Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Letter to The Big Show regarding 9/27 - 5:00 Feigin Discussion

Hello gentlemen,

I was up against the final break and the next caller when y'all diverted from the poignant conversation regarding the comments of Peter Feigin. I was so moved by the nature of the conversation that I stopped my car and pushed back an appointment by :30. But I didn't get on air.

To me, this was a tragedy considering a few of the ignorant voices which did get time on the air. I'm re-listening to the 5 o'clock hour now. Just heard Gary saying the essence of what Dr. Tony Evans, a black preacher I admire, said,

"If it doesn't apply, let it fly. If you're gettin' ticked off it might."

That said, the thing which inspired my call at first was my confusion as to the outrage over his statements, which morphed into a passionate need to address some lies some callers live by with actual facts. The former can be addressed by the 'let it fly' principle. The latter cannot be allowed to stand. We live by too many lies which gird our ingorance and division.

But today I read Leroy's piece, and I am again in tears. Last night it was because of the words of Dee in Fennimore. I wanted to hug the man through the radio. Yes, Leroy is right to ask what we can learn from the lesson of sports fandom when it comes to unity despite diversity. I'll come back to that later.

However, we must address the issue of the misinformation posing as facts on the air.

Milwaukee wasn't led by Democrats for 100 years, This is an idea repeated over and over by people who want to simplify and pass blame. The fact is that for a quarter of that time this city was governed by Socialists, or "sewer socialists" who enabled the city's reputation as the best governed in the entire nation. That fact is not disputed by historians, only by internet hacks and trolls with an agenda. The basis for modern municipal government was created here in Brewtown, and we ought to be proud of that.

http://www5.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/school/siefert/about/history/

In fact it led to decades of prosperity for minority residents (black and other ethnicities) who found sustaining jobs with which to support families. In the 1980's for example, the black male median wage was the highest in the country here. Those jobs are now gone, squandered for a myriad of sociopolitical reasons.

If you're a supporter of community policing, you ought to know that we had three times the force during that same period, and our crime rate reflected it. Not that policing solves all of societies ills, but there was a rapport between residents of all races and classes and the police at that time. Unlike today, it didn't take an aldermanic request to get special beat cops or foot patrols in the urban neighborhoods. People knew their officers. That trust which was built then is now also gone, because the police are overtasked and unfamiliar with the neighborhoods.

For instance, police no longer come out for many property crimes, one simply gives info to a call center over the phone. And when our home was invaded a few years back in Uptown it took three calls to 911 and :45 minutes for police to arrive from five blocks away, while two individuals were in our house and one was standing lookout in the back yard. It took four hours for a detective to arrive. They refused to dust for prints or test the blood on the ground from an injury that happened by smashing our window.

Our neighbors to our south at the time happened to be black. The same young men had tried to break into a window of theirs between our homes. When I asked if they wanted to speak to the police they were adamant that they didn't trust them. I was shocked at the time, but soon began to understand why.

I live a few blocks from "ground zero" of the recent riots. This has not discouraged my devotion to the city or this neighborhood. In fact, I am more in love with it than ever, realizing that like a parent with a sick child, one does not abandon them when the diagnosis is made. Rather, one draws closer, doing all that they can to keep them safe and provide an opportunity for healing.

Feigin simply said precisely what is true about Milwaukee. We are THE MOST segregated city statistically since the last census, formerly second to Boston in that regard. This means that it's getting worse, not better. Segregation has led to the worst sort of institutional racism and abandonment from political figures at the state and local level. Like our governor saying, "If you want to keep people in the city, you should have a great city." while defunding our schools and dismantling our economic landscape in ways never seen before. Puttin' it bluntly as a white man... If more white folk still lived in the city, I GUARANTEE that we would see more funding for the schools and more community policing, more socioeconomic development, et al.

The fact is, the folks in the rest of the state don't support that, and they're overwhelmingly white like me. They stigmatize and blame this city for it's tangible needs, despite the fact that it is the single most important economic driver for the state economy. UWM where I used to work has been decimated by defunding when it was on the cusp of the most significant positive growth in its history, due to pregnant prejudices elsewhere that misinformed the public. Meanwhile, if one looked closely they would see that it admits and helps the most veterans BY FAR of any WI institution, and admits and assists the most minorities in the state.

But I digress. My point is simply to say that people who don't live here in the 'hood make the decisions for us based upon ignorance. That ignorance can be called prejudice, or classism, but it's not inaccurate to call it racism. Because if you ask many of these voters in the 'burbs and rural WI (where I am from) they'll tell you that race has a lot to do with it. Even some of your callers blamed black folk outright. It's en vogue to spew racist lies now akin to every other post on the jsonline comments section...

