Friday, September 21, 2012

Chikara's King of Trios Thoughts and Gifs

This is going to be fairly short and concise. Well, as short and concise for ten hours of the best wrestling.

Going into King of Trios I was a little apprehensive. I really love a lot of Chikara, but some of Chikara has never done anything for me. Mix that with some nostalgia teams that I don't care about, and a few teams that I knew nothing about and I thought that Trios would be more about hanging out with my Wrestling Bros than the actual event.

I was wrong. First thing, I'm a bad wrestling fan. I've taken the "What have you done for me lately?" approach to wrestling. Seeing an old guy doesn't do anything for me, but if delivers it can be great. Secondly, judging a few trios teams based on what I found on YouTube wasn't fair. Last, despite Trios being the best wrestling event I have ever been to and Night 3 having the best match I have ever seen I can still confidently say that hanging out with the Wrestling Bros was still the best part of the weekend. You people are that awesome.
I could go on and on and on and just gush about how great everything was. Instead of doing that I'll just hit a few points that seem worth mentioning.

First, I was at the live show. Since then I've watched the MP4s (GIFS!) and ordered the DVDs. I still don't feel like I spent enough money for how great the show was. The taping, while obviously not as great as actually being there, is very good and definitely worth watching if you are a wrestling fan. Night 3 is the best wrestling show I have ever seen, but watching the first two nights (which are both great) really helps Night 3 become what it is.

Second, holy crap I like the Young Bucks. I hated those guys, but they were always entertaining in the ring and were great heels. They won me over as a fan.

Third, Dasher Hatfield is legit the nicest guy ever. Mr Touchdown is amazing. Seriously, everyone I met and talked to in the show was gracious and nice. The only exception was Ophidian and that dude shut me down in the most foul way possible.

Fourth, Too Cold Scorpio can still go, Tommy Dreamer was fun, and people were losing their minds over Tito Santana.

Fifth, Never before, never again will we see Sugar Dunkerton v Tatanka.
Sixth, Kaori Yoneyama is my new favorite wrestler. I could watch her and Tsubasa Kuragaki wrestle forever and I would never get tired or bored.

Seventh, Team JWP was awesome. The tag match with them and Manami Toyota is my favorite match ever. I've watched it three times since then and it's still amazing. That match just made me so happy. I wasn't a Joshi fan before, but in an attempt to be a wrestling fan I think I need to be since all the Joshi wrestlers there were just the best.
Eighth, the Sendai Girls team and JWP teams were ace. I'm not going to say the weekend would not have been as awesome without them, but the easily contributed the most of anyone else there.

Ninth, isn't it crazy we live in a world where a guy like Ultramantis Black can come out to black metal and be the face against some good looking young guys who are clean shaven? That's nuts!

Tenth, Wrestling Bros because YOLO. Seriously, I came with a lot of great friends and left with even more.

I could go on and on about so much. It was close to a perfect weekend and the wrestling, friends, and environment was just perfect. Also, if you weren't there you should definitely get the DVDs or buy the stream. Smart Mark Video has it and it's seriously the best wrestling show ever, even filmed. I've watched it twice since coming back and it's just as good as I remember.

Also, since people don't come here for my rambling thoughts (Brandon Stroud will have a write up on Monday at With Leather that will definitely be worth reading) here are the gifs I've made. There's over 75 between all 3 nights.

Night 1
Night 2
Night 3

If I missed anything let me know on Twitter or wherever kids talk to one another on the internet. ICQ?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Friedich von Hayek and Augosto Pinochet: The Liberty Scam

Few figures exist in the Libertarian movement like Hayek. No other figure is quoted, revered, or talked about as much. Sure, certain segments of that "movement" prefer Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises, but Hayek is the one I hear most talked about.

Take a quick look at Cato, Reason, or those awful economic rap videos and it's easy to see a level of idolatry that would make the most staunch Marxist blush. Of Hayek's work, The Road to Serfdom is the most talked about and lauded. I'll go into a little detail about why it's a silly and nonsensical book, but first here's a cartoon summary of the main points of the book.

