Friday, November 19, 2010

Big surprise! Stark is re-elected.

Pete Stark didn't do as well as his previous two elections (both banner Democrat years), but he blew away his competition at 71.6% vs. 28.4%. In fact, the last time he he had an election which he got less of the vote was in 1998, where he scored a measly 71.2%...

Looking back on it, there are only three times in his 38 year history in Congress where he has scored below 60%. His first election in 1972 (52.9% vs. 47.1%), his fourth re-election race in 1980 (55.3% vs. 41.1%), and his ninth re-election race in 1990 (58.4% vs. 41.6%). Even during the Republican wave of 1994 he scored 64.2% of the vote, and this most recent wave saw him at 71.6%.

Honestly, unless the GOP can come up with a moderate candidate *and* politics becomes less polarized (ha!), then I can't imagine a scenario where Stark wouldn't be re-elected.

I'm sure they can change his congressional boundaries, but good luck getting a challenging seat in the East Bay. It's like saying you can redistrict San Francisco or Salt Lake City and see a different result.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pete Stark gets reelected because his opponents are more insane than he is

Pete Stark is my congressman and I can't stand him. If you've listened to me talk about Stark, you'll know that I loathe the guy, so whenever a Democratic primary or the general election rolls around, I always review the other options.

He only faced one opponent during the 2010 primary, who claimed to be a Democrat, but when you read his campaign platform, you quickly notice that his ideas revolved around "Jesus and traditional values will make America strong again." Errr.... no thank you. I'd rather pick a jaded party-loyalist over a guy telling this non-Christian that I need to turn to God.

Needless to say, Stark won the primary. on to the general, and looking at his competitor's website.

http://forest4congress2010.wordpress.com/

Oh, boy. This guy is a fruitcake.

Anyway, I posted to his website, but my comment didn't appear (as it's probably moderated) so I doubt it will show up. As a result, I'm posted that feedback to his site here.


I can't stand Pete Stark, but after reading the contents of this website pretty much confirmed the sad fact that he'll easily be re-elected.

Frankly, when I got to a campaign website, I want less buzzwords and more concrete suggestions on how to deal with these problems. It's not enough to say "state's rights", "local control", or whatever the latest jargon is, but instead I want to know exactly how you plan on cutting the 70% of the expenditures that the feds have on my tax dollar. Specifically, what do you specifically want to do to reduce spending for medicare, medicaid, social security, and the military? That's 70% of every tax dollar, and if you can't address that in concrete terms, then I can't see why I'd consider voting for you.

You can't just say, "We should take back our responsibility for Health, Education, and Welfare" without addressing what you actually mean by that. What would you cut, create or change in federal legislation? Are you talking about eliminating medicare, medicaid, social security, and the education department? If not, then what are you talking about? If so, what do you propose will provide eductation, health and elder care for our citizens? Does it matter if a percentage of the population (such as age, illness or disability) simply can't support themselves, or can't rely on others to do the same for them?

You mention that those in government programs and housing projects should turn to their families for support. What about the people that don't have families that are willing or able to support them? Should they be on the street, homeless and hungry because they don't have a supportive family? Do they get exemptions and federal cash, or do you simply wish them luck as you kick them out into the street?

What about health care? What do you do if you have a pre-existing condition, or your healthcare carrier drops you because you gained an illness they don't want to pay for? Beyond health insurance for people who are lucky enough to have a job that gives that to them, what about everyone else? What about the guy who just got laid off and can't find a job? What about the guy who has to work multiple part time jobs to feed and shelter his family? Do you expect him to be able to afford health care as well? When the poor go without vaccinations or basic health care, don't you think their children are going to bring those illnesses to school and expose your children?

You say that "we don't need the government to intrude into our families with the fiction that we would not take care of our own responsibilities, according to our own morality, social ethics and reasonably within the context of our own various cultures." So, where do you stand on abortion, drug use, or gay marriage? Is it ok for the government to intrude in those cases?


These items and more make me realize that simply stating that there shouldn't be party politics and uncompetitive seats isn't enough of a reason to throw Stark out of office. Stark is an idiot and I can't stand him, but I don't see the benfit to replacing a disingenuous politician for one party with someone who wants to be a disingenuous politician for the other party...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Newsflash: GOP doesn't give a shit about spending

From Politico:
To cut spending, Republicans say they are committed to canceling remaining expenditures from the 2009 stimulus law, return domestic appropriations to 2008 levels, impose "hard" budget caps on discretionary spending accounts, reduce spending for congressional operations, have weekly floor votes on winners of the "YouCut" program that allows citizens to vote online for programs that should be slashed, end the Troubled Asset Relief Program, end government control of the secondary home-mortgage lending giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, freeze federal hiring for non-security jobs, sunset programs after a certain number of years, and use more straightforward budgeting for entitlement programs.


