Saturday, December 24, 2011

Progress, now vs. 2010 and the year 1800

It is fun to read past generations moaning about general decline.  In college it was interesting to read about all the technological advances that occurred in the "Dark Ages."

For perspective, an except from an essay (read it in full at

  1. Worldwide living conditions. There is widespread concern that our global economy, while lifting up some, has condemned hundreds of millions of others to extreme poverty, particularly in light of the current worldwide economic recession. But according to the latest U.N. report (2010), its Human Development Index rose in all but three nations (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe) from 1970 to 2010. For example, worldwide average income per capita in 2010 was $10,760, which is twice the inflation-adjusted level in 1970. Over this 40-year period, income per capita rose in all but six nations worldwide, with increases averaging 184% in developing countries and 126% in developed countries [UN2010].
Imagine a better-off-than-average family somewhere in Western Europe or Eastern North America in 1800 [Ridley2010, pg. 13]:
The family is gathering around the hearth in the simple timber-framed house. Father reads aloud from the Bible while mother prepares to dish out a stew of beef and onions. The baby boy is being comforted by one of his sisters and the eldest lad is pouring water from a pitcher into the earthenware mugs on the table. His elder sister is feeding the horse in the stable. Outside there is no noise of traffic, there are no drug dealers and neither dioxins nor radioactive fall-out have been found in the cow’s milk. All is tranquil; a bird sings outside the window.
Oh please! Though this is one of the better-off families in the village, father’s Scripture reading is interrupted by a bronchitic cough that presages the pneumonia that will kill him at 53 — not helped by the wood smoke of the fire. (He is lucky: life expectancy even in England was less than 40 in 1800.) The baby will die of the smallpox that is now causing him to cry; his sister will soon be the chattel of a drunken husband. The water the son is pouring tastes of the cows that drink from the brook. Toothache tortures the mother. The neighbour’s lodger is getting the other girl pregnant in the hayshed even now and her child will be sent to an orphanage. The stew is grey and gristly yet meat is a rare change from gruel; there is no fruit or salad at this season. It is eaten with a wooden spoon from a wooden bowl. Candles cost too much, so firelight is all there is to see by. Nobody in the family has ever seen a play, painted a picture or heard a piano. School is a few years of dull Latin taught by a bigoted martinet at the vicarage. Father visited the city once, but the travel cost him a week’s wages and the others have never travelled more than fifteen miles from home. Each daughter owns two wool dresses, two linen shirts and one pair of shoes. Father’s jacket cost him a month’s wages but is now infested with lice. The children sleep two to a bed on straw mattresses on the floor. As for the bird outside the window, tomorrow it will be trapped and eaten by the boy.

Looking at industry money flows

Many times people do not understand how the money flows or where the costs are in an industry. Sometimes even those who work in it have no idea. is a good example of someone explaining the way the money flows in a huge industry (the music industry) that many in the industry do not understand or appreciate.

Just to start (quoting from the article):
The artist will usually get a royalty of anywhere from 5% at the low end to 15-25% at the high end of the Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail List Price (the retail price) as a gross royalty but that royalty is almost always illusory.
The company will generally deduct for “packaging” (remember “packaging?” that is, when albums came with covers and liner notes?). The artist should of course negotiate not to have such a deduction for digital downloads since there is no “packaging” in such formats. The company will also deduct an amount, currently somewhere around 15% for pretty much nothing at all but which historically was an amount allocated to “breakage” (remember when there were actual records that could break?).
Now the 85% basis for royalty calculations has simply become part of the royalty structure and there is no rhyme or reason to explain it. In fact, it used to be 90% as the standard but could, in the right instance, be negotiated to 100%. Needless to say, this is negotiable as well. There are often many other deductions and reductions in the above royalty rate for foreign, mid-price, budget price as well as different rates for foreign sales.
Additionally, the artist gets a share of the licensing income (read “Is It A Sale or A License?” ). If the recording is used in a commercial, movie, television show or the like, the company negotiates a “master use” license with the user and collects the money and pays the artist’s share to the artist, which if properly negotiated, should not less than 50% of the gross and sometime much higher than that. And it is not just the rate that is important; it is the basis upon which the rate is calculated which is even more important.
Read the rest of it. Now, look for that same informatin in your industry.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A series of essays, written with courage

This is the third in a 3-Part series that discusses the Dispute Resolution teaching profession. This section focuses on the "repeat" clients of students; and how to take care of them after they have finished the course.
Alternative Dispute Resolution is easy to teach, easy to sell to students and very hard to turn into a skill that allows someone who has had training to:

(a)  find employment in; and,
(b)  be competent at.

