Sunday, August 31, 2014

Roads of Bone, Chapter 12: The Greatest Victory

(This is my 250th blog entry, I did nothing to commemorate this, and just continued with my random fantasy story.  Mostly because I have written 100+ blogs on my facebook before moving to this one so the idea of numerical milestones is a bit lost already.  Enjoy.)

I am doing a little experiment.  I am going to write a series of chapters in a fantasy world of my creation and see if it goes anywhere.  Since I have not prewritten this story and have no outline, it will probably end up a convoluted mess.  I do not know how often I will be able to update this or if it will ever finish.  This is the link to CHAPTER 1.  (I have also found that I have to go back and clean up very broken sentences in previous chapters.  This is why I need an editor.  I understand what I am writing, but I need to make sure other people do too.)

Chapter 12: The Greatest Victory
            "Apple," said Malachite.  "The first thing you must learn about being a soldier for hire, and I cannot emphasize this point enough: you never want to get into a fight."
            "What?" asked the girl.
            The day was hot, and aside from the flashes of the occasional fish the water was clear.  The Color Line was perfect for the sort of lazy lecturing every pontificating jackass never tires of.  As such Malachite was sitting in a wooden folding chair under a parasol drinking a bottle with a foreign label that looked beautiful with a fading wax seal and a shimmering, cloudy, and sweet smelling liquid in it.  Apple was sitting cross legged next to him in a big floppy hat that afforded her relatively the same level of cover, but she was drinking orange juice.
            "Fighting is an abhorrent activity," said Malachite.  "It is full of confusion, pain, loss, and death, far more death than anyone has any right to wish on anyone.  The key to being a successful warrior is to live a long time, collect a lot of pay, and tell great stories, none of which involves getting stabbed, burned, crushed, or having your foot cut off because you had the poor luck to step on something dirty while running thru a field."
            "But if you don't fight, what are you getting paid to do?"
            "The greatest victory is the battle not fought," said Malachite to the confused towheaded girl.  "So you have to do some calculation.  Which side is the one willing to fight the most?  Which side has the most troops?  Which side has the best fortifications?  The best weapons?  The best leader?  Or offers the most amicable peace?
            "If a group will fight no matter what, you want to avoid them, whether for or against, they will drag you into conflict that could be side stepped.  If a side has lots of other troops, then that means you are less likely to even be in the fight, you are insulated; same with fortifications.  You have to look at each situation and think of which side is going to win, and then just be there with a helpful little push, a rousing speech, that sort of thing.  Also helps if they have drab uniforms, allows you to make yourself look busy and everyone notices."
            "Isn't that cowardly?"
            "Sadly, yes," said Malachite.  "We live in a world in which physical conflict is glorified and lauded, so rational self interest is seen as a weakness of character.  I have been told more than once that the worst parts of hell are reserved for those who maintain their flexibility during times of great conflict.  Luckily, I have concocted the ultimate escape plan from such punishments, I have chosen not to believe in hell."
            "So are you going to teach me how to fight with a sword?" asked Apple.
            "I was getting to that part," said Malachite turning to frown at her a bit.  "But I needed to teach you the first best lesson: you never want to get into a fight, but if the other person is set, then you had better win."
            He let that hang in the air.  She was a little girl.  Surely she had had a hard life and understood the necessity of things, but fighting is a gruesome business, she should know that in the abstract before the immediate.  "And also, no you can't learn to fight with a sword yet.  You are too short for the one I have."
            Apple's mouth fell open in disappointment.
            "No," said Malachite.  "We'll have to start you out on a gun."
            He stood and walked over to a big long box.  Apple's mouth opened even wider in excitement and her eyes lit with delight.
            "Any damn fool can use a gun," said Malachite.
            The box was 4 feet long, 2 wide, and a foot deep, it had a gold name plate with the words "Blow Horn" written in the same swirling letters used on Malachite's "The Wonderful" codpiece.  Black with dings and scrapes the crate had two locks on it, each looked like they could weather raining blows from pick axes and not give up the treasure within.  "It is incredibly inconvenient but necessary for me to keep this secure to such a degree, so I am not going to teach you the numbers that unlock these, understood?" Malachite asked Apple.
            "Yes Uncle."
            As he popped each lock open Malachite took a second, strumming his fingers on the box looking across the water to shore.  This can't be a good decision.  But it isn't uncommon, I would have a squire already were I at home and this would be part of the training.  But I'm not at home, is this something I should just let be left there?
            "What?" asked Malachite coming out of his hesitation.  "Yes, let's get this show started."
