Thursday, July 30, 2020

Greed and the One Percenters

It is baffling, and sad, to me that part of the world thinks that profit > all, even at the expense of human dignity. 

It gnaws at me every day when I go to a chain gas station or a McDonalds or any other place where I know corporate profits are > everything else in the world. Why can't McDonald's pays its workers more? We all know they can. We all can pay a dime more for a Big Mac.

It's like this everywhere. In the UFC, Dana White was brilliant at bringing the sport to mainstream America and generating hundreds of millions of dollars for the Fertitta brothers, who were already billionaires. And even though they could pay their fighters more, they don't. The last payroll for the last event was under a million dollars. The UFC is like the NFL of fighting. The number one organization. Some of the guys that make it there get paid 2k to fight. Meanwhile, Dana and the brothers are gambling away millions at the tables in Vegas.

 Yes, I know how the right will respond. They earned it. Go make your own organization and become a billionaire, etc etc.

 Meanwhile, you have guys like Papa John's CEO living in a mansion that Tony Stark would be jealous of, fighting against Obamacare.

 It's like this with almost all of corporate America and it makes me sick that Walmart, McDonald's, Home Depot, any global company you can think of, is just soulless.

 I went to pick up dinner from a local Inn and it wasn't ready so I had a beer and watched the tv at the bar. On it was a story about cheerleaders bringing a lawsuit against the NFL. The teams in the NFL are responsible for the salaries etc for their cheerleaders. They usually pay minimum wage. And they have problems because sometimes, "meetings" and "practices" don't count as work. Nor does their off time where they are supposed to be practicing the routines, eating nothing and exercising.

"The Buffalo Jills say they did not receive payment for attending Buffalo Bills football games, practice time, and “sponsor appearances.” Each woman also was ordered to make 20 to 35 community appearances, the majority of which were unpaid, they say.

In addition, all Buffalo Jills were mandated to teach 300 to 400 little girls the basics of cheerleading over multiple days, according to the suit. Parents paid $250 for their young daughters to spend time with the women they idolized and admired. The Buffalo Jills say they were paid nothing for their time.

In total, the suit says each Buffalo Jill worked 840 unpaid hours a year.

But the alleged exploitation was more than just unpaid labor. The Buffalo Jills allege that Stejon and Citadel essentially ran a racket, forcing the women to buy calendars and other Bills-related items out of pocket and then sell them on their own time. They even imposed damages if they failed to sell their quotas, according to the suit. Each woman was required to buy 50 to 75 Buffalo Jill's swimsuit calendars at $10 each and sell them. If she did not sell them, she was left in the red and “subject to further penalties at the discretion of defendants.” The same went for Jill's golf tournament tickets and gift baskets, which could cost each woman $590. Other out-of-pocket expenses included travel and hotel accommodations for the events they had to attend and $650 in uniform costs, the suit says."

 I'm sure some read this and respond "Well, there are hundreds of girls that try out for those spots, they don't need to pay them more, get a better job."

 To which I respond, "Can you and your vile "moral code" just die off already?"

 What the ever-loving hell is wrong with a multi-billion dollar industry paying a good salary to their cheerleaders? Why is this even a discussion?

 Last night the wife and I are watching Top Chef because that show rocks and we'll even rewatch the good seasons. The show is insanely popular, but despite the ad revenue rolling in, the DVD sales, the streaming video sales, the frozen food items in the store labeled as Top Chef, etc. No, that's not enough. They have to have a Philadelphia cream cheese challenge, where the appetizer, main course and dessert all feature cream cheese.

 Awesome. Awesomely stupid. Awesomely whoreish and bad.

 And it angers me. They make enough off that show to not try and be greedy and come up with stupid stuff like this all for even more money. Because too much is never enough.

 A couple weeks ago I watch Chris Weidman beat up Lyoto Machida to the tune of a $60 PPV.

 Which had ads in it. For movies and products that bought ad time, to an event I paid for.

 Which also angered me.

 The Big Bang Theory cast is in negotiations for higher salaries. The five original cast members are striking. Do you think the network which made hundreds of millions of dollars off this show can afford to pay them? Wow. I sure hope so, don't you?

