Monthly Archives: June 2006

End Gerrymandering Now


Simply put, the way House seats and state legislature seats are determined right now is full of corruption, and is inherently undemocratic.  Elected officials, given the right to draw district lines, can shape the districts as they so choose to advantage themselves and shut out their opponents.  Even when parties have a balance of power, districts are drawn such that they are so predominatly Democratic or Republican, which the other party goes along with because they’re getting their own territory at the same time.  Our country is analyzed, counted, charted, parceled out and divided up, all so no incumbent will ever have to face losing an election.

In almost every district in the United States, your vote for the House of Representatives literally does not, and cannot, matter.

This has been going on as long as there have been districts to redraw and politicians to redraw them.  But in the last few decades, its gotten especially nasty and absurd.  Here’s Louisiana’s 7 voting districts.

How does this happen?  Louisiana has 7 representatives districts.  This is determined by the census and population figures.  Who draws those districts?  Politicians, who have agendas, typically the banal agenda of personal stability and party cronyism.

There have been experiments with having non-partisan groups or computers draw voting districts, which is certainly an improvment on political redistricting, but there is still a fatal flaw:  these districts must be approved by politicians, who will not do so if it does not serve their agenda.

The solution is to do away entirely with voting districts and switch to a system of proportional representation.  That is to say, on election day, the Louisiana voters don’t vote for a person, they vote for a Political Party (which really isn’t that far from how most US voters act anyways).  And suppose after the polls close, the Democrats have roughly 5/7 of the vote, and the Republicans have 2/7 (to pick a number out of thin air that is probably not actually representative at all of Louisiana politics).  Louisiana Democrats would send 5 representatives to Washington, chosen by the party from a party list.  In states with open primaries, such as Wisconsin, it is likely that the order of the list would be determined in advance by voters.

There are many benefits to this system.  It allows for fifty statewide elections instead of over four-hundred local elections.  It far more accurately represents the will of the people than the current system.  It minimizes campaign costs.  ‘Pork’-style legislation will be lowered, since representatives have an entire state to cater to, not a tiny district that therefore must recieve some federal funds.

Best of all, since redistricting is done on a state level, it only takes one state to do this on their own; no national push is necessary.  All it takes is for one state to do it on its own, one progressively and rationally minded state to start the big switchover.  Others will follow, others won’t, but our nation will be better for it.

I’m Free!

I got out of the hospital yesterday- they took out my catheter and an absurd amount of internal packing, and I immediately felt better. I had to wait around a bit for the doctor to sign my release form.

It was wonderful to be out and about! Mom drove me around town. I really didn’t have any energy (standing up and walking around still takes quite a bit out of me), but the change of scenery was great. I pretty much hung around the hotel watching TBS and lying around.

Today I was pretty exhausted after taking my shower, but after we drove around, I was able to walk about, and had a really good lunch at a local restaurant called Blackjacks. Fun fact: Blackjacks was a brothel during the 1920s.

So I’m out, feeling better, and with questionable internet access.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled ranting.

Day 8: Catheters and More!

I’m slated to be released tomorrow! Woohoo!

Yesterday I was really dizzy in the morning. They had me go take a shower, and I had a pretty bad spell. I didn’t fall down or lose consciousness or anything, but it was not a good time. Today they made me sit in a chair during my shower and have a nurse right nearby. At least I was able to wash myself.

There is someone in my ward who is constantly coughing and/or throwing up very loudly.

Since I get my catheter out tomorrow, I want to address the topic of catheters: They are not as fun as they sound. When I first got it, I was all like “sweet! I don’t have to get up to go to the bathroom!” While the catheter does offer convienience, there is a tradeoff- its not comfortable. It tricks your bladder into thinking its peeing all the time. Its kind of a weird sensation, like always sortof having to go to the bathroom. Not really painful or anything (usually), but definetely annoying.

I do not recommend catheters as a gaming accessory; while they will allow you to increase the ammount of time you spend playing Guild Wars (especially when coupled with an IV), its just not worth it.

Also, you have to carry a bag of your own urine every where you go. Maybe someday this will catch on. “Darling, it is the latest fashion from Milan. Everyone can see that I am too rich, attractive, and important to waste time going to the bathroom. And it matches my shoes.”

