Thursday, August 21, 2003

The Kingdom of Tonga


The coolest (not to mention the only) kingdom in the Pacific, Tonga is a smattering of islands that knows not only does royalty hang in the back of the bus, it takes the whole bus over.

Covering 800 square miles when in a good mood, Tonga snagged the hippest spot in the Pacific -- 2/3rds of the way between Hawaii and New Zealand, or more accurately, smack dab between the best surfing here, and the best surfing anywhere.

Four times the size but one-fifth the people of Washington D.C., Tonga sells stuff to Japan and the U.S. and buys different stuff from New Zealand and Fiji. Out goes the squash, coconuts, and vanilla, in comes other food and machinery.

Tongans abroad send money home, actually more than tourism nets them -- but don't let that stop you! One and a half to two pa’anga to the US dollar means you can get twice the bang for your buck, and the Kingdom of Tonga encourages you to do so. There are 169 islands, but less than 40 of them sport people. Malo e lelei! Just remember to stay loose during cyclone season (October to April) and mind the volcano on Fonuafo'ou.

The Tongans are so cool theirs is the only South Pacific country never to have been colonized by a foreign power. Yeah, baby. Every day, they sport an in-your-face flag , (red with a bold red cross on a white rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner), flying proudly in the nation's capital of Nuku'alofa.

Taking a tip as a former UK protectorate, Tongans prop their feet up and enjoy an hereditary constitutional monarchy. Straight up, no ice. With an English-inspired legal system, including a Privy Council, Cabinet and Prime Minister to keep the king relaxed, a Legislative Assembly of ministers and nobles, and a monarch-appointed Supreme Court, in sunglasses and with a great tan, they vote at the age of 21 and then some. Not to mention arguing their politics in English and Tongan.

Other countries only wish they had the natural hipness Tonga displays, so they register cruise ships out of Tonga in an attempt to make up for it. From Austria to Lebanon to the U.S., don't be surprised to see those flags flying from ships at anchor in Neiafu, Nuku'alofa, or Pangai, or tripping merrily along at sea.

Lowest point -- when Menudo broke up -- oh, sorry. Sea level. Island nation. Hello?
Highest point -- when Menudo broke up -- ahem. Kao Island 1,033 m.

Tonga is the coolest land in the tropics! Mean annual temperature in Nuku'alofa is 23.7 C, with a mean humidity of 76%, and a positively cherry Internet country code of '.to'.

Facts: The CIA World Factbook
Hipster Slang: Sidra Vitale

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Voting in Massachusetts

Just came over the VotingTech mailing list:

The Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project has released a new report, Voting in Massachusetts.
This report is a comprehensive study of current voting systems in Massachussetts and recommendations for improvement.

Sunday, August 17, 2003


Presidential Prayer Team

Yeah. Then look at the poll results on their home page.
C'mon! Sign it!

I got friends and family who need this. From QueerDay:

Gov. Gray Davis, currently the focus of a recall election, announced Saturday he would sign legislation giving domestic partners most of the same legal rights that married couples have. The bill has passed the state Assembly and is scheduled to be considered Monday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The domestic partners bill would, among other things, allow domestic partners to file joint state income tax returns and give them the same tax exemptions enjoyed by married couples. It would also give them the same rights as married couples regarding the acquisition, transfer and sharing of property, health insurance and pension coverage and collection of government benefits, including public assistance. Wired News