 It's like the one percent is this four hundred lb guy, sitting at a table, while incredibly thin people sit around the table begging, and the 400 lb guy ignores them because he wants to be 450 lbs next year.

 Profit. It's not enough to make a profit, you have to make all the profit.

 And it doesn't have to be that way.

 Costco isn't that way.

 Market Basket grocery stores aren't that way. So, of course, since the CEO pays a good wage, gives benefits, treats workers like humans, gives bonus's, the board fired him. Because even though it was profitable. Very profitable, they wanted more.

 People that think this is all okay make me sick.

Sorry, just had to vent.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

     Magic Arena has really gotten me back into Magic.

     So much so that I started thinking about how far I wanted to take this. I already had OBS set up on my system and had it linked to my Twitch channel. Joshie Trash Talker was willing to do a podcast with me. So, I could jump back into the Magic life with both feet.
     I started out doing some streaming and I noticed a few things about myself when I was streaming.
We all know I'm not great at Magic. Well, I'm even more "not great" when I'm trying to be entertaining and when I am too aware of the camera. And, I can get pretty salty. Which isn't the image I want to project to the world while I'm streaming. Or ever.
     Also, as an introvert, who seems to be getting more introverted as I get older, being "on" for the camera was exhausting.
     The last thing that happened was that Facebook popped up a memory where another writer described the appeal of my writing. The continuing adventures of me and my friends trying to qualify for the pro tour. The journey, the striving, the hilarious personalities. The author even brought up the fact that when I was in Spain, and didn't have that, but was still writing, the feedback was brutal. People just wanted decklists.
So, that moment of my writing career will have to stay in that moment and not try to recreate it from my basement with a digital version of Magic.
Also, last year I did November National Novel writing month aka NaNoWriMo.

You don't try and write quality you try to write 50,000 words. I am very prolific and I could only hit 25,000. But there were parts of that 25k that I was really proud of. There is some really good stuff there.
I continue to wrok on my fantasy novel and I think that is the right direction to take. Trying to go backwards and recapture former glory is probably not the right path forward.

Which isn't to say I'm not writing about Magic anymore, it just means if you're wondering why there isn't a lot more Magic content up here, that's why.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

So, this is your Magic 2019

So, Friday I was home sick. I went through a bottle of Dayquil and a box of kleenex flat on my back. Luckily, the Mythic Championship was on.

I think the field of yesterday's Mythic Championship was 41% Esper varients. Regardless of how much it was, the entire first day of coverage, bizarrely, chose to focus on the Esper decks, and the number of mirror matches with slight variations was a bit overwhelming. There were other decks in the competition but all I saw on the screen for 8 hours was Teferi activations.

I was thankful I wasn't on the broadcast staff. Can you imagine trying to make 8 hours of Teferi activations exciting?

Take a look at that screenshot. I had one yesterday with 6 Teferi's on camera between hand, board and graveyard. It's got the twitch chat in it so I used this one instead.

I watched coverage all day and I gotta say, little depressed. Not even white weenie or Gruul or anything stood a chance against Thought Erasure and Teferi. Teferi being the biggest. It hits the board, solves the biggest problem, then your opponent has to kill it somehow, delaying doing anything else but that. The card is unfair and it's not going away.

Imagine this: Your opponent bolts your creature. Now, when you start your turn, you have to attack the lightning bolt. Because if you don't, that lightning bolt is going to continue to have an effect on the board, and in two turns, it's going to bolt you again.

There's no way around this. You HAVE to attack the lightning bolt. It can't stay on the board. Did you have another strategy in mind? Like, maybe going for the face? Or maybe using some discard or drawing cards? Well, that's great but priority one is killing that bolt aka Teferi.

And that card is not rotating out for a long time. Chance of it being banned is somewhere south of zero.

Watching yesterdays tournament gave me the impression that mid-range is not even an option and even agro struggles against Esper.

But, there is some good news that showed up in my feed this morning.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The theme of my playstyle

Magic Arena and the State of Green

First off, I’m going to give a big shout out to WOTC R&D and to the team that programmed Magic Arena because that program is fantastic. I never thought they would be able to come up with a program that makes playing Magic on a computer so smooth.

