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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2010-12-15 11:35am
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thejester wrote:
Pretty sure what he's advocating a combined military-social-political program at hamlet level ('brains') and local security for said program in the hamlets through boots on the ground ('on foot'). Given that both of these (admittedly vague) were hit upon by plenty of Americans independently of Thompson and formed the basic core of CORDS pacification efforts right up until the US pull out in 72-73, I'm not sure I'd dismiss the quote as 'quite meaningless' - it just lacks context.


That's one interpretation one could put on it but only one of many. It is actually a typical "psychic statement" ie one that can be retrospectively reinterpreted to cover almost anything that happens. That's why I describe it as being meaningless. It is devoid of inherent meaning; any that it might have is assigned by the listener, not the speaker.

It could, for example, also be interpreted to mean that the war would be won by investing massively in intelligence resources and relegating military operations to simple foot patrols. Or it could be interpreted as winning by investing very heavily in command structures and command-control facilities so that operations down to indvidual soldier level are all under very tight control.

Actually, that would be a fun drinking game. Sitting around a table and knocking back a shot of Blue Label with each plausible interpretation of the original phrase.



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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2010-12-15 11:53am
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Did he say it as part of a speech or presentation, which would have served to establish context? A lot of things that are meaningful as the capstone of a speech don't make much sense when quoted in isolation.

Or did Thompson just up and say it point-blank to Kennedy, without further explanation? That strikes me as a bit unlikely.

[This is not to say that what Thompson was advocating was an especially good idea, or that its implementation was anything other than a disaster, but "promoted a bad plan" is not the same thing as "incoherent."]

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2010-12-15 02:11pm
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Basicaly, this guy's problem was that he might've been pointing in the right direction, but the path to that direction meant going through the heavily wooded and overgrown forest, over the unfordable river with only a fallen and rotten tree as a foot bridge, and across a deep chasm?

Er...he was being very vague and everything he said meant multiple meanings. Something that kinda falls apart, because you kinda need to be on the same page to have something as complex as the problem he had on hand at the time be solved by different people.


Also, couldn't being incoherent allow someone to follow a bad plan?

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2010-12-15 07:52pm
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Stuart wrote:
thejester wrote:
Pretty sure what he's advocating a combined military-social-political program at hamlet level ('brains') and local security for said program in the hamlets through boots on the ground ('on foot'). Given that both of these (admittedly vague) were hit upon by plenty of Americans independently of Thompson and formed the basic core of CORDS pacification efforts right up until the US pull out in 72-73, I'm not sure I'd dismiss the quote as 'quite meaningless' - it just lacks context.


That's one interpretation one could put on it but only one of many. It is actually a typical "psychic statement" ie one that can be retrospectively reinterpreted to cover almost anything that happens. That's why I describe it as being meaningless. It is devoid of inherent meaning; any that it might have is assigned by the listener, not the speaker.

It could, for example, also be interpreted to mean that the war would be won by investing massively in intelligence resources and relegating military operations to simple foot patrols. Or it could be interpreted as winning by investing very heavily in command structures and command-control facilities so that operations down to indvidual soldier level are all under very tight control.

But the fact it's devoid of inherent meaning is a reflection of the way it's been presented. That line comes across as a hook for Thompson's ideas; it's not the entirety of them. The initial plan he drafted for Diem seems - without actually having read it - to have been reasonably detailed, certainly detailed enough to flesh out the operational mechanisms he envisioned for pacification and the differences to the approach favoured by MAAG. To use another Vietnam example, Abrams' 'One War' line is also totally meaningless on its own. Of course, if you put it in the context of Vietnamization, the re-emphasis on pacification and the Accelerated Pacification Campaigns it makes perfect sense and actually becomes a fairly important idea.

That is, of course, if Thompson actually said it. It's unsourced on wiki, isn't quoted in any of the books I've got that deal with the SHP (and indeed I can't find any evidence of a meeting with Kennedy) and only reappears on in the internet in some fairly dubious op-ed pieces that seem to feed off each other.



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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2010-12-15 08:15pm
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Stuart wrote:
Actually, that would be a fun drinking game. Sitting around a table and knocking back a shot of Blue Label with each plausible interpretation of the original phrase.

Only a Dwarf Fortress player could describe that as 'fun'.

Count me in.



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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2010-12-22 07:01pm
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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-09 06:24pm
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So I suppose that this is the place to comment on the story? I'm new here, so please don't kill me.

Anyway, I've just finished reading through both Armageddon and Pantheocide and I wanted to comment on a few things. Beware, this might be slightly incoherent.

Firstly, both books are great and a lot of fun to read, but Pantheocide was a great improvement over Armageddon, the story seemed more focused, it was more suspenseful and interesting and it was overall told better. In Armageddon there were too many side-stories that I didn't find very much fun to read, in fact I skim-read all the parts with the rescue workers in Sheffield and Detroit and skipped a lot of it, only reading enough to get the gist of it all because it was mostly irrelevant to the main story and frankly boring.

Next, I hated Jade Kim. I absolutely hated her. Worst character in the entire series (so far). At first I thought I simply disliked the idea of a resistance in Hell, but then Tucker came along and I really liked him, but I still hated Kim. This is probably a request that will never be fullfilled, but if there is ever a book version, could it please be without Kim? I'm sure there's another way of introducing Caesar...