It's important to understand that this was written during World War 2. Hayek thought that the centralized planning the Allies did to fight the war would result in new dictators rising up and taking away liberty. Hayek saw the National Health Service in the UK, national highways in the United States, and many other such programs as examples of the beginning of the end.

It's peculiar to me that a book that lays out a set of predictions could end up being so completely wrong, yet still be read and referenced to the extent it is referenced today. I might have missed it, but I don't remember Norway or Sweden or France or Germany or the United Kingdom or any other nation this book was talking about slipping into despotism and terror as a result of implementing social democracy. I'm a simple man, though, so I might have missed it.

This all becomes ever more strange when you realize that Hayek was in favor of dictatorship and did support the overthrow of a democratically elected government. All of Hayek's talk about liberty and freedom become worthless once you understand his involvement and support of Augosto Pinochet and his despotic regime in Chile.

Many others have done a better job of talking about this subject than I am capable of, so I highly encourage you to take a look a Corey Robin's post on this subject as he does an excellent job of discussing Hayek and his support of totalitarian regimes.

What takes Hayek from being merely stupid and getting overly excited about the free market, lest we forget stupid leftists who have supported vile dictatorships because they were caught up in the excitement of a perceived worker's revolution, is that he was very clear about what he saw and what he encouraged.

Hayek was, in fact, not just an enthusiastic supporter of Pinochet and what he had done in Chile, but was quite open about preferring a dictatorship that protected his twisted view of economic liberty to “democratic government lacking in liberalism." Andrew Farrant, Edward McPhail, and Sebastian Berger have gone into great depths exploring Hayek's views on these issues in a well written paper that can be found here.

What does all of this mean, though? I could go into great detail about other Libertarian thinkers and activists and their support of despotism, such as Ludwig von Mises collaboration and support of Italian and Austrian fascism, but what's the point?

The point is this: Libertarianism is a misnomer. They care not one iota about actual liberty. They will sometimes talk about gay rights, legalizing marijuana, ending various wars, and lots of other things that appeal to a liberals sense of what liberty actually means, but at the end of the day they are willing to sacrifice everything for economic freedom. Libertarians care not about actual freedom, and they are overtly contemptuous and against democracy, instead they merely wish to "liberate" the markets from any democratic oversight and they are willing to do anything and everything they can to do that.

It can be to no one's surprise that most, although not all, avowed libertarians are voting for Mitt Romney this election year. Despite Mitt Romney and President Obama having differences on gay marriage, illegal drugs and sentencing, education, and many other issues that those that call themselves "libertarians" pretend to care about that at the end of the day they are willing to sacrifice all those issues for a slight decrease in government involvement in the free market.

I know I have said this time and time again, but there is a fundamental incompatibility between democracy and capitalism. We see this every day: capital and business are becoming more powerful and are using that power to weaken democratic controls, influence, and the very institution of democracy in local governments and unions.

We will not be able to fight back for as long as people are allowed to talk about von Hayek without mentioning his disgraceful support and intellectual arguments for despotism and tyranny. On this anniversary of the coup that overthrew a democratically elected government we must remind the world what the free market looks like and does. Viva Allende!

Friday, September 7, 2012

NOVA Open Review, Thoughts, and Battle Reports

I've been slacking off on writing this, work has been nuts this week, but here are my thoughts on the NOVA Open.

Overall Thoughts on the Tournament and Convention
I had a very good time. I played in the 40k Grand Tournament and it was well run and moved. I think it's unfair to compare it to Adepticon or past Games Workshop Grand Tournaments, they have very different aims than NOVA, but they will have to work as a baseline.

First, the hotel worked. It was clean, reasonably priced, and was not in the way. I've been at tournaments in crappy hotels that cost 50% more than what I spent at NOVA, and I'm thankful that NOVA appears to be sticking with the Hyatt in Crystal City. From what I understand, it sounds like most of the complaints last year were addressed in a positive way this year. The only real complaint, and I know this is one that can't be addressed, is that most of the neighborhood restaurants weren't open during the weekend and the hotel food was a little pricey. We packed sandwiches and snacks so it didn't bother us too much.

