Sunday, May 26, 2019

Capitalism vs. Socialism

So in the media a lot of people are talking about these ideas but not bothering to dig into the terminology, instead its being framed as two opposing sides. The reality is of course more complex than a sound byte.


The idea behind capitalism as an economic philosophy is that humans are competitive in nature and also inherently lazy. Without a personal benefit people wont do any work and society will crumble.
While that is a bit exaggerated (we all know people who volunteer) it does however have a lot of truth to it.  People are generally far more motivated if there is something in it for them.


This is a hybrid government and economic philosophy and all governments are to some extant socialist in nature. The idea is that by banding together for the collective good the society provides benefit to everyone. Examples include the military for defense, public roads and utilities, fire and police departments, etc.

Difference in Goals

Capitalism is a predator vs. prey relationship, where the strong get stronger and feed off the weaker.  In this case wealth is the measure of power. Socialism is a grassroots community building process where the whole is grater than the sum of its parts. By helping those less fortunate than you you help society as a whole.

Getting Practical

By allowing those who work hard or come up with new ideas to personally benefit society becomes stronger, However if the majority of the society feel to put upon they may revolt, also they are needed to provide labor and consume the goods the wealthy are selling.
Socialism provides a safety net  to keep exploitation low enough to prevent civil war and help more people become contributing members to society.
Both sides can go too far or not far enough, the best approach is a middle ground.

Getting to the Middle

To function America needs both ideas, Capitalism encourages development and growth, but socialism evens out the playing field through education and basic services so everyone has the hope of opportunity. As the money gets more and more focused at the top its easier for them to maintain power even without working for it (Inherited wealth, racial privilege) and harder for those born poor to get wealthy (or even middle class). Socialism tries to even this out by ensuring everyone is equal and starts off with the same resources, then its up to the individual what they do with it.
 If the average American is one step away from losing their home, job, or life with a single stroke of bad luck society as a whole suffers.

A Prosperous America

America was at its most prosperous after WW II in the 1950s.
We had a strong rising middle class due to a souped up manufacturing industry and the world needing rebuilding, also consumer demand was high.  The GI bill helped a lot of service members and their families get better jobs and offered affordable housing which also meant more jobs. The goodwill and economic prosperity brought to other countries by the Marshal Plan helped foster good will towards America, increasing overseas demand for its products. Strong labor unions helped workers get better pay and benefits which increased consumer demand as more people had more money to spend.
The marginal tax rates were far higher than they are now, though not at historical highs. The highest rates were after the Great Depression and helped get us out of it faster than many other countries. Still it was as high as 91% in 1960 for $200,000 single filers (today that would be 1.5 million dollars) and that also helped spread the wealth around.
As corporations and the wealthiest gained more and more power they have worked to undo a lot of those gains, lowering their tax rates substantially while lowering the average Americans far less in comparison, destroying unions, and lobbying for massive deregulation.
They also went for consolidation resulting in less competition and fewer jobs.

Getting Back to a Prosperous America

In order to get back to a prosperous America for all we need to promote job growth, not by adding more part time jobs for minimum wage and no benefits but by adding good full time jobs at a living wage. As more and more people make a decent living and have money to spare they spend more which in turn creates the need for more jobs.
To do this we need 
  • Minimum wage to be tied to inflation. Most people get raises that are lower than inflation, which means year after year even though they make more money it does not go as far.
  • Quality Education for all. Education is stacked towards the wealthy in America.  That means those born wealthy have a tremendous advantage over those not so lucky. By making more people able to have the same opportunities to make a better life for themselves and their children everyone benefits. Its simple Demand Economics. If you have more customers you can make more money.
  • Health Care is a huge cost for most Americans. If you get sick even with insurance you may lose your job, and its the number one reason for bankruptcy in America. Americans pay more for less than any other industrial nation. Taxpayers pay for medical advances at universities and trials yet the drug companies sell the same drug for thousands of dollars to Americans that they sell at a profit overseas for a few dollars. If this is not changed America will fall.
  • Climate Change is a hge problem.It costs billions of dollars in tax subsidies each year for disaster relief and the amount keeps growing. Meanwhile fosil ful jobs own most politicians despite hiring fewer workers than renewable jobs (Look it up Bureau of Labor Statistics) which hurts our economy now and even more so going forward. We used to lead in solar cell production but have surrendered that to China due to government policies purchased by the fossil fuel industry. Addressing this while the window is still open means more American jobs.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Designers Notes for GURPS Powers: Nature and Totem Spirits

Its been a long road but this is my first GURPS book, though hopefully not my last.
This was originally part of a much larger book, but Steven Marsh wisely suggested a smaller book for my first time. In my mind shaman and spirits are given short shrift in most RPGs in that spirits are mostly things to fight and shaman are typically just another spell caster. GURPS has the structure to do so much more and we have seen glimpses but I wanted more for my favorite system.