Third, the humans tend to have a terrible attitude and if I were an angel or demon I'd probably join the resistance. A good example of this are the Marines landing on the shores and being douchey to everyone, same with the army coming into the Eternal City or Stevenson and others snapping at people who respect the angels and worst of all the way Petraeus treated Michael. Come on, the guy saved you nuking a city of 200 million/months of street fighting, why would you act like an asshole?

Of course these are only minor annoyances in an overall great story, I just thought I'd point them out since those stuck in my mind.

On a somewhat unrelated note, in the chapter where the first Bowl of Wrath is poured, something is said about firing missiles in a way so that they hit the enemy before they can react and the Indians giving the Americans a bloody nose with that strategy. I just wonder when exactly this happened. As far as I'm aware, India was never at war with the US, and the native Americans definitely did not have jet fighter, so what exactly is this referring to?

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-10 02:45pm
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HK_01 wrote:
Third, the humans tend to have a terrible attitude and if I were an angel or demon I'd probably join the resistance. A good example of this are the Marines landing on the shores and being douchey to everyone, same with the army coming into the Eternal City or Stevenson and others snapping at people who respect the angels and worst of all the way Petraeus treated Michael. Come on, the guy saved you nuking a city of 200 million/months of street fighting, why would you act like an asshole?

This is the same guy who saved Uriel's ass and led the army supposed to bring extinction to mankind. Mike taking down Yaweh was a good start, but he's still a long run from gaining mankind's trust.
For the daemons, I'd like to point out they tortured, maimed and killed men for FUN. Such acts don't earn you friendship from man, they actually earn you all the bullets you can endure without dying.

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-10 04:08pm
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You don't really tip-toe and thread lightly on an enemy that has, in theory, had agents operate on your home turf. Demons? Berserkers, those who put voices in people's heads, and those who we can say had been demonically possessed, sensitives who were just a touch too sensitive and allowed demons to maybe control their physical body? This has been going on for hundreds of years. Both by angels and demons. We were being used as little toys to these beings.

And it doesn't take a polisci major to understand what Michael is trying to do. He's trying to consolidate power under his own wings and be the leader much like Abigor is in hell, except Petraeus and his advisers can see that, and keeping him under a tight leash until they can decide what to do with him. The people up in heaven are people who have not had the 'light' one can say, of the hundreds of years after the end of the middle ages, where the Church is not the almighty organization as it was back in the day, but one who finds itself increasingly separated in many nations due to their laws. The people there are in paradise, as the example in the second book said, that they don't need to fear about being killed or starving or whatnot. When viewed in accordance of the times they were plucked from Earth and sent to Heaven, that really is paradise. To someone who has had the luxury of an old outhouse, let alone indoor plumbing, a beggar had better.


Going off topic here, so:

It's less terrible attitude. Stuart went to explain what the angels and demons have gone through. A case study for the demons would be Dripe--er...Drippy. Notice how he felt great when praised, and his inner thoughts when comparing the human way with the old way? I don't notice a terrible attitude, but it's more like an older person trying to teach a younger person while undoing bad habits. You know that feeling I'm sure. You'd feel frustrated too, and maybe that''s where you mean the humans have a terrible attitude.

For Angels...well, it did showcase the difference between the regular, run of the mill angels, and those within Michael's circle. Michael trying to pull strings to come to a conclusion where he can profit from will leave to some problems. So I wouldn't be as trusting and singing praises to the angel when we had this big expectant battle to come up, where we thought it'd be big, and time consuming, then we're given this message that Yahweh's dead and the city is open, I'd have some doubts about that deal. Especially when the deal comes from what we can equate to as the Chairman of the Chief of Staff of the US Military when viewed in angelic terms.

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-10 09:27pm
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HK_01 wrote:
Next, I hated Jade Kim. I absolutely hated her. Worst character in the entire series (so far). At first I thought I simply disliked the idea of a resistance in Hell, but then Tucker came along and I really liked him, but I still hated Kim. This is probably a request that will never be fullfilled, but if there is ever a book version, could it please be without Kim? I'm sure there's another way of introducing Caesar...
Why the hate for her? I... didn't like her myself, but it didn't descend into hate, and at least Stuart found a way to keep Caesar a non-Gary Stu so far.
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Third, the humans tend to have a terrible attitude and if I were an angel or demon I'd probably join the resistance.
The funny thing is, the end of Pantheocide actually suggests that resistance is more likely to come from the Second-Lifers, or at least these who had been living on the outskirts/farming communities (i.e. Benedict) and those who'd lived relatively privileged lives in the city (read: favored servants). There's already been rock-throwing incidents...

Regarding the demons though, it seems that the Earth-native occupiers learned a thing or two (one would hope) from the US invasion/occupation of Iraq, and Stuart's made no mention of the situation having even degraded by late 2010 (when Pantheocide concludes), except for the Russians having "issues" with Second-Lifers.
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worst of all the way Petraeus treated Michael. Come on, the guy saved you nuking a city of 200 million/months of street fighting, why would you act like an asshole?
I don't think Petraeus would have let his "discomfort" (to say the least) actually STOP him from nuking the Eternal City, if that was really his only viable option... after all, he'd have to eat a bullet twice. Oh, it would probably be the worst moment of his (First) Life, but I think TSW Petraeus really would do it. See above (resistance) though re: Stevenson's reaction to the "Stockholm Syndrome" Second-Lifers (read: it's not really Stockholm syndrome at all), and to add on to what's been said about Michael... I think Petraeus felt validated in his suspicion* the moment Michael offered to "personally carry" him in the air...

