#275: Versers Reorient

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #275, on the subject of Versers Reorient.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first four novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, and Spy Verses,  in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I have posted the fifth, Garden of Versers,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

This is the first mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 1 through 12.

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in those earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 1, Hastings 137

Of course, Lauren versed out at the end of the third novel, so it seemed important to remind the reader of where the thread was by recounting a fragment of that battle.

I also decided to step her back to entering the world in the dream state; I wanted there to be a struggle with the orderlies in which she didn’t really know what was happening, so they would drug her.  That’s what’s happening in the first chapter.

Her gear is all close at hand, and will be gathered and put in storage.  When she awakens, she’ll be wearing a straightjacket or similarly restrained and being observed by some sort of therapist, who will ask her if she knows who she is, where she is, and what the date is.  From there we begin the cat-and-mouse game between a sane verser and a closed-minded psychiatrist.

Chapter 2, Kondor 137

Although Kondor finished the previous book, I needed his perspective on the puzzle of why the porter said they were expected.  That also gave me an opportunity to give the story to this point, although there were a few comments in the previous book that I wished I could easily bring forward and couldn’t.

I had already decided how the city knew to expect these visitors, but it was a supernatural connection which Kondor would neither expect nor believe.  Having found a perfectly natural possible explanation, he concludes that it must be true because it is reasonable, consistent with his naturalist viewpoint.

Chapter 3, Beam 1

I had finished writing what was chapter 24, Hastings 145, and as I was looking for something to do in chapter 25, Kondor 142, I suddenly had a couple of ideas converge.  They had all been sort of back-burner ideas.  One was to involve my second son Kyler in the writing process–I had long wanted to have a collaboration with someone, preferably him, in which we introduced a new character and used it to spring into two diverging series, but he had never been available.  The other idea was to base a character loosely on our friend John Walker, named James Beam.  I liked the name because not only did it connect to a whiskey (exactly as Johnny Walker does), but it also was the sort of name James Bond might use as an alias, and it sounded like James Dean, the iconic actor.  I approached Kyler with the idea.

Kyler liked it, saying that he wanted the new character to become an antagonist rather than an ally of the others.  I suggested that we use chapters in this book to create the character, and at the end of the book we bring him into the world with the others and set him up on the opposite side of the conflict.  I also observed that none of our present verser characters had been killed originally by scriff-containing computer hardware (and John was something of a computer technician), and none had been killed by Kreelak, the preying mantis-like aliens of Nagaworld, so this would be a good background for him.  I also suggested that in the initial phases he believes he has been abducted by aliens and taken to another planet.

Other characteristics I expected:  thinks the Kreelak must have used a stun gun; smokes but has only two packs of cigarettes; weakness for alcohol but none with him; building trades and glassmaking skills; versed out in 2017 or 2018, when we were writing this.

I did not know what worlds might be used, but needed him to pick up quite a few potent skills.  I thought a space world would be good but only had The Wanderer and Farmland Beta unused.  I also thought he could learn magic and/or psionics from Omigger in some future world, but had no good ideas for what that world might be like.  At some point I thought he should meet another verser, and so learn about his situation–but not one of those I was covering.

I was trying to be patient while awaiting Kyler’s first chapter; it was only a couple days, but I was eager to see something.  Then we discussed at length the direction it would take.  He was thinking of taking a world he had used, a biological laboratory, and putting it on a space station, and infesting it with alien carnivores.  He had a powerful support character in that world, and I suggested that it would be a good choice to empower him, and that we should also give him another team member who had low-level psionics, equip them with high tech weapons, and have them work together until he is killed taking them with him.  The statement, “No matter what happens, stay together, stay with me,” would be integral to their relationship.  I suggested for inspiration on the psionicist the Tesch of Doctor Who’s The Face of Evil.  He instead went with a stock Dungeons & Dragons™ monster, a Mind Flayer, with the aspect that whoever was running the station had surgically removed several of the facial tentacles sported by such creatures.  He also made him rather stupid.

