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30th August 2005

3:10am: 10k Toronto
Well, I got a speeding ticket on the way to pick up Bill King. I then slept all day Sunday instead of judging. It wasn't that great of a time other than seeing RIW in general smash people. The con was really bad, and the space we had to run the 10k was less than most PTQs. It's good it was the size of one.

Canada was so amazingly nice. Downtown Toronto is huge, and there were tons of people walking around on Sunday afternoon across the multi square mile area. Sure, it's 2.5 times the size of Detroit, but the metro area is about the same judging by the number of area codes needed. That says something about the quality of the inner city and how much Detroiters just don't care about their city that much. There's just so much blight in Detroit. Driving down Dequindre and similar roads on occasions, there are just huge tracts of area that no one wants to use for mostly the reason that the surrounding area also sucks, and that it has a Detroit address. Maybe if they just rip it all up and rename each of the neighborhoods something other than
its geographical location, people and companies will actually will want to be there.

One thing that I noticed once back in the US is that there isn't a huge proliferation of billboards all over the highways in Canada, which now that I think about it is quite odd.
2:44am: Another pseudo-political rant triggered by my latest depressive episode
I haven't updated my LiveJournal in a while because I really don't feel like it. My life still feels like it sucks and is going nowhere, etc. Sometimes I really don't know why I even bother trying to fit in with the world. I really don't see myself living by the world's rules, because they are in general ad hoc, unfair, and too general even if they're probably for the best. I really hope that I can just stay in academia my entire life and interact with people of similar intellect, but the fact is that my world can't be 100% sheltered.

If I want to travel between any two places, I face the possibility of an armed offier of "the law" to stop me for doing something that the state legislature and/or city planners have deemed "unsafe" and for some reason I must be punished by paying a fine that amounts to next to nothing for most people, but is quite a large bit of my income. Add to that the fact that it will be passed on to a company whose job it is to sell my something that I am by law required to have if I want to use my method of transportation on the by-ways patrolled by the above-mentioned officers, and they will charge me more for the service of doing nothing just because my velocity exceeded some lame posted limit. Not that I've caused any damage to any public property or any other person's private property while in operation of automotive vehicles, that doesn't seem to matter.

Speed does not cause any accidents by itself. The first fatality caused by anything resembling an automobile occurred when it was going a whole 4 mph. Sure, speed is correlated with traffic collisions and fatalities, but do people who study this stuff know anything about the difference between correlation and causation? Traffic accidents are caused by idiocy, plain and simple. Sometimes the idiocy is going too fast for conditions, and that's where there's a strong causative pull. But for someone with good reflexes in light and clear conditions with no distractions, most posted speed limits are egregiously low. They're lower bounds, the speeds that a not-too-large percentage people given licenses will have to travel. But you can't defend yourself by saying that the speed limits don't apply to you because you have better reactions than the people the limits are intended for.

And why should I have to have liability insurance on my vehicle? I'm willing to be fully liable in all ways for any accident that I cause if it means not having to pay the premiums. I am willing to take this risk as a sort of investment, an anti-insurance. I'm fairly certain that the probability that I will have to be liable an outrageous sum is such that it has a negative expected value as an investment. I've gone through 8+ years of driving, have learned quite a lot, have become a bit more defensive, and in all that time have never had my vehicle damage another or be damaged beyond a door ding. I have every reason to believe that I will never be liable for anything traffic related, so why should I be required to insure myself for it?

I suppose there's something about the system I don't understand, because it doesnt' make that much sense to me. People should be able to dig their own graves. The state does way too much to protect people from their own stupidity. It's reverse Darwinism, and it's harming society in the long term, not helping it. Eugenics is clearly a bad policy, but why so most policies seemed to be biased in favor of idiots? Shouldn't it be the other way? I'm obviously going to wear a helmet if I were to ride a motorcycle, but what does forcing someone to wear one do but make them bitter about intrusive government?

7th August 2005

6:20pm: Vs 10k Chicago
I left my residence around 4:30am Saturday morning and did not return until 6:30am Sunday morning. 171 people showed up, about double of what there was the previous year. That made for 11 "grueling" rounds of Swiss run by the incompetant judging staff of Pastimes. Rounds took a full hour or more to complete, with judges not watching most matches that went to time. They were probably woefully understaffed or else had judges that really didn't care. Dave Weitz reported a judge who openly declared the exact problem of a player's decklist when he went over to correct the problem, indicating approximately what the player was playing. One of the judges I had seen before working with PES, but mainly as a YGO judge. He clearly knew very little about the rules in VS. One of the guys who worked the 10k at Origins from UDE was there, but he was mainly there as a UDE employee and I didn't see much of him as a judge.

There were no dealers at all on site. Pastimes was not even allowed to sell cards. Score Entertainment, makers of a bunch of random CCGs, also was running tournaments in the ballroom in the back that was being used for gaming. They were probably the only people on site that were selling sleeves, and they were reasonably priced at $3 for a pack of 50. They were only Ultrapro, but at least they were new sleeves. At least one person in our group had to go with a suboptimal because of lack of card availability. Mike Jacob planned on finding some foil Avalon Space Stations to complete the foiling of his deck, but ended up playing a less shiny version of his deck. Cedric Phillips borrowed the 2 Beatdowns I brought; presumably he thought he could have just bought them at the site.

