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For the fifth day of Lexember, I present a word for writing tiny letters on items and clothing.

Lexember 5: nupyakofichu

Pronunciation

nupyakofìchu: /nɯ.pja.ko.ꜜɸi̥.tɕɯ̥/

nupyakofíchu: /nɯ.pja.ko.ꜛɸi̥.tɕɯ̥/

Noun

nupyakofìchu

Tiny writing underneath another line of text to give additional meaning or pronunciation.

nupyakofíchu

Tiny writing or letters, typically as part of decoration or for fine details.

Verb

nupyakofíchu

To use tiny or miniature letters to write.
For the fourth day of Lexember, I start to explore the culture's concept of persistent and transient writing.

Lexember 4: nefocho

Pronunciation

nefōcho: /ne.ɸoː.tɕo/

nefócho: /ne.ꜛɸo.tɕo/

Noun

nefōcho

Writing that is on persistent objects such as stone, paper, and metal.

Verb

nefócho

To write something that will last the ages.
On the third day of Lexember I continue the theme of typesetting by including another measurement.

Lexember 3: nakamopyako

The third word is a specialized word for typography.

Pronunciation

nakamopyàko: /na.ka.mo.ꜜpja.ko/

nakamopyāko: /na.ka.mo.pjaː.ko/

nakamopyáko: /na.ka.mo.ꜛpja.ko/

Noun

nakamopyàko

A typeface that favors larger bottom elements compared to top.

A typeface that has a large number of swirls or embellishments.

A typeface that has a low x-height.

nakamopyáko

A typeface that favors smaller bottom elements compared to top.

A typeface that has few or little decorations or swirls.

A typeface that has a high x-height.

Verb

nakamopyāko

To struggle with the choice of letter and glyph appearance to convey a specific meaning.
Now that Flight of the Scions has end its first run for subscribers, time to focus on Sand and Bone.

Sand and Bone 7: Broken Silence

You know all of Sand and Ash where Rutejìmo suffers for his self-centered decisions, ends up having a spiritual rebirth, and finds his way as the silent caretaker for the dead and dying? Up to this point, I haven't shown the advantages of becoming a kojinōmi. They don't really have the flashy powers of the warriors or sages, none of the throwing fireballs across the desert or teleporting through shadows. However, they do have a few but powerful abilities. The problem is, no one tells them how to use them or even that they can.

This chapter is also the point where I begin to fail the entire basis of the series: Rutejìmo has power. And not in a small measure like running a little faster, he demonstrates one of the kojinōmi most terrifying abilities right off the bat: how to kill someone with a single phrase by stripping them of their magic and clan.

What I found interesting is that this parallels the events in Sand and Ash except that it is Rutejìmo doing the "killing" and he doesn't even know how he does it. It also ties into a something I wrote in chapter 26 of Sand and Ash:

"So," he said, "what do you think I'd feel if I saw you in danger, Mapábyo?"

Mapábyo shrugged.

Gichyòbi nodded. "Exactly. I don't need to save you. I will because you are Shimusògo and useful to our city. You are also a pretty girl---"

Kidóri glared at her husband.

"---and it is in the city's interest to save those who need it, but it is a choice I made, not a compulsion that commands me."

Mapábyo looked down. "Oh."

Glaring, Kidóri thumped her husband with her fist. "He's also not one of Chobìre's shits."

Rutejìmo smirked at the insult. Chobìre was the spirit of the moon and night. He was also the enemy of everything the day clans stood for.

"Oh yeah, that too." Gichyòbi rolled his eyes. "But I said that already."

"Really?" said Kidóri, "when?"

"Yeah, I said it's in the city's---"

"You would do it because it is the right thing." Kidóri thumped her husband.

"Yes, dear."

Rutejìmo grinned.

Mapábyo straightened. "What about Rutejìmo?"

Gichyòbi looked at Rutejìmo. His hand rested on his wife's hip and he stared for a long moment. "I'm strongly suggested to save him."

Rutejìmo felt a shiver of something coursing along his skin. "A suggestion?"

"It isn't a compulsion, it isn't Wamifūko, but something else. I respond as if you are clan, but I know you aren't. I've seen other warriors do the same. You," he pointed to Rutejìmo, "will never be a warrior, but there is more than one clan looking out for you. Maybe every clan that walks the sands?"

"Plenty of warriors have tried to kill me, Chyòbi."

Gichyòbi pointed a finger at him. "Don't test me, boy."

