I Appear To Have A Problem With My Brain Being Missing

While that would probably make a decent story title, sad to say, this isn’t one.

As you may have noticed, my output has been down in recent months, and really down this last month in particular.

Why, you ask? Well, because so am I. Which is to say, in despite of medication, my depression is kicking my ass right now. On some days, to the ol’ “been staring at nothing for six hours trying to find motivation to do anything useful” degree. This is, as I hope you can appreciate, somewhat problematic where writing is concerned, inasmuch as my muse appears to have declared this Altogether Too Much Trouble To Deal With and buggered off until the local climate improves.

Why, then, you also ask, am I whining about it to you?

Well, for my loyal Patreon and Liberapay patrons, so you can be aware that this is the situation, that I don’t know when it’s going to improve, and that you may wish to, and should feel entirely free to, suspend or cancel your payments. After all, the deal is money in exchange for value, and since I can’t provide the value right now, I do not wish to take your money. Not until I get my mojo back, anyway.

For the rest of you, because I can. Suck it up.

Truth in Nomenclature (2)

justonce breaker / justonce bar / justonce stop / etc.: Engineering jargon. A justonce in any of its forms – be it the hardline switch or insertable bus-bar that bypasses circuit overload protection, the stop valve that seals off pressure-relief valves, or the disabling of thermal trips is the manual override which permits equipment to continue operating even when doing so will result in damage to equipment, personnel, or the surrounding area – even, in its most common military applications, to the entire containing vessel.

The justonce, naturally, is intended to be used only in situations where the risks and consequences of having a given piece of equipment out of action are outweigh the risks and consequences of it failing catastrophically.

The unusual name for these devices refers to a cynical saying common in the Imperial Military Service: “Doesn’t matter what they’ve got; you can’t explode twice.”

See also: damnfool switch.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Fittly Business

“Othalbar SysCon, this is IS Star of Miragrann preparing to initiate fittle-flight per filed intentions. Please reconfirm entry vector.”

Star of Miragrann, SysCon. We show you initiating fittle-flight at 8201-06-09:2+11-54. We confirm your entry vector as computed and valid for twelve-pulse window. You are clear for entry at your discretion; squawk null. Good hunting! Over.”

“SysCon, squawking all zeroes. We’ll bring you back a present. Star of Miragrann, clear.”

Captain Sarizar looked out over his bridge, and smiled slightly. “By the book, people. Run the clock.” Punching the button for a direct line to the maneuvering room, he added, “Ninety percent power, please.”

“Extending frameslip ring.”

The flight geometry display over his Exec’s head showed the struts which mounted the segments of the frameslip ring slipping out from their sub-light positions alongside the ship, moving the fittler’s nodes to their optimal position for the envelope, when the maneuvering watch came over the intercom.

“Reactors ramping. You have sixty percent power.”

The sailing master had the next set of checks.

“Auxiliary drives show shutdown and are safed for transit. Vector-control core switching to frameslip mode.”

“You have seventy percent power.”

Back to the Exec, and then over to Relativistics. The flight geometry display was now, indeed, indicating full extension and all segments locked in place.

“Frameslip ring is extended and locked. All external sensors show zone clear.”

“Preferential-frame buffers integrated and synchronized. Frame trap executed. Geodesic trajectory successfully mapped to empire-time manifold.”

“You have eighty percent power.”

It was all in the sailing master’s hands now. Well, the sailing master’s programming’s hands…

“All stations report secure for transit. Vector-control manager confirms frameslip mode active. Board reads blue across. We are ready for entry commit.”

“You have eighty-five percent power.”

“We are now entering the entry window. Timer abort set.”

“You have ninety percent power, and holding.”

A last glance around at his repeater displays, and Captain Sarizar performed his primary, and indeed only required, action in the fittle entry checklist: “Commit.”

“Entry is go on autosequencer. Envelope forming. Fittle in three, two, one –“

The sensations of a normal entry surrounded him, the rising hum of the drive coupled with the creaking of the hull and the peculiar and familiar twitch in the guts as the forming drive envelope’s side lobes tickled the starship’s interior —

And then —

A thunderclap from astern, the sound of an inconveniently inconceivable amount of energy being dumped into whatever buffers and sinks were available.

