March 28, 2010

I had hoped it would not come to this

First, two links. Please read them fully, including all the comments. If you are not willing to do so, then nothing I have to say will make any sense to you anyway so you might as well skip this post and turn on American Idol.

Sipsey Street Irregulars: Sergeant C, USMC: Oathbreaker

Sipsey Street Irregulars: The latest from "Sergeant C, USMC, Oath Breaker": The accused, having had his ass handed to him, would like amend his screed.

The biggest problem with the Obama administration and the current Congress is that they have buried their heads in the sand. Battle lines are being drawn all around them and they either cannot see it or they refuse to see it. Even Glenn Beck on his March 26, 2010 episode misunderstood the nature of the current environment. This is not the late sixties. We are not dealing with a handful of radical leftist students marching in unarmed columns across their university parade grounds or in the streets outside a political convention. Real Americans who have spent their lives in the outdoors, who handle a .30-06 as easily as they handle a pencil, are ready to take up arms to destroy the duly-elected government of our nation. Why? Because that government has failed in its primary role: representing the will of the people.

Now I don't know who wanted this stupid healthcare reform passed. Apparently the biggest players are unions, people who already have some of the finest health insurance this nation offers. It is both ironic and tragic that the majority of the reviled "cadillac plans" are held by union members, people who under the current bill are exempt from paying the tax being assessed on those plans. I do know that in every Rasmussen poll concerning healthcare published over the past eighteen months, the majority of Americans opposed passage of this bill.

The last time the Federal government went against the will of the people over half a million Americans died from combat, disease, and starvation.

This is what both sides of the angry mob are overlooking. If this comes to violence, it will not be another 1776, nor will it be like any of America's foreign wars, and it most certainly will have nothing in common with Afghanistan and Iraq. It will be 1860 on steroids. When the dust final settles, China will come in and take possession of the ruins.

Tell me, Mr. President, Ms. Speaker of the House, Mr. Majority Leader in the Senate, do you want to see this nation self-destruct beneath the flames of civil war? Because that is where you are taking us. The people who are angry are not a bunch of stoned hippies bored with school and looking for excitement. The Tea Parties, the Oathkeepers, the III Percenters, the IInd Amendment Provocateurs, are not the same as you were back in the sixties. You marginalize and ridicule these people to your own peril. They do not share your sophomoric sense of humor, nor do they appreciate it in the least when you call them "tea baggers".

When I began writing about these issues back in September 2008 the American people were asleep. They were too busy phoning in votes for their favorite Survivor or Idol to bother with politics. This is no longer true. They are wide awake and they are furious. Now we have arrived at a point where it is the administration that is either oblivious to the rising call to arms being sounded in our streets or woefully deluded as to the seriousness of the issue at hand. Or, worse yet, perhaps they honestly believe that the people support their Marxist agenda. In which case, they are hopelessly deluded.

Mr. President, when you sign that bill into law you will be signing your own death warrant. No, this is not a threat. This is a somber warning. I will not be the one who pulls the trigger, I will not even be in the loop of the conspiracy that arranges it, but it will come about. Your Vice President, Joseph Biden, will no doubt respond by attempting to counter "the rising trend toward domestic terrorism". It does not matter how he responds, his incompetence assures that his response will be the trigger that plunges this nation into civil war.

This is the most dangerous moment in the entire history of our nation. I can only see one path ahead of us and it appears there is no way to avoid it. The bill will pass, the President will sign it, sometime after that he will fall to an assassin's bullet, and then finally Biden will overreact and plunge us into civil war. Or, perhaps the assassin will not find his mark. Perhaps the trigger will come the first time the IRS tries to use their fancy new shotguns to collect the "penalty" from millions of Americans who refuse to pay. Either way, the result will be the same.

The one slim hope I have is that November will see the Progressives voted out and the first act of the new Congress will be to repeal the healthcare reform legislation, or at least repeal the most offensive parts of it. That could very well delay or even remove entirely the possibility that all this street-level anger will boil over into violence.

Let me say here and now. If civil war comes, I will not be defending the status quo. I will throw my meager weight in with the Constitutionalists. The problem, Mr. President, is that there are far more defenders of my faith than there are of yours. Even though I know that a civil war will accomplish nothing more than providing China the opportunity to come in and pick up the pieces, if it comes, I will not sit on the sidelines and wait for them.

