So it's been a while since we've used this community. I still occasionally find myself mentally composing articles for a constitution, but have finally accepted that I will not settle on a preliminary document anytime soon.
In the meantime, I've decided that this community will be an outlet for my evil mastermind secret personailty. As an evil mastermind, the opinions of my minions are ultimately irrelevant, but I need to collect all possible information in order to mastermind at my fullest capacity.
Thus, this poll:
How do you feel about me exploring my evil mastermind side?
I am your devoted minion.
I am one of dozens of puny goody-goodys who will try to bring you down, but inevitably fail.
And by all means, those of you who chose the second answer. Do try.
"Wherever you go, there you are."
I've been hopeful about this community as a thought exercise to approach a bigger question, to whit: How to move off-planet. Lots of problems to consider about what to eat, what tools to bring, and so on.
Jamie's suggestion of a constitution isn't a bad idea in and of itself, but the social mores and customs we bring with us will affect how we would interpret and act on such a document, if in fact we do. (I'll point out in this context how little attention the current administration has paid to the constitution in this country; just having one doesn't help if the people who are supposed to enforce it spend their time making sure their chairs don't float away.)
I have problems in the current culture with, for example, the general attitude of "It's Not My Problem." There's a homeless guy living under the bridge? So what? --NMP. I belong to a congregation that believes in charity; how many of them would think to bring the guy a pizza? It's actually a good congregation, filled with good people, but they've been trained just to "give at the office." I don't mind if they bring pizza to the office, too, but having a formal program isn't going to help people who aren't accustomed to relying on them.
Fiscal conservatism is an excellent value, too. How do we reconcile it with the value of, say, being a good host? (Note to Jews and Christians: Ever wonder why he's called the Lord of Hosts? Take a look at the story of Avraham in Genesis.) It takes money to be a good host, as any professional salesman learns; to what extent is this compatible with fiscal conservatism?
Joy, and the corollary pursuit of happiness, are also fairly fundamental values, and ones which the conservatives in this country fail badly at. (Can you imagine *anyone* voluntarily sharing a bed with Dick Cheney?) How do we intend to laud people who show us how better to have a good time?
More on this later; have to go help kids with homework.
I think I need to make a post to let everyone know that I have not forgotten this community. Between, moving, finding a job, dealing with the flood in my apartment, and figuring out what is going on in my life, I haven't had time to be very philosophical or thoughtful beyond my immediate circumstances.
But soon, a preliminary constitution.
Hi all. cougarpants has submitted a request for citizenship. I don't know this user and haven't had a chance to talk to her so I can't tell you anything about her.
Do the usual. Check out her journal. She has a Web Page, so Check that out too. Her e-mail is listed on her web page.
It's all about the informed decision :)
I'm in the middle of moving and will be scarce on here for about a week. I'll call a vote on this sometime next week when I get settled!
(And by the way, everyone wish me a Happy Birthday and Graduation! I'm 23 and graduating today. . .WOOOOHOOO!)
What do people say when you ask them about Communism and why it doesn't work?
Well, it's a great idea but people are just too crappy for it to work right.
So then my friends, why doesn't capitalism work?
Yeah, same answer.
I more or less identify as a libertarian and sort-of an objectivist, so I'm the last person you'd expect to be up on a soap box saying that capitalism doesn't work, right? But look around you, people. The reality of our capitalism ain't beautiful. Me saying "But ideally capitalism is a wonderful thing!" means nothing. It's exactly the same as someone saying "but ideally, communism is a wonderful thing!"
And the reason is that people are crappy right? So how on earth would ANY kind of government EVER be good if people themselves are not?
Who cares what kind of government we have? Obviously I support, for reasons of simiplicity, a very minimal government, but there are things more important here than government and political forums.
MORAL forums. This island, to me, is a chance to prove that people are not, by nature, crappy. That if they really believe in themselves and their goals and each other, they can be great. I want this island to be a place of moral discovery and exploration. If you see someone hitting their spouse, the thought should not be "to each their own." We need to engage each other morally. Perhaps that couple has BDSM relationship and it's perfectly groovy to them; even if that's the case you'll only LEARN SOMETHING by confronting and asking them about it. And maybe they don't, and you're witnessing abuse, in which case it's your responsibility to confront the abuser openly with your opinions about their conduct. "It says in our constitution that you have to respect the physical liberties of others. You're not doing that dude, so explain yourself."
