Politics 2016

Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment, but this primary season has been so utterly bizarre that I feel some responsibility to opine on it, even if just for my own future reference.

Here’s some thoughts, in no particular order, in bullet point form. Since I’m sure you already know my thoughts about the candidates themselves, these are some more general thoughts about things that have been bothering me this primary season.

  • Progressives and liberals are continually coming off as more closed-minded to me than many conservatives. Case in point: When Hillary chose Tim Kaine as her running mate, the first reaction I saw from many people was that “he’s pro-life”. Yet every indication is that, despite his personal beliefs, he’s been a champion for a woman’s right to choose and for safe abortion practices in his state. He seems to be an excellent case of not letting personal opinions get in the way of policy, and this is something to be widely lauded, not condemned. Why the hell are people so threatened by people that disagree with them?
    (This keeps coming up, but this also bothered me a lot about Brendan Eich. Who cares what his opinions and finances are as long as he acts appropriately in his capacity as CEO?)
  • For that matter, why is Hillary’s (and Obama’s) changing stances a problem? Do you really want a politician who holds steadfastly to their policies even as times change around them? I totally understand the argument “but she’s saying stuff just to get elected”, but then I see this come up again on how she’s shifted her stance on things like same-sex marriage. People are allowed to change their opinions based on compelling arguments and facts — if anything, this is also something that should be encouraged and lauded, not condemned.
  • Jill Stein has been really pissing me off this primary season, and making me regret having voted for her in the past. I’m all for her doing everything she can to push her party and garner votes, but a lot of what she’s been saying lately has been so utterly ridiculous and irresponsible to me that I have a hard time believing she’s not only a presidential candidate, but actually a candidate that a lot of my friends (that I would normally consider very reasonable people) are somewhat gravitating to.
  • Bernie Sanders is an Independent, guys. He’s not really a Democrat, even though he often voted with (and caucused with) the Democrats. So can you really blame the DNC for being super cautious (and concerned) with his candidacy, especially given what was happening in the Republican camp at the time with Trump? I totally understand the ire and disdain being sent toward the leadership and the bias in the process… but I still think they were in the right with this. If I was a Democrat, particularly one charged with managing the party and nomination process, I would absolutely be terrified and threatened of what Bernie was doing. It’s bizarre to me that so many people can’t see and understand this. They’re acting like the DNC overruled the voice of the people or something. (Because yeah, first it was “Bernie has more votes without superdelegates” and then “Bernie can still win if he gets most superdelegates on board”. He got fewer votes, guys.)
  • As above, I actually think the superdelegates are an extremely good mechanism and I’m sad to see changes to force their votes to be more in line with the popular vote. In a discussion back in March, way before any of this stuff had really hit the fan, I remember everyone basically agreeing that the superdelegates would never overrule the will of the people — to do so would give the impression that Hillary had been coronated and risk throwing unnecessary controversy on the results. (Yeah… that happened anyway. I blame Bernie’s supporters here.) In the end, I think the role of superdelegates is (and should be) to prevent someone like Trump from winning the nomination — someone so absolutely out of touch with the party and politics that he is not only unlikable, but actually threatening both to the party and the country as a whole. I’m sure the Republicans would have loved an equivalent on their end so they could have nominated Kasich (or even Cruz) instead.
  • I actually like Bernie and what he stands for and many of his views. (And I voted for him in the PA primary.) But I think his supporters are so blinded that they refuse to acknowledge any potential fault with his candidacy — mostly his idealism that would prevent most of his agenda from actually being enacted in office, and the fact that his policies would be a *huge* turnoff to older voters. The latter part probably proved moot anyway (now that he would be up against Trump), but it was a huge concern I had when debating my primary vote. Look at the Obama of 2008 and where he is now — he’s managed to get stuff done because he’s softened his stances and worked within the system. Bernie (particularly in defeat) showed me that he’s incapable of doing this.
  • I actually understand a lot of Trump’s appeal, and why people are willing to overlook the parts of him that many people consider to be deal breakers. It bothers me when people automatically label Trump supporters as ignorant or racist or malicious. Just like millions in 2008 felt like Obama was a voice of hope and reason in the screwed up political process, so people feel about Trump now. (But probably even more so given his lack of political experience and no-nonsense attitude.) I wish everyone would try more to find common ground and have legitimate discussions instead of demonizing.
  • I also understand people that say they can’t vote for Hillary. Different people have different deal breakers in politicians. Hillary is certainly a flawed candidate. It bothers me when people outright demonize everyone looking to vote third party. That said…
  • I don’t understand people saying they’ll vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson (or Trump) solely “because Bernie was robbed” (which is a ridiculous assertion in the first place). If you liked Bernie as a candidate for his policies and views… there’s actually remarkably little difference between his and Hillary’s. (Especially now that the two have agreed on a party platform.) The fact that you’re willing to sabotage the progress that you were working so hard for only months before seems extremely petty, irresponsible, and malicious. Vote third party because you agree with their policies, or because Bernie’s appeal was his “outsider” nature (as much as someone who’s been in national politics since at least the 80s can be). Don’t vote third party just because you hate Hillary as a candidate or feel slighted by her, the process, or the DNC.
  • As much as I dislike Ted Cruz’s policies (and disagree that Kasich is a “moderate”), I really respect their reactions to the Trump nomination. They have more of a backbone than a lot of people in the party, at least.

