Xanadu – Sin City or Pleasure Dome?

Xanadu – Sin City or Pleasure Dome?

Looking around all you could see was pleasure. Places to dance, eat, gamble, watch people, film and art, listen to music, even sit on a bench and pray to the nature gods.

There was no empty space, no concrete or asphalt scapes and the buildings had more to them than glass stories.

It was created by some visionary that had more in mind than utility. So the people came and returned. Again and again. Each time seeing a new vista, a new revelation.

And because the people were drawn to Xanadu, gold and silver were piling up in the back rooms for the counters to verify as real. Before they turned it back over to the sellers and artisans who made the city run.

It was even a city for photographers and sketch artists who caught the faces of the pleasure seekers and the scenery around them. And sold their images back to them.

What you didn’t dare look for was rust on the metal. cracks in the glass and concrete, or potholes in the streets. The signs of wear and tear that kept this city in the realm of reality. It was Xanadu, not Heaven. But you didn’t want to know that, did you?

…..

Kubla Khan by ST Coleridge

(story/ish) Necropolis – Who Survives in a Dying City?

Necropolis – Who Survives in a Dying City?

This meeting is called to order (bang bang)

Head Vampire: Thank you all for coming today. I look forward to your suggestions in how we can pick up business these days.

Head Zombie: (Grunts into the mike of the translator tech.)

Translator : suggestion is to eat more brains or drink more blood.

HV: That’s not likely to encourage more visitors though, is it?

HZ: (sighs looking at the lettuce sandwiches with sorrow.)

Head Ghost: I don’t suppose visiting them in their dreams will help? It worked with Charles!

HV: He was a special case though. You know it’s bad when even live otherkin won’t come here anymore though. They have their bars in the suburbs now. Even the fae have issues with coming downtown alone.

Who should be welcome, encouraged? Or should I say what? I think the people who are used to scavenging will do ok… But you know it’s bad when even stray animals know there’s nothing to eat here.

HG: Well. do you have any suggestions? You’re shooting all of ours down! We did put up pretty statues ya know!

Necromancer: (wakes up with a start) Her husband rolled over and asked, “That dream again, dear?”

N: yes, I just can’t get rid of it. I feel like the other shoe is going to drop any day now.

Convenience, Consumption and Crapola. (a story/ish)

Convenience, Consumption and Crapola. (a story/ish)

15M people live in landfills on $2 a day or less

……

Lian had been going to the landfill with his brothers and sisters, for years. It had started when his daddy died, and mama was sick. It was the only way mama could think of to care for them. Then she died in childbirth and his oldest sister Ana had taken over their group.

Each morning they went to the dump, with rumbling tummies and dirt filled eyes from their lack of sleep. They took turns standing sentry over each other thru the night. They stood at the door of the abandoned, ruins of a warehouse. Where once people had been able to find work, but no longer could.

At the end of the day, they took anything saleable they could find to the pawnbroker and collected their pennies. So they could have something to eat. So at least they could sleep without feeling their tummy, for a little while.

Then Ana sent them to the water hole, well stinky mud pile really. But it was wet and she thought she was helping them stay cleaner as mama would have wanted. They kept coming back with rashes on their arms. But Ana didn’t know what else to do, so she kept taking them back.

One day when everyone else was at the landfill, Ana had stayed behind to care for the baby who was feverish. When the group got back to the warehouse, only the baby was there. The other kids went looking for her so they could go to the pawnbroker. Lian stayed with the baby. Nobody could find Ana. So they stayed in and went hungry.

In the morning Lian swaddled the baby around him and the kids all went to the landfill. Hungry. They figured Ana would know where they were and come get them.

But she didn’t show up by nightfall, and they didn’t go to the pawnbroker again. They were too scared to go without Ana.

After the third day without Ana, Lian finally gathered courage and went to the pawnbroker by himself. And got their pennies so they could eat. He made sure there was some for each child and some put aside in case something else happened. Or Ana returned.

Eventually they got used to Ana not being around and doing for themselves. They got up, went to the landfill, picked all day, washed at the mud hole, went to the warehouse to wait for Lian to come with supper after seeing the pawnbroker. And taking turns guarding the others while they slept.

