I've tried to progressively improve my awareness of local/state politics over the years. For the upcoming primary I finally now sat down to read the official information guide cover to cover.
It started out okay, but as the above image indicates, quickly devolved into a wtf.
Prop 50, so far so good
Okay so in light of some recent legal issues in the state assembly, there's a proposition to withold pay for legislators that have been suspended by a 2/3 vote - generally following a criminal indictment. Seems reasonable, why pay an (alleged) criminal who can't vote anyway? Can go either way depending on how you view the 'alleged' bit.
The fun part is, assemblymen can currently be suspended with pay with only a majority vote. They can be expelled (without pay, duh) with a 2/3 vote.
So on its face, the prop looks harsh on potential wrongdoers, but actually raises the bar for suspending them.
A pessimest/Machiavellian might wonder if assemblymen are ever suspended for political reasons. The California Secretary of State seemed to indicate this simply doesn ot happen.
The candidates, now it gets real
The rest of the brief was dedicated to candidates. Since it's a primary, you have to figure there's going to be some smalltime politicians, sure. But they're all for a US Senate seat, so we're not talking about obscure local hopefuls, right?
What follows are their supplied statements, while I have no doubt added a transcription error or two, the statements are rife with grammatical and spelling issues. Yeah.
Okay you do this for a living
Loretta L. Sanchez, Duf Sundheim, Tom Palzer, Greg Conlon, Von Hougo, Kamala D. Harris, and Don Krampe, you seem to at least have your act together, even if it includes nuggets like:
I was the Republican nominee for State Treasurer in 2014 and garnered almost 3.0 million votes.
Whenever a Bill is coming before the Senate, you will be sent a text or email notification.
TEAM - Together Everyone Achieves More.
I was born in Oakland.
You're hoping people just like your name?
A lot of candidates supplied only a token line for (what I would hope) is the primary means to get their message out.
Pamela Elizondo, Green
Ah, right, why read a state-supplied voter information booklet when I can check your Facebook? Could you have at least copy-pasted your recent status updates though?
It is a good thing; the ballot is littered with Magna Carta-loving Ottomanists.
Don J. Grundmann, Independent
Will do, Don. Will do.
Karen Roseberry, Republican
*S.A.V.E. the future!*
Scorch And Vaporize Entirely? Stop Autonomous Vehicles Eroding? Start A Viral Epidemic?
Jason Hanania, Independent
0x65. e. No, just shut up. Shut up.
Akinyemi Olabode Agbede, Democrat
Rescue America! Rescue America!! Rescue America!!! Californian! Let us together rescue America from turning into a third world country. Enough is enough of American deep suffering. People in Washington has collapsed this country. Therefore, electing Dr. Akinyemi Agbede, as your next United States senator representing the golden state of California 2016 is the answer in order for our country to be reclaimed back.<
People in Washington has certainly collapsed this country. Let's go golden state of California 2016!! ! !!!
Run for God's Heart and America's Freedom, challenge 10 giant chaos in economy and economy-related sectors.
Dude, 10 giant chaos in economy is like the main issue facing modern society. Let's get some God's Heart up in that.
Paul Merritt, Independent
California make history . . .
Commas are important.
...elect an independent Senator Merritt. Elect an independent thinker. Elect the person, not the Party-in-power's. Our National government is a shambles. We need a strong USA defense.
I love USA defense!
Merritt is solid on international issues. I believe in Faith, respect people and all religions.
Chris believes you but I'm not sure about bouncing between first- and third-person. Respect imperative statements.
Merritt supports Senator Feinstein's boarder security fence, no offshore oil drilling, and our desert environmental protection Act.
Whew, if there's one thing that keeps boarders at bay, it's a fence. We are saved from our pirate epidemic.
Merritt adheres that President Reagan's idea on small government is best.
I adhere ya on that!
Background: two law degrees, broker, hotel owner, elected city councilperson. Homeowner boards: Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Orange County. Life member Nature Conservancy. Most Billionaire Republicans and Union boss Democrats don't represent you! Merritt is Independent for all Citizens. Paul Merritt is a Californian!
