Troubling demographics – Chap. 3, Act 4, Strip 56

Yeah, that sudden decrease in population is really going to look bad on Captain Emo’s record as a ruler. And he doesn’t even have any war, famine or plague to excuse it – just an everyday technical issue. I guess he should have used his unlimited back-up plan to back up his populace, instead of storing unlimited back-up plans. Or at least kept a few contigency subjects on his mobile phone. Well, hindsight is 20/20.

As is foresight, or at least the kind of foresight you have with the benefit of hindsight. Just like any other villain down through fictional history, once Captain Emo reaches the point were all of his carefully laid plans appear to be in utter ruin, he suddenly remembers that he was actually sure he would arrive at that point no matter what. Which, of course, makes one wonder why he even bothered in the first place.

And yeah, Captain Emo’s population figures are updated in real-time, without any need to laborously organize a census. And that’s not just because his subjects are computer-generated – it generally works that way for fictional rulers. Well, fictional rulers operating in a medieval/fantasy setting sometimes have to send a secretary into the next room to retrieve the scroll with the up-to-date, comprehensive information, but that’s about how far it goes. No, the Sheriff of Nottingham wouldn’t realistically have had precise files on the amount of taxes owed by individual villagers. Or on the number of villagers in a village. At times, probably not even on the number of villages in his district. Forceful search and seizure wasn’t his personal hobby, nor a sign of a particularly brutal and arbitrary rulership – for long stretches of the middle ages, it was simply the standard way to collect taxes in the absence of reliable figures on population and incomes.

More on Monday.

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