Games to play with friends remotely!

I am one of those people who like board and parlor games. For many hears I have been part of local groups that get to together to play games. However with physical distancing in place we were missing playing. Se we have found some games we can still play together over that thing called the internet!

We are using Zoom as our video chat platform, though any one of the myriad other platforms would work as well I am sure.

Here are the games we have played so far:

CodenamesSetUp

CODENAMES

Codenames is a word guessing game. There are quite a few free sites that will create the boards for you and you can create private “rooms” to invite your friends to play it on. YOU also need to use a shared video chat platform to give the clues and discuss your guesses with teammates.

Site 1: https://www.codenames.plus/  or

Site 2: https://www.horsepaste.com/

Rules: https://gamerules.com/rules/codenames/

big_boggle

BOGGLE

To play Boggle, ahead of time I took pictures of multiple Boggle boards and then on Zoom used the share option to share the picture. One cold also point someone’s camera at the actual board as well.

Rules: https://howdoyouplayit.com/boggle-rules-play-boggle/

factinfive

FACTS-IN-FIVE

In Facts-in-Five, and old 3M bookcase game, there are 5 categories, 5 letters and 5 minutes to fill in as many as you can (it is like a more sophisticated version of Scattegories). Best if someone in the group own the game, though one could just invent one’s categories.

Rules: https://www.boardgamers.org/yearbkex08/fi5pge.htm

pictionary

PICTIONARY

Pictionary is the classic draw and guess game. I think there are several on line places to play it, but this one allows you to set up a private room. Rules vary from the Board game but work well for this setting.

https://www.drawasaurus.org/
or
https://skribbl.io/?K66OHlio5Gjt

hearts

HEARTS (the card game)

There are lots of sites to play Hearts on, from phone Apps to internet sites. Most are set up to play the computer or random internet partners.

One computer site that I like that has lots of different online card games and other traditional board games to play in real time with real people is PlayOK. If you wanted to play Hearts with your own friends you could start a room. The the person who starts  new game had the ability to boot other players so if you want to keep it to your firneds you could boot anyone but your own pals. You do have to create an account, but it is free.

(I used to also play Backgammon on that site, but found the rolls did not seem at all random).

https://www.playok.com/

 

I have wanted to figure out how to play Balderdash on line, but without everyone having the actual game, have not figured it out yet.

If you have other idea, please share!

 

 

2018 California Progressive Voter Guides

Here is a table of some Progressive Voter Recommendations. You can also click on links below the table to read about their reasoning.

2018 Voter Guide

 

LAP-Voter-300px LA Progressive

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 7.40.15 AM San Diego Free Press

Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 3.59.53 PM Friends Committee on Legislation California

LWV League of Women Voters

Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 3.53.00 PM Courage Campaign (includes other organizations’ recommendations as well)

Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 4.01.53 PM San Francisco League of Pissed-Off Voters

Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 3.47.16 PM  LA Forward

 

 

Brett Kavanaugh Unfit by any Measure

Brett Kavanaugh is unfit to be a Supreme Court nominee regardless of what he may or may not have done as a teen.

Brett Kavanaugh Shows Why the US is the Bestest Country in the WFirst of all, his record is more of one of a political hack—someone who has spent much of his career involved in party politics on behalf of the Republican party, meaning he is not likely to be unbiased in political type cases—e.g. gerrymandering and voter registration—that are likely to come before the court.

Then has been Kavanaugh’s demeanor in the hearings. The hearings are a form of a job interview, and his attack on his employers—the people who vote to appoint him or not, show he does not have the demeanor to be a judge. A judge of the highest court in the nation needs to be able to not take a job interview personally and let his emotions control his actions. His actions in the hearings do not show that.

It is also hard to believe Kavanaugh’s testimony about what kind of person he was at that age, given what is known about him from others and the culture of the school’s he went to. His attack any for questioning him on such an unlikely story, again shows is lack of character.

He accused the Democratic party and Senators of creating a conspiracy against him. If someone goes into the court believing one party is conspiring against him, and states so publicly, he cannot then be seen as impartial.

And even if here was an attempt by one party to disqualify him, does he feel the same way regarding how the Republican party openly conspired against Obama’s nominee? The Republican’s did not even allow a hearing, and then changed the rules once they had power to allow a simple majority to select the Supreme Court judge when up until then it took 60 votes. I call that a conspiracy. A democracy is not the rule of the majority over the minority, but a working together of the whole for the good of all. The Republican’s did not even try to hide their partisan purpose behind those actions.

Any single one of these, and more, are reasons alone to disqualify Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court. Put together they make a travesty of our legal system and our Democracy.

Lower Taxes for Whom?