With no hope of a better future. Only a growing fear that Ana wouldn’t come back. Or something might happen to another one of them.

Industry’s Table of Power (a story)

Industry’s Table of Power

The COO banged the gavel on the table, bringing their quarterly meeting to order. She asked for each of the leaders to present their report about their budget and vision for the next quarter.

Amphitheatre went first. The transition had been going smoothly from live shows to mostly filmed and uploaded to the net. The merch people were fine with it, cuzz they could sell online and have less outlay. But the foods’ outlets weren’t that happy. Only old school fans liked the live experiences well enough to risk a pandemic. So amphitheatre had set up an area outside where people could eat under tents or in fresh air depending on the weather. This was going well.

Market went next. The farmers’ goods were getting into the yards pretty reliably, considering. They had a vet check the animals and the food was cleaned with air pressure before taking it to the ovens or fridge. They had a tented line up for people to wait in and had put out cold drinks and nibbles. So they weren’t complaining too much.

Munitions was up next. The miners were in smaller shifts and the trains were bringing in the ore and jewels for smelting and sales every second day. The smiths were shaping the metals into usable product.

The bank was up then. They had put in a drive thru window and had added ATMs outside under a tent as well.

Real estate was in a slump, but they had added a fix it dept for customers who needed repairs. Many customers were doing DIY, but some people just couldn’t manage that. So they had repair teams on call out who were masked and vaccinated. The home owners were asked to stay out of the immediate area when their techs were at work.

The refinery was at full tilt. But they had hired on extra teams so they could go in four rotations. Two on a ten day break and two at work, one on days and one for nights. 12 hour shifts.

Boat and train had a similar report of smaller vehicles, crews and just goods shipped. They were only going to the business and factory ends of the city.

Human capital had reports of new plexiglass dividers and hepa filters thru the bldgs and sanitation centres at all entrances at all floors. They had hired more cleaning staff and inspectors. Each dept was given a seminar in the pandemic and how they could protect themselves, answering any questions. Only the needed people were allowed to work in their bldgs. And they had smaller rotations. The day was split into two and went six days. Every staff member was now vaccinated, as they had agreed to mandate that. As well as the company purchasing the best masks going today. There was also a support video meeting weekly for people who wanted to talk thru how the pandemic was affecting them. Their families were welcome to sign in as well.

Gangs talked about the community rabble and the costs of protecting the company and elite from them. And what little treasures they could offer to keep them quiet.

Mobs talked about organizing to ask for more comforts for the workers.

Once all the reports were posted and accepted, the COO transferred the minutes to the board and called time. The leaders at the table signed out and she was left at the desk on her own. Slowly her wings rose as she relaxed her limbs, getting ready to leave for the day. This meeting had been her last task of the day. She was ready to leave it to the human wranglers for another quarter.

She knew her overlords would be thrilled that the people and wranglers were working together better now. It had almost come crashing down around them. She wondered if humanity would ever grasp how close it all had come.

Factory on Strike!! (a story/ish)

Factory on Strike!!

There are so many many things that cause a strike. Anything from bldg conditions, nasty bosses, unsafe community, to wage issues. But most often, it comes down to the workers are ready to release some of their anger. And they don’t see anything insurmountable stopping them.

And that is where Igor’s factory was at. Hot enough to war with mgmt over their issue and they didn’t think anything was going to stop them.

The army was over 4 hours away and busy with skirmishes. The local cops were not prepared for a siege of any kind. And there weren’t many people who could do their jobs, so mgmt hiring scabs was unlikely. And since mgmt were paper-pushers, they weren’t likely to be able to replace the workers either.

What Igor and his friends weren’t counting on though was the vandalism against their members’ families, the mailed death threats as scare tactics, food shortages at the local grocers so workers had to spend time going for food.

They weren’t counting on molotov cocktails thrown thru their car windows when they were on the picket line, the printer of their signs being bought out by a chain that refused to make their signs anymore. So they ended up having to make their own.

It doesn’t seem like much in itself, but it was this steady rain of things that were annoying, a nuisance, and wearing the strikers down.

