Archive for Politics

Aftermath: Meh

Posted in Politics, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2016 by urbannight

I anticipated having more to say after the third debate.  It is odd that I do not.  After all, the debate was actually far more viscous than the second one.  But both candidates remained much more calm than last time.  They did say a bit more about the issues and their stances.  They both tried to avoid certain things and they both used the opportunities to strike at each other.  It wasn’t terribly memorable.  It wasn’t anything that was going to change anyone’s minds.  It made people who hate Trump just hate him more and people who hate Hillary just hate her more.  I’m somewhat disappointed in it.  I thought it would be more interesting.

I expect tonight’s showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show with be much better.

 

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Railroad barons, Robber barons, and the Mafia…

Posted in Economics, Economy, Politics, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by urbannight

This started out as a Facebook comment that turned intoOld Monopoly a much longer post.  It is something I’ve kept meaning to write more about but for which I never get around to doing the in depth research.  Partly because I am not an economist or interested in economy.  I am interested in history and this is something I’ve been putting together in my head based on viewing of a number of documentaries and articles and books that were not specifically about the economy.  But the past decade or so has had me pulling these threads together into this concept that I think has a valid point.

In the fight to change minimum wage into people being able to earn a living wage if they work full time may be easier to understand if one understands that our modern economic system was developed by the same people who create the ‘trunk’ system of work compensation. Once upon a time, these people were called ‘Railroad Barons’. Not because their work on the railroads made them rich but because they way they made money made people think of the old ‘robber baron’s’ back in the Old Country. These were people with titles who took to robbing travelers and merchants crossing their lands in order to have an income.

Railroad Barons as a term came about because most of these people were in the business of building railroads.  But it included others that were not but practiced business in the same manner.  These were the people who came up with the idea of creating towns at their factories or operations and paying people in company script that had no value outside the company town. Then getting the families in debt to the company so they would never be able to leave their jobs and move away.

The government determined this was simply a way to try to legally enslave people and made company script illegal. Wages must be paid in legal tender.  The government seemed to be less concerned with the payment itself and more concerned with the fact that it limited mobility, trapping people.  They probably could have paid the employees anything so long as it would have been considered to have an equal, legal value, anywhere they wanted to take it so it could be used and spent in other places.  They could have been paid in pocket watches because they could be sold and traded for a relatively constant value.  Well, at least until the market got flooded with pocket watches.  But it gets the idea across.  These company scrip were bit of paper that held NO value once outside of the company town.

But in response to the Great Depression, these people changed the perception of their characters. They became known as captains of industry. They were praised for attempting to put some kind of organization and structure onto the economy. We called it capitalism and made a board game praising the concepts of making as much money possible off of others while trying to compensate them with the least amount possible without getting in trouble with the law.

Another reason that people don’t really realize that the Mafia came really close to taking control of the government back in the day is the reason that so many people were willing to work for the Mafia and to protect them. It wasn’t because they were family members. It wasn’t because these were people with natural criminal inclination. It was because, back at this time period, the Mafia in the U.S. took better care of its workers and their families than any other employer did. Older kids and young men took jobs doing stuff for the mob because the work was more likely to be steady, reliable, and better compensated and their families were looked after better than any other job in the cities they could have found, for the most part. Which may be a really sad thing to say.

Our entire economy was solidified and fine tuned by people so questionable that they made the Mafia look good. Think about it. This is the Free Trade Capitalism that so many people say is the best method of Economy.  It is a method that says anyone can get rich if they work hard enough.  This ignores the fact that unless there is an unlimited source of money, it is blatantly not true.  Given a finite source of wealth in the world, that means only so many people can get rich while most people never will, no matter how hard they work.  Free Trade Capitalism is best for funneling the most money into the fewest pockets.

I’m not saying that people should run out and become the exact opposite.  That isn’t any better.  What I’m saying is that our system isn’t all that and a bag of chips and the very roots of that system is why a living wage is anathema to what most people have been taught.

Tax Day

Posted in Economy, Life with tags , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by urbannight

It is that day again. 

I did mine and they were electronical shipped off already. 

My roommate had his done and back already.

Have you finished yours?

Did you owe, did you get money back?

I expect the refund I have from the feds will be taken to pay on the error they claimed I made on my 2007 return.  I think they are wrong and redoing it came up the same as I turned in the first time.  All I can say is I must be missing something. 

But fighting the IRS on it was a major energy drain so I’m just paying it off.  Slowly.  Because that’s the best I can do.  It’s awfully hard to fight the IRS. 