Too many people feel like other people's business is not theirs. Nobody wants to be a nosy busybody.
I want a community of nosy busybodies. Let's get in each other's comfort zones and challenge each other. We'll only learn more about each other and about being moral human beings. Everybody has fears and things that they are secretly ashamed of. This idea is kind of scary.
But it's also liberating. Imagine not needing to hide those things you were previously ashamed of? This, to me, is moral Libertarianism, and I do my best to live with my life on the table. Everyone who knows me and interacts with me on a regular basis, including my parents and some of my professors, know that I am bi-sexual and into BDSM. Most of them don't know that I pick my nose, but that doesn't come up in conversation early as often as sexuality and relationships.
"Oh, you like to drink your own pee and it isn't in any way damaging to you?" Maybe we think that's gross, but why not accept it if it isn't hurting anyone? "Hey, there goes Bob again drinking piss. . .Hi Bob, how's it goin?" Yeah, people might think Bob is wierd, but at least he won't be hiding in shame. Some of the cultural baggage we have about things like, for instance, the consequences of our digestion, might be unreasonable. Why shouldn't someone challenge that?
I'm not saying everyone should drop everything on the table right here right now. But I'm hoping to create a society where people are not afraid to do so. Where announcing that you like something really really wierd but undamaging makes you a source of interest rather than a pariah. Where people are willing and eager to learn from people who are different from themselves, who seek out friends because they disagree with each other and can learn from each other.
We have a lot of cultural baggage, not just about what we would traditionally consider morals, but about what is and is not appropriate. We need to see these things for what they are: artificial cultural constructs. Once we do that, we can move past them and decided what really has validity to us and what does not.
This project is too small to be a good experiment in any particular form of government, and I think keeping things small is a good thing. I'm more interested in a Moral Utopia than a material utopia. Let's fix this "nothing works because people are crappy" problem at it's source.
Now, this is scary for more reasons than putting stuff on the table. I'm going to post something from a comment I made to xiombarg's last entry about Oceana (which you should check out BTW):
You'd think that me being the libertarian/objectivist type of person that I am would be all about designing a capitalist paradise like Oceana. I'm not doing that for the same reason that soviet communism contradicted Marx's theory.
See, Marx believed that the economy was an evolving continuum. Somewhere at the beginning was Subsistence, then fuedalism, then market, then socialism [I'm skipping some that I can't remember], then eventually, he thought the economy would naturally evolve into communism. He never supported or advocated forcing the creation of a communist society.
I think trying to jump into international capitalism right away is ridiculous. We need to start on a smaller human scale. We're human beings, and as long as we all understand the basic principle that we have to be responsible for ourselves I think we'll do just fine and figure out the best way to do things as our community grows. People like to help other people. I like to help other people. I just don't think helping other people should be government mandated. In a small community of 50, we can maintain both personal responsibility and general benevolence. I think most of the problem with the US is that people have a feeling of "entitlement," that to a certain extent they will be taken care of and that is their god given right.
Um, no. The only rights I advocate are the rights to personal liberty and the right to have an equal say in community politics. If you get sick, you don't have a right to be cared for. If you're a decent person people will probably care for you in bad times. If you got sick, I'd care for you, but it is not, and should not be, my legal responsibility to do so.
I think people want garuntees about these things. There are no garuntees. We have to depend on each other, not on laws that dictate everything about our lives right down to who we are supposed to care about.
Yes, I like the idea of free market economy and minimal government interference, but I like even more the chance to live in a society where people are first and foremost people rather than cogs in a fucked up capitalist/socialist/libertarian/your-la
Reiterate: There are no garuntees.
But I want to learn to live with people as people, not guard myself against people by making a billion laws to protect myself and PUT A DISTANCE between me and others. I want to learn to be closer to and more involved with others, not less.
