[Mail Call 04/24/17] – General Update Edition

Note: This was posted yesterday, but apparently stuff didn’t sync, so I’ll probably have something up today as well.

First things first. The website’s experiencing troubles (again) over the weekend. What I can say with some honest confidence is that it goes down due to any number of things ranging from attacks to too much server traffic to general shenanigans.

Sorry, folks, but it’s what it is. We’re doing our best.

Thank you for the random questions. Zero’s actually working on the video-related stuff now.

Right now, it looks something like this.

…Yeah, it’ll be something derp-cute, I think, but other than that, it’s on-going.

You’ll see a number of new things in the works. First, we’ve reorganized the site. 2016 and the U.S. Navy Cuisine book now have its own sections on the site, and the Pacific section is now its own thing. As I mentioned a while back, I’ve made a “timeline” of sorts detailing the tidbits and all the random stuff we’ve done for Pacific. That timeline’ll get updated as constantly as I can – there’s a lot of stuff I’m trying to finish up in the meantime.

There’s another book that we’re putting out. It’s called “Fate in History.” The book is Zero’s idea about a what-if of an exhibit of Fate series characters, but as their “historical” counterparts. In particular, we’re going with the hypothesis that the historical origin of Arthur is, well, Roman.

The artist has often been mistaken for November because of his similar looking art style, but he’s not November. In a very roundabout fashion, Maria (it’s a dude, just to clarify) found us a year or so back. If you’ve seen some homebrew’d British shipgirls (sort of like Pacific, only minus the worldbuilding and the lore), he’s the guy.

Now, where do we stand with the other stuff?

We’re working on logistics pertaining to 2016. Again, if you’ll recall it took us nearly a year and a half to sort out Pacific proper, I can say 2016 won’t take that long, but we’re working on it.

Volume 3: My great uncle’s girl (his words, not mine) has been done. I think we’re good for August release, but don’t quote me on that. November is working very hard. Especially now we need to sort out the rigging so that they’re uniform.

Silent Service: All the shipgirls except for one has been fully illustrated. Sima is working on expressions and fun stuff now. By my count we have 7 1/2 US subgirls, one U-boat, one Japanese subgirl, and two Soviet ones. Below you can see an example of an expression. We’ve picked a number of expressions that we feel exemplifies the particular girl’s personality. It’s also a really easy way for us to do some stuff on the site with text and liven the page up a bit.

I think at this point Pacific has yet another inside joke.

The Royal Navy is basically cast as “Sir not appearing in Pacific” because we never get around to finishing any of the British shipgirls. For Silent Service we briefly thought about perhaps bringing the British Trout, but then we realize it’d be really confusing. That, and I’m not quite prepared to settle the lore on what happens with two shipgirls having the same name just yet.

Here in the western-speaking countries, British sources on WW2 are pretty much second only to the US in terms of the sheer quantity of stuff out there that you can get. Well, I’ve got my hands full already with the American side, and currently we’ve really got no one taking the reins on the UK. Its role in storytelling is more or less a counterweight to the US. The UK is still quite capable of influencing international politics, it’s a convenient tool for us to keep the regions that I’m not interested in (e.g. the Middle East, Africa, etc) peaceful, and it acts as a direct counterbalance to the USSR.

At the cost of Germany and to a lesser extent, France, the actual Cold War is less U.S. vs. USSR and more like U.K vs. the USSR, with the US backing the U.K. mostly except for some very unusual circumstances. Again, given a not-collapsing Soviet Union, there is always that latent threat where another war can start in Europe or worse, the spread of communism.

Pacific’s USSR is a very curious mix in that it is largely concerned with its own affairs. Not much revolution-exporting there. To policy analysts, though, there’s that latent danger. Present day, Pacific, the USSR is more or less functional. A strong leader has emerged after nearly three decades of internal bloodshed, and things have been looking up for the last ten or so years.

This didn’t come to a surprise to America’s leadership. In fact, America in Pacific is basically hitting most of our modern technological developments decades in advance of when they would have showed up in real life.

The America in this particular setting is unique. It’s familiar to us, especially those born in the 90s, but it’s still different. On average less people are crowded into large cities, driving down poverty. Manufacturing, materials, and industry are still jobs that are capable of fully sustaining a family if they wish. The average education level still lags far behind that of Europe, with much fewer people choosing to attend college or obtain higher education. However, in contrast, high school completion rates are typically five to ten points higher in comparison to where they were at here. Wages have had steady and slow increases, and Americans, too, are just beginning to reap the fruits of global trade.

