Friday, September 30, 2011

Hard Problems Lack Simple Solutions

Well, the title says it all, doesn't it?

Almost everyone thinks that the annual deficits in the U.S. have reached alarming levels. Even worse than the $1 trillion+ deficits as far as the eye can see are the liabilities - off-the-books as far as the deficit is concerned, an accounting sleight-of-hand that only a government could get away with - of various social programs, especially Medicare but also including Social Security.

The Pollyanna-ish view is that we don't have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem. Or, to put it another way, we don't tax enough. If we just tax the rich - sometimes expressed as "making the rich pay their fair share" - we can go on spending on everything from universal health care to foreign military adventures to...well, cowboy poetry festivals.

The harsh reality is that there just aren't enough rich people - truly rich people - to make the numbers work. The middle class is where the money is. And it should come as no surprise that politicians of all persuasions find it a good idea to pander to the middle class - that large group of voters who will make or break a career in politics.

While President Obama likes to talk about ending tax breaks for "millionaires and billionaires," the fine print always mentions a $200,000 annual income for individuals and $250,000 for households as the dividing line between "millionaires" and the rest of us.

Sunday's Washington Post had two pieces that put the problem in perspective. The first, an op-ed in the business section by Fiscal Times columnist Karen Hube, noted that some of the truly rich people, Warren Buffett most notably, complain that they are not taxed enough. Buffett recently said that his average tax rate was lower than the administrators in his office, and that this wasn't "fair." Well, fair or not, the President's most recent tax plan, er, "jobs bill" does little to address this imbalance. The President's bill would limit deductions for mortgage interest, charitable donations, and state and local taxes, but, Hube notes, this would do little to affect taxes paid by the truly rich.

The Obama proposal doesn’t address the major reason for the kind of tax inequity that exists between Buffet and his secretary: the preferential tax treatment of capital gains and dividends. The tax rate on dividends and long term capital gains is 15 percent, while the top income tax rate is 35 percent.

The super-wealthy can easily cut their effective tax rates to half of the 35 percent income tax rate by drawing modest incomes and using their long-term gains to live on, according to [director of federal tax at the Center for Budget and Policiy Priorities Chuck] Marr.

At the same time, this article in the Post notes that the big winners in the tax break sweepstakes have been the middle class.

The number of tax breaks has nearly doubled since the last major tax overhaul 25 years ago, with lawmakers adding new benefits for children, college tuition, retirement savings and investment. At the same time, some long-standing breaks have exploded in value, such as the deduction for mortgage interest and the tax-free treatment of health-insurance premiums paid by employers....

Only about 8 percent of those benefits went to corporations. (The write-off for corporate jets equals about .03 percent of the total.) The bulk went to private households, primarily upper-middle-class families that Obama has vowed to protect from new taxes.

“The big money is in the middle-class subsidies,” said Syracuse University economist Leonard Burman, former director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. “You’re not going to balance the budget by eliminating ethanol credits. You have to go after things that really matter to a lot of people.”

These tax breaks weave an invisible web of government benefits that now costs nearly as much as the Pentagon and all other federal agencies combined.

Not surprisingly, polls have shown that the vast majority of voters don't want their Social Security benefits cut, don't want changes in Medicare, don't want to pay higher taxes, and really like their tax breaks. It's easy to vote a tax cut, or a benefit increase, or a new spending program, but nearly impossible to raise taxes, cut benefits, or eliminate programs.

For those inclined to blame the Bush administration for such things, the Post provides a great deal of support.

The biggest culprit, by far, has been an erosion of tax revenue triggered largely by two recessions and multiple rounds of tax cuts. Together, the economy and the tax bills enacted under former president George W. Bush, and to a lesser extent by President Obama, wiped out $6.3 trillion in anticipated revenue. That’s nearly half of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt. Federal tax collections now stand at their lowest level as a percentage of the economy in 60 years.

Big-ticket spending initiated by the Bush administration accounts for 12 percent of the shift. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have added $1.3 trillion in new borrowing. A new prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients contributed another $272 billion....

Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus, a favorite target of Republicans who blame Democrats for the mounting debt, has added $719 billion — 6 percent of the total shift, according to the new analysis of CBO data by the nonprofit Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative. All told, Obama-era choices account for about $1.7 trillion in new debt [albeit over three years, rather than eight], according to a separate Washington Post analysis of CBO data over the past decade. Bush-era policies, meanwhile, account for more than $7 trillion and are a major contributor to the trillion-dollar annual budget deficits that are dominating the political debate.

(One could certainly quibble about the Post's article. National Review's Jim Geraghty notes that the Bush years raised the debt by $4.9 trillion over eight years, while the debt under Obama increased by $3.6 trillion in 27 months. I'm not pointing fingers here, and there's plenty of blame to go around, including both Republican- and Democratic-controlled Congresses.)

The amounts are staggering, and's not too late to change course. Politicians need to step up to the plate and acknowledge that the promises made aren't feasible. Doing is soon is important, though. Wait too long and, rather than enjoying 90% of benefits, we'll be making do with 50%.

Of course, part of the problem is that most people have high discount rates; that is, they weigh future consumption much less than consumption today. It's why savings rates are too low, and it's why few people are interested in paying more today for retirement years from now (or paying the same today for less of a retirement years from now). Worse, they think the problem will not be their problem, but will belong to a future generation. Why so many people are interested in consuming their children's and grandchildren's income is beyond me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kathy Hits the Target

I thought I'd take a stab at the Avatar Games.

In honor of "talk like a pirate" day (I suppose), announcer R. Crap Mariner was very piratical.

One of the contestants at the starting line. That outfit looks built for glamor, not speed.

Some of the motley band of spectators and shooters.

Hey, I'm on the leader board! It sure seems like luck, rather than aiming, when I hit something, but 20+ hits to my measly five suggests that some people have mastered the art of aiming those Wallopers.

An excellent way to let out some of the day's frustrations.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Class Warfare

The Associated Press (via the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto) writes of the President's "Buffett rule" idea:

"Warren Buffett's secretary shouldn't pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. There is no justification for it," Obama said as he announced his deficit-reduction plan this week. "It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million."

On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.

The 10 percent of households with the highest incomes pay more than half of all federal taxes. They pay more than 70 percent of federal income taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office....

There may be individual millionaires who pay taxes at rates lower than middle-income workers. In 2009, 1,470 households filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million yet paid no federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service. But that's less than 1 percent of the nearly 237,000 returns with incomes above $1 million.

This year, households making more than $1 million will pay an average of 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes, payroll taxes and other taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay an average of 15 percent of their income in federal taxes.

Lower-income households will pay less. For example, households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will pay an average of 12.5 percent of their income in federal taxes. Households making between $20,000 and $30,000 will pay 5.7 percent.

The latest IRS figures are a few years older — and limited to federal income taxes — but show much the same thing. In 2009, taxpayers who made $1 million or more paid on average 24.4 percent of their income in federal income taxes, according to the IRS.

Those making $100,000 to $125,000 paid on average 9.9 percent in federal income taxes. Those making $50,000 to $60,000 paid an average of 6.3 percent.

The country can have a reasonable debate about whether the very wealthy should pay even more in taxes than they do. The country can have a related reasonable debate over the capital gains tax rate, various tax breaks that both reduce tax revenue and create market distortions.* But we can’t have a reasonable debate in which one side says, falsely, that, on average, millionaires pay less in tax, or at a lower tax rate, than middle-class workers.

This reminds me of the debate over the merits of raising the minimum wage back in the mid-90s. Economists David Card and Alan Krueger (the same Alan Krueger who is now tapped to head the Council of Economic Advisors) conducted a study of the effect on employment of raising the minimum wage in New Jersey, and concluded that the higher minimum wage actually increased employment. Now, one could imagine that the effect on employment was essentially zero, or, more likely, that a small decrease in employment occurred but other factors that the authors couldn’t control for more than offset the decrease, but it’s not possible to have a serious conversation about the minimum wage if one side insists that demand curves for labor slope upward.

If, indeed, Warren Buffett - reportedly worth many billions of dollars - is paying a lower average tax rate than his secretary, shame on us. However, if he understands that this is a bad situation for the country and continues to do so while lobbying to have the rule changed, shame on him.