This is not the Turner Diaries. "Race" has nothing to do with it. The defenders of the Constitution are from all walks of life, from all races and ethnic groups across this great land. They will not sit back and allow the current government to transform their Constitutional Republic into a cheap copy of China, even though that is probably where we will wind up after the dust settles.

I don't understand why this agenda is being pushed so stridently when the only possible result is civil war and the only possible people who will profit from it are the Chinese.

March 22, 2010

Natural law

In 1850 the United States was a peaceful place to live. Some portions of New York had some small, violent gangs, and the Mariposa Indians out in California reacted violently to gold miners abusing their land, and of course, slavery produced problems of its own, but none of that measured up to anything like the America we live in today. The vast majority of Americans went about their daily business unconcerned with anyone or anything beyond their immediate sphere of influence. We were truly free, both as a nation and as a people.

It was nothing like today.

The difference, in my never humble opinion, was that the America of 1850 knew and understood natural law. While I am not a philosopher on the scale of John Locke, I have spent my entire life fascinated with nature. In nature, there are precise rules of organization that no individual species is capable of violating without suffering severe consequences. One thing that city people will never understand, no matter how involved they are in environmentalism, is that nature is completely unforgiving. If you violate one of her laws you will suffer disability or death. There are no exceptions allowed, no excuses accepted.

There are many myths about how the natural world is organized. Most people who subscribe to those myths have never lived intimately entwined with nature. They are city dwellers fascinated with the beauty of the natural world. Tourists in paradise, if you will (but not this paradise: Paradise Lost (Oxford World's Classics), nor this one: The Fountainhead (Centennial Edition Hardcover))

In nature there are three kinds of relationships: exploitative (such as: Hawaii's Humpback Whales), symbiotic (such as: Symbiotic Planet: A New Look At Evolution), and parasitic (such as: Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures). Any fully functioning natural system will have examples of all three relationships existing side by side. Human beings like you and I (if you are reading this then by definition you must be human, there are no real-world exceptions) are part and parcel of the natural order of things.

People who live in cities are divorced from their natural role and are living in a very unnatural way because they are wholly dependent on third-party providers for the food, water, and other resources they need to survive. In nature, the human animal is an intelligent exploiter (we hunt, fish and forage) who has the ability to become a symbiotic contributor (through agriculture, intelligent foraging, or even system creation). The difference between an intelligent exploiter and an instinctive exploiter is that the intelligent exploiter understands their dependence on the system they live in. A squirrel, for example, is an intelligent exploiter. It gathers nuts produced by the system and stores them. In the same way, early humans would hunt or fish and then dry the surplus in order to have food during the winter.

A big advantage we humans have over the squirrel is that we have the ability to rise beyond a merely exploitative relationship with the system that shelters us and become active contributors to that system. We can choose to develop symbiotic relationships with the world around us. In a symbiotic relationship both parties gain something and both parties contribute something. Although in recent years it has become fashionable to discredit them, oxpecker birds enjoy a symbiotic relationship with many different kinds of large mammals. The bird gets a simplified food search while the animal is freed of any number of parasites.

Humans shift from purely exploitative relationships into symbiotic relationships in any number of ways. One of the simplist is by the selection process used during foraging. Northern California natives such as the Wappo, for example, were often referred to as "digger indians" by the European settlers because of the way they used long sticks during their foraging. What those Europeans overlooked was how the Wappo uprooted and discarded unwanted plants while loosening the soil around young plants they favored. By doing this they maintained their natural system, minimizing the presence of invasive and destructive plants such as poison oak while encouraging useful plants such as wild grapes.

Farming is another way humans can shift from a purely exploitative to a symbiotic relationship with their surroundings. Not in the vast, commercial farms needed to feed all those millions of dependent city dwellers in our modern world, but in the smaller farms where an individual or a family gathers seeds of local plants they favor and plants them in the immediate area of their home. By doing this they alter the local environment in a way that can dramatically improve the biodiversity and biomass. In Japan, for example, it was recently discovered that abandoned satoyama-style village sites had dramatically higher populations of poisonous vipers, fewer varieties of birds, and dramatically reduced diversity of insect species than a functioning satoyama. Even worse, although frogs and salamanders were widespread in a functioning satoyama, in the abandoned ones these species were completely non-existent! In other words, the presence of a human village was good for the local ecology!