From there, Kyler wanted to send him to The Dancing Princess, not so much because of the demons or the princesses.  Although we initially agreed that he would defeat the demons, rescue the princesses, and marry the second girl whom I was calling Nerene but he wanted to rename Nerenae, that changed as the story unfolded.  He also wanted to include in that world something he had done in one of his games, having a blacksmith/enchanter create a magic ring and botch, so that it controls dragons but also makes the wearer insane.  He would pick up a wizard, maybe this enchanter, although I was thinking more in terms of someone low-level reminiscent of Smedrick in The Last Unicorn, and enchanting a ring is a very powerful bit of magic.  So that was still open as we started.  Our proposed solution was that the blacksmith/enchanter had never enchanted an item before, and James tells him he needs this ring to control dragons (they’re a danger in that scenario), so he attempts to do so and botches, which means he doesn’t have to have a 15@ bias because he never successfully performed the skill despite having created a magic ring.

In editing, we agreed that Beam would need more bullets.  Both of us envisioned a “.45” as a revolver, and three of a presumed six shots had already been used to that point.  We added finding the box of bullets.

Chapter 4, Brown 161

I kept opening this chapter trying to decide how to frame it.  Then I spent two weeks in the hospital including surgery, and as I was recuperating I finally tackled it.

The bath is modeled on Roman public baths, but given a semi-private aspect of being connected to a set of eight similar residences.

This was originally chapter 3, but when I reached chapter 24 I decided to incorporate the new character, James Beam, and bumped everything.

Chapter 5, Slade 136

I gave thought to the order in which the group would awaken, and what would trigger each awakening.

It also occurred to me after I made the comment about dressing well for the meeting that only Shella would dress differently than usual.

I’m feeling my way forward with this.  I need to establish the setting and the characters, and then bring in the problem, but it’s slow going at the moment.

In editing, the notes were added to suggest that Bob and Joe were talking quietly with each other.

The decision to have the Slades tap their jewelry was made when I reached the beginning of what was chapter 8, and backwritten here.

This was originally chapter 4, bumped when we added the James Beam character thread.

Chapter 6, Hastings 138

The restraints were an obvious precaution, given her somewhat belligerent arrival.  The story of her arrival from the perspective of an outside observer will come soon, but I need to introduce characters who can tell it.

Originally I had written that the clothes she wore beneath the armor were in place, but I happened to be reading a book about how to write which caused me to think that I should be more specific, give a clearer image of the scene, so I changed it to jeans and t-shirt, her typical garb.

This was originally chapter 5 before we inserted the James Beam character thread.

Chapter 7, Beam 2

I received this chapter from Kyler very soon after the first, along with the third.  The introduction of Turbirb’durpa went smoothly, although there were problems with the spelling of the name, and I wasn’t sure why he would be called “Bob”–I thought “Bert” more likely.  That came out later.

Kyler’s inspiration for the monsters on the ship were the aliens of Alien.  He wanted something fast and deadly that could travel the air ducts.  He added a few touches of his own, and particularly their ability to cloud their appearance.

There is a run-on sentence in the first paragraph.  When I alerted Kyler to it, he responded that it was intentional, to press the sense of urgency.

We had a fair amount of trouble with the opening of the door.  It originally read “the door beside him pried open”, and I thought that this was an attempted middle voice, which I don’t think that verb has.  I was envisioning a door that had already been forced open.  Kyler’s intention, though, was that Turbirb’durpa was using telekinetic force to twist the door into an open position so Beam could pass through.  I discussed the problem that later Beam struggles with opening other doors and neither of them thinks to have Bob bend them open–and that it was important to the story that there not be an obvious option to do that.  The best we had for that was that Bob’s not very bright and didn’t think of it, and in the stress of all this Beam didn’t recall that Bob did this.  To capture the feeling we changed it to “wrenched”.

The abrupt quieting of the hum bothered me, because it hadn’t been mentioned.  Kyler, though, likened it to the experience of someone turning off a television in a room you had entered, and suddenly being impacted by the silence from the loss of a sound you had not really consciously recognized.  It was rephrased slightly to convey that.

