to tell you that I have never heard of this before.  I'm going to have to check into it before I agree with you.   ???
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on March 14, 2009, 02:46:26 pm
*a little requoting later*

     Next the reason that the Americans won the Revolutionary War was because of the help that the French gave them, which brings up an interesting point that the story hasn't covered yet.  Is there some kind of resistance like the French resistance of WW2 or the Marquis on the UW and will it activate if Ceres is attacked?

Actually, the only reason the centralized military might've needed that much outside assistance was because of idiot generals like Washington.  Washington steadfastly refused to conduct warfare any other way than the traditional "stand up and face your enemy, in battle lines and open fields" manner.  If those militias had, instead, been run as a guerilla-type squad, they'd have been vastly more effective against the British troops, who were also engaging in that traditional "stand up and face your enemy in battle lines and open fields" complete lack of tactics.  People like the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, were conducting their affairs in the "dishonorable" manner of shooting from cover, attacing with guerilla tactics.  Only he was distrusted by his compatriots within the government militias despite numerous "amazing" wins with those tactics.  Imagine if the continental congress had managed to stall itself longer begging and pleading with their masters to not rule them so roughly?  The entire country could've been so tired of both of them it might've just taken to the swamp paths on its own volition, and done it without debt and new government to contend with.

Though it is funny that the French mainly gave assistance to the revolting governments because it ensured that they'd either lose the American revenue by letting the colonies go or lose men and equipment from the european theatre fighting that loss, or best case scenario divert all those resources and still lose the colony revenue.  There's no similar group to my knowledge in the EfT world. 

     What about other colonies like one or more of the Mars colonies?  Will they join the rebellion figuring that this is their best chance to be free?

I'd imagine that they might be a decent credit line at least  :D

*moves onto a general response*

I would say, to the back and forth about the atomic bombs, the intentionally-spawned firestorms, and the targetting of civilians in WWII (and beyond, can anybody say Mai Lei?), it's never excusable to do so.  It's not demoralizing to stand up and say that you are the better man and won't bomb uninvolved parties.  It's all in how you spin it, and the only reason to spin vengeance like that is that you yourself want to bomb those innocent, uninvolved parties.  And the horror of it is that it was totally ineffective.  Seriously.  There was no noticeable difference in the strength of the German military before and after tens of thousands of civilians got bombed.  The war effort continued regardless of how many factory workers were put in caskets.  What had effectiveness in ending it was when Allied command wised up and started listening to its decryption team, and ordered "Butcher" Harris to divert some of those resources he was so intent on wasting on civilian targets to targets that would actually be useful to the war effort.  As for the nuclear bombing?  I don't believe it was necessary, either.  What was "necessary" for the US politicians to secure their place in the new world they were looking forward to building was that they demonstrate just what a nuke can do to a city.  That they show the world the horrors that could be visited upon them should they resist, and that the US would be all too willing to visit them.

If you want to see just how effective it is, look at a few modern examples.  We'll start with 9/11, since there were numerous civilian casualties on our side.  It didn't do anything to dampen the wars following.  We persued a similar strategy in Korea and Vietnam.  Trying to bomb them until they submitted.  North Korea certainly surrendered...  Why, just look at it, all united in one great big freedom-loving country!  Oh, wait...  Vietnam, same difference.  We certainly trounced those commie bastards with bombing and wiping villages off the map. 

There is one reason it's doubtful that we'll ever turn anything into a glass, self-lighting parking lot: it's bad for everybody.  They won't contribute to the glorious continued american empire if they're all dead and all their resources are irretrievable.  And fallout is a bitch.  To pull this back to EfT, one reason it's likely the Cerereans will win?  Harris has an agenda, so long as he's still reasonably under UW control.  That means he can't destroy Ceres and the Belters or they'll lose the revenue they hoped to gain.  So his tactics at worst will be to produce the maximum terror he can in the hopes that the belt will submit.  The Cerereans?  They can push every resource at their command at him.  And they can do it specifically at him.  He's part of a centralized command structure.  Render him unable to continue the fight and there practically isn't a fight.  Trying to combat a decentralized, yet highly coordinated, bunch of Belters would be like trying to make a pool of water submit using only a sword.

There's also the matter of the UW being under the misapprehension that Reggie is a monarch, and thus a single point that can be made to submit to gain the servitude of everyone under him.  That is, ultimately, the weakness of any centralized system.  It has a single failure point.  Even if 90% of the Belters submit to UW rule and UWRS taxation, the UW is in trouble.  So they're going in thinking they're fighting a beast with a face, and instead they're facing a swarm.  So their tactics will be at best ineffective.  And at worst, foolish.  And, though I am expecting UW interference as an ongoing story element, the likelihood of the UW getting thoroughly embarassed by this little venture is going to make them think twice about trying it again.  Plus, they will eventually reach a point that they'll risk spending much more trying to secure the submission of the Belters than they can ever gain back in taxation.  This is the biggest tactic in a war of attrition.  It's why Al Qaida is as big a threat, actually.  The Belters can spend a minimum of resources for a maximum of expense to the UW.  It's why Somalia will likely never be governed again, and the hold governments have in many nations around the planet is tenuous at best.  And why I'm actually hoping that Greece's government falls in relatively short order.  The governments of the world will be spending much more trying to remain government than they can ever extract from the people they're governing.  And then a new world will happen.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on March 14, 2009, 03:15:42 pm
... To pull this back to EfT, one reason it's likely the Cerereans will win?  Harris has an agenda, so long as he's still reasonably under UW control.  That means he can't destroy Ceres and the Belters or they'll lose the revenue they hoped to gain.  So his tactics at worst will be to produce the maximum terror he can in the hopes that the belt will submit.  The Cerereans?  They can push every resource at their command at him.  And they can do it specifically at him.  He's part of a centralized command structure.  Render him unable to continue the fight and there practically isn't a fight.  Trying to combat a decentralized, yet highly coordinated, bunch of Belters would be like trying to make a pool of water submit using only a sword....

Excellent analysis, Laviathan.

... And, though I am expecting UW interference as an ongoing story element...

Ya think?  ;)
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Corydon on March 14, 2009, 03:44:20 pm
Not to distract from the moral mud-slinging (feel free to get back to it after this), but the thing I really liked from today's strip was how the Cereans have utilized the fastest communications system ever devised by man.

Rumor Central. 

Hey, I'm not making fun.  It works...

Indeed!  I can just imagine how it would work. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKhR8QtQ4do&feature=related)  Though I've played enough games of "telephone" to worry that The Earthlings are coming! might end up as Purple banana marzipan!
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Jackson on March 14, 2009, 04:37:04 pm
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That means he can't destroy Ceres and the Belters or they'll lose the revenue they hoped to gain.  So his tactics at worst will be to produce the maximum terror he can in the hopes that the belt will submit.
You assume Admiral Harris is a reasonable person who only cares about the dollar value. This is sometimes true. In the America Revolution, the British gave up because the monetary cost of the war became too high. But, recall Vietnam; While the US did eventually give up, the US spent an enormous amount of blood and treasure trying to win a war that we would not have gained a single dollar from winning before we gave up. More than money is at stake in this war. If the United World lets Ceres get away with defying them, nations on Earth will be tempted to try their luck by rebelling against the UW.
Besides, Admiral Harris doesn’t even have to attack Ceres. The livelihood of most of the Belters is in the asteroid belt. If Harris’s fleet blockades Ceres, the belters will be the ones losing money, since they won’t be able to get to the asteroid belt to mine and they won’t be able to sell their products. At some point it will make more economic sense to pay the UW’s damn taxes. Alternatively, Harris could destroy the Belter’s ships and shipbuilding capability to achieve the same effect. Then again, the UW seems too direct to try something like that.
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Render him unable to continue the fight and there practically isn't a fight.
If you killed Admiral Harris, command would just devolve to his highest ranked subordinate. It would disorient UW forces and help the Belters, true, but knocking out the leader won't disable the UW naval strike force. There are numerous cases throughout history of armies prevailing despite the death of a leader. In fact, in the Peninsula Campaign during the Civil War, the Confederate Leader Joe Johnston was shot and wounded and replaced by a more competent leader, Robert E. Lee. Besides, Admiral Harris is currently on the bridge of the Gamma Conqueror, surrounded by Gamma Conqueror's weapons and armor. He isn't going to be easy to get at unless he leaves that warship.

By the way, I was thinking about Gamma Conqueror. I like the name, but it is an unusual name for a warship, so I thought about the UW's naming convention for warships. I'm probably going out on a limb here, but my thought was that the UW chooses a name for the warship class and uses a Greek letter to indicate the ship's place in the production run; so Gamma Conqueror would be the third Conqueror class warship, produced after Alpha Conqueror and Beta Conqueror. I'm probably wrong, but hey, i'm curious.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on March 14, 2009, 06:40:49 pm
Besides, Admiral Harris doesn’t even have to attack Ceres. The livelihood of most of the Belters is in the asteroid belt. If Harris’s fleet blockades Ceres, the belters will be the ones losing money, since they won’t be able to get to the asteroid belt to mine and they won’t be able to sell their products. At some point it will make more economic sense to pay the UW’s damn taxes. Alternatively, Harris could destroy the Belter’s ships and shipbuilding capability to achieve the same effect. Then again, the UW seems too direct to try something like that.

Belt "geography" doesn't favor that action. The Belt comprises a volume of space that is unimaginably large. Only under unusual circumstances can you even see one asteroid from another. The exceptions, of course, are the dozen or so largest asteroids, and then only when they are near conjunction. The Belters don't need Ceres, but it is large enough to support a sizable population and provided a cheap and easy source of water for reaction mass and other purposes.

