Armageddon???? - Part Eighty One Up

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Post by phongn » 2008-05-16 05:02pm

Stuart wrote:Without looking it up, the only Peak Oil bit I remember was wehn one character looked ta the lines of vehicles on teh move and thought that Peak Oil didn't exist before, it certainly did now. The actual point is that its refining capacity that's the bottleneck right now,
In that case, it was just one minor comment that seemed to come out of left field as a little dig and unnecessary: making this reader (and a few others, I know) go "what the?"
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Post by Darth Wong » 2008-05-16 05:43pm

Remember facetious scenes where Putin speeches were read to dying demons to torture them, or Bill Clinton called his wife a hellspawn? I think people have forgotten that this story's treatment of real-life politics was always rather facetious, including numerous jokes. Do you really think Bill would call Hillary a demon from Hell in public?

Whether you agree with the style choice or not, the story treats real-life politics rather carelessly, and it always did. It's only "jarring" because we've forgotten that. If you disagree with it now, you should have found it just as jarring when it was done earlier.

Personally, I always found that the scenes involving real-life political figures took me a bit out of the story, which is one of the reasons that characters like Memnon and Abigor are actually more compelling to me. It didn't sour me on the story because these detours were usually brief. But that's part of the danger of using real-life characters and involving real-life issues in a rather fantastic scenario like this.
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Post by Jawawithagun » 2008-05-16 06:23pm

How old were the embryo/fetuses there anyway? Because if everything that has the taken the first step to human life ends up in hell I'd expect to see a lot more embryonal slush made up of blastocysts never even accomplishing implantation.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-05-16 06:55pm

Jawawithagun wrote:How old were the embryo/fetuses there anyway? Because if everything that has the taken the first step to human life ends up in hell I'd expect to see a lot more embryonal slush made up of blastocysts never even accomplishing implantation.
My working model is that fetuses from quickening through to children reaching the age of pubertyend upa s food; children from puberty onwards end up in torment, pre-quickening fetuses just vanish.
Guardsmanbass wrote:Are humans born with the ability to make the "jump" to Hell upon death? I thought that the story (and the characters) said that it was a cumulative process over a person's life that built up the "energy" to make the jump. Although considering that young adults made the jump, I'm still surprised that children (never mind actual infants and fetuses) made it.
Without giving too much away, this is the second hint that all is not what it seems.
necronlord wrote:No we're not. We're talking about Baldrickland, a place populated by rebels from the unnameable one's rule. Not some objectively evil place created by the maker of morality. No need to lay it on with a trowel and assume that everything they do has to be some twised perversion. The goodness of god, and the righteousness of his cause are lies, there's no reason to assume that the concept of hell being entirely evil is not also a lie.
Oh, I don't know, laying things on witha trowel serves a useful purpose sometimes. But, you're right, Baldrickand isn't as its presented by yahweh's propagandists. But, on the other hand, it is a pretty nasty place. It was being suggested to me that Hellw as too sanitized and the demons were too sympathetic. I didn't use the way out suggested by one person who made that suggestion but I did take the message on board and use the basic idea to udnerline teh fact that Hell is a very nasty palce indeed - not because its some moral yardstick of evil but because its run by a vicious psychopathic maniac - think all the worst characteristics of Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Yavrenti Beria and the Myanmarese Junta added together.

Little bit of a spoiler but it turns out the baldricks are as much his victims as everybody else.
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Post by Hawkwings » 2008-05-16 06:56pm

The fetuses were probably picked out to be sold like they were. Perhaps embryo slush is also sold, although seperately?
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Post by Mr Bean » 2008-05-16 07:20pm

I have to agree, removing the well know political figures from the story would serve it better. You can have Bush act like that, but I view him through a Prism of serving under him as Command and Chief. If it was President "Steve" or something else this would be a much more moving sceen because my brain is not screaming "Are you fucking kidding me? Steve's a goddamn insensitive moron!"

Can you see how that plays in Stuart? We have such pre-conceived notions about these major modern figures that it takes away from the story because I see "Bush" or "Rove" or "Clinton" and it slams into me that is is a fictional story.

