Archive for April, 2006

2006.04.30

Republique De Estadalla

I am going to make up a country and give it a quick history just because I’ve got some ideas brewing in my head. Welcome to the Republique De Estadalla. Despite its cheap ripoff name combining French and pseudo-Spanish the people of Estadalla speak English because that’s what I know.

Colonists came from Europe in the late 1500s. The indigenous peoples they didn’t kill off eventually branched into two groups; those that learned and merged with the colonist’s European culture and benefitted called the Sturique, and those that tried keeping their native culture but were subjugated called the Qoxelles.

In the mid-19th century the colony rebelled and formed its own country, the Republique De Estadalla. The European country fought against the rebellion out of form but didn’t really care much because at this point the colony had been stripped of most resources.

Estadalla was still divided clearly among haves and have-nots. While initially in the heady days of liberation the Sturiques and Qoxelles tried to remediate the bad situation, the Sturiques were reluctant to give up power. The few resources remaining after colonial days were in their hands. It was during this time that corruption became the norm and over the years it became accepted as a part of life. The Estadallan economy never recovered after colonial liberation. Even those in power were poor by their own neighbor’s standards.

The situation could not last and the separation between the Sturiques and Qoxelles became blurrier as wealth leeched from the nation and lawlessness seemed to reign. Many people inside and outside the country questioned whether Estadalla could ever create a functional society and culture with rule of law, economic opportunity and cultural identity. In the 1970s a spectacular coup was made. It was led by a group of friends who could not stand the plight of their nation. Jean-Claude Guerrero, thier leader, was made absolute dictator of the troubled nation. Giving himself an announced annual income of exactly the median income of the country, he set out to reform the country.

The first thing Guerrero did was to crack down on the corruption that plagued his nation. He knew there could be no rule of law when his government was bribable. He appointed his coup friends to be judges and head the police forces. When cases of corruption were brought out they were tried and when individuals were found guilty punishment was severe. For small things on a short time scale, it might mean immediate dismissal. As the degree of corruption increased the punishment was ramped up to public flogging and cutting off of hands. Prison was mandatory.

In one spectacular case a judge, one of the coup-friends of Guerrero’s, was found guilty of corruption himself. On public television Guerrero took the judge and pronounced the sentence and the punishment: death. “Filip Hastengo, the crimes you commited and the office you defiled are not above the law.” The nation was stunned as Guerrero carried out the verdict and shot Hastengo. Though other countries vilified Guerrero and his actions, the rule of law was enforced and corruption diminished dramatically. People began to have faith that the law applied to everyone regardless of station.

Guerrero’s other concern was his economy. The Sturique administrations he replaced had made laws where foreign investment was almost impossible. He changed this. Foreign companies, attracted by the growing stability, cheap labor and other incentives started moving into the country. Guerrero also entered into various trade treaties with his immidiate neighbors, invested in ports, transportation and other critical infrastructure. Very slowly he started turning Estadalla’s economy around. He reinvested collected taxes into the country.

Education was a big focus for Guerrero. He felt that people who work do not commit crime, and to have a job one must have education and skills. He established certain standards for public school education. 9 years (K-9) were devoted to early education. At that point students could choose to go into vocational schools or higher public education for another three years, or enter the workforce as unskilled labor right away. There were also universities established.

It would be a very long list to mark all the improvements Guerrero made to Estadalla. Though he had his share of scandals (he was a notorious womanizer who never married) he was generally loved -or at least respected- by all. He always emphasized that he was trying to improve the lives of everyone in the country, from farm hands to business owners to school teachers to parents and their children. In particular he showed the Sturiques and Qoxelles that when it came to Estadalla they were the same people and helped them to find common ground and work together.

In the mid-1990s Guerrero started certain governmental reforms. He freed the press, which was relatively open already, from the control of the government. He established a Parlaiment and held national elections to fill the seats. Anyone could run using either their own money or limited use funds from the government. There were no party affiliations and candidates were not allowed to accept any money from anyone else. To common Estadallans, many of whom remembered the corruption of yesteryear or who only knew the rule of Guerrero it was freedom unknown.

In 2000 Guerrero announced to the nation and the world that Estadalla would be creating a new Republic with a new Constitution. Work would begin immediately on the Constitution. The shock announcement was Guerrero declaring when the process was completed and the new government ready he would be stepping down from power.

In 2006 the Constitution, created by a panel of judges, members of Parlaiment, representatives from various legal areas in Estadalla and Guerrero himself, was ratified by a 3/4ths majority of the population. Elections for Parlaiment and the seat of President are scheduled for the summer. Guerrero was asked by many to run for a position the new government but he has declined.

