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Comment Re:Diablo 3 is fine. (Score 2) 221

I concur. I cannot help but be amazed at the number of people who think that Blizzard killed their puppies or something. I mean, just look at this thing... "Gift of the gods?" "The new best game ever?" I think Borderlands 2 is probably the game of the year, but I don't think anyone's granted it sainthood yet.

And then there's this: Sure, you can only reallocate the last three skill points you've spent, and you can't redo all your stats and skills once you're leveled up. That's so that you learn from your mistakes and go back and play the game again. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you. I'm halfway through Borderlands 2. I want to try Guild Wars 2 when I'm done. I have a double-digit list of games from Steam sales that I haven't gotten around to, including wanting to finish SpaceChem. Do not tell me that it's a bonus for me to have to play a game multiple times in order to figure out what works. That is goddamned Stockholm Syndrome, and I have other things I could be doing.

I played Diablo 3. I beat inferno with my monk before paragon levels were introduced. I had a full set of good gear, but I stuck with tankier stuff and mostly ignored damage so that I wouldn't need millions of gold in order to buy what I needed. This meant that I couldn't cruise through the last area and had to do a ton of kiting and positioning, but it also meant the last playthrough was a genuine challenge, and I enjoyed the trying to keep up valor stacks while trudging my way through heaven.

D3 was not the game of the year. The online issues were horrible. The crafting system was unnecessary for what it was. The difficulty of inferno was enjoyable for me since I got what I wanted from the AH, but it also required people to stalk the AH since the just-good gear that they got from drops wasn't enough to go on. But it was also a game that uniquely dared to let me mix and match and try out twenty-five different skills to my heart's content, to find things that I liked or to just experiment when I got bored of one path, and you wouldn't have to torture me to say I liked what I played.

I will probably buy Torchlight 2 on the winter sale, and then I'll wait until there's a respec mod for cheaters before I turn it on. I want to not be angry about this - I honestly have no issue with games existing for people who are not me. You want a game based on oldschool skill trees and locked-in levelling? Hey, go have fun. But I personally can't play another game where I click the same skill a billion times without getting to try out anything else, only to have to quit at level 30 because the choices I made at level 20 made me too weak to progress further, and there's something that gets under my skin about what seems to be a whole political movement that thinks that makes me a socialist.

Comment or Brazil (Score 5, Insightful) 1365

You know, I read 1984 when I was in junior high (which was in the early 90s), and it was a dark and frightening read. But it didn't really hit me that hard. Then as an adult a few years ago, I watched Terry Gilliam's Brazil for the first time, and it depressed the hell out of me.

1984 is a story about an ultra-competent government that manages to run everything just the way it wants to and convince people to act and think how it wants. Brazil was a story about an amazingly incompetent government that so much fails at it's job as to take society down with it. Guess which one I find more relevant to the current state of affairs?

Comment Re: Vegetarians (Score 2) 705

I have a friend who's veg but allows for dairy products, which is where I believe she gets a lot of her protein. That might be an interesting question, is whether or not cows as dairy machines could provide the same protein/fat requirements as meat on using less energy or space.

Comment A eulogy for 4th edition (Score 4, Insightful) 139

Ah, 4th edition. You tried so hard, and you largely succeeded. You gave healers something to do other than cast heal spells every turn, and a day of dungeoneering was able to continue past the first battle instead of everyone going, "The cleric's used up his spells - we're going back to base!"

You gave defensive builds a place in the world without making them boring. You took away a wizard's level 1 crossbow and gave him all the fireballs he wanted. You gave every class something to do other than basic melee attacks. You made characters interesting right from level 1 instead of forcing people to pray for an interesting character 10 levels down the road.

You took away multiclassing, and there was a gnashing of munchkin teeth, but you gave us arcane swordsmen and holy assassins and psychic healers. You broke up the age-old racial tradition of just elves, humans, and dwarves by sticking tieflings, dragonborn, goliaths, and devas into the main books. You got rid of prestige classes, those wonky things that forced people into specific build types, and instead gave us multiple builds for the base of a class and paragon paths for later on. Your flavor was more focused on the character than on the class min/maxing.

But, in your certain rush to fix everything that was wrong with D&D, you forgot the feel. You felt that you could discard the very makeup of the game and craft something new from scratch. Despite the interesting things that happened to a new character, your demand for balance forced you to keep everyone the same beyond level 1. While many people rallied behind you, you split the community as the players who had been in the game for years threw up their hands in disgust and went to a fork of your previous system, preferring an imperfect system that felt more like something from their youth and less like those infernal MMORPGs.

I've seen the playtest, and at first glance it looks like something that tries to bring the two groups together. But the PnP RPG faces a diminished audience from the outset, what with kids all distracted by their new-fangled machine, and the audience that you drove away has come to call you a heretic and isn't bound to return even if you pander to them again. Godspeed to you, Wizards, but I fear there's not much more you can do.