In terms of results, no one out of the 8 that traveled together made top 8, but Mike Jacob and Dan Clark made money. Aaron Breider, James Beeton, Di Shi and myself made top 64 (T-shirt, deck box, promo card). Dan was the last place to get money (24th), Di was 29th, and James was the lowest of the 7-4s. I went 6-5, losing in the last round to Breider in a match that was appparently only for ratings points. It's probably a good thing that I lost, given that my rating is meaningless and he might need a rating invite someday.

The only person in the top 8 that I recognized was Ben Stoll; apparently the guy that ended up winning placed 2nd in a previous tournament. The top 8 decks were 6 Curve Sentinels, 1 Spider Friends/Gotham Knights build designed to beat Sentinels, and one FF burn deck.

A somewhat detailed report, in one paragraph:

I lost round 1 to Sentinels due to not having a teamup. I beat a n00b with a bad X-men deck round 2, and eeked out a win against a FF beatdown deck piloted by a terrible player round 3. Round 4 I face a deck I have no chance against: it plays A Child Named Valeria. His kill was with lots of direct endurance loss, to which I have no answer at all. Most of his guys can't be stunned, and they all have some effect that reinforced them. He doesn't run out of Childs due to Boris, Dr. Doom and Rama Tut, so I get burnt for 10+ each turn while only being able to stun his Doom each turn. Round 5 I face a guy I drove up with, a friend of Aaron's, and procede to kill his Common Enemy deck on turn 6 with a nut draw and his lack of Doom support cards. Round 6 I face a strange Spider Friends/Marvel Knights/Brotherhood deck that puts up a good show with me not hitting exactly what I need. He misses Amazing Spiderman on turn 7 due to not being able to teamup with Brotherhood and use his Rise to Power (a character tutor). He plays Dr. Strange and decides to more all his guys to the hidden area. I've hit with Longshot a few times now and have gone through my deck, and proceed to bash him for over 50 since I project that he can come back for around 35 and we were about even before. He got owned by a double Lost City pump the previous turn that he could have gotten out of with any attack pump, so he clearly has nothing. He does his necessary attack back, but has no tricks and loses by about 15 endurance. Round 7 I faced Sentinels again. He didn't play a guy until turn 4. He missed Bastion as well. But I didn't have Lost City on Turn 5, meaning that I had to spend a few extra pumps to take down his guys. I didn't see a Longshot all game either, and my 6 drop was merely replacing Wolverine. The Lost City I drew that turn was not enough, and I ran out of pumps and lost by 1 endurance on turn 8 I believe. If I had drawn one more character (anyone!) instead of a non-character, or discarded a Global Domination instead of an Avalon and not given in to the fear of multiple Genoshas, I'd have had the game won. Mike said it was probably the right play, since I probably lose if he gets to draw any extra cards; the one card more from an extra Avalon was not worth the possibility that he draws 4 from a Genosha. Round 8 I face yet another Sentinel deck, but this time Longshot does not abandon me, and decides he wants to draw me 3 extra cards a turn. Good deal. I smash his face despite him hitting a perfect curve. Round 9 I face another deck that played A Child Named Valeria, but this one won with Rigged Elections. He didn't have the reinforcement effects, so I'm able to do a bunch of damage, but Longshot didn't hit enough, and I drew a few useless cards, so I'm not able to kill him before he goes off turn 6 and wins immediately. Round 10 I face my only Titans matchup of the day. I don't have a stellar draw, and he starts off with a great curve of Roy Harper - Speedy to knock out my Longshot, followed by Tim Drake, Hawk/Dove, and Red Star, with another Red Star in hand. He demolishes my board turn 4 with help of a Press the Attack. I play Quicksilver and manage to beat up some of his guys when he only plays Terra and burns me with Red Star, but he can counterattck with Red Star due to ANOTHER powerup from hand. I'm left with only Quicksilver to his board of 4 guys. He plays Roy Harper, replays Dove, and burns me some more with Red Star, and is in position to murder my board. I play Rogue-4 and Pyro, and Rogue copies his Terra. He immediately uses Terra to stun Pyro for some unknown reason, then attacks Rogue with Red Star and Hank Hall. He must not have Teen Tians Go! I have a chance! He has Dove, Tim Drake, and Roy Harper ready. I have Mikado and Mosha in hand, and use it to stun Dove during the attack. Then with Dove's pumping of Roy Harper on the stack, Rogue's copy of Terra takes down Roy who can't stun anyone due to my brilliant manipulation of the stack. I then power up Rogue twice with Lost City to survive the attack. Tim Drake can't do shit, and Quicksilver stuns a couple of his guys. Next turn I mow more guys down and win easily. Round 11 I face Aaron Breider's techy X-men deck, get a sub-par draw in which I make a few mistakes, and am never really in the game.

6-5, losing to 2 Sentinels, 2 Child locks, and X-men. The deck really can't do much about Child Lock, and just hopes that Common Enemy and Tean Titans decks keep them out of the metagame. The Sentinel matchup is fine; I probably needed more experience with the matchup. And as evidenced by my win against them, they have no hope against your nuts draw.

31st July 2005

3:04am: Avengers Sneak Peak
Quite a decent turn out: 3 8-player events and a 54 person main event. I'm a little less worried about the health of the Vs. System, but it still obviously pales in comparison to Magic. The average size and power level of the characters in this seet seems to have increased - there's an 11/9 5-drop with a really good ability and no drawback. There's a 11/7 4-drop with some decent abilities whose drawback is you have to control an Avengers and a Thunderbolts guy to recruit him. A decent amount of the plot twists seem to be better as well. For example: a 2 cost (no discard) Have-a-Blast whose drawback is they can Have-a-Blast you as well. Pretty good if you don't have anything that's worth getting rid of....

