Pyramid Scheme

No, but seriously. I hear all this talk about economic growth being the key factor in recovering from the economic recession. But how can the economy constantly grow? Population isn’t increasing that much except in third-world countries, and we have pretty much tapped into all the natural resources available to us. How is a model of economics based off of growth remotely sustainable? Obviously I am no economist, but here is what I see: we have been building up a market economy and globalizing for the past two centuries. All of this growth and expansion has been based on the principle of exploiting other locations. We used other countries that had different supplies and demands as leverage to boost our own economy. With the exhaustion of new sources of raw materials (metals and lumber and oil are getting scarcer and scarcer) and the homogenization of the global market, how can we possibly hope to maintain this economic disparity which lets us grow. Now, I will admit that there are still developing nations and a growing global population. But what happens when the global population tops out at 10 billion (see below) and all regions reach a certain standard of living expectation?



If anybody is economist, could you please explain whether or not this model is unsustainable, and if so why we subscribe to it.

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Tekkit Sucks

There is a set of Minecraft mod packs that includes Tekkit and Technic. You may have seen these showcased in a number of venues, including a popular Yogscast series. Let me just get this straight. Tekkit is stupid. It was obviously designed by someone who looked at Minecraft and said, “I’m going to make this the best game ever.” Unfortunately, they merely succeeded in creating a hodge-podge of mods which take away from the core of Minecraft.

The gluttony of blocks in Tekkit.

The gluttony of blocks in Tekkit.



But what is the core of Minecraft, really? Ultimately, Minecraft is what you make it. I say that unironically, even though I’m about to tell you how it should be. Minecraft has always been a great source of surprise. Legions of Youtube videos outline hundreds of crazy contraptions and structures that use the basic mechanics of the Minecraft universe to form impressive and surprising constructions.

Nearly every feature in Minecraft has a way of being exploited to perform tasks that the creators never even fathomed. Beyond the basic mechanics such as crafting and smelting, the use of a feature is mostly left up to the user. Fluids, redstone, minecarts, TNT, signs- must I go on? But really that was the appeal to begin with. You can create completely new contraptions within a very simple set of game rules.

This is why I think many of the features Notch added in later updates- wolves, potions, dragons, the End- run contrary to the spirit of the game. It’s OK to add elements to expand the exploratory, adventuring parts of the game. But when that threatens to push the creative, inventive part of the game into the shadows, I think the developers need to re-evaluate their priorities. Minecraft was never prized for its combat, or adventure. It became popular because the game allowed players to invent their own set of rules and develop the world how they liked. When the developer takes the reigns and decides the end-goal FOR the player, something has gone awry.

For the same reasons, I absolutely despise Tekkit. I can see the good intentions behind it, but it completely fails at its mission. A group of people, perhaps, with no sense for the game, were intrigued by how much could be done in Minecraft. But they thirsted for more. So they set out and gathered mods which let them do what they wanted. Pipes let them transport items, tanks let them store fluid, pumps let them suck it up, engines and solar panels gave them electricity, quarries let them automate mining, and energy condensers let them get any material they needed. To make it more “balanced”, they added a larger set of materials needed to build these contraptions, including rubber, and tons of new ores. Furthermore, a control system was needed, so they put a programmable computer in. A computer that ran Lisp scripts. And you loaded the scripts from outside Minecraft. They needed more power, so they added uranium and a nuclear reactor.

Suddenly, it wasn’t Minecraft anymore. It was a horrifying maze of features that was no longer surprising. Sure, people could build fascinating things that were intricate and took enormous amounts of time. But it wasn’t really surprising anymore. A nerd with a computer and a huge set of physical actuators can obviously accomplish a lot, whether the computer is in a videogame or not. The appeal of Minecraft was that nobody thought building a ALU was really possible when it started out. Half the crazy contraptions were for accumulating resources: automated farms ranging from chickens to monsters to reeds to cobblestone to snow. With the energy condenser, nobody needed ice pipelines or chicken friers. Sure, you could still build them. But there was no point. Oh, you built an automated oil refinery? All it takes is pipes, pumps, and refineries. The blocks are all there. That’s the only thing a refinery is used for.

Blocks only have one purpose, even if that is a broad purpose. Engines power pipes and quarries and pumps. Fuel goes into combustion engines. Refineries make fuel. Pumps suck up liquid. Quarries dig. Seriously, you make a single block, which then automatically digs. You can also add a pump to it if you want it to suck up water and lava. But there is no design for you to modify. You can’t make it more efficient, or irregular, or spray water on lava. You can’t build a giant engine room which is twice as efficient due to interlocking designs. You can’t build a computer, since there is already one built. Want to spray some construction foam over everything to make it blast-resistant? Boom, done. Need a nuclear reactor? There’s a block for that. Want to make it bigger? Sorry, you can add on extra chambers, but only up to six. It outputs a high-voltage. You need to make a very specific set of blocks, each of which steps the voltage down one level.

Again, this violates the very essence of Minecraft. That’s why I developed a plan for a comprehensive mod that allows most of the same functionality of Tekkit, but goes much, much further. I will cover this mod in a future post, or probably multiple posts.

Absence

No, I haven’t died, and I haven’t forgot about this blog. But it suffered from a synergy of things. The lack of posts was kicked off by a week long vacation. And the start of school has brought less thinking time, more work, and a berth of people upon which I can unload my thoughts and get instant feedback. This blog was, originally, a place where the ideas that kept circulating in my thoughts could find an outlet of expression. But with many of those original ideas explored, and not many new ideas coming about, I am usually at a loss of topics. Another harmful factor was that I had become more and more concerned about whether my post was coherent, engaging, and adhering to the guidelines of good grammar and writing. Unfortunately, this was never supposed to be a place to put refined written pieces, it was supposed to be a repository of 30 minute heat-of-the-moment explorations into one line of thought. Granted, I did hope it would help me improve my off-the-cuff writing style, but editing was still supposed to be minimal. Lastly, I became rather obsessive over readership. This should have set immediate alarm bells off in my head. I started out with a vow to never try to gain a readership. This was going to be purely about me. Now, I’m going to try to return to that mindset. I do not apologize in advance for any incomprehensible posts that appear to have come from the middle of a train of thought.

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