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Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: John DeWitt on July 13, 2010, 08:25:42 am

Title: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: John DeWitt on July 13, 2010, 08:25:42 am
...when they had a perfectly good spaceship and didn't seem to need to fly anywhere without it.

Now I know.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Rocketman on July 14, 2010, 10:14:45 am
With the micro-gravity that makes their weight probably in ounces wouldn't you want to have a way to get back if you forgot yourself and pushed off into space?
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: John DeWitt on July 15, 2010, 09:44:17 am
You might.  But Sandy has never let inconvenient matters of gravity get in the way of details before now.  Therefore the rocket packs serve the plot.   8)
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 15, 2010, 11:57:01 am
You might.  But Sandy has never let inconvenient matters of gravity get in the way of details before now.  Therefore the rocket packs serve the plot.   8)

Excuse me? I have always taken gravity into account. Getting the science right, is a point of honor with me.

So you think the rocket packs serve the plot? Every time someone has thought they had the plot figured out, they have been wrong.* Care to speculate for us how you think the rocket packs will serve the plot? I have a C-note that says you are wrong.   ;D

By the way, all the clues are there.

* Actual there was one incidence that someone (NeitherRuleNorBeRuled? Azure Priest?) did do a pretty good job of predicting one plot element, but that's rare.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: dough560 on July 16, 2010, 01:17:14 am
In this environment a rocket pack would be a part of everyday wear.  About the same as personal arms.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: John DeWitt on July 16, 2010, 07:17:18 am
 
Excuse me? I have always taken gravity into account. Getting the science right, is a point of honor with me.

So you think the rocket packs serve the plot? Every time someone has thought they had the plot figured out, they have been wrong.* Care to speculate for us how you think the rocket packs will serve the plot? I have a C-note that says you are wrong.   ;D

 ;D  Ho HO!  I thought that crack might get you into the conversation, Sandy.

No offense meant.  I enjoy your stories.  I'm guessing about the rocket packs, and intend to sit here (intermittently) and see how I'm wrong.  Anyway, I can't match your bet.   Not that I'd ever bet with a writer how his story's going to go.  8)

(But I still think that if we ever get past NASA and move out to the belt, we won't be waving open coffee cups full of hot liquid around.)
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 16, 2010, 08:15:43 am
I'm guessing about the rocket packs, and intend to sit here (intermittently) and see how I'm wrong.  Anyway, I can't match your bet.   Not that I'd ever bet with a writer how his story's going to go.  8)

The stories are written months in advance. The art work is completed weeks in advance. And, most importantly, I play fair. Another point of honor. (And my EFT partners wouldn't pull my buns out of the fire, even if I tried to cheat.)  ::)

(But I still think that if we ever get past NASA and move out to the belt, we won't be waving open coffee cups full of hot liquid around.)

Previously asked and answered.

http://www.gizmag.com/zero-g-coffee-cup-11146/11146/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27891334/
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: GeoModder on July 17, 2010, 01:54:02 am
Using the rocket-packs to get back to Dactyl? Nah, don't think so. I'm not so sure there's enough fuel left to use a straight burn to Dactyl, or a hyperbole trajectory to Dactyl's orbit in a short enough time for life support to last.

But they have a nice mass driver in that little crater. Perhaps the two combined (rocket-pack plus the mass driver) has possibilities.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: quadibloc on July 19, 2010, 01:04:40 pm
If we assume that his suit isn't big enough for him to pull an arm out of a sleeve and reach around inside it, and that there isn't a zipper at a convenient location so that he could open his suit, reach in for his comm in his vest pocket, and close up the suit... all in a few seconds (and since he does trust his brother, even a knife and some duct tape would do it)... what other alternatives are available?

The asteroid's surface is apparently solid rock, not dust or sand, in which he could be buried up to his neck.

I'm getting an idea for spacesuit design - an airlock flap. Open the outer zipper, then reseal it around your sleeve, then open the inner flap. Just the thing for dealing with that annoying itch in outer space...
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 20, 2010, 08:49:42 am
I'm getting an idea for spacesuit design - an airlock flap. Open the outer zipper, then reseal it around your sleeve, then open the inner flap. Just the thing for dealing with that annoying itch in outer space...

Better yet -- anything that's vacuum resistant, that you might possibly need while you're out, store on the outside of the suit or in a radiation-resistant pouch etc. Things that need to be on the inside -- water, snacks, prescription drugs, things that are not vacuum resistant which you want to transport but don't have a better container for.

I'd want as many coms as I could afford built into my suit. Though I admit I only have the radio my car came with.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: jamesd on July 21, 2010, 03:50:51 am
If they can see their ship, then in microgravity, should be able to jump to it, let along get to it with their rocket packs.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: GeoModder on July 21, 2010, 05:45:21 am
Dactyl is in orbit around Ida, meaning its moving all the time. It seems like the brothers don't have a computer outside their packs to calculate a minimum-burn trajectory towards Dactyl's orbit, so I gather the good old eyeball mark I method won't be enough to approach their ship on sight alone. Not with using up alot of the limited fuel of their rocket packs.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 21, 2010, 08:44:17 am
If they can see their ship, then in microgravity, should be able to jump to it, let along get to it with their rocket packs.

You tell me.

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Dactyl_%28moon%29#Moon

Sure you can jump, but exactly which way? How much speed to you think you could muster with one backpack? (The other pack would have to be used to decelerate and match a 10 m/s orbital velocity.) You've got just one try to hit a tiny spot in space dozens of kilometers away. I guess if there were no other possibility...
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: OPossumTX on July 21, 2010, 09:36:05 am
I'd be finding a way to use that drill for something besides punchin' holes in rocks.  Stear with the rocket packs.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 21, 2010, 10:05:23 am
The mass driver makes an excellent, continuous-fire cannon.

It expels big rocks at 30 m/s. The minimum escape velocity of 243 Ida, at its "pointy" end, is roughly 11 m/s (wiki the asteroid and work it out). So, after the expelled rocks have left Ida they should be moving at about 19 m/s. Dactyl orbits near (8 degrees away from) the equator, so it passes over the pointy end of Ida. Dactyl is tidally locked which means that the cave is always facing Ida.

So the brothers pick up the drill and mass-driver and tow them to the pointy end of Ida (we can see that they can push them around in the tiny gravity). They fire a burst of rocks into the cave on Dactyl. They adjust their aim simply by watching the stream of rocks and adjusting the aim of the mass driver. At 19 m/s (roughly as fast as a fast thrown baseball) a rock the size of a man's head would punch a hole in a shuttle. A stream of such rocks will demolish it. Fire just enough of a short burst to scare the crooks to come out and try to flee, then pour it on and destroy them.

Whether the brothers inadvertently disable their own shuttle is a matter of a bit of luck. But after wiping out the bad guys they could then get to Dactyl like this: step down the ejection speed of the mass driver so that it is ejecting at orbital velocity, then one man gets in it ("human cannonball") and is fired into the same orbit at Dactyl.

Piece of cake. :) I can hardly wait to be an anarcho asteroid belter.





Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 21, 2010, 01:36:57 pm
... They fire a burst of rocks into the cave on Dactyl. They adjust their aim simply by watching the stream of rocks and adjusting the aim of the mass driver. At 19 m/s (roughly as fast as a fast thrown baseball) a rock the size of a man's head would punch a hole in a shuttle. A stream of such rocks will demolish it. Fire just enough of a short burst to scare the crooks to come out and try to flee, then pour it on and destroy them.

Holy-moley! Doesn't that strike you as a bit... dangerous?  :o

Whether the brothers inadvertently disable their own shuttle is a matter of a bit of luck. But after wiping out the bad guys they could then get to Dactyl like this: step down the ejection speed of the mass driver so that it is ejecting at orbital velocity, then one man gets in it ("human cannonball") and is fired into the same orbit at Dactyl.

Piece of cake. :) I can hardly wait to be an anarcho asteroid belter.

There are old Belters and there are bold Belters, but there are no old, bold Belters.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Azure Priest on July 21, 2010, 01:51:31 pm
Aside from using the mass driver as either transport or a weapon, or using the rocket packs to try and "fly" to their "Cave sweet cave," I see two options.

1.) Rig up some kind of pressurized environment where they can reach their com gear. On the upside, they can actually send out a distress call, on the downside, the brothers, most likely, would seriously reduce their survival time.

2.) Set up a "reversal" trap. The brothers could fake some kind of critical malfunction that would lure these parasites to them early and then either capture or strand them. While this plan can be more feasible than the first, and more satisfying if orchestrated correctly, has several rather large downsides.

a.) The brothers would have to set up this plan in some manner without speaking. According to the comic, they are communicating via radio, and the "bad guys" are listening.

b.) The brothers' performance would have to be very convincing. While the bad guys are apparently amateurs at mining, they are not complete idiots. Setting up a "hunt" like this requires quite a bit of planning, forethought, and patience.

c.) The brothers would have no way to hear the bad guys approach. Being in space, there's no air for sound to move through. Unless the brothers have some way of making "dummies" that would be very convincing "frozen corpses," and then hiding behind some rock or outcropping, it would be very difficult to orchestrate a successful ambush, even if that "ambush" simply means stealing back their own shuttle.

d.) Bert and Ernie have no way of knowing (and neither do we) how many bad guys there are. There could be as little as two (one to pilot each shuttle or even one if Bert and Ernie's shuttle could be towed), or there could be half a dozen. While the old adage, "there's no honor among thieves" would apply some pressure to keep the number of conspirators low, good old fashioned greed, and the "thrill" of doing criminal activity and "getting away with it" could easily increase that number. Even if Bert and Ernie DO successfully execute an ambush on the shuttle pilot(s) that they lure to the Mascon, they could easily come back to the cave, only to find themselves outnumbered AND outgunned.

e.) Even if the number of bad guys is manageable, there is no way to know what "booby traps" they've set up should Bert and Ernie get the upper hand. They may even have employed "dead man switches" like Reggie did near the beginning of the comic. Aside from movies like "Predator," there's really no way to outrun or survive a small mining nuke except to already be somewhere else.

Their best bet would probably be a combination of luring the bad guys out to Mascon with a false "emergency" and then calling for help from inside the shuttle, should they commandeer one successfully.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 21, 2010, 06:15:01 pm
This is a very well thought out and thorough analysis. Your conclusions may or may not turn out to be correct, but they are plausible. Trolls, please note. This is what paying attention looks like.  ;)

Aside from using the mass driver as either transport or a weapon, or using the rocket packs to try and "fly" to their "Cave sweet cave," I see two options.

1.) Rig up some kind of pressurized environment where they can reach their com gear. On the upside, they can actually send out a distress call, on the downside, the brothers, most likely, would seriously reduce their survival time.

2.) Set up a "reversal" trap. The brothers could fake some kind of critical malfunction that would lure these parasites to them early and then either capture or strand them. While this plan can be more feasible than the first, and more satisfying if orchestrated correctly, has several rather large downsides.

a.) The brothers would have to set up this plan in some manner without speaking. According to the comic, they are communicating via radio, and the "bad guys" are listening.

b.) The brothers' performance would have to be very convincing. While the bad guys are apparently amateurs at mining, they are not complete idiots. Setting up a "hunt" like this requires quite a bit of planning, forethought, and patience.

c.) The brothers would have no way to hear the bad guys approach. Being in space, there's no air for sound to move through. Unless the brothers have some way of making "dummies" that would be very convincing "frozen corpses," and then hiding behind some rock or outcropping, it would be very difficult to orchestrate a successful ambush, even if that "ambush" simply means stealing back their own shuttle.

d.) Bert and Ernie have no way of knowing (and neither do we) how many bad guys there are. There could be as little as two (one to pilot each shuttle or even one if Bert and Ernie's shuttle could be towed), or there could be half a dozen. While the old adage, "there's no honor among thieves" would apply some pressure to keep the number of conspirators low, good old fashioned greed, and the "thrill" of doing criminal activity and "getting away with it" could easily increase that number. Even if Bert and Ernie DO successfully execute an ambush on the shuttle pilot(s) that they lure to the Mascon, they could easily come back to the cave, only to find themselves outnumbered AND outgunned.

e.) Even if the number of bad guys is manageable, there is no way to know what "booby traps" they've set up should Bert and Ernie get the upper hand. They may even have employed "dead man switches" like Reggie did near the beginning of the comic. Aside from movies like "Predator," there's really no way to outrun or survive a small mining nuke except to already be somewhere else.

