Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Ron Glass Story

With the passing of Ron Glass, many people have different reasons for remembering him. Like many people my age, I was primarily familiar with him through his portrayal of Shepard Book on Firefly.

However, the world is always smaller than we realize. As a result, I have a story to share about the man. A story from his younger days, before I was born. I should probably explain:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Internet Arguments: The Pence/Hamilton Thing

I have a bad habit of getting into arguments with people online. I would say I spend too much time on it... but I'm not sure that's true. The alternative is to avoid engaging with people, which seems like the sort of action that perpetuates this culture in which our views and the views of others are never challenged. We will likely never understand each other so long as we never make the effort to do so.

So, I get into Internet arguments. They're not always productive, and I don't think they result in changed minds per se. However, I don't mind making the effort to humanize my ideas and to at least attempt to understand where people are coming from.

However, if I'm going to spend a bunch of time writing like that, I should probably get some use out of it. Otherwise, all that work will simply fade away, banished to wherever it is that old Facebook posts go.

So, here's a discussion I had with some folks in response to a post my aunt made on Facebook. Unedited except for names, though I don't think the discussion is private, so theoretically anybody can find this discussion if they look for it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Still Improving My Videos

My most recent video is up, the first real episode of my Constitution Series. It's incorporating a lot of the stuff I've learned in the past few months, and I think it's on the verge of being respectable.

That said, I still have a lot to improve upon, some of which I figure will come with practice, some of which I'm already planning to fix. This post is about some of those ways I'm planning to improve.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Odd Bard Instruments

Many a conversation starts with Laura lying on the couch and telling me about things she's reading on Tumblr. (I don't do Tumblr personally--Facebook and Twitter already eat up enough of my time.)

Today, she was telling me about a Tumblr post that included a strange list of possible instruments found in the Complete Bard's Handbook from 2nd Edition D&D. The list of instruments is pretty comprehensive, from drums and flutes to citterns and sistrums. Laura seemed doubtful that some of these instruments would be terribly inspiring or practical during battle. After all, while a pipe organ might sound incredible, it's not exactly easy to carry onto the battlefield. And then there are one-note instruments like gongs and castanets--not exactly ballad material.

These possibilities had me intrigued, though. While I can't really comment on the instruments I've never heard of (a hurdy gurdy sounds fascinating in theory...), I immediately had some ideas about some of the more familiar instruments.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Brock Turner Problem

Recently I've seen stories about how there are armed protesters in Brock Turner's neighborhood. They seem to be there with the intent of intimidating him, of making sure he knows that the public has not forgotten what he's done. Which seems fine on the surface, since neither he nor the public should forget. However, the presence of prominently displayed weaponry in the protests is chilling. And the way people seem to be sharing the story with such glee is even more chilling. Here's why:

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dealing in Fear, Dealing in Hope

Fear is a powerful emotion. It can drive people to do many things, and the ability to instill fear into people's hearts is one of the more effective paths to power over those people. It's the calling card of many a movie or comic book villain, from Emperor Palpatine to Sinestro.

Sadly, fear isn't exclusive to the realms of fiction. Fear is a powerful force right now, in this year's presidential election. It's a tool being used by both sides of the conflict, to varying degrees of success.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Trans-Pacific Partnership Part 1: Preamble


The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed agreement between 12 countries along the Pacific rim: The United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Australia, Peru, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore.

The preamble of the TPP lays outs the goals of the deal between those countries, which is mostly reflected by the pro-TPP statements on the front page of the United States Trade Representative's TPP website. The preamble doesn't really get into the details of the deal, so there isn't a lot to unpack.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Part 0: Public Perception

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a hot-button issue right now. Our current sitting president, Barack Obama, supports the deal, while both of our presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, oppose it. Clinton in particular has waffled on the deal, finally turning against it in part due to Bernie Sanders' influence on the Democratic platform, as he was particularly opposed to the deal. The final decision on the deal rests with Congress, but while it's not clear where Congress is leaning on it, it is clear that our next president will influence the deal's fate.

I'm intensely curious as to how a deal like this can be equally abhorrent to the thoroughly capitalist Donald Trump and the socialist Bernie Sanders. So, to cut through the rhetoric, I've decided to actually read the deal. Let's try to understand what, exactly, this deal is about.

Today I'll start by exploring the rhetoric surrounding the deal; arguments for and against the deal. Then, I'll start exploring the text itself.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Revised Amendment XXVIII

After discussing it with a friend, it became obvious that there was a problem with the run-off method in my proposed amendment: basically, that getting people to go out and vote a second time in the case of a run-off would be difficult for many people. So, instead, there needed to be some way to have that run-off election without having an entire second Election Day.

I've edited the amendment to reflect a better system:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why I'm Running for President

I don't want to run for President. I don't want to be President.

Yet, strangely, these are the thoughts that made me decide to run for President. These are the thoughts that have been driving me toward my 2020 run for the past 12 years.

Monday, July 18, 2016


I would like to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution:

The President shall, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows:

All eligible voters within the Unites States, its Territories, and all its Possessions, may vote by ballot. They shall name in their ballots the person they select for President and who they select for Vice President, and the choice for President and Vice President shall be distinct. The Person with the greatest number of votes for President, shall be President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of votes counted; And, if no person has such a majority, then another election shall take place within 30 days, this election featuring only the two People with the highest number of votes for President from the initial election; and the Person with the most votes for President from this second election shall become President. The Person with the greatest number of votes for Vice President, shall be Vice President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of votes counted; And, if no person has such a majority, then another election shall take place within 30 days, this election featuring only the two People with the highest number of votes for Vice President from the initial election; and the Person with the most votes for Vice President from this second election shall become Vice President. If both the President and Vice President require a second election, the second election for the Vice President shall be held on the same day as the second election for the President.
Please allow me to explain what this amendment would do and why it's important:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Politician Stigma

Recently I read a sentence that said, "you've probably dreamed of becoming a model, athlete, or worst of all, a politician."

This got me thinking about how we perceive politicians. By no means is the author alone in their disgust with that particular profession. Few professions are more reviled, whether for being corrupt, inept, unbending, and/or oblivious. These things are all bad on their own, but these faults (real or imagined) are magnified by the fact that these are the people in power in this country.

However, I have a theory that this revulsion toward politics as a profession may be a part of the problem; that the politicians we have are a product of the reputation we lay upon them.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Campaign Setting

The scientists loved to speculate about the nature of the universe. They measured it, saw that it was expanding, and figured it would just keep on expanding forever.

They were wrong about that.

It's only been about a thousand years since the universe started contracting. It's weird being on this side of eternity, knowing our universe's days are numbered. Even though it's a long way away, even though each generation knows that the end won't come in their lifetime, we're all taught the important dates: the year and time that the universe will cease to be, of course, but also, more importantly, the moment Earth will cease to be. We won't even see it coming. The stars will look exactly the same, they say. And then: Nothing. Our planet will cease to be.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

D&D as a Player

For the second time in my life, a player from my own D&D campaign is planning a campaign of their own, and I'm likely to be a player in that campaign. It worked out pretty well the last time this happened, and I have some vivid memories of the my friend Aaron's Valendia campaign. To this day, it is the only D&D campaign I've been in from start to finish. Hopefully, the new campaign is even half so successful.

Either way, though, I'm excited at the prospect of being a player again. Playing Dungeons and Dragons with a good group is one of my greatest pleasures, and one I don't often get to enjoy anymore.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"You're Watching the Wrong News"

I try not to argue of Facebook. It's not what I would consider an enjoyable activity. However, with the election getting ever closer, more and more political stuff is showing up in my feed, and sometimes, against my better judgment, I feel the need to respond. This response pulls me into a war that I frankly don't have time to fight, and I generally try to extricate myself as gracefully and quickly as possible.

In one of these recent debates, I was told that I don't "watch the right news," and that I need to get "all of the facts," as if more facts will make me suddenly think people (especially black people) shouldn't be upset over the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Still, this criticism got me thinking about where I get my news and when I choose to act upon it.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

How It Should Be

Police killed more civilians this week.

What happened? How many more times will it happen, how frequently, before people lose all trust in their police force?

I'm not going to condemn all police officers here. The policemen who did these things don't represent all police officers. The brave officers who lost their lives while protecting peaceful protesters in Dallas this week are a testament to that fact. However, every time something like this happens, I can't help but wrack my brain trying to figure out what could be different, what we'd need to change, to stop this from happening. This is not how it should be.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

On the Issues: The Costs of Trade


Reflections on the Declaration of Independence (American Revolution vs. Civil War)

Today is the 240th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. And, while many Americans are out celebrating this national holiday with feasts and fireworks, I find myself considering the document this holiday is meant to celebrate. For the past few months I've found myself obsessed with the American Revolution, and after reflecting on the birth of our nation for so long, I find this day holds much deeper meaning to me than it did before.

