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Thread: The AARlander Issue #10 July 2008 Summer Festival Edition

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    The AARlander Issue #10 July 2008 Summer Festival Edition

    Welcome to the AARLANDER , AARland's monthly publication ! If you would like to write for the AARlander , contact canonized or English Patriot - everyone is welcome ! Also , what's the best way to support the AARlander aside from writing ? Give comments ! Put your comments in the AARlander: Comments and Discussion Thread for our writers to read !

    Editor in Chief and Cover Artist : 
    English Patriot
    Assistant Editors on Staff: 
    General_BT  Estonianzulu
    Contributors for This Month: 
    Discomb   robou   canonized   crusaderknight
    Capibara   trekaddict   Estonianzulu   Eber  
    phargle  snugglie   semetary   spl   comagoosie
    Other Writers or Contributors on Staff: 
    Judas Maccabeus  LeonTrotsky  Hajji Giray I       TreizeV
    JimboIX  VILenin  Grubnessul  jeffg006   Myth   grayghost   Kurt_Steiner  Cyrus_The_Great
    Mettermrck  DerKaiser  KanaX   Alfred Packer   AlexanderPrimus   Atlantic Friend
    Last edited by canonized; 01-07-2008 at 06:52.

  2. #2
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    What's Hot! An ACA Analysis
    By comagoosie

    Note: All views expressed by comagoosie in this article are opinions. While these opinions may put one AAR on top of another, in no way are these suppose to be hurtful or imply any superiority of any kind but are just the author's opinions. comagoosie also uses past results and current trends to justify his predictions. This is for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy.

    How long has the AARland Choice AwAARds been around? Don’t ask me, I am too young for that knowledge. But I do know is the recent past and the potential future of ACA. Yes, you heard me correct. Comagoosie will now assume a fortune-telling role where he will attempt to distinguish ‘what’s hot’ and ‘what’s going to win ACA’.

    First the difference:
    ‘What’s hot’:
    This AAR is one that gets a substantial amount of views and comments. It could someday reach soaring heights with its fan base composed of rather new forum members who dare not reach into more narrative AARs, but with a shaky group of fans, this can easily fall apart. Oftentimes a ‘hot’ AAR is a story created by a newer forum member, which involves a great deal of interactivity. At first, the thread may receive ~30 posts before there is even an update. Unfortunately, with the author being new, there is a greater percentage of him or her dropping it for various reasons. Nevertheless, there is no person happier than I am when an AAR gets off the ground and starts to fly.

    ‘What’s going to win ACA’:
    Before we even go into ACA season, a reader already has AARs in his mind, which he knows is a good story. Normally it is already an AAR that is “flying”, meaning that there have been more than several updates and a well-devised future. A prime example of an AAR that is almost guaranteed to win something is an AAR that has a nickname and no link needs to be involved when describing it. Timelines anyone? Of course, there are underdogs and in the Rome forum, there hasn’t been ACA winner, so it is anyone’s game.

    Bah! Enough talk, let’s get down to business.

    What’s hot:
    The Papal State:A Mission AAR for EUIII (In Nomine) by EUROO7 – I have calculated that this AAR gets 20.5 comments a day. Folks that is enough to fill a page a day. Watch out for this one in the ACA, this could possibly take an award. Though I worry with its fan base of new forumers will not vote due to some factors.
    From Rus to Russia - Russia Megacampaign, pt.2 by RGB – Yes this hot, getting 2000 views per update. With the author away, sadly this not updated near enough to rise to the sky. But I will tell you this, that this AAR has unlimited potential.

    This is an interesting situation, where all the AARs I have read, have not developed, so I will be banking on what quick scans of threads tell me. In my search, I have found no “middle-class” of AARs, only finding new and epic ones.
    Lesser of Two Evils: Germany in a Draka World by soonerborn0524 – Granted this is one of the most interesting AARs, yet will they pull it out from behind? It is definitely a good read!
    The War Path (HOIDD) by Kurt_Steiner – It will be interesting if Peti and Kurt can prove their worth, I certainly hope so!

    Crusader Kings:
    The Grand History of Croatia - A Mega Campaign AAR by CountArach – Mega campaigns are a crowd attractor but continuing numerous games is a difficult task. But please read as the more comments the more will an author has to get through the tough parts.
    Chronicles of the Golden Cross by AlexanderPrimus – This new author has gotten tons of attention, but will he make or break? Let’s hope he makes it!

    Libertad o Muerte! - AARgentina by Treppe – A great AAR that started off hitting the floor running, but with a computer problem, we are hoping that this will be able to continue.
    Stiff Upper Lip: A Terribly British History by Dr. Gonzo – I recommend this to anyone that has spare time, even if you are not British you will find this enjoyable. This could have a win in the ACA, but who knows.

    The Book of Saint John: Volume 1 by The Swert – Supposedly in the works in since December 2007 and has just landed in the EU2 forum. Too bad it has landed a little close to the ACAs or I would be expecting this to perform well, as with the author that has high hopes, surely this AAR will rise up too.
    Gesta Hungarorum (Deeds of the Hungarians) by Victor1234 – This AAR has gotten plenty of comments and views, but will it stand up in the ACA? This is the only ACA it will be competing in, so it is do or die. The EU2 AAR category will be tough this quarter, but I am sure it will be a close race.

    What’s going to win ACA:
    Favorite AAR:
    The Die Is Cast - Caesar's Civil War (705 AUC) by Rensslaer – Rensslaer has invaded the Rome forum and he took it by storm. Just like his other AARs expect to see this AAR set records and stay number 1 for quite some time.

    Favorite Narrative AAR:
    I, Silvagenus - A Rome AAR by English Patriot or For Rome's Honor by comagoosie – I have narrowed it down to these two. If a reader likes higher quality updates but spaced out over time, then English Patriot’s AAR, but if one likes many updates then choose comagoosie’s. I have a feeling that both AARs will perform spectacular in the ACA and it will be close to see who wins the category.

    Favorite Comedy AAR:
    The Adventures of House Eurpontid by Alfred Packer – We can all say that by reading this piece all put a smile on our faces. Sometimes we would have fits of laughter. Great AAR. Too bad it had to end so soon.

    Favorite History-Book AAR:
    Vis et Armis - the rise of Rome by StephenT – Stephen makes reading his AAR almost like reading a math textbook. He states how many troops he went into battle with, how many he lost, and what that percentage is. Though this is only a small portion it is part of an overall enjoyable read.

    Favorite Gameplay AAR:
    The Die Is Cast - Caesar's Civil War (705 AUC) by Rensslaer – Yup, Rens gets this one too, but close behind him is Carthage - a ruler of the seas by hjarg.

    Favorite AAR:
    Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? by canonized – No question about it. As long as there has been a category he can compete in, canonized has won. He could tell his readers that he is running in the gameplay category and I betcha that he would get votes in that area. But honestly, there has been votes casted for him in the history-book section. Really! I am not lying.

    Favorite Narrative AAR:
    Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? by canonized – again no question, though his lead my shrink due to Journey to the Far East - A Free Company Spin-Off (2008) by redwolf and Amric. This AAR brings the Free Company, a mercenary company, to life in EU3, and its readers are old forum members who have strict loyalties.

    Favorite Comedy AAR:
    There might be Vikings out there! Or: how I accidentally traded my wife for a halibut by Grubnessul – The comedy section of EU3 used to be the most hotly fought over spot. Anyone caught the ‘used to’? That was a while ago and now Grubby has staked his spot and will not give in.

    Favorite History-Book:
    Opening The Papal AARchives 1453-1792 by Bingo Brett – I am playing favorites here. I love this AAR and I will stand by it. The ways that Bingo Brett write is interesting and keeps you entertained throughout the whole AAR.
    NOTE: The Rebirth of England - Woodhouse Dynasty Part II by English Patriot is not going to participate in this ACA as he would rather focus on his Rome AAR.

    Favorite Gameplay AAR:
    BohemiAAR: An Alternate History by Qorten – Surprised? I bet so, but statistically there has never been an AAR that can claim two Favorite gameplay awards besides Sforza, so why not choose someone different? Yet with the slew of new IN AARs, I suspect the race to be close.

    Favorite AAR:
    The Setting Sun - Gotterdammerung, Japan 1944. by Remble – This won last ACA and I expect it to win this time too. The amount of readership is amazing.

    Favorite Narrative AAR:
    Weltkriegschaft by TheHyphenated1 – It tied last ACA but I believe that now since it has had a chance to grow and spread its wings that it will take this category surely.

    Favorite Comedy AAR:
    Britain first, a german 44´aar. by White Daimon – Smart, witty, and fun. It is a great laugh. The only place where you will see Germans babe watching in the Azores. This is a definite must read.

    Favorite History-Book AAR:
    Last ACA it was a 4-way tie, though I think I can narrow it down now. trekaddict lost the save file to "We will stand defiant!" a AH France AAR but has started up a new one, Against all Odds: The United Kingdom in World War Two, though it newness might affect voting. Legacy of Rome: A Byzantine AAR by Mr Hearts has finished yet the ending has mixed feelings, so this might affect voting. And I am sorry I can’t speak the language in Ett Skillnadernas Krig by Zuckergußgebäck, so the winner is…For King and Country Draco Rexus, truly an epic AAR and truly a great read.

    Favorite Gameplay AAR:
    The Ultimate War by Gul Brown – I am not sure how close this was to winning ACA last quarter but I am sure it will give Remble a run for his money.

    Favorite AAR:
    Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR by General_BT – No doubt he will win again, it wasn’t close last quarter and it won’t be close this quarter.

    Favorite Narrative AAR:
    Rome AARisen - a Byzantine AAR by General_BT – The same as above, I know, but this AAR will win again.

    Favorite Comedy AAR:
    Lo Llibre dels Feyts - The Book of Deeds by Kurt_Steiner – Peti and Kurt continue their adventure and their comedy. I am confident that they shall win.

    Favorite History-Book AAR:
    Heaven On Earth: Part One by asd21593 – This AAR gets the award for daring to do something like a ‘canonized’ but instead it is called ‘glorification’.

    Favorite Gameplay AAR:
    Knud Knýtling, Prince of Denmark (and other assorted tales) by phargle – The guy running the ACA has to win sometime, right? No, really, it is deserved. Maybe that and the fact, I can’t find gameplay AARs

    Let me first say that the background to Victoria kills my eyes, this may explain a thing or two about Vicky forum members. Note: Victoria was probably the hardest to choose winners, don’t know why, maybe because of all the great AARs there are.
    Favorite AAR:
    The Golden Nation- California (VIP) by DerKaiser – Surprise? Nope? Ok, so there is no surprise here. Just like with Timelines I foresee this to dominate Vicky in the future.

    Favorite Narrative AAR:
    The Golden Nation- California (VIP) by DerKaiser – but I must give a honorary mention to A Special Providence by Director, who has composed such a wonderful AAR.

    Favorite Comedy AAR:
    We AAR All Doomed! A Terribly Odd Prussia by Kaixxor – “Terribly Odd” how about “Terribly Old”. This is the only comedy that I could find in the Victoria forum and it happened to be last ACA winner too. The AAR is great, though. It is amazing what one can do with a dog. One thing is for certain though, Vicky needs a good laugh.

    Favorite History-Book AAR:
    Stiff Upper Lip: A Terribly British History by Dr. Gonzo – Dr. Gonzo has been close in this category many times. It is about time that he wins it, for it is deserved. Honorary mention, this author has the ability to make an election race interesting, Welfare of the Cantons: A Swiss AAR by robou, though it ended.

    Favorite Gameplay AAR:
    The World is Not Enough, a German WW1 AAR by Quirinus308 – In my opinion it is guaranteed for this to win, but I hope that others don’t give up because the underdog has to win sometimes.

    Favorite Graphics, Overall:
    Heaven On Earth: Part One by asd21593 – The best graphics and the best music, can’t beat that.

    Favorite New Writer, Overall:
    The Papal State:A Mission AAR for EUIII (In Nomine) by EUROO7 – This is his first AAR and like I calculated, receiving 20.5 posts a day, this must be a record for any writer, much less a first time writer!