            The box opened to reveal an abus gun.  Abus guns were first used by the Caliphate as tiny siege weapons, larger catapults would just get lost moving thru the desert and anything smaller wouldn't be able to knock down a door thru repeated or concentrated firing.  The gun Malachite had was made with some upgrades to style.  The barrel was gold plated and had flowing red lines swirling across is eliciting the gun smoke, or the spray of a hit artery it was also slightly smaller than most, firing a stone or led shot that was only 3 inches across rather than most that were in the range of 4 to 9.
            "Apple," said Malachite.  "this is the smallest gun they make that qualifies as a siege weapon, any smaller and it would be a rifle, since it is intended to be shot at walls and door, known for being stationary and huge, this thing is maddeningly inaccurate and should only be firing at something equally large.  Like a formation of troops.  At least when you are using a normal shot, I have made some modifications."
            The barrel was affixed to the wooden stock by silver rings and the butt of the stock had golden engravings of the Hasenburg two headed bull.  This was also one of only a handful of breech loading weapons in existence, allowing fresh ammunition and charge of explosive powder to be loaded via a trap door near the handle, rather than thru the muzzle like most guns.  "Let me show you how to load it."
            The rest of the case had gun powder that was black, different than any Apple had ever seen before.  "Why are you carrying soot?"
            "That is black powder," explained Malachite.  "It fires with less smoke and more power than the typical stuff, it was only invented in the last decade by the court wizard of the Shah of White Sand, a city in the Caliphate.  Getting that stuff and the formula to it was the week I ate nothing besides soup and harem girls.... Forget that last part."
            "You ate people?" Apple was aghast.
            "I misspoke," said Malachite backpedaling.  "I meant... You know what I can't think of anything to cover that.  When I said I ate them I meant that I kissed them.  Don't tell anybody that, I am confident there is some kind of death penalty in place for them and me if anybody finds out she met the Wonderful Malachite."
            The next thing Malachite removed from the box was a tripod covered in the same gold engravings.  "This thing is always a bitch to keep clean.  Every grove ends up with mud in it, but if I didn't take my fancy one into battle I couldn't bill whoever hired me for its use and clean up."
            "Also makes for a better story to have the best looking weapon," said Apple.
            "You're learning," said Malachite affixing the gun to the tripod and pointing it out to the river.  "An abus is a small cannon and should only be fired with a tripod to anchor it in place, the kickback of firing this one is less than most, which means you can aim, fire, and load quickly, but unanchored the kick will damage your shoulder and make the thing so inaccurate you might as well just throw the gun in anger.  More likely to hit something that way."
            "So never fire without the tripod?" asked Apple.
            "Never say never," said Malachite attaching a set of metal pieces and a lens to the top length of the barrel.  "If someone is standing as close to you as I am now, and he intends to hurt you, fire the fun, hope it hits, and expect a lot of blood to get on you."  Malachite paused a bit while aligning the lens.  "Also, if you are sprayed with blood remember to clean the gun soon after.  Blood is corrosive."
            "Corrosive?" asked Apple.
            "Between you and the wizard its like I am teaching letters," said Malachite.  "Corrosive means that it damages metal that it is left on.  So you clean it off before that happens, it is important to keep stuff clean."
            "Like boots," said Apple.
            "Precisely," said Malachite.  "Now let's continue," pointing to the lens and the metal bits he had attached to the silver rings along the barrel.  "These are sights.  Using them is said to improve accuracy.  Most people without sights just point the gun in the general direction of what they want to hit and fire the gun, but if you look down the barrel, so that the front sight sits between the tines of the back sight, and you make sure that a target is just behind those then you will almost certainly hit what you are aiming at.  Unless they move, there is too much wind, the bullet is misshapen, something gets in the way, the gun fails to fire, or any number of other stupid things that invariably happens just when you don't want it to."
            At this point Apple was salivating at the thought of getting to fire the Horn Blower.
            "Alright little one," said Malachite.  Good or ill, here we go.  "Try and hit that tree on the bank."
            Apple stood behind the gun, looked down the sight and listened as Malachite told her a hundred little things, "Move your foot here, no here" "Hold it tight to your shoulder" "Now look at the lines on the lens, if those cross over what you want to hit that is good, now look at the front and back sights..." and after what seemed an eternity of anticipation he said as softly as possible, "Remember every part of this, we're going to do it a hundred times before we are off this boat, but ultimately it needs to start here, because one day this will mean life and death... Now, FIRE!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Roads of Bone, Chapter 11: Grandfather

I am doing a little experiment.  I am going to write a series of chapters in a fantasy world of my creation and see if it goes anywhere.  Since I have not prewritten this story and have no outline, it will probably end up a convoluted mess.  I do not know how often I will be able to update this or if it will ever finish.  This is the link to CHAPTER 1.  (I have also found that I have to go back and clean up very broken sentences in previous chapters.  This is why I need an editor.  I understand what I am writing, but I need to make sure other people do too.)

