Strange sources of wisdom and capitalism.

05 December 2022

I apologize in advance for how disjointed this post seems. I've been tinkering with it off and on for a while, and I've come to the conclusion that there isn't strictly a linear narrative. The context loops around a bit because it's easier to explain a few things after the fact than it is to arrange them chronologically. I promise, it'll make sense (probably).

Modulo people possibly taking me slightly too seriously I've never been particularly shy about talking about my love of table-top RPGs. Though I started with Dungeons and Dragons as a kid, as I got older I found that my tastes leaned more toward science fiction in general and cyberpunk (local copy) in particular. What I don't often talk about is my fascination with the intersection of real life and art, and how the two things interact and influence each other in weird and interesting ways. I would have said "weird and wonderful" under other circumstances, but unfortunately too many people missed the point.


I got into Shadowrun 1 somewhen around second edition, which had some of the more fun sourcebooks to build games on top of. It was also the era where some of the authors had very interesting professional backgrounds (when they weren't writing RPG books as freelancers) and it came through in their work. The splatbook I'm thinking of in particular as I write this is Corporate Shadowfiles, which talks about the economics, intra- and inter-corporate politics of fictional corporations in a fictional world.

The reason I mentioned the professional backgrounds of the book's contributing authors is because the book describes a certain amount of real-life macroeconomics. It's not anything like a textbook, don't get me wrong. However, not long after moving to the Bay Area I ran into a professor at UC Berkeley who teaches a 100 level economics course who not only regularly attends the on-campus gaming club meetings but references this particular game book in his classes as a way of introducing some counter-intuitive economic principles (such as the differences between voting and non-voting shares of stock and what they mean outside of the context of one's stock portfolio). A bit of wisdom in the book is that if you own a couple of shares of stock in companies that interest you, you'll get periodic mailings from them as a shareholder. This means you get quarterly reports, end of fiscal year reports, random other stuff that you may or may not find useful, and depending on what class of stock you own, you might be asked to vote on corporate policy.

A brief digression.

Growing up I was the kind of kid who'd read anything and everything I could get my hands on, from the daily newspaper to the magazines my grandmother was a subscriber of to books from the library. This included the quarterly news magazine/shareholder reports from the company that my grandfather worked for until he retired in 1981.ev. I didn't quite understand the meaning of what I was reading in them (not until much later) because I was a little kid with a paucity of life experience, but I did know enough to grasp that they were important in some way. So, combine being a voracious reader with a splatbook that talked about some things I knew really existed and you get the sort of thing that gets tucked in the back of one's long term memory for much later.

Many years later, after college and all that, I finally got to the point in my career where I started making enough money that I could consider investing. Deep within my long term memory the idea of keeping tabs on companies of interest by owning a couple of shares of their stock stirred, stretched, and reached out to my exocortex. And thus was Ironmonger constructed. Over the years I bought a few shares here and there of this and that 2 to get hold of their shareholder updates, which tend to look something like this. (note: the metadata has been scrubbed)

Very long time readers know that once upon a time I used to keep tabs on domestic shootings of all kinds, until their sheer numbers started harming my mental health. So, I stopped. But I never stopped monitoring companies that make money off of them, by manufacturing arms and ammunition, taking law enforcement contracts, selling surveillance technology, or otherwise making a profit off of people dying so regularly that shootings barely even tweak the news anymore.

In July of 2022.ev a notice hit Ironmonger's inbox about Smith and Wesson's annual meeting (local copy scrubbed of metadata) coming up and the agenda listed the things that shareholders were to vote on. Here's the thing that I didn't need any augmentations to pick up on:

A stockholder proposal (develop a human rights policy).

Board recommendation: Against

Sit with that for a minute. 3

Surprising nobody, the resolution did not pass. (local copy) ( (

Our stockholders did not approve a stockholder proposal requesting that we adopt a human rights policy. The voting results were as follows:

Votes For         Votes Against       Abstentions         Broker Non-Votes
9,037,619         12,601,014          191,183             11,561,614 

Sometimes, just sometimes, I very much hate to be the cynical voice but there are just some things (local copy) ( ( you don't have to be Jeane Dixon to predict the outcome of.

So, let's wrap things up, because it's December and I should shut up before I suck all the oxygen out of the holiday season. For starters, if you have a vested interest in monitoring companies in a particular industry I highly recommend that you consider buying a few shares of as many of them as you can afford and pay attention to what they send you as a shareholder. It won't tell you the whole story but it definitely will give you a little advance warning. Second, jack out. Go spend some time with your loved ones. Please. It's the holiday season. Please make it as good a season as you reasonably can.

  1. I maintain that Terence McKenna should have gotten a nod in Shadowrun because they played off of his 2012/Timewave Zero schtick in the game's metaplot. 

  2. I've yet to find any PMCs that went public. 

  3. If you're skeptical (and you should be - skepticism can be a healthy thing) I am not the only being to notice this. ( (local copy) It got a little coverage (local copy) (, and I do not say this in a coy or sarcastic fashion.