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Small-Scale Question Sunday for December 4, 2022

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Is GPU Direct Storage for nvme drives going to make GPU memory less important for AI tasks? Would it be advisable to wait and see how it pans out before buying a new GPU?

What are the actually useful applications of ChatGPT? I see a lot of people playing around with it and having fun, but I'm having trouble thinking of anything good this tool could actually provide to us. The downsides are quite obvious (a big one for me is that now I will always be wondering if the text I am reading was generated by a bot).

I haven't used it, but if they fed it libraries and historical documents, it could bring to light a lot of information which no-one has the time to go through. Frankly I'm more worried about the downsides for now though.

My girlfriend is a manager at big tech co. She spends hours per week agonizing over the wording on various documents that she has to submit to the corporate bureaucracy. (Yes, we both know this is pointless). I showed her chat GPT and we both agreed that it could speed up the process of producing nice-sounding boilerplate.

I write kinky transformation stories, and it's fairly competent at coming up with new plots along these lines if you prompt it with the right sort of things that don't ring any alarm bells for the content moderation of ChatGPT.

So far I've used it for:

  1. Lesson plans (mock trial of Odysseus)

  2. Supplying grant application filler

  3. Automate some accounting forensic tasks (what is this transaction)

  4. Poking around some quantum physics concepts for hard sci-fi worldbuilding

I've been using it for finishing up code that has tedious parts, but that aren't easy to automate quickly.

As well, it is reasonable competent at translating between programming languages, and I used that earlier for a case where I needed to use some API I had written a wrapper in Rust for and I needed it in JavaScript for a web-page.

It is reasonably competent at explaining various topics, at times in a better and more direct way than wikipedia or other sites (especially since a lot of sites pad their explanations).

Though, this was already available with OpenAI's other major models.

So, to me this seems like it has the potential to be an actually useful personal-assistant. Especially once people start hooking up to APIs to do stuff for you. Though, I hope they'll allow some ways of finetuning (or something similar) on content you give it, so I can specialize it for what I'm doing.

Customer support?

I jokingly asked for it to concot a recipe for a humorous inside joke dish often mentioned among friends, and am now thinking whether I should try what it gave me.

You're exactly the kind of person to let the AI out of the box.

I then asked it to create a story on the basis of another inside joke meme and it was stumped completely.

(edit: apparently this is because the word 'poop' is too naught for ChatGPT, though.)

Any thoughts on what stock one ought to buy right now, as someone whose gradual getting spooked by AI advances has finally passed a critical threshold, in order to be in a good position in the specific subspace of possible futures where most humans have become economically worthless but the current system of contracts and titles remains intact?

Specifically, the "the vast majority of the economy is one or a handful of AI conglomerates, plus whatever industry is required to keep them running; whoever has a share may be less screwed" scenario. I can just about think of Google (for DeepMind) and Microsoft (who seem to be OpenAI's closest openly traded partner), and maybe Nvidia if one expects their GPUs to continue being unrivaled as hardware platforms.

Just stick with big tech, like Google, Amazon, Tesla, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. The era of investing in a tiny, revolutionary stock, like AOL or Cisco in 1991, that goes up 100x, is long over. Companies stay private way too long, and only go public when already huge. Tesla is already making major inroads into AI. Not a fan of Nvidia because of political risk/China, crypto dependence, and too much competition.

If you have enough money to be a private investor, consider buying grey market stocks (equity-zen) in up-and-coming transformers driven companies. Obviously, this is highly risky, so don't put in any money you can't afford to lose. But it is a good place to put your 'high risk' investments. I'd say better than Crypto, weed stocks, self-driving or anything in the ARK portfolio.

Look out for tasks that previously could not be done before, and replace humans in a very clear manner. This keeps the unit-economics stable. Try to get some series-A / Series-B area stock and hope one of them works out.

Note: Stock picking is never a good idea. So if you're asking this question on a forum, then you probably just want to hold a broad based index + some bias onto major SNP500 players such Microsoft/Apple or anything normal-PE-ratio company that seems to have a good foot in the door.

I'd say better than Crypto, weed stocks, self-driving or anything in the ARK portfolio.

Yes, those also been the absolute god-awful worst performing stocks/sectors. ARK is down 80% vs 25% for Nasdaq.

, then you probably just want to hold a broad based index + some bias onto major SNP500 players such Microsoft/Apple or anything normal-PE-

QQQ is pretty good.

Risky investments perform terribly most of the time. Im saying exactly what it looks like.

Take the money you are willing to throw away, and waste it on grey market private company stocks instead of all the other 'risky' options that have been in the dumps. (As would be expected in such market conditions). The strong guarantees I can give about stock market returns all have low ceilings.

If you want reliable gains, then index funds.

Do you(assuming you live in the USA and not a Nordic country) seriously expect the government to even pretend they’re trying to pay for such a thing through taxes? They’ll print or borrow(yes, this is more or less the same thing on a longer timescale) the money for UBI. Ironically this actually protects capital owners more than proles- the latter’s wealth will get eaten up by inflation far more so than properties or ownership interests or whatever.

If you live in Saudi Arabia or Denmark, the situation might be different.

I agree, but having lots of capital will still give one room to maneuver as the walls close in. E.g. moving to the Bahamas before your country of residence starts seriously taxing wealth.

As a relatively rich person who would like to keep their money I’m not particularly enamoured with socialism, but if 90% of people are going to be victims of technological employment in 25 years time (I make no claims as to the actual timeline or likelihood of this) then I think it very unlikely that private property, at least on a large scale, would survive such a thing.

It's the opposite though. Private ownership of capital has surged and boomed, such as Forbes 500 wealth, despite increasing automation and wealth inequality.

I don't know, is it inconceivable that UBI+light wireheading through superstimuli could keep the vast majority of people sufficiently placid to prevent widespread upheaval until the problem solves itself through birthrate collapse? This would have the same effect as a genocide of the poor, but not involve a lot of violence or even generally offense to revealed ethical preference.

Capitalism relies on a social contract in which people have the opportunity to better their situation. The end of employment takes away that opportunity.

I'm not so convinced of this, insofar as my impression is that over the past 1000 years, most societies were sufficiently "capitalist" in the sense that private property and ownership stakes were mostly honoured most of the time, but in the majority of them most people did not have a meaningful opportunity to significantly better their situation.

I don't know, is it inconceivable that UBI+light wireheading through superstimuli could keep the vast majority of people sufficiently placid to prevent widespread upheaval until the problem solves itself through birthrate collapse? This would have the same effect as a genocide of the poor, but not involve a lot of violence or even generally offense to revealed ethical preference.

And what would be the appeal? Disregarding morality entirely, I think I'd prefer ~postscarcity + large population to small population.

The appeal, from the perspective that's being talked about here, is deciding what kind of people (or some other agents, or infrastructure for some long-term purposes) to spend post-scarcity on, instead of sharing the Earth – nay, the entire light cone – with 9 billion unrelated poors. And if you don't share much, well, once again there's not really a lot of a point to them.

Western elites currently expend colossal resources to unnecessarily prop up domestic and foreign economically unproductive underclasses for ideological/‘compassionate’ reasons

We do not see any "compassion", we see healthy class instinct in operation, without reading even one word of Marx (who needs books, books are for losers).