Day 6: I Have Returned!

Day 3 The Big Deal

Went to the hospital to check in. I was so thirsty, since I wasn't allowed to drink (or for that matter, eat anything.)

At the hospital, got changed into a gown, and given an enema. Which was nasty, but not as nasty as the Ginseng Lemon Saline laxative experience.

Around 11 I was sent into the queue for the OR, and I didn't get anesthetized until at least noon. Nurses kept asking me if they could get me anything, to which I usually replied with “a cheeseburger.” None of them actually brought me a cheeseburger.

Tuesday night I was drugged out of my mind.

Day 4 & 5: Recovery

Wednesday was a long, long haze. I was on morphine, and any level of concentration made me incredibly queasy. Reading the Phantom Tool Booth was just too much.

Thinks started getting much better on Thursday. My IV came out. I was eating more, got to stand up out of bed for the first time in forty eight hours, although it tended to make me woozy. I got to take a nice shower, but wasn't feeling up to walking back to the room, so I took a wheelchair.

I drank some Mountain Dew for the first time in a while, since I was feeling better (in terms of pain), and really needed something sugary and caffeinated. I drank more than I probably should have- two of those mini cans, and feel asleep for a nap around 2.

Around 5 I woke up, and was in a lot of pain. I buzzed hospital staff, told them I was in pain and needed some pills. They said they'd come right by. No one came for over 20 minutes, and I buzzed them again and finally got someone to come down. I was just about in agony. It turns out that my urine bag attached to my catheter was full, and so my urine didn't have anywhere to go. My bladder was straining itself. They emptied the bag, gave me some pills, and I was better. However, I'm very very pissed off about this (har har, pissed off, get it?) I've talked to one of the Hospital Staff who said she'll look into it for me and talk to her, and offered to file a complaint. I'm also going to make sure to file one personally when I'm ready to leave, because I find is suspicious that she didn't actually ask me to sign anything. There's multiple staff members on duty, and there's no reason they couldn't have sent someone down to check on me during that time. Ignoring someone who has just called you asking for painkillers is so downright neglectful, I don't even have words for it.

So far, day 6 is going great. I couldn't get my wireless to connect, so mom picked up a cheap modem and a free AOL disk, and here I am back on the internet.  I'm more active than ever today- going up and down, to the shower.  My blood drainage tube came out today.  All that's left for cords is the catheter, but that doesn't come out until my very last day here.

Day 2: Adventure!

Mom snores.

Breakfast at the Best Western was subpar.  It's my understanding that all Best Westerns are required to provide a free breakfast with at least two hot items.  Maybe it's the fact that we came down late, but there wasn't much good stuff.  I'm not really that big of a breakfast person anyway.  I had a bagel, some juice, and what little leftovers there were from last night's dinner at Applebees.  (Not much.  Mom and I were really hungry last night.)

So the pre-operative consulation with the doctor was at noon, and I didn't get out of there until two (there was a lot of waiting- she's a very busy lady).  I had some forms I had to take over to the main administrative desk, which was hard to find since they just remodeled their main offices.  There was some confusion about whether I was at the right place (I was) and whether I needed an EKG (I didn't), and they gave me some pamplets on living wills (oh god!) and sent me off to the lab to get blood drawn.

I've had blood drawn before, and consider myself not freaked out about it.  However, considerably more blood was drawn than I am typically used to.  That, coupled with the fact that I hadn't had much to eat that day left me extremely light headed as I walked back to the lobby.  There were some pillars at the edge, so I decided to prop myself up against one for a minute.

The next thing I remember, I was on the floor, wondering why I was on the floor, with lots of people coming by trying to help me.  (If you're going to lose consciousness somewhere, do it in a hospital.)   Mom was reading in the waiting room, but showed up about this time, wanting to see what the fuss was about, and then finding out it was about me.

So they put me in a wheelchair and took me to a patient's room, took a blood sugar reading, a blood pressure reading, put me some oxygen and gave me some juice.

A doctor came by and suggested I get a CAT scan- alledgedly an eye witness said I fell and hit my head, but based on my positioning before I lost consciousness, the fact that I woke up on my side, and that there wasn't any pain or swelling I was skeptical.  My mom got ahold of the doctor who's actually going to be treating me tomorrow, and she agreed.  So I got out of there without any expensive tests.