Chapter 11: Grandfather
            Apple found Pasgard at his own table in the common area of the ships hold, with what appeared to be 3 human sized troughs filled with heavy stew and half a pitcher of sparkling juice.
            "Master," said Apple.  "How should I address you?"
            "Good question," said Pasgard, taking a minute to roll his shoulders and straighten his back.  "When I took my first apprentice I was still working as Caliphate, and was worried for rank and title, I had they call me Master.  My number two did the same because of habit.  Then I became a Vizier so I used that for the next three, keep it simple.  When I left being a Vizier they call me Pasgard, like everyone else, but some just calling me Master anyway."
            Pasgard paused for a while and looked at no particular thing on the table.
            "You might be my last apprentice," said Pasgard.  "What did you call, Lord Malachite?"
            "He had me call him, Uncle," replied Apple, still unsure what to call the wizard, and having a hard time following his broken speech, it seemed to be getting worse since she had first heard him talk to Uncle Malachite.
            "Hmm," hmm'd Pasgard.  "Don't think I could be 'Uncle' at my age.  How about grandfather?"
            "I would like that," said Apple.
            "I am glad," said Pasgard.  "Now let me start your first lesson."
            Apple beamed and took the seat opposite Pasgard as he gestured her to sit.  He slid the food aside for a moment, a reprieve not a pardon.  And then in his hand was a roll of paper.  He splayed it out across the table and pinned it down with little tacks that again appeared from nowhere.
            The paper was a series of circles and connections with words written in the Caliphate language.  "Do not worry little one, today will not require too much reading," his open hands then began to wave in circle gestures over the paper and all of the circles began to turn like gears in a clock.
            "This is what magic is," said Pasgard.  "Each circle is a part of the world, and each touches the next and pushes it and feel's its own movement slowed by the push.  This push can be followed back thru all of time to the first mover, a being we call Primal, the light of creation that shines into each of us.  It is what animates us, just as water causes a ship to float, the Primal light of creation makes us all live.  Do you understand?"
            "We are light?" asked Apple, more just mesmerized by the turning of the circles.
            "Yes and no," said Pasgard.  "We are the matter that the light animates, and we are the light which animates the matter, and the light within us is the same as the light in all others, just as the matter is all the same matter, only different because of how it is put together."
            Apple realized Pasgard no longer sounded like he had.  His words flowed like he had been a native speaker his whole life.  "Grandfather, how..." How do you ask without sounding rude?  "Why do you sound so differently?"
            "Apple," said Pasgard.  "We are speaking on a deeper level, you will learn this soon.  It is the Primal language, it is closer to the Primal Light, and thus understood more deeply than the languages of man.  It is as if we are souls speaking to one another.  If you look closely at my lips, you will see, they are saying something just a bit differently."
            They were.  His lips moved out of sync with the sounds he spoke.  "Uh," was all Apple could say, it confused her deeply to notice the break between the speaker and the spoken.
            "Relax little one," said Pasgard.  "It is just the fastest way to learn about this, and it will be how I teach you to read.  You will be able to read the light below the words on a page, you will grasp a deeper meaning.  I keep a little book filled with words I have learned, trying to keep them and understand the finer glow of them and the meanings of those who spoke them.
            "On the deepest levels, true understanding of the whole of creation is to be found, and the ability to awaken briefly in others the ability to see the rich light of creation."
            "Like the fish," said Apple.  "Back at the cafe you made everyone see their light."
            "And much more," Pasgard leaned back and began gesturing to the paper like coaxing mist from a censer, and the words began to float from the page turning in the air, glowing, and Apple could read some of them.  "Give me time, and you will understand."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Roads of Bone, Chapter 10: Uncle

I am doing a little experiment.  I am going to write a series of chapters in a fantasy world of my creation and see if it goes anywhere.  Since I have not prewritten this story and have no outline, it will probably end up a convoluted mess.  I do not know how often I will be able to update this or if it will ever finish.  This is the link to CHAPTER 1.  (I have also found that I have to go back and clean up very broken sentences in previous chapters.  This is why I need an editor.  I understand what I am writing, but I need to make sure other people do too.)