* For example, mortgage interest deduction, which benefits the middle class (as the poor tend not to own houses and the very rich tend not to have mortgages), encourages home ownership at the expense of the rental market. While home ownership has its benefits, it has costs as well, including increasing the costs of moving.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The New Piermont Landing

Mrs. Breezy Carver-Fabre recently unveiled the new Piermont Landing in New Babbage.

Piermont Landing 001

Piermont Landing 002

Piermont Landing 003

The entertainment venue looks radically different from the old - this one has more of an Art Deco feel to it - but there are still plenty of wide-open spaces for dancing - or landing an airship.

Piermont Landing 004

Below, great gears slowly grind in the choppy waters of New Babbage. Are they generating power for the interior of the structure?

Piermont Landing 005

Piermont Landing 006

The sign above the door said that the Engineer's Ball is scheduled for this evening (9/24). Alas, I can't be there, but I'm sure lovely ladies and dashing gentlemen will soon be filling the dance floor.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Alice: Madness Returns

Inspired by the video game of the same name, Alice: Madness Returns combines shopping (including some naughty items - and, as I'm on the subject, the sim is rated Adult, in case that matters) with a number of set pieces from the game.

I'm not familiar with the game itself, but, judging from the web site, the build seems to be faithful to the game.

A room near the landing point sets the mood:

Crowdore 001

Behind the shop is a person-sized keyhole. Walk through it and down the rabbit hole.

Alice is armed!

Crowdore 002

A smug grin indeed:

Crowdore 003

Cry me a river:

Crowdore 004

Clocks everywhere!

Crowdore 005

Cards on attack:

Crowdore 006

This house is never short of tea:

Crowdore 007

Finally, a peaceful, if psychedelic, garden. I'm not sure I want to try those mushrooms.

Crowdore 008

Crowdore 009

(Hat tip to Miss Honour McMillan's lovely entry.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mieville, part 2

The first part of our journey through the Mieville sims focused on the southern five sims. My trip continued through the north.

Below, a Steampunk house in Mieville Kipling (apologies for the viewer controls visible on the picture):

Mieville Kipling 001

The harbor in Mieville Twain:

Mieville Twain 001

More refreshments! The exterior of the Mieville Brewery and Pub...

Mieville Twain 002

...and the interior of the pub. I like the gears on the beer draws.

Mieville Twain 003

A moss-covered building in Twain:

Mieville Twain 004

The disc jockey's musical apparatus on a floating dance floor:

Mieville Twain 005

The sun sets on a Steampunk house in Mieville Shelley:

Mieville Shelley 001

Another Steampunk house - with observatory! - in Mieville Stevenson:

Mieville Stevenson 001

Stevenson and its neighboring sim, Mieville Dickens, are described as "Victorian Steampunk Chinatown," and the Chinese-in-America theme can be seen throughout, including the gates below:

Mieville Dickens 001

This pagoda sits at the top of a hill, surrounded by lovely gardens:

Mieville Dickens 002

There you have it: a whirlwind tour of Mieville! I didn't mention the shops, most of which are Steampunk-themed, so take a full purse when you go.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mieville, Part 1

I started the Steam Hunt - full of good intentions, but got bogged down somewhere in the 30s and lost, uh, steam - and noticed the large number of participating shops in the Mieville sims. I thought a little exploration was in order.

Mieville now consists of 10 sims, all vaguely Steampunk-themed (that is to say, some seem more so than others). I started in the southwest corner, in Mieville Lovelace, and worked my way through the

Mieville Map 001

Lovelace and its neighbor to the east, Poe, are both described as "Victorian Steampunk New Orleans." Lovelace itself is mostly empty, so it's hard to assess that description, but Mieville Poe definitely has a New Orleans feel to the buildings, much like New Toulouse or Caledon Cay.

Mieville Poe 001

There's even a steamwheeler:

Mieville Poe 002

Leaving Poe and continuing east, one reaches Mieville Doyle, which is described as "Victorian Steampunk San Francisco" (as are the next five sims we will encounter). The area just to the east of Poe is dominated by the Mieville Magical Academy, a sort-of Hogwarts without the millennium-old castles and cathedrals used in the talking pictures about that other wizarding school.

Mieville Doyle 9 12 11 001

The interior courtyard of the academy:

Mieville Doyle 9 12 11 002

Elsewhere in Doyle:

Mieville Doyle 9 12 11 003

The waterfront:

Mieville Doyle 9 12 11 004

Haven't I seen that quantum-physics-reading cat before?

Mieville Doyle 9 12 11 005

Of course, I can't help but stop in the local for refreshment. Below, the Laughing Penguin pub:

Mieville Doyle 9 12 11 006

Below, the Perryn Lord Mieville Theater:

Mieville Doyle 9 12 11 007

Mieville Verne, to the north of Doyle, is rural and residential, as the treehouse below indicates:

Mieville Verne 001

To the west of Verne lies Wells. Below, the Timeless Curiosities airship and shop:

Mieville Wells 001

The village in Mieville Wells:

Mieville Wells 002

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hell Week

The Journal has been neglected. It's been Hell Week - or, really, Hell Two Weeks.

My boss is away for three weeks, which increases the amount of stuff that needs tending to around the office. My boss's boss is new, which means she feels a need to stay on top of everything, which means weekly workload meetings. I'm hiring research assistants, which means phone interviews and many back-and-forth discussions with other people in the office. And two cases of mine appear to be steaming toward litigation, with a third in a hopeless mess caused by the confluence of being ambushed by a set of lawyers and a friendly fire incident with my own staff guy.

Here's a little levity, though: the weekly workload meeting, which is usually held in my office building, was scheduled for this Thursday only to be held in the Big Boss's office, in a separate building, several Metro stops away. My colleague and I dutifully arranged to arrive early at said building, had a cup of coffee, and waited until the appointed time....Only to find no one there. Hmm, odd. Wait a moment. Nope, none of the three people that work in that building who should have been at the meeting were there. They couldn't have gone to the other building, could they? Check email. Oh yes, the could indeed.

All three of them. Independently. Each showed up, wondered why the two people critical to a workload meeting were both gone. Not one of them noticed that the meeting location had been changed...and one of them must have ordered the change. Back on the Metro we go!

I said at the time "only in government could something be screwed up that badly," but I suspect that's not true. Only in a big, dysfunctional organization could something be screwed up that badly.

Maybe next week will go more smoothly. One can but hope.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Steampunk Reading

It's been quite some time since I nattered on about recent books I've read. Here are some brief thoughts about some Steampunk books (some more Steampunk than others, I'll admit) from the past year.

Susanna Clark, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2004)

Not a Steampunk novel, but instead a novel of magic and manners of the early 19th century, I had purchased the book several years before I read it, daunted by its thousand-page length. Despite the length, the Victorian-style language, and the dense footnotes (many of which relate some episode in the history of English magic), the book was surprisingly easy to read and, dare I say, fun.

Mr. Norrell, a fussy little scholar, has devoted his life to learning "practical" magic. He finds a protege in the talented dilettante Jonathan Strange, who is willing to draw on darker powers than his mentor dares. After working together to, among other things, help the English defeat Napoleon's forces, the two ultimately part ways and Norrell determines to demonstrate that his approach to magic is the better one. When Strange's wife dies, he enters into a bargain to bring her back - in a manner - but finds that he has started down a path that may restore the old magic - and power that dwarfs his own.

The lighthearted tone of the earlier part of the book gives way to a more somber tone as the narrative grows darker, but the entire novel is eminently readable.

Jonathan Green, Unnatural History: Pax Britannia Series (2007)

This is the first book in an ongoing series (mostly written by Green) in which the British empire still rules the world in the late 20th century - including the 160-year-old Queen Victoria, kept alive though steam-powered medical technology.

Ulysses Quicksilver, a dandy by day, action hero by night, works for the government as an unusual troubleshooter. This time, he uncovers a plot to bring down the Crown and...adventures ensue.

