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by The Impeccably Arranged Snark of The West Pacific Master Dispatch. . 275 reads.

The Western Post - January 2021

Announcements!

  • Discussion on the regional commendation Commend Bran Astor has begun! LinkJoin in the conversation and get involved in drafting on the forums!

  • TWP is having a Region of the Week event with Europeia! Until January 14th, there's tons of games and conversation to be had with our friends from afar on the event's LinkDiscord server!

  • Save the date! TWP, NPO, and Balder are hosting an interregional event from January 24th to the 29th—stay tuned to TITW for more info!


Hall of Nations Update

Welcome to 2021! I hope that you all enjoyed the Holiday Recess that Dilberwas so kind to grant to the Hall of Nations. It was a much-needed break from all of the legislating that we do here in The West Pacific. And not to brag, but I already have a date for next New Year’s Eve: December 31st.

Moving on to business. As Dilber promised, changes are coming to the Hall of Nations. Discussion on what those changes should look like took place this past month, including a cabinet meeting open to the Hall of Nations. Many ideas included ways to increase involvement in the various ministries of TWP, from requiring membership in a ministry to passing at least one course in the University of The West Pacific (UTWP). Nieubasria (Aelitia) proposed that the HoN should become the center for cultural activities and should even be given the opportunity to work on action items from the cabinet meetings. Ask Me Anythings can be held to raise awareness of government activities, along with re-organizing the discord channels. However, this leads to the question of “what is too transparent?” Giovanniland brought up that some content, such as Foreign Affairs and TWPAF, should not be made public. During the open cabinet meeting, a discussion on rebranding the Hall of Nations and Speaker names also took place.

Thank you to everyone who provided their thoughts and ideas! Please excuse our dust as your government works to enact these changes.

Finally, regional commendations have resumed! If you are interested in helping research and/or write one, please reach out to me via telegram or discord and Linkjoin in the discussion on the forums!

It's Official; 2020 Worst Year In History, So Long You Didn't Live At Any Other Time In History

By Isgonna Getbetter of Podium

As the year of turmoil known as 2020 comes to a close, a recent polling action by a Westwindian think-tank discovered that an overwhelming 94% of the world's population believed 2020 to be one of historically unprecedented chaos, misery, and toilet-paper shortages. A subsequent expert study from the University for Asinine Retrospectives confirmed the polling to be accurate, as long as one left out practically every other year in recorded human history.

"An interesting correlation between the two sets of data was that most of the people responding did so with mass-produced, incredibly powerful computing devices which, instead of taking up a whole building of space, only took up the space of one's palm. Another point of interest we found was that this majority subgroup, while insisting 2020 was the worst year ever, also tended to enjoy freshly-made food delivered hot to their doorstep, whereupon they would enjoy it in a fully air-conditioned living-space while spending most of the day watching millions of hours of on-demand entertainment," said Khando Tenzin, lead researcher at the UAR.

"While we at the University understand that the year has been especially hard on a lot of people, we are simply pointing out that there were comparatively few instances of famine, slavery, civil war, ice ages, figuring out how to work a rotary phone, people burned for witchcraft, fighting mammoths with nothing but 14 other scantily-clad cavemen, cave-dwelling, widespread genocide and ethnic cleansing, catastrophic natural disasters, pre-modern surgery and healthcare, normalised cannibalism, child mortality, barbarian raids, having to use a physical dictionary, world wars, occupation by the Roman Empire… what was I talking about? Oh, right - most people didn't exactly experience those things this year, so I'd personally say it went pretty okay!"

"Why can't it all just be over?" said Joshua Palmer, internet enthusiast who makes more money playing his favourite games for a few hours per day than 20 child labourers would get for half a year's work.

"If only we could go back," opined Lexi Burton, whose piping-hot pizza arrived 2 minutes later than she anticipated.

"Screw. 20. 20." tweeted Latisha Corleone, an online dog yoga instructor whose favoured candidate won the latest presidential election.