Chapter 10: Uncle
            Apple took to her role like an arrow takes to a quiver.  Fit, ready, and when used by a master devastatingly effective.  She had two instructors, the flashy uncle and the somber dark skinned grandfather and they taught in entirely different directions.
            On the first day of the ship ride West she was shown how to clean and polish shoes, so she shined every shoe on the ship.  In return she was told stories the whole time by Malachite, and then by each member of the crew in turn while their boots were polished.
            Malachite always stood by, greeting each member of the crew, analyzing them, and addressing them by name two or three times each while they told their stories, asking for little bits of information or details.  Each time asking Apple if she had any questions for the story teller, and suggesting what question she might ask when she couldn't think of any.  "Apple, ask Sid here what he was smelling when he walked under the peer looking for the lost dog."  "Apple, ask Jonus what his favorite song he heard that night was."  "Apple you should ask Lance if he has ever eaten a finer meal while in a dress."
            By the end of the evening there was not one blemished boot on the whole boat.  And as Malachite said to the last sailor, "Have a goodnight Chester, that was a fine story, you tell that one at every little town?"
            "No sir," said Chester.  "You're the first to hear it in years."
            "That is a crime," said Malachite.  "You should be using that bit of heart wreck to win the sympathies of every lady on the Color Line."
            "I prefer men sir," said Chester.
            "There are many young men that would find you tasty as peach nectar after hearing that  little tale."
            "Thank you sir."
            "Call me, Mal" said Malachite, shutting the door.
            "Did I do good, Mal?" asked Apple.
            "You can call me sir," said Malachite to the girl.  "Uncle if you prefer."
            "Yes, Uncle," said Apple.  "Did I do good?"
            "Yes," said Malachite.  "Let me ask you, Apple.  How many of the men on this boat do you think you could name?"
            "I don't know," said Apple.
            "Well," said Malachite.  "Close your eyes and try to remember each story, who told it, what their boots looked like, anything you can remember and pretend you have to tell all the stories to someone one after another."
            "That would take all day."
            "Yes it would," said Malachite.  "But just try to remember each story, and the name of the person who told it, then say the names as titles for the stories."
            "When you are trying to remember someone, think of what you know about them, who they think they are and what they told you about themselves.  Make their story, your memory of them.  Then when you see them, you will be able to greet them by name and remember what they want you to know about them," said Malachite.  "They could have told you any story they wanted, but they chose the one they did because they thought you would like it, or maybe they wanted to impress me, or maybe it was the only story they knew that would last while you polished, but they chose it for a reason, it is the impression they chose to make."
            "Uncle," said Apple.  "You want me to remember everyone on the ship.  That is so many."
            "I can name every person who came thru here," said Malachite.  "I could tell you what their story was, or close to it.  And I am sure I could ask anyone of them for a favor and they would help me, and I would pay them back big later.  This is how you make friends, and friends are important.  People want you to hear their story, but they really want you to remember it, to feel for them.  Think about that okay."
            "Okay," said Apple.
            "Now you should go eat with Pasgard," said Malachite.  "I think he will want you to call him Master or Wizard, ask which he prefers when you see him.  This is important, you make sure his plate is never bear, and his glass is never empty... That would be a task difficult for any man, a legendary chore for a squire or apprentice, you might barely get any chance to eat at all, but he is your teacher, you serve him, and listen closely."
            "Yes, Uncle."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Preview Chapter: "Foresight"

A while back I wrote a short novelette.  It took me a very long time to write it, but I have written almost as much on this squeal in the last year as I wrote entirely for "Hole in a Field".  To show that I have been doing something with the little mystery I created I present you with a sample chapter for what will become "Foresight" (Ironic).