Lesser know historical figures are alright. For example General Petraeus, had he never made that speech in front of Congress shelling out Bush administration talking points, IE a General doing a political job(And badly I might add, he lies poorly) then I would have been behind him 100% in this story, had this been written in 2004 or 2005 when he was just a commander on the ground and a well know good commander it would have been fair different then now.

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Post by Dracofrost » 2008-05-16 07:30pm

...do 'dead' people in hell age? Will the children ever grow up? Could the fetuses progress to full childhood and eventually adulthood? Or is everybody 'stuck' at the biological age that they died?

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Post by Illuminatus Primus » 2008-05-16 07:39pm

Stuart wrote:Now, we've run smack into a really awkward question - what happens to very young children and pre-birth infants (you can take pre-birth as far back as suits your personal prejudices). It is an extremely awkward question and there's no real way around it. So I've tossed the question out - assuming a classical Hell exists and infants are in it (if not getting this form of horrible situation something else equally bad) - how would we deal with it? I've taken a shot at what the results would be here by assuming that two people who are intensely political animals will immediately think of the political cosnequences. If we'd pitched a doctor in, we might well have had another answer. The ractions of the soldiers give the response of the "man in the street" to such an appalling discovery.

But, there's a more general sense here. Fiction of any sort splits into two categories, there are the political/social blueprint type (gee this is the way everything should be) and the question type (if these are the circumstances that apply, then what will the consequences of this situation be?) My stories all fall into the latter category, they propose a situation and then ask what the consequences of that situation is likely to be. Armageddon is very much in that mold. Nothing in Armageddon (or in TBO) is me laying down the law as saying "this is the way it should be." ALl the stories are saying "IF this is the way it is, then what are the consequences."
Okay, but every American who finds out totally goes hook-line-and-sinker for the "they have spirit energy, therefore they are equal in ethical terms to adults QED" without any skepticism? No one? And up this point all the Americans are portrayed as scientific and reasonable.
Stuart wrote:The TBO Caliphate is a classic example of this approach. The fact is that documentation captured in Afghanistan clearly indicated what the kind of society the people involved were aiming at. They wanted an all-inclusive Islamic state run according to the highly puritanical lines laid down by the Taliban. The absence of education of women, their restruction to the home as breeding machines, all are taken from Taliban documents and the practice of their regime. So, lets assume they got the state they wanted. What if the proposed Caliphate existed? How would it be run? What would its internal and external policies be like. Just like in TBO we have Cuba run by the Mafia. What would a state that really is run by criminals look like?
Somehow, I figure that inventing a morally (if not politically) monolithic state fully of religious insanity and mass murdering retards makes the foriegn policy of the U.S. easier to justify. They attack us with speciocidal weapons and they're all insane and long ago murdered basically all sympathetic opposition. So nuke away, no fears.
Stuart wrote:
to the unrealistic evil cable news people hating on guns unrealistically,
Actually that news insert was taken almost verbatim from a genuine news report concerning a home invasion that "turned violent" when the home-owner shot one of the invaders and chased off the other two. The fact that the invaders had already beaten his wife and children and were theratening to pour boiling water over them wasn't mentioned.
I understand you may find them equivalent but not all agree. And I'm sorry, the fact you think this is equal to REAL WORLD DEMONS whom everyone has been religiously/mythologically indoctrinated their whole lives to think are evil STORM into a MALL and butcher people alive, and you expect me to believe that CNN's talking heads were credibly be discussing the fact they brandished guns? If you believe that, you truly are unbelievably partisan. I'm sorry, but its totally ridiculous. There's not even ambiguity, because the DEMONS we are AT WAR with, and they ALREADY STARTED KILLING PEOPLE when they were shot, and being in a mall, this would be ON CAMERA.

Actually, lets discard all that. Why include it at all? What does it add to the story? A political statement on the media about their unfair portrayal of guns and gun-use. That is axe grinding. It has nothing to do with the story, even if some retard on CNN once did it, and even if it plausibly related to the situation. I somehow doubt that even the evil media lizards would not blow with the prevailing winds at a time like this.
Stuart wrote:You might look at it that way, somebody else may say that the consideration given to people's feelings redounds to Bush's credit while Rove's intent to use the situation for political ends is discreditable.
If unborn infants are morally equivalent to adult persons, then they are being mass-murdered every day. Full stop. Now explain to me how history, basic ethics, anything under the sun would vindicate a POTUS who held off and delayed preventing that when he could because he was worried about media/public panic? I'm sorry, but abortionist women feeling depressed is obviously less morally important than the mass murder of people.