I recommend to all the past VS players out there to play in the Sealed event at the PCQ at BDG, which will be Avengers Sealed deck.

21st July 2005

9:37pm: An update
I have updated my live journal.


16th June 2005

7:10pm: I got better....
Guptil was surprisingly optismistic about my working at future events. That's good. I'll be at Origins, etc. for all your judge needs. Well, since PES is only doing UDE events at conventions, you're on your own for Magic at Origins and GenCon. Just play in the Vs 10k at Origins - Overload will be banned, and there won't be any dumb combo deck.
4:34am: Sadness abounds
I feel like absolute shit right now. I just fired off an email to Guptil about my lack of hearing absolutely anything about Origins yet, and it's in 2 weeks. I did basically nothing at RIW tonight except find out that Pam is a heartless bitch. I suppose the only thing I've bought there has been 2 packs of sleeves, but given the amount of time I've been there, that's likely more than than at BD. Oh, and I bought like 6 pops from their vending machine too. The last two times I went there I bought a liter lemonade at the gas station, which was a much better deal, and I don't plan on buying anything at all from there ever again if I can help it. It's one thing to talk about people's personal lives in front of people who don't know them, interrupt games people are playing with information that they don't care about at all, have me apologize a great amount since it seems that my one snide comment about having to listen to things about people I don't know was a waste of time, but one could think that she could have say, apologize herself to some extent instead of just being like "I don't care how you feel, you're free to leave." With that sort of attitude, why should I bother giving her my money at all? I seriously felt like getting up and screaming at her, but that was clearly counterproductive. I'm not sure what sort of deal she has with Mike Jacob, and I don't want him to suffer because she's a bitch, but I almost feel like I don't want to help them at all with testing DC Modern. Not that I do much anyway, given that I'm terrible at the game. Regardless, I've not seen either BD owner, or the owner or manager of any business for that matter, be so rude to someone in their store that wasn't causing trouble.

Thank god UDE got rid of the dumb Dr. Light combo. Overload being banned should mean Force is even better now, right? Or does it mean that decks that beat it, like New Brotherhood, are just going to get better? Maybe some tech to beat faster decks is warranted. I'm sure Mike has his own opinions about the direction the deck should go, and my thoughts are probably terrible. I wish I wasn't so god-awful at Magic and Vs; half the problem might be that my sleep schedule sucks though, and I'm having a hard time thinking about anything lately. It's good my probability class is a complete joke. Unfortunately, that's not true for my incompletes. This paragraph really moved around a lot of subjects. I'm a master of the English language.
Current Mood: depressed

5th June 2005

2:54am: Still Alive
Yes, the rumors are true. Effexor seems to be working ok other than the sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep it might be inducing. Maybe it's just the changing of medicine.

Much magic playing and no work doing has been happening. I have 4 draft boxes + 4 boxes of BoK + 1 box each of ChK and SvK. Some of it may end up being sold at a good price. But I'd rather you buy from the fine gaming establishments that let you play under their roof. There's a JSS in 2 weeks, then Regionals, and I'll have more product if I don't don't completely nuts by then. Origins, GenCon, some PTQs, a 10k in Toronto in August, but NO PCQS IN DETROIT. DUB-YOU TEE EFF?

The VS 10K in Philly this weekend shows the first broken combo deck in the game, which some people have affectionatly called "Jar". It's quite appropriate, actually. It's fast, resilient, but there's a few cards that people play that can stop it that are going to have to become insanely popular. But the deck will still win. Hopefully DC Modern (Superman + Green Lantern) will be a bit better of a format.

28th May 2005

1:40am: Back to "politics", as well as comments about PC NY.
Orson Scott Card posted an article on the "Ornery American" website (www.ornery.org) that, according to their "about" page, is a fairly open-minded website when it comes to publishing essays. Card happens to be a regular contributer to a site that says they don't care if you're "Dr. Important" or whatever. The article was about the Newsweek snippet that claimed US troops/guards were descrating the Qu'ran in front of detainees and the supposed outlash from Muslims and other sources around the world that called Newsweek's publication of it irresponsible.

Card made some interesting points, although after reading the article you could probably figure out that my politics and his don't coincide. However, I have a respect for other people's political opinions, and try to read anything political with as open of a mind as I can.

I agree that the media, although without an armed force to back it up, has a great deal of power that might be characterized as unchecked. Although Card does not mention it, it is my belief that this power comes from often being a monopoly on people's information sources (despite there being obvious news sources on both sides of the American political spectrum), combined with the fact that they have to make a profit, and thus need to cater to advertisers by publishing things people will read. I note that he agrees with the sanctity of no prior restraint, while advocating something should be done with those who break journalistic standards. While most people are obviously aware that publications like the Weekly World News is pure tripe, what happens when legitimate jounalism is infected by someone like Jayson Blair who plainly fabricates stories and does as much work as he can to make sure he isn't rooted out? Jayson Blair should be in jail 4L for what he did to the reputation of a great American newspaper. See http://slate.msn.com/id/2082741/ for something of a background of this if you're not sure what I'm talking about. Freedom of the press only extends to the government placing restraints on the publishing of the truth. If a story can be proven to be a fabricated lie, the author and anyone else who knew it was false deserve punishment. This obviously doesn't apply to publications that have a reputation for fabrication/humor, like the Onion, WWN, etc.

