Dragaerans and learning (was re: the honing of Vlad)

Mon Feb 20 09:39:07 PST 2006

Davdi Silverrock wrote:

> > Is this an assumption that the Jenoine fiddled with how long it takes to
> > form a memory on Dragaerans while they were fiddling with everything
> > else (ie, if you're looking for differences between long-lived and
> > short-lived versions, maybe you need to rearrange how memories are
> > formed, otherwise your long-lived versions don't learn anything past
> > their first century just like your short-lived versions),
> Yes, something like that.  I mean, it follows from the fact that their
> maturation rate appears to be a great deal slower than that of humans
> (Easterners) that *something* has been slowed down in the way the
> Dragaeran brain develops and works.  They don't seem to have a
> generally slower metabolism or slower mental response, so the best
> extrapolation is to look to memory formation as the explanation of the
> slow maturation rate.

Not necessarily, perhaps.  IANA biologist, but at least in the popular
press, it's been reported that one reason teens seem to forget stuff
they'd learned earlier is because they have - ie, during the teen years
new neural connections are being formed (and pruned if not used), just
like after birth.  So, if Dragaeran "teen" years are extended and they
still have the neuron connections either forming or getting pruned thru
lack of use like Easterners, perhaps Dragaeran "teens" need to repeat
the stuff they've learned over and over again or else lose it.  Once
they become adults, though, they're no slower than Easterner adults at
learning things.  (Possible textevd - Vlad doesn't note that it's only
Easterners who generalize from one example, and the Dragaerans have to
get hit repeatedly over the head with a clue by four before they pick up
that something's changed.  OTOH, you do have to wonder why it never
occurred to them that the Lesser Sea of Chaos might be of interest to
the Jenoine if the bigger one was protected. Although possibly that's
because the gods follow your model and do need several hits of a

Also kinda wonder if there's a cultural reason trying to keep children
as 'children' for as long as possible.   The Dragaeran empire doesn't
seem to be particularly expanding, so if the pie isn't growing, there
ought to be fights over who gets what share of the pie.  Given Dragaeran
lifespans, and IIRC there's no suggestion that Dragaerans go in for
midlife crises and change careers every century or so, waiting for the
boss to die or retire so the middle managers can move up could be a
really long wait.  Especially if the boss doesn't want to get pushed out
(perhaps Vlad succeeded because the other bosses found him very useful -
someone who could be used against a Dragaeran ambitious underling, but
was so shortlived that even if he proved over-successful, they could
just wait for him to die in a few decades rather than having to move
against him overtly.  And given prejudice against Easterners, the odds
that the ambitious underlings might ally with said Easterner and
doublecross the boss are probably less than for a similarly successful
young Dragaeran who was moving up the ranks.  They just miscalculated on
just how over-successful an Easterner could be).

Anyway, a cultural expectation that kids need lots of learning before
they can be trusted as an adult might be one way for Dragaeran culture
to evolve to reduce such competition.  If you're considered able to earn
your own way at 100, but have about 2500 years of work to get to the top
rank, that could be rather frustrating.  If you know that you'll not be
a real adult until about 1000 or 2000, then another 1000 or so years
might not seem that bad once you get there.

> Ultimately, it may simply be that culturally, they generally don't
> care that much about the way a refreshment has been created; they just
> want to drink it.  Caring about something means that one pays
> attention to fine distinction in varieties, and names them.  I'm sure
> that Dragaerans involved in trading or creating brandy pay attention
> to the difference, since they have a financial stake involved.
But if the Dragaeran consumer doesn't care about the distinction in
alcohol content enough to differentiate it when asking for it, why would
the producers? Distillation does result in a more concentrated kick, but
also in less to sell - and so, unless there's some way to get paid more
for less volume, they shouldn't bother. 

> And as an analogy, consider that most Americans don't care whether a
> beer is a lager or an ale or a lambec or whatever - they just want
> Miller or Budweiser or Coors in large quantities (feh).  And to the
> left, beer fans do care, and tend to be more aware of the
> distinctions.
> So I would tentatively conclude that the wine-brandy lack of
> distinction is not that meaningful.
> Perhaps our resident linguist will comment at some point.