Belters do not deliver asteroid carbon, metal, water and other materials to Ceres, except those needed for local consumption. Instead, the asteroid bodies and mined materials are nudged into chaotic transfer orbits and automatically delivered to the ultimate customers. If the UW pisses the Belters off enough, they won't retaliate by send rocks crashing into earth. Instead they will show their displeasure by not delivering the precious materials upon which the earth has become dependent. And they won't take gigs diverting earth-endangering bodies and they won't take gigs cleaning up the junk in near-earth orbit. (Stories on both those services coming up.)

Finally, only a small proportion of Belter ships are on or near Ceres at any given time. Mostly they are out mining or doing other activities. They are spread out over a volume of a zillion cubic kilometers of space. No way the UW's little space navy would ever find even one in ten thousand.


If you killed Admiral Harris, command would just devolve to his highest ranked subordinate. It would disorient UW forces and help the Belters, true, but knocking out the leader won't disable the UW naval strike force.

There are factors you have not considered. Let's see what happens.

By the way, I was thinking about Gamma Conqueror. I like the name, but it is an unusual name for a warship, so I thought about the UW's naming convention for warships. I'm probably going out on a limb here, but my thought was that the UW chooses a name for the warship class and uses a Greek letter to indicate the ship's place in the production run; so Gamma Conqueror would be the third Conqueror class warship, produced after Alpha Conqueror and Beta Conqueror. I'm probably wrong, but hey, i'm curious.

Good question. The naming convention came about sort of by accident. Anyway, now it refers to the size of a ship. Alphas are recon ships and fighters. Betas are larger survey ships and attack vessels. The UW has only one gamma class ship, the Conqueror. It is a dreadnaught and the closest thing the UW has to a Death Star. However, it has one weak spot, a ventilation shaft that leads to the main reactor... uh, just kidding.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on March 14, 2009, 06:48:05 pm
If the belters wet team goes in and kills the leaders of the UW of course they'll be replaced.  And if the next group is stupid enough to continue the war then the belters send another team to kill them.  And if that group is stupid enough to continue the fighting then you kill them.  People in power rarely like being killed for ruling over people who don't like being ruled.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Jackson on March 14, 2009, 07:23:30 pm
Quote
it has one weak spot, a ventilation shaft that leads to the main reactor... uh, just kidding.
Hey, the UW is a statist nation. If Admiral Harris wanted armor protecting the reactor, he should have signed armor requisition form 9281(S).  ;D
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on March 15, 2009, 03:16:06 pm
One wonderful bit of irony just struck me.  The ships that are headed to Ceres for a little shock and awe have a decent likelihood of having been built using materials sold to them by the Belters.  With the added irony that it pretty well means the belters have lasers capable of slicing through any material on it like a hotknife through butter.  But the UW is likely going beyond cutting off its nose to spite its face, it's cutting off its face to spite its head.

I'm sure it's about to be a "Gamma class warship: 0, Belters with repurposed mining equipment: 1" situation, though.  A little like how in the story of when the Pinkertons were called out against striking workers to bust some heads, it's generally untold that the Pinkertons were the ones in trouble.

Jackson, tsk tsk!  You forgot the requisition reciepts from Fleet Provisioning, with a cross-stamp from the Budgetary Control Office.  And three signed approval slips from the General Accounting Office stating that they've acknowledged and logged the potential expenditure.  And the general council control of the provisioning for such a large ship requires at least a one-third minority approval to continue the appropriation deliberation.  Though so long as you can classify it as an emergency expenditure under general order 204.71(l), as ammended in special directive 43.02(r), paragraph three line five, you only need file form 14R7-Z(ers) with a triplicate receipt from the current department of control stamped by the Administrative office chairman, instead of submitting it to the council for a vote.

Watch the movie Brazil.  I think most of the bureaucracy in that was poking a huge jab at the British system, but it really is what would happen with a single overarching bureaucracy like that.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on March 15, 2009, 04:58:58 pm
One wonderful bit of irony just struck me.  The ships that are headed to Ceres for a little shock and awe have a decent likelihood of having been built using materials sold to them by the Belters...

Almost certainly. Betas and the Gamma were never built to operate in atmo. They are assembled and live in space. Hauling steel up the gravity well doesn't make much sense when the sky has all the metal you could ever want.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: KBCraig on March 16, 2009, 02:21:41 am
Quote
Not to distract from the moral mud-slinging (feel free to get back to it after this), but the thing I really liked from today's strip was how the Cereans have utilized the fastest communications system ever devised by man.

Rumor Central.
Well, it probably would have been faster if Ceres Space Traffic Control Center was just linked up to an emergency address system. But you can't really set up such a system without a government.

Really? I get several Porc-411 messages every week that say otherwise. Our t-ball team's mothers are more efficient at spreading urgent messages than the city's "reverse 411" emergency call system.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on March 16, 2009, 02:28:05 pm
BTW, from what's been said previously on the boards about the U-dub's "limited ability to force its will" on the Moon (much less the Belt) and the way the Belters didn't seem real threatened by the gov  (including Friday's "you're not gonna believe what I'm seeing") along with the statement that the Conqueror is the only Gamma-class capital boat in the U-dub's fleet, I take it that this the first time there's really been a full-scale dust-up out in the Big Black (excluding regional skirmishes, anti-piracy ops etc)?  Is there a chance, then, that this is, in fact, a bit of a "test run" by the U-dub as a first step to bring the extra-planetary colonies in line, or do they just want a "short, victorious war", to buy themselves a little more time?

Since this initial go-round will probably go to the Belters, with advantages of home turf and familiarity with their tech, and the U-dub's green forces like-as-not showing all the tactical brilliance of the early months of WWI, the real suspense is for tomorrow is Guy.  The Guy we've seen so far, despite a few romantic fantasies, is primarily a realist and survivor.  Its part of what I like about him (and yeah, you know what, I DO like Guy).  When his interests were forcibly realigned (the barbarians were willing to give him a chance when his corrupt bosses weren't), he rolled with the punch, and did it with style.  Now, for the first time in the story so far, he's presented with a real gamble and I'm interested in which way he'll roll (although if so much as a stray rock musses Fio's hair, he's not likely to be fully rational).

Don't get me wrong, Old Earth won't be out of the game, the only way they can be beaten in the long-term is for the Belters to survive until the collapse the UWRS officials were talking about comes about and even then, it'll be dangerous, a beast that size can still do a fair bit of damage in its death throws.


Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on March 16, 2009, 05:06:49 pm

Excellent analysis of the issues.

BTW, from what's been said previously on the boards about the U-dub's "limited ability to force its will" on the Moon (much less the Belt) and the way the Belters didn't seem real threatened by the gov  (including Friday's "you're not gonna believe what I'm seeing") along with the statement that the Conqueror is the only Gamma-class capital boat in the U-dub's fleet, I take it that this the first time there's really been a full-scale dust-up out in the Big Black (excluding regional skirmishes, anti-piracy ops etc)?  Is there a chance, then, that this is, in fact, a bit of a "test run" by the U-dub as a first step to bring the extra-planetary colonies in line, or do they just want a "short, victorious war", to buy themselves a little more time?

Since this initial go-round will probably go to the Belters, with advantages of home turf and familiarity with their tech, and the U-dub's green forces like-as-not showing all the tactical brilliance of the early months of WWI, the real suspense is for tomorrow is Guy.  The Guy we've seen so far, despite a few romantic fantasies, is primarily a realist and survivor.  Its part of what I like about him (and yeah, you know what, I DO like Guy).  When his interests were forcibly realigned (the barbarians were willing to give him a chance when his corrupt bosses weren't), he rolled with the punch, and did it with style.  Now, for the first time in the story so far, he's presented with a real gamble and I'm interested in which way he'll roll (although if so much as a stray rock musses Fio's hair, he's not likely to be fully rational).

Don't get me wrong, Old Earth won't be out of the game, the only way they can be beaten in the long-term is for the Belters to survive until the collapse the UWRS officials were talking about comes about and even then, it'll be dangerous, a beast that size can still do a fair bit of damage in its death throws.



Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on March 17, 2009, 01:31:04 am
A lot of people seem to have this odd belief that everything is more efficient if there's only one place you get it from.  To those people, I would suggest looking back at the number of news stories that were out and circulating online hours, even days, before they were broken even by mainstream sources.  Some have never been, because they were too fringe or niche.  Emergency address systems that are centralized have the problem that there's nothing keeping them efficient at providing emergency warning in a timely fashion because there's nobody they have to beat to the punch, and it's their judgement whether or not something merits an emergency notification.

I'll give one example of a total failure of an emergency address system.  A number of years back, there was a minor dispute between three weather stations on whether or not a given bit of cloud cover posed a tornado risk.  One station's meteorologist said absolutely yes, though he was using older equipment.  The other two, using newer equipment, said no.  So a warning was not put out.  A massive tornado ripped through a town right where the station's meteorologist with the older equipment said there was a high risk of tornado formation.  There was a moderate scandal because nobody was prepared, so lots of people died.  

Now, had the system been decentralized?  The weather station which was reporting the risk would've probably had its own customer base.  It could've called them, and if their friends were on a different service not reporting a risk they could've informed, and so on.  Then when the dust clears, if there wasn't really significant risk the chicken little company would've lost customers if it's putting out lots of false alarms.  Or vice versa, the one(s) which clearly failed to be an adequate notifier would lose customers.  There could even be aggregate companies that are subscribers to multiple ones that cover the areas they serve, listing who has and hasn't issued a warning and let their customers decide from that whether there's acceptable risk or not.  The point is, multiply redundant information pathways spread information faster, and more information, than a single centralized authority on whether the information should go out.  If the information load is too great, there's even services that help you sort it.  Google, anybody?  I'd have a hard time even finding out information on current events in Somalia if it weren't for online news sources.
Title: April 6
Post by: quadibloc on April 06, 2009, 07:36:15 am
P.S. You are really going to hate how this arc ends.