One notable exception was a complete lunatic who was unnaturally optimistic about both the old and new year. "Good lord, I love being alive! Can't wait for more!" The lunatic, as of publishing, has been summarily detained with a 24/7 military presence to figure out what the hell is wrong with him.

Art Tips with Fujai

With 2021 off to a roaring start, why don't we destress by ranting about my irrational dislike of gradients? Please note that this is mostly an opinion, and the tl;dr is: gradients are easy to do badly and hard to do well, so be careful.

Since I'm primarily a graphic designer, I'm going to focus on gradients as they're used in communications and designing. I find that they're often used by newer designers because gradients are available in just about every software and are relatively easy to implement. The downside is, they can be very difficult to implement well. Their most common use is as backgrounds for text and other images. The problem here is that it can be easy to go overboard on them, using big color transitions (by making a gradient with very different hues) that make the gradient the most eye-catching part of the graphic, to the determent of your other elements.

One way to really spice up a gradient, though, is to use multiple color stops. The most basic gradients consist of two colors blending into each other linearly. Like in the example below, this can make some pretty lackluster gradients. By adding more stops at different positions, you can fine-tune the colors to make them blend into each other much better, even though you're keeping the same starting position.

For a real-world example, Instagram is known for its extensive use of gradients. Often these work by a) spending hours carefully crafting the gradients used with what I can only assume is lots of thinking about color theory to make sure the different colors play well together, and b) centering the gradient itself as the most prominent part of the graphic.

Given all of this, my overall advice is that unless the gradient is supposed to be the center of attention, it shouldn't be noticed. Similar to how good music in a movie shouldn't be notice, but if it were gone it would be painfully obvious, a gradient should be there to complement, but not take away from the rest of the design.


The Haiku Review: TWP’s 2020 Poetry in Retrospect

By Fhaengshia, United Adaikes, and Fuentana, Poet Laureate of Haiku

Foreword: In Appreciation of Poetry
By Fuentana

Of all the forms of poetry, few can match the elegance and simplicity of the haiku. Of course, here we are focused on English language haiku, which has its own cadence, style, and challenges. English language does have a flow, but not quite at the level of most other languages. It usually takes more than seventeen syllables to develop the kind of artful arrangement of sounds and syllables that make true haiku effective.

Still, seventeen syllables can go a long way given some time and focus. It is the weekly emphasis on those seventeen, traditionally arranged in stanzas of five, seven, and five, that impressed me most about this region. As a lurker in early 2019, I found that without fail, people wrote poetry on Tuesdays. This weekly activity, started by Bran Astor in April of 2018, has generated an impressive number of haiku—some snarky, some silly, some magnificent.

I began a regional history project by creating a collection and commentary in the June 2020 issue of The Western Post. Thankfully, fellow enthusiasts United Adaikes and Fhaengshia have emerged to join in the work of our Cultural Trust. We three haiku enthusiasts decided to band together and produce a year in review in regional haiku as the inaugural feature of a monthly Haiku review. This review in turn will serve as the official curated collection of our region’s poetry. Below are three curated favorites by each author with some brief comments on why we love them.

Fhaengshia’s Faves

Fujai wrote:I'm not usually good at coming up with haiku on the spot, but Fuentana's posts today have inspired me! This one is about the statue on top of the state capitol here.

Sun shining over
The woman and her badger
Revered, but alone

Comment: Opening with some context, Fujai joins in on Haikuesday with an atmospheric poem humanising an iconic statue in a way many of us have felt this year.

The Holy Principality of Saint Mark wrote:Sharing life and love
Raising children grows your heart
Changed for the better

Comment: In a year of trauma it has been hard for many to find positives, The Holy Principality of Saint Mark (Halo) comes through for us as usual with a heartwarming haiku sharing the incomparable love a parent has for their children.

Willow Gate wrote:Salt crust on my lips,
Doubloons safe in my pocket;
Ahoy me hearties!

