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Small-Scale Question Sunday for September 17, 2023

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

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

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

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Assuming that this woman is telling the truth, why hasn't she been arrested? It appears that she's confessed to stealing items from stores and reselling them at a lower price to make money.

How can I do exact search on this website? if I try to enclose it in quotation marks, like what used to work on google, it doesn't actually give the right results.

How do I send a message to the mods? I have a question and I don't know how/where to ask.

Namely, my post is not visible when I am logged out and it says "deleted by user", which is misleading statement. What is going on?

Also, the New post guide in the sidebar says "A submission statement is highly appreciated", but I have no idea how/where to send this submission statement.

I think front-page submissions need to be manually approved by mods, or perhaps it needed manual approval because you're a new account. It's showing up now.

Submission statements are for link posts. You don't need one for something you wrote yourself. You would just put something which explains what the link is in the text field.


Any e-drama people willing to give me a rundown on the last few years of Shoe0nhead? Last time I checked in, she was collaborating with Vaush and trying to position herself as a BreadTuber. Now I heard she's getting married to a right-winger and not associated with socialism anymore?

I would describe her as economically socialist, socially conservative/centrist. Which ought to be broadly coherent as positions despite being rare in practice. She's all in on Bernie Sanders, redistributive policies, and taxing and regulating the crap out of corporations and rich people. None of which demands social justice censorship, feminism, or collectivization of people into little intersecting boxes and then blaming straight white men for all of society's ills.

How she feels about Nazi punching is the litmus test of whether she's actually against censorship. I tend to assume people who are friendly with Vaush are on board with that. Except Charlie Kirk, who's just an idiot.

horseshoe theory keeps proving itself . these online left-wing socialists are only a stone throw away from right-wing socialism, and vice versa

I understand woke progressives calling her a right-winger, because that's what they do to anyone... what are your reasons for doing so?

She's still a socialist, and pushes it every once in a while. She's still somewhat friendly with Vaush from what I understand, but all the Breadtubers have to keep their friendship with her on the downlow, because she's an evil Nazi and being friends with her means you're a Nazi.

She's basically an anti-woke lefty with Catholic characteristics.

LOL. I thought Contrapoints and Vaush had deemed her okay and she'd been reformed. Interesting to hear that some won't forgive.

About four years ago I read an article which talked about a vehicle used in some countries in the Third World (possibly India?) in which the infrastructure for motor vehicles no longer exists, so instead they just cut off the front of a car and hitch it to a horse or donkey. The author used this vehicle as a metaphor to make a Chesterton's fence-y argument about abolishing a social convention and then later having to reinvent it in degraded form once the purpose it served becomes obvious.

I'm almost certain I found this article on the old Motte subreddit. Can anyone remember the article I'm talking about, or even just the name of this type of vehicle (a motorcar adapted to be a horse-drawn carriage)?

I also would like that article.

IIRC, the name of the practice is "Jugand", with the metaphor being "Jugand ethics"

Off by one letter! thanks a ton!

I knew it began with a J, thanks a lot.

Because his other tween girl employees(this was 1910, remember) testified that he was a creep who behaved in sexually inappropriate ways towards them and that they felt safer around Connolly. The employees of the factory all pointed the finger at frank.

Well it seems very unlikely that a 1910s Georgia judiciary would believe a black man accused of raping and murdering a white girl over a Jewish man unless the evidence swung in that direction.

Furthermore, the ADL is a very powerful organization and was founded on this particular case. The balance in terms of who is writing history (and whose history will get cited on wikipedia as the historical consensus) is rather one-sided.

This is very weak evidence - 1910s juries hardly always convicted black men, and it avoids contesting the specific reasoons modern historians believe frank was innocent

The fact that the jury (who watched hours and hours of questioning of everyone involved) convicted Frank makes me think it's pretty likely that he's guilty. I don't see how it could be "beyond any doubt" though, there just isn't any solid evidence either way.