Kidóri pulled Gichyòbi's hand down. "Have you ever noticed that whenever you flee for the city, there is usually half a dozen clans involved in the fight? The last time you were running from those archers, there were at least a dozen warriors on both sides killing each other. Does that seem a bit unusual for a single courier carrying a treaty?"

When I was writing this book, one of the major complaints I heard was that Rutejìmo wasn't powerful at all, he wasn't a "hero," or (according to some) not even likable. I don't think I ever intended for him to have these powers but as I worked out the chapters and knowing where I was ending this book, I realized that it was the right place.

This book is where Rutejìmo comes into his full power. It ties into him realizing who he was in the first book, finding his purpose in the second, and finally how he shines.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2gMM0dw. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patrons. Even if you don't want to send me money, reviews and chatter on social networks would be highly appreciative and only cost your time.

pyoke #lexember 1

One of the many aspects of building is Fedran are the languages everyone speaks. I didn't want a single language that everyone spoke simply because we live in a world with thousands of languages and just as many different cultures. This ties into the desert being the "barbarian" world in one series but having their own rich culture in their own; part of that culture is their language.

As part of writing Sand and Blood and Flight of the Scions, I started creating Miwāfu, a constructed language loosely based off a couple of my favorite languages.

In the conlang circles, there is a challenge to create a new word every day for the month of December. This is called Lexember and has a lot in common with the more famous National Novel Writing Month.

Lexember 1: pyoke

The first word is a pretty simple one, pyoke [pjo.ke].

Pronunciation

pyòke: /ꜜpjo.ke/

pyōke: /pjoː.ke/

pyóke: /ꜛpjo.ke/

Noun

pyòke

The largest two fingers on the hand.

The fingers of a male.

pyōke

The fingers of a child.

An object that has the appearance of having fingers.

pyóke

The smallest two fingers on the hand.

The fingers of a female.

The basis for detailed font or script height as the width of a woman's smallest finger.

Verb

pyóke

A very light touch or caress with the intent of attracting attention.

pideki #lexember 2

Even though the first day of Lexember was a finger, the actual theme for this month is writing and typography. However, we start with the basic units of measurement, Fedran's version of a point and a pica.

Lexember 2: pideki

The second word is the second basis for measurements in typography (among other things).

Pronunciation

pidèki : /pi.ꜜde.ki̥/

pidēki: /pi.deː.ki̥/

pidéki: /pi.ꜛde.ki̥/

Noun

pidèki

The length of a man's foot from heel to toe.

The ideal height of letters while drawing on sand or dust.

pidēki

Length of a child's foot.

pidéki

The length of a woman's from from heel to toe.

Verb

pidéki

To make a subtle political maneuver with the intent of leading others to a specific conclusion.

Adjective

pidèki

An action obviously intended to manipulate someone.

The last chapters of Flight of the Scions

This week is about the end of Flight of the Scions, at least for subscribers. We have the climax chapter and the epilogue, the end of the beginning of Kanéko's story. I hope those who have read it have enjoyed it.

I don't really know what to say about this chapter. There is a giant telepathic toad, there is a lot of high-level magic, Kanéko probably survives since there are three more books in her series. Now, that isn't to say there are a lot of hurt people during this chapter and the damage will continue into what I hope is the next novel, Pack Daughter.

Speaking of the sequels, I have planned out three of them for Flight: Pack Daughter, Son of Vo, and Desert Child. If you've been reading my posts, you can probably tell that they are mostly focused on Maris, Ruben, and Kanéko respectively. A lot of it builds up to the events hinted at by Sand and Bone (including the characters by name). I don't know if they will work out but I'm hoping it will be fun finding out.

About subscriptions. I originally thought I would release Flight of the Scions slowly from one level of subscriptions to another in an attempt to get any subscribers. About halfway through, I realized that it wasn't working. I'm sure part of it is that I've only been doing this for a few years (okay, that scares me) but I've gone from two subscribers at the beginning to two subscribers today (one dropped out, one joined in).

I'm still going to give the Patreon thing another year or so, I'm just not going to do the level 4 or 1 access control. Instead, everything I have posted will be accessible by the $1/month subscribers (including discounts on my print books). The $4/month (which I have one) will be able to ask for small changes: altered plots, Tukerizations, or whatever makes sense. They can also ask for spoilers for the entire series or how things tie together. Or have input on the events of the next novel. The $4/month also gets credits in my books.

Doing the two weekly posts is a lot of work. Having it not bring in another subscriber in a year is frustrating to say the least. I'm also not going to write about the process or inspirations for writing for the subscriber books (unless someone starts asking me to). I need to keep going, mainly to finish Flight of the Scions when Sand and Bone is serialized but also to finish Second-Hand Dresses but we'll see how things turn out.