So, I'm going to reflect on the Declaration of Independence a bit tonight. Perhaps you should, too. You can read a transcript at the National Archives website.

In fact, I may do this every Independence Day from now on. There are many things to consider when reading the Declaration of Independence: the concept of nations, human rights, justified rebellion, the meaning of freedom, and the power of language to convey these ideas, for instance. Today in particular I'm thinking about the way this document justified the secession of the states from Great Britain.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Green Party vs. Libertarian Party

As the Democrats and Republicans vie for the top spot among American political parties, there are several other political parties, collectively called "third" parties, presumably because, frankly, they'll never be first or second. The two most prominent of these third parties are, I believe, the Libertarian Party and the Green Party.

I'm not a big fan of party politics, but these two parties and their tactics are kind of fascinating to me, in the same way it's fascinating to watch a bug struggling in vain to escape a spider's web. The Green and Libertarian parties seem to primarily be mostly-ineffective spoilers to the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively (with the notable exception of Ralph Nader in Florida in the 2000 election), but I don't think they have to be.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Skipping the Line

I don't know many passionate Hillary supporters. For the most part, she continues to be favored not for who she is but who she isn't in this election. Which certainly isn't ideal for the Democrats, though they'll certainly take it.

However, some rather forceful anti-Bernie rhetoric would sometimes cross my Twitter feed. Some of the criticisms were fair (his plans aren't necessarily realistic, his temperament may not be suitable for a head of state) and some were mostly just blanket insults aimed at his supporters which, frankly, aren't doing any favors for the Democrats' image. (Pro tip: insulting your new members isn't exactly the best way to retain those new members.)

One complaint about Bernie in particular popped up time and again, and still does; a complaint that frustrates me to no end. That complaint, more than any other, eliminates any faith I may have had in the Democratic Party. A complaint lobbed, usually, from Democratic loyalists and insiders that, basically, ensures that I will never want to be a part of that institution.

Time and again, I heard the criticism that Bernie "skipped the line."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Video Projects - Good News, Bad News

I haven't been posting any blog posts lately other than the video transcripts. This is pretty unfortunate, as I have a list of things I've been meaning to write about, and the best way to get out of the habit of writing is to not write for a while.

The video projects have been taking up a good deal of my time. That, in addition to my recent trip, has kept me from writing daily as usual. I'm determined to return to this blog, though. And, after spending the past couple of weeks getting my sea legs as far as these video go, I think I have a plan that will allow me to get back to writing regularly.

That plan involves good news and bad news for my video projects.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Charlie on the Issues Episode 1 Transcript

Today I released my first ever video, kicking of my Charlie on the Issues series. On video release days I'll be posting the transcript of that video in lieu of a regular blog post. Here's hoping I can work out my schedule so that I actually still write and post regular blog posts on non-video days, heh.

Anyway, my video:

Friday, June 10, 2016

Hillary Has My Vote

I have some reservations about Hillary Clinton, which I've discussed previously. In short, it's partly because she's been so far removed from the the reality of normal Americans for decades (even before she was First Lady), and partly because of my frustration with the two-party system, which she embodies fully.

That said, I have no reservations about voting for her this election. Here's why.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Skilled Labor

Having explored the value of unskilled labor, the question must be asked: what of skilled labor? What of the educated, the talented, and the innovative who find work plying their trade? It's all well and good to value the labors of those whose jobs are manual, tedious, and repetitive, but shouldn't the skilled workers be valued even more?

It's a fair question, and a necessary one in this capitalist society, in which value is measured by its price tag.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Unskilled Labor

I work at Fangamer, and until fairly recently the entire company was paid the same wage. From the CEO to the mailroom worker, we were all equally scrapping by, surviving by the good grace of Tucson's low cost of living.

A while back things changed a bit after we took on some fairly lucrative jobs. We're not wealthy, but we're much better off than we used to be. And as our wages rose, we finally stopped with the equal pay deal. We were to be paid according to several factors: seniority, education, teamwork, efficiency, and so on. In short, some people were to be paid more than others.

There was a concept that entered the conversation at that point. Well, that's not quite true; the concept was introduced long before, though the rule of equal pay stood fast against the idea. But when a difference in pay was introduced, the question would finally be considered:

Should we pay unskilled laborers less than skilled workers?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Choosing the Right Politician

There certainly isn't any single metric people use to select their politicians. People have used everything from years of experience and ethical effectiveness to "I feel like I could have a beer with him."

Today I'm going to share my ideal basis for choosing a politician. Hint: it's not just "I agree with them about a lot of things." That sometimes happens, but not always.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

In Defense of Politicians

The definition of a politician according to Merriam-Webster:

Politician, noun
1. a person experienced in the art or science of government; especially :  one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government
2a. a person engaged in party politics as a profession 
2b. a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually short-sighted reasons

It's rare to hear the word "politician" spoken without an accompanying sneer and obvious disgust at the concept. However, today I'm going to defend their existence and explain why I wouldn't mind having more of them.

Friday, June 3, 2016

My Video Project

I've been toying with the idea of a video project for a while, and this past weekend I took steps to make it a reality.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Gems Aren't Gay (Steven Universe)

I'm a big fan of Steven Universe. It's a really solid cartoon with lovable characters, a fun story, and some really solid themes about building strong relationships. The show depicts all sorts of relationships; some strong, some fragile. Some of the most talked about are the relationship between Pearl and Rose Quartz and the relationship between Ruby and Sapphire.

It's those relationships and the concept of a young boy being raised by a several women that gives the impression of the gems being a bunch of lesbians. I posit that they are not.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Constitution Series Part 37: Signatures (Pennsylvania, continued)

This time we're covering the final four signatures of the Constitution. As such, this will be the final part of the Constitution Series--at least, for the original document.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Constitution Series Part 36: Signatures (Pennsylvania)

Since the Constitutional Convention took place in Philadelphia, naturally a bunch of Pennsylvanians had no trouble attending. They had eight delegates, all of whom signed the Constitution. With so many delegates you might think Pennsylvania had a disproportionate voice in the proceedings, and certainly having that many delegates gave them more people who could voice their opinions. However, when it came time to actually vote and make decisions, remember that all of these delegates amounted to a single vote to represent Pennsylvania as a whole. So, in a sense the two delegates from Massachusetts each had a proportionately larger voice in the voting than the Pennsylvanians did.

Anyway, eight delegates is too much for one post. Pennsylvania gets a disproportionate number of blog posts, at least.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Constitution Series Part 35: Signatures (New Jersey)

New Jersey is one of the few states whose delegates were all in support of the Constitution to some degree. Only one of their delegates didn't sign the Constitution, but he has a pretty good excuse.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Constitution Series Part 34: Signatures (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York)

My favorite thing about researching these Founding Fathers is finding their coolest moments, like when John Langdon helped a slave escape the Washingtons or when Hugh Williamson showed up in London and defended the actions of the colonists so well he became friends with Benjamin Franklin. I'm hoping to find cool stories about as many of the signers as possible.

Today I'll be covering three states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, each of which features at least one delegate with a cool story to tell.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Constitution Series Part 33: Signatures (Georgia, New Hampshire)

Today we're going to cover the representatives from two states: Georgia and New Hampshire, the northernmost and southernmost of the original 13 colonies. Er, not counting Maine, which was still part of Massachusetts at the time.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Constitution Series Part 32: Signatures (South Carolina)

All four of the South Carolina delegates ended up signing the Constitution, and each one was active and influential in not only the debates but in the country afterward.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Constitution Series Part 30: Signatures (Virginia)

Let's continue exploring the lives of the people who signed the Constitution! Today we're tackling Virginia, the most populous state at the time of the Constitutional Convention, which curiously only had two delegates sign the Constitution, not including George Washington...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Constitution Series Part 29: Signatures (Maryland)

Let's continue exploring the lives of the people who signed the Constitution! Today we're tackling Maryland.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Constitution Series Part 28: Article VII and Signatures (President, Delaware)

With the structure and powers of the government established, as well as a way to edit this Constitution, there's just one more thing to do: establish how this Constitution will be adopted by the states.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Constitution Series Part 27: Article VI

I'm going to refer to Article VI as a "typing up loose ends" article. Not to say there isn't some important stuff in here (it's all pretty important), but these are notes that didn't seem to fit into the rest of the articles, which is why I imagine they're lumped here.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Constitution Series Part 26: Article V

Today, we'll see how we can edit the Constitution to add to or change it. After all, though it's a fascinating document and the basis for a pretty good government, all things considered, it's also flawed; incomplete in some ways, and poorly thought out in others. So, rather than starting over, we can simply amend it.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Constitution Series Part 25: Article IV, Sections 3 and 4


Section 3
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Constitution Series Part 24: Article IV, Sections 1 and 2

With the major stuff out of the way, only a few details remain before we can put a pin in this document that details what constitutes our government. The biggest detail (and, therefore, the biggest article of what remains) is about the relationship between the states and the federal government, and the relationship between the states and themselves.

