The Lesser of Two Evils

Another post about politics!  Aren’t you excited?  Anyway, I want to talk about something that rustles my jimmies: people who are voting for a third party candidate for president because they believe that they shouldn’t have to “vote for the lesser of two evils”.  Now, they aren’t wrong: one should be able to vote sincerely (i.e., vote for whoever you want).  Voting for an third party candidate because that candidate more accurately represents their views should be the ideal way to vote.  My jimmies should be unrustled by this, and yet, they are quite rustled.   The problem is we don’t live in an ideal world.

Voting third party (or independent) often ignores the current realities of our voting system:  the we way vote for presidents (and pretty much everything else in the US) is stupid.  First Past The Post voting isn’t very conducive for third parties.  If you vote for a third-party candidate you agree with most instead of one of the two major parties candidates you agree with most, you may end up splitting the aforementioned major party candidate’s votes and causing the major party candidate you agree with least to win.  Florida in the 2000 U.S. presidential election is a very good example of this.  If approximately 600 more people voted for Al Gore instead of Ralph Nader, George W. Bush wouldn’t have won that state or the election.

What we need is voting reform in order for people to be able to vote sincerely (replacing First Past The Post with Instant-Runoff Voting, Approval Voting, or some other superior option, for example), and we need to care about this problem during the years where we aren’t electing a president.  Until that happens, you pretty much have to throw your support behind the two people who have the best shot of winning.  And while I’m on the topic of “voting for the lesser of two evils”, I have to mention that I really don’t like that phrase.  You aren’t really voting for the lesser of two evils, you’re voting for the greater of two compromises.  Compromise isn’t a bad thing: better to get some of what you want instead of everything you don’t want.

Also I’m not a fan of the “well, I don’t live a swing state, so…” calculus that some people do. I think voting one way because you expect other people to vote some other way contributed to the Brexit vote turning out the way it did. Then again, if you have absolutely no preference between the two major party candidates (i.e., both are equally good/bad in their own way), then feel free to vote for third party.  But I would argue that most people have some preference when they really think about it (although this year’s presidential election does seem a unique case).  Now I’m just rambling, so I guess need to wrap this us.  My point is this: if you don’t want to be strategic with your voting, then you have to accept the possibility of the major party candidate you want least getting elected.

Not feeling the Bern

Oh, hi there.  It’s been a while.  The last time I posted a new entry was…almost a year ago.  I’m such a slacker.  But it’s a new year, and this year is a multiple of 4, so it’s time for another presidential election in the US.  These past few months have been as fascinating as they’ve been completely horrifying.  Now, I could go on at great length about the rise of Donald Trump and why he repulses me (for all I know, I may do that in a future post that hopefully won’t take another 11 months to write), but I think I want to talk about who I’m voting for instead of who I’m voting against.

The race for the Democratic nomination has basically been a two man (technically, one man, one woman) race since January.  And since any Republican that I might possibly consider voting is very unlikely to win the nomination given the current state of the GOP, there are really only two choices for me: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  Around January, I felt pretty okay with either of them winning the nomination.  But now, I’m really not feeling the Bern.  That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t vote for him in the general election should Hillary drop out of the race for some reason (because that’s basically the only way he would win the nomination at this point), but that’s mostly because of my aforementioned disgust of Trump.

But why Hillary over Bernie?  It’s not because of how annoying some of his supporters are, but wow, some of his supporters are super annoying and incapable of understanding delegate math.  My reason is really simple: I think she’s better prepared to be president than he is.  I first thought that he might not be ready for the job during the second debate when the topic changed to foreign policy.  Hillary was giving nuanced answers to difficult questions, as one would expect from a former Secretary of State, while Bernie just kept saying he didn’t vote for the Iraq War.  Okay, that may be a little hyperbolic, but my point is that it seemed like he didn’t have the chops for or interest in foreign policy.  That bothers me quite a bit given that foreign policy is one of the few area that the President has (mostly) free reign over.

After that, I thought about some of the things he advocates for a bit more.  Raising the minimum wage?  I’m all for that, it has not kept up with inflation at all.  But raising it to $15 nation-wide seems way too high, even if you phase it in over a few years.  He calls for spending on social programs, many of which I can get behind (especially Medicare for All), but it doesn’t seem like he’d raise taxes enough to pay for those things.  Not that he can unilaterally raise taxes, he needs a cooperative Congress to do that.  And while he does seem to realize that (he does call for a political revolution), I get the impression that he’s an ideological purist.  I’m worried that if a good bill comes across his desk, he’s veto it because it’s not a perfect bill.

