Saturday, June 30, 2012

Prince of Ravens, Obamacare, Boston

Hi, there! Thanks for stopping by. I know it’s been about three weeks or so, but I skipped my June 20th post because we were entertaining my wife’s parents, who were visiting from out of state. We went up to Vancouver to pick them up as they returned from an Alaskan cruise, and then took them over to Victoria BC to spend a few days sightseeing and playing tourist. The unexpected gem of the trip for me was the amazing crossing from Vancouver to Victoria—the ferry route passes through the Gulf Islands, which are essentially the Canadian equivalent of Washington’s San Juan Islands. The scenery is nothing short of spectacular, and we even saw some orcas in one of the channels, although they were a good distance off.

Anyway, in this week’s edition of Atomic Dragon Battleship: Prince of Ravens, health care, and Boston.

Prince of Ravens: On July 3rd, my latest Forgotten Realms novel goes on sale. Prince of Ravens will be available as an ebook at various online stores. Here are a couple of links to the book’s product pages on Amazon and Barnes and Noble:

Prince of Ravens returns to the story of Jack Ravenwild, one of my most well-loved characters. Jack debuted in my 2000 novel City of Ravens; he’s part Gray Mouser, part Cugel the Clever, and part Fletch. He’s ambitious and greedy, but too lazy to try to get ahead though anything resembling hard honest work; the world owes him a life of luxury and comfort, or so Jack feels. He’s always on the lookout for his next big chance, especially if it offers the opportunity to get rich quick, and just can’t say no to the next scheme that presents itself. Of course, it’s Jack’s peculiar misfortune to find himself in the middle of situations where he needs to act like a hero.

In Prince of Ravens, Jack awakes in the Underdark after a hundred years of magical imprisonment. Unfortunately, he wakes up in the power of a drow noble family who now hold the Underdark beneath the city of Ravens Bluff. He has no idea who imprisoned him or why, and the drow of course prove quite capable of seeing through his bluffs, schemes, and deceits. Things have changed in Ravens Bluff, but Jack is soon embroiled in a whole nest of plots and schemes again—the pursuit of a rich noble’s daughter, the return of a dangerous old foe, the mystery of his magical imprisonment, and of course, the threat posed to the city by the drow realm a mile below the streets. Misadventure ensues!

One more thing I’ll add that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned before… if you get a hold of the old City of Ravens, make sure you look for the Easter eggs. There are dozens in the book. Here are just a few:

·        The Dread Delgath, the name Jack adopts when he joins the Wizard Guild, is of course one of the pregenerated PCs appearing in the back of the old modules A1 through A4.

·        Jack shouts “Take that, you fiend!” when he hits his double with a magic missile. TTYF is a spell from the old Tunnels & Trolls game.

·        When Iphegor’s familiar challenges Jack in the necromancer’s library, he says, “Here now, who are you?” – the same line spoken by the troll’s purse in The Hobbit.

·        The Orb of Khundrukar is named after Khundrukar, the dwarven fortress in Forge of Fury.

Anyway, check out the new Prince of Ravens. It’s a good read, with plenty of action and intrigue, and a good dose of humor as well. I hope you like it!

Politics/Current Events: Like just about everybody else in the country, I was eagerly awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. I found Thursday’s verdict disappointing, because I felt pretty sure that the mandate was not constitutional and I think that the law is a big stinking mess of exemptions, influence-peddling, and impossibly unfunded promises. But, that said, I am satisfied that the constitutionality question has been put to rest. The Supreme Court has put Congress on notice that they can’t disguise a tax by calling it a mandate, and that is a reasonable position to take. Everybody on the planet could see that the authors of the legislation were disingenuous in the extreme as they tried to hide the fact that they were passing a tax measure to make the legislation work; I doubt that the ACA would have passed if they’d been honest about that.

It’s also noteworthy that the Roberts opinion firmly upholds the decision on the basis of Congress’s tax authority, not the Commerce Clause. Some conservative commentators have been citing this as a hidden victory in the decision. I feel that they’re looking for the silver lining with that line of reasoning, and I’m not at all convinced that future iterations of the Supreme Court will give the Roberts opinion all that much deference. The Supreme Court has certainly dispensed with precedent before when it’s in one of its more political phases. But this should inform decisions for the next 20 or 30 years, and that’s a good start.

While I think the law is now constitutional enough to stand, it’s still a terrible piece of legislation and desperately needs to be repaired. It’s not going to do a thing to contain health care expenses or “bend the curve” as the President promised. It’s going to add hundreds of billions of dollars of domestic spending to our overstretched budget every year. And it is inherently partisan and unfair, because hundreds of industries and special classifications—most Democrat influence groups—have been singled out for exemptions from its requirements. Passing laws that some people have to abide by and other people don’t isn’t the way to address our national health care challenges.

One final thought about Obamacare: Watch out for the challenge on the HHS contraception and abortion services directive. There’s another day in court coming on this bill, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a different ruling came down from the high court next time.

The Finer Things: Boston, as in the band, not the city. Was there ever a better debut album than Boston’s first record? I had one of those truly excellent parental moments the other day when my daughter Hannah and I were driving up to Fatburger to grab a couple of burgers. “Foreplay/Long Time” came on the radio. Hannah’s 14 now, and of course she’s into various pop music, but every now and then I get a chance to expose her to the classics. Anyway, I pointed out the great little acoustic guitar breaks in “Long Time,” and told her to get ready for a serious dose of awesomeness, right about… now, when that third break hits but it’s the electric guitar, not the acoustic. Hannah just grinned in delight and said, “All right, Dad, that was pretty awesome.” It give me hope for her generation, maybe they’re salvageable still.

1 comment:

  1. We try to go up to Victoria for a weekend during December every few years to soak up the holiday ambiance there. When we do we always take the BC ferry. It's probably even nicer in summer, but it's still enough fun in winter to be part of the festivities.

    Good call on Boston. My oldest is 9 and at the age to think Party Rock is the pinnacle of modern music. Hopefully I will also be able to provide some guidance in the years to come...