mneme: (Default)
Ok, so here's an idea for a somewhat uncomfortably realistic Mafia-style game:

You, the players, are the President of the USA, his VP, and his cabinet.
You are also all completely and utterly corrupt, and can be forced to resign by someone revealing all your dirty laundry.
Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for the American people), there are a number of traitors in your cabinet (or even the President or VP) who are very willing to reveal people's dirty secrets.
Naturally, nobody except each other know who the traitors are.

The game is divided into week and weekend turns.

On each weekend, while everyone's off on vacation(eyes closed), the traitors collectively decide which non-traitor's secrets to reveal and that person resigns (over the course of this game, there is not time to replace empty positions). They cannot do this to the President unless they have no other choice.

During the week, the President decides who to fire, though that can be blocked by a majority of the rest of the cabinet (including the VP). Or, with a majority of the remaining players, the cabinet can unseat the sitting President.

If at any time, there are no traitors remaining, the Administration is saved (the American public...not so much).

If, however, the cabinet is ever composed of a majority of traitors, then they can discredit the rest of the administration and save the country. Yay!

To set up the game, deal out playing cards face up to determine positions; the highest Spade (ace is high) is the President, the others should decide on their own positions in descending order, suit first (SHDC, of course), then number within suit.

Then gather up the cards and use one card for each player, starting with one black suited card for every 7 players (round up), and filling in with red cards. These cards should be mixed and dealt out face down; if you get a black face-down card, you're a traitor, otherwise you're a loyal member of the administration.

Someone should not play and moderate -- or you can start with a week and just have the President fire someone to be moderator to start (realism is, of course, paramount). See the comments for a sample moderator script.
mneme: (harp2)
Kathy Mar's wonderful Drink Up the River has long been a mainstay of my filking -- and I've had occasion to bring it back to the forefront given our current troubles. But as much as I love the song, it was pretty clearly written in '88, and while the nativism of this decades echoes that of three decades ago, it's hardly identical; more, while there's plenty of anti-science talk, the universal adoption of the web has clearly changed its focus and tenor.

So I've written an updated version entirely keeping Kathy's first and last verses identical, while switching out the middle verses for ones a bit more suited to our times (which, not that surprisingly, are -still- based around immigration and science/technology). (although it's trivial to add her Technology verse back in if one wants an extra verse, as the two are basically non-overlapping). Feel free to share and use with love.

Drink Up the River (2017 JK remix)
Copyright 2017 Joshua Kronengold (with a lot of incorporated and/or adapted suggestions from Lee Gold), to the tune of and heavily reusing the 1988
Drink up the River by Kathy Mar


I was sitting by a river, when a thought occurred to me:
There are a hundred thousand rivers that we never even see,
They are the boundaries of all we know--of truth and right and wrong,
And I have written some examples for you here within my song.

Some are bridged and some are forded--some are swollen from the rain,
Some are the ultimate result of all our joys and all our pain,
But when the rivers in your life are full, and starting to wash down,
You've gotta drink up the river,
Before you drown.

[Chorus]
You gotta drink up the river x 3
Before you drown
You gotta drink up the river x 3
Before you drown

Throughout our nation's history, in times of peace and war,
An overwhelming wave of refugees have washed up on our shore,
They fled from death and persecution, and from poverty and pain,
And they made our country greater, as they strove to rise again.

But immigrants are turned away, "they're terrorists" we cry,
Or we say they'll take our jobs away, so passage we deny,
Our nation's based on courage, should we let the helpless down?
No--We must drink up that river, before we drown,

[chorus]

Since we learned to kindle fire, we have sought to understand,
How life began, how lightning works, the sea, the sky, the land,
And our science brings us wonders, as we wage a war with death,
And spin a World Wide Web of friendship nearly limitless in breadth.

Yet some folks are scared of Science, 'cause it means that nothing's sure.
They don't want its doubts and warnings, and they've learned to fear its cures.
We must not close our eyes, but keep on looking all around,
That's how we'll drink up that river, before we drown.

[Chorus]

There's a river of humanity that's passing through your life,
There is a sea of heavy sorrows and a stream of pain and strife,
There is a river of tomorrow that will carry you away,
And there's an ocean full of endless love to fill each passing day,
There are rivers all around you, in the life you have to live--
All the rivers you've been given and the ones you have to give,
So sing out this final message to the people all around,
You've got to drink up the river before you drown

[Chorus] x 2
mneme: (Default)
Since nobody else seems to have beaten me to the punch (and why not? Even if his sex life is none of our business, his platform -makes- it our business, as do his Princess Bride impressions):


People keep wondering how Cruz got 5 women to sleep with him that weren't his wife. I'm guessing he took Miracle Pills. Or maybe they had the wine in front of him (Sorry, tried really hard to not make this a rape joke, but it writes itself :( )

Cruz keeps talking about "family values." I do not think those words mean what he thinks they mean.