The biggest blow though was when their leader was offered a really good job a few hours away. And his wife wittered away at him till he took it. It was closer to her family. They encouraged him to take the job.

And this was with a union. Imagine if they hadn’t had that in play? But they did.

So who was trying to break the strike? There were enough things pointing at the idea that someone was waging a campaign of terror against the workers and they were hellbent on winning the day.

And that really undermined their will to stay their course. What stopped them was they hadn’t achieved their aims, and they didn’t like being used like this. At. all.

So they relocated their HQ every day and had different workers on the line and in the HQ so mgmt was never quite sure who was in charge now.

Because if they knew nothing else, they knew that mgmt had hired someone to terrorize them.

And they plodded on.

The longer the strike took, the harder it was to get funds from the union and their savings were starting to be reduced. Which caused some strife with their families.

But finally mgmt was paying attention. They were actually at the table now. None of the bosses had thought they’d last this long. And some of their customers were getting crabby at delays in their orders and ltd supplies. Not many companies were willing to cross the picket line.

Was mgmt’s willingness to negotiate in good faith? The workers weren’t so sure. So they were recording everything done. Everything said. And sending a copy to the union and the head office of the factory.

Finally, the head office sent a negotiator. They had had enough. And the workers cooperated with them to settle their disputes and end the strike.

Even though they didn’t get all they wanted, they felt like they had won the larger arch of the battle.

Factories, Shifts and History (a story/ish)

Factories, Shifts and History

It seemed like it happened all in one day…. The radio or TV broadcast we were at war, and I thought I would be conscripted. I was, in a way. But not to the battlefield.

I went into the factory I’d always worked at. Thinking I’d be doing the same job, again and again. But the machines were all changed and I had no idea what they’d expect from me. I knew I wouldn’t be sewing knickers today. But what could our factory do? We didn’t have the metals for bullets, the produce for food, or the thick cloth for soldiers’ uniforms.

And how could we sew knickers, something so frivolous, when soon enough we’d be suffering rations. But we were sewing something. What could it be?

When I arrived at my machine, I found the patterns for sensible clothes. For women. And there were at least 20 more machines in the room. I looked at my supervisor askance. And he said women would be expected to work now. So they’d need something besides house dresses and tea party clothes to wear.

That made sense. Who else would run the world while the men were off to war? Now we were good enough, huh? But I wondered how they would get the genies back in their bottles when those men who came home finally did?

Then I sat down, like I had any other day, and sewed. And sewed.

The supervisor came by to check the seams and hems. But anyone who can tatt lace can sew a straight seam. So soon enough he walked over to the new women and coached them along. But even they knew how to sew, it was just the machine size that had changed.

Within days, we had sensible work wear hanging where once there had been dainties. And the day after, a truck came by to pick up our work. Not that it made any difference to us.

We just kept on sewing. And sewing.

We weren’t really allowed to feminize the clothes, even though we were making them for women. And the skirts were shorter than any our mamas would dare wear. Of course rations would affect the length of the skirt, wouldn’t they?

One day I walked to the back for a new bolt and saw a bin of cloth masks ready to be shipped out. And asked what they were for? The supervisor said some of the women who had just started working were getting sick from being around so many people now. So the masks were for them. Okay, that made sense.

We sewed and sewed on till the men came home. Those who hadn’t been killed, and those who the army thought could be integrated back into a world where there was no killing to be done. Those who wouldn’t spook too hard when a car backfired. And those that wouldn’t beat their mamas, sisters…..To death anyways.

And soon enough the factory was back to sewing some lingerie. But yeah that genie really was out of the bottle. So we went on sewing ladies’ work wear along with the silks and satins. But now we could put a few ribbons and a bit of lace on their shirts and skirt hems.

It seems even in a factory such as mine, things could be changed. When they needed to be.

When Trade and Tourism are Global Markets – The Stock Exchange

When Trade and Tourism are Global Markets – The Stock Exchange

Tracking one country isn’t telling you the whole story. Even if it is the USA. Time starts in the Pacific, where the sun rises and ends in the west or Atlantic. Usually it’s the richest nations that act on the side of law that get tracked at all. They don’t show the ebbs and flows of seasonal movement. Like countries that are fad faves for sun or skiing. Or how high the seasonal fashion shows go and when the art season changes.

