Friday, December 30, 2016

Divergent Universes Tend to Converge

"The Road Not Taken"  by Robert Frost
The poem on the right is one of America's best-known poems by one of our best-known poets. Most people think of it as speaking to the importance of of how standing out from the crowd and marching to a different drummer is of supreme importance (...the one less traveled by..) while the poet himself (and a lot of critics) point out that it is about regret and might-have-beens. (the sigh in the last stanza is not contented but regretful).

For my part, I am going to use it to speak to multiple universes. And the fate of multiple universes to eventually become singular.

The idea of divergent universes is an oft-used conceit in fiction - that every decision spurs off a completely separate universe, identical except for the fact that this one decision has been made. Sometimes the separate universe is radically different, sometimes it is similar except for one crucial detail, depending on the nature of the story being told. The hows and whys of that is a matter of temporal topology and not quite what we're talking about here. What I am considering is the sheer aggregate of decision points that get made on a daily basis.

While the poem's speaker is at a conscious decision point, making a single choice, we are making decisions continually on the fly, at a flurrying clip. Wake up or sleep in? Which shirt to wear? Make breakfast or skip? Two or three sausages for breakfast? So before I even leave the house I have cast off a multitude of multiverses, almost but not quite identical. And that is just for me. The cats could be setting up their own universes as the same time.

The vast majority of these choices make no difference whatsoever. Maybe some of them have long-term effects (I skip breakfast, get hit by a car because I am four minutes early to a traffic light, Faster-than-light travel is thereby delayed by ten years), but there is no real way of telling at the time of the decision whether this is a minor decision, or one that I will look at years hence and say, "If only I had taken the other road." (which is what the poem is saying).

So universes are sharding off continually, but these small existential universes quickly collapse back into the main probabilities. In Frost's terms, all the paths eventually converge in that yellow wood, so it does not matter The timeline splits but then comes back together. So instead of divergent timelines, we get a cloud of possibilities that tend to coalesce back into a smooth temporal narrative.

And the larger the scope of time becomes, the more of these potential universes become the same universe. And, if the universe is fated to an ultimate contraction or a cosmic entropy, all the universes will come together into the same ending. The path only matters to the individuals on that path.

Tied into that is that we seem to remember things differently. This has been called the Mandela Effect, and posits that, instead of people just remembering things wrong (which, to be honest, is more likely but less fun), we have alternate pasts which are converging into a coherent universe, and our memories are the sole evidence (such as it is) of the previous existence

All of this provides an explanation of why 2016 has been such a rough year. We are seeing a winnowing of possible futures, a collapse of realities moving forward. Whether this is a natural effect (like a tide, or the breath of a universe itself) or a purposeful intent (like an elder god) is immaterial - realities are folding in on themselves as we move to a unified universe.

So. A large number of famous people pass on. Weird political results overturn the expected. And yes, even things like a folk singer winning the Nobel for Literature or the Cubs winning a World Series. All of this represents a shift in realities as ours merge with others to produce a final state, and eventually the heat death of the universe.

So we bid 2016 goodbye and hope that 2017 bodes better (even though calenders, like constellations, are mortal attempts to place order onto the universe), and that we reach a stopping point of this multiversal consolidation. Else we will pitch headlong into a future where the past has changed, where everyone knows that Atlantis sunk beneath the waves and the re-election of Jerry Ford.. It probably won't happen that way, but if it does, try to remember you read it hear first (because in such a future, this entry will have changed as well).

More later,

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Game: Uncivilized

Civilization VI, Firaxis Games

Civilization VI cover art.jpgI tend not to write bad reviews. There is so much good stuff out there I'd rather point you in that direction than whinge and moan about something that is grinding my gears. Even if I am in a situation where I confronted with imperfect productions (which is common in theater, books, and games), I tend to lay out the flaws but praise the good points (In theater terms, that's where I praise the set design).

And I am a big fan of the Civ series, from the very beginning. The overall arc from the single covered wagon to the stars is evocative, and creates the framework for the social narrative of the world. I've played each one, rolling through all the nations, and most of the spinoffs, like Alpha Centauri and Colonization.

