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This paper seems to hint that one of the reason to use slaves was the Black Plague, which naturally created a shortage of labour.

The repercussions of plague and warfare rather than technological stagnation and Mamluk misrule led to the decline of sugar production in the Levant, but lands farther west also suffered from war and plague. In the western Mediterranean encouragment of and investment in the sugar industry overcame the loss of labor. The decline of such major producers as Egypt and Palestine left a gap in the sugar trade which other states endeavored to fill. Venice and Genoa, deprived of their lands in the Levant, actively supported the development of the industry elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The Cypriot and Cretan industries expanded in the fourteenth century and . - flourished in the fifteenth. The purchase of slaves is only one example of investment in the industry. An increase in production in Granada, where the Genoese played an important role in the trade, converted this last Moorish kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula into a virtual colonial territory. The Genoese also attempted to establish sugar cultivation in the Algarve and became heavily involved in the industry in the Canaries and Madeira.

It also talks about the origin of said slaves, which seems to confirm your views.

Estates on Crete and Cyprus differed from those in Muslim countries in that demesne land was much more extensive and the corvee was an important source of labor. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, agricultural labor on these islands was scarce because of the ravages of war and plague. A response to this shortage was the increasing use of slave labor. Even before the Black Death in 1348, slaves were being imported to Crete and Cyprus, but later slavery became even more significant. The slaves were from varied national backgrounds: Greeks, Bulgarians, Turkish prisoners of war, and Tartars brought from the shores of the Black Sea.

I have seen in other sources something similar to what you hint at, that the Portuguese traders started to use slaves from West Africa in Brazil, and this, with the Caribbean sugar plantations, led to the downfall of the sugar industry in the Mediterranean, which was just too expensive and prone to problems, being too far north for this type of tropical crop. I also couldn't find any sources talking about social effects of this European slave routes.

Reference: http://www.rogerlouismartinez.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/mediterreanean-sugar.pdf

I read Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse and it's pretty good, if you like zombies. It's fast-paced, good writing, and it's purely decisions, no dice rolls or stats to track. The author has another one, Highway to Hell, which is very good according to this review.

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Brace yourself. This is going to be a long one.

A bit of background. I recently picked up House of Hell for a reread. I haven't looked at FF books in around 20 years I'm guessing but I was curious to see how they had aged. House of Hell was one of my favorites growing up and as far as I remember, one of the deadliest. I spent a bit with it and I inevitably died embraced by a vampire. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it aged quite well. I'm in my mid-30s and apart from some cheesy names I felt the writing and the environment were pretty good. Because I'm a bit of a data nerd I took to the interwebz to find out more about the whole series and figure out if my memory served me right. Kudos to the owner of this website which allowed me to spend a few hours enamored with the flowcharts.

A few notes on the data:

  • I took the number of decisions resulting in death from the flowcharts on the page above. I obviously didn't include combat death.
  • I didn't read all books. I own 30 of them and I read another one borrowed from a friend, many years ago. I think this qualifies me as a long time fan despite having read less than half of the series (there are 67 original titles currently). Maybe this is a good excuse to get the rest.
  • Number of decisions that result in death doesn't necessarily correlate with being a harder adventure. Example: the usual number of paragraphs is 400 and if we have 50 paragraphs resulting in death that's 12.5% of the book telling you you're dead. But this doesn't make it necessarily harder because the book might have a lot of decisions in general. Some books are more linear than others. If one of the books has a complex flowchart with lots of decisions, it might be ok to have a higher number of decisions resulting in death without making it necessarily harder. Plus, some of the early Livingstone books had you collect items without necessarily being dead, just to find out at the end that you didn't win because you're missing an item. At least that is my impression.
  • I counted all decisions leading to death. Some books will reuse paragraphs that result in death. Example: paragraph 123 results in death and the book tells you to go there from two distinct paragraphs in the story. This counts as 2 decisions leading to death and not 1.