The sickening sensation of an uncontrolled envelope collapse, as the space-time stress that had been pumped into the drive envelope relapsed, converting itself to gravity waves – fortunately, almost entirely directed outward.

The hissing roar of untold gallons of thermal goo vaporizing and pouring unimpeded into space.

And, in contrast to those, the sound of his crew taking all the correct actions when all those things happened.

“Null engage. We have a null engage. Autosequencer reports successful entry abort, core spindown in progress –“

“– running flash-accumulator bleed-down, preparing to vent secondary heatsinks –“

“– transmitting splash advisory on guard channel –“

He punched for external communications.

“Othalbar SysCon, Star of Miragrann. We have experienced a null engage. We’re holding orbit and running an interference manifold computation” – he glanced over at Astrogation, unnecessarily confirming that his astrogator was already on it – “up here, and we’d appreciate it if you could do the same on the big brass. Data follows. Our intentions are to recompute entry and execute as soon as we have reliable data.

“Also, if the interference manifold matches available flight records, we’d appreciate the address of record for whatever chesdinye durchevi didn’t bother to file a flight plan.”

Supergreen

“Why will we use green lasers for starwisp and light sail propulsion?

“Because stars aren’t green. Can’t be green, in fact, because a black-body spectrum that peaks in the green is broad enough that there’s plenty of other-colored light to make it not sum to green. That makes green the least stealthy color in space.

“So when you’re going to be shining a few hundred terawatts into someone else’s star system, a monochromatic 530 nm green is as good as it gets in letting them know up front that you aren’t trying to sneak something in on them.”

– Argil Medanis-ith-Medanis, Laserider Network

Idiot Stick (1)

ECOPOETIC LINE GANGERS/PLANET-BREAKERS WANTED

No Background Check · No Identification · No Questions

No Qualifications Required · No Experience Required · Training Provided
Six-Year Indenture Required · Bonus for Successful Completion

Free transportation and reflux bond provided to Sagiraz (Ull Cluster). Accomodation and sustenance included.
No homestead or residency rights are earned.

Apply Mezgalrás Jaqqár Hiring, at this site.

Responsible Party:

Sagiraz Colonial Column,
Suite 894, Vitry Building,
Third Ring 45°
Conclave Drift

Lightning Strikes

from the Eye-in-the-Flame Arms internal memeweave archives

From: Aldysis Cyprium (Directorate)
To: Diziet Cyprium (Director of Entertaining Research)
Subject: FULGURANT TRIBULATION

It’s not that we’re dismissing the potential of FULGURANT TRIBULATION, cousin.

From a purely commercial point of view, the potential of an algetic weapon capable of wide-area application from orbit is obviously something that can’t be ignored by the Directorate, filling several niches in the area denial and riot quietus areas, not to mention the spin-off civilian applications in weather control and flood recovery.

And obviously the technical advances you have made in tunable millimeter-wave magnetrons and beam focusing arrays, not to mention the systems designed to calibrate for and manage atmospheric moisture attenuation, are a tour de force; this goes without saying.

However, as a condition of the licensing arrangement for some of the feeder technologies with Extropa and Orbital Light & Power, we need to work out ways to ensure that FULGURANT TRIBULATION units, under whatever marketing name, can be clearly differentiated from orbit-to-ground power transmission satellites. They have concerns that if the differentiation is not adequate, in addition to making civilian power infrastructure a target, it might also impact sales of their solar power system products. While there are key differences in the antenna structure, these may only be obvious only to trained engineers.

Phyllí Desumé of OL&P Engineering suggested that in addition to purely cosmetic alterations, perhaps we could eliminate the onboard power generation segment entirely, and operate the FULGURANT TRIBULATION satellites in partnership with an existing power generation infrastructure, taking and regenerating a microwave power beam from another satellite. It seems to me that this would add flexibility to the deployment of FULGURANT TRIBULATION, especially when deployed in the field, as well as further differentiating them from power system satellites. Let me have your thoughts soonest?

