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Economic Symbiogenesis

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Economic Evolution Thomas J Novak
Disclaimers 1. I wish to contend that Micro and Macro Economics each constitute a hidden branch of evolution. To be clear, I’m not arguing for an analogy, ​I’m arguing each branch is an evolutionary process; and with this comes the mathematical framework needed to scientifically ​objectify success (major goal for every Capitalist). 2. The quantitative aspects are partially rooted in Game Theoretic Evolution. I do not expect this theory will garner majority support or ​understanding. It is only an esoteric theoretical ideal; but it is my hope that this will gradually change until one-day we have a Utopia. 3. The mechanism is voluntary through rational self-incentives. It advocates for a change in perspective for optimal decision making purposes. 4. Dollars and other fiat currencies are still completely necessary. Fiat currency constitutes a valuable technology that eliminates the need for ​bartering, yielding considerable savings in life’s prime asset - TIME. 5. I apologize to the reader in advance for the long essay. I hope it is "worth" your time.
Key Conclusions
Present day humanity is full of capitalists that have the right idea but are missing some key math. This is causing them to behave inefficiently in the context of their own self-interests. Ideal Capitalism is Pareto Optimal and should be practiced by all; and it should lead to maximal economic growth. I also wish to conjecture that a new Nash Equilibrium is available to our race: Perpetual peacetime under the individual Pareto Optimal Strategy of Ideal Capitalism as every individual looks to maximize their self-fortune and troll farms are voluntarily dismantled. If this sounds too good to be true, note that it very well may have been for all of human-history save the last few decades. Key developments are nuclear weapons and the internet. Discussed more in the last section.
Introduction
The "science" of Economics is not yet a science. Don't get me wrong - micro-economics is just about there; but macro-econ is a totally different story. Some call it “The Dismal Science” because it makes many quantitative claims that are inconsistent with empirical data. An example is the claim that John Rockefeller’s fortune could be made comparable to contemporary fortunes by adjusting his dollars for inflation and real growth. In fact only adjusting his hours for real growth does the trick.
In general macro-econ has a zero-sum-dollar-centric structure that does not allow for input of things like maternity and child rearing - two fundamentally "valuable" human activities. Another problem is that planetary-wide risks like war, (and that which is assured by "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD)), are not naturally measurable in dollars.
Some concepts from financial mathematics and science can generalize economic measurements into a co-compatible theory that almost seems too simple to be necessary. Basic results agree with common sense in every way. Some conclusions are so obvious the calculation seems pointless. Others might be beyond common sense similar to the notion that the Earth on which one walks is anything but flat. The former supports credence for the latter. All examples of human stupidity supports a need for all of it.
Ideal Capitalism
Most powers past through present can be thought cold, "calculating”, and self-interested; and most presently embrace association with Capitalism. Paradoxically, human history, (even recent), is a litany of fighting and stupidity and hurt feelings. These are inefficiencies from the Capitalist perspective, so something must be wrong with these “calculations”.
The argument will start with a Micro-Economic exercise intended to provide quantitative framework to measure just how unCapitalistic many present-day capitalists are acting, by unitizing all their actions in a scientific manner. Any Capitalist wishing to maximize their net-worth will be made more materialistically rich simply by maintaining complete indifference about others, understanding the entire picture, and trusting numbers. Wall Street can confirm this is its goal.
“Complete indifference” means precisely 0 concern for anything other than material-self-worth and 100% concern for material-self-worth. Nonzero concern for others, positive or negative, is suboptimal since it distracts from the objective of maximizing self-worth. Footnote 1: “Others” does not include the friends and family category. All intentional altruism can be represented easily by having those individuals' interests summed and grouped together so as to be viewed as part of the Capitalist’s “self-interest”. All reasoning forward is unaffected by how many friends and family are now implied to be included.
The results can empower all decision makers to calculate in the only way possible: with actual mathematics. The numbers will sometimes disagree with intuition; but the numbers will always be correct. The optimal strategy will hardly change except for sufficiently wealthy individuals. The proof can be seen empirically by back-testing the model in history on the domain in which all success is measured: quality-weighted-time (qwt). The definition of qwt will leverage Game Theoretic Evolution and is discussed more below.
Some conclusions may be counterintuitive similar to the way natural selection favored Symbiogenesis; but maximum profit calls for absolute “trust” in numbers above all else - exactly as exhibited in microbial evolution. Any call for “selfless” acting resulting in benefits to others is strictly incidental; and any less is unselfishly selfish in that it renders this inefficient capitalist less wealthy than maximally possible.
Step 1 - Any political bias about aiding others should be deleted. An “Ideal Capitalist” expresses precisely 0 concern for others and what others think - no more, no less. As long as an individual is correctly acting in their own best interests, they are acting as a Capitalist. Contra-positively one can claim to be a capitalist and act inefficiently against their own interests as many “capitalists” will be shown are doing today. I suggest a new term “Maximalist” to mean an Ideal Capitalist and avoid the need for case sensitivity.
Step 2 - Success Spawns Success. What is meant by quality-weighted-time? The definition comes from the only objective arbiter possible: Evolution through Survival of the Fittest. Something is “fit”, or “successful”, if it results in more quantity (Q) or more quality (q), where more quality means it produced more Quantity faster - which renders it more successful. This is The Tautology of Evolutionary Game Theory (The Tautology). For any evolutionary process, quantity is the metric which quantifies success. Quality is measured in quantity per unit of time (q=Q/t). Note that multiplying q=Q/t with t yields Q=qwt: the metric of success that necessarily satisfies The Tautology. Footnote 2: The word “tautology” is meant in the propositional logic sense. No negative connotation should be inferred.
Step 3 - How to connect economics with evolution?
Micro-economic decision strategy for trading time (t) for dollars ($), (or $ for t), amounts to a “phenotype”, (or observable trait), coded for by genetics inherited or mutated, and ideas learned or created. Respectively: - Inherited genetics constrain every rational human to be “risk averse”, regardless of self-perception, because natural selection favored and continues to favor risk aversion. Defined below and proven further below. - Mutated genes are almost never favorable for a human so this case will be discarded (although this force is quite powerful over quintillions of human-hours). - Richard Dawkins creatively postulated ideas to be “memes”: new evolutionarily viable packets of information, subject to selection forces, as they spread from person to person with varying levels of success overtime. Respectively gene inheritance and mutation is analogous to meme learning and creation. Furthermore the economy can be seen as a subsection of the biosphere governed primarily by evolution through forces of selection. The economy evolves through selection of both genes and memes, and memes are more abstract; but this should not change anything about the evolutionary game theory. After all humanity itself is naturally occurring, so Artificial Selection of Genes and Memes can be seen as a more complex extended phenotype coded for by the evolution of genes through Natural Selection. Any argument that “Artificial Selection” constitutes a meaningful difference from “Natural Selection” must first come to terms with the observation that humanity is itself, naturally occurring.
Step 4 - What is the definition of “risk averse”? The mathematical definition of risk averse simply requires diminishing returns to be experienced on assets like dollars. For example: an additional $1M adds less “utility” if you presently have $2B, compared to if you presently have $2M. If a person is not risk averse, then more success encourages more risky behavior. This is inconsistent with the observation that more success means one has more to lose. Therefore any risk-inclined individual cannot be an Ideal Capitalist as they will almost surely go broke gambling.
Step 5 - What is “utility”? Utility is the abstract micro-economic concept that, by definition, quantifies value. The unsettled question of how to actually do this is addressed below.
Total Utility = True Material Self-Worth = “well-offness”. All have one-to-one correspondence with each other. All are “mutually inclusive”. For example: twice the quantity of utility, by definition, means twice material self-worth; and so, the individual is exactly twice better-off. Diminishing returns do not apply to quantities of utility.
Step 6 - How to define an objective function to maximize utility? Per Wikipedia: “Consider a set of alternatives facing an individual, and over which the individual has a preference ordering. A ‘utility function’ is able to represent those preferences if it is possible to assign a real number to each alternative, in such a way that alternative A is assigned a number greater than alternative B if, and only if, the individual prefers alternative A to alternative B.”
Keynote: dollars are not material wealth, dollars buy material wealth, with diminishing returns, limited by genes, memes, and the quality and Quantity of the Marketplace (respectively qQMP).
To illustrate this, consider how rich you would be with $1T cash on Mars in the present day marketplace. Personally as an oxygen breathing Capitalist, I would view my self-worth as constituting a liability - measurable in my personal subjective frame of reference in units of time, weighted by some self-knowable quality of life representing the quantity of misery per hour that I experience dying alone. Presently the quality of the marketplace on Mars is exactly 0 because 0 quantity is available for purchase. Footnote 3: The quality of life purchasable given the Time and Place is shown below to be bounded from above, although it is by no means bounded from below.
Back to Earth. If sufficiently rich, then maximizing material wealth calls for buying everything in desired amounts to maximize present quality of Life (qoL), holding ample dollars in reserve to spend on future qoL (like new inventions) and future quantity (like new medicine), and allocating the rest to increase future qQ which is not presently available for purchase. In keeping with The Tautology, qoL enhancements will provide for faster consumption of Quantity (Q=qwt). Note how perfectly this fits with The Tautology.
Ideally a good Capitalist with sufficient dollars would employ a strategy so as to maximize qoL at every point in time by exhausting most/all dollars by death. Any argument that an individual cannot meaningfully increase future qQMP fails. As an example: a medical breakthrough for genetic predispositions could yield considerably more time for any one capitalist, with expected returns modeled via actuarial mathematics. Consider just how far Humanity has come since the birth of The Enlightenment - it is easy to see how the not-so-distant future may include considerably more qQoL for sale. (Conversely the future may include far less qQoL if macro-decision-public-policy modeling continues to fail to quantify/unitize the cost of war - discussed more in the Macro Economic qwt section below.)
qQ enhancements, although more subjective, can be substantially accelerated by one talented individual. Examples include Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. All are responsible for inventing and/or producing new things which I personally enjoy - the qQoL that I can purchase is greater as a result of their work. My time and money could not purchase such things if they were not invented. As discussed next, micro-economic quality weights are quality of Life (qoL) weights. They have an upper bound that can be “objectively” unitized and measured by the self-interested party's own frame of reference.
Step 7 - How can an individual objectively define an upper bound for these inherently subjective quality weights with any mathematical rigor? Is it possible that more dollars does not always result in more utility? Yes!
Proof Reductio ad Absurdum
Ripping off an idea from one of the greatest thinkers ever - I propose a financial thought experiment: pretend it is possible for you to pause all of society and gamble once at the “Name Your Winnings Casino”.
Here you can choose entering into an even bet: 50% of the time you win the largest number of dollars you can mathematically express = $P; or 50% of the time you suffer absolute ruin: the casino takes everything of material value and your dollars and returns you to the real world where no insurance policies exist for you and no friends or family are able to ease your loss by lending a couch to sleep on or pulling strings for a job offeinterview. If you lose you reenter the world a naked homeless person “worth” exactly $0.
Four observations follow:
  1. The decision to bet is made independent of any consideration of others, consistent with the Ideal Capitalist.
  2. Any sane human with the smallest capacity for self-honestly could conservatively estimate a walk-away number A, (denominated in dollars), such that if present “net worth” is greater than $A then no bet.
  3. No rational person choosing to bet would play more than once because either they’d lose or they’d win $P and have received the payout they named. “Letting it ride” constitutes an obviously dumb decision born out of the unwillingness to simply express the larger number in the first bet; however, a risk-inclined individual always values more over what they have and so they would be compelled to keep betting. Therefore rationality is mutually exclusive with risk-inclination. Furthermore if the betting person is risk averse, then $A is strictly less than $P for some minimum value of $P.
  4. Some confident rational individual might argue no such number $A exists for them because they’re so good they can start all over if they lose and earn a new fortune; and it would at first glance seem this individual is correct.
Many logical conclusions result:
A. An honest estimate for $A irrefutably reveals a hidden upper bound for this individual’s “Utility Curve”. Specifically if the function A’($A) = A’ maps to utility derived by $A dollar denominated “wealth”, then no amount of dollars even exists for this individual to choose to bet. Mathematically: “Net worth” > “Bet value” => “Net worth” > “50% times upside minus 50% times downside” => A’($A) > .5A’($A+$P) - .5A’($A) => 1.5A’($A) > .5A’($A+$P) => 3A’($A) > A’($A+$P) for all values of $P (The left hand-side must be greater or the bet would not be declined by a rational individual.)
B. 3A’ is not presently purchasable with any amount of dollars. 3A’ may be purchased in some future marketplace, (possibly with less than A future dollars), in the form of a medical breakthrough or buying future children birthday presents, but it is not currently purchasable in the present as demonstrated by the individual’s refusal to bet. Conversely A future dollars may lose “purchasing power” of just A’ if the future marketplace is inferior. Therefore true material-worth is fundamentally a function of the marketplace and cannot even be expressed in terms of dollars.
C. Most choosing to bet would logically express the upside payout $P as a sequence of 9s. Many more would know to use powers of powers. Knowledge of Knuth’s Up Arrow Notation could simultaneously save time and yield considerably “more upside”. Due consideration for exactly how much time should be spent writing out fantastically large numbers reveals an irrefutably objective hidden limiting factor: this person’s lifetime - measurable in units of time. This reveals one of two hidden domains on which value must be measured - TIME!
D. From this it directly follows that the confident individual in (4) is wrong. Some number $A<$P must exist, EVEN FOR THEM. However this individual is sure $A doesn’t and keeps writing numbers out for $P until they die. Therefore $A for them equals the number they have written out at time of death, never having played the game. I believe this is the definition of a Darwinian unfit capitalist - completely inconsistent with the Ideal Capitalist.
Analysis
The argument above establishes a horizontal bound for utility – lifetime measurable in units of time. It also establishes a finite upper bound for utility itself (represented by the area of the “utility rectangle” - see spreadsheet). This implies a finite upper bound for the rectangle’s height must exist; and this is empirically supported by the observation that billionaires are not known to blow through their life fortune in any short-period of time.
So why does any sufficiently wealthy capitalist focus on earning more dollars and die before exhausting most/all of their dollars (last death if family inheritance involved)? If sufficiently wealthy, material wealth is necessarily a bounded function of The Time Period, or the “quality and Quantity of the Marketplace”. TTP = qQMP >= qQoL. In other words, the marketplace itself is secretly an asset for every Capitalist!
qMP(TTP) = Max quality of life, or “max utility per hour” available for purchase in TTP QMP(TTP) = Max Quantity of life, or “max utility” for purchase in TTP (IE a longer vacation or medicine)
Thus on the micro level, quality weights are utility weights; and utility weights are capped by The Time Period. Thus it is the case that for every (finite) individual, a finite upper bound for utility is self-measurable in Time Period-Weighted Time (qwt = TPWT). For example: 2020 hours have far more value to any sufficiently rational and wealthy individual (SRWI) than 1920 hours. And as the earlier questionnaire (hopefully) shows, this is realizable by most middle-class people today. In other words, today’s middle class is sufficiently wealthy to the extent TPWT resolves the Rockefeller paradox. Footnote8: The size of the middle class itself is unfortunately shrinking. This has potential to result in negative externalities for all.
