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Friday Fun Thread for May 19, 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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I am really cheap. I hate to waste money. However I'm happy to spend small amounts of money that tangibly improve my life. What are some small things that you spend money on (say, under $10 USD per month- or $20 if you really have to splurge) that you think are the most worth it?

  • Wife recently asked me to buy what seemed like an excessive number of plastic boxes, and then went on to surprise me by actually tidying up the place to some degree by sorting all our possessions that could somehow be categorized and meaningfully placed together in said boxes, then placing those on shelves, instead of the status quo ante of each shelf being stuffed with loosely associated objects. So, if you have any problems with orderliness, consider investing in boxes that fit into your shelves.

  • Ibuprofen, if you don't have any but you do get headaches that bother you, or in case of nasty fevers. That stuff just works.

  • If you don't own a belt, though I doubt this applies to anyone on the motte, consider acquiring one. Belts are pretty useful, I'm glad I have one, and I remain amazed that many people I know refuse to wear any.

  • Do you have a garden? Any potted plants? If no to both, get a small pot and some plant of your choosing. It's a dreary life that is without greenery, and a little pot and plant doesn't cost much.

  • Any lamps without shades? Get a lampshade! You can get cheap ones for two or three bucks, and it still looks much better than a naked bulb.

Not sure whether any of this is helpful, but here's my current answer to the question.

Wifeys and little bins seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. I didn't realize in the before days.

Hopefully you're not putting wifeys in the little bins tho!

  • Safety razor with a bunch of blades. Cheap, sanitary, and does a better job than plastic razors.

  • Obsidian Sync for storing all my notes and ideas and syncing them between my devices (you can do it for free with git but I like supporting Obsidian)

  • Plastic pan scraping squares. Cleaning pots and pans has never been so easy.

  • A dozen small glass bowls for storing small amounts of leftover food or for temporary ingredient storage while cooking

  • If you're poor, an all purpose hot sauce like Frank's Red Hot makes everything edible

  • Pour spouts for your liquor. Way less mess and wasted booze, way easier measuring.

  • Better than Bouillon, best stock/bouillon substitute ever (only available in America maybe?)

  • Kitchen chopsticks. These are giant chopsticks connected by a string for story frying stuff. Much easier to use than a spatula but might take some practice.

**Major Spoiler for Succession **

Has anyone seen the most recent, penultimate episode of Succession? I've been looking at the discussion around the internet, both reddit and site summaries, and I feel like I watched a completely different episode. Ignoring the terrible and ham-fisted writing this entire season, I feel like the internet is utterly ignoring or misreading key scenes in this particular episode. First the Roman Roy eulogy. He utterly chokes, and clearly gets the bright idea to blame it over suddenly becoming overcome with grief for his father. Upon glancing at the coffin, his face clearly slackens as the idea hits him, and he very clearly beacons his sibling to rush the stage and cover for him. The camera shot of the tv recording clearly picks up his exasperated moan of "man" as in 'I fucked up and embarrassed himself'. The Old Guard even look on in embarrassment at the pathetic display and fake tears. Looking back at the opening scene of Roy practicing his eulogy, he is clearly winging it and speaking nonsensically. Quote "His demise was carried, written in fire. Pulsed electric, in a flash, over seven continents, into newspapers he started, networks he launched through fiber he laid, satellites we built. A great man indeed. Something, something, something, something."[sic] Complete nonsense. Jeryd even mocks Roman later with "Tiny Tears". Yet the entire internet seems to believe that Roy was genuinely and suddenly overcome with grief.

The second misunderstanding the internet has is with Shiv's pregnancy. Half seems to believe she had an abortion, the other half believes she plans to drink alcohol through her pregnancy and raise retarded babies. Earlier in the episode, she announces to her brothers that she is pregnant, and is clearly intending to keep the baby. Who announces a pregnancy that they intend to abort? They are literally congratulating her. Her mother also later congratulates her. Later, in a heated conversation with Tom, who she is divorcing, she very pettily begins to drink a glass of champagne. Clearly implying she is no longer pregnant with his baby. Tom follows up saying "It's fine", but asking when she was planning to tell him she was no longer pregnant and what might have happened. She looks taken aback at the suddenly realization of what she has done and implied, with a "What, now!? I wasn't expecting to." Then after stumbling over her words a bit, she relies "it was sudden, and I wasn't sure I wanted to keep it." Clearly implying she had an abortion. Then Tom responds "So why didn't you tell me". She replies, "Because it seems so sad". When Tom walks away, the director holds the shot on her face for a full 10 seconds as she comes to terms with what's she done, as he even accused her a couple episodes ago of not really being pregnant, to emotionally abuse him.

The last and perhaps biggest misreading/downplaying/whathaveyou, is the revelations that Logan Roy sexually abused Roman Roy. As the three children grieve together before the gaudy mausoleum, Shiv stares at Roy as he breaks down as their father enters his final resting place and the shot lingers on her sudden realization that Roy was sexually abused by their dad. That is why Roy is impotent, unable to form proper relationships with women, and generally sexually inappropriate at all times. He jokes about being the father of his sister's child and jerking off to her breastfeeding. The camera then does a frontal follow along shot as she goes to confront The Old Guard about "just how bad was dad, really?". "He was a salty dog, but a good egg" they reply. Salty dog meaning an ornery sailor. She nods, while holding back tears, and the music is incredible tense. Not ten seconds later, Kendall Roy again literally says "Life isn't fair. People who say they love you also fuck you" with a shot of him looking at his fathers mausoleum while describing a crafty business plan to fuck over his conniving sister and become CEO, and become like his father.

I feel like I'm in crazy town, because these are all MAJOR plot developments and revelations and ABSOUTELY no one is talking about it. All discussion being about who will succeed, shitty jokes, and awful takes, and none of the massive character development or revelations that happened this episode.

Looking back at the opening scene of Roy practicing his eulogy, he is clearly winging it and speaking nonsensically. Quote "His demise was carried, written in fire. Pulsed electric, in a flash, over seven continents, into newspapers he started, networks he launched through fiber he laid, satellites we built. A great man indeed. Something, something, something, something."[sic] Complete nonsense. Jeryd even mocks Roman later with "Tiny Tears". Yet the entire internet seems to believe that Roy was genuinely and suddenly overcome with grief.

