Wednesday, November 28, 2007
If I could change just one thing per continent...
If I could change just one thing per continent...
The first four seem easy enough...
- Europe: Ukraine admitted as a full member-state of the European Union (consolidation of Europe against Russia)
- Asia: "Berlin Wall" moment as Korean DMZ becomes the conduit for a mass exodus (End of Kim Family Regime)
- Africa: Zimbabwe as joint South African - Chinese Condominium (UN starts outsourcing its colonial administration)
- North America: Cuba joins NAFTA/USA (End of Castro Family Regime)
But what should change in Australia? South America? Antarctica?
Europe: Scotland leaves the UK, joins EU.
North America: Quebec leaves Canada.
Australia: Oz forms new union with England and Anglo-Canada, combined entity -- the Crown Commonwealth Union? -- is part of NAFTA, NATO, NORAD and has a security council seat, and Oz now has a nuclear deterrant.
Asia: India enters quadripartite defense alliance and free trade zone with Japan, USA and the new Crown Commonwealth Union.
Africa: China enters a defense and commercial treaty with South Africa, and they jointly take over the whole damn southern half of the continent.
Antarctica: Shoggoths emerge, but are taken out by joint USA-CCU nuke strikes.
South America: Nothing good can happen there.
Posted by: Lexington Green | Wednesday, November 28, 2007
You asked for it. . .
UN: Establishes a procedure for dismantling third-world countries who's governments can't control their whole territory.
Catholic Church, Anglican Union, Tibetan Buddhists in exile and other multinational religious organisations: Quit whining about gays and abortions and gets busy helping people. Reforms monastic orders as combination social work combines, retirement communities (in wealthier countries) and sinks for excess males (in imbalanced countries).
North America: US tells its inhabited territories to start statehood process or start independence process. Takes all who chose the former.
Antarctica: The Penguins stop singing and dancing and demand Full Nation status:) Short of that, the space-faring nations establish a joint astronaut training center capable of training the Inuit to become deep-space explorers (I'm actually serious about this).
North Africa: Spain gives up its rights to Meuta and Celilla in return for guaranteed rights to maintain listening posts there and the ability (used, one hopes) to found elite schools for the cities' inhabitants and the elites of Morrocco-- schools that would teach the best of Spanish and North African science, knowledge, culture and religion.
Middle East: The US forms an alliance with the smaller nations (muslim and jewish alike) to contain their larger (more conservative, more aggressive) neighbors and accelerate their movement towards the Core.
Pakistan: Gives up on the Durand line, either by giving Waziristan its independence or by making them the Afganis' (and Americans') headache.
India: Realizes that an Empire pretending to be a nation state is unsustainable. Passes a Constitution to give its component states more autonomy and an enforceable bill of rights. Muslims who left during the Partition would explicitely be invited back, if they haven't been already.
SE Asia: Leads an alliance with India, China, Bangladesh and the US to intimidate the Burmese generals into behaving themselves-- or to take said generals down and rebuild Burma.
N. Korea: Kim dies from a post-coital heart attack. His relatives hand their country over to the 5 parties in return for a generously funded exile.
China: Makes a deal with the above-mentioned religious organisations: If you take out any members convicted of anti-government activities at your expense, we'll let you operate without interference.
Russia: Sells its Far-East territories back to their original owners and Kaliningrad to the EU for extravagant sums of money. Uses that, and the savings from giving the Caucasian Republics their independence to rebuild a decayed infrastructure.
EU: Builds its Constitution from the ground up and with public oversight and input-- in short, the way it should have been done before. Reaches livable compromises on immigration and gets that Rapid Reaction force built.
Balkans: Someone with the power to do something about it thinks of forming a new Yugoslavia out of Serbia, Vojvodina and Kosovo (the latter two turned into full Republics).
Southern Africa: SA and Botswana form a closer alliance with their more reliable neighbors to deal with their neighborhood problems-- Zimbabwe at first, but much of Africa with US and Chinese help.