Crucial difference between Abigor and Michael: Abigor's "past self" was BROKEN at the Battles of al-Badiya al-Janubiya and of Western Iraq/Hit, and was briefly Petraeus' prisoner, making him "our man." Though they wouldn't have known it (this one's meta-knowledge), the wider gap between modern human military leaders and Abigor than between Michael and them also made it easier to awe Abigor into submission; it'll take a while for the demon leadership and soldiers as a whole to gain ambition again, to make the mental leap that Drippy did in his last appearance to date. In contrast, while Petraeus doesn't actually know that Michael's much, more like an ambitious and intelligent human... he ain't taking chances, and he in turn found it *ahem* inconvenient that Michael's got Second-Lifers supporting him... yes, Michael's NOT being "broken in like an primitive native" and being TOO much like us is part of why he was booted, exiled to his estate along with his cohorts, Leilah probably closely monitored, and Zacharael's cabinet subject to Petraeus' approval. (Personally, I think Petraeus' decision to appoint Zacharael as head of government despite his suspicions was to at least put his "stamp" on the situation -- Zacharael's public legitimacy stemming from the human general's authority.)

* He's not on Michael just yet, but he already intuited that something's not right about the mason.
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On a somewhat unrelated note, in the chapter where the first Bowl of Wrath is poured, something is said about firing missiles in a way so that they hit the enemy before they can react and the Indians giving the Americans a bloody nose with that strategy. I just wonder when exactly this happened. As far as I'm aware, India was never at war with the US, and the native Americans definitely did not have jet fighter, so what exactly is this referring to?
I'm guessing that there was a USAF-Indian Air Force exercise in the past where was used, kinda like how Asanee mentions Thai Army success against the US Army in exercises thanks to credit cards (more specifically, I believe the ability to resupply from local civilian stations).



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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-11 04:20pm
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Jusu wrote:
The people there are in paradise, as the example in the second book said, that they don't need to fear about being killed or starving or whatnot. When viewed in accordance of the times they were plucked from Earth and sent to Heaven, that really is paradise. To someone who has had the luxury of an old outhouse, let alone indoor plumbing, a beggar had better.
Well... honestly, I'd say that the conditions experienced by the average Second Lifer in Heaven are superior to those faced by pretty much any pre-industrial subsistence farmer anywhere. Particularly the really superb health care plan. I'd rather be a Second Lifer in Heaven in this setting than an early Victorian factory worker, for instance; it's less work and you live longer.

It isn't until the very late nineteenth and the twentieth century that we see really impressive rises in the standard of living for the average citizen, an increasing proportion of whom become city-dwellers and benefit from advancing medical technology, electrification, and mechanization as the century rolls on. And it's only in that time period that the appeal of being a Second Lifer peasant who works short hours in a beautiful climate and spends a lot of time praying starts to fade.

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For Angels...well, it did showcase the difference between the regular, run of the mill angels, and those within Michael's circle. Michael trying to pull strings to come to a conclusion where he can profit from will leave to some problems. So I wouldn't be as trusting and singing praises to the angel when we had this big expectant battle to come up, where we thought it'd be big, and time consuming, then we're given this message that Yahweh's dead and the city is open, I'd have some doubts about that deal. Especially when the deal comes from what we can equate to as the Chairman of the Chief of Staff of the US Military when viewed in angelic terms.
It's not so much the "not singing praises" as what seems to be a deliberate policy of calculated humiliation. That works when you've visibly conquered a territory, when you've smashed them in the field to the point where they know they can no longer offer resistance. When your occupation forces made what amounted to an unopposed entry into a territory, and when they're dealing with people who have an unbelievable stockpile of cultural pride... it's going to cause problems. Probably unnecessary problems, too.

Telling the demons "tough shit, everything you knew is gone and you are now dirt for us to boss around as we please" will work. Because they're used to that, and because they took the casualties trying to stop us from doing so.

The angels aren't used to taking that from anyone, and they have less... visceral experience of what happens if they don't take it gracefully.

Edward Yee wrote:
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worst of all the way Petraeus treated Michael. Come on, the guy saved you nuking a city of 200 million/months of street fighting, why would you act like an asshole?
I don't think Petraeus would have let his "discomfort" (to say the least) actually STOP him from nuking the Eternal City, if that was really his only viable option... after all, he'd have to eat a bullet twice. Oh, it would probably be the worst moment of his (First) Life, but I think TSW Petraeus really would do it.
He'd do it, sure, but that doesn't mean he's not going to be relieved at not having to do it. There are a lot of situations where you can steel yourself to do something and yet feel a certain amount of gratitude for having been spared the need to actually carry through: "I hope they don't decide to call my bluff, because I'm not bluffing."

