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joined 2022 September 04 21:53:39 UTC


User ID: 184



0 followers   follows 14 users   joined 2022 September 04 21:53:39 UTC


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User ID: 184

I just want to say that it's always a genuine joy to see what I write put up here on the AAQC. I am not a prolific poster and so it's a real honor to see my efforts nominated for the AAQC when I am moved to post.

The Afghanistan Papers revealed that if the truth is sufficiently awful people will refuse to believe it or discuss it because they are convinced it's more plausible that racially biased people are making unfounded accusations.

https://twitter.com/RichardHanania/status/1457753480840372231 (US forces unable to stop child rape and because 'it's their culture')

"Homosexuality was taboo among adults but it was not uncommon for afghan men of means to commit a form of sexual abuse known as bacha bazi, or boy play. Afghan military officers, warlords, and other power brokers proclaimed their status by keeping tea boys or other adolescent male servants as sex slaves. US troops referred to the practice as "man-love Thursday" because Afghan pederasts would force boys to dress up or dance on Thursday evenings before the start of the afghan weekend. Although American soldiers were sickened by the abuse, their commanders instructed them to look the other way because they didn't want to alienate allies in the fight against the taliban"

I also recall an old Foreign Affairs article that made an addendum to why it happens on Thursday. Broadly speaking, many Afghans believed that prayer on the Islamic holy day, friday, cleansed them of their sins. So if you rape someone on Thursday, pray on friday, you are then clean and worthy of paradise on saturday. Of course the sin was the homosexuality, not the rape.

What makes it doubly insane is that Bachi Bazi was a source of illegitimacy among the wider populace. which means destroying it would have an actually removed a source of Taliban legitimacy.

https://twitter.com/RichardHanania/status/1366444372972081153 (bachi bazi as source for taliban support)

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ELZD1UIU0AE8WxU?format=jpg&name=large (Afghan governor was a drug dealer and tyrant but his province was actually stable)

When the US was stuck between a hardliner who could keep the peace and total anarchy it was incapable of biting the bullet as a matter of policy. If stuck between a plan that had proven successful but icky or a plan that would be unsuccessful but sounds good it went with the sounds good.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ELZE6_TUUAI9rdH?format=jpg&name=large (US aid would filter through contractors over and over again until about 1/20th actually made it to the country)

Literal actual corruption would have been more efficacious then what the US did. The US would spend outrageous amounts of money on domestic actors and not make any use of the purchasing power difference of Afghanistan being dirt poor. Who do we have to thank for this lighting money on fire policy? Thank staunch conservative senator Jessie Helms.

"...because when the soviet union fell apart we had to cut a deal with Jessie Helms to continue our aid programs. The deal with Jessie Helms was that we would spend the money in the United States. We would buy American products, American grain, American consultants, American Security experts, and they would implement our aid programs."

Finally just for a final kicker. Rural Afghanistan could be so isolated that it would literally inbred. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FDr8Z6lVIAMK_O6?format=jpg&name=4096x4096 ("I hate to say it, but there was a lot of inbreeding. The district chief had three thumbs" he said in an Army oral-history interview.)

That's a lot of scattered stuff. So lets return to my central point. When the truth is so awful people will take accurate descriptions of the situation as proof of racist evil rather than of tragic suffering.

It would have been tragic but true to describe Afghanistan as a land of inbred child rapists who believe that Islam means that if you commit a sin on Thursday then on Friday its cleansed away. That stability at the hand of tyrants would have been more valuable for producing peace than Western european style metrics about the percentage of women in parliament. And that literal direct bribery and corruption applied at the point of local discretion by the military would have been order of magnitude more effective than actual policy. And that the cause of restricting the military's discretion and demanding Made in America contractor corrupt fiscal suicide was due to a Conservative Senator.

But could you have said that? Does anyone believe that you could walk around in polite society and talk frankly about such issues and how we are going to approach solving them. Could you ever imagine Obama making destroying culturally acceptable religiously justified child rape as his first priority in an hearts & minds strategy?