Ooh, and I had to take a laxative this afternoon, so I'm not allowed to eat solid food.  That's a whole different pile of 'fun.' 

Day 1

I've got a laptop now (a gift from the younger brother), got a wireless card on it, and the hotel I'm at has internet.  So here I am.

It's been a long hard day of travel.  I'm pretty darn tuckered out right now.  Surgery is on Tuesday.

On A Most Disastrous Invention

Willow is currently undergoing surgery.  Please enjoy this classic edition of This Way Lies Madness.  It originally appeared June 10th, 1765 in Duchess Wilhemina's correspondence to the Count of Hampton-Cross-Vandingburg.  It was published in 1775, as part of a commentary on the sad state of gaming in the colonies.

I had the questionable honor of being allowed to partake in cardplay of one notable John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwhich.  While this is a rare occasion for noblewomen, afforded to me only by my most scathing analysis of the Wrightford Double-Nought Stratagem, I must afford unto you that I have met better card players, better Cards, and better Players, should you catch my innuendo.

The game of the night was the Oxford Forths Exchange (Westbury Variant), which I had not previously played but was familiar with by reputation.  As far as the Exchange family of card play goes, it is an inferior game to the more common Oxford Forths, primarily due to the presence of the "Counter-Duece-Round" rule and the overly-simplified scoring system.  I say, is it truly that difficult to recall that a single eliminated eight is worth seven points, plus one for a club, plus five for each additional eight, doubled if the player's reserve contains a One-Eyed Jack, unless the Challenge Rule has been activated?  It surpasses the Cartford "Whiffle" Exchange, which is perhaps the best thing I can say about it.

Our Host, the Earl, was most pleased with himself over his newest "invention," an abomination against science, God, and table manners.  Because of his sloth, commensurate to his mishandling of our nation's naval affairs, he refuses to leave the table whilst playing for any reason.  I will leave the more nuanced results of this to your imagination, but cardplay with the Earl is not for the faint of heart.

This physical manifestation of hubris is made with two slices of bread, with various meats placed within.  It is stuffed by hand into one's gaping maw, without any concern for cordiality.  In his narcissism, the Earl has named it after himself.

I do declare that this so-called "Sandwich" will never catch on.


Wilhemina, Duchess of Painfyre

Under the Knife

Next Tuesday I'll be going in for surgery.  I've known about this a long time, and I'm even looking forward to it, but it's going to be a big ordeal.  Internet access will be sporadic at best, and probably also influenced by heavy dosages of painkillers.  If I can, I'll post updates here about what's going on.  Wish me luck.

You Know What’s Awesome? Burning Wheel!

While the jury is still out for me on the coolness of Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits, I have to say that I'm mighty impressed by the wheel/spokes.

I am super keen on this part of BW:  you've got a couple of core mechanics.  If you want, you could play with just those.  Then you've got some mechanics that are more complicated, and you use them when you want to amp up the crunch and the tension.  Then you've got your subsystems, and your degrees of crunch in those.  It all comes together in a really cool way.  (Getting more familiar with the rules helps.)

Fight! and Duel of Wits are also way cooler when it's a character you're emotionally attached to.  That seems like a no-brainer, but emotional attachment is hard to define.  I know one thing for sure:  you aren't going to get it from practice fights putzing around with the Fight! mechanics.  Jernezhasaphat vs. Elf Warrior was cool, but Jess vs. Baron in a duel to the death is awesome!  (High stakes, high tension combat for the win.  And darn, that guy had some good stats.

Shout out here to Daniel, who ran a darn good session.  Of course, 'failure means conflict' helped alot, but that's just more props for Daniel for his implementation of it.

Nonsensical Gaming Notes

Ever found a really weird note from an old game?

I was just going through a stack of important paperwork to be either filed or thrown away, and found this little gem:

"Want to talk in person.  My son may have isues.  Please advise."

Well, I know it's from a Deadlands game, and its a telegraph I sent- but I have no idea why I hung onto that scrap of paper.

Context:  My son was Harrowed.  Hell, I was Harrowed.  And he wasn't actually my son, I was just crazy.  And I was wrting to the Prospector (yes, THAT Prospector, for those of you wise to the ways of the Deadlands metaplot.)