Timeria launches photo contest

A photography contest has been launched in Timeria in the honour of Apollo as a means of commemorating the ancient Pythian Games in the run-up to the 2016 Rio instance of its modern equivalent, the Olympic Games.

Individuals who chose to participate can submit up to three photographs that have been transformed using artistic filters available within the free Prisma app. The photographs can be submitted via the dedicated Facebook group for the contest, or via the Timerian forums. The submissions will ultimately be voted on, with the top three photographs earning their owners a quantity of Timerian currency.

In addition to the top three, each photograph that earns at least three votes to be included in a virtual exhibition, to be operated by the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry will also assume the right to print the photographs in the future for a physical exhibition once a venue is secured.

Sandus in ambitious book plan

The micronation of Sandus, well recognized for its strong cultural development, has announced an ambitious plan to publish half-a-dozen new works, to be offered as eBooks.

According to today’s announcement by the Kremlum Sandus State Press, which is responsible for overseeing the project officially known as the Sovereign Eagle & Glaux Series, the works will be published via the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Service. That service allows anyone to design and publish their own eBook and offer it for sale on Amazon within 24 to 48 hours. In Sandus’ case, the State Press committed that the price for each eBook will be set such that it will be as accessible as possible.

Included in the series will be the long-awaited Breviarium Rerum Sanderum, a publication that will cover key aspects of Sandus, such as its philosophy, history, culture and constitution. Another work, the Great Philia Almanac, will discuss the background of the more than 100 Sandum holidays. Other works will discuss other cultural matters in-depth, such as popular recipes, the role of the French language in Sandum, and its mysticism.

The Series will also republish one current Sandum text as an eBook, specifically the Founding Law & Citizens textbook, which is an orientation guide for new citizens originally published by the State College.

No anticipated timeline for publication of each work accompanied the announcement.

Crime & Punishment in micronationalism

When one speaks of crime and punishment within the micronational community, this Author is often reminded of that famous Apollo Skyline cartoon from the September 28, 2002, edition (pictured below). The subject of that mocking depiction of micronational justice was Fidel Nico of the long-former Micras micronation of Baracão, who had, in the “in-situ” reality of the community, fled persecution in Babkha and gained asylum in Baracão, only to be extradited back to Babkha to his certain execution. All while sitting comfortably, and quite lively, in his chair at the computer in his macronational abode. What a show it must have been to witness one’s own execution at the hands of the gruesomely violent Babkhan “justice” system.

cartoon37

The Skyline chose to mock an example that was ripe for the picking, some may argue – obviously a micronation can’t really “execute” a person as a true punishment for his or her transgressions against its laws. Such an act is merely the grandest statement of official contempt.

Then again, how effectual is any punishment imposed by the micronational courts? Even banishment from a micronation is ineffectual, insofar as the convicted micronationalist will always be able to find another micronation wanting of new citizens to accept his or her involvement, despite past transgressions (most of which are arguably conflicts of personality rather than reasonable law). The imposition of fines, too, are fraught with enforcement difficulty, as micronational currency is valueless, and any collection of macronational monies is an ultimately hopeless endeavour.

Perhaps it is our desire, as victims – perceived or real – to have justice done that still sees the micronational community engage in the prosecution, or sometimes persecution, of disagreeable individuals in our midst. Perhaps it is simply that the micronational arena is the best hope some have to see justice done, for lack of the financial resources to pursue the Accused macronationally, or simply because the wrong that has been committed is not one likely to be prosecuted – or understood – outside micronationalism. Maybe it is the convergence of the underpinning interest in law and experimentation on which micronationalism is built and the happen-chance transgression that motivates a desire to see the laws and courts we create in action, with the imposition of a punishment merely a sideshow. Or maybe, especially in the case of character-based Simulationist micronations such as those that inhabit the Bastion Union on Micras, it is just a captivating way to write one’s current persona out of the wider narrative.

