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Dress & Clothing,
Vices & Public Mores. including
the United States, life here is slow, calm and quaint.
and towns are compact, almost but not quite as compact as European cities. No
strip malls, "big box" chain-stores, or giant
beltway developments. No hour-long
commutes or huge parking lots. This is not a
society built around the automobile. So distances are
Sizes are smaller too. America,
capitalism and modernism all extol hugeness, and
grandiosity is a virtue. Everything in the US is
"super-sized;" the smallest sized drink is now
"medium," insinuating that "small" is
bad. Houses, public facades, signs, cars,
tractor-trailer trucks, restaurant portions-- all these things are smaller in
Bergonia. Everything is done on a smaller,
"shorter" scale, slightly darker, slightly more
intimate, more slowly, with more cadence, a little
more graceful, greener, more attention to texture and
explicitly value simplicity,
and things are simpler (or at least supposed to be). Every product design is assessed on the basis
of its ease of use, with a minimum of steps. Simplicity in
Bergonia a little more minimalist, with more solid colors, a
somber feel, a propensity for understatement, a striving for
muted elegance. There is flash (especially in the
flashier coastal cities of Glen, Cationi
and Santanier, and at
festivals & holidays), but not much trash.
value old things and tolerate aging things. They do
not like to tear down buildings, and cutting down
trees (this is a somewhat arid country) disturbs them.
Buildings centuries old still stand, refitted for
electricity, plumbing, furnaces and
telecommunications. They put up with aging, slightly dilapidated
appearances. They let their grass grow longer and they
don't always trim their shrubs. There are few
formal gardens here; instead gardens tend to be
This is not a "consumer" society, but rather
one with craftsmen's values. "Consumer,"
to a Bergonian, brings up the image of a force-fed
goose. Bergonians of all classes will buy --
producing a huge market for-- handmade furniture,
furnishings (e.g. ceramics, glass, metal craft) and jewelry. Even
families save up to buy a few beautiful, durable items, rather than
quantities of breakable plastic and particleboard.
Good stuff gets handed down from one generation to
another. Standardization is accepted not as an ideal, but a necessary
evil, always to be regarded as a sacrifice of quality to
achieve necessary efficiency in mass production.
Standardization, therefore, is appropriate to the production
of toothpaste, gasoline, milk and electronics, but in areas
where mass production is not necessary, as in furniture,
rug-making and dining, standardization is not an ideal.
These people are much
interested in "being" or "experiencing," rather than
"doing" or "getting" & "having." (One
ancient Berg school of thought understood human & animal
life in terms of how time is spent, and then described
styles or "routines" of life based on verb-based categories
like "being" and "eating" and "having.")
polite society: Terms like
"Mister" are still used and expected. People are indirect.
People value the subtle point, the sarcastic jab and the clever ruse, rather than
direct, in-your-face confrontation. They are no
strangers to tact. But you're likely to hear a Bergonian's true opinion. Keeping silent in order to
avoid the unpleasantness of disagreement is not a Bergonian
trait. They have a great deal of tact, but not so much
as to become repressed-- a Bergonian will sooner or later
likely tell you exactly what he thinks of you.
albeit with pleasant wit and polite calm.
Libertarian and Lawful: This is a society that respects the law, but
has relatively few laws (or at least tries to). It needs slightly fewer laws because the
prevailing culture of sociability & mutuality motivates people towards civility &
tolerance-- e.g. few Berg cities have anti-littering or
spitting ordinances because people do not litter or spit.
Likewise Bergonian councilors would never dream of enacting
anti-loitering ordinances-- loafing with friends on the
street is a fine art. A libertarian and a
People are less anxious,
and have fewer worries: The socialist
system frees the people from worry about licking the
employer's rear end, hassling with insurance and banks,
consumer rip-offs, retirement insecurity, and traffic jams.
What Americans mistake for admirable individualism & freedom
actually contributes to their own high levels of anxiety.
Consider that Bergonians do not (commonly) have to worry
about (a) shopping for insurance, (b) how their medicals
bills are going to get paid, (c) applying for and repaying bank
loans, (d) estate planning.
up to 90% of Bergonians need not pay income tax, and
do not even have to file a return. While socialist
theorists argue about the correctness of an individual
income tax, the majority opposes income taxation simply
because of the huge hassle it would cause, making
everyone more anxious. That in this country is reason
The Festival Spirit:
The usual correctness and constraint is not
constant, however, and from time to time they like to let go. At
seasonal festivals they dance wildly, sing and yell. In the
Catholic influenced areas there is Carnivale every
Shrove/Fat Tuesday, and also Halloween/Day of the Dead.
The whole country goes wild during the annual Festival of
Light, beginning on the Winter Solstice and lasting five
days (consuming Christmas).
Public flair: At
political rallies and ball games they chant, shout and stomp
their feet. In debates, on the stage and in bars they are
given to profuse stem-winding, dramatic flair, and
passionate exaggeration. It is even tolerated that
young men to go brawling sometimes, again with the sense of
keeping certain limits (e.g. no weapons except sticks, kind
of a latter-day homage to the ancient
banda sport of
Most of the time Bergonians dress in plain colors and simple
styles, but on the right occasion they will get colorful and
loud. Then they put away their New York -style dark
colors and break out the tropical reds, yellows & bright greens.
They follow the unspoken division between the time for calm
regularity and the time for loud drama.
Stereotypes of Bergonians-- Good
and bad: Bergonians are sometimes faulted for being
slow, slothful, lacking in ambition. They are
sometimes faulted for being punctilious, formal, stiff and
cold, or unpredictable, changeable and even manic-depressive
or "schizoid/split personality" and more recently
"bipolar." They are sometimes caricaturized as being
crafty, duplicitous, false-faced, sneaky and devious. They are
a "people who wear masks." Many of them will admit
to this last charge.
Declaration of sustainable urban development.
Birth to Death in Bergonia:
& old age
Things you won't find in Bergonia:
Microsoft -- most
computers now operate on Linux-derived, open-source software,
which of course is free to the public. Microsoft was
kicked out of Bergonia for good in 1990. The gov.
subsidizes free open-source software development at a
fraction of the cost that Microsoft imposes on the public in
capitalist countries for its monopoly of proprietary
The Endless Cascade of Advertising
-- U.S. infant children are exposed, numerous studies
have shown, to hundreds of thousands of commercial messages
before they can cognitively distinguish them from truth. In
Berg, preschoolers are explicitly taught the difference of an
advertisement from all other kinds of media "messages. In
Berg, television advertising is usually limited to 8 minutes
an hour, compared to 22 in the U.S.
-- well, at least not the humongous, towering American
variety that blight both urban and rural landscapes, but
small ones solely to alert motorists to inns, gas stations
& other retail chains -- Bergonians value their small businesses & urban
streetscapes. There are a few large retailers, and
more like old-fashion department stores in city-centers.
Moreover, no chains like McDonalds-- since there is no value
in military-style standardization of life.
homes -- usually ugly, fire-prone, depreciating
rapidly, and not needed in a country with stable
-- steel monsters used to indulge egos by assaulting the environment.
solicitations -- flat-out prohibited, because people's
peace and quiet come over the interests of
-- In this egalitarian society, it is
loathsome that taxpayer money goes to building luxuries for
the rich, but American taxpayers are suckers.
Class or Business Class-- c'mon, in a properly socialist
nation, everyone rides
coach, even members to congress, but coach seats on the Bergonian Stratos class of airliners offer at least 39" of seat
pitch (leg room), by far the most of any airline in
the world. Even the president has been know to
take short trips on commercial flights.
many damned salesmen -- Ancient Egypt had locusts
that came swarming to devour the produce of the land-- the U.S.
has to suffer plagues of salesmen. Thus the prices of many commodities
are grossly inflated by sales commissions. Not here.
many damned insurance agents, adjusters and bureaucrats--
the U.S. both "Liabilitiphobia" plus government requirements
stampede individuals and companies buy insurance with no
controls over the insurance industry
During the 1700's those atrei
who were traders, bankers, capitalists, and professionals
adopted European dress. In the 1800's the emerging
bourgeoisie, including the atrei bourgeoisie, and nearly
all Christians of all social classes, wore European dress.
Many employers made their employees wear European pants, shirts
and boots. One rarely saw native formal men's dress,
which consisted of tunic, long overcoat and kilt
on the city streets. But peasant and poor workers continued
wearing the centuries-old native baggy cotton pants which could
be rolled up into shorts, the loose front-buttoned cotton tunic,
and pullover wool sweater.
