Monday, November 10, 2014
Political science fiction
Influenced by Rod Kiracofe’s book, Unconventional & Unexpected, published in 2014, about what were commonly known as crazy quilts, an anonymous quilt-loving programmer looked at the map of the U.S.A. and reflected how that familiar picture puzzle does not at all describe the population of that country.
The sizes of states would change radically if they reflected the fixed or ever-changing political tendencies of their populations. In the old days you would have to imagine purple segments in states colored as blue or red because of the predominance at that time of one of two major parties.
Rod’s programmer friend told him, “The map of the United States is a familiar design that we take for reality, but the true map of the United States is a crazyquilt.”
After that, Rod was happy to join the quilt-loving programmer in the grand plan we enjoy today. They recruited an army of programmers to help them. The first step was to create a trustworthy system that would give each citizen an inviolable, private site on the Internet. (That took a few decades.) With that in place people began to vote by email. The quilt-loving programmers of Rod took on the next challenge and asked the army of programmers to find ten thousand ways you might sort information citizens placed in a personal political profile on their individual sites, material for general use in national statistics.
They might indicate that they still belonged to one of the dying parties or to one of the later ones, such as the Zen Socialists or the Apollonians, and, within certain time limitations, they could change that data to indicate whatever party they espoused at any particular time, changing parties if they changed their allegiances.
Anyone could check the latest statistics and find the crazyquilt map of the U.S.A. partitioned by parties in artful representations of the new kind of pictorial quilt that still bore some trace of the fixed geographical boundaries of current states, but twisted to fit like the pieces in that crazyquilt.
Later, the map also reflected the preferences in each county or city in a state, to help you find whatever total political view you were seeking. Soon people were able to enter all of the preferences in their lives, preferences that often registered within preferences already indicated; for instance, you could see how many vegans were in both the Dionysian or the Marxist counties in one state that was not generally vegan; or how many preferred baseball in a football-loving state; or you could highlight how many were doing tai chi across the map.
You might wonder why anyone would have been interested in such a fluid and flexible crazyquilt map, but most felt it had a positive effect, for the old, fixed and standard Map of the U.S.A. did not reflect visually the spirit of its people, and always failed to represent the multiple views in places represented as being single-minded. Pundits and politicians had always been able to create fictions that suited their personal agendas.
Artists especially loved the many ways you could represent Crazyquilt America. Needless to say, as you know, this concept soon spread to other countries, resulting finally in our current Crazyquilt Earth.
Monday, November 03, 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Night Gude on Alcatraz, Jim Breeden, led the tour group up the hill on Alcatraz, stopping now and then for chapters in his fascinating and thoroughly researched presentation on the Indian Occupation of Alcatraz.
He reported on the twists and turns of that event, and the changing attitudes of both the indigenous people who wanted to take possession of the island, and officials in Washington, D.C., who reacted in widely different ways. Jim's ironic revelation: President Nixon agreed with the indigenous people that they should be given possession of Alcatraz.
Many in the tour group may have been from other parts of the world, yet it was surprising that when Jim asked how many of the Occupation, only Martha Hubert and I were aware of that history. Later, in the room dedicated to that history, we talked about the occupation with a young Chinese man who was sorry that he was not demonstrating with his friends in HongKong.