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Power Modern Grid Art

Materials: One copy of Power Grid, one copy of Modern Art.
Players: Three to five.
Time: Two hours? Probably more the first time.


  1. Turn order is clockwise. On your turn you choose whether to play a turn of Modern Art or Power Grid. A Modern Art turn is a painting being offered for sale; a Power Grid turn is one of 'determine turn order', 'buy power plants', 'buy raw materials', 'building', or 'bureaucracy'. It being 'your turn' has no other effects. After one subgame has finished, all other turns are of the remaining subgame. Neither subgame is scored until both are finished.
  2. Players may trade Modern Art and Power Grid money at any time, choosing whatever exchange rate they like. Other trades, like paying someone to play a specific painting or bid on a specific plant, are still not allowed.
  3. The winner is the player with the lowest summed rank. If Pat comes in 1st in Power Grid and 3rd in Modern Art then their summed rank is 4. Ties are broken by the person with the most money, summing final amounts for both games.
I haven't tried it, but I'd like to.

full post...

Disability Weights

If you're talking to two people, one with a small cut and another with multiple sclerosis, everyone present will agree that having multiple sclerosis is much worse. If you offered the two of them some magic option that would restore exactly one of them to full health, they would probably be able to agree on who should get it. But in general, how should we compare across people to figure out whose situation is worse, who would benefit more from treatment and who, everything else being equal, should be treated first? This example was easy because the difference was nice and large, but what do we do in harder cases?

One is to ask people questions like "if there were a surgery that could restore you to full health (without improving your lifespan) but had a 20% chance of killing you, would you take it?" If they say "yes" then this indicates that this disability, for this person, is more than 20% as bad as being dead. Ask these "standard gamble" questions to a lot of people with a lot of disabilities, varying the percentages, and you could build up a list of how bad different ones are, all on a common scale.

This would useful for balancing projects against each other, figuring out what to focus on, and generally setting funding priorities. Unfortunately people are really bad at answering questions like this. more...


Policies that would probably make us a lot better off: more...

SAT Coaching: What Effect Size?

In a discussion on Steven Pinker's piece advocating more reliance on academic qualifications for college admission and specifically test scores, two former SAT tutors objected to his claim that test prep courses "increase scores by a trifling seventh of a standard deviation (with most of the gains in the math component)": more...

Fixing a DI Box

I have a cheap passive DI box I use to get a balanced signal out of instruments like keyboards which would otherwise get distorted signals on long cable runs. When the Free Raisins were on tour and I was using the DI box with my footboard we started getting horrible crackling noises. I put away the DI and planned to fix it when I got home. [1] Yesterday I got it out and looked at it:

There's a screw missing on the mic jack. This is bad: without the support of the screws the force of plugging in cables is going to get through to the solder joints on the circuit board, which are not strong enough.

Opening it up, here's the circuit board:

It's an incredibly simple design. On the left we have a pair of input jacks connected in parallel. Above them there's a switch to control how much atenuation you want, which just switch the signal between a no-resistance, medium-resistance, and high-resistance path. Then theres the transformer in the middle, which converts high-impedance unbalanced input into low-impedance balanced output. On the right we have the xlr jack where the signal goes out, and above that we have the "ground lift" switch that chooses whether the ground pin of the xlr cable gets connected to the ground of the DI box.

Let's look closer at the xlr jack pins, which I was already suspecting were the problem:

A good solder joint is smooth, but the center pin here isn't. There's a little circular crack around the lead. After using a soldering iron to reflow this joint, and the other two xlr joints just in case, we have: more...

Sleeping in Darkness

Babies need ~11hr of sleep each night and tend to wake somewhat with the sun, so a common schedule is a bedtime around 7pm and then waking up around 6am. Talking to people about infant sleep they generally say to just get used to the baby waking up early and to adopt an earlier schedule for yourself. Julia is back to work, however, so an early schedule means almost no overlap with Lily's waking hours. Six is also a lot earlier than I would like to wake up, given the option. What can we do?

Any 11hr period should be about the same to Lily if she's given the time to adjust gradually, since at five months old she's certainly not telling time yet. We tried simply pushing Lily's bed time later, but she kept waking up at about six. We have good thick curtains on the windows but still enough light gets through that it stops feeling like night by ~6am. Perhaps she's just going to wake up with the sun?

So I put tinfoil on all the window panes:


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