Well, thank you for reading.

Sand and Bone will resume next week.

The Electoral College is not the problem

A long time ago, about three decades I'm guessing which would put me in my early teens, I was sitting on the floor of the family cabin trying to puzzle through one of the board games that my brother and I dredged out of the collection. It was a "race to the presidency" back when Iowa had ten votes (so I guess the game was from the 60's?). Neither my younger brother or I understood the reason for the points. The only thing we knew is that Illinois, California, and New York were important to winning. He always went for California, I went for Illinois because that was our "home state" (even though the cabin is in Wisconsin).

I remember that game because my grandma had us move the game to the table with the red checkerboard cloth and explain the electoral college to us. I don't remember how old I was at the time but that lesson stuck with me.

Later, in Junior High, we had a Constitution class where our teacher reiterated those lessons, and the reasons he explained was the same as my grandmas. It was the same teacher who explained why we had fiat currency and we had to memorize the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Last week, as me and my wife watched the map of the country turn heartbreaking with red all over the place, I was reminded of those two points in my life. There was a system in place and both Hillary and Trump (and the DNC and RNC) were fully aware of the rules. As a strategy, Trump won the right states.

The idea of Trump being president fills me with dread, it's given me nightmares for a week and I'm still upset about it. I believe we should be moving toward a world of tolerance and acceptance, not sexism and racism. Trump's method for gaining power has been in direct conflict with those desires and he is responsible for me getting far more emotionally charged about this election than any other one in my life. Well, that and Bernie, but that's a separate topic.

The Electoral College

I've seen a lot of hatred toward the Electoral College in the last week, mainly because Hillary firmly won the popular vote but lost the electoral. It is painful to see that happen, more so because of the horrible spate of hate crimes that have happened since the election results. Those were some of my beginning fears (I have far worst ones, which is actually why I'm writing this) of Trump winning and why his actions were the reason I've gotten emotionally involved with this election.

As much as I hate the results, I never blamed the Electoral College. I still don't. It is functioning as designed and I think it should remain.

The college has a rather racist history from the beginning. It was created to balance out the states with a high number of slaves but less voters with the states that had a great number of free men. This was also before women were given a vote (the Nineteenth Amendment is the second greatest one in my opinion, the First being the hallmark of this country).

Despite slavery not being part of our culture anymore, I still feel that the college has a purpose. The problem I've been struggling with is to how to describe this without upsetting anyone and I realized I can't. So, I'm going to say that the college protects a specific class of minorities.

The Quiet Half

Since the late 1800s and early 1900s, this country has rapidly moved toward cities. You can see that in the map below where half of the population lives in 146 of 3000 counties.

It would point out that I don't live in those 146 counties right now but I used to. That said, I believed the same thing about the college when I did live in Kane County, IL.

If you look at the map, there are states that don't have a single county in the 50th percentile. However, there millions who live there that grow our foods, produce goods and materials, and struggles through their lives like everyone else.

The other thing that is important is that they are a minority. It is more than just race, it is a different between the more urban dwellers (I live in a large city in Iowa) and the more rural ones. They have a different view of the world and they have different needs, ones that are difficult to see.

The Popular Vote

The most common suggestion to fix the college is to get rid of it and switch completely to the popular vote. Senator Boxer's bill is one of the drives for me writing it, mainly to express my opinions. There are also a couple people in my social network who are vocal about getting rid of the college. I disagree but I like to disagree in debate and discussion instead of saying it just sucks. I also have suggestions at the bottom.

The college gives a higher weight to the rural voters in the less populated 2,854 counties. If we switch to a purely popular vote, then simply becomes the person who wins the highest number of votes. Of course, being that most political parties focus on winning, that means they'll hammer advertising for those 146 counties---maybe 250 at most---and ignore the rest. Why would they? They just need that 50%.

If you don't think that is true, ask people from Montana what they think about the elections. Make sure you ask what impact they have on it? Better yet, look at the stops both Hillary and Trump made on their election trail. Or how many presidents have visited all fifty states while in office? (Four.) Those states are already being ignored by most federal politics. They have the same sense of hopelessness and powerlessness as I do right now when their candidate doesn't win.

The electoral college has been balance to favor the states with higher population. That is why California has 55 votes and Utah has 6. Hillary almost won with a lot fewer states than Trump but those states had a lot more impact on the election. Seeing the jump when California was called for Hillary was an intense rush, the brief moment of hope it was possible.