Comment: The pirate theme of TWPAF lends a patriotic air to any reference to piracy. Speak Like a Pirate Day is given special meaning by this and was extended in the region so both Punday Monday and Haikuesday could celebrate the theme. Willow Gate’s haiku captures the essence of TWPAF with the adventuring spirit, successful raids, and good-hearted nature of the crew.

Adaikes’ Faves:

Sensorland wrote:Neither snow nor rain…
Thank a mail carrier day!
For all their hard work.

Comment: Well not necessarily mail carriers, thank everyone, if you can, for their exemplary service!

And if you want to impress a literature major (or just a haiku fan), you can always hit them up with haikus like this!

Qapaq suyu wrote:"I lost my number"
I said to a girl I saw,
"May I please have yours?"

Comment: Well, if you are just here in TWP for today, I suggest you extend your stay for a week, as..

Fuentana wrote:This region’s culture
Is carried on by good folks
They’ll teach our customs

Comment: Every day of the week, there are always things to do in TWP. Either in RMB, in forums, or in Discord. I’ll ask you again if you still want to leave after a week. Enjoy your stay!

Fuentana’s Faves

Yy4u wrote:Haikuesday again
That time of week we speak of
refrigerators

Teralyon wrote:Xoriet needed
a nuke resistant shelter,
Refrigerator.

Comment: I’m cheating by including two in one. It is not uncommon to find Japanese haiku that form a sort of dialogue or collaboration, and the region has done this over time by using the five-syllable word refrigerator.

Geckingen wrote:A haiku for you
So much falling from the sky
first ash, now snow.

Fire and smoke Monday
Snow and black ice on Tuesday
yay Colorado

Comment: Generally, haiku is known for focusing on themes and experiences in nature. Here, Geckingen is drawing on beauty and on contrast. What falls from the sky in Colorado? One imagines snow, and when snowfall is not in the form of a massive winter storm, it is one of the most enchanting experiences people can have.

But in a year that involved no shortage of crises, natural landscapes were not always so enchanting. The proliferation of wildfires posed a serious threat to many people in Colorado, California, and several other states. Hence what I interpret to be a wistful remark: yay Colorado.

The Unified Missourtama States wrote:NationStates, a world
The West Pacific, a sea
Missourtama, waves

Comment: TUMS’ haiku reflects one of the English writing techniques of comparison. There are three levels here, each wonderful: the world as a whole, a sea—perhaps peaceful and soothing with steady gentle waves breaking, then a single wave that is part of that sea. Perhaps it is a wave that is more powerful than the previous? Perhaps it signals how each nation can make waves (pun intended—it’s The West Pacific after all). It’s left to the viewer to interpret the significance and meaning of the comparisons. But that’s the beauty of haiku: it communicates feelings that can be explored and interpreted from all sorts of angles. It does something.

Afterword
It was Wallace Stevens who observed that the poet is the “priest of the invisible.” Haiku poetry is powerful, marvelous, and fun precisely because it makes the invisible visible. It warms hearts and elicits gregarious laughs, or bids adieu to heroes. This region would be impoverished without the thoughtful, witty, snarky, silly poetry that adorns our message board every week. (Speaking of: there is a region devoted to Haiku; it’s well worth a visit).

This feature launches what will be a monthly Haiku Review. We will select and publish our favorite Haikuesday submissions each month, and through this generate a full collection of this region’s poetry (and those of friends). During the upcoming Festival of the Three Perfections, Fuentana will run another haiku workshop. Stay tuned for that, and in the meantime: keep writing.

Want to get more involved? Contact any of the authors to join our work as members of The West Pacific Fine Arts Society, a branch of The West Pacific Cultural Trust.

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Shenanigans in the Deep Midwinter

By Giovanniland

When the month of December started, the West Pacific embarked upon a month of Midwinter Shenanigans. Several activities such as a regional Secret Santa, snowman building, holiday music and many others took place during this month, and this article will cover these events! (Note: card-related events are covered in-depth in a separate article.)