. . .
Tim Gildersleeve, Independent
I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I stand for the poor, elderly, and disabled, environmental issues, unions, small business, and represent the average citizen. My website is: http://www.alternativevoiceforamerica.org
President Cristina Grappo, Democrat
My education & expertise merit this prolific occupation in order to represent California, as United Senator. I hold a Democratic Party platform with key issues for gun control, human trafficking, balancing the national deficit, and foreign policy initiatives. I am mainstream Facebook in social media! My core values drive America!
Okay it might be a little confusing to call you United Senator President Grappo, but we'll make it work. Keeping the national deficit balanced is very important, just as gun control and human trafficking are. #IAmSocialMedia
Herbert G. Peters, Democrat
Andrew Jackson Democrat. Our first 70 years; our country grew and flourished. We had no income tax. Motto: Manifest Destiny. Democrat Presidents; were most wise: Andrew Jackson balanced budget seven of eight years. Franklin Pierce vetoed a federal welfare bill. To reverse downward spiral of last 118 years: balance our budget, resist war, reduce costs, reduce taxes, repeal welfare and minimum wage so all can find jobs. Churches and Charities help needful. Reduce oppression: replace income tax with sales tax. Goal: Better life for all.
Herb, I'm not sure your party is the same as it was in 1860- ohhhhhh *whistles*.
Mike Beitiks, Independent
My platform is narrow. It's more of a single board, really. Federal legislators are doing nothing to protect us from the threat of climate change. I will not do nothing. I swear on the graves of future Californians that I will not sacrifice our actual climate to our political climate.
That's kind of morbid, Mike. Solid rationale, but what are you going to do for all that non-climate stuff that Congress does?
Jason Kraus, Independent
Each election Californians are saddled with the same problems, same issues, and same faces. Politicians beg for our money making promises that will never be kept. We must return to basics. Remove all forms of income tax which will increase employment, ignite our economy, and protect our way of life. I have refused all campaign contributions, will not accept a salary, and will only serve ONE term. I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I am an American . . . just like you. Jason Kraus. United States Senate 2017.
You seem to have a narrow platform. More of a single board, really.
Massie Munroe, Democrat
My candidacy represents the United States Constitution, the only contract between the people of America and America's government "Of the people, By the people, For the people" to be restored and strengthened in America and extended to the UN as a contract between all people of our world through US leadership and diplomacy."
International bankers, multinational corporate leaders, militaries and police must all 100% obey, comply with the Constitution of the US/UN in the Spirit of Truth, Serving All in Peace.
Transforming from the Industrial Technology Age to the new "Energy Technology Era" will saturate US job markets for the next 500 years. My campaign represents ending international bankers' rule an their financial exploitation of nations; reestablishing people's rule by creating a Citizen's Bank to serve as America's central bank; ending mind control slavery; ending non-consensual human experimentation; ending hunger, homelessness and violence; protecting earth, water, air, forests, oceans and animals; practicing Christ consciousness and implementing constitutional justice under the leadership of the US/UN.
Good, good, good- wait go back one. Mind control slavery?
Through my national and international research and political activism, I identified "mind control slavery" by satellite energy technology weapons and social engineering programs that have been in continual development for the past 50 years and facilitated their "declassification". As a result, I came under heavy sanctions that are ongoing.
I request you, the voter, to rise above all untrue accusations that assail my good character and heart. See my evidence and review my service. Senator Bernie Sanders' presidency is crucial for bringing this into reality.
We rotated players in and out, so there were a fair number of embarrassing deaths, especially on the boss stages.
So when Rob was down he was kind enough to buy Firewatch for my PS4. I think he intended on a playthrough but never got around to it. Having heard good things I gave it a go on a mellow weeknight.
The prologue is unlike anything I'd played before. I'm not sure if this is for the better or worse, but it introduces a backstory that gives you a massive case of the feels. I think it's about giving you some buyin to your character, but it's not particularly subtle.
