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For example, a while back I read the Song of Ice and Fire books. The first few were great! Dead center in the venn diagram overlap between non-challenging and good. But as the series progressed, the books started to get more
If you've read it you should be able to call it A Dance with Dragons instead of "the most recently (sic) one" unless you're talking about one of the ASOIAF side projects? There is a lot going on in Martin's five core ASOIAF books. If you do enjoy them, they stand up very well to multiple passes through. Certain events are foreshadowed much earlier than they occur and minor events seem to fit better into the grand scheme of things the second time through. At a minimum consider re-reading Storm of Swords since it has more action and less slow-paced intrigue development than any of the other four... which seems to be what you want with "Non-challenging, high quality".
As far as the side projects, I don't really have much experience with them.
Efficiencies are a major issue with Wind and Solar. I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation a few years ago for powering the state of New Jersey with Solar and estimated that the size of the Solar Panel arrays for this implementation would be approximately the size of the entire state of New Jersey. It could be that solar is 5-10x more efficient than they were at the time I did my guesstimate, but even at those levels Solar doesn't scale like that.
FYI... I recall reading at the time that nuclear powers 4,000 MW in NJ and accounts for 50% of NJs power consumption at the time. So I scaled up the Length X Width of a solar panel that could deliver 8,000 MW and came up with something like 50 miles by 180 miles. I provide no warranty about this memory of the data... but encourage anybody to correct me if I'm wrong.
I had the opportunity to hear Nancy speak a few years ago. Something that resonated with me that she said was that errors/accidents (mostly?) occur because people/systems with imperfect information make reasonable (but bad) assumptions... so the only truly "safe/reliable" system is the one where perfect information is being given to the feedback loops to the people/systems who are making operational decisions (obviously not possible for complex, new systems).
Chess has the maximum amount of rules for a game.
As in... unique movement mechanics with few exceptions for 6 different types of pieces and no more than 16 different objects in play for each player at a time? Honestly I think chess is the best example of "simple rules, tough to master" but I must disagree that it has the "maximum amount of rules for a game".
There are games that are far more complicated than chess that are still great. I would submit "Magic: The Gathering" as an example. But really, if you take the time... there aren't too many popular games that are "too complicated".
I'm going to jump in here because this is the sort of discussion that fascinates me. Science fiction calls this type of thought experiment world "Post-scarcity" which is a counterpoint to 1984 which was more of a regulated scarcity economy. My thought is that when the world goes "Post-scarcity" there will still be things that are scarce such as ocean-front property or awesome tickets seats to see a live performance. The things that will NOT be scarce are food, water, electricity, comfortable sleeping quarters, wireless network bandwidth, clean clothing, and advertizements on the video program platform du jour. This is by no means a correct list, but to answer the question, "what do you do when you only need 50% (or less) of the available people to actually work?" my answer would be to ensure that they have the minimum "Post-scarcity" list and that in their free time they aren't causing trouble. Since a lot of these people will cause trouble, though, the alternatives are to stick them in jail or make some kind of fulfilling occupation available to them. So yeah, certain jobs that robots replaced humans would revert back to the humans. The economics basically becomes a muddle at this point.
"If all those things could be provided to me without working, I wouldn't work." There is a degree of leisure activities that becomes available if you stop working. You'd have time to do more things in your newly found spare time - some free like running outside - some not free like playing a round of golf. So if you wanted to golf, you'd still need to work (i.e. earn money) so that you can trade with the golf course to reserve your tee-time (this example works because I think there can never be a high enough supply of golf courses to meet the demand is playing a round is free and people have infinite free time).
"If you make it too low, they will be unable to survive." I think the greatest threat is making it so low that they organize, rebel, and destroy the companies who shifted from human labor to robot labor. It is tough for me to imagine a scenario is a 1st world country where technological advancement leads to people who are displaced gracefully exiting the human race.
Money is basically created out of nothing.
The emphasis you putting on being crushed by debt is in discord with this other statement that you made. Allocation of resources - including the time of scientists and the hundreds of thousands of acres in the Midwest - can cause to new resources to be made available or it can backfire. I have to disagree with the general tone of your thoughts since it seems like you may believe that all of the major allocations of resources over the past decade or two in America has somehow backfired and gone up in a puff of smoke... which is not the case.
I'm not sure I see the point in paying any significant amount of money for eBook cover art, but to each his own. The average cover art for an eBook is going to be shown Icon Size on an eReader menu. No?
I agree editing is key and being able to pay editors frees an author to do other things. But wouldn't high editor fees equate to the equivalent of the "unpolished/lousy prototype" type project that this thread is saying shouldn't go through KS anyway?
My KS pet peeve is seeing typographic errors in project descriptions. What chance is there that the end product will be polished if the requester doesn't have sense to polish the request for money that they are putting out there?