Tacos with ground pork, black beans, and acorn squash.

People who consider vegetarian or veganism for environmental or animal welfare reasons should also consider the venerable practice of stretching meat. For example, these tacos were filled with a mixture of ground pork, black beans, and textured vegetable protein (TVP). TVP is a soy product with a texture – but not flavor – very similar to that of ground meat, meaning that it substitutes well for ground meat in dishes that are heavily spiced, or that also contain some meat to provide flavor.



Mass exposure to prison.

From comments at Thing of Things:

There has been some criticism recently of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.  See, for example, Vox:


However, Brookings (and Ozy) points out that if you reframe the problem from “mass incarceration” to “mass exposure to prison”, the War on Drugs retakes primary importance:


Addiction, time preference, and intrusive thoughts.

I’m having a hard time finding time to write new blog posts lately, so I’m going to start scavenging things I’ve written informally.

I was talking with someone the other day about whether it’s useful to model addiction as a rational behavior.  Now, I’m torn as to whether to even use the word “rational” in this way, because the word also has normal-English-language connotations beyond its narrow use by economists and philosophers.  So maybe the better way to ask the question – a way that makes it clear we’re using technical jargon – as “Can we model addiction through time preference?”
Continue reading

Some thoughts on the design of sandbox games.

I’ve been neglecting the blog while working on game development, and I’m not really okay with that.  So I’m posting on an other-than-usual topic, one that’s on my mind, rather than not post at all.

For the past two years, I’ve been working on-and-off on a game called Hecatomb.  It’s a different kind of “zombie survival” game, inspired by Dwarf Fortress.  You play a necromancer raising zombie servants and building a base in the wilderness.  It’s a “sandbox” game – like meaning there is no singular goal, other than surviving and doing cool things.

Right now my game works, but isn’t very fun because there simply isn’t that much stuff to do.  That, I think, is the secret to games that generate stories rather than having preset stories – they need to generate interest by having a wider-than-usual number of “subsystems” (loosely defined) that interact in potentially interesting ways.  Take, for example, Don’t Starve.  The way I’m thinking about it, these could all be considered subsystems: Continue reading

Things, for 8/23/17

link roundup

All the cool kids do link roundups.  I wanna be a cool kid.

  • Great Britain has some bad-ass government titles.
  • Ada Lovelace once wrote, “My Dear Babbage. I am in much dismay at having got into so amazing a quagmire & botheration with these Numbers, that I cannot possibly get the thing done today. …. I am now going out on horseback. Tant mieux,” which makes me feel crass for all the times I swear at my computer while programming.
  • If you google “Canadian political crisis,” this is the first hit.  The ruling party proposed an extreme budget; the minority parties threatened to band together and oust the ruling party, so the ruling party compromised with the centermost opposition party by making their budget less extreme, splitting the coalition.  A “crisis” in Canada sounds more functional than everyday politics in most countries.
  • Super Flavor Factories are not what you might expect.
  • In case you need this for a heated Facebook argument: Declarations of Causes of Seceding States, for Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.  Mentions “slave” or “slavery” eighty-three times, “trade” twice, “tariff” zero times.