Australia: Reconciles differences with New Zealand and forms closer alliances, with each other and with any Pacific Nations stable enough to be a net contributor.
Latin America: US cancels its idiotic War on Drugs. Military aid to Colombia and other nations becomes conditional on progress in Human Rights, Rule of Law and/or Increased Connectivity with the wider world as opportunity arises.
This is fun. I wonder if anyone from Coming Anarchy have seen this thread?
Posted by: Michael | Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Would love to know *when* the Catholic Church ever stopped trying to help people; She's even been doing in an ecumenical way for *years* now. The very thing that makes Her help people also ties in the concern over abortion and homosexuality. There's no untying it.
Posted by: Jayson | Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Antarctica: Mountains of Madness discovered during shoot of "Mach of the Penguins 2: March to Leng. " Inspite of being ambushed by shoggoths and then harried by seagulls during their retreat to the sea, Penguins successfully rally the Anglosphere and launch counter-attack. State Department condemns Penguinite conquest of Leng, as the film cre'sdescription of the Elder Things -- "the sight of His Face - free from any resemblance or likeness to anything"  -- leads to His support by the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Resisting UN calls for an immediate return of Leng to its genocidally anti-penguin inhabitants, a Penguinish State re-emerges, uniting a population long dispersed to South America, South Africa, etc.
Michael & Jayson,
Are we supposed to take this seriously?:
"Catholic Church, Anglican Union, Tibetan Buddhists in exile and other multinational religious organisations: Quit whining about gays and abortions and gets busy helping people. Reforms monastic orders as combination social work combines, retirement communities (in wealthier countries) and sinks for excess males (in imbalanced countries)."
First, and most obviously, religious organizations fail when they become country clubs. 
Second, and most importantly, Christianity is based on the radical idea of Love that has survived challengers from Caiaphas to Julian to Kant to Marx. Christianity bends Law, Tradition, Justice, and History to Love, and its radicalism (which Michael describes as "whining") cannot be removed without killing its purpose.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, November 29, 2007
I changed my mind about South America.
South America: Brazilian seabed oil strike turns out to be vastly bigger than originally thought. Hemispheric oil independence achieved by 2010. Lula sets up oil trust fund to payout profits to all Brazilian citizens, ala Norway and Alaska, preventing rise of petro-kleptocracy ala Nigeria. Brazilians remain beautiful and continue to samba, but can now pave their streets.
Posted by: Lexington Green | Thursday, November 29, 2007
South America: Chavez overthrown in coup supported by the chamber of commerce.
Oh wait, that happened. And we stabbed them in the back... again.
As long as it makes the State Department happy...
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, November 29, 2007
I really need to learn to not shoot from the hip when I'm tired, distracted, and in a hurry to get on to other things:P As it stands, it would be interesting to see if anyone even read the rest of the message.
Let's start over again with a few observations on communal lifestyles.
1) Most of the Core, and a few Seam states besides, are facing a demographic time bomb in the form of an aging population. What would happen to this time bomb if widowed, divorced or unmarried boomers were given the opportunity to retire into convents and monastaries? It would be cheaper for them than most other options, more psychologically fulfilling (they have company) and (for religious people) probably more spiritually fulfilling. If you do a search on the phrase ElderSpirit, you find that similar options are already starting to become available.
2) Many Gap and Seam states have another demographic time bomb: an excess of males. This is harder to solve using monastic orders, but any males that can be persuaded to take monastic oaths will mean fewer competitors for the available female population.
3) A religious organisation which has done these things will have acquired a LOT of cheap, dedicated, often educated labor! More so if they can work the deal I describe under China in the previous post-- they have to do something with the fellow believers (monastic and otherwise) they extract from China. Can anyone say Sysadmin?
