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.

Featured Post

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...

Saturday, July 29, 2017

edits: Ch. 2, Priorities Begin to Change

[JMR20170725 edits]

{replace}
A proper Adam and Eve story also requires laying too much groundwork -- and there's too much of the models that I would have to explain explicitly if I were to just start off telling you about the Adam and Eve of Karel and Bobbie's world. (And that is also an interesting story for someday.)
{with}
A proper Adam and Eve story also requires laying too much groundwork -- and there's too much of the models that I would have to explain explicitly if I were to just start off telling you about the Adam and Eve of Karel and Bobbie's world. (And that is also an interesting story.)
{end replace}

{replace}
God. And I've been talking about prayer, too. I will be talking about both. But maybe you are an atheist. Or, maybe you don't think you can believe in my God.
{with}
God. And I've been talking about prayer, too. Maybe that worries you. I will be talking about both. But maybe you are an atheist. Or, maybe you don't think you can believe in my God.
{end replace}

{replace}
"Yep. That's east," Bobbie confirmed wryly. "I do hope we're not here long enough for you to make an accurate astronomical compass." Bobbie grinned, and Karel chuckled in response.
{with}
"Yep. That's east," Bobbie confirmed wryly. "I do hope we're not here long enough for you to make an accurate solar compass." She grinned, and Karel chuckled in response.
{end replace}

{replace}
But bear with me, and I think I can convince you that I am not trying to sell you my gods, at any rate. And religion and cosmology is generally a part of most value systems, and economics is impossible without value, so we can't really avoid talking about the stuff.

So let's not fuss about it. I'll try not to pull my punches with the religious elements of the story.
{with}
But bear with me a bit, and I think I can show you that I am not trying to sell you my gods, at any rate. Religion and cosmology is generally a part of most value systems, and economics is impossible without value, so we can't really avoid talking about the stuff.

Let's not fuss about it. I'll try to keep the religious elements of the story out where you can see them.
{end replace}

[end JMR20170725 edits]


Current version: https://econ101-novel.blogspot.com/2017/05/e02-priorities-begin-to-change.html.

Monday, July 24, 2017

edits: Ch. 1, The Framing Story -- the Pilots and the Island





[JMR201707241351 edits]

{replace}

"Your thesis plan looks good, but you'll need to do some on-location research." Professor MacVittie was helping Karel review his plans.

Karel Pratt nodded his agreement. "I guess I should say so in my proposal? Should I revise the plan to say something about needing the fieldwork, but not yet knowing when and where?"

Professor MacVittie nodded slowly, in half agreement. "Well, you could, but I think you know enough to be somewhat specific already. You should be able to name several islands as possibilities."

Karel scratched behind his ear. "I guess I can say I'm looking at a few locations, but don't know which, yet?"

"Sounds reasonable." The professor paused. "Changing the subject a little, but do you know Roberta Whitmer?"

Karel looked surprised. "Not really. Well, I think I've met her. She calls herself Bobbie, right? And she's in the anthropology program, too?"

"Yes, that would be her. Her thesis seems like it could complement yours. Professor White and I were thinking you might want to talk with her. Just a suggestion, of course, but it often helps to have someone you can work with."

"Mmm," Karel thought for a moment, then nodded hesitantly. "I'll talk with her and see."
{with}
Studying economics is not like studying physics.

In physics, we can start with things we see and work directly with -- the angle of a shadow on sand, water pulling on an oar, a rubber dinghy floating in the sea, an airplane gliding through the air.

Even the moderately complex chemical reactions that are the regular controlled explosions of fuel in an airplane engine are quite repeatable. (And so are the effects of running out of fuel.)

With economics, nothing is static.

Sure, we have money. But money is a contrived proxy for value, and is not constant over time, or even from person to person. So we need to simplify our basic models to make them understandable.

I don't know about you, but the simplest economic system I can think of is one person on a desert island. Except, of course, one person alone is only interesting for a little while.



"Your thesis plan looks good, but you'll need to do some on-location research." Professor MacVittie was helping Karel Pratt review his plans for his doctoral studies at Orson Hyde University.

Karel nodded. "I guess I should mention it in the proposal. Should I revise the plan to say something about needing the fieldwork, but not yet knowing when and where?"

The Professor nodded in agreement. "Well, you could. But I think you know enough already to name some specific islands as possibilities."

Karel scratched thoughtfully behind his ear. "I guess I can say I'm looking at a few locations, but don't know which, yet, ..."

"Sure. Why don't you think about that." The professor hesitated before changing the subject. "Say, do you know a Roberta Whitmer?"

"Roberta Whitmer?" Karel was surprised. "No, not really."

The professor thought he might have seen something unsaid behind Karel's eyes, but it was gone before he could be sure.

"Well, I think I may have met her once. She calls herself Bobbie, right?"

"She does."

"And she's a pre-PhD student in the anthropology program, too?"

"Yes, that would be her."

"And?"

"Her thesis seems like it could complement yours. Professor White and I were thinking you might want to talk with her."

The professor still couldn't read Karel's reactions.

"Just a suggestion, of course, but it often helps to have someone you can work with."

"Mmm," Karel grunted, then nodded somewhat absently. "I'll look her up and talk with her and see."

{end replace}

{replace}
Karel continued: "And we've been working together on the itinerary. We contacted some travel agencies, ..."
{with}
Karel continued. "And we've been working together on the itinerary. We contacted some travel agencies, ..."
{end replace}

{replace}
Ultimately, the faculty and Sister MacVittie decided it would be best for Professor MacVittie to accompany them for the first two weeks. That way he could help them solve the early problems. He could also make contacts in the islands for the university.
{with}
Ultimately, the faculty, Bobbie, Karel, and Sister MacVittie decided it would be best for Professor MacVittie to accompany them for the first two weeks. That way he could help them solve the early problems. He could also make contacts in the islands for the university.
{end replace}

{replace}
Names? I'm translating the names mostly by meaning and history rather than sound.)
{with}
Names? I'm translating the names mostly by meaning and parallels in their history rather than sound. But some of the names do sound similar, Bobbie's and Karel's, in particular.)
{end replace}

{replace}
And you thought this was a novel, right?
{with}
And I told you this was a novel, right?

Well, it is -- something like a novel, anyway.
{end replace}

{replace}
Well, when trying to decipher the physical laws of the universe, we find it easier to start with a simplified model. For example, when describing the flight of a cannonball, we start by ignoring air friction and wind. That makes the math simple enough for one person to handle without a computer in many cases, and the calculated results are close to the actual flight in the common cases.

Economics is not as easily simplified as physics. In physics, we can see, or at least measure the interactions, even when there are interactants we don't directly see, like wind, or electric or magnetic fields, or chemical reactions.

Of course, gunpowder is not very simple, but we might instead use something simpler like a catapult or trebuchet to launch the cannonball. Those are a bit more repeatable than crude gunpowder.

We can see what happens, and we can measure and time the acceleration paths, and so forth. And we can compare our results with the path and timing of a dropped cannonball or a cannonball rolling on a slope, where things happen a little more slowly and are easier to measure.

We can simplify.

In economics, we deal with complex interactions and abstract interactants. Some of the elements are fairly straightforward, like food, fuel, and housing. Some, like value, are so abstract that we can't even safely define them once and expect them not to change while we are trying to observe them.

Some elements of economics, like money, are deceptive simplicities hiding complex and abstract qualities whose continual, often hidden variations play directly into the math.

We need simplifications to be able to work with economics, even if we have the help of computers. But economic interactions are difficult to simplify.

Complex mathematics looks a lot like literature, abstract mathematics even more so. So, I'll take a hint from the math, and make a small logical leap, as well, and construct this informal thesis on the fundamentals of economics as a set of thought experiments in the form of a novel.

-- but maybe a little bit of an unusual novel.
{with}
As I say, when trying to decipher the physical laws of the universe, we find it easier to start with a simplified model. For example, when describing the flight of a thrown football or papaya, we start by ignoring air friction, and wind, and the way it tumbles in the wind. That makes the math simple enough for one person to handle without a computer in many cases. And the calculated results are generally close enough to the actual flight.

Economics is not as easily simplified as physics.

But we can still simplify.

In economics, we deal with complex interactions and abstract interactants. Some of the elements are fairly straightforward, like food, fuel, and housing. Some, like value, are so abstract that we can't even safely define them once and expect them not to change while we are trying to observe them.

With only two people, maybe we can do away with money. Value systems can be simplified. And we can focus more easily on the bargaining processes, and on what they exchange.

Complex mathematics looks a lot like literature, abstract mathematics even more so. So, I'm taking a hint from the math, and making a small logical leap, as well, and constructing this informal thesis on the fundamentals of economics as a set of thought experiments in the form of a novel -- but a slightly unusual novel.
{end replace}

{replace}
Wycliffe sat on their desk and picked up their schedule. "Hey, Zed. Look what we got this week."

Zedidiah looked up. "Yeah, I see that. Them two grad students from that Apist school. Come to study ant rope loggies -- native cull-chewer and all that. And do busybody serve ice pro jets. Straight as two rulers. Even the natives are laughing behind their backs."

(That's roughly how it would have sounded to us, if we spoke their language.)
{with}
Wycliffe sat on the desk they shared and picked up the scratch paper they were using that month to write their schedule on. "Hey, Zed. Look what we got this week."

Zedidiah looked up. "Yeah, I see that. Them two grad students from that Apist school. Come to study ant rope loggies -- native cull-chewer and all that. And do busybody serve ice pro jets. Straight as two rulers. Even the natives are laughing behind their backs."