Parasitic relationships are also natural. However, they are the most destructive of the three and as a result, the number of active parasites in a given eco-system is always a small portion of the total biomass. Leeches, for example, are only able to multiply in slow-moving, stagnant waters that cannot support fish and amphibians. It is only when a lake or river system begins to collapse that leeches appear and grow plentiful. Parasites live a very precarious existence. Generally speaking, they contribute nothing to an ecology. As a result, when the ecosystem is functional and viable, parasites are few in number. When parasites become too numerous, the system collapses and it is only after the parasites die off that the system recovers. Black-tailed deer on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, for example, always exhibit more incidents of tick-infested animals just prior to a population die-off than they do when the deer population is low. Parasites are part and parcel of a dying system, not a healthy one.

What does any of this have to do with anything? Well, in 1850 the majority of Americans lived in rural environments. Among European settlers small-scale farms were abundant while native tribes lived by foraging or hunting. The only place where large-scale agriculture took place was in the slaveholding areas. In those areas, despite a bustling agriculture-based economy, food was routinely imported. Southerners imported beef from Missouri and Texas, grain from Ohio and Illinois.

A decade later the Civil War tore the nation apart. The Southern economy, parasitic in nature with its high dependence on the North and West for basic food supplies and manufactured goods, had been collapsing for some time. Money was concentrated in the non-slaveholding portion of the nation largely because of the parasitic nature of slaveholding as an institution. You see, slavery forced the South to send more and more money out of the area in order to feed themselves and their slaves. The presence of slaves was a constant, fixed economic drain that the Southern plantation owners refused to recognize, blaming the rest of the nation for their problems instead. The violent collapse of this parasitic economy killed over half a million Americans.

Modern America is no different. Our increasing emphasis on city life, city culture, and urban lifestyles has created a lop-sided economy. The parasitic nature of this economy has forced us to shift most of our production capability to Mexico, China, India, and Southeast Asia. We can no longer afford to provide our workers with the financial compensation they need to buy food, get healthcare, and acquire other necessary items. We have become a net importer of everything we consume, including food. Because this is not a natural way for the human animal to live, our cities are infested with narcotics, poverty, violent crime, and pollution. Instead of providing incentives for people to move back into the countryside, we disincentivize such movement through unrealistic and destructive environmental regulation. We should be making it easy for people to move into the countryside, but instead, we trivialize the contributions of farmers, cast aspersions on ranchers, and create labrythine usage regulations that favor a two-inch long fish over thousands of working farm families.

Now, in the first of what threatens to be many regulations that feed the parasites while killing off the producers, yesterday the 111th Congress passed a bill forcing the top 15% of working age adults to pay for the healthcare demanded by the bottom 15% who prefer sitting around getting high. The next item on the agenda is "cap and trade", which forces 85% of the American people to suffer dramatic reductions in their quality of life in order to allow the remaining 15% to continue living in luxury, with the excuse being the overproduction of a harmless gas that encourages plant growth. Some people will call this "fair". What those people are overlooking is how taking the resources of the wealthy in order to bring comfort to the poor helps no one. The poor are encouraged to continue their parasitic lifestyles while the wealthy soon run out of resources, leaving them poor as well!

This is not natural. A progressive agenda favors the growth and expansion of a parasitic lifestyle. Not only is this unnatural and harmful to those trapped in it, the drain on the overall system will be unsustainable. By nature we are intelligent exploiters or symbiotes and not parasites. Natural human societies contribute to the system through expansion of beneficial plants and animals rather than merely exploiting the system until it collapses (which is a self-destructive choice we can make but would be wise to avoid). Instead of healthcare reform or cap and trade, we need to be setting in place systems which will encourage city dwellers to move out into the countryside and set up small, environmentally beneficial agricultural businesses by providing them incentives such as tax breaks, low-interest loans, and easy access to local markets. Despite over two centuries of intense development, there are still massive amounts of land that with careful nurturing could be made to support both food crops for human consumption and dynamic ecosystems with high biodiversity.

In my never humble opinion, the key to America's future lies in the encouragement of small-scale farming of the kind I am trying to build here in Ohio. We still need factories, naturally, along with powerplants and highways. Naturally this means we will still have to have cities with concentrated labor forces and industrial production. We will still need large-scale commercial farms to feed the city dwellers. Healthcare reform such as that passed yesterday, however, does not encourage industry. It encourages people to be lazy, to sit around getting high instead of looking for work in factories and shops or working in their yards to produce food to supplement their family's budget and diet. We need to encourage something more akin to the 19th Century Japanese satoyama than to 19th Century London.