 

The Good, The Bad, The Proteus Guild

Posted in Entertainment, Gaming, Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by urbannight

Before the server move, I was on a fairly small server. I wasn’t sure about the move but decided it was better to do if voluntary than wait until the end when the moved all the people who didn’t want to. There were always so few people on the planets. The most chatty was someone with a toon named Freya. I always wondered what happened to her. Her comments made it should like she was a her. I could be wrong. Some guys really get into playing female toons. At that time, if your name was already used on the server you were being moved to, you were the one forced to change yours. I was lucky and I didn’t have to.

The night I made the move, I got logged into the new server and there were sure a lot of people. I was on the pub fleet taking care of what I call house keeping. I go through all my stuff, see if I have anything new I can put on my companions, cycling through them all. Then sorting what I needed to save and what I could sell on the GTN, turning on RE to see which things I couldn’t auction that I could RE, and then finding a vendor to sell the rest of the stuff.

Skull face idea 3

How I feel as I write this.

This could take a while. I suddenly got this tell asking if I wanted to join a guild. Sure! I said. It was from Doc.

I was really quiet for a month or so. I have been playing MUD’s, MOG’s and MMO’s since the early 90’s. I’ve seen good guilds and bad guilds and relaxed guilds and fanatical guilds.

I loved Proteus. It was the best guild I had ever seen and I was amazed at how many years it had existed and how many games it crossed over. I had never seen anyone accomplish such a thing before.

I alternated my time between all my toons until I slowly stopped playing the lowest level ones and focused on my pub main and imp main. Once I hit 50 on my pub toon, I pretty much focused on her (Lindrossa) after that. I would pop on and do a mission on the imp side once a week. I would pop on to a couple of my alts and do a mission or two once a week. I was trying to level a healer and a tank, even though I’m not really fond of tanking. I figured I should learn it enough for an emergency back up, just in case.

So in those days, people would see me chatting for a few weeks and then I would be on imp a few weeks and come back and see a lot of different people chatting. But there was a significant core group that was always there, always chatty, and pretty darn nice.

And once I started playing Lindrossa nearly exclusively, people started to get more familiar with me. One day, when discussing PVP and Flashpoints, it came out that I had never actually done a flashpoint. So people volunteered to do the first FP mission we get with my new healer. After that, I switched to my main and people took me through an FP on her.

The Smuggler Class is my favorite class.  Lindrossa is a Smuggler  Gunslinger.  I got a real kick out of the idea that I could make an Orion Slave Girl in the Star Wars universe.  I know that isn't the race name, but thats sure what they look like to me.  Too much Trek as a kid????

Photo not up to date. Not my current gear.

I had avoided most PVP and FP because I never found them to be any fun in all the other games I ever played. Most of them were super fanatical and expected people to be totally geared the instant they hit the level they could start doing the pvp or raiding.

With SWTOR, I discovered that I really liked PVP. And with Proteus people, I found FP’s to be extremely fun. I was having a blast and I was told I was doing pretty darn good for not having run any of the FP’s we were running and being totally under geared. So they invited me along on various runs to help me start to get geared up.

I must have been doing okay because after a few weeks, I was recruited to a set raid group by a person who liked to find out about people before inviting them on a run. Mostly, has anyone run with them, what do they know of them, how do they do? My raid leader was a great person, really helpful, didn’t hold it against me that I hadn’t run a lot of the FP’s and raids before, helps me get geared up. Many people in my team were really helpful with pointing me in the right directions to find information on how to get the most out of my class when doing PVE.

We would raid twice a week and do random ones other nights. They didn’t mind that I like to do both PVE and PVP. I carried around both sets of gear so I could switch without having to find a cargo access. Sometimes, when people were doing random FP’s, they would throw me an invite. So I would sometimes still do runs with other people.

The guild meeting were surprisingly entertaining. Doc sounded like such a great guy and every meeting he talked about his ideals and purpose for Proteus. Sort of like a mission statement.

But then a few people were rubbing the wrong way, doing and saying things in general chat that were starting to give a bad impression for Proteus. Sometimes it was a bit embarrassing. And since some of them were high up in the leadership levels.

It finally came to a head and people who were not involved with the public drama but where trying to find solutions finally decided to leave. After all, allowing some of the really high up people to whatever they want that was contrary to Doc’s mission statements seemed like a sign of favoritism and selective application of some very basic and simple rules.

After this happens, Doc posted a list on the guild website that was terribly insulting and sounded like a drunk person wrote it. I even thought it was a bad prank. That he hadn’t written it but someone else did. But no, I later found out that he had even had people review it first. It was a list of people he wanted as officers and why. Not only did the letter sound drunk, was rude, but it was also insulting to half the people he said he actually wanted.

