Reclaiming the Narrative

Copied from a friend. A lot of this rings true

I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for.

I’m a liberal, but that doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does.
Let’s break it down, shall we? Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals (that I know) think along these same lines:

1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.

2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.

3. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.

4. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.

5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.

6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.

7. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.

8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you.

9. I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc).

10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.

11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.

12. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.

13. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, that just MIGHT save one person’s, perhaps a toddler’s, life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun.

14. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness. If I call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?

15. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.

16. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men including decisions about their own bodies, and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?
I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.

I shared this because I can relate.
The Author is unknown.
Feel free to copy and paste if you feel the same.

Border Anxiety and the Computer Age

It’s no surprise that border anxiety, a focus on attempts to affirm borders and create “impermeable” borders, has been on the rise since the so-called Computer Age began.

We live in an era in which the fiction of borders, imaginary lines on a map that continually shift while giving the facade of permanence, is being challenged. We live in an era when the interconnectedness of the world and its inhabitants has never been clearer. Today, a drought in central China affects stock prices in London within hours. The decisions of a CFO in New York lead to 500 Australians losing their jobs within a day. The choices of a South African plant manager affect fishermen in Alaska. Students in Maine can video chat with students in Peru at will. A person in Italy can video chat with family in Japan in real time at virtually no cost.

These challenges to the fiction of borders are profoundly disturbing and scary to some (particularly conservative) elements of society. Those who have bought into the fiction of borders. Those who define themselves as “not the Other”. Those who have bought into the fiction that imaginary lines on a map define people. Those who accept, unquestioningly, the fiction that division is more important than unity & connection. Those who are privileged enough to be lucky in where they were born, such that they buy into the fiction that the random chance of where someone happens to be born should define their entire life arc.

It seems to me that the connectivity of the Computer Age, the Digital Age, the Information Age, whatever you wish to call it, has resulted in such (ill conceived and impossible) backlash as Brexit, China’s internet censorship, or Trump’s (increasingly fictitious) border wall. The connectivity, the access to information, the ability to see global unity via a device that fits in a pocket, I think, brings out an anxiety in people who define themselves by division. It shows those very divisions to be permeable, false, and imaginary. What they thought was solid bedrock is increasingly shown to be a veneer, a false front, smoke and mirrors. And when the foundational bedrock of a person’s identity are removed, they tend to react without thought, with violence, and to excess.

Origins Game Fair Day 2 (2019)

Busy second day at Origins, which is why this is late.  We played or watched nine games, and re-played Deadly Doodles.  And visited with Mercedes Lackey, the Author GoH, once we eventually caught her at her table.

Catan: Cities & Knights (Catan Studios)

Almost identical to regular Catan, except that the robber works a bit differently.  Introduced invading barbarians and knights to protect against them.  The game also adds city walls and city improvements that grant development cards and other bonuses.  On the whole, I really enjoyed it and would definitely play it again.


Catan: Rise of the Inkas (Catan Studios)

We only watched this one, so I didn’t get as good a feel for it.  According to the guy running the demo, it’s about 75% normal Catan with a Small World (Days of Wonder) style “civilization in decline” element and the ability to take over other players’ territory.


Schrodinger’s Cats (9th Level)

We didn’t get to play this, only have a talk through from one of the booth workers.  Unfortunately, that didn’t really have much detail of game play and didn’t help.  My son decided that it was the game he wanted to get this year, though, so we’re muddling our way through it.  The concept is a basic bid and bluff or build style game.  Each player is a scientist trying to prove or disprove Schrodinger’s famous experiment—alive, dead, empty, or Heisenberg Uncertainty (e.g. wild card).  Each scientist has a special power that can be used once per game and a feline parody name like Albert Felinestein, Sally Prride or Neil deGrasse Tabby.  The concept is amusing, but the rules are not written clearly.  We’ll need to check some YouTube play throughs to really figure out how to properly play the game.

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Blob Lobber (SJGames)

Not my favorite of the day, by far, despite my love of SJGames.  Basically, the play area is populated by a blob and four blob queens.  Cards are dropped from at least 12” above the play area and must flip over at least once.  If they land of blobs that are not your color, you get points.  If they land of friendly blobs (your color), you lose points.  If they land blob-side up, there are more blob targets available.


Bunny Kingdom in the Sky (Iello)

Expansion of Bunny Kingdom that builds onto the board.  Nothing majorly interesting or notably different about game play, except for a few cards that drastically change resource availability and, therefore, scoring.  Honestly, if I were to get Bunny Kingdom, I wouldn’t bother with the expansion.

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Tsuro: Phoenix Rising (Calliope)

Unfortunately, this is not available until September.  But, once it is, it is definitely on our purchase list.  A variation on basic Tsuro, except that the players are lantern hunting (to get stars) phoenixes.  As phoenixes, they also get extra lives (one each), so going off the board can be a strategic move as the player can “die” and return anywhere along the board.  Tiles (double sided, both sides can be played) also allow for movement across corners, which changes strategies considerably and the board begins mostly populated with tiles.  As the demo guy (Chris Leder) said, you really have to unlearn everything you know about Tsuro in order to play Phoenix Rising.  But, it was a lot of fun.


Kanagawa (Iello)

Interesting, if somewhat complex, game of “painting”.  A lot of resource management (paint, mostly) and figuring out what, exactly, you need to get the diplomas that carry points.  It was interesting, but I don’t think we were playing exactly 100% by the rules after the first couple rounds, once the demo guy left to help some other people with a different game.