Before this scandal broke, Cruz's campaign was only mostly dead. Now the only thing we can really do is go through it's pockets for loose change. Like these jokes.
mneme: (Default)
I'm not particularly closed about being a life-long Democrat.

That said -- having come this morning from voting a party-line Democratic ticket...my politics are a lot more complex than "I vote for the Democrats, no matter what." If anything, it's more "the weaknesses of the Democratic party are ones I care about somewhat less than my utter repugnance for some of the goals of the Republican party, and I'm not interested in voting for candidates with no chance when I believe there's a difference." So in light of that, a bit about what I actually think.

1. I don't want to be hurt, and support governmental things that protect me. I like laws against theft and murder and fraud, and police and fire departments, and a plausible and effective army, because one of the things the government does is protect people from accidents and other pepople (one of the primary things, in fact). I extend "me" to anything sentient, within limits of authority (whether or not it's human). I don't extend "me" to anything non-sentient (whether or not it's human -- and whether or not it -could- become sentient at some later date).

2. I think that overall, people deserve to be left alone and allowed to do what they want (assuming it doesn't voilate #1)--and that government isn't fundamentally a good tool for shaping/reshaping society, but -is- a good tool for enforcing agreements among people. So I think the government has a role in helping enforce contracts (including marraige contracts) but I don't think the government should be defining what people and how many should be involved in a contract (including a marraige contract) -- much less deciding what people say, what sexual acts they engage in or what (if anything) they pay for them, what substances they injest or inject into their bodies, or anything else as long as it doesn't directly impact on someone else (sin taxes on tobacco = bad -- for more than one reason; laws saying that non-smokers can practically avoid smoke while going about their business = good, within limits; laws about 32 oz soda = crazy).

3. I'm pretty well convinced that geopolitics is complex. So while I don't like the idea of killing people, much less torturing them (and on a -practical- level will accept that torture doesn't work), I won't accept a flat-out "war is bad" policy. This stuff is complex, and while I'll certainly take into account "this person's foreign affairs are nuts" vs "this person's foreign affairs seem to be reasonable" into account, there's only so much weight I'm willing to give her as it's effectiveness, not just principles, that matter here.

4. As a secondary function, I think that government can be effective and is useful at providing "collective good" services -- and that, in fact, it is our responsibility, where possible without interfering in society adversely (which I think it is) for us to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves -- and provide a safety net for to make sure that people do not unecessarily and unreasonably come to harm. This includes social services like medicare and food stamps, unemployment services/funds, publically provided education and the post office (which is, in fact, in the black, but that's another topic), providing a source of education, etc--and that often, the government is going to be more efficient at these topics than private industry (although it's good to have a give and take, as private industry will usually be less efficient but more inovative).

5. I think that in order to fund its primary and secondary functions, it's reasonable for the government to tax people. That said, I think that taxation should take a greater percentage from those most able to bear the cost (that is, I support progressive taxation and disdain regressive taxation). This also means that I hate and would love to abolish/make progressive all currently regressive taxes -- including sales tax, sin taxes (see above), and social security taxes -- all of which hit lower income people for a greater percentage of their income than they hit higher income people. I do understand that progressive taxes can have negative effects (both on the system as a whole and in causing people to officially "move" somewhere else) but think that they also have positive effects (partially countering the way that concentrations of wealth can be significant inefficiencies and sources of harm), that most negative effects can be avoided by not going overboard (no Carter-era 75% marginal tax rates) and that while migration is a serious problem (given that in general, high mobility is a good), that this isn't as much of a problem as it could be and that it's possible that something radical (I could even consider taxing land or property, rather than income) would work as a solution here.

6. I think that people should be able to make money by engaging in creative work that doesn't produce physical goods (hell, I do that, though it's programming, not trying to make money from my writing or whatnot). But that, contrary to where far too much global thought has considered intelectual property a source of wealth, I consider it a qualified evil -- a granted monopoly that actively hurts everyone except the grantee far more than it helps the grantee (or encourages the grantee to make stuff) most of the time. This is my starting point--I don't necessarily call for the repeal of all intellectual property (although it's one option, and I'm pretty confident, given that people like getting new stuff, that there would continue to be large markets for creative stuff and that, at least after the shakedown, authors and painters and musicians would not, in fact, starve--they'd be freeer to create based on whatever influences went past their (our) eyes and people would figure out a way to pay them to make cool stuff), but our current system is insanely out of hand.

7. For the most part, my life is not enriched by spending large amounts of time talking/writing about politics. So I don't.

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Joshua Kronengold

May 2017

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