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A Cartload of Cartography 3: Projections and the Present Day
By Tar-Palantir

This is the third and last part of "A Cartload of Cartograhpy", Tar-Palantir's article series looking at the history of maps and mapmaking! You can read part one, on ancient and medieval maps, here, and part two, on early modern mapping, here.



From the 18th century onwards, cartography pretty much becomes a case of increasing precision and accuracy, often in the service of imperial ambitions, and greatly helped by the invention of accurate marine chronometers in the later 18th century, making the determination of longitude possible. As states became more territorially-based, mapping and defining that territory became more important, so national mapping agencies begin to appear, charged with charting the homeland and its colonies in exacting detail, usually through thorough triangulation-based surveying. More sophisticated administrative structures also needed maps for things such as accurate taxation and governance. As machines started to become more involved and producing maps became easier, special-purpose maps, showing, say, the distribution of one kind of thing also became more common – say, regions where malaria was endemic. Fast forward to the current day, and maps are usually digitised, with all the possibilities that entails – cartograms, multiple layers of information and so on. Another big development is the use of contour lines and symbols for different kinds of land cover and features of interest – rather than representing a forest by drawing lots of little trees, modern maps will colour the area green or fill it with some sort of tree symbol. Rather than a little drawing of a town, there’ll be a dot of the relevant size and style. And so on.

The important thing to think about here is that your map should reflect the technological level of the civilisation. If you’re aiming for something, say, 18th-19th century, a hand-drawn look would be appropriate, but you’re going to need to make sure it’s pretty accurate. For a 20th-21st century look, you might want to consider using some GIS software (QGIS is free and fairly straightforward to create maps in – there are tutorials online) to make your map, for a digital look. And, of course, if you’re aiming for something from the future, make sure to make your map look futuristic. In any case, make sure you include things like scale bars, meanings of abbreviations or foreign words, a colour and symbol legend if relevant, and so on.

At the same time, decorative maps are still very much a thing in this day and age, so a more old-style map would work, but you’d have to make sure you have a good in-universe reason for it being relevant.

That concludes our whistle-stop tour of cartographic history. Hopefully that’s given you a few ideas for how you could make the map of your world feel more authentic – remember, the important thing is to create something that looks as if the culture and technology of your world could have produced it. So, if you’re writing something faux-medieval, a clean digital map of the entire world is not a good idea; similarly, if you’re more futuristic, a hand-drawn and wildly-inaccurate map is not really suitable. Happy mapping!




A Note On Projections

One other thing to bear in mind is the issue of map projections. It is, of course, impossible to accurately represent the surface of a sphere on a flat continuous 2D plane (of course, one solution to this is to present your map as a globe, but, depending on how you’re aiming to present your map, that may not be feasible). There is, inevitably, a distortion of area, shape or position. Over the centuries, cartographers have come up with all sorts of different projections to minimise this issue in different ways, but which one is the ‘best’ really depends on your purpose. As stated above, the Mercator projection is great for regional nautical charts, but its very obvious and dramatic distortion of apparent area and shape at high latitudes means it doesn’t work so well in depicting the entire globe. If you’re aiming to produce a truly-accurate, modern-style map, therefore, you should investigate the range of projections available and pick one that suits – which one that is will depend very much on your particular requirements. Modern GIS software will easily allow you to change projections, so don’t worry about having to work out the maths yourself.

However, if your map is meant to be from a pre-Enlightenment period, you can pretty much ignore this issue. The intrinsic inaccuracies in earlier maps mean that projection issues are negligible – it’s only once you’ve got accurate positional data that projecting it properly becomes a real concern. If you do want to think about projections, though, the Mercator one is perhaps the easiest to use (hence its enduring popularity). This represents the surface of a sphere as if it were the unrolled surface of a cylinder, so lines of longitude become straight, parallel lines, much like lines of latitude (and that also shows you why it tends to infinity at the Poles). In other words, you can define a grid of parallel lines and use that to structure your map. But, if your map is hand-drawn based on hearsay from travellers, for instance, I really wouldn’t bother…


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Exilian Articles / A Cartload of Cartography 2: Beyond the Middle Ages
« on: September 23, 2018, 01:46:54 PM »
A Cartload of Cartography 2: Beyond the Middle Ages
By Tar-Palantir

Welcome to the second part of this series, on Early Modern maps! You can check the first part, on ancient to medieval maps, out here.


