Feb 26, 2020 12:55 AM
A dragon explores space, finds Amenta.
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"Bloom's been reading some of our fiction, you might want to learn to read too - for fiction or for psychology books and journalism. I'm personally here because I have a good track record in my diplomatic background and wanted the job - some people could have had it over me but were feeling risk-averse about something as big as alien guests."

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Yes, I want to read! If you don't want to answer those other questions, well, that is fair enough.

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"Oh, I can - it wasn't obvious which you thought would fit satisfyingly in - eight minutes now -"

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Amused tail-wave.

We are not delicate flowers, though I'm sure some consider deference and respect to a Draak the natural course of things. Do Amentans think about social risk a lot? As opposed to physical dangers, games of chance...

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"Both physically dangerous activities and games of chance are - minority interests, though I guess lots of people have some low-level anxiety about less avoidable physical risks like getting sick or hit by a bicycle or mugged. I suppose social risk is on our minds a lot but of course 'a lot' is relative."

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I get the impression that you don't want to mess up your job, you don't want to appear silly to your friends or even random strangers, that an Amentan might want to appear responsible and clever and like a good friend or neighbor or boss more than they actually want to be those things. Draak like having good reputations too but I wonder if the drives are different - more different than finding different things admirable, I mean. Certainly I would be very embarrassed if I said something stupid at a Moot.

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"Oh, that seems very likely, since you're solitary by default and Amentans effectively can't live on our own - some may have been able to before we developed an interdependent civilization but I don't think it was ever a winning strategy and now unless there's someone with the specific hobby of living alone on a boat and only putting in for supplies once a year, or something, I wouldn't expect it of anyone."

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The winning strategy for Draak is to claim a lot of land and keep it well, to amass great hoards of Treasure and long lists of accomplishments and show them off, and to seek out other Draak who do the same at the time if creation.

'I hate you and want to kill you but cannot because you are wise and mighty!' Feels very nearly as nice as 'You are truly a fine example of the Kin and I wish to mate with you!'

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"Hm. Well, I suppose the equivalent would be something like - 'I hate you and want to ruin your life but can't because no one will listen to me' versus, uh, 'let's have five babies'. Which I suppose are surprisingly close in pleasantness depending on the recipient's current parenting prospects and the general quality of the speaker."

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For Draak that feeling is focused on the self. 'Nobody will listen to me' makes someone... Irrelevant, it doesn't make you victorious over them. And we'll pick partners we personally hate over ones we are good friends with if they're more attractive, more accomplished.

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"Well, as I understand it you don't do much parenting? So being able to work together comfortably would matter less."

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That is true.

I wonder if we should learn lessons from your kind, and vice versa. Many things you do seem so silly to me...

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"Oh?"

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Such a complicated criminal justice system! Such an extensive definition of pollution. So many dizzyingly complicated social standards that all make one stand out as unusual if violated. Castes.

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"What dizzyingly complicated standards are you thinking of?"

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This is going by what Bloom tells me, not direct observations, but - accents and word choice and posture and caste mannerisms and shared assumed knowledge and shared assumed values.

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"Those are mostly pretty automatic for us."

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To hear her describe it, you have invented rules for all these things and more - how to look at a blue versus a yellow versus a green! How to talk like a purple and when it's acceptable to be loud and what it's acceptable to complain about! When to let others speak or help them with some minor thing just because helping is a thing you do! All to live in close-packed hives without infuriating each other as much. And follow them mostly effortlessly!

It's weird.

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"Do Draak not have any customs like that? Or do you just not care much about what happens if people find you unpleasant?"

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If you are unpleasant, what does it matter if you have plenty of food and Treasure and a nice territory and everyone agrees you are mighty? The customs of Tradition help Draak feel safe even if you have neighbors and keep neighbors from killing each other, but they are much less complicated. No killing in challenges - simply driving one off is better. No cuckooing, no hunting outside your territory. No refusal to pay up if you made a deal or a bet. Announce yourself, don't just walk into a territory. And... That's about as complicated as it gets!

Hmm. It can be good to allow hatchlings and younglings to challenge themselves against you and hold back a little bit, maybe part with lesser Treasures that you don't care much about anymore if they're impressive for their age, but it's hardly required - it's the kind of thing you do if you wish to be known as one who seeks the good of Draak as a whole, a reputation that has both advantages and disadvantages.

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"If an Amentan is very personally rich and powerful but widely disliked the thing they worry about is coordinated opposition. Union action, conspiracies, shunning. Consequences for their less personally powerful relatives. Maybe less-coordinated less-legal actions like frame jobs and murder attempts - no one's bulletproof. War, maybe, depending on who dislikes them and why."

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We don't really do organized - anything, until recently. Organized censure is not an issue unless you transgress enough to earn the ire of the Elders, and if it gets to that point you are doomed. Say... A reputation as a Thief is bad in a lot of contexts but not life-ruining, and if you're very good at stealing maybe people even find that hot.

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"We specialize more than you do; someone who no one will help can't eat, can't find a place to sleep."

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I can imagine there would be evolutionary pressure to get along in those conditions but it still seems very weird.

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"I've been told that we may have evolved intelligence specifically to navigate social situations by some greens struggling to explain where Draak got it under that model."

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