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July 29, 2016

Chomsky's Argument for the Lesser of Two Evils

The broader lesson to be drawn is not to shy away from confronting the dominance of the political system under the management of the two major parties. Rather, challenges to it need to be issued with a full awareness of their possible consequences. This includes the recognition that far right victories not only impose terrible suffering on the most vulnerable segments of society but also function as a powerful weapon in the hands of the establishment center, which, now in opposition can posture as the "reasonable" alternative. A Trump presidency, should it materialize, will undermine the burgeoning movement centered around the Sanders campaign, particularly if it is perceived as having minimized the dangers posed by the far right.

Link

While i can see the merits of the argument, i'm still pretty much feeling that everyone can go eat a shit sandwich. Yes, she's the lesser of two evils, but at some point there has to be a line where their policies are just too far removed from your own that you can't choose either.

Trump says he doesn't believe in climate change so his support of fossil fuels is a less horrible action than Clinton's support of fracking when she does acknowledge climate change is real (the caveat being you can't actually believe anything Trump says he thinks or doesn't think). One is the action of a crazy moron. The other is a calculated action that says "Fuck you. There's profit to be had."

The one and only thing that i get hung up on is the impact on the most vulnerable. But then Clinton was shilling for her husband's the Welfare Reform Act in the 90s and i think "the most vulnerable will be in trouble no matter who wins."

Also, i'm super full of rage, so judgement impaired.


By min | July 29, 2016, 2:51 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (8) | Link



July 28, 2016

Who's pirating now?

I like the karma.


By fnord12 | July 28, 2016, 12:13 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



July 22, 2016

Where are the Eisenhowers of Yesteryear?

1956 Labor Day flyer

The GOP was encouraging union membership!


In August of 1956, the Republican Party gathered in San Francisco to re-nominate President Dwight D. Eisenhower as its candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

The party that year adopted a platform that emphasized that the GOP was "proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs."

This included boasting that Eisenhower had overseen a hike in the federal minimum wage that raised incomes for 2 million Americans while expanding Social Security to 10 million more people and increasing benefits for 6.5 million others.

Today's Republican Party has made weakening labor unions a priority, but the 1956 platform noted that under Eisenhower, "workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions."

...

Eisenhower cut the military budget by 27 percent following the Korean War, and used his bully pulpit to highlight the tradeoffs of military spending. "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed," he said in a 1953 speech.

In his farewell address in on January 17, 1961, he highlighted the rise of what he called a "military-industrial complex" -- a war industry that he cautioned could exert "undue influence" on the government.

Something that wouldn't change under a Clinton presidency either.

Link


By min | July 22, 2016, 9:17 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



July 20, 2016

Handle Your Oatmeal Cookies With Care

Just going through first level cleric and magic user spells to convert for our steampunk session and i came across this (emphasis mine):

By means of this spell, the magic-user changes a volume of water to a volatile, flammable substance similar to alcohol and likewise lighter than water. If this substance is exposed to flame, fire, or even a spark, it will burst into flames and burn with a hot fire. Each creature subject to firewater flame will suffer 2-12 hit points of damage. The firewater created will evaporate and be useless within 1 round, even if it is securely contained and sealed, so it must be utilized (ignited) within 10 segments of its creation. The material components of this spell are a few grains of sugar and a raisin.

Yeesh.


By min | July 20, 2016, 12:02 PM | D&D| Link



Strawberry-Picking Robots

Fnord12 just last night told me they couldn't yet make robots that could do the work of harvesting delicate produce. I say to him "Fie on you, sir!"

Most agricultural robotic systems still require some form of human management, whether it involves watching over a swarm of bots to ensure nothing goes haywire or turning a strawberry-picking robot around once it has reached the end of a row.

Link

But unlike the SciAm article, this Carnegie Endowment op-ed makes the opposite argument - robots will indeed take away the jobs.

Worries over new technologies destroying jobs have become chronic -- and up to this point, unfounded.

Thanks to new technologies, new industries emerged that created more jobs than were destroyed and increased not only productivity, but also workers' incomes, something the economist Joseph Schumpeter predicted in 1942. He called this phenomenon "creative destruction" -- a "process of industrial mutation ... that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one."

His theory has held true. Until now.

There are those who believe this time is different and that the job destruction created by technological advancements is of unprecedented speed and magnitude. As economist Eduardo Porter recently wrote, "new technology does seem more fundamentally disruptive than technologies of the past."

The worry is that new industries and occupations that will potentially be created won't come in time and won't be enough to provide jobs and incomes for the millions of workers displaced by new technologies.

Universal basic income? Anyone?

Recently, Switzerland held a referendum vote to decide whether the government would give citizens about $2,500 a month for doing absolutely nothing. Although the vote didn't pass and was never expected to, it may be a significant precursor to an emerging global trend.

In fact, many countries are already testing the idea of giving their citizens a minimum, no-strings-attached income. In Finland, the government will choose as many as 10,000 adults at random and will give them between 500 and 700 euros a month with the purpose of measuring the effects the money has on their propensity to work and on their life decisions. If the trial is successful, the Finnish government could implement the policy at a national level. Similar experiments are taking place in Canada, the Netherlands, Kenya and other countries.

