“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Friday, November 25, 2016

Another model submission

This one is The Norseman Cometh, by Collapse Industries in 1/35th scale. The wooden base with water effects, bit of line, and SCAR-H I added, otherwise the kit is stock. Mostly resin but I think a couple of the parts were 3D printed. Quality is exceptional, and I have a few other kits of theirs on my wish list down the road.

My prior fiction post-apocalypse post was germinated from the ideas this kit gave me.

Picture quality can be blamed on the photographer; coincidentally the same villian is responsible for any small mistakes in the painting.

Winning at life

My kids gave me the best compliment ever last night -

According to them, I am the Patronus that Chuck Norris calls on.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Can the Republic Long Survive?

The run-up to, and aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election have brought into sharp focus the great divide within our nation. Along with an equally bright spotlight on the poor state of civics and government education in the United States...

First, a couple of facts to establish the status of things as I write this - because who knows what may change down the road. And, if only for my own sanity, it may be curious to look back upon this four years from now.

At the time I write this (almost a week after the election), if things stand then President-elect Trump will receive 306 electoral college votes to 232 for Hillary Clinton, and with a margin of 30 states carried to her 20. Depending on which source you find the popular vote totals vary and are in great dispute, but I tend to find the most credible do show that Clinton carried the overall popular vote by a small margin.

Interestingly, most sources state that voter turnout was LOWER this election than in 2012 and 2008. I find this curious, as myself and other commenters nationwide observed longer lines than any prior election, and with the online rhetoric I would have expected it to be higher. However - there always remains the possibility that many voters stayed home, particularly in states where the perception was the results were a foregone conclusion.

Despite allegations of voter fraud and vote tampering prior to the election and with voting machines during, as of this point no significant, factual data has come out showing this to be a major factor for either candidate.

There is no doubt that this was one of the most bitter, divisive campaigns in our history. I know for many people (myself included), it was as much, if not more, a case of voting against a particular candidate, rather than for one you believed in. In some cases this even seemed to outshine long-held party affiliations, which had effects on both sides. Additionally, even more so than the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headlines of a half-century ago, the Trump victory seemed to come as a shock to many in the establishment, media, and half of the populace of our nation.

Which has led to the issues at hand now. Protests from those who feel that Clinton should have won, or that refuse to acknowledge President-elect Trump. Calls and petitions for the electoral college system to be scrapped. Even though this is precisely the type of situation which the founders intended it for. Since, as many seem to have forgotten, we do not live in a democracy, but a representative republic. And, the electoral college is intended to prevent the "rule by the masses" of the more populated regions running roughshod over more rural localities.

Two maps which have been making the rounds bring this issue further into focus:

Half of the US population lives within the blue shaded portions of this map. In other words, this fraction of the nation has over 175 million people who could disportionately influence the way in which the remainder of this map is governed.

Interestingly, this map reflects the election results by county, as opposed to the earlier statewide totals. You'll note, that while there are some outliers, those same high-population counties are reflected as overwhelmingly voting for Hillary Clinton (and are traditionally Democratic-leaning locales).

Now, none of this is anything most intelligent readers haven't already noticed. But I wanted to establish the background for my thoughts. Because it is the aftermath of the election which concerns me.

In my own voting lifetime, I remember when politics and open discussion still co-existed. When someone could have an opposing viewpoint, but you could still hold an intelligent conversation and even be *gasp* friends. When, after an election, people accepted who won and loss, picked themselves up, and more or less moved forward as a nation. Sure, Reagan was despised by the Democrats (although that seems to be forgotten now), but at least the discourse was generally civil. I was far from a fan of the Clinton presidency, but I don't recall having to worry about my safety or the ability to do business or interact with those who were. Now? We get not only the protests, the calls for the system to be re-built because people don't like the results, but we get things like this (NSFW language warning):

Really? This is what the party which was worried about being inclusive, and didn't want "hateful" speech involved is putting out? Riots and destroying property and attacking people who didn't vote the way you like is now the way to get the system to change?

Because, that is what I'm used to seeing in third world countries, not in the United States.

Now, there are plenty of people already pointing fingers in either direction on events such as these. I'm not going to repeat the same stuff.

Because the issue is deeper than that.

I feel we really have become two nations, as the above maps reflect. One, primarily urban, in favor of more government and generally more liberal in outlook; the other, "flyover country," with relatively conservative values and politically wanting less interference from a Federal overlord. As far as parties (a pox be on the lot of them), generally Democratic and Republican majorities respectively.

This separation of outlooks is nothing new, really - in fact, it is part of what led to the electoral college system, as well as the House of Representatives/Senate structuring of our Constitution. We've certainly faced divided results before in this nation, and have made it through them.

The difference now isn't the divide, so much, as the resulting anger, frustration, and general pig-headedness on either side. In the space of a generation we've gone from having a large group of "undecided" voters for each party to woo, and a (generally) centerist agenda as a whole, to pendulum swings between right and left. From intelligent debate and reasoned thinking we have moved to 30 second sound clips and 140-character brain diarrhea. From a view of our neighbors as "fellow Americans," we now default to hate and disdain for those who don't agree with our views.

