July Books 19) The Mark of Ran

19) The Mark of Ran, by Paul Kearney

Paul was good enough to send me this after a brief encounter at P-Con earlier this year. I very much enjoyed it. It’s the first in a series, so includes a certain amount of coming-of-age narrative: our hero, Rol, sees his family massacred, gets trained as an assassin, and becomes a successful naval warrior. The contrasting environments – especially the city where he gets his training, and a long desert interlude in the middle of the naval section – are very vividly realised. Possibly this demonstrates my own ignorance, but I felt no particular problems with a 17th-century-at-latest-plus-magic urban environment coexisting with 18th-century-at-earliest naval warfare in the same world. Will look out for later books in this series.

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1 Response to July Books 19) The Mark of Ran

  1. pnh says:

    Actually, the more I look at this piece, the more it annoys me, because he’s right on the fundamentals but persistently stupid on the specifics. Offensively stupid: “Members of the working class have been taught to lick the boots of their masters and then bend over for another kick in the ass. They’ve got these people so well trained that they’ll take up arms against the other half of the working class as soon as their masters give the word.” Yeah, we’re seeing that in Wisconsin. Wait, actually, we’re seeing actually the opposite of that.

    “Even if the United States tried to rebuild a real economy (as opposed to a service/financial economy) do think American workers would ever be able to compete with the workers of China or Europe?” “Ever” Ever? You know something, I think “American workers” would do just fine, in a society that did a little better by them. The current poor condition of the American working class isn’t a result of its low moral character; it’s because it’s been outgunned. But like every capitalist who’s been lucky enough to achieve an enviable position in life, the author of this piece displays an unlovely eagerness to blame the misfortune of others on their supposed inherent failings. It makes me want to examine his other assertions more critically, even when I’m strongly predisposed to favor his overall argument.

    As for his economic assertions, some of them are sound, and some are pure apocalyptic crankery, barely distinguishable from Glenn Beck: “[America’s] lenders, starting with China, are in the process of laying the foundations for a new monetary system to replace the Anglo-American ‘petro-dollar’ system. As soon as there is a viable alternative to the US dollar, the greenback will sink like a stone.” Ask Paul Krugman if he believes anything like this is likely. Or if Krugman is too mainstream for you, ask an avowedly lefty professional economist like Max Sawicky. I’ve had this conversation with both of them, and while they both think the US has terrible economic problems and is making some dreadful mistakes, they both regard assertions like this as simply silly. In fact global demand for US Treasury paper is so high that the US government can borrow money for something remarkably close to free. What this tells us is that while the American rich may well be looting the public weal and American workers may well be screwed, the world believes that there will be a United States of America 50 years from now and that its money will have value. It may not be a place I want to live, but its currency won’t be hyperinflated paper supplanted on the world stage by remnimbi or euros or yen.

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