Since an Ideal Capitalist maximizes self-material-wealth above all else, then if they were also sufficiently wealthy, they would measure value in Time-Period-Weighted Hours since they would always purchase maximum utility per hour. This is by definition, since any SRWI has all necessary means to purchase max utility available per hour. (Note just how important quick access to true information would be.) Footnote 9: Neuroscience could use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to objectively measure the Micro-Economic utility unit as “Neurotransmitter-Molecular-Count Weighted Hours”. Consideration for how to weight different neurotransmitters (like Serotonin vs Dopamine) would be necessary. For now, we are all similar enough for “time” to suffice, at least for short run measurements. For example: what is the penalty for severe crimes? “Time in jail” or death (all the person’s time).
Quantifying the Marketplace
Given the average life expectancy now is more than twice that of prehistoric man, the marketplace itself is worth strictly more than 50% of any sufficiently wealthy individual’s “asset portfolio”. Just note “time is money”. Footnote 10: They need not be rational to "realize" this time, so long as their doctor is sufficiently competent. "Realization" will come in the form of living longer, quite consistent with the accounting definition of gain/loss realization.
Keynote - a Maximalist will do more than just maximize present qQ purchased. They will also divert unneeded dollars to maximize future qQMP so that more qQ is available for purchase. Thus the Maximalist calculation includes due consideration for additional dollars that will be needed given future qQ becomes available.
Squaring Theory with Reality
Most already know most of this, at least on the common-sense level. So why don’t sufficiently wealthy Capitalists invest maximum dollars with less strings attached to maximize the future? Is it because that would help everyone else and constitute socialism? No! In this context socialism is Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”. A good Capitalist aims for precisely 0 concern about others, and any concern for implied socialism would constitute nonzero concern. Such concern would amount to incomprehensible irrationality far beneath any good Capitalist. So what else could it be?
Perhaps it’s simply the fact that much of humanity is still measuring their net-worth in the wrong dimension for the inefficient purpose of feeling superior to others with less money. Anyone currently doing this quite literally knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, not even their own self fortune, because they are using the wrong dimension of measurement. quality-weighted-time is the objectively correct way in which real value should be measured, and quality weighting is limited only by The Time Period in which time and money are being spent.
More noteworthy, any human mistaking dollars for qwt for this scorekeeping reason is still violating the prime rule of being a good Capitalist - they are demonstrating nonzero-concern for what others think of them. Implicitly and inefficiently, these individuals are expressing negative concern for others, as now is measurable by how worse off they are in units of their time. Specifically this is calculable as the opportunity cost of not investing more dollars for an enhanced future marketplace, measurable by others in said marketplace by the cost to this imperfect capitalist’s life expectancy, (all unitized in units of time).
Equity Miracle Swap Instruments
Perhaps the above explanations are not exhaustive of the full truth. Maybe some sufficiently wealthy Capitalists simply do not have the means to invest their dollars in a way that can reliably pay greater dividends. Therefore I propose a new type of financial derivative instrument called an “Equity Miracle Swap”. These would be voluntarily issued as contracts from the mega-wealthy. Here is a hypothetical example:
Rational (and thus risk averse) Billionaire-G (BG) possessing $100B in dollar-denominated-capital can now do research and will likely find they are genetically predisposed to a (presently) incurable illness (let’s say Small Cell Lung Cancer = SCLC). BG could use the chancy math in the proof above and might determine that Billions $91-$100 have minimal true value to him/herself when converted to qwt. Therefore BG could decide to start up an enterprise to find a cure for SCLC and use a $10B Equity Miracle Swap = EMSSCLC-$10B, or just “EMS” for short. The purpose is to maximally incent the researchers, who might otherwise just be employees. The contract would stipulate that all equity in the enterprise transfers over to the research team only upon successful development of the cure.
When measured in dollars, the payoff for BG is represented by the performance of the stock, which is greater than -$10B if no cure; or -$10B if the miracle cure is found. The former is greater than the latter. Which do you think BG will prefer? Obviously the latter, especially if they wind up contracting SCLC in the future! But the former was greater measured in dollars? How to reconcile?
This can be quantitatively reconciled by using the correct unit of measurement - qwt. Here is how: the newly discovered cure might empower their remaining dollars to purchase considerably more qwt in the future. The real expected return on investment for BG could be calculated actuarially as follows: Expected ROI = { Expected Return }/{ Investment } = { E(Δqwt | Miracle) * [ P(Miracle | EMS) - P(Miracle | no EMS) ] }/{ A’($100B) - A’($90B) } Where: 1. A’($D) maps to utility measured in quality-weighted-time presently purchasable by D dollars 2. E(Δqwt | Miracle) = Expected change in purchasable qwt given miracle cure occurs in lifetime 3. P(Miracle | Event X) = Probability of Miracle given Event X
Note that because BG is risk averse, diminishing returns render billions $91-$100 worth very little qwt. Therefore the cost in the denominator = A’($100B) - A’($90B) constitutes a very small amount of qwt, rendering the expected ROI very large, even for relatively small changes to P(Miracle). Obviously the lawyers could tinker with the terms of the contract. Finally note that society is incidentally made better off if the cure is found.
Macro-Economic qwt
Please now consider the benefit of a qwt-centric model from a Macro-Economic standpoint in the context of the Doomsday Clock, where as always, economics can objectively measure value (or “GDP”) in units of quality-weighted-time. On this Macro scale, the quantity unit will be "Healthy Human Hours", calculated as always by multiplying quality weights of presently healthy humans, with units of time, where any human is healthy if he/she produces more future human hours. Note how naturally maternity and child-raising now fit into GDP.
This may also help resolve the argument over which crimes should be punishable with incarceration - specifically only crimes where the individual is deemed likely to contribute less negative future qwt to GDP when in jail vs when out of jail. Also there is a natural extension of this for the death penalty, although I do not wish to make such moral judgements. Footnote 10: Any argument that population overgrowth leads to mass death is correct. Policy models need only step back and estimate healthy human hours in the more distant future. Calculus can be used to model public policy decisions from present-day infinitely far into the future and compare infinite relativities for different policy options.
Also consider that actuarial modeling could be used to objectively estimate the cost of disinformation posed to every Capitalist on the planet, measurable of course, in units of time. Specifically calculated as expected changes to Humanity’s Expectation of Life on the Doomsday Clock, plus individual life expectancy given Midnight, times the probability of midnight. Also observe the need and means for due discount in modeling the "decrease" in the future qQMP (which might include radiation).
The Emergence of Economic Symbiogenesis
Try to arrive at the conclusion any good Capitalist must. Here is a hint - genetic Symbiogenesis resulted in the planetary-wide cooperation of all plant and animal life to regulate Earth’s Oxygen concentration. Note the immense success is, of course, measured in qwt. Weighting in this context needs to satisfy the same tautology as always. Therefore the final answer on this Mega-Macro scale comes in organism-count-weighted units of time. This is the current game strategy that genetic Evolution has concluded on Earth to date. It came from pitting individual selfish microbial interests against one another in the 0-rules game of survival of the fittest. The result is the current marriage between the Plant and Animal Kingdoms! (Like all great marriages there are still a few mentionable skirmishes.)
Also observe the micro-macro relational analogue between Chloroplasts and Mitochondria with Plants and Animals. Consider how this might analogize individual decision making with the marketplace as a whole.
If you are religious, consider just how correct this implies your understanding of God’s wish for the general wellbeing of every individual to be.
My conclusion is that there is a trail of breadcrumbs for our species to follow and we’ve had the right idea all along. We’ve just been doing the math wrong. Now every decision maker can better understand how to measure their own self-fortune and get to growing it faster!
Also interesting is the game theoretic argument for why every person must be allowed full forgiveness - it is the only way world leaders who are concerned for their own wellbeing could possibly embrace such a model. Astonishingly full forgiveness is 100% consistent with every major religion’s claim of what God hopes all of us can achieve. In economics, any desire for revenge can now be seen as The Sunk Cost Fallacy, measurable as always in units of qwt.
Finally, I wish to conjecture that a new Nash Equilibrium is available to our race: Perpetual peacetime under the individual Pareto Optimal Strategy of Ideal Capitalism as every individual looks to maximize their self-fortune and troll farms are voluntarily dismantled. If this sounds too good to be true, note that it very well may have been for all of human-history save the last few decades.
Key Technological Developments 1. The advent of nuclear weapons which align all of humanity's interests in a way which never used to exist. Even survivors of a nuclear war will be far worse off, now as measurable by decreases to the quality and Quantity of any future radioactive marketplace. Less qwt for purchase! 2. The advent of the internet renders information around the globe nearly free and instantaneous. If we can learn to be more self-interested, the only conclusion which rationally follows is to dismantle all troll farms for the simple purpose of maximizing Macro Time until Doomsday. The New Nash Equilibrium available to our race could be quantitatively modeled with actuarial techniques, and the optimal solution is to push Midnight infinitely far into the future by allowing every rational decision maker the means to make rational decisions with 100% true information. The internet sets up a worldwide analogy with our nervous system.
Footnote 11 - The Micro-Economic Model is now consistent with John Lennon's definition of life success: happiness. When asked what he wanted to “be” when he grew up, John responded "happy". John’s teacher thought he misunderstood the question. If John's teacher had instead followed up with the question to quantify: "How happy do you want to be?" - John could have replied: "as happy as possible for all my years.”
Footnote 12 - Warren Buffet's advice to "do what you love so you never work a day in your life" is quantified naturally by the model. I hope that more will start to take this advice. The qwt-centric-micro-model shows they will quite literally be made richer as a result. Given that richer people tend to contribute more to GDP, society will be made incidentally better off as a result. Star Trek almost had it but missed two words: “we work to better ourselves, and incidentally, the rest of mankind”.
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Economic Symbiogenesis

Visuals
KEYNOTE - Below includes an original proof that for every rational individual, The Von Neumann-Morgenstern Utility Function is bounded from above. The proof starts below: “Proof Reductio ad Absurdum”.
Economic Symbiogenesis
Thomas J Novak
Disclaimers 1. I wish to contend that Micro and Macro Economics each constitute a hidden branch of evolution. To be clear, I’m not arguing for an analogy, ​I’m arguing each branch is an evolutionary process; and with this comes the mathematical framework needed to scientifically ​objectify success (major goal for every Capitalist). 2. The quantitative aspects are partially rooted in Game Theoretic Evolution. I do not expect this theory will garner majority support or ​understanding. It is only an esoteric theoretical ideal; but it is my hope that this will gradually change until one-day we have a Utopia. 3. The mechanism is voluntary through rational self-incentives. It advocates for a change in perspective for optimal decision making purposes. 4. Dollars and other fiat currencies are still completely necessary. Fiat currency constitutes a valuable technology that eliminates the need for ​bartering, yielding considerable savings in life’s prime asset - TIME. 5. I apologize to the reader in advance for the long essay. I hope it is "worth" your time.
Key Conclusions
Present day humanity is full of capitalists that have the right idea but are missing some key math. This is causing them to behave inefficiently in the context of their own self-interests. Ideal Capitalism is Pareto Optimal and should be practiced by all; and it should lead to maximal economic growth. I also wish to conjecture that a new Nash Equilibrium is available to our race: Perpetual peacetime under the individual Pareto Optimal Strategy of Ideal Capitalism as every individual looks to maximize their self-fortune and troll farms are voluntarily dismantled. If this sounds too good to be true, note that it very well may have been for all of human-history save the last few decades. Key developments are nuclear weapons and the internet. Discussed more in the last section.
Introduction
The "science" of Economics is not yet a science. Don't get me wrong - micro-economics is just about there; but macro-econ is a totally different story. Some call it “The Dismal Science” because it makes many quantitative claims that are inconsistent with empirical data. An example is the claim that John Rockefeller’s fortune could be made comparable to contemporary fortunes by adjusting his dollars for inflation and real growth. In fact only adjusting his hours for real growth does the trick.
In general macro-econ has a zero-sum-dollar-centric structure that does not allow for input of things like maternity and child rearing - two fundamentally "valuable" human activities. Another problem is that planetary-wide risks like war, (and that which is assured by "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD)), are not naturally measurable in dollars.
Some concepts from financial mathematics and science can generalize economic measurements into a co-compatible theory that almost seems too simple to be necessary. Basic results agree with common sense in every way. Some conclusions are so obvious the calculation seems pointless. Others might be beyond common sense similar to the notion that the Earth on which one walks is anything but flat. The former supports credence for the latter. All examples of human stupidity supports a need for all of it.
Ideal Capitalism
Most powers past through present can be thought cold, "calculating”, and self-interested; and most presently embrace association with Capitalism. Paradoxically, human history, (even recent), is a litany of fighting and stupidity and hurt feelings. These are inefficiencies from the Capitalist perspective, so something must be wrong with these “calculations”.
The argument will start with a Micro-Economic exercise intended to provide quantitative framework to measure just how unCapitalistic many present-day capitalists are acting, by unitizing all their actions in a scientific manner. Any Capitalist wishing to maximize their net-worth will be made more materialistically rich simply by maintaining complete indifference about others, understanding the entire picture, and trusting numbers. Wall Street can confirm this is its goal.
“Complete indifference” means precisely 0 concern for anything other than material-self-worth and 100% concern for material-self-worth. Nonzero concern for others, positive or negative, is suboptimal since it distracts from the objective of maximizing self-worth. Footnote 1: “Others” does not include the friends and family category. All intentional altruism can be represented easily by having those individuals' interests summed and grouped together so as to be viewed as part of the Capitalist’s “self-interest”. All reasoning forward is unaffected by how many friends and family are now implied to be included.
The results can empower all decision makers to calculate in the only way possible: with actual mathematics. The numbers will sometimes disagree with intuition; but the numbers will always be correct. The optimal strategy will hardly change except for sufficiently wealthy individuals. The proof can be seen empirically by back-testing the model in history on the domain in which all success is measured: quality-weighted-time (qwt). The definition of qwt will leverage Game Theoretic Evolution and is discussed more below.
Some conclusions may be counterintuitive similar to the way natural selection favored Symbiogenesis; but maximum profit calls for absolute “trust” in numbers above all else - exactly as exhibited in microbial evolution. Any call for “selfless” acting resulting in benefits to others is strictly incidental; and any less is unselfishly selfish in that it renders this inefficient capitalist less wealthy than maximally possible.
Step 1 - Any political bias about aiding others should be deleted. An “Ideal Capitalist” expresses precisely 0 concern for others and what others think - no more, no less. As long as an individual is correctly acting in their own best interests, they are acting as a Capitalist. Contra-positively one can claim to be a capitalist and act inefficiently against their own interests as many “capitalists” will be shown are doing today. I suggest a new term “Maximalist” to mean an Ideal Capitalist and avoid the need for case sensitivity.
Step 2 - Success Spawns Success. What is meant by quality-weighted-time? The definition comes from the only objective arbiter possible: Evolution through Survival of the Fittest. Something is “fit”, or “successful”, if it results in more quantity (Q) or more quality (q), where more quality means it produced more Quantity faster - which renders it more successful. This is The Tautology of Evolutionary Game Theory (The Tautology). For any evolutionary process, quantity is the metric which quantifies success. Quality is measured in quantity per unit of time (q=Q/t). Note that multiplying q=Q/t with t yields Q=qwt: the metric of success that necessarily satisfies The Tautology. Footnote 2: The word “tautology” is meant in the propositional logic sense. No negative connotation should be inferred.
Step 3 - How to connect economics with evolution?