If they're not moral agents like talking, adult persons like you and me, then why would their existance in Hell matter? Why would the quintessential characteristic of moral agency be having some spirit energy? And if so, then why would abortion suddenly be wrong?
Stuart wrote:I haven't answered that, I've tossed the questions out there for everybody to think about. Which of the two men is right? Is either of them right? Faced with this horrifying bit of information, what is the right thing to do? Is there a right thing to do? I have made no moral claims here, I deliberately wrote the section so that the morality of the answers is left open.
The total lack of ambiguity by any of the humans pretty much belies that claim. If the story is supposed to convey not-knowing-what-to-think, how come everyone automatically thinks the same opinion?

You avoided reference to climate change and sustainability issues because you know those are cheap shots you've been invited to debate with people - and you have considerable expertise and debating skill, so its hardly unfair request or comment - in favor of leaving little preachy quips where the intended recipients cannot reply in kind without derailing the thread.

Taken with the gun thing, its clear that there are deliberate attempts at political axe grinding, if that makes it worth it to you to write a story, the mood struck you on the can, you saw it in the clouds, that's all fine. But don't deny that you're doing it then.
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Post by Junghalli » 2008-05-16 07:59pm

Illuminatus Primus wrote:If they're not moral agents like talking, adult persons like you and me, then why would their existance in Hell matter? Why would the quintessential characteristic of moral agency be having some spirit energy? And if so, then why would abortion suddenly be wrong?

Well, we are seeing the subjective judgments of the characters, after all. You have people getting understandably grossed out at the barrel of still-living embryos, one random guy saying this will overturn Roe vs. Wade, and Karl Rove saying it's a perfect opportunity to overturn Roe vs. Wade. I don't see why we should take their words as undeniably true in-universe. Just how aware a blastocyst is would still be a pretty open question even if it has soul-energy.

Although this gets me wondering if animals reincarnate in Hell as well. If soul-energy is related to awareness there should be plenty of animals that have more than an early term human embryo. If it's only late trimester fetuses that get transported you should probably see at least greater apes and other highly intelligent animals in Hell. If it's early-stage embryos there are probably huge numbers of animal species that have more self-awareness than them. If things like blastocysts can cross over than even primitive animals like jellyfish should be able to do so as well. If soul-energy is tied to cognition it can't be something that only humans have if very undeveloped embryos have it. Then again, it may not be a factor of cognition, but unique to humans for some other reason.

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Post by Adrian Laguna » 2008-05-16 08:06pm

Stuart wrote:“No Sir. Ours. They’re human embryos. Perhaps those that were miscarried or aborted, I don’t know. But they’re our fetuses and the baldricks just ate them like snacks.”
Heh, this gives me literary ideas, that's one atrocity I hadn't thought of.
Stuart wrote:think all the worst characteristics of Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Yavrenti Beria and the Myanmarese Junta added together.
In my opinion, one of these does not belong with the others, joke comparisons to Himmler by his boss notwithstanding.

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Post by MKSheppard » 2008-05-16 08:30pm

IP wrote:If unborn infants are morally equivalent to adult persons, then they are being mass-murdered every day. Full stop. Now explain to me how history, basic ethics, anything under the sun would vindicate a POTUS who held off and delayed preventing that when he could because he was worried about media/public panic? I'm sorry, but abortionist women feeling depressed is obviously less morally important than the mass murder of people.
The US already took a huge hit population wise when a significant fraction of the population laid down and died with the message; and Europe probably took a decent hit as well (though not as much). Now imagine the upheaval and huge spike in suicides amongst a wide spectra of classes; if this gets out; the fact that they coudl have had a kid, but they condemned them to being a baldricks' snack by being selfish or whatnot.

By this point in the war economy, I would imagine it's getting hard to find excess people in speciality fields, and I don't need my top scientist, winner of a nobel prize, blowing their brains out out of remorse from a long ago abortion.