I was wondering how this could be true, since while I objected to the real-world reference, and am not a Libertarian, I was still rooting for your "good guys" even if I thought their form of government might not be the best solution for everyone. (How it could be applied to the circumstances of an overcrowded Earth that let itself drift into something like the UW, for example, is not easy to answer.)

The page for April 6, however, is suggesting to me one way in which this could be true.

No extinction-level event for Earth. Just mass suicide for Ceres.

I don't view that as a likely defense option for such survival-oriented creatures as humans, the motto "Live Free or Die" notwithstanding. Because of this characteristic of humans, a suicide weapon is not really a way that a country can defend itself from being terrorized or intimidated - only the ability to resist and strike back as best one can works in practice.
Title: Re: April 6
Post by: SandySandfort on April 06, 2009, 12:43:47 pm
No extinction-level event for Earth. Just mass suicide for Ceres.

Perhaps there is a middle ground.

I don't view that as a likely defense option for such survival-oriented creatures as humans, the motto "Live Free or Die" notwithstanding. Because of this characteristic of humans, a suicide weapon is not really a way that a country can defend itself from being terrorized or intimidated - only the ability to resist and strike back as best one can works in practice. [My emphasis added. SS]

Herein may lie the conceptual mismatch. Ceres is not a country. That is why it cannot surrender. During WWII, the French people did not surrender to the Germans, their government did. Easy Peasy for the Germans compared to having to conquer individuals and groups of French people working against them. It's the same reason that the Russians could never defeat the Afghanis. If Ceres had a government supported by law abiding citizen units, Harris' approach would be perfect. Since none of those conditions obtain, he is now in uncharted waters.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on April 06, 2009, 03:18:42 pm
Is Reggie going to suicide-scuttle the Conqueror with a mining limpet?
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 06, 2009, 06:30:38 pm
Is Reggie going to suicide-scuttle the Conqueror with a mining limpet?

That's a possibility...
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Monkt on April 07, 2009, 12:03:41 am
Is Reggie going to suicide-scuttle the Conqueror with a mining limpet?

That's a possibility...
That means yes.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: ConditionOne on April 07, 2009, 06:20:41 am
If Reggie takes out Harris and his flagship, I kinda hope the remaining ships attempt a land assault on Ceres--And the Cereans(?) outshoot them like the Boers did the Brits in the Boer war.  I can imagine the Assault commander last words being: "Forward soldiers! these Cereans cannot hit the broad side of a ....BLAM!"
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 07, 2009, 09:31:05 am
Is Reggie going to suicide-scuttle the Conqueror with a mining limpet?

That's a possibility...
That means yes.

Really? Are you sure? Have you considered any other possibilities such as our literary misdirection? Of course this post could be the misdirection. Life and fiction can be complicated.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on April 07, 2009, 01:53:34 pm
ConditionOne: I think that IF (yes, Sandy, I understand this is an "if"), Reggie takes out Harris (with or without the Conqueror), what ol' Uniform Whiskey (also still experimenting with nicknames for the UW, 'cause just calling them the "ew" gets a little too close to the heart of it) does is gonna depend on the officer to whom command devolves.  Is he hungrier for the carrot or more afraid of the stick?

If its the carrot (Think Sherman)  that is, an ambitious up-and-comer who sees a chance to take command, then he'll probably try to pick up where Harris left off, and maybe even try a landing.  Same ending if its a hard-core, nail-eating "For People and Planet" patriot, who still has that Academy-fresh 'new officer smell' who's gonna want revenge for striking down fellow U-dubs.  Then, yeah, ugliness ensues.

If its the stick, that is, a desk-flying career chair-warmer (a U-dub specialty) (think McClellan), he's gonna see several hundred million continentals worth of hardware and a headline "Vice-Admiral [Your Name Here] LOSES several hundred million C's of hardware" on UNN and pull back, probably radio home for instructions so as to not  take the heat if something goes wrong.

'Course, the ball's in Reggie's court now and whatever happens next happens as a reaction, The U-dub's institutional inertia is pretty high and so they're not long on proactivity, even this invasion's a reaction to a crisis back home

 ... God (and Sandy) may not play dice with the universe, but that sure doesn't stop us from puttin' our money down on it...
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 07, 2009, 02:40:44 pm
ConditionOne: I think that IF (yes, Sandy, I understand this is an "if"), Reggie takes out Harris (with or without the Conqueror), what ol' Uniform Whiskey (also still experimenting with nicknames for the UW, 'cause just calling them the "ew" gets a little too close to the heart of it) does is gonna depend on the officer to whom command devolves...

Makes sense to me.

'Course, the ball's in Reggie's court now...

It would certainly seem so.

... God (and Sandy) may not play dice with the universe, but that sure doesn't stop us from puttin' our money down on it...

Absolutely. Rock on.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on April 07, 2009, 05:16:10 pm
Takin' bets now via e-gold!  Place your bets!  I pay 5:1 the UW wins outright and the comic ends!  1:1.1 that Ceres finds some way to get a one-up on the UW!  Place yer bets!
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: quadibloc on April 10, 2009, 08:52:31 am
I'm glad that Guy spoke up today (Friday, April 10), since it was clear enough that this was Reginald's plan yesterday.

Emotion, as well as logic, has to be considered. The UW media has already made false claims about Ceres forces holding Guy hostage. Assuming that the UW is reasonably close to our own time, if the flagship of the attacking force is destroyed by a suicide bomber, the likely result would be that the UW would have no difficulty in mustering broad public support for a genocidal response.

Of course, since it is free to tell lies, it isn't completely clear that anything they do or don't do will really affect the UW's freedom of action by this mechanism; which seems to leave superiority of force as their only strategy, yet that is the one thing they do not have.

But then, the good guys always have to seem to be at a disadvantage; that is what makes for an exciting story.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 10, 2009, 10:29:55 am
... if the flagship of the attacking force is destroyed by a suicide bomber, the likely result would be that the UW would have no difficulty in mustering broad public support for a genocidal response.

a) The Gamma warship is in their skies NOW. The best course of action is to eliminate the immediate threat immediately, then make plans to deal with future consequences.
b) The UW has only one Gamma--that's all that's needed to keep breakaway areas on Terra in line. Destroying the Gamma significantly decreases the the UW's capacity for genocide.
c) Ceres is 265 million kilometers from Terra, at the closest. It's 565 kilometers at its furthest point in orbit. That's a mighty long supply line.
 
And all of this just addresses Ceres. The rest of the Belt would not take kindly to any attack on Ceres. In sum, blowing up the Gamma Conqueror would make excellent tactical AND strategic sense.


But then, the good guys always have to seem to be at a disadvantage; that is what makes for an exciting story.

Uh, maybe... ::)
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 10, 2009, 10:53:23 am
I'm finding it a little hard to believe that the plan to blow up the GC is going to succeed.  For one thing they're going there on one of the UW shuttles and unless I am very wrong the security that will be bringing him up is going to search him for weapons before they get there.  Secondly, what if they handcuff his hands behind his back which is standard procedure nowadays.  He won't be able to reach the bomb.  Don't think Reggie's plan is going to work.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: enemyofthestate on April 10, 2009, 01:42:37 pm
Well, it probably would have been faster if Ceres Space Traffic Control Center was just linked up to an emergency address system. But you can't really set up such a system without a government.

I  was a little surprised there isn't an emergency broadcast systems of some kind.  Most of the Ceres colony seems to be underground but I'll wager the ships prospectors use are not shielded against the particles from a major solar flare.  Since FTL communication is assumed a highly reliable solar watch observatory is practical.

Also, are the reaction drives fusion powered?  I get the impression they are.  A plasma exhaust is dangerous to unshielded humans (like a really hot flare but on a much smaller scale) for at least few hundred kilometers.  A pilot of a ship might appreciate a warning to alter course and avoid one.  I'm quite sure the passengers would.

Which suggest a plan B in case King Reginald fails.

BTW, I'm guessing Reginald's nuke is a single stage fusion device?  Be much harder to detect.  Especially if it doesn't require tritium.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: quadibloc on April 10, 2009, 04:52:29 pm
In sum, blowing up the Gamma Conqueror would make excellent tactical AND strategic sense.

Oh, I don't deny that. My point was merely that it might matter how they blew it up, and that it would be helpful to avoid doing so in a way that was reminiscent of the terrorists of the past.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on April 11, 2009, 03:59:44 am
EotS,
They've got the grapevine.  So long as information *sources* are on the grapevine, it can be much more efficient at spreading info than a single alert system.  In short, just because nobody can cut into a broadcast to try and disseminate the emergency information doesn't mean there isn't an effective way for info to propagate in an emergency.  Plus, skywatch type services are likely part of any collision defense contracts.

Constant acceleration/deceleration (no artificial gravity has presented itself in the SL, and the ship Guy and Fiorella came in on worked that way) pretty much requires something like a fusion burner.  With chemical reactions, the fuel is just too low in energy density to make sense hauling it around.  There's no solar sails.  The only possibility that remains is if ion drives somehow get improved to the point of providing more than a tiny fraction of a G acceleration.  And those would still need a power source with a pretty high energy density, heh.  But I'd think any spaceship that has to operate even in case of solar flare would be shielded against much more than some puny little fusion rocket could put out.  But *shrug* aint my universe at play, heh.