Chapter 9: Things not of this World
            I felt them moving across my skin the ends of each step the lightest of pinches.  Too many to count.  The room was lit by moonlight and they glistened.
            The room rolled and shimmered.  It crawled.  The collective foot falls of thousands of them made a constant *hisssss....*.  My skin would shiver if it were not paralyzed with tension to keep from upsetting those hundreds already journeying across my body.
            Then he emerged from the door.  He was cloaked so that no flesh showed, nothing showed only the voice was detectable, "You look unwell my friend."  It wasn't said in a known language, it was spoken in the words of primeval, the base code of the universe, understood by anyone, like you would understand yourself, or the things you wish to do.
            "I am covered in insects," I said.  "I was woken up, by being covered in insects."
            "I do remember such feelings well enough," the Cloak said.  "I apologize.  These things... a product of my disruptions.  I did not intend to cause you harm."
            "Can you get them off me?"
            "Not without some complications," the Cloak replied.  "Something from where I am from."
            "Okay," I said watching the door.
            The was black and had no handle and was in an arch, as if someone was going to partition my room into two smaller rooms and decided to start with the door and frame.  The Cloak pushed it a crack letting light and noise through the crack.  The light was harsh and yellow and blinding to my sleep widened pupils.  The sounds like a thousand clicking tongues and fingers strumming to hear the rattling click of keys on a keyboard.  Sound without meaning.  Just discordant noise.
            Then another shadow entered the room and started slurpily-crunching its way around the floor.  blinded by the harsh yellow I saw it more as a mishmash of parts then a complete whole, a broad back like a big flat turtle, but the limbs were shiny like a carapace, and the head looked like a worm or snake with a face that opened like a orchid with a half dozen little tongues clicking out to pull in the bugs around my floor.  Then the thing moved to my bed, I closed my eyes and felt its front limbs holding it up on the bed, and little by little the tiny pinches disappeared replaced with a hot dry breath and the occasionally wispy lick of a tongue tube on one last patrol for centipede.  Then the beast dropped off and shuffled into the yellow and clicking.
            "Better now?"
            "Why does it do that?" I asked sitting up and taking a more firm grasp of the Cloak standing gormlessly in my room.
            "Each time I move in an out the natural world gets a sort of burst and tends to construct that energy making copies of the vermin that happen to be around."
            "A clone army of centipedes," I closed my eyes, and let my mouth and tongue wag as I shook my head and rubbed and scratched at every inch of myself.  "The most unsettling thing a person can wake up to."
            "Again, I--"
            "Apologize, yes, I know.... Thank you," I said.  "This is really just part of my life.  How can I be of service?"
            "Something is happening," said the Cloak.
            "Okay," I replied.  "What?"
            "I know you cannot hear or feel it my friend, you are not as sensitive as many who work for you.  But I can hear it in the Room that Hangs in Darkness, I can hear it at the Everywhere Motel.  There is a sound more and more of your people will start to hear."
            "What does it mean?"
            "Unknown," the Cloak replied.  "I hear it like distant screams, so loud as to be garbled, so distant as to be faded.  And the universe has a lot of background noise to bother me with."
            "So you hear a noise from over a hill, but the water fall you are standing next to keeps you from hearing the message clearly."
            "That analogy would be apt, yes."
            "Well, what you are hearing, does it sound like a roaring cheer?"
            "Cry for help?"
            "Is it the sound of someone crying in pain?"
            "At first I thought so," said the Cloak.  "But it has changed.  Now it sounds more like... a growl.  It sounds like hunger."
            I looked at him in the darkness, my composure came back to me then.  I got up and began to get dressed, making sure to keep the light low and aimed away from my guest.  Fumbling with my silver key necklace being tangled for a second with the tie.  "Has anyone in the organization already been bitten?"
            "The Growling... Have any of the people I am in charge of fallen victim to this thing."
            "Some have, yes," the Cloak said.  "They have walked into the mouth that is growling and are already being chewed."
            "Anyone else?"
            "No one directly working for you," said the Cloak.
            "Odd way to word that," I replied.  "Are any of my people proximate to this right now?  Anyone who can be warned?"
            "Perhaps," said the Cloak, "Though it is being managed for now at the expense of those they are working with."


Friday, July 25, 2014

Fixing the Florida Legislature, pt6

This continues from Part 5.
Or to start from the beginning, here is Part 1.

            In the last entry we used this map.
Still just links to the nursing site.
            And we yielded this chart.
Region                       Seats
-> North West:            11
-> North Central:        15
-> North East:             15
-> East Central:           36
-> West Central:          45
-> South East:             20
-> South West:            12
-> South:                     46­­__
Total                            200

            This was to determine how seats in a hypothetical 200 seat parliament would breakdown in the State of Florida.  But how would those seats break down by party?  Well, there is no easy way to answer that.
            While it is true that Republicans and Democrats are by far the most dominating parties in Florida, with no third party candidate holding any state office, those are not the only parties, they are just the only ones who can win.  As I covered in part 1, the state is carved up to insure each district is distinctly in the favor of one party or the other, and on the macro scale very much titled in favor of Republicans, but part of the glory of parliament politics is that you can have more than two viable parties.
            Currently there are 13 minor parties in the state of Florida, and as I pointed out before in Part 3 more than 20% of people have no party affiliation.  You have America's Party, Constitution Party, Ecology Party, Socialist Workers, Green Party, Independence Party, Independent Party, Justice Party, Libertarian, Socialism and Liberation (the Socialism and Liberation site which is linked is not the same as the dead link on the Division of Elections site list), Peace & Freedom, Reform, and the Tea Party (which considering that their name is supposed to be an acronym, should be listed as TEA or Taxed Enough Already Party, though that linked website seems to be run by a crazy person and I am unsure of his validity, even though it is the listed link for the Florida Division of Elections).

