Andy Schwarz

Yes, THE Andy Schwarz (please hold your applause)

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I’m with Thoreau, or at least I hope I would be if push came to shove

For the “Rules are Rules” crowd, consider the lesson’s of Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”  (all quotes taken from http://thoreau.eserver.org/wendy.html)

"Civil Disobedience" was Thoreau’s response to his 1846 imprisonment for refusing to pay a poll tax that violated his conscience. He exclaimed in "Civil Disobedience,"

Prior to his arrest, Thoreau had lived a quiet, solitary life at Walden, an isolated pond in the woods about a mile and a half from Concord. He now returned to Walden to mull over two questions: (1) Why do some men obey laws without asking if the laws are just or unjust; and, (2) why do others obey laws they think are wrong?

Emerson visited Thoreau in jail and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in there?”

Thoreau replied, “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?

See: http://thoreau.eserver.org/wendy.html for more details

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Structures of Everyday Life, chapter 2 “Daily Bread”

This chapter was less eye-opening for me. Braudel works through the four dominant food crops of the world, wheat for Europe and the Mediterranean, Rice for Asia, Corn for the Americas as well as potatoes. He discusses the spread of each as one key aspect of the early modern period, and the relatively slow adoption of these new crops, even I. Places we think of today as being very open to them. For example, despite the French fry, France was very slow to adopt the potato. Even when in the 18th century, the Netherlands consumption of wheat was plummeting as it adopted the potato, French wheat consumption rose. Similarly, despite the Irish acceptance of the potato as their primary food stock, the English were very slow to adopt it over wheat.

Braudel then finishes with a discussion of the less advanced cultures’ crops - he calls these people the people of the hoe and discusses the broad equatorial hoe-cultivation belt. He says these futures are remarkably similar despite circling the globe. I wonder if his European eyes blind him to their diversity.

Finally, he ends discussing how sucky it was to be below the hoe people, to be a true hunter gatherer.

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Fernand Braudel, The Structures of Everyday Life, Chapter 1 (Weight of Numbers)

Twenty-five years after ending my career as a professional historian (a career that lasted one year post-college), I’ve decided I am finally going to tackle and complete Fernand Braudel’s Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Centuries, a three volume series that I could never quite crack.

This will be  a sort of blog of what I learn, remember, appreciate.  Below are my thoughts from Chapter 1 (“Weight of Numbers”) of Volume 1 (The Structures of Everyday Life).

The most astounding element of this chapter is how, in 1967, Braudel basically understands that climate change is the single best explanation for humanity’s cross-cultural ebbs and flows and that Euro-centric explanations of why Europe boomed in the early middle ages make no sense when none of those conditions held in other booms areas such as China.  Climate improved, ergo all boats rose with that tide.

Detailed notes:

Braudel presents an estimate of world population across time.

He settles on the following for Europe alone:
1350: 69 million
1450: 45 million
1600: 100 million
1650: 136 million
1750: 173 million
1800: 211 million
1850: 266 million

He also roughly ballparks Europe as 20-25% of the world in this period.

He asks why the standard explanations for Europe growth make sense when China saw similar growth without those European-specific phenomena. His answer: global climate changes. When he wrote this in 1967, climate change was not a common term. It seems obvious now, but it was new and astounding at the time.

He pivots to explain how in a much less well populated world, numbers were correspondingly small. An army of 10,000 would have been large in 16th century Italy. He roughly estimate the world population in 1300 was 1/12 his own 4 million, and was 1/5 in 1800. He offers that Europe simply had too few surplus workers to develop the new world without stealing people fro Africa.

France was an exception and sent hundreds of thousands to Spain where they pretended to be from Habsburg French-speaking lands to avoid being “beaten up” as French. Hence France was a pioneer in birth control.

Europe didn’t discovery any new lands, just the means to tame the oceans to reach them. Thought Braudel’s map sort of implies USA is a change in status from low intensity to dense.  [Later in the chapter he addresses this, saying one of Europe’s lucky accidents was that they were able to expand into vacuums — North America, Brazil, Siberia.  He contrasts this with the difficulty of German expansion into Slavic lands or Brits/Dutch into South Africa)

 Until 1800, the world was in balance, 40 births per thousand, 40 deaths per thousand. Sometimes up, sometimes down.

Reawakening of Black Death in 1348 happened, says Braudel quoting William McNeill, because the Mongol empire reopened the silk route and thus the intermingling of eastern and western germs, and new strains without auto-immunity struck.   Basically the Black Death of 1348 and onward is the European version of the immunity crisis of post-Columbus America.

Important to recognize that even if the birth and death rates were roughly equal, humanity had the ability to rapidly recover from demographic setbacks.   Each peak was slightly higher than the last.