EDIT: Quietly shunting this to the supremes and having them outlaw it is probably the best way out of a situation in which morality and expediency are clashing in a very messy way.
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Post by Sidewinder » 2008-05-16 08:55pm

The presence of the souls of fetuses raises another question: will those who died as fetuses, infants, or children ever mature, i.e., grow up? Or will they be stuck as fetuses, infants, or children for their entire time in Hell?
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-05-16 09:48pm

*yawns* The earliest Quickening can possibly happen is 14 weeks--this means it's a nonissue. Since third trimester abortions are already banned, the Supreme Court just needs to say "in light of more sophisticated medical evidence," blah blah, "the ban is extended through the second trimester as well."

Considering that something like 80% of abortions are first-trimester abortions, the impact from abortion is therefore minimal. 1/3rd of all pregnancies spontaneously terminate without the woman even knowing about them, though I doubt many of those are second trimester either, for that matter.
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Post by The Vortex Empire » 2008-05-16 09:50pm

These updates are like crack. Common Stuart, I need my fix!

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Post by Stuart » 2008-05-16 10:08pm

The Duchess of Zeon wrote:*yawns* The earliest Quickening can possibly happen is 14 weeks--this means it's a nonissue. Since third trimester abortions are already banned, the Supreme Court just needs to say "in light of more sophisticated medical evidence," blah blah, "the ban is extended through the second trimester as well."

Considering that something like 80% of abortions are first-trimester abortions, the impact from abortion is therefore minimal. 1/3rd of all pregnancies spontaneously terminate without the woman even knowing about them, though I doubt many of those are second trimester either, for that matter.
Now that's the sort of insight I was hoping for. Thank you, Your Grace. That's a plot line we can work with, if I do a sequel to Armageddon (which would deal with a lot of the issues raised, that would make a rather nice summing up.
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Post by Edward Yee » 2008-05-16 10:21pm

As for the idea re: humans building up the "energy," I distinctly remember Petraeus going to Abigor "how the heck do you know that?" and the resultant 'discussion' on faith (taking Satan and Yahweh at face value) versus the empirical.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-05-16 10:33pm

Illuminatus Primus wrote: Okay, but every American who finds out totally goes hook-line-and-sinker for the "they have spirit energy, therefore they are equal in ethical terms to adults QED" without any skepticism? No one? And up this point all the Americans are portrayed as scientific and reasonable.
Becuase we are dealing with a community (military and scientific) that is overwhelmingly scientific and/or reasonable. There are actually some characters who aren't (they get mentioned in passing) and one of them crops up around now but by and large people are representative of the communities they come from. The "heroes" of this story are science and reason and the story itself is one of the triumph of science and reason over blindness, faith and superstition. So obviously the people on the winning side will be reasonable and scientific. By the way, the people who are wildly religious are all dead and feeling terribly embarrassed about it.
Somehow, I figure that inventing a morally (if not politically) monolithic state fully of religious insanity and mass murdering retards makes the foriegn policy of the U.S. easier to justify. They attack us with speciocidal weapons and they're all insane and long ago murdered basically all sympathetic opposition. So nuke away, no fears.
No, I can safely say you figured wrong there. The Caliphate is not monolithic nor full of religious insanity nor are they mass-murdering retards (they are mass-murderers but they're not retarded about it). In fact, when I was designing the structure of the Caliphate, one of the things that was apparent very early is that the state cannot be monolithic. In fact, the best that can be hoped for is a very lose federation. The Caliphate's governing system is modelled on the Gulf Cooperation Council where policy is decided on a majority vote but the decision is only binding on those who voted for it. This is a standard pattern with me by the way; I tend not to invent things but take something that actually exists and modify it to fit. The ironic thing is that after the events of Ride of the Valkyries, The Caliphate actually becomes quite quiet for over seventy years. The reason for its final demise was nothing to do with its politics but the fact that I wanted to give a scream of warning about biological warfare which I personally regard as the greatest threat to human survival currently extant.