The problems and defects with this idea are obvious. Having a guaranteed income could discourage work. Giving someone a material compensation without something of value produced in exchange is questionable from economic, social and ethical standpoints. The risks of corruption and political favoritism in the selection of beneficiaries are high. And, of course, this isn't a cheap initiative. These types of subsidies could turn into a huge burdens for the state and create enormous chronic deficits in public budgets.

And yet, despite all its defects, a minimum income guarantee may well become an inevitable policy. There is no doubt that globalization and new technologies have created infinite new opportunities for humanity. From reducing global poverty to medical advances and empowering historically marginalized social groups, progress is obvious.

But the negative effects are also obvious. Increasing inequality, the destruction of jobs and shrinking salaries -- especially in the U.S. and Europe -- all have some link to globalization and new technologies. And all these negative effects feed into the populism and toxic political extremism that we see taking hold of many countries today.


By min | July 20, 2016, 8:56 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (1) | Link



July 19, 2016

Steam Horde

When i got my Bones Kickstarter, there were a bunch of figures that had guns and the like. And since i've been running a pure fantasy setting for years, i just put all those figures in a separate bag, figuring i'd never paint them. But now Min is going to run a campaign in a steampunk setting, and i thought it would be good for us to have miniatures that fit the campaign. The characters i picked aren't necessarily steampunk, per se, but they are closer to it than most of the swords and sorcery type miniatures that i have.

The first group are the most steampunk. The guy has a high tech gun and a weird power glove while wearing vaguely Victorian looking clothing, and the lady is dressed like a mechanic and has high tech looking boots in addition to the gun.

These three are just wild west gunslingers, but when we were trying to describe the steampunk genre to those that hadn't heard of it, the most mainstream example we could think of was Wild Wild West. Min's campaign will take place in England, but there's no reason that characters couldn't come from America. The guy in the middle is a pretty good ringer for High Noon Yasuo from League of Legends, so that works out even better (i considered kit-bashing a sword in place of one of the guns; maybe i'll do it if we keep playing). The lady needed a bit of de-nudification; apparently the designers thought that female players would like to play a gunslinger whose boobs hung out.

These two characters were from a set that were obviously meant to be some kind of space marines. But i painted them a combination of brown, tan, and bronze, hoping that they could pass as steampunky suits along the lines of the Big Daddies from Bioshock.

Finally, some more modern looking characters. The one on the left was warped at the base. I tried to do the old 'dip them in boiling water' trick, but i was holding her with a pair of pliers by the head and i guess i let the head get too close to the water and it melted and now permanently has groove marks from the pliers. So she's a little deformed and probably isn't usable except as a scarred NPC. The one in the middle is obviously meant to be used in a modern horror setting, but who's to say that you couldn't have a steam-powered chainsaw? The third guy fits the campaign just fine.


By fnord12 | July 19, 2016, 3:47 PM | D&D| Link



July 18, 2016

Straight from your steampunk campaign

It's Professor Wrigglesworth! We saw this guy while flipping through channels at a friend's house and were very impressed. Especially since he was showing off his skeletronic exo-skeleton, which is entirely human powered and so could be used in a steampunk era (you can use it at fancy dress parties, and for reaching fruit!).

But a google search reveals that the guy is more stand-up comedian than electrical engineer, and that makes him a lot less interesting.

And before you say it, Frank Zappa would never wear that ascot.


By fnord12 | July 18, 2016, 5:21 PM | D&D & Science & TeeVee | Comments (1) | Link



Great acheivements were acheived

Broke out the Intellivision last week and got further than i ever did before. Never got to the guys with the stun staffs before. They take 4 (!) hits, and kill you instantly. I did manage to take out a few before dying.


By fnord12 | July 18, 2016, 5:19 PM | Video Games | Comments (2) | Link



July 8, 2016

Ranger Danger Horde

Whenever i'm taking a break from my comics project i try to tackle the pile of miniatures that i got from the Bones kickstarter. But i wasn't really feeling like painting, so i actually just picked out some of the least interesting figures, figuring that i'd just knock them out and it didn't matter if i wasn't feeling particularly inspired. I deliberately picked out figures that could be painted in similar color schemes (for the most part) to save time and thinking. So that worked out to be three rangers and a few others randos. Actually, four of these figures are not Bones; they were given to me by a friend.

Here are the rangers. The two with the round bases are not Bones. As usual, the Bones are frustrating in the way the detail smushes together; the third Ranger has a blob for a face.

Here are two bards. I actually painted the halfling a little earlier and gave him more attention because i'm playing a halfling bard in a campaign run by a (different) friend. The other bard is posed like a rock star and has a lute that looks more like an electric guitar, but i didn't take the bait and i painted the instrument brown. I did let her have some punk rock stripes in her hair. This picture came out a little blurry but i've already noted my apathy.

This is probably the most nice looking figure in that she's standing on a giant dragon head. Of course, that's not very useful in a game. Does she drag that head around with her the whole time, reminding people how awesome she is because of that time she beheaded a dragon?

Another non-Bone. Another blurry pic, but he's got a cool looking face, and armored guys are always easy to paint.

The final figure (excluding the scorpions, who aren't worth a close-up) is also a non-Bone. And he's pretty interesting, actually. He's got a normal barbarian human kind of body, but his face is some sort of insectoid thing. Not sure if it's meant to be mask or if he's some kind of insect-man hybrid. He'll work either way.


By fnord12 | July 8, 2016, 1:46 PM | D&D | Comments (4) | Link



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