How do we do this?

It starts with reducing the size and reach of the American government. Our government, like any government, is wholly and completely parasitic in nature. Government always is. The larger the parasite becomes, the more likely it is to kill the host. At this point in time the parasite has already surpassed the host in size and consumption; thus, the debt clock, rapidly counting down the days until we implode. Our only hope is to dramatically reduce the size of the parasite by cutting off limbs and apendages and seeing to it they do not regenerate.

Consider the EPA, for example, despite all they accomplished in the first decade of their existence, for the past two decades they have become highly destructive and now we are at the point where places like Angel Island see massive numbers of malnourished deer, places like south Ohio see wild pigs destroying tens of thousands of acres of farmland, and places like the Florida Everglades see more invasive species than native! Ecosystems throughout the United States were better balanced and had higher biodiversity before the EPA started regulating everything under the sun than they have now. What good has the EPA accomplished? Well, Los Angeles has about six smog-free days per year and a dozen or so former mines have been converted to forest. On the other hand, tens of thousands of companies have moved their factories outside the United States in order to avoid expenses related to EPA compliance issues, creating jobs overseas while leaving the American workforce sitting at home getting high.

A century and a half of progressivism has failed us. Sure, the slaves were freed and women gained the right to vote. I would never suggest reversing those two accomplishments. Also, all of our major cities now have better air quality than at any time since the late 19th Century. That was quite an accomplishment, too! But at what cost? The children of those slaves are slaughtering each other in our streets as they seek to control the underground market for marijuana, opiates, and stimulants. Is this what the slaves were freed for? So that their children could kill each other over drug sales? Somehow I don't believe that is the future either the slaves or the abolitionists hoped for.

As recently as the decade following World War Two, black neighborhoods outside the South had high employment, stable families, good schools, and vibrant economies. For everything the Civil Rights movement of the late 1960s achieved, the downside has been bankrupting an entire generation that had already achieved economic and social parity! Why? Because every solution created by the Civil Rights movement has been parasitic. It led to greater, more overbearing government agencies, higher taxes, more complex regulations, and a younger generation convinced that because their ancestors were slaves they themselves should live the life of kings and queens supported by their ancestor's oppressors! This is completely unnatural!

Kings and queens were parasites. It took centuries, but over time their grip on the host was loosened, their power diminished, and now those who remain are little more than pretty figureheads. One of the most powerful tools in destroying their hold on human society was the creation of the United States of America through warfare, consolidation, and the creation of the Constitution of the United States.

We must, it seems, have a parasite. Every natural system has a few. However, natural law is very strict. If the parasite becomes too large, the host dies. The healthcare bill that passed yesterday dramatically increases the size and reach of the parasite. When Pres. Obama signs it into law, he will be insuring the death of the host. This expansion is unsustainable. It has proven unsustainable in Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan, and even in Massachusetts. Natural law dictates that it will be unsustainable for us as well.

Think back on the "digger" tribes of California. They enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with their environment. The satoyama in Japan was the same. In fact, the Japanese system worked so well it survived for over ten thousand years without any major changes! These are perfect examples of natural law in action.

Now ask yourself, what rights and freedoms did those people enjoy? They were free to think and feel whatever they liked. In the satoyama, unlike in the cities and lowlands, the Japanese peasants during the most oppressive periods in history still enjoyed freedom of expression and belief within their community. Neither the Wappo nor the satoyama villages were subject to taxation. The Wappo because they had no central government and the satoyama because they remained outside the reach of the central government. They ate the products of their own labors, and even though they shared their surplus, no one forced them to share through confiscation and redistribution schemes.

Likewise, the Europeans in North America's open frontier lands. Any taxes they paid were collected locally and used locally. No one tried to tell them what to think or how to feel. They were free to speak their mind and did so openly (see: Village Life in America, 1852-1872). Freedom, thanks to small government with limited reach, was part and parcel of everyday life.