Twitter personality InverseFlorida invented the term Sanewashing to describe how people watered down "Abolish the Police" into something sane sounding. That people would get angry at you for saying "Abolish the Police means exactly what it says and the people who first started saying it are very clear about this" because those people had actually come to believe that X actually meant Y. People who sanewash really believe their revised version of a statement to be the real meaning of the original statement.

The Afghanistan papers showed that people will Sanewash away not just Insanity, but also Evil. If forced to confront uncomfortable truths they will not just disbelieve a statement but they will go through a process of putting it through a sanewash sieve. Once they have their watered down pseudotruth they will then use that 'truth' as proof that the actual truth is just a racist overexaggeration.

Now consider how many people are unwilling to believe the accusations that Hamas uses hospitals as munitions bunkers & military HQ's. And you will be unable to unsee the instinct to Sanewash Evil.

Anyone who starts really getting into WW2 will eventually learn of Khalkin Gol. Zhukov's presence helps since he's everyone's first USSR general they learn about. But for the average person it's still obscured by several orders of magnitude. And even for the amateur enthusiast it's not exactly a clear "next operation after d-day, north africa, & stalingrad" type battle to learn about.

I think it's difficult to understate just how important the effect of Stalin's takeover the Soviet Union had on American/European Marxist circles. There would forever after be two strains of thought that were perfectly intuitive and did not feel at all like a cop out.


Marxism works but starting it in Russia made no sense. The whole point is that Capitalism builds the capitol base and then once enough production exists only then do we shift how that production is distributed. But the only place Marxist revolutions happened were in Russia & China among peasants. This was an obvious corruption of original Marxism. It actually literally has never been tried.

For a modern day case of these, see Freddie DeBoer. The point isn't whether its true. It's whether or not a reasonable person who hasn't spend over 9000 hour studying microeconomics might find such an argument convincing.


It was going to work until Stalin betrayed the cause. A uniquely evil man. He corrupted Lenin's vision. He turned on all the original revolutionaries. He corrupted what would have otherwise been a functioning system. In this mindset the horrors of early War Communism don't exist. The USSR was going to work! Just look at those improvements in literacy rates! And Magnitogorsk! And all these rights that they had paper. But I'm not a fool. I know it didn't work. But just read Animal Farm. Or look at the Spanish Revolution. It's right there in how we were all working together until that bastard Stalin screwed it all up. I'm a communist because I approve of Lenin/Trotsky/Kropotkin's ideals, whose revolution was stolen away from them, but obviously i'm not a "Tankie". Those types of violations by the USSR is just proof of how Stalin messed it all up going forward.

And that's pretty much all you need. To the person who thinks in such a manner it doesn't feel like a cop out. It feels like sophistication. You can't even distinguish between communism, socialism, marxism, trotsky permanent revolution, Louis Blanque-ism Guaranteed Employment, Rosa Luxemburg thought, or Progressive Labor Union Revisionism for the Purposes of Getting Workers Used to Working in Committees Until the Actual Revolution. You just call all of it Marxist. But I know better. It's not that communism doesn't work. I know that in reality it was betrayed.

You don't even need to be personally invested in it all. You just need a disposition towards "everyone should have enough" and a smart friend who can answer your occasional question (or a youtube parasocial relation) and who can give you explanations that feel plausible. Enough to make you saudade for a world you've never known. Enough to make you put on the Soviet Anthem and smile on occasion before your next shift. Enough to make you call yourself a Marxist even though you don't think anything will change anytime soon. And then you listen to someone call Obama a Communist because he wants to create a.....marketplace for healthcare. And you roll your eyes and smile.

Because you know that real communism has never been tried.

You know, for an comparatively low population city (compared to london, NYC, LA, Chicago) I feel like Philadelphia gets a disproportionate amount of representation on the motte.

Though I think if you met us in person you'd find we are mostly just normal people. We pay our bills. Make dinner each night. Delight in our hobbies and mostly just get by day by day. Though perhaps i'm only speaking for myself and everyone else you meet will be an unlikely instantiation of the heroic.