But was really gave me pause was when he did an interview with the New York Daily News a couple of months ago.  Bernie Sanders has been saying we should break up the big banks since day one of his campaign.  So, one might expect that by that point in the primaries, he’d be able to give details as to how that would be done when asked.  Unexpectedly, he struggled to do so, and I don’t know how that could have happened.  If you’re running for the highest office in the land and you’ve been saying on a near-daily basis that we should do thing X, you should a) expect that someone might press you for details about how you would do thing X during an interview, and b) have details about your rock-solid plan to do thing X ready to fly out of your mouth.  Comparing that interview with the one Hillary Clinton did where she was a cornucopia of details makes me worry that behind Bernie’s rhetoric, he doesn’t have a lot of concrete plans.

What I want in a president is…obviously someone I agree with on a majority of the issues.  Second to that, what I want is competency.  For example, I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney in the last election because I vehemently disagreed with him on many things (social issues, why 47% of the country wouldn’t vote for him, etc.), but I didn’t doubt that he could actually do the job if he got elected.  I agree with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on a majority of the issues, but I think Hillary is way more prepared to do the job than Bernie is.  I’m not saying she’s perfect, but she’s good enough for me.

The Supreme Chicken

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m quite fond of grilling.  About a month or so ago, my brother was visiting, so it was a prime opportunity to break out my grill and cook tasty animals.  Now, I’m pretty decent when it comes to grilling, but I admittedly have quite a bit to learn.  Unfortunately, I don’t grill as often as I want to.  Mostly because I always want to grill, I cook a lot of food when I want to grill, and overeating will make me fat again.  Since no one likes fat André and I’m not prepared to cook less food when grilling, I have to limit how often I break out the grill.  So my point is this: I don’t have a lot of opportunities to perfect my craft (and yes, grilling is my craft).

So after an afternoon in front of the grill, I have a tray full of chicken drumsticks, hamburgers, and hot dogs for my brother and I to devour.  I bite into one of my drumsticks and I’m dumbfounded.  It’s not just good, it’s great!  It’s without a doubt the best chicken I’ve grilled.  But wait!  This could all just be in my head, or I could have only just cooked that one drumstick extremely well.  Luckily, my brother was there to try another one, and there was agreement: this chicken was, as people said in the 90s, the bomb.  So what did I do differently?  I’m not exactly sure, but I have been able to reproduce it.  So I have a decent idea of what I need to do, but a poor idea of why what I’m doing works…and that bugs me!  So that’s one of my goals for the summer: to figure out the secret of the amazing chicken.

I’m a squid!

I used to be a human.  I walked upright, I possessed bones, I only had 4 limbs, etc.  But last Friday, I bought Splatoon, and my life changed dramatically.  I lost my bones, I can squirt ink, and I now have 10 limbs (which is obviously superior to having 4).  It’s pretty rare for me to buy a game on release date given my sizable gaming backlog, but I played Splatoon during the Global Testfires, and realized that a) this is really fun, and b) I need this in my life.  So when release date came around, I took the dive and bought Splatoon.

The most important thing I have to say about Splatoon is that it’s not only excessively fun, it’s addictive.  It’s I-guess-I-can-play-one-more-round-and-oh-my-two-hours-have-passed addictive.  When I get home, the first thing I will do is play some Splatoon.  It will likely be the last thing I do before I go to bed.  The single player campaign actually exists, and it’s worth pulling yourself away from multi-player long enough to finish.  There are motion controls, and while you can turn them off, you really shouldn’t.  I’m finding it easier to aim with motion controls on, but then again, I don’t normally play first/third person shooters using dual analog sticks, so it didn’t take a lot of effort for me to get comfortable with the motion controls.

It isn’t all roses and sunshine, though.  People have complained about a lack of content for a $60 game, and they aren’t completely unjustified.  There’s only 5 maps, and Nintendo only lets you play on two every 4 hours.  They’re randomly selected for each match, and the two maps gets swapped out with two other ones every 4 hours.  I haven’t had much of an issue with that, but there are times where I’ve played the same map 6 times in a row (which is improbable, but not impossible).  Nintendo has plans for releasing free maps, weapons, and other content over the summer, which is nice, but I can understand the desire to have all that stuff now.