After that, I was very uncomfortable and concerned. Every day, people who were very active and were driving forces behind Proteus were leaving or being kicked. The letter caused several people who were mentioned as being wanted to leave. Like I said, it was highly insulting. Half my raid group left and some of the really active people stopped talking in guild chat. Vent got a lot quieter too. People were afraid to say anything just in case they were kicked for something they didn’t realize they said wrong.

It got to the point that every time I logged in, I pulled up the guild roster, changed it to show off-line members as well, and checked for certain people, to see if they were still there. There were no more random invites for runs and I spent most of my time doing PVP, getting more elite PVP gear, and doing some Gree missions.

Lilith and the Serpent.

Lilith and the Serpent.

And then somethings happened Monday. Someone who really was instrumental in getting raid groups going and helping me out personally was kicked. Just for being friends with someone else who was kicked. So now you had to be friends with the ‘right’ people and if you happened to be friends with anyone the powers that be want to kick then you too will be kicked.

I was upset about this but I was asked not to do anything. So I went to play on an alt that wasn’t in Proteus. One I almost never played. I saw two Proteus members get added to the guild she was in. Names I knew. Names of really active people.

I logged back into Lindrossa and checked the guild roster for certain names. Nearly every single one of them was gone. These were sudden kicks of people on Doc’s list of people he wanted to keep. Some for no reason they were ever told.

In the end, my impression is that a couple of people who were friends of the leadership, who had been on less often lately, came back to find a whole crop of really active people at the helm of Proteus. After all, Doc isn’t on much, Kitty is on more often but she isn’t on all the time either. So the people they assigned to look after things were doing so with a lot of input of the people who were really getting the guild active in end game content, raiding and having fun and keeping the game fresh, helping the lower level people, and really helping new 50’s get into the swing of ‘what to do next’. As a quiet person, who mostly observes, but would run with some of these really active people, and listen to them in vent, my impression is that these other people, who were spending more time on other servers or where otherwise occupied, suddenly came back and wanted THEIR guild back and THEIR power back and for people to look to THEM again.

Nearly all the really active people have been kicked or left before they got kicked. The people running raid groups. The people trying to get PVP groups off the ground. The people actively running datacron or pet/egg safari’s. They are all go. I log in and the chat is filled mostly with people I’ve never heard of before and don’t know anything about. I see trash talk about the people who left from people who don’t know what they are talking about. The people who left were the ones really working their asses off for Proteus. They weren’t out for power or glory or manipulating behind people’s backs. They did it for the love of the game and the love of what HAD been the best guild ever.

After finding out people were getting removed from the guild because they were friends with the wrong people, I realized that Proteus had turned into a guild I no longer wanted to be a part of anymore. There was nothing left of all the good things and everything that happened was completely contrary to all the things that Doc said at each and every guild meeting.

So Monday night I left the guild. It was sad to do so, especially such a long-lived and wide-spread guild as Proteus. It’s a phenomenon that I’ve never seen and may never see again. But it isn’t worth staying if you have to worry that you are going to get kicked because you are friends with, and still run raids with, the people who have left or were kicked.

A Multitude of Thoughts

Posted in Entertainment, Gaming, Health, Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by urbannight

Not everyone will be happy. But I am.

To start with, I’m very pleased with the apparent election outcome.  And not only does it look like Obama won the electoral votes, but they are thinking he probably won the popular vote as well.  They can’t say that officially yet because the counting isn’t done and it seems close enough in some places that they don’t want to commit to that just yet.

At the very very beginning of the primary race, I thought Romney might be a viable Republican option.  But as the primaries continued, and then after the nomination, and after he picked Paul Ryan, (Okay BEFORE he picked Ryan) I knew that I wouldn’t go near him with a 20 foot pole.  Maybe 100 yards would be better.  Isn’t that the distance on a restraining order?

My roommate, on the other hand, is not happy.  He feels as I do.  Only his sentiment is directed at Obama and not Romney.  So he is less happy this morning.

We are both still cranky and ticked off at one member of the wedding party from the weekend.  The fact that she is in a polyamorous relationship doesn’t bother me at all.  She seems to be a happier, stronger, more confident person than when she was with her ex-husband.  So it has been good for her.  What does bother me is that she treated the weekend as an opportunity for everyone else to take care of her little boy.  He is not yet school age. 

I know that it was a special weekend and they let him stay up later than his normal bedtime.  But she left it up to her boyfriend to make him go to bed.  She was too busy drinking and partying with the other members of the wedding party to make sure he got to bed. 

