The Silk Road

An Afghani Jingle Truck
An Afghani Jingle Truck

An anonymous friend of mine who works for the US Government studying contractors tells me:

“In Afghanistan, [shipping]’s not as big a problem [as between Kuwait and Iraq] because the shipping companies are mostly local and they know who to pay off. If you look at pictures of Afghan and Pakistani trucks online, you can see they are covered with jewelry and paintings, which serve to announce their alliances.  They call them ‘jingle trucks’… that’s why convoy security isn’t as difficult in Afghanistan.”

“Holy crap,” I said, paraphrasing myself for this post, “That’s the Silk Road. Still.”

Lest we forget as creators of fictions, I will state this: systems, including Modern systems, are not perfect. They don’t make a homogeneous, Star Trek world. There are local needs that aren’t satisfied by distant, putatively benevolent systems of control. There are traditions that are kept, social mores that evolved for the particular requirements of that area of the world. They don’t change just because there are teleporters.

3 thoughts on “The Silk Road”

  1. This post is cool.

    Commenting is so easy on this blog. I will comment all the time.

    This makes me want to play a sci-fi RPG with ships that have the crew’s political standing in the star system carved into the ship.

  2. Yes.

    I ran a game many years ago where your political affiliation was made obvious by which standard of airlock docking ring you used. Merchants and diplomats had to carry a bunch of adapters.

  3. Oh man that is awesome! I totally love hearing about these types of local systems and how people attempt to turn chaos into order quite creatively–even if it is extremely localized order and might seem incomprehensible or even chaotic to observers from systems more removed.

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