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Technology
By gzt (Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 05:40:49 PM EST) gzt, non-controversial, vaccines, skat, piquet, cards, aubrey, maturin, boat books (all tags)
I had a decent Christmas.


Because of the snow, we didn't travel out until Saturday and didn't come back until yesterday rather than our previous plan of Friday-Sunday.

I finished off the last of the Boat Books, Blue at the Mizzen, over the weekend. I still heartily recommend the series. The series definitely slows down a bit, but even #20 is still good. I'd call it entertainment rather than literature at that point. I talked with my father about the books, he started them and found them good, but gave up during the second because the whole bit about the bear was too much of a conceit. Fair enough, but it's a minor point at the beginning of the second book, so I recommended he give them another shot and try to ignore that bit. I'm now reading Flashman.

I've been poking around and learning skat. Unfortuantely, there aren't many resources in English. It's all auf Deutsch. I found a decent free program, JSkat, to play with. They play their hands well compared to me, but rarely bid their hands very high and utterly suck at ramsch if you play that when nobody bids. It also doesn't quite do the multipliers right, which caused me to lose a bid once. I was, like, with 5, game, and hand, bid almost to the game value, but it only counted 6 instead of 7, so it claimed I overbid. I've also been fiddling around with belote, I found a decent program that seems to play fairly well, has a lot of options to cover common variants, and bids well (Bel Atout). I prefer the "modern belote" to classic or auction belote. There exists for skat high quality software that plays the game at a very strong level for a price, but I don't think I'm that interested in the game and I don't speak German. I think it's a pity that the game isn't more popular outside the German-speaking world, because it has all the complex potential of bridge without getting all weird.

Now that I'm a little familiar with skat, I read the rules for sheepshead, a related game for 5 players commonly played in Wisconsin. It seems simple enough once you're used to a couple things, so I'll keep it in mind as an option for 5-player games. Shafkopf, however, is too complicated. So now I have a couple 2-player games (piquet, schnapsen, maybe cribbage), a good 3-player game (skat), some 4-player games, and a good 5-player game (sheepshead). One thing to note is that the scoring of belote seems a bit complicated,which is something I'm not terribly fond of when keeping score by hand. Skat has some complications, but it's not too bad, certainly easy enough to do by hand.

The wifing unit's keys mysteriously disappeared during our trip. The most likely explanation is that my parents' dogs dragged them out of her purse, but it was almost always in the bedroom and I do not think they ever got in there. Moreover, the room is rather sparsely furnished, so they would have been seen rather easily. The other theory is that they fell out in the rental car somehow, but I would imagine they would find it and they didn't. Whatever the case, as long as she didn't lose them in the snow bank in front of our apartment, I think we can survive.

My jaw on the right side has been hurting lately. It's definitely the jaw and not the teeth and it's right at the hinge. It hurts when I close my jaw. If it doesn't resolve in a few days, I'll call somebody up about it. I fiddled around with my jaw a little and things got a little better, but it still hurts. Friggin' temporomandibular joint. Not sure whether to call the dentist or the doctor. Both probably work. My last dentist's appointment, however, noted that I have no evidence of grinding my teeth and I don't think I've started in the last couple months, so that's one possibility taken off the table.

I've been thinking about statements that should not be controversial at all but which, for some reason, some people can get very upset about.

  • The American Civil War was about slavery.
  • Vaccines are good and almost all of your children should get the ones recommended by the government for your kids. Corollary: the germ theory of disease is true.
  • Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States.
  • I can't think of a good one-sentence positive description, but, basically, 9/11 conspiracy theorists are crazy. Planes hit the towers, the government didn't plan it, etc etc.
  • Homeopathy and other forms of "complementary and alternative" medicine don't work. Most supplements, as well, are pretty much worthless.
  • Home birth is more dangerous than hospital birth. This is courtesy of the wifing unit.
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Christmas time is here. | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
"Supplements" by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:24:51 PM EST
I presume you mean the airy-fairy ones, not stuff like iron.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
oh, yes. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 08:23:43 AM EST
there are some that are definitely good. like iron for people that need it, calcium with vitamin D for women, etc. but that's, like, probably 1% of the supplement industry.