I am probably preaching to the choir, but the claim of giving tax relief to the rich and corporations will help the middle class or poor is patently false, both logically and from past empirical evidence.

taxes

The claim is that the savings would be used to create jobs. Since those getting the tax breaks currently are making record profits or already have huge amount of money, if they wanted to invest it to create jobs they could do so now without further incentives, so giving them more is unlikely to change whether they use it that way or not. In fact, in the past they have used such profits to move jobs overseas, to buy up other companies in mergers, which reduces jobs, especially middle management jobs—those of the middle class. The rich, in such times as now, find safe places to invest their monies, such as real estate and expensive goods, neither of which create much employment. Their investment in real estate often in fact creates higher housing costs for the rest of the population.

Then there was the statement by the Administration that companies would use the tax break to automate, which would save them more money, which they could use to raise wages. Let us look at that statement and take it apart. If they did use it to automate, that would mean job losses not gains. And while they could use the money to raise wages, what incentive would they have to do so? Under capitalism, when they have more workers wanting the same jobs, they are more likely to lower wages when there is more competition for the same jobs, not raise wages.

The idea of reducing or eliminating capital gain taxes also goes against basic fairness. The idea that earnings from actual work that produces something is taxed more than income made from doing nothing, simply from the fact that one is rich, seems absurd. Should not unearned income –income made off of the work of others, be taxed higher than the earned income which is earned by ones sweat and toil? The earning income from investments rather than hard work again is mostly in the hands of the very rich, so any breaks there would again be heavily weighted in favor of the extremely wealthy.

There is also the plan to eliminate the estate tax (tax on estates at death). Currently only the very rich pay this, as it is only paid on amounts over $5,400,000 ($10,800,000 for couples). This tax saving would be enormous for the children of multi-millionaires and billionaires who did nothing at all to earn that money, except be born to the right parents.

When the poor or middle class have more money, they do spend it. The money they spend is likely to create more jobs since increased purchase of consumer goods means there is an incentive to produce more goods, which does create jobs.

If one really wanted to help the economy while not raising the debt one would be increasing taxes to those who have the money, the rich, who are richer than ever before in history, and large corporations, who are currently making record profits. Lowering taxes for the middle class and getting money to the poor will create jobs by putting it in the hands of those who need it and will spend it. Basic logic and past empirical evidence bears this out.

HanlonTrickleDownTax-fig2HanlonTrickleDownTax-fig1

 

 

NPE Statement on Charter Schools

Network for Public Education

 Statement on Charter Schools

The Network for Public Education believes that public education is the pillar of our democracy. We believe in the common school envisioned by Horace Mann. A common school is a public institution, which nurtures and teaches all who live within its boundaries, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, sexual preference or learning ability. All may enroll–regardless of when they seek to enter the school or where they were educated before.

We believe that taxpayers bear the responsibility for funding those schools and that funding should be ample and equitable to address the needs of the served community. We also believe that taxpayers have the right to examine how schools use tax dollars to educate children.

Most importantly, we believe that such schools should be accountable to the community they serve, and that community residents have the right and responsibility to elect those who govern the school. Citizens also have the right to insist that schooling be done in a manner that best serves the needs of all children.

By definition, a charter school is not a public school Charter schools are formed when a private organization contracts with a government authorizer to open and run a school. Charters are managed by private boards, often with no connection to the community they serve. The boards of many leading charter chains are populated by billionaires who often live far away from the schools they govern.

Through lotteries, recruitment and restrictive entrance policies, charters do not serve all children. The public cannot review income and expenditures in detail. Many are for profit entities or non-profits that farm out management to for-profit corporations that operate behind a wall of secrecy. This results in scandal, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer funds. The news is replete with stories of self-dealing, conflicts of interest, and theft occurring in charter schools [1].

We have learned during the 25 years in which charters have been in existence that the overall academic performance of students in charter schools is no better, and often worse, than the performance of students in public schools. And yet charter schools are seen as the remedy when public schools are closed based on unfair letter-based grading schemes.

By means of school closures and failed takeover practices like the Achievement School District, disadvantaged communities lose their public schools to charter schools. Not only do such communities lose the school, but they also lose their voice in school governance.

There is little that is innovative or new that charter schools offer. Because of their “freedom” from regulations, allegedly to promote innovation, scandals involving the finances and governance of charter schools occur on a weekly basis. Charter schools can and have closed at will, leaving families stranded. Profiteers with no educational expertise have seized the opportunity to open charter schools and use those schools for self-enrichment. States with weak charter laws encourage nepotism, profiteering by politicians, and worse.

For all of the reasons above and more, the Network for Public Education regard charter schools as a failed experiment that our organization cannot support. If the strength of charter schools is the freedom to innovate, then that same freedom can be offered to public schools by the district of the state.

At the same time, we recognize that many families have come to depend on charter schools and that many charter school teachers are dedicated professionals who serve their students well. It is also true that some charter schools are successful. We do not, therefore, call for the immediate closure of all charter schools, but rather we advocate for their eventual absorption into the public school system. We look forward to the day when charter schools are governed not by private boards, but by those elected by the community, at the district, city or county level.