A number of things have influenced this, but I really think there are three main factors.

One is the information age itself. With each stride forward in technology we are innundated with more data; each candidate now finds their thoughts, deeds, and every word instantly shared worldwide. Not only does this lead to information overload, but it becomes impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff - every rumor takes on a life of its own, and takes root before it can be proven or refuted. Not only do the parties and candidates take advantage of it, but we ourselves encourage the monster... And, like anything else, you get too much of a good thing, and people lose the ability to discern what is important and valuable in all the noise.

The second is the media machine. While in this election it was far more blatant and biased than others, it is far from a new thing. Journalists (of every persuasion) now view themselves as important parts of the political influence machine; that it is their job to present the information so as to best support the appropriate "message." The Fourth Estate has become firmly entrenched in the process, and like the priests of old feel they are the only intermediary between the common man and the holy writ of doctrine.

Finally, there are the parties themselves.

Whether Republican or Democrat, both groups have long since given up any interest in truly representing their constituents, and instead are firmly focused on maintaining power and position at any cost. Politicians spend the vast majority of their time campaigning to stay in office as opposed to actually doing the job they were elected for. Promises to "change the system" or press for reform of any nature quickly are forgotten in D.C., where it's business as usual and don't rock the boat. We have developed a class of career politicians who feel entitled to the trappings and benefits of their station, and know better than the commoners what is right and wrong. While the third party option is an admirable idea, the failure of mainstream America to consider such possibilities leaves little hope for the near term potential.

President Washington was right when he warned of the danger of political parties.

I have probably another five paragraphs I could rant on that issue, but I'm not saying anything that's not clear to any intelligent person.

Instead, it's back to the root question - and it isn't based on the results of this election, but rather on the symptoms increasingly on display. The sickness, for want of a better word, which has infected America as a whole and driven us apart rather than pulling us together.

Because we are divided, at a level we haven't seen since probably 1860 - and we all know how that turned out. Urban America doesn't want to find common ground with their rural relations, and small-town America has no interest in the globalism and agenda of the east and west coast. Each side stridently protests the intrusions of the other upon what they view as how America should be.

It's not just that we have people threatening to leave the country because their side lost - it's that we have others saying "good riddence."

It's not that thousands of people are seriously petitioning that California should secede from the Union, but that equal numbers (if not more) would be happy to see them leave.

None of this even remotely addresses the outside issues facing us, nor their influences upon our nation and politics.

It's that both sides are more than happy to ignore the Constitution, to call for changes in our political process when it's to their benefit. Whether abolishing the electoral college, using (or removing) the filibuster, appointing or ignoring Supreme Court Justices, or any of the myriad ways people think "if we just had a little more power, then we could finally make things right."

Because, despite their protestations of equality, the left side is convinced that there is something fundamentally wrong and unacceptable about the right. Despite their words of "less government" the right is more than willing to allow the Federal system to regulate people's reproductive choices and other beliefs. Between one side pandering to anarchists and social justice warriors, and the other embracing the evangelicals and ultra-nationalists there is not much of a "middle ground" to be found.

I fear we are approaching a tipping point in our nation, from which we will be unable to recover our balance. While I have hope that President-elect Trump will be able to delay some of this, I do not forsee a reversal of course. Proposals such as term-limits would go a long way towards proving me wrong, but the very people who must vote to impose them have a vested interest in not doing so. Additionally, despite his statements attempting to reach out to all Americans, I think President-elect Trump will face an even more hostile media and left-wing than President G.W. Bush did.

The next four years will prove me right or wrong. If we cannot come together in that time, no matter where you are in the political spectrum, I truly think we will be torn apart.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Quick Write-Up

Was inspired for this one off of a model I am wrapping up, which may post pictures of soon. May do something with it as a story or game setting someday, but thought I'd share:

Theme - 
Post-apocalyptic fantasy with Viking raiders, lost fae, strange magics and dangerous technologies. 


They say that once we covered the Earth, with cities grander than any imagining, ordinary people flying through the air like sorcerers, and machines which catered to our daily needs. 
They say a lot of things about those times. Who knows what was true?
We do know that hubris led to our downfall. 
First the Gods threw their lances of fire, striking those cities from the Earth with balls of flame and suffering which still plague those nearby. 
Then the Earth itself revolted, swallowing a vast swath before spitting it out again to cover the lands in ash and death and starving the world. 
In what seemed the final insult, reality itself rebelled. Magic. Sorcery. Monsters. Demons. All of the things of legend turned out to be true. Whether they had been there all along, or it was simply the final act of madness, who can say? What our grandfather's grandfather called impossible, our grandfathers called real, and we call normal. Creatures that supposedly only existed in fables live in my very hamlet. Powers that are unexplainable now heal our sick and aid our harvest. 
They say a lot. What I know is probably the same as anyone throughout history. Times are lean, and I have a family to care for. Whether the past is truth or myth doesn't put food on our table, nor coin in my pocket. 

