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15 + 8

23 days until the election. I don't know how it's going to turn out. Odds are Hillary Clinton will win, but by how much? It needs to be by a good deal more than the margin of error and a comfortable lead in the Electoral College. There will be chaos, there will be violent incidents, but let us hope they will not reduce the vote. Not one of the pollsters seems to have taken into account or acknowledged voting suppression efforts by various Republican controlled states. Courts have ordered a number of them to restore voting rights but have refused to do so. Herr Drumpf is organizing "poll watchers" to scare away or intimidiate minority voters. If it is a close election, close as it was in 2000, it could lead to a constitutional crisis.

Herr Drumpf has overshadowed all the other things, dark money from the likes of the Koch brothers, downticket candidates. The two most important things goin on right now are the protests in North Dakota against the DAPL going through the Standing Rock Reservation and TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) ratification process. It needs to be stopped too. Locally, Democrats need to retake the Arizona state legislature or win enough seats to create a gridlock to prevent Governor Ducey from continuing to turn this state into another Kansas or Oklahoma, a financial ruin.

It's not over til it's over. I'll probably do some heavy drinking on election night, but I hope it will be celebratory in nature.

RinCon 2016

I attended my first gaming convention ever this past weekend. I've known about it since moving to Tucson but was hesitant to go. I was worried that I'd be twice as old as the other games and feel out of place. There used to be one in Tulsa but I never attended. I did game at a few conventions back in the late 1980's (mostly Star Fleet Battles) and gamed at one convention in 2000. I did a lot of gaming in the mid to late 80's (again mostly Star Fleet Battles). I have attended literary science fiction conventions off and on since 1978, so there's a lot of overlap. I haven't done much gaming since the early 90's, but I still have most of my games (I did get rid of Star Fleet Battles though).

Anyway, there were plenty of gamers my age and all age groups seem to be represented, about a quarter of the gamers were women and there were some people of color. Most of the attendees were local and there was a fair contingent from the Phoenix area, but people came from El Paso and Los Angeles. If I were to guess there were probably about 200 people in attendance.

A lot has changed in the gaming world. I pretty much stopped before Magic The Gathering took off. I never really got into role playing though I did try D&D very early on in high school when it was brand new. I got introduced to Star Fleet Battles in college plus some other games, Car Wars, OGRE/GEV, Illuminati, Kingmaker, Titan, Talisman, Cosmic Encounter, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Globbo, Call of Cthulhu (The only roll playing game that appealed to me. I got tired of 80th level dark half-elves in D&D. CoC was self-limiting, the more powerful a character became the more insane he became. I only played it a few times). Battletech had become pretty popular back then too but I never got into it. I was spoiled by SFB which was a better gaming system, but I had a fair number of gaming friends who got into BT.

I didn't want to be that gamer who hated all new games because he thought the old games were better. There were plenty of older Napoleonic minitiatures/Avalon Hill Games folks who didn't like the new games I was playing at the time. So I tried a bunch of new games this weekend. I didn't pre-register, so I had to sign up with what was available. I'm glad I did. None were combat games. That's mostly what I played back in the day were combat tactical games, very few builder or cooperative games.

Most of the games I played were in beta, getting ready to go to Kickstarter, Castle Mania, CO-OP, Excavate! and Capital City. I also played Gangster Dice, and Viticulture. GD had been a Kickstarter. All except Viticulture played in less than an hour and were card based games. Viticulture was what is known as a euro game. It was a new term I learned. It could also be called a German game. These are resource based games that are more with building things and economics than with combat. I like to call them German games because they had lots of rules and were no fun. Viticulture was interesting, you ran a vinyard in 19th century Italy. It was the most complex game but not as complex as  SFB.

Some of the old games I would like to play again. I could use the old versions I have or get new versions. Some of them are still in print from different game publishers. They are Tales of the Arabian Nights, Talismen, and Cosmic Encounter. What I'm trying to find out is are the new versions worth buying? How do they compare to the new versions/editions? And now that I'm likely to get plugged back into gaming culture, I'll be able to find other people to play with.



So this past summer I visited Gettysburg for the second time. It was a more in depth visit this time. The takeaway was that it was the turning point of the Civil War and it could have gone either way. It wasn't until the third day and Pickett's Charge was stopped and the Union won. It was the high watermark of the Confederacy and from then on it was a matter of grinding them down.