    Honorable Mentions:
    This is for AARs that are going to do well in the ACA. AKA, this is the EU1/2 section with other AARs. Well mostly HOI AARs, there are just so many of them.
    Dreams of a Baltic State - Pomerania AAR by Emperor_krk
    Golden Horde - Scourge From The East by Duke of Wellington – In the past people have voted for this AAR in every category and amazing it has either won it, or has done very well.
    The Eagles of Avalon by Mettermrck
    Military campaigns of some of the finest warriors in the world - Volume 2 by Capt Janszoon
    Genghis Returns by Duke of Wellington
    Crossfires, a French AAR for HoI2 Doomsday by Atlantic Friend – Is he competing in this ACA, I don’t know, but if he does he will do good.
    Fatherland - Deutschland über alles by Kanitatlan
    Nihon Kaizo Hoan Taiko! (A Plan for the Re-organization of Japan) by Jon Young – You have to give this guy a treat for being away for half a year and then magically coming back to life.

    comagoosie is the author of For Rome's Honor
    Last edited by canonized; 01-07-2008 at 07:01.

  3. #3
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    You Like Me, You Really Like Me

    By Estonianzulu

    Everyone likes to win. It is human nature to enjoy recognition and praise. The thrill of winning an award, of being nominated and selected for promotion is an experience everyone wants to enjoy. You don’t enter a race to come in second, and you don’t play games to lose. This joy becomes all the greater when you are awarded this prize by those people you think of us your peers, or your superiors. Sally Field didn’t cry “You like me, you really like me!” because she came in second to Judy Davis. It’s the sweet taste of victory that makes any experience that much more memorable.

    Now, before I continue let me just say, winning awards isn’t everything. In fact, winning an award isn’t even the most important thing, or at least it shouldn’t be. We are not professional athletes, running a race to win the gold. Just like film stars don’t do what they do merely because they could one day win an Oscar, we don’t write just to win an OscAAR (or Crusader’s Chalice, or ACA). But most authors, especially authors for whom recognition is rare, or authors who are new, winning an award can be the ultimate validation.

    So the question now on everyone’s mind is, are the ACA’s working? I’ll be extraordinarily committal and say: Yes and No. It is impossible to define how the ACA’s should work, because all awards, in some way, are subjective. They are as much popularity contests as they are true definitions of expertise. And this, unfortunately, breed’s concerns like those raised by Discomb in April.

    Quote Originally Posted by Discomb
    This results is the suppression of new writAARs, who have a tough time breaking into the categories these monstrous AARs occupy for long periods of time.
    And Discomb has a valid point. It is clear that momentum can be difficult to overcome, and winners are often the same people over and over again, at least on first impression. So, if you believe that the point of the ACA's is to recognize new writers, and encourage those writers in their progression as writers, then the ACA's have failed. New writers may win major AC awards, but when they do it is often one in a sea of roll-overs. One AAR may win 3 or 4 times before another AAR breaks the pattern, and often that is because the previous AAR finished, or the author took a hiatus. This is not always the case, new writers can win. In fact, constantly writers win awards and recognition for their very first AAR. Even if they don't break out and dominate from the gun, the desire to improve will help any author become better at what he does. For example, in the most recent ACA's, (And in others in the past) the winner of the New Writer award also took home a game-specific award, and the overall Graphics award. So, while it can seem daunting, nothing I have said, or will say after, should deter you from writing, and doing your best.

    While Phargle did some excellent work in looking at the numbers, I think his approach is lacking in some key statistics that I would like to see. While there is an approximately 50% turn over in ACA winners, this is by AAR. The number of author repeats is actually similar, 99 times an author won an award he would win another in the same game next quarter, while 103 winners did not repeat (So, someone who wins an ACA in HoI has a 1:2 shot of winning an HoI ACA in the next quarter). While this seems to back up the belief that new writers win awards, it becomes a little more revealing when you look at the grant total of authors. 87 writers have won general (those being the game specific ones) ACA’s. Not including the first ever ACA’s (As these were just Vicky), there have been a total of 229 game specific ACAs handed out. 48 of those 87 writers have won more than once (despite 11 times having the game specific “Best Overall” go to an AAR that won no other category, and once having an AAR (by your truly) win “Best Overall” despite receiving zero votes for any other category). If we are to include the New Writer Award and the other various awards (Favorite Graphics, Favorite Overall, and Favorite Character Overall), the numbers stay very similar. Of the winners of the Favorite New Writer, 4 of the 10 have won awards in other categories (i.e. these four were already included in the previous data) . Of the remaining categories, two new authors are introduced who did not go on to win other awards.

    The question is, what do these numbers mean? Well, of the 48 winners who have won more than one ACA, 11 have more than 6, with Phargle and Duke of Wellington leading the pack at 12 each. Phargle, Wellington, Mettermrck, Rennslaer and Canonized combined have 55 ACA wins (47 if you only count the awards they've won after their debut as new winners) , which accounts for nearly a quarter of all ACAs handed out (only a fifth if we're talking about their subsequent wins). And although these members joined AARland from July of 2001 (Mettermrck) to October of 2006 (Canonized), none are from 2007. No winner of four or more awards has come from 2007 (a reasonable conclusion of course to draw given that we have only had 5 votes from that period). Regardless, all these numbers point to the fact that the winners of ACA awards tend to repeat, and those with long standing AARs tend to get repeat votes for repeat wins.

    Why this is can not be completely comprehended. Part of it is certainly momentum. If you are not following a certain sub forum as well as you would like but want to complete a ballot, you may just latch on to the favorite. The exact impact of such a thing has never been documented so we cannot know for sure if it even has a visible effect at all. Or, writers who encourage voters and post links will receiver more votes as a natural result. Newer authors tend to be less used to the styles and customs of AARland, and like most writers will improve over time. Therefore it is natural to assume that the older authors, and the established AARs would be ‘better’ to those who do not have a favorite. And, like all art, the AAR and the enjoyment of an AAR is a subjective thing. Who knows what makes you laugh, or what you find well written. One man’s Shakespeare is another man’s MadTV.

    The above was not a cry to reform, or a criticism of the system, but instead an observation. The ACA’s, by their nature, promote repeat winners. Like becoming a millionaire, they say its always easiest to start with your second million. At times, with or without justification, a perception has existed that new authors struggle to get into the category specific AARs.. Often new authors will break into the fold, but it is rare (though not impossible) for a new author to return if he does not repeat. Often times those on top have such great and well established AARs, that the only way to overcome them is to wait for a conclusion.

    That being said, it is not as if the ACA’s are bereft of new winners. Every quarter brings new names and new faces to the winners circle, as well as a multitude of newly nominated awards. Just knowing someone values my AAR enough to vote for it makes me proud to bursting. And I hope that new writers get that same swell when they see their name on the ballot. The fact of the matter is, no award is perfect, not the Oscars, not MVP’s, not school science fairs, and not the ACA’s. But what is important about the ACA’s is that they are awarded by your peers, your fellow writers. A collection of like-minded individuals, washed ashore aboard this tropical paradise that is the Paradox Forums, come together four times a year to recognize their favorites, promote their fellow writers and inspire each other to greatness.

    Another question that remains is how do the ACA numbers compare to other awards, specifically those granted from one author to the next (Writer of the Week, Character of the Week, and Weekly Showcase). For the Weekly Showcase, in the same period as the ACAs, 93 authors have won the award 114 times, with no author winning the award more than three times. WritAAR of the Week has been awarded 338 times to 238 recipients, which means 70% of the time the award goes to a new recipient, and no writer has ever won more than 4 times (with the top spot being shared by Coz1, Director, and Merich). Best Character has been awarded 74 times to 61 different writers (an 81% chance of being someone new), with 11 repeat winners led by Mettermrck with 3. When these numbers are combined, in this case at least the WoW and the Character of the week, as the showcase is unique by definition, the statistics look slightly different. Combined, WoW and Character of the Week have been given out 452 times, and have been won by 256 different writers. In this case, the percentage of new winners is closer to the ACA’s.

    Now, in both cases, with the ACA’s and the WoW/CoW awards statistics don’t tell the whole thing. An author who wins Favorite Overall in a game will likely carry one of the other categories as well, that is not a fault in the system but simply the nature of the award. And why not? Should we be surprised that our favorite overall comes from one of the other categories? I love History Book AARs, so my favorite history book AAR will likely be my favorite overall, it seems logical. Likewise, WoW and CoW occur every week, there is bound to be overlap. When a yet-unrecognized author is awarded WoW, he typically gains a little more attention, which may lead to a CoW. An author who is nominated for an ACA may gain more readers who see his story mentioned, which may lead to other accolades. It is a self-fulfilling circle that helps bridge the gap between the new writers and the old, the establishment and the up-and-comers.

    Now, briefly back to the statistics. What these numbers show is that the awards given by members to other members, are more likely to be given to a new writer. Part of this may descend (in the case of Character Writer) from the age of the award. However, I believe the true root of this correlation is thanks to the style of award. Winners of the Weekly Showcase are given a full week to think of their replacement. They can look back over the list, and see who hasn’t won it, or who hasn’t won in a long time, and keep the award moving, likewise they have the entire depth of AARland to choose from. The ACA’s, as ballot-based awards, force the hand of the voter. If there are only three eligible HoI Narrative AARs, chances are good one of them is going to win it. Votes are also stacked against each other, there is no runoff election for the top spot. If AAR “A” wins 40% of the vote, while AAR’s “B” and “C” each take 30%, AAR “A” wins. So, voters who try and go outside the norm and vote for new guys tend to be overcome by those who vote for the established AARs. Nonetheless, every year over two hundred AAR's are recognized by the ACA's and weekly awards and over a thousand are recommended in each ACA quarter. Each time you see someone post a public ballot to the ACA vote thread, there are dozens of names and titles for the world to see.* And even if only one or two new readers pick up and read these nominated AARs, that’s progress.* Just remember, although we all want to see our name in lights and hear our list of accomplishments read out, none of this would be here without all of us.* This is not to assign a value to either style, but merely to point out the differences in what the awards are.

    All of this leads me to my final point.* When you go to vote, or go to give an award, think about what you believe the award is about.* If you think the ACA should be used to recognize your favorite AAR, and your favorite authors, vote that way.* There is nothing wrong with that, in fact its admirable!* We want to encourage our friends on the forums, drive on their desire to write and read.* If you think ACA votes should promote newer AARs to encourage new authors, vote that way.* Don’t let anyone else tell you how you should or shouldn’t vote.* Remember, every quarter, you see a slew of votes, with each including a list of great AAR's for you to check out.* So, while winning is sweet and the taste of victory delicious, remember we all eat at the same table.

    (Author’s Note: Some numbers may be inaccurate due to the odd hours I am forced to work this week)

    Estonianzulu is the author of “Footsteps of illustrious men”

  4. #4
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Good evening and welcome to You've Been Canonized, the weekly interview segment we usually host on Timelines but tonight, on the AARlander, we bring you Phargle, author of Knud Knýtling, Prince of Denmark (and other assorted tales), watch as we delve into the very thoughts of this enigmatic AARlander, I'm your host, canonized, and without further ado, lets begin!

    Part I: Phargle, and other assorted tales
    Meet the man behind the dynasty!

    canonized - First ! It's been a long time coming , old man but you're finally on the show ! Tell us a little about yourself , please ? XD

    Phargle - A little? I like chihuahuas, maintain a blog largely about what I eat, have successfully broken a nail-biting habit of 31 years, and keep kosher with varying degrees of failure.

    canonized - How was it that you first came upon the Paradox forums and eventually to AARland ?

    Phargle - It all happened by accident. I was in an Electronic's Boutique and saw EU1 on the shelf for a dollar, and then came to the forums to find out why rebels kept kicking my ass. From there, I found AARland and figured I could write good stories too. That idea quickly went away and I was gone for awhile after that until I started playing Crusader Kings.

    canonized - One of the most notable things you've brought onto the forum is perhaps your sharp wit and engaging humour ! Does it come naturally to you or is this a culmination of something you've focused on in your life ?

    Phargle - It's a defense mechanism rooted deeply in the uncomfortable feelings conflict elicit in me, and serves as kind of an avoidance tool to mute actual emotional responses. There's also a bit of conscious effort in humor, in that a happy life is a life worth living, and I like to live according to the philosophy that every day is the best day in my life. Oh, and it's also easier to be rude and say blunt truths if you do it with a smile.

    canonized - Well speaking of talking bluntly , tell us your thoughts of AARland of your AARland experience , please !