Their best bet would probably be a combination of luring the bad guys out to Mascon with a false "emergency" and then calling for help from inside the shuttle, should they commandeer one successfully.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: terry_freeman on July 21, 2010, 11:38:56 pm
Isn't this "ock" an onboard computer of some complexity? Perhaps it knows enough to be able to compute trajectories and other good stuff.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: terry_freeman on July 21, 2010, 11:40:02 pm
BTW, I totally want an OCK ... with lots of terabytes of online storage and compute capacity. :D
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 21, 2010, 11:52:36 pm
Isn't this "ock" an onboard computer of some complexity? Perhaps it knows enough to be able to compute trajectories and other good stuff.

Computing a trajectory is one thing. Achieving it is another. Even if you know exactly which way to jump, your success relies on how accurately you can execute the jump.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 22, 2010, 03:02:29 am
... They fire a burst of rocks into the cave on Dactyl. They adjust their aim simply by watching the stream of rocks and adjusting the aim of the mass driver. At 19 m/s (roughly as fast as a fast thrown baseball) a rock the size of a man's head would punch a hole in a shuttle. A stream of such rocks will demolish it. Fire just enough of a short burst to scare the crooks to come out and try to flee, then pour it on and destroy them.

Holy-moley! Doesn't that strike you as a bit... dangerous?  :o

Compared to what? It is less dangerous than just sitting there, which leads to certain death. By throwing a few rocks they might not be able to predict the outcome but a crucial benefit is that it is a disruptive element that changes the situation, disrupts the tidy plan of the attackers, and may open up new options for the brothers.

Quote
Whether the brothers inadvertently disable their own shuttle is a matter of a bit of luck. But after wiping out the bad guys they could then get to Dactyl like this: step down the ejection speed of the mass driver so that it is ejecting at orbital velocity, then one man gets in it ("human cannonball") and is fired into the same orbit at Dactyl.

Piece of cake. :) I can hardly wait to be an anarcho asteroid belter.

There are old Belters and there are bold Belters, but there are no old, bold Belters.

There are no timid belters. It takes a certain amount of boldness to get out there.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 22, 2010, 03:35:44 am
There was no mention of the possibility of the mascon being mostlyly uranium (specific gravity = 19.05), which could occur naturally (half-life of billions of years).

By the way, since the brothers have already dug to within a couple of meters of the mascon, they might as well dig it up and see what they've got. Assuming that the bad guys are watching: another possibility is to put the mascon in the mass driver and shoot it out into space (with accompanying discussion to be overheard). The bad guys will chase after it since that is the reason they are there. As soon as they come out of the cave, pour it on with the rock-cannon and annihilate them. There might be some bad guys left but it would reduce the size of the problem.


Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: John DeWitt on July 22, 2010, 06:55:21 am
Ah, I see I should have considered the mass driver.

Climbing into one, or however one goes about using it for personal transport, is not an idea that would have appealed to me.  Old, bold, and all that.  But then dying of asphyxiation doesn't have that many charms, either.

Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Azure Priest on July 22, 2010, 07:41:16 am

... They fire a burst of rocks into the cave on Dactyl. They adjust their aim simply by watching the stream of rocks and adjusting the aim of the mass driver. At 19 m/s (roughly as fast as a fast thrown baseball) a rock the size of a man's head would punch a hole in a shuttle. A stream of such rocks will demolish it. Fire just enough of a short burst to scare the crooks to come out and try to flee, then pour it on and destroy them.


There IS valid tactical reasoning using the mass driver in this manner; however, it would result in a "war of attrition" which the brothers would lose, even if all the bad guys were killed. It would be best to hold off on that approach until the threat of death is imminent and there's no other option. The phrase "if we have to go, we're taking you with us" would be very appropriate.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 22, 2010, 10:38:54 am
There IS valid tactical reasoning using the mass driver in this manner; however, it would result in a "war of attrition" which the brothers would lose, even if all the bad guys were killed. It would be best to hold off on that approach until the threat of death is imminent and there's no other option. The phrase "if we have to go, we're taking you with us" would be very appropriate.

Look guys, think about it. If somebody starts shooting little rocks at you, to get your attention. Wouldn't you just get in one of the ships and fly around to the back side of Dactyl? I mean, it's not as though you couldn't see them coming over the intervening kilometers. Just get the hell out of the way. Pirates-as-targets problem solved.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 22, 2010, 12:47:05 pm
There IS valid tactical reasoning using the mass driver in this manner; however, it would result in a "war of attrition" which the brothers would lose, even if all the bad guys were killed. It would be best to hold off on that approach until the threat of death is imminent and there's no other option. The phrase "if we have to go, we're taking you with us" would be very appropriate.

Look guys, think about it. If somebody starts shooting little rocks at you, to get your attention. Wouldn't you just get in one of the ships and fly around to the back side of Dactyl? I mean, it's not as though you couldn't see them coming over the intervening kilometers. Just get the hell out of the way. Pirates-as-targets problem solved.

OK, and while the pirates are out of line-of-sight on the back of Dactyl, then you could make of your thrown "rocks" one of the Guzman brothers. They will somehow see him coming, you say, despite the bad guys being out of line of sight? The human cannonball could position himself behind a man-sized rock.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 22, 2010, 12:56:52 pm
Anyway, isn't it supposed to be an "open carry" sort of society? So our human cannonball (camouflaged as a rock) will hardly be defenceless against any pirate remaining behind (while his colleagues hide out of sight and radio communication on the other side of Dactyl). When the other pirates come back to the cave they won't be aware that it has been recaptured by one of the brothers. He can pick them off from concealment.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 23, 2010, 09:25:38 am
There was no mention of the possibility of the mascon being mostlyly uranium (specific gravity = 19.05), which could occur naturally (half-life of billions of years).

By the way, since the brothers have already dug to within a couple of meters of the mascon, they might as well dig it up and see what they've got.

Agreed, unless they come up with a good plan which does not give them time to do that. The mascon is an unknown, and finding out about it might help.

Quote
Assuming that the bad guys are watching: another possibility is to put the mascon in the mass driver and shoot it out into space (with accompanying discussion to be overheard). The bad guys will chase after it since that is the reason they are there.

Agreed. If some of the bad guys chase the mascon, that splits their forces and the remainder might be easier to do something about. If all of them go but they leave behind a lot of equipment etc, that gives Bert and Erny a chance if only they can get to it. If the bad guys all go after the mascon and they take everything with them, that's no improvement.

Quote
As soon as they come out of the cave, pour it on with the rock-cannon and annihilate them. There might be some bad guys left but it would reduce the size of the problem.

How fast can you shoot the stuff? So fast they can't get out of the way if they see it coming? So fast they can't see it coming? So fast they'll still be there when you see them come out and then you shoot at them? Maybe you could find a way to shoot bursts that would spread out?

Anyway, say they find out what it is and it's real real valuable. They could perhaps offer a share of it to anybody who joins them. One pirate plus Bert and Erny means 1/3 of a giant fortune, free and clear and no crime to cover up. Two pirates plus Bert and Erny means 1/4. If there are 5 pirates now and they start thinking about who to kill to reduce the shares, they might get so busy killing each other that Bert and Erny have some other chance.

Say they find out what it is and it's only mildly profitable. Tell the pirates that and let them think about how much murder they're willing to do for a little money.

They don't have to tell the truth, they could say it's a jackpot when it isn't or vice versa. But depending on what they actually have the truth could serve as well as a lie.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 23, 2010, 09:36:12 am
Jumping in the mass driver looks real real dangerous. Here's a start at a reckless solution for the last problem, slowing down, assuming everything else worked.

If they have a very long, very strong rope, find a way to attach it to something on the target. And have something disposable -- a couple of metal bars etc -- to serve as a rappel rack. Get close to Dactyl and somehow attach the rope -- lasso some landmark or whatever. Then pay out the rope across the bars, letting friction slowly reduce the speed. With luck no single spot on the rope will get hot enough to melt through. When you're slowed down enough, then climb down the rope.

This requires very good aim with the mass driver and also two items that have not been stressed as being available, the long length of strong rope and the gizmo that lets you somehow attach to Dactyl. But it's a start.

How not to be killed leaving via the mass driver -- put a big rock in the mass driver. Attach two ropes to it, and both guys stand beside the mass driver with their rappel gear. the rock moves fast, the men move slower. With luck they'll be up to speed before they reach the ends of the rope. One of them has a rock that makes them both mass the same, to simplify the calculations.

This is something you'd want to practice 50 or 60 times with crash dummies and telemetry before you tried it yourself.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 23, 2010, 09:51:13 am
I think Azure Priest has the beginning of a good idea. It looks hard to get to the pirates. Better if you can find some way to get them to come to you. Anything you can do to lure them within reach is better than them staying out of reach until you run out of air. His various warnings -- there might be too many of them no matter what you do etc -- are mostly worthless, you have to do the best you can and hope there aren't too many. While Bert and Erny are together they might communicate by conduction or by writing though.

Hmm. How strong is this mass driver? Could they throw enough rocks to put their moon into a new orbit? They can throw rocks at the bad guys, could they throw the rocks the other direction and bring the whole moon in?

If they could move the moon at 1G would they have time to ride it to the closest friendly people? They wouldn't have to slow down when they reached people, once they reach somebody who can relay a message then some friend can pick them up.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Azure Priest on July 23, 2010, 01:45:11 pm
There IS valid tactical reasoning using the mass driver in this manner; however, it would result in a "war of attrition" which the brothers would lose, even if all the bad guys were killed. It would be best to hold off on that approach until the threat of death is imminent and there's no other option. The phrase "if we have to go, we're taking you with us" would be very appropriate.

Look guys, think about it. If somebody starts shooting little rocks at you, to get your attention. Wouldn't you just get in one of the ships and fly around to the back side of Dactyl? I mean, it's not as though you couldn't see them coming over the intervening kilometers. Just get the hell out of the way. Pirates-as-targets problem solved.

And that's why I said the brothers would lose. Although forcing the pirates to go to the lee side of Dactyl DOES have its advantages.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 23, 2010, 04:15:33 pm
Why didn't their radio have encryption? You get the advantages of radio described in the story along with privacy. This is standard practice right now (Blackberries, Skype) so surely it would be a standard precaution against claim jumpers in the Belt.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 23, 2010, 04:21:46 pm
By the way, the expelled rocks aren't small. You can see that some of them are bigger than a man. That would be a boulder weighing in the vicinity of a ton. Even one of those would disable the pirates.


Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 23, 2010, 08:32:29 pm
Why didn't their radio have encryption? You get the advantages of radio described in the story along with privacy. This is standard practice right now (Blackberries, Skype) so surely it would be a standard precaution against claim jumpers in the Belt.

True, but crime is much rarer in the Belt than under a government. Adding another layer of complexity to your gear--especially safety gear--isn't really worth it. Besides, there is a much simpler solution...
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: enemyofthestate on July 23, 2010, 09:16:05 pm
I don't know what fabrication tools they have on hand so this may not be possible.

If they can voice control the shuttle but cannot reach it with omni-directional broadcast they can make a microwave horn to concentrate the beam and increase the range.  I used to do the calculations on a TI hand held calculator in college so I'm guessing that little computer should be able to handle them.  Assuming one or the other knows how.

Also does the shuttle or ship have a laser comm receiver?
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Azure Priest on July 24, 2010, 12:04:12 am
By the way, the expelled rocks aren't small. You can see that some of them are bigger than a man. That would be a boulder weighing in the vicinity of a ton. Even one of those would disable the pirates.




If it hits. The bigger they are, the easier they are to see coming. Harder to dodge or control though.

Also encryption wouldn't have helped if they were merely followed and triangulated. It would help NOW, if the bad guys are actively listening, but would not likely have prevented the sabotage.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 24, 2010, 05:33:49 am
Why didn't their radio have encryption? You get the advantages of radio described in the story along with privacy. This is standard practice right now (Blackberries, Skype) so surely it would be a standard precaution against claim jumpers in the Belt.

True, but crime is much rarer in the Belt than under a government. Adding another layer of complexity to your gear--especially safety gear--isn't really worth it. Besides, there is a much simpler solution...