Yes, you do know what stocks are trading at the highest on the exchanges, but which country has more of that product or resource to offer this year? And why are they at the top this year, vs last year or the year before? Was there a new strike of oil or a new vein found in gold or diamonds? Did a war begin that impeded export? What are the politics and war status on that region usually? How stable is that region?

Did a new company go public and people are really excited about it? So they’re buying up what they can get? Did an established company come up with a new product? And yes, was there a pandemic, so the pharmacy companies are raking it in?

Or is there a hostile takeover, a familial death so the next gen gets the CEO seat by right of inheritance? Does the market have faith in that change of hands?

Is there a scandal? Is it a business (insider trading, embezzlement) or personal one (got caught on Epstein’s Island)? It seems even money has some morals.

Or does it? Because even the gangs, syndicates and triads can get their products on the market, if they ‘appear’ clean enough.

That’s what affects the market, but it doesn’t always affect whether or not the company still has it’s doors open, or if the workers are still located in a G8 country or rise in a third world nation. Or if the police raided the company and their funds are now frozen.

So what makes a bear or bull market? And how does little Joe or Candy get onto this kind of super highway? Srsly? They don’t.

With rare exception And they make the connections in business and politics that reinforce what they guestimate as a good buy or sell. They are the type of person who becomes a kingmaker. How many little citizens have that available to them? So sure, you might be able to quit your job if you’re really really good at day trading, but you won’t ever have Gates or Bezos walking around money.

What is your plan for trading? Walk into your bank and ask about a money market account. Where the bank do the plotting of stocks and resources. They have hired economists who do this specific thing for their customers. Will it get you rich? Probably not. But you might get a nice vacation out of it now and then.

time clocks

Tokyo, Japan
Brisbane, Australia

London, United Kingdom
Greenwich Mean Time

New York City, NY, USA
Los Angeles, CA, USA

….. business

the stock exchanges

…….

top airports

At the Crossroads (a story)

At the Crossroads

You could see the store miles before you arrived at it. As anyone who was standing outside could see you coming long before you arrived at the door. There was no escaping it.

Same as when you got inside, the clerk could see what you did in each aisle, by watching in the mirror over their counter. So even kids knew they didn’t dare snatch anything if he was at his stool.

The aisles weren’t very wide. So people tended not to gather in them, and they generally waited to catch up with their neighbours outside.

The owner was happy to have a sale rack out front for the day old breads and other baked goods. Any magazines and papers that had passed their date were there. Fruit and veg and flowers that weren’t as fresh as they should be were on it as well.

The candies and iced treats were right beside the counter. The owner knew they’d be the most intriguing purchase items for the kids and parents always had a few coins to keep their offspring quiet and well behaved while they shopped. The kids had their fingers on the glass, picking out the one they wanted most as their parents shopped. The clerk never opened the glass till he saw the parent agreed the kids deserved a treat.

The shelves in the aisles were full of staples: rice, pasta, fresh bread, milk, cheese, flour, eggs, sugar, tea and coffee. And some pickles and jams for a last minute sandwich or side treat to a meal.

Not many of the locals spent much time in the store, but they often gathered outside to hear what was happening in the world and their little town up the road. Not that much happened there. People worked, played, and ate. There was an occasional pickup game or swim over at the pond.

If the ‘boys’ wanted to play around with girls, they knew better than messing with the town girls. Thy went over to the bar a few towns over and had their ‘date’ come to the motel that sat beside it.

And the ‘girls’ learned how to cook, sew and decorate their homes, and momma and daddy vetted the ‘boys’ who wanted to date their girl. And the little chapel had teen socials so they knew who was eying whom and could keep a close eye on them. Lots more prayers were said than flirtations.

Every school day morning, there was a wagon ready to collect the young and cart them over to the county school in the next town. And every afternoon, they were brought back. Just in time for a snack their momma had laid out. The youngest had a nap while the oldest sat at the kitchen table doing their homework. Where momma could watch, while she made supper.

