Brian Rapp

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More music reviews from those same three CD cases!  
​​​​​​​Track 1:  A brief mention of hellfire, but otherwise just high levels of peppiness.  ***
Track 2:  Not so peppy, and imagines an end to many avoidable deaths.  Still not bad.  **
Track 3:  A quiet meditation on a shadowy location.  **
Track 4:  Aha.  Exactly one dead bird, but a very moving eulogy for her.  ****
Track 5:  This song has only 7 words.  It's easy to listen to, at least.  **
Track 6:  Again no obvious physical death, but a genuine classic that can't be ignored.  It's about spiritual death, perhaps?  *****
Track 7:  One dead brother, lauded with exceptional peppiness.  Bring tissues.  *****
Track 8:  A bright love ballad that suddenly threatens to burn down cities and hear the lamentation of the women as they are also destroyed.  ****
Track 9:  An extremely peppy hymn to a baby destined for salvific sacrifice.  ****
Track 10:  A cheerful day in the park, then BANG, nuclear holocaust.  Mrs. Ferret claims to hate this song, but this time she played along bravely.  *****
Track 11:  A great song that possibly threatens death by drowning, but I think that's just metaphorical.  ****
Track 12:  A young man has become a petty criminal for reasons that are unclear to him.  He probably didn't kill anyone, but who knows?  **
Track 13:  A remixed version of track 6, probably the singers' best-known song.  It's been covered by a heavy metal group. *****
Track 14:  Dead leaves remind us of the inevitability of aging, loss, and death. ****
Track 15:  I can't find anything to particularly like about this one, but they can't all be hits. *
Track 16:  This song literally refers to the death of raindrops, but no one cries about dead raindrops, right?  **
Track 17:  After this remix/sequel of track 12, my son said "That song is so good, why is it so short?"  This made me very happy. ****
Track 18:  Entirely instrumental, with hints of track 22.  Reasonably peppy. ***
Track 19:  There's no trigger warning in this song about the suicide of a gentleman in otherwise pleasant circumstances. ****
Track 20:  Wow, a second consecutive suicide, of a man in less pleasant circumstances.  Who compiled this album?  I don't like this one as much, probably because it's not as peppy. **
Track 21:  Definitely refers to death, but I'm fairly hopeful that this is just a reference to the death of a love affair. Brief and lacking pep. **
Track 22:  More relationship death, but peppier. ***
Track 23:  A rocking ode to individual isolationism that contrasts a peppy beat with a less-peppy message. ****

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what band is this?
I never got around to providing an answer key for Volume 1, but I enjoyed scoring Robert Bryan’s guesses. This is a much more well-known group, though I scarcely clued the best-known track 13. I feel like someone here knows track 19. Let’s see…
 

ÞÓRUNN is home to a coldly predatory society with a combination of military strength and economic power.  Þórunners frequently raid interstellar traders and poorly-defended outposts.  These pirates of the space lanes do not conceal their origins, but sport badges with the logos of their sponsoring corporation.  According to Þórunning Law, all plundered assets become the property of said financial institution as soon as they are returned to Þórunn itself.  At this point there are usually bribes to be paid to influential off-world interests who might otherwise be inclined to reappropriate the stolen property.  Anyone not dissuaded from that course of action must face the massive energy weapons mounted on each Þórunner vault.  These are advertised by colorful beams aimed into the sky, inviting challengers to take their best shot at attacking Þórunn.

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The Alliance of Nonaligned Worlds is in its 75th Grand Cycle of negotiations regarding the possible wording of an affidavit to convene a grand inquiry into the formation of a committee to discuss the possible phrasing of a strongly worded statement. ANA-SPAN coverage brought to you live by AVAST: your neighbor’s belongings at discount prices.
 

TAKATSUKI is a rocky planet that lies within its star's habitable zone, but it has no atmosphere or native life.  It was colonized in the distant past because of its rich deposits of valuable rare elements.  The first settlers formed independent homesteads accountable only to themselves, but eventually they agreed to form a league that collectively controls the planet and limits immigration.  There are seven members of this league, which are called "Dōmei".  To ensure accountability to this regime, a cryptographically-secure identification scheme was established.  Any new arrival must broadcast their public key, and upon approval is required to join the least-populous Dōmei.  Failure to authenticate is punishable by death, and that sentence may be administered by any citizen.  Crime (such as killing an authenticated citizen) is adjudicated on the "Justice Channel", which transmits evidence for or against the alleged offense.  Each Dōmei gets one vote on whether to revoke the credentials of the accused, which is effectively a sentence of death unless the convicted person can quickly flee off-world.

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Everything was fine until the population was decimated by the SAINTJUST openssl exploit.
 

YORDAN bears an interesting resemblance to Orla in that it is a gas giant with exports based entirely on intellectual property.  Yordanians take the Orlan obsession with their adopted planet to another level, however, by actually worshipping Yordan as a god.  They claim that it whispers to them in their dreams, teaching them secrets of the universe.  Though even their Paraíbite-enhanced neighbors in the Ventura sector warily regard these assertions, their worlds engage in frequent trade.  For it is undeniable that there is something to be learned within the Yordan system.  Yordanians have developed numerous technological advancements, and they also trade in knowledge of a more personal nature.  It is said that making a pilgrimage to Yordan often precedes an unexpected rise to power or a remarkable financial windfall.