The celebration officially started December 2, the same day Secret Santa sign-ups opened. After a week, over 20 people signed up for the event and matches were sent out. In the end, many interesting gifts were shared! For example, Kuramia from Europeia wrote a parody of an Indiana Jones conversation that happened in the regional discord server, titled Indiana Zoran and the Meritocrabcy of the Crustacean Skull. The story was later shared to other residents by Zoran, the recipient. Another remarkable gift were the flags designed by our former delegate Bran Astor as a gift for Aluminum Oxynitride. The flags were themed on popular film franchises, namely Avengers and Star Wars.

Another event hosted early in the month were the Snowman Building polls. Five polls were created by Giovanniland, asking the region to decide number of snowballs, body decoration, head decoration, hat and finally the name for the regional snowman. The first poll was a close competition between three and four snowballs, but the latter option prevailed in the end. In the next three polls, the region chose a pirate theme for the snowman: pirate clothes with regional colors; then an eye patch, a beard and a bottle of rum for the nose; and finally a pirate hat. Finally, several pirate-themed names were selected and residents named our regional snowman Frost Beard. After the polls, some residents then designed their own versions of Frost Beard, such as Aluminum Oxynitride (ALON)! They described their cookie-snowman as "carrying twin candy cane dualing pistols, a blood red coat, a tricorn hat, and the-closest-sprinkle-I-could-find-to-a-rum-bottle nose!"


ALON's design of the regional snowman, Frost Beard.

Later in the month, two Midwinter Music concerts happened: a cello performance by Rabbitz and Christmas songs on the guitar by Fuentana. The former went on for two hours and had a very large audience of 15 listeners on average! Furthermore, a special surprise was shown at the end by our delegate Dilber: a reading of 'Twas the Night before Christmas by resident thespian Big Bad Badger, which can be seen Linkat this link. Fuentana's concert was held on Christmas Day, and had seven listeners on average. Both were highly successful and a feature likely to continue in the next years!

Other notable activities happened throughout the month. Every Friday, nations could submit their favorite Christmas songs to the #holidaytunes regional playlist. In the third week of the month (Ugly Sweater Week), nations wore sweaters on their flags—some members truly went for the ugly design while others actually had some nice sweaters. Charity events were also hosted by our delegate Dilber to raise funds for the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to LGBTQ+ young people: first a stream and then a movie night to watch Die Hard (which is a Christmas movie).

Last but not least, the Reindeer Death Match took place after Christmas. Comet had won last year against the previous champion Blitzen, but did not succeed in retaining the title. Eight other reindeer—Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Blitzen, Vixen, Donner, Cupid and Rudolph—fought for the coveted chance of fighting Comet. In the end, none other than the previous champion, Blitzen, won all the rounds and claimed the title back!

We at the Western Post hope that everyone had a merry Christmas, and we thank all people that participated on our Midwinter Shenanigans. Stay tuned for more regional events and, when December comes again, another edition filled with many winter-themed activities!

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Card Club Update: Pull Event and More!

By Giovanniland

The Card Club update has been a new addition to the past two editions of the Western Post that's bound to stay! This month was particularly eventful, with a holidays-themed contest and a pull event for some special cards.

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First, we'll talk about the Pull Event. For the ones that may not know, that is an event where people have a greater chance of finding a valuable card when bids are being repeatedly increased during an auction. After some time of planning, it was announced on December 8th and took place five days later on the Sunday evening of December 13th. Many card farmers from the West Pacific and afar were excited, and the event officially began at 18:00 EST that day.

