[OSGeo-Discuss] Distracting discussions of discussing [was:] What is North America?

Adrian Custer acuster at gmail.com
Sun Nov 13 09:27:10 PST 2011

On Sat, 2011-11-12 at 10:07 +0100, Jean-Philippe Lagrange wrote:
> Hi Adrian,
> Should now French people feel some prejudice because of your disparaging words? 

Jean-Phillipe Lagrange,

There were no "disparaging words" in my email. I am a native speaker of
English so I know how to use the language pretty well to have it say
what I mean to say rather than something else. Also, I had no intent to
disparage the people of the country where I was born, where I have spent
the past few years, and where part of my family lives. So if you have
read something you find disparaging of yourself or others in my email,
please know that you have invented it.

Also, since these emails are (1) lighthearted (2) ironic and (3) joking,
it would be best if everyone made the effort to read them looking for
irony and happiness rather than looking for insults. Arnulf is playing
on the tensions between 'north americans' and others in the americas,
playing on the history of violent confrontation between those groups. He
is playing in order to, light heartedly, call into question what 'North
american' might mean for a regional chapter of OSGeo. That is the
interesting question. 

The rest of this bantering is merely irrelevant irreverent political
banter. Even 'gringo' that started this all, is, in my experience, used
much more frequently as a statement of fact, or as a lighthearted
comment, than as a direct insult. I personally found it much quicker to
call myself a 'gringo' than the mouthful 'estado unidense' or 'norte
americano'. Daniel, to my surprise, finds the term obviously and clearly
insulting. Such is the spectrum of human experience. Nonetheless, I
suspect we all can recognize that Arnulf did not start his email trying
to insult people but rather, in a fit of his boundless energy, to spark
a discussion about the OSGeo chapter.


PS If you still consider my mail insulting, I would be glad to reassure
you that it was not written that way. Contact me directly, in french if
you like, and we can resolve this offline. 

> Should we follow up by wondering what natives of Northern America 
> think of 'occupation which sucks'?

By all means. Although, if you look at my last name, you will perhaps
understand that I usually start with the genocidal conquest of these
united states rather than end up considering it.

> Such consideration do not lead anybody anywhere. Nowadays borders are 
> a result of history, including past wars, and nobody should argue too 
> much against the formers, for we do not want the latters to develop 
> again among nations.

Actually, many people do argue against and question borders; others try
to undermine the nation states and focus on human well being instead.

> By the way, French Islands in your area do not stop at two bitty islands 
> off the Eastern coast, you may also include French Antillas, 

Except that this was the whole point of Arnulf's email; the carribean is
almost never considered part of 'north america' despite being (1) in the
americas and (2) north of the equator. Nor is the much more sizeable

> not so far 
> from Puerto Rico, recently added to the USA.
> Best,
> JP
> ________________________________________
> De : discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org [discuss-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] de la part de Adrian Custer [acuster at gmail.com]
> Date d'envoi : vendredi 11 novembre 2011 20:25
> À : OSGeo Discussions
> Objet : Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] What is North America?
> On Fri, 2011-11-11 at 11:29 +0100, Seven (aka Arnulf) wrote:
> > Hash: SHA1
> >
> > Now that a North American Regional Chapter is emerging I wanted to
> > understand what the term "North America" actually means. Just a few
> > example:
> >
> > In my cultural context (Germany) the Unites States on their own are
> > typically called "Amerika" which in reality is a whole continent. To
> > many Germans Kanada (yes, with a "K") is just a US wilderness adventure
> > park (Canadians: no offence meant). In many South American countries US
> > citizens are nowadays called "Gringo" which originally meant "Green Go"
> > and relates to US "interventions" in Middle and Southern America.
> >
> > So for many non-North-Americans the term might be really, really fuzzy
> > which is why I thought it would be a good idea to define it more
> > closely, started here:
> > http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Talk:North_America_Regional
> >
> > Looking at the typical roles of a local chapter (or in this case a "meta
> > local chapter" or "regional chapter") I would suggest that this chapter
> > would be the primary point of contact for the organization of a FOSS4G
> > event in English language in either the US or Canada. Extending it
> > beyond these two countries would probably raise a whole lot of
> > additional issues starting with language (Spanish) and ending with
> > politics (Cuba) - which will probably complicate things beyond
> > recognition. I can also see other meta chapters forming with a more
> > Spanish speaking background in the Middle Americas, so there is no
> > exclusivity here at all. The Spanish speaking Local Chapter might also
> > be a good template to see how this could look.
> >
> > But anything I say here is absolutely not fundamental at all, just 2ct
> > from an outsider (sent in the hope that this list will see a broadly
> > inclusive dialog about how this group will evolve).
> >
> > Have fun,
> > Arnulf
> What a strange mail.
> If you are playing with a definition based on geography and nation
> states, then you have to include France as well in North America for the
> two itty, bitty islands it claims of the eastern coast---doesn't
> territorial occupation suck?
> Your language argument, however, seems to abandon any geographic basis
> and focus on English based on some definition by cultural domination.
> For a geographic definition, you would have to include French both for
> Québec and for the French territories in the Atlantic(vis above). To be
> realistic, you should probably include Spanish a well since that is an
> officially supported language in many regions of America, north of the
> Rio Grande. Finally, if you wanted to be correct, then there are many,
> many other languages spoken here, many of which are native to the
> geographic region.
> Then again, if you leave things vague, then people who want to do 'free
> software' in 'the general area around the great lakes' might all want to
> play. Oh sorry, not the people focused on freedom, the people focused on
> 'openness' of source 'code' for whatever benefit that might bring.
> But anything I say here is absolutely a waste of time.
> ~adrian
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