As a reminder, when I quote the Constitution in these posts I'm quoting from the transcript of the Constitution at the Federal Archives website.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Constitution Series Part 22: Article III, Section 2, Clauses 2 and 3

The first clause of Section 2 listed the cases that federal courts were designed to handle. As I noted, the vast majority of federal cases are handled by the district and appellate courts, and only a few actually reach the Supreme Court.

The remaining clauses of Section 2 clarify which cases go directly to the Supreme Court (spoiler: almost none) and where juries figure into all of this.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Constitution Series Part 21: Article III, Section 2, Clause 1

The first three articles share a natural pattern: first, they establish a branch of the government. Then, they organize the powers and limitations of that branch, detailing their unique functions and how they interact with the other branches.

Today, we start digging into the powers of the judicial branch, digging deep into the workings of a branch of our government one last time. It's fairly dense, so this process may take a few posts.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Constitution Series Part 20: Article III, Section 1

Article III establishes the federal court system, the third and final branch of the United States government. Each branch is separate and more or less independent from each other, each serving a vital function. Congress is re-elected frequently, representing the various peoples of the country to create laws and control the budget. The President controls the military and foreign relations while enforcing the nation's laws.

Let's see where the Supreme Court falls in this dynamic.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Constitution Series Part 19: Article II, Sections 3 and 4

Starting now, we're going to be breezing through sections and, eventually, whole articles of the Constitution with each post. With much of the framework of the country laid down in Article I and the bulk of the President's processes and powers laid out in Sections 1 and 2, the Constitution will begin handling the rest of its details with impressive brevity.

That's not to say the remaining parts are any less dense than what we've seen already, though. I'm preparing to spend quite a bit of time on two relatively short paragraphs today, after all.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Constitution Series Part 18: Article II, Section 2, Clauses 2 and 3

By far the most common accusation lobbed at any given President is that what they're doing is "unconstitutional." I've tried to offer a multi-faceted view of the Constitution so far, and given certain interpretations of the Constitution many such claims have some substance to their argument. It's often the very definition of debatable due to the interpretive nature of the document.

However, the powers listed in this section are theoretically not debatable. (Well, that's not strictly true, as well see, but anyway) These are the explicit powers of a President granted by the Constitution. There's still some room for interpretation here, but simply put, these powers are literally Constitutional.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Constitution Series Part 17: Article II, Section 2, Clause 1

In Section 1 we established the office of the President and went over how to elect one. But what does a President do? There are two basic schools of thought on this: the first is that a President gets all of the powers implied by an executive office, as established in Section 1. The other is that a President is only allowed to do that which he is explicitly allowed to do as laid out in the Constitution and as granted by Congress.

Historically, Presidents have acted mostly under the former assumption, with implicit powers as an executive. In Section 2, however, we're going to go over the President's explicit powers.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Constitution Series Part 16: Article II, Section 1, Clauses 5 through 8

Today we'll finish Section 1 of Article II, which mostly details the process by which a President is elected. Honestly, the fact that this process has remained more or less unchanged for the past two centuries is pretty incredible. Our Constitution is ridiculously scale-able.

Constitution Series Part 15: Article II, Section 1, Clauses 1 through 4

Article II of the Constitution of the United States established the office of the president. Article II, Section 1 is the longest section in the Constitution, with a higher word count than Article I, Section 8. However, despite its length, it's not nearly as dense as Section 8, so don't worry--it won't take five different posts to get through.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Constitution Series Part 14: Article I, Section 10

Article I of the United States Constitution is ostensibly about Congress, but in fact it touches on every branch of the government, as well as governments below the national level. It's due to this scope and laying down the foundations of what's to be expected of our government as a whole that Article I takes up approximately 50% of the entire Constitution. The rest just kind of builds upon the groundwork laid by Article I.

Section 10 in particular focuses on limitations placed upon the states. Some are absolute limitations, while others require Congressional approval to circumvent. I assume it's these Congressional consent clauses that make these limitations appropriate for Article I.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Constitution Series Part 13: Article I, Section 9, Clauses 6 through 8

Of the eight clauses of Section 9, only three seem really necessary to me: clauses 2, 3, and 7, which we'll be getting to today.

Clause 1 is a weird and uncomfortable reminder of our nation's past, but I understand it and I appreciate this reminder of how far we've come from where we started.

Clauses 4 and 5 are about taxation, and it's hard to say how vital these clauses were. Each one has some benefits and some drawbacks from an economic standpoint.

Clauses 6 and 8 each annoy me somewhat, for very different reasons. I'll be discussing them today!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Constitution Series Part 12: Article I, Section 9, Clauses 3 to 5

In continuing our exploration of the limitations placed on Congress by the Constitution, heads up that we're about to run head-first into some jargon. I'll do my best to explain it, but I'm no lawyer, so if you see me trying to explain something incorrectly, please correct me!

Constitution Series Part 11: Article I, Section 9, Clauses 1 and 2

After Section 8 detailed all of the things Congress is explicitly allowed to do, naturally what follows is a list of what Congress is explicitly not allowed to do. You might consider this a sort of first-round Bill of Rights, though as you'll see it's kind of weird what limitations were determined to be more important than, say, freedom of speech.

Before I go into these limitations, though, I feel the need to point out that there is a void between Section 8 and Section 9, a space between the explicit rights and limitations of Congress that's filled with implicit rights and limitations that seem to contradict each other. Section 8 reads like a list of powers, but some read them as limitations; as if those are the only things Congress is allowed to do. Likewise, you can read Section 9 (and, by extension, the Bill of Rights) as a definition of Congress's rights; these are the things they definitely can't do, but everything else is fair game!

The thing is, it can only be one or the other. Is Section 8 a list of limitations, or is Section 9 defining Congress's rights? The fact that both sections exist makes it kind of confusing. In the early days they seemed to take the "Section 8 as limitations" route, while lately it seems we're more inclined toward the "Section 9 defines rights" route. What do you think?

Consider that as we go through these limitations and, later, the Bill of Rights.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Constitution Series Part 10: Article I, Section 8, Clauses 17 and 18

Time to finish off Section 8! Finally. The only other clause this long is Article II, Section 1. So, look forward to that.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Constitution Series Part 9: Article I, Section 8, Clauses 11 through 16

As a reminder, you can read the Constitution yourself at the National Archives website. When I quote the Constitution in this series, I'm quoting from there.

Anyway, today we're going to explore Congress's powers regarding war and the military!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Constitution Series Part 7: Article I, Section 8, Clauses 4 and 5


Section 8

As a reminder, we're going through the powers being explicitly granted to Congress. We've already gone through the first three, so we're starting with the fourth clause in this section.
[The Congress shall have Power] To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
Well, these seem like fairly unrelated powers. Why were they listed together?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Constitution Series Part 6: Article I, Section 8, Clauses 1 to 3

Do you want to know what, exactly, Congress is allowed to make laws about? They can't simply make laws about whatever they want, after all. The Bill of Rights will detail the things that Congress is expressly not allowed to make laws about, but here we'll see what Congress is explicitly allowed to do:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Constitution Series Part 5: Article I, Section 6 and 7

Let's slide right into this by detailing the perks of being a member of Congress, besides the whole "shaping our country" thing:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Constitution Series Part 4: Article I, Sections 4 and 5

With the composition and election procedures of the House and the Senate established, let's get into figuring out what, exactly, these people are supposed to be spending their time doing!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Constitution Series Part 3: Article I, Section 3

With the House of Representatives established, we're moving on to the Senate. The makeup of the Senate and the House were the result of a compromise between the populous states and the smaller states. Smaller states wanted each state to have equal representation in Congress, while larger states supported proportionate representation. In the end, we got both: proportionate representation in the House and equal representation in the Senate.

The Senate was designed to be the "higher" house, populated by the country's "elites." Social classes were very much still a thing at the time (and you might say it still is), and while it was all well and good to populate the House of Representatives with riffraff, the Senate was supposed to be populated with only the well-to-do, much like the British House of Lords.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Constitution Series Part 2: Article I, Sections 1 and 2

By far the longest section of the Constitution is Article I, which details the creation and powers of the nation's legislative branch. Congress was supposed to be the most powerful branch of the government since it's the most democratic and the least likely to generate a despot. As such, it was the first thing addressed in our Constitution, and it got the most ink.