These are just examples of some of the small tweaks I’ve carried out, and the resultant changes that follows. You guys have seen my writings. You know how much I love this country. It’s part of why I find Pacific fascinating.

Now, I originally set out to basically (and perhaps naively) wanting to butterfly away much of the issues in which I believed to have turned America into what it is today. It’s not that I don’t want to do so in my fictional work, but I want to make what I do meaningful.

In other words, simply “fixing it” by wiping away the past in an attempt to undo what will be isn’t good enough. What I’m focused on now is trying to understand (deeply) what will happen or what might happen if X didn’t happen. For instance, what happens if the Vietnam War concluded with a North-South Vietnam similar to Korea? Would America have been more or less prone to adventurism? How would the Civil Rights movement turn out if Dr. King wasn’t assassinated, or if he was assassinated a month, a year later? Could we have worked things out with our primary geopolitical adversary? If so, how?

I used to think that I can go in with a cleaver. If I could change X, surely the world would turn out to be better. Fast forward to today and I’m going at history with basically a scalpel. You’ll see – and I hope you’ll appreciate – how different things can be if things happened slightly differently. After all, incremental changes can result in very big differences over time.

Silent Service II: Submarine Roles

Tautog here. We’ve got a two-parter talking about historical sub design, but before I go into that K9 wanted me to talk a little bit about general principles behind submarines.

So, as I said before. Submarines do a lot of things. Their main job is pretty obvious – sinking ships, but they also run cargo, lay mines, recon areas, secretly land troops, and even help with shore bombardment. If you’ve got a job for a ship that can stay hidden, chances are, a submarine’s done it before.

During the cold war, submarines got additional jobs. While they were used to scout before, the newer generation of submarine allowed for a lot more information gathering, like trailing enemy submarines, taking pictures of coastlines, and intercepting enemy transmissions. The cold war also saw the rise of the ballistic missile submarine. Those subs carry nuclear missiles – think of them as a moving but invisible missile silo, and you’ll quickly see why they’re strategically important.I’m sure Cusk has more to say about this topic later.

As you can see, submarines are an indispensable part of any navy. You definitely won’t see them going away (like the battleship, heh) anytime soon! The take home message here, though, is that submarines can do something no other ships do, and that’s to do things while staying hidden. Whether they’re acting as an invisible missile silo or a silent hunter beneath the seas, a good submarine is very difficult to find for the enemy, and that’s one of its biggest advantages.

So, it’s no surprise then that a lot of technology goes towards keeping a submarine stealthy. But, think about this for a second. Stealth isn’t everything. For a submarine to attack anything, it must throw off its “cloak.” In other words, once a submarine attacks a target, it in effect discards its greatest advantage, and thereby renders it vulnerable to counterattack.

Given that submarines are very poorly armored, it gave submarine commanders an interesting dilemma. Do I risk my safety so I can be aggressive and go on the attack? Or is it better for me to stay hidden until I can make a “safer” attack, but possibly at the cost of the attack’s success?

Submarine commanders had to deal with this particular trade-off because so much of what they do depended on it. In fact, you look at all the great submarine captains of all countries in the war, and you’d say that a lot of them had a thing for danger. To be an effective submarine captain you had to be aggressive, and you had to be willing to put yourself out there.

But, if you were too effective, you’d probably end up on the bottom of the ocean floor. That’s the deadly game that submarines play more so than any other ship type. The ones that are really good knew when to call it quits and “cashed out” their successes before too many enemies showed up. They also had a sense for when the risk was worth it – and when it was not.

Historically, prior to World War II, the US trained its submariners almost exclusively in matters of self-preservation and caution. Stealth and evasion and avoidance was what was emphasized. In fact, during pre-war war-games and exercises, if a submarine was so much as spotted by a plane, that sub counted as “sunk” in those exercises!

Yeah. So, before the war, the submarine was supposed to approach stealthily, minimizing one’s periscope exposure and rely on passive sonar. This made sense at the time, because the only times where a submarine would be easily detected would be right after its attack. The wake of the torpedo, the tell-tale signs of the periscope, or even the most obvious – the wreckages, which may or not be on fire – that the submarine left behind. All of those are pretty good signs that a submarine was nearby. It took many years and many developments in modern technology to make it so that we can get better at picking out submarines before they attack, but that’s another tale for another time.

