Around the World for Abaisse

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu May 02, 2013 4:22 pm

(Relly's curiosity and wanderlust is to blame here).

Basically: tell us a bit about where you're from. The places you love, historical trivia, who's who in politics, even the quirky traditions and holidays you celebrate. Feel free to ask others too.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Marianne
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Marianne » Thu May 02, 2013 9:48 pm

I am from the mysterious and secluded land of Inside The Beltway, Washington, DC. Our ways and workings are impenetrable to the civilized mind. Every two years, each of the (Congressional) districts in the country select an elephant's ass to send as tribute to the Capitol, where they are pitted against each other in a vicious televised deathmatch that serves as morbid entertainment for the whole nation. Unfortunately none of them ever seem to actually meet a gruesome demise on the floor of the legislature, because that would be too close to accomplishing something.

The recent DC handgun ban put a stop to the long-cherished local tradition known as Tourist Season, which opens with the blossoming of the cherry trees in the springtime and features an elaborate scoring system based on the size and nationality of the tour group and how badly they are holding up traffic. Disappointed tourist hunters have started up an initiative in the Virginia suburbs to replace this bitterly-mourned pastime with a season on Canada geese, which might actually stand a chance of passing due to a critical mass of lobbyists annoyed that they can't schmooze on the golf course without getting bird shit all over their $900 shoes.

Rumors that DC has a functioning subway system or that the layout of the city streets conforms to Euclidean geometry remain completely unsubstantiated.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.
- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby freedomlover » Thu May 02, 2013 10:31 pm

I'm from New Jersey, but I go to school in Virginia.

I live in southern Virginia, in a large city surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is quite a contrast to the small NJ town I grew up in. I have what is known as a slight southern twang. In Virginia we pride ourselves on our historical significance and being one of the most influential states in the union. Most of American history took place in Virginia- first colony settled by the English, prominent state with many founding fathers, influential southern state in the Civil War, many Civil War battles were fought here. To this day Virginia shapes and defines much of American history.
Places I love? The cafe that closed--- it needs to open again soon :(, anywhere with my friends, getting away from the city and going into the mountains, the campaign trail, political sign barricades.

Famous political people:
Jim DeMint- was a South Carolina senator, Rand Paul- Kentucky senator, Obama- the president not very many people like, Michele Bachmann- becoming a well-known woman in politics, Hilary Clinton- she is a woman in politics, I do not agree with many of her views and she is sort of aging now but still active, Marco Rubio- 'heartthrob politician'- no joke. I'm not sure which other politicians y'all would have heard of...


The main issue dividing Americans is this


Should we give more power to the president in DC and the "Washington Elite" or should we cut that to size and bring it to the people and the states?

That was over-simplified since whole books can be written on that topic ;)
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Acaila » Thu May 02, 2013 10:55 pm

My culture studies side is very excited by this thread! So much so that I was asking what I should start with during my driving lesson when I should probably have been concentrating more :D

So, I am from Scotland, most wonderful of small countries. In general, give me any topic at all about Scotland and I will be happy to tell you of our quirkiness.

Since Marianne mentioned tourists though, I thought I might tackle one of the topics we love to tease tourists about.

So, the accepted national dish of Scotland is haggis. But what is haggis?
If you're a tourist and you ask many a native Scot, you will probably not get the actual truth, but instead get told that it's a small furry animal that lives in the wild in Scotland. Common elaborations include details of the haggis hunting season, and that one side of a haggis has shorter legs than the other, because it makes it faster for them to go around hills that way. Even one of the main national broadsheet newspapers runs a haggis hunt website: http://haggishunt.scotsman.com/ Because we really do rather enjoy having fun at the expense of tourists, particularly when they come out with things like "Wow, isn't it great that they built Edinburgh Castle so close to the train station!"

In truth, haggis is a wonderful amazing food stuff. Now, another thing many Scots revel in is grossing non-Scots out about haggis once they find out what it actually is. Basically, take all of the bits of a sheep you wouldn't otherwise want to eat - lungs, liver, heart and miscellaneous bits of offal - mash them up with oats and spices and shove them into either a sheep's stomach, or more normally nowadays, a casing similar to that around sausages. The mere thought of the ingredients puts a lot of people off, but it's of a similar consistency to mince (ground beef) really.