1. Eight leaves of the Catalan Atlas, from 1375.


Once we hit the 15th century, something a bit more like the modern map hoves into view. This is largely driven by advances in seafaring, spearheaded by Portugal and the Catalans. As long-distance voyages became more common, especially ones that involved potentially being out-of-sight of land for a while, actually accurate maps became more important. People could measure latitude pretty well by this point, as the astrolabe began to be replaced by the cross-staff and then the backstaff, making the measurement relatively accurate and simple. However, longitude was still problematic, as its accurate measurement relies on being able to accurately measure time, which was beginning to be resolved on land with better timepieces, but was still impossible at sea, as mechanical devices quickly accumulated error due to the motion of the ship and the excess of water and salt throwing out their delicate mechanisms. The alternative was dead reckoning, where you measure the distance you’ve sailed on a given bearing to plot your course. This works fairly well in sight of land, where you can correct against known coastal features, but, in the open ocean or along unfamiliar coasts, rapidly becomes inaccurate. Hence, maps from this period tend to look fairly decent in a north-south direction, but get east-west ones often quite wrong – Africa, for instance, usually ends up looking much wider than it actually is.



2. Mercator's map, 1569. Public domain via Wikipedia.
These maps, called portolan charts, were inherently nautically-derived documents, though, and, as such, tended to focus more on features of interest to seafarers. The other thing they included lots of were rhumb lines, i.e. lines of constant bearing, as they helped captains know what bearing they should sail on to reach a given destination (though, not being projected correctly, these rhumb lines are really more windrose lines and not actually of much use to a navigator!). A line of constant bearing is, of course, not a straight line at longer distances, because of the curvature of the Earth, so it’s important to plot them properly. This was the motivation behind the invention of the Mercator projection: in that projection, rhumb lines are straight lines, which makes it very handy for a navigator. What it was never designed to do was be the basis of a full world map; a situation it frequently finds itself misapplied to in modern times, where its tending towards infinity at the Poles makes it rather unsuitable for depicting high-latitude landmasses. Back when it was invented, these weren’t well-known, so it wasn’t seen as an issue, but, in this day and age, it makes Greenland look the size of Africa, which is a little problematic.

The late-14th century Catalan Atlas (Figure 1) is perhaps the most impressive map of this kind  - the Mediterranean basin is rendered with a high level of accuracy, but as you move farther afield, this accuracy begins to wane. This map also draws very heavily on the mappa mundi tradition, with various myths and legends depicted in its farther-flung reaches. Most portolan charts were far less elaborate and only showed outlines of coasts with coastal towns and features named.



3. Blaeu's map of Holland. From https://www.erfgoedleiden.nl/
Portolan charts were produced for a specific purpose for a specific group of people and new ones were usually treated as state secrets, so weren’t available to the general public. However, a more enquiring attitude to the world, overseas exploration (primarily for trade at this stage, not empire) and increasing rejection of Catholic dogma, also meant geographical information was more sought after by non-mariners, so we see the first atlases compiled; the very first, titled simply Atlas, including a world map (Figure 2) by Mercator in 1569, marking a shift in European cartographic power to the Netherlands. The work associated with the Netherlandish school of cartography is much closer to what we would think of as maps – they’re meant to be repositories of geographic knowledge and, as far as possible, an accurate representation of the world. The culmination of this tradition is perhaps Joan Blaeu’s Atlas Maior (Figure 3), published in 9-12 volumes, depending on the edition, between 1662 and 1672. As can be seen in Figures 2 and 3, this school of mapmaking has largely banished the medieval penchant for putting in all kinds of legendary creatures and features, contenting itself with some ships sailing on the sea, explanatory text and decorated borders. Useful bits of cartographic furniture, such as scale bars, also start to make an appearance, in keeping with the changed purpose of these maps.


4. A double hemisphere map, 1666. Boston Public Library.
Atlases were also supposed to be decorative items, showing the wealth and taste of the owner, so many versions had substantial, increasingly Baroque artwork to fill in gaps on the page. Maps began to be produced that had no particular use and were themselves purely decorative, such as double-hemisphere-type maps (Figure 4), which look nice and afford plenty of decorative space, though are a bit useless as practical maps.