Russian strength and expansion east helped protect Europe from the waves of nomadic invasions, pushing them to China and India. Peter the great, European fortresses, and gunpowder finally overcame the nomads advantage of speed.   Eventually Peking and Delhi adopted the same and the central Asian nomadic empires came to an end.

And then as Russia moved east and its own peasantry followed the armies, this opened up opportunities for the rest of European peasantry to move east as well, even including the Huguenots moving to Germany.

Go to Chapter 2: http://andyhre.tumblr.com/post/98286976116/structures-of-everyday-life-chapter-2-daily-bread

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thoughts of a non-PVP Landmarker

I’m not a PVPer and I’m really not a builder.  Maybe Landmark isn’t the game for me and I should just see my time in the game as tiding me over until EQ Next come out and I can quest and craft and fight against mobs with friends.  Which, if it is true, will be fine.  And I also know that PvE is coming, as is Crafting 2.0, as, I am sure, are player-made quests, etc.  This is not to say those things aren’t coming, just perhaps to suggest ways to make that stuff work for me, as a single representative of the community of people for whom the existing Landmark is fun but not THE GAME I MUST PLAY DAILY.

 To the extent you want to have folks like me interested in the finished product, these are some thoughts.

Probably I am weird, but even though I have no interest in doing PVP, I could see myself VERY interested in being the armorer and weaponsmith to a PVP guild.  Or an independent peddler traveling around the world with gear for sale.  And I can also imagine being a PVPer who, by virtue of having made game choices that make me better at PVP, I’ve given up the ability to craft the very finest wears, and so when the peddler rolled into town with his cart of gear, it’d be like the Ice Cream Man driving into the cul-de-sac on a hot summer evening.

Just typing this makes me think of a rich MMO world where player interaction matters a great deal.

How to get there?  You need diversity and scarcity.  It sounds like ultimately, there will be lots of diversity.  It sounds like one day I can be a bowman and the next a swordsman, and then next I can probably put on crafting gear to make high quality stuff.  The nature of combat creates scarcity – maybe I can swap my sword for my bow, but I can’t do both at the same time.  But with the out-of-combat stuff, if I can swap my fighting gear for some crafting robes, and the maxed-out master swordsman can also be a maxed-out master craftsman, then there is no real scarcity.  Anyone who wants to be great at both can be.

Specifically, even if we can swap our gear and thus change our roles, if there isn’t some limit on the “best” gear, then a single person can play ever role, and the need for player interaction drops a ton.  Obvious, some people just don’t have an interest in, say, crafting.  I know in EQ my guild valued me more for being obsessive about maxing out every tradeskill skill, than for my mediocre raiding skill.  But the truly hardcore players of a game will max everything they can out.

Forcing some scarcity, somehow, will be important.   Some games do this with skill points – If the points are limited and the choices exceed the points, choosing to max out swordplay will limit my crafting.  But if it’s just gear, then that mechanism is gone.  The way to bring it back, perhaps, is to ensure that every player can have good gear for every role, but no player can have GREAT gear for ALL roles.  In my mind,t his means that if you have in inventory an item flagged as “limited”(swordsplay) then that means you can only have other limited() items in that category.  Or maybe in 2 or 3 categories, but not in all categories.  Two seems cool – I can be a Fighter/Mage (based on the best gear) or I can be a Fighter/Armorer, or I can be a Armorer/Druid, etc.  And of course I can be good at my bow at the same time.  But by making it so I can’t be great at them all, you create my need for fellow party members, and for fellow economic trade partners.  If I need a potions and such, maybe I have the best non-limited gear for that, but for the really rare stuff, I have to travel to a place where a guy with limited (potionmaking) gear has set up a cantina, or make sure my guild has someone who likes doing that, or just wait for Andy the peddler to roll into town.

Once you make this cort of specialization needed through scarcity, all sorts of richness opens up.  I saw the discussion on Livestream saying that hardcore PVPers might still want a builder to make them a cool house.  Yes, maybe.  But unless the house helps them PVP, maybe not.  By making it so that in order to be best at PVP, I can’t be best at armor, then a PVPer is really going to need an Armorer, way more than an Architect.

You can take this further, of course. Different worlds can have different resources and you can make it so people from that homeworld can mine them, as well as Mining specialists, but not offworlders w/o that speciality.   Now the peddler doesn’t just roam from town to town, he might roam from world to world.

The other piece, of course, is to make currency valuable for everyone.  If a PVP delves deep, and finds something a non-PVPer really will want to buy, the PVPer also needs something money will help with.  I’m not sure what that’d be (I leave it to the game designers) but making currency valuable for everyone will also increase the richness of a trade economy.  Barter rocks, but if you want lots of economic activity, currency is cool too.


Anyway, that’s my thought.