Blargh (politics, work, life)

It’s been a horrific week, both in politics and in work, but at least I’m home.

On the politics front, it goes without saying that this administration has been absolutely insane, hypocritical, dysfunctional, and ruthless in its actions regardless of (or perhaps in spite of) facts, reason, and the law.
I’ve been donating $300 a month to the ACLU, and will likely raise it next month, as well as making sporadic donations to the EFF and maintaining an NYT subscription. If you have the financial means to help, I encourage you to make some donations as well, particularly to the ACLU, which has already played a role in part of the immigration ban being stayed.
Also consider some more locally-impacting charities that will directly help your area. Here again is my list of charities (as well as suggestions by friends).

Seen on Facebook (via Greg): John McCain, Dick Cheney, Michael Moore, and the Pope are all on the same side right now.
I guess that’s how you know your administration is batshit insane. :\

On the work front, we’ve had a rather disastrous release filled with e-releases and customer cases… and the release isn’t even half deployed yet. I feel really bad for my manager, who has to deal with all this as well as pressure from upper management… and particularly bad because a lot of the issues that came up came up in features I built and designed. To be fair, the features themselves are working exactly as expected, and we put in existing toggles for customers that have problems. But due to either oversights or underestimates on the sheer magnitude of impacted customers, we’re having to pull out or tweak the features anyway.
Le sigh.

Things are depressing so here are some photos.


The new Apple store in Chandler is really pretty. (Also the outside of the store has no indication in any way that it’s an Apple store, but I guess it’s pretty obvious from the interior.)

I guess they have to clean escalators somehow…

Ikea is doing that “kids draw things and we make them into stuffed animals” thing again.

Pretty.

I also brought back a lot of TCGs (including my entire collection of Pokemon cards and X-Files cards, and my remaining WoW cards) and have been sorting them and generally assembling decks. I now have assembled WoW “booster” packs to do a booster draft (limited card selection to 4 different classes so drafting won’t be insane) and assembled two X-Files TCG decks, and will be making Pokemon and Case Closed decks as the next thing. Yay for TCGs?

Edit: Woke up feeling unhappy this morning, and I wanted to use up my company match for their FY, so gave another $1500 to the ACLU. Take that, Trump.

Donations

If this election has you as freaked out as it has me, there are a lot of good causes you can donate to to make sure these upcoming 4 years aren’t terrible for those less fortunate or more vulnerable than you, and to continue to advance progressive causes. Because, when the government won’t, private organizations will have to, but they can’t without us.

Here’s a list of my top priorities, in roughly priority order

  • The ACLU or the ACLU Foundation to help ensure the rights of minorities are not trampled upon
    (The foundation is tax-deductable… there’s information about the differences here)
  • The EFF to help ensure net neutrality and protection against spying and electronic surveillance
  • Feeding America or a local food bank to help ensure those in need will not be devastated by cuts to SNAP
  • Enviornmental Defense Fund or Sierra Club to help protect the environment
  • The New York Times (online subscription, which you don’t have to use) to support quality journalism and reporting
    (Or some quality local paper, which you can either take delivery of or do an online-only subscription to give them more of the money)

Many of these are also tax-deductable, and your company may match your donation, which would be an excellent way to increase the impact of your contribution.

Also, putting my money where my mouth is, I made a $300 donation to the ACLU Foundation today, matched by Salesforce (and will continue to do so, to various organizations in that list, going forward). I encourage you to do the same, in whatever amount you can manage, toward whatever causes you feel are important to you.

Does anyone have any other recommendations for charities that would be good to support at this time?

Edit: Some organizations suggested by FB friends are Lambda Legal, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Domestic Worker’s Alliance, NAACP, Doctors Without Borders, RAINN, Slyvia Rivera Law Project, National Immigration Law Center, EarthJustice, Pittsburgh AIDS Taskforce, ProPublica, Mother Jones, the Transgender Law Center, and the Trevor Project.

Election

So a thing happened. I’m surprised, but honestly, not that surprised. I am, however, more than a little terrified of what will happen over the next 4 years.

But I think the important thing to remember is that not everyone that voted for Trump voted out of some malice, or sense of hatred for LGBT people, women, immigrants, or minorities. This is counterproductive, and just turns people against each other. What we need right now is understanding.