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Crucial difference between Abigor and Michael: Abigor's "past self" was BROKEN at the Battles of al-Badiya al-Janubiya and of Western Iraq/Hit, and was briefly Petraeus' prisoner, making him "our man." Though they wouldn't have known it (this one's meta-knowledge), the wider gap between modern human military leaders and Abigor than between Michael and them also made it easier to awe Abigor into submission; it'll take a while for the demon leadership and soldiers as a whole to gain ambition again, to make the mental leap that Drippy did in his last appearance to date.
Interesting; from the point of view of someone like an occupation government, you do want your native leaders to be people you've broken to your control, not ambitious people with major plans and networks of their own aside from what you've built for them.

One point to HK: Michael is immortal. He can afford to wait five or ten years while the historians sort out who did what and when. A snub is not the end of his world, even if it becomes official policy for many years to keep snubbing him. He's accomplished his basic objective of preserving some semblance of Heaven that he can, possibly, come to rule some day. He'd be wise (though it would hurt his pride) to accept that as good enough.

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-12 12:19am
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Simon_Jester wrote:
It's not so much the "not singing praises" as what seems to be a deliberate policy of calculated humiliation.
Now, see, this part I find very interesting, due to the discussion about humans having it out more for the angels than for the demons (for which there was sympathy, even pity) and in turn, being willing to indulge demons' own pokes-of-the-stick at angels. Maybe the calculated humiliation is a case of letting our pent-up "victims' anger" go too far? (A Family Friendly Aesop, but hey. I don't remember whose idea it was to have a gay fighter pilot shoot down some HVT angel, but for all this to go badly for humanity in Lords of War sure would beat 1632!)
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Crucial difference between Abigor and Michael: Abigor's "past self" was BROKEN at the Battles of al-Badiya al-Janubiya and of Western Iraq/Hit, and was briefly Petraeus' prisoner, making him "our man." Though they wouldn't have known it (this one's meta-knowledge), the wider gap between modern human military leaders and Abigor than between Michael and them also made it easier to awe Abigor into submission; it'll take a while for the demon leadership and soldiers as a whole to gain ambition again, to make the mental leap that Drippy did in his last appearance to date.
Interesting; from the point of view of someone like an occupation government, you do want your native leaders to be people you've broken to your control, not ambitious people with major plans and networks of their own aside from what you've built for them.
Conveniently, when extrapolating this out to the demons' mindset/psychology, the only demons to really be told "tough shit" were the leadership -- who, I should point out, were actually trying to pull off what Michael ended up succeeding at, we just got to Satan faster than we could get to Yahweh -- contrast that with the benevolent treatment of a farming community north of Dis by COL Stevenson and her troops. While we're not privy to what else she or the follow-on Civil Affairs troops did, psychologically it (hopefully) was a case of "uplift"... leaving the civilians hopefully both predisposed to like the "average" trooper and willing to oppose violence against humans.

Drippy sounds like a success story on this front -- he's made the shift to thinking of humans as simply masters of the warmaking craft rather than new gods... but also as comrades, not as overlords that he's already wanting to use that warmaking mastery against, and his human officers and comrades' approval is a sign of his new ambition's progress.

I'd love to see Drippy as a MOH recipient just for a ceremony where he and demons find out for the first time what its privileges are... :twisted: (Though Drippy would probably be informed of the privileges beforehand, considering that SSG Giunta was notified of his impending award beforehand.)
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One point to HK: Michael is immortal. He can afford to wait five or ten years while the historians sort out who did what and when. A snub is not the end of his world, even if it becomes official policy for many years to keep snubbing him. He's accomplished his basic objective of preserving some semblance of Heaven that he can, possibly, come to rule some day. He'd be wise (though it would hurt his pride) to accept that as good enough.
Agreed regarding these points, but the part of hurt pride is interesting... since he claimed to have accepted "rule behind the throne" even before meeting Petraeus, so no admitted hurt pride there. Besides, his backup plan (if Zacharael's act wasn't bought) was "IEDs until the humans cave and need an angel to restore order." Then again, I could see Petraeus actually figuring that one out sooner and being able to politically push for simply slotting Michael (his angelic and Second-Lifer support be damned) at that point*, so I think things actually worked out better for Michael this way.

In contrast, to me Palpatine seems to have been a figure whose intended end state was overt, open rule, with his minions' legitimacy stemming from his approval -- that is to say, not even de facto rulership would be enough for him.

* I recall the discussion on assassination of "uppity" leaders (and what I like to call the Congressman Yee Incident :mrgreen: ), but I doubt that Caesar would have put his or the New Roman Republic's political capital on the line in opposing this, even if he read the "slippery slope" potential of it being okayed.



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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-12 02:20am
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Edward Yee wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
It's not so much the "not singing praises" as what seems to be a deliberate policy of calculated humiliation.
Now, see, this part I find very interesting, due to the discussion about humans having it out more for the angels than for the demons (for which there was sympathy, even pity) and in turn, being willing to indulge demons' own pokes-of-the-stick at angels.
Yeah, and again, I've always thought there was something deeply hypocritical, kind of disturbing, about how harshly humans are dealing with Heaven compared to how they're dealing with Hell.

The demons constantly harassed us, drove millions of people insane using mental powers, and above all else tortured ninety billion people for anywhere from tens of millenia to centuries, inflicting the most agonizing horrors they could come up with... but at least they were honest! Yeah. Um. Right.