Notice something else, they had no "right" to employment (if they did not work, they did not eat!), no "right" to healthcare (even in villages, the shamans and healers charged a fee for their services), and no "right" to the products their neighbors produced. If they wanted to eat pork, they had to hunt for a pig. If they wanted grain or vegetables, they had to either grow them or go out and forage for them. If they needed new clothes they had to make them. When their tools broke, they had to make new ones. This is what natural law is for human life. It is independent, resourceful, and intelligent. Anyone who does not hunt, forage, or farm, starves to death. Remember, nature is completely unforgiving. If you violate natural law, you will suffer the consequences. Creating dependency on a parasitic government through expansion of entitlement programs which allow an individual to live off the production of others is analogous to one vampire bat feeding off another. If two parasites attempt to feed off one another, both of them die.

No human society can survive the violation of natural law. Continuing to encourage the poor to feed off the parasitic government creates an unsustainable condition where two parasites feed off one another while the host they both depend upon slowly dies. That is where we are now. The poor feeds off the government, the government feeds off wealthy people until they are poor, forcing the host to become a parasite.

Natural law allows no exceptions, accepts no excuses. A big government with massive bureaucratics enforcing countless regulations along with entitlement programs like Social Security and Welfare have already disabled us. Healthcare reform of the kind that has just passed will most certainly kill us.

March 20, 2010

Social evolution or moral devolution?

Barring a miracle, tomorrow the 111th Congress of the United States of America will ignore the clearly stated desires of the American people and vote to approve a bill that only 23% of the American people "Strongly Favor". Twice that number "Strongly Oppose" the bill. The last time the American people were subjected to this kind of tyranny King George signed into law a Parlimentary initiative that taxed them for imports of tea and salt while creating high tariffs on tabacco. A few months later General Gage arrived in Boston and demanded the local citizens turn over their firearms to the armory for "safekeeping".

This is a critical moment in American history, a moment that could very easily become the precursor for civil insurrection and the collapse of the United States of America as a unified nation. Thirty-eight states will immediately put forth legal challenges to the Constitutionality of this bill. Many of those challenges will be filed before Pres. Obama even signs it into law.

Are the politicians in Washington D.C. blind to history? Do they not realize that forcing this bill on the American people could wind up costing them their very lives? It will most certainly cost them their careers, but if the legal challenges fail and the next Congress cannot muster the support to repeal the law, then 53% of the American people, over half, will have no other choice. Armed revolt will be the only option left open to them. Is this what the corrupt Republican and Democratic Party machines want to achieve? Is this their goal? Do they really believe that this nation, a nation which fought the bloodiest war of its history over civil rights of an enslaved people, will joyfully embrace this new form of slavery? Are they really that naive?

When I was five years old one of the kids in my kindergarten class decided that since my Dad was a local cop, it was his responsibility to beat me in revenge for his father's imprisonment. Every day he would hit me, kick me, push me into walls and doors, until one day he shoved me into a window, breaking the glass and leaving a cut on my arm. The school expelled him for three days and reported the incident to my father.

Naturally my father confronted me about it. I told him what had been happening. He did not say, "I'll take care of it." Nor did he say, "don't worry about it, the kid is just emotionally disturbed." Nor did he say, "next time he bothers you just report it to the teacher."

My father said to me, "Don't fight unless you have to. If you have to fight, don't lose!"

The kid came back to school the following week. After school, he backed me up against a brick wall and informed me that he would beat me senseless in repayment for his suspension. He swung, I ducked, then I kicked him in the groin with everything I could muster. When he fell, I kicked him in the face and kept kicking him until he begged me to stop.

My family was at Jamestown, both Jamestowns. My family fought on Revolutionary battlefields, some of us died there. We fought with the Union during the Civil War and fought so well that some of us received battlefield commissions. Some of us walked the Trail of Tears. Some of us escorted the Cherokee people. At least one of my ancestors was born of a slave woman, another kept slaves. We built cattle ranches, we founded companies, we lost fortunes in the 1929 market collapse, and lost another fortune on Black Monday in 1987. The history of America is the history of my family. In a very real sense, without my family this country would not be what it is today.

If the President, Speaker Pelosi, and their allies, follow up this insanity with a modern version of General Gage's arrival in Boston, I can promise you this, it will not end well for any of us.

The drive toward socialism began with real determination in 1968 and has continued non-stop right up until today. Granted, the first stirrings came as early as 1880 or so, but the real hardcore drive to transform us into a Marxist utopia began when a generation of spoiled brats refused to fulfill their sacred duty and defend the interests of their nation in Vietnam.