Remember, though, there were still large parts of the world essentially unknown to European mapmakers at this stage – the interior of Africa and parts of Asia hadn’t been nailed down yet. The outline of South America was fairly well-established, though its interior was, likewise, still largely conjectured. North America was less well-outlined, explorers having not yet reached the north-western coast, and the barest outlines of Australia and New Zealand only began to come in during the 17th century. Whilst the overt filling of spaces with legendary figures was no longer practised, mapmakers weren’t averse to conjuring up mountains and rivers to fill them in in a slightly more naturalistic manner, so there was still room for invention.

Overall, then, you have a wide choice of map types if you want to set something in this sort of period. You could come up with something pretty medieval-looking overlaid on a somewhat-accurate topography; you could consider a very minimalist portolan chart, or you could move towards a grandly-decorated modern-style map. Think about what would likely to have been driving cartographic progress in your world and how that would affect the evolution of charts – would it be nautically driven, as in our world, or would something else be the main force?


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Exilian Articles / A Cartload of Cartography 1: Ancient & Medieval Maps
« on: August 04, 2018, 08:45:14 PM »
A Cartload of Cartography 1: Ancient & Medieval Maps
By Tar-Palantir

Right, so you’ve worked out how your world should look based on sensible principles of earth and planetary science, so you don’t have things such as your rivers flowing uphill or your mountains forming tessellating hexagons. But, how do you actually design the map?


Fig 1. An idealised T-O type map.
This is rather a big question and really depends what you’re aiming to achieve. Are you aiming to produce something that a notional traveller could actually use to navigate or more of a pictorial overview of the world? Are you trying to show the whole thing, or are you leaving convenient unmapped bits round the edges to expand into later on? What’s the in-universe source of your map – is it something that might have been drawn from memory by one of the characters, or is it from the equivalent of the Ordnance Survey or NASA? These are all things you probably want to think about before making your map. But, to help you out with answering them, I’ll run through a bit of terrestrial cartographic history to show what sort of styles you might want to consider, assuming the main factor in your choice of style is the nominal broad historical era you envisage your world occupying. The bias will inevitably be somewhat eurocentric, but I’ll say a bit about other civilisations too.

Maps from Antiquity and the early Medieval age are very rarely maps in the way we think of them. From the 6th century through to the High Middle Ages, the main driving force behind the production of maps in Europe was the Church. As such, the point of a map was to show the world in a way that supported Christian theology and teaching. The actual geography was a rather secondary aspect. This of course makes good sense – in an age when most of the population were illiterate, having a big picture that showed a lot of Biblical stories was an invaluable teaching aid.

Fig 2. Part of 'Tabula Peutingeriana'
The earliest maps in this vein were the simple T-O kind (Figure 1), that showed the three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa bisected  by the Mediterranean (the stem of the T) and the Nile and Don (the crossbar), all encircled by the Ocean river (the O). Jerusalem was at the centre. Towns and cities of Biblical and current political importance might also be marked, but it was mainly a pretty simple schematic depiction of the world. These later evolved into the very elaborate mappa mundi (Figure 3) that essentially embodied the same principle, but with more random artistic representations of medieval and Biblical legends, such as Prester John, the wall Alexander built to keep out Gog and Magog, blemmyes and so on. So, if you’re aiming for this sort of feel, try to come up with a simplified geometric pattern that sketches out your world, centre it on something that might be equivalent to Jerusalem, and then, depending on how creative you’re feeling, fill in the gaps with all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

You might therefore ask: how did anyone get anywhere? Long-distance pilgrimages were often made in this age, and travellers had to know where to go. The answer is something called an itinerarium (Figure 2) or a periplus. These weren’t pictorial maps, but lists of towns (the itinerarium) or harbours and landmarks (the periplus) between two points, in order, with distances, so travellers knew where they had to get to next. Essentially, they were linear route maps, and the better kind would provide a schematic of the route as a straight-ish line, as well as information on things such as water sources and way-stations. What they did not include was any notion of topography or of a 3D space.