Your explanation is contrived, like so much in the story. You're determined that no mere reader will outguess you but at the end of the day you're just a cartoonist, a fantasist playing games.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 24, 2010, 07:44:36 am
Why didn't their radio have encryption? You get the advantages of radio described in the story along with privacy. This is standard practice right now (Blackberries, Skype) so surely it would be a standard precaution against claim jumpers in the Belt.

True, but crime is much rarer in the Belt than under a government. Adding another layer of complexity to your gear--especially safety gear--isn't really worth it. Besides, there is a much simpler solution...

Your explanation is contrived, like so much in the story. You're determined that no mere reader will outguess you but at the end of the day you're just a cartoonist, a fantasist playing games.

Of course he is. And the point is to have fun. If it isn't fun then why not play somewhere else?

If their com gear is digital then they could do encryption entirely in software for essentially no extra cost. But if it's a society where people don't feel the need to keep economic secrets, what happens if you do encryption? People will think it's about illicit sex....

So it makes sense for them to talk about how rich they might get unencrypted. And now that they have a need for secrets they might turn on the encryption, or they might simply not think about it since it's something that they never use, not being the sort to go after other men's wives when the husbands are not OK with it.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 24, 2010, 09:59:03 am
It is contrived because claim jumping is NOT unheard of in the LNS belter universe, having featured as a plot element in Ceres. Crime in the belter universe is NOT unheard of or why would there be the custom of wearing guns or other weapons? The gun carrying (nothing wrong with that, per se) is obviously a transplant from LNS's USA centric worldview of today but in the USA of today, or in any society, weapon carrying is important precisely because of the prevalence of crime. So in belter land you can't have it both ways: either there is crime and that's why people walk around with guns and knives or there isn't crime and weapons would be something most people wouldn't bother with for the same reason Sandy states to explain the absence of routine encryption.

One thing we know they'll have in decades to come is ridiculously cheap, ubiquitous computer power tucked into everything (the ock being one example), so routine encryption in personal communications, as you note, would be of practically no cost.

Also, encryption would be more important in a state-less society because, for example, there would be no state enforced so-called "intellectual property." If you don't want someone to steal your secrets then you have no option but to keep them secret.

These plot elements are arbitrarily chosen ad hoc just to move the story along: there is no encryption because if you had encryption then there would be no story or a completely different story. Then the author might actually have to make a serious attempt to portray the world of the future.

Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 24, 2010, 10:08:35 am
Your explanation is contrived, like so much in the story.

Yup, I made it up. That's why the call it fiction. I like J Thomas' response. We all wait with anticipation for your submission to Big Head Press.

You're determined that no mere reader will outguess you...

My readers are far from mere. They have come up with several creative solutions and are always nipping at my heels with good plot guesses. But yeah, if I can hold them at bay, I get off on it.

... but at the end of the day you're just a cartoonist, a fantasist playing games.

Guilty as charged--except for the cartoonist part, I am at the stick figure level; Lee Oaks is the talented artist who draws EFT. I am a "fantasist playing games" and damned proud of it. EFT has been in the top 100 comics almost from its inception. So I guess somebody likes it. I understand your envy. (Just a suggestion, have you considered switching to decaf?) Cheers.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 24, 2010, 10:23:26 am
It is contrived because claim jumping is NOT unheard of in the LNS belter universe...

I don't think I heard about this universe? Citation, please. Hey, maybe having a lot of claim-jumping is contrived. Seems so to me.

... but in the USA of today, or in any society, weapon carrying is important precisely because of the prevalence of crime. So in belter land you can't have it both ways: either there is crime and that's why people walk around with guns and knives or there isn't crime and weapons would be something most people wouldn't bother with...

Tee hee, you've got it exactly backwards. Read the fucking literature. The unarmed UK has twice the violent crime rate as the partially armed US. Even more armed Switzerland and Finland are even lower on the violent crime scale. So, as the book title says, More Guns, Less Crime:

http://www.amazon.com/More-Guns-Less-Crime-Understanding/dp/0226493660/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1279984809&sr=1-1

Robert, I think it's about time you armed yourself... with some knowledge.   ::)
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Azure Priest on July 24, 2010, 10:37:40 am
Asides from Sandy's points, there are several corrections that you need to be aware of.

1.) Sandy didn't say "NO crime," he said "LESS crime." While the philosophy behind that is debatable, it does not detract from the story and does not "hand wave" the fact that the brothers are currently victims of crime or criminal intent.

2.) It's not just "USA centric" to carry some kind of arms for self defense. Anywhere that police forces are either non-existent, far away, or unreliable people carry arms to defend themselves, even if it's "criminal" to do so.

3.) People, in general, don't like to complicate their lives more than absolutely necessary.  Encryption software or hardware can and does fail. If the brothers did not feel the need to encrypt their coms, they would not do so, seeing as speaking to each other in static or gibberish would, at best, be seriously counter-productive. Not to mention that scrambler gear adds significant costs to their actions, both in the initial investment, and in continuing operating costs, fuel, oxygen, etc. Also, aside from the quasi-magical "tanglenet," it seems in the futuristic world of EFT, all forms of encryption can or already have been cracked.

(I'm quite curious how the brothers would connect to tanglenet without using radio which can be triangulated. Is it some kind of rapidly, randomly changing "cell" structure where the signals are routed through nearby satellites of some kind?)

4.) Sandy IS making a "serious effort" to portray the world of the future. The fact that he doesn't always succeed (at least in YOUR eyes) does not negate the fact that he IS trying. We also await your submissions to Big Head Press with baited breath.

5.) If Sandy's praise was all through private messages, I can see how you would think that Sandy "cheats" or is just "determined that no 'mere' reader outguess [him];" however, if you had actually been paying attention to the forums, you'd note that Sandy actually praises people who successfully predict plot elements or actually read and PAY ATTENTION to the comic. He also does a real good job of keeping people guessing if their predictions are true or not until the plot actually comes to pass. There are many comics that I could mention where the author DOES change the comic in response to the forums just to prove certain posters right or wrong and then turn around and claim that "the forum had such good material.." This is not one of those comics.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: wdg3rd on July 24, 2010, 12:51:50 pm

Your explanation is contrived, like so much in the story. You're determined that no mere reader will outguess you but at the end of the day you're just a cartoonist, a fantasist playing games.

And you're just an ignorant suck, knowing no more science than you got in junior high school (which wasn't much in my day, but the local library still had books on chemistry and rocketry), probably a lot less in yours.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: NemoUtopia on July 24, 2010, 03:43:53 pm
We also await your submissions to Big Head Press with baited breath.

*cues 'The More You Know' music* It may indeed be possible to bait your breath and therefore entice people with it, however what is usually meant is 'bated' breath, which comes from contractions and 'abated'. Geoffrey Taylor consciously uses this homophone in a verse of his poem Cruel Clever Cat:

Sally, having swallowed cheese,
Directs down holes the scented breeze,
Enticing thus with baited breath
Nice mice to an untimely death.

 ;) Ah, English: how I hate to love thee and love to hate thee...


In terms of the comic, consider the recent claim jumping similar to the recent mugger. These things are less common in the Belt, which is why the raise such comment and concern when they happen. Just a guess, but both the mugger and claim jumpers are probably newer to the belt than most and unfamiliar with the work environment there. I would guess that because of the tangle-net and other technology, non tangle-net forms of communication are either impractical or impossible to encrypt. Similarly, it's been implied that only tangle-net communication is untraceable.

I would equate it to someone in the modern US who does simple concealed carry ('it's in the glove compartment') and someone who does concealed carry while having a no-catch weapon profile, angled and fitted holster, and only wears coats/jackets that allow smooth draw. The first person isn't really expecting trouble, but has taken a basic precaution. The second person is either expecting trouble or has run into situations in the past to make them more wary in general. Considering the dialogue so far, my guess is that the brothers were the first case and have just hit their trigger event to become the second (if they survive). Considering how people prepare for work and travel, this really isn't an outlandish scenario by any means.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: dough560 on July 24, 2010, 04:17:41 pm
Robert.  There are times to sit back and watch a story unfold.  You can agree with the story or establish your reasoning as to why not.  Then there's always "Why didn't I think of that!"

Simple answers are usually the best as are simple threat responses.  What is the simplest response to the situation which increases survivability?  In this case, I don't know and am just enjoying the story.  I don't believe this is a "No Matter What You Do, You're Dead!" situation.

Considerations:  
1st:  Personnel / Skill Sets / Life Support Duration.  2nd:  Communications.  3rd:  Available Equipment.  4th:  Environment / Terrain.  5th:  Identify and prioritize threats as active, in--active or environmental.  As of 07.23. the threats are either inactive or environmental, thus lower on the list.  An active threat likely to cause immediate injury or death would advance to the head of the list.

I suggest you do your best to set aside your beliefs (prejudices and preconceptions).  It's easy to get lost in the woods by concentrating on a particular tree.  For a single tree is what your beliefs let you see.

Logic.  Systemic Thought.  Inspiration.  Hurt if you are not used to them.  They help you learn.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 24, 2010, 10:00:15 pm
It is contrived because claim jumping is NOT unheard of in the LNS belter universe, having featured as a plot element in Ceres. Crime in the belter universe is NOT unheard of or why would there be the custom of wearing guns or other weapons? The gun carrying (nothing wrong with that, per se) is obviously a transplant from LNS's USA centric worldview of today but in the USA of today, or in any society, weapon carrying is important precisely because of the prevalence of crime. So in belter land you can't have it both ways: either there is crime and that's why people walk around with guns and knives or there isn't crime and weapons would be something most people wouldn't bother with for the same reason Sandy states to explain the absence of routine encryption.

Study existing foreign societies and you'll find things that don't make sense the way you'd expect them to. Sometimes when you get real familiar with them, things start to make sense in their own context. Sometimes not.

Today christians don't wear crosses in case they need to be ready to crucify somebody. It's more ritual and fashion. If people believe their liberty came from their guns, then they could carry guns without actually expecting to use them. They could practice with them to impress each other with their marksmanship etc without actively thinking their lives will depend on it. Your idea that widespread crime is the only reason that people would carry weapons is, well, too limited.

Quote
One thing we know they'll have in decades to come is ridiculously cheap, ubiquitous computer power tucked into everything (the ock being one example), so routine encryption in personal communications, as you note, would be of practically no cost.

It seems that way to me. Possibly given incredible computing power people might get better at breaking encryption than at encrypting. That seems ridiculous to me, but that's from my perspective in my own time. Things might be very different if you have millions of parallel processors. I would imagine that any new hardware that breaks encryption could be adapted to do better encryption too, well enough to trump the decryption. But that's my prejudice, guessing about technology which has not been invented.

Actually, when I think about massive processing power I figure it might change an economy into something hard to imagine. Like, a distributed network could watch everybody all the time and make it particularly easy to hire work done. Like, you look at the corridor outside your apartment and notice it's littered. You tell the network you'll contribute $20 toward keeping it clean. Then whenever somebody walks down the corridor who's open to small monetary offers, the network makes them an offer to clean up the litter. Somebody else wants a small amount of plastic to recycle, and offers a price. The network tells whoever cleans the corridor to separate out plastic trash, and leave it for somebody who's traveling in the right direction to take it....

We suppose that free markets work best because anybody who tries to track too many details gets overwhelmed. With the processing power to track many trillions of details and collate them, free markets could be fantastically more efficient. But only if the network knows what you want to buy and what you're willing to sell. Keeping secrets from the network makes it harder for you to get what you want.

Quote
Also, encryption would be more important in a state-less society because, for example, there would be no state enforced so-called "intellectual property." If you don't want someone to steal your secrets then you have no option but to keep them secret.

It's true that without IP enforcement any IP you want to keep secret would have to be trade secrets. On the other hand, if you don't have what it takes to be profitable if somebody else knows how to do what you do, wouldn't you be better off to do something else? The society as a whole would be better off if the more efficient team does the work that you do badly. Maybe you'd be better off too.

You keep talking as if there's only one way things could work, or only two ways.

Quote
These plot elements are arbitrarily chosen ad hoc just to move the story along: there is no encryption because if you had encryption then there would be no story or a completely different story. Then the author might actually have to make a serious attempt to portray the world of the future.