I would venture to say that the majority of people voting for him are simply people that are struggling to get by; that haven’t seen improvement or upward direction in their lives and careers, or seen the opposite as their jobs and way of life disappear; that feel like politics have abandoned them. They saw Trump as a way out, or at least figured he was at least some chance at change compared to Clinton.
Try to understand that. Try to empathize with that. I think a lot of us that are shaking our heads right now are fortunate in that we’ve done relatively well in life. Try to understand the lives and views of people that aren’t in that position and why that need for change could trump things that we find important.

And that goes the other way too. If you voted for Trump, try to empathize with the rest of us that right now are feeling abandoned and afraid. If you’re white, male, and/or straight, try to understand the things that people unlike you face and go through in life. Try to understand the fear, and work with us to make sure that people are not bullied, threatened, or killed because of their gender, race, or orientation.

I think the big thing right now is to hope. Hope that Trump surrounds himself with people that have actual policy experience, and listens to them for once. Hope that he, inexplicably, manages to “Make America Great Again”, in some sense, for everyone. Hope that we don’t regress too far backward in longer-term goals like controlling climate change and handling the Middle East. Hope that Trump manages to become more of the man we saw in his victory speech last night now that he no longer has to campaign, and does what he can to unify the country.

Hope.

Edit: Some articles, presented without commentary:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/opinion/election-night-2016/it-is-possible-for-trump-to-bea-good-president (You may need to manually scroll down to the “It Is Possible for Trump To Be a Good President” section, because that page seems to be bad at directly linking one article.)
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/09/opinion/absorbing-the-impossible.html

Edit edit: This is excellent too: http://waitbutwhy.com/2016/11/its-going-to-be-okay.html

Editx3: Also good: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/

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

Election, Facebook, RPG Get, and internets

There was an election on Tuesday. It was my first time using a no-paper-trail electronic voting machine, and that made me more nervous that it should have. I then spent the entire day worrying about the results. In the end, it turns out my worry was for nothing, but it was still not a great experience.

To be clear: I am not a Democrat, and don’t (and didn’t) vote along party lines. That said, I think Romney is a terrible candidate (since his campaign decided they would just ignore facts and say whatever they wanted), the Republicans as a whole are an unreasonable party taken over by the far right (like in the general party denial of science, desire to increase military spending while cutting everything else, and goals of cutting taxes for the ultra-rich). It wouldn’t have been the end of the world had Romney won, but I think we would have been set back many years and would come out the other end worse off for it.

I don’t know. I think this article does a reasonable job of summarizing my views on Republicans. I often feel like, had I been born 20 years earlier, I would be a Republican. As it stands now, it seems I identify more with the Green party (90% agreement with Jill Stein) and Libertarian party (80-ish% agreement with Gary Johnson).

I think the lack of an ability to contact friends is getting to me enough that I’m going to reactivate Facebook (probably tomorrow). That said, I still plan to keep it blocked like it is now to prevent it from doing horrible tracking across the web on me, and I don’t plan to actually use it since I still disagree with the short blurb style of modern social media. I just think it would be useful to make sure I always have a means of contacting friends. Stupid Facebook.

Progress continues (slowly) on RPG Get. I have a text-only test deck created, so I should soon be able to see if the mechanics work at all. If so, I can tweak and refine them. I’ve also been feeling the Photoshop itch lately, so I might start designing card templates. We shall see.

I went through today and cleaned up my legacy online presence, which mostly means I went through and deleted old pages from Angelfire. I remembered I had http://www.angelfire.com/dc/alan, but it surprised me when the password reset indicated my email address was also associated with http://www.angelfire.com/pro/gildershadow. It’s kind of interesting to look at the old version of the Shadow and Gilder Shrine. It kind of makes me miss video games. At some point, I should bring my Gamecube (or Dreamcast) back and play more Skies of Arcadia.

Speaking of Angelfire, it’s become rather terrible, but I guess that’s the norm for free hosting sites these days. Its interface is super cartoony, its password reset functionality doesn’t even really work (it errored out on me every time, but apparently the password had been properly reset?), its control panel is super sketchy (throwing errors pretty regularly for things like deleting files), and you can’t change any account information (more errors). It makes me glad I have my own domain now.

I’m bored, so have some quick and horrible Photoshops.

Life in general goes.