Daily Life in a Socialist-Syndicalist Society



Topics on this Page:

Dress & Clothing,

Housing & Homes,

Consumer Goods,



Recreation, including sports,

Food & Cuisine

Vices & Public Mores. including drugs, gambling and prostitution.

Compared to the United States, life here is slow, calm and quaint.  

Bergonian cities 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 shorter.

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 designated "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 lighting.  

Bergonians 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 taste makes 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.

Bergonians 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 "organized chaos."

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 the poorest 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 more 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.")

A 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 live-and-let-live attitude 

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.  

Moreover, 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 enough. 

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 stick-fighting). 

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.

See Slow Food

The Alborg Declaration of sustainable urban development.


From Birth to Death in Bergonia:





Community service


Reaching adulthood






Disability & 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 mediocrity.

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.

Billboards -- 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 & sights.

"Sprawl-Marts" & other retail chains -- Bergonians value their small businesses & urban streetscapes.  There are a few large retailers, and these are 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.

Mobile homes -- usually ugly, fire-prone, depreciating rapidly, and not needed in a country with stable population.

SUVs -- steel monsters used to indulge egos by assaulting the environment.

Telephone solicitations -- flat-out prohibited, because people's peace and quiet come over the interests of "commercial speech."

Stadium skyboxes -- In this egalitarian society, it is loathsome that taxpayer money goes to building luxuries for the rich, but American taxpayers are suckers.

First 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.

So 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.

So many damned insurance agents, adjusters and bureaucrats--  in the U.S. both "Liabilitiphobia" plus government requirements stampede individuals and companies buy insurance with no controls over  the insurance industry


Dress and Clothing:

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 ileia ("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 formal occasions.

Housing and Homes

Turkish tile floor, in an Istanbul mosque, like tilework in BergoniaThe 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 porches

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.  

The Portuguese 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.

Otherwise the 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.

Interior Decorating

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 manufacturing techniques.

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.

Consumer Goods:

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 less common 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 in other countries-- the equivalent of about $85 a month for everyone, but basic service includes:

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 everyone's homes.  

Since the very beginning televisions sales have carried a hefty "programming tax"-- around 25%-- that goes to the National Television Fund, which is then allocated to the various networks.  

With the multiple sources of income, Bergonian television features fewer 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.

Television Content:

Four major entertainment 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.  

CPL, 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.

ABC, 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 Santanier.

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.  

The 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 business people.

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 popular.

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 opera,

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 programming-- the 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 Miradi 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.

Twenty "academic" 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 Computers

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 downloads.  

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.

Regulation of Advertising

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, Sec. 7)

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 and loyalty.

(b) second-tier regional professional leagues, with teams located in cities of 250,000 to 2 million people.

(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 early 50s.

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:  

The 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 Preba 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 Varsca Stars.

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 Baseball League.

Other Sports

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 Competitions, occurring 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.

The Promenade

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.)/ amasenen (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, featuring roller-coasters, 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 bring out 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 baths.  The 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."

Contemporary Bergonian cuisine  

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 heart-healthiness.  

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.



(Nac. adopted by Min.)

"Highlands" cooking, often graphically represented by smiling mom-like woman in traditional country dress holding a spatula.


(Nac. adopted by Min.)

"City" cooking, often graphically represented by a mustached chef wearing the tall white hat, a very European male image holding a knife.

common fare:

copaca (Both Min. & Nac.), which is basically hominy made from durum wheat, very much the consistency of couscous or grits.  The most common carbohydrate.

pishie (Nac.), a stir-fry of vegetables, typically carrots, broccoli, artichokes, peppers, olives, green onions-- very common side dish.

tamo (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 oi-tamo "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.

kipueshar -- fried mashed beans on corn flatbread. 

kipiticar -- pan-fried potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, olives and herbs, a common side dish.

tiepar  -- "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, and broiled.

chimi like latki, a mix of shredded fish and mashed and grated potato molded into quenelles and deep-fried.  Prominent on Pitara menus.

ser  -- (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.

vrar  -- (from Nac. varit, "green olive"), a tempanade made from the green olives, peppers, basil and good oil. 

Influenced 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. Influenced by cosmopolitan syncretism, lowlands agriculture, the coast, so lots of seafood, and influenced by European cuisines.

pan fry, pan roast, or bake.  

canola and olive oil for skillet cooking.  

copaca (see right) served at most meals.

tamo and pashar (see right) on all menus.

corn bread and wheat bread, rich yeasty breads and dry flat breads.

baked & fried & mashed potatoes on some menus, usually with cheese, yogurt  or tomato sauce.

They most often use herbs (mainly thyme, rosemary, sage), olives and capers for seasoning.  They cook a lot of beans, lentils and 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 & onions.

Bergonian lakes, rivers and coastal waters produce copious amounts of fish.  Baked, grilled and pan-fried fish are therefore 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.

Most 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). 

A few simple sauces, often served over meat or copaca,, including:

yogurt sauce with herbs & lemon juice.  

the famous ser ("red") sauce from tomatoes, diced & cooked (in a pot or saut�ed) along with onions, carrots, red & green bell peppers, capers & olives.

a "brown" sauce from lentils, beans & onions.

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 fowl, and also serve cooked fruits & nuts over pan bread.  Modern Bergonians have gone crazy over tropical fruits-- pineapples especially, and cook with them as well.  There is not a people on the earth who lust for pineapples like Bergonians.


pan  & stir fry, pan roast, steam, or bake.

canola and olive oil for skillet cooking, as well as butter.

some but not much copaca.

lots of noodles served with meats & sauces.

rich yeasty wheat bread served fresh with cheese and dipping sauces, or cooked as bruchetta.

baked & fried potatoes on some menus, usually with cheese or yogurt.

Lots of omelets, frittata & Spanish tortillas.

Pastries are a big part of desert.  

They most often use herbs (mainly thyme, rosemary, sage & garlic), olives and capers for seasoning.  They cook a lot of beans, lentils and 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 shellfishBaked, 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. 

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. 

For breads, 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 sauces.  

For breakfast  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.

For lunch 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.


Public Mores 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.  

Substance Abuse

Alcohol, 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.

Personal possession of marijuana (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. 

Bergonians 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.

Heroin, cocaine, crack,  methamphetamine and other hard drugs are illegal.  Large dealers 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 drug 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 with a probation officer or social worker.  When the offender completes the plan, he completes his probation.  

Most importantly, those on 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 and conditioning.  

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. 

Prostitutes (are 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, usually every 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 such 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 different neighborhood.

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.  

The Revolution 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.  


Bergonians have ambivalent ideas about gambling.  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 tax revenues).


People 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 wag to 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]