She asked her sister to watch him while they ran some errands in town and took off, without leaving the car seat and everyone wanted to do something that day.  But with no car seat, that meant someone had to stay back to watch the little boy.  And his mom couldn’t be bothered to answer her phone while they were out.  So we couldnt’ get them to drop the seat off or find out where they were so someone could pick up the car seat.

Then, at the wedding dinner, mugs were a party favor and people were told to find a spot based on the mug they wanted.  I put my camera in the spot I wanted.  I was more concerned with not being trapped in the back because I’m mildly agoraphobic.  I don’t like being trapped or surrounded by to many people.  She then comes over to me to say that she and her boyfriend and the other girlfriend are sitting in the three spots on that end.  Of course, then NEVER put down anything to mark those places as occupied. 

Did you notice that she only had three spots?  She never even thought about where her little boy was going to sit.  She was more concerned about her boyfriend.   Basically, he ended up in the only empty seat left.  She also didn’t even bother to make sure he got a plate of dinner.  It’s like he didn’t even exist for her during that dinner.  It was left up to the people around him to make sure he got fed and behaved well.   One of those people was his step-grandpa.   But he was also surprised that the boy’s mother didn’t bother to think about her son that evening.  So it wasn’t like there was an arrangement for him to sit near his grandpa.

It is two days later and I am still pissed off about this behavior.  Not even Election Night was able to distract me from it. 

Looking at photos, ones in which I appear, I hate to see myself.  I used to LOVE to be in front of the camera.  Every time I see a photo, I can’t believe it is me.  I do not see myself as being that huge.  I guess I have some kind of reverse anorexia.  You know, where the person w/ anorexia draws pictures of themselves as huge when they are in reality a walking skeleton.  I know I’m over weight, but my mental image is apparently much smaller than my real body size.  I can’t really reconcile the me I see in photo’s with the me in reality.   Maybe that’s part of the reason I have so much trouble losing weight?  And today the top of my butt cheeks hurt a lot.  No idea why. 

Actually, I think it may be a result from distracting myself from the Polls.  I would watch 15 minutes of a show, pause it, check the Polls, then clean for 5 minutes, and repeat.  So I was up cleaning for 5 minutes out of every 20.  All evening long.  That is a lot of up and down and up and down.  I suppose that could do it.

Back to politics as I remember something else from last night.  I was playing SWTOR in the later evening.  Everyone was doing really really well with NOT talking about politics.  Oh, there was the generic comments about the polls and such, but nothing about political opinions and beliefs. 

Until one idiot decided to announce that anyone who votes for Obama was a traitor.  All we said was that we felt the person was being a bit to extreme.  But the one person kept going on about it.  One person left the guild because of it.  After about half an hour, in which he couldn’t get anyone else to take sides at all, he (that is an assumption there) left the guild.  A comment right after was that if you ignore someone trying to stir things up, it becomes a self-correcting situation. 

A smart rule is to never discuss politics in Guild Chat.  People on both sides get upset.  People trying to ignore the discussion get upset.  In the past, I’ve seen guilds fracture and split in half over politics during election years.  It is too volatile a topic.  It is worse than religion.

Beyone the Pale

Posted in Entertainment, History, Language, Movies and Theatre, Photography, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by urbannight

The town from Stardust. I blew it up bit and the ‘pale’ is not in the forground, but I thought I could make it out in the distance in the background. But that could be my imagination willing it to be there. It is difficult to see in the low light with the scrub in the background. Don’t mistake the yard walls with the pale wall.

A lot of people use the phrase, and use it correctly, without a full understanding of it. They basically know that it means to do something very bad.

The word ‘pale’ is from the Latin ‘palus’ which is a stake used to support a fence. The word expanded to include meaning a picket-style fence and extended to a boundary within which the local laws were valid.

A long time ago, the Pale was a low rock fence circling a town. But it also might be a ditch with ramparts built around it. Think of it as the city limits. These were not necessarily defensive structures but could be. Such as when it was a fortified ditch with ramparts built around it.

A palus fence, ie. a picket fence, a sharp wooden post was a ‘pale’ as in ‘impale’.

Now, if a person in a town did something that was so horrible as to get himself (or herself) kicked out of town and told not to come back – ever – it meant they couldn’t come inside the fence. So not only was the town proper off limits, but the area around the town too. When this happened, the person was considered as being “Beyond the Pale”.

A variation on this is when a ‘paling’ fence (a wood stake fence like a picket fence) would mark an area and certain people could only living in that area, such as Jews, which happened in certain areas of Russia. It still conveyed the same meaning. People who were considered unacceptable or unwanted were put on the other side. This was called a Pale of Settlement.

