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Trading, er..., whatever

From: Mikko Kurki-Suonio <maxxon@s...>
Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 12:02:20 +0300 (EEST)
Subject: Trading, er..., whatever

A few short notes:

Long term investments

 Finnish economy, as you may know, is/was largely based on forestry.
it takes quite a lot of time to grow a tree to harvestable size. Long
enough to enter the "why should I waste my money planting new trees as
the time they're harvestable, I'm dead or retired anyway" factor. Thing
is, it doesn't make much sense for the individual. Therefore there are
basically three kinds of countries in the world:
 - those that still have untouched forestry resources (typically due to
   geographical access problems)
 - those that have had their forests stripped
 - those that have laws requiring reforestation 
 Guess which group Finland is in...

 Ergo, unless required by law, interest in investments that *may* be
profitable after decades is not going to be exactly rolling hot. Just
calculate compound interest at, say a mere 2%, for 50 years to see what
kind of Return Of Investment would be required. As for laws requiring
to invest in off-world colonies, well, governmental attention span is
typically even less -- they need results before the next election, or
someone else ends up taking the credit for it...

Shipping people

 Moving people used to be cheap. They sort of took care of themselves.
land voyages they could walk and even forage for themselves. Other
like horses, needed to be cared for, making it expensive to move.

 Space changes all that. It's a hard environment. Humans don't survive
there without assistance. Compared to the "horses" of the era, tanks,
the humans that need caring for. Consequently, shipping humans is the
expensive part (as far as mechanized travel is concerned, this is
the case -- and it's bound to get worse when providing breathable
atmosphere to the cargo becomes a major concern).

 Mass exodus into space, while a nice idea (and one that I've used
myself), is frankly ludicrous. The resources would be *much* better
finding a solution to population growth control and researching more
efficient means of food production. Ofcourse, logic was never something
stop politicians from trying...

 Call me a cynic, but about the only kind of mass exodus into space I
reasonable is the kind presented in the story "Green hills of Venus" --
they launch all the excess population into space after convincing them
Venus is a paradise world...

Absurdity in backgrounds

 Everybody knows BattleTech, right? And now I'm talking about "classic"
BTech here. They have fusion reactors, and they're fighting over water.
Bzzzt! Hello! Anyone home?

 Take Gundam (and forget newtypes for a while). Build some O'Neill
stations, okay. Move 90% of human population into said habitats.  Bzzzt!
Hello! Anyone home? After that, I eat newtypes for breakfast.

 Looks like when giant robots are involved, common sense need not apply.

 Nevertheless, I enjoy Gundam (some of it anyway) and used to like
What's important is not "realism" per se, but (here comes the big word)

*internal* *consistency*

 E.g. I can buy FTL. I can buy fusion reactors. But if you tell me you
can only use that reactor to power a 40-foot giant robot...

Actually, 7th Street Games' Mecha!/Spirit Warrior Empire is pretty much
the only giant robot background I find plausible -- they have Aztec GODS
powering mecha for sort of ritualistic combat.

 The problem is, the more holes you fill with PSB, the farther you
the dreaded IC, and the more likely everything is to fall apart sooner
later. Ironically, the settings that have the most initial appeal (i.e.
flash), are the ones likely to have the least lasting appeal (to me
anyway) due to lack of IC.

-- (Mikko Kurki-Suonio) 	  | A pig who doesn't
GSM +358 50 5596411 Tel +358 9 8092681		  | is just an ordinary
Länsimetsä 3B1 02300 ESPOO FINLAND   Hate me? Try |	      - Porco
Rosso      hateme.html  |

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