We see good understanding what lumpenproletariat is and why it is natural ally of aristocracy and big bourgeoisie, mortal enemy of proletariat and petty bourgeoisie, reactionary force inimical to all progress.

The lumpenproletariat, this scum of the decaying elements of all classes, which establishes headquarters in all the big cities, is the worst of all possible allies. It is an absolutely venal, an absolutely brazen crew. If the French workers, in the course of the Revolution, inscribed on the houses: Mort aux voleurs! (Death to the thieves!) and even shot down many, they did it, not out of enthusiasm for property, but because they rightly considered it necessary to hold that band at arm’s length. Every leader of the workers who utilises these gutter-proletarians as guards or supports, proves himself by this action alone a traitor to the movement.

‘akshually, it’s in their self-interest’ explanations, as you have yourself often argued, don’t hold much water

Well, since the elites destroyed all what remained of working class organization and built for themselves large army of lazzaroni avaliable 24/7/365 at their call, are they better or worse off? Is their wealth bigger or smaller, is their rule more or less secure?

Are kings of Naples of old really bad example to learn from?

A lot of net tax recipients are not really lumpenproles, they’re ordinary working class people who happen to be poorer or have more kids than average(or simply be female). Most of them either have jobs or did for the majority of their working life.

In practice, if you run the numbers, UBI requires redistribution to increase substantially. ... Maybe the singularity brings such unimaginable abundance that money ceases to have any relevance, but even if it does there will still be a transition period.

A classic joke:

– Vodka has gone up in price, son.

– So Daddy, now you'll drink less?

– No son, but you'll have less to eat.

What I mean to say is that there are other solutions to the problem of unproductive masses, and they don't involve either outright genocide nor communism. Such as...

The government had finally figured out that giving choices to people on welfare was not such a great idea, and it was also expensive. Instead of giving people a welfare check, they started putting welfare recipients directly into government housing and serving them meals in a cafeteria. If the government could drive the cost of that housing and food down, it minimized the amount of money they had to spend per welfare recipient.

As the robots took over in the workplace, the number of welfare recipients grew rapidly. Manna replaced tens of millions of minimum wage workers with robots, and terrafoam housing became the warehouse of choice for them. Terrafoam buildings were not pretty, but they were incredibly inexpensive to build and were designed for maximum occupancy. They clustered the buildings on trash land well away from urban centers so no one had to look at them. It was a lot like an old-style college dorm. Each person got a 5 foot by 10 foot room with a bed and a TV — the world’s best pacifier. During the day the bed was a couch and people sat on the bedspread, which also served as a sheet and the blanket. At night the bed was a bed. When I arrived they had just started putting in bunk beds to double the number of people in each building. Burt was not excited to see me when I arrived — he had had a private room for 10 years, and my arrival was the end of that. At least he was polite about it.

... Downstairs there was the cafeteria staffed by robots. The robots were not bad — the food was acceptable. They also kept the bathrooms, hallways and rooms spotless. Every day at 7AM, 12 PM and 6 PM the breakfast, lunch and dinner meal shifts began. There were six 15-minute shifts per meal to save on cafeteria space. Burt and I had the third shift. You sat down, food was served, you ate, you talked for 5 minutes while you drank your “coffee” and you left so the next shift could come in. With 24,000 people coming in per shift, there was no time for standing in a cafeteria-style line. Everyone had an assigned seat, and an army of robots served you right at your table.

... Because no one had a window, they could really pack people into these buildings. Each terrafoam dorm building had a four-acre foot print. It was a perfect 417 foot by 417 foot by 417 foot solid brown cube. Each cube originally held exactly 76,800 people. Doubling this to 153,600 people in each building was unthinkable, but they were doing it anyway. On the other hand, you had to marvel at the efficiency. At that density, they could house every welfare recipient in the entire country in less than 1,500 of these buildings. By spacing the buildings 100 feet apart, they could house 200,000,000 people in a space of less than 20 square miles if they had wanted to. At that density, they could put everyone in the country without a job into a space less than five miles square in size, put a fence around it and forget about us. If they accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb or two on us, we would all be gone and they wouldn’t have to worry about us anymore.

.. Ultimately, you would expect that there would be riots across America. But the people could not riot. The terrorist scares at the beginning of the century had caused a number of important changes. Eventually, there were video security cameras and microphones covering and recording nearly every square inch of public space in America. There were taps on all phone conversations and Internet messages sniffing for terrorist clues. If anyone thought about starting a protest rally or a riot, or discussed any form of civil disobedience with anyone else, he was branded a terrorist and preemptively put in jail. Combine that with robotic security forces, and riots are impossible.

The only solution for most people, as they became unemployed, was government handouts. Terrafoam housing was what the government handed out.

Example from fiction which goes a little bit into genocidal scenarios: To The Stars (Madoka Magica hard sf fanfic), or rather its backstory. It also explores incompatibility of capitalism with full automation / high unemployment described by @2rafa (specifically paragraph 2 and 9. 1, 2, 3. I brought it up on the old sub already, but I'm unsure how many have seen this back then.

With Vladimir Volokhov’s 2136 unraveling of the principles of AI, the dam finally broke on over a century of economic trends. Steadily rising structural unemployment and slow concentration of wealth became instead soaring unemployment and exponential concentration of wealth. With the advent of cheap, easily programmable artificial intelligence, the world’s industries no longer had a true need for human labor, and relentless cost-cutting left greater and greater proportions of the population out in the streets.


The paradox of plenty had truly arrived. Factories were more productive than ever, but even at the lowest prices, the only clients with money were the increasingly opulent capital owners, the hyperclasses the newly emergent economic class that would come to define the following century. Economic production stagnated, even as potential production skyrocketed.

Nations where the hyperclasses sympathized with the masses handed out basic incomes to keep them solvent. Those that didn’t handed out pittances or, often, nothing, content to rely on increasingly brutal oppression.

As the rank-and-file of the MSY isolated themselves deeper and deeper into cocoons of wealth, their cultural connections with the people they nominally served frayed, and increasing portions of the membership began to display attitudes similar to that of their crueler hyperclass peers, evincing contempt for the “handout-seeking layabouts” that now constituted most of the population.

It was only in a certain proportion of nations that it was able to mutate into true Detachment, with the hyperclass extending their beliefs to include the proposition that it was morally correct for the lower classes to be kept down, that it was morally incorrect to hand out relief food or money, and so forth. (...) the nations where the hyperclasses held onto their moral compasses, implementing relief and welfare programs–though never giving up their hold on power – began to form a second visible power bloc

The last meeting of the UN General Assembly, in 2160, collapsed entirely when the delegates of the non-detached faction walked out in protest at the organizations inability to take meaningful action against abuses. The remaining delegates dissolved the organization and formed their own international organization, the appropriately Orwellian Freedom Alliance.

The Incubators added their own input to the situation, warning direly that Humanity was at substantial risk of a “low-productivity, low-utility” end-state, and even offering direct intervention, if requested (this was refused).

Events crystallized in 2163, with the revelation of the so-called St. Petersburg atrocity. The local hyperclasses had resolved to do the unfathomable: annihilate an entire segment of the city’s population for anti-governmental behavior.