As a result many programs resemble strip mining operations, bringing in students, taking their money, and depositing them on the other side as detritus, without any use but to be part of the growing slag heap of those talked out of their money, time and hope.

Very few programs honor the Ethical Duties of Mediation Trainers in the Promotion of Training Programs.

I remain very curious to see where honest examination of the profession of teaching takes ADR.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sixus1 and Cthulhu

Gee, this guy's material is everywhere.  Which is why it can be hard to find.

But:  has the heart of the Cthulhu mythos (remember, five inventory pages at least at that location), more (and different) here: and the new material he is working on.

Been a while since I visited.  My rendering days are probably behind me, but if you have an interest, not a bad place to start looking.  Not to mention, he had hundreds of lower resolution models and material he never released.

And pages of freebies at

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Short story clip, with politics

Does anyone understand the elections going on? I just saw something about a “caps lock key” and how that mean the current president had to go. Ariel, you are from here, what is going on? Indigo, you understand politics, please? Wolf? 

Uh, err, so Michael, what is it like to be a prince, but to know you earned it through your own merit alone?

What? That’s not the case. It was not my merit alone.

But the princes of the Elachi are selected by merit, aren’t they? Not like things were when I was raised in what they now call the dark ages. How does it work if it is not your merit?

Wolf. Think. For just a moment. Take the Amber’s new baby brother. If he was in consideration, do you think he could lose?

Why not, it is pure competition, isn’t it?

Wolf, think of a child trained by the lightwalker. Would he have training no one else could have? Think of the heritage, of the naming gifts he would have. Perhaps a small colony of elementals, ten thousand, woven into a cloak? You know that unbound, they prefer large numbers, but think of ten thousand, each lending only two percent of their strength to the cloak. That would give him the force of two hundred elementals? Should Ariel not marry me, I would, of course, die childless. I might well give him my sword.

At that point, who could match such a child in skill, power and ability? With the role models he or she would have do you think they would have greater knowledge and wisdom as well?
Now, the families of the princes are not quite so blessed as such as a child would have, but they have heritage, skill, knowledge and connections. Training, heirlooms, special knowledge and family members that provide training and insight at home that few can match. 

More importantly, there is a heritage. The call is one of service and duty. I have my fathers before me and their fathers to show me a way of acting, values, history. I have a name that I value, family whose values matter to me. To take bribes, to turn away from duty would mean to abandon family, the commitment of over a thousand years of my forbearers, would mean a disgrace and a turning away. 

Wolf, there is nothing I value more.

So others have no chance?

No, there is a possible chance. There are those with drive, desire, who put in time and effort and whose families back them. Then, some are taken in and nourished by the houses, becoming their wards and folding in to their lines. I have a brother who came into our home that way.

But I have no illusion that it is by my virtue alone that I am a prince of the Elachi. I am very much aware that I rest on inherited merit, not my own.

Oh. Guess it is like that, only easier for Parakyle, who is a prince of the blood.

Err Wolf, I’ve been listening. I wouldn’t say so. Of course I inherited the kingdom, but our kings stand for election. They can lose their place and standing from the voice of the people, and once lost, it is rarely regained.

Parakyle, you stand for election? Like the Norse kings, kings like Harold Hardrede?

Wolf, I don’t know how they did their elections, but upon elevation, the voice of the people is called for. If they reject a prince, he is not confirmed as a prince, and another is called. So, by birth and primogeniture, I stood for confirmation, but the people could have rejected me.

Ok, Parakyle. So, once you are confirmed, is that it?