Micro-economic decision strategy for trading time (t) for dollars ($), (or $ for t), amounts to a “phenotype”, (or observable trait), coded for by genetics inherited or mutated, and ideas learned or created. Respectively: - Inherited genetics constrain every rational human to be “risk averse”, regardless of self-perception, because natural selection favored and continues to favor risk aversion. Defined below and proven further below. - Mutated genes are almost never favorable for a human so this case will be discarded (although this force is quite powerful over quintillions of human-hours). - Richard Dawkins creatively postulated ideas to be “memes”: new evolutionarily viable packets of information, subject to selection forces, as they spread from person to person with varying levels of success overtime. Respectively gene inheritance and mutation is analogous to meme learning and creation. Furthermore the economy can be seen as a subsection of the biosphere governed primarily by evolution through forces of selection. The economy evolves through selection of both genes and memes, and memes are more abstract; but this should not change anything about the evolutionary game theory. After all humanity itself is naturally occurring, so Artificial Selection of Genes and Memes can be seen as a more complex extended phenotype coded for by the evolution of genes through Natural Selection. Any argument that “Artificial Selection” constitutes a meaningful difference from “Natural Selection” must first come to terms with the observation that humanity is itself, naturally occurring.
Step 4 - What is the definition of “risk averse”? The mathematical definition of risk averse simply requires diminishing returns to be experienced on assets like dollars. For example: an additional $1M adds less “utility” if you presently have $2B, compared to if you presently have $2M. If a person is not risk averse, then more success encourages more risky behavior. This is inconsistent with the observation that more success means one has more to lose. Therefore any risk-inclined individual cannot be an Ideal Capitalist as they will almost surely go broke gambling.
Step 5 - What is “utility”? Utility is the abstract micro-economic concept that, by definition, quantifies value. The unsettled question of how to actually do this is addressed below.
Total Utility = True Material Self-Worth = “well-offness”. All have one-to-one correspondence with each other. All are “mutually inclusive”. For example: twice the quantity of utility, by definition, means twice material self-worth; and so, the individual is exactly twice better-off. Diminishing returns do not apply to quantities of utility.
Step 6 - How to define an objective function to maximize utility? Per Wikipedia: “Consider a set of alternatives facing an individual, and over which the individual has a preference ordering. A ‘utility function’ is able to represent those preferences if it is possible to assign a real number to each alternative, in such a way that alternative A is assigned a number greater than alternative B if, and only if, the individual prefers alternative A to alternative B.”
Keynote: dollars are not material wealth, dollars buy material wealth, with diminishing returns, limited by genes, memes, and the quality and Quantity of the Marketplace (respectively qQMP).
To illustrate this, consider how rich you would be with $1T cash on Mars in the present day marketplace. Personally as an oxygen breathing Capitalist, I would view my self-worth as constituting a liability - measurable in my personal subjective frame of reference in units of time, weighted by some self-knowable quality of life representing the quantity of misery per hour that I experience dying alone. Presently the quality of the marketplace on Mars is exactly 0 because 0 quantity is available for purchase. Footnote 3: The quality of life purchasable given the Time and Place is shown below to be bounded from above, although it is by no means bounded from below.
Back to Earth. If sufficiently rich, then maximizing material wealth calls for buying everything in desired amounts to maximize present quality of Life (qoL), holding ample dollars in reserve to spend on future quality (like a fancier vacation) and future quantity (like a longer vacation), and allocating the rest to increase future qQ which is not presently available for purchase (any new invention). In keeping with The Tautology, quality enhancements will provide for faster consumption of Quantity (Q=qwt). Note how perfectly this fits with The Tautology.
Ideally a good Capitalist with sufficient dollars would employ a strategy so as to maximize qoL at every point in time by exhausting most/all dollars by death. Any argument that an individual cannot meaningfully increase future qQMP fails. As an example: a medical breakthrough for genetic predispositions could yield considerably more time for any one capitalist, with expected returns modeled via actuarial mathematics. Consider just how far Humanity has come since the birth of The Enlightenment - it is easy to see how the not-so-distant future may include considerably more qQoL for sale. (Conversely the future may include far less qQoL if macro-decision-public-policy modeling continues to fail to quantify/unitize the cost of war - discussed more in the Macro Economic qwt section below.)
Quality enhancements, although more subjective, can be substantially accelerated by one talented individual. Examples include Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. All are responsible for inventing and/or producing new things which I personally enjoy - the qQoL that I can purchase is greater as a result of their work. My time and money could not purchase such things if they were not invented. As discussed next, micro-economic quality weights are quality of Life (qoL) weights. They have an upper bound that can be “objectively” unitized and measured by the self-interested party's own frame of reference.
Step 7 - How can an individual objectively define an upper bound for these inherently subjective quality weights with any mathematical rigor? Is it possible to prove dollars can only buy so much utility? Yes!
Proof Reductio ad Absurdum
Ripping off an idea from one of the greatest thinkers ever - I propose a financial thought experiment: pretend it is possible for you to pause all of society and gamble at the “Name Your Winnings Casino”.
Here you can choose entering into an even bet: 50% of the time you win the largest number of dollars you can mathematically express = $P; or 50% of the time you suffer absolute ruin: the casino takes everything of material value and your dollars and returns you to the real world where no insurance policies exist for you and no friends or family are able to ease your loss by lending a couch to sleep on or pulling strings for a job offeinterview. If you lose you reenter the world a naked homeless person “worth” exactly $0 and you can never play again.
Four observations follow:
  1. The decision to bet is made independent of any consideration of others, consistent with the Ideal Capitalist.
  2. Any sane human with the smallest capacity for self-honestly could conservatively estimate a walk-away number A, (denominated in dollars), such that if present “net worth” is greater than $A then no bet.
  3. No rational person choosing to bet would play more than once because either they’d lose or they’d win $P and have received the payout they named. “Letting it ride” constitutes an obviously dumb decision born out of the unwillingness to simply express the larger number in the first bet; however, a risk-inclined individual always values more over what they have and so they would be compelled to keep betting. Therefore rationality is mutually exclusive with risk-inclination. Furthermore if the betting person is risk averse, then $A is strictly less than $P for some minimum value of $P.
  4. Some confident rational individual might argue no such number $A exists for them because they’re so good they can start all over if they lose and earn a new fortune; and it would at first glance seem this individual is correct.
Many logical conclusions result:
A. An honest estimate for $A irrefutably reveals a hidden upper bound for this individual’s “Utility Curve”. Specifically if the function A’($A) = A’ maps to utility derived by $A dollar denominated “wealth”, then no amount of dollars even exists for this individual to choose to bet. Mathematically: “Net worth” > “Bet value” => A’($A) > .5A’($A+$P) +.50 => 2A’(A) > A’($A+$P) for all values of $P (The left hand-side must be greater or the bet would not be declined by a rational individual.)
B. 2A’ is not presently purchasable with any amount of dollars. 2A’ may be purchased in some future marketplace, (possibly with less than A future dollars), in the form of a medical breakthrough or buying future children birthday presents, but it is not currently purchasable in the present as demonstrated by the individual’s refusal to bet. Conversely A future dollars may lose “purchasing power” of just A’ if the future marketplace is inferior. Therefore true material-worth is fundamentally a function of the marketplace and cannot even be expressed in terms of dollars.
C. Most choosing to bet would logically express the upside payout $P as a sequence of 9s. Many more would know to use powers of powers. Knowledge of Knuth’s Up Arrow Notation could simultaneously save time and yield considerably “more upside”. Due consideration for exactly how much time should be spent writing out fantastically large numbers reveals an irrefutably objective hidden limiting factor: this person’s lifetime - measurable in units of time. This reveals one of two hidden domains on which value must be measured - TIME!
D. From this it directly follows that the confident individual in (4) is wrong. Some number $A greater than $P must exist, EVEN FOR THEM. However this individual is sure $A doesn’t and keeps writing numbers out for $P until they die. Therefore $A for them equals the number they have written out at time of death, never having played the game. I believe this is the definition of a Darwinian unfit capitalist - completely inconsistent with the Ideal Capitalist.
Analysis
The argument above establishes a horizontal bound for utility – lifetime measurable in units of time. It also establishes a finite upper bound for utility itself (represented by the area of the “utility rectangle” - see spreadsheet). This implies a finite upper bound for the rectangle’s height must exist; and this is empirically supported by the observation that billionaires are not known to blow through their life fortune in any short-period of time.
So why does any sufficiently wealthy capitalist focus on earning more dollars and die before exhausting most/all of their dollars (last death if family inheritance involved)? If sufficiently wealthy, material wealth is necessarily a bounded function of The Time Period, or the “quality and Quantity of the Marketplace”. TTP = qQMP >= qQoL. In other words, the marketplace itself is secretly an asset for every Capitalist!
qMP(TTP) = Max quality of life, or “max utility per hour” available for purchase in TTP QMP(TTP) = Max Quantity of life, or “max utility” for purchase in TTP (IE a longer vacation or medicine)
Thus on the micro level, quality weights are utility weights; and utility weights are capped by The Time Period. Thus it is the case that for every (finite) individual, a finite upper bound for utility is self-measurable in Time Period-Weighted Time (qwt = TPWT). For example: 2020 hours have far more value to any sufficiently rational and wealthy individual (SRWI) than 1920 hours. And as the earlier questionnaire (hopefully) shows, this is realizable by most middle-class people today. In other words, today’s middle class is sufficiently wealthy to the extent TPWT resolves the Rockefeller paradox. Footnote8: The size of the middle class itself is unfortunately shrinking. This has potential to result in negative externalities for all.
Since an Ideal Capitalist maximizes self-material-wealth above all else, then if they were also sufficiently wealthy, they would measure value in Time-Period-Weighted Hours since they would always purchase maximum utility per hour. This is by definition, since any SRWI has all necessary means to purchase max utility available per hour. (Note just how important quick access to true information would be.) Footnote 9: Neuroscience could use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to objectively measure the Micro-Economic utility unit as “Neurotransmitter-Molecular-Count Weighted Hours”. Consideration for how to weight different neurotransmitters (like Serotonin vs Dopamine) would be necessary. For now, we are all similar enough for “time” to suffice, at least for short run measurements. For example: what is the penalty for severe crimes? “Time in jail” or death (all the person’s time).
Quantifying the Marketplace
Given the average life expectancy now is more than twice that of prehistoric man, the marketplace itself is worth strictly more than 50% of any sufficiently wealthy individual’s “asset portfolio”. Just note “time is money”. Footnote 10: They need not be rational to "realize" this time, so long as their doctor is sufficiently competent. "Realization" will come in the form of living longer, quite consistent with the accounting definition of gain/loss realization.
Keynote - a Maximalist will do more than just maximize present qQ purchased. They will also divert unneeded dollars to maximize future qQMP so that more qQ is available for purchase. Thus the Maximalist calculation includes due consideration for additional dollars that will be needed given future qQ becomes available.
Squaring Theory with Reality
Most already know most of this, at least on the common-sense level. So why don’t sufficiently wealthy Capitalists invest maximum dollars with less strings attached to maximize the future? Is it because that would help everyone else and constitute socialism? No! In this context socialism is Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”. A good Capitalist aims for precisely 0 concern about others, and any concern for implied socialism would constitute nonzero concern. Such concern would amount to incomprehensible irrationality far beneath any good Capitalist. So what else could it be?
Perhaps it’s simply the fact that much of humanity is still measuring their net-worth in the wrong dimension for the inefficient purpose of feeling superior to others with less money. Anyone currently doing this quite literally knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, not even their own self fortune, because they are using the wrong dimension of measurement. quality-weighted-time is the objectively correct way in which real value should be measured, and quality weighting is limited only by The Time Period in which time and money are being spent.
More noteworthy, any human mistaking dollars for qwt for this scorekeeping reason is still violating the prime rule of being a good Capitalist - they are demonstrating nonzero-concern for what others think of them. Implicitly and inefficiently, these individuals are expressing negative concern for others, as now is measurable by how worse off they are in units of their time. Specifically this is calculable as the opportunity cost of not investing more dollars for an enhanced future marketplace, measurable by others in said marketplace by the cost to this imperfect capitalist’s life expectancy, (all unitized in units of time).
Equity Miracle Swap Instruments
Perhaps the above explanations are not exhaustive of the full truth. Maybe some sufficiently wealthy Capitalists simply do not have the means to invest their dollars in a way that can reliably pay greater dividends. Therefore I propose a new type of financial derivative instrument called an “Equity Miracle Swap”. These would be voluntarily issued as contracts from the mega-wealthy. Here is a hypothetical example:
Rational (and thus risk averse) Billionaire-G (BG) possessing $100B in dollar-denominated-capital can now do research and will likely find they are genetically predisposed to a (presently) incurable illness (let’s say Small Cell Lung Cancer = SCLC). BG could use the chancy math in the proof above and might determine that Billions $91-$100 have minimal true value to him/herself when converted to qwt. Therefore BG could decide to start up an enterprise to find a cure for SCLC and use a $10B Equity Miracle Swap = EMSSCLC-$10B, or just “EMS” for short. The purpose is to maximally incent the researchers, who might otherwise just be employees. The contract would stipulate that all equity in the enterprise transfers over to the research team only upon successful development of the cure.
When measured in dollars, the payoff for BG is represented by the performance of the stock, which is greater than -$10B if no cure; or -$10B if the miracle cure is found. The former is greater than the latter. Which do you think BG will prefer? Obviously the latter, especially if they wind up contracting SCLC in the future! But the former was greater measured in dollars? How to reconcile?
This can be quantitatively reconciled by using the correct unit of measurement - qwt. Here is how: the newly discovered cure might empower their remaining dollars to purchase considerably more qwt in the future. The real expected return on investment for BG could be calculated actuarially as follows: Expected ROI = { Expected Return }/{ Investment } = { E(Δqwt | Miracle) * [ P(Miracle | EMS) - P(Miracle | no EMS) ] }/{ A’($100B) - A’($90B) } Where: 1. A’($D) maps to utility measured in quality-weighted-time presently purchasable by D dollars 2. E(Δqwt | Miracle) = Expected change in purchasable qwt given miracle cure occurs in lifetime 3. P(Miracle | Event X) = Probability of Miracle given Event X
Note that because BG is risk averse, diminishing returns render billions $91-$100 worth very little qwt. Therefore the cost in the denominator = A’($100B) - A’($90B) constitutes a very small amount of qwt, rendering the expected ROI very large, even for relatively small changes to P(Miracle). Obviously the lawyers could tinker with the terms of the contract. Finally note that society is incidentally made better off if the cure is found.
Macro-Economic qwt
Please now consider the benefit of a qwt-centric model from a Macro-Economic standpoint in the context of the Doomsday Clock, where as always, economics can objectively measure value (or “GDP”) in units of quality-weighted-time. On this Macro scale, the quantity unit will be "Healthy Human Hours", calculated as always by multiplying quality weights of presently healthy humans, with units of time, where any human is healthy if he/she produces more future human hours. Note how naturally maternity and child-raising now fit into GDP.
This may also help resolve the argument over which crimes should be punishable with incarceration - specifically only crimes where the individual is deemed likely to contribute less negative future qwt to GDP when in jail vs when out of jail. Also there is a natural extension of this for the death penalty, although I do not wish to make such moral judgements. Footnote 10: Any argument that population overgrowth leads to mass death is correct. Policy models need only step back and estimate healthy human hours in the more distant future. Calculus can be used to model public policy decisions from present-day infinitely far into the future and compare infinite relativities for different policy options.
Also consider that actuarial modeling could be used to objectively estimate the cost of disinformation posed to every Capitalist on the planet, measurable of course, in units of time. Specifically calculated as expected changes to Humanity’s Expectation of Life on the Doomsday Clock, plus individual life expectancy given Midnight, times the probability of midnight. Also observe the need and means for due discount in modeling the "decrease" in the future qQMP (which might include radiation).