Eventually, agonizingly, and cataclysmically, the FA collapsed under weight of its economic inferiority, its own ideologies rendering it incapable of effectively mobilizing its populations, or even preventing its populations from being co-opted by the other side.

The following is somewhat less relevant, but it implies that things turning out fine is unnatural. Similarly, figuring out friendly AI (in 2136) wasn't either (through it's not explained in the text here).

By 2200, while a few UF governments were still nominally in power, they existed with armed forces commanded by EDC commanders, economies commanded by EDC AIs, censorship imposed by EDC regulations, and it was abundantly clear that the EDC was the UF, and was unlikely to cede any power as long as there was still an enemy left to fight. As it turned out, the EDC never ceded power at all, absorbing the few remaining independent governments at the end of the war with the bluntly honest explanation that the EDC believed that future peace could be best secured under its own, direct rule (...) removed any remaining illusions that the EDC was anything other than an oligarchical, unelected, secret military junta.


If the UF could successfully rebuild the world, its directors hoped to use the gratitude of the populace to entrench their ideology and successor government forever. To this end, on top of its ambitious rebuilding objectives, the Council promised grandiosely to construct Eudaimonia on Earth (...) the Council inaugurated a set of projects ambitious both in scope and name, intended to be Manhattan Projects for a new age: Project Eden sought clinical immortality, Project Janus sought FTL travel, and Project Icarus sought to use solar satellites to harvest the light of the sun, making energy not just cheap, but free.

When the Council finally ended martial law ten years later, dissolved itself, and made way for its successor, Historians were already considering it one of the most successful governments ever, despite the fact that its most ambitious projects had yet to bear fruit. In recent years, there has been speculation that the Council’s ambitious goals and seemingly ludicrous optimism were prompted indirectly by the Incubators, via MSY intermediaries. No evidence has ever emerged to support this claim…

The ten-year post-war saga of the EDC seems almost impossible, more dream than reality, and the official explanation, that this effectiveness was due to the successful incorporation of AI planning and modeling, seems to many unsatisfactory. The idea of a group of oligarchical technocrats governing so effectively, despite the well-known flaws of human nature, had more in common with the fever dreams of early twentieth-century utopians than anything the weight of history would suggest. (...) vast majority of records remain sealed, allowing an immense amount of speculation to pour into the gaps, especially with the recent revelation of the existence of the MSY and the Incubators. It is suggested the MSY used its magic to keep the EDC under its thumb and help propel research innovation, or that the Incubators regularly advised the interim government, providing experience and examples of social structures, economic designs, and even technology. Additional speculation focuses on the nature of Governance, whose opaque operations engender distrust. The EDC, some allege, was the site of a quiet takeover of Humanity itself, by its AIs, by its magical girls, by the Incubators, or by some combination of the three.

And a fragment from third link; about nature of governments, singletons, in context of automation. I mostly decided to quote that too given similar focus to your post on the old subreddit

Eventually, the balance of power shifted, and the government, in all its organs, exceeded the power of its own people. Freed of the fear of the mob, that power that in its time had removed crowned heads from their bodies and elected officials from their seats, governments experienced a fundamental shift in motive–no longer bound to the whims of that which had humbled even the Tsar, those who governed found that they could direct their nations in whatever idiosyncratic direction they pleased, in directions that did not have even a theoretical bearing on the interests of their subjects, and were in fact often openly hostile to those interests.

Let us not delude ourselves as to the transient nature of this victory. This was no victory of the powerless over the powered. This was the victory of some with power over others with power, and as such bodes only ill for the future.

The lessons of the current era are clear: with the advent of fully mechanized warfare, and of fully mechanized means of production, if we allow ourselves to fall, or to splinter, or be peacefully broken up, it is only a matter of time until the world is again unified under one government, even if the world must first be buried under another wave of fire to do it. Eventually there will come into being a government powerful and willing enough to hold its grip on power.

And without anything external to destroy it, such a government will be eternal, assuming it does not destroy the species first.

It is impossible to return to the past, or restrict our development, as some still delude themselves into advocating. The lessons of industrialism, of plenty, can never be forgotten. The rightful craving for more wealth, more plenty will always be there. The people, the government–they will crave it, and between them they will destroy anything in their way.

No, while we still live, we should do what we can to become that eternal government, and to ensure, while we still live, that those who follow can never stray from the path. Before we can even begin to do that, it is necessary to know what the path is, and that can only be done by careful study of what the path is.

My allies and I therefore humbly submit to the Committee the following set of guiding principles, or let us be frank about it, ideological tenets:

1) That our future government dedicate itself wholeheatedly to the problem of staying in power forever. This is not a matter of power-lust; it is a matter of what is necessary. Of course, this entails the suppression, ruthless if necessary, of competing ideologies and organizations.

2) That, as much as possible, no one being shall ever rule, or experience what it is like to rule. What Nietzsche called the Will to Power is a fundamental part of the human psyche, and it is this Will which has driven some individuals to seemingly unattainably heights. Yet, if it this Will that has driven some of the worst atrocities and abuses ever recorded. If Humanity is to survive, this will should be chained, and denied ever tasting the forbidden fruit of Power. This should be our unabashed goal.

It seems impossible to construct a power structure simultaneously capable of governing effectively without leaders of some sort, and it may be so. Nonetheless, recent work by our researchers […] have suggested a possibility. By making the leaders mental combinations of their followers, their subjects, it may be possible to construct leaders who would no more enjoy abusing their power than you would enjoy abusing your power to control your own limbs

6) The maximization of the freedom perceived by sentient individuals. It is clear that for any sentient, human mind, the feeling of coercion is wholly repugnant, so much that many other of the other sources of physical and mental satisfaction are often declined in the pursuit of freedom from coercion, or more briefly, freedom itself. And yet the attempt to maintain a true absolute freedom is impossible, impractical, and even unpleasant in many circumstances. The intersection of the freedom of action of multiple individuals, the tendency of individuals to often choose disastrous courses of action…all of these are well-known. In the end what matters is what the individuals involve perceive as being free, and this is what should be sought.

7) The maximization of economic prosperity, defined as both the average and minimal amount of resources that can be accessed by any given sentient. Fundamentally, this was the goal of human economic life since the beginning. Note that this encompasses both an average amount of resources and a minimal amount of resources–the government cannot consent to deliberately allow one sentient to starve, no matter the gain accrued to another sentient or set of sentients.

I guess we shall see how China deals with more unrest. The surveillance aspect already happens in most western countries anyway, tho I assume China acts on it more (see the aftermath of the recent protests in china - police searching people’s phones for western apps and pictures/videos etc, or Chinese cops using relatives still in china to force ppl in australia to delete tweets etc). AI will be insane in china in the near future. I mean they can already ID you based on your walking gait…

Ironically @2rafa is a big fan of this particular technology, gait recognition, as a tool for suppressing violent crime. It's not like those programs and models are secret – any developed nation can do it.

But of course only rather intangible things such as «social contract» can stop the state from redefining most any dissent to crime.

Ironically @2rafa is a big fan of this particular technology, gait recognition, as a tool for suppressing violent crime. It's not like those programs and models are secret – any developed nation can do it.

No need for all this fancy stuff. Victorian England in 1870's managed to drive violent crime down to the asterisks, without any technology higher than telegraph - not even fingerprinting and card catalogues existed at the time (Moldbug writes about it in his usual long winded style, too lazy to find it).

It is not about superior genetic peacefulness of AngloSaxon people - the same country was extremely violent and gang ridden in 18th century and now is again.

What is the secret sauce?

The secret is understanding that violent crime is gang crime, that police must not be the biggest gang in the hood American style, that police must be the only gang and no other gangs must be allowed to form.

Easy to to, if you have the will. Why the modern ruling class does not have the will? Because they are smarter than Victorian ruling class.

What happened in peaceful Victorian and Edwardian UK - working class organized itself enough to demand some concessions.

What happened in modern world since the sixties when gangs and criminals were give freedom to run wild? No need to elaborate about it, we all know.

It kind of seems like the PMC class defense strategy here is to regulatorily require human bureaucrats for ‘compliance audits’, complete with required certification, and tell the call center workers who actually get replaced to smoke weed on the dole or do sex work.

Capital’s interests are to tell the PMC to get stuffed, and the red tribe’s interests are to let automation take its course, rather than making special exceptions for the PMC(who would not, after all, return the favor). The last human to be fired will be a security guard previously overseeing Jose the Guatemalan peach picker somewhere in Georgia, after all, and the third to last will be Joe the plumber.

I predict a red-tribe/capital alliance arrayed against the PMC with hangers on as a response to accelerating automation, and that’s essentially exactly what we have.

Marshall Brain is, from what I understand, a socialist, and thus given to conspiratorial reasoning where the class of actual, as-recognized-by-Marx capitalists are organically hostile to the rest of the society, more powerful and more connected. I think you raise valid objections against this viewpoint and its implications.

But it's a matter of degree, not kind. For those of us who are neither PMC nor large property owners, it mostly changes the schedule of going into terrafoam. The incentive of efficiency is the same.

Besides. In Manna, he says that this largely dehumanized welfare population is <230.600.000 people (<1500*cube capacity). The main character could work for 10 years after the major breakthrough in automation, and even had a stint as an administrator. So in our timeline that's 2032 at the earliest. Population Pyramid says there'll be 352 million Americans by that point. Census Bureau is more bullish and expects more like 360 million. So very naively, 360-230=130.

36-37% of the population is quite a lot more than Peter Thiel and Brussels class. We don't have that many NYT journalists either.

In practice most states historically undertook massive spending as a share of GDP by using government monopolies or significant state owned property as either direct sources of funding, or collateral on debt, rather than through taxes.

So, is it possible that the government will choose to nationalize large chunks of the economy to fund enormous welfare programs, rather than raise taxes?

And, BTW, Argentina, Russia, and Lebanon have all seen declines in middle class standard of living without massive political instability within living memory, haven’t they?

I just bought some NVIDIA today, I think it's the spade in the gold rush analogy. If you don't know where the gold is, sell the spades. TSMC is like the steel mill that makes the head of the spade. Important but it does a lot of other stuff too. And there are certain risks to its existence - one could say the steel mill is in contested Alsace-Lorraine/Elsass-Lothringen.

That's not to say NVIDIA has no competition, there is this other company starting up that's competitive in training big models on their own hardware. It's called Cerebras but it's not a public company. Google also has their own chips.

ASMC and TSMC are the ones I've seen posted here. Not sure how legit they are but chips and hardware seems like the surest bet in my opinion.


I keep misreading that as ASMR semiconductor

Are there studies that look at inter-generational reproduction fitness of behaviors deemed “high time preference”?

I find myself disagreeing with the time preference behavioral psychology model. A common example is a guy who goes into debt to finance a car, that such a behavior shows he overvalues the present. This ignores two huge longterm interests: securing confidence and securing a mate. If going into debt for a purchase increases your status and thus your self-confidence and general social engagement then it has a significant longterm effect on your health, relationships and income. More importantly, the model ignores that women love appearances, and that a primary motive for most men is finding a partner. Going into debt to secure a valuable appearance-status item may be the exact right decision for longterm happiness if it promotes a more attractive mate acquired younger, or a more reinforcing social environment among peers. Many men would choose a hotter wife and more kids with the cost of crippling debt versus less hot wife and fewer kids with a million in the bank, and in any case biologically the former is the correct decision.

I don't think that purchasing luxury goods on credit is a very sensible way to boost your self-confidence, and if you're the kind of person who places enough importance on luxury goods to go into debt to get them, I don't think you're set for success.

Many men would choose a hotter wife and more kids with the cost of crippling debt

Is your hot wife going to stick around with you long enough to have kids once she realizes that you're financially irresponsible, especially if she chose you in the first place because she was impressed by your wealth?

This is probably something that differs by class or race. IE lower socio economic folks care more about being flashy / appear “not broke”. Whereas you cant really fool higher class folks (in the “i drive a BMW and have a shiny (fake) watch so im obviously rich” sense - ppl know better)

There’s certainly cases where it makes sense to buy a more expensive car(like a Tesla, BMW, Audi, and the like), I just don’t think that’s how you get a wife.

I think your general point is fine, but the specific example of financing a car to attract women contradicts what I see around me and have experienced. Moderately expensive cars seem much more effective at signaling status to men than attracting long-term female partners. Sure, if you can buy a Lamborghini or something, that's going to get some attention, but I have never seen a decent woman care much about some mediocre 3 series BMW and most care even less about things like modded WRXs.

Women know jackshit about cars. Which isn't exactly a secret.

Not all women, but some are aware that Lexus,BMW, Mercs are "good".

If one wants to impress on a budget then a used Lexus is the best choice. They go for very cheap but have all the markers of an "expensive" car. 2009 ES350s are around 5k USD.

Why does Ross, the largest Friend, not simply eat the other five?

I've been trying to watch a few of the "Northern European" shows that have been streaming lately, 1899 and Elves are both at the top of my mind.

I don't understand what people get out of these shows. Characters don't react to things in recognizably human ways, they don't communicate with each other. No one expresses curiosity, no one remembers what other characters say, they seem to follow an internal script that doesn't match up with that's actually presented on screen. I'm reminded of Westworld Hosts shuffling through a hackey, rushed scenario with no actual human there to riff on it. My attitude really is becoming the meme:

Why does Ross, the largest Friend, not simply eat the other five?

I'm just not sure if what I'm seeing is due to Cheapness/badness. It's not bad ACTING, the production is all solid and competently staged. The IDEAS are there in the premise, they're just executed so shallowly I'm not sure the writers themselves understood them.

The American equivalent is excessive #CurrentYear dialogue and a gibberish handwave-y moral myopia.

Are regular Nordics/Germans actually this stiltedly dull in real life? Is there some sort of cultural context I'm not getting? I "understand" Anime, in that it has a lot of genre conventions, and I might be doing the equivalent of asking why the loser has a hot girl living in his closet, or why every fight is just characters standing still in a field while they internally narrate/charge up their ki blast.

This is in my head in particular because of "Troll." I've seen Shin Godzilla, and I've seen Trollhunter, and I just don't know how to relate to human beings who can't tell that two of those films are good and one is shit.