It was also used to identify the parts of Ireland which were under English control, The Pale.  So area’s England did not hold sway were ‘Beyond the Pale’ as well.

The Pale, the fence/wall around the town from the movie Stardust.

There is a movie that is a good example of the use of a ‘pale’ border for the purpose of identifying a legal area and the concept of that is on the other side is the ‘other’. It is a point where what is inside the pale is the acceptable world and what is beyond the pale is too different to be accepted.

That movie is Stardust.

A boy wants to impress a girl he likes and she seems to like him too. But at the same time, she can be mean and petty and she likes to pit him against the rich boy who clearly wants her. So they see a falling star and he promises to fetch the star and return it to her.

But the Star landed outside the Pale. So he has to go there to get it. In the process, he learns more about whom he is, rescues a princess who is living as a slave turned into a bird and happens to be his mother, meets a cross-dressing pirate, has encounters with evil women, and other adventures. It is really a classic coming of age story.

It also does a great job of showing how what is inside the pale is safe, structured, and provides order to the world and what is outside the pale can be wicked, dangerous, and adventurous.

But do you always want to be safe, take no risks, and give up part of your soul in the process or do you want to open your life up to the possibilities and freedoms you didn’t know existed?

And as I wrote that sentence I suddenly thought that people need to think about that question in relation to the personal freedoms they were willing to give up after 9/11 and decided if it is really better or if we want to start demanding the government value the individual citizen again and put a stop to some of the more invasive and totalitarian, freedom-violating, aspects of the Homeland Security Act.  It is a good question for life in general.

To Vote or Not to Vote

Posted in Life, Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by urbannight

 

According to recent news articles, the black vote is wavering.  This does not concern me as much as the reason WHY it is wavering.

 

Some Christian Blacks are concerned that Romney’s Mormonism may affect his policies.  Others are concerned that Romney seems to be a president for rich white men and feel he doesn’t care at all about the African American population of the country.  This impression is, in part, due to the fact that until fairly recently, African Americans were not allowed into the priesthood.

 

These same people are concerned about Obama supporting gay marriage.  They don’t see how a true Christian can support that and therefore are reluctant to vote for him again.

 

As congregations are discussing this, pastors are offering their people a third option.  On that I think is no option at all: the option of simply not voting.

 

I’m sure this is going on among white people and people of every race or ethnicity.  But the current articles are focusing one blacks because they are viewed as one of base demographics in support of Obama in general.

 

By choosing not to vote, your ‘vote’ in essence, becomes a factor in favor of the person you least want to win.  The political process, buy it’s very nature, is not a vote for the best but for whomever you think is the least worse.

 

 

By choosing not to vote, you give up your voice and your right to complain if you don’t like how things turn out. 

 

For example, I voted for Obama.  I don’t like how the Obamacare package turned out.  Despite some of the good things in it, it is otherwise so flawed and so bad that I think scrapping the whole thing and doing it over would be better.  But Romney is my ‘Antichrist’ and I would rather vote Obama again than risk him getting into office.  Had I NOT voted, I would have given up my voice in this political discourse because I chose not have no opinion and to let the opinions of others determine the outcome. 

 

In other words, if you want to complain, you have to participate first.  Otherwise you don’t have any solid ground to stand on. You become the house build on the shifting stand rather than the one build on solid rock. 

 

Now the issues that concern them are NOT the reasons why I myself am concerned about a wavering black vote.  It is the fact that pastors are using the pulpit to give advice on not voting.  I think that it is wrong for any pastor to be using the pulpit to discuss political activism.  I think that they can discuss social activism because they are concerned with social issues. But when it crosses a boundary into political advice on how to vote then they are crossing the line of separation of church and state.

Once churches cross this line, I think they should be giving up their status as a tax-exempt entity.  I don’t care if a church protests social issues, as much as I dislike churches trying to tell everyone that they should live their lives by the churches rules.  I do care when they start telling people how to vote or when to not vote.

 

It is even harder to imaging people who have fought so long and hard to get the right to vote decided on to do it at all because they don’t like either candidate.  Once again, with politics, you are trying to pick the lesser of two evils.   

 

 

Is allowing people to get married really more harmful to you than a candidate that is pushing through reforms that will make it harder for you to vote, and who things corporations should be treated as people and people are just cogs that can be easily replaced with cheaper cogs overseas?

 

Really?

 

Don’t choose not to vote.  You should choose to vote for someone who will actually do things to improve your personal situation.  Another person’s marriage or reproduction decision doesn’t affect your life personally, so don’t base your vote on that.