All that said, the latest Civilization (the 6th, officially) leaves me with a big heaping pile of "Meh". I still play it, and recognize its strong points, but it is just not working for me.

The big challenge is the slowness of the game. Part of that, I thought initially, was that I had an older machine, but I put the game on my work machine (which exists to DESIGN state-of-the-art games). and found the performance just as as kludgy, even with the settings geared to be higher performance. Further, the game is continually accessing the disk, resulting a heat problem on the machine as the game progresses. For a game with a very long timeframe, this is a problem. You're spending a great deal of the game (particularly in the "middle bit" where you've expanded as far as you can easily and are just running an empire) waiting for the AI to move.

And this would not be a problem if it were not for the fact that the AI is pretty miserable. Units are not upgraded, design-making is limited, and attacks are not co-ordinated. Watching two AI empires beating each other up is pretty much watching a slap-fight. Not a lot of activity there.

Also contributing to the slowness is a new feature that I otherwise kind of like - districts. Now instead of building a temple, then a cathedral, and slowly increasing your city center, you now choose a hex to be your "holy site" where the temple and cathedral may be built. Before you can start building religious buildings you need to have already building the requisite district (similarly libraries need a campus and factories need an industrial district). So it takes longer for to get a temple up and operating, and you are limited to how many districts you can build based on size of the city, so that if you build that holy site you may have to wait a while before you start a campus.

And all this poses another challenge - location is of key importance for the new Civ. Since you have to commit a particular location for a district, you want to optimize it (campuses get a bonus if next to a mountain). That makes city planning a lot more involved, and you can plow under a district for another, but that is horribly expensive in time and money (oh, and you can't just "BUY" a district in the same fashion as buying a building in the game.

So where you place your districts have a definite effect on the productivity of your city, and it is a fiddly bit that demands attention. Actually, the game is FILLED with fiddly bits. Each minor nation contributes different effects to your empire. Your government is a hand of cards that you swap in and out, giving you different benefits. Religions have always been a collection of special abilities that you put together, and they are so here again. And the various units have their own promotional trees depending on general type.

The result is that you have a lot of small bits to handle that combine to create your civilization. Any one won't be the ultimate success of your empire, but there are enough to keep you focused on individual cities as opposed to sprawling nations. As a result, you get to a mid-sized empire and hunker down in the midgame, attacking only if attacked, which leads to many turns of watching the AI bumble around. Worse, there is not a lot of encouragement to go out and explore the world, particularly since the areas you discover disappear under a fog of war once your unit moves away from them.

One place where this multitude of fiddly bits does not occur is the tech tree, which should be where choices are important. But they have added Eureka moments which shorten up the time required to get a new tech. What this does, however, is to highlight you tech growth into channels where you have gotten a research time break and therefor don't need to spend as much time (because while you're getting that you might fill out the bonus requirement for another Eureaka).

One of the end results is that you have to commit to a particular victory condition and push hard, much moreso than in previous editions. Unless you create a strong knowledge/industrial operation, backed up by social policies which give you space benefits and space centers in multiple cities, don't even try for the rocket ship. And because everything takes so long, you have to choose early and then not change. 

Finally, let me unleash my inner grognard. Civ II had one of the best reasons to build wonders of the world - On completion, you get a little movie about that wonder. These are relatively simple little films using mostly public domain material, but were perfect cookies as a reward. They have never caught up with that in later editions. Civ VI shows the wonder being built in the game-world (yes, they require their own tile) but that's not nearly as cool as it once was (Oh, and since the wonders are limited where they can be built, there are fewer wonders showing up, particularly in your opposition, so getting cheesed out of a wonder at the last moment is a minor thing).

Also in the "soft" frustrations of the game is the quotes, which are generally weaker than in Civ 5, even if they are voiced by Sean Bean. Some of them are not real quotes, or rather the result of people doing a google search (there is a George Carlin quote for archery that I have yet to be able to find). I do miss the live advisors I had back in Civ II, who squabbled and argued with each other. The enemy leaders are cartoonish, on Pixar level, but I had to ditch the animations for performance. The units are nice (and here we are praising the set design), but I had to dial back on the graphics just to get it to run at a half-decent speed.