On another note, I look forward to seeing you and the others of your household at Aunt Chamyría’s soirée next month. You must permit me to introduce you to Laïre Oricalcios, whom I have every hope will be joining the family in a few short years.

Your affectionate cousin,

Aldysis

Sometimes the Chicken Wins

LEAGUE SAFETY IN HABITATION COMMISSION
CATASTROPHIC FAILURE ANALYSIS
SUMMARY REPORT

Location: Tuntamus (Madel Cauldron)
Date: 6921-11-13
Habitat: Tuntab High Orbit Three (“Senmarville”)
Defining Event: Complete structural failure
Accident Number: LM6921-443
Damage: Total
Casualties: 23,147

Presented to the Inter-Worlds Commission on the Accord on Free Space

The events of the Tuntab High Orbit Three habitat disaster have deep roots in existing conditions on the habitat, which will be summarized following the proximal cause analysis.

While both the quantity and severe damage to the wreckage prevents this analysis from being as detailed as this Commission might wish, the earliest specifically identifiable contributory event took place on the night previous, at E-14:11:31, when a local management computer for the station’s domestic electrical grid detected demand on the local power grid for which it was responsible and was unable to meet this demand – part of a pattern of ongoing grid instability – and thus began load shedding. Various remote attempts to restore service over the next few hours proved unsuccessful, with ongoing grid instability causing incoming power connections to trip as soon as they could be brought on stream.

At E-11:10:22, the electrical control room containing the local management computer was entered by an individual using the security codes of a station administrator (one not recorded as having operational training), and power restored manually from station main bus B, an alternate source which had previously failed, and the automatic cutouts locked in the on position. This procedure violated all established safety regulations and operational protocols.

This resulted in load exceeding design parameters being borne by the superconducting cable connecting the associated electrical substation to main bus B, which several hours later (E-2:20:16) explosively overheated at a previously worn spot on the cable as it entered the 37.5°30 sub-level 2-5 machinery room, igniting a lubricant fire therein.

This fire went unnoticed for over an hour. Alarms sounded in the 37.5°30 emergency control center, but this center was, again in violation of all established safety regulations and operational protocols, unmanned. The fire thus had the opportunity to establish itself, and the alarm was not relayed to the station operations center until E-1:05:48. Even then, response was slowed by the ongoing efforts to correct the problems with the electrical grid (as shown by the operations log), but ultimately emergency response teams were dispatched to extinguish the fire now raging on the lowest level of the machinery room.

While the fire on the lowest level had largely been extinguished by E-0:13:11, flames had broken through in several areas into the next level, including along various pieces of unstopped or inadequately stopped electrical ductwork and service passages, including a branch from the duct conveying various outgoing power lines to the machinery room’s subordinate grids to the super-high-tension relay substation on sub-level 4. When the fire became established in this area and heated the oil-insulated transformers, the resulting flashover and electrical short-circuits, at E-0:02:61 reignited fires on all levels of the 37.5°30 machinery room (and may have ignited minor fires elsewhere on the station; see full addendum), but this fire was swiftly extinguished by the station’s automatic response, sealing the area (although at least three spacetight doors failed to seal fully, having been manually propped open or disconnected) and venting it to space.

More serious consequences, however, were felt elsewhere. The electrical consequences of the short-circuits in the 37.5°30 machinery room were transmitted immediately to all parts of main bus B; while the immediate reason is unknown due to a lack of physical evidence the bus isolation breakers failed to open at any point between the machinery room and the station’s fusion plant. In the face of the sudden demand spike this caused, the three fusion reactors feeding into bus B tripped offline and initiated SCRAM procedures. While this was the correct response from the point of view of reactor protection, all portions of the station dependent on main bus B were immediately deprived of main power.

The electromagnetic bearing supporting the station’s major habitable torus should not have been affected by this. As all vital systems are, it was powered, by design, from multiple essential-services buses cross-fed from multiple main buses to prevent exactly this type of incident. However, at some point in the recent past, and again in violation of all established safety regulations and operational protocols, the primary magnetic rings had been rewired to all feed from main bus B. While not established directly by the evidence, maintenance records exist of a recent replacement of worn cabling for the bearing; it seems most probable that the rewiring to B was done due to a lack of available replacement wire (see below), and the maintenance records falsified accordingly. The operations log does indicate warnings logged of the lack of power drain from the ess bus spurs involved, but no action appears to have been taken on these by station operations.