An atrei woman casually wore
harem pants and matching blouse underneath a long jacket, all
made of cotton or linen.
For dress-up formal occasions she usually resorted to the simple
("ill-lay'-ah," Nac.), a long gown tailored at the waist and
often wrapped with a sash that matched the woman's ubiquitous
scarf. The atrei gowns were classically of a single subdued color
or pattern, but the sashes and scarves she wore were typically elaborate,
colored brilliantly, employed to attract attention and express
personality. Another look puts a plain scarf and sash in contrast with a brilliant
multi-colored gown. Bourgeoisie women have always dressed in western styles, but those who
practiced the Miradi faith reverted to native clothing when they
visited their temples for rites or prayer.
During the revolutionary fervor of the
1920's and 30's. when atrei resentment against European
culture climaxed, millions of Bergonian men reverted to the native
traditional baggy pants and tunics underneath long loose jackets.
But in the 1940s people switched back to the convenience of western
clothing. Now people uniformly worn western-style clothing on
the job or on the street.
They often wear traditional clothing while at
home or on vacation,
to go to temple for rites, and to attend political events.
Women wear western-style dresses and suits, and now wear
pant-suits which incorporate atrei harem-style pants. Contemporary Bergonian fashion reinterprets
the ileia and other traditions, and women still often wear the ileia for
The classical Bergonian house
is made of brick, often covered with plaster. In the drier regions,
adobe is almost always used. Rooftops were of tile, usually red, sometimes dark-slate colored. Thatched
and wooden roofs were still common in the countryside up to the early 1900s.
Traditional houses almost always had courtyards, balconies, verandas and back
Modern houses are sometimes constructed of concrete forms
(as in Southern Europe), and sometimes with metal roofs. But still most new homes are built of brick and
crowned with tile. The
floor of the ground level is either brick, slate, stone
or tile, while stairs and upper level floors are made of finished wood,
sometimes with inlaid patterns. Interior walls are
sometimes of plaster or brick, but commonly of varnished wood planks, decoratively carved, with many built-in shelves and cabinets, as well as
smooth rectangular surfaces of polished, varnished wood.
colonial influence interested the atrei in ceramic tiles, including tiled
walls. Brightly painted tiles are preferred in any room where there is
water, the baths and the kitchens, as well as the atrium pools. Now the Bergonians, like the Portuguese, Italians & Turks, produce
beautiful painted tiles and ceramics.
On walls they hang tapestries
and quilts-- a
centuries-old practice-- often
with sentimental significance, and also framed paintings & prints.
Ideally the main
room of the house, called the chiatle
(nac.), the living room, enjoys light and air. For such rooms
they love big
windows, glass patio doors and doors opening onto verandahs, balconies,
atriums, courtyards or garden spaces. Even in apartments, the chiatle is the room
that enjoys the door onto the balcony, or the giant picture window.
ambience of their interiors tends toward dark and cozy. Wainscoting
is popular, using stained wood panels to add dark decor to a room. The
trim along the top of the wainscoting, and on the baseboards and headboards,
might be a fine wood well carved by a local artisan or machine-carved by a
small plant, usually with abstract flowing lines to accent the pattern in the
wood, or scrolling, curving, leafy or floral motifs. This carving has been a
distinctly Bergonian form of decor.
Reflecting Bergonian family style,
the bedrooms are small but the living areas are
large. If someone in the family wants to get away, instead of going to
their room, they're likely to go out on the street and hang out with neighbors
or go sit in the garden or on the balcony. In a live-and-let-live
society, one can find solitude without walls. It is not uncommon to see
corners or the chiatle segregated by a standing folded screen.
Traditional tastes favor simplicity, and disdains visual clutter.
Window coverings in particular are simple, with wooden or paper blinds or flat
curtains, perhaps decorated with a simple repeating pattern, with no ruffles
or lace whatsoever. If walls are not covered with wooden wainscoting or
trim, or with painted tile, then they are commonly plastered and decorated
with hanging paintings or tapestries. Wall paper was unknown before the
1800s, which was imported from European, and then rejected by traditionalists.
Wallpaper is now sometimes used on large surfaces, mainly in public or
commercial buildings, and then only in light colored, low contrast simple
patterns mainly geometrical or vegetative, and repetitive over the entire
surface, and never bawdy, dark, bright or complicated.
In upholstery, rugs and fabrics the traditional style favors solid colors
or simple graphic designs, sometimes in dark comforting hues, sometimes in
airy pastels, and sometimes in bold combinations.
The first European style to influence atrei Bergonians was Neo-Classicism
and Empire, then the Art Deco and Nouveau. The atrei were rather
repulsed by Victorian styles and comforted greatly with Edwardian simplicity.
The traditional style is often as spare as Western Modernism, but it likes
smallness, irregularity, clutter and cozy texture, and had as much to do with
village architecture as with any sort of cosmopolitanism, and so it could
never be as cold as the sleek urban metal of Modernism.
They have always preferred lamplight, rather than
overhead light. The Bergonians are unique in their fascination with
colored light. They will use bulbs of different color to light a large
room. They love neon light for commercial establishments, and they
string up colored lights in the marketplaces.
The art of colored stained glass is widespread with many
local practitioner, and nearly every new house has at least either stained
glass or beveled window trim. When Europeans in the 1500s felt their
superiority in many areas of technology over the Bergonians, they immediately
recognized their inferiority in the manufacture, craft and art of glass, both
blown and sheet. To the present day the Bergonians love glass in all its
forms and are the most adroit of all the peoples of the world in its
The nighttime lighting in Bergonia is the dimmest of any
nation on earth, with a preference for indirect beams and generous shadows.
In this respect the specter of crime has never bothered Bergonians much so
they feel no paranoid need to light their exteriors excessively at night. This
conservative use of nighttime light conserves energy and allows more people to
see the night stars.
Bergonia has limited natural gas deposits, so most Bergonian homes depend
entirely on electricity for heating, cooking and hot water. Many
kitchens have special stovetop units that burn gas bought in bottles.
This is how greatly Bergonians value an open flame in cooking. Before
1950 people relied on wood fireplaces and furnaces, and coal stoves. But
wood timbering resulted deforestation, and coal produced foul smoke. In the
post-revolutionary period the country embarked upon a rapid program of large
coal-burning electric plants and hydroelectric projects to allow the
electrification of the Bergonian home. After the Harmony Party's first
victories in the 1970s, the national government promoted solar home heating
application, but these efforts stalled for 20 years until the technology
improved. Now it is estimated that approximately 54% of the nation's
total hot water consumption came from on-site solar units, involving rooftop
panels, that work in conjunction with conventional electric water heaters.
People don't move around
from place to place like Americans
("grasshoppers"). When children move out to get their own
places, they typically stay in the neighborhood, within walking distance, an
often even getting an apartment in the same building or a place on the same
block. If they do move out of town to take a job, they often still regard their
family homestead as their real home. They'll return there when older, and even
sometimes send their children to live with relatives and go to school
there. When mom and dad have finally both died, one of the children
usually moves his family into their house or apartment, keeping the old place in the family,
all in accordance with the indefinite nature of socialist leases. Values of the big old family and place
still dominate here. This is not a society of internal immigrants.
No Bergonian can say that their nation enjoys a
higher standard of living than North America, East Asia or Europe, if that is calculated in the number and variety
of televisions, electronics, kitchen gadgets and internal combustion
machinery that one owns. While televisions, stereos, DVD players,
cameras, hand-held devices and other media machinery are only a little
here than in the U.S., Bergonians do pay considerably more for consumer
goods that Americans do, because they buy a smaller number of better, more
durably made items. Compared to Americans, people buy fewer items,
better made, and keep them for longer. This is especially true of
furniture, toys, clothing, and tools. Even poorer families have nice pieces of wooden furniture (beds, cabinets
and tables), often
handed down over several generations. Parents often buy furniture for their
young adult children, and every newly married couple searches the stores
for the right bed frame. Poorer people will often buy used (hence cheaper)
pieces of good furniture, rather than poorly made new crap. This is a
society of craftsmen, and a society of people who value handmade, artistic
items. One finds a huge quantity of "arts and crafts" in
Bergonian shops, partially taking the place of the mass produced plastic
products ubiquitous in western nations.