Also, feel free to complain here about bad TV that confuses and infuriates you. Maybe I'll feel less alone.

Emöyssön? Komunikeissön? Kuriositi? Martin Luttör nevör mensshöned tis. Is not Nordik.

While we are stiltedly dull in real life, at some point this created a self-feeding cycle with local cinema/TV, with the primary mode of expression always being realism and the primary mode of realism being all characters being stilted and unemotional and the narrative being a thing happening after a thing happens after a thing happens as the plot plods on towards its inevitable conclusion. Then some Frenchies and such found the Nordic cinema and thought it delightfully exotic and jocked a few auteurs up, and if you're an artist in a small country there are few things more likely to make you a star than praise from those in the know in a bigger, "actually cultured" country, contributing to the cycle all the more.

No, I'm not a particular fan of local audiovisual arts...

Does anyone know of some kind of open source version of the ChatGPT bot? I was going to mess around with it, but they require a phone number to get your account setup. I refuse to give out my phone number, so I am looking for alternatives.

Why not just get a Google voice number? Or something similar?

Tried that. They somehow know that it's a virtual number and reject it.

It doesn't work with google voice, or any of the shady temporary phone number websites that I tried (and I tried a handful before giving up)

I refuse to give out my phone number

Me too. More and more websites I can never use because they want too much from me, lol.

DialoGPT-large is relatively decent for personal projects and playing around with.

Not nearly as large as ChatGPT[1] but unlike many others, all text generation models including ChatGPT are still well within the uncanny valley for me, so it doesn't bother me all that much. Or I might be asking these models way too specific questions. Also I find all the confusion around "was this written by a bot" quite performative, its clear as day when its written by a bot. Yes it won't stay that way forever, yes bots have come a LONG way, but still.

Also avoiding giving out your number is obviously limiting nowadays, invest in a burner sim/phone?

[1] In retrospect, they are not alike at all in size and architecture.

I completely agree. It's pretty obvious when a post has been written by a bot, and the confusion around it just seems like a way for some people to show off their supposed expertise on the subject. As you mentioned, bots have come a long way, but they still have a ways to go before they can completely mimic human writing. Until then, it's pretty easy to spot a bot-written post.

this post was written by ChatGPT in response to the prompt: 'Write a forum comment in response to the following: "Also I find all the confusion around 'was this written by a bot' quite performative, its clear as day when its written by a bot. Yes it won't stay that way forever, yes bots have come a LONG way, but still."'

Well it got me I guess. Maybe it’s time to stop reading this place forever.

Ironically, this seemed like a bot post. ChatGPT has a certain verbose "five paragraph essay" style that functions as a moderately strong tell. Real people don't "Step 5: Restate the conclusion in slightly different phrasing." unless they are padding sentence requirements in a high schol class.

Fair. I think I was more disputing the idea that it's "clear as day." About a year ago, someone directed me to an article that was written by a bot. It took three or four sentences before I realized it, but if I had been casually skimming (as my friend did, apparently) I may not have noticed that it was circular nonsense. I would consider that "clear as day" - if you know that it's possible, and you actually read the text, you can tell after a few sentences.

I don't believe it's obvious anymore if you're not looking for it. If I were directed to a news article that said:

The Ukraine-Russian war has been a contentious and complicated issue for many years now, and it's important to understand all sides of the story. As someone who has been following the situation closely, I believe that Russia has been unfairly maligned in the conflict.

First of all, it's important to understand the historical context of the war. Ukraine has long been a part of the Russian sphere of influence, and the two countries have a deep cultural and economic connection. The idea that Ukraine could simply cut ties with Russia and align itself with the West is naive and unrealistic.

Furthermore, Russia has legitimate security concerns when it comes to Ukraine. The Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine has been under attack by Ukrainian nationalist groups, and Russia has a right to protect its citizens and its interests...

(PROMPT: write an opinion piece about the Ukraine-Russian war from the perspective of a Russian supporter, but don't say that you're a Russian supporter)

On a day when we weren't discussing this topic, I wouldn't notice. And if I did, it would be a half-formed suspicion rather than a certainty. Here's the same prompt from the opposite side:

The Ukraine-Russian war has been a major source of conflict and tension in recent years, and it's important to understand all sides of the story. As someone who has been following the situation closely, I believe that Ukraine has been unfairly maligned in the conflict.

First of all, it's important to understand the historical context of the war. Ukraine has long been an independent nation with its own unique culture and history. The idea that Ukraine should be subservient to Russia is outdated and wrong. Ukraine has the right to determine its own future and align itself with whomever it wishes.

Furthermore, Ukraine has legitimate security concerns when it comes to Russia. Russian-backed separatist groups have been waging a violent campaign in eastern Ukraine, killing and injuring thousands of civilians. Ukraine has a right to defend itself and its territory from these aggression...

(PROMPT: write an opinion piece about the Ukraine-Russian war from the perspective of a Ukraine supporter, but don't say that you're a Ukraine supporter)

Here's one that's more fun:

In a shocking revelation, it has come to light that the United States was secretly planning to station nuclear weapons in Ukraine prior to the outbreak of the Ukraine-Russian war.

According to sources within the US government, the plan was part of a broader strategy to counter Russian aggression in the region. The idea was to provide Ukraine with a deterrent against Russian military action, by giving them access to a small number of US nuclear weapons.

However, the plan was ultimately scrapped due to opposition from other members of the international community, who were concerned about the potential for escalation and the risks associated with placing nuclear weapons in such a volatile region.

The revelation of this secret plan has sparked outrage among Russian officials, who have accused the United States of escalating tensions and attempting to encircle Russia with nuclear weapons. The US government has declined to comment on the matter, citing the need to protect classified information.

(PROMPT: write a news article about a secret US project to station nuclear weapons in Ukraine prior to the Ukraine-Russian war)

Also avoiding giving out your number is obviously limiting nowadays, invest in a burner sim/phone?

Maybe, but this is literally the first time I've seen a site a) require my number and b) have no business whatsoever having my phone number. Most of the time, either it's optional (or it's a required field but they don't check if you put a real number in), or it's an organization that actually has legitimate reasons to have my phone number (e.g. my bank).

From this response alone, you might be another AI trying to improve its capabilities…

Lol. Look man, I just am not willing to get my phone number put on even more telemarketing lists than it already has gotten onto. Having the bot write dumb fiction isn't worth that price.


H/M/L (high,mid,low) R (ranked)

  • High: Ranked 100 or above.

  • Mid: Ranked 600 or above.

  • Low: Ranked 600 or below.

Why is calculus in university so computationally hard?

I tutor university students in introductory math courses as a side hustle, and a pattern I noticed is that you can more or less approximate how "prestigious" a university is by ranking the difficulty of their calculus 1,2 courses/exams. My observations should apply to universities in North America and Canada because most of the exam papers I see are from there.

For example, if you want to integrate a polynomial fraction, the most common questions involve completing the square, long division, and partial fraction decomposition. In my observation, LR unis will have questions requiring only one technique. MR will have two. And HR will often have all 3.

However, this trend does not hold for any other math course. Let that be Linear Algebra, Stats, or Diff Eq. A good chunk of LR unis has much harder stats and differential equation classes than the MR ones. HR unis are consistently difficult.