Thus, at E-0:00:03, the non-moving inner surface of the magnetic bearing lost axis and made contact with the rotating rings, immediately undergoing catastrophic delamination. Shortly thereafter, at E-0:00:00, the resulting increase in friction and transfer of angular momentum tore the station apart, with all regions aft of docks & locks (fortuitously separated by an early debris impact) being subjected to g-load far in excess of their structural limits.

Inhabitants of this region, which included the major habitable torus and annexes, were given neither time nor opportunity to escape the station, and no survivors were reported from this region. The 1,982 survivors were all recovered from the docks & locks region, from nearby workshacks, or from EVAs being carried out at a distance from the station.

PROBABLE CAUSE AND FINDINGS

To fully understand the root cause, it is of note that Tuntab High Orbit Three was, at the time of the incident, in the third month of ongoing industrial action by the local operations and maintenance technicians, whose grievance was that station administration and operations were not ensuring that proper maintenance was performed in a correct and timely manner, or with replacement parts of adequate quality. In response to this, the Technical Association had required its members to cease performing any maintenance or associated work, which included even such activities as unloading, or permitting to be unloaded, maintenance or emergency supplies.

The Commission has therefore determined the probable causes of this incident to be:

  • Inadequate historical maintenance of station systems.
  • Dereliction of duty by responsible maintenance personnel.
  • Operation of technical systems by unqualified personnel.
  • Performance of maintenance by unqualified personnel.
  • Violation of safety regulations and operational protocols on an unprecedented scale.
  • Failure to properly inform habitat population of the safety status of the habitat.
  • Failure to evacuate in accordance with safety regulations.
  • Sophont error.

In closing, the Commission would add that, in their opinion, the true root cause of the Tuntab High Orbit Three incident was the belief of the station adminstration, operations, and technical staff that they could afford to play flinchy-flinchy with the prospect of a cascade failure in service of their own goals, something that no member of the operations and technical staff of any habitat should have contemplated. As such, the Commission recommends a complete revision of the training and licensure requirements for all those licensed to practice in these areas, with particular emphasis on the ethical obligations of those who, by virtue of their control of infrastructure, hold their populations’ lives in their hands.

The Commission also recommends to the League Ministry of Habitation that an immediate review be carried out of all habitats within League space with respect to establishing their historical and future compliance with all applicable safety regulations and operational protocols, with special powers to require the relicensure, retraining, or dismissal of any individual found to be, wilfully or otherwise, not in compliance with these, and the relicensure or receivership of any habitat administration or management company knowingly encouraging, tolerating, or provoking such practices.

Yellow Flag

BROADCAST // GTR CESTIA & PROXIMAL // INFRA UNCLASS
ALL ECS STATIONS ANNOUNCE
IMMEDIATE PREEMPT
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY // ALERT 2049/04/20

This is an EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY alert for all residents of the Greater Cestian continent and proximal regions.

This is a QUARANTINE ADVISORY. The Office of Disease and Toxin Control, Prevention, and Elimination has issued a LEVEL 3 (EPIDEMIC) CONTAGIOUS DISEASE WARNING covering the specified region, regarding the novel cytomegalovirus classified as VVAR-1472-B.

All individuals within the region should take appropriate infection control precautions (including but not limited to self-isolation, use of autodiagnosis kiosks for self-diagnosis, use of healing vats for self-treatment, marking of infected volumes, use of telepresence and remote proxies to avoid contact with others, use of bionano containment suits or other appropriate protective equipment during necessary travel, and routine sanitation of all surfaces). It is requested that use of out-home medical facilities be avoided without specific instructions to maintain available capacity for acute cases.

All businesses and other branches within the region should execute their own quarantine advisory response protocols.