Chapter 8, Kondor 138

I was constructing this from what I knew of ancient Persian and Middle Eastern practice.  I was not sure about the beer, but decided that I knew they had wheat and wine so beer was at least probable.

This was originally chapter 6 before we inserted the James Beam character thread.

Chapter 9, Hastings 139

It happens that I had just been released from hospitalization earlier in the week when I was writing this, so I modeled a lot of this on what I knew of inpatient care.

I had established her birth year as 1965, but not her birthday.  I decided that since she was otherwise so like me, it should be near my own, and went with the 6th as a few days before mine, although a decade later.

Her birthday is established as Sunday, June 6th, 1965.  She is speaking with her caretaker the day after that.

I also tend to go with my own taste preferences with her, which means she would not drink cranberry juice but would have to choose between the others, and while orange juice would appeal as the most thirst-quenching she would hesitate over the possibility of heartburn from it.

This was originally chapter 7 before we inserted the James Beam character thread.

Chapter 10, Slade 137

It had been rattling in my head that the group, and that meant Slade as the recognized nobleman, should give a gift to the Caliph.  I realized that had to happen now, so I looked to see what was actually established as in his possession.  The sheet included “Decorative Chest…Beautiful Necklace with Emerald the size of a golf ball…Carved Gold Ring with Fancy Raised ‘S’…Jeweled Dagger…About 20# total recognizable pieces of jewelry.”  This prompted me to think that he should be wearing some of this, and I was going to put the emerald necklace on him, but then decided no, Shella should wear that, and he should have the ring and the jeweled dagger.  That meant backwriting the scene where they were preparing, in chapter 4.

I had finished this chapter, but then realized that there was an important story element that had to be introduced during this dinner–the daughter and her entourage–so I returned to it to find a way to include that.

This had been chapter 8 before we added the James Beam character thread.

Chapter 11, Beam 3

I found the cold character of the girl intriguing, and wondered where it’s headed.

It was on a quite late reading that I realized she was described as having three guns visible plus probably other concealed weapons.  They are not mentioned again, but before that becomes necessary she kits up with some unspecified collection of weapons including an automatic rifle with grenade launcher, so it became moot.

I had made the mistake in editing this of using her name, which is not revealed until the next Beam chapter; I caught it just before the chapter was published, and changed it to “she”.

Chapter 12, Hastings 140

My vision for this arc in Lauren’s story is that her self-identity as a verser and as a chosen messenger of God are being challenged.  It starts with the fact that her existence in this world cannot be confirmed.

This was chapter 9 before James Beam was added.

This has been the first behind the writings look at Garden of Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue publishing the novel and these behind the writings posts for it.

#274: Close Races and Third Parties

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #274, on the subject of Close Races and Third Parties.

The results are in for New Jersey’s third congressional district, and Democrat Andrew Kim (pictured) has ousted Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur in a very tight race.  When the dust settled, Kim had 49.9% of the votes cast, to MacArthur’s 48.8%.  That makes eleven of New Jersey’s twelve congressional seats Democratic.  We reported on the race in web log post #270:  New Jersey’s 2018 Election Ballot, and on the results otherwise in web log post #271:  New Jersey’s 2018 Election Results.

Neither candidate had a majority; Kim was elected on what is called a plurality, the largest portion of the vote when no candidate has more than fifty percent.  It happens when there are third party candidates who draw votes away from the major parties.

In this case, it was Constitution Party candidate Lawrence Berlinski, Jr. who took 1.3% of the vote.  Obviously people who vote for the Constitution party are not happy with either of the major parties.  However, the Constitution party is generally conservative, more opposed to the Democrats than to the Republicans, and if everyone who voted for Berelinski had instead voted for Republican MacArthur, MacArthur would have retained his seat–which might have been a preferred outcome for those three thousand eight hundred forty-six voters.  In essence, they voted against the viable candidate they would have preferred, and so gave the election to the candidate they would have opposed.