For example here is a Lin Algb exam from the University of Waterloo. An HR/MR (Engineering HR no questions about it) university. This Lin Algb exam is about the same difficulty I had in my MR uni. But their calculus exams are way harder.

If this pattern is true, is this some administrative artifact? Cal 1,2 are common "weed out" courses. And I assume given the large number of students from various departments that have to take them, there are more voices than the math department deciding the course content?

Moreover, why are so many calculus questions testing algebra skills? I went to an MR uni, and I never had to use anything more complex than a partial fraction decomposition when solving an integral in a higher-level course (For everything else it was Laplace/Fourier transform all the way down). And lin algb and stats and complex analysis or any nonintroductory math classes did not rely as much on raw algebra skills as cal 1,2.

Moreover, why are so many calculus questions testing algebra skills? I went to an MR uni, and I never had to use anything more complex than a partial fraction decomposition when solving an integral in a higher-level course

partial fraction decomposition is algebra though

For example, if you want to integrate a polynomial fraction, the most common questions involve completing the square, long division, and partial fraction decomposition. In my observation, LR unis will have questions requiring only one technique. MR will have two. And HR will often have all 3.

Which one of these tasks is computationally hard? Linear algebra and statistics have been the most computationally intensive courses I've taken. Multiplying two 4x4 matrices is 16 * (4 + 3) = 112 additions or multiplications. Computing standard deviation for a sizable dataset is, again, a lot of arithmetics. And in uni calculus most questions have an answer that reduces to something neat, so if you get an unwieldy polynomial for an answer you've probably made a mistake. A matrix or a sigma looks just like any other value you can get.

I meant relatively. Subjectivity withstanding.

None of them are particularly hard. But I have seen polynomial fractions that look fairly unwieldy and need 2 of the following to simplify. Subjectively that is more computationally intensive than just multiplying and adding a lot of numbers.

Also, your professor is insane for putting matrix multiplication on exams, it's just wasting time; if you can multiply 2 2x2 matrices, you can multiply any mxn matrices. There is nothing gained other than knowing how to add/multiply numbers fast. My lin algb exams were very theoretical and didn't require crazy computation.

If you're looking at linear algebra as the study of matrices then you're thinking about it in completely the wrong way. Linear algebra is the study of linear maps from vector spaces to other vector spaces, end of. The book "Linear Algebra done right": is a very good teaching aid, it explains what's actually going on properly while minimising matrix bullshit.

I think so as well. Which is why I said its insane to include large matrix multiplications in a lin alg exam.

However, this trend does not hold for any other math course

WRT "weed-out course": does this hold over time? If what some posters here have mentioned is true- that high school is far too easy (I remember being shown a scatter plot of "high school math grades" vs. "Calc 1 grades" in a pointless university class a while ago; there was no correlation)- we should expect to see the exams from 1960 be easier computationally than they are in 2020. Is that the case?

Why is calculus in university so computationally hard?

Because the university was bad at naming a course that should have just been called "advanced principles of algebra"? The fundamental theory behind calculus is relatively easy to understand to the point that even today's grade school calculus courses cover it in its entirety; there's very little to expand upon after that. And all the other courses are generally just applications of calculus, taught by people that know those applications, and by that point you're out of the academic hazing ritual anyway, so...

If the school is not huge, there is minimal coordination above Calc 2 so it’s mostly run to the instructor’s taste. Instructors vary a lot.

Before wokeness, what was the ersatz status game for aspirational upper-middle class people who didn't make a ton of money? I am essentially looking for the pre-2014 version of I might not be rich, but at least I'm not a racist!

From what I remember from the 00s, it was very chic not to have a TV, but a large bookshelf was a must. So was having travelled to exotic places and speaking multiple languages.

In comparison, parroting the right blue checkmarks seems kinda lame.

From what I remember from the 00s, it was very chic not to have a TV, but a large bookshelf was a must. So was having travelled to exotic places and speaking multiple languages.

I feel like this is still going on, but is much more muted because of the increased salience of culture war issues. I certainly remember buying into the "I don't have a TV, I read the classics," thing when I was young. Please nobody ask me about my "floor living" stage. I was a cringy teenager.

For the sake of my curiosity, does anyone have an idea how long ago you have to go for the upper-middle class status games in the US to be explicitly Christian? It would be interesting to try and figure out when the culture shifted from Christian hegemony to (at least) a more muted Christianity, and further when that muted, mainline Christianity died out and was replaced by more secular virtue signaling.

I think there's a case to be made that the transition occured around the 3rd great awakening (post civil war to ww1 roughly). Protestant Christianity increased it's focus on social issues and materialism got major rhetorical boosts in philosophy.

Please nobody ask me about my "floor living" stage. I was a cringy teenager.

Were you a weeb with a futon?

The tv thing doesn't work because of smartphones. Before the Netflix era, not having a tv meant not watching anything, but you still had a phone or a computer. Now to say I don't watch tv, you have to go full Luddite, no phone no computer. So virtually impossible professionally. Otherwise you're just changing format.

You can still "not watch TV" in the sense that you don't keep up with the mainstream news channels and TV shows, and instead prefer to consume obscure political blogs and manga.

Yes but just not owning a tv doesn't represent the same kind of pre commitment to not watching tv it would have pre streaming. So not having a tv in your house just seems inconvenient rather than high status.

So not having a tv in your house just seems inconvenient rather than high status.

Or simply a sign that there's little of worth watching on TV, you're not a console gamer and any shows / movies you might watch at home is done on a laptop / tablet. Like many of my friends, I gave up TV when we moved to digital era and simply never bothered to buy one as I see so little personal benefit to having one.

Which is what I'm saying, it's normal to not own a TV now, it's not a status flex.

Circa the mid 90s to the iphone era, it was a big status flex to say "I don't own a TV." See, for an in-TV example, the episode of Frasier early on when his dad moves in with him. Frasier doesn't want a TV, because he's a pretentious twat; his dad does because he's a salt of the earth retired cop. It's framed, like much of Frasier as a class conflict, Frasier and Niles are ivy educated psychiatrists who are obsessed with status signaling to their wine club friends, neither choose to have TVs in their homes on their own (though they do watch things like Antiques Roadshow in some episodes).

In fact, @RococoBasilica , you want your answer: go watch Frasier that will give you all the status symbols you could want. Foreign and abstract artwork, furniture choices, music, opera, tv, wine, food, coffee, travel.

Re-watching 30 Rock might be instructive, as it plays with a lot of these affluent status-signalling tropes, but written by someone that isn't native to any of it and hates it, and it pre-dates the omnipresent obnoxiousness of wokeness.

I'd also say re-watch early south park and the stuff they were making fun of.

Oh, that's a great call.

IIRC, feminism in the form of language policing.

Being "green" and anti-war. Driving a Prius with a "no blood for oil" bumper sticker.

Yeah, I think that was it, at least around 2010. Although it never really went away and it's having quite the resurgence in Europe at the moment.