Regardless of the motivation for seeking out punishment for transgressions in our community, it is nonetheless a reality of it, as it has been since the popularization of micronationalism by the Internet at the turn of the millennium. While each and every micronationalist who has been convicted in a micronational court remains very much alive and with their personal wealth intact, their cases have nonetheless formed an important part of the history and development of the particular micronation, and indeed the wider community, at the time.

This historical significance is one that admittedly should not be diminished by the ultimate futility of micronational justice as so accurately conveyed by the Apollo Skyline, for those contemporary micronationalists involved in each case were truly vested in the matter. After all, many of them used that sandbox to help develop the legal skills and interests that have propelled them, in this Author’s recollection, into the law firms of Belgium, Britain, Canada, and the United States. And that is perhaps the one tangible benefit of micronational justice, much like that of all aspects of micronationalism – it helps us learn skills, explore interests, and develop as individuals and macronational professionals.

Maybe that’s where we need to keep our focus when it comes to micronational justice – that it is a developmental endeavour, rather than one that is meant to be punitive. Cases should not be brought for malice, as alienating any member of an already dwindling populace is ultimately more harmful to the micronation than any crime most are capable of perpetuating. Rather, turn the Courts to administrative matters, such as dissolution proceedings for locally insolvent companies or judicial review. In such proceedings, micronationalists can learn and explore the law, and thereby grow individually, as opposed to needlessly carrying on momentary vendettas caused by frustration and the pouring salt on open wounds by imposing flagrantly unenforceable punishments.

Central MicroWiki figure announces step-back

A prominent face of the MicroWiki Community, Kit McCarthy, has announced that he is stepping back from his wide-ranging duties and projects.

“I’m afraid I’m absolutely addicted,” announced McCarthy in an address to the community, reflecting on his one-year involvement in micronationalism. It was during that year that he developed a strong appreciation for the community and its participants, describing a sense of belonging that he latched onto as a result of shared interests. “I love it,” he said of micronationalism and the MicroWiki Community.

With major changes at home and at school, however, McCarthy has decided to invest time in other aspects of his life as a means to achieve a balance. The “multiple hours a day” he has spent in micronationalism, where he has headed up a plethora of projects from journalism to education to economics, was nonetheless without regret. “One year … has taught me more than nine in school,” he admitted, “but I want to put that learning into some sort of real world context.”

McCarthy will not be a stranger to the community moving forward, despite the reduction in his participation. He hopes to continue to attend meetings of the Grand Unified Micronational organization and the Mercian Parliament, as well as to continue his work on some of his more established community projects. “I just won’t be starting a new organization every week,” he commented cheekily.

Pavlov grants rights; seeks broader appeal

The Empire of Pavlov has ratified a new constitution that enshrines numerous civil rights as a means of gaining broader appeal, as well as to clarify the micronation’s status as a multi-national socio-cultural project.

Included in the new constitution proclaimed on June 21 is an explicit protection for civil rights that will prevent a citizen from deprivation on the grounds of race, gender, social origin, religion, or “any other distinction whatsoever”.

This protection is seen as a measured response to the widespread diplomatic condemnation that Pavlov received from the La MicroFrancophonie community last year. In that affair, Pavlov’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Casimir Qërimbasy, in response to the United States Supreme Court pro-same-sex marriage ruling, declared that any person engaging in or supporting homosexual acts within Pavlov would be persecuted.

With its new more moderate constitution, Pavlov is positioning itself to move on from the episode. “The constitution was designed to attract new citizens from a broader spectrum … while maintaining religious orthodoxy, [Pavlov] is moving away from parody,” said Emperor Alexander IV in comments to the Coprieta Standard, suggesting that the ultra-religious orthodoxy which characterized his micronation last year is a thing of the past.

Nonetheless, while it guarantees freedom from discrimination to its citizens, as a religious micronation, Pavlov’s new constitution continues to forbid same-sex marriage. “As a Christian state we believe in marriage between a man and a woman,” said the Emperor, “… proponents of same-sex marriage, they’re free to establish their own micronations and implement the policies they like.”