The Totems, there are a decent amount included, I only had to cut one from the playtest draft (rat) which was a nice urban type totem but replaced it with Dragon and Nymph at the request of the play testers who wanted more non animal totems. There a bunch of notes for others that did not get a writeup, just some short notes on their aspects.
The play testers were great, especially William Stoddard and Jon Lang who kept the discussion on the power modifier going a few days after it officially closed. They had specific concerns and because they were willing and able to discuss them objectively we managed to come up with a rewrite that hopefully works for more people than the original.

Going into this I knew I would get requests for additional totems (Octopus was one such), expected to get some recommendations to cut, and was expecting (and received) requests for more detail and lore on certain favorites. However the goal was to get in as many worked examples as possible and cover several professions and character needs.
Overall that part went better than I expected, for those familiar with the subject a lot of this can be very personal.

The Role section was added during the review and let me keep more totems than I expected and do a better job of helping GMs and players make new totems. It adds an extra step but I think keeps complexity to a minimum.

Drafts, I actually did rewrites and sent them out daily the first week.  Most would not do this, but it helped the manuscript was short and it helped me track word count and turn in the final draft faster by editing in virtually real time instead of after the test. The only playtest I have participated in that was similar was GURPS Technical Grappling where it was important to the author we saw changes quickly for improved feedback.
I tried to make it as painless as possible by noting the changes in each draft from the previous one.

Hows the Crunch?

Primarily this is a book of templates and lenses and no new rules. However I created some new modifiers, including one that addressed something I have wanted in GURPS since GURPS Lensmen!
Also added were some skill and advantage clarifications. Overall I think its pretty crunchy but still has plenty of flavor. But that is the authors opinion, whats yours?

What was changed or cut?

In the end the presentation had the most changes, with sections of text being moved around, a few things were deemed redundant and cut, other sections reworded for clarity.
The Power modifier and a few advantages received some feedback and changes but in the end they came out as I wanted but better written due to the feedback. The Role change was a nice addition and saved a lot of repetitiveness. That saved a lot of word count but also makes an easier read. The old way each Totem was a larger wall of text, good for fast reference but not as pleasant to read in my opinion.

Other Reviews

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Investing in America

I'll be going through a series of posts on Investing in America. In order to grow a business our country you have to be willing investment and support for that growth.  Incentives also help, though a capitalist economy can be enough of an incentive as long as people have the opportunity.

Right Wing Challenge!

So if you read this blog you know I am a humanitarian and thus Left Wing in my politics.
But one of the biggest personal goals is to get money out of politics. Efforts to do this seem to mainly be from the Left, with Take Back Our Republic the only group I know of on the Right.
On the Left we have Wolf Pac, Brand New Congress, and Justice Democrats.

Why so little effort from the Right?  If its really a populism movement and not just corporate manipulation of some of our population how come there is so little effort to get money out of politics?

If you really believe in privatization because you think its good for America how come people have to pay politicians to do it? If Americans really believe deregulation why do corporations have to buy Congress? If you prefer private insurance and those who are in between jobs, laid off, work for small business, or simply cant afford it why is so much of the money coming from insurance companies?
Shouldn't the individual voter and American citizen be able to matter and influence their politician if the numbers are really on their side?

