Proud to be in Texas

by guest blogger Ken

Today was just another reaffirmation of why I’m happy to live in Texas. We woke to snow on the ground, and by evening I had the top down on the bug on my way to the polling place.

Thanks to Texas’ open voting, I don’t have to register for any party to vote in the primaries and I get to vote for whichever candidate I feel is best. Since this was the last likely chance to vote for my candidate of choice, Ron Paul (as I’m a Constitutional libertarian), I hustled over to the Republican polling site here in Addison. There was only one young pretty lady there, and not a whole lot of folks to speak of in any event. The entire time I was filling out the rest of the ballot, the poor site warden had to keep repeating to people showing up that the Democrat primary was over at the other Addison fire house. I dropped my ballot in the scanner, and noted that there was just shy of 200 total ballots. Walking out I noticed that most of the young folks who were showing up were quickly leaving to head to the other primary. I decided to cruise over to see what it looked like over there. Dang if there weren’t some 200 people just at that particular moment in time, with more obviously on the way. Lots of lovely young ladies as well, and if I were in to deceit and fraud I would just have to show up later to see if I could take advantage of any fervor.

Overall I’m not terribly pleased with the media-vetted candidates, but were I forced to choose from the media-vetted, and Ron Paul hasn’t sprung onto the ballot in some other capacity, then I would honestly have to go with Barack Obama. This would be more out of a sense of least-distaste rather than enthusiastic support, as I disagree with most of the Democratic platform in its search for social solutions. As disgusted as I am with the existing power structure, and if the media decides that I have to vote for Clinton or McCain, then I would have to register my contempt and opprobrium by voting for Ralph Nader (or a better 3rd-party candidate, hopefully). I am sick of what the people in charge are doing to my nation, and as far as I’m concerned, Clinton and McCain are flip sides of the same coin, which currency I’ve found to be valueless. I want a different coin.

In other sad news, I do mourn the passing of Gary Gygax. D&D is what I started out with back in the late 70s, though once I discovered Runequest and Traveller I was all over those instead, usually as gamemaster. D&D was the one that successfully transitioned to PCs, so I’ve worked my way through most of the dungeons that have come down the pike. ‘King of Dragon Pass’ was a pretty darn interesting Runequest adaptation, but my real preference has been for the ‘Civ’-type games like Alpha Centauri or Outpost or that one with the Antares thingee. I’d often set Outpost for a Moon-type setting to work with, which was much harder than the Mars-type planet. I worked through Moon Tycoon pretty quickly since the economics engine was so easy.

My real wish is for a Lego computer game set on the Moon. Asteroid showers pelt the Lunar surface and the Legonaut has to put the machines back together like in the Lego Star Wars game. Take a Moonbuggy tour through a crater race. Work to build garden and habitat and work and oxygen-extraction modules as pieces become available. Make it where the robots have to mine a certain amount of regolith to make a particular brick. Bury clear bricks as ‘water’ in the everdark craters at the poles. Build really tall Lunar-gravity towers to collect Solar energy. Use the old Lunar Lander engine to run a sequence where Legonauts pilot Lego spacecraft down to the Lunar base. Don’t land too hard, or you’ll have to rebuild your ship before you can leave. Have Legonauts that run out of O2 turn to Earth and open their faceplates (fade to black – next try!). Prospect for gold brick meteor fragments to strike it rich. Manufacture basic Solar Power Satellite elements for export. Have bad guys trying to take over through sabotage and thuggery. (they have much better techniques these days, but we probably don’t want to expose the kiddos to them just yet)

Build specialized machines that tunnel into the Lunar surface to create underground space and uncover who knows what. Build a mass driver to deliver SPS payloads to EML1 and GEO. Build a Lunar railway to connect with other bases. Build a radio telescope dish on the far side. Lay out a power grid. Then the wire comes in: Flash! Moonbase to provide basic parts of Mars-bound craft! Everyone gets to work making the needed pieces and sending them up to EML1. Finally the big day comes, and the Legonauts at Moonbase watch the Mars bound craft leave across the sky on its adventure farther out in space.

Which is the basis for the next game, though since I don’t find Mars as interesting as the Moon so I think the subsequent game should be Mars & Asteroids (which I find almost as interesting as the Moon, and much moreso than Mars). Face it, with the whole bio-freakout thing there’s not likely to be much development for a while on Mars other than a small scientific outpost. Now working on carving up an asteroid, or even setting up shop inside one, would be much cooler, especially in a Lego context.

That’s the legacy of Gary Gygax. A Gen X banker/spaceketeer who can sit around at his computer thinking up really cool Lego computer role-playing games that would simulate likely things we’ll do on the Moon. And millions of other average folk of Gens X & Y, the Slackers and Millenials, weaned on things like Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books (“Moon Quest” out in June!), computer programming, and rich imagination.

P.S. Since my vacation just got approved I get to be down in Houston for the first couple of days of the Lunar & Planetary Science Conference next week. I won’t be live-blogging, but I will have an update.

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2 Responses to Proud to be in Texas

  1. Jon Goff says:

    I didn’t realize you were into Traveller…Ironically enough that game is a big part of why I ended up going into engineering. And it looks like we’re on the same page politically too. We’ve got more in common than I thought. 🙂

    Too bad you probably can’t make it out to Space Access in Phoenix this month–I’ll be chairing a panel on propellant depots. Would’ve been nice to meet you in person finally.


  2. murphydyne says:

    Sorry, Jon, not this year. The unexpected trip upstate chewed up a chunk of my time off, so I can’t even do the full LPSC. Maybe next.

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