Interestingly, in Maine a system has been created to prevent this sort of outcome, and it appears to have cost incumbent Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin his seat to Democrat Jared Golden.  Maine’s experiment was to have voters not vote for one candidate but rank all the candidates from most preferred to least preferred.  Under the old system, the system in place everywhere else in the country, it appears that Poliquin would have won with a plurality of 46.3% of the votes, against Golden with 45.6%.  The remaining roughly 8% of the vote was split between two independent candidates (no party affiliations indicated for either).  However, since no candidate had a clear majority, the new Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) method was activated.  By this method all first-choice votes for the candidate with fewest are reassigned to their second choice, and then if there is still no majority winner the next candidate is so eliminated, until one candidate has the majority (50% plus one)–a perfect tie being statistically improbable.  That was done in this race, and the outcome is that Golden defeated Poliquin by about three thousand votes, giving him 50.5% against 49.5% of the vote.

Prior to the election Poliquin had filed suit claiming the system was unconstitutional.  A federal judge declined to rule on the matter, probably because until the election had been held it could not be known whether the change in system would impact the outcome, so the suit is still pending.

It is a very interesting notion which if adopted broadly would be a shot in the arm for third parties.  As we see with the Kim/MacArthur race, third parties generally are a drain on the candidate who is closest in ideology to the third party, and thus voting for a third party candidate is effectively voting against the major party you would prefer.  Had ranked choice voting been used in the third district, and most of those voting for the Constitution Party had listed MacArthur as their second choice, he would have won.  It would mean that voters could vote for third party candidates as their first choice without effectively voting against the major party candidate they would prefer, and as more people recognized this third parties would get more votes, and it would be easier for the balance to tip to push one of the third parties ahead of one of the current major parties.

I don’t know that the major parties would want that, though, so I don’t expect the Maine experiment to spread too quickly.  Besides, we are still waiting for the courts to rule on the question of whether “one person one vote” means that voters can’t list a second choice.

#273: Maintaining Fictional Character Records

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #273, on the subject of Maintaining Fictional Character Records.

At this point I have written six novels and am watching the fifth go into publication in online serialized form.  As with the work of many other authors, the books themselves form a series, with characters continuing their stories from book to book.  One of the challenges of such a collection is maintaining character consistency, that is, making sure not only that the characters stay “in character”, but that they don’t change in the details, from hair color to high school to siblings to skills and equipment.  It’s easy as an author to forget something you decided three books before about a character, so it’s good to have a method for keeping track of it all.  You don’t want to find yourself saying that a character can’t do something he did before, or that he did something long ago you already said he didn’t do, or that he abruptly has or does not have some possession previously established otherwise.

This is my method.  I’m sure that it has some unique features, and I’m equally sure that other authors have different methods.  However, if you’re contemplating writing something that might have a sequel, you’ll want a method of your own, and mine might be helpful at least to get you on the right track.

I think if I were more organized I would probably keep the character records up to date as I wrote, adding details to the records each time I used them in the story.  I don’t do that, mostly because while I’m writing I’m not thinking in that direction, but in the direction the story is taking me.  This has meant that in the editing process I’ve had to go back and change something that was contradictory because I forgot between chapter one and chapter twenty-one that I had made a particular statement about a character.  That’s alright–that’s really a large part of what story editing is about, catching the inconsistencies and making them consistent.  Thus I don’t start work on the character records until I’ve done at least one read-through edit, and then I try to do them as part of the editing process.  Thus I begin with document one, the near finished draft of the book.

