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Joshua Kronengold
Just Another Hacker, Gamer, SF fan and reader, vintage dancer, and filker
Just Another Hacker, Gamer, SF fan and reader, vintage dancer, and filker

Joshua's posts

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I had to tweak this to pull dates from dreamation with different formatting than last time. It's so complicated to convert "Friday" to the full date as Konopas expects!

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And hello, level 16. 2 years isn't too bad.

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Goodbye, level 15. It's been a long time knowing you, much of a year.

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My Facebook is blowing up with sorrow, despondency, and fear—my twitter, too (pretty much everyone's twitter).

So I'm not going to do that. This is a terrible loss; I won't downplay it,'s not the end of the world. For most of us, anyway.

And anyway, I've lost an Presidential election before.

My first Presidential election (that I could vote in) was 1992, when we voted in Bill Clinton. I didn't really know much about him, but he was the Democratic candidate, so I was going to support him. In the was mediocre, with a military ban on homosexual service replaced by "don't ask, don't tell", dismantling of the welfare system, economic prosperity which only aided the dismantling of protections against catastrophic massively leveraged bank implosions, the Sony Bono copyright extension act, and the Defense of Marriage Act. But at least we had a competent Democratic President pushing down the deficit, presiding over nuclear disarmament, and signing the Family and Medical Leave act. But really read this:; there just isn't that much there to like; minor stuff like gun control and environmental preservation, while incarcerating thousands and establishing the trade agreement doctrine that helped Trump win the most recent election.

My third Presidential election, though, was 2000, when with machinations aplenty, GW Bush—the ex-drug addicted playboy who was the laughingstock of Texas liberals—became President. was awful. He presided over the worst economic crash in my lifetime, doubling down on it by massive tax cuts to the rich, starting an expensive and unnecessary (as well as costly in lives and war in the Middle East). He tortured people, may very well have redirected intelligence resources such that they missed the terrorist attacks in 2001, and his wars let him get two terms. Oh, and he borrowed trillions to do all of this. And was planning his wars before he even got into office.

In all this, Obama was a shining light. We were all there, we know what he accomplished, and that (except for Obamacare) was against a hostile congress.

Now? Well, there are awful indicators; Trump is an egotist, an abuser, throws dog whistles to the racist and bigoted crowd all the time, and appears to have superbly bad impulse control. And he'll have a nominally friendly congress for at least two years.

But that said, it's not "Trump the character" who is going to be President—however similar or different they are, it's "Trump the person." Who is hardly a saint (see above), but frankly, if his waffling has shown us anything, it's that we have no idea what he truly believes; just that it changes with what he thinks is going to appeal to his base.

So (almost) anything could happen. He's emboldened the "America First" crowd, and talked about building walls and religious discrimination. Packing the Supreme Court with conservative judges, repealing Obamacare, making it easier for him to sue reporters who say stuff he doesn't like. Ending net neutrality. This is what he got elected on.

He's also talked about public works projects and fixing our infrastructure (which badly needs it), raising the minimum wage, preventing obvious terror threats from buying firearms, and putting measures in place to protect American workers from needless outsourcing. And has talked about replacing Obamacare with something better for the individual, focusing on its flaws—the individual mandate and the way that gives license to insurance to raise rates as long as they can get away with it, the way it doesn't solve the state-based cartel issue, etc. This is also what he got elected on.

So I don't know, and frankly neither do you. Which Trump are we going to get? The populist? The demagogue? The fake or real conservative? Secret force for white supremacy? All or some of the above?

What I do know is that we haven't actually moved backwards long term. We've taken a step back, sure, even a significant one—but I supremely doubt that Trump is going to reverse (or even try to reverse) all the strides we've taken in the last 13 years. 13 years ago, remember, people couldn't get married to people of the same sex in any state, QUILTBG people couldn't serve in the military unless they hid their status (I'm leaving out A because I don't think Asexual people were a problem on that score unless they were otherwise queer as well), no state had legalized marijuana and the federal government was threatening to crack down on them if they tried, and plenty of other rights and privileges of my friends were far, far from where they are right now.

Is it likely a bunch of stuff I love will get rolled back? Absolutely—Obergefell is super-likely to get killed by any Justice Trump puts into the Court; Obamacare is going to get modified and who knows if the result is going to have any of the important parts—public markets, a ban on pre-existing conditions, public financing for those who need it [in states that accept it, anyway] that allow people who need to be able to affordably buy private health care regardless of their personal health to do so. But it's super-unlikely that a Trump Congress will pass all of a trans bathroom ban, another national ban on same sex marriage, another massively over-broad Patriot act, or nationally illegalize marijuana again and re-ignite the drug war. Or even push all our proud trans and non-binary friends back into the closet. We'll lose some stuff, but I have reason to hope we won't lose everything.

