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Change the world

I want to change how government works.

I don’t think I am alone on this. We don’t like the bipartisan divide. We don’t like the pork. We don’t like the two-party system where politics gets in the way of making intelligent laws. We elected Obama in part to change how government works, and are disappointed that he didn’t fix the system.

But of course he couldn’t change the system. He isn’t the boss, he can’t dictate policy. He is just one part of our three-part government, and is controlled by checks and balances. And in 2-6 years he will be gone, so Senators and Congressmen hoping to spend their lives in government aren’t as worried about the near term. The problem is that the president doesn’t pick the politicians. We do.

We are the boss. And we incentivize our employees, the politicians, to do things a certain way. We encourage mud slinging, since the mud is usually the bulk of what we know about a candidate. What do you know about Christine O’Donnell? What does she believe in? I firmly rooted against her, but to be honest I know little of her opinions on real issues, other than she was a Tea Party candidate endorsed by Sarah Palin, and made stupid comments about being a Witch. Basically, all mud, no facts.

The news is a horrible place to get our facts about politicians, but we keep doing it. We all know how bad Fox News is. Guess what, our favored news sources are just as biased, just as manipulative, just as scandal driven. They want headlines. We learn about politics through them. Therefore our politicians, the ones we vote on, are voted on based off of headlines. Maybe intelligent headlines. Maybe headlines from news sources we respect, but still headlines. Thus, politicians are incentivized to make good headlines to keep their jobs.

That’s it. Nothing else matters.

The root problem is the job requirements. A politicians job requirements isn’t really to govern, it is to get elected. And to get elected you need to have more positive and less negative headlines than your opponent. There are the headlines you cannot control, like responses to scandal, spin on actual governing you do, and mud slung against you. Then there are the headlines you can control, paid for by you and gotten by getting donations. So keep the party happy and they will help fund your campaign. Keep the people who actually donate money in a noticeable quantity happy and they will help fund your campaign.

What can we do about this? How can we change it?

The only thing I can think of is to change how we elect someone. Change our criteria from the mud to facts. And to me, we want those facts to be primarily about how they govern. The problem is, those facts aren’t there…

Or are they? I can do a web search and find decisions made in the Senate. I can find out who proposed them, who was on the committee that supported it, and who voted for or against it. I can find the actual words of the decision. All the facts are there, public domain, just presented in a way that makes it hard to use that information to influence your voting.

What I want is a web page that opens to what my ballot is going to look like. I want to be able to click on a politician, and see everything they ever voted on. I want to see a summary of what each thing they voted on was, and maybe some way to calculate what issues they are more in favor of and less in favor of. I would also want to see what they have promised, and how their promises match how they voted. And preferably I would want to see how reasonable their promises are, so I can compare someone who has never held an office with an incumbent. Lastly, I want to make my decisions and then print out a crib-sheet of my ballot so I can remember which obscure name I like better when I go to the polls.

This should all be doable.

Put every decision made by the Senate, Congress, and someday state legislature as well in a database. Have educated people summarize those decisions, but show the original for those who want to interpret for themselves. Rate those decisions on “key factors”, to be determined. Maybe let every user put in their own rating so they don’t have to be overly influenced by our “educated people” if they don’t want to. Then have an algorithm that rates politicians based off of the ratings of the decisions they voted for or against. Then work out a way to do something similar for Governors and Presidents, maybe even Treasurers and Sheriffs and the like. Then work out a way to do something similar with campaign promises so you have SOMETHING for those that have never held an office before. Make a fancy webpage, put up advertising or a donation button or something and wallah, information is available.

Of course everyone won’t use this site. You can see that there are opinions put into it, hopefully kept to a minimum, but still, some professional analysis has to be done. But if you can base that analysis off of something that is easily analyzed through math and is important to lots of people, like fiscal responsibility, then the bias is reasonably limited.

Can we get 1% of the population of the US to look at a site that tells them how fiscally responsible politicians are? How about 5%? And once we have 5% of the people polling that some of their opinions are based off of our database, how can any politician completely ignore that?

So we make some simple rules. Any bill or decision with a cost that doesn’t have a well defined way to pay for it is bad. Any bill or decision that directly lowers the national debt is good. Any bill or decision that includes items (pork) that does not directly relate to its title is bad. Get a percentage of voters to poll that they use our tool that rates candidates on these rules. Then you get candidates who start working on looking better according to these rules in order to get elected…

And then the system is changed, isn’t it?
sca new

Three Party system

This is something I have been thinking about for some time. We have two giant political machines out there, both with arguably their own faults. Recent years have seen the parties swap stances on the issues that I deem as important in order to hold tight to some of the more newsworthy issues. And while I can happily change parties to go with my issues, there is no reason to believe that they won't swap back at a later date.

So how does one get one's personal issues to the forefront of politics with these two political giants out there being blinded by other issues? My idea has always been forming a third party. The Swing Party.