It was not that important to the plot that the bad guys find out about them from their unencrypted communications. Some other way for the bad guys to find out about them would have worked just fine. While this might have been an arbitrary plot element which moved the story along, it's wrong to say that without it there would be no story or a completely different story. It could be a slightly different story. It could be left unexplained how the bad guys found out about them, for example, and a method might be revealed nearer the end. Explaining that near the beginning isn't necessary for the story, it's just the way it got done.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 25, 2010, 04:58:33 am
... but at the end of the day you're just a cartoonist, a fantasist playing games.

Guilty as charged--except for the cartoonist part, I am at the stick figure level; Lee Oaks is the talented artist who draws EFT. I am a "fantasist playing games" and damned proud of it. EFT has been in the top 100 comics almost from its inception. So I guess somebody likes it. I understand your envy. (Just a suggestion, have you considered switching to decaf?) Cheers.

What's to be envious of? I am about as interested in being a serial cartoonist as I am in being a drug dealer, television producer or other type of panderer to people's escapist inclinations. And as you admit, you're not even a very good cartoonist.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 25, 2010, 05:02:33 am

Your explanation is contrived, like so much in the story. You're determined that no mere reader will outguess you but at the end of the day you're just a cartoonist, a fantasist playing games.

And you're just an ignorant suck, knowing no more science than you got in junior high school (which wasn't much in my day, but the local library still had books on chemistry and rocketry), probably a lot less in yours.


Care to cite and refute anything I've written.. you know, like you were taught in high school English and debates?

Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Robert on July 25, 2010, 05:18:11 am
It is contrived because claim jumping is NOT unheard of in the LNS belter universe...

I don't think I heard about this universe? Citation, please. Hey, maybe having a lot of claim-jumping is contrived. Seems so to me.

... but in the USA of today, or in any society, weapon carrying is important precisely because of the prevalence of crime. So in belter land you can't have it both ways: either there is crime and that's why people walk around with guns and knives or there isn't crime and weapons would be something most people wouldn't bother with...

Tee hee, you've got it exactly backwards. Read the fracking literature. The unarmed UK has twice the violent crime rate as the partially armed US. Even more armed Switzerland and Finland are even lower on the violent crime scale. So, as the book title says, More Guns, Less Crime:

http://www.amazon.com/More-Guns-Less-Crime-Understanding/dp/0226493660/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1279984809&sr=1-1

Robert, I think it's about time you armed yourself... with some knowledge.   ::)

I was not talking about forced disarmament, obviously, but the neglect to use something that may not be needed, so it you that has things bass ackwards. To recap: Your argument that encryption would not be commonplace because there would be less need for it because there would be much less crime applies just as as much to the carrying of weapons. We just take your argument and substitute the word "weapons" for "encryption."
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: wdg3rd on July 25, 2010, 05:42:43 am
... but at the end of the day you're just a cartoonist, a fantasist playing games.

Guilty as charged--except for the cartoonist part, I am at the stick figure level; Lee Oaks is the talented artist who draws EFT. I am a "fantasist playing games" and damned proud of it. EFT has been in the top 100 comics almost from its inception. So I guess somebody likes it. I understand your envy. (Just a suggestion, have you considered switching to decaf?) Cheers.

What's to be envious of? I am about as interested in being a serial cartoonist as I am in being a drug dealer, television producer or other type of panderer to people's escapist inclinations. And as you admit, you're not even a very good cartoonist.

Bobby, what the hell are you here for then?  Sandy doesn't draw, he writes.  Have you read any of the other strips here?  Like The Probability Broach,  or Roswell, Texas or (my personal favorite and I've been a fan of L. Neil Smith since before you got out of diapers and he wasn't involved in that one) Odysseus the Rebel?  Sandy suggested switching to decaf, I suggest just sobering up and/or going away.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 25, 2010, 11:59:13 am
To recap: Your argument that encryption would not be commonplace because there would be less need for it because there would be much less crime applies just as as much to the carrying of weapons. We just take your argument and substitute the word "weapons" for "encryption."

Seems reasonable, but it does not comport with the facts. I was one of the original Cypherpunks. Today, even most of those folks don't use crypto as a matter of course. Yet, a large number are heavily armed. Contradiction? Maybe, but it's a fact. (Also, they often own lock-picks , read SF and self-describe as libertarians or the liker. I don't know why these overlapping clusters exist, but they do.) In any case, crypto and guns address different threat models. So substituting one word for the other simply does not work, because they are not equivalent, whether you think so or not.

Here's a little test, Robert, that should give this forum an insight into your value system. Whom, in the world, do you admire?
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: terry_freeman on July 25, 2010, 07:18:41 pm
I think it may be plausible to say that encryption has been rendered useless by quantum computers or somesuch, therefore it has been discarded as frivolous. I'm not buying arguments about the cost of encryption, since it is merely a bit of software, which is available for free even today. It might be that quantum computing is cheap enough that random eavesdroppers can decrypt communications.

Regarding carrying arms in space correlating with levels of crime, that's a naive assumption. There are lots of fire extinguishers in American homes which are almost never used. I'd guess that homes where fire extinguishers are present are less likely to have inhabitants who fall asleep while smoking. People prudent enough to install fire extinguishers are prudent enough to reduce risks.

Switzerland has lots of full-auto battle rifles - one per adult male, or nearly so - and very low rates of crime, and no invasion worries for a lot of years.

As others have said, people might carry weapons as a matter of honor and prudence; it is part of being a good right-thinking AnCap person. It is no great stretch to imagine that shooting competitions would be as common as bowling leagues or card games; it's fun to meet with the guys and gals and put a few holes in targets. In an AnCap society, neighbors are unlikely to make up spurious complaints - and there is no "governing authority" to turn spurious complaints into bans.

In an asteroid belt, there's a lot of empty space to set up ranges.

I'm having trouble with the notion of a human being surviving a trip through a mass driver. I'm hoping this is a step in a chain of reasoning which leads to something more useful.

Is there any reason the mass driver cannot be used as a rocket engine? It's portable, for some definition of portable, can be cut loose from the asteroid, turned appropriately, and go wherever it is pointed, given fuel and propellant.  A little bit of handwaving, some creative engineering, and that magic Ock computer, and I'm ready to believe. ;)


Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 25, 2010, 07:58:49 pm
I think it may be plausible to say that encryption has been rendered useless by quantum computers or somesuch, therefore it has been discarded as frivolous. I'm not buying arguments about the cost of encryption, since it is merely a bit of software, which is available for free even today. It might be that quantum computing is cheap enough that random eavesdroppers can decrypt communications.

Here's the deal. The tanglenet is encrypted, for some value of encrypted. It's instantaneous and does not travel through intervening space. So tanglenet communications are untraceable and cannot be intecepted. So most daily communications are snoop-proof. For close work, though, radio makes more sense since it is possible to locate and range. Yeah, you could have crypto on top of that, but why would that be necessary on a mining or construction site? Let's say suit radios are good for a hundred clicks or so. Normally, there won't be anyone that near you on a mining site. In this arc, we have an unusual situation. Of course, there is a simple solution...

Switzerland has lots of full-auto battle rifles - one per adult male, or nearly so - and very low rates of crime, and no invasion worries for a lot of years.

Not only that, these weapons and large portions of ammo are not in Swiss Army garrisons, they are in everyone's home. In addition, kids regularly take their competition rifles to school for after-school practice and competitions. Though the image of a teenager bicycling to school with a rifle over his shoulder fills hysterical US hoplophobes with images of Columbine, it doesn't faze the more rational Swiss.

As others have said, people might carry weapons as a matter of honor and prudence; it is part of being a good right-thinking AnCap person. It is no great stretch to imagine that shooting competitions would be as common as bowling leagues or card games...

If you will remember, this very concept was alluded to way back in the World Ceres arc:

     http://bigheadpress.com/eft?page=21

Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Azure Priest on July 26, 2010, 07:14:28 am
Here's a little test, Robert, that should give this forum an insight into your value system. Whom, in the world, do you admire?

I have my suspicions, Robert might be part of a group name that starts with "l" but is not "libertarian."
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: dough560 on July 26, 2010, 09:31:18 am
Robert seems to be one of those who don't agree with the created universe, and believes Sandy has to change said universe to fit his (Robert's) beliefs.  What ever they are.

Rather childish actually.

None are so blind as they who will not see, or so deaf as they who will not hear.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: quadibloc on July 26, 2010, 11:52:50 am
Though the image of a teenager bicycling to school with a rifle over his shoulder fills hysterical US hoplophobes with images of Columbine, it doesn't faze the more rational Swiss.
Since many American schools are filled with people who use switchblade knives to rob other children of their lunch money, they've responded with metal detectors. This isn't irrational, because even if all the children had knives, bigger kids would pick on smaller ones.

When the United States committed the crime of slavery, it basically ended up forfeiting its right to the kind of homogenous society in which an armed citizenry would raise no eyebrows. I suppose it could earn that right back by fixing things so that black people and white people were totally equal, percentile by percentile, in wealth, income, education and social status. Socialists claim to be for achieving that outcome, but for various reasons never quite really get so ambitious in practice.

I expect that the advantages of inherited wealth will persist from generation through generation in a libertarian type society as much, or more, than in what we have now, but I suspect I will be hearing arguments to the contrary.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 26, 2010, 01:13:27 pm
I expect that the advantages of inherited wealth will persist from generation through generation in a libertarian type society as much, or more, than in what we have now, but I suspect I will be hearing arguments to the contrary.

Not from me. You have stated an opinion. My opinion (as you probably expected) is to the contrary, but neither of us really knows. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 26, 2010, 01:44:31 pm
I expect that the advantages of inherited wealth will persist from generation through generation in a libertarian type society as much, or more, than in what we have now, but I suspect I will be hearing arguments to the contrary.

First, note that Mr. Sandfort has posted a link explaining the overall sweep of the current approach.

http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/anarchism/faq.html#part11

These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists. AnCap for short. If you want to argue with them, at least notice who you're arguing with.

Some AnCaps do not recognise IP ownership. Some do not recognise land ownership. Presumably some do not recognise the right to sequester resources. Many do not recognise rights granted to corporations as opposed to the individuals who participate in corporations.

Of course the details of AnCap societies could vary widely depending on the rights that those societies recognise. But if fundamentally wealth depends on the good will of the rest of the society, then families could control lots of resources while the rest of the society believes they are doing a good job of using those resources for society's benefit. When people get the sense that a family sequesters resources so it can grab more resources without sufficient mutual benefit, then that society will create ways to work around them -- competition etc which is likely to reduce that family's wealth.

This is a very general concept and as I said the details could vary widely. Some AnCap societies might allow particular families to get so much control over communications etc that they can abuse their control. I would not consider those to be ideal AnCap societies.

There are obviously very many different ways to build AnCap societies. Some of them would not work. Some of them would give different outcomes from others. Since there's a lot of disagreement in detail even over what's desirable much less how to achieve it, I don't think it makes sense to argue about what must inevitably be true. Unless we make "Any True Scotsman" arguments.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Brugle on July 26, 2010, 07:10:53 pm
These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists. AnCap for short.
I'm not exactly sure who you are including in "these particular people" , but the anarcho-capitalists that I know (including myself) consider themselves to be libertarians.  (There are libertarians who aren't anarcho-capitalists, of course.)  Anarcho-capaitalists might consider the term "libertarian" to be confusing (for example, some people might consider "libertarian" to mean a member of the local Libertarian Party), but don't disavow it as far as I know.

But I consider debates about definitions to be tedious.  If you use definitions of "anarcho-capitalist" and "libertarian" that makes the first something other than a subset of the second, then I have no objection as long as you make your definitions clear when they matter.

Some AnCaps ... do not recognise land ownership. Presumably some do not recognise the right to sequester resources.
I find it surprising that any anarcho-capitalist would not recognize land ownership or would not recognize the right to do anything (excluding the initiation of force) with any property that had been legitimately obtained.  Please give a cite (preferably a link).
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 27, 2010, 12:11:14 am
These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists. AnCap for short.
I'm not exactly sure who you are including in "these particular people" , but the anarcho-capitalists that I know (including myself) consider themselves to be libertarians.

As the link explains in section 13, AnCap is a subset of libertarian.

Quote
Some AnCaps ... do not recognise land ownership. Presumably some do not recognise the right to sequester resources.
I find it surprising that any anarcho-capitalist would not recognize land ownership or would not recognize the right to do anything (excluding the initiation of force) with any property that had been legitimately obtained.  Please give a cite (preferably a link).

http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/anarchism/faq.html#part11

Section 11 beginning "A high-profile division among anarcho-capitalists...."

