There’s No Such Thing As a Tax-Free Free Lunch*

You are not allowed to simultaneously complain about property taxes, the condition of the roads, the availability and cost of parking, and the cost of parking tickets.

Look, people, that whole “no free lunch” thing? It applies to government services, too. The only difference is that we pay for a lot of government services through taxes, rather than direct payments or fees. And if not one, then the other. So, if you like well-maintained, regularly swept and plowed, well-constructed roads, you need to pay for them. They aren’t going to build and maintain themselves. Continue reading

Now, Soon, Forever

As anyone who has lived with a cat knows, they sometimes understand time much as we do, but other times their perception of time is baffling. After extensive observation, I believe I finally understand the perception of time by felis catus.

For the average domestic cat, a very few events are set: dawn, dusk, in some cases mealtime. Stanley is about 90% consistent now on waking me up 0-10 minutes before breakfast time, for example. But, for the vast majority of events, cats rely on a scale of time that is significantly different than most humans’.

Now: Much like the human concept, but with less tolerance for delays. “Now” does not mean “as soon as you put your shoes on”–it means instantly, and any delay is unacceptable, because it is no longer “now”.

Soon: This is a loose translation—the wordier but more-accurate term would be “as soon as I’m done with this”. This is a very flexible unit of time by human standards. It means whenever the cat is done with whatever it is currently doing, and thus ranges from [in human terms] a minute or less (when using the litterbox) through a few minutes (when eating dinner) to several hours (when sleeping). But from a cat’s point of view, these are all the same unit of time.

Forever: Any unit of time greater than “soon” and still today is approximately forever from a cat’s perspective. An hour until dinnertime? Forever. Waiting 3 minutes to go outside? Forever. You’re gone at work for 9 hours? Forever.

Forever and Ever: Longer than “forever,” up to and including some time tomorrow.

Any unit of time longer than a day, or any event further away in time than tomorrow, is literally incomprehensible to the vast majority of cats, so they have no term for it. For them, units of time beyond “forever and ever” are simply meaningless–the proverbial third dimension for a flatlander.

Red Riding Hood Isn’t That Bad

We went to see Red Riding Hood last night. It’s really not anywhere near as bad as reviews–or the Tomatometer–would make you think. In fact, most of it was great fun. Oh, no art here–but the acting was actually pretty decent and the story mostly struck a good balance between cliche and surprise. However, to explain both what was good about it and, crucially, where they totally f’ed up, is gonna involve spoilers. I’ll try to keep it to a minimum, but it will give some things away. You have been warned.
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Dreamthieves, Take 2 (part 1)

A couple weeks ago at Con of the North I ran another playtest of Dreamthieves, a Dread scenario I first ran a couple months ago. Inspired by someone’s description of an Inception-inspired Dread game at Gen Con last year, I set out to see what it would take to make the two work together. I first ran the game a few months ago at a local game day, but with only 3 players (only one of which knew anything about Dread before then) and a shortage of time, it was really hard to tell whether or not it would work. This time, I had 5 players, 4 of whom had played Dread multiple times before, plenty of time, and some ideas from the 1st run-through. We also were able to discuss the game afterwards, so I could get some feedback this time.

In summary: It was awesome! It was also slightly broken. And I think I may be inventing a Dread variant, rather than just another scenario.
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Dear Mr. President:

During the campaign, you said you would literally stand—or walk—with workers if their rights were jeopardized. Corporations, with the collusion of politicians, have been nibbling away at the ability of the average American to even survive, much less thrive, for decades. And now Republicans across the country have decided to stop nibbling around the edges and attack the very concept of workers having any say whatsoever in their lives. Where are you? I don’t expect you to walk a picket line, but I do expect you to make a proud, unequivocal statement of support. I expect you to stand with the likes of Kucinich and Feingold and the late Wellstone and say “corporations are not valuable in and of themselves; they are merely a means to an end. That end is making goods, providing services, and providing a living for their employees, the people that make up this country. ”

You are already taking the blame for siding with the workers; nothing you can do will earn greater conservative support or lessen GOP criticism. So, do what you will be tarred with anyway and stand with the workers, loudly and clearly. Earn the support of the working people of this country — who are, after all, 80+% of the populace.

By taking a public stance against corporate influence, you can reshape this debate, and remind people that public and private workers aren’t enemies, but allies in the struggle to take our country back.

Please show us that Democrats really are different than Republicans.