Jexit! Jingdao departs from Micronationalism

On Sunday the 19th of June, the Empire of Jingdao, a simulated micronation, user of the Bastion Forums and a member of the Micronational Cartography Society, announced its decision to withdraw from participating in micronationalism in order to focus on a creative-writing orientated ‘conworld project’. [1]

The request generated a fair amount of controversy as Jingdao sought to retain its place on the fictional map of Micras, maintained by the MCS, whilst wiping the slate clean (literally: a blank map with two cities; ‘Lily Plantation’ and ‘Garden Shed’. This was queried by the MCS on aesthetic grounds, with one councillor, Jack Lewis, going so far as to state that the proposed change was “a modification that will leave the MCS map look quite awful”. Echoing this concern, the Administrator General of the MCS, Craitman Pellegrino, noted that a shift in focus for Jingdao “doesn’t mean [its] back-up land has to be a blank blob” before adding that a detailed map would at least allow the preservation of a semblance of what he termed ‘geographical realism’.

These concerns were echoed in the wider community of MCS members by the veteran micronationalist Krasniy Yastreb who observed that some of the details contained in Jingdao’s old claim were “around long before any Jingdaoese – some of the names erased by this claim have been on the map for almost the entire duration of Micras’ existence” before suggesting that the Jingdaoese decision may have arisen on account of a desire for “retaliation for recent misfortunes on Micras experienced by certain Jingdaoese”.

It was perhaps inevitable that, with the current state of world affairs, somebody would so misguided to attempt to venture a new portmanteau word to describe the act of secession. Step forward and take a bow Lord Erion, who now earns lasting infamy for coining the word ‘Jexit’. May the Gods have mercy on his soul.

The discussion prompted the MCS Council to issue a new directive on internal claim modifications, affording it the discretion to depart from its longstanding policy of automatically accepting ‘domestic’ changes if the proposed changes are deemed by the council to be contrary to the MCS Charter or to contain offensive material. [2]

Rasmus, the leader of the Jingdao, responded to these objections by submitting a revised modification request, this time with detailed boundaries and place names, the latter of which contained a number of surprises for those curious to peruse the claim; the cities of Boredom, Kangaroo Ride, Two Cocks, and Never Change, might be deemed a satirical commentary on the perils of having to co-exist with micronationalists for any length of time. Rasmus was obliged to clarify that the two cocks in question were fighting cockrels, as opposed to the other kind of cock and as such the revised map looks set to be accepted by the MCS for its next update. [3]

Concurrently, post-micronational Jingdao announced to the Bastion Forum that Rasmus would be resigning as an administrator for that community and that Jingdao’s forums hosted on Bastion were to be renamed as the ‘Flower garden of the Heavenly Light’ to serve as a backup site and archive for its new forum [4]

As for the reason for this departure, Rasmus alluded to it being on account of personal conflicts in his resignation notice submitted to the MCS Council on the 6th of June. Jonas, his long time associate and collaborator in the various iterations of Jingdao subsequently elaborated that the disagreement was with those individuals whom he, somewhat colourfully, termed “Natopian bovic goat worshippers”. [5]

A satirical poster about Jingdao-Natopia relations

To get to the bottom of what this means for the Bastion community and simulated micronationalism in general, the CS arranged an interview with Nathan, the founder of Natopia, to get his perspective on the disagreement.

Coprieta Standard: Nathan, thank you for agreeing to give the time for this interview.

Nathan: My pleasure! An honor to be interviewed for the Standard.

The citizens of Natopia have been cited by Rasmus as one of the principle reasons for his recent resignation as an MCS Cartographer and an Administrator on the Bastion Union forum. In particular he has claimed that you sought “to profit from [his] work on Walstadt but then removing [him] through OOC (Out of Character) deceit”(1). This then, presumably, is the personal conflict he is alluding to in his resignation notice over at the MCS (2). It may be considered that this once again highlights the rather fraught tension that exists between the simulation of a geopolitical dispute and the demands of running and participating in a fairly small community of hobbyists.

Q) The idea of Walstadt, a fictional whaling station on the southern continent of Cibola, first originated with Ric Lyon, whose various characters have included many citizens of Natopia, how did Rasmus come to be involved in the first place?