(Anthropology, culture, and service projects, of course, but that's roughly how it would have sounded to us had Zedidiah been joking in English. Oh, and E-P-ist.)
{end replace}

[end JMR201707241351 edits]
[JMR201707251541 edits]

{replace}
We need a framing story to get them onto the islands. A good simulation game always has a good framing story, and this is (pretty much) a mental simulation game.
{with}
A good simulation game always has a good framing story, so we need a framing story to get them onto the island that will be our laboratory.
{end replace}

{replace}
"And the nether moon high in this late morning sky is just a little bit romantic, too."
{with}
"And the nether moon high in this late morning sky is just a tad romantic, too," she added.
{end replace}

{replace}
And I guess it would be less confusing to keep saying "hour". Sixteen gohbu are a chippu.
{with}
And I guess it would be less confusing not to say "hour". Sixteen gohbu in a chippu, sixteen chippu in a day.
{end replace}

[end JMR201707251541 edits]

[JMR201707291824 edits]

{replace}
I don't know about you, but the simplest economic system I can think of is one person on a desert island. Except, of course, one person alone is only interesting for a little while.
{with}
The simplest economic system I can think of is one person on a desert island. Of course, one person alone is only interesting for a little while.
{end replace}

{replace}
"Roberta Whitmer?" Karel was surprised. "No, not really."
{with}
"Roberta ... ?" Karel was surprised. "No, not really."
{end replace}

{replace}
I'll tell you about that world as we go. It's kind of like ours in a lot of ways ...
{with}
I'll tell you about that world as we go. It's kind of like ours in a lot of ways ... .
{end replace}

{replace}
Bobbie answered: "Nothing in particular. But we don't want to spend all of our evenings the rest of our lives talking shop at home." Maybe she wasn't being totally up front, but she didn't think her relationship with Karel was any of Wycliffe's business.
{with}
Bobbie answered, "Nothing in particular. But we don't want to spend all of our evenings the rest of our lives talking shop at home." Maybe she wasn't being totally up front, but she didn't think her relationship with Karel was any of Wycliffe's concern.
{end replace}

[end JMR201707291824 edits]


Current version: https://econ101-novel.blogspot.com/2017/04/e01-framing-story-pilots-island.html.




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

RFQ4: Ch. 7, Wycliffe, Changing His Heart

A Little Cosmology

[Yet another false start, incomplete edit.]

Wycliffe, Changing His Heart


This chapter does not sound like an economic discussion, but it's necessary background. Otherwise, when we start trying to understand value for real, we'll get bogged down in details.



Light.

There shouldn't be light. He was underwater. He was dead, anyway. There shouldn't be anything.

The light grew, and he looked toward it. He sensed a Presence he did not want to face. There was an invitation in the light, but he knew he could not stand before that Presence.

It was hard to describe the direction of the light in any way but up and ahead.

In the opposite direction there was a blackness, and a presence he really wanted to avoid. Not so much an invitation as an imperious command, a seducing influence. "Give it up. You are mine." He shut his mind to it.

And then he was filled with a desire to go back in time and tell Karel not to trust him, not to get on the plane. Somewhere, he had heard that time in the afterlife was not like time for mortals. Maybe he could.

Suddenly, he was on the airstrip on their last island, watching himself load fuel. He ran towards himself, shouting, "No! Don't do it."

No reaction.

Against reason, he tried getting into his own body, but of course that didn't work. His body already had a lower entropy level version of himself in it.

Bobbie and Karel came out onto the strip, pushing their luggage in a cart. He tried to block their way, but they just walked right through him as if he weren't there. Shouting, screaming, crying, nothing got through to the land of the living.

He was panicking, but when they boarded the plane, he stayed with them, still trying to find a way to communicate.

He stayed with them to the uninhabited island, trying to get their attention and stop them, fighting the fear that he wouldn't be able to.

When he took the plane up for testing, he stayed with himself, first, trying to get himslef to take the plane back down and trying to reinforce the second thoughts he knew he was having, then trying to get himself to work harder at clearing the spark plugs and trying to get him to set the plane's speed to a more conservative speed. None of that was any good. There was an entropic wall he couldn't breach.

He suppressed his terror and stayed with himself as the plane went down, watching himself swim, whispering the directions as he watched himself lose them, hopefully watching himself find his bearings again, encouraging him to stay the distance, listening to himself pray, wondering when the angels would show up.

In blackest agony, he watched himself drown. And he watched as his own spirit at the lower entropy level separated from his body, hesitated, and left to try to stop himself.

And he heard a Voice say,
This is not the way to repent.
Surprised that he still existed, he went back to the island in despair and listened to Karel and Bobbie talking in the dark about their plans after they got back to civilization. Bobbie was in the tent and Karel was under a makeshift lean-to formed by lining their luggage up near the tent.

And he felt the irony as he realized, that they were, indeed, talking about getting together. The realization that it was an on-going discussion was bittersweet. He probably could have saved himself a lot of plotting, and avoided the dangers, by just suggesting once more on the flight back that they take a vacation together before they left the islands.

Trying to think of other ways to undo the damage, he thought about trying to contact Zedidiah. And found himself in their office several days before, watching Zedidiah and himself as they mocked how Karel and Bobbie respected each other.

Now he could recognize the irony under the jokes. The regret was bitter, but the understanding of mutual respect was a sweetness he decided he wanted to get used to, if only he weren't dead.

And still, talking, shouting, screaming, whispering, jumping, dancing, nothing he could do got their attention. There seemed to be no way to get Zedidiah to suspect his plans for real, or to get himself to recognize that his plans were so seriously wrong.

Again, he stayed with himself. He stuck with himself all the way to the island where he picked them up to bring them back. He stayed there until he saw a lower entropy version of his own spirit come to try to get their attention and then join them in the return flight that wasn't.

And he heard, again,
There is no way that this is helping anything.
Then he went back to the office again, to focus on getting Zedidiah's attention, with no results. His desparation helped him focus away from the lower entropy version of himself that was focusing on himself.

And again, he heard the Voice.
This is not how you make amends.
Trying to contact other friends did not work.

Nothing worked.
But he kept hearing that Voice.

So he worked backward in time until he found the point where he had consciously given up believing that other people could choose happiness for themselves. It was during his relationship with Tessa, and he saw that his own choice to return to cynicism after being baptized was a major part of the reason she had left him.

And he couldn't contact himself to get himself to give up on cynicism, either.

And then he started repeating his course, trying again where he had already failed creating an entropic loop because he had tracked onto his own path through the entropic field.

Talk about vicious cycles.

Temporal, or entropic loops are hard to get out of. They tend to amplify the distress, terrors, and passions, and attenuate faith and rationality. Because it involves going back in time, there's no way to count your number of times through the loop. Recursion with no exit strategy.

The primary effect is a sideways increase in personal entropy, bringing you closer to second death.

Fortunately, that Voice also stays with each person who goes into the cycles of hell. And it stayed with Wycliffe repeating things like --
Trying to change the past is not the way to repent.
At some point, having gained significant entropy, equivalent to being through the loop thousands of times, his thought processes lost focus and started becoming random. He lost the strength to keep himself tied to the assumptions that kept the cycles closed.

And he tried something different. He went to Australia, to find a certain police station and try to inform the Australian police there of some petty crimes he had committed. He thought, if he had gone to jail, maybe he wouldn't end up flying charter in the islands, and then he could never have done these terrible things.

It was not a rational thought, but it broke the cycle.

And he saw many other dead people trying to tell the police things. None of them were having any success. And he began, finally, to doubt the rationality of trying to stop himself after the fact, to yield to the despair that there was nothing he could do to save himself.

Something he had learned while studying with the Mormons, about a young man named Alma crying for help from the pains of hell, moved him to ask God to save him from his own despair. And he found a glimmer of hope.

He recognized one of the dead at the police station as a friend he hadn't talked with in a long time, so he tried to talk to him.

"Hey, Kev!"

Kevin turned away from the police officer he was trying to hound into re-reading a police report.

"Huh? Wha? Wyck! What are you doing here?"

"I really screwed up. I was going to ask you."

"Killed my gf."

"That's not good."

"Had an argument while we were out joyriding in the outback."

"Arguments happen."

"We shouldn't have been there. We'd left the baby in the house. And we were arguing about money and other things that don't matter."

"You have a baby?"

"Turned the jeep over, and we didn't have our seatbelts on. She ended up under the rollbar. Couldn't get her back to the hospital in time. Called my neighbor from the hospital to go keep an eye on the baby."

"That really sucks."

"Myeah."

"So how did you end up dead?"

"Driving trucks on long hauls with no breaks. Had to make money to support my daughter. Bad accident on an empty stretch of highway, load of fruit all over the road. I'm not sure how long I was hanging upside down in the rolled-over cab before I died."

"What are you doing now?"

"I'm trying to get the police to take the wife abuse reports more seriously, so I'll be in jail before we have that last argument."

"Do you ever hear a voice telling you that time travel is not a substitute for repentance or something like that? I have, and I've been ignoring it, but I think I'm beginning to understand."

Kevin thought for several moments, or it might have been an eternity.

"Uh, huh, now that you mention it, yeah. I've been ignoring that voice, so I haven't really heard it, but the voice has been there. What does it mean?"

"Maybe it means we should quit trying to change the past."

"But it's not really past is it?"

Now Wycliffe had to think. "Well, maybe, but we'd have to rewind the whole world. Once the future is chosen, it's chosen, really."

"Fate?"

"No, we have a choice, once. That once moves forward, and if we don't move forward with it, then we have no more choice. How do I understand this now?"
We're telling you.
"Who are you?" Kevin asked as Wycliffe looked towards the voices, astonished.

"I'm Wycliffe's grandfather and your grandfather's friend. My name is Greg."

"I'm Georgianna, Wycliffe's grandmother. We've accepted the good news, and we're your angels on call right at the moment."

"Are you the ones that keep telling me to repent?" Wycliffe asked?

"No, that's the voice of the Master, Himself."

"Jesus!"

"That's right. God Is Your Help." Georgianna smiled. "So, Wycliffe, you know why Kevin is here, why don't you tell him why you are here?"

"Well, I've been sort of not getting over breaking up with Tessa."

Kevin look startled.

"Tessa was a girl I used to date. I thought she was going to agree to marry me, but then she ran away. Said I wasn't passionate enough for her or something."

"Oh, really?"

"I've been, well, had been doing charter flights on some islands for a while with a Zealander named Zedidiah, and I met this couple that I thought needed a little push to get romantic."

"Huh?"

"They liked each other. But they weren't into romance. So I thought I should make sure they had an opportunity to get romantic. I effectively kidnapped them and left them on a desert island to seduce each other."

"That's twisted."

"Yep. For all I know, they're dead now, too. I'm a rapist by proxy and a murderer."

"I thought my case was bad. But, you said, 'Tessa'?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"That's my girlfriend's name."

Greg spoke up. "We know where she is. Would you two care to visit her? She needs some cheering up."