What we found out was that this just wouldn’t do the job. U.S. submariners learned very quickly that the best way to do things was to attack on the surface at night. Yeah, sounds crazy, right? Well, they’d have gotten reprimanded before the war for such recklessness, but it was what ended up working really well.

Right, of course. I had almost forgotten. You’re here for cute subgirls in bikinis too.

Here’s who I’ll be introducing you to next. She’s pretty quiet, so don’t expect her to be as social as me!

Or, maybe she’s the next one? Gah, I need to check my schedule again. Everyone’s been drawn at this point. We’ve got twelve new subgirls –

*mutters* Stupid swimsuit calendar…

for the book, so, hmm…

Wait, hold on. If Bats and Pam and Lori are in, I gotta go check if Frenchie is around, too. Okay, be back in a bit!

[Historical Inspirations] 2017/04/20 – Japan & Its Historical Approach to Food

Sune here! I guess I should use a different tagline for this Mail Call since it really deals mostly with real life history.

Today’s update is in response to someone who thinks I am treating Japan badly. The question, when translated, is “How can Japan has a national motivation of securing food when Japan has been a prosperous and capable country in real life?”

Japanese cuisine is typically characterized by its simplicity. This was a historical matter as well as a cultural one. Japan is not a resource rich country. Its cuisine reflects that as a result of both economic and cultural realities. Japanese food economics historically has relied heavily on rice and lesser grains as a staple and seafood as a heavy supplement. Oils, red meats, fats and such are much rarer in Japanese cuisine than its neighbors.

For that matter, most of Japanese land is poor and not suitable for farming. If I tell you people used to fight for the right to eat white rice you might be shocked, but when we have a unit used historically to measure wealth (koku) that is literally an approximation of how much rice a person needs to survive for a year it shows just how important things are.

There is more to the historical precedent.

Historically Imperial Japan recognizes the necessity of living space in the context of food security. While no such term was formally coined like Nazi Germany the concept was the same. The bigger reason is all in the details. The Imperial Japanese Army saw that Germany was reliant on outside resources and became alarmed because when Germany was starved of those resources it was defeated. Virtually all of Japan’s raw materials had to be imported. In order to make Japan self-sufficient so Japan cannot be defeated Japan must create its own empire.

Evicting millions of Chinese farmers from Manchuria to make room for Japanese colonists to produce food for the homeland is one example. Japan being very interested in creating colonies for itself is another. Japanese farms being inefficient and incapable of producing food that allows for sustained national expansion is yet another. Economic interests is yet another.

Japanese reliance on its colonies for producing rice went from about 5% of its overall rice crop in the 1910s to about 20% in less than twenty years. Poor management of domestic policies did not result in an increase of wealth to the Japanese poor and farming classes. While we were starving the subhumans in Asia (Morgane has said that it was a rude word but I am just stating what the Army thought of the non-Japanese in the colonies at the time to emphasize how brutal the times were) a decrease in prices of rice (due to greater imports) resulted in massive poverty. Farmers could not sell their rice at the old prices due to cheaper imports and were forced to buy food. In many cases the cost to produce rice in the Japanese homeland was more than what the farmer would receive on the marketplace. In order to survive and pay rent they must take loans in which many times were very high in interest.

I had the opportunity to look at some not-destroyed records of the time. By 1931 when we were invading Manchuria farmer debt accounted for one THIRD of Japan’s gross national product.

At the time in 1930 documented deaths in newborns and other infants due to malnutrition and starvation was approximately five hundred thousand. About one of every ten child will not live to see his or her first birthday. Two hundred thousand elementary school aged children were attending class without anything to eat for lunch. People were eating tree bark and fertilizer (because of fish bits) and tens of thousands families were literally selling their daughters into sexual slavery just so they could survive.

Japan had problems and food was one of its biggest. I would not say that the militarists and ultranationalists “fooled” the Japanese people by “exploiting” this undercurrent of anger and directed it outward. There is no fooling anyone there. This was a concern significant to the population and most people eagerly went along with it. Japan was not lacking in political diversity or ideology at this time. The people just did not want to do things differently. Especially not when the military actively promoted self-interest and made the lives of those siding with it much better.

Some English-speaking KanColle fans have this idea somehow that everything was wonderful during the pre-war years. I can only say with certainty that parts of Japan was doing very wonderfully. For all of its technological advancements Imperial Japan is an excellent case study for systematically poor management and national policy making.

I tell you this not to embarrass my country and my ancestors. It is simply what it is. In order for Japan to move forward in this world or in our world it is necessary for us to look at history and understand what happened.