That is it? That's the Republican plan for cutting spending? That's a joke.

If you want to cut spending, you need to address the four key expenditures of our tax dollars: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Military. Once you start talking about cutting the four of those things, which take up 70% of our expenditures, then I'll know that you are serious about cutting spending.

Until then, it's election year rhetoric which will do nothing for us, and four years later we'll be bitching about the new set of assholes in congress.

Then again, what was I thinking? Why should I assume that they actually meant what they said about cutting spending? It's like I failed politics 101.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prospectus results!

Weeding out the results for games that any player disliked, we are left with three potential campaigns: Gamma World, Superheroes, and Northern Crown.

The average ratings were as follows:
2.875 - Superhero
2.625 - Gamma World
2.125 - Northern Crown

Now that the players know what the final three are, we'll talk about what our preferences are and plan for character creation/campaign brainstorming this weekend!

Fourth and final response

RESPONSE #4
3 - A Touch of Madness (Urban Fantasy)
2.5 - The Covenant (Dark Ages Occult)
2.5 - Gamma World (Post Apocalyptic gaming)
2.5 - Superheroes
2 - Legacy of Fire (Sand, Sword and Sorcery)
2 - Northern Crown (Colonial Fantasy)
2 - The Price of Power (Modern Occult)
1.5 - Free Trader Beowulf (Star Wars)
1.5 - Alone in the Dark (Star Wars)
1.25 - Star Wars w/ Lightsabers
1 - Ultraviolet Paranoia (Conspiratorial Humor)

Monday, September 20, 2010

While wating, here are the results so far

We have one more response to go, but this appears to be the list of a campaigns still in the running, in order from the highest rated to least.

3.0 Superheroes
2.3 Star Wars w/ Jedi
2.3 Gamma World (Atomic Highway? GW?)
2.2 Northern Crown
2.0 Alone in the Dark (run it as Star Wars w/ Jedi?)
2.0 Free Trader Beowulf (run it as Star Wars w/ Jedi?)


It should be interesting seeing what the fourth player responds with ...

Third response

The third response from one of the players was tempered by the fact that he knew what the first two results were. (He talked to them...) So, he knew that the Covenant, Price of Power and Ultraviolet Paranoia were rated a one or zero, so he didn't bother voting for them. He also rated A Touch of Madness a zero and Legacy of Fire a one, so we now have five campaigns that are not in the running.

Gamma World and a Superheroes game were the highest rated (both threes), followed by a "high two" Northern Crown, and a two all of the sci-fi games. Looking at the sci-fi options (Star Wars w/ lightsabers, Alone in the Dark, and Freetrader Beowulf), he was of the opinion that they could be refocused as Star Wars campaigns. For example, perhaps the PCs are Jedis sent to a world where the Republic has lost contact with in Alone in the Dark.

Regardless here are his ratings:

RESPONSE #3
3 - Gamma World (Post Apocalyptic gaming)
3 - Superheroes
2.5 - Northern Crown (Colonial Fantasy)
2 - Star Wars w/ Lightsabers
2 - Alone in the Dark (Star Wars)
2 - Free Trader Beowulf (Star Wars)
1 - Legacy of Fire (Sand, Sword and Sorcery)
0 - A Touch of Madness (Urban Fantasy)
x - The Covenant (Dark Ages Occult)
x - The Price of Power (Modern Occult)
x - Ultraviolet Paranoia (Conspiratorial Humor)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

First two responses and results

Still waiting Response #3 & 4, but the first two shed some light as to what won't fly with this group.

RESPONSE #1
2 - Free Trader Beowulf (Frontier Sci Fi)
* - Star Wars w/ Lightsabers
* - Superheroes
* - Gamma World (Post Apocalyptic gaming)
2.5 - A Touch of Madness (Urban Fantasy)
2 - Alone in the Dark (Sci Fi Survival Horror)
2 - Legacy of Fire (Sand, Sword and Sorcery)
2 - The Covenant (Dark Ages Occult)
2 - Northern Crown (Colonial Fantasy)
1 - The Price of Power (Modern Occult)
0 - Ultraviolet Paranoia (Conspiratorial Humor)

* - not initially rated, but suggested. That infers to a me that it scores at least a 3 and might beat out their #1 pick.