The angels, well, they made people work like medieval peasants and didn't rescue anywhere near enough people from the demons as they should have. But they lied about being willing to rescue people, the bastards! Yeah. Um. Right.

It just seems so... out of whack to me, that it suggests an underlying social attitude that's profoundly unhealthy- one more motivated by "FUCK YOU ANGELS!" than by any kind of logical, thought-out policy. Or any real desire to punish war crimes justly.

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One point to HK: Michael is immortal. He can afford to wait five or ten years while the historians sort out who did what and when. A snub is not the end of his world, even if it becomes official policy for many years to keep snubbing him. He's accomplished his basic objective of preserving some semblance of Heaven that he can, possibly, come to rule some day. He'd be wise (though it would hurt his pride) to accept that as good enough.
Agreed regarding these points, but the part of hurt pride is interesting... since he claimed to have accepted "rule behind the throne" even before meeting Petraeus, so no admitted hurt pride there.
Well, to be honest Michael is still nowhere near ready to accept any setback at the hand of a human without hurt pride, but we know he can live with it.

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Besides, his backup plan (if Zacharael's act wasn't bought) was "IEDs until the humans cave and need an angel to restore order." Then again, I could see Petraeus actually figuring that one out sooner and being able to politically push for simply slotting Michael (his angelic and Second-Lifer support be damned) at that point*, so I think things actually worked out better for Michael this way.
Yeah. Fighting Petraeus with an insurgency campaign... I really don't think that's gonna end well for Michael. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-14 02:05am
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I think it might be the betrayal part that gets people; remember, Heaven kicked off the war. People were worshipping God and thinking of him as, you know, a benevolent fatherly figure who loved them, and when he finally shows up it's to declare he has decided to murder us and cast us into hell. Sure, Satan and Friends were total bastards to us, but that's not a new thing. Getting betrayed by a sky-daddy who decided we weren't worth the time has some heft to it.

Besides, public opinion only changed towards the demons when they went from "scary" to "pathetic"; the best they pulled off were two fairly large attacks on cities commited by an evil overlord we can all blame, overshadowed by images of hundreds of thousands of dead demons crushed under human tanks where they tried to attack armour with bronze spears. By contrast, Angels never made that switch; two cities got nuked, millions displaced by hurricanes, and a whole lot of folks got dead thanks to the beasts and Uriel. We didn't beat them until they stopped looking like an enemy, they surrendered instead. They gave far worst and got off a lot more lightly.



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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-14 08:28am
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Best analogy for why there is so much more enmity towards heaven than hell that I can think of is this:

Imagine you're a schoolboy, (or schoolgirl, whatever applies.) and there are two other kids: The first is a mean bully who has beat you up for lunch money four days a week for as long as you can remember, and then there's the cool kid that you buy lunch one day a week in order to impress so you can hang out with him and be cool too. So let's say one summer you enroll in a martial arts class and over three months you become a lean, mean asskicking machine.

So the first day of school rolls around in September and you find out a couple of things: One, the bully isn't so scary anymore, now that you are completely capable of not just defending yourself from him, but kicking his ass when he attempts to do so. Furthermore, after the righteous ass-kicking you find out that he not only comes from an abusive home, but enjoys playing a few of the same video games you do and that you have a lot in common.

The second thing you find out is that the cool kid you bought lunch for once a week is a complete jerk, and has been knowingly selling you out to the bully for years because doing so would make you more likely to buy him his weekly lunch in order to get into the "cool kids" clique and thus have some sort of protection.

Who are you going to end up disliking more? Sure the bully has been abusing you for years, but now that you've stood up to him he's not so bad a guy, however the cool kid that you've looked up to for all these years is actually a complete jerk.

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-14 09:17am
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HK_01 wrote:
Next, I hated Jade Kim. I absolutely hated her. Worst character in the entire series (so far). At first I thought I simply disliked the idea of a resistance in Hell, but then Tucker came along and I really liked him, but I still hated Kim. This is probably a request that will never be fullfilled, but if there is ever a book version, could it please be without Kim? I'm sure there's another way of introducing Caesar.


Jade Kim is a central character; she has her positives and negatives. There is a danger in writing stories that the protagonists all end up likeable and the antagonists unpleasant but that isn't the way life really is. Very often the "good guys" are unlikeable bastards and the "bad guys" are charming. In fact, the most dangerous antagonists are always charming (especially in my novels; if a character seems really charming and friendly, its a good time to watch out). Jade Kim has a lot of negative characteristics but they're also the negatives that would make her attractive to a man like Caesar.

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the humans tend to have a terrible attitude and if I were an angel or demon I'd probably join the resistance. A good example of this are the Marines landing on the shores and being douchey to everyone, same with the army coming into the Eternal City or Stevenson and others snapping at people who respect the angels and worst of all the way Petraeus treated Michael. Come on, the guy saved you nuking a city of 200 million/months of street fighting, why would you act like an asshole?


Again, nobody is perfect. The parts of Armageddon that deal with occupation show both sides of the coin. The friendliness of American troops and their rather cloying sentimentality when dealing with people on an individual basis is one part of their picture; their treatment of people on an "official" basis when the civilians are en masse is the other. Both were demonstrated in Iraq, both have plusses and minusses (I had it explained to me exactly why the troops are trained to adopt the distant, remote and isolated attitude they use. It was selected for psychological reasons). People are depicted behaving the way they really do behave, not an idealized version of that.

