Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Random Ramblings: Not Quite Dead Yet, Playing Some Civ

I got a job a few months ago and slowly dug myself out of a pretty deep hole. I was days away from going homeless, and underweight enough to get dizzy spells, but now I'm happy to instead complain about how sore my feet are after a solid 40 hour week. Shoot, I'm even applying for a part time for an extra 15. I already got myself a Christmas present with a new laptop, and still have 2 months bills set aside. This feels a lot better than being 2 months behind!

At least 6 things made this possible:

1. $100 dollars from an Army buddy. (Who will be getting something very nice for Christmas. HOOAH!)
2. The Salvation Army gave me a week's worth of food.
3. I took one month of food stamps.
4. A place actually hired me instead of telling me I'm over qualified. (More on this later.)
5. I now have a roommate that actually pays bills.
6. I didn't give up.

It's not a fun time to be poor in America, and I mean poor as in I might not break 10k this year. I don't think I even qualify for Obamacare. Oh, and about that, I'm a liberal socialist. No, that doesn't mean Communist. The liberal part means I believe Democracy works, but anyway you cut it, I'm an actual socialist, and that's why I don't like Obama. I especially don't like the Individual Mandate (IM) (which was originally the Republican option, just saying.) From what I understand, the purpose of the IM is to get people who had been going uninsured onto insurance, thereby reducing the overall cost of healthcare in America by getting people in the doctor's office before medical problems become even more expensive. That makes sense, except the IM is not the only solution to the problem of having so many uninsured. There is also Single Payer and Public Option to consider, both of which are actually socialist in nature, unlike the IM. Under the IM, tens of thousands of poor Americans who otherwise would not be spending money on insurance are now required by law to get insurance. They are not being given something for free. This is an important distinction I don't hear.. well ever, so maybe I'm wrong, but as I see it, there is a legislated transfer of wealth from the working class to the owners of these insurance companies, and that transfer is being subsidized by the tax payers, (disproportionately the upper middle class), which is itself another transfer of wealth into those owner's pockets. I hear the phrase "transfer of wealth" from so many people in the American religion of anti-communism, but is not all taxation fundamentally a transfer of wealth? If we can agree that government (and by extension taxation) is a necessary evil, then a transfer of wealth is part and parcel to that. The real question is what transfer is necessary, fair, effective, morally correct, what have you. I see the past 4 decades of stagnation in middle class income, and the decimation of the working poor as unnecessary, unfair, ineffective and extremely immoral. Something's gotta give in this broken economy, and I think that something is a fair share from the top 0.1%.

I stress the working in working poor, because that's what the problem is. A lot of us poor people have more than just a job. We often have two. I even have technical training, and years of experience. Unfortunately, it's just not in demand in the place I'm economically trapped in. If I could pack a bag and move, I would, but moving costs money. I don't have that much. If more people were building more things, my skills would be in demand, but they aren't. If the state and local governments invested more into infrastrucure maintanence and repair (ooh, and a whole lot of repair needs done!) I could be earning twice what I am now, but here in Tennessee, road repair is a news-worthy occurance! "Oh, look at that, Bob. They say they'll fix the potholes this year. No, not all of them, just Main and Center."

Nope. Instead, I get turned down for flipping burgers because I'm "overqualified". This is what Occupy Wall Street was about before "social justice" co-opted it. All ages of men and women who had college degrees (and 10's of thousands of dollars in debt) had McDonald's applications thrown out the window at them. I'd wager 9 out of 10 of them were like me, already being turned down for flipping burgers. That's insult to injury right there. Those bankers got away with devastating our economy and getting bailed out by TARP (Thanks, Obama!), then they call educated people with no job prospects lazy? Next time why don't you give me a nice papercut and pour lemon juice on it?

Yeah, being poor is political.

