The Trickster's Hand

Somewhere between a Royal-Flush and an Ace High

Author: Trick Dempsey (Page 1 of 6)

The Kind Man’s Legacy

This morning, I awoke to discover that my friend, Nels, had died. His wife posted on his Facebook page to inform his friends, coworkers, and loved ones that he had died unexpectedly from an illness. Just the day before, he’d been replying to friends with his usual wry, kind humor.

Now, I cannot even ask him if he considered me a friend. I cannot ask him anything. Ever.

Let me tell you a second-hand Nels story.

After a rough day at work, Nels and some of the fellas walk to the local burger joint - right by the beach - and order some burgers. Nels, being vegan, orders the vegan veggie burger. Minutes later, the waitress returns and the gang descends upon their food. Nels takes a bite, swallows, and exclaims - joyously - "My God, this is the best thing I’ve ever had."

The waitress freezes and turns. Her face is a mask of horror. She says: "Oh! I'm so sorry, I gave you the wrong order!"

Nels, who already knew that, does not miss a beat: "Why did you tell me!" He gestures wildly, slowly-but-with-grand-passion. "I could have lived in ignorance of this joy for my whole life, but you ruined it!"

He laughed. Everyone laughed. When his order - the real order - finally came back from the kitchen, he devoured it merrily. He tipped well.

He brought joy to people, that’s what Nels did. He brought joy to his wife and his children. He brought joy to his friends and coworkers. He brought joy to countless players that never gave his craftsmanship a second thought.

He touched millions of lives, and most of them will never know it.

Maybe you enjoyed the recent Doom’s multiplayer. Maybe Defiance had you firing on all synapses. Maybe you just loved Everquest and Everquest 2. Maybe you hated all of those things, but you remember them.

Nels was a man who worked quietly, never seized credit, and filled any conversation with a combination of kindness and mischief. He was the sort of man that any gathering would be thankful for. He would never stand at the center, but he would be the heart.

I wish we took more time to be thankful for people like Nels. I remember when Red Dead Redemption “failed to meet financial expectations”, and people very like Nels were sent packing by men who would buy a second Porsche to go with their second house later that week. I remember, weeks after laying off the actual Nels, the man who made that decision showed me his new Tesla at his big condo in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Silicon Valley.

This morning, I read that my friend got sick “probably of the flu”. My friend was not the sort to get rich, any riches he had came from his frugality. Frugality dictates that you don’t see a doctor for a run-of-the-mill flu.

This morning, I read that my friend died.

I am filled with both sadness and fury. I wish I could be filled with the joy that was his friendship.

Be like Nels. Be good. Be mischievous. Be kind.

Tip well. It may save someone’s life.

My Emigration

Keeping a promise to Shaun King

“If you want to know what you would have been doing during the civil rights movement, look at what you did yesterday.” — Shaun King

“Well, Mr. King, I would have been a coward.” I tell him. “I can’t bear to keep my family in this country, and we’re moving to Sweden. What can I do from 5000 miles away to help the people here?”

“I understand, and I can’t blame you,” he replies. “You can do one thing. You can tell people why you’re leaving. You can make them understand.”

“I will.”

Well, Mr. King, it’s time for me to make good on my promise.

It’s time to go.

An American Emigrant

With the imminent return of Pre-existing Condition clauses to American health insurance, there is no way for either my wife or me to reliably seek out medical care. I was treated for an ailment in childhood — human growth hormone deficiency — which disqualifies me from insurance-covered treatment. Though it is not listed on, for example, Blue Cross’s pre-existing condition list, it did manage to prevent me from being covered for a flu treatment prior to the passage of the ACA. I found that although I was covered on paper by my employer-provided health insurance, every treatment or doctor’s visit had to be paid out of pocket as every single claim would be denied as having resulted from a “pre-existing condition.”

These humans are making America’s health care decisions.

Similarly, my wife — under the current regime’s health care law — will face the same fate. Blue Cross and other providers hold “being female” as a pre-existing condition. The rest of her medical history doesn’t really matter in that context.