The plot is somewhat irrelevant to the book. It serves to move the action forward, as in old adventure serials. Quicksilver is an amusing character, but other characters aren't all that well-developed. The mixture of modern technology and 19th-century technology is a little off-putting, though I give Green credit for moving a Steampunk novel out of the usual Victorian era (though, I suppose it's technically still the Victorian era in his world!). Ultimately, while I found it to be a fun read, I wasn't enthused enough to buy the sequels.

Scott Westerfield, Leviathan (2009)

The first in a trilogy of young adult Steampunk (perhaps more correctly Dieselpunk) novels (Behemoth is out and Goliath is scheduled to be out in September), Leviathan tells two intersecting stories set against an alternate version of World War I. In the first, Deryn Sharp, a young girl, disguises herself as a boy in order to enlist in the air force to support her family. She distinguishes herself in training and finds herself aboard the Leviathan, the British Empire's largest airship - and also a living creature, as the British have become experts in genetic engineering. In the second, young Prince Aleksandar, Archduke Franz Ferdinand's son and heir to the Austrian throne, must make his escape after his parents are assassinated. The Axis powers are expert in mechanical devices, so the conflict becomes one of genetics versus mechanics.

Ultimately, of course, the two stories intersect, as the Leviathan is damaged in battle and its crew encounters the refugee prince and his advisors.

This is another book I couldn't quite get into. In part I had a hard time getting past the conceit that a girl could go undetected in the close quarters of the military, much less in the closer quarters of an airship. Still, an an adventure story for young adults, the book is a quick read filled with action and, of course, the potential for romance down the road.

Cherie Priest, Dreadnought (2010)

A sequel of sorts to Boneshaker, Dreadnought is the story of Mercy Lynch, a nurse and war widow in the Civil War, which has continued into the 1880s as each side tries to wear down the other.

Mercy, working in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, learns that her estranged father is seriously ill back in Seattle, Washington. She takes her few belongings and starts to make her way back home.

The entirety of the novel describes Mercy's journey, from Richmond to Tennessee by airship, then on a series of trains to the west coast. There are various adventures along the way, including an airship crash, a mysterious Texan who joins the caravan west, a locked train compartment guarded by Union soldiers, missing Mexican soldiers, rebel attacks on the train, and the yellow gas/drug first encountered in Boneshaker that turns users into zombies.

It's a long novel with long stretches where the action is thin. There's no big payoff here, just an account of a young woman's dangerous trip west. Nonetheless, Priest keeps the story going and the book was enjoyable to read.

Gail Carriger, Blameless (2010), Heartless (2011)

The latest entries in the Parasol Protectorate series of Victorian romance/adventure pastiches with a Steampunk flavor. In Blameless, our heroine, Lady Maccon, married to a werewolf, finds herself in the family way. As her husband is technically dead and, therefore, unable to have children, he is more than a little perturbed. Alexia travels to Italy for answers and to clear her good name.

In Heartless, Alexia, now well along in her pregnancy (carrying what she refers to as the "infant inconvenience"), must first find out why London's vampires have begun trying to kill her, then uncover why ghosts are whispering about a plot to kill Queen Victoria. As if that weren't enough, Alexia's inventrix friend, Madame Lefoux, is creating something in secret, an Alexia's sister has become a suffragette. To top it off, Biffy, Lord Akeldama's former drone who was turned into a werewolf, is having trouble adjusting to his new condition.

As with all the books in the series, the plotting is crisp, the characters well-drawn, and the action non-stop. Even a pregnancy can't slow down Alexia. Readers who found too much werewolf-on-preternatural grabbing in earlier books will be relieved that Alexia and her husband can (mostly) keep their hands off one another and get on with the plot. The dandy vampire Lord Akeldama features prominently in Heartless, which is quite a good thing.

O.M. Grey, Avalon Revisited (2010)

Less Steampunk than gaslight fantasy, Avalon Revisited involves Arthur, King Henry VIII's older brother (and one-time fiance of Catherine of Aragon), thought to have died in the 16th century but actually turned into a vampire. Now, in the Victorian era, Arthur meets Avalon, a young lady who reminds him of Catherine.

Avalon and Arthur are both interested in getting to the bottom of a series of gruesome series of murders that Arthur suspects is the work of a vampire. Avalon, initially cool to Arthur's attentions, warms to him - until she discovers his secret. Still duty calls, and Avalon, along with her more enthusiastic vampire-hunting partner Victor, use Arthur's talents to uncover the mystery.

