Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Impress me Congress

Not only do we get a new President but we get the same Congress. If we really want to shake things up and 'drain the swamp' let the new government consider the following:
  • Eliminate coining the penny and nickel. They are both cost more to produce than they're worth and neither furthers commerce. 
  • De-centralize the legislature. Move the representatives from the House back to their respective states. There's no reason for 'local' representatives to live in D.C. and thereby be within easy reach of K-street. With modern IT systems there's no need to send everyone to one city. Do this for the Senate as well. Keep the buildings and such for ceremonial duties.
  • While we've moved the reps back to the states, let's increase their numbers. The U.S. has had a set number of reps since 1913. Each representative served 211k constituents. Today each rep serves 758k. I'm not sure how one person can represent 200k let alone 758k of people. If we want a people's house and not a second Senate, we've got to add more politicians.
  • Abolish the Electoral College. I'm not saying this from sour grapes, I'm saying that this system is antiquated to the needs of our republic.
  • Ranked-choice voting. The reason we have only two parties is that our election system (first-past-the-post) leads to it.
  • Make national elections a national holiday. Shouldn't we celebrate our republic?
  • Pay down/off the national debt. We almost had this in the early 2000s. Don't screw this up again. Here's a better idea from the right side of the aisle. Only allow the government to spend what it has collected in the previous year.
  • Add a national service system that parallels the military. I can think of no other equalizer of and to others than the armed forces, but not everyone wants to nor should risk their life.
I'm not holding out hope that any of these things will be done in the next session, but I could be surprised.

Monday, November 14, 2016

My thoughts on the recent POTUS election.

The main feeling I get from this election is that the majority of people thought they had two choices

  1. A lying politician whose bullshit they could see openly.
  2. A lying politician whose bullshit couldn't be seen and wouldn't be acknowledged.
Given the choice of these two items, the EC granted #1 the win. And for all of the desire for change and draining the swamp, the same rats (90%+) were sent back to the swamp.

Given the results I have a few hunches on what will happen in the next few years.
  • Rs will pass massively underfunded budgets and claim how awesome that they are since deficits and debt don't matter until there's a Democratic branch of government.
  • Rs will forget all about Presidential power abuses and not seek to re-constrain the executive branch powers
  • Rs will become victims of their own hubris and over-reach.
  • There will be a recession - we're overdue according to the Motley Fool podcast.
More thoughts later about what I'd like to see from an even vaguely functioning Congress.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Grief-enabled gaming

I was going to title this twat-enabled gaming, but that seemed like the wrong thing to put in the title.

In my past games with @princessofworld@banky, @AndrewDPickard, and others we always played games that while competitive never really put one player out of the rest of the game. Battlestar Galactica comes to mind, as does Dune and a few others. One can lose the game and still feel it was a good time. I have yet to lose BSG or Dune and feel left out of the action.

However, there are those games that commit the ultimate player sin - wasting someone's time. The mechanics of these games enable that sin. Putting someone in a glass house and forcing them to watch the game play is sadistic.

I've played five bouts of the 4X game Eclipse. This last game I played, I made a tactical mistake on turn two and had my next door player crush my homeworld on turn three. I was assured by the rest of the table that I wasn't out of it, so I continued. I waited and tried to take back my homeworld on a subsequent turn. This caused the neighbor to crush me again with what I considered an ostentatious over-kill. I am not proud of myself, but I was more than a bit upset about him re-routing the weakest player on the board. Hash and loud words were exchanged.

I sat there fuming and doing essentially nothing for the next few hours. When the opponent finally started scorching my remaining worlds, I packed up and left, in a huff. There was another four of nine turns left in the game. The game enabled the asshole in me.

I'm not mad at my opponent for taking advantage of a weaker neighbor and my play mistakes. What I am still upset about is that I was left crippled without a chance to play. This is a dick move. A better player would have finished me off quickly. If it were me, I would have explained to my opponent what mistake I capitalized on that allowed me to so quickly take his position. There's no sense in letting someone hang around who can't affect the outcome.

Another instance was one of my last rounds with SmashUp. SmashUp has a lot of mess-with-your opponent mojo going for it. In general it's a pretty fun little game, but there is a faction whose power is basically to make everyone else at the table not play. On top of that they can give out negative victory points thereby making everyone else's game harder. This can be done while they themselves don't have to make winning moves. This entirely neuters the point of playing. Myself and other players sat for three or four turns not playing. I'm not sure what schedules other people have, but as a 40-something with a family, I can not play games in a much more productive manner at home.

