The Revolution of the Moon
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Fri, Jan. 25th, 2013 10:38 pm

There has been much whinging across the internet regarding the most recent hunt and its late finish.  To me, most of it sounds like, "but Hunt is supposed to be hard and frustrating for OTHER PEOPLE, not amazing solvers like me!" and the unnice part of me can only think, "welcome to my world."  I am sorry some people didn't have fun, but much of the complaining seems like a few individuals overgeneralizing their experience and taking it excessively personally.
I found this hunt less frustrating than most I've participated in, myself.  It was too large to see it all, but that is always true.  This year I never spent six hours looking up Encyclopedia Brown stories only to discover that that was the entirety of the "puzzle".  It didn't feel like the only thing standing between us and having all the puzzles solved was an army of elves.  Nearly every puzzle was intellectually challenging, which I much prefer (in RP terms, "high damage, low hit points" scaling.)  Every puzzle I did solve was satisfying.  I only encountered one puzzle that I thought was inelegant and many more that were very nice.
(Side note: I suspect the only way to even the playing field between very large teams and medium-sized teams is a smaller hunt with stricter gating and a similar difficulty level to this.  Even then, all the very good solvers could form one uber-team, but I think that is less likely given the dynamics of solving.  Note that this comes into direct conflict with "make the hunt newbie-friendly and accessible": I don't think it is possible to achieve both aims at once without writing two hunts.)
So it was too many puzzles for the time allotted and some repeated dynamics; I still think there are vastly worse crimes in hunt construction.  This hunt left me sated and was enjoyable all along; I appreciate that.  Once we figured out that other people also weren't chewing through metas and it wasn't going to end on Saturday my team was upbeat and positive well into Monday.  Last year I was pretty disappointed when the hunt ended so early (I am motivated by competition and the "we're all winners!" solution isn't particularly appealing to me), so I was glad to see a hunt that did fill the time allotted.
Specific puzzles: definite spoilers aheadCollapse )

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Thu, Aug. 2nd, 2012 10:36 am

Since he was kind enough to send me an ARC the least I can do is review it (in exchange, I promised that if we are ever shipwrecked or in an improbable apocalypse scenario and there was a choice between eating him or a cute puppy, I would chow down on the adorable canine.)

Jim Hines’ Libriomancer is like a mash-up of Dresden and Inkheart. It acknowledges its debts to canon rather explicitly, which made it work better for me than it otherwise would. The story itself is suffused with the love of books, of old libraries, of fantasy and science fiction. Reading it I was reminded of the first time I read “Bimbos of the Death Sun”, where the author was speaking directly to the fannish part of myself. Luckily, Hines shows none of the accompanying scorn that Bimbos indulged in: nothing here but admiration (and the threat of obsession, which I think is fair.)
I’ll admit, I prefer Hines’ writing style in non-fiction, but I am a spoiled brat when it comes to language in my fantasy. His books are about the story, and the joy of this one drew me in. The romance was cute; I appreciated the conclusion of it, though I can’t say why without giving it away, so I’ll say more after the cut. Despite occasionally resorting to telling, the whole thing hangs together and has the opportunity to indulge in steampunk aesthetic without it seeming contrived.
What I was most disappointed by was the lack of scope. That is, the world building seemed to center around the hero. There were mentions of things going on off-screen and broader society, but it didn’t really seem like there was a world going on around the action. I found the linear, personal, first-person narrative in this case made the world less believable and immersive. Perhaps future books will expand on other character’s arcs and add depth to the world; early Dresden had a similar problem if I remember. I think it is partially that this is high-fantasy, epic hero quest (even if the hero is flawed and keeps needing to get rescued), whereas I have been reading mostly low-fantasy, even-the-epic-heroes-are-imbedded-in-a-complex-world-they-can-barely-influence recently. I know that plenty of people do not share my preference here; I hope the book finds the audience it deserves.

If you like competently-executed urban fantasy full of the love for the written word, I can recommend it.

SpoilersCollapse )



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Sun, Feb. 5th, 2012 04:12 pm

So I realized that, after about 9 years of paying therapists, I have learned some skills I can successfully apply to myself, but also that I didn't know exactly what those skills were. I do things and stuff happens, which is summarily unsatisfying as an explanation and doesn't allow for the possibility of communicating any insights I've had to other people. Thus, here is my first attempt to explain the process of therapizing as I've experienced it.

because this is longCollapse )

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Wed, Nov. 23rd, 2011 11:21 pm

So I went looking for estimates of actual austerity measures taken (rather than proposed or claimed to have happened), ending up using the EU as a focal point. I found a depressing lack of such statistics, and then spent four hours trying to backsolve bank liquidity support out of government spending figures, eventually coming up with comparable numbers even if they were in rather funky units.

Then I came home to discover access to OECD's database waiting for me. I'm now in absolute hog heaven, mucking around in the stats. They have contributions to GDP by source: I can draw IS/LM curves just to annoy Austrians! Health care expenditures by country and contributing sector over time! Household spending broken down any which way I want it!

Some days I really do think I should be in grad school. I bet I could totally pull an Econ paper out of this.

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Tue, Nov. 15th, 2011 05:10 pm

First, I adore this Jay Smooth video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbdxeFcQtaU
cut because it ended up pretty longCollapse )

Rapid feedback, frequent low-consequence failures and a culture of sufficiency support productive collaboration. You can't fake any of these things, but I am having moderate success with cultivating them in my personal life simply by recognizing when they are missing. Sure, I still run into cultural conflicts, and I am far, far from perfect, but failure leads to learning. Being a good person is, as Jay Smooth says, a practice, not a state of being.

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Thu, Feb. 10th, 2011 12:04 pm

1. The medium of exchange has declining marginal value, just like everything else.
2. Capitalism is uninterested in the distribution of leisure, except in the sense of negative space.
3. Recent technical innovations have focused on the distribution of utility with near-zero marginal cost through a barter economy due to excess demand for the medium of exchange, just as Say predicted.

more Econ! I'm getting a little repetitive, but I thought summing up these three things in one place is useful.Collapse )

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Wed, Feb. 9th, 2011 12:32 pm

motorcyclesCollapse )

new project: kids games!Collapse )

buying a laptop: an exercise in class privilegeCollapse )

my plethora of electronicsCollapse )

broader musings on the nature of how I am participating in the world right nowCollapse )

Be brave, little Piglet. I get to watch the world change before my eyes; I can't think of another period in history I'd rather live in. If it requires a little courage, that is a small price to pay.

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Thu, Feb. 3rd, 2011 07:12 pm


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Sat, Jan. 15th, 2011 07:10 pm


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Fri, Jan. 14th, 2011 07:37 pm

A longer post will follow with more of my hunt experiences, but first, before I forget it all, I want to share a minor *cough* frustration I encountered.

cut for explaining a puzzle, and the answer I got, and why I think my answer is better than theirs (besides just that I'm just that egotistical).Collapse )

So, in conclusion, the theme of this hunt for me was pretty much "you might as well be backsolving." And don't get cancer *or* oral strep, because neither of them is the answer, apparently.

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