Have you ever considered reading the War Nerd translation of the Illiad? I confess to not having read the original poetic translation. But I found myself literally spontaneously guffawing and feeling as though relaxed next to a campfire storyteller in his novel format retelling. Sensations that I'm not sure are as easily flow-into-able in the more high brow accurate translations.

That said I'd like to read it in the original someday. Do you stand by the Fagles translation for the average man?

I'm perfectly happy to describe 80%+ of the entire population (aka a large majority of women plus a sizeable majority of men) as "most people".

80%+ seems sufficient to be described as 'Most'

I also believe that women and normie men are 'People'.

this is why I distinguished in the beginning about old core playerbase demographics being a distinct population. They were a skewed population, where a minority approach to matters had a majority control over marketshare. Within that small population the majority culture was different.

is it really your contention that the best way to decribe "Most People" is to exclude the near entirety of one sex and the majority of the other sex?

I think one of the big issues is the old core playerbase were nerds who approached fiction from the point of view of External Immersion.

"What is this world? what is it's culture? How would their people approach things? What has the universe made clear is normal and what is abnormal"

This is why Grognards still bring up "Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura"

Or they'll play fantasy mods (Anbennar) of Europa Universalis and not think twice about how every primary human faction is European inspired and fantasy races take up the entire rest of the world, creating and effective all European humanity. All with in universe expalantion of Orc slavery explained as reparations to humans for former Orc invasions. Because "well that's just what this universe is"

And this older nerd playerbase thrives on this. The actual diversity of settings is what's appealing about fiction and then their internal logic is to be followed through on.

But that approach to fiction is actually really rare! Most people are Inserters, not Immersers. They play games in order to insert themselves into a universe. What interests them is the challenge of achieving their mindset in each new circumstance. (sidenote: it's a matter of degree. not an either or.) To these people the setting itself is significantly devalued. There's nothing 'there' about making the Forgotten Realms setting stay in character with previously established lore. No instinct of dissonance. In fact each shift in the setting to better align with their perception of the world around them (and remember, most people have an astoundingly poor sense of what the demographics of any given country are. along with a complete inability to distinguish between what's normal in their local area vs the country as a whole) only makes more sense to these people. It feels more immersive for their insertions because it's more intuitive. And it's more intuitive because it's now more familiar. And that's normal.

Even though, personally speaking, I don't find very interesting.

Has anyone here ever ran a Petrov Day celebration before?

I've no connection with the actual rat community, but I found the idea to be interesting. Held my first one last year (a small edit of the Jim Babcock version). It had rough patches but overall felt like there was a kernel of something there and I'd like to smooth it into something more satisfying. I'm curious if anyone else has ran one before and, if so, did you edit the program at all?

Also if anyone is in the Greater Philadelphia area and would be interested experiencing a cringe yet sincere rationalist ceremony I'd be happy to have guests.

I kept thinking that I should respond to this with some other longwinded paragraph of text. But you are right. and I'll keep it simple. I'm happy that I could help. Anyone wrestling with these questions deserves nothing less.

While in the vernacular it's common to use Agnostic to mean "I don't really know but I think it's possible" and Atheist to mean "I believe there is no God" I think you'll find that when pushed hard to really clarify exactly what Belief and Knowledge are that most of what we think of as knowledge claims are in fact belief claims. I do not "know" that say (purely for example), the Chicago School of Economics is true. But I may perhaps "believe" that it is. Or to be even more pedantic, I may assign a 90% chance in my head that I think it's true, a 5% chance it's flawed but mostly true, and leave the remaining 5%.

I do not "know" that I am not a brain in a vat in a jar experiencing a simulation. But I don't find this particularly likely, and am happy to say that I believe my toothpaste exists and should be applied before bed. Even though if sufficiently pushed I'd be stuck arguing that, yes, it's true. I can't be literally 100% confident about my toothpaste the same way I am that A = A. This 'mere belief' state of affairs has yet to stop me from brushing my teeth before bed.

