The Novels

Economics 101, a Novel (Rough Draft) -- My first sustained attempt at a novel, two-thirds finished in rough draft, and heading a little too far south.
What would you do if you and your study partner, with whom you had been seriously discussing marriage, suddenly found yourselves all alone together on a desert island? Study economics?
Sociology 500, a Romance (Second Draft) -- The first book in the Economics 101 Trilogy.(On hold.)
Karel and Dan, former American football teammates and now graduate students, meet fellow graduate students Kristie and Bobbie, and the four form a steady study group.

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Sociology 500, a Romance, ch 1 pt 1 -- Introducing Bobbie

TOC Well, let's meet Roberta Whitmer. Bobbie entered the anthropology department office and looked around. Near the receptionis...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Economics 101, a Novel, ch 100 -- Bobbie and Karel, Changing Priorities

[JMR20160909: This was a blind alley. I am currently working in the initial (rough) draft of this chapter, here:]

Now that we have the framing story for this simplified economic system (, we can perform the first thought experiment. (If you haven't read the framing story, please do so. It will help the rest of this make more sense.)

You may note that this is not the simplest economic system we could, ideally, describe. Part of the reason for that is, as I noted in the framing story, that we think we know too much about interstellar travel.

But, part of what makes physics difficult is when we describe (for example) a cannonball and a feather interacting with the earth in a vacuum to children who haven't really ever properly experienced a vacuum, much less experienced playing with the earth as a physics toy. Simple is not simple without preparation.

A proper Adam and Eve story requires laying too much groundwork (That's another reason not to use interstellar travel.) -- and there's too much of the models inside my head that I would have to explain explicitly. With the desert island, I'm thinking I can rely on most people's misapprehensions.

I thought, by the way, of stranding Wycliffe on a different uninhabited island, for his one-on-one-with-nature-and-God experiments, but that kind of story is for another day. He will have a bit more direct interaction with God.

Even the uninhabited island part is really a bit outside the ordinary experience, but it's much more within reach, I think.

Let's continue with Karel and Bobbie's story.

"Where is Wycliffe going?" Bobbie asked, almost to herself, as they watched the airplane disappear over the horizon.

Karel shrugged. "I suppose he needs to do more prolonged checks on the engine. At least, I hope that's what he's doing. Or maybe he's going back to civilization for parts or something."

A few minutes passed as they looked around themselves at the island. They could see the beach stretching fairly straight away from them, and the sea seemed smooth enough. Inland, the land sloped up easily for a ways, with a small mountain off in the distance.

"How long will it take?" Bobbie leaned back against one of the trunks.

"How should I even guess?"

"What time is it now?"

Karel looked at his watch. "One twenty-six."

"Just wanted to know. Do you think he was acting a little strange?"

"Strange?" Karel thought for a moment. "Well, most of the people out here are not what we would call normal back home."


"It would be hard for me to tell what strange would mean for him. I think the island natives are a little easier to read than him."

Karel looked around the beach again, then at Bobbie. "You need something to keep the sun off you, I think."

"No, I'm okay. But I'm wondering whether we ought to move our stuff up the beach a bit, beyond the tide line."

"He should be back before the tide rises too far. I hope."

Bobbie drew her knees up under her chin and thought for a few more minutes.

Then she said, "Let's explore."

"Agreed. We've been sitting here long enough." 

And they stood up and dusted themselves off a bit.

"But we need to keep the beach and the luggage in sight."


Karel picked up a stick of driftwood and drove it into the sand upright. Bobbie watched him check his watch and the position of the shadow.

"East seems to be that way." He pointed out across the water.

"I do hope we're not here long enough to find out for sure."

They started out north, along the beach, first. After walking about five minutes, Karel drove another stick in the ground and checked directions.

"The beach seems to be curving a little towards the west."

"Do you want to draw a map?"

"If we had the time, it could be interesting."

"I think we have the time. We could put off our return a day or two, when we get back to the main island, and have them fly us back out here to explore."

"Sounds fun. Maybe so. Wycliffe would probably approve. So would Professor MacVittie and our parents. Heh. Let's head inland a bit."

After about a minute's walk, the beach's level had risen five feet or so, and the sand began to be covered with grass. Another minute further, and they were into low shrubbery. Yet another minute, and they entered the woods.

Karel said, "We could lose track of our stuff if we go further."

"I really think I want to come back and explore." replied Bobbie, somewhat absently, and they turned back and walked south, keeping just outside the trees. Passing to the right of their luggage, they continued for another five minutes.

"Still heading slightly east. If we've been walking about 80 yards a minute, we've covered about a half mile of beach, and the beach doesn't curve much here. Let's save this for when we come back."

"Sounds good. So, Karel, we're coming back after Wycliffe fixes the plane."

"Yeah. Let's come back. It would make an interesting date."

And they looked sideways at each other, smiling a little wryly and a little shyly.

Then they walked down to the water's edge and followed the beach back to where their stuff was sitting in the sand.

"Is it almost two?"

"Yeah. Maybe we should move the luggage up to the grass, anyway."

"I'll need your help with my trunk."

"And I'd appreciate it if you helped me with mine. I'm not quite into showing off my muscles today."