Then there's the Lannister faction from Game of Thrones. I'm about ready to give my copy away due to the fact that I've played them all five times I've played the game and they wind up being crippled by turn three or four. Again, playing a weaker starting position isn't the worst thing, but this game's mechanics encourage glass-housing.

Games that enable this type of behavior even unintentionally are broken. I'm sure my Eclipse opponent is a decent enough fellow, but this type of game-enabled griefing left a bad taste in my mouth. I doubt I'll be invited back to play this game again and that's probably for the best. I'm going to give GoT one more try as not-Lannister to see how it goes.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A tale of two corporations

For those of you not following the SCOTUS, the high court handed down a decision today that was met with great cheering by some and dreadful concern by others. From my perspective, it allows a specific type of company held by religious adherents to inflict their particular religious beliefs upon their employees.

Hobby Lobby can now deny birth control to their female employees due to their owners *belief* that birth control pill, IUDs, and hormone injections are abortifacients. This belief is held in opposition to what biology tells us about how the female body works. This targets only one group of employees - women. There is nothing the owners of the company withhold from their male employees.

Let's contrast this to where I work.

As best I can tell, my workplace is a privately held corporation owned by conservative Jews. The owners will cater kosher meals for lunch meetings off of an approved vendor list. However, they don't mandate that all the employees observe kosher or sabbath rules on site(I can bring my ham sandwich to work on Saturday). This company will even expense lunches out for employees at non-kosher restaurants - shrimp pizza for our team today!

So the question becomes, which employer is really more pious? Is it the one that inflicts their particular view of scripture on a set of employees, or is it the one that having had a history of persecution sets standards for themselves, but doesn't insist that the rest of the workers obey them as well?

Apparently Hobby Lobby was all too willing to let their and their employee's money grow with the suppliers of birth control.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Running scared

This is the tale of my first official half marathon race. The story is in this Garmin Connect link, but it's formatting is wretched.

This is the tale of two races; the first nine miles and the next four. The race started and I was fine pacing at 9-ish or so, but I did notice the road was a bit uneven. "No matter" I thought, as long as my pace an heart rate were good I'd be fine.

About mile six or seven I noticed my left knee was starting to hurt but I thought I'd just adjust my technique and it would be fine. It wasn't. Mile ten was that start of the hurt. It felt like someone was driving a ten-penny nail under my kneecap every time I tried to go at more than a walk. There is not rhythm you can sustain like that. 

The next miles were me talking myself up and gutting it out, but it was starting to wear on me and sometime in mile twelve I seriously wondered if I was going to finish. I was hurt and upset. I'd never had knee problems before. These last three miles were walk/shuffle run/walk/repeat. 

I came down the final hill(downhill was the worst) and as I made the final turn I was starting to get scared that my family would see me seriously injured just as I came in. My mind was focused on keeping a jog and not making any mis-step that would hurt my knee further. 

I finished and I just couldn't speak. I was proud I'd finished but I was as scared as I'd ever been in a run. I just sat down and gathered myself because I think I would have sobbed had I continued to stand. 

I gathered my medal and thought that this was the first time I was proud to get a participant medal. I wore it all the way out of the race area because I knew how much pain went into getting it around my neck. 

I'm not going to run for a week. I'm going to relax, surf, and find a new gym. Next week I'll consider running again. I'm going to do another half-marathon because I know I can run it at a 9:00 pace if the knees hold together.

Monday, January 27, 2014

In which I circle back to the beginning

I've finally gotten off of my lazy butt and registered this domain at our original name -  You're welcome.  I'm glad all of my readers could wait eleven years for this to happen again.  Who knows, it might lead to more regular posts.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Mr. Life-changer.

I started writing this blog deep in the winter of 2003.  I was self-hosting and basically taking this up as a geek project.  I also took it up to document the pregnancy and birth of my first child.  Janet documented that quite well(sorry only 2 of 3 pages got archived).

I was full of optimism at the future of my parenting.  I still am, but I've got a better idea of who this child is.  Here he is on his first day home:
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You may notice some developmental changes in this picture.  Yes, that's the same onesie he wore home.

He's ten.  He's the same age as our car and he's the reason we bought a house.  I'm alternatively amazingly proud of him and insanely hostile to him as well.  I love him more than he can fathom and I see so much of myself in him good and bad.

I think Matthew is an orchid child.  This is both blessing and curse.  If I were a more serious parent, I'd make sure to tend to the ground and keep it fertilized.  Unfortunately for him, I'm not much of a gardener. but he hasn't wilted yet.

I wish you a very happy birthday son.  You have changed my life in ways unexpected and awe-inspiring.  I love you and I always will