A) Walstadt, I think, started as part of Sangun-Treisenberg, and then was part of the Dominion, and then was part of Jingdao-South Batavia. I’m a bit hazy on the exact chronology, but one of Rasmus’ characters, Sisera, became directly involved in Walstadt around this time when one of Ric’s characters, Elijah, was crucified. It then became independent briefly before becoming part of Haifa. Natopia traded away St. Andre to Haifa for Walstadt, and Walstadt became a Natopian Demesne (Natopia’s term for our territorial subdivisions) with Ric in charge. Last summer, Ric left Rasmus in charge of Walstadt while Ric was going to be away for a few months. Walstadt’s history is the basis for why the population of Walstadt has had a resurgence in sympathy towards Jingdao and the Siseran religion in particular this past year. 

Q) Although the source material has been obscured by Rasmus decision to hide many of the most recent Walstadt posts within Jingdao, the roots of the latest Walstadt dispute lie in an in-character conflict connected to the Euran War. Do you feel that this, combined with other in-character pronouncements constituted an effort on the part of Rasmus and Jingdao to draw Natopia into a wider geopolitical conflict?

A) Oh yes, I think so. Natopia’s client state, Athlon, was the actor in that war, not Natopia, and only in a limited scope to provide aid to Constancia. Although I don’t think Rasmus’ escalation was malicious, and I admit the prospect of a good ol’ fashioned world recwar sounds fun (until you actually have to do it, then all fun is drained) but Walstadt’s actions did leave the wrong impression on almost everyone involved on the Natopian side, sending us into crisis mode which put things into motion by reacting to Walstadt’s secessions.

Q) As a result of those conflicts, previously mentioned, there were steps taken by Natopia to curb the influence of characters played by Rasmus, within your sphere of influence, I mean of course the Act that was put before the Frenzy (the Natopian legislature) to proscribe those characters and to transfer the title of Walstadt to a more cooperative vassal. It is this step that appears to have prompted Rasmus’ claim of being removed by ‘OOC deceit’. What is your view on this – does the dismissal of a character or set of characters from a fictional nation count as an in or out of character move?

A) I think this is the crux of the crisis, Walstadt’s back to back secession attempts were declared “in character” because of an “out of character” lack of response from Natopia’s imperial government (there was a week-long lull, which even triggered an automatic regency, that coincided with this whole affair, compounding all of it). I felt this was rather unfair and the secessions, mobilization, and collusion with Jingdao escalated the situation to the brink. Those legislative safeguards were also in response to the “in character” complaints from Walstadt, which suffered a pirate attack, so we also tried to build a naval base there. Naturally, if a regional government is seceding, the central government has to act somehow, and removing the family that has been declaring independence is the first step. Although the characters of Rasmus were placed on Natopia’s “watch list” they were named specifically, which does not preclude Rasmus from continuing in Walstadt with other characters. His characters were listed as Category B, which allows his characters full access to common forums and allows each Demesne to decide whether or not to allow that character in. Our laws are written, as best we can, to make sense “in character” so we can only restrict or exile characters, not real people, so there is no “ooc ban” against Rasmus in Natopia, just a few of his characters (and they aren’t even banned, unless a Demesne makes that decision on its own, or his characters commit a crime, its essentially just a probation list). We did want to make it difficult for him to immediately regain control of Walstadt, because of the concern over additional secession attempts.

Q) This is, as we will all be aware, not an especially large community, as a consequence, there are quite a number of overlapping levels and competing spheres of influence, within the game as it were, where individuals may find themselves in a political conflict yet, at a community level, are obliged to cooperate with each other in order to ensure the proper functioning of the Bastion Union or the MCS. Do you feel it is inevitable that there will always be a blurring of the lines when it comes to the separation of in-character and out-of-character actions?

A) Unfortunately yes. It does make things hard to follow at times, when a conflict suddenly shifts to the out of character realm. Nobody wants that, but all of our projects are inherently personal so there will always be a blurred line between the characters we create and the people at the keyboards. I think that’s one of the best parts of Micras, people trying on new hats and new masks to tell a new story. But, we’re also on the internet, and it can be impossible to interpret tone, intent, motive, all of that.