For those of you who play video games in the same room as someone else, how do you communicate with each other over the sound of the game itself? My wife and I like to play video games together, but we haven't figured out a good solution to the sound problem. Some obvious possibilities and their downsides:

  1. We both wear headphones. The problem with this is that we would have to lower our volumes so much to hear each other past the game sounds and the headphones' partial external sound dampening.
  2. We use microphones and join a voice chat together on Discord or something. The problem with this is that we can still hear each other's voices in the physical world, so then the microphones' delay causes a double perception which is quite confusing and jarring. And even if we had sufficiently soundproof headphones (which cost money we don't really have), microphone delays are just so goddamn annoying because of the unintentional interruption of someone who started speaking a second earlier than you (likewise on Zoom meetings).
  3. We use speakers. Obviously this is a problem because we're not necessarily in the same location in the game, so each of our game's sound would bleed into each other messily and confusingly.

I've never had this problem either. Maybe airpod style earphones that don't block external sound?

I've visited computer clubs to play games back in a day and somehow with 20-40 people sitting in a giant room all playing games I've never had the problem you describe.

Just lower volume, enable subtitles so not to miss out on dialog if you get distracted or add headphones that your partner can shout over if you're about to get dunked under t1 tower. What exactly are you playing that you have this......issue?

I imagine lowering the volume gets in the way of enjoying the sound design of the game, which isn't so important when you're playing your 1000th match of DotA or CS:S with the boys.

That is true, yet thinking about the games I played recently there were only few that I enjoyed/appreciated the sound design(they were mostly single player games, so full headphones and no distractions, or something like 2018 GoW with one person playing and other just along for the ride on a couch).

Looking back at this year with Remnant 2, Diablo 4, BG3 coop games - for me audio is not even top 20 reason why I played them...

Bone conduction headphones?

Wear one earbud each?

2 is the best option, you'll notice that everyone from amateur streamers to professional e-sports teams use it even when sitting right next to each other. The same is true for any team doing anything remotely high performance even if everyone is sitting in the same room- ie NASA mission control, military command centers, Formula 1 race teams, etc.

We use microphones and join a voice chat together on Discord or something. The problem with this is that we can still hear each other's voices in the physical world, so then the microphones' delay causes a double perception which is quite confusing and jarring.

You have a latency issue. The problem is not your microphones, or even likely your PCs, but Discord, which is notorious for (among many other things) terrible voice chat latency. Try Teamspeak or Mumble, which are specifically designed to be low-latency.

Thanks, we'll give it a try! The last time we did that was before my wife and I married and moved in together, so perhaps the latency on a LAN with a proper voice chat program will be negligible enough.

Yep, this is the right call for sure. Mumble is easy to set up and run locally, and there should be basically zero latency on a LAN.

Use on-ear headphones with open-cell foam padding. These do not dampen external sounds much. For example, the Koss CS100 is an inexpensive headset of this type. I use these for work because I can hear what other people on my team are saying even when I'm on a call, and because I can hear myself talking which prevents speaking too loudly without sidetone.

Edit: The JLab wireless retro headphones are also cheap and feature very little sound isolation, if you don't need microphones.

Is learning new languages actually worth it for adults?

I have met people who have lived in a country for years, are intelligent and have studied hard. Yet they are far from a native speaker. Those who haven't spoken their new language for years seem to lose it. Is picking up French/German/Spanish worth it? It seems like an enormous investment to develop worse language skills than the average native 12-year-old. Even when it comes to enjoying the culture in the native language, I am not even sure it would be the case. A person who learned latin and read Caesar's memoirs in the original latin would probably get less out of it due to their lacking latin than reading a translated copy.

I studied a language for 6 years in school. Along with everyone I know who hasn't studied their extra language extensively post school I can barely write a paragraph in it. Was it a giant waste of time to have Spanish or French an hour a week for 6 years when the results are lacking?

If learning a language meant learning it to the point of fluency or near native ability, I could see the point. However, most learners seem to spend countless hours learning without being able to have a conversation that doesn't require effort from both parties.

I'll use French as an example because I started learning it a few years ago in my 20s and currently speak pretty good French.