RESPONSE #2
4 - A Touch of Madness (Urban Fantasy)
3 - Superheroes
3 - The Price of Power (Modern Occult)
2 - Alone in the Dark (Sci Fi Survival Horror)
2 - Star Wars w/ Lightsabers
2 - Free Trader Beowulf (Frontier Sci Fi)
2 - Legacy of Fire (Sand, Sword and Sorcery)
2 - Northern Crown (Colonial Fantasy)
2 - Gamma World (Post Apocalyptic gaming)
1 - Ultraviolet Paranoia (Conspiratorial Humor)
1 - The Covenant (Dark Ages Occult)

Since I almost always strip out games that anyone rates at a 1 or 0. No sense running a game that nobody likes. That would mean that Ultraviolet Paranoia, The Price of Power, and The Covenant are off the table, and that a superheroes or Changeling: the Lost campaign might be next up...

Additional campaign suggestions

Three more campaigns were suggested, and were put on the list as well. More Gamma World/Postapocalyptic gaming, Jedi-focused Star Wars (KotOR being my choice), and some form of superhero game would be the list of possibilities.

No established campaign descriptions were written up for them, but it should be relatively self-evident what they are.

Ultraviolet Paranoia (Conspiratorial Humor)

Ultraviolet Paranoia (Conspiratorial Humor)

"You’re responsible for this disaster, unless you can pin the blame on someone else."

Setting: You are a High Programmer, trusted to administer Alpha Complex and even program The Computer itself. You are not alone. You are part of a committee of High Programmers. Your duties are to solve crises, eliminate traitors and make everyone happy. Happiness is Mandatory. The Computer says so. If people are not happy, this too is your fault and The Computer will use you as reactor shielding. To solve crises, you have lots of flunkies, servants, spies, agents, minions and Troubleshooters. Many of these are Communists, mutants and traitors who cause yet more crises. Once again, this is your fault. Your only chance to survive is blame everything on the other High Programmers. They probably deserve it, anyway.

Characters: PCs are the elite of a high-tech dystopia, and focuses on the political plotting and infighting that dominates their lives.

Game System: Paranoia

The Price of Power (Modern Occult)

The Price of Power (Modern Occult)

"Don’t tell me what I can’t do."

Setting: Magicians know how to summon spirits, and for a price, bind them to their will. Spirits are wonderfully versatile and ask for so little in exchange. Spirits of greed can give you money, while a wolf spirit can make you into a vicious predator. Spirits you have bound are easier to control, and someone else's bound spirit is harder, but failing to properly bind a spirit correctly can mean that it misinterprets or disobeys your commands, or even worse that it screws things up. In short, you play a person -- a normal person -- who knows how to summon and bind beings from beyond for personal purposes. The question is: can you handle it? Where do you draw the line when you see what other magicians are doing?

Characters: PCs will be ordinary people who have stumbled upon how to summon otherworldly beings and make deals with them. Given how spirits fued with each other, the prices that they ask make other summoners potentially dangerous threats, thus the PCs will find banding together for safety essential to their survival.

Game System: World of Darkness, Unisystem, or GURPS

Northern Crown (Colonial Fantasy)

Northern Crown (Colonial Fantasy)

"One part exploration, one part planning, one part Civilization"

Setting: The PCs are one of several groups which have gone into the frontier to establish new nations in the Wild Lands. It certainly won’t be an easy task. Before any such settlement can even begin, the bandits and monsters must be dealt with—and once that initial task is done, the danger will only increase. As you struggle to foster a fledgling kingdom, build up its cities, and expand its farmlands, your group is destined to face rival warlords, ferocious beasts, strange cults, invading barbarian hordes, and even the mysterious fey denizens of the exotic Shadow Lands. Can you tame the Wild Lands and forge a lasting settlement amid such opposition? Who will survive to rule your kingdom? Who among you possesses the makings of a king?

Characters: PCs will explore vast wildernesses and settle them, build cities and nations, and even fight wars against opposing kingdoms.

Game System: d20, GURPS, Runequest, or Song of Ice and Fire

Legacy of Fire (Sand, Sword and Sorcery)

Legacy of Fire (Sand, Sword and Sorcery)

"Welcome to the bazaar of the bizarre, stranger!"

Setting: Katapesh! Land of adventure, excitement, and addiction. The present blurs into the past as ancient ruins and weathered monoliths, once hidden, come to light. Scouring sandstorms whip away the dunes to reveal the planed sides of pyramids. Caravans gone astray on the savannah find the bones of old settlements, their inhabitants gone but their relics left behind. The tokens and trinkets of bygone Katapesh all make their way to the great city of the same name, to find a place among the stalls and shops of the city of trade. There, the battered gold necklace that once hung around the neck of an Osirian pharaoh sits in a tangle next to smooth blocks of pesh, while one of the enigmatic Pactmasters glides by, his madness-inducing visage concealed behind a bizarre mask. Katapesh may be many things: hostile, brutal, dishonest, opportunistic, uncivilized, pious—even beautiful. But it is never dull.