Kevin shook himslf negatively. "No way could I see her."

It was Wycliffe who asked, "Why? I'd say you should ask her to forgive you. And I'd like to clear some things up."

"I can't face that."

"It's hard. I know I'm going to have to ask Bobbie and Karel to forgive me."

"Bobbie and Karel are okay. Let's take care of first things first," said Georgianna.

"I'm with you," said Wycliffe.

And Kevin thought for a moment and said, "I guess I should come, too."

And they found themselves in a white place with many people dressed in white. And they looked at themselves and realized they were still clothed in the unclean thoughts they had brought with them. The angel suggested they change their thoughts, which they did, setting aside the negatives and the terrors, and then they were also dressed in white.

Greg spoke to one of those spirits there, and he called out to someone who called out to someone, and soon they saw Tessa looking at them. Tessa would not join them, so Georgianna asked if she'd let them go there so they could talk. She concurred without speaking.

Wycliffe said, "Hi, Tessa."

She turned away.

"Tessa, look. I forgive you now, even if I hadn't before now."

"How dare you?"

"People do stupid things, like admitting they've been offended. Can you forgive me?"

"Of what?"

"Emotionally hanging on too long, I think. Are you offended that I kidnapped Bobbie and Karel?"

"I don't know about that."

So Wycliffe rehearsed the events that had lead him out of the mortal world.

"And I thought you weren't passionate enough. It sounds so romantic!"

"I don't think it's romantic for them any more."

"Okay. So I was blind to your romantic side. I guess you can forgive me for that. And I guess I forgive you for not being able to make me see you as you are until I had gone too far away."

At this point, Kevin said, "Man, I feel like a third wheel."

And Tessa said, "No. You and I have a child. We have to be her angels now. I've been trying to understand how we could do that, but now I see. And I forgive you, too, if you can forgive me for the emotional abuse I put on you."

"Uhm, killing you is worse than emotional abuse?"

"Sure, but I assume you've been through your hell. I've been through mine. We've lost a lot, and we have more to do, but God is able to save us. Sin is sin. It's time to move on."

They were all silent for a moment, thinking how words could give one hope in the impossible, and then Greg said, "Kevin, Tessa, Someone would like to talk with the two of you." And Kevin and Tessa went to talk with God.

Georgianna said, "I think you were saying, ..."

"Bobbie and Karel."

"You've done part of your recompense, but it isn't quite time for talking with them, yet. Are you ready to talk with your Savior?"

"I guess, maybe."

Greg said, "Let's let Tessa and Kevin finish their interview. In the meantime, I think you need a review about the meaning of eternity."

"I'll say."

And Wycliffe listened carefully as they helped him recall his lessons from before he was born, about the nature of spirits and the nature of the mortal world, and the nature of the post-mortal existence. Then it was his turn to talk with the Master.

And then Georgianna and Greg took him back to the island where Bob and Karel were waking up from the first night alone.

"I'm on my own here?"

"Do you have a partner?" asked Georgianna.

"I guess not. But I just watch them?"

"You'll know how to help them without taking away their right to choose now," replied Greg.

"And when things are going okay here, I go help the searchers to not look here?"

"Yes."

"And this is part of how I make amends?"

"That's right." Greg answered. "You started things the wrong way. But if you had started things the right way, God still intended to give them an opportunity to be on this island by themselves."

"They'll have to forgive you, but I think they'll see their way to that."

"Just out of curiosity," Wycliffe hesitated and then continued, "Does anyone ever do something like this deliberately, so they can take on the job of watching over someone?"

Georgianna sighed. "Yes, sometimes people try such things, but it does not end well at all. Leaves a real mess for all the angels to clean up. You did not do this knowing what you were doing, so you don't face that mess."

"Okay. So I'm on the job. And if I need help, ...?"

"Pray, of course." Georgianna nodded.

And they were gone.

And Wycliffe took a tour of the island while Bobbie and Karel got up and tried to figure out how to start a day without any of the things they usually used to start their days. There were lots of things about the island he had not known.

Fortunately, time in the post-mortal world flows differently from time in the moral world, and he was finished with his tour before they had started putting breakfast together.

Then he settled down to watching over them.





A Little Cosmology Table of Contents Next



[No edit history yet.]



[In the 1st draft.]
[In the 2nd draft.]

[Earlier discarded version.]

RFQ4: Ch. 4, Tentative Exploration

(Wycliffe's Punishment)

[Yet another false start, incomplete editing.]

So we have seen Wycliffe behaving as if there were more important things than money.

How can we talk about economics if the characters of our story don't think money matters?

:)

Well, let's think about such questions as we go back to see what Karel and Bobbie have been doing while Wycliffe was trying hard to save himself so he could save them.

It's tempting to use the native Kakgu words for many things -- foods, plants, animals, etc. But then you'll get lost learning a language you'll never use. I'll try to find something close to translate them as, instead. 



Karel and Bobbie separately closed their eyes and offered silent prayers of thanks for their food.

Karel took a bite of his sandwich and drank some water from his canteen. "What kind of sandwich did you did you say you brought?" he asked.

"Egg salad, with some of the native wild lettuce. How about you?" Bobbie said between bites. (Xamina -- Might as well call it lettuce. Broad purple and green leaves, mild flavor.)

"Ham, with some of the native mustard greens. Try it?" (Vusa -- compressed and cured meat. The animal looks like a pig and the flavor is similar, I guess. And haraina -- green and orange leafy vegetable, mildly piquant mustard-like flavor.)

Bobbie looked at him doubtfully. He dug into the emergency kit again and found the knife, and wiped it with his handkerchief. Bobbie reached over and covered his hand and the knife.

"That's okay." Then she took his sandwich. "I trust your saliva more than that knife until we can wash it." She took a bite and handed it back, chewing thoughtfully and swallowing. "Not bad. Have a bite of mine?"

Karel blinked. "Sure." He took the sandwich she offered, took a bite, and handed it back. "Nice," he said, between chews, "especially with mayonnaise." (Gyup, we can call mayonnaise without any loss of meaning at all. It does have a distinct green cast.)

Bobbie said, "It's been a while since we treated ourselves to Berikeil food, hasn't it?" (The Union of Independent States of Berikil. Berikil Mesufito was the mapmaker who made the first maps of the new world.)

"Mmm, well, yeah. Focusing on the local cuisine and all hasn't left us much time to eat Berikeil."

(The shape of those continents is a little different from our Americas, but there are a number of parallels in the history, including naming the continents after the mapmaker instead of the leader of the expedition. At least Berikil was part of the crew.)

Both of them wondered whether it would be yet a while before they ate food from their home country again, but neither put the thoughts into words.

When they had finished eating, Karel asked, "What should we do next?"

"Start exploring the island for real, maybe?"

"Ya know, I'm thinking I want to make sure the water filter works."

"Good idea. Have you read the instructions?"

Karel dug into the emergency kit, but could only find the filter body and the pack of paper filters that looked more like coffee filters. No instructions.

"Can that actually filter water?" Bobbie said doubtfully when he showed her the paper filters.

"For short-term, drink-or-die emergencies, I guess."

"We'll have to be careful with the drinking water Wycliffe gave us, and use sea water to wash."

"Maybe we can find something to make a real filter with." Karel thought for a minute. Then he said, "Let's wash the utensils from the emergency kit so we don't have to worry about that for dinner."

Bobie agreed, so they took the utensils with them and went down to the beach to look at the water. The sea was clear and blue, and looked inviting. Karel asked, "Want to go in for a swim?"

"Is that preparing? Sounds more like play. What about the dishes?"

"Part of exploring -- gotta check out the water source."

Bobbie looked at Karel with a smile that bordered on a smirk and said, "Sounds good to me."

"You think I'm just making excuses." Karel complained as they walked back up the beach to get their swimming suits.

Bobbie just laughed.

Looking at their baggage spread out on the grass, Bobbie pointed out, "No place to change."

"Well, we need to put up the tent, anyway. Give me a hand?"

"Sure, let's do it."

They opened up the canvas bag with the tent in it and pulled out the rubberized ground sheet, the canvas tent, the tent poles, lines, and stakes, and starting setting it up.

"Should I trust you with that big hammer?" Bobbie joked as she held the stakes while Karel pounded them into the dirt. Fortunately, the ground under the grass was firmer than beach sand.

"You want to swing it?"

"Just be careful." 

When they had the tent up, Bobbie changed into her swimsuit inside the tent while Karel pulled the dinghy out of its canvas bag and looked it over. "There's a canvas tarp in the bag with the dinghy." he reported. "And a foot pump." He started inflating the dinghy with the foot pump.

"Those'll be useful," Bobbie said as she came out in her swimsuit. "Your turn."

She half-hoped Karel would say something in the way of appreciation of her appearance in her swimsuit, but he did not oblige. If she had been watching closely, she might have noticed him catch his breath and swallow before he offered her the pump.

While Karel changed, Bobbie took over inflating the dinghy. When he was changed, they traded turns until the dinghy's frame was tight. While they were inflating the dinghy, they hung their clothes out to finish drying. Then they threw the oars in the dinghy and carried it to the water.

And, for her part, Bobbie did not quite dare voice her appreciation of Karel's appearance, either. Being too frank about certain things might make it a very long three days.

Leaving the dinghy on the sand, they waded into the water. Bobbie bent down and scooped some of the water up. Curious, she tasted it.

"Mmm. Salty."

Karel followed suit. "Tastes okay, other than the salt. Properly filtered and boiled, it would probably be pretty good. Maybe the filter will work for a few pints of water."

The beach sloped gently down into the water and continued more or less at the same slope below the water line for quite a distance. They were only to their knees about a sederteh out. (Sederteh -- sixteen derteh, or about thirty-three yards.)

So they went back and put the dinghy in the water, pulling it to where the water was deep enough to float. Then they got in and rowed out about two sederteh, pushing and probing the bottom with the oars as they went.

"Still not much seaweed. It'll be faster to push it," said Karel, and he climbed out in water that was now to his waist and started to push the dinghy ahead of him. Bobbie continued to paddle on her side.

About four sederteh (about a hundred twenty yards) out, where Karel was up to his chest in the sea, Karel's foot dropped suddenly through the carpet of seaweed, and he slipped under the water, flailing for the dinghy. "Whoa! blub blub blub!"

