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I hear Captain America did well at the box office. This makes me happy. I won't be seeing it yet. My nephew wants to go with his friends, his dad and his Uncle Scott. I think he wants to wait until around the time of his birthday, which is about a month away.
I thought it was pretty fun. Felt more intense than the original and the characters are treated more in-depth.
But mostly, it's the cool fight scenes, really.
Free healthcare for the poor doesn't mean the system is socialist.
I live in what's probably the most free-market oriented country in the world -Chile-, where even the socialists would be called capitalist in other nations, and everyone gets access to free healthcare. You can pay for more exclusive private clinics, but if you can't afford it, you can use the public system. While it tends to be a bit slower, the quality is just as good (and, for certain specialties, the public system is actually better).
The way our system works is as follows:
-The moment you turn 18, you automatically join the FONASA system (National Healthcare Fund, in Castilian). Before that, you are included in your parent's plan.
-If you earn more than the minimum wage and you are employed by someone else, your employer retains 7% of your wage and pays it to FONASA every month. If you earn the minimum, have no earnings or have 65 (for men) or 60 (for women) years, you don't pay anything.
-FONASA can cover up to 100% of your medical bill, so long as you go to a public hospital. In some special cases it can also cover the bill on private institutions (such as in the case of a grave accident or a very specific illness that requires you to go to a certain clinic).
-As an alternative, and if you earn more than minimum wage, you can instead join one of the seven ISAPREs (Previsional Healthcare Institutions, in Castilian). You pay slightly more than the 7%, depending on the plan you choose.
-An ISAPRE can cover up to 100% of your medical bill (though usually it's somewhere between 80-90%), but only in private institutions. The tradeoff here is that private clinics can be much more expensive, so if it doesn't cover 100%, you can end up paying quite a bit. They also have some other perks, like special assistance in specialty institutions and stuff like free movie tickets.
-Note that full coverage only works when you really need the procedure. For instance, facial reconstruction after a car crash can be fully covered by both systems, but plastic surgery because you want a new nose isn't.
-In adition, there's the AUGE (Universal Access Plan of Explicit Guarantees, in Castilian), which forces both FONASA and the ISAPREs to cover 100% of treatments if they belong to the list of those included in the system. For instance, if you are 60+ years, AUGE ensures all your dental bills will be covered by the State; if you have linfoma, the State pays for everything; cancer-related pains, 100% coverage; AIDS, 100% coverage; depression if you have 15+ years, 100%; Parkinson's, 100%; and so on. Currently, the AUGE includes 80 different cases, and is constantly being expanded (about 13 new ones are being added this year, for example).
So far it's been working pretty good, since it manages to both allow the private sector to be economically viable while at the same time ensuring everyone, regardless of income, can get treatment, specially if the disease is either life-threatening, life-impairing, or affecting risky individuals (elders, pregnant women, and babies), in which case the State pays for everything if you can't pay it yourself.
All without socialism!
The National Seismological Service updated the magnitude to 8.3; waves are expected to be somewhere around 4-5 metres (12-15 feet), so nothing too terrible. Still, the cities in the area happen to be extremely flat and extremely close to the water, so no one's taking any chances.
98% of the population has already been evacuated and additional warnings have been sent to the rest of the south american Pacific coastal nations (Peru in particular might get the blunt of it, due to the way they face our sea).
As for what's to come, the Service has not ruled out that this could be the opener for an even bigger one, just like we had in 1985, 1960, and 1937.
For some odd reason, whenever I'm having lucid dreams, I'm presented with a literal menu screen (sort of a mix between Netflix and the Wii menu is the best way I can describe it) with a selection of reccuring dreams from where to choose.
Some have evolving plotlines, and others I'm pretty sure I just keep seeing in the exact same way. There's this particular dream I've been having for as long as I can remember where I'm carving a city out of a cliff; every time I go back to it, the thing looks bigger, although the method/tools change apparently at random. I keep seeing more and more people in it, but I can never identify any of them.
As for the question, no, never dreamed of myself as a woman, or at least I don't recall ever dreaming that.
Shaky update: About 600 tremours above 4.0 since last week; we're also getting 5+ about 4 or 5 times per day, with a 6 or 6.5 in between for variety.
I'm not seismologist and I know this is the most seismic country in the world but, come on, there's gotta be something big incomming. It's been two months of this stuff already!
If not, I think we could say it's a... rock-tease?
I actually thought the narrative in Dark Souls 1 was innovative and interesting. The game gave you very little in the way of direct information, instead opting for obscure hints, ambiguous descriptions, and a scenery with a lot of personality. I thought it really worked well with the fatalistic tone of the world, and it helped create a sense of wonder that I found very compelling.