I'm not up on the facts of the Newsweek case, but if it turns out to be another Dan Rather-like blunder, I would hope that the author and fact checker would get severe reprimands, if not fines/jail time for their poor journalism. If the publisher had a good reason to believe what was in the magazine was true, that's a different story. But the writers for a major national news magazine better make damn sure that their sources are accurate for a potentially inflamatory story if they want to keep their jobs.

Unfortunately, while Card may be right in that there is a lack of patriotism in this country, he attacks the main base of people who would potentially be reading his article. Geeks that read and loved Ender's Game (note: I never have) are probably the largest source of the population of people who plant themselves firmly in Smartland. While I do not dispute its existance and its often hypocritical attitude towards political issues, along with its disdain for those "below" them, does Card not consider that maybe the intellectual elite might have a slightly better idea of what's right, politically, economically, etc? When he says that our side believes it can do no wrong, consider that its positions are probably out of a much deeper contemplation of the issues than the other side. Combined with the fact that, to similar extents, the other side believes it can do no wrong as well, Card is just talking out of his ass.

On that note, patriotism is completely overrated. The title of one of my rants is "I hate Americans", so my position on this issue is quite clear. Americans, and humans in general, are pretty much ignorant to all the forces at work in the world today. Only the Illum----, I mean, those in power know the true extent of everything that goes on, and might be limited to one guy who sits in an office and talks to a cat he calls "The Lord" (I applaud those who understand the reference; I'll even continue it). I suffer from perfectly ordinary paranoia, in which I always know that there's something sinister at work. The extent of it isn't clear, but I wouldn't be surprised if members of a pan-dimensional race who disguise themselves as mice were those at the helm of human affairs. I'm actually envious of those that live their life thinking there's something resembling a Christian God who will grant them everlasting life in Heaven if they follow the rules laid down 2000+ years ago in books written decades after the fact and translated at least twice that contradict other rules they claim to follow from even older books that have been translated even more often, when those rules include things like how often you can beat your slave and how to sell your daughter into whoredom.

Right. So I was born in Ohio. I've lived in Michigan for most of my life, and spent about as much time in Minnesota as I have in Ohio. I believe in state's rights and that the federal government exists only to regulate interstate relations and provide for national security. Under my scheme of things, I'm a Ohioan living in Michigan. Or maybe I'm a naturalized citizen of Michigan, since my voting card doesn't mention Ohio on it. I care more about what happens in Southern Ontario than I do Alabama. How can I consider myself anything but a citizen of the world? While I may owe the United States my "freedom", what has the federal government done for me? Cause a friend from HS to be kicked out of the Navy for violating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Threaten states with removing highway funding if they don't maintain an absurdly high absolute drinking age. Michigan and the three Detroit Metro counties have done much more for my life than anyone in Washington. I could rail against them as well, but that wouldn't be the point. I owe next to nothing to the United States federal government. The only thing I can think of is the Survivor benefit I got for about a few years after my father died. And it was a complete waste of money that would have been better spent on families that actually needed it. I have no qualms with moving to a different country, and I wouldn't feel as though the US would be my home. I'd consider myself Canadian, or British, or Australian, or whatever, for as long as I lived in that particular country. I feel no sense of attachment that isn't caused by the presence of family, friends, and a decent economy. Ok, so that's one place I might consider thanking our government for having a central bank that can control the money supply, but I feel the same could have been the case, and Michigan could have prospered even more, were each state more independant.

Back to Card. His next point about Muslim's cry-baby attitude might be accurate, but I don't think if helps. Americans were whiners when it came to paying their taxes to England. There were riots. At the very least, my HS US history teacher is of the opinion that the basis of the American Revolution was, on the whole, fabricated. Much like many believe the basis for attacking Iraq was. Calling Muslims out for bitching about the Newsweek article will only make relations worse. Is it better to discipline a child over and over, or try to understand what is making them act up? You want a reason why Muslims hate America? "God Bless America". I can tell you that right there is the source of a lot of anger against the attitude of Americans. Guess what the word for God is in Arabic? Muslims believe it can't be translated, so we end up calling the God of Islam Allah instead of Jehovah, Yahweh, or whatever, when they believe that He is one and the same as the God of the Christians and Jews. So if that phrase were to be translated into Arabic (and then back to English), they'd hear "Allah bless America". How would you feel if a country that has been not exactly your friend continues to claim that your God blesses them? On the subject of bad patriotic phrases, since when was Pride good? I thought that Christians believe it to be one of the seven "deadly" sins. Yet the same people who go to church every week are espousing that they're proud to be American.

Nevertheless, he is somewhat accurate. Mormonism has a similar basis and a shakier foundation, but they really don't care about being lambasted in the media. They don't have any compunction for acceptance among outsiders. Countries where Muslims are a majority or even a large minority have issues with fundamentalists wanting to codify the Sharia. Most seem to lack a sense of religious toleration. Unfortunately, I don't think that can be traced to Islam, but to the people that Islam has converted. Islam supposedly preaches acceptance towards Jews and Christians, while most of them in the Middle East act hostile towards those groups.

And of course when Card start lambasting the Democratic party, I can only half disagree. The only problem is that whatever issues that he has with the Dems, he has his blinders on with respect to the Republicans. Both parties do their best to undermine democratic participation while they preach the exact opposite. Card relates the Democrats to puritans, but can't the exact same things be said, and much more accurately, about the Republicans? Haven't there been far more Presidents in recent decades that have been "radical" Protestants (compared to Catholics/Anglicans) that resemble the Puritans? How exactly do you call the Democrats ones that are puritanizing everthing when what you're describing is happening with much more fervor from the Republican side?