In the end, neither of us will be able to afford medical care in the United States. That’s a shame, really, since we are both entrepreneurs. We must now shut down her consulting business and our plans for starting a small game studio. We could have employed people and provided those people with economic prosperity.

Instead, we’re leaving. You should leave, too.

For later discussion: This graph is also about slavery.

American Slavery

My concerns seem petty when I recount them to Shaun King. He sees the brutality visited on Americans of color every single day. Were someone to break into his house, he and his family will be on their own. Calling the police would only put him, his wife, and their five children in greater danger when uniformed thugs barge in to put their firearms training to good use.

It shows great privilege that I even have the option of leaving. Though, I’m sure he could leave, too. But he’s no coward.

This man owned people.

Our nation was built on slavery. As Americans, we fight a constant battle against that vile foundation and attempt to build a land of opportunity with freedom and justice for all. However, there are many traditionalists who seek to bring back the dread institution, and though bringing it back in the form of chattel slavery is just a dream to them, they do hold out hope to make a practical return to their forefathers’ glory.

The American medical insurance system is nothing but an attempt to bring the institution of slavery back. Skyrocketing prices and networks of debt collectors hope that money will bind where shackles are forbidden. The desire for medical care is what economists call an “inelastic demand”: when you need it, you must seek it at any price. And, I hope this does not come as news to you, everyone needs it some day.

That’s the trap. You can’t predict when you’ll need it, but you must know — with absolute certainty — that you will one day need medical care. When that day comes, you need to have some way to pay.

For most Americans, that means working for a large company with a lavish insurance plan. Small companies won’t do, they can’t afford good enough plans. Start-ups won’t do either: they can rarely afford insurance at all. Every American must seek out coverage from a large, established employer.

Do this… or die.

However, for the Republican party, this method has proven too soft. Too slow. Their hunger for cheap labor is insatiable. This system still allows employees to negotiate and to make demands. No, they need something which binds American workers faster.

This is why Republican legislators are so dead set on passing their twin laws:

  1. Re-enable after-market discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
  2. Prevent women from deciding when and if they have children

By allowing pre-existing condition discrimination, insurance companies become capable of springing massive fees on people who will have no expectation of facing them. People covered by insurance — insurance which promises to cover their medical costs — will not store up nest-eggs to prepare for massive medical fees. Then, when a large claim comes along, insurance providers can simply deny them and immediately sell their clients’ debts to collectors.

This business plan is incredibly lucrative.

This man raped people he owned.

Should some American decide just to tough it up and never go see a doctor, that’s no problem at all! They’ll just have a kid! They won’t have a choice in the matter. That is the sole purpose of the Republican battle against reproductive choice: make absolutely certain that Americans produce little hostages for insurance companies to leverage.

You will have a child. That child will get sick — all children do — then you will seek out treatment or Child Protective Services will take them away when the police lock you up.

You will have children. Those children will be your chains.

As Americans, we are faced with three options: We can fight against the party of slavery. We can serve them and hope that they are kind masters. Or we can run.

I, for one, am running. I can’t be proud, but I can be free.

The Year of Risky Living

Bidding Farewell to 2016

The First Post-Fact Election

American Elections have always existed in a Post-Fact World

What is love? Father, don’t hurt me.

Yesterday, my father joined a chorus of voices from across the nation to tell me that I cannot have access to healthcare, who of my friends…

Randall, the Demon, and the Devil’s Coat

Randall and I sat beneath the yellow-stained lights as shadows of moths flickered past us. In the distance, we could see our friends…

“Why is everyone so fuckable?”

Love your characters as a fan loves them.

There is no magic bullet

We can’t Star Trek our way out of this one

The Masks of Brilliance

How to enslave a population: convince them that their forced labor is voluntary

Where did you find your hero?

Throw a rock at the fantasy aisle of a bookstore, who’s on the cover?

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