Now, to the answer to my question. Take a look for yourself. I compiled a table that shows for each book the number of decisions ending in death and the number of possible endings:

Title Deaths Completions
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain 6 1
The Citadel of Chaos 21 1
The Forest of Doom 3 1
Starship Traveller 12 1
City of Thieves 10 1
Deathtrap Dungeon 32 1
Island of the Lizard King 10 1
Scorpion Swamp 15 5
Caverns of the Snow Witch 25 1
House of Hell 20 1
Talisman of Death 13 1
Space Assassin 20 1
Freeway Fighter 34 1
Temple of Terror 24 1
The Rings of Kether 21 1
Seas of Blood 39 1
Appointment with F.E.A.R. 17 1
Rebel Planet 47 1
Demons of the Deep 23 2
Sword of the Samurai 29 1
Trial of Champions 42 1
Robot Commando 35 3
Masks of Mayhem 49 1
Creature of Havoc 49 1
Beneath Nightmare Castle 48 1
Crypt of the Sorcerer 46 1
Star Strider 46 1
Phantoms of Fear 31 1
Midnight Rogue 26 1
Chasms of Malice 41 1
Battleblade Warrior 20 1
Slaves of the Abyss 46 1
Sky Lord 34 1
Stealer of Souls 8 1
Daggers of Darkness 23 1
Armies of Death 33 1
Portal of Evil 36 1
Vault of the Vampire 21 1
Fangs of Fury 13 1
Dead of Night 26 1
Master of Chaos 13 1
Black Vein Prophecy 59 1
The Keep of the Lich Lord 18 1
Legend of the Shadow Warriors 24 1
Spectral Stalkers 26 1
Tower of Destruction 6 1
The Crimson Tide 37 1
Moonrunner 32 1
Siege of Sardath 61 3
Return to Firetop Mountain 32 1
Island of the Undead 12 1
Night Dragon 8 1
Spellbreaker 40 1
Legend of Zagor 13 1
Deathmoor 44 1
Knights of Doom 29 1
Magehunter 30 1
Revenge of the Vampire 28 1
Curse of the Mummy 36 1
Eye of the Dragon 23 1
Bloodbones 32 1
Howl of the Werewolf 23 1
Stormslayer 6 1
Night of the Necromancer 11 1
Blood of the Zombies 38 1
The Port of Peril
The Gates of Death

A few conclusions:

  • The deadliest adventure is Siege of Sardath! With a whopping 61 decisions that will result in your death, does it make it the hardest adventure in the series? (disclaimer: I didn't read it)
  • The top deadliest adventures, according to this metric, are Siege of Sardath, Black Vein Prophecy, Masks of Mayhem, Creature of Havoc, Beneath Nightmare Castle, Rebel Planet, Crypt of the Sorcerer, Star Strider, Slaves of the Abyss, Deathmoor, Trial of Champions, Chasms of Malice, Spellbreaker. I read 8 out of these 13 which have at least 40 death decisions. I didn't read the two top ones, which are really the outliers with the remaining 11 titles between 40 and 49 deaths.
  • Out of the other 11, I agree that Masks of Mayhem was quite deadly (down to the last encounter), Beneath Nightmare Castle and Rebel Planet also being quite hard, especially this second one for me. The surprise was Star Strider. I don't remember it being particularly hard.
  • House of Hell is not that deadly! I'm amazed that The Citadel of Chaos has more decisions resulting in death than House of Hell. I still hold that House of Hell is very hard, but maybe that's just me. What do you think?
  • I always thought that Forest of Doom was very easy and the best book for a newbie. I'm glad to learn that this still holds. It's a good quest, but quite basic and you had to work hard to get yourself killed.
  • Looking at the early titles from Livingstone and Jackson (UK), we can see that Deathtrap Dungeon's reputation as a deadly adventure was rightly earned. This is closely followed by The Caverns of the Snow Witch. How did that one sneak up there? I remember it as a long quest but not a particularly hard or deadly one.
  • The original books are all easier. If we look at the lowest number of deaths for all of them, we can see that the early books in the series usually clock in under 20 decisions that end up in death. There aren't that many titles that have that amount of death decisions later in the series.
  • Quite the contrary. We start seeing a high number of death decisions after the first 15 books. Freeway Fighter and Seas of Blood (disclaimer: I haven't read any of these two) seem to be tricky to win and they took Deathtrap Dungeon as the deadliest early in the series, but from that point on we have routine numbers of death decisions above 30.
  • Almost all books only have one ending. This makes sense. Fighting Fantasy built its brand on finding the one true path to success through the adventure. Other CYOA brands offer multiple endings, some good, some bad, but FF stuck to this format most of the time. Love it or leave it (I think you know on which field I am).
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14 comments

What a great post. Thanks for all the time you put into this.

While the number of insta-deaths is a good indicator of difficulty, I feel there are other Game Over moments that are not represented by these numbers.

For instance, Chasms of Malice has a mechanic where rolling snake eyes during combat is an instant death (as far as I recall).