So why did I read this article and became interested in writing this rant?. It was posted on fark. By the time I read it, the comment counter was already at infi. Like most fark political flamewars, it had people from all over the political spectrum. Unfortunately, everyone tends to be polarized. I haven't gone over everything in Card's article, because he does make some interesting points that can't just be dismissed. And yet everyone reads this as a crack job neo-con because of his support for Bush, his obvious leaning towards his faith (especially in the last line), his lambasting of Newsweek and the Democrats, but fails to grasp the main points. The issue at hand was Newsweek's apparent lack of journalistic oversite, our people's lack of patriotism (which can be justifiable, even though I whole-heatedly disagree), and the reaction of the Muslim world. Whether Bush lied is immaterial, even if Bush's apparent charge of WMD is taken as truth by this author to help illustrate a point. The point stands even without this reference. His rhetoric may be a bit hyperbolic, but he is in the right to question exactly how free current journalism should be when it leads to fiascos like this.

On the home front, I still have failed to get my car window 100% replaced, but I made my doctor's appointment. I didn't go to New York, and my problems with the Guptil clan may rise because of my doctors' request I not go anywhere when changing medicine, but I'm not sure if I would have liked it. I am still of the feeling that traveling to judge is getting to be a pain. I may need to do it if I want to prove I'm over emotional issues in order to progress judge levels, but it's pretty clear that they're not going anywhere for some time.

On the New York front, I hope that Mike Jacob didn't lose to anyone that spent 10 minutes thinking. He and vdGinst both crept into Day 2 at 7-5. Di Shi did better than I expected: he apparently won at least 3 games. I had him pegged for 2 at the best. Rob Leander (who is most likely a raging ch33t0r) failed to make Day 2, although Gay Balls made it in comfortably. Cory Braiterman, the guy who venomously called on the judge list for White Genju to be errated because he and his cohort of the best drafters in NY determined it was beyond broken, qualified via grinders and made Day 2.

Zvi lost a "feature" match to J Gary Wise when both were 2-4, in a matchup that his deck should basically never lose. Force basically considers X-Stall a bye; their end game is trumped by yours, and if you get the nuts you can win early. Zvi obviously had no clue how to play the deck or what his game plan for auto-win should have been, but somehow he scooped on turn 8 since he couldn't deal with Jean Grey. Huh? Did he completely fail to get his own Jean Grey lock despite having Longshot + X-School most of the game? Sure, he missed a lot, but the ONLY way you lose is if your opponent runs Press the Attack to burn you out with Pro-X (not much you can do there), or you just don't have your own Jean Grey. Calling Jean Grey + Wolverine every single time once you have Avalon (which he obviously did early) is not necessarily a bad plan. Yet he called for other characters multiple times; characters that proved completely useless since his board was locked down.

Also, the Mullet Man (Longshot) found his way into another X-Men based deck, one based on agressively playing Xavier's Dream. Instead of stalling and clearing the board with Jean Grey or Gamma Bomb, he plays Total Anarchy to make sure all his weenies die, Death in the Family for a "free" way to get rid of other stunned guys, and Beast to get the Dream started early. Longshot is aided by the inclusion of 12 GCPD officers, although he has Alfred and Bat Signal as search affects that mess up the stacking of the deck. nonethless, guaranteeing a Dream and Total Anarchy with Alfred and Beast with Bat Signal is pretty solid, and Longshot was just a natural inclusion in a X-men based deck that wants to run lots of cops and needs to find specific cards. One might say the same thing about Mullet Man in Force: it makes a ton of sense to run it in a Lost City based deck that wants lots of the same characters and needs to find its combo.

Going back to Zvi, the coverage made it seem that he had a courtesy invite. Dave Weitz said that he judges Vs rather than playing in part because he was guaranteed a courtesy invite whenever he wanted to use it. I'm sure that Gary Wise didn't have a real invitation either. Jeff Donais gave Jeff Peters a courtesy invite to the first PC, and it seems that anyone who has a name that wants to play in a PC can just ask and receive. I really don't have a huge problem with this, since anyone who is decent at the game at all can rack up enough credits to play in a PC (Example: Di Shi), but it seems absurd. The one "courtesy" invite in Magic is the one from the Invitational, and even that is codified now. I can't imagine them just letting Ryan Jones play in a PT just because he won a Vs Pro Circuit. Or letting Ted Knutson play because he normally just does reporting. Or letting Guptil play because he's a L5 judge. Half the reason has to be attendance; they really need to boost numbers at their big events. The other half is probably that they don't want to alienate people from the game by requiring invites for people who are probably better than half the field anyway. My only concern is that they keep having to use them, which is not a justifiable long term strategy.

I should probably head to bed, but I'm not really tired. Are there drafts tomorrow at BD? Feel free to call....
Current Mood: apathetic

24th May 2005

4:24am: I still hate my life
There was a period of time at the Pre-release that I actually had a legitimate thought of killing myself sometime in the near future, and barring that, killing someone else to take out my rage at life. I don't totally blame John Wolpert (or whatever his name is) nor Denise Guptil for incurring my latest mental breakdown, but their actions and attitudes didn't help.

