A Lovely Fantasy


Lest we need another reason to vote for Hillary this fall (you know, in addition to her being really quite an excellent candidate who will make a wonderful president), let’s all allow ourselves to be reminded of the SCOTUS situation.

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I went there once. Nice building.

Scalia is dead, to begin with. Since the Republicans have decided that no president should be allowed to nominate anyone during the last 11 months of their second term (a plan which will never come back to bite them in the ass at all), this means that Hillary or Trump will get to nominate Scalia’s replacement.

Then we have the fact that Ginsburg is getting up there in years. It’d be nice to replace her with another liberal. Kennedy is getting up there in years, too, and it’d be oh-so-nice to lose Thomas. In my dreams, we might even ditch a couple other conservatives in the next eight years.

So if you needed another reason to vote for Hillary, let me remind you that integrated schools, interracial marriage, gay marriage, the right to privacy, and abortion rights, all came about because of the Supreme Court.

Remember that, Stein supporters, and let’s all think about what we might be able to have in the not-too-distant future.

Both of Me Found This Fascinating


One fun thing about restarting the blog is going back and writing about things I would have written about when they were new, if I was writing about things when those things were new.

One of these is this.

This really fascinates me to no end. I do find myself wondering what would happen if you were to create a new body for someone and put half their brain in that one while the other half remained in the other. Would they be the same person still? Or two different people? The philosophical implications are interesting, I think.

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Finding the Path


Back in the 1980s, I, like virtually every geeky, nerdy kid out there, discovered Dungeons and Dragons. I returned to it off and on over the years, but lost interest in papers and pencils gaming some time ago.

Then…Pathfinder came along.

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Are there stats for the Headpiece of Frinn?

While this game lacks a harlot encounter chart, it is, nevertheless, quite a good, solid system. I came to it a few years ago, playing in a Viking-themed campaign that a friend of mine ran. Then a couple years ago, I started up a short-lived Indian-themed campaign. Now I’m running a came set in a fantasy version of The Thirty Years War, because that’s a cheerful time in history.

If you’re  a gamer who likes the old school-style of gaming, but with a few modern bibs and bobs added on, I do highly recommend this game. It’s very good, very fun, and a great way to spend time with friends!

Let Him Leave


The Emperor of Japan took to the airwaves today, dropping many a hint that he wants to step down from the throne he’s been on since the death of his father, Hirohito.

The problem is that there’s no mechanism in Japanese law for the Emperor to step down. It’s not like the UK, where the monarch can abdicate with permission from parliament. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain have all had their respective monarchs step down over the last few years, as has the Vatican.

There’s some concern that if the emperor steps down, it could help push Japan further along their current road to re-militarizing. That may or may not be the case. But I’ll say this: he’s an old man. If he wants to leave and let his son take the throne, let him. Don’t hold the guy prisoner in a job he doesn’t want anymore.

A Great Resource


So this website is new, or at least, new to me. It’s called Septoid, and it’s got a great mix of podcasts and readable items discussing various skeptical issues. From there, I learned that we’re pretty sure what was going on with the lead masks in Brazil, what the Bloop was, and how, when it comes to rains of fish and frogs, you shouldn’t take the obvious conclusion for granted. I even, finally, learned exactly why the conspiracy story about Hearst trying to outlaw marijuana doesn’t make sense. That one had never sat right with me. Even better, I learned that the best explanation for the Wow! signal remains the one that’s the most exciting!

Best of all, the guy who runs the site ‘fesses up when he makes mistakes and admits when he gets things wrong. That’s a major plus.

So go there and have a look. It’s pretty great!

Why Not Phoenix?


As the 2016 games begin, I find myself wondering that one thing I wonder every two years. No, not when NBC might start doing decent coverage of the games; I gave up on that dream long ago. Instead I find myself asking, “Why not Phoenix?”

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fig. 1 – Phoenix

I’ve lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for the last 11 years now, and one thing that constantly surprises me about this city is its lack of ambition. We never really seem to push to get seen on the national or international stage. In fact, until I moved here I had no idea that this is the sixth largest city in America.

We’ve hosted the Superbowl a few times (well, Glendale has, but same thing), and so we’ve proven that we can handle a large sporting event. So why not try for the Summer Olympics?

There are a few arguments here, and they basically boil down to heat, traffic, and money.

The heat part is very easy to overcome. All you do is hold the Olympics in April. Problem solved. There’s plenty of precedent for the Olympics to be held in months that are outside the standard for the season the games are supposed to relate to. April here isn’t bad at all, with only a couple 100 degree days, and mostly pleasant weather.

As for the traffic, yeah, that’d certainly be a problem, no denying it. But it doesn’t have to be that big of a problem. If this happened, it would happen a decade or two hence, and that’s plenty of time to continue to expand the light rail system. If we did that, and added a lot more buses, and also widened the freeways where we could, that would not only alleviate traffic concerns for the Olympics, but it would also alleviate them for the city in general.

Now I can’t escape the fact that this would cost money. We do actually have several decent athletic venues here in Phoenix, and the greater Phoenix area. Chase Field, Talking Stick Resort Arena, Sun Devil Stadium, the arenas over in Glendale, etc, etc. We have plenty of space for water venues, too. I’m not sure how much we’d have to build, but I bet we’d have to build less than other cities might.

Of course, even then we’d still have to pay for what we build. But you know, I’d be happy to pay an extra .5% sales tax if it went to the Olympics. I’d even go as high as 1%. Because not only would it leave us with, in theory, a better infrastructure, it would also help showcase on the national and international stage, and it would be positive focus, unlike so many times when we’re in the news for various negative reasons.

I’d really like to see this happen, but I know it won’t. Phoenicians just don’t really seem to want anything big here, and that’s a shame, because our lack of ambition will cost us in the end.

Adventures in Cooking – Yogurt


I have done what people first learned how to do only several thousand years ago. I…have made yogurt!

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Mmmmm…plain…

How, you might ask, does one make yogurt? Must one be Turkish? Or be a hippie? Or some weird hipster trying to live “off the grid”?

No, one only needs a rice cooker, milk, yogurt culture, heat, and time.

The total prep was about five minutes. It then spent about 12 hours total cooking, cooling, and then cooking some more. It was kind of fascinating to watch.

And now…I have yogurt. How does it taste?

Well, it’s plain yogurt, so…yeah. It takes like that. I added some blackberry jam and some blackberries to it, along with a couple spoons of sugar, and that helped. But it was a little more watery than I would have liked. Next time, I’ll cook it for longer, which I am told will help.

Still, as a first go, not bad! Not bad at all.

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