Whaddya say, sandy?  Microfusion?  Or a fissile reaction mass pushed past critical by a neutron gun or something like that, a la the baby nukes from Starship Troopers (the book)?

quadibloc,
If life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.  If life hands you an asshole willing to murder thousands of uninvolved parties to gain submission, a unique ship, and an invitation into the murderer's presence, sometimes you have to make peace with the unpleasant connotations to suicide attacks.  If there isn't another solution for the Gamma Conqueror's threat, then there's not much choice.  But there very well might be.  Hell, one possibility is if they could broadcast their own refutation of the UW's propaganda back to Terra, it might put enough egg on the UW's face to get Harris recalled.

Rocketman,
It's unlikely the bomb is even configured to have a manual detonator of that type.  It's a mining implement, after all.  And you don't normally want to be standing next to a micronuke of any type when it goes off.  Just calculate when the shuttle's taking off, how long it'll take to dock with the GC, and add a small margin for error.  Maybe even somebody on Ceres with a remote detonator.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 11, 2009, 08:36:26 am
Whaddya say, sandy?  Microfusion?  Or a fissile reaction mass pushed past critical by a neutron gun or something like that, a la the baby nukes from Starship Troopers (the book)?

"Mr. Fusion"?   ;)

... suicide attacks.  If there isn't another solution for the Gamma Conqueror's threat, then there's not much choice. 

I'm not sure why people get so bent out of shape by the concept of a suicide attack, per se. The morality of the action has to do with the nature of the victims, not the method. Getting on a school bus in Israel with the intent to kill innocent children is abhorrent. Sacrificing yourself to blow up a legitimate military target, such as the Gamma Conqueror, is heroic; stupid maybe, but heroic.

But there very well might be.  Hell, one possibility is if they could broadcast their own refutation of the UW's propaganda back to Terra, it might put enough egg on the UW's face to get Harris recalled.

Good idea, but not very effective. Radio is out of the question because of the distance. Tanglenet would be great if UW comms weren't equipped with a back door and a "v chip" that makes it possible to censor tanglenet sites and transmissions.

It's unlikely the bomb is even configured to have a manual detonator of that type.  It's a mining implement, after all.  And you don't normally want to be standing next to a micronuke of any type when it goes off.  Just calculate when the shuttle's taking off, how long it'll take to dock with the GC, and add a small margin for error.  Maybe even somebody on Ceres with a remote detonator.

Maybe...
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on April 11, 2009, 12:29:55 pm
Don't know its contempt for the tactic that drives my own dislike, its losing Reg.  Next to Guy, I think he's my favorite character so far.  I mean, C'mon, he's the guy who gave the original story its title.  "World Ceres Pennant"?  Heh.

Fortunately for us (and especially Reg), we've gotten past "Confused Moral Quandary" Guy and back to "Smarter then he looks" Guy.  Guy's adaptable, he's made some missteps, but for the most part he's rolled with the punches from both sides.  I think this is a good time to take him 'off-the-leash'.

Hell, he's got to be the main character of this story for a reason, right?
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 11, 2009, 12:56:56 pm

Rocketman,
It's unlikely the bomb is even configured to have a manual detonator of that type.  It's a mining implement, after all.  And you don't normally want to be standing next to a micronuke of any type when it goes off.  Just calculate when the shuttle's taking off, how long it'll take to dock with the GC, and add a small margin for error.  Maybe even somebody on Ceres with a remote detonator.

Had not even occurred to me but your absolutely right.  Should have considered that and I didn't.   :-[  Based on that I would now give about even money to it succeeding.  If I were Reggie though I would try to put some kind of cover over the bomb so it's lines weren't as visible.  Something like on TV or the movies when they show a woman who isn't really pregnant but who needs to appear to be.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Sean Roach on April 11, 2009, 03:55:37 pm
Don't you know any attack on any target, regardless of whether or not it's military or not, is cowardly if you don't stand in formation and shoot at the grunts?  Never the leadership?  And announce your attention to do so beforehand?  AND have a centralized control newspaper or television network on your side?

Here's a harebrained idea.  Dress the thing up to look like a scepter, add a gilt crown and heavy necklace.  Put it in a felt lined box and drop it off AS the surrender.  Have Guy bring it, saying the king will follow shortly once the proper forms have been covered, one of those being a 'writ of conquest' signed by the new governor...which Guy has to return with, he being the designated go-between.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: enemyofthestate on April 11, 2009, 08:00:43 pm
They've got the grapevine.  So long as information *sources* are on the grapevine, it can be much more efficient at spreading info than a single alert system.  In short, just because nobody can cut into a broadcast to try and disseminate the emergency information doesn't mean there isn't an effective way for info to propagate in an emergency.  Plus, skywatch type services are likely part of any collision defense contracts.

That's not what I was writing about but I think I'll just drop the while thing, anyways.  I ran numbers on the performance of the "burner" -- delta V, mass ratio, specific impulse, etc -- and I think it is time to not let the facts get in the way of the story.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 12, 2009, 02:00:52 am
Don't know its contempt for the tactic that drives my own dislike, its losing Reg.  Next to Guy, I think he's my favorite character so far. 

Yeah, but how about that Fiorella?   :o
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 12, 2009, 02:04:53 am
Here's a harebrained idea.  Dress the thing up to look like a scepter, add a gilt crown and heavy necklace...

DAMN! That's a good one. I wish I'd thought of that. Very cool.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on April 12, 2009, 04:18:33 am
Heh, agreed on the cool factor for that idea.  But such a scepter would certainly make one wonder if it's overcompensation for something.  Very top-heavy  ::)  It looks like it would fit very nicely into a pope-style crown, though  ;)

And Fiorella is temporarily out-of-comic.  So she seems a bit less main, and had a bit of the sidekick effect before then anyway.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 12, 2009, 10:13:59 am
And Fiorella is temporarily out-of-comic.  So she seems a bit less main, and had a bit of the sidekick effect before then anyway.

The characters of EFT are an ensemble. Fiorella will be back pretty soon, so will Bert, Ernie and both Babbettes. Along the way we will meet new characters who will have their stories to tell. In the end I think we will create a broad, textured tapestry of lives and events in the EFT universe. (Plus there will be plenty of hot girls for Lee to breathe life into ;).)
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: wdg3rd on April 12, 2009, 01:00:47 pm

I  was a little surprised there isn't an emergency broadcast systems of some kind.  Most of the Ceres colony seems to be underground but I'll wager the ships prospectors use are not shielded against the particles from a major solar flare.  Since FTL communication is assumed a highly reliable solar watch observatory is practical.

Who's paying for it?  Whoever wants it has to have a bake sale or something.
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Also, are the reaction drives fusion powered?  I get the impression they are.  A plasma exhaust is dangerous to unshielded humans (like a really hot flare but on a much smaller scale) for at least few hundred kilometers.  A pilot of a ship might appreciate a warning to alter course and avoid one.  I'm quite sure the passengers would.

Mox nix how the engines are powered.  Fission, fusion or chemical.  A reaction engine is a usable weapon in vacuum..  I suspect that most here have read some of Larry Niven's works, it's called "The Kzinti Lesson" in _Ringworld_ et seq.
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Which suggest a plan B in case King Reginald fails.

I suspect that there are a couple of mass-drivers on Ceres.  It's a cheap way to get a cargo from a low-gravity spot (Ceres) to a hole (Earth).

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BTW, I'm guessing Reginald's nuke is a single stage fusion device?  Be much harder to detect.  Especially if it doesn't require tritium.

We'll have to wait and see what Sandy and Scott decide here.  (0r actually what they've already decided, since they're a few days ahead of the rest of us).  (But I've noticed that our feedback affects the ongoing story -- unlike R,T or TPB, this one isn't already written with a specific end point however the authors and artist might want one eventually [Alex Raymond got real tired of Flash Gordon after a few years {an example that comes to mind because I just reread the novelization of the movie with the Queen soundtrack --  come to think, Brian May could write a great backup for a live-action or animated version of this strip]).
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 12, 2009, 01:50:05 pm
Don't you know any attack on any target, regardless of whether or not it's military or not, is cowardly if you don't stand in formation and shoot at the grunts?  Never the leadership?  And announce your attention to do so beforehand?  AND have a centralized control newspaper or television network on your side?

Here's a harebrained idea.  Dress the thing up to look like a scepter, add a gilt crown and heavy necklace.  Put it in a felt lined box and drop it off AS the surrender.  Have Guy bring it, saying the king will follow shortly once the proper forms have been covered, one of those being a 'writ of conquest' signed by the new governor...which Guy has to return with, he being the designated go-between.
  I assume that your being ficticious about the standing in formation and shoot at the grunts part.  That hasn't worked since the American revolution and is unlikely to be tried ever again, at least by anyone with any common sense.  But it does remind me of a semi-funny story.  Back in the 1930's during American prohibition when there was a lot of rum running across the border with Mexico, an American Border Patrol agent got into a shoot-out with a Mexican Rum runner and in doing so both of them were hit by the other.  Both of them with in heavy brush laying near each other but just out of sight.  The American yelled out in Spanish.  "Okay, amigo, I know that I hit you and you know that you hit me."  "We can both either lay here bleeding to death or we can settle this like men and both of us stand up on the count of three and the winner can go get some medical help."  "One,  two,  three."  The American reported later that the Mexican stood up and the American promply shot him.   In other words, "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always, always cheat".
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Sean Roach on April 12, 2009, 03:50:55 pm
I was being faceceous, but making the point that the people who have the cameras, or at least control access to the negatives, decide who is a good guy and who is a bad guy.
It doesn't matter that the Gamma Destroyer declared de-facto war on Ceres by destroying a civilian target, if they lose Earth's government will scream foul.
And no amount of hoops the Cereans jump through, including suicidal ones, will allow them to avoid being labeled terrorists and insurgents if Earth's government choose to paint them in that light.  The only thing that MIGHT is sufficient counter-propaganda, and that'd work even if they rendered infants to make the thrusters used to aim heavy asteroids at major civilian population centers.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: quadibloc on April 13, 2009, 10:22:17 pm
I'm not sure why people get so bent out of shape by the concept of a suicide attack, per se. The morality of the action has to do with the nature of the victims, not the method. Getting on a school bus in Israel with the intent to kill innocent children is abhorrent. Sacrificing yourself to blow up a legitimate military target, such as the Gamma Conqueror, is heroic; stupid maybe, but heroic.