The relevant phrase in your sentence is "legitimately obtained". Here's a quick argument -- should I have all rights to a piece of land on the grounds that my great-great-grandfather was the one who took it from the Indians? Or because my great-great-grandfather was the lawyer who wrote up the deed that took it from the guy who took it from the Indians? Or because my grandfather bought it from the guy whose grandfather stole it from the guy who took it from the Indians? People get rights to land because society grants them those rights, because their neighbors agree. In an AnCap society people have whatever rights the society agrees to, and land ownership is one of the things to be negotiated.

This is one of the things that went bad in Iceland. Everybody recognised land ownership. But there was only so much farmland to go around and the first generation to move there got it all. If you arrived later you had to find somebody who'd let you live on his land under his orders or else get back on the boat. Because they got there first.

I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation, from too many people for the available resources. When there is a limited and limiting resource -- land, uranium,  etc -- should I get to have a monopoly on that resource for no other reason than my grandfather had a monopoly and left it to me? That isn't necessarily fair or good.

On the other hand, what noncoercive institution could regulate the control of scarce resources? One obvious approach would be to set up a market and rent out control of scarce resources to the high bidders. But if I already have a monopoly how are you going to outbid me? You can bid your savings against my monopoly profits. And if we have a nonmarket regulatory system it could get subverted and create the very problems it's supposed to alleviate.

I don't see that it's necessarily right for landlords to get higher rents just by buying enough valuable locations that they can reduce competition for the rent of those lands. But in practice you can lay claim to anything you want, and society decides whether your threat to shoot people who try to use your self-cl;aimed property is a legitimate defense of your rights or a coercive attempt to loot other people's rights.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: quadibloc on July 27, 2010, 02:45:20 am
I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation, from too many people for the available resources.
My tendency is to regard it as a flaw in the AnCap argument that there is a lack of discussion of how such a society would deal with overcrowding. I see that kind of a society working well, and perhaps being the only workable society, in an open-ended frontier situation. Unlimited available resources is one of the things that helps, by making labor valuable, and thus leading to emotionally acceptable outcomes from the free market.

My chief concern with the scenario of an overcrowded world comes from the level of expense required for policing, though.

The objection you've raised is a different one, which I don't see as too strong an argument against AnCap. Of course the first people to take the land and resources away from the furry animals own them. Or, as a Libertarian would say, they own as much of those resources as they can effectively convert to use. So they can claim their own farms, but not mineral rights over large idle tracts of land far in advance of their being workable.

Others who come along later will either be their descendants - in which case, things get split up among the new generation - or people who voluntarily came from elsewhere. As long as there are ample resources, even if you don't own them to derive rents from them, you will have plenty of opportunity to convert your labor into wealth on favorable terms.

So the initial settlers owning all the land isn't something I regard as a problem.

A general insufficiency of land and resources, so that labor cannot be converted into wealth effectively, on the other hand, is a serious problem. But that is a problem for any economic system. The solution is advances in technology that let us do more with less. While resources are short, therefore, the ideal economic system is definitely not a socialistic one that spreads the misery around equally, thus ensuring no one lives comfortably enough to get a good education and discover the new technologies that would lead to a way out. Instead, one that allows for a privileged elite to live comfortably, and which leaves the great mass of humanity in such conditions as to depress their fertility sooner rather than later (after their numbers have so increased that they have utterly despoiled the environment's future usefulness)... might, however harsh and ugly it seems, actually be one of the better responses to the situation. And, historically, that's what past state societies were like.

So, socialism, as a reaction to the cruelties of past state societies, really has little moral claim on anarcho-capitalism. Socialism tends to be a demagogic con job, leading to Pharaoh re-appearing in the guise of Stalin. AnCap, on the other hand, doesn't give the poor handouts, but it gives them their freedom, which presumably lets them do the best they can even in a difficult situation.

Myself, I think there's a need for original thinking. No, the world doesn't owe you a living. But it might be argued that your parents do. People ought to have more sense than to inflict overcrowding on the next generation of humans. Margaret Sanger was a radical socialist who adopted reactionary views as protective coloration, apparently. So she never turned family limitation into a full-blown political ideology to rival Locke and Marx.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 27, 2010, 04:35:44 am
My chief concern with the scenario of an overcrowded world comes from the level of expense required for policing, though.

That's a big concern if you're in the elite who pays for policing. If you're one of the people who can only starve or steal, it looks different. Revolutions tend to come when there are too many people who have nothing left to lose. People who philosophise about what would be fair and what would be an improvement tend not to do that until they have no better choice. Revolutions tend not to have the outcomes their propagandists claimed people should hope for. Mostly everybody knows that. But when you have no hope from the existing system, even a small hope is better. If things get real disorganized maybe you can grab something and hold onto it....

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The objection you've raised is a different one, which I don't see as too strong an argument against AnCap.

I'm not making an argument against AnCap. I'm pointing out a situation that might have to be dealt with. Of course, if places that have too many people never give up their governments then it won't be an AnCap problem.

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Of course the first people to take the land and resources away from the furry animals own them. Or, as a Libertarian would say, they own as much of those resources as they can effectively convert to use. So they can claim their own farms, but not mineral rights over large idle tracts of land far in advance of their being workable.

If you are the first to use something that gives you some sort of right to it. At the least you deserve a fair wage for the work you put into improving it, to the extent your changes are an improvement.

So, if you're a woodchopper does that fact give you the right to as much forest as you can clearcut before your first forest grows itself back? This is all murky to me.

If you have resources to buy land with, why shouldn't you be allowed to corner the market in mineral rights, provided you can persuade the other owners to sell?

Again, I'm not making an argumen it can't work. Anything people can agree on can work out somehow. I just don't see a good argument why any of the proposals I've heard are fair, or will have a good outcome when resources are finite.

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As long as there are ample resources, even if you don't own them to derive rents from them, you will have plenty of opportunity to convert your labor into wealth on favorable terms.

Provided the owners want a lot more than they have, they'll pay you for labor. But if the owners need 10,000 workers to produce all the luxury they want plus a sufficiency of necessities for the laborers, why should they pay 100,000 workers to produce a sufficiency for 100,000 laborers plus something more?

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A general insufficiency of land and resources, so that labor cannot be converted into wealth effectively, on the other hand, is a serious problem. But that is a problem for any economic system.

Yes! Not an argument against AnCap. A problem that needs a solution under any system that encounters it.

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The solution is advances in technology that let us do more with less.

That's the 1945 solution, which worked well from roughly 1945-1965. It might work well again sometimes. The less desirable solution is to go through a period of destruction until the surviving population can live on what's available. It isn't a plan. It's the default that happens when plans fail.

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While resources are short, therefore, the ideal economic system is definitely not a socialistic one that spreads the misery around equally, thus ensuring no one lives comfortably enough to get a good education and discover the new technologies that would lead to a way out.

People make silly parodies of AnCap, like saying it's an anarchy where everybody takes whatever they want. This is a silly parody of socialism. But no matter, there's no reason to discuss socialist ideas here.

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AnCap, on the other hand, doesn't give the poor handouts, but it gives them their freedom, which presumably lets them do the best they can even in a difficult situation.

It could pay some of them to be security guards to protect the elite from the rest. You, as one of the nonelite, could have the freedom to do whatever you want that no security guard tells you not to do.

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No, the world doesn't owe you a living. But it might be argued that your parents do. People ought to have more sense than to inflict overcrowding on the next generation of humans.

Traditionally the poor faced a chaotic situation where some or all of their children might die young. In that context it makes sense to have spares. It increases the chance they won't all die young. It makes good sense for individuals who want to have surviving children. But the result is to increase the population when on average more than two of their children do survive.

Telling poor people not to have more children than they can afford is useless. They don't know how many children they will be able to afford. It depends on job markets etc. And there's Thurber and White's advice -- the best time not to have a son is 18 years before the next world war. Poor people are the very worst at planning far in the future to make the society better.

The method which has been extremely successful at reducing birthrate in north america and europe is the salary. Pay people an utterly dependable salary, and don't give them raises just because they have children. They can plan ahead. They can predict how much it will cost to send their children to college and can save for it, or accept that their kids won't go. After making those predictions they tend to have somewhere in the range of 1.5 to 1.8 children. When you aren't poor but every extra child brings you closer to poverty, you tend to stop at 1 or maybe 2. As a result we have lots of jobs for foreigners because it's mostly our poor people who are replacing themselves.

The obvious capitalist solution to overpopulation is to let the market reduce the supply of people to match the job market demand. But this has the problem that if job market demand goes up it will take around 19 years for supply to respond to that demand. So this is not an ideal solution. I don't know any ideal solutions.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: quadibloc on July 27, 2010, 08:55:49 am
That's the 1945 solution, which worked well from roughly 1945-1965. It might work well again sometimes.
I think the problem with it isn't that it's an out of date solution, but simply that advances in science arrive on their own schedule - and, unlike microelectronics, agriculture is a mature technology, so it doesn't grow at a Moore's Law rate. Instead, its natural rate of growth is one that is slower than that of population - even in developed countries when they are prosperous and contented.

Nobody has come up with a political system that creates resources out of thin air. So, not only won't I criticize AnCap people for not having one, and I'm not going to ask them to come up with one either. At least they can validly argue that a system that provides maximum freedom won't prohibit technical innovations because they threaten political power structures or entrenched monopolies.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: terry_freeman on July 27, 2010, 12:21:33 pm
India could make some claim to being overcrowded. Or perhaps Hong Kong would be better, having one of the highest population densities in the world.

India tried socialism, which did nothing to alleviate terrible poverty; in fact, conditions worsened. Then India realized that socialism is the problem, not the solution. It moved toward free-market solutions, and has since raised millions of people out of poverty.

Hong Kong, on the other hand, started the free market process over thirty years sooner. The result was a steady rise in per capita income, so great that per capita income in HK exceeded that in Great Britain, and people emigrated from the socialist UK to free-market HK in order to improve their chances.

Absent government force, accumulations of wealth seldom persist. A truism among immigrants is "rags to riches in three generations; riches to rags in three generations." Those who inherit great wealth ( in the absence of political protection ) rarely have the skills to maintain or increase it. Within a generation or two, that wealth is inherited by people who fritter it away. This has been known for hundreds of years to everyone except for the devout disciples of Karl Marx.

Today, some young people - especially those of Indian or Chinese ancestry - are leaving the United States to seek better opportunities in India and China. These folks see the US of A becoming more socialistic, less free, while India and China are moving in the opposite direction, away from socialism and toward freedom.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 27, 2010, 12:44:08 pm
That's the 1945 solution, which worked well from roughly 1945-1965. It might work well again sometimes.
I think the problem with it isn't that it's an out of date solution, but simply that advances in science arrive on their own schedule

Agreed! It worked very well at a time when we had a backlog of science (things that were getting developed during the depression but that didn't get deployed much). It might work well at any time, but it's a gamble. You can't depend on it working when you need it to. Worth doing. Much nicer when you aren't betting your life that it will get great new results when you need them.

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Nobody has come up with a political system that creates resources out of thin air. So, not only won't I criticize AnCap people for not having one, and I'm not going to ask them to come up with one either.

Agreed also! And I want to point out that it's possible for an AnCap society to wind up -- at no fault of their system -- with a whole lot of people, perhaps a majority, who have no prospect for anything worth having if they follow the rules, and who have nothing left but their guns.

This is a situation which would be good to avoid.

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At least they can validly argue that a system that provides maximum freedom won't prohibit technical innovations because they threaten political power structures or entrenched monopolies.

If some people have more power or influence than others, they can use that influence to block innovations if they choose to. Presumably they would do that by providing rewards to people who cooperate with them in blocking the innovation, and threatening to stop cooperation generally with people who fail to assist them in blocking it. I can't provide details about how that might work without knowing lots of details about the society. But the general pattern might often be observed unless there are cultural mechanisms to stop it.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Brugle on July 27, 2010, 01:20:23 pm
These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists. AnCap for short.
I'm not exactly sure who you are including in "these particular people" , but the anarcho-capitalists that I know (including myself) consider themselves to be libertarians.