Maybe this is because I am a big dork and I don't have any friends (couldn't be less true really). Maybe it's because I have two touchy feely X-chromosomes. Still, it seems to me that ALL governments in the world do nothing but help distance people from each other.
The truly revolutionary thing about my Utopia is that I want it to bring people together rather than distance them. This requires a crazy leap of faith into the abyss of your own and other's humanity.
It's pretty scary, but I'm tired of being scared of it.
Hi, folks. I'm not sure I understand the need for titles, so I'm not going to Praetor myself for anything at the moment.
Regarding startup: We'll need shelter, water, food, transport, and power from the start.
For shelter, I'd suggest Microhouses of Ken Isaac's design. Modified cubes, about 2.5M on a side, they look a bit like a Lunar Lander, with enough room to comfortably sleep one, or two if they're not too wide and like each other. If we've got two large people who want to sleep together, or three or four who do, the design can be easily modified, or two of 'em ganged together. Prefabricates very well, and can be moved in the back of a jeep or station wagon. I've got the blueprints; I could prefab one in a weekend. I'd suggest letting everyone set up their own, as it's not difficult and would provide a well-defined initial task with an obvious and tangible payoff.
Water: There may be some springs on the island, but 1600 acres isn't big enough to have more than a few small creeks. No rivers to speak of. If we take too much out of the local ecology, we'll start killing off what's already there; that's how the Sahara got started. I suspect intermediate-term we're looking at a desalinization plant. These aren't complex, and as a side benefit can refine salts and some minerals (anybody got a good use for manganese?), but do take a lot of power.
Food: Farming takes at least a season to get started. Working out a staged approach, where three or four people go in first and get the farm started, might be a good idea. Trees take more like five or seven years to get started, but can be purchased about four years old.
The island is surrounded by water, as most are. This suggests fish. I don't know what kinds are common around NZ; this bears looking into. Rather than formal fish farming, I'd suggest finding ways to feed and encourage wild fish. I'd also be interested in a project to see if we can raise intelligent octopi. Some of the sea mammals are smarter than us already; it'd be good to have more non-human friends about.
Meat: Animal handling takes more expertise than one might suspect; one of my sweeties used to raise sheep. I am not a slaughterer, but could become one if it looks like we're actually getting ready to move on this project. Butchering is also a complex skill. I'd suggest at the start that we limit ourselves to chickens and rabbits, if we think we can keep the rabbits under control and not repeat the Australian mistake. Sheep outnumber people in NZ, so raising them might not be economical. They're also fatty.
Transport: Initially I think we're looking at bicycles and boats, with wheelbarrows and carts for transporting heavier loads. Horses and/or ponies if people like them, but caring for such is *not* trivial. A vet I am not. Putting in roads is not as simple as it sounds; there's a lot to pay attention to in terms of grading, drainage, and underlayment if you want that road to still be around after a couple of good rains.
I noticed several smaller islands nearby in the picture; some people might be happiest living right across the channel, so to speak. More boat transportation, or possibly hang-glider if we've got any skilled pilots. *Really* skilled; putting a kite down in surf is often fatal. Speaking of which, I didn't see any surf in the picture. What are water conditions generally like, and how deep is the immediately surrounding water? Do we have anyone who really wants to live in a submarine facility? I'd be interested in building one; it looks like fun.
Power: A tidal and/or wave-powered generator would be good if there are waves enough to run it. Should be, but I don't have data yet. Windmills are good if there's enough wind (also no data), and wind/solar is a good combination in that if there's no sun there's usually wind, and vice versa. Getting started, the solar/ wind combination, with a small gas generator backup, is probably the best bet as both can be bought prefabbed and ready to go.
Medical stuff: X-ray machines are actually fairly simple; they're just cameras in an unusual wavelength. They're also frequently available for sale used, cheap, and working. I agree with Jamie that MRI machinery is a pain in the butt, and best left to others. We might want to look for some older doctors looking to retire and see if we can recruit 'em; while I could wait for an MRI I don't want to worry about transport and stuff if someone's in the middle of a heart attack.