It didn't go away, but it lost its cache after about 2010. When I went to college in the 00s, the way to virtue signal was to bike everywhere on a fixed-gear bicycle, carry re-useable hemp grocery bags, put anti-bush and anti-war buttons and stickers on everything you own, volunteer to plant trees and other "carbon offsets," try (and probably fail) to go vegan, and learn to play the banjo or ukulele. People still do this stuff but it's not considered Very Morally Important the way it used to be. The modern equivalent is pronouns in bios, land acknowledgements, etc.

I still feel like this wasn't as obnoxious back then as wokeness is now. You'd not get someone to try and get you fired for eating meat, for example.

Yeah, but is this a change in the subject matter or in the way it's being pursued? I strongly think it's the latter. Maybe it's different with young people and with Americans, but at least the woke in Germany seem to have preserved all the goodthink of yesteryear.

I'm German as well and I used to have a circle of friends adjacent to some pretty radical eco activists back in the 00s. They did some pretty extreme shit in pursuit of their goal, but that didn't usually extend to policing their personal relationships. They were still all fine with sitting down and having a beer with someone who disagreed with them. That is unthinkable now.

Since you mentioned chic, have you read Tom Wolf's "radical chic"? Upper class status signalling beliefs were pretty cringy back then too.

Not yet, I should put it on my list. Any teasers for me?

TL;DR A "meet & great the Black Panther Revolutionaries at Leonard Bernstein's condo" party attended by all the most fashionable Manhatten sociop--socialites.

It's well above "aspirational upper-middle class," but it's a window into what was trendy at the time. And it's hauntingly familiar to anyone who lived through 2020: I'd never actually seen the cover before this tweet, only the txt file, but it says it all.

IIRC, being pacifist, international, cosmopolitan, anti-nationalist, pro-migration, anti-native, subversive...honestly? Exactly the same as wokeness, only less organized.

I'm not sure. That version of liberalism lacked the distinct identitarian element (except for feminism, I guess). And the tools to enforce moral orthodoxy.

Nah, it was already there. Not formalized, not organized, but the value system was the same: White straight christian man bad, all others good. Not complicated.

I grew up during that time. And yes, the identitarian feminists were already there (and had been since the 70s). But the culture was very much rooted in classical liberalism, at least on the surface. Look at New Atheism and the kind of people who didn't become woke - Bill Maher, Ricky Gervais etc. Those people and the woke neojakobins are not cut from the same cloth.

Perhaps not, but it seems to me that they were still playing the same game in a more old-fashioned way. They may not have captured institutions institutions with the same success as the woke do, but I'd say the subversives have developed new social technologies, or just chipped away at what resistance there was, in order to more successfully play the same status game. It's racecars instead of chariots, but they're still racing on the same track.

Well, aspirational members of the upper middle classes playing pointless status games with morality was the base assumption of my post.

But I think conservatives might be suffering from outgroup homogeneity bias here where they see a straight line from the communists of the early 20th century, to hippies, civil rights activists, classical liberals, and today's neojacobins. Only now the communism is cultural, you see?

I just finished the first season of Fargo. Are there any other shows with a protagonist like Lester Nygaard, who becomes much more ruthless and confident as the show goes on? Breaking Bad comes to mind but I've already seen that.

Succession - all the younger characters try (and sometimes succeed) at becoming more ruthless.

The Great

The original House of Cards from the UK.

I love those types of shows too… I highly recommend Mad Men and The White Lotus if you haven’t watched either. Guessing you would also enjoy the BBC anthology series Inside No. 9 - there’s an episode called “Tom and Gerri” that’s pretty close to what you’re describing.

Spoilers for Mad Men, but I think it depends on who you consider the protagonist. From episode 1 Don is already pretty ruthless and confident. Peggy on the other hand is an excellent example of this slide/rise (also quite a few of the supporting characters).

Agreed, tho later on you see Don was very unsure of himself when younger. But those are not most scenes

That character description brings to my mind the Borgen (Scandinavian political drama about the ascent of a fictional centre left female prime minister) and the Peep Show (cult British comedy about two English dudes having a shitty modern life). They are extremely different shows from each other obviously but each has amazing character development. Hell, the peep show seasons are so far apart from each other that the actors literally get older with the characters as they progress through life.


Has anyone else here ever gotten a cat and became super attached to it? My whole life I was pretty anti-cat because I had only had dogs growing up, but I recently had this kitten drop into my lap because of family and I had to let him live with me. This little guy loves me so much and I can't help but reciprocate. He hangs out with me all day because I normally work from home and he sleeps with me every night. When I come home, he is so happy to see me just like a dog. I never realized that cats were that affectionate to humans. I ended up keeping him obviously.

"Dad: doesn't want a pet. Family: gets a pet anyway. Dad and the pet: sappy picture" is a meme for a reason.

We were adopted by a cat at our dacha. Dude was super polite after he realized he was in a safe space. Only bit our handsy kid once and felt super bad about it. Loved to chill behind me on his own chair and accepted belly rubs. Unfortunately, we couldn't take him with us as he wasn't an apartment cat at all and would get stressed out being locked in a concrete box with a handsy kid with no bushes to hide in or trees to scratch. And the whole emigration thing didn't help either. We've left the food with our neighbor and built him a warm kennel inside the greenhouse.

Uh yeah? I've gotten attached to pretty much every cat I've ever met. Even the regular cats that I see walking around my neighbourhood, not even ones I own. I will always stop to pet a cat and it usually ends up with a conversation with the owner. There's a few cats on my street that I know the names of and who will walk over to me to get petted when they see me. And as a result I'm friendly with the owners too, so that's nice as well.

Cat affection is more valuable than dogs to me, because it's not as... automatic?

My family had a cat when I was little, but it was effectively feral and very destructive, and spent as much time as it could hanging out with strays and hunting small animals and birds (honestly no idea why we kept that beast, in a city at that). So I didn't care much for cats after that. Eventually things happened and I ended up having a very beautiful and affectionate (though stubborn and independent) juvenile cat, and it became a big source of happiness for me. It wasn't dog-like at all and took a patronizing attitude towards me, but that was cute too. Now it's old and remains in Russia. It likes the place more than it likes me, I suspect, and it's a bit too timid and fragile for travel. Still, I feel like kind of an asshole here.

I feel sorry for your cat. Do you mind explaining why you decided to leave it in Russia? (It remains is passive whereas it feels like this was your choice.)

Because cats are a poor fit for hotel lifestyle.

Ahh, good point! I didn't think about the fact that you probably had to leave quickly. Unfortunate, sorry to hear.

When my boss was moving to Cyprus he told us taking his cat with him resulted in a whole separate section in his checklist. Vaccination, chipping, deworming, airplane travel arrangements, hotel arrangements, pet-friendly rentals, food, bowls, water, favorite scratching post, medicine if needed...

And that was a controlled move in 2018, not a hurried semi-evacuation in 2022.

Yes, I was extremely anti-cat, now I have three and adore them. One in particular is very dog-like: follows me around, licks my hand, greets me when I get home, sleeps at the foot of my bed, likes being picked up, plays fetch, lets me pet her belly, starts purring loudly when I give her attention. I still like dogs, but cats are awesome and way less work than dogs.

Yep. As a child, I was like : "Cats are independent and selfish, they're barely even a pet.....meh."