He's clearly not winging it imo. That shit is way too on point for Roman's extemporaneous style of speaking (which would be more perverse). It actually sounds like Kendall's corporate-speak freestyling but even then is too polished.

Yes, it sounds like nonsense corpo speak providing platitudes about a man many see as absolutely awful. But that doesn't mean it isn't planned nonsense.

I think Roman is clearly meant to have actually been grieving. Even in that opening scene I think he repeats his common refrain that he "pre-grieved" which does make it sound like the lady doth protest too much. A few episodes ago he also told Gerri he felt awful (he was also the sibling most in denial about Logan's death), but he wrapped it in standard Roman irony because he - none of them really - like being authentically vulnerable.

He also said incoherent things in his breakdown (like asking if he dad is in the coffin. Like...yes? lol) that fit more with grief than the pretense of grief, which I think would be more dignified.

Don't take Roman at his word.

Tunic - Holy shit play this game.

Tears of the Kingdom ended kind of disappointingly. I don't want to spoil it for everyone, so I'll just say that I really did think they'd have the stones to commit to the dragon logic they set up, blessed child that I am. But no, it's just Link fights Ganon for the umpteenth final time to save Zelda.

But that's ok with me, because I got Tunic, and it's freaking brilliant. Tunic was inspired by a much loved experience for gamers in my age bracket - that of getting an obscure foreign game for the super nintendo or mega drive and figuring out how to play it based on what you can puzzle out of the manual. Part of the gameplay is in picking up the 50 odd pages of the manual scattered about the map, and then trying to figure out what it is telling you despite being written in a language made up for the game. Some of the manual is in English, but the developer did an outstanding job of giving you the basics in an easily understood format while also presenting more advanced information in a way you can't grasp until you get further into the game (you can sequence break a lot of it on your second play through because you know the manual's secrets).

So basically it's a mash up of lttp and a mystery solving game - you don't always get new items from the dungeons, sometimes you get new information, but either way the world expands - as do your options. I can't think of a moment in a game that made me more pleased with myself than when I figured out how to use the holy cross in Tunic.

I want to say more, so much more (there's a newsradio reference!), but if there was ever a game you should play blind it is Tunic. You can find torrents of it, but if you are like me you'll end up paying for it any way - it's made by one guy, and is well worth it. Thanks a bunch @FD4280 for reminding me of it, and @SubstantialFrivolity you might enjoy it too.

Thanks! Downloading now.

Similarly disappointed by Tears of the kingdom.

If I can give a recommendation in return - Outer Wilds is great to go into blind. It's the best mystery / puzzle solve game I've ever seen by a mile. Actually, it's the best game I've ever experienced by a long shot. I wish I could play it again for the first time. DLC is fantastic too.

Cheers, that's a hell of a recommendation!

Thanks for the rec! I'll check it out.

I'll shill Mechabellum, a recently released autobattler strategy game on Steam. That's not to be confused with idle games, it's a turn-based PvP game. Essentially, you lay out the configuration of your army in the preparation phase, and then watch as your robots fight it out, automatically engaging the nearest enemy like an RTS.

It's a very deterministic game, each player gets the same set of choices. At the start, you each get to choose 1 of 4 randomly picked 'characters' with a special ability (like free unlocks for air units, or +50 supplies each turn). After turn 1, there are 'random events' at the start of the turn that let you pay for a missile strike, or a global upgrade to one of your units, or give a single unit +75% attack and +75% HP... You can see what your opponent might choose and plan around it. I think that a dev lost one too many games of hearthstone to RNG BS and resolved 'never lose to chance again'.

Each turn players get more and more resources but their plans are also more revealed. Units from previous turns stay on the next turn. Generally, you can't move units from previous turns. So if I started the game by putting some single-unit crowd-control Arclights at the front, hoping to counter spam, I can expect that he'll field anti-single unit Marksmen on round 2 positioned to target them. So I could put some cheap spammy crawlers in front of my Arclight to soak up any Marksmen fire.

In between turns, you can research one of four 'techs' for a certain class of unit, giving it extra range, armor that flatly decreases damage taken per shot, new attacks, trading range for damage... Units can also be leveled up if they do a lot of damage, which gives +100% attack and HP for only half the price of a new unit.

There are also two vulnerable towers behind your lines that, if destroyed, will drastically weaken your units for about 10 seconds. So they need to be protected from enemy attack. In later turns, enemies can also come in via the flanks.

The goal of the game is to win decisive victories, where much of your army is intact. That causes the most damage to the enemy's healthbar. If you have only a couple units left, they only lose a measly 100 hp or so, out of 3000-4000. The game tends to build to a crescendo in the later turns, where each army is huge and the victories more decisive. It's very possible to turn a losing game around.

It does feel like I'm playing mind-games with my opponent, countering counters, pre-empting. Do I have enough anti-air? Are my flanks protected? Is the bulk of my army protected from nukes or bombardment with shields? What new unit should I unlock to throw my opponents plans into disarray? Am I advancing towards a nice synergy in my army?

Started it.

Menu is partially in Chinese.

Closed it.

Deleted it.

I like the basic premise of autobattlers, but somehow they all fall short.

I saw that too, it is a little bit off that there's absolutely no information about 'Game River' online, the developer. China has produced some good games though, Dyson Sphere Program for instance.

They all seem short on personality, though. I know, that's a vague and nebulous thing, maybe they do have personality but I'm too culturally illiterate to notice it.

I recently played Boundary, a made-in-China astronaut shooter. Too fast-paced for me, but otherwise not even bad.

How does it compare to the MOBA autochess entries? I tried a bit of TFT and didn’t care for it.

Anyway, in the spirit of “games made out of hating one aspect of another,” check out Your Only Move Is Hustle. It’s a turn-based fighting game. Each player selects a move, and then the game plays out until one of the players is ready to act again. As in normal fighting games, this depends on the choice of move—and you certainly can’t act while getting hit. The end result is all the flair of fighting games, but emphasizing the thinky mind games and anime bullshit instead of mechanical execution.

Also, it feels crispy as hell.

Honestly I've never played any games like Mechabellum. Maybe I'm just describing things that are common to the format.

I suppose it's a bit greedy to wait for a special on Hustle, considering how cheap it is.