Traditionally, it's served with "neeps and tatties", in other words mashed turnip and mashed potatoes. So it basically looks like different coloured mush on a plate: http://mum6kids.files.wordpress.com/200 ... 0_full.jpg
But trust me on this, it tastes amazing.

You can do lots of different things with haggis, and we frequently do here. It's a common thing to get deep fried haggis in batter in chip shops along with fish and chips. Fusion cuisines have made haggis pakora and haggis samosas a regular thing. For me, I mostly have it on oatcakes (another traditional Scottish food), in tacos (fusion cuisine again) or I buy haggis pizzas, which I kid you not are one of the most fantastically delicious things ever.

Haggis is traditionally served in particular on Burns Night, an annual holiday to celebrate Robert Burns, our most famous writer. All sorts of social groups have "Burns Suppers" where the haggis is the centrepiece of the evening, usually paraded in after a bagpiper, then somebody gets up to address a poem to the food by Burns called "To A Haggis". It's even got particular lines you're meant to stick the knife in and things like that. And then you eat haggis, drink whisky, make speeches in traditional forms and recite more Burns.

So yes, Scotland. We like to tease people, mix up interesting food stuffs and our major events involve getting well fed, well drunk and listening to the sound of our own voice :D
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Marianne » Thu May 02, 2013 11:06 pm

freedomlover wrote:I'm from New Jersey, but I go to school in Virginia.

I live in southern Virginia, in a large city surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is quite a contrast to the small NJ town I grew up in. I have what is known as a slight southern twang. In Virginia we pride ourselves on our historical significance and being one of the most influential states in the union. Most of American history took place in Virginia- first colony settled by the English, prominent state with many founding fathers, influential southern state in the Civil War, many Civil War battles were fought here. To this day Virginia shapes and defines much of American history.
Places I love? The cafe that closed--- it needs to open again soon :(, anywhere with my friends, getting away from the city and going into the mountains, the campaign trail, political sign barricades.

Famous political people:
Jim DeMint- was a South Carolina senator, Rand Paul- Kentucky senator, Obama- the president not very many people like, Michele Bachmann- becoming a well-known woman in politics, Hilary Clinton- she is a woman in politics, I do not agree with many of her views and she is sort of aging now but still active, Marco Rubio- 'heartthrob politician'- no joke. I'm not sure which other politicians y'all would have heard of...


The main issue dividing Americans is this


Should we give more power to the president in DC and the "Washington Elite" or should we cut that to size and bring it to the people and the states?

That was over-simplified since whole books can be written on that topic ;)


Roanoke? Charlottesville? :) Forgive me if I'm being nosy--mom's a UVA alum and we always used to do family vacations in the mountains near Charlottesville.

It's funny, it sounds like I come from the opposite side of the political aisle as you but I agree that hacking apart the horrid bloated mess in Washington is one of the biggest issues facing the country. I think the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street have more in common than they think--both are outraged about crony-capitalist elites screwing over everyone else and the unholy spawn of big business and big government feeding off each other, it's mostly a difference of which side of the coin they're more comfortable wagging their fingers at.

Or at least, that's what it looks like to this left-leaning libertarian.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby LibertySparks » Thu May 02, 2013 11:09 pm

Michigan-The Great Lakes State.

No one here is more than 85 miles away from a Great Lake. To monitor all this water, we have two kinds of lighthouses- actual lighthouses and orange barrels. Yes, it seems as if everywhere you turn, there is road construction going on.

Apparently we have a tendency to pronounce things funnily. We shorten cities like Grand Rapids into Grarapids and forget to pronounce the 'T' at the end of Detroit.We come up with strange words like "doorwall" and use the back of our left hand to find our way around. We have been to Hell and back, visiting Paradise and Christmas on our way. We drive over the Big Mac- better known as the Mackinac Bridge. And we love our sports teams. When our teams makes it to the World Series or the playoffs, you can bet tickets are going to be sold as standing room only. But not too many care, it's just being at the game they care about. Every festival seems to be named after some sort of Automobile or Plant. And speaking of automobiles, we love them. Despite the rough economy, cars are still a big part of our lives.