"You okay?" Bobbie called out to the ripples on the surface, readying to jump in after him. 

Karel put his hand on the sandy bottom and got his feet back under himself so he could stand, shaking the water off as his head broke the surface. "Sudden dropoff here hidden by the seaweed."

"Good thing to know about." Bobbie watched as he dove back underwater to see how deep the dropoff was.

"How is it?" she asked when his head broke the surface again.

"Not bad. About two, maybe three derteh deep beyond the shelf edge (about twelve to eighteen feet). There are lots of fish and seaweed out here. Both look edible. And I'm not seeing any jellyfish or other nasties." (Uikaren -- stinging translucent floaters, jellyfish, for all practical purposes.)

So Bobbie sat on the side of the dinghy, facing in, and sat backwards into the water, and Karel hung onto it while she explored. Then she held the dinghy while he explored some more. After about four gohbu of exploring the shelf and shallows and a little playing in the water, they climbed back in the dinghy and rowed further out in the sea, to get a good look at the island. From maybe nine sederteh (about three hundred yards) out, they could see where the beach curved away from them to the north and to the south.

"The water's really nice." Bobbie said, almost to herself.

"Clean enough to wash the eating utensils in, I'd say."

"How big do you think the island is?"

"If the island is a simple oval, I'd say about seven rhip (a bit more than two miles) across, north to south. Can't tell anything about east to west from here. What do you think?"

"Looks like about ten rhip (about three miles) of beach to me. It'd be fun to live here."

"Lots of adventures, and a lot of hard work, too."

"We're daydreaming. We need to get some dishes cleaned up."

So they brought the dinghy back to the beach, washed the bottom in the surf, and carried it back to the grass.

Bobbie dug the rest of the mess kit out of the emergency supplies. Karel looked at it and said, "You know, we don't have a good place to dry these, yet, so lets just wash the two plates and the food knife for now."

"Aren't you feeling domestic?" Bobbie asked in a mocking voice.

Karel laughed. "Two plates could even wait until just before we eat."

"Should we eat now?" Bobbie asked and looked around. "It's getting close to cee o'clock isn't it? I want to look into the woods a bit before it gets dark." (Cee o'clock. Remember, they count in base sixteen. Csixteen is 12ten and on a 16 hour clock that's early evening, around six-ish.)

"Me, too. The plates can wait a few gohbu."

"Let's get something on our legs before we go wandering through any tall grass."

After changing back, they hung their swimsuits on tent lines and walked into the woods, sighting on the camp as they went.

Karel stopped at a tree with a roundish fruit about five to ten inches in diameter and examined the fruit. He asked Bobbie, "Do you think this might be breadfruit?" (Painko is comparable to our breadfruit, although it does taste a little like cacao when it's really ripe.)

Bobbie looked at the fruit he was indicating and said, "Does the stem break easily? We could take one back and open it up."

Karel picked one, and they kept going. When they lost sight of the camp, Bobbie backed up until she could see the tent, and Karel went further in until he lost sight of her.

"Finding anything?" Bobbie called.

"Not yet. I don't think we've seen any signs of rats or other small animals at all."

"Me neither. Just birds and insects."

"Wait a bunmu." Karel looked closer at a the base of a tree branch. "I thought I saw a muskrat. (Had to think about liito. It's an amphibious rodent, kind of a cross between a squirrel and a muskrat.) "I guess it's hidden itself now." Shortly, he came back.

"About how far in was the muskrat?"

"I'm not sure I really saw one, but it was in a tree about a sederteh in."

Bobbie crept into the woods, following Karel's hand signals. After a half gohbu of searching, she came back.

"No luck?"

"Nah. We'll have to be a bit more quiet."

They walked parallel to the camp for a bit. Then Bobbie went deeper in.

"Here's something that looks like jackfruit. I'll bring one back." (Hariko, although the ripe fruit of some species more than a little resembles a large avocado.)

"Great."

"This one looks like boxfruit." (Pagoka. Not useful for food.)

"Don't take one of those. Maybe we'll check it later."

She bruit the jackfruit back, and they proceeded, parallel to the camp.

"Oh, look at this. It looks like hemp." (Xant -- Other than the basic differences in biochemistry between their world and ours, it was, for all practical purposes, hemp.)

"Rope, paper, ...." Karel thought out loud.

"The seeds are supposed to be edible, too."

It was beginning to get dark, so they returned to camp, laying out the samples they had taken on Karel's trunk. Then they went down to the water and washed their hands.

Coming back, Bobbie opened up the food boxes, which they had set on her trunk in hopes of avoiding attracting insects, and they got out the bread and sausage.

"Nuts," she said.

"What?"

"I just realized we could have brought some seaweed back. We don't have any salad here."

"I'll go back in and get some."

"I'll go with you. Let's take those tin plates and the food knife."

And they took turns in the tent, changing back into their swimsuits again. Then they went down to the water in the twilight, waded in, and washed the plates and knife in the ocean water. Waded further in, they collected some seaweed that they recognized as edible in the light of the slowmoon, washed it to clear off silt and sand, and carried it back to the camp.

Leaving the seaweed on the plates, they changed back into their clothes again and turned their attention to dinner.

"I'm having fun."

"Me, too. Do you want to say the blessing?"

"Sure." They bowed their heads, and Bobbie said, "Heavenly Parent, we are having fun. It's scary, but we are having fun. Thank you for letting us do this, and it was nice of Wycliffe to take us here, in a strange sort of way. We forgive him. We aren't perfectly sure the seaweed is safe, but please bless us that, if it's poisonous, we can tell quickly enough that we can stop eating it before it makes us really sick. And please bless the bread and the sausage and the cheese and the seaweed to our health and strength. And bless Wycliffe, too. We pray in the name of God-Is-Help, amen." And Karel echoed the amen.

After eating, they put the food boxes and the box of emergency supplies in the tent, setting the samples they had taken on the box of emergency supplies. Then they spread the tarp from the dinghy on the ground by the tent and moved the trunks and suitcases around it to form a barrier.

"I could just sleep under the stars, really," said Karel.

"Let's be safe this time. I think you need a roof, too." Bobbie replied, indicating the dinghy.

Karel didn't like this idea. "The corners of the trunks could tear holes in the bottom."

So they moved the trunks beside the tent and leaned the dinghy upside down with its tubes on the trunks, setting the suitcases at the ends as animal barriers. Karel was still not quite satisfied, but it kept the trunk corners away from the fabric of the bottom of the dinghy.

Then they retired for the night.

"I feel like a queen," Bobbie complained jokingly inside the tent.

"That's okay," replied Karel from under the dinghy.

"I could get used to it."

"No, you won't. I know you well enough by now."

Silence. Then, "I mean, I could get used to you being nice to me."

"I wouldn't mind. Really."

More silence.

Karel said, "You know, for two people who sometimes think they are polar opposites, we seem to get along together all right."

"Hah. There's nothing to argue about, here."

"True. I guess we have really good reasons not to argue right now. But we haven't, really, disagreed all that much over the last four months."

"My mom keeps telling me that opposites are supposed to attract. She approves of you."

"She's told me as much. Your dad, too."

"He keeps asking if you are blind or something."

Karel chuckled. "And I think I like your dad, too."

"What do your parents say about me?"

"You know."

"True."

"They keep telling me they don't want to push me one way or the other, but they also keep telling me they really, really like you."

"One of the girls in the dorm asked me why we didn't just get married before we came. She said it would solve so many problems, and, since we had both gone to meet each others' families, it was obviously going to happen anyway."

"The boys on my floor have said similar things."

Again, silence.

"Harvard has invited you to go for a year of teaching and research. And the reports you've sent back from here have been making impressions there."

"And Berkeley has invited you. Your work gets a lot of approval, too, from what the Professor says."

"Can we resolve that?" Karel asked.

"Neither of us has actually made any promises."

"We could find a school that would take us both."

"Or try, and, if we don't, live poor on one salary, the first few years, like most Mormon newlyweds."

"We're serious about this, aren't we?" Karel asked quietly.

"We'll talk more about it in the morning. Excuse me, I'm going to pray and go to sleep. Goodnight."

"'Night."

And both of them did exactly that, repeating in their prayers their requests for help for themselves and for Wycliffe, and adding pleas for help understanding each other and for help understanding which direction their relationship should turn when they were back in civilization again.



Doesn't this sound romantic?

Are they talking about money?

Look carefully. Even though money is not a high priority with these two, economics is a deep undercurrent in their actions and words.

And it's not a bad thing, really, since it clearly takes lower priority than the more important things.


(Wycliffe's Punishment) (Table of Contents) (Next)



[No edit history yet.]



[In the 1st draft.]
[In the 2nd draft.]

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

RFQ4: Ch. 05, A Little Cosmology

Tentative Exploration

[Yet another false start, edit not begun.]

A Little Cosmology

I had thought to avoid this little list of arcane facts, interpretations, opinions, and stream-of-consciousness. But I see that there are some who might be losing patience with all my talk of prayer and God and religious nonsense.

So, I guess I need to tell you something about the world in which this novel takes place.

Karel and Bobbie call it Xhilr.

Well, if you understand "xh" to be a glotal fricative and "lr" to be a pseudo-consonant formed by rolling the sides of the tongue rather than the tip, you might let me get away with writing it that way. To an American ear, it would sound something like a cross between "chill" and "here", but spoken somewhat gutturally.

In their language, the meaning is similar to our "earth", meaning dirt, ground, or the big clot of dirt and mud that people live on.

(Or a large, electrically neutral sink of electrons, in some dialects, although that would preferably be "xhilr zheemn".)

(And in the islands where Bobbie and Karel have been visiting, it is called a word that sounds like "Bokadakr", but I really don't want to try to explain that today.)

When I said it was far away, I certainly didn't mean "far away like Okinawa is far from Florida", and I didn't mean "far away like the Earth is far from Mars". Nor did I mean to indicate a distance like that of our solar system from, say, the triple solar system we call Algol, nor even the distance between our galaxy and the Perseus Cluster cataloged as Abel 426.

On the other hand, as distances between universes go, their universe is rather close to ours, having a cosmological constant, or, rather, a set of quintessential parameters rather similar to ours.