As for DS 2, just got it a couple of days ago; having a blast so far with my knight.
Woohoo! Welcome to the team! I also majored in Finances (even though now I grow plants for a living. And no, they are not money plants, despite my best efforts).
Remember to send your card to the Secret Planetary Association of Fianceers. We're trying to get everyone's money and use it to build a giant waterslide. But it's all hush-hush.
What the heck could do that? Its like i'm stuck in an utterly implausible science fiction premise...
Wasn't there a guy in the late 90's that travelled around the world giving seminars about a "Photon Belt" that supposedly raced across the universe at huge speed interfering with the fow of light or something like that? His theory that it would cross the Solar System soon and cause the Sun's light to become so difuse we would be in total darkness.
If it was all of the sudden? Most likely, the first question in my head would be "What's going on?".
If it was then confirmed to be permanent, probably would ask family and friends to organize a trip to one of the 400 volcanoes we have in this place and learn to live near a source of heat, since things are gonna get chilly soon.
A couple hundred aftershocks so far this week. The Seismological Service has indicated these are probably no longer aftershocks from last week's 7.0 tremour, but rather an independent seismic swarm. Whether the swarm itself is the lead-up to a full-out earthquake is impossible to tell, however.
In other news, been playing some Dark Souls II. Or better said, dying in Dark Souls II. Dying a lot.
Anyone else playing it?
I live in Santiago, about 400kms (about 250 miles) south of La Serena. Most of the tremours are taking place near Iquique, however, which is 1,500kms north of Santiago, so we're not getting them too hard.
According to the seismic registry, though, La Serena experienced more than 20 tremours above 4.5 during 1989. Maybe you visited just between tremours? Also, the central part of the country often experiences deep underground tremours, which makes them harder to notice.
Well, one of the realities of living in a country that's essentially a 5,000-kilometre long faultline ringed by more than 400 active volcanoes (60 of which erupt every year) is that the ground shakes all the time. Literally. A day without at least one 4° is very rare, and it is estimated the entire country is perpetually experiencing a 2°-3° seismic movement. Of the strongest 10 earthquakes ever reccorded, 3 have happened here, including the strongest ever in 1960, at 9.6, so strong that it accounted for 1/4th of all the energy released by the planet during the entire XXth century.
So on the part of recommendations, the population is already aware of what to do: If it gets too strong, open doors to avoid them getting stuck, shut down the gas and power lines, stay away from the kitchen, and avoid candles if the lights go out. The government has mostly focused on training people to go to the safety zones in an orderly fashion, particularly in the north, which is specially exposed to tsunamis.
As for what should one do, it never hurst to keep some emergency supplies (water, flashlights, blankets, etc) handy in case you have to evacuate. Also, always have a designated meeting point with your family in case the earthquake hits in the middle of the day and everyone's spread out.
But there isn't really much more you can do, besides not leaving dishes or glasses near the edges of a table and stuff like that. When the ground starts to shake so hard you can't walk or even stand up, the only thing between your priceless miniature collection and the floor is whether or not the earthquake was merciful enough to send horizontal waves.
Luckily, save for a handful of really old buildings and the occasional one that gets built improperly, almost every single building can sustain shakes up to 9.0 without any kind of serious damage (you'll still see cracks and stuff, because a 9.0 is a hell of a strong quake). In fact, the reason so few historical buildings from before the 1800's survive to this day is that we get hit by these things 3-5 times per century at a minimum.
About a dozen 5.0 and 6.0 degree tremours today, along with twenty-some 4.0s; the head of the National Seismological Service has announced that, though it could simply be a series of unrelated shakes, the department is seriously considering the option that the Northern Big One might be just around the corner, waiting us with its very likely 9+ magnitude. The south has also been shaking, but it's been ruled to be completely unrelated.
The way the tremours have been behaving (clustered around the same area of the fault) and the length of time (almost two months, with the last two weeks seeing a marked increase in frequency) is what's getting the seismologists concerned.
Been shaking a bit harder than usual around these parts lately; at least 15 quakes on the 6+ and 4 above 6.5, plus several dozens of 4s and 5s, all in the span of 2 weeks.
Just had a 7+ a couple of hours ago and 1/4th of the country's coast has been evacuated as a preventive measure.
No buildings, infrastructure or people have been damaged so far, though. It takes at least an 8.5 to make a chilean nervous, but the frequency is intriguing, to say the least.
Whether or not a big one is coming is hard to tell (the last big one we had in 2010 at 8.8 only released energy on the southern third of the fault line. The central section hasn't shaken above 8 since 1985 and the northern one since even earlier), but since almost every one of these quakes has taken place on the north, we're all just waiting to see.