End result? Meh. It is true to its original in its narration, and I will still dink around with it, but only on Sunday afternoons when I have a lot of time on my hand, and a book handy while I wait for the computer to cycle through its moves. I don't think I'm going to run through all the various leaders any time soon, and will check in as they patch and fix those pieces they feel important. And we'll see where Civ VII leads.

More later,

Thursday, December 22, 2016

And to All A Good Night

Grubbstreet wishes you and yours a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy Holiday Season.

Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Luc Olivier Merson (1879), MFA, Boston.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Play: Love in the Time of Evacuation

Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, Directed by May Adrales, Seattle Rep, through 1 January.

Saigon fell in 1975, four months before my 18th birthday. Like many of my generational cadre, I had a vested interest in the progress of the war, the draft, particular draft numbers, and its aftermath. More at an arms length I was aware of the fate of the Vietnamese refugees that fled that country in the wake of the Communist takeover. News was filled with the initial refugees, and the later Vietnamese Boat People, involving temporary quarters in US Military camps and a diaspora across the United States.

This is a story of evacuees, the first to escape South Vietnam in the wake of the communist takeover. It is also a comedy. And a musical. And has at one point a dance-off.

The play opens with the "Playwright" (Moses Villerama, who expertly handles all the minor male roles in the play) who asks for the audience to silence phones and unwrap hard candy, and makes clear that the play is not about his parents and how they met in a refugee in Arkansas (which of course means that this is exactly what the play is about). Introduces the cast and introduces a conceit - All the Vietnamese characters will be speaking in English, while the American characters will be talking in what English sounds like to outsiders (A jumble of perky, upbeat, gibberish - "Cheeseburger Cheerleader Freckles!).

And it works, in must the same way that the iambic pentameter worked in King Charles III. It brings us closer to the main characters and stresses the otherness of the Americans (A colleague once described that the rest of the world thinks of Americans as "blondes" - nice, pleasant, but totally cluelessness and dangerous even when they are trying to do the right thing).

The story itself is of two people you assume will never get together. Tong (Jeena Yi) is thirty, sarcastic, and exhausted from dating weepy men (Moses Villarama again). Quang (James Ryen) is a chopper pilot for the VNAF who is married and has two kids he never sees. As South Vietnam is collapsing Tong gets the magic ticket out for herself and a plus-one - wants to take her brother (Will Dao) but instead takes her acerbic mom (Amy Kim Waschke). Quang flies his buddy Khue (Will Dao again) and a helicopter of evacuees out to a US ship, and finds he cannot go back for his family. He finds he can't return, and he is now a refugee himself.

Quang and Tong meet in Arkansas. The two have a stormy relationship. Tong is romanced by a well-meaning, literally blonde American soldier (Moses Villerama, again). Quang gets an old Harley-Davidson motorcycle and with his sidekick Khue heads for California, intent on getting back to the war and rescuing his family.

The play itself unspools in timejumps over the summer of '75. Saigon Arkansas, and on the road with Quang and Khue. The stage dressing itself helps with title cards telling where we are now. Quang and Kue play out Easy Rider, right down to hippies, rednecks, and fringe tassels on Kue's jacket. Tong is trying to figure out how to acclimate with a very recalcitrant Mom whose sharp-tongued attacks on her surroundings ground a lot of the comedy in sense of family.

The actors are fantastic, and James Ryen makes Quang likeable and is, quite frankly, a hottie. Amy Kim Waschke spits out lines like they were fried American vegetables, and Moses Villarama is the utility player, flipping between characters like they were in his rolodex. The play itself gives the feeling of the people and the time, addressing the American "blonde-ness" in both how the war was fought and how it was fought against. It personalizes it and makes it more readable in human terms, and ends on a very touching note.