The Emergence of Economic Symbiogenesis
Try to arrive at the conclusion any good Capitalist must. Here is a hint - genetic Symbiogenesis resulted in the planetary-wide cooperation of all plant and animal life to regulate Earth’s Oxygen concentration. Note the immense success is, of course, measured in qwt. Weighting in this context needs to satisfy the same tautology as always. Therefore the final answer on this Mega-Macro scale comes in organism-count-weighted units of time. This is the current game strategy that genetic Evolution has concluded on Earth to date. It came from pitting individual selfish microbial interests against one another in the 0-rules game of survival of the fittest. The result is the current marriage between the Plant and Animal Kingdoms! (Like all great marriages there are still a few mentionable skirmishes.)
Also observe the micro-macro relational analogue between Chloroplasts and Mitochondria with Plants and Animals. Consider how this might analogize individual decision making with the marketplace as a whole.
If you are religious, consider just how correct this implies your understanding of God’s wish for the general wellbeing of every individual to be.
My conclusion is that there is a trail of breadcrumbs for our species to follow and we’ve had the right idea all along. We’ve just been doing the math wrong. Now every decision maker can better understand how to measure their own self-fortune and get to growing it faster!
Also interesting is the game theoretic argument for why every person must be allowed full forgiveness - it is the only way world leaders who are concerned for their own wellbeing could possibly embrace such a model. Astonishingly full forgiveness is 100% consistent with every major religion’s claim of what God hopes all of us can achieve. In economics, any desire for revenge can now be seen as The Sunk Cost Fallacy, measurable as always in units of qwt.
Finally, I wish to conjecture that a new Nash Equilibrium is available to our race: Perpetual peacetime under the individual Pareto Optimal Strategy of Ideal Capitalism as every individual looks to maximize their self-fortune and troll farms are voluntarily dismantled. If this sounds too good to be true, note that it very well may have been for all of human-history save the last few decades.
Key Technological Developments 1. The advent of nuclear weapons which align all of humanity's interests in a way which never used to exist. Even survivors of a nuclear war will be far worse off, now as measurable by decreases to the quality and Quantity of any future radioactive marketplace. Less qwt for purchase! 2. The advent of the internet renders information around the globe nearly free and instantaneous. If we can learn to be more self-interested, the only conclusion which rationally follows is to dismantle all troll farms for the simple purpose of maximizing Macro Time until Doomsday. The New Nash Equilibrium available to our race could be quantitatively modeled with actuarial techniques, and the optimal solution is to push Midnight infinitely far into the future by allowing every rational decision maker the means to make rational decisions with 100% true information. The internet sets up a worldwide analogy with our nervous system.
Footnote 11 - The Micro-Economic Model is now consistent with John Lennon's definition of life success: happiness. When asked what he wanted to “be” when he grew up, John responded "happy". John’s teacher thought he misunderstood the question. If John's teacher had instead followed up with the question to quantify: "How happy do you want to be?" - John could have replied: "as happy as possible for all my years.”
Footnote 12 - Warren Buffet's advice to "do what you love so you never work a day in your life" is quantified naturally by the model. I hope that more will start to take this advice. The qwt-centric-micro-model shows they will quite literally be made richer as a result. Given that richer people tend to contribute more to GDP, society will be made incidentally better off as a result. Star Trek almost had it but missed two words: “we work to better ourselves, and incidentally, the rest of mankind”.
submitted by tjn50351 to evolution [link] [comments]

OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…6

Continuing.
After the third pony keg of beer was delivered, it was decided that the next few days would be spent in the conference room discussing what we thought was the best way forward.
We wanted dry-erase boards so we could start taking detailed notes, even though I was well ahead of the curve in that regard. We instead ended up with some mobile elementary-school blackboards and a pile of grainy, sooty chalk.
Leave it to Dr. Cliff to go into a discourse on the genesis of chalk and its economic importance.
Bloody carbonate geologists.
Bloody White Cliffs.
We geologists need to punctuate their conversations with pictures, so these would suffice quite well.
At 1700 hours, the official end to the workday was called; we’d meet here again tomorrow. I’m not certain by whom, but it was readily agreed upon. We were more or less on our own until 1000 the next day. I needed to spend some time in my room with my notes and update a number of dossiers, field notebooks, and other items I was using as a running chronicle.
Several folks decided to invade one of the hotel’s restaurants for dinner. Some wanted to head to the casino, a couple wanted to get a massage, and others wanted to do what tourists are normally wont to do on the second day of being a foreigner in a foreign land.
I declined invitations to dinner and other activities, as I had a long writing session in front of me. I wanted to get this all in its proper place while the memories and notes were still fresh.
30 minutes later, in my room after a 25-minute wait for the elevator; I’m updating dossiers, creating several new ones, and updating my field notebooks. Suddenly, after an hour’s work, I notice something is amiss.
“I don’t have a drink or a cigar,” I said to the four walls. “This. Will. Not. Do.”
I was used to Happy Hour in Russia. Happy hour is slightly different; there are no ice cubes or orange-peel twists in the vodka. Also, it lasts all day.
I remedy that situation by finding and clipping a nice, oily oscuro cigar and digging the bourbon out from under my boxer-briefs in my dresser drawer. I heft the bottle and feel that it’s significantly lighter than when I left it last night. I happen to look in the trash can and spy the wrapper for a box of my festively colored Sobranie cigarettes I obtained back in Dubai.
“Hmmm”, I think, “It would appear that we have some light-fingered Cho Louies or No Louises around here. I’d best guard my supplies a little more securely.”
I move all my smokeables into one of my now emptied aluminum travel cases. They lock with the stoutest of combinations and it will be readily apparent if anyone is fucking with them.
I move some of my best booze into the pretty much worthless in-room safe. With a deft application of duct tape, I seal the safe. It may not be the most secure spot on the planet, but if anyone tries anything troublesome, they’ll leave an immediately recognizable record of what they were up to. It’s just too obvious; they’d have to be crazy to go in after anything inside there.
My money, keys, and passports are in the safe deposit box down in the lobby that the hotel supplies for visiting dignitaries. Even so, they let me keep my shit in one of them anyway.
That handled, I spend another hour writing like a madman. I suddenly realize I’m tired of all this and need a diversion as well as some food and, of course, drink.
30 minutes later, I’m down in the byzantine basement tunnels of the hotel. It’s crowded with hordes of Chinse tourists, and the casino is ground zero for the incredibly loud chatter.
I look in on the bowling alleys all three of them, and they’re full. The massage parlor is hopping, although I leave my name and they promise they will call over the PA when a suitable masseuse is available. Evidently, I ‘intimidate’ some of the more demure ones.
I wander over to the bar, now there’s a surprise, and see it’s packed to the rafters as well. I decide to wait for a seat to open up on Mahogany Ridge when there’s some gargling over the PA and a pair of Chinese nationals leave the bar in great haste.
I grab one of the two newly open seats, much to the chagrin of a couple of Oriental Unidentifiables (OU) who had their eye on them as well.
“Sorry, mate”, I said, “First come, first served. It’s the capitalist way.”
One of the pair grabs a seat and the other just stands there, looking annoyed unspent bullets in my direction. Forget that I’ve literally twice their size and could be an aberration as an angry American. They just order a couple of drinks, and content themselves in giving me dirty looks and probably say nasty things in their own indecipherable language about my national origin and familial heritage.
As if I gave the tiniest of rodental shits.
I fire up a cigar, as literally everyone else in the joint was smoking something more or less tobacco. However, there was a definite barnyard aroma, a regular Dairy Air, in the room. I think some of what was being smoked there was more bovine or equine in origin than botanical in nature.
With numerous hilarious attempts at Korean, pointing at a garishly photographed drinks menu, I was finally served a cold draft house steam porter and 100 milliliters of probably ersatz ‘Russian’ vodka, vintage late last Thursday. This bartender that could at least form some of the phonemes found in American English. A few. A definite few.
Since it all cost the equivalent of US$0.50, I really didn’t care.
Apparently vodka helps flowers last longer when they're dying. But you can put vodka in anything and it'll make it better.
Being a trained observer, I rather enjoy just sitting in any old bar, smoking my cigar, drinking my Yorshch, and watching people. I try and not be intrusive and I never eavesdrop, but I like to try and think of what strange set of circumstances brought us all here together in this place at this time. It gives me writing ideas, some of which I jot down in a notebook I always carry. It also gives me a good shot of nostalgia when I look back at something I wrote some 40 or so years ago.
Yeah, old habits do die hard.
I take a drag off my cigar and set it in the ashtray in front of me on the bar as I go to correct another egregious misspelling in my notebook. I have to immediately proofread what I wrote, or I’d never recall later what the fuck I was trying to convey; especially if it’s in a noisy, smoky, or murky milieu.
Quicker than a bunny fucks, Unidentifiable Oriental #1 (UO #1) deftly reaches over, snags my cigar, and helps himself to a few mouthy puffs.
I look at him, the empty ashtray directly in front of me, him again, and then UO #2.
Since I speak no real Oriental, much less Korean, language, and my Mandarin at this point is worse than laughable; I just point to the cigar, turn out my hands and shrug my shoulders in the international “What the actual fuck, dude?” gesture.
He just smiles a gappy, toothy, and snaggle-toothed at that, grin at me and makes a point of ensuring that I see him enjoying a few more drags on my own damned cigar.
Not able to contain myself any further, I venture a “What the fuck, chuckles? That’s not your fucking cigar.”
Like gasoline being tossed on a fire-ring full of embers, they both go unconditionally incoherently insane.
Yammering, chattering, jumping up and down, and getting right into my face. They wanted me to unquestionably understand that my few words of English insulted them far more than their filching of my $20 cigar.
OK, I’m pretty well trained in Hapkido; an oddly, given the present situation, hybrid Korean martial art. I’m at least 6 or 7 inches taller and who knows how many stone/kilos/pounds/Solar masses heavier than these two clowns. I could easily go all Gojira on their hapless asses and mop significant expanses of the floorboards with them.
Instead, I look around for the bartender. I figured since I was keeping him well supplied with Korean won via tips, and he spoke some English as well as perhaps whatever the fuck these characters were chattering; maybe he could get to the bottom of what was happening.
The bartender walks over and I ask him to ask the two unidentifiable twins why they stole my cigar.
He nods in agreement and goes on in whatever the fuck dialect was being used today by the pair.
“They say they wanted it. So they took it.” They ask, “What are you going to do about it?” the bartender relates.
I deftly reach inside my field vest, as everyone concerned ducks and covers.
I extract two fresh cigars; not a .454 Casull Magnum.
I give one cigar to the bartender and one to OU#2.
“With my compliments.” I pleasantly say.
I was well apprised of the fact that in certain places like this, the local authorities often approach foreigners with, for the lack of a better term, ‘Agents Provocateur’.
Like the Westboro Baptist “Church”, they try to get a rise out of you so you’ll lose your cool and either create a scene or take a poke at the miscreant. Then they have all the pretext they require to drag you to the local hoosegow, shake you down for every penny on your person, as well as any phones, notebooks, wallets, passports, cigars, cigarettes, etc.
Basically, they goad you into a fight, then drop the thousand-pound shit-hammer when you retaliate.
It’s all so parochial. So obviously clear as vodka; this elementary charade only raised a single eyebrow.
I’m not going to even raise my voice over a couple of cheap cigars that neither of them noticed I slipped them instead of the premium ones I was smoking.
Thus defeated, I asked the bartender to ask them if they liked the cigar.
“What do you think?” I asked in cordial English, “Too tightly rolled? Not caged enough? Too green?”
UO #2 slipped and said “It smells very good…” where he realizes he’s blown his cover.
“Yeah, I like it too.”, I replied, “So much so, I buy my own. What are your badge numbers, boys? I will be reporting this incident to Inspector P'aeng Yeong-Hwan, the head of security for the IUPGS conference to which I was invited as special scientific consultant.”
Of course, they immediately dummy up and feign illiteracy.
I say loudly and very clearly, “You bastards aren’t gonna get away with this. I mean, what is going on in this country when scumsuckers like you can get away with trying to sandbag a Doctor of Geological Sciences?”
I ask the bartender to translate, but alas, it was too late. They vamoosed when I turned to talk with the bartender.
They left so fast, they didn’t notice me snapping their pictures with my ancient but trusty Nokia 3310, revised edition, during our little chat. Even with a mere 2-megapixel picture, I have enough to show the North Korean leaders of the project to get an identification and make known my displeasure of being treated like some commoner or buffoon.
They left both my cigar and the one I gave them. The bartender tucked the cigar I gave him into his pocket and stared lustily at the two remaining on the bar.
“Take’em”, I said. I sure as fuck don’t want them. “Just a clean ashtray and a refill, if you would be so kind,” I say, as pleasantly as possible, considering the situation.
Both the unsmoked and my smoldering, as well as well-traveled, cigar disappear as quickly as minks rut. A clean, new ashtray, double beer and ‘vodka’ suddenly appear.
“No charge, Dr. Rock”, the bartender grins, as he shoves my erstwhile high-mileage cigar between his teeth.
“OK, fair enough.”, I say, “Spaseebah.”, and deposit a raft of won on the bar. The pile won’t be touched until after I leave in a few hours’ time.
“Stranger in a strange land.” I muse over a couple of further beers.
The call from the massage parlor never came, or it did and I couldn’t hear it over the clamor of the casino. I went up to the hotel’s Korean restaurant; had some salty soup, a sad, sad salad, and some form of funky fish, I think, for dinner. I retired that night in a slightly foul mood.
I called Es then the next morning and caught her before she retired. With a 14 hour difference between us, I was getting up at 0700 and she was getting ready to hit the hay at 2100.
I told her of the events of the day previous, and she was glad she wasn’t tagging along. She would have never accused the Korean geologists of being behind the times and would have probably bent the guy’s nose that swiped my cigar.
Agreed, that she’d probably be unimpressed with this place. I promised her that we’d go on a holiday when I returned from all this. It would be up to her to find out ‘where,’ and I’d supply the ‘when’ when I could.
Everything else was going along smoothly, more or less, on the home front, and I didn’t want to give the local listening-in federales too much to say grace over, so we said our parting admirations and rang off.
Shower, shower sunriser of real vodka and citrus, a quick brush and comb, and spiff of cargo shorts and new ghastly Hawaiian shirt; 30 minutes later, back down in the restaurant for the inevitable breakfast buffet.
After what some would consider breakfast and others would consider a vague attempt at nourishment, we reconvened in the conference room precisely at 1012.
Nothing like precision with this group.
We spend the next two days going over, in various groups, what we think would be required to set forth proper the quest for oil and gas in North Korea on track. Everyone got in on the act, and we advocated for that. We needed everyone’s input to make this happen. Or to even map a way forward to present to country officials. Those from the West on what was needed and those from the East to tell us what was available, and the combined wetware to make what needed to be done happen with what existed.
It took no small amount of doing, but we secured a set of maps that covered the entire country. We were watched very closely by the shiny suit squad that we did not copy, photograph or otherwise take any extraneous information from these sheets of infamy. All other maps in the country were intentionally skewed, with errors deliberately added in to confuse “interlopers, spies, or other personas non grata”.
I made a massive stink and told them that if we didn’t receive the unfuckered maps, aerial photographs and satellite imagery pronto, we’re packing up and leaving that afternoon.
“We don’t have time for monks resisting the carnival. We didn’t come here to try and guess if the maps are correct or if our remedies will actually work on maps that say one thing and reality says something else entirely.”