As the link explains in section 13, AnCap is a subset of libertarian.
Which is what I said.  All the anarcho-capitalists that I have had political discussions with (admittedly, not a representative sample) called themselves libertarians.   Why do you think that some anarcho-capitalists would not call themselves libertarians?

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Some AnCaps ... do not recognise land ownership. Presumably some do not recognise the right to sequester resources.
I find it surprising that any anarcho-capitalist would not recognize land ownership or would not recognize the right to do anything (excluding the initiation of force) with any property that had been legitimately obtained.  Please give a cite (preferably a link).

http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/anarchism/faq.html#part11

Section 11 beginning "A high-profile division among anarcho-capitalists...."

My face is red.  I apologize.  I didn't read all of that FAQ this time around, since I have read it before.  I thought that I had reread the relevant passages, but I was wrong.

However, I have some doubts whether Georgists would call themselves anarcho-capitalists.

I also wonder if Georgists should be considered anarchists.  How would a Georgist decide on the proper tax?  How would a Georgist compel payment?  How would a Georgist distribute the proceeds?  I suspect that the mechanisms implemented would be a state (even if not called a state).

One reason I have for doubting section 11 is that some of the divisions in section 12 are superficial.  For example, the individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker called himself a socialist and an anti-capitalist, and he opposed usury (actually, the payment of any interest), which sounds anti-capitalist.  But he used capitalism to mean the system of government privileges (tariffs, monopoly grants, etc.) that today would be called corporatism or state socialism or mercantilism or fascism or interventionism or a mixed economy.   By socialism, he meant anti-capitalism in that sense, not communal ownership or any other sort of shared property.  He thought that once governments stopped giving privileges to the politically powerful, interest would disappear, but agreed with modern anarcho-capitalists that the payment of interest would be OK (although perhaps stupid) when agreed to by the contracting parties.

So, given that the political program of individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker is essentially the same as that of modern anarcho-capitalists, the basis for that FAQ's putting those ideas on different sides of the chart must be either superficial differences in terminology or minor differences in expectations for the future.  In either case, I think the division is more confusing than helpful.  (The network of arrows, denoting influences, could be helpful as long as the reader realizes that it is grossly simplified.)
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: terry_freeman on July 27, 2010, 06:42:22 pm
I do not pretend to understand, but I have met Georgists who claim to be anarchists. I'm just sayin'.

Me, I think Georgists beat up landlords with one hand and install an uber-landlord to collect and redistribute the so-called land rents. That uber-landlord looks like a government to me, and if smaller landlords can be accused of evil, then the same charges may be laid against any uber-landlord government.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: terry_freeman on July 27, 2010, 06:46:15 pm
Hah! It looks like the brothers are trending in the direction which came to my mind earlier:

"Is there any reason the mass driver cannot be used as a rocket engine? It's portable, for some definition of portable, can be cut loose from the asteroid, turned appropriately, and go wherever it is pointed, given fuel and propellant.  A little bit of handwaving, some creative engineering, and that magic Ock computer, and I'm ready to believe. "

As Sandy said, it is not hard to compute a trajectory; achieving it is another thing.

Given continuous observation and re-targeting, the mass driver can be driven to its destination. I think I read something somewhere about an unmanned probe which was pointed in the wrong direction over 90% of the time. Of course it was only a little bit wrong, and it continuously corrected its course.
 
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Brugle on July 27, 2010, 07:30:13 pm
Sorry to keep yanking this thread off-topic, but J Thomas responded to me and I felt that I owed a reply.  (I probably won't respond to replies to this reply.)

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...
I find it surprising that any anarcho-capitalist ... would not recognize the right to do anything (excluding the initiation of force) with any property that had been legitimately obtained.
...
The relevant phrase in your sentence is "legitimately obtained".
If you think that that is the relevant part of my response, then why have you ignored it in the remainder of your posts in this thread?  I don't see many complaints like "people might not legitimately own their property", but I do see many complaints like "people might do something with their property when I would prefer that they do something else".  Which is it: do you grant people the right to do whatever they please (other than initiate force) with their legitimately-owned property, or do you deny them that right regardless of how the property was obtained?

This is one of the things that went bad in Iceland. Everybody recognised land ownership. But there was only so much farmland to go around and the first generation to move there got it all. If you arrived later you had to find somebody who'd let you live on his land under his orders or else get back on the boat. Because they got there first.
Obviously, Iceland was and is rather poor in resources.  But they did very well with what they had (at least until the conversion to Christianity, which (for the first time) guaranteed some people tax income.  It's been several years since I read Njals Saga and various monographs on Iceland, but back then it seemed to me that if there had been a less competitive or stronger (say, with an executive branch) government, things probably would have been much worse.

I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation,
You still don't get it.  An anarcho-capitalist society isn't "run".  People are free to make whatever arrangements they think are best.  There is no master plan.  There is no ultimate boss with thugs to control people's lives.  (There would be crime, but criminals would be recognized as such, not simply given names such as "tax collector" or "state policeman" or "prohibition agent".)

I get to have a monopoly on that resource for no other reason than my grandfather had a monopoly and left it to me? That isn't necessarily fair or good.
It certainly is fair, and almost certainly is good.

Management of a resource by those who legitimately own it may not be perfect, but it is likely to be better than management by those whose only qualification is the ruthlessness and unscrupulousness necessary to obtain political power.

And what happens when you establish the principle that whenever someone develops a resource that is valuable to the community, the community steals it?  No more resources are developed, and those who want to develop resources try to escape.

One obvious approach would be to set up a market and ...
Markets are not "set up".  Markets develop when people voluntarily cooperate.

I don't see that it's necessarily right for landlords to get higher rents just by buying enough valuable locations that they can reduce competition for the rent of those lands.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to collect monopoly profits on a free market?  Many have tried, but I don't know of any who succeeded without direct government help.

Were you around when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market?  I remember the cries of outrage by various whiners, but it was obvious (to those of us who knew some economics) that the attempt would fail.  Sure enough, within weeks the Hunt brothers failed, losing about a billion dollars (back when that was real money).  And that was in the US, where brokers/lenders knew that they could be bailed out if the Hunt brothers didn't pay their debts--it would have been even more difficult in a free market.

Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 27, 2010, 09:22:36 pm
I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation,
You still don't get it.  An anarcho-capitalist society isn't "run".  People are free to make whatever arrangements they think are best.  There is no master plan.  There is no ultimate boss with thugs to control people's lives.  (There would be crime, but criminals would be recognized as such, not simply given names such as "tax collector" or "state policeman" or "prohibition agent".)

In addition, this is just another example of predicating "questions" on baseless assumptions. You spotted the first ("run an AnCap society"). The other is that AnCap societies would suffer disproportionately from "overpopulation." If overpopulation is a problem (another baseless assumption), then it is a human problem. I cannot imagine how it would be less of a problem in a socialist state than in a free society. In fact, the trend of history is that the richer the society, the fewer the children, and the later in life, they are conceived. Compare two countries with vast natural resources. On a per capita or per square mile, basis, Mexico is richer in natural resources than the US. Yet, the Mexican government's heavy hand keeps the people poor and they breed like conejos. I'll take AnCap any day over that.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Karadan on July 27, 2010, 09:22:42 pm
So, it looks like they'll use the rocks to slow their decent?  Couldn't they have done that with their rocket packs in the first place?  Maybe it's something more elaborate than that.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 28, 2010, 05:46:08 am
I have not seen any discussion about how to run an AnCap society that's suffering from overpopulation,
You still don't get it.  An anarcho-capitalist society isn't "run".  People are free to make whatever arrangements they think are best.  There is no master plan.  There is no ultimate boss with thugs to control people's lives.  (There would be crime, but criminals would be recognized as such, not simply given names such as "tax collector" or "state policeman" or "prohibition agent".)

In addition, this is just another example of predicating "questions" on baseless assumptions. You spotted the first ("run an AnCap society"). The other is that AnCap societies would suffer disproportionately from "overpopulation."

It looks to me like you have postulated that many things which today are run by a coercive government would instead be run by social consensus. People who value AnCap ideals would just know what to do to get a good result. If nobody ever knows what to expect from anybody else you don't have an AnCap society. You don't have a society at all. So to me "running an AnCap society" means "creating social consensus and shared habits". Somebody has to do that, and they have to do it in a way that people approve or they fail at it.

I didn't intend to claim that AnCap societies would have more overpopulation than others. And I certainly didn't intend to claim that other societies have good solutions to overpopulation.

What I said was that I have not seen any discussion about how an AnCap society could deal with this.

What looks like the worst case to me is an AnCap society where at some point the majority of the population has no resources available to them except their guns. That could get ugly. I don't say that the worst case for -- for example -- socialism would be better than this worst case.

This is not an argument against AnCap. I've seen no discussion about what would happen in this bad situation, which is not a flaw in AnCap and not necessarily even a flaw in the thinking of AnCap supporters. (Two different things. There's the society which would evolve to meet the challenges it faces, and there's the philosophy of people advocating the society. Any weakness in the latter does not prove that there would be a weakness in the former.)

I'm interested in that topic and in similar not-so-bad situations, but there's no necessity that you be interested in them. There are no existing AnCap societies, and ideally the first test case would happen in a best-case situation and would then handle new challenges using a tested system that's known to function at least sometimes.

Again, I agree that it certainly is not an effective attack on AnCap ideas.

Kind of analogously, someone could ask "What would an AnCap society do if somebody nuked them and practically all of them died? How would you handle that one, huh?" Well, they'd die. Like anybody else who didn't have a working quadrillion-dollar Star Wars system. Arguing that they could be killed off like anybody else is not an effective attack on the concept. (Although killing them off would be an effective attack on the actual society.)
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 28, 2010, 06:14:33 am
These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists. AnCap for short.
I'm not exactly sure who you are including in "these particular people" , but the anarcho-capitalists that I know (including myself) consider themselves to be libertarians.

As the link explains in section 13, AnCap is a subset of libertarian.
Which is what I said.  All the anarcho-capitalists that I have had political discussions with (admittedly, not a representative sample) called themselves libertarians.   Why do you think that some anarcho-capitalists would not call themselves libertarians?

I said it badly. "These particular people do not call themselves libertarians so much as Anarchist Capitalists." That makes it look like AnCap would not be a subset of libertarians. The person I was responding to was making a general argument against libertarian ideas, and I meant to say that he could be more specific, that he was dealing with a particular subset that had more specific beliefs.

Why troll about Christianity in general when you're talking to Baptists and you can tailor your troll to them? ;)

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I have some doubts whether Georgists would call themselves anarcho-capitalists.

I also wonder if Georgists should be considered anarchists.  How would a Georgist decide on the proper tax?  How would a Georgist compel payment?  How would a Georgist distribute the proceeds?  I suspect that the mechanisms implemented would be a state (even if not called a state).

I am not a Georgist so I'm not sure of the answers which I'm sure could vary. But I can imagine it. Here's an example: Imagine that the society agrees that this land tax should be paid. So every year you pay a set fraction of what you say your land is worth. And anybody else can buy it from you at that price, if they want to. They hand you the money and tell you to clear off. If you refuse, if you commit violence to stay on their property, then you are a violent cirminal and you get dealt with however the society deals with people who initiate illicit violence.

As for what happens to the tax money, that could be whatever the society chooses. They could have a widows-and-orphans fund with completely open books, and anybody can read the sob stories that jusify the expenditures and argue about it. Etc. The point of the tax could be not so much to collect usable revenue but to establish a baseline for the required selling price. You have to say how much you will voluntarily sell your land for. If you set the price ridiculously high then you have to pay ridiculously more tax.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: quadibloc on July 28, 2010, 06:22:35 am
Were you around when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market?  I remember the cries of outrage by various whiners, but it was obvious (to those of us who knew some economics) that the attempt would fail.  Sure enough, within weeks the Hunt brothers failed, losing about a billion dollars (back when that was real money).  And that was in the US, where brokers/lenders knew that they could be bailed out if the Hunt brothers didn't pay their debts--it would have been even more difficult in a free market.
Odd, the way I remember it is that the Hunt brothers failed because force was initiated against them: specifically, market regulators suddenly changed the rules so that the Hunt brothers had to quickly sell a lot of their equity in silver rather than holding on to it.

And I want to point out that it's possible for an AnCap society to wind up -- at no fault of their system -- with a whole lot of people, perhaps a majority, who have no prospect for anything worth having if they follow the rules, and who have nothing left but their guns.