In that sense the vast majority of Atheists are, more precisely, Agnostic Atheists, and are happy to describe themselves as such. They do not Know, but they lack assertive belief that God exists. Much like how I lack a belief in the efficacy of Mercantilism, even if I can't write a PhD paper explaining why. Atheists may vary in the particulars. One may give God a 10% chance, which isn't enough for him to believe in a positive existence. Another may say God's likelyhood is less than 1%! I have even seen someone describe himself as an Asymptotic Atheist. His credence towards Gods existence approached infinity but never quite touched "cannot possibly exist".

Actual "God does not exist, 100%, stop" Atheists do exist. They'll have uncommon definitional arguments about how all sufficient definitions of God are inherently incoherent or contradictory. But these are rare indeed, and functionally arn't all that different than a mainstream Atheist.

Perhaps you will find your argument for God and change your mind. Perhaps you will look back at this moment as your crisis of faith and in the end it was the testing fire you needed to harden your spirit into a faith a strong as steel.

I can't prevent you from doing that. But what I can say is that even losing all faith that God exists, the world is still beautiful. Painfully, overwhelmingly, & shockingly beautiful. It's the beauty of a cherry blossom caught in the wind between branch and ground. We travel in the now between the Scylla of pre-existence and the Charybdis of our species eventual end. In this precious moment we exist and are lucky enough to be conscious of it. There is no reason for our morals to atrophy or our marvel of the natural world to diminish because what we do now is only heightened in importance by it's transience. There is a joy to be had in the self regard as one made in the image of God. But when that disappears it does not stay a God shaped hole in the heart. Rather, I regard every piece of civilization as a precious jewel against the void from which we came. Humanity as universe's greatest happenstance. We could have stayed as brutes. We could have been born and winked out of existence. Humanity was once reduced to nearly a thousand people!

But today an atheist can go to the cathedral in Cologne and tremble at how passionate humanity was even during poorer times. And a believer can know his doctor is an atheist and realize that his doctor regards his life as something that once extinguished is gone forever, and that his doctors will fight like hell to help him get back to good health as a result. And we can all build something together and marvel at this incredible world we all live in.

There is no shortage of arguments intended to pull you back to a faith in a Creater Deity. But if you should wonder once more about the other side then here:

If you want the old argument, then read De Rerum Natura De Rerum Natura. On The Nature of Things. And realize that these notions about the world are by no means new.

If you want the new argument, then read On the Big Picture, by Sean Carrol. And really understand how we got to this point.

Finally, the rationalists are sometimes cringe. But even in their cringe they have a point. You said "I want to convince myself there is a God". I ask you to consider instead, their Litany of Tarski. Contrast your desire to believe in something you find comforting vs whether you can can find real comfort in belief in something you know just isn't so. And consider instead your desire to believe what is true. That:

If the box contains a diamond, I desire to believe that the box contains a diamond; If the box does not contain a diamond, I desire to believe that the box does not contain a diamond; Let me not become attached to beliefs I may not want.

Act 3 is absolutely the weakest act (although it also had my favorite Boss). I did not encounter any bugs but there are so many parts of the narrative being kept track of that Act 3 is where something would show up. I've heard of bugs showing up regarding Oathbreaking Paladins in Act 3, but i never had one.

If you've already sunk your teeth into the game into Act 2 then it's worth it to see it through to the end.

My biggest complaint with Act 3 isn't the devs politics but rather that there are so many plot threads that need tying up that the Act doesn't have a strong "Do X then Y then Z" narrative structure. Instead it feels much more like going down the checklist of plot points that need to be wrapped up. A bit of a "wait remind me who this is?" issue.

The best part of Act 3 is that you really get to feel like your party has come into it's own. Everyone is levelled up. End game equipment starts coming into play. You feel like everything you've been building towards has really come into it's own and you can bask in the fruits of your labors. But the game really simply isn't balanced at that level 12 and the solution of 'add more enemies' tends to make some combats a slog.

It's a Larian CRPG so the illusion of choice is precisely that. Most conversations are more about the tone/flavour of how you respond than an actual diverging choice. But there are still real choices in how you want to approach the ending and i'm satisfied with the path I took for (in my eyes) a maximum Good ending.