Before I start, I make sure I have another set of documents, one for each character whom I believe is going to reappear in a later book.  I have been wrong more than once–that is, having introduced a support character in one book, I unexpectedly brought him (or her) back in a later one, and had to go back to the previous book to build a starting character sheet.  Because my stories are based on Multiverser, I use one of the formats I have used for character papers in game play, which gives me an organizational structure; and because these are word processing documents, it’s easy to edit them.  The particular format I use begins with the character’s full name followed by nicknames and aliases, then a section of attributes rating how strong, smart, agile, and so forth, the character is, and a physical description.  I then list all the skills the character is known to have.  The game system gives me a solid organizational structure, because I can list technological skills, body skills, and magic and psionic abilities each in its own sector and use the game’s “bias” system to keep them orderly and find what I’m seeking.  Below that is equipment, which is probably my weak point because I list it in the order it is first mentioned in the text, and thus if I’m seeking something I sometimes have trouble finding it particularly if the character has a lot of possessions.  At the end are notes that don’t fit anywhere else, such as details of character history, known character traits and beliefs, and similar items.

Going from the book to the character sheets is a two-step process.

The first step is that I read the book and consciously attempt to notice every mention of any skill, possession, or personal detail for each of the characters I’m following.  This has to include both positive and negative details–that is, negative in the sense of that which is established as not available, such as that Bob Slade more than once noted he was never a Boy Scout and Joe Kondor doesn’t have a watch.  For each such item, I open that character’s record sheet and go to the bottom, typing the chapter number and what the item is.  Since I’m recording the chapter numbers (and my books have a lot of short chapters) it’s easy for me to relocate the reference later if I’m not sure what my note means.  I do all the characters on one pass, and so once I’ve finished the read-through I have multiple character records with a lot of chronologically-organized notes at the bottom.

The second step is to work from those notes, by opening the character reference paper in more than one window, and making entries in the appropriate sections of the upper portion of the sheet; I usually but not always include the chapter references for more information.  The notes can include things like whether a weapon is loaded, if an object broke or was repaired, and sometimes that a particular object was given away.  I don’t delete the note entries, but instead italicize the ones already included; having them makes it easier to track some information using a search function.  I do the characters one at a time, focusing on each until it is completed before moving to the next.

Because Multiverser is a game and the novels are in some sense an extension of it, I have a third step:  I create web page versions of the character sheets to provide to the fans so they can use the characters in games.  I don’t make these as complete as I would were I actually using them in a game, but I update them for each book.  That requires creating a new HTML file for each character for each book, and then matching the information in the new HTML file to that in the word processing document–but since I can save the previous file as a new file and then edit the new one, this is mostly about finding the new details.  I do not include the end notes in the web page versions, but regard the word processing files as the “official” records which I reference at need, the HTML files as the public publications of them.  Also, sometimes in the process of creating the new sheet I find errors in a previous one–most commonly omitted items.  I fix these in the new sheet, but not in the previous one.

Those character papers are available online, which is really so that my readers who want to use the characters in play can see the details about them but in this case gives you the opportunity to look at the format.  The headers including the pictures in the HTML versions are not part of the word processing files, as they are not needed in those.  (The pictures are present primarily because they make sharing on social media more effective.)

#272: To the Bride Live

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #272, on the subject of To the Bride Live.

There aren’t a lot of albums that I’m going to mention in their own articles; this might in fact be the only one.  That’s partly because this is a collaborative effort–our last two spotlighted artists, Barry McGuire and The Second Chapter of Acts, went on tour together with support from a band called A Band Called David (which supported artists on other tours as well).  It is also because this live album easily falls among the best recordings of its decade, with wonderful performances of great songs and an unrivaled concert ambiance.

By Source, Fair use

However, it is difficult to present much of this album, because very little of it can be found online.  One of the two cuts I had linked in the early notes was removed because the account holder had been cited for multiple copyright violations (although I found another copy of it).  None of my searches uncovered any cuts from this album by The Second Chapter of Acts.  However, they did most of their repertoire to that point, and Barry also sang quite a bit as well as talking to the audience.  His chat about Dolphins is available online (or was as of this writing, although I had to find a different link for it).  He also sang the wonderful song I Walked a Mile.

This was apparently the debut tour for Acts, as Barry, the known figure from his secular successes, introduced them as those three skinny people “not to be confused with the microphone stands”, and told the story we’ve already related about hearing them at Buck Herring’s house after dinner one night.  As they begin presenting their part of the concert, it is obvious that they, unlike some of the secular vocal bands of the era, were every bit as good live as in the studio.