The ultra-rare card of Punk Reloaded and the uncommon card of Punk Daddy were placed at auction by myself (Giovanniland) using the nation of Western Card Storage G. The reason these cards were chosen is because both nations are owned by a former TWP delegate, and also the high value as a result of being ex-nation cards. Due to game mechanics better explained later in this article, a match of 250.00 bank (the in-game currency of Trading Cards) was made for the former and 100.00 bank for the latter. This continued for two and a half hours, until no more bids were increased and the auctions finally resolved as planned one hour later. Unfortunately, there were some difficulties during the pull event. Some auctions started after the event had begun took some pulls instead of the two planned cards. Nevertheless, the event was still successful, because nine pulls happened across the two cards—five for the Punk Daddy card and four for Punk Reloaded. Below there's an alphabetical list of traders who pulled the cards:

Punk Reloaded:

Punk Daddy:

Some of these deserve a mention for being very lucky, such as Vylixan, the only nation to pull copies of both cards. Vylixan later gifted his copy of Punk Daddy to Elegarth, a former Delegate of TWP and also an important member of the New Pacific Order, the community Vylixan comes from. Feu de Glace pulled two copies of Punk Daddy and later gifted one to Valerievna, the delegate of Osiris. Finally, a TWP resident (namely Kokera) also had a lucky find, although not much more is known about this nation.

Game mechanics help explain how the cards were generated, and the relative success of the event. Firstly, pull events are one effect of an in-game system called TCALS (Trading Cards Anti-Laundering Service). This system was originally brought to the trading cards game because of how easy it was to transfer money between puppet nations, but soon it was found out it could be useful to duplicate cards—so much that TCALS was nerfed in July 2020. Essentially, TCALS gives cards currently on auction a higher chance of being found in packs less than 2 minutes old. The exact mechanic is unknown, but it is generally accepted that repeatedly increasing bids also increases the odds of more people pulling the card. Therefore, pull events are generally done that way.

However, that's not all to TCALS. A range of factors are believed to affect which card is chosen over the many currently at auction, and how many pulls a card will have during the event, many of which are shrouded in mystery. Two factors are probably the most important ones—rarity and bid value, which together form a bid/junk value ratio. Both can be understood given the original goal of TCALS: lower rarities are prioritized because transfers are usually done with common or uncommon cards; and the more bank is transferred, the higher the risk is. Thus, a pull event of 250.00 bank for an ultra-rare card may have its pulls diverted to a common card being transferred at 50.00 bank, because the bid/junk value ratio of the common (50/0.01 = 5,000) is higher than the ultra-rare (250.00/0.20 = 1,250). This is what happened during the pull event, reducing the number of pulls for the intended cards.

Nevertheless, many farmers still pulled the card as shown above, and in the end it was a successful event. We hope all participants had fun during this special event, whether they found the card or not, and there will surely be other TWP pull events in the future!

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The other major card-related activity during our month of Midwinter Shenanigans was our Tree Decoration Card Contest, happening from December 7th to 24th. Participants of this contest were told to collect cards that would fit as decorations on their ideal Christmas tree. However, it was not required to stick completely to the holidays theme, so they were encouraged to be creative. In the end, there were two submissions, one from Aluminum Oxynitride (ALON) and the other authored by Fhaengshia:

ALON: page=deck/collection=32501
Fhaengshia: page=deck/collection=32500

Aluminum Oxynitride also gave a description of their collection: "Most cards were included because of their flag. At the top of the tree (epic cards), I have a star. Also a dove flying by, symbolizing peace. Moving down the tree to the UR section, is the first ornament. Then we get two rare Christmas trees. Next, what Christmas would be complete without the Grinch? I included several common cards with flags that look like ornaments, along with a few more trees to decorate. Because of all the lights, my tree attracted a moth. Finally, the cards included make a pine-tree shape!"

After Christmas, both submissions were reviewed by the three Card Club judges Giovanniland, Fuentana and Recuecn and an unanimous decision was reached: ALON's entry won the contest! However, the judges agreed that Fhaengshia also built an interesting collection, thus prizes were awarded to both participants: ALON won a legendary season 2 North East Somerset card, while Fhaengshia was given a copy of the epic season 2 Queen Yuno card. Congratulations to both collectors, which created awesome collections for this holidays-themed card contest.

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Those were all card-related events for the month. Hopefully there shall be more interesting activities in the upcoming year of 2021. Stay tuned for more articles about cards, including a Season Three special when (and if) the new season is released!