This is a situation which would be good to avoid.
It's true that an AnCap society could wind up in that situation without the system being the cause of that.

But failing to have a plan for that kind of situation is a fault in a system. Thus, if a free-enterprise democracy decides to tilt a bit more towards socialism so that everyone has a stake in the system, and crime is down and the society is stable - it's hard for me to fault them for that. Given the amount of money modern democracies spend on their militaries, spending a little more on feeding poor kids seems to be a poor thing to object to.

But the whole socialism versus capitalism debate looks like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic when the real problem is available resources and economic output.

Except, of course, that the dangers of more than a very little socialism are summed up quite nicely here:

And what happens when you establish the principle that whenever someone develops a resource that is valuable to the community, the community steals it?  No more resources are developed, and those who want to develop resources try to escape.
One can take the implosion of Zimbabwe as a recent extreme case in point.

You still don't get it.  An anarcho-capitalist society isn't "run".  People are free to make whatever arrangements they think are best.  There is no master plan.  There is no ultimate boss with thugs to control people's lives.  (There would be crime, but criminals would be recognized as such, not simply given names such as "tax collector" or "state policeman" or "prohibition agent".)
This is a mistake I keep making, although in a subtle way.

I imagine an AnCap society as still functioning a lot like the present-day USA. A vestigial legislative body enacts laws which basically provide specifics on how the Zero-Agression Principle applies in particular situations. And an all-powerful Supreme Court ensures that, no matter how badly the majority may want the politicians to do it, no taxation or conscription can be enacted, because those things are initiations of force.

Individuals have guns, but no small group of individuals has enough guns to overthrow the social order. That is, an armed revolution to something that isn't AnCap could only take place if a majority of the people took part in it. Either people setting up private armies of unusually well-trained and unusually well-armed individuals are an exception to the initiation of force rule, or they're nullified non-violently by imitation (i.e. the citizen militia steps up its activities).

And people generally don't want to be taxed or conscripted.

Thus, I imagine the United States being under AnCap in 1932. No taxation, no conscription, and no prospect of either. No Lend-Lease. No D-Day. No Manhattan Project. By the time the threat is seen, and people shift from isolationism to voluntarily banding together to do something about it, it's too late.

Oh, yes: also no Pearl Harbor. No taxation - hence no ships stationed there to bomb. So one doesn't even have to assume greater intelligence on the part of the Japanese militarists.

Assume that an AnCap United States is such a fat and undefended target that Hitler forbears to invade Russia, and instead keeps Stalin as an ally, and the scenario for disaster is complete.

To people like myself, who view World War II as the defining moment of human history, and Vietnam as only an extremely minor footnote in the Cold War, any social organization other than a state society with apparently paranoid levels of military preparedness, therefore, seems suicidal on its face.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 28, 2010, 06:33:09 am
Sorry to keep yanking this thread off-topic, but J Thomas responded to me and I felt that I owed a reply.  (I probably won't respond to replies to this reply.)

One obvious approach would be to set up a market and ...
Markets are not "set up".  Markets develop when people voluntarily cooperate.

This seemed worth a response anyway. Markets are indeed set up. For commodities, for things bought and sold that can be considered equivalent, each market is originated by a "market maker" or if the market does not start with one, it quickly develops one. Some market theorists argue that this is inevitably better for all participants than a market which is uncontrolled. Their arguments are bogus but they could be right for the wrong reasons -- I have no proof that market-makers are bad for markets. It would be possible for somebody -- a government perhaps -- to selflessly arrange a market with open information about limit orders etc, and without raking off profits and taking risks doing so. I haven't heard that it's ever been tried, though.

Markets that have market-makers but no speculators can run pretty well to the benefit of all involved. Speculators can cause big problems for those who just want to buy and sell at a decent market price, bu it isn't obvious what can be done about them.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 28, 2010, 06:52:05 am
Were you around when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market?  I remember the cries of outrage by various whiners, but it was obvious (to those of us who knew some economics) that the attempt would fail.  Sure enough, within weeks the Hunt brothers failed, losing about a billion dollars (back when that was real money).  And that was in the US, where brokers/lenders knew that they could be bailed out if the Hunt brothers didn't pay their debts--it would have been even more difficult in a free market.
Odd, the way I remember it is that the Hunt brothers failed because force was initiated against them: specifically, market regulators suddenly changed the rules so that the Hunt brothers had to quickly sell a lot of their equity in silver rather than holding on to it.

In that case it doesn't say whether they could have been successful without the intervention.

With no outside intervention, it would be an example of an attempt to corner the market that failed. That proves nothing, since we can expect some attempts to fail. With outside intervention it proves even less.

The argument is that without government intervention nobody can ever corner a market. This argument could be broken with one example, but there is so much government intervention everywhere that any example from reality would be suspect.

So for example I'd consider the De Beer control of world diamond markets for most of a century to be an example of a market that was pretty much cornered.
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Beers
But how much government action was involved in it? I don't know. Even if there's no proof of government intervention, governments could have acted secretly.

So there is no real evidence, and we are left with argument from logic, which is notoriously unreliable.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 28, 2010, 07:39:38 am
This seemed worth a response anyway. Markets are indeed set up. For commodities, for things bought and sold that can be considered equivalent, each market is originated by a "market maker" or if the market does not start with one, it quickly develops one.

When market anarchists say "market," they don't mean a market, they mean the market, that is, the total of all human interactions. This subsumes markets for commodities, information, favors, etc. Of course, brokers (market makers) arise, to make trading more efficient, but Farmer A does not need a market maker to swap his apples for Farmer B's oranges. And it's silly to think of market makers for favors exchanged between personal friends. So most of your argument about the market fail. 

Word to the wise, learn to write more succinctly. Your posts are tedious and full of irrelevant digressions (crap, mostly). Cut the verbosity, and while you are at it, drop the pomposity. You are not going to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs, in this forum. We are way beyond you with regard to the basics.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 28, 2010, 09:08:41 am

When market anarchists say "market," they don't mean a market, they mean the market, that is, the total of all human interactions.

OK, I would not have known. I don't think of my interactions with my wife and children as "market" although it will be interesting to try out that idea.

Still, traditional markets do usually get set up by particular people for particular purposes. Perhaps they would spring up by accident if no one planned them, but people do plan them and the host(s) make rules for them that the visitors follow.

Clearly that isn't true for every single human interaction, but it's true for markets in the traditional sense.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Brugle on July 28, 2010, 11:51:51 am

When market anarchists say "market," they don't mean a market, they mean the market, that is, the total of all human interactions.

OK, I would not have known.
Darn!  I intended to stop off-topic commenting in this thread, but I find that I must apologize again.  I wasn't thinking clearly and wrote ambiguously.  (And again, I do not intend to respond to replies to this reply.)

Partially, I was thinking of the market, as Sandy described.

But also I was thinking of subsets of the market, such as markets for specific types of goods.  And I maintain that in general, those markets are not "set up" (in the sense of a top-down imposition) but develop from the bottom up as people voluntarily make arrangements to facilitate their trade.  For example, the NY stock exchange was formed by a few people who were already trading stocks and wanted some rules (such as standardized terminology) to simplify their business, and did not have a specific location at first.  Even today, it is not necessary to trade stocks through an exchange--you can go next door and buy stocks from your neighbor, if you agree to terms.

Sure, market makers can make trade easier for people who want to either buy or sell at any time.  For example, an antique shop might be willing to buy (for a price) an item that is essentially identical to an item it has for sale (at a higher price).  I don't know exactly how market makers in stocks make their profits, but it doesn't matter.  Markets exist even when there are no market makers, simply because there are buyers and sellers.

And by the way, I am talking about markets that can be considered reasonably free.  None of this applies to government-controlled pseudo-markets, such as the short-term electricity market set up by the state of California as part of the laughably-named electricity "deregulation" there.

Well, as long as I am replying anyway:
Speculators can cause big problems for those who just want to buy and sell at a decent market price, bu it isn't obvious what can be done about them.
Assuming that you mean that as a general rule, not as something like "I can imagine a possible situation that isn't quite outside the known laws of physics where a speculator could cause a big problem", that sounds like the sort of economic ignorance I'd expect to see in the mainstream media, not on a science fiction forum.  In general, speculators reduce the volatility in a market, which most people consider to be a good thing.  (The simple demonstration of that is in 2 steps: show that successful speculators tend to do more speculating than unsuccessful speculators, and show what the effects are of a successful speculation.)

Aw heck, I might as well give an example.  Let's say that there's a freeze in Florida.  A speculator might find out, decide that orange juice prices were going to go up (more than they already had), and buy frozen orange juice (probably futures, but it works similarly if it's just juice).  The price of frozen orange juice goes up (some more), causing many people to use less and other people to produce more (perhaps by hiring more people to reduce waste during harvesting).  Note that some changes in consumption and production take time--perhaps a manufacturer decides to cancel the introduction of a product that would have been made from frozen orange juice (and other stuff).  Assuming that the speculation is successful, the price of frozen orange juice eventually goes up some more and the speculator sells.  (If the speculator is wrong, then he loses money and is likely to stop speculating, at least for a while.)

Now, what would happen if the speculator hadn't bought frozen orange juice?  The price would have stayed lower at first, more would have been consumed, and less would have been produced.  Eventually (perhaps after the harvest came in), people would have realized that frozen orange juice was really scarce, and the price would have jumped to an even higher price (since inventories would be lower and consumption would be higher).  Without the speculation, the market would be more volatile.

The argument is that without government intervention nobody can ever corner a market.
Straw man.  The argument that I made is that cornering the market for a good, without government help, is very difficult.  Another argument is that attempts to prevent corning the market for a good, by governments, will almost certainly have bad results.

So for example I'd consider the De Beer control of world diamond markets for most of a century to be an example of a market that was pretty much cornered.
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Beers
But how much government action was involved in it? I don't know.
Good example.  I also don't know.  It's hard to estimate how much "excess" profits they obtained.  Notice that they bought competitors at probably inflated prices, and at times flooded the market (which means selling, for a while, at much less than the non-monopoly price).

Still, nobody said that a free market is perfect, just that it is better than a market controlled by violence and threats of violence.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on July 28, 2010, 04:00:05 pm

But also I was thinking of subsets of the market, such as markets for specific types of goods.  And I maintain that in general, those markets are not "set up" (in the sense of a top-down imposition) but develop from the bottom up as people voluntarily make arrangements to facilitate their trade.  For example, the NY stock exchange was formed by a few people who were already trading stocks and wanted some rules (such as standardized terminology) to simplify their business, and did not have a specific location at first.  Even today, it is not necessary to trade stocks through an exchange--you can go next door and buy stocks from your neighbor, if you agree to terms.

Sandy wants me to write shorter and it's hard to give a good short response to this. I'll try.

The NYSE was formed by a collection of *brokers* who agreed to make a monopoly. Here is the problem they wanted to solve. Broker A buys corn from Bert at $1/bushel and sells it to Ernie at $1.05. Broker B buys corn from Emily at $1.05 and sells to Babette at $1.11. Bert and Ernie and Babette compare prices and agree that somebody was rooked. But who? Bert should have gone to Broker B where he could get a better deal. Babette should have gone to broker A where she could get a better deal. If only they'd known, they could have arbitraged among brokers. But when the brokers get a monopoly together they can set one price to buy and another to sell and nobody can arbitrage among them.

The brokers started out meeting together outdoors. The chairman would run through the list of stocks and commodities they covered, there would be some bidding to establish prices, and by noon the prices were all set for the day.

Later when they had more products and had a building, they changed the rules. They wandered around the room making deals with each other.

There is a story that they made the next-to-most-recent system when a broker had a broken leg. He sat in one place with a sign showing which stocks he traded. Everybody who wanted to trade those stocks came to him. He became the first "specialist" who determined prices for a select group of stocks.

What happened if another market tried to compete with the NYSE on one of their products? People could buy from one market and sell at the other. The NYSE had the larger volume, so they were less affected by that. If their price went up then the other market lost stock at a lower price. Then if their price went down the other market gained stock at a higher price. The other market had to offer a larger spread. So investors preferred the NYSE to the other market, unless they were blacklisted by the NYSE. Markets are natural monopolies, for a second market to survive it needs a barrier. the pacific exchange survived by being on the west coast and three time zones away.The canadian market covered some of the same stocks but with the border as a barrier.