There are more than 3,000,000 voters in Florida that are neither Republicans nor Democrats, and yet there are no 3rd party representatives in either the House or Senate.  Hell, there are more registered Democrats but far less Democratic representatives... That is CORRUPT.
            That also ignores how people just do not bother to vote in state elections.  72% did vote in the 2012 election which was a high for Florida in a historical sense (64%), and compared to the national average of about 60%.  But that is not even 3/4 people who could vote.  It also ignores felons and illegal immigrants which are barred from voting.

            Now there really is no way of knowing how many people refuse or neglect to vote because they see it as pointless or dislike that only the major parties win.  At least you can't tell this without research (that I am willing to do if someone pays me).  But you have to assume that a system in which someone from the Green Party or the Socialists Could win, then they very well Will win (at least occasionally).
            These lesser parties will still not win in great numbers because they lack the national support network of the big two, but they will often enough to grab a few seats, and in some cases they could devastate a big party's chance of taking real control of the state.  The TEA Party could split the Republican party in Florida (though that in turn might make the Republican's a moderate enough choice to draw in more Independents, again there is no clear way to tell).  What could also happen is that several of the third parties could mold into only a handful of larger third parties which would again undercut the big two.
            Now I also mentioned that this in some ways might hurt Florida, the reason is this: on the national stage Florida would be alone, other states would not understand the system, and as a result might have less trust in electing Florida's political representatives to President, or helping them get leverage in the Federal Congress.  Florida currently cultivates certain candidates, you start them off in the House of Representatives, if they show an aptitude you might run them for the Senate position.  Those offices might then be the guys who get drafted to run for the Congress in Washington.  At least that is the hypothetical way of doing things.  If Florida has a fundamentally different system than other places it might hurt the state's credibility as a proving ground for national candidates to the big two parties.
            To put this in perspective, the only other state that would have anything resembling this new Florida Parliament would be Nebraska, which has a unicameral and non-partisan state legislature, it is also the smallest with only 49 members (but there are also less than 2,000,000 people in the state so smallness is less an issue).  Nebraska has not had a serious Presidential contender since Williams Jennings Bryan, who was a third party candidate that supported a more democratic system (more so even than what I am suggesting for Florida).  He was trounced while running for office by bank lobbies because of his ideas on the Gold Standard (a thing we no longer use, but his system might have been worse... So, who knows if that was fair).  Point is, not a lot of executives are elected from states that have unique systems.
            In my mind this is a very thin criticism, I only mention this because I think that it will be a refrain argument from those currently in power as to why they should be allowed to stay in power (the same reason things like the NCAA still exists, people don't want a better system because the old system has a reputation they are holding up as to why they should keep their reputation, rather circular logic).  I actually think the parliament has broader appeal to small parties (which are fringe) and moderates than the current system, because it would allow them to elect candidates that are less likely to pay lip service or simply vote their conscience.  And really if you think that potentially losing a presidency is a reason to derail effective state government, then you are almost certainly someone who thinks they will be running for President one day with Florida as your home state.
            Right now I do not really understand how certain groups vote certain ways because many candidates either do not follow thru with their promises, or are so unwavering that it actually handicaps progress toward those goals (a mentality of, "better nothing than a compromise," a deeply stupid position to take).
            If I were to add one more thing to the system it is this, compulsory voting.  The best way to make sure the system is representing people, is to make those people participate in the system.  It will be difficult, we need to extend early voting, we need to make election days holidays, and we need to make sure that precincts are logically drawn out (good god if anything in the American system's traditions that is more obviously corrupt than the suppression of voter turn out by restricting these things I couldn't find it).
            Ideally the end of the road is a near 100% turn out, with numerous parties that can serve to counter the big two, a system that cannot be unfairly allocated thru creative map manipulation.  How could this not a dream come true for those who want a better democratic government in Florida?