I believe sometimes the hybrid model can be good. It depends on how you implement it.
Some hybrid models offer either a subscription OR a cash-shop, such as what you can fin in games like Rift or Terra (ie, if you pay for the subscription, you get several perks, usually including some things you can't get through the cash-shop, while if you don't, you can still play and buy the components you want by separate).
On the other hand, some models offer a subscription while including a shop for cosmetic/quality-of-life services, such as what we can see these days in WoW (subscription to play, plus a real-money shop for things like pets, mounts, and character transfers).
I would say both those systems are good; one offers you the choice of going with the one you prefer (though the subscription is usually more efficient in those cases if you play regularly), and the other is giving access to non-essentials.
Past Friday I was at a bbq with a bunch of friends, including a couple of lads from the Sweden and Dutch girl who were staying at a friend's home. Since around here everyone kisses and hugs regardless of whether you are a stranger or not, it was interesting to see their awkward reactions, but eventually they got a hang of it.
That led to the discussion of greetings in our respective countries.
How do people greet each other where you live?
Around here -Chile- it's usually hugs and/or kisses unless it's a man you don't know or a woman in business situations (in both those cases, handshake). Up to 3 kisses if the man in question is your dad.
The 8th Dwarf wrote:
I feel you. Those crazy northernhemispherians with their summers in the middle of the year!
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Oh, by all means; I' don't think it's a reasonable nor structurally sustainable strategy. But just as news of the Bitcoin crash are seeping into the general audience (my parents just asked me about them two weeks ago for the first time. And keep in mind my mom is the kind of user that, during the computer lessons she took, still wrote the notes on paper), so are news of how spectacularly rich some people -allegedly- got with them.
If there is one thing I've learned throughout my career in finances (although nowadays I use it mostly to grow crops and sell gourmet food to the Japanese and Brasilians), is that most people have very short memories when it comes the moment of evaluating negative risks, while very active imaginations when it's the time to evaluate possitive risks.
I'm sure a lot of the people who suffered with the Bitcoins will be wary of the Buttcoin, but the same media coverage the system is getting from it's bubble is, I think, going to attract more people into the next thing that comes out saying "Buttcoins: Like Bitcoins, but this time they work!". I'm not saying they will be actually any more stable than Bitcoins (though I don't know enough about their intricacies to fully assert that they won't), but "Guy pays 30 bucks for bitcoins, two years later buys a condo" is probably going to stick longer than "Shady Bitcoin bank corners the market and creates a catastrophic bubble".
Part of this is because of the nature of cryptocurrencies, in my rather amateurish opinion when it comes to such things: They are comparatively easy to establish and create; people can buy into them from the comfort of their seats/toilets; governments still can't decide how to regulate them or even if to regulate them at all (I think it was the Japanese Central Bank the one who basically said "We have no idea how to handle these things, because there is no precedent in the law"). That means the entry barrier is low enough for people who have no idea what they are doing (or, worse, people who have a mistaken idea of what they are doing) to jump into the next Buttcoin, which in turn creates a tempting enough fishing bowl for those who do know how to handle the market to cash from it.
While I agree that you can't fool the same market too many times in rapid succession, I don't think we know what the actual market for future Bitcoin-likes is going to be. Additionally, if the market doesn't really know how they got fooled the first time, it's hard to expect it will know how to defend the next time. And people will still want to make money, so you are bound to get someone investing and thinking they got it sorted out. Until they don't.
Here in Chile, the standard breaks for schools goes as follows:
-Summer Vacations: From December 5/19 - March 3 (the exact start date depends on the type of establishment)
-Holy Week (Easter): April 18 - April 19
-Worker's Day: May 1
-Glories of the Navy: May 21
-St. Peter & St. Paul: June 29
-Day of the Virgin of Carmen: July 16
-Winter Vacations: July 14 - July 28
-Assumption of the Virgin: August 15
-Commemoration of the First National Assembly: September 18
-Glories of the Army: September 19
-Discovery of America/Columbus Day/Day of the Races/Encounter Between Two Worlds: October 12
-Day of the Evangelical and Protestant Churches: October 31
-All Saints Day: November 1
-Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin: December 8
There are a couple of additional school breaks in the regions of Arica (northernmost part of the country) and O'Higgins (south-central Chile) commemorating, respectively, the War of the Pacific (June 7) and the Birth of the Hero of the Fatherland (August 20).
Note that Christmas and New Year are both legal breaks, but for school kids both are already contained within their summer vacations.