If the Democrats have 51% of the vote, and the Republicans have 49%, we don't need to grab 33% of the vote to make them pay attention. All we need is that 2% difference to make each side know they need to cater to our needs to get our support. The Green Party has that 1% or 2% quite often, but they squander it by devoting their votes to their own candidate who has no chance of winning. If instead they let it be known that they would support either a Democrat or a Republican that promises to uphold Green Ideals, they then get the candidates fighting for that 1%-2% that could make the difference, and hopefully BOTH candidates agree to support your ideals. So either the swing vote or a guaranteed win for your issue. All with a small but noticable minority.

My third party isn't the Green party, however. It is a moderate party devoted to fiscal responsibility. In the past, the Republicans were fiscally responsible and the Democrats were big spenders. Now adays military spending is through the roof and Howard Dean speaks of being more fiscally responsible. Who knows when it will flip back. The only solution I have is to form a political party based on Fiscal Responsibility and getting both parties to fight for whatever swing vote I can get together.

The plan would be simple
1) Get as many people registered for the Third Party (or whatever it is called) as possible.
2) Make a platform that is simple and focuses only on the issues that matter to those involved. In this case it would involve spending control and fiscal responsibility.
3) Communicate this platform to both the Republicans and the Democrats clearly
4) Rate candidates in different races based off of how well they adhere to the Third Party platform. Include research into past decisions for incumbants, and make it all fit into an easily interpretable scale with some grey areas in the middle.
5) Get a reputation for the entire Third Party voting along those ratings, letting people know that they are throwing away that 1%-2% if they do not put some effort into catering to the Third Party platform.
6) With a reputation for being a deciding factor, grow. This would be both in members of the Party and the scope of the platform, provided those involved in the Party can accept new planks without causing too much internal strife.

At first there would be no need to actually win elections, but eventually we would want people in the House and Senate so we can be the swing vote there as well. Make it so every bill written knows that it will lose a couple of votes guaranteed if it doesn't have an accurate and fiscally responsible budget associated with it. Make it so neither party has 51%, so neither feels comfortable writing extremist policies it thinks it can ram through the congress on the strength of its majority.

Victory would not be a Third Party President. Victory would be all candidates addressing Third Party needs, knowing that without them they cannot win. I think the Third Party would form a bridge in the ever widening gap between Republicans and Democrats. I think it would give the Moderate view a little more of a voice. It would make it so it isn't us and them, but just those of us we agree more with and those of us we agree less with.

I think it is possible.


In an exciting deal that may turn out to be one of the most expensive films ever made of a Canadian novel, film agent Jerry Kalajian, of Becsey Wisdom Kalajian, in Los Angeles, in association with Westwood Creative Artists, Toronto, announced that Guy Gavriel Kay's historical fantasy epic, The Lions of Al-Rassan, has been optioned for film by Warner Bros Pictures. The film will be directed by Award-winning director Ed Zwick, (The Last Samurai, Legends of the Fall, Glory) and produced by Cathy Schulman and Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Screenwriter Vera Blasi (Woman on Top) will adapt.

The Lions of Al-Rassan is a historical fantasy inspired by the beginning of the Christian re-conquest of Moorish Spain. A triangle forms between courtiers and war leaders on opposite sides, and a female physician, in the fictional setting of Al-Rassan. The Lions of Al-Rassan was published by Penguin Canada in 1995.

Guy Gavriel Kay is the internationally best-selling author of The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire and The Darkest Road (which comprise The Fionavar Tapestry), Tigana, A Song for Arbonne, The Lions of Al-Rassan and The Sarantine Mosaic, (Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors.) His most recent works are Beyond This Dark House, a remarkable collection of poetry, and Last Light of the Sun, which was published in spring '04. Kay's books have been translated into twenty-two languages; he is the two-time winner of the Aurora Award, winner of the International Goliardos Prize for his contributions to the literature of the fantastic, and a four-time World Fantasy Award nominee.

Zwick is quoted as saying, "He [Guy Kay] has done something remarkable in imagining a very compelling world, which has some basis in history, and yet departs in a way that adds a kind of magic realism."

Guy Gavriel Kay comments from France, where he is at work on a new novel, "I'm very pleased - and happily distracted. These are early days, obviously, and we all know that many film projects start and never get to the screen. Having said that, I am delighted with how this has been set up: the people involved with THE LIONS OF-AL RASSAN are genuinely impressive, they 'get' the book, and they've made large-scale epics before. The scope of the novel won't faze them. Creatively, one of Ed Zwick's strengths has always been, it seems to me, his understanding of how to move a film from the grand scenes to the intimate ones. I think that will matter, with LIONS."

