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Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: quadibloc on December 01, 2009, 01:54:55 am

Title: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 01, 2009, 01:54:55 am
Great story line idea - just from this second page of the story, the first in which the type of plot is revealed.

Strangle the livelihood of Ceres by using their own respect for private property against them!

Apparently someone on Earth is diabolically clever. It will be interesting to see how this works out.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: deliberatus on December 01, 2009, 07:12:03 am
the most dangerous export is ideas.
The second most dangerous export is financial entanglement.
The third most dangerous export is firearms for hot head minorities.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Azure Priest on December 01, 2009, 07:40:20 am
It would be such a hoot if his name really WAS relentless. Just like Guy's name is "Guy."
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Sean Roach on December 01, 2009, 08:13:19 am
So, now we get a storyline clarifying the problems with allowing for state ownership, or corporate ownership since a state can be described as a corporation of its subjects.
Possibly also the argument that raw materials can't be owned until they are improved.

Just thinking.  I suspect there are more interesting rocks in the belt than there can be ships in all of the EFT universe.  Just what is necessary to secure a claim?  Here it looks like the claim was secured by a sentient on site.  I can't see that as the only way, as the claimholder needs to leave occasionally to pick up supplies, although posting a claim could be done by tanglenet.

What is the minimum improvement to change a claim to a steading?  An airtight hull anchored as a HQ?  A navigation buoy?
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 01, 2009, 08:24:01 am
Possibly also the argument that raw materials can't be owned until they are improved.

Yes, I'm (somewhat) expecting that one. After all, it's the usual reply to one of the standard arguments that occurs to people when they first confront this strange new idea of Libertarianism: if you believe in private property so much, why aren't you trying to give the country back to the Indians?
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: KBCraig on December 01, 2009, 11:12:22 am
Possibly also the argument that raw materials can't be owned until they are improved.

Yes, I'm (somewhat) expecting that one. After all, it's the usual reply to one of the standard arguments that occurs to people when they first confront this strange new idea of Libertarianism: if you believe in private property so much, why aren't you trying to give the country back to the Indians?

Who, it must be said, had no concept of ownership of land.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Rocketman on December 01, 2009, 11:20:11 am
Possibly also the argument that raw materials can't be owned until they are improved.

Yes, I'm (somewhat) expecting that one. After all, it's the usual reply to one of the standard arguments that occurs to people when they first confront this strange new idea of Libertarianism: if you believe in private property so much, why aren't you trying to give the country back to the Indians?
  ;D  ;D  ;D Great idea!!!  Let's start by giving them back Washington D.C.!!!  ;D  ;D  ;D
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 01, 2009, 06:39:01 pm
Who, it must be said, had no concept of ownership of land.

True, but they still could tell whether or not it was possible to hunt buffalo on their hunting grounds or not.

They could distinguish between being free to live where they had been living, as they had been living, and being rounded up and put in reservations, with limited land area, in which significantly more labor would be required of them to produce the food they needed.

Some tribes were, of course, guilty of aggression against peaceful European settlers, but other tribes which were not implicated in such acts shared the same fate.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: jrl on December 01, 2009, 10:48:40 pm
I suspect that under Cerian law (such as it is) United wold does not have standing to claim an asteroid.

Corporations are abstract entities given some of the rights of individuals by the state. Where there is no state, corporations can not exist.

United world is a special case of a corporation, a state, which for most intents and purposes claims a right to existence by divine right, a right which Cerians clearly deny.

The war crime trial made that clear: Only individuals can act. Only individuals have responsibility. No one can take responsibility for another's actions.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Azure Priest on December 02, 2009, 09:50:02 am
And now we have the method by which a claim is staked. Marker beacons, with a maximum 500 km "sphere" of territory. I suspect our good captain has met this situation before and is expecting hostilities from captain "Darling."
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Brugle on December 02, 2009, 10:18:06 am
500 m, not 500 km.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 02, 2009, 08:43:32 pm
Great story line idea - just from this second page of the story, the first in which the type of plot is revealed.

Strangle the livelihood of Ceres by using their own respect for private property against them!

Apparently someone on Earth is diabolically clever. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

So you think you know where this story is going, do you? I think you may be surprised.   ::)
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 02, 2009, 08:54:34 pm
Who [American Indians], it must be said, had no concept of ownership of land.

Depends on which Indians. The plains Indians generally fit your assertion. The Indians of the Canadian west coast didn't and don't. They are very proprietarian. When it came to land, there was and is very little, if any, communal land.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 02, 2009, 09:09:16 pm
I suspect that under Cerian law (such as it is) United wold does not have standing to claim an asteroid.