So, just to see how it goes, I’m going to be streaming tomorrow morning.

I’ll be playing the deck below so I thought I would do a quick “State of Green” impression.

4 Llanowar Elves (DAR) 168
24 Forest (RIX) 196
1 Ripjaw Raptor (XLN) 203
2 Territorial Allosaurus (DAR) 184
4 Vine Mare (M19) 207
3 God-Eternal Rhonas (WAR) 163
2 Gigantosaurus (M19) 185
1 Pelt Collector (GRN) 141
4 Steel Leaf Champion (DAR) 182
4 Thrashing Brontodon (RIX) 148
4 Thorn Lieutenant (M19) 203
2 Ghalta, Primal Hunger (RIX) 130
1 Nullhide Ferox (GRN) 138
4 Rabid Bite (M19) 195

Starting with the good: All of the colors have seen some serious power creep since I last played but this hasn’t negatively affected the game at all. I think this is mostly because the combat phase is still a thing. A big thing. It’s rough when you want to play a mid-range deck and your third opponent in a row casts “Thought Erasure” into “Thief of Sanity” and you’re not playing red… but then you just go play burn and get paired with a white life gain deck… Wait…

There are a lot of planeswalkers in play right now and one of the solutions to that is to play agro. And while the deck above is mostly agro it’s still a bit mid rangy thanks to the higher casting costs of things and the Rabid Bites.

So, this deck pretty much illustrates how I feel about Green right now. Green has always been about big dumb creatures, mana fixing and utility. As far as big dumb creatures, WOTC gets an A+ on making sure that the biggest, most threatening creatures are now Green. That wasn’t always the case but it certainly is now.

When I get sick of opposing Planeswalkers, I pull this deck out. And it has done very well for me.
Nothing says “punch a control player in the junk” like a 5/4 “can’t be blocked by anything you have on the board” turn two Steel Leaf Champion. And nothing says “Coming to punch you in the junk some more” like a turn 3 can’t be bounced by Teferi, can’t be lava coiled, hexproof 5/3 Mare.
And with Green’s creatures it just keeps getting better. I like when all the most powerful cards AREN’T multicolor. It gets stale that a good portion of the Magic population likes to mix and match their colors like it’s a buffet and you can take a little bit of everything. Where’s the benefit to playing a solid color? Well, that benefit is in Gigantosaurus. You’re rewarded for playing a creature deck in Nullhide Ferox and in Ghalta.

These are the cards I have always wanted. Real creatures with real benefits for playing a style I like even if it is dumb and little kidish.

And while Green has to have some limitations in the form of creature elimination, elimination based on fighting other creatures seems perfectly in line with Green’s theme and yet, is just as clunky as it should be. I’ve made this deck without Rabid Bite but it performs better with it. Without it, Thief of Sanity is going to run wild on you, casting Gigantosaurus with blue lands. We cannot have that.
And Carnage Tyrant. That’s a love letter to green players.

So, when I first started playing again, I focused on mono green and I love what they’ve done with the color and these thoughts just scratch the surface of all there is to love about Green right now.
Sadly, I’m going to finish this up with some mild disappointment in just two areas.

I do wish there was more trample in Green and I also wish there was another 1 drop mana accelerant. I understand why these things don’t exist but they have in the past with either Findhorn elves, wild growth and Birds of Paradise. I mean, if Red can have a 30 direct damage spells deck in every format, and Blue can do the same with Counterspells or fliers, and Black can do it with creature elim or discard, I’m not sure why Green can’t always have a deck with 8-12 one mana accelerators.

And there is a lot of trample in Green, don’t get me wrong, but there isn’t an Overrun effect where all your creatures gain trample and a bonus for a turn. I mean, I get it, it ends games fast and it’s an abrupt end. But red can kill you on turn 4 sometimes so why not?

Pretty much the most minor of nits there are.

I’ve been back to Magic for a few months and while it took me a few days to get used to Planeswalkers OMG SO MANY PLANESWALKERS! I got used to it. And learned to play them myself.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


This is the message that greeted me when I opened Facebook this evening.

“Arena is trash. That is all.”

It comes from a competitive friend who has just gone on tilt. I know we have all been there.