So my challenge to the Right Wing is start an organization like Brand New Congress or Justice Democrats and help Take Back Our Republic.
If your goal is to get rid of elitist control of our government put thepower back into the hands of the individual American!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Dwarven Dueling Sword

The Dwarven dueling sword is a double bladed sword. Its held in the center and gripped like a spear with the center gripping area about 5 hand sizes long and each blade about 3 feet long for a typical total length of 7 feet. It can be used as a thrusting weapon or a slashing weapon. As a slashing weapon its about as effective as a hand and a half sword but not as powerful as a two handed one or polearm due to limited leverage. As a Thrusting weapon it has good reach but not as much as a long spear. It is an effective defensive weapon due to outward facing curved cross-guards that can capture a blade, similar to a sai. Also it can be used for a quick counter attack by parrying or beating the opponents sword to the side then coming in with the other blade in the same move. It is also effective with the Cleave maneuver and an intimidating defensive attack when spun like a helicopter blade.

It cant be used with a shield since its a two handed weapon, takes up a lot of space, and can be hard to use in tight spaces or formations. However it is good at killing unarmored enemies quickly and being a threat to foes behind or above you. So its primary role is a skirmisher weapon and killing vermin.
The war sword is its own specialization of Melee Weapon skill (p. B208).

Dwarven Dueling Sword

This two handed double bladed weapon can be used to thrust like a spear, parry as a staff, or disarm like a jitte/sai. It can be used in different ways, depending on the skill. Each blade has a single edge, both edges facing the same direction which makes it easier to shift grips for longer reach or leverage as needed.
This grants +2 to parry and +1 to disarm a rigid weapon (see p. B208). It also reduces Rapid Strike penalties by 2 to -4 due to being able to used as a counter swing with the other end.
Staff, Spear -2, Polearm -4
Swing +1 cutting or crushing; Reach 1, 2
Spear, Staff -2, Polearm -4
Thrust +2 Imp; Reach 1, 2
Thrown Weapon (Spear) -1
Thrust +5 Impaling, ACC 1; Range *1/*1.5 ROF 1; Bulk -6
Weight 11 Min ST 11. Cost $2350

Sometimes tethered by a chain to a ring in the center allowing it to be pulled back like a harpoon when thrown, adds 2 lbs to weight and is typically clipped on or off as a Ready maneuver or specialty Fast Draw roll.
Standard blades are awkward to carry and enclosed in two separate scabbards so each blade requires a separate Ready maneuver to unsheathe, reduced to one with a Fast Draw roll.
When sheathed they do crushing damage.

Enchanted Variant

The typical enchantment turns the sword into a short metal rod which is the handle. On command it can expand to a single blade or double bladed version which makes it easy to carry around.

Duel Mastery

This is considered an advanced and somewhat showy style and users have typically already mastered a style such as Dwarven Guard (uses Spear). It is favored by officers who typically wont be part of a shield wall anymore and often in a flanking position where they may get attacked. It is also useful for disciplining soldiers without lethal force (using the blunt edges in staff form).

Skills: Thrown Weapon (Spear); Staff; Spear;
Techniques: Aggressive Parry; Feint; Sweep; Trip.
Cinematic Skills: Kiai; Parry Missile Weapon
Cinematic Techniques: Whirlwind Attack;
Optional Skills: Broadsword
Optional Techniques: 
Perks: Form Mastery (Staff/Spear); Grip Mastery (Dueling Sword); Sacrificial Parry (Staff); Weapon Adaptation (Staff or Spear); Weapon Bond

This post inspired by this Shadowversity post

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Abortion Bills

With the recent slew of conservative judges being put on the bench states are pushing strictor abortion bills in hopes of getting Roe vs. Wade overturned.


Said to be the strictest bill yet HB314 is effective once a fetus is in utero.


Currently restricts abortion after 20 weeks, just signed a law that bans it so soon most women wont even know their pregnant before its illegal. it blocks abortions after about 6 weeks.
It includes provisions for up to life imprisonment and penalties if she has a miscarriage.


Passed a law in 2018 that requires the governor personally approve an abortion (If its covered by medicare) even if the womens life is in immediate danger.


Trying to ban birth control coverage by medical insurance.

Several other states have passed or are pushing more laws along these lines, including punishments.

You know whats missing in these so called pro life arguments?

  • Contraception for women, even while male contraception is covered by most insurance.
  • Healthcare for women and children.
  • Severe penalties for the fathers who refuse to take care of the child once born.
  • Economic support for single mothers, especially those who have children with birth defects or were raped and forced into single motherhood by the state.
  • Effective adoption, foster care and other support for children.
It makes one wonder what the real priorities are here.