Which brings me to the political side of our fine state.
Our Governor is Rick Snyder, our senators are Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin. Detorit's mayor is not a search engine but man, Dave Bing. And the State's financial situation is horrible. MI tends to turn up blue during every presidential election and has given all 16 of its electoral votes to Obama over the past 2 elections. If he was elected, Mitt Romney would have been the first president to have been born in Michigan.

Michigan has over 11,500 lakes. In 1929, the police established the first state police radio system in the world. The 38th President, Gerald Ford, grew up in Michigan. So did Thomas Edison.
Last edited by LibertySparks on Thu May 02, 2013 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby freedomlover » Thu May 02, 2013 11:12 pm

New Jersey;
I grew up in a very small town where everybody knew everybody. It was flat, but mountainous in the west. Most of the population was concentrated by Philadelphia.
People there are not very active politically...
Nobody actually speaks in the stereotype "New Jersey accent."
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby IBelieveInYou » Thu May 02, 2013 11:31 pm

Aaah, Greece. The land of Aeschylus and Pericles, of Thucydides and Archimides, the land of souvlaki and Zorba...
Let's get this straight: things in Greece are not ideal. Far from that, actually. And i want to be honest: i feel little connection with my country. Actually, i feel sorry for it, i pity what has become of an once brilliant country.
The woes of Greece are her people. Honestly, you'll find many kind and genuine people, but you'll also find so many Thernadiers. We are full of selfish people who only think how to succeed themselves. We are unorganized, undetermined and terribly misguided. Greece is such a beautiful country with quite problematic people.
I feel so bad saying that, but i'm sorry, it's the way i feel. I find it very difficult to connect and cope with the way greeks think and act most of the time, and that usually makes me an alien.
Overall Greece is a beautiful country with sea and sun and nice food, awful economy as you probably know already and people who are deeply suffering from it, because believe me: many things are our fault, but not every poor old lady who now takes no money even to survive bares equal responsibility, nor the thousands of young people who struggle to find a job, in vain. Unfortunately most people in Greece suffer now, because less people decided to be Thernadiers a few years ago.
Greece has an amazing history and great names to provide, the language is quite fascinating and very difficult for a non native speaker to learn, or so i hear. I want to remember my ancient greek when i finish with the exams so that i can start read more of the classics.
As for the political situation... The land which gave birth to democracy... Well quite effed it up in the end, didn't it? It was a brave country which fought bravely against intruders, suffered deeply from fascism and nazism, fought brilliantly and heroically during WWII, suffered from a juda, yet seems to have forgotten all these, as now 12% of the citizens vote for a neonazist party.
Ah, dont let me get started.
Greece is a perfectly interesting place to visit. You should, i'm sure of it. And i love my country. I just feel extremely disappointed by so many things. And i dont see the rest of my life taking place here.
Then I saw their trembling features warp and, gradually,
Their foreheads turn pale and dissolve in front of me,
And everyone, like a stream that flows into a sea,
Became completely lost in a dark immensity.

Victor Hugo, The Slope of Reverie

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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby SpiritOfDawn » Fri May 03, 2013 12:30 am

Interesting description of greece from the inside :-)
Sounds like the perfect cue for the german to chip in :-)

So where I'm from is actually much more difficult to answer than meets the eye - I could narrow it down to germany, but that's about it - but since I'm living there currently, let's talk about Munich.

From an outside point of view, Munich is probably often seen as "the most german city of germany" or at the very least - which is more befitting, actually "the heart of the folklore".

In germany itself, it's probably more diverse.

Munich is the capital of the state of Bavaria and the rest of Bavaria probably doesn't see Munich as a real part of Bavaria for a) all the non-bavarians which live there. It's actually hard to find a true bavarian here... and b) even though the rest of Bavaria is notoriously conservative (or what passes for conservative in Germany - I hate to say it's probably what passes for democrat in the US...), Munich is likewise notoriously left in voting (even though - again - what passes for left in Munich probably passes for conservative in the rest of germany)
Hence, the suspicion against it...

The rest of Germany usually has a fairly... let's say diverse view on Bavaria in general and Munich in particular. Partly it may have to do with the current strong economy in the area (BMW, Siemens, do I have to continue to explain how, as an engineer, I ended up here?), partly probably also with the bavarian tendency to view themselves as special and set apart from the rest of Germany.
Still, it's a nice place to live.