Actually, anarchists recognize collective entities such as joint stock companies. Whether or not 1st Officer, Darling was making a claim for the UW or not, he was making a claim. In the US and elsewhere, mining claims are defined and controlled by law. Where there is no formal law, it is still in everyone's interest to have some standard for what constitutes a claim. In the case of EFT, the standards established by ISO are followed by Belters. It serves the purpose of those seeking control over unclaimed resources and serves to greatly reduce conflict.

The war crime trial made that clear: Only individuals can act. Only individuals have responsibility. No one can take responsibility for another's actions.

You have got the essence of the lesson from Emilie's decision to execute Harris and Young. However there was no "trial" nor were there any "war crimes;" just crimes.

Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: PT on December 03, 2009, 02:37:45 am
Quote
In the US and elsewhere, mining claims are defined and controlled by law. Where there is no formal law, it is still in everyone's interest to have some standard for what constitutes a claim.
Indeed, in the American west, before there was any law the miners would get together and declare a mining "district", then write bylaws regulating the making and holding of claims. These bylaws were recognized by federal and territorial courts and eventually formed the basis of federal mining law. One thing that's been there from the beginning is the need to do a certain amount of development to hold a claim - $100 worth a year, which was about 28 days labor in the 19th century. If you don't do the work (or nowadays pay a fee to the BLM) the claim lapses and anyone can relocate it. I'm sure Ceres would be aware of this aspect of Earth history and organize along similar lines.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 03, 2009, 07:47:35 am
So you think you know where this story is going, do you? I think you may be surprised.   ::)

No, I don't think I know where it's going. But, indeed, it looks like I'm "surprised" today, and instead of Reggie King (or someone else doing much what he did in the first story) having to out-think the UW to find a legal loophole in their attempt to strangle Ceres... the story is instead going to be about the shooting war that seems likely to start shortly - or how that war is averted.

But I may be surprised again.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 03, 2009, 08:41:00 am
So you think you know where this story is going, do you? I think you may be surprised.   ::)

No, I don't think I know where it's going. But, indeed, it looks like I'm "surprised" today, and instead of Reggie King (or someone else doing much what he did in the first story) having to out-think the UW to find a legal loophole in their attempt to strangle Ceres... the story is instead going to be about the shooting war that seems likely to start shortly - or how that war is averted.

But I may be surprised again.

You will be.   :)
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: KBCraig on December 04, 2009, 12:16:32 am
Quote
In the US and elsewhere, mining claims are defined and controlled by law. Where there is no formal law, it is still in everyone's interest to have some standard for what constitutes a claim.
Indeed, in the American west, before there was any law the miners would get together and declare a mining "district", then write bylaws regulating the making and holding of claims.

This is yet another good reminder that anarchy does not mean "no rules", it means "no rulers".
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 04, 2009, 06:04:11 am
You will be.

Ah, yes. Some truly exciting developments.

EDIT: Despite having a poor record at guessing what will come next, after a while, I can notice the obvious. So I'm going to hazard another prediction about where we're heading. I could certainly be wrong, but here it is...

Since the MacGuffin of this story arc is an alien artifact, which is an official SF Really Big MacGuffin, perhaps all the story arcs that went before, entertaining though they were, were also aimed at getting us to know and care about the characters.

And so, this story arc, rather than being of similar length to the other ones, is going to be longer, and perhaps even take us to the end of the comic - because this is the main storyline.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 04, 2009, 10:20:27 am
EDIT: Despite having a poor record at guessing what will come next, after a while, I can notice the obvious. So I'm going to hazard another prediction about where we're heading. I could certainly be wrong, but here it is...

Since the MacGuffin of this story arc is an alien artifact, which is an official SF Really Big MacGuffin, perhaps all the story arcs that went before, entertaining though they were, were also aimed at getting us to know and care about the characters.

Half right (but which half?).

And so, this story arc, rather than being of similar length to the other ones, is going to be longer, and perhaps even take us to the end of the comic - because this is the main storyline.

Hee hee.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Philosophy guy on December 05, 2009, 11:15:47 pm
If a 500 meter claim is all that's legal- wait, LEGAL? wait we don't got no stinkin laws 'round here.  Did you mean the word ALLOWED instead?  Allowed by whom?  We aint got no army or police!  I guess you could say it was CUSTOMARY to only claim a 500 meter oject at a time,  But I gotta tell ya where money (or power) is  concerned your customs seem damn irrelevant. I can't claim a big asteroid 'cause it's RUDE?
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Sean Roach on December 06, 2009, 12:07:43 am
You can have rules without rulers.
Just look at bylaws.