While the Emergency Management Authority does not have the authority to enforce quarantines of this type upon Imperial citizen-shareholders, all should be advised that failure to take appropriate infection control precautions may be a matter of interest to one’s tort insurer; may give rise to actions at law seeking compensation for negligence or criminal charges for reckless endangerment, arson, or pathogenic battery; or may, in extreme cases, permit actions to be taken under the Right of Defense. Consult the Codex of Civic Services and Citizen Responsibilities, 124th edition, for further information.

All citizen-shareholders are thanked for their cooperation.

Ends.

Not Guidelines

“Listen up, you bastards! For the rookies and anyone who’s conveniently forgotten how we do this, here are the rules. Official loot – anything the client or the skipper wants – goes in the BLUE crates. Other loot of military value, in the GREEN crates. Plunder, in the YELLOW crates for distribution by shares, and make sure you’ve tagged it if you want it back, counted against your share. Booze and drugs – and anything that I might find suspicious – in the RED crates. Hiding something from blue, green, or red rates something ‘tween a flogging and a spacing. Hiding anything from the plunder gets you thrown to the tender mercies of the mates you stole it from. Now get movin’! We lift at planet dawn.”

– the supply sergeant of Kurek’s Drinkers,
linobir mercenary company,
paraphrases article X of their charter

Or Possibly A Landscape Feature

“You don’t want us to touch this one.”

“I thought you were the best demolitions company in the Worlds!”

“We are.”

“Then why can’t you demolish this?”

“I never said that we couldn’t demolish this. I said that you didn’t want us to demolish this. Look here – you see the very distinctive bevel on the trailing edge of the doorcog? That makes this a Stravage-Minepa Vault, and they build these to survive full-up planetary bombardments. You’re looking at twelve meters of hyperdense laminate armor, with the same again in two inner shells. You could fill this thing with conventional explosives and all you’d do is spoil the decor. Hell, let off a nuke in there and at most you’ll get a plasma fart for your trouble. Neither one’d make a dent on the outside.”

“So what would you have to do?”

“Well, for a start, I’d need someone at the top level of your government to sign a waiver holding Claithmat Annulments and all associates harmless for any adverse consequences of using dismounted starship grasers and high-yield antimatter charges on a planetary surface.

“That’s assuming you have control over the internal defenses – which are automatic and powered by a sealed-up reactor good for ten millennia or so after external power is cut off – otherwise we’re also going to need a promise of military commitment, or a mercenary budget. Demolitions is our specialty, not fighting a war against a supercomputer on a custom-designed killing field.”

“There must be some alternative.”

“Declare it a planetary monument?”

Thoughtful Wrath

“There are those, pacifists they name themselves, who proclaim that no man’s life is worth another’s; that it is better to die, or witness murder, than to take a life. And if one first grants that all lives have equal value in some mythical sense, this may make sense upon its face.

“There are those, the grovelers, who opine that life is far more precious than the liberty to live it. And so, that ’tis better to be the live dung-worm than the dead eagle, that it is better to live on one’s knees – or one’s face – than die on one’s feet, and thus so how much better not to slay in its defense? And for those timid souls who value their lives but little, whose satisfaction is mediocrity and whose ambitions are but embers, this may also be true.

“There are, too, those who claim that no property or possession is worth a life. And once again, for those whom life is worth infinity in the abstract but nigh-naught in the concrete, it indeed boots little to give away fragments of a life, however cherished, however hard-earned, however irreplaceable, for such small Flames surely quail to fill even their bearer’s body, much less invest the world about.

“But for the sake of the principle that these things embody, that man is a means, not an end; that none exist for the use or pleasure of another; that he who kills, or enslaves, or robs even the least among us, by whatever means, for whichever cause, commits a crime not only against his victim but rebels against the proper nature of rational beings itself —

“If the world chooses to deny this principle, gentle reader, we must drown the world in its own blood.”

– writings of Rhovallis, student of the philosopher Sardonyx,
fellow of the Schola of Vigorous Praxis

Ten Light-Second Pole

From: Capt. Eladin Cineätreos, CS Fustuary Castigation
To: Adm. Hars mor-Lanak, CINCTRAIL
Subject: Intervention on Sorn (Olost Belt)

Per received advisory and request, we proceeded to Sorn (Olost Belt) to investigate pre discretionary Imperial intervention to preserve peace and order on Sorn Actual, under authority of the appropriate Intervention Act.