After the prologue you're dropped into the main game, which is basically a short story in a 3d sandbox. And that's really the best way to describe it. The game is an exploration of a modest but interesting mystery advanced primarily through dialogue with your Forestry Service boss. The script is nearly perfect - it's clever and funny, it feels human, and it never drags like even Bioware and Bethesda conversations will.
The plot gets creepy at times, but you quickly realize there's no dying in this game; no shooting, not jumping puzzles. It means you're not distracted from the story, but it also means there isn't much traditional gaming tension. And, well, you end up zigzagging across an unnecessarily large map of indie production quality.
As I said, it's like a short story - it's over after about four hours. That's pretty ideal, too much more running around and activating rope anchors might get tiresome.
Solid experience, absolutely worth it for the tight, enthralling script. Could use an autopilot mode, call it FireWATCH.
Ubi dropped its first big patch for The Division. The reception has not been great but without too much firsthand experience I won't get into it.
What would level design be without sophomoric humor.
On the boardgaming front, I recently picked up Nations. It's basically Civilization on the tabletop, except that there's (regrettably?) no concept of geography. You build and improve armies, buildings, and wonders to gain resources and victory points.
The main action is a round robin selection of buildings, advisers, wars, and so forth. There are events like a lightweight Twilight Struggle and a progression of historical ages that up the stakes.
The interplay of players' improvement mats and available cards really keeps things fresh and interesting. We finished a 4up game in about three and a half hours. I could totally see a marathon session where you add a round or two to each age.
Nothing particularly interesting to report outside the media room. Soccer, vball, tennis, and occasional laundry - the usual. So, games...
J came out to visit so we binged on The Division. Any game with teamwork and a loot system is a pretty good draw for us, we were hoping Ubi would execute better than Bungie did with Destiny.
And teamwork is pretty important. While we never expanded our fireteam beyond two, the benefits of complementary skills, items selections, and tactics is pretty obvious. And in contrast to the Borderlands 2 endgame, there really doesn't seem to be a dominant set of skills/items/tactics.
Cosmetic modifications aside, the skills/inventory system is pretty deep. Weapons and armor all have rarity, modifiers, and special bonuses. There are usable skills and passive traits. Vending and simple crafting, too.
I'm saying this about most games nowadays (maybe not below), but the graphics and ambiance are fantastic. The game is set in post-outbreak Manhattan, so there's a mix of GTA-level fidelity and Mad Maxitude.
The high tech feel has been cranked up to 11 though. In addition to the regular HUD stuff, you'll find navigation, teammate info, enemy info, scan info, cover highlights, and movement lines. It takes some getting used to and isn't always helpful.
The over-the-shoulder perspective places the gunplay about midpoint on the hardcoreness spectrum. Other controls are hit-and-miss. Forty hours in I still pop out of cover with what feels like the slightest tug of the joystick, yet remain glued to a wall while a shotgun-toting ruffian has decided to rush my position. I'm glad you can't get by x-mashing like in Assassin's Creed, but I miss the smoothness of those player controls.
There really isn't all that much variety in missions and enemies. Defend cache, push button, or take down evil guy - nothing too creative. The individual enemies have unique properties, but outside of the above vehicle, they're all just dudes with some type of gun and some amount of armor. It doesn't feel tired after 40 hours, but might do after 80.
Having beaten the campaign and almost maxed out level, the remaining challenge is the loot-filled, PvP-allowing ball of ominousness called the Dark Zone. Gear is great, but only if you have something to use it on, so hopefully the DZ will bring some interesting new challenges.
The epilogue cutscene, so it'd be a spoiler if this game had much of a story.
We did need something light to play while patching The Division, so we rescued POWs and Murica'ed it up with Broforce.
It's a self-aware Contra knockoff starring a cast of action flick knockoffs. And it's co-op.
With heterogeneous, destructable terrain, there are always alternate paths to the extract point.
A few more shiny shots from Helldivers. I really should try an Enemy Master level mission before putting it down.