Saturday, January 16, 2010

Political Beliefs vs. Lies

Before I begin discussing the latest in politics here, I want to make something clear from the start: I don't give a shit what your political beliefs are.

By that, I mean it doesn't matter. Whatever your ideology is, if you want to discuss and debate, I'm ready to have at it. Many of my friends are in very different places on the political spectrum from me, and I've enjoyed many a debate with someone that has an opposite opinion but knows his or her stuff. For instance, you might believe that America is best served by leaving health insurance to be provided by private companies only, rather than by the federal or state governments. I might counter by pointing out the great success other countries have had in providing their people health coverage, and you might counter me by saying that society in the U.S. is different from those others and might not be able to handle their system, and so on. Both sides are presenting a legitimate political opinion, based in reality, ready to back it up with facts, and I'm fine with that.

What I have NO patience for is falsehood. During the presidential campaign of 2008, from the primaries on, I did volunteer work for Barack Obama. I did data entry, made phone calls and donations, and wrote letters to newspapers. At times, there was good political discussion and debate involved. Unfortunately, all too often the bulk of the work was simply to tell the truth in the face of the continuous waves of lies being spread. I can't tell you how many times I had to explain that Senator Obama was a Christian, not a Muslim; that he was born in Hawaii, and having lived in the state where he had served as a State Senator for 8 years, I could safely say that he wasn't a Socialist. Again and again and again.

So today, I don't waste my time with people that vomit lies like a Freshman at his first keg party. To paraphrase Mike Singletary, I can not not play with 'em. Can not debate with 'em. Can not win with 'em. Can't do it.

Whether the person is spreading a lie intentionally with malice, or through sheer ignorance repeating what he's heard without checking the facts or judging the source, the fact is that life's too short to waste on people that don't value the truth. An honest difference in political opinion is often engaging and even fun for me to debate, but I'd rather not even talk to someone that claims that Neil Armstrong never set foot on the moon, or that President Bush schemed and ordered the 9/11 acts of terrorism, or that President Obama was born in Timbuktu.

In other words, I could probably have a decent discussion with, say, a George Will. I wouldn't even bother trying with a Sarah Palin.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Avatars, Shadowrun, and the Matrix

I went to see Avatar recently with Debby and some friends. When it was done, I had an itch to play Shadowrun again. It's an RPG I haven't played since around my college days, that mixes futuristic technology with elements of fantasy like demihumans and magic.

I thought at first that it was the technology shown in the movie that made me want to pull out that RPG again, like the dual-rotor helicopters, one of the many things that look great in that movie. But as I thought more on it, I realized that one of the main concepts of Avatar, that someone can plug their brain into a machine and remotely control another entity that represents them, was triggering my memory of one of the elements of Shadowrun: the Matrix.

The Matrix in Shadowrun is a world-wide network far more advanced than the internet, where users are represented as icons in a virtual reality. Those that are especially good at it can have implants put into their heads to allow them to hook up their brains directly to the Matrix, and hack their way into places that they aren't supposed to be by fighting icons representing security programs. It should be mentioned that this game came out with "the Matrix" in 1989, well before the movie of the same name that shared some of the concepts. Really though, hasn't this concept been around since the days of Tron?

I've been talking to folks about getting a regular Shadowrun game online going. I've had ideas for a campaign based in a future Chicago for quite some time, but haven't had a chance to do much with them - the problem has always been finding a time when I and my fellow gamers are free on a regular basis. A lot of us have games on the schedule already, so it can be tricky.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Blog

Captain's Log, Stardate 219,710,852.93...

No, I don't think so. That's been used WAY too much already.

Besides, it's too formal. This isn't going to be any kind of formal journal, to be updated on a regular schedule, and it's not going to be focused on any topic in particular. In fact, it wouldn't be here at all if I hadn't seen that my friend Andrew had started a blog of his own to talk about his insights on writing at which got me thinking about it. I'd like to do some fiction writing myself, but I suspect that on here there are some topics I'll post on more than others:

As a political junkie, I know I'll be putting down what I'm seeing happening in politics from time to time, and as an old-school gamer, I'm sure there will be posts of games I'm playing, new ones coming out, old ones revisited, and so on (The "Dungeon" part of the title of this blog comes from the Dungeons and Dragons definition of a dungeon: a place that can be dangerous, but is often also filled with treasure. Sorry to disappoint any S&M fans).

Mainly, though, I just wanted a place to put my thoughts down about events going on in my life for anyone that's interested. I have friends and family members that seem to be able to write long letters or emails on a daily basis. Now, I'm not much for writing letters or emails to begin, and I'm also not too keen on phones, so for those folks that like to "keep in touch", this site will let be a good place to let them know what's going on without me getting overwhelmed/frustrated trying to respond to calls/letters/emails. I'm just not a "chatty" enough guy, I suppose.

I should probably start with the recent big news: We found out that Debby is pregnant, with the birth date expected to be around August 1st. It will be the first child for either of us, and I've had some friends ask me if I'm scared shitless yet, but that doesn't really describe how I felt after I found out. I was happy of course, both of us wanted this to happen, but what really surprised me was how quickly my mindset started to change. It seemed that almost immediately I was thinking of plans for the future, things I wanted to do and choices that would have to be made over the coming months and years. Even as I write this, I'm wondering if the child will some day read it, and what he or she will make of it.

Debby and I have thought of names already, and perhaps I will tell them in later posts, but for now I can say that whether it is a boy or a girl, we will be able to call him or her "C.J." for short. I do like ending a post with a tease... happy guessing!