Now for the part which got me into trouble. To be perfectly honest, I was trying to squeeze a lot of information into a single paragraph, in a hurry, and possessed of my own biases on the subject. I am a liberal who has no issues with homosexuality and is puzzled by the obsession many on the other side of the issue have with it. I am more sympathetic to the anti-abortion side of conservative thought (though I still wind up pro-choice), but question the true motives of many pro-lifers and the utility of abortion bans in many poor areas. When people are having trouble taking care of the children they've already got, is preventing abortions and hindering birth control really the best use of money and political capital?
Having fessed up to my biases on the subject, let me ask another, only semi-rhetorical question. Where is the money and attention going in the religious organisations which have, or which could easily develop, monastic traditions? I ask because accomplishing the above tasks, and using the resulting labor requires a lot of money and organisational focus.
This question is entirely non-rhetorical in the case of the Buddhists (though in many cases survival in the face of Authoritarian or Totalitarian governments seems high on their lists), the Eastern Orthodox Church and the smaller regional churches of the Near-East and North Africa. I just don't know enough about them. Two I know a bit more about:
The Anglican Communion: I have yet to hear of a theological reason for their not having a monastic tradition any more; so far as I know, that's mainly the result of actions Henry VIII and/or Elizabeth I. Reviving that tradition would seem (yes, I am talking out of my ass here) a matter of reinstating British orders and/or making a deal with other church's order-- and concentrating on something other than whether the Communion should be shattered because one part of it wants female and gay clergy!
Roman Catholic Church: Admittedly, I depending on the MSM to judge their priorities. Their charitable work doesn't make the news. Their negotiations to reunite with the Orthodox Churches, their refusal to change the rules on who can become a priest (never mind that they're suffering a shortage in much of the world and that the Orthodox already have different rules) and their financial and legal difficulties with some of the priests they DO have turning out to be sexual predators does make the news. The impression I get is of a bureaucracy trying so hard to simultaneously expand its power, cover its collective assets and prevent any other kind of change it doesn't really have much energy left to cope with anything else.
Ok, this is where I'm coming from on this. Bear in mind, I'm not accusing individual Anglicans or Catholics here-- I've heard of Catholic Priests who are quite willing to be flexible with the realities of their parishoner's lives and know Catholics who've been superb foul-weather friends. And (as I've hopefully made clear) I am well aware of the limits of my knowledge on this; if one of you can point to online resources to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, by all means.
Posted by: Michael | Thursday, November 29, 2007
Asia - China and India discover gigantic geothermal energy sources and ditch oil and coal power.
Africa - Shell and other oil companies pledge billions to help clean up the Niger delta, ending MEND's grievance.
Europe - Lukashenko announces democratic reforms and pledges to retire in a year.
North America - Texas secedes.
Antarctica - The X-Men find Rogue.
South America - FARC et al burn out fighting each other.
Posted by: Adrian | Thursday, November 29, 2007
Asia - Accept waves of settlers from African countries to start over in Central Asia
Africa- Most of the people move to Central Asia and start their governments from scratch, it couldn't hurt
Europe - Ditches the Euro for the Gold Standard (or some form of hard money) and keeps the Federal Reserve honest.
Middle East - US annexes Israel, to keep the next few decades interesting and historians and analysts busy
South America - Brazil and the rest of the countries merge Portuguese and Spanish into one language.
North America - America annexes Israel, Canada and Mexico merge in a quest for balance.
Posted by: Steve French | Friday, November 30, 2007
Thank you for your comments.
Broadly, your view of dumping the excess population into monasteries ignores both the theological and functional purposes of monasteries. Theologically, their purpose is connecting the soul with the divine. Functionally, they act as a form of martyrdom (that is, a recruitment tool ). Cheapening what monasteries mean, either religiously or practically, as part of a plan to enforce abstitance on a large number of males or idelenss on a large number of seniors, is a quick road to irrelevance.
The obvious question is that if you want large-scale eunuch and elderly idler communities, why not just form those? I guess you would respond they could not work on that scale. I agree with you. So why drag religion down with such a plan?
