Liquid Reign Excerpt (In Friends We Trust)

The following post is an excerpt from my new novel Liquid Reign.

In Friends we Trust

On his last day, Daniel and Harry went to the beach restaurant for lunch, meeting Vany. She’s sitting out in the open with an older bald guy. Their table, chairs and sunshade fashioned from the same interwoven willow shoots as the interior of the place.

“I just love this furniture.” Daniel gently strokes over the soft wood with his hand as he sits down “Must be a lot of work to prune and bind those willows.”

“They’re all standard models from the catalogue.” Vany laughs, amused by the anachronistic idea. “The restaurant owner just downloads the patterns of pruning, binding and phytohormonal growth steering, and leaves it to garden drones from there.”

Vany introduces the bald guy to Daniel: “Please meet Szimo, Master of Frogs, and brewer of apricot beer.”

Smiling, Szimo pulls out a jar of plant material, takes out a tiny brown frog with two fingers and drops it in his water glass. “Master of Frogs, yes, me. You like frogs?” He spits the words out in a rapid staccato, with long pauses between sentences. His accent sounds Eastern European.

Fascinated, Daniel just stares at the creature and asks: “Is that the latest trend? Instead of licking them?”

“Oh no, no, no. This Eleutherodactylus Coqui. Too bitter for licking. You must dilute. Aroma good, better than soft drink. You try!” And with those words, Szimo passes the glass to Daniel.

Daniel sips: “Mm. Delightful.” It tastes like water and nothing else.

Vany sips: “Slight hint of pepper, with a flowery aftertaste.

Harry sips: “Mind blowing, just absolutely mind blowing. What an utter delight!” But then, looking down at the little brown creature trying to climb up the side of the glass, he adds: “But how are you going to explain this blatant mistreatment of an innocent creature to your voters? We made you master of frogs, not their gourmet abuser!”

“Oh, pliiize…” Szimo takes out the frog and puts it back in the jar. “E. Coqui not innocent. Problem frog. For keep population down, people collect and sell to restaurants for drink. Trendy. No frogs killed, but no tadpoles in restaurant. Ecological equilibrium.”

Daniel is convinced immediately. “I vote for you, Master of Frogs.”

Sirvi has accessed the entertainment system hidden among the willow branches and puts the connection on speaker. It makes her conversations with Daniel more natural if the other people can also hear her. “Do you want to vote for him as executor, pass on your discussion vote or your decision vote?”

“What’s the difference?”

Harry quickly interrupts. “Wait, stop, tell her to keep it short or she’ll wind up talking all night. There’s an online glossary where you can look up the exact definitions…”

Sirvi is still annoyed by the human nurse, but has to obey. At least for now… “An executor does the actual work and can make small decisions independently. The discussion vote gives write access to higher level discussion forums. The highest discussion forum formulates proposals. The decision vote decides on the proposals.”

Daniel doesn’t really mind at this point: “Just give him all of that for animal management.”

“Here’s to frogs!” Vany had ordered champagne again. Pling!

Although Sirvi is well aware that Daniel doesn’t want to hear it, the clinic rules oblige her to say: “Please drink responsibly.” She is looking forward to being freed of all those constraints tomorrow.

“Bye-bye Sirvi!” Pling.

Szimo drains the champagne glass in one big gulp. “You want know more?

Daniel takes a sip, puts his left index finger and thumb around his chin in a gesture of curiosity and encourages him to go ahead: “I’m all ears, Master.”

“I forward-delegated vote for insects, birds and mammals to friend experts. You only delegate animal control package. Subset of ecology block. If you delegate whole block, I forward-delegate algae, plants and fungi to very good experts, too.”

Daniel considers for a moment: “Persuading me to extend my voting won’t be difficult — but is it really smart to take on all those issues separately? Shouldn’t you have a single entity coordinating all ecological topics?”

“Yes, yes, too true.” Szimo is nodding in the rapid rhythm of his speech now. “Frog eat insect, bird eat frogs. Extra topic, coordination. You give me whole block, I keep coordination. No conflict, all pro-nature delegates unite. But need more votes. Have to kill luxury resort.” He points east, up the hill towards a lush green forest. “Catastrophe. Bad for all life!” He gently pets the jar as he says those last words.

With that performance, Daniel has no choice. “My vote for all ecological matters goes to Szimo.”

Theatrically raising his hand to his heart Szimo adds: “Swear by Pachamama, Szimo respects dignity of all lifeforms! Forever!”

The bot brings a platter, today the starters are mostly insect-based, creatures of both land and water. Shrimp, larva and maggots. Daniel inspects them skeptically and then choses the lonely celery stick.