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Comic Alley

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2nd TWP Rugby World Cup
By Giovanniland

The West Pacific hosted several sports roleplay events recently, such as the 1st Rugby World Cup and the 1st Summer Olympics. In order to bring this year to a perfect end a second edition of our Rugby World Cup took place! The tournament happened in the nation of Dilber, although it was scorinated by Recuecn. Twenty-one nations joined the event, a quorum greater to the previous edition, and many of them posted reports of their national team's matches or other interesting information related to the event.

The event took place Linkin our regional forums. Participant nations were divided into four groups, one with six nations and all others with five. After the group stage, the top two nations of each group then advanced to the quarterfinals, playing knockoff matches up until the final and the 3rd place match. The final was won by tournament newcomer Zoran 10-6 against Dalimbar, while United Adaikes scored 14-0 against Kurabis to win the bronze medal. Unfortunately, no nations from the previous edition's podium managed that feat again: Hertfordshire and Jammbo and Fujai were eliminated at the quarterfinals, while Giovanniland did not achieve enough points in the group stage.

Some of the controversies from last edition reappeared in this world cup, such as the host nation Dilber's use of performance-enhancing drugs. Composed of children and elder people in addition to players of usual age for sports, the Dilberian team reportedly had some members with a younger age compared to the last edition—although the team refused to explain why. Unfortunately for Dilber, their national team didn't advance past the group stage. The tensions between Dalimbar and their neighbors (such as Fujai) also continued, with Fujai's Den Blå Duken even reporting ended friendships after some Fujar rooted for the Dalimbari. Fortunately, no protests happened during the games this time, unlike the first World Cup.


Visualization of the Dalimbari Rugby Rankings, Linkfull version available here

A few nations that entered for the first time also were brought into the spotlight, such as gold medalists Zoran and bronze medalists United Adaikes. The Adaikesians captured the attention of many after defeating former champion Hertfordshire and Jammbo, and maintaining a strong defense throughout the tournament. Zoran, a country embroiled in civil war, was noticed for using refugees fleeing the nation in order to distract their opponents' rugby players. This was particularly notable during the final match, when the refugees attacked some Dalimbari players because Dalimbar supplied landmines to the Zoranian Civil War's corporate faction, paving the way for Zoranian victory. Another interesting and amusing highlight were the Zoranian Times' reports, in which the main reporter Quiyakaso often experienced unexpected happenings, such as an attack from Dilberian seagulls that had been injected with drugs from BetterBy Pharma.

Finally, some nations were praised for their interesting creation of statistics to provide other nations with better insights into the World Cup, for example Dalimbar despite their controversies above. The Department of Sports of Dalimbar created the LinkTWP Rugby Rankings to measure how powerful each team was and predict future matches' results. Each team started with 50.00 points in the rankings, a number adjusted after each match according to how many rugby points a team scored, whether they had home advantage or not, and the overall result of the match. The information from the Dalimbari rankings was later used by Fujai to create a dynamic chart of how rankings changed during both rugby tournaments, which can be seen Linkin this link. Furthermore, United Adaikes also brought statistics before the last group stage match about which nations could mathematically qualify for the quarterfinals and the ideal match results for each nation to achieve that feat.

Overall, the 2nd TWP Rugby World Cup was a successful event, with residents from West Pacifican nations watching their team's matches, and nations providing their own media coverage. During the past year as a whole, the West Pacific hosted several sport roleplay events, and many players behind the nations took some time to write interesting stories about the games. We hope that 2021 will have many more activities like these!

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The Western Post Staff - Delegate-in-Editor-in-Chief: Dilber Editors: Fuentana, Fujai, Recuecn Staff: Aluminum Oxynitride, Bran Astor, Fhaengshia, Giovanniland, Gryphonian Alliance, Nieubasria, Overthinkers, Podium, Teralyon, United Adaikes, and LinkYOU

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