We've moved massive steps forward in the last 12 years, and every time you move forward, there's a chance of hitting a wall and moving backwards—but our momentum hasn't changed. Not yet, at least. And if Trump is more invested in the stuff I liked (or at least didn't dislike) than the stuff I hate, as a Republican President, he's much more likely to be able to accomplish it. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Clinton could end welfare as we knew it (and curse him for it). If Trump choses to use some of his power for good, who knows what he can accomplish.

And there's the ironic silver lining—one of the biggest reasons that the Republicans have been able to take over a massive number of state legislatures, both houses of congress, and now also the Presidency is that over the past 24 years, there's been a Democratic president for 16 of them — and the party out of power tends to gain downballot. As the party indisputably in control of government starting mid-January, the Republicans are going to be held responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world, and it's up to all of us to hold them to that.

So for good or ill, Trump is going to be my President. Democracy has spoken, and democracy being the way we make decisions about our collective power that, now matter how we choose, many of us won't like, I am honor bound to live with it without even the lingering questions that dodged 2000—up to the point where Trump proves that he's going to abuse the powers of his office or ruin the world. This might come immediately as soon as he does anything—or I might be surprised. I'm not interested in pushing for impeachment from the start of his term; frankly, that would put Pence in power who would be more predictable and possibly worse, but also I don't believe in impeachment as a political tool rather than a last resort when an official actually commits a crime.

In the meanwhile, it's on all of us to keep as much of what we gained as we can, to keep pushing back whenever the government does something unpalatable, to help one another, and to take back the governments of the US in 2018 and 2020. This is the bed we've made, that has been made for us, and most of us are going to have to stay in it for a while—but that doesn't mean we need to lie in it.
Current Mood: disappointed

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After 451 days... (91, then my first and hopefully only seizure, then another 360).. #finally

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I've reached level 14 as an #Ingress agent. About time.

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Once upon a time, there lived a modest old beancounter in the desert, and he had three sons who each set out to make his mark on the world.  The eldest son played a small part in the exploration of outer space.  The middle son played a small part in an organization that gives away magic that makes life easier for half the people in the world every day.  But the youngest son solved one of the pressing problems of our time:  He created a magic item that allows pizza to be reheated in the microwave and come out with crisp crust and melted cheese.

... OK, I could spin a longer tale involving taming a dragon to roast pizza and the king offering the hand of his daughter, but frankly I have no interest in a princess’s hand or any other part thereof and need to stop writing this and get back to the whole space thing, so let me cut to the chase:  My brother is trying to raise enough money on Kickstarter to manufacture his pan, which he calls the Reheatza.  I suspect that a large fraction of people I know have always wanted to be able to reheat a pizza properly without firing up a huge oven, or reheat a pizza at work or in a con suite, and might consider pre-ordering a Reheatza if they only knew about it.  I haven’t seen his prototype in person, but his video on Kickstarter of toasting a marshmallow is very convincing.  He needs to find roughly a thousand people who will pre-order by next month, but has reached less than a hundred in the first week, and there must be millions of people who would like this if it were ever made.  So I wanted to do what little I can to help spread the word.  I want to live in a world where pizza is on the list of things it's a good idea to microwave.

Also maybe to brag a little about my half brother’s accomplishment.  Who’d have guessed that whatever creative and artistic genes I may possess came from the accountant’s side of the family?

Hi -- mneme-RA11 here; I'll be out in indianapolis for Gencon this weekend.  Is there a visitors hangout/g+ I can join to see what's going on and maybe coordinate a bit in my downtime?

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It's that time again. We're having another housefilk (Well, Batya and Alex are, but it is a NYMF event) in Queens, NY!

Another Dexcon come and gone. This time with less stupid sleep deprivation and more late mornings, due to not wanting to put my brain on the fritz.

I came down late Wednesday, somewhat against my original plans, as something came up at work I couldn't easily skip out on--but due to trains being fast, still made it to Morristown well before 9 (games start at 10), doing an Ingress mission on the way and catching up with <lj user=drcpunk> for dinner.

Games that evening were Splendor (I lost the first [for points] game, then won the for-fun reprise), and Dominion (I won my game, and qualified).

On Thursday, I sensibly slept in, not even showing up to the con until noon.  I'd signed up for Splendor (at con--I did no pre-con signups this time), but given that there were 8 players for the two tables available and that I'd played a game the previous night, I decided to bow out, instead trying to get into a game of Notre Dame, where the GM decided that he'd rather play than let the game fill with non-GMs. (He was also teaching some important rules incorrectly and not willing to take correction from outside the game, so I wandered off, annoyed).

At 2pm, I tried Letter Tycoon, which was fun; make words, use them to buy up "patents" on letters which would provide an income (maybe) and some special powers--although there were a few mostly-minor design issues which our table of game designery players paid almost as much attention to as the game itself.