They hemmed and hawed, but as I made the announcement to all before lunch that if the real maps didn’t appear by the time we returned from tiffin, we’re gone.
And we take tiffin purty durn early round these parts, buckaroo.
No one was surprised as I when we returned and there were folio after folio of government-uncensored maps, photos, and imagery for our program. I guess they finally reasoned it would be a relatively good idea to begin to take us seriously.
We spent one whole day just going over our field geological apparatus. They had a good idea of how to use a direction-finder compass and Jacob’s staff to measure sections. However, they were totally flummoxed by our Brunton Compasses, GPS systems, curiously referred to as ‘position finders’, notebook mapping applications, and electronic data storage and retrieval systems.
Gad. It was like being back in the 1970s before PCs were a glimmer in IBM's corporate orbs.
We spent the next week working to bring our less fortunate colleagues up to, well, not date, but at least up to the brink of the 21st century. We explained that plate tectonics, continental drift, and the precession of the continents was accepted geoscientific principles, not some arcane Capitalist or Socialist plot to undermine the quality of science in the east.
Yep. It was that mindset we had to first conquer. I think we’ve made great headway in that direction today.
The next Chautauqua session had us split up into two separate groups. We decided in a fit of Cesarean inquiry to ‘divide and conquer’. There are two distinct milieus which are able to contain economic deposits of hydrocarbons: onshore and offshore.
Instead of attacking both head-on, we’d focus initially on the offshore domain. Once we had a good handle on what was going on under the East Korean Sea, the Huangai (Yellow) Sea and surreptitiously, the South Sea; we’d collaborate our findings and work to tie them in and extend them onshore.
The singular Phyongnam Basin is the one large depositional, sedimentological, and structural basin in North Korea. It is filled by the Joeson and Pyeongan Supergroups of sediments, which are Cambro-Ordovician and Permocarboniferous, respectively. These are good hunting grounds for oil and gas. Could be elephant–hunting country.
But before we could undertake that, we had to get ‘back to basics’. That is, we had to understand and delineate the ‘frame’ of the Korean Peninsula. In other words, we needed to figure out how and when the peninsula came into existence.
South Korea’s geology is much more complex, fortunately than that found in the North. There were nasty side comments that were due to the relative development not of the geology, but of the geologists who studied each country’s geology.
It was, perhaps, a mean way of characterizing the situation. But, unfortunately, it was also probably fairly accurate.
The Korean Peninsula is characterized by huge massifs, which are sections of a crust that are demarcated by faults or flexures. In the movement of the crust, a massif tends to retain its internal structure while being displaced as a whole. The term also refers to a group of mountains formed by such a structure. It’s basically one huge, semi-resilient rock.
The basement rocks of the Korean Peninsula consist of high-grade gneiss and schist, Paleoproterozoic Precambrian massifs, which formed in the early stage of Earth’s history. These rocks are unconformably overlain by metasedimentary rocks; schist, quartzite, marble, calcsilicate, and amphibolite, of the Middle to Late Proterozoic. The Korean Peninsula is floored by a collation of about five of these huge Precambrian massifs that acted like ‘microplates’ during the aggregation of the peninsula. These massifs consist of thick dolostone, metavolcanics, and schist, which were intruded by Paleoproterozoic granites.
These Paleoproterozoic metasedimentary and granitic rocks underwent repeated intracrustal differentiation, followed by the events of cratonization, i.e., regional metamorphism and igneous activity, at 1.9-1.8 Ga. Sediments deposited in the peripheral basins during the Mesoproterozoic and Neoproterozoic lead to stabilization as the basement of the peninsula.
These early depositional basins formed the locus of deposition that continued on from the Proterozoic through the Phanerozoic. There are at least three, perhaps four, depositional basins in the south which are delimited by structural zones, such as the South Korean Tectonic Line (SKTL), a huge zone of continental transform faults and forms the basis of boundary demarcation between the Okcheon and Taebaeksan basins.
The boundary between the Seochangri Formation of the Okcheon Basin and the Joseon Supergroup of the Taebaeksan Basin in the Bonghwajae area is a thrust (or reverse‐slip shear zone). This thrust is presumably a relay structure (i.e. a restraining bend) between two segments of a continental transform fault (the South Korean Tectonic Line or SKTL), along which the Okcheon Basin of the South China Craton was juxtaposed against the Taebaeksan Basin of the North China Craton during the Permian–Triassic suturing of the two cratons.
In the late Proterozoic, sedimentation was initiated in basins of the Korean Peninsula, accompanied by deposition of siliciclastic and volcaniclastic sediments as well as carbonates. The massifs were submerged in the Early Paleozoic during a greenhouse period, forming a shallow marine platform and associated environments.
The Cambrian-Ordovician succession unconformably overlies Precambrian granite gneiss. It consists of mixed carbonate-siliciclastic rocks of sandstone, shale, and shallow-marine carbonates. Sedimentation was initiated in the Early Cambrian with a global rise in sea level on the stable craton of the Sino-Korean Block.
There was a major break in sedimentation during the Silurian and Devonian periods in the entire platform. During the Carboniferous to early Triassic, sedimentation was resumed in coastal plain and swamp environments with progradation of deltas.
Major tectonic events were initiated in the Triassic when the South China Block collided with the Sino-Korean Block. The eastern part of the Sino-Korean Block rotated clockwise and moved southward relative to the South China Block along the SKTL.
In the Middle-Late Jurassic, orthogonal subduction of the paleo-Pacific plate under the Asian continent caused compression and thrust deformation. A number of piggyback basins formed along the thrust faults in the east of the SKTL. At the same time, the entire peninsula was prevailed by granite batholiths, especially along the northeast-southwest-trending tectonic belt.
In the Cretaceous Period, the paleo-Pacific Plate subducted northward under the Asian continent, forming numerous extensional (left-lateral strike-slip) basins in the southern part of the peninsula and the Yellow Sea. A large back-arc basin was initiated in the southeastern part.
In the Paleogene, both the volcanic arc and the back-arc basin ceased to develop, as volcanic activities shifted eastward, accompanied by a rollback of the subduction of the Pacific plate. In the Miocene, pull-apart (right-lateral) basins formed in the eastern continental margin.
The Korea Plateau experienced continental rifting accompanied by extensive volcanism during the extensional opening of the southern offshore basin. It subsided more than 1000 m below sea level.
So, as South Korea was mix- mastered by a half-a-billion years’ worth of structural tectonism, which created several depositional basins quite capable of generating and storing economic quantities of oil and gas, the scene to the north was much more quiescent.
The North was composed, from south to north, of the relict Imjingang Belt, which was an old back-arc basin between the Gyeonggi Massif to the south and the Nagrim Massif to the north. It is a paleo-subduction zone, full of volcanics, volcaniclastics and other non-hydrocarbon bearing rocks. It was mashed and metamorphosed, and basically forms a convenient boundary between the complex geology of the South and the more relaxed geology of the North.
Heading north, we come across the Pyeongnam Basin, the only North Korean basin thus far defined that could contain hydrocarbons. Further north is the huge Nangrim Massif. It’s a huge block of igneous and metamorphic rocks that weather very nicely and form some spectacular scenery, but from an oil and gas economic outlook are worthless.
Offshore North Korea, there are two possible petroliferous basins. The offshore West Korea Bay Basin and East Sea Basin, along with five onshore basins could be offering exploration potential. At least ten exploration wells have been drilled in the West Sea, with some showing “good oil shows” along with the identification of a number of potential reservoirs.
The West Sea potentially has oil and has reportedly flowed oil at reasonable rates from at least two exploration wells when they were drilled and tested in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the East Sea has seen Russian exploration efforts previously including the drilling of two wells, both of which reportedly encountered encouraging shows of oil and gas.
Onshore, there has been little exploration to date, apart from efforts by the Korean Oil Exploration Corporation and also recently by Mongolia’s HBOil JSC (HBO). Among five main onshore sedimentary sub-basins, the largest is south of the capital; while unconfirmed reports point to a 1-trillion-cubic-foot (tcf) discovery in 2002.
Historically DPRK was thought to consist of five under-explored geological basins, the
• Pyongyang,
• Zaeryong,
• Anju-Onchon,
• Gilju-Myongchon and
• Sinuiju, Basins.
These basins are all located more or less along the coast, rather than inland. This also points to a certain degree of geological aptitude; as it’s much easier to explore along the more populated coast than it is to venture inland. There may be more hiding in the interior of the country, it’s just that no one’s looked as of yet. That’s difficult. Exploring along the coast is much easier.
With 3 basins supposedly proven to have working petroleum systems; 22 wells have been drilled and the majority are said to have encountered hydrocarbons with some wells testing production at 75 barrels of oil per day of light sweet crude oil. This has yet to be documented or confirmed by the Korea Oil Exploration Corp (KOEC), North Korea’s state-run oil company.
Yeah, our work was definitely cut out for us.
It was decided that a series of excursions offshore in one of the few remaining seaworthy, which was a real judgment call, KOEC seismic boats would be appropriate. The one we received use of was an old, decommissioned Chamsuri-class patrol boat, one Chamsuri-215(참수리-215), PKMR-215 in particular.
It had been basically stripped to the gunwales and completely retrofitted as a seismic acquisition and recording vessel. It had been renamed: “조선 민주주의 인민 공화국 영광” or “Glory of Democratic People's Republic of Korea Science”.
In reality, it was an aging rust-bucket piece of shit that might have possibly seen better days but wasn’t letting on. All the military nonsense, except the powder magazine, had been removed and a new superstructure consisting of slap-dash hunks of poorly-welded low-carbon, cold-rolled steel were erected to form a pilothouse in the area where the bridge once existed. They also built, extra haphazardly, a shooter’s room, galley, cold and wet storage areas, recording room, and storage of tapes and the extra bits and pieces needed for a none-too-extended stay on the sea. It was, being charitable, almost utilitarian.
They could not make their own water, so trip times were limited to about three days in length. Besides, they didn’t really have a hot galley, so it was cold, canned Chinese chow for the next 72 hours. They had a couple of fairly sturdy yardarms with heavy winches to handle the towed seismic arrays of geophones, which were of ancient heritage and showed it. These were probably appropriated back in the 80s or perhaps earlier when they first thought about opening their waters for seismic exploration.
They ‘borrowed’ most of the sensing and recording equipment back then from oilfield service companies and simply forgot to return it once finished. Since they burned that bridge so glowingly, they couldn’t get parts nor service when things failed. Being delicate seismic sensing and recording equipment, fail they did.
So, we had to use what was leftover, or what DPRK industries could cobble together, or what could be salvaged from salt-water drenched recording equipment that hadn’t been too heavily cared for over the span of the last 50 years.
We weren’t terribly optimistic.
So, we load the good ship ‘Rorrypop’, as Viv christened the thing, and head out to the wilds of the Yellow Sea. It was an abbreviated foreign crew, as there was really nothing other than upchuck and curse me soundly for insisting the non-geophysical scientists came along.
Aboard were the two geophysicists, naturally; Volna and Activ. I was there stick-handling the logistics and hoping to help out with the geophysical signal source explosives.
Morse and Cliff, the two other geologists accompanied us on the trip, and Dax decided to go with me as he figured I’d have access to the best booze no matter where we went.
The remainder of the team, the geochemists, Erlan and Ivan, the geomechanic, Iskren, the PT, Joon, and the two REs, Viv and Grako, remained behind onshore at the hotel. They set forth cataloging what data was available; from what sources, it’s vintage, veracity, and usefulness.
Augean tasks, both. Not as fecaliferous as Hercules’ jobs, but still, they held their own rations of shit for each sub-team.
Heading seaward, the Yellow Sea extends by about 960 km (600 mi) from north to south and about 700 km (430 mi) from east to west; it has an area of approximately 380,000 km2 (150,000 mi2) and a volume of about 17,000 km3 (4,100 mi3).[4] Its depth is only 44 m (144 ft) on average, with a maximum of 152 m (499 ft). The sea is a flooded section of the continental shelf that formed during the Late Pleistocene (some 10,000 years ago) as sea levels rose 120 m (390 ft) to their current levels. The depth gradually increases from north to south. The sea bottom and shores are dominated by sand and silt brought by the rivers through the Bohai Sea and the Yalu River. These deposits, together with sand storms are responsible for the yellowish color of the water referenced in the sea's name.
Being shallow, the Yellow Sea is more perturbed by the frequent seasonal storms of the region. The area has cold, dry winters with strong northerly monsoons blowing from late November to April. I was told that the summers are wet and warm with frequent typhoons between June and October; but now all we had to contend with were swelling seas, spraying saltwater, waggling waves, and a shivering, shimmying ship.
All the navigation, communications and other shiply duties were being handled by both members of the DPRK Coast Guard Auxiliary, mostly older guys who were of great and high humorous jest; and an actual pleasure to be around. They were like their scientific cadre on this cruise, basically a political ‘give a shit’ attitude, and a desire to get the job done, smoke the American’s cigars and drink as much as we could get away with.
The scientific portion of the cruise was being undertaken by students of the various universities and members of the North Korean national oil company. The demeanors of these characters ranged from extremely earnest and stringently North Korean politically correct in the students and academicians, to a more relaxed ‘yeah, let’s just get the fucking job done so we can have a lot of drinks’ sort of view of the older members of the DPRK scientific team.
It was a fun admixture of cultures, ages, professions, and behaviors.
Oh, forgive me for forgetting to mention our ‘guides’, or handlers. They were also chosen, nay, ordered to come along. Landlubbers all, they were less than thrilled with the assignment and inevitable seasickness; which seemed endemic to those of Oriental extraction on the cruise. However, our guides did enjoy drinking. As we learned that alcohol is a central part of Korean culture, and they encouraged us to socialize with them when the time was appropriate.
Or, not appropriate, as I was being denounced by one of the geophysical students after only a few hours into our very first day. Hell, we weren’t even in the Yellow Sea proper. We started here at Pyongyang, down the Taedong River, over the Giva Dam, through Pushover, across Shmoeland, to the stronghold of Shmoe; into the very belly of the frothing Yellow Sea.
Most everyone, other than the foreign elements on board, were either making the trip in the bowels of the ship; nursing and cursing seasickness; or by rail, doing exactly the same thing.
“Chum it over the side, ya’ blinkered mucker!”, I admonished one bottle-greenish national. “This ain’t the Captain‘s mess, Chuckles. You have to clean up your own spew!”
I was reveling in getting back out on the water and regaining my sea legs. I never get seasick.
Never.
Ever.
Be it a seismic vessel in the heaving Arctic Ocean, a pirogue in the swamps of Louisiana, my cousin’s fishin’ johnboat back in northern Baja Canada, a US nuclear submarine under the permanent pack ice of the North Pole, or VLCC in the Straits of Somaliland; I just don’t get seasick.
Airsick? Nah. Carsick? Nope. Ready to puke in a Hind-20 over the Caspian Sea during a strong local thunderstorm? Close, but no cigar.
So, I’m doing a Titanic scene recreation. Up in the very bow of the craft, standing in stark defiance of the gusting winds and blowing salt spray, smoking a huge cigar, and totting out of one of my emergency flasks while trying to hang on to my Stetson. I am also endeavoring to remain upright, field vest and really, really ghastly Hawaiian shirt billowing in the breeze.
I’m not certain if it was the cigar smoke, the wind-whipped beard, and hair, the give a fuck attitude, or the flapping of the Hawaiian shirt to which the little local geophysicist objected. But he was pissed. Olive-green with seasickness, rubber-kneed but still standing a good social-distance away, reading me the riot act in high-pitched Korean.