The basic story is that Aaron Breider appealed a ruling and argued with the HJ, insinuating that the ruling implied that one could flat-out cheat at a PR. John was there and did some arguing of his own. Shawn and I took him aside and talked to him as well, and he was clearly not getting the point of what we were saying at all. He called me biased against Aaron when I started to mention that Aaron's play could have been abusing the fact that his opponent forgot (for 5 seconds) a trigger whose resolution (but not announcement, since it was targeted and there were 2 possible targets) was optional. Our tempers started flaring unnecessarily, although Shawn tried to keep me in control. Denise approached us, but didn't say anything. Once that issue had semi-resolved, Phil Cape proceeds to say that they've been waiting a long time for me to start a booster draft. I proceed to go "???", and ask Denise what was going on. Given that she had been right there, one would think she could have pulled me aside to tell me. She claims that they'd called me up via the PA system, but I know for a fact that its coverage in some areas was rather weak. And regardless, I'd been working the team event all day and hadn't been told ever that they planned on me running booster drafts. And I absolutely hate running them too.

I proceed to "bitch" at Denise while trying to remain calm, attempting to explain why I thought the situation was being handled sub-optimally, but given Denise's apathy to it, I couldn't keep my emotions in check. I broke into tears and had to go into the back room. I asked to speak to John, and managed to reach some sort of understanding with him, but I felt that complaining to Denise any more would not make things any better. It's stuff like this that keeps me from being a L2 judge, for those of you that keep asking me why I'm not. I lack composure. I'm prone to breaking down when things get piled on top of me through no (or little) fault of my own. Mike told me I could reasonably try for L3 given my knowledge of rules, procedures, etc, but my mental state prevents me from fully realizing my potential.

I don't know if I'm going to ever judge Limited events again. Judging is really getting on my nerves, especially as I become friends with more local players at both RIW and BD. I might even consider playing constructed if I can get enough time to learn how to play a deck. I love playing Limited however, and the entire reason I started judging more often was poor results at Limited events. Now that I'm playing the game more often and drafting with good players, I think my game has improved, although i still lack some creativity. And Shawn and Denise can at times be very unpleasant to be around, and when there's these events at 3 locations on one day, they are the authority on site. Hopefully nothing too bad will come about at Regionals. Of course, since I detest Vs. Limited, and most Vs. events are dual-formatted, I'll continue judging all of them. Add to the fact that I'll need the income, and it's obvious. But Limited events, Pre-releases in particular, have annoyed the shit out of me. If there's anything I hate, it's players who cannot comprehend how to fill out Limited deck lists, cannot check the right boxes, double check the boxes and card counts, and fail to verify the deck list (I'm directing that last one at a lot of experienced players) until they go to register the deck they're playing. I don't mind picking up trash. Or handing out result slips. Or doing deck checks. Or trying to correct game states. Some of it is part of the work that has to go into it, or part of reason I "enjoy" judging in the first place. But Limited Deck list errors are completely avoidable by anyone who knows what they're doing. I'm thinking that we should pre-reg every deck. I'd much rather do that than endure the above.

Now onto why the rest of my life sucks. It looks like I'm not getting a teaching assistant position for the fall. I'm making very slow progress on my extentions. I don't have a job other than judging. I hate having to rely on mother. My sleep is irregular, and generally too long. I still have to get my car window re-replaced and my brakes done. The auto shop we've gone to for my Neon looks like they're going to move/close soon. And As much as I'd hated to have to devote time to them, I miss having a girlfriend. And I certainly don't feel like devoting time looking.

And knowing that I'll likely have to take medication the rest of my life really, really, really sucks. I should sleep now.
Current Mood: lethargic

16th May 2005

2:06pm: Vs 10k
Quite an interesting time was had at the Detroit Vs 10k, held in conjunction with 2 YGO regionals. Piekarski goes 4-0, 0-3 and drops. Chet goes 3-4 and presumably leaves with Chris, as I fail to see them near the end of the day. Mike Jacob loses "mirror" to Chris and doesn't lose another match until round 9, and then loses in round 10 to fail to make t8 after his opponent sat and thought for supposedly fifteen minutes. If I was judging that match, I would have found that completely unacceptable. What I also found strange was that apparently there wasn't a judge assigned to watch the feature match, as I handled a call from the feature table, located in behind the back tables, despite being assigned to mainly watch the front two rows.

Chris vdGinst (I write it this way due to an experience I had grading papers at college; a Dutch student whose name was vanSomething wrote their name as if v. was a middle initial, and thus their last name was (according to them) just "Something". It was alphabetized in the normal English fashion under Vansomething. It made returning homework to their mailbox a nearly impossible task the first time) was the runner-up to some random 16 year old, beating Adam Prosak in the semis.

My weekend personally featured very little sleep, some excellent food from Pizza Popallis in Greektown, and getting lifts to and from the site due to my car being out of commission; someone smashed my car window and stole some shoes and flashlights from my car last week, and ignored all my cards that were in it. I just went to get it replaced, and the piece of glass they had didn't quite fit. They also failed to put the door panel back on very well, making the door not want to open after being slammed shut. Shoddy work, and I'll have to go back and pay a $100 deductible, meaning insurance barely covered half of it. My lack of real job for this summer is going to be a hit on my budget, although I do have a stockpile of cards and judge foils.