Yes, Nancy Pelosi, I am speaking directly to you. You were raised a spoiled brat and have not improved your sense of responsibility in the past forty years. You have not matured one iota. You are still a thirteen year-old trapped in an aging body who believes unicorns are real and rainbows are the promise of a better tomorrow. You are a child, a spoiled child, whose naivety is destroying the greatest nation the world has ever known, bar none!

Those inner city blacks and illegal Mexican immigrants you are trying to "save" will not serve you. They disdain you. They are laughing at your foolishness. When the real crisis comes, they will not stand up and defend you. They will abandon you like the cowards they are, unable and unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives and equally unwilling to live in accordance with the laws of the land. You are right to fear their wrath, but you have made a fatal mistake: instead of trying to appease them, you should have been seeking the support of people like me, people who have been here from the beginning, people who have shed blood and sacrificed lives in order to build and preserve this nation.

And Pres. Obama, those Middle Eastern criminals hiding behind the Qu'ran that you are so eager to bring into the fold of civilization? They are not your friends. Given an opportunity, they will cut you down without a moment's hesitation. You had best avoid the Middle East. You have abandoned the people who would have protected you.

I fear for America. The coming year will be bloody and violent. I have done everything in my power to rally legal opposition to the final push into Marxism. And I am not alone. Tens of millions of people have spoken out over the past eighteen months in warning, in anger, and in defiance. The administration has swept them aside and now the entire nation will suffer for it.

You could have done great things, Mr. Obama. You had the support of nearly the entire nation and you squandered it on a philosophy that no one outside your immediate circle of friends and associates ascribed to. Instead of strengthening the freedom that made America great, instead of reversing the foundation for tyranny laid by the Bush-Cheney team, you have taken us further down the road to serfdom. You have underestimated the virtue and determination of the American people.

A civil war is coming. The arrogance of Pres. Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid, when piled on top the fascist leanings of Pres. Bush and Vice Pres. Cheney, have made it inevitable.

The storm clouds are gathering. Where and when it will break is the only question that remains. I have no idea what the nation will look like once the storm has passed, but it will never be the same.

March 07, 2010

Yes, I am a Farmville addict

CNN: The Facebook Games that Millions Love (and Hate)
Zynga Games Network, Inc.

A long time ago, the creator of SimCity decided to go rural. He came out with a farming simulation called, "SimFarm". It took awhile to learn, and many of its user interface elements were decidedly counterintuitive, but after a couple of weeks I was able to build a pretty decent farm growing a variety of products including strawberries, corn, wheat, and potatoes. I played SimFarm for a couple years, but then Maxis sold out to Electronic Arts and EA was in no mood to mess around with niche games. The only Maxis product they continued to develop was SimCity. They, in my opinion, destroyed the finest video game ever developed. The last version of SimCity I played was SimCity 2000. It was pure torture!

I also played SimEarth and SimLife. I never saw the attraction of "The Sims", but then I've always been an oddball that way.

So, after much coercion by several key members of my family, I finally signed up for Facebook. Within a couple days I discovered that people I had not heard from in years were posting their daily life on Facebook and as long as I was in their "Friend's" list, I could follow along. In many ways, Facebook is more intimate than living next door!

And then one fateful day somebody sent me an invitation to play a game called, "Farmville". Within a couple days that same person sent me invitations to dozens of games, all based on Macromedia's excellent Flash technology and all playable from inside Facebook. I now play many of these games, but my favorite is still the first one, Farmville.

In many ways Farmville is everything SimFarm should have been but could not be because the technology would not yet allow it. It is so easy to learn that within fifteen minutes a brand new player can master everything the game entails. And yet, in the early stages a fifteen-minute gaming session is far too long and the player quickly runs out of things to do. Many people quit within the first few days because the early stages are so unchallenging that calling it a "game" almost seems like a joke. As time goes on and your farm expands the time element increases as well. Now, at level 27, I have to be careful or a "quick" gaming session can suddenly run into a couple hours!

Much of the game play is tedious, but over the past couple weeks they have added several "Hot Rod" farm implements such as a "Hot Rod Tractor", "Hot Rod Seeder", and "Hot Rod Harvester" that have automated many of the most tedious chores simply by expanding the reach of each game tool. (Not to mention given me some really cool farming implements to show off to my neighbors every time they stop in for a visit!)

