Tuesday, December 15, 2015

#Timetodrink: The 5th Republican Debate, even more thoughts, again

I dislike Glenn Greenwald for a number of reasons.  But he is very intelligent when it comes to intelligence issues.  I bring this up because John Kasich rambles on about encrypted data.  "In addition to that, Wolf, there is a big problem. It's called encryption. And the people in San Bernardino were communicating with people who the FBI had been watching. But because their phone was encrypted, because the intelligence officials could not see who they were talking to, it was lost."  Well, this is a fairly good counter to that.

Ted Cruz fundamentally misunderstands ISIS, "that will change when militants across the globe see that when you join ISIS that you are giving up your life, you are signing your death warrant, and we need a president who is focused on defeating every single ISIS terrorist and protecting the homeland, which should be the first priority."  In Osama bin Laden's infamous and oftparaphrased words they "love death more than we love life."  Beyond that, carpetbombing ISIS territory and killing civilians is likely to result in MORE American deaths.  There's an oft-cited belief in ISIS circles that since American bombs are so accurate civilian deaths are intentional and therefore are justified in exacting vengeance.

At least Marco Rubio almost gets it "Well, let me begin by saying that we have to understand who ISIS is. ISIS is a radical Sunni group. They cannot just be defeated through air strikes. Air strikes are a key component of defeating them, but they must be defeated on the ground by a ground force. And that ground force must be primarily made up of Sunni Arabs themselves, Sunni Arabs that reject them ideologically and confront them militarily."

But then he says this:

"The air strikes are important, but we need to have an air force capable of it. And because of the budget cuts we are facing in this country, we are going to be left with the oldest and the smallest Air Force we have ever had." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHA Airplanes were not invented until 1903.

But then he goes back to saying things that make sense

"They are recruiting people, including Americans, to join them, with the promise that they are joining this great apocalyptic movement that is going to defeat the West. We have to show what life is really like in ISIS territory, and we have to show them why ISIS is not invincible, by going out and conducting these attacks and publicizing them to those who they recruit."  Ultimately, this is correct.


#Timetodrink: The 5th Republican Debate, even more thoughts

Made another drink. We have some more time, let's jump to Chris Christie.  "What we need to do, Wolf, is restore those tools that have been taken away by the president and others, restore those tools to the NSA and to our entire surveillance and law enforcement community."  I guess this is trying to restore the NSA and provisions of the PATRIOT Act.  Might want to talk to Rand Paul about that.

John Kasich wants boots on the ground and wanted the Paris conference to be about terrorism.  Kasich missed this memo.

Ted Cruz mentioned radical Islamic terrorists and how the Obama administration won't invoke their name because we live in a Harry Potter novel.  To be fair, it is a step up from reading Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor.

Rand Paul wants more security, more rules, and more scrutiny to those entering the country.  I'm sure he supports the Syrian refugee plan currently in place.

Chris Christie shows that policy is unimportant.  "Listen, I want to talk to the audience at home for a second. If your eyes are glazing over like mine, this is what it's like to be on the floor of the United States Senate. I mean, endless debates about how many angels on the head of a pin from people who've never had to make a consequential decision in an executive position."  The exchange between Rubio, Cruz, and Rand were by fart he best part of the debate so far.  So of course Christie hates it.

Ben Carson is a baby: "First of all, let me just complain a little bit. This is the first time I've spoken and several people have had multiple questions so please try to pay attention to that."  Just so we're clear: the back and forth that previously occurred was between three Senators who had various opinions on certain bills that they voted for or supported.  Carson has not held an elected position in his life so he was not included.  This is Carson's choice.  He decided to run for President after not holding an elected position.

He continues: "We have to get rid of all this PC stuff. And people are worried about if somebody's going to say that I'm Islamophobic or what have you. This is craziness because we are at war. That's why I asked congress, go ahead and declare the war " Again, so did Barack Obama.

From the transcript:

BLITZER: Dr. Carson, who was right in that little debate that we just heard between Senator Rubio and Senator Paul?

CARSON: I think you have to ask them about that. I don't want to get in between them. Let them fight.

So, he has no opinion on the subject.  Alright, so he was complaining just to complain then. 

And then Carly Fiorina is just wrong.  "And yet, we also know that ISIS is recruiting who are not in those databases. So of course, we're going to miss them. And then we now learn that DHS says, "No, we can't check their social media."

For heaven's sakes, every parent in America is checking social media and every employer is as well, but our government can't do it. The bureaucratic procedures are so far behind. Our government has become incompetent, unresponsive, corrupt. And that incompetence, ineptitude, lack of accountability is now dangerous."

Employers don't check social media for a variety of reasons, thank god.  But they also have various blocks set up to determine who can or cannot see your social media activity.  Of course, Carly Fiorina who so arrogantly put it, "comes from the technology world", would already know this but we digress.  Also nearly every parent can be blocked from viewing their child's social media.

To continue her wrongness, "that's why it cost billions of dollars to build an Obama website that failed because the private sector wasn't asked."  First, it was $840 million.  And also the problems were almost all contract work related.  You know the private sector.  

At least, she wasn't proposing something impossible like Donald Trump.  "ISIS is recruiting through the Internet. ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet, and it was our idea. What I wanted to do is I wanted to get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they're doing.

You talk freedom of speech. You talk freedom of anything you want. I don't want them using our Internet to take our young, impressionable youth and watching the media talking about how they're masterminds -- these are masterminds. They shouldn't be using the word "mastermind." These are thugs. These are terrible people in ISIS, not masterminds. And we have to change it from every standpoint. But we should be using our brilliant people, our most brilliant minds to figure a way that ISIS cannot use the Internet. And then on second, we should be able to penetrate the Internet and find out exactly where ISIS is and everything about ISIS. And we can do that if we use our good people."



#Timetodrink: The 5th Republican Debate, more thoughts

Donald Trump talks about how his crazy idea of banning Muslims and Mexicans is about security, "our country is out of control. People are pouring across the southern border. I will build a wall. It will be a great wall. People will not come in unless they come in legally. Drugs will not pour through that wall."  Except, they're not pouring across the southern border.  Pew Research Center found that there was a net of 140,000 people leaving the United States to Mexico since the end of the Great Recession.

This is the rambling of a crazy person: "As far as other people like in the migration, where they're going, tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them? I don't think so, Wolf. They're not coming to this country. And if I'm president and if Obama has brought some to this country, they are leaving. They're going. They're gone."  I don't even know where he is headed with this outside of trying to say that Obama has somehow let in thousands of migrants with ISIS flags on them.

Jeb Bush is the first person that I've seen, admittedly not a big group of people, outside of ISIS or related organizations who concedes that ISIS has a caliphate: "well, first of all, we need to destroy ISIS in the caliphate."

"The refugee issue will be solved if we destroy ISIS there, which means we need to have a no-fly zone, safe zones there for refugees and to build a military force."  The refugee crisis is in large part due to Bashar al Assad and the oppressive Syrian regime and the Syrian civil war.  A no-fly zone is one that Hillary Clinton has proposed.  Safe zones for refugees? I don't even know what that means.

But beyond that he brings up some good points so I will give him that: "We need to arm directly the Kurds. And all of that has to be done in concert with the Arab nations. And if we're going to ban all Muslims, how are we going to get them to be part of a coalition to destroy ISIS?

The Kurds are the greatest fighting force and our strongest allies. They're Muslim. Look, this is not a serious proposal. In fact, it will push the Muslim world, the Arab world away from us at a time when we need to reengage with them to be able to create a strategy to destroy ISIS."

Donald Trump responds to the insult - "Jeb doesn't really believe I'm unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign. It's been a total disaster. Nobody cares. And frankly, I'm the most solid person up here."  Oh for Christ's sakes.  Drink.

"We want to make America great again. And Jeb, in all fairness, he doesn't believe that."  Another drink.  Does Trump actually think that Jeb doesn't want to make America great?

Marco Rubio then talks about confronting ISIS, "this group needs to be confronted with serious proposals. And this is a very significant threat we face. And the president has left us unsafe. He spoke the other night to the American people to reassure us. I wish he hadn't spoken at all. He made things worse. Because what he basically said was we are going to keep doing what we're doing now, and what we are doing now is not working."  He did not offer a serious proposal or how he would differ from the Obama administration but maybe later.  It's a long debate, after all.

Ted Cruz then talks about Syrian refugees.  "And even worse, President Obama and Hillary Clinton are proposing bringing tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to this country when the head of the FBI has told Congress they cannot vet those refugees."  The Obama administration have proposed bringing in at least ten thousand refugees.  Is it really this hard to get the number right?    And then Cruz talks about how the FBI can't vet the refugees.  Again, this is incorrect and misleading.  The FBI Director is saying that he can't 100% guarantee that there is not a no-risk process.

This is directly pandering to the base that Cruz is trying to attract.




#Timetodrink: The 5th Republican debate - opening statements

I have my holiday cocktail ready, that's right I'm a part of the war on Christmas.  Let's read through the transcript of the Republican debate.

Rand Paul, in his opening remarks talked about Donald Trump wanting to close the internet to help stop terrorism.  While Trump's remarks were off base and clearly unfeasible and a sign of a totalitarian regime as Paul correctly notes, Trump's comments about how to combat terrorism is almost partially right.  As we learned in ISIS: The State of Terror, the whack-a-mole approach to shutting down terrorist accounts on Twitter or other social media sites as they pop up do actually detract from their reach and help to stop reaching new followers but it would be unfeasible, illegal, and immoral to shut down the internet for certain regions.