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Legendary Forests (Iello)

Fun and simple little game in which the players are dryads building the best forest floor.  One player randomly draws tiles (full stack – 5, so not all tiles are used).  Every player uses the exactly same tiles, but orients them differently and gets different forests by the end game.  Some tiles have a different color number, which causes every player to draw trees to grow in their forest.  The trees are what give players points, since every contiguous group of a color of forest floor that has one tree in it scores points at the end.


Spymaster (Calliope)

Unfortunately, not available until September.  Fun game of strategy, resource moving/building, and deception.  Every player is the head of a spy agency, with three field agents (whom only the player can move).  There are also a dozen or more “neutral agents” (whom anyone can move).  The game revolves around collecting intelligence (which allows players to move agents and “pay” for missions) and moving agents.  Each face up mission (6, one per inhabited continent) has a cost in agents (agency, neutral, or both) and intelligence.  Movement can be used to get your pieces in position, or move the pieces another player needs out of position, or to feint and try to get other players to think you’re going after one mission instead of your actual target.  Looking forward to the full release on this one.

Origins Game Fair Day 1 (2019)

A good six hour day was had from demoing eight games to a brief chat with Mercedes Lackey to watching the kid flail his way through the boffer arena.

Deadly Doodles (SJGames)

Steve Jackson Games’ newest offering, technically it’s not being released until GenCon but they are demoing it and have some copies available for sale at Origins.  Over all, it’s a fun game.  In some ways, it has a Tsuro feel in that it is a path building game.  However, all four players are building their own paths on their own (dry erase) map, though all the maps are identical.  Players get points for getting weapons, monsters, and treasures.  They lose points for getting monsters without the associated weapons or for running through traps placed by other players.  Fun dungeon delving path builder.


Ship Shape (Calliope)

Essentially a board covering, resource gathering game with penalties for being too greedy.  The “story” is that players are smugglers trying to build cannons to protect their ship, gold, and contraband.  But, the player with the fewest cannons loses points (can’t protect their ship) and the player with the most contraband loses points (gets raided by the Crown).  We only got the short version demo, versus a full play, so my understanding of the game is probably incomplete at the moment.


Bunny Kingdom (Iello)

Fun, slightly complex, game technically intended for ages 14+ due to the math involved (but my 8 year old loved it).  Each player draws 10 or 12 cards depending on how many players (2, 3, 4).  Rounds proceed by each player plays two cards, places their pieces or does card actions, then passes their remaining cards clockwise.  Then they play two cards, place pieces, and pass the remaining cards.  This continues until all the cards are played.  Then scoring commences by counting up the number of town/castle towers multiplied by the variety of connected resources (ex. carrots, fish).  Some cards give full game goals for bonus points as well (ex. control 9 cities).


King of New York (Iello)

Expansion and variation on King of Tokyo, monsters destroy NYC.  Dice rolls determine energy, health, damage, etc.   But, the city fights back by mobilizing troops as you destroy buildings.  Not one of my favorites, but it does seem to be popular with a significant number of people.


Catan: Legend of the Sea Robbers (Catan Studios)

Very fun, if rather complex, variant on basic Catan.  Typical Catan set up, except with three starting settlements, two roads, and a ship.  Ships are needed to cross the waters and get ore (which cannot be rolled).  Good news, though, the robber cannot rob anyone who has less than 4 victory points.  The goal is to reach 11 points by building the usual things (settlements, cities, roads, development cards), with the addition of ships.  Ships get castaways who can be sent out each turn for ore (for a price), but there are also some bonus gifts along the way and some helpers who have special abilities.


Farmini (Iello)

Cute farm building game, kid wasn’t too impressed but it was kinda fun for a once or twice off.  Basically, every player is trying to build a fenced area to protect their farm animals.  And drawing farm animals occasionally to score points (which also come from fencing in corn fields).  What are they protecting the animals from?  The wolf cards.  Each wolf card targets a specific animal (pig, chicken, goat) and any of said animal that is not fenced in is lost if the wolf comes up.  Players score points for every animal they have and enclosed corn fields.


Zombie Kids (Iello)

Nice, simple, fast area denial survival game.  Up to four players are kids trying to protect their cul-de-sac from a zombie apocalypse.  Each player’s turn starts by rolling a spawn point for a zombie (five areas plus a “no spawn”), then they move.  When they enter a space, they can remove two zombies.  If there are 3+ zombies in a space, the players can no longer enter it (area denial).  The goal is to lock all four gates (requires two players at the gate space) before all the zombies are placed on the board (if you run out of zombies to play, they win).  Initially, it seems rather easy, but quickly becomes quite difficult.


Rivals for Catan (Catan Studios)

Good, fairly fast, two-player version of Catan.  In some ways it’s simplified, in that players aren’t competing for space or resources.  In other ways, it’s more complex, in that there are other factors (strength, skill, trade power) that come into play and both players begin with six resource points that expand by the end of the game (I ended the game with 8 or 10 resource points to watch, as well as maybe 8 buildings that each gave different abilities).  It can be a little tough to keep track of all your resource sources and building abilities as the game progresses.

Ashford Grows & Looking Ahead

For the last couple months, I have been expanding both most of the Ashford vignettes and the world itself.  In the process, I’ve written several additional vignettes set in the broader world.  These aren’t typed yet.

Next week (the week of the 3rd), I plan to begin posting those vignettes on, probably, Fridays.  They’ll interweave with the Ashford ones.  I’ll still tag them Ashford, even though they don’t take place at that specific site.

Also, we’re less than 2 weeks from the Origins Game Fair–June 12th-16th.  I plan on spending two days there with my son and a half day alone, with accompanying photos and write-ups of the games we demo (probably a lot from Iello, Calliope, and SJGames, though I also want to his Asmodee N.A. and a few others).  Plus, Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon are the author Guests of Honor this year.