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On a somewhat unrelated note, in the chapter where the first Bowl of Wrath is poured, something is said about firing missiles in a way so that they hit the enemy before they can react and the Indians giving the Americans a bloody nose with that strategy. I just wonder when exactly this happened. As far as I'm aware, India was never at war with the US, and the native Americans definitely did not have jet fighter, so what exactly is this referring to?


Back in 2006, the USAF and the Indian AF staged a joint exercise in which the Indian Sukhois faced up to USAF F-15s. The result was that the Indians won big-time which caused significant angst in USAF circles and a quick re-evaluation of the tactics used against the Sukhoi. Of course the F-15s sent to the exercise weren't top-of-the-line or flown by the best we had but the results were still unexpected.

Simon_Jester wrote:
Yeah, and again, I've always thought there was something deeply hypocritical, kind of disturbing, about how harshly humans are dealing with Heaven compared to how they're dealing with Hell. The demons constantly harassed us, drove millions of people insane using mental powers, and above all else tortured ninety billion people for anywhere from tens of millenia to centuries, inflicting the most agonizing horrors they could come up with... but at least they were honest! Yeah. Um. Right. The angels, well, they made people work like medieval peasants and didn't rescue anywhere near enough people from the demons as they should have. But they lied about being willing to rescue people, the bastards! Yeah. Um. Right. It just seems so... out of whack to me, that it suggests an underlying social attitude that's profoundly unhealthy- one more motivated by "FUCK YOU ANGELS!" than by any kind of logical, thought-out policy. Or any real desire to punish war crimes justly.


usagihunter101 has it perfectly; it's the betrayal thing. That's something humans find it very hard to get over. A classic is the difference between the way the US fought the Germans and the Japanese; there was a white-hot hatred of the Japanese that wasn't there when fighting the Germans and what set it off was delivering the declaration of war after Pearl Harbor. Or another example; when we caught some Russians spying on us, we shook our heads, grinned and traded them back for a couple of our people. When we caught an Israeli spying on us there was a deep sense of shock and the perp is in jail and going to stay there.

I agree that logically it doesn't actually make much sense but again, we have to deal with the world the way it is not the way we would like it to be. The daemons were never anything other than our sworn enemies; we never expected them to be anything else but when we actually fought them, they weren't terrifying, they were pathetic even ridiculous. Yet, they stood up and fought tanks with bronze tridents and died literally in their millions mostly without even understanding what it was that was killing them. Also, we as humans saw that. We saw the films of their dead covering square mile after square mile where they had been cut down wholesale. There is a model for that and that is The Great War, the BBC television series. Much of the slaughter of the daemons was taken from reactions to The Great War where human infantry was cut down by artillery fire in exactly the same way as the daemons were cut down (the parallel was quite deliberate). The daemons may have been our blood enemies but they paid for that with their own blood in huge quantities and were massively defeated. The psychological shock of the mass killing in WW1 was very profound and I tried to reproduce that.

Of course, when that defeat had been inflicted, we found out that most daemons were just as much victims of their power structure as we were (another thing that never changes). And so, a philosophical question is posed; to what extent was the average daemon, a serf-farmer, to blame for the atrocities committed by a power structure in which they were simply the powerless cannon-fodder?

The Angels, on the other hand, were supposed to be our saviors and protectors, they were supposed to be our deep and trusted friends and guardians. Instead, they were just as much our enemies as the daemons were, they just hid it. That's the kind of betrayal humans take really seriously regardless of cultural background. In military terms, they never took the beating the daemons did, as soon as they started to lose, they threw in the towel. The difference is very stark and goes right to the heart of the kind of people we humans are. The idea of respecting a courageous opponent is as deeply embedded in us as is contempt and hatred for those who betray us.

After all, think of the way an honorable opponent was treated in medieval times as opposed to the fate awaiting a traitor. The world has changed a hell of a lot since then but we actually haven't. That's another underlying story in TSW; human ability to make war and to kill has increased out of all recognition over the last 150 years but we are still the same basic people that we were 1500 years ago. That dichotomy and the extent to which our technological development has outrun our inherent abilities and attitudes is actually a serious problem.

Yes, it is disturbing. It's supposed to be. One of the functions of novels is to make us look at situations froma slightly different light and question something we take for granted. We (almost all of us) accept the "he was a real bastard but he was a brave bastard" meme for granted (take Baron von Richthoven for example). In TSW:A we had that attitude taken to its extreme; the daemons were incredibly brave and they paid a hideous cost for that bravery, one which we inflicted without breaking into a sweat. How should that affect our attitude towards them? And in TSW:P we found that the angels we had been taught to regard as our benefactors were in fact exploiters and oppressors. How should that affect our attitude towards them?