Re: China, the evangelical goal of Christians in China would of course be to Christinize China. While locking Christians up in enclosed communes (voluntary or not) might be a nifty trick for those who oppose religion in general, it makes little sense as a Christian plan.
Asking whether abortion is the "best use for money and political capital" depends largely on whether one views abortion as a lifestle issue or the murder of a person. This is true regardless if one is religious or not, as long as one views murder of persons as uniquely abhorant.
As mentioned above, monastaries (at least in the Christian tradition) are a form of martyrdom -- a demonstration that the faith is worth enough for the negation of one's own life and freedom of action. As individuals calculate truth-claims in part by examining if others act as if claims are true, monastaries make the faith more plausible. (Mormons achieve the same with their mandatory missionary work.)
"The impression I get is of a bureaucracy trying so hard to simultaneously expand its power, cover its collective assets and prevent any other kind of change it doesn't really have much energy left to cope with anything else."
The worldwide growth of the Church would seem to go against your impression
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, November 30, 2007
I think you've misunderstood me. I'm not seeing monasteries as a dumping ground or a type of prison. Many people would not want to become monks or nuns, and I'm not considering forcing the issue. While I would like to see the monastic religions promoting the option more enthusiastically, the only people I would want to see joining the orders would be the people who actually want to. The results wouldn't solve the demographic issues I described, but they would reduce them a bit.
Also, the idea for a truce between the Chinese government and assorted religious organisations is only partially overlapped with the monastic idea. The Catholic church would presumably want to recruit as many monks and priests as it could get, but it would also want to recruit converts who otherwise live their lives normally-- those are the people who actually perpetuate the religion! The deal is that those organisations allowed to operate unmolested within China agree to remove into exile any members- priests, monks OR parishioners- who are convicted of anti-government activities. The point of this idea isn't to imprison or cleanse China of religious people, it's to give religious organisations a shot at operating in China without government micromanagement.
Another misunderstanding: remember, not all monks and nuns practice denial and martyrdom the same way. The Teutonic Knights and Knights Templar and Hospitaller were founded, in effect, as orders of fighting monks; their path to martyrdom was guarding pilgrims and fighting crusades. Likewise, the Jesuits were founded to serve in Universities and other hotbeds of heresy, not in churches or remote cloisters. And the stereotypes of the Catholic School teacher didn't start with nuns who never left the Convent!
The SysAdmin part of my idea is just a modern extension of that idea; many of these new monks and nuns would be quite capable of serving their beliefs, of seeking denial and martyrdom in an urban community center or an African AIDS orphanage. And the Chinese faithful would need to go somewhere if they get exiled; having them spend a period of time working as sysadmin before settling elsewhere in the world would provide additional manpower and give them a chance to serve and to learn.
And I was quite serious when I said I had some sympathy with the pro-life side. My pro-choice inclinations come not from a sense of righteousness but from a sense of how messy and painful such decisions can be regardless of the actual decision made. Carry the baby to term and risk life-threatening complications or having to see the face of your rapist on an innocent child. Adopt the child out (if that option is even available) and face a life-time of What Ifs (What if I'd kept her? What if the agency or adoptive parents didn't take good care of him?). Keep the child, and risk not being able to take good care of him, or of not having enough food to go around. Or. . . defy any and all maternal instincts, have an abortion and be plagued with What Ifs anyway. I take the term pro-choice literally; I may not always agree with a given decision, but who am I to make it for a pregnant woman?
Posted by: Michael | Friday, November 30, 2007
Thank you for your discussion of your idea.
Basically, its implementation woudl inflict the same harm on monastic orders that politically unpopular military engagement (say, Vietnam, or Iraq) inflicts on the Army: an organization that works best when it goes out of its way to expel members would be forced to go out of its way to attract members. "Enthusiasm" is just what monastic orders avoid in their growth, both theologically and practically. The people who "actually want to" are those are called (have a vocation).