Just for Reference, this is the current Senate map by party.  Those blue districts in the middle of the state are so twisted that they look like little monsters.
            If you have a criticism of what I have written, please comment.  If you like what I wrote, please share this on your various social networks and +1 it on Google+.  I would like more people to be aware of the failings of not only Florida, but State Governments all over the US, and this is as best attempt I can muster to illustrate the problems while still having enough humor that people can stomach reading the whole thing.  Thank you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fixing the Florida Legislature, pt5

            Continued from Part 4.  This entry is the most direct sequel to its previous part, so please try to remember Part 4 for context, otherwise this will just be a lot of meaningless math... Still kind of is meaningless math.

            After looking at some basic information, like how many seats should exist on this hypothetical parliament, and how many people are in Florida (roughly) I needed to pick a map.
This is the map I went with.
            I came to the conclusion that this is the map that should be used for parliament administration in Florida, mostly because it already exists which means I did not have to draw a map myself.  Instead piggy backing on the hard work of others who put a great deal of thought into their decisions in order to provide proper medical care.  I am going to use it to continue lecturing on politics.

Step 4: How many people are in each Zone?
            As you can see there are 8 zones each having a different number of counties, each with its own range of population, if you want to look at each counties population HERE YOU GO.
Rounded to the nearest thousand.  (Keep in mind, I am not a census taker, these are all from wikipedia because... I am not being paid to do this.)
-> North West has 12 counties with a total populations of 1,007,000.
-> North Central has 18 counties (which seems excessive but they are rather tiny) with a total population of 1,383,000.
-> North East has 6 counties with a total population of 1,434,000.
-> East Central 8 counties with a total population of 3,405,000 (Orange county alone has more people than the entire North West zone).
-> West Central 10 counties with a total population of 4,304,000 (Hillsborough county has more people than the entire North West zone).
-> South East 5 counties (seems trim but Palm Beach has as much area as the five smallest counties in North Central combined) counties with a total population of 1,941,000.
-> South West 5 counties with a total population of 1,172,000.
-> South 3 counties with a total population of 4,409,000 (Miami Dade and Broward are both very populated, crushing numbers of people by the standards of Florida.)

            Overall this yields about 19,055,000 people (again my original number was 19,060,000and I admitted it was a bit rough, as are these, we'll stick with the 19,055,000 for the last little part below, for a slight increase in accuracy).

Step 5: How many seats does each Zone get?
            This is easy, you take the population of the Zone, you divide it by the population of the state, and you multiply it by 200 (the hypothetical number of seats).  To be completely clear there is some rounding involved in this system, some of these ended up with .3 or .54, in which case I just rounded off to the nearest whole number, this is about getting as good a system as reasonably possible, not quibbling over margins looking for an unattainable perfect system.

Region                       Seats
-> North West:            11
-> North Central:        15
-> North East:             15
-> East Central:           36
-> West Central:          45
-> South East:             20
-> South West:            12
-> South:                     46­­__
Total                            200

            How will these seats breakdown in an election?  And what is one issue that might cause trouble if this system were adopted?  I will continue with Part 6.

            If you have a criticism of what I have written, please comment.  If you like what I wrote, please share this on your various social networks and +1 it on Google+.  I would like more people to be aware of the failings of not only Florida, but State Governments all over the US, and this is as best attempt I can muster to illustrate the problems while still having enough humor that people can stomach reading the whole thing.  Thank you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fixing the Florida Legislature, pt4

Continued from Part 3

            I have tried to establish 3 things to this point, one per blog.  1) the current Florida government is laid out in a fashion that is undemocratic and corrupt.  2) a new system that is more democratic is possible once you move away from emulating the US federal system.  3) a parliament like those found in many other countries is a good model to emulate.
            To illustrate how a parliament would be put into effect in Florida all that is really needed is to 1) figure out how many seats you want to work with, 2) determine the population of Florida, 3) divide the map of Florida into zones, 4) determine how what percentage of people are in each zone, 5) use that percentage to determine how many seats a zone will get, 6) have the parties create a list of candidates, and then 7) have an election.  Clearly the last two steps are not going to happen, that would demand participation from the parties and the state government, and as we have established, those are corrupt and not going to change for the benefit of the people.  But this is an intellectual exercise that I can point to when anyone asks, "Well, if you know better what would you have us do to fix things?"

