weekly roundup – February 5th

This will be a short one. In the last couple weeks, I’ve been focusing on other things and haven’t read many articles or played many games.

I’m still a week or two behind in Bloomberg Businessweek, but I found this article about a man who has donated millions to Ted Cruz’s campaign to be very interesting. Robert Mercer is a very wealthy programmer and hedge fund manager who donates to political campaigns and summits and movements that push for the gold standard and deny climate change. He and I basically have nothing in common, but it would be interesting to have a conversation with him (though he is also fairly reticent about his personal beliefs, so it might be difficult). The story is light on formative background for Mercer, and I would want to know why on earth… just… why.

My Facebook feed has been dominated by a few outspoken Sanders supporters, and it made me start thinking that everyone was like that. I’ve taken measures to lessen that exposure and talk to Clinton supporters more. And then I came across this piece this morning, and it seemed like perfect timing. Clinton has been in the national spotlight for 25 years. She has incredible perseverance, and she has had to deal with so much mud-slinging for pretty much the entire time. The GOP is encouraging Sanders supporters to spew the same vitriol the right has been spewing for years. It’s frustrating and worrisome.

In the past two weeks, I’ve played Roll for the Galaxy (this time with my husband), Five Tribes, Splendor, and Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

Splendor: I think nearly everyone we’ve played this with has gone out and bought it. It’s a gem-collecting game where you buy cards with gems on them and use those to buy more expensive cards. It’s very straightforward and easy to learn, but it is a lot of fun to play.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig: I first played this last May. Each player builds rooms on their castle, getting points for rooms and various bonuses. Players take turns as the “master builder,” when they get money from others. It’s a larger strategy game, but it’s not too difficult, and it’s quite fun. It’s not terribly fun with two players (as Carl and I have found out), but with three or four, it’s quite good. One of my favorites, but not one I get to pull out much.

Five Tribes (reg. version): Players drop meeples on the tiled board to perform different actions, gain resources, and take control of tiles. It’s unlike other games I’ve played, and it is hands down one of my favorites. Once you get the hang of it, it moves quickly, and it’s fun to try different strategies each time. This time, I went the resource route, which went super well.

I’ve discussed Roll for the Galaxy before, but I will say that Carl really liked it, and I think we may end up adding it to our collection.

weekly roundup – January 15th

One of the best things I saw this week was Jerry Seinfeld and President Obama in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Both of these men are personable, and I enjoyed their conversation. Having Obama open up about what it means to have power is interesting, and his advice to the candidates about making sure they’re running for the right reasons (or rather, not running for the wrong reasons) made me think about the reasons behind the choices I’ve made in my own life.

In law school, we learned about arbitration, but there wasn’t a big emphasis on it. It was something that was relegated to consumer contracts, but even there, it wasn’t used by all of the companies. In the last few years, however, arbitration clauses have popped up all over the place, and the Supreme Court has upheld even the most extreme of them. This article does a good job of explaining the rise of arbitration clauses and the influence the Chief Justice had in creating the winning argument while he was practicing law. I’m not a proponent of arbitration. My arguments against it are nothing new, but I am particularly against it in employment contracts. Cerner gave its employees an ultimatum late last year: sign an arbitration contract or lose the ability to get merit raises. It prohibits class action suits, which can be effective to change corrupt or improper practices by companies. And it’s just unfair. The way that our country and justice system seem to be run by companies rather than people really gets to me.

A New York Times Magazine article addresses the Russian media trolls who put out pro-Russia articles and comments that disparage, well, anyone who criticizes Putin or Russia (or looks too hard at the trolls themselves). It’s an interesting bit of investigative journalism that culminates in the journalist himself being trolled.

Another article about the dark side of technology is this article about the Silk Road and its founder. It’s a long, two-part read, but it goes through the founding, running, and downfall of the Silk Road and the efforts law enforcement made to try and shut it down. In the end, it’s a pretty classic case of getting too big for one’s britches. Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind, became arrogant and a little careless, which was enough for law enforcement to get a toehold. There are so many examples of this extreme hubris, and the article was in part fascination with a dark world and part schadenfreude at seeing the end result.

I didn’t play any games this week, but I’m going to a board game convention this weekend, so I’ll have lots to report next week!

Personal thoughts: I’ve been applying for jobs, which is somewhat disheartening. I’m educated, curious, driven, and eager to work, but I think my JD scares off potential employers who think I’m going to expect a lawyer’s salary while not doing legal work or who think that I’m not right for a software job. It’s frustrating. But I’ve come to realize that majoring in math in addition to music was one of the best decisions I could have made in college. I wanted to graduate with more than a degree in music (I knew I didn’t want to do music professionally), and I enjoyed math and was pretty good at it. It turns out that a lot of software jobs require a technical degree or a math degree, so yay! Trying to figure out my future (career-wise) makes me feel so young and inexperienced again, but it’s essential.

weekly roundup – first ever!

Welcome to my first weekly roundup, where I write about things I’ve read, games I’ve played, and things I’ve been thinking about that don’t merit their own blog posts.

I’ve read a few interesting articles this week. I discovered the Wait But Why site, and the archives are full of interesting things. I read a two-part post on AI and the timeline for the future of it, which was both really interesting and fairly terrifying. The idea that we could be so close to immortality or extinction left me reeling. It’s a very long read, but I highly recommend reading all of it. Another interesting post I read was about procrastination. I spend a lot of my time on unimportant things, and though I’m starting to get better about doing things that will move me forward, some days are better than others. The post really resonated with me, and it reframed things in a way that may put me in more control in the future.

I’ve read a couple of art-related articles this week as well, both ending rather negatively about their subjects. One was about Peter Lik, the photographer, the other about an art collector who patronizes young artists. The article about Peter Lik talks about his business plan (prices increase based on how many prints sell, and stores in high-traffic tourist areas), and about the criticism he has received from the art world (lack of shadows and darkness in his art, little resale value). We nearly bought a Peter Lik a few years ago, and I still like what he does. I’m not sure what that says about my taste in art (it probably means I’m not very sophisticated). I didn’t like the sales tactics they used, somewhat akin to car sales, but it nearly worked. The other article dealt with a man who patronizes artists as an investment strategy. It made me think more about what I’m doing with my business and how easily artists are taken advantage of.

This post about Hillary Clinton was eye-opening. I had to reconsider why I feel the way I do about her. It’s a defense of her in a way, pointing out that she’s in an impossible situation. I dislike her corporate connections, but at the same time, she’s doing what she needs to to survive, and she’s immensely strong. I cannot imagine anyone I know putting up with what she’s had to endure for the last twenty years.

Another site I’ve discovered is Inverse, which is full of articles that make my geeky heart sing. If you get excited about science or nerdy shows or movies, this is the place to poke around. I don’t want to point to any specific articles, because they’re all good.

On to games! Recently, I’ve played Morels, Smash Up, Stone Age, Eldritch Horror, Red Dragon Inn, and Exploding Kittens. It’s been a nice vacation. 🙂

  • Morels: I love this game, which is a sweet two-player game collecting mushrooms. I think every game collection needs good two-player games, and this is a staple of ours.
  • Smash Up: The fun part of it is that you combine two character types (I played wizards and cybernetic apes), hence the “smash up.” It’s a fun game, easy to learn, not very complicated.
  • Stone Age: It’s a worker placement game. Meeples farm, build tools, have babies, hunt, build huts, and collect resources. It’s a great game with a lot of different ways to win.
  • Eldritch Horror: We lost spectacularly when we played, but it’s a fun cooperative game with battling monsters and solving mysteries. It’s supposed to be less complex and more fun than Arkham Horror, but I haven’t played Arkham.
  • Red Dragon Inn: You’re heroes in a pub after a successful quest, and you try to weaken the other characters and get them drunk and take their gold. It has pretty simple mechanics, but it’s a fun game, and all the expansions mean you can play with many people (though the games get kind of long).
  • Exploding Kittens: It’s not a complicated game, and the most exciting part of it is the text on the cards. We played the NSFW version, so the cards were quite rude and amusing.

Finally, I’ve been thinking about my own attitude towards politics. The things politicians say and do make me so angry (so. angry.), and the apathy and voting against self-interest infuriates me. And I don’t know what to do about it. I campaigned for a race in Kansas in 2014, and though we worked really hard, my candidate lost and the party as a whole lost badly across the entire state. I’ve moved down the crazy scale by moving to Utah (not terribly far, but a little), but with the national races heating up, there’s stuff in the news all the time. As a Democrat in a red state, I’m frustrated. Instead of trying to make a national or even local difference, I’m going to try to make an individual difference. In a couple weeks, I have orientation for volunteering with refugees. I’m excited about the prospect of helping people who are new to the country.

That’s it for this week! Let me know your thoughts, and if you have recommendations of things to read, I’d love to hear them.