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John McCain Said He Didn’t Love His Country June 30, 2008

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment

Since February, some Republicans have been hammering Michelle Obama for the wording of her comment about being really proud of her country. They have intentionally twisted those words around to mean something entirely different and clearly unintended. This is ridiculous, of course, but if we are playing that game:

John McCain said he didn’t love his country.

In an interview on March 13, 2008, John McCain said, “I didn’t really love America until I was deprived of her company.” In his case, he has even repeated these words, or variations of them, on other occasions.

Watch McCain

Obviously it is absurd to say that either of these people doesn’t love America. Both have sacrificed time, energy and some degree of family life in the name of public service. Their words are clearly being twisted for cheap political gain. Perhaps if we judge them both fairly, then this particular partisan stupidity can finally be laid to rest?

The Element of War June 18, 2008

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : RPGs , 2 comments

(No, this isn’t a political article! It is a discussion of elements of the Exalted role-playing game published by White Wolf.)

The second edition of Exalted merged Brawl and Martial Arts and filled out the combat skills by introducing War to the game’s list of Abilities. For Solar Exalts, the new skill clearly belonged to the Dawn Caste, and this worked neatly as they had lost one favored “Caste Ability” in the process. For Dragon-Blooded character, the decision was less clear, and authors discussed a number of different options. In the end, the War Ability was given to the Earth Aspects. I argued for a different choice (well two different choices, but this article is about my favorite one), and I have decided to present it here for those who like to dabble in home-brewed changes to the system.

Given the hypothetical chance to assign Dragon-Blooded Abilities, I would give War to Fire and Melee to Earth. Each of the five Aspects takes one of the primary combat skills from Exalted, but War naturally underscores the Presence and Socialize skills of the Fire Aspect. From a purely mechanical perspective, having War as your free favored combat ability might seem like drawing the short straw to players who want a more personal fighting skill, but Fire Aspects also have the “secret” sixth combat skill of Dodge. As Athletics also has some combat applications, Fire can best afford to favor the least direct of the combat skills.

Since the very first Exalted book, the Dynasts of the signature Fire-Aspected Houses Sesus and Cathak have been lauded as great generals and military leaders. Indeed, the two Houses boast one third of the total legions of the Realm. Only the Tepet have ever come close to getting the same recognition, but they have become more mercantile since their defeat at the hands of the Bull of the North, and the other Air-Aspected House is stereotypically composed of scholarly types. Finally, the Second Edition signature NPC Dragon-Blooded is a Fire Aspect, and he is best known as a legion officer.

Giving Earth Aspects the Melee Ability instead of War ties their combat skill more closely to their other existing talents. Earth Aspects favor Craft, so one can readily imagine them crafting their own weapons. The imagery of the Earth Aspect includes the mighty hammer or tetsubo. The signature Earth Houses, Mnemon and Ragara, are rich and powerful, but they are not known as legendary tactical leaders. The Ragara are merchants and bankers, while Mnemon seems determined to weld her House into an unstoppable political force bent to her iron will. Signature characters of Earth Aspect are rarely presented as being especially skilled in the arts of military strategy when compared to their fellow Dragon-Blooded.

Check out my Wiki for more RPG discussions.

Big Corporations Don’t Pay Taxes June 11, 2008

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment

I didn’t say it. Republican strategist Ed Rollins, and former Huckabee national campaign chairman, said it tonight on CNN.

There is a nationwide political discussion about taxing record-earning large oil companies and providing incentives to those who try to create alternative (renewable) energy resources.

Republican strategist Ed Rollins said that the rich will make out no matter what the tax system is. He also said that in his experience big corporations don’t pay taxes. I am not sure what he meant exactly by the statement about the rich, but he explained that he meant that big corporations didn’t pay taxes because they passed them on to consumers. (Which is related to the Obama argument against removing the gas tax: the idea that the corporations will not pass all of those savings on to the consumers.)

I don’t think that anybody should have to pay more than his “fair” share of taxes. We can argue a lot about what that really means, of course. Regardless, I definitely think that some sort of government incentive to encourage the use of renewable energy resources is ethically mandatory (if our world is to survive) and the patriotic thing to do (if our nation is to survive). I also happen to share the view of the true fiscal-conservatives that these sorts of things should be paid-for within the budget rather than thrown onto the already absurd multi-trillion debt-pile of our descendants.

June 3rd makes History June 6, 2008

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment


I have been watching to make sure that somehow a good thing didn’t turn out to be a dream. On June 3rd, Barack Obama finally clinched the required number of delegates to gain the Democratic Party nomination for President in the 2008 Presidential Election. Initially it looked like Hillary Clinton might somehow try to fight the nomination, so I held my breath for a bit to see what might happen. Friends of mine greeted me the next day to pick with me about his victory, since I have been such an obvious supporter for a long time. Even though I was happy that he had won, I was careful to remind them that the primary season might not be over yet. Indeed, I remember on the night when he gained that vote, and gave a speech, I was even afraid that some psycho might take it all away in a single shot.

America has turned a corner, though. Obama really did win the nomination, and if all goes well he will win the Presidency. His primary victory has already improved the image of America in some parts of the world, and if he wins it is likely to improve even more. There is a sense that we have finally realized the dream of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. There is a sense that we are as tired of the antagonistic policies of the most recent administration as the rest of the world is…

Larry King busts on FOX June 6, 2008

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment

It has been a long time since I have been able to watch FOX “news” without thinking that they have become a direct mouthpiece of the right. Indeed, they are so far to the right that they have dragged the entire news industry to the right of center. Those who used to call mainstream media “liberal” were always lying, but now it is difficult to even find mainstream media which is centrist. Even CNN has shifted to the right. CNN International seems a little more centrist to me than the American arm of the network, but friends from Europe and Iceland pretty fervently disagree with me on this.

Anyway, tonight Larry King was interviewing comedian Kathy Griffin and she jokingly accused him of making something up. He responded with something along the lines of “this isn’t FOX” and I had to laugh out loud. I think it is about time some other news network called FOX on their shenanigans, and I hope this marks a move back towards the center on CNN’s part.

Sharon Stone and the Right Wing June 4, 2008

Posted by Conrad Hubbard in : The Chip , add a comment

If there is one thing that I have recently seen that the left and the right share to some degree, it is the art of absurd declarations that those with whom they disagree have somehow indiscriminately invoked the rightful wrath of whatever forces make bad things happen to people.

John Hagee and other conservative religious advocates have proclaimed that God threw Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans to punish us for sins and homosexuality. If you Google for “katrina punishment from god” there is plenty of evidence that many other conservatives feel similarly. Uh, yeah, because God is a loving God?

For a long time, I felt such absurdities were the domain of the right wing. Sadly, such is not the case. Recently, actress Sharon Stone said that the tragic earthquake in the Sichuan province of China may have been the result of bad “karma” due to the nation’s treatment of Tibet. While I agree with her assessment that the government of China has poorly treated Tibet, the idea that the innocent citizens of the Sichuan province have been somehow targeted by an earthquake because of the actions of a totalitarian regime is absurd. One important difference between her actions and those of her mirrors in the right wing is that at least she has apologized.

If there is divine vengeance or karma in the world, I doubt that the lives of thousands of innocent people are randomly destroyed for the express purpose of punishing a few fascists or free-thinkers. At least I hope not. If so, then I would be distressed by the idea that the moral compass of the universe would target innocents atomically. Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes hope that bad things will happen to bad people, but why would people hope for bad things to happen to innocent folks in the process?