The time you spend learning a language doesn't have to be a pure sunk cost. You can go to language learning meetups where you'll make friends and have fun socializing in French. You can find girls on dating apps who speak French and practice with them as a way to flirt and build a rapport. You can watch/listen to stuff in French and learn about other topics as you learn French. You can meet lots of interesting people on platforms like iTalki. There are many ways to practice besides just grinding Duolingo.

I don't think it's worth it. You already know the most common global language, and quite a few people in every country speaks it. You'll gain the ability to talk to tens of millions more French people - how valuable is this, when there are a billion english speakers you could talk to now but don't? Language learning is more like a hobby than anything else.

Also, we have to be under a decade out, from a fully functional babelfish live audio translation tool, which would obviate most of the practical utility. All of the pieces are there. I think current implementations still have significant latency problems, but latency is something a few more generations of chips and product development solve.

I'd say there's a second question implicit in your first. Is learning a language worth it given the time investment and poor results, and why are languages taught so poorly that even a great time investment produces such poor results?

It really shouldn't take 6 years of high school plus 4 of college to learn a Latin/Germanic language. I've known people who did it in a year through self-study while working. The 'extensive study post school' can be done without having covered it in school in the first place, and at that point it's not so extensive.

I guess you're really asking two questions there, is it possible and, if possible, is it worth it?

The answer to the first question is absolutely yes in my view. It is possible for adults to acquire (not learn) a language to a native level. The problem is that language education is fundamentally broken. You cannot 'learn' a language by studying the linguistics of the language, you have to just expose yourself to the language and let your subconscious do the rest. I've been acquiring Spanish through comprehensible input for a few months now, and my understanding has just skyrocketed. I've found myself dreaming in Spanish, I've had random phrases pop into my head. It's pretty incredible to experience, and it is genuinely fun to feel this kind of improvement. It's like noob gains at the gym.

But you do need to put in the hours. The website I'm using estimates that it takes around 1,500 hours of comprehensible input for an English-speaker to reach native level fluency. Half that for someone who speaks a Romance language, double it for a non-European language like Japanese. It's possible to do it with one hour a day, but it'll take years. The good thing is, the further along the process you are, the easier it is to get input. Once you're at a level where you can read Harry Potter or watch How I Met Your Mother in your target language and mostly understand it, you can just replace your English media consumption with the target language.

Is it worth it though?

For me it is, I want to be truly bilingual and I want to give my kids a second language too. I want to be able to speak to the Spanish people I know in their mother tongue. I want to be able to visit Spain or Latin America and communicate effortlessly with the locals. I want to gain the cognitive benefits of bilingualism (if they do exist). Whether it's worth it for you depends on what you're looking to get out of it.

Unless you're in a country where the vast majority don't speak English, it probably isn't worth it.

And that's leaving aside that we're right on the cusp of ubiquitous, seamless real-time translation for pretty much any language, so the marginal benefit of learning another better than a decent ML model can explain it to you is going to be slim if existant at all. The technology exists, as do proof of concepts, there simply isn't a convenient packaging for it. You still get most of the way with Google translate on a phone. But something like GPT-4 can explain the nuances that a more basic, albeit adequate, translating software can miss, so you won't even lose out on the cultural nuances.

There is no plausible real-time translation solution that (in real life; deepfakes are obviously possible on Zoom) makes your mouth make the words as they are spoken. So digital translation is always going to be lower status than learning the language yourself. That said, I agree that it’s becoming less and less necessary.

I agree, I can't imagine any situation where somebody would actually socialise or do any significant work using machine translation. Google Translate (and whatever comes next) can be helpful for translating emails or websites, and for media we already have dubs and subtitles. But most people who learn a language do so to use their new language in the same way they use their mother tongue, to talk to people.

I think it's almost never worth it to learn a language as an adult just for fun or in order to consume media. That said, I have met several people who learned a foreign language as adults to a native-like proficiency (by my own judgement as a native speaker of that language). All of them use that language extensively in the course of their work; two of them are professors teaching either the language or a subject that requires reading difficult primary sources in the language at well-known universities. This is a non-indo-european language that's supposed to be hard for English speakers to learn, so I imagine it's even easier to find examples of people who have achieved this level of skill in the examples you named (French/German/Spanish).

