Sunday, January 31, 2016

030: Stormtrooper Economics

img_20160130_180743-01.jpegHow much are stormtroopers paid? Do they get medical benefits and vacation leave? I posted this question on Reddit and got a glimpse into the workings of the Galactic Empire. Those issues are never taken up in the movies, the stormtroopers there simply being henchmen and laser fodder. But apparently they've been tackled in the Expanded Universe novels, games, and Star Wars: Rebels. There were two general threads in the answers, one of which was wrong, but still interesting. Head on over if you want to know what I know now.

And, yes, you now also know my Reddit handle.

Some work can just suck you in. I was building a questionnaire in LaTeX and working through the various options. LaTeX can be arcane, but that's what makes it so fun. I started in the morning and had to pull myself away in the late afternoon so I could enjoy the Saturday.

I'm already at about 200 Chinese characters in Memrise. I can't believe how good this system is. I am addicted. I have given up playing games on my phone. Whenever I have free time, I am flipping through the language drills.

What makes Memrise Chinese so effective for me is the emphasis on the characters and the pronunciation. I used to think the best way was to begin with conversation, but this is exactly the opposite. And instead of starting with what you normally think would be the essentials, like 我, Memrise starts with the most fundamental strokes and builds up from that. Chinese has its own sensible logic for building up characters. My favorite is the character for shadow, 影, which consists of the characters for sun 日 and capital 京 with some added streaks 彡. Sun, shining over the capital city, produces streaks: shadow!

Interestingly, I am also doing my Duolingo Spanish simultaneously. I thought I would have difficulty doing the two together, as if one would mix up with the other, but that has not been the case. It's as if the Spanish and Chinese occupy two different parts of my brain. Perhaps it's because with my Spanish I'm still doing some direct one-to-one translations from English (although for some phrases I am starting to move away from that), but with Chinese, I am focusing on the sounds and pictures. I guess it helps, too, that my Chinese is still at a much less developed stage than my Spanish.

Anyway, it's all awesome.