Some niggling complaints: Arthur's language tends to be surprisingly modern - as in 21st century modern - despite his origins as a 16th century Tudor. The romance aspect is fairly cookie-cutter. And it's never really clear why Arthur switches from his three centuries of womanizing to a puppy in love over Avalon. If one can ignore those issues, the book was a fun romp - and, in the Kindle edition, the price was definitely right.

Thomas S. Roche, ed., Like a Wisp of Steam (2010)

Five stories of *cough* Steampunk erotica. Here's the sad thing: it wasn't so long ago that I read the book (in Kindle format), but I couldn't tell you anything of substance about any of the stories.

The trouble - or a trouble, at any rate - with short story collections is that the reader invests some mental energy into understanding and believing the world that the author builds...only to have the story end and the reader has to repeat the process. Without an immediate hook into the characters or the situations in which the characters find themselves, the effort feels far too much like work. These stories felt too much like work. All of the setup seemed designed to lead to the erotic scenes.

Perhaps it's not the book, it's me. I often find sex scenes to be so contrived, the language so ridiculous, that I'm in the "less is more" school when it comes to reading the things. Building a story around a sex scene strikes me as odd. In any event, I didn't care for the book.

Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (2011)

I'm currently reading this novel, a Steampunk take of The Avengers, with agent Eliza Braun, sporting a bulletproof corset and a seriously bad attitude, in the Emma Peel role and stuffy agent Wellington Books, archivist in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, in the John Steed role. (Steed seemed to have more fun, though.)

The novel opens as Braun makes a daring rescue of Books, who has been held captive by the opposition and is on the verge of being tortured. Despite her successful mission, Braun is considered too much of a loose cannon and is assigned to the archives with Books, with the hope that he can instill some discipline in her. Then bodies start appearing, and the agents discover that they have something to do with Braun's former partner, now locked in an asylum.

The main characters are well-done and distinctive, and the action is nicely paced. The plot seems preposterous, but, then again, couldn't one say that about most of the episodes of The Avengers? I'm about halfway through the book and looking forward to seeing how the story ends.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

Ten years. Doesn't seem that long, does it? Perhaps that's because of the enormity of the event, or the continual reminders of how the world has changed, such as the TSA screening at airports. Perhaps it's the awkwardly-named "War on Terror that is too often front-page news.


Photo from somewhere on the Interwebs.

Mrs. Aevalle Galicia-Constantine created this memorial in the Jaguarland USA Education region. It's hard to see the ghostly towers in the picture, but they, too remind us of what we lost.

Twin Towers 001

Photo by Kathy Jameson.

Never forget.

(Edited 9-11-11 to correct region name and add a SLRUL.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hotel Rothesay

I seem to be irresistibly draw drawn to the constantly-rotating cast of characters in Caledon Rothesay. Once again, thanks to Mr. Mako Magellan's comments in the Steamlander, I paid a visit.

Miss Gabrielle Riel has decamped from her Duchy of Carntaigh, leaving the entire area to Miss Savannah Blindside, Duchess of Clarendon, and Mr. Blake Panache. The area is still under (re-)construction, but I took a few pictures.

Below, Blindside Manor:

Rothesay 9 4 11 001

Most of the earlier landscaping is gone, yet to be replaced. But the property has a pretty waterfall and small pool.

Rothesay 9 4 11 002

A new building is going up in the center of the property.

Rothesay 9 4 11 003

This scale model suggests what the finished product will look like.

Rothesay 9 4 11 004

Mr. Panache is completing what appears to be a large store and a series of elegant town homes.

Rothesay 9 4 11 005

And what of the earlier residents of Rothesay, Laird Elrik Merlin and the Duchess of Carntaigh? I happened to return to Aether Isle through Victoria City, only to find that both had property in the city. Below, Mr. Merlin's modest home, the new Brideswell Estate:

Rothesay 9 4 11 006

Miss Riel has a larger property and home, Carntaigh House:

Rothesay 9 4 11 007

They can check out of Rothesay any time they like, but they can never leave.