Switching to a popular vote will change the less-populated state's voice in the government from a small one (Montana's 3 votes) to effectively none. It would be telling forty or so states that their voice has no place in the federal government. That their opinions and needs don't have to be considered. I'll be generous and say fifty million people would be completely disenfranchised in a single blow while others would struggle to let their needs to be known.

The only thing this does is move to power from one group to another. The difference is that it takes two weaker voices (less votes in the college verses less impact of individual votes) and puts it all in one group. It flips the roles we are feeling now and the other half of the country will be feeling the same despair when their candidate loses (much like they felt when Obama won).

And for those who say "rural votes don't need a say"? Yes, they do. They are party of this country. They may have a fair amount of power but they still have the right to be part of it. And I think it is reasonable to give them a chance to speak up and have a chance for their needs to be addressed by the elections.

There has to be another way that doesn't silence one half to benefit the other.

Voter Suppression

Okay, now that I'm done pissing off one group of readers, let me talk about the other side.

The perceived failures of the college is a symptom of a group of people abusing the existing systems to ensure their own power base. I think the college itself is functioning as designed and is important, however the underlying situation in the individual states is wrong.

Before this election, we had a recent spat of voter suppression laws and efforts to prevent people from voting. This includes the voter ID requirements that Wisconsin enacted, the purging of voters in Texas and Ohio, and even stripping of the Voter Rights Act which allowed states to reduce polling locations and remove protections that are critical.

The idea of "voter fraud" is a joke, a thin excuse to enact some of these laws. If it was that common, there would be a significant number of cases that are reported to the federal government or even at the state level. The only one I've heard of in this election was the Iowa woman voting for Trump repeatedly.

Reducing polling locations was important because not everyone can afford to stand in line for ten hours to vote. Me, on the other hand, can easily hire a babysitter to watch the boys and call my boss to say I'm late. I can take three or four hours off to get my driver's license and fill out the needed paperwork. I can afford to order my birth certificate and have it delivered. That privilege is why I don't feel voter suppression laws. They aren't directed at me.

No, the reason voter fraud and the other laws were put into place was to prevent others from voting. Given that most of the people who were directly harmed by those laws and rulings were of color and poorer, it disenfranchised them from exercising their right.

The whole reason they were there was to keep the Republicans in power. It was a massive effort across the board but done in relatively small steps including gerrymandering to help ensure control over the state (most state governments are Republican for a reason) and the above laws.

Unlike the electoral college's results, I consider this a direct attack against the United States. It is a group of people using their power to suppress disadvantages voters to prevent them from exercising their right. I also strongly feel that it was these suppression efforts that made it feel like the election was stolen.

Conflict of Interest

The problem is the people who are in power are allowed to make laws and decisions that keep them in power. Whoever wins the census elections gets to gerrymander the hell out of their states. They can pass voter suppression laws in the guise of "preventing fraud" when everyone knows it is to prevent votes.

This is a conflict of interest, much like what our president appears to be leading toward with his unwillingness to keep his personal fortunes separate from the government.

The conflict of interest is also where I think we, as a country, need to address.

Single Party

I feel that I need to mention I'm against any party taking control of the country. Single party systems are subject to significant corruption and abuse. Our current (effectively) two-party system is also subject to abuse because it can form a stable conflict. We just have less of a chance because there is oversight and prevention from the other party.

Suggestions

I don't like to rant about something this much without coming up with alternatives. The biggest one is that voter's rights should be protected at all costs from all parties. It should be as neutral of a process as possible, much like there are poll watchers to ensure voting is legal and free, double-checking to make sure the results are in line with expectations.

Federal Control of Voting Rights

I don't think any state can be trusted with controlling voter rights. I think it should be controlled by the federal government and written to address everyone equally. That means no voter suppression laws, accessible and timely voting, and a clear system of verification of the actual results.

Actually, I don't think any party should be responsible for voters. It needs to be an organization that has no direct control or influence from the parties. I would have picked the Judicial Branch as the most neutral branch but the recent Supreme Court decisions would make this difficulty; we are in the middle of an epic battle for control of that.

There are organizations that have demonstrated neutrality, the IRS being a good example. It can be done.

Yes, this could mean a separate organization or even branch, but one that is very focused on a single purpose. I have ideas but something I would consider. Even if this wasn't an option, I'd probably lean toward the Judicial Branch as driving it.

National Holiday

The idea of a national holiday to vote is a fantastic one. Making sure there is a common baseline for requirements to vote protects everyone and ensures they have a clear voice, be it a rural or urban.

Absentee and Mail In Voting

There needs to be a federal standard for voting not in person. We have the Internet. We have a lot of hard science to prove out votes and well-established systems. If we treat it like the IRS, then we could also have a federal vote processing locations that handle it and update the results efficiently.