I keep saying that, if I had been born a few decades earlier, I would probably be a Republican. When Republicans govern responsibly (and if you ignore the crap about trickle down economics), they can actually be a reasonable party pushing for personal responsibility, smaller government, and states’ rights. I’m really rather disappointed that the party has been so utterly horrific the entire time I’ve been able to vote.

I haven’t taken any of those “which candidate do you agree with” tests this year since I think it’s important enough to vote Democratic (especially in what’s looking like a particularly important swing state), but I feel like I’ve always agreed more with either the Libertarian or Green parties than the Democrats or Republicans.
It would be nice to live in a country where you could always vote your first preference and see them have a real shot at winning… but being realistic here, there’s really only two candidates for president, and while your vote is your vote, I would really like everyone to seriously consider what would happen if Trump (as opposed to Hillary) won, and how a third-party vote would contribute to such.

Also here’s some links of things I found good to read. I may edit this list and add more links to it later.

Yay for wall of text. :X

Life and People Wars cards

I updated my photojournal today, since we’re closing in on the end of July. It’s been a rather busy few months, between redoing the deck, frequent traveling, and general work things. And we’re just getting started on the traveling part. :(

I finished and released the Juxtapositions expansion for People Wars last Saturday. It’s the longest I’ve ever gone between expansions (a year and a month), and I attribute that largely to the busyness of life… between rock climbing twice a week, board games once or twice a week, frequent rock band evenings, house work, and travel, there hasn’t really been time to work on side projects.
I consider this largely a good thing — doing things with people is always better than sitting alone at home in front of a screen working on card games — but it’s just interesting how much my life has standardized around a few activities (and a few people I see for those activities).
But it’s also sad in some ways. I have a lot of card games that have stalled for years (such as Investigations, RPG Get!, and thoughts for a “quick” multiplayer version of People Wars for game nights), and I just never can find the motivation to work on them. Oh well.
(In entirely unrelated news, my D7100 had its 10,000th shutter release recently, at the William and Greg birthday party, so that’s pretty awesome.)

In any case, People Wars now has 1584 different cards, which is by far the largest card set for any card game I’ve created (Student Wars is next with a measly 963). It also spans over 7 years of people, events, locations, and trips, making it kind of a documentary of my life as it was around the time of each expansion release.
That aspect is probably a large part of why I always want to have *some* card game in progress based on people I know… it gives my photography some outlet that isn’t just batching them to post online, and it also provides me some sort of easy look back on my life.

I’ve started work on the next set, tentatively titled Keith because I can’t think of a good word starting with “K” that otherwise fits the expansion concept.
The set is themed around “Facet” cards that can be played onto characters to specialize them. I’ve been toying with the mechanics for a while, oscillating between attaching them directly to characters, playing them as “additional” characters while the base one is in play, or just having them be standard characters with fewer traits and better abilities. For now, I think I’m going with the “attach” mechanic, but we’ll see if I change my mind here.
Here’s a sample card… the “Facet” icon is totally not finished yet.

Expansion names, opinions on mechanic, or general thoughts are always accepted and appreciated. :)

Life goes…

Adventures in decks

The deck was originally thought to be a weekend, or maybe a week project. We’re into the third week now and still have only finished the posts and railings. So it turns out it’s actually really hard to find 72 hours rain-free in Pittsburgh in the summer, and also scrubbing and sanding a deck (particularly all the little wooden posts) takes much longer than you’d expect. I think overall the deck scrubbing took 27 man hours, and sanding and staining doing 1/5 of the deck takes about 10 man hours. Assuming you can find the consecutive days of sun to do it.

We also had some fun… the first staining we did was on a weekend that called for no rain. But of course a cloud comes in from nowhere and drops a small amount of rain just as we put the first coat of stain on the railing. It turns out this causes little white spots to be permanently stuck in the stain. They’re fortunately a bit less visible now, and we applied a second layer of stain over it that seems to be doing fine.
Also, I spent Sunday morning sanding and staining some deck, only for the rain to come sooner than expected (overnight and Monday morning). But I guess ~12 hours was enough time for the stain to dry enough to be waterproof, because it survived the rain without visible problems, which I’m hoping means it’s fine.