Many of Livingstone's adventures have ridiculous 'shopping lists', where failing to collect even one of a dozen items means you won't make it to 400. Didn't turn over that one particular rock and find the golden ring? Sorry kiddo, back to the beginning.

Others are notorious for combat difficulty, e.g. Jonathan Green's titles where you regularly fight SK 10 / ST 10 enemies. Bad initial rolls mean you stand virtually no chance of victory.

I wonder if some of these books should actually get rewritten and rebalanced, rather than just printed verbatim every few years. A lot of their mechanics have aged quite badly, or were ridiculously broken and difficult to begin with. These are meant to be kids' books, for god sake :p

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Original Poster3 points · 4 months ago

I agree. I think the mechanics could do with a facelift. From what I read about other series (DestinyQuest comes to mind) the whole 2d6 + Skill makes the combat very dependent on a single stat. The 2d6 distribution is very skewed towards the middle and forms a nice pyramid, which means that I think whatever you add on top of it usually tilts the scales when you're way over/under the opponent's skill. I think this could be a good redesign for instance but then it would be harder for people to play as d12s are not as readily available as d6s. I think the only reason gamebooks usually stick to using variations of d6 is due to the availability.

I honestly don't remember the snake eyes! Gotta go look at that one again.

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After finishing Oregon State University's MOOC Intro to Permaculture I collected all videos from the lecturers as well as all the referenced YouTube videos and made them into one playlist. Hopefully the videos will stay online. Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLH4cHLAcqduv_WxeTrpxrVm1LyeAzpgRW

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6 comments

Thank you for this! I’ve taken the course, and this is extremely handy to be able to quickly go back through all the material

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Original Poster3 points · 4 months ago

You're welcome. By the way, the course is well worth taking as there are tons of reference material to explore that is not included in the videos, so I encourage everyone to keep an eye out for the next iteration of it.

Original Poster1 point · 6 months ago

Algum background sobre o link. Como nunca consegui encontrar uma calculadora para impostos em Portugal suficientemente complexa para a minha situação e de conhecidos escrevi a minha própria e coloquei online.

Neste momento permite calcular impostos sobre rendimentos de 2017 e 2018 para todas as categorias menos mais-valias que hei-de adicionar brevemente.

Não é de todo uma ferramenta exaustiva mas considero que é bem mais fácil calcular cenários mais complicados que o típico "salário mensal com ou sem duodécimos".

Feedback é bem-vindo.

boa ferramenta OP. dá para acrescentar as opções de deficiente?

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Original Poster1 point · 6 months ago

Obrigado. Vou acrescentar a lista.

What is the difference in taxation? Only the dividend tax?

I own some vanguard etfs through a ”capital insurance” account (swedish), where I only pay taxes on the amount of capital (and the taxes on dividends withheld by the US is reimbursed by the local tax authorities, as long as it is less than what I already payed). Would there still be a difference?

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It is NOT only on dividends...in Ireland if you have a UCITS ETF you have to pay 41% tax on capital gains EVERY 8 years, even if you are not selling. It's called a deemed disposal and renders useless a buy and hold strategy in this island... Many of us circumvent this by buying the US-based ETFs which are treated as regular stock, you sell whenever you want and pay 33% capital gains tax on profits if any when selling. The fact that you now can't buy US-based ETFs fucks this buy and hold strategy for Ireland. Unless you're planning on holding for less than 8 years or you move to another country...

The environment in Ireland is not great from a taxation perspective for FI. It's good in some areas for jobs though which makes up for it. Most people I just see putting money in property and hoping it goes sky high, because they would be able to sell without paying any tax on the gains (most countries wouldn't allow this) as long as they live on it. Investing out of real estate then it's quite hard because of all the BS surrounding UCITS ETFs, so it's easier to stick with US-domiciled and pay the 33% CGT on gains (dividends will go to your total income for the year). The exemption on CGT, by the way, is 1270.

I thought the Congo was a Belgian colony?

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I think lardlad95 was referring to the historical kingdom of Kongo which is different from the current Republic of Congo. Portugal maintained control of that kingdom throughout centuries (mostly the western part) and eventually like lardlad95 said it was dissolved and the Portuguese parts of it were incorporated into Angola. If you look up a map of modern day Angola you'll find an enclave to the north called Cabinda. I think this was one of the parts that made up the kingdom of Kongo that were under Portuguese rule.