There are quibbles. Hip-hop wasn't QUITE a thing when the events went down, and there are modern anachronisms ("I got 99 problems, but the war ain't one"), but hey, we got Hamilton rapping up a storm these days, so that's the magic of theater (thought I was time-checking the music chosen at the breaks as well). The backlit stage was OK, but the chalkwork "pictures from home" that surfaces during monologs and solo songs didn't seem to fit well. These are minor things.

This is a good play in what is shaping up as yet another very good season for the Rep. Go check it out on Christmas Break.

More later,

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Political Desk: Zombies and Vampires

A while back, in a discussion of horror movies, the Lovely Bride's sister asked about the difference between zombies and vampires. And I said "Zombies are about the fear of the mob. Vampire are about fear of the elites."

I rarely say things like that which feel profound. Now, over a year and a half later, this comment still sticks in my mind, and has application in the Recent Situation.

[And as an initial digression/disclaimer - Yes, I recognize that both terms are pejorative, and in declaring your particular viewpoint as one or the other may well offend. OK. A lot of what we've been going through for the past year has been fired by fear, whether fear of mobs (zombies) or fear of the elites (vampires). Yet I will press on.]

Let's start with making the zombie/mob and vampire/elite connections. It is pretty clear about it when you're thinking about it. While early film zombies come out of a slavery tradition (there is usually some witch doctor turning people into zombies), in 1968 "Night of the Living Dead" pretty much crystalized the form (they were actually called "ghouls" in the film).

The modern rules about zombies, however, comes out of that film. No one is afraid of a single zombie - they attack in hordes. They are brainless, or at least uncaring. Driven by primal hunger. Sometimes they are fast, but mostly they are slow, but unavoidable. Relentless. They are everywhere. It doesn't matter if you take one down - they are amazingly egalitarian. They are replaceable, in that another will take their place should they fall. You can't negotiate with a zombie. They are the mob, the mindless masses, the unthinking hunk that once were human. There's no "lead zombie" but if there is someone trying to control them, they do so at the risk of the zombies turning on them.

The vampires, on the other hand, are elites, and go all the way back to Stoker and the Romantics, when just about everyone worth talking about was in the upper classes. Dracula himself was a count, a local ruler. Vampires live better than anyone else, but prey on the life force of everyone else. They take what they want out of a sense of privilege. They have cultured tastes and upper-class professions, when they have professions at all. Often independently wealthy. They dress well. Individual vampires keep coming back, regardless of how you think of you've disposed of them. They are hierarchical, with one vampire in charge, with a bunch of minions and brides and subjects reporting back. Yep, they are the 1%.

Now, without being TOO judgmental, this compares with a lot of politics recently. The history of government in general and democracy in particular can be traced to the balance between the powerful (by various definitions) and the masses (by various definitions). The writers of the Constitution were keenly aware of this, such that we are mostly a representational democracy, in that we chose individuals who are then supposed to vote on our behalf. Senators were originally appointed positions by the states, since letting actually people vote directly gave them too much power.

And indeed, that's been the argument through the years - balancing the many and the few, the lower and the upper, the zombies and the vampires. Heck, even the Roman Republic was a balance between the ruling oligarchs and the mobs. The rulers could make the law, but when they got out hand, the mob was a force in its own right. Greek city-states? Direct democracy, right down to the point where you could get ostracized from the city by your fellows. Unless there was a crisis, when they needed a strong leader, a single tyrant, a vampire, in charge.

And so, here we are. Over on the Dem side, we definitely had a populist movement in the Sanders candidacy, with huge hordes of passionate supporters showing up. But we don't talk about Mr. Sanders' charisma so much as his addressing root issues and identifying what these masses really wanted. His opponent, Ms. Clinton, was regularly pilloried for her support from corporate supporters. Plus, Rhodes scholar. Plus smarter than you. Yep, Vampire. So on the Dem side of the fence, the vampires won, such that even when the leader of the "zombies" endorsed the vampire, a lot of zombies refused to budge.