My point is that in these matters, people will often think emotionally rather than rationally.

The immediate tactical situation, of course, takes priority over longer-range issues like propaganda.

Don't you know any attack on any target, regardless of whether or not it's military or not, is cowardly if you don't stand in formation and shoot at the grunts?  Never the leadership?  And announce your attention to do so beforehand?  AND have a centralized control newspaper or television network on your side?

Although you're being ironic (or, as someone noted, facetious), that just about is precisely the standard that has been applied in the past, that people are used to, and that the Cereans will face being judged by. But while the people of Earth can be fooled, the people of Mars and so on will know better.

So the question is: will Ceres be able to win the war to such an extent that it doesn't matter that the UW has its people behind it?

Winning a battle is not the same as winning the war, and Earth has a lot of resources available to it. Also, dictatorships often collapse when they can't deliver, so one expects the UW leadership to be willing to expend disproportionate effort and take serious risks to defeat Ceres.

Defeating the immediate threat may be enough, for example, if Earth is critically dependent on trade with Mars. Given that the story is intended to support the idea of an alternative to Big Government, I expect it to end with the UW being defeated in some way that falls short of the sort of damage it usually took a Big Government to inflict - and this is reinforced by the statement that the talk of an "extinction-level event" was a bluff, that the Cereans reject such a profoundly immoral means of fighting. But that isn't to say that I'm inclined to view such an ending as "realistic", especially in the real world.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 14, 2009, 03:03:15 pm
Today's posting indicates that the individuals on Ceres are planning individual retribution on the Gamma Conqueror.  This is one time when organization is superior to individual action.  Remember that there are six other UW vessels out there with unknown capabilities.  Instead of expending all of their ammo and so on against just one target, they would be better off targeting as many of them as possible.  If you make a surprise attack against the UW you would want to hurt it as much as possible.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on April 14, 2009, 06:29:09 pm
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This is one time when organization is superior to individual action. 

That is possible.  However, it's not really on the menu, withing the setting, the Cereans' individualism is taken as a given, part of the landscape, just like the U-dub's corruption. 

You don't go to war with the army you want, you go to war with the army you have.  And what they have is Cereans...
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on April 14, 2009, 06:46:47 pm
I'm not sure why people get so bent out of shape by the concept of a suicide attack, per se. The morality of the action has to do with the nature of the victims, not the method. Getting on a school bus in Israel with the intent to kill innocent children is abhorrent. Sacrificing yourself to blow up a legitimate military target, such as the Gamma Conqueror, is heroic; stupid maybe, but heroic.

I, for one, didn't get bent out of shape because of the concept of a suicide attack; I found myself irritated >:(  that this seemed to be Reggie's first response.  I would have thought that Reggie would have considered a suicide attack as a response of last resort, but surely he would have gotten together the folks from the original "council" at a minimum discussed options before deciding to pursue the suicide route.  After all, it wasn't even his idea for him to be the "pretender to the throne"  ;D

Dress the thing up to look like a scepter, add a gilt crown and heavy necklace.  Put it in a felt lined box and drop it off AS the surrender.

Good idea, although the nuke would be much better disguised as a "soveregn's orb" than a scepter; this would have been a nice homage to the "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch" in Monty Python and The Holy Grail.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 14, 2009, 07:10:10 pm

You don't go to war with the army you want, you go to war with the army you have.  And what they have is Cereans...
True but you would have thought that at least one of them would have said to another "If you have a automated shuttle with a nuke on board, that should take care of the Gamma Conqueror."  "My mining laser will target the nearest troop transport as soon as you do."


I, for one, didn't get bent out of shape because of the concept of a suicide attack; I found myself irritated >:(  that this seemed to be Reggie's first response. 
This wasn't Reggie's first response.  Remember that Reggie tried to reason with Harris and that strategy totally failed.  Like I said before in an eariler post.  The only thing that will bring a facist tyrant like Harris arround is a figurative 2 X 4 right between the eyes.  Nothing else is going to work.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on April 14, 2009, 07:36:52 pm
This wasn't Reggie's first response.  Remember that Reggie tried to reason with Harris and that strategy totally failed.  Like I said before in an eariler post.  The only thing that will bring a facist tyrant like Harris arround is a figurative 2 X 4 right between the eyes.  Nothing else is going to work.

I actually meant his first response once peaceful efforts were off the table.  The "agreement to surrender" act was fine; I would have expected Reggie to first think about how to destroy (or disable, but destroy is perfectly acceptable) the GC without the suicidal approach, and if no other good ideas came up go with the suicide bombing.

Reggie has every right to kill himself, but absolutely no obligation to do so.  It's an option, but it's not clearly the best option available.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: wdg3rd on April 14, 2009, 09:15:08 pm

Reggie has every right to kill himself, but absolutely no obligation to do so.  It's an option, but it's not clearly the best option available.

It may not be the best option, but considering the dickheads on the other side, it might be the only one that will work.

It's a culture he has lived in for decades where your life is your own responsibility.  He is free to decide the time and manner of his death.  It may be that preserving the culture he loves is an adequate reason.  Damn sure that these days there are enough suicide bombers willing to die to preserve crappier systems.  I'm an atheist and an anarchist so I have no idea what it means to commit suicide for a god or a government, but I'll do it for friends and my [by choice, not necessarily blood] family.  There are several members of my family in these forums.  [Choice, not genetics, my blood relatives aren't big on reading and most of them are welcome to go to whatever hell is willing to put up with them (especially my oldest {a year younger than me} sister's twin sons and their mother)].  But I count Neil, Cathy and Rylla in my family, as well as most of the Liberty Round Table and a lot of the Free State Project.  Oh, and a bunch of Prometheus winners (most of whom I can call friends, and at least half of whom I can call family, I've bought drinks for well over half of them including several who are no longer with us).  Makes for a big family..
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 14, 2009, 09:53:17 pm
Today's posting indicates that the individuals on Ceres are planning individual retribution on the Gamma Conqueror.  This is one time when organization is superior to individual action. 

What makes you think they can't be organized? Sure, they are anarchists, but that doesn't mean they cannot be organized. We've already said it in the strip. Anarchy doesn't mean no rules, it just means no rulers.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on April 15, 2009, 11:02:29 am
Two things to ruminate over...

1) Until we see it on the screen, the 'suicide' option is only that, an option,  a strong option, but an option.  All we know is that Reg has got a nuke under his suit.  We don't know what precisely he means to do with it.  Now, granted, there's a pretty good possibility that its what we think it is.  However, it would also be entirely 'in-setting' for the Cerean (especially Reg) to have a clever, eleventh-hour, dodge to keep from cacking it himself.  I mean, c'mon, thinking outside the box is the whole point of being a freedom-lovin', gun-totin' Cerean, isn't it?

2) While Cereans may not have "rulers", it doesn't mean that they don't have leaders, as individuals they are free  to follow or listen if they chose.  Even Anarchists allow persuasion (I think).  Rulership is an artifact of certain kinds of subsistence systems (a discussion for another time) but leadership is universal.  That being said, from the evidence we've been shown, Reg is one of those voices most listened to (compare Reg to "Shoulda thrown him out an airlock" guy in the meetings).  But he leads by knowing his people.  Reg knows where every eye in the Belt is pointed (at the big-ass Death Star-style thing that's started blowing stuff up) and he knows that if those eyes see an opening, they'll take it.  Reg does not act alone, and he knows it.  Even if all his move does is damage a shuttle and distract Uniform Whiskey for a moment, that'll be a win, because he knows the rest of the Belt will get their shots in at that point...
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 15, 2009, 03:52:15 pm
Reggie has every right to kill himself, but absolutely no obligation to do so.  It's an option, but it's not clearly the best option available.
Not the best option?  He knows that Harris intends at some point to turn him over to his master's at the UW where there will be a show trial and he will be executed.  If he's going to die then Reggie has decided to take some of the bastards with him.  Given the circumstances that is the best of Reggie's options.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on April 15, 2009, 05:18:34 pm
Not the best option?  He knows that Harris intends at some point to turn him over to his master's at the UW where there will be a show trial and he will be executed.  If he's going to die then Reggie has decided to take some of the bastards with him.  Given the circumstances that is the best of Reggie's options.

Not clearly the best option.  If there is are options which ends up with Harris and the GC destroyed and Reggie as well as everyone else on Ceres alive and well, then one of those would be the best option.  Such options may or may not exist; if they do not then a suicide bombing being the best option becomes more clear.

The suicide bombing option is a starting point from which I would expect Reggie to immediately look for an alternative which did not involve his own death (or other Cereans, or more damage to their property).  There's been no indication that Reggie was looking forward to dying before this, so it seems reasonable to assume that he would not prefer this solution now.  I am disappointed that Reggie appears to be so stupid -- I would really expect clearer thinking by him.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 15, 2009, 07:40:30 pm
Not clearly the best option.  If there is are options which ends up with Harris and the GC destroyed and Reggie as well as everyone else on Ceres alive and well, then one of those would be the best option.  Such options may or may not exist; if they do not then a suicide bombing being the best option becomes more clear.