    Phargle - Hm. Inclusive and a bit weird, I'd say. From a creative writing perspective, AARland has created an engaging and supportive atmosphere that celebrates writing as a craft; I like that. At the same time, it sometimes goes a bit far because there is a bit of a. . . well, an atmosphere or an attitude, I guess, that criticism of any sort is be frowned upon. The only way you know as a writer that you've screwed up is when people just don't say anything, and that's not as useful in developing our talent. I like AARland and consider it a kind of sheltered, innocent place where I can indulge in some real silliness, or some real seriousness, separated from the chaos and (frankly) unkind Internet as a whole.

    canonized - Part of the way you give back to AARland aside from just writing for the AARlander is also your effort as the new AARland Choice AwAARd Czar . For anyone out there who might not be familiar with it , could you tell them what the ACAs are and your thoughts on it ?

    Phargle - Isn't there an official tagline for this? The AARland Choice AwAARds! AARland's only award with no nomination round! Or something like that. . . well, I'd say that the ACA is a fair, community-driven award that celebrates excellence and encourages a diverse group of artists to excel. It's available but exclusive, prestigious but democratic, elite but achievable, and coveted but shared. I kinda think it developed by accident, but we'd be hard-pressed to intentionally design an award system as good as the ACA. And I love it as if it were a part of my body, preferably a part in my swimsuit area.

    canonized - Being the new manager of the system means that you'll not only be running the thread but also tallying the votes and checking if people unwittingly made votes for AARs that weren't eligible in that time period of voting , what are you feelings about taking on this task ?

    Phargle - I am officially elated and completely prepared to take on the straightforward task of announcing the beginning of the ACA for 2008 Q1, nudging people to vote, nudging people again, asking people why they haven't voted, checking votes to make sure they haven't voted improperly, tallying the results, getting it wrong, doing it again, and getting the results out in time for the AARlander.

    canonized - You volunteered for the task which was first spearheaded by anonymous and then tried for one quarter with coz . Is there anything you're going to do with the process that might be different from your predecessors ?

    Phargle - Nothing whatsoever. I've run the ACA before and will run it just like anonymous would run it. I promise to not be a jot less crotchety, neurotic, or put-upon than my illustrious predecessor would have been. To do anything less would just be irresponsible.

    Part II: Don't worry! Cliff Notes might be in the works!
    Phargle, Timelines, and required reading allusions!
    [This Section Not Included. You can read this section at this link here]

    Part III: I send all my problems to...
    Meet the Knytlings!

    canonized - I have to say that Knud Knytling is an institution in itself ! Could you tell us why you started the AAR ?

    Phargle - I love being the center of attention. I'm so lonely. . . . er, I mean I wanted to create a simplistic collaboration of complicated literary themes in a visually-simple yet compelling format. Actually, I lie; it's the first answer.

    canonized - Haha , Knud Knytling could perhaps be credited with creating if not maturing a genre of comedy AAR that is emulated throughout AARland . Where do you get your material for your comedy ?

    Phargle - It depends. In the more routine updates, I just sort of try to produce a mishmash of juvenile crudeness that draws from the screenshots but also comes across with a sort of urbane aloofness. It's why I can tell potty jokes without coming off as a twelve year old. With the more complex stuff, like the Shakespearean play updates, I have to spend a lot more time making them work and I blatantly steal any idea that isn't nailed down. And the musical updates just relied on a talent for filking. The variety of updates requires a variety of sources for humor, and it just means I have to be nimble and hope what I toss out there sticks. Sometimes it sticks.

    canonized - You mentioned adding in portions of Shakespearean play updates ; do these elements perhaps point to other genres you'd like to try your hand in or do they just happen to be what's hot in your wit at the moment ?

    Phargle - They're elements of sheer desperation, canonized. When grasping at straws to come up with something, anything original and unique to make a new chapter seem funny and witty, you sometimes stick your hand in the jar and come out with sonnets. And sometimes you come out with poop. I got lucky with the bolt from the blue Shakespearean update. As it happens, I'm also a fan of epic poetry and was struggling to give myself the mental regimen necessary to do more of it, but didn't yet succeed. A lot of it is banging my head against a creative wall to see what squirts out. I'm a poet first and foremost, but I don't want to inflict that on readers overmuch.

    canonized - Could you share with us perhaps some of the triumphs and challenges you've had while writing ?

    Phargle - Challenges are on my mind first and foremost, and are really the motivation for the current column I'm writing. You know that swami that climbs to the top of a pole and balances there? A lot of people might ask themselves how he got up the pole, but that's not really that hard; heck, maybe somebody put him there. What we really oughtta ask ourselves is how he manages to stay balanced up there. It's hard, once you break out of the cycle of updates on top of updates, to maintain the momentum necessary to be number one - and I'm, despite all appearances, not an unproud man. I like to win, I like people to like my work, and I like to succeed. It's hard to maintain that pace, while also maintaining originality with each chapter, while ALSO maintaining the same themes that attracted readers in the first place. I've basically failed in that by growing distant from the story in the past year. I used to have a new Knýtling every two weeks, and then went a year with one king. If that doesn't make it stagant, nothing will. And it did. As far as triumphs, I am very pleased with the story and with how it progressed. I never meant it to be a character piece, but the characters have come alive in very real, distinct, and unique ways. I want to revisit them again and again. The musical numbers make me smile whenever I reread them for inspiration. The 'fins' are often a great chance for artistic twists and I love 'em. And the Shakespearean chapter is my pride and joy. It has hidden depths even I haven't quite gleaned out of it yet, so each time I read it I think: man, I did that? Me? Me?

    canonized - Lastly , do you have any AARs in the future you're thinking of that you might pursue after or concurrently with Knud ?

    Phargle - I've done a few already - Solomon, the pope thing, some other pope thing, and a few others I've tried but just sucked at. They say - well, I mean Joss Whedon says - if you can do comedy, you can do drama. I really want to do an intensely well-written dramatic tale. I tried it with Solomon, but he never got the readership necessary to make me want to keep going, even though I have all the screenshots ready and waiting for me to make words for. I know I can do it, and just need to do it. After Knud? I don't know. When you say that to me, it's a bit like asking me what I'll be doing after I'm dead. You just freaked me out.

    canonized - Thank you very much for being on the show , phargle ! It was definitely an experience ! We thank our audience for tuning in and if you'd like to see more interviews , tune in to Timelines for an interview every week ! Please don't forget either of phargle or me in the upcoming AARland Choice AwAARds and please go out and vote ! Good fight , good night !

    canonized is the author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World?
    Last edited by canonized; 01-07-2008 at 03:04.

  5. #5
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    The Weekly AwAARds for June 2008!
    By SPL


    The first AAR to win the Weekly AAR Showcase AARward was asd21593's Heaven on Earth:Part one. There are several things common to each update, graphics, mood music, and a good mix of the history book and narrative writing styles.

    The second AAR to win the Weekly AAR Showcase AARward was FYROM's A Greater Netherlands. While reading it a strong sense of Role-playing is felt, each update feels different, as they are all focused on one aspect of the game.

    The third AAR to win the Weekly AAR Showcase AARward was EURO007's The Papal States: A Mission AAR. It is a very unique AAR, EURO007 follows the missions given to him, and once EURO had fulfilled most and was getting generic ones to build manufactories, EURO decided to let users submit custom made missions to him.

    The forth AAR to win the Weekly AAR Showcase AARward was The Wookie's French for BeginAARs. French for BeginAARs shows many of In Nomine's new features. It also shows a nifty little plan to take the English down.

    Fan of the Week

    Thanks for the comments!

    The first Fan of the week was Mettermrck, chosen for his many AARland spanning comments!

    The second Fan of the week was Emperor_krk, celebrated as being the number one EU2 AAR fan of the week!

    The third Fan of the week was Prawnstar, valued especially by Rennslaer for his perceptive comments, and no doubt by the whole of AARland!

    Character Writer of the Week

    We had a little "delay" with the Character Writers AARward this month, but we got a few in.

    The first Character Writer of the week was TheExecuter, for his fantastic AAR The Last Mission, TheExectuer has been able to describe his characters with incredible detail, without the generic words "x was a man with a temper...etc.."

    The second Character Writer of the week was Director, author of A Special Providence, if you are going to read it, prepare yourself for suspense and cliffhangers!

    Writer of the Week

    The first Writer of the Week was merrick, author of Screaming Popes, merrick finished the AAR this month, watch God's will and see the heathens be converted!

    The second Writer of the Week was Director, author of A Special Providence, like I said earlier, prepare for suspense!

    The third Writer of the Week was two people, Amric and Redwolf, for their AAR Journey to the Far East - A Free Company Spin-Off (2008), The Free Company is back, need I say more?

    The fourth Writer of the Week was comagoosie, author of For Rome's Honor, can Julius Ceaser conquer Gaul with 14,000 men?

    The fifth Writer of the Week was capibara, author of Italy: Tales of Friendship, Treason, Love and Death, a plot to kill the Pope, war with Milan, action doesn't take a break here!

    SPL is the author of
    Moldau, Moldavia, Moldova - Mare, Mareata, Magnifica

  6. #6
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    The inkwell and its first month in AARland.
    By robou

    So it is about a month since the Inkwell was opened for service, and it was covered in the last AARlander about its use. Now, a month on, it is time for a status report, and I will be looking and how it has progressed, what it has done for the AARland community and some of its highlights. I will use a short interview I had with Lord Durham to try and support my report.

    Firstly, we must look at hard figures and facts. The Inkwell has over 70 people using it to advertise their AARs. While this represents only a small percentage of the WritAAR population, it is by no means and easy effort to get that many ‘stakeholders’. The numbers will grow eventually, and I have been watching the Inkwell grow by one or two writers per week since its first burst of ‘stakeholders’ had ended. So if we do some optimistic maths that will be over 122 writAARs advertising by the end of this year. In support of this… cue Bruce:

    Robou: Firstly, one month on and you already have over 70 people advertising on the Inkwell. Did you ever expect it took take shape and attract so
    many people in such a short space of time?

    Lord Durham: I wasn't sure what to expect. Each initiative is met with varying degrees of success. If I knew the magic formula, I'd patent it. However, the
    response has been pretty good, though I know there are quite a few WritAArs
    out there who either haven't bothered to utilize the Inkwell, or haven't
    discovered it.
    So there you go, he is happy with the effort, but those budding WritAARs who haven’t yet made an advertisement yet, drop the quills and get out the ‘Advertising Made Easy’ book.

    Another good thing that we have seen come from Inkwell is the annihilation of the ‘Signature Substitute’ pages, which have plagued the OT forum for so long. It has also freed up space so that people don’t try and cram in as much into their signatures, in regard to the ‘10 line rule’, and can now keep their ongoing AARs on their signatures and sticking the abandoned and completed AARs in the Inkwell. No doubt many have praised this as it saves valuable space. Lets see what Bruce has to say about the actual usage of the Inkwell to save space:

    Robou: We know that you set this up, mainly, to save on all the threads headed up 'Signature Substitutes', but do you see any further use in it,
    and have people trawling through it to look for what they like?

    Lord Durham: Actually, the idea was germinating before I saw that thread. No one was using the bAAR anymore, which was designed to publicize AARs, and I felt we, as writAARs, were hampered by the 10 line signature rule. When I saw the
    'signature substitute' thread I thought it was time to implement the
    Inkwell. As for further use, I leave it to the imagination of the various
    There you go, need I say anymore…?
    Well, yes in fact. Some concerns were voiced about the Inkwell taking over the LibrAARies, as simply a bigger and better version. But are they really that? As far as I know, none of the LibrAARians have voiced any complaints and therefore, this would account to nil. However if you are in doubt, then I’m sure Lord Durham can help reassure you:

    Robou: In anyway did the Inkwell affect the use of LibrAARys? I saw one person voice a concern that it was simply a bigger and better
    self-written LibrAARy for all the fora.

    Lord Durham: It's a fact of life that some people are born to complain. The Inkwell serves an entirely different function than the various librAARies. The
    librAARies are designed to compile a concise, alphabetical list of all AARs
    in a particular forum. The Inkwell is strictly about personal advertising.
    If I thought one initiative would detract from the other, then I wouldn't
    have bothered, especially considering I created the original LibrAARy.
    However, let us not dwell on such trivial matter. Rather than what the Inkwell might have been or done, let us look at what positive effects it has had. Have people been reading up on the Inkwell to see what they could find? The answer seems to be yes, although most adverts seem to be simple signature substitutes. There is definitely evidence to show that some people are trawling though and picking out what looks good and ‘hot’.

