As you know, the Grand Duchy of Thorgelfayne is a technocracy, not a democracy. Our correspondent, John Anderson, was assigned to be a member of the Interstellar Cultural Guild after his naturalization as a Thorgelfaynese. So that we can appreciate how the Thorgelfaynese government works, John has graciously supplied us with a copy of his marked-up ballot from the most recent election.
It is with great pride that we welcome you as a new subject of the Duke of Thorgelfayne and as a new member of the Interstellar Cultural Guild! As a subject of our Beloved Duchy, and as a member of our Guild, you are an integral part of our government. You are only qualified to vote in areas in which you possess some expertise. (This contrasts with a democracy, where issues are largely decided by the uninformed.) Because this is your first time voting under our system, I ask that you read these instructions carefully before filling out the ballot.
Your input is essential to the proper comportment of the Duchy’s affairs; however, your participation is not coerced and is entirely voluntary. For example, you may feel that you are not qualified to address any or all of the issues in any given election. You must exercise your own personal judgment, since no one is better qualified than you to make such a decision.
Whichever questions you answer, answer them thoughtfully and carefully.
If you have objections to a question, refuse to answer it. You might object (for example) to the form of the question, the manner in which it is stated, or the selection of questions. Instead of supplying an answer, please note your detailed objections. Remember, it is a Breach of the Thorgel Fayne to knowingly acquiesce to a bad election question.
Please have compassion on the election workers who must tabulate the ballots by making your responses as brief and to the point as possible.
Yours in thorgel bond,
Election Commissioner of the Interstellar Cultural Guild
These questions are only mandatory if you choose to vote at all. Your answers to this group of questions will be used by election workers to ascertain your relative qualifications. This information will be used to calculate the weighting factor to be applied to your responses. (Since people do not have equal expertise, giving their opinions equal weight would skew results.)
1. Please state your academic qualifications in the field of interstellar cultural studies.
2. Please state your experience with alien cultures.
I am myself an alien; specifically a human. Until last year, I lived my entire life as a well-educated citizen of a major cultural power on the planet Earth. I am the only human member of the Guild.
3. State your age and occupation.
I am thirty-six years old and am presently employed as an English language translator and discussion group leader at the Department of Earth Studies at Snodgrass University. English is a human language, and my native language. Note: My age of thirty-six corresponds to thirty-seven Earth years represents about have of my life expectancy in my native habitat, and is twice the mean age of puberty for my species.
These questions are designed to ascertain the consensus of expertise on various matters in which the Steering Council of the Guild seeks guidance or confirmation.
1. What is your analysis of the present changes in the academic system of the Hrakna Nation of Zerpick? What position should the Guild take on these changes? What recommendations, if any, should be made to the Duke concerning proposed changes to the treaties governing academic transfer and exchange?
I am unable to answer.
2. In your opinion, what social effect would the discovery of an additional civilization in the Spiral Arm have upon the World Council of Countries and Independent Jurisdictions? Do you feel that efforts should be expended to detect one? What would be the ramifications of failure?
I feel largely unable to respond; however, I feel compelled to relate some observations. It appears that the discovery of another civilization in outer space would fire public imagination and spur the general population, as well as the WCCIJ, to greater accomplishments. Failure would be demoralizing only if efforts are expended in disproportion to the likelihood of success.
These questions determine the Guild’s actions and policies:
1. Present plans call for disclosure of the WCCIJ presence on the planet Earth in the year 45A8; their year numbered 2003. Are you aware of factors that would make either a later or an earlier date more auspicious?
As a native and former resident of the planet, I must caution against an early disclosure. While current events are encouraging, in my opinion they are superficial. Human enemies often collaborate when their goals coincide, only to lapse to old adversities when their goals once again diverge. Therefore, I see much apparent progress without any real substance. In observing human societies, Homelanders have often confused cooperation with friendship; yet among humans, these separate social phenomena are not necessarily linked. It is my considered opinion that Homelanders would therefore tend to err in the direction of an earlier disclosure, and that we must be careful to compensate for this tendency. My meager reading on this subject reveals that early disclosure can result in social distortion or collapse; and this is a scenario which benefits no one, least of all the humans.
2. Do you concur with the present plan to relocate deep space electromagnetic telescopes from the Second Moon to the Moon of NewWorld? Can you suggest effective changes in the plan?
I am not qualified to answer, although I am concerned about possible degradation of telecommunications with Chern.
3. Do you concur with the present plan for an international television series on alien civilizations, geared to adolescents?
I concur with reservations. The number of nations and languages should be increased. The targeted audience should include adults. Broadcast time should be in the evening, local time, where feasible. Since these reservations have been incorporated in an alternate to the plan, I feel I may dispense with my reasoning.
4. Should the Ghreggik language of Horstmingle be added to the curriculum of universities within the Grand Duchy of Thorgelfayne?
I am unqualified to answer.
We thank you for your participation.
Attachments to the Ballot
- Information packet containing the Hrakna Academic Reorganization Act, (Hrakna High Assembly) dated Zerpicker year 1091. A summary of Hrakna and other Zerpicker views (both pro and con) is included.
- Information packet: Status of Planet Earth in the Year 17829, Breakthrough or Breakdown?
- The protocol for the proposed WCCIJ disclosure.
- Information packet on telescope relocation: costs versus benefits.
- Information packet on the proposed television series, provisionally titled: Life Among the Stars. The packet includes list of cooperating broadcast authorities, proposed schedules, programming guidelines and one proposed script.
- Monograph on the cultural significance of the Ghreggik language: Ghreggik: Unappreciated Cultural Vehicle by Lahti Marrtisson of the University of Halakan.