Getting a tool shop running would be a project for the intermediate term. At the beginning, we'd want simple stuff like shovels and axes. Later on, fully operational wood and metal shops would be highly desirable.
This is the playing-with-toys phase; toys are fun, and fun is good.
If y'all are at all serious about this, I suggest looking at previous attempts to do more or less the same thing:
Oceania, in particular, is very instructive. They got very into creating laws for it, to a point where nothing ever actually got done.
That said, it's also worth looking at old attempts for ideas. For example, one idea from Oceania that I always liked was to have fines listed in amounts of gold, so that fines kept up with inflation.
I need to remember to make a date for the close of voting polls next time (This poll will close on Monday, etc). In any case, most of you have voted in favor of the new citizens, so I've added them to the community.
So welcome, xiombarg and hicsuget :)
xiombarg, I've called you our Praetor Poet because of my own personal preference, but if you have another I'll gladly oblige :)
Oh, also, I wanted to make sure everyone knew that praetorships aren't exclusive. It's highly likely and even desirable, for instance, that we will have multiple Praetors of Technological Utility, Theatre, or Poetry. Like I said, it's not a position of power, just a title of knowledge and practice. Quick list of the praetorships so far just so everyone is on the same page and knows who to talk to about what. I'm also going to list this on the sidebar of the community for quick reference if I can get it to work right.
The Nexus - greymaiden
Praetor of Education - twim_reborn
Praetor Historian - solardrum
Praetor Poet - xiombarg
Praetor of Technological Utility - palfrey
Praetor of the Theatre - sutef82
We have a need for a Praetor Archivist/Librarian (pick whatever makes you happiest). Any takers? Anyway, other people here need to tell me what they're good at or what they want to contribute to the island so I can add you to the list. Like I said, praetorships are not exclusive, so feel free to say "I'm a poet too!" or "I'm a poet AND a carpenter!" or whatnot.
I wanted to make sure that people were clear on some things.
1) The Island itself: I had in mind a large temperate island in the area of New Zealand. The climate and growing seasons would be more familiar to us than those of a tropical island. This is also a point of personal preference; I don't like the tropics. The sort of island will in all liklihood have the following: fresh water, forests for lumber and shelter, mammals for eating, fish and seafood for eating, fertile soil for growing things, uneven hilly terrain. Nothing more than that is certain. From a distance I am very fond of Kiakoura Island, but by the time I get stuff together that one will probably be sold. Still, I think we can find something similar and it will serve nicely.
2) Economy: The discussion of the economy on the island is great, but xiombarg pointed out that we are perhaps jumping the gun a little. There are a few points that need to be made about the economy:
- For a little while, there are some things we will have to do without while we struggle to be somewhat self-sufficient. We can't assume to transition immediately into US Middle Class Standards of living. I think estabilising a source of electric power for building tools is important, but other things should probably wait until they make more sense. Why have wi-fi if we don't even have decent shelters to protect our that equipment? Anyway, assume that in the beginning you'll be camping while you build homes and establish a means of subsistence. We're smart peole, I don't think this will take us more than a year or two.
- We will not be entirely self-sufficient. Advanced Medical care and manufactured Metals will have to be got somewhere else for a very long time, probably the length of all of our lifespans.
- This is why I think inhabiting an island off the coast of New Zealand is a good idea. New Zealand is more or less a free market economy, but they aren't nearly as paranoid or controlling as the US. I think we can safely interact economically in small quantities with them without worrying about them trying to control us or freak out because we exist. We could take a boat to shore and purchase some nails and tools at a hardware store and bring them back to the island, or go get an X-ray or an MRI at a hospital without to much hassle.
- Yeah, economically this is going to be a trade defecit. I don't think this will be that big of a deal on such a small scale, and I definitely don't think allowing corporations to settle on our island so we can tax them is a good idea. We don't NEED or want to be an international economic player. We need to keep it local and keep it simple.
- Eventually we will find out what skills and products we have available to barter with, but there is no way we can know those things now. It's the kind of thing we have to be there to figure out.
Anyway, none of that means we should stop talking about it, but it is important to remember that sometime we really can't know until we get there.