What I like about it is actually the attitude. Contrary to what I believed before moving here, Munich is very international and very much "live and let live", which works quite well for me.

Also, the parks and pubs. It's not exactly New York, but still it's by far the most expensive city to live in, so much of the social life of people occurs actually in public. People celebrate birthdays in pubs, not at home, because apartments are notoriously small. And as soon as the first sunbeams are out, everyone heads for the parks and the beergardens.
Walking through the city it seems very alive.

Another nice thing - the Isar (the river which flows through Munich). A park surrounds it through all of the city, and you can go swimming everywhere (as soon as it's become a bit warmer than now), and there is even a surfer's club, which practises at an artificial wave in the Isar somewhere in Englischer Garten. (And the next shore is - what? 600 km away?)

Also good: Location, location, location. There are so many lakes around the city, and the mountains are barely an hour's drive away.


Quirky habits... hmm...
I'm sure everyone has heard of the Octoberfest, right? ;-).
I've been there, of course, but I'd say it's like every other event: Fun with the right crowd, outright creepy with the wrong one.
I actually prefer the Nockherberg, which is a similar event but much smaller and in spring. You might say Octoberfest only for Munich people and with political comedy. (It's tradition that there is a long comedy show for that festival which makes hilarious fun of german and bavarian politics)

Of course Munich is big when it comes to beer. But one has to be careful. One of the beer brews that Munich (and Bavaria) is famous for is the "wheat beer". But careful: Order one in Munich, it's called "Weißbier" (so "white beer" - it also exists in dark form, which would have you order a "dark white beer"). Order one about 100 km north of munich, it's "Weizenbier" (so "wheat beer") again.
Go to Austria, it's also "wheat beer".
It's a highly disputed matter as to up until which town one is allowed or supposed to order that beer with which denomination...
Mix it up, order yourself the wrong type, and get yourself shouted at by local patriotists...

Sometimes it feels like a different country, really...
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri May 03, 2013 1:57 am

We're starting to celebrate our version of Oktoberfest here too.

I guess I could go on for pages about how the Philippines is so different from other countries in Southeast Asia. The succinct explanation would be three things: geography (we're a little isolated), Spanish colonization, and a love affair with the USA. But that's Philippine history. I'd prefer discussing genealogy or "Why An Asian Can Have a Hispanic Surname".

At some point during the Spanish colonization, the authorities decided that if anyone wanted to do business or be counted in the official census, they had to carry a Spanish last name. So someone compiled a whole register of surnames and disseminated it to the different towns/pueblos (as they were called then) throughout the country.

There were little blips and bugaboos with this though. One administrator was so lazy that he just tore off an entire page with all the surnames beginning with 'A' and sent it to one town. So everyone coming from there has a surname beginning with the letter A. Then there was the fact that at this time there were many Chinese traders and their families in the country, and Chinese surnames are distinctly monosyllabic. So some of these Chinese families chose to come up with multi-syllabic surnames such as Gokongwei and Cojuangco. There were also some surnames that came up simply because of intermarriages.

Many surnames such as Garcia, Santos, Cruz, or Perez are so common that they cannot readily be traced to one particular family or town. However the prominent clans (the future political oligarchs) more easily traced to their respective political bailiwicks. The oldest Chinese families still hail from Binondo, the historic Chinese quarter. The newcomers have settled in other towns deemed auspicious in terms of the local feng shui (there is a story there about dragons and geography). And then there are some families that never, ever took a Spanish surname; these are usually those who are still very connected to their indigenous roots.

As for yours truly, the story of her surname involves a 19th century Spanish friar's attempt to legitimize his own offspring. Apparently in the town where this happened this wasn't the only tale of this sort---it puts the recent sex scandals to shame actually.
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Prisoner 24653 » Fri May 03, 2013 4:21 am

Awesome topic idea! I've loved reading everyone's posts here. :D

I might've mentioned elsewhere on the board that I live in Hawaii. I've lived here all my life, and it's a lovely, lovely bunch of islands. There are 8 inhabited ones (though Niihau is essentially private property and you need special permission to go there), plus several to the northwest (stretching almost up to Alaska) that were named a Marine National Monument by President George W. Bush in 2006 to protect the many unique marine species and birds found there that don't live anywhere else in the world, so those islands and the surrounding ocean are accessible only to scientists studying the animals living there. We've got lots of native plants, birds, fish, and insects that are unique to Hawaii, ranging from birds with curved bills to drink nectar from flowers, to caterpillars that eat other insects. (Charles Darwin would have probably found tons of great stuff to write about if he'd visited here.)