    Robou: Have you seen any marked higher interest in certain AARs due to the Inkwell, and people do the things in the question above?

    Lord Durham: That's a good question. I know Rensslaer has attributed the Inkwell to an increase in readership, and others have commented on the prodigious output from some of the authAARs. Whether that has translated into more views is something the Inkwell 'stakeholders' could answer better than I. As for the
    second part of the question, I've seen some extremely imaginative layouts.
    And suggestions are always welcomed at the Feedback thread.
    I myself can certainly attest to seeing a few people say they have linked to certain AARs via the Inkwell, and I am using that example you sent me Comagoosie .

    It is finally out. I saw you advertise this in the Ink Well saying you have been planning this since Dec 2007 and I can definitely see why. It is brilliant!
    So what did we, the users of this great innovation, have to say about the Inkwell? Mostly, it was something along the lines of ‘Lord Durham you are great, why aren’t you ruler of the world? Nice work’ which would lead us to think that it is a good idea; and yes, it is (as if I was trying to disprove it). However, through some comments that actually wrestled with some things people didn’t like about the Inkwell, what has Durham improved? Well not a lot really, as there weren’t many complaints. One thing that was on Lord Durham’s mind was the size of images, which was changed as he came to a final decision. Let’s see if he can fill us in on that:

    Robou: Reading through the Feedback thread, it is clear that many, many people thought it was a great idea, but is there anything that was
    modified because of user feedback?

    Lord Durham:Beyond getting people to actually read the rules, the hardest part was figuring out a cap for graphic sizes. I didn't want a page to load like a
    graphics-heavy AAR. Not everyone is on broadband. It took me a while to come
    up with a hard number, and that was based on sampling the graphics people
    were posting. The current level of 150kb appears to work well, especially if
    everyone realizes that .jpgs and .gifs make a smaller footprint than a .bmp
    or .png. Converting is simple.
    But despite this, several people have been using that precious space and size well. Phargle was especially concerned about the size of his entry, so tried to keep it small. But are there any that impress you? There are certainly some that have great images and interesting writing, but not to let anyone feel left out, they are all special in their own way. I took great delight, for example, in reading certain peoples introductions to themselves, and learnt some interesting facts, for example, that stnylan’s name is pronounces s-t-nylan, rather than me having to struggle to pronounce it all at once which turns my desk into a water feature. Is there anything that catches the Lord’s eye, though?

    Robou: You obviously made strict rules on how big pictures could be and such, but still quite a few users have made great use of their space and
    put in great graphics and interesting writing, including game synopses
    and personal introductions. Barring Phargle's unbeatable entry, are
    there any displays you enjoyed seeing?

    Lord Durham:Kudos to the imagination of the various authAAR's for their great layouts. Off the top of my head canonized, English Patriot, thrashing mad, RGB,
    jeffg006, The Swert, General_BT, Lord Valentine, spl, Rensslaer and Dr.
    Gonzo have been extremely creative with their ad space. An interesting blurb
    and an accompanying graphic usually has me clicking on the link.
    So, there is your proof; make your Inkwell interesting and the big man might read it. That said, for all those who feel left out by that list; that was off the top of his head, and I’m sure he holds you all close to his hearts… don’t you Bruce?

    So, I hope this has proved to those who might have doubted, made people who trusted and those who have not yet advertised on it, that the Inkwell is worth your effort, and help support this great innovation by getting out the old book and writing a stunning piece for us all to trawl through. On behalf of myself and the AARlander, I would like to thank Lord Durham for his interview and you for reading.

    Keep advertising!

    robou is the author of
    "I'm sorry, you're not the only one..."

  7. #7
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    To re-draw the map, you need to be able to draw it!
    By snugglie

    I remember when I was relatively new to AARland, and had not or only just started my first AAR. One of the things I remember clearly is that I skimmed through quite many other AAR’s to get a general idea what people wrote about, and even if I saw an immense quality in writing the thing that impressed me the most was the graphics that some writAARs – I’m looking at you, thrashing_mad – used in their AAR’s. Now, since I’ve always been a real sucker for good graphics and graphical elements, I started trying out a few things on my own, and looked for general advices on the internet. Hours, hours and yet more hours later I felt that I was on the track of something that could turn out really well, and so with the constant encouragement from me readAARs I developed a skill in mapmaking.

    Now, I do not claim to be a graphics-guru – really, I’m just damned patient when it comes to copy-pasting and using MS Paint – but since there’s been requests, and since a pimped AAR often rises a little higher in the ranks, it is time for me to pass on my knowledge to future generations (remember who taught you!) but mind you, this tutorial is based on Crusader Kings. By having a blank map – we’ll return to what you’ll use this for in just a minute – for whatever other game you might make a map for, you’ll be able to apply it however.

    First of all, we need a blank map in which we can fill in the ownership of various provinces. For this, there are two different alternatives, being either the official blank CK-map or my own, revised blank map. That last one is my baby, I’ve spent an immense amount of hours in MS Paint creating it – you heard me right, MS-effing-Paint – and it is a little gloomy seeing it walk out into the wide world on its own legs. *sniff* They grow up so fast… Anyhoo, be careful with her.

    Now, open her in MS Paint and crop the region you want to create a map for. You can of course go for a world map, but I promise you, then you need the patience of a saint. In this example I will use the British Isles. When cropped, it should look averagely like this:

    Fig.1 Blank map in MS Paint
    Now fill it in properly. In my example I will assume that Britannia did not get overrun by Vikings or Moors, but actually had a relatively logical development. When each country’s controlled territory has been filled in, use the paint brush to brush away the internal borders of each realm. Your map should now look averagely like this:

    Fig.2 Filled-in map in MS Paint
    Quite neat, don’t you think? Of course, you can settle for this and use it in your AAR, but if you want to make it shine just a little brighter than the masses, I recommend you to continue reading, even though the tricky part is now on its way. Before proceeding, please remember to choose to use either a bright or dark palette, so that you will be able to add either black or white text to the map later on.

    In order to proceed, you need to have Gimp 2.4 installed on your computer. It will probably help you if you are a little familiar with the program, but if you are not you will learn, trust me. What we are doing is not as complicated as it may seem when you have done it a few times.

    When you’ve got Gimp installed, it is time for the most tedious part of all in creating a map; we need a texture for it, preferably something parchment-like. The easiest way to do this is to have a rather big parchment-layer that you crop before the making of every map, but for simplicity I shall create a new one when making this one. It is based off of a tutorial I found on a forum regarding Gimp, created by a guy called devvv, so some kudos goes out to this for me completely unknown guy.

    First of all, pardon be for having the insolence to have a Swedish Gimp – all instructions will be in English though, so don’t worry. Now, right-click on your map-picture and choose to open it with Gimp. Your window will now look like this:

    Fig.3 Filled in map in GIMP 2.4
    Since it will be needed throughout the whole thing, press CTRL+L to get the layer-dialogue up and showing, unless it already is. Since it will not be used in the making you can turn the picture of the map invisible.

    Fig.4 The layer-dialogue
    Now create a new layer, set the colour to ‘black’. Now, change your foreground-colour –you do this by clicking on the colour-filled square over-lapping the other in the main-window; the standard colour of the foreground colour is black, and the standard colour for the background colour is white –to #bc8b46.

    Fig.5 Changing foreground-colour
    Now go to Filter/Noise/RGB-noise and type in the following values, as seen in Fig.6:
    Check the square next to “Independent RGB-channels”.
    RED: 0,20
    GREEN: 0
    BLUE: 0
    ALPHA: 0
    Next, go to Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur and put it on 10x10, as seen in Fig.6.

    Fig.6 RGB-noise to the left, Gaussian Blur to the right
    Next step is to add the real texture to this thing. Go to Dialogues/Channels to open the Channel-dialogue if it is not already open, and click on the second button from the left in the lower left-hand corner to create a new channel. You can name it whatever you want, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll name mine “crinkle”, for that is the effect we want to create. Put the opacity to 100%.

    Fig.7 Creating a new channel
    Now click on the “crinkle”-channel in the channel dialogue to make sure it is active. Then go to Filter/Render/Plastic Noise – I don’t know how this goes for the English version, and so it is shown how to find it in Fig.8 – and then fill it in according to Fig.8.

    Fig.8 How to find the “Plastic Noise”, and how to fill it in
    For next step, turn off the visibility of the crinkle-channel in the channel dialogue. Click the brown layer in the layer dialogue to make it active. Apply Filter/Lights & Shadow/Lighting Effect and type in the following values:
    Type: Directional
    Color: White:
    Direction: X: -2,25 Y: 1,75 Z: 1

    Glow: 0,5
    Bright: 0,75
    Shiny: 0,12
    Polished: 20

    use the "crinkle"-Channel
    Max Height: 0,01 (although you can also use 0,02, depending on what you prefer)
    Your picture will now – hopefully – look averagely like this:

    Fig.9 How your picture hopefully looks right now
    Congratulations, you have now – I repeat, hopefully – managed the hardest and most tedious part in the mapmaking-process! Before continuing, go get yourself a cup of tea and a cookie, you’ve earned it.
    Back again? Marvellous. Now, and by now I believe you are getting at least a little hint of what Gimp is about, go to the layer dialogue and make the parchment-layer invisible. You can throw away the black layer. You are now watching your own picture. By pressing the add text-button, signified by having a letter on it – surprise, surprise – you can now add text with desired font and size. The one used by me in Fig.10 is Lucida Blackletter, size 18.

    Fig.10 Your map, with added names of countries
    It all looks rather nice, or what do you think? But a thing that can bother me at least, is when the names of the realms are crossing borders, it looks awfully messy. This can be helped by pressing the rotate object-button, marked in Fig.10. Before attempting to rotate them, please note two things; 1) when you have rotated a piece of text it is transformed into an object, i.e. the text cannot be edited and 2) for each piece of text you have added, a new layer is created, i.e. if you want to rotate ‘Scotland’, you will need to mark the layer called ‘Scotland’ first. After having rotated the pieces of text you deem necessary, it is time to add the final touch to your map.
    Go to the layer-dialogue, and make the parchment-layer visible. In the drop-down menu by the top of the dialogue, choose “Multiply”, and then set the opacity to 50%. The result is shown in Fig.11.

    Fig.11 A hint on how your map ought to look by now
    Now, to save this masterpiece and use it for the future, press Shift+CTRL+S to “Save As…” The standard saving-format for Gimp is .xcf, a file that can only be seen when using Gimp. Instead, save your file in .png, e.g. “example-mapfilledin.png”. Then open it in MS Paint again, and, using the simple rectangle-tool, add a frame. Here you can go as creative as you please.

    Voila! Congratulations, you are now a certified – and Snugglified, harr harr – mapmaker!

    Of course, if there are any question-marks you want straightened out into handsome exclamation marks, if you went astray somewhere in the procedure, of if you’ve just got a general comment, you can contact me via PM.

    ‘twas nice tutoring you, and I hope you’ve learned something. That’s all for me; thank you, readAARs, for your time and thank you, canonized, for your space. Also thanks to all readAARs and commenters in Lotharingia for giving me tasteful advises on my mapmaking.
    snugglie is the author of Lotharingia - A tale of resurrection

  8. #8
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    The American Myth: Liberty Soldiers of the American Revolution
    By Eber

    With any great event, stories will erupt speaking of heroic acts, brave men and remarkable feats. These stories are usually the only account historians have in determining what is fact and myth. It has become difficult in some cases to rid popular myth from the educational viewpoint in our schools and culture. The American Revolution being the foundation of our nation stands to reason that it would hold sway on the imagination and folklore of our country as a whole. An enormous amount of pride is given to the men and women who fought and died in the war that gave the thirteen colonies its independence and the western world a new rising power. Many stories are contributed to these men and women that often time their acts are enhanced to create more popularity and intensity in the noble action that they took part in. Other times, the truth behind the war could be overshadowed to prevent any disdain that may arise from the populace that could tarnish the pride and respect of our symbols of independence. Due to this, the reality of the war would be watered down and myth would saturate the truth. One popular myth that is still engraved in the minds of Americans to this day is that of the citizen-soldier in the War for Independence.