My prior is that it's not really possible to learn a language well in the one-hour/day format in which foreign languages are taught in most secondary schools and language-specific supplementary schooling programs, no matter how many years you spend on it.

I see people reading literature and non-fiction for abstract knowledge doing the same thing

Some people (I’d wager many here) enjoy the experience of exercising curiosity, which is the main pleasure in reading non-fiction. In literature it’s hard to see what abstract knowledge is the goal, it’s mostly just enjoyment of storytelling, which again is pretty age old.

So, what are you reading?

Still on Paradise Lost. In my opinion, all epic poetry should be printed as prose. It reads well reformatted. So far it's hard to think of it as a cautionary tale, though this dubious crowd of lost gods do not inspire full confidence.

Who overcomes by force, hath overcome but half his foe.

Paper I'm reading: The follow-up paper from Quandt et al., Dark participation: Conception, reception, and extensions.

I bought my girlfriend The Secret History a few months ago, and she enjoyed it so much I thought I'd read it again, having not read it since I was a teenager. If anything it's even better than I remember, the day I started reading it I was 80 pages deep by the end of the day. Tense, atmospheric and erudite, with impossibly vivid characters.

I'm reading The Atrocity Archives on @self_made_human's recommendation. It's pretty great, lots of good ideas. It tries a little too hard to be funny sometimes, the main character quite frequently blacks out and misses all the action, and the plot is a bit scattered, but it's a very enjoyable read. The writing style feels SO SIMILAR to @self_made_human's own--is there a whole genre of books like this, do you just really like these ones, or am I imagining things?

The writing style feels SO SIMILAR to @self_made_human's own--is there a whole genre of books like this

Can you link something they published?

Ex Nihilo, Nihil Supernum over on Royal Road:

Dr. Adat Sen has been having a bad week.

Not only was his teleporter wife drafted to Alpha Centauri to fight a K2 offshoot of a K3 civilization, his promised pay raise hasn't come through, and it turns out that someone has it out for him to the extent of trying to kill him with a Basilisk hack. Who would have thought that being a a cyborg psychiatrist for the UN would be this stressful?

Then there's the matter of publish or perish, handling nasty cognitohazards on a daily basis, convincing suicidally depressed superhumans not to take everyone else with them, and living under the shadow of hostile advanced aliens building a Nicoll-Dyson laser in the solar system next door. Oh, and the one Superhuman AGI that humanity produced might be out to get them.

Welcome to the world of ENNS, where superheroes have actual jobs and don't run around in costumes fighting muggers, humanity faces existential threats around every corner, and Adat has the bad luck of finding himself fighting threats way out of his pay grade.

It's probably my best work, and I'm about to resume posting after a few months of hiatus (during which I wrote a Xianxia novel of all things).

That's high praise, since Stross is a great author, and I consider my best efforts only a pale imitation at best.

Truth be told, there are quite a few similarities between my work and his. There's a certain way of approaching massive, epoch-altering events from a realistic, mundane perspective, and both our protagonists are bureaucrats who kick ass, while hardly being the top dogs in their relative spheres. There's a strong dollop of black humor, hard scifi intermeshing with insanity, and then figuring out how that plays out. Strauss's recent works are significantly restrained in exploring the absolute bonkers shit that would happen without writer fiat, but I can hardly hold it against him when he wrote Accelerando, a great example of how shit goes weird during a singularity.

I don't know how much to chalk up to him outright inspiring me, versus me liking his works and thus reproducing similar patterns when I write, because I explicitly write the kind of books I want to read.

Sadly there's no real genre of similar works to read, that I'm aware of, because I'd be reading more of them instead of exhausting the well and being forced to write one myself!

I'm reading the webnovel A Practical Guide to Evil on @official_techsupport's recommendation.

The story is good, characters are okay, but god the prose and spelling and grammar are fucking awful. It's honestly embarrassing even for webnovel standards.