The two-disk album is enjoyable and compelling throughout, a performance and concert experience rivaling any.  If I could have only one album from that decade, this would be it.

The Second Chapter of Acts appeared on other live albums with other artists, but although they always delivered unblemished performances, the presence of Barry McGuire here made it a great concert, a cut above anything else I ever heard.

I recently saw that Barry released a new album in October, 2018.  It might be accompanied by a concert tour.  If you have the opportunity to attend one of his concerts, it’s worth it.


The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.

#271: New Jersey’s 2018 Election Results

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #271, on the subject of New Jersey’s 2018 Election Results.

We’ll keep this short.  More information can be found in the previous post #270:  New Jersey’s 2018 Election Ballot.  At the polling place yesterday I was told informally that voter turnout was well above norms for off-year elections (years in which there is not a Presidential race at stake).  The traditional political wisdom is that high voter turnout favors Democrats, and that appears to be the case this year, as the Democratic party has virtually taken over New Jersey on the Federal level.

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez

Public Question #1, School Projects Bond (2018) passed marginally, allowing the state to borrow another half (B)billion dollars for schools as career and technical grants and school security projects, college career and technical education grants, and something labeled “school water infrastructure grants”.  The vote was fairly close, with about 52% of votes supporting it.

Our Democratic senior Senator Bob Menendez held his seat, with a fraction over 50% of the vote.  The Republican Bob Hugin trailed at about 46%, the rest of the vote split between four other candidates, the Libertarian and the Green getting about seven tenths of one percent of the vote each, the two independents getting half a percent each.

Looking at the House of Representatives, district by district:

  1. Democrat Donald Norcross easily kept his seat with about 60% of the vote.
  2. Democrat Jeff Van Drew took the seat vacated by retiring Republican Frank Lobiondo, with about 52% of the vote.
  3. The Third Congressional District was still undecided as of this writing, Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur holding 49.8% of the votes counted against Democrat Andrew Kim, with 48.9%, and 1.1% of precincts not yet reported.
  4. Long-time Republican Representative Chris Smith easily retained his seat with nearly 64% of the vote.
  5. Democrat Josh Gottheimer retained his seat with a close 51%.
  6. Democrat Frank Pallone easily held his seat with about 63% of the vote.
  7. With barely over 50% of the vote Democrat Tom Malinowski took the seat from incumbent Republican Leonard Lance, with about 48%.
  8. Democratic incumbent Albio Sires kept his seat easily with about 78% of the vote.
  9. Democrat Bill Pascrell also easily retained his seat with 70% of the vote.
  10. Democratic incumbent Donald Payne, Jr. also kept his seat with a very strong 87%.
  11. The seat vacated by Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen went to Democrat Mikie Sherrill, with about 57% of the vote.
  12. Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman took 66% of the vote to retain her seat.

It appears that New Jersey has moved from being about as neutral a state as you can have to being solidly Democratic–our governor is a Democrat and both of our state legislative houses are controlled by Democrats, both of our Senators are Democrats, and as it stands at this moment ten out of our twelve seats in the House of Representatives are held by Democrats.  Republican Representative Chris Smith continues as the longest-seated of our officials, adding two more years to his thirty-eight year streak in the fourth district, and although officially it has not been settled Republican Tom MacArthur has a slim lead to retain his seat in the third district with one percent of the precincts still unreported.

I’ll try to add a comment here when that race is settled.

Nationally, as you probably know, the Republicans gained a few seats in the Senate, but the Democrats took the House.  This is probably a good outcome, generally, for the nation.  The Senate has advice and consent for all Presidential appointments, including judicial appointments, and Republican control there means that more conservative judges will be approved to balance the spate of liberal judges appointed during the Obama years, improving the balance in the judiciary.  Meanwhile, since all spending bills must originate in the House, Republican policy can’t run wild, as compromise will be necessary for the government to continue functioning in the future.

So no one got everything he wanted this year, but no one should.