Good news is it has a free version.

Air Force pilot Brian Shul, the author of the internet-famous SR-71 speed check story, died of a heart attack yesterday. It's a fun little read for anyone who hasn't seen it before.

RIP. That story makes me smile every time I read it.

I'm sorry to hear of his passing. That's such a great story, can you imagine being that poor tryhard aviator who happened to pick a time to one up some new pilot during the perhaps 5 minutes when an SR-71 was flying over the same ATC center?

It's a good thing that 70% of these members are women. My initial advice may then seem counterintuitive: focus on befriending the men first. At least don't neglect them. Befriend them enough to hang out with them separately. Go to a club. Hike. Do a sport. Preferably something physical. Showing your social prowess, especially with the well-established males in the group, soothes the initial suspicion that you're just there to meet women. It demonstrates that you're not a lonely weirdo and can hold your own in masculine company. This is itself attractive. If nothing else, you'll meet new nonromantic friends. Even if you don't get any women, you've won in the end.

Coed settings have their own dynamic. If the women are even vaguely attractive, this will be reflected in countless small nuances of gesture in behavior all around (despite the lies of our elites who suggest that coed environments, particularly at work, may be purged of sexual tension and behavior. To all with eyes to see and ears to hear this is plainly false.) When people start dating in any well-established group there's a lot of risk. Alliances formed and broken, grudges held, entire wings of the group split. For this there is no remedy, except to acknowledge the reality.

Confidence is good -- you think your insights will be better than everyone else's? Maybe. I'll tell you from growing up through any number of Bible studies, devotionals and book discussions that people may be impressed with your verbal prowess at first. But everybody wants that praise. So give it to them. If you're superior, then act like you have nothing to prove. Don't be too liberal or sycophantic with your compliments because people see through that. But when somebody's finished speaking, it's often a high compliment to pause a little, nodding and letting the words sink in, and then to ask a thoughtful follow-up question. This, combined with occasional small compliments, may keep a discussion going with minimal input. And when you give your thoughts, refer to what others have said and build on that.

Most people are bad conversationalists. While you're speaking they're busy crafting an awesome insight in their heads. This leads to people simply announcing their thoughts in turn. Everybody then feels curb-stomped because their insights were left on the vine. Here's a trick -- write down notes on what you'd like to say before the meeting. That way you don't have to keep it all in your head. Free up enough bandwidth to listen. They may have good thoughts you didn't have, your superiority notwithstanding.

As for how to use this advice -- read it, read it again, jot notes. Then put it aside when you sit down at your first meeting. Loosen up. Have fun. You love good books and good talk. You're awesome and women love you.

Plus one to the above, and I'll double down on it.

Befriend some of the women. Which ones? The ones you find most attractive. Why? If you make it completely clear you are friend-zoing her utterly at the beginning she'll eventually invite you out with her friends and now you're in a 1-male to x-females situation with a heap of social proof from the start of the evening. There is also an extremely good chance that she is "covertly" setting one of the friends up with you.

The key here is that you're doing this within the context of a group dynamic wherein you can (hopefully, and also necessarily) demonstrate some higher status. It's not about being a wallflower and then awkwardly asking to be friends on the side. Demonstrated status and social proof are the coins of the realm. The problem is when guys try to spend them the same place the make them. This is how, at best, you get into a potentially risky office romance or, at worst, get escorted out of the office by HR and/or security.

In group social proof and status is not, however, easily transferrable. Think of groups as countries with different currencies. It's hard to spend it directly in a group within which you did not build it. Have you ever heard a guy in a bar talking about how he has such-and-such a fancy job or was friends with Johnny WhoDat, the biggest waterbed dealer on the West Side? That's an attempt to currency exchange social proof / status. It fails. What you have in your book club is an exchange agent. She, as a trusted member of multiple groups, can port all of that built up social proof and status you have from the book club out into other groups. In fact, that you arrive at these new groups with such a high endorsement introduction automatically jump starts your relative status within the new group. Go for it.

Where were you fifteen years ago when I needed this advice?

I am frustrated that all of the social and romantic advice that I received from adults as a kid was inscrutable and unquantified and vague normie intuitions that I didn't understand. I always knew I was doing it wrong, but couldn't figure out how or why, and nobody could explain it to me. And only since I discovered rationalist and rationalist adjacent spaces did I start hearing coherent logical explanations that I could use to actually figure out social situations and figure it out. And these are verbal descriptions! It's not just that I'm older and wiser and have learned from experience lessons that cannot be taught by words. If I had heard these words fifteen years ago I would have understood them and been able to adjust my behavior!

And the worst thing is that all the normies probably understand all this already and if you told them this they'd be like "yeah that sounds about right", but when they give their own version of the explanation in their own words it's just incoherent nonsense.

  1. As long as you we're 50+ 15 years ago, this advice is still useful.

  2. "but when they give their own version of the explanation in their own words it's just incoherent nonsense." True. The sad fact of the matter is that both men and women have such little knowledge of courtship and how mate selection works. This is because it used to be embedded in socially approved rituals (think 1960s and earlier ... asking a girl to the sock hop, what "going for a drive" actually meant, the term "going steady" etc. etc.) When those rituals started to disappear through the 80s and 90s as women grew up with more fundamental autonomy, no new rituals replaced them. Fortunately, the underlying truth became a object of study. What's so interesting about real Social Dynamics / Sexyual strategy is how universal it is to all of human civilization post the emergence of agriculturalism and larg(er) scale pastoralism.

I'm getting out of focus here, so suffice it to say - most people have no idea how or why they've ever gotten laid - male or female (though probably women have a bit more front of mind intuition about this in general). That's the reason why you get bad advice.

Nobody gets to opt out of playing status games. It isn't possible. You can choose to play them well and retain integrity. That's the good news. The bad news is that status game sociopaths exist and will blow those with morals and ethics out of the water for some amount of time before their local society decides to exile them. The point there is to not get jaded and enjoy your own life.

The bad news is that status game sociopaths exist and will blow those with morals and ethics out of the water for some amount of time before their local society decides to exile them.

This relies on there being a local society. My impression is that a significant cause of the modern destruction of dating and friendships is not just the dissolution of rituals, but also the dissolution of local society. If everyone you know is a friend of a friend of a spouse of a cousin, then there are reputational concerns. The good faith actors can vouch for each other and introduce each other to their friends and therefore recognize each other, while the bad faith actors quickly burn through all their social capital and end up as outcasts. If you have forty trustworthy mutual friends who all know each other, then a viable strategy is to only trust people who are vouched for by other people you already trust, and treat any outsiders with suspicion until they jump through a lot of hoops to prove themselves. But if you're in an atomized society where you've moved into a new city 2 years ago and all of your neighbors are people who have also moved here within the past couple years, each from a different place, that's not an option. The strategy to only trust and befriend people who are vouched for is equivalent to having no friends. You have to lower your standards for reputation, which makes it easier for the sociopaths to blend in. And when they are eventually caught they can just move to a different social circle (in a high population area they don't even need to literally move to a new location), and blend in again because people can't afford to ostracize strangers anymore.

But if you're in an atomized society where you've moved into a new city 2 years ago and all of your neighbors are people who have also moved here within the past couple years, each from a different place, that's not an option. The strategy to only trust and befriend people who are vouched for is equivalent to having no friends.

This is accurate if you've made the choice to delegate personal autonomy to the group.

That is the path of most.

Reclaim your autonomy. Determine what you see as fruitful.

most people have no idea how or why they've ever gotten laid - male or female (though probably women have a bit more front of mind intuition about this in general). That's the reason why you get bad advice

This is a golden sentence to internalise. I remember being perplexed at high school why I got decent attention from girls, some friends got a ton of it and others got none at all. Some guys were obviously unfuckable and they seemed to accept this and made no attempt but many did make attempts only to get ignored or scorned or fuck it up quickly if they ever got a chance. Now when I look back it’s all so painfully obvious. I was just a bit more attractive and emotionally stable that early on I got a reputation as the guy who dated a couple of the pretty nice girls. Things just followed. Meanwhile some got the reputation as the guy who threw a tantrum for being rejected or ignored.

If you don’t know what you are doing (or suddenly change significantly in attractiveness etc) it’s practically impossible to change your standing in a group hierarchy.

It's a good thing that 70% of these members are women. My initial advice may then seem counterintuitive: focus on befriending the men first. At least don't neglect them.

This works in normal nightlife situations too. I used to go out on nights out alone often enough and it was always fairly easy after I got introduced to a group by striking up a conversation with a guy while ordering a pint or something.

This isn't just about not being a loner, being the center of conversation among five guys will get noticed positively by women.

It's not hard to see why. By being at least likeable and socialized enough to hold your own among a group of men you've hit the minimum baseline of normality. This alone screens you favorably against all kinds of worst-case assumptions about you.

This is really solid advice, especially

focus on befriending the men first. At least don't neglect them

To build upon that, while long term activities is certainly a factor. The immediate benefit from men’s positive perception of you is the most crucial take away.

Another important pointer would be to ask good questions about them. Put them on the spotlight, not in a confrontation way, but more so in the light of curiosity. You could do so where you keep track of the count of questions towards men and women, this would help fighting the subconscious paranoia which derives from feeling like you might be “exposed”

This is gold.

Is there a : "Not culture war, but quality contribution that socially awkward people should be told at least once" section ?

While you're speaking they're busy crafting an awesome insight in their heads. This leads to people simply announcing their thoughts in turn. Everybody then feels a curb-stomped because their insights were left on the vine. Here's a trick -- write down notes on what you'd like to say before the meeting. That way you don't have to keep it all in your head. Free up enough bandwidth to listen. They may have good thoughts you didn't have, your superiority notwithstanding.

I have been personally trying to be a better listener, and this is great. It's funny how it is so obvious when I read it, but so few people are able to put it to good use.

AAQCs aren’t culture-war specifi!

Who here has tried Twitter Blue, the subscription service from twitter?

Superficially, it is a verified account. It has the requisite blue checkmark. It looks legit like a real verified account. Anyway, if you post too often with it, all your tweets go away for 24 hours or so. Also, there is major throttling of links and other drawbacks. It's not at all like a true, authentic legacy verified account. People are paying $8/month or $80/year thinking they are getting an actual verified account. But it's not.

I think this is false advertising. But not surprising. Twitter is not going to enable full functionality for only $8. That would open floodgates for spam and other abuse. I think this means gold, checkmarks, which cost $1000/month have become the new 'verified'

The old verified twitter accounts meant something, pre-2022. If you got verified it meant not only status of having a a checkmark, which was rare, but the unthrottled posting privileges that came with it.

Twitter features are changing by the hour. If you were to explain to in perfect detail what each check does and how to get one, it would be completely useless by next week. I sort of understand why advertisers aren't coming back. How would you even explain to them what exactly they are buying?

If the gold checkmark does give you the privileges of a 'real' blue checkmark, it is worth the $1k/month . More post visibility and posts not being hidden by twitter. Also, premium support, impersonation defense.

If the gold checkmark does give you the privileges of a 'real' blue checkmark, it is worth the $1k/month .

Ordinarily. But many celebrities (notably Lebron and Stephen King) also seem to be factoring in the fact that there is a reputational cost outside of the price for paying Elon Musk's Danegeld

One of the big aspects of a Post-Elon Blue Check for a while, was that blue check replies would automatically get listed at the top of replies to a tweet. This significantly degraded user experience because instead of the top replies being whoever got the most likes it would be whoever paid $8. This is part of what sparked the mass blocking of blue checks because if you actually wanted to see the top replies without scrolling for a while it's what you had to do. Blue Checks now seem like a signal of a low-quality engagement bait, or someone who is trying to commercialize their content.

The original blue check system existed to solve the problem of people impersonating brands. celebrities and major newscasters, but the marginal journalist who got certified enjoyed an unearned credibility boost over random bloggers and posters which led to a lot of animosity towards blue checks from right-wing posters. Elon tried to turn the mild status boost into a subscription service, maybe it'll work out, but now we're in a period of weird experiments where it seems to have mostly damaged the average user experience while benefitting opportunistic engagement-baiters.

Right but despite it being added for that reason, it became a tool that allowed twitter to privilege certain people while claiming that they were largely impartial.

They attached benefits to verified users that gave those users a substantive advantage in the twitter agora over other users. Then they preferentially gave verification to users with the preferred left leaning (or at least non-challenging) politics, thereby amplifying the voices of cultural figures on the left over everyone else.

They used verification to launder this advantage and cover the political preference it represented. They could defend giving advantages on their platform to some people and not others by saying "well that person needs verification and that other person doesn't" or just "we're not sure if that person needs verification, but it's in the pipeline to be considered". The requirement for verifications were opaque and allowed them to pick and choose at will who got these advantages and refuse to give any explanation for who got them.

If the purpose of verification was just to prevent impersonation then the rules could have been made explicit. However that would mean that a lot of people who are outside the overton window - but not so outside the window as to be deemed bannable - would get verification, which twitter didn't want.

Which singular social or nature-oriented experiences filled you with the greatest enthusiasm and rejuvenation? I have noticed many people in my life pick “music festival”.

Fishing. I haven't been in years, I desperately yearn for it.

Social: HEMA events. The rejuvenation lasts until all the novel diseases handed out there catch up with me.

Nature: Being outside on a baking hot summer day when everyone else is hiding indoors, and having the whole world and that giant blue sky to myself.

Novel diseases like contact steel poisoning?

Well, no, more like all the viral infections you can get by spending a day or three training, sparring, grappling and dining together with people from all over the continent.

Go to a park or trail that is a very easy walk and has few people. Turn your phone off. Don't bring anything you have to carry, like a bag or water bottle. Try to notice as much as you can about your surroundings. What color are the leaves? Is the terrain sloping? What's swimming under the surface of that pond? What sounds can you hear? How does the air smell?

I personally prefer walking along ridges or along the edge of some body of water. There are also some small valleys near where I live that feel pleasantly insulated.

When you get to quite, isolated spot, take a short rest and soak it all in. I like to say a few prayers of gratitude at this point.

Mash both together.

Multi-day arduous hike with friends who you would call closest or just one circle outside of that. I would recommend all the same sex, but I don't think that's a hard and fast rule for everyone. Get fucking broken together (not literally, safety first, I just mean hours of hard hiking). Experience what hours of shared silence is like. Notice how your emotions start influencing one another. You know you're doing well when you start knowing when each other need to eat or shit.

Mentally multiply this by 1000. That's Men in Combat.

A marathon weekend of love making with an interesting and athletic partner (or partners). Ideally in a small place in a city neither of us live in. The kind of 48 hours where you fuck a dozen times, talk about life and love and politics and books you read, where you spend all day drinking wine or smoking weed, and wander out for food or coffee when we need a break. The kind of weekend where your eyes are closed as often as they're open between sleeping and kissing. I normally walk out of that kind of weekend feeling like nothing can touch me, the normal slings and arrows of quotidian life are met with a shrug and a satisfied smirk. What do I care what this mook thinks of me, he has no idea what I was getting up to.

Watering my grass seed every day and seeing it germinate. Newly sprouted grass is a particular shade of green (joyful green?) that lifts my spirits.

I find music festivals to be quite draining. I don’t enjoy the fact that my ears are left feeling numb by the end of the session.

My go to choice would definitely larger events like a ball. Historically those are the times where I can clearly recall enthusiasm, and a sort of mental reset.

The beach is more of as a stress reliever than a rejuvenator.

If your ears feeling numb you should start using ear protection. It will get only worse and eventually it will start quickly hurting. Ask me how I know..

Music fest is a good choice.

Sand and salt water.

Morning sun on fresh powder.

  • A hike that was on the edge of my abilities, needed meticulous planning, and was executed to perfection. (for me : Kathadin Knife's edge, Trans Catalina)

  • Seamlessly executed potlucks where all your different friends groups come together and mingle. I have almost cried in some of these moments from the feeling of belonging.

On a warm, sunny day, sitting in the shade by the river at a beer garden in a local park. With friends, enjoying the ready and relaxed conversation and people/dog watching. Or alone, listening to the burble of both water and conversation, reading something light and watching the river roll by. Two liters of fine German helles is good for a few hours of Gemütlichkeit.

Breaking through enough of a person's emotional knots to break them out of a social local optima.

Getting someone to make up with someone that they falsely thought hated them...

Getting someone to confess their love to someone they thought would reject them but is totally crushing on them...

That sort of thing.

Nature: long full day hikes ideally with an exposed scramble at the end. I dont mean to get all mystical blah blah "just you and the rock". But it's focusing. You can't think about anything else when your life depends on your not screwing it up, even if it's easy. There's no room for anything else. Type 1 fun and type 2 fun.

The Total solar eclipse in 2017 was absolutely worth it to me and I have plans for the 2024 one. If you're actually under the center of it you get a sunset effect in every direction, the birds go crazy, and the temperature suddenly drops. The whole thing feels like a rare moment of awe at the natural world that ends quickly enough that you never get a sort of hedonic treadmill effect where you get used to it and it loses its magic. It's not something I'd fly across the country for, but if you're an hour or two from the path of the 2024 total eclipse I highly recommend it.

Yeah not to mention the beauty of the inverted sun, which to me had a kind of deep archetypal quality that I feel like is pretty rare for natural phenomena. Highly recommend.

Other than church, I enjoy solitary walks in nature. I've recently moved to England, so I've started exploring the historical churches, bookshops and museums. There are few things I've enjoyed more than these ambles. But I'm now realizing how nice they would be to share with someone. I've wanted to date before but not quite like this. I'd venture a guess that most holidays are made more pleasurable by having partner beside you. There's a season for perfect solitude, but having a spouse would preserve the pleasures of solitude while adding the joys of friendship. I've decided it's a good thing to want.

Sitting around in the park with my friends in the summer. My city doesn't get a lot of sun, so when it is nice the whole city comes out and it's easy to find people I know there. I can spend a whole day doing nothing but socialising and it doesn't even feel slightly wasted.

A vacation in Thailand. Was significantly less depressed and stressed out by the time I was done, though sadly it never lasts.

That sounds lovely.

Social: I went to a "Cato University Seminar" in highschool. I didn't really have many libertarians around me at the time. It was like first discovering I had people out there that were like me. The discussions were amazing. There was drinking, but I was fine to control myself. And there was hanging out in the hot tub.