Moving the luggage occupied a half an hour. They had a trunk and a suitcase each, and Bobbie's purse, Karel's shoulder bag, a backpack each, and some other small personal stuff.

"I didn't really think about it at the time, but is it a little odd that Wycliffe put our personal stuff off, too?"

"Maybe. He is taking a long time."

And there was a box of emergency supplies, and the rubber dinghy and the tent in canvas carrying bags. And two boxes that they hadn't really taken notice of until the rest of the luggage was moved.

"What're those?"

"Something of Wycliffe's?" Karel picked one up, and Bobbie picked up the other.
"There seems to be a tag on this one." They carried the boxes to the grass and set them down, and Karel looked at the tag.

What Karel had thought was a tag was an envelope. "Oh, for, ... It says, to us."

"Huh?" Bobbie took the envelope. "to Bobbie and Karel." The envelope was not sealed, and inside was a card with a heart and cupid's arrow drawn on it. "You guys need a vacation. There's enough food in these boxes. I'll be back in three days. Have fun."

"That ..." Karel didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Bobbie turned the card over to see if there was any more. "I'll call your professor and tell him you decided to postpone your return for a little adventuring. There aren't any dangerous animals on this island. Don't worry about a thing. See you in three days. Love, Wycliffe." And she took a deep breath.

"How sweet." she said. "In a twisted sort of way."

"Meddling busybody." Karel muttered.

There was silence for about three minutes as they thought their own thoughts.

"Professor MacVittie will uhm, have mixed feelings about this." Karel started.

"I have mixed feelings about this. Flying out from the main island early, with time for a little hiking and a picnic, and flying back after a day trip, that would have been a fun vacation. We might even have had Wycliffe or Zedidiah chaperone us while we camped out for a night. But this is not going to make our bishops or stake presidents happy, either."

"Or us. Blast Wycliffe. Legally, this is kidnapping."

"And a bit worse, but swearing at him won't bless us."

"Okay. Bless him."

More silence.

"I think we should pray." This was Bobbie's suggestion.

"Indeed." Karel dropped down on his knees. "I'll go first?"

Bobbie also knelt down. "Okay. Go ahead."

Karel prayed for Wycliffe to be forgiven, and for his heart to be softened, and for their safe return to civilization. Then he prayed for help for Bobbie and himself, that they would be guided and kept out of spiritual danger as well as physical.

Bobbie concurred with a heartfelt amen, and then added her own concerns:

"... Father, we don't know what the future will bring, but please, keep us from doing anything that would offend our future companions, whoever they might be, or prevent us from being married in the temple. ...."

And Karel concurred with an equally heartfelt amen after Bobbie's amen.

They stayed on their knees, listening with their hearts. And got an answer:
Wycliffe is in my hands. 
Karel looked puzzled and checked with Bobbie. She was also puzzled, and she nodded, she'd felt the same impression.

Karel again prayed. "Father, we hope that Wycliffe will be protected if he is in danger. And we hope that he will be able to return as he promised, in three days."

Bobbie added, "We'd rather it were sooner, if he could change his mind, but please at least bring him back by then."
I want you here, now, for a while. I know how to save Wycliffe's soul, and I know how to save yours. It's time for both of you to start preparing.
Bobbie and Karel repeated together what they had each felt, and watched each other's eyes widen as the words matched exactly.

And then they prayed together for Wycliffe's friends and family, and then for their own, as they realized the possible meanings of the impressions they had received.

Then, following the instruction they had received to prepare, Karel opened the emergency supplies while Bobbie opened the boxes of food that Wycliffe had prepared for them.

"Bread, cheese, water. Sausage. Thoughtful of him about the water. Wine. We won't need that."

"We'll keep it in case we need crude antiseptic. We have one tent. It could fit four in an emergency. You get that. I'll make a lean-to or something. Oh, good, we have a water filter and some fishing string and hooks. Rope. A hand shovel, an axe, a good knife. It looks like a good scout packed this, or someone who knows what you need in the wilderness. We'll be okay for a while." And he put the supplies back carefully.

Bobbie closed the boxes of food and got her lunch out of her purse. It was an egg salad sandwich. "How careful do we need to be with our food?"

Karel got out his lunch. "Let's eat what we brought, so it doesn't spoil, and then we'll start exploring for real. We'll set the tent up before it starts getting dark." He paused.

"Bobbie, ..."


"Where I was reading in the Bible on the plane this morning. Book of Job."
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
"That's in the first chapter," Bobbie said. "God doesn't hate us, he just figures he can let us be tested."

"I reckon so."

Let's look at the values Karel and Bobbie put on things here. Consider how the values change as their understanding of their situation changes.

Now think about what Wycliffe has exchanged with Bobbie and Karel, and to what purpose.

Also think about the ways in which Bobbie and Karel have been cooperating and sharing, and what it is that allows them to cooperate and share.

Finally, note how their ideas and priorities were in agreement when they prayed, and how that allowed them to hear the answers they got.

Just how bad is Wycliffe? Let's see:

The table of contents can be found here:

[JMR20160614: The initial (rough) draft of this chapter is here:]

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