Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Prescience Of Atlas Shrugged

— Matt Harris @ 6:40 pm

In order to get my myself in the right mindset for the tea parties that I planned on attending, I checked out Atlas Shrugged from the library and started to reread it. Being as it was over 1100 pages long and I got distracted by Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, I didn’t finish it until Sunday.

I was going to do a review, but Bruce Webster at And Still I Persist posted one last Friday, so I will just link to his and add a few comments of my own.

I pretty much agree with everything Mr. Webster says. The characters are very one-dimensional. The heroes are incredibly competent and focused and the villains are weak, whiny, and duplicitous. The book is full of speeches and could use a great deal of trimming. I admit, I skimmed through the huge John Galt speech at the end.

Despite the flaws, I still found the book very compelling… and very depressing. The way the economic situation is described seems eerily similar to what I see happening now. The book starts in an economic slump caused by government mismanagement. Each step taken by the government to fix the economy involves government seizing more and more control of said economy. Each step then results in driving more and more productive people out of the economy, making things progressively worse. By the end of the book, civilization has been destroyed by bureaucrats who kept saying they were fixing things.

Some things that struck me when I was reading the novel:

One last note – one of the best speeches in the book, Francisco d’Anconia’s exhortation on the benefits of money, has been posted in various places around the web and is worth reading.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dissociated Mechanics

— Matt Harris @ 2:06 pm

The D&D Contact mailing list I am on referred to this 2008 article on the skill system in 4th Edition D&D. I found the article to provide some very interesting insights into game mechanics and game design, further reinforcing my belief that 4th edition is not for me.

Note: I haven’t played 4th edition, nor do I own a copy of the rules, but I have picked up smatterings of it here and there.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Impractical Wisdumb of Bob Tzu

— Matt Harris @ 5:06 pm

Found via the This Is True weekly e-mail, enter Duhism, the philosophy of Lao Tzu’s dum American brother, Bob Tzu.

It is a fairly funny site, although I think the joke might go stale fairly easily.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Went Down To The Demonstration, To Get My Fair Share Of Abuse

— Matt Harris @ 5:59 pm

Well, three demonstrations actually – I went to three of the tax day Tea Parties yesterday. These were the first ever protests I have attended and I found them to be pretty impressive. No abuse to be found, however ;-).

I took my new digital camera with me and learned that I am a really lousy photographer, as you can see below:

Glendale
The Glendale Tea Party was held outside Glendale City Hall, from Noon to 2:00 PM. There were a couple of speakers – the organizer Debi Devens spoke and comedian Evan Sayet also spoke. There was some assistant to a state legislator there, but he wasn’t as good as the other two.

I estimated turnout to be 400 to 500 people and then asked one of the police officers in attendance what he thought. He said he thought there were about 400 or so. Other estimates I have seen on the web say 250-300, but I think there were a few more than that.

Not a whole lot of media showed up. KTLA 5 and KCAL 9 had vans there. I saw some people who wore stuff for PJTV and Reason TV as well.

The Glendale photos I took turned out the best:

Glendale Tea Party Crowd Photo 04-15-09 No 1

Glendale Tea Party Crowd Photo 04-15-09 No 2

Glendale Tea Party Crowd Photo 04-15-09 No 3

Burbank
John and Ken (local radio talk show hosts on KFI) did live broadcast outside the Republican Party Headquarters in Burbank from 4 PM to 5 PM. This wasn’t really a tea party – just their show, but I am guessing about a hundred people showed up. It is my understanding that it was a last minute thing they threw together. They spent a good portion of the show chewing out a Republican Party Spokesman for waffling about supporting Propositions 1A through 1F.

One interesting item is that the office was closed and locked. Strange to see in the middle of the day.

Only one half-way decent photo of the event. This is what I get for playing with the settings on my digital camera without really knowing what I am doing:

Burbank Tea Party Crowd Photo 04-15-09 No 1

Van Nuys
The best Tea Party I went to was the one held at the Van Nuys courthouse. The official start time was 7:00 PM but people started showing up by 6 PM. My estimate was that between 2,000 and 3,000 people showed up. On the Kevin James show later in the evening, he said that the police estimate was almost 3,000 attendees.

The Van Nuys event also had a pretty impressive speaker list:

  1. Kevin James – Local talk radio host on 870 KRLA from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM
  2. Michael Patrick Leahy – Host of Top Conservatives on Twitter
  3. Stephen Kruiser – Comedian and Blogger.
  4. Evan Sayet – Comedian. He spoke earlier at Glendale as well.
  5. Morgan Brittany – Actress and former Dallas cast member.
  6. Victoria Jackson – Actress and former Saturday Night Live cast member.
  7. Mr. E Pluribus – Online TV Show host.

Only a couple of photos, which I took about a half-hour prior to the start of the event:

Van Nuys Tea Party Crowd Photo 04-15-09 No 1

Van Nuys Tea Party Crowd Photo 04-15-09 No 2

General Impressions
There were a few things that really struck me about the Glendale and Van Nuys Tea Parties:

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