Which has little to do with the fact that both the length of their year and of their day are fairly close to our own, as well. (Close in terms of the relative entropic rate, which is the only meaningful way in which we can compare their time with ours.) The number of similarities after translation is highly coincidental, and rather convenient because you don't want me stopping the narrative every third paragraph or so to describe some detail about the physics of their world.

(Cough.)
God (Zhimu):
The Progenitor(s). An entity or group of entities, demonstrating very high levels of intelligence, which determined the conditions of the beginning of Karel and Bobbie's universe, and thus the physical laws under which their universe operates. Also, the Creator(s). Sometimes spoken of as Nature Itself.
"Zh" should be understood as the soft "j", or the voiced version of the lingual fricative "sh".

We might assume that they were the perfectly evolved occupants of the universe which preceded the one in which Karel and Bobbie live, if "precede" or "perfectly evolved" had any reasonable meaning in such a context.

Trying to distinguish whether this God is singular or plural stretches both Xhilran and human linguistic limits beyond repair. Let's not do that. That kind of discussion gets messy rather quickly. (As with most arguments about the nature of God, it tends to leave reason behind in chasing semantics with too few clues.)

Except, I'll mention that, while they do seem to be a collection of individuals, they are of such unity of purpose that it wouldn't matter which of them any of the children of Xhilr engaged with.

No difference in responses, no difference in answers. None of this god of fortune, god of love, god of fertility, etc. nonsense. Trying, in other words, to choose which to pray to, in order to get the response closest to the response one wants, would be an exercise in self-deceit.

(Not to mention rather unnecessary. These Zhimu want their zhinu children to be happy.)

Okay,
god (zhinu):
sentient entity -- by definition, offspring, or creation/creature of God. In certain senses, implementation of complex mathematical automata. Sometimes referred to as "soul" ("pta-maesh"). If not instantiated in a physical body, often referred to as "spirit" ("hrehi"), or, in a more jocular sense, "ghost" ("iuu-hrehi").
Pronunciation -- "pt" is a combined lingual/labial plosive, "ae" is that vowel somewhere between the "a" in "apple" and the "e" in "bet", and "hr" is an aspirated "r", as French, but more to the front of the tongue.

Maybe we need these, as well:

soul (pta-maesh):
an individual sentient entity, or zhinu. Sometimes synonymous with "spirit", but generally indicating physical instantiation: spirit + body.
spirit (hrehi):
an individual sentient entity, or zhinu, not physically instantiated.
ghost (iuu-hrehi):
generally indicating hrehi in a superstitious mode of expression.

Okay, now we can say this:
prayer (ee-noil):
generally, an attempt by a pta-maesh (zhinu) to communicate with Zhimu, or one of several classes of similar activities. Or may be considered as communion with, or reference to one's conscience. May be as simple as silent thought or meditation, or may involve elaborate ritual.
Now, these definitions are barely sufficient for the current narrative, and definitely should not be reverse-projected onto the words which I am borrowing from our own language for use in this universe.

I mean, I am not expounding a theology useful to you or me. This is a fantasy, after all. I'm just using the closest words I can find.

If you are looking for everyday meaning for the above words, don't look here, look in whatever you consider to be your own scriptures.




Tentative Exploration Table of Contents Next



[No edit history yet.]



[Not in the 1st draft.]
[Not in the 2nd draft.]

[Earlier trashed version RFQ.]

RFQ: Ch. 5, A Little Cosmology

Wycliffe's Sacrifice


A Little Cosmology

I had thought to avoid this little list of arcane facts, interpretations, opinions, and stream-of-consciousness. But I see that there are some who might be losing patience with all my talk of prayer and God and religious nonsense.

So, I guess I need to tell you something about the world in which this novel takes place.

Karel and Bobbie call it Xhilr.

Well, if you understand "xh" to be a glotal fricative and "lr" to be a pseudo-consonant formed by rolling the sides of the tongue rather than the tip, you might let me get away with writing it that way. To an American ear, it would sound something like a cross between "chill" and "here", but spoken somewhat gutturally.

In their language, the meaning is similar to our "earth", meaning dirt, ground, or the big clot of dirt and mud that people live on.

(Or a large, electrically neutral sink of electrons, in some dialects, although that would preferably be "xhilr zheemn".)

(And in the islands where Bobbie and Karel have been visiting, it is called a word that sounds like "Bokadakr", but I really don't want to try to explain that today.)

When I said it was far away, I certainly didn't mean "far away like Okinawa is far from Florida", and I didn't mean "far away like the Earth is far from Mars". Nor did I mean to indicate a distance like that of our solar system from, say, the triple solar system we call Algol, nor even the distance between our galaxy and the Perseus Cluster cataloged as Abel 426.

On the other hand, as distances between universes go, their universe is rather close to ours, having a cosmological constant, or, rather, a set of quintessential parameters rather similar to ours.

Which has little to do with the fact that both the length of their year and of their day are fairly close to our own, as well. (Close in terms of the relative entropic rate, which is the only meaningful way in which we can compare their time with ours.) The number of similarities after translation is highly coincidental, and rather convenient because you don't want me stopping the narrative every third paragraph or so to describe some detail about the physics of their world.

(Cough.)
God (Zhimu):
The Progenitor(s). An entity or group of entities, demonstrating very high levels of intelligence, which determined the conditions of the beginning of Karel and Bobbie's universe, and thus the physical laws under which their universe operates. Also, the Creator(s). Sometimes spoken of as Nature Itself.
"Zh" should be understood as the soft "j", or the voiced version of the lingual fricative "sh".

We might assume that they were the perfectly evolved occupants of the universe which preceded the one in which Karel and Bobbie live, if "precede" or "perfectly evolved" had any reasonable meaning in such a context.

Trying to distinguish whether this God is singular or plural stretches both Xhilran and human linguistic limits beyond repair. Let's not do that. That kind of discussion gets messy rather quickly. (As with most arguments about the nature of God, it tends to leave reason behind in chasing semantics with too few clues.)

Except, I'll mention that, while they do seem to be a collection of individuals, they are of such unity of purpose that it wouldn't matter which of them any of the children of Xhilr engaged with.

No difference in responses, no difference in answers. None of this god of fortune, god of love, god of fertility, etc. nonsense. Trying, in other words, to choose which to pray to, in order to get the response closest to the response one wants, would be an exercise in self-deceit.

(Not to mention rather unnecessary. These Zhimu want their zhinu children to be happy.)

Okay,
god (zhinu):
sentient entity -- by definition, offspring, or creation/creature of God. In certain senses, implementation of complex mathematical automata. Sometimes referred to as "soul" ("pta-maesh"). If not instantiated in a physical body, often referred to as "spirit" ("hrehi"), or, in a more jocular sense, "ghost" ("iuu-hrehi").
Pronunciation -- "pt" is a combined lingual/labial plosive, "ae" is that vowel somewhere between the "a" in "apple" and the "e" in "bet", and "hr" is an aspirated "r", as French, but more to the front of the tongue.

Maybe we need these, as well:

soul (pta-maesh):
an individual sentient entity, or zhinu. Sometimes synonymous with "spirit", but generally indicating physical instantiation: spirit + body.
spirit (hrehi):
an individual sentient entity, or zhinu, not physically instantiated.
ghost (iuu-hrehi):
generally indicating hrehi in a superstitious mode of expression.

Okay, now we can say this:
prayer (ee-noil):
generally, an attempt by a pta-maesh (zhinu) to communicate with Zhimu, or one of several classes of similar activities. Or may be considered as communion with, or reference to one's conscience. May be as simple as silent thought or meditation, or may involve elaborate ritual.
Now, these definitions are barely sufficient for the current narrative, and definitely should not be reverse-projected onto the words which I am borrowing from our own language for use in this universe.

I mean, I am not expounding a theology useful to you or me. This is a fantasy, after all. I'm just using the closest words I can find.

If you are looking for everyday meaning for the above words, don't look here, look in whatever you consider to be your own scriptures.




Wycliffe's Sacrifice Table of Contents Next



[No edit history yet.]



[Not in the 1st draft.]
[Not in the 2nd draft.]
[4th draft Economics 101

RFQ4: Ch. 3, Wycliffe's Punishment

(Priorities Change)

[Yet another false start.]

This won't sound like a discussion of economics, but we should follow Wycliffe for a little while. Economics is about value, and understanding value requires background information.

Besides, to do his penance, Wycliffe is going to become something of a laboratory assistant for us, and we really should get to know him a bit better.



Wycliffe grinned wickedly as he put the island behind him.

"Leave them together all by themselves for three days, and let's just see if they haven't gotten together."

Now he turned his attention to his engine.

In the process of playing with the mixture, he knew he had left a lot of unburned carbon on the spark plugs. So he brought the plane up to cruise speed and gave himself extra altitude and worked a different game on the engine.

First he feathered the engine, to let the plugs cool while the plane glided for a half a gohbu or so. Then he gave the engine spark and let the air on the propellers push the engine back to ignition. With the engine running, he accelerated smoothly to high tach, regaining lost altitude and speed and burning off some of the carbon on the plugs. And he repeated the process, trying to loosen the carbon and burn it off.

But he couldn't risk repeating it too many times.

Wycliffe's cache of fuel was on the island where he had told Zedidiah they had set down to work on the engine. It was an island near the main shipping routes, and was often used as a picnic spot for travelers with extra time. All of the charter pilots in the islands cached fuel and other supplies there, and most of the pilots referred to it as the cache island.

The distance out to the desert island and back to the cache island was dangerously close to the fuel limit for the plane. If he left the plugs as they were, the engine's efficiency would drop and could leave him beyond the limit. He needed all the fuel efficiency he could get, to be sure of making it back safely to his supply of fuel. But he couldn't afford to waste too much fuel burning off the carbon, either.

He briefly considered going back and picking them up, making an excuse or even apologizing, and then suggesting they take an alternate route where he could refuel. He could let the engine cool on the desert island and manually clean the plugs while Bobbie and Karel explored, and then they could fly to an island where he could borrow enough fuel from a friend to get to the cache island. And they could take it slow, to improve fuel efficiency.

His grin softened to a smile as he thought of the food he'd left with them. He'd packed some extra candles for a little mood, as well as for light. Then he frowned as a thought that had been nagging him forced its way to the surface.