    The image of the common citizen dropping his plow and picking up a musket to defend his home and country is one that is known and looked upon with pride in America. It is a symbol that has been the subject of countless pictures, books and a focus in modern media that is an accepted reflection of the patriotic duty that is shared by all Americans. However this image of the minuteman had a very brief life in the war and was replaced with a much simpler yet still noble image of men with nothing to lose but everything to gain.

    The War for Independence was not a glorified affair. Sweat, blood and tears soaked the ground that it was fought upon. However, like any other war where patriotism and bravado is high in the early stages, countless men would enlist to give their own mark on the war and hopefully make an impact. Yet, as the war raged on and the horrors of battle became commonplace among the men who serve, it became increasingly clear that the majority of men were unable to handle the physical and mental challenges brought about by war. As it has been seen through history, it takes a certain type of man to be a soldier that can experience the atrocities of war. The American Revolution was a hard, brutal and deadly experience. The Continental army under George Washington needed men who would not waver under hopeless odds or the bitter cold of winter when blankets were scarce and men shoeless.

    A very different picture can be painted of the common soldier in America’s first army. As many historians have come to understand, only a small portion of white American males of fighting age served in the Continental army under Washington and his generals. The people celebrated as citizen-soldiers became tired of service and stopped contributing to the war effort. This is an interesting insight to the popular myth of the citizen-soldier, for these citizens were celebrated as the foundation of the founding of our country. White American males who owned land or wealth in the colonies had the most to gain or lose depending on how the war ended. Yet, it would be these men who would lose interest in fighting for a war that they had started. It would be the ones who have a stake in society that would begin the war against Great Britain, but after 1776, the make-up of the army to defend that stake in society would not be comprised of these men, but ones who had no stake or in many cases no identity in the colonies at all.

    It bears to question exactly how this complete change in the army occurred and why it happened. It is pretty clear that the mythical minuteman would eventually disappear from the ranks of the army because they were short-term troops used mainly for defense and not long-term warfare. However, why did most of these men decide against joining the Continental army that was beginning to form in the early part of the war? The main reason was indeed the long-term enlistment required to be molded into a professional army that could rival the British in battle. Most white American males not only had families but farms, businesses and other assets that could not be unattended for too long. Besides the economical reasons for not fighting in the army, another reason is simpler. They didn’t have to fight. There were enough men without families, without connections to a community that could take their stead and fight for the cause of the wealthy and privileged.

    The men who enlisted in the Continental army had common attributes that separated them from the image of the citizen-soldier; their youth, poverty and no attachment to a particular community. The men who would fill the ranks of the Continental army were far from the celebrated image of the citizen-soldier. These men, in many cases immigrants from Ireland and Germany, would fight in a war for a nation that had given them nothing. The men would suffer through incredible hardships, mental trauma and certain death to fight a war that they neither started nor were given any promise of a better life if the war was won. The same men who joined the American ranks would probably have about the same life if the British continued to control the colonies as much as if a new country was formed.

    Though the men who fought had no stake in the society they were fighting for, there was a reason for these men to risk their lives for the cause. One such example was a man named “Long Bill” Scott who joined the Continental army and fit the description of the poor soldier with no home or identity. He joined the army not out of patriotic fervor, but as a chance to better himself. Since it would be the poor who would fight, the great bounties being offered by the Continental Congress lured many men to fight for a cause not their own. Scott would later be questioned after his capture on why he was fighting for the Americans. He would say, “As to the dispute between Great Britain and the colonies, I knew nothing of it; neither am I capable of judging whether it is right or wrong.” This is one of the best views into the mind of the men who were the majority of the army that won independence from Great Britain. Not only did these men not know of the personal struggle, but had no opinion on if it should be valid or not. All that these men cared about was betterment in life by procuring money through the use of bounties to possibly increase their own standing in a community later on.

    Through demoralizing defeats in the early part of the war, the poor man in the Continental army proved his worth to Washington and his generals. These men were accustomed to a hard life and no stranger to the impossible odds that life can sometimes give. As Washington would later describe his disdain for the mythic citizen-soldier, “Men just dragged from the tender scenes of domestic life; unaccustomed to the din of arms were almost worthless.” Washington knew that most white Americans of fighting age would not have the courage to fight in a long war, for their hearts and minds would be on their family and assets away from the battlefield. General Washington needed men who had nothing to lose but everything to gain. He needed men who could endure awful conditions in camp and in battle without losing morale. The only strong men that could face the perils Washington would bring were men with no stake in society, the poor and the lonely.

    The American Revolution was a poor man’s fight in a rich man’s cause. We must give notice to the forgotten men that helped gain the freedom that so many Americans take for granted. If it was not for these poor, daring men; the war would most likely had ended after the devastating defeats in New York in 1776. The entire American scene would have dramatically changed and the men who we claim as heroes today would be considered traitors instead. The minuteman played a very important role by helping to start the war and give the war a mythical and legendary status as the preeminent war of independence for any country, but soon they would be replaced by the only ones who could finish the job and win the war that the minutemen started; the poor but opportunistic commoner.

    Eber is the author of Scotland: A Far Cry from Bannockburn

  9. #9
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    Why we play
    By trekaddict

    First off, let me say that yes, this was inspired by Capibara's “Why we write” article in the previous issue. While I read this I got my idea for this one.

    As a German I always like to joke that Armoured Warfare is hardcoded into my DNA, and to a certain extent this could even be true. Back in the summer of 2007 I was searching for a new game to play on my ageing computer after being horribly disappointed by Warfront Turning point. I always was a hardcore RTS gamer, raised on a diet of Tiberium Conflict and Red Alert 1. In school I was sucked into World War 2, and I was searching for 'the' World War 2 RTS game ever since. Many promising titles came and went, each discarded for one reason or another, ranging from horrible historical errors to simply mediocre gameplay, as it was the case with Warfront Turning Point. At that time I had just finished yet another year at school and was searching for a game to play over the summer holidays. So there I was, browsing the depths of the Internet on the lookout for my newest obsession. One day I stumbled upon a screenshot of a Case Yellow campaign played in Hearts of Iron 1 and followed up, finally landing on the Gamespot article for HOI2. Initially put off by the less than stellar graphics I still read the review and by the end of the page I was already hooked and did not stop until a copy of Vanilla Hearts of Iron 2 was in my possession.

    I must say that I am a pretty obsessive gamer once I am really into a particular game. On my height as a gamer I could spend countless hours pushing Armies across maps. With Hearts of Iron things were different for several main reasons.

    The first was that the game was so incredibly vast and huge, beyond the scope of anything I had seen so far, vaster than I imagined possible both in terms of depth in the gameplay and the freedom said gameplay offers the user. Where have you seen a Japanese Invasion of the Continental United States or a German Airborne attack against Moscow and London?
    To be honest at the beginning I was completely overwhelmed by the scope of the game. I was raised on C&C where you build maybe 20 to 40 single units and now I was in a game where you could literally build hundreds of entire Divisions, everything from Militia to Panzers and missiles.
    Back in the original HOI2 there was no intelligence folder, but by the time I bought Doomsday I was firmly established in the game so it didn't really matter. The scope of different choices for your Armed forces were equally fascinating. If you should go for all-Infantry Armies or, like I prefer it, massed Panzer/Tank Divisions is not the topic of this article, but it illustrates the complete freedom of choice the game offers you.

    Another reason is that the game gives me the opportunity to 'fix' certain things that went wrong in the real history or where you get the “How could anyone be that stupid” urge to start eating your own arm when reading about it. When I started playing I often thought “I wonder what happens...” before deviating from what the history books tell us, from the aforementioned Airborne attacks to simply pushing on to Moscow instead of turning south. I can still remember how pleased I was when I took Moscow for the first time, or funny it was to actually land on the Japanese Home Islands in June 1942.

    As the time went by and I got my hands on Doomsday and later Armageddon the motivation to play on changed along with the game. In the beginning I mainly played to actually understand the game and its possibilities and to be able to fully utilize them I now played ( and still play ) only for mere entertainment. Seeing a British occupied Moscow or a German occupied Singapore isn't exactly the worst way to close a day, and creating a truly global Empire is more than a pastime, it is a mission, a mission to find different ways to achieve what you want a phrase true not only for Hearts of Iron but for all Paradox Interactive titles, and that is why I, why we play.

    trekaddict is the author of
    Against all Odds: The United Kingdom in World War Two

  10. #10
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    Inside Phargle's Brain: Everything I Needed to Know About AARs, I Learned From The Alan Parsons Project
    By Phargle

    This column could begin with some interesting commentary leading to a forced segue, but it seems it would be irresponsible to get started without explaining the title. The Alan Parsons Project, for those of you born after the fall of the Soviet Union, is a marvelous little modular band that did a lot of work with synthesizers in the 1980s. There's a movie about a wolf and a hawk and Rutgar Hauer in it with a lot of Alan Parsons in it as well, which is also the place where I first heard the name Navarre, and would incidentally be an awesome plot for a Crusader Kings game if you're not inclined to run one based on The Princess Bride. So, this little prog rock band has a lot of songs with catchy lyrics. I grew up listening to those lyrics, and it is from them that we're going to get a little inspiration on writing AARs today. Specifically, we're going to look at the birth, life, and inevitable heat death of an AAR, and how to avoid that death.

    AARs start big. Nobody ever starts small. They promise us the moon and the stars, and we believe it. If you're an enterprising sort, there's probably room for an intentionally-small style of AAR writing that involves setting low expectations and then failing to meet them. Most people do this by accident. Some people who I won't name but who are called Jestor have made it into an artform. In any case, nobody really means to start small, so an AAR begins with grand pronouncements of where you're going, how you're going to get there, and what will be awesome about it. AAR beginnings are all promises promises, just you, the audience, and the AAR catching each other's gazes in a smoky bar. From there, they grow. I wouldn't say the grow up so much as they grow out, more like the bloated kid in Akira than a child turning into an adult.

    . . . but the point is they grow, they change, and eventually they reach one of two states: momentum or death. By this, I mean the AAR will continue based on its own momentum, or it will fail spectacularly. And momentum is, in most cases, a form of AAR life support. The AAR may be in the hospital bed cracking jokes and eating candy, but we know it'll cave in as soon as we pull the plug. And that plug starts to look awful tempting when readership drifts and slips. So where do we go from here now that our AAR has grown up? And how do we spend our lives knowing nobody gives us a damn?

    This is where we turn to The Alan Parsons Project, which asks these compelling questions: Where do we go from here now that all of the children have grown up? And how do we spend our loves knowing nobody gives us a damn? Note here that I am equating children with AARs. Translating these questions back to AARs, we can see that I'm really working hard on a word count here because the lyrics are also the questions. You can thank Mr. Parson later.

    Much more seriously – and I hope that phrase doesn't make you flee this column in terror – an AAR that has grown up and reached a point of staleness can quickly become sucked of fun. Since we always start big, always planning to write an AAR to completion, the actual work of writing an AAR can become, well, work. For something that's supposed to be a hobby based on a hobby, that's a really tragic result. Writing an AAR should never feel like work, and a good author should never approach an AAR with the attitude that it's an obligation rather than a enjoyable experience. To put it another way, writing an AAR is like having sex. If you aren't having fun, then I'm not having fun either. And if you are having fun, does it really matter if I'm having fun? With that in mind, it may become useful from time to time to change things up, try something different, or play with expectations to produce interesting and unique results. I'm talking about writing AARs, not having sex, although your mileage may vary. You might be having sex right now. Regarding AARs, however:

    This can mean changing your tone from serious to silly.

    This can mean altering the format; perhaps an update in haiku form, or a musical update, for example.

    This can mean making narratively brave choices, like killing off a major character.

    This can mean revisiting a past chapter and presenting it in a new light. Did you read my last column? It was all about this.

    This can mean leaping ahead to the future. If you write AARs like I do, you're always looking ahead to some really cool scene you want to get to, and it sometimes takes awhile to get there, so why not just get there?

    This can mean a great number of things. The point is to do something, see what works, and start the process of growing once more. What you try may not work – but that doesn't matter. AARland is a forgiving place, and if what you're doing already is not working, is there really any risk in doing something else that isn't working?