There’s no voice chat, which doesn’t bother me at all (I’d rather not hear people talk), but I can see why people would want that in a team-based game.  You have predefined phrases you can use, but there’s only two (“Booyah!” and “Come on!”), and that’s just woefully inadequate.  One annoyance that I’m surprised didn’t get fixed during development is you can’t change your squid’s weapon & gear without leaving the multi-player lobby, which is annoying.  So you might end up on a team that has everyone using rollers (which is often a bad thing).  But really, I find these all to be minor annoyances.  Splatoon, as I previously mentioned, is excessively fun.  If you have a Wii U and lack Splatoon, you need to get your life right and become a squid.

Drinking-Age Arcade Machines

There have been a couple of new arcades opening up around here in the past couple of months, which is a fact that doesn’t necessarily excite me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some arcades.  Every time I come across an arcade with a DDR or Time Crisis machine, I’m spending money there.  It’s just a natural law.  Things with more mass attract things with less mass, nothing is faster than light, and André will pay money to step on arrows when given the chance. So why don’t these new arcades excite me?  Because these arcades deal exclusively in  that are all about “retro gaming”.

Now, I have a problem with an arcade having old games.  I even understand why an arcade might have fewer newer games (money, availability, etc.), and that’s fine.  But my jimmies get a bit rustled at the idea of an arcade making it a point to only have games that are old enough to drink.  Some people seem to have this notion that the games stopped being good after ~1994, and that’s just something I completely disagree with.  This completely ignores the existence of modern fighting games.  Furthermore, there were a lot of bad games in the old days, but people forgot about them the same way people forgot about bad movies/books/music from the same era.  Maybe retro gaming is all about nostalgia, in which case, this is something I’ll never understand.  Not only do I rarely get nostalgic, I get slightly annoyed when people try to appeal to my nearly-nonexistent sense of nostalgia.  I guess my point is this: these new arcades are disappointing.

I Wanna Make a Game

I’ve recently said to myself”I wanna make a game”, a phrase I’ve uttered many, many times before.  It’s the reason I learned how to program in the first place.  My original goal was to make games for a living.  So why am I working at a company that doesn’t make anything close to video games instead of a company that only makes video games?  At some point, I realized that working for most video games companies would result me getting paid a lot less for working a lot more.  After working 50-60 hour weeks in grad school, I now value my free time highly.  I’m not going to work for a company that expects me to work more than 40 hours a week for a salaried position.   If I was paid hourly, then I might consider it, but that is rarely the case in my line of work.

So I don’t work for a game company, and I’ve currently no intention (or the means) to start my own.  That doesn’t mean I can’t make games in my free time.  I’ve done it before, although it often ends in failure.  So why am I not doing that now?  A couple of reasons: making games requires so much effort.  Even making something simple like pong can exhausting.  Which brings me to my second reason: I’m already program for 40 hours a week.  That makes it hard to come home, sit down in front of a computer, and spend even more time programming when I have other hobbies I could be spending time on.  The games I’ve worked on are (usually) more interesting than what I’m working on at work, so once I “hit my stride”, it becomes really easy to come home and work on a game (until you hit a wall).  The hard part is the considerable effort I need to put in before I hit my stride.  So basically, I wanna make a game, but I don’t really feel like it.

String Theory

I recently had the following thought: I want to have a bass and guitar with thicker strings for when I want to play something in drop C, or some other lower tuning.  My first idea is to just buy thicker strings and put them on my main bass/guitar, but I feel like I’d be shooting myself in the foot when I want to play something in standard tuning, as I often do.  So my second idea is to buy a new bass and guitar for the heavier strings.  But it does seem a bit silly to buy a second set (probably) identical instruments just to put thicker strings on it.  Also, if I buy a new bass, I’m going to get a fretless one.

Then it hit me: my first bass and guitar have been sitting on their respective racks, collecting dust.  It’s kinda sad to have instruments that are that neglected, so why not put new, thicker strings on them?  Because there’s a reason why they’ve been collecting dust: my new bass and guitar are better than them in every way possible.  But what if I made them suck significantly less?  I could put new electronics in them, replace bridges, etc.  Do I know how to do any of that?  Not at all.  And what better way to learn than to fix up your old, unloved instruments?  But that’s the problem: they unused, but not unloved.  Those are my babies, and I’d rather not accidentally ruin them because I have no idea what I’m doing.  So for now, my dusty instruments will likely continue to remain dusty until I gather the courage to do something with them.