Anyway I will not bore you with more details of the rural reform plans or Manchuria or even indigenous Japanese policies that help inspire many angles of Pacific’s Japan. I will simply say that in real life, there is a book, 餓死(うえじに)した英霊たち, showing that more than half of the Japanese military losses were due primarily to hunger and starvation.

Pacific’s Japan knows this and tries to learn from this. Its strategy of trying to obtain living space and to improve its domestic industries has not changed from the defeated empire. From a purely thematic perspective my emphasis for Japan is practicality above all else. Much like real life history the Japanese government is still ran by the old Imperialists in Pacific. The old fears are also still there, but unlike the Empire Japan now has no colonies to extract food from.

And so Japan placed all of its hopes on three things. Scientific advancement. National patriotism. Time. Like Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan did the first two things and waited for an opportunity. It would soon get one.

When the U.S. Pacific Fleet was nearly eradicated in a skirmish (covered up as a nuclear detonation + weapons system malfunction) against the Abyssal Fleet in a foolish show of force, Japan saw its chance. Here was the perfect chance to realign and revitalize itself nationally and militarily. The resurgent Soviet Union, a growing Chinese threat, and the weakened American presence in East Asia all pointed to an opportunity of the once in a lifetime type for Japan to make it great (?) again.

The opportunity died with the Hyuuga Incident.

[Mail Call]2017/04/19 – On international collaboration

Again, this mail call is more of a “group” of question types that’s been raised up during discussion. Specifically, the nature of the cold war and how the world alters.

“If the US and the USSR cooperates more does it mean there’s no cold war?”

Not really. Countries have different interests, and the US and the USSR will still be going head to head on certain matters that will result in tensions and will result in conflict. In order to maintain a reasonable degree of believability we can’t just have the USSR and the US and everyone else hold hands and suddenly be friends. While that’s what I’d like to see happen, it’s going to take decades of continued work to get to that point, and some of the more cynical folks would point to say, our relationship with France or the UK and say that there’s no such thing as friendships between countries.

However, how the two countries compete. How they choose to interact. That, I think is worth exploring. Let me show you an example.

This proposal, raised by Eisenhower in 1955, is commonly known as the Open Skies doctrine, though I’ve heard that the concept is really termed “mutual aerial observation.” The proposal to the Soviets was pretty simple. You give us your maps, we give you ours, and we each allow unlimited observational flights over each other’s territory. We’ll tell each other where our military bases are so we can check on each other in case there are arms build-ups and the like.

In real life, the Soviets rejected this. Khrushchev denounced the idea, calling it little more than “U.S. espionage.” Latter media (not only Russian media, American media as well) has criticized Eisenhower’s intent, critiquing that he probably knew the Soviets would never have agreed to such an idea and wanted to use it to embarrass the Soviet Union so that the US could maintain the moral high ground by appearing to be more pro-peace.

Studying Eisenhower’s biography, however, and I think this is an important perspective to keep in mind. Frequently, I believe US policy is not entirely dictated by the realities of realpolitik. Rather, much of the policies set forth do depend heavily on the individual in question. There’s a particular brand of idealism found in the ideas presented by many U.S. presidents, possibly due to historical tradition or cultural values, and I think Eisenhower is no exception. I’m not saying that he doesn’t see the reason in presenting the US as the country calling for peace. Leaders of countries are frequently far more capable than we give them credit for. What I am saying that Eisenhower’s military experience gave him a lot of personal reasons to not want to see a “nuclear Pearl Harbor” or for us to get into an arms race.

A trip to the Eisenhower library or even the website’ll tell you a lot about his personality and there’s plenty of quotes online that you can look at to see if you reach similar conclusions.

So, what happens in Pacific, then?

Of course the Soviets shoot the idea down! At the time, it simply wouldn’t be realistic enough for the Soviets to agree to something as drastic as this.

However, given the overall trajectory of this particular world’s historical development, the rejection wasn’t as blunt. Khrushchev might have thought for a moment and said nothing, and the Soviet delegate hurriedly called the meeting to a close without commenting on it terribly much.

Or maybe that there were talks to begin about what the details may be, and because the US and the Soviets couldn’t agree on anything, the talks never went through.

Now you see why I find Pacific fun. There are several things I’d like to see happen, and one of the ways to do this is through careful arrangements of historical events. Ultimately, it’s up to the reader to decide if the path we took is believable. 🙂

See you next time.