Time for lunch.
Current Mood: hungry

10th May 2005

9:29pm: Meh.
Yesterday's class was boring as all hell, given that the preliminaries are exactly the same as those from Combinatorics. I went to RIW afterwards and was guilted into lending Di Shi about half the cards he needed for their Common Enemy build, including 2 Valeria Richards which they claim are impossible to find. I managed to play a few games with Force against Common Enemy and Curve Sentinels, the latter of which I got the nut low draws. I may end up going there after class tomorrow as well, but I'm not a fan of the ridiculously long drive back.

I got out of bed around 5pm today after going to bad around 2am. Go me. I went up to the bd and watched some n00bs draft while I thought about a Vs deck. Then I came home. Go me.

I'm so excited.
Current Mood: depressed

9th May 2005

4:05am: Not entirely a political rant.
So my mother left for St. Louis this morning, Mother's day. I haven't gotten anything for her, and her birthday's today, er, yesterday. It's 4am. I have class in about 13 hours. My first class of the Summer. I'm not sure if I'm going to sleep at all or not.

I went up to the blue dragon (heretofore abbreviated bd by just about most people) and there was basically no one. I regret drafting with the n00bs last night. It was a complete waste of time. My teammate ends up goign 2-0 while I go 1-1 since the one decent person on their team got their nut draws against me, and my teammate's bad cards turn out to be decent. When you get passed Meloku, get 4th and 5th pick glacial rays, end up in black because that's where most of the playable cards are, there's something wrong. Meloku ended up winning me every single game I won. My two torrents, two rays and a handful of other removal failed to do much of anything, as most of my creatures were mediocre. But Meloku just won, like he always tends to do.

I'm fearing this week. I'm hopefully going to get to school and start this term on the right note, but I'm also worried about getting my extensions finished. I've done no actual work in the two weeks I've had, although I at least have a decent grasp of the linear algebra that I already had in my last term at Carleton that for some reason is showing up in the second half of my Algebra II course. I'm really scared about analysis too, although it's probably just me being pessimistic.

Whenever I think about my Vs collection, I can't get my mind off the cards of mine that people have. Especially the ones Mattis has. At least Tom appears to actually know about them, and will presumably have them at the 10k this weekend. I'm sorta glad that Chet indicated that he and Chris are getting good use of the Force deck they borrowed, but I wasn't planning on them keeping it this long. Good luck in the 10k.

I spent much of today following the PT Philly T8 exploits of Ryan Cimera, known on MiseTings as BubbleTape, or more recently, :B. No, he's not related in anyway to the team of that name; check out his picture from his T8 at GP Seattle. He made a n00b error that kept him from winning game 5 and more than doubling his earnings, as well as "proved" that weenie decks are getting owned by control decks. At least he didn't make the very least money of someone in the t8 of a PT; that honor goes to the guy who finished 8th, who made a few hundred less. 9th place ended up with more money than either of them. All the t8 were well short of what they'd have gotten in the normal payout scheme. Around 30-40th, the amounts equalized, so I'm not sure if on the whole people are happy or sad about the payout change for Philly or not.

I also made a rather bold statement on MiseTings that could be interpreted as ":B sucks at Limited". His rating is higher than Kyle Goodman's, but that's not saying much. He's 11th in Colorado Springs and like 106th in Colorado. He has 3 pro points from GP Seattle and 12 for his T8 here. Presuming that he goes to London, he needs 5 points, or top 32 I think, to get to Level 3. That's pretty steep for someone who probably has never drafted on that level before. Of course, he'll probably be invited to LA on rating, so he can spread those 5 points over 2 PTs: top 128 at one would suffice. And he also might Q for worlds, but that would probably require him getting 20 pro points before then, as I don't see him making t8 at Nats or having anywhere near the necessary composite rating.

Ramble, Ramble.

I probably have stopped caring about politics, perhaps because there's not much point for the next few years. As much as I hoped that Bush would be defeated, I have to say I wasn't surprised that he managed to rally his consituents to the cause of banning gay marriage. Using side issues to draw out voters to the precincts is an amazing politcal strategy that just goes to show how backwards our political culture is today. I've actually thought about a system that would allow everyone to maintain their vote, but have the votes of people that are actually informed about the issues, the candidates, and the world in general count heavier somehow. Give an extra vote for a college degree, another two if it's in Political Science, one if its in Economics. Another 2 for an advanced degree in Economics, and, say, 10 if it's in Political Science. Maybe another for an advanced degree in any science. And then you could take a test about the issues at the precinct which would scale your votes for each race depending on how informed you are about the various elections. Of course, it would be impossible to ever put such a system in place, but it's a nice dream.

I voted for Badnarik, by the way. Kerry failed to earn my vote, and my politics are just as libertarian as they are liberal.
Current Mood: depressed

9th May 2004

2:10pm: Americans suck.
I admit it. I hate Americans.

The fact that enough people voted for the scum bag that's in office is bad enough. I really don't care that the majority didn't, because the same was true for Clinton. People will continue to support him because the right will continue to lampoon any media coverage as being biased in their normal "liberal media bias" method. But that's not really what I want to talk about.

American culture is controlled by a few select major corporations whose decisions are influenced not by what is best for society, what is of higher artistic value, or what they like, but by what will sell. That much should be obvious to anyone who actually stops to think about it. But what isn't so clear is that by consciously making these decisions, they are brainwashing the American people as well as themselves. I don't think it's intentional, because I can't believe that those responsible would be that ambitious or greedy to go on a mass campaign to make the American people as ignorant as possible in order for them to be even better consumers of the filth that is called popular entertainment.

