Thursday, January 27, 2011

Back in Black?

School choice is a no-lose proposition for any politician outside of Maryland. Government-school teachers, and especially their union leaders and agitators, are now seen as the selfish monsters they are, who care only about their pay raises and outrageous pensions, and don't give a d--- about kids.

The GOP ought to bring back the DC school voucher program, with at least twice as many students to balance the fact that it was cut out before. In fact, our starting point (from which we will compromise) should be to make *every* poor and/or minority student in DC eligible for this. This will force the Democrats to choose between betraying the teachers' union or betraying the poor and minorities, so *someone* will hate them no matter what they do.

I am *all about* driving wedges between different parts of the traditional New Deal coalition. It's like a Frankenstein's monster, except that I have no sympathy for it. I want to see it ripped apart like the patchwork man in Britannia Hospital.

Another good idea is to require the DC government schools to follow the reforms recommended by Charles Murray in Losing Ground.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Clint Bolick got it perfectly:
Obama gave two speeches, one to his liberal base and one to the middle. Lots of inconsistencies, such as "I'm going to cut domestic spending and veto earmarks," while we "invest" in myriad new things. But I don't think most people noticed.

Obviously there's an opportunity for the GOP (and the LP) to point this out and hit the administration at a vulnerable spot, forcing it to abandon either "progressives" or moderates. If the administration is really inept, it might even lose both.

Another opportunity, much less obvious, is for the GOP to hammer the Democrats on Social Security. Specifically, they can say (truthfully)
Social Security is bankrupt. It owes more than it has, and its debts are piling up faster than money is coming in. We have to either cut benefits, or cut spending on other programs, or do nothing until the entire Social Security program collapses. *We* favor cutting spending on other programs in order to save Social Security, but if you prefer one of the other options, vote for a Democrat.

This forces the Democrats to either support cutting other programs -- and they would rather cut their own throats -- or cutting benefits (which is political suicide) -- or claiming there is nothing wrong with Social Security, which isn't political suicide yet, but can easily be made into it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Steampunk RPG Campaign

Perfidious Albion is a steampunk RPG campaign -- a Scientific Romance for ladies and gentlemen of good breeding (ahem), set in the late 19th Century in a well-developed alternate-history setting in which a peaceful compromise (Ben Franklin's "Albany Plan") prevented the American Revolution, the British Empire is the world's dominant power, and steam-powered supercomputers perform econometric calculations in mere minutes! (For those who really like trivia, there was an earlier point of divergence at the Putney Debates in 1648.)

For Perfidious Albion: A Scientific Romance, I recommend either GURPS Lite or FUDGE. Even more, I recommend any good steampunk fiction, such as The Difference Engine, Girl Genius, The Two Georges, and so forth.

Some good references for steampunk, and for the Victorian period in general, are:
* What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist -- The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England by Daniel Pool (available for cheap on;
* An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't, specifically the section on English Literature, which discusses obscure details of nineteenth-century British life (likewise available for cheap on Amazon);
* GURPS Steampunk by my old friend Bill Stoddard (available for cheap as a PDF at, hands-down the single best reference source for the period, whether realistic historical or steampunk.;
* Forgotten Futures: The Scientific Romance Role Playing Game by the brilliant Phil Masters (available for free as shareware, he asks that you make a donation to charity, God bless him!)
* Comme Il Faut, a supplement for Castle Falkenstein on daily life and manners in the 19th Century.

(For what it's worth, I did graduate work in English literature and specialized in both sf/fantasy and Victorian/industrial revolution fiction.)

I prefer "system" games, because the system helps answer questions like "How far can I jump?" and "How long will it take to fix the engine?" I strongly believe in a good story rather than rolling dice, and I also believe in realism and balance.

Above all, I want to make sure that people who are interested in the genre and/or the setting, and are not familiar with the system, to join and play and learn the system as we go along.