Living here in MKE for 25 years now, and in Uptown for 16, I can say that Mark Twain was right. Where you go is fatal to ignorance and prejudice. Mine died long ago and I abandoned much of my immutable political positioning. Leroy Butler gets at this without making it so. He touches on something championed by Ury and Fisher (Harvard) in their foundational book, "Getting To YES", a book most every law school requires but which ought to be required of every citizen.

To distill it's point into a basic idea. Most people tend to negotiate from a position of ideology and this makes them unable to compromise. Sustainable agreement comes when people abandon positions and come together based on interests. Basically, we agree to work on what we agree needs to be done for the common good. Instead of doubling-down on divisive beliefs that may or may not be based in fact, we choose to set aside without giving up completely, those beliefs, so that we can find a common benefit.

This is easy when it comes to sports fandom. Most of us don't have any real skin in the game. (Even though some of us are shareholders. *wink*) So it's easy to get together and ignore the divisive for the sake of what brings us fellowship and joy on most days. This doesn't perfectly translate to world views. Yet, it can if we do a massive cranial-rectal extraction as a society.

I could write more and more on this subject. My wife ran an urban project for years in the inner city, and we networked with numerous agencies and individuals for the common good. She also facilitates restorative justice circles in MPS, in colleges, and churches. So I am blessed with perspective. I've worked for peace overseas. I've seen a lot, enough that I have chosen to live among the urban poor. That's been difficult but enlightening.

Again, though, Feigin was right. There's racism in local institutions and even within local businesses. One Uptown business owner said to our Uptown Business District President that she was "sick of seeing black folk wasting their welfare checks in her bar and restaurant". This from a person who owns a joint that is admired externally for being diverse. And she said this to a person who has biracial grandchildren, so, oops! White current and former MIlwaukeeans will tell you that they typically won't travel south of certain landmark streets or west of the river. If you're white and you say you're moving here you'll get whispered a lot of racist lies.

I have to redirect people so often when they let this sort of thing slip. They seem to think that white folks are in a quiet fraternity of bigotry.

Anyway, I wanted to share this and SO MUCH MORE with y'all. As a white dude in Uptown with a sociology degree I am aware of the issues we face. We have plenty of data from entities like the Public Policy Forum that speak to our public transit system being in "triage" while charging the highest fare in the lowest 48 states. Meanwhile, ridership is 90% by urban poor who have no alternative form or transport. Just one fact of many.

Feigin points out facts in an honest way and the cognitive dissonance is tweaked among the folks who cannot align this with their narrow world view. He says the truth and states a commitment to help work to fix it, as a business owner that truly can have an impact, and people miss the YES we could get to, and hear only their angry inner bigot telling them to assign blame. It's because if BLACK LIVES MATTERED they'd be prompted by their humanity to actually work for justice and reconciliation.

It's exhausting to do the work of the prophet, because you get battered and beaten by those who don't want to hear your message. I've not got the stamina for such things as I once did, but I am committed to helping anywhere I can. I am also deeply in love with this city and it's residents. I also have a lot of love and respect for you guys on the show. Keep the sports and sociology always a part of the landscape of discussion. We aren't just alive to find joy in diversions. We ought to also find a more durable joy in transcending above and beyond such tragic circumstances and entrenched oppression.

I have an idea. Would allyall be willing to host a community discussion and forum on that which Leroy initiated and which Feigin framed? I'd like to suggest that we pick up Dee in Fennimore, and I would be available as a community liaison as well, LOL. But we need a safe space to discuss such things in a wider way. We could get sponsors from the local community and have it go toward both a police charity and some local social justice and advocacy organizations. Just a thought toward action.

Peace and prosperity,
Christian (in Uptown)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

From a friend, reposted from a blog about game design:

"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Another form, about Japanese gardening actually, is "Your garden is not complete until there is nothing else that you can remove."

This is my guide to game design, but I do not design puzzles. When you design a puzzle you may want to make it more complex, so that it will take longer to solve.

**

“Never use a long word where a short one will do.” - George Orwell, 1984.

George Orwell is talking about writing, but for game design this amounts to the same advice as in the first quotes, keep everything as simple as possible. Stephen King puts it another way: “When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”

**

“You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” - Jack London, Call of the Wild

Many beginners think that ideas will just come to them, that success will just come to them. No, it's more like how Jack London describes writing.

**

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell.

