22 April 2001
We were having a Beavis and Butthead moment here last night: Mark was telling Timprov that he went to camp as a kid at Bong Recreational Facility in Wisconsin, former site of Bong AFB. Heh heh . Bongs. Bong Recreation. Heh.
Being the übergeek that he is, Mark looked up the Bong Recreational Facility to find out where the name came from. Turns out that it was named for Major Richard I. Bong, a WWII pilot from that area of Wisconsin. Major Bong. Go on ahead and tell me you're not going to make fun of this guy. Yeah. I don't believe you.
We calmed down. And then, "Do you suppose there are any Bongs left?" asked Mark, wondering about the family. Of course, that set us off again, and I started singing: "Ground Control to Major Bong, take your floating pills and put your helmet on...." Timprov chimed in: "And it works better that way: Major Bong to Ground Control. I'm stepping through the nose, and I'm floating in a most peculiar way, and the stars looks very different today...."
Of course, that one was almost too easy. (I'm sorry, Daddy. I have failed you. Mark recognizes "Space Oddity" when he hears it but often forgets James Taylor's name.) But Lord. I don't mean to criticize my in-laws, but would you send your kid to Bong Recreational Facility? "Now, be responsible at church camp...here's a tin of brownies in case you get the munchies...."
(In terms of awful names, Timprov's uncle's company may win the corporate race. He works for El Paso Gas. Umm. And there's a baseball player named Pujols. Pronounced the Spanish way. I think he wins the individual Bad Name Award, beating out my friend Chris Sass because you don't have to say it fast to make it worse. As far as good names, Yao-Bang is my favorite so far. But I am evidently not allowed to name any children this. Some people are so closed-minded....)
So we were talking politics, talking about China and Taiwan and what it is that the mainland Chinese want. (Or, rather, what it is that their government wants.) And it seems that many countries want to have territory because there are lots of people who are ethnically and culturally similar living in that territory. And maybe I'm just too much of an American, but I have to say: so? That may have been the reason to make a country before, but don't we have better reasons now? There's no guarantee that people whose ancestors hung out around campfires together will think the same things about politics or anything else. And what would we want larger countries for, anyway? We don't need to be more consolidated. The more consolidated a government is, the less important consensus is, at least in a winner-take-all district system like the U.S. I would like to see people at least trying to base their government on something more than whose ancestors were from different tribes.
But maybe not. Maybe cultural differences are important enough. (Although I would claim that Taiwan, by this point, has a significantly different culture from the PRC.) My parents are in an odd related situation in their subdivision. In the Omaha area, a popular way of developing new territory is to form a Sanitary Improvement District, or SID, which is not part of a city. The people who live in the SID pay their own way to have utilities laid out or taken care of, and gradually they pay off the development debt. Once the development debt is paid, they can be annexed by a nearby city. The problem is, Turtle Creek (my parents' SID) is sandwiched between Omaha proper and Ralston, a tiny town that's been almost totally surrounded by the city of Omaha. Turtle Creek is part of the Ralston School District. Most of its residents go to the Ralston Fourth of July parade. They're pretty close to being total Ralstonites. But Ralston can't annex Turtle Creek, because if it gets grabby, Omaha will eat it alive. But the people in Turtle Creek don't want to be part of Omaha. Small example, and nobody is likely to get killed over it, but I guess sometimes cultural similarities are important.
So okay. "In that case," I said last night, "I propose we annex Karina." The guys stared at me, then started laughing. I didn't have to explain it. But for you, I will. Karina is our kind of people. But she lives up in Canada. From the sounds of it, she lives among drunken jerk Philistines up in Canada. (I realize that this does not make all Canadians drunken jerk Philistines, in case you're wondering.) So I think we should annex her. She should be part of my crowd. Not the United States. I really don't care if she's an American citizen. I just want us to annex her.
I'll take Spider Robinson, Charles de Lint, Nalo Hopkinson, and Guy Gavriel Kay, while we're at it.
In other news, I have an article up at Phantastes. I wrote it almost a year ago. But I liked it when I read it again. Maybe you will, too. I had fun with it, anyway, and fun plus money is a good combination.
Fun plus lots of money is even better, of course. But impatience plus poverty is evidently a lot of fun in a pinch.
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