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5/31
 

ŠENAUER retains aspects of a feudal society even though it is far more urban than agricultural.  What land does remain under cultivation belongs to just three noble families with roots in Šenauer's ancient history.  Each extended family is quite inbred, and they have taken their characteristic features as signs of their nobility.  Hence the Brada clan strives to breed for ever more prominent chins, the Uši family aims to have the world's longest ears, and the Obrve pride themselves on extravagently large eyebrows.  Appreciation for these features is not universal, however, and indeed Šenaueri frequently insult each other with rude nicknames referencing their exaggerated parts.  One trait that well serves any inhabitant of Šenauer is a (metaphorically) thick skin.

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5/30
 

GYDÉ is a gas giant that is wholly owned by the Praxille Corporation.  Its industry is concerned with the extraction of pharmaceutical chemicals from the planet's atmosphere, and this work is done entirely by automated machinery.  The most important end-product of these chemicals is the life-extension drug "Senolyte".  It is fantastically expensive to create, but for fantastically wealthy individuals, each dose increases the chance of surviving another year to about 99%.  The oldest known Senolyte patient is over 300 years old.  In orbit around Gydé, watching over the robotic workers, are two space stations with two supervisors each.  To compensate for the boring and isolated duty, each supervisor is supplied with Senolyte.  Often the pairs are mated or at least good friends.  Even so, rumors of murder-suicides have been reported.  Hence the backup station to ensure that Praxille maintains uninterrupted occupation of the planet's orbital space.

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Hmm. If you're young, there's little attraction.

So I imagine the Senolyte supervisors are typically seniors, or had life-threatening diseases when they first took the job.

Now they are living roughly as long as they can stand it. If they leave, do they resume their natural lifespan based on the age they started? Or the age they left? Or do they just crumble in a matter of days? At what point is it worth it? How many have stayed for decades just to spite their co-supervisor?
Very little data is available on human Senolyte patients who have voluntarily ceased treatment and subjected themselves to normal aging. Developmental trials suggest that years of life would probably remain, but not a full "lifetime", as Senolyte appears to slow but not stop the aging process. Many life-threatening diseases are not "cured" by Senolyte, however, so a patient with only "weeks to live" would probably succumb to the same disease even sooner.
 

ZEME is quite arid, and its population must rely on two large river systems that flow from inaccessible polar heights towards the equator.  These rivers reach no sea, because they are completely drained by the Zemean military, which controls the human society thanks to their control of the water.  Martial law is modified by a strong tradition of conscious responsibility among Zemeans.  Each soldier of the lowest rank is assigned to a few dozen civilians, often including his own family and nearest neighbors.  In addition to the soldier's usual duties of training and weapon maintenance, he or she must see to it that their "constituents" are squared away.  Only the daily water ration is officially provided by the military, but other issues are handled indirectly by sending "requests" to members of that group.  If a problem is too large to be addressed in this manner, it gets bumped up the chain to a higher-ranking officer.  One hour each day is dedicated to communication on these subjects, and a second hour is spent solely on meditation about them.  No one on Zeme is forgotten, because there is always a soldier somewhere who is obligated to think about each person.

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Good one. This isn’t that different from some aspects of day to day life under some of the more successful insurgent groups on Earth… but you know that. Nicely done.
 

HASHOMER is a single fortified settlement on a hilltop surrounded by untamed wilderness.  Ruled since its founding by the Litvinsky dynasty, it functions as a hunting preserve paid for by interstellar visitors.  Officially HaShomer has only one language, but there are two independent universities that have been rivals for centuries.  Each supports a complete lexicon of "unofficial" words that have nothing to do with the HaShomerite language.  No one outside of Bakum University speaks or understands "HaShang", and only students and faculty at the University of Minhag have any use for "HaSharg".  Every lecture, dissertation, and scientific publication is written entirely in one of these two languages, though.  This has undoubtedly limited the educational potential of those inside and outside this academic system, because no translations are ever made available.

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That’s so [incomprehensible]. Even the most brainless layman knows that [incomprehensible].
 

NAG would be fairly appealing if not for the presence of naturally-occuring toxic compounds in its atmosphere.  The toxins are neutralized by Nag's abundant plant life, but are continously released by native microbes in the soil.  Human society proceeds as normal inside sealed buildings, but not everyone has the luxury of living there.  A unique feature of Naggite society is its progressive caste system.  The lowest-level citizens do all outdoor work like farming, where they must wear helmets and portable breathing apparatus at all times.  All of their children, however, are entitled to move up to the next caste, which labors indoors or transports goods across the globe.  The children of this caste then become managers and administrators.  What becomes of the top-tier's children?  They all join the lowest caste to start over again.  This circle of life is part of the Naggite religion, and no one can advance in caste through any of their own efforts.

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5/26
 

STØVER appears to be just a cratered wasteland covered with grayish dust.  A brave adventurer made one of the most startling discoveries in galactic history, however, when she found out that this dust is edible!  It is, in fact, delicious and a good source of all the nutrients needed for human life.  The first Queen Helle's fortuitous claim resulted in her family becoming extremely wealthy, but she had a foresighted concern for future generations.  She partnered with a genius developer of artificial intelligence who would in due time become Prince Consort Søren.  Together they built a conscience into the very structure of their palace's shining domes.  Royal succession is dependent upon the approval of this AI, which has thus far not yet rejected any candidate from House Virkner.  Nor has any other brave adventurer made his fortune by bravely tasting another dusty planet.

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The dirt must flow!