Reconstruction of venereal disese rates among the monastaries of mideal and early modern Europe may provide guidance in determing the efficacy of expanding enrollment in monastic orders to decrease competition for women.
You're of course right that martyrdom operations can be outwardly focused. However, the Jesuits have a reputation as "God's stormtroopers" precisely because they are even more selective than others. Likewise, the contemporary analogs of the Knights Templar doubtless chant "God is Great" and "Mohammed is the Seal of the Prophets."
I'm not sure why you see monastic orders cooperating with regimes that exile them, by kindly operating elsewhere. Certainly it's a unique reading of history. Catholics in England and Rome both fought until the end -- in isles to their holocaust, and in the Empire to their victory. Neither kindly dispersed to focus on missionary work elsewhere. (Theologically, those who persecute you are perhaps most needing of your love. Practically, such desperate actions imply... desperation)
Your view of abortion is certainly heart-felt. The decision not to kill a child who has an ugly face certainly is a hard one, whether the kid is 8 or 10 months from conception.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, November 30, 2007
You make fair points. And while I haven't heard about the VD rate reconstructions, I have heard about evidence of widespread infanticide in at least one convent located near a monastery. And while I can suppose that the looseness of today's society will keep people who don't belong from staying in the monasteries (if they they want free love, they can always do the hippie commune routine), I don't really know for sure.*shrug*
As for the question of "Why the monastic orders would take people who kicked them out?", one could as easily ask why the Pope is in negotiations with the Eastern Orthodox, or why some Anglicans are switching over to the Catholic Church (last I heard, my ex-gf and her husband were considering this). Or, for that matter, why the Dalai Lama insists on treating peacefully with the government that exiled him and still persecutes his people. It's been several hundred years. Grudges only fade gradually, but they do fade. And if one treats organisations like people, then one has to expect that- sooner or later- they have to let go of old hatreds to grow.
I'm still kind of surprised, though. I was expecting to have to defend my Inuit Astronaut idea, or the generosity of my hopes for the Kim family*grin*
Posted by: Michael | Friday, November 30, 2007
". And while I can suppose that the looseness of today's society will keep people who don't belong from staying in the monasteries (if they they want free love, they can always do the hippie commune routine), I don't really know for sure.*shrug*"
Beliefs are not the same thing as desires. Indeed, the correlation between them can be quiet week. (Similar to the relationship between implicit and explicit associations, or affective and cognitive attitudes [1,2])
"As for the question of "Why the monastic orders would take people who kicked them out?", one could as easily ask why the Pope is in negotiations with the Eastern Orthodox, or why some Anglicans are switching over to the Catholic Church"
Because the Catholic Church is only the non-injured church in existence, and is willing to accept submission at any time. The Church seperates style from substance, utilizing Use (such, as the Anglican Use of the Latin Rite, under which some ex-Anglican Churches become Roman Catholic while still utilizing the Book of Common Prayer), Rite (the Latin Rite of the vast majority of the Church, the Byzantine Rite, etc), and Teaching (of which the Church is the only source worthy of religious assent).
The Church has a record of refusing communion to variations that stray too far, or do not submit enough. Thus, the Jesuits' Chinese Rites  were decided by Clement XI to be non-Catholic, while Rome maintains that the Anglican Communion (unlike the Orthodox Churches) lost continuity and thus cannot trace their bishops directly.
Pragmatically, smaller churches may submit entirely for the same reasons that states adopt the constitution -- a larger scale government is in less danger of take-over by factions. Thu
"Or, for that matter, why the Dalai Lama insists on treating peacefully with the government that exiled him and still persecutes his people."
Because he's a poltiical leader who lost his state. The Dalai Lama recalls no one so much as Pius IX , who lost the Papal States and gained Papal Infallibility.
"I'm still kind of surprised, though. I was expecting to have to defend my Inuit Astronaut idea, or the generosity of my hopes for the Kim family*grin*"
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, December 01, 2007