That being said I've been doing a lot of heavy reading recently so a fluff piece or two will do me good. But I'm teetering on the edge of stopping because the author is just so bad at prose. If you write a webnovel, PLEASE at least run it through an LLM to fix basic spelling and tense errors. I'm begging you.

I'm reading the webnovel A Practical Guide to Evil on @official_techsupport's recommendation.

For the record while I can recommend several webnovels, I've never read this one and also have a very low tolerance for badly written stuff.

Heh that's fair. I'm actually really enjoying it now even though it's still littered with errors. At least the pub I got is.

Didn't mean to ruin your reputation ;)

I might have recommended (or would have recommended) "The Rise and Fall of the Dark Lord Sassaflash". It has the Mule protagonist character who talks like Snakes. Also it turns out that MLP canonically has a pony with SS lightnings as her ponymark or whatever it's called. Also it's pretty good.

FWIW I recall it getting better as it goes on. The first few hundred pages are pretty painful in more ways than one--everything up until Catherine is done with military training was pretty boring IIRC and then it really improves.

Which chapter it is? I am willing to start in the middle, I am not willing to slog through hundreds low quality pages.

It's been too long for me to know for sure. The military training ends with the end of book 1, so starting with book 2 might work. Unfortunately there's no hard cutoff-the story just steadily gets better, especially as the writer focuses less on the military side of things.

Robin DiAngelo's "Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm."

I was not happy with DiAngelos' (re-)definition of racism to something other than the common sense of the term in "White Fragility." Nonetheless I feel validated after having read "Nice Racism," living in a city that is boisterously progressive and supposedly free from discrimination, racism, and stereotypical thinking. I have posted previously on progressives' "presumed moral superiority [...] [blinding] this kind of person from seeing how they themselves are guilty of the very things they stare down their noses and sneer at the 'others' for," and, well, Robin DiAngelo says very much the same thing:

But because they see themselves as progressive in terms of racism, they do not see anti-racism efforts as directed at them; they “already know all this” and are not part of the problem. Thus, they may not involve themselves in anti-racist efforts, but if they do, they can be rather self-righteous as they point out racism in everyone other than themselves.

Yet it is the white progressive who can cause the most daily harm to people of color. While I did not originate the idea that white progressives can be more harmful than explicit racists—as we saw, activists such as King and Baldwin were challenging white progressives as early as the 1950s—I have certainly observed it day in and out, and I stand by this claim in my work.

On calling out racism and micro-aggression in others, and your accusations falling on deaf ears because this is obviously a progressive culture, and therefore not racist by fiat, since progressives are against racism by definition, and therefore by identifying as a progressive you are not a racist:

Another example of the racial arrogance of white progressives surfaced in a recent interview for a European newspaper. The journalist conducting the interview shared that he is multiracial. He has a circle of white friends whom he has known for decades and who “definitely” identify as progressives. Yet across all those years, he has tried repeatedly to talk to them about the racism he experiences, and they refuse to listen.

This participant explained how exhausting it was when “well-intentioned, progressive [white] people who think they are lovers of justice” consistently policed his emotional responses to racism. Many activists of color felt that the racism coming from white activists compounded and made more painful, frustrating, and debilitating the racism of white people not necessarily identified as “allies.”

Consider a study of racial activist burnout, in which educational researchers Paul Gorski and Noura Erakat noticed a pattern.10 While both white activists and activists of color experienced burnout, the reasons varied. Of particular relevance, these researchers found that 82 percent of the activists of color they interviewed identified white racial justice activists as a major source of their burnout. The activists of color “attributed their burnout to the attitudes and behaviors—the racism—of white activists” (italics in original). Yes, even white people involved in racial justice activism—the far end of the progressive spectrum—perpetrate racism.

Similarly, with analogy to religious traditions of old, I have remarked on how "performing such rituals as making the sign of the cross is enough to imbue one with divine virtue," where performing actions or chanting the usual hymns and refrains of progressive thought is entirely sufficient to turn someone into an advocate for diversity, without needing to undertake the (spiritual, even) journey of self-reflection that is actually required to modify one's own mental models and stances on racism; "just because Christ preached a message of virtue doesn't mean that Christians who purportedly follow in his footsteps actually are virtuous," and "does flying a pride flag mean that one truly is a tolerant, accepting individual?"

Activists of color were forced to expend extra energy teaching these white “allies” about racism. They had to endure pushback from white activists who refused to engage in self-examination, viewing themselves as more racially conscious than they actually were. As one study participant stated, “I got burned from so-called white liberal progressive allies who were on board until it meant that they needed to do self-reflection, until it meant that they needed to learn about themselves and this wasn’t about learning about . . . the poor black kid from the Bronx . . .”

I am pleasantly surprised, as DiAngelo is, or was in my mind, one of the figures spearheading the new progressive movement, and here she is, calling out the iniquities of that very same movement.

She opens up her third chapter with a rather poignant analogy from Anika Nailah:

Being with white progressives is like being a driving instructor and having someone who does not know how to drive but thinks that they do get in the car with you. They’re at the wheel, but because of how they see themselves, they can’t hear you, and if they do hear you, they’re not really listening. And that makes them dangerous.

This just reads to me as generically how people act. Self reflection is rare across the board. Getting all of your experiences validated and listened to is rare too. All of us go through life trying to open up to people, even those we are close to, and often being disappointed with the results. Those that get super upset by this are usually codependent and can't hold their own beliefs steadily without others validating them.

It goes to show that with the arrival of therapy culture and BLM, the white progressive is no better than they were 10 years ago. Validation only goes so far, and too much demand for it breeds codependency.

From Zvi's Elephant in the Brain Review:

Choosing the best policies is not what most politics is mostly about. Politics is mostly about being in coalitions and showing loyalty to that coalition. In many times and places, members of the political outgroup are not taken kindly to, so one needs to show loyalty to the ingroup and its political viewpoints.

That doesn’t mean politics isn’t ultimately largely about policy. These coalitions involve many actors who do care deeply about certain policies, often out of narrow self-interest but also often as genuine do-rights. The policy wonks and idealists are real, and views on issues often do shift for the right reasons, not only the wrong ones. We all understand that a politics completely about alliances would result in the rapid collapse of the republic, with devastating consequences for almost everyone.


You should do the same actions you see, because they have hidden social motives and purposes, and people will punish you for acting differently even if they don’t know why acting differently might be bad here.

This helps explain DiAngelo's observations. Everyone is mostly disincentivized from going on a journey of self-reflection because then they would uncover issues and this would conflict with their goal (which they may not even be consciously aware of) of fitting in with their political ingroup.

I also think what DiAngelo is pointing out can often be generalized as something like:

  • There is certain knowledge that you can't fully understand without having personality experienced it. Like riding a bicycle or living life with a disability.
  • It is often disadvantageous to admit that you aren't fully knowledgeable about a topic.
  • For coalition building it is also often disadvantageous to admit things are nuanced and human nature is messy.
  • In the political coalition the people designing the policy aren't always personally impacted by that specific policy.
  • The policies are designed based on a model built with missing knowledge and assumptions about what those impacted by the policy would want. The mental modeling of the policy is further complicated by the hidden agenda of the policy advocates: looking good in the eyes of the political ingroup.

Ultimately, you then end up with policy and activism that is misaligned with what those impacted by the policy really want.

What are the best alternatives to the Unity Engine?

I know, I know, the Unreal Engine exists, but it just kills my machine to run it and I can't actually afford the necessary upgrades at present.

I hear the name Godot a lot recently, but I don't actually know anything about it.

Obviously I'll be forced to do my own research and experiment eventually, but what are your quick arguments for or against any particular game engines one could use instead of Unity?

Also, in the spirit of YM denouncing his own failings: Until a year or two ago my approach to architecture was to write all my code with a solid layer of abstraction between internal logic and anything having to do with Unity, and to minimize my reliance on the engine. Then I decided that if I ever wanted to get anything done, I'd need to go all-in for Unity and just use all its features that might promise to speed me along. Now I feel right stupid for that one. Bad choice. It's going to take a lot of work to undo all that.