"I think if we want to defeat terrorism, I think if we truly are sincere about defeating terrorism, we need to quit arming the allies of ISIS. If we want to defeat terrorism, the boots on the ground -- the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground," Paul continued.  As much as it pains me to admit, Paul has a point.  King Abdullah of Jordan argues that the only solution to ISIS would be a Muslim solution in which Muslim countries fight off ISIS themselves.  This is actually something that is currently happening.  This is strange, I thought that Republicans would offer something that is new and not at all a part of the current Obama administration plan.

Oh well, at least he's in the debate and won't decide this week whether or not he should continue running for President.

"Just last weekend, just last week, a friend asked one of my daughters, "Do you like politics?" And my daughter said, "No, I don't. And the reason I don't like it is because there's too much fighting, too much yelling. It's so loud, I don't like it." You know, I turned to my friend and I said, "You know, she's really on to something."

And when we think about our country and the big issues that we face in this country; creating jobs, making sure people can keep their jobs, the need for rising wages, whether our children when they graduate from college can find a job, protecting the homeland, destroying ISIS, rebuilding defense. These are all the things that we need to focus on but we'll never get there if we're divided. We'll never get there if republicans and democrats just fight with one another.

Frankly, we are republicans and they're democrats but before all of that, we're Americans. And I believe we need to unify in so many ways to rebuild our country, to strengthen our country, to rebuild our defense, and for America to secure it's place it world; for us, for our children, and for the next generation." I posted the entirety of John Kasich's remarks here, just in case he argues or yells at anyone throughout the debate.

His level-headedness and his commitment to bipartisanship is not necessarily real but the fact that he exists is literally the only reason that journalists continue to believe that there are bipartisan Republicans running for President and office.

Chris Christie garbled about something about safety in Los Angeles which literally has nothing to do with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton but whatevs.  Then he ended on this note, "What is (sic) Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton done to this country? That the most basic responsibility of an administration is to protect the safety and security of the American people. I will tell you this, I'm a former federal prosecutor, I've fought terrorists and won and when we get back in the White House we will fight terrorists and win again and America will be safe."  Chris Christie was appointed as a federal prosecutor on December 7, 2001.  His lone prosecution against terrorists was the Fort Dix attack (that I'm aware of).

Next we have failed HP CEO Carly Fiorina, "Like all of you I'm angry. I'm angry at what's happening to our nation. Citizens, it's time to take our country back.

Bombastic insults wont take it back. Political rhetoric that promises a lot and delivers little, won't take it back. All of our problems can be solved. All of our wounds can be healed by a tested leader who is willing to fight for the character of our nation."

For the record, she says that bombastic insults and political rhetoric that promises a lot and delivers little will not take our country back while saying that we need to take the country back, implying a bombastic insult on Barack Obama.  This is immediately followed by "all of our wounds can be healed by a tested leader who is willing to fight for the character of our nation."  This is not political rhetoric that promises a lot and delivers little.

Oh Christ. Drink.

"I have been tested. I have beaten breast cancer. I have buried a child. I started as a secretary. I fought my way to the top of corporate America while being called every B word in the book. I fought my way into this election and on to this debate stage while all the political insiders and the pundits told, "it couldn't be done."

I don't want to do this. BUT Fiorina was born to a family of a law professor who later became a judge.  Not exactly humble beginnings.  After fighting to the top of corporate America, she failed miserably.  Also, let's not move on from the fact that she talked about the death of her daughter as a political point.

And then to top it off, she "fought [her] way into this election and on to this debate stage."  Well, not exactly.  By her fighting, she stopped polls from being conducted after August 6.  She also fought to make sure CNN would amend the rules.  The new rules allowed anyone in the top 10 from August 7 to September 10.  Oh wait.  CNN did all of this.  Fiorina actually didn't fight for it.  But that ruins the narrative.

Jeb Bush who should be doing better continued with his opening remarks which included "the leading democrat is under investigation. And America is under the gun to lead the free world to protect our civilized way of life."  Meh.  Scott Walker once led the polls and he was under investigation.  Chris Christie is currently under investigation.  Marco Rubio is not under investigation but has a scandal about his credit card.  Jeb, himself, did not release any e-mails about the 2000 election or voter purge.  But you know, it's always about Hillary.

Marco Rubio was next.  "It's really amazing to be back in Las Vegas. I spent six years as a child growing not far from where we stand tonight. I use to sit on the porch of our home and listen to my grandfather tell stories as he smoked one of three daily cigars."  Rubio was Mormon during that time.  This is a fact he doesn't want to share, apparently.  Also, what the hell? Three cigars!? That's insane.

"One of the things my grandfather instilled in me, was that I was really blessed because I was a citizen of the greatest country in the history of our mankind."  No words for this one.

Next is the junior Senator from Texas who has been in the Senate since January of 2013.

"America is at war. Our enemy is not violent extremism. It is not some unnamed malevolent force. It is radical Islamic terrorist. We have a president who is unwilling to utter its name. The men and women on this stage, every one of us, is better prepared to keep this nation safe than is Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton."

The magical words of radical Islamic terrorism.  Do we really think that uttering the phrase will somehow make it better or make the Obama administration better at foreign policy? Or more able to defeat ISIS?  Also, it's kind of weird to blatantly announce we are at war.  You know.  Especially with this in mind.  Also, there is not a possible world where I trust Ben Carson over Hillary Clinton on foreign policy.

"We need a president who understands the first obligation of the commander-in-chief is to keep America safe. If I am elected president, we will hunt down and kill the terrorists. We will utterly destroy ISIS."

You mean like Osama bin Laden?  It's not like Obama has had countless drone strikes killing terrorists all the time, as well.

"We will stop the terrorist attacks before they occur because we will not be prisoners to political correctness. Rather, we will speak the truth. Border security is national security and we will not be admitting jihadists as refugees."  So there is a way to screen refugees?  Or we will just simply not admit them.

Then there's Ben Carson, "please join me for a moment of silence and remembrance of the San Bernardino victims. Thank you."  I'm going to be charitable and assume there was a break in the transcript and the moment was not accurately captured.

Carson also brought up that ISIS is an existential threat to the United States which is probably not true.  Then he just brings up the same thing President Barack Obama already did.  "And I am asking the Congress, which represents the people, to declare a war on ISIS so that we can begin the process of excising that cancer and begin the healing process, and bring peace, prosperity, and safety back to America."

But guys Barack Obama already did this twice, now.

I am skipping Trump's opening statement.




Saturday, November 28, 2015

One more thing

The goals of pro-choice and pro-life people are essentially the same. We both want to limit the amount of abortions that occur. Attacking facilities that provide services to women, blocking contraceptives for women, and the further stigmatization of those who have abortions does not assist in this goal. If you want to limit the number of abortions, the goal should be to limit the number of unwanted pregnancies and to help with adoptions to make them easier, quicker, and cheaper for parents to adopt. You limit unwanted pregnancies by providing contraceptive services for everyone at a reduced rate or for free. Further, more advanced versions of contraception, such as IUD's, should be cheaper for the consumer to be able to get them. IUD's have one of the highest rates of success in preventing someone from being pregnant. Beyond that, they can be removed as needed if she decides to get pregnant later on. Plan B and other emergency contraceptives should be allowed to be sold over the counter without an age requirement or parental consent.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weighing your vote

On November 17, 2015 Representative Michael McCaul introduced HR 4038 American SAFE Act of 2015.  The bill would effectively halt the current Syria refugee program while implementing a new system for background checks for Syrian refugees.  The new program would require background checks conducted by the FBI in addition to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  In addition, the head of the FBI, DHS, and Director of National Intelligence would have to certify that they personally believe that the refugee is not a threat to national security before the refugee is admitted into the United States.  I'm sure that there are nuances in the law that I am missing and someone can happily point them out in the comments and I'll add them to the post, if they feel it is necessary.  The next day, my Congressman, Representative Brad Ashford co-sponsored the bill.  He was the only Democrat who co-sponsored the bill.  When it came up to vote, he joined 46 other Democrats in voting for the bill.

I like Ashford as a candidate and a Congressman.  I have some friends who worked on his campaign.  He was able to unseat the incumbent Republican in 2014 which was pretty impressive.  If I was registered to vote in my current district instead of casting my absentee ballot in California, he would have gotten my vote.  All of that being said, I wasn't surprised that he was a co-sponsor of the bill but I was still disappointed when I found out.  It's not the last straw for me with him, not by a long shot but I know that some progressives in the area have already had their issues with him and this is just another thing on their checklist of why they won't support him as a candidate in 2016.

On Saturday, Louisiana voters decided to elected John Bel Edwards as Governor over Republican Senator David Vitter.  Edwards campaigned his ass off on the scandal surrounding Vitter about hiring prostitutes while he was in Washington, D.C.  He also promised to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid.  This was highly important coming just weeks after Matt Bevin won the gubernatorial election in Kentucky, in part, because he promised to reject the Medicaid expansion in defiance to Steve Beshear.  Some progressives were elated at the idea of Edwards becoming the new Governor of Louisiana because of the expansion of Medicaid.  While others were disappointed because of his opposition to abortion and gun control.