Last night was the first presidental debate between the two main candidates. It wasn't a decisive win for HIllary Clinton, but she did what she needed to do and got in one very good hit. There are two debates to go. They may not decide the outcome of the election. However, what she did told me she has the skills to land several more hits including the knockout blow. Now, we cannot understimate Herr Drumpf, he of tiny hands, expensive hair weave, and spray-on tan, but he can be defeated and the consequences of not doing could easily play out at best what happened in Italy with Berlusconni, or slighly worse in the Phillipines with Duterte, or even worse what has happened in Russia with Putin.

Now, you have to ask yourself why do I think Clinton is a better candidate? I'll let John Oliver explain. He does not gloss over her defects. All I'm going to say is that Oliver deserves an Emmy for best use of raisins as a metaphor.

Gettysburg-Debate connection: The battle of Gettysburg lasted 3 days; there are 3 debates. The consequences of that battle lives with us to this very day and the consequences of this election could equally last as long. I await Drumpf's Charge.

The Long and Winding Road

I've been a science fiction fan since almost as long as I can remember. Star Trek was my gateway to science fiction. I read a lot of comic books as a child and eventually started reading science fiction in the 5th or 6th grade. I picked up a used copy of Beyond Tomorrow in a dime store. It was edited by Damon Knight.

iPhone 7

So the biggest suprise about the iPhone 7 announcement is that it includes an adapter for your analog headphones. I must say Apple does a great job of creating gadget envy. I want to see how it does in the field after a people have started using it for a few weeks before I decide. I had decided to get an IPhone 6s prior to the event release today, but now I'm dithering.

When they brought out Sia to do a few songs and they showed the dystopian music video on the screen all I could think of is why didn't they give her a huge hammer?

The purpose of removing the audio jack is leverage. It means if you want a device like a SquareUp card reader, you'll have to pay Apple's Lightning connector lighting fee. Or they may simply refuse. And it may not pass through audio from other services. It remains to be seen how it's going to work and how much of a backlash there is going to be.

The other big surprise was I'd never heard of Sia before seeing the Apple Event today. I do not feel deprived.


August is almost over

School has started so evertyhing around the university which we live near is more crowded. It's still hot but has cooled a bit. Still in monsoon season and it has rained a fair bit, even had some flooding. November looms large in my thoughts but I try not to think about it. It's a choice between things as they are or the end of everything. The former is not sustainable, but it does buy me more time to prepare and hope for a smoother transition to a world with less diversity in the biosphere, more freak weather, acidified oceans and higher sea levels. 


A nonsoon is a lot like a monsoon in that it has clouds, lightning and thunder. It even smells like rain, but there's no rain. Since we went on our roadtrip to Oklahoma and back for my dad's 75th birthday, there was no rain in Tucson. Last night I saw lightning in the distance but nothing ever came of it. And there is lightning and thunder tonight but no rain (as of yet). It will rain again eventually.


Monsoon again!

Looks like the monsoon season has officialy started. 


Brexit. Holy crap!

What hath austerity wrought. So basically everything the Brits are legitimately angry at have nothing to do with leaving the EU. Basically, the older voters have ruined the future of young voters in the UK. The immediate effect is that with the plunging Pound was to ruin their economy.

The only sliver lining is that Scottish independence is back on the table. If they vote to leave the UK which was going to happen eventually, they'll join the EU. All of this is going to take time to sort out. 


Not Monsoon!

Apparently that rain was just a teaser and the real monsoon season probably won't start until July. When we came back from our trip to Gettysburg, we had record heat warnings. In fact, several people have died in the Phoenix and Tucson areas from heat. They were hiking. Hiking? In this heat? I have no idea why anyone would want to hike in temperatures above 100F/38C.

Update: It would appear after a record breaking spell of temperatures we might actually get a bit of monsoon rain. A few hours after I posted this I went to bring in the trash and recycle bins back from the curb and I noticed a lot of clouds. I even heard thunder. It didn't smell like monsoon. So we may get some rain. Fingers crossed.



It looks like our monsoon season started really early this here in Tucson. We started getting some clouds moving in last night and I thought is monsoon season going to start early? It officially starts June 15 but we usually don't get rain until the start of July. It's been pretty cloudy today and I went outside and I could smell a change in the air, not quite monsoon rain.

Just a little while ago we heard thunder, and on twitter someone in the Tucson area, reported hail and tweeted a picture if it hitting their backyard.

I just stepped outside and definitely could smell the rain. And a litle while later the skies opened up. It rained pretty hard for about 10 minutes then died off.

Note: We've had an unusually wet and slightly cooler year so far, though this past week we had some record temperatures. You've heard the expression for March, "In like a lion. Out like a lamb." There should be one for June in Tucson. "In like an oven. Out like a steamer."


And now for a musical interlude

This captures my mood this evening.


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