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On a more happy note, I've been playing Civ 5. It's a fun game to binge on! I've had it on my old laptop for a couple months and playing it here and there on Prince difficulty, which is about the medium setting, where neither the player nor the AI gets an advantage. The lower difficulty settings are notionally for learning the game, but in looking the game up, I ran across an interesting comment that bonuses from lower difficulties can teach bad playing habits if one's goal is to beat the higher levels. I think this is true based on one observation from my current playthrough compared to all previous ones (warning, nerd-mode engaged):

On Prince, my typical opening policy was the first in Tradition to get that early boost in culture. I sometimes picked Honor first, if barbarians attacked early, but either way, those two together rack up the culture early on, enough to make them worth picking even if playing through with Liberty. Sometimes I'd even pick up the Wonder production boost from Tradition before going full into Liberty if I wanted to Wonder-whore to any degree. I don't think this is a good strategy for higher difficulties, though. Because the AI gets a boost, the early game becomes more of a catch-up, so if playing Tall, I suspect getting the bonuses to the capital from Tradition sooner becomes more important, and likewise for the settler and connection bonuses of Liberty while playing Wide. My current playthrough is a bit different, though. For my first King difficulty attempt, I picked Poland (because Poland is stronk), so I did my usual dip into Honor before continuing with Tradition, but due to Poland having free policies and my getting an extra policy from the Oracle means I filled out both Tradition and Liberty before Rationalism even became available. I even got 4 in Rationalism before building factories, so filling that out while also picking up Tenants won't be so much of a hassle. I get to play a bit Tall and Wide this time around, but with other civs, I think I'll have to pick either Tradition or Liberty. That first one in Honor will still probably be worth it, though.

I'm going for a Science win due to having 4 cities by mountains. My capital has plenty of rivers and plains with one solitary mountain, and my next three are surrounded by jungle. Yeah! Science, bitch! I was initially going to play Tall and relatively insular, but having filled out Liberty means I can spread out a little more and get a coastal city or two, and some more resources. As it is right now, my capital has 35 citizens, while other nation's capitals have 15-18. Hanging Gardens is nice.

My religion choices were limited, since I was behind the curve on faith generation due to early Wonder production. I built the Great Library and National College back-to-back immediatley after Writing, so only a lucky chunk of faith from a goody hut got me a decent pantheon, Sun-God. (I wanted Sacred Path because of all the jungle.) After catching up on buildings, I got Hagia Sophia kind of late, so it was slim pickings on Beliefs. I did get two of my favorites, Tithe and Feed the World. Tithe actually works out to be my major money maker, since most of my caravans are carrying food and production. So far, I've had a third Prophet do a little converting around city states wanting my religion (which was a real boon to my Happiness after about 10 turns of Avoid Growth in two cities), and I've purchased 3 Inquisitors to defend my cities from conversion. I've also purchased 1 Engineer with faith so far to get some more production in my capital. Faith is a support resource, I think, and should not be neglected. If I'd gotten Sacred Path and Religious Community, that would have been perfect support for a science win, but instead I have a little bit extra food (Luckily I have 2 bananas or wheat by each city) and +2 faith for each Wonder (not bad). Next time, I'll build a shrine earlier. Lesson learned.

I have no Great Engineer or Merchant points from Wonders or specialists, since I'm going full Science, and so far I've had no problem with build times, and just had a little bit of of a gold dry time that ate up early savings, but didn't impact Research. I've gotten 7 Great Scientists so far, and I've done something technically non-optimal with them, I think. As I understand it, all academies should be placed in the major science city where the science boosting Wonders are. What I've done instead is also place one each in my other 3 cities on grassland tiles. I did this to let me put more citizens on food and production tiles in my capital, since I'll be using it to build my space parts, as well as armies and whatever cultural things I need to not get overtaken in the late game. I've got a museum with archeology so far, big whoop, and I've just decided (a little late, second lesson learned) to place 2 specialists into getting Great Writers to fill out my Oxford University and Great Library, but this is mostly a cultural defense expenditure. I'll be taking Freedom, and I don't want any Order-taking neighbors causing me trouble. (Damn Commies!)

I'm on a large continent with Austria, who is always a reliable ally, and Carthage, who has reportedly been plotting against me but has yet to make any move other than send in the missionaries, hence all the inquisitors for defense. The World Congress has already been called, so warmongering now has global consequenses. If I wanted to clear my continent, I should have done it 100 turns earlier. Still, though, if I provoke Carthage, take their capital, then liberate a city Carthage took from Austria, I could have a quick coastal city or two (maybe three), possibly some extra great works, and finish without too much of a warmongerer penalty. I'm about to have 6 free Foreign Legion (I'm getting two Early Adopter Tenants and a free Policy from a new Era), and I definitely have the technological edge, so with my Riflemen, Cavalry and Artillery vs her Musketmen, I'm thinking... yeah! Let's get it on!

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