We understand, hopefully, that not all politicians are perfect.  They are not perfectly matched to our desires of what they should be.  You know what, we're not perfect, either.  We hold people to impossible standards and then are disappointed when they don't meet them and we look for ways out.  This is human nature.

All we can do is try to use our voices to make sure that the politicians who disappoint are held accountable.  The problem is that in politics, it is a zero sum game.  With the current duopoly of the political system by the Democratic and Republican Party, a third party vote is the equivalent of a crush on a co-worker when you are in a committed relationship, an idealization that will never actually come to fruition.  If you gin up support for your preferred third party candidate, you end up hurting the chances of someone who agrees with you, let's say 60-~98% of the time.  And in the end, the person that you are voting for in the third-party vote, you only end up agreeing about ~50% of the time, anyway, but it's the damn principle of the thing.

Your other option, which is the preferred option by myself and others, is to vote against the candidate in the primary election.  In an ideal world, you vote for the person who most represents your view in every election.  This means that in the primary election, if you are a progressive, you vote for the most progressive candidate and then in the general election, you continue to vote for the most progressive candidate even if they disagreed with you on a certain issue.  And it sucks.  I understand.  I live in a pretty conservative district, I keep hoping for true progressives to run in the election but it never ends up happening.

Let's take Ashford, for an example.  He voted for the Keystone XL Pipeline.  He's voted for halting the Syrian refugee program.  At what point should I continue to believe that he is the right candidate for me or for any progressive?  Well, if you have these issues in mind and that he is voting contrary to your beliefs, you may look towards his other votes or co-sponsorships of bills.  And hey, maybe, you find something there that you like.  He doesn't support the normal pro-life legislation so there's that to hang your hat on.  Then you remember that any candidate running in this district will support the same bills Ashford does but DOES support the pro-life legislation.  So maybe that's enough for you.  Unfortunately, it's not very exciting.  You would want someone to primary Ashford to cast your vote for the more progressive candidate hoping to get your message across.  But in the end, when he wins the primary, you hold your nose and vote for him in the general.

At what point do you end up not supporting the candidate in the general?  In my opinion, the only time comes when they support the same bills in every meaningful fashion.  In the Ashford example, maybe you're pro-life and all the other things that Ashford is that generic Republican candidate x is.  Maybe they are the exact same person or maybe you just don't agree with the differences that Ashford holds over Republican candidate x.  I guess, it's possible.  At that point, it would be wise to vote for the other candidate.  Vote for the candidate that most closely resembles your views on all facets of policy that you find meaningful.  Policy always trumps personal grudges.

Before we reach the primaries for next year, I'll be unveiling my legislative scorecard for this Congressional session.  I will also be endorsing candidates for the, first time ever.  I'm hoping that this helps in decision-making.  I will be as transparent, as possible.  I will be showing what my policy goals for each arena and where the candidates fall.  I'm hoping that the project doesn't take too much of my time but we'll see.











Monday, November 16, 2015

Hart and Talent

Be prepared for probably at least 10 posts on Gary Hart.

I've been reading All the Truth is Out which is largely about the week that Gary Hart's affair went public and the ramifications of his downfall.  There is perhaps no politician that I identify with more than Gary Hart at a personal level.  Perhaps that is why the book has become somewhat of an obsession for me, along with What it Takes.  He comes off as a self-obsessed asshole who hates himself almost as much as he hates everyone else.  Which, to be fair, he probably is.  And to be fairer, I definitely am.  Beyond that, his tics, his style of speaking, his lack of confidence in himself, his stubborness, his unwillingness to listen to others for advice, all of these things remind me of myself.  I despair, profoundly.

Those on the left hate him because he probably did more to usher in the Democratic Leadership Council than any other person beyond Bill Clinton.  He pissed off labor unions because, I'm guessing, he still held a grudge for the AFL-CIO for endorsing Richard Nixon instead of George McGovern.  You know what? That was a stupid decision for the AFL-CIO and I still think to a degree that Hart was justified in harboring this anger.

Those on the right hate him because he authored reports from 1999-2001 arguing that the biggest threat for the 21st century would be stateless terrorists and then, of course, George W. Bush and his administration ignored the report to little or no consequences.  Then he rejected the notion that the Iraqi war should be supported by Democrats or Americans for that matter.  He argued that this would further destabilize the region and not actually go after the problem of terrorists.  Of course, they're mostly upset that he couldn't keep it in his pants long enough to become the nominee and have this scandal unfold in the middle of the general election.  Of course George H.W. Bush won 1988 pretty handily, so it's mostly water under the bridge now.

I say all this to bring up the point of this post.  Hart talks to Matt Bai, the author of this book, and talks about his despair over losing the Dem nomination.  But moreso, the problem that Hart expressed is that he knew he would be a great President if he could get elected his way.  He failed and in his own words admits in a memo soon after the affair that he despairs profoundly.

Hart relays his greatest despair about not winning the nomination and does it with his traditional style of bringing up theology and is able to hit on the biggest fear that I have and what causes me the greatest anxiety of my life.

To paraphrase Gary Hart and the Bible, we have the parable of the talents.

Jesus tells the story of the master going on a trip. And he gives the three servants talents, a talent being a form of money. And to one he gave ten talents, to one he gave five, and to one he gave one. And he said, ‘You are to be the stewards of these talents. And manage them wisely for me.’ “He comes back from the trip and he asks all of the three servants how they managed the money that he’d given them. The ten-talent man had invested it and made some money. The five-talent man had wisely invested. But the one-talent man was afraid to lose it, and he buried it, and he just had the one talent to give back. And the master condemned him and said, ‘You are not a faithful servant, because you didn’t use your talents wisely.

And to quote Matt Bai and Gary Hart giving words to my fears and anxieties:

“Well, this haunts me,” Hart said, looking directly at me in the darkness, his eyes brimming and red. “Because I think you are given certain talents. And you are judged by how you use those talents. And to the degree I believe in some kind of hereafter or transmigration of the soul, I will be judged by how I did or did not use the talents that I was given. And I don’t think I’ve used them very well.”

And I don't think I have either.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Umbrella Man

Every once in a while, I post that I'm thinking about the lesson of the umbrella man.  I feel like I should explain what the umbrella man is and what I think the lesson is.  Since I am essentially Wikipedia on a couple of subjects, I wanted to add to my collection:

The umbrella man was a man in the infamous Zapruder film and other photographs that were taken during the JFK assassination.  The man was holding an umbrella which he opened as the limousine approached.  He put on kind of a show.  Because it was the JFK assassination, there were conspiracy theories trying to point this man as someone who was signaling when to shoot the President or maybe he was concealing a shooter from view on the film.  The man did not know he was so wanted by the public until an appeal from the House Select Committee on Assassinations initiated a public appeal to find out who this man was.

Instead of signaling for an assassination or to conceal his fellow conspirators, he was doing something much more complicated.  He was protesting the support of Kennedy's father for the great appeaser, Neville Chamberlain.  His argument was that the black umbrella was the trademark fashion accessory of Chamberlain and since Kennedy's thesis was on appeasement, he would get this strange protest.

This protest, if seen, by Kennedy probably never registered.  Instead, we were left for 15 years wondering what this man was doing.

The lesson to me is that people do strange things for strange but almost always their own reasons.  If someone is doing something strange, there is, in all probability, a much more unlikelier explanation of why they are doing what they are doing.  Instead of jumping to conspiracy theories or what we seem to think are crazy explanations, we should try to address the person committing the action for the explanation.  Or we can just stop deciding the reason someone takes a particular action.
 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A faith that matters, part 1

As a sort of introduction to this, my dad asked me to read You Lost Me which is a book trying to examine why those who were raised in the church begin to leave it once they're older.  He asked for my thoughts on it so I'm turning it into a series of bloggies because I'm that selfish.  For those who are unaware, my dad is a pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and is a fantastic one, at that.  Since I suppose that I am going to get analyzed throughout this book, I should try to explain why I left the church.  Unfortunately, for him, I'm really terrible at reading assignments.  

"A faith that matters, a faith that is worth anything real, or anything at all, has to be able to account for Jenny’s story. Her story, after all, is everyone’s story — the details of time and place may differ somewhat, but not the ending. You and me, and everyone we know, we’re all going to die. Hard. A faith that cannot account for this must give way either to despair or denial." - Fred Clark

I was eight years old when I first remember having a fear of death.  I'm sure it probably happened before then but it's the first time that I remember being very afraid of it.  It still brings back a vivid memory today.  I was lying in my bed trying to sleep and my subconscious brought on a type of panic about what would happen if I didn't wake up.  A punishment of eternal darkness and nothingness, where all I had was my dreams.  

I remember my heart beginning to race.

I couldn't catch my breath.

The room began to spin.

I wanted to curl up in my bed but didn't realize, for sure, where I was.

I closed my eyes and my heart was in my ears.  It was deafening, blocking out everything that I could hear around me.

It was for all intents and purposes my first panic attack.  A feeling I would get all too comfortable with later in my life.

I got up from my bed and wanted to go to my parents' bedroom where I would be safe.  I walked as quickly and quietly as I could.  I remember having labored breaths.  The tears were welling up in my eyes when I finally was able to ask my parents to wake up so I could explain why I couldn't sleep.  My parents told me that everything was alright and that I shouldn't fear death because I was going to heaven.  They prayed that I would be calm.  Their faith seemed so sincere.  It seemed so genuine.  It seems that way today.