Comment Private Hiring Back to 2008 Levels (Score 1) 198

It's not just IT. This link is a graph of all reported employees in America over the past four years: In summary, the number of workers in the private sector is back up to about where it was in 2008 (which is still too small for a growing economy). It's the lagging public sector that's keeping overall employment rates below where they were before the recession.

Comment Re:Of course it's the market! (Score 1) 433

On the one hand, I heard a debate on KCRW's To The Point a while back about college costs. One of the guests was a college administrator who said the same thing - he said that the biggest cost of his small school was faculty wages, and the price of faculty was staying high while some of the other costs were decreasing.

On the other hand, while Googling a relevant link for this topic, I looked into faculty costs a little, and I found a number of links suggesting that professor salaries have essentially stayed the same over the years, rising about the same as inflation. So I'm not sure exactly how true that is.

Comment Of course it's the market! (Score 4, Informative) 433

Why is it the market? Because we say it's the market! Don't bother investigating or ask colleges why they raised tuitions! Just assume it's the market! MARKET! The link in the OP is, predictably, an opinion piece and not any sort of survey or discussion with actual educators.

This link leads to a study by a nonprofit group that had some different answers:

The main reason tuition has been rising faster than college costs is that colleges had to make up for reductions in the per-student subsidy state taxpayers sent colleges. In 2006, the last year for which Wellman had data, state taxpayers sent $7,078 per student to the big public research universities. That's $1,270 less (after accounting for inflation) than they sent in 2002.

Public universities have been reining in overall spending per student in recent years. Flagship public universities' spending per student has risen from about $12,400 in 1995 to $13,800 in 2006 after accounting for inflation. But since 2002, spending at public colleges has generally not exceeded inflation.

Increases in spending were driven mostly by higher administration, maintenance, and student services costs. Public universities spent almost $4,000 per student per year on administration, support, and maintenance in 2006, up more than 13 percent, in real terms over 1995. And they spent another $1,200 a year on services such as counseling, which was up 23 percent. Meanwhile, they spent about $8,700 a year on classroom instruction for each student, up about 9 percent.

Big private universities, powered by tuition and endowment increases, have increased spending dramatically while public schools have languished. Total educational spending per student at private research universities has jumped by almost 10 percent since 2002 to more than $33,000. During that same period, public university total spending was comparatively flat and totaled less than $14,000 a year.

Comment Re:"Not voting" (Score 1) 616

Could Ron Paul not have made similar arrangements?

No, because that would've implied the two political parties coming to a gentlemanly agreement. This sort of thing has died over the past three decades over here.

Comment Shouldn't wages be going up in other careers? (Score 1) 375

Last year I became a truck driver when I needed a career change. I'm told that the industry has a dearth of over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers. Most guys don't want to spend their entire day on the road, not getting home every night (or even every week), not seeing their families or having a social life. OTR is the position that newbies get dumped into, it's just what they have to take to get a foothold into the profession, but a lot of them end up pulling regional or local work as soon as they can get a year's experience under their belts.

Having said all of that, I've also read trucker forums where some guys say they wish new OTR drivers would stop joining the profession, because then maybe the pay would finally go up. The average OTR company driver is making $40k-$50k depending on their experience levels, and what's more, it's entirely dependent on how much work you get since you're usually paid by the mile rather than hourly or salary. You run all day and don't get home much, but you have to fight for that middle-class salary.

This is something that I've heard across various professions, that wages are just not going up even when there's demand. I suspect the "real problem" here is actually not that companies want to secretly give all the jobs to foreigners. I think the problem is that the American economy no longer correctly pays for employment in accordance with demand. As other people have said about the way managers get paid more, we have some long-ingrained ideas about who is supposed to get paid what in this country, and it's hard as fuck-all to get anyone to change their minds on that, even when they aren't attracting anyone at that price.

Comment What sacrifices? (Score 5, Interesting) 284

Over the past three decades, the masses have had declining wages. The masses have seen fewer employers offering health and retirement benefits. The masses have seen explosive growth in the cost of education, which was supposed to be the method by which they bettered themselves. The masses suffered unemployment and foreclosure as the result of the last economic collapse.

I think a lot of the masses, which have already lost quite a bit, are starting to ask, "When are the controllers going to start sacrificing as much as we have?"

You said, "...not one single President or politician has asked *any* American to sacrifice *anything* in over 40 years." Obama suggested that the tax rates for the top earners go back to the place where they were ten years ago, and he was branded a job-killer and capitalism-hater. Maybe it's not the masses that are your problem here.

Comment The future of novelty music (Score 1) 188

Your music has long occupied a sort of middle ground between "real" pop rock and the kind of music you used to hear on Dr. Demento. These days, the Internet has sort of lead a revolution in novelty-type music, from flash cartoon showtunes to YouTube remixes to rappers who write rhymes for a deliberately nerdy audience. I'm sure you're at least familiar with part of this phenomenon due to your recent tour with Jonathan Coulton. What's your observation on the future of the silly song?

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