The suicide bombing option is a starting point from which I would expect Reggie to immediately look for an alternative which did not involve his own death (or other Cereans, or more damage to their property).  There's been no indication that Reggie was looking forward to dying before this, so it seems reasonable to assume that he would not prefer this solution now.  I am disappointed that Reggie appears to be so stupid -- I would really expect clearer thinking by him.
Give me a logical and reasonable solution of exactly how he does that.  In detail please.  I'm not saying that there isn't such a thing, but I don't see it.  He doesn't have time to built a life size robot of himself, travel in time to before the attack so he could warn everyone or place a computer virus aboard the ship that will open all of the GC's airlocks at the touch of a button.  Any delay on his part of showing up will just bring a retaliation.  He's left with a lot of bad choices.  Kind of like the Kobiashi Maru, it's not a test of experience but of character.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on April 15, 2009, 08:02:02 pm
Give me a logical and reasonable solution of exactly how he does that.  In detail please.  I'm not saying that there isn't such a thing, but I don't see it.  He doesn't have time to built a life size robot of himself, travel in time to before the attack so he could warn everyone or place a computer virus aboard the ship that will open all of the GC's airlocks at the touch of a button.  Any delay on his part of showing up will just bring a retaliation.  He's left with a lot of bad choices.  Kind of like the Kobiashi Maru, it's not a test of experience but of character.

Step one:  Call the Guzmans, brief them and tell them to come over to the "church".  Let others who might help know too.
Step two:  Call other folks he thinks might help; same thing.
Step three:  Wait 50 minutes or so, welcoming and starting people thinking as they arrive.
Step four: Start the meeting.  Let everyone know that, worst case, he is willing to sacrifice himself if someone gets him a pocket nuke; note that he'd like a better solution.  Note that he didn't want to be "King", but he went along with it for the good of the colony, and ask others to help step up and address Harris' "high stick".
Step five:  Brainstorm.
Step six: Pick best solution found, proceed.

Logical and reasonable solution, Q.E.D.

Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 16, 2009, 10:33:22 am
That's dodging my question.  I asked how he was going to solve this mess without getting himself killed, not going to ask someone else for advice.  What you advocate is going to take all of the time that they have until Reggie has to leave or face retribution so they wouldn't have the time to implement any of the suggestions even if they (highly unlikely) came up with one in the first place.
  Let me put this another way.  Tell me what you would do if you were Reggie and you had just had the meeting.  What plan would you have?  :-[
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: cyberbard on April 16, 2009, 11:29:21 am
What gets me is that, apparently, Reggie didn't expect Harris and co. to detect his weapon before he had a chance to deploy or use it.  That strikes me as a huge oversight on his part, and he underestimated Harris.  I'll even go so far as to say that if Reggie expected to simply stroll into a military transport with a small nuke, and expect it to remain undetected until he throws the switch, then he was off his rocker!

Think about it another way.  Harris' people are professional military.  They would have all kinds of tools and equipment that is explicitly designed to detect or disable an opponent's weapons.  And personally, if my adversary told me that he would personally surrender, I would automatically assume he's got a trick up his sleeve, and I would take every precaution I could think of.  Turning on the sensors would be at the top of the list! Perhaps I'm just paranoid, but Reggie's actions would throw up all kinds of red flags for me.

Also consider that Harris came here looking for a fight, so his own arsenal is going to be fully deployed and ready to go.  He wants a reason to start shooting.  Once that nuke is found in Reggie's suit, Harris will have that reason. 

The Belters have better get their other chess pieces in play, and fast.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Corydon on April 16, 2009, 11:46:33 am
What gets me is that, apparently, Reggie didn't expect Harris and co. to detect his weapon before he had a chance to deploy or use it.  That strikes me as a huge oversight on his part, and he underestimated Harris.  I'll even go so far as to say that if Reggie expected to simply stroll into a military transport with a small nuke, and expect it to remain undetected until he throws the switch, then he was off his rocker!

Dollars to donuts that that panel is an authorial bait and switch-- the weapon detected is actually Reggie's sidearm.  Because, you know, carrying guns is such a natural thing for Cerereans that he just plumb forgot about it!  Hahahahahaha.

Still, you'd think that the UW's sensors would pick up nuclear material, too.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on April 16, 2009, 01:12:56 pm
That's dodging my question.  I asked how he was going to solve this mess without getting himself killed, not going to ask someone else for advice.  What you advocate is going to take all of the time that they have until Reggie has to leave or face retribution so they wouldn't have the time to implement any of the suggestions even if they (highly unlikely) came up with one in the first place.
If I am dodging your question, then your question is irrelevant.  My initial claim was that Reggie acted illogically in not looking for alternative solutions in more than the few seconds that he did before deciding on the suicide option.  He knew at that moment that he had hours to come up with the the final strategy, yet he did not use them.

Reggie and crew may or may not have come up with a better solution before the deadline. It was not clear that they would not, however; as I noted his decision was not clearly the correct one (you seem to be reacting as if I had instead said it was clearly not the correct one -- in English, word order matters, and I was quite careful in how I stated it.)


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  Let me put this another way.  Tell me what you would do if you were Reggie and you had just had the meeting.  What plan would you have?  :-[

Let's assume the folks in the room were as bright as we are (at least some of us) on this thread.  One person would have suggested disguising the nuke as a scepter, putting it and the crown in a velvet box and send someone (Guy would probably have volunteered and they would have discusses whether or not they thought that the UW really thought he had been held prisoner or if it were just propaganda for the masses) would take it to him with the Writ of Surrender to be signed.  Someone else (a truly intelligent individual  ;D) would have suggested making it an orb instead -- like in that old movie.

Reggie would really like the idea, and if no objections were raised, they would have gone with that plan.  Reggie would have contacted the GC and informed them his "ministers" required the document to make it official, and they would have moved forward.

After the fact, assuming it worked, Reggie would have held, at his own expense, the largest party Ceres had seen in years.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: quadibloc on April 16, 2009, 08:06:07 pm
Dollars to donuts that that panel is an authorial bait and switch-- the weapon detected is actually Reggie's sidearm.

I'm not thinking that way. What puzzles me, though, is their threat: kill yourself, or we'll shoot you. Unless they have Star Trek-style force fields, removing his pressure suit in hard vacuum... OK, he might have 15 seconds to toss the bomb away and then zip his space suit up, since instant death in vacuum is a myth, but he wouldn't be able to get completely out of it, and handle the bomb really slowly to show he wasn't triggering it, and so on.

Maybe you do have to be right.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Sean Roach on April 17, 2009, 11:33:51 am
I think the ones in the shuttle forgot they weren't in atmosphere anymore, and the consequences of operating in vacuum.  If they have since remembered, they should don their helmets, (since the shape of their necks suggests to me they're wearing suits themselves,) and MAYbe get out of the shuttle after disabling it.  They can shoot Reggie from the nearest ridge if they still feel like following suicidal orders.

Actually, how much radiation is likely to come out of that bomb?  Without an atmosphere to propagate the wavefront, how much explosive power is it likely to really have?  Might they survive by simply donning helmets, committing regicide, and walking away?

No, I'm not rooting for Earth.

Personally, I think this is going to keep Reggie out of the GC until someone elses bright idea rams into/burns through the mothership, stranding our two new colonists.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Scott on April 17, 2009, 12:12:53 pm
Some things to consider ...

The biggest immediate threat to Cerereans is that death-ray on board the Gamma Conqueror. Harris has made an impossible demand -- that the Cererean government surrender to him -- because there is no Cererean government to surrender, but Harris has already shown that he can't wrap his little pea brain around that idea. If Reggie had simply shown up unarmed, the likely end result is that Harris would use that death ray again and again until there was nothing left alive on Ceres.

Therefore, since surrender is in practical terms impossible, the only course for the Cerereans is to take out the Gamma Conqueror. Reggie came up with the only plan he or his friends could think of which had any possibility for accomplishing that.

Consider also Reggie's state of mind at this point -- here he'd thought he'd been so clever to fend off the UWRS with that King of Ceres gag and now the Rose family has been murdered as a consequence. This weighs heavily on Reggie's conscience -- and we really don't know all that much about Reggie, or his past, or all of the thoughts and feelings that are influencing his actions. I think that if you stick with us, in the fullness of time you'll find that this desperate gambit of his will make more sense in retrospect.



Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on April 17, 2009, 09:43:53 pm
In the show, firefly, the Shepherd seemed to be some kind of former Alliance bigwig.  Because of what happened when they saw his identicard.  He gets something resembling an intellectual conscience and retreats to the abby.  Since this doesn't assuage his conscience, he starts travelling to find redemption.  And as of the movie, he ends up thinking he's found it in that one colony.

Reggie has a similar feel.  That maybe he, in his youth, could've been part of such a unit and committed such acts himself.  And now, between the burdens of such senses of responsibility for such actions, it's pushed him to use those tactics against the aggressors instead of the aggressed.  Of course, in a society of sovereigns it's much better if multiple ones won't wait for someone else to do something than assume others will take action.  Reggie's little monarch impersonation got people he cared about killed.  He can't assume someone else will have a great idea for disabling or destroying the GC.  So he takes action.  It might not end in his death, since others assume the burden is solely on their shoulders as well. 

One strength of independent solutions like this without a coordinated, single tactic?  No communication to give it away.  The second is that each one, entrepreneur-style, can fail without knocking out the others or preventing them from being ready.  If you're captured, you can't give away what you don't know.  And nobody knows what everyone else is doing, even if they've been keeping tabs.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 18, 2009, 11:25:27 am
... he [Reggie], in his youth, could've been part of such a unit and committed such acts himself...