Nature-oriented: Maybe one of my beach trips with family? or the recent mountain biking trip? Maybe a ski trip. Idk I feel like a good nature rejuvenation happens more often, but they aren't as intense.

I am playing Starship Troopers: Extermination, I bought it just yesterday. Overall impression: Very fun.

Buy it now while multiplayer servers are hot. It is a 16 player PvE game. You land in a dropship, complete some objectives, collect some ore, build a base, survive some waves of bugs, and then you scramble back to a dropship to escape as bugs overwhelm your base. If everyone makes it out alive you get some nice point bonuses. There is point collecting and gear unlocking between rounds using the points you made during the round. Pretty standard multiplayer FPS unlock mechanics these days. The moments when I hit some lag wasn't as bad as other multiplayer games. It was less likely to lead to a frustrating death against another human player. Usually I just waste a few bullets shooting at an already dead bug if there was lag. The base defense part is intense, and there is maybe too much camera shake from all the explosions going off. Visually the game looks pretty cool, not the most up to date, but blowing up bugs causes a nice green cloud of blood, and dead bugs look riddled with bullets.

I wish I had friends to play video games with. Sadly most of my current friends want to hang out in real life and do things like fire actual guns, drink nice whiskeys, and hangout to talk about local issues. If anyone wants to get online and try it out with me that would be awesome. I have a new headset coming via Amazon in a day or two. PM me for my steam ID.

The Starship Troopers game is a derivative of another game called Squad that I play quite a bit, and likely inspired by a popular mod for the same.

I play Squad, Arma and Warhammer 3 when it comes to multiplayer titles, but I thing ping would be a pretty big issue when it came to multiplayer across continents. Although Arma and Squad aren't the most latency sensitive games by far.

I was playing with someone with Chinese characters in their name, and maybe some Australians. So it might still work. I'll gift you the game if you are willing to try it out

I can promise to at least try it out! Feel free to DM me with your steam name and I'll add you

What are your PC’s specs?

Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-10700K CPU @ 3.80GHz

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070

64 GB Ram

Do they have Blur in the sound track? My inner 15 year old might finally live the dream.

I don't think they have any of the original music, but it's all a good homage to my untrained ear.

Music Thread?

Been on an old-timey country kick lately, including new songs that sound old and actually old. Though I'm prone to putting on stuff like The Dragonfather and The Stupendium too, depending on the mood.

What's everyone here been listening to?

I also had a question about trying to track down an old (possibly 1950s or 60s?) country song. The overall "sound" is similar to Crockett's Man from Waco, slightly higher tempo. There's a sort of... almost valley girl uptilt at the end of the lines of the song I'm thinking of. The husband is traveling, meets a woman at the hotel bar, never makes it home to his wife. Of course, this being country music, infidelity isn't enough to narrow it down for me or I haven't stumbled onto the right search terms. I think the new woman's name might've been slightly Spanish (Maria?), and Amarillo might've played a role somewhere in the lyrics, but that might be bleeding over from other songs. It is not Is this the way to Amarillo but that bizarre Comic Relief video was worth sharing anyways.

The weird jazz-electronic group Knower is teasing a new Album. Louis Cole is an insane drummer with a unique sound and style which I particularly love.

I'm also on an opera binge for music reasons. Cosi Fan Tutte is one of my perennial favorites but getting myself interred into italian operas is always helpful.

That Stupendium guy is quite excellent, thanks for that!

Lematrie - Closer is my jam of the moment. The video cracks me up as well: who among us has not felt this way?

Been on a Mastodon kick lately. Pretty consistently great 00s metal band, their 4 records based on the elements are quite diverse. Good blend of sludge, thrash and prog metal. Leviathan, the water record, is an interesting concept album about Moby Dick.

For another Moby Dick concept album, try The Call of the Wretched Sea. It’s more funeral or doom than anything like thrash.

I've been enjoying the work of Farya Faraji. A lot of Mediterranean and Balkan historical folk pieces, mixed with some other stuff.

Currently listening to the Charley Crockett album you posted and am liking some of this, especially Clown. If you like folk, I'd recommend you have a listen to Sufjan Stevens' Carrie and Lowell, which is a masterpiece of songwriting and one of the more depressing albums I've listened to.

I've been listening to a lot of electronic music recently. For a link to some of it, I posted a list of the electronic albums I've been enjoying not too long ago, and have been updating it as I go along for future reference in these music threads (at the time of this post, it stands at 35 entries). It is basically the antithesis of the music you've posted. I’ve bolded the albums that I think might confuse and/or outright annoy people, which makes up 20 of the 35 albums (and some of which are among my favourite albums of all time, with Exai in particular being my favourite album of any genre). You can take the bolding either as a warning or a challenge.

I've had a soft spot for Monster Magnet's Powertrip album lately.

It's not high art. Honestly the guy isn't even that good of a singer. But the lyrics are audacious and spacy, and I kind of love it. I also have a special place in my heart for rock acts that might be C-list at best, but perform with all the gusto and swagger of an S-Tier act. Especially when they just keep going decade after decade. Like this one Iced Earth album I used to listen to where they are trying to do some crowd work, and I swear only a single guy is yelling back.

Ooh, flashbacks from 20 years ago! I ran into Monster Magnet’s Dopes to Infinity album and liked it enough to buy it (remember when people used to actually buy physical albums?). I even saw them live when they made it to Finland two years later although that gig wasn’t particularly memorable (probably not helped by the fact I spent the entire festival suffering from sinusitis). Still, good times when I was young and naive enough to be affected by just one or two songs from an artist I’d never heard before.

To those using ChatGPT to brainstorm, what kind of prompt engineering techniques have you found to be useful?

Something I've been doing is asking chatgpt for a list of responses, and then basically running high order functions on those lists. So you ask for a list of X, and then say for each item do Y, or combine all items into Z. This just lets you look at more than one idea at once, with some turning out better than others, and I think it also results in more creative answers, since you're not just getting the most common idea, but ideas 1 through 5 or 10 that are all going through these transformations. Then you can ask it to combine or shift ideas into each other for more possible creativity.

