September 2008 minutiae
- Lamenting my inability to win on the Monarch level of Civilization
IV: Beyond the Sword:
|It is difficult to play on a high level|
|When you try to expand it is costly and your economy
goes into the toilet|
|Yeah, I always play on a low level because I am lazy
and like success|
|You cannot afford any research and so your people
|That is what happened to your country|
|Bush should have played on a lower level|
- I did finally win one, though it took a few reloads. Playing Augustus
Caesar, my starting position was right next to Germany, so after getting
outflanked I had to reload to make sure I kept Germany confined to the coast and
unable to expand. The second reload was to make sure Portugal, the other
civilization on the continent, didn't get so far ahead technologically that it
already had knights by the time I was able to invade with an army of praetorians.
Then I had to figure out how to keep my economy from tanking given all the upkeep
costs of a continent-spanning empire: the solution was pacifism, a civic I had
never been able to adopt before because I'd never had a huge continent essentially
to myself. The low upkeep saved my economy and the Great People kept me in the
game technologically. Except it turned out that Russia was so far ahead that
it kept invading me with superior weaponry before I could catch up. The third
reload was to switch to police state in 1822, build a huge army, invade Russia,
and do something else I'd never done before: raze several of its cities,
turning about ten wonders to rubble in the process. With Russia no longer a
factor, the fourth reload was to follow that army with a huge navy to stave off
the inevitable invasion by the Americans (and raze Washington while I was at it).
And with that I was finally able to stay in front technologically, keep enemy
units off my continent, and win on monarch level. And then finally put the CD
- One interesting thing about my tutoring job is that you never know what is
going to make a kid perk up. A while back I had an SAT student who was very much
a buttoned-down, by-the-numbers, no-joking-around kind of guy. One day we were
going over vocabulary and the word "rustic" came up. I mentioned that at the
Acme bakery they offer a line of rough-hewn, unshiny "rustic" breads and that
at one point I had cut my hand on a rustic loaf— and then I couldn't
finish my sentence because he was just howling with laughter. "Ha ha
ha ha ha! 'Rustic loaf'! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
I have another student who's only in eighth grade but whom I'm teaching trig
because her dad wanted her to get a head start. She picks things up pretty
quickly but rarely seems to actually enjoy learning the way a true geek does.
Recently I was surprised to find how much we'd covered in just a few sessions.
"Believe it or not," I said, "that is basically all the trig that gets covered
on the Math 2 exam. Hunh, what did my trig class do all semester? I
guess we spent like a month on cardioids." Blank look, so I explained: "A
cardioid's an equation that when you graph it looks like a little heart." She
lit up. "COOOOL!" she exclaimed.
- I wonder whether John McCain's running mate is actually named "Sarah
Paling" but she just can't pronounce it.
- Many countries have funny names but if pressed I would have to say the
funniest is Portugal. I mean, you can't really pick something like
Kyrgyzstan — that's trying too hard.
- Looks like losing all that weight (I'm now down
to 138) paid off. My latest blood test came back as follows: cholesterol,
185 (was 245); HDL ("good cholesterol"), 40 (was 32); LDL ("bad cholesterol"),
129 (was 155); triglycerides, 80 (was 288). Hooray. Perhaps I will celebrate
with a Cote Nord.
- You know, I keep hearing that this is the most important election of my
lifetime, and it's just not. 2004 was the most important election of
my lifetime. The 2004 election determined whether the Bush years would be
an unfortunate blip or a crater from which it will take America decades to
recover. And it turned out to be the second one. The economy is a wreck,
Rehnquist and O'Connor were replaced by far-right ideologues who will be on
the Court until I'm seventy... we're fucked. 2008 is still important, in
that it will determine whether we start to climb out of the crater, but 2004
was when we could have headed off this disaster, and we didn't.
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