Bergonians first experimented with cable
television in the
early 1950s and began aggressively extending cable into people's homes
in the 1960's. The national government allocated a great deal of
money every year for infrastructure improvements (out of the capital
improvements section of the budget), so that in the 1990s the system was completely rebuilt,
employing digitalization, fiber optics, and integration with telephone and
internet service. New wireless systems
integrate the TV and computers.
Cable service is expensive compared to many places
countries-- the equivalent of about $85 a month for everyone, but basic
Cable internet service, including equipment, for
towns & cities. Satellite service for rural areas.
Software & ability to download music &
video, and watch movies on demand, for modest fees automatically charged
to the account.
Over 1000 channels (not counting multiple-language
versions of the same channel). The system vigorously
tried to increase customer customizing their channel selection as
far as possible, in order to provide discounts. The ideal system
would allow each consumer to list the
individual channels they wanted, and then be charged accordingly, on an a
la carte basis. But the new policy concludes that it would be
cheaper, and worth in terms of less bother to everyone, to just
let everyone get all the channels & capacity for programming their
hardware allows, and charging service based on hardware.
Since cable is expensive, often the
neighborhood or the collective buys the signal from a
community-owned dish, or off a trunk cable, with feeders going into
Since the very beginning televisions sales have
carried a hefty
"programming tax"-- around 25%-- that goes to the National
which is then allocated to the various networks.
With the multiple sources of
income, Bergonian television features
commercials. Freedom of the Press protects political and
artistic speech, but not commercial speech, since Bergonian socialism
contends that commercial speech is, by the very nature of its purpose and
intent, inherently dangerous, since without regulation it inevitably
descends into fraud and . The law limits commercial advertising to
basic retail items, so one sees a lot of ads for food and household
products, and also for automobiles, lines of tools, . Advertising
in Bergonia is not permitted for pharmaceuticals, medical services,
legal services, tobacco, or guns, except in trade materials.
The major networks transmit their programming
on six channels, one for each of the six major
linguistic groups. All popular programs are dubbed or
subtitled into the other languages. Nearly everything gets
translated into Nacateca, Minidun, French & English. Most things
get dubbed or subtitled into Portuguese, since Portugal & Brazil
& Portuguese-speaking Africa provide a market, but the Pasan, for their smaller numbers, are made to
suffer. A popular device in Bergonian shows and movies to have
characters speaking two different languages. A handful of shows are
shot twice, each time in a different language.
networks, each with one main channel (replicated six times for
each of the main languages dubbed), descended from the days
of broadcast television, on which they run their premiere shows, and each
runs a family of targeted cable stations. They sponsor production of
original shows and movies. They are:
BGG, the Minidun initials for Home Theater Network,
a big producer of soap operas, sitcoms and quiz shows, and some very well
produced domestic crime and drama shows, headquartered in Ceiolai, but
with fine production facilities in Santanier in Incuatati.
Two thirds of its original programming is in the Minidun language, one
third in Nacateca.
the Nacateca initials for Arts, Entertainment & Education. In Nacateca
copele means jackrabbit, and so the jackrabbit has become CPL's
mascot & symbol. This network competes with BGG for the
"lowbrow" market, and seems to specialize in imported American
comedies, well as the popular well-produced domestic crime and drama
shows. Also headquartered in Ceiolai.
Siravision, a name derived from
the Nacateca Sirai,
the mythical "eye in the sky," associated with the ancient
Goddess Okuresha, goddess of the birds, and she is its mascot &
symbol. A big producer of original dramas & movies, and
supposedly the "highbrow" alternative, but also has
produced its share of crummy quiz shows. Headquartered in Lefitoni.
Two thirds its programming is Nacateca and one third Minidun.
the Atlantic Broadcast Cooperative produces a significant amount of programming
in the European languages, but has been known to broadcast Star Wars
in prime-time dubbed in atrei languages. Headquartered in Glen, with studios in
Each network is supervised by a council composed of public
interest reps, the syndicates of actors and artists, and the representatives of the
technical workers. In large, complex organizations like these, there is a larger council of 50-60 members, and an "inner council" of 10-17. The networks are
organized as federations, so all the member artists, technicians and other
workers and the member organizations elect representatives to an assembly
and a management council.
The networks logically and
appropriately sponsor the production of a wide range of programs, from the lofty and highbrow to
the trashy and scandalous. Each network produces primetime dramas
and comedies, soap operas, quiz shows & children's shows. Inane quiz shows are
as popular here as anywhere else, including a few more high-brow trivia shows like
College Bowl & Jeopardy. The Bergonians love their soap
operas, and obsess over them as much as any other nation. Many soap operas
portray characters in other
historical eras. Most shows are produced by independent studios
who belong to the network federation.
The three entertainment networks do not have news
divisions at all, and so no one has to worry about irrelevant
commercial considerations from interfering with the news. Instead there are two
all-news networks, operated by the two news services, at the
beck and call of no commercial or government interest. The assignment of
bandwidth is assured, and the flow of income is also assured, as a
matter of a mandated share of cable fees, plus some commercial
advertising, limited to 8 minutes a month.
The National News Network, or
"3N," is analogous to the BBC in Britain, originally
chartered by Congress in 1944, and funded directly by Congress, but free
of any government supervision. This is the network with the
prestigious talk shows analogous to Meet the Press (NBC) where all
the major figures come for interviews. This network is heavy on
analysis, and all the political parties select representatives to
espouse their views on editorial segments. speeches are shown in their entirety without "soundbite" editing. "3N," like nearly
everything else, is run by an assembly of worker reps, including the
newscasters, journalists, cameramen and technical people, and an
executive council of worker reps and public interest representatives.
Atlantic Journalists Federation conglomerates
the reporters and journalists who work with
local newspapers, magazines & radio & television channels into
one big functioning network, more analogous to if Associated Press in
the U.S. tried to run an all-news television station. This is the
"ticker network," with the story swiftly coming from the
affected locale, includes a lot of locally produced stories. AJF has
also carved out a strong niche in economic news, and has become the
preferred network for all banks, brokerage houses, commodity markets and
All the national sports federations have combined
to produce the Sports
Network Cooperative, with numerous channels. It is now possible for
a fan to hear a live broadcast of every pro sports game anywhere in the
country, thanks to the newly integrated network of cable and Internet
broadband. Baseball, American football ("spearball") and soccer the most
popular sports. Tennis, cycling, motorcycle racing, basketball are also
There are also music
channels, some with endless videos, concerts and
interview shows, others just audio feed. These are chartered by
the national federation of musicians and its many subdivisions. So
of course there is:
Foreign genres and foreign genres adopted by
Bergonian artists: European classical, European
opera, jazz, Afropop, salsa & related Latin sounds, old rumba,
blues, American-style rock, American & European pop, Electronica &
dance, Ambient (incl. "new age"),
Native genres: Locomotive (heavy counter-point percussion, and hard-edged guitars, made for dancing), Malrecana, Seraca,
Pish-Pish, numerous species of Bergonian folk & country and festival music, Bergonian
There are approximately 80 movie channels, many of which are funded by the cinema
federations, including the very prolific native movie industry (some of
which is real grade-B crime and historical drama, ancient-banda battle
and war movies, and comedies), plus
plenty of Hollywood plus European and other international fare.
There are 8 fine arts
channels, with symphonies, ballets, theatrical presentations, and also
poetry readings. Shakespeare has been competently translated into
all the Bergonian languages. Poetry is still popular in Bergonia,
whereas it is dying in other industrial countries, and there are
a number of poetry reading programs.
Bunches of lifestyle
and technology channels. Martha Stewart is even syndicated here.
To understand what's popular here, view the contents on the rest of this
page, e.g. "Recreation" below.
There is also no lack of religious
Catholic Church alone sponsors seven channels, including
dramatic programs, while there are
19 Miradi channels, including several
stations concerning meditation and prayer technique, and other healthful
practices like yoga & Tai Chi. Two of the most watched
channels are the "prayer channels," one Miradi and the other
Catholic, which features around-the-clock perpetual prayer. The
Catholic network features people reciting the rosary live from the great Cathedral in Comleta, and also reading intercessional prayers. The
network includes a channel with nothing more than constant chanting of standard prayers by worshippers at
the Ser-Alei center in Chambolet.
Another Miradi channel offers an around-the-clock live camera view
of Ishloron, the pretty little waterfall where the prophet Krathnami often
sat and prayed-- nothing more than a constant live picture of a single scene.