Even so, it's by no means a novel. The description had to be fairly straightforward so that the states would actually read and comprehend it, so it's as lean as it can be while still being pretty dense. There are 10 sections total in Article I, so let's see how many we can get through today.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Constitution Series Part 1: The Preamble

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Thus begins the Constitution of the United States of America. The first few words of the Preamble are some of the most famous words in the history of our country. You remember these words. Every phrase has meaning. It's not like the Declaration of Independence, which rambles on for the first paragraph before getting to the good parts; the Constitution makes it immediately clear who's talking and what they're talking about.

The Constitution isn't a terribly long document. It's very dense, though. Every word said and unsaid speaks volumes. In this series, I intend to go through the Constitution section by section and unpack each one to the best of my ability. I'll be quoting the text directly from the National Archives for accuracy.

Understanding our Constitution is a key part of understanding our country. Every word was carefully considered, starting with the Preamble.

The Creation of the Constitution of the United States of America

In school, we're never really forced to read the U.S. Constitution. We're told it's a beautiful document, and it's explained that it basically breaks down our three branches of government, but we're never expected to actually read the thing. It's like the Bible: you're supposed to understand the gist and have a few passages memorized, but reading it from cover to cover is only for scholars and masochists. And most of us are only familiar with the very beginning ("We the people..." and Genesis) and the earlier bits of the more popular second acts (the Bill of Rights and the gospel of the New Testament).

That said, I'd like to analyze the Constitution further. I studied constitutional law in college for a while, and I can confirm that it's an interesting piece of work.

But before I start reciting the preamble, I'd like to talk about how the document was created in the first place.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why Write?

I'm not really interested in writing about writing very much. I don't have a degree in English, so I'm not sure I have the vocabulary for talking about processes, purpose, or technique.

However, today I listened to the song "Non-Stop" from Hamilton, and the refrain from that song begged the question:

"Why do you write like you're running out of time?"

"Why do you write like it's going out of style?"

The song's been stuck in my head ever since, especially that phrase. And it's hard to have a question rattling around in your head without thinking of an answer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What, Exactly, Qualifies Me to Become President?

Being President of the United States is a fairly important job. Clearly running for that office should require some pretty impressive qualifications.

I don't have those. But I'll be running anyway, and here's why:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fire Emblem Matchmaker: Birthright Edition

I've been playing Fire Emblem: Birthright in my spare (and not-so-spare) time, and a while back I got to the point where I had most of the first group of characters that could matched up and married to each other. In order to match people up properly, though, I had to get every potential pair's support level to A in order to view their support conversations and make informed decisions about who best matched up with who.

After hours and hours of grinding, I finally watched all of those conversations and set about pairing people up. So here, for your pleasure, I present each pairing I made along with their reasoning. Feel free to compare and contrast with your own pairings, and by all means let me know all the reasons my choices were blasphemous.

Monday, March 28, 2016

George McGovern

Several times over the course of this election cycle I've heard people, particularly Democrats, explain their reservations about Bernie Sanders by comparing him to George McGovern, the Democratic candidate from the race in 1972.

The presidential election of 1972 is a fascinating case study. It was an election with high emotional investment and high stakes, and it resulted in a spectacular defeat for the Democrats. I do think that election cycle has several parallels to the current election, but I don't think those parallels necessarily lie where these Democrats claim they do.

So, in today's post, I'm going to discuss a presidential election that happened 13 years before I was born and draw what parallels I can between that election and the current one.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Only Yesterday

Today I went to see a Studio Ghibli movie called "Only Yesterday." Apparently the movie was originally released in Japan in 1991, and was only recently dubbed due to the rights being held by Disney. Menstruation is a major part of a whole segment of the movie, and I suppose Disney wasn't down with that. The rights passed to another company a while back, though, so the movie finally got dubbed and released in the United States this year.

The movie is about a woman at a turning point in her life, who suddenly finds herself reliving memories of herself in the fifth grade. The movie switches back and forth between her present and her past in a way that feels almost disjointed, to be honest. Still, this look into the life of a normal young girl in Japan in the 60's was pretty cute and charming, though at some point my attention started to waiver. It's a slice of life movie, so if you plan on watching it, understand that it's going to be fairly slow-paced.

I think we all sometimes find ourselves dwelling on moments in our pasts, much like the main character in the film. Reflecting on the movie now mostly results in me reflecting on my own childhood. There isn't too much else to say about the film, so instead I'll see if I can conjure up some of my own grade-school memories; things I personally remember as if they were only yesterday.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Camp Videogamely

Last year, here in Tucson, Arizona, I helped run a convention quite unlike any other convention before it. It was part gaming convention, part talk show, part alternate reality experience, part concert, and part summer camp.

We're doing something like it again this year, hopefully. We're kickstarting it, so whether or not it happens depends on if the project gets funded.

Today I'm going to talk briefly about why you, the person reading this, should attend this convention.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Generating Electricity

The world runs on electricity. It's a fact of life for most of civilization today, so I'd like to talk about how it's produced, the pros and cons of different generation methods, as well as exciting technologies you should probably know about.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Math of My Life

I just asked Twitter what I should write about, offering to dedicate at least an hour of my life to writing a blog about any good topic suggestions. The offer was significant, and I did the math to explain why.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hamilton (The Musical)

The newest hit Broadway sensation is a production called Hamilton, presenting a musical interpretation of the life and times of one of America's founding fathers: Alexander Hamilton.

I've never seen a Broadway musical in person (maybe someday~), but I did listen to the cast recording. Short review: it's excellent. Who knew that writing a musical about the one the most interesting figures from one of the most interesting moments in history would turn out well?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Foreign Policy

Earlier today, several presidential candidates met with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at their annual policy conference. The gist of their speeches amounted to this: we are there for Israel, no matter what.

This got me thinking about my own foreign policy. Foreign relations is an important part of being president, perhaps even the most important part. I've been studying our involvement with other countries for a long time now, and I'm not sure my approach would be the most popular.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Metaphors to Demonstrate Understanding

Metaphors and similes are powerful tools. They're like drawing a diagram to illustrate your understanding of a concept, but using words instead of visuals. The two previous sentences were a metaphor and a simile, respectively.

I find myself using them a lot. Note that in the rest of this article I'll be talking a lot about metaphors, but assume in each case I'm referring to similes as well.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hawaii: The Island of Hawai'i (Final Day)

Our last day on the Big Island was mostly spent doing a few final things in the Hilo area, mostly so we wouldn't be too far away when the time came to return to the airport and begin our strip back. Our plane left at 10:45pm, I believe, for an overnight flight back to the mainland.

So, we killed time around town. There was plenty to do.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hawaii: The Island of Hawai'i (Second Day)

Having spent the first day on the Big Island traveling all around the thing, the following couple of days were spent focusing on a few key destinations: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Hilo Farmer's Market, and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. We basically spent our entire second day just exploring the national park.

Hawaii: The Island of Hawai'i (First Day)

Hawaii consists of eight islands, seven of which are inhabited, and only six of which are publicly accessible. Of those six islands, Laura and I only visited two on our trip: Oahu, the densely-populated home of the state capital, and the island of Hawai'i, often simply called "the Big Island" in order to prevent getting the island and the state confused.

The Big Island is, of course, the biggest island, and it's far less densely populated than most of the other islands. Personally, I liked it a lot more than the crowded streets and manufactured paradise of Oahu. There was a lot more that I could personally connect with there.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hawaii: The Island of Oahu

Laura and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. I had never been there before, but I've wanted to visit since I was little. At some point, though, the prospect of someday visiting Hawaii started seeming like a more and more distant dream, until eventually I just stopped thinking about it completely.

But here I am: an adult who can now (barely) afford to visit one of the coolest states in the nation. I'm pretty sure that at some point as a kid I specifically said that I wanted to go to Hawaii on my honeymoon, and it's kinda weird to think that actually happened.

Our trip to Hawaii can be pretty cleanly broken up into two halves: the time we spent on Oahu, and the time we spent on the Big Island. Today I'm going to recount our experience on Oahu:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Campaign Strategy, Version 1

With politics dominating the news and social media feeds, I can't help but think about my own upcoming campaign for the presidency.

It's never too early to start planning, but it's currently too early to actually launch the campaign. So instead I'll just give a rough outline of my current strategy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Wedding Reception

Laura and I had a very small wedding, so we wanted to balance it out with a bigger, funner reception. We wanted to get married on February 29, though, which was a Monday this year. Since many of our friends and family would have to travel here from out of town for the celebration, Monday did not seem like a good day for the reception. So, instead, we moved the reception back to the next weekend.

