Ranked Choice Vote Works! Maine 2018

Finally, finally, a success for Ranked Choice Vote in the United States. After decades of struggling against the disastrous first-past-the-post voting system, we finally get a real step towards voting that actually works.

(Seriously, first past the post is horrible, and stuff like the 1998 Minnesota Governor Election shows exactly why. Only five states—Washington, California, Louisiana, Georgia (<3), and Maine—avoid this massive problem that has plagued the country for ages.)

ranked choice vote only in maine
Pathetic

Finally, in 2016, Maine approved instant runoff voting for all its statewide elections—or, in other words, Ranked Choice Voting. And in 2018, we finally saw it in action for the first time.

Ranked Choice Vote

voting precinct

If you aren’t familiar with Ranked Choice Voting, here is the way-too-simple explanation. Instead of choosing one candidate to vote for, you take all candidates on the ballot and rank them from top to bottom. Then, when all ballots are counted, if nobody reaches 50% on the first round, the worst scoring candidate is eliminated, and anyone who had the worst candidate as their #1 will then transfer to their #2, and then so on and so on.

Read more about it and other electoral reform topics on FairVote.

It’s not a perfect system, but literally anything is better than first-past-the-post. And Maine is the first state to show it off… And to show that it really works!

Maine Paves the Way

Despite constant repeal attempts over the past few years, Ranked Choice Voice has survived and thrived in Maine, and in 2018 we got to see it in action. People voted, the system didn’t collapse in on itself, and the votes came in just as planned.

In fact, in the second district, we actually saw our first case of multi-ballot voting. In the first round, the Republican candidate led, but only with 46%. After the lower-ranking candidates were eliminated, the Democrat was declared the winner with 50.6% of the vote.

It all went very well. And it showed that Ranked Choice Vote is a viable voting system that will hopefully replace first-past-the-post in many more states.

On the ballot in November, voters in Alaska and Massachusetts will decide on Ranked Choice Vote. And starting next year, New York City will conduct its biggest local elections with the system. If all of that goes as well as Maine, we could see a really big revolution in voting in the 20s. All thanks to 2018!

And in extremely recent news: Maine will vote for President with Ranked Choice Vote for the first time ever in American history! Yay!

For more another blog post on news & politics, read about the GOP’s disastrous anti-transit tactics in the early 10s.

Artificial Shortages of Every Single Nintendo Product Ever Made [2012-2019]

Here is a brief history of Nintendo’s undying love for artificial shortages.

Nintendo got cocky from the Wii. It sold out really badly in its first Christmas season; nobody could get one, and everyone wanted one. It created a fire that fueled the console’s amazing success in the years to follow. Possibly thanks to its incredible scarcity, the Wii quickly took off to become the second-best-selling console of all-time.

So when the Wii U stalled out of the gate and did NOT sell out in Holiday 2012, Nintendo apparently took the lessons of the Wii’s success, assumed that scarcity was the only way it succeeded, and decided to redo the same exact same strategy with every stupid piece of hardware they ever released!

Xenoblade Chronicles (2012)

tiny xenoblade

Nintendo decided to hang the game out to dry with not a single clue that it could ever succeed. This made no sense because Xenoblade was already a critically acclaimed smash in Japan and Europe, but Nintendo of America just had no confidence here. It suffered stock shortages in the UK because it was so popular… And yet they still did it!

It was a Gamestop exclusive, so its copies were already going to be sparse. A major example of artificial shortages if there ever was one. But when it inevitably earned its status as a modern classic, Gamestop decided to go even further into craven business practices by causing an artificial price boost to its own copies.

Continue reading “Artificial Shortages of Every Single Nintendo Product Ever Made [2012-2019]”

Living in Florida: The Month of S [2018]

I didn’t plan on living in Florida, but somehow it happened. If you want to talk about really badly planned events that went extremely well, you want to talk about the time in 2018 when I moved to Florida for a couple months.

Waiting for JET

Because I had just gone and assumed I’d be accepted for the JET Program after applying in 2017, I decided not to renew my lease in Seattle. I would quit my job at the end of May 2018, then spend time with my Dad’s side of the family, then my Mom’s side of the family, before I moved to Japan for several years.

It was a very solid plan—June in Florida, July in Georgia, then August and beyond in wherever JET sent me, hopefully Aichi Prefecture. The only problem was that I didn’t get accepted. I got waitlisted.

I feverishly tracked the JET Program Reddit to find out the status of waitlisted candidates to see my chances go down, and down, and down.

In April when the real acceptances were picked, some obviously had to decline and then more alternates would be picked to fill those slots. That never came.

In May I waited for the college graduates who got a sweet offer at their Dad’s firm and decided a $70,000 base salary was better than their presumed year-long vacation to Japan. That never came.

In June I waited for those last emergency dropouts for people who got arrested or had health problems or simply got wet feet. That never came.

I mean, I know I bombed the interview really badly, but I felt so confident that I looked great on paper. I studied in Japan for a year and had Japanese as a minor, I had experience as a teaching assistant, I had a degree in Writing & Linguistics and knew a lot about the English language… It genuinely hurt me to find that I had been completely passed over.

It hurt me even more to know that I had already set the plans in motion to go and could not stop them under any circumstance. Already having subleased my room out, already having put in my notice at work, already having bought plane tickets to Florida, it was beyond too late to reconsider. And it really sucked, but I decided to make good use of it anyway!

This is actually a pretty happy story, I promise.

(Also, spoiler alert, but I DID get accepted to the JET Program months later in one of the most fateful freak accidents the world has ever given me. I’ve been grateful ever since.)

Continue reading “Living in Florida: The Month of S [2018]”

[2015] The Making of Barty Anderson 4

More than anything I have made thus far in my life as a storyteller, Barty’s Brew-Ha-Ha 4: Tale of the Legend of the Crystal Chubacabra [sic] is the thing I am most proud of. My masterpiece, one that debuted five years ago today.

(first off, if you want to read further, you should probably watch the original Barty Anderson movies by the Brothers Hussie, Byron and Andrew. I’ll embed the entire series playlist below.)

And then Barty 4 itself can be watched here:

Continue reading “[2015] The Making of Barty Anderson 4”

[2019] Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – I Love It, But I’d Change It

Aside from the perfectly-passable-but-weightless Solo, it’s not a tough statement to say that The Rise of Skywalker is the worst (live-action, theatrical) Star Wars film. Maybe Attack of the Clones or The Force Awakens are kinda close, but it’s pretty clear to me that Episode IX is the least artistically accomplished, most flawed of the Skywalker Saga.

But I still love it anyway.

Rewatching the movie in preparation for this article, I was struck by just how overcome with joy I was by so much of this movie. It’s such an exciting and silly experience. Never for a moment do I get bored, even when I’m rolling my eyes at the dumber parts. Honestly, that’s what it was supposed to do, anyway; provide a smashing finale to the greatest epic saga in the history of film. It’s the climax to a nine-part series and thus doesn’t exactly need to be jam packed with new storylines and deeper themes. Even though… that’s kind of what it tried to do…

Continue reading “[2019] Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – I Love It, But I’d Change It”

[2015] Star Wars Episode VII Actually Exists… Think About That

We live in an era where Star Wars Episode VII really exists, and it’s hard to imagine now that, at the beginning of the decade, that wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind that that would ever come to pass.

Okay, maybe the absolute biggest turbo-nerds had kept track of all those offhand comments by Mark Hamill where he said George Lucas once wanted him to play the old man mentor character in a new Star Wars movie decades in the future. But for 99% of the population, Star Wars was a finished franchise, at least until the inevitable remake sometime after Lucas bit the dust.

But it happened. Lucasfilm was sold to Disney. JJ Abrams signed on to direct. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was filmed and released, and not only that but it became the #1 highest-grossing movie in North America by such a wide margin that no film has even come close to breaching it since.

Continue reading “[2015] Star Wars Episode VII Actually Exists… Think About That”

[2015] Fant4stic Goes to… (pfft) Denny’s

They don’t really do fast food and junk food tie-ins with big blockbuster movies that much anymore. That was very much a product of the 90s and 00s, and after the first Avengers movie in 2012, you hardly saw it outside the inevitable Star Wars brand tie-ins, which are universal constant.

I’ve always wondered why exactly that is, but then I remember how Fant4stic went.

Their tie-in with Denny’s was just…

Geez…

Continue reading “[2015] Fant4stic Goes to… (pfft) Denny’s”

[2012] The Nostalgic World of Obama x Romney Fan Fiction

I can’t believe it was a simpler time for politics back in 2012. It felt like there was really something boiling under the lid, something about to spill over and really harm the country. Of course, that feeling ended up proving true in 2016, when the forces under the surface of the prior election cycle became the ultimate symbol of chaos and division for the United States.

The GOP presidential primaries that year were a battle for the soul of the party, where Tea Party demagogues like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum dueled against the big business establishment of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich and against the libertarian populism of Ron Paul. A holy war was being waged, and the eventual result, four years later, was that all three of these factions would collide into the socially conservative, big business populist known as, uh, that one guy who became President in 2016.

Continue reading “[2012] The Nostalgic World of Obama x Romney Fan Fiction”

Super Mario Bros Z Episode 9, and the Slow, Tortuous Death of Fan Projects [2012]

Nerds of a certain age are highly likely to have seen Super Mario Bros Z. If you liked video games and had internet access between the years of 2006 and 2009, you either watched Super Mario Bros Z, or at the very least heard about it. There is very little on this Earth that exemplifies the late 00s more than a Newgrounds flash animation crossover of Mario and Sonic filled with anime fight scenes and chugga chugga guitar tracks.

However, this isn’t an 00s Retrospective series; this is about the 10s. And the only relationship with the 10s Super Mario Bros. Z has is that this was the decade wherein the whole project perished, and the world was taught a lesson on the folly of fan fiction passion projects.

not super mario bros z

Super Mario Bros. Z always faced the problem that its entire existence was owed to one man working for free. Alvin Earthworm, the quite talented series creator, did the writing, the direction, the animation, and even most of the custom spritework all by himself, with no chance of compensation. Solo or near-solo efforts on larger projects can work out well (see Stardew Valley and Undertale, whose creators are multi-millionaires now), but for a fan project? It can be a dicey proposition.

Continue reading “Super Mario Bros Z Episode 9, and the Slow, Tortuous Death of Fan Projects [2012]”

[2013] An Attempt at Summer Internet Seclusion

Did you know I took the Summer of 2013 off the internet?

I don’t know why you would know that… It’d be kind of weird if you did. But, and this is extremely weird to say, but after I graduated high school I made the firm decision to avoid the internet for a whole two months because I thought it would help me spend a lot more time with friends and family before I went off to college.

Continue reading “[2013] An Attempt at Summer Internet Seclusion”