Voting Machine Auditing

Voting machines should be treated as slot machines. Bruce Schneier has a really good expansion on that idea, but effective voting machines have their code in escrow, can have their code audited rapidly, and have a rapid response team.

Prevent Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering is at threat to voters. Every ten years, we have parties fighting over the right to organize their districts to ensure they remain in power. There are some rather impressive programs that let them build up optimal maps that maximize their effort, save results, and compare the results of how much political power they would gain.

The process of gerrymandering is pretty much down to a science.

That same science could be used to create fair districts. If the code that does it is put in the public where anyone can review it (and it produces consistent results), I think it would be fair to create voting districts that don't favor one party over the other.

To paraphrase Linus' Law:

Given enough eyeballs, all abuses are obvious.

If every single person could download the census data and a program and prove out the results, it would prevent much of the bias. Everyone would be able to analyze the source code (we have millions of coders, scientists, and statisticians in this country) and identify where it has been skewed toward one party or the other.

Conclusion

Also known as the "I'm writing too much." While the Electoral College has many flaws including its inception, it provides a voice to a group of the population that is rapidly becoming a minority. It is functioning as designed even if it creates terrible results.

I feel that the root cause is that we don't have a fair election (not electoral) system. There are laws used to prevent everyone from getting their fair voice and I think that should be the focus of our attention and efforts.

I welcome discussion about this. I don't know everything and ideas are always built up stronger with debate and discussion, not screaming. So please, speak up and talk, maybe there are some merits in here.
Another week passed and I have two more chapters. Sorry it took so longer, there was something more important to watch last night. There is nothing in common this week but a bit of discussion on how these two actually connect together.

Sand and Bone 6: Kosobyo City

In Sand and Bone, I wanted to get away from the two major locations of the first books. At the same time, I needed to start linking up Rutejìmo's story to Kanéko's because this book is tied to the fourth book of her series (Desert Child). That is a remarkably hard task since Desert Child won't be written for at least three more years, so I have to have the plot hooks for that book in this one.

The Kosòbyo clan is one of the biggest ties between the two books. Kanéko's mother is a Kosòbyo albeit a poorly educated one who's only talent is killing people. That gave me some leeway here to build up the richness of Kosòbyo's culture and society in this book before shocking Kanéko in her fourth book with the contrast with her mother's world (a daughter whose father didn't want her back) and the white world that Kanéko grew up in. In effect, a "everything I knew is wrong" that I feel some folks going back to "their roots" encounter.

Of course, the big question is why Garèo didn't teach Kanéko the "real" society. Well, that ties into his book Kin-Killer and his own reasons for leaving the desert.

Read Sand and Bone 6: Kosobyo City at https://fedran.com/sand-and-bone/chapter-06/.

Flight of the Scions 40: Combat Leadership

This is a beat chapter, a single moment in what would have been a montage in a movie before Flight of the Scions slides into the climax chapter next week. It is also the point where Kanéko finally confronts her father about her lack of magic.

Read Flight of the Scions 40: Combat Leadership https://fedran.com/flight-of-the-scions/chapter-40/ (subscribers)

Patrons

My first two books, Sand and Blood and Sand and Ash, are free downloads at the links. If you can, the best ways to help me are: subscribe as a patron, review my books, or just talk about it on social networks.

Gulping down websites

For the last few years, I've been using a Jekyll-based website. I started with a mostly stock setup, but it wasn't long before I was supplementing the results with Perl, Python, and a fairly complicated Makefile. This worked (and sucked out many hours out of my life) and I was pretty happy.

As I've been posting repeatedly, the entire process has been getting slower and slower. The Jekyll version was taking ten to fifteen minute, which was frustrating when I'm trying to write a post (no preview).

I also started doing serials. The weekly nature of posting could really use some scheduling. That way if I have a few hours to work ahead of time, I could write up the posts and get them queued up. Yes, I'm lazy but I also know that I've had more than a few postings minutes why of midnight.

This year, I'm also planning on doing Lexember, a conlang-a-day challenge for December. This could really use scheduled posts.

Over the last week, I've created a Gulp-based system that creates the entire website. This will make it easier to work with Gitlab's CI service, which I trigger with a cron job. It also runs a lot faster.

The really hard part is to migrate the Fedran site over to this system because I have a lot of logic, but that is an adventure for another year.

Eventually, I'll actually write up the twenty Gulp plugins I've created to make this. Mainly, I just wanted to test the CI and scheduled posts.