    This brings us to the next step in the stagnation process: apathy. If momentum is really inertia, then a dearth of readership is another kind of inertia: the AAR is just sitting there getting ignored. Readership is the lifeblood of any AAR. Readers help feed the cycle of AAR growth. A good or promising AAR will attract readers. From there, a good update will attract more readers. On the flip side, a bad start will disinterest readers and a bad update will make a reader less likely to come back. Reader loyalty is a hard thing to keep and maintain, and it's even harder to get readers back when you've lost them. So how do we live our lives knowing that nobody gives us a damn? For this one, I'm not the expert. As promised, not only does The Alan Parsons Project ask, but it also answers: for, when it comes to the games people play in the middle of the night, you may sometimes find that you don't want to live in them anymore, and don't want to stay.

    And that's fine. Sometimes what a dying AAR needs is for somebody to take it out to pasture and put a bullet in it. The trick here is to not regard it as an end but rather a beginning – an opportunity, if you will, to begin anew. You don't even have to change your basic idea. Reinventing a beloved idea in a new format, or even in (especially in) the same format, is an excellent way of breathing new life into it. This is one of the concepts that makes mega-AARs so compelling, because we essentially get to see them "start over" in a way in each new game. And even if you start over in the same game, how cool is that? Imagine your favorite AAR from two, three, four years ago – now imagine the author starting it over from day one, with the same beginning characters, the same beginning ideas, and the same narrative concepts, but revisited and reimagined. Did you just get a little thrill up your spine? This is why we love cover bands so much. They take the familiar and make them fun. This is also why we like face lifts, but that's really beyond the scope of this column.

    And ending an AAR gives you a great chance to go out with a bang.

    If you don't want to kill your old AAR just yet, there are other options. You could outright ask your readers why your AAR isn't as good as it used to be. You could contrive an end to your current chapter and go on hiatus while you retool your ideas. You could go back and read your AAR from start to finish before writing your next update. You could read other people's AARs for inspiration. Stephen King said the way to be a successful writer is to read four hours a day and write four hours a day. Stephen King also got hit by a van, bought the van that hit him, trashed it with sledgehammers, and then the guy who hit him committed suicide on his birthday, so I wouldn't recommend doing everything Stephen King says, but all that notwithstanding, you can always beg, borrow, buy, or steal inspiration by making sure that you spend as much time reading as you do writing. And with as many cool authors as we have in AARland, how can you fail with that as your plan?

    And lastly, remember that inspiration can come from anywhere. In rambling out text to fill the minimum of two pages I must write if I don't want canonized to beat me again, I've randomly come up with at least three ideas for how to update my own AAR. If I can do it, so can you. You just need to sit down and write. If you can't think about what to write and you're just staring at a blank page, try writing about your AAR rather than for it, and see what comes. In describing your story to yourself, you're bound to churn out a bunch of ideas for where it needs to go next. And you'll reinvigorate in yourself the most critical tool of any good storyteller: enthusiasm. When you're riding shotgun with enthusiasm, there's no way your story won't attract readers. Readers can smell enthusiasm. They can also smell desperation. It's up to you which cologne your AAR wears.

    So read, write, and rock your AAR to the conclusion it deserves. AARland is littered with stories that just faded away, but you don't have to spend the rest of your AAR life quietly fading away. And if you succeed and your AAR takes off, you'll have to start asking yourself a different question – how you spend your AAR life when the world doesn't leave you alone, because of all the readers flocking to your creation.

    Phargle is the author of Knud Knýtling, Prince of Denmark (and other assorted tales)

  11. #11
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    A History of Byzantium – A review
    By crusaderknight

    Breathing history
    Veiled in mystery
    The sublime
    The greatest of our time

    Thus begins the refrain of the song “Miklagard Overture”, performed by Turisas. This song is one of many, many pieces written about the city of Constantinople, and of the Empire to which it was capitol for over 1,000 years. Perhaps one of the most discussed periods in all of western history, the span of the Eastern Roman Empire, better known today as the Byzantine Empire, is always a popular subject among professors, students,(and simple hobbyists) of history.

    Even here on our beloved Paradox Interactive Forum, the Byzantine Empire is immensely popular. Its greatest supporters have been called “Byzantophiles”, which is perhaps a rather accurate name. Here on our beloved forum, Byzantium (or “BYZ” as it is often called, in reference to the country tag in Europa Universalis) has been the topic of many a discussion and debate. Everywhere you look, there are Byzantine mods for every Paradox game out there. Well, okay, so there isn’t one for EU:Rome yet, but just give it time.

    Perhaps the most popular medium for Byzantium on our forum, however, is not game mods, or discussions and debates, but rather, AARs (After Action Reports). Everywhere you look in AARland, you find Byzantine AARs. People have written gameplay AARs, History Book AARs, Narrative AARs, almost every genre of AAR out there has at least one Byzantine AAR among its ranks. And do these Byzantine AARs restrict themselves to the games that cover its historical existence, namely Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis II? Of course not! There are even Byzantine AARs for Europa Universalis III, Victoria, and yes, even some in Hearts of Iron (I and II). There was even a Byzantine Mega Campaign which did not end with Hearts of Iron, but moved on to the game Galactic Civilizations II!

    Of this great throng of Byzantine AARs, some shine much brighter than others. The sheer excellence with which they have been written has drawn to them many devoted and enthusiastic readAARs. If I could, I would tell you of all of these exceptional Byzantine AARs. Indeed, if there were time enough, I would tell you all about EVERY Byzantine AAR. But alas, I can only write about one today. The Byzantine AAR which I will tell you about today is, in my humble opinion (as both an authAAR and a readAAR), the greatest Byzantine AAR ever written in the History Book format. That AAR is none other than VILenin’s “A History of Byzantium”.

    I first found VILenin’s AAR when it was still a baby. He began writing it in September of 2006, and I discovered it about a week and a half later, when it was only on its second page. He chose to write his AAR in the History Book format, because this style was his particular strength in writing, and he has shown this to be true.

    He begins with a brief summary of the Byzantine Empire’s history during the 11th century, and leads us up to the point where the game he is recounting actually starts, that is, 1066. From there, his game actually follows history rather closely at first, but as the years go on, the complexities (and the randomness) of the Crusader Kings engine begin to show. However, VILenin does a superb job of ensuring that the story always makes sense, and his style of writing truly feels like one is reading a history book that is recounting actual historical events. One is tempted to believe that this is how it really happened, and that is the mark of a true great in this genre.

    There is very little to criticize in this AAR. Sometimes, it takes many chapters just to get through a single year. But then again, when a year is very eventful, sometimes it is better to take the time to recount all of those events in three or four chapters rather than condensing them all into a shorter, single chapter. Perhaps the only other possible criticism of this AAR is that there have been times when VILenin was unable to post an update for weeks or even a month or two. But, in his defense, he, like all of us, has a life outside these fora, and real life must take priority over an internet forum. I’m sure most of us have had our long absences for one reason or another. I know I have.

    Aside from those two small points, there really is nothing that can possibly be criticized about this AAR. VILenin has told, and continues to tell, a very deep and exciting history that could have been. His fans remain faithful even when no updates come for a long time. His AAR is among the most viewed of all Crusader Kings AARs, with the number of views exceeding 18,000. It is interesting to note that out of all the Crusader Kings AARs, the number of AARs with more views than his can be counted on two hands. Now, I know that views don’t count for everything, but they sure do indicate that lots of people flock to his AAR, and for good reason.

    So if you’re a fan of History Book AARs, or if you are looking to try something new and exciting, then I recommend giving “A History of Byzantium” a try. You won’t be disappointed.

    You can find VILenin's A History of Byzantium here.

    crusaderknight is the author of Regnum Iudaeorum - The Lost Ten Tribes of Israel

  12. #12
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    "In the steps of Byzantines, Turks and Knights -- A short travelogue from Rhodes"
    By snugglie
    Interspersed between a sea with rapidly decaying fauna and the Norwegian Alps is Sweden. For about half the year, living in Sweden is like having a mosquito-bite; it’s extremely bothersome, yet you get some comfort through scratching it and swearing over it. To translate this lord of illogical metaphors, Sweden during late autumn/winter/early spring is, weather-wise, like living in a novel by Edgar Allan Poe; dark, gloomy and rather cold. However, when April ends and beautiful May arrives, the soul finds comfort and you actually tend to realize why Sweden actually is rather nice to live in, at times.

    However, since we had lived through the Cold Months once again, my family had decided that it was time for a trip to the warmth. It might seem illogical to you non-Swedes to leave the country only a month after it has become utterly pleasant, but there is one very good, yet inexplicable reason; no matter what, June tends to suck. At least the past years, it has been about as friendly as a very cold and wet place. Thus, leaving for the warmth once again proved to be a very wise decision.
    Since my parents had realised that if they’d ever travel with me again, they’d have to go somewhere else than the achingly uninteresting Canary Islands we had booked a trip to the birthplace of Western civilisation – when I say that in school, a friend of mine tends to start bellowing about Mesopotamia– Greece! Now, since Athens is eroding away under the weight of all too much exhaust fumes, and since Crete seemed to be a little too rocky and barren even for a regularly rocky and barren country like Greece, the destination was set to Rhodes.

    Since it is practical, and since Copenhagen tends to feel a little too far away for us, we left via our regional airport, Sturup – or as it is now called, Malmö Airport. It is a small place, although not small enough to be excused from various international security laws, something we learned when a security guard with a stern face and serious tone told us that we were not allowed to bring the half-full Fanta-bottle that lay in my sister’s backpack as hand luggage. Shame on us, and we threw it in a waste bin only to buy an identical for twice the price in the ‘secure area’.

    The plane left at the unChristly hour of 05:20AM GMT+1, meaning that we were all holily tired when the plane finally took off. Outside, it had started to rain.

    Arriving at Rhodes a little before lunch-time, we were struck by a dry heat that lay like a carpet over an airport that probably was modern around the time when Jimmy Carter was president. We took a bus from there to the hotel, a place with the highly suspicious-sounding name “Hotel Petit Palais”, situated in the north-western part of Rhodes City. The hotel was populated mainly by German pensioners and various Dutch people, with the occasional British and French family. Also on the hotel was a group of eight teenagers from and around Lund, where I go to school and dearly wish that I could have my residence. Being a charter-hotel we also found it a little odd that there apparently was a dress-code for the dinner at the hotel; no shorts or Bermudas were allowed, instead you had to wear long pants. Thus the first thing we did after having put our five bags at the hotel – one dented by an apparently violent luggage-carrier – was to buy a pair of pants for me, seeing as that I had come to the conclusion that you would not need long pants in a place where you have 30°C in the shadow.

    At dinner I and my brother could not help but feel slightly insulted at that women could walk around in skirts barely covering their buttocks, while sweat was gathering around our wrapped legs. Not that we complained, of course; we’re only teenage boys after all.

    Luckily, the trip was more than only transport, buying pants and looking at women’s skirts. Since we had payed for All Inclusive for all of us, we had free access to the bar at anytime from 0800AM to 1145PM, where we could get everything from soft drinks and water to GT and Löwenbräu beer, and a lot of time was so spent by the pool together with drinks gathered from the bar. Lying on a sun chair under the skin cancer-causing sun, reading a good thriller and sipping on a pink drink with the still suspicious name “Petit Palais Special” ought to be included in Encyclopaedia Britannica as a definition of both relaxation and vacation.

    A worryingly big part of the week was spent in above mentioned manner, but of course we put energy into having a look at the real Rhodes, the old Rhodes, as well. Sadly our encounters with local restaurants were second to none, with only one restaurant-visit outside of the hotel. The All Inclusive proved fatal, since we now had payed a large amount of money for a buffet that was either adapted for German pensioners, or made by people that simply had not grasped the concept of spice but were very well aware of the concept of oil.

    Our excursions out into the sprawling tourist city of Rhodes, housing 50.000 permanent inhabitants and a significant amount of tourists as well as a colony of mopeds, are best summarized through three walks we undertook – one I did alone, one in which the whole family participated and one where me, my brother and my father went on our own, leaving sister and mother at the pool.

    The first walk I undertook myself immediately after breakfast on the fifth day. Save a short tour that merely took us within the mighty city walls and out again I had not seen anything save the cluttering of hotels and restaurants that is northern Rhodes City, but I knew enough to unhindered find my way. Getting to the Old City took about twenty minutes, and as I walked past the chin-high, grey pillar marking the status of UNESCO World Heritage that the Old City holds, I was filled up with a sense for exploration. Three hours later, after having walked the smallest streets I could find, after having walked along Ippoton – the street going from the city wall straight up to the Palace of the Grand Master, built by the knights of the Order of St. John during their two-century-long stay at the island, and that houses the old quarters of the knights of the order – and marvelled at heaps of eroded stone-blocks marking old Hellenistic and Byzantine fortifications, I was content and steered my steps back towards the hotel. I was bathing in sweat and had finished my 1.5 litre-bottle of Volvic-water, and my mind was full of thoughts and reflections.