The religious networks feature plenty of services, preaching, roundtable
discussion, documentaries and music. Miradi channels also present dramatic
presentations of the ancient pre-Miradi myths of the Gods and the lives of the saints.
channels feature the best minds in the country--scientists,
authors, artists, academicians-- lecturing and debating. All universities and colleges rely upon these channels to augment their curricula.
There are also a lot of basic university level material, and also cutting
edge science and research. When scientists and academicians publish new articles in the journals,
they are often invited onto the academic channels to present their papers,
and anyone in the country can watch. These channels include
everything from calculuc, physics & higher mathematics to psychology &
anthropology. Notable scientists & academicians who visit
Bergonia from other countries can always pick up a few extra dollars by
giving a lecture or interview on one of these channels. 14 of these
20 channels are produced in English or French, the world
languages, with very careful translation into the other languages.
Frequencies and channels are allotted to local communities,
affording the country a wealth of county and
city level radio and
television cable channels,
allowing access for local politicians, artists, entertainers, citizen groups, and
schools. The idea is to promote the localization of both the arts and political speech.
The political clubs, including the anarchists, get access to blocks of
radio & television time on these stations.
A bunch of interactive
channels are tied into internet connections. These include
instant voting TV shows, with votes guiding everything from popularity
contests, song selections by live bands to plot twists in improvisional
drama, plus group gaming and other experimental stuff. A number of
political clubs and organizations have used the interactive channels to
open their meetings and conventions up to a wider membership who can sit
at home, watch the proceedings on TV, and vote on motions and
resolutions on the internet connection, as have large professional
organizations like teachers & lawyers.
Bergnet, the Internet, and
Bergonians have developed their own version of the
personal household or business computer, operated with a version of Linux
that provides a graphic interface similar to Windows that is far more
stable and user-friendly, with. Nearly all Bergonian computers run on customized versions of Linux, since Linux's open source is so compatible with
Bergonian cooperativism, and its prejudice against market domination by
proprietary copyright. Linux is taught in public schools.
Microsoft once obtained licensing agreements for sale of its early
DOS-based products in Bergonia, and it appeared that Microsoft would
become a considerable presence in the emerging computer field. However,
Microsoft's aggressive suppression of competition and its insistence on
"tying" agreements constituted massive unfair trade practices that the
regulatory authorities in the U.S., Europe and other capitalist-pawn
governments alarmed Bergonia's technical community. No Bergonian "geek
collective" liked the idea of building their products on a proprietary
foundation that entailed extortionate license fees. Moreover the
Bergonian technical community was alarmed by the instability and
unreliability of the early versions of Windows. Then, in 1998 the
Commonwealth Technology and Internet Council promulgated a regulation
requiring all computer manufacturers to offer choices in operating
systems, designed to break Microsoft's emerging monopoly. Bill Gates
himself refused an invitation to come to Lefitoni to discuss the issue,
and Microsoft told all non-Bergonian manufacturers that they could no
longer sell their units in Bergonia, threatening litigation in American
courts. But in a momentous decision the Nat'l Communications Council voted
to refuse Microsoft the right to market Windows 2000 in Bergonia
altogether, citing "product inferiority" and "a pattern of unfair trade
practices motivated by desire to create a private monopoly." Now, happily,
Microsoft does not exist in Bergonia.
A sizeable minority of computers are Apples, however.
Virtually all personal computers in Bergonia now are
laptops, even those than never leave a worker's desk. The touchpad
has replaced the mouse. Personal
computers are most frequently laptops that can be
easily hooked into the TV for interactivity, and that permit
separation of the monitor from the base. A person can sit with the
base of their laptop on, well, their lap and use the TV as the monitor, a
much more satisfying experience in playing games and watching
Telberg offers a range of internet access options &
methods, with plans in a number of cities to provide a blanket of wireless
internet access. DSL has been the preferred way of connectivity,
though cable and other options exist as well. There is a separate
Bergonian internet called Bergnet, free of spyware,
adware, most viruses, and also free of aggressive porn, pop-ups and other
obnoxious forms of advertising. It is altogether immune from
intrusion from the Internet, although Bergonians can also access the big dirty Internet through it.
Bergonians have complete liberty to put up whatever
sort of Bergnet or Internet postings they may please, providing that they do not "(a)
contain fraudulent statements in the solicitation of money, things of
value, services or membership, (b) materially further unfair trade in
Bergonia or with Bergonian citizens and entities, or (c) explicitly
advocate or promote hatred of any named racial, ethnic, religious or
sexual group." while there is no prohibition of pornography,
it is all herded into an isolated designated "x" domain.
Bergonians recognize the need for advertising as a
legitimate of informing the public of product availability, and also as a
legitimate way of stimulating commerce. But they regard it as a danger that requires control. Electronic media will
necessarily convey values, and if a society is not careful it will end up
letting money dictate values. McLuan was wrong when he said that "the media
is the message"-- instead the nature of the message made a difference
in the values and behavior of the subjects. Advertising (also legitimately called
"commercial propaganda" in Bergonia) is a potent synthesis of psychology and technology. We
have seen in Nazi Germany, Rwanda & Serbia how controlled media can whip up ethnic
hatred and murderous frenzy in no time. We have also seen how, over the course of 50
years, mass advertising has radically shaped fundamental perspectives in
the capitalist world. We have seen mass commercial propaganda
replace all sense of tradition, history & religion with
"commercial culture." we see this new culture
elevate materialism (greed), consumption (gluttony), and vanity (being cool)
as supreme values. In the U.S. we can see how mass media, in the hands of savvy fundamentalists, has totally shaped the face of Christian religion.
A sane society will want the media to convey desirable
content. Advertising, when it becomes ubiquitous, instills
down-right tacky values and reinforces bad drives. So advertising must be limited
to its legitimate purposes and nothing else. Advertising--like
everything else-- deserves to be proportionally limited according to its
legitimate function and the needs of the people, the society and the
culture as a whole. It is quite distinguishable from political,
artistic, academic and religious speech, that do deserve absolute
protection. The decisions by courts in the US extending free speech
protections to commercial speech is merely another enslavement of a
democratic value by the capitalist master. As a result the First Amendment has become capitalism's greatest ally in
the aggressive destruction of culture. In Bergonia, the government retains the
power to regulate the forums, style and quantity of commercial
propaganda. See Constitution Art. 5,
American apologists have boasted for decades that
advertising makes radio and television free. They chide countries
like the U.K., which charges the viewers fees to fund BBC
programming. But now Americans pay high charges for cable & internet access.
Inasmuch as advertising pays for programming production, advertisers
demand bland, non-controversial fare. In Bergonia
cable bills are
high, and various authorities (e.g. state governments)
subsidize networks, to insure that advertising is kept to a manageable
minimum. Huge blocks of television time are turned over to
groups that want it to project their artistic, religious or political
perspective-- so if they can pay to produce the programming, then they can
likely get it aired on one channel or another.
Yet there is still
advertising, consuming generally around eight minutes an hour on
both television and radio, largely for local service industries and
retailers, retail products, including soap suds, chewing gum and frozen
foods, and the travel industry, including resorts and hotels and
destinations. Clothing is advertised on TV here. There is no
private insurance, so no insurance ads, and no ads for lawyers, banks or
"financial services." The ministries and syndicates often run public
service and informational spots, but they must still pay for the time,
albeit at a reduced non-commercial rate.
A national advisory board exists that condemns (not bans) any advertisements which
portray "junk values." Another board hears complaints against
enterprises that advertise falsely, since all "false
statements" in advertising are illegal. There is a rule that
the government can preempt television, but in lieu of a disaster or other
bona fide emergency, the government must pay the prevailing commercial
rate for the time consumed.
Bergonians do not have billboards, save for the road
signs necessary to alert drivers to the next
restaurant and hotel ahead. These people would just rather look at
the scenery, free of the "capitalist visual field."
Bergonians are great runners,
hikers and cyclists (road,
racing, touring & mountain) who take advantage of the thousands of miles of public walkways and
paths and cycling lanes. Recreational sail boaters,
canoers and kayakers abound on the
many lakes & rivers and along the coasts. Martial arts,
including stick-fighting, are very popular, and
competition between clubs and leagues is fierce, with intense televised intercity
rivalries. Bowling is
suitable to dense urban life and so is popular as well.