They may have been hazy about the details in 1792, but it didn't take 100 years to get market experts designing markets on purpose.

Quote
I don't know exactly how market makers in stocks make their profits, but it doesn't matter.  Markets exist even when there are no market makers, simply because there are buyers and sellers.

Wherever there is enough volume to justify it, for products that are mostly interchangeable, there will be a market maker. Because there are enough people who do know how market makers make their profits that someone will exploit an opportunity if it's exploitable.

Quote
Speculators can cause big problems for those who just want to buy and sell at a decent market price, bu it isn't obvious what can be done about them.
Assuming that you mean that as a general rule, not as something like "I can imagine a possible situation that isn't quite outside the known laws of physics where a speculator could cause a big problem", that sounds like the sort of economic ignorance I'd expect to see in the mainstream media, not on a science fiction forum.  In general, speculators reduce the volatility in a market, which most people consider to be a good thing.

Snip a good example that shows your point. Well done!

OK, I agree that can work out well. In the case you describe, the speculator anticipates a shortage and buys hoping to sell even higher later. The market-maker does this on a short-term basis, and your speculator is doing it on a longer-term basis.

In some contexts this speculator could be considered to be using insider information, and can go to jail for it if he is persecuted and the legal system decides he is guilty.

It might be even better if the manufacturers who will need the orange juice do the speculation themselves. They are ensuring their supply. They pay more now to ensure that they will not have to pay a lot more later or even find it is unavailable. But if they try that they may find that speculators are bidding up the price against them. It's easy to buy at the top.

But this is not what I'm talking about. Consider when the specialist system was strong in the NYSE. You sell to the specialist. Or you buy from him at a slightly higher price. He collects teenies all day. He sets the price. He has the right to set the price to anything he wants, compatible with some rules the NYSE or the SEC may enforce. By the simplest theory he should set the price at a level that leaves the same number of buyers and sellers. Any other price will leave him with fewer trades and fewer teenies. If he raises the price then more people will want to sell and fewer wil want to buy, he will have to buy stock from his own funds. If he lowers the price then more people will want to buy and fewer will want to sell and he'll have to sell at a low price from his own pile of stocks.

But in practice, sometimes his stock may be dominated by speculators who think the price will go up. When he raises the price they want to buy more. When he lowers the price some of them get scared and want to sell. And he has the opportunity to play them like a pinball machine. He raises the price until he gets low on stock. Then he stalls it or drops it some, and speculators sell until he has enough stock again. Then he walks the price up more until he gets low on stock and drops it until he replenishes his stock. And of course he can bring the price down enough to trigger limit stop orders, and then bring it back up.

Whenever there was a scandal about stock market manipulation the NYSE and the SEC agreed that they must make more rules to keep it from ever happening again, so that investors would keep their faith in the market. The rules got pretty byzantine, but never addressed the basic problems.

Eventually NYSE volume got so large that the specialists couldn't keep up. They got automated trading systems and the specialists were allowed to intervene but probably not in definitive ways. The programming for the trading was probably honest. It's quite possible that the system is fundamentally different now.

Quote
Still, nobody said that a free market is perfect, just that it is better than a market controlled by violence and threats of violence.

I completely agree. There can be problems with particular market structures, and they can be very hard to reform if they do go bad. But I can't imagine how violence or threats of violence would be any improvement whatsoever.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: wdg3rd on July 28, 2010, 10:41:25 pm

Aw heck, I might as well give an example.  Let's say that there's a freeze in Florida.  A speculator might find out, decide that orange juice prices were going to go up (more than they already had), and buy frozen orange juice (probably futures, but it works similarly if it's just juice).  The price of frozen orange juice goes up (some more), causing many people to use less and other people to produce more (perhaps by hiring more people to reduce waste during harvesting).  Note that some changes in consumption and production take time--perhaps a manufacturer decides to cancel the introduction of a product that would have been made from frozen orange juice (and other stuff).  Assuming that the speculation is successful, the price of frozen orange juice eventually goes up some more and the speculator sells.  (If the speculator is wrong, then he loses money and is likely to stop speculating, at least for a while.)

Now, what would happen if the speculator hadn't bought frozen orange juice?  The price would have stayed lower at first, more would have been consumed, and less would have been produced.  Eventually (perhaps after the harvest came in), people would have realized that frozen orange juice was really scarce, and the price would have jumped to an even higher price (since inventories would be lower and consumption would be higher).  Without the speculation, the market would be more volatile.

Actually, Brugle, that's a rather poor example.  If there's a hard freeze in Florida, the oranges on the trees are unfit to eat as oranges, but they still make fine juice.  The price of the intact fruit goes up, but the price of juice drops.  Even for fruit not grown in Florida.  (I'm from a part of Los Angeles where oranges were still the main industry into my teens, and I picked a lot of them for spending cash -- a hard freeze in Florida resulted in a lot more California oranges loaded into railcars and less crushed into juice).
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 28, 2010, 11:55:27 pm
Sandy wants me to write shorter...

No, the word I used was succinctly, not shorter. There is a difference.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: terry_freeman on July 29, 2010, 02:08:18 am
I think we have come to agreement that dense ("overpopulated") societies might arise whether there is a lot of government or none. The question then is, which sort of society would better manage the available resources? Some brilliant central planner who tries to impose a "better" solution, or the combined efforts of people voluntarily interacting to solve problems as they arise?

History shows that Hong Kong, which is an extremely dense society, and which has next to no taxes, and which certainly does not engage in socialist redistribution, steadily improved the quality of life of everyone, including those at the bottom of the economic ladder. It became so prosperous that people left Great Britain, where socialist redistribution and other market "improvements" were the norm, to seek better opportunities in Hong Kong.

The density of HK is about 6 million people per square mile.  Could you remind me again of what this hypothetical problem was supposed to be?

All attempts to improve upon the market fail due to the well-known calculation problem. The genius planners are taking on a task which is as feasible as the squaring of the circle.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Azure Priest on July 29, 2010, 07:19:27 am
I think we have come to agreement that dense ("overpopulated") societies might arise whether there is a lot of government or none. The question then is, which sort of society would better manage the available resources? Some brilliant central planner who tries to impose a "better" solution, or the combined efforts of people voluntarily interacting to solve problems as they arise?

History shows that Hong Kong, which is an extremely dense society, and which has next to no taxes, and which certainly does not engage in socialist redistribution, steadily improved the quality of life of everyone, including those at the bottom of the economic ladder. It became so prosperous that people left Great Britain, where socialist redistribution and other market "improvements" were the norm, to seek better opportunities in Hong Kong.

The density of HK is about 6 million people per square mile.  Could you remind me again of what this hypothetical problem was supposed to be?

All attempts to improve upon the market fail due to the well-known calculation problem. The genius planners are taking on a task which is as feasible as the squaring of the circle.

On top of that, Honk Kong is a barren slab of rock with a dearth of natural resources, while China and England where government market "improvement" is the norm have a large land area and a great many resources. So it seems that "government knows best" is not the best of models, eh? Perhaps certain figures in Washington should take note?

Back on topic with the comic, whoever suggested that the mass driver would be used as a makeshift rocket  to move the asteroid called it! The only question now is where will the brothers go? To Dactyl? (SLAM), (CRASH) or somewhere else in range of their remaining life support to call for help?
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: quadibloc on July 29, 2010, 07:47:39 am
Back on topic with the comic, whoever suggested that the mass driver would be used as a makeshift rocket  to move the asteroid called it!
Is it going to be used to move the asteroid? Or will it just move itself and a limited supply of rock? (Admittedly, they don't seem to have a convenient net handy - and duct tape and a knife, or a pressurized tent, would have made that comm in the vest pocket safely accessible.)

The rocket packs don't have enough fuel, and using the mass driver as a cannon to launch one of the brothers is infeasible.

What we saw that inspired them to their solution, whatever it was, was the discovery that the asteroid's gravity was weak - reminding them that they're in space, where Newton's Third Law is a more obvious fact of life than on Earth.

It could be that the asteroid is small enough that moving the asteroid through use of the mass driver is an option. But when they were using it before, they didn't have to be concerned that they were changing its orbit. So the asteroid might be far too massive to move as a whole easily. Or not. But the answer will be spelled out soon, and it probably is moving the asteroid. There's still a little room for surprises left.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: SandySandfort on July 29, 2010, 10:08:03 am
It could be that the asteroid is small enough that moving the asteroid through use of the mass driver is an option. But when they were using it before, they didn't have to be concerned that they were changing its orbit. So the asteroid might be far too massive to move as a whole easily. Or not. But the answer will be spelled out soon, and it probably is moving the asteroid. There's still a little room for surprises left.

243 Ida and Dactyl are real; I didn't make them up:

   https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/243_Ida

Since Ida's mass is 4.2 0.6 1016 kg, A mass driver wouldn't do squat.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: dough560 on July 30, 2010, 01:30:32 am
Terry, As I remember, Hong Kong had a .10% flat rate income tax.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens next.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: terry_freeman on August 01, 2010, 08:35:36 am
I think you mean 10% income tax rate for HK, not 0.10% rate. I'll have to look up the figures.

John Stossel did a special once. He decided to start a booth to sell t-shirts and coffee mugs from his show in three different cities. One was in the US of A; to make it legal required about 10 pages of forms with 4 or 5 different agencies. One was in India, which invented the concept of "red tape"; he needed an armful of papers rolled in red tape from about 20 agencies, which took a few months to procure, in order to operate legally.

In Hong Kong, he needed only a single one-page form to establish his business; it was, if I recall correctly, a simple declaration of the name and purpose of the business, nothing more.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Rocketman on August 01, 2010, 07:04:17 pm
I don't have it in front of me but maybe six years ago Doug Casey once wrote an article about two different men, one American and one Chinese that both started out the same by creating a business and both doing about as well as the other in running it.  The American dies years later and left his children enough money to have a nice but modest home, while the Chinese man who dies at the same time left his family about one hundred million dollars.  Now you know why everyone who is anyone thinks China is going to kick America out of the supreme power position within the next fifteen years or so.  
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: terry_freeman on August 02, 2010, 12:41:49 pm
American politicians: "Tax the rich. Tax them again. Rinse and repeat."

Chinese politicians: "It is glorious to be rich"

'nuff said.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: dough560 on August 08, 2010, 06:27:23 pm
Watched a Public Television Fund Drive Special the other day.  The Moderator was describing how the government with a 55 per cent, estate tax and a 40 per cent, income tax; took 95 per cent of an estate.  The last 5 per cent of the estate was taken with an excise tax.  The actual total tax rate was 103 per cent.  The guy who got hit with this, took it to the supreme court who decided the combined taxes could not exceed 100 per cent.  Probably cost him a million dollars to get to the supreme court.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: GeoModder on August 17, 2010, 10:43:01 am
http://www.bigheadpress.com/eft?page=507

Ooooooh, shiny...
Which of the brothers is closest to the mass necessary to get in reach of Dactyl? :D
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: J Thomas on August 17, 2010, 11:34:49 am
http://www.bigheadpress.com/eft?page=507

Ooooooh, shiny...
Which of the brothers is closest to the mass necessary to get in reach of Dactyl? :D

If they don't have enough mass to use the mass driver, maybe they can push off against it to get to Dactyl.

Also, if they can be fired from the mass driver, maybe it has a slow setting. There's a big difference between getting shot out of a cannon hard enough to reach the moon, versus getting shot out of the same cannon hard enough to match up orbits that are already almost the same.

But if you depend on muscle and rocket-pack to slow you down when you land, then you'd better not accelerate faster than muscle and rocket-pack can push you. If they use up their rocket packs for the landing then they'd better not get more dV than that from the mass driver. And if they have to do it one at a time then one will need more dV than the other, because the second one will get accelerated *away* when the first one leaves.

Maybe they can find some other reaction mass.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: GeoModder on August 17, 2010, 01:44:43 pm
Maybe they can find some other reaction mass.

I wonder if there are loose parts on the mass driver itself... For instance, the 'buckets' that held the rocks are no longer needed.
Title: Re: I wondered why they were wearing rocket-packs...
Post by: Gillsing on August 18, 2010, 02:16:44 pm
I thought about that too, but I figured they'd be too big. Didn't know that they could easily cut them up into smaller parts.