Sadly, most of the native species are only found in the ever-shrinking rainforests and natural areas, and so Hawaii is known as the endangered species capitol of the world. Many species have sadly been pushed to extinction in the last 300 years or so due to habitat loss as well as competition with humans and introduced species. (Thus, it's very difficult to bring in animals and plants from other states and countries; bags are checked for animals, plants, and even seeds, pets are quarantined for a month or so, and some types of animals such as snakes aren't allowed at all unless the local zoo is bringing them in, in which case it would have to be just one male of the species so they won't breed and spread.)

I live on the island of Oahu -- not the biggest island, but certainly the most populous one, and the home of our state capitol Honolulu (of which Waikiki, the tourist district, is a major part). I live in a small town called Kaneohe (pronounced "Ka-neh-o-hey"), and it's a lovely place nestled between gorgeous green mountains and the ocean. There are lots of great hiking trails, beaches, and forest-y areas, as well as suburbs and shopping/business areas. It's kind of nice being on a different side of the island from the city, yet it's easy to get there (because the island is only about 40 miles across at its widest point), which is good since I go to school in the city. I've been to the islands of Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii ("The Big Island") as well; they're all wonderful, and I'd love to visit them again (and also see the other islands) sometime.

Politically... well, Hawaii has a bit of a complicated history that I'll probably get into in a future post. We were the 50th and most recent state to be added to the United States, and that happened in 1959. Our current governor is Neil Abercrombie, who previously served as one of our representatives in Congress. Hawaii has a reputation as a pretty liberal state which I think is somewhat exaggerated. It's true that we're very ethnically diverse and fairly progressive on many social issues, and we certainly elect a lot of Democrats, but once elected, they don't really make the progressive changes they promise when they're campaigning. They just uphold the status quo.

Our elected officials also tend not to spend money to fix problems until said problems have become enormous; thus, our roads and sewer systems are woefully deficient, our public education system is badly in need of reworking, and there's a large homeless population. Our economy is almost completely dependent on tourism and nearly all our food and supplies are imported from the US and other countries, which is a huge problem as fuel and shipping costs continue to go up. (Quite a change from just a couple hundred years ago, when the Hawaiian islands were completely self-sustaining and didn't need anything imported.)

People here generally aren't very politically involved, sadly. Our voter turnout tends to be among the lowest in the country because people don't see the point -- the incumbents nearly always get reelected (especially if they're Democrats), and with our state getting only two electoral votes, we don't get much say in presidential elections. Even if one of the major candidates happens to be from Hawaii, as has been the case for the past two national elections with President Obama.

There's also some controversy about Hawaii's status as part of the United States. Some people of Native Hawaiian ancestry resent our statehood because Hawaii had once been a sovereign nation, and the last Queen of Hawaii was illegally overthrown in 1893 in a coup by a group of American businessmen (who had previously forced the King under threat of violence to sign a constitution stripping him of much of his authority and allowing only white property owners to vote). There's now a small but vocal sovereignty movement that wants Hawaii to separate completely from the United States and become an independent nation again. Most people, even the majority of Native Hawaiians, don't want to go that far, but there's wide support for more rights for Native Hawaiians since currently, they don't have the same recognition and relative sovereignty that Native Americans and Alaskans get. Sadly, the bills that would have done that (championed by our former Senator Daniel Akaka) haven't managed to make much headway in Congress since first being proposed in 2000. However, in 1993, President Clinton signed a resolution apologizing for the overthrow that happened a hundred years prior. Again, I'll get more into the history in a later post. :D