If you really love C#, Stride. Otherwise, Unreal or Godot.

I do, but I'm not married to it. Still, Godot claims to run C# as well - is that not true, or at least not without caveats?

Not without caveats. Godot originally ran only GodotScript or whatever the name of their homebrew DSL is, the devs added C# support because Unity was the 800-pound gorilla and most gamedevs knew C#. It's been getting better and better, but it's still not on par IIRC.

What limitations would I be looking at with C# Godot?

How does Godot compare to Stride, overall?

Godot C# is half proper .NET Core 6 (desktop games) and half Mono (mobile and web), which means you have to use the older version of Godot for those platforms.

Godot has a much better momentum at the moment and a bigger community. Stride (aka Xenko, aka Paradox) was initially developed by a much better dedicated team, but went through several iterations of funding, licensing and trademark issues and lost a lot of steam in the process.

Godot C# is half proper .NET Core 6 (desktop games) and half Mono (mobile and web), which means you have to use the older version of Godot for those platforms.

So as long as I'm just targeting Desktop, it's C# without downsides? Sounds like a decent deal to me.

Thanks for the explanations; I guess Godot it will be. Not even necessarily using C#, but I'll see.

Godot's Gscript is pretty well documented and easy to learn. You'll probably find it preferable as it's what most of the community uses. Also Godot is incredibly lightweight and older machine friendly, so you'll probably find it a very good fit.

Power and Performance are more important to me than ease of use (cue someone joking that I should be writing C instead); is GDS on par with C# or C++ in those two aspects?

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My use of these game engines boils down to scores of half-finished projects that never went anywhere, so it might be better to get advice from someone who actually finished something, but I'll leave a vote for Godot. It suffers from a drawback common to open source projects in that the interface feels a bit clunky - I'd rather set up a 3D scene in Unity than Godot, but it has a benefit, also common to open source projects, that when you grit your teeth and figure out what it can do, it's ridiculously powerful. You want a solid layer of abstraction between Godot and your project? How about shoving everything into a native c++ extension or a module with full access to the engine's core?

3D editors are the least important thing for me since I like to proc-gen everything anyways, right down to the vertices.

Godot sounds increasingly good. I wish someone would speak out against it to dampen my expectations a little.

I tried to use it some time ago and run into repeated showstopper bugs.

Ouch. Will do some research here. Thanks for the warning.

Note that it was some time ago. Maybe it got better?

I'm in need of a new laptop, any recommendations?

I use mine for officework, schoolwork, watching movies/TV, websurfing, and the occasional teleconference. I'll almost certainly wipe the OS and install Mint instead, and I don't really want to be a part of the Apple ecosystem.

HP business-line laptops such as the Elitebook typically have very good Linux compatibility, and if you're diligent you can occasionally find some screaming deals on their web store. For example, my daily driver of over a year is a 14-core i7-1280P Elitebook with 1920x1200 display, 64GB of RAM, and a 1TB NVME that was marked down on sale from almost $4000 to about $1300, and I used a 10% coupon code to further reduce it.

I think you have to start by deciding on the OS.

If you want Windows, you have a bazillion options. Windows 10 is pretty decent IMO, though I don't have much experience with 11.

If you want MacOS, then your options are obviously constrained to Apple hardware, where the choices are pretty easy. I don't think you really need to be a part of Apple's online ecosystem, even though they highly encourage it. The hardware is certainly nice, though it isn't cheap.

If you want Linux, then you probably should check carefully for good hardware compatibility before you spend money on anything, as near as I can tell, good-quality drivers are still extremely hit or miss, especially with regard to webcams, microphones, wifi, bluetooth, video cards, efficiency and battery life, etc.

I often speak up for ChromeOS on these things - I use it for my primary personal laptop. Not many people think of it as their first choice, but it can do everything you mentioned just fine, and runs quite well if you buy decent spec hardware. Local OS security is top-notch, and there's a built-in and officially supported Linux that runs command line and X Windows apps. Google is probably tracking you, but at least they're the only ones.