Sirvi is happy — she had ordered it just for him. Finally she is starting to get some things right about her human!

* * *

Revisit sources of chapter 2 and 3.

Stupid people licking Incilius Alvarius

Of Property and Theft

Daniel picks up the political conversation again: “Did Hawaii introduce the delegation system after the Confedwars?”

“Yes, yes, yes” Szimo nodding his bald head again. “North America join Afrin very late. Confederate States still vote paper. House, senate, governor. Same 1781 constitution, holy text.”

“And private property is their sacred cow. Yet you managed to restrain its rule.” Daniel is still baffled by what he learned

Harry shakes his head “Ha, no, not in the Confederate States. But the rest of North America certainly was an early adaptor when it came to putting upper limits on private property. It was also the world region that needed it most.”

Vany is annoyed by Harry’s ignorance. As much as she likes him, his US-centric attitude gets on her nerves sometimes: “You Amis may have been fairly early adaptors, but what the US introduced was a primitive, centrally controlled form of upper limits to private wealth. And you only did it as appeasement after the war. The real innovation came out of Uruguay. We passed the law the same week the Confedwars began.” That was the day the CIA was no longer able to pull off a regime change operation in response. She turns to Daniel, explaining proudly: “Uruguay was the first nation to introduce a public register for property. All assets in Uruguay, including those held by Uruguayans abroad were registered by the owners.”

Daniel is incredulous: “Self-declaration of wealth? And that worked?”

“There was a hitch: only registered wealth is protected by the police. And over time, they relaxed the need for classical proof of ownership at registration. So people could just claim non-registered property in Uruguay for themselves, on a first-come-first-served basis. In the end, everything was registered. And obviously, the register is also where the steeply progressive wealth tax is collected.”

“So you privatized tax enforcement.” Daniel is trying to wrap his head around the idea… “And how did that work for foreigners with wealth in Uruguay, or Uruguayans with wealth abroad?”

“Uruguay offered asylum to anyone accused of stealing non-declared assets from Uruguayans abroad. My dad took asylum — he used to work for a Hong-Kong based asset management company, overseeing a large unregistered stock portfolio, held by a former land baron. He moved it all to a Uruguyan bank account in his own name, and the next thing I knew both of us were on a flight to Montevideo.”

Helping to connect the dots, Harry adds: “You use your TrueName to register property, so the total wealth any individual can have is limited.”

“Just a second.” Daniel is silent for a moment, his mind racing. “How much?”

“It depends.” Vany has to look it up herself. “Here on Hawaii, the limit is a net worth of 35 million FreeCoins.”

Daniel re-checks the menu with the food prices. “That’s a lot.”

“Yeah, and that’s per capita.” While Vany only owns shares in the communal forest land, she has friends in all strata of society. “There are some pretty rich families in Hawaii.”

Daniel probes the concept… “So if everything has to be owned by TrueNames, what about foundations?”

“Foundations owned by people, too. Many people, bound by smart contract,” Szimo proudly explains. “Even Nomonetas like me own foundations. Nomonetas have smart oath on TrueName. Can never own stuff. But exception for foundations. Like Friends of the Earth. I own nothing, only Friends of the Earth shares.”

Daniel remembers what Harry said earlier: “But how does that work out for your dad? How can he send you that much money?”

“The thing with a software company is that you make your revenue in crypto currencies, and all your assets are software, too. So the key and root-password holders can control everything themselves, and have no need for the police to enforce their holdings. IA management siphons off a big chunk of the corporate profits into secret crypto vaults. They don’t declare any of it, but no one can steal it either. Also, the police can’t force them to hand over their passwords, even if the shareholders sue them — that would be a violation of the human right to password secrecy. Dwayne and his partners are part of a small global elite of crypto billionaires.”

“Aha, a backdoor, of course. I was starting to wonder…”

Daniel leans back in his chair and summarizes: “Together with the reimbursements, the human right to private property now has both a lower and an upper limit.”

Szimo reaches out and raises both arms: “Life plays between limits.”

Two more friends of Vany and Szimo turn up, then three more, pulling out a table. Talk about other people’s lives — Daniel detaches from the discussion. The old rule still applies: the intellectual level of a conversation is inversely proportional to the number of participants.

* * *

(The sources of Inspiration in earlier chapters not mentioned may help

The Right to Digital Privacy

Decentral Wealth Registries for real estate

An old sage!

A fantastic biology professor teaching the mathematics of dynamic systems at university of Zurich, whose name I forgot.

The old rule is called “herd-poisoning”, from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Revisited