I suppose it depends partly on personality, but I'd argue that if a game designer is absolutely certain that he is right no matter what other people tell him, he's almost certainly wrong. If you’re full of doubts about your game, but playtesters from the right representative group like it, then you're in pretty good shape.

**

"Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare."
- Japanese Proverb

Too many beginning designers wait for things to happen, they daydream. You have to DO something, not just dream about doing it. Much like Jack London’s admonition above.

**

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." - John Quincy Adams

Especially applicable in the Age of Instant Gratification.
**

"The greatest motivational act one person can do for another is to listen." - Roy E. Moody

If you're the designer in a team of game developers, take this to heart. Everyone wants to feel that they contribute to the game, as well as to the software. They want to know their ideas are seriously considered.

**

“Complicated programs are far easier to write than straightforward programs.” - John Page.

The same is true for games: but it's usually the straightforward ones that are really good.

**

"My thing is that most scripts aren't bad scripts, they're just not finished yet." - Michael Arndt (scriptwriter for Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story III, etc., and initially for StarWars VII).

The same can be said for a great many published games nowadays.

**

"A lot of people say, 'Well, I like a challenge.' I don't like challenges. Life is tough enough without any challenges." - Jackie Gleason (a very successful actor and comedian, among other things, you might recall)

People don't want their entertainment to be frustrating these days.

**

"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." - Terry Pratchett (Diskworld)

Don’t worry too much about all the details, get a prototype together to play as soon as you can - it’s a first draft, not a final draft.

**

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Senator Dan Moynihan

Reality is what counts, not what you think reality is.

**

"The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition." - Carl Sagan

Just because you want it or like it, doesn’t mean it will happen.

**

"If you want to write better songs, write more songs. If you write 20 songs, ten of them will be better than the other ten." Martin Atkins (of Public Image Limited, Killing Joke, et al)

Not, *listen* to more songs (“play more games”), *write* more songs. Design more games. There’s no substitute.

**

"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." - Henry Ford (cars)

Even less on what you intend(ed) to do. Important especially for younger people who, these days, tend to confuse intention with action. Intention alone counts for very little.

**
"The way to succeed is to double your failure rate." - Thomas Watson (founder of IBM)

In game design it’s often called “fail fast”: try what you think will work, figure out if it works, get rid of it if it doesn’t, and do this quickly so that you can move on to something else that might work.

**

"A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow." - General George S. Patton

There’s little place for perfectionism in game design. You’re never perfect, practically speaking, because even if you’re perfect for a moment, the tastes of your audience will change over time. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns applies: at some point, the time it takes to improve a game will not be worth the minuscule value of the improvement.

**

"If everybody's thinking the same thing, then nobody's thinking." - General George S. Patton

This especially applies to large teams of video game developers. Beware of “groupthink”. It’s a major reason why we see games released that are widely regarded as just awful. What was the team thinking?

**

"I am Loki, of Asgard. And I am burdened with glorious purpose." - Loki, in The Avengers movie

Sounds like one of those "artiste" game designers to me. You know, the guys who think they’re great artists, and that they’re gifting the world with their brilliance, and they’re sure they’re right . . . and so forth.

Maybe you can actually be that artiste someday, but not when you’re starting out. You have to earn it. Games are entertainment (even educational games, we hope). Don’t lose sight of that.

======

Here are a few more:

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lit." - Plutarch

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." - Douglas Adams

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." - Mark Twain

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." - John Wooden

"A goal is a dream with a deadline." - Napoleon Hill

" . . . Picasso told the story, which I can only paraphrase, that when art critics get together, they talk about light and color and form; when painters get together, they talk about where to buy cheap turpentine." - Peter Perla

Keep firmly grounded, don't get lost in "meaningfulness" of games.

“Beware of self-indulgence. The romance surrounding the writing profession carries several myths: that one must suffer in order to be creative; that one must be cantankerous and objectionable in order to be bright; that ego is paramount over skill; that one can rise to a level from which one can tell the reader to go to hell. These myths, if believed, can ruin you.

If you believe you can make a living as a writer, you already have enough ego.”
- David Brin (novelist)

The same applies to game designers.

"It is the motivation to pursue excellence, a work ethic that reflects the determination to solve problems, the attention to the smallest details, and the desire to be the very best that distinguishes students who make a difference in their given professions." - Candice Dowd Barnes and Janet Filer

Game designers as well.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I am funny. I think.

Today I think that I am pretty funny. I know... that's dangerous. But I do.

So here's some of what made me laugh when it came out of my head.