What the future holds for Estadalla no one knows. Jean-Claude Guerrero has already purchased his retirement home near the ocean in his hometown of Porto Liber. He has quipped that now he has fixed the nation he might think about marrying and having children.

Comments Off on Republique De Estadalla | Catergorized: worldbuilding  writing

2006.04.29

Cinco de Mayo

On Monday there will be nation-wide boycotts of work by Hispanic immigrants in America (legal and illegal). I think this is a stupid idea. I haven’t heard anyone saying that non-Hispanics should boycott Cinco de Mayo but before that happens (or I read about it) let me offer my opinion.

Don’t boycott.

I’m not saying people should celebrate, but neither should it be boycotted. Go out, have a party. Have fun. Spend money. Keep the economy normal. Boycott the obvious Mexican influence of the “holiday”. Celebrate any of the other events that happened in history on May 5th. The first train robbery (robber theme), the first “perfect game” pitching in baseball (baseball theme), Scopes Monkey Trial (evolution theme), Prague uprisings against the Nazis (Czech beer theme), Kierkegaard and Marx were born on this day (philosophies theme), etc.

It makes no sense to me to boycott having fun on the 5th. It’s bad for business and it makes for a boring Friday night. I understand being angry or frustrated by the “Hispanic uprising” and I’m just waiting for a huge backlash against it. This isn’t the time or the way. (Some) businesses will take enough of a hit on Monday.

Comments Off on Cinco de Mayo | Catergorized: life  political  thoughts

2006.04.29

Moving Away from Modernism

I’ll be rambling my thoughts in this article as they haven’t yet coherently gelled.

I’m not an artist and I’m not entrenched -even peripherally- in the art world. Regardless I have very strong opinions about art and in particular the so-called Modern Art. This movement is no longer modern, and I don’t even think most of it is art. I think it’s time for something new.

Read the rest of this entry…

6 Comments | Catergorized: thoughts

2006.04.27

Star Spangled Spanish

This is just patently stupid. Some bozo is going to do a Spanish language version of The Star Spangled Banner. WTF.

I won’t name the friend I was talking with about this with (he can come out in the comments if he’d like) but we were talking about how a lot of people (not everyone) actually had some sympathy for the plight of Hispanic immigrants to this country. However this, along with this “brilliant” May First Protest, is going to cause a backlash. What initial sympathy the predominantly Hispanic folk had is going to drain into the abyss where it won’t be recovered.

Read the rest of this entry…

2 Comments | Catergorized: political  rights  thoughts

2006.04.27

Google and Apple

Wouldn’t it be cool as hell if Google and Apple, two of the most innovative technology companies today, merged?While many people view Google and Microsoft as rivals I really don’t. Microsoft might consider Google a rival if only because it’s making inroads or completely dominating certain technology, and we all know Microsoft hates competition of all sorts.

Today I was looking at the news and saw that Google recently bought SketchUp, a 3D design package I first heard about through Ann’s architectural endeavours. Google is now offering a free personal edition for Windows with a Mac release to follow. Very cool!

This got me thinking about all the services Google is now offering and I’m thinking to myself, Wouldn’t it be cool as hell if Google and Apple, two of the most innovative technology companies today, merged? Yes, that would be way cool. Not only would there then be actual serious competition for Microsoft, it would actually justify Microsoft viewing Google as a competitor.

In short order Google could start selling music through iTunes, more people would seriously consider buying Macintosh computers and Google would have their first hardware services (computers and iPods), Google could leverage iLife as a general service, Steve Jobs would sit with his feet in Apple, Google and Disney, more R&D would be poured into innovative and interesting technologies and everyone would, in general, benefit.

I seriously doubt this would ever happen but I’m allowed to have my geek fantasies, right?

3 Comments | Catergorized: apple  geek  technology

2006.04.27

Common Interest, Common Sense

A brilliant, though long, analysis on something that is very very wrong with modern American politics. It talks about reviving the philosophy of working for our common interest.

This, historically, is the moral basis of liberal governance — not justice, not equality, not rights, not diversity, not government, and not even prosperity or opportunity. Liberal governance is about demanding of citizens that they balance self-interest with common interest. Any rank-and-file liberal is a liberal because she or he somehow or another, through reading or experience or both, came to believe in this principle. And every leading Democrat became a Democrat because on some level, she or he believes this, too.