Fig 3. The Hereford Mappa Mundi
Pre-Christianity, the Romans didn’t really go in for maps – the itinerarium is the closest they got, whilst the periplus dates from the Ancient Greeks, if not before. Maps, in the sense we think of them, did exist, but were more academic curios restricted to libraries than anything actually used by anyone. Emblematic in this regard is the work of Claudius Ptolemy, a Greek Alexandrian geographer of the 2nd century AD, who put together a world map in his Geography that influenced many later medieval and early modern cartographers (Figure 4). Ptolemy was fully aware his map only covered about a quarter of the globe, but had no information about what the other three quarters were like or what was there. He could only get somewhat accurate positional data for the Greco-Roman world, and less accurate fixes for places such as China, of which the Romans were aware. This highlights a central problem in all medieval and earlier mapmaking: it was inherently local and anything trying to depict a region further afield was inevitably based on hearsay – even Al-Idrisi’s Book of Roger, a medieval proto-atlas, was a bit useless once you got beyond the Mediterranean and Near East. Coupled to this, no one had yet worked out any way of determining longitude precisely, though latitude could be got down to minute-level precision by measuring the length of the longest day at a place or by using an astrolabe. As such, the idea of a ‘world map’ was fundamentally flawed at this stage and didn’t really exist – Ptolemy’s map has a lot of blank space around the edges to make this apparent.


Fig 4. A 15th century version of Ptolemy's world map.
Thinking about non-European cultures, this kind of predominantly symbolic mapmaking allied with simple schematics for daily use remained the dominant school, generally until European empires came to the fore and started to spread ‘modern’ mapping culture. This is because the concept of what we call a map is very much the result of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and relies very much on a Western idea of science. As such, other cultures tend not to have created something similar until they encountered the Western scientific mindset. So, for instance, the purpose of Chinese mapmaking for most of its existence was to glorify the Middle Kingdom and the Emperor as its ruler, and pictorially display the Chinese concept of an ordered world under the Mandate of Heaven. Everything outside China was inherently inferior and uninteresting, so why on Earth would you bother to make a map of it? This is a point you should think about when designing your map – if the culture nominally behind it has a radically different idea of the world and of what ‘science’ is, that would be reflected in their cartography. The modern world map is very much the product of a specific Western culture and idea of science – if you think your fictional culture doesn’t fit into that mould, give them a map that reflects that.




To sum all this up: if you’re going for an early-style, large-scale map, think how it might interact with and depict the legends, religion and history of your world and about how much of that world your supposed source might actually know about in any kind of detail. Or, if there’s a particular part of it you want to highlight, drawing up an itinerarium and/or periplus for what might be a common journey through it could be a good idea. Stay tuned for part 2, when I'll move on to talk about the Renaissance and beyond...

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Exilian Articles / So, You Want To Write A Medieval Epic?
« on: October 07, 2017, 12:54:13 AM »
So, You Want To Write A Medieval Epic?

I’ve been reading a lot of epic poetry recently, for what must be my fairly considerable sins, and I was therefore inspired to pen this guide to aspirant writers:

So, you’ve been doing a bit of reading and you think you might like to write a medieval epic to secure your place among the immortal pantheon of poetic greats and exalt the unquestioned virtues of your race. No, I don’t know why you would either in this day and age. But, if you’re sure, answer the questions below to check:

Obviously, a good epic needs a rhyme scheme. Do you go for:
A: Something mostly like this // With rhyme and rhythm, and varying stress.
B: Why is this in words? Numbers are better.
C: ‘As I was going to St Ives…’

You’ve read The Iliad as background research. What was your response?
A: The main problem was that there was too much plot and moral ambiguity, not enough fighting and Achilles wasn’t OP enough.
B: Yes, fine as a feat of literary genius. But obviously totally inaccurate as a historical source.
C: I never knew Homer Simpson knew that many words.

Religion was an important part of medieval life. How do you feel about God?
A: He’s amazing and great and the best thing evah.
B: The evidence suggests there’s no such person.
C: Who cares? I’m a Belieber!

What’s your favourite political system?:
A: Divinely-mandated Imperial monarchy.
B: Democracy.
C: Anarchy. Because I’m so edgy.

You find a horn lying on the ground. Do you:
A: Blow it so hard your head explodes?
B: Try to find out where the horn came from and return it to its original owner?
C: Ignore it, because you’re glued to your smartphone?

Bums. What is your response?:
A: Snigger. And then feel guilty about thinking impure thoughts.
B: How immature.
C: Lol.

