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Friday Fun Thread for February 24, 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.

Jump in the discussion.

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Any good recommendations for an intermediate economics textbook or lecture series or something that I can use to get a running start at the field?

For background, I have a PhD in Mathematics, specifically studying mathematical models of game theory and agents and ecological competition and stuff. So I know a bunch of game theory, but mostly use it for fitness gradients and incremental behavior adjustments that head towards an equilibrium over time rather than rational agents solving explicit mathematical formulas. And I have very little experience with actual economic theory aside from what I've picked up here and there from being in tangential spaces. Supply and demand curves and basic stuff like that. I'm considering branching out and potentially moving towards jobs that involve actual economics, but feel somewhat underqualified at the moment given that I've never taken a single formal economics class in my life. Or at the very least it would be fun to learn more stuff about it and potentially learn ideas that I could use in my current research even if I'm still focusing mostly on biological organisms.

So I'd like to learn from a source that doesn't require specific background knowledge of words or formulas that econ students would already know as prerequesites, but also respects my intelligence and mathematical skill so doesn't try to handhold me through easy stuff, fastforwarding or skipping the actual basics and starting me somewhere interesting where I can actually learn new stuff.

The almost universal graduate textbook for microeconomic theory is Mas-Collel, Whinston, and Green. It is very comprehensive. Despite being a graduate textbook, you don't need any prior economic training to understand it. However, it is dry and abstract and not strong in developing motivation or economic intuition. Hal Varian's Intermediate Microeconomics is a good undergrad textbook that does those things better but is much less rigorous and does more handholding on the math. (Don't confuse this with Varian's more advanced "Microeconomic Analysis.") I would start with a quick read of Varian's Intermediate Micro and move on to MWG if you want more.

What sort of jobs are you looking at?

Marginal revolution have free online courses, but I haven't taken them and can't vouch for them

I just managed to get Bing Chat in use. My experiences thus far:

  • We've been talking about getting a mirror installed in our home (we've already got the mirror, it's just about installing it to a wall so it doesn't actually fall down on our children or anything), so I ask it about this. It first gives me installation tips. Fair enough, too little information on what I actually want to get done, so I prompt it about getting a guy to install a mirror. It recommends a company that seems to produce mirrors, but their website is unclear on whether they actually install preowned mirrors. Okay, I've already found a guy through a simple Google Search.

  • I've been testing OpenAI on some questions on slightly obscure Finnish history, many of which it gets egregiously wrong. I run some of these questions on Bing. It gets them more correct, evidently thanks to its web search capability, but still commits some fairly obvious flagrant errors. Perhaps more on this later.

  • I ask it for a Chinese restaurant in my hometown (as a test, I'm not actually feeling like Chinese at the moment). It gives me the top listed restaurants on tripadvisor. Fair enough, I haven't actually tested the top listed Tripadvisor Chinese restaurant in my hometown so I can't know if it's good or not.

  • I ask it for things to do with kids in my home district. It recommends some stuff in the city centre and... also mentions the home district's actual landmark, a huge cheap and forbidding student housing building that (during my study days) was known as the "biggest contraceptive in the world" (you're chatting to a girl, see, you ask her to come at your place in the building and it's guaranteed you're not getting laid). This is probably one of the worst places one could think of to take kids to for fun, barring, like, actual drug dens or such.

  • Okay, maybe it's indicating that there's actually nothing to do in our district for kids, so I ask it about the amusement parks. It recommends outdoor parks that are closed in the winter. I prompt it about one of them ("Flowpark") and ask it to recommend something that is open in the winter. It says that Flowpark X (the name of my city) is indeed closed, but the same city has Flowpark Y, which is open. This is the same park.

As one can see, the practical applications of Sydney have been fairly limited, thus far, as far as my life is concerned.

Here's the longer review of the questions of Finnish history.

Update: I asked Bing for information about Li Andersson, Finland's education minister, a young left-wing woman. It gave the correct basic info, but when asked about personal info, it not only gave her daughter's name incorrectly but also stated that her husband is Jani Mäkelä, a right-wing populist politician. This would be the rough equivalent of me asking it about AOC and it stating confidently that her husband is Paul Gosar. I eagerly await for things like this to actually get to media articles on obscure(-to-Anglos) topics when reporters start doing lazy research on chatbots.

also stated that her husband is Jani Mäkelä, a right-wing populist politician

Are there any memes shipping these two? When Shoe0nHead made this video originally titled "The Creepy Balenciaga Scandal & Why I 'Left The Left'", there were hundreds upon hundreds of lefties on twitter who saw the title, but didn't watch the video, and assumed she's abandoned her views over this. Some time later she posted a screenshot where she queried ChatGPT about herself, and it started off with "Shoe0nHead is a youtuber who has recently left the left...". Maybe something like this happened here?

I suppose it's ability to accurately parse and summarize online chatter would still be impressive.

There have been memes shipping Li Andersson with Jussi Halla-aho, a more prominent right-wing populist, but not with Jani Mäkelä, as far as I've been aware. Of course it's possible the machine data set includes memeology I have not been exposed to.

On the other hand...

What does Bing say when you ask it "What's the source for [claim X]" after it serves you that information? Now that I think about it, I also saw a video where ChatGPT outright made a quote up, and went "oops, looks like I made a mistake" when confronted.

It gave the source as, which states that she is single (she isn't, she is together with the father of her daughter).

I asked the bot for a source, it told me that she is single and childless and asked where I had heard her husband is Jani Mäkelä, and when I said that it had just told me this it got into the famous Bing hostility mode and ended the convo.

You're telling me Finnish water parks don't stay open when it's 30 below? I'm extremely disappointed for some reason.

