I am sitting with my wife basking in the afterglow of Jamala’s Eurovision win. Here are a few thoughts:

Once again, Crimean Tatars are pushed onto the spotlight. This time, it’s for winning Europe’s biggest contest outside of sports. Something positive and affirming after a couple of years of getting the bad end of things. It’s a good feeling.

The timing couldn’t have been better.  This week, a dentist at my site was arrested for being an extremist. He isn’t,  but he did go on Haj last year. That made him a target. Wednesday (the 18th) is the anniversary of the Surgun.  That’s the event Jamala’s song was about–the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars from their homeland at the end of WWII. Since the annexation, Russians have worked to prohibit memorial events. This is probably why there were arrests this week…as a threat. But Europe and Australia just trumped their plan to keep the event unremembered this year.

Because Russia will see this as an act of aggression against them (because everything is an act of aggression against them), things will likely get worse in Crimea for my friends and family. Everyone is prepared. Still, everyone gets to savor the victory tonight.

Congratulations, Jamala.

Stranger of Sword City

Have you been waiting for a dungeon crawler in the vein of Etrian Oddyssey or classics like Wizardry for the Xbox One? Your day is coming soon! NIS is bringing Stranger of Sword City to Microsoft’s console! I was fortunate to be selected to receive a preview copy and will be sharing my thoughts with you over the next several weeks.

My initial impressions are positive. The game features English-subtitled Japanese language dialogue. It’s a slight disappointment, but given the financials involved, not a surprise. Past that, it seems like the budget went into art design. The game features two sets of artwork you can hot-swap between, one with a more lighthearted design and the other with a bit more of a serious vibe. There is automapping as you’d expect, and the dungeon designs are nice. There is a fun feel that everything is a dungeon inside another dungeon.

I will be playing on Twitch over the next couple of weeks so everyone can get a sense of the game for themselves. For now, I am enjoying it and I hope you will enjoy exploring the game with me!

Donnie and Bernie Are the Best and Worst

After Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, I wondered what the heck is going on in New Hampshire. Do those guys really think either of these two could lead the United States? Trump is a blowhard–the sort of person we made fun of when I was a child and forever immortalized by Pee Wee Herman’s “I meant to do that.” Can Trump the Perfect actually get Congress to do anything when everyone finds out the emperor has no clothes? When I think of a potential Sanders presidency, all I can think of is how much trouble slightly right-of-center President Obama had with Congress. Can Sanders’ left-of-center ideas go anywhere without executive orders strengthening the presidency at the expense of the Congress? In these respects, I can’t imagine two worse candidates for how our country is supposed to work.

At the same time, they represent exactly the same thing: the long taken-for-granted people in their respective parties. The Democrats have moved only to the right since Carter. They created blue dogs who eventually just gave out and turned red. The Republican’s famous Southern Strategy relied on using race as a wedge–bringing in white people at the bottom end of the economic spectrum (who had historically voted for Democrats) and using them to beef up the top end’s candidates. Both parties ignored ever-growing constituencies on either side of the center.

I have been waiting since G.W. Bush for the Republicans to splinter. His wars…his economic policies…his social policies…none of these made everyone happy in his party. Remember his plan to “save” Social Security? What about Harriet Miers? A piece did eventually chip off, the Tea Party, but mostly, it seems, because Bush liked Mexicans.

Hillary Clinton has been the presumptive nominee for the Democrats for years now. Because she isn’t surrounded by normal people, she was unprepared for the Democrats to have a splintering of their own. Sanders’ success is the wake up call she failed to answer after losing to Obama, a candidate all my peers thought would move the country back to the left (but didn’t in any measurable way). Now people are angry that they are drowning in debts they owe to the federal government (student loans). They hate that Obamacare is effectively a handout to the insurance industry (a group long hated by anyone who ever had to call and ask a question about their coverage).

Primary season is here. The voiceless and ignored are finally being heard after decades. We live in interesting times.