As I usually do in such delicate situations, I just smile and wave. Show them I’m mostly harmless and they either cool down or get pissed off even more and stomp off in disgust.
Either one was a winning situation for me in my book.
So, I return to doing my ship’s figurehead imitation and revel in the wind, spray, and feeling of really being booming. Sure, some might complain of the cold, but not me, the sting of the salt-spray or the windburn; but I eschew what most people enjoy as ‘normal weather’. I live for pushing the boundaries. I love rough weather and situations that thrust the edge of the envelope further past normalcy.
Besides, we were still in sight of land. Hell, if everything went south at this very minute, one could practically walk back to shore. I can hardly wait to see what these wigglers will do if a night storm comes up when were 100 or more kilometers from land.
The boat’s thrumming heavily from both the thrust of the Soviet-era diesel engines and the craft’s bludgeoning its way through the waves. Most hull designs are so the ship will ‘cut’ through the surface waters. This craft’s flattened trihedral hull design didn’t so much ‘cut’, as ‘slam’ it’s way through. The boat would then crash up one side and smash down the other of each large wave we encountered. The boat would shudder whole, adding a new note of resonance along with the monotonous one-note song of the aged Russian diesels.
The spray would fly, the boat would convulse, time would seem to freeze until we bashed into the next wave. The captain of the vessel took his orders very seriously. “Get to coordinates XXX and YYY by the most expedient means possible.” If that meant charging, full-throttle into the teeth of the oncoming monsoon-force wind while we were traversing the worst kelp jungle I’ve seen this side of the Sargasso Sea; well, piss on it, full steam ahead.
“Fuck it”, I thought, “Not my pony, not my show. Let’s see how this plays out.” While I light a new cigar and search for Emergency Flask #2.
After I’d been upbraided by the geophysical student for transgressions still unknown, Cliff and Dax wander out to ask me what the hell I was up to.
“Have you gone completely barmy?”, Cliff asked. “It’s a full gale out here and you’re standing in the teeth of it like it was a warm, sunny Sunday in Piccadilly.”
“Nope, not at all”, I replied, “Just reveling in the delights of an angry atmosphere.”
“He’s nuts, I told you”, Dax smirked, “He’d go anywhere and do anything to have a cigar.”
“Not just a cigar, me old mucker”, I smiled and waved my second emergency flack under his nose.
“Figures”, they both respond in unison.
Dax departs and returns mere seconds later with paper Dixie-style cups he liberated from the ship’s one head. We are going to do our very best to extend the lifetime of the onboard water supply for our scientific and military friends. I pour them each a cup full.
“Whoa, Doc”, that’s gotta be 100 milliliters!” Cliff objects.
“As the Siberian saying goes: One hundred versts, roughly a hundred miles, is no distance. A hundred rubles isn't worthwhile money. And a hundred grams of vodka just makes you thirsty. Prosit!” I say in reply.
We retire to the overhang on the fantail of the boat. It’s a sunshade and keeps the worst of the weather out for the lightweights on the cruise. I decided we’d withdraw there to keep these Dominionites out of the worst of the wind and sea spray.
“Rock”, Cliff notes, “You are a complete throwback. You do not belong here in the 21st century. You need to find a way back to the Calabrian and ride herd on the continental Neanderthals. Give them the gift of distilling and tobacco agriculture, and you’d reframe the world.”
Dax agrees, but notes if I do find a way back, he and Cliff would be selected against.
“Good point”, Cliff agrees. “Rock, stay here. We need your expertise now more than ever. Plus your ready supply of strong drink and cigars.”
“Glad to know that I’m truly appreciated around these parts.” I chuckled slightly acridly.
“Ah, Rock. Buck up. You know we’re only takin’ a piss.” Cliff says.
“Aim it starboard. Don’t want it blowin’ all over the seismic gear”, I reply, laughingly.
The trip continued, and I found a not-bolted-to-the-deck chair and moved it outside under the shade back by the boat’s fantail. I refreshed my emergency flasks and replenished my cigar supply. I’m not about to sit inside and listen to the wails and gnashing of teeth of the landlubber crowd, the patter and timor of the geophysical throng as they titter and argue about array design, nor the military hut-hutting all over the fucking boat.
A couple of times, one or more of our ‘handlers’ would venture out as I had the only supply of readily available smokeables and drinkables. Oh, we had food, lots of beer, soju, some knock-off vodka, and some of that faux homebrew bourbon for later once the workday was declared over; but for now, I was the one and only dispensary.
We’d have some random chats while they screwed up their courage to ask me for a smoke or a tot of drink. I brought several bundles of really cheap-ass cigars for just such occasions; besides, I figured one of my Camacho triple-maduros would have them chumming for the remainder of the trip. I had also many, many cartons of Sobranie pastel-colored cigarettes, and many more cartons of knock-off Marlboros I bought at the duty-free when we hit town.
It was chucklingly funny to see these harsh, military, no-nonsense characters walking their duty beats smoking pastel green, lavender, and mauve cigarettes.
We got bogged down a couple of times when one or more of the ship’s twin screws fouled with kelp as we tried to put some distance between us and the shore. Each time, one really dejected low-ranking young Coast Guard character would go over the side with a rope around his waist and a knife in his hand to free the props. I was going to object as this was moronically dangerous; but, again, not my pony, not my show. This called for full proper tethering and SCUBA gear.
They had neither aboard.
Welcome to the wonders of a centrally planned economy.
To be continued.
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

Everything I Noticed whilst playing P5R (very long) (no major 3rd semester spoilers)

So I just beat Royal about 2 weeks ago and had an absolute blast. 10/10 would do again
Whist playing, however, I actually made a list of everything I personally discovered, though some things may be wrong.
If you want to add anything to the list, suggestions are appreciated!! And if you notice any mistakes, please tell me and I'll fix it up a bit, thanks!!
Oh, and there are no 3rd semester spoilers! I only wrote down things between the first day and Christmas day, so don't worry about anything too major in this post djsjshks and I didn't write much about any of the Palaces besides from story related things
Anyway, here's literally everything I wrote down!! Enjoy, my dudes 🤠

The Atlus/Criwear intros have now been improved, with Atlus's intro having a bit of Joker at the start doing Jokery things
The loading screen for starting up the game now includes the PTs logo with 3 spotlights
Palace "distortions" that can be seen surrounding the screen now have a new look
You can now see the sillohetes of future party members in the Casino
The dialogue between Futaba and Ryuji are now actual dialogue boxes, not side dialogue that you'd see in Mementos
Loading screens are SO much faster and the "walking" loading screens now include more people
You can see Takemi walking towards the clinic when you arrive in Yogen
The scene after you cleanup your room, and going to school is now fully voiced
Sojiro generally has a kinder tone
The "New day" screen now has gone through some improvements. The clouds now move!!
Kawakami will accidentally hand you something whilst giving you your student ID. She quickly takes it back though before you can see it. Most likely maid service stuff
The ride back home now has additional dialogue of the road being extra packed at the end of Sojiro's monologue
You can meet Ohya interrogating a Station officer about the train crash
Arsène now has an "è" in his name
Arsène also talks with a "shouting" dialogue box. It's like a normal dialogue box, but it's shouting now
Not sure if this was in the original or not, but Ryuji has a bit of extra dialogue for him throwing the key away (not much, just a simple "ngh" but still)
The "ugh woe is me I'm a teacher and he's late boo hoo" is now voiced
A fuck tone of dialogue has been rewritten to sound better. Definitely an improvement
Sae now mentions what Kamoshida's crimes were ("He was guilty of everything - the abuse, the... violations...") (I think I'm not sure tho jdhdgh)
Kawakami when shittalking Ryuji will now get cutoff as soon as he approaches
While Ryuji waits for you on the roof, you can find Haru on the 3rd floor talking to a teacher!!! The teacher says how they'll leave the rooftop open so she go to the planters that she volunteered to take care of
The planters are already on the rooftop. I'm not sure if it was there last time in the original, but if it's not, it's a cool touch lmao
Sojiro's scolding for ditching half a day is now rewritten a bit +new dialogue options for Akiren
New dialogue from Justine about how neglecting your fate will lead to his death
New Kasumi scene
New Ushimaru question (The answer is Villians, or C)
New student thoughts scene talking about Kasumi
Kamoshida + Ann scene is now voiced + rewritten
Ryuji's search for the castle is now voiced (though it could've been in the original, in not sure)
Palaces now start at 40% security when you enter instead of 0%
After going through the Palace and meeting Morgana again, the dialogue of them going back into the Palace + so much more that I'm not bothered to write is now voiced
Safe room enterences are now all wiggly and distorted
Ammo is now replenished after battles
Morgana will ask after the gun tutorial if you want to directly command him or act freely instead of making new players go to the menu and find it
New scene of Ryuji and you discussing plans to take down Kamoshida + Goro and Sae walking in the background
New IM background. Messages now have sakura petals floating in the background
Whilst you're stuck at Leblanc, unable to go out, you can up all your stats! Studying at the booth helps your Knowledge, making Coffee ups your Charm, making Curry helps your guts, you can now clean Leblanc to up your Kindness (+some points for Sojiro if he's there) and making Tools helps your Proficiency!
Ann + Shiho can be seen walking in the background at 4/13
Some students walking to school now have voices
After the rally, Ryuji complaints about Kamoshida are now voiced
One victim of Kamoshida that you interrogate now has a voice
Students you can listen into now have a slighty darker "chatter" icon once you talk to them. Same with the "whisper" icon
Wrong answers to Ryuji's question about any names turning up are now voiced
After school when Morgana tells you about changing hearts, there's a little scene where you can get the students options on Ann
The scene after you chase Ann is now voiced
Ryuji post-suicide scene is now voiced
Makoto can be found post-suicide scene right outside the courtyard talking to a teacher about Shiho's suicide (Teacher's worried about it turning into a scandal while Makoto's like "bro wtf what about the fucking student??? Huh????")
Ryuji post running off to the PE office is now voiced
Ryuji shakes his arms when he gets pissed off at Kamoshida
Shadow Kamoshida's speech to the Knights after you enter the palace is now voiced + the scene after that
When a new weapon is found in a treasure chest, the person it belongs to will ask if you want to equip the item
After Ann's awakening, there's a little scene of the crew returning to the real world and talking about what the hell just happened
Sae's dialogue about Ann has changed
Sojiro tells you to "Stay upstairs while we're open for business." Not sure if it's in the original, but it's also voiced
Takemi has a new voice actor!!!
God, fuck, there's so many new voice lines, I'm not gonna put them in anymore since there's so MANY. I'll just mention important scenes that have voices from now on
Friends that go to Shujin will sometimes catch up to you and you'll both walk to school together
Some new people appear on Yongen street when you go to Takemi's for the first time! There's a stern old man who can't hear you (he thinks you're talking about Kindergarten), there's a talkative women (who actually mentions a "very good doctor who's very reliable." Possibly the Doc from Takemi's Route?) And a sick man who says he wants to go in, but doesn't have the guts. (alluding to Takemi needing Guts to rank up)
Iwai's first meeting is now voiced
Kawakami will talk to you after Kamoshida tries to get you expelled. There's now a new scene with Kawakami, Kamoshida and Kasumi
New student comments about you + Kasumi
There are new "thoughts" when quick traveling down near the lower right-hand side of the screen that give you hints (e.g. when hovering over the Library, it says "I think I could improve my Knowledge...")
By sitting on the toilet, you can find out how close you are to improving your stats
You can see your friends (Makoto, Haru, ect) walk to school
New Hiruta question (The answer is they're both the same, or C)
There is now a tutorial for baton passing since it's no longer a confidant ability
Chests now have a weird glitchy sound to them
Some items will give you some additional moves (Wind Ring will give you Garu, ect)
The twins will have new features for you in the Velvet room after you secure the route to the treasure.
The "Next Day" screen's weather will change depending on the weather in game
On 4/21, you can see Makoto and Sae hanging out in the background
The "Next Day" screen will also change when you send the calling card! A card will fly into the date instead of a dagger and the sky will become black and red
You cannot resell guns to Iwai anymore
The Palace security will actually go up to 100% when you send the Calling Card, not 99% like in the original
The Ass Chalice now has a sound effect for when you break it
Shiho and Mishima now appears as apart of Kamoshida's boss fight
New question, forgot which teacher tho (the answer is D, or all of them)
Morgana will tell you to work on your Kindness so you can talk to Ann
Confidants will now sometimes call you
Confidants will also have a little after scene after you hang out with them, mostly by phone call
The amount of people on the train will change depending on the time of day
You can get multiple choices for what to buy from the Home shopping channel now
Teachers will now sometimes call on your dumbass friends and ask them questions. Be a bro and help them out
New Kawakami question (answer is B, you stand by it no matter what, and then C, you have a duty to correct it)
Sometimes, when you're at the trainstation, confidants will come to talk to you. They are now voiced
New Usami question (the answer is B, or Four Colour Theorem)
Achievements for destroying Palaces have different titles now
Walking around the Wilton Buffet to get food is now voiced
Thieves Den, baby!!!!!!
Kawakami's lecture about Kamoshida is now voiced
When Kawakami goes on to explain multiple personalities and stuff like that, Akiren sits up a bit
There are more Chalk throwings by Ushimaru
The Library assistant will actually apologize to you if you spend enough time at the library!
New Kawakami question (Answer is Fatal Woman, or C)
The Monamobile will now purr when you rub the touch pad, and will yowl when you press it
Ryuji's Rank 5 now starts with a little scene of you two entering the alley to Protein Lovers gym (probably to show players where the gym is)
You can now also quick travel to the gym when you enter it
New Inui question (The answer is the Heian period, or C)
When traveling to places such as Inokashira Park, the windows on the train can change depending on the weather and scenery
New scene on 5/11. A school assembly is apparently happening on 5/13 after exams. Enter Maruki (He's the Counciler!!)
Maruki can now ask you questions in the classroom (Answer is the Placebo effect, or C)
The Morgana train button mash incident is now voiced
New scene on how to get to Madarame's shack
New Inui question (the answer is Hokusai Katsushika, or B)
New Usami question (the answer is 1:1.414, or B)
Treasure demon fights now have a new effect for when you enter battles with them (not unlike Disaster enemies, but this time it's yellow and sparkly)
New Chouno question (Answer is Together, or C, then Senses, or B, and then "Senses coming together," or B)
On 5/24, Kawakami announces a public cleanup campaign that the school will be participating in on the 30th
In Madarame's Palace, instead of you having to travel all the way back to the beginning to traverse the paintings, you can hop back in where you exited out of
Madarame's security guard is now no longer origami man, but instead it's this weird, blue angel dude with like a seashell horn?? Sorry idk all of the Persona names
New Kawakami question (The answer is Authur Conan Doyle, or B)
Operation Maidwatch is now voiced!
New Maruki class/question (The answer is the Halo effect, or B)
New scene with Ryuji, we're going to Kichijoji, baby!!!
When you unlock Lockdown during the Strength confidant, Lockdown will have a new feature called Incense. Incense will improve your Persona's focus and gives them more strength. You can find Incense not only in the Metaverse, but in daily life too.
The day when Ryuji forgets to change over to his Summer uniform, or 6/6, he will now catch up to you in the right uniform
The students walking around in the loading screens are now wearing their summer uniforms
Ann now wears a clover necklace with her Summer uniform (in her sprite atleast. Not sure if that was in the original)
Even MORE chalk throwing incidents with Ushimaru
New Kasumi scene
New Hiruta question (The answer is the number of legs, or C)
New Public Thoughts scene discussing Akechi and the Phantom Thieves (this is right before the Social Studies trip)
New Maruki class/question (The answer is Controlling public thought, or C)
Not sure if it's just me, but Kobayakawa seems a bit more of an asshole to Makoto
You actually exchange numbers with Akechi this time
New Hiruta question (The answer is Green, or B)
New Ushimaru question (The answer is Coins, or B)
Kinda newish scene of Makoto/Sae sister time? It's the same dialogue, but they're not eating this time and instead are talking in their living room
New scene of Makoto and Iida (the guy who got blackmailed by Kaneshiro and co.)
New scene of you and Ryuji finding the right line to take you to Shinjuku
The two trolls of Shinjuku scene has been rewritten.
New Usami question and Ann needs help answering it (The answer is Smartphone, or B)
Kaneshiro's introduction is now slighty different (the camera focuses on him talking to Makoto before zooming out and seeing her struggling on the floor)
New Inui question (The answer is a Pope, or C)
Kawakami's IM pfp has now been changed to her maid outfit
New scene on 6/25. Morgana/Ann's showtime introduction
When you enter Kaneshiro's palace, a dog enemy will spot you and will initiate a battle. You will be able to trigger Ann/Morgana's showtime!
New technical tutorial in the middle of Kaneshiro's palace since this is the first time you encounter enemies without weaknesses
Treasure demons will now sometimes appear in battles with other enemies
Kaneshiro's security cameras now have a sound effect for when they go out
In Kaneshiro's Palace, there's a miniboss right before the giant lock. In the og, right as you walked down the stairs, you were forced to fight before you could save in the safe room behind you. Now, in Royal, you can save before going to fight! (Credit to u/Theroonco for this fact!!)
Kaneshiro's palace now has golden doors you need to pay for to open up (Specifically 10,000 yen.) Fortunately, you can just beat the shit out of them to get them to open.
Kaneshiro's Guard near the end of the palace has been changed. Instead of Armless Brainless mcgee it's horse skeleton man with weird hat (again, idk persona names fdjdhsk)
Special animations will play for Caroline and Justice when lockdown is in effect
New lines from Caroline/Justine when lockdown is in effect
New Chouno question (The answer is Dogs, or C)
On 6/28, new scene with Ryuji/Makoto for their showtime introduction though the date may differ depending on your playthrough. I got mine just as I was about to send the calling card, so who knows?
New Kawakami question (The answer is Gold, or B)
Kaneshiro's entire first phase has been deleted. Instead, you just skip to Piggytron
Kaneshiro also now has 3 phases
New Inui question (The answer is Barbarian's Head, or C)
New Chouno question (The answer is Julius and Augustus, or B)
New Kawakami question (The answer is The Milky Way, or B and then Soumen Noodles, or A)
New Usami question (The answer is a Triangle, or D)
New Maruki class/question (The answer is Memories that last for a long time, or B, then Infinite, or C and finally Forever, or C)
New Makoto scene
New Kasumi/Goro scene (I literally gasped outloud as soon as I saw him I'm not kidding that really caught me by surprise dkdkshhs)
New Inui question (The answer is Thievery, or D)
New Maruki/Makoto scene
New scene with some Gossiping students taking shit about Kasumi and Maruki
New scene on 7/17!!! Festival, baby!!!!! + Ryuji/Yusuke showtime introduction
On the day of the fireworks festival, on the train loading screens, you can see people dressed up in Yukatas!
Not sure if it was in the game last time, but there's now dialogue of Medjed claiming to be modern day Robin Hoods
New scene with Ryuji asking you to check with people in your neighbourhood about Futaba
You can no longer slide down the sand in front of Futaba's Palace while in your normal attire
Anubis will now warn you if he'll perform Mudoon or Hamaon (Anublis tips towards Curse (Mudoon) / Bless (Hamaon) or Anus reset balance (if Anubis decides to stop the Insta kills))
New mementos rooms
New Treasure Demon dialogue if you already have that Treasure Demon in your party
I've also noticed that there are a lot more Treasure demons in Mementos, whether they spawn in or appear right after battle with another enemy
You can sometimes fall into the ground in Mementos
I'm not sure if this was in the original, but you cannot hang out with your confidants in certain areas if the weather is bad
The Big Bang challenge without the special on is 2000 yen on the burger's second phase and 2500 yen on burger's final form
Cognitive Wakaba's 1st phase has now been sped up. She will now dive down on her third turn
New animations for Futaba working in Necronomicon whilst she is talking to Sphinx Wakaba
New Cognitive Sphinx Wakaba + Futaba Dialogue
Just as jobs can now text you and ask if you can come in, Lala can now text you and ask if you can take a shift. She even has a unique Profile colour!
Also, more people will come in on Sundays to Crossroads. Instead of receiving 7200 yen, you'll get 12000 yen instead for your hard work
Kasumi's ending text (Unbreakable bond) is now different. Also, I think it was a different voice?? It said you gained a glimpse, not the ultimate secret though. Very interesting
Also, there's no new Persona for you to fuse for her and Kasumi herself doesn't get a new persona (I finished this before she even awakened so huh??? Wha???)
Futaba's integration into the PTs is now voiced
The Shinjuku Trolls/Lobster incident is now voiced
New scene of the Gang hanging out at the beach (it's animated, but it's one of the 3D ones with the models)
The Movie Theatre Mementos request is now right after Medjed's takedown, and you do not need to search for the name this time as Mishima just gives it to you. You can still find Yasuo Jochi (the target) at the movie theatre threating the old man
New scene on 8/30. Ryuji didn't do his Summer homework
The Takases (Kawakami's blackmail no-good doers) turn into the butterfly man and green girl fairy now (I think. I could've sworn they turned into a Succubus and an Incubus but who knows? I do remember fighting the enemies they turn into now though so again, who knows?)
Naguri (the guy that attacks indiscriminately and can be found out through gossip in the Flower shop) is also now a Kin Ki (again, not sure if it was in the og but I do not remember fighting a Kin Ki)
New Inui question (The answer is Prosperity, or C)
New Maruki class (The answer is Chronostasis, or B) (I'm also pretty sure the second hand stopping question was in the og, but now Maruki asks you the question.)
Not sure if this is actually in the fight, but whilst I was exploring the Thieves Den, I noticed Kamoshida (Monster oogly bloogly form) had a mini him on the Ann Cup.
The Yusuke Hawaii incident is now voiced
New scene with Kawakami
New scene with Maruki, Sojiro, Futaba and Morgana
New scene of the gang + Kasumi shopping for soveineurs (with an additional Haru in the background!!) (Also, unfortunately, instead of the original scene of Kasumi scaring you (she originally said "Konichi-WA") being translated to "Alo-HA", it just got translated to "Hello, SENPAI" which kinda saddens me but it's eh)
When you get back from Hawaii, if you say "Aloha!" to Futaba, instead of saying "He's been influenced..." she now says "He's been Hawaiianized..." Not sure why they changed it, I mean, it was fine to begin with but it's whatever ¯_(ツ)_/¯
New scene with Ryuji and Kasumi
The conversation with Futaba about Morgana's fissy fit is now voiced
New Inui question (The answer is Money loans for collateral, or A)
If you interact with the stuff in your room whilst the game forces you to sleep and Morgana is missing, you'll get text like "There's something that relates to the cat... I'm worried about Morgana..." (E.g if you interact with your work bench, it says "A cat left paw prints in the dust... I'm worried about Morgana..."
Haru's Metaverse outfit sprites have been remade
After Morgana's + Haru's little spiel, if you check on the stuff in your room again whilst the game tells you to go the fuck to sleep, it'll have different dialogue. It's mostly Akiren wondering who "Beauty Thief" was and being worried about Morgana
Again, even more dialogue about Morgana and Haru on the next day. "Why didn't I noticed that something was bothering Morgana...?" oh Akiren you sweet little child hit me right in the Kokoro
New Chouno question (The answer is Cats eating human tongues, or B)
The Morgana chase scene is now voiced
Finally, when Morgana returns, he'll comment on everything saying shit like "Oooh this place is as drab as ever lmao I'm glad to be back ahahah"
New Kawakami question (The answer is Centeral Europe, or B)
ALSO VERY IMPORTANT!!! If you check on your calendar, you can see Akiren's thoughts and what he did that day!!! I didn't know until now djdjdh (also, Hawaii has some cool stamps?? Stickers?? Probably not stickers but they're cool lmao (ALSO THE BIG BANG CHALLENGES ARE CALLED "TRIAL BY BURGER" KSJDHDHH)
New Usami question (The answer is 20 white, 12 black or B)
New scene of Yusuke/Ann for their showtime
The Sad Oh no Okumura Robot dying wahh scene is now voiced
Maruki can now meet you at the station, surprisingly
New scene with Haru and Morgana for their Showtime
New Ushimaru question (The answer is Imperial Household Agency, or B)
God, I tried to not include that much Palace stuff in here - especially the bosses - but holy fucking shit Okumura is fucking hard as shit and it took me 3 tries to beat him oh my god beware of the Borger man and forehead girl I'm actually shaking as I'm writing this just know I hate Okumura and his stupid bossfight
New scene with Kasumi, Maruki and some random teacher
New Hiruta question (The answer is Stars, or B)
New scene with Kasumi and anime scene!! and WHOOPS we've accidentally entered the metaverse WHAT
Gun Customisation has a new screen and new mechanics
You can also now instantly go to the Gun Customisation screen when you buy a new gun
New Inui question (The answer is Joseph-Igance Guillotin, or D)
New Usami question (The answer is Bouba, or B)
New scene with Kawakami at lunch at 10/11 telling you to go see Maruki + Kasumi and Maruki afterwards
New scene with Maruki and Haru on 10/20
New Usami question (The answer is 15, or A)
Instead of Makoto getting Akechi's number from Sae, we give his number directly to Makoto since we actually exchange contact info this time
New Maruki class/question (The answer is Memory Bias, or B)
New scene after the school festival. Yusuke is missing and is found by Maruki
The post-festival party is now accompanied by Kasumi, though afterwards you can hang out with your friends
New anime scene too!!
Ryuji's phone call about being the shittiest of shitbags is now voiced
Goro's prince outfit reveal is now voiced
Also, I forgot if I mentioned this before, but Akechi's pfp is now a different colour. It was grey before, but now it's light brownish
Not sure if it just randomly happens in October, but on 10/30, I saw people dressed up in costumes! Nice little detail (I even saw a Jack Frost lmao)
You can also find people walking around Shibuya in costumes!
Haru will instead be outside the school tending to the plants instead on the roof on Sundays if you want to hang out with her
New scene with Makoto and Haru!! It's the girls' showtime!!! Time to kick ass
I only noticed until now, but if you hold down the R2 button, (the button that makes you dash if you're unfamiliar with the PS controller like I am) you'll instantly perform actions such as jumping across ledges and climbing up walls
Sae now has actual cognitive-human bodyguards when she approaches you whilst you wander around the Casino (they actually kinda look similar from the bodyguards at the beginning whilst you're being chased lmao)
In Sae's Dice room, instead of crawling through the vent to reach the backrooms, you can just select "crawl" on the vent and instantly teleport there without having to crawl through since the two rooms are in seperate "areas"
New scene with Kawakami! She informs the class that Maruki will leave on the 18th, so make sure to rank him up to Rank 9 so you can unlock the 3rd semester!
Not sure if I just didn't notice before, but there are now people in the Dark Maze
Didn't notice earlier since my sneaking skills are so good, but safe rooms now bring Palace Security down to 0%, or something like that idk I was on 10% so it could be something like 15% or 20%, who knows lmao (edit: According to u/Theroonco, apparently this is a new confidant ability from Ohya! Thanks, worst girl, my opinion of you has slightly improved)
The battle areana is now voiced
Just like Maruki, Akechi will warn you that you will not be able to see him after the deadline, so rank him up so you can get to the 3rd semester!!
New Inui question (The answer is A Share of Stolen Goods, or C)
New Chouno question (The answer is a Sword, or B)
Futaba's Mementos scan is now a lot quicker
Also, I guess now is a good time to mention, but areas in Mementos can have certain qualities to them, such as all the shadows turning into the big hulky ones and the floor being weak which makes Morgana slip through them to the floor below. There's also a chance that the Reaper will spawn right away, which Futaba/Morgana will warn you that there's a certain strong shadow you have to look out for. These areas however will go back to normal after you leave them
New Ushimaru question (The answer is Any Age, or A) (And this was technically in the og, but they've reworded it so I'm just gonna put it in anyway lmao)
New Kawakami question (The answer is Crows eyes are hard to see, or B)
Nee Ushimaru question (The answer is because of high altitude, or C)
New Usami question (The answer is Cochleoid, or B)
New scene with Kasumi on 11/17
New scene with Maruki on 11/18, which is the day that he leaves
On 11/20, (the actual 11/20, not the one at the beginning of the game) you can see the SIU Director's face in the phone call thingymajig
True Justice now has actual text, not just question marks (it says "Cooperate as comrades who fight for justice and seek the truth")
Futaba's computer has now been translated in the subtitles, though I didn't get to read that much
New scene with Morgana. After the whole Interrogation Room incident, he asks you if it was Kasumi that helped you
New scene with Kasumi on 11/25
New angle/actions when hanging out at the downstairs Leblanc hideout
The Rats scene in Shido's palace is now voiced (And the rats voices are weird lmao rats rats we're the rats)
You can now eat cheese as a Rat in Shido's palace to regain Sp
After securing the route, Akiren thinks about keeping Akechi's promise to duel with him again (if you make it up to rank 8, that is)
The Eternal Lockpick is now called the Perma-Pick
On days that it is snowing, Snowflakes will fall across the IM screen instead of Sakura Petals (though they disappeared for some reason. Maybe because spring ended?)
New Vegetables for Haru!! Earth Beans that have the same effect as Charge and Star Onions that have the same effect as Concentrate
New scenes with Kasumi right before Exams and during Exams
Mementos Depths now have collectables that you can steal from
If you have reached the skill Live Painting (obtained on Rank 6), you can ask Yusuke to create skill cards in safe rooms
Your teammates speeches in the Velvet Room are now completely voiced
New ending Cutscene
And the entire 3rd semester :))

And that's about it!! Again, if anything is missing or incorrect, feel free to tell me!
Thanks for reading kdjsjs 🤠🤠🤠
submitted by The-Alpacat to Persona5 [link] [comments]

Mediterranean Cruise (2018)

Mediterranean Cruise (2018)
Here is how to make the most of a one-week Mediterranean cruise and see as much of Europe that one can possibly manage in one week. I planned our cruise to minimize any unpleasant surprises and yet leave room to be spontaneous and adventurous.
This article is not about cruise ships and you do not have to be a fan of cruises as my trip was mostly on land other than the overnight cruising. I felt that at the age of 57, I had delayed Europe long enough and with my busy business schedule, the cruise was the only way to get a snapshot of three countries and six cities in 10 days total, plus two days for flying from and to Canada. My wife does not like cruises, and I was left to travel with Lucas, our seventeen-year-old!
In August 2018, Lucas and I flew to Barcelona, Spain, the embarking port for the Norwegian, Epic cruise ship. It was our very first time on a cruise and our very first time to Europe except for England. I do not recommend August or July for this trip as it is high season for local tourism, and it is too hot to walk the cities (well too hot for me). However, if you have kids in school, then you understand that it must be summer, unless you choose to go without them.