I'm from Portugal and I've lived in the USA and Ireland. I read a lot and always read in English (unless it's a Portuguese author) and I've been doing it for probably 15 years and I find that helps a lot. The first book I ever read in English from cover to cover was by Irvine Welsh, which by all accounts it's really hard to read even by native English speakers as his characters speak in Edinburgh slang. I suppose I had a lot of perseverance to go through it but in hindsight, it hardened my capabilities in detecting different styles of phrasing and speaking, so that would be my first tip, persevere and find subjects that interest you enough that a language barrier can be overcome. Notice also that I said "I suppose" which is a very Irish expression. Would I be wearing my American English hat I would have said "I guess" which brings me to my second point: Listen with intent. Most of us go about our lives listening without really listening so pay extra attention and train yourself to notice how people say things and why they say it. Someone from the Bay Area in the US will speak in a different flavour from someone who's raised in Chicago. Train yourself to those differences with movies (where's the character from, where does the movie take place) and notice the expressions too (someone from the SF Bay Area will refer to San Francisco as "the city" even though there are plenty of cities around there). Use subtitles: don't be afraid to use subtitles when needed. Coming from Portugal you already have a huge advantage that Spanish, French and other nationalities don't have in the fact that there are virtually no dubbed TV shows and movies in Portugal. When moving to Ireland I couldn't make sense of a famous TV show called Love/Hate which uses a ton of Dublin slang on top of the really thick accents so I watched it with subtitles. A few years later (yes...I took me that long) I can hold a conversation with sprinkled Dublin slang and understand really thick accents. As with everything the hearing will train itself to it if given enough opportunities. Socialising it's also important of course, I've seen my fair share of <insert nationality> students who come overseas to learn English and then spent 6 months to a year talking with their own nationality. This is completely normal and expected but being aware of it it's a big step to taking measures to address it. You don't need to reject every single Portuguese person but be aware that by living in a Portuguese bubble you're throwing away the opportunity to learn the deeply intricate aspects of a language which are only accessible with time and a lot of effort put in. Finally, know your goals and limits. Just like Portugal, the US, Ireland, UK, etc have big regional differences in dialect, slang, common words and expressions so don't expect to know it all ever. Even in Portuguese, I learn new expressions and words from my better half just because we're from different parts of the country so don't expect it to be any different with English. Good luck!

Normally ETFs are offered in different currencies (not the underlying currency for the actual assets, just the currency in which you're buying them) and they'll be offered through different exchanges. As an example, for your iShares ETF IE00B4L5Y983 I see that it's offered in 5 different exchanges:

  • Milan in EUR
  • Amsterdam in EUR
  • London in GBX
  • London in USD
  • Frankfurt in EUR

This gives you different options to buy the same ETF in different currencies. If you live in the UK you might want to buy in GBP (GBX is just the "modern" GBP with 1/100 pence) because it's more convenient for you, removing the hassle of needing to buy EUR or USD (and paying commissions). This is not to be confused with the asset currency in which the ETF holds the assets (which is important for currency risk). I believe in this case it's USD for all "flavours". If you wanted to have the same version of this ETF with a different underlying currency you would have to look for a version that says it's currency hedged to XXX.

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A Lazy Person's Guide to Happiness

You could work your butt off, pursue your purpose, become financially independent, and get there and realize “Oh, my life sucks.”

I read this today and I thought it was quite relevant for anyone pursuing FI. The expression 'financial independence' it's even in there (although in a different sort of journey to get there I believe). For me the I in FI, or more correctly, what you do with your independence it's as important, if not more, than the Financial aspect of it. I hope this interview provides some good food for thought for all of us on this path.

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3 comments

Don't know if it has been mentioned but Timeline puts up new documentaries routinely.

Unless dividends are automatically reinvested by the entity, you will pay taxes even if it goes into your brokerage account and you buy some shares with it. And the tax of capital gains and dividends can be reduced to 14,5% for the first 7k EUR, if there is no other income, by using an option called "englobamento".

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What CookieThePuss said. I would advise selling only what you need. If you're frugal enough and you're living in the country you can make a living with about 10k to 15k easily. You would have to be a resident in order to be able to avail of the "englobamento" rule but that's way better than paying 28% for everything you sell. Also, if for some reason you manage to get your income from a pension and you haven't lived in Portugal for the past 5 years you might be able to get away without paying any tax on that income. Look for the Non Habitual Resident tax status.