"No salad. I forgot to pack greens and other vegetables in their food box. Shoot. Another reason to go back and get them now."

It had cost him as much as his share of the profits from the the trip to set them up with food and to secure the extra fuel. But he thought it would be worth it.

Having been jilted by the woman he had thought was the love of his life, he had some hangups about romantic relationships.

He'd been watching Karel and Bobbie for the last four months, and thinking of the woman who had left him. Sure, he had made a casual bet with Zedidiah, but it wasn't really the bet that concerned him. It hadn't been a serious bet, anyway, no money involved, just the deep wish to be see someone achieve the happiness he thought he had missed.

They already had something he had never had with Tessa. They trusted each other. They worked well together.

Bobbie and Karel had referred to not wanting to have arguments at home, but Wycliffe had never seen them argue at all. He had heard gossip, but all the gossip was shock and surprise that they were not married, and yet not lovers. Gossip of arguments were just as missing as gossip about midnight trysts.

And he could tell they liked each other. There was nothing awkward or forced between them.

They must have been planning the research project for at least a year before they came, and he couldn't imagine why they would have kept running away from each other for so long. Being a former E-P-ist himself, he thought he understood about eternity, too. Denying each other the happiness he had never been able to obtain was just a crime.

After repeating the burn-off process four times, he brought the engine back to a high cruise speed, and the engine's rhythm was feeling good. So he radioed Zedidiah and told him the same story he was planning to tell their professor -- that, having set down on the cache island to look at the engine, they had decided they wanted to take a few days' vacation. And they had enough food in the emergency kit. And he forestalled Zedidiah's questions about the flight noises, the engine and the wind, by saying he was doing a little more flight testing.

He figured he could straighten out the details later, when Bobbie and Karel were safely together at last.

After he signed out, he set the engine speed a little fast to get to the cache island as quick as he dared, set the autopilot, set his alarm, and took a nap.



When the alarm woke him up a chippu later, he found that a strong crosswind had been blowing steadily for some time, and had blown him significantly off course. He corrected course and got the plane pointed back towards his cache island. But now the wind had shifted more, and he was pushing into a headwind.

Feeling a tightness in his throat, he cut his engine speed back to its most efficient and hoped that the headwind would ease, and that he had cleared the plugs well enough.



With a little more than a half chippu remaining to the cache island, he was watching the fuel gauge rather anxiously. The trip really had been too close to the edge of the plane's fuel range.

In reasonably good conditions, it probably would have been safe enough. But he apparently hadn't been able to get the plugs completely cleared. Combined with the extra distance from being off course and the headwind he hadn't accounted for, he was in danger of running out of fuel.

Rushing the return trip had also been a mistake.

He tried again to raise Zedidiah on the radio, but for some reason he wasn't getting any answer. I'm not sure why he had not thought to divert to one of the two islands near his path that he would have had a better chance of reaching.

Then the engine's rhythm became a bit too smooth, and he knew he was running on fumes.

Actually, engines don't run on fumes. The last few dertzumt of fuel remaining in the fuel lines is not enough to maintain fuel pressure, and engine noise drops as power output drops. Saying "running on fumes" evokes the feeling of the engine's reduced output as it uses the last of the fuel.

A dertzum is a measure of mass, about six and a half grams. Or, at 28.3 grams per ounce, a little less than a quarter ounce.

When the engine lost power completely, he feathered it, letting the blades turn free to reduce drag. He trimmed flaps and ailerons for all the distance he could get in the last glide and wished for the island to appear on the horizon.

He tried the radio one last time. No answer. So he focused on maintaining his glide for as long as possible and thought about the danger he had put Karel and Bobbie in. It finally occurred to him that making the decision without asking them was, in fact, kidnapping, and might possibly end up contributing to rape.

At about three derteh (about twenty feet) above the water, with no island in sight, he pulled the nose up a bit to slow down before contact. He considered putting the landing gear down for drag, but instead concentrated on getting into the water smoothly. (A derteh is about three inches more than two yards.)

The belly of the plane dipped in the water and left a wake behind as the water slowed the plane. He had managed to keep the nose from dipping down, keeping the plane from tumbling.

Now he was thinking about the dinghy he had left for them to maybe take a joyride in. It would not be enough to get them to to an inhabited island, and that fact worried him. As the plane slowed to rest and started to sink, he opened the door and jumped out and swam away from it.

He put the plane behind him and marked the sun, thinking that would be the best way to target the island that should be up ahead. Then he stripped to his undershorts, and started swimming with a conservative side stroke.

Why did he forget all his emergency training here? Although, the weather being spring and the climate temperate, reducing drag was probably more important than maintaining warmth. Also, inflating his trousers to use as a substitute life vest and hoping to find driftwood was another option he didn't seem to consider.

He did keep an eye out for driftwood, but none was to be found.

If he could make the island, there would be supplies, and he would have a chance to contact someone to send after Karel and Bobbie. He'd probably do jail time, but at this point getting them back safely was his first goal.

After the plane sank, he kept track of direction by the sun and the far moon. The sun was low in the sky, so he kept it where it had been when he put the plane in the water, just to his left and a little ahead, and kept swimming, shifting from one side, then to his back, and then to the other side regularly, to conserve his strength.

While he swam, he worked out the distance in his head. Even with the most hopeful estimates, he was looking at swimming more than Esixteen (fourteen) chippu. But he had no choice.

Finally, he started to pray.

"My Great and Eternal Parent, I hope you're out there. It's been a while since I talked to you last."

Stroke, stroke, conserve energy.

"I've done some bad things. But this time I've really screwed up. Without help, I'm going to die before I can tell anyone where Karel and Bobbie are. I thought I was doing something good for them, but I was wrong."

Breathe even, stroke easy.

"It's my fault that they're in danger, but if I don't get back, who will find them? I was wrong to think I could make them be happy. Now they might die. Please help me make it to the cache."

Face the sky, mouth out of water, stroke, breathe, rest.

When the sun set, he tracked his course by the far moon and found some stars to keep his bearings y when the far moon set. A little after midnight the near moon rose, and still he kept swimming and praying.

As the sun rose, he was wishing he had somehow kept a life-preserver vest from the emergency supplies. He wouldn't have been able to swim very well, but maybe he could have been found by a boat or plane within a few days instead. The sky started getting light again, and he checked his bearings and kept swimming.

About noon, he started losing strength. Thoughts of Bobbie and Karel kept him swimming for maybe a chippu longer. Then he just lost consciousness.

Light faded to dark under the blazing sun, and then all was black.


(Priorities Change) (Table of Contents) (Next)



[Extracted and revised from the 3rd draft, here 20170622.] 



[In the 1st draft.]
[In the 2nd draft.]

[Earlier trashed version RFQ.]]

RFQ: Ch. 4, Wycliffe's Sacrifice

(Yet another false start:)
Priorities Change


Wycliffe's Sacrifice


This won't sound like a discussion of economics, but we should follow Wycliffe for a little while. Economics is about value, and understanding value requires background information.

Besides, Wycliffe is going to become something of a laboratory assistant for us, and we really should get to know him a bit better.



Wycliffe grinned wickedly as he put the island behind him.

"Leave them together all by themselves for three days, and let's just see if they haven't gotten together."

Now he turned his attention to his engine.

In the process of playing with the mixture, he knew he had left a lot of unburned carbon on the spark plugs. So he brought the plane up to cruise speed and gave himself extra altitude and worked a different game on the engine.

First he feathered the engine, to let the plugs cool while the plane glided for a few minutes. Then he gave the engine spark and let the air on the propellers push the engine back to ignition, then accelerated smoothly to high RPM, regaining lost altitude and speed and burning off some of the carbon on the plugs.

Wycliffe's cache of fuel was on the island where he had told Zedidiah they had set down to work on the engine. It was an island near the main shipping routes, and was often used as a picnic spot for travelers with extra time. Several of the charter pilots in the islands cached fuel and other supplies there, and most of the pilots referred to it as the cache island.
The distance out to the desert island and back to the cache island was dangerously close to the fuel limit for the plane. If he left the plugs as they were, the engine's efficiency would drop and could leave him beyond the limit. He needed all the fuel efficiency he could get, to be sure of making it back safely to his supply of fuel.

He briefly considered going back and picking them up, and then suggesting they take an alternate route where he could refuel. He could let the engine cool on the desert island and manually clean the plugs while Bobbie and Karel explored, and then they could fly to an island where he could borrow enough fuel from a friend to get to the cache island. And they could take it slow, to improve fuel efficiency.

His grin softened to a smile as he thought of the food he'd left with them. He'd packed some extra candles for a little mood, as well as for light. Then he frowned as a thought that had been nagging him forced its way to the surface.

"No salad. I forgot to pack greens and other vegetables in their food box. Shoot. Another reason to go back and get them now."

It had cost him as much as his share of the profits from the the trip to set them up with food and to secure the extra fuel. But he thought it would be worth it.

Having been jilted by the woman he had thought was the love of his life, he had some hangups about romantic relationships.

He'd been watching Karel and Bobbie for the last four months, and thinking of the woman who had left him. Sure, he had made a casual bet with Zedidiah, but it wasn't really the bet that concerned him. It hadn't been a serious bet, anyway, no money involved, just the deep wish to be see someone achieve the happiness he thought he had missed.

They already had something he had never had with Tessa. They trusted each other. They worked well together.

Bobbie and Karel had referred to not wanting to have arguments at home, but Wycliffe had never seen them argue at all. He had heard gossip, but all the gossip was shock and surprise that they were not lovers. Gossip of arguments were just as missing as gossip about midnight trysts.

And he could tell they liked each other. There was nothing awkward or forced between them.

They must have been planning the research project for at least a year before they came, and he couldn't imagine why they would have kept running away from each other for so long. Being a former E-P-ist himself, he thought he understood about eternity, too. Denying each other the happiness he had never been able to obtain was just a crime.

After a few minutes of running the engine at high tach to heat the plugs and burn off the carbon, he brought the engine back to a high cruise speed, and the engine's rhythm was feeling good. So he radioed Zedidiah and told him the same story he was planning to tell their professor -- that, having set down on the cache island to look at the engine, they had decided they wanted to take a few days' vacation. And they had enough food in the emergency kit.

He figured he could straighten out the details later, when Bobbie and Karel were safely together at last.