After a delightful lunch at the Persian place across the street, I returned to try a game of Caverna.  This was my first game of Caverna (all but one player in the game had played Agricola, though, and none of us had played Caverna before (taught by the always excellent teacher, Ruth).  Despite having "Diggy Diggy Hole" running through my head for pretty much the entire game (it is a game about dwarves going out adventuring and digging holes), I had no issues compasing the rules and realizing that the the key ways to win were to have the single strongest adventurer, collecting the occasional ruby, and growing your family as fast as possible (the game was very helpful here as well, handing us the only "no harvest this year" year in the game right as I expanded out to four dwarves and everyone else (except one player who had a single extra dwarf) had only two.  Without serious opposition for much of the game [although for a few turns, competition for the adventuring spots was fierce; after that people expanded out a bit and were less willing to spend lots of rubies to put down adventuring dwarves early], I ended up with 130 points to a second place of around 72.

After this, I went back to the room, and eventually to bed.

On Friday, I managed to get up for a surprisingly early and pleasant breakfast (with Lisa, B, and Mendez), then played a game of Subdivision (which I lost massively, partially because I hadn't adjusted to the way the GM accidentally mistaught the rules, which since other players were sensibly including it in their strategy, swung the game substantially.  Still, the play of the game was fun.  I think after this was when I let myself be pulled into learning Ghost Pirates, playing two very pleasant games with an accquaintance and potential friend who I'd previously only ever larped with.  I won both, but we both seemed to have a lot of fun, and had a conversation during/after that was also entertaining.

Lunch was in the room, and was largely snacks and cold cuts.  Afterwards, I grabbed my way too-large fight stick and headed down to Soul Calibur.

Soul (V) was disappointing this year.  I'd managed a couple of hours of practice, but no actual games since Dreamation (and before that, I was seriously out of practice as we'd switched to SCII for a year or so).  But aside from my personal performance, I think the choices that the con made were poor and I hope they just run a normal tournament (in the Con Suite) next time.

The deal here is that there's one player who has been dominating the finals for Soul Calibur (a 3d fighting game) for quite a number of years.  There are only a few people who can touch him (including yours truly; I even once year went undefeated until the finals, beating him once, where he managed to pull out a huge sequence of wins and beat me twice (eventually; I made him switch characters a few times), but I haven't been practicing for some years since they switched to a different version of the game for a year or two before going back to the version I like).  This meant that when they decided this year to not do a tournament and instead do "you stay until you lose", that Jeremy stayed in for 27 or so straight games, running through the entire list of players at least two times before someone (not one of the strongest players there) managed to unseat him; I think because they were both playing randomly.

On the one hand, they were doing the matches in the con suite, so we had a better chance of an audience -- but having it effectively be "everyone against Jeremy" made the matches much less interesting than an actual tournament would have been, as well as less fun for everyone (including Jeremy, who had to stay there winning games until he lost).  He did mix things up by switching to secondary or even random characters against most players (he played one of his mains against me every time, because I am good enough that he had to even somewhat out of practice), but it was still a lot less variable and interesting to watch than a real tournament would have been, and there were a lot fewer showy crowd pleasing moves, since people needed to mostly stick to bread and butter moves to have a chance (or just never got a chance to set up the pretty stuff).

Due to my not signing up for anything, I didn't manage to get into anything at 4pm, so instead I repaired to where Bob Dushay was running a game and Eugene was hanging out, and we chewed the fat for a few hours as the game wrapped up.

Somewhere in here was where Bob asked whether the watch I was wearing was Pebble Time.  When I responded that it was, he expressed disappointment that it wasn't in color.  "Oh, it is," I responded, "but I wrote the binary clockface on it, and I haven't figured out how I want to modify it to take advantage of color yet.  Maybe I'll do a moire."

"What's a moire", <lj user=drcpunk> innocently interjected.

This was when I responded with the following, combining half-remembered lyrics with some quick improvisation.

When your friendship's on rails
To be much more than pals,
That's amore.

When you cook up a dish,
Of an 'eel' of a fish,
that's a moray.

With a pattern that fades
Smoothly between two shades,
that's a moire,

With two letters that come
As a version of "mom"
That's 'M' or 'A'

After the game ended, we went out to dinner at the Famished Frog, ending up with a pleasant group of 5 after Bob's daughter, Corrine, joined us.  Much excellent food (we had the swordfish, which I'm told is unethical--but tasty), and conversation (apparently, Lisa, myself, and Corrine are into some of the same anime, as we talked Sailor Moon and Corrine and I talked Fairy Tale).