In one very visible way the USA
has strongly influenced Bergonian life-- American baseball (Beisinei,
all languages) is
popular, as is American football,
commonly called Ishuanei
meaning "spear-ball-game" (Nac., also known as Pu-Nane,
Min.). A society that has rejected so much that is American
had ironically embraced the two uniquely American sports. In fact
the Bergonian year is nicely divided into beisinei-tafa and
ishuanei-tafa-- baseball season (March to September) and football
season (September to February). Every Friday night, during the
seasons, in every city, town and village people go to the local field to
watch the youth league play, teams of local teenage boys representing
their communities in spirited county league play. Of course the
youth league baseball teams play in the summer and the ishuanei
youth leagues play when the nights are long.
The two sports are organized quite similarly, with a national governing
body and an assembly accommodating player, team and other interests.
Both sports have a layer of leagues including:
(a) a national professional
league, consisting of Lesre or big-city teams commanding huge fan interest
(b) second-tier regional
professional leagues, with teams located in cities of 250,000 to 2 million
(c) "primary leagues" of local
young talent, generally young men under the age of 23-24.
(d) the many local and county
"youth leagues" for adolescents 18 and younger.
Professional teams are community-based-- no one in Bergonia every
thinks of a team as something "owned." They may fold, but they
never move from one city to another.
Ishuanei / Pu-nane -- American Football
History of Bergonian "Spearball": In the
decades before the Revolution a number of upper-class Bergonians attended
American colleges and brought back knowledge of collegiate football.
Bergonian academicians had no interest in sponsoring large sports
competitions, so the educated Bergonians who had an interest in the game
were compelled to organize private clubs. But working class folks who saw
the games immediately became consumed. It was at this time that the
two names Ishaueni and Pu-Nane became current. As the interest of the
upper-class fans became tainted by their parallel addictions in gambling,
they sought to develop bigger, stronger players, which commenced
recruiting among working class youth. In the 1920s the popularity of
the game was peaking, with state and regional leagues, betting and radio
broadcasts. However the violence of the Revolution and its attendant
civil war fighting arrested the development of Ishuanei. In the
post-revolutionary years the nation was concerned more with rebuilding,
and extravagances of any kind were not encouraged. Things changed
after 1942, with a decision of the National Health Council to encourage
competitive team sports, largely in response to a series of popular
petition groups by fans of various sports, including Ishuanei. This
resulted in investment in facilities, recruitment and training in Ishuanei,
martial arts and Olympic sports. The Bergonian Union of Ishuanei
Leagues was chartered in 1954 by the Council on Sports and Fitness.
The first large city football stadiums were built in the later 40s and
Government of Football: The
Oritle Ishuanei Teloc Uatlarin-- the National "Spearball"
Governance Federation-- took over all professional football and
instituted a new league organization in 1967, partially in imitation of
the consolidation of the NFL and AFL in the US and the beginning of the
Superbowl series. The OITU supervises all aspects of the sport.
In typical fashion it includes representatives of the players syndicate,
the coaches guild, the trainers and therapists guild, the various
sponsoring cities, and a body of player veterans and fans. Each team is
co-sponsored by a city or state or a conglomeration of local governments,
and a fan organization that sells memberships. Each team is governed
by a council that hires a coach. The OITU has a big role in funding
the teams and leagues, largely by handling national television,
merchandising and advertising. The OITU also maintains the schedules
for player pay and the players' and other workers' pensions.
Football Leagues and Teams:
Oritle Ishuanei Acorimai-- the National Football League--, is the nation's one major inter-city
football league that commands popular attention and television time. 20
teams are divided into 4 divisions, designated with no sense of accuracy
the "North," "East," "South" and "West" divisions. For post-season
play, the two best teams from each division (eight teams in all) are organized into tournament
play, culminating in the National Championship Game, also called the
Bowl, held every year in a different city.
Teams are as
often organized by states as by cities, and have fanciful names, mostly
with animal or fighting references: the Crisitoni Golden Stallions, the Glen Lightning
Storm, Serpei Unity, the Letlari Hornets, the Bunamota Raging Tigers, the
Piatalani Ancient Warriors (the insane fans wear ancient
banda warpaint), the Iarlotoi Cat
Pack (an incongruous name if ever there was one), the Varsca Falcons, the
Corifoi Flying Spears (it is spear ball, after all), the Alai Arsai Red
Fighters, and the Crisitoni Tanks.
Five regional leagues form a second tier of play, with 120 cities and
towns with teams. These teams operate not only to provide
entertainment for millions of fans in smaller locales, but to give careers
for good players with secondary talent.
Twelve "primary leagues" with 288 teams exist around the country.
Players must be over 18 and under 25, with a maximum of five years of
eligibility. The primary leagues develop player talent for the NFL
and the regional leagues. The parallel between these leagues and
America's collegiate football leagues is obvious. There are rules
that limit a team to recruiting players within its assigned geographic
territory or the immediately adjacent territories. There is only
limited inter-league play among primary teams.
Then there are youth leagues in every part of the country for
teenagers, with teams representing neighborhoods and small towns. As
in the U.S., autumn Friday nights are the time for youth football.
Beisinei -- American Baseball
Exactly how baseball came to Bergonia is obscure, but we know that Bergonian sailors, ship hands,
whalers, diplomats and traders were no strangers to New York, Boston and
other East Coast ports where some of them apparently
gained exposure to baseball. The most prominent example is that of John Prega Asguara, a
Bergonian consul in New York City and later a deputy ambassador in
Washington, who wrote a rapturous account of American baseball in an 1879 issue
of Soche-Ceiolai, one of the nation's leading newspapers.
After ambassador Asguara retired in 1893, he became the second commissioner of
baseball and died in 1909 at a baseball park of a heart attack only
moments after a ninth-inning three run homer hit by a batter with a .189
average on a "contemptuously thrown" fast ball.
The first inter-city play between standing teams occurred in 1885 with
a league formed in Bun-Amota and a second in Halemarec. Quite
opposite football, the earliest spread of baseball was in Minidun speaking
eastern Bergonia, and so most Bergonian baseball terminology was
originally in Minidun, but by 1902-- the year the National Baseball League
was organized-- there had evolved a unique Bergonian baseball lexology
common to all languages. "If Bergonians cannot all speak each
other's languages, we at least can all speak Beisinei," said Asguara's
son, Oscar, who himself became obsessed with the game. He bought the
formidable Glen Sharks in 1912 and personally managed it until the
Revolution. Some terms: iet = hit,
iasho = run, ieri,= error, bei
= base, bei-do = first base, bei-kano
= second base, bei-kir = third base, bei-osho
= home plate, pomo = score, pomiet
= home run.
The organization of Beisinei mirrors the organization of Ishuanei, from
top to bottom, with (a national major league, 6 minor "regional" leagues,
and 15 primary leagues for development of players under the age of 23.
There are also innumerable youth leagues.
The Oritle Beisinei Acorimai--
the National Baseball League-- is
the equivalent of Major League Baseball, with 20 teams. Like Ishuanei, there are
four divisions named for the cardinal directions. The four division
winners are paired to play two five game series, and the winners play in the
seven-game Dar-Chimet-- the Championship Series every
September. We are currently in the midst of a rather obnoxious
period in NBL-- seven of the last nine Championships have been won by two
teams, the Cationi Kestrels and the
There are lower-level regional leagues
arranged into two tiers, four "first floor" leagues with teams
situated in large towns, and two superior "second floor" leagues with
teams in mid-sized cities full of players hoping to play "upstairs" in the
NBL. The six regional leagues each have 20 teams, each team
affiliated with one of the 20 NBL teams for player development purposes.
Managers of NBL teams can call up players and send them back down, and
dependable second floor stars may make many temporary visits to the NBL.
Lateral player trades can be made only with player consent, but often
players know that they can be easily sent back down to the minors and find
this enough incentive to agree most of the time. Regional teams can
more easily let go players than NBL teams, and dismissals can sometimes be
a decision by fellow team players. The general result is that
players often stick with their teams for years, and usually remain
affiliated with the same NBL teams for their entire careers.
It is not necessary for players to play in the primary leagues before
getting into the regionals or the NBL, but most do. Both the primary
and the regional leagues have player-tryouts. A player released from one
team can often get on with another, even on a temporary basis until he can
prove himself. After a new player is accepted as a "permanent
status" player on its team (a most inaccurate label), he acquires voting
privileges and an income share. The young beisinei player often
leads a yeoman life, until he becomes an accepted professional.
Rules are almost identical to U.S. Major League Baseball rules and the
rules in virtually every other country. The designated hitter rule
has caused as much controversy here as in the U.S. and Japan, but the
Bergonians have developed the world's most peculiar compromise-- where
a coach can use a designated hitter only once
during a game.
