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Headscratchers / Going Postal

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  • When postage stamps are first invented, Moist wonders about a method of separating them from a sheet without having to go through the long-winded process of cutting them out one at a time with scissors. He remembers how Stanley secured pins to paper - by pushing them through it - and, being Stanley, this leaves a long precise line of regularly shaped holes which may be torn. He describes this to the techs at Teemer and Spools, who then build a machine to create perforations. This has apparently never been done before, and Moist gives T&S the copyright and patent for the machine. Yet much earlier in the book, he visits Dave's Pin Exchange and explicitly asks for - and buys - a roll of pre-perforated backing paper to display pins on. So the technology for making perforated paper clearly already existed on the Disc? he didn't need to re-invent it!
    • Presumably the other kind of perforated paper couldn't match up to the extremely precise measurements set by Stanley, and the new machine replicates it.
    • Pin collecting is a niche market, even by Ankh Morpork standards, so whatever technology they are using to make display paper (which could just be a Dwarf individually pricking holes) is going to be a bit dodgy. Moist needs several things, he needs it to be regular, reliable, cheap, done in squares, and to be done at Teemer and Spools where the stamps are made. That is going to need a new press no matter what, because I really doubt Teemer and Spools themselves are doing the perforated pin paper. It is less them inventing a new technology than it is adapting an existing one and heavily modifying their own machines to reproduce it. No small undertaking, and definitely one that would require new processes.
    • It could just be: the "pre-perforated papers" are done by hand at Dave's, and sold as a service for those that don't WANT to do it themselves 'at home'. Stanley is particular enough (and skilled enough) to be able to do it consistently; and Moist just had the kind of mind to say, "Hey, why don't I come up with a machine to do something that would otherwise have a niche market, have T&S build the machine FOR me, and profit from being able to use the machine, versus finding more people like Stanley to keep doing it by hand."
    • It's not punching holes in paper that's an innovation of Moist's, it's punching holes in paper that line up evenly and tightly for easy tearing. The display cards sold at Dave's Pin Emporium wouldn't have their holes close enough together to do that, because it wouldn't leave enough space to properly view the individual pins to bunch them up so tightly. Moist, when he tested the idea, probably punched one set of holes with the paper-mounted pins, then punched another row overlapping the first so the holes were closer.

    Moist and werewolf gender 
  • In Going Postal, there is a very short scene where Moist von Lipwig meets Carrot and Angua after rescuing a cat. Moist immediately recognises the Werewolf is not a "very pretty dog", by some obscure details (his grandfather spent Moist´s entire childhood talking about beer and dogs as well as breeding dogs), but fails to notice such "minor" thing as gender.
    • So, you were expecting him to, what, lift up her tail and check her groin? And what difference would it make if he had guessed her gender right? He was just making observations, not giving her a bloody physical. Lighten up.
    • I'm guessing the difference it would have made would have been when Moist was sure that Nobby was the werewolf.
    • Moist was never sure Nobby was the werewolf: near the start of Making Money the narration simply notes that it's "widely rumoured" to be Nobby. Moist doesn't seem to have given the identity of the werewolf any real thought until he realises it's Angua.
    • (S)he may have been mistaking Moist for William de Worde from The Truth who knew about the rumour of a werewolf in the Watch, and is damn certain it's Nobby - he says so to Vimes and - if I remember correctly - to Angua herself.
    • Not to mention Moist's knowledge is of dogs, not werewolves. He knows a lot about dogs, so he knows she's not one. He doesn't know about werewolves, so he doesn't know she's a she.
    • Angua's fur has always been described as fairly long. That in itself would suffice to conceal any clues as to gender, particularly if Moist only sees her from the front.

    Crispin's death 
  • What exactly did Crispin Horsefry have that Gilt killed him for?
    • A little knowledge and a lot of cowardice, that is what Horsefry had and why Gilt had him killed. Crispin knew too much, not everything, but enough so that he could start everything unraveling if he cracked. And Vetinari was applying the pressure. Worse still, he'd written everything down in a little book which he gave to Gilt for safekeeping, once Gilt had the book all he had to do to shut down that line of enquiry was shut down the only other possible outlet. Which was of course Horsefry himself.
    • Also, being a good liar and machinator, he could have been considering Horsefry as much less honest that he appeared, even by projection alone. So, having no warranty that the books were the only copies and Horsefry didn't hold copies hidden to use them for blackmail, Gilt decided to solve the matter in the most straightforward way possible.
    • In addition to the other comments, it also doesn't hurt that Gilt tends to view murder as the path of least resistance, owing to the fact that he has a nigh-untraceable, totally trustworthy, and supremely efficient killer on his payroll.