I just beat the game. Depending on when you acquired some of your companions you might be locked into a class-path that isn't intuitive.

I respec'd Karlath and Shadowheart, eventually running the following party Main Character: Gale: Evocation Wizard Shadowheart: Life Cleric Astarion: Assassin Rogue Karlach: Berserker Barbarian

It's not complicated, but it gets the job done and lets you experience the game for the first time so that you can have fun making weird party compositions for your next run after you feel like you've got a strong handle on the game and know what to expect. Karlach is an HP tank that eventually becomes a khorne-tier murder berseker, Astarion does regular sneak attack damage, Shadowheart eventually becomes an high AC heal tank, and Gale give you the CC & sheer damage you need. Fireball solves everything.

Fought every battle normally and had a great time. With one exception. The True Soul Nere fight. Save scum. plant barrels. do whatever you have to do. That fight was an absolute nightmare and you can get screwed on spell slots due to its time restricted constraint.

Military History Visualized depicted this disparity in production quite well.

And although the difference in battleships & carrier production is stark I find the immediate and ever increasing disparity in Escort Carriers and Destroyers to be the most damning.

I will reaffirm reading War Nerd's version of the Iliad. The novel format communicates the humor, frustrations, and desires very clearly for anyone who isn't already intimately familiar with a more formal translation. It is simply fun to read.

I'd recommend Ross Douthat's book "To Change the Church" to get a good sense of that. Either in text or audiobook. It's really quit the engaging read, even for a non-Catholic or even non-believer.

Rather than an outright schism a soft coup looks more like manipulating public opinion through journalists ignorance, manipulating bureaucracies hiring (your ideological allies) & firing (or doing the catholic equivalent of "promoting" someone to Siberia), using ambiguous statements that motte (castle) in the text but bailey (field) in public understanding until the lay public is so unaware your old bailey (field) wins the battle for assumed public opinion. Use edge cases to create extreme exceptions to a long standing principle, then expand that principle to other comparable but less serious edge cases. Then after enough time has passed don't talk about the long standing principle at all and instead explain that it would just be hypocritical to allow exceptions for these extreme edge cases but not to those more common cases.

As an example of how long standing doctrine can become completely irrelevant to the common believer until that new generation forms the next generation of deciding authorities, see American Catholic Opinion on Birth Control. A mere 8% of American Catholics believe birth control is morally wrong. If you point this out to those other 92% of Catholics they won't explain in detail why they humbly disagree with the Church. They'll claim there is no disagreement! The most common reaction will instead be an aghast disgust over your bigotry in claiming something so ridiculous as that the Catholic Church opposes contraception. And the coup is complete.

Nearly half of Catholics don't even know Catholicisms distinction regarding the Eucharist. Athanasios may stand like a rock against the world. But the average member is not Athanasios.

To pull off a coup as Pope you have to make it look like you never pulled off a coup. Everything has to be continuity. But with the right voters added here, the right ambiguous statements added there, you can pull off a coup. You can alter unchanging Dogma because you convinced regular people that you never actually altered anything. It was always there the whole time.

would definitely be very interested. even just spitballing the German fraternities part and then doing the modern day later would be fine.

I don't mean this to challenge. merely to ask. do you remember that exact newspaper? I'd love to have that saved for posterity when arguing about this in person in the future.

People of all races reduce people of other races to flat cheap characters in romance novels or pornography, and imagine dating that flat character when you ask them about interracial dating.

I think its worth making explicit that Asian women are also the thinnest grouping in 'racial group broadly defined'.

Asian women are vastly less obese than the non-asian population of the United States.

There is this idea that white people (and weebs in particular) think of Asian women as this old practically Victorian Era submissive 3 steps behind the husband trope but I contend that that's not the primary appeal of Asian women to White guys.

In an American context Asian women are far more likely to be

  • Japanese, Korean, or Chinese descendent

  • roughly speaking are thinner than white women by 30 pounds, hispanics by 40 pounds, and black women by 50 pounds

  • more likely to be intelligent as well as college educated

  • less likely to come from a family that's undergoing social breakdown from fentanyl/drugs.

