Jackson on March 13, 2009, 08:34:14 pm
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Stalin was a paranoid liar.
No argument there.
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Reasonable minds may differ. 
I concur.
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When we get into the next phase of Harris' actions on Ceres and the responsees, we can discuss the morality of what is done there. The only real question will be, did Sandfort get it right? Is that what could and should have happened?
Curse you and your cliffhanger endings! What is Admiral Harris going to do?

quadibloc on March 14, 2009, 07:33:13 am
I have learned something. From previous older accounts of the use of the atomic bombs against Japan, I had assumed that shortly before each bomb was dropped, warning leaflets were dropped over the city to be attacked, but somehow they were dropped only shortly ahead of time to prevent allowing defenses against the bombers to be alerted.

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

Wikipedia notes leaflets dropped after Hiroshima but before Nagasaki; again, though, these were leaflets which did not identify the specific city to be bombed next.

Rocketman on March 14, 2009, 11:01:26 am
quadibloc:  I thought that I knew WW2 history pretty well and I have to tell you that I have never heard of this before.  I'm going to have to check into it before I agree with you.   ???

Leviathan on March 14, 2009, 02:46:26 pm
*a little requoting later*

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

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

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

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

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

*moves onto a general response*

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

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

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

There's also the matter of the UW being under the misapprehension that Reggie is a monarch, and thus a single point that can be made to submit to gain the servitude of everyone under him.  That is, ultimately, the weakness of any centralized system.  It has a single failure point.  Even if 90% of the Belters submit to UW rule and UWRS taxation, the UW is in trouble.  So they're going in thinking they're fighting a beast with a face, and instead they're facing a swarm.  So their tactics will be at best ineffective.  And at worst, foolish.  And, though I am expecting UW interference as an ongoing story element, the likelihood of the UW getting thoroughly embarassed by this little venture is going to make them think twice about trying it again.  Plus, they will eventually reach a point that they'll risk spending much more trying to secure the submission of the Belters than they can ever gain back in taxation.  This is the biggest tactic in a war of attrition.  It's why Al Qaida is as big a threat, actually.  The Belters can spend a minimum of resources for a maximum of expense to the UW.  It's why Somalia will likely never be governed again, and the hold governments have in many nations around the planet is tenuous at best.  And why I'm actually hoping that Greece's government falls in relatively short order.  The governments of the world will be spending much more trying to remain government than they can ever extract from the people they're governing.  And then a new world will happen.

SandySandfort on March 14, 2009, 03:15:42 pm
... To pull this back to EfT, one reason it's likely the Cerereans will win?  Harris has an agenda, so long as he's still reasonably under UW control.  That means he can't destroy Ceres and the Belters or they'll lose the revenue they hoped to gain.  So his tactics at worst will be to produce the maximum terror he can in the hopes that the belt will submit.  The Cerereans?  They can push every resource at their command at him.  And they can do it specifically at him.  He's part of a centralized command structure.  Render him unable to continue the fight and there practically isn't a fight.  Trying to combat a decentralized, yet highly coordinated, bunch of Belters would be like trying to make a pool of water submit using only a sword....

Excellent analysis, Laviathan.

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

Ya think?  ;)

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

Rumor Central. 

Hey, I'm not making fun.  It works...

Indeed!  I can just imagine how it would work.  Though I've played enough games of "telephone" to worry that The Earthlings are coming! might end up as Purple banana marzipan!

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

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

SandySandfort on March 14, 2009, 06:40:49 pm
Besides, Admiral Harris doesn’t even have to attack Ceres. The livelihood of most of the Belters is in the asteroid belt. If Harris’s fleet blockades Ceres, the belters will be the ones losing money, since they won’t be able to get to the asteroid belt to mine and they won’t be able to sell their products. At some point it will make more economic sense to pay the UW’s damn taxes. Alternatively, Harris could destroy the Belter’s ships and shipbuilding capability to achieve the same effect. Then again, the UW seems too direct to try something like that.

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

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

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


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

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

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

Good question. The naming convention came about sort of by accident. Anyway, now it refers to the size of a ship. Alphas are recon ships and fighters. Betas are larger survey ships and attack vessels. The UW has only one gamma class ship, the Conqueror. It is a dreadnaught and the closest thing the UW has to a Death Star. However, it has one weak spot, a ventilation shaft that leads to the main reactor... uh, just kidding.

Rocketman on March 14, 2009, 06:48:05 pm
If the belters wet team goes in and kills the leaders of the UW of course they'll be replaced.  And if the next group is stupid enough to continue the war then the belters send another team to kill them.  And if that group is stupid enough to continue the fighting then you kill them.  People in power rarely like being killed for ruling over people who don't like being ruled.

Jackson on March 14, 2009, 07:23:30 pm
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it has one weak spot, a ventilation shaft that leads to the main reactor... uh, just kidding.
Hey, the UW is a statist nation. If Admiral Harris wanted armor protecting the reactor, he should have signed armor requisition form 9281(S).  ;D
« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 07:57:40 pm by Jackson »

Leviathan on March 15, 2009, 03:16:06 pm
One wonderful bit of irony just struck me.  The ships that are headed to Ceres for a little shock and awe have a decent likelihood of having been built using materials sold to them by the Belters.  With the added irony that it pretty well means the belters have lasers capable of slicing through any material on it like a hotknife through butter.  But the UW is likely going beyond cutting off its nose to spite its face, it's cutting off its face to spite its head.

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

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

Watch the movie Brazil.  I think most of the bureaucracy in that was poking a huge jab at the British system, but it really is what would happen with a single overarching bureaucracy like that.

SandySandfort on March 15, 2009, 04:58:58 pm
One wonderful bit of irony just struck me.  The ships that are headed to Ceres for a little shock and awe have a decent likelihood of having been built using materials sold to them by the Belters...

Almost certainly. Betas and the Gamma were never built to operate in atmo. They are assembled and live in space. Hauling steel up the gravity well doesn't make much sense when the sky has all the metal you could ever want.

KBCraig on March 16, 2009, 02:21:41 am
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Not to distract from the moral mud-slinging (feel free to get back to it after this), but the thing I really liked from today's strip was how the Cereans have utilized the fastest communications system ever devised by man.

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

Really? I get several Porc-411 messages every week that say otherwise. Our t-ball team's mothers are more efficient at spreading urgent messages than the city's "reverse 411" emergency call system.

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

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

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



SandySandfort on March 16, 2009, 05:06:49 pm

Excellent analysis of the issues.

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

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

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




 

anything