Their prayer worked.  I fell asleep on the floor of my parents' bedroom minutes later.  I would have this nightmare of death every once in a while.  In fact, I still do.  The only problem is, it takes me hours to fall back asleep.  There's no reassurance that can get me to sleep any earlier.  If my daughter has these same fears, I already know that she won't be falling asleep so quickly.

A non-public faith

"Christianity has traditionally held a high view of vocation. Christians believe that the artisan, tradesman or professional has the opportunity and obligation to glorify God by striving for excellence at his or her craft. The primary duty of a Christian plumber, in other words, is to be a good plumber. And the primary duty of a Christian artist is to be a good artist. This is true whatever one’s calling: doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, online copyeditor. This teaching goes way back — at least to Aristotle (as rechristened and adopted by Aquinas). But a competing understanding has arisen in American evangelical Christianity. From this perspective, the primary duty of every Christian regardless of vocation is evangelism. Everything else is just a means to this end." - Fred Clark

My dad is a pastor within the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).  He is a great pastor, as far as I am concerned.  My eventual doubts at my own faith and my departure from the church probably has broken his heart more than any of my other actions and I still feel a great bit of remorse for it.  My mom also works for the church.  As such, I was raised within the church.  I spent a good deal of my time there.  I volunteered for everything I could.  I participated in every program.  I showed my vast Biblical knowledge off whenever I felt like it.  I enjoyed reading.  Bible studies were just large book clubs.  Church came easy to me.  Faith was extremely difficult.

I had my doubts but knew I couldn't share them or who I would share them with.  My closest friendships within the church were almost always with those who would show up week after week.  If they had doubts, I never heard them.  I'm fairly certain that they wouldn't feel comfortable talking about it with me, if they had.  Perhaps they shared with each other, giving themselves an outlet.  One that I didn't share.

I don't have the greatest grasp of how Christianity has changed in America in the last one hundred years.  It always seemed to me that the role of Christianity in my parents' generation and their parents were slightly different.  When I was growing up, especially in Nashville, going to church or having faith was just something you did.  Where you went to church was almost a part of your introduction as a child, right after the school you went to.  Friends from school were always invited to church if they stayed over on the weekends.  It was a very outward experience.  Instead of a personal experience with God, it was a very public and showy faith.  You were expected if not required by the church to evangelize to your friends and neighbors.  I was never comfortable with this.  Those who know me in real life, know that I am not an outgoing person.  I am introverted, racked with social anxiety, and am full of awkwardness.  I never wanted to have a long conversation with anyone much less what they believed in.  I was afraid that if I tried to convince someone that they need this faith.  That my faith was right.  In truth, I would be a terrible Christian salesmen.


I struggled with my faith everyday.  Yet, I was told that I needed to evangelize and tell people that my faith was correct.  It made me even more uncomfortable.





Monday, September 21, 2015

And the field winnows....

One of the biggest questions as the Republican presidential field swelled to an almost unheard of 17 candidates was how the field would winnow down to one.  In previous primaries, candidates fell out of the race as their support fell but more importantly as their money dried up.  During the 2012 primary, the first one since the disastrous ruling in Citizens United, anti-establishment candidates were propped up by their own personal billionaires.  After yet another ruling weakening campaign finance laws or strengthening free speech (did you see how I presented both sides of the issue?) it was understandable that the question in this election would be how many billionaires would be supporting their personal candidates and for how long.  The idea being that if one billionaire candidate can single-handedly finance a surefire loser like Rick Santorum for months or rescuing the floundering evil genius Newt Gingrich, a candidate in a similar position could withstand low polling numbers, low favorability, campaign mishaps, gaffes, or being a terrible person.  So far two candidates have dropped out.  One was a long shot for the nomination (and prevented the greatest comeback story ever) and the other was seen as the modal champion of many primary models.

Anti-matter errr...Romney

The 2012 primary saw Tim Pawlenty and Thad McCotter drop out in August of 2011.  Herman Cain was really the only challenger who actually suspended his campaign prior to the Iowa caucus.  Rick Perry fell out of favor with Republican voters for wanting undocumented immigrants to have in-state tuition but he made it to Iowa.  Michele Bachmann brought the crazy until Iowa.  It's just had to imagine that Scott Walker is more Pawlenty than Perry in 2012.

Mitt Romney started as the clear favorite for the nomination.  He led almost every major national poll in 2011 until August of 2011.  That's when the rise of Rick Perry happened.  And as quickly as he arose, he faded away (led major national polls for about a month).  He stops showing up in polls in January of 2012   Herman Cain came and went, is that a sexual harassment remark?  Then Gingrich did well for a few weeks.  Santorum led for a few weeks but other than that Romney won start to finish.  I know, I know Romney didn't win every primary but 43/55 is pretty damn good.

Because of his stranglehold on the Republican primary, there was a display of who would be the anti-Romney and who could push the eventual nominee further to the right or further explore issues that backers and supporters wanted Romney to.  Santorum and Gingrich both enjoyed support from financial backers out to displace Romney as the eventual nominee.  Each found their own way of doing so.  Santorum helped push a more evangelical Christian notion on the eventual nominee which was important since many did not feel that Romney was a true Christian.  Gingrich helped flesh out where Romney stood on protecting Israel and his time at Bain which were both important.  Of course this is post hoc rationalization for their runs and their financial support.

The truth is that since Romney was such a favorite for the nomination, financial backers and primary voters were able to coalesce around one or two candidates.  In a field without a true favorite, say if Rick Perry kept his initial gains in August, we would have seen either Santorum or Gingrich drop out sooner.  That is counter-factual history and doesn't teach us much.  But it may not be best to compare 2012 to 2016 on the main basis that 2012 had Romney and 2016 hasn't allowed us to have a true front-runner who everyone is trying to unseat.  Except, maybe Trump.

The Trump effect

Once you get past the racism and the bombastic idiocy, Donald Trump is unlike any other candidate that we have seen since at least since the modern primary system has been implemented.  Trump is a self-financed candidate that doesn't seem to have a limit to how much he will be willing to spend to secure the nomination.  This wouldn't appear to be a problem for Scott Walker and his Unintimidated Super PAC.  His Super PAC had raised more than $20 million.  On the Republican side of the primary, this is the second most raised.  His Super PAC lagged only behind Jeb Bush's Right to Rise Super PAC which has raised over $100 million.  Rick Perry, the other candidate who had to drop out raised a cool ten million dollars for his Super PAC, which was called Opportunity for Freedom.

Contrary to popular belief, outside money is well ahead of where it was at a comparable point in the 2012 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  All this money is currently laying in wait, as they have stockpiled 94% of the money that they have raised and have not touched it yet.  So what are they waiting for?

It's important to note that I am in no way saying that these Super PACs are coordinating with the candidate as that would be a violation of campaign finance law.  When I say it's a candidate's Super PAC what I mean is that the Super PAC is primarily responsible for donating money to that candidate.

The spending has greatly increased since the 2012 cycle in terms of total dollars spent but how much of is it is dedicated to trying to get their candidate to the front of the news.  Or more importantly, how much of it has been spent trying to get their candidate into the top 10 in polling, in order to show up to the primetime debates.  This is the easiest way for free media.

What Trump has shown an ability so far is to get free publicity.  Because of his bombastic egocentric style with a heavy dose of racism, he has surged to the top of the polls.  From his perch, he has been able to command attention from Fox News and rightwing news sites (if you believe Buzzfeed, it's in part because of a financial stake that he has in Breitbart).  Beyond that, he has engaged in Twitter fights and commanded the most attention during the debates.  All of this allows him to save money for ad buys later and gives the desired affect of media attention.  This media attention is getting him around the traditional method of gaining popularity from elected officials.

What happens next

Scott Walker was able to convince the Ricketts family to give his Super PAC millions and just won the Koch Brothers (ahh scary, I'm a progressive blogger) straw poll.  Why didn't this translate over to convincing voters and why did he suspend his campaign?  Why does Rick Perry continue to lose relevance in September?  I feel terrible for asking these questions that I'm trying to answer.

Rick Perry isn't quite the candidate that backers would like to support.  Perry's wide stance at the first debate should disqualify him for everything but yet he sucks people in.  His ability to govern Texas was legitimately impressive.  His performance at debates and general policy know-how was lacking. His supposed appeal to the South, evangelical Christians, and business leaders should make him a shoe-in for nomination.  His lack of policy chops and choice in glasses prove that he wasn't ready for prime-time.  His pro-immigrant stance is obviously not going to play well with voters seeing as how they turned up for Trump.  His endorsement would not carry any weight and would not help seeing as he is from the very red Texas.  Despite my consistent belief that Perry should be a presidential contender, he just isn't.

Walker should have been a contender.  He had the background.  He was from a purple state.  He was a governor.  He crushed unions.  He talked about how crushing the unions being a moral imperative.  He was fairly sufficiently anti-immigrant.  He had a weird Ronald Reagan obsession.  He really should have been contender.  Unfortunately, much like Perry he just seemed ill-prepared for the national spotlight.  He seemed stiff and lacked enthusiasm.  I can't believe I just typed that.  Let's move on.