Also, look at snubbing and ostracizing.  If everyone agrees to behavior, and someone decides to ignore the standard, everyone can choose to band together to isolate him.  A claimant with an "illegal" claim could find himself without access to refineries, air, fuel, other consumables, or timely warnings about hazards.  Not because they will be taken from him but because they'd be refused him.

The problem develops when one player gets large enough to demand exceptions, or do it all himself.  A Sam's SpaceMart could claimjump at leisure, safe in the knowledge that people would still deal with him in order to do any business at all.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 06, 2009, 09:35:20 am
If a 500 meter claim is all that's legal- wait, LEGAL? wait we don't got no stinkin laws 'round here.  Did you mean the word ALLOWED instead?  Allowed by whom?  We aint got no army or police!  I guess you could say it was CUSTOMARY to only claim a 500 meter oject at a time,  But I gotta tell ya where money (or power) is  concerned your customs seem damn irrelevant. I can't claim a big asteroid 'cause it's RUDE?

A more appropriate word would be recognized. I think you missed the whole point about being in everyone's best interest to adopt a common set of standards. I used ISO, because it is an NGO with a long and successful history of creating standards that are adopted and used. In the EFT universe, ISO also includes quasi-governmental bodies such as the Martian Organization for Standards and NGO standards organizations established for Ceres, Vesta, the Belt, etc.

Of course, not everyone will recognize or abide by standards. This is not a fatal flaw. Every day, there are people who do not recognize or abide by laws. either. However, in both cases, there are consequences. (See my next post.)
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 06, 2009, 09:54:28 am
You can have rules without rulers.
Just look at bylaws.

Also, look at snubbing and ostracizing.  If everyone agrees to behavior, and someone decides to ignore the standard, everyone can choose to band together to isolate him.  A claimant with an "illegal" claim could find himself without access to refineries, air, fuel, other consumables, or timely warnings about hazards.  Not because they will be taken from him but because they'd be refused him.

Exactly.

The problem develops when one player gets large enough to demand exceptions, or do it all himself.  A Sam's SpaceMart could claimjump at leisure, safe in the knowledge that people would still deal with him in order to do any business at all.

This is where we part company. Your example assumes facts not in evidence, to wit, that in a free market, Sam's SpaceMart could ever attain sufficient size/power to safely ignore generally accepted standards. In a free market there are dis-economies of scale beyond relatively modest optimal enterprise sizes. It is government interference with the free market that skews incentive structures and make mega-companies such as General Motors, economically viable. In any case, Sam's still has to compete with Sears, Wards, Kmart and even 7-11. If Sam's pisses off miners by claim jumping, see how long it stays in business after most of its shoppers boycotts its stores and take their business to the Water Bros. Emporium. 
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 07, 2009, 08:47:48 am
In a free market there are dis-economies of scale beyond relatively modest optimal enterprise sizes.

If that is the case, how will anyone ever manage to build such a thing as a 45 nanometer fab under that condition?
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Brugle on December 07, 2009, 10:06:08 am
In a free market there are dis-economies of scale beyond relatively modest optimal enterprise sizes.

If that is the case, how will anyone ever manage to build such a thing as a 45 nanometer fab under that condition?

Economies of scale vary greatly with the industry, so so does the typical firm size.  For example, at a minimum, an efficient oil-refining firm would need to be large enough to operate a fairly large refinery.

If the U.S. became free and nothing else economically changed much, I'd expect the typical firm to become smaller in most industries but to become larger in a few.  Of course, a free market changes continually, with firms growing and shrinking and merging and splitting for various reasons, including entrepreneurs who think that they can handle the economies and diseconomies of scale better than other people have done.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: WarpZone on December 07, 2009, 01:25:39 pm
I'm pretty sure he's just calling it "clearly an artifact" because there's probably some rule that says you're not allowed to cut artifacts in half with a laser to resolve claim disputes.

Building on this pattern, I suspect if she now replies "understood," or anything at all, he can turn around and get her for violating the gag order.

This guy's a real douche, but his M.O. is certainly consistent!
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 07, 2009, 06:32:50 pm
I'm pretty sure he's just calling it "clearly an artifact" because there's probably some rule that says you're not allowed to cut artifacts in half with a laser to resolve claim disputes.

Building on this pattern, I suspect if she now replies "understood," or anything at all, he can turn around and get her for violating the gag order.

We'll soon see what develops.

Originally, I thought that it was just an asteroid, and this was part of a plot to strangle Ceres economically. But in that case, claiming it to be an artifact would be counter-productive. If it's just an asteroid, why pick a fight over one asteroid? If, on the other hand, it contains an alien artifact, which could disclose the secrets of science that's millions of years ahead of us - then the Cereans must prevent it from falling into the hands of the UW, since it could give them the power to turn the future into "a boot stamping on the human face, forever".

I think she should reply "Loud and clear", to avoid being shot at. (Since that's a direct answer to his question, the fact that it doesn't contain a promise to comply would be overlooked - not that I think heroes should be above lying in necessity.)

The United World does not have jurisdiction over Ceres, but I suppose they could attack individual ships and seize their occupants if they've decided to go in for asteroid belt piracy.

So I think it is an artifact. Saying there were two Deltas on the way was enough to get rid of the Split-Tail. Disclosing the fact that it was an artifact, though, was stupid. The word will be sent out - via Tanglenet - to Reggie and/or Guy - and then steps will be taken to overcome even two Deltas to prevent the catastrophe of an alien artifact falling into the clutches of the UW.

Hmm... while I disagree with the notion that the gag order was a trick to arrest the occupants of the Split-Tail, how about this: maybe saying it's an artifact is indeed a trick - to provoke an incident with which the UW can claim that Ceres is an aggressor! That would be a plausible reason for telling her it was an artifact when it wasn't true.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 07, 2009, 07:47:30 pm
In a free market there are dis-economies of scale beyond relatively modest optimal enterprise sizes.

If that is the case, how will anyone ever manage to build such a thing as a 45 nanometer fab under that condition?

But what is "modest" for a 45 nanometer fab? In any case, the concept of dis-economies of scale does not mean nothing big ever gets done. It just means that businesses (economic entities) have natural limits to growth.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: terry_freeman on December 10, 2009, 01:12:32 am
Rules, laws, whatever they may be called, existed before the invention of the State, and will exist after the last State disappears down the trash chute of history. One example will be the Jewish people, before they got stupid and appointed a king, when "every one did what was right in his own eyes", but they chose to honor a fairly intricate set of laws nonetheless.

Mercantile law was developed by merchants who needed to settle disputes quickly and neatly, in many places, often across jurisdictional boundaries. It worked so well that governments appropriated the concept for their own.

Nothing in a free economy prevents the accumulation of great wealth - indeed, with the end of death taxes, we are likely to see great family accumulations - but smart family leadership will recognize that the best way to become wealthy is to have good relationships with customers, suppliers, and peers. The market won't be skewed by the Greenspan/Bernanke effect. Bad money drive out good only when people are forced to treat bad money as if it were as good as the alternatives.

Imagine an Intel in a free economy -- would they stay wealthy if their chips were no good? Or would an AMD out-compete them? The computer industry is littered with once-large computer companies which failed - DEC being one example. They made really great computers for a while, then they flamed out.

 
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 10, 2009, 10:42:22 am
Terry, your post, as always, was very insightful. Nevertheless you are wrong about one thing:

Nothing in a free economy prevents the accumulation of great wealth - indeed, with the end of death taxes, we are likely to see great family accumulations - but smart family leadership will recognize that the best way to become wealthy is to have good relationships with customers, suppliers, and peers. The market won't be skewed by the Greenspan/Bernanke effect. Bad money drive out good only when people are forced to treat bad money as if it were as good as the alternatives.

Again, there are diseconomies of scale beyond an optimal maximum size/complexity for any endeavor under any form of economic system--from total anarchy to totalitarianism. The principle applies as much to businesses as it does tor countries with top-down central planning. The creation of "virtual" companies within a large corporation, somewhat mitigates the situation, but that can only be taken so far, if the corporation is to continue to exist as a single entity.

The rest of your paragraph correctly, but somewhat irrelevantly, discusses how companies are successful and grow, but it does not address the limits to growth that will still dictate a maximum size for even the "good" companies.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Gillsing on December 11, 2009, 12:40:50 pm
Apparently someone on Earth is diabolically clever.
Indeed they are. They used lasers to shape an asteroid into a moai, and then hollowed it out so they could use it as a hidden base. Space-Bond, where are you? ::)
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Sean Roach on December 11, 2009, 01:03:15 pm
I'm thinking the earth shaped it to look like a moai in an effort to discredit the belters.  I think the demand to keep it quiet was a goad, with the stated intention to say later "I told her to keep quiet.  Now we know it's a fake, but because of her a lot of people are now looking for aliens in the sky.  If only she'd done the right thing and kept her council like I asked her."

Well, we'll see.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Rocketman on December 11, 2009, 09:20:26 pm
Did not even consider that possibility.  It's doubtful though because I don't see other than discrediting the people that embarrassed them that it was worth all the trouble to do that.  My guess is that the little prince and that moai carving have something in common.  Just what only Sandy knows and he's not talking at least not yet.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 12, 2009, 12:03:19 am
I'm thinking the earth shaped it to look like a moai in an effort to discredit the belters.  I think the demand to keep it quiet was a goad, with the stated intention to say later "I told her to keep quiet.  Now we know it's a fake, but because of her a lot of people are now looking for aliens in the sky.  If only she'd done the right thing and kept her council like I asked her."

I would tend to reject that hypothesis on the following grounds: it's an awful lot of trouble to go to just to discredit the belters a tiny little bit - "oh, they're spreading rumors that encourage superstition".

If the belters panic because they don't want Earth to get an alien ultimate weapon, and kill the crews of a couple of "peaceful" UW spaceships, that would achieve the level of discredit needed for the UW to use it as an excuse for war. I have to admit that with it looking like a moai - and having read Thor Heyerdahl's Aku-Aku myself - the probability of a real alien artifact seems to be lower. (However, wilder things have happened in other comics on this site.)

But I'm just noting this as a reasonable theory if it isn't an artifact; I'm not prepared to jump to a conclusion on whether it is or not at this point. (Unlike some other webcomics, I'm worried that hustling for Moxana points would be inappropriate behavior, as with the type of story that's being told here, guessing correctly what will happen next might spoil some of the excitement for others.)
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: terry_freeman on December 13, 2009, 04:21:42 pm
Saying "there are economies of scale" gives no useful information about _where_ those limits are.

Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 15, 2009, 06:24:19 am
Today, Reggie's remark seems to be in the nature of "Famous Last Words", just as yesterday's statement seemed to be likely to end up ironic, so perhaps this is a plot contrived not to be an excuse for war, but merely for revenge against one individual, the captain of the Split-Tail. Not that her second-in-command wouldn't also be someone the UW would like to get hold of.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 15, 2009, 06:56:27 am
Today, Reggie's remark seems to be in the nature of "Famous Last Words", just as yesterday's statement seemed to be likely to end up ironic, so perhaps this is a plot contrived not to be an excuse for war, but merely for revenge against one individual, the captain of the Split-Tail. Not that her second-in-command wouldn't also be someone the UW would like to get hold of.

Yes and no, well maybe... but not necessarily in that order.   ::)
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 16, 2009, 06:56:43 am
Yes and no, well maybe... but not necessarily in that order.   ::)

I thought that Reggie's remark was obvious foreshadowing that it was a fake "artifact", but now events on board the Alpha Relentless show that it is a real artifact (or, at least, believed by the captain of the Alpha Relentless to be real). So the UW hasn't mastered reverse psychology yet, but apparently in tomorrow's comic they will show some cleverness after all. It's just one surprising twist after another!
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: SandySandfort on December 16, 2009, 07:56:31 am
I thought that Reggie's remark was obvious foreshadowing that it was a fake "artifact", but now events on board the Alpha Relentless show that it is a real artifact (or, at least, believed by the captain of the Alpha Relentless to be real). So the UW hasn't mastered reverse psychology yet, but apparently in tomorrow's comic they will show some cleverness after all. It's just one surprising twist after another!

We try. When it gets too obvious, it isn't as much fun. As always, I am impressed by the level of thought given by Forum members to the clues (and false clues) in EFT. Often, the "wrong" answers given by you readers is more clever than the actual ones. So even when you are wrong, you are still right in a way. Please continue to exercise your mental muscle.
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: quadibloc on December 18, 2009, 01:15:23 am
Please continue to exercise your mental muscle.

("Virtuallly everyone in human space had captured an image of the markings.") Made in China? Or something equivalently hilarious? Well, we'll see soon enough...
Title: Re: The United World's Ultimate Weapon
Post by: Gillsing on December 18, 2009, 05:53:25 pm
Made in China?
Get out of my head!

Edit for new strip: Ohh! It's a treasure hunt!