You are an innkeeper. A large party of travellers have just turned up at your inn. How do you react?:
A: Make friends with them, set them a challenge, and then leave with them to make sure they keep their word.
B: Endeavour to sell them as much food and drink as humanly possible to boost your cashflow.
C: Close up, because it’s Strictly I’m a Celebrity X Brother on Ice tonight and you’re not missing it.

You’ve started writing and spotted a major plot hole. How do you solve it?:
A: Your main character prays and God creates a deus ex machina so everything works out.
B: Spend hours trying to find a satisfying and practical way round it within the self-imposed constraints of your story.
C: Get pissed and forget about it.

Who is your main heroic character descended from?:
A: The Romans. Or the Trojans. Or the gods. Or some mixture of all three.
B: A historical dynasty that you’ve carefully researched to work out who the main players were in your chosen time period.
C: Who’s that really old guy in all them films? Ganbledore?

At what level of outnumbering does your hero become concerned?:
A: Never. With God on your side, unnumbered legions of infidels pose no threat to your all-conquering sword.
B: It depends on the tactical situation, the morale of the troops and several other factors. In a defensive siege, maybe 10 to 1; in a pitched battle, perhaps 3:1; in an offensive siege, 1:1.
C: Never. Because the baddies can’t shoot straight, no matter how broad a target they’re presented with.

What is your attitude to barbarians, natives and other sundry peoples not related to your hero?:
A: Infidels who will all submit to the divinely-ordained rule of my hero, or be slaughtered.
B: All are equal members of the human race and the primary objective is to develop constructive and mutually-beneficial trade links and social interaction.
C: Bloody immigrants.

What is the role of women in your writing?:
A: They can have some supporting roles, but, ultimately, it’s all about the men. They’re just better.
B: They’re as important as the men. In fact, I’m considering making the main character a woman.
C: There are no women. Just pneumatic wenches and females wearing minimal clothing.

You’ve reached the end! How have you finished your epic?:
A: The good guys win and set up a new Eden, whilst the baddies are all horribly punished, all in accordance with Biblical teaching.
B: There’s a well-thought-out conclusion with an unforeseen twist that ties up all the plot strands.
C: Everything explodes.




THE RESULTS

Mostly As: you clearly have exactly the right mindset and skills to write a medieval epic. Get going and I look forward to reading your newly-minted piece of dubious historicisation!

Mostly Bs: you’re far too sensible and rational to write a medieval epic. Have you considered a career in science?

Mostly Cs: why are you even reading this? Do you even know what a medieval epic is?

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Tolkien & LOTR / Re: Middle-Earth General Election: THE RESULTS
« on: January 03, 2016, 04:44:56 PM »
MACHO are proud to be part of Middle-earth's first democratically-elected coalition government and look forward to working with our coalition partner to bring a progressive social agenda to Middle-earth and heal its many divisions. This government will ensure better representation for hitherto-neglected constituencies and has been elected by the people, for the people and will serve the people to the best of its considerable abilities, given its leadership of two Maiar and two Elven princes.


The future's bright, the future's bluey-green (according to the Parliament graphic).

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The point MACHO were making is that no one can know the mind of Eru, therefore who is to say whether a government has his favour? The government must be given a chance and judged on its actions and achievements, rather than condemned for purely ideological reasons. The masses should therefore withhold their opprobrium at this stage.

We disagree with MEAD that we are appeasing one particular section of society. We certainly do not envisage that the defence forces will be made up exclusively of Gondorians (or any other group), but were pointing out that this may be a way that militarily-able members of society could put their skills to better use, rather than fomenting rebellion at home. Any factionalism in any central institution will have a very dim view taken of it by the government. We anticipate the military and the police to be a visible standard bearer for the united society MACHO strives for. Initially, we concede that some areas may feel more comfortable not being policed by representatives of those they have fought so long with, but we hope the high level of training and courteousness of all members and representatives of a MACHO-led government would rapidly overcome such obstacles.

We feel MEAD's proposals to create what are effectively local militias at what they themselves acknowledge is a time of great tension will greatly increase the chances of ethnic cleansing in some areas. Needless to say, this would be disastrous.