Then he set the autopilot, set his alarm, and took a nap.



When the alarm woke him up an hour and a half later, he found that a strong crosswind had been blowing steadily for some time, and had blown him significantly off course. He corrected course and got the plane pointed back towards his cache island. But now the wind had shifted more, and he was pushing into a headwind.

Feeling a tightness in his throat, he cut his engine speed back to its most efficient and hoped that the headwind would ease, and that he had cleared the plugs well enough.



With less than an hour remaining to the cache island, he was watching the fuel gauge rather anxiously. The trip really had been too close to the edge of the plane's fuel range.

In reasonably good conditions, it probably would have been safe enough. But he apparently hadn't been able to get the plugs completely cleared. Combined with the extra distance from being off course, and the headwind he hadn't accounted for, he was in danger of running out of fuel.

Rushing the return trip at first had also been a mistake.

He tried to raise Zedidiah again on the radio, but for some reason he wasn't getting any answer.

Then the engine's rhythm became a bit too smooth, and he knew he was running on fumes.

Actually, engines don't run on fumes. The last few ounces of fuel remaining in the fuel lines is not enough to maintain fuel pressure, and engine noise drops as power output drops. Saying "running on fumes" evokes the feeling of the engine's reduced output as it uses the last of the fuel.

When the engine lost power completely, he feathered it, letting the blades turn free to reduce drag. He trimmed flaps and ailerons for all the distance he could get in the last glide and wished for the island to appear on the horizon.

He tried the radio one last time. No answer. So he focused on maintaining his glide for as long as possible and thought about the danger he had put Karel and Bobbie in. It finally occurred to him that making the decision without asking them was, in fact, kidnapping, and might possibly end up contributing to rape.

At twenty feet above the water and no island in sight, he pulled the nose up a bit to slow down before contact. He considered putting the landing gear down for drag, but instead concentrated on getting into the water smoothly.

The belly of the plane dipped in the water and left a wake behind as the water slowed the plane. He had managed to keep the nose from dipping down, keeping the plane from tumbling.

Now he was thinking about the dinghy he had left for them to maybe take a joyride in. It would not be enough to get them to to an inhabited island, and that fact worried him. As the plane slowed down and started to sink, he opened the door and jumped out and swam away from it.

He put the plane behind him, thinking that would be the best way to target the island that should be up ahead, removed most of his clothes, and started swimming with a conservative side stroke.

(Why did he forget all his emergency training here?)

If he could make the island, there would be supplies, and he would have a chance to contact someone to send after Karel and Bobbie. He'd probably do jail time, but at this point getting them back safely was his first goal.

After the plane sank, he kept track of direction by the sun. It was low in the sky, so he kept it where it had been when he put the plane in the water, just to his left and ahead of him, and kept swimming, shifting from one side, then to his back, and then to the other side regularly, to conserve his strength.

While he swam, he worked out the distance in his head. Even with the most hopeful estimates, he was looking at swimming more than twenty hours. But he had no choice.

Finally, he started to pray.

"God, I hope you're out there. It's been a while since I talked to you last."

Stroke, stroke, conserving his energy.

"I've done some bad things. But this time I've really screwed up. Without help, I'm going to die before I can tell anyone where Karel and Bobbie are. I thought I was doing something good for them, but I was wrong."

Breathe even, stroke easy.

"It's my fault that they're in danger, but if I don't get back, who will find them? Please help me make it to the cache."

Face the sky, mouth out of water, stroke, breathe, rest.

When the sun set, he started looking for stars to get his bearings. It took about a half hour for him to find the stars he was looking for, but he did, and he kept swimming and praying.

After about ten hours, he was wishing he had somehow kept a life-preserver vest from the emergency supplies. He wouldn't have been able to swim very well, but maybe he could have been found by a boat or plane within a few days instead. The sky started getting light again, and he checked the sun's position and kept swimming.

About noon, he started losing strength. Thoughts of Bobbie and Karel kept him swimming for maybe an hour longer. Then he just lost consciousness.

Light graying to dark.

Complete blackness.





Priorities Change Table of Contents Next



[No edit history yet.]



[In the 1st draft.]
[In the 2nd draft.]
[4th draft Economics 101

Monday, May 1, 2017

RFQ4: Ch. 2, Priorities Begin to Change

(Framing Story)

[Yetr another false start.]

Now that we have the framing story for this simplified economic system, we can perform the first thought experiment.

You may note that this is not the simplest economic system we could, ideally, describe. Part of the reason for that is that we already think we know too much about the subject.

Part of what makes physics difficult is what happens when we describe (for example) a cannonball and a feather interacting with the earth in a vacuum to children who haven't really ever picked up a cannonball, much less properly experienced a vacuum.

Most children have played with marbles and balls and feathers. And their intuition will usually betray them.

Playing with planets as physics toys requires a bit of preparation. Simple is often not simple without preparation.

A proper Adam and Eve story also requires laying too much groundwork -- and there's too much of the models that I would have to explain explicitly if I were to just start off telling you about the Adam and Eve of Karel and Bobbie's world. (And that is also an interesting story.)
Even the uninhabited island location is a bit outside the ordinary experience, but it's much more within reach, I think than beginning with the first parents of a race when their world is new. On the other hand, even if we've never been to a desert island, we've heard something about such things, and I can tell you more about their island, and about their modern world, as we go.

I thought, by the way, of stranding Wycliffe on a different desert island, for his experience going one-on-one with nature and God. That would definitely be a simple system. But it would distract us. And he needs to have a bit more direct interaction with God than that, for our experiment to proceed.

God. And I've been talking about prayer, too. Maybe that worries you. I will be talking about both. But maybe you are an atheist. Or, maybe you don't think you can believe in my God.

Rubbish.

Well, maybe not rubbish.

But bear with me a bit, and I think I can show you that I am not trying to sell you my gods, at any rate. Religion and cosmology is generally a part of most value systems, and economics is impossible without value, so we can't really avoid talking about the stuff.
Let's not fuss about it. I'll try to keep the religious elements of the story out where you can see them.

Karel and Bobbie are waiting for us in the lab.



"Where is Wycliffe going?" Bobbie asked, half to herself.

Both of them said a quiet prayer in their hearts as they watched the airplane disappear over the horizon.

After a bunmu or so, Karel shrugged. "I suppose he needs to do more prolonged tests on the engine. I hope that's what he's doing. Or maybe he's going back to civilization for parts or something. Maybe we should pray for him."

"And us. I'll say it."

Karel nodded his agreement.

"Our Great Parent, we're here on this island, we're safe for now. We don't know what Wycliffe is doing or where he is going, but please bless us and him and the plane, and bring him back quickly, and help us get home safely." And she invoked the name of their savior and they both said, "Amen".

They looked around themselves at the island as a few bunmu passed. They could see the beach stretching fairly straight away from them, and the sea seemed smooth enough. Inland, the land sloped up gently for a ways, with a small mountain off in the distance. The near moon glowed pale maroon above them near the yellow sun, and out over the sea the far moon hung, silver-yellow, rising over the horizon.

"How long do you think it'll take?" Bobbie leaned back on one of the trunks.

"How should we know?"

A few more bunmu passed without conversation.

"What time is it now?"

Karel looked at his watch. "Eight twenhex-six."

Sixteen hours in a day, so eight o'clock is noon. If twenty is two times ten, twenhex is two times sixteen. Thirty-two and six is thirty-eight, so that's thirty-eight bunmu past noon. (We would  call it about 12:12, but for them it is 8:26.)

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

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

"And?"

"It's hard to tell what strange might mean for him." He laughed. "The island natives are a little easier for me to read."

"I think he was acting a little strange."

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

"No, I'm okay. But I'm thinking maybe we should move our stuff up the beach a bit. The tide line seems a little close here."

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

Bobbie drew her knees up under her chin and thought.

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."

"True."

Karel picked up a thin, straight stick of driftwood and drove it into the sand upright. Bobbie watched him check his watch and the position of the shadow, then they both looked again across the water at the hinter moon.

"Yep. That's east," Bobbie confirmed wryly. "I do hope we're not here long enough for you to make an accurate astronomical compass." She grinned, and Karel chuckled in response.



Hinter moon? Nether moon?

Xhilr has two moons. The far moon's orbital period is roughly twenty-eight and seven eighths Xhilr days, and the near one's is about seven and one eighth days. They are also called Slowmoon and Fastmoon. Bobbie calls Slowmoon the hinter (distant) moon and Fastmoon the nether (low) moon.

Xhilr is what they call their planet. It means, in their language, roughly, "big clot of dirt". It's also an electrical term meaning a large charge sink of relatively neutral electrical potential. "Xhilr" is very much a cognate of the modern English "Earth". I could have translated it as "Earth", but I think that would have caused confusion more than not.

East? Well, that's the compass direction in which the sun and the moons and stars all rise in the sky. They use four primary compass points, just like we do, so translating them to English should cause no confusion. Xhilr is in prograde revolution around their sun, and prograde rotation, just like our Earth, so their compass hides no real surprises for us.



They started walking north, along the beach, first. After walking about a gohbu, 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 could make the time. We could put off our return a day or two. I need to go back to the main island for some things, but then we could have them fly us back out here to explore."

"Sounds fun. Maybe so. I think I have the budget left."

"Me, too."

"Wycliffe would approve, Zedidiah, too, probably. So would Professor MacVittie and our parents. Heh." Karel grinned.

Bobbie smiled at the thought. "Let's head inland a bit."

"Sounds good."

After about couple or three bunmu (about a minute) of walking, the beach's level had risen five feet or so, and the sand began to be covered with grasses tinged in indigo, violet, and crimson. Another few bunmu brought them into low shrub and high grass, and in a few more they were into thick, wild green woods.

Karel looked back and said, "We could lose track of the stuff if we go further."

"I think I do want to come back here to explore." replied Bobbie, and they turned back and walked south, keeping just outside the tree line. Passing the luggage on their left, they continued for another gohbu (five and a half minutes).

"Still heading slightly east. I don't think we've been walking a full rhip per gohbu." (That would be a pace of about 96 yards a minute.)

"We're not walking that slow. You always walk a little fast anyway."

"How fast do you think we've been walking?"

Bobbie laughed. "You're already trying to guess how big this island is, aren't you?"