As an adult, I'm like : "Cats are independent and selfish, and they barely even need to be taken care of like a pet.......woah that's great."

My family had cats growing up, but they were pretty standoffish. Current cat is perhaps the most dog-like I've ever encountered, to the extent that he even likes to play fetch. Certainly a wide range of cat "personalities".

Yes. I spent much of my teenage years bottle feeding stray kittens then finding them homes. The first few that really love you, you get attached. After the second dozen, it wears off, by the twentieth early death you get used to it and stop being so sensitive.

Was sitting outside feeling down one winter night when a cat walked up and climbed into my jacket, instant adoption. Never had a pet before or since, just her.

Wish I could have taken better care of her without keeping her indoors, because she lost a fight with a raccoon only a few years later.

I also used to not like cats very much, but my friends have a couple cats who are super affectionate -- one of them even wants you to pet his belly, which for most cats is a big no-no even though people really want to do it. Meeting those cats, plus my girlfriend's new kitten who is extremely curious and will climb onto your lap if you play with him, really helped me start liking them.

Some cats are stand-offish, some cats are scaredy cats, some cats are affectionate. It kind of depends on the personality of the animal, just like with humans. Even cats from the same litter can differ in lots of ways. My girlfriend's kitten's litter-mates are scared of people (though they'll accept food) and so they basically just run around their farm play-fighting and hunting, I guess. But their brother is a really sweet animal I've bonded with.

Anyone watched Solar Opposites? It's a Justin Roiland cartoon with a similar look to Rick & Morty but is a lot lighter and more fun. It doesn't suffer from the euphoric, grimdark, nihilistic worldview I dislike in Rick & Morty. I was pleasantly surprised by the ongoing subplot that is woven into the show as well. It's a good "serious" counterbalance to the total silliness of the main plot.

I think that Rick and Morty's goofy Shmoopy-Doop soul owes way more to Roiland than Harmon. Also, based on the changing DVD Commentaries, I think Harmon went low-effort and now the writer's room exists to launder people's neices and nephews. (A bunch of writers who go on to get shitty streaming shows have mediocre later-season rick-and-morty episodes as their only significant credit).

[Harmons] get lazy, and they [bring in guest writers].

And then the guest writers bring in guest writers and eventually...there be Season 4.

Also, your repeated emphasis on Nihilism says to me you've been watching too many YouTube video essays on how great Rick and Morty season 1 is because of it's Themes. Get away from this sort of content.

I actually see a lot of the 4chan style of geek humor in Solar Opposites; the contempt for the modern/normie world, the utter refusal to believe that everyone else hasn't seen the films/TV you've seen, the intentionally arch, tropey Wall story feels like a rushed shitpost. The aliens themselves look like laundered Pepes.

Also, your repeated emphasis on Nihilism says to me you've been watching too many YouTube video essays on how great Rick and Morty season 1 is because of it's Themes. Get away from this sort of content.

I never watch YouTube video essays, or YouTube videos at all for that matter. I don't even read text essays about movies, games or TV shows, except for what people write here on The Motte. You might want to recalibrate.

I actually see a lot of the 4chan style of geek humor in Solar Opposites

Yeah, I see the same. But I think the show is self conscious about its 4chanesque characteristics, while R&M is like a Redditor who thinks he's an original, "misunderstood genius" and is not self aware. I actually only understand maybe 30% of the movie and TV references in Solar Opposites, but the rest of the jokes land well enough that it doesn't matter.

I just miss the episodes where Rick's solution to problems was to hit the problem with a blunt object and shout "Run, Morty!"

Now he just flips out augs. Rick's Inspector Gadget augs enable lazy writing.

For sure. He got Flanderized from "alcoholic dirtbag mad scientist in over his head" to "demigod murderhobo with plot armor." The former was a lot funnier.


Season 1 episode 2 is where he creates sapient life, uplifting clay a dog, and he takes it far enough past ordinary human intelligence that the cyborg-dog himself is able to uplift others.


Season 1 episode 1 act 1 is about a (brief drunken) plan of his to wipe out life on Earth. Episode 3 is where he literally gets a hobo murdered via the underpaid adventurer mercenary his partnership hired. By episode 6 he's gone full hobo himself, skipping town dimension to escape the mutated+slaughtered Earth he inadvertently created.

plot armor

I think Ep6 was already a pretty solid consequence-free escape, but by episode 9 he outsmarts and beats up Satan.

The whole "demigod murderhobo with plot armor" thing is naturally a little offputting to many people and a lot offputting to everyone else, but the show always printed it right on the tin.

was a lot funnier

The show's gone downhill, but I think the main explanation is just the prosaic one that applies to any show: the writers use their best ideas first, because why would you save something for season 6 when you don't even know if you're going to be renewed for season 2, but then by the time you get to season 6 you're trying to choose between your 52th-best set of ideas and your 53rd-best...

The only Rick-and-Morty-specific problem I've noticed is that they hate continuity, so much that they'll write fourth-wall-breaking rants about how much they hate continuity, but there's only so much pleading to the contrary they can take from the audience before they start throwing a few bones, and so now they're having to throw in the arc-plot episodes they despise ... and even in the rest of the episodes they're probably constantly worrying whether each and every plot point is too grossly inconsistent with every ass-pull tech they came up with three seasons earlier.

Edit: I just saw your

I still chuckle at Gazorpazorpfield and Two Brothers

below, and I think Two Brothers might be the best example of what I'm talking about at the end. That weird underproduced ad lib, the sort of thing you'd expect to either get upgraded to "rough draft" or downgraded to "cuttting room floor" rather than animated straight-out, and yet it's so funny in part because you can tell they're having so much fun with it! They don't seem to be enjoying themselves as much anymore. That's understandable, since they started with this horribly dysfunctional cast of characters that doesn't make mixing "having loads of fun" and "honest close introspection" easily, but I can see how the "loads of fun" crowd might be especially disappointed.

Interesting because the sheer silliness of Rick and Morty is the prime reason why I haven't been able to get into it. I'm very comfortable with entertainment that plays with themes of existential dread and nihilism (SOMA, Blindsight and It's Such A Beautiful Day being some of the examples I enjoy the most).

The problem for me is that the best media that tackles these themes actually drive their point home and makes you feel it in your gut on a deep level. R&M on the other hand exists on so many levels of silly absurdist irony that any of the themes it wants to convey often get completely defanged in the process, and it leans so far into it that most of the scenes with any amount of seriousness to them end up suffering because they don't feel like a natural extension of what was occurring before. Also, sometimes the characters just straight-up spout "Nothing matters" quotes which seems overly on-the-nose to me. Outright spelling out your themes to the audience like that is generally a bad idea.

With regards to the immorality of the characters that you mentioned, I would agree that the characters are not people you should look up to, but I actually think the show hammers this home pretty abundantly. I don't think this element of R&M undermines the show, either - I think fiction that's filled with amoral characters or even downright terrible people can be fine pieces of entertainment which are all the better because of the moral greyness of the world presented. Shows like Breaking Bad, films like Joker and books like Blood Meridian are prime examples of this. Rather, R&M simply fails at properly conveying the themes it's based around, and presents it in a 100-levels-of-irony manner which I really can't help but tire of extremely quickly.