On Facebook I have a group that until recently was called “Hearthstone” but has recently been renamed “The Attack Phase.” I still play Hearthstone and am working on a Lucentbark deck right now, but thanks to the wonderful new program Magic:Arena, I have been delving into Magic again.
In the group are most of the members of Team Quarterstaff and Team Comics & Collectibles. Ira Wonderboy is now a much older Wonderman. Keith Kenyon, aka, “KrankyK”, is older so, even crankier. The “Serra Girl” Michele was down this weekend and I showed her Magic: Arena.

Michele remains one of my best friends. This Christmas she gave me a book called
 “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The main tenet is that caring too much is what leads to anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, impotence and, yes, rage.

Like, when you care too much about Magic and want to toss your cards across the room. Or break your keyboard or just vent to a Facebook group that Magic sucks.
The book is very good and has given me a perspective on a few things in my life.

I started putting these lessons into play when I played Magic and Hearthstone. Because there’s a lot of luck in this game. And when you get a bad beat, it's so much better for your attitude and blood pressure if you just realize it was a bad beat and let it go. Maybe next game you’ll curve out perfectly and your opponent won’t. Maybe you’ll get a good matchup, whatever. It's just a game, have fun.

That worked for about a day but I quickly noticed that something was missing.

Like, why do Billionaires keep working? Why do trust fund babies get bored? Why does Tiger Woods want to be a champion again?
Humans are built to want more. To strive for more. For longer. Faster. Stronger. Better. More. More more.

And if you don’t care, you’re not striving. You're going for more you’re just throwing cards at your opponent.

So, the secret, as always, is a balance.

You will not be shocked to learn that when I got back into the game, I delved right into the fatties, getting to know what WOTC’s vision for Green is these days.

And I started out hating War of the Sparks. Because when you want to attack with big creatures and swing with everything, taking a turn off to play a planeswalker doesn’t help you. Unlike control, aggro decks rarely want to do anything other than play a creature and swing.

Michele comes down about once a month for the weekend and we play games. Azul, Dominion, Catan.  And I have been really interested in trying out Magic Commander with her and Wendy.
And you know, despite the fact that my huge stompy deck has been smashing face and finally got me to Platinum rank, I really do want to play with some of the cards. So I started slowly adding in some planeswalkers and started to realize that there was more to this game than turning things sideways. And maybe it would be cool to play a two-player version of Commander with these new cards. And then I started looking at the new decklists on Star City Games and felt something I had never felt before.

A desire to play Bant.

Magic Arena

Big Red is by far my favorite deck right now. The main reason for that?

Goblin Chainwhirler.

I don't think I have seen a card so likely to make Kibler stop playing Standard since Lifebane Zombie.

This card is so broken and every time I play it, I'm just amazed it saw print. If you are playing Green or Bant or anything involving mana creatures, this is just a beating. If you are playing WW it is a beating. Tokens of any kind - beating. Planeswalkers? Remove a counter for all of them.

I know it's not that big a deal to say that I made Platinum this morning but that was literally 3 levels with just big red and most of the time it was just pure domination. Plus, sometimes you play a mogg fanatic and your opponent just concedes because burn is the best deck in the format right now.

I think the only thing I would change is the Legendary Zombies for either more Bladewing or more Phoenix of which I have neither.

1 Demanding Dragon (M19) 135
23 Mountain (RIX) 195
4 Shock (M19) 156
4 Lightning Strike (XLN) 149
2 Runaway Steam-Kin (GRN) 115
4 Goblin Chainwhirler (DAR) 129
2 Risk Factor (GRN) 113
2 Sarkhan the Masterless (WAR) 143
1 Rekindling Phoenix (RIX) 111
4 Fanatical Firebrand (RIX) 101
3 Chandra, Fire Artisan (WAR) 119
2 Verix Bladewing (DAR) 149
2 Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion (WAR) 140
2 Ilharg, the Raze-Boar (WAR) 133
2 Lava Coil (GRN) 108
2 Sarkhan, Fireblood (M19) 154

This guy is about to have a bad time...

I played the Chainwhirler, attacked, put the dragon into play and he conceded.