We raid, the Dirtmen farm. We live free, land dwellers are tied to their crofts. We embrace the old ways, they hide from science and knowledge. This is the way of the world. 
Yes, they call us barbarians. Heathens. Northmen. They blame us for their weakness, and condemn us for our ways. But, has it not always been that the strong take what they need? 
Of course, we did not always have our ships, our freedom, or the rights to the open seas. Before the fall of man we were cogs in the machine, like any other - but, some men dared dream. Dared to remember the old ways, to lead their kith and kin as the Gods intended, to prepare for the future. So when it came, they were not surprised, but ready. With stockpiles. Plans. Weapons. And a people who remembered that a man's bravery and skill outshone any lie of civilization. 
The Dead Zones. Certainly a problem, but we have learned how to not only pass through them, but to use them to our advantage. The masks and the washes only add to the fear we instill in our foes, while protecting us from the contamination that still remains. Without the Dead Zones it would be harder to find ammunition for our weapons, or parts for our Home Ships. 
It is no easy life, but I would have no other. A companion at home, Valhalla ahead, and the cries of the Dirtmen as my longship emerges from the fog of morning remind me of what is right. 


Once, we were beasts. Pets. Livestock. Or free in the wilds. No speech beyond grunts and whines, no drive for more than the life we had. 
No more. 
Some of us came from the sciences of humanity. Others were changed by the fires and doom man laid upon the world. Whatever the cause, we were uplifted. Changed. No longer dumb brutes, we have come into our own. The best of both worlds - still running with nature, but wise enough to build more. 
Some humans accept us, some still want to hunt us. Some don't know what to think. 
Either way, we are beasts no more.


The sad part is our ancestors knew it was coming. 
They knew men were poisoning the Earth and skies.
They knew that our weapons could destroy the world. 
They saw the end was neigh. 
They railed against it, seeking a return to simpler ways, when brother loved brother, and we lived in harmony not destruction. They fought to educate not only their communities, but their rulers far away. 
All for naught. 
When the Destruction came, some survived. Safe on their farms, in their communes, or simply survivors by chance. Their worst nightmares come true, the reaping of an evil harvest which could have easily led them astray.
Instead, they remembered. Their duties to Mother Gaia. The peace preached by the ones who came before. The drive that all would live equal, no matter their race or creed. The knowledge that Jah would provide, as long as we remained true. 
It is not easy. Most towns are lucky to feed their own, and have little room to listen to wandering pilgrims spreading the truth of how we really *can* be better, if we just move towards harmony. The old churches mistrust our sacraments, claim our faith is the illusion of intoxication rather than a gateway to truth. The Northmen care not that we abhor violence - they kill and take as they wish. The Fey mock us and smirk behind their tricks. 
But, as the pilgrims before us said, if we don't *imagine* it will never be.
So - we wander. We preach. We heal. 
And, someday, all may live in harmony. 

Ages past the Christian God of men rose, the iron cities grew, and we grew weak in this realm. Consigned to myths and legends, tales used to frighten or amuse, the Fae waited. 
While the humans spread across the world like a disease, we waited. 
While they destroyed the forests, dug deep under the mountains, and soared in the skies, we waited. 
Because the circle always turns - summer becomes winter, new becomes old, what grows and feeds must someday feed another. 
And, now our time has returned. Their steel cages no longer fill black roads. Their technologies no longer overwhelm the very fabrics of reality. Now the Fae once more walk in the day and the night, and it is time for man to learn he is not the pinnacle of creation. 
Magick is back, and we come with it. 

The elders warned when the white men came, of the destruction they would bring to these lands. We foolishly thought that the tribes had suffered that doom already - confined to reservations, no longer free to hunt or live as the Great Spirit intended. Burdened by diseases, poverty, alcohol, and the other curses of "civilization." Little did we know the worst was yet to come... the nuclear fires, vast quakes, and fall of man. Where once they filled the Earth like locusts, less than a hundredth must now remain. The cities fallen to poison and ruin, the vaunted gifts of their technology forgotten as they scramble to survive. 
The elders had done more than warn, though. They had prophesied that we would rise again - and we have. No longer confined by their laws, the boundaries they sought to impose on the land and free people, we grow stronger every season. Some hunt the whale on the sea, as their ancestors did. Others roam the forests. Or seek the bison on the plains. Warriors ride to raid and challenge once more, not to conquer but to prove their worth. Our children learn to live with the rhythms of the Earth, to walk with creatures returned from legends, all as it should be. 
Where there was destruction comes new growth. Where a people were lost we are reborn. 

The elders were wise, and we return to their ways. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Early Election Day observations

Got up and went to vote early today, as the kids are home from school and I hoped to beat the crowd and lines.

Our polls open at 6, and I've never waited more than 5 minutes before as long as I was there before 9am. At 7am today the line was longer than I've ever seen - ended up being about a 40 minute process.

Everyone was polite, courteous and respectful - both voters and poll workers. No issues of political discussion in the line, no protestors or pollsters outside.

No voting machines in this election, due to the ongoing problems. Everyone filled out a paper ballot for scanning. An unexpected change.

We require photo ID here for voting - no one had any issues with it, and the state does provide free IDs for that purpose on request.

While I have doubts it will be as smooth of a process everywhere else (even locally), it gave me a small measure of hope for the event as a whole.