There is now an active and growing Women's
Soccer is also popular (but since
I am an American with personally no interest in this boring game, I am not
qualified to make up soccer leagues).
Some Bergonians play a game called Pargo
(min.) that involves a large grassy (muddy) field, nine players per team
wearing virtually no padding, and a soccer-type ball. The players
can kick or throw or hit the ball, or move the ball any way they can,
except they may not carry it. A player may "throw the ball to
himself" as a way of moving it down the field; this consists of retrieving
one's own short tosses into the air. A team scores either one point
for kicking the ball into the goal net or two points for carrying the ball
inside the five meter line and throwing the ball into the net. There
are no dedicated goalies, and any player may be present on any part of the
field at any time. In the event of a pile-up on top of the ball, the
referees sort it out, and allow the team maintaining possession to put the
ball back into play from that spot. One may not punch, kick, elbow
or knee an opposing player and one may not aim any kind of shot to the
head, or hit from behind, but almost any other kind of move is legal. It is
a very rough
sport that produces frequent injuries. Pargo players probably
represent the most psychopathic portion of the population.
There is also a great deal of interest in
horse racing and motorcycling racing.
It is legal to bet on both kinds of racing in Bergonia.
Basketball is not popular. Golf has been dismissed (rather unfairly)
as a bourgeoisie pretension
and (fairly) a waste of good land, and land planners have routinely refused nearly all
applications to set aside land for golf courses.
Any description of Bergonian life, and almost any Bergonian
novel, love story, or philosophizing will sooner or later refer to dancing. All kinds of organizations-- schools, political parties,
businesses and churches-- put on dances. Any town of any size has a dance
hall, built on or very near a major plaza. In the cities people put on their finest and walk to the
dancehall. The dances draw lots of people on weekend nights, and
many nearby small restaurants and open food carts operate until morning.
Rhumba became the rage in Bergonia in the fifties (as it did
in Africa). One school of traditional native music, called malrecana
is very quick, with flutes
and horns and lots of powerful percussion, encouraging energetic dancing.
Another genre is as suited for the small bar as for the dance hall stage--
a passionate ballad style similar to Portuguese Fado usually with
acoustic guitar, mandolin and flute, called seraca. Roc & Roll is
popular. But the most popular is Locomotive, a hard driving
modern style, influenced by American blues and rock, relying on electric guitars,
horns and two drummers producing driving polyrhythms. Bergoni
Tunec is the home city of the National Dance
every August, an immensely popular event, drawing over a half-million people
every year to the various venues and events. The Dance Finals are
broadcast live nationwide from the Adhameina, a huge Art Nouveau dance hall
situated along the city's Boardwalk, and millions tune in.
In every town and city, the socialist planners have laid out at least one "promenade"
in imitation of the ancient city promenades. Here they pick one street
for cinemas, at least one theater for local dramatic productions and
concerts, and at least one youth
center. They encourage restaurants and bars along the promenade.
Every promenade has at least one dance hall, a bowling alley, a fish
house, and several game
arcades. The establishments lining the promenades typically do
not close until very late. This gives the community a place for
family entertainment, for teenagers and young adults to get together
(safely and publicly), and for people to meet each other.
The Recreation Zone
In the larger cities they also have built full-scale
recreation zones, pitroi (Nac.)/
(Min), nearly always adjacent to the promenades, movie theaters, a dance hall, bars, cafes,
restaurants, game arcades, carnival rides & a roller coaster, as well
as the town's art galleries & performing arts theaters. The
pitroi centered about an amusement park,
merry-go-rounds, other rides, circus-type acts, illusionists, a horror house, hall of
mirrors, a light show, and a labyrinth for people to get lost in. These concentrations of entertainment establishments
weekend crowds, and all the facilities, including the art galleries, stay
up late. Bergonia is perhaps the only country in the world where the
fine art galleries typically close after 9:00 p.m.
The idea is that in a city one can find all within a
single walking distance. Families come to
these pitroi-- recreation zones.
Groups of young people wander around and hang out. People
of all ages go there to see friends and be seen. Of course in the
very large cities, such as Ceiolai, Cationi or Lefitoni, there are several
such recreation zones.
Relief Houses -- Tliacro
This is where Bergonians in pre-columbian
times went to tend to their bodies-- the public
ancient tliacro included masseuses, beauticians, barbers, and
in some cases prostitutes and geisha-type entertainers. In
modern times the tliacro has offered a public hot bath, sauna
& team room, a swimming pool both indoor and outside, a
massage & a manicurist, as well as a gymnasium, tennis
courts, basketball courts. Nowadays the tliacro includes a
fitness room with free weights and exercise machines.
These places are bergonia's egalitarian and folk-based
equivalent of the American country club.
Some tliacros include a "flop" or "nap"-- small
bedrooms by the hour, where people really do go for short naps,
as well as liaisons. People can stay overnight in
hostel-like conditions. Every one of these places
has lounge chairs with mechanical fingers.
Perhaps the most distinct thing about the
tliacro is that many of them are open to the public, charging on
an "al a carte" basis, unlike the American fitness
club, so that people can come and go as they please.
"In the culinary arts
we find a mouthful of redemption
from the pains and sordidness of our flesh."
In modern times the Bergonian diet has
become far more varied than before, with the importation of cattle, pork, potatoes, rice and
Eurasian fruits and vegetables. The ancients had only goat cheese,
but the modern Bergonians eat as much milk cheese and yogurt as any other
nation on earth. Bergonians did not become the world's best pastry chefs
until they imported European and Asian varieties of
wheat. Generally their cuisine is praised for its
We can make some generalities: The most
typical dinner: saut�ed or grilled pieces of fish or meat, or a tagine-type stew or other clay-pot dish, with sauce or vegetables or both served over
couscous-type hominy or noodles. Many rich sauces. Unique for
the common use
of fruit. Typical seasonings: garlic, thyme, rosemary, cumin, capers, chopped
olives, sage, spicy peppers.
Cooking here is as varied and
as regionalized as French, Chinese or Italian, and is as
difficult to stereotype. Bergonians themselves wrangle about
regional cooking styles, and Gourmet (U.S.) magazine's reviewers one
time identified fourteen regional cooking styles in the country. But
Bergonians themselves all recognize two broad styles, and the signs
outside most restaurants explicitly identify which style (if not both)
is served inside.
adopted by Min.)
"Highlands" cooking, often graphically represented by smiling
mom-like woman in traditional country dress holding a spatula.
adopted by Min.)
cooking, often graphically represented by a mustached chef wearing
the tall white hat, a very European male image holding a knife.
copaca (Both Min.
& Nac.), which is basically hominy made
from durum wheat, very much the consistency of couscous or grits.
The most common carbohydrate.
(Nac.), a stir-fry of vegetables,
typically carrots, broccoli, artichokes, peppers, olives, green
onions-- very common side dish.
(Min & Nac.), a stew baked in clay bowl, like a Moroccan
tagine-- a common way of eating chicken, pork & lamb, typically
eaten with copaca or crusty bread. Especially popular is
"sausage-stew" with tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes along with sausage or shredded pork.
pashar -- a mess of fried mashed
beans, onions, tomato & herbs, served over pasta or copaca/ couscous, with or
without mushrooms or cheese.
-- fried mashed beans on corn
pan-fried potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, olives and herbs, a
common side dish.
-- "little boat" -- half a baked potato, scooped out,
mixed with cheese or yogurt or lentils, set back into the skin,
then a few pieces of shrimp, fish, chicken , bacon or ham on top,
like latki, a mix of shredded fish and mashed and grated potato
molded into quenelles and deep-fried. Prominent on Pitara
-- (from Nac. sero, "red"), the common red sauce from
tomatoes, diced and fried along with onions, carrots, red &
green bell peppers,
capers & olives. In Pitara cooking it often carries chopped beef
or pork or shrimp like a spaghetti dish. Sometimes with
slices of orange.
-- (from Nac. varit, "green olive"), a tempanade made from
the green olives, peppers, basil and good oil.
by country traditions, especially highlands style & highlands
agriculture. There is also the Von-Taren
(Min) -- the "Southern Style" --
adjusted to corn, beans & squash of the hot flatlands of
southern/ southeastern Berg.
by cosmopolitan syncretism, lowlands agriculture, the coast, so
lots of seafood, and influenced by European cuisines.
pan roast, or bake.
canola and olive oil
for skillet cooking.
(see right) served at most meals.