    All the voices of men 
  • Once, it's revealed that Golems can "Speak With All The Voices Of Men" (and don't capitalize every word when doing so). Imagine what someone like Moist would be able to do with that small tidbit of information, because that's all you're able to do, imagine. It doesn't come back later in the book, or in Making Money. Anyone know why?
    • Because the books after this, barring Making Money, haven't had Golems as an integral part of the plot. As for Making Money itself, Gladys had no reason to use it. As for the Ancient Golems, there was no telling if they could do that or not, and Adora, and anyone else barring Moist who tried talking to them, couldn't get though to them as is and Moist was flying by the seat of his pants as usual. It was also a pre-recorded message, so there's no telling if Golems can even do that at will or not.
    • Moreover, golems are so very honest by nature that it's questionable whether even Moist could talk them into exploiting such a talent without a very good reason.

    Leaving the room 
  • During the "job interview" at the beginning of the book, Vetinari points out Lipwig's option to walk out the door, and Lipwig decides to investigate the door and notes the lack of floor beyond it. Less than one page later, going by lines, Lipwig has accepted the job and Vetinari has wondered why he hasn't left yet. (Admittedly in character for Vetinari.) Less than one page after that, Lipwig has left the room without description. While there are a number of ways one could design the exit-way to make this feasible, it seems like a waste to simply drop the subject like that (for this scene, anyway), not even allowing Lipwig the opportunity to ruminate on the now-solid flooring.
    • He used a different door.
    • Agreed. Also, Moist had to come into the room by some means. Even Vetinari had to, and it is highly doubtful there would be a one-way entrance to the room. The Patrician doesn't seem the type to have a slide-entrance. It's just the door referred to as the exit that has the pit behind it.
    • It's possible it's a similarly-designed but entirely different office, as well. He was brought to the first one in a hood, so wouldn't have been able to see where he was going. Office 1 has the Door of Doom; Office 2 has the door of no-doom.
    • Vetinari was indicating a specific door in his office, I suspect, probably with the unspoken implication that should Moist attempt to Take a Third Option and bolt via the regular entrance, he wouldn't make it too far.
    • Knights and Knaves?

    Auditing the Grand Trunk 
  • Why doesn't Vetinari audit The Grand Trunk whenever he feels like it? There is a line near the beginning of the book about not being the sort of autocrat who just locks enemies up, but people hate the Grand Trunk from the start. Vetinari wouldn't lose any social capital by going after them.
    • Even if they didn't like Gilt, there are powerful people in Ankh-Morpork who wouldn't like the precedent it'd set. Part of the secret of Vetinari's long tenure as Patrician is that he doesn't let himself seem to be ruling much of anything: he graciously asks the Guilds for their input all the time, sets up loads of committees where their opinions are duly aired, then does exactly what he wants to do while thanking them for "suggesting" he do so. Suddenly breaking this habit to slam down an individual business without due process would upset a lot of factions who've come to rely on his steadiness.
    • Besides, when it comes down to it, he cheerfully uses that power in both Going Postal and Making Money.
    • He also, like Moist, knew that shutting down the clacks was a bad idea. He needed someone reliable to take over and knew better than to just leave it with the Dearhearts.
    • It is also important that he had a precedent to do it at the end of the book and not the beginning. It would be immensely costly in terms of political capital to do it, and there was no way to be sure that he could force an audit deep enough to uncover the tracks leading to the actual evidence of crimes; failing to find that evidence would mean that such an audit would be very damaging to Vetinari's future endeavors. On the other hand, after Moist pulled his shenanigans with the Genua race and successfully passed it off as originating from within the company itself, Vetinari had plenty of pretext and nobody in the city was going to argue when he stripped the company bare down to the core and started "disappearing" bad spots.
    • This is alluded to in their first meeting, when Vetinari brings up the opinion piece Gilt wrote in the Times defending personal freedom and accusing him of tyranny. If he moves against the Trunk openly, it'll be spun as the Big Government seizing private property without evidence, and Gilt has ensured that there isn't anything solid. It's the same reason the Times has free speech, and why Grag Hamcrusher was allowed to rabble-rouse.

    ‘I read your recent article in the Times with great interest. You are passionate about freedom, I gather. You used the word “tyranny” three times and the word “tyrant” once.’
    ‘Don’t patronize me, my lord,’ said Gilt. ‘We own the Trunk. It is our property. You understand that? Property is the foundation of freedom...We are answerable to our shareholders, my lord. Not, with respect, to you. It is not your business. It is our business, and we will run it according to the market. I hope there are no tyrannies here. This is, with respect, a free city.’

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