Laura and I are both pretty non-traditional, so the reception was really just a big party. Specifically, it was an outdoor barbecue at a grove run by a local dude ranch/resort. It was a really good time, and I'd like to recount as much as I can for posterity.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Don't Write While On Vacation

A few days ago, while I was on my honeymoon, I took some time at the end of a busy day to write a blog post. To be honest, I'm kind of afraid to even go back and read it. I assume it was kind of a garbled mess of a post; well-intended, but not terribly comprehensible or interesting.

I'll leave it where it is, a testament to why I should take the "Almost-Daily" part of the title of this blog to heart. In the future, while traveling, I will likely not write blog posts.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

When Different Circles of Friends Meet

This past weekend, leading up to our wedding reception, a few of our friends started coming into town. Several of our friends stayed at or near our house, so basically all of Saturday and much of Sunday was spent hanging out with them.

This was the first time my Louisiana friends and Laura's New York friends met. It went well!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Welcome to Tucson

Some of my friends and family are in Tucson for the first time. Here are some things you need to know if you spend time here:

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Long Day, A Short Night

I skipped work today in order to get some homework done. I kinda just finished it, at least as much as it'll get done.

It's late, so don't expect a thoughtful post tonight. Instead, my mind is simply full of questions.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Black Perspective on Hillary vs. Bernie

I don't browse Reddit, but today I was linked to a post there in which a black Redditor detailed a few reasons why black voters favor Hillary Clinton. I had been wondering about the black perspective of this primary race, and though that account obviously doesn't speak for all black people (and doesn't claim to), it does give some valuable insight that I hadn't considered.

So, I'm going to explore each of their points one by one. My intention isn't to refute their points, but just to give my own perspective.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Parents in the House

This week, between our wedding yesterday and our reception this Sunday, my parents are staying with me and Laura. Our house was specifically chosen to host people (usually Fangamer visitors), so we're definitely set up to have people staying here fore extended periods.

That said, having my parents over feels different than the friends and colleagues who usually stay with us.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Wedding Recap

Today I got married to Laura. Here's a quick recap of the day.


Tomorrow I'll be taking vows to love and be with someone for the rest of my life. So, today I'm going to talk a bit about commitment.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bernie Bummer

Today Bernie lost the primary vote in South Carolina to Hillary Clinton by a wide margin: 26% to 73.5%. As a Sanders supporter, this isn't a big deal to me in and of itself. South Carolina Democrats voted on their issues, and Hillary has a pretty strong base there. It was a decisive victory for Hillary, for certain, and I'm certainly not going to bear a grudge against South Carolina.

Unfortunately, neither candidate really seems to have captured the imaginations of the South Carolina electorate. Only 369,526 people voted in the South Carolina Democratic primary today, which is down about 30% from 2008. I wonder if those voters were undecided or simply apathetic.

That said, going into today's election I was pretty disappointed in how it was being reported. I don't take much stock in the idea of media conspiracy, but even before today's victory for Hillary all I've been hearing from pundits is that Bernie's campaign is done. That sort of pronouncement doesn't just seem premature; I believe it actually influences the results.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Rose of Versailles

Yesterday I finished watching The Rose of Versailles, an anime that ran from 1979 to 1980. It's a 40-episode tale of French nobility, specifically the fall of the Bourbon dynasty. It begins with the arrival of Marie Antoinette in France and ends with the fall of the Bastille, the peasants' riot that toppled a fortress and signaled the rise of the people as a dominant force in France.

The show isn't about the French Revolution, though. Rather, the reign of Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution form the real-life backdrop for a fictional story of a woman who was raised as man, determined to become a soldier and to not have her value as a person defined by her gender.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Bouncing Back

All the things that were making me listless a couple of days ago came back triple today. For a while there I was caught between a multitude of things I needed to do, paralyzed with indecision and crumbling under the weight of my responsibilities.

It was strange. I realized what was happening as it happened. I thought to myself, "Charlie, you're having a breakdown. This is what a breakdown feels like." I half-heartedly attempted to start things, tried to distract myself from the problem, and sat motionless each in turn, aware as I was doing these things that they were not helping. It was a strange, almost out-of-body experience watching myself struggle like that.

And then, suddenly, everything snapped back into place.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Radiata Stories

Recently I started playing Radiata Stories again, partly because I wanted Laura to see it, and partly because I wanted to relive it myself. It's the game that made me interested in tri-Ace as a developer. It wasn't Star Ocean, it wasn't Valkyrie Profile, it was Radiata Stories that made me start paying attention to this innovative RPG developer.

So, I'd like to talk about what it was about this game that caught my attention so thoroughly.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I'd like to write about how pundits are declaring the Sanders campaign dead prematurely, about the Trump phenomenon, or about my vision for my own presidential campaign. I'd like to write about the shows I've been watching recently, the games I've been playing, or the games I'd like to make. I'd like to write about my feelings on the American educational system, how it's failing our country, and some preliminary ideas on how to improve it. I'd like to talk some more about responsibility, about stoicism, and about honesty. I'd like to talk about how I believe people are basically good, most of them muddling through life doing what they think is right, and how though many of us disagree we mostly want the same thing.

I want to talk about all of these things, but I'm just not feeling it right now, sorry.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Responsibility is a tough concept to understand. We try to teach it to kids from a young age by giving them responsibilities of their own: a pet to take care of, an allowance, chores, and so on. It's taught as something punitive, with focus on the downsides to responsibility rather than the upsides; a popular example being when a kid asks for a pet and their parent has to sit down and make it clear that a pet takes a lot of work. It feels like a scare tactic, trying to convince a child that the benefits aren't worth the trouble.

I don't think countless parents warning their children of the work involved in keeping a pet is the cause of people's general distaste for responsibilities, but the fact that parents warn children away from responsibility seems indicative of a general revulsion at the concept.

Monday, February 22, 2016

MAGfest Final Notes

With MAGfest over, I need to make some personal notes for the next time we attend:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Whoops, I Ate Too Much

Today I closed the booth down a little earlier than normal (9:30 instead of 11:30) in order to go have dinner with friends. I haven't really had much time to actually hang out with any of the various people I know at MAGfest since I've been attached to a busy booth the whole time, so it was nice to just sort of take off and enjoy some company.

We went to a restaurant we'd never been to before: Granite City Food and Brewery. Many MAGfest attendees may be familiar with Cadillac Ranch, the restaurant pretty close to the Gaylord. Granite City has much of the same fare, but it's so much better holy cow.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Washington D.C.

I've never actually visited Washington D.C. properly. This is my 6th MAGfest in a row, and not once have I ever popped over to D.C. to be a tourist for a while.

One of these days, though, I should probably explore our nation's capitol for a bit. And not Fallout 3's post-apocalyptic version, either.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

MAGfest Atmosphere vs. PAX

I stepped into the vendor's hall this morning at around 10AM and left a little before midnight. It was a long day, but it didn't feel like it to me. I like this environment, and I like this kind of work. It's the kind of work I can simply get lost in.

It's different from PAX, still. Working a booth at PAX, it feels like there's a lot of pressure all the time. Here, not so much. I'm not really certain why, and I wish I could articulate it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ode to All the Ways Airports Suck

Today I flew from Tucson to D.C. I'm exhausted from travel and lack of sleep, so to make this post easier I'm going to cover old ground and discuss the trials of traveling by flight.

Marvel's Jessica Jones

Are you tired of super hero stories about rich people, idealists, and literal gods? Are you interested in a smaller story that delves deep into the life of a person with superpowers that really isn't interested in being a hero? (Or a villain, for that matter?) Someone who just wants to live their life?

Jessica Jones is basically that. It's not a comedy or even an action show, really. It's more of a noire, a character study, with a touch of horror and drama. It's engaging and fascinating, and I highly recommend it. You can watch the whole thing on Netflix, and I recommend doing so instead of reading the rest of this post. Spoilers ahoy.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Relationship Advice 2016: Maintaining a Relationship

I'm currently on my fourth year of my only (so far) successful relationship, so any advice I give regarding maintaining a relationship should be taken with the knowledge that I'm working from a lack of long-term data.

This advice is also predicated on the understanding that your relationship is with a reasonable, non-abusive partner. If you're in a toxic relationship, your goal should probably be escape, not maintenance.

That said, as far as I can tell, relationship maintenance comes down to three basic concepts: communication, forgiveness, and gestures. I assure you that none of what I'm about to say is ground-breaking.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Relationship Advice 2016: Finding Someone

Given the date, relationship advice seems like an appropriate topic. So, I'll offer what little advice I can on the matter. After all, I've only been in my current relationship for three years or so, and I imagine my advice will evolve over the course of the next ten, twenty, or forty years.