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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-14 12:11pm
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Stuart wrote:
HK_01 wrote:
Next, I hated Jade Kim. I absolutely hated her. Worst character in the entire series (so far). At first I thought I simply disliked the idea of a resistance in Hell, but then Tucker came along and I really liked him, but I still hated Kim. This is probably a request that will never be fullfilled, but if there is ever a book version, could it please be without Kim? I'm sure there's another way of introducing Caesar.
Jade Kim is a central character; she has her positives and negatives. There is a danger in writing stories that the protagonists all end up likeable and the antagonists unpleasant but that isn't the way life really is. Very often the "good guys" are unlikeable bastards and the "bad guys" are charming. In fact, the most dangerous antagonists are always charming (especially in my novels; if a character seems really charming and friendly, its a good time to watch out). Jade Kim has a lot of negative characteristics but they're also the negatives that would make her attractive to a man like Caesar.
I find myself wondering what HK's take on the character is, precisely. Kim didn't strike me as being either likeable or unlikeable; honestly, she seemed sort of flat to me.

Quote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
It just seems so... out of whack to me, that it suggests an underlying social attitude that's profoundly unhealthy- one more motivated by "FUCK YOU ANGELS!" than by any kind of logical, thought-out policy. Or any real desire to punish war crimes justly.
usagihunter101 has it perfectly; it's the betrayal thing. That's something humans find it very hard to get over...
See, I know that. This does not stop me from saying:

"...it suggests an underlying social attitude that's profoundly unhealthy- one more motivated by "FUCK YOU ANGELS!" than by any kind of logical, thought-out policy."

I would bet on this having negative long term consequences; it would have been interesting to see more along those lines, though you did allude to part of it in Pantheocide and no doubt have further plans along those lines if the third volume ever comes out of the works.

In Hell, the problem will come from the enormous numbers of Second Lifers who see us as coddling the demons- this, yes, you already have addressed, but it's liable to get much worse before it gets better. That perception will only be amplified if First Life humans don't go out of their way to publicize an effort to punish the demons specifically responsible for great atrocities against the Second Life population. And the Second Lifers in Hell make up the single largest demographic in the multiverse at the moment, so this problem is going to get big as time goes on.

In Heaven, the problem comes from the entire civilian population, human and angel alike. The medieval-vintage humans in Heaven believe (not without reason) that they owe a great deal to their angelic overlords, and react very badly to the lese-majeste being offered them by human occupation troops- you've already shown this reaction with rock-throwing incidents, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

So by having a strong policy of reconciliation in Hell, and an equally strong policy of contemptuous domination in Heaven, we set ourselves up for trouble we might be able to avoid or mitigate by stopping and thinking over the policy.

And no, it is not necessary to repeat at this point that "this is how the world is, not how it should be." I know people get into predictable trouble they could have avoided by thinking over the consequences of their actions. But I think that when we see this happening, it's not enough to say that they make a mistake because they are "being human." The fact of the mistake should not be overlooked simply because it's easy to understand how it was made; that's too good a way to avoid learning important lessons.

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-14 12:47pm
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You know, it would almost be fun to do a series of fake New York Times editorial articles on this topic. (And you know they'd be the ones to do it, for better or worse.)

Also, I'm not sure if the example of Japan was quite strong enough to represent what Heaven's been doing to us for thousands of years in TSW. Sure, bombing Pearl and then declaring war was a dick move, we were already expecting war with the Japanese and could hardly call them friends at that point; Pearl Harbor seems less of a betrayal to me than a sucker punch. To me the betrayal heaven pulled would be as if Britain, having taken all of our aid in order to protect themselves from Hitler, surrendered and joined the Axis powers in 1941, and had been planning on doing so for as long as we'd been helping them.

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-14 02:20pm
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It's a point someone ought to make in-setting, yes: that we are setting ourselves up for trouble by being (relatively) so soft on the demons and (relatively) so harsh on the angels postwar.

I'm not sure I'd care to review the storyline to the point of feeling competent to write those editorials, though; it would take me hours I'd been planning to spend on other things at this point.

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-14 07:00pm
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I don't think we are, actually. The demons have been markedly helpful and cooperative, voluntarily assimilating human ideas and standards of behavior, and are ruled by a puppet. It makes sense that they'd be given more lenient treatment than the angels, who have done none of these things (barring a few of Michael's people) and are unlikely to in the near future.



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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-14 07:59pm
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It gets worse -- in effect, those few of Michael's people got kicked out for "doing those things" WITHOUT us imposing it on them.

As for "the problem with appearing to treat demons too leniently in Hell"... I'm guessing that the New Roman Republic is the exception and not the rule, not least because it relies so strongly on modern (1980s-onward?) Second-Lifers, though you have Aeneas and Ori's original distaste for Drippy. (Speaking of those two, McElroy's team was something the USG should have never let slip through the fingers...) As for "the rule," Guillaume seems to be a pretty good example of the problem (if it became more common). :P

At least Voroshilov's place doesn't have that as their motivating factor, but both his and Peter the First's micro-states, well... their mere existence is another issue for the Earth-based governments, and the New Roman Republic an example of why it's an issue.



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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-14 08:47pm
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Master_Baerne wrote:
I don't think we are, actually. The demons have been markedly helpful and cooperative, voluntarily assimilating human ideas and standards of behavior, and are ruled by a puppet. It makes sense that they'd be given more lenient treatment than the angels, who have done none of these things (barring a few of Michael's people) and are unlikely to in the near future.
The problem comes from being seen as coddling the demons unduly, and as punishing the angels more than they deserve, by the respective second lifer populations in the two universes.

