Kipling’s Dedication to the City of Bombay

The Cities are full of pride,
Challenging each to each —
This from her mountain-side,
That from her burdened beach.

They count their ships full tale —
Their corn and oil and wine,
Derrick and loom and bale,
And ramparts’ gun-flecked line;
City by City they hail:
“Hast aught to match with mine?”

And the men that breed from them
They traffic up and down,
But cling to their cities’ hem
As a child to the mother’s gown;

When they talk with the stranger bands,
Dazed and newly alone;
When they walk in the stranger lands,
By roaring streets unknown;
Blessing her where she stands
For strength above their own.

(On high to hold her fame
That stands all fame beyond,
By oath to back the same,
Most faithful-foolish-fond;
Making her mere-breathed name
Their bond upon their bond.)

So thank I God my birth
Fell not in isles aside —
Waste headlands of the earth,
Or warring tribes untried —
But that she lent me worth
And gave me right to pride.

Surely in toil or fray
Under an alien sky,
Comfort it is to say:
“Of no mean city am I!”

(Neither by service nor fee
Come I to mine estate —
Mother of Cities to me,
But I was born in her gate,
Between the palms and the sea,
Where the world-end steamers wait.)

Now for this debt I owe,
And for her far-borne cheer
Must I make haste and go
With tribute to her pier.

And she shall touch and remit
After the use of kings
(Orderly, ancient, fit)
My deep-sea plunderings,

And purchase in all lands.
And this we do for a sign
Her power is over mine,
And mine I hold at her hands!

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Sept 11, 2001: the end of a peaceful interlude?

‘‘I suppose that what September 11th did was not so much change how we think of the world or humanity as remind us of a lot of things we already knew about humanity. (We could have done without the reminder.) It reminds us that any time of peace and prosperity is a fortunate exception to the way the machinery ordinarily works, and in retrospect it makes you appreciate that time.’’
Tim Powers

Peregrinus — the Roman traveller

Traveling in a pre-industrial society is a common matter in role-playing games. When I design such games, I usually insert text and tables that show what distance it is possible to cover during a day, depending on terrain. They are based on my experiences or hiking, sailing and canoeing in the Swedish wilderness.

The Romans were the infra-structure experts of the Iron Age and their roads and bridges served as major conduits of trade and transport for centuries after the fall of the Western Empire. A game designer has a lot to learn from those people. Here is a link to a clever piece of software on that subject.

ORBIS — the guide to traveling in the Roman empire >>>