    The next walk commenced the next day, also immediately after breakfast. The first thing of three – the other two being the Archaeological Museum, housed in the old hospital of the order and visiting a restaurant – and also the most grand one was of course visiting the Palace of the Grand Master. The Palace, linked to a surrounding wall that in turn is linked to the city wall that still stands around all of the Old City, stands on a base built by the Byzantines for what then was the last post of defence for the city’s inhabitants. During the centuries of the Turk occupation from 1523 and forward it decayed. A remarkable event during this decay is the destruction of the adjoining church, which was accidentally blown up when powder that the Turks stored in it ignited – what is with the Turks and storing powder in historical buildings only to blow them up? They did the same thing with Parthenon.

    And so maybe the grand castle would only have been a pile of rocks, like the Hellenistic fortifications, weren’t it for the new owners of the island that arrived in 1916 – the Italians. For during the thirties, a certain fascist dictator would use the Italian treasury to nurse his historical interest – and the factor it held in his policies, of course – and do major excavation and restoration work both on Rhodes and in mainland Italy. In the ordinary entrance hall of the castle he is still mentioned in an honorary plaque.
    Walking in the Palace of the Grand Master – and yes, our friend Benito did use it as summer residence after having restored it – was overwhelming and highly impressive. Restored, yes, and thus not genuine – but really, what does that matter? The feeling of walking stairs were knights in full armour had walked half a millennia earlier is grand enough, and the restoration work was done in a marvellously skilled way. All in all it amounts to one of the most impressive buildings I’ve visited – and without bragging, I have still visited the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Notre Dame. Also in it are a few exhibitions; one on life on Rhodes through the ages, one on the time of the Knights on the island, and finally a large one regarding the Knights. It is hard to describe the place, and so I recommend all of you to sometime try to go there sometime in your life, during those short spans of time you are not lurking in AARland.

    The third walk was the one that drained the most fatigue; me, my brother and my father had decided to have a look at what seemed to be one of the forgotten places in this city o’tourists, namely the city’s acropolis. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Well, the walk there took us about 40 minutes and numerous consultations with the map, and when we arrived we had a temperature of more than 35°C and hardly any wind. The sight that awaited us was worth the effort, however.

    When arriving at the area marked out as the acropolis, there was a stadium for runners to the left, surrounded by five rows of seats. Straight ahead was a small amphitheatre in marble, and up ahead was – although it could not be seen from where we were standing – the temple of Apollo, or rather what was left of it. After having walked up three different stairs to get to said temple, the base of the temple was laid out in front of us, and to the right was a smaller temple, descended into the ground and dedicated to Artemis. The only thing left standing of the temple of Apollo was a corner, consisting of four pillars and a piece of the roof. Guess who raised it, and renovated this whole area? If you guessed our friend Benito – whom I, after this travel, have an extremely hard time to dislike… – again you are right! Here, have a lamp.
    After the acropolis, we walked back to the hotel via the Old City, where I also bought a present for my girlfriend from a jeweller-hippie in the south-western part. When I took the last steps out of the Gate of St. Anthony – the Old City is actually only accessible from about six places, being gates – I somehow knew that I would see this city again. Because to be honest, after having been so baffled and so impressed – and indirectly, all due to Benito Mussolini – how could I not?

    Next day, we flew home to Sweden. Upon our return, it was raining.

    snugglie is the author of Lotharingia - A tale of resurrection

  13. #13
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    The Franco-Prussian War
    By Sematary

    This is my first article for the AARlander, and even for anything with a reader count worth noting. So I am going to go with something safe and use a paper I wrote for my college history class. This is the first in a series planned for the AARlander about the Franco-Prussian war. This gives a short summery of the importance of the war then talks about its causes.

    The Franco-Prussian War was a war fought between France and the North German Confederation, with the Southern German States siding with the NGC, between the years of 1870 to 1871. This war was a defining moment in the 19th Century, and was the first war using modern weaponry. This war also had some of the most dynamic personalities of the Victorian Era. Both countries were changed by the end of the war, Germany ceased to be a geographical expression and became a country in and of its own, while the Second Empire of France fell and was replaced by the Third Republic.
    The causes of war in the Franco Prussian War were fairly simple. First was the growing strength of Prussia, and the fear that France would be overshadowed by Prussia. Add to this German nationalism, and the recent victory over Austria in the Austro-Prussian War. Another deciding factor was Napoléon III’s diplomatic blunders while the diplomatic genius of Bismarck worked to isolate France. The last thing that lead to the declaration of war was the monarch crisis in Spain.

    As the second half of the 1800s started going by and the American Civil War was ending a titanic clash was brewing in Central Europe. For most of the history of Grosser Deutschland (Greater Germany, refers to all land with German majority) the Austrian Empire was the dominate power. But as the second half of the 1800s dawned Prussia was rising up to rival Austria. This led to the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, in which Austria and its southern German allies faced Prussia, the northern German states and Italy. When the war ended after seven weeks Prussia was the firm power in Germany with the dominance that Austria had before that war. This war caused a great surge of nationalism in Germany as well as fears that Prussia would start to overshadow France.

    Ever since the first Napoléon, France and Prussia had not been on good terms. This was mainly because of how badly Napoléon had treated Prussia which had lead them to play a key role in the Battle of Waterloo with the Duke of Wellington. This strained relationship was not helped by Napoléon III and his court. Before the Austro-Prussian War Napoléon III had agreed to stay neutral as long as Austria was not given Venetia. By the time the war had ended Napoléon III had a bladder stone and had to go to Vichy to recover. While he was away from Paris members of his court decided to side with Austria over the war and had even sent soldiers to the border with Germany to insure that Prussia kept the stability, as soon as Napoléon III heard of this he rushed back to Paris to officially become neutral again.
    On the diplomatic front Bismarck proved his genius as he was planning for the future war that he saw coming. Napoléon III, on the other hand, was trying his best to keep up what he was doing. Yet what he did time and time again was to flip flop and make a lot of people mad.

    Napoléon III looked for support from Austria, Denmark, Bavaria, Baden, and Württemberg, as all had recently lost wars against Prussia. However, Napoléon III failed to get alliances from these countries. Denmark had fought Prussia during the First and Second Wars of Schleswig and was unwilling to confront Prussia again. As part of the settlement of the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, secret treaties of mutual defense were signed between Prussia and Bavaria, Baden, and Württemberg. What made them worth noting was that not only were they secret, giving Napoléon III a false sense of security, but Bismarck had used Napoléon III's earlier demand of territory along the Rhine to drive the southern German states into his arms. By these treaties, Prussia would defend all of the southern German states with her military power as long as their states joined the Northern Confederation in defense of Prussia. It was a bargain that would gravely threaten the French Emperor and his designs on restoring French pride. Bismarck also did everything he could to make sure that Russia would help him in case of a war. By the end of Bismarck’s talks with Russia, Russia had agreed to send a one hundred thousand man army against Austria if Austria joined a war with France against Prussia. The last nail in coffin was due to the stubbornness of Napoléon III. He wished to have an alliance with Austria to face Prussia in any future war but Austria would not join the alliance without Italy. On the other side of the coin, Italy would not join unless Napoléon III allowed Italy to take over Rome which the French Emperor was not willing to do. While Bismarck was vacationing at his country estate in Varzin and the crisis now intensified by France, ambassador Benedetti strongly urged Wilhelm I to talk Leopold into giving up the candidacy. Prussian senior foreign minister Baron von Werther, just back from Paris, agreed with Benedetti and supported peace. Without Bismarck there to say anything, the disinterested King Wilhelm asked for and got the prince to withdraw from his Spanish candidacy.

    Disappointed that the Prussians had backed down so easily, the French government tried to prolong the crisis. In a newspaper interview, Napoleon III announced that a renewal of the Hohenzollern candidature would result in France going to war. The French ambassador in Prussia, Vincent Benedetti was then told to make sure Wilhelm I would guarantee that the candidacy would never be renewed. When the French ambassador bypassed diplomatic channels and directly confronted the king at his holiday resort, King Wilhelm was "very polite but cooly categorical" in denying the French ultimatum. The king then sent a message to Berlin reporting this event with the French ambassador, and Bismarck edited it to make it as insulting as possible for the French government.

    The Elm’s Dispatch
    After the news of the renunciation of the Prince von Hohenzollern had been communicated to the Imperial French government by the Royal Spanish government, the French Ambassador in Ems made a further demand on His Majesty the King that he should authorize him to telegraph to Paris that His Majesty the King undertook for all time never again to give his assent should the Hohenzollerns once more take up their candidature. His Majesty the King thereupon refused to receive the Ambassador again and had the latter informed by the adjutant of the day that His Majesty had no further communication to make to the Ambassador.

    When this dispatch came back to Paris there was outrage among the nation. Soon afterwards the French mobilized their army and went to war. The problem with the mobilization was the fact that France had been reorganizing their army before the war and was still using old fashioned mobilization tactics. This lead to a slow mobilization while Prussia was able to fully mobilize all of Germany and bring it to the border with record time.

    R. H. Lord, The Origins of the War of 1870 (1924, repr. 1966);
    D. Clarke, ed., Roger de Mauni: The Franco-Prussian War (1970);
    M. Howard, The Franco-Prussian War (1981).
    F. Hoenig, Volkskrieg an der Loire, and L. A. Hale, The Peoples War.
    Eva March Tappan, ed., The World's Story: A History of the World in Story, Song and Art, 14 Vols., (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1914), Vol. VII: Germany, The Netherlands, and Switzerland, pp. 237-248.
    semetary is the author of America: The Guardian of the West.
    Last edited by canonized; 05-07-2008 at 03:01.

  14. #14
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    Politologists are Repulsive
    By Discomb

    I’m writing this in the hope of educating the (already mostly well educated) paradox community on a subject each and every one of us finds him/herself discussing with… shall we say… less than enlightened individuals. I myself take every effort to steer clear of politics (my grandfather is an acting minister), but last week I was discussing political philosophy with a very good friend, who just happens to be completely clueless on the terminology he zealously stuffs every sentence with. As soon as I got home, I gave Canonized a ring, and said that I’ll be writing an article. A fair warning though: I am condensing a lot of information and giving a bit of a personal interpretation of it, so some of it may appear a bit skewed or unexplained. Either way, here it is:

    To begin a discussion on politology without first defining the term “politics” is to drive onto the freeway with 4 flat tires. In truth, “politics” is not a nice word to define, if only because it is a noun, and is commonly associated solely with the chemistry that goes on in the higher echelons of government. Instead, Politologists approach the issue by defining the term “political”, and here I will avoid giving a classic quote of a definition, but rather substitute my own: Politics are a discussion between two (or more) people, charged with a perception of public benefit. “Public” here, is a very broad word that denotes any group of people that presumably the participants of the discussion belong to, but not necessarily. In other words, whenever you’re arguing with someone, and the concept of “good for the group” is involved, you’re doing politics. There’s a quote I love to use here, by the ex Russian premiere Viktor Chernomyrdin, who has issued a myriad of miraculous quotes in his time, but this one in particular is my favourite. He said, in a discussion on government budget, “Gentlemen, let’s not politicize the budget!” (own translation). It leaves you thinking, if you depoliticize the budget, just what is left? But in fact Chernomyrdin couldn’t have been more spot-on, as absolutely any interaction can be politicized or depoliticized. It is entirely possible to cold-headedly calculate the best way to use the money. Not that it ever happens.

    The idea of politics has a couple properties that can not be left in the dark. First, politics can only happen between individuals on equal footing before the supreme authority, which in most cases is simply the rules established by the society they live in. What I mean is, why should I listen to Chernomyrdin and forge a compromise with his ideas, if I can just shoot him? It’s fairly surprising how many political debates are solved in the spirit of this method today, but for the most part this will no longer work, due to constraints enforced by the presence of our society. Even in bandit and mafia politics, the clearly stronger side is well advised to reason with the weaker, as both fall under the limits set by the presence of law enforcement, for example. I could go into detail and invoke some knowledge on the theory of revolution, but I don’t want to. Instead, I’ll make a brief list of necessary conditions for politics to happen:
    1.A multitude of ideas or opinions.
    2.I couldn’t find a good way to word point 2, but Paradox community member Myth tried to say that it’s a “perceived chance of being taken seriously.” The basic idea is that there isn’t some single person who controls everything and sees no reason to consider others’ opinions.
    3.Consensus as a prioritized method of resolution.
    4.I had a point 4 but I decided to remove it.