As for American foreign policy, I didn't have to justify it. What I did was take American foreign policy in the 1950s and pose a question; if this policy had been carried through to the 1960s and 1970s, what are the likely consequences (good and bad). The casual tossing around of nuclear weapons is straight out of the 1950s playbook.
I understand you may find them equivalent but not all agree.
It would be a very dull world if we all agreed on everything
The total lack of ambiguity by any of the humans pretty much belies that claim. If the story is supposed to convey not-knowing-what-to-think, how come everyone automatically thinks the same opinion?
They don't. They are hitting at things from different angles And Her Grace has come up with the excellent counter-argument to them.
You avoided reference to climate change and sustainability issues because you know those are cheap shots you've been invited to debate with people - and you have considerable expertise and debating skill, so its hardly unfair request or comment - in favor of leaving little preachy quips where the intended recipients cannot reply in kind without derailing the thread.
I don't debate climate change because I don't have an opinion on it. I simply lack the specialized knowledge to study the issues involved in the depth I would demand before forming an opinion. So I read and learn and keep my mouth shut. That's why humans evolved two eyes, two ears and one mouth. So they can listen and learn four times as much as they speak.
Taken with the gun thing, its clear that there are deliberate attempts at political axe grinding, if that makes it worth it to you to write a story, the mood struck you on the can, you saw it in the clouds, that's all fine. But don't deny that you're doing it then.
Might be clear to you, its not clear to me at all. As far as I'm concerned, this whole story is a means of spreading a little enjoyment witha few barbs tossed into a sacred cows along the way. The gun thing as you call it was me poking fun at the press. On this wild ride I've also poked fun at the US Secret Service, the British Army and Royal Navy, the Russian bureaucracy, historians and museum owners and teenage schoolgirls. Frankly, I think you need to lighten up a bit and join in the fun.
Last edited by Stuart on 2008-05-16 10:47pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-05-16 10:42pm

Adrian Laguna wrote: In my opinion, one of these does not belong with the others, joke comparisons to Himmler by his boss notwithstanding.
You're quite right, I'm sorry. Idi Amin doesn't belong in there. Idi Amin was clinically insane, probably from untreated syphilis and he wasn't really responsible for his actions (the comment about him being compared to Himmler by his boss isn't quite accurate; Milton Obote did refer to him as a Himmler but only after Amin had deposed him).

The others were all stone-cold sane when they committed their atrocities. I'll try and think of another one to lob in there - our old friend Masanobu Tsuji might be a good recruit.

One day, for a bit of fun, when somebody tries the "What Would Jesus Do" line, reply with "Well I usually ask myself 'What Would Lavrenti Beria Do' since it gives me a more practical series of options." Sometimes it makes them cry.
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Post by Stuart » 2008-05-16 10:46pm

Dracofrost wrote:...do 'dead' people in hell age? Will the children ever grow up? Could the fetuses progress to full childhood and eventually adulthood? Or is everybody 'stuck' at the biological age that they died?
No, they don't. They exist either at the age they died at or at their condition before serious ageing starts (say mid-40s) whicheber is the younger. Remeber, these are people's spirits, souls if you like; its just they're a lot more tangible than anybody realized. One of the things I'm considering is that "ghosts" may be what is left of these deceased humans if they come back to our dimension and stay too long. (Yes, I did watch Randall and Hopkirk Deceased when I was young)
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Post by Stuart » 2008-05-16 10:56pm

Mr Bean wrote:I have to agree, removing the well know political figures from the story would serve it better. You can have Bush act like that, but I view him through a Prism of serving under him as Command and Chief. If it was President "Steve" or something else this would be a much more moving sceen because my brain is not screaming "Are you fucking kidding me? Steve's a goddamn insensitive moron!"
I agree, the problem is that if I mess around with people in high places, the butterfly effects are such that the baseline story - modern day earth versus the mythological demons ceases to exist.

To some extent, I disagree on Bush. He's not insensitive when he'd dealing with people personally; I'm not sure what goes wrong when he gets into groups. He's actually a very nice man in social settings. The depiction of Petraeus is accurate, he does speak and behave as depicted. I've been to some of his lectures and know him (very) casually. Mike's right, there's no way Clinton would refer to Hillary as a fiend from hell in public, he's far too afraid of her for that. Luga is modelled on one of my ex-girlfriends :)
Can you see how that plays in Stuart? We have such pre-conceived notions about these major modern figures that it takes away from the story because I see "Bush" or "Rove" or "Clinton" and it slams into me that is is a fictional story.
I do agree, the problem is that putting fiction characters in there as well changes things just as badly. If we had President Jorge Shrub in there, it would be just as jarring in a story that's painfully obviously about the present-day world.

