Monthly Archives: April 2012

Politics, FaceBook and Me

A picture from Facebook posted by a friend and peer at work, I disagreed with him on FaceBook and he asked me to provide some proof that this was wrong.

So first up, is those numbers. These numbers might be vaguely correct (but not really) of President Obama’s first budget had started on January 20th 2009, it did not. The last Bush Budget did not expire until September 30 2009.  By the time the last Bush Budget expired the national debt was already at 11.9 trillion dollars. What this means is George W. Bush was not only responsible for a nice hunk of the 6.307 trillion on the left side, but he was responsible for most of the 6.477 trillion on the right side. Go a head, check it out, I am telling the truth.

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo5.htm

Next, I would like to have a look at the cause of the 3 trillion or so dollar increase in the national debt since then. Lets have a look at what the cost of continuing George W. Bush’s tax policies and wars versus new spending by President Obama.

These 2 charts paints a much different picture from the first graphic. What this means is, most of the deficit is coming from  continuing policies from the Bush administration, which presumably, my friend agrees with, tax cuts and the various middle east misadventures.


Edit: I am aware the number provided in the original graphic do not work when presented in context. The implication of the graphic is the national debt is 12.784 trillion dollars and 6.477 trillion of that is President Obama’s fault. If you compare those two numbers to the number provided in the link to the Department of Treasury, you see the national debt was at 6.2 trillion on 09/30/2002, which would have been when the first Bush Budget expired. the 12.784 trillion was not achieved until sometime between 09/30/2009 and 09/30/2010. In effect, the creator of that graphic is trying to blame the deficit spending of the Bush administration on President Obama. While I find it mildly amusing that someone went to this trouble, it is a lie and does not hold up to even cursory examination.

The Future of Space Travel

The recent New York fly over of the Space Shuttle Enterprise reminds me of the test flights conducted back in the late 70′s. I remember some newscaster predicting that if you were under the age of 30, there was a good chance you would be able to experience space travel in your life time, I was perhaps 14 at the time. Today of course, at the age of 48, ever seeing space is a ridiculous notion.

Now that funding for whatever will replace the Shuttle program has shifted primarily to private sector development, we can expect a very slow slog towards probably nothing. Several private companies will vacuum up billions of federal dollars and produce nothing over the next decade. Look at Mojave Aerospace Ventures, they have only managed put a man in low earth orbit, something that was a serious trick in 1964 but not so much in 2004. I suspect Ethiopia could successfully put a man in low earth orbit with a balloon and a lawn chair if they wanted to.

The problem of course is as a country, we simply do not have the will for space exploration and I do not see this changing anytime soon. Our government is moor bound by conservative partisanship and the need to cut spending on everything except the CIA and the Defense Department. The private sector has no interest in space because there is no profit to be made yet. Yeah, yeah, mining asteroids blah blah. Not going to happen in my lifetime. Before we can effectively mine asteroids one of two things must happen, either the minerals we will mine will become so expensive the cost of getting it will be profitable or space flight will have to be so inexpensive that the cost of getting the minerals will be profitable. I see neither of these things happening in my life time. Of course if we had discovered hydrocarbons on the moon, we would have had a base there in 1975, and you’d better bloody fucking believe it would be American territory. But the fact is, the closest deposits of hydrocarbons we are aware of are on Saturn’s moon Titan, and since the shortest possible trip there would be 2 plus years, good luck with that.

Mono Blue Misc

Several weeks ago I posted a deck built out of the left over cards from a couple of preconstructed decks I bought and raided. I gave the deck to a friend who plays magic casually and but is not interested in spending tons of money on the hobby and really, who can blame him. To recap here is the original deck.

4x Phantasmal Bear
4x Neurok Commando
4x AEther Adept
4x Master Thief
4x Phantasmal Dragon
2x Spined Thopter
2x Frost Breath
4x Negate
4x Mind Control
4x Mana Leak
4x Preordain
20x Island

The strength of this deck is its ability to grab creatures and artifacts from its opponents and deny them the ability to develop a significant offense. He has played this deck successfully several times now, he likes the deck, however it does have several weaknesses. While its mana curve is not horrible, it is a bit flat, with 12 cards outside of casting during the first three turns and nearly half the deck can not be cast if you miss a mana drop during the first three turns.

First up, the Phantasmal Dragon has got to go, for as big a creature it is, it is too easily killed, I’d rather use the Delver of Secrets, 1 drop and flip from a 3/2 flying creature. Yeah it is still inside shock range, but having an attacking 3/2 flier on the field on turn two is too good to pass up. Next, I would replace the Preordain with Ponder. Preordain is out of the Standard block now and only allows you to dig 2 deep into your deck. Ponder allows you to dig 3 deep and costs the same. Finally, I would drop Spined Thopter and Frost Breath for 4 Vapor Snag or Unsummon, Unsummon is easier to get, but Vapor Snag has the added bonus of doing a point of damage to your opponent. This also adds 4 more instants which increases the chances of flipping the Delver on turn 2.

4x Phantasmal Bear
4x Neurok Commando
4x AEther Adept
4x Master Thief
4x Delver of Secrets
4x Vapor Snag
4x Negate
4x Mind Control
4x Mana Leak
4x Ponder
20x Island

There, now the mana curve is much better, the deck will play faster and more consistent while becoming better focused. The really nice thing here is the modifications will cost around $5. While I would not take this deck to a tournament, I would not be embarrassed to bring it to Friday Night Magic at the local game store.

Who is the party of fiscal responsibility?

This is an interesting graph showing us just who really spends federal money like drunken sailors.

It seems interesting to me that during Republican Presidencies deficits don’t matter, but during Democratic Presidencies it is the single biggest issue that must be dealt with immediately, but not by raising taxes or cutting the military. Another oddity that sticks out here, is President George H.W. Bush was and still is reviled by his own party for his efforts to cut the deficit. I am sure I will hear some bullshit about both parties being equally bad, blah blah, but if you look at this chart, it is not even close to being true. Where the budget is concerned, there is one party that is drastically better than the other.

MTG: The Mana Leak Discussion

It is interesting looking at Magic: The Gathering through the lenses of someone who has not played for more than decade. I was reading this article over at Wizards website about how they are fixing an overpowered card called Snapcaster Mage. One of the problem cards that is commonly abused by the Snapcaster Mage is Mana Leak. Apparently, Mana Leak is a powerful card, to quote the article;

“One of the problems is that Mana Leak is simply a much more powerful card than we would be comfortable printing under modern development rules. Similar to why the Swords are so powerful—their costs were locked in before people really understood how to price Equipment—Mana Leak is a relic of a bygone era.”

Having played MTG in said bygone era, I have to tell you Mana Leak was considered the worst counter spell in the game. Yes, early in the game it could be useful, but was generally a wasted draw by turn 5. Virtually everyone would rather have drawn a real Counter Spell or a Power Sink. I can tell you, I was a consummate Blue player and I never used Mana Leak in a constructed deck. Today, I certainly will, but only because Power Sink is gone and other counter spells are either more expensive or hampered in some way. From my point of view MTG does not have a power creep problem, it has a power drain problem. Cards are getting weaker and less flexible, decks are getting predictable and games are getting longer. I have not decided if this is a good thing or not.

RE: Trayvon Martin

As predicted I took some heat for my previous post about Trayvon Martin. First I would like state, if you try to post a comment but your email address is that of a known spammer, your comments are going straight to my spam bin where I look at them once or twice month. Second, this is my blog, I pay for the domain name and the hosting, I am under no obligation to post anyones insane rants besides my own and PezWitch. You have every right to exercise your first amendment rights, however, I do not have to pay for the soapbox you want to stand on. Third, I would probably be more receptive to your arguments if you did not call me names and swear at me.

A couple of people emailed me links to various crimes committed by black people, all of them very bad and vicious, wondering why I did not comment on any these crimes. Well, in most of those cases the perpetrators were found, arrested and tried for their crimes, which proves my point. One fellow did send me a link to a shooting at a Taco Bell in Laveen AZ where the perpetrator was not immediately arrested. Normally I would post a link, but it is to a Foxnews site and I refuse to link to Foxnews, but if you google it you will find it. My take on this is first, I can not find any follow up to the story which occurred on the 3rd of April. My guess is that if the perpetrator had still not been arrested Foxnews would still be spitting nails over it, the fact that I can not find anything concerning this case much beyond a couple of blog posts and a Youtube video tells me this is not what you think it is. But even assuming it is exactly what you think it is, okay fine, point taken. However, I would argue this proves my point rather than disproves it. My guess is this guy was quietly arrested several days ago, but even if he wasn’t does anyone really believe for a second that the Phoenix Police Department will refuse to do its job, the Chief of Police be forced to resign and a special prosecutor have to be assigned to get this guy arrested?