With regards to initial pledges, MACHO:
  • Will not form a coalition with the SSS, whose views we feel are inimical to what we seek to achieve
  • As a party commited to fighting for the rights of minorities and democracy, we also oppose the establishment and authoritarian bias of the WTA
  • Will ensure the Brown Lands are reforested and turned into a memorial arboretum for all the dead of all the races of Middle-earth
  • Will reach out to our neighbours to allow people in frontier regions to live in greater security with enhanced trade. We will oppose all narrow, sectarian policies and jingoistic mindsets. Middle-earth must move on from its past
  • Will create a central police and defence force to act as a standard bearer for integration and to ensure that all citizens of Middle-earth can live in security, regardless of race or belief
  • Will ensure formal equality for all races, which will be enshrined in a non-politically-controlled education system that caters to the needs of all

7
To relieve social tensions in the lands of Gondor, MACHO will endeavour to create jobs and set up social initiatives to promote harmony and tolerance. As many of the restive constituents are ex-servicemen, we feel they would be ideally suited to joining MACHO's proposed (small) central police and defence forces, where their undoubted skills can be put to use for the good of all of Middle-earth.

MACHO would also like to make the argument that, if a mandate for rule comes from divine judgement, both the Stewardship and the monarchy have evidently incurred divine displeasure, so should not a new democratic form of government be tried? Eru's mind is unknowable to those of us in the Mortal Lands - it may be that democracy is part of his plan for Arda. By joining the central defence and police forces, these ex-servicemen will have the perfect opportunity to find out. They cannot expect a new government to have military success if all the trained military personnel withhold their service to find out if it will be militarily-successful.

Vote MACHO for a fairer government for all!

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Tolkien & LOTR / Re: Voting Window & Advice Thread
« on: April 30, 2015, 05:36:55 PM »
MACHO evidently condemn the SSS's thinly-disguised threats and militaristic bent. Whilst a (small) centrally-controlled military force would seem necessary for defence and security, we feel that that would be sufficient, given Middle-earth's history of armed violence.

We are also confident our previously-proposed policing and defence forces would suffice to contain any SSS-inspired violence. A MACHO government will not let Middle-earth fall back into the abyss of intercommunal violence and will ensure peace and order are maintained, whilst limiting the power of the military establishment and the armed forces.

9
MACHO would like to make the point that a more apolitical educational system should be at least tried, rather than abandoning all efforts and instituting a political one. If it becomes political, nothing is lost; if it works, much is gained.

We would like to ask the WTA who will control the specialist appointments to their proposed upper chamber? Could this process not be open to abuse?

10
MACHO are confused - we have not, as SSS so stridently claim, slurred the Orcs in any way, and wonder where the SSS got this impression from. Let us reiterate: MACHO believes in the equality of all races and will enshrine this in legislation.

Whilst we applaud the SSS's commitment to gender equality, we are concerned their educational policies veer dangerously towards the cultic and will simply reinforce the sectarianism, factionalism and inter-race mistrust that have dogged Middle-earh for so long. The last thing the peoples of Middle-earth need is a vast reserve of armed, trained and radicalised militia(wo)men, all of whom mistrust each other. The First Age shows us the perils of mistrust between members of the same race, let alone those of different race....

11
MACHO recognise MEAD's concerns regarding the teaching board. We agree that there is no way to avoid any large consultative assembly becoming political; but that is a failure of the nature of sentient species, not the policy. To endeavour to mitigate the risk, MACHO would ensure that all headteachers have an automatic place on the Board, with representatives of the teaching unions (which we imagine will form) included too. This wider body would then appoint a smaller leadership council to run the Board. We feel this would provide sufficient protection against domination by the political elite.

We also wish to reject the claim that we are not concerned with the problem of adult education - we merely wished to set out our vision for the future. Of course, widespread adult education will be required, and MACHO will ensure that basic skills courses are available for free in all population centres, from rural villages to the largest cities, by correspondence if necessary.

We are concerned that MEAD's policies will lead to differing educational standards across Middle-earth, consigning some areas to perpetual second-class status.