I'd say, "Let's at the very least get rid of all the black magic," as a possible fix, but since black magic isn't real I almost prefer corrupt individuals to keep wasting their time on it, instead of figuring out how to work the system even more.
Step 1: How many seats do we want?
            This is actually one of those great questions when creating any representative body, currently the United States' Congress has 435 seats, but had less than 70 when originally created, and only had 13 under the Articles of Confederation.  The number only became fixed at 435 when they all had the collective realization that they would run out of chairs in the Capital building if they kept trying for some sort of perfect representation model.
            The more members you have the more accurate your proportion system can be, if you have 100 members then you can dived things along percentage points rather elegantly, one percent of the vote means 1 chair.  If by contrast your zone ends up with 17, then how do you distribute 5% fairly?  5% of 17 means somebody will only get .85 of a seat.
            Florida has a population of 19,560,000 people (roughly), so you are going to need a good number of people to give a flexible number of seats to work with.  There are currently 40 Senators and 120 House members, so 160 might be a good number to go with, but (to look back at Part 3) Austria has a population almost half our size but has 62 Federal and 183 National seats for a total of 245.  In my mind, I think the difference should be split, and we should look at 200 seats, that means a candidate would need at least .5% of the voters to get a single seat, that seems like a low barrier to entry, but at the same time that is still nearly 98,000 votes per seat.

Step 2: What is the population of Florida?
            I already mentioned that, 19,560,000 (roughly).  The Federal Government takes a census every 10 years and Florida already uses it as a guide to redraw lines, instead it will now just be used to allocate seats.  Done.

Step 3: How do we divide Florida into zones?
            This might shock a few people, but Florida is already sectioned off into zones by numerous governing entities, crusading organizations, and crazy people like me.  None of them use the same zones ultimately, but comparing them gives us all a good range of possibilities to work with.
Here is one with only 3 zones used by the Florida Prison facilities.
            I hate this one for multiple reasons, primarily that 3 zones is too few for the prison system let alone a voting system.  Look at the vast size of zone 3, imagine some poor fool whose family lives on the East coast, but he is imprisoned on the West... Think he gets a lot of visits from his family?  Think that helps with becoming a reformed citizen?  Well it will be pretty shitty at creating a coherent area to advertise and mobilize votes in too.  (Here is an unrelated video about why prisons in the United States and Florida in particular are bad).

Here is a map by... Somebody.  For... Some reason.
             I actually think that this has a lot of the same problems as the Prison map, this is not a good number of zones.  Especially the purple area, the East coast has a much higher population than the west and they have very different voting patterns (and different television markets, Sarasota, the second county from the top of the purple on the West Coast for instance, watches Rays' baseball games, the East coast watches the Marlins.  As silly as that may sound, parties would have a hard time finding a good time to buy commercials for the election targeting sports fans if this market split existed).

Here is how the Future Business leaders of America see Florida.
            This is actually pretty good and 5 would probably be the minimum number of zones the breakdown would need to insure that no region of Florida is being overlooked with representation.  But the Red Region would still have counties on both the East and West sides of Florida.  And the panhandle is distinctly larger than the others with one key issue: it is in two time zones.

This map is used for Nursing Administration in the state.
            Since it is already used in some governing capacity it would be the easiest to integrate into existing documents.  It breaks thing up into regions that are distinct from each other, and somewhat internally harmonious.  There might be some wiggle room around the edges, I bet Citrus county is more tied into Pinellas County than to Taylor, but this looks pretty good.  And I believe the split in the Panhandle does run along the timeline break (if not that might be an issue to be targeted for fixing).

This is the last map I found from the Libertarian Party of Florida.
            This is probably the most regions that could be reasonably carved out of Florida before things start to get too targeted.  It works well enough, but having there be 11 zones (an odd number for dividing things) seems a little silly, and the way they chose to number them is also off (we would obviously change that for simplicity of reading, but this one's presentation is pretty rough and contributes to me not liking it).  I can also see that their Region 3, while internally consistent will be under populated compared to 1, 2, 7, 9, and 10.  I would say this is a little too much division, but I included it to illustrate some different ways things could be done.
             Overall I think that the Nursing map is the best bet, it has 8 zones, none of which reach across the width of the state, none of which have strange overlapping media markets (that I am aware of).  I will continue along the steps using this map in Part 5.

The "winner", I'll be using from now on.

             (If you have a criticism of what I have written, please comment.  If you like what I wrote, please share this on your various social networks and +1 it on Google+.  I would like more people to be aware of the failings of not only Florida, but State Governments all over the US, and this is as best attempt I can muster to illustrate the problems while still having enough humor that people can stomach reading the whole thing.  Thank you.)