 

Happy toker day

To all you Daydream Believers, happy 4/20.

GURPS Characters

Since I am running a GURPS Game in a few weeks, I decided to sit down and do up a character in case I needed to help anyone with theirs. The character creation rules were 200 points, no disadvantages or quirks allowed. This is what I came up with, a fairly stock fighter type character. I took the Extra Attack advantage on the premise that the best defense is a good offense and being able to use two weapons would shorten my opponents life span by several turns, even if it meant forgoing the ability to block with a shield, which is the cheapest defense point wise.

Name: HighTower, Race: Human

Attributes [144]
ST 14 [40], DX 14 [80], IQ 10, HT 12 [20]

HP 16 [4], Will 10, Per 10, FP 12

Basic Lift 39, Damage 1d/2d

Basic Speed 6.5, Basic Move 6
Ground Move 6, Water Move 1

Advantages [30]
Ambidexterity [5], Extra Attack (1) [25]

Perks [1]
Honest Face [1]

Skills [25]
Area Knowledge (local) IQ/E – IQ+0 10 [1]
Brawling DX/E – DX+0 14 [1]
Broadsword DX/A – DX+2 16 [8]
Fast-Draw (Sword) DX/E – DX+0 14 [1]
Fast-Talk IQ/A – IQ+0 10 [2]
Knife DX/E – DX+2 16 [4]
Riding (Equines) DX/A – DX-1 13 [1]
Shield (Shield) DX/E – DX+2 16 [4]
Swimming HT/E – HT+0 12 [1]
Writing IQ/A – IQ+0 10 [2]

Stats [144] Ads [30] Disads [0] Quirks [0] Skills [25] = Total [200]

More Election Year Fun

Well it looks like the GOP primary is all but over and as predicted Mitt Romney is now the presumptive nominee. Last fall Romney was about even with President Obama in the polls, now 6 months later, the President is leading Romney by healthy margins in all but the Fox News polls. To top it off, tens of millions of dollars in Super PAC money has been spent against Republicans, by Republicans, money that can not be spent against the President this fall. During this time, the President has been raising money for the general election and the Democratic Super PACs and been primed. I’d say all in all, the big winner of the GOP primary was President Obama. Of course Romney will get a bounce after the Convention and assuming his choice of VP is not a total disaster, he may get a bump there as well. So we may get a horse race out of this late in the fall, but I seriously doubt it. I suspect the President will maintain a healthy lead all through the election cycle.

Speaking of VP choices, I would like to suggest Santorum as a good VP candidate. I would love to see the GOP continue pushing the anti birth control platform. That has been working so well for them with women voters and I thought Santorum is just the guy to keep that going for them.

GURPS and other miscellania

I am fairly certain I have been boring everyone to death about Magic: The Gathering, but I blame PezWitch for that. So anyway, in other news, in a couple of weeks I am starting a new campaign. We are officially shifting our game from HackMaster to GURPS. This change is not much of a surprise to anyone I suspect, after all, we have been playing HackMaster for 10 years. You heard that right, this year is the 10th anniversary of my gaming group. This group is officially the longest lived game group I have ever participated in. We have had a few bumps here and there, crappy software for one. When we started, OpenRPG was so bad, we had to stop in the middle of the game so we could all restart the program to keep it from consuming all the memory of our systems. We have also had some bad players, I am not naming names, but I think we all know who I am talking about. I am fairly certain the group has been on the verge of breakup at least twice. But through it all, some of us kept coming and so here we are.

Back to GURPS, on May 5th, I am starting a fresh campaign. We are playing GURPS Fantasy, the setting is Banestorm (The “Official” GURPS Fantasy setting). We played GURPS Fantasy a couple of month ago, sort of a trial run and we learned a few things. The biggest thing was 100 points is no longer enough, the game now scales much better and the points are balanced, but as a result the power levels have changed. This time I gave them 200 points and as with the trial game, I am not allowing disadvantages. I also learned that GURPS is too gritty and realistic (I say that with my tongue firmly in my cheek) for there not to be some sort of extra healing ability going on. In the trial game there was no magic healing of any kind and a couple of characters spent to whole series of games on the verge of passing out. So I moved the game to a normal mana area and made magic more available. Hopefully we will get some interesting character mixes.

Oh and by the way, for anyone who does not know, we have moved the game to Saturday night at 9 PM CST. The server, room and password are all still the same.