Upon investigation of local conditions (details attached), Col. Ranik mor-Telantog declined, for his part, to authorize intervention on the grounds that, I quote, “I cannot find anyone on the ground whose head I don’t want to put on a spike, and that is not a disposition a Colonel of Legionaries should be deploying with.”

Upon review, I concur with his decision in its entirety.

In consequence, and in view of the authorizing Act considering a repeat of the Gervés solution undesirable, Fustuary Castigation intends to remain in orbit for 72 hours while assurance of the safety of any Imperial citizen-shareholders and/or associated property in the vicinity is assured, and will then depart for Fleet Base Trailing, per standing orders.

– ec/FC

Because This Is The Most Important Thing To Do In Mid-Pandemic

As a quick note to my Patreon patrons, as of the start of July they will be charging sales tax on assorted, but not all, patron pledges, thanks to new legal requirements. This affects 36 states of the US and assorted foreign parts, in different ways for each, and may only affect certain parts of some pledges, and so forth.

Fuller details are here and will be e-mailed to you by Patreon on the 1st of June; I’m fiddling with settings and descriptions and so forth to minimize the impact to you, so I don’t recommend doing anything precipitate, please. But we’ll have to see how it works out for each individual in the long run.

If you don’t like it, please be assured that I don’t like it either. I can’t imagine that Patreon like it all that much, for that matter. But there’s nothing any of us can do about it, sadly, given “required by law”.

However, if you’d like to rise up in a bloody revolution, tear down the instrumentalities of extortion and oppression, and hang everyone with a favorable opinion of sales tax from the nearest convenient lamp posts, on the other hand, and have a viable plan to do so, do feel free to get in touch.

Shoot Them Later

If They Want To Leave, Let Them Leave

Malefactors in command of a docked starship are always to be permitted to depart if they request it. There are no ‘land-locks’ or armored space doors for a reason. Do not forget that even a tramp merchie or private yacht has point defenses against micrometeoroids, if nothing else, which can do a spectacular amount of damage if used at point-blank range; and, of course, every starship has a drive. While firing up a reaction drive inside a docking bay is of course suicide, it is Imperial policy not to play games of flinchy-flinchy with the desperate.

This applies no matter how clever the plan you have to disable the pd grid and drive systems and/or to board and storm is. Protection of the station and those aboard it comes first. The plan will work just as well when executed by a patrol cruiser a healthy distance from everything expensive.

– Orbit Guard Manual OG-134: Negotiations

Big Iron

INERTIA WARNING

MAGNETIC DRUM STORAGE IN USE
ACCESS BY AUTHORIZED TECHNICIANS ONLY

Magnetic drums rotate at 36 rpm when in use. Do not enter drum room unless steam valve is closed and padlocked, drive clutch is disengaged and padlocked, and spin-down is complete. (Governor ball check is insufficient; spin gauge must read zero.)

Inform supervising administrator before entrance and after exit. All keys are to be retained by responsible technician until maintenance is complete.

Full manual rotation must be performed to check balance before spin-up. Use auxiliary engine only; do not attempt to manipulate drums by hand. Steam release from head positioning servos may occur during zeroing and read/write tests.

EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN CAN NOT BRAKE DRUMS
CONTACT WITH ROTATING DRUM WILL KILL YOU

INERTIA WARNING

The Forgotten City

Once, there was a proud city whose towers touched the heavens. But the people of the city were not its equal in pride, and they grew afraid of the world, for it went on forever, and they believed that such reduced their measure, and the measure of their city.

They thought to make their fear their tool, and erected mighty walls and fortifications to keep the city safe, and hired many swords and ships to guard it against foes coming by land and by sea, and went forth by night to seek those already hidden within. But the more they prepared against the foes of their fancy, the more they supped on fear with their meat, and drink, and breath. They came to believe that it was strength, and so they fed it, even as it grew, until it became a great beast, and that beast devoured them from within.

There are no more towers touching heaven, for there is no city there any more. No foes came to plunder it, nor doom befall. Hollow, it was worn away by time, and the winds carried away its bones, and dust, and name. Books of lore tell not its tales, nor do the rains let fall their tears, nor even fallen stones remember it.