It seemed so peaceful a place. The kind that was idyllic, or hellish. Depending which house you lived in. The neighbours could tell you when the missus or kids were screaming too often. Or the parents were fighting or worse, sending the kids back and forth with messages. They had nothing left between them.

In the fields, there were souls gathered. Some might call them fae, maybe hungry ghosts. They were listening for that sound that said they had another to add to their numbers. A shot or a scream and last gasp as someone’s neck was broken.

That was the only changes that came to this hamlet at the crossroads. How many graves were dug at the chapel, when night fell.At the Crossroads

You could see the store miles before you arrived at it. As anyone who was standing outside could see you coming long before you arrived at the door. There was no escaping it.

Same as when you got inside, the clerk could see what you did in each aisle, by watching in the mirror over their counter. So even kids knew they didn’t dare snatch anything if he was at his stool.

The aisles weren’t very wide. So people tended not to gather in them, and they generally waited to catch up with their neighbours outside.

The owner was happy to have a sale rack out front for the day old breads and other baked goods. Any magazines and papers that had passed their date were there. Fruit and veg and flowers that weren’t as fresh as they should be were on it as well.

The candies and iced treats were right beside the counter. The owner knew they’d be the most intriguing purchase items for the kids and parents always had a few coins to keep their offspring quiet and well behaved while they shopped. The kids had their fingers on the glass, picking out the one they wanted most as their parents shopped. The clerk never opened the glass till he saw the parent agreed the kids deserved a treat.

The shelves in the aisles were full of staples: rice, pasta, fresh bread, milk, cheese, flour, eggs, sugar, tea and coffee. And some pickles and jams for a last minute sandwich or side treat to a meal.

Not many of the locals spent much time in the store, but they often gathered outside to hear what was happening in the world and their little town up the road. Not that much happened there. People worked, played, and ate. There was an occasional pickup game or swim over at the pond.

If the ‘boys’ wanted to play around with girls, they knew better than messing with the town girls. Thy went over to the bar a few towns over and had their ‘date’ come to the motel that sat beside it.

And the ‘girls’ learned how to cook, sew and decorate their homes, and momma and daddy vetted the ‘boys’ who wanted to date their girl. And the little chapel had teen socials so they knew who was eying whom and could keep a close eye on them. Lots more prayers were said than flirtations.

Every school day morning, there was a wagon ready to collect the young and cart them over to the county school in the next town. And every afternoon, they were brought back. Just in time for a snack their momma had laid out. The youngest had a nap while the oldest sat at the kitchen table doing their homework. Where momma could watch, while she made supper.

It seemed so peaceful a place. The kind that was idyllic, or hellish. Depending which house you lived in. The neighbours could tell you when the missus or kids were screaming too often. Or the parents were fighting or worse, sending the kids back and forth with messages. They had nothing left between them.

In the fields, there were souls gathered. Some might call them fae, maybe hungry ghosts. They were listening for that sound that said they had another to add to their numbers. A shot or a scream and last gasp as someone’s neck was broken.

That was the only changes that came to this hamlet at the crossroads. How many graves were dug at the chapel, when night fell.

Outsiders – When Predator and Dame Fall in Love (a story)

Outsiders – When Predator and Dame Fall in Love

They both moved on the outer perimeter of their community.

Predator watched the lusts and entanglements of the people. All the ways they misbehaved and enjoyed smiling at their pranks. They were interesting to watch.

Dame watched them too, but saw all their flaws and oddities. The moments of ignorance, and social niceties they should know. And how they failed to engage or connect.

And in the middle, in the crowd, Predator and Dame kept noticing they weren’t interested in what was done well.

Predator and Dame started watching each other too. Looking for things to pursue and taking cues off each other of what to follow. And they appreciated what the other understood about humanity. The other’s sense of morality and etiquette. They were often aligned.

So Predator walked up to Dame one night….

And they started talking first. Then because he thought Dame was hot, he started flirting with her. And Dame was happy to participate. He was a very cunning and handsome beast. And Predator thought she was a very stylish and smart lady.

They started to dance around each other…..

Predator bowed to her and Dame bared her neck to his attentions. He held her hand and she flipped her hair. He laughed and she giggled and smirked. Each playing the game as it should be. And soon the crowd started watching the couple. Even copying what they saw their counterpart do.