Over on the Republican side, the vampires seem to have wiped each other out in Camarilla Drama, leaving the field open to Mr. Trump, who appealed to a restive population with his exaltation to return to the past. And, despite having won the nomination for his party, despite having won the presidency itself, I have yet to read anyone on any side of the issue who has come forward to say "Yep, he's did a great job identifying the rules of the game and how he could win using those rules. Good show!" All the analysis has been on the restive masses who helped him succeed, with a dose of how bad things will be when the zombie hordes turn on their self-declared master.

Where does this go from here? I have no clue. Everyone keeps expecting Mr. Trump to reveal himself to be a Vampire all along (and yeah, the gold leaf on everything is a clue), and the Zombies to turn on him, but I am not quite seeing it yet. A different set of ancient vamps are flooding the upper levels of government, while the zombies are still getting their directives about who to be angry at today. So we seem to be in undiscovered country, waiting for the ghouls, or the liches, or the werewolves to show up.

More later,

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

DOW Breaks 19,000!

Ahah! The DOW has reached an all-time high! Obviously this is a confirmation that the markets support the new administration!

Well, not quite. Part of it is that the economy has been throwing off healthy signs for quite some time now,and regardless of the propaganda off the campaign trail, we continue to see an upward trend. This is what in cooking terms is "carry-over heat" where the turkey's internal temp keeps rising even though you've killed the heat in the oven (pardon the analogy, but 'tis the season).

Part of the rise is that finally, for good or ill, is that things are over. The markets have been doldruming in the mid 18000s for a while now, waiting for the decision. Every investment operation had an "A" envelope and a "B" envelope, depending on the results. A lot of groups didn't have much in the "B" envelope since it didn't look likely, but still, at least there was an envelope. So systems are locked in place.

The weird thing is that no one is really sure what the "B" envelope exactly means. The new guy is fleeing the sweeping declarations he made to get elected at something approaching lightspeed, and no one is quite sure if he means what he is saying NOW or if he's going to heel-turn again. The level at which people are trying to figure out who's REALLY in charge is high, and probably will be with us for some time. This happened with the younger Bush, who conventional wisdom said was the not the brightest soul, but had his father's advisors. And look how that turned out.

So we're probably in for a period of unsettlement in the markets (and everywhere else). If asked if I know where this will go, I can only shrug my shoulders - we're in undetermined territory. I expect the usual suspects will look at this as a sign the "All Will Be Well", but most of these doofs were the same guys who have fretted with every step of the last 10,000 points on the DOW under the last guy. Perhaps I will get to the point of having to write "DOW Breaks 29,000!", which would be kinda cool, but I have my doubts.

More later,

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Play: Totally Modern Shakespeare

King Charles III by Mike Bartlett, Directed by David Muse, through 18 December, Seattle Repertory Theatre.

A very political play, set in an England of the very near future, where Her Majesty Elizabeth II has passed on, and Charles, her greying son, is finally taking the throne. And the new King goes to loggerheads with the Parliament almost immediately over a measure that would restrict Freedom of the Press. The new king is against such a measure, even though it might get the Barons of Fleet Street off his and his family's collective backs, and refuses to provide the royal signature to make it a law (no Pocket Veto in England). The Prime Minister denies that the Crown has the right to withhold its signature. And we are off to the races.

Interesting enough, but the play is written in blank verse. Which is to say iambic pentameter. Which is to say it is written in that lyrical fashion in which Shakespeare himself wrote. Which means the result feels like something off the stage of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of the histories, transplanted into the present say, with rhyming couplets to end a scene that use the words "cell phone".

And much to my surprise, the entire thing works. Shakespeare stalks the halls of Buckingham Palace, where Young Prince Harry evokes Young Prince Hal, even as he fears his fate is to be Falstaff, Kate Middleton is possessed by the spirit of Lady MacBeath, and yes, a ghost of a dead royal shows up. (Or maybe two. I wrote an essay back in college about whether the ghost of Hamlet was singular or plural - it applies here as well). The language among the Brit elites and the people flows naturally for all its poetic, non-rhyming nature.