If you like, think of this story as being set in the "Married with Children" universe. After all, we've already had a cameo by Al Bundy.
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Post by Dracofrost » 2008-05-16 11:03pm

So that then raises another question; while physically still children, given enough time could dead children in hell mentally mature into 'adults', or would their immature brains eternally prevent that?

Do they never grow up, thus leading to an eventual situation reminiscent of a 'real' Peter Pan, once we've conquered Hell and liberated the Dead?

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Post by Stuart » 2008-05-16 11:10pm

Dracofrost wrote:Do they never grow up, thus leading to an eventual situation reminiscent of a 'real' Peter Pan, once we've conquered Hell and liberated the Dead?
Indeed, that's what I have in mind. Another issue for Armageddon II - what does one do with children who are going to be effectively children eternally?

See what I mean about taking an assumption and following though with its consequences? :D
Nations do not survive by setting examples for others
Nations survive by making examples of others

Junghalli
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Post by Junghalli » 2008-05-16 11:58pm

Dracofrost wrote:So that then raises another question; while physically still children, given enough time could dead children in hell mentally mature into 'adults', or would their immature brains eternally prevent that?
A good part of childishness is ignorance and inexperience. Children have to be taken care of primarily because they lack survival skills. Even if the brain stays underdeveloped I have a hard time imagining the personality not being changed massively by hundreds of years of life.

Of course, it will probably depend on the stage of development. A baby probably won't mature much because I doubt their brains are really capable of it, whereas I imagine somebody who is hundreds of years old but physically 8-10 would probably be pretty mature. What they've experienced will have an impact as well, of course. Somebody who was chained to a rock for a hundred years and knew little else probably would be pretty stunted intellectually and emotionally.

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Post by Surlethe » 2008-05-17 12:58am

I'll admit that the abortion comment irked me, too, but seeing Stuart's explanation and thinking about it, it makes sense. And for all the fun the story is, I'm glad that it depicted Karl Rove as the coldhearted, calculating bastard that he is. :wink:

Edit:
Stuart wrote:To some extent, I disagree on Bush. He's not insensitive when he'd dealing with people personally; I'm not sure what goes wrong when he gets into groups. He's actually a very nice man in social settings.
That may be precisely the matter. I would surmise that he's a people person and very good at sympathizing on an individual level, and he also holds his beliefs very strongly. But because he focuses on emotions, people, etc., he's not the sort to sit back and thoroughly think through his beliefs, test them, etc. -- so he'd be poor dealing with society-wide problems that require abstraction. Hopefully, that makes some sense.
A Government founded upon justice, and recognizing the equal rights of all men; claiming higher authority for existence, or sanction for its laws, that nature, reason, and the regularly ascertained will of the people; steadily refusing to put its sword and purse in the service of any religious creed or family is a standing offense to most of the Governments of the world, and to some narrow and bigoted people among ourselves.
F. Douglass

Adrian Laguna
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Post by Adrian Laguna » 2008-05-17 01:04am

Stuart wrote:
Adrian Laguna wrote: In my opinion, one of these does not belong with the others, joke comparisons to Himmler by his boss notwithstanding.
You're quite right, I'm sorry. Idi Amin doesn't belong in there. Idi Amin was clinically insane, probably from untreated syphilis and he wasn't really responsible for his actions (the comment about him being compared to Himmler by his boss isn't quite accurate; Milton Obote did refer to him as a Himmler but only after Amin had deposed him).
Heh, I should keep my mouth shut and nod sagely, but that wasn't what I meant. I didn't know Amin was insane, or of anything Obote said of him.

What I'm refering to is that during the Yalta conference Roosevelt asked Stalin about the guy with glasses, to which Joe replied, "that's Beria, he's our Himmler". Might not be true, it's in No Simple Victory by Norman Davies, specifically one of the picture sections, under side by side portraits of Beria and Himmler. As it happens they do sort of look alike and wore same type of glasses.
One day, for a bit of fun, when somebody tries the "What Would Jesus Do" line, reply with "Well I usually ask myself 'What Would Lavrenti Beria Do' since it gives me a more practical series of options." Sometimes it makes them cry.
That sounds much better than my SOP of answering the question honestly if the one spouting it is middle or upper class, thus making them look like hypocrites.

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