The Om-Est of the Noms

This isn't even my final form!

It’s a surprisingly warm Saturday in March, which means it’s a good day for grilling.  As you can imagine, I’ve been excited about this all week long.  This has been the high point of my week, which might say a lot about the current state of my life…but that’s besides the point.  My point is that I’m going to put several pounds of grilled meat into my mouth over the course of 30 hours.  At some point this week, the part of me that enjoys no longer being fat asked the part of me that likes eating the following question: “How much weight will I gain from all this gluttonous activity?”

So I did the math (I did the monster math) and found out that I’d be consuming almost 8000 calories.  Given that I burn about 4200 calories over two days just from not being dead, I end up with a ~3800 calorie surplus, which results in gaining 1 lb of fat.  And this is just from grilled meat and the appropriate side dishes.  Of course, ~3800 this is an upper-bound.  I didn’t take into consideration things like how much fat will drip off of my burgers while on the grill.  Regardless, it’s still a lot of calories.  The part of me that would like to continue not being fat thinks I should think of ways to bring that number down (e.g., use leaner beef for my burgers); however, the point of BBQing is to eat tasty food until you’re so full, you regret every decision leading up to you being in that state.

Oh, and by the way, I’ve been stuck on week 3 on my journey to 100 pushups for the past 2 weeks.  I guess I shall never be swole.  And yet, I still refuse to give up.  I guess that’s just my ninja way.

An Unbelievable Amount of Push-Ups

Let me tell you a story: when I was much younger, I took martial arts classes for about a year (Tang Soo Do to be exact).  When I first started, I couldn’t do even 10 push-ups or sit-ups.  By the time I quit a year later, I could manage to pump out 50 push-ups and 200+ sit-ups.  I don’t know how many more sit-ups I could do at the time since I didn’t stop at 200 because I couldn’t do any more, I stopped because I was bored.  My point is this: I don’t think I’ve ever been (relatively) stronger than I was at that time.  So when I’m told that there’s a training program that can get me doing 100 push-ups in 6 weeks, I call shenanigans on that.

And yet, for reasons undefined, I decided to give the 100 push-ups thing a try.  So I did the initial test to see how many push-ups I could do, which would in turn determine regiment to start on: I could barely manage 15.  I know, I’m so strong.  Terry Crews has nothing on me.  Unfortunately, the program agrees with me, so I ended up on the hardest regiment.  After barely surviving the first week, my muscles were telling me that this was an awful idea.  I was positive my body was going to melt if I did another push-up ever again.  Luckily, my body is still intact after week 2.  I can’t always be right, it seems.  I still don’t think I’ll be able to pump out 100 push-ups after 4 more weeks, but I’ll make sure to write all about it regardless of the results.  I also need to make a will, just in case.

Spirited Away

I’ve been neglecting my blog, I’ll readily admit that.  So I recently decided that I should stop being terrible and update it.  However, I was quite surprised to find out that my blog was in a state of non-existence.  Did I forget to pay some bill?  Of course not.  Did I ignore some email telling me that I should do something so my blog doesn’t die a premature death?  Nope, that didn’t seem to be the case.  What happened was my web host, E-Rice, just disappeared into the ether.  Poof.  Now, you’d think that I would have learned my lesson from the last time I almost lost my blog about a year ago (due to completely ignoring relevant emails) and regularly back things up.  That would be the sensible thing to do after such a situation, so I most certainly did no such thing.  I have a backup, but it’s not nearly recent enough.  So, I decided to just start over instead of trying to piece things together from my inconsistent backups.

So, I’m now using Nearly Free Speech for my hosting needs.  They’re a bit more expensive than the $10 a year I was paying for E-Rice (I get what I pay for, apparently), but their servers seem far less likely to be spirited away, so I’m hoping it’s worth it.  Also, I have ssh access to the server and can use Python, which is always a plus.  Since I’ve gone though all this effort, I’m going to make an attempt to post at least twice a month.  That’s 22 post over the course of this year.  Also, I need to find/make a superior template for my blog.  I think I can do better than the default template.  Big things are happening soon, people.  Big.  Things.