Ultimately, we're going to need the cooperation of the Hell second lifer population more than just about anything else. Sure, for now they're mostly peasants we have no real use for, but after a century or two of recuperation and retraining? The economic potential of Hell is only going to get higher, and this is our chance to make a first impression on the majority of its population.

So at the very least, there needs to be a propaganda effort to identify and punish whichever demons are seen as being most responsible for the torture. That's what I'm worried about: that the Second Lifers will ultimately come to the conclusion that even after their descendants came back to free them from the demons, they decided they liked the demons more than they liked their own ancestors. We don't want to be in that position.

In Heaven, the reverse is true. The human population mostly loves the angels, and that's not going to change in the near future. If we want their cooperation, we need to at least make some gestures in the direction of reconciliation.

It's about perceptions, I think, and about the risk that going too far to the extreme in each case (too demon-friendly, too angel-hostile) will hurt us in the long run.

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-15 09:51am
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Master_Baerne wrote:
I don't think we are, actually. The demons have been markedly helpful and cooperative, voluntarily assimilating human ideas and standards of behavior, and are ruled by a puppet. It makes sense that they'd be given more lenient treatment than the angels, who have done none of these things (barring a few of Michael's people) and are unlikely to in the near future.
The problem comes from being seen as coddling the demons unduly, and as punishing the angels more than they deserve, by the respective second lifer populations in the two universes.

Ultimately, we're going to need the cooperation of the Hell second lifer population more than just about anything else. Sure, for now they're mostly peasants we have no real use for, but after a century or two of recuperation and retraining? The economic potential of Hell is only going to get higher, and this is our chance to make a first impression on the majority of its population.

So at the very least, there needs to be a propaganda effort to identify and punish whichever demons are seen as being most responsible for the torture. That's what I'm worried about: that the Second Lifers will ultimately come to the conclusion that even after their descendants came back to free them from the demons, they decided they liked the demons more than they liked their own ancestors. We don't want to be in that position.

In Heaven, the reverse is true. The human population mostly loves the angels, and that's not going to change in the near future. If we want their cooperation, we need to at least make some gestures in the direction of reconciliation.

It's about perceptions, I think, and about the risk that going too far to the extreme in each case (too demon-friendly, too angel-hostile) will hurt us in the long run.


Just adding to that: I think that the first-lifers exploiting Hell's resources is going to turn into a big problem. From the perspective of a second-lifer, that's their place and those are their resources that they will definitely need since there's 90 billion people in Hell. I think they might decide to kick the first-lifers out of Hell, violently if necessary (once they actually have weapons to fight with, of course).

What I also think is just begging for trouble is the attitude that humans seem to have towards the bubble-worlds. IIRC, Clinton was strongly in favor of taking out the other pantheons as well, such as the Olympians. Even if you ignore the war-mongering and imperialistic aspect of this idea, the other pantheons might be far more powerful than Heaven and Hell. Hephaestus for example built two mechanical servants (aka robots) in Greek mythology, suggesting that they might well be technologically advanced.

By the way, has Stuart ever given any hints in the discussions as to what the problems the Russians are facing in their occupation zone actually are? Devils? Rebellious second-lifers?

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-15 02:11pm
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Those problems are detailed in Stas Bush's spinoff story Don't Wake Me When I'm Quiet, in its own thread.

By the way, HK, I'd still like to know what you didn't like about Kim. Again, I found her sort of... unremarkable in all respects of personality, but I have funny standards and often miss things in a book.

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 Post subject: Re: The Salvation War: Pantheocide Epilogue Up PostPosted: 2011-01-15 04:47pm
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HK_01 wrote:
Just adding to that: I think that the first-lifers exploiting Hell's resources is going to turn into a big problem. From the perspective of a second-lifer, that's their place and those are their resources that they will definitely need since there's 90 billion people in Hell. I think they might decide to kick the first-lifers out of Hell, violently if necessary (once they actually have weapons to fight with, of course).
Look up the *ahem* Undead Manifesto...
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What I also think is just begging for trouble is the attitude that humans seem to have towards the bubble-worlds. IIRC, Clinton was strongly in favor of taking out the other pantheons as well, such as the Olympians. Even if you ignore the war-mongering and imperialistic aspect of this idea, the other pantheons might be far more powerful than Heaven and Hell. Hephaestus for example built two mechanical servants (aka robots) in Greek mythology, suggesting that they might well be technologically advanced.
Actually, HRC had a scene mentioning Cthulhu... which promptly freaked the attendees out, since they realized that Cthulhu might actually be out there. Also, CaptainChewbacca wrote this possible encounter with the Norse deities over a year ago. I think the official position at least in USG though is "explore peacefully but be ready to defend ourselves," though.
Quote:
By the way, has Stuart ever given any hints in the discussions as to what the problems the Russians are facing in their occupation zone actually are? Devils? Rebellious second-lifers?
TL;DR version: mainly the latter... but it's both. I've PM'ed you my summary of that. Two of the more amusing moments in that story:
Quote:
She thought that the humans' sexual experiences also warranted attention – they were new to her, and some of the encounters and fantasies those dead humans had in their life chilled her imagination... and so she preserved these memories in some faraway part of her brain.
And (I believe her as well?), addressing a demon:
Quote:
Who shall not know the lust for violence and the cunning of humans, cunning in all things murder.



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