For interesting cultural things, the first thing to understand is that Hawaii is a mishmash of cultures. For a bunch of tiny islands with a relatively small population, we are incredibly culturally diverse, since people come in from all over the world either to visit or to stay. There's a particularly large Asian population (mainly Japanese, but also many people from China, Korea, the Philippines, and other countries). As a result, celebrations like Chinese New Year and the Japanese Obon festival (honoring the spirits of the dead) are pretty huge here. Different ethnic groups tend to gravitate towards different parts of the islands, so depending where you go, you might see a wide range of cultural practices. Also, it's generally considered bad luck to take stones from volcanic areas. Most people don't believe in the ancient Hawaiian religion, but they still don't want to take the chance of angering Pele, the volcano goddess. Supposedly, the bad luck has afflicted some skeptical or unknowing tourists who took lava rocks, so yeah... best to just not do it, regardless of what you believe. :wink:

Hawaii also has the lowest white population of any state in the US. In fact, whites are a somewhat persecuted group here and are often referred to with the term "haole." (The term is sometimes used in a derogatory sense, but is usually just a descriptive term in the same way that "white" and "black" are -- generally, it's only meant to be offensive if the sentence containing it is belittling, or if "haole" is preceded by the f-word.) Wikipedia's article on the term has a good rundown of its possible meanings and origins.

To clear up some misconceptions people might have due to popular media portrayals of Hawaii, though:
* Only tourists wear really loud aloha shirts. Locals may wear aloha shirts with more subdued colors at work (since they're more comfortable than suits and ties in our hot, humid weather). Generally, though, people tend to wear t-shirts and shorts when they're not on the job (or even if they are, sometimes).
* Grass skirts and coconut bras were not traditional Hawaiian attire. Chiefs wore helmets and cloaks made of red and yellow feathers (from our colorful native bird species); their outfits can be seen on the Wikipedia page for "Ancient Hawaii." Most other people (men and women) wore loincloths and nothing else.
* A hula dance you see in movies or TV shows (or in most restaurants and clubs in Waikiki) probably isn't traditional. Before the arrival of Europeans, hula was only done by men. In most cases, if you see something done in Waikiki, it's not really what the ancient Hawaiians did. The Polynesian Cultural Center is somewhat better, but inaccuracies still abound.
* Not everyone who lives here is Hawaiian. Just as most people who live in the US aren't considered Native Americans, most people who live in Hawaii aren't Native Hawaiians. Only a tiny minority of people here even speak Hawaiian (and I'm not one of them, sadly, though I know a few words and phrases).
* Not everyone in Hawaii surfs. I don't know how to surf, though I'd like to learn.
* It's not sunny here all the time. Or even most of the time, really; depending which islands/areas you visit and what time of year you come, you may see a lot of rain.
* Luaus are not common outside of the touristy areas. The ancient Hawaiians *did* have luaus to mark special or important occasions, but these days, only people of Native Hawaiian descent who are celebrating special events tend to have them. Other folks have barbecues or other types of parties and don't call them "luaus."
* We do still have drugs, crime, poverty, and other social problems here. On the other hand, we don't have anywhere near the level of violence, gangs, and international terrorism you'd see on Hawaii Five-O.

Anyway, hope you all enjoyed a little slice of "paradise" here! If you have any questions, feel free to post, or PM me. And I'll post a bit (or more) about Hawaii's history soon. :mrgreen:
Last edited by Prisoner 24653 on Fri May 03, 2013 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri May 03, 2013 7:47 am

Fascinating! I loved reading about the media portrayals vs. reality bit; definitely makes one rethink the movies. :mrgreen:
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Acaila » Fri May 03, 2013 10:37 am

Yes, I rather do like that bit as well. Tempted by one for Scotland, though we play up our stereotypes for amusement a lot :D

Since some people touched on politics, and I know people in the past haven't quite got the definitions, I thought I might do something about what Scotland *is*.

So, I'm Scottish and identify as such, but I'm also British and that's what my passport says. Confused?

Scotland is a part of the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", aka the UK. *Not* England, and while people do in practice get away with saying "Great Britain", you might not want to do it in hearing of any Northern Irish people (who often don't call themselves Northern Irish, but that's a whole other issue!).

As for some definitions:
- Great Britain is just the biggest island. So that's mainland Scotland, mainland England and mainland Wales, nothing else.
- The British Isles are all of the islands in our group. So that's Great Britain, the island of Ireland, and all the fiddly little bits like the various Scottish island groups, the Isle of Man (a crown dependency), and the Channel Islands (also crown dependencies).
- The United Kingdom is the four nations of Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

So Scotland is a part of all three of those, two of which are geographical distinctions and the other of which is political.