The 40k GT was well run. It moved along and I didn't hear very many complaints. Pairings went up reasonably fast, and with two and a half hours I imagine most everyone finished on time. I only had two games that didn't end "naturally" and both of those would not have changed had there been more time. 

My only real complaint with the GT was the terrain. It looked nice, but was very big and just didn't feel like any sort of terrain I've ever played in 40k. I've been to numerous Grand Tournaments, both GW and independent, tons of RTTs throughout the East Coast, and have played many games otherwise and I have never seen or played on terrain that felt like this. I don't think the terrain ever won or lost me any games, but I definitely think it's an area where they could improve moving into the future.
Don't get me wrong, I imagine those that brought balanced lists had no problems. While the terrain could be improved, and granted this is an improvement that would make the terrain more in line with what I feel 40k terrain should be, I don't think anyone that brought a balanced list was overly hurt by it. I have no sympathy with someone that lost because of the terrain because they brought an MSU gunline and wanted to grind down their opponents with statistics, instead of actually playing a real game of 40k.

Outside of terrain I think the NOVA FAQ could have been better. I give them a pass on this because GW has been lax about cleaning up some of the core rules for 6th edition, but one NOVA FAQ ruling struck me as just obviously wrong. NOVA FAQ ruled that a Flyer could fly, or Hover or whatever they call it, and do so at Combat Speed up to 35". That means that Cruising Speed is the domain of 36" and only 36". In all the games I played and all the Flyers I played against I never once saw someone go 36". I bet there's a very strong probability that there was never an instance where a Flyer ever went Cruising Speed the entire weekend. I think that's a clear way you can tell you got a rule wrong: When a rule gives you two choices and you interpret it to mean that in 99.99999% of the time only one option will be taken.
It's not a huge deal, although it definitely helped the two Necron Flyer lists I played, but there you go.

I have a few other quick problems and areas where I believe they can improve. 

Paint judging was done in a way that confused me. I know I got paint judged, but my result was never posted. Now, my army is very much a tabletop quality army, but I'm still proud of it and painted it up in a few short weeks. I think it would have scored well, and I would have liked to have seen what I got. It's a little annoying that I had to bring my army to get judged and I don't have the score to see.

Ashley and I have talked that when we NOVA next year that both of us will have to play the same system. Schedules didn't overlap and it was hard to see one another much. I obviously don't expect them to make this work for us, I doubt there were many other couples that split systems like us, but going forward we just need to make sure we play the same system.

Lastly, and most importantly, I think Mike Brandt and the guys who run NOVA need to decide if they want to be the big competitive 40k tournament or if they want to be an actual convention. I only played in the 40k GT but I still played 8 games and that left me with zero time to check out vendors, take hobby seminars, or do much of anything but play all the 40k in the world. I love 40k, but cramming that many games into a weekend involves sacrificing a few things and I think creating a real convention is going to be one of them. 

I remember the old Games Workshop Grand Tournaments, at least the ones I went to in 2008, and how great they were because we would play 5 games but we also had time to check everyone's army and really take in the event. It's a slower pace that really allows for a more relaxed environment, which fosters an ability to do things that aren't just playing games. I very strongly believe that for NOVA to become a true convention that it will need to give up the "competitive" nature of what they are going for. 

Everything I talked about is relatively minor. I go to these tournaments to play new people, to see cool armies, and to get in a bunch of good games. The tournament did all of that and it did it very well. I hope none of what I said above gets in the way of the fact that I had a good time and will go again next year.

Quick Battle Reports
I didn't take detailed notes or have army lists / missions handy, but I had a great time this weekend and thought it would be fun to talk about each game briefly.

Here is my heroic Tau with glorious Kroot, intrepid Vespid, and stoic Ork allies.