A primary is how you push a political party to the direction that you would like them to go.  If you want the Republican primary to move more to the right on a certain issue or on all issues, you vote for the candidate who is more conservative.  For some reason, Democrats have a hard time with this concept although it's been used on the right for 50+ years.

More unfortunately for Walker, he doesn't seem to move the needle on where the Republican Party is going to stand.  There's already an anti-immigrant white guy there (Donald Trump).  There's already a Governor who won a purple state (Jeb and Kasich).  There's already someone who may appeal to independent voters (Rubio).  There's already a guy who is sufficiently anti-labor (oh wait, that's all of them except maybe Trump).  There's already a guy begging for cash (see the previous statement).  There's already someone who appeals to the TEA Party (Cruz and Trump).  As we go through it, we see where Walker could conceivably fit in.  He appeals to a bunch of different groups in the Republican Party.  But the problem is he just isn't the best with any of those categories.

If a Republican doesn't win 2016, Walker still has a shot.  I'll also still be rooting for the Rick Perry comeback at that point.  But for 2016, go with the smart money.  A Ronald Reagan hologram.








Friday, September 4, 2015

Top 50 boardgames (plus one)

My girlfriend and I play way too many board games in our spare time.  It is probably our favorite thing to do with each other, as we both really enjoy them.  At any rate, as we play through the games we try to list the ones that worked for us and ranked the games to include a top 50 (plus one because I forgot a game while I was editing this list because I'm not very bright).  Like my previous list, this only includes games that I feel like I can explain without having to look up the rules.  So, again, sorry Settlers of Catan, I don't play you.  The list is geared towards playing with two players as Amanda and I typically play with each other the most.  The games are also focused on strategy games as opposed to party games.  The links for the reviews are included (if I managed to write one) with the game description and a quick blurb of why it should be higher/lower.  If you don't see your favorite game on here it's either a) I haven't played it or b) it's Agricola and I am terrible at it and really dislike the game.

Rankings like this are entirely subjective and clearly are biased towards easy to learn games with simplistic mechanics.

Games just missed, in no particular order: Vinhos, Rialto, Hey, that's my fish!, Machi Koro, Camel Up, Eight Minute Empire, Pandemic, Sushi Go

Games that missed due to only playing a few times: Concordia, Cuba, Jambo, and Race for the Galaxy (which is debatable for the reason why it is not listed below)

51. Steam Park
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 30-45 minutes
Complexity: Medium
Style: Dice rolling/dice manipulation/set collecting
Why it should be ranked higher: It's good old-fashioned fun.  Your turns are taken at the same time and you try to roll the dice quicker than your opponent to be able to build your amusement park.  The rides are fun to look at and it's just a silly little game with more strategy than you think.
Why it should be ranked lower: It just isn't played that often, for whatever reason.  I suspect Amanda doesn't like it as much as I do.  My least favorite aspect of the game is the random aspect of the bonus cards which affects the game negatively, in my opinion.  The game doesn't play as well with two players as I would suspect it would play with more players.


50. Ascension
Number of players: 2-4
Time: ~30 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style: Deckbuilding
Why it should be ranked higher: The game is a little bit different than the other deckbuilding games.  You can spend your runes to get better cards in your hand.  To win the game, you have to get honor points by defeating monsters.  Some of the cards you acquire can be used to get more cards or defeat monsters (similar to Legendary, all the way up there).  There are cards that stay in play for the bulk of the game (moreso than in Dominion or DC Deckbuilding Game) which can allow you to plan your turn and strategize.
Why it should be ranked lower: It's a lot harder to sustain long combinations to build up your strength to defeat multiple monsters.  This is kind of a nerdy complaint but one of the best parts of Dominion is sustaining a long turn and then being able to purchase multiple victory cards.  The game is easy enough to play and teach, although, comparatively Legendary does a lot of the same concepts much better and much easier to teach.

49. Ice Cream
Number of players: 2-5
Time: 15-25 minutes
Complexity: Low
Style: Set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: It's a very similar game to Coloretto, which I love.  Your goal is to be able to sell the most ice cream.  It gives you a little bit more strategy than you'd first think as you have to balance the different ice cream flavors that you want to open/use this round as opposed to saving it for next round.
Why it should be ranked lower: Despite initial similarities to Coloretto, trying to entice your opponent to take a different ice cream cone is much different.  Opponents can only take the ice cream cone if they have all of the flavored scoops or have all of them except one.  Being able to grab new ice cream flavors ruins the strategy for placing the ice cream scoops for the most part.

48. Love Letter
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 10-30 minutes
Complexity: Low
Style: Deduction/hand management
Why it should be ranked higher: It's ranked #112 by the community at Board Game Geek.  It's a simple game and easy to teach. We taught this game to an eight year old and he seemed to enjoy it. You choose one of two cards to play on your turn.  There are a few other rules but your goal is to end up with the highest numbered card.  It's a great game for determining who will go first in a game.  The game is usually around $10 on Amazon and is on sale all the time.
Why it should be ranked lower: The game drags on for what it is, if you play to completion.  The game can go on for a while completing round after round.  Additionally, there's very little strategy, which makes it seem even longer.

47. Hanabi
Number of players: 2-4
Complexity: Low
Time: 15 minutes
Style of game: Co-operative/hand management/set collection/memory
Why it should be ranked higher: Unique game in that you can either give one piece of information to another player about a card in their hand or play a card from your hand.  Easy to teach, easy to play, and encourages teamwork (which some might find overrated).
Why it should be ranked lower: We don't really like co-operative games.  Amanda and I are too competitive with each other to be able to play them consistently.  Also, Amanda has a terrible memory so when we play, I have to remind her what she knows and which cards she has any information on.

46. Blueprints:
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 20-30 minutes
Complexity: Medium
Style of game: Dice rolling/set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: Interesting mechanic in how to build your building.  You can focus on a number of different areas in each round to try to maximize your points.  For instance, do you want to build a tower to try to get the tower bonus or do you want to try to complete your building to score more points and achieve the blueprint achievement card?  These different choices allow the game to flow smoothly and removing the die allow you to mess with your opponent.
Why it should be ranked lower: Amanda doesn't seem to like it.  In a certain sense you are victims of the dice roll and even your well thought out turn can come to a screeching halt if the dice that you need at the end of the round just isn't there.  There's not a lot of mitigation to the luck of the dice roll which can be frustrating.

45. Pagoda
Number of players: 2
Time: 20-30 minutes
Complexity: Medium
Style of game: Hand management
Why it should be ranked higher: The game offers more strategy than what you would think, at first glance.  You can manipulate how you are able to build your pagodas by looking at your opponent's face up cards and wisely using your bonuses.  It's a fairly quick game to play and learn.  We learned how to play and played the game for the first time in less than 45 minutes.
Why it should be ranked lower: I'm not very good at this game and I'm a sore loser.  More seriously, while it offers more strategy than I first thought there's not a lot I can do to help mitigate luck if you are unable to get the cards you need to complete.

44. Colt Express
Number of players: 2-6
Time: 20-30 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Hand management/programmed action
Why it should be ranked higher: Only game I've played with this mechanic/style and it's a lot of fun.  You plan your actions by playing cards in the scheming phase.  During the stealing phase, the cards are played and actions are carried out in the order of the cards being played.  Each of the different characters provide special abilities.  Also, there's 3D train models and desert themed landscape to place near the trains, so there's that.
Why it should be ranked lower: It doesn't play the greatest with 2 players as Amanda and I found out.  I probably overrate games that I think are plain fun with limited strategy (like Camel Up last time) and move the game down the rankings after subsequent plays.

43. Morels
Number of players: 2
Time: 20 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Hand management/set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: We do enjoy games that are specifically designed for 2 players.  The game is easy to learn, teach, and play with just the right amount of strategy.  you do need to be able to manage your hand to keep your cards underneath the hand limit and maximize your points.  It also taught us a new phrase to say when things aren't going well, "oh, honey fungus."  It's a small board game so it wouldnt take up much room if we decided to brig it somewhere else to play.
Why it should be ranked lower: When we first got this game, we really enjoyed playing but the fun and strategy has worn off a bit.  Even with the foraging sticks allowing you to go after the cards you really want, we still have yet to complete a set of Morels to score points.

42. Ticket to Ride: The Card Game
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 30 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Hand management/set collection/memory
Why it should be ranked higher: The game is just the right amount of aggressiveness for two players.  You are able to block your opponent from placing the cards in their railroad.  There is enough luck mitigation with that and being able to grab more destinations to make up for any problems that happen by not being able to get the rail cars that you need.  The cards are easy to shuffle which is nice for set up.
Why it should be ranked lower: It's basically a giant memory game, in terms of trying to remember if you have enough cards in your railroad to be able to complete all of the routes that you have taken.   So, it's not really great for when we are playing and drinking on the weekends.  Plus, as previously mentioned Amanda doesn't have the greatest memory.  The game could probably be too aggressive with more than 2 players.

41. Asante
Number of players: 2
Time: 15-30 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Set collection/hand management
Why it should be ranked higher: Our first couple of plays of this game did not go so well.  Luckily, with more plays we were able to get through more of the cards in the game and were able to develop better strategies.  At first, we thought that we were victims of luck and didn't know what was going on.  If the first couple of plays don't go so well, hang in there, it gets better.  Maintaining your actions and using the bonus cards allow for a deeper gameplay than we initially thought.  Being able to draw more cards by getting an artifact is a great way to a) get more cards and b) get rid of the luck factor.
Why it should be ranked lower: Despite getting through more of the cards, there are a number of cards that we've never seen.  Despite efforts to try to make it less luckbased, a lot is still determined bywhich cards you end up with in your hand (if you're unable to get an artifact which allows you to draw more cards).  The game imposes limits in the number of actions you can take, cards you can draw on a given turn, and wares you can hold.  These limits can feel stifling at times.

40. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
Number of players: 2
Time: 30 minutes
Complexity: Medium-high
Style of game: Worker placement
Why it should be ranked higher: Like its parent game, Agricola, this game is heavy on strategy and allows for almost no luck.  It's easier to learn and play than its parent game which should make it be played more.  In the expansion, there is an insemination center so that always cracks me up because I am a child.  Like all worker placement games, there are a number of ways to block your opponent from being able to build different buildings or claiming the animals that they need. Unlike its parent game, I don't have to feed my family which is good because I'm terrible at it, in the game.  
Why it should be ranked lower: I'm not the biggest fan of worker placement games. Despite being a quickish game to play heavy in strategy, we almost never play.  Maybe it is the fact that I have bad memories of Agricola that I have a hard time suggesting that we play this game.  Also, I lose this game almost every time.  Maybe I really am a sore loser. .

39. DC Deckbuilding Game
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 30 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Deckbuilding
Why it should be ranked higher: It's fun and easy to teach.  There's no real management for your cards, in terms of limiting the amount of cards you can play or any silly rule about entombing cards to score victory points at the end of the game.  In addition, the superheroes chosen at the beginning of the game, change the game's strategy completely and match thematically.  For instance, Batman, gains power for each equipment card played or Superman gains a power for each different superpower played.
Why it should be ranked lower: I'm more of a Marvel fan, myself.  To build your deck, you recruit heroes, villains, supervillains, and equipment which some people say it ruins the theme.  There's a little interaction between the players.  Only the supervillains have an attack or any real effect on the game when they are flipped over.  The other villains don't, necessarily, attack another player.

38. Splendor
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 30 minuts
Complexity: Medium
Style of game: Set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: Truth be told, I used to really like this game.  I thought it was going to be in my top 10.  It's very simple, you can either take gems that you later trade for cards, take a card from the card area, or play a card either from your hand or your card area.  There is one page of rules.  We've taught multiple people very new to games how to play this game and they really enjoyed it, so it can be done.  This is Elsie's favorite game.  She likes to play with the poker chips with the gems on them.  She really likes diamonds.
Why it should be ranked lower: Despite my initial love for this game, afte rwe've played it a few times the level of enthusiasm has significantly waned unlike many of the other games on this list.  I also thought that the game played better with more than two people, which we rarely play.

37. Cappuccino
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 15 minutes
Complexity: Very low
Style of game: Area control
Why it should be ranked higher It's an incredibly simple game, taking about 20 minutes in all to learn how to play the game, set up the game, and play it.  It used to be one of our favorite short games to play because of how simple it is.  Also, it's fun to stack the cups with cute designs on the bottom of the cups.
Why it should be ranked lower: It takes longer to setup than to play.

36. Trains
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 45 minutes
Complexity: Medium
Style of game: Deckbuilding/routebuilding
Why it should be ranked higher: Dominion + Ticket to Ride? Sounds like a great game.  It is really good.  Unlike Dominion, you are able to purchase as many cards as you can afford instead of being limited by the number of buys that you have.  Your routes that you build end up scoring you more points than your actual deck which makes it a bit more interesting.  The balance of what routes to build, when, and where while maintaining a deck presents lots of interesting choices.  Despite some of the complexities of the game, it is easy to teach. Like all deckbuilding games, there is a fairly low luck factor.
Why it should be ranked lower: It's kind of a pain to set up.  The box isn't as well put together as the Dominion box which slows the time that we have to play the game.  With the other deckbuilding games in our collection, this one often gets overlooked.  Unlike Dominion and other deckbuilding games, it is hard to thin your deck which is especially important given the number of waste cards you possess by the end.

35. Mr. Jack
Number of players: 2
Time: 20 minutes
Complexity: Medium-high (very low in terms of learning how to play)
Style of game: Deduction/grid movement
Why it should be ranked higher: There's no luck involved.  One player is Jack the Ripper and the other is the inspector trying to catch Jack.  Each player can control a total of two of the four character cards flipped over in the round.  Each move is designed to try to stop Jack from escaping, if you're the inspector, or escaping, if you're Jack.  It's incredibly simple to teach and learn how to play but is heavy in strategy.
Why it should be ranked lower: This game is extremely stressful.  Like Chess, every movement has a lot of significance which can lead to analysis paralysis.  We usually play two games back to back allowing each of us to be Jack for one game.  Unfortunately, by the end of the two games, our brains are fried.  

34. Targi
Number of players: 2
Time: 45-60 minutes
Complexity: Medium-high
Style of game: Worker placement/set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: There's a little luck involved in the game with the different tribes or goods that will show in the card grid.  The different tiles that you place your meeple on allow for different actions to help mitigate the luck.  It's a much more complex version of Stone Age or other gateway worker placement games and can be had for fairly cheap.  If you're cramped for space, Targi does not take up much room.
Why it should be ranked lower: I'm going to sound like a broken record by the end of this, I'm not a big fan of worker placement games.  So why do I play them?  Amanda likes them a lot more than I do and she is way better than I am at them.  The game takes a lot longer than we think so we don't have as much time as we would think to play other games if we decide to play this one.  Also, the cards that you collect for your tribes and goods intersect in a grid which I have a hard time deciphering or figuring out which cards I'll get.

33. Jaipur
Number of players: 2
Time: 15-20 minutes
Complexity: Low
Style of game: Set collection/hand management
Why it should be ranked higher: It's one of the first two player only games that we owned and is still a lot of fun.  It's a quick, easy, and fun game with a surprising amount of depth.  Even in a low complexity game, there's not a whole lot of luck and mainly is dependent on your ability to balance selling your wares for high bonus tiles or collect wares that are more valuable but rarer.  You're also able to mess with your opponent's strategy.
Why it should be ranked lower: The bearded man tile seems kind of racist.

32. Zooloretto
31. Railways of the World

30. Takenoko
Number of players:2-4
Time: 30-45 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Dice rolling/action based turns/tile placement
Why it should be ranked higher: Probably the cutest game that we own.  A panda bear is prominently involved and part of your goal in the game is to feed the panda.  I don't mean that as a euphemism.  There's quite a bit of strategy involved in the game in terms of what actions you should take each turn.  The end of the game is also strategic, in that you want to end the game at the mos topportune moment for you to win the game.
Why it should be ranked lower: I'm a sore loser.  The objective cards that determine who wins the game are largely luck based and can be completed as soon as you draw the card which means that you might not have been the one to complete the objective (in the case of the bamboo tile placement).

29. Village
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 45-60 minutes
Complexity: Medium-high
Style of game: Worker placement
Why it should be ranked higher: There is no luck involved, it is just pure strategy.  Unfortunately for me, I'm not very good at the game.  We've played the game twice and have developed completely different strategies which is fun.  It would take a lot of plays to completely exhaust the strategies of the game which should make it rank much, much higher.  Using time as the most precious resource in the game is something that I really enjoy.
Why it should be ranked lower: This is basically a less intense/complex version of Agricola which I didn't rank in this top 50.  While it's not a straight worker placement game, it follows a lot of the same mechanics and/or style of game.

28. Thebes: The Tomb Raiders
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 30 minutes
Complexity: Medium
Style of game: Set collection/hand management
Why it should rank higher: I really enjoy the mechanic where the person last on the time track will go first.  This allows whoever is behind on the time track to plan multiple turns in a row without being interfered with by the other player.  The other ways the game handles luck mitigation is also very goo, whether it is a card that allows you to look through a tomb or the thief allowing you take a card from an excavation stack.  The balancing of when you should excavate versus gaining knowledge adds a nice balance to the game.
Why it should be ranked lower: I've only played the game with two players which allows you to play with the maximum amount of excavation cards per player.  With more players, you would have less excavations to play with making the balance to excavate not as great.  The other issue is that the cards are so small that they're hard to shuffle which is annoying for a card based game.

27. Lost Cities: The Board Game
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 30-45 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Set collection/hand management
Why it should be ranked higher: A little more complex version of Lost Cities, which is one of my favorite games.  It's a very easy game to play and learn which definitely helps its ranking here.  There is an added element of strategy to the game as you are trying to move your explorers to maximize the number of points you get.  If you're able to move your multiplier explorer, you can score a lot more points but you also need to collect artifacts to score at the end of the game so there is a nice balance to the game.
Why it should be ranked lower: While it does add a layer of complexity to the game, a lot of what is added is luck.  In the two player game, 30 cars are taken out of the deck at random which makes the game a lot different.  The other issue is that you can only score a multiplier on one fo the colors that you choose to explore instead of as many as you want with Lost Cities.

26. Bruges
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 45 minutes
Complexity: Medium
Style of game: Dice rolling/hand management
Why it should rank higher: While it is a pretty simple game to learn, there are a lot of different actions that can be taken and a lot to think about each turn.  Additionally, each of the cards are used for different actions being used as action markers.  You do need to decid when you would like to build a house to be able play more cards, when to build a gondola, or when to take more workers.  You also need to be able to plan several turns in advance to play your cards properly.  As we become more familiar with the cards, we can strategize more.
Why it should rank lower: With a two player game, you end up taking out a lot of the cards preventing you from getting too familiar with the cards.  I really like Stefan Feld games so I could be overrating this game.