Orfamay Quest wrote:
But that doesn't mean some people won't find a use for it. Bitcoin, even if it's now showing its weaknesses and risks, still made a lot of money for some of those who dabbled in it, and there seems to be no specific condition forbidding a Buttcoin from doing the same. New strategies will be developed, old strategies will be reused, and a cycle will start again (probably a lot of parallel cycles are already starting/going on).
Whether that will ultimately lead to a crisis of the system or push it toward a more structurally stable form, remains to be seen.
Played with it a bit. While the initial impression was nice, it became less favourable as time progressed.
Then again, I've burned myself away by jumping into more than a dozen MMO's at launch, so I've grown quite skeptical in general.
At this point, honestly, I'm just occasionally playing WoW/Guild Wars 2 while I wait to see if the two PFO kickstarters I backed produce something good.
Might check out Wildstar out of curiosity, however.
Recently into Open Beta, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is a mixture of Dungeon Keeper and Diablo, where you both build a castle full of traps and monsters and attack those of other players in order to steal their belongings.
When you first connect, you get to choose one of three characters to play (a fourth one is available if you purchase a special pack): Blackeye Bogwart (The Archer), Sir Painhammer (The Knight), and The Earl of Evilosity (The Mage). Each has 3 different skill sets that you can mix to create your playstyle, and then everything else is defined by gear.
Once the character is chosen, you build your first -and modest- castle, by choosing different rooms to attach to each other (though there are two basic rooms -entrance and boss/treasure- that must always be included) and then fill them with various kinds of creatures and traps. You have a "defense rating" which limits the amount of challenges your castle can have, which can be increased by upgrading the castle (which also gives you access to new types of monsters/traps, new types of rooms, new items for your character, etc).
In order to build and improve your castle, you need Gold and Life Force; you get some of it from mines you build inside your castle, but for the most part you need to attack other people's lairs to get it. Part of the loot is generated by monsters/traps you defeat (which cost the defending player nothing), and another part comes from the owner's personal coffers (though these can only be plundered every 8 hours). In addition, conquering a castle takes Crowns from the defender and gives them to you. I'm still not completely sure what are Crowns for, but they seem to determine your ranking. You lose Crowns if you get killed at a castle or if your own castle is conquered.
Note that you don't have to actually be there to defend; attacks happen on their own and then you are informed when a player is succesful/gets defeated. However, before your castle's defenses can be tested, you need to be able to defeat them yourself, in what's called a Validation; if you fail to validate your castle, then your latest changes won't be encountered by other players. Validation also sets the "Target Timer" for your castle: If you take 3 minutes to finish it, then other players get extra Crowns from you if they beat it in less than 3 minutes.
The game has a decidedly humorous tone (it takes place in the Realm of Opulencia -though the technical terms used by Opulencians to refer to their country is "Prestige Feudal Heroism Community"-, where a real-state crisis forced people to take their castles into the sky, and where everyone constantly steals from everyone else, keeping the tiny sky-nation in perpetual conflict.
So far I've been having a blast playing it. The graphics are quite nice, the music is excellent, and the pace is frantic.
You can get is for free on Steam or UPlay.
Loggers can help a lot if the incentives and regulations are used properly.
Here in Chile, for instance, where about 1/4 of the country is covered in cold, evergreen, millennial forests and with a very important wood industry, an extensive campaign between the State, NGOs and the logging industry has allowed not only for de-forestation to come to a stop, but in fact the forests have been growing back; native woodlands have expanded more than 500,000 hectares (about 1.2 million acres) in the last 3 years.
It took a long time and a bucketload of work, but finally we're at a point were about 90% of the forests are completely protected by wildlife reserves and the logging industry managed to create big enough tree farms that it can stay viable without touching the remaining 10% that's not protected.
But you still need State oversight and a well-organized industry for such a thing to work, because even if the large loggers are all in with the forest recovery (and, gladly enough, they have been), you still run the risk of the smaller ones or the newcomers to go their own way without some proper guidance and regulation.
-I think most of what we currently see as impending crisis will be managed (though new ones will probably appear). Though past information cannot predict the future, so far all Malthusian Catastrophes have been handled (often by quite large factors of success) by the same method: Big problem causes big incentives to solve them and the resulting technical/social reconfigurations end offering solutions that far surpass previous expectations.
-While we probably will have bases in other planets, I don't think we'll be inhabiting them in any significant number. Instead, human population will have long since stabilized and resource management will be considerably better, allowing for a lot of the current problems mistakenly perceived as planetary overpopulation to be better handled (we're not overpopulated; we're missmanaged).