It’s supposed to be dry now through Thursday, so hopefully we can sand the floor itself Wednesday evening, stain it early Thursday morning, and be okay for the rain coming Friday. That’ll be all of the functional part done.

Not much else happens in life. We had a work-from-home party last week where some people came over and we all worked together in the same room and got lunch together. It was a nice change from the usual working alone.

Russell was also around last week (For work), and there was rock banding and late night fooding. (No softball, unfortunately, as it was cancelled for the entire week due to field issues.)

Yay for life and things.

Life and links

Life is a thing. The parents came and went, and it was an awesome time, even though we didn’t really have many scheduled activities after the road trip. It was nice just generally having them around, I guess.

The latest house project is the deck. We fell behind on our time estimates (and also the forecast called for rain), so we’re only done with the scrubbing/cleaning part. We still need to sand and stain it at some point, but it needs to be when it’s going to be dry for a while, so we’ll see. It’s funny how much of a difference the cleaner makes.

I’ve had a lot of interesting reads recently, so here’s a dump of links to interesting things.

  • People that disagree with you aren’t necessarily wrong, or stupid – I think this is something that a lot of SJW (and other general) people are bad at recognizing. This is particularly true with things like abortion, LGBTQ rights, and Brexit… the other side has reasons for disagreeing, and digging your heels in is just going to make things worse. This is also why I feel strongly against things like the (successful) campaign to force Brendan Eich to resign over his prop 8 donations… he’s allowed to have opinions, however unpopular, as long as he’s treating people equally in his role as CEO. The fact that people bullied him and tried to force him to change his views to keep his job was completely unacceptable.
  • Inside private prisons – Just generally a super interesting read.
  • What if Harry Potter was a squib? – An awesome alternate reality fanfic. Massive spoilers (obviously), and requires a lot of background knowledge about the series, but this was super enjoyable.
  • What if Harry Potter’s twin was mistakingly thought to be the boy who lived? – Another alternate reality fanfic that is good if you get can get past the multitude of grammatical and spelling errors, run-on paragraphs, and strange writing.
  • Photographing landmark locations without landmarks – Super interesting from many perspectives.
  • San Jose displaces 670 people from rent-controlled apartments – Yay for yet more bay area housing problems. At least they’re doing the right thing by building more high-density apartments, but I wish there was more help in place for people affected by such construction.
  • Thoughts on Brexit and democracy – It’s always interesting to me to read things that argue that mass democracy is problematic… and what’s been happening lately around the world sure supports that. In particular, the leaders in the UK seem to have no idea what to do now that they’ve actually passed their proposal to leave the EU. I stumbled across the wiki page for Germany’s Basic Law recently, and I found it super interesting that they couldn’t remove the Chancellor without a replacement lined up. Seems like a lot of populist movements need better ideas of what to do what happens after they succeed… in the Brexit case, it seems the people in charge were using the situation for political gain without any expectation of actually winning. And now that they have, they are clueless.
  • Fired for a proposal for relaxing the dress code – After my initial impression of “What is wrong with you?”, I actually can understand a lot of why this made sense to the OP. Coming from an academic environment, it isn’t normal to assume that some people are more equal than others, and work is not a democracy. Still, hopefully she (he?) learned a lot of valuable lessons from this. (Also, that entire blog is really interesting and informative to read.) Also I feel bad for the other interns, since it sounded like she was the ringleader, and managed to really screw a lot of other people in the process.
  • Guy functions without most of his brain – Brains are super interesting and crazy adaptive, I guess?

Yay life.

Busy busy

We’re in the middle of a crazy June, and life goes well but super busy. Here’s photos from things.

Two weekends ago was Chris and Rob’s wedding. Friday they had a really nice welcome picnic in Schenley Park, and Saturday was their wedding at the Union Project.






Last weekend Owen was in town, as the first leg on a general east coast visit. There were board games and a bit of hiking in Hartwood Acres.


This past weekend Sharon was in town, and we met up with a bunch of her undergrad friends and had a Rock Band session. Also I hosted board games.



My parents fly into town tomorrow as the first part of their ~1.5 week east coast visit. I’m heading to Philly with them for a couple of days before they do some travel on their own.

This follows a crazy May where every weekend had *something* happening as well. July is, thus far, a little less crazy. But it’s shaping up to be a really busy summer… somehow we manage to find time to do housework, but not nearly as much as we need to be doing this summer.