The game play is pretty simple. You have "plots" where you use a tractor tool to plow and then a seeder tool to plant seeds. Different plants have different germination times so if you are going to be available you can plant something like Raspberries that mature in a couple hours but produce little experience or gold. If you're not going to be online for awhile you can plant something like Artichokes that take four full days to mature. There are many vegetables and flowers with germination times in between these two extremes and every plant has unique, attractive graphics for three to six stages of maturity from seed to harvest. There are also trees which a player can plant once and then harvest every couple of days for a consistent source of gold, but little or no experience.

As your gold increases you can purchase a variety of things to decorate your farm including houses and barns in many different colors and several styles. Recently they have introduced Chicken Coups and Dairies, making it easy to harvest the production of many different animals with a single mouse click.

Speaking of animals, every holiday they come out with unique, colorful, seasonal animals, trees, crops, and buildings. On my farm in addition to chickens, cows, horses, geese, and ducks, I have a Tiger Cub and a couple "Clumsy Reindeer" with Christmas lights tangled in their antlers! In my chicken coup there are four different kinds of chickens: white, brown, gold, and black. Each produces different eggs with different values. The colored chickens will occasionally produce special "mystery" eggs that when hatched will sometimes produce decorations or unique, collectible items.

The real secret to enjoying Farmville is visiting your "Neighbors". Every Facebook "Friend" who becomes a "Neighbor" dramatically increases your ability to earn experience and gold. By visiting your Neighbor's farms and performing a few simple tasks, you gain extra opportunities for advancement so that the farmers with the most Neighbors also wind up having the largest, most productive farms! Naturally, every time a Neighbor visits your farms and performs a few simple chores, your productivity improves, sometimes dramatically!

Take flowers, for instance. All flowers have a chance to produce a "Perfect Bunch" which you can post to your Facebook profile and share with your friends. If your friends stop in and fertilize your flowers, they produce even more Perfect Bunches, adding to your rewards while providing them the opportunity to decorate their farms with colorful Perfect Bunches retrieved from your profile posts! In this way Farmville, and other Zynga games, encourage and expand opportunities for interpersonal interaction and friendly cooperation. The more you cooperate, the more competitive you become! This makes for a far more enjoyable ingame experience than the endless bouts of sadistic PvP contests most online games use to encourage "player interaction".

Even when games such as Mafia Wars provide an opportunity for "PvP", most of the action takes place offstage. There have been many times when I was playing Mafia Wars when someone "attacked" and I didn't even realize it until I was ready to log off!

Zynga games has hit on a rare and wonderful combination of playability, competitiveness, and interactivity that was impossible to achieve even five years ago. The advent of Facebook as a social networking site with 24/7 interconnectivity among friends as well as dramatic advances in Flash API programming interfaces has made it possible to broadcast game events around the globe instantly while still shielding players from the brutality of hypercompetitive and highly personal interactions such as those that occur in a World of Warcraft battlefield. Flash keeps the interface simple, yet colorful and attractive, while also providing mathematic processing and database organizational tools the likes of which game designers as recently as a decade ago could only dream about. All it took was a design team with the creativity and wherewithal to put the pieces together.

Don't misunderstand me. Creating and marketing these games is still a lot of work and Zynga deserves every bit of the success they have earned. If you watched the interview above and read the article, then you know the road has not been easy. There were many unforeseen obstacles to overcome, but overcome them they have and in doing so, laid a solid foundation for future growth.

Provided Pres. Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi can be prevented from bankrupting the country, then once the economy begins recovering a few years from now Zynga games will be positioned to expand as rapidly as any traditional brick and mortar retailer and far more rapidly than some. Assuming, of course, they can continue coming up with interesting and entertaining ways to make their games more enjoyable without making them overcomplicated.

Yes, I am a Farmville addict and I am loving every minute of it. Nice work, Mark Pincus, you have every reason to be proud of what you have achieved.

March 06, 2010

What is the world turning into?

In Switerland the animals have lawyers and in Maryland the National Institute of Health is recommending a "rational" approach to rationing healthcare.

Hello? Is anybody out there listening? The United States government is bankrupt beyond any possibility of recovery, folks! If China and Saudi Arabia cash in their bonds, we're dead in the water.

Where is the outrage? Where is the indignation? Join your local Tea Party and get involved. Stopping this madness is not enough! We need to reverse a full century of poorly thought out government rules, regulations, and constitutional amendments.

The bills are due and we have no money to pay them, so why does Congress keep passing spending initiatives and why does the president keep signing them into law?