Our ship would mostly cruise at nighttime giving us a full day from 7 am to 6 pm in most cities. That was perfect for me because there is only so much staring at water I can enjoy, and spending time in a tiny casino or eating non-stop are not my kind of pastime. If you are a cruise fan, then Norwegian Epic is great. They have about 10 wonderful restaurants, a superbly well-organized huge buffet with great selection of international food, a nice water park on the upper deck, and even a youth club with games, music, and dance to keep your teens entertained.
Every evening after our long city walk, Lucas and I enjoyed a nice meal after our shower and then watched a show or a musical performance before we hit the sack in our comfortable balcony room. I do not like closed spaces and a balcony room was well worth the small difference in price, even though we did not have much time to be on the balcony. Epic was also completely renovated in 2015, which meant it was clean and up to date on amenities. Always check the year the ship was build or was renovated before committing to a cruise.
Our cruise had stops in these cities:
1- Barcelona, Spain - embarking
a. visit Gothic centre, La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia church, Park Güell,
2- Naples, Italy
a. Rented a car and drove to Sorrento (an hour drive)
3- Rome, Italy
a. Took the train to the city centre and then the city tour-bus to Vatican City, San Angelo Castle, Piazza di Spagna – drove past Colosseum
4- Florence and Pisa tower, Italy – walking tour, site seeing
5- Cannes and Nice, France – walking tour, site seeing
6- Mallorca (Majorca), Spain - took a taxi to Palma Nova beach, swam and chilled
What to pack? We traveled very light with one carryon and a backpack. The backpack was for our extra stuff and NOT for touring the city. I do not recommend walking with a backpack, even less in the summer. Other than the usual travel items, here are some essentials I had to buy.
1- Light and cool walking shoes that were comfortable for walking and cool for summer. I bought a pair of nice leather sandals with good support and solid straps for walking. Also packed a pair of dress shoes for evening dinner on the ship and exercise shoes that I never used!
2- Summer shirts. I ordered some European collared Linen shirts. They look nice, are cool, and comfortable. www.bensherman.com has a good selection of those if you live in Canada or USA. Pack lots of tees for less formal places.
3- A couple of dress pants (linen and or khaki) for the evening restaurant and shows and dress shorts for long walks.
4- Beach sandal and swimming trunk for the Beach in Mallorca which I ended up buying in Cannes
5- Your credit card, Euro currency, and travel documents of course. Leave them in the safety box in your room and only take what you need for the day.
Barcelona, Spain: We arrived Barcelona three days ahead of schedule to experience one city for more than just a day. We stayed at the Boutique Hotel Violeta (http://violetaboutique.com/home/) in the centre of the city and only three blocks from the Plaza Catalunya. It was the best and most centric location in my opinion. I loved the hotel.
Violeta was a small hotel that reminded me of my apartment in Buenos Aires. The hotel is in a residential apartment building where they had turned two floors into hotel rooms. The Gothic architecture offered us a giant completely renovated room with a very high ceiling. We had two queen size beds in our room, a sitting area and plenty of open space. The reception was extremely helpful with information, and being small, made check-in a breeze.
Violeta Boutique also included a European coffee and pastry breakfast but if you wanted an American breakfast, there was a small cafe next door on the street level and plenty of other options within a three-block radius.
Our three days in Barcelona coincided with the Fiesta de Gracia (thanksgiving!) which was a 20-minute bus ride from Plaza Catalunya. I had bought a 10-ride Metro-Bus pass (Credit card size) from the Metro (subway, underground) station at Catalunya. Fiesta de Gracia was in the Garcia neighborhood where all the streets were colourfully decorated by the residents and live bands played all night on the streets and restaurants had set outdoor patios. The music was free, the food was reasonably priced, and people were jolly. It was my second favourite part of our time in Barcelona and we went there two evenings.
Barcelona Gothic city
From the airport, we took a bus straight to Plaza Catalunya (Plaça de Catalunya) in 20 minutes and then walked three blocks to our hotel. I had the hotel directions Googled (searched) in advance. I am fluent in Spanish (the Argentine version) so taking public transit was natural for me. Although Barcelona is a destination for international tourism and most people in the industry seem to speak English.
I bought a SIM card for my phone (which was unlocked in advance) at the airport for €30 from Vodafone (https://www.vodafone.com/) that gave me 10 Gig of mobile data covering most of Europe for up to a month. It did not include coverage on the cruise ship.
La Rambla and the old Gothic city in Barcelona were 10 to 15-minute walk from our hotel or Plaza Catalunya. You want to spend half a day walking this area, watching the beautiful shops, the narrow streets of Gothic centre and try a street café or restaurant.
La Sagrada Familia is a must see for its architecture alone. We took a bus there, but you must purchase tickets in advance if you plan to go inside on a specific day and skip the long lineup. This is another half-day venture unless you want to tour the outside which is fascinating enough. I found it amazing to see how much craft and detail was offered to decorate the exterior of the building. It is no wonder that the new extension brings a modern and plain contrast that just does not quite match the elegance and masterful craftsmanship of the old.
https://preview.redd.it/vtg8evyjdv851.jpg?width=3024&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=777149d10c02a875134f6fab5d5ae73072cbf3b7
Park Guell is another 20-minute bus ride to the higher altitudes of Barcelona. It is a beautiful park with some very interesting structures left behind. It was a good half-day break from the city to relax and enjoy the nature. You can also see the entire city from the top.
Restaurant can be pricey in the touristy Plaça de Catalunya area. I managed to venture a couple of blocks off the main streets and find some local small restaurants. We had a great satisfying meal at a fantastic price and mingled with the residents. I even found a little Italian owned pizza place! Of course, we also tried the more refined tapas restaurants. After all, we were tourists.
Naples, Italy: The longest leg of our cruise was from Barcelona to Naples which took a full day at sea. That was perfect because it provided us the opportunity to navigate the ship and the amenities, learn the evening programs, browse the list of restaurants, and to start our reservations. I did not think that Naples had enough to interest me for the whole day and I hungered to see the Amalfi coast. Amalfi coast was too far for a day trip, so I decided that Sorrento and maybe Positano would be close enough. I rented a car from Hertz in advance which was a five-minute walk from the port. The car cost me about $150 Canadian, tax included! Luckily, I still remembered how to drive standard transmission (stick-shift).
We made it to Sorrento on the scenic highway with no problem. Traffic did slow at some points giving the driver (me) an opportunity to enjoy the scenery. About 10 minutes before arriving, atop the hills on the narrow road that took us to Sorrento, I found a little space to park the car and breath-in the fresh view of Sorrento waterfront. We could see the sail boats floating on the Mediterranean blue water, and the colourful little houses built on the slope of the hill from the top all the way to the sea. The buildings were in so many colours as if the quaint Sorrento were architected by Michelangelo to be lived by DaVinci’s Mona Lisa.
Sorrento from the road top
Sorrento was so beautiful that we spent the entire day there. We parked the car in an underground parking across to Gran Hotel Europa Palace (www.europapalace.com) on the hilltop. We must have spend about 45 minutes roaming the exterior of the hotel, admiring the architecture and the impressive iron gate, and then spending time on the back patio taking a closer look at the colourful buildings on the hill rolling down to the water. There were stone walking paths from the houses to the water where a giant deck with seats and shades turned the sea into a giant public pool.
Sorrento Hotel
The ladies in reception were extremely helpful offering us information and allowing me to charge my mobile since I had forgotten my charger! According to one of them, the German war maps were still on the lobby walks behind the giant paintings at this fortress (now hotel). I wanted to go down to the waterfront for lunch. So, the nice lady called her friend, the owner of a restaurant on the waterfront, and they sent us a car at no charge and after lunch they drove us back. The ride to the water was through narrow winding streets of Sorrento. After lunch we took a walk along the harbour and watched the sail boats rock on calm waters. I would like to spend a week or more in Southern Italy some day.
I forgot to mention that my cousin lives in Naples working on his PhD. He was our translator for the day. This was our first encounter in forty years (that is a sad tale that should not ruin this travel story). On the way back, we sat in a very nice café in Naples and had an amazing coffee and pastry before heading back to our ship. Italian pastry is the best, with my apology to mom and all the Persians.
Sorrento harbour
Rome, Italy: The port for Rome is in Civitavecchia, an hour drive from Rome. A tour purchased from the cruise would have been around $300 CDN per person. I like to think that I am adventurous and enjoy experimenting the local ways as much as I can. However, I understand that you may think that I am just cheap. I am fine with that. My son (Lucas) and I took a five-minute bus ride to the train station and paid €10 each to take the fast train to Rome. I love trains a lot more than buses.
We could have ventured Rome with local transit; however, our time was limited and we could not afford any time asking for directions. If I recall accurately, the daily hop-on-hop-off city tour was about €20 per person. To visit Rome and only spend one day should be a crime but a snapshot to calm my itching curiosity was the deal I had taken. I would say that Rome and Vatican City would require at least a week. There are many ancient Basilicas other than St. Peter’s each offering a unique history and that alone is well worth a week for me.
The bus passed by the Colosseum, check mark. We were heading to the Vatican City knowing well that we may not make it inside. After all, Vatical city is a day by itself. The bus dropped us a few blocks away in front of San Angelo Castle also known as Mausoleum of Hadrian https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castel_Sant%27Angelo. The castle was a tall cylinder-like giant stone building walled all around like a fortress. I thought we would take a quick tour of the place at €15 (it was free for minors “Lucas”). We ended up spending over two hours admiring the decorated walls and ceilings with painting that were full of stories, and the museum items there were placed in its numerous rooms. We climbed many rocky stairs all the way to the top of this tallest structure in Rome, ventured the narrow hallways and took some pictures on the roof.
San Angelo Castle
The entrance to Vatican City was a ten-minute walk. Before crossing the bridge over Tiber (Tevere) we sat on the patio of a river-side food booth to have a snack. We walked to Vatican City and spent an hour in St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) observing the architecture, the elegantly attired Guards, the crowd lining up and the shops that lure the tourist.
We took the tour bus back to Piazza di Espagna. This was the cleanest, most modern, and prettiest part of the city that our eyes had seen in the past few hours. The bus left us on the upper escalation of the Piazza where I took some pictures before descending the steep long set of steps into the centre of the shops and restaurants. We walked for about an hour window shopping and then found a restaurant patio in a pedestrian intersection. It was a touristy area but still reasonably priced. We certainly could give ourselves this one treat before heading back to the train station for our hour and twenty-minute ride back.
Piazza di Espagna
Total cost of our Rome venture including transportation, admissions, and food (for two) was €150. Lunch was the biggest expense.
** Picture
Florence and Pisa, Italy: Another restaurant and show evening aboard the Norwegian Epic, and we arrived in Florence (port of Livorno) early morning. Getting to Florence by public transit was too complicated. A car ride from port of Livorno to Florence was about 90 minutes and to Pisa around 30 minutes. I was lucky to find a private mini-van taxi (a brand new eight-seater Mercedes) that needed two more passengers to get going. At €50 per person to take us to Florence and then Pisa and back, it was a great deal. This deal could have been booked online in advance for €40. A lesson learned here. The other people sharing our ride were a family of four from Montreal, and a mother-son pair from Los Angles.
Everyone was very reserved and quiet. Lucas and I sat in the front with the driver and I spend the entire trip learning from our friendly driver. Florence is beautiful and quaint. However, I thought I had enough architecture in Rome and did not feel like lining up for an hour to see another church. We took a walking tour of Florence and had a meal at small sandwich joint run by two very funny and entertaining ladies. They offered a great selection of artisanal sandwiches, but almost two years later now, I cannot remember what I ate.
Pisa was another little town walled all around. I can imagine the great length the leaders had to go to protect people from attacks and we so often take our freedom for granted. Of course, we must protect ourselves from partisan politics and corporate lawyers, but that is easily manageable. At this point of the trip, I had enough sight seeing. I would have been good with a video of Pisa on YouTube. Here is a picture of the magnificent but defected marble structure.
Florence
Residents sunbathing in Florence
Pisa
Canes and Nice, France:
Canes, France was physically the most beautiful city on this trip, in my opinion. It was manicured clean and peaceful. Canes did not have a port for the cruise ships, hence we had to anchor in the sea and take the emergency boats to the shore. The emergency boats were giant, and each held about 200 people. We had a short time here and we were tired. I should have taken a tour bus, but my sense of adventure (or cheapness) had us walking up the steep and narrow winding street and then back down to the city centre for a bite.
I found a small sandwich shop to share a ham and cheese baguette and a couple of drinks with Lucas. In my broken French, I asked the young lady behind the counter if she could cut the baguette in half for us and she gave me a stern “Non”. I am not certain whether that was a lack of courtesy or I had crossed some religious or cultural boundaries. It was simple enough to split the baguette with me hand. We should have continued our tour of the city and stayed in Canes as I had advised our friends from Quebec. However, a sudden urge came over me to take the train to Nice. We did, and Nice’s downtown and beach area were beautiful to walk; however, the injustice I did to my own principals of travelling is unforgivable. The whole day was just too rushed and consuming.
Canes, City Market
Mallorca (Majorca) Spain:
The trip from Canes to Mallorca was the second longest leg of the cruise. We arrived Mallorca around 1 pm giving us roughly five hours on the Island. After seven days of walking the cities in the heat of August, even the young Lucas was exhausted. The port in Mallorca was not walking distance to any interesting place and Lucas wished to spend the day at a beach. Great idea, I thought.
I Googled the most scenic beaches nearby and Palma Nova was the second choice but the only feasible option due to our limited time. We had a brief line up for a taxi right at the port. There was a family of five from Peru from our cruise in front of us in the lineup and they could not all fit into one taxi. I invited the grandpa of the family to come with us since they were heading to the same beach. Grandpa was a good companion and an opportunity for me to learn about Peru. We agreed on a time for going back together and then split to our ventures.
Palma Nova was perfect to spend a day. The beach had the right amount of crowd and was decorated by some rocky hills on one side for us to take a walk in between swims. The water was perfectly tempered, calm, and clear blue. There were no high rises nor big tourist hotels on this beach and plenty of restaurants and shops. For lunch we crossed the street on the beach to a patio and I shared a nice pizza and drinks for €12. We paid €15 for the bamboo umbrella and two chairs to have our spot on the beach and about €35 total for the taxi ride back and forth. That brings our total to €62 for a beautiful relaxing day in Majorca.
Palma Nova beach, Mallorca
I would like to spend a week in Mallorca. There are many scenic quaint towns and beautiful beaches to enjoy. If you are interested to know more, you can search for Palma, Sóller, Valldemossa, and Pollença. All these are on the west side of the island and within an hour drive from Palma. I would stay in Palma and make day trips to each of these towns. If you are a tennis fan, then you will probably add Rafael Nadal’s academy (https://www.rafanadalacademy.com/en) to the list, which is about an hour drive east of Palma.
Palma Nova beach, Majorca
Our last night on the cruise was concluded by a beautiful three course meal and listening to a live band on the middle deck’s lobby. There was a talented singer among the passengers and a few great dancers on board who joined the performance. It was a great way to end the cruise. We arrived Barcelona early morning, well rested, with a fresh shower and a full tummy. We found a taxi and headed straight to the airport to catch our noon flight back to Toronto without rush. I suppose my project management trainings mixed with my entrepreneurial nature, made a perfect schedule for the trip. You can check out www.pmi.org if you are interested in formalizing your skills for time and budget management.
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