I wish. As a Prince, I have duties. Mine, at this time, are limited, we expect the princes to fulfill many duties much like the Elachi do. You could say at this time I am one of the Prince-Champions and am in the time of trials. The people are secure. But I am open to challenge, should I not follow the hero path or should I not fulfill other duties.

We generally have brother princes who serve. My brother serves as law giver, a sort of equity judge and administrator, I serve as champion. But the moot could be called, a challenge issued and if the voice of the people turned against one of us, and if we failed, the one who failed would be removed from his or her place.

Wolf, it can be stressful. It is why the princes generally do not have expansive agendas. The counsel of elders legislates, our judges judge according to our volklaw. The princes administrate, “law giver” is how it translates, but a prince rarely gives laws, though the details of administration creates the real meaning of laws. Hmm, chief of police might almost be a better description. Perhaps “law deliverer” – the one who delivers the law – that might be better for what he does.

The champion-prince is a war leader, if there is a war, but, again, he would rarely make the decision to go to war, but instead would have the counsel bring the matter before the moot of the people and then implement what is decided.

As long as a prince is not corrupt or stupid, as long as they do not step outside of the narrow role, they are unlikely to be challenged and it is unlikely that a challenge will succeed.

But to be confirmed at first, the people have to know you, respect you, and not see a better opportunity clearly available. That means a prince-nominate need be prepared better to serve than those likely to rise up in challenge.

Parakyle, are princes challenged often?

Of course not Wolf. A challenge looks like an act of pride and vainglory unless it succeeds. The princes are trained from early age and our house keeps and nourishes its alliances and always has. In making the decision the moot looks to the house, its tradition, its history and alliances. The alignment of the houses is always important. Marriages, fosterage, cadet lines, history, we are a long lived people.

Now, a house member might challenge, there was a time some thought to raise up my sister in a challenge, but she turned away from that as the war waxed hotter. Someone might be disabled, and not acknowledge it and need to be removed. Another might let power and authority go to their head or seek bribes to corrupt justice. 

Does that happen often Parakyle?

No Wolf. But we are not the only people of the snow dwarves, our steddings and holdt are not the only one. The moots are found in more than one continent, more than one world. There are those who have been thrown from their places, sometimes by the force of arms of the moot. Everyone knows the tale of Sirrian Bentlaw or Elinias the Crooked and that of Smirri the Feeble.

They will not tell such tales of me.

But, answering your question, it is not easy, but it is not hard. It would be a weak candidate and a solid challenge, supported by many houses, rarely would such a challenge arise without warning. The shift of power and of authority would be felt in the tales of the people, in the market and in the houses, in the stedt moots and they prepare for the folkmoot. It would probably be heralded by failures in the training and challenges of the prince-candidate as they trained and prepared.

So, Parakyle, do the princes always have to win every contest?

No, Wolf no. But they have to be respectable. A champion must do well in the contests of strength, a law bringer must do well in the contests of knowledge and judgment. And a Prince might be careful of just which and what kind of contest they enter. I would never enter the sprinting contests, but no one would care to face me in a trial of live weapons with the axe. My brother has the gift of truthtelling, and the eye of the north. 

You can guess that he always can tell the truth when it is told or not. No one would expect a contest to allow him to enter, the others would walk away. Someone could equal him, perhaps, but it would be like a math contest with one of Ariel’s computers. Not to mention, some rituals follow the blood lines in a stronger fashion.

As long as the people might need the heropaths and rituals, to draw strength from history, myth and magic, a prince will always provide the people with a benefit, an advantage. 

It is a balance between peace and times of trial, risk and trade, ability, skill and inheritance.

Do you think humans could live like the lightwalkers do?

I doubt it. Our society lives on its princes and the ability to see the truth. Your society needs layers in this world to protect from fraud and to find criminals. Mirrors would probably kill many humans. I don’t know, but I can’t see anything but anarchy. The houses have a great deal of autonomy. Our laws are fairly simple.

Princes champion the weak who do not have houses to support them, they discern truth, they view the light of others, they track wrongdoers. They hold court and judgment between outsiders and the houses when there are claims or embassies.

The houses are like clans and septs and great houses. They have their own traditions with the force of law within them.