For that which does not live must die.

– A Child’s Treasury of Eldraeic Myth

Probing Further

In assessing the governmental and cultural structures of a world to determine whether contact should be made – or, indeed, further interactions carried through – it is best to approach from a cosmopolitan perspective.  The cultures of the greater galaxy vary widely, and we must not allow parochialism with regard to the details of any given culture to blind us to its virtues.  Despite this, a certain selectivity is required – in dealing with the pre-starflight civilizations which we are discussing, it is generally permissible for the Empire to deal with autocracies and suchlike, as such interaction can often serve to bring them closer to Imperial cultural norms in those areas.

However, an important aspect of pre-Contact study is the determination of so-called “intrinsic barbarian” cultures.  It is not the policy of the Empire to have formal contact or dealings beyond the necessities of the Accords with cultures whose values are fundamentally antithetical to its own, even when those values are in and of themselves not sufficient to have a world placed under exotoxicity interdict.

Note: this may prove particularly difficult when a given pre-Contact world is divided into multiple polities or cultural blocs.

– Imperial Exploratory Service, An Introduction to Contact

ahn-kel seeks ahn-ros for discreet encounter

No discussion of approaches to gender in the Associated Worlds would be complete without mention of the peculiar customs of the mourcalt of the Trailing Assembly.

The mourcalt‘s biology gave them an exceptional degree of sexual dimorphism, which is typically correlated with strong gender archetypes, as indeed it was in their case. When in time this proved unsatisfactory for later stages of their social development, and yet seemed difficult or impossible to overcome per se, the Assembly’s governance opted for an unconventional solution – purchasing an extensive memetic campaign to disassociate, as far as possible, the concepts of sex and gender in the mourcalt mind, and so far as was possible, to create a gender-concept that was free of existing archetypes.

The first part of this campaign succeeded magnificently. Citizens of the Assembly are now randomly assigned to one of eighteen genders at birth, and both ongoing memetic practice and cultural inertia ensures that this remains their psychosocial gender throughout life. (Indeed, this has succeeded to such an extent that mourcalt involved in the sexual marketplace must maintain an appropriate degree of doublethink in consciously finding a partner of a permissible gender for theirs, while simultaneously being unconsciously aware of them being the appropriate sex.

The second part, however, succeeded only insofar as the new genders were free of existing archetypes. Within the first few years of the new system, de novo archetypes for each of the new genders had come into being, and in the present day have hardened into rigid sets of behaviors, customs, and expectations for all eighteen genders (such as, for example, which genders may pair with which other genders for sexual or intimacy purposes, which are curiously disjoint sets), proving if anything even more binding on those claiming them than the old genders tied to biological sex were.

This gender-norming has led in turn to the rise of the ahn-gazet subculture among the mourcalt, which attempts to conceal and obfuscate all visible signs of the psychosocial gender and biological sex, permitting them to act as they please, and to the large number of mourcalt expatriates many of whom reject the Assembly’s gender system, were former ahn-gazet whose gender had become publicly known, or both.

– Unconventional Approaches to Gender Identity,
Makar, Melodion & Avila,
in the Quarterly Journal of Social Exosophontology,
vol. MMCCXIV, no. iii

Sim-Descartes

Well, last month was kind of crappy, productivity-wise, what with one damn thing after another going wrong in non-writing-friendly ways, even without the coronavirus.

Let’s hope this coming month works out better. In the meantime, I hope the lack of posting here has been in some way compensated for by my second venture into self-fanfic.


Proposition: A consequence of the theory of information physics (“it is bit”) is that it renders the simulation argument moot with regards to reality-as-it-is, inasmuch as ontogeny has no bearing on current status.

Defend or refute this proposition. If defending the proposition, explain how the presence or absence of a supervising entity or entities can be considered metaphysically irrelevant. If attacking the proposition, suggest an experiment capable of distinguishing a simulated universe from a self-computed universe.

[10%]

– Hexad Examination in Pure and Applied Metaphysics,
Imperial University of Calmiríë