Game 1
My first game was against a really good guy running Necrons. I forgot his name (Very sorry!), but it was a very close game. I had some ridiculous luck, Vespids managed to take off the last Hull Point of a Necron Flyer (!!??!?) and I managed to pull out the win. It was a tough game and I think Wraiths give Necrons a very strong assault element that ties that army together. Without them they have the risk of not being well balanced. This army was balanced and fun to play against. Good guy and a good game.

Game 2
Game 2 was against Nicholas Caruso and his Grey Knights with Space Wolf allies. I believe the mission was Objectives, with The Relic being the center objective, and using Hammer and Anvil. His list was hard as it constituted Grey Knight Razorbacks and lots of Psycannons. 

I honestly became disinterested in this game by round 2. He was just rolling so many dice and going through shooting with everything that it became tedious. He was an incredibly nice guy, though, and was really great to talk to afterwards. He fully admits that this is a hard list and isn't fun to play with or against, but NOVA is a competitive tournament so there we are.

Very good guy and a very big defeat for me. Looking back on it now I realize that I could have given him a much better game had I deployed differently. I believe I have the tools to beat this army and had I deployed better I think it could have been closer. It would have been a hard game for me to win, but I believe I better understand what I need to do to make it a better matchup. 

Game 3
Game 3 was against Pete and his Blood Angels. I saw his army and thought I had a strong win. He had very few models, and I figured I could kill 15 2+ Save models.

I couldn't. Pete was a super good guy, but this is one of those games where the game wasn't as fun as it should be. There were just a lot of weird things that happened, such as having a big mob of 30 Ork Boyz with Warboss charge 5 Sanguinary Guard with Dante and kill zero models. Between Shooting and Assaults I did an unimaginable number of wounds and killed nothing.

It happens, and Pete was a lot of fun to play with. He had really bad luck his previous game so he was owed a good game. I also know that a big part of my loss came from my playing too aggressively and counting too much on being able to throw enough wounds on his Terminators and Sanguinary Guard. Had I played more carefully and focused on shooting and having a strong Counter Attack element I think I could have won.

You have to take the bad with the good and the bad luck I had this game turned into ridiculous luck in my 6th game, so it all works out.

Game 4
Game 4 was against Brian Carlson, and if I keep repeating myself that he was a great guy it's because I had really great opponents for a lot of the tournament. Super nice guy with a gorgeous army.

I wish I remembered more about the game, but I believe it was pretty close and he ended up with a victory. I remember there being a lot of dancing and shooting with his Wraiths, but I couldn't do enough to stop him at the end. I believe Victory Point were close and it was an otherwise close game, just one I couldn't seal the deal on.

Very good guy and I'm very glad he won his bracket. He's a great player with a strong army.

Game 5
At this point we're all put into our brackets. I'm in the heroic 1-3 bracket, and at this point the games start to feel more intense. My 4 previous games were much more relaxed, but now each game effectively becomes single elimination and it definitely makes for a more intense environment.

Game 5 was against Robin Adair. Robin had a really nice looking Night Lord's army, using Blood Angels rules, and was a good guy. I feel bad because he was very frustrated for a lot of our game, he missed a 7" charge that became a 9" charge because of Overwatch and a few other things. Sadly, I don't think his army was all that good. It looked really nice, but I think it's going to be hard to win a game of 6th Edition with 50 Jump Infantry. 

This was a tough game for him because I just had so much long range shooting, and I still managed to have a strong Assault Element that by the time he did get to me I had Kroot and Ork Boyz that could Assault and take care of whatever I needed.

This was a big victory for me.

Game 6
Game 6 was with Mitch Stevens with Stiff Neck Painting. Mitch was a really great guy with a gorgeous Imperial Fists army.

I made up for all my bad luck in game 3. I had first turned and ended up taking out a bunch of Space Marines, a Vindicator, his Thunderfire Cannon, and a few other odds and ends. Whenever something would come up it would come up good for me. He had a Storm Talon come in and my Quad Gun just downed it before it could do anything. Vespids shot and killed a Librarian. It was a brutal game and Mitch was gracious and kind about it.