One refreshing sign was the 35th anniversary Yes concert I was at yesterday which was absolutely packed with people of all ages up to 55 or so. People approximately my age, or mid-twenties, the height of the average concert goer, were really eating it up. Compared to most concerts, there were a ton of instrumental changes, song formats, and mind-blowing experiences that weren't just loud guitar riffs and screaming lyrics. The first Yes concert I went to they had Kansas as their "opening act," but it seemed that most people appreciated Kansas far more. Damn rednecks. People can't appreciate the skill that went into the creation of a 10 or 20 minute song; they want the 3 minute processed pop. I'm surprised that there were as many people as there were due to the fact I got amazing seats dirt cheap 2 days before.

However, there was one thing that I was really irritated by, and is perhaps indicative of the true nature of people that tend to go to arena events, whether concerts or sports. There was an ad for the Michigan State Lottery. You could buy the tickets right there. And they weren't advertising the largest game which if it gets to a large enough jackpot actually has a positive expectation. It was the instant games and the lower level stuff, all of which run a healthy profit margin for the government. It's sad that people will justify it by saying "It goes to education" or whatever when the truth is that it goes to a general fund from which the education dollars come from. I almost think that its a subtle jab at the stupidity of people who buy lottery tickets that maybe they should get an education instead of gambling. There was a professor at college that had a sticker on his door that read "The Lottery: A tax on those that can't do math."


So what is it about Americans that makes them suck? That in general they don't think for themselves. I can almost hear the bleating in the background whenever I pass by a church service. Fucking sheep. Catholics are bad enough, but that a healthy percentage of Americans are fundamentalist or more conservative than the Roman church is disgusting. And you know that they got his information drilled into their head as a kid and have never even thought about questioning it.

I was raised Catholic. I went to church nearly every week. I got confirmed at the "normal" time for my church. I attended services when I could my first year of college. But as college improved my thinking skills, it started to tear down what little faith I had that the Catholic Church knew anything about the true nature of the universe. I fail to see how anyone could know God's will due to poorly translated manuscripts that claim to have been divinely inspired despite the fact that there are clear political aims of the text. Or that "Jesus loves me \ this I know \ because the Bible \ tells me so." What trash are we teaching kids these days?

Of course, the creationists will just attack science as being just as faith-based as their own beliefs. They'll drag out the evidence opposing evolution while trumping one poor document as the proof of their argument. Obviously anything not supported by the current theory is obviously proof of a completely different theory that only has a single shred of direct evidence, right? That people would even think about "teaching" creationism in public school outside of a theology course that explores all sorts of creation myths of various societies shows that people don't give a damn about freedom from religious establishment.

I'll finish off by complaining about the propensity of Americans to buy junk to give each other at certain times of the year. Unfortunately, this propensity is quite likely the reason that the economy has generally prospered. That doesn't mean I feel compelled to be part of it.
Current Mood: depressed

7th May 2004

11:40pm: A basis point
Everyone has to start somewhere.

The government should only exist as minimally necessary; I actually think that this is something most people would agree with. Anything the government does that they don't have to do causes them to collect unneeded taxes. Any collection of taxes reduces the amount of useful production that can be done. Most people don't like their money being taken from them and given to others anyway, so those that support lower taxes are generally more likely to be elected.

Of course, the government in the past with the New Deal and the Great Society has promised a great deal to the future generations, with very little foresight into how much its going to cost those generations. It is readily acknowledged that the promises of Social Security will be unable to be fulfilled in the next few decades as the largest population segment gets into the retirement age while modern medicine lengthens their lifespan. I've read reports that at the current rate, the government will use the entirety of their income to pay interest on the nation debt by the time all the "baby boomers" are dead.

Current economic politics are focused on one or the other. One side says that lower taxes will stimulate job growth and are overall better for the economy. The other side says that without repealing the tax cuts, the US will go bankrupt. Both sides are probably correct in their assessments. If our economy goes in the toilet it really won't matter if the government remains solvent. I don't know what sorts of economic ramifications there would be if the US government defaulted on its loans, but even if investors lost a little money on their bonds, that's the price they pay. I'm surprised long term US bond rates aren't rising, or if they have that it hasn't made bigger news, given the fact that it looks like our government is headed for default. Obviously demanding higher rates will make them more likely, but the risk of holding long term notes seems to be rising.

I am not a politician, nor am I an economist. I'm not a sociologist, psychologist, lawyer, or theologist either. But all the other issues that our country faces seem miniscule compared to the teetering economy combined with the growing debt. Things seem to be getting better for Americans, but businesses in general aren't dumb; they aren't going to let another bubble burst for a very long time. It'll take another huge leap in technology that people invest too much money in for our economy to get any worse than it is. Thus I feel that we should definitely look toward balancing the federal budget ahead of trying to recover the economy. The latter is purely a political gesture, a focus on re-election. The former policy shows that one truly cares about the future of America.

Thank you for reading,

-Steven Glowacki
Current Mood: depressed
8:08pm: I've realized why I started this.
The first thing I wrote in my mini-bio was that I had no clue why I wanted to start this Journal. When I finished the bio, I mentioned my hatred of the Republican Party and listed a URL. Once I did that, I realized that I could use this space as a place to put all my political ramblings down somewhere so that I could go back and read them as well as hopefully have other people at least partially motivated to start doing something about the political quagmire the United States is in right now.

Expect to see some relaitvely uninformed politics in this space in the time to come. Not that I imagine many people are reading this.
Current Mood: depressed
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