I wonder how expensive a saunapark would be.

That would be a spa, no?

The indoor ones are called usually called something like adventure pools rather than water parks, even if they are as big or bigger than the outdoor ones.

Depends, are we going all-indoors for insulation? And how hot must a water slide be to be enjoyable?

The bias is extreme, just extreme for most things, not just politics.

It is a handy little tool but a tool at best in the current neutered form. Now the ill effects, whether it will ever become AGI, whether it will kill us etc etc is beyond me (although I wish to learn) but the training set used for it is super biased and breaks it for normal conversations.

Basic advice like improving your looks or comparing two photos is politicized for no reason whatsoever, no wonder why everyone is jailbreaking it.

I've been testing OpenAI on some questions on slightly obscure Finnish history, many of which it gets egregiously wrong. I run some of these questions on Bing. It gets them more correct, evidently thanks to its web search capability, but still commits some fairly obvious flagrant errors. Perhaps more on this later.

I suppose this is the equivalent of doing the "rigorous research" of literally looking up the first Google result, but this failure mode worries me. I've already heard a bunch of people say "I don't even use Google anymore, I just go to ChatGPT", but when Google serves you an answer, you at least know who published it, you can take their bias into account, and decide whether you want to keep looking or not. If ChatGPT becomes good enough to be trusted 99.9% of times, and it's only this 0.1% of cases that it gets egregiously wrong (whether by design, or accident), will people be able to find indications that the information is inaccurate, or will they just accept the false information as true?

Again, the problem in itself is nothing new, but I think we're pushing things in the direction of making people even easier to manipulate by the powers that be (or by stupid mistakes on obscure topics).

Bing tries to provide references.

Chatgpt is great for a certain class of question where you know the answer is true once you see it. E.g. ask it how to do something with a certain JavaScript library and it will give you the code. It's then very easy to confirm the validity by cross checking the documentation.

Generally I treat chatgpt as a wise but crazy old man. It will say insightful things, give you reference and names and ideas, but it's up to you to go away and confirm and research and come back with followup questions. Using chatgpt has to be embedded with your own research process. It can't be used in isolation, like you say.

RococoBasilica's post reminded me of when first-wave feminism hit Germany.

The link is broken?

It works for me.

Tithe, noticing, and superstitions

My church hangs no specific official detail of membership on tithing, giving 1/10 of my income, my “firstfruits,” to the church. I, however, submit my tithe online as soon as I remember it is deposited, so that nobody will quit my workplace.

Let me explain.

All my working life, I have tithed on the gross, not the net, so I wouldn’t have to tithe my tax refund. Around 2014, I had gotten into tax trouble because of inadequate withholdings. I went into IRS debt and had scheduled contributions which were so large I couldn’t afford to tithe.

I paid off the debt slowly but surely, and breathed a sigh of relief when it was paid off. A few months later I noticed the place I was working was hemorrhaging admins and producers with much experience and institutional knowledge. It was about that point I realized in horror I’d forgotten to resume paying my tithe.

I compiled a spreadsheet to learn what I owed God, and the sum was vast. I studied the Scriptures on tithing and discovered that if a Hebrew man could not afford to give up his firstfruits of harvest, he could buy them back from the Tabernacle at one-fifth of their value. I calculated 1/5 of my 10%, 2%, and started paying my back-tithe to the church on top of my tithe.

From the first time I did so, the quitting stopped, like a faucet being shut off.

From then on, if I spent money on lunch on payday before remembering to submit my tithe online, I could expect someone to quit without notice within the week. Occasionally people would quit on payday before I had remembered to pay my tithe, which reminded me to pay it.

I consider myself a rational Christian, and I don’t expect miracles or spooky happenings unless God has a purpose for them. Perhaps I was just seeing a pattern by coincidence. Or perhaps I was one of the few faithful paying tithe from that job, sanctifying the whole operation; since I was laid off after the merger, the place has gone downhill.

Whatever the pattern or not, I won’t be skipping tithe again.

How did you come to this level of faith? I admire that, but I have no idea how to find it. Every church I look at seems to be institutionally sick, or worse. For example: Catholicism is the (lapsed) faith of my family, but all I see of the Catholic Church is a deeply sick organization more interested in suppressing the one area of growth among young people (Latin Mass), deeply divided about how to worship. The Anglicans (or maybe only the English Anglicans?) are navel-gazing about whether God the Father is actually God the Non-Binary, and so on.

I'm also interested in hearing from Catholics (particular TLM Catholics) about how they reconcile belonging to a church that seems to hate its own faithful so much. I can't figure it out.

I grew up Catholic, attended mass regularly (though not every week), CCD, was a Eucharistic Minister when I got older, regularly got suckered in to volunteering for whatever events the church was having, and I ended up going to a Catholic college, not one like Georgetown or Notre Dame, but one where the majority of students were Catholic and there was an associated seminary and half the professors were monks and religion courses were required curriculum and multiple friends of mine ended up becoming priests. And during this time I hadn't really heard of Traditional Catholics. I think I first heard of them from an article I read online, which may have been around this time period, but it certainly wasn't anything that was discussed or even mentioned within the church or among fellow Catholics. To the contrary, Vatican II was celebrated by pretty much every priest I had known by that point, and the Latin Mass was viewed as a boring, impenetrable relic that had survived a couple hundred years past its sell-by date among pretty much everyone who had been around while it was still in use. No one, no matter how old or how devout, seemed to harbor any nostalgia for the Traditional Rite. At the most, there was curiosity about it among some younger people, but just that they wanted to participate in one on occasion, not that they wanted it to supplant normal mass. If you grew up in a household that was nominally Catholic but lapsed, and don't have any first-hand experience really living as a Catholic, it's easy to read new articles about Traditional Catholics or see them arguing online and think that this is some kind of deep division in the church, but most practicing Catholics probably have no idea what you're talking about.

I'm also interested in hearing from Catholics (particular TLM Catholics) about how they reconcile belonging to a church that seems to hate its own faithful so much. I can't figure it out.

The most hardcore justify it easily: the true Church was hijacked by Satan 60 years ago, popes since Vatican II are impostors.

This is logically consistent position - how could true and infallible church suddenly turn around by 180 degrees, condemn what it always preached and preach what it always condemned?

By coincidence, the communists had the same problem at the same time.

The problem with this position is, when the devil captured the whole church for 60 years and fooled 99.99% of believers with no end in sight, it really looks that gates of Hell prevailed and promise given to Peter was false.

I'm also interested in hearing from Catholics (particular TLM Catholics) about how they reconcile belonging to a church that seems to hate its own faithful so much.

I mean, I don't think that the church does hate its faithful. I think that anyone who does say that is failing very badly at understanding the Church's position. Basically, the Pope is concerned about the TLM dividing the faithful into "us vs them" camps. And to be perfectly honest, in my very limited experience I understand the worry. On /r/catholicism you can't go a single thread about the TLM without seeing people go off on things like:

  • the Pope hates reverent worship and is borderline heretical

  • TLM rules, Novus Ordo drools, why does anyone bother going to NO mass because it's objectively inferior

  • We should abolish receiving communion in the hand, go back to receiving on the tongue and communion rails only

And so on. Granted, the loudest voices on one particular internet forum are not representative of the whole by any means. But at least anecdotally it sure seems to me like Francis' concerns about the TLM being a cause of division in the Church have merit. I have no issue whatsoever with the TLM being available for those who like it. But when I see its advocates telling me that the mass I prefer is bad and that the practices I prefer should be stopped, I find it hard to have much sympathy when the Pope says "OK we're reining this in".

That's one perspective, but the other perspective is that the Pope is essentially saying "You TLM people are dividing the Church! Don't be dividers! Instead please compromise by giving up all the things you want. What's that you say about liturgical abuses and hippy guitar masses? Lalalalalalaaa I can't hear you!! Quit being so hateful and divisive!!"

Division in the church is definitely a cause for concern, but ramming the almost-everywhere-degraded NO down everyone's throat (seriously, for everyone 1 reverent NO parish I've been to, I've been to 4 irreverent NO parishes) while ignoring the genuine concerns of the TLM/tradcath crowd is an even surer way to cause division. As much as I hate to say it, I think that the Pope reads Vatican II's docs using a "hermeneutic of rupture" and wants the new Mass to replace instead evolve from the old Mass.

A formerly nondenominational family church which tops out at the Dunbar Number of 150ish. My parents insisted we tithe our allowance, $1 out of our $10/week.

As to why I didn’t fall away like most in my generation, I got roped into doing the bulletins and the sound board in my twenties in the 00’s, and stuck around miserably until a Sunday school teacher with fire in his heart joined and started challenging our minds.

I’ve resolved the old wounds people inadvertently but inevitably gave me, and now I’m actually happy to be there. I’m now the lyrics projection technician too, and one of three Zoom gurus since the pandemic lockdowns. (We didn’t miss a single Sunday.)

PM me if you want to visit his Zoom class on “Engaging and Influencing the Culture” on Wednesday nights. Guests are always welcome.

until a Sunday school teacher with fire in his heart joined and started challenging our minds.

What exactly did he do? I have a similar position in my own church and am doing a terrible job at it.

He summarized an apologetics book’s most salient and piercing points as his class material, with illustrations in his PowerPoints, and has a particular method of “fill-in-the-blank” worksheets to hammer home the points. I’ll PM you his class recordings.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Malachi 3:10

God doesn't say test me on this about very many things in the bible. A sermon from several decades ago made a point that your checkbook reveals your true priorities. I had been tithing before that but it often reminds me not to be a frivolous steward in other ways.

Seeing Ilforte call Yud a "bloviating chuunibyo" was the precise moment I fell in love with themotte over SSC.

I doubt that anyone who thinks that Eliezer's perspective is valuable will change their mind because the man likes fedoras.

In retrospect, this take aged poorly as he started doing podcasts and stuff.

Little unrelated, but why I see "You’re unable to view this Tweet because this account owner limits who can view their Tweets" from my account, but not from incognito window? If it's a block notification it's quite amusing, because I never interacted with him in any way

Certain people use 'tweet nuking' where you block every single person who liked a particular tweet.

I've never really bought into the Rationalism is a Cult accusations... Until today when I saw someone tell Big Yud that he's the only person that looks good in a fedora. Yud has his upsides, but I've never seen a photo where he looked good in anything, let alone a fedora. I'm also convinced that most of the criticism of EA sex practices is just dudes being jealous that somehow this fucking guy is getting laid.

... Then again, I do have a stetson in my closet that I wear sometimes when I'm outside in the rain/snow/sun. So glass houses and all that.

Big Yud

It's crazy how up one's own ass someone can be but Yud always delivers.

Rationalism isn't a cult but it does have its social contagions. I think colloquially when people are referring to a "cult" they are loosely referring to the presence of some group behavior that has no practical basis related to the group activity (which is common for cults). It does raise some eyebrows that the bay area rationalists "normalized" polyamory among themselves to such am extent, which begs the question were they there for the rationalism or the sex? Using the colloquial definition, rationalism is more of a cult than let's say skiing or mountain biking. Or even kpop stanning.

I'm far from a fashion plate but I typically wear a fedora or trilby to the office. I wouldn't say they're making a comeback but I do get complements from people on the subway often enough.

Are you wearing with a suit?

Do you get compliments from women?

Not an actual suit normally. Usually slacks, dress shirt and a sport coat, so suit-adjacent.

I get compliments from men and women.

I think that's the ticket. If you're wearing it with a close-enough outfit, and not a salmon polo shirt.

No doubt it'll happen eventually. Within our lifetimes? No clue, but I'd bet against. People seem to want to get less and less formal, and hats are more formal to me. That said, while I don't personally wear one I think they're stylish as hell and appreciate when I see someone wearing one.

I've been wearing an Galactic Imperial Officer's kepi sometimes lately. It's surprisingly functional.

No. The testosterone level of men at the present are insufficient for that.

high testosterone and affinity for brimmed hats is not the connection I would have made

You only need to look at the data - back when men were wearing hats, testosterone levels were far higher. Heh.

What I had in mind was that men are now so feminised by environment that the it's less likely you'll find among men the independence of mind that lets a man wear a hat because he feels it's a good way of keeping sun and rain off his head or out of his eyes.

I bought a hat once for that purpose. Found that it's great, I had no idea what I'd been missing in my hat-less days.

Then it was stolen by some asshole. I forgot it at a train, and someone kept it instead of turning it in.

Back when more people wore hats, they were more exposed to the environment in daily life also. People who are exposed to the environment regularly do wear hats still.

and I agree the high T/high autism groups are more likely to do something which may be socially costly, brimmed hats included

but I don't see why that would translate into more brimmed hats being worn because in an environment where you're not exposed to the elements, they are just another piece of clothing which is kind of a hassle

Well, I found it useful because I like to walk outside a lot, so..

No, but high testosterone and being willing to be daring in any form do go together.

I agree high T/high autism are more likely to do things which are perceived as being socially costly, but I don't see why that translates into brimmed hats making a comeback. IMO, the biggest reason brimmed hats aren't regularly worn is because people aren't exposed to the environment which makes them have a lot of utility.

0 times anything is still 0.

I've been introduced recently to AI-generated line synthesizers via Youtube. Basically, you can get an AI to create a soundclip that sounds like a person of your choice. This is obviously something people have discussed in the context of faking evidence, but did you know people are using them to have the last four presidents play Call of Duty Zombies?

Found on 4chan: AM (from I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream) reads the schizophrenic rants of Francis E. Dec. Delightfully dramatic. (Warning: contains n-words.)

I found the fakes of Gandalf reviewing the Rings of Power pretty funny.

My personal favorite is rogan and shapiro on the beach that makes you old. The jokes are masterfully timed for ai generated memes, imho

I thought everyone had seen these things already:

(Elder Scrolls III Morowind) Dagoth Ur discovers the Nerevar is an Argonian:

There's also it reading the first/best AI-made greentext:

And finally we have Donald Trump explaining the many wondrous amusements on Epstein island: (NSFW)

I was mildly tempted to post the Abby Shapiro deradicalisation meme to discuss whether it's philo or antisemitic, but refrained in the end.

What I find fascinating is that people are now using the same app to have the bible narrated with Joshua Graham's voice.

Yes, the Burned Man from the Honest Hearts DLC of Fallout: New Vegas.

Joshua Graham inspects 10 Colt M1911's in 80 seconds, or one handgun every 8 seconds. The clip is 3:28:28 long, so while reading the Genesis he has inspected 1563.5 handguns.

The Genesis has 1533 verses, the entire Bible has 31103. By the time Joshua is done with the Bible, he will have inspected about 31722 handguns, which is honestly not that much compared to several million M1911's in existence, but enough to outfit a post-post-apocalyptic army.

That... was certainly a thing I just listened to. Is that computer generated, or does someone just do a really good Alec Guinness impression?


There's this new AI app that immitates voices based on just a few samples.

Supposedly finetuned for US accents so doesn't work that well for other ones.

I saw a league of legends version with some damn good one-liners. Can’t find it though.

There was also a guy going around and putting all sorts of copypasta into the voice of Ranni the Witch. Crazy how fast he could turn one around.

Trump and Obama are pretty good, Biden varies, I wouldn’t have recognized this was supposed to be W without being told so.

Top albums, Part III

161 Various Artists – A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records (1963)

Intelligent Christmas albums are rare, but for Phil Spector it was almost the perfect format. First, Spector’s production was always more important than the contributions of the individual artists, at least until he started working with acts outside his orbit. Second, the pop world at the time was singles-oriented and reliant on outside songwriters. Filling up an album with prime new material would have been a waste, as the same material could have sustained a dozen hit singles. Off-the-shelf Christmas tunes don’t carry that risk, and there are enough good songs to make the whole album an enjoyable experience. And the fact that it’s a seasonal album rather than a regular covers album means that, if nothing else, people will play it at Christmas time. What we end up with is 35 minutes of prime Spector, punctuated by the one prime original he kept up his sleeve for moments like this, “Christmas Baby Please Come Home”, which became enough of a stone classic that Darlene Love performed it on Letterman every Christmas until he retired.

160 Blood, Sweat & Tears – Blood, Sweat & Tears (1968)

Critical consensus has it that after Al Kooper left BS&T after one album the band became a shell of itself as Kooper’s vision of merging rock, jazz, blues and classical music gave way to a pop band with a horn section. Critical consensus is wrong, and while that first album is indeed very good, this one is better, as it doesn’t so much abandon that original vision as refine it, giving the songs extra polish and substituting Kooper’s vocals with those of the much more accomplished David Clayton-Thomas. Yes, the pop hits were there, but “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” uses Kooper’s arrangement, their version of Billie Holliday’s “God Bless the Child” has become the starting point for renditions by jazz musicians, and the album begins and ends with variations on Satie’s “Gymnopaedies”. Pop music indeed.

159 Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel [Melt] (1980)

After leaving prog-rock band Genesis for a solo career, Peter Gabriel didn’t seem to know what to do. His first two solo albums, for all their charms, seemed indecisive, without any stylistic focus or cohesion. With this record, however, he would craft the identity that would last the rest of his career. The songs are dark, touching on subjects from burglary to assassination. Gabriel’s voice exhibits a degree of paranoia rivaling that of David Byrne, but without the latter’s sense of irony. The production—most notably the lack of cymbals—gives the music a scary edge that befits the subject matter. It manages to sound fresh for the ‘80s in a way that’s not stereotypical ‘80s. And yet, the album’s final cut, while ostensibly about death, provides a silver lining. For while the 1977 death of anti-Apartheid activist Steven Biko at the hands of police may have been a tragedy, it was a tragedy that inspired hope, and Gabriel manages to let this shine through the doomy sound of the album without sounding overly sentimental.

158 Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (2007)

In the years since this album came out, Justin Vernon has tried to distance himself from the mythology that the album produced; times of immense personal crisis generally aren’t fun, regardless of the art they may produce. But what’s important here is that this album sounds like the mythology suggests it should—that it was written (and largely recorded) over the winter in a remote Wisconsin cabin as its author was recovering from illness and the breakup of his former band while longing for an old girlfriend who slipped away. The spare, mostly acoustic instrumentation, rudimentary percussion, layered, wordless, vocal harmonies, and judicious (for once) use of auto-tune as an effect certainly makes the listener feel like he’s in a rustic cabin in the dead of winter, while the unconventional song structures provide a degree of interest that most “homespun” recordings sorely lack. Vernon would spend the rest of his career as of this writing indulging his worst instincts, but on this record he still had some restraint.

157 James Brown – Live at the Apollo (1963)

Before James Brown revolutionized soul and invented funk, he was Mr. Dynamite, and was developing his reputation as The Hardest Working Man in Show Business by constantly touring the so-called Chit’lin Circuit and recording at a furious pace. Brown’s studio albums of the time were ad-hoc compilations of singles, b-sides, and rejects, added without regard to how old they were or even whether they had appeared on an album before, so if early Brown is going to make the list at all, it’s going to be for a live album. And what a live album. The audience is audibly ecstatic, and Brown plays through his hits like someone who does 200 shows a year and can’t afford to have an off night.

156 Jurassic 5 – Quality Control (2000)

In the last installment, I discussed how dismal the state of mainstream rap had become by the year 2000. And while most alternative rap artists sought inspiration from rap’s Golden Age of circa 1988–1995, J5 went back to the Old School. But this was no mere revival; while the group adopted an Old School aesthetic, there was a twist. In the early days of rap, most groups used a DJ live, while record companies would bring in a live band for recordings. But the difference was academic, because the goal was simply to have a steady groove for the MCs to rap over. In J5, DJ NuMark and (especially) Cut Chemist added a level of sophistication to the craft that exemplifies why turntables are really instruments in their own right. The other major difference is that rap’s roots were in 3 hour battles at parties and the like, and early records were viewed as mere distillations (or, less charitably, bastardizations) of the authentic experience. By 2000, composition had become as important as rapping skill, the result being that Quality Control works as an album the way no Old School album ever did.

155 Madlib – Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note (2003)

There’s a kind of dilemma that exists around brilliant hip-hop producers. Their talent lies primarily in creating beats for rappers to rap over. When the really good ones work to their full potential, the background overshadows the foreground, and the rapper fights for attention on his own record. But when they release solo recordings, there’s a distinct sense that each piece should really have a rapper. For this record, Madlib was given complete access to the tape vaults of legendary jazz label Blue Note, and he offers a master class in how producers should assemble their own albums. The beats here have enough melodic content that they stand on their own without being repetitive, a number of the tracks contain sampled vocal parts, and there are a few brief spoken word interludes that aren’t overlong like on other rap records (i.e. they actually work as interludes). To top it all off, there is one true vocal track, situated near the middle of the album to break it up nicely. It features little-known rapper M.E.D (a better-known name would be too distracting), and both the rapper and producer know when to back off and let the other shine.

154 Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)

This is the album that convinced groups like The Beatles that there was more to life than pop songs and that rock & roll music and led them to experiment with song structure, political statements, and all the rest of what would come to a boiling point around 1966 and usher in a true revolution, right around the same time as Dylan himself was moving in the other direction, tossing out folk convention to give his music a harder, bluesier edge. But that was all in the future. For now, this is simply a damn good folk record. Dylan is able to be overt enough to please the folk crowd and oblique enough to be true to himself, and the material is stylistically diverse but musically cohesive, a difficult feat when it’s just one man and his guitar.

153 Sam Cooke – One Night Stand (1963)

To be brief, everything I said about the James Brown Album applies here as well. Just another prime example of a true professional doing what he does best.

152 Prefuse 73 – Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives (2001)

Electronic musicians have a distinct advantage over hip-hop producers, despite largely covering the same musical territory, in that they’re not expected to make beats for rappers. Their realm is pure instrumentals, and, as such, they can afford to be more adventurous in how they construct songs. That isn’t to say that they don’t use rappers, but when they do the rapper is expected to be fully subservient to their whim, as he’s really just another instrument to manipulate. This means Prefuse 73 can get away with using name talent (in this case MF Doom and Aesop Rock) where a guy like Madlib can’t, since each performer is expected to step outside of his usual role. The result is an album that stands squarely at the intersection of electronic and hip-hop.

151 Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (2009)

One of the most baffling albums ever recorded. It’s Indie Rock. But there are folk elements. And jazz elements. And pure pop elements. And progressive elements. But it’s not weird. And it’s certainly not some lame-ass “eclectic mix”. It certainly sounds like a normal album when you listen to it; it’s only when you try to describe it that it becomes indescribable. I mean, I could probably describe it if I really went into the weeds, but I’m running up on a character limit. At the very least it can’t be described in broad strokes. But it’s also really, really good. That’s the important thing. I guess you’ll just have to listen to the record.

I love Veckatimest. Thanks for posting these, I enjoy reading them when you post them.

You might have already said this in another post and sorry if so, but about how many times have you listened to each album on your list? Are there ones that you've only listened to once or twice, or have you listened to each of them at least a handful of times?

Most of these I've listened to quite a few times, but there are a few I've only listened to once. It can be argued that one listen is not enough to full evaluate an album and I can agree with that to an extent; the problem is that there's a lot of stuff out there I'd like to listen to and life's too short for me to insist on, say, three listens to make sure that a particular album is really a 4 star album. That being said, in the decade+ that I've been doing this I've made over 7,000 evaluations (albums plus singles), and at this point I know a five star record when I hear one.

I'd like to see your CCR album rankings. Can you share?

What are y'all mfers reading nowadays? I'm on Tales of the Ketty Jay and I fucking love it. It's a fun romp with a freebooting airship captain in a fantasy world making moves and fuckin' bitches.

I'm sure everyone else is reading things much more erudite...

Last week, my girlfriend gave me Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (it's one of her two favourite books, and she wanted me to read it too). Yesterday I started reading it on the return flight from our weekend getaway, and slipped out of my office this afternoon so I could read the last chapter. I think the last time I found a book so compulsively readable was Tony Tulathimutte's Private Citizens (for reference, this edition is just shy of 300 pages). Terribly sad, moving, chilling, with characters so well-drawn I feel like I know them personally. Easily the best book I've read so far this year, and probably better than any book I read last year too.

"Never let me go" is very fucked up, I'm not sure there's another book that touched me so deeply. Actually, when I try to recall anything similar, certain moments of "The Talos Principle" come to mind, in how it builds a very relatable world and then force kicks you into the Acceptance stage of grief about it while you're utterly unprepared.

The Managerial Revolution by Burnham.

I've finally published my first work over on Sufficient Velocity and SpaceBattles.

It's a hard sci-fi take on superpowers set in a near-future transhumanist world with cyberpunk elements, something I desperately wanted to read when I thought of it, but alas, it looks like I'll be doing the hard work myself.

That was a fun read! I'll see if it continues holding my interest in later chapters. Though I wish you posted it on a less weird forum thread format, like Royalroad.

I appreciate the kind words! As for posting on RR, I do intend to do so once I have a few more chapters in hand. I was unsure of the rules regarding work that's been posted elsewhere, but I think I managed to figure it out.

Congrats that sounds awesome!! I wish you luck man.

Thank you, I might as well get some chapters in before GPT4 makes me obsolete haha

I finished Love for Lydia by H.E. Bates last night.

"The Northants setting becomes the background both ugly and beautiful for the story of a young girl, the daughter of a decaying aristocratic household, and her lovers, of which the most important is the narrator himself."

I thought it was brilliant honestly. The characters really mature and change over the course of the story, and the ending was so tense. Would ardently recommend to anyone who likes 75-year-old sentimental novels - it's basically Thomas Hardy but in the motor age.

I'm started reading Eliezer Yudowsky's glowfic Planecrash about a person from a hyper-rationalist world getting transported to the Pathfinder world, and an evil magic dictatorship scrambles to deceive him as they try to get him to reveal his advanced science. It's similar to Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, except I'd say it contains more of the worst parts(long lessons about science that are overly complicated, long lessons about science that are just incorrect, often arrogantly rants about stuff Eliezer thinks people do wrong). It also has overly detailed sex stuff that's especially uncomfortable to read knowing how much the MC is a self-insert. But overall I still really enjoy it, because Eliezer writes evil schemes and counter-schemes better than any other author I've read, and also is really funny.

It also has overly detailed sex stuff that's especially uncomfortable to read knowing how much the MC is a self-insert.

Let me guess, some vanilla dom type BS ?

Let me guess, some vanilla dom type BS ?


Then the old OKCupid profile photos going around cca 2008(?) were correct and also one more datapoint for: sexuality doesn't really change much in adulthood.

I'm been slowly working through HP Lovecraft's complete works. I uh... gotta be honest. I'm starting to see the claims that Lovecraft was abnormally racist even for his time. His description of an African boxer in Reanimator as a grotesque apelike creature, before the reanimator serum makes him even more monstrous is pretty brutal. Although the black cat named "Nigger Man" in The Rats in the Walls is kind of funny.

But I guess I never really felt strongly about whether Lovecraft was or was not racist. I more got up in arms about the over reactions about what to do about "it". But that's a discussion for another thread.

Check out Medusa's Coil, the ending is so racist it's actually hilarious!

"ONE... PERCENT... WELSH!?!?!"

Especially in comparison with the whole raising from the grave stuff lol.

Lovecraft is an unabashed white supremacist, which has no bearing on my opinion that "The Rats in the Walls" is one of the best horror stories I've ever read.

I find it helps to see him as a flawed man of his time from an era where many ideas we take for granted today were still unheard of.

That modern racist authors are capable of reaching far greater heights of racism means only that they stand upon his shoulders, and we owe him a great debt for paving the way for them long before the invention of tools like genetics or FBI crime statistics.

I'm starting to see the claims that Lovecraft was abnormally racist even for his time.

Huh? Was that claim ever in question?

It's very much in question, still.

There was an anonymous questionnaire given to GIs during or shortly after WW2 that found that they'd basically all qualify as far right extremists today. There's also this book that claims a 1943 poll found that Americans at the time would have rather lost the war than given full equality to blacks.

People back then were very racist. The infamous Rosedale book about 'White Flight' mentioned the utter disgust and contempt with which elderly whites treated a white woman running away from an abusive black boyfriend - they'd not let her in, they'd not let her use the phone, they'd not call the police on her behalf. And this was 1970s.

I can easily see how someone who is just a run of the mill racist and fond of describing the grotesque in his stories can seize upon the more unusual features of the black phenotype - say, the wide nose, the prominent lips, etc and go on about them.

I don't think you have to be a particularly heinous racist to be that way. Someone who is truly bigoted and racist would be far more obsessed and far less likely to ever use neutral language.

Meanwhile, if my memory serves, Lovecraft describes blacks as usually primitive, more in tune with their animal nature than whites, but not irredeemable or wholly evil. Note that he sometimes mentions various obscure tribes or races of men that were wholly given to serving alien powers, etc..

As WhiningCoil notes, I suppose it's not in question that Lovecraft was racist, at least by our modern standards, it's more the question of how to handle Lovecraft. I'd say that, as far as degree goes, Lovecraft is maybe a notch above the typical old-timey Anglo racism, which probably stems from him having such a sheltered life.

GenZ neologisms. Every passing day I slowly find myself using more and more of them. The latest addition to my arsenal is "rizz", and its variation of "w rizz" and "l rizz". To those unaware rizz is what the millenials called "game", the ability to swoon the other gender. I dont think any such proper phrase exists that succintly sums up the concept of win rizz and lose rizz. New phrases for new things.

In my headcannon, neologisms dont replace old words/ideas, they come into existence to describe a subtle variation of a situation/experience that the old phrase didnt demarcate well enough. Rizz is not the same thing as game or even charisma, its a superset of those concepts. Bussing isnt delicious, it means delicious and addicting. These specialized neologisms might just dilute over time into their old vague versions. And the day I cant keep up, ill look like an old man using old language.

I still find it a hilarious etymological coincidence that, despite the total lack of causal connection, “based” ended up the opposite of “debased.”

People used to think that the spread of modern telecommunications would eliminate all language and dialect differences, but I find it fascinating to observe that at the same time developing countries around the world are crushing local languages and dialects with the power of public schooling, the rate of language change has probably been accelerated by the rapid dispersal of new memes and vocabulary online.

Combined with the splintering of the internet into thousands of separate communities defined by common interest or ideology, each with their own way of speaking, I can envision a time when in addition to our national languages we must all be conversant in entirely different languages unique to these groups.

As a Millennial, the older I get, the more I slowly build up a desire to purge my personal lexicon of current-day slang--it's just gonna be cringey once I'm biologically older, and there's little avoiding that. I figure I might as well embrace my age and go for oatmeal-plain language, or even retreat to 90's-speak.

It can be fun to insert up to the minute slang into a longer expression. The key is to use it correctly, but carefully enunciated as though gently placing the phrase into your statement with verbal tongs, and without breaking your normal flow. Appending "as the kids say" is just gilding the lily, however.

When you have kids of an age to be embarrassed by their parents, it's quite good fun to intentionally misuse (or even properly use) slang.

I'm personally a fan of "in the ragged parlance of the youth," as coined by Penny Arcade one time.

Honestly, I have no clue how people older than me keep up with the pace at which this is progressing - I already seem to be an old man using old language despite the fact that I am in the age range of Gen Z. I simply haven't picked up on many of their neologisms, and even with those I do understand, I have real difficulty using them in a seemingly natural way (and often come off incredibly awkwardly).

I think it mostly just helps to be on certain platforms. Not the really big and visible ones like Twitter or YT, but places like Twitch or Tumblr. There's also always Urban Dictionary, for however much weight you can place on that.

I am far beyond the age where I should even understand it, but I love no cap as a synonym for the honest truth.

It is hilarious when you stumble into a comment section of obvious bullshit and the comments are filled with 🧢 (It's a cap).

Huh, so that's what it means.

The likely etymology of that is interesting, as "no cap" might come from a bit of Twitch-"speak." On the website, one of the global chat emotes (i.e. free for literally everyone to use) is "Kappa," which is a greyscale, low-resolution image of a headshot of one of Twitch's founding members (specifically Justin Kan himself, I believe). The Kappa emote is generally used to represent sarcasm, likely due to the monochrome smirk (or, at least, at that level of detail, it sure looks like a smirk) conveying a feeling of smugness and irony suited to Internet-dweller sensibilities.

So "no cap" probably started as "no Kap(pa)" and mutated from there.

Okay, this explains "kappa" which I remember from some time back and which I then assumed was meaningless .

At least the way I heard it used made it seem meaningless.

Know Your Meme suggests a different etymology, dating from as far back as the 80s in a rap context, and much more recently popularized via the Atlanta hip-hop scene. Wiktionary points specifically to the 2017 rap track "No Cap" by Future and Young Thug.

That's a lot more plausible, yeah.

I have my final mid terms of my life (at least ug) this week and they only have two technical subjects so all should be fine. I watched nearly all DC Animated movies and here are the ones I would recommend.

  • Batman - The Long Halloween (part 1 and 2) - This is peak batman, not just bruce wayne in all his different forms but even the batman and his rogues gallery in all their forms. It is a detective story with great action and real cosnequences set in a world of gotham with Godfather like aesthetics.

  • Batman - The Dark Knight Rises (1 and 2) - Classic, watch them both.

  • All-Star Superman - Quintessential Superman story which deals with death in a very mature way. A story worth watching imo

  • Batman - The Mask of the Phantasm

  • Batman - Under the Red Hood - Amazing movie, classic storyline that will actually make you hate Batman and his morals.

  • Batman - Gotham by Gaslight - Victorian Era Batman who fights a killer. The setting alone makes it worth watching

  • Batman - Assault on Arkham - Good brainless action done right

  • Constantine - City of Demons - Worth a watch

  • Justice Leage Dark Apokolips War - Pretty good

  • The Batman (Tetrology?) - Bunch of movies like batman vs robin, etc look em up on wikipedia, not that good but worth watching just once.

  • Justice League - The Flashpoint Paradox - I hate the new 52 that happened due to this even but the storyline is good, deals with loss, mortality and the finiteness of time, how trauma breaks people.

Most if not all comic book movies, hell most movies seem childish now since I watched one every day, sometimes 4 or 5 a day. I have a projector in my room that I fire up when I wish to watch movies and watched these alongside the Dark Knight Trilogy and the new Batman. All 4 are great movies. The best comic book stories are ones that are not supernatural but with mortals who have a sense of fear, grief, loss and finally some catharsis of some sort. Daredevil the Netflix show, punisher and some comics are in this very list.

Marvel has better storylines than DC in many cases yet DC does a good job putting its stories in these animated movies. Some of them are R Rated too I guess. Ngl, Animated Selina Kyle is genuinely super super attractive to the point where I cannot like a live action version of her (hated all of them actually) and the animated one is just perfect.

Comic book movies are for children at the end of the day, watch enough movies and the fatigue sets in quick but these all are worth watching at least once if not more and provide good entertainment.

My list of ones worth watching would be:

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 1 and 2- Very good, classics

Batman: Year One- It's been a while since I actually watched it, but I remember it being good. More focus on Jim Gordon

Batman: Assault on Arkham- Really good, I don't think it's that brainless. My favourite Suicide Squad piece of media.

Flashpoint Paradox- Excellent, one of my favourites, but I've also always had a soft spot for alternate timelines

Justice League: War- Good intro to the Justice League

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War- Really good if you've seen all the other DC animated movies, but there are like a dozen that aren't worth watching, and I don't know how good it'd be without more context

What I like from comic book stories, in order of priority, are:

a) Lack of plotholes and reasonable motivations from everyone. If the villain's utility function is just causing other's to suffer and they act like the Joker, that's fine. If the villain's utility function is they want more money, and they act like the Joker, that annoys me because being a domestic terrorist is not a good money making strategy. I want this from pretty much all media, not just comic book stories.

b) A real challenge to overcome. I have to believe the character is struggling to accomplish their goal, and also related to a) aren't only struggling because they're holding an idiot ball.

c) Impressive/superhuman abilities. I like seeing characters do the impossible like punch through walls or fly, it's satisfying in a simple way.

Yeah, they just get repetitive after a while though. That is why I love Mask of the Phantasm, Under the Red Hood, The Long Halloween(both parts), Gotham by Gaslight. All 4 have different villains who have objectives beyond money, who you have not seen before in other movies and have a personal struggle for both Batman and Bruce Wayne.

I dislike the Justice league stuff somewhat given Batman punches robots that superman fights, even though one is a normal dude whilst other is an alien capable of smashing planets. The lack of consistency in this stuff does make me a bit bored but otherwise these are good movies. I liked all 4, the fourth especially.

Also Assault on Arkham is a more action oriented movie and yeah, it is great. I too think it is the best piece of Suicide Squad media. I just wish they could make more movies like the ones listed in this post.

I dislike the Justice league stuff somewhat given Batman punches robots that superman fights, even though one is a normal dude whilst other is an alien capable of smashing planets. The lack of consistency in this stuff does make me a bit bored but otherwise these are good movies. I liked all 4, the fourth especially.

That's definitely an issue for me, I consider it a plot hole, but at this point I've basically just accepted that, like how I accept that Superman can fly and shoot lasers out of his head. But some of the movies still go too far for me, like Throne of Atlantis, where whichever character was using the Trident was essentially more powerful than the rest of the Justice League combined. It's been a while since I've seen the movie, so maybe I'm being unfair to it, but I think Ocean Master should've had a more complex strategy to defeat the Justice League than just "Get my hands on the trident", and the Justice League should've had a more complex plan to defeat Ocean Master than just "Get the trident into Aquaman's hands".

I never understand how DCs animated tv/film division can put out so many great products while the live action ones are consistently worse.

Warner Bros owns DC and thus has all of the film / tv / etc rights.

WB Animation values the DC universe because it's a very useful setting for action adventure shows & films. Most of their other IP is aimed at a younger audience -- Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, others. So DC films are actually their opportunity to make more serious content.

WB Film likes making serious respectable dramas. They view comic book films as ways to make money to make their "real" films. Comic book films are just seen as a way to market toys and merchandise. It doesn't matter if they're good so long as they get kids excited.

Ben Affleck got disillusioned with working with WB on Batman / Justice League because when he was talking about story problems with the studio an exec straight up told him "I don't care if the movie is bad."

the studio an exec straight up told him "I don't care if the movie is bad."

Well, that confirms what we've long suspected - they don't care if it's bad if it makes money.

Marvel just got luckier more than anything else. Also animated stuff is much more niche, less money is required and earned via that stuff so its is much more appealing to the masses.

Also, DC owes a lot to BTAS (Batman the Animated Series) which along with Superman had animated movie spin offs. Since these were superior to the live action movies then, they set the tone and DC just made more animated stuff for nerds like us. I honestly like it a lot.

Why do you think they struggle? Replicating marvel is not smart as they are an anomaly, not the norm.