I switched from using a pretty beefy "custom" Linux laptop from System76 to a shitty $300 Chromebook (old laptop was ~4 years old and I started having some trouble with the charging port and headphone jack) and while my expectations were low, I was pleasantly surprised: the experience is much better than expected.

The key thing is, I think, I mostly use my laptop for reading the internet and watching videos in the living room or in bed, or rarely when I go out. I have a top of the line desktop PC for gaming and coding, and Windows 11 has solid SSH and SMB support built right in so with barely any configuration I can access all my files, run whatever (CLI) programs I want, etc. Battery life is much, much better than my old laptop, something like 16+ hours of active use, and, while I'm sure this goes for most recent laptops, USB-C charging is great, because it simplifies cable management so much -- I can charge my phone, laptop, tablet, ereader, all with a single cable (and charge them off of each other if the power's out or whatever).

Probably my only complaint is the default out of the box ChromeOS Linux distro of choice is Debian (and an ancient release, at that), so I've run into some package issues when I try to do anything too interesting. Coming from Arch, Debian feels positively unusable, so I mostly just SSH in to either my VPS or my Windows PC if I need to do anything "serious".

I wouldn't be able to use a Chromebook as my only PC. But as, basically, a web browser/YouTube machine with a keyboard, it's great. I'm not sure what black magic optimization they've done to get Chrome with a hundred tabs running about as well as it does on my 13900k desktop, on this piddly i3-10110U chip, but it works. Best part is the price: I basically do not give a shit if it breaks or gets stolen or whatever, as I could easily get a replacement for 1/4 the cost of a decent mid-range laptop.

I don't think I could use a ChromeOS device as my only PC either. But I've been surprised that the list of things I want to do on a primary PC that I can't do on it is pretty short. Web browsing is nice of course, but so is programming in any language I've used, messing with Docker images and K8s admin, most CLI and Linux tools work fine, etc.

The $300-range practical devices can be nice, but personally, I'm too turned off by the low quality screens and performance compromises. I got a somewhat pricier one with a nice screen and pretty decent performance. But at least there are plenty of options at all levels of performance and quality now.

The combo of first-party desktop environment with officially supported everything and best-in-class security, plus an officially supported full Linux environment where everything works, is pretty competitive in the current laptop market.

I've always had good luck with corporate lease-returns on this -- a two y.o. lenovo, hp, dell, whatever with mid-spec should do you just fine and is usually ~1/3 the price of brand new.

Any recommendations for vendors of these?

I've used ebay in the distant past (look for sellers selling more than a dozen of the same model), a local reseller, and just recently found but haven't used (they have good ratings as a seller on Newegg).

If you mean literally new, I couldn't suggest anything with a price tag that doesn't shock the conscience, and that's mostly out of my wheelhouse anyway. But none of the tasks you've listed have appreciable performance requirements other than perhaps hardware accelerated AV1 decoding.

So what you can do is find a used Dell/HP/Lenovo business (not consumer!) laptop with an i5-1135g7 (barely slower than the i7 and considerably cheaper) and at least one user-replaceable RAM slot, such as this Thinkpad, and upgrade the RAM to 16 GiB. I think^1 you should be able to drop in a single 8 GiB SO-DIMM to get dual channel. The i5 was usually paired with only 8 GiB which is too little unless you have extremely minimalist browser tab hygiene, and also OEMs have an unfortunate habit of leaving 1 memory channel unpopulated, which halves your memory bandwidth. But buying laptop RAM on the open market is way cheaper than the price difference between i5 and i7 models.

  1. Just linked for the documentation. Buying RAM 1st party is pointless and expensive. Probably should go 1st party for batteries, though.

Probably should go 1st party for batteries, though

I'm almost certain this is the proximate cause of me needing a new laptop. Lesson learned.

Any random laptop will work, I would go to the Linux Mint wiki if they have one and look for the most compatible laptop model. I think Dell and Thinkpad laptops are usually a safe bet, but double-check specific model to be sure.