To the voter from Mirkwood: whilst we respect your right to hold such views, it is these very views that have held Middle-earth back for uncounted ages. We would plead with you to give rapprochement a chance, to create a more prosperous, fairer and more tolerant Middle-earth for all. Our Dwarven brethren have been invaluable allies through the years and, as shown by Gimli, they can be altogether admirable. Admittedly, some Dwarves are less sympathetic, but I challenge you to point to any race which does not have members of a more unpleasant disposition. We feel that by working and living together, the races of Middle-earth can finally achieve equality and live in peace. Is that not a goal worth striving for? We therefore urge you to give toleration a chance.

12
In an attempt to get a debate going....

MACHO feel there has been an excessive focus on economic matters so far and that voters would prefer to hear about another area of policy. As such, we thought we would take this opportunity to lay out our education policy in more detail and invite the other parties to do the same:

  • Free universal education to secondary level. School age will be decided on a species-appropriate basis, but all children will attend the same schools to promote racial harmony. It is recognised that some species may have specific educational requirements and these will of course be recognised and catered for. We would also encourage members of all species to enter the teaching profession by providing them with subsidised housing to reflect their valuable service to the state and their community.
  • We would institute a tertiary education sector, with both academic degrees and more vocational qualifications being equally valued and open to all. We would encourage the long-existing apprenticeship tradition to continue, to ensure valuable skills are not lost from the workforce, and would provide grants for those entering university
  • Teachers would be required to complete professional qualifications, including elements of classroom and on-the-job learning, to ensure all children have access to quality teaching
  • The curriculum, examination content and structure, and overall education policy would be decided by a council of teachers and education experts, rather than being prey to political whims. The body would have a budget from which to fund all educational activities. This body would meet on an annual basis, with smaller groups meeting more frequently as required. Once made, the central government would be responsible for implementing any decisions and ensuring the education system remains harmonised across Middle-earth. The Teaching Council would, however, be responsible for meeting the cost of these initiatives from its budget, though the central government will have discretionary power to authorise additional funds if it is deemed necessary

Vote MACHO for a fairer, more inclusive Middle-earth!

13
As a party that believes in transparency, MACHO shall publicly declare all their choices here:

Leader (Elladan): Rhudaur and Eregion
Deputy Leader (Elrohir): The Iron Hills

Our other targets: The Riverlands, Central Rhovanion, Emnet and Entwash, Dunland and the Isen

Vote MACHO. Make the right choice for a fairer, more prosperous Middle-earth for everyone.

14
Tolkien & LOTR / Re: Middle-earth General Election: Hustings Round!
« on: April 08, 2015, 05:20:49 PM »
Dear Dunlander

We apologise for the delay in getting back to you - we merely wanted to formulate the best-possible answer to your question. You should vote MACHO because:

  • We would ensure you are no longer marginalised by the Rohirrim, whom you call Forgoil, and would become equal citizens of the community of Middle-earth, with effective representation in government
  • We would set up a caring state that would ensure effective education, healthcare, benefits, security and services for all communities, rather than leaving them to fend for themselves
  • We would not impose development on you, but would leave you to choose your own path within the wider framework of a MACHO state
  • We would help you open up new markets for your local industries and products, allowing you to develop and prosper

Vote MACHO for a brighter, equal future!

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Tolkien & LOTR / Re: Middle-earth General Election: Hustings Round!
« on: April 07, 2015, 05:17:18 PM »
To the WTA: We do not seek to totally exclude the nobility from government, but merely take issue with the WTA's belief that said government should reside exclusively with the said nobility. MACHO advocates a more inclusive political system.

To GAP: We welcome another party's commitment to the environment, though we do feel that carbon budget legislation may be a little premature - given Middle-earth's current lack of industry and, largely, science, this would seem excessively difficult and costly to set up in the short-term, though we applaud the principle.

To MEAD: We feel your pledges are laudable in their spirit and generally agree with them, but a few issues spring to mind:
  • The Palantiri would be virtually impossible to use for all remaining beings in Middle-earth, save perhaps Galadriel and Elrond, as none now live who have the right to them and few have the mental strength. We think they should become museum exhibits or, at worst, rolled down Anduin into the Sea
  • We feel that, as Death is the gift of Ilúvatar, the state should not in any way legislate to allow people to take their own lives before their appointed time. Equally, we condemn capital punishment, but we would sanction euthanasia, no matter how well-intentioned
  • We also do not think police forces should be communally-recruited, due to the risk of forming ethnic militias, and would deal with such matters centrally

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