Monday, February 24, 2014

Local Banjo Part 2 - a Sort-of Kickstarter

In December I mentioned my friend Jeffrey Weitzel's new banjo-making business, Weitzel Banjo.

He has been using a website similar to Kickstart named Indiegogo to raise money for a production run of six banjos.  The byline (and link) is Pickin Beyond Tradition.

With only six more days (UPDATE: the fundraising is extended until mid-March) he is near his goal, but not yet there.  You can contribute and get thanked with his personally designed banjo-themed playing cards or baseball caps.


Government Support for the Elderly Versus Children

The other day I wondered how much the government (Federal, State, and local) spends on the elderly versus children.

I looked for an answer at the website USGovernmentSpending.

As a rough approximation, the overall U.S. government spends:
  • 20% of its expenses on health care (70% of that on the elderly, 30% of that on children)
  • 16% of its expenses on education (50% of that on children)
  • 8% of its expenses on welfare (13% of that on the elderly, 87% of that on children)
  • 19% of its expenses on pensions (100% of that on the elderly)

So the elderly get roughly 34% of the government expenses overall, and children get 21%.

Wanting more reliable answers, I started doing some searching and found an urban myth popular last year  People who refuted that myth found that the best answer is "the elderly receive about twice as much" but there are details of timing and categorization.

Another essay claims the real issue is the middle class.  Families must care for both their children and their elderly parents.  Perhaps the real issue is how the government promotes this happening.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Most Fun Fraction Games Ever

A month ago I mentioned inventing a better version of the Battleship game to help the elementary school students I work with learn about equivalent fractions.

I recently invented two more fraction games that are even more fun!

(I did a fairly exhausting search online for fraction games.  The bar is not set very high.  These might really be the most fun faction games ever!)

The first is Fraction Bingo Twenty.

The second is Customized Deck Fraction War.  It does not have a nice picture.

The rues to both are with my math games page.  Jump to Fraction Games and enjoy!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Arcane Adventures of Andrew Watson

I have not played Pathfinder in many months.  I still read some forum posts, to gather topics to talk about with my brother-in-law.

A few days ago I found some very entertaining stories written by Andrew Watson.  All feature a solo spellcaster who goes through a published Pathfinder module.

Totally unrelated to these stories, here is M. S. Corley's picture of what an Arcanist might look like.  Seem to you like a more flexible, mobile, and upbeat wizard?

I have written about the Eidos Thief computer games, and noticed similarities that undoubtedly help explain why I enjoyed his tales so much.

In Andrew's stories a lone protagonist is more maneuverable and stealthy than his opponents.  Exploration can happen quickly and is not bogged down by combats.  The hero can complete the mission while avoiding many fights.  But avoiding a fight forfeits an opportunity to gain information and loot, and also allows a threat to remain between our hero and the exit, which might be problematic if a hasty retreat is needed.

The protagonist does not defeat his enemies by being better than them at their kind of fighting--instead he has a small but robust set of tricks he uses to take them out.  Many of these tricks defeat the foe without killing it.

The hero has limited and valuable resources, and the better tricks use up more important resources.  Thus the hero must continually look for the least costly solution for each problem.  Studying his enemies helps him know which tricks to use in each circumstance.

Am I forcing the similarities, or do you see them too?

UPDATE: Andrew has created five challenges for others to solve with similar stories.