Scotland was an independent country up until 1707, though it shared a monarchy with England (which included the conquered Wales) from 1603. In 1603, Queen Elizabeth of England did her virgin queen thing and died without heirs, and her nearest relative was the King of Scotland, James the 6th, so they invited him down to become James the 1st of England. (Amusingly, I caught myself typing "Queen Elizabeth the 1st" there. The current UK Queen is known as Elizabeth the 2nd, but that's a rather sore point if you ask some in Scotland, since we never had an Elizabeth the 1st. I've heard of some people who went so far as to scratch out the "2" on postboxes and the like, since that sort of cultural imperialism I guess annoys people once they put the effort into thinking about it.)

In 1707, the two countries joined together to form the United Kingdom, with a single parliament in London. There is a lot that can be argued about the reasons for this decision, but they're probably a bit lengthy for this post. Despite this, Scotland retained its own independent legal system, education system, religious institutions, currency in a way, and various other things. Culturally, it retained a lot of its differences, despite attempts at stamping out various expressions of Scottish culture in the wake of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. So there is a very strong Scottish identity, with the infrastructure to back it up, that 300 years of union has not eroded.

A "Home Rule" movement has been going for a very long time, that is, a wish that Scotland should govern itself. Scottish nationalism grew during the 20th century, gaining pace in the 60s and 70s, with a failed devolution referendum in 1979 where a majority of voters supported a devolved Scottish parliament, but were then told that a majority of the *population* had to vote for it. I'm sure you all know that that's a lot more difficult to achieve. Indignation over that result, in addition to a growing awareness of the socio-political and cultural differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK, led to very vocal cross-party and non-party calls for Home Rule, or devolution as it came to be commonly called.

In 1997, the winning party in the UK General Election had included in their campaign the policy of setting up a Scottish Parliament. A referendum was held so that Scots could vote on whether they wanted one and what sort of powers it should have. An overwhelming majority voted in favour, and Scotland got a parliament again in 1999.

The Scottish Parliament, which is based in Edinburgh, handles most legislation affecting Scotland. Some issues, such as defence, employment and welfare, foreign policy, are still handled by the UK government. The Scottish parliament handles the rest, which includes things like education, healthcare, law, public services, local governments, environmental policy, cultural policy and generally home affairs. Tax is a weird one - the Scottish parliament has some national tax powers, though they never use them, others are still run from the UK Parliament. Plus there are also regional taxes set by local government, so it's a bit of a mixture.

The Scottish parliament is very different in character to the UK parliament. It has a different electoral system for one thing, but more importantly it reflects the different political character of Scotland in comparison to the rest of the UK. The parties are mostly, though not always, either the same or Scottish versions of the ones you will see in the UK Parliament, but the relative prominence of each is very different.

Right now, the governing party in Scotland is the Scottish National Party. Their big aim is a fully independent Scotland, and as such, they've arranged for a referendum on Scottish independence next year. So Scotland could, very soon, become an independent country again and render most of what I've just written irrelevant :roll: :lol:
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Fri May 03, 2013 10:50 am

That clears up a lot of my confusion; I'm only vaguely familiar with some aspects of Irish politics (and even that courtesy of rant from an ami of mine who is part-Irish and was asked by a well-meaning soul if she was English....)

For political questions about the Philippines, just ask. I'm not sure how to explain it all in one post without defaming nearly half of historical figures.
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Acaila
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Re: Around the World for Abaisse

Postby Acaila » Fri May 03, 2013 11:10 am

Hehe yeah, I can imagine that wouldn't have made the person asking very popular :D
I tend to get mistaken for Irish when I visit America I've found, that's a lot less offensive!

Likewise, if anyone has any questions on Scotland, do just say the word. I don't think there's any Scottish politicians who are really interesting enough to warrant much discussion. I mean, they're fine, a reasonably inoffensive group, but they're not amazingly noteworthy for the most part. But I can talk about the parties, important issues etc. quite happily. Otherwise I'll just throw in some other posts as and when various ideas occur to me :D
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"


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