And the flow of the game and the dance started improving. The dance moves became more concise and on point. And even Predator and Dame saw the change. They wondered what had caused the change. But weren’t interested enough to search for the answer. So they went back to their own pursuits. Their own dance.

Soon enough they wanted more of each other and a little privacy. So they each grabbed a friend and went out onto the balcony. They allowed each other old fashioned courting standards. Holding hands and touching each others’ shoulder or hair. Dame got good use of her fan, and Predator made use of his cigar.

Predator and Dame were becoming quite intrigued with each other. Their friends moved to the other side of the balcony to give them a little space. Much too soon though, the dance break came up and Predator and Dame felt it was time to go back inside. Even with an escort, they knew they didn’t want to cause talk. So they went back inside.

In and out thru the evening, then the week, and for some time, they courted each other. First by sharing their observations of the crowd and what they did wrong. What they agreed should be done right. Then what they hoped to experience.

And they fell in like with each other. Knowing they could never be together. They could only have these moments of tenderness between themselves.

Real life entanglements were denied them. So they enjoyed what they could have. Immensely.

Predator and Dame went home to dream of impossibilities, a world where they could have lust for him and charm and romance for her.
And Predator dreamed of lust. There was only so long he could be a gentleman after all. Little did he know though, there was only so long Dame could be a lady. And her dreams of him would have made him blush at her imagination.

The Imperial City (a story/ish)

The Imperial City

The computer of the space craft alerted the captain and awoke him from his hibernation on the last remaining ship from earth. The AI program that was looking for signs of intelligent life in the galaxies had detected something it only knew from archives of human civilization patterns.

All the earmarks of an ‘imperial city’ were on this planet out far beyond any place earthlings had been known to have travelled before. The AI went thru the checklist before it woke the captain up just to be sure:

There was water. A sea and some tributary rivers right by the city. And what appeared to be surrounding farm land. Outlying buildings and fields of greenery, with animals roaming in some of them. Some grazed and some were playing some game only animals know. There was a surrounding wall with turrets for the guards. And a couple buildings stood out; a temple, a palace and what appeared to be a mall of sorts. And a wall defending this part of the city from the rows of houses that looked like a couple of villages for their workers. A couple obelisks were guarding the cities’ gates as well. They had some kind of lights and some greenery at their bases. So they looked like well tended memorials. There was a second city just the other side of a hill with what looked like lecture halls and libraries as well as student housing. And a few nicer houses, probably for the teachers? And over another hill were a few industrial parks with small cottages for their workers. This was guarded with a wall and some small turrets for the soldiers on security. Which made the AI program cue toward slavery or serfdom. There wasn’t enough data to say which yet.

The city was built in the better part of the planet, where the land was ripe with trees and different grasses. And obviously plenty of stone, since that’s what the majority of the buildings were made from. It was unclear what the stone was, since it was dissimilar from earth’s varieties.

At the top of the highest hill, away from all other things was some structure that appeared to have no purpose but design. Some objet d’art that was breath-taking in it’s beauty and originality. It seemed to be there to mark the city. As a call sign for aircraft and perhaps even land and boat travellers since it was high enough to be seen for miles when on approach.

The AI even noted some changes in style within the cities, as if they had been raised at different times. The city obviously had been there for some time and was willing to mark it’s own evolution in architecture and art. and one place had obviously suffered a fire or flood and had to be rebuilt. All the buildings were the same style and there was an obelisk there to show the place was important to the people.

The AI snapped pictures to show it’s marking the critical elements and woke the captain. It needed a human to confirm the findings before sending it’s report. This was an exciting day for those left behind, if there were still any.

The captain was happy to confirm the report. And advised the AI to find a place where they could survey the comings and goings long enough to know if the city was at peace. And went back to his berth.

The AI was now under instructions to watch for marauding armies or civil unrest. And it would be a few months before there was sufficient evidence for a report. So the captain thought he might as well leave it up to the program, with some alerts that would wake him. Including the ship being detected or under direct threat.

The AI took to this next phase and let the crew and captain continue their hibernation undisturbed.