Q) It has been said that Jingdao wanted to engineer a recwar (recreational war) with some of the other Bastion Union members, yet this was rebuffed in Shireroth and counter-acted by political, judicial and legislative actions in Natopia. Only in Constancia did a simulated war occur by the consent of both parties. Could Jingdao have acted in a different manner that might have obtained the support and participation of a greater portion of the community rather than leaving Rasmus isolated to the point that he felt he had no choice but to quit as an Administrator and, effectively, to remove Jingdao from the Bastion Union?

A) It’s true that Natopia was against a recwar, we haven’t had one in a long time and we weren’t really ‘feeling it.’ We were wary of the possible endgame of such a war and of Jingdao’s motives. When I learned that Constancia and Jingdao had worked out a framework, rough narrative, and a defined ending point, I was intrigued which is why Athlon entered in a limited role. If I hadn’t heard of the war’s “plotline” beforehand, I never would have given it a second thought. I think Jingdao’s carefully crafted xenophobia and extreme nationalism is off-putting to most other nations, and has resulted in Shireroth’s official policy of non-interaction, even Natopia had an unofficial policy of not engaging with Jingdao’s more severe actions. Jingdao created itself and presented itself as “superior” and was fiercely proud of that. I don’t see how they could have come together with other nations in a spirit of cooperation, building the trust necessary for frank discussions of recwar and/or political plotlines to be played out. Over time it became very difficult, for me, to separate their in character jingoist propaganda, speeches, mannerisms, slogans, chants, etc, from their out of character intent for how their micronation was supposed to interact with us “inferior” micronations. I honestly don’t know how they expected the rest of Micras to deal with them short of just sterilizing ourselves and ceding our land to them.

Q) Now that Jingdao has moved to a separate forum, it is reportedly planning to focus on ‘conworlding’ (the construction of fictional worlds), how in your opinion, does that differ from the ‘micronationalism’ practised by our community and the ‘Micras Sector’ as a whole?

A) I think there’s a parallel to Jingdao’s move and Minarboria’s move a few months ago. Both of those groups of people wanted greater control over their work. Minarboria is just a “connation” instead of conworld. I think conworlding, in the context the Jingdaoese are using it, is a more controlled narrative than Micras could ever have. There will be no unknowns on Jingdao’s new world and they can tell their story exactly how they want. I think the Micras Sector is actually too big to be a conworld, there are too many people with too many different ideas. I think Micras Sector nations, at their heart, their core identity, still want to “pretend to be real” but the magic, dragons, spaceships, and all that stuff get thrown in because we’ve been doing this so long we get bored, so we make outlandish things to entertain ourselves and try to surprise each other with something neat.

Finally, it would only be fair to note that Jingdao appears to have wholeheartedly embraced the term ‘Jexit’ and now intends to use it as a name for its residual holdings on the MCS map, seemingly with the intent of becoming a parody of the United Kingdom’s Brexit era… which has to be a first for (post-)micronationalism. [6]

Mentors sought for new programme

Experienced micronationalists are being asked to express their interest in becoming mentors for younger community members as part of a new programme aimed at easing the often steep learning curve associated with joining micronationalism.

The Micronational Mentorship Program, launched today by Dallin Langford, aims to match new micronationalists, who he generally considers those who joined the community from January 2015 to present, with experienced community members. Each mentor would be assigned to a student and be responsible for providing “tips and tricks” and sharing useful knowledge from their experiences. Once the student completes the mentorship, a further optional internship, which would involve the assignment to a temporary government position in the mentor’s micronation, would be offered as a means of providing further experience.

“This way a sense of unity will develop, and newer micronationalists will be able to not nearly mess up as badly as you see on the forums and elsewhere,” Langford told the MicroWiki Community, referencing the recent angst that occurred there over comments regarding Islam.

Individuals interested in becoming either a mentor or a student have been asked to self-identify by Langford by submitting the requisite form, which can be accessed via his announcement.