It's more complicated than that, but don't worry, relevant events in Reggie's early life will be revealed... in a year or two.

One strength of independent solutions like this without a coordinated, single tactic?  No communication to give it away.  The second is that each one, entrepreneur-style, can fail without knocking out the others or preventing them from being ready.  If you're captured, you can't give away what you don't know.  And nobody knows what everyone else is doing, even if they've been keeping tabs.

Bingo.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: ConditionOne on April 20, 2009, 06:39:41 am
"Now gentlemen, that is desperation" says Harris...."That they could sneak a mutli-meter metal rock up our butt without noticing"

Ahhhh, but just as there is no such thing as one ant, Admiral Harris, I seriously doubt in a mining community there is only one rock. Your world is about to get rocked!
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Leviathan on April 20, 2009, 02:08:57 pm
This ought to be pretty good.  32m/s translates to 115km/h.  The joke is the rock would be breaking the old 55mph limit by going at 70, heh.  Which makes it sound like we haven't actually seen the belters' attack.  The relative paucity of stuff in space says it's no coincidence, but the fact that this is a really really slowball pitch says that whoever sent the rock only intended to get the GC into position for something else.  Such a collision would've been about like a nasty car wreck.  Only the GC almost certainly has a thicker skin than a minivan or even a humvee.  Hmm, it's a nickel-iron rock.  Why am I thinking magnetic accelerator here?  "Dammit, they won't get right in front of it!  *slowball* Ahh, right where I need you.  *WHOOOMMMMMM*"

Edit: zomg...  They're clueless.  Even more clueless than I was.  These are warning shots.  Sent in nearly simultaneous pinpoint accuracy at a speed that a trabant could avoid them.  If I were somehow in a similar situation, I'd be scramming, hitting the burners, wishing the shuttle on the surface good luck, and trying to pinpoint the origin so I could get a nice solid Ceres between me and them.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on April 21, 2009, 10:43:29 am
Harris is an idiot.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on April 21, 2009, 10:51:25 am
You know, I had something a lot more elaborate to say then just "Harris is an idiot" prepared, swear to Bob I did, but...

1) I was floored by Harris' utter dismissiveness.  Seriously, how does a man this TRUSTING get into a position like this?

2) Leviathan said most of it already... (damn you).  With sound effects even.

Ya know, that Harris was gonna get spanked was, to me anyway, kind of a foregone conclusion, he was meant to introduce the U-dub as a real threat, but I really didn't think that it would be so soon, or... if he doesn't get his head out of what is apparently its default position at least up to the eyes pretty soon... so bleeding hard.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Scott on April 21, 2009, 10:57:11 am
Hmmmm... hadn't thought about the rocks breaking the 55mph speed limit. I did pick that speed for a particular reason, though, and in the next day or so that reason will become clear.

Harris' dismissiveness comes from his arrogance, which comes from the fact that the U.W. has been the unchallenged supreme power of Terra for a long time. He is also utterly lacking in intellectual curiosity, as bullies generally are, and this will be developed even more in the next few weeks.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: cyberbard on April 21, 2009, 12:34:05 pm
Right now it looks like the locals are going to annoy Harris to death.  :)

I mean, every time his ships move, more rocks show up.  His ships move, then more rocks show up, causing more moves, then more rocks, more moves, more rocks.... you get the idea.  Eventually he'll tire of playing tennis, and start acting rashly.

I figure he'll get exasperated and start using his doomsday gun.  Or he'll start pissing away his conventional weapons playing Asteroids.  Either way the locals will have bought themselves, at the very least, a lot of time to implement some pretty elaborate stunts.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 21, 2009, 01:19:09 pm
My guess is that the Cereans expected Harris to do exactly just what he did and that those rocks are just a distraction for the real attack.  Like a hostile guy that draws back his right arm in preparation to hit you in the face and then sucker punches you in the gut with his left.  Or possibly those rocks have nukes inside them and will detonate them when they get as close as they can to the UW ships.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: cyberbard on April 21, 2009, 03:23:15 pm
Hmmmm... hadn't thought about the rocks breaking the 55mph speed limit. I did pick that speed for a particular reason, though, and in the next day or so that reason will become clear.

Hmmm... something to do with objects of a certain size, traveling at a certain velocity, and on certain trajectories, will either "bounce" off of Ceres' very thin atmosphere, or do a ricochet around it's magnetic field?  Such rogue rocks may not hit any of Harris' armada, but they will certainly make life difficult for his astrogators.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 21, 2009, 08:01:36 pm
[Hmmm... something to do with objects of a certain size, traveling at a certain velocity, and on certain trajectories, will either "bounce" off of Ceres' very thin atmosphere, or do a ricochet around it's magnetic field? 

Unfortunately, Ceres has neither, but I like your creativity analysis.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Sean Roach on April 21, 2009, 08:50:43 pm
Hmm.  Was Harris on the trajectory that will take those rocks to earth?  It may not be a warning shot to Harris...

They might be small enough, they might burn up on entry, but the next ones don't have to be, and neither do they.  And telling Harris the rocks are on the way, and he can choose between shooting a city or intercepting actual doomsday weapons, might buy a few more days.

Might make more sense to tell the UW, however, and let them ORDER Harris to intercept them.  After all, HIS neck isn't on the line.

P.S.  His microwave gun isn't likely to do much against rocks.  No water to superheat.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: ConditionOne on April 21, 2009, 09:09:16 pm
Pure speculation here, not very familiar with space physics and all--but I wonder if there are Ceres mining ships hiding behind those nickle rocks, using them as a shield.  The nickel rocks may be screwing up Harris's scanners, and if the mining ships can get close enough to use their cutting lasers, welllllll.....
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: ConditionOne on April 23, 2009, 05:57:19 am
AHA! I called it! Go Ceres, GO! GO! GO! FRY EM!
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 23, 2009, 08:53:12 am
AHA! I called it! Go Ceres, GO! GO! GO! FRY EM!

Bravo! Give the man a cigar! Care to guess what happens next?
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: cyberbard on April 23, 2009, 09:16:49 am
Bravo! Give the man a cigar! Care to guess what happens next?

One possible is that the Cerenians will open fire and disable the flagship.  That would result in a lot more shooting, and a lot more deaths, but it would certainly get the point across.

Harris himself will survive, because I suspect the story will require him to be around a while longer.  It's a fourth wall thing.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 23, 2009, 10:07:43 am
One possible is that the Cerenians will open fire and disable the flagship.  That would result in a lot more shooting, and a lot more deaths, but it would certainly get the point across.

Harris himself will survive, because I suspect the story will require him to be around a while longer.  It's a fourth wall thing.

Plausible.

By the way guys, it's not "Cerenians," it's not "Cerens," it's "Cerereans," as per the Wikipedia:

"Due to its uncommon usage, there is no consensus as to the proper adjectival form of the name, although the nonce forms Cerian and Cerean have been used in fiction. Grammatically, the form Cererean would be correct, derived from its Latin genitive, Cereris."

Belters, being a prickly lot, chose "Cererean" early on, just because it is harder to pronounce.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: cyberbard on April 23, 2009, 03:48:07 pm
Belters, being a prickly lot, chose "Cererean" early on, just because it is harder to pronounce.

If I lived there, I would still be tempted to use Cerenian, because I don't think I could refer to myself using a word I found impossible to pronounce.

:)
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on April 23, 2009, 05:35:11 pm
 ... ten continentals says that they could choose to be called "Supercalifragilisticexpialidotions" and still get called "Cereans" or "Belters".
Its like trying to pick your own nickname.  Its not you that decides it...
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 23, 2009, 05:57:34 pm
... ten continentals says that they could choose to be called "Supercalifragilisticexpialidotions" and still get called "Cereans" or "Belters".
Its like trying to pick your own nickname.  Its not you that decides it...

Sorry, wrong on both counts. "Cerereans" is what they call themselves, so it's not like a nickname. Even if it were a nickname, you can pick your own nickname, I did. My first day in law school I decided to become "Sandy" and have been "Sandy" ever since. You didn't think "Sandy Sandfort" was my given name, did you? ARF!   8)
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 23, 2009, 06:04:45 pm
If I lived there, I would still be tempted to use Cerenian, because I don't think I could refer to myself using a word I found impossible to pronounce.

:)

Piffle. Repeat after me, "sair-AIR-ee-un" (more or less).   ;)
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: dharmaeye on April 23, 2009, 09:37:49 pm
Why not a Terrawatt or Giggawatt laser in todays page?
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: KBCraig on April 24, 2009, 12:40:21 am
If I lived there, I would still be tempted to use Cerenian, because I don't think I could refer to myself using a word I found impossible to pronounce.

:)

Piffle. Repeat after me, "sair-AIR-ee-un" (more or less).   ;)

In my world, "Cererean" would be pronounced "SAIR-uh-REE-un"

Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 24, 2009, 07:55:52 am
Why not a Terrawatt or Giggawatt laser in todays page?

1) You don't need a sledge hammer to swat a fly. Mining planetoids requires more finesse than power.

2) Didn't think of it.   ;)
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 24, 2009, 07:59:40 am
In my world, "Cererean" would be pronounced "SAIR-uh-REE-un"

Tain't your world, bub.  :D
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: cyberbard on April 24, 2009, 10:24:39 am
In my world, "Cererean" would be pronounced "SAIR-uh-REE-un"
Tain't your world, bub.  :D

Just for comparison, in my setting, people who live on Ceres call themselves Cerians, pronounced Si-rEE-ans.  There is occasional confusion with the Arabic nation with a similar name, but not too much.  Ceres has a seat on the Solar Council, and is part of a coalition of other "belt" nations.   In most parlance, "Ceres" refers to both the dwarf planet and the three Bernal spheres that follow it in orbit.  Ceres and those three habitats are tightly tied economically, socially and even culturally, so they are essentially one entity.