For further information or an interview with Guy Gavriel Kay,
Please contact Debby de Groot
Penguin Group (Canada)
(416) 928 2409

Deal submitted by Debby de Groot on Wednesday 26 January 2005
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Public Service Announcement

According to the United Kingdom Office for National Statistics, 26 May 2005

37% of people in the UK died of heart disease and stroke in 2004. 27% died of cancer. 14% respiratory (and pneumonia)

According to Key Population and Vital Statistics (2003, Series VS No 20, PP1 | No 26, ISSN 1469-2732) by the same office, there were 3,648,000 males and 3,739,800 females living in London in mid 2003. 27,595 Males, 30,147 Females died in 2003

While these statistics are not for exactly the same time period, they do represent trends that most likely are similar to what is happening today. Combining those statistics, 58.5 people will die of heart disease and stroke today in London. 42.7 will die of cancer today in London. 22.1 will die of respiratory disease and pneumonia today in London.

I am very sad that 40 people died needlessly today in a terrorist attack in London. It is disturbing that the world we live in will fall to such tactics. Strikes on civilian targets that have no direct impact upon whatever cause you are protesting have no place even if you are pushed by society to a place where violence seems to be the only answer. Their only purpose is shock and terror. And the more shock and terror we feel, the more we encourage them to occur again.

More people will die in London today from Heart Disease and Stroke than from Terrorist Attacks. More people will die in London today from Cancer than from Terrorist Attacks. And people die of Cancer and Heart Disease every day, not just today. Approximately 21,000 people will die in London this year from Heart Disease and Stroke, and 15,000 will die of Cancer.

We have much bigger issues than terrorism. But the more we play up the effects of terrorism, the more it will occur. Heart Disease is more dangerous than bombs, even in Iraq. But the bombs get press coverage, the bombs provide the fear that the terrorists are looking for.

My condolences to the families and friends of those who died in London today.
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Howl's Moving Castle

An interesting film by the maker of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle carries much of the same imagery and mood. While the fact that Hayao Miyazaki doesn't feel inclined to explain everything is part of the magic of his films, I feel that a little more attention to some form of central theme would have really made the film complete.
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Job Offer

If anyone is interested in a Senior Technical Writing position in Waltham, MA, let me know. There may be an opportunity for you at my current place of employment.

RTLB666 Mechanic

This is a suggestion for an Rules to Live By mechanic. RTLB666 can be found at:

This is for the 1948: Signals game. Their combat rules can be found at:

From the 1948 Las Vegas game, I noticed that combat was really slow. The main reason for this was because everything was GM moderated. There were two things that really required GM attention for the most part, that being grappling and strange weapons. In this post I am discussing grappling.

My goals are to create an elegant solution that is both playable and fits in the RTLB system. Also, I would like grappling to be slightly less efficient than just punching your opponent, as the results are more beneficial. By that I mean that when you have grappled someone you get to decide whether to kill them later or not, but by beating them to death you are sort of stuck with the damage you did, and that means that grappling has better results.

I suggest adding a new type of damage, White stars. White stars represent your immobility. When you are out of hp due to white stars, you are successfully grappled. White stars are ignored for determining death.

Anyone may translate their yellow stars to white when involved in unarmed combat. In addition, Combat Maneuvers should be added for grappling, similar to the ones that already exist. As soon as you have done 1 white star to someone, neither you nor they may take a step. You are locked in a wrestling maneuver that prohibits movement.

"Pinned": Someone who is out of hp due to white stars is pinned. They may not perform any actions, but they are consious and aware of what is happening around them. There must be one person who is holding them at all times, otherwise they are "Released", below. The person holding them can only do three actions: "Hostage", "Release", or "Drag". Even if you are healed, once you are pinned you stay pinned.

"Drag": The pinned target and the person holding them may take 1 step in any direction.

"Hostage": The pinned target is held hostage. As long as they are a hostage, the person who took them hostage may use a future action to automatically hit them with an attack, rolling "10" on their first damage roll. Yes, this is very powerful, but being able to rescue anyone who is a hostage easily removes any drama or use from taking hostages. Someone can still be a hostage even if combat has ended.

"Release": The pinned target is released. If everyone who was holding a target releases them, they are free to act. They still have white stars, and if they have more stars than hp, they must perform actions to remove them before doing other actions.

"Escape" or "Recover": Someone with white stars may perform the escape or recover action. If someone is actively attempting to grapple with them, then they make an unarmed attack against that person, except they remove their damage in white stars from themselves. If noone is actively grappling with them, they remove all their white stars. Someone with more stars than hp may not make an unarmed attack, therefore may only perform this action if no one is resisting them.

This system uses the RTLB star mechanic. It allows a grapple, but only after you would have knocked someone unconsious in a normal brawl. So grappling doesn't become the fast way to take someone out in one round. But it does let you restrain someone in a non-permenant way...

Something worth posting

Livejournal Mood Ring

is emotionally distant.

I bet no one's surprised that you never post your current mood. In fact, I bet most of your friends are so sick of you locking them out of your life that they hate you behind your back. Shame.

brought to you by interim32. wanna know your livejournal's mood ring
color? enter your username and hit the button.



A tool to lurk, little more.

But perhaps I will ramble on. I appreciate the workout journals of claidheamh and adyan...