This advice is going to assume that you're either seeking or want to maintain a long-term, stable relationship. If you enjoy the single lifestyle or polyamory, that's cool but I have no advice for you.

I'm going to break this into two distinct parts: finding a relationship and maintaining a relationship. I'll try to keep things gender-neutral so that this advice can apply to anyone.

The Fandom of Bernie Sanders

I like Bernie Sanders. He's bucking the system in ways I'd never expect from a politician, and he's made integrity a core part of this election's conversation. He's liberal, but not a Democrat, which makes him relatable to me personally. And though his plans for the country may be difficult to pass given the current makeup of Congress (heck, even with a Democratic majority), I believe the direction he would take the country is inevitable if this country is to survive the coming era.

So, yes, I'm an out-and-out Sanders supporter. I needed to make that clear, because I'm about to talk about how embarrassing Sanders supporters are.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Battling Misinformation, Part I: This Misleading Graph

Hey, check out this picture a friend of mine shared on Facebook:

This image is misleading, and I'll tell you why.

Quitting Feels Good

This semester I've been attending a night class on Mondays and two classes on Thursdays: one in the morning and one in the evening. As a result, I started working weekends in order to make up for the day I'd spend on campus on the other side of town. Spending the day in a library has had its perks, but after an eleven-hour work day yesterday trying to hit a deadline before I'd have to take today off, I realized that I didn't think I'd be able to keep this up for an entire semester. Plus, the morning class was kind of redundant since the Thursday evening class covered many of the same topics, so dropping it really wouldn't impact my education.

So, I decided to drop that morning class. And, as a result, it made me start thinking about the pleasures of quitting.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What Kind of Blog is This?

The previous ten blog posts before this one consisted of 2 recipes, 2 media reviews (an album and a TV series), 2 political blogs, and 4 personal blogs (self-reflection, anecdotes, updates, etc).

Sometimes I ruminate on philosophical and economic matters, sometimes I research history, discuss current events, or simply attempt to give advice. I even posted fanfiction every once in a while a couple of years ago. In short, this blog isn't consistent except that sometimes I post something new every day.

I don't want to make this blog "about" something. It works for me as a general outlet, and if I had to stick to a single topic I'm pretty sure I'd run out of things to say pretty quickly. I suppose I could build a readership more effectively if I branded myself better, but I'm not much for branding and I have little interest in building a readership. (Unless said readership will spread the world when I start running for president in a few years, anyway. Gonna need that ground game.)

That said, I'm curious about what sorts of posts my readership enjoys most. I don't plan on changing my eclectic approach, but I am curious about what's connecting with people. So by all means, let me know.

While you guys think about what you enjoy reading, I'll discuss what I enjoy writing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tacos for Dummies

First, I should note that my spaghetti recipe actually turned out great when I reheated and re-seasoned the sauce the next day. I've updated that post to reflect this. Mission accomplished.

Anyway, I figured I'd do another recipe post for something I've pretty much got mastered, at least to my taste: tacos. It's a much simpler process.

Specifically, this is for ground beef you would then put into a taco. Shells are store-bought and come with their own directions, and you can dress your tacos however you like. I'm personally very boring: just meat on my tacos. No cheese, no lettuce, no beans or anything.

So, one must imagine that my taco meat must be pretty good to stand on its own, right? I certainly think so. It's a super easy process, though.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Bright Side of Bush

Today on my Facebook feed I saw a picture that showed George W. Bush and Barack Obama with caption that read, "I'll take Bush on his worst day over Obama on his best day, share if you agree" or something to that effect.

I honestly don't understand what Obama did to deserve so much hatred. I mean, it's thoroughly ingrained in the South that he's ruining America somehow, but you can trace nearly all of those criticisms to baseless fabrications by conservatives trying to smear his reputation. Sometimes blatant racism, too but, honestly, in the South it's a far greater crime to be a liberal than to be black.

In any case, this hatred of an individual and utter refusal to see anything positive in him unsettles me deeply. I shouldn't be surprised by humanity's capacity to dehumanize others, but it never stops bothering me. I never want to believe that another person is truly irredeemable (which is kind of what my faith is all about).

Given that, I'm going to purge this bile by listing some of the positive things George W. Bush accomplished.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Day of Unity

For basically this entire day I've been working in Unity, the game development engine. Now it's 11PM my time, and I haven't spent any time today thinking about a good blog topic. So, I figure I should just talk about Unity and why I dedicated the day to it.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mom's Spaghetti & Meatballs Recipe

As promised, here's the recipe for making spaghetti, as adopted from my mom. My mom's spaghetti has always been my favorite food, period, so learning to make it was high on my priority list ever since I started cooking for myself. Somehow, though, I never really got it right until a few weeks ago.

I'm cooking it again tonight to make sure I got it down, and this time I'm documenting the process. Hopefully, this blog post will serve as a reference for myself in the future in case I forget something. Alternately, this post may document a failed attempt to recreate my previous success. Either way, this ought to be useful:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Kanye West - College Dropout

I need to preface this review by pointing out that I've never really been into rap or hip-hop. Once upon a time I thought Eminem was kinda funny, and there was this mashup of Tupac's "Starin' Through My Rear View" and Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight" that I downloaded once off of Napster or Kazaak a long time ago. And I guess you can count some Gorillaz tracks as hip-hop thanks to Del the Funky Homosapien.

Otherwise, the genre has been mostly impenetrable to me, partially because I like to sing along to music, and rap isn't exactly singalong stuff in my experience. The other problem is generally the subject matter: I'm not going to suggest that it's the case for all or even most rap, but much of what I've heard on the radio is about sex, drugs, violence, drinking, partying, and other things that generally don't interest me as musical subject matter. As a result, I've never spent much time listening to the genre.

That said, Tupac's "Starin' Through My Rear View" gave me a glimpse of something else rap music could do, though I never followed up on it: it gave someone from a very different life than my own a chance to explain what their life is like. It's not just beats and words; it's a story, or a perspective. And if you can tell that story or give that perspective in a compelling way, then you've made compelling art. It's poetry.

"College Dropout," I contend, is compelling poetry.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Aaron Sorkin's "The West Wing"

In short, I recommend watching The West Wing if you'd like to start looking at politicians as humans again, rather than the spoiled, disconnected creatures they're portrayed as in the media.

Spoiler-free review: the series focuses on the west wing of the White House, following the trials and tribulations of the administration of fictional President Josiah Bartlett. The show was praised for the relative accuracy of its portrayal of the White House, even if the characters and the show itself were overly idealistic. The first few seasons are must-watch TV, I would say. The later seasons, though enjoyable (especially if you're attached to the characters), lose some of the show's depth.

Anything further enters spoiler territory, though the show isn't really an experience that would be damaged much by spoilers.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Resolutions Status Update

We're about a month into 2016, so let check in on what I've accomplished as far as resolutions go.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sickness Denial

I like to think I have a pretty good immune system. However, I should note that biology is to me what math is to most everyone else; I have no aptitude for the subject, and my efforts to study it have only led to frustration. So, heads up that if I ever offer medical advice you should take it with a grain of salt.

That said, I don't get sick very often as far as I can tell, the key words there being "as far as I can tell." I'm currently suffering from strep throat, though, and I'm amused by my actions leading up to this realization.

The Electoral College

I'm going to take a break from staring at this live update of the Iowa caucus to talk about how stupid the Electoral College is.

Yes, the Electoral College has nothing to do with caucuses and primaries, but it's going to come into play pretty heavily in about nine months. But, really, this is just something that's been on a mind for a while now, and it's time to vent.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sexual Abuse

I haven't really told many people about this, but I was sexually abused as a child.

It's not something that comes up, partially because I was super young when it happened, and partially because it wasn't a defining event in my life. And, compared to some people's stories of sexual abuse, I'd say my brush with it was incredibly mild.

That said, it crossed my mind recently, and it startled me how much I remember. So, in the spirit of Speak Your Silence, I think it might help to share my story.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Juggling Media Consumption: Video Games

Given that I'm going to class these days and, therefore, have homework to take care of, I have a feeling I won't have nearly as much time for video games as I did a week ago. And I already didn't have much time to play, so it's going to be rough.

Still, it's an important hobby to me, so I'll find time somehow. Here's what I'm juggling now:

Juggling Media Consumption: TV Shows

Consuming media is a delicate balance. Not only do you have to balance your time between media consumption and other responsibilities (work/rest/etc), but you also need to balance your time between different types of media, and then different titles within each media. We can't reasonably be expected to keep up with everything, but we're kind of responsible for keeping up with some things in order to have some shared experience with the population at large.