Robert Joy, as the new King, sketches out a man unprepared, even at this point, to fully emerge from his parent's shadow and take command. And when he takes command, he does so armed with traditions of the past and a willingness to dig his heels in. Ian Merrill Peakes as the Prime Minister is surprised and frustrated by a suddenly intractable monarch, and Bradford Farwell makes for an opposition leader that could have been out of an old episode of Yes, Minister.

Of the family, Christopher McLinden makes a William that is his father's son, and Allison Jean White a bright-eyed, very aware Kate Middleton. Harry Smith as bad-boy Prince Harry engages in a Prince and pauper romance with Jessica (Michelle Beck), a revolutionary with a soft spot, capable of serving as a companion on Doctor Who. The play requires that Prince Harry hasn't encountered a lot of normal life, but that is a small concession for the romance, which will not end well.

The stage is set like Westminster Abbey, with stone ancestors pressing down on the action below. The centuries of monarchy (constitutional and otherwise) weighs heavy on the heads of those who are carrying it forward. Each side believes they are right, but things quickly get out of hand and a tank is parked at Buckingham Palace while King Charles by turns stands resolute and wishes for an easier task so soon in his rule.

In many ways the play was a wondrous cathartic experience, given the recent developments in these parts. The play was written pre-Brexit, but has the feeling of the continual stress and pull of ruler, oligarchy, and people rings true as it moves from the death of one leader to the coronation of another. It does evoke the LBJ play, All the Way, with its protagonist wanting to be validated, to be proven he is worthy for the position he holds. But unlike LBJ, the Charles is this play does not have the right tools and temperament to succeed.

Highly recommended. More later,

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Political Desk: After the Dust Settles

So, what do we have?

This time around, there doesn't look like much that is hanging fire. Due the nature of mail-in ballots, close races sometimes need to wait days, if not weeks, for resolution. But most of the spread of votes here are wide enough to make it clear at the outset. Should it shift radically, I'll update.

I got it totally wrong about the biggest item of the ticket. In fact, I got it completely backwards - Ms. Clinton lost the electoral vote but (at the time of this writing) is winning the popular vote. I regret nothing, and continue to think that Ms. Clinton would have been a better President. But for our little chunk of Pacific Northwest, we did OK. When I got here almost 20 years ago we were out of step with the rest of the country, then became one of the leaders for progressive government, and now we're out of step again. I can work with that. (Though I was kind of looking forward to the taco trucks).

One thing I do want to call out is that yelling at supporters of  Third Party candidates for the loss is kinda off-base. I can't see someone who supported Mr. Johnson's policies suddenly becoming a Democrat if Mr. Johnson had suddenly went away. And if you were so MAD at Ms. Clinton you'd vote for Mr. Johnson instead, regardless of his policies, you'd just as likely vote for Mr. Trump in protest or not vote at all. I also think, as a Sanders supporter, that we would be looking at a McGovern/Nixon level of destruction were he the candidate.

OK, let's see what the damages are (RED is stuff I had endorsed that went the other way):

Initiative Measure No. 1433 (Statewide Minimum Wage) YES
Initiative Measure No. 1464 (Campaign Finance Reform) - NO
Initiative Measure No, 1491 (Reduce access to Firearms) - YES
Initiative Measure No, 1501 (Protect Seniors from Fraud/Reduce Transparency) - YES
Initiative Measure No. 732 Carbon Tax) - NO (This one disappoints me. If it failed because it was "not good enough", now it is our obligation to make one the IS "good enough").
Initiative Measure No. 735 Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizen's United -  YES

Advisory Vote No. 14  House Bill 2768 - MAINTAINED
Advisory Vote No. 15 Second Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2778  - MAINTAINED

Proposed Amendment to the State Constitution Senate Joint Resolution No. 8210. (Move redistricting deadline) - APPROVED

King County Charter Amendment No. 1 Nonpartisan Prosecuting Attorney.  - YES 
King County Charter Amendment No. 2 Gender-Neutral Language. -  YES

President of the United States Donald Trump
US Senator - Patty Murray
US Representative, 9th District - Adam Smith

Governor - Jay Inslee 
Lt. Governor - Cyrus Habib
Secretary of State - Kim Wyman
State Treasurer - Duane Davidson
State Auditor - Pat (Patrice) McCarthy (This one actually makes me happy. I think we need a professional to muck out the stable after the last guy).
Attorney General - Bob Ferguson 
Commissioner of Public Lands - Hilary Franz 
Superintendent  of Public Instruction - Chris Reykdal
Insurance Commission - Mike Kriedler 

Legislative District No. 11 State Senator - Bob Hasegawa 
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Position No. 1 - Zack Hudgins 
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Position No. 2 - Steve Berquist 

Justice Position No. 1Mary Yu
Justice Position No. 5:  Barbara Madsen
Justice Position No. 6: Charles (Charlie) Wiggins

Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1 Michael J. Trickey

Judge Position No. 14: Nichole Gaines Phelps
Judge Position No. 26: David Keenan
Judge Position No. 31Helen Halpert
Judge Position No. 44Cathy Moore 
Judge Position No. 52: Kristan Richardson
Judge Position No. 53: Mariane Spearman

Sound Transit (A Regional Transit Authority) Proposition No,. 1 Light-Rail, Commuter-Rail, and Bus Service Expansion - APPROVED (This is huge)

Kent School District No,. 415 Proposition No. 1 Capital Improvement and School Construction General Obligation Bonds - APPROVED

And with that the Political Desk returns to mothballs. Until the next time (duh-duh-DUH!)

More later,

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Play: In the Blood

Roz and Ray by Karen Hartman, Directed by Chay Yew, until 13 November, 2106, Seattle Repertory.

The first thing you notice is the stage backdrop - a chaos storm of chairs, rockers, cribs, and children's toys, all in shades of white. A preschool Guernica. It doesn't get any easier from there on out.

Roz and Ray is about the spread of the HIV Virus among hemophiliacs in the 70s and 80s. Roz (Ellen McLaughlin) is Dr. Roz Kagan, specializing in pediatric hemophilia. Ray (Teagle F. Bougere) is Ray Leon, father of hemophiliac twins. In the opening scenes, Ray is hailing Roz as a savior, as a new blood product will give his kids a shot at a traditional life. Moments later it is ten years later and he's standing outside the hospital with a sign, bellowing that Roz Kagan killed his sons. The play is linking those moments.

It is complicated. The encompasses a time when AIDs was burgeoning into our blood supply and our national consciousness. What seems to be a miracle cure for hemophilia turns into a nightmare, and the relentless forces of medicine and markets forces decision-making in real-time with no redemption for a wrong choice, and no chance for a right one.

There is something else going on as well - Roz and Ray hook up. Her marriage is falling apart and he sees her as the mom his kids don't have. And that snakes through everything as well. Like I said, it is complicated.

Bougere has the more volatile role, spinning on a dime to transverse the decades. Sometimes equally overwhelming and overwhelmed, his Ray is a force of chaos dedicated to his unseen kids. Roz is a sense of order, and goes from eager and overloaded to just tired and worn out over the course of the years, dealing with the plague among her charges, a plague she had aided in spreading. Remorse and responsibility stalk through the play, and if the writing is a bit earnest in places, it tries to bring things back to the crisis at hand.

Its a tough play, and jumping through time gives both a sense of inevitability and a feeling of closure. Both actors swing for the fences with their parts, and is a good, tight, play for the Rep.

More laterm,

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Political Desk: The Jeff Recommends

OK, we are a week away from election day, and the vast bulk of you in Washington State who pay attention to such  have already put together your ballots, mailed it/dropped it off at nearby ballot drops, and then bragged about it on the Facebooks. So let me summarize the past week or so (You can dig through the previous posts for the reasons - if particular, you can find links to other people's endorsements and information here):

Initiative Measure No. 1433 (Statewide Minimum Wage) - YES
Initiative Measure No. 1464 (Campaign Finance Reform) - YES
Initiative Measure No, 1491 (Reduce access to Firearms) - YES
Initiative Measure No, 1501 (Protect Seniors from Fraud/Reduce Transparency) - NO
Initiative Measure No. 732 Carbon Tax) - YES
Initiative Measure No. 735 Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizen's United) -  YES