  • match speech patterns/accent to the local White population if they grew up in a predominately White area instead of adopting a distinct dialect of opposition.

If the Hispanic population in the US was small, distinct, and had the same level of thinness and educational attainment I maintain that Hispanic girls would have a similar highly desired status as Asian women today. Imagine a situation where the US was 4% Chilean, Argentinian, and Uruguayan with the same traits as expressed above. I guarantee if you talked to a random white guy he'd go 'oh yeah. hispanics are cute. I love hispanic girls'. But hes just using physical features as shorthand in order to estimate an what is overwhelmingly an expression of body type & compatibility. It's not a desire to obtain a lifestyle of tropes from old media and/or pornography about what "foreign women" are like.

I've been meaning to read On the Nature of Things for awhile now. Having read it would you stick by the prose translation or advise looking for something else?

As a Delaware Valley Quaker with a Scots-Irish best friend that book was positively eerily familiar. I was expecting interesting facts and instead simply felt uncomfortably seen. The audiobook also perfectly recreates the rhythmic cadence of a proper silent meeting.

Unity of Command 2: Desert Fox DLC - Rommel's North African campaign with 2 alt history scenarios (One for taking Tobruk and one for failing Tobruk but taking Malta). A lot of fun to play the opposite side after the Desert Rats campaign.

Victoria 3 - It's not polished but I played way too much Vicky 2 and it's just satisfying to maximize the Standard of Living for my pops

Darktide - 40k Horde-shooter. Dreamed for a long time about a game like this finally coming out.

Persona 5 on PC - JRPG's at their best.

Anno 1800 finally came out for steam so I'm hoping to finally try the anno games for the first time.

And at some point go back and get around to actually reading Chaos:head Noah.

Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East - David Stahel

1/2 through. Makes the case that Barbarossa started shitting the bed in the opening weeks, not just at the gates of Moscow. Casts a very harsh light on the Minsk and Smolensk pockets in the immediate opening stages of the war. Very critical of Halder & Guderian.

Money- Emile Zola

1/4th through. Realist fiction of the moneyed classes in mid 19th century Paris. Absolutely hilarious. The main character Saccard is a delight of failure & ambition. The audiobook for Zola's 'Germinal' was very good and made checking out Zola's other works seem worthwhile.

I personally tend not to comment unless there is a topic I'm passionate about , I've encountered a 'someone is wrong on the internet' issue, or a topic comes up that I feel uniquely able to address.

So if there is a topic you are passionate about or something you think you have unique knowledge about, then write! Make getting down your exact thoughts on a topic its own satisfaction. Take pleasure in manipulating the rhetoric to try and hit just the right note for what you're going for. Focus on the act of writing itself as whats enjoyable.

Bonus points if at any point you edit your comment to be more in line with the sentiment of charity and exactness. Shoot for that Actually A Quality Contribution Ribbon! Or, alternatively, make it clear to yourself that you just have a simple comment or idea and stop yourself from overthinking about the issue. Easier said than done, but I think either approach is reasonable.

And keep in mind that a lot of comments here are Pareto's of Pareto's. Once the blur of names start to become more clear you'll notice the same names over and over. These are people who are extremely comfortable with posting. By the mere fact of post regularly they are unusual people. So your case is likely far more normal.


It's motte-adjacent but directly relevant. TracingWoodgrains writes on why this place exists in the first place, what it's appeal is for those drawn to it, and then how it relates to his own personal crisis of faith within Mormonism. It ends with a very moving declaration to ensure others get the same charity & respect that he was given.

Many motte posts are interesting for their esoteric takes or niche knowledge. But tracingwoodgrains post captures the feel of the draw itself to this place. Of the frustration with an external world of fear and polarization. Of the drive to challenge oneself and find 'opponents' worthy of respect. Of remembering that often people's closest beliefs come from a point, not just of a model of what is true, but of a very intense personal relation to who they believe themselves to be. Of the two futures in front of one each time you encounter 'someone wrong on the internet' - to try to destroy them, or to try to live in peace with them.