25. Ticket to Ride
Number of players: 2-5
Time: 45-60 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Route-building/hand management/set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: It's the best gateway game out there.  We've taught a few people how to play this game who weren't into game and at least two of them really loved it (the other being my parents who didn't like it near as much).  It's an easy game to learn with very simple mechanics.  You're able to mess with your opponent's strategy and prevent them from completing their routes.  This can be really frustrating and I think could potentially ruin more friendships than Monopoly could, given the same number of people playing the game.
Why it should be ranked lower: The US map, which is the base game, does not play the greatest with two players.  It is considerably more fun with more than two players.  The cards that come in the base game are very small and nearly impossible to shuffle.  That's incredibly frustrating to have to buy an expansion to get normal sized cards.  The expansion includes more routes which makes it totally worth it, but still.

24. Rum and Pirates
Number of players: 2-5
Time: 30-45 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Meeple placement/action based turns
Why it should be ranked higher: It's an easy game to learn as most of the game is based off of learning what each of the tiles on the board represent.  Additionally, it's a fun theme since it's pirate themed.  There are ways to mitigate the luck involved in the game and there's a significant amount of strategy that I don't think we've scratched the surface of, just yet.
Why it should be ranked lower: It reminds me of the game Tokaido for some reason.  Maybe it's that each tile on the board allows for very specific actions.  I like Tokaido much better and should probably not overrate this game.  Additionally, I may overrate Stefan Feld games as I like his designs more than most people. While it plays alright with 2 players, I think it would play better with more players.  There's more than my share of luck involved with the various pub tiles or having to draw the tiles from the board game box.

23. Valley of the Kings
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 30 minutes
Complexity: Medium
Style of game: Deckbuilding/set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: I love deckbuilding games.  The game is quick and easy to learn but allows for a lot of decision.  Each person has to weigh a lot of decisions during each turn.  Do you want to entomb a card removing it from the game, should you use the action text on the card, or use them for currency to get new cards?  It is a challenging game to master.  It helps that I win this game a lot of the times that we play.
Why it should be ranked lower: I love deckbuilding games which may mean I overrate deckbuilding games.  For some reason, we don't play this game as many times as I would like for some reason.  There's only one of each card in the deck which may make the game excessively confrontational if someone is hellbent on destroying cards.

22. Puerto Rico
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 45-60 minutes
Complexity: Medium-high
Style of game:Role selection
Why it should be ranked higher: The game is a classic.  It was considered the best board game on Board Game Geek for a long time.  It's rated as the #5 board game of all time so take my ranking with a grain of salt.   Despite my categorization as a medium-high complexity game, it's not that difficult to teach and doesn't last too long.
Why it should be ranked lower: There are a couple of favored strategies that will allow you to win almost every game.  If you're playing with more people, you can potentially counter it.  I'm not going to ruin it for you.  The two player variant that Amanda and I play is fun but is not listed in the official rules and took us some time to find.  Additionally, the spawn of this game, San Juan, has the same theme and concept is much more enjoyable to both Amanda and I.

21. Star Realms
Number of players: 2
Time: ~10 minutes
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Deckbuilding
Why it should be ranked higher: Unique deckbuilding where you attack the other player to reduce their health points to zero.  There are four different factions that allow you to build bigger combinations to attack your opponent with greater force.  It's a quick game, easy to teach, and full of strategy.  The different bases in the game allow you to protect yourself and can be used to help build different combinations.  The base game costs about $10-15 which is a really good price for a game that is this good.
Why it should be ranked lower: With the random cards being turned over for purchase in the card row (the mechanic used by almost all non-Dominion deckbuilding games) are heavily luck influenced as the cards in the card row are replaced immediately.  The only real other issue is that the theme is in space which is not really appealing to Amanda which makes us less likely to play.
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20. Stone Age
Number of players: 2-4
Time: 45 minutes
Complexity: Medium
Style of game: Worker placement/dice rolling
Why it should be ranked higher: It is the definitive worker placement game, especially for gateway gamers.  Beyond that, each turn gives you a number of different options for where you can place your worker to help maximize your points at the end of the game.  Do you need resources, food, or do you need another member of your tribe?  The set collection aspect with the cards gives you even more strategy, as there are some cards that will score more points (exponential points) or cards that score as multipliers to other factors such as your strength or your harvest points.  These multipliers also may determine your strategy for placing your workers throughout the game.  Despite the amount of strategy in the game, it is very easy to teach/learn.
Why it should be ranked lower: All my talk about mitigating luck in board games applies here.  I have rolled my dice trying to get the resources I need to get the card I need and to build my hut and falling just a few numbers short.  While there is the strength to help with that, I still fell short which is incredibly frustrating.  Amanda doesn't like this game as much as I do so it doesn't get played as often as it should.  Also, I'm not the biggest fan of worker placement games.

19. Cartagena
Number of players: 2-5
Complexity: Low
Time: 15-20 minutes
Style of game: Racing/hand management/meeple placement
Why it should be ranked higher:It's a really easy game to learn and to play. The mechanic to catch up requires a lot of strategy and a lot of thought to plan out your move for something that is so easy to learn how to play.  The best part is that you're never really out of the game if you can successfully plan out your turn.  It's pirate themed so that's a plus.
Why it should be ranked lower: We've mainly played this game two players which is not as much fun with 2 players compared to playing with 3 or more players.  There is a two player variant out there that we haven't tried, yet, we'll try it.  I tend to overrate racing games.

18. Tokaido
Number of players: 2-5
Complexity: Low-medium
Style of game: Point-to-point movement/set collection/racing/meeple placement
Why it should be ranked higher: The game is really easy to learn as it is just memorizing what each of the tiles may do.  It's an easy game to learn but a difficult one to master.  I do like different games that allow for each action scors you different points.  I also enjoy the mechanic involved in this game where the person in last goes first.  This allows for more strategy in planning your turns so that you can really maximize your points.
Why it should be ranked lower:  While some disagree, we do not think that the game works that well with two players and need more players to really shine.  With more than two players, though, it has become one of our favorite games.  There is some luck element to the game but we haven't run into it, as of yet, where you might not be able to get the souvenir cards or encounter cards.

17. Seasons
Number of players: 2-4
Complexity: Medium
Time: 30-45 minutes
Style of game: Card drafting/hand management/dice rolling
Why it should be ranked higher: There's a quite a bit of strategy in this game.  From the very beginning with the card drafting, you have to constantly be thinking about turns much later in this game.  While there is quite a bit of luck involved with the dice rolls, you can help mitigate the luck with your card play.  There's not a clear strategy to win every time which makes the game more interesting.
Why it should be ranked lower: This is the game I forgot to rank making this a top 51 instead of a top 50 list.  Amanda doesn't seem to like this game that much, I imagine it's because there's not that many cards to choose from to play throughout the whole game.

16. Patchwork
Number of players: 2
Complexity: Medium
Time: 30 minutes
Style of game: Tile placement
Why it should be ranked higher: It's a two player only game which makes the game seem more competitive.  It's an interesting concept where you place the different patches of the quilt on your individual game board.  You have to balance the time element, how many buttons you'll receive later, and how it will fit on your board which make sit full of interesting choices.  This game operates with a similar feel to Tokaido or Thebes where the player in last on the time track gets to go.
Why it should be ranked lower We've only played the game a few times so I'm a bit worried that the game will get a little stale with more plays.  I'm also terrible with spatial games such as this or Blokus which makes it less enjoyable to me.

15. Coloretto
Number of players: 2-5
Complexity: Low
Time: 10 minutes
Style of game: Set collection
Why it should be ranked higher:You have two choices on your turn so it goes pretty quick.  This is the easiest game we have to teach.  We've taught more people to play this game than any other game, probably combined.  Even so, there's a lot of strategy in this simple game.  Making the card rows more tempting for an opponent to take to maximize your points is a little bit of a skill.  Plus it's a silly little game.  The cost of the game is around $10 but there's a lot of game there.
Why it should be ranked lower: The game doesn't play that well with two players.  There is a way to play with two players, limiting the amount of card rows and cards in the card row but it just doesn't work, as well.  Some people may complain that it's too easy/simplistic.  I don't believe it's colorblind friendly.

14. La Isla
Number of players: 2-4
Complexity: Medium
Time: 30-45 minutes
Style of game: Hand management/meeple placement/set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: There are dodo birds involved; how many games involve dodo birds?  Each turn you determine how you would like to play the cards that you receive, they can do one of three things.  You can also choose to place your meeple during that phase of the round or take a resource of your choice.  In order to collect the animal tokens, you need to control various areas of the game board.  It's just the right amount of decision making to make you feel like you can actually plan your turn.
Why it should be ranked lower: There is quite a bit of luck involved as you may not be able to get the resources you need to for several turns to take the animal tokens that you have set your meeple to take on the game board.  Also, one of the extinct animals is a moth which we think is a mosquito.  Another Stefan Feld game, so probably overrated by me.