-Power generation will probably default into either a more perfected version of what we already have or switch into a more efficient type yet to be invented. Solar/wind/tidal energy will probably remain as a small percentage of the total output.
-New materials will allow for construction techniques that in turn will lead into great advances in energy and resource efficiency. Also, we'll be seeing some pretty crazy designs.
-Global organisms like the UN will probably still exist (maybe under a different name, just like the UN replaced the League of Nations), but will be taking a second seat. Regional organizations will be the ones leading the international landscape, creating a more stable system of international checks & balances while at the same time enjoying a bigger degree of legitimacy, since they will be able to better represent the cultural and geopolitical interests of their respective domains.
-Still, nations will still exist and function in a similar manner as they do today. I think citizens will be far more engaged in the day-to-day running of the country as communications make decision-making and the sharing of information efficient enough to make most of the rigid bureaucratic structures less necessary. While I'm sure some new experiments in governance will appear, I think the general principle of representative democracy will more or less be the same (though probably with a higher degree of direct democracy).
-I believe the dominant economic model will remain as a capitalist free market; better communication technology will make the free flow of information much better, in turn making markets more efficient at stomping out anomalies like unnatural monopolies. At the same time, speculative trading will become less and less significant, since that business depends on the asymetry of information.
I try to avoid taking things too seriously or personal. A lot of the actual message (particularly the metacommunicative aspects like tone and innuendo) is lost on the internet, so I try to assume people mean well.
At the same time, I understand some people will cry flood from a faulty spigot and can get easily carried away by heated debates, and that exaggeration and overreaction are everywhere, so I count to 10 before typing things I might regret later and generally just try to avoid getting myself worked up.
Not to say I'm immune to it or that I don't fall into the same group at times, but I try not to.
My group really enjoys "smalltalk roleplay"; shopping for even the tiniest thing often leads into extended scenes. The fact these guys are also willing to haggle even when giving alms to the poor also adds to the matter.
And I have to say I love it. I'm not sure I'd love it with any group, but with these guys it really works and adds a huge amount of colour to the story.
Since I DM in a very open-ended style where the story is basically a proposal that leaves a lot of room for player agency, the guys try to squeeze every inch of flavour from the setting. Even though this usually forces me to improvise a lot, it's also a great way for new plot hooks and NPCs to spring to life unexpectedly.
It's not that our games are nothing but endless Thees and Thous, however; I personally favour a highly dynamic and cinematic style of DMing, filled with explosions, crashing ships, and dramatic villanous appearances, and the party loves playing those kinds of stories and give their best. However, at the same time there is no such thing as fast-forwarding, because my players try to use every single moment to roleplay the lives of their characters, be it discussing with the barmaids or debating amongst themselves (in fact, intra-party roleplaying often takes the bulk of the time).
I think it makes every moment of the game more memorable and allows for players to explore and showcase the more mundane aspects of their characters.
1% is the usual expected if the person only pours gas; 3% is the standard when the guy also performs an additional service (like washing your windows). It's also customary to hand over a bigger tip if you strike a conversation with the guy (I personally always do, so it's always the full tip for me).
Self-service is usually an option in most stations (and generally including some sort of discount to encourage people to use them), but at least one pump must always be serviced by someone.
Note: Keep in mind I don't live in the US, though, so I'm not sure if the same general principles apply to gas stations over there.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
I can't speak for every religious person, but for me at least, it's not about copy-pasting; it's about sharing a common faith that I came to realise was what I truly believe in. The religious aspect is the cultural expression of that shared belief.
I always tip, unless the service was really, really poor. And even then I might feel guilty and tip anyway.
Around here in Chile, tips are a standard 10% for most services (law requires the tip to be indicated in the bill, but it is not mandatory to pay it), except in places like gas stations, where the standard is somewhere between 1 and 3%. I usually leave 20% on those places were I go frequently enough that the waiters know my name, or when the service has been particularly excellent.
While I've seen the occasional non-tipper, it is a very rare occurence. Understandably, it's often tourists the ones whom I've seen leaving no tip.
Correction: We are the hands typing messages in your head. We're like an old-fashioned consciousness or something.
Also: You should really get the apple pie tomorrow. Just sayin'.
Tin Foil Yamakah wrote:
Thinking about a new monster, chihuahua swarm
Chihuaha Shakes (Ex): The chihuahua swarm begins trembling with utter internal nervousness, causing every creature with an Intelligence score of 4 or higher to feel really bad about attacking it unless it succeeds at a Will saving throw with a DC of 16 (the save DC is based on the chihuahua swarm's Defenselessness score). A creature who succeeds at the save can attack the swarm normally, but deep down knows he's a horrible, horrible [insert race] being.