It occurs to me that, since an Open Thread is desıgned to wander around multiple topics, why shouldn’t the post do so as well. So this one is going to start with technology and end up at politics.
This past year, I’ve been working on a project with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Addresses, Names, and Numbers). These are the folks who keep track of things like domain names – so you can’t go out and register obsidianwings.blogs.com, because we already got that. Also of the servers which translate those domain names into actual addresses.
This project is on the Internationalization of Domain Names. We are all accustomed to names which end with .com or .gov or .edu – a legacy of the Internet’s origin as a US government project. ICANN has opened up the possibility of new TLDs (Top Level Domain names) like these, so there are now things like .hotel and .ru. But at the moment, you are limited to the 26 letters used in English. So while you could get .cologne or .koln, you can’t get .köln, which is how the city’s name is properly spelled in German. Likewise, while .jp is available in Japan, you can’t get .日本. This project is intended to expand the repertoire of symbols which are available.
And to figure out which symbols conflict. For example, if one domain name uses the letter a, there probably isn’t a problem with another which is the same except for using ắ (Latin Small Letter A with Breve and Acute) – there’s enough difference that people would notice. But how about i and ı (Latin Small Dotless Letter I), which is used in Turkish? Would you notice? DID you notice, when I slipped it in in the first sentence? Nah, you probably saw what you expected to see. It’s not a trivial problem.
Anyway, this past week I’ve been at an ICANN conference where we have been, among other things, thrashing out some of the issues face-to-face. It’s been in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as scheduled. After Hurricane Maria, there was some discussion about relocating. But we decided to stay, and it’s worked out fine. The lights (and the AC!) are on, the Internet works fine, etc.
But we’re the first major conference here since the hurricane, and the Puerto Ricans have pulled out all the stops to send a message that they are up and running again. To the point that we even had the Governor, Ricky Rosselló, at the Opening Session. He’s a young guy (late 30s and looks mid-20s), and he got off the best line of the morning: “I want to assure you that I am not just some junior staffer from the Office of the Governor. I actually am the Governor!” It got a good laugh.
But it caused me to wonder. Suppose at some point he were to decide to run for President. He’s a “natural born citizen”** of the United States, after all. And since Puerto Rico has no electors, the requirement that electors must vote for at least one of President and Vice President who is not from their own state doesn’t matter. So, why the heck not?
** It occurs to me suddenly to wonder. If we get to the point of having uterine replicators, would those who gestate in a bottle be regarded as “natural born”?