Plus, it's just fun and relaxing.

So, here's what I've been spending my media time on:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Let's Talk Final Fantasy

This Cracked article about how Final Fantasy is losing all of its fans sparked a discussion on Facebook. This discussion got me researching, and since I already did the research I figure I should probably write a blog about it.

In short: I think the problems with modern Final Fantasy games has to do with the people involved.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reinhold Niebuhr

Most people, I believe, are familiar with the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
It's a beautiful prayer, adorning the walls of many homes across the country. I find myself pretty connected to it as well, as it pretty accurately describes my thought process when I assess problems; I avoid stressing out about things I can't change by acknowledging the fact that I can't change them. Stress, for me, mostly comes from that third line: when I don't yet realize I'm trying to change something that can not be changed.

Anyway, the prayer above is adapted from a 1937 prayer written by a man named Reinhold Niebuhr. The original goes, "Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other."

Niebuhr is an interesting fellow, it turns out. He's probably best known for the Serenity Prayer, but his other work influenced much of modern public policy, foreign policy, and major historical figures including Martin Luther King Jr. as well as modern political figures like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. So, I thought it would be interesting to dig into this guy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

D&D Campaign Idea: It's the Journey

Ever get a really good campaign idea and realize you can't implement it, and that by the time you can you'll probably have moved on or, more likely, forgotten about it?

I just had one, so I'm going to talk about that today instead of politics or race or education and all those other things I've been talking about. I just... I have to write this down.

Back to School

After a few months of trying to grasp Unity and other game programming on my own, I decided that I needed some guidance. I looked into the local community college just hoping to brush up on my programming and was charmed to see that they actually have a game design curriculum. So, instead of learning C++ and building something from scratch, I'm learning C# and Unity (though I still kinda want to go and learn C++ just because).

I've since been through a semester at Pima Community College, and I've just started my second. I'm not getting a degree or anything--I just want to learn enough to be able to do the rest on my own. It's been an interesting experience so far, though, so I figured I'd share my thoughts on returning to college. How many years has it been since I earned my bachelor's degree? Six years? Seven? I'm honestly not sure when I graduated from Nicholls State. It was pretty anticlimactic.

Anyway, here's my new experience:

Monday, January 25, 2016

"Acting White"

Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn.They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.
—Barack Obama, Keynote Address, Democratic National Convention, 2004
I'm pretty sure that most people reading this are aware of this fact, but I am not white. Not entirely, anyway. For my entire life, when filling out survey forms and such, I've always checked off the "Native American/Alaskan Native" box. My father is chairman of my tribe and has been fighting to get our tribe nationally recognized for a long time now.

I don't bring up my race very much, though. I'm not active in my tribe, and I have no real connection to Native American culture. Does that make me less of an American Indian? Does the rejection of my ethnicity mean that I'm just acting white?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Job vs Career

Since moving to Tucson and working for Fangamer, I've had a very different outlook on what my job means to me. I find I think about work in a fundamentally different way than I used to, and not just because I'm doing something different. This difference goes beyond a job description: it represents a fundamental change in the relationship between my work and my life.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Reflections on "Reflections on Firefly"

My friend Aaron posted a critique of Firefly today. It was an intriguing read, and I decided to respond to his assertions. After getting to the third paragraph of my response, though, it occurred to me that if I'm going to write that much I should probably just make it my blog for the day.

The gist of his post, if you don't want to read it (though you probably should): Firefly had some good things going on, but perhaps Fox was right to cancel the show. Joss Whedon's snappy dialogue, though fun, distracted from a general lack of depth in the characters, and the show could have perhaps benefited from a smaller cast of deeper characters.

I respectfully disagree.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Organizing Line: When It's Time to Get to Work

(Today was a long day at work, so I don't want to spend a bunch of time writing tonight. Instead, here's a blog I wrote last year and never published that coincidentally concerns time management.)

Actually getting work done is one of the most difficult things to do. Putting pen to paper, writing that first line, taking the first step; there are so many obstacles in our way, and today I'd like to talk about one of them.

Refelctions on Democratic Candidates: Martin O'Malley

For the final remaining Democratic candidate, Martin O'Malley, I don't think I'm going to really attempt to get too critical. The guy is polling in the low single-digits, so criticizing him now would be like kicking a puppy.

After participating in three presidential debates now, he's really just kind of coming off as a nuisance, trying to get between the two real contenders. He hasn't said anything wrong, though, and he's got some pretty decent ideas. He's just capturing basically nobody's imagination.

So, just who is this Martin O'Malley guy?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Reflections on Democratic Candidates: Hillary Clinton

Continuing my series on politics, it's time to talk about the Democratic front-runner: Hillary Clinton. Again, since I largely agree with liberals, I think it will be more interesting to discuss my concerns about the Democratic candidates rather than the things I agree about, so this will likely take a critical direction.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Reflections on the Democratic Candidates: Bernie Sanders

After yesterday's Democratic debate, I decided to go ahead and get my thoughts down regarding the Democratic candidates. Unlike the Republicans, whose surface opinions I largely disagree with, if I were to list my common ground with the Democratic candidates this series would basically never end. Instead, I'm going to try and be critical of the candidates and point out my concerns.

Let's start with my preferred candidate: Bernie Sanders

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Reflections of the Republican Debate: Congressional Authority

I'm starting to write this last post about the Republican debate 45 minutes before the next Democratic debate begins. It's possible that the Democratic debate will cause me to lose my train of thought, so I've got to organize my thought on this matter in 45 minutes or, well, less now. Let's get to it.

The subject: congressional authority, or the limits of presidential power, or bipartisanship. It's all pretty interrelated.

Reflections on the Republican Debate: Foreign Diplomatic Relations

Today, I'm continuing my reflection on the more interesting ideas proposed by the Republicans during their debate. This time, the subject is foreign relations--a critical subject, especially in this era in which we have thousands of troops stationed all over the world.

Specifically, I'm referring to diplomatic relations. Economic relations are a completely different thing and, I believe, much more complicated.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Reflections on the Republican Debate: Tax Reform

Yesterday I was so focused on typing up what the candidates were saying that I didn't actually give much commentary. Plus, sometimes I was actually trying to pay attention to what they were saying, which gave me even less time for typing and thoughts of my own. That's part of the problem with live commentary, I guess: balancing your attention between your comments and what you're commenting on means you get to give your full attention to neither. So, I probably won't do that again.

Anyway, today I want reflect a bit on what the Republicans talked about. I disagree with a lot of what they said, but so did many people, so I wouldn't be adding anything to the conversation by ripping apart their views.

Instead, I'm going to explore the things I thought were interesting; ideas that stood out to me as well-thought-out or, at the very least, worth a second thought. I've settled on three things:
  1. Tax reform
  2. Foreign diplomatic relations
  3. Congressional authority
Today, I'm going to talk about tax reform. Let's see where their ideas and mine on these subjects align and diverge:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Live Blog of the Jan 14, 2016 Republican Debate

Do people do live blogging? I guess it doesn't make much sense, since it's not really live to the reader. Regardless, I'm going to watch my first Republican debate and type up my thoughts as they go. Warning, I'm not going to edit this, so expect typos galore.

Candidates: Donal Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, John Kasich

Okay, let's go.

The Right to Bear Arms

In the late 1780s, years after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, the fledgling government of the United States was still sorting out what sort of government they really wanted to be. The country's first political parties, the Federalists and the cleverly-named Anti-Federalists (who eventually became the Democratic-Republican party), were debating the merits and problems with a strong central government. A strong central government offered security and regulated interstate quarrels, which were a big concern at the time. On the other hand, if the central government was too strong that opened the door to tyranny, the war against which everyone was still kinda recovering from.

Unfortunately, the country's first attempt at a constitution created a government too weak to do anything at all, so clearly there needed to be some compromise. So, in 1791, two years after the Constitution of the United States of America established a much stronger central government, the first ten amendments to that Constitution were ratified: the United States' Bill of Rights, which guaranteed certain freedoms to the country's people in the hopes that such rights would save them from tyranny.

Many of these rights have been debated in the 224 years since their ratification, and some of their guarantees have been chipped away a bit for the sake of safety and common sense. Currently, the guarantee at the forefront of America's collective mind seems to be the Second Amendment. So, let's talk about it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Influence of a Legend

The loss of David Bowie is being felt all around the world, and yesterday the outpouring of remembrance, grief, and anecdotes about how he changed people's lives vastly outnumbered the criticisms and the cynicism that always seem to crop up when large numbers of people are talking about the same thing.