    Now, before I go on to the main point, I also want to quickly define “society” and “group”. A group is a set of people at a bus stop, with no connection between them save the chance encounter. A society, however, encompasses a group of people, but is different from simply a group in one key way: There is something that connects them to one another, something that allows them to sympathize with each other and undertake deliberate group projects. This definition originated as early as in the works of Mr. Kont (not Kant, these are two different people), and naturally found it’s way into Weber’s list of definitions, who then goes on to call the sympathy that arises between members of a society with the word “solidarity”. Weber, by the way, along with Mr. Durkheim, are credited as the fathers of modern Sociology, even though most their ideas are (as we like to call it) morally extinct. Still, their terminology remains, and one of the most important things Webber defined was “legitimacy” (and once again he completely redefined a word to suit his needs). Legitimacy is nothing short of the will of the people to be ruled by their governments. He identified three forms of domination (where domination is really just a synonym for legitimacy) listed here:
    1.Traditional – Traditional legitimacy is basically a monarchy. People obey their monarch because they always have and always will.
    2.Charismatic – Hitler’s rise to power in Weimar Germany is an obvious example of this, as are 99% of revolutions.
    3.Rational or “legal” – Weber believed that the democratic governments established in much of the western world (in his time, 1864-1920) were centered on rational legitimacy, as in, the people willingly agree to obey the various laws because that is beneficial to the lot of them as a whole, provided the government performs it’s duties.

    That leads me right into the discussion of governments and what they do. In simple English, governments in the modern sense of the word are institutions set up by societies to perform certain internal and external tasks that ensure the satisfied existence of those they govern. This happens on the principle of “social contract”, a term established by Hobbes another 300 years back, which basically means this: The people agree to follow the laws so long as the government acts in their benefit (ie Weber’s rational domination). However, this is only a rough outline of the meaning the word “government” has, the rest of it filled in by the specific ideologies that wield it.

    Governments have a couple principal properties:
    1.A defined border in which it governs. This can be an ethnic or religious border, but these are fairly uncomfortable and inefficient, so pretty much all governments today define their jurisdiction with physical territory.
    2.Sovereignty – The government has the right to issue laws and control the situation inside it’s jurisdiction(s). I used a plural there, because this can mean a whole myriad of things. For example, in a pure liberal democracy, the government’s jurisdiction does not include the economy.
    3.Specialized institutions of governing. This is very different from ancient methods of organization.
    4.Governments act within the limits allowed them by the respective constitution.
    5.Citizenship – A property that defines one’s relationship with the government.
    6.A monopoly on legal use of force.
    7.The right to collect taxes for self-preservation and maintenance purposes.

    The duties of a government are multiple. Internal ones include maintaining peace and order, managing economic processes, etc. External ones are obviously protection from outsider aggression and representing the citizens on the global arena. They also come in many shapes and sizes, such as republics (take your pick), federations (India, USA), confederations (Senegambia (no longer exists), United Arab Emirates), and a couple others. The main difference between federations and confederations, by the way, is that in a federation, the composing states are only free to govern themselves until the point where their laws conflict with the laws established by the central government and which are universal for them all, whereas in a confederation the states don’t even have a shared budget. In perfect honesty, governments are wonderful things that secure at least some measure of rational consistency for us in our daily lives, and even liberalists, who believe that the best government is the one that governs least, consider them to be a necessary evil. I stress the word necessary.

    This may have been a long writeup, but it had to be said if I am to have the following discussion on ideology, and the birth of modern political theories. The term “ideology” was coined by Antonuan Destutt de Tracy on the fulcrum of the 18th and 19th centuries, who meant by it nothing more than the etymology of the word, the study of ideas. He tried to establish it as one of the disciplines of humanitarian sciences, but it was rejected by Napoleon. The word was then completely forgotten until roughly 100 years later, when it acquired a new meaning at the hands of those men who gave birth to liberalism as a political philosophy (except that men can’t give birth). They infused “ideology” with a political connotation, and until today it means something strictly political. An idea that we move towards, riding on the waves of Positivism (among other philosophies), with a political goal in mind. For Marx, ideology is a “false consciousness”. In English: a false set of beliefs that gets imprinted into the minds of the oppressed class, which prevents them from rising up against their oppressors, most often by deluding them in regard to who their true enemy is. There’s a million other definitions, but they aren’t as important as these two.

    Liberalism established itself as an ideology, with their own definition of it, and as is the custom in politology, it wasn’t the only term they bended to their own agenda. I suppose another list is appropriate here to explain the key ideas this was all based on.
    1.They completely redefined the word “right”. Previously it was a synonym for “exception”. Nobles had to pay taxes, but they had the right not to (as a blunt and mostly false example). The word took on the meaning of “boon”, and one acquires their rights simply by the fact of being born. These rights include the rights to live, freedom, property and the right to be elected.
    2.Society is held together by the moral fabric of human beings, not by laws or tradition. Liberalism accents that free people are good by nature, and will form a functioning society based on that alone.
    3.The economy (demand and supply) will be determined by the market, composed entirely of the citizens, and completely unregulated by the government. This is important.
    4.The government is split into multiple institutions, to ensure that a byzantine amount of bureaucracy exists between them, so that no single authority has absolute power.
    5.“Social contract” is a key assumption.

    Conservatism is a movement that emerged purely in reaction to liberalism. They shared the same set of beliefs, but criticised two things. Firstly, liberalism makes the mistake of assuming that all people have an interest in politics, and are acting on their political beliefs. In fact, most people don’t really care, and continue living with a sort of traditional legitimacy (see Weber). However, with frequent changes, you are destroying the framework for such a legitimacy to exist, and as a result, there will be citizens who see no reason to recognize the government’s sovereignty out of their own free will. Therefore, conservatives seek to implement changes through careful, gradual reform. The second point of disagreement is the degree to which the government controls the market. An entirely unregulated market can lead to some extreme and drastic changes in society over short periods of time, which is squarely against the conservative ideology.

    The 1970s saw a splash of neo-conservatism (Thatcher, Reagan), and the establishment of something called a “welfare state”, which was essentially a compromise between the two ideologies. The government gained some control over the market’s flow, to prevent the spread of corruption, and further social stratification. The ideal model of stratification for liberalism, by the way, is a rhombus, with a very populated middle class, and few truly rich and truly poor people. Just a quick fact that doesn’t much concern the discussion.

    However, despite their differences, conservatives found allies among liberalists in the fight against the third emerging ideology: Socialism. The basic idea here is that a free market allows for oppressors to rise and milk the working citizens for personal benefit. Socialists believe that the market should be controlled by the government to ensure that no one is taking advantage of the system. Society and social needs are strongly accented, equality is interpreted as equality of material possessions, the idea of social property emerges, and a whole other set of minor ideas are the basics of socialist theory. I don’t think there’s anything more I could say on them that wouldn’t sound like an in-depth analysis.

    It is my hope that this brief discussion has not been in vain, and that those who read it are now better armed to take on the hordes of ignorant political zealots and whatever wild beliefs they may hold. You can thank me later.

    Discomb is the co-author of Permanently Operating Factors - A Soviet LAN AAR
    Last edited by canonized; 01-07-2008 at 02:58.

  15. #15
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    Capibara’s Hispanoamerican Corner
    Section 1: The History of Spanish Literature
    By Capibara

    Hello, and welcome to this new section of the AARlander, Capibara’s Hispanoamerican Corner, or CHC. But as you may think, I will not be writing about the AARs or the writers of AARland. I’m sure you know plenty about them already if you are a regular reader of the AAR sub-forums and if you are not, you only have to take a quick tour to discover the excellent AARs that populate the Paradox Forums. No, this time I am going to write about other writers.

    I’m sure most of you like to read, I mean apart from the AARs: literature, history books, etc. As this is a mainly English speaking forum, I’m sure most of you are not very familiar with Spanish-speaking writers. My purpose is to introduce you to contemporary writers from Latin America. Each month I will be writing about one of them so that you can learn about them and take the time to read them, since they have excellent books, well worth the time and the prize. For this month, I’ll give a background of the origins of the Spanish language and its literature, focusing specifically on Latin America of course.

    The Spanish language, or more precisely Castilian, (which is its proper name since it’s not the only language spoken in Spain,) developed from vulgar Latin like other Romance Languages such as French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian. Written Castilian was developed under the rule of Alfonso X of Castile, known as The Wise, who supervised the writing of works in several areas, like history and astronomy. During this time the Castilian language received a great deal of influence from Arabic as a result of the Arab invasions of the 8th century, a cultural influence lasting for almost eight centuries. We can call the dialect used until the 15th century “Old Spanish,” while the one used from approximately the 16th century onwards we will call “Modern Spanish.”

    Thanks to Spanish colonization, the Spanish language was carried around the world -- especially to the Americas -- from the Southern United States all the way to Argentina (with the notable exception of Brazil, colonized by the Portuguese). Other regions in the world with an important Spanish-speaking population are the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara.

    True Spanish literature began in the Middle Ages with the anonymous epic poem “El Cantar del Mío Cid” which narrates the adventures of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, a famous Castilian knight at the service of both Christian and Muslim overlords. It was written around AD 1140. There were many other important Spanish writers during medieval times, such as Don Juan Manuel, nephew of king Alfonso X and author of El Conde Lucanor, and Juan Ruiz, whose only book Libro de Buen Amor, included translations of the works of Ovid and poems of different types. The last great Castilian poet of the Middle Ages was Jorge Manrique.

    It was during the Spanish Golden Age that the Spanish Literature gave the world some of its best works, including El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, a satire of the chivalric novels of the age as well as a criticism of the society of his time. Also worth mentioning is Lope de Vega, (called El Monstruo de la Naturaleza and El Fénix de los Ingenios by Cervantes,) one of the most prolific authors of universal literature, known both for his poetic and dramatic works. Other authors of the Spanish Golden Age include Francisco de Quevedo, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Luis de Góngora y Argote and Tirso de Molina. During this time period, the first writers from Spanish America appeared, such as Sor Juan Inés de la Cruz (Juana de Asbaje), (known as La Décima Musa,) Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora and Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, all three of them from New Spain.

    It was during the Mexican Independence movement, at the start of the 19th century, that Mexican writer José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi published his novel El Periquillo Sarniento, considered the first Latin American novel. During the rest of the century, Latin American authors from all corners of the Americas began to appear, mimicking the European literary movements of the age, as well as trying to create a sense of national identity. At the end of the 19th Century, a new movement appeared on the literary scene: modernism.

    Modernism began in Latin American literature with the publication of Azul in 1888, by the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío. This movement also includes Mexican authors Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera and Salvador Díaz Mirón, Guatemalan Enrique Gómez Carrillo, Peruvian Manuel González Prada, Colombian José Asunción Silva and the Cuban writers José Martí and Julián del Casal. The main characteristics of modernism are:

    1.Rejection of everyday reality, meaning the author has two possibilities: escape from his own time (praising of past ages, considered by the author more glorious and splendorous than his own) and escape from his space (the author’s poems take place in exotic regions).

    2.Aristocratic attitude.

    3.Blue color and the swan as main symbols of the movement, blue representing liberty while the swan represents the aristocratic attitude.

    4.A search for formal perfection.

    5.A search for beauty.

    6.Use of mythology.

    7.Use of symbols inspired in the nature.


    9.A great desire for innovation and reaching the same level of perfection as European literature.

    Modernism was the first great Latin American literary movement and it would influence later Latin American movements, especially the Latin American Boom, the main movement of the 20th century in Latin America, the first movement to gain international recognition and popularity all around the globe. That, however, is another story and I’ll be talking about it in the next issue of the AARlander, along with its precursors and main exponents. I hope you enjoyed this first edition of Capibara’s Hispanoamerican Corner and I’ll see you next month.

    Capibara is the author of the ABC AAR.
    Last edited by canonized; 01-07-2008 at 02:56.

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