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.

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.

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.

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.



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...

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?

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.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2010, 12:08:53 am by Azure Priest »

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.   ::)

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.

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.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

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.

 

anything