13. San Juan
Number of players: 2-4
Complexity: Medium
Time: 30 minutes
Style of game: Hand management/tableau building/role selection
Why it should be ranked higher: After we got this game, we learned how to play this game quickly and played immediately.  It is one of our most played game.  It's a great tableau builder to teach you how to play these style of games.  This is a better version of Puerto Rico, in our opinion.  On your turn, you take a role to select which action can be used during that turn.  The role you select gives you a bonus.  You can build various buildings to help you earn victory points.  There's a lot of choices each turn in terms of which role you want, what actions to take, or which buildings you want to build.  To learn and play the game with this amount of depth, it took 45 minutes.
Why it should be ranked lower: According to BoardGameGeek, there is a way to break this game but we haven't found it, yet.  The only reason I don't like this game is because I'm not very good at it.

12. Bora Bora
Number of players: 2-4
Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 45-60 minutes
Style of game: Set collection, dice placement/worker placement
Why it should be ranked higher:IT's a very strategic game with almost all of the luck from the dice rolsl being mitigated.  There's a lot of thinking and planning involved in each turn which only consists of three actions.  You have to plan wisely and be able to count out your turns for the whole game to be able to win.  Also, you score points for nearly every action (which can be a con for some people) but is something that I really like, as it forces me to try to maximize my points.
Why it should be ranked lower: The version that we got, the Alea version, does not have any spare pieces which puts a tremendous amount of pressure on us to not lose any pieces.  It's a chore to set up and clean up, meaning it just adds a lot of time to an already fairly long game.  Also, the game ha s a limited amount of rounds which makes the game fairly stressful.

11. Through the Ages
Number of players: 2-4
Complexity: High
Time: 90 minutes/per player
Style of game: Hand management/civilization building/card drafting
Why it should be ranked higher: This is probably the best game that we have in terms of strategy.  It's incredibly challenging and there's no luck involved.  It's also the most rewarding game that we own.  It reminds me of my favorite computer games (because I'm a nerd) and follows very nicely.  If you want to know more of my thoughts on this game, click on the link above.
Why it should be ranked lower: Time.  We don't have three hours to play a game.

10. Kingdom Builder
Number of players: 2-4
Complexity: Medium
Time: 30 minutes
Style of game: Area control/route building
Why it should be ranked higher: The most misunderstood game that we've played.  In fact, I misunderstood the game the first couple of times that I played.  You play the card from your hand and place your settlements.  You try to set yourself up the best way possible for the next turn and the turn after.  It's an easy game to teach but fairly difficult to master.  The different terrain tiles that you have in the original game allow for a different game each time you play so the same strategy won't work each turn.  The different objective cards change it up quite a bit, as well.
Why it should be ranked lower: It's misunderstood a bit in the gaming community and after the first time you play you may think that there wasn't a whole lot to the game.
9. Rivals for Catan

8. 7 Wonders
Number of players: 2-7
Complexity: Medium
Time: 30 minutes
Style of game: Card drafting/tableau building/set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: The game offers quite a bit of strategy in terms of maximizing your resources with building wonders or building buildings for later in the game.  The simultaneous play allows the game to go quickly so that there is no downtime while waiting for another player to finally choose their card.
Why it should be ranked lower: Card drafting games like this and Sushi Go don't typically work with 2 players.  The game works the best with 3 or more players (ideally 4 or more).  In addition, the game has a lot of symbols on the cards that might confuse new players who are learning how to play.

7. Lewis and Clark: The Expedition
Number of players:1-5
Complexity: High
Style of game: Deckbuilding/worker placement/racing/hand management
Time: 45-60 minutes
Why it should be ranked higher: It combines a number of different mechanics to make a really fun and rewarding game.  Each turn you are presented with a number of options that can seem a little overwhelming at first.  Because it's a racing game, you can keep track of your progress in real time as opposed to secret victory point totals at the end.  The different cards can be used for a number of different things which is always a good way of using cards.  The balancing act each turn makes each turn incredibly stressful but fun.
Why it should be ranked lower: It's a brain burner.  At the end of the game, I am mentally exhausted.  Also, Bartholomew Hunt is not involved in the game.

6. Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game
Number of players: 1-5
Complexity: Medium
Style of game: Deckbuilding
Time: 30-45 minutes
Why it should be ranked higher: It's my second favorite deckbuilding (my favorite style of game) game behind Dominion which is my favorite game.  I'm a Marvel fan.  It allows for a semi-cooperative mechanic that allows you to potentially work with your fellow players to defeat the mastermind.  Each of the cards give different actions either coins to recruit more heroes or strength points to defeat villains or the mastermind.  Recruiting heroes builds your deck and allows for various combinations.  Beside Dominion, this game allows for the best combinations in a deckbuilding game.
Why it should be ranked lower: This is going to sound pretty nerdy but the game doesn't allow the easiest way to thin your deck to build the most efficient deck to defeat the mastermind.  Technically, the only way to win the game is to defeat the mastermind which you and/or your other players can do.

5. Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Number of players: 1-4
Complexity: Medium
Time: 30-45 minutes
Style of game: Tile placement/set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: The master builder mechanic gives the master builder quite a bit of strategy to setting the tiles under the various costs.  This can be tricky as you want to get money to purchase more tiles but don't want to give them any tiles that they really want or need.  Building the various castles provides a bit more fun than Suburbia as you can talk about the rooms that you are building and compare the problems with having say a torture room next to a bottomless pit.  Scoring points in this game is easier than in Suburbia and doesn't negatively affect you as it does in the very similar Suburbia game. The bonus cards also are a bit more diverse and are only there for most of, or most square footage of a room, or having all of a room type, etc. as opposed to having the least of a certain tile.
Why it should be ranked lower: Basically the game is Suburbia with the added twist of having a master builder who gets the coins from each player, as opposed to the bank.  It also takes a while for the game to be set up and taken down.

4. Suburbia
Number of players: 1-4
Complexity: Medium
Time: 45 minutes
Style of game: Tile placement
Why it should be ranked higher: More complex than Lost Cities.  There's less luck involved in this game and you have more of a chance to screw over your opponent.  The city that you build actually becomes kind of a story to talk about during the game.  The scoring track discourages someone from getting too big of a lead in the game early as they will be negatively impacted later for their income and their reputation.  It's brilliant how it discourages behavior to score too many points before your city is properly built.  The tiles really flow together, as well.
Why it should be ranked lower: The goals that are assigned for the public can contradict what you have as a private goal.  For instance, the public goal could be most blue tiles and your private goal may be to have the least amount.  This impacts the total amount of points you may be able to score.  This is somewhat negated by drawing multiple private goals and choosing to keep one of the private goal tiles.  It bothers me still.  The game is a little long to setup and need quite a bit of room to play.

3. Lost Cities
Number of players: 2
Complexity: Low
Time: 15-30 minutes
Style of game: Hand management/press your luck/set collection
Why it should be ranked higher: It's one of the easiest games to learn that we own.  It's the best two player only game that we have found, so far.  Despite being so easy to learn and how to play, there is quite a bit of depth to consider.  You have to be able to determine when you want to start your expedition and what cards you need to collect or discard.  The game can be pretty confrontational while you watch your opponent struggle for getting their expedition to 20.
Why it should be ranked lower: The theme is entirely lacking (if that's something you look for in a game).  There is quite a bit of luck in what cards you end up, unfortunately, but by playing your cards right you can mitigate most of the luck.

2. Castles of Burgundy
Number of players: 2-4
Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 45-60 minutes
Style of game: Dice manipulation/set collection/tile placement
Why it should be ranked higher: It is a more complex game than Dominion and requires more strategy than Dominion.  The game also requires dice rolling which also makes games more fun.  The various tiles that you place on your play area all have different powers and can trigger different actions.  So you want to make sure you think through your turn and plan out turns ahead of time which is something you can do in this game compared to Dominion.
Why it should be ranked lower: The game is best with two players, in my opinion.  In theory, it would work fine with more than two players; however, with people who are not as familiar with this game can take a long time for the game to go on.  I lose this game a lot unless I've been drinking heavily.  It encourages me to drink more which seems unhealthy.

1. Dominion
Number of players: 2-4
Complexity: Medium
Time: 45 minutes
Style of game: Deckbuilding
Why it's #1: I love the mechanics of deckbuilding.  The very basic deckbuiling in Dominion is what got hooked me on board games in the first place.  Having your own deck that you build from the very beginning is very appealing, as well.  Every game of Dominion is going to be different because of the cards that are selected as the action cards.  Because of this, your strategy is going to be different each game.  I love that.  There are different ways to counteract whatever strategy your opponent is trying to pursue.  There is not any one card that will guarantee you victory.  We have played this game more times than I can count and not just because I can't count very high.  This is our go-to game when we can't decide on what we want to play.  At $30 for the base game, I can't recommend it more highly.
Why it should be lower: Deckbuilding games are not for everyone.  You buy cards so you can buy more cards so you can buy more cards.  Some people just don't like the concept.  In addition, the strict rules of five cards in your hand, one action, and one buy can make people feel stifled in their turns.  Some of the cards might be annoying to some people.  We rarely play with some of the cards as we think it changes the game too much and not for the better, such as the Gardens card which gives extra victory points for every 10 cards in your deck at the end of the game.  This makes the decks too large and drags the game.  The only other issue is that it can be fairly hard to trim your deck or trash unwanted cards, depending on the action cards you select at the beginning of the game.