My Shadow Ballot

Here’s my take on the upcoming California ballot initiatives, as I’ve researched them so far:

Prop 1: NO. This is an entrenchment of the water policies that have gotten us to where we are right now, with more dams and more attempts to finagle more from a limited resource.   Australia had it right: they legislated the end to their drought and rolled up their sleeves to realize that’s how much water they had. This state has a byzantine labyrinth of ancient water “rights” bound up in a way that leads to wasteful and environmentally harmful practices. Conservation and right water use is where our focus should be. If we’re going to have water “rights,” it needs to be written for the benefit of all living things as any fundamental right should be.

Prop 2: Kinda Yes. There’s some question about the funding for schools but I’ve seen it explored both ways, and some sort of fund that preps the state for economic implosions is a sound idea.

Prop 45: Leaning No. Sounds like a good idea, but I’d wait to see how Covered California works out first. Shelve it for another day.

Prop 46: NO. The drug testing requirements are asinine, and a red herring for the backdoor opening of punitive damages (note that lost wages, bills, and etc, always have been unlimited) that’ll make the lawyer industry salivate.

Prop 47: Yes. This may need some quick tweaking and clarification and re-re-shuffling of what category some crimes ought to be in, but the “burn them all forever!” style of punishment as a way of “fighting crime” has proven expensive and ineffective.  This is a good step at reversing that.

Prop 48:   I have not researched it enough yet.

Gaming Thursday

We’ve just started up a sweet new* D&D campaign.  We begin essentially as street gang members, eking out the barest of livings in the lowest slum of a very large (>100k people) city… starting far far away from being heroes or even being in a position to become heroes.  It’s low key yet high tension, and rife already with interactions, interplays, and mystery, and great RP.

In order to help populate our gang, and to make it so we felt a deeper connection to everyone in the gang, the GM asked us to each make secondary characters and gang members.  He intended for us to make one additional character each; we the players… misunderstood.  We really took the “s” in secondary character_s_ to heart.  I made four characters.

In rather short order I wrote a short intro and back story for each one of the characters.  And to be honest, I’m really quite chuffed at how they all turned out.  Unintentionally, each story ended up coming out differently, with different styles and tone and focus and format.  And inside of this, they each managed to be quite evocative, giving a tangible sense of the character, who they are and what they are dealing with.  Nifty.

What’s surprised me out of this is that, while I’ve written many very lengthy backstories for my characters in the past (and my prime character in this game does indeed have a multi-pager) and those have worked out great, here each of these backstories were less than a page in length, yet still dripping with enough flavour to be able to play an interesting and unique character.  It’s had me reconsider what is minimally necessary for character creation (in terms of the character character aspect, not the mechanics aspect).   And I think it might boil down to only three things:

  1. Attitude/Being  — The PC’s personality and how they are acting and being in the world
  2. Aptitude/Talent  — What are the things the PC can do, and what skills or abilities or unique talents do they have and use to solve crises
  3. Concern/Goal  — What are the PC’s intentions, and what are they interested in or worried about or dealing with or up to

While a more full backstory/history will fill out the whys and hows of the above, which is great for depth and for RP exploration and for the DM to mine for the story, at the table in the moment, I think it is those things that are the most important.  When the campaign events begin, they shape the character in the RP sense and give them their way of interacting with the world in pursuit, or avoidance, of their goals and concerns.

And that’s what makes RP so fun.

I could easily see myself playing any of the characters, and having a great time with each of them.  We had to pick only one secondary PC to actually use in the game, but I know the others will hang around for some future campaign where I’ll be delighted to bring them to the table and to life.

(* Technically, we are re-starting this campaign, which died a quick death after one or two sessions about 6 or 8 years ago after some hard player derailment…. )

The Response

Alas. After the tragic events that unfolded in Ottawa last week, already there are motions being tabled to double down on the “security” apparatus, granting the RCMP, CSIS, and more, a whole slew of new “powers”. All the better to “keep us safe from the evils that await us.”

Please: that experiment has been done, on a grand scale, across a very large population and country. And it has led only to mistrust, suffering, tears, and even more insecurity. Don’t do it. It isn’t necessary. There are few (if any) bogeymen out there who simply “hate us and our freedoms” borne out of nothing. Thus, there’s nothing to further “protect” against. The level of vigilance present is enough. We are fine. Put your efforts (and taxpayer dollars) into things that will enliven and empower people and our country for the future.

Please call or write your MP to express your desire for restraint in introducing any new sweeping “reforms.”

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

You’ve probably heard that “Correlation does not equal causation.”   Indeed.

HOWEVER, that does not mean that correlation is not worth looking into.

I have heard this phrase bandied about more and more often lately, and I think it has become a quick and easy way to be dismissive rather than having to investigate something that may provide a truth we don’t want to know or that we don’t want to hear. It is the ultimate tool to stave off cognitive dissonance.

If things correlate very strongly, then it is strongly likely worth checking out to in service of what we truly strive for and for where we truly and ultimately want to go.

Architecture Monday

Urban Townhouse by Gluck+

click to visit project page

A lovely compact insertion on a very narrow urban lot. I like the use of a four-story library with a sculptural screen at the front to both engage and screen the public from the private, as well as allow the rest of the living spaces to be laid out in a way that gives them light and expanse. A small home writ large.

Whirlwind Amazingness

Wow, what a whirlwind and crazy woo! past 7ish weeks. Back I am from twin vacations (and much preparations beforehand!) and then visits here and work catchings up and more…

I went to Burning Man again this year, and it was a Kwoontastic time of packed classes with many students and teachers and community created with much sharing and wonder and (new) passions arisen plus conversations of excellence, good wine, great moments with camp mates, fun in the rain and in emergency Kwoon protection, ball pit frolicking, pedal-powered bumper car madness racing, human powered zoetrope amazigness, deep playa art touring delight, alien tank rumbling, fire ember kinetic sculptures blazing, cubic light show twinkling, climbing up and down and over and playing, delivery fun and posing, quiet meditations at the temple, rockin’ music at Crossroads, dancing the good dance(s), powerw00t music, French Quarter de/construction, all it all being peaceful, exciting, releasing, insightful, creative, and a surreal good time. A good burn.

Followed not a week later I headed to Colorado to visit a number of friends living all around the Denver area, starting with participating in Tough Mudder (my second), of up and down and around and through and under and swinging and hanging and wet and mud and teamwork. I completed the course again (hooray!), with the humorous fortune of being described as “sleek, and aerodynamic” by the MC just before Electroshock Therapy. That became the the joke du jour for the first part of my trip, along with an unrelated “Colorado Style” accompanied by vigorous triumphant arm motions. The Mudder was a lot of fun! I also did some foam sword/weapon sparring (hehe!), visited the animal sanctuary (awwwww), tried out some parkour (which was also fun!), visited the Denver Art Museum (second museum designed by Libeskind I’ve been in; on the whole I think it’s slightly more successful than the ROM as it has more interesting spatial usage), visited the Botanic Gardens for an exhibit by Chihuly (pretty!), went to the Rocky Mountain National Park (mmmmmountains!) and saw elk bugling (very cool), ate much some delicious food, and above all else loved spending so much time with friends and good company in great conversations, explorations, and amusements.

I love being active with crazy cool stuff in my vacations!

Once back I caught up on some stuff here, including the (re)start of a new D&D campaign, enjoyed a visit by my parents for a week, catching up on lots of work stuff (we’re still quite busy), publishing the latest issue of Aurora Magazine, and getting my head back around the various projects I want to do.

Last quarter of the year… I bet I can make it as exciting and fulfilling as this past quarter was.