For more information about the game, or if you wish to join, please contact the Management of the game via electronic mail for any questions about the setting, or for the Approval of Characters.

Excerpted from a survey report by the Infinity Corporation:


A libertarian British Empire (including America) vs. the Holy Alliance (France, Spain, Austria, Russia) and Ottoman Caliphate.


1648: The Levellers win the Putney Debates to decide the new government after the English Civil War.
1765: Ben Franklin's "Albany Plan of Union" is accepted by the Whig government of Britain.

Western (multipolar), Chinese (empire), Islamic (empire).

British Empire (feudal technocracy, CR2), France (dictatorship, CR5), Spain (dictatorship, CR5), Austria (dictatorship, CR5), Russia (dictatorship, CR6), Prussia (dictatorship, CR4).

Ottoman Empire (dictatorship, CR5), Manchu Empire (dictatorship, CR5), Sweden (democracy, CR4), Japan (feudal technocracy, CR 5).


Technological Level: 5+2 (except TL5 weapons/armor)
Mana Level: low
Quantum: 7
Infinity Class: P1
Centrum Zone: YELLOW


"A Series of Tubes"
"Can You Get Sound On That Thing?"
"First Contacts"
"Hearts of Steel"
"League of Extraordinary Ladies & Gentlemen"

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Which Parents, When Their Child Asks for Bread, Give a Stone Instead? Amy Chua!

@cp puts it perfectly:
How many Yale law professors would want to allow terror suspects to be denied access to food and water?
I'm sorry, I consider Amy Chua's parenting methods to be dead to me. I strongly recommend the methods suggested by The One-Minute Mother and The One-Minute Father.

Matthew 7:9
Luke 11:11

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Giants in the Earth

I'm a born-again Christian and I've always said that God wants us to play Dungeons & Dragons (and other roleplaying games).

Furthermore, those who claim that "unicorn" is a mistranslation of "rhinoceros," or that "dragon" is a mistranslation of "crocodile," are as mistaken as those who claim that "day" in Genesis is a mistranslation of "time period." Obviously we need to take the King James Version literally (in the simplest and most obvious sense); if Shakespearean English was good enough for Christ Himself to speak, then it is good enough for the rest of us. Thus, "unicorn" means "horse with a horn on its forehead" and "dragon" means "giant lizard that breathes fire."

It's all in the Bible, and the Monster Manual. King James Version, and OGL -- none of this modernized scripture for me, and no 4th Edition D&D either!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Cloward-Piven: Bring It On

Maybe I'm overlooking something here; if so, please let me know!

The Cloward-Piven strategy was to overwhelm the system with a massive amount of both protests (possibly violent) and also welfare recipients; this was supposed to cause a breakdown of both public discourse and also of public finance.

The idea was that the status quo in both politics and public programs would not be able to handle the new situation and would have to be replaced by something else.

According to Piven, the activism of the 1960s and 1970s was this strategy in action.

As I understand it, those are her claims -- and I completely agree with them so far. Her mistake is believing that the response of the system would be to give in to the demands of the activists and welfare applicants, and replace capitalism with democratic socialism.

Instead, in the 1980s and 1990s the system -- I hesitate to say "Silent Majority" -- responded by voting for right-wing Republicans and moderate Democrats, and by pushing for welfare reform.

The reasons why her strategy failed are that the number of producers must be greater than the number of parasites (or else the entire society collapses into chaos) and also that the producers tend to vote and otherwise participate in politics more than the average parasite. (There are other reasons as well, such as the fact that free-market capitalism allows upward mobility for those who are willing to work, so a temporarily-unemployed producer is on the side of the producers, rather than the parasites.)

As a hard-core political activist I'd like to encourage Ms Piven to agitate as much as possible, because I look forward to the results of her tactics. Bring it on, baby! As Lenin said, "The worse, the better."

As William F. Buckley, Jr., remarked, there may be a million violent rioters; there are a million and one lampposts.