(see right) on all menus.
corn bread and
wheat bread, rich yeasty breads and dry flat breads.
& fried & mashed potatoes
on some menus, usually with cheese, yogurt or tomato sauce.
They most often use
(mainly thyme, rosemary, sage),
olives and capers
for seasoning. They cook a lot of beans,
nuts. In no other cuisine in the world except
North African are lentils more common, and lentils are served on a
bed of copaca with an appropriate sauce ( see below). They often fry up peanuts,
almonds or pine nuts with squash, carrots, potatoes, green peppers &
Bergonian lakes, rivers and coastal waters
produce copious amounts of fish.
Baked, grilled and pan-fried fish
mainstays on virtually all menus. Because Eshera tends to
reflect inland culture, there is less ocean fish or shellfish, but
plenty of good lake and river fish, the most common
lashemo, like trout.
menus include a few pork, lamb, chicken
& beef dishes, mostly grilled, cooked up in stews
or tagines (Moroccan) with
vegetables, or sauteed (e.g. fricassee).
sauces, often served over meat or copaca,, including:
sauce with herbs & lemon juice.
famous ser ("red") sauce from
tomatoes, diced & cooked (in a pot or saut�ed) along with onions, carrots, red &
green bell peppers,
capers & olives.
"brown" sauce from lentils, beans &
A lot of
wine is used in cooking.
Eshera cooks more with
fruit than any other major
cuisine in the world, using native apples, raisins & grapes, currants
and all manner of berries. They cook fruit with meats, glaze
also serve cooked fruits & nuts over pan bread. Modern Bergonians have gone crazy over
fruits-- pineapples especially, and cook with them as well.
There is not a people on the earth who lust for pineapples like
pan & stir fry,
pan roast, steam, or bake.
canola and olive oil
for skillet cooking, as
well as butter.
some but not much
lots of noodles
served with meats & sauces.
yeasty wheat bread served
fresh with cheese and dipping sauces, or cooked as bruchetta.
& fried potatoes on some menus, usually with
cheese or yogurt.
of omelets, frittata & Spanish
Pastries are a big part of desert.
They most often use
(mainly thyme, rosemary, sage & garlic),
olives and capers
for seasoning. They cook a lot of beans,
nuts. In no other cuisine in the world except
maybe North African are lentils more common. Lentils are served on a
bed of copaca with an appropriate sauce (see below).
Bergonian lakes, rivers and coastal waters
produce copious amounts of fish and
Baked, grilled and pan-fried fish, along with numerous shrimp
dishes are therefore
mainstays on virtually all menus. Chimi, like latki, appears on
all Pitata menus.
include a few pork, chicken & beef
dishes as well, mostly grilled or baked, often served under a
sauce, or cooked into a pasta dish.
noodles, meats & vegetables they make
hundreds of sauces, often used for dipping bites of food,
but also served over freshly cooked dishes. The most common: (a)
cream sauces, yogurt sauces and cheese. (b) "green" sauces"-- usually crushed green peppers &
other vegetables plus herbs. (c) "red" sauces from
tomatoes, usually by dicing and frying along with onions, peppers,
capers & olives. (d) a variety of seasoned p�t�s made from fish and
shrimp and strange things like goose livers.
As does Eshera,
Pitata uses a lot of
wine in cooking and
also in making
Bergonians eat fruit, light pastries and cereal. They also like
pashar-- a mess of fried mashed beans served over pasta or couscous,
and kipueshar-- fried mashed beans on corn flatbread. With
either pashar or kipueshar they eat omelets, usually with
cheese, peppers and almonds. In the 20th century Bergonians began
eating ham and sausage for breakfast, but now health concerns are making
taboo the popular herb-seasoned and spicy varieties of sausage.
Bergonians eat cheese rolls, nut rolls, pesto and other vegetable spreads
on copaca, crackers or bread, cheese, and dried fruit (apples,
bananas). As inexpensive stand-bys they like pasta or couscous with
tomato, herb or bean sauce, omelets and quick-fried fish and meats with
vegetables or on a sandwich.
For eating on the run,
Bergonians have convenience stores and vending machines, but have worked
hard in recent decades to improve the offerings-- decent sandwiches, bags
of nuts, dried fruit, and cheese and bread rolls. American
equivalents offer the same steady diet of sugar, trans-fat and salt
junk�under a hundred competing brand names, capitalism's typical pretense
of choice when in fact it offers none.
Cooking in Ancient Times
In ancient times
cooking was regarded as a fine art, and chefs were recognized artists.
The chronicles and diaries that survive to us record the names and
careers of famous chefs, and in some cases emperors and tieris
commissioned eulogies for prominent chefs. The chefs jealously
guarded recipes, and were constantly trying to best one another with new
creations. In the Era
of Empires (200-700 AD) the chefs contrived what they called the "Nine Schools" of cooking. Each school supposedly
represented a different region of Bergonia. The four schools that
represented the lowland regions (SW, S, SE, E) relied on the triad
of corn, beans & squash (like Mesoamerican cultures). The
upland schools (W, C) and the northern (NW, N, NE) depended on
durum-like wheat for pasta noodles and a couscous-like food called
apla. These Nine Schools are still mentioned when discussing
regional cooking in the present day.
The ancient chefs mastered many techniques of cooking, including
steaming in wicker containers over boiling water, frying and saut�ing in
wide iron and steel pans. They baked dishes in ceramic and clay
bowls and pots, often with lids to lock in the moisture (like Moroccan
cooking). Stews and soups were a major feature of Bergonian
cooking. Meats and breads were often dipped in sauces, and there
were quite a few sauces to chose from: a
tomato salsa sweetened with wine and a touch of honey, a sharp tomatillo
sauce, a "green" sauce made from peppers, olives, capers, celery &
herbs, "sweet" sauces made from honey, vinegar, mashed apples or other
fruits, a white sauce of yogurt & goats cheese, and seven varieties of
bean sauce. They made a sort of butter from goats cheese, but did
most of their cooking in oil from rapeseed (canola) and from iclesha
nuts (rounder than a peanut), as well as in oil made from
the small native olives called shai.
and So-Called Vices:
Here federalism means something.
Different states have different laws
about alcohol, marijuana, gambling and prostitution. The
federal government has no authority to legislate these
matters. By contrast, while the U.S. pretends to
be a federal democracy, constitutional provisions such as the
"interstate commerce clause" are used to justify massive
federal interference in the arena of public morals.
Generally Bergonia is far
more liberal than most other nations. In recent years
some countries are starting to catch up.
including wine, beer and spirits, is sold in private stores and
supermarkets. Neighborhood pubs proliferate, though nearly always in conjunction with
restaurants or carry-out stores. This average Bergonian
pub or "cafe" usually faces onto the street, often with sidewalk or
verandah seating, where everyone can come to eat and socialize.
There are also the "clubs," which are more like the blank-walled
spooky-dark American bar, where children and church people do not go.
(abea in all Berg. languages) is legal
in all parts of Bergonia, but the individual Lesre impose many restrictions on its
production, distribution and sale. Many farmers grow
marijuana as a cash crop and typically sell to dealers who
in turn sell to small retail stores, where pot is sold in
clear plastic bags to customers. The market for marijuana in many ways remains local, with local producers selling through networks of friends, although the abea grown in some parts of the country is more valued. Price mark-ups may
attract the attention of the police who, as agents of a
socialist government, remain vigilant against profiteering
of any sort.
It is absolutely against the
law to either import or export marijuana, or any other
controlled substance, and Bergonian police have let American
and other foreign police into the country to arrest
exporters. It is of course illegal for a minor to possess
or use marijuana or alcohol or any other controlled
substance, or for an adult to give marijuana or whatever to
a minor. In some states it is illegal to carry marijuana in an automobile unless in the trunk.
In most places the use,
possession and production of natural hallucinogens, including
mescaline and hallucinogenic mushrooms, is legal, though
LSD is illegal.
are touchy about the public consumption of
alcohol and marijuana. One may drink on the premises of an open-air
cafe, but otherwise all public consumption of alcohol or marijuana in the
cities and towns or along the road is
illegal and also considered rude. Offenders caught by the police are
photographed, given a breathalyzer, and hauled off to jail for a while. Public intoxication
is permitted in festival time, however, according to local norms, which
may be quite tolerant, but
otherwise loud drunks are tolerated neither socially nor legally.
Drinking while fishing is of course a time-honored,
respected practice, which explains why many families of
alcoholics eat very well in Bergonia.
cocaine, crack, methamphetamine and other
drugs are illegal.
are often sent to prison, usually two or three years for a first offense.