Though I was by no means a Bowie super-fan or anything, the worldwide conversation has gotten me thinking about this man who was a major influence on my life, even if not directly.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Buying a House Part 3 and 4: Find an Agent, Check Out Houses

[I wrote this post last year as part of my attempt at a series on the house-buying process. Never published it for whatever reason, so here you go.]

Buying a house is a complicated process. Unless it's your job to know how to communicate with sellers, write contracts, get in touch with the professionals to examine a house, set up the loan process, and get all of the correct paperwork submitted to the right people at the right time, you should probably get an agent who can do most of that stuff for you. And hey, it will probably be free!


I have a bad habit of arguing with people on Facebook sometimes. It's not a good use of my time, but last year I wasn't using this blog as an outlet, so instead most of my writing ended up in the ethereal word of Facebook comments. In any case, recently in one of those conversations a friend-of-a-friend told me to never take anything anyone says on the Internet seriously.

This comment opened my eyes once again to the fact that many people, even (perhaps especially) people who spend a lot of time on the Internet, don't really see the Internet as a part of reality. So, today I'd like to talk about why that mindset is wrong.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Saiyans and Midichlorians

In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, George Lucas introduced something to the Star Wars universe that ruined the series for many people, and which basically every Star Wars book, game, and movie since (including Episodes II and III) has done its best to ignore: midichlorians.

Before midichlorians, the Force was basically unexplained. It was simply a power that "surrounds us, penetrates us, binds the galaxy together." Though the original trilogy suggested that the Force was strong in the Skywalker family, it seemed like something anybody could tap into if they had the right mindset. There was no science behind it. Indeed, it rebuked science for being too attached to sensory perception.

And then there was midichlorians: a way to measure Force potential in people. It explained something that didn't need explaining, and it explicitly marked the Skywalker family as chosen ones. Darth Vader was obsessed with destiny, but Luke's actions suggested that destiny is a lie. Midichlorians suggest that destiny is very real and measurable.

On that note, I want to talk about how, as midichlorians ruin Star Wars, Saiyans ruin Dragon Ball.

Friday, January 8, 2016


[Note: I wrote this post some time early last year and never published it. Probably because I couldn't think of a good ending.]

This past weekend I finished both Dragon Age: Inquisition and season 3 of Friday Night Lights which, if you're not familiar with that series, it's basically the season when most of the cast graduates, making it feel like an end to the series. In both cases, I had to come to terms with the feelings you get when something ends, particularly something you feel invested in.

Endings cause a mix of emotions, which makes them some of the most confusing things for people to deal with. I've heard people say that they've put books, games, and shows down for a while, unwilling to finish them, knowing that it means the experience would end. And I can understand that: endings are bittersweet, and many people need to brace themselves for the bitter half of that equation. Sometimes the sweet isn't enough to make up for the bitter. Sometimes people don't accept the bitterness at all. And, of course, sometimes the bitterness makes people themselves somewhat bitter.

I figured I should muse about endings while they're on my mind.

The Death of Subtext

I'm a big fan of Undertale and Steven Universe. These are both super fun and cool experiences (video game and TV show, respectively) that are solid, expertly made pieces of art with subversive qualities thrown in for good measure. I have basically no complaints with either one.

However, both Undertale and Steven Universe have a reputation for having incredibly annoying fans. A while back I made a joke about how Gamergate supporters resembled nothing so much as the more witness-happy sects of Christianity, like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. These groups are often mocked for their enthusiasm for spreading the gospel of their cause, and in my experience the fandom of Steven Universe and Undertale use similar tactics.

It's not simply that these things are popular. There is a certain amount of backlash to be expected from popular media, but there's a fundamental difference between the way, say, Star Wars or Final Fantasy 7 fans talk about their fandom versus the way Steven Universe or Undertale fans talk about their fandom. With Star Wars, it's enough that it's "cool," and there's generally no imperative for others to see it. One does not preach Star Wars, because Star Wars has nothing to preach. Its fandom spreads naturally.

Steven Universe and Undertale have a message, though, and their fandoms want to spread that message. It crosses the line from the natural circulation of Star Wars to the more jarring circulation of Mormonism when the people who talk about it stop thinking it's "cool" and start thinking it's "Important." Which is tragic, because the actual experience they want to support handles that message in a far less jarring manner than its fans do.

All that to say, today I'd like to talk about subtlety.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Reign of Terror

I'm fairly liberal. To some, I'm sure I seem extremely liberal. To others, I'm sure I'm not liberal enough. The sliding scale of liberalism and conservatism stretches farther than the eye can see on both sides, and you can always take things farther.

That said, I never want to lose the moderate notion that the people who disagree with me are still people, and that they generally hold their views for good reasons. Or, at least, for reasons that make sense to them. I don't think it's safe to assume that the people who disagree with you are less intelligent than you, or that they are holding their views for selfish or malevolent purposes.

Given that, today I'm going to write a little bit about a point in history in which terror and violence came, not from conservatives, but from a nation whose liberalism had run out of control. I'm talking about France in the 1790s, in the midst of the French Revolution.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Examining Gamergate Part 3: Cronyism

In my research of the charges of Gamergate, the thing that struck me most was how unpleasant the material was to read. Not because the subject matter was uncomfortable, but because it felt like I was reading the accounts of a witch hunt; that these people were angry, and they needed to unleash that anger on something, anything, so long as they can concoct some justification to do so.

I'm pretty stoic, and I tend to naturally keep all of my emotions in check, for better or worse. However, the only emotion I actively try to keep in check, the only one I actually fight off on the rare occasion it arises, is anger. Of all the emotions it seems to be the most likely to be unnecessarily destructive, the most likely to get out of hand, and the most difficult to get under control. It's an unpleasant emotion, both to feel and to read.

It's particularly uncomfortable to experience when you don't feel the injustice the way someone else does. All anger stems from injustice, and the difference between Gamergate proponents and opponents is what they consider an injustice. The most tiresome thing while reading through Gamergate articles was the fact that I couldn't find much to commiserate with them about, so I couldn't share in their anger.

The closest I came to understanding their frustration was with their charges of cronyism among the gaming media.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Examining Gamergate Part 2: On Conspiracy

I'd like to get into the habit of announcing my blog posts more often. Letting people know I've posted something new increases my meager traffic considerably, it turns out. I don't think I'll be announcing these posts, though. Best case scenario, it will remind people that this is still an ongoing conversation, which is something many people (myself included) would like to move past. Worst case scenario, I'll get pulled into that conversation further, a prospect that fills me with exhaustion at the thought.

Researching and writing on this subject has been exhausting enough. It reminds me of something someone said, and I apologize for not remembering who it was so I can credit them. To paraphrase: the most frustrating arguments are with people who are wrong in a way that's exhausting to explain. To a large degree, that describes the Gamergate debate.

Exhausting or not, though, I'm determined to organize my thoughts on this subject. Only then, perhaps, will I be free. So, on to the subject of conspiracy in gaming journalism.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Examining Gamergate: On Corruption

A few months ago an old friend of mine started posting about Gamergate. Gamergate hasn't been in the news as much lately, though maybe I only think that because I've personally been avoiding it as much as possible. Regardless, this was clearly something my friend was passionate about, so we started talking.

I generally try to avoid seeing another group as an "other." For opponents of Gamergate, the rule of thumb was "do not engage," as if its proponents are not worth your time. I don't like to think of people that way, especially friends, so I broke the rule. I engaged, and my friend provided me with tons of reading material to show me what he's talking about.

I've since read a lot, thought a lot, and examined this issue for the sake of my friend. Here's what I've found:

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Resolutions for 2016

Though I basically ditched my 2015 resolutions, I do believe in the resolution model so long as the resolutions have the following qualities:
  • Realistic - Goals I can reasonably achieve in the given time frame and given my schedule.
  • Concrete/Measurable - Goals I can work towards, producing results I can demonstrate.
  • Personal Improvement - Goals that enhance my knowledge or abilities.
  • Habit-Changing - Goals that I wasn't already going to reach without making them goals.
Through resolutions like this, I've played and finished more games, finished more books, gone on more hikes, watched more movies, and wrote more than I otherwise would have. These resolutions kept me active, kept me thinking, and generally gave me a greater appreciation for the arts than I had before.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 in Review

I started this blog as part of a New Year's resolution in 2014. The goal was to end the year with 365 blog posts, and I ended up with 364 (due to a failure to hit a final Publish button properly). The year 2014 was a good year for keeping resolutions. The year 2015 was not. However, given all that's happened in the past year, I'm pretty content with that. It's been an active year, and tossing a few personal goals to the wayside was necessary in order to seize some unexpected opportunities that seemed more important than weekly blog posts and finding new music.

Some highlights of 2015: