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Friday Fun Thread for January 20, 2023

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

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What are some niche things you like to watch on youtube? The more obscure/random the better. Here are some of mine:

  • People grocery shopping in Seoul/Tokyo (they don't speak, they just show them picking up items and putting them in their carts)

  • People who use metal detectors and "fish" with magnets to find old relics (usually in the Eastern US and Western Europe, lots of civil war bullets and things like that are found)

  • This guy who builds huts and other primitive technologies in the woods by himself

  • Nail art videos

  • People building small models of things (like dioramas etc)

  • People doing traditional crafts (especially Japanese art craft like urushi and kintsugi, wagashi making etc)

  • Old documentaries (especially from the 70s or about foreign cultures or groups of people who are unfamiliar to me)

  • Videos from people who've bought castles in France showing their homes

  • How It's Made type videos (particularly bakery food production)

  • "Walk with me" type videos where people post high res videos of their walk through neighborhoods or nature

  • 70s cable tv variety hour skits

  • Women doing their makeup while talking about true crime stories

  • Videos of people eating at fancy cafes and restaurants in Paris

  • Videos about people who live in far flung places like rural Alaska or Siberia and how they survive or make their home

  • "Nostalgic footage" videos ranging from early 1900s street scene footage to compilations of everyday 70s and 80s scenes in east Asia

  • Animated fairy tale videos (usually anime or Eastern European ones for me)

  • Soviet movies (I particularly like fantasy ones for girls)

  • Animal Crossing island tours (people showing you how they've decorated their islands)

  • Walmart Story Time videos (mostly girls telling you about when they worked at walmart and weird stuff they saw or experienced)

I could go on but that's probably enough haha, let me know if anyone is interested enough in any of these and I can give recommendations for videos or channels to check out. But yeah I'm always looking for new interesting ways people use youtube so I'd love to hear what you all are into

I enjoy the old atomic weapons test films, many of them where well produced and quite cinematic: Plowshare device designed for canal digging Castle bravo Etc.

Japanese train POVs:

This guy's 'day in the life of' videos:

Assorted orangutan and gorilla clips:

Asian street food vendors:

That train video is great, I'm traveling now but once I get back home I'm gonna love watching it on my big tv.

Thai night markets are awesome, I got to go to one a few months ago, that video you linked is making me hungry now haha

Great topic, I am very much into YouTube channels with unique proposition values, one that is remarkably great is

I am also in sapiosexual love with Vihart, the mathemusician, possibly the most brilliant woman on youtube, if not on earth

Throughout the decade I have been able to find the ultimate artists though, such as the unique masterpiece that is Umami's Interface

And the vocally unique: The Minute Hour

The squids are cool

Oh I found Vihart on soundcloud, I like her Christmas songs she has posted there. If you like her, she kind of reminds me a little bit of Maya Ben David: (though I think Maya seems a little more into irony/satire whereas Vihart seems more genuine from the bits I've watched just now)

Nostalgic footage" videos ranging from early 1900s street scene footage to compilations of everyday 70s and 80s scenes in east Asia

CR's Video Vaults is a good channel for old Irish stuff in this vein. They're usually only a couple of minutes long.

Nice tip, thank you! The videos on that channel remind me of this documentary I watched recently that I found engaging (ignoring the clickbait video title, the documentary itself is good):

Object restoration hobby videos. A lot of them are suspiciously clickbaity but some are more straight forward. Clickbaity ones tend towards digging up a cosmetically damaged high value object like a Rolex, the straight forward ones are more like restoring a rusty antique bench vice or a pair of bespoke leather shoes.

Big Clive. An affable Scottish electical engineer who dismantles and analyses the circuitry of discount shop gadgets.

Techmoan. A man who buys and reviews a mixture of high end vintage hifi components that were out of the ordinary buyer's reach when released, or low end Amazon novelty hifi components that are beyond the ordinary buyer's good taste.

SoftWhiteUnderbelly. A retired commercial advertising photographer conducts open-ended studio interviews with the inhabitants of Los Angele's Skid Row. This is the one I'd most recommend to Motte readers for the obvious sociological aspects. The common thread running through many of their narratives is a shitty childhood that the person assumes is basically normal. While they often have a sympathic story reading the comments is mind boggling to see people praising pimps, johns and heroin dealers with bottom shelf platitudes about what nice boys they are. It's like they watched The Wire and can't tell Bubbles from Snoop.

IsaacArthur. A man with an amusing accent (Virginia?) analyses sci-fi technology through the lens of real world engineering possibilities.

This guy who builds huts and other primitive technologies in the woods by himself

The ones I've watched always seemed dubious, it might just be the one channel I landed on. A guy makes a beautiful swimming pool in the jungle using only a knife and a bucket... hmm. At the least it seems like they always pick a spot with the softest, loosest, most diggable dirt in the whole world. There's never half of two brick walls buried four inches down.

People doing traditional crafts (especially Japanese art craft like urushi and kintsugi, wagashi making etc)

Link it up. I love watching craft and Japanese woodwork videos.


This one is really cool, thanks for telling us about it. I love the show Intervention and this channel reminds me of like raw footage from the interview portions of that show which is cool.

IsaacArthur. A man with an amusing accent (Virginia?)

It sounds to me like he has a bit of a speech or hearing disability, the one man I know who speaks similarly to him is from California but I think he grew up in a very poor household and didn't have speech therapy but most people who would speak this way as adults have had their speech corrected. I only listened to a few minutes of him speaking though so I'm not sure.

primitive technologies

Yup, the guy I was talking about is the one @JhanicManifold linked to. Primitive Technology.

Link it up. I love watching craft and Japanese woodwork videos.

Incredible braided cord:

Handmade fans:

Also everything else on that channel is great:

Good video on Japanese carpentry:

And not quite as relevant but I'm obsessed with this Japanese fruit sandwich making video:

speech or hearing disability

I realised after posting I probably should have said something like speech impediment instead of describing it as amusing. I've seen lots of people say that his voice makes it unwatchable but combined with the accent it's a little extra part of the appeal for me, and it's too prominent not to mention it. A hearing problem would make sense too.

The ones I've watched always seemed dubious, it might just be the one channel I landed on. A guy makes a beautiful swimming pool in the jungle using only a knife and a bucket... hmm. At the least it seems like they always pick a spot with the softest, loosest, most diggable dirt in the whole world. There's never half of two brick walls buried four inches down.

You've found the copycats, the original Primitive Technology dude is extremely impressive and realistic. The swimming pool videos are obviously fake and done with modern machinery, the dude I linked is making bricks, vases, kilns, hatchets, etc. which are much more realistic for a single guy alone in the jungle.

Thanks, bookmarked for later.

Japanese woodworking is amazing, I love how the techniques are so similar but still very different from Western woodworking, like pull vs push planes.

Random walking videos in random Asian cities, especially a Chinese city I pick randomly from a list. NHK documentaries (the filming style is maximally relaxed, nothing like it exists in American documentaries IMO). ToldInStone, a Roman historian who makes wonderful short videos on Roman life. Videos on old video games like Sanitorium (1998)

I like how A Christmas Carol has so many adaptations that interpret the story in different ways. I wish there were more stories that were adapted that often. My two favorites are the Robert Zemeckis mocap film (which is great at making you feel the horror that Scrooge feels) and the Muppets one (which is the most heartwarming one).

I wonder if Great Gatsby is gonna get a ton of well-liked adaptations, now that it's public domain, or if it's just going to have one or two that people like and a bunch that are forgotten.

On a related note, I wish we had a 21st century American Songbook. I want to hear more great covers! I want to hear every new metal band play their spin on Painkiller and Twilight of the Thunder God. I want to hear Jay Z or Snoop do a retrospective album in their middle age, where they rap their friend's songs, hear their renditions of Heaven for a G and Country Grammar.

I know it's kind of out there but I really liked the Baz Luhrmann's version of Gatsby with it's anachronistic music.

Visiting Lake Geneva Wisconsin several years ago made me appreciate Fitzgerald's books a little more (it was the hamptons for Chicago's wealthy elite a century ago).

That version had great visuals, wish they used Electroswing[1] instead of rap/hiphop if they wanted something fresher at the time of filming. Of course they also had to show wealthy African-Americans with a white chauffeur to counterbalance the usual wealthy WASP imagery to not shock the sensitive modern audiences.


I figured I'll put it here, since the custom CSS thread is buried, and I don't know how much traffic the meta thread is getting.

Reddit-like branching comment structure has it's advantages and disadvantages. I like it for the most part, if some comment gets a lot of replies from different people, it makes it a lot easier to navigate conversations. However, I hate it when people get into one-on-one conversations. Not the conversations themselves, these can be very interesting, but there's something about the stacking indentation that drives me nuts.

So I thought, would it be possible to have the comments branch out, but only when they have sibling elements? Turns out that yes, and it's achievable with simple CSS. Compare:

Here's the code, if you like it (I'm using the "reddit" theme, the precise values for width and translation may vary for you):

.comment.anchor:only-child {

  transform: translate(-24px);

  width: calc(100% + 24px);


/*** Mobile ***/

@media (max-width: 767.98px) {

.comment.anchor:only-child {

  transform: translate(-14px);

  width: calc(100% + 14px);



You can add it in your profile settings

How did you get the lines on the left to show up with the "reddit" theme? And do you have a fix for the line between top-level comments as well?

How did you get the lines on the left to show up with the "reddit" theme?

Oh, that's custom css as well:

.comment-collapse-bar-click {

    border-right: 2px solid grey;


And do you have a fix for the line between top-level comments as well?

Not sure what you mean? Is that on my screenshot, or happens to you when you use my css? Can you post a pic showing what you mean?

Not sure what you mean? Is that on my screenshot, or happens to you when you use my css? Can you post a pic showing what you mean?

These lines separating the top-level comments in the default "TheMotte" theme are not visible with "reddit". With my minimal knowledge of CSS and some experimentation, I have determined that this fixes the problem:

.comment-section > .comment ~ .comment {

	border-top: 1px solid grey;


Oh, that's custom css as well:

This snippet appears to create another bar slightly to the right of the bar seen in "TheMotte". With "reddit", only the new bar is visible. Personally, I prefer the original bar on the left. This makes the original bar visible instead:

.comment .comment-collapse-bar {

	border-right: 2px solid grey;


So I ended up not using your original snippet, but it helped me make my own custom CSS. Since, as I said, my knowledge of CSS is minimal, I didn't even know where to start before this. Thanks!

Interesting, I find the consistent tree structure more intuitive than the sibling only branching screenshot. Props to customization

I figured it wouldn't be for everyone. When I got the idea I wasn't sure if I will like it in standard cases, but I got used to it pretty quick.

Then in extreme cases (8-level deep comment chains) it spares me from going into frothing-at-the-mouth rage, so seems like a clear win.

Australia has a minor scandal involving some SAS troopers, who are accused of 'war crimes' over shooting some 'civilians' during the Afghanistan war.

The media is all over it, and one of the bigger figures in it - a former SAS corporal Ben Roberts-Smith turned media exec, one of the real life closest approximations of gigachad meme I've seen - has seen fit to file a defamation suit against a bunch of journalists over the 'war crimes' allegations in media. (see attached picture to get a sense of dude's sheer size)

Now, Ben Roberts-Smith is a fairly impressive guy with some notable flaws. From what I gather, he's a brave and competent warrior, a demanding boss, perhaps a bit of a glory hound and about as rough as you'd expect from reputation of SAS.

Some dark triad traits, but that's nothing unexpected in special forces. Probably 'guilty' of what he's accused of - he's going to be on trial for that any year now. The big deal is that his patrol is alleged to have shot a captive during clearing of a compound, and also extrajudicially executed some other captives (up to 30 allegedly) during its deployment.

Now, special forces are .. special kinds of people. Aggressive guys who just won't quit despite punishing training, expected to go into the hairiest situations in small groups, typically against far more numerous opposition, without much support.

Anyway, during the defamation suit, the attorney for the journalists saw fit to read a social media post liked by the plaintiff in court. [audio unsafe for work, small children and delicate old ladies]

I can't decide whether Roberts-Smith 'liking' a post written by one of his army buddies to provoke the attorney for the opposition was a genius or bad move , but the whole bit of situational comedy nevertheless made me day when it crossed my twitter timeline.

I'm quite sure it was some army guy - when I was reading various allegations about Roberts-Smith the eloquence, profanity and threatening nature of SAS communicationg among each other was of exactly the same tone and style as the post in question.


This is pretty clearly a Culture War item, not a Friday Fun Thread item. Leaving it up since it's already spawned a lot of discussion, but just because something is "Twitter drama" doesn't mean it doesn't belong in the Culture War thread.

It's CW because of the discussion and comments around it, or just because the content of the audio clip itself is sort of CW?

Suppose next time if I posted just the profane audio (this hilarious bit of florid SAS bullying)- which is only funny, not really that worth of discussion, would that be ok for the next friday fun thread?

Hilarious video, reminds me slightly of this: teen insulting media after being arrested for a robbery

On a serious note - this is a tiny war crime. The real crime is going to Afghanistan and staying to pointlessly fight as long as we did. Australian troops were only there to improve relations with the US. Australia has no strategic interests in Afghanistan whatsoever. Him deciding to kill a few people for fun or morale reasons is just the micro version of Australia going to Afghanistan to look good in the eyes of our big and powerful friend. And the macro version is US generals lying to the world because they were too embarrassed to admit defeat back in the late 2000s, dragging out this utter farce for another decade.

At least Roberts-Smith had some skin in the game, more than can be said for the politicians and generals who accepted all the rewards and none of the costs of that stupid war.

Him deciding to kill a few people for fun

For fun? With friends like you, this guy doesn't need enemies. He might be suing you next.

admit defeat back in the late 2000s

Give mea break. The US could have continued its presence in Afghanistan for 100 years, and the Taliban still wouldn't have been back in power. And given what they have done since they returned to power, every day US troops were there was a victory for the people who matter the most in all this, which is ordinary Afghans.

The US could have continued its presence in Afghanistan for 100 years

And would they have achieved their goal of 'nation-building' in a 100 years? They certainly couldn't manage it in 20! I point out that even in 2009 and 2010 the Taliban started retaking parts of the countryside. They were winning for the past 10 years, despite the rosy lies Coalition generals were telling us the whole time. That was why we were coming to the negotiating table - back in 2002 and 2003 we thought we were winning and refused to negotiate.

If you don't achieve your political goal and the enemy does, you have been defeated in the war. Sure, the US didn't know what it was doing, I'm not sure that they could even conceptualize what their political goal was... but it certainly wasn't achieved!

I'm not sure how you figure that "almost as many" = "stronger than before," but regardless, as you say, "If you don't achieve your political goal and the enemy does, you have been defeated in the war." Your claim was that the US was "too embarrassed to admit defeat back in the late 2000s, dragging out this utter farce for another decade." But, it is very clear that the Taliban had not achieved its political goal (i.e., returning to power) in the late 2000s, nor even in the late 2010s, and it was also clear that they were never going to achieve that goal as long as the US decided to prevent it. We are talking about a war in which US deaths in any given year never reached 500. So, clearly, the Taliban was defeated in the war, based on your criterion for defeat.

Yeah I misread 'almost as many' to be stronger than before, deleted now.

The US political goal was not merely to prevent the Taliban being in power, it was some kind of vague concept of Afghanistan being a nice, prosperous liberal country. They didn't achieve that goal, couldn't achieve that goal. Nobody really told the military what they were supposed to be doing, they were often left to do their own thing:

Anyway, the fact that they were losing was known but suppressed within the US military:

Now if you're losing the war before actually being defeated, it means that it looks like the enemy will win more easily than you. Admitting defeat means recognizing you aren't going to win in the future, despite what the situation might be on the ground at the moment. Napoleon was in Moscow for a time, but he was losing even as he occupied a major city of the enemy. That's why he admitted defeat and retreated. Now I sense you will say 'oh he suffered horrific casualties' but the key thing is not what casualties he was suffering but the political situation. He wasn't achieving the objective of suppressing Russia and getting them to embargo Britain. It looked difficult/impossible to achieve that objective. It was similarly difficult/impossible to turn Afghanistan into whatever it is the US wanted, which was never really made clear. That meant they had to leave, which meant the Taliban would win.

If the US goal was only to prevent the Taliban being in power, they could've won by staying for decades, as you say. But the goal was to turn it into a liberal democracy without completely breaking the bank.

I have to say that those Hanania tweets do not say what you think they do, but regardless, your claim was that that "The real crime is going to Afghanistan and staying to pointlessly fight as long as we did." As I said, "every day US troops were there was a victory for the people who matter the most in all this, which is ordinary Afghans." And, of course, keeping the Taliban out of power and supporting anti-US terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, was one of the goals. thus, it was not pointless. Now, you are saying something different: That the US did not achieve **all **of its goals. That is a very different claim than "it was pointless."

The wellbeing of Afghans?

Under the NATO-approved occupation govt, they had the institutionalized rape of young boys by the so-called Afghan military. This is one of the things the Taliban was trying to stamp out.

The documentary also contains footage of an American military advisor confronting the then-acting police chief on the abuse after a young boy is shot in the leg after trying to escape a police barracks. When the Marine suggests that the barracks be searched for children, and that any policeman found to be engaged in pedophilia be arrested and jailed, the high-ranking officer insists what occurs between the security forces and the boys is consensual, saying "[the boys] like being there and giving their asses at night". He went on to claim that this practice was historic and necessary, rhetorically asking: "If [my commanders] don't fuck the asses of those boys, what should they fuck? The pussies of their own grandmothers?"

The justice system didn't work - that's one of the primary reasons people turned to the Taliban: Everyone in power was grossly corrupt. You had comically villainous characters like this in positions of influence:

But I guess girls got to go to school and not have to wear the hijab for a few years, so it's all right. Some of the corruption managed to trickle down to the Afghan population.

And for this we threw at least USD 2 Trillion down the drain, along with thousands of troops! Was there nothing better we could do with that money and those lives? The opium production of Afghanistan increased enormously under our ultra-corrupt administration, so there's even more harm from our adventure. We damaged relations with Pakistan, we distracted ourselves from real foreign policy problems with this debacle. Al Qaeda simply moved elsewhere and continues on. Describing this war as 'pointless' is positively charitable!

The Hanania tweets back up both my specific points and my general argument that it was a gigantic tragicomedy. If General McNeil didn't know what he was supposed to do, how can we say that we have a better understanding of what the war was officially about?

Yes, the old govt sucks. And yet the Taliban are far worse. As they were when last they were in power Every day they were out of power was a good day for Afghans.

The Hanania tweets back up both my specific points and my general argument that it was a gigantic tragicomedy.

Whether it was a tragicomedy is not the issue we are discussing. You cited them for a very different claim.

If General McNeil didn't know what he was supposed to do, how can we say that we have a better understanding of what the war was officially about?

I don't understand what that is supposed to mean.

More comments

Him deciding to kill a few people for fun or morale reasons is

Journos alleged it was a unit ritual, - 'blooding' where a new guy gets to shoot a captured enemy. Dunno.

I can't decide whether Roberts-Smith 'liking' a post written by one of his army buddies to provoke the attorney for the opposition was a genius or bad move

I don't know if liking that post was a genius move, but his transparent lie that he had no idea whom the tweet could possibly refer to was the opposite of genius. Jurors aren't morons, and that exchange absolutely made the lawyer's day.

As an aside, so much for the masculinity and integrity of the witness. A real man takes responsibility for his actions, including liking tweets that denigrate opposing counsel.

As an aside, so much for the masculinity and integrity of the witness.

He's Victoria Cross holder, among other things:

Demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry in action in the face of a very determined and aggressive enemy and with total disregard for his own safety, Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith initiated an assault against an elevated fortification consisting of three enemy machine gun positions and superior numbers of heavily armed insurgents.

With members of his patrol pinned down by the three enemy machine gun positions, he knowingly and willingly exposed his position in order to draw fire away from his team mates and enabled them to apply fire against the enemy. Fighting at ranges as close as 20 metres, he seized the advantage and, demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry and with total disregard for his own safety, Corporal Roberts-Smith stormed two enemy machine gun positions killing both machine gun teams.

His selfless actions in circumstances of great peril served to enable his patrol to break into the enemy�s defences and to regain the initiative, thereby resulting in a tactical victory against an enemy more than three times the size of the ground force.

This is arguably harder to achieve than a Medal of Honor -- certainly there are fewer living holders, you can count them on one hand IIRC. (Although this is perhaps related to the Commonwealth being much less fighty than the US post-WWII)

Say what you will about his judgement, I don't think his masculinity is in question.

Well, none of this relates to the reasons that I questioned his masculinity. God knows Jordan Peterson would have a thing or two to say to him on the topic.

Jurors aren't morons, and that exchange absolutely made the lawyer's day.

...doesn't that depend on how carefully they selected the jury? Lawyers or journalists aren't exactly very admired classes..

The point is not that the jury won't like what he said about the lawyer. The point is that he is sitting on the stand, obviously lying. It is the lying that the jury won't like.

He didn't say it. He liked a post. I can't quite put myself in the head of an Anglo juror, but the lawyer comes off as extremely petty by even bringing it up.

Yes, my mistake, he liked it. Nevertheless he is clearly lying, which was stupid. The lawyer might look bad for bringing it up, but once the lawyer did so, he had several options, and chose the absolute worse.

Frankly his best option in that exact moment on the stand would've been to concede the point and say something along the lines of "sure, I can see now how you can relate this to yourself", and deliver it with that characteristic Aussie dryness. It would've scored him some points with those in his inner circle and would've served as a less obviously thin response. It may have led to further examination along that dimension but unless Australian law deviates further from English common-law than my impression of it, it shouldn't be something the prosecutor can really dive deep on.

Again, I don't know what the effect of the entire exchange will be. But once the lawyer broached the subject, the plaintiff* had three options.

  1. Apologize for a lapse of judgment

  2. Double down

  3. Lie, by pretending he didn't know who the tweet was referring to.

Dude chose #3, which was stupid. As a lawyer at a top tier litigation firm once told me, "Once a jury figures out you are lying, they will kick you in the nuts again and again and again."

And to repeat, the issue of whether the lawyer was wise to raise the issue is completely different from whether the plaintiff's response was smart

to many people this is going to be an entertaining insult.

I don't know how voir dire works in Australia, but in the US the defense attorneys would have worked hard to keep such people off the jury.

*This is a libel suit. The lawyer is representing a defendant.

More comments

Now, special forces are .. special kinds of people. Aggressive guys who just won't quit despite punishing training, expected to go into the hairiest situations in small groups, typically against far more numerous opposition, without much support.

The whole idea of putting them in a box labelled "special forces" is keeping them safely away from the rest of the soldiers and the civil society. You don't want your soldiers to look up to them and your civilians to admire them.

Oh, this is the fun thread, isn't it? Is the role of a soldier a culture war topic?

I personally feel society ought to be militarised completely, or at least, all people with any measure of political power ought to be soldiers involved in some capacity in the army.

That'd pretty much prevent unnecessary wars & ensure the political class was healthy and cohesive. There'd be mandatory wargames held continually (computer simulations of conflict, fought for real money) and less frequent physical exercises.

It's a fun class but I'm the kind of weirdo for whom coming up with half-baked policy policy proposals is a 'fun' activity.

If multiverse is truly infinite, somewhere they have a very entertaining timeline where I'm an absolute monarch of some country and driving the bureaucrats up the wall constantly.

It’s a nice idea, but the closest to your idea that has happened have been states like the German and Japanese empires.

My first thought was America, where everyone has access to a quantity and quality of weapons guerrilla forces in other countries could only dream of. Interesting how you get to the other side of the libertarian-authoritarian spectrum when you include the condition that the armed populace have to be under the command of army officers.

Well, the upper crust of Israeli political class is near-universally distinguished in military service (e.g. Bibi) or, for earlier generations, has history in paramilitary/terrorist organizations (e.g. Begin, Allon, Shamir). Seems to work out okay for them.

But then again, you never know if the overall success is because or in spite of that.

What is certain is that this doesn't make them especially avoidant of conflict. Would be interested to see if @No_one endorses their approach.

I'm somewhat sympathetic to the idea that 'nukes are bad because they prevent war, the civilization's only hygiene'. But then I've rather unhinged opinions on all of this and probably deserve to get blown apart by a shell somewhere for them.

It's good that we don't live in a just world, I guess.

or, for earlier generations, has history in paramilitary/terrorist organizations (e.g. Begin, Allon, Shamir).

The early political class in the Soviet Union and in communist China, Yugoslavia and Albania also earned their power by fighting in a war. How did that work out? Not well for the Soviet Union, China or Albania, I would say. Not sure about Yugoslavia.

Edit: I forgot about the American Revolution. But how many of their early politicians actually fought in the war? I know George Washington did, what about the rest?

Vast differences though. And these countries almost never practiced simulated war against each other, for actual stakes.

E.g. German military was full of idiotic traditionalists on eve of WW1.

I'm sort of thinking he wrote that post himself using an alt, because I've read some of the other statements attributed to him and they sound very much alike. Or maybe all the SAS talk that way, as I understand this or the trial has a third of of the unit testifying in his favor and a third against.. plus various ex-wives, mistresses, once threatened officers and whatnot.

Yeah I was going to say this sounds like the majority of Australian men I know. Proximity to modernity is one factor I think, because I know a number of Australian women who talk like that too, all of them from the bush.

The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.­ — Epicurus.

There was some discussion about this quote a few days ago on ACX. It's plastered all over the Internet, attributed to either Epicurus or Epictetus, but no one there could determine which work it came from. I did some searching around and found that it actually came from an essay by the 17th-century Frenchman Jean-François Sarasin, falsely attributed to Charles de Saint-Évremond by its publisher, made English as an appendix of a translation of Epicurus, then abridged into its current form in the popular book of quotations The Rule of Life. I briefly wrote up the results of my investigation process there, which some may find interesting. That is the short version, though: it really took me a couple days to trawl through all the variations on Google Books. Apparently, back in the day, random aphorisms were very frequently used to fill up empty space in the corners of magazines.

Apparently, back in the day, random aphorisms were very frequently used to fill up empty space in the corners of magazines.

And in general, so were random factoids. Here's an example from James Lileks's blog:

[Below a newspaper comic] Queen Elizabeth was the first English sovereign to use a fork

Note the little fact: one of those things newspapers used to fill up white space. I will always remember one in the Fargo Forum: “Ants will go to any lengths to get water.” Seemed rather ominous.

That line was cut short, it's supposed to read “Ants will go to any lengths to get water on Mars."

That's right, did you think it was just human curiosity that pushed us to the stars? You thought humans were clamouring to travel millions of miles through an environment that kills us almost on contact, just to play at subsistence farming on a dead ball of dirt? Or was it The National Aeronautics and Space Ants?!

Did you really think Elon Musk made Space X because he's a billionaire man child raised by tv? His parents just coincidentally gave him a nonsense name which is an obvious and lazy anagram of 'melon us, k'*? Of course not! He is actually four ants puppeting an extraordinarily elaborate balloon 'animal'. The real reason he bought Twitter was to return it to the 140 character limit to push humans like you and me (I'm human) to use texting language.

*Ants, it might surprise some to learn, having invented texting during the signing of the treaty of Westphalia after realising worker humans like you and me (not an ant) only have one antennae and a strict social taboo against communicating with it. it didn't catch on however, until we invented mobile phones - which gave us antennae we could communicate with.

Have I got news for You (HIGNFY)

Here I will discuss a British TV comedy panel quiz show about current political events, running from 1990 to present day.

Today, I believe it has followed the example of other shows, and became bad.

Team captains

  • Ian Hislop - a short-ass, posh and sometimes self-righteous sort. When he makes a gag about someone, you can imagine being one of his toadies at their posh school, laughing away at the stupid poor person.

  • Paul Merton - a non-posh, sometimes miserable acting, very quick witted.


  • Angus Deayton until 2003, when he was caught shagging. He then appeared on the show shortly after - was very funny! Good for him having the balls to appear on the show.

Notable events

Peter Mandelson

  • A politician

  • outed as a gay on the Newsnight show - not sure about the timing of this as regards HIGNFY episodes

  • often accused of financial irregularity.

So the joke is - suspected gay politician - has dodgy deals involving properties.

Ian Hislop: "So this is about Peter Mandelson, who is suspected of being a home.... owner"

Mandelson was a frequent butt of gags from the show. One time during this, it was called out by (of all people), Jackie Mason. "I think this show is disgusting for saying that".

Guest contestant Piers Morgan

I had no idea who this was when he went on the show.

It was soon made clear, you are not supposed to like him.

An exchange with Piers Morgan and Ian Hislop

PM (answering one of the quiz questions): "Is it jam? As I remember Eddie Izzard said that last week and I found it funny"

IH: "Yes but people like him"

This is demonstrating the sad truth that people can be dicks about laughing at gags, depending on who says them.

Superintendent Chalmers from the Simpsons would certainly agree.

Who among us has not made a fine gag at the office to crickets, when if they were someone people liked, would have gone down a storm.

Often Paul Merton would just say some bizarre shit to great reception, that would not go well if uttered by Morgan or some other unpopular type.

Also there was a mean-ness about the show - especially while Angus Deayton was the chairman - the 2 Team Captains being a couple of pricks to him.

Guest chairman Bruce Forsyth

One of my favorite episodes. What a man Bruce Forsyth was.

Guest contestant and chairman Boris Johnson

Appeared in several episodes. Extremely funny guy.

Post ends

Despite some complaints I have, I will always have affection for this show, as watched with parents and family as a child. It is the man in the arena who counts etc.

Merton and Hislop are the core of the show, Hislop fitting into the role of the straight man to Merton's funny man. I don't think the show could continue its success if one or the other were to leave as it's the both the quality of their input and the dynamic between those two which raises the show above the many other panel shows where average comedians with above average agents use the format of a current affairs quiz to ladle out their pre-cooked jokes. I was surprised when I learnt that Merton and Hislop have a pretty low regard for one another off set - not unheard of for established comedy duos but these two only play those roles by chance.

You forgot to mention that Hislop is the editor of Private Eye and one of the most sued people in Britain. He's less about laughing at poor people and more about holding politicians and other public figures' feet to the fire. That gives him a strong footing for skewering the guest politicians who continue to appear on the show despite the show's 30ish year history of using them for satirical cannon fodder. Johnson did better than most on that account.

Merton is a deadpan surrealist comic with an encyclopedic knowledge of Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock films.

I used to watch it every week but slowly lost interest over the Brexit/Trump/Johnson years as the real world became self satirising. Bit of a golden era for impressionists though, Dead Ringers on Radio 4 hasn't been the same since Biden took office.

A couple of Fridays ago there was a comment thread on what the best series you watched in 2022 was/were. In honor of @EdenicFaithful's weekly Sunday reading question, what were your best reads of 2022? What did you enjoy or find interesting? Anything of note you didn't finish?

For me:

God Emperor of Dune. Such a good book. Well, Idk how to qualify it in terms of goodness. Such a unique book. How many have a near-omnipotent, centuries old, giant worm-man with voices in his head as the main character? My favorite bit: Leto is so wrapped up in his own ancient internal monologue about the voices of his ancestors inside him and the future he can see that he almost misses getting a gun that he knows is going to be pulled on him pulled on him.

I read a bit of horror later in the year. Ghost Story by Peter Straub would probably be my favorite of the bunch. It loses some steam near the end, but I think that's a flaw intrinsic to the horror genre. Or maybe that's all the Stephen King I've read talking. Speaking of, Revival would be my runner-up. It's the only post-car accident King I've read that's not The Dark Tower, and I wasn't disappointed. He maybe could have used a little trimming in the second quarter of the book to shorten the gap between the inciting incident and the next big plot movement, but other than that I think he even stuck the landing.

Books I did not finish:

I didn't read a lot of books this year. Sometime around March I attempted to do what I thought of as a "liberal arts" read: reading world history, art history, music history, philosophy history, and literature concurrently, going through sections that aligned with the same time period. A bit ambitious. Couple of problems with it, besides coming up with the "curriculum" on my own based on what we already had in our home library: I started with human pre-history, which kept me hopping between just a couple of books at first; a couple, particularly the philosophy book, were Western focus, whereas I wanted to be more comprehensive; the literature portion (the first volume of Norton's world lit anthology) covered a lot I had already read; for world history, I picked a book that's like the notes to a world history encyclopedia - very dense and dry, and I wasn't trying to skip any of it; finally, the sections just didn't line up that well for jumping between things and keeping it "fresh". My goal was to get to 0 AD. I barely got to the Greeks. After a couple months or so of spending my bedtime reading time on this, I was worn out and needed a narrative I could start and finish without interruption and moved on to a fiction splurge. I'd like to go back and read some more of the individual books on their own. Except that encyclopedic notes one. It's literally organized in a ABC, 123 subnote style. Very dense and dry. Overall, and interesting experiment.

I read for the first time in 2022 the Three Body problem trilogy as well as the fanfiction Redemption of Time, the Inhibitors trilogy, the Hyperion Cantos, and the first two Ian Banks' Culture novels. I've also been very slowly working through my omnibus of the Princes of Amber series (serial?), which is enjoyable but a bit too pulpy for my taste.

Me and my close circle of friends also started a book club to help motivate us to cover works of literature and quality fiction that our schooling or upbringing had never shown us, so we read King Lear, and Child of God by the inimitable Cormac McCarthy amongst others. I was the one to tap out ultimately however, Frankenstein broke me. I cannot possibly envision a realistic future where I can power past the first 50 pages or so, it's some of the most eye-strainingly tedious writing I've ever slogged through, and I read most of Galt's screed in Atlas Shrugged. Maybe I just got filtered.

ETA: I also did a substantial bit of rereading but that was mostly retreading things I've read many times before, primarily Blindsight twice last year, once in January and again in September. I also read Worm for the 10th time.

Fuck, I loved blindsight so much. What did you think of Three Body Problem?

I also read Three Body for the first time recently. I would say that overall the series is good, but there's a distinct downward trend in quality over the three books. The first book is top tier stuff that could stand alongside any of the classics, the second book is quite good though not as good, and the third book is decent but not particularly great. And, amusingly enough, the third book itself starts out stronger and gets weaker (the ending is really bad imo).

Worth reading if you haven't read them, but I doubt I'll be going back and rereading the trilogy any time soon if ever.

Easily some of the best scifi I've ever read, and if you're referring to the trilogy as a whole then the third books journey through the fourth dimension was some of the most surreal, in a good way, writing I have ever read. I agree wrt to Blindsight, after reading it the first time I felt the same way I felt after reading (the og) meditations on moloch, like a paradigm shift.

In honor of @EdenicFaithful's weekly Sunday reading question, what were your best reads of 2022? What did you enjoy or find interesting?

It wasn't the most "enjoyable" read - those usually involve more intellectual pursuits - but my "best" read this year in terms of impact has to be Jason Fung's The Complete Guide to Fasting.

Unless you already have an disordered relationship to food it might not be that useful, but it did help me take up fasting and lose 40 pounds. At least for now. Going through the last three years of might be the only one that's had a meaningful impact on daily life rather than my thought processes.

Other than that, this actually wasn't a good year for insightful reads:

  • I did enjoy finally reading Island in the Sea of Time to see where the "ISOT" genre came from. It does hold up quite well and is still one of the top works in the niche.

  • Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now was good but obviously practically ineffective :P I guess you could say I don't disagree with anything it laid out but I haven't started agreeing yet.

Did Not Finish:

  • God: An Anatomy by Francesca Stavrakopoulou - It's just not an audio-friendly book, so other books (fiction took priority. And my interest in Biblical studies ebbs and flows. Especially when I doubt Stavrakopoulou is going to go crazy and recommend something really novel in a popular audience-facing book.

  • The City, by Adrian Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy is one of the few historians that can write, so his fiction series about a tough-skinned Roman centurion is pretty good on both basic craft and history. I just...wish he wrote different things. The earlier books were good, but they also had some cliched plot points (an example being the standard cross-class, forbidden love plot - it feels like Goldsworthy is writing to be easily adaptable when Hollywood comes calling) and I just didn't want to hike up another hill to get to the cool battle scenes.

Off the top of my head, the highlights are:

a) The Great Gatsby - technically I read this right around Christmas of 2021, but I'll include it here. Gatsby's a total simp. Daisy, so far as we can tell from the text, probably isn't even that hot. You know who's cool and who I want to read a book about? Meyer Wolfsheim. How did he claw his way up the ranks of organized crime? Did he kill a dude and make his teeth into cufflinks? I think he did.

b) The Maltese Falcon, Dashiel Hammett. I'd tried some Hammett before - the Glass Key and Red Harvest - but I just didn't get that into them. I liked this one a lot more for some reason. I think it just seemed more tightly written than those two, though I'm not sure if that's the explanation

c) Francis Fukuyama - Political Order and Political Decay. This one was on audiobook so without an actual copy in front of me, I have a hard time remembering what I thought about it. The main impression I retained is that Fukuyama is clearly a smart guy who's read and thought a lot about his topic, but is hamstrung by his commitment to an orthodox-western-liberal view of "progress" and state formation. His analysis would probably have been more interesting if he'd been willing to consider more heterodox ideas.

d) The Duchess of Malfi, John Webster. Famously gloomy and violent Jacobean revenge drama. Probably one of the best works of fiction I read this year. The anti-heroic Bosola gets all the best lines, even though he's largely tangential to the plot until the last few scenes. Surprised I haven't seen a film adaptation of this sometime in the last ten years.

e) The Folk of the Air, Peter S. Beagle. Beagle is probably best known for The Last Unicorn. This is a sort of early urban-fantasy story about an itinerant musician who returns to a thinly-veiled Berkeley after ten years of wandering. He finds that all his old friends are now part of a thinly-veiled Society For Creative Anachronism and that some of them get way into character and sometimes their re-enactments get just a little too real. Started off slowly but hit it's strides at the two-thirds mark and wrapped up with a satisfy albeit ambiguous conclusion.

f) The Ballad of the White Horse, GK Chesterton - Sometimes hailed as the last epic narrative poem in the English language. A fictionalized depiction of King Alfred's defeat of the Danes at the Battle of Ethandune. Short, with a pretty simple and straightforward plot, but a lot of great quotable lines. A few choice morsels

A gloomy Norseman: "You sing of the young gods easily/In the days when you are young/But I go smelling yew and sods/And I know there are gods behind the gods/Gods that are best unsung."

The narrator: "The Great Gaels of Ireland/Are the men that God made Mad/For all their wars are merry/And all their songs are sad".

Alfred, rebuking the Norse kings pseudo-Nietszchean worldview: "What have the strong gods given?/Where have the glad gods led?/When Guthrun sits on a hero's throne/And asks if he is dead?"

I'm told that Tolkien didn't like it on account of how he felt the Norse were misrepresented. Nonetheless, its well worth your tim."

TL; DR - The Autobiography of Benevenuto Cellini. He was probably a pretty interesting dude to hang around but the writing didn't hook me.

TL; DR - The Divine Comedy. Tried it, couldn't get into it.

Anything of note you didn't finish?

Too many.

  • Most impactful: Levy's Hackers. Clarifies a lot about the world we're living in.

  • Most important: Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, H. A. J. Munro's translation. Still not finished, but I'll be mulling this one for a long, long time.

  • Most useful: Ellis' Reason and Emotion in Psychotherapy. It led me to E-Prime (I don't think it was actually mentioned in the book), which has had much use in my life. Also, Ellis' thoroughly calm viewpoint was an example to all. The book itself could have been better, but was not bad as far as I got.

  • Best written: Chandler's The Big Sleep. "Masterful" doesn't even begin to describe it. This is a man's book. I'll add Thurman's Jesus and the Disinherited. It's the kind of book which reminds you why preachers exist.

  • Most memorable: Freinacht's The Listening Society. Something didn't work in his conclusions, but the structure of his thoughts follows me.

  • Glad I forced myself: More's Utopia. The creeping conformity and obedience which I saw in the beginning went full circle by the end, and it became odd, charming and disturbingly striking. There's an ethos there.

  • Most reread: DaystarEld's Pokemon: The Origin of Species. This man ought to be famous, rich and have an anime. Still ongoing.

  • #1 Should finish: Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep. The conversation with the trees about AI risk has remained in my mind, as someone who doesn't usually get anxious about those things. Very unsettling. Feels like a source for unconsciously absorbing best practices.

Pretty cool video of a guy falling off a stairs onto a trampoline and then eerily being thrown back up, as if in reverse:

Man I’d just stop walking up the stairs and lay on the trampoline that looks hard

tl'dr at the bottom.

It was the early 20th century. These were heady times for biology; Thomas Hunt Morgan was doing groundbreaking work in Drosophila which culminated in the concept of the gene. Griffith reported some experiments that launched a series of investigations over the following decades by Hershey & Chase/Avery and McLeod showing that DNA, not protein, is the hereditary material in the cell. And in a lab in the Rockefeller Institute, NYC, a French surgeon was using proto-tissue culture techniques to create an immortal chicken heart.

A full century ago, some smart scientists were already asking how cellular theory intersected with aging and senescence, and whether there where limits on cell division. To great acclaim, Dr. Carrel claimed to have found the answer: he grew embryonic chicken heart cells in a stoppered flask. For 20 years the cells thrived as he fed them a steady diet of embryonic chicken fluid and claimed to the media that:

In 1921, an article in The World by Alessandro Fabbri engaged his audience with an account of how large the volume of the cells cultured could have been, telling readers that it would have been like a “rooster … big enough today to cross the Atlantic in a stride,” and “so monstrous that when perched on this mundane sphere, the World, it would look like a weathercock.” Three years later, the New York Tribune published an article to celebrate the twelfth birthday of the culture.

You might be skeptical at this juncture - maybe you learned about a certain limit in high school named after a famous scientist waiting in the wings. While it was long accepted in the 20th century that cells could divide forever and the answer to aging lay elsewhere, the development of modern tissue culture techniques in the 50s set the stage for Leonard Hayflick (I linked a great radiolab interview above - in his mid 80s, he still stored a ton of cell lines in liquid nitrogen tanks in his garage. There's probably some fascinating cell lines in there that the rest of us have forgotten about). And indeed, Leonard Hayflick showed with much more rigorous technique that differentiated cells isolated from human adults had a definite lifespan, and would naturally senesce and die after a certain number of divisions in vitro, and presumably in vivo as well. A large amount of work went into defining the 'Hayflick limit' for various cell types in different contexts, and more importantly, it was discovered that certain cancerous cells could indeed be adapted to grow in cell culture indefinitely. It turns out Carrel's protocol of adding fresh embryonic fluid to his chicken heart culture was most likely adding fresh stem cells (although we also cannot rule out fraud as the experiment supposedly could not be replicated) on a regular basis.

You may wonder, dear reader, why I bothered to lay this out for you? Well, if you think about it, there's one obvious exception to the Hayflick limit - your germ line. Your gametes represent an unbroken cellular lineage stretching all the way back to the first spark of cellular life in the primordial soup. And this week, a heroic paper described another exception to the Hayflick limit and actually succeeded in creating the immunological equivalent of Carrel's chicken heart.

When T cells recognize their specific antigen, they enable a initiate a genetic program to both rapidly divide and also release effector proteins that unleash a range of defensive mechanisms against the invading pathogen. You've probably heard of the different COVID proteins used in the vaccines; each of those proteins consisting of hundreds of amino acids is chopped up into 8-20 amino acid long 'bytes' that can be recognized by T cells. While your immune response consists of a mishmash of dozens to hundreds of T cell lines specific for different antigens (polyclonal), scientists have developed ways to track a single clone specific for a single antigen. Here, the authors infect mice with a virus (VSV) and track T cells specific for a peptide (VSV-N52-59). Techniques have also been developed to take T cells out of one mouse and transfer it to a new mouse, and the last piece of the technological puzzle missing for Carrel - a method for differentiating transferred T cells from the endogenous T cells already present in the new mouse.

So the basic outline of the study is to infect a mouse with VSV, isolate those T cells, transfer to a new mouse, infect that mouse with VSV, isolate those T cells, transfer to a new infinitum. They kept it up for 10 years, or 5 times the lifetime of a mouse - roughly equivalent to stimulating some T cells around the time Columbus landed in America and having them still be growing today. Curiously, the telomere length is unaffected despite the cells acquiring a number of markers we normally associate with dysfunction (PD-1 of cancer checkpoint blockade fame, TIM3, TOX, KLRG1, etc) and a distinct transcriptional signature. And more importantly, they're still immunologically functional and capable of further division.

How do T cells do it? Hell if I know. But the standard models of ROS, telomeres, mitochondrial dysfunction, etc. just aren't able to explain it. Like the best studies, this hints at a deeper truth we're nowhere close to uncovering, and I despair of meaningfully understanding the system in my lifetime. It's still a beautiful fucking paper though, and I pity the post-doc who's been shuffling T cells around mice for the last 8 years of his life.

tl;dr - Mice live two years, scientists have shown that you can take differentiated T cells (not stem cells!), stimulate them with a virus, transfer them to a new mouse and so on and so forth for more than 10 years (!). They calculate this to be a 10^40 fold expansion of the original group of T cells.

You're correct, but it's also just typical biologist-speak. Carrel also didn't literally culture enough cells to create a rooster that could cross the Atlantic in a single stride.

Typically, when the media is exhausted (every several days) you 'pass' the cells and throw out some fraction (from 50-95%). If you pass the cells 1/10 a dozen times and then do the math, if you hadn't killed any cells you'd have some absurd number. Here, they only transfer 10^5 cells to each new mouse and thus discard the vast majority of their T cells when they kill the old mouse, not to mention the fact that most cells will die during the isolation/sorting/transfer procedure.

Are there any text-layout aficionados here?

What are your opinions on run-in headings? Personally, I am opposed to them. In my opinion, it makes no sense for the heading to be inside the paragraph to which it applies—and the situation is even worse when a run-in heading is inside paragraph A but is meant to apply to paragraph A and paragraph B.

Are there any obscure typography problems on which you would like to expound?

I invested a small chunk of my Christmas bonus into improvement my overly indulgent workshop. Got a thickness planer and a bunch of dust collection stuff, because rough lumber is so much cheaper, and I'm tired of my entire workshop getting covered in sawdust when I do even the slightest of projects.

Took forever for all the bits, pieces, adapters and brackets to finally show up. None of my local hardware stores really carried extensive dust collection accessories. But it was worth the wait. Did a few test cuts on the planer and not one single wood chip went outside the collection system that I could tell. Then I ripped 3 feet of MDF on the tablesaw, which is often a dust nightmare. I only noticed a very small amount on the surface of the table. Most of it seemed to be easily gather by the upper and lower dust collection ports. So success!

My local lumber yard has a dent and ding section. I grabbed about 16 board feet of red oak for $35, which is pretty damned good all things considered. About $2.20 a board foot versus the $3.75 it usually costs, or the almost $10 it would have been premilled at a hardware store. A hobby where the raw materials would have been prohibitively expensive just become much, much more affordable. Went from having to talk to the wife before every hardware purchase, to who really cares? Which is always a good quality of life improvement. That $35 worth of red oak that I can now mill myself would have been $160 easily. The system should easily "pay for itself" in only a few such purchases.

I've drafted up plans for a small bookshelf with hidden drawers for all my old game manuals. Should have enough room for all of them, and the hidden drawers will hold all the old paper or cloth maps that games used to have. That said, I may have bitten off more than I can chew with the hidden drawers. We shall see. At least I have ample wood to keep trying until I get it right.

What do you do with the collected dust? Are there any unusual uses for it like, say, mushroom cultivation, or boring uses like compost improver, or is it just bulky waste to dispose of?

Its supposed to be good for compost. But the wife is in charge of that and is nervous about using it. Can't blame her. I doubt MDF dust or treated lumber would be good, and its gonna get mixed in with the red oak dust in the collector.

Its supposed to be good for soaking up spills which may come in handy when I'm staining or finishing. You can mix it with glue to make your own filler too if you need to correct a mistake.

....would you consider writing DOS clients for simple games using networks (e.g. chess at or

I've drafted up plans for a small bookshelf with hidden drawers

I am a huge fan of this sort of thing. Post pics when it's done.

I'll try to avoid eating a ban between now and then.