Posts Tagged ‘games’

Just One Law

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

We’ve all played the game where you sit back and answer the question — “If you found a genie in a bottle, and were granted one wish — what would it be?” Well, here’s my variation on the game. Would you like to play?

The Question:

If you could be President for five minutes, and had the power and authority to pass a single law — any law — what law would you pass?

The Rules:

  1. The law can only do one thing. It can perhaps be a far-reaching thing, but no “I would pass a law that bans/affirms abortion and ends/increases welfare and ends/wins the Iraq War and….” — that’s cheating. You can take one idea and make it the law of the land.
  2. Be specific. Don’t say “I would end poverty”. What one law would you pass to try to end poverty? A $100/hr. minimum wage? Government-provided jobs? What?
  3. Be realistic. No laws saying “Nobody will get sick ever again.” You’re President, not God. No magic.
  4. Assume your law will last. Unless you explicitly put in and end date or sunset provisions of some sort, assume your law will not be negated or overturned for.. say… ten years at least.

Got all that? Okay, with the rules being laid out, here is my law:

The Charity Identification Act of 2008

Henceforth all federal government handouts — that is, any federal program that transfers money, service, or assets in any form to people or organizations that have not explicitly earned said transfer, or any such transfers by extra-governmental organizations (e.g. private companies) if such transfers are required by law or mandate — shall have the word “Charity” appended to the beginning of the name of the program, and to the name of all such transfers. E.g. — “Charity Welfare”, “Charity Emergency Room Care”, “Charity housing subsidies”.

Reductions in fees or taxes actually paid are not counted as “transfers” under this law* — e.g. reduction in the amount of taxes due by individuals or organizations is not a “transfer” for the purposes of this law. However, “refund” payments greater than the receiver’s actual tax burden shall be included — e.g. “Charity Tax Rebates” to those who pay no taxes but receive a rebate.

Such transfers that are given in exchange for, or in consideration of, military service are exempted, e.g. the “G.I. Bill” or veterans’ health care.

Okay, that’s mine. What’s yours?

(You can play along in comments below or post at your own blog. If the latter, please link back to this original post. Thanks.)

*: This one could be abused, I know. I’m trying to figure out how it could be rephrased. “not counted as transfers if applied across the board?” It somehow needs to distinguish between regular tax cuts and targeted tax subsidies….

Northern Gentleman

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

There is a large gaming convention that used to run every year in Milwaukee Wisconsin (now moved to Indianapolis, Indiana), by the name of Gen Con. It started out about 40 years ago in a basement in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, when a bunch of friends got together to play table-top war games.

It has grown a bit since then. Today, something like 30,000 people attend every year — coming together to play role playing games (“RPGs”) such as Dungeons and Dragons and its many, many descendants. In recent years it has expanded to also include a significant science fiction element — with guest celebrities from movies and television, signings, author presentations, memorabilia, and the like. Between playing everything from chess to D&D to “live action” games and miniatures battles, to game companies showing (and selling!) there latest wares, the convention has plenty for all those thousands to do for four days. A significant reason it left its home in Milwaukee is that that town didn’t have enough hotels to house the attendees! Indianapolis, home to the infamous “500” race, has more room.

I went every single year for about 12 years — I had a place to stay about a hour out of town, and did the commute, rather than spend an extra couple hundo for a hotel (I started going when I was 16).

So, one year I’m roaming through the Great Hall at Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center, and I come across a large booth hawking a new card game. Card games were hot that year, as Magic: The Gathering had appeared on the scene a year or two previously, and given its creators a virtual license to print money. (That company, Wizards of the Coast, now owns Gen Con, literally.)

The new game was called Legend of the Five Rings. (I could date this specifically from that fact if I wanted to, but off the cuff I think it was about ten years ago.) It was modeled on Japanese mythology, and seemed an interesting concept — so I sat in on a demo.

The first thing I noticed was that this game was bigger than Magic. Where Magic involved two opponents facing off, there were about eight or ten people sitting at the table, and we were all going to be playing one big game. I was at a corner of the long table. There was an older man across from me, and a twelve-or-so year old kid to my left (at the end of the table.)

Before things got going I was chatting a bit with the older guy and the kid. I remember the man well — he was grey haired and balding, with a salt & pepper beard and a friendly face. He and the kid clearly knew each other, as the kid was good-humoredly trash talking the man as the game got under way. (I discovered shortly later that the man was his father — it figures, though the age difference did surprise me a bit….)

The way the game worked, you could ally yourself with another player to take on a third (or an opposing alliance, as the case may be). As this was a demo, they were encouraging us to try such maneuvers out to see how they add richness to the game. I was getting a kick out of the kid, so I decided to ally myself with him against his dad. We played along, working out the new rules and enjoying the game, and after a few minutes I started noticing muttering and a few chuckles coming from further down the table. One comment caught my ear — “He’s taking him on!”

Who’s taking who on? What’s the big deal?

Then I looked down. At the convention, your ticket into events and the Great Hall was a badge that hung around your neck. A badge with your name on it. In large capital letters. The man’s badge said, in large staring-me-in-the-face-for-twenty-minutes black print: Gary Gygax.

If you’ve read this far, you are now in one of two categories: people who just cracked a grin (and maybe uttered a “Cool!”), and people who just said to yourself: “Gary Who”?

Gary Gygax is basically the guy who created Dungeons and Dragons. He’s the guy without whom the 30,000 strong convention I was enjoying at that moment would not exist. And here I was quite genially ganging up with his son against him and handing him his ass in a card game.

Normally in these kinds of situations, I end up at a loss for what to say. But I’d been chit-chatting with the guy for about half an hour by this point. We were practically buds. He was a really nice guy, and I’d liked him a lot before I realized who he was beyond “they guy sitting across from me”.

Naturally, I got his autograph. I still have that Gen Con Four-Day Pass, signed by the man himself.

I am saddened to say that that autograph just became a lot more valuable.

Gary passed away yesterday, March 4, 2008, at his home in Lake Geneva. The world has lost a really nice guy — a real gentleman. I’m happy that I had the opportunity to really meet him — far beyond the two second “autograph table” meetings you usually have with celebs at such events.

R.I.P., Gary. We’ll all miss you.