Until that time, we support all legislation and regulation that will make charters better learning environments for students and more accountable to the taxpayers who fund them. Such legislation would include the following:

·     An immediate moratorium on the creation of new charter schools, including no replication or expansion of existing charter schools

·     The transformation of for-profit charters to non-profit charters

·     The transformation of for-profit management organizations to non-profit management organizations

·     All due process rights for charter students that are afforded public school students, in all matters of discipline

·     Required certification of all school teaching and administrative staff

·     Complete transparency in all expenditures and income

·     Requirements that student bodies reflect the demographics of the served community

·     Open meetings of the board of directors, posted at least 2 weeks prior on the charter’s website

·     Annual audits available to the public

·     Requirements to following bidding laws and regulations

·     Requirements that all properties owned by the charter school become the property of the local public school if the charter closes

·     Requirements that all charter facilities meet building codes

·     Requirements that charters offer free or reduced priced lunch programs for students

·     Full compensation from the state for all expenditures incurred when a student leaves the public school to attend a charter

·     Authorization, oversight and renewal of charters transferred to the local district in which they are located

·     A rejection of all ALEC legislation regarding charter schools that advocates for less transparency, less accountability, and the removal of requirements for teacher certification.

Until charter schools become true public schools, the Network for Public Education will continue to consider them to be private schools that take public funding.

——
The Network for Public Education is a 501 (c)(3) organization. You can make a tax deductible donation here.

You can follow us on twitter and like us on Facebook.

Why Organic and Non-GMO

One often reads debates on whether organic produce is better for one’s health than produce grown with the use of herbicides and pesticides. The same is debated in regards to whether there are detrimental effects of eating foods that have been genetically engineered.

toxic-pesticide-apple-tree-cartoon

From what I have read, the evidence is that there are probably minor advantages vitamin and health-wise in organic produce, and particularly in micro-nutrients. While some pesticides and herbicides wash off, other may be ingested. And how much pesticides stay in or on the produce can depend on the crop as well as other factors. However, given all the multiple factors it is hard to really do a carefully controlled study with real human being under real conditions.

Regarding GMO foods, just too little is yet known to be able to make an informed judgment as to if there is any direct health risk form eating such foods. So, on that score we are really guinea pigs in a world-wide experiment.

Regarding the lab studies on the harm of pesticides and herbicides to people, those are almost useless since they are so far removed from how they actually get used in real life conditions—such as they are usually used in multiple combinations, and those synergistic effects are not tested.

Yet, really such issues miss the main problem with the use of pesticides and herbicides. The reason I eat organic and non-GMO foods has little to do with whether it directly effects my health. It is the effect on the environment that concerns me most. On that score, it is abundantly clear that the use of pesticides, herbicides and the use of genetically engineered crops damage our ecosystem.

These pesticides and herbicides end up in the soil. Then they work their way down into out aquifers and water system, into run off that ends up in stream, rivers, lakes and oceans. The worms and bugs end up ingesting them, then the birds that eat them. The same with the fish and other water microorganisms. These then all work their way up the food chain, collecting in higher dosages, affecting the entire food chain.

The use of these artificial chemicals also ends up depleting the soil, leading to loss of quality topsoil. None of that is really debatable.

Now, about GMOs. What is not generally known is what is the main engineered modification that agribusiness is using. The biggest crops that are genetically engineered are corn and soy, and a huge proportion of the world crop is now GMO. The main purpose of the modification is to make these crops more resistant to herbicides and pesticides. It has little to do with making “better” corn or soy.

Why are they doing this? It has to do with modern mono-cropping and profits. Under normal circumstances, insects and plants play an evolutionary dance. Insects eat the plants, but some plants are more resistant to the bugs than others, and those thrive while the others do not do as well. But some bugs in turn do fine with the new strain of the plant, and those bugs thrive while the others do not do as well. So, both bugs and plants continue to evolve in response to the changes in the other.

Now along comes the agro-chemical-business. They do not like changes in the crop. They want to have one uniform plant that they have bred to their specification. Also, a natural plant, or seed cannot be patented and owned. These large agro-chemical companies do not allow their plants and seeds to naturally evolve. They usually have sterile seed. Therefore each season the farmers have to buy new seed from these companies.

However, the bugs and weeds DO continue to evolve to overcome both natural pest resistance and manufactured pesticides and herbicides. Because of this, larger and larger doses of herbicides and pesticides are needed to have the same effect. But these larger doses also can be harmful to the plants themselves. Therefore, the plants are modified to be resistant to these larger doses of pesticides and herbicides.

The principle modification therefore of soy and corn is to allow higher and higher doses of pesticides and herbicides to be applied to our crops, poisoning our planet even more. The same companies that sell these GMO seeds to the farmers are also selling them the herbicides and pesticides, so they increase their profits on both ends with these practices.

Organic farming practices are generally designed to maintain the quality of the soil and respect our natural environmental ecology. Does it cost more? Only if you ignore the costs to the livability of our planet.