I haven't had much luck at making gpt-4 come up with genuinely novel ideas for the fields I'm interesting in (Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Reinforcement Learning), the most it can do is serve as a sort of litterature review, where I describe an idea I have, ask it if it exists, and if it does to link me the papers. Sometimes it hallucinates papers that don't exist in this way because it thinks that generating positive answers is more useful than negative ones, but I've gotten real value out of this procedure a few times, where it spit out fairly obscure results that I would've never found on my own.

aah I don't know, I've had a few obscure papers from 2013 and 2014 come up that basically implemented aspects of a few of my projects. And at one point it pointed out that what I thought was a shiny new idea was in fact called "Optimal Importance Sampling", and linked me a paper from 1991 that explained it. So it's still pretty useful unless you're doing stuff that is basically the next obvious thing to try conditional on current research, and as such are worried about people scooping you.

I've had a lot of luck asking for search terms rather than papers for literature review.

I have a feeling that lit review is going to be a super useful place for chatgpt plugins

I designed a proper cover for my ongoing web serial, Ex Nihilo, Nihil Supernum using a combination of AI image generation on-and-offline, Photoshop and Canva!

Certainly looks a lot better than I could have ever hoped to make in the past without hiring someone, especially since I peaked at drawing stick figures and isometric houses, Graphic Design Is My Passion, and I know just enough Photoshop to hang myself with haha.

What do you guys think? All I'm hoping for is to standout compared to the frankly amateurish art that most Royal Road writers commission, which isn't that high a bar to meet.

It's not bad, but could be better. Since you're asking for critique:

  • The title font seems like an odd choice. a quick search of sci-fi book covers shows a lot of examples of sans-serif, generally trending toward punctuated angularity. While one can always buck the trend, it's good to do so for a solid reason. The sort of psuedo-cursive you've got reminds me of a neon sign or something, which seems a weird choice for a hard sci-fi story.

  • The title positioning is likewise odd. tilted at an angle, cutting over the window frame, and the second line doesn't contrast well with the lower edge of the window frame. people do the boring stuff because it works.

  • Colors are not great. Overall, the colors come out as almost black and white, due to the floor, walls, rockets and the kid. The colors you do have are soft, sorta pastel, and a bit muddy. This combines with the title white and green to make the color scheme just sorta messy.

  • the lighting is wonky. the walls are brightly lit, the floor seems to be too, but the kid is very dark. The light he does get isn't very directional, so it's not even a silhouette or a rim-light, so it looks rather broken.

  • the composition is very stable, very static, all straight up-and-down lines, no real action or motion. the window frame and the way it's presented flat to the camera, the kid's posture, and the rockets all contribute to this. compare:

angle of the clouds, road, and the rockets in this shot

perspective on the smoke and clouds implying motion here

same here, with the smoke and buildings

...Are you generating the background, and then photoshopping the foreground? If so, there's some simple photoshop tricks that can get you better results. Any details you can give on your process?

Definitely going to give the story a try, looks pretty interesting!

The image is pretty much entirely AI generated, any PS work was limited to fixing some obvious congenital deformities in the silhouetted kid, and removing annoying watermarks.

Are those images AI generated themselves? I could do with a better prompt, this is one I thought up waaay back when SD was in alpha, and eventually found a variant that worked for the purposes I was going for.

As for the overall style, I wanted it to be idiosyncratic, something that stood out in a field of works that think throwing a spaceship in front of a nebula is good enough!

I appreciate the comments on the typography, at the moment I'm locked into the current version, but it's something to consider for the future!

Are those images AI generated themselves? I could do with a better prompt, this is one I thought up waaay back when SD was in alpha, and eventually found a variant that worked for the purposes I was going for.

I got the images by searching Pinterest for "rocket launch". Have you tried the generate-from-sketch options? Seems like it'd be easier to composite together an image, and then have the AI chew it over to unify the style... I really need to play with SD more.

I've dabbled with Controlnet and img2img, but it can be a PITA at times.

Bing has one benefit of having a better encoder, it understands subtle nuance in prompts and semantics better, though you tradeoff stylistic flexibility.

Cool story, I'll start reading it.

I've been struggling getting together some art for my still unborn webnovel. Turns out my stablediffusion loves giving robots huge pauldrons, even when that's specifically what I don't want, even when I prompt against it.

AI proofreading however, that's a godsend.

Are you running it locally? Are you familiar with in painting or more advanced techniques like controlnet?

Alternatively you can try Bing Image Creator that runs on the latest version of DALLE, it's quite good, and understands context much better than SD.

Well, you've given me the impulse to make it happen. I bought an expensive GPU for AI and I suppose I should get my money's worth.

I like how sometimes SD just throws up a real gem of its own accord without any manipulation but spontaneity isn't cutting it.

If you want very specific and controllable results, by all means use controlnet. You can inherit silhouettes and poses from reference images, such as a humanoid silhouette that you can make into a robot without the issue of pauldrons.

That, or deleting the offending section and inpainting over and over again till it's fixed.

While SD isn't the most advanced model by itself, it's the extensions that let it put up a fight against Midjourney and the like!

Got it working now. It's fascinating how much the open source community can do, yet the heavyweights can just overwhelm it with computational firepower. Google's high-parameter models could produce readable text on demand in photorealistic images before Stable Diffusion even existed.

We're also seeing advanced tooling start to come out.

Personally, there's so much else to work on that I'm waiting on Drag your GAN models to seriously get into the art side of things. (Those should be able to let you edit away those pesky pauldrons with ease)

Drag your GAN really is going viral. I saw it on Kruel's newsletter first, then 4chan (and not even /g/), now here. All in a single day. Guess that's the speed of progress these days.

I'm barely half into the first chapter, but man, I already fucking love this! I can sense that this story is going to scratch an ungodly number of literary itches for me...

Thank you! In fact, when I began the story, it was with the goal of creating the kind of fiction that I desperately craved but couldn't get anywhere.

Fuck it, I'll write my own book, with blackjack and hookers!

I know zero theory behind grafic design, but looks pretty cool. I'd definitely skim it if I saw it in a book store.

Glad to hear it! It just needs to catch eyeballs, I'm counting on the prose to keep 'em.

If you pull the lever, the trolley rolls over a nurse named Karen who is accused of stealing five bicycles. If you do nothing, five pregnant black men die. Go.

  • -11

I'm not going to pass up the chance to kill 10 people, so doing nothing it is.

I chuckled, for what it's worth.

I'm glad :)

Yeah, this is the Friday Fun Thread, not the make-jokes-about-current-hot-CW-topic thread.

Too culture-warry for this thread

So where am I allowed to make a joke?


Will read ramayana and likely watch the latest fast and furious movie titled fast x. It is low brow and I did not like the last two at all so hope this one is not another vin diesel fest.

Short rant - Vin Diesel looks old, the dude is not what you would want in an action hero, not because of the bad acting but he also does not look the part at all. The movies themselves have gone from being about stealing dvds and him being a normal man to some sort of brainless avengers ripoff where literally everything revolves around vin. Keanu is another old guy who is not a good actor but at least the John Wick movies are nice, they have good set pieces and are not dumbed down to appeal to 3rd graders.

I also tried out chilli oil ramen, it is an alright thing, just needs a decent packet of ramen without much sugar or coloring or you may risk burning it or making it taste rancid. My sabbatical begins next week so I will spend my last weekend free just reading the glorious ramayana and contemplating on life. Life is good, also cookies and cream is a great ice cream flavor I just found out about.

Think that's just a general Hollywood problem. We want our actors to look youthful, but also be famous and well established. By the time they reach that point in their careers, they're pushing the limits of what their natural genetics plus plastic surgery plus vfx can hold. I cannot confirm or deny that Vin Diesel gets certain parts of his face edited in post.

We want our actors to look youthful,

But do we? I mean, John Wick is a retired hitman, how youthful can you be when you've already retired? I imagine hitman retirement program starts early that standard Social Security retirement age, but still. He's also "the one you send to kill a Boogieman" - you can't get this kind of reputation when you're in your 20s, and you can't get a collection of friends (most of them in high places and respective ages) unless you led a long life establishing these relationships. Youthful Joh Wick would not make absolutely any sense. As an action hero, we want him to be agile, powerful, unstoppable - but I don't think youthful fits the mold.

In general, the trope of "flawed hero" that is being used in action movies a lot, pretty much precludes the action hero from being too youthful. He must have some well-developed flaws, that make him relatable - all-powerful flawless young Greek god is just not going to get sympathy. He must have some established position to show how good he is - but then he'd lose this position in the middle of the movie due to the actions of his enemy, and to make it a true loss, it has to be something better than a night shift manager in McDonalds. He should have some friends and resources that he would rely on to come back and prepare to the ultimate showdown. He should have some developed relationships, romantic and platonic. He should have some strongly held principles, which are going to be tested. And so on, and so forth.

(And, of course, as you correctly mentioned, you want the actor's face to be recognized by everyone when you put it on the poster)

I mean, this is not the only action movie formula that's in use, and obviously the young adult movies would have to use a different one usually, but it is a very frequently used one. So I think saying we always want the actors to look youthful is not exactly correct. We want them to not explicitly old (unless the role demands it), but I don't think it's the same thing.

Nobody breaks the mold here a bit by making you think "who is this schlub?" before the plot really kicks off. And I think it's better for it — you then find that he has the friends in high places, and the strongly-held principles, etc.

I liked that one. Of course, given that they had Odenkirk, it was expected. Again, Odenkirk being almost 60 (and to be honest, he didn't look that "youthful" way before that either) does not detract from the fun.

This is a common practise though. Allegedly Tom Cruise uses some cg help to make himself look younger.

Like most things in life, the worst offenders here inclides some of my countrymen, a famous Hindi actor Salman Khan literally had CGI abs in a movie lol.

I always defend the Fast and Furious movies. To me they're big dumb movies but not bad ones. Well, okay: not not-entertaining ones.

Yes, all of the set pieces are dumb. But they're well-crafted. It seems like a low-bar but in the age of CGI dreck I can actually follow along with the ludicrous things they're doing

You're right about Diesel though; success has ossified him. It's not just his now-bloated, older look, which I can get past, but the character he plays has nothing to him besides being a taciturn hero yet he's supposed to anchor the films.

Not sure why he's degenerated below even speaking in complete sentences (Keanu has a similar thing with John Wick, but he was always laconic). He's actually not a bad actor and he must have a ton of creative control at this point (given how he ran off The Rock who used his star power to run wild in DC)

Up until the Covid Years, I'd gone my whole life without seeing a Fast and Furious movie. Then I caught Covid, and while I was lying on the couch helpless and incapacitated, my wife subjected me to the entire series in sequence, all... however many movies there were, ending with the Rock spinoff.

Much of the experience is mercifully vague, a mishmash of family and fiery explosions and contemplations on how many variations on the title are linguistically possible, but I do recall ranting that these people really, really need to understand that some problems are car problems, and some problems are gun problems, and they really, really should stop trying to solve the latter with the former...

For me F&F always was "how could you use the cars in the most ridiculous way", and if you look for anything to make sense there, you took a wrong turn way, way earlier.

To be honest a lot of the earlier fast and the furious movies had a decent cultural significance to it (at least during the time) it helps to remind ourselves that the timelines collided with MTVs pimp my ride and other shows where they did atrocious modifications to the cars.

The bitter taste is left from the question that when the hell did robbing bank vaults and jumping cars across buildings become any part of a cultural significance? I’m not saying that movies have to be relevant to the culture, and in the movie world the natural transition and exponential growth of the action could only be set up by such exaggerated plots. But the appeal of Fast and the Furious was that it could be semi realistic to have car meet up’s or chases (ignoring the potential of causing a mini genocide trying that in Tokyo)

I’d say an interesting thought experiment would’ve been to try to think of a plot alternative which still had cultural significance. One on the top of my head would be the crew stealing car shipments trying to find some special car plotted with some family/crime drama.

Diesel can actually act, Keanu has always been a very laconic guy with not a lot of acting chops but at least the movies he appears in are good, he is not fat or out of shape and has a better screen presence than vin.

Right, it’s not like an older guy can’t make an action movie work. Look at Looper. They just have to lean into it more

I think Nobody is a good example. Odenkirk is what, 60?

they cannot after a point, taken is a good example of that. The amount of jump cuts and stuff just looks fake after a while.

The jump cuts are covering bad writing, good writing wouldn't involve an old person jumping a fence. The Death Wish series for example.

For those that haven't seen it: Liam Neeson jumping a fence.