"Yeah." Karel grinned sheepishly.

"We haven't walked less than one rhip."

"And we haven't walked more than two. That's actually a useful estimate, one and a half rhipt."

"But what can we tell from that?"

"The beach doesn't curve much here, but we can see it curve a bit further than we've walked. If the island is round, the circumference is at least four and a half rhipt."

"And now you're going to tell me it's at least a rhip and a half across." Bobbie slapped Karel lightly on the arm, laughing.

(If you're wondering, a rhip and a half would be about three quarters of a kilometer, or a bit more than three fifths of a mile.)

Karel laughed, too. "Let's save this for when we come back."

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

"Yeah. We can let him think he persuaded us to have an adventure."

"We could ask him to be our chaperon."

Both of them were still chuckling.

"He'd be an interesting chaperon."

They walked down to the water and both of them took their shoes and socks off and waded around a little. Bobbie kicked a bit of water at Karel, getting his clothes wet, and they laughed.

"Really nice water."

"Beautiful, clear blue. Definitely going swimming when we come back here."

"I'm going swimming now." Bobbie waded in up to her waist.

"I don't think it's a good idea." Karel followed her and then walked a little ahead, checking the water.

Now Bobbie followed, watching him with a sudden change of interest. Without warning, she left her shoes in the water and sprang for his back.

Karel heard the water slosh and turned just in time to catch her, almost losing his balance.

Fires which had been carefully banked for the last four months flared as they looked deeply each into the other's eyes.



I haven't yet told you that it was mid-spring, nor have I mentioned that a year on Xhilr is a little more than twelve months. They had traveled to the islands about a week after the year began at winter solstice, and those four months had brought them into spring. (Twelve seems more than a coincidence, I suppose. Well, to be more exact, it's a little over twelve and a fifth months: 352 485/686 days.)



And Karel said, in a husky voice, "I've dropped my shoes, too. I think we should chase them before they get washed out to sea."

Bobbie pouted, then sighed and looked around. Her shoes were not moving away rapidly, but they were moving away.

While her head was turned, Karel kissed her ear, but then let her slip back into the water so they could chase their shoes, which they did, laughing and joking.

Carrying their shoes, they followed the water line back to below where the luggage was sitting in the sand.

"Is it almost aye o'clock?"




Ten o'clock, on a sixteen-chippu clock is two chippu past noon -- basically 15:00 on a 24-hour clock, or three in the afternoon. And they use hexadecimal, as I said, so it's A:00 -- as we write hexadecimal, anyway. So, "aye o'clock" is mid-afternoon.





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

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

"Sure. And I'd appreciate it if you helped me with mine. I'm not quite into proving I'm Atlas today." (Well, okay, not Atlas. That's mythology from our world. You wouldn't be familiar with Seoyezhimu, but he was supposed to be carrying the world on his back according to some of their old myths.)

"Hah."

They set their shoes and socks down on the beach to dry.

Bobbie shivered. "I'm getting a little chilled. Maybe going swimming in our clothes wasn't such a good idea."

Karel put his arm around her waste, and she leaned against him, drawing a little warmth. After a bunmu or two, he said, "Moving the luggage will warm us up a little."

Moving the luggage occupied two or three gohbu. They had a trunk and a suitcase each, and there was Bobbie's purse, and Karel's shoulder bag, and a backpack each, along with some small personal stuff of Bobbie's wrapped in a scarf.

"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 also baggage from the plane itself -- a box of emergency supplies, and the tools, and the rubber dinghy and the tent each in its own canvas carrying bag.

"Are you still feeling chilly? I could set up the tent and you could change inside."

"I'm warm and my clothes are pretty dry now. How about you?"

"I'm okay."

And they found 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. "There seems to be a tag on this one."

Bobbie picked up the other, and they carried the boxes to the grass and set them down near the other baggage. Karel looked at the tag, but what he had thought was a tag was an envelope. "Oh, for, ... It says, to us."

"Huh?" Bobbie took the envelope and read it. "To Bobbie and Karel." The envelope was not sealed, and inside was a card with a heart and a Cupid's arrow drawn on it. (Cupid. Ayizhimu -- similar story about arrows that made people fall in love.)

"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.

They each thought their own thoughts for a minute or two.

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

"I have mixed feelings about this! Flying out from the main island early in the day, with time for a little hiking and a picnic, and flying back after a day trip, that would have been a fun vacation."

"Mmmhhmm. Yeah. Fun."

"We might even have had Wycliffe or Zedidiah join us while we camped out for a night. But this is not going to make our bishops happy."

"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. Then Bobbie laughed. "Yes, bless him. I think we should pray."

"Indeed." Karel shook his head as he got down on his knees. "I'll go first?"

Bobbie also knelt down. "Please. It'll give me some time to calm down."

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 him and Bobbie, 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:

"... Our Great Parent, we don't know what the future will bring, but please, keep us from doing anything that would offend our future companions or prevent us from being married in the temple. ...."

And Karel concurred with an equally heartfelt amen.



Temples and marriage?

A temple in the E-P religion is a place where special instruction is given and special ceremonies take place. Marriage is one of those ceremonies. E-P-ists claim that they can perform marriages in their temples which extend after death, forever.

But individuals and couples wishing to enter into those covenants are asked to maintain a certain moral decorum that Wycliffe had not considered carefully enough when he made his plans for his little practical joke.

I think, had he stopped to think about it, he would have taken Zedidiah's advice to heart and just brought them back to the airport on the main island.



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 nodded, she'd felt the same impression.

Karel again prayed. "Our Blessed Parent, if Wycliffe is in danger please protect him. And we do hope that he will be able to return in three days, as he promised."

Bobbie added, "We'd rather it were sooner, if he could change his mind, but please at least bring him back by then."
We want you two 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 looked at each other and repeated together what they had each felt, watching each other's eyes as the words matched exactly.

Then they prayed together for their friends and family, and then for Wycliffe's, as they began to understand the range of the possible meanings of the impressions they had received.



I said I wouldn't pull any punches, so I'd better explain something at this point.

In the universe where Bobbie and Karel live exists an ancient and very advanced race, as it were on a different plane. That ancient race has a custom of populating the planets of that universe with a variety of creatures. Some planets include a population of a race of intelligent bipedal creatures in the same pattern as humans.

"Humans!" you protest. "Monkeys! Why not intelligent lizards?"

If you carefully examine the anatomy and genetics of most of the animals in this world, you see that there are common patterns. You have heard the jest that there is a stage of the early human foetus when it is difficult to tell the human foetus from that of many mammals, and even many amphibians, perhaps?

The pattern is a common and flexible one, and very utilitarian. I would propose that, had humans descended from cats, or even from lizards, not much would be different about our external physiology.

Maybe. Maybe not.

But the form factor is a good one for certain needs. We must expect that it will be reused.

We must also expect that, should a race such as ours become sufficiently advanced, they will conquer death, disease such as we know of, hunger, wars, and all other ills. We should not be surprised if they advance a bit beyond the bodies such as we have, perhaps changing them for bodies that are made of something that the grosser body can't directly sense or measure.

And we should expect that they would become bored with such an eternity of no problems.

Thus, we should expect that they should become a progenitor race, a parent race. What else could they do to make things interesting?

Would it surprise us that they might stick around to make sure their children don't do too much damage to themselves or each other?

Would it surprise us that there might be circuitry, as it were, in our brains and in our intangible parts, to enable temporary connection between this plane and that?

If such a connection to the transcendent plane existed, would it be of a form that would not be called prayer?

Maybe?

Anyway, such is the universe of this fantasy.



When they felt they had prayed sufficiently, they decided they should follow the impressions they had received to prepare.

Karel dug into 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. Candles. 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."

"Four?"

"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 and twine. A hand shovel, an axe, a good knife and a medium survival saw. It looks like a good scout packed this, or someone who knows what one needs in the wilderness. We'll be okay for a while." And he put the supplies back carefully.



Was that Scout? No, scout. Either way, really.

They had something like Boy Scouts, too. It's a useful nomenclature for one useful approach to education in a broader sense than formal schools can deliver.



"No salad," Bobbie said a little regretfully as she 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. "I think I saw some good seaweed while we were playing in the water. Let's eat the sandwiches we brought for the flight, so they don't spoil, and then we'll start exploring for real. We'll set the tent up before it starts getting dark." He paused. "Bobbie?"

She looked up. "What?"

"Where I was reading in The Holy Book on the plane this morning. Book of Watza."

Of course it was not the Book of Job in the Bible of our world. But it was an account of one of the holy men of The Holy Book of their world, whose life was taken as a parable of patience. And it had verses like the one Karel quoted, which you will think you recognize from Job:
"You've let this man gain a lot of wealth. He's living the good life. That's why he's being such a good person. If you reach out and take away all the good stuff that you've let him get, he'll start behaving and talking badly enough pretty quickly. Just try it and see."
And the Parent gave the deceiver permission to test Watza. But, Sota said, you may touch only the material wealth. You may not harm his health or his family.
Bobbie nodded. "That's in the first chapter. God doesn't hate us, Sota just figures Sota can let us be tested." ("Sota" is the third person non-gender-specific pronoun. "Xota" is 3rd person masculine elevated, "Shota" is feminine of the same, and "Sota" is non-gender-specific.)

"I reckon so."



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

Also, let's think about what Wycliffe thinks he has exchanged with Bobbie and Karel, and to what purpose.

And we can think about the ways in which Bobbie and Karel must have been cooperating and sharing, and what it is that allows them to continue to do so.

If I tell that story in full here, it will distract us, so let's save that for another time. But we can think about what it might be that will allow them to do the unusual things they will do together on the island.

Note how their ideas and priorities were in agreement when they prayed, and how that sense of unity allowed them to hear the answers they got.

Oh. If I am not trying to sell you my religion, I am definitely not trying to convert you to Bobbie and Karel's. Praying to "Your Parent" is probably not called for. And if you go around exclaiming, "Oh! My! Parent!" people will glance askance at you. If I am in range of hearing, I will, too.


(Framing Story) (Table of Contents) (Next)



[Extracted and revised from the 3rd draft, here, 20170621.]  



[In the 1st draft.]
[In the 2nd draft.]

[Earlier trashed version RFQ3.]