To me this is just common sense. Why would I be an advocate of universal health care (in some form)? Because more people and businesses will benefit than will lose. Why do I support the military, even if not necessarily in our current Iraq excursion? Because the military benefits everyone, even those who oppose it. Why do I support research into new energy resources? Because our dependence on oil helps no one except oil companies.

There are many ways to approach this topic of common interest. It is not an individual thing (that which benefits me benefits everyone) because sometimes what helps an individual only helps the individual. Take vast tax breaks for the wealthy; wealthy people use more resources than anyone else. I’m not saying they should be punished for making more money than everyone else because these are the people who are helping shape and grow our economy for the common interest of everyone.

The common interest relies on people sometimes giving things up in the short term for long term gains. It’s similar to investing in a retirement fund like a 401K. You sacrifice money from your paychecks which means that right now you seem to have less money. But years down the road when you are retired and do not have work income that 401K can be significantly larger than the amount you put in and you can support yourself.

I don’t want to turn this into a longer article than it already is. However expect me to write more and more about this in future discussions! Meanwhile I’m curious what others think of the article I linked, especially my more conservative readers.

3 Comments | Catergorized: political  thoughts

2006.04.25

Worldbuilding Resources

I found a great site that has a database backend so regular people can contribute that is dedicated to worldbuilding resources. Empireans has a section for links, useful books, and a link exchange. Some of the links are a bit out of date but there’s a lot there I didn’t know about.

I also found a nice online substitute for Langmaker, the language making helper application I was lamenting the loss of recently. PHPWordGen has many of the same features as the word generator. It doesn’t seem to have the flexibility of Langmaker, but it is a good start.

Comments Off on Worldbuilding Resources | Catergorized: worldbuilding

2006.04.24

What’s With the Dry Skin?!?

As I hope most of you who know me personally know, I’m not too concerned with my personal appearance. I mean I don’t want to look like a homeless guy under a bridge in downtown San Francisco masturbating for the passing tourists, but I don’t care to look like I stepped out of the pages of GQ either.

Still it’s disturbing me that the skin on my face is so consistently dry. I know this is shallow and not really worthy of you, my very intelligent readers, but it’s been bugging me since last fall. I can no longer pass it off as just the winter weather because this is San Francisco; we don’t have winter here. At least nothing like the rest of the United States of A-fscking-merica north of the Mason Dixon line where winters try to rip the skin off your sticky bones and, failing that, at least make it cold enough for your balls to seek protective warth and comfort in your chest cavity.

No, I think there’s something else missing. Maybe something from my diet. Someone mentioned that I should eat more greasy food, but the last time I did that on a consistent basis -freshman year of college for those keeping score- I ended up with almost as many zits as I had in high school. I like popping zits like everyone else, but I’d rather not. I’d like to think that while I look young-ish, I’ve at least matured enough to look like I might not need to be carded at the corner store and not like I’m skipping school. After all, the only pimply faced cretins on the planet should be high schoolers, right?

Someone else recommended drinking more water. I tried this for a while and all it did was make me pee more. A lot more. And trust me, that’s just annoying. Hold on while I goto the bathroom. Again.

The obvious thing to do would be use some lotion, but that just treats the symptoms, not the problem. Does anyone of my more informed readers have any suggestions?

4 Comments | Catergorized: fashion  grrr  life

2006.04.23

1st Language Creation Conference

Today, despite my exhaustion from several days of late nights with NHK, I managed to haul myself out of bed at 8AM to attend the 1st Language Creation Conference over in Berkeley (previously mentioned here). First off, let me congratulate Sai Emrys for putting this together and pulling it off. It was quite a unique and extraordinairy conference. I wish I was more awake so I could participate effectively.

Though a few of the lectures were well over my head (I am interested in language, but I am not a linguist!) I did learn quite a bit and have some fresh perspective on how to approach my own projects. I’ll have to write more about them when I’ve got a chance.

As well, I’ll give some of my thoughts on some of the lectures. Some of them were, like I said, quite good and even if you’re not interested in language would be of interest, particularly the cognitive science lecture.

Meanwhile, though, I’ve got to get some sleep. I’m about to keel over.

Fiat lingua!

2 Comments | Catergorized: geek  worldbuilding

2006.04.22

Five Weeks in a Row

I’ve just set a record today: five weekends in a row surfing. I’m sore but I’m definitely noticing my upper body is more able to keep up with the paddling which is the hardest part of surfing in my opinion.

We took Jerome’s water proof camera out again so I should have a few pictures (if any of them turned out!) to post on Monday.

Now I’m going to try to wake up enough to record a script with NHK…

Comments Off on Five Weeks in a Row | Catergorized: life  surf
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