Characters: PCs will be comprised of adventurers who have come to Katapesh for fame, glory and wealth.

Game System: d20, GURPS, or Runequest

Free Trader Beowulf (Frontier Sci Fi)

Free Trader Beowulf (Frontier Sci Fi)

"Stock your starship, grab your gun, and take to the stars… fortunes don’t come easy!"

Setting: Humanity has gone to the stars and found them crowded with other forms of life and other sentient races, and science and technology have advanced vastly over the present day – but the essential nature of humanity is unchanged, just spread out over the sea of stars. An Imperium unites thousands of diverse and independent star systems under a single rule, but it is beset by enemies both internal and external. The Imperium is strong enough to defend itself from its neighbors, but has little else to enforce order within its territory. Order is the responsibility of local leaders, of which many ` bicker and feud, leaving a feeling of a wild frontier throughout the Imperium. Despite this civilizations on a myriad of worlds endure, and despite piracy, trade continues to flourish. Megacorporations and feudal lords conduct the bulk of this trade, but there will always be a place for the free trader – hardy travellers and adventurers on the fringes of known space, dealing in strange goods and smuggled cargoes, doing whatever they can to make a buck.

Characters: Think Firefly. The PCs form the crew of a free trader merchant vessel, wheeling and dealing with locals, while taking whatever cargos they can get to keep their spacecraft aloft and in one piece.

Game System: Traveller, GURPS, or Unisystem

The Covenant (Dark Ages Occult)

The Covenant (Dark Ages Occult)

"Only wizards walk unafraid in the revenant-haunted and wolf-infested night."

Setting: It is a world lit by torch-fires and ruled by superstitions, where humanity does not have dominion over every corner of the world. It is a time when medieval folk beliefs and superstitions are correct: lost children are really abducted by Faeries, sickness and crop failure are caused by Demons, Angels help the righteous, and dragons and other mythical creatures exist. Treading in the shadows of the world, consorting with spirits and monsters, these magicians, wield unfathomable magic in a world veiled in mystery.

Characters: PCs will be wizards who have recently completed their apprenticeship and now look to find an unclaimed place of power, establish a sanctuary, and defend it from the darkness.

Game System: Dark Ages: Mage, Ars Magica, or GURPS

A Touch of Madness (Urban Fantasy)

A Touch of Madness (Urban Fantasy)

"Kidnapped, transformed, and kept as a slave or pet - but you’ve managed to escape… for now. "

Setting: Stolen away from your human life, you spent what seemed like years or even centuries in Arcadia, chattel to beautiful but inhuman lords and ladies. Fed on faerie food and drink, you gradually became more like the fae themselves, your body shifting slightly to reflect your role. You, however, managed to escape. Holding on to your memories of home, you found your way through the winding thorns of the Hedge, the barrier between the mortal world and time-twisted Faerie. You return, however, was all too bittersweet. Some come back 20 years after they’d first vanished, even though it had never seemed that long to them in Faerie. Others who had reached adulthood in Arcadia found that they returned only a few hours after their abduction. And almost all found, horribly enough, that they weren’t missed. Left in the stead of each abducted changeling was a replica, a simulacrum, a thing that looked like him or her — but wasn’t. Now, with inhuman strangers living their lives and nowhere to go, the Lost must find their own way in the world that was stolen from them.

Characters: PCs will be comprised of Changelings who have returned to Earth after being abducted and enslaved by the inhuman fae. PCs will deal with issues of trust, insanity, and the ramifications of other Lost doing whatever it takes to survive and not be drug back to Arcadia… by whatever means necessary.

Game System: Changeling: the Lost

Alone in the Dark (Sci Fi Survival Horror)


Alone in the Dark (Sci Fi Survival Horror)

"This doesn’t make any sense. Guys? What happened here?"

Setting: All communication has ceased from MR-372, a thriving colony world far on the edge of explored space. There were billions of credits worth of equipment, manpower, and development tied up in MR-372 and not a single corporation or the government was willing to walk away without knowing exactly what happened to their investments and thousands of colonists. When an automated distress signal was suddenly received by Earth's monitoring stations, it became quite obvious that the problems on MR-372 were far more serious than faulty transmitters. Even worse, given the amount of time it takes for messages to travel through the vastness of space, the message was nearly three months old by the time Earth received the distress call. Nobody knows what the crew of the Esperanza will discover when it arrives at MR-372.

Characters: PCs will be comprised of small advanced recon team made up of soldiers and technical experts, given specific instructions to discover what has happened to the colony and alert Earth.

Game System: GURPS or Unisystem