Most first time small sellers of small amounts, and all defendants caught with
amounts for personal
use, get rehabilitation, usually with probation. The court
channels offenders into the public mental health system, where
treatment is available as a benefit paid for by the National
Health. This may include hospitalization or group-home
placement, or for extremely recalcitrant cases commitment to a secure
austere facility. Probation orders often require the offender to follow a
treatment plan, prescribed by a psychologist or treatment specialist along
probation officer or social worker. When the offender completes the plan, he
completes his probation.
probation must work, and hopefully this will involve
apprenticeship and membership in a collective, work with one
of the large enterprises, or for a government entity.
But if nothing else, at the minimum, the probation
authorities themselves will put the drug addict to work. Here
often comes to play the prevalent belief that recovery from
any kind of disability-- physical injury, substance abuse,
depression & other mental illness-- should usually involve
physical exercise, movement, exertion and work. It
probably comes from the age-old peasant mentality that still
pervades many layers of Bergonian culture, that says, "a
body worked tough is a good body." Thus drug addicts
may be required to mow grass, spread gravel, load trucks,
cut lumber, and paint fences. The more
institutionalized settings (like the prisons) usually
involve some physical regimen, like running, calisthenics
Nearly all offenders have to go through
some kind of group treatment-- Bergonians, with their emphasis on social
relationships and on collective action, tend to find group therapy very
effective. Drug offender groups resemble Alcoholics Anonymous
meetings, but there
is often a group leader. The groups engage in a lot of mutual
problem-solving (e.g. patching up family relationships, finding &
keeping legitimate work), and also attend classroom lectures. The
treatment plans may include some kind of educational requirement. If
(God forbid in any utopia!) any offender were found to have sub-standard
reading skills, he might be referred to adult education.
24 of 31 states have legalized prostitution, with a lot of local options
allowed the counties and cities. Bergonia has from ancient times to the present always allowed
prostitution in one form or another.
supposed to) carry
wallet-sized laminated licenses, and they will often turn in newcomers who
haven't yet obtained one, or who otherwise violate the laws or protocols of
the business. The prudent john will ask to see the
license. Sex workers must get tested regularly,
three months, and testing is a precondition to obtaining the three-month
license. A woman can do
whatever she wants in a private residence with a customer who has cash,
and so a certain level of prostitution occurs out of sight of the law, but
technically anyone soliciting cash for sexual gratification must still register and get tested.
Police are formally
charged with protecting prostitutes, and johns can be required to show ID and even give
thumbprints, though the law also requires confidentiality of
records, except in criminal investigations. In the Lesre (state) of
Paiatri, a prostitute has the right to take a fingerprint from a john. It is a typically Bergonian peculiarity that assaulting a prostitute
carries a heavy sentence-- the theory being that a woman willing
to make herself available so intimately to men, with an element
of trust, is especially vulnerable and thus deserving of special
protection (see Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven).
Likewise any crime of violence committed within the intimacy of sexual
relations, gain a sentencing enhancement.
A peculiarity in
Bergonian law allows people in "professional and confidential work" to
legally assume fictional identities,
and they may obtain photo identification cards displaying these
identities. Of course while anyone who casually inspects such
identification will see no difference from any other, a check of
government records will contain a cross-reference to the real name.
This law was
specifically enacted at the insistence of the various syndicates of actresses,
hostesses, dance hall performers & strippers & prostitutes. This law
ironically also suits zealous converts who want to adopt new
religious names, e.g. Buddhists, Muslims and Catholics.
Open functioning Bordellos, are legal
in at least parts of , though confined to specific neighborhoods in
cities, and in the Bergonian fashion the district is fixed and sanctioned,
generally called the came (nac.) or the gurove (Min.).
The Minidun word relates to urove, which means "welcome" The
businesses are leased formally to the users by the local land council--
bad-food cafes, dark bars and poolhalls, the 24 hour a day pancake house,
the bordellos, a flophouse where at least one can duck in and get a shower
before going home, a seedy dancehall or two, a laundry & dry-cleaner,
usually along a single street. The idea prevails that it is better
to give such activities a permanent segregated home, rather than wasting
perpetual effort stamping them out, only to have them rise up again in a
Addicts who prostitute for dope money will
usually work out of their own homes, through contacts and sometimes on the
street, and they duck the authorities, so the public health authorities
always encourage customers to ask for the prostitutes' license.
Outcall service is legal everywhere. But streetwalking, in those
states that allow it at all, is strictly confined in every city to a
single street, and streetwalking outside the prescribed spot carries heavy
fines. This reflects the same sensibility as do the strict
prohibitions on public drinking & pot-smoking-- people can do generally
whatever they want, as long as they do it with proper discretion, that is
to say, in private or within the discretely defined social space.
resulted in the severe criminalization of pimping.
Some men still operate as "brokers," "drivers" and "introduction
services," and the law seems tolerant of them as long as they do not
set the rate, dictate working hours and conditions, charge more than 255, or otherwise exert
control, and the workers are encouraged to file formal complaints against
real pimps. Generally a madam can organize a bordello and supervise
girls without attracting scorn, but a male pimp is typically regarded as a
despicable criminal who ues drugs to seduce their women. Before the Revolution, criminal gangs had
begun to organize large prostitution rings, where teenage girls were
forced into service and treated deplorably. Now in every city or
region there is a mutual protection & aid society for
all "sexual service specialists," where any troubled or
exploited girl can seek advice, aid and advocacy.
There are of course
male prostitutes too. They are also members of the sex
workers associations. In several of the larger cities, particularly Cationi
("city of dreams, city of nightmares") there are big gay bordellos connected with lavishly appointed, very loud
dance clubs, always
with great live bands, usually with the distinctively frenetic horns that
mark Cationi's rowdy high-tempo style of dance music.
have ambivalent ideas about
The typical criticism of gambling is not the Christian "moral"
objection, but indignation over how the house always
exploits the customer, so that much of gambling is unfair and therefore
exploitative, typical of capitalist institutions. This objection
does not apply to private games of cards or dice, which are equitable, and in any event there
are plenty of these in the cafes and verandahs of Bergonia.
The states do operate lotteries--
but with numerous small payouts (very democratic, allowing for more
winners) and no giant millionaire winners. Some states in the U.S.
have found lotteries a politically easy to cure budget shortfalls (e.g. my
home state West Virginia depends on its lottery for over a fourth of its
of course bet on sports, but the bookies who
manage this must register with the state and local government, and limit the size of
their operation. The professed point of such regulation is to prevent any
bookie from getting big, and preclude anyone from organizing a monopoly
over gambling. In the US the bookies are controlled by the organized
crime bosses who also influence corrupt politicians. In Bergonia the
corrupt politicians once used the police to control the bookies, thus
becoming the organized crime bosses themselves.
Bookies, like virtually all other independent
occupations, now have their own mutual aid associations, which led one British
observe, "In this absurd revolution, even the rackets have been
socialized." (Americans refer to "crime
syndicates," while in Bergonia & other countries syndicates are
workers organizations (Fr. syndical). In addition to all the
socialized pensions and medicine, the police, firefighters and emergency
workers in tough times can look to benevolence funds, to which bookies and
prostitutes very often generously contribute. It is like buying a
sticker from the State Troopers Association to put on the car window, and
it is also like paying protection money. (A famous old Berg movie
has a city's police officers association playing football against the
bookies association. Of course bookies take bets from officers
before the game while officers are trying to shake down bookies.) Income from street gambling is difficult income to
tax, but the significant license fee insures some substantial income off
this economic exchange.
Of course many men and women get together
for private card or dice games, often in the peculiarly Bergonian fashion
of playing at tables in sidewalk cafes or erected in impromptu fashion
in plazas or on street corners. People therefore often have friends
and neighbors watching them play and offering drink, distraction and
unwelcome commentary. But the spectators become part of the game, and few
poker players would think of retiring into the house unless the
weather forced them.
Sometimes the spectators will bet each other on the poker game, e.g.
"I bet you five that Beinon is bluffing." The
wives often want their men off the street, and occasionally one
of them will come down the stairs onto the street to retrieve her man, and
it may become a game resulting in all the wives standing around having
their own party. If a wife comes, though, whenever a man is on a
losing streak, he will be accused of surreptitiously using his cell phone
to summon her to bail him out. The sidewalk games are frequent grist
for television and movies.
[rev. 21 Jul 06]