Thoughts from Carnegie’s autobiography

When it comes to an operating framework, Andrew Carnegie is first-class. Some quick tidbits that emerged after reading his autobiography:

  • Working in trains and then steel at that point in American history put Carnegie at the center of tremendously dynamic, new and rapidly expanding industries. Regardless, Carnegie possessed huge reserves of confidence, loyalty to his employees and a willingness to work hard and take chances.
  • He was good-natured, and believed that happiness is a choice. He treated self-improvement seriously, modeled himself after Abraham Lincoln and tried to treat all men and women equally.
  • On matters of religion, he believed in it and didn’t judge it, but condemned very strongly what he calls “theologies” – excessive clinging to dogma which he found useless and shallow.
  • Carnegie learned to argue and debate when young, and later realized nothing taught him more clearly how to focus intensely on a topic, because of the research involved in winning an argument.
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A new critique of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church should work hard to outpace – or at least equal – Silicon Valley when it comes to providing services to those in need, according to The Jesuit Review. Simply put, the Church used to be the best at this, it should be the best at this, and it frankly isn’t even competing anymore, so it shouldn’t be surprised at its lackluster results.

The criticism lands with devastation precision because it’s not so much criticism, as it is holding the Church to a higher standard. Per the author:

None of the most innovative endeavors in any field where the Catholic Church competes—for we do compete, whether we are aware or not—come from us, whether that is in education (Khan Academy, Udacity, alt:school, One Laptop Per Child, Minerva Project, Harlem Children’s Zone), health care (Mayo Clinic, Sherpaa, Practice Fusion, Breakthrough), media (YouVersion, Wikipedia, social networking), development (International Justice Mission, the microfinance revolution, social venture firms like Acumen) or scientific research (Human Dx, M.I.T., Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab); the list goes on and on.

Further, that

pagans converted to Christianity en masse because it offered meaningful, tangible change to their quality of life and circumstances. This is not cheating; it is the church’s job. If we are beaten in the battle for world-healing, we should not be the least bit surprised we are being beaten in the battle for souls.

The full article is here.

Munchkin variants

Munchkin games often take forever to resolve, because of PVP attacks near end-game. These Munchkin variants change that and also remove the PVP aspect. The set I’m using is the Marvel base set, along with one of the Marvel set expansions. The rules could likely be tweaked for other sets.

Infinity Dungeons Munchkin

Gameplay description: Players scramble to tank up as quickly as possible, in order to invade a series of dungeons to win infinity gems. Expect to die a lot in this version as successful risks are highly-rewarded.

Preparation:

  1. Separate all affiliation cards into a separate pile. Separate all monsters into a separate pile. Separate all infinity gems into a separate pile.
  2. Place 3 dungeon cards side by side, facedown. Next to the first dungeon card, play 5 facedown monster cards and three facedown infinity gems. Next to the second facedown dungeon card, play 4 facedown monster cards and 2 facedown infinity gems. Next to the final facedown dungeon card, place 3 facedown monster cards and one facedown infinity gem.
  3. Shuffle all the monster cards back into the door deck.
  4. Deal each player 4 treasure and 4 door cards, per the normal Munchkin rules.

Gameplay:

Play Munchkin normally, with a few new rules:

  • Players cannot attack each other or interfere with combat in any way (they can steal levels, however)
  • Players start at level 4.
  • Dungeons are only used in boss fights (see below)
  • At the start of a player’s turn, he can decide to go into one of the three dungeons, flipping up the monster cards and the dungeon cards. All effects apply to the player and he must face the monsters alone. If he dies, all his gear is left in the dungeon, he loses the rest of his cards and powers and affiliation, and starts back at level 4. The dungeon and monster cards stay face-up. If the player wins, he gains the infinity gems and a level.
  • There is no level cap – players can keep ascending in level past level 10.
  • Portal cards that change the dungeon will replace the “boss dungeons.”


Nova Death Munchkin

Gameplay Description: You play as SHIELD soldiers attempting to rescue the Avengers from Avengers Mansion – but with a much higher level of difficulty, death is much more common. You’ll find it exceedingly difficult to be the first to reach level 10. 

Preparation:

  1. Separate into individual piles: all affiliation cards, all power cards, and all monsters lower than level 10.
  2. Separate all “go up a level cards” into a separate pile and remove from the game.
  3. Separate all allies who are, or have been members of the Avengers and remove them from the game.

Gameplay:

Rules are the same as traditional Munchkin, with a few modifications:

  • Players cannot attack each other or interfere with combat in any way (they can steal levels, however).
  • Players cannot help each other.
  • Players start at level 4, and the winner is the first player to reach level 10.
  • To start, each player chooses one affiliation, and randomly draws a power.
  • Players can have a maximum of three powers, irrespective of rank. Random powers are assigned randomly at level 4, 5 and 6, whenever the player goes up a level.
  • Losing a battle results in permanent death.
  • Anytime a Wandering Monster card is drawn, draw three monsters from the low-level deck. The player must fight all three monsters. If he wins, he gets one treasure and one level, and if he loses, he dies.

Optional Rule:

  1. Remove half the item cards from the game beforehand.

Productivity Tools

  • Alfred – control everything from your keyboard
  • ColdTurkey – restrict websites to certain times of day.
  • SocialFixer – restrict your Facebook feed, cut out inflammatory virtue signaling

And some tricks:

“No screens in the bedroom” – tip from David Karp, founder of Tumblr. That goes for cell phones, too.

Preferences / Night Shift on the Mac > switches display preferences to maximize sleep