After dinner, Lisa went to a game, while Bob, Eugene (who was not actually at the con, just joining us for dinner and a bit of guesting afterwards) and Corrine decided to blow off the rest of the con for the evening, instead hanging out in Bob's room and playing a few card games-I brought out The Big Idea, which everyone liked and which I was crushed at, and then rather than another game of TBI, I suggested that I teach Mama Mia, which I think is underplayed as light fun games go; predictably, everyone really liked it and got into it (tip: Some parts of how the game works are hard to describe successfully, so I recommend doing what I did here--deal out half the deck and run a practice round with a shortened single day; once people have gotten through how things play out, they have a -much stronger idea of how the game works), and then went to bed.  Somewhere in here, I read through the GM notes for the larp I was helping out with--Natalia Granger's Afterglow Night Vale larp.  

Saturday morning, I mostly slept in, reading the rest of Afterglow (including the character sheets).  There wasn't anything I really wanted to play that I could play in the morning, so I repaired to Nat's so we could get started on prep early, get lunch, and discuss how to handle a variety of challenges with the larp.

The larp itself, as it turned out, was a blast.  The complicated night moves were tricky (a third GM would have helped a lot, as we could have someone always working on resolving night actions rather than multitasking to get some stuff done during the day, but simplifying that system may help a bit as well), but overall, the players had a great time, so we did as well.  I've been very much on break from larping at Dexcon since it stopped being an Intercon, but I might want to loosen that at some point, since it looks like the con's grown a very cool new set of larpers who it would be fun to play with.

After the larp, we went to dinner, joining up with Lisa and ET for a pleasant Indian meal at Mendhis (and accidentally joining up with Melissa and friends as well in a bit of fortune).

My evening games were somewhat spoken for, as I'd qualified for Dominion.  I played the Dominion semifinals, crushing my opposition somewhat to my embarrassment with a Bishop/Goons deck using villages and labs for lubricant--but managed to end the game somwhat before I passed a hundred points (ending at 93 points, with 3 curses I'd bought myself and not had time to trash yet).

Naturally, I hadn't signed up for anything for the 10pm slot ,and I coulnd't do anything that might go over, due to the Dominion finals at mignight -- so seeing Linda studying the Thurn and Taxis rules [the only game I know which I basically stopped bringing to games nights because I got too good for it to be interesting to play with people I just taught--or, often, people who have been playing for years], I volunteered to take the game over, teaching a three player game I sat out of which seems to have been very entertaining.

After this (and a small wait) was the Dominion finals -- <lj user=jlighton site="">, YT, and two people I don't know nearly as well.  The set up was mostly Dark Ages -- no extra actions except for Necropolis.  Don't remember all of it, but there were Harem, Great Hall, Counterfeit, Marauder, Forager, Market Square, and Pillage.  And no 2-cost cards.

I started with Market Square and Forager (with a 3/4 split); Julian and one other player started with a 5/2; Julian got Counterfeit and nothing; the other player got Pillage and nothing.

As it happened, I got a bit of the screw because for the first 4-5 pulls I couldn't get a market square and forager into the same hand (at least once this was because of Pillage).  So I was unable to get an early money pull, and instead came in third -- all of two points behind Julian, in the lead, and one point behind the second place finisher.  Strangely, while we were both competing seriously for the trophy, Julian's and my strategies were very synergistic -- his use of Counterfeit fed my Foragers even when I couldn't get Counterfeits of my own, while my willingness to trash my money to feed my Foragers fed his plans to get a good supply of Foragers of his own and trash his ruins for $$$.  In the end, I think I had 4 foragers, Julian had 3, the other 3/4 player had 2, and the Pillager (in second place) had 1.

On Sunday, Lisa had coerced me into playing in a game of Ytris B with excellent players.  And glad I was that she had, because the game was glorious.  I was short an idea of a character, so I held back, and then did the usual cheat, taking the most important moments of two character's backstories to make Phillip (or something), a clockmaker and clockwork repairman -- who had accidentally made one of the PCs, a clockwork woman with a light bulb for a head, and who had in turn been stripped of his memories as Phobos, Greco-roman god of fear, by another player's cursed thief PC.  The game resolved gloriously, with Phil getting his memories and powers back but being essentially changed by learning to live with fear rather than merely being above it, a great "scandalous judgy woman" PC getting to have her scandal, Lisa's PC getting to make his movie but having it changed on opening night by Phil (also the leading man) partially accidentally altering it in some very interesting ways, the theif having her curse removed and a number of her issues fascinatingly resolved by being invited to live with Phil/Phobos, and the automaton becoming a star and dancer by having her huge lightbulb head replaced with a much smaller head by "Cora" (Terpsichore, the facilitator and I being incredibly in synch on this subject).

After this, I wandered the neighborhood, finishing a 35 node "mission" in Ingress and incidentally burning through most of my stored cache of weapons (along with getting some nice exercise and conversation with the player of the thief), before we got on the train back to the city.
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