1 point · 11 months ago · edited 4 months ago

You didn't ask but here's a few more:

  • Ireland: 33% after the first 1270 euros for the year
  • Portugal: 28% (with the option for residents to be taxed together with all of your other income, which could be more tax effective if capital gains are your only income and under a certain value ~7k or ~8k I believe, but don't quote me on the actual value, it's better to do the math)

In Ireland, you can start taking out payments from your pension scheme (not state pension, just a private one that you can put money into reducing your tax liability with some extra money from a generous employer) at the time you're 50. This rule assumes that you no longer work for the employer that's giving you the extra money into the account.

I don't know if you can transfer your pension (is it an ISA?) from the UK to an OPS in Ireland...

Apart from a pension scheme, it's really tough to avoid taxes while investing in Ireland. You can contribute on a ladder depending on your age. The older you are the more of your income you can set aside on the pension. Apart from that, I don't know of any good investment vehicle in Ireland that is tax efficient...

I believe you only have to pay 41% if it's a EU domiciled ETF. US domiciled ETF like Vanguard's are treated as regular stock investments, which means you pay 33% on any gains, when you withdraw. One thing I am yet not sure is how dividends are treated. Using Degiro for instance you can do a W8 for US based ETFs and they'll retain 15% of dividends for tax purposes. In theory after this you're up to deal with the Revenue which I believe would require you to declare the income from dividends and they would add it to your other income (if you're at 70k that means you'll end up paying 40% PAYE, 8% USC and 4% PRSI, for a grand total of 52%, from which you can get back the 15% on the Form 12, you would have to pay an additional 37% "only"). Does anyone know if you reinvest, i.e., just buy more ETF units without ever bringing the money to the Irish account, are you still liable to declare the dividends or not?

Here's the thing, those novels brought about a great energy and renewal to the fantasy genre. It really introduce a new readership to it. I take the subway every morning and for a while all you could see was ASOIAF in the hands of people you wouldn't assume would read the genre. So those novel effectively transcended fantasy. They also brought about the a new generation of novelist. It is doubtful that Abercrombie, Lawrence, etc would be as popular as they are if it wasn't for the renaissance that was brought about by the novels of GRRM.

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I agree. I had read a few fantasy series like LOTR and Dragonlance when I was younger and I had stopped reading fantasy because everything seemed quite the same until a friend gave me 'A Game of Thrones' to give it a try (and this was way before the TV show) and I was completely hooked. In retrospect, ASOIAF single-handedly brought me back to fantasy and I've found other great authors and series since then, so even if it wasn't that great (which it is for me) I have the sense that it brought many people (either new or just bored/fed up) to the genre.

  • did you prune the roots?
  • you used the old soil?
  • did you wire it in?
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Original Poster2 points · 3 years ago

I pruned the roots and I put new soil in the pot. I didn't wire it. As far as I understand I should also prune the branches just before Spring. It's still cold and I would have waited another month or so to repot it and prune the roots but from what I've read here these 'mallsai' have very poor soil in and the soil indeed seemed very sandy and the roots were quite long so I decided to just do it now.

So what kind of soil did you use?

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Original Poster1 point · 3 years ago

Mostly organic, because it was the only thing that I had at home at the moment. I'd say in the future I'll try to mix it with some inorganic soil and some pebbles to give it better drainage. Any advice?

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Hi, I'm new to this subreddit and bonsai in general. I've been reading a lot about it lately and I'm thinking of getting one to start but it's not very easy to find a shop here in Ireland. I've found gardens4you has some for sale and they deliver here. Any opinions on the site? Are they reliable, etc. As for the tree, I'm thinking of getting a Chinese Elm as I've seen many people recommend it as a good tree to a newbie like myself. One thing I've noticed on some trees on the website is that some have an icon saying that they're 'Not Hardy' which probably means that I'll have to keep it indoors most of the Winter right? Thanks for any help

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Original Poster1 point · 3 years ago

Just for other people in Ireland that might be interested I ended up getting a Carmona from Maureen in Dublin. She has plenty of trees to choose from. More information here.

And coincidentally a couple of days later my girlfriend went to Tesco to buy some groceries and brought what I believe is a Ligustrum home that they had for sale.

CHinese elm will be fine where you live. If there was a period of extended freezing (under -8C) you'd need to potentially put one in a less-cold place.

If you struggle to find a nice tree - I have some for sale. Postage for 1 tree to Ireland is €10.

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Original Poster1 point · 3 years ago

Cool, let me take a look and I'll let you know :)

Comment deleted3 years ago
Original Poster3 points · 3 years ago

I totally agree. Sometimes you're just in need for some inspiration and pointers and the videos are a good way to get the ball rolling :)

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