Advisory Vote No. 14  House Bill 2768  (Does it really matter?) - MAINTAINED
Advisory Vote No. 15 Second Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2778  (Seriously, I mean, advisory as in no one in charge has to pay attention) - MAINTAINED

Proposed Amendment to the State Constitution Senate Joint Resolution No. 8210. (Move redistricting deadline) - APPROVED

King County Charter Amendment No. 1 Nonpartisan Prosecuting Attorney.  - YES 
King County Charter Amendment No. 2 Gender-Neutral Language. -  YES

President of the United States - Hillary Clinton
US Senator - Patty Murray
US Representative, 9th District - Adam Smith

Governor - Jay Inslee 
Lt. Governor - Cyrus Habib
Secretary of State - Tina Podlowski 
State Treasurer - Duane Davidson
State Auditor - Pat (Patrice) McCarthy
Attorney General - Bob Ferguson 
Commissioner of Public Lands - Hilary Franz 
Superintendent  of Public Instruction - Erin Jones (with a respectful nod to Chris Reykdal)
Insurance Commission - Mike Kriedler 

Legislative District No. 11 State Senator - Bob Hasegawa 
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Position No. 1 - Zack Hudgins 
Legislative District No. 11 Representative Position No. 2 - Steve Berquist 

Justice Position No. 1Mary Yu
Justice Position No. 5:  Barbara Madsen
Justice Position No. 6: Charles (Charlie) Wiggins

Court of Appeals, Division No. 1, District No. 1 Michael J. Trickey

Judge Position No. 14: Nichole Gaines Phelps
Judge Position No. 26: David Keenan
Judge Position No. 31Helen Halpert
Judge Position No. 44Cathy Moore 
Judge Position No. 52: Anthony Gipe 
Judge Position No. 53: Mariane Spearman

Sound Transit (A Regional Transit Authority) Proposition No,. 1 Light-Rail, Commuter-Rail, and Bus Service Expansion - APPROVED

Kent School District No,. 415 Proposition No. 1 Capital Improvement and School Construction General Obligation Bonds - APPROVED

A few other notes from the peanut (or pundit) gallery:

1) I expect Ms. Clinton to win with a decisive number of electoral college votes.
2) I expect the popular vote to be much closer than that. In fact, with the third party votes floating around, Ms. Clinton may get a plurality (most votes), but not a majority (more than 50% of the votes). This will be seized upon as a reason why her opponents should stand in the way on all legislation. As if they need a reason.
3) I expect the Republican Party to survive this, much like the Democratic Party survived its blowout in 1972. In the Democrat's case, the result was met with a move towards the center. For the Republicans, I think that they will just dump the current candidate into the memory hole with the previous GOP Administration (As Homer Simpson once said "Alright, we're here. Let us never speak of the short cut again.").
4) If I'm wrong, the Republican party will split into three, not two. There is already a flight among Republicans to the Libertarian movement (Socially liberal, Economically conservative) - the bulk of Libertarian candidates running in Washington State were Republicans until recently. The other party is socially conservative and economically liberal - call them Caring Conservatives, Dan Evans Republicans, Good People, or the Ned Flanders party. Religious but with outreach programs and soup kitchens. Finally there will be the Rump (not a typo) Republicans. We've had to deal with these folks for years - they were the Democrat's headache up to the Sixties, when Nixon recruited them in his Southern Strategy. Call them Tea Party, call them the American Independent Party, call them Dixiecrats, they will remain a challenge for whoever is putting a government together.
5) Ms. Clinton's administration will be incredibly investigated. Somewhere, someone will find that she ripped tags off of mattresses, and that will be the end of it.
6) Finally, should the Reps break up, the Dems well may follow. The Democrats have always been a big. squabbling tent, gathered together by a common foe, but the stress between the Corporate-supporters and the Progressives will be strong. Lack of a coherent opponent, and creation of new opportunities, may create their own fracturing.

Should any of this happen, I will be as surprised as you, but in the meantime, get you ballots in!

More later,