Had I not been lucky I think this game would have been extremely close. He's a good player and his list could give me serious problems. 

Also, all of the Stiff Neck guys I met were great and class acts. I'd look into them if you wanted some painting work as they were very gracious and talented people.

Game 7
Game 7 was against another Tau player. Ryan Christensen was a nice guy, but arrived almost a half hour late. This was a good game but we ended after only 4 turns. Things were looking great for me, so I don't think us going any other turns would have helped him too much. He had no answer for my Ork Boyz and I had killed almost all of his troops by this point.

Very good guy, though, and it was fun to play against another Tau player.

Game 8
Game 8 was a huge victory for me. Chris Hood was a really good guy, but he made some big mistakes that I was able to capitalize on.

One of the reasons I play so many armies is that it lets you really appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the next army you play. Between playing lots of Xenos armies, Tau and Dark Eldar especially, plus playing Fantasy I have come to really appreciate Leadership. I'm not sure if a lot of Space Marine players appreciate how Leadership can influence the game. He deployed 3 Long Fang Squads, one with his Rune Priest, not far from his table edge. I had first turn and made it a point to cause a Leadership Check in the 3 Long Fang Squads and the one Grey Knight squad he had. This resulted in two units falling back and one, the unit with his Rune Priest, running off the board. He thought this was incredibly unlucky, and while it wasn't fortunate I can't help but think that I deliberately shot at each squad to cause enough wounds to force as many Leadership checks as possible.

The rest of the game went great for me. He Deep Striked a Drop Pod full of Wolf Guard Terminators next to my Ork mob, and stayed within range for my heroic Kroot to continue shooting his other squads to death. 

I hope this does not come off as rude, but it was strange to see someone be so surprised that his 6 Wolf Guard Terminators could die from 30 Ork Boyz, with Slugga and Choppa, and a Warboss charging. That resulted in 110 Strength 4 Attacks and another 9 Attacks with Power Klaws.  There is not much that can stand up to that.

The rest of the game involved mopping him up. I'm not sure if he was trying to stall, but I definitely felt like a jerk for insisting we get at least 4 turns down as we only had 45 minutes left at the end of turn 2. I think he spent close to a half hour just deploying his Drop Pods and Mordrak squad.

I ended the weekend winning my bracket and going 5-3. I think that's very respectable, especially with a list that was constructed to be good but to also adhere to a theme (Alien Alliance!). I definitely know how I could have made this list better, well there are lots of options but something like dropping the Kroot, Vespid, and Boyz for Nob Bikers would make it a serious contender.

I had a great time at NOVA this year and can't wait to go next.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day. While I still prefer May Day and believe that Labor Day was concocted to help channel worker resentment towards capital in ways that are less destructive towards the evils of capital, I can't but help appreciate it for its modern sentiment.

I find it hilarious, and sad, that Eric Cantor doesn't understand or respect labor. I find it strange that there is traction with the Mitt Romney argument about owning and running a business. Americans, at their core, value labor and respect work. They even know that business only succeeds when workers allow their labor value to be expropriated for profit.

We talk a lot about business and entrepreneurship, but what is most valued is labor. Mitt Romney has run businesses, and in many cases ran them into the ground so he could extract money for himself at the expense of lives, but I doubt he has ever actually worked.

Labor Day has become especially sad because it is increasingly become a day for managers, not laborers. Too many people work for hourly pay, are contractors, or are otherwise unable to celebrate the day and their labor. Labor Day is becoming a day for managers and others, while the actual workers remain at the job creating value for those that are able to take the day off. Of course the bourgeois class celebrates Labor Day when the labor of others creates their wealth.

If you're reading this I hope you take away one thing: there is a fundamental conflict between capital and labor. Capital is fully aware of this conflict and will always attack the power of labor to unionize and stand up for itself, and labor must never allow these attacks to go unanswered.

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