[ Parent ]
vitamin D by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 10:33:13 AM EST
...and children with southern genetic backgrounds living in the north.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
yes, that's another good example. nt by gzt (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 11:03:23 AM EST


[ Parent ]
The American Civil War was about economics... by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:03:04 PM EST
and the engine of the Confederacy's economy was slavery. It wasn't about keeping a race in thrall as a hobby pursuit, so don't oversimplify it.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

well, yes. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:12:19 PM EST
That's an acceptable elaboration.

[ Parent ]
I often wonder by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:35:00 PM EST
what fate would have befallen the South, had cotton, indigo and tobacco been wiped out in 1850. I think this country would be very different today.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
most likely new cash crops would have been found by lm (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:35:25 PM EST
I suspect to materially change the southern economy of the 19th century, one would have had to make the majority of arable land barren.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Well, I considered climate change by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 01:25:50 PM EST
as an actor in the scenario, but those three were the most labour-intensive crops of the time. AFAIK, tobacco is still harvested by hand. Machinery for anything else would certainly have made slavery far too costly and unnecessary.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Machinery has high costs by lm (4.00 / 1) #10 Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 10:55:47 PM EST
Quite a few things in India are still done by hand because labor is so much less expensive in some parts of the country than automation.

And, well, I was friends with a daughter of the farmer that owned one of the largest farms one county north of whe I grew up. As of the nineteen-nineties, he preferred to harvest corn by hand because the labor was more cost effecicient (better yield for a lower price) than using mechanization. And tis man was no luddite, he made several ground breaking innovations in irrigation and ran a very profitable farm at a time when most of his neighbors were spilling red ink all over their fields.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
India: by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 11:18:14 PM EST
I think there's some social engineering going on there to keep the World's Largest Capitalistic Democracy® rolling. Might not be the best example.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Hm by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #16 Thu Dec 30, 2010 at 11:43:51 AM EST
There's something odd when people are cheaper than machines for bulk things.

[ Parent ]
The fact that by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 1) #14 Thu Dec 30, 2010 at 09:44:12 AM EST
an economy is built around a morally abhorrent act doesn't really excuse the act.

That's like saying the gulags were a valuable source of inexpensive labor for the soviets.


An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
[ Parent ]
That's not my point... by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #15 Thu Dec 30, 2010 at 11:27:37 AM EST
which is that certain agricultural practices were the fuel for the fire which was slavery. Remove the fuel and the fire expires. Ten years of bad crops in Dixie would've ended the institution of slavery in America.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
I don't think it's quite that simple by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #17 Thu Dec 30, 2010 at 11:57:23 AM EST
the slaves represented wealth to their owners - men like Washington were torn between the fact of slavery and the fact that the slaves themselves represented the largest piece of his wealth.  Cotton failures would not have ended slavery, they would have sooner moved to areas where they could grow other crops.


An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
[ Parent ]
Slaves had expensive upkeep. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #18 Thu Dec 30, 2010 at 12:01:29 PM EST
Other crops, in other areas, could have been raised with machines for a fraction of the price of a stable of slaves.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Quick Harry Turtledove's number! by georgeha (4.00 / 2) #19 Thu Dec 30, 2010 at 12:07:26 PM EST
Time traveling Northerner's develop a super-weevil, in an attempt to bankrupt the South and end slavery before Time Traveling Nazi's show up with AK-47's to give to Robert E Lee.


[ Parent ]
Eventually by garlic (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 11:06:02 PM EST
Governments will have to pay their bills. They've done so poorly that this will mean budget cuts and tax increases.

America isn't number one in many things.


Why do you hate America? by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 11:23:06 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Christmas time is here. | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback