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Mike Agney

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Dealing with headstrong princes [Dec. 15th, 2010|12:37 am]
Mike Agney

Inspired by something Anduin says to you after you complete Unholy Cow:

"Hey, sir, we don't have to tell my father about that little ambush," said Anduin Wrynn. "If he finds out about an attempt on my life, he'd never allow me out of that keep..."

"Well, maybe I won't tell him and maybe I will," I said gruffly. "Ain't decided yet."

"But sir-"

"Don't you 'but' me, kid!" I snapped, turning around suddenly to confront the young prince. "It's about time you started to learn what bein' a king really means! And the first thing it means is that it's about a lot more than just you!"

"You sound like my father," said Anduin impatiently, rolling his eyes.

"Listen, you were a kid when your father was missing - you have no idea what the realm of Stormwind was like, then. That bloody dragon made sure you didn't. But let me tell you, it was a nightmare. If you didn't live in the city proper, you feared for your life every day, and you had no idea whether anyone in Stormwind even cared."

"But everyone fears for their lives now," Anduin pointed out.

"Yes, that's true. But it's different now that your father's back. They know that someone's looking out for them. And if something happens to him again, they're going to depend on you," I said, prodding Anduin's chest with a finger. "And if you're gone, too... it'll make the days of Onyxia seem like a nursery school."

"But I can't just sit in the keep all day, doing nothing!" protested the prince.

"You'll stay where you need to stay, until you're strong enough to go out there yourself," I said grimly. "Both in body and in spirit. You're not the first headstrong prince I've met before, you know."

"Oh, really?" replied Anduin, arching an eyebrow.

"Oh yes. A prince who went out adventuring, fully grown in body, but still untested, untried in spirit. He pushed away anyone who would try to guide him or keep him on the straight and narrow."

"Who are you talking about?" said Anduin, perplexed but skeptical.

I fixed Anduin Wrynn with a cold stare. "His name was Arthas Menethil. And in the end, I slew him, with this weapon." I raised the heavy mace in one hand. "Do not make me have to come after you."
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Inherent Worth: A Social Experiment [Oct. 12th, 2010|11:11 am]
Mike Agney
While I was driving to work this morning, I was listening to a radio show where the announcer was discussing (and disparaging) the common conservative belief that prosperity is a sign of divine favor. This set me on a tangent of thinking about how much of any person's actual prosperity is a function of their station in life vs. how much is their inherent aptitude.

Consider the following - described as a reality show (though it's far too logistically difficult, expensive, and probably non-telegenic to make an actual watchable show):

Starting OverCollapse )

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Nonintuitive Economics, or Why You (Maybe) Shouldn't Take a Lower-Paying Job [Jul. 23rd, 2010|01:11 pm]
Mike Agney
We're in a recession. There are a lot of people who have been out of work for a long time - as many as two years, in some cases. Obama only just signed another unemployment extension into law, after the issue was hotly debated for several months in the Senate.

The opponents of unemployment extension have insisted that the jobless should stop mooching off the system and get back to work, even if they have to take a pay cut to do it. At the individual level, this seems to make sense - if someone can work, even if for less than they were making in good times, it's better if they do work than if they continue to draw extended unemployment benefits.

However, at the level of the economy as a whole, in some cases it's actually better if a more-qualified person doesn't jump into a lower-paying job. To understand why, we need one of the lesser-known economic concepts known as Ricardo's law of comparative advantage.

Ricardo who?Collapse )
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Making sense of immigration policy [Jul. 19th, 2010|03:21 pm]
Mike Agney
[Tags|, ]

The United States' immigration policy is dysfunctional. Pretty much everyone agrees on that, with the sole exception of the businessmen who profit from illegal labor. The mutual agreement ends there.

As a way of trying to formalize my thinking about what's wrong with immigration and how it might be fixed, I submit a hypothetical solution I call the YOYO visa.

(Note to my fellow libs in the audience: this discussion will use phrases like "illegals" and "illegal aliens" to describe foreign nationals working and living in the United States without a valid work visa. This is because the discussion is intended to be accessible to more conservative readers, who might consider the phrase "undocumented workers" to be excessively PC.)

What's wrong with immigration? And what do you mean by "YOYO visa"?Collapse )
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On advertising and kids) [Jul. 8th, 2010|12:45 pm]
Mike Agney
(reposted from my Fark comment on this thread)

I have no kids. Everything I know about raising kids comes from what I remember about being raised. But I think my parents did a pretty good job of it, because for us, McD's and Burger King were a rare special treat and not a daily occurrence, and I don't ever remember feeling deprived because of it.

I think the way they did this was to teach me how to watch TV. Specifically, how to watch ads. As best as I can remember, the lesson went something like this:

"Michael, what you just saw is called an ad. It's short for advertisement. Its whole purpose is to tell you lies so that you'll want to buy what it's selling. Don't believe anything you see in ads."

Also, since a lot of kids' programs often end up being feature-length toy ads themselves, you need to teach them that as well. Example: "Power Rangers is fun to watch, but part of the reason they show it on TV is to make you want to buy toys. Watch out for that, it's a trick."

In short: use TV advertising as a teachable moment, to teach kids how to recognize when someone's trying to scam them and be skeptical of it - and that ads are almost always a scam of some sort. Kids understand, and implement, the concept of lying from a very early age; the real cognitive leap you're waiting for is for them to understand that other people can try to do it to them.

To make this strategy work, though, requires three things:

  1. Forbid broadcast and cable TV entirely until the kid is sophisticated enough to understand this lesson.

  2. Be able to have one parent home to watch TV with them, particularly the cartoon time, so that you have the opportunity to give the lessons.

  3. The TV-watch-helping parent needs to understand the lesson themselves. It seems to me that a number of parents never quite learned to be skeptical enough of advertising either, and so naturally they won't be as able to pass that on to their kids.

I was lucky in that my mom wasn't working when I was going through those crucial first few years in early elementary school, which was when I was ready to get the "ads are lies" lesson. When my sister hit that age, my mom had started working; so what she did then is to hide the TV cable when she was at work.

Single parents, or parents that need two incomes to support the family, will find this sort of advice a lot harder to implement. On the other hand, if done successfully, it'll reduce family expenses a lot by reducing the amount of expensive kid-whining-driven products you'll have to buy.

Speaking of which: even with this lesson, kids will end up wanting things they saw on the teevee, and you'll still need to say no to a lot of it. I don't know what the best way is to handle that, but what I would try is to ask the kid, "Why do you want that? Is it because you saw it on TV?" And make it a rule that you don't buy anything if the only reason is because it was on TV. Make the little snowflake try to think of some other reason to get what they want - teach them to learn how to generate their own desires instead of copying off the hypnotube. You'll still end up saying no a lot, and they'll still whine and cry about it, but it's always good to have a reason for saying no that's stronger than "because".

Again, all of the above is based on absolutely zero kid-raising experience from the parental end. Take it for what it's worth.
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Random philosopho-religious musings [Apr. 16th, 2009|12:04 pm]
Mike Agney
[Tags|, , , ]
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]

So I was listening to Air America this morning on the way to work, and Thom Hartmann had a guy on from the Council on American-Islamic Relations...

Blah blah blah...Collapse )
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In other news... [Nov. 10th, 2008|10:02 am]
Mike Agney
In addition to my ongoing World of Warcraft gaming, I've recently been playing EVE Online. (Well, I say recently - in fact, I've been playing it for almost a year now.)

It's a space-based MMO that's been around for a surprisingly long time. I'm not going to give the full sales pitch here, but among other things, it's got a highly sophisticated market system, the ability for player-owned organizations to hold and control large chunks of space, and a wide variety of non-combat-oriented activities. And it's all operated from a single shard - though in fairness, the ability to hold all the players on one shard is partially because there isn't a really huge player base.

The main downside is that it is highly friendly to bullying. Player-based "piracy" is not only possible, but actively encouraged by the rules. It's decidedly not for everyone. But if you're capable of taking the occasional death in stride, it can be quite a lot of fun.
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Random update [Nov. 6th, 2008|11:45 am]
Mike Agney
[mood |busybusy]

Time to dig this thing out of mothballs again!

Updates in my life:

  • The weight loss program I was on has been a resounding success. My weight is now between 155 and 160, and I still get out to exercise on a semi-regular basis (though not as often as I'd like).

  • The general health improvement has had ripple effects; I'm getting more done at work and have more energy overall.

  • Got summoned for jury duty this week. Got as far as the selection process, but they managed to fill the actual panel before getting to me. For this case, they picked jurors sequentially. I was #65; the highest to get on the panel was #45 (for 12 jurors and 2 alternates). Since I'm not on the panel, I am allowed to discuss what the case was about, but only if people are interested.

Mild medical TMI below the foldCollapse )
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The vegetarian zombie... [Mar. 20th, 2008|01:47 pm]
Mike Agney
[mood |soresore]

says "Graaaaaaaaains..."

Whole grains have been officially added to my diet as of Tuesday. Although in very small amounts - no more than 100 calories per day of a ~1500-calorie diet (for those of you keeping score, that's about two small slices of bread or one tortilla). Why such a small amount? It's an experiment. The dietician wants to find out if my fat cells are going to PIG OUT if they see starch.

So far, I suspect that's not going to happen. I weighed in at 182.6 on Tuesday - it's Thursday and I'm down to 182.2. So I think my body can cope with starch well enough. (For reference, my starting weight was 208.)

In other news, remember my jogging on Monday evening? On Wednesday, I woke up with my legs aching like a sonofab-... well, aching a whole lot. But in a good way. After having worked out for a few months, I know that pain - it's the one where your muscles are saying "Oh shit we're needed for something! Better grow more!" and if you don't overload them too much (and get enough protein and sleep) they get stronger.

So I didn't exercise on Wednesday. Today my legs felt a lot better and I did my exercise with my personal trainer with no major incident. I've got another training session tomorrow, and on Saturday (weather permitting) I plan to do some more jogging, so that my legs will keep toughening up.
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Well, that was different. [Mar. 17th, 2008|08:36 pm]
Mike Agney
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

I needed to get my half hour exercise in today to make my five days of exercise a week, but I couldn't get to the gym during the work day. So... I went jogging around the neighborhood when I got home.

Worked out pretty well! It's cool here but not too chilly, and quite clear tonight, and I've got a sweater to wear, which helped with the cool weather. I got an average heart rate of 164 for a 30 minute workout (I wear a heart rate monitor for working out), which is right about where I usually get it when I work out at the gym. We've got lots of nice ups and downs in the neighborhood, so there's a good variety of effort levels available. I can't necessarily jog continuously yet on the horizontal, but I did a lot of jogging interspersed with power-walking to give my calves a break.

I think this is definitely a good alternative. On clear days, if I couldn't make it to the gym, a neighborhood jog is definitely going to be the thing to do. Certainly will keep from taking time out of the rest of my life, which is a precious resource these days. When it gets warmer, I may switch to biking.

Tomorrow is weigh-in day at the club. I'm feeling pretty optimistic.
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