I still use asterisks to indicate actions while chatting, i.e. *cough*. So today while chatting with my wife I came up with *scoff cough* and *snot-laden snort* which both made her laugh and cringe respectively. I have a friend who says chat acronyms now instead of the actual words. He says, "LOL" (pronounced lah-wl), for example. I have been saying the word "scoff" in the same way for a while now. My wife thinks that's funny.

I also like to say that "I am a focus group of one." I think that's funny because of how arrogant it sounds, and that I actually believe it sometimes. I have such strong opinions about art and other design things that I really don't play well with others. I can articulate in obsessive detail why I feel strongly about anything in this realm. It's uber-nerdy.

We also got talking about memes and idioms yesterday. I realized that I had an incomplete understanding of idiomatic expressions. But after talking about them I get it now. They're essentially the sorts of statements that cannot be taken for their literal meanings. The sort of thing that a non-native speaker will be confused by.

"Down in the dumps"; "dead in the water"; and "in over my head" are some good examples.

Would "LOL" or "ROFL" be part of the new e-idioms? Surely, ROFLMAO would qualify, and ROFLCOPTER is just damn silly and beyond categorization.

Anyway, after January 1st my wife and I tried adopting a new expression that we'd try use when the opportunity arose. Hers is "So it has come to this." That's funny when she uses it at times when I am not expecting it, and where the gravitas of the statement is not in parallel with the actual circumstances. Mine was "See, this is why we can't have nice things." I liked it as a deadpan response to something tragic happening that didn't involve personal harm. But it a chance to use it doesn't come up that often (thankfully), and my wife was right in saying that it's only really funny if you say it within a group as if they were your family and you were scolding them. It's the fact that it's said outside of a relationship with those boundaries that is funniest.

So I don't like mine anymore. Instead, I may employ a nonsense phrase. I like, "SEE, THAT'S why I HATE lima beans!" I think it would be funny if you're annoyed by someone telling a story in which they're essentially complaining about life or circumstances in a way which sounds like victimstance or old-fashioned bitching to interrupt just near the end of it with "SEE, THAT'S why I HATE lima beans!" I think that it would catch them off guard. It'd definitely indicate how little I was listening to them.

I think that I am funny. I am probably self-deluded. But I have fun with my own fantasy that I am.

*scoff cough*

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Response To A Video About Crime Stats

Choose Your Own Crime Stats

I would say that the speaker leans toward a particular political position, although his statistics appear apolitical. How he uses them is slightly biased.

He does not address thoroughly how significant it is that the murder rate is so much lower in the UK/Wales, despite their violent crime rate being 3x higher. One could easily note the absence of guns for that.

And we do not know what the violent crimes are. Soccer hooligans or stabbings? It would help to know what we are dealing with, because violent crime is too broad of a statistical category. It is a convenient political category, not a sociological/criminological one. We learn nothing from it. Politicians simply use it.

That said, I do not disagree with him fully until he directs his comments against specific people, which makes him appear to have an agenda. He didn't need to do so. Keep us all listening...

His focus on urban crime, spot on in many ways, has been used as the justification for inaction before. I like his comment about improving conditions of poverty and jobs there, and hope that he means that, because the response to urban crime statistics in USA is usually white flight and suburban apathy. Those facts mean that the concentration of property tax wealth has shifted away from the urban center and taken the political will with it.

I live in the inner city of the second most segregated city in USA on purpose. I am committed to see the plight of the urban poor up close. The characterization of the urban poor (usually considered minorities) has been far from the reality. The urban poor I know want to work, they want an education for themselves and their kids, and they want to be safe. But they face massive obstacles to the same.

A recent WI study shows that the urban poor are working harder, for less money, and our urban MPS school system has been sapped of hundreds of millions in support. It's no surprise that the schools are not safe, lack resources, and that less than 4 of 10 black males graduate high school in this city. These kids no longer have working class jobs to fall back on, so they end up casualties, literally and figuratively. Causality is complicated, and they own some of their own failure, but one cannot be as dismissive as has been the political rhetoric about their plight. They're less to blame than policies are in my opinion.

Violent crime in 'da hood tends to be less random than one might think. In Milwaukee, improved policing has recognized that, and our crime rate has dropped. I am safer here in the 'hood than I am in the 'burbs in some ways. Still, we have underfunded our police force for years. We had 3x as many cops on our streets in the 1980s, and that coincided with a period of urban boon. A black male in Milwaukee made the highest wage per capita in USA at that point. That meant the quality of life in Milwaukee was high for the working class.