Earth is still balkanized in my setting, with the Solar Council being essentially a descendant of the United Nations.  The other settled planets are equally balkanized, and there are numerous independent habitats or habitat blocks.  Ergo, the probability of a totalitarian Earth like we see in EFT is pretty darn low.  Instead, you can get rogue states, political manipulation, and espionage of every conceivable type.  The sheer size of the Solar system has made it such that no one power block has been able to retain dominant power for more than a year or two.  Many have tried, but there are too many crossed agendas in too many areas.  Like the UN (on it's better days), all the Council can really do is keep things on an even keel.

I opted for a different style of madness in my setting.  :)
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 24, 2009, 10:48:42 am
Just for comparison, in my setting, people who live on Ceres call themselves Cerians, pronounced Si-rEE-ans.  There is occasional confusion with the Arabic nation with a similar name, but not too much. 

So, in your universe, classicists and grammarians didn't migrate to the Belt?  ;D

I opted for a different style of madness in my setting.  :)

Madness is good. It makes it not "Leave it to Beaver."
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: cyberbard on April 24, 2009, 12:14:37 pm
So, in your universe, classicists and grammarians didn't migrate to the Belt?  ;D

Some, but they were outnumbered by those who came on the forced migrations.  You can probably imagine what kind of people were on those ships.  Anyway, the name that was shorter, and easier to write and pronounce, was the one that stuck.

Dirty little secret: I hadn't decided on these things until just now.  Ceres is mostly background color in my setting; it's referred to but isn't a feature.  I honestly hadn't thought out most of these things until today.  Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind (without plagiarizing).

:)
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on April 24, 2009, 12:32:36 pm
... ten continentals says that they could choose to be called "Supercalifragilisticexpialidotions" and still get called "Cereans" or "Belters".
Its like trying to pick your own nickname.  Its not you that decides it...

Sorry, wrong on both counts. "Cerereans" is what they call themselves...

It's interesting that you take the position that the residents all march in lockstep on this issue.  So much for individualism and free thought.  While some, perhaps even most refer to themselves as Cerereans, that does not make it some absolute, unless there is some sort of authortarian Gestapo (or SS ;)) imposing it.

I would use the term "Cerean" for these reasons:

As can be seen in the concurrent Odysseus comic, the "creators" don't always get the respect they think they merit.  Creations have a tendency to have a mind of their own (see also J. Michael Straczynski's book The Complete Art of Scriptwriting for the literary equivalent).
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 24, 2009, 04:51:17 pm

Dirty little secret: I hadn't decided on these things until just now...

It's a secret? I thought that's what we all do.  ;D
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 27, 2009, 09:21:47 pm
Sorry I missed this one earlier.

It's interesting that you take the position that the residents all march in lockstep on this issue.  So much for individualism and free thought. 

Now that is just plain silly. Language is about communication not "individualism." No one is marching lockstep or stifling their own creativity if they choose to say "United States" instead of the more creative and individualistic, "Vespucciland." Just because most Cerereans choose to enhance communications by using words in their generally accepted meaning, does not make them slaves to fashion. Yeah, other Cerereans will know what they mean when the refer themselves as Cereans or Ferdies or Mother Lovers (all of which, plus others will be used in a future arc). However, the clever "unruled" person who seriously chooses these cutesy names should not be surprised if he is dismissed as a language kook.

While some, perhaps even most refer to themselves as Cerereans, that does not make it some absolute, unless there is some sort of authortarian Gestapo (or SS ;)) imposing it.

I would have said "authoritarian," but I understood your individualistic neologism.   ;)

Of course, people can say whatever they want, but if their purpose in speaking is to communicate, it would seem advisable to use the words that best do that.

I would use the term "Cerean" for these reasons:...

Bully for you. I always get a laugh in Panama when I refer to myself as a gringo from gringolandia. Sometimes choosing to tilt windmills works. Tilt away.

Creations have a tendency to have a mind of their own...

Ah, a frustrated writer! I suggest you not try to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs. All of my stories and characters have minds of their own. And that is one of the reasons that I know my characters prefer Cererean. My guess is that we will meet some who don't, but they will probably be annoying visitors who think they know better than the locals. I expect that the locals will get a big laugh out of messing with their heads. Look for it about six arcs from now.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on April 27, 2009, 11:34:00 pm
It's interesting that you take the position that the residents all march in lockstep on this issue.  So much for individualism and free thought. 

Now that is just plain silly. Language is about communication not "individualism." No one is marching lockstep or stifling their own creativity if they choose to say "United States" instead of the more creative and individualistic, "Vespucciland."

Funny, that I've not run across folks who take umbrage at "US" or "the States", or (among US residents -- residents of other parts of the American may beg to differ) "America".  In fact, I have found most locals use these more often that "United States".  People tend toward simplifying spoken language.


Quote
Yeah, other Cerereans will know what they mean when the refer themselves as Cereans or Ferdies or Mother Lovers (all of which, plus others will be used in a future arc). However, the clever "unruled" person who seriously chooses these cutesy names should not be surprised if he is dismissed as a language kook.

"Cerean" isn't "cutesy"; it's a simpler term with historic precedent.  I'd expect any Cereans to view those who insist on "Cererean" as being a bit silly or pedantic -- much as locals here (Columbus, OH) view those who insist on always referring to "The Ohio State University" (or "The Ohio State University"), rather than "Ohio State" or or "OSU".  I expect that 98% of the locals have real lives and don't worry about such details.

I'm sure it gets debated every once in a while at the local watering holes (outside of hockey season, of course), but after a couple of drinks, the pro "Cererean" side loses when caught slurring their pronunciation.

Quote
Ah, a frustrated writer! I suggest you not try to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs.

I'd just pass on the classic essay, "The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs"
(Chapter 69 in The Book of LIes).  :)

About the only thing I'm frustrated at as a writer, though, is not having the time to write as much as I'd like (well, that and the effort it takes to preserve the utility of my writing at work while adhering to the rigid  standard format required).
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: quadibloc on April 28, 2009, 06:02:22 am
Belters, being a prickly lot, chose "Cererean" early on, just because it is harder to pronounce.

And here I thought they chose that, instead of Cerean, because it was easier and less ambiguous to pronounce. I do recall a collection of SF short stories about Venus that had an introduction advocating Cytherean instead of Venusian, so I don't see why it could not happen that when people start living on Ceres, they wouldn't perhaps settle on a name for themselves different from what we might expect.

Maybe the first Cerereans came from Mississippi.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: quadibloc on April 28, 2009, 06:05:33 am
If I lived there, I would still be tempted to use Cerenian, because I don't think I could refer to myself using a word I found impossible to pronounce.

Being confused with a Syrian is bad enough, but being confused with a manatee or a dugong?
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 28, 2009, 12:01:54 pm
About the only thing I'm frustrated at as a writer, though, is not having the time to write as much as I'd like (well, that and the effort it takes to preserve the utility of my writing at work while adhering to the rigid  standard format required).

Like I said, frustrated. There are many types of writing, but skill in one area does not necessarily translate into skill in another--of course, it doesn't preclude it, either. Some of us are strong tech writers, others excel in fiction and others write poetry or non-fiction articles. I've made money with all of the aforementioned except poetry (no interest, no talent).

Why do I mention money? Because it is the closest thing we have to an objective criteria of value. Your mother and girlfriend will tell you that you are a great writer--no matter how good or bad you are. However, when a fat, bald-headed editor, chomping on a cigar says, "I'll give you a grand for the piece, kid," you know he is sincere. If he says it a second time after the readership has spoken, you can feel pretty good about calling yourself a writer.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: deadasdisco on April 28, 2009, 06:30:00 pm
So, funny thing about the Cererians/Cerean/Ceresian/whatever debate, is that while all these terms are being debated, the term that (here on the boards, anyway), has seen the most use (and lets assume for the moments, that we think something like EFT asteroid natives), is "Belter". 

For my money, I like 'Belter', not only is it easier to say, but it has an impressive SF-pedigree, going back to at least the early 70's (Niven's Protector I think...), and, more importantly, its more accurate, since not all Belters live on Ceres (hell, one gets the impression, from the small-town feel, that there aren't all that many permanent residents on Ceres, since presumably most of the residents spend most of there time working at the mining ops).  Belters covers the whole culture, where 'Cererean' would just cover those in the largest settlement.

And, before you say it, Sandy, I know, its your story and they will bloody well call themselves "Eggplant-purple-and-late-for-dinner" if you/they feel like it... ;)  but that's my two cents...
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: Rocketman on April 28, 2009, 07:10:32 pm
I like the general term "Belter" as well Deadasdisco.  It seems to me that whoever is in the asteroid belt has a stake in this, has likely already chosen their side, and is willing to fight for it if neccessary.  The people on Ceres aren't the only ones involved.  That makes it more technically correct.
Title: Re: March 13
Post by: SandySandfort on April 28, 2009, 08:17:32 pm
... Belters covers the whole culture, where 'Cererean' would just cover those in the largest settlement.

Can't argue with that. Cerereans are self-described folks who live or are based on Ceres. They are just one flavor of Belter.

And, before you say it, Sandy, I know, its your story and they will bloody well call themselves "Eggplant-purple-and-late-for-dinner" if you/they feel like it... ;) 

No they can't, unless they don't mind being confused with the people who live on Pallas who call themselves "Eggplant-purple-and-late-for-dinner."  ;D