It is worth noting that this was during the period that we had a long tradition of Sewer Socialists who led the city. The government was notably free from corruption, and focused on municipal services. We were the place where the municipal sewer, the 8-hour work day, and many other current normalities were born.

The urban minority wants the same things, with the same resources available as the suburbs. But they don't get it. They get inadequate policing and impoverished schools. They get neglected and costly public transit, and often live in food deserts. They have to succeed without so many things that the rest of us have. In Milwaukee our poor ride a bus system which is fraught with violence, and pay the highest fare in the lower 48 states. Yet, 90% of riders have no other option.

Are we surprised when the urban poor fail? I could say more about the reality of the urban milieu, but I should simply say that I doubt that there are political leaders who will be honest about what it will take to "fix" the urban crime problem. We tend to believe myths about the urban poor, because it girds our sense of bystander syndrome. Entire political policy trends have been based on myths, like the "lessons learned" from Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis, for example.

That all said, the issue of gun control on the table now is specific to the mass assassination incidents. Those aren't perpetuated by urban minorities.

It isn't disingenuous to discuss the issue if assault weapons or multi-shot magazines in light of what is a measurable increase in the same.

Police want this discussed. They're facing criminals with more fatal weapons, and the response of police to these events cannot easily match the speed of the violence they enable. Police departments are less staffed nowadays, with slower response times to reported crimes. Couple that with semi automatic weapons and massive magazines and it is a problem.

I would like to see increased funding to police departments, and beat patrols again in metro areas. That has worked in areas of deployment in Brewtown.

I would also like to see a ban in assault weapons and multi-shot magazines. Anything military-grade should be illegal to possess. There is no justification in my mind for any citizen owning anything capable of mass murder.

I am not opposed to handguns or conceal and carry, but I would like a strict and universal licensure-training program. I want someone to be able to carry across state lines with common restrictions.

But I do not support the straw sales or gun show sales of guns. The circumventing of the waiting period is problematic, particularly since we now know more about the profile of these assassins.

I also support people owning hunting rifles. 'Nuff said.

So I agree that we need to help the urban poor. I agree that people should be able to keep most guns. I agree that our crime rate has dropped. But I also agree with some others that want to consider whether citizens should own weapons that are capable of enabling mass assassination events of this nature.

Even with an assailant that has multiple small capacity firearms, they'd have to reload or switch guns. It'd be harder to pull that off, and it would give time to the heroes among us to step up instead of being shot dead.

Friday, December 14, 2012

First Speedbump in Juice Fast

I caved. Yeah. And not for something worthwhile.

It was for Pizza Hut Pizza left over from last night's work party. Terrible stuff... but in my hunger state, almost irresistible to me. I love salty, savory crap.

I was fine with all the Christmas cookies and candy out on the table in the mailroom. I even reorganized the stuff and neatly set out plates for the masses. I used to find that stuff magnetic--but not today.

I drank my juice and was fine until someone came in and said, "Guess what?" "There's pizza left over!"

It was only an hour later that I caved.

I won't be the end for me. I'm back on the juicing again, now hoping to detox AGAIN.

I'll bet that I feel some side effects from eating this pseudo-food as my first solid stuff for days.

Juice Fast: Day Five

I had some strange leg cramps last night where a muscle in my lower leg cramped, causing my big toe to flex in a fixed bend. It was excruciating. This, even though I am doing bananas as part of my juice fast.

I got over it with a little help from my wife. Thanks honey! She helped by pressing on the area of the most pain and massaging out the cramp.

Today I woke up with my first mild headache in five days. Odd, on water fasts I usually have this in day two. I also have a slight tummy ache, and feel a bit irritable. Also, day two phenomena in the water fast.

WARNING: overshare ahead..

What really strikes me as odd is that I am actually still pooping. Seriously? No solid food in nearly five whole days and there are still matters to be worked out in that way? I do have less flatulence, which is good. But shouldn't that all be done with by now?

Anyway, I hope that my chronic eye redness and fatigue will be fixed forever once I get through this and switch to a 95% vegetarian diet, without processed foods or non-organic produce. I've been toxic for far too long.

It'll all work itself out in good time. I'm committed and hopeful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Juice fast: day three.

I feel great. No strong cravings, headaches, etc. I'm more clear-headed than usual.

But a cheeseburger sounds delightful.

Still